From the Blog

Posted by brianrants at 7:06 am

The Nokero Ed (N50) in Uganda

In the past 4 months at Nokero, we’ve done a complete corporate rebranding, repositioning of our products, and redesign of our packaging and collateral. Since some orders ship directly from our factory in China, the first glimpse I got of our new packaging is in the hands of this beautiful Ugandan woman. Amazing.

Posted by brianrants at 12:24 pm

I just ran the stats on our Holiday marketing push at Nokero, comparing this year to the same days on 2011. Black Friday was up 250%, Cyber Monday up more than 500%! While overall traffic has been trending up since overhauling the website and ecommerce platform, on this important shopping weekend in 2011 there were very similar traffic levels. However the conversion rates were significantly higher, leading to more transactions, larger sale amounts, and overall increased revenue.

Some potential factors

  • Redesigning the site: simplifying the messaging, streamlining the user paths, and securing the checkout process
  • Targeted promotions: focused display advertising on key demographics, like eco-conscious consumers at
  • Filtered enewsletters: targeted previous consumers and active recipients in MailChimp, to avoid bombarding casual subscribers
  • Blog & Social media promotion: highlighting doorbusters from 6-10am, creating a sense of urgency around a few key products which led to additional sales

Globalization has brought issues of communication, language, and power distance to the fore of daily business negotiations. The effective international negotiator understands how these issues affect communication while still leaving ample room for the variance that exists within all cultures. She also cultivates good judgment by understanding the true motivations driving people, rather than just the words they use or the positions they take. Finally, a skilled negotiator understands the nature of power varies across cultures, fields, and industries, and is able to cultivate leverage appropriately.

The Effective International Negotiator

The challenge of online marketing is not access to data, but creating useful and actionable date and visualizations thereof. Google Analytics keeps raising the bar in what can be done, with the semi-recent additions of custom reports and email reports. Over at my company’s blog, I wrote an article giving you three Google Analytics dashboards that you can literally click and add to your Google Analytics. Click. Add. It should all be this easy, shouldn’t it?


My mission statement in business comes from an old, wise business leader Peter F. Drucker. “The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer.” In marketing too often we focus on the first part of that phrase. The thrill of the hunt, beating out competitors to land a big prize…and then from there we become successively less excited, less disciplined, and less intentional about keeping that customer.

We’ve all heard the stat that attracting a new customer costs 5x as much than keeping an existing one (see infographic below). Are we putting 5x as much effort into customer service as sales?

Here’s an incredible infographic that shares such powerful stats as

  • 86% of people have quit doing business with a company because of a bad customer experience, up from 59% 4 years ago
  • 91% of unhappy customers will not willingly do business with your organization again
  • Customer church is caused by feelings of poor treatment 68% of the time

A website is a business tool, a means to achieving ends including lead generation, new product launches, and providing support to end users. Therefore the primary goal is not a “pretty” site, but a “useful” site. Design elements like colors, textures, and fonts should support the business goals, not detract from them.

Read the full article I wrote over at Blue Riot Labs called “Consistency + Simplicity = “Winning” in Website Design.

If you’ve scoured the internet looking to remove that title page in Word for Mac 2011, here’s one way to get it done.

Insert a Cover Page

As counter-intuitive as this seems, go ahead and insert a new cover page from the “Document Elements” tab.

Format Page Numbers and Remove Cover Page

Then, a small document icon (“ABC”) appears, with a drop down menu. From here you can change numbering (have the document start numbering at 0, 1, 2, etc to accomodate title pages) as well as remove the cover page.

In addition to your ongoing marketing efforts, you will often have unique events that affect your data significantly: your store gets picked up in a local newscast, your product gets a review online, or you have a speaking engagement. In order to understand those trends, create annotations for those days so when you review data history you can remember why that spike occurred.


My copywriting for BRL was featured at

When we say “oh that’s a great site,” we tend to attribute it to the design, the colors, and the simple navigation. While those all matter greatly, increasingly I’ve found in our web firm that clients underemphasize copywriting in the design process. The appearance and UI/UX (user interface/user experience) will keep them around, but effective calls to action are what convert them into customers.

Here’s a few items I’ve found most helpful in writing good copy


What is the personality and culture of your firm? If you are a quirky and gregarious supply chain consultant, you can make a dry subject much more interesting by letting that personality come through. If your firm appeals cases before the supreme court, the severity and decorum of that institution should inform a more conservative approach to copywriting. What they read on your site should match what they hear when they pick up the phone or see when they walk into your offices.


Who you are must be balanced by who your audience is! You might be a young, entrepreneurial, informal company in a very mature, older industry like manufacturing in the rust belt. In every project, create a “profile” of the typical member of your target market: “40-65 year old male; purchasing manager with a blue-collar background; basic familiarity with the web, but not entirely comfortable; wants to find information quickly, with minimal fuss.” You can still reflect your culture in the design and copy of the site, but the goal should always be to provide your customers the information they need tailored to the way they prefer to discover it.

Less is more

One of the best exercises you can do is to write the copy without stopping or worrying about length and making it perfect. Then, step away from it for an hour or two, and come back with the goal of cutting it in half. After than, seek to cut it in half again! You will likely not succeed in the final cut, but this exercise will fore you to find the essence of what you are trying to communicate. Look to eliminate repetition, confusing industry-speak (unless it is appropriate to your audience), and less-persuasive points. There is always room to put other differentiators into a blog article, but only your best and most brief pitch should take up valuable real estate on your website! gave some wonderful praise to my copywriting at by including it in “The Ten Commandments of Writing Copy That Wins Clients“ (see numbers 7 and 9). This article is well worth reading in its entirety, and links to some great examples of web copywriting.