Karl Schmieder M.S./M.F.A.

My Billboard

Posted in 3x5, Advertising, Influences, Marketing, messagingLAB, Observations, Writing by Karl S. on February 14, 2018

It’s No Secret, Your Presentation Matters

Posted in Advertising, Influences, Marketing, messagingLAB, Observations by Karl S. on July 21, 2017
If you can't see the image, you're missing a picture of a guy blowing a very long horn. He's dressed in lederhosen and calf socks. His presentation matters.

Sunday Morning Alpenhorn Presentation by John via Flickr

How you present your business, your story, your offer is no secret. In many cases, it’s the presentation that matters.

The voice you use, the magazines your content appears in, the social channels you engage in. Your presentation is the articles, blog posts, and white papers you publish. It’s the videos on your web site and on YouTube.

A consistent message presented regularly builds and engages your audience, and can increase trust.

In my humble opinion, presentation is also about reminding your audience that you are present and that your product or service can solve a very real problem they are having.

A few weeks ago, I asked my readers to take part in a project to help a product I’m working on creating. They asked me a number of questions, I provided answers.


A. If you’re already blogging or sending emails, go back through your logs to figure out what your audience has been most engaged by. Look for patterns. They should be obvious. Create new content based on those patterns.

Maybe you don’t have a lot of content. In that case, survey your audience (like I did to create this post). Run surveys on social media targeted at your ideal audience. Pay for ads on Facebook. It’s the easiest, fastest, most inexpensive way to target very, very specific audiences.


A. Use social channels to promote your content. If you must, pay to promote your content on those channels, they allow for very specific targeting.


A. Run a reactivation campaign. Remind the ex-clients of the successes you had together. Describe your new products or services, and how they can solve new problems. Also, remember that you can never stop marketing to old (or new) clients.

Let me know if you have any questions.

You Need 1000 True Fans

Posted in Advertising, Influences, Marketing, What's Your Bio Strategy? by Karl S. on January 15, 2017

That’s the number of True Fans Wired founder Kevin Kelly suggested any creator needs to make a living.

“A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, videomaker, or author—in other words, anyone producing works of art—needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living.”

These True Fans,

“Will purchase anything and everything you produce” and guarantee you’ll have a livable income if you continue to produce great work.

It’s taken me years to realize how important this is.

I counsel my life sciences company clients that they need to do this. That they likely need fewer fans, depending on the cost of their product or service.

But until now I’ve done a poor job of it. My list has remained small so I’m working to expand it now.

1000 True Fans is all you need to build a business

Build Your List of True Fans. Now.

I know the 1000 True fans concept holds true. In the small audience I’ve built and cultivated, there is a smaller group that responds to every email. They are my few True Fans.

I consider them to be a very valuable asset.

Marketing guru Dan Kennedy argues that a company’s most valuable asset is its list. Not its intellectual property. Not its inventory. Not its office space. Not even the money in the bank.

A list of people that love doing business with you, he suggests, is more important than any of those.

If you’re launching a new product or starting a company creating that list is paramount.

One way to do that is to set up a blog, promote it and capture emails. It can be a video blog. It can be images on Instagram or Snapchat. As long you point readers or viewers back to your site where you’ll make them an offer in exchange for their email.

For that reason, I’m blogging more regularly. I’m focusing on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

I’m helping my readers understand how important their story is. Why they need to simplify their story. And, how they can become known by sharing ideas and telling personal, human stories.

Building a List of True Fans Requires Regular Work

I know that list building isn’t hard – I built a LinkedIn network to more than 22,000 members over the course of a few years. I’ll tell that story at another time but I will say, it took work. Regular daily work.

I believe that once you realize you need to build a list of 1,000 True Fans, you’ll start making the effort to do so.


If you can't see the image, here's the 3x5 cards I wrote the post on


Your Founder Is Crazy, Isn’t He? (Part 1)

Posted in 100 Days of Writing, 50-Word Epics, Advertising, Influences, NYC, Observations by Karl S. on August 27, 2015

Is your founder crazy? Insane? Bonkers? How can you tell?At the beginning of the week, the Founder swore he’d have me back on payroll by the end of the month. It’d been six weeks since any of us had been paid.

“What about the options?” I asked.

“I’ll take care of those by the end of the week,” he answered. It was the same answer I’d heard every month for a year – the length of time I’d been working there.

That whole week, my other co-workers were in a bad mood and nothing seemed to go right. It wasn’t one thing that had put us in a bad mood – it was a series of little things: The tone of voice the founder took when asking about a client, how he disappeared from the office for a week, how he wouldn’t return phone calls.

Yet I continued to hold out. We continued to hold out. Just a few months earlier, we had all believed in the company we were building. We believed in the founder and we would have followed him into any battle.

My hand, my right hand – my writing hand – was sore and bothering me. Every little thing pissed me off and I was yelling at my kids and my wife all the time.

The next day, the CFO called, “There’s something I need to tell you… I feel super shitty about this but every other week I have to release the funds.”

“What funds?”

“The funds to pay the president. The president is still getting paid.” The CFO told me he’d had a conversation with the Founder who admitted he had to continue to pay the President so he wouldn’t get distracted.

“Distracted from what?” I asked. “Isn’t a startup CEO, a startup president supposed to feel the same pain as his team?”

“You know the founder hasn’t taken a salary in years. He hadn’t paid his mortgage until the investors stepped in. They almost turned off his lights.”

I was sitting alone in the conference room. The President, the one guy who was getting paid in the company, was down the hall in a shared office. Presumably on the phone.

I felt my stomach rise into my mouth. I no longer felt comfortable there.

“I can’t talk about this any more,” I told the CFO. I hung up and left.

I almost vomited in the elevator down.

I took the subway home, tasting my sour stomach the whole way, praying I wouldn’t become one of those people that vomited and caused a medical emergency shutting down the entire Brooklyn-bound F-train line. I had a sense that drowning in alcohol might help but my stomach was so wrecked I knew it would only make things worse. No matter how much I imagined I’d drink I knew alcohol couldn’t drown away the anger and erase the disappointment.

When I got home, Alejandro was there to greet me. I mentioned that my hands and stomach were hurting because of the stress.

“How is that even possible?” he asked. Only an innocent fourteen-year could ask such a question.

I explained that stress can manifest in your body, that you can feel the fight that happened before you walked into a room. At that moment, the stress was manifest in my stomach and the part of my body I used to make my living. He looked at me like I was crazy and I realized that I was but didn’t have to be.

The next day I didn’t go back.


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Avoid Obsolete Technologies

Posted in 100 Days of Writing, 50-Word Epics, Advertising, Skateboarding by Karl S. on August 6, 2015


The 1979 Powell ad stuck to my 14-year-old self’s brain and still sticks the way a good song does.

There’s Ray “Bones” Rodriguez, big grin on his face, holding his signature model skateboard in front of a burning car.

“Is it functional or just another high-gloss, high-hype rip off…?

Provocative question, isn’t it?

“Now scrutinize a Powell precision product…

Scrutinize. Not “examine,” “inspect” or “study” Scrutinize – a twenty-dollar word. Precision, like a Swiss watch.

The difference you see are the differences between the future and the past…”

An obsolete technology is a memory.

Eight-track tapes. Cassettes. Vinyl records. Floppy disks. Mini-discs. CDs. The list of dead media is long, growing longer. Obsolete technologies to be avoided.