In praise of Constant Contact

I recently began email marketing BloodLines Creative on a limited basis via Constant Contact.

I know that if I really want to gain more exposure for the range of advertising and marketing communications services that BloodLines Creative can deliver, I need to push that message out to a larger audience.

I’ve had great success with a very targeted mailing piece featuring a bright red envelope with the message, “Careful. This package contains Blood samples.” Inside is a mini-portfolio/case history of some of the work I’ve done along with a customized letter in which I request a meeting to discuss the marketing or advertising challenges the recipient may be facing and how I can help.

But if I really want to grow my business, I need to expand beyond single mailing pieces and email marketing makes great sense. I get spammed all the time with emails and I know that my email messaging may just be adding to the pile so I’m trying to keep the messaging interesting, a bit playful and at least ask the recipient to learn a little more about me with links to my website, to the work featured in the email, this blog and my LinkedIn and twitter accounts. Here’s the most recent email I sent out a few days ago.

I did all this with the help of Ed Madden and Barry Lee at E-Merge Interactive. ( I can’t say enough about how much they have helped me on my interactive journeys. They were the ones who recommended I try Constant Contact so I did and set up a 60-day trial basis.

My original email list had about 250 names but the 60-day trial only lets you send out to 100 contacts. That’s okay. I figured if I didn’t get any angry rebukes or messages back, that I could move forward with the broader list once I actually became a subscriber.

What I didn’t expect was the personal attention that Constant Contact has lavished upon me from the moment I signed up.

A day after I signed up for the trial run, a customer rep called me and introduced herself. Her name is Karen Bennett. She lives in Colorado but was raised in England and her accent made her a bit difficult to understand at first. Karen told me she was here to help and answer any of my questions and blah, blah, blah. I largely ignored her first initial call. But then she called again, wondering why I hadn’t sent any emails yet and could she help me in any way to get things going. I assured her the problems were all on my end as I was trying to reduce the number of contacts and get things worked out with all the links.

So we sent the first email to my 100 contacts and it was opened by 42 of them and we had 15 click throughs on the links which is a very good number and only one person opted out.

That seemed pretty good to me so we sent out a second one this week and though the amount of people who opened went slightly down as well as the click throughs, they’re still good numbers and I can also see who opened the first and the second and maybe, just maybe, they might think of BloodLines Creative as a strong source of creative support for their particular needs.

Then Karen called me again. That was three calls from Constant Contact asking if they could help. This time, I was all ears. Karen told me about how I could link the emails to my Facebook, LinkedIn and twitter accounts. I didn’t know that I could but I did and suddenly, that email had a lot more exposure.

She also told me how I could create my own QR code to put on all those accounts that would take them to my Constant Contact emails and how I could create follow buttons as well. All things I still need to do – but all things I didn’t know I could do until Karen told me so.

This is what customer service is all about.

This is how you get customers who aren’t even paying customers yet to blog about what a great job the company is by having service reps who really want to help their customers grow.

They know that if their customers experience success, they’ll grow right along with them.

Same premise as what I’m doing.

I’m ready to grow. And I’m ready to help.

What can I do for you?





Was it a good day to be creative in St. Louis?

Every day is a good day to be creative.

Some are just better than others. Depending upon who you are and what you do, today may have been the perfect day to be creative – or maybe not.

Snow and ice shut down just about everything – including the St. Louis ADDY awards that were scheduled to take place this evening at Plush.

I’m sure all the creatives that were nominated for the ADDYs were looking forward to tonight’s show. It was going to be the first time in a long time that the winners would actually be presented their awards. I honestly can’t remember the last time that happened – I think I was at Hughes but I’m not totally sure.

Acceptance speeches were kaboshed long ago – back when the ADDYs were called The Flair Awards. The  mere name “Flair”  sounds like a throwback. But that’s what they were called back in the 80s and somewhere on our basement shelves I still have a box full of them.

For at least the past decade, ADDY finalists would be on display and you could mill about, visit with others and then they’d showcase the winners by presenting them on a show reel. Everything went much quicker that way which was good considering the amount of categories there are. This year, though, people would get the chance to connect the names with the faces.

Tonight was going to be the night of nights for St. Louis’ creative community. Only it wasn’t.

No problem. The show will go on as it’s been re-scheduled for next Thursday evening. Same time. Same place.

So the question is, was it a good day to be creative? Could you actually focus while a blanket of ice followed by the largest snowfall we’ve seen in the past two years was taking place outside your window? And if you were lucky enough to be among those nominated for an ADDY, what did the early cancellation do to your creative juices?

I honestly can’t say.

I didn’t enter anything this year though in hindsight, I wish I would have because I had a few pieces that were ADDY-worthy. Still, I’m kind of on the outside looking in. I’m not an Ad Club member right now and the Call for Entries passed me by along with the time frame for when they were due.

Here in my own little office, my back is to the window and I largely ignored the outside elements, diving in to a project, completely oblivious to what was going on outside.

My creative juices were flowing. At least, I thought they were.

Now that I’ve taken the time to review today’s output, I wonder if I wasn’t distracted by the snow fall and the cancellation of the ADDYs after all.

All my concepts involved a generous use of white space.




We can learn a lot from LeBron

LeBron James is arguably, the best player in the NBA and there’s a reason for that. He doesn’t think he’s good enough yet.

We should all follow that same mode of thinking, no matter what our age or what we do. We can be better. But to be better, we have to work harder, have more determination to improve what we do and always be willing to learn more.

In a recent AP interview, LeBron was talking about where he is now compared to how he was back in 2006 when he made his first All-Star game. In that game, he made 29 points, led a huge comeback and was the MVP of the game.

But he’s even better now. According to LeBron, “At that point in time, I wasn’t a complete basketball player. I couldn’t shoot as well as I can now, I never posted up back then. You continue to learn each and every day, it makes you a better player.”

Same thing about whatever it is that we do. That simple life lesson can be applied at home, at work or with whatever hobby or passion you pursue. In the world of advertising and marketing communications, if you’re relying on yesterday’s tactics and techniques, it’s going to be tough to get better. If you’re not constantly reading up on new ways to reach people and making yourself a lifelong student of communicating with others, you might as well find something else to do.

Advertising and marketing communications certainly aren’t the same as they used to be. The good old days are gone. They’ve been replaced by the here and the now and that will change again before we know it. Like King James says, “You continue to learn each and every day.”

LeBron went on to say, “I want to be the greatest of all-time. I try to do whatever it takes to get me in that position.”

We should all do the same.


Rooting for the Cardinals – here and in Rome

Cardinals nation was stunned this week with the news that Chris Carpenter won’t be returning. And much of the world was taken by surprise that Pope Benedict XVI is calling it quits.

The search for a new starting pitcher for the St. Louis baseball Cardinals and a new Pope that will be elected by the College of Cardinals has now begun and it seems they’ll both be making their debut some time in April.

Meanwhile, the world press has a new topic to pontificate and local St. Louis sportswriters will have plenty to say throughout spring training as to who will join the ranks of Wainwright, Garcia, Westbrook and a trimmed down Lance Lynn when the season officially gets underway.

There seem to be plenty of options for both positions.

Being a lifelong Cardinals fan, I’m certainly interested in what young fireballer will step up to join the starting rotation. I certainly have my doubts about Jaime’s shoulder and Jake’s longevity as it seemed his velocity was down last year and there just aren’t that many Greg Maddux-type pitchers to go around anymore. Still, the task awaiting these Cardinals is nowhere near as significant as the task awaiting the College of Cardinals when they convene in Rome to elect Pope Benedict XVI’s successor.

March Madness indeed.

Being a cradle Catholic, I’m anxious to see how the Papal election will turn out. I know many Americans and particularly a lot of St. Louisans are wondering about the possibilities of Cardinal Timothy Dolan stepping up to the plate and becoming the next Pontiff. Personally, I’d love to see that – Cardinal Dolan used to come over to our house for dinner back when I was a teen. Both he and my brother, Monsignor Francis Blood, studied at the North American College in Rome and I’ll always remember Cardinal Dolan’s outrageous sense of humor and his deep love of life.

He is truly a great man, but the next Pope? According to Tom Reese, senior fellow at Georgetown University’s Woodstock Theological Center, “The Cardinals, (in Rome, not St. Louis) would not want someone from the world’s superpower elected Pope … Many people around the world would think the election was fixed by the CIA or bought by Wall Street.” (taken from today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch article by Tim Townsend)

And we thought fixing only took place in soccer.

Cardinal Dolan has only been a Cardinal for a short while. Similar to some of his fellow Cardinals, (in St. Louis, not Rome) he is still somewhat of an untested rookie.

Still, he’ll be making the trek along with all the other Cardinals, (the priests, not ballplayers) to Rome when the elections take place.

Over in England, bookmakers have already set odds on some of the favorites. I found this link ( listing the current “Next Pope” favorites along with commentary by a Paddy Power odds compiler:

Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, age 68: 7-2: “[This is] in no small part because of his closeness to the current Pope and his serious political acumen,” says the odds compiler. “He is already very well backed.”

Cardinal Archbishop of Milan Angelo Scola, 71: 4-1 “[Scola] is appealing because many think an Italian candidate will be the next resident in the Vatican. It is well known that there is a solid Italian voting block in the College of Cardinals, and Scola is currently top of the pile.” Bettors also expressed a like for Scola’s countrymen, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, 78, and Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, 70, at 6-1 and 14-1 respectively.

Not surprisingly, Italy is also the 6-5 favorite as the next Pope’s country of origin.

Ghanian Cardinal Peter Turkson, 64: 4-1: “He’s commanded almost a quarter of the bets so far! Some are pointing to the political pressure for a non-Westerner to be appointed, and Catholicism is certainly growing in Africa. The question remains whether or not the European Cardinals will connect with him enough to give the necessary ballots to become the first black Pope.”

Brazilian Cardinal Odilo Scherer, 63: 20-1: “Could quietly emerge as a serious contender.”

The two United States candidates with the highest profiles so far are Cardinals Raymond Burke, 64–paying 40-1–and William Levada, 76–100-1. “They are considered outsiders at present, although that is not to say that they will remain outsiders…this is a marathon, not a sprint!”

Nowhere did Paddy Power even mention Cardinal Dolan who I guess would be a true dark horse. When asked on the Today Show by host Matt Lauer if he could vote for himself, Cardinal Dolan replied, “No, crazy people cannot enter the conclave.”

Those were Cardinal Dolan’s words, not mine. Of course with that remark, he would certainly get my vote.

But like the Cardinals starting pitching situation, people like you or me have no real say in the matter.

We’ll see what unfolds and I’ll be rooting for the Cardinals to do their best and bring home a winner.

Here and in Rome.




St. Louis is no longer perfectly centered

In this morning’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch Opinion page, there was an article about how what was once the St. Louis Regional Commerce & Growth Association had changed its name and abandoned their “Perfectly Centered. Remarkably Connected.” theme line. Being a huge proponent of growing the St. Louis region and market, I simply had to know more.

First off, the new name for this organization is the St. Louis Regional Chamber. So they dropped the ‘and Growth Association’ part of the name that was actually added back in 1973.

This whole name thing confuses me a bit – I don’t know when the St. Louis Commerce association became the St. Louis Regional Commerce Association or perhaps 1973 was the year that they added both ‘Regional’ and ‘Commerce’ to the equation.

Whatever the case, both ‘Growth’ and ‘Commerce’ have now been knocked out of the picture and we are left with the St. Louis Regional Chamber, which, I have to agree with the Post-Dispatch, can be easily confused with the St. Louis Chamber Orchestra.

Hopefully, our newly re-named entity will play well together – just like the Chamber Orchestra does.

The Post-Dispatch also revealed the St. Louis Regional Chamber’s new slogan/tag line/theme line.

I assume you’re sitting down as you read this and I’m glad you are because this one is a real knock your socks off, instant memorability, bound to be up there with the likes of, “Just Do It.”, “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”, “We take the world’s greatest pictures.”, “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is.” hall of fame tag lines. Ready? Here it is …

St. Louis Regional Chamber. One Team. One Purpose. One Plan.

One horrible theme line.

As a positioning statement, “One team, one purpose, one plan.” would be a good line of thought to follow to develop a new theme line for this newly named organization that no longer has the words ‘Growth’ or ‘Commerce’ in its name. But as a theme line? Come on.

I knew there had to be more to this story than what the Post-Dispatch had to say so I went digging a little deeper.

According to St. Louis Chamber President, Joe Reagan, “A 21st-century chamber of commerce is not a booster organization. It’s a group of leaders who say we’re going to change our situation and make this a better place.”

The St. Louis Chamber home page states that they connect business and civic communities in the 16-county bi-state region attracting new jobs, capital and talent.

I’m certainly all for that.

As the new president of the RC (not to be confused with Royal Crown), Reagan spent several weeks on a listening tour, talking to hundreds of business, political and civic leaders. Then, he set about remaking the RCGA from within. (This comes from a Mound City Money article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on February 3 by David Nicklaus.)

The focus of the new St. Louis Regional Chamber is right on. They want to promote a spirit of cooperation and collaboration (though that seems to me what should have been happening all along). They want to play up the region’s strengths in financial services, healthcare, bioscience and logistics.

Do it!

They want an increased emphasis on the percentage of adults who have a college degree and that makes perfect sense as well. If they can call on all of the colleges and universities in this region to put a strong emphasis on offering weekend and evening classes for adults to pursue advanced degrees or obtain graduate degrees, we will have a much stronger workforce.

I hope this happens.

Back on June 22, 2012, the St. Louis Business Journal had a small article stating that the RCGA, (it was still RCGA then) was going to adopt the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission theme line of, “St. Lou is all within reach.”

Please don’t get me going on that theme line.

Maybe the St. Louis Regional Chamber’s spirit of cooperation and collaboration doesn’t lend itself to theme lines and they thought they had to have their own. Maybe they thought it would be confusing if two different organizations shared the same theme line. Whatever the case, they now have, “One Team. One Purpose. One Plan.”

Problem is, now they need, “A Better Tag. For A Better Chamber.”

The current one should never see the light of day. But I guess it already has.

So the $700,000 spent on developing the, “Perfectly Centered. Remarkably Connected.” is now down the drain.

I’m not sure how much this new line cost the RC.

Whatever it cost, they didn’t get their money’s worth.

If by chance, they’ll soon be looking for another new theme line, I already have it developed.

And I’ll make it available for a very affordable cost.

Operators are standing by.



My 5 personal favorite Super Bowl commercials

I attended a Super Bowl party and was busy running the squares contest and getting that all arranged so I missed the first two commercial breaks of the Super Bowl. But after that, I saw each and every Super Bowl commercial – not always with the best audio available as there was quite a bit of conversation going on in the room but still, I watched the Super Bowl commercials like most other Americans do – semi-paying attention and just waiting for something to stop everyone in the room and create a little buzz after the commercial aired.

Day after recall has come and gone.

It’s day after the day after recall and that’s what matters.

So here were my top five and the reasons why I rank them slightly differently than USA Today did.

#1. Tide – Miracle Stain – ( ttp://

– Just to honor each spot a little more, I’m posting the YouTube link from each company’s website so you can see the full social media effort behind the commercial. Congratulations to P&G. They delivered the ultimate product demonstration and managed to do it in a way that was over the top, fun, involving and even tied in to the two teams that were playing. The tag line is awesome. The commercial tells a great story in 60-seconds and makes me want to see it again. I guess due to the nature of the 49ers-Ravens tie-in, this commercial may not be aired many more times. That’s okay. It makes it all the more special.

#2. Taco Bell – Viva Young – ( Our geriatric nation gets to one-up today’s youth, doing all the late night antics that eventually lead to a Taco Bell run – (and quite a few that I never had any part in). Great soundtrack, fun story with lots of vignettes that you can’t quite catch all in the first viewing. Mr. Goldblatt rocks and the whole commercial makes me like Taco Bell a little more after viewing it.

#3. Ram Trucks – Farmer – ( Copywriters can’t compete with Paul Harvey and the copywriter who came up with this concept should be saluted. He (or she) will win oodles of awards for this game stopper. No motion pictures. Just photography. I didn’t know who was saluting the farmer until the logo came on at the end but when it did, it all made perfect sense. I went to the Ram Trucks website but couldn’t download the commercial from there but they have a huge social media movement behind it supporting the American farmer. This is advertising at its best – even if it is using borrowed interest. I think it may have been the most compelling spot of the Super Bowl.

#4. Anheuser-Busch – Clydesdales/Brotherhood – ( You have to like this commercial. It’s a love story. It’s nicely directed. Everyone loves the “Landslide” song by Fleetwood Mac. Does it make me want to drink any A-B product? Sorry, it doesn’t, but I do have a high regard for the classiness of the spot and the time-honored tradition of the Clydesdales. The rest of the A-B ads were less than inspiring and the new Black Crown or whatever it is, was a disappoint and to me, a late-comer to the dark beer category that did little to differentiate itself.

#5. Oreo – Whisper Fight – ( This was a first quarter commercial. There was a lot of talk going on when I saw it but it still grabbed me and I loved the simple concept of everyone whispering in the library about the cookie vs. creme debate. Totally product focused, totally over the top and with a dynamite social media aspect that will make the debate continue on well after all the Super Bowl hoopla is over (I guess it’s now over).

Those were my top five. It remains to be seen what the end sales results will be. But with the most captive audience television can possibly provide, the potential marketing power of a well-done Super Bowl commercial, tied in now with developing an equally strong social media presence, can indeed work wonders for sales. Look at the free publicity these five commercials just generated. I wish I could say my blog was read by a Super Bowl-sized audience.

But I know in that regard, it’s quality over quantity.

Thanks for reading and please share your favorites or let me know what should have been on my top five.

Our second tier Edward Jones Dome

Arbitrators have agreed with the St. Louis Rams. In the world of the NFL, the Edward Jones Dome is destined to be a second tier facility and would need such a dramatic facelift and overhaul that it simply won’t be economically viable for this little $700 million fixer upper to make sense.

So now attention is shifting to building a new stadium where the Rams can play and St. Louisans – both in the city and county – as well as Missourians overall will be asked to pick up a big part of the tab so we can have the privilege of an NFL team to call our own.

We’ve been Rams PSL holders, splitting games with Chris’ parents since the second year the Rams were here. We’ve seen some great football and we’ve seen some horrible football. For a while, I talked about what an honor it was to see professional football played in our city – by the other teams that traveled here because the Rams were far from professional in so many ways. They’ve been a lower-tier team for close to a decade now. And is it any wonder – having to play in such a lower tier facility?

The Edward Jones Dome simply doesn’t have many bells and whistles. The luxury suites are far from luxurious. The video replay screens are an upgrade to what they once had a few years back but they’re still second-tier compared to some of the video boards in newer stadiums. The new proposal was going to have our answer to Jerry Jones with a massive video screen hanging above the field that would rival the monstrosity in Dallas so fans could see replays and cheerleaders in XXL format. Apparently, that won’t happen now.

I always wondered why so many of the seats in the Edwards Jone Dome are purple. Did they get a great deal on purple seat covers back when we were close to landing the St. Louis Stallions that featured a purple stallion in their logo? Those purple seats just don’t cut it in showcasing any type of Ram spirit. A simple overhaul that might help would be getting the Domes colors in sync with the Rams colors – though personally, I wished they’d go back to the gaudier blue and yellow. Those colors were more in your face – and that’s what football is supposed to be.

A bigger question that I haven’t heard anyone address is, if somehow a new stadium does get built, what happens to this monstrosity that is a part of our Convention Center? I have no idea how many days a year the Dome is actually in use. Forty days out of the year might be an exaggeration. I looked on their calendar and saw there’s a Monster Jam taking place tonight (tickets still available), another one in March and an off-road Super Truck fest in June. Other than that, those 70,000 seats remain empty most days of the year while our tax dollars in St. Louis city and county pay $6 million a year to help pay off the original $300 million it cost to build and $720 million we’ll pay to finance it.

If we tear it down, do we need to keep paying?

And if we build a new one, will be paying for that as well as the Dome we no longer use?

All these millions and millions of dollars are mind-boggling. The NFL is a definite cash cow. It’s making some people a tremendous amount of money – but there’s no trickle-down effect to the fans. We just get the privilege of identifying (and in our case, anguishing) with our home team.

I love the NFL. I won’t say I love the Rams but I do like them and there’s no way I want the franchise to leave town. Losing a second NFL franchise would not bode well toward us getting a third. Not having an NFL team in town to me would be just another sign that St. Louis is on a downward spiral. Our airport is no longer a hub. Our largest corporations either leave or get acquired. I really don’t think we can afford to lose the Rams.

But I’m not sure we can afford to keep them, either.

Life sure would be simpler if Stan would just take one of his billions and foot the bill himself. I would be happy to go to Kroenke stadium and do a Wal-Mart run on the way back from the game.

But just like Vegas didn’t get built by letting people walk away winners more often than losers, billionaires didn’t get to be billionaires by tossing their money around.

They let the people pay them. And if we don’t, some other city certainly will.

Enjoy the Super Bowl.