Blogging Primer – WHAT to blog for success

When used correctly, blogs can be an excellent tool for engaging prospects and customers — especially in today’s environment, when the companies we deal with are more machine than human. We call in and get interactive voice response rather than a live person. We read FAQs instead of speaking to customer service reps. It’s an isolated feeling.

So when I create a blog for a client, I do the following three things: Continue reading

A client vendor negotiations video that’s LOL funny (see if you’re guilty of any of these)

This is a good one.  A hysterical video on client vendor relationships and payments.  I don’t know about you but I may be guilty of some of these tactics.  Thanks to the videographers for calling us out.  

Got a favorite client/vendor horror story? Post it in the comments section.

5 Tips for Using LinkedIn as a Business Tool

In addition to being an exceptional tool for personal business networking, LinkedIn is also a great place to market your business. Here are five tips to help your business network grow through LinkedIn: 

1. Use the Q&A function. The Q&A function of LinkedIn is a powerful revenue-generating tool. Try using the advanced answers search to find questions specific to your company’s expertise. Don’t pitch your company’s products or services here, just give the best — or most altruistic — answer you can. The Q&A is definitely a give-to-get medium: Give freely and you’ll get back in spades. 

2. Become an expert. When a question is asked on LinkedIn, it remains open for answers for seven days. After the question closes, the asker can rate the best answer to that question. The best answerers for a given question are awarded expert status on LinkedIn. From that point on, whenever an expert answers a question, that expert gets an expert badge. People’s expert status follows them around wherever they go on the site. Since you’re representing your company, this creates expertise for it as well. 

3. Join groups. You can join as many as 50 LinkedIn groups. When you join, introduce yourself and your services. Much like Q&A, this is a give-to-get medium. 

4. Start a group. Starting a group is super easy — just a couple of clicks and you’re done. Start a group around your company’s core competencies. For example, if you’re a printer, set up a group for people to ask questions about printing. If you’re a search engine marketing company, set up a SEM for beginners group. 

5. Promote your blog. Many of you already have corporate blogs and have produced whitepapers and corporate presentations. Promote your blog in the news section of the groups you belong to. Promote whitepapers and presentations in the groups as well via the discussion function. This adds value and enhances your image. 

People always tell me they see me all over LinkedIn. I try to gain as much notoriety as possible within the LinkedIn Q&A and group functions. As a consultant, this has brought me new customers. It takes some attention and time, but when done right, it can be a wonderful source of leads and business

Jim Gilbert and the Florida Direct Marketing Association are pleased to announce…


January 15th FDMA Meeting Info

From: The Florida Direct Marketing Association | December 31, 2008

The FDMA is pleased to announce its January 15th event:

Business Networking in the 21st Century

Come join us for lunch January 15th for an informative session on how to build your personal brand using web 2.0 online techniques with Jim Gilbert, CEO of Gilbert Direct Marketing. In a world where the average  tenure in a position is just over 2 years, it’s been said that building your personal rolodex is just as important to your career as excelling at your job. During this must-attend luncheon, you will learn how to use Linkedin and other networking sites to your fullest advantage.
Location: Westin Hotel Fort Lauderdale (I-95 & Cypress Creek exit)

Time: 11:30am – 1:30pm (Networking and Registration from 11:30am – 12:00 pm)

Members $37, Non-Members $47. Admission includes plated lunch.

For additional details clink on “Register” below to read what specific take-away strategies you will learn. 

Click here to register

Read more at The Florida Direct Marketing Association

Are we communicating, or what? (part 1)

I speak much differently in the business world than I do in real life. 

In real life, I like to use little words and keep all concepts simple.  I wish I could do that in the business world. Frankly, I always prefer to use the word “total” than “aggregate,” (even though that’s a lousy example.)  Truth is, I believe that if there are two choices of words to use, I prefer the simpler one.

I find I communicate more effectively that way.

Unfortunately, as a business executive, it’s expected of me to be a bit more shall we say, high-minded. There must be some unwritten law, or maybe in an executive communication book somewhere, that states, “We need to speak at a level that’s different than the masses.” Maybe it’s a psychological thing — some concept saying that we must sound more important, or maybe just self-important. 

So on a daily basis, I have to deal with the made-up, pseudo-intelligent speak that we call modern day business jargon. It makes me a bit crazy, if you know what I mean. Hearing it means I have to translate a lot in my old-school direct marketing brain.

And when it comes to speaking the jargon, much like learning a new language, it sounds foreign on my tongue.

But I must speak the sacred language, for if I don’t I won’t be considered one of the few, but one of the many — a simpleton in a complex business (right!).

Even worse, the jargon keeps changing. For example, not so long ago, catalog analysis became benchmarking. Then it became metrics, and these days we call it analytics or KPIs, (Key Performance Indicators).

To me it’s just response, lifetime value analysis and simple stuff like sales per catalog mailed.

It Gets Better; Consider This …

Sometimes we use business speak to confuse. (OK, I really wanted to work the word “subterfuge” rather than confuse into this last sentence; this speaking simply stuff isn’t easy!)

One of my favorite forms of confusion is the “high-level” discussion!  Every time I hear someone say high level in a meeting, I know it’s probably going to be a line of bunk.  We live in a world of direct and catalog marketing where the details are everything.  A world where lists drive mailings, which drive mail plans which drive the top line.  

You can forget that top-line hooey; it’s below the line where our best business discussions need to take place.

Said another way, you can’t grow the top line in a multichannel business; it’s impossible — well, almost. You can have a high-level discussion about top-line growth while your circulation planners are snickering in the corner.

Maybe people who have high-level discussions forget all that. Or maybe they just don’t want to understand the details. Could they be the people who changed the saying from “God is in the details” to “the devil is in the details?”

Any time someone wants to get into a high-level discussion with me, I instantly become wary. You know, that same kind of reaction — a raising of the hairs on the back of my neck — that I get any time someone tells me to think outside the box. (Note to readers: Thinking outside the catalog marketing box can have deadly consequences. There’s a reason for the “inside the box” rules we have in this business.)

The joke is, we do all of this business communication to better communicate our ideas and thoughts to each other. That is, until the “four crappy communicators” arrive and get in the way.

In my next column, I’ll help decipher some of the most common (and possibly ridiculous) business terms. Then, I’ll offer a foolproof method for communicating more effectively (all about the four crappy communicators). Don’t miss this column; it will make your career go much smoother.

In the meantime, use the link below to serve up some of your more silly business speak jargon or e-mail me at my address below.  (I know you have your favorite ridiculous jargon, c’mon post it here)  Speak to you in my next entry.

Jim Gilbert is president of Gilbert Direct Marketing, a full-service catalog and direct marketing agency. His LinkedIn profile can be viewed at or you can post a comment here or e-mail him at