Monday, October 6, 2014

Perfect pitch

Those of us in the marketing business are all too familiar with clients who are so close to their products that they're simply unable to see things in a fresh way. We constantly search for ways to break through and make connections with clients like that.

Enter Don Draper, the cheating, conniving ad exec of Mad Men. For all his foibles, Draper knows how to make connections with the toughest of clients. Even though it's fiction, I consider this particular client pitch to be the greatest of all time:


A few lessons learned: First, don't compromise your own professional expertise, especially when you know you're right. Be prepared to walk away if you have to. Second, the gentle way of leading a client to change isn't always the best way. Sometimes you just have to draw a hard line. Finally, wear a convincing poker face. (Great hair, great teeth and a well-tailored suit can't hurt, either.)




Saturday, September 6, 2014

The importance of staying focused

One of the hardest aspects of marketing is NOT doing certain things. Marketing involves setting priorities, whether it's targeting a specific audience, keeping creative work focused only on objectives or scaling a campaign to fit a defined budget.

All too often, our clients try to push us to be all things to all people. They want their marketing investment to go as far as possible, and to them it only makes sense to cram as much as they can into the white space or write the ad copy to appeal to anyone who can fog a mirror. The trouble is, the law of diminishing returns applies. The less focused and targeted a marketing effort, the less effective it will be.

Try to keep your clients focused on objectives, not creative execution, which is best left to the experts.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

The ALS "ice bucket challenge" and the myth of Narcissus

The latest social media flash-in-the-pan is the ALS "ice bucket challenge." Think what you like about the effort, it joins the ranks of a few brilliant uses of social media, particularly Facebook.


But it appears that the "challenge" is much more about self-promotion than it is fundraising for an important cause. What it demonstrates is the influence of the social media community, in which its members seek validation and acceptance within the context of that community.

This excellent post by Catherine Palmieri makes a compelling case for how marketers should approach social media. I think she would agree that the "ice bucket challenge" proves her point.




Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A lesson learned?

Somewhere, in the midst of this public relations debacle, is a lesson. I'm still trying to sort out what it is.

1. Think, really think, before you click "send."
2. Test your brilliant idea with at least one other person before going public with it.
3. Don’t go to war with the Shockers. Don’t start no stuff, won’t be no stuff.
4. All of the above.



Read more here: http://www.kansas.com/2013/03/27/2736007/pep-bands-war-song-a-hit-with.html#storylink=cpy

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

I beg your pardon, Goshen College

My alma mater, Goshen College, issued a news release yesterday that points to a classic misunderstanding about brand identity.  Here's an excerpt:
Goshen College Set To Rebrand Maple Leaf Athletics Logo
Tue, Mar 04, 2014 - [Leafs]

GOSHEN, Ind. - The Goshen College Athletics Department is excited to announce its plans to re-brand its Maple Leaf logo this Spring.
Known as the "Maple Leafs" since the late 1950's, Goshen will continue the tradition that comes with the moniker. Plans also call for the re-branding to stick with the traditional purple and white as primary color marks of the program.
A new brand identity, though, will be created to help better tell the story of Maple Leaf student-athletes. Additional goals include creating a system of logos which will provide options for multiple uses, more uniformly representing all athletic programs, modernizing the program's look, and increasing brand recognition for Goshen Athletics and the college as a whole.
Here's where Goshen College starts down the slippery slope of really not understanding branding: "The Goshen College Athletics Department is excited to announce its plans to re-brand its Maple Leaf logo..." Okay, some basics here. First, a logo is not a brand. Second, you don't "brand a logo," you introduce one.

GC continues: "Plans also call for the re-branding to stick with the traditional purple and white as primary color..." Really, what the college is trying to say is that they are sticking with the same colors currently used in their visual identity program.  Again, visual identity is not a brand.

But then, GC really shows they don't get it: "A new brand identity, though, will be created to help better tell the story of Maple Leaf student-athletes."  Every good marketer knows you don't "create" a brand identity. Brand identity is determined by your customers and constituents. The only thing you really control is consistency, and GC is at least trying to create a program that does that, although having "a system of logos which will provide options for multiple uses, more uniformly representing all athletic programs" will likely work against building a tight, consistent system. Further, if GC marketers think that a new logo will "better tell the story of Maple Leaf student-athletes," they've got another think coming.

What my beloved Goshen College should have said in their news release is that the college is excited to introduce a new logo for its athletics program that will further enhance the school's existing visual identity program.  After all, with a maple leaf for a mascot, you need all the good karma you can muster.