Monthly Archives: July 2014

The Art of Keywords.



There isn’t any. There is very little art in keyword infested content. Writers who pepper their digital work with keywords so the algo can find it, aren’t writing they are data processing. Recruiters will tell you to make sure you have a list of keyword skills in your resume so the algo, at first pass (Who can read 200 resumes?) finds you.  Similarly, web developers and SEO jockeys want lots of keywords on the homepage and primary layers to make sure your site rises to the top on Google. And content marketing writers, as grammatically correct as they are, know they’re being paid by the search not the word. So, where’s the art? Where’s the poetry? Where is that heart-felt, emotive story? In many cases it’s not even copy anymore, it’s search palaver.

Great writing, persuasive writing is an art. Look at all the best columnists, bloggers and vloggers — they didn’t rise to the top because of keywords. Their content was the marketing. What’s next, musical notes the tones of which are searchable? I loves me some G minor.



The New P?


The 4 Ps of marketing have always been sacrosanct. If you don’t take care of the Product, Price, Place and Promotion, you aren’t paying attention to the total marketing mix. You can certainly be successful without attending to all 4, but it won’t sustain. For the last 10 years I’ve had this gnawing feeling that the web has altered the 4Ps, but haven’t been able to put my finger on in. I’ve written how the web has collapsed the steps to a sale (awareness, interest, desire and action) into a single one-experience process — certainly a big change — but has it really changed the 4 Ps?

I was reading a Slideshare by Translation’s John Greene today on disruption in the music business and landed on a point about “transaction”…which gave me pause. Readers who know my “Twitch Point Planning” thesis, know twitches used properly, can lead to or be transactions. Communications planners know the value of the transaction. Is it possible that transaction can replace the Place P? Place being the channel, e.g., the retail store, mail order, ecomm website, mobile device? Or should transaction be added to the 4Ps?

As technology plays with place and pricing and makes purchases as convenient as a swipe, scan or click, the transaction may trump all other Ps. Are we as brand planners and comms planners thinking enough about the transaction? Thoughts me droogies?




Solution Selling Vs. Brand Plan Selling.


A brand plan is an organizing principle for selling. The plan has a claim and three proof-of-claim planks. The claim, the heart of the plan, is something a product or company does well – a synopsis. It is also something the consumer wants or needs. Hopefully, the claim is pregnant with meaning and contextual. (At the Griffin Farley Beautiful Minds event last year, a claim developed by a team of tyro brand planners for CitiBikes was “bicycles with benefits,” a lovely pregnant claim.) Planks, on the other hand, are the proof areas that give consumers reasons to believe the claim. Also, they give employees and marketers content for their little elevator speeches. (Have you ever wondered why we need elevator speeches?)

B2B companies use salesforces to move their products and over the past decade there has been a proliferation of something called “solution selling.” Salesforces are trained to sell only after they’ve engaged prospects about their pain. Once the pain points are found, the seller can put his/her sales spiel together. (I like nothing more than to share my pain with complete strangers.) 80% plus of U.S. sales teams are solution selling these days. They believe it differentiates them. Hee hee.

With a brand plan “what the customer needs” has already been articulated. With a brand plan “what the product is good at” is already understood and provable. With a brand plan and the proper marketing and promotion, “consumers already are predisposed toward the claim and proof” because it has been advertised and promoted. Sales training that is based upon a strategy endemic to the product or service and based upon a consumer need is much stronger than solution selling out of a book. A sales trainer from one company that moves to another company can change the logo at the top of the presentation and make a nice living. That should tell you something.

Powerful, organized selling is based upon a brand plan — not someone’s pain. Peace.

PS. To see examples of brand plans mail

Brand Brief Formats


I joke around that I make paper for a living. Paper strategies. To the creative people fall the exciting deliverables: the TV spots, magazine ads, websites and iPhone apps. Me? I just make the idea starters and the idea guard rails.

Good strategists, with their briefs, provide thought-provoking stim, context, and imagery to help the makers and doers create motivating selling schema. The paper containing said stim is two dimensional. Brand planners are great at bringing those two dimensions to life, yet there are still only two.  I came across a new file format today called .STL.  It stands for stereolithography or Standard Tessellation Language. It’s a format for 3D printing and one which, no doubt, we will be seeing a lot more of in the future.

This new format is one brand planners should use as inspiration. A format with an additional axis. I dimensionalize my paper strategies with a little playacting, voices, miming — anything to help the creative process along — but at the end of the day the paper is the paper and it sits on a desk or inside a Mac. We need a new format. Any idea?



General Motors. The old gray mare.


Thanks to its car ignition problems, General Motors is recalling 29 million automobiles worldwide. If you’ve ever scanned the price of an auto repair you know the labor is what gets you, not the parts – so you can imagine how that number is going to hit the GM bottom line. Like a 29 million pound tank. GM’s most profitable cars are its huge SUVs. It is reported that a $60,000 Suburban provides $10k in profit while an energy efficient Chevy Cruz yields $1,500 in profit. We all know which car is better for mother earth, but GM, which has the power to move the market away from gas guzzling, likely won’t.  Too much to lose. GM’s share of the SUV market is now up to 70%. (Seen a picture of the smog in China lately?)

Ford’s new aluminum body F-150 pick-up truck is a step in the right direction. SUV loving Chrysler/Dodge/Fiat is bracketing its large car and truck sales with some much better looking Fiat 500s…very cool and efficient cars of the future. My Prius has over 165,000 miles on it, saving me about $9,000 in gas and cutting pounds of carbon into the atmosphere.

Here’s the point. GM, which is about as American and Apple you know what, continues to lose its way. The corporation needs a strategy and a leader. A leader with beyond the dashboard vision. The old gray mare is not too big to fail. Not anymore. American’s love our metal, but we love our amber waves of grain better. Peace.



The Ad Unit of the Future. Facebook’s Got It.


Facebook reported huge earnings yesterday. It has often spoken about killing it in mobile advertising but I couldn’t see it. I understand where the ads are placed on desktop Facebook but have yet to see how they’re used in the mobile interface.  Are they little banners like on Weatherbug? Sidebar text ads? Nah, no room. I have never seen any ads on my Windows Phone so the whole thing doesn’t compute.

Then the earnings article I read today cleared it up.  It said the ads appear in the feed, much like this shrunk down ad from the desktop Facebook application:

facebook ad

Ahhh, now I get it. The mobile version of this ad will measure about an inch in height, contain a logo or brand mark, an eyebrow, headline and a few words of copy, a visual the size of a thumb nail and link. At least this is the way I see it. Anything bigger will be too intrusive for the Facebook masses. This ad unit, to be named later, will be the advertising unit to replace all. It will be as common as the TV ad, the page 4C, the banner. Ad agencies will perfect it. It will launch video. This unit is why Facebook will be printing money for the next 10 years. The unit is here, the time is now.

If Facebook exhibits restraint on how frequently they can serve these ads there should be no consumer backlash. And don’t get greedy Mr. Z and Ms. S. Don’t sell super-premium size mobile ads that gobble the screen.

Does anyone have a good name for this new unit?



LinkedIn Survey. Ebb or Flow?


LinkedIn sent me a survey yesterday which I gladly filled out. LinkedIn is one of the coolest tools on the web. Reid Hoffman, Jeff Weiner and team have uncovered a gem of a portal. No, they engineered a gem of a portal. I said gladly filled out the survey because as much as I like LinkedIn, it’s not perfect. Who is? I get more spam from LinkedIn than any other web provider. Even after turning off lots of things in preferences. The whole endorsements feature is a sham. They should have bulked up recoomendations.  People endorse like errant laps dogs. It’s a glorified like button.

linkedin grab

The newish content creation scheme is also annoying. Articles from so-called opinion leaders and influencers appear above the fold, crowding out the people I know and want to keep tabs on. I understand what motives the influencer articles and the endorsement features; they are engagement builders. That’s said, portals with a finely tuned idea who overdo it, who search for extra ad dollars by adding functionality beyond their mission are on a slick slope.

I believe LinkedIn is aware of this and now taking stock. Unless, of course, they’re researching ideas that will lead them further down the feature-creep path. Hopefully it’s the former. My heart and business sense tell me so.


 R.I.P. Fergus O’Daly. A lion.

A New Keyboard Key for Content Marketing.


I want! Now that’s a metric. If you are old enough to have children, you’re familiar with this whine. It is such a wonderful learned behavior that young, young children will sit on the floor repeating “I want, I want, I want.” Sometimes even without telling you what they want.

crying childWith all the discussions about lack of social media and content marketing metrics – metrics tracking to sales — a “want” key may very well be in order. That’s what marketers do for a living, isn’t it — create desire? It doesn’t mean consumers have to buy this very minute, but it would be nice to know that a communications expression of product or service has convinced a consumer to want the product. This is not a “like.” Attention, this is not a like. It’s a want. It’s not time-on-page either. It’s not a share. And it definitely is not a LOL.

The Net Promoter Score asks a consumer if s/he is likely to do business with a given company. Movement of this score in a positive direction is a very nice metric. But it is not measured on a comms by comms basis. That would be nirvana. That would be instant persuasion testing. That would be a “want button.”

Am I asking for too much? I WAAAANT a want button on my PC/Mac/keyboard. And it’s coming. Peace!

What’s next in website design. No design?


David Carr wrote a piece in the NYT today talking about a juggernaut taking over print. The proposed takeover by Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox of Time Warner Inc. has no print component. Multimedia is the juggernaut and print the dog yapping at the tires.

I was in a meeting last week with some creative people and we were talking about websites. Last year Brian Solis of the Altimeter Group when talking about websites  said “It’s 2013, how come they are so bad?” I propose they’re bad because we are still using a print paradigm to create them. Writers, art directors, and template jockeys are laying out the web experience. What content do we stuff above the fold? What images best reflect our mission? Which type of slide show? Where is the call to action? How many navigational elements on each page? Seems like a clickable print medium to me.

Where’s the surprise? Does the experience have a scripted beginning, middle and end? How do we surface conflict? These are the things of multimedia – of transmedia. I love print and the written word – done well there is story, richness and spark. But many websites today are 80% format, art and copy. Information. Advice. And self-aggrandizement.

Branded utility was a big thing a couple of years ago. Story and narrative are the things today. By combining these two approaches we should get beyond the print-centric view of website design. Peace.




Heineken Light’s New Campaign.


Heineken Light is launching a new ad campaign. All the stories will be about new spokesman Neil Patrick Harris, Wieden+Kennedy and the advertising poking fun at the fact that one can’t drink beer on a TV commercial. Mr. Harris drinks and slurps off camera.

According to Heineken USA CMO Nuno Teles “Everything in marketing should start with a consumer insight.” The one he identified to Stuart Elliott of the NY Times was that “40% of 21-27 year old consumers desire a light beer with a full taste.” Some quick research suggests there are 25 million 18-24 year olds in the US, so let’s say there are about the same number of 21-27 year olds. Forty percent of that number is 10M. In a country of 300M, that leaves a lot of beer on the table. But I agree that taste for a premium light makes sense. The fact that Barney from “How I met your mother” craves Heineken Light on a TV commercial, though, doesn’t quite set the “taste” hook for me. I’m not sure if he says anything about the new Cascade Hops, but I surely hope so.

Behavioral brand planners will ask how do we get consumers to change beer brands? The answer is, get them to try it and like it. Also, give them a reason to expect to like it. Not sure drinking what Barney drinks is that reason. Peace!

P.S. Wieden knows what they are doing and they know advertising, so let’s wait until the barrel counts start coming in. This is just my expectation of success.