Mike McCarron

Design debate 

I’ve been working on a web project and was floored to learn that 50% of visitors spend less than 10 seconds at a website. The good news is that 67% of the rest hang around for almost an entire minute. For all the effort that goes into site design, prospects sure don’t give you much time to set the hook. Knowing how to draw people to your site and convert them to customers is far from an exact science. However, there are some basic principles that every website needs in order to keep visitors engaged.


The panic set in two weeks before the industry seminar on personal branding I was scheduled to moderate. While reading some promotional material on the event, I saw that my bio didn’t include a web address for my new company. Then came the realization that my new company didn’t have a website.

Knowing what an idiot I would look like in a few short weeks, I quickly moved into DEFCON 1-mode to rectify things. My personal brand needed some attention!

Brand Masters 

The Masters is on the bucket list of every serious sports fan. Personally, I’ve always been skeptical of the hype, but this spring I accepted an invitation to see for myself.

Everything about the day was perfect. Watching the world’s greatest golfers in a major tournament was riveting. Augusta National was more pristine than it looks on TV, and paying four bucks for a pint was as refreshing as the beer itself.

What amazed me most was how well the old boys in green distribute the Masters brand.

Make some noise 

Now that you’ve cleaned up your online profile and taken ownership of your personal brand, it’s time to make some noise in a very noisy world. Perhaps more than what you’re selling, educated buyers want help and expertise. Having something compelling to say and marketing those ideas is the best way to increase your credibility and build an audience that will actually listen to you.

Golden branding 

Carrying the gold medals onto the ice during the final game of the recent World Junior Hockey Championship was one of the greatest experiences of my life.

It was also the scariest!

As I stepped onto the ice looking like a waiter from Denny’s, it struck me that millions were watching on TV. That’s when the trembling started.

Separating from the herd 

Imagine that your only contact with a certain prospect has been your semi-annual chin wag. Sure, it took 47 phone calls to reach him, but one day your persistence will pay off.  The truth is, the only thing you’re wearing out is your personal brand. Think how you feel when your home phone rings during dinner. On the other end of the line is someone unable to pronouce your name selling duct-cleaning service you probably don’t need.  That’s how this busy, educated, tech-savvy transportation buyer thinks of you.

Spam is dead. Long live spam 

Thanking government for anything is just not in my DNA. So speaking on behalf of my email inbox, I’d like to give kudos to the Canadian government for the anti-spam legislation it put into effect on July 1. You’ve probably heard about the Canadian Anti-Spam Law. It applies to commercial electronic messages sent to or from computers and devices in Canada.

Meeting the middle 

I’ve spent a lot of time dealing with freight brokers, so  I figured I knew the business.  But as I prepared to moderate two industry events recently, I found this old dog has a lot to learn. At the first event, I invited six industry leaders to sit down for a state of the union.  These are all “first generation” freight brokers—baby-boomer entrepreneurs who have been breaking trails for an industry that didn’t exist 30 years ago.

Lazy-hazy-crazy opportunity 

I’m convinced that Nat King Cole moonlighted in sales.  There is no other way to explain how he could write a song that describes the mind-set of the sales department come July 1.  That’s the day “Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer” kick into gear.

Know your CRM 

If you’re in the transportation business, you’re also in the acronym business.  It’s amazing how many of them are part of our industry lingo.  In fact, there are so many that Gene Orlick, a trucking pal from Canada, produces an annual list.  The 2014 version of Gene’s List contains 138 legit entries, plus a dozen zingers that only his closest buddies will get.

It depends 

It’s like clockwork.  Whenever someone calls me about selling their company, they respond to my spiel with the exact same question: “What’s my business worth?” My answer is always the same but never the one they expect: “It depends.”

Let’s talk price 

Pricing power—or the ability to raise rates without losing a customer—is hard to achieve in a commoditized business like transportation.  But a report from Simon-Kucher & Partners gives reason to hope.

Mining for pricing gold 

 The need to fill the widening social media pipeline with “content” has everyone writing studies.  As a regular columnist, my inbox is inundated with white papers, surveys, and reports from consultants that almost never get read.  During a recent email purge, however,  I came across two studies written almost 10 years apart that reveal a lot about transportation pricing.

Let’s put it in writing 

I’m continually puzzled by our industry’s approach to contracts.  Few carriers feel the need to have contracts with customers, and many flat-out refuse to see the value in them.  We have no problem spending millions of dollars in equipment so a customer can “try us out.”  If he doesn’t like us, we expect him to cordially return the iron so it can rot against the fence until sales can find some other “tryout” customer.

Lessons learned 1

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer surprised people when she recently decreed that the tech company’s employees would no longer be allowed to work from home. Never one to miss a chance to grab a headline, Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group, reacted by calling her decision “old school thinking.”

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