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Articles by Donald E. L. Johnson

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Today is Monday, December 05, 2016

Marketing and Sales

Independent banks reassure, appeal to small business owners

While the mega banks like Bank of America (BAC), Wells Fargo (WFC) and J. P. Morgan Chase (JPM) buy up their failing competitors like Countrywide, Merrill Lynch (MER), Washington Mutual and Wachovia (WB), small independent bankers are trying to retain their small business customers.

Indeed, with the increase in FDIC protection for bank customers to $250,000 on savings and checking accounts as well as certificates of deposit, independent banks may win some small business clients away from the big, impersonal national chains. It’s well known that the financial conglomerates like Citigroup (C) haven’t been particularly successful, to put it mildly.

Therefore, the recent and pending acquisitions by BAC, WFC and JPM may not only make them less attractive to investors but also to small businesses and wealthy individuals.

But, then, these companies didn’t get where they are by serving only big organizations. And they may actually win a greater share of the small business market. It’s hard to predict.

As an owner of a small business, I felt better dealing with an independent bank than I did when I banked with a couple of the national and regional banks.

Here’s an example of the public relations efforts small, independent banks are waging to retain and win over owners of small businesses.

Jay Davidson, CEO of First American State Bank, Greenwood Village, CO, placed this article in a local business magazine.

I don’t own any of the above stocks. Their daily charts are here. Click on a chart to see a variety of charts.

For educational purposes only. Investigate before you speculate.

Apple’s (AAPL) Steve Jobs leaks news his cancer hasn’t come back, but he has other health problems

Look for Apple’s stock to jump a few bucks Monday on the news leaked to the New York Times by Steve Jobs himself that his rare form of pancreatic cancer hasn’t returned as rumored. But he confirmed to the Times’ Joe Nocera that he has had surgery for some kind of stomach problems and and some post operation complications that people noticed when he appeared in public last month. The story is here.

After recounting the rumors about Jobs’ health, the speculation that Apple’s stock (AAPL) would drop as much as 25% if he were to leave unexpectedly and a little history of how other CEOs have disclosed and not told shareholders about their serious illnesses, Nocera drops the bomb in these concluding graphs:

On Thursday afternoon, several hours after I’d gotten my final “Steve’s health is a private matter” — and much to my amazement — Mr. Jobs called me. “This is Steve Jobs,” he began. “You think I’m an arrogant [expletive] who thinks he’s above the law, and I think you’re a slime bucket who gets most of his facts wrong.” After that rather arresting opening, he went on to say that he would give me some details about his recent health problems, but only if I would agree to keep them off the record. I tried to argue him out of it, but he said he wouldn’t talk if I insisted on an on-the-record conversation. So I agreed.

Because the conversation was off the record, I cannot disclose what Mr. Jobs told me. Suffice it to say that I didn’t hear anything that contradicted the reporting that John Markoff and I did this week. While his health problems amounted to a good deal more than “a common bug,” they weren’t life-threatening and he doesn’t have a recurrence of cancer. After he hung up the phone, it occurred to me that I had just been handed, by Mr. Jobs himself, the very information he was refusing to share with the shareholders who have entrusted him with their money.

You would think he’d want them to know before me. But apparently not.

Nocera does a good job of covering the ethics of Jobs’ secretiveness about his health. He doesn’t discuss the ethics of allowing Jobs to go off the record with him, and he doesn’t directly discuss the deal they made that allowed him to break his big scoop.

Having been in such situations as a reporter and as a source, but not anywhere near as important stories as this one, I can speculate about how the conversation probably went.

Jobs said he wanted to talk off the record. No reporter wants to go off the record, but many do, as Nocera did in this case.

Off the record means none of the information disclosed can be reported. The reporter is supposed to use the information to help him dig into the story and to keep his facts straight.

Not for attribution means a reporter can use the information disclosed without attributing it to the person who is being interviewed.

Nocera’s interview with Jobs was both off the record and not for attribution. They obviously agreed on what would be off the record, and what would be disclosed but not directly attributed to Jobs. During the interview, Jobs obviously shot down the rumors that his pancreatic cancer has returned, and he confirmed that he’s had surgery and suffered from some complications.

That he doesn’t have cancer was the big and important news that Jobs wanted Nocera to publish on Sunday when the markets were closed without attributing it to him. Done deal.

That Jobs has had surgery and complications was rumored. Nocera already had that information. His conversation with Jobs confirmed those rumors and he reported them. Nocera probably wouldn’t have reported the rumors the way he does in this story if Jobs hadn’t given him the confidence to do so.

So this is first, a big news story about Jobs’ health. It’s a market mover.

Second, this is an ethics story. It shows how business ethics converges with journalistic ethics.

And third, this is a public relations story. Jobs is one of the most PR savvy CEOs around. He knows the PR game and how to manipulate the media, analysts, shareholders, customers, employees and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Jobs obviously concluded that the line that his health is “a private matter” could no longer stand. The pressure from investors, his advisors and his board to be more forthcoming was just too great.

But, as always, Jobs had to do it his way. He didn’t reinvent the wheel with his approach, but he certainly has made sure the world knows that he is Apple and that he’s cancer free at the moment, if not without health problems.

I don’t own AAPL.

For educational purposes only. Investigate before you speculate.

Posted by Donald E. L. Johnson on 07/27/08 at 07:26 AM
EthicsTrustMarketing and SalesPublic RelationsStocksFinancial MediaPermalink

Google (GOOG) disappoints speculators; ad revenues hold up; cash managment is the problem

At least Google (GOOG) isn’t blaming its disappointing earnings report on global warming, the weather or even oil prices.

Instead, Google says in this report by Reuters that it didn’t earn as much interest income as expected because it spent some $3.5 billion on an acquisition, and hedging currencies cost more than expected.

Thus, the 8% drop in GOOG’s stock price in extended hours trading after the company announced its results was all a big mistake, according to at least one analyst.

If so, GOOG may go up Friday instead of sinking on the news that its earnings only rose 35% from a year ago.

But its charts, which are shown here, are all bearish, and maybe the stock will reach its bearish price objective of $465 after all. The stock closed Friday at $533.44. In after hours trading, it fell to $492, well below its all time high of $741.79 per share. Prior to the earnings announcement, said GOOG’s fair value is an estimated $625 and gave the stock three of a possible five stars.

What matters for GOOG is what happens to consumer spending. If consumers reduce their spending, advertisers will cut back on their ad spending on Google and in the print and broadcast media. But a drop in oil prices could cut gas prices and give consumers more confidence about the economy. This would help Google.

So speculators should keep close eyes on department store sales, new car sales and what they and their neighbors are buying or not buying.

Analysts don’t think Google’s prospects will be well known for several months. The economic outlook is pretty uncertain.

I don’t own GOOG but my investment club does.

For educational purposes only. Investigate before you speculate.


Posted by Donald E. L. Johnson on 07/17/08 at 08:34 PM
e-commerceEconomyMarketing and SalesAdvertisingStocksPermalink

How to use Yahoo Pipes to track mentions of your organization on the Web

I’m reading Always On, Advertising, Marketing and Media in an Era of Consumer Control, by Christopher Vollmer of Booz Allen. I’ll review the book for FAR and here soon.

Anyway, it got me to thinking about Church of the Customer by a couple of other social networking and marketing consultants.

There I found this post on Yahoo Pipes, which I want to followup on as soon as I get time. The link is here.

Posted by Donald E. L. Johnson on 06/01/08 at 02:02 PM
Marketing and SalesBloggingTechnologyPermalink

Can Microsoft overtake Yahoo, Google?

Microsoft (MSFT) has a chance to parlay its strengths in technology and display advertising and growing skepticism about the effectiveness of pay-per-click search advertising into long-term wins against Yahoo (YHOO) and Google (GOOG), according to the cover story in the May 19, 2008, are here. Of the three stocks, only GOOG has a bullish point and figure chart price objective. Reuters offers data on all three companies here.

Based on the BusinessWeek story and my experiences as a web surfer and pay-per-click advertiser, this is how I see the relative strengths of the three companies:

1. Resources for the technological and marketing wars: Microsoft is stronger than Google, but not much, and both are a lot stronger than Yahoo.
2.  Technology that will make search and advertising work for advertisers: Microsoft beats Google beats Yahoo.
3. Pay-per-click search advertising: Google has a 75% market share and Yahoo is way ahead of Microsoft.
4. Display advertising technology and market share: Yahoo is a bit ahead of Microsoft, and both are way ahead of Google.
5. Traffic on web sites: With 500 million unique visitors a month, Yahoo is ahead of Google, which beats Microsoft.
6. Content: Yahoo beats Google beats Microsoft.

Microsoft is making a major pitch that pay-per-click advertising is way over rated, and as a former advertiser, I’d have to agree. Pay-per-click fraud is still a big problem on Google and Yahoo, I think. But will display advertising be better? I notice the ads and only click on them accidentally.

For small business advertisers, Google is still the best deal. And it’s the only place Mac owners can use their favorite computers instead of their WinTel backups.

Full disclosure: I do not have positions in any of the stocks mentioned here.

For educational purposes only. Investigate before you speculate.

Posted by Donald E. L. Johnson on 05/11/08 at 11:58 AM
e-commerceMarketing and SalesAdvertisingSmall BusinessTechnologyPermalink

Gallup-Healthways Well Being Index (sm) will make Healthways (HWAY) a global brand

One way to make a company a global brand is to make it the source of critical, exclusive data such as the Dow Jones or S&P indexes or the J. D. Powers ratings of autos and other products. The disease management and preventive care company, Healthways Inc. (HWAY), has joined with the international polling company, Gallup, to create the Gallup-Healthways Well Being Index (sm), which will give Americans a measure of their individual and collective health and well being.

I recently profiled HWAY here.

Healthways’ president and CEO, Ben Leedle, explained

How can banks and small businesses capitalize on social networking, personal CPM?

J. P. Hannan, a media guru, offers some intriguing ideas about social networking, personal CPM and online advertising over at Seeking Alpha.


Posted by Donald E. L. Johnson on 03/24/08 at 09:23 AM
Marketing and SalesAdvertisingBloggingPermalink

Tools used by bloggers useful for investors, small business owners, market researchers

The blog looks at the research tools top bloggers use to find information and keep up with their industries and key words. You can track keywords and stock symbols on the major search engines, which will e-mail news about any key-word you specify.

I’m old fashioned, I guess. I surf the web and read blogs, newspapers and magazines.

Posted by Donald E. L. Johnson on 03/23/08 at 10:37 PM
Marketing and SalesBloggingPermalink

Join our message board to discuss stocks, business, health care, politics

The Business Word message board is where you can comment on blog posts, stocks, business issues and problems, health care and health insurance issues and even national and local politics. Click here to see the forums.

While blogs like this are mostly top down enterprises where the bloggers start threads and conversations, message boards are bottom-up ventures in the sense that both the blogger and members can start threads. Message boards generally foster more open discussions, are easier to post on and are easier to moderate for spam and other undesireable content. I will try to participate in most threads, and I’m hoping we can develope communities of serious investors, options traders, technical analysts, health care policy wonks and business owners. If the political forum takes off, that will be a bonus for this politics and news junky.

Posted by Donald E. L. Johnson on 03/21/08 at 03:38 PM
Marketing and SalesBloggingPermalink

American Red Cross, blood centers handle warnings about old blood badly

The American Red Cross and trade associations representing the mostly not-for-profit blood centers are failing to respond appropriately or even ethically to a major meta study by the Cleveland Clinic researchers that found the use of “old” blood puts patients at risk.’s JoNel Alecca has the best and most complete report on the study. USA Today published a a decent story, and, most impressively, provided links to more information for readers who want to dig deeper into the story. I’ve been able to find only one blog that is even mentioning this story.

American Red Cross and other blood centers are trying to

What it takes to attract readers to your blog

Some top bloggers offer their blogging tips to Paul Boutin.


Posted by Donald E. L. Johnson on 03/19/08 at 10:36 PM
Marketing and SalesBloggingPermalink

Capital One’s attracts me with an ad in the Rocky

Capital One Services Inc. (COF) has launced, “the new business marketplace designed to bring Denver business owners and customers together.”

The ad promoting the new site that


Why regional newspapers are cutting business coverage; how to fix it

Newspapers’ business sections typically have been edited and written by journalists who love the big national stories and are too lazy to dig out the local stories. That newspapers are cutting business coverage is discussed by Ken Doctor over at Content Bridges. Hat tip to

Most business journalists are liberals, and they go for the negative, scandal story over the positive profile of a local employer or industry sector such as printers, agribusiness firms, bankers, Realtors, etc. Even worse, local business sections pander to advertisters such as retailers, auto dealers, Realtors, home builders and supermarkets. Coverage of those advertisers is 95% puff and 5% news. This saps their credibility as business news sources.

Creating a successful business section is not that hard. Just cover the local markets and employers. Report on contracts municipalities have up for bid. Report the winners and losers in local and state government contracting. Report on both publicly-owned and privately-held local employers, investor-owned, not-for-profits and nonprofits. Cover local charities as businesses and employers as well as do gooders. Make local CEOs of all types of organizations high-profile personalities, reporting on their failures as well as their successes. Cover the rumors. Rumors sell papers. Readers sell advertising. Increased advertising would pay for the labor-intensive coverage.

The problem with most newspapers is that they’re run by sales people (publishers) who hire lousy editors and skimp on the editorial product.

Posted by Donald E. L. Johnson on 03/11/08 at 11:03 AM
MediaFinancial MediaNewspapersMarketing and SalesAdvertisingPermalink

Should small businesses’ employees be encouraged to blog?

Corporate blogging has been discussed a few times on this blog. Lee Gomes takes a stab at explaining the pros and cons. But he doesn’t address the problem of finding employees who like to write, know how to control their opinions and know their company and how to make their bosses and company look good. For more of my opinions on this, search this site for “blogging” and “blog.”

Posted by Donald E. L. Johnson on 03/04/08 at 12:43 PM
Marketing and SalesBloggingPublic RelationsPermalink

PR, SEO, social media marketing are all pretty much the same

Steve Rubel over at Micro Persuation says, “Comparing SMM SEO and PR Tactics is Pure Poppycock.”

I don’t agree. They’re all about opening doors, and smart marketers evaluate them all for their employers and clients.

Posted by Donald E. L. Johnson on 02/28/08 at 05:58 PM
MediaMarketing and SalesPublic RelationsPermalink
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