What tells you it’s time to stop digging?

diggingaholeThat repen­tance is nec­es­sary for sal­va­tion is hardly a prin­ci­ple con­fined to Chris­tian­ity. It’s really as sim­ple as say­ing that if you’ve dug your­self into a hole, you need to:

  1. real­ize you’re in a hole, and
  2. stop dig­ging,
  3. become open to solu­tions (aka, a way out)

Until you do these three things, you won’t have much hope of get­ting out of that hole. Obvi­ously, the sooner you rec­og­nize the hole, the eas­ier the process is. Just as obvi­ously, this applies to busi­nesses as well as individuals.

In fact, a lot of hole-digging in busi­ness involves max­i­miz­ing short term profit at the expense of long-term rep­u­ta­tion, cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion, prod­uct improve­ment, etc. Mostly because prof­itabil­ity is fer­vently mea­sured while the long term things often don’t even have indi­ca­tors, let alone mea­sure­ments. This means many com­pa­nies don’t real­ize they’ve dug them­selves into a hole until a cri­sis hits.

So what are your early indi­ca­tors for these “soft” or long-term fac­tors? Have you both­ered to set any up, or are crises going to be the only indi­ca­tor that the hole you’ve dug your­self into is deeper than you can climb out of?

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Are you demand­ing a state of grace, or are you will­ing to take peo­ple as they are?

saint-peter-cardOne of the few things I don’t like about Get­ting Things Done is the “state of grace” fac­tor.  Mean­ing you have to start your sys­tem from a point at which every­thing is accounted for on a slip of paper in your in-box, which means you have to take 1–2 days out of your life to get your­self to the start­ing point.

I think that’s one rea­son there are far more vari­ants of GTD and peo­ple using mod­i­fied GTD sys­tems than there are actual GTD prac­ti­tion­ers. Peo­ple like the sys­tem, but most can’t start from that all-too-hard-to-achieve state of grace.

Sim­i­larly, busi­nesses that are will­ing to take peo­ple as they are gen­er­ally do a whole lot bet­ter than busi­nesses that force cus­tomers to have got­ten their ducks in a row beforehand.

Peo­ple want solu­tions, not an “I told you so.”

Think of the dif­fer­ence between a nor­mal uni­ver­sity and most online uni­ver­si­ties. They’ll always be a Har­vard, but I think a lot of 3rd Tier Col­leges and Uni­ver­si­ties are about to get crunched as more and more peo­ple opt for edu­ca­tional alter­na­tives that will take them where they are — lit­er­ally and figuratively.

What about your busi­ness?  Are you will­ing to meet peo­ple where they are - to save them from their past stu­pid­ity if needed — or are you demand­ing cus­tomers enter your doors in a state of grace?

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The object of giv­ing some­thing up is to gain some­thing else

Chris­tians fast and make sac­ri­fices dur­ing Lent  – i.e., they give up tem­po­ral, worldly plea­sures and activ­i­ties — so as to bet­ter con­cen­trate their minds on the eter­nal and the spir­i­tual. It’s not just about giv­ing some­thing up, it’s about elim­i­nat­ing some things to focus more on others.

This is a recog­ni­tion that you can’t just add and add and add with­out hav­ing things get crowded out of the pic­ture — usu­ally the wrong things, the most impor­tant things.

StopDoingListWhile we all tend to end­lessly add To-Dos to our list, there’s only so much time in the day. How many of us actively focus on a Stop Doing list? The idea is to replace less effec­tive and effi­cient strate­gies and prac­tices with more effec­tive ones.  So shouldn’t we have as many “Stop Doing” items as “Start Doings”?

What’s on your “Stop Doing” list?

Back in 1973, Mas­ter Lock ran one of the most effec­tive Super Bowl ads of all time. If you haven’t seen it before, here it is:

YouTube Preview Image

Now, I’m not sure how many crim­i­nals would shoot a lock — seems to me they’d be more likely to just use a pair of bolt cut­ters — but that doesn’t mat­ter, because watch­ing a lock lit­er­ally take a bul­let and still con­tinue to do its job impresses us at a fun­da­men­tal, sym­bolic, and sub­con­scious level.

And it’s this sub­con­scious, largely sym­bolic level where real buy­ing deci­sions are made, which is one rea­son why Mas­ter Lock, bol­stered by the suc­cess of this ad, went on to dom­i­nate the indus­try in 70s and con­tin­ues to be dom­i­nant today.

In fact, peo­ple still talk about this “tough under fire” demon­stra­tion to this day. Heck it fea­tured in an episode of MythBusters.

Of course, the dif­fer­ence between today and the 70’s is that now cus­tomers expect to be able to find more infor­ma­tion on the inter­net. So if Mas­ter Lock were to run an ad like that today, we’d expect to go to the web­site, see the ad, and then get more infor­ma­tion, pre­sum­ably includ­ing an added demon­stra­tion of how the haft of the lock is hard­ened against reg­u­lar bolt cut­ters and such.

In other words, the Web is where we expect busi­nesses to add more info, close more loop­holes, and really con­vince us — all after they’ve impressed us with their mass media ads.

And that brings me to the ad Mas­ter Lock really should have aired last Sun­day. Because you don’t know it, but the front door lock on your house is ridicu­lously, stu­pidly easy to over­come. It doesn’t even require reg­u­lar lock-picking skills or really any­thing close to what one might call spe­cial tools or skills.

Nope. Pick­ing the lock on your house sim­ply requires a bump­key and a few minute demo on how to use it. See for your­self within the first 90 sec­onds of this news special:

YouTube Preview Image

Think you could make a pretty dra­matic ad out of that bit of info?

Yeah. Me too.

Now, here’s the thing — Mas­ter Lock has come up with a lock cylin­der that’s pretty much bump-proof. Unfor­tu­nately their pro­mo­tional video for the tech­nol­ogy is slow, bor­ing, and long. It is, how­ever, convincing:

YouTube Preview Image

So why not have a super dra­matic, riv­et­ing Super Bowl ad that demon­strates lock bump­ing and how exposed 99% of all homes are to the tech­nique, then show­cas­ing how bump-proof Mas­ter Lock’s new lock cylin­ders are?

If you really want to get seri­ous, throw out a challenge:

  • View­ers pick out a replace­ment Mas­ter Lock for their door and order it along with home instal­la­tion to be done by a a local Mas­ter Lock dealer,
  • All of which is FREE if the instal­la­tion crew can’t bump lock the front door lock they’ll be replac­ing on your home.
  • If we can’t open your door lock as easy as this [image of bump lock open­ing] your new Mas­ter Lock is on us!
  • See com­plete details at masterlock.com

What do you want to bet that that ad would sell a boat load of new door locks?

And that’s the ad we should have seen this Super Bowl.

 

Holy mega-bucks, Bat­man! On Sat­ur­day, the orig­i­nal Bat­mo­bile (from the old Adam West TV Show) sold for a whop­ping 4.2 Mil­lion Dollars.  

You can watch the entire bid­ding process in the embed­ded YouTube video, if you want, but I’d advise skip­ping to the 8:14 mark, where they inter­view the win­ning bidder:

YouTube Preview Image

In response to the ques­tion, “what made you want that car?” Rick Cham­pagne gave the fol­low­ing list:

  1. I grew up in that era, so it meant a lot to me.
  2. I’ve been watch­ing that car for 20 years and wait­ing for this day [when it would finally be sold]
  3. I’ve been a Bar­ret Jack­son cus­tomer for well over 15 years
  4. The car is going to go in my liv­ing room
  5. I KNEW I was going to get it

So, just a few reflec­tions from me on the event and Mr. Champagne’s list:

Sen­ti­ment & Emo­tional Con­nec­tion MATTERS

Yes, there is also exclu­siv­ity dri­ving up the price of this car, but by far the biggest fac­tor, and the one men­tioned first by the win­ning bid­der, is the emo­tional con­nec­tion to the old TV show, and in turn, to the famous Batmobile.

If you’re not tak­ing this into account — if you’re not bak­ing a lit­tle Mag­i­cal Think­ing into your mar­ket­ing and adver­tis­ing — you prob­a­bly ought to be.

Baby Boomers Con­trol 70% of the Dis­pos­able Income in the US

Of course, given the era of the Bat­man TV show, it’s not sur­pris­ing that the win­ning bid­der was a Baby Boomer. But don’t over­look the fact that the major­ity of the buy­ers slosh­ing obscene amounts of dis­pos­able income around that auc­tion house were also Boomers. That’s because Baby Boomer’s hold the major­ity of wealth and dis­pos­able income in Amer­ica.

If you’re sell­ing lux­ury or high-end prod­ucts or ser­vices and your mar­ket­ing speaks pri­mar­ily to or from a youth mind­set, you might want to rethink that.

Antic­i­pa­tion Com­bined with Con­fi­dence Is An Unbeat­able Combo

Rick Cham­pagne has been wait­ing to buy this car for 20 years. That’s a lot of antic­i­pa­tion, a lot of time Rick spent imag­in­ing him­self buy­ing that car.

Rick’s also done busi­ness with the auc­tion house, Bar­ret Jack­son, for “well over 15 years.” That’s a lot of repeat busi­ness and confidence.

It also helped, of course, that Bar­ret Jack­son had the car’s orig­i­nal builder/designer and single-person owner on hand to fur­ther ver­ify the authen­tic­ity of the vehi­cle. Per­son­ally, I think it would have been even bet­ter to have had Adam West there, too, but you can’t have every­thing, I guess.

At any rate, the end result is that Rick Cham­pagne was absolutely 100% cer­tain that he was get­ting exactly what he wanted — the 100% gen­uine real deal — from a com­pany that he had full faith and con­fi­dence in to deliver.

This is why he walked into the auc­tion KNOWING that he was going to walk out as the new owner of that car.

What does your com­pany do to help peo­ple IMAGINE buy­ing from you and IMAGINE get­ting the ben­fit from your prod­uct or ser­vice?

When peo­ple walk into your busi­ness do they KNOW that they are going to buy from you? Or do they think they might pos­si­bly buy from you, if the pric­ing is com­pet­i­tive and you seem to have what they want?

So what are YOU doing to:

  • Take advan­tage of, or estab­lish, emo­tional connections?
  • Give peo­ple full faith and con­fi­dence in your prod­uct or service?
  • Allow peo­ple to develop con­fi­dence in you through pre­vi­ous busi­ness dealings?
  • Pro­vide some­thing worth wait­ing for?

Here’s a small busi­ness exam­ple: for most HVAC com­pa­nies, the pay-off is when some­one buys a new Heat­ing and Air Con­di­tion­ing Sys­tem from them. That’s payday.

But the smart com­pa­nies don’t wait for pay­day to try to get your busi­ness. They’d rather you develop con­fi­dence in them BEFOREHAND.

This process is started with great ads that estab­lish an emo­tional con­nec­tion to the lis­ten­ing audi­ence. And if that emo­tional con­nec­tion seems based on old-timey val­ues and slightly older cul­tural ref­er­ences, well, that’s prob­a­bly NOT an accident.

This emo­tional con­nec­tion is fur­ther strength­ened by the offer of value-priced, high-quality tune-ups and fast, effec­tive repairs. A strat­egy that ensures prospects call YOU when they need a tune-up.

And after 5 or more years of hav­ing their sys­tem tuned by you, YOU become the first per­son they call when there is a break­down — and the only peo­ple they trust when it’s time to buy that new sys­tem. Payday!

The icing on the cake? Well, with any luck, that new sys­tem will come with:

  • advanced fil­tra­tion,
  • added humid­ity control,
  • room tem­per­a­ture equal­iz­ing func­tion­al­ity, and
  • energy sav­ing features.

The kind of sys­tem that makes a home notice­ably more com­fort­able and pleas­ant; a lux­ury sys­tem that the home owner desired for some time and planned on buy­ing “some­day,” when it was time for a new one.

And that’s how you can put some super-hero-powered CRACK-POW! — BAM! into your mar­ket­ing and advertising.

 

16

Jan

by Jeff

“Win­ning ad awards is a silly way to mea­sure suc­cess.”  – A para­phrase of thoughts expressed by my col­leagues, Tim Miles and Char­lie Moger.

And while I heartily sec­ond that emo­tion, I usu­ally let Tim or Char­lie express it, since it’s less sour-grapey to say it after you’ve won those kinds of awards, which they have.

But the inter­est­ing thing is that not all ad awards are based merely on creativity.

You can enter and win awards based upon mar­ket­ing effec­tive­ness! That award is called an “Effie,” and you can review the 2012 Effie win­ners here.

But if you’d also like to see a meta-analysis of win­ning cam­paigns, show­ing what win­ning and final­ist entrants had in com­mon, then you’re also in luck.

Effie World­wide has com­pliled just such an analy­sis in their 2012 Effie Report, and have also been kind enough to sum­ma­rize their  key find­ings as follows:

  • Effie Final­ists tend to spend more on paid media, but not nec­es­sar­ily the most. More final­ists spent in the $20 mil­lion to $40 mil­lion range than in the $40 mil­lion+ cat­e­gory, and nearly half spent less than $20 million.
  • Effie medal­ists have slightly fewer goals to achieve, and cam­paigns with a busi­ness objec­tive, rather than one to reach a tar­get audi­ence, col­lect more medals.
  • Never under­es­ti­mate David tak­ing on Goliath – he’s 47 per­cent more likely to win an Effie medal.
  • In the Shop­per Mar­ket­ing Effie cat­e­gories, about two-thirds of final­ists’ pro­grams demon­strated some aspect of dis­rup­tion – either by novel prod­uct place­ment in the store, chang­ing the way shop­pers per­ceived the retailer or chang­ing per­cep­tions of the brand.”

So what I’d like to do today is take each of Effie Worldwide’s bul­let points and dis­cuss it in terms of local advertising/branding:

Spend More on Paid Media

It’s tempt­ing to go after “free adver­tis­ing” such as Word of Mouth, Social Media, and var­i­ous PR and Guerilla Mar­ket­ing tac­tics, but while those are effec­tive, expe­ri­ence shows that there’s just no replac­ing old-school mass media mus­cle when it comes to grab­bing increased share of mind, and in turrn, share of mar­ket.

But if that’s the case, then why didn’t final­ist spend the most on media?  Frankly, I’m guess­ing here, but I think this indi­cates intel­li­gent media buys along with the desire to effec­tively con­cen­trate on one (or a few) media source(s) rather than a spend­ing spree spread out over too many media types.

It might also indi­cate the invest­ment in long-term, day-in and day-out media spends for brand­ing rather than mas­sive, flash-in-the-pan spend­ing for one-time mar­ket­ing blitzes.

In any case, accord­ing to Effie World­wide, effec­tive mar­ket­ing strate­gies are more likely to have intel­li­gently invested in paid media.

Focus on Fewer Goals & Tie Them to Busi­ness Objectives

There’s an apoc­ryphal story about a copy­writer who was late to a client meet­ing, wherein the board was going to dis­cuss with him the 13 Points they wanted to their ad to cover.

So the copy­writer walks in late car­ry­ing a hockey bag over his shoul­der. With­out say­ing a word, he places the bag on the con­fer­ence table, pulls out a board that’s basi­cally been turned into a bed of nails — a rather eye catch­ing prop that grabs every eye in the room as it’s placed on the table.

The copy­writer then takes a fry pan out of the bag and slams it down onto the bed of nails. Lift­ing the fry pan up, he shows the exec­u­tive team the dim­ples. Then writer-boy swaps out the bed of nails with a board fea­tur­ing a sin­gle, impos­ing spike potrud­ing from it. He slams the fry pan down, forc­ing the spike clean through it, cre­at­ing a half-inch hole big enough to stare through when mr. copy­writer holds the pan up to show the board.

At this point, our intre­pid copy­writer says, “Now how many points do you want the ad mes­sag­ing to convey?”

As it is with ads, so it is with cam­paigns: one point, goal, or objec­tive per cam­paign is always best.

And if you want to nar­row it down to one objec­tive, you’ll want to choose a busi­ness objec­tive. So, fig­ure out how you want to mea­sure suc­cess in term of your (or your client’s) busi­ness, along with what the required time­line is, THEN cre­ate a cam­paign clearly aimed at achiev­ing that sin­gu­lar, busi­ness goal.

And by the way, “dri­ving traf­fic” isn’t a busi­ness goal. Increas­ing gross sales might be, but merely get­ting traf­fic through the door isn’t. So con­ver­sion ain’t just a met­ric for online businesses…

Act Like David Rather Than Goliath

Increas­ing mar­ket share when you have very lit­tle of it to begin with is rel­a­tively easy, as there are plenty of com­peti­tors to steal cus­tomers from, and plenty of prospec­tive cus­tomers to steal. On the other hand, once you’ve cor­nered 30–35% of the mar­ket, grab­bing more of that same mar­ket is darned difficult.

This is why, again accord­ing to the Effie Report, smaller busi­nesses tak­ing on larger com­pe­ti­tion are more likely to find their adver­tis­ing effec­tive — because gain­ing mar­ket­share always involves steal­ing it from some­one else. So when you’re already hold­ing almost all the mar­bles, there are fewer and fewer left to acquire.

For local busi­nesses that means that once you become the Goliath of your cat­e­gory, you either have to open up a new store in another mar­ket, or open up another busi­ness, or business-line, in the same mar­ket. Either way, your future growth will be pow­ered by your Davids rather than your Goliaths.

Of course, this assumes that the smaller busi­ness has some­thing new or inter­est­ing to offer the cus­tomer… which leads us to

Prac­tice Disruption

If you look at how that last bul­let point is worded, it’s basi­cally say­ing you need to do two things:

  1. Grab people’s atten­tion through some form of novelty
  2. Pro­vide peo­ple with some sort of Unique Sell­ing Proposi­ton, OR change the way they FEEL about the brand

In other words, if you’re offerng the exact same thing as every­one else, in the exact same man­ner, and if your ads are pre­dictable, bor­ing and dull, then it won’t mat­ter that you’re invest­ing in paid media in order to air ads aimed at achiev­ing mea­sur­able busi­ness goals for a busi­ness that has plenty of mar­ket share left to steal — you’ll still lose.

But if you’re ads cap­ture the inter­est and imag­i­na­tion of the buy­ing pub­lic, while offer­ing them a strong rea­son to do busi­ness with you, you’ll soon dis­rupt the power struc­ture of your indus­try as you dom­i­nate every mar­ket you care to enter.

My only note of cau­tion is to add in a third point: cred­i­bil­ity. You can grab their atten­tion and promise them a tempt­ing and rel­e­vant ben­e­fit, but if your audi­ence doesn’t believe you, your ads won’t achieve much.

Rel­e­vance and Cred­i­bil­ity are the meat of the mes­sage. The nov­elty part sim­ply ensures that your mes­sage is heard long enough to be deemed rel­e­vant and credible.

Ah… Val­i­da­tion

Inter­est­ingly enough, these are the same prin­ci­ples espoused by all Wiz­ard of Ads Part­ners, includ­ing Tim and Char­lie, so it’s grat­i­fy­ing to see them espoused by a insti­tu­tion ded­i­cated to pro­mot­ing effec­tive adver­tis­ing, such as Effie Worldwide.

If you’re inter­ested in explor­ing these prin­ci­ples to grow your busi­ness, why not con­tact one of us?

2013 is just get­ting started, why not make it your year to thrive?

 

It’s a slight change, but it makes a world of dif­fer­ence, doesn’t it?

The photo comes cour­tesy of a rather clever ad cam­paign for The Cape Times – some­thing I was turned onto by the always-wonderful No Cap­tion Needed blog. The intent was to make us see these iconic pho­tos with new eyes, allow­ing the idea of a self-taken-phone-camera-pic to shake up a clas­sic. And it worked.

But it also trans­for­rmed the pho­tos into some­thing creepy, espe­cially this one.

It’s one thing to look on as the ecstasy of vic­tory so over­comes a sailor’s sen­si­bil­i­ties that he kisses a stranger in the street; it’s entirely another when the sailor still has the self-awareness to phone-pic him­self dur­ing his sup­posed blissed-out moment.

Some­times, it’s just a whole lot bet­ter when some­one else is con­trol­ling the cam­era and the spot­light. In fact, not just some­times, but often.

Trans­lat­ing this to adver­tis­ing and marketing:

  • When oth­ers sing your praises, it comes off as cred­i­ble and gen­uine; when you sing your praises, you come off as a wanna be Don­ald Trump
  • When reviews praise an item to the sky, we believe it; when prod­uct copy does so, we read it with a large grain of salt
  • When you tell me how great some­one else is, you come off as pas­sion­ate; when you tell me how great you are, you come off as arrogant

Well.. you get the pic­ture. Why not let some­one else hold the cam­era.  Or, if you’ve got the cam­era, why not point it at some­thing other than yourself?

16

Oct

by Jeff

Fact: most of our deci­sions aren’t made on a straight cost-benefit analysis.

Instead, the major­ity of us decide based on con­text and self-image: what kind of per­son am I, and what should a per­son like that do in a sit­u­a­tion like this.

And that’s what’s so great about the sig­nage pic­tured on the left.

I took the photo with my phone after drop­ping my kids off at school the other day, just because the sign was so dev­as­tat­ingly effec­tive. Hon­estly, how much more effec­tive do you think that speed limit sign is at actu­ally reduc­ing unsafe dri­ving speeds due to the added verbiage?

For­get per­cent­ages — I’d say it’s more effec­tive by a mat­ter of mul­ti­ples!  Like 2x or 3x more effective.

Why? Because it reframes how dri­vers inter­pret the sign, mov­ing it from a gov­ern­men­tal impo­si­tion that’s no big deal to flout to a com­mu­nity stan­dard that would be bad man­ners to disregard.

How does it do all that?

By redefin­ing the the speed limit as a “Neigh­bor­hood” speed Limit — i.e., a stan­dard agreed upon by the local com­mu­nity — and by adding in the nor­ma­tive “Nice neigh­bors don’t speed.”

If you con­sider your­self a respectable, decent neigh­bor and you pass that sign­ing going 30 mph, you feel like a heel, as if you were pur­pose­fully or care­lessly endan­ger­ing your neigh­bors’ kids and pets.

And so you slow down!

This does not often hap­pen with just reg­u­lar old speed limits.

The point is that mar­keters fre­quently fail to take this decision-making process into account, rely­ing instead on pure self-interest, as embod­ied in the WIIFM acronym.

Mar­keters rarely con­sider HOW the prospect sees her­self and how we can bring our desired action into align­ment with her self image. We don’t emo­tion­eer our per­sua­sive mes­sages. But we should…