Category Archives for "Uncategorized"

Automotive Ads: Another ride down that twisting, mountain road of tired clichés.

I don’t know what it is about automotive advertising. No other category is so rich in promise, yet so void of inspiring insight and unique execution.

There’s a nice Alpha Romeo ad that’s running right now. But it’s nothing new… just a sexy red Italian sports car doing its thing with a pretty good voice-over about

That’s easy.

Cadillac’s spot is commendable, for it’s social commentary. But the line ”

It’s a little harder producing a decent spot for a mundane automotive product, like a minivan.

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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; Clarity in branding, advertising and marketing communications in general. Doesn’t matter what form… 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.

It’s a war of clarity vs. confusion. Simplification vs. Complication. Cool persuasion vs. a lot of hot air. Straight talk vs. bullshit. And it starts with your internal communications.

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Sorting through the endless “marketing opportunities.”

The marketing landscape isn’t really a landscape anymore. It’s more like a fast moving landslide, snapping trees and engulfing unsuspecting business owners up to their ears in muck.

HATS1Most clients I know are trying to wear so many different hats, they can’t begin to sort out all the “marketing opportunities,” much less make sound strategic decisions regarding each one. Quite frankly, it’s silly to even try. This is one area where delegation and outsourcing are the only paths to sanity.

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1 “Brand” Trumps Managerial Incompetence.

I need to stop being surprised by managerial incompetence. Honestly. I need to reframe my expectations and just be pleasantly surprised when I encounter an exception to the rule. Because everywhere I turn, knumbskulls, nuckleheads and nitwits rule the managerial world.

Witness the retail store owner who has no handle on her inventory issues or labor costs.

The non-profit executive who has a revolving door of talent, going only one direction.

incompetenceThe managing partner of a professional agency who constantly over bills his clients.

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Information is killing your advertising.

Contrary to popular belief, information is is the enemy of persuasion. Not the friend.

Most people think they can convince, sell or persuade by piling on facts and stats. Well, it might make you feel smart, but it’s not going to produce results. In fact, the more info you stuff into an ad, the less you’ll get out of it.

Information is what web sites are for. You can cover all the nitty gritty details in the content of your site. That’s where you go deep. Don’t try doing that in your advertising.

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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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