Monthly Archive: January 2011

Who Are You?

Meghan Casserly of Forbes wrote an interesting piece about managing multiple online identities and the danger of spreading oneself too thin.

To support her piece she talked to Ashley Brown, a PR consultant with Jones-Dilworth, has spent the past few years immersing herself in social media to advise her tech startup clients.

Brown cautions, “When on a day to day basis you’re fragmenting your personality into subsets of networks and assigning different aspects of yourself to different audience groups, it makes it extremely difficult to be a complete person offline.”

I’m not entirely sure what that means, but it’s a provocative statement that leads me to think. As a person with three Twitter accounts–@davidburn, @bonehook and @adpulp–multiple Facebook pages and more blogs than I can count on one hand, am I somehow compromised, or less than my whole self, when you meet me in real life?

The truth is people connect with me (and with you) where they have an interest. When I meet colleagues in the ad industry for a beer, they’re meeting David Burn of AdPulp and Bonehook (two sides of one coin). Likewise, if I’m tasting Pinot Noir in Newberg or Dundee, the people I meet are more interested in the fact that I cover the local wine industry on Liquid Oregon. And so on…

Embrace The Agency Within

Is Bonehook an advertising agency? Yes, of course. Which begs the question, why do we call ourselves a marketing services company? My simple answer is advertising is but one of the marketing services that we offer; hence, “marketing services company” is a more accurate description.

This topic was recently addressed on Ad Age by Mike Wolfsohn, chief creative officer at High Wide & Handsome, an “uncommonly loyal marketing agency” located in Venice, CA.

These days, it seems the fastest way to insult someone in the marketing communications business is to call his or her company an advertising agency. Apparently that moniker is reserved for “old-school,” “traditional” and “dinosaur” shops that set type by hand and make TV commercials that end with a toll-free number. (Full-disclosure: we call our company a “marketing agency” but don’t go ballistic if we’re called an ad agency.)

Simply put, you shouldn’t need a PowerPoint presentation, a video or even a paragraph to explain what business you’re in. Car dealerships wouldn’t rebrand as “Modern Conveyance Distributors” in an attempt to distance themselves from the antiquated perceptions of the car-buying experience, and neither should agencies redub themselves as a “Concept Cultivation Company” or something equally unclear.

Wikipedia says, “An ad agency is independent from the client and provides an outside point of view to the effort of selling the client’s products or services.” That makes sense. If you’re an agent, you work for an agency.

Small agencies like Bonehook used to be called boutiques. Today, the word “studio” is often used in its place. Here in Portland we have Jelly Helm Studio, to point to one such notable entity. I believe “studio” is meant to convey the limited scope of services offered. A brand studio isn’t going to have a media department or a planning department, for instance. Yet, I hesitate to use the “studio” word myself, because there is no limit to what we will do to find the right answer for a client. A great example of this is the interior design project we took on last year for Danville Children’s Medical Center. I’m a writer, brand strategist and creative director. What do I know about interior design? Answer: I know that my client needs it, and that I’m ready and able to provide it (by finding the right interior designer for the job).

You’ve Heard Of Slow Food. How About Slow Selling?

John Gerzema of Y&R’s BrandAsset Consulting is a pioneer in the use of data to identify social change and to help companies both anticipate and adapt to new consumer interests and demands. Gerzema also shares some of his findings in the pages of Inc..

In his latest piece for Inc., he examines eyeglass provider Warby Parker’s customer service model, what it means and what others might learn from it.

Warby Parker is built on an insight that eyeglasses are a distressed purchase. The eye chart is the easy part, but the vanity test is where the stress begins. Think about it: You stand in front of a mirror in the presence of a salesperson while choosing an expensive object that will be perched square on your nose for years to come. It’s a Seinfeld skit played out at the mall.

But Warby Parker is kind of like Lenscrafters meets Netflix. Simply upload your photo to their website and you can virtually try on every style of frame. Still can’t decide? The company will mail samples to you. Started by Wharton students Neil Blumenthal, Andy Hunt, Jeffrey Raider and David Gilboa, the company strives to make every aspect of the experience is relaxed and unhurried. Instead of pressuring you, they’re betting you’ll be a more satisfied customer if you get to make a buying decision in your own sweet time.

Warby seems to get that purchase funnels are now petri dishes…

I love how Warby is in no rush. This tells me they’re confident without being cocky.

Whether it’s products or services that one hawks, going against the grain by exuding a patient confidence might be a winning move.

How’s Your Influence In Digitally Connected Networks?

David Armano is extending his reach with a new article on Harvard Business Review’s blog, “The Conversation.”

Armano, a Senior Vice President at Edelman Digital, offers up six pillars of “the new influence” in his piece: Reach, Proximity, Expertise, Relevancy, Credibility and Trust.

I didn’t learn about influence from a book written by Malcolm Gladwell or by studying influence theory. I learned about it from years of active participation on the social web. It’s becoming more clear to the business world that this new kind of influence is more is critical to understand and harness. The increasingly skeptical but empowered public uses the Internet to bypass the middle men (like institutions) and go directly to the source.

In other words, a brand can’t rely exclusively on the old push models–advertising and PR, in particular–to create lasting and significant positive impressions among key constituents.

A better, more modern approach, is to do the heavy lifting required by social media marketing. Today, checking the brand’s Facebook page for new interactions has to be part of the marketing team’s daily routine. And brand managers need to develop keen listening skills if they’re going to actively participate in the community around the brand. Without active listening the brand has no awareness of who in their circle actually has influence. The old assumptions were the brand has influence and the media (where a brand runs ads or PR initiatives get turned into stories) has influence. There may be truth in those assumptions still, but it’s not the whole truth.

The whole truth from a marketing communications perspective requires a brand to open a new chapter in the playbook, study that chapter and begin to pursue the findings therein in the real, digitally connected world, where word-of-mouth courses through the network at lightning speed.

Dropping Some Digital Science

My friend and former colleague, Sloane Kelley, recently posted the following slide deck to the BFG Blog and Slideshare.

The deck has some interesting case studies that will prove valuable for anyone working in mobile and/or digital marketing. Sloane and her team also unearthed some interesting data. Like: M-payments account for 12% of Kenya’s GDP; 5-10% of Internet users are “dependent” according to Harvard’s McLean Hospital; and 56 million Americans are playing social-based games but 35% of social gamers have never played a traditional video game.

I’d like to say I taught Sloane everything she knows, but that’s probably a reach. But seriously, it’s good to see her and BFG succeed (and I appreciate the valuable and free resource).

To Make The Sale, Call Again

Kevin Graham spent most of his career as a high performing sales executive in the technology sector working for US Robotics, 3COM Corporation, Ingram Micro and others. Today he speaks, writes and consults.

He might be a bit too Anthony Robbins for my tastes, but I do identify with some of his core principles. Like this one:

1) Call Again

It’s an embarrassment to the sales profession that I have to lead with this tip. If I had a nickel for every reasonable, professional voicemail I received from a sales professional that I simply did not have the time to talk to that particular day. Years ago, I returned everyone’s call regardless but those days are long gone. Why do so many sales professionals call only once? If you try two, three, four or more times, you’ll likely get your eight seconds to WIIFM (What’s In It For Me).

In other words, persistence and perseverance may have much more to do with one’s success than talent or drive. Personally, I find this hard to accept, but I don’t doubt the truth in it.

I think those of us who work in marketing can borrow from this sales lesson, not only when working to bring in new business, but as a general operating principle. In marketing and sales, persistence pays. Doing something brilliant once–or once in a while–does not make the same kind of lasting impression that doing something over and over again does.

Look at Martin Agency’s work for Geiko. The brand and the agency do not rely on just the gecko, they support the gecko with cavemen, a former Drill Sergeant and a musical to name a few of Geiko’s present campaigns.

With all their creative, and a huge media budget behind it, Geiko calls again and wins.