Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Are Christmas Cards Getting the Boot from Social Media?

Holiday cards are always a source of much angst for many of us. We like to keep in touch with friends and find out what's been going on all year, but the time it takes to get the cards written, addressed and in the!

It seems this year, many of us are opting out of the traditional holiday-card sending activities. It seems Facebook and MySpace along with other social sites/blogs have kind of negated the need to send cards. I mean, we already know what our far off friends and family are up to—daily. And many times the posts we generate are pretty personal and granular, so there's not much more we could even think to say in a card, other than, "Merry Christmas."

So it is my prediction that we will see a drop off gradually in this tradition of yearly mailing. It's kind of sad, but I guess it does have its "green" advantages, too. (Not to mention no more hand cramps--albeit, we will all have carpal tunnel from computer use!)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Procrastination, The Art of Thinking.

Creatives always seem to look like we are not doing much of anything. We walk around from office to office. We get up from our desks a lot. We wander over to windows. We email. We play with our toys. We bother Account Service people and play jokes on them. In short, we procrastinate.

Here is a great little video about that very art. Do take some time to watch it. It's wonderful.

Which made me think. Procrastination might be putting off something we need to do, but mostly for creatives, it's allowing your brain to take the time it needs to solve a problem in a new creative way.

So watch the video. And then get back to work.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Simple, Engaging Creative. Less is More

To all the marketers out there who get scared and nervous by whittling down a message to a single focus, I say, "Be brave." It works. And it engages. And if you try to pack 3 or 4 messages in an ad, the only message you'll send is that you can't make up your mind and you aren't worth paying attention to.

Strive for work that can be reduced to its simplest form. This McDonald's ad does just that in a clever way. Using their signature french fries to communicate that you can get not only the food you love, but Wi-Fi, too.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

New Study Shows CTRs are Down 50%. So Let's Do An Online Campaign, Now!

I have always maintained with my clients that click through rates (CTRs) on banners are not exactly the end-all, be-all of a banner campaign. Because instinctively, as a marketer, I know that people are still getting the message. Too many studies have been done to assert that fact, too. We take in a lot of information on a subconscious level as consumers.

And now a new study backs it up. You can read more, here.

But the gist is that people clicking your ad can't be the sole basis of how you judge your banner campaign's success. The bottom line is this: if you notice a shift in your sales or leads, you can thank your marketing. The reason to have any lead gen campaign is to get leads. And if you are, then don't shun your banners for low CTRs. I have this conversation about print ads, too.

I hear things like, "Well, we didn' t get any calls off our print ad campaign." But what they don't think about is that indeed the print undoubtedly generated support and awareness. So when someone saw a banner ad related to it perhaps then they clicked, or perhaps then they went to the website or picked up the phone. That's how marketing works.

So don't be so quick to judge on what you THINK you don't see.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Simple, clear creative. Another winner. FedEx.

This is our lucky day.

Stumbled upon another great, simple ad that says it all without saying anything. No copy for this jewel. None is needed.

ALWAYS look at your work and simplify where you can. FedEx could have put the line: From New York to Rio de Janiero
, but wouldn't that be like "see dog, say dog?" Yes, it would. Nice job. And kudos to the marketing director for NOT making the creative team "dumb" the ad down by adding unnecessary copy.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A simple ad that works--Guinness "Gets" It.

Here is an ad that is simple, timely, fun.

While beer is kinda beer, this ad doesn't try to claim anything different. Instead, it makes you like Guinness for its personality. You don't need to spend a lot of time with this ad, but you spend enough with it so you can "get it."

Many clients fear the "get it" time factor. But in an ad this simple, people actually enjoy the challenge of studying it for a moment for the sheer pleasure they get from "getting it." Which is why they call it a PAYOFF.

Never fear the simple ad with a fun, smart payoff. It makes the brand "sticky" and that's monumental.

Websites that work--based on emotions

Everyone makes decisions based on emotional responses. We know that. We might not always know we are doing it, but it's true. So why then do so many marketers make the mistake of creating websites that have no emotional connection whatsoever?

Forrester Research just came out with a study based on Emotional Experience Design. What many of us already instinctively know and try to get our clients to embrace. Check it out here.

Basically, my thoughts on this have always been to determine the EXPERIENCE you want your customer to have with your product/service, then infuse your site with that experience. Give them ways to feed their emotional and sensory needs. Not just boring, long "techs and specs." Yes, you do need the facts on your site, but surround it with an experience that completes the circle.

Make your site rich and interactive. Engage users. When you do, you'll have a site that serves you with success.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Are hard-working ads the right way to go?

I have spent all weekend concepting ad ideas for a client. And it occurs to me that there are two sides to the story here. There is one side from the person I am working with who says, hey, Laura, are these award-winning ads?

And the other side, which is me, business owner and creative, who says, Well, maybe not, but I think they will work really hard for the client.

Now, I like to win awards. Nothing feels like being awarded by your peers. And sometimes those ads actually work, too. But it isn't my motivation as much as it used to be.

Sure, I'd love to be able to have the time and money from clients to do the award-winning work that works. It doesn't always happen. Media isn't right. Client doesn't "get" the work. Strategy failed and so there is no way an awardable ad campaign will happen. We can't get to the big awardable ideas. The moon is not in Venus. Whatever.

Hmmm. Am I the only person with this dilema? Am I doing myself or my client a disservice by not demanding more time, more resources, better strategy? Should I push harder? Lose sleep? Work 80-hour weeks? What is the answer? When is good enough, good enough?

I think we OWE it to our clients to push. To push them. Push ourselves. Create work that works. And if it wins an award from some creative guru with a chip on his or her shoulder, then goody. If not, is there really anything that feels better than making the cash register ring for a client? NO WAY.

Am I therefore creating "ad pollution?" No. I don't do those kinds of ads. Ever. And neither should you. But you also can't always land on the big kahuna idea every time. So you know what? Do the best you can. Be proud of your work that works. Your clients sure as heck will.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

More Creative Brand -Building Business Cards

See the prior entry where I talk about how a simple little business card can truly impact your brand image. In a good way for this company.

Check out this creative card for an outdoor company--a survival company. Laser printed on beef jerky so it's safe to eat---up to 1 year in case you find you need it out there in the wilderness.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Build Brand Image with Creative Business Cards

Creativity and brand image go hand-in-hand. You can use truly creative solutions to beat the ho-hum competition even if you are a small, one-man shop, like this painter.

He had the guts and the smarts to let someone who knew what they were doing create a business card for him that makes him stand out. It leaves quite a good impression (brand image) and who wouldn't pick this guy over the dude with the boring business card that was printed at Kinko's?


Sunday, August 2, 2009

On Being TRULY creative. Are you a creative guru?

Are you a creative guru? Do you have one leading your creative team if you are an agency or a marketer? Find out. Read the recent blog post by Brand Strategy Insider.

Recently they had a post about Bill Bernbach and what made him a true creative genius.

Bill didn't go for the advertising du jour. He rose above it and pushed for ideas that stood out and made a relevant message even more so appealing. While in our business most CDs want to mimic what's hot or ask their creatives to bring them stuff that "would be seen in the books."

Here is an excerpt from the post:

People don’t want to be different. They want to be better. Clients want advertising à la mode. And most creative directors want the same thing. ...

That’s why it’s hard to recognize a great advertising idea. It doesn’t look right because it goes against accepted wisdom.

I remember a new business presentation we made to a large account a number of years ago. The company’s CEO dismissed us by saying: “Your ads have big pictures and this is the era of long copy.”

WHAT?!? This is time to fire the client.

And please let me never be THAT kind of creative director.

Marketers, I must ask the same of you. Push for being more. And when your agency brings you something new and different, be OPEN to it. Is it on strategy? If yes, then be OPEN. Trust your agency to lead you into great things and if you don't, then get an agency you DO trust.

It's the least we can do for our brands and for poor Bill Bernbach who would be rolling over in his grave if we didn't.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mad Men season opener August 16. Create YOUR avatar

Don't you love Mad Men? It is based in the old-days ad world, but it really is just a great series. So I was, of course, all over the tool that AMC has on their site that lets you create your Mad Men avatar. Here's mine. No, I don't smoke, but heck yes, I would have back then!

Have fun and create your own. Post it here, I want to see how many we can get.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Want to reach C-Level execs? Here they are.

A great tidbit today.

If you're a marketer looking to connect with the C-Suite, here's something you should know: According to Forbes Insight and Gartner Research,
"60% of C-level executives list the Web as the their most vital information resource. Daily newspapers rank a distant second with 15%, followed by trade publications at 9%, magazines at 6%, and TV at 5%."

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Experiential Marketing in the Toilet

Well, sometimes you really do need to use alt methods of gaining attention for your message and brand.

any marketers turn to experiential ideas, like people in costumes. Such is the case with Denver Water's "toilet dude". He shows up at events around the city to remind folks not to flush precious water needlessly down the drain.

Ok, all well and good. Until the fateful day last week when the freakish character went too far.

He showed up at a fountain where little kids were playing. And he scared the bejeezus out them. So much so that it really "pissed off" (pun intended) parents.

Think twice marketers and ask advice before you go not lightly into that sweet water fountain.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Inserts Get Attention in Cluttered Ad World

Yep, 5,000 messages a day aimed at your head and you duck. Constantly.

But inserts are a way to stand out. Not only do they pop open to the page where the insert is because of the heavier stock, they usually, if done right, provide interactivity with your target.

And any time you can get someone to interact with your brand, you are golden.

It's the difference in someone walking right past your store or someone walking in and trying on clothes. If you're a B2B marketer, it's like someone calling you asking for a demonstration. Plus, you can often repurpose the insert as a direct mail piece and a handout at shows, for instance.

They're costly, yes, but putting out a less expensive ad or postcard that doesn't get near as much attention or engagement, isn't really saving you money.

I love doing inserts and interactive direct mail pieces. I almost ALWAYS recommend it to clients.

And here is a recent example of a great, insightful, masterful insert from Publicis Dallas for Terminix.

Who wouldn't freak out at that?!? And that's the whole wonderful point. Makes you want to call Terminix ASAP.

Kudos to the creative team and the account service folks who sold this and to the very smart client for approving it!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A B2B fact for online marketing

90% of business professionals say online sources influence their purchases.

Follow Up On Green Marketing

A site I like and visit frequently is called Market Research Bulletin.

They just posted a great article that digs deeper into this issue of what does "green" mean in terms of product marketing.

They use word clouds from focus groups to help marketers understand what resonates with buyers and therefore what you as a marketer should talk about to get engagement. Check it out. Very interesting!

As a writer by trade, these word clouds are quite helpful in delivering insightful creative.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Admiring a microsite for its creative

A short blog here on a very engaging microsite that is also quite educational for anyone purchasing chicken. I loved the intro flash and the clean site with great organization and information. Kudos!

See it here.

Great microsites aren't easy to accomplish, but these guys did it.

Friday, June 26, 2009

A new condition from too much "green"

I was talking to a marketing friend the other day. She is focusing on "green" marketing, but in clean technology and sustainable energy. Anyway, we were discussing how all companies are on the "green" bandwagon it seems and yet most of them are just trying to make a buck off of it.

Ug. We are sick of it. Sick of all the fake green. Which led me to coin a new phrase--a new condition we are all suffering from: Green Fatigue Syndrome.

Do you have GFS? How can you tell when a company is truly bringing new, safe, eco-friendly products to the table and when they aren't? Do you just tune out all mentions of "green" now? How will it all shake out? Are you a marketer who really has a great green product or service but you aren't sure how to market it in the sess pool of marketing that's screaming the same thing?

Well, that's when you call on a marketing pro who knows how to make your product and message stand out. Make sure you ask probing questions before you give them your business and see what they've done to help other companies market green. Ask what their motivation for specializing in green is. You'd be surprised how many "pros" out there don't know the first thing about green marketing and yet have gotten on the bandwagon along with everyone else.

Because if you don't do your marketing the right way, consumers and clients (B2B has gone green, too) will lump you in with all the other fake greenies out there and Green Fatigue Syndrome will flare up and shut off the ability or desire to listen to you.

GFS. How will we recover from it? Will be interesting to see.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

People Ok being targeted by ads

The best banner ad ever?

A friend just posted a note about the agency he works for getting a Gold Lion at Cannes.

For a banner ad.


When he posted the link, I was in awe.

Yes, I am promoting an ad done by another agency.

They deserve it. It was and is genius. Do you agree?

Check it out here. And then let me know your thoughts.

Congrats to Bridge Worldwide in Cincinnati, OH!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Building a brand starts in the trash

I was walking today in my neighborhood. It was recycle day and most people had their receptacles out. As I walked, I started noticing what kind of bins were used, what was in them, and I realized this is a lot like branding.

You see, I started making decisions and opinions about people by their recycling waste. One person had tied all their magazines in string. I was impressed. Another had put their recycling in a PLASTIC garbage bag. I was not impressed. Still others had junk food boxes in them, and that created a snap judgment. Some had stuff that clearly was not recyclable. Puh-leaze!

Then I would look down their driveway, check out their cars, their yards, the entire package. And that's when I knew-- this is how people judge and create their image of a brand. Every little thing is looked at and a judgment is made.

So it is as a brand. Everything you do, every piece of communication, letterhead, brochure, webinar banner ad, everything, MUST convey the image you want your brand to have.

Times are tough right now and marketers are trying to save money. And in doing so might consider taking on some things in-house.

But do you really want to design that landing page yourself or write that direct mail letter? Are you trained and experienced in the true art of writing with a marketing bent? In professional design? Because I promise you that when you put out something that deviates from or degrades your existing brand, it is logged into the brain of all those who see it. And a judgment is made.

A customer might now think, "Oh, I really think that looks cheap. Maybe the company isn't doing good. Maybe their quality isn't as good."

Think I am being dramatic here? Go for a walk, and tell me you aren't looking at homes, yards, people, pets, whatever and making a little tick mark in your brain. As subtle as it might be, you do it. We all do. It is programmed into us. We learn to do that. It's not that I am some overly judgmental person or snob. I am pretty down to earth actually.

So be true to your brand. Let your agency or marketing firm do what they know how and are trained to do. And listen to them when they say, be consistent, be consistent in every tiny little thing. Because potential and existing customers are watching.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Biological fuel cells to power pacemakers

According to I Am Biotech:

University of Georgia researchers have developed biotech semiconductors that, according to a report in Chemical Science and covered by ScientistLive, is the first step in developing biological fuel cells that could power pacemakers, cochlear implants and prosthetic limbs.

Amazing. I do believe biotech is a field people should be watching! Hot, hot, hot. I am glad this is one of my areas of marketing experience and interest.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Rules for Journalistic Tweeting

According to an article by Mashable:

Top 20 Take Away Tips for Tweeting Journos

1) Think before you tweet -- you can't delete an indiscreet tweet! (Well, you can, but it will survive in Twitter search for three months and it's likely live on as cached copy somewhere.)
2) Think carefully about what you're re-tweeting and acknowledge if it's unsubstantiated.
3) Be an active twit: tweet daily if you want your followers to stick.
4) Determine your Twitter identity.
5) Be human; be honest; be open; be active.
6) Don't lock your account if you want to use Twitter for reporting purposes -- this fosters distrust.
7) Twitter is a community, not just a one-way conversation or broadcast channel -- actively engage.
8) Check if your employer has a social media policy.
9) Be cautious when tweeting about your employer/workplace/colleagues.
10) Be a judicious follower -- don't be stingy but avoid following everyone as your list grows to avoid tweet bombardment.
11) If you quote a tweet, attribute it.
12) Expect your competitors to steal your leads if you tweet about them.
13) Don't tweet while angry or drunk.
14) Avoid racist, sexist, bigoted and otherwise offensive tweets and never abuse a follower.
15) Scrutinize crowdsourced stories closely.
16) Find people to follow. Foster followers by pilfering the lists of other twits.
17) Twitter is a 'time vampire' (via @anne_brand) -- you don't need to keep track of all tweets, so dip in and out through the day.
18) Prevent information overload by using an application such as Tweetdeck.
19) Add applications to your Internet-enabled mobile device to allow live-tweeting on the road.
20) Add value to your tweets with links, Twitpic and other applications for audio and video.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Branding: Value vs long-term equity?

I just read a great article by Brand Strategy Insider. And in a nutshell it discusses the problem with the commoditizing/genericizing of brands to the denominator known as Value and Price. Here is a quote:

"In today’s landscape, it’s more important than ever to differentiate your brand—to give people a reason to believe and, subsequently, a reason to buy. But now that we’ve entered an era in which price- and value-related tactics comprise a large part of many marketing budgets, how can brands avoid messaging that feels or sounds generic? "

Huh-boy I could not agree more. It is a slippery slope to go the price route anyway. You can't compete there and you know it. There will always be someone to undercut you. And what if you have been in a leadership position? Do you throw it all away for a value message that communicates desperation and no longer leadership?

So there are a number of ways to "get around" this problem when trying to talk economically responsible language without killing your brand. Ways that seasoned marketers and agency pros already know and understand. Like the following:

You have to find your "Value Voice," as the Brand Strategy article puts it. And try not to specify price. Instead stay in that brand voice and tout the obvious reasons to believe that you can offer a value without losing quality. Or find a back door into the conversation. Like Hyundai did with their "if you lose your job, we'll take your car back." Which also removed the RISK. Another issue people have right now, regardless of price. This applies to B2B in big ways, too. See below:

What if you are a biotech company offering a new testing system? You have cred, but now need to get in the value game. Well how about touting that your equipment isn't just better, but for the price, you actually can test twice the amount of product you could with other tests. So see, you didn't lose any of your brand leadership. Be smart. Be creative. Be careful saying the words value and price.....Be careful with what is now trite: More for less.

Harrods has sales, but they NEVER lose their high-end appeal. They use celebs to tout the event. They keep it upper-crusty.

So yes, we all get it that marketers want to, need to, sometimes play the price/value card. But be careful when you do and be ever thoughtful as you execute that strategy. And never lose your brand equity or position in the process.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The new Paperless Business Card for Greenies

Yup, it's here. The paperless business card. And now you can join the greenies going paperless. A few ways to do it. One way is if you are on Twitter. Go to this link and subscribe with your info. The all you have to do is an @reply and add the hash tag #twtbizcard to your message. The person you send it to will get a prompt.

The other one I like is from DUB. And it sends your paperless card from your mobile phone directly into the recipient's mobile address book. And you can use nearly any type or brand of cell phone to do it. You can even connect with Linked In from this app and to send your card via SMS, simply text 'DUBME' and your recipient's email address or mobile number (ex. DUBME to 32075.

So forget exchanging cards at shows or other functions. Save trees, go paperless with your business card!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

CEOs top fears when it comes to Social Media

Check out this article on what CEOs most fear about social media.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


I found this fascinating quote today:

Let's take ten of the most popular new consumer technology products in recent years (with a couple of our portfolio companies in the mix): iPhone, Facebook, Wii, Hulu, FlipCam, Rock Band, Mafia Wars, Blogger, Pandora, and Twitter and let's try to describe in one sentence or less why they broke out (feel free to debate the reasons they broke out in the comments):A VC, Jun 2009

You should read the whole article.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Is Bing Better Than Google? Test It.

A Microsoft employee created a fun way to test the strength of search engines Google, Bing and Yahoo side by side. You type in your search terms, hit search and in 3 columns next to each other results appear. You pick the column that you think did a better job with your term and then it'll show you which engines were which.

I chose Google.

Here, you try it:

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

How a heart attack can "sell" butter. Consumer insight alert.

I was being a consumer the other day. Grocery shopping with my husband for a few things. I had put a certain butter that I use (goat butter) in my basket and was on my way out of the store when we passed one of those sampling setups.

A large, overweight man was at the table and he had little baguette slices with butter on them to sample. Being hungry, I nabbed one. He went into his "sell" on the fresh-made butter. No unnatural junk or preservatives, made with cream and salt...blah blah. And it was GOOD butter. But I had my goat butter and wasn't interested in the cow variety.

Well this man says, as I am walking away, "I can't eat the stuff anymore myself, just had a heart stent put in yesterday. 80% blockage in an artery."

Seriously, mister? You're trying to sell me full-fat BUTTER and you just admitted it is killing you.

He sees the horror on my face and follows up quickly with: "Not that the butter is what caused it. I have always had very low cholesterol. This was genetic."

So what do you think happened next? Did I, as a marketer, explain to him how he needed a new selling story?

Nope. I put my goat butter down and bought his butter.

After we got home, my husband, also a marketing guru, asked me what in the heck I was thinking. So I pondered the emotions and my actions.


Rational: It was good butter and it was all-natural

Emotional: I COULD NOT walk away from that man selling his butter and having no more sense than to tell us his arteries were blocked and he couldn't eat the stuff any more. It's hard enough to take a "free" thing for most people, which is why those sampling tables are used, but to take that freebie AND know this guy was honest to a fault and also sick, just did me in. I couldn't walk away without buying. I didn't really want the butter. But GUILT made me buy it. I felt sorry for this guy. He just said a really stupid thing and he was sick and I ate the sample and....on and on.

And THAT is great insight. It's psychology 101. Yet we, as marketing professionals, would never sell that to a client or to ourselves even. We refuse to want to see the truth in why people buy. And I am not saying every person would buy from guilt as I did, but a good many would. And they could never tell you that or foresee it. No focus group would get to that. No interviews. No fancy marketing models. Heck most people couldn't figure out their feelings like I did to get to the reason why.

Sometimes it's just that instinct, that feeling we get that KNOWS why people tick and what they'll do. Sometimes the best marketing process to use, is in your gut. And not in your head.

Anybody want the name of the butter, I'll be happy to send it to you. It was really good.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Are You Guilty of Treating a Vendor This Way?

I don't usually post things like what I am about to post, but I'm a sucker for parodies around the agency business. This particular one could be for any client/vendor situation, but it is pretty funny. And while we have all done this and/or had it done to us, it makes a good point. I'm as guilty as the next. But I'll be more mindful next time. Found this on YouTube.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Big Pharma Using Drug Giveaway to Boost Image

Just saw this article in Ad Age about how Pfizer is giving away certain drugs they manufacture to help those who have lost their jobs or insurance. The classic PR stunt, but with a do-gooder spin so popular today. (In the spirit of Hyundai cars allowing people to purchase and then bring back if they lose their job within a year. Only 2 cars brought back at this point, btw.)

I personally think it's all good. I do not care if either company is doing it out of their own selfish motivations for free PR and lots of business from all of us who think, "Ahh, that's a great company, I wanna buy from them." Which is how branding works.

To me, everyone wins here. And maybe that's what this country could use right now. A little win-win. Giving more. When you give, you get, right?

But I am curious what you think. So tell me. And take my new poll to the right of the blog.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

How to Use Viral Marketing On Twitter

The New Yorker writer who got the boot after a short stint in 2007, proved viral marketing on Twitter works. Possibly intentional, Dan Baum began tweeting about his experience at the New Yorker a week or so ago (May 2009) and quickly got into dirty details. Soon he had many followers and many opportunities to plug his new book. Great case study.

Biotech/Life Science Marketers: generate better response rates

So how do you, as a marketer, make your audience respond to an offer, to a new product or to an existing one?

Understand people's basic behaviors.

Science has shown us that people's behaviors are driven by an Antecedent (your company asks a target to try a new product) or a Consequence (you will lose money if you don't try this new product). Antecedents and Consequences can be either positive or negative, immediate or in the future, and certain or uncertain.
But the thing that really makes a difference is this: it doesn't matter whether you're using a Positive or a Negative to motivate someone, because people will always respond more to two things—Immediacy and Certainty.

Think about why people have a hard time losing weight, say. Because the food is immediate pleasure gratification. Yummy. And the slimmer body is simply a future possibility—an uncertain one at that. Same with smoking. Why quit when you get your nicotine high NOW and you won't die from it until LATER? And even then you could be like George Burns, and smoke until you're 100 with no ill effects. The benefit of 'now' trumps the far-off negatives of 'later'. The certainty of pleasure 'now' far outweighs the uncertainty of pain 'later'.

So think of making your offers and your marketing calls to action more with Immediate and Certain triggers for your target. (You will certainly be rewarded immediately for such smart marketing by your boss.)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Biotech CEOs Can Blog

I was just thinking about how much slower B2B companies seem to be in adopting the social media platforms like Twitter and blogs than your B2C companies are. And there really is no reason for it rationally. So maybe it's fear. Or doubt. Maybe they think they don't have enough time. But I think they have to make time. Social media is hyped, yes, I agree. But it also isn't going anywhere and it is a great way to do a lot of conversing with your target(s).

So I stumbled across this blog written by Forrester Research CEO George Colony. And he had a great article. It was about CEOs and blogging. Give it a read. No matter if you are the CEO of a biotech firm or a basketball net-making firm, my suggestion is to start dipping your toe into new media. A blog is a great place to start.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Biotech/Life Sciences Marketing and Online Banners

Do these 2 mix? Can a company selling to scientists and microbiologists get their attention with a banner ad? Will they click?

Well the answer is yes, AND.

Yes, they will, AND you have to understand the dynamics of why people interact with a banner in the first place. The fact you are trying to reach a scientist isn't the biggest issue. The fact you are trying to engage A PERSON is. Who are they? What keeps them up at night? Makes them tick? Emotionally involves him/her? If you don' t know this, then you have to go find out before you EVER start marketing to them. Emotion connects (yes even in B2B and with scientists) and you have to connect.

Remember, people pay attention based on their terms. Not yours. They don't care that you have lead and sales goals to make. It isn't about you.

So first make sure your media buy is aligned with your creative execution. Ask yourself, why is someone coming to this site? Are they here to get information? Make a purchase decision? To network, chat, connect (as is the case with chat rooms/discussion boards, and other social media) What is the site about? At that point, you can make your creative message match the audience's intent.

For example, if a scientist has gone to website that is primarily chock full of articles and research studies, a flashing banner about buying something is likely to be ignored. However, if your banner states a white paper, then you're more likely to get his/her attention.

The other thing to know is that recent studies have discovered that while the CTR (click through rate) might be lower than ever right now (industry average is 0.2%) you are definitely gaining awareness with banners.

People unconsciously notice brands in banner ads and tend to think of those brands/companies more often when buying. So don't be so quick to judge banner effectiveness by CTR. But DO keep in mind that perhaps banners aren't your lead gen wunderkind. Maybe banners are better left to awareness and brand building while you use trade shows and other marketing tools to garner leads.

But banner ads CAN drive clicks and results. Don't get me wrong. Just consider where you are running, why you are there and why your audience is there and then tailor the message/content of your ad. What about a rich media ad that features a quick video discussion about a white paper or relevant topic instead of just a static banner with a white paper as the offer? ENGAGE your audience.

Or consider contextual or keyword-served ads. So then you are only ending up on a page when it makes sense to be there.

You see banner ads CAN and DO work for reaching the life sciences audience, as long as you know where, why and how. As always, don't hang your marketing hat on any one media channel. The right mix makes all the difference as well as the right creative that reaches out and engages.

Friday, May 1, 2009

New Agency Model a Winner With Me

Creative Orchestra, out of the UK, has opened up shop to be maybe one of the first to be legally bound to delivering creative excellence. (Ok, so not sure how you can judge what makes the creative cut since it's subjective, but anyway....) Chris Arnold and Victoria Gallardo, both Creative Directors, started the shop.

They have officially been given the status of CIC (Community Interest Company), which means they are under legal obligation to cultivate creativity and deliver great work--instead of compromising to meet shareholder desire for bigger dividends.

The point that gets me juiced up is the very same reason I opened my business in the first place:

To quote from an article in Creativity about this new agency move: "As for the creative shop-for-hire model, Arnold says the age of the one-stop shop agency is over and clients are getting tired of seeing money get put into administrative costs instead of creative innovation. ....

Kudos and I will be watching them. Anybody out there got thoughts on this? Love to hear.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Link Love from Careerealism

Ok, so to get your blog or website on the search engine radar, you have to have what Careerealism calls Link Love going. You have to have other sites and blogs link to you. And Careerealism is helping. Cool.

More Fun With Bacon! has created even more fun on your computer with bacon. This one lets you create a propeller on your browser window using 2 bacon slices and you can spin them to cool effect.

The ReTweet Button Makes Tweeting Daily EASY

So I am surfing around the other day and saw a cool addition to my blog: The ReTweet button. Now, if you like a post, and you're on Twitter, (click this link to see my Twitter page) you can simply click the ReTweet button at the top of each post and it'll automatically do a ReTweet on your Twitter page for you. How cool is THAT? So give it a try.

If you think keeping up with Twitter is hard, now you can easily just ReTweet my posts every day and voila, you are Tweeting easily and effortlessly.

Ah, don't thank me, that's why I am here. To offer you big ideas.

Aren't on Twitter yet, join now.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Big Ideas

Are these following ideas big or a waste of money? You tell me what you think.


More BIG Ideas cont


More BIG Ideas

3. SQUARE WATERMELONS ('cause round ones take up too much space in the refrigerator)
Yes they grew these in that green plastic box to make 'em square.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Cool Music Video. Now That's Thinking.

I am a fan of ideas. Big thinking and creativity. It's what I base my point of difference on with my company. S0 I like it when I see it come to life, like this music video called We Got Time. All the "effects" are real and done in-camera. Now how cool is that? Somebody had to think about that one to make it happen.

Monday, April 27, 2009

You Can't Sell What You're Selling

This is the first in what I call my "Belief Rants" for marketers. Or at least those who I work with. Thanks for reading and rant back at me or with me by posting your comments.

Belief Rant #1
You can't "sell" what you're selling.

Companies that are trying to force feed their products or services down their audience’s throat aren’t going to be successful in the long run.

People don't want to be sold to. Do you?

People want to be entertained, engaged, informed, rewarded. And they really want to like the brands they do business with.

They will actually wear brands like a badge. They want to tell their friends, “Hey, look at me, I am cool or important or smart because I am like this brand.”

So don't SELL IT or TELL IT, figure out who you are as a company and build your brand persona around that. Then start conversations with your audience. It will pay off in the end. While the marketers who just continue to push their mantra of "Sell, sell, sell," will slowly fade away into oblivion.

CASE STUDY BLURB: Think about Coke as a brand persona. (Beyond the red and white colors and logo) People are proud to associate themselves with this brand. They wear Coke hats, shirts, buy stuffed polar bears. The Coke persona is a likable, hip, youthful, friendly one. I want to hang out with Coke. They don't sell to me, they offer themselves up as some"one" I want to associate myself with. And Coke has done a masterful job of remaining consistent, true to their brand persona. It's the Real Thing. Coke is It. To today's Open Happiness. So much so that when brain scans were done on people shown the Pepsi logo or the Coke logo, the scans revealed activity in the pleasure center when shown the Coke logo more so than Pepsi. Dannggg. Now that is something.
Don't you wanna be like Coke (in a manner of speaking?)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

CEOs DO use Twitter

Article on about the CEO of Communispace, Diane Hessan, and her foray into Twitter land. (Comminispace helps brands get insights into customers via online communities)
The 5 stages of her experience were:
  1. Loneliness
  2. Finding Some Killer Apps
  3. Learning
  4. Getting Organized
  5. Value
Bottomline is, she says she's sold on Twitter.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Us Weekly Sells Space on Facebook Page

In reference to the ROI article I blogged about recently, Us Weekly magazine has a Facebook page and they just sold ad space to State Farm, one of their magazine advertisers. Check it out from Ad Age Digital.

Fun with Bacon

So one of my clients sent me this very funny app. You simply add anyone's website address to it and then click to have fun.

As I said, my blog will have fun stuff from time to time because that's just me and it's also a great way to break your brain out of its rut and gain some new ways of thinking, which increases your CQ (That's Black House language for Creativity Quotient.)
(Then you add right after the http:// URL you want to have fun with.)

try it on my blog:

And how COOL is it that I have a client who enjoys silly fun stuff as much I do??
(Thanks LV!)

After the Click: The Landing Page Matters

We seem to spend more time worrying about getting online banner clicks than we do about what happens next. We spend time analyzing CTR (click through rates) and deciding if a .20 is enough or maybe it should be a .50 or above.

As a creative-driven operation, I have been focused there as well. I mean, if we get "low" clicks (again, what is that number and how do we determine 'good enough'?) then it must mean the creative sucks. Or it could be a stinky media buy. But I have also always been a big proponent of the landing page or site where our clicker ultimately ends up. To me, if we get banner clicks, by golly, we sure as heck better not lose those valuable eyeballs at the landing page.

A good landing page is consistent with the design and look of the banner or ad that drove someone there in the first place. Rule #1.

After that, it needs to be RELEVANT and FOCUSED. It needs to pay off the person who clicked.
The person who gave up some of their valuable time to follow us. That is the beginning of a relationship and trust is starting to be built. Don't repay that trust with....(see next thought).

So, let's say you clicked to get more info on a sock monkey that talks. But when you get to the landing page, you are overwhelmed with ALL our toys and you have to search to find Mr. Talking Monkey. Not good.

Cram-jammed with stuff does not make a good site or landing page.

Lastly, please don't ask someone to fill out a form with 10 fields in it. They'll dump. And never return.

You see, you have very few opportunities with potential customers. That guy or gal who dumped you on the long form? They're probably gone for good. You've lost your chance.

So paying attention to your landing pages or payoff sites as much as the creative that is driving people there in the first place, matters. Good design matters. Thoughtful copy that is to the point matters. Relevance matters. So if you get a .01 CTR, at least you will be making the most of it.

Here is a great quote to leave you with by Craig MacDonald at Covario: "
Bad landing pages are where good leads go to die."

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Social Media and ROI. Is there ROI?

I just read this article on social media and ROI. The writer tends to think if you're doing your social networking the "right" way, there is no ROI because it isn't "media" and you aren't "buying" anything or anybody.

I will comment later about my thoughts, but really want to hear your thoughts.

B2B and Social Media. Does it mix?

Of course, social media is the buzz. And I do a lot of B2B work (business to business) so clients are always asking if social media in B2B makes sense.

I think it definitely can work for B2B. It's very much more so the realm of B2C (business to consumer). But for B2B, like B2C, it's all in making sure you know what your goal is, who you're talking to and that you're ok being honest, transparent and possibly hearing negative feedback.

Ewwww, scary stuff that negative feedback. But c'mon, you think just because you don't see or hear it doesn't mean it isn't out there? These days its about accountability. Clients and customers rule brands. It's all on their watch. They pick a brand, you as a marketer don't sell it to them or force feed it down their throats.

So yes, B2B can use social media to its advantage as much as a company selling t-shirts or shoes.

Because social media is all about having a conversation, that means a two-way dialog, with your target prospects online instead of face-to-face. And most B2B marketers understand face-to-face selling with their products or services. It's how business gets done. Relationships, right? And social media is exactly that, except you aren't "selling" as much as you are engaging and discussing something other people are interested in talking about with you. Common interests connect. So why can't that work for B2B, too? It can.

B2B Online did a study that I thought was relevant here. The study found that 26% of people polled said that they used a social networking site as a marketing channel, with another 22% saying they plan to do so this year.

Social media can help you deepen your relationship with your clients and customers. You have wikis, podcasts, widgets, webinars, blogs, you name it. So use these tools! Again, use them correctly.
1. Know who you are talking to and make sure what you have to say matters to them
2. Do be honest and transparent. Or you will get busted by your audience. And you do NOT want the reputation of being dishonest.
3. Don't freak out when and if you get some "negative" feedback. LISTEN to it. Maybe it can help you. The whole point of social media and networking is to listen and talk. Two-way dialogue. You can actually create more loyalty when you have an issue and then fix it or address it through your social media channel.

It kind of all boils down to this for me, which has and always will be my mantra for B2B marketers: People want to do business with people. Not big, boring, stuffy soulless entities. And social media is a way for a businesses to become real people.

Welcome to Black House Creative

I started my company a little over a year ago. Marketing/Advertising is my gig. I love it. Always have been a writer with quite an imagination, so it all kinda worked out that I ended up in the creative world of business.

My whole way of thinking is this (and why I named my company with the word 'creative' attached to it): Great brands, great companies, all have one thing in common, they understand the importance of ideas and creativity.

Because that, my friends, can solve any problem you ever had, have or will have. That’s right. Smart thinking. Out-of-the-box thinking. Bold musings. The stuff that stands out and gets noticed. And when it comes to marketing communications for your brand. Getting noticed matters.

I bring ideas to the table and that's what makes a difference these days. Daniel Pink's popular book, A Whole New Mind, is all about this. You can't outsource big ideas/thinking. He says we used to be in the left-brain dominant Age of Information and now we are moving into the right-brain dominant Age of Creativity. A time when things like inventiveness and empathy will matter most.

Wow, this is what my business is all about. So finally, all of us right-brainers get our shot. Of course, you have to know how to use all those ideas and creativity in the right way and there's the rub. Too many in our industry don't.

Which is why I hope through my blog to start bringing some of that "how" to the table. I will bring insights and my thoughts on where this business is headed. Help some clients along the way and anyone else interested in keeping abreast. And I won't need any fancy, acronym-laden, proprietary process that seems mystical or magical or costs clients lots of dough either.

So, let's start talking marketing. And maybe some other fun, unrelated stuff along the way. Because fun is, above all, one of the best ways to get to great ideas!