Blog Articles

Cyber Monday Success

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For an e-commerce company, Cyber Monday is a big deal. This past Monday was my first Cyber Monday experience with and it was a rousing success. However, the real results of this two-pronged attack may not even be realized until early 2014. Why is that you ask? Allow me to explain…

Deal: Buy any standard retail bobblehead and receive a FREE $20 e-gift card.

Details: Gift card (coupon code) is good for custom bobblehead purchases starting January 1, 2014.

Reasoning: We’re always looking to get rid of our standard retail bobbleheads like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson etc. On the other hand, we’re more than busy enough (more importantly the factory is busy enough) with custom bobblehead orders this time of year for Christmas. Unfortunately, we experience a huge drop in custom business early in the new year. This gift card serves as a way to spur Q1 2014 sales. Aside from receiving the e-gift card via email, Cyber Monday customers will also receive a scheduled follow-up email on January 1st reminding them to take advantage of the discount. Most people have January 1st off anyways and they’re looking for something to do. Why not encourage them to build their own bobblehead? The promotion kills two birds with one stone.

Marketing/Promotion Channels:

  • Social media posts on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, and Tumblr.
  • Blog post on the Bobblehead Blog.
  • Press release announcing promotion.
  • Homepage highlight graphics and separate landing pages for both and
  • Email newsletters sent to both customer lists early Monday morning announcing the promotion.

Compared to Cyber Monday 2012, here are the results: ORDERS UP 39% REVENUE UP 14%

Again, the real goal here is improving Q1 2014 custom bobblehead sales. That’s where the real revenue exists. Time will tell but we’ve planted the seed for a prosperous 2014!


Content Evolution: Blog to PowerPoint to Video

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People consume content in a variety of ways. This process I developed (I’m probably not the first) takes one piece of content and converts it for use on different platforms. In this case, it helps build your blog, SlideShare profile, and YouTube channel. Follow the evolution here:

Blog Post

*This article was originally posted to the Bobblehead Blog on September 6, 2013. | View Post

Marketing Lessons from Dodgers’ Magic Johnson ‘Bobblehead Hunt’ Promotion

The Los Angeles Dodgers are hitting homeruns left and right with their bobblehead promotions. Last week everyone was talking about the RickMonday ‘flag saving’ bobblehead giveaway. This week, the club has announced a new promotion associated with Magic Johnson Bobblehead Night coming up on September 12th against the Giants. They’re calling it the “#MeetMagic Scavenger Hunt.”

Here are the details for the contest from the Dodgers website:

Want to meet sports legend, and Dodgers owner, Magic Johnson? Here’s your chance! Each day at 2 pm, @Dodgers will release clues on Twitter about the location of hidden Magic Johnson Bobbleheads across Southern California. Be the first to arrive at the spot and correctly answer a trivia question, and you could win two suite tickets to the game and a meet and greet with Magic Johnson. Participants must follow @Dodgers on Twitter in order to be eligible to win.

This promotional contest is a win on so many levels. First, it plays off the skyrocketing popularity of bobblehead giveaways. Second, it does a great job of engaging fans through social media by releasing clues on Twitter. Finally, the Dodgers are spreading the wealth locally. By hiding an autographed Magic Johnson at seven different southern California locales over a seven day period, they’re getting community establishments involved and stimulating the local economy. This isn’t just a Dodgers promotion; it’s now a community promotion. It’s a smart, benevolent move by the organization.

Companies should take advantage of this marketing blueprint that emphasizes custom bobbleheads, social media promotion, and community outreach. Whether you’re part of a global corporation or small business, two primary marketing goals are audience growth and engagement. The Dodgers bobblehead promotion accomplishes both of those objectives in a fun and entertaining way. Be creative and think outside the box. The “Bobblehead Hunt” concept works well for local promotions, in-store contests, tradeshows, company retreats, and more.

Right now you’re probably thinking:

  • My company doesn’t have the same lofty status and enormous following of a major league baseball team.
  • My company doesn’t have an iconic mascot or famous employee whose custom bobblehead would be recognized outside the office.

If this is the case, consider sponsoring a bobblehead for local teams or famous personalities. For example, Keck Medical Center of USC is sponsoring Magic Johnson Bobblehead Night. It’s practically the equivalent of a celebrity endorsement. Corporate-sponsored custom bobbleheads represent an excellent branding opportunity. Theses figures, including your company’s logo and message, will end up on the bookshelves, mantles, and office desks of decision makers. Think of it as free promotion for your products or services on prime advertising real estate.

Improve marketing results, grow your audience, and engage consumers by visiting

SlideShare PowerPoint

YouTube Video

Blog: Securing the Device or the Data?

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*Originally posted to The IMF Blog on January 23, 2013. | View Post

We have a Web Forum coming up tomorrow on how to manage telecom in-house from an enterprise perspective. I’m anxious to hear what Jennifer has to say on the matter and what tips she provides the group but for some reason it got me to thinking about mobile device management (MDM) and security. BYOD was banging on the door pretty loud in 2012 but analysts seem to agree it’s going to bust the door down in 2013. IT shops need an efficient and effective way of managing and securing this abundance of devices. So what’s the solution?

Every time I wade out into this area of the pool I’m reminded of Adrian Gardner’s presentation at a forum of ours last year on “Building a Future-Ready Digital Government.” Mr. Gardner, CIO for NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, brought up an interesting question:

Should we be more worried about securing the information or the devices themselves?

He obviously acknowledged you want to secure both but his point is where the emphasis should lie for IT and the organization. A comprehensive enterprise mobility policy needs to be created in order to cover all bases (at least as many as possible).

MDM chart

While a lot of companies have yet to deploy any kind of MDM offering, many are evaluating the field for potential 2013 deployments. Vendors like Good, MobileIron, Airwatch, and MaaS360 offer viable MDM tools with similar capabilities but their own unique spin. Some analysts argue MDM is already a dying industry but many will counter by saying its simply evolving and shifting focus towards mobile application management (MAM). For now though, MDM should be an integral part of your enterprise mobile strategy.

User awareness is another important area because a lot of mobile security mishaps can be attributed to operator error. For instance, downloading a bad app or clicking on malware laden email can easily compromise corporate data. Employees need to be educated on the latest mobile security threats. I’m not talking about a once a year classroom session with a simple PPT saying “this is bad and that is bad.” IT, HR, Legal and whoever else needs to be onboard and continuously informing personnel of the dangers and risks these attacks pose on the company.

Ultimately, as Mr. Gardner alluded to at our meeting, it all comes down to securing the company’s data. That should be the #1 priority and it shouldn’t just be an IT objective. We’re talking about the organization’s data as a whole. All business units need to come together and collaborate for a solution. However, this is a great opportunity for IT to show its leadership chops and make a statement on their value to the organization. I read and hear a lot about IT not being respected enough or included in the big decisions blah, blah, blah. Well this mobile security initiative is about as big as they come because any kind of data leak could land a company in the front page headlines or lead story on CNN. They say any publicity is good publicity but in this case I’d have to disagree.

How does your company handle its MDM? Do you have an enterprise mobility policy in place? If not, is that a priority in 2013? Lastly, how would you answer Mr. Gardner’s question about securing the device or the data?

Additional Reading

5 BYOD Risks and How to Manage Them (eSecurity Planet)

Is Mobile Device Management Dead? (Virtualization Review)

Spotlight on Mobile Device Management (IT World)

Why Mobile Device Management isn’t Enough (Information Week)

Blog Article: Take a Page from Marketing’s Playbook, Bring in an IT Marketing Manager

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*Originally published for The IMF Blog on April 17, 2013 | View Post

With our Web Forum on marketing IT services within the enterprise coming up next Thursday, I thought I’d take some time to talk about the issue at hand. As much as organizations like to believe they’re a collaborative bunch, many still operate in silo-mode. As anyone can attest to who works in this kind of environment, it often results in communication problems and business unit isolation.

When isolated as such, a business unit tends to look out for themselves first and not the business. So you have multiple business units trying to gain stakeholder attention and secure funding, resources, etc. In order to gain influence and that highly sought after “seat at the table,” you’ve got to communicate the value of your services to the enterprise.

Unfortunately, this can be a bit of a struggle for many IT departments. IT orgs these days are considered more of “keep the lights on” kind of expense whereas Sales, Marketing, DevOps, etc. are the sexy revenue generators. Who do you think is going to receive more attention from C-level execs in this scenario? Employees generally associate IT with help desks and outages. The other departments bring in new business and put exciting new applications into the marketplace. Clearly IT needs a perception makeover if it wants to attract executive commitment and company dollars.

This brings us to our next problem. Unlike sales and marketing, there’s no lack of introverts in the IT realm. Shocking, I know. Even the CIO, who should hold a lot of authority, power, and influence within the enterprise, has to take a backseat to other C-level execs in some cases. I think this has more to do with communication than a lack of respect for IT though as many would have you believe.

A lot of CIO’s still speak in the most technical of terms to their corporate counterparts when expressing what should be done or what can be accomplished from an IT perspective. This type of behavior shouldn’t surprise anyone. CIO’s typically rise through the IT ranks speaking nothing but technical jargon. It’s become habit and you cannot expect them to simply turn it off. However, 98% of the business doesn’t understand technical jargon so they’re really just spinning their wheels and driving IT further into the depths of obscurity.

So we’ve established two things here:

  1. IT has to communicate value if it wants a piece of the pie
  2. IT leaders, managers, and even the CIO often have trouble projecting how their goals and services complement the business

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” In order to solve this problem, why not steal a page from Sales/Marketing? Hire or bring in an IT Marketing Manager. This is a person who represents IT and knows how to promote the department’s services and value to other business units. They understand how critical IT is to the enterprise has a whole and will convey that message to high-level influencers. Most importantly, they’ll help IT stand out from the crowd.

I’ve done some research and really haven’t found too much on IT orgs bringing in a Marketing Manager. That’s why I was so intrigued when Broadcom Sr. IT Manager Phil Malatras told me about their unique approach. They decided to bring in a person who can practically sell IT’s services and values to the rest of the enterprise. They’re going to share some experiences, lessons learned, and tips on the call next week. Again, I know this is an area where many IT orgs struggle so I’m very interested in hearing what they have to say.

If you’d like to attend this webinar next Thursday April 25th at 2:00 PM ESTlog into TheIMF.comand visit our Events page to register.

Blog Article: Tips for Running More Effective Meetings

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*Originally published for The IMF Blog on May 8, 2013 | View Post

We recently had a Connect discussion on how to run effective meetings. Prior to that call, I posted the topic and issues in a couple of my LinkedIn groups and got some great responses. It seems meeting efficiency is a sore spot in many companies but there are some tips and techniques to improve your meeting’s effectiveness. While there were a variety of views on the matter, a common theme emerged from the 30+ responses: a strong leader/facilitator is the key. This is the best way to ensure a meeting stays on topic, on time, and accomplishes its objectives.

Here were some other suggestions I found interesting:

  • “Anyone late, including the lead, contributes $1 to a pre-determined donation.”
  • “Make timely arrival a desire. Make the person who shows up last sing a song and reward the first person to show up with a treat.”
  • “Use whiteboards to stress the main topic or agenda.”
  • “Let opinions be free and objection constructive. You can reap some unexpected benefits by keeping things a little loose.”
  • “Distributing an agenda ahead of time only helps the discussions keep on track and gives all an opportunity to insert items they feel warrant discussion.”
  • “Everyone needs to agree what the meeting is about and what outputs/decisions need to be produced by the end of it. Too much meeting time gets wasted talking at cross purposes.”
  • “Keep the meeting on topic. Allow for some free discussion but if it seems to be taking too long give the necessary people an action to take the subject off line and, if necessary, report back as an agenda item at the next meeting.”
  • “Instill time discipline into participants and develop the necessary culture of respect and time management.”
  • “Only meet when a meeting is necessary.”
  • “Try stand-up meetings for quick discussions. Make a meeting slightly uncomfortable, i.e. no chairs. Once people sit down they get comfortable and things can quickly go off-topic.”
  • “Record actions, not verbatim minutes.”
  • “Ban all meetings for a period of time.”
  • “Pertaining to managing time, place a large clock on the table, visible to all, and hold speakers accountable to staying on schedule.”
  • “Meetings should start with a review of open issues from the prior meeting, so that issues don’t get dropped/forgotten. Hold attendees accountable for bringing closure to their open issues.”
  • “The meeting should have one leader that controls the flow of the meeting and calls BS when someone digresses from the meeting purpose.”
  • “You need structure, and you need to be systematic. When people come to meetings, they should be ready to account for the responsibilities relating to their role, they should be ready to talk about the challenges they are facing, and ready to listen to the contributions of others.”

What would you add? What are some best practices you use to run an effective meeting?

Additional resources:

6 Tips for Being a Good Facilitator (Danny Beckett Jr.)

How to Run an Effective Meeting (Inc.)

How to Run a Meeting Like Google (Bloomberg)

5 Tips for Improving Meeting Management Skills (Brian Tracey)

Book: Robert’s Rules of Order, 11th Edition

Book: Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish

Blog Article: IT Transformation or Resurrection?

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*Originally published for The IMF Blog on May 14, 2013 | View Post

“The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”

– Mark Twain

In the latest episode of Michael Krigsman’s CxO Talk, social business expert Dion Hinchcliffe essentially says “IT is dead.” When I first saw the title of Michael’s article regarding the episode, “CxO Talk guest Hinchcliffe proclaims, ‘IT is dead,’” my initial thought was “here we go again.” After all, Hinchcliffe’s “proclamation” is nothing new.

It seems like I read at least an article or two every week about IT going the way of the dinosaurs sooner rather than later. I skip over a lot of these articles because it’s basically the same information rehashed. However, I enjoy the CxO Talk episodes so I gave it a listen and thought Hinchliffe made some strong, valid points.

The usual suspects are implicated here: Shadow IT, Cloud, BYOD, and the outdated concept of an overly-centralized IT department. While acknowledging the perceived risks of Shadow IT in a somewhat backhanded way, he even states “IT departments are now the hardest way to get things done.” Technology is moving to the lines of business, infrastructure is moving to cloud, and so on and so forth. Again, this really isn’t anything new.

Here’s the deal: IT’s not going anywhere. The department may change or undergo some sort of transformation but it’s not going to become extinct. Moving technology into the business units just means they’ll have to learn to perform IT activities themselves. Is this really practical? Talk about not knowing what you’ve got till it’s gone. As for cloud, most companies in the cloud still aren’t comfortable because of all the uncertainties associated with it. BYOD is great but somebody’s got to keep an eye on the devices.

Look, I’m not saying IT isn’t a hindrance in some cases. I’m not saying IT doesn’t stifle innovation on occasion. I’m saying, despite all the doomsday articles, IT is a critical part of the enterprise. Its absence would result in pure chaos. That being said, an attitude adjustment is necessary if IT’s going to play with the big boys.

Improved IT-business collaboration should be at the top of your list. Deal in terms of business value, not IT value. Stop dragging your feet on projects and looking for reasons as to why something can’t work. Say “Yes” for a change, or at least offer some comparable alternatives. Enable the business instead of holding it back. I’m sure you’ve heard this all before but it’s still not sinking in with a lot of organizations. IT will determine the role it plays in the enterprise moving forward. Why settle for keeping the lights on when you can revolutionize the company and/or your industry?

**If you’re interested in Shadow IT and its effect on the evolution of IT leadership roles, join our next webinar on May 30th at 2:00 PM EST. Michael O’Brien, an experienced and innovative IT leader, is presenting on the “Evolving Role of IT Managers and CIOs.”