Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Circuit City RIP

Circuit City closed the last of its stores this Sunday.

Here's a look back at their website for the last year and a half (starting January 2008).

View the slide show or click to go to Picasa album which will provide more viewing options.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Guidelines for Presentations

We give lots of presentations. Most of them aren’t good, mine included, so I’ve developed this guideline to inspire us all to do better, and to organize some of the basic tips on creating great presentations.


If you want inspiration, one of the best public libraries of great talks is TED.com . Most of this has nothing to do with email marketing, but is an awesome source of great thinking by persuasive speakers. There is a lot we all can learn by watching the greats.


The number one goal of your presentation should be to persuade your audience to do something. If you don’t expect them to DO SOMETHING and CHANGE after you speak to them, then don’t waste your time or theirs. Every business presentation is about persuasion.

If you believe in your idea, sell it. If you don’t, stay home.

Guy Kawasaki gives great, persuasive presentations. As a former Apple evangelist, you’d expect that. He had to compete with Steve Jobs. His 10/20/30 Rule for PowerPoint is a classic. If you are looking to improve your presentations do two things.

  1. Focus on persuasion. Ask, “What do I want your audience to do?” Then focus only on facts that support them making that decision.
  2. Read Guy’s blog linked below, and follow his advice for keeping in short, and clear.

10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint – Guy Kawasaki

- 10 slides

- 20 minutes

- 30 point or larger font

You think 20 minutes isn’t enough to get your story across? Watch the hundreds of AMAZING stories told in 20 minutes or less at TED.com, and you’ll know it can be done. After listening for 20 minutes to any of these speakers you’ll know MUCH more, and likely be persuaded to adopt their point of view.

Focus on problem first, then our solution. A typical slide order might be

  1. The Problem
  2. Your solution
  3. … Evidence necessary to persuade them that your solution is the best solution
  4. Projections and milestones
  5. Status and timeline
  6. Summary and call to action

Another great read is Seth Godin’s blog post Really Bad PowerPoint or in his ten-page ebook. Seth’s tips:

Four Components to a Great Presentation

1. Make yourself cue cards. Don’t put them on the screen. Put them in your hand. This simple device will keep you from putting words on slides just so you can read them.

2. Make slides that reinforce your words, not repeat them. Create slides that demonstrate, with emotional proof, that what you’re saying is true not just accurate.

3. Create a written document as a leave-behind. Put in as many footnotes or details as you like. Then, when you start your presentation, tell the audience that you’re going to give them all the details of your presentation after it’s over, and they don’t have to write down everything you say. Remember, the presentation is to make an emotional sale. The document is the proof that helps the intellectuals in your audience accept the idea that you’ve sold them on emotionally.

4. Create a feedback cycle. If your presentation is for a project approval, hand people a project approval form and get them to approve it, so there’s no ambiguity at all about what you’ve all agreed to.

The reason you give a presentation is to make a sale. So make it. Don’t leave without a “yes,” or at the very least, a commitment to a date or to future deliverables.

What makes for a great presentation?

“The home run is easy to describe: You put up a slide. It triggers an emotional reaction in the audience. They sit up and want to know what you’re going to say that fits in with that image. Then, if you do it right, every time they think of what you said, they’ll see the image (and vice versa).” – Seth Godin

What Can Your PowerPoint Presentation Learn from TV Commercials?

Think about it. TV commercials tell as story and sell you in 30 seconds. That’s talent! This MarketingProfs article is a great summary about how to use TV ad techniques to make your presentation better. The steps, in brief:

1: Kaboom Them Into Waking Up!

2: Always Tell A Story

3: Use Suspense, Not Mystery

4: Don't Bore Them with Your Solutions. Bring Up the Problem!

5: Reduce Risk

6: Let Your Audience Know They're Not Guinea Pigs

7: Close the #@$%*&^ Sale!

8: Bring on a Quirky Finale!

The book, Say It With Presentations by McKinsey’s Gene Zelazny is a classic and a quick read. I can’t do it justice in a brief summary, but here’s my best shot, with a little editorial.

Design the Presentation

Why are you giving this presentation?

Answer this question seriously before you even start to create the presentation.

Whom do you want to convince?

Designing a presentation without an audience in mind is like writing a love letter and addressing it To Whom It May Concern. - Ken Haemer, AT&T

There is no such thing as a dumb audience. If they don’t understand, it’s because you can’t communicate. – Henry Golub, American Express

It’s not what you say that counts, it’s what they hear. – Red Auerbach, Boston Celtics

How much time do you have for the presentation?

Determine your message?

This is the part that should be like a TV commercial. If you can’t come up with what you would say if you only had 30 seconds, then don’t bother wasting an hour of someone’s time. You need to get the message right before you create the story.

Craft the storyline.

Write the introduction.

- Purpose

- Importance

- Preview

Plan the ending.

- Summarize major points.

- Spell out the recommendation

- Present your action plan

- Ask for agreement and commitment

- Close off with “next steps”

Build a storyboard

Deliver the Presentation

You are the star! Not your presentation. If that makes you uncomfortable, stay home and send a written report. The presentation used to be known as a “visual aide”. That’s what it is, just an aide. You are the star.

The three things that matter in your delivery:

· Confidence

· Conviction

· Enthusiasm

Great delivery takes practice. Practice makes perfect.


Churhill rehearsed, Kennedy rehearsed, Martin Luther King rehearsed, Clinton rehearsed, Obama rehearses.

Don’t kid yourself. No matter how great an orator is, they rehearse. You’re kidding yourself if you think you can even be GOOD if you don’t rehearse.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

ClickZ Column - Segmentation: Yes, You Can!

I started writing a monthly column for ClickZ today. My first column is titled, "Segmentation: Yes, You Can!" I've found that while the idea that segmentation is the "right thing to do", many marketers struggle to actually get the job done.

In the column, I address some of the barriers I've heard, and how marketers I've worked with have overcome and achieved great success.