Saturday, August 7, 2010

Steve Jobs Sent Me: an homage to friendship and technology

Apple changed my life. When I saw my first Macintosh computer in the mid 1980s, I was speechless.

My only exposure to computers at the time was those ugly, old, ochre cathode ray streams of digits beaming from clunky monitors – or those big monster server rooms that we all typically see in spy movies.

So there I was, in my buddy Mike Beato’s office in Getzville, New York, at Faller Klenk and Quinlan (a regional ad agency) looking at this unusual beige box with a seven-or-so inch monitor. And he was showing me a slowly bouncing, rotating 3D black and white checkerboard patterned ball.

“How the heck are they doing that,” I asked myself – this coming from a then copywriter who used a manual typewriter to practice his craft.

Fast forward a few years later, and more than 40 Apple product purchases since, (I’ve owned virtually every make and model issued under the Apple brand, some a few times over) starting from when I started Adworks Communications with Mike, and then when I opened my own branding practice Adspada – aka Spada Advertising, which evolved into Interactive Direct Marketing.

Today, I find myself leading the brand strategy effort for Outdoor Living Brands, the world’s one and only franchise company solely focused on outdoor living. And Apple is still surrounding me, constantly.

Based in Richmond, Virginia, the franchise company Archadeck (deck builder and designer of affordable outdoor living spaces) acquired both Outdoor Lighting Perspectives (professional landscape and architectural lighting) and Mosquito Squad (mosquito and tick control) in 2008, and as a result created a new franchisor entity, now known as Outdoor Living Brands.

Working with 200 franchisees around the United States, Canada, the Bahamas and Kuwait, it’s really great fun helping these entrepreneurial folks bring their business plans and visions of franchise growth to life, through a variety of outbound marketing and inbound marketing tactics.

Speaking of the later – helping businesses “get found” online with inbound marketing – I always say the same thing during each marketing training session: “buy an iPhone.”

I have found the iPhone to be the quintessential gadget for doing your best work in social media.

As a result of our team rolling out a social media strategy in January 2010, all of our franchisees now realize why inbound marketing (blogging, social media, search engine optimization, etc.) is so important – and how to participate in it. But to do it correctly, and efficiently, I continually tell our franchisees that they need the right tool. And the iPhone fits the bill, perfectly.

I encourage our franchisees to think of the iPhone as a natural extension of their body, always at hand to shoot a video, snap a photo, dictate a blog headline or record a stream of consciousness for a social media post.

Pat and Laura Harders from Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of Northern Virginia have been operating like this for some time, being a strong inspiration for the overall effort. And they attribute 30% of their annual revenue from social media and inbound marketing.

Eric Kent from Archadeck of Charlotte is doing the same thing. Virtually unfamiliar with social media until January 2010, he’s taken the proverbial bull by the horns and is doing an awesome job with blog posts and YouTube videos, all connected to each other via backlinks to the various web properties he has in his synchronized outreach and inbound mix.

Next up? The iPad, of course. I’m now encouraging our franchisees to use the iPad to showcase their beautiful before and after designs of outdoor living spaces and exterior illumination designs with digital photos they’ve taken, using a slight finger flick to open stacks of stunning photo galleries to showcase their best work during their free design consultations.

As for the new iOS4 platform, I’m thinking of how awesome it would be for our franchisees to stay in touch “in person” with FaceTime video chat – a great way to stay connected to design consultants in the field, helping them stay emotionally connected to the franchisee leader.

And no, Steve Jobs is not paying me a commission. Live long and prosper, with Apple all around you.

No comments:

Post a Comment