Are You Smart Enough For Marketing?

Marketing intelligenceMaybe you’re overly proud of your towering intellect.

Maybe you’re a little insecure about it.

Don’t be either, if you want to succeed in marketing.

My completely unscientific analysis, after 30 years on the job, shows that people who act like the smartest one in the room usually aren’t quite as bright as they think.  Continue reading

Dave Martin, Founder Of The Martin Agency

Dave Martin's portrait by Luis BrielAs a young copywriter, I was lucky to fall in with a good crowd: The Martin Agency, founded by Dave Martin in 1965. 

Dave passed away Tuesday. I didn’t know him well, other than he was a gentleman, a good father, humble and respected by all.

But I want to share some observations about how he set his small ad agency in Richmond, Virginia, on a course to become one of the world’s greats. (You know their work for Geico, Walmart, Discover Card, FreeCreditReport.com and the “What Can Brown Do For You Campaign” for UPS.)

I was hired as a rookie copywriter at The Martin Agency a few years after college, just before Christmas 1981. It felt like the big time, though the agency only had about 25 employees.  Continue reading

5 For The Weekend, Vol. 7

How To Create Advertising That Sells, by David Ogilvy

David Ogilvy can still teach us a thing or two

It was a strange week. I read a lot of very good blog posts, but not many of the type that fit the profile for this weekly collection. 

To be precise: They should be at least somewhat related to marketing. You should be able to appreciate them whether or not you’re a marketing pro. They should be inspiring and/or educational. 

In other words, they should be just right for the weekend.

So for this week’s 5,  in addition to a couple of current articles about modern marketing, I looked back in time for inspiration.  There’s wisdom from the late advertising great David Ogilvy, soul bearing from a grieving 16th-Century widow, and inspiration from one of my first bosses.

Now that really is looking back in time. Continue reading

5 For The Weekend, Vol. 6

The All-Inbound Blog "5 For The Weekend" is late this week. Sorry.

My Rolex-Submariner took a licking, then stopped ticking

Sorry to be so late.

Here’s your weekend, almost half over, and I’m just getting around to posting this week’s 5.

I come with lame excuses. First, my knock-off Rolex stopped. Then the nice folks at Arment-Dietrich’s Spin Sucks blog kept me tied up much of Friday. Thanks again to them, and their whole blog community.

Back to the matter at hand: This is unofficially Lady’s Weekend. Our first two links celebrate women pioneers in advertising. Not because they’re women, but because of what they accomplished.

And now, without further ado, the envelope please: Continue reading

Avis: A Vague New Slogan


Avis Tries Harder adI first heard that Avis had dumped its classic tag line when I read Mickey Lonchar’s perfectly titled post, Avis Quits Trying Harder.

Who didn’t love We Try Harder, and the case study that goes with it? The early ads said “We’re Number 2. We have to try harder.” In fact, they were only #2 in a technical sense. As of 1962, they had not made a profit in years. But Avis’ market share and profits shot up dramatically with that brilliant campaign.

Why did Avis abandon the iconic line in favor of the less compelling “It’s Your Space”?

Was it a mistake?

Here’s some pointed insight from a former Avis advertising and marketing specialist. I found Donna Cusano at LinkedIn’s Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Network Group. She has generously allowed me to quote her post liberally. (Thanks Donna!)  Continue reading

Why I love inbound marketing

Inbound marketing is kind of the opposite of Mad Men advertising

We were the Mad Men of the 80s and 90s. Kind of.

At a large ad agency where I worked in the early 90s, many of the copywriters and art directors would show up late each day. Then they’d spend an hour or so visiting, as if they hadn’t seen each other in months. Then they’d attend a “meeting” – to view directors’ reels with a production company sales rep bearing free pastries. Most attendees weren’t even working on TV projects.

After an hour of this vital work, many would go out for a Jamba Juice.

Continue reading

Inbound marketing: a primer

Darren would be even more confused today

He'd be even more confused today

I lost faith in the ability of traditional advertising to make a dent in most businesses years ago. The tipping point was probably when my boss strong-armed a client into producing a Super Bowl commercial. The client, an old beer brand, would have had better luck investing in the California Lotto. An entire year’s budget was blown in one fell swoop.

Traditional marketing used to work, no doubt. It was a decent enough trade-off at the time: You watch our awkward and often insulting and sometimes misleading messages, and we’ll subsidize your TV, radio and print content. New technologies — the remote control, 500 channel cable, DVDs, DVRs, MP3 players, caller ID, the Internet — all made these interruptions more unwanted, and more avoidable.

For the vast majority of businesses — mine, and probably yours — traditional interruption-based marketing just doesn’t work any more.

At some point, it became far more efficient simply to help the customer find you online, than for you to find the customer, interrupt him and seduce him. Continue reading

The Trust Deficit

Does your company or brand earn your customers’ trust every day?  If it doesn’t, you’ve got problems that transcend marketing and marketing messages.

Do you trust the Better Business Bureau? Watch the video before answering.

Trust issue #1: Performance

I had a client in the telecom business who told me that the problem with his customers (already a bad start, isn’t it?) was that they blamed him and his phone systems every time phone service went down due to the Internet service provider. Well now. If my system went down every week, I’d blame the guy who advised me to buy it, too. Continue reading

One way to respond when your competitors lie to your customers

How do you respond to misleading information spread by your competitors? This video provides one simple example.

I like how they’re not angry or obnoxious (as I’d be tempted to be). They use a low-key approach with disarming good nature to nail the message. Sure, the presentation could be better, and I wish they could have taken Paramount Equity Mortgage to task more directly. But I give the two young mortgage brokers a lot a credit for standing up for themselves.

[By the way, here’s my post on the misleading advertising they refer to from Paramount Equity Mortgage. Here’s more information from the Washington Dept. of Financial Institutions.]

Does one video posted to YouTube solve the problem of  competitors who mislead the public? Of course not. Some people will always weigh the pros and cons of playing dirty. They’ll figure out how much they can get away with and go just that far. As social media continues to empower consumers and small competitors, the unscrupulous will look for new and creative ways to cheat. So while I applaud the video, there has to be more.

Imagine if every honest company, small and large alike, policed their own industry like Brandon and Cliff tried to do on their own. Imagine if an entire confederation of honest companies cooperated in showing customers how to recognize and deal with questionable sales tactics. Eventually, I think that will be rule, rather than the exception – and it will be a lot harder for the bad guys to win by cheating. I sure hope so.

Maybe I’m wrong. (I don’t think so!) What about you – do you think companies should respond when they find competitors lying to their customers? If so, how?

Note: from the looks of things, Revolution Financial seems to have gone out of business. But I have a feeling Brandon and Cliff will do well in the long run if they keep using the same instincts that led them to post that video.

“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