Why RSS Feeds Are Still Awesome

The lowly RSS feed has been around a long time. More than 20 years to be exact.

Originally dubbed RDF Site Summary—the RDF stood for Resource Description Framework, it was introduced in March 1999. It evolved into RSS, which now stands for either Rich Site Summary or my preference, Really Simple Syndication.

It’s essentially a geeky way for websites to publish frequently updated information, such as blog entries, news headlines, or episodes of audio and video series like this very podcast you’re listening to. When publishers of content use RSS feeds, they allow anyone with an RSS reader to subscribe to their feed, so whenever they publish someone new it will automatically show up.

Forget the techno-speak and just think of it as the ability to create your own virtual newspaper or magazine. You can literally subscribe to as many of these feeds as you want to, depending on your appetite for content.

I blame Google for a big decline in the popularity of RSS, when they killed off their free Google Reader software in 2013. I guess they thought RSS wasn’t going to be around much longer, and wasn’t worth supporting.

Feedly RSS feed

Personally, I adopted another product called Feedly and I’ve been happy with it ever since. I use their paid version which is $5 a month which I find well worth it. There are a bunch of other alternatives, such as one that I also use sometimes called Panda.

I subscribe to many business publications and blogs. I benefit from keeping up with relevant news and articles related to marketing, as well as topics specific to some of the industries my marketing clients serve. Feedly makes it easy to quickly scan through dozens of feeds. I do this regularly to bookmark useful headlines to read later or share on social media.

I think most people in business can benefit from curating information pertinent to their role. RSS feeds are still a very effective way to do this, even if the technology seems a little dated.

Note: This post originally appeared on the Brand On! podcast.

In Praise of Analog

So much of our lives now are lived digitally.

We’re reading emails. We’re streaming videos. We’re consuming social media. We’re surfing Web pages. We’re talking to our stoic companion Alexa, asking what the weather is like outside and who won the game.

All that is great—the technology I mean. We have so much at our fingertips. It can be empowering.


But then you look up and remember there’s an actual world out here. There’s someone sitting across from you at the table, staring at her own device. You suddenly wish you were making more eye contact. That you weren’t worried about taking a selfie to preserve the moment.

There’s rain pattering on the window. You hear a clock ticking. You take in a breath and exhale. And again. Inhale. Exhale.

A sleeping dog sighs and shifts in place. A bird chirps.

You want to move. To get outside and feel the sun and hear the quiet murmuring of your heart beating.

You breathe in again and recall all the smells and tastes of summer from your youth—lotion on your skin, a charred hamburger, cotton candy, Coca-Cola, watermelon.

You feel the tug to pick up your phone and write these thoughts down. But you stop, and for a few moments disconnect and become conscious of yourself again, here, breathing, living in a world far vastly greater than the sum of zeroes and ones, not projected from screens but seen in all its natural vibrant glory.

Photo by LuAnn Hunt on Unsplash

Podcastaway Named One of the Top Books on Podcasting

Pod Castaway made it to the Best Podcasting Books of All Time List

BookAuthority Best Podcasting Books of All Time

I’m happy to announce that my book, “Pod Castaway: My Search for Podcasting Fame and Fortune,” made it to BookAuthority’s Best Podcasting Books of All Time.

BookAuthority collects and ranks the best books in the world, and it is a great honor to get this kind of recognition.

The book is available for purchase on Amazon.

Hey, Alexa, Can You Fix Do Not Disturb?

There is a bug in the Alexa app (IOS and Android) that has been broken for at least a month.

As you will see in this video, currently it is not possible to schedule Do Not Disturb for a given Alexa device.

  • Go to the Device settings option (bottom right) in the app
  • Select a device
  • Scroll down and select Do Not Disturb
  • Note that on this primary screen, only Do Not Disturb is displayed
  • There is no visible option to Schedule unless Do Not Disturb is toggled On
  • This may give users the mistaken impression that Do Not Disturb must be enabled for a Schedule to be set
  • What actually happens is that when Do Not Disturb is toggled On, the device immediately goes into Do Not Disturb and remains so until the user turns it off manually—Do Not Disturb overrides and prevents the Schedule feature from working properly

The only workaround I have found is to access the same Device settings using the browser version of Alexa.

  • Note in this video that the Schedule feature is clearly displayed along with the primary Do Not Disturb feature
  • You can set a “Do Not Disturb” schedule independently, without having to turn Do Not Disturb on

I’m sure thousands of users are frustrated and wondering why their devices are so quiet…when they accidentally turned on Do Not Disturb and expected it to activate according to a set schedule!

Focus On Your Best Output

best self

I love the New Year. It’s like a giant reset button every 365 days.

There were a lot of things I wanted to reset from last year. But I’m not dwelling on them.

What I am doing is refocusing on my Best in 2018. What Best means to me:

  • Using my Best talents on a daily basis
  • Making the Best use of my time
  • Find the Best way(s) of providing value
  • Spending time with the Best people (friends, family, clients, others) who support, inspire and nurture me
  • Working on being the Best husband, father, professional and friend

If I were to grade my own outputs from the past year…my biggest failures were the times I spent doing things that didn’t align with my greater purpose in life and what brings the most value to myself and others.

  • I avoided some challenges I really wanted to pursue, like doing more videos. (I let myself feel inadequate and anxious about what “other people” would think. Including people close to me.)
  • Meanwhile, I also wasted time on “interesting” vs. vital pursuits. I had to continually remind myself of this…which is increasingly difficult in our always-on, always-connected culture.

I’m excited about the fresh calendar ahead. What about you? How are you planning to be your Best self this year?

Photo credit: Steve Halama on Unsplash

Summer Special: My “One for One” Marketing Offer

Recently, I listened to an inspiring interview with Blake Mycoskie, who founded the iconic Tom’s shoe brand and also the concept known as One for One® sales.

As you may know, for every pair of Tom’s sold, they donate a pair to someone in need.

It got me thinking: As a marketing consultant, I want to be of greater value and service. I love helping clients succeed online, but I believe there is more to life than that.

So I decided to make an offer this summer.

For any new client who buys marketing services from Go For Launch (now through August 30, 2017), we will donate free digital marketing expertise to the charity of your choice.


It will work like this:

Services Level Purchased

$2,000-$3,000 worth of GFL consulting purchased
5 hours of charitable services donated ($750 value)

$3,001-$5,000 worth of GFL consulting purchased
10 hours of charitable services donated ($1,500 value)

$5,001-$10,000 of GFL consulting purchased
15 hours of charitable services donated ($2,250 value)

$10,001-$15,000 worth of GFL consulting purchased
24 hours of charitable services donated ($3,600 value)

Above $15,000 worth of GFL consulting purchased
Wow, I can’t think that far out at the moment but we’ll come up with something fantastic!

As I mentioned, I’m doing this because I want to give more value beyond my services. I hope this might resonate with you or a small business you know who wants to improve their digital marketing efforts and help change lives through worthy organizations at the same time.

There is no special “tax breaks” for us doing this, by the way. The IRS is very clear in not allowing deductions for services that are donated to charities.

Services Available

Based on your needs, we will put together a package that fits your company (pricing starts at $2,000). Our primary services include:

  • Content Marketing
  • Marketing Automation (lead generation funnels & software)
  • Design/Branding
  • Public Relations
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Online Advertising (PPC)

Additional details are available on request.

Specifying Your Charity

If you do not have a favorite charity*, you can choose from one of the following:

A Child’s Place
A Child’s Place works to remove barriers to learning that accompany child homelessness via individualized student plans within the school. They provide guidance, support, food, school supplies, and other necessities so the student is prepared to participate and achieve in class.

Guidestar listing >>
Learn more >>

Fashion & Compassion
Fashion & Compassion is a non-profit, jewelry and accessories brand seeking to fulfill our mission by connecting caring consumers with vulnerable artisans to bring dignity through economic empowerment.

Guidestar listing >>
Learn more >>

* Your selected charity must be listed on Guidestar.

If You Are Interested

If you would like to inquire about this, email me at brandon [at] goforlaunch [dot] io. I will contact you to schedule a time to chat about your needs.

Thanks so much for considering this and spreading the word to others!


Rule No. 1 in Branding: Face-to-Face Presentations Matter

branding presentationPart of the communications business I play in involves branding—the art of helping companies convey their essence to the world. It starts with a logo, an identity…but of course it extends to much more than that.

Good companies that become great companies owe much of their success to their brand–the collective presentation of who they are, what they are and how they make people feel—all of which becomes anchored to and triggered by brand symbology and “touch points” (what people see, hear and experience when they encounter you) over time.

To some, it’s flippant work. Fluff stuff. Just-pay-somebody-five-bucks-who-cares-we-can-always-change-it-later-stuff.

Those are not the people who “get it.” The ones who “get it” know branding is hard work, and important work. It’s not work that you rush. It’s not work that you do at a distance, by committee or with rubber stamps.

It’s definitely not work that you meddle in if you don’t grasp its significance to the core, or if you don’t understand principles of design or if, God forbid, you don’t possess the ability to discern good design from bad. (Admit you don’t know and leave it to the experts.)

It’s also not work that you do by getting someone to send you a link so you can “see what you think.” No. Some things are meant to be done in a more measured fashion. And no self-respecting branding expert—graphic designer, writer, account executive, web designer, etc.—will break this rule. It’s a cardinal rule.

Caveat: The only time this rule might be bent is between designers or account people who work together and who have developed trust in each other over time. They will sometimes review work in progress asynchronously between themselves—but never to the client.

Every person who has been fortunate enough to create iconic brands knows how the process works best. They will suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and tyrannical executives, but they will not “send the link.” They will postpone the universe and the machinations of commerce until they get their fair chance to present the work.

Best case, they will move heaven and earth to physically be in front of you when they present. Because they want and need to be there. They need to see your eyes and read your body language. They need to hear your reactions. They need you to shut up, turn off all devices and pay attention.

But more importantly, they need you to literally see, hear and understand them. They are presenting to you like a top defense lawyer who is there to convince a jury her client is not guilty and deserves to live. It’s the same thing. To the designer, brand champion and visionary–it’s a matter of life and death.

Worse case, because the world is big and we have lots of technology, the designer may agree to present through a Web conference. Reluctantly. Now and forever more, this is a necessary evil in the branding business. But it’s never as good as face-to-face.

Imagine if you can the first time someone was presenting the Nike logo. Fortunately, they didn’t have the Internet then, so some exec could just ask for “a link” to check out options. I don’t even know if the original designer presented options, or just the simple mark she created. But can you imagine the email exchange that might have ensued?

DESIGNER: OK, Bill and Phil. Here’s the link you requested. Let me know what you think.

PHIL: WTF is this? It looks like a check mark.

BILL: No. No! What else ya got? We’re paying you for this?? Go back to the drawing board.

Instead, the designer was given the chance to present her case, rightfully so, resulting in her ability to paint pictures, words and a story behind the swoosh that launched a thousand swooshes, and a thousand companies that all wish they were Nike and aren’t.

Or what about Starbucks? Can you imagine if that was designed over email?

DESIGNER: Here’s a link to view my recommended direction. I think you will love it.

HOWARD: WTF is this? We are selling COFFEE here. I have no idea what this is supposed to represent. What are all these squiggly lines? And why doesn’t this cartoonish woman have HANDS? AND WHERE ARE THE COFFEE BEANS OR ANYTHING COFFEE RELATED? We are paying you for this??

Instead, the designer was given the chance to present her case, which launched the brand you can’t escape, with the alluring logo and products you are addicted to, that other coffee shops only wish they had.


Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are great brands. Because great brands are works of art—not science projects and Survey Monkey polls…and most certainly they are not commodities.

If you hire a talented, passionate brand expert who “gets it,” you’re going to have to wait and follow a process. Be thankful and grateful for that process. Grab a Starbucks and relax. Just do it.

Create Vector Graphics Fast with Vectr


If you can’t afford Photoshop or just want something simpler to create vector graphics, try Vectr. It is a web-based design tool with downloadable apps for Mac, Windows, Linux and Chromebook.

After spending time playing with it, I like Vectr. Currently, it’s pretty low frills. However, the company has an interesting development road map, with coming features such as:

Versioning: All Vectr documents already have a near infinite history of changes. You can close Vectr, come back and re-open the app later, and hit Command+Z into infinity.

When Built-in Versioning is ready, you will be able to save multiple versions of your file on a timeline of your file’s history. This means multiple versions of a design, in the same file.

Marketplace: They will offer a design assets marketplace directly inside of Vectr. If you want to sell something you create, you can add it to the marketplace and set a price. Or if you want to buy something like a web template, you’ll be able to import design assets that others have shared.

Embedded Editor: This will allow you to embed the Vectr editor on your own website. That seems pretty slick in theory. For example, if you have a t-shirt, sticker design or something else that you want users to be able to customize, they will be able to do it without leaving your page.

Cost: Free

Does Your Business Still Need a Phone Number?

Recently, I had an “argument” (more like a pointed email exchange on LinkedIn) with an allegedly smart person who owns a “big data” software company. They were looking for a marketing director and I wanted to inquire on the position.

When I went to their website and looked for a phone number to call them, however, I noticed there was no number listed. So I tracked down the CEO and politely suggested he add it to their contact page.

His response was rude and frankly dumb. He insisted that in the “digital age,” phone numbers are irrelevant, and that if prospective customers need a phone number to reach them, then they aren’t the right prospects for them.

Are you kidding me?

I told him, you have a right to your opinion—and good luck. If I were a prospect, you already lost me by forcing me to fill out a form to reach you. By the way, if I had prequalified your company as a potential partner (which 70+% of B2B buyers do beforecontacting providers), then I went to call you and couldn’t find a number…your chances just went down the tubes. I had questions and was ready to talk to someone…but you were too aloof to give me the opportunity.

I also pointed out how one his largest competitors in the space had multiple phone numbers listed on their website. Put the sites side-by-side and guess which one looks like the amateur?

No wonder his company can’t find a marketing director. Who is going to want to work for someone so arrogant as to think they don’t need a business telephone number?

I understand we’re in the “digital age” and yes, some technologies are dated and unnecessary (Exhibit A: fax machines). But phone numbers aren’t dead and are still very much a critical communications tool for B2B sales and support.

Furthermore, phone numbers are easy and cheap to get—whether you’re using Google Voice, eVoice or another of the dozens of VoIP providers.

If you want to argue with me about it, call me: (704) 584-9656. Better yet, ask me how I can improve your company’s marketing efforts—starting with making your phone number more prominent.

How To Create and Sell Digital Products

Learn to monetize your knowledge online

I recently launched my mini-course, How to Create and Sell Digital Products.

launch a digital business ebookIt has some nifty stuff in it including:

  • Three training videos showing how I created and sold a digital product in less than one week
  • A comprehensive 76-page ebook, How To Launch a Digital Product Business
  • A 5-page checklist to use when launching your digital product
  • A Resources Cheat Sheet for recommended software and service providers
  • A detailed mindmap to help you brainstorm and plan new product launches