John R. Kowalski Integrative Marketing Fusion

County Personnel, Please Consult Fire Professionals When Specifying Equipment

You Don’t Know How We Use It and What It Means to Our Safety

Attention County personnel,

We are grateful for your support of volunteer fire departments. As you know, volunteer departments make up 73-76% of all fire departments who operate primarily on donations. We are thankful for your support.

If, however, you are in the position to help fund departments in your county or region with equipment, I highly recommend consulting with your fire chiefs to help select appropriate equipment.

Recently with my department the County personnel took it upon themselves to write a specification for SCBAs (self-contained breathing apparatus – i.e., air packs and masks) and to put it out for bid. Issue one is that they specified the bare minimum equipment (NFPA 2019) not taking into the account of firefighter safety or ease of use. They received only one bid and went with it. I thought it was customary to gather three competitive quotes but maybe they work differently here in Tennessee. The word “kickbacks” seems to come to mind.

We recently had a training on the new equipment and unfortunately, in my opinion, they were a waste of county and taxpayer dollars. As an interior firefighter I will never touch one of these units on scene and more than likely even in training. They are sub-standard. They weigh approximately 10-15 lbs. more than what our department standardized on. This may not seem like much but when you’re wearing something on your back while working – crawling, climbing, etc. No quick connect for changing air tanks, the old-fashioned thread and screw design.

They also purchased turnout gear (pants, jacket, helmet, Nomex hood, boots, gloves) that again, in my opinion, is substandard and not the quality our department has standardized on for keeping us safe under terrible conditions. I have not received this gear yet, but I already know I will never wear this while fighting a fire. I may use the gloves as a backup pair and perhaps the boots for wildland fires where structure gear isn’t necessary, but in terms of the rest, it’ll go up in the supply closet and can be used for support personnel. That word “kickback” comes to mind again.

While I support the gesture from the County, it’s unfortunate that they didn’t as fire chiefs or professionals who really know equipment and needs for assistance.

The Choice is Yours

When something unexpected happens, knowing how to react is often tricky. Do you act, or do you wait and see what develops? In these situations, it’s important to remember that you always have a choice. The choice is yours. You can choose how to respond and react; by doing so, you’re taking control of the situation. Even when things seem out of your hands, remember you always have a choice.

You Always Have a Choice

We all face a choice in life, and it can make or possibly break us. That choice is the decision to give up or keep going. No matter what life throws your way, you always have the option to keep moving forward. You may be unable to control what happens, but you can always choose how to react. So don’t give up; keep going no matter what comes your way.

For me, choice means having control over my life. It means that on any given day, I can choose how to react to the situations I encounter, and by doing so, I’m in charge of my destiny. It’s a sense of power, responsibility, and autonomy, and it’s what helps me get through tough and challenging times.

Do you stay down, or do you get up?

A boxer gloats over his defeated opponent in the ring. Choice is yours.

The Choice is About Options

The choice is also about options. It allows me to select the path I want to take, enabling friends and me to explore different possibilities. No matter what life throws at me, I always have a choice. And that’s a comforting thought.

Choice Allows Control of Our Lives

Choice is important because it allows the rest of us to be in control of our own lives. It gives us the power to make decisions and the freedom to chart our course. It means being proactive instead of reactive, healthy, and, most importantly, taking command of the direction your life is headed.

You Always Have a Choice

For example, you can choose how to react, which gives you control over your life. Even when circumstances seem out of your hands, choice allows you to take back control. There may be things that happen in life that are beyond your control, for example, but choice ensures that they don’t have the final say.

Choice Empowers Us with Decision-Making Skills

We all face choices daily together, from big decisions to smaller ones. Our choices lead us down different paths and take us to other places. But choice isn’t just about the destination; choice empowers you with decision-making and skills.

When I realize I can choose my stress response, that’s an empowering feeling. It generally helps me live a more positive life and gives me a sense of ownership over where I end up. That’s why choice is important to me: it allows me to control my destiny.

A great excerpt from the Rush song, Freewill

“You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice

If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice

You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill

I will choose a path that’s clear, I will choose Freewill

Hear (and see) the full song from a live performance.”

~RIP Neil Peart, the Professor

Choice for a Happier Existence

To be happy, choice must play a part in my life. If I’m stuck making only one choice without deciding what to make, it can lead me down a dark path. I’ve seen choice work for other people, and that’s why choice is important to me.

It gives you the power to choose happiness, peace, or sadness.

When I think about choice, it reminds me that our choices determine our attitude and can affect our reactions. Those choices are evident in some cases: do I stay indoors or go outside? In other instances, the importance of choice isn’t as clear: do I react with anger or patience? When you have a choice in how you react, choice means being able to produce your outcome. It gives you the power to choose happiness or sadness.

Choose Your Response

When something unexpected happens, remember that you always have a choice. You can either sit there and let it ruin your day or rise above it and be the positive change you wish to see. When choice is involved, you’re more likely to succeed than if things happening were outside your control. Choice gives us the power to act on our behalf, and that’s why choice is important to me.

You always have a choice, so choose wisely.

The Choice is Yours

No matter what your circumstances, you always have a choice. Use it wisely and unlock the power within yourself. You’re capable of great things! You Always Have a Choice. Don’t forget that choice is yours – use it wisely and never give up on your dreams!

  • Choice gives you power
  • Choice empowers you
  • Choice ensures that your life is in your hands
  • Choice is important because it lets us make decisions for ourselves (not someone else)
  • Choice allows us to be proactive instead of reactive (which means taking control)
  • Choice helps you discover new possibilities for yourself (and create a future that would otherwise not exist)

People often say that they don’t have any choices in their lives. They claim they can do nothing, but having the option to move on is more than most people get. So don’t ever forget that choice is yours, and that choice is an integral part of life. You always have a choice.

See Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning.”

Man’s Search for Meaning is a 1946 book by Viktor Frankl chronicling his experiences as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps during World War II and describing his psychotherapeutic method, which involved identifying a first idea or purpose in life to feel optimistic about and then immersively imagining the consequences of that positive outcome.

The choice may be out of our hands sometimes, but you have daily options in deciding how you react to the world around you. Don’t let being put into a particularly uncomfortable situation force you into making a choice that doesn’t fit your principles or morals. You always have a choice at every moment and juncture of your life, friend, so don’t forget it!

Choice Means Choosing Response

No matter what happens, remember that choice is yours – use it wisely and live the life you want for your family and yourself! There is no point denying the truth to accept that choice has been taken away from some people as they enter their lives, but even then, there are always options.


The choice is yours. No matter what your circumstance, you always have a choice to make at every juncture of life. Don’t forget that choice is yours – use it wisely and create a future that would otherwise not exist! The choice is yours, meaning it may be out of our hands sometimes, but we still have choices in how to react to the world around us. Don’t let being put into a specific situation force you into making a choice that doesn’t fit your principles or morals. You always have a choice. Never forget – this is one of your most significant powers.

Marketing Strategy for B2B Marketers – The Basics

If you’re responsible for marketing a business-to-business (B2B) product or service, it’s likely that your marketing strategy is focused on generating leads. A strategic marketing plan will help you focus your energy by setting goals and objectives, identifying the target market, defining the customer experience, and building out an effective lead generation process.

This blog post will cover the basics of developing a strategic marketing plan to help you engage prospects with targeted messages that are delivered at just the right time.

Your Planning Process should include the following:

  • Understand your buyer personas – The first step is to understand who makes up your target market. Defining key characteristics of the people you want to reach, also known as buyer personas, allows you to create marketing messages that resonate with them and helps you identify where they spend time online so you can develop a presence there.
  • Get to know your customers better – The next step is to figure out what pain points they experience and where you can offer solutions. This will help determine how best to engage them with content that speaks to their needs and interests, as well as potential opportunities for cross-sell or upselling related products and services.
  • Define business goals and objectives – A good marketing strategy starts with understanding where your company wants to go. What are your business goals and objectives?
  • Research your target market – Once you know who you’re trying to reach, it’s important to do some research on them. This will help you understand their needs, what motivates them and where they spend time online.
  • Create customer experience maps – Now that you know what matters to your customers, you’ll need to create customer experience maps that show how they interact with your brand at each stage of the buying process.
  • Develop lead generation processes – The final piece is developing a lead generation process that aligns with your buyer personas and customer experience maps. This will help you identify the right content and channels to use to reach your target market.

Once you have a marketing strategy in place, it’s important to track progress and make changes as needed. Use these marketing planning tips to get started on creating an effective plan for your B2B business.

As you develop your strategic marketing plan, always remember to keep it simple. Don’t overthink things and spend too much time on creating a document that is 100 pages long. This could cause lack of engagement with the target market because they don’t have time or patience for such detailed information.

Now you’re thinking “how the heck am I going to get all this done?” It’s not easy but creating a solid foundation will help you stay on strategy as well as keep your marketing communications messages laser focused.

Keep things clear and to the point. This document can then be the foundation that your marketing efforts are built upon.

75 Pages and 20,000 Words from B2B Marketing Expert: A Look at the Year in Review

As I start to wind down the year (or at least try to), some thoughts are swirling. I’m still working on my book, “A Practical Guide for Integrative Marketing Fusion – Foundations, strategies & tactics for marketers, growth drivers & change agents” (working title). I’m currently 75 pages in and over 20,000 words with several sections to go. It’s been a fulfilling process for me with lots of reflection on my career, influencers, and drivers of my IMF marketing process. I know there’s a lot to do yet in terms of writing, then editing, design, artwork, etc., but I couldn’t be happier. As part of this I’m also including downloads of templates that I have developed and use today in my work. As I continue, I’ll keep sharing chunks of it here on my blog.

I want to mention what I believe to be the top marketing trends for B2B in 2022. Here are my thoughts:

  • Account Based Marketing (#ABM) will continue growing and become more sophisticated
  • The move to digital marketing will accelerate, with a focus on video content
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) will play an increasing role in marketing decisions
  • Marketing automation will become more ubiquitous and sophisticated
  • The customer experience (CX) will be even more important, with a focus on personalization
  • There will be increased pressure to demonstrate marketing’s impact on the bottom line
  • In addition to where I see things going, I also want to touch on some marketing missteps. I’m not trying to be negative, but rather learn from the past so that we don’t make the same mistakes.

Here are three of what I believe to be the biggest marketing failures this past year:

  • Failing to align marketing and sales
  • Not adequately targeting buyers early in the buying process
  • Misunderstanding how digital marketing is evolving and the impact of marketing technology

As always, I’m curious to hear your thoughts on what’s happening in B2B marketing. Please share with me on social media or email (john at babacita dot com). Thanks!

Marketing failures this past year include failing to align marketing and sales, not adequately targeting buyers early in the buying process, and misunderstanding how marketing is evolving.

I’m really looking forward to some time off at the end of the year for a chance to recharge and then come out of the gate with the marketing pedal on the floor.

As of now I have the following 2022 activities complete (could be a guide for you also)

  • Marketing strategy documents
  • Marketing program calendar with campaigns, dates, estimated costs, etc.
  • Marketing budgets set with some $ allocated for new programs that may pop up
  • Social calendar outlines
  • January campaigns and blog posts written and scheduled
  • Analytics mechanisms in place

Let me know if I can help guide you in any way and I want to wish you a warm season’s greetings.

During this holiday season, we want to express our thanks to each one of you, as well as share the magic of the season. The past year has been filled with many challenges and opportunities.

We are so very grateful to have the chance to celebrate the holiday season with our friends, family, and colleagues and wish you the same. May you find warmth in your home, hear sweet laughter, and receive special notes, calls and visits from loved ones.

Have a wonderful and peaceful holiday season!

The Importance of Account Based Marketing (#ABM)

The marketing industry is always evolving. The marketing world has seen the rise and fall of many marketing tactics over the years, but one marketing tactic that can’t be denied is account based marketing (#ABM). Account Based Marketing started with a focus on targeting accounts to gain new business. However, as ABM continues to evolve, it’s become more sophisticated than ever before. As marketers rely less on old-school sales methods like cold calls and start using tools like social media advertising to identify their target audience, they can pinpoint which people will benefit most from their products or services by listening in on conversations about relevant key words. With this knowledge at hand, marketers can craft messages that speak directly to these potential customers.

Thanks to the continued growth of account based marketing, businesses now have a better way to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Rather than targeting a wide audience with a one-size-fits-all message, ABM allows businesses to target specific accounts that are likely to be interested in what they have to offer. This level of personalization has never been easier, and marketing teams can now access tools that help them find the right accounts for their products.

There are 5 steps to keep in mind when initiating an account-based marketing strategy:

  1. Set ABM goals and identify your target accounts.
  2. Identify the right people within those target accounts.
  3. Listen in on conversations about your industry, products, or services to find new potential customers that you did not know existed before. Then create a plan for how you will reach them.
  4. Determine what type of ABM program you are most interested in implementing, whether it is account based lead generation, ABM Retainer or Account Based Sales Development.
  5. Implement your ABM strategy and let the results speak for themselves!

ABM has helped businesses gain new business by focusing on target accounts, and it can do the same for you. By following these simple steps, you can create an ABM strategy that will help your business stand out from the competition. So, what are you waiting for?

With the help of account-based marketing, businesses can focus on quality over quantity, and they’re able to see a real return on their investment. As more and more businesses adopt ABM as their primary marketing tactic, it’s clear that this approach is here to stay. Thanks for reading and get started on your ABM strategy today!

How Firefighting Tactics Can Extinguish Your Next PR Crisis

I ran across this great article by Mike Marinella comparing firefighting with PR crisis management.

His opening:

Every organization will have to put out a fire, whether it’s managing a leadership scandal or a global pandemic. Either way, when extinguishing a fire, you must train your crisis response team to think like those who do it daily—firefighters. They are crisis experts, and their best practices are tried and tested over a long period.

Firefighters experience crises of all kinds, and, as in PR, not every one is a full-blown crisis. From house fires to car accidents, firefighters control situations promptly, but not recklessly, and formulate effective responses.

Similarly, communicators can prepare for crisis and less-threatening issues. The firefighting tactics below can help your team quell even the most formidable media firestorm.

Definitely read his full article and let me know if you have any questions or I can help in any way.

Personal note, I’m a volunteer (and certified) firefighter and a marketing professional for 20+ years.

Staying Organized is the Key for Marketers

Details. Deadlines. Multi-disciplined teams. Clients. Suppliers. Multiple projects.

The life of any marketer.

On top of that, technology, social media, marketing tactics – our world is constantly changing. That means that us marketing professionals need to be always on top of our game. It’s not enough to just know the basics; marketing has evolved into a field where you must stay up to date with changes in technology, consumer behaviors, and marketing trends.

So how do you stay organized and on top of everything? I recently had a conversation with a colleague as they wanted to know my “system” of doing things. First off, if it’s in the computer (and phone), I don’t have to remember anything. Let technology work for you.

During our conversation a couple basic things came up

  • Organize your project folders and email folders in a similar way
  • A creative brief will help on any project, even a basic one
  • Prioritization – keep track of deadlines
  • Use a project management tool (like to keep everything in one place

My approach to projects

  • Gather information
  • Organize information into an outline format
  • Do you need other information from others? Reach out to them to get things in motion
  • Go back to your outline and start filling in the blanks with content, messaging, visuals, etc.

As a marketer of 20+ years, always be proactive. Get things started by taking the initiative. Come to your teammates or leadership with solutions and ideas.

The marketing world is constantly changing, and it can be hard to stay on top of everything. The more organized you are, the better chance you have at staying ahead in a fast-paced industry that’s always evolving.

As a recap:

  • Organize your project folders and email folders in a similar way so that when something needs to get done for one marketing initiative, there won’t be any confusion about where it goes or if its been completed yet.
  • Get creative briefs created for all marketing initiatives so you’re clear on what is needed and what needs to be done. This will help save valuable time which means less stress!
  • Hit your deadlines and keep track of all marketing deliverables. Use a project management tool (like to help with this.

I hope these tips are helpful and let me know if you have any questions on how I go about things.

Just a quick outline of some key elements


  • Nail down templates for everything that coordinate with the new website coming
  • Landing pages, letterhead, PowerPoint presentations, forms, etc. – that way you don’t need to think about that


  • Hard deadline vs soft deadline
  • What will you be waiting on from others? Get them going as soon as you can


  • Bullets instead of narrative – quick and to the point (like this outline)


  • Naming & file structure consistency (I use Year/Month/Day – Project Name, for example “211201 – Project Name”
  • (or something digital) as a project management tool
  • Apple Notes or a “quick” summary of projects/dates/status

Projects – Start with a Creative Brief

  • Who
  • What
  • Where
  • When
  • Why
  • How

Be proactive as opposed to reactive… get things done and show concepts, drafts and bring ideas.

Metrics… tie everything to something you can measure. Did it work and to what degree? Start looking at sales data overlayed with what marketing is doing and look for trends and correlations.

Public Relations Strategies for Success

Public Relations is a very important part of any marketing campaign. It’s the way you get your message out to the public, and it can be used for all sorts of purposes. In this section, we will cover how public relations strategies work and what they can do for you. We will also talk about some of the most common PR strategies that are used in modern day marketing campaigns.

Public relations strategies are used to spread information about products, services, or business in general. These public relations strategies can be very effective if they are carefully planned out and executed correctly. When creating a public relations strategy, you need to consider all the possible outcomes of your actions while considering who your target audience is. You also need to determine who will be responsible for putting the PR campaign into action, how it will be executed and what the overall goal of it is. Dedicating individuals as media contacts and for staff to direct all media requests to those individuals. By streamlining requests and activities it will ensure a consistent message that is part of the overall strategy.

The success of any PR campaign depends on determining exactly what these things are ahead of time. This ensures that everything goes smoothly during the execution phase which greatly increases the chances for success.

There are many different types of public relations strategies that can help you increase interest in your company. One of the most popular is the press release. Press releases are typically used to announce new products or new partnerships with other companies. Press releases are usually written in a way that grabs the reader’s attention and entices them to read it.

Here are some tips for writing a successful press release:

  • Include important information at the top of the release so readers can quickly understand what it’s about.
  • Add quotes from satisfied customers or experts in the field who have positive things to say about your product.
  • Put key facts and numbers in headlines or bullet points but leave out irrelevant or unverified information.
  • Write a release that grabs the reader’s attention and entices them to read it without making false promises.
  • Share your press release to as many online channels as possible to ensure the widest reach possible.

In addition to distributing and editorial pitching on news releases, there are many other aspects of public relations.

  • Media relations
  • Community relations
  • Corporate and social responsibility
  • Public affairs
  • Crisis management
  • Employee relations

The most important thing to remember is that anything you do in public relations should be done with the goal of building awareness, generating interest, and increasing sales. It’s not just about getting press coverage; it’s about paving the way for growth.

Many businesses also use social media as a platform for public relations strategies. When used correctly social media can have benefits such as brand awareness, increased visibility of your products, customer engagement etc… Here are some tips on how to successfully incorporate social media into your public relations strategy

  • Make sure every piece of content is consistent with your brand message, so people know who they’re engaging with and why.
  • Continually optimize and adjust all content based on performance metrics like shares and likes.
  • Monitor conversations about your brand on social media and engage with customers.
  • Strategically integrate social sharing buttons to allow people to easily share content.
  • Take advantage of using influencers in your industry so you can tap into their audience for greater visibility.

Marketing Strategies for the Future

The way marketers get information out is changing rapidly due to technology advancements, especially when it comes to marketing in media channels. These changes are creating new opportunities in markets that weren’t previously possible. According to a recent study by the World Federation of Advertisers, marketers will invest more in online advertising than TV advertising in 2017. This trend reflects how advancements in digital technology are allowing companies take the lead in fast paced marketing channels.

A lot of the new opportunities stem from the rise of programmatic technology. Programmatic advertising has allowed marketers to eliminate many of the middlemen in their companies and purchase ad space in real time at scale. This technology is already being used by prominent brands like Unilever, which spent over half a billion dollars on programmatic advertising in 2015.

Another recent trend that shows no signs of slowing down is the increase in content marketing. According to Content Marketing Institute, 85% of organizations are using some form of content marketing with 86% planning to use more this year. Additionally, consumers are spending an average of 3 hours per day consuming digital media. This means that there is a massive opportunity for companies to provide quality information through various outlets like blogs, social media, and online videos.

Lastly, the continuing growth of mobile technology means that marketers will continue to invest in mobile advertising. Mobile advertising is expected to reach $189 billion by 2020 with programmatic ads reaching $59 billion. This trend has allowed companies like Meta and Alphabet (to grow at an exponential rate due to their adherence of focusing on new product development.

Companies must adapt quickly to the changes occurring in the media landscape or risk becoming obsolete. However, it’s important not be overwhelmed when introduced to these new technologies as they can have a steep learning curve. This means being aware of what your company needs to do to stay competitive in your field. For example, if you’re not selling a product that most people purchase online then you should be focusing on marketing tactics that require less technological understanding.

As more companies are realizing the benefits of incorporating social media into their PR strategies, it’s important to stay on top of new marketing trends. It can be easy for marketers to get lost in all the new developments and forget how they should adapt quickly or risk becoming obsolete.

Staying in Your Own Lane, and Dealing with Those Who Don’t

One incident that happened this week I’d like to address is that I am leading a product launch from a marketing communications standpoint. The plan is outlined with all of the necessary marketing elements including due dates in accordance to the training of internal sales and distribution and the public launch. This is a launch, like a lot of products, are delayed due to component shortages and delays. No problem, we are methodically moving forward with what we can for now. At this point the public launch is in March 2022. Plenty of time.

Cartoon flame

So last week a member of senior leadership decided to circumvent my process by going directly to the web team for some Adword ads leading to a specific landing page for a download. Pretty standard stuff, but the process in which it was engaged was out of line. If this senior leadership person had a question, why would they not come directly to me, the leader of the launch? Instead, by engaging the web team directly and “lighting a fire” caused unnecessary stress, anxiety and a shift in their priorities. I immediately reached out to them and defused the situation by providing them the actual timeline for getting things done as well as they final content they would need to complete their tasks.

That was some background on the situation that prompted this post.

Stay in Your Lane, and Dealing with Others Who Don’t

Yellow road sign that reads "Stay in your lane"

Something I stress is the importance of staying in your lane. Boundaries are there for a reason and more than likely, if you swerve into someone else’s lane, you’re going wind up causing an accident or getting into one out of their own poor judgement. With my Integrative Marketing Fusion model and process, I always value input and engage empowerment throughout every member of the team. I set the stage and guide the work but always gather input from others. Not only do they feel valued for their expertise, but they are given a safe environment to voice their opinions and recommendations. This is extremely important, and when this process is circumvented it not only weakens the project, but it weakens the team and organization.

In this case, I had to step in and explain the process of process. A bit of a project “reset.” Processes are set for a reason.

The other takeaway is how to deal with others who don’t follow the process. I hate to call this out in public, but I have seen an uptick recently in senior-level people who are impatient and not willing to follow the process or show patience. Or perhaps they’re just bored or have read the latest article on XYZ and need to ‘get things done now.’ That’s just something that I have had to learn over time about dealing with people higher up on the org chart. I think of it as process engineering, where process engineering has to process process.

Process is important for getting work done efficiently with quality end results. So set or know the process and know your lane! That’s all for now… back to the Integrative Marketing Fusion lab… the next topic coming soon.