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Brandstorming is a team blog written by Jim and Franki Durbin. We like to think of it as our idea playground.
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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Venti Vacancy

Unless you've been hiding under a java plant, you're well aware of yesterday's three-hour Starbucks closing. As soon as I heard of it yesterday morning I called it a publicity stunt. It certainly is the right of a company to pull a stunt like this, let's look at the upside:
  • the threat of inconvenience and (the horror) lack of caffeine likely cause a jump in the daily traffic prior to and after the blackout period (I can tell you that the location we visited in the morning on Tuesday was slammed, as was the parking lot)
  • it makes Schultz and Co. seem truly, deeply interested in the needs of clientele (which in all likelihood is true)
  • Free publicity across every major media outlet for several days (including but not limited to panic-filled man-on-the-street interviews via Fox & Friends yesterday morning, massive blog coverage today...)
Even AdAge posits today, who benefits the most from the closing?
Obviously, the move is meant to prove that Schultz was serious when wanted to remedy perceived ills at the chain. Many long-time fans had been complaining about a drop in quality. It's questionable whether a three-and-a-half hour training session is actually going to improve the skillset of Starbucks employees, but you can bet 20 Duetto Dollars that there will be people sauntering into your office tomorrow swearing that their espresso tastes soooo much better than it did two days ago.
It's good to know I'm not the only one convinced it was a stunt. But I can't say I disapprove of the tactic. Subversive, yes. Below the belt? I think not. Cheaper than a massive ad buy? You bet. Even if you hate Starbucks, you were probably talking about them yesterday - if only to laugh at those panic-stricken New Yorkers they interviewed on Fox News. And hey, if the service or the coffee does improve, won't we all be just a little happier?

Art above courtesy of Coffee-art.com, where barista Karen recreates classic masterpieces using only the finest espresso as her medium of choice. Now that's true passion.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Social Media Club St Louis Meeting

We're live and kicking at the Kaldi's in Kirkwood, and the first thing we notice is that we're going to need a bigger table. Several actually. We've got thirteen people here, maybe more, and it's a broad mix of bloggers, social media professionals, and interactive marketing folks.

I've got the list here, so for those who attended, just copy the html and add it to your page.

Jim Durbin: Brandstorming.com (me)
Franki Durbin: Life In A Venti Cup
Tanner Hobin: TannerHobin
Andrew Nagy: Andrewofnagy.net
Kurt Greenbaum - stltoday.com/vstl
Kristen Munson - socialmediamom.com
Justin Schmidt - justinspeak.com
Lisa Young - jedimom.net
Melody Cissell - news-bitch.com
Todd Jordan - toddjordan.wordpress.com
Reem Abeidoh - www.reemabeidoh.com
Don Krutewicz - donkrutewicz
Angeline Soon - twitter.com/s00nami
Ryan Suther
Howard McAuliffe- StlDevelops.com

Also check out the new site, MidwestBlogs.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Repetition and Its Myriad Woes

I can't turn on the television these days without hearing/seeing one of these commercials. Talk about an ad buy. Any one of a number of these free credit report commercials runs several times an hour it seems. Why do I care? Because the songs won't get out of my head. Certainly this is exactly what the advertiser wants, but it plagues me in the middle of the night if I wake up. It hums in the background of my mind sometimes during the day.

I know what you're thinking... a steady diet of Jay-Z is the cure. And believe me, I'm taking that vaccine to cure what ails me. The thing is, I don't need their services. I'm keeping up on my credit info via other services. My question is this: is the target market as affected by the spots as I am? And what will it take to get these ads off the air. Please... soon... now.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

St Louis Pumpernickel Deli

Franki and I have been indulging. For about a year, we've been talking about going to the Jewish deli that's over in Creve Coeur. You know the one - it's over off Olive, in Creve Coeur, not quite to Spoede, but after CityPlace. What's the name of it?

Pumpernickel, that's it.

Our problem - the timing is never right, and it's closed on Mondays, which was always the day we were over there and hungry.

Two Saturdays ago, we were close, and decided to drop in for brunch (Franki says it's the best in town). I had never been, which is strange, because Creve Coeur and Olivette are two cities I've spent a lot of time in, and you would have figured I'd have gone once in the last 20 years.

So we drove down Olive looking for it. It's right on Schuetz and Olive, on the south side of the street. Pumpernickel's was recently bought, and has been expanded from when Franki saw it last. I didn't know this of course when I sat down and ordered the Killer "B." She got a vegetable omelette.

Wow. That was some good eating. I had French toast made from Challah bread (which is ridiculously good on its own), eggs, beef bacon, potatoes, chicken apple sausage, and a bagel. Franki had that good rye toast that goes so perfectly with an omelette. We were sated, and very pleased. And while there, we had a chance to chat with Jay and Bonnie Silverman who run the restaurant with their teenage kids.

The ambience is great - the food is spectacular, the price is right, and it's nice to see a small business prospering (it's been busy, not too crowded when we went in just a little off the lunch hour). If you're by there, we both recommend it highly.

So we went back last Saturday, and got the same thing. Even better

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Thank You For Attending The HCI Webinar

If you have any further questions or want to contact me, please leave a comment below or send me an e-mail at jdurbin@durbinmedia.com. Feel free to connect to me on LinkedIn.

And if you want to see the video I was talking about (the candidate left alone), head on over to Flektor.

Thanks for listening. I have another webinar coming in March with Shally Steckerl and Margaret Graziano on Future Trends In Recruiting. Hope to see you there!

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Friday Morning Antics

I don't have time to upload a picture, which is too bad, because our cat is the best looking cat I've ever seen, but this morning, Cinder was lying on a bench near our front door.

I walked over to pick up Franki's cell phone to charge it, and he greeted me with a laconic role and stretch. His stretch was so exaggerated, it made him tumble backwards and fall off the bench.

I left the room to give him some privacy, just in case he was embarrassed.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Social Media Headhunter And Social Media Webinar

I'm running a webinar next week for the Human Capital Institute on using Social Media to recruit. I went through the technical rehearsal and my notes today, and can honestly say it's got some rocking information.

We have over 250 people signed up - which is a great start, but it's inspired me to do more in social media recruiting. I went and bought socialmediaheadhunter.com, a domain name that seems long until you realize that Harry Joiner, the marketingheadhunter.com, does very well when people around the US type in "Marketing Headhunter" into Google. Before my site is mapped, it's already number 3 on that list.

I'll be running it with a blog, and will be launching it to friends in the industry next week. Yes, this means I'm dipping my toes back into the recruiting waters. I envision the site, and the recruiting practice, to be part of Durbin Media. I train corporate bloggers and I execute social media plans, and most of the time the problem is a lack of personnel. It's a nice fit with our existing offerings.

More on this next week, but if you are in social media and want to work with a top-notch recruiter who understand the industry, or if you are a company looking to hire someone to run your social media campaigns, I'm going to be one of the few people in the country with the expertise to find you the right candidate. And you can find me at SocialMediaHeadhunter.com next week.

I wonder if there are any other social media recruiters out there, staffing firms or executive search firms that focus exclusively on bloggers, community managers, and social media marketers? I know there aren't any in St. Louis, which seems like a good bet for cornering the market early. More next week. Drop me a line if you're curious, or if you write about it. I'd be happy to reciprocal link people who helped me promote a site for hiring social media candidates.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Starbucks Getting Better And Better

I bought a Grande Half-Caf Non-Fat four Splenda latte yesterday, and something struck me. I haven't had a bad espresso drink from Starbucks in several months. Come to think about it, outside of that trip to Las Vegas, I haven't had a bad Starbucks coffee in so long, I can't remember the last time I got a bitter coffee.

Something has changed. I racked my brain, and realized that something was missing from the Starbucks experience. The familiar thwack thwack of a friendly barista has been replaced by something else. A machine.

For just a brief moment, I was heartbroken. There's something really nice about knowing each drink is hand made by a specialist. At the same time, when a store is busy, there's nothing worse than getting a bitter coffee because an employee didn't have time to wipe out the espresso cup or grinder. I settled. I much prefer the consistency of the coffee to the pleasure of knowing my coffee was hand-made.

hmmm. I feel like I should be disturbed, but I'm not.

Speaking of Starbucks - good news for the Durbin Media Group. We spent the money on an AT&T landline and DSL when we opened our office in Ladue. With that service comes free AT&T Wifi. From Techdirt, we get the announcement that Starbucks will be adding AT&T WiFi to their stores, which means free access for us (using our AT&T/SBC password).

Sweet. Especially when we travel, this will be a nice convenience.

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It's My Ce**al In A Box, Girl

Rohit, one of my favorite marketing bloggers, points us to a series of viral videos in introducing a new Ogilvy video pushing Honey Bunches of Oats. I played the video, hoping for great results, but I think the video is missing something. Maybe because it's only 6:30, and that's a little early for this kind of humor, but I think the video is a bit too derivative.

It's "Tea Partay" meet's SNL's "D*ck in a Box." Way too many crude jokes in a short period of time, and when you're talking about cereal instead of alcohol or Justin Timberlake, the jokes seem telegraphed. When you wake up in the morning with a big surprise, you know it's bowl of cereal. And masticating is an old joke - I literally heard it back in middle school.

The video is clever, and the production quality is great, and I completely sympathize with the makers. It's hard to do stuff like this. There's a fine line between funny and cheesy, and I don't know if I could do better. It does show how hard it is to manufacture viral success. Take heart, Ogilvy. SNL had to do thousands of videos to get a few hits. For every Cowbell or Narnia, there's hundreds of Massive Headwound Harrys and Toonces the Driving Cats.

For more on the Early Dawn Knights and the video, check out IMadeYouBreakfastInBed.com. If you disagree, and dig the video, feel free to leave a comment or send me a link with your review.

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Reality Bites

This is definitely my favorite campaign running right now. There's something very 'every man' about watching this guy struggle to leave the perfect 'morning after the first date' voicemail. It's painful to watch, because he could be your sister's boyfriend, your brother, your brother-in-law. He just seems so familiar, and the spots are done with such a genuine tone. I just love them. These T-Mobile commercials are so TiVo-proof for me, that I end up rewinding them to see it again. That's good.

Be sure to see this one too.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Durbin Media Group Looking For Interns

We posted this job description for interns at Maryville, Webster, and Wash U. If you think you might be interested, contact us. We're looking for a group of 3 or 4 to put through a training class, and work on a number of social media projects. The ones who really take to it, we'll hire as social media consultants for our clients.

The Intern Description:

Durbin Media Group is an interactive marketing firm located in Ladue. We specialize in social media marketing, web design, and online marketing campaigns. We are one of the first, and the most successful new media marketing firm in St. Louis, and we’re looking for interns and part-time help to bring blogging, social networks, and social media campaigns to our clients.

Our goal is simple. We’re looking for bright college students interested in marketing, public relations, corporate communications, political campaigns, and sales who want to learn how to use the explosion in consumer generated media to help businesses connect with their clients and customers.

Our needs are growing, but our supply of talent is limited. It takes several months to train a social media marketer in what we do, and we’re currently looking for interns willing to learn the business, and if successful to pick up part-time work writing and blogging for our clients.

Dedicated Blogger’s Responsibilities:
1) write three-to five relevant posts a week for a single client
2) Leave 10-15 relevant comments on blogs and forums relating to your client.
3) Connect with online community using e-mail, IM, and phone calls.
3) Monitor the online conversation about your client.
4) Provide reports on activity, online monitoring, and suggestions for new programs.

Dedicated Blogger’s Requirements:
1) Mastery of the Typepad, Wordpress, or Blogger software (we train)
2) Search Engine Experts (we train0
3) Curiousity about social media and the commercial applications of social networks
4) Excellent writing skills for short posts 2-4 paragraphs in length.
5) Understanding of online video, podcasts, and social networks like MySpace and Facebook
6) Passion for the online world.

Durbin Media Group will train a group of students on the basics of social media, and take on 3-4 unpaid interns interested in practicing blogging and working their way to a paid position with Durbin Media. Paid positions will be 10-20 hours per month with positions paying $10-$20 an hour, depending on the project and client.

Durbin Media Group uses only white hat social media methods, which means all posts, blogs, comments, and strategies are authentic and transparent. We don’t use fake blogs, fake comments, ghost writing, or attempts to fool the public. To apply, forward an e-mail to info@durbinmedia with the subject, _COLLEGE_ Internship
Include in the e-mail:
1) any url’s of online writing examples
2) blogs you currently write, or
3) two sample posts, 2-4 paragraphs in length, on the topic of social media. It’s suggested you use a search engine to write a relevant topic with links included.

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Society Of Marketing Professionals Event In St Louis

Franki and I received a direct mail piece for a SMP seminar on Search Engine Marketing. The event, which will be at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in St Louis on February 27th, is an all-day event covering topics like PPC (pay-per-click), Search Engine Optimization, Online Marketing, and Organic SERP improvement.

All good stuff, and if you're in this field, especially if you're in a company, I strongly urge you to attend and pick up information on how the online world affects your marketing, your brand, and your reputation.

But...it's sad, disappoin, interesting that use of blogs, social media, newssites, and social networks isn't included. I wonder if this is because the SMP experts don't know how to use blogs and social newssites to improve their SEO, or if they're afraid of talking about blogs because they know that a company that blogs can cut their budget for PPC and SEO.

That's right. If you're spending money on PPC or SEO firms, and not on blogs, you're spending too much for too little.

Search Engine Optimization has changed. After writing good code for your site, there's little you can do in the actual site to actually "optimize" your site. The tricks to improving your site can almost all be found using bookmarking sites, blogs, social newssites (Digg-like sites in an industry), badges, contests, and a whole host of social media campaigns that don't get mentioned.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not knocking SEO or PPC vendors. I know several and would recommend them to clients and friends without hesitation for projects and industries that best fit them. But if you are learning about online marketing, and you don't understand how blogs affect the results, you're only getting half the story.

If you're looking into search engine marketing in St Louis, the event put on by SMP is a good one to go to. If you want to know how you can spend less to get more in the online world, you need to go to a blogger.

From Marianne Richmond's links today, we see another search engine marketing expert saying the same thing. Search Engine Optimization today is all about social media. Much of what is still being sold in the marketplace is ineffective, or at least it's less effective than learning and participating in social media. If you're spending $500 a month or more on SEO in St Louis without a social media campaign, you're spending it in the wrong place. And if you disagree, you're welcome to leave comments or post on your blog. I'm up for the conversation.

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Friday, February 01, 2008

College Student Uses Blog To Get Hired

From Secrets of the Job Hunt, we have the exciting story of Andrew Cafourek, a University of Missouri student who used a blog in California to land a job with a marketing firm in St Louis. Andrew is a regular reader of Jeremiah Owyang, a Forrester analyst who covers social media marketing. I've met Jeremiah, and follow his work closely, as he is one of the people at the forefront of my industry.

Andrew decided to leave comment at this post, asking for help in his job search. Lisa Young, an St Louis employee of Outrider (and blogger), saw Andrew's comment and reached out to him. The result was an interview, a job offer, and an acceptance. Andrew starts Monday.This is not that surprising, as it's basically the principles of networking that recruiters use each day. What's different is that blogs are considered trustworthy sources by candidates and recruiters alike. Jeremiah's blog is a great place to find people interested in social media marketing. It's a targeted community, one where you would expect to find social media employees.

And in this case, it just so happens that a California blog helped a Missouri college student land a job in St Louis. What will your story be?

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