Author Archive

A few months back I attended a BMA-Milwaukee roundtable discussion of corporate and agency marketers. One of the discussion topics I thought was particularly interesting was about agency collaboration. The corporate marketers on the panel commented on hiring multiple firms for different things and expected them to work in conjunction for the best interests of the brands they serve. As one might expect, there were some concerns expressed by the agency leaders on the panel.

Although we see evidence to suggest that interest in specialized, tactical agencies is turning back to a preference for full-service capabilities, it stands to reason corporate marketers will still believe there is a need to divide tactical responsibilities or brand assignments among a team of agency partners. That is their prerogative, but let’s make no mistake … no agency owner likes to see money going to another firm and no agency completely trusts their competitor. What’s a corporate marketer to do? (more…)

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  • Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

  • Standing out?

    Personally, I think an image of a field of solar panels can be pretty impactful. I just think they look cool and then when you see acres of identical panels side by side, the scale of it all is impressive. Leafing through the July/August 2012 issue of enerG Alternative Sources Magazine I noticed pages and pages of solar panels (15 individual images in the first 22 pages). There were so many in fact, at a quick glance it became difficult to tell what’s an ad and what’s an article. (See scan of pages 10 and 11). (more…)

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  • Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

  • Where does our value come from?

    As a B2B marketing firm, we know the value we provide to our clients can come from any number of sources. Maybe they simply don’t have the time to do the work themselves. Sometimes they lack the tactical expertise in a particular area. In other cases the client truly values having our outside perspective infused into their marketing communications.

    This third area of value is our experience. This is where mutually beneficial and long-term client/agency relationships are formed. As the outside partner, it is our job to draw on our broad experience from various industries and initiatives, bringing additional insights, new ideas and techniques to our client’s internal marketing team. Our client’s job is to be transparent about their business objectives and strategies, provide any research they have and be open about input into their experience on what has or hasn’t worked for them in the past. These fully collaborative working relationships are what produce the best, most impactful and effective campaigns; the ones in which everyone on the combined team can be proud.

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    It’s been more than 40 years since Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) showed a chocolate bar broken up “into millions and millions of tiny pieces … whizzing over their heads” to the TV screen so Charlie could reach in and grab it. While we aren’t close to being able to reach into the screen and pull out the candy bar yet, it looks like the next best thing might be just about here.

    Twenty-seven percent of TV sets shipped worldwide in Q1 of 2012 had internet connectivity. With Web connectivity on its way to becoming standard on TVs, this opens the door to all sorts of wide-spread direct marketing opportunities and communications campaigns. Do product research by moving your TV’s cursor to “click for more information.” Watch DRTV commercials that allow for immediate purchase. The Home Shopping Network’s sales may explode with the removal of that last barrier of actually needing to talk to someone.

    Watch for “buy now” linkage currently seen on music streaming services, like Pandora, where you can click to link to iTunes to buy the song you just heard. Imagine clicking on any product you see and linking to Amazon or the networks’ online store to buy it. (Yes, I do want Don Draper’s suit and those awesome retro high-ball glasses.)

    In the future, do commercial breaks go away altogether in favor of heavy product placement? Does every TV network essentially become a home shopping store controlling the merchandising of the products they feature? Put a credit card swiper in my remote. It sure will be handy, but will TV be any fun to watch?

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  • Monday, June 25th, 2012

  • What is a customer worth to you?

    Often in marketing we talk about price per piece, cost per thousand, cost per lead, etc. A focus on the expense involved tends push our thinking toward all the things we can do to reduce costs. This can and does distract us from what should be the real discussion: what is a new customer worth?

    When we understand that, then marketing becomes seen as a true investment. I once heard about a professional services firm that sent crystal chess boards to the presidents and CEOs of prospective clients as a high impact lead generation piece. This tactic must have cost the firm $200-plus per package. Send this high-end direct mail piece to dozens of prospects a year and the costs really start to add up, right? Now consider that firm was after six- and seven-figure deals and it is easy to see that one new business win easily justifies even several years’ worth of using the same approach.

    Often in B2B marketing we support direct sales efforts for high-involvement, big ticket purchases. First determine what that new customer is worth to your organization and now decide what you are willing to do to make sure you get their attention.

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    William Lever is often quoted as saying, “I know half my advertising isn’t working, I just don’t know which half.” While I don’t know exactly when he made this statement, he established Lever Brothers (now part of Unilever) in 1886 and lived until 1925, so it was awhile ago.

    I prefer take the “half full” view of what Lord Lever said – he acknowledged half of his advertising was working! Even still his comment is not a ringing endorsement and reflects an age-old problem: marketers need to prove their worth to the CEO. (more…)

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    What do you get when you put cameras on two groups of highly creative and competitive people for a week? AMC’s The PitchIt’s over-dramatized to be sure, but I’m fascinated by the show. When we know who we are up against in a new business pitch, we check out them out and try to guess how they’re going to approach the task. Here’s our chance to watch two agencies a week run the gauntlet of a new business pitch.

    The fun part about the show is sitting back like a figure-skating judge and scoring the two full-service ad agencies as they move through their routines; developing their campaign recommendations. Who asks the client the best questions? Who brings more energy to their presentation?  Who offers unique thinking? Who proves they really understand the client’s needs? Who ultimately earns the business? Good TV … at least for ad people.

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  • Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

  • Hey man, great pitch

    We’re coming off a really great pitch for a brand campaign. Maybe I’m just caught up in the after-glow of it all, but it has me thinking about what exactly makes for a good pitch. It’s definitely about the satisfaction of working hard as a team to pull everything together – each doing their part to bulletproof the recommendations. We did the research to understand audience concerns and looked at competitor positioning/messaging, so we know our ideas will resonate and differentiate. And of course it’s a total rush presenting the ideas we’ve put our hearts and souls into, hoping our soon-to-be new client loves our work as much as we do. 

    The other necessary ingredient is a really solid and thorough brief from the client (which we definitely had). When our client is open and transparent about their strategic objectives, needs and desires, and shares what they know, our creative really sings. Everyone leaves the table knowing that we hit the mark and this is going to be a great partnership.

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  • Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

  • Social envy


    Our social media efforts might seem more like Anthony Michael Hall’s character in Sixteen Candles (1984), “The Geek,” than Porsche-driving “Jake Ryan.” The problem may not be how our social marketing is actually performing. Instead it might just not be living up to our own unrealistic expectations. Much like my unfulfilled high school desires to be the popular jock, have the sports car and everything else our hero, Jake, seemed to have, reality turned out to be quite different (pretty good, but quite different nonetheless). 

    For our social media marketing we all want thousands of “highly engaged” fans, all constantly commenting about their interest in our brands, as proof of their deep-seated devotion to them. The consistent two-way “conversation” with engaged followers is after all what is promised to us as the holy grail of the medium. We are concerned when no one actually comments on our latest Facebook or blog post. Why aren’t they engaging with our brand?

    As Simon Dumenco of Advertising Age points out, that just isn’t realistic:

    “As for the 99% of humans who aren’t engaging with media and brands? Maybe it’s time we accept that they might not be engaging through social media because they choose not to. And, hey, that’s also OK. Or to put it another way, maybe passively consuming content is just the way that most people choose to engage.” (February 27, 2012)

    So we shouldn’t be too concerned when we don’t get comments on what we say in social media, because most fans won’t no matter what we post. Instead we should be more concerned that we have a growing number of people just continuing to read what we post – even if the vast majority of them never truly engage with us in a social media discussion.

    Reality check: Michael Schoeffling, the actor that played Jake Ryan was not an 18 year-old high school senior when the movie was released, he was 24. Also, he was not 6’ tall as he was shot to look. He is actually 5’8”.

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  • Monday, February 6th, 2012

  • Super Bowl ads losing their impact?

    Another Super Bowl in the record books. Even though we didn’t really care about either team playing, my wife and I still felt compelled to at least have the game on. A loss for the NFL, but a win for the advertisers right? Well, maybe not.

    I can remember lots of years being really interested in seeing what the major brands were going to run. The Super Bowl is the one TV show I can think of where the advertising is not an unwelcome break in the action, but the ads had actually become a celebrated and necessary part of the experience. This year something weird happened … I noticed for me some of the excitement was gone. (more…)

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