Monthly Archives: August 2012

Craig Bellmann shot this photo of me at the entrance to the Lower Tanque Verde Falls. We went there on an expedition to climb up the falls and swim in the pools that form there during the monsoon season. Flash floods from the sudden thunderstorms are a constant threat during the monsoon season.

Craig, my guide for the day, is an expert on the flora of the desert Southwest. We spent considerable time examining specimens of unusual local plants that survive in the fragile desert canyon environment because of the flow of water through the canyon after rainfall. Many of the plant and animal species are very rare and only survive briefly after rainfall and uniquely in this region. (Left) A seed pod of the Proboscidea altheaefolia or “Devil’s Claw”. (Right) The Arizona Desert Cotton or Gossypium thurberi after blooming.

The “Teddy Bear” or “Jumping Cholla Cactus”, Cylindropuntia fulgida, is an annoying and dangerous plant. If you touch it the miniature barbs embed in your skin making removal difficult. Serious injuries for mountain bike riders falling on jumping cholla and hikers being impaled are common in the Southwest. Needles can be painfully lodged in the skin for weeks before they are expelled. These were imbedded in my shoe and had to be removed using two sticks.

Lush green desert grass grows quickly during the monsoon and disappears just as fast when the water dries up. Few environments on earth transform as quickly as these desert canyons, entirely dependent on the fleeting monsoon rainfall.

This was the seventh consecutive day of high temperatures above 105 degrees in the Tucson, Arizona area so our primary objective was exploring the cool canyon pools that fill after rainfall in the upper canyon. We discovered these pools were teeming with life including unusual transparent fish species.

A small frog or toad species joined us at a rest break. Some of the species in the region use a biological process called “cryptobiosis” whereby they lie entirely dormant until the water arrives, then spring to life until the drought of the desert returns.

Cooling off in the canyon pools fed by the numerous waterfalls. I wore RailRiders’ VersaTac-light pants made of lightweight, durable 3-ounce Duralite Nylon fabric with Railtex reinforced knees and seat. These pants dry within minutes of leaving the water making them a perfect choice for adventures where you are in and out of the water.

Canyoneering is the sport of descending the flooded canyons using climbing equipment, then swimming across the descending pools from waterfall to waterfall. Here a canyoneer rappels down a dwindling waterfall.

Once he has rappelled down the dwindling waterfall the canyoneer uses his inflated dry bag for bouyancy as he swims across the deep canyon pool.

The canyoneer uses an unusual mix of equipment and skills from rock climbing, mountaineering, spelunking and even white water rafting.

Craig Bellmann is a local expert on the flora, fauna, history, weather and topography of the Desert Southwest. His keen sense for the rapidly changing desert weather, especially in the monsoon, are important in avoiding the deadly flash floods that claim victims every year.

RailRiders’ VersaTac-light reinforced, quick drying pants and their classic Eco-Mesh shirt are perfectly suited for adventures where I’m in and out of water and need protection from the sun in extreme heat. I’ve worn this same RailRiders Eco Mesh Shirt on all seven continents and in the Marathon des Sables, a 152-mile running race across the Sahara in Morocco and in the Jordan Telecom Desert Cup, a 105 mile running race near the Jordanian/Iraqi border.

In the crush of social media brands only have seconds to be heard. Don’t waste it on hollow engagement. Shut Up and Sell.

Notice to companies using social media for marketing: Stop trying to engage me. I’m not interested. Instead, take a tip from author and super salesman Don Sheehan, “Shut Up and Sell”.

With the advent of social media there has emerged a demi-industry of “teaching” people how to market using social media. It’s bunk. The truth is social media is so new and dynamic no one knows how to wield it most effectively for marketing and if they did, they wouldn’t sell that knowledge in a hundred dollar webinar. 

What we do know are the basics of what works in sales, and those basics work across all media. Media has changed. People haven’t. Most marketers forget their end goal is as simple as selling to people. Whether that is putting your tomatoes on a vegetable stand in downtown Beirut or posting a photo of your products on Facebook, the rules are the same. Shut Up and Sell. Focus on your brand. Show your products. Ask for the sale. 

The mistaken idea that brands and companies ought to “engage” on Facebook comes from a common quark of human character transferred to brand management: Ego-centricity. Many Facebook “marketers” view their Facebook contributions in a vacuum. They think their post is the only one “friends” and potential “Likes” will see. They think the people who “Like” them will be so thrilled with an attempt to “engage” them they will surrender a fragment of their precious (and fleeting) attention span. Wrong. The time-tested principles of sales show that neither works nor contributes on the bottom line. It does waste a lot of time though, time you could be selling.

Picture this: A man is seated in the middle of Grand Central Station. The normally packed station is abandoned. He sits in solitude. Suddenly, you walk in and “engage” him. He devotes his full attention to you. That’s not reality. Grand Central Station is never empty. It is a chaotic throng of people, lost and looking, busy and on task- just like social media. They do not want to engage. They want a quick peek and to be on their way. Now, walk up to that same person in the crowded, real world setting and try to “engage” them. They are annoyed by you.

According to a range of results the average Facebook user has between 120 and 300 “Friends”. With that number of inputs commercial users need to be concise and focused with their message.

The high discretionary income Facebook users most marketers crave are sophisticated enough to know they are talking into a hole if they respond to hollow “engagement”. The brands and companies posting open-ended Facebook posts like, “Dave Morgan won Olympic Gold today, what do YOU think of Dave Morgan’s victory?” are getting responses from people who have little better to do than post on Facebook. The real consumers are busy earning discretionary income and spending it, hopefully as fast as they can. They don’t waste time “engaging”. They see something. They want to know about it. They either buy it or they don’t.

How do the most profitable (key word there; profitable) Facebook users look? Here are two:

Dan Whitsett’s “Secrets in Lace” retro apparel brand wields social media effectively to drive measurable results in sales. Their Facebook page is all product, no empty content. Fans respond by exercising their only option: Buying.

 Secrets in Lace is a niche lingerie brand that sells retro-themed women’s apparel. Dan Whitsett started the company in 1984. Whitsett had a singular and focused market vision. His company faultlessly executed that laser-beam focus in their social media. They have 22,000+ fans and the only thing they post about is their products. All their photography is professional and original, no “copy and paste” images on their Facebook page. Their Facebook pages have the same look and feel as their website and print catalog. The message is consistent. They only show their product. They only promote their product.

Patrick Ma of Triple Aught Design is a master of selling with social media. His weekly product “teasers” create a rush on new introductions that drive sell-through. His focus is on brand, product and sales.

Bay area entrepreneur Patrick Ma didn’t just found a company, he founded a category. His company, Triple Aught Design, designs tactical/military inspired outdoor gear. Ma is widely attributed with the invention of the “tactical softshell” jacket, a category now embraced by mega-brands like The North Face and Arcteryx. His 15,000 Facebook fans are served a weeky menu of product “teasers” that provide hints to what new products will be released every Friday. They usually sell out in less than three hours. In a strange quirk of social media some Triple Aught Design customers rant about short supply of new product. Ma lets the rants run, understanding this is the best “call to action” for brand fans there is. It is the advertising you can’t buy.

 There are many other good brands wielding social media effectively and their key link is narrow brand focus, product focus and asking for the sale. Facebook and social media “marketers” need to remember the metrics that count on the bottom line. They aren’t “Likes” or number of fans, they are sales results. A bank deposit slip doesn’t have a box on it for “Likes”.