I Put On For My City

Last spring I was in a pub in western Ireland with some other Americans and an Israeli. Since fashion has been relatively homogenized you might not guess we weren’t Irish. EXCEPT…one of the girls was wearing a sharp green IRELAND sweatshirt. She bought a billboard that said I am NOT IRISH. The Irish patrons picked her out immediately and had a great time teasing her.

We talked about it for a bit at our table afterward. Of course. Location merchandise is for tourists. Universally, people do not buy non-sports merchandise of the place where they live. You know who’s never worn an IHeartNY T-shirt? Some one from New York City. If you’re wearing a Key West baseball cap, it means you went on vacation there, you’re not from Key West. We all laughed for a minute and agreed that was true for everywhere. It took a minute before it hit me like a ton of bricks.

There’s got to be an exception, I thought. Hmmm, where are all the places I’ve been? Oh yeah! The city I’ve lived in my whole life,”

On sale for $20 at citylovebuffalo.com

On sale for $20 at citylovebuffalo.com

What a bunch of self promotional hacks we are. I wear T-shirts that just say “Buffalo, NY”. There are entire companies based around who can say they’re from Buffalo more cleverly. Which city is home to Kellogg’s? I’m not going to look it up but I bet there’s no “My City smells like Rice Crispies” t shirt. Why? Because we’re the only ones who don’t care that nobody else gets it. I’m not just talking about ex-pats. People who live in the city, self included, buy and wear clothing, souvenirs  and art work of the place they live in. I don’t know anyone else who does that.

Is it because we don’t get any tourists? It has to be. If the rule of location merchandise is that it is for visitors, then we’re simply filling a void. Someone has to promote this town right?

Have you noticed this? A pic of your Buffalo T shirt would be cool right about now…

Marketing Challenge: 7 Steps for the Best Senior Living Social Media Campaign

By Griffin Jones

I would venture a guess that most senior living facilities are weary of social media. I can’t say I recall seeing any senior living stories in any of my Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus feeds. Their first reservation is probably that their clientele are not digital natives. True, but there are 35 million women ages 45-64 on Facebook in the United States alone and they love themselves some internet. Second, senior living executives would probably feel that they wouldn’t have enough appropriate or compelling content. Enter Griffin Jones.

Senior Living/Elder Care Facilities have among the most compelling content for social media platforms of almost any business category.

Raise your hand if you had a grandparent you loved. Good.

Raise your hand if they shared with you stories you will carry with you forever. Good.

Raise your hand if there’s nothing else you could possibly ask them, you’re content, there’s nothing more they could have offered. Didn’t think so.

I could listen to an interesting senior tell stories for hours and hours. I have. World War II, the Great Depression, the peak of US industry, Cultural Revolution…not enough compelling content?

Here’s how to do it:

1). Hire a decent videographer who can bring with her/him a decent logo

2). Give your series a branded name

3). Create a You Tube channel named after the series

4). Shoot dozens of three to five minute videos with all of your interesting residents

5). Have a young person do the interviewing. A young staff member, a group of high school students in need of community service hours; if they can come up with great questions–even better

6). Activate the series, by posting to your website, Facebook page, e-mail newsletter, e-mail signatures, and links and QR codes in physical newsletters and mailings

7). You will probably need an inbound marketing software like HubSpot to effectively measure leads, but the plus side is that you can also use this for fundraising and one generous endowment could justify everything.

What’s your favorite story from a parent or grandparent?


Marketing Challenge: Coffee Wars

I talk about how advertising is damage control and marketing is positioning from the beginning. Here’s an example:

If I was an entrepreneur in the hot beverage business, I would have to ask myself how I could advertise to make my coffee house stand out?

Can I buy higher end coffee, coffee from different countries, different flavored coffee, or have a nicer ambiance, or a lower price than all of Tim Horton’s, Spot Coffee, Starbucks, Caribou Coffee, or Coffee Culture, combined? I would have to spend a lot of money advertising to people in a world that has gotten incredibly good at completely ignoring advertisements. No, I think I’ll stay out of the coffee business.

Maybe instead I start a chain of tea houses. No coffee here. Just every kind of tea you can possibly think of. Small, cozy cafes. Cute ceramic tea cups. Maps of the countries my tea comes from on the walls. And fun facts and health info written on the table. Oh, and one rare tea per month from some monastery in the Himalayas that sells out after 100 cups. DONE. Next marketing challenge PLEASE!

Five Reasons Why Marketing and Advertising Are No Longer The Same

Merriam-Webster defines these two words as:

Advertising:  the action of calling something to the attention of the public especially by paid announcements.

Marketing: the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service.

Pretty similar right? I’d like to offer a new definition of marketing:

“Marketing: The process of positioning a product or service for a specific, under-served, market segment from inception to delivery.”–Griffin Jones

Here’s how these two synonyms grew further and further apart:20130121-160306.jpg

1). After the industrial revolution, products were made for the masses. Products were marketed to nearly everyone so advertising was just a continuation of marketing in the form of promotion.

2). A select few products made it into the minds of the masses and advertising was used to reinforce their marketing success.

3). New products largely failed to disrupt the purchasing-advertising cycle, but many were happy to take the #2 and #3 spots in their respective categories. They usually didn’t market correctly, but giant budgets and growing markets made it possible to advertise themselves as a secondary or tertiary choice in some one else’s market.

4). Categories divided like the splitting of an atom, and stage 1 was repeated again and again at usually much more micro levels. More choice always erodes NOT improves, the effectiveness of advertising.

5). Products and categories became so enforced and so saturated that now, virtually the only way to be truly successful is to invent new categories for neglected markets.

Now advertising is damage control. Therefore it is still necessary, but marketing your business correctly to begin with will prove much easier and cost effective. I will give examples in other posts. What examples can you think of?

Pop Out: How Soda is Headed Toward Linguistic Monopoly

I first noticed it a few years ago. The pinkos are winning. The word pop is disappearing from planet Earth. I am from Buffalo, NY where we have always said pop.Soda was once a completely alien word.


I stole this from http://tastyresearch.com/2006/10/05/pop-vs-soda-vs-coke/ because I’m ruthless. It’s ten years old: I want to know how much it’s changed.

When my cousins from eastern New York State would babysit us and ask us if we wanted soda, I thought they were offering me a box of Arm and Hammer.Today, soda is much more common to hear among young people. It’s clearly generational, the word pop will probably be completely gone in a few decades. What I’m wondering is, is the speed of the change geographic? We say pop in Buffalo because we are a Midwest city (culturally) and we’re next to Canada. I’m sure there’s a few old timers in New England who still say tonic, but that word is all but gone (now means tonic water).  I’m intrigued. I’ll always say pop, because I wear your granddad’s clothes and I look incredible, but I concede soda rolls off the tongue easier. Please pass this around. I want to do a little study. I especially want to hear from people in Rochester, NY, Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Canada. 

Please comment!! I want to know FOUR things:

Where are you from?

How old are you?

Which word do you use?

Have you changed words in your life time?

A Patient’s Diagnosis of Contemporary Healthcare


It doesn’t look like the Affordable Healthcare Act will be repealed. I am not participating in that debate in this post. It’s really just an argument of will proper access to healthcare be horrible or will it just be awful. No question: the way for which healthcare is paid causes major price inflation. But even more fundamentally, it’s inadequate supply straining to meet overwhelming demand.


Not enough doctors (or techs, or nurses).

Visit my liberal arts posts in my Student Loan Crisis Category for this one. Stop guaranteeing federal Stafford loans for communications degrees and invest  in biology and health sciences. More than a quarter of our MDs are foreign born (it seems like more than that, doesn’t it?). That’s a stability risk. What happens as the economies in Pakistan, India, China, South Korea, Vietnam, and elsewhere continue to soar and all of these great doctors have more and more options over practicing in the United States? We can’t afford to lose a single percent of our doctors much less ten or twenty.


Too many patients. 

The largest generation of our population is turning 65 at a rate of 1,000 per day for the next 18 years. We are already at max capacity and the spit hasn’t yet hit the fan.

Avoid the plague like the plague.

Healthy people need to stay healthy. Anyone without chronic health problems has a civic responsibility (as well as a number of higher personal priorities) to keep it that way. We must all be tenacious about diet and exercise so that our doctors, nurses, and techs are using their time and talent treating adults and children with unpreventable diseases.

Avoid visiting the doctor or the hospital if at all possible.

I had the flu last year. I thought, maybe I should go to the doctor. Then I thought, “no, there are people there who need to see the doctor that don’t have enough of his divided time already. I need to quarantine myself, eat all the kiwis and oranges I can, take some zinc, and sleep as much as I can in between Netflix selections. What did you notice the last time you were in the hospital?

And for God’s sake, quit smoking already.




How The Little Guy (Or Gal) Wins

paulas donuts

Dunkin Donuts spends more than $100 million each year on advertising in the United States. Tim Horton’s has the airwaves covered in our neck of the woods. Someone should have told Paula’s Donuts to close up and look in the Want Ads. But something else happened instead.  The tiny, and until recently single location, Paula’s Donuts,became insanely popular. Cultish.  I’ve never met Paula and she may give you a completely different reason for their success than I will. But this is it.

First, for the record: Paula’s Donuts are incredible (chocolate cream is my all time fav). But people have fantastic products all the time and don’t turn any heads.

The giants, Tim Horton’s and Dunkin Donuts can’t defend their position as doughnut champs. They want to be all things to all people. They want to sell flatbread sandwiches, paninis, mocha lattes, lasagna, and everything under the sun.

They gave up that spot in your mind as being the best in the doughnut business and Paula’s was perfectly poised to snatch it away. They do ONE thing very well. Instead of making a cheap little doughnut to sell to as many people as possible, they make small cakes in doughnut form. They do something not just well, but DIFFERENT. Different, not well, is what makes people talk about you. And people can’t stop talking about Paula’s.