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Articles by Donald E. L. Johnson

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Today is Saturday, October 22, 2016

Marketing and Sales

Political candidates need to rethink their radio advertising plans

Top-of-the-ticket political candidates may do more advertising on easy music radio stations than on talk radio stations now that they have more accurate audience data. Mike Rosen’s KOA 850, the powerful talk radio station is only 10th in the Front Range Market, and another talk station, Peter Boyles’ KHOW doesn’t make the top 10.

Whether political commercials would

Posted by Donald E. L. Johnson on 01/12/10 at 07:24 PM
ColoradoPoliticsMarketing and SalesAdvertisingRead More

713 blog posts in 2009, 435 in 4th quarter

After we returned at the end of September from a wonderful vacation drive across 14 states and Ontario, I decided to shift the focus of my almost seven-year-old blog to the Colorado gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races from my focus on investing, speculating, the options markets and economics. Of course, I continue to blog on the markets and on health care markets and politics, as I have since I started this venture. As always, my goal is to add perspective and information to the issues that I cover. And, I love to give my opinions.

It’s hard to measure the quality of what appears on a blog or in the media. Everyone reads differently, which is why we have so many different opinions in politics and in the markets. Certainly, quantity is no measure of quality, but it does show the effort and time that goes into researching, reporting and understanding what’s going on.

Thus, after a rather slow first three quarters, in the fourth quarter of 2009, I wrote 435 blog posts, bringing my total for the year to 713. Since I began the blog, I’ve written 3,196 blog posts.

Often, I mention several people in a story.  A keyword search of this site shows that over the last couple of years or so, I’ve mentioned Obama in 205 blogs and Colorado’s Governor Bill Ritter in 121. Since September, I’ve mentioned Scott McInnis in 116 stories and Dan Maes in 53. Sen. Michael Bennet has been mentioned in 68 posts, Sen. Mark Udall 15, Jane Norton 49, Ken Buck 24 and Tom Wiens 13. During 2009, “Tea Party” has been mentioned in 13 posts and ObamaCare in 61. In almost seven years, “health care” has been in 725 posts, “Medicare” in 590, “health insurance” in 422, “insurance” in 554, “stocks” in 322, “markets” in 283 and “Colorado” in 347.

In addition to what I write here, I also post two or three times a day elsewhere. Mostly, I post in the comments sections on other blogs such as and on other Colorado conservatives’ blogs that belong to the Rocky Mountain Alliance 2.  I frequently post on, Politico, Huffington Post,,, and I also post on Twitter and talk with friends on Facebook. also republishes my stories about stocks and speculating when I submit them. 

Why do I do it? I care about what’s happening to our country, and I enjoy following current events, especially politics and the markets. Writing a blog makes me research the big issues and do some original reporting. It helps me think about what’s going on. And I hope I add something to the conversation.

Thanks for reading.

Posted by Donald E. L. Johnson on 01/01/10 at 10:38 AM
Marketing and SalesBloggingPermalink

Colorado Auto Dealers Assn. fights onerous regulations that would slow the economy

Tim Jackson, president of the Colorado Auto Dealers Assn., posted a link to his executive memo to dealers on Facebook. It’s interesting because it shows how trade association executives communicate with their members and try to recruit more members to support their efforts to make their voices heard in Denver and Washington. 

When I was a member of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and on the Colorado Assn. of Commerce and Industry’s (CACI) health care committee, I got to watch Jackson use the backing of his some 13,000 Colorado NFIB members to gain influence on key issues with state legislators. Having watched a lot of trade association executives over the years, I think Jackson’s one of the best and hardest working guys in the association management profession. Many auto dealers are small businesses, and others are regional and national companies. If you want to understand a little more about “special interersts,” lobbyists and the political process, take the time to read Jackson’s letter.

I’ve joined Rocky Mountain Alliance 2.0

Yesterday I was honored to be invited to join the Rocky Mountain Alliance 2.0 of Colorado bloggers.  Appreciate these kind words from Ben DeGrow at Mount Virtus:

For the first time in quite awhile, the Rocky Mountain Alliance has started to grow again. We have two new members who represent excellent additions. I invite you to check them out and add them to your regular blog reading (if you haven’t already):  The Business Word by Don Johnson has become a must-read for anyone seeking coverage of the unfolding major Republican primary races in Colorado, with great analysis and interviews Michelle Morin is a leader in the Teller County Tea Party movement, and her site Mom 4 Freedom has been a leading Colorado-based voice in the fight against Obama Care and other proposed costly government intrusions into our freedom

The alliance includes these active blogs:


Posted by Donald E. L. Johnson on 11/12/09 at 10:15 AM
Marketing and SalesBloggingRead More

Steve Rubel, Mari Smith blog on Twitter, Facebook, social networking

Trying to figure out how to use Facebook, Twitter and other social network strategies?

The Steve Rubel Lifestream looks like a good resource. And I hear Mari Smith is the Facebook guru.


A guide for Twitter newbies.

Mari Smith blogs on Facebook.


Posted by Donald E. L. Johnson on 10/15/09 at 07:38 AM
Marketing and SalesBloggingPermalink

How to get search engines to index your site and blog

Political candidates and bloggers are always asking how they can get Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines to index their sites so that “Scott McInnis” or “Josh Penry” comes up when potential readers search for those names.

exp design, a consulting firm, blogged on the topic and offered a few basic tips and links to more articles. Also, see my blog roll in the third column, which includes links to sites that specialize in search engine optimization.


Search engine optimization (SEO)


Will GE sell all or part of its PR departments, NBC, CNBC and MSNBC?

Rumors that General Electric (GE) will sell all or part of NBC Universal if its joint partner, Vivendi SA, wants out are important not only to GE’s employees and shareholders, but also to the company’s critics who see its NBC, CNBC and MSNBC networks as extensions of its government relations and public relations departments.

GE is a vocal backer of President Obama’s climate control and green initiatives because the company stands to make billions if it wins government contracts generated by politically charged programs designed to spread pork and green jobs around the country.

The company’s use of MSNBC and CNBC to advance these causes and butter up the Obama administration is particularly blatant in the eyes of most critics.

Click on head for rest of the story.

Posted by Donald E. L. Johnson on 10/01/09 at 07:55 AM
ColoradoPoliticsMediaFinancial MediaMarketing and SalesPublic RelationsStocksRead More

Laid off managers use their brights, hobbies and expertise to start small businesses

Today’s Wall Street Journal profiles five laid off managers who’ve started businesses with varying degrees of success.

Their stories show it pays to have a fairly advanced business plan on your hard drive at all times. You never know when you’ll need it.

In addition to the ability to create a business, you need to know how to market and budget. Marketing a small business these days begins as it always has with networking. You network your colleagues, your competitors, your previous employer’s clients and customers and suppliers that you’ve worked with.

Networking also involves helping others build their businesses, exchanging leads and subcontracting with each other.

And it involves creating a small web site and using pay per click ads on Google and Yahoo. Using Google and Yahoo is easy if you’re a writer or marketer, and it can’t be too difficult for people who spend a fair amount of time on the Internet.

Use the Google and Yahoo search engines to research starting a business.

Key words should include those related to your business and industry as well as general terms such as “small business,” “business startup,” “consulting,” “selling,” “marketing,” “networking,” etc.

Also check out the new business leads groups at your local Chamber of Commerce and online.

There are tons of resources. The key is to get the business going and to generate cash flow as soon as possible. In other words, you’ve got to decide what you’re selling, get on the phone and start selling.

Most important, be flexible. If someone wants to use you for something that’s not directly related to what you’re planning, take the work. It may turn into a business.

Posted by Donald E. L. Johnson on 05/12/09 at 08:40 PM
Marketing and SalesSmall BusinessPermalink

6 years of blogging on health policy, economics and stock picking

Six years ago I began publishing this blog on health policy, economics and stock picking.

In the early years, I focused on health policy and economics. We were, after all, publishing


Posted by Donald E. L. Johnson on 02/01/09 at 09:42 PM
Marketing and SalesBloggingSpeculationStocksRead More

How could newspapers be more useful to small, local advertisers?

Several large newspapers are going too be closed if they can’t be sold, and potential buyers are trying to figure out how they might bet into the newspaper business cheap and change the business model in ways that preserve the papers’ editorial products while profitably competing with the online advertising services that are driving some papers out of business.

In addition to our Rocky Mountain News, the Miami

Posted by Donald E. L. Johnson on 01/23/09 at 10:02 AM
MediaNewspapersMarketing and SalesAdvertisingRead More

E.W. Scripps (SSP) may outlast competition in Denver newspaper war

E.W. Scripps (SSP) may not have to close or sell its Rocky Mountain News in Denver because its joint operating agreement partner and competitor, MediaNews Group, is in a lot worse financial condition and may have to sell or close its Denver Post.

This assumes that


Posted by Donald E. L. Johnson on 01/22/09 at 03:28 PM
ColoradoEconomicsMediaNewspapersMarketing and SalesAdvertisingStocksColorado StocksRead More

What will replace metro daily newspapers, mass communications?

The more I think about the death of metro newspapers, the more I try to figure out what entrepreneurs will come up with to replace them.

We’re seeing more than the death of metro dailies. We’re seeing the end of so called “mass communications.”

While consumers are spending less time reading newspapers and the national networks’ nightly news programs, they’re spending more time searching for more news about the iPhone, Apple, Dell, specific hi-tech games and toys and their professions, employers and industries.

And the internet allows Yahoo, MSN, Google,, eBay,, and many other pay-per-click and auction sites to put readers in touch with advertisers who want to reach them.

So if you have a clean sheet of paper, $300 million in venture capital from investors who won’t put you deep in debt, what kind of business would you create to help advertisers reach their prospects and customers and consumers to find what they want to buy, keep informed about and discuss?

Would you follow CNN, which is considering taking on the Associated Press and Reuters, which are the primary national news providers?

Would you try to create a local news and advertising vehicle that focuses on community news and merchants rather than trying to cover a whole metro area?

Would you create an all news and commentary sight like a blog and count on readership that would make running Google’s Adsense profitable?

Or would you create an all advertising business that goes after local niches such as entertainment, foods, real estate, autos, sports and health care?

Maybe you’d try to do all of the above. If you could pull it off, you might have a local monopoly that would be close to legal. If you did parts of the service poorly, you could fail.

Who will be the first movers? Who will let others innovate and then come along with a better business plan? Who will be the Dairy Queen and who will be the McDonald’s, the Sears vs. the Walmart?

McDonald’s and Walmart are successful not because they invented fast food restaurants or retail discounting, but because they executed their plans so much better than their competitors.

In the communications world, the next big idea is still to emerge, much less a McDonald’s or a Walmart.

We still have the old fashioned, ancient, obsolete mass communications companies trying to re-invent themselves. We’ve yet to see a real innovator that will take us to the next generation beyond newspapers, network news, nightly news, weekly magazines, blogs and social networks.

I’m thinking the new communications entrepreneurs will begin to make their moves during the next 36 to 60 months. With the economy and credit markets in the dumps, the time is ripe.

Posted by Donald E. L. Johnson on 12/29/08 at 10:08 PM
e-commerceEconomyMediaFinancial MediaNewspapersMarketing and SalesAdvertisingPermalink

No bailouts for Tribune, NYT, Miami Herald,  Enquirer, News, Rocky Mountain News

Many of the nation’s leading newspaper publishers are on the verge of bankruptcy and are making drastic moves to deal with the continuing credit crisis and the long-time shrinking of their classified advertising markets.

So far, unlike the financial, housing and auto industries, nobody is recommending government bailouts for major media companies.

The Tribune Co., publishers of the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, today filed for bankruptcy. And, The International Herald Tribune adds, “The companies that own The Inquirer and The Daily News in Philadelphia and The Star Tribune in Minneapolis recently suspended debt payments but have not filed for bankruptcy.”

Reuters reports that the New York Times plans to borrow up to $225 million “against its mid-Manhattan headquarters building, to ease a potential cash flow squeeze as the company grapples with tighter credit and shrinking profits, the New York Times reported on its website Monday.”

Two major papers are on the block, the Rocky Mountain News, and the Miami Herald. Sacramento Business Journal reports, “Financially strapped McClatchy Co. is attempting to shed The Miami Herald, one of its largest and most-respected newspapers, according to news reports.”

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune is also being mentioned as being in financial trouble. It recently asked its unions for $20 million in cuts to help it meet its long-term debt obligations.

Gannett (GCI), publisher of USAToday and some 85 papers in the U.S., is being watched for signs of more cost savings moves. It reportedly already is in the process of cutting 2,000 jobs.

Here are daily charts for newspaper publishers, including GCI, NYT, MNI, LEE, WPO, MEG,  SSP, TCMI, MDP and NWS. One-year views are here. Click on a chart for more views.

I don’t own any of these stocks.

For educational purposes only. Investigate before you speculate. I am not recommending any trades and take no responsibility for how others trade stocks, ETFs, commodities or anything else.


Posted by Donald E. L. Johnson on 12/08/08 at 08:24 AM
EconomyMediaFinancial MediaNewspapersMarketing and SalesAdvertisingStocksPermalink

Rocky Mountain News is for sale; how can newspapers make money?

Chicago’s American, The Chicago Daily News and The New York Herald Tribune all failed while I was a young reporter at The Wall Street Journal and Chicago Sun-Times.

Newspapers fail every year for various reasons.

Last week, the owners of our Rocky Mountain News announced that it is for sale.

This probably means that large display advertisers will quickly drop the Rocky and that it will close early next year. No buyers are in sight at the moment, but miracles do happen.

The Rocky’s innovative and unusually communicative editor and publisher, John Temple, laments here. Note the comments by readers who are mostly unsympathetic and unhappy with newspapers in general.

Today, newspapers, which historically have been among the most profitable businesses, are failing because their business models have been rendered ancient by the Internet.

The question that newspaper industry executives and consultants haven’t answered is, what will make papers viable?

That some very smart people haven’t come up with a real answer tells how difficult the question is. So the still surviving publishers are holding on for dear life, hoping that their slide in advertising market share will bottom out at a level that allows them to be at least modestly profitable and relevant.

I have a few thoughts. None, new, I assume.

Newspapers are tanking due to their loss of most of their classified advertising to eBay, and various jobs and auto sites on the Internet.

Classifieds historically have attracted almost as many readers as business news stories and the comics. Almost 39 years ago, a couple of bright young guys in Chicago started the Weekly Reader, which allowed anyone to publish classifieds FREE. They made a fortune, publishing one great feature a week along with a few fillers and hundreds of ads.

Even today, alternative weeklies are filled with ads and one or two interesting stories. I’m not sure they’re thriving. Indeed I think some are hurting.

But they present a business model that daily newspapers might adapt.

Print free classifieds for individuals. Charge affordable prices for commercial and job ads. Craigslist charges $15.

Since the Internet has a tough time beating local display ads published in newspapers, wrap the classifieds around the display ads. 

Cut editorial costs to the bone while increasing readership of the paper and its related web site.

Publish one or two major investigative and trend pieces a day. You might also publish comics and puzzles that aren’t easily accessible on the net. Publish briefs on national, local, sports and business news with refers to the paper’s web site. Make sure all stories include tons of links to source materials and related stories. Keep it simple.

Invite all governmental agencies to submit their news releases and related propaganda. Group by town, county and school district. Publish the lede graphs in the paper. Publish the whole thing on the paper’s website. Open every item to comment by readers. They would provide the content that people would want to read.

Support this venture by selling affordable advertising to local merchants. Some would buy links to their web sites. Others would buy banner ads and text ads and others would buy display ads in the paper.

Automate ad sales, letting customers buy the ads on the web site. Advertisers would be responsible for writing, editing and submitting ads ready for publication on the web and/or in the paper. Payment would be by credit card, improving cash flow and collections as well as profitability.

Buy the software and systems needed to make the business work. Self-development is a huge waste of money. Not invented here is stupid.

To survive, newspapers have to make money on display ads and circulation. This means they have to cut editorial and advertising sales and admin costs while producing products that serve some need that can’t and won’t be served by the Internet. While millions of us read most of our news online, we still like to read newspapers and subscribe to them. That fewer people read newspapers means that they have to be made attractive to those who do read them and to advertisers who want to reach newspaper readers.

Solving this puzzle won’t be easy. I don’t know of a major paper that has adjusted to the new market.

The smartest or luckiest publishers are those that serve small communities, cover local news well and attract local advertisers. But even Gannett which owns some 85 papers, mostly in small towns, is hurting. So who knows.

Just some thoughts by a frustrated journalist, newspaper junky and entrepreneur.

Comment here.


Posted by Donald E. L. Johnson on 12/06/08 at 11:48 AM
EconomyEthicsTrustMediaFinancial MediaNewspapersMarketing and SalesAdvertisingPermalink

Google’s Adsense is a waste of time for serious bloggers

Google’s Adsense is a waste of time for major bloggers who don’t think Google is giving them the revenues they should be getting.

The Big Picture’s blogger, Barry Ritholtz, is pretty open about his frustration.

And he confirms my concerns, which have kept me from putting Adsense on this site. At the moment, it costs me only $240 a year for hosting this site, but since I’m not a techie, I have to hire a consultant to do some of the coding and site maintenance. So far, I get paid by my own investing activities, which are enhanced by the thinking and research I do as I write my blog posts. But a little revenue would be welcome if it didn’t require too much time, which I prefer to spend on blogging as opposed to selling ads and administration. I assume a lot of bloggers feel the same way.

If anybody has some advice, please e-mail me at thebusinessword (youknowthesymbol)


Posted by Donald E. L. Johnson on 10/28/08 at 09:21 AM
Marketing and SalesAdvertisingBloggingPermalink
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