Sustainably Yours, Tim King. Marketing Writer | Communications Specialist

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Portland Startup Community gets some good ink from Inc.

Nothing breeds success like success. I can’t think of another place with such a high percentage of smart, creative, healthy, balanced people…let alone the pioneering spirit to do something, simply because it should be done. Being self-reliant isn’t a solitary act and can have collective benefits for the whole community.

How This Tiny East Coast City of 70,000 People Is Churning Out Fast-Growing Startups | (Share from CM Browser)

Sustainably Yours,
~ Tim


My Advice – Invest your Unemployment Check in the Stock Market

Play the game and hedge your bets. You’re worth more (and will earn more) as a shareholder than an employee.

Harvard Study Says Economy Is ‘Doing Half Its Job.’ Guess Which Half.


Huffington Post (2013)

The disappearing middle class.

Marc Ecko: Give Customers What They Don’t Know They Want |

” You need to be able to both satisfy and surprise your buyers.”

via Marc Ecko: Give Customers What They Don’t Know They Want |

Ecko throws out a few pearls of wisdom here – in a very no bullsh/t way – but it’s nothing really new or revolutionary. That in itself is kind of refreshing and perhaps “revolutionary” for this day and age.

Basically, it’s about adapting your message and product delivery according to the current channels of communication...but what you say and what you do remains the same.

Do the things that make customers want to do business with you. 

He reinforces my belief that you can learn just as much (if not more) by first studying the Masters of Communication, Sales and Marketing, such as:

Theodore Levitt

Jay Levinson

~ Zig Ziglar

~ Steve Jobs

Who did I miss ? Who inspires you to cut through the clutter and focus ONLY on delivering to customers “insanely great” products, service and value ? Let me know.

~ Seth Godin

~ Mark Twain (yes, Mark Twain!)


"Known to Everyone - Liked by All" ~ Is there any better goal for your brand?

“Known to Everyone – Liked by All” ~ Is there any better goal for your brand?



Duvet or Not Duvet? Eh? Just say Quilt.

I’ve always said that the ability to ‘do’ marketing well is both a skill and an art. It’s a delicate balance.

To be effective, marketers must communicate features and benefits in a way that is accurate and truthful but also emotional and exciting enough to attract attention and influence behavior.

When opposing (selling vs. telling) messages are communicated in precisely the right balance.

When opposing (selling vs. telling) messages are communicated in precisely the right balance.

When it’s done correctly, this is what I call marketing nirvana – the right message gets in front of the right person in the right way at the right time. A perfect match.

More often however, these contradictory communication goals will morph into materials and messages that actually accomplish neither one. We’ve all seen ad material too boring to read, too sensational to be believed, or worse too confusing to understand.

Recently, I spent the night in a well known, middle of the road type hotel chain and noticed this curious Post-It (R) note on my bed’s headboard. At first, I was intrigued/impressed to believe that the cleaning staff had left me a personal note welcoming me to rest in their comfy clean room.

Almost immediately though, that thought disappeared after peeling off the note and confirming that in fact the message had been pre-printed on the sheet of paper…and not hand written as I was lead to believe.

"Great! Ummm...What's a duvet? "

“Great! Ummm…What’s a duvet? “

Of course, I never really expected it to be a hand written note anyway. But, taking a closer look at the piece also brought up another intriguing question, “So what the heck IS a ‘doo-vet’ cover and  why were they so proud that theirs’ were clean anyway?”

Had I been unknowingly exposed to dangerously dirty duvets in the past at other hotel rooms? I honestly had no idea how to answer my own question.

Soon after this realization, flashes of Bill Cosby’s classic “Noah” sketch came to mind.

In the sketch, the booming voice of God calls out to Noah and instructs him (in feature-rich, important sounding, glorious language) that he wants Noah to go out and collect all the wood he can find and then build an “Ark”. God rattles on and on about what the Ark is for, how big it should be and who should be brought to it, etc. leaving no detail unmentioned.

Noah, patiently listens and when God finally pauses to hear Noah’s response to the mammoth task he has just put before him, Noah disbelievingly says “Riiiiiight…What’s an Ark?”

The same thing can be said about this piece of marketing. The hotel was SO concerned about appearing to be clever, personable and reassuring that they went the extra mile to make sure my duvet cover was clean…they probably never took the time to think “Does the average person actually know what a duvet is?”

For one, I sure didn’t.

But I have absolutely no doubt that everyone in the room at the time this was created definitely knew what one was. I’m also sure that hotel industry veterans know all about duvets and have conducted all sorts of research to find out that guests overwhelmingly like their duvets to be clean.

I wonder though if they were to gather 100 random people off the street and bring them into the hotel room and ask them to “go over and stand next to the duvet” if more than a few would likely walk over to a picture on the wall, the small table in the corner of the room…or maybe even one of those funny European style toilets that the water actually shoots up? 

In other words, does the specific feature / benefit that you are spending so much time, effort and money to create really mean anything at all to your customers ?

Effective marketing communicates what matters to customers – not what matters to the people creating the marketing or what companies think customers should think matters.

The only thing that matters to customers should be the only thing that matters to you…and don’t use a 25 cent word when a nickel word will do.

So, what do you think matters to your customers? Now THAT is the question.

For those who are still curious…. via

du·vet [doo-vey]
Def: a usually down-filled quilt, often with a removable cover; comforter.

Both the Tortoise and Hare have something to share.

Depending on the type or size of your business, the meaning of the word ‘fast’ can vary greatly.

For a start up or entrepreneur, especially one in the digital/mobile environment, fast could mean accomplishing something in a matter of days, hours or minutes. On the other hand, to a large corporation, fast could mean successfully tackling an issue or developing a new product in weeks, months or even years.

Big business and small businesses have different priorities and different approaches, but could they also learn from each other?

A good analogy can be drawn from Aesop’s fable about The Tortoise and the Hare. While the Tortoise seems to take forever to get to the finish line, the fast and furious Hare burns through the track only to run out of gas at the end.

Each can learn something from the other.

Each can learn something from the other.

Now, the outcome of race suggests that the ‘slow and steady’ approach of the Tortoise was more effective. That may have been true in the fable, but I think there is something to be learned from the Hare as well.

After all, what if the conditions on the race course had radically changed while Mr. Tortoise was out there taking his own sweet time? What if night fell? It starts to rain or a predator happens to stumble out of the woods looking for a snack?

It seems to me that just as there is risk associated with sometimes moving too quickly, there can be just as much risk with not moving quickly enough.

On the racetrack as well as in business, creating just the right combination of speed and caution can make all the difference in the world.

Start ups – Hold on. Hare we go!

The speed at which start ups approach innovation can be blinding. Aiming to constantly disrupt existing markets, at their core, entrepreneurs are innovators trying to solve a problem in a new way – to build something better, faster or more efficiently.

The key to their success often depends on how quickly their product or service catches on with consumers. Start ups devote seemingly unlimited time and energy to getting their project off the ground. Yet, many stumble after that initial wave of success begins to recede.

Worse, many entrepreneurs simply burnout and run out of energy, money (or both) before they even see the finish line.

Big Business – Moving at Turtle Time.

On the other hand, large corporations can be risk-averse and tend to be much slower to innovate and adapt to changing conditions. Established companies focus on maintaining their operations over the long term by not deviating from the products, services and processes that brought them success in the first place.

This slow and steady approach may work for a while, but it won’t last forever. Eventually, all markets shift as its customers’ needs change and new competitors enter.

Yes, slow and steady may still win the race…but only if the finish line hasn’t already moved offshore (or online).

New thinking comes from exploring new places.

Many business professionals become stagnant because they have grown too comfortable travelling in their own orbit for too long. What can truly be learned by meeting with the same group of colleagues and attending the same events year after year?

Today’s new business environment requires new solutions. And more often than not, these solutions are being developed somewhere other than your specific industry.

Inspiration is where you find it.

There’s no getting around it. Large or small, operating a business is very hard work.

Small business owners (SBOs) and entrepreneurs are always trying to keep their existing customers happy, encourage loyalty, while also trying to attract new customers as well.

They all want to learn how to do more with less, work smarter, operate more efficiently and ultimately become more profitable.

Not surprisingly, these are the same type of things that most corporate managers want to accomplish in their departments and divisions too.

In the business world, the people who are most likely to succeed are those who not only adapt to changing market conditions, but are also able to identify and apply new concepts and best practices from other industries as well.

Don’t judge. Just pay attention.

The challenge then is to be ready and willing to get outside your comfort zone.

Tired of the same old Tortoise Talk? Go find where all the cool Hares hang out. Need a break from constantly hopping from one project to the next? Learn to focus from a veteran Tantric Tortoise. Adapt to a child’s mind and see things from a completely neutral position. As Apple once famously said “Think Different“.

Don't be afraid to take a different approach.

Don’t be afraid to take a different approach.

You may be surprised to learn that the challenges facing you and your business are the same ones that companies of all shapes and sizes are struggling with too…and walk away with a brand new approach to solving them.

Where have you found inspiration for change in your business? Email me or share your thoughts with others below.

Latest web project goes live – Residential Mortgage Services, Inc.

I am so glad to see this completely revamped website finally get launched !!!

It was a long road to get there, but I am proud to say that the copy writing, tagline and positioning work that I started the project with served as the framework that drove the communication strategy for the entire site.


Specifically, I hope the new tagline “We’ll guide you home.” is something that really connects with their customers and prospects. These folks are pros at what they do and it was a pleasure to learn more about them and the industry they are so committed to.


I also really enjoy getting companies out of their own heads.

They come in thinking “We just do mortgages” and don’t realize that people aren’t just  doing business with them because of this fact. That decision is both emotional and rational (in different percentages depending on the person – and the product) and therefore the messages that describe and promote this service must also have some emotional appeal as well.


I keep a note to myself visible on all of the writing projects I work on.


It says, “What are you trying to say? Can you feel it?” These are the words and phrases I brainstorm to begin every piece I write. These keywords become the soul or essence of what I want to communicate. The remainder of the process is getting the facts right and building a rhythm that keeps the reader engaged. I call this “putting the wood behind the arrow”.



bullseye! (Photo credit: happy via)


Arrowheads are great for making a point – but they still need good wood behind them to actually fly through the clutter and reach the target.


Of course, having great people providing truly exceptional service makes the job of a marketer / copywriter so much easier – just find the right words and tell the truth. I love it when a plan comes together…check it out here.


Residential Mortgage Services, Inc | Home.


Steps in Creating a Marketing Plan

Some clear, basic steps here for putting together a plan to drive business to your door. No, even when you build it…there’s no guarantee they will come.

The important thing to remember about marketing is that you need to keep doing it and refining your tactics and messages as your business and market evolves. Even if you are on the right track, you’ll still get run over if you are standing still.

Steps in Creating a Marketing Plan.

 A standalone marketing plan focuses on the target audience and the promotional strategies.”


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