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Thomas Jefferson Never Plowed a Field but He Invented a Much Improved Plow

Hey gang,

Think about that subject line – Jefferson not only helped outline our democracy but he also took the time to invent a new and improved plow – plowing being a task he never actually did himself.  Instead of being crestfallen that I have surprisingly neither helped found a democracy nor improved a mainstay of farming, I take solace in knowing that I, like Jefferson, enjoy learning about many different topics and one of them just may end up being the foundation of an idea or thing that helps people long into the future.  My recommendation to you, learn or observe something new every day – you never know what your observances will lead to.

Lately I have been doing far less writing, having traded it for reading.  Over the last few months I have read biographies on Truman, John Adams, George Washington and the book, Between the Seas (about the Panama Canal).  My current read, The Great Bridge (about the Brooklyn Bridge) is also shaping up to be a good one.  This recent flood of reading came from working to rediscover my passion for learning which has always focused on history.  In an election cycle that people are calling ‘historical’ and ‘unprecedented’ and in a digital marketing sector that increasingly describes things ‘awesome’, ‘amazing’ and ‘totes ma goats’, it is nice to know there are very few new things under the sun (except maybe the term totes ma goats).

My typical email would give you an update on the work Sharp Guys has been doing and this one could do the same but I’ll let you off easy this month.  Go out and vote tomorrow – especially for your local elections.  Remember that in our political system, local election tends to be the area that you have the most direct control over and will have the most direct impact on your own life.  So tomorrow, be impactful!

Thanks for reading!
Cody

If Your Birthday Present to Us Isn’t a Mountain, We Don’t Even Want It

Good afternoon gang,

With the kids back in school, it got me thinking about what they will be learning and how they will be learning it this year.  In my day (how old did I become before I began saying that phrase?), we learned basic math via memorization and as I remember it, it must have been effective because I can still multiply 7*9 faster than I can round the 9 to 10, multiply the 7 by 10 and subtract the 7 leftover from the rounding to make the answer 63 (simple, right?) but I guess I’m an outlier…

And while that first thought may have sounded like the old mant rant of the late, great Andy Rooney, I’m going to double down and mention how my daughter began reading effectively last year in Kindergarten.  Up until that point, my wife and I had been trying to help her learn to read for about a year.
During her kindergarten school year, they began passing out a list of words they labeled as ‘sight words’.  These words were common and included “a, the, and, for”, etc.  Every week they would work on taking five of these words and…you guessed it, memorizing them.  You won’t believe this but by the time my daughter had memorized all 50 she had gone from barely reading to being much improved.  Memorization seemed to be very effective for reading but apparently it serves little purpose in math and is for ‘low achievers’.

Now that you’ve suffered through my pouting, relish in this awesome story of how Norway may be sending their neighbororing country something extra big for its 100th birthday (hint: IT IS A  MOUNTAIN).

The Work

Several of our newest clients have had their websites go live over the last month but if we’re only picking one to showcase, it would have to be local business, Brickvent.  Brickvent, owned by local entrepreneurs, Curt Franke and Ernie Alexander, created a plastic molded brick that eliminates moisture on brick houses.

In the course of working on their new eCommerce site I learned far more about spalling and efflorescence (sorry spellcheck, those are real words) than I every thought imaginable.  I also learned that if you have a brick house or are building one and want to keep mold out, you should check out what they guys have to offer.

brickvent2

Other Stuff

The B2B Marketers of Indiana, a great local marketing group, has two upcoming events that promise to be excellent.  On August 17th, join us at Delivra for Creating B2B Videos to Use as Sales Tools – presented by Heather Brogden.

On September September 21st, Join us at Geofeedia to wish me a belated Happy Birthday and check out the amazingly titled, Why Tall People Make More Money: Building Brands Through Social Behaviors presented by Daniel Herndon.

As always, thanks for reading my occasional diatribes.  If you have ideas for my next newsletter, desire to complain, or want me to buy something – shoot me an email.
Cody

This Email Includes One Lie and One Truth, Can You Tell Which is Which?

Hello readers – two random things –

Recently I was at a presentation where I learned that the average cereal eater was 25-60 years old and male.  The average time of the grain infusion – 10 PM! Capn’ Crunch and I have so many lost years to make up for and no matter what my wife says, I now have proof that cereal is an adult’s dinner.

I was chatting with a friend last week and I realized that they had ran more during the last week than I had in the previous decade combined.  Right then and there I made a commitment to a huge life change, something that would really make a difference.

Now, in front of the entire email list I will reaffirm my declaration. I, Cody Sharp, promise to run as much over the next 10 years as my friend did during the last week.  I figure if I can run a block per month, I’ll be on pace for hitting the mark.  I know it will be hard but summer gives me a good start as there are a limited number of ice cream trucks on the road these days – sometimes a short run is required to catch one (looking for a place to buy those wooden ice cream cup sticks?).

The Work

Recently we finished work on a brilliant local company’s website, dotStaff.  The new website got a huge leg up when the dotStaff team sent over a really cool background video for the home page. You can check out the effect on the site.

dotStaff is a SaaS that is utilized by municipalities and other organizations to manage thousands of service providers contracts (it also does a lot of other things).  Since the website is used by both potential clients and current clients, we had to make sure everyone could find what they were looking for right away.  I think the end result came out great and was a direct result of fantastic communication by the dotStaff team.

dotstaff

Other Stuff

Marketing and Margarita’s is Thursday the 23rd at the One American building.  It is $10, there will be drinks and tacos.  Join us!   Thanks for reading along.  I kept this one short and sweet but the next newsletter will be a long, slow, bitter slog – fair warning!

Cody

Have You Ever Wanted to Name a 250 Million Dollar Government Ship?

For most of you, the obvious answer is YES.  A bucket list item like naming a quarter of a billion dollar ship doesn’t come around every day. Thanks to Great Britain’s Natural Environment Research Council you now have the chance.

And since they asked the internet, the whole internet, we have some incredible options already but one name stands on the shoulders of giants – a name that already has 80,000 more votes than any other.  This name clearly brings to mind the immense price tag of this ship, the important polar research it will be doing, and Great Britain’s hundreds of years of proud naval history.

RRS Boaty McBoatface

If you want to upvote that name or choose one of your own, now is the time. The contest continues until April 16th.

Boaty

A Note

You may have noticed (or been thankful) that I have been noticeably absent from the blogging/newsletter world for the last couple of months.  I’m both humbled and embarrassed that some of you even noticed and asked me what had happened.

While I was legitmately ‘busy’, I was also finishing up a fantastic family trip to Disney World.  I will certainly be more active during the second quarter of 2016 and depending on whether or not you enjoy reading these, you can take that as either a promise or a threat.

The Work

It really has been a fun start to 2016 and we have been fortunate to work with a number of different clients.  One in particular, Allusions, asked us to create a new lead generating Look Book and I think it really came out great.

Thanks to our design team and some incredible client feedback, we were able to pull together this Look Book in less than 2 weeks and it is now downloadable online when a visitor fills out a form on their website.  In just a short time, it has generated leads from interested visitors (the main goal of the Look Book’s creation), several of which have led to sales.

Other Stuff

I wanted to give a special shout out to Delivra for hosting the B2B Marketers of Indiana in March.  If you missed the workshop that was given, you can read the follow-up blog here.

Finally, if you have stuck around this far you must really be my target market (my mother and/or good friends) or perhaps you are a masochist.  Either way – you’re appreciated!  For your persistence over adversity, I’m providing (especially for fans of Breaking Bad), the true and incredible story of The Walter White of Wichita.

Thanks for reading!
-Cody

Bowling League Involvement Has Dropped 40%

Hey gang,

Long ago I read an article that argued that American’s were becoming less social, less engaged, and less aware.  Specifically the prestigious author whimsically pointed to a 40% drop in bowling league involvement as a simple indicator of this loss of societal capital.  That article has stuck with me for years since I read it.

When I saw that Indiana local voter turnout was the lowest in the nation in 2014 as only 30% of eligible voters voted (where I live in Marion county, the turnout was 25%), I wasn’t surprised to see that Indiana in 1954 (also a mid-term election year), voter turnout was 62.6%.  It seemed to prove the bowling league hypothesis right – Americans are simply less engaged.

This month, I personally joined a bowling league (coincidentally, it is a heck of a lot of fun) making me think once again about the article.  Upon further reflection, I realized the article’s argument simply couldn’t be true.  In an age of a billion people being connected on Facebook, 10 million neighbors being connected on Nextdoor, and millions of people volunteering (and raising more than a hundred million dollars) for nonprofits they care for each year, the problem isn’t Americans being less engaged and social, it’s the disenfranchisement by an institution they feel they receive little benefit from taking part in.  In 2016, I urge you to do one of two things to do your part to turn things around.  Get out and vote when the time comes, or for all that is good and holy, join a bowling league!  Better yet, do both.

Let me 
explain something to you. Um, I am not "Mr. Lebowski". You're Mr. Lebowski. I'm the Dude. So that's what you call me. You know, that or, uh, His Dudeness, or uh, Duder, or El Duderino if you're not into the whole brevity thing.

The Work

It’s been a great start to the year for Sharp Guys’.  A lot of the work we have been doing over the last 3 months has moved away from being website-based work to digital lead generation for our ongoing client base.  Exciting results to come in the form of a case study but unfortunately not much cool imagery.  In lieu of website imagery, I’ll instead give you a link to the awesome and epic story of the how the dancing inflatable tube man came to be.

Other Stuff

I wanted to give a special shout out of thanks to Gerry Dick for joining the B2B and AMA this month at Ice Miller for a chat.  We had over 60 attendees and will be looking to do more joint ventures between our two marketing groups in the future.  If you are a marketer or know of one that would be interested in joining an awesome networking group, check out the B2B and/orAMA websites and get details on upcoming events.

Hope you all have a wonderful February.

Cody

A Weird Thing About Selling Your Car With No Heat During WInter Time

A weird thing about selling your car with no heat during winter time – no one wants it.  I started thinking about this 2 weeks ago when my car forced me to.  It suddenly stopped producing heat and I, after opening up my hood for 2 minutes and glaring at the radiator’s incompetence, decided there was very little I could to except glare one last time.   After learning that the cost to fix the problem would cost more than the cost of some gloves, I did what cheap non-mechanical people do – I bought some gloves and decided to sell the car and buy a new one.  Quickly I found out that selling a car in the winter without heat (even in 55 degree weather) wasn’t as easy as eating a whole pizza by myself in one sitting (this is my metric for difficult, yet possible situations I excel in).

Often times Sharp Guys Web Design provides long term solutions tlo companies with both short term and long term problems.  This car selling experience made me think yet again about how important it is to provide some heat (often in the form of lead generation) to the chilled to the bone companies I am working with.  I commonly speak to a potential client that needs leads now but has a website that lacks pizazz (I believe pizazz is the quality Google looks for most in a website) but needs to build a new website before I can begin working to help them with leads.  That’s like telling my potential client, “Good news, your car will have no heat during the dead of winter but you are just going to love how ice cold the air conditioning will be this summer.”

Lately I have been moving to temporary solutions for people’s lead generation problems – pay per clicks ads and email being the two main channels.   If you provide solutions that will cool your client’s with lemonade on the hottest day of the year but they are stuck smack dab in winter, maybe you should think about doing the same thing.

One More Thing

This month is unique in that the format for the email is entirely changed and really has nothing to do with the normal stuff I have done in the past.
Look for the brand new Sharp Guys’ newsletter in 2016 and in case I don’t speak with you before the end of the year, I wish you an incredible end to the year.  Best wishes – Cody

These Are Some of the Ways This Email Were Going to Start

Hi again gang,

Sometimes people ask me how I write these emails and usually I tell them that I simply sit down and write for 10 minutes but the truth is, I often write a whole bunch of stuff I never use.  This month I wanted to share with you some examples of the stuff I usually write before getting to the slightly better stuff I like to believe I usually end up with (if you are wondering, this month you get no slightly better stuff).

Subject line 1: How Fallout 4 is Like Marketing

Fallout, if you haven’t heard is a post-apocalyptic game series that began in 1997. Since Fallout 4 came out a couple of weeks ago, it has shipped 10 million+ copies. Over 18 years the series has went from having a great story with horrible graphics to a decent story with pretty nice graphics.  In all 5 games (they didn’t number one of them), the game starts with the same line – ‘War never changes’.

The idea being people are people regardless of where you put them in time, place, circumstance – they will still fight with each other.  In the same way, no matter where you put marketers in time, place, circumstance we will try and find ways of communicating to a prospect (thankfully our version simply has fewer nuclear bombs but sadly fewer cute dog companions).

Subject line 2: My 6 Year Old Can’t Wait to Flip the Calendar to Next Month

Every month my daughter begins the process of counting how many days it is to the next month.  She absolutely loves the idea of moving to the next month – maybe it has something to do with the calendar’s usage of cute furry animals but I think it mostly relates to her optimism for life and her excitement for what is next.  Usually by the end of the month, I’m groaning that I didn’t get enough done and I’m thinking about all of the ways I should have used my time better. In other words, I’m simply regretting the month I had instead of looking forward to the future I can build.  I think this month, I’m going to use my daughter’s method.

Other Unused Subject Lines:
3) The Secret Life of Bats
4) Marketing Made EZ – How to Use ‘Words’ Like EZ Instead of Easy
5) Sometimes I Keep My Coat on While Working Because I’m Too Lazy to Take it Off

The Work

Lots of clients to talk about but I thought I would go with potentially the most useful.  Steve Scully’s Fireplace Service is for those of you that have a fireplace, know what it is supposed to do (light on fire) but have no idea how to make it happen (this includes yours truly).  Take a look at Steve’s new website and let him help you keep your house nice and toasty this winter.

Other Stuff

This January, the B2B Marketers of Indiana and the Indy AMA are doing an awesome meetup with Gerry Dick.  Get all of the details here and sign up before the tickets sell out.

Thanks for reading all.  Hope you all have a truly wonderful December.

-Cody

I refuse to sell out and make this email about Halloween (and other lies I tell myself)

We are just days away from one of the fastest growing holidays in the holiday economy (did I just make that term up?) – Halloween!  Everyone loves to dress up, dress their kids up, dress their pets up, and dress their yards up – the Sharp’s included.  But what you may not know is that Halloween used to require dancing in order to receive candy.

ecdeba76-bdf6-446b-9585-e926af9930bb

Now THAT is something I think we can all agree is a shame to have been lost.

3 Digital Marketing Tools I am Incredibly Excited About 
In fact, I’m so excited that I am sharing them without my typical Payola fee.
  1. Dasheroo
  2. Crystal
  3. Hotjar
With these 3 tools you can use data to generate more sales and leads (Dasheroo), better connect with the people you work with or want to work with (Crystal) and analyze what is going well/wrong on your website (Hotjar). I would highly recommend anyone try them that is working to be awesome at both work and life.  You’ll look awesome at life because analytical thinking is widely regarded as a sign of someone really cool and awesome (source?).

The Work
Even though the sun has set on summer, we are still basking in the glow of some work that has
recently gone live.  One of my favorites is CPI.  This 62 year old Indianapolis-based company provides an array of products for companies like Beck’s and Dreyer & Reinbold, organizations like INDOT and the Indianapolis Airport Authority, and municipalities throughout the midwest.

Please Read This Stuff
I wrote a TON of words this month.  Some of them made it into the posts below.

Other Stuff

If you missed this B2B Marketers of Indiana meeting this month (you missed an AMAZING lunch at Ruth’s Chris) but are interested in networking, pizza or learning, you should really come to our next meetup on November 18th – the first time you come to a B2B Marketers of Indiana meeting is free!

As always, thanks for reading!  – Cody

1 Year Anniversary of Sharp Guys – Check ✅

Today marks the one year anniversary of Sharp Guys Web Design being a full time venture! Unfortunately I just found out the 100 million dollar checks me and all of the other billionaires were planning on sending the IRS will no longer be accepted – their loss!

In short, this has been an incredible first year and I want to thank my family (especially my awesome wife, Christine), clients, and friends for making it possible by being so supportive and helpful.

Thank You!

The Work

A fantastic local client, Knowledge Services, had its brand new website go live this past weekend.  This is one of those special projects where there was a tremendous amount of collaboration and communication which ultimately brought out the best in a new website.  The KS team was and is a true pleasure to work with.

Other Stuff

If you missed this B2B Marketers of Indiana meeting last month but are interested in networking, bagels or learning, you should really come to our next meetup on September 17th (I’ll be there celebrating on my birthday) – the first time you come to a B2B Marketers of Indiana meeting is free!

Why So Short This Month?

Lazi…I mean, it is just my reward to you for following along the past 12 months dear reader.

Missed a newsletter this last year and just have to see what you missed?  You are in luck! They are all available, collecting dust awards.

As always, thanks for reading!  – Cody

55% of You Are Definitely Missing Out. We’re Having a Party in Here

45% of you surprisingly open our newsletter emails on an ongoing basis. I know what you are thinking, “Cody I didn’t know you knew 20 people, 9 of which feel sorry for you and open your emails”. Believe it or not, there are nearly 400 people on this mailing list. That means quite a few open my emails but even more do not.

If you have written newsletter before, you have likely faced a similar issue. You spend all of your time making great (or in my case, [editor note: enter a different adjective for ‘mediocre’]) content and more of your mailing list than not, doesn’t even open the thing. What can be done?

A List!

  • Use a good subject line. Even New York Times journalists have found out; an amazing headline is just as valuable as truly amazing content. If you don’t spend some time in this area, you are missing the boat.
  • Send to interested people. If people don’t want to see your stuff, why send it to them? You should have a pretty good idea who these people are. In my case, they go out of their way to send actual post letters to me telling me they unsubscribe. But seriously, don’t send to people that don’t want your stuff.
  • A subject line only gets you so far – know your audience. If 50% of your email is promotional, that may be way too high. This percentage is not hard and fast – for some industries, it may be expected. In others, 5% will be far too high. The important part is knowing your audience and providing interesting, humorous, engaging content.
  • Do it regularly. If you set up the expectation that you will send once per month, do it. If you stop without notice, it sets a poor precedent-like having a storefront and simply not opening without notice. If you need to take a break, announce that in an email.
  • Use a mobile friendly email design. Mailchimp and a variety of other email service providers are responsive (mobile friendly) out of the box. With 50% of emails now being opened on people’s phone, this is critical for people to open your next one.

The Work

This month I am incredibly proud to announce one of my coolest projects yet, Editorial Cartoonist of the Chicago Tribune, Scott Stantis’s personal scottstantis-770x347website has gone live!  You can check out an archive of older cartoons and his excellent ongoing comic, Prickly City. Scott was excellent to work with and this site will have a lot more to show off over the coming year.

This month we also launched new eCommerce website, BlingIt Brands. This awesome local company adds some fancy bling to youth apparel. Take a look!

Brand New Sharp Guys’ Service Launch

Sharp Guys had a soft launch of a new service we are very excited about, it is called – WordPress Support and Maintenance (it has a nice dull ring to it I think). This service is everything you need to make sure your company’s website stays unhacked, secure, supported and revenue-happy. You can find out more here.

My One New Blog This Month

I think this one will be helpful for any of you that are marketers. It is called, A Warning to Marketers Everywhere – Don’t Make This Mistake. It is all about how you can prove your worth to your company the way any sales person does, through revenue.

Other Stuff

If you missed this B2B Marketers of Indiana meeting this month but are interested in networking, pizza or learning, you should really come to our next meetup on August 19 – the first time you come to a B2B Marketers of Indiana meeting is free!