Archive for the ‘Internet’ Category

Your life is being broadcast

Published by October 22nd, 2008 in Character, Church, Community, Future, Internet, Life's Lessons, My Big Mouth, Technology  2 Comments »  

Wow! It’s been a long time since I made a post, and a lot has happened. Actually, I have like 20 posts in me, but because in the past my being open and honest was not allowed – I was scared – so I kept silent!

I wanted to write about my new job and my new boss, yet, because I knew when I posted a link to Brad’s blog he would find this blog, I kept procrastinating, and now it’s a mute point. Interesting enough, I did not actually realize how toxic some of my last situations were until I tried to function normally in a healthy environment. I mean, who else would have the coolest workplace, and be open to blogging, and open to voicing a difference of opinion than the guy behind churchmarketingsucks.com – yet I was conditioned for the last several years to not be myself – and it showed, because I was still too scared to be open and honest even though I was in a safe place.

I also wanted to write about control. As I went into this new job I worked extra hard to allow things to evolve around me without any interference by me. We either become control freaks, or become passive, in an attempt to avoid legitimate suffering, yet it is by going through legitimate suffering head on that we grow spiritually and emotionally. It was a great experience going into an organization and not as the boss. Nothing happened “my way”, and I loved every growth-packed minute of it. I actually believe that every mega church leader should go find a small church and work for two weeks each year as a lay person, and not be allowed to influence any decision. Basically seeing life from the other side. Not being the boss for a change was one of the best things that could have happened to me, but that is not the topic of this post.

There is so much that I want to write, and I wish my written communication skills were better so I could effectively communicate all that is my heart. I do regret allowing the oppression of my past situations to continue on into my new life. It’s not their fault, it’s mine! I made the choice to keep quiet, and that was the wrong choice!

What I feel compelled to write about is a change I see as our society becomes more voyeuristic and technology becomes more mobile. Like I said in the last post, I’m sure someone has already touched this topic so I may be behind, but it is very, very important. Now, it has actually come to life for me!

A few weeks back ICFG had to lay off 25 people, and I was one of them. For the record I want to say that although there is no easy way to let people go, ICFG had to make a hard decision, and they took very good care of us. You can tell if an organization has Jesus or not just by how they treat employees that are exiting, and former employees that for whatever reason moved on. Even though my time was short with Foursquare I am extremely impressed with their compassion and forward thinking.

The interesting part to all this is “Black Tuesday”, the day the layoffs took place, was broadcast over the internet via Twitter and Facebook. Some I have selected as a favorite on my Twitter page, which you can read here . Brad was twittering as it went down, and so were a few others in the office. It was weird, yet it is the future of how things are going to be – all of our lives will be broadcast over the internet – like it or not!

I believe the idea of a “big brother” watching us started with George Orwell’s movie 1984, but it’s not the government that is the soon-to-be big participator in broadcasting EVERYTHING, it’s little sister, Aunt Ruby, Johnny down the street, and Yilmaz over in Turkey. As we become more of a mobile technology world, more of OUR world will be broadcast to the Internet – AND NOT BY CHOICE!

As with anything there is good and bad. The good is people who do not have integrity will no longer be able to hide. The new world is all about transparency and vulnerability – everything will be exposed. The bad is there is no privacy anymore – none at all!

No matter if you like this or not, as in the case of “Black Tuesday” being broadcast over the internet, I didn’t have a choice, and neither do you. This train has left the station, and if you are not being real with people, LOTS of people will find out – and sooner than a you can click on a send button!

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People hate change – continued

Published by March 3rd, 2008 in Change, Internet, Just Me, Learning, Life's Lessons, Marketing, Ministry, My Big Mouth  Comments Off on People hate change – continued  

This past Friday afternoon I had a business meeting and the people I went to LA with had to go fend for themselves.  Upon their return I asked them where they went. They responded Taco Bell! No, they were not kidding! Going to Taco Bell in the Echo Park area of Los Angeles is like going to Pizza Hut in Rome, Italy (if there is one).

Later that night we were looking for a place to eat and they all wanted a chain restaurant even mentioning Applebee’s. 

What is interesting is if you asked these people about change they would say they love change. The truth is most people don’t. We gravitate to what is familiar – always!

In producing Christian television almost yearly every pastor has asked for a new show open. They feel they are not being progressive if they don’t have change. Now, if there is a ministry or strategy change then YES change the show open. If not leave it. 60 Minutes has had the same clock open for over 20 years for a reason.  Secular shows DO NOT change their show formats or opens because they know we are creatures of familiarity.

Keep in mind when you change stuff you make people feel uncomfortable!

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While procrastinating I found this

Published by February 23rd, 2008 in Blogs, Change, Character, Internet, Just Me, Learning, My Big Mouth, Personal, Personal Growth  Comments Off on While procrastinating I found this  

How To Avoid Procrastination As A Freelancer

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Sign of change

Published by February 8th, 2008 in Change, Future, Internet, Just Me, Marketing, Media, My Big Mouth, Vision  Comments Off on Sign of change  

I was reading Seth’s new book “Meatball Sundae: Is Your Marketing out of Sync?” for a second time last night and he referenced the thickness of Time Magazine. Today I was in line at the grocery store and Time and Newsweek were next to each other. I picked them both up. Wow, not much of anything anymore.  Media is changing FAST- and changing EVERYTHING! Honestly, the not-for-profit world is so inundated with direct mail as a primary fundraising strategy most will be caught unprepared for the inevitable.

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Some had too many pieces missing

Published by January 30th, 2008 in Blogs, Change, Character, Friends, Homeless, Internet, Just Me, Learning, Life's Lessons, My Big Mouth, Personal, Personal Growth, Recovery  1 Comment  

Without a shadow of doubt the educator that had the most impact on my life was Professor Amy Sweetman at LACC . She opened my eyes to a whole new world and she will always be one of my all time favorite people.

Amy took it upon herself to teach all of her classes about relationships. It was in her Psychology 1 class that she introduced me to “The Missing Piece Meets The Big O”. One of the best relationship books – ever! It seems like only yesterday when Amy was in front of the class flipping the pages and reading the text out loud. When she got to a certain page she stopped, smiled and then repeated real loud “Markus, some had too many pieces missing! Markus, some had too many pieces missing! Markus , some had too many pieces missing!” At the time I was dating Anne who I eventually married. Almost every paper I would write about her so Amy had lots of knowledge on how toxic our relationship was. Unfortunately, like most people in LOVE, I was blind! Amy even came to the wedding and gave us the book as a wedding present. Too me it was the best gift we received. Thing is, I am still learning the lesson Amy was trying to teach me all those years ago. And I am still learning it the hard way! 🙂

To help you understand here is the book on video although I like the book itself so much more.

Amy is such a gorgeous person and I have so many fond memories I actually wrote far too much to post. Stories of the Power House on Christmas Eve or her asking me to teach Psychology 43 one semester! I even wrote how we both took the class to skid row one thanksgiving. The best thanksgiving of my life was that day! I wrote several pages before I realized that I was starting to get blisters on my fingers and there was no way I was going to post it all.

What prompted all this, and I guess I’ll have to publicly say that I am now grateful for social networking, is I found Amy using Facebook’s friend finder last week. It goes through and checks your contact emails and BAM, there she was! I so miss her…

Amy sent me a link to a book she wrote and published and you would not believe the smile I received when I looked at her webpage and saw it was based off the Big O. It just seemed like it was meant to be. What’s even cooler is The Jagged O Scholarship Fund she started to help those who choose to take the road less traveled – the road of service to others in need! You cannot find a better educational cause then that. Please visit her site and help support this very worthy cause.

CLICK HERE - The Jagged O Scholarship - CLICK HERE

click on the above photo to go to the site

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Update your website – PLEASE!

Published by January 19th, 2008 in Change, Internet, Just Me, Marketing, Media, My Big Mouth, Technology  Comments Off on Update your website – PLEASE!  

Ok, this could be a continuation of a post I did some time ago titled: “Test your website –often”, because if people would actually check their websites on a continuing basis none of this would happen.

Actually I was not even going to write this post, but as I was gathering a little information from a few sites I ran into several issues:

• Schedules listed – outdated now by 8 months (several sites)
• Weekly video announcements – outdated now by 5 months
• A news feed listing the most current news from LAST JUNE!
• Many dead links with many resulting in dead crucial functions
• Many missing photos on many sites (I love the little red x)

No matter how good you think you are – check and then go check again. The internet is all interconnected (duh) and things change in a nanosecond. So what you thought was fine and working properly today may be broke tomorrow.

Since you never get a second chance at a first impression there are two very simple solutions:

• Develop a quality control process and run it often
• Don’t have content on your site that you have trouble updating

To be completely honest here the real problem is knowledge, laziness and indifference.  People either do not comprehend how important an internet presence is on perception; or they just don’t care. 

Ps.  Before I get a bunch of emails from all of you that ask me to post more often-  I am including myself in the above. 🙂
 

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Can’t read it? Neither can anyone else.

Published by January 4th, 2008 in Internet, Just Me, Learning, Life's Lessons, Marketing, Media, Ministry, My Big Mouth, Remarkable, Television  Comments Off on Can’t read it? Neither can anyone else.  

I just received a direct mail piece from a local church and the text is only a shade lighter then the background making it almost impossible to read. To make it worse the font is far too small. Even with my glasses on I literally cannot read the copy. They wasted a lot of money and since they dropped to the whole area they may have created a negative perception!

I learned this lesson the hard way. The first album (dang dating myself there) I produced had a really attention grabbing photo on the cover but the graphic with the bands name was weak. Very weak! My goal was to have an album cover that you could see standing far away and would be so cool you felt compelled to walk across the store to check it out. I failed horribly although I didn’t think so at the time.

I knew the artist I hired was rushed to finish, but I thought it was OK. It was not until the album was about to go into stores and we signed with a manager who “kindly” pointed it out that I became aware of the mistake. He was right and thank goodness he had the courage to be honest with me. The band name/logo was very hard to read. Since we could not reprint the albums I made large stickers with the bands name in block letters to place on the outside of the shrink wrap and completely cover the graphic. YUCK! It worked, but it was not as professional as I wanted my first album in stores to be. 

Of course, each type of media has different rules. For example billboards should have 8 words or less and anyone should be able to easily read while passing at 70 mph. The rules are different when producing for TV and IMAG screens. People usually sit fairly close to a TV where in an auditorium or sanctuary people could be a football field away. The same graphic may not work in both applications because of viewing distance.  The point is always be conscious of how the graphic is going to be viewed. Not just used – VIEWED!

Change it up. If you are creating informational signage that is presented in the same location all the time remember to change up the design layout. If you use the same layout recurrently people will become anesthetized ignoring any new information you present.  People are always busy and you need to grab their attention as they rush by. Using the same layout each time, even though you present new information, greatly decreases effectiveness.

And last but far from least I always like to have a minimum of two people look at the design for feedback. One person who actually has good design and marketing knowledge, and one person who has no knowledge whatsoever but falls in the demographic you are trying to reach.  If possible ask more then two people but if you ask too many you’ll just get confused with all the responses. You cannot reach everyone and in today’s world if you try to reach everyone – you’ll reach no one. People have far too many choices and you must know your target demographic and then go after them.

I know all this is mostly common sense yet all you have to do is drive down any freeway and look at all the billboards to see some really bad advertising. Why I use that example is because some marketer someplace is charging some client a bunch of money for something that just creates clutter. In ministry our #1 goal is to reach people. If a person cannot read it, view it, understand it, use it or it looks like the same old same old so they ignore it, we are just wasting time and money.

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Top posts of 2007

Published by December 31st, 2007 in Blogs, Internet, Just Me, Media, Ministry, My Big Mouth, Remarkable  Comments Off on Top posts of 2007  

About a month ago I happened to find the TechCrunch blog. Today they posted Most Bookmarked TechCrunch Posts of 2007. I especially liked The Secret Strategies Behind Many “Viral” Videos as did everyone else.

Swerve from LiveChurch.tv has changed and challenged me more then any blog in 07 and they too posted a list of Top Swerve Posts of 2007. All 5 of the most visited posts in 07 are a must read! Amazing stuff!

Ok, I might as well.

The top 7 most visited posts on hardlynormal.com in 07 according to Google Analytical

1. My Story (weird since I was not going to post my testimony)

2. The better number

3. The perception of price

4. A marketplace flop – how do you deal with failure?

5. A good question

6. Capacity to be honest

7. Serious change is coming! Are you ready?

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Filling time vs. making good and effective TV

Published by December 31st, 2007 in Internet, Just Me, Leadership, Managment, Marketing, Media, Ministry, My Big Mouth, Remarkable, Television  1 Comment  

There is one thing that has always bugged me and that is when talented people get lazy, or they have too much going on, or they have stopped caring and just fill time. I have seen this happen in print, too, but I have seen it happen much more often in TV ministry.

I understand why this happens. Ok, no I don’t! I mean, I have empathized with editors and producers who were under pressure, or were given ridicules directives, but I still cant identify with anyone working in ministry that does not care, and there are many!

In the fast paced world of media deadlines are rarely flexible. Every week or every day you have to have a 28:30 ready to air, or a :30 a :60 or whatever to be inserted into a show! There is a lot of pressure and the pressure is the same for in-house media! Also, lack of forecasting, bad planning, bad marketing or just plain ignorance can cause either the project to be so rushed you just want it done, or the time to be filled with something that is unsuccessful. After awhile a person can learn helplessness and become apathetic just wanting to get it over with.

Rarely have I seen anyone in ministry do even a little research to see if their “angle”, “pitch” or their really “creative” spot will have the desired outcome and be successful. This issue does not happen in ministry alone, however, in ministry often the boss will give the directive to promote something, and because most church media departments are staffed by good capable people with very little experience, and church rarely test results correctly to see what actually works, the end result is “filling time” because the spot had absolutely no effect except to please the boss that something was “done”!

What happens in secular media is you get a lot of feature film wannabes who could never make it in Hollywood so they do their best to push really creative spots with huge budgets. To amplify this marketers are scrambling because interruption marketing no longer works like it used to, so they sell their clients on really weird concepts.

Every night you see all kinds of commercials, but to they work? Many companies like Nike’, FedEx, Apple, Coke plus hundreds more use creative spots to achieve top-of-mind market presence. Large companies have the budgets to do that because the key ingredient to be successful is frequency. The spot has to play again and again and again and again in the same market.

Just because a spot has a huge budget, looks creative and is funny does not mean it works. Churches often see these spots on TV and try and mimic the campaign, because someone assumes it works.

If you are involved with media or marketing in your church please put in the extra effort to research your concept. Because you and your friends think it is cool does not mean it will be successful. Maybe I am a little different because God has done such an amazing work in my life. I don’t know! All I know is that if you are working for God then you need to pull out all the stops so your projects have excellence and success. If your goal is to get someone to show up, shell out, call or join then make sure you are not just filling time. Make your show or spot effective! Marketers work backwards. Start with the response you desire and then ask the question “how can I use video or print to persuade a person to take that action?”

I’ll close with commenting on a national campaign that I feel is unique and cost-effective. It also drives traffic to the web by creating curiosity.  The campaign is Burger King’s whopper freak out. Not a really high budget production and no high-priced actors to pay.  It also utilizes personal testimonies from real people which is always effective. I thought the campaign was very good and it stood out from all the clutter!

In ministry we don’t have the big budgets so we have to work a little harder to achieve quality and success. Please please please – don’t ever just fill time! PLEASE! There is already more then enough really awful Christian television!

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Test your website – often!

Published by December 29th, 2007 in Internet, Just Me, Managment, Marketing, Media, Ministry, My Big Mouth, Remarkable, Technology  1 Comment  

Nothing says “incompetence” like a webpage that is either under construction for a long period of time or has functions that do not work.

This is not an issue limited to small business and organizations. A few years back I was looking for an agency and one name kept being recommended.  They are a huge agency with major clients. I took a look at their website and they had several pages under construction. I revisited the site a week later, and then another week after that, the same pages were still under construction. Needless to say I never called them. If a marketing agency cannot fix their own website they must not be all that good.

This year I started to get healthy and was looking into to joining a gym. Since this gym is a national brand they only have a national website. Some of the functions on their website just didn’t work. In fact, the main response forms to get new clients had huge errors. Again, I went back weeks later and the issue still was not fixed. They missed a lot of business!

Recently I helped an organization fix some really important functions on their website. The issues were main features that were being marketed, and one seriously hindered the eCommerce usability, yet the issues went unnoticed!

TEST TEST TEST and then go back and test frequently to make sure everything is working correctly. Also, get another person to do your testing. Humans make mistakes and any good quality control procedure involves more then one knowledgeable person to proof and test. Set a schedule where you go back and test everything periodically to make sure there are no dead links and everything is working correctly.

People will and do judge you by your web presence. I once read a study that said a person who is looking for a new church will visit 12 church websites before they make a decision on which one to visit. Thing is, most everyone will judge your website in only a few seconds. Just look at your website stats and you will see that on average, 70% of traffic to your site stays less then 30 seconds. A good website should be constantly evolving as the organization changes. If you don’t have fresh content frequently people are not going to return. Maybe even more importantly, when people find an error on your site, they are not going to take the time to inform you about it! They just click to the next site and might never come back!

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