It Doesn’t Have to be Curtains for Small Ad Agencies

Since the creation of the Macintosh, there isn’t a single industry that hasn’t undergone repeated change, if not catastrophic disruption—at least, I can’t think of any.  Advertising is no exception.  With technology, anybody can create an ad. In my day, television advertisements ruled, and they still do in local markets.  But advertising is now mainly […] See More

July 10, 2017

Hemorrhoids, Empathy, & Feeling Your Customer’s Pain

Warning: Graphic content! (Not really.) I asked my first copy chief, an intimidatingly enormous Irishman from Y&R named Tom Hagan, what his favorite headline of all time was. Tom, being an eminently scorched-earth pragmatist, said, “Hemorrhoids?” which at the time was on a Preparation H subway sign in NYC. Research tells us that the ideal headline […] See More

February 1, 2017

Do You Want to Survive This Year–Or Thrive?

As many of my readers know, I really like to beat the “niche drum.” For the last six months or so, I’ve really thumped on about this because finding the right niche is one of the most important things a business can do. So it’s probably no surprise that I get excited whenever I see anything […] See More

January 4, 2017

Riches in Niches, Redux: Undivided

Back in June, I promised an interview with Dave Nelson, founder of SecretPenguin and Undivided. He’s extremely busy, so I’m grateful he could take the time to validate what I’ve been going on about all summer. For nine years, SecretPenguin has been a successful brand creation and management agency. They started out doing work for […] See More

September 8, 2016

Why You Should Never Stop Tweaking (Your Niche)

When it comes to business advice, I can never get enough of the Oracle of Omaha. That’s right, it’s time for another Buffett-based blog. This fits in nicely with what I’ve been talking about all summer and is really a continuation of the niche (and niches) theme. We’ve been spending a lot of time lately discussing […] See More

August 24, 2016

Achieve Excellence and Follow Your Heart

In a recent New York Times piece, “The Incalculable Value in Finding A Job You Love,” Economics professor Robert H. Frank validated much of what I say about developing a niche market. To be happy, research suggests, earning a high salary isn’t enough. Once  your basic needs have been met, satisfaction comes from achieving mastery […] See More

August 3, 2016

3 Keys to Increase Prices When You Want To

Pricing is usually one of the first things I talk to clients about. Asking clients the question, “Could you raise prices right now if you wanted to?” is a good barometer of their business’s health and one of the best tests of whether a business owner has carved out a differentiated niche market. If your […] See More

July 6, 2016

How to Create Competitive Advantage: Carve Out Your Niche

There’s an old expression that “there are riches in niches,” and it’s true; domination of a niche can increase entrepreneurial businesses’ results by an order of magnitude. A great example is Nebraska “experiential branding” agency SecretPenguin, which specializes in developing and launching innovative restaurant concepts. In the coming weeks I’ll be interviewing Dave Nelson, owner […] See More

June 22, 2016

The Audacity of Focused Caution: More Inspiration From the Oracle

I’ve always been struck by Warren Buffett’s single-mindedness and discipline. His annual reports used to contain a letter to potential sellers of businesses. This letter contained a specific, inviolate, and most importantly unchanging list of vital statistics that must be present for Buffett to be interested. I loved his line, taken from a country-western song, […] See More

June 15, 2016