Tuesday, February 24, 2009

When You Fail

It will happen. Everyone fails. Everyone drops the ball.

Obviously recovering will depend on what exactly failed, whether it was an entire campaign, or just a particular part of one. It may not even be your fault, or even your company or your product's fault. That failure may even lead to something good....revolutionary, even.

Think of how many things in marketing, advertising and even product packaging have evolved over the past.

The saying goes, that for every warning label you see, some idiot did what it says not to do. I hope you're not that idiot, but maybe we should thank those idiots.

What are your favorite failures and/or recoveries in marketing or advertising?

Thanks for reading...

Monday, February 23, 2009

Self Marketing

Regardless of job status, age, gender, whatever classification you want to go by, one of the most important things about you is your image according to other people. Not yourself, other people. We all know how to do things and make things and whatever else that gives off the image that you want to project. Unfortunately there are very few jobs right now where what you want to show or to be is not what everyone else wants to see. Self Marketing, putting forth the best image of yourself for OTHER PEOPLE is one of the hardest skills to learn, yet you are expected to know how to do so before you know how to do anything else.

The difficult thing about Self Marketing is that almost everyone that can see your personal brand isn't looking for the same thing. Adapting yourself to conform to the widest set of opinions possible without compromising your own ideas and opinions is again, probably the hardest thing a person has to do. Most people have trouble thinking from the perspective of someone looking at them, rather than projecting out from themselves.

It's weird, because when you are young you're trained to care about your own image for the most part, and learning how to see yourself in the minds of others is pretty much shuffled to the backseat...and then you hit the real world, and are surprised to learn that you've been doing everything ass backwards your entire life.

Thanks for reading...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Consumer Reaction


I just saw the new commercial starring the Sham-Wow guy. The slap-chop.

I know the goal in advertising and marketing is to get a reaction from the customer and get them to remember your product. Sometimes it does seem like we remember the stupid commercials more than good ones, though. Commercials by their mere existance are annoying and interrupting what we tuned in for, but why is it that purposely annoying commercials get more of a reaction from consumers?

Although, if the commercial is so horrible that so many people remember how horrible it was and what product it was for...was it really a horrible commercial?

Thanks for reading...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

What Do You Want?

That's what it's all about.

What do you want? It's that simple. There's too much emphasis these days on the opposite. I don't need to be told what I want, I know what it is. More marketing firms or individual advertisers would be doing a lot better if they took even a moment and asked their customers what they wanted.

Thanks for reading...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Skill Of Luck

Do you think that every successful marketing or advertising campaign was the result of skill?

I don't. It's not possible.

Luck is a huge factor. HUGE. As an example, the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie...promotion went fine for months, and was relatively quiet...then they got lucky, and one town thought their blinking ads were bombs...and then EVERYONE knew about it.

Viral marketing...completely based on luck. Well, maybe not completely. Think about it. How stupid was Subservient Chicken? Completely. But by luck or by some other random factor, it caught on.

Got Milk? Lucky again. In the beginning it failed, miserably. But one endorser caught on, and they're still going today.

Luck is a huge factor in everything. Can you learn to be lucky? No. You can learn all kinds of things, but you cannot learn luck.

Think about your favorite commercial, or advertisement. Then take a moment and ask yourself if you honestly think that everybody that worked on it thought it was a good idea.

Thanks for reading...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Do The Opposite

An alternate title for this was "Do Your Worst", but it didn't really seem right to make it seem like I was going to deliberately tell you that sucking is a good idea.

Do the opposite, start from the end, reverse engineer...these all mean the same thing. These ideas are usually used in cases of failure, so you can see what it was in the chain that caused the failure. Its also a good way to figure out your competitors and how they do what they do. Have you ever seen something that's made you say "How'd they do that?" That is a case that you should take on in reverse, see what they did that got them to the end.

Another way to use reverse engineering is to start at the end of a project you haven't even started yet.

Wait, what? Start at the end, when I don't even have a beginning?

Yes. You already have an end...your client has told you what they want. Take what they want and work backwards. You know how things are supposed to turn out in the end...see how you can take the end and trace backwards to the beginning. It will help you gain a fresh perspective on everything.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I've Got Nothing

Sometimes it's okay to not have anything you can do. Sometimes you just need to recharge. As much as you want to try, you cannot go at top speed forever. Sometimes you need to slow down, sometimes you need to take it easy. Other than sleeping, sometimes you need time to do nothing, to have nothing.

Even the most creative, innovative, dynamic people have times when they've got nothing. It may be because they're stumped, it may be because they don't have a current project, or maybe they CHOSE to take the time to do nothing, to have nothing.

I'm not proposing something out of the ordinary here, and I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person to ever say "hey, maybe taking a little bit of time for yourself is a good idea." But as many people talk it up or mention it...very few of them actually practice it.

Thanks for reading...

Thursday, February 12, 2009


One of the hardest things to do in marketing is to remain objective. You cannot only have projects that are targeted to people who are the same as you. You will have to create campaigns or individual advertisements that you do not personally like. Chances are you aren't supposed to like them, because they aren't aimed towards you. You can and should be proud that you created it, but that doesn't mean the advertisement will work on you.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Pushing Your Marketing/Advertising Comfort

Don't be afraid to push yourself. If you've been offered two campaigns, one you know is easy and another that you know will take extra effort and give a greater reward, take the extra work. It will feel much better when you are done.

Getting out of your comfort zone is of course easier said than done, nobody likes to dance on the razor's edge all the time, but a little push never hurt anyone. If all you do is take on projects you know you can do, you will never get anywhere, and probably burn out much faster than someone who is constantly pushing to take on more projects and better their abilities.

If you find yourself as a big fish in a small pond, the step you will be taking will be different if you were the small fish in the big pond. Being the small fish makes it much easier to have to fight for advancement and for projects that are out of your general reach. If you prefer to be the big fish, so be it, have fun staying where you are at. The small fish will continue to take on projects and gain more experience and more knowledge will know that once they become the big fish, that it is time to find another pond.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Social Networking vs Business Networking

Over the past couple of days, the topic of Social Networking as a business, or being able to USE Social Networking as a business model from the user side, nor the owner side has been emerging. The question that is being raised is if Social Networking as it is set up right now can support or would welcome business integration beyond banner or clicker advertisements.

Social Networking as it stands right now cannot support business. People are too suspicious of spam or mass marketing and similar things to really get into adding a business side to a social network. What needs to be done is there needs to be a business network developed SPECIFICALLY for the business side of things. LinkedIn is part of the way there, because it allows people to communicate on a business level on things they have in common or want to have in common, whether that be a person or a particular characteristic of business.

However, adding a sales side to LinkedIn would be incredibly difficult as things are at the moment. I'm not sure that the internet community as a whole can truly support a social network built for business purposes other than networking. I don't even think it is because of security measures, because things can be done to combat most of the questions. I just don't think that the internet community, or the world at large even is ready to support a full on social business network.

Thanks for reading...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Don't Be Afraid Of The Unknown

Last time I wrote, I wrote about making sure to use what you know. Use what you have, you never know what may work until you try.

However, there is definitely something to be said for what you don't know. In this day and age, you cannot be afraid of learning new things, of going out on a limb and trying something different. You just have to make sure that the base you are stepping out from is strong enough to support you.

As much as we all love all of this new technology and all of these crazy new advancements that are coming along at an alarming pace these days, we cannot forget the past. We cannot forget where we came from, and what we learned while we were there. Use what you know, but don't be afraid to take a step or two out of your comfort zone.

Thanks for reading...

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Take Advantage Of What You Have

With so many advances coming so quickly these days, there is way too much emphasis on keeping up with EVERYTHING. The thing is, not everyone can do that. Not everyone will ever do that. Of course continuous education is very important, but you cannot forget what you learned before. You cannot forget where you came from.

You may not like where you were, but that's the foundation that where you are was built upon. Keep track of what you know, so you can take advantage of it. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, you cannot afford having more weaknesses than strengths, especially in the business world. You can't make it to the top of the mountain without climbing...just remember what got you up each successive steep face, because if you forget something, you just might fall.

Thanks for reading...

Friday, February 6, 2009

Can Marketing Really Be Taught In School?

Oddly enough, as a person with a bachelors degree in Marketing, I'd have to say I'm not sure.

There's only so much that can be taught. Obviously you've got to learn the basics, and when you learn the basics of a lot of different concepts, it helps you refine what you are actually interested in. But so many things that are needed to be successful in marketing, advertising and such cannot truly be taught. Imagination and creativity for one, would be hard to learn. Every person has a different view on what is creative and/or imaginative, its too subjective of an idea to really be taught. Unfortunately, you need both to really be good. You can take a class in ad design, or ad writing, or what have you, but that only shows you what to do, not how to do it. I'm honestly proud that I can say that I have a bachelors in Marketing, but it doesn't automatically get you somewhere like it used to. Not to say that its worthless, because in no way is it. You need to get the basics. But with how fast things are changing in our industry, are those basics from long ago still the same? Hell, are the basics from LAST YEAR still the same as you need today? I don't know.

The one thing that truly leads to education is experience. Its a shame that its so hard to get experience these days, unless you're working with very unconventional means. To get a job, you need experience. To get experience, you need a job. To get a job, you need experience. To get experience, you need a job. How are you supposed to break that?

Marketing and advertising is too important to a company to trust to some kid right out of college...which is harsh, because these days, more often than not its the kid just out of school that has a handle on what's going on, especially with all the new stuff coming around on the internet and such.

Experience cannot be taught, only gained and used. Maybe its time that all of us younger folks who are struggling to get a foot in the door somewhere to make our own doors...or start kicking out windows instead. Maybe the good way in isn't through the door, its over the back fence. I'll bring the bolt cutters if you bring the shovel.

Thanks for reading...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


So. I've been seeing movie previews for the upcoming reboot/remake of the Friday the 13th series. This kind of thing is becoming a lot more popular these days, it seems like original ideas are out the window again. Its another one of those cycles, I guess.

The interesting thing is, the industry will reboot just about anything, even movies that were amazing! The marketing/advertising industry rarely uses this kind of terminology..."we need to reboot the Coca Cola marketing campaign" Okay, that's a bad example, because they kinda did need to reboot when Coke II turned out to be a disaster. The advertising world has little patience for redoing anything.If something's been done, it's more than likely not going to be done again. The industry evolves on what seems to be a daily basis. Yeah, every so often someone will come along and borrow something that was successful in the past, but almost never for the same product.

To me, remaking or rebooting just shows a lack of ambition, creativity and originality. There has to be periods of time when one or more of those three things is lacking, but hopefully the other two can make up for it. Right now, it seems like the movie industry is lacking in all three concepts, which is steadily causing behind the scenes issues and other problems. I don't believe there has been a recent period in our marketing or advertising when a lack of one of the three concepts wasn't covered by an abundance of the other two. I can't recall a time where the industry as a whole was so ass backwards that it almost hurt to watch.

Sure, there have been badly done commercials, just as there have been badly done movies. An oopsie here and there doesn't define the whole era, an era is defined by everything that surrounds it within its industry. If the recession we are in continues, money will be tighter and tighter, and cheap easy ideas (remakes) will prevail because they take the least effort. I can only hope that what looms ahead in our economy will not destroy the industry that I love. I can only hope that it will be there on the other side. Many people believe that our industry is immune, but it isn't. Budgets shrink, and ideas are stretched thin...but they're still there, and they will continue to be there. They have to be. Not just for me, not just for you, but for everyone.

Thanks for reading...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Purple Cows and Outliers

Are all these authors and bloggers that write about being innovative, and the how and why of certain people becoming sucessful all writing about the same thing? Do they all have the same ideas, but explain them in different ways?

Yes. But that's not a bad thing, and let me tell you why.

Not all people learn the same way. Some people are visual, some are aural, and some learn by doing...I could go on. In the same vein, not all people respond to advertising or marketing the same way. That's why there are so many companies that need to find more than one way to say what they mean - to attract as many people as possible.

The obvious example of people coming at the same idea from two completely different directions are ones that I referenced in the title of this entry. Seth Godin's Purple Cows, and Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers. Seth uses the term purple cow to describe that one thing about an entity that makes it special. It can be almost anything, tangible or intangible. Malcolm uses the mathematical term outlier to put more of an analytic spin on the same idea, but by being a bit more specific. Seth relies on thought and creativity and using the mind to think for himself. Malcolm relies on mathematical calulation and statistical analysis from many different angles.

Yet, they're both coming to the same conclusion. What makes you stand out is not what makes you the same as everyone or everything else, it's what makes you different. That seems pretty obvious, but in reality finding what makes you different is very difficult, no matter which angle you come at it from. Why would you want to be the same as something else? Why not? If that something is successful, why not try to be as much like it as possible? That's now things work these days...find a similarity, use it, but exploit your differences, provided they're positive. If your differences aren't positive, find the similarity and fix it.

Seth Godin and Malcolm Gladwell set out to put to words the way that they do things. Did they intend to provide the same message in entirely different ways? Probably not, but as we all know, eventually, the quickest way between points is a straight line. There is no one way to accomplish something, but to be done correctly and successfully, there must be a legitimate base, and both gentlemen had the idea to write about their thoughts on what goes into making something unique. Both men have written on many topics, but intentional or not, they both wrote great explanations of the same topic, by coming at it from completely different directions.

Thanks for reading...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Importance Of Being First

In athletics and in other kinds of competitions, when something is first, it is generally declared "best". Gold Medal winners, Super Bowl Champions, World Series Champions, etc. They did what they do better than anyone else, came in first, and were declared best.

The business world is nothing like that. First does not automatically mean best. Honestly, it rarely means best. Being first can get you the notoriety, but it won't necessarily be because you are the best. In our world, first and best are mutually exclusive. In fact, since people have no attention span anymore, the best is constantly changing, and needs to be quantified any number of ways at any given time.

I'm not even sure that marketers or advertisers really care about being "first". R&D or Product Management obviously has a different idea, and in the mind of positions like that, first on the market (possibly even ONLY) can automatically determine "best". Marketing strategy rarely takes into account being "first" unless the person creating the strategy is instructed that they must do so. This is really more relevant in packaging design, in my opinion.

Why not publicize or be proud of being first. When I interned for the head of Corporate Sales for a Clear Channel concert venue, one of the things she was responsible for was coming up with new ideas for advertising space in or around the venue. When she/I/we/anyone came up with a new idea, we were proud of that idea, even if it was the most obvious thing in the world. Why aren't the first people to come up with a new way of marketing or advertising something blatantly proud of that? Why don't I know the name of the guy who perfected banner ads...or the guy at Google who perfected googleads...or something like that. If I wanted to, I could probably find the first person to do just about anything, and maybe even the person who is best at that same activity. Why not marketing or advertising?

Thanks for listening...