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marketing clarity

The secret to success: Clarity. Clarity. Clarity.

Clarity is the key to many things… relationships, international relations, politics and parenting would all benefit from more clarity. But let’s stick to the subject at hand; Business Clarity. Specifically, clarity in branding, advertising marketing communications and management in general.

Doesn’t matter what form of communication we’re talking about — from a quick tweet or a simple email to an in-depth webinar or long-term TV campaign — you need to be clear about what you’re trying to say.

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1 Is the term “inspiring bank” an oxymoron?

It’s interesting, where people find inspiration. For some business owners, it’s the pages of Forbes or biographies of big-name entrepreneurs. For Monet, it was the garden. For me it’s the bookstore, the ski slopes, or the trails.

old-bankThe bank is definitely not on my list.

Banks are not known for their inspiring environments or groundbreaking business practices. In fact, the entire banking industry has a huge cloud hanging over its head, every since the mortgage banking debacle of 2009.

The most exciting thing to ever happen at my bank was the emancipation of the counter pens… They were released from their chains and replaced with crappy logo pens that are now free to take home with just a purchase of a $10,000 15-year Certificate of Deposit.

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4 How to hire the right marketing person, the first time.

I don’t work with Fortune 500 companies. My clients rely on small, efficient teams of people for all their marketing needs. If that’s your situation, or if you have a fledgling start-up, you better think carefully about the type of marketing person you hire to spearhead the effort.

The most common mistake is hiring a specialist… someone who’s deep into SEO, or social media, or web programming, or brand journalism, or graphic design. Whatever. Those “doers” are all important players in your marketing mix, but what you need is a thinker/doer. An idea guy who can wear many different hats.

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1 Bad puns, bribes and other branding blunders

Graham Robertson of Beloved Brands recently revealed some reasons why advertising is so damn hard. I won’t give them away, but I will share this:

Advertising is hard for the corporate brand manager who has big ad agencies, market research firms, and millions of dollars at his disposal.

It’s hard for the mid-level marketing manager who knows his consumer and his sales pitch, really, really well.

It’s even hard for the hottest advertising agencies.

So why do so many CFO’s, CEOs, scientists, sales guys, golf pros, engineers and accountants think it’s easy? Why do they take it upon themselves to write headlines, choose photos, and dictate the art direction of print ads, commercials and digital campaigns?

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2 Sports Marketing: Branding & The Olympic Rings

The Winter Olympics begin this week from the balmy town of town of Sochi, Russia. Not my idea of a glamorous winter setting, but no matter where they’re held, I love the Winter Games.

sochi-2014-logo-4I got hooked as a boy when Franz Klammer made his infamous, gold medal downhill run at the Innsbruck Games, and I’ve been watching ever since. I’ve even watched some of the curling over the years.

The summer games are fun too, but they don’t have the thrill-factor of the winter games. A diver doing a twisting three-and-a-half into a pool just isn’t as compelling as a guy on skis doing a triple flip with five twists.

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1 How to build brand credibility, one detail at a time.

The brands I work with are not like WalMart. They don’t spend a half a billion dollars a year flooding the airwaves with traditional advertising. They don’t have enough money to sway public opinion in their favor. And all of them face stiff competition from bigger businesses.

Last week I had to convince a retail client that he couldn’t change people’s minds regarding his biggest competitors; the big box stores.

“You can’t compete on price,” I said.

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3 How to sell more stuff online.

Awwwww, the traditions of autumn… Halloween candy, the first snow in the mountains, and holiday shopping. You’ve heard of Black Friday… the mayhem-loving bargain hunter’s favorite day of the year. And “Cyber Monday,” the online equivalent. They’re coming up quickly.

The Wall Street Journal predicts there will be ninety six million online shoppers. That’s almost one-third of America’s population Googling for bargains. And there are probably nine million shopping sites to choose from.

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4 Class A Offices. Class C Websites.

Moved into a swanky new office building last week. (Great views of Mt. Bachelor, Broken Top, Three Sisters and the Phoenix Inn parking lot.)

The Alexander Drake Building, Downtown Bend, OR As I was unpacking boxes, lifting heavy furniture and contemplating the feng shui, it occurred to me that professional service firms spend a lot of time and money on their office space. And rightly so.

How to do a great branding ad — Subaru scores with skier-focused print.

Winter Storm Slams Into Washington.
Travel Advisory For The Entire Mid Atlantic.
Historic Storm Hits Atlantic Coast.
Subaru of America loves headlines like that. Every time a big storm brings traffic to a standstill, the Subaru brand shines.

Subaru brand performs on snowy roads and in ads

The Subaru brand performs on snowy roads and in ads.

You seldom see an all-wheel-drive Outback wagon or a Forrester stuck in a snowbank. And you won’t see the company taking government bailout money.

While the big three automakers were buried in losses, Subaru was cruising right along.
Overall, U.S. sales were up 15% in 2009. In July, they posted a record sales month, up 34 percent from the previous year. In 2008, despite the lowest incentives in the industry, Subaru gained market share.

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