Monday, December 28, 2009

Tracey Edwards Shutters Doors

I was surprised and saddened to hear that Manchester-based agency Tracey Edwards has gone out of business. I had to look up the story, as these things tend to happen quietly... in my experience, companies tend to go under with a whimper rather than a bang. Apparently this all happened in November. As is often the case, the business is gone, but the web site remains up as if nothing has happened, a ghostly remnant of ones and zeroes lingering after 30-something years of business. Here's the Union Leader article by business reporter Denis Paiste. Despite them leaving some creditors and clients hanging, it's good to see a few comments from people chiming in on their behalf, because they were a quality outfit. More background and color on their closing can be found on this excellent blog post by Kathy Remillard. Here's hoping all involved land on their feet and have a better 2010.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Vote Now for NH Best of Business Awards

NH Business Review does the "BoB Awards" every year. It's a great opportunity for your business to get some visibility, so don't forget to have your customers/clients/mom/dad vote for you!

Voting is open through Jan. 29. The celebration of the winners will be March 11.

Now, if I may be so bold as to give you some voting suggestions, you can crib off my list:

28. Financial investment firm: E B Capital Markets. Shameless plug (because he's damn good) for my little brother.

39. Coffee: Breaking New Grounds

54. Networking event: eBrew, of course!

BTW, if you need more incentive to vote, if you vote in at least 20 of the 81 categories, you get entered in a contest for prizes. If no company springs to mind in any category, I just leave it blank. No biggie. And of course, there are sponsorship opportunities available.

If you look at last year's winners, they tend to be Manchester-centric, so don't be afraid to vote for your favorite local Seacoast businesses... c'mon Portsmouth, rep-re-sent!

Monday, November 30, 2009

R.I.P. Drew Casey

I was shocked on Thanksgiving morning to see my buddy Mark's Facebook status update that Drew was "fighting for his life" and saddened to hear that he died the following day.

When I met Drew, he was a founder of a "competing" web development shop. Wunderkind (then eyeon interactive) and Flywire (then VisuaLink) were friendly rivals; I instantly and always liked those guys. The last time I saw Drew was at my dad's wine store in downtown Portsmouth just a couple months ago, where as always, he had a warm smile and a hearty handshake for me.

The obituary is in today's paper. It does a beautiful job of capturing Drew's accomplishments and his spirit, so I'll just link it to it here.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Latest Client Press Release (blogified version): Hallenbeck Celebrates 15 Years in NH

Hallenbeck Celebrates 15 Years in NH ; Relocates HQ to Larger Space

MANCHESTER, NH — Look behind the best sales people in New Hampshire and chances are good there will be one man: Kevin Hallenbeck.

As a sales force development expert, Kevin Hallenbeck consults business owners and CEOs to organize and train their sales teams. As the owner of the New Hampshire office of Sander Training, he's celebrating his 15th anniversary and expanding to a new, larger headquarters in downtown Manchester.

Since 1994, Hallenbeck has consulted with scores of firms across the state, from small businesses to national and multinational corporations. He leads regular seminars every week for his clients in Manchester and Portsmouth. In addition, he runs free introductory “Executive Briefings” on timely and topical issues once a month in Manchester. (His next seminar, “Selling in a Challenging Economy,” is Nov. 17, 12-2PM. Lunch is provided!)

The company’s new location is at 55 South Commercial Street in Manchester, offering a more central location for his clients and a 30% larger footprint to support the continued growth of the business.

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About Kevin Hallenbeck

Kevin Hallenbeck is Principal of Sandler Training, a national consulting firm specializing in business development strategies, sales, and sales management training. In 2008, out of over 225 franchisees, he received the top company’s top honor, the David H. Sandler Award. He holds a B.S. from the University of Michigan and an M.S. in Engineering from Murray State University. Active in church, community, and professional organizations, including the Manchester and Concord Chambers of Commerce and the New Hampshire High Tech Council, he lives with his wife Diane and their five children in Bedford, NH.

Want to know more about him? Visit his LinkedIn profile.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Don't Forget to Vote! (Cheat sheets below!)

Ahhhh, local elections. Yes, all the stupid signs on the sides of the roads mean it's time once again for you to totally mean to cast your ballot, except that you're so busy with soccer practices and grocery shopping and you don't even know who these jokers are anyway, and what difference does it make anyway, so you don't vote.

Well, I can't help you with the groceries or ferrying the kids around, but if you're hung up on not knowing any of the names in today's Portsmouth city elections, you've come to the right place.

Of course, you want to do your research to find the candidates whose priorities and philosophies are most aligned with your own. The local papers did a good job interviewing the candidates (or at least getting them to fill out their questionnaires) so check them out.

Lots of articles and q&a with candidates from the Herald is here: Portsmouth Herald election coverage

A quick overview of the election from Foster's is here: Foster's election coverage

The city of Portsmouth web site has all the information you might need to know about your ward's voting locations here:

Even more fun is my pal Dan Freund's youtube-style video interviews with the candidates. Go here for those: Unfortunately not all the candidates are there, but most of them are. Good job Dan!

Haven't got time to do all that research? There are cheat sheets! Hooray for cheating! The Portsmouth Taxpayers Association does the best job of distributing sample ballots with their picks filled in. You can take it into the booth with you, if you're so inclined. Personally, I find the APT picks tend to be opposite of my inclinations, and oppose those whom the school supporters, for example, would pick. (Yes, that's code for Republican vs. Democrat, although these seats are officially non-affiliated.)

There are other cheat sheets, too, if you look for them. For example, in the local paper, I found that the police are endorsing incumbents Nancy Novelline Clayburgh, Laura Pantelakos, and Ken Smith, as well as newbies Ryan Baker and Bob Lister.

Or you could simply ask your friends, neighbors, and co-workers who they like. There's no shame in that. Heck, it's a small town, and some of your friends might actually know the candidates personally. They may have even had some good ol' fashioned dust-ups with one of them, like my pal Erik's well-taken issues with Councilor Smith.

If you trust the editors of the Portsmouth Herald implicitly, you can use their endorsements as your guide:

And if you'd like to simply crib off of me, here's my cheat sheet:

Bob Lister. Well qualified and well liked former school superintendent, he's my pick for mayor.

Jerry Hejtmanek. Lots of experience both civic and corporate, forward-thinking on issues like sustainability.

Laura Pantelakos. In the vein of Evelyn Sirrell and Eileen Foley, a longtime councilor, great for her institutional knowledge and old-school Portsmouth values.

Chris Dwyer. Incumbent doing a good job, leader for arts and affordable housing.

Eric Spear. Incumbent doing a good job, good ideas plus youthful energy.

Write-in: Former Mayor Steve Marchand. We sure could use his leadership again about now.

Write-in: Unofficial mayor of downtown, Dave Campbell, AKA "The Wine Guy" or to me, "Dad." He's too modest to run officially, but I think he'd do a great job.

Hint: As veteran of many of these elections, I'll tell you that while there are 9 seats on the city council, you do NOT have to vote for 9. Don't hem and haw over seats 7, 8, and 9 if you don't know any of the names remaining. Better is to vote for only those with whom you feel comfortable. Remember, if you only vote for say, 5, then you've distanced those 5 from the rest of the pack, giving them a better chance to be elected. (Indeed, since the top vote-getter for council becomes mayor, you've given them a better chance to be elected mayor, too, FWIW.)

As for the school board, here's a good overview of the candidates from the Herald. Another good crash-course on the school board is here, where each is asked if we should level-fund the schools again. Most years level-funding equals a cut, and I'm not willing to compromise our schools.

My cheat sheet for School Board then is:

Chellman, Ellis, Serlin, Stevens, and Kent LaPage for his longevity, experience, and I'll take him at his word when he said in the Herald: "I will not send a wasteful budget ever to the City Council. But I also will no longer send any program reduction to the children of Portsmouth and SAU 50."

Fire Commission has 2 candidates for 2 slots, so fill them in or not, it makes no difference.

Police Commission has 3 candidates for 2 slots. Here I'm voting for Jerry Howe and letting the chips fall where they may.

IMPORTANT! Polls close at 7PM so most of you have plenty of time to get there after work. And if you don't happen to be registered to vote yet in Portsmouth, you MAY do so at the polls. So no excuses, get out there and do your civic duty already!

Then, tonight you can watch as they tally and announce the winners. You can root for your picks just like in fantasy football!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

eCoast companies named finalists for MITX Awards

Always love to see NH-based companies competing successfully with Boston-based companies. Got my e-mail from MITX the other day announcing the finalists for their annual web awards, and as I scrolled down, right there with the likes of big-city heavyweights like Digitas, Sapient, Arnold, Mullen, and Molecular, I saw Portsmouth's own PixelMedia and Mad*Pow.

I hope all companies in the NH seacoast area realize the level of talent right that exists right here in their own backyard when they bid out for web development projects. But I know they don't. And that they think they need to go to the cities for the high-level professional jobs. This is why I blog about it. ;-)

Review all the finalists here:

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Happy Anniversaries!

Happy Anniversary to...

...My old pal Brigham Pendleton, who is celebrating his 10th year of operating Brigham Pendleton Design. Brigham and I go way back to Flywire days, back when it was still VisuaLink Technologies, where he was employee #2 and I was employee #3. Good to see he's learned a thing or two from me about the value of PR; his press release was picked up in a nice blurb in the Portsmouth Herald. The new site looks good, too, with a distinctly 2.0 look and feel to it.

...The crew at PixelMedia, who celebrated their 15th anniversary this week with a soiree at their new digs on Pease. Of course, 15 years is like 60 in Internet time, so this is no small feat. Congrats to TJ and Erik and the whole gang. I'm waiting or the looking-back video to hit YouTube so I can link it; it was historical and it was hysterical. Great to see Evan Karatzas and Tom Cochiarro there, too.

...My new friend Kevin Hallenbeck, who has been training the best sales people in New Hampshire now for 15 years. In fact, that's his web URL: Kevin will be celebrating his crystal anniversary by launching a marketing campaign (with help from yours truly) and by moving into a new, larger space in Manchester.

Of course, marking an anniversary is an excellent publicity hook for companies, especially those that tend to work behind the scenes and out of the spotlight. To celebrate an anniversary immediately generates buzz about your company, and it validates you as a legitimate player in your market because you've stood the test of time. Business newspapers and magazines are likely to give you a blurb marking the occasion, and sometimes you can parlay that interest into a feature story. Your 5th, 10th, 15th, or 20th anniversary is also a great time to throw a little party for your staff, clients, etc. Ideally, you hold it in your office space, like Pixel did, where you can casually show off your people and your work. Don't be afraid to get creative with it, either; my dad, AKA The Wine Guy at Ceres Street Wine, made up special t-shirts that celebrated his "10th Wineversary."

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Portsmouth Company Sold

Congrats to Portsmouth firm BeyondTrust on its successful sale to California-based Symark. This was reported by Jackie Noblett in Mass High Tech yesterday. The deal closed August 19th and as you can see from BeyondTrust's web site, the company has decided to adopt the BeyondTrust brand. This sale represents yet another feather in the caps of Eric Voskuil and John Moyer, who previously co-founded DesktopStandard (formerly AutoProf) and sold it to a little company called Microsoft in 2006. BeyondTrust was a spin-out company born out of that sale, and now it too has been sold -- a neat (and profitable) trick to be sure. Most importantly, according to correspondent Dave Choate in today's Portsmouth Herald, the Portsmouth location will retain its employees at its Brewery Lane location.
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Monday, August 31, 2009

Cocchiaro Sacked!

When he told me on Friday morning, you could have knocked me over with the proverbial feather. Aside from peeling his face off and announcing he was an evil space alien, it was the last thing I expected him to say. After 15 years at the Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce, Tom Cocchiaro was officially a local institution, so for him to be let go unceremoniously on a random Thursday in August was certainly a surprise to anyone who has worked with him. Even worse, it was a total surprise to him. If you read the account in the Portsmouth Herald, that is pretty clear.

What isn't clear is why. We just had a terrifically successful eCruise (that's Tom, topside) that Tom had planned and managed. The Chamber annual dinner held just a couple weeks ago was a big hit, too, from all reports. It could simply be a cost-cutting move for the Chamber, and we'll know that soon if his replacement is conspicuously young and affordable. Which is fine, I suppose, as long as you realize that his experience and institutional knowledge (he had worked under, what, 5 or 6 different directors?) can not be replaced.

What's also unclear is the effect this will have on the eCoast organization in general. Tom was essentially the point man for most of the eCoast programs, and the last time the Chamber sacked our main contact (Ginny Griffith), the eCoast was almost scuttled completely.

In the end, of course, this an opportunity for Tom. He's bright, creative, articulate, professional, and highly connected. I know I'll keep him in mind for projects and positions going forward, and so should you.

Monday, July 20, 2009

iCruise + uCruise = eCruise!

Last Thursday evening ~225 high-tech businesspeople, both local and from away, clambered aboard the MV Thomas Laighton for a 3-hour cruise. After a year's hiatus, this was the triumpant return of the eCruise, our yearly floating eBrew. Despite the fact that I was on the planning committee for this excursion (full disclosure), I am happy to report that the eCruise was a resounding success! Many beers and businesscards were exchanged with a backdrop of pretty views and refreshing ocean breezes--what better way to spend a nice summer's evening?

We departed a bit later than we expected (about 5:55PM) but we had to get our sea-legs under us right quick. In past years, we were content to stay in the harbor, hug the coastline, or even go up river, which disappointed the more adventurous eCruisers. But this year, our captain announced at the outset that the seas were calm, so we'd be heading straight out to the Isles of Shoals. We soon found "calm" to be a relative term, with eCruisers stumbling across all 3 decks, surfing from chairs to railings to poles for support as the steamer chugged out to sea at a steady clip, ignorant of the waves and the mostly landlubber crew.

Once we arrived our our destination, though, we lingered leisurely along the rocky crags of Appledore, Smuttynose, and Star Islands. I overheard many remarking that they had never actually been to the Isles and what a treat is was to finally see them up close. The return trip was steady-as-she-goes, with a pretty sunset lighting the way. (See more pictures on Flickr and Facebook.)

Thanks To: All of our sponsors, but especially Chris King (pictured) of SEEDA for being not only the major sponsor but also opening his tab for yours truly and several other grateful folks. This was SEEDA's party and we were all along for the ride.

Cool Factor: Off the Wall handed out multi-color-glowing name tags, which quickly became the most coveted tchotchke onboard. These trumped the early favorite Pokens, which were cool but made a late appearance.

Nice to Meet: The Off the Wall folks, Pam from BBJ/MHT, Rebecca from Global Technical Talent, and everyone else. What can I say, it was a good crew!

Surprise Hit: I don't eat fungus, but apparently the sausage-stuffed mushrooms (courtesy of Galley Hatch) were knocking everybody out.

RIP: The lens cap to Melanie's Canon Rebel XTi, knocked overboard and lost at sea.

Loved: The nifty tote bags, emblazoned with the eCruise logo and all the sponsors.

Raffle-osity: How does one guy win three (3!) major prizes, including the much-coveted Netbook? I call shenanigans! ;-)

$: Financially, the trip was solidly in the black for the Chamber, thereby ensuring the eCruise will return next summer.

After-Party: Scandalous!

Programming Note: There will be NO AUGUST EBREW. But if a few folks wanted to meet at the Coat for pint night, I'm always up for that.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Why is this guy camping out at BestBuy?

Today I visited BestBuy in Newington to purchase a DVD. As I walked in, I noticed a young man sitting in one of those folding camp chairs next to the front door. At first, I couldn't quite figure out what he was doing there. But as I shopped, it occurred to me that it looked like he was camping out, presumably for some kind of hot new electronic product. But clearly, one person does not a line make, and I couldn't fathom what new electronic item could make him want to camp out on the sidewalk with a 12-pack of Coca-Cola under his chair.

Happily, when I was leaving, another similarly curious shopper had stopped and asked him the very question burning in my brain: "What are you doing here?"

"I'm camped out for the the Palm Pre!"

Uh... Oh. Okayyyyyy....

I listened as he explained that the BestBuy would have just five (5) available tomorrow morning and he wanted to be sure he got one. The young man (he appeared early 20s) had done his research and determined the Pre might not be available at the local Sprint store, so this was his only shot.

As he went on, he sounded so knowledgeable it was almost scripted, and I wondered, "Could he be a plant?!" Because, hey, that's a pretty good guerrilla marketing tactic. Plant somebody outside a retailer the day before a product luanch, give him some talking points, and let him evangelize. It could create buzz about the product and a perception of product scarcity. It could offer an opportunity to promote a product's features and advantages to a targeted audience, and delivered it from a neutral and trustworthy source. Best case, the plant could even create a line! Worst case, somebody might just blog about it. ;-)

For the low-down on the Pre, here's a great 3 minute video blog posted just a couple hours ago from the incomparable David Pogue of the New York Times:

Hmmm... I guess the Pre could stand for Pretty cool. But is it the iPhone killer? I guess one guy thinks so!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

eCoast Wi-Fi Expansion - Front page news unbeknownst to me!

I was just alerted by a friend on Facebook that my face is on the front page of I was sure she was mistaken, but I clicked over to see and sure enough, there's me... Albeit a younger and pony-tailed version. So yes, our little wi-fi project is front-page news again!

At my meeting with the Chamber a couple weeks ago, I had heard we were getting close to installing another access point at Harbour Place. That's a great spot for it, as it will hit the Prescott Park, marina, and that end of Daniel Street.

The holy grail, however, would be in hitting the decks. I was at Ferry Landing a few weeks ago for dinner and while we waited, I pulled out my iPod Touch; although I was able to connect to a network (Linksys), there was sadly no Internet behind it. Deck coverage would be awesome -- just think of the bar bets you could settle instantly with access to or Wikipedia!

I am also hoping we can save a few dollars from our $10,000 grant money to put up a some signage. A couple street signs on the sidewalk -- say one in Market Square and one in Prescott Park -- would serve to to let pedestrian tourists know there's wi-fi in the air.

We should also get some coverage maps printed up for the Chamber kiosk. If you've got any clever marketing ideas to get the word out, please e-mail me or comment below. Thanks and enjoy the sun while it lasts!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

There once was a blog...

Once was a blog called The Campbell Scoop;
It was tended every week or two.
But the blogger got bored,
The poor blog was ignored,
Now everybody asks, What's the poop?!


Sorry I've been "away," but in my defense, there really hasn't been much to report on lately. But recently I met at the Chamber of Commerce with Doug Bates, Tom Cocchiaro, and eCoast veterans such as Arlon Chaffee and Josh Cyr. There was lively discussion about the past -- and more importantly, the future -- of the eCoast. There was some grousing about false starts and dropped balls, but when we recalled the various events and programs we instituted back in the day, we became animated and proud -- fond memories came flooding back of the TechCrawl, the TechWorld Expo, and numerous committees and their pet projects. Perhaps the fondest memories were of the eCruise, our yearly eBrew excursion aboard the Thomas Laighton, and the good news is, after a year hiatus, the eCruise is back! We've got a major sponsor: SEEDA. And we've got a date: July 16th! More sponsorship opportunities are available, so contact Tom at the Chamber at (603) 610-5520 or email him.

See you onboard!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Super Bowl Ad Review

OK, we've had week to digest the Super Bowl and its commercials. I'm (mostly) over the disappointment of the Arizona upset-that-wasn't, although the officiating was bad enough for me to conclude that if it was the Super Bowl and as many ticky-tacky, wrong, or completely made-up calls went against the Patriots as went against the Cardinals, I would have absolutely lost my mind and probably broken things of value in and around the home. Anyway, here are some random thoughts on the commercials that (over)paid those ref's salaries.
  • Once again and as always, the Budweiser ads were uniformly lame. Why they always score so highly is a mystery to me, not unlike the mystery of why people drink that swill in the first place.
  • Once again and as always, any ad that has a guy getting whacked in the balls scores big with everyone... Except me. I find it sophomoric, sexist, and sad. This lowest-common denominator stuff just doesn't work for me.
  • I thought it was interesting that the most gripping commercials were actually movie trailers: Star Trek, Transformers 2, Angels and Demons, and Land of the Lost all had our group riveted... Although we're dubious about LotL as a Will Farrell vehicle.
  • Denny's out-TacoBells its competition by giving away free Grand Slam breakfasts, which paid off huge with mega-positive PR. CNN reports that people were lovin' it, and it even scored in the Twitter Bowl. BTW, the whipped-creamy ad was funny, too.
  • I was struck by one ad that didn't run: The replaying of Apple's original classic 1984 Macintosh ad seemed a natural fit on this, its 25th anniversary. But alas, nothing doing.
My favorite commercial? By far, it was the 1-second Miller High Life commercial. The concept of not overpaying for a Super Bowl ad was timely as today's headlines, given the current state of the economy. The execution was perfect, with the likable delivery man character simply shouting out "High Life!" The effect was tangible, in that we were waiting for it, we thought we saw it, and we actually DVR'd back to make sure we saw it. This means we actively manipulated a DVR to watch a commercial rather than skip a commercial. Think about that for a second. And finally, it was beautifully leveraged with its own web site ( that tied into a loyalty rewards program Miller introduced last year. Nice work Miller! And given the math that nearly $3 million bought you a minute, they reached 1oo,000,000 viewers for $100,000. Nice return on investment, that.

Here it is, and don't blink!

I only go to once a year, and this is why: I find the rankings fascinating, if not a little depressing, given that I obviously disagree strongly with the preponderance of the population.

Note: You can watch all the ads here on Hulu, the NBC/FOX online video experiment that even before its own clever Baldwin-driven Super Bowl ad, was a huge hit, despite the early nay-saying prognostications.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

10th Anniversary eBrew this Thursday

Happy New Year! With every new year comes thoughts of times passed, and of times ahead. And you know how sometimes you look back over a period of time... Say, 10 years, and you think, "Wow, hard to believe it's been ten years... It's just flown by!" And other times, you think, "That was 10 years ago? Seems more like 20! And what was I thinking with that hair and those clothes?" Well, it's been 10 years since the very first eBrew, and for me, it definitely seems like it's been 10 years!

Yep, 10 years ago this month, I was sitting at a table at the Portsmouth Brewery with a handful of local tech-types having lunch. We got together because we all worked in Portsmouth in the high-tech arena, specifically the Internet, which at the time was still young and impressionable. We discussed the boundless opportunities and potential of Internet-based businesses we were starting. Then, we wondered aloud if anybody would notice us up here in this quaint little city in New Hampshire. Could we really hope to compete with Route 128, Austin, Seattle, and Silicon Valley? Or would this once-in-a-lifetime economic boom-time pass us by? We didn't want to move our start-ups and our families to where "the action was"; we loved it in Portsmouth and were determined to make it work here.

Based on my experience in marketing and public relations, I saw it as a classic PR problem. The NH Seacoast was (and still is) perceived as a great place to live, work, and play. Portsmouth is a well-established tourist town. But if we made people also aware of what was happening here on the high-tech front, then prospective clients and talented professionals would perceive us as a player in the Internet game... perhaps a mini Silicon Valley without the traffic? Or a Route 128 North without the taxes?

So there, over burgers and beers, we hatched a marketing plan to put us on the map. The Seacoast became the eCoast, a loose organization of tech-related businesses in the Greater Portsmouth area. Because together, we became part of something larger; not just a few tech start-ups in a small northern city, but a whole movement toward the ideal of working where you want to live, made possible by the go-anywhere Internet. And our monthly networking event, patterned after Boston's CyberBrew, became the eBrew.

Since then, we've survived booms and busts, recoveries and recessions. Companies have come and gone, but many more have stayed and thrived here in quaint ol' Portsmouth, NH. And nearly every month this past decade, there's been an eBrew where we could meet, have a drink, and talk about it. So come and join us at the 10th anniversary eBrew this Thursday evening at the Press Room. Let's celebrate what we've accomplished, and see what we can do here in the next 10 years!