Tag Archives: marketing communications

reinvention is just so…hard

Ask any ad agency and you’ll find that creating their own website is so much harder than building ones for their clients. Sure, part of the equation is that a client website is a paying gig, but in the grand scheme of things, ideally the agency’s website will pay for itself in new business while getting to show off their programming  and design chops.

Recognizing that I haven’t touched my own website in over 3 years, I’ve started wandering through the many forests of themes looking for inspiration. Knowing that Apple no longer supports my easy-as-pie iWeb program that I used to build my current site, I’ve started looking around at all the options available.

Squarespace looks like a viable choice, but I’m already paying for web hosting. RapidWeaver is something I actually used before iWeb, so that can always be an alternative. And there’s WordPress (which I use for this blog) that has a bunch of options available, some free, some for a fee. But playing around with it this past weekend made me realize that being stuck in the land of spreadsheets and client hand-holding has left my design and programming skills feeling a little….rusty. I stare at things that should make sense and only come up with more questions. But by gawd, I’ll plow through and figure it out, right? (I should mention that my normal pattern is to NEVER ease into anything….which really causes a lot of unnecessary aches and pains when I apply this “jump head first, think about the consequences later” mentality.)

It’s with this recognition that while updating my website is a priority, so is taking the time to think about it and doing it right. I don’t want to regurgitate my current site and simply rebuild it in a new program. It’s time to reinvent the wheel of experience that I’ve built over the years. But with so much emphasis on usability, SEO, SEM, analytics, etc, it’s daunting to think that this website isn’t just words and images on the page. It’s something that needs to be thought out/through.

So thinking things through I shall, including what portfolio samples best represent me and my experience. Small steps will ensue until I take that giant leap to publish a new site. Stay tuned….

 

 

 

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The difference between building traffic, and building trust.

These days it seems companies are jumping on the Facebook and Twitter wagons like lemmings. And usually with the same disastrous outcome. (Can we really keep referring to such dated things as a wagon? Maybe it’s time to start calling it the band-hovercraft??)

Building community through online technology isn’t as simple as “hey, I think I’ll throw a party for my 500 closest friends.” Sometimes you have to step back and assess what it is you’re really trying to accomplish.

Are you trying to convert 500 strangers into friends of the brand? Can you really pull off something that will compel and entertain everyone equally? Maybe it would be wiser to start smaller. Perhaps a dinner party where you can try out your recipes successfully before booking that assembly hall or stadium.

Sure, every business wants to open its doors (brick & mortar, web, even social networking) and see throngs of customers clamoring to get in. But what kind of relationship are you trying to build? Do you want thousands who might come through the doors in the first week, most of whom only browse? Or would you rather have fewer clients that not only purchase, they come back for more? Sure, it’s not an either/or situation. But so often, businesses put so much effort into getting a relationship off the ground they forget that, to create loyalty, you have to put in just as much effort to cultivate your tribe. If you don’t, your loyal followers can quickly become strangers, or worse, enemies.

Technology can definitely help build an audience. But it can’t always build trust. Take, for example, the buzz created by “Jenny” who posted her resignation online using a dry erase board. People were so amazed by her chutzpah and technique that mentions (and tweets) were flying all over the web. In a matter of days, this story was everywhere. What most of us caught up the frenzy didn’t realize initially — it was all a publicity stunt. Imagine if a company launched a new product with as much buzz and fanfare, only to have consumers realize it was all a hoax? Is that the kind of exploitation of technology you think works for your brand?

Sure, it’s easy to become intoxicated by a sudden onslaught of traffic. But when you rely on a stunt rather than a well-thought out plan (social or otherwise), where will you be when the masses pull a mass exodus because they no longer trust you or your products? Go this route and you’ll spend more time doing damage control than more productive things like, oh, cultivating brand evangelists.

Unfortunately, some businesses think they need to do something so buzz-worthy to generate interest that they don’t realize the best results are nurtured over time. It’s important to remember that you’re not just putting your brand into the hands of your consumers, you’re also building trust. And sometimes, technology like Facebook and Twitter might not be the best way to do it.

What it takes is a thorough assessment of communication goals, and then determining the best course of action to take. You have to first know whom you’re trying to reach, and then figuring out the best way to get your message out to the right audience using the right outlet. Even if that outlet is Facebook. Or a dry erase board.

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we interrupt our normally scheduled program….

OK, so it’s election day in parts of the country. And, even though this blog is intended to talk about my life in and around advertising, I cannot help but chime in on some of the goings on.

There is a slight connection to advertising, now that I think about it. Especially after reading how one of the GOP contenders in my former home state has spent $71 MILLION!!!!!! of her own money to run TV ads for the primary.

I’ll say it. It makes me sick! Especially when I read things like A) our Supreme Court thinks big money has every right to give as much as they want to support their candidates (and to hell for those who don’t have the resources to fight back or the little guy/gal who doesn’t come from old money or have rich friends), and B) state parks across the country are closing because there simply isn’t enough money left in the till.

Is no one else bothered by the fact that companies spend billions lining the pockets of politicians on both sides of the aisle — combined with all the money spent invading another country (or countries) — when our own precious natural resources here in our own country are being padlocked and closed simply because there isn’t enough money? Not only are people being deprived of enjoying — and learning — about great natural treasures or historic sights, but there’s also the risk that, once closed, these parks are ripe for vandalism and neglect.

Where is our moral compass? Has it been sold to the highest bidder? Or has it simply been padlocked and left to neglect?

I know it’s easy to sit back and say “hey, it’s not in my backyard, so let someone else deal with it.” But that’s just it…it IS my backyard. This IS my country. But where do you start?

I think it’s obvious…right where I am. And right now. I have to stop sitting idly expecting people to wake up and see the consequences of our actions. I have to be the one who upholds my end of the bargain. To be the best person/neighbor/employee/friend/partner/constituent I can be.

I think that now is the time to stop giving money to politicians in the hopes they’ll make the right choices. It’s time to go direct to the source. Let’s channel our money and our energy to saving the parks and natural resources. Let’s use our efforts to make our own backyards a place that we can be proud of. Let’s worry about the issues that are local, and keep believing that local change will lead to a global movement that we all have to do our part. And, like it or not, we all have to work together — and get along — to survive in this world.

After all, it’s the only one we got.

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when mixing potentially gets messy

One of the “joys” of breaking into a new market is getting your name out there. There’s the slow, plodding cold-calling-one-person-at-a-time route. Or there’s tapping into big(ger) gatherings of like-minded professionals where the potential to mingle has greater mass appeal.

I’ve been attending the Ad Fed luncheons now for a few months, and have been lucky to meet some very nice people who have not been bothered by my constant nudging for introductions. These affairs are always sit down meals with guest speakers, with a little social time before and after. Granted, most of these attendees have to rush back to office jobs, but it’s been a nice, varied group I’ve met so far.

Last night was the big MarCom mixer. I had been told it was “the” event to attend for networking purposes. And it didn’t prove to be wrong. I met some great people last night, and had the opportunity to finally chat with some I’d been introduced to on other occasions.

The part I didn’t get (nor did I partake of) was the food. I never ventured over to the buffet tables to see the spread, but what I saw on people’s plates….well, it really made me LOL. Seriously, I know putting out a spread for a big group can be a challenge. I learned that from my 10+ years in the food biz. But when you have hundreds of people (with only limited opportunities to plop down to eat what you’ve scored off the buffet), why would someone choose RIBS and HUMMUS??!?!?!

Neither facilitate mixing by any means. One leaves your hands a mess, which makes me hesitant to shake any of ’em after they’ve been chowing. And the other potentially leaves your breath reeking of garlic, and would make even the strongest of us want to pull back when someone leans in to be heard over the noise.

That being said, the mixer left a great taste in my mouth. It was a successful evening of networking for me. And I’m guessing it was a success for the hosts, too. The agency’s office is way cool. And I hope to have the opportunity to hang around there more in the future.

There’s one thing I’m learning about this town, and myself, is that you do have to mix things up to be introduced to the right people at the right time. Even if that means getting a little messy in the process.

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the “duh!” heard all over the ad world

According to another article from BusinessWeek online….

A survey from IBM’s Institute for Business Value shows that CEOs value one leadership competency above all others. Can you guess what it is? (Wait for it…..wait for it….)

Da-daaa-dummmmm! Survey says!

CREATIVITY!!!!??!?!

Really! I know what you’re thinking. That’s what most of us in the ad biz do every day — come up with creative solutions to meet the needs of clients for their products and/or services. And as it is for me, it’s deep within my core. That “what is that USP and how can we use it to compel people to buy/click/call” drive that isn’t fueled by Red Bull or other caffeinated beverages. It just is.

But I suppose there is a unique process for those in the biz world who play in different sandboxes. (Although I read a very interesting take on the current state of the ad world a couple of days ago that mentioned how the influx of big corporate conglomerates has given more power to the finance people than the creative department, but that’s a whole different story.)

Until now creativity has generally been viewed as fuel for the engines of research or product development, not the essential leadership asset that must permeate an enterprise.

In face-to-face interviews with our consultants, they said creative leaders do the following:

Disrupt the Status Quo. Every company has legacy products that are both cash—and sacred—cows. Often the need to perpetuate the success of these products restricts innovation within the enterprise, creating a window for competitors to advance competing innovations. As CEOs tell us that fully one-fifth of revenues will have to come from new sources, they are recognizing the requirement to break with existing assumptions, methods, and best practices.

Disrupt Existing Business Models. CEOs who select creativity as a leading competency are far more likely to pursue innovation through business model change. In keeping with their view of accelerating complexity, they are breaking with traditional strategy-planning cycles in favor of continuous, rapid-fire shifts and adjustments to their business models.

Disrupt Organizational Paralysis. Creative leaders fight the institutional urge to wait for completeness, clarity, and stability before making decisions. To do this takes a combination of deeply held values, vision, and conviction—combined with the application of such tools as analytics to the historic explosion of information. These drive decisionmaking that is faster, more precise, and even more predictable.

So, I guess I’ll continue to think “creative disruption” (as opposed to disruptive creative….which can get annoying really fast if not abso-freaking brilliant in concept and execution). It’s how I roll.

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signs, signs, everywhere a sign

It’s almost election time here in the ABQ. And we all know what that means….

They’re all over town, on practically every corner where they’re allowed. And it makes me wonder…..do these colorful rectangles of cardboard really work?

I know it’s an inexpensive way to get your name seen by the masses. But does it really say anything? I mean, I’ve seen at least 8 or 9 different names of people running for sheriff. But just because I see their name on a sign, does that mean I should vote for ’em? What am I supposed to do? Vote for one candidate because I happen to prefer the color blue?

I know this is akin to browsing down any big box/grocery/drugstore aisle. We all know it takes more than just being present to build brand loyalty. So do these hopeful politicos really think that having their supporters put signs up in yards/on street corners will really help people at the polls?

Besides, we all know it’s really those few candidates that raise enough money (or in the case of one governor hopeful here, having deep enough personal pockets) to get on the air. A recent poll showed the top 2 Republican candidates just happen to also be the only ones who are currently running TV spots. Coincidence? Naw…they must have more signs up.

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social awareness? or social suicide?

Name just about any large company these days, and chances are you’ll be able to find them on Facebook. Or tweeting their chubby lil fingers off. Sure, this prevailing trend to add social media to your marketing plan has been building for some time. But, is it really doing any good? Or is it really doing more potential harm?

I, personally, don’t connect with too many companies/brands on Facebook. There are a few like Peet’s Coffee and Moonstone Cellars that I “friended” but don’t necessarily “follow.” (This is especially true for Peet’s since I now live in a Peets-free zone.) There are also a few bands (like the Indigo Girls or Levi Kreis) that I follow, but that’s not exactly the same kind of fan that companies are rushing to FB to find IMO.

My journey into FB hell was mostly prompted by friend requests of the local sort. Once I exposed myself to the masses, people from high school and college were finding me online. I gladly accepted any and all friend invites. It was great fun to reconnect with some of the people I’ve lost track of. That is, until I started reading/hearing about the privacy issues that are running rampant on FB.

One of the latest can be found on gizmodo.com. The “Top 10 Reasons You Should Quit Facebook” lists a bunch of things that I know I need to think more about. And also be careful about.

If I, Joe the Individual, needs to be extra leery of not only an account being hacked, but also an identity compromised, what happens to all the individuals who “friend” a company/product/brand? Can all that information be hacked, too? Could a competitor be able to hack into the friend base of another in an attempt to sabotage or steal?

I don’t know the answers to these questions. I just know for myself that I have started to ween myself off FB, and striving to kick the habit of wanting to constantly check back with all the feeds.

Guess what it all comes down to is getting back to more face-to-face interaction, and less Facebook interaction. And to recognize that it’s not always best to be up with the latest and greatest marketing tools until said tools can guarantee that privacy matters.

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to resume the résumé

I’ve always been a big proponent of “letting my work do the talking.” It’s not the easiest thing for me to brag about the who/what/how/where of the last big chunk of my professional life. That’s when I feel it’s best to send people to my portfolio site and let them see what I’ve done rather than tell them. With this thought in mind, I’ve spent the past week or so revamping my site (whether that motivation came from boredom or a real need is TBD….but I’m pleased with how it looks) and rethinking my résumé.

Of course, Seth Godin in Linchpin states that “if you’re remarkable, amazing, or just plain spectacular, you probably shouldn’t have a résumé at all.”

Well, who doesn’t think they’re any of those things? I know I feel that way about myself at times. On one level, I agree with Seth’s POV. My portfolio SAYS more about who I am and what I’ve done with the talents I’ve been blessed with and/or cultivated than a 1-page Word document. Isn’t it better to see examples of the long-form copy I’ve worked on for global clients than to say I’m an expert with brochure copy?

Unfortunately, the admission ticket to any new opportunity these days seems to rely on a résumé. Now more than ever, it’s not really about the story, no matter how meticulously displayed on the page, but whether or not you have the appropriate keywords living amongst all the others. And that doesn’t even include the challenge of getting your résumé in front of the right person who can then (hopefully) locate those special keywords.

It reminds me of the National Geographic special, Sizing Up Sperm. Seeing a “life-size representation of the struggles that sperm endure just for the hopes of fertilizing an egg” was so relevant to today’s job search that it was downright scary.

It’s even more of a challenge these days since moving to a new market with fewer “eggs” to target. But rather than blanketing the whole town, I’m in the embryonic stage of cultivating a few key relationships with people I’ve been lucky to come across (and who have been nice enough to make the time to meet with me).

I know that my quest for a successful career with an agency here in ABQ is going to rely more on these key contacts than a few choice keywords on a résumé. This town seems to be more about personal connections than a well-crafted Objective statement.

But, back to Seth’s thinking on the résumé, he makes a valid point that a “résumé gives the employer everything she needs to reject you.” So part of my challenge for the past few days is rethinking how I want to express my creative abilities on something that is less than creative. How do I remain in the game without playing the game by the standard rules of compliance?

I know that the great gigs out there aren’t posted on the job boards. And rarely are they found by blindly emailing an electronic document to some unknown recipient. That’s why I’ll continue focusing more of my attention on making personal connections rather than making the ideal word choice or format on a résumé.

You never know when someone who knows someone who heard that so-and-so was looking for someone just like me might be the next someone that I’m introduced to.

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i guess advertising really does suck

As pop culture goes, so goes some advertising I suppose.

It all started back in the summer when I was concepting new brand spots for a state electric company. One of the messages we wanted to get out was about “energy vampires” (aka phantom energy). We even did a radio spot, with accompanying print ad and billboard, that helped get the word out about all they wasted energy people are paying for just by leaving things plugged in when not in use.

It’s only once these started hitting the market did I began to notice a similar theme in other advertising. (It’s probably like, once I have my eye on a new car that has my interest that I start to notice them all over the place.)

Here’s one print ad I recently came across in Wired magazine.

Even Microsoft is taking a bite outta the hype that is Twilight.

All told, I can’t be too surprised by all the different advertising messages using similar (if not the same) themes. But I am grateful that I didn’t have to sell my soul to continue working in a biz I really like….but not ready to die for.

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seeing the fruits of my labor

We recently relocated from Surf City USA to the Land of Enchantment. This move was for a few reasons, mainly lowering our cost-of-living and the potential of full-time employment.

Since we’ve been here, it’s been fun to drive around town and see the results of my creative collaboration with the agency here. Whether it’s the billboard along I-40, the print ads in the various local publications, or even a TV spot during the Olympics the other night, I still get a kick out of seeing my work out in the market. (I’ll admit to never listening to the radio in my car….so I haven’t had the chance to catch one of the radio spots.)

Here’s the main “brand” TV spot I contributed to back in the summer.

It’s great to begin the process of settling into a new area, and to be surrounded by such amazing beauty. The fact that I get to continue working with such a talented team — and seeing the results all across town — is just icing on the cake.

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