Friday, June 27, 2008

Some guys have all the luck

And some guys have all the heart. Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, stepped down today from his roles with Microsoft to concentrate on his charity, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Microsoft has been struggling with how to compete with search engine giant, Google, and how to market Zune over Apple's music player, the iPod.

One thing is for sure, Bill Gates will always be a staple in this industry as not only a man who had a large hand in how we operate on a daily basis - but also will be known as a man who wasn't afraid to admit some of his products weren't the best (Vista, anyone?).

However, no one can dispute how the third-richest man in the world stepping down off of his thrown to do charity is not a great strategy for both Microsoft and his charity.

Best of luck.


Helping create the next generation of business professionals

I recently volunteered as a “marketing consultant” for the 2008 Ohio Business Week (OBW) program at Youngstown State University. This is by 5th year participating in the program that will shape the next generation of business professionals. So what is OBW?

Ohio Business Week (OBW) is a weeklong summer program that brings a diverse group of high school students and established members of the business community together to translate textbook business principles into “real world” business practices. Since 1988 OBW has given more than 5,000 high school students the opportunity to experience entrepreneurship and explore all facets of business in a way unmatched in the high school setting. By attending OBW, students emerge from OBW with the skills necessary to succeed from the classroom to the boardroom.

Ohio Business Week Foundation Founder Ron Nischwitz was former Major League Baseball pitcher for the Detroit Tigers (’61, ’62, ’65) and the Cleveland Indians (’63) turned entrepreneur, Nischwitz understands the importance of having a fair balance of academics and athletics.

“Today’s youth tend to get caught up in the world of sports and the hype of going pro,” said Nischwitz. “Students need to understand that there is less than a one percent chance for an athlete to make it to the pros. A student is guaranteed success after highs school if they pursue higher education through hands-on learning experiences like Ohio Business Week.”

By attending programs like Ohio Business Week, students can show prospective colleges that they are serious about their education and their future. OBW is not just for business-minded students. The skills taught throughout the week can be used in any profession students choose to pursue after they graduate from college.

During OBW, students are assigned to a “company” with 10-12 other participants. Under the guidance of a loaned business executive, each company brainstorms ideas for an imaginary start-up business venture and embarks on the Emerging Entrepreneur Project (EEP). Each company elects officers; researchers and writes a business, financial and marketing plan; constructs a trade show display; creates a web page/magazine ad and radio/TV commercials.

Participants engage in interactive activities designed to teach fundamental business concepts and assist companies in completing their EEP. At the conclusion of the program educational scholarships are awarded to students who display exceptional leadership, entrepreneurship and community service.

Bruce Felber listens to company pitch

In addition to the EEP, participants attend presentations given by several business professionals. I started my involvement 5 years ago as a presenter on marketing disciplines and example of campaigns. I demonstrated through brainstorming techniques they can create a marketing and promotion plan for their products. Over the last 4 years I donated my time as a “marketing consultant” where the companies present their product or service and engage me on how to market. Many times they just need a push or challenge and other times they need to focus their tactics and campaigns.

Many loaned executives share their business expertise and build awareness about career trends and employment opportunities. Also, participants attend seminars that emphasize financial literacy, business ethics and communications. Finally, participants tour distribution and manufacturing centers to learn how raw materials are manufactured and how manufactured goods reach the marketplace.

I would encourage any parent, teacher, high school student or business executive to look into this wonderful program. Visit for more information. I challenge my colleagues to get involved with OBW or similar programs.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's... a green airplane?

Suspected to arrive to market by year's end this green airplane, runs on electricity, seats two and can be yours for only $133,000. Will Hertz soon be in the Rent-a-Plane business? Read more about what the future holds for the aviation community.

There's a new chief in town

A chief blogger, that is. Larger corporations such as Dell, Coca-Cola and Marriott are now actively recruiting people to tell their company's story via blogging and try and further engage and interact with their consumers. To date, only a little over 11% of Fortune 500 companies have corporate blogs, according to SocialText.

With the rising popularity of the blogs, this figure surprised me some considering how mainstream blogging is becoming. I feel blogging is a way to express personal opinions on topics and be heard even though you are the "little guy" in the industry - this notion is perhaps why more smaller companies are actively blogging.

Can these small companies go out and recruit the chief blogger, just as larger companies have? Sure. Will they? Probably not. Just as in our company's case we are certainly not going to go out and hire a chief blogger, but will I call myself a chief blogger if the situation calls for it? Absolutely.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A marketing match

Today, guest blogger Joe Pulizzi, a fellow NE Ohioan who blogged about Lessons in SEO a few weeks back, launched his marketing match service, Junta42 Match (a service of his website, This service is a free online tool designed for marketing and association professionals looking for custom publishing, post-advertising agencies and other content providers matching specific content marketing project needs.

Curious? Read more or check out Junta42 Match.

Saving electricity at the office

This blog was sent to me by a loyal reader who thought it might be of interest to our Green-conscious readers. Enjoy!

You don't still use a screen saver, do you?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A morning cup of coffee... on the street of NY?

New York City is without a doubt one of the busiest cities in the world. In 2006, Folgers found a way to advertise to the over 8 million people with this creative ad covering manholes. These vinyl stickers were placed over the top of the steaming manholes to resemble a steaming cup of coffee.

Is walking on a cup of steaming coffee going to inspire all 8 million New Yorkers to go buy a cup of coffee? No. Did it inspire at least a few people to have a cup of coffee when normally they wouldn't? Absolutely.

Feel the burn

It has been only a few weeks since FedEx Corp. decided to drop the Kinko's name and go by "FedEx Office" instead in hopes to win more large business customers. What's the cause for this refocus? Gas prices.

Now, UPS is reportedly feeling the same pressures from the slow economy and rising fuel costs. UPS announced yesterday they are cutting their profit outlook in the second quarter in better preparation for what may happen.

In bringing it full circle, according to our survey, when times are troubled for your company, you should spend more on marketing dollars. It will be interesting to see what FedEx Office and UPS will do with marketing in the next few quarters.