Monthly Archives: October 2012

Future Friday…Thoughts.


Mailboxes on homes will go the way of the public telephone booth.

Amazon will purchase a package delivery organization: FedEx, UPS or perhaps even the United State Postal Service.

20% of the U.S. GDP will goes through Apple.

A twenty year old will become president.

The functionality and user experience of TVs, PCs, pads and phones will all be the same…and  sync.

Peace? A smidgen more so.

(Anything to add?)

The mind of a brand planner.


Ask me the title of the book I’m reading and you’ll mostly get  “I nah know.”  Ask me the name of the bespectacled, nerdy character from TV show Revolution. “Sorry.”  But ask the most important thing told to me by the head of marketing at Kinney Drugs in 2008 while planning on a protein drink and not only will I recite the sentence, I’ll build a new store around it.

I once got a meeting with MT Carney, an original partner at Naked Comms, by telling her I have a good ear…that I hear things other don’t.  Like the dog that hears abba dabba do abba dabba do Wannagofor a WALK?

This is no curse, it’s a blessing.  It was born, not of an account planning manual from the UK, or a year of quant in the research dept. at P&G, it was born of the crucible that is advertising.  Studying how it’s make, its results and consumer attitudes toward it. (Okay, throw in some amazing anthropology instruction at Rollins College and seeing Margaret Mead at the annual convention. )

The mind of a planner sorts, compartmentalizes, after seeing and hearing everything.  It is always on. That’s why we smile a lot.  We’re the sober dudes and dudettes smiling on the street when there’s no reason.

Lastly, we are not horders.  We remember the important stuff – the big stuff – but we know what to keep. To act upon.  To celebrate. Then we make the paper. For some sample paper in your category, please give a call. Peace.

Facebook’s toughest decision.


Facebook had some nice earning yesterday.  50% of Facebook log-ons occur via mobile devices and mobile is hot. Facebook’s mobile ads accounted for 14% of rev. Nice news indeed. 

As someone who is a member and student of the marketing community, I’ve marveled at Facebook’s user growth. (While with (who?) I competed with Facebook when they had only 18 million users.)  FB has spawned whole new industries of social and digital ad agencies. It has created a head down behavior for teens and millennials that will give birth to millions in chiropractic business. Facebook is of the moment and the masses love it. For now.

Some financial analysts are predicting the way for Facebook to capture mad new revenue is to sell the data it collects via user clicks and behavior.  That data will be used to plan media buys on other platforms.  So beyond making money selling ads on its own site, a la Google, it will make money selling our data. (I’m guessing these same analysts are not heavy Facebook users.)  If Facebook takes its eyes off the “communications utility for friends” prize (the brand Is-Does) and follows this rev gen trail, it will begin to lose face. And faces.

When you confide in a friend and that friend sells those secrets, trust is lost.  Were the phone able to hear your conversations and send you ads based on what was said, that would be bad right?

Fotchbook can make money many other ways.  Selling our data, behind our backs, is not a good long term strategy. Mr. Zuckerberg do not listed to those portfolio hounds. Peace.     

Yahoo’s new brand strategy?


On Sept 7, 2011 I predicted Carol Bartz, CEO of Yahoo! would be out within a year. It happened in July 2012. I’ve followed and blogged about Yahoo since the beginning of What’s the Idea? and was internet raised on Yahoo.  I want it to succeed, but it has been a messy go the last 5 years. Perhaps that is changing.

According to new CEO Marissa Mayer in an article from today’s New York Times, Yahoo’s top priority is to “Make the world’s daily habits inspiring and entertaining.”  I smell a brand strategy.

Over the years, Yahoo has had many leaders, many missions and many goals: Become the Internet starting point for the most consumers. Become a ‘must buy’ for the most advertisers. Become an open technology platform for developers.  Become an innovative content company. A mobile leader. And and and…

“Make the world’s habits inspiring and entertaining” is a brand strategy that has ballast.  Remember it’s not the creative, it’s a strategy. Support it with three endemic and meaningful brand planks and you have the start of something – a brand plan. 

I’m not going to parse the sentence yet and frankly a brand strategy with a conjunction (“and”) is a bit of a weasel, but the exciting keywords are: world, habits, daily, inspire, entertain.  Were I a Yahoo brand manager, CMO, or VP and if someone brought me a new mobile app or content idea, I could easily use this strategy as a litmus test for approval.  It’s still broad and in need of refinement but it’s a start. As my daughter used to say “I yike it!”  Peace.

Solution for the CMO Lifespan.


The lifespan of a CMO is somewhere in the neighborhood 18-22 months.  Who would want that job?  I guess it pays well. The reality is chief marketing officers tend to be judged harshly by other C-level executives. They are Cs, but judged as Ds.  Would you like to know why? (I bet you saw this one coming.)  It is because they don’t have a brand plan and are judged based upon subjective criteria. 

Many think a brand plan is a color scheme, or new logo and signage. Or a new ad campaign from the new agency. 

A brand plan is so not those things. A brand plan is an organizing principle for doing business. As an organizing principle it provides direction for everything done on behalf of a brand. (Even hiring.) If a CMO has a plan understood and blessed by the CEO, then everything created by the CMO is pre-approved.  No more looking at a blank piece of paper for marketing program inspiration. No more trotting out last year’s program and for updating. There is a strategic plan in place that gives form to all 4Ps.  But most CMOs don’t have this tool.  They have an Excel spreadsheet with a budget, sales goals and deltas (the diff between goal and actual).  They have a marketing plan with line items for tools, functions and a KPI or two. If they are lucky the budget sheet and the marketing plans resolve to some sort of accountability (ROI), but that’s a rarity. 

 A brand without a plan metaphorically is like looking at a new home construction and blaming an ugly, dysfunctional house on the nails. “Less nails, next time.”

I know firsthand what CMOs face. And without a brand plan, sold in and sold firm, the clock on CMO tenure continues to tick. Peace! 



Google Old School.


Is it ironic that on the day that Google reports disappointing earnings in The New York Times, it runs its first ever double-truck 4-color spread in said Times?  Google and its ad agency BBH are dialing up old school advertising in this new media world. Their Chrome TV ad with the father and newly minted collegiate daughter videoconferencing back and forth over the web is brilliant. (The wrinkle that the mom has just passed away (we think) adding a little Sons of Anarchy reality to the story certainly shows an evolution of the medium. Remember the “Sophie” spot?)

Now I don’t want to go all old school here but Joseph Jaffe and all those pop marketing people who cashed in on the “TV spot being dead, long live the social web” can now write new chapters. When Stub Hub, I mean Hub Spot, came down off its “inbound marketing” high horse a number of months ago and started sending out more emails than a belly flattening supplement, I knew the madness had stopped. Ish.

Google is still amazing. A brand that has lost some of its Is-Does way, it is still is playing in important, meaningful worlds.  

I once railed about “Google’s culture of technological obesity,” but have to admit there is a marketing hand at the wheel. Chromebook, Motorola, mapping services, Google+ Hangouts and AdSense make for strange bedfellows yet good marketing oversight fueled by tough decision-making will prevail.  And the freshest fish in the city for all NY employees doesn’t hurt either. Peace!

Hashtags and Deeds.


It’s easy to make a hashtag. Getting people to follow a hashtag is an art. A hashtag can start a movement…and mobilize a movement.  “Binders full of women” was a meme started on the web as a hashtag. Someone with a good ear hit it and it likely will become a campaign mantra, even an ad.  President Obama’s reference to Lilly Ledbetter, an amazing debate uppercut, should have carried more weight but the hashtag slingers went with binders.  Probably started by a NY-area, skinny jeaned brand planner. And I say that with mad respect.

The idea of a movement though is pretty critical.  It sets objects in motion. Sitting on one’s coach or favorite chair while on a device is a precursor to movement. Precursor to a deed.  Occupy Wall Street was all about deeds. Getting off the couch and voting, going to the school board meeting to talk about teacher assessment – these are deeds.  Ceasing to buy high fructose corn syrup?  Deed.

What is so exciting about social media today is that as a precursor to deeds, it is an amazing tool.  Let us not forget however movements without marchers a wan.  What user experience designers on the web need to know and what brand experience planners need to know is that “likes” and tweets and strategy are great, but marketers need us to finish. Marketers need the ball in the hoop. (Lavinwood.) Engagement without sales is not a valid return. Social is too exciting a new tool to overlook and to diss, but it really needs to understand how to finish. Peace.

Brand smitten or brand love?


I had an exploratory meeting with a smart brand planner yesterday morning on Bond Street. Quite an epi (epipen, epicenter) neighborhood.  I want to be her when I grow up/down. We talked about brands and freelance, the Sioux, NYC and Mari Sandoz. I suggested I need to love a brand before really doing it planning justice.  Smitten is good, but it’s not love. My planner friend mentioned agencies that rely on freelance planners often don’t want them to have face time with clients. Ouch, but understandable.  Sure one can read research, troll (the fishing troll) the web, talk to editors, study consumers and arrive at stimulating insights. But from these interactions and insights can love grow?  Smitten can grow. Idea lust can grow. Love however takes time.

So here’s a problem. Freelance planners doing project work are actually killing in today’s marketplace.  At least the good ones are. (Mostly thanks to didge.) They know what questions to ask, whose pulse to take and their bullshit meters are nicely calibrated. Plus they have great ears.  The work they generate is very good. But unless, this project work is grounded in a tight, instructive brand brief it is temporal and tactical.  This is smitten work.  Think building rooms, not homes.  

I never read Kevin Roberts Lovemarks, but maybe I should. Nah. Finding love is much more fun than reading about it. Puh-eace!


Square pegs?


My sister recently did some consulting work for a small, quick serve restaurant in the Southwest. I’m not going to go into it very deeply – trade secrets you know — but suffice it to say that one of the partners in this little venture is a tad high strung …when he’s not low strung. He handles the kitchen and the customers seem to like him.

So, the restaurant ran out of potato salad and what does Mr. High/Low do?  Does he say, “Sorry we’re out?” Nope. Does he send someone out the back door to Restaurant Depot for a bucket?  Nope.  He looks around the kitchen, finds a baking potato, throws it in the microwave, mashes it with a fork, adds celery, mayo, whatever, and bam — instant potato salad. Now I have no idea what this little side dish tasted like, and if it sucked bad on him, but you have got to like the creativity and initiative. The fact that he ran out of the salad to begin with says something, but so does the solution.

Everyone has strengths and everyone has weaknesses.  It’s what we do with them that goes in the ledger.  If Mr. High/Low is allowed to put his creativity as a cook into the restaurant without having to do the things he’s may not be well equipped for, it’s probably a win.  Can some of this creativity find itself into other parts of the business, that’s something worth paying attention to.

People, just like brands, are most likely to succeed if allowed to play to their strengths. Figuring this stuff out is the fun of business.  Peace.   

A Content Marketing Tip and Story.


Content marketing starts with being seen. Following is a story and insight. And a Twitch Point crumb trail.

This morning I was reading a New York Times article (a daily anchor read) describing a new ConAgra Slim Jim campaign. I twitched over to Twitter and followed an author by the name of David Vinjamuri, quoted in the article, writer of a book called Accidental Branding. I have heard of the book but now, thanks to the media surround, will consider buying it.) On Mr. Vinjamuri’s Twitter feed, I read and how his Amazon reviews rock, according to Mars Dorian. I might consider following Mr. Dorain but didn’t have time. His name will go into the gray mush database and should it come up again, he’s in.

The notion of being an Amazon review rockstar is very interesting to me, and plays into my Poster vs. Pasters theory of online magnetism. Mr. Vinjamuri, blogs, writes book, Tweets and no doubt does lots of other posting. His Amazon reviews, however, are placed on a canvas that seen by many and more importantly, seen in context. He has found a place where concerned readers congregate and he is posting there — with things they like. (In doing so, he is creating twitches back to himself.) Had Mr. Vinjamuri doen the review on his own blog he’d have to wait for his Google ranking on the topic to float up. So he used Amazon to fish for acolytes. Genius.

Just as inbound links are the key to Google rankings, commenting and leaving a trail of crumbs on other people’s sites is a key to content marketing. It’s the last mile. The one most people forget about. It’s the map or directions to you and your site. There is way too much Fotchbook focus for marketers today. They create content for Fotchbook (faccia, is Italian for face) and becasue the platform contains so many crumbs, people tend to stay there…giving Mr. Zuckerberg all the traffic. So Posters, you need to troll. You need to troll in rich waters. And you need to create content back at the ranch that will build greater affinity. Sorry for going long today. Peace!