Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Business Lessons We Can Learn from the Super Bowl Teams

By Matt Valentine

Like many Americans I am a huge fan of the NFL and with the Super Bowl less then two weeks away am getting swept up in all the hype surrounding the game. As I was looking at the matchup between the two Super Bowl bound teams (the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts on the off chance you don’t already know) and thinking about what made them so successful this seasons I began to realize that the elements that make a football team successful are the same elements that make a business successful. So, obviously I had to write about it because that’s what I get paid to do!

Strong Leadership

Excellent leadership is essential for success on the gridiron and in the board room.

Look at the two teams headed to the Super Bowl. What do they have in common?  Give up? Ok I’ll tell you, they both have great front offices, great coaches, great quarterbacks, and great players in key positions. In essence their leadership both on and off the field, enabled them to reach their ultimate goal.

Businesses are no different. They are built from the top down. Devoid of great leaders a business, like a football team, is sure to suffer. Case in point, in 2000 a man named Jeff Zucker took over the entertainment programming for NBC. Back then NBC was number one. Today, well, we know how that story goes…

Strong Foundations

“Building a football team is just like building a house…it starts with a foundation. And the foundation of a strong football team starts with those in the trenches”.  A pretty apt quote if you ask me, especially if you replace the word business for football team.

The Colts and Saints both have excellent offensive and defensive lines, referred to as the men in the trenches. It is their hard work that allows the stars behind them to shine, and this can ultimately determine the outcome of the game.

The importance of these players is often overlooked and the same can be said about the business world. The people in the trenches, the people making the cold calls, handling customer complaints, dealing with technical issues etc. are really the ones who determine how brightly a business does or does not “shine”.

An incredibly wise man once told a story of two men who were building a house. The first built his house on a pile of sand, and it was destroyed as soon as the storm hit. But the second is known as the wise man, for when “…the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house…it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.”

When the recession hit and the storm descended the foundations of every business were tested. Those built on sand collapsed. Those built on a rock are sill standing.

Preparation and Evaluation

Ask Peyton Manning or Drew Brees how they are able to execute so well on game day and they will answer that successful execution lies in preparation and evaluation. They study film constantly. They learn everything they can about their opponents in order to expose their weaknesses. And, perhaps most importantly they study themselves. They evaluate each mistake they made and they look for ways to correct them. 

Preparation and evaluation is essential for successful execution in business as well. How prepared are you to meet challenges from your competitors, your clients, or outside factors like the economy? How often do you evaluate your company and look for mistakes that are being made and how you can fix them? 

Obviously as a business we don’t have film to study, but utilizing the resources we do have available is vital to executing our game plane each and every day. 

Finding, Retaining and Utilizing Talent

Another important lesson we can learn from these two teams is their ability to recognize, retain and utilize talent.

Finding superstar talent, keeping that talent and utilizing that talent effectively is a big reason why these two teams are in the enviable position they are in.

If you find superstar talent you must keep them! Think about how important Peyton Manning is to the Colts. Without him they would simply not be in the Super Bowl. Now, look around your office and think about where your company would be without your superstar talent. As a business you’re not playing for a Super Bowl, but you are playing for profits. Allowing a superstar to become a “free agent” could have disastrous effects on your bottom line.

Some people have astonishing talent waiting to be unleashed if they are just given the proper outlet. Reggie Bush for example, the Saints running back, is an extraordinary talent who struggled with his role early on in his career. Eventually Head Coach Sean Payton found better ways to utilize Bush’s’ talent and he’s a big reason why the Saints are on the cusp of their first Super Bowl title.

Just because an employee is underperforming in their current role doesn’t mean they are useless. You’d be surprised how often talented people have been let go only to go on to a have tremendous success with a different company. Recognizing the talents your employees do have and finding the best way to utilize that talent can play a major factor in your businesses success.

So, those are the lessons I think we can take away from these Super Bowl teams. Any I missed?

P.S. Go Saints!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

How to Turn Your Commute into Profits for your Business!

Part of our daily experience is the commute to and from work. Right now that experience is taking money out of our pockets when we could be using it as an opportunity to put money in our pockets!

A Gallup Poll taken in 2007 showed that on average American workers report spending 46 minutes commuting to and from work.

In addition, gas prices continue to rise and are predicted to keep rising throughout 2010 and into 2011. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) an increase in oil prices are expected, to “increase retail prices for regular-grade gasoline to an annual average of $2.84 per gallon in 2010 and $2.96 per gallon in 2011. The average 2009 price was $2.35 per gallon. Diesel prices will increase to an average of $2.98 per gallon in 2010 and $3.14 per gallon in 2011.Pump prices are likely to pass $3 per gallon at some point during the upcoming spring and summer,” the EIA said in its forecast.

We all know what that means, more money coming out of our pocket just to get to and from work.

However, there is a solution and a way to actually generate sales for your business or company while you are making your daily commute…and that solution is vehicle wrap advertising.

Simply put, vehicle wrap advertising is the most cost-effective, and the most visually powerful form of advertising that exists today.

A recent poll shows that:
  • 90% of travelers notice graphics on wrapped vehicles
  • 75% of consumers form impressions about a company based
  • on the fleet graphics
  • 30% of consumers base buying decisions on impressions they
  • receive from company vehicles.

With workers spending as much time as they do on the road and with the proven effectiveness of vehicle wrap advertising, why waste a great opportunity to get your business in front of thousands of potential costumers every single day?

A study done by 3M found that a business would have to spend over $130,000 in television ads to generate equivalent annual impressions of a $3,500 vehicle wrap.

When you decide to wrap your vehicle you are guaranteed to make an impression. How big of an impression? How about 30,000 to 70,000 every single day! And that translates to profits for your business. Studies have shown that the vehicle wrap has increased the sales of advertisement in the range of 107%.

Smart business owners recognize a sound investment. If traditional methods of advertising have failed your business look to alternate forms of advertising like vehicle wraps.

Matt Valentine is the Marketing Manager at KDF Reprographics, Inc. providers of Large Format Printing, Vehicle Wraps, Fleet Graphics, Color Scanning, Posters, Banners and Trade Show Displays. To contact Matt or setup an interview please call 888-533-2667 or visit our website @ . If you like our posts become a fan on Facebook or follow us on Twitter 

The Top 3 Reasons to Purchase a Vehicle Wrap

1. Traditional Advertising is Less Effective Then Ever Before

Newspapers, television, radio, the Yellow Pages were all once an integral part to spreading your businesses message. But, with today’s fragmented audience these methods off advertising are simply no longer effective.

- According to Arbitron only 1 out of 3 people read a daily newspaper
- Ohio-based BIGresearch found that just 1in 20 people actually watch TV commercials
- Bill Gates stated: "The Yellow Pages are going to be used less and less... These things always take time, but Yellow Page usage among people, say, below 50, will drop to zero - near zero - over the next five years."
- Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA) advertisers must buy deep (multiple stations and formats) to accumulate audience reach of over 50%, offsetting the cost effectiveness of radio if the target is a large, broad group of consumers.

2. A Vehicle Wrap is the Most Cost Effective Form of Advertising

It’s a fact. Wrapping your vehicle is the most cost effective way to reach your intended audience. A vehicle wrap done by a professional and knowledgeable company costs about $3,500 and can last up to 5 years. That’s just $700 a year for advertising that cannot be avoided or ignored.

Statistics have shown that a well designed vehicle wrap can generate up 70,000 impressions per day. That’s more then 25,000,000 impressions a year! At that rate the average vehicle wrap costs just $0.77 per thousand impressions. Compared with other forms of media nothing comes close to the cost effectiveness of a vehicle wrap.

Type of Media
Cost Per Thousand Impressions
Television- Top 100 Markets- 30 Second Spot
$17.78 per CPM

Newspaper-Top 100 Markets- One Third Page, Black and White Ad

$22.95 per CPM

Magazine Publications- 4 Color, One Page Ad

$9.35 per CPM

Radio- Top 100 Markets- 60 Second Drive Time Ad

$8.61 per CPM


$2.18 per CPM

Vehicle Wrap
$0.77 per CPM

3. A Vehicle Wrap Works!

96% of survey respondents said vehicle wraps method of mobile advertising is more effective than advertising through traditional methods

91% of the people surveyed by the American Trucking Association (ATA) reported that they DO NOTICE words and pictures on vehicles.

75% reported that they developed an IMPRESSION of the company based on the vehicle graphics.

30% of all consumers base their buying decisions on impressions they receive from company vehicles

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

5 Sites Your Small Business Must Be On

By Matt Valentine

These days every small business needs a strong online presence if they intend to remain competitive and available to their customers. We all know the Internet can be an overwhelming place and trying to determine exactly where you should be investing your resources to increase your online presence can be a tricky and time consuming task. These five sites should help you to narrow your focus and are a great way to increase your small businesses online presence.

For Customer Feedback:
Yelp serves many functions for a small business. First it gives your customers (hopefully happy ones) a great outlet to share their experiences with your business. Second, it allows business owners to share their information with consumers.

Yelp also let’s business owners respond to customer reviews both positive and negative. I shouldn’t have to tell you that you are walking a fine line when responding to any review especially the negative ones, but Yelp helps by offering a guideline on how to respond to every situation.

According to yelp over 26 million users came to the site in November 2009. Yelp has continued to grow and expand its reach since its inception in July 2004. With such a high number of people turning to Yelp for finding the services they need, your business cannot afford to miss out on this opportunity. Not to mention that Yelp is 100% free (though they do offer paid advertising services) so you literally have nothing to lose.

For Networking:

There are a number of reasons you should be using LinkedIn and chief among them is the powerful networking capabilities the site provides.

LinkedIn allows you to stay in touch with colleagues and friends and keeps you updated on their career paths.

LinkedIn is also a great resource for resolving issues that may be outside your ability to handle. LinkedIn Answers and Groups can be utilized to seek out expert advice to resolve any issues troubling your business.

Furthermore, LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to get introduced to leaders in your industry through your connections. If you have a friend on LinkedIn who’s connected to someone you wish was your client or someone who would be a valuable resource for your business,  LinkedIn provides the tools necessary to connect with these people.

For Interacting with Customers:

Social Media sites like Twitter and Facebook give businesses something they’ve never had before; a forum for interacting with consumers in real time.

Facebook and Twitter give your customers a human face to interact with and make your business much more personal. If properly utilized (Social media strategy will be discussed in a future post so check back) social media sites can turn customers into brand advocates and consequently increase your revenue.

For Getting Found Locally:

Not so much a site as it as a free service. Google maps local business center allows you to place a listing for your business to appear on Google Maps. If someone in your area is using Google to search for a product or service that your business provides your listing will appear on Google Maps.

You can also create coupons, display videos and pictures and keep customers informed of your current address, phone number, and hours of operation.

Google Maps Local Business Center recently introduced a reporting dashboard where you can access valuable information like where your customers came from and what they search for to find you.

For Blogging:

If you don’t have a blog you should stop reading this and go and create one immediately.

Blogs provide an additional outlet to reach out customers, give a resource to provide added value, can position you as an expert in your industry and give consumers another way to find your business online.

There are numerous reasons to choose WordPress as your blogging platform.

First, it is the simplest blogging software. It is easy to install, configure and work with.

Second, it has an excellent support structure. There are thousands of volunteers who will help you solve any issues you have with the software, as well as numerous blogs and sites dedicated solely to WordPress itself.

Third, it is highly customizable with thousands of themes, and plugins to enhance your blog.

Finally, it is incredibly SEO friendly. In essence WordPress does all the heavy lifting for you and allows you to focus on link building, visitor loyalty and ad or product conversions.

Join the discussion and let us know what you think about these sites and any other sites you feel would be beneficial for small businesses.

Matt Valentine is the Marketing Manager at KDF Reprographics, Inc. providers of Large Format Printing, Vehicle Wraps, Fleet Graphics, Color Scanning, Posters, Banners and Trade Show Displays. To contact Matt or setup an interview please call 888-533-2667 or visit our website @ . If you like our posts become a fan on Facebook or follow us on Twitter 

Thursday, January 7, 2010

5 Emerging Trends for 2010

By Matt Valentine 

I am clever. You can tell because the title of this article rhymes. I am also trendy which means I have been the victim of some pretty terrible movements in fashion, hair, you name it. I had a bowl cut back in ’95, I owned cargo pants from Old Navy in ’98 (which I am going to resurrect in 2010), I was Emo for a week back in 2000, of course I became metro sexual for about a month in 2005, until my girlfriend broke up with me for taking too long to get ready. 

The point is I like to stay on top of trends. And now that I am a young businessman I try to focus my energy on emerging trends in the business world, instead of trends that make me look like a fool (although some of these may make me look foolish if they don’t pan out, but by then whose going to remember I wrote this?). So, with all kidding aside here is what I think the emerging business trends of 2010 will be.

Going Mobile-
Smartphone’s are pretty trendy right now (yep, I said it) one of the few trends that I actually don’t regret getting involved with. And that’s just it. With more and more people using iPhones, Androids, Blackberry’s etc. marketers are going to be targeting us where they know they can reach us and that’s on our phones. Expect to see businesses both large and small rolling out a slew of mobile targeted marketing campaigns.

Soon your text inbox may be inundated with coupons, updates, announcements etc. Will it get annoying? Probably, just take a look at some of the things you have in the spam folder of your e-mail, but it will happen for better or worse.

Social media will continue to expand into the mobile market in 2010 as well. Expect to see some updated mobile versions of your favorite social media apps in 2010 so you can follow all of Ashton Kutcher's important tweets like: 'Watching my wife steam my suit while wearing a bikini. I love God!' Seriously, why is this guy the most followed person on Twitter? In fact, have you ever looked at the top ten most followed people on Twitter (and you can here ? It reads like a who's who of people with nothing important to say. Barack Obama at #4...who is that guy?

Hyper Local-

Everything from news to business advertising will be going hyper local in 2010. As regional newspapers and news outlets begin to feel the fallout from layoffs and cutbacks a void is going to be left behind and that void will be filled by hyper local news portals. As that trend begins to emerge along with it will come hyper local advertising.

A good example is something called PlaceLocal developed by PaperG. According to PaperG’s website, PlaceLocal is, “a local ad platform that can automatically build a stunning, customized online ad for any local business.”

Basically, PlaceLocal will build the ad for you and run your ad on well known websites in your area. You have the option to upload your own ad, or edit the ad PlaceLocal created. Expect to see many small businesses utilizing local ad providers like PlaceLocal in 2010 to promote their business.

Staying at Home-

Thankfully, I am gainfully employed, (you don’t think I just write these magnificent articles for fun do you?) but many Americans (about 10%) are not and even more have had to take reduced wages and reduced hours as businesses are still reeling from the economic recession.

Many have taken this unwelcome free time to turn themselves into entrepreneurs, or more accurately homepreneur, a word someone just made up. According to the SBA (Small Business Association) half of all small business are home-based and according to me, due to the ease of technology and relatively low costs, that figure will continue to rise in 2010. 

Waving Goodbye to E-mail-

I’ve said it before here @, but 2010 could truly see the death of e-mail as Google introduces Google Wave (I told you I was clever; see heading). Google Wave is currently in a preview stage and is accepting new users by invitation only. Invitations are limited to 8 per person so if you know anyone on it and really want to see what Google Wave is all about ask them for an invitation. Better yet, if you help spread this article around and make me look good I’ll send you one of my coveted invitations. I won’t go into all the details of Wave in this article as I have already done that previously so feel free to check out the other link.

Going Green-

Going green has been trendy for a while now. How could it not be with a dynamic spokesman like Al Gore? Despite recent controversy surrounding the global warming issue businesses and consumers alike are still embracing the green movement. This will lead to new opportunities for small business entrepreneurs as businesses shift to sustainable business practices, products and services in 2010 and beyond.

Matt Valentine is the Marketing Manager at KDF Reprographics, Inc. providers of Large Format Printing, Vehicle Wraps, Fleet Graphics, Color Scanning, Posters, Banners and Trade Show Displays. To contact Matt or setup an interview please call 888-533-2667 or visit our website @ or you can become a fan on Facebook @ or follow us on Twitter @