27 Mar

Advertising agencies are not the real problem

I like High Mcleod’s thoughts on marketing. He’s insightful and by all accounts walks the walk as well as talking the talk with regard to leading edge marketing. In his post “advertising 2.0 doesn’t exist” he has (among other things) a good crack at ad agencies, their relevancy and their role.

But is the problem really the ad agency? What is the client’s role in this? How close am I if I say that the majority of advertising and selling lacks impact because too little time and effort is invested into differentiating products, services and value proposition?

How much do companies invest in understanding their market? Their competitors? Trying to see what their customers see?

Is that the role of an ad agency? I don’t think so. Ad agencies in my mind are good at one thing and one thing only; take a brief and communicate an idea in the most effective way. No more, no less.
Here are a few of Hugh’s points:

5. Saatchi & Saatchi: “We’re not an ad agency, we’re an ideas business.” Right. Oh well, I’m sure they’re trying to get there one day. Maybe they’ll succeed. Who knows.

No they are not an ideas business; that’s what the client should be. The ad agency should just be good at ideas to communicate the idea.

6. So a lot of clients have been recently asking their ad agencies, “So what can you do for us in Web 2.0?” And the agencies have been replying, “Lots! Lots and lots and lots and lots!” Bullshit. Ad agencies have so far been hopeless in this space. I don’t know of ONE SINGLE piece of work coming out of a traditional ad agency in the last five years that has been even halfway original, thought provoking or effective. Captain Morgan’s? Beyond lame. Juicy Fruit? Beyond lame on steroids. Glenfiddich? A missed opportunity.

Ask a silly question and you get a silly answer. What’s web 2.0? A new magazine? Instead, what if a client asked “So what can you do for us to get our customers to tell us what they think?” That might be useful.

7. Bartle Bogle Hegarty, the very fine London ad agency, used to pitch their clients, “We makes brands famous”. Right. Like movie stars. Like celebs. Like the guys getting out of the limos and walking down the red carpet. Like the ones who get all the money and invites to the fancy parties. While the rest of us stand behind the velvet rope out in the cold, looking in with longing. Great. Super. Lucky us.

What’s wrong with that pitch? Nothing that I can see. The ad agency is pitching to a marketing manager/director/vp. The marketing manager wants a famous brand, because a famous brand will make her famous. All this demonstrates is that the agency knows their target market.

So ad agencies are not the problem. They’re just not as important in the mix as they believe they are. The problem lies with business that try and take short cuts.The problem lies with businesses that won’t invest time and money in the fundamentals of their marketing success.

14 Mar

Good, but not as good as you could be

I just watched a short video introduction by my new blogging friend Mike Wagner from Ownyourbrand. Mike talks about how in his experience many business leaders don’t have a clear answer to the question “What is your brand?”.

He then does a nice job outlining why it is important for business leaders to be able to answer that question.

Mike thinks that understanding what your brand is, is important. I do to. So do a whole lot of other marketing and non-marketing types. And yes, there is plenty of experience and science to back up the argument that it is.

However, for every one of us, there are probably 10 people who can’t see the importance or urgency at all. If my experience is anything to go by, they are in particular leaders of successful businesses who are happy with the growth they enjoy. They don’t feel any pain, so they don’t feel a need to change.
I think that Mike’s message will resonate with two types of people:

  • people who know their business is in trouble and they need to change, and
  • people who know their business is good, but not as good as they could be. Or as they want them to be

Is there another group I’ve missed? Let me know what you think.

06 Mar

On, off, below, above…”line” marketing is dead

The old marketing (read advertising) paradigm thinks along lines:

Above the line – broadcast advertising, tv, print etc

Below the line – direct mail, one-to-one marketing, CRM

Online – any internet driven marketing activity or structure

Off-line – any marketing activity that is not using the internet

Its a redundant idea.

Customers see no lines. They don’t care. They are not aware. They simply want to have a good offer of a relevant product or service. They want to deal with you in whatever way they choose.

There is no “online” brand strategy and “off-line” brand strategy. There is only a brand strategy. Well, you hope there is.

05 Mar

Help to find free images for your communications

Yotophoto | Find free photos… fast

Photo’s are such a fantastic tool in communications if you can get your hands on the right ones. These days it is a lot easier to get access to great images to enhance your website, brochure or presentation, but for the average PowerPoint presentation or blog it’s just not feasible to spend hundreds of dollars. Good thing there is so much for free on the web.
Yotophoto is the latest one I have come across, particularly interesting because they provide a search from a range of libraries, specifically looking for images that are free to use.
You’ll note that a lot of the images come from sites such as Flickr and Stock.Xchng as well as Wikipedia, Morguefile, Pixelperfect Digital and OpenPhoto.


(Courtesy of Matthew Bowden – see more of his work here)

02 Mar

30 seconds between success and failure

Rands In Repose: A Glimpse and a Hook

On the surface, this post about writing good resumes has little to do with marketing or branding. But it does. A seasoned hiring manager gives us a crisp overview of how he forms his opinion of an applicant in “the first 30 seconds”.

That’s not a lot different from the amount of time we’re likely to get from our prospective customers, now that time is the scarcest commodity Read More

01 Mar

A discussion on branding on BlogTalk Radio

Yesterday I participated in a round table discussion with some great people talking about brands and branding. It took place on BlogTalkRadio; the people involved were:

Wayne Hulbert, from blogbusinessworld who hosted the show, Mike Wagner – ownyourbrand, Valeria Maltoni – conversationagent, Derrick Daye – brandingstrategyinsider, John Moore – brandautopsy, Drew McLellan – drewsmarketingminute and Mike Sansone – converstations

I’ve never personally met any of the contributors, but I know them from their blogs. Here we are, having a round table discussion with people from the US, Canada and Australia, people who have never met (well, some may have) broadcasting a radio show globally. I’m still amazed how we do things now that you wouldn’t have imagined possible ten years ago.
To spice things up, we probably needed a little more controversy, but there was a lot of agreement on some of the key aspects of building brands in todays environment. In particular:

Don’t confuse your brand with the brand image – a logo is not a brand, nor is a name. I think it was Drew who said (loosely) a brand name is an empy vessel; you give it meaning by what you do for your customers. Same goes for a logo.

Be brave and make choices about who it is you develop the brand around – choose a niche and really understand what makes that niche tick; the greatest mistake is to be all things to all people. The world is simply too competitive for “me-too” brands.

Take the time to understand your competition – you can’t differentiate without looking at competitors

Words matter – What you say and how you say it have a great impact on the perception that people have of your brand, so it’s worth taking the time to articulate it carefully.

If you like to listen to it,here it is: BlogTalkRadio