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A Dummy's Puppet's Ramblings - from Chip Martin
Mannequin American views and guidelines on marketing/PR trends, news from the world of puppets and ventriloquism, bits of humor and other interesting but useless information. I post every Tuesday and Friday.
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February 2008 - Posts

How to do More Than Just "Talk At" Your Newsletter Audience

A Dummy's Puppet's Ramblings - from Chip Martin, Puppet

Terry Fator to be at Ventriloquist Convention - More Importantly, I'll be There Too
Our friend Terry Fator, the winner of America's Got Talent, will be appearing at the 2008 International Ventriloquist Convention in July. (Alright, I've never actually met the guy, but I voted for him!)  Dale and I were fans of Terry's long before he appeared on America's Got Talent. He certainly deserves his success and I look forward to meeting him face-to-face.

More importantly, on Friday, July 18th, Dale and I will be conducting a workshop at the vent convention on "How to Write Original Comedy Dialogs for Ventriloquist Characters". Actually Dale will be conducting that workshop with Louie the Jockey instead of me. I'll be lounging around the pool. (Hey, I'm on vacation!) Leslie Brown, who assists Dale in putting words in my mouth, will be assisting the other two dummies in the workshop.

For more information on the International Ventriloquists' Convention go to http://www.venthaven.com/.

Silly Season for State Legislatures
Mississippi is considering a bill that would make it illegal for restaurants to serve obese people based on criteria prescribed by the State Department of Health. (I'll wait a beat while that sinks in.) I envision restaurants with scales at the door and kitchens keeping records of each patron's body mass. 

Ironically, at the same time Kentucky is considering legislation designed to honor Colonel Sanders of KFC fame. The state seeks to make fried chicken Kentucky's official "picnic food" and specifically mentions Colonel Sander's "Original Recipe". PETA is speaking out against the bill because it maintains KFC chickens are raised in a cruel manner. (I needed a good chicken joke here, but I just couldn't come up with one.) 

Continuing its on-going campaign to amuse me, PETA also has plans to put posters in Manila hotels implying that meat-eating causes impotence. The posters show a motel patron unsuccessful in his lovemaking with the caption, "Eating meat got you down? Get it up. Go vegetarian!" 

I can't make this stuff up.

Improving Newsletter and Email Marketing Efforts - Part 6
If you consistently provide opportunities to learn and to be entertained, team members and prospects can be trained to become loyal readers of your hard copy or electronic publications. B&M has experience in developing newsletters that include recurring content areas that attract and connect with readers ... building a faithful readership base.

To re-engage your readers introduce content that they will see as "value-added," such as:

  • How-to tips
  • Entertaining factoids
  • Cartoons or humorous columns 
  • Reader-generated content

In addition you can provide opportunities to interact via:

  • Polls
  • Contests
  • Games that relate to your company's history, branding, products, etc.
  • "Ask the Expert" or "Ask the Boss" feature

In short, if you simply "talk at" your audience and bombard them with company policies and procedures, you're doing nothing to build a "habitual readership." And in that case, you might as well save your time and money because your efforts are probably ending up in the circular file or being deleted without being read.

B&M produces scores of effective, award winning newsletters and email marketing tools. We'd be happy to produce a newsletter for you. Or we'll show you how to produce one for yourself. Call Dale at 262-789-1565. 

Drunk Speak
From our good friend, Tim Kaker:
THINGS THAT ARE DIFFICULT TO SAY WHEN INEBRIATED:
1. Nuclear
2. Preliminary
3. Proliferation
4. Cinnamon

THINGS THAT ARE VERY DIFFICULT TO SAY WHEN INEBRIATED:
1. Specificity
2. Anti-constitutionality
3. Transubstantiate

THINGS THAT ARE IMPOSSIBLE TO SAY WHEN INEBRIATED:
1. No thanks, I'm married.
2. Nope, no more booze for me!
3. Sorry, but you're not really my type.
4. Where is the nearest bathroom? I refuse to "P" on the side of the road.
5. I must be going home now, as I have to be at work in the morning.

 

 


Templates Are One of the Keys to Successful Email Marketing

Choose Models Who Look Like You
For a long time there's been conjecture about finding a better way of assisting on-line buyers to better evaluate how specific items of clothing will look on them. Until now we've been pretty much limited to looking at still photos of those items on tall skinny models who don't look like anyone I know.  

Now in an online first, you can pick a model which looks most like you, (or if you're a guy, most like your spouse, special friend, etc.) and see what you/they may look like in the items you select.

   Visitors to the KnickerPicker Dressing Room area can choose from three models vaguely representing small, medium and large-ish frames. You can dress the model in selected items and have her turn around so you can see the clothing from both the front and back. With another click the model will walk toward you and turn around again on command. Trust me, it's practical and it's fun. And by the way, it's a lingerie site and it sells thongs ... which definitely added to my fun.

Click here to evaluate the site for yourself. http://www.knickerpicker.com/dressing-room.asp  My only recommendation would be to add more body types ... which I'm sure will happen once this creative and user friendly ingenuity grabs more attention.

A Blueprint for Successful Email Marketing
Here are the top three things that make or break email marketing. (These are good tips ... really. Pass them on to your marketing department.)

  1. FROM LINE: This is the No. 1 factor that influences the success of an email marketing campaign. If recipients recognize who the email is from, they are more likely to read the subject line. When developing your from line, you have several options: It can be your company name, brand or product, market or newsletter name. Once you establish a from line, stick with it!
  2. SUBJECT LINE: This is the second most important factor influencing the success of your email marketing campaign. Recipients' email inboxes are cluttered. Your goal is to make the subject line compelling so that the recipient is motivated to open your email.
  3. TEMPLATES: Templates allow you to project a consistent look and feel to your communications. Elements to consider when developing a template:
  • About half of the recipients of your message will see both the header and the first few lines of your message in their preview pane. The content and images displayed in the preview pane can contribute to getting the recipient to open your message.
  • Pay attention to the top two inches of your message. Consider including an offer statement, a table of contents or other elements that will motivate recipients to open your email. Many marketers will use a design header that mirrors a version of their Web site to build consistency and help drive traffic to their Web site.
  • Half of the recipients will decide whether to keep reading after two sentences. Make sure you have a great introduction.
  • And finally, most marketers create their emails in both HTML and text formats. The majority of recipients are able to receive messages in HTML but they may prefer to receive text, especially if they regularly check email using a PDA.

 "C" is for "Cave In"
If you haven't watched Sesame Street for a few years, you're probably unaware of a rather insidious change on the show:
Cookie Monster has gone off cookies. Isn't that akin to Oscar the Grouch being nice and clean? Do the PC police know no bounds? Apparently not, because the fellow who once sang sweet love songs to his pastries now snacks on fruit and vegetables. 

     

NPR producer Elizabeth Blair unfortunately did not take issue with the dietary switch in her recent interview with Cookie Monster.  Blair, who calls Cookie Monster a "deeply sensuous character who speaks to our most basic appetites and desires," knuckled under to the healthniks by feeding CM broccoli during his interview.

P.S. Sesame Street has also thrown over Grover for Elmo, who is similar but with a more annoying voice.


Sports Illustrated Keeps Up With the Times

Trying to Meet Your Expectations
I know my readers expect certain things from my blog and I do my best to deliver. For those of you who haven't figured it out yet, I try to include three separate items in each blog post. 

  • Marketing/PR and affiliated IT tips/topics
  • Interesting "puppet" news or items about ventriloquists
  • A miscellaneous category that I just call "funny to me"

According to the most recent internet communication statistics, email newsletters and blogs lose readers for three primary reasons:

  • Content doesn't match what the recipient signed up to receive.
  • The timing of the emails or posts is too frequent or too infrequent.
  • The recipient loses interest.

With those three things in mind, I will keep my posts to twice a week, the articles will continue to be brief and they will focus on the three subjects listed above. To date, only two people have unsubscribed to the blog, (so we can talk about them now) while I gain new subscribers every week. Apparently I'm staying ahead of the curve and the blog is growing in popularity. Thanks to all of you for reading and I hope you enjoy today's articles and states of undress. 

Increase Effectiveness of Company Communications
For generations people have been saying that laughter is good medicine. And now scientists say that great-grandma was right. We now know that laughter releases helpful goodies in our bodies which boost our immune systems. In fact, the therapeutic benefits of laughter are being harnessed by academia and the business community into laughter workshops and other formalized chuckle sessions. Get the workers laughing and you raise productivity.  (If that's the case, Dale must be the most productive person in the world because he hasn't stopped laughing since reading my request for a raise.)

So how can you harness humor and make it work for you? Here's a simple rule which - although not a universal panacea - can help you use humor without risk. "Use humor about situations, not people." People will usually identify with a situation. And when your audience identifies with what you write, you'll attract their attention and they'll take the time to read about it.

Of course the best thing to do is to call Brown & Martin, Inc. We use humor everyday. We have to. It's the only way we can work in this hellhole place.

Avenue Q

I'm going to see some of my puppet friends in Avenue Q at the Milwaukee Performing Arts Center in a couple of days. I first saw the Tony winning production on Broadway. What can I say about Avenue Q? It uses cute little puppets to address sex, drinking, surfing the net for porn and other adult subjects. And they accomplish this in hysterically funny ways. Warning ... there is full puppet nudity ... and more.  

  Although the program emphatically insists that no character in the musical is based on any character from Sesame Street, it's pretty easy to see through that bit of legal-side-stepping. You can change the names, the colors, the sexual orientation and the voices ... but it's still pretty easy to pick out take-offs of Bert, Ernie, Cookie Monster and others. If you haven't seen Avenue Q, you should. It's more than "funny." It's "memorably funny".  More details at http://www.avenueq.com/ 

Keeping Up With the Times
Thanks to our friend Gene Mueller at WTMJ Radio for pointing out to us that some people are raising the question: "Is the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition needed any more, now that we have the Internet?" (Warning: If you were offended by the naked puppet photo above, you probably shouldn't read any further.) Supposedly the web is rife with naked people doing unspeakable acts (at least, that's what I've been told). So do American men still wait breathlessly at their mailboxes every February waiting for the S-I swimsuit issue? Would anyone complain if Sports Illustrated did away with the tradition?

I, for one, have no problem with female swimsuits, the models in them, or S-I putting them in my mailbox. It's true that times change. But S-I seems to be changing right with them.

Marisa Miller who‘s been in the swimsuit issue for 7 consecutive years, finally made it onto the cover.  And what is her 2008 swimsuit made of? Paint! (I bet you're looking more closely at the photo now aren't you?) Marisa appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman last week, the day after she learned that her photo would be on the cover of S-I.  I think Dave was barely listening as he flipped through the pages of S-I asking Marisa what it was like to be shaved and painted. The interview isn't as funny as Dave's "Ventriloquist Week," but it's amusing ... even to a puppet. Click here to see it. http://www.cbs.com/latenight/lateshow/video_player/index/php/945838.phtml

 


Starbucks Holds Key to Jumpstarting Economy

Puppet - Up! - Uncensored 
I'm a big fan of The Jim Henson Company's "Puppet Up! - Uncensored". The show mixes traditional comedic improvisation with a bunch of puppets operated by the world renowned puppeteers of The Jim Henson Company. This is not your average "Night at the Improv," and it is definitely not for children. It's very much like Drew Carey's "Who's Line is it, Anyway?" but with puppets. The show ran on the TBS channel last year and may be back sometime in 2008.

Most adults enjoy and appreciate the uninhibited anarchy of a live puppet performance based on audience input for plots, topics and locations. The puppeteers perform in front of a comedy club audience without scripts and in full view of the audience. One very funny skit is based on a group of hot dogs who are addicted to magic and are attending a support group meeting. (photo below)
 
Click here to get to the TBS "Puppet Up - Uncensored" page and then click on "watch video clips".  Be careful ... it's addictive.

Starbucks Can Restart Our Economy
The number one reason to truly believe we're going into a recession: Starbucks is closing stores. Yep, the frappuccino giant is shutting roughly 100 locations and slowing its rate of expansion from 8 stores a day to a mere 5 a day. But I believe Starbucks holds the key to countering the housing market collapse. If Starbucks offered a $1 coffee alternative to its outrageously priced espressos, frappuccinos and other products that I don't know how to order, it could have an enormous effect on the economy.

Suppose Starbucks sells 10 million $1 cups of coffee a day as opposed to 10 million cups of its $4.65 caramel frappuccino venti with whipped cream? That would be like the Saudis making oil available for $29 a barrel! It would provide consumers with an extra $182 million each week!  Annually, the extra $9.4 billion could buy a lot of HDTVs and other non-pretentious items that don't pass through the digestive system as quickly as a Starbucks beverage. (I just know that David Shapiro is going to check my math.)

Of course you loyal Starbucks' customers would still be able to enjoy the grossly overpriced standard Starbucks' products of your choice. You just wouldn't be helping the economy.

FMAO in Wisconsin
It's winter in Wisconsin
And the gentle breezes blow
Seventy miles an hour
At twenty-five below.
Oh, how I love Wisconsin
When the snow's up to your butt
You take a breath of winter
And your nose gets frozen shut.
Yes, the weather here is wonderful
So I guess I'll hang around
I could never leave Wisconsin
Cause I'm frozen to the ground!


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