The Importance of Getting Your Details Correct


My partner Merianna was preaching at a nearby church last month and she needed a time estimate for the drive that Sunday morning. We googled the church and got the address. While on the results page, I noticed their “Hours” stated they were closed. It was a Sunday. That felt… peculiar.

It wasn’t intentional, of course. It’s just a tiny detail that is easy to overlook. But when you only have, on average, about 3-5 seconds to “convert” someone to making a click or engaging with your page in some way, these tiny details add up.

We all like to pretend that we’re expert marketing strategists. We grimace at bad commercials, parse political campaign logos, and pretend to disregard those annoying Facebook video posts from mega-global sugar water makers. We tend to think we don’t need help with our marketing strategies, especially the online ones, because… anyone can create a Facebook Page or Twitter account or even website. It’s easy!


Well, yes.

But not really. Not if you want to spend your time doing what you’re good at and not making tiny mistakes that add up over time and actually do harm to your “brand” (and yes, we all have a brand whether we like to admit that or not). Seemingly trivial details such as having your Google Business information correct or your Webmaster settings correct for the best Google results or your Facebook Page details can be the deal breaker for someone deciding on whether to call or visit your business, church, nonprofit, etc.

Budget wisely, but keep in mind that doing so doesn’t mean cutting the corners by turning over your very important marketing details to a summer intern or someone who has a mobile phone and a Twitter account. Call us if you need help.

Learning From the Current Media Revolution

From Jim VandeHei, who was one of the co-founders of Politico…

In coming years, the revolution will likely demolish much of what we read and watch now. State and local newspapers and TV? Gone. Their models are fatally flawed. General interest magazines such as Time and Newsweek? Gone or unrecognizable shells of their former selves. Traditional TV and cable? Shrinking and scrambling. Clickbait machines such as Gawker, or Ozy, or Mashable? Gone or gobbled up by bigger players.

At the same time, the need for content, especially (but not only) video content, will explode. It will be a mad rush that makes the 1980s’ race to create new cable channels seems like a leisurely stroll.

The pipes for distribution of content are mostly set. Facebook, Amazon, Google and Snapchat will be joined by the savviest traditional media companies such as Comcast and new media players, most notably Netflix, Apple, Vimeo and others.

Source: Escaping the Digital Media ‘Crap Trap’ — The Information

At the end of the article, he posits that we are entering a golden age of content creation and that consumers will happily pay for eclectic and efficiently delivered media as mobile destroys desktop paradigms, and streaming destroys cable.

I’d include podcasting in this conversation as well. It’s not hard to fathom that podcasting, or some iteration of it, really does catch on “in the mainstream” as our mobile devices and autos get smarter and more in tune with our own listening preferences as compared to broadcast NPR or radio.

Just this week, I finally convinced my parents to sign up for Netflix and Hulu. They love it. “Why would we pay for cable now?” Dad asked. I’ve been asking the same since I cut the cord back in 2006 in favor of other ways to find and watch the media that most appealed to me and our family.

It’s easier, cheaper, and (I think) more fun than ever. Apple TV, Roku, Plex etc have made the content game enjoyable again.

Businesses, churches, and nonprofits can learn a great many lessons by observing the current revolution / rebirth that journalism and content industries are currently experiencing. Find faith in the ability to embrace the eclectic. Find your voice and your audience. Stop trying to be all things to all people and broadcast messages (especially on Facebook and social media). You’ll be rewarded by your fans.


Metaphor for Looking Ahead By Looking Back

By pushing NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to its limits, an international team of astronomers has shattered the cosmic distance record by measuring the farthest galaxy ever seen in the universe. This surprisingly bright infant galaxy, named GN-z11, is seen as it was 13.4 billion years in the past, just 400 million years after the Big Bang. GN-z11 is located in the direction of the constellation of Ursa Major.

Source: Hubble Team Breaks Cosmic Distance Record | NASA

Our eyes, like the (still) incredible Hubble Telescope, are time machines. We see things as they happen in the past, whether they are right in front of us or 13.4 billion light years away. We are a curious and amazing species that can process signals to make inferences about our own future.

Whether it’s looking into deep space or contemplating the future of your life or business, don’t ever stop visioning. Our brains are built for such duties. and

“The site wasn’t hacked and the Bush campaign didn’t forget to register a domain. Bush campaign spokesman Tim Miller said that the campaign website is and that has been the case since the beginning of the campaign. The campaign has never used, and Mr. Miller says that searches for “Jeb Bush” bring up the correct website.”

Source: For, a Mystery Wrapped Inside a Domain Name – Washington Wire – WSJ

It’s always shocking to me that political candidates at any level don’t own the .com, .org, and .net domains of their respective names… same with church leaders, business leaders, and any sort of public personalities.

You should also have a blog at your namespace and stop relying on Facebook (especially if you have a public persona).

Why does South Carolina remain one of 4 states without equal-pay laws?

Disgusting that we need to have such protections. Even more disgusting that our white, male, heterosexual lawmakers refuse to believe this is worth their approval at the behest of the fears of leadership and / or disappointing their chamber of commerce donors…

“Seven years after President Barack Obama signed legislation that makes it easier for women to challenge discriminatory pay in court, South Carolina remains one of only four states in the country without equal pay protections.”

Source: Why does South Carolina remain one of 4 states without equal-pay laws? | McClatchy DC

Change and the Real World

More churches, small businesses, and barely surviving companies need to heed this advice…

“Those who want things always to stay the same are not living in the real world,” Ms. Wintour said in a recent interview at her office overlooking the Hudson River at Condé Nast’s new headquarters, One World Trade Center. “It’s like perfection. Doesn’t exist.”

Source: Condé Nast Adapts to New Forces, Unsettling Some Inside

Amazon Kills Shelfari

Live by the Amazon sword, die by the Amazon sword…

The worst thing about the whole “merger” is that Amazon is giving Shelfari members just two months to move all their data over to Goodreads. I actively participate in two Shelfari groups that have been operating since 2008/2009 and have thousands of discussion threads, challenges, and games. The move will likely kill one of those groups completely and severely impact the other. So two months just doesn’t cut it – it is rude and sends a message that Amazon doesn’t truly care about some of its best customers.

Source: Amazon Kills Shelfari

Meanwhile, I’m updating my LibraryThing profile (which is 40% owned by Abebooks, which is owned by … Amazon), where I’ve been since 2005.

Even Google Fails

“Vic was just this constant bug in Larry’s ear: ‘Facebook is going to kill us. Facebook is going to kill us,'” says a former Google executive. “I am pretty sure Vic managed to frighten Larry into action. And voila: Google+ was born.”

Source: Inside the sad, expensive failure of Google+

Don’t worry about your competitors. Make your own stuff excellent and people will show up.

Should Churches and Non-Profits Worry About Page Views?

When I’m working with clients, the topic of page views often comes up.

Page views are requests that are made to load a specific HTML page on the web. In the early days of the www, we didn’t have great metrics or analytics to measure statistics up against the more mature offline world, and page views became one of the default ways to tell if a site or page was successful. It’s a terrible metric that is easily gamed, and those of us who work in marketing know that page views are not valuable to determine a site’s health.

Yet, we continue to fixate on them from terrible “clickbait” Buzzfeed headlines to Communication Ministers constantly checking a site dashboard to see if the latest Christmas Cantata podcast post has more links than last year’s version.

Ev Williams, founder of Blogger and Twitter and now Medium, has an interesting point for churches and non-profits to ponder as we head into the new year…

I would rather have fewer people stop by and read something for five minutes that makes them think than a million people stop by for five seconds because of a catchy headline.

The optimistic part of the message is that advertisers get this too. Brand advertising has never worked on the Internet anyways, because banner ads don’t work. So whatever the form factor is, people have to be actually engaged in something for it to be meaningful.

via Q&A with Evan Williams, co-founder of Medium and Twitter.

Or as Cory Haik writes,

Purely chasing pageviews is a fool’s errand. In the short term, it gets you a bigger comScore number. But those calories are empty.

The clients I like to work with are groups that have a mission to make the world a better place in some fashion. For those clients, I like to keep reminding them that thousands or millions of page views mean next-to-nothing compared to actually engaging a few people and impacting their lives. So the answer to my question in the title of this post would be a flat out “No.”

As the web continues to mature and change, we’ll certainly move away from the page view as the venerable metric of a site’s success. Attention, engagement, sharing… those are much better metrics. Particularly for the types of clients that want to change the world.

Great meeting with the CBF of SC office staff again this afternoon. I’m excited to be working on their new website and hope it contributes to our fellowship’s growth in the coming years!

End of Geek Culture and Rise of Tasteless Marketing


SXSW has come to epitomize so much of what is wrong with web marketing in 2014.

I gave up on the idea of attending SXSW every year after things took a turn for the worse (in my opinion) back in the 2009-2010 timeframe. We saw the first real takeoff of Twitter at SXSW in 2007 then Foursquare hit it big at the show in 2008. Since then, it’s been a place to “find the next Twitter” or “improve your brand marketing.”

As an agency person who cares deeply about social media and about marketing in general, I just can’t bring myself to go see this spectacle. That might make me an elitist hipster or whatever, but the truth is I have taste (again, in my opinion). That taste doesn’t correlate with things like fashion but I do have good taste (imo) when it comes to marketing.

I’ll keep doing what I’m doing with our agency here in sunny SC and leave the “idea vomiting” and “hashtag highness” surface level approach to “marketing” to my friends who go to SXSW from the larger agencies with insane expense accounts but a shallow grasp of tasteful marketing.

Given SXSW’s status as a birthplace of social media, the festival attracts an outsized number of self-styled gurus leading panels to educate the less savvy. Attendees flock to standing-room-only sessions with names like “Idea Vomiting” in the hopes that beyond the bluster, the social media ninjas and rockstars in attendance will share some pearls of wisdom. “Eighty percent of it is useless,” confides a man who is attending on behalf of a large American company. “You’re looking for those diamonds in the rough.” We are sitting next to one another at a session named “High On Hashtags”. A colleague of his, overhearing us, raves about a session she attended the previous day called “The Digital Cronut”. “I heard that was awesome,” her colleague says.

via Hucksters and hustlers: inside the hidden brand orgy of SXSW | The Verge.

I kept checking our mail all day (working from home with pups) until I just realized it’s President’s (Presidents’ ?) Day.

Running a business certainly turns you into a strange person.

ZeroScope Launch


I’m really excited that Harrelson Agency is helping out with the launch of ZeroScope this month. We’ve been working hard on this project for the past six months.

Here’s a little info:

Stethoscopes should not be a cause of the spread of disease by healthcare providers. ZeroScope is a one-use and easily applied device that attaches to the drum of a stethoscope and provides immediate and complete barrier defense between the instrument and the patient receiving care.

We’re looking to raise the money needed to help us launch ZeroScope as a cost effective and ubiquitous device to solve the problem of hospital acquired infections that lead to more costly treatments or even death.

via ZeroScope Stethoscope Barrier Protection for Patients | Indiegogo.

If you can, go help us out with the manufacturing and shipping costs. If you can’t do that, spread the word on your favorite social networks of choice.

Many thanks!

Here’s the official IndieGoGo widget:

Finally, Basecamp Android App!

Basecamp has a native Android app now! Fantastic… big part of what we use at Harrelson Agency to do what we do.

Basecamp for Android was designed from the ground up to work great, look sharp, and take advantage of the capabilities of your recent Android phone and tablet. Create new projects on the go. Open links directly in the app. Jump to any project from a shortcut on your home screen. You can attach or save Basecamp files in Dropbox, Google Drive or wherever you store them. You can even start a new message with text you wrote in another app. Basecamp works the way you do on Android.

via Basecamp Announcements.

Don’t Do Branding First

Here’s my daily podcast from today where I explain the differences between marketing, advertising, branding, and public relations (at least in my opinion):

Today, Sam evaluates those differences with a number of warnings and suggestions about how to do your marketing better and spend your money more wisely (and how to avoid the chutes and climb the right ladders).

via ThinkingDaily: Don’t Do Branding | Thinking.FM.

It’s a point I like to make with clients and always a fun discussion.


Andy Beaumont on the plague of Pop-Ups 2.0 and the reason why publishers of all sizes are rushing to put them on their sites (hint.. doing analytics wrong):

I have tested this design pattern with real people, and a significant portion of them believe that they must do what the box is begging them for in order to close the overlay. These people remember, they’re people, not “conversions”, are signing up to a newsletter they don’t want. They’re then going to be irritated by it for several months until they work out how to unsubscribe from it. The analytics guru you brought in is walking away with a chunk of your money, in exchange for having pissed off a whole bunch of existing and potential customers.

via The Value of Content — I. M. H. O. — Medium.

Tom Merritt and the New Economy

Tom Merritt is not only an excellent sci-fi author (seriously), but an amazing talent in podcasting and tech punditry. I’ve listened to him from the days of TechTV a decade ago into CNet’s Buzz Out Loud and into his daily show on TWiT called Tech News Today.

So, this sucked…

After some soul searching, I’ve decided that we do need an in-studio anchor for Tech News Today, and a News Director who can help us build the kind of organization you can count on for authoritative tech news and information.

So it’s with a heavy heart that I’m announcing that we’re not going to renew Tom’s contract as host of TNT. His last show will be at the end of the month.

via | …the revolution will be streamed… – Blog – Changes at TWiT, Part 1.

Comments closed, indeed.

I’m a big fan of TWiT and Leo Laporte’s work on building his own podcasting empire, but this is not a good move.

Amazingly enough, Tom and his pal Roger recorded this podcast tonight about the nature of the new economy, working for yourself vs working for others and the uncertain road of going it alone.

It’s worth your time to go listen.

God knows this is something I’ve been going through with setting up my own business. Tom has been an inspiration for both my marketing agency, my podcasting aspirations for Thinking.FM and a plethora of other businesses I have in mind.

Godspeed, Tom. Sucks for now but things will be better than ever soon with the ability to handle the NSFW crowd like you do. Keep writing, podcasting, and inspiring the rest of us who want to follow you into the new economy.

Why I Will Never Hire Unpaid Interns

Internship has become the new entry level job, and that’s not good for anyone. Companies like the one I’m trying to build with a 100 year outlook would never trade short term savings for such a sham.

Do yourself a favor and go read this long but interesting piece that has so many fractals in so many career paths…

Fear inhibits innovation. In expensive cities, people live in constant fear. A small wrong move can upend everything, so they conform, terrified of losing their jobs, apartments, health insurance.  They conform intellectually, and they conform in behavior. They cling to a career ladder with a drop-off to hell. I don’t judge them. People do what they need to do to survive. But when survival is an aspiration, society has failed.

via Why You Should Never Have Taken That Prestigious Internship – PolicyMic.