Archive for 'Louisville'

SEO Class Recap

On Thursday, SMB Consulting hosted a SEO Training Seminar/Bootcamp at the McConnell Technology Training Center off of Industry Blvd. here in Louisville. We had six attendees that seemed to really enjoy the class especially the hands on nature of it. Analyzing keywords seemed to generate the biggest “ah-ha” type of moments, and spying on competitors provided some eye opening information that is sure to help with the optimization efforts moving forward for everyone. One area that didn’t seem to matter as much is the history of search engines (beginning of the class) so less time will be spent on that as things progress.

One thing I personally learned is to combine the workbook with the textbook I generated for the class. I apologize to those that attended this particular class for the confusion the two books seemed to cause. I thought it might be better to have a separate workbook in order to go back and perform some of the tasks without having to weed through a larger book, but I was wrong and the updated book has the contents of both. The new book has been e-mailed out to everyone in the class so please contact me if you did not receive one.

We’re having another SEO Class on June 14, 2007 at the same location (visit for more information and a map) from 9 AM to around 4 PM. There are a few spots open if you (or someone you know) might be interested in attending. Get more information about the class by visiting the SEO training section of our website ( We’re also planning SEO Training in Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Nashville, and St. Louis should you live in one of those locales and have an interest in learning how to optimize your website for the search engines.

Okay, the NCAA Final is over, and Florida has repeated as Champions. Now everyone in the Bluegrass State is all fired up thinking Billy Donovan will become the head coach of the Cayuts (purposely spelled like that to inject the twang). First off, it should be noted that I’m a huge Louisville fan and not the least bit a UK fan, but there is always an interest in what the rival is up to as that’s a “competitive intelligence” issue. Much like a good business, we sports fans keep up with the landscape.

Anyway, I just don’t see what Billy Donovan would have to gain by switching jobs after winning back-to-back titles at a school he’s put on the map basketball wise. Yes, it’s a football first school, and it will be for quite some time, but there are many benefits to being a coach at a school where you can set the standard versus the standard already being set for you to meet it. The bar at Kentucky is unrealistically high, and ANY coach walking into that pressure pit is going to have a tough time meeting those lofty expectations. The more they pay someone, which is apparently the biggest lure, the quicker they are going to be expected to produce. Nobody can convince me that the Wildcat faithful will be okay “mailing it in” next year even if they do land their top choice as a coach.

The Kentucky cupboard isn’t stocked next year, and the job simply isn’t as good as it used to be. They just ran off a guy that won almost 80% of his games including a championship. Whomever they get is going to have to thump the recruiting trail immediately to salvage even a mediocre class next year. Sure, Donovan would have some loyal recruits follow him IF he takes the job, but why uproot your family for a job that you’ll never totally complete? If he wins one title, they’ll want two. If he wins two, they’ll want three. It’ll never end, and there is zero tolerance for a title one year and a slip back to the Sweet 16 the next year. It’s Final Four or bust every single season, and that’s damn near impossible to achieve. He just did it at Florida, and there are no guarantees it can be done again even with facilities and tons of money flowing in.

This doesn’t even take into account that his four key players on his current team COULD return for their Senior seasons. At least one or two could, and that could make his team in Florida next year, with the addition of one or two key recruits, better than anything he’ll have at UK for three or four years. Why rebuild when you’ve already built something special? Why coach in someone’s shadow? Why try to climb the hill when you’re already at the top of the thing?

I think back to when John Wooden retired from UCLA, and Denny Crum was rumored to be the no-brainer replacement much like Donovan is now for Kentucky. Crum has publicly stated that he had a tough time saying no, but he believes it was the right decision and everything worked out nicely in the end. He was building a great program that had his finger prints all over it, and he’s now a legend in Louisville. Donovan is in a very similar situation–a former assistant coach which has done great things at a perceived lesser basketball school and is going to be offered a lot of money to return and restore the program to glory. The problem for Crum back then and Donovan today is the high standard was already set long before the offer. Taking over the program would be a losing proposition in spite of the monetary compensation. One other caveat–Crum graduated from UCLA; Donovan from Providence so his ties to UK aren’t as strong as Crum’s were to UCLA. It’s harder to turn down the alma mater more often than not, but Crum did it, and now he has his name on the court here. Donovan could have his name on the court, arena, streets leading into the arena, buildings on campus, etc. Whatever he wants his legacy to be could be achieved much easier at Florida than UK. He’s already 75% there today! His checking account might be fatter down the road at UK, but could he truly be happy living in the UK fishbowl? In the end, that’s the $4M question.

My bet is he stays put in Florida and further builds his coaching legacy to Hall of Fame status.

Don't Confuse the Message

One of the worst mistakes an advertiser can make is sending mixed messages. I’m always paying attention to advertising and marketing to see how others attempt to get their message across in 15-30 seconds. After-all, the human attention span isn’t getting any greater, and we’re overloaded with messages on a day-to-day basis so we weed out almost everything anymore. That’s interruptive marketing at its best. What happens when advertisers confuse the message and stray from the core of what the business actually does?

A prime example today of a mixed message campaign is Rally’s Hamburgers, a southeastern based burger and fry joint with dual drive through windows (one on each side of their facilities) which used to be headquartered in my backyard of Louisville, KY. They have since merged with Checker’s, and I believe they moved their HQ to Florida. Anyway, Rally’s true differentiator is their French Fries–great tasting fries with a unique flavorful coating. They attempt to compete with Burger King, McDonald’s, DQ, and Wendy’s among others.

Their current advertising campaign focuses on a toy-like figure named “Rap Cat.” In their ads they have two younger guys who supposedly work one of the drive through lanes at Rally’s. Frequently the ads discuss current specials and one of the guys will suggest your visit their drive thru window to get the special. Then the other one will offer the exact same special for their drive thru lane. The punch line usually has something to do with visiting one side of the drive thru instead of the other because that side features “Rap Cat.” Then the video snaps to some goofy looking stuffed animal that meows in a rap-like fashion with a bad voice over. Not only is the campaign poorly done, it totally mixes the core message of the chain’s business–selling tasty fast food at a very reasonable price. To me, a more effective message would be to capitalize on the popularity of their unique fries versus some stupid toy that likely doesn’t propel anyone to want to go to Rally’s over McDonald’s or Wendy’s. If I’m even remotely hungry and an ad comes on television at the proper time, I am much more likely to run out of my house to a particular chain if the food either appeals to my taste buds or something looks good. Rally’s fries appeal to most people’s taste buds if they’ve ever had them before, and they look tasty. Rap-Cat does nothing to inspire most people to want to seek out Rally’s. Kids may identify with the toy, but I seriously doubt it. I will give the campaign one bit of credit–it’s so bad it’s memorable, but I wonder if that’s what Rally’s is after. Do they want an advertising campaign that is so bad it becomes memorable to the point people are talking about it only because the advertising is horrible?

Since I don’t have access to hard numbers, I can’t project the true impact of this mixed message campaign, but I can dare Rally’s to talk to my company and its partners about fixing the message and driving revenue instead of wasting money on some hair-brained attempt at being cute. If Rally’s wants to be a toy store, get out of the fast food business and partner up with Toys-R-Us. They aren’t McDonald’s where they can have five or six messages proliferating the airwaves and still survive.

In the meantime, the takeaway is don’t confuse your potential consumer by sending mixed messages and poor attempts at humor or cuteness. Stick to your core and establish recognition first then when you become McDonald’s or Burger King, you can tinker with various messages.

If Rally’s happens to read this, an admitted long shot, they can find out more about my company by visiting I’m quite confident we can help them fix their message and possibly their company in the process.

SMB Consulting Highlighted in Louisville Paper

Today, Bill Wolfe of the Louisville Courier Journal did a wonderful piece on me and SMB Consulting, Inc. Read a copy of the article by clicking on the link below:

SMB Consulting Featured in CJ

Please share your thoughts.

Happily Eating Crow Right About Now

For those that read this site regularly, you know I’m an avid University of Louisville sports fan, and I’ve been rather critical of the basketball team on more than one occasion back in December. I’m back to happily eat a little crow after watching two thrilling victories over ranked opponents on the road (Pittsburgh and Marquette) this past week. Last night’s win came courtesy of Jerry Smith’s bomb at the buzzer to steal a two point victory over a tough Big East rival. Marquette isn’t an easy place to play, and Tom Crean gets his team really prepared to play Louisville. The rivalry is rather weird in the fact that Marquette wins here in Louisville quite a bit, and we seem to win nail biters in Milwaukee.

This team has apparently gotten it, and I was (gladly) wrong about them. Not all is great and wonderful as the team hasn’t officially made the Big Dance, and there is still some question whether they even will (ranked #51 in the latest RPI ratings). I’ll give Rick Pitino his due–he’s done a good job with this bunch, and the team appears to be peaking at the right time. Whereas I felt like this team wouldn’t even make the Big East Tournament, I now believe we’ll be a tough out in the Big Dance should we get there. I’m not backing off my stance that this was an awful team in December–losses to Dayton and UMass validate that on their own. Getting absolutely burried by Notre Dame in early January doesn’t look too hot either. If this team doesn’t make it into the NCAA Tournament though, it can personally thank Dayton and UMass. Take those two losses away, and our record looks very respectable. Six losses to good competition won’t get you questioned by the selection committee whereas those two A-10 will serve as a big black eye on our tournament resume.

There are big games remaining on the schedule, but things look very promising. I only hope we don’t slip back into our December ways.

I’m enjoying my crow today very much, thank you.

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