Longshoremen and the loss of geographic advantage

October 6th, 2012 → 3:51 pm @


The rise of containerized shipping and intermodals has completely remade the shipping industry, and it serves as a model for the change in the entire economy.

The New York Times profiled the changes to jobs at New York area ports, in On the Waterfront, the Rise of the Machines. The old way of distributing work has “gone the way of the buffalo” one worker put it. Standard shipping containers led to automation and a complete remaking of ports, infrastructure and jobs. High cost ports find themselves subjected to a “port arbitrage” as shippers can choose to work with any number of modernized ports.

The entire economy is being remade in a similar way. All kinds of jobs and infrastructure are being remade and subjected to an economic arbitrage. It’s a threat to established patterns, but also an opportunity for new developments.

Just like there are fewer “old line” port jobs but new jobs in port construction and development of technology, old jobs in all parts of the country (and world) are being replaced by fewer jobs and more “make your own” opportunities.

[Intermodals photo by Becky McCray.]


Big boxes are getting smaller

September 30th, 2012 → 6:45 pm @

Cascade Supply Hardware

Big-box stores are getting smaller.

Because so many big box retail chains are cutting back on store sizes, Barry Shlachter writes in the Fort Worth Star Telegram that this is a national trend.

It’s also one of the Small Town Rules, where we know that bigger isn’t always better.

A few juicy quotes from the article:

“Small is a big idea nowadays. There is definitely a trend to a smaller footprint.”
–Sheri Bridges, a marketing professor at Wake Forest University and faculty director of its retail marketing center.

“Best Buy calls it ‘community-oriented retail.'”
I can hear the Small Town Rules ideas in that one! 

“Quite honestly, a lot of retailers have come back to the customer service days where the customer feels loved. If you can win on service, even if a product is online, people will come. They enjoy the entertainment factor of shopping in the store.”
–Charles Wetzel, CEO of the Fort Worth-based Buxton Group, which advises retailers on site selection.
That would Small Town Rule 4, where we all bring back customer service like small towns have maintained all along.

Read more from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Retail chains thinking outside the box.

[Photo of “The Biggest Store East of Skiyou” in Washington State by Becky McCray.]


Small Town Rules hits Talk Radio X

August 28th, 2012 → 7:04 pm @

James Lowe interviewed Becky for his Talk Radio X show. We talked about where the concept came from, the process of writing when we were based in different towns, and about connecting customer service to culture and place.


MSNBC features Small Town Rules

August 2nd, 2012 → 7:06 pm @

Author Barry Moltz took time to join J.J. Ramberg on MSNBC. They talk about a few of the rules, and how J.J. has seen the trend towards thinking and acting small in business.


Sorry Honda, We Screwed Up on Page 12

July 27th, 2012 → 9:39 pm @

Early in the book, Small Town Rules, we mistakenly say:

“Events that “stick” to a large corporation can threaten to bring down a company. There are well known examples of Johnson and Johnson’s Tylenol (product tampering), Perrier (product contamination) and Honda (brake failures).”

One loyal reader rightfully pointed out that the brake issue was at Toyota not Honda.

Our apologies to everyone at Honda.




July 4th, 2012 → 6:13 pm @

"A big company can choose to remember that it was once a small company."

Cartoon (CC) by Gaping Void

“A big company can choose to remember that it was once a small company.”

Artist and Marketer Hugh MacLeod gets the small town rules. He grew up in a small town, and has lived in towns and cities world wide.

He drew this Cube Grenade for Rackspace, as they experience massive growth. It’s a Social Object, intended to get people talking.

Small Town Rule #6 is Be Proud of Being Small. That can mean keeping the company small, or keeping small workgroups, or keeping the best of a small mindset. It can be choosing to remember that this company once was a small company, no matter how big it is today.


Rolling Rock: Born Small Town campaign

June 10th, 2012 → 1:07 am @

Rolling Rock says it was "born small town." cc @barrymoltz

Seen on the streets of Chicago: Rolling Rock is “Born Small Town.”

Stop by their website, and you’ll see that they are embracing the “small town character.” Rolling Rock clearly gets that consumers are ready to embrace small towns.

Is your brand ready for the shift in consumers?


Airline brands are thinking big city and small town

May 31st, 2012 → 9:33 pm @

Delta truck with a sign that says "Proud to call Atlanta home"Another brand is recognizing the “small town” shift in consumer feeling: Delta Airlines.

Delta’s ground operations at the Atlanta airport are sporting signs with “Atlanta’s Airline,” “Proud to call Atlanta home,” and “Atlanta’s hometown airline for 70 years.” It’s a Small Town Rule 7: Build You Local Connections play by the brand.

Consumers are increasingly ignoring generic, mass market messages. They want messages that are relevant, and localness is one factor in relevance to people. (Source: Marketing Profs: Brands to Focus on Localized Content Marketing.)

Interestingly, we as consumers have more respect for localness, even when it’s not local to us. For example, we have a positive impression of brands like L.L. Bean that retain their local qualities, even if we are not from their home in Freeport, Maine.

With these smart signs, Delta Airlines is working one of their local angles as a global brand.

"From a big city, we bring frequency; from a small town, we have reach."

Another brand thinking about the positives of “small town” is ExpressJet. They’re offering reach to small towns. Air travel is part of being able to live and work “anywhere, anywhen.” Most of the U.S. population now lives within two hours of a major airport. (I’m one exception, over 2.5 hours away from my nearest airport.)

Delta photo: (CC) by Becky McCray.

ExpressJet: screenshot. 


A Party to celebrate Small Town Rules

May 29th, 2012 → 2:10 am @

Small Town Rules
On Wednesday, May 30, 2pm Central, join us for a celebration of Small Town Rules.

We will have special guests, Chris Brogan, Liz Strauss, C.C. Chapman and Rieva Lesonsky as well give out 10 free copies of the book. Join us for an interactive event! You can call in to join us at (347) 426-3202, or you can join the chat on BlogTalk Radio: Small Town Rules Launch Event.

Thank you for all you’ve done help make Small Town Rules a success!


Here’s the recording, if you missed it.

Listen to internet radio with Barry J Moltz on Blog Talk Radio


Planning for zero or prepping for a flatline

April 25th, 2012 → 11:23 pm @

Carol Tice writes over at Entrepreneur that planning for the crash is something large organizations do well. Her background in risk management gives her a good perspective, though I’d argue that plenty of large organizations have missed this lesson, too.

Carol lists off seven key risks that companies should look at. Commentors have added a few from their own hard-won experiences.

Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, Built to Last and How the Mighty Fall, definitely believes this. Barry interviewed him recently, and he said:

“As soon as you can, I mean before you grow really big, your first priority should be to reach a point where you have enough cash that you could go a whole year without revenues if you had to because someday, you might have to.”

Plan for zero.