Where does a small business even start? (part 1)

So you haven’t paid attention to your marketing for a while and it’s starting to show in your bottom line. Time to ramp up?

Marketers must analyze themselves, their customers and competition

Ready for some self analysis?

Marketing isn’t something you can easily turn on and off. If you don’t make it part of your everyday routine, constantly thinking of how to better serve and interact with your customers, and constantly monitoring your competition, you put yourself at a huge, ongoing disadvantage.

Where do you start to catch up? Before you do anything else: analyze your situation. Do it yourself, or pay someone with an outside perspective – you’d be amazed at how liberating this can be. In any case, here are three things you need to truly understand: Continue reading

Netflix v. Amazon: The loser is…

The loser is… named at the end of the post

Would you believe that a story about Netflix v. Amazon is really a lesson for your much smaller business?

Netflix versus Amazon on your televisionYesterday Amazon greeted visitors with a wonderful announcement: Members of Amazon Prime ($79 for a year’s worth of free shipping) now get streaming video of 5,000 TV and film titles to your computer or TV at no extra charge.

That made my day because I’m a Prime subscriber. But it wasn’t about to make me end my $96 per year relationship with Netflix. Continue reading

“The Idea Writers” by Creativity editor Teressa Iezzi

The Idea Writers by Teressa Iezzi

Marketing in the digital era can confuse and frustrate the heck out of people – clients, agency managers, 20-something interactive whiz kids.

About two months ago a longtime ad-agency pal asked me, “What in the world has happened to our industry?”  I tried to answer. Teressa Iezzi, editor of Creativity, explains it a whole lot better in her book, The Idea Writers. Continue reading

Hayes Barnard, Paramount Equity Mortgage and advertising lies

Hayes Barnard and Paramount Equity fined about $400,000 for violations

This is not a photo of Hayes Barnard of Paramount Equity Mortgage, who was fined $400,000

You’ll notice I didn’t write “Hayes Barnard and Paramount Equity Lie.” No, I parsed the language (quite cleverly, if I say so myself). It leads you to believe something a bit different than what’s actually written.

It’s kind of like the radio commercials of Hayes Barnard and Paramount Equity Mortgage. Continue reading

Don’t make your customers look like twits in the name of “creativity”

Maybe your small business can’t run an ad campaign during the Super Bowl. But you can take lessons from a couple of big brands that did – and in doing so, offended the environmental community, all of Brazil, a huge chunk of the black community and anyone who is sympathetic to the Dali Lama. Continue reading

The Cluetrain Manifesto: still relevant

The Cluetrain Manifesto first appeared in 1999

Best ebook ever. Best free ebook ever. Click image to download.

The Cluetrain Manifesto first slapped me in the face in 2002. I ran across this quote again just yesterday. It still stings:

The question is whether, as a company, you can afford to have more than an advertising-jingle persona. Can you put yourself out there: say what you think in your own voice, present who you really are, show what your really care about? Do you have any genuine passion to share? Can you deal with such honesty? Such exposure? Human beings are often magnificent in this regard, while companies, frankly, tend to suck. For most large corporations, even considering these questions – and they’re being forced to do so by both Internet and intranet – is about as exciting as the offer of an experimental brain transplant.”

Christopher Locke, The Cluetrain Manifesto, December 2000

It still rings true, doesn’t it – especially so soon after watching and re-watching so many Super Bowl commercials. Replace the bit about “intranet” with “social media,” and you can see how timely Locke’s message still is today.

If you catch yourself thinking or writing in the conventions of traditional marketing, I highly recommend you read or re-read it. (Oh go on, it’s free!)

Did the Manifesto affect the way you looked at marketing?
Please comment at the end of this post.

The Manifesto had been picking up steam for a couple years…

Continue reading

The hardest-working Super Bowl commercial was…

There’s a brand that’s in trouble. It’s been making shoddy products for years. It was (and maybe still is) at the brink of failure. It needs not just a Hail Mary, but a succession of them.

Wieden + Kennedy may have answered at least one of those prayers with its work for Chrysler, the first-ever 2-minute Super Bowl commercial.

A Super Bowl commercial must work much like any other marketing communication. It has to speak to the right people, on a matter that’s relevant, in terms they understand, and be compelling. It has to address a need in the client’s sales process, or sales funnel.

Do you think another Super Bowl spot worked better than Chrysler’s?
Please comment at the end of this post. Or email me directly.

But the Super Bowl comes with extra burdens: It creates more pressure to make impact than any other venue in the world of advertising. Everyone’s watching. Even if they’re not watching the game, they’re watching online. They’re FB’ing, Tweeting and emailing. They’re even blogging. You mess up, you’ve done more than waste time, money and opportunity. You can embarrass your brand.

Continue reading

“The Al Jazeera Revolution”

An interesting column in at ForeignPolicy.com says this of the Egyptian uprising:

Can marketers learn from the Egyptian uprising?

Harder than ever to control the message

“It underscores the new reality facing Arab regimes: They no long control the message.” Competing messages gets out via satellite and digital technologies. The days command and control dwindle. (see: The Al Jazeera Revolution)

Comments welcome at the end of this post. Or email me directly.

If even ruthless dictators can’t control the message, how can you as a marketer control yours?   Continue reading