Yearly Archives: 2014

Cull the Follow Herd.


I’m a big Lindsey Vonn fan.  It borders on creepy but not creepy enough to visit her Facebook page. Yesterday, Lindsey announced she pulled out of the Sochi games.  I learned about it on Twitter. She in in my Facebook feed, I think, but doesn’t show up so much as she’s kind of busy.

As an adult and marketer, I have started to coalesce my thoughts on social networks. Readers know I’ve long said Facebook is for friends and school peepsLinkedIn is for people with whom I have done business (ish)Twitter is for all of the above plus likeminds and admirees.  Twitter is where I share my total persona. Some politics. Some personal philosophy.  Some troll-able business scat (not the dung).  It is where I hope to learn from others, often those unknown. Twitter is my most expansive social network.  

Facebook is only as good as the shares — and sharing is magnified based on how close you are to the person. I’m not going Gaga over a 7th grade crush showing pictures of her kids in Clearwater (Facebook). Your feed is watered down if it has too many uninteresting posts. Burger King is offering $4.00 duck burgers. That said, I really don’t cull the “follow herd” and that’s an issue for Facebook.  Too much noise in the feed.

What to do about it.

Remove unwanted friends, peripheral people and brands from your Facebook community.  You can always add them back.  You can always find the brand if you need it. Play LinkedIn by the book and only connect with those you have done business with. The rest is spam.  And fly like a birdie on Twitter. Note to Twitter: don’t extend beyond 140 characters.  Where does this leave marketers? Better off. With more traffic to their own sites and ads that are more powerful because they are ads – not friends. Peace.


Selling a Brand Plan…Lessons from Christie’s.


So I’m reading this NY Times Sunday Magazine interview of Christie’s auctioneer Jussi Pylkkanen and the question is posed “From the outset, how do you identify the right bidders in the room?” Says Jussi “It’s the glint in their eye, and intuition. It’s about the posture of the client, how they sit forward on the chair, how they make eye contact with you. As I look up, I know the four or five people that are definitely going to bid.”

Cool skill? Yah huh!

If I apply this level of observation to my business, will it tell me who in the room is going to buy brand strategy? Moreover, will it tell me who in the room will actually implement it — an equally important question.  When you think about it, someone willing to pay hundreds of thousands, even millions, for a painting has to be on the edge of their chair. As does someone buying into a brand strategy.  When I look into the eyes of C-level executives while presenting and see the fire, see the wheels turning, I know I have them. It’s the kind of engagement Jussi sees. When I see that glint, I know who the buyer is. Don’t underestimate playing to the buyer. The outliers in the room will see it and catch on.  

If there is no response, no emotion, no visible cognition, it’s time to cue the orchestra. Peace.

Viva la diff


One of my mantras is “provide every company employee with an understanding of the brand strategy.” A brand strategy being the organizing principle that drives value. Bank account value. Which is fed by perceived consumer value. When employees know the brand strategy, the good ones pursue it, use it and think about it — even on weekends.

At Zude, a start-up I was a part of in the web space, the brand strategy was “the fastest, easier way to build and manage a website.”  The CFO of Zude Jeff Finkle used to say that every employee walking to their car at night should ask his or herself “What did I do today to make Zude a faster, easier way to build and manage a website?”

When Larry Page took over from Eric Schmidt as CEO of Google, he declared this as a company mission: “To get Google to be a big company that has the nimbleness and soul and passion and seed of a start-up.”  Not a brand strategy.  It’s an operating or operations strategy. Certainly it’s laudable and good business. Certainly employees can ask themselves as they leave the building if they passed the litmus. But it’s inward focused and brand strat needs to be outward focused.  Beware the difference. Peace.

Business Consulting or Brand Consulting?


Bob’s Discount Furniture just received a cash infusion from Bain Capital. In other words, Bain now owns a big chunk of the company. If you were Bob, or any other  underperforming company looking to fix their business what would you do?  Before you sold out to a big fixer company like Bain, that is? Many go the root of hiring big business consulting companies such as McKinsey, Boston Consulting or Booz. Pricey choices. Especially for a company under duress. You certainly wouldn’t hire a brand consultant.

But should you?

If you were to go to Landor, Interbrand, Wolff Olins or Siegel+Gale, you’d get some really smart people supervising your business, a lot of smart designers and brand planner worker bees, resulting in a new logo, style book, positioning statement, some lessons in voice and, maybe, if they were feeling a bit feisty culture. Probably not going to fix the business.

Were you to come to What’s the Idea?, a different kind of brand consultancy, you would get some of these things, but only after signing onto a brand plan — the foundation of which is built upon business metrics.  Business fundies. Economic success measures.

A brand plan built upon anything else is simply storytelling. (And storytelling is the pop marketing object of the day.)  Am I suggesting an engagement with What’s The Idea? is superior to a big city business consultancy or brand consultancy?  Perhaps I am. As someone schooled in both disciplines, who works within the company to determine issues and answers, this approach is a “heal thyself” approach. It’s a learning model rather than a teaching model. Peace.


Twitchable Moments.


I wrote earlier in the week about ad tracking application iSpot and how it will help marketers with Twitch Point Planning. Twitch Point Planning being a new transmedia planning tool that takes advantage of the twitchy behaviors consumers exhibit in today’s device-friendly, social media world.

Here’s an example of a twitch the Geico Insurance and The Martin Agency may or may not have designed into the famous Hump Day TV spots.  Lots of people like the Hump Day spots — the boisterous, roaming camel asking “Guess what day it is?”  This spot from the campaign has over 19M views on YouTube.  Do you know what day these spots are shared the most?  Wednesday.


Do consumers buy more Geico insurance on Wednesday? Maybe a bit more because the brand is top-of-mind, but my guess is this effort was not that strategic. Not strategic like Wednesday is Prince Spaghetti Day or BOGO (buy one get one) on a restaurant’s slowest day of the week.

The metrics, however, do show twitching behavior can be manipulated. And that’s the key learning. Find an on-brand idea that gets shared on a particular day of the week, and you have a new tool in the social arsenal. There are lots of twitchable opportunities for brands – they just have to have a goal and think like consumers. Peace!