Monthly Archive: September 2010

Don’t Call It A Conversation, Unless It Is

In social media circles people like to describe what happens on Twitter and Facebook (and elsewhere on the web) as a form of conversation. Critics however, point out that it’s not actual conversation that’s taking place, rather it’s just a bunch of people talking to themselves. Turns out both parties are correct, to a degree.

Sysomos, a leading provider of social media monitoring and analytics, examined 1.2 billion tweets posted in the last two months and found that 29% of all tweets produced a reaction – a reply or a retweet.

In other words, 71% of all tweets are one-way communications, and that’s not all that conversational.

Ideas Are Money, The Rest Is A Lot Of Noise

My friend Bob Hoffman is President of Hoffman/Lewis in San Francisco. Online, he’s known as the Ad Contrarian, because he loves taking digital counter points and beating the hell out of dim wits with them.

For instance:

We have dashboards and metrics and click-throughs and webisodes and branded entertainment and a whole galaxy of new and used media outlets…but what we don’t have is very good advertising.

It seems silly to have to say this, but our industry has reached a point of such grotesque confusion that I’m going to say it anyway — the business of the advertising business is advertising.

If the advertising isn’t very good, what difference does the rest of it make?

We analyze everything and understand nothing.

Hoffman doesn’t have much room in his heart for interactive hyperbole, nor for the people who would create these daily distortions. To help protect us from the noise, Hoffman regularly serves up facts. Like 99.9% of people who are served an online display ad do not click on it. Or TV viewership is now at its highest point ever. Or 96% of all retail activity is done in a store – 4% is done on line. Facts are our friends, right?

Here’s a fact. I always advise clients that the point of investing in great online content is to develop the kind of interest in the brand that leads to face-to-face meetings and transactions. It’s a continual loop. You want to drive TV viewers and online visitors to the point of purchase, then back to the web. Click through rates aren’t part of this equation. Investment in your brand and your customers experience with it is.

We Make Commercial Art, And There’s Something Fine About It

I’m excited to be working with Portland artist Brian Kappel on a commissioned piece for the Bonehook office. I first saw Kappel’s work in exhibits at Extracto on NE Killingsworth and again at Albina Press on Hawthorne.

Coffee and art are powerful intoxicants. It was under their spell that I imagined a rough-hewn treatment of the Bonehook logo. Kappel accepts such requests from brand obsessed people like myself and so we were off to the races.

Here, let me show you a sketch:

Understand that his finished product will be a sight to behold. Something more like this:

Another Portland agency that is making an solid investment in local art is Anvil Media. I visited Kent J. Lewis in their new digs off MLK last month and was impressed by the agency’s art collection (and Anvil’s lofty spaces).

Want To Really Reach People? Create Better Conversations

Hugh MacLeod of Gaping Void wants to have better conversations with his customers and his audience.

It’s a noble pursuit.

“Conversation” is a metaphor. Making your product sleek, elegant and graceful while all your other competitors make their product look cheap, plastic and clunky is a smarter conversation. Not all conversations need words.

Deciding to have a smarter conversation isn’t a business decision, it’s a moral decision. While your competition treats their customers like idiots, you treat your customers like intelligent human beings. You don’t do that because your accountant told you to, you do that because that’s who you are.

MacLeod’s thinking is building on The Cluetrain Manifesto, the seminal book which famously declared, “Markets are conversations.” Now, ten plus years later, we finally know what that means. It means do what’s right, raise the bar and consistently create meaningful experiences for people.

Read Every Word Of This, Then Log Off And Call Your Best Prospects

“Feels good to watch a big man dance.” -Widespread Panic

One of the great challenges of running any successful business is keeping existing customers happy while constantly finding new customers to keep happy. It’s a true balancing act, one that takes lots of practice to get right.

Anthony Del Monte, founder and president of Squeaky Wheel Media in New York City knows all about it. Writing for Ad Age, Del Monte says, “…for the sake of your agency, you need to get uncomfortable. Talk to somebody. Start the process of closing.”

He also weighs in on the false obstacles one places in the way:

Sit back and list all the issues with getting in touch with the right person: Summers are typically slow in our industry, the holidays aren’t good because decision makers aren’t around, Fridays people are already thinking about the weekend, Mondays they are just getting around to clearing their desk, time differences (EST, PST, MST, AHHH!), the ups and downs of the market, religious and national events — the list goes on and on. Take all of these obstacles into account and what do you end up with? One hundred days or so to make rain.

Just last night, I was talking to a freelance copywriter who told me he was waiting impatiently on some leads to come through. I said I know the feeling. I added that’s why it’s so damn important to keep pitching, keep putting balls up in the air, even if you can’t catch them all. You’re not going to, or supposed to, catch them all is the thing.

Right now, I’m sitting on close to $50K in unanswered bids. Some of it might come in. Or none of it will. To “always be closing” you have to also always be opening–doors, emails, beers, etc. Like the duality at the start of this post, to always be closing (and opening in order to close) is another tricky balancing act. As is being forward without being pushy, being smart without being overbearing and being honest without being cruel.

I’ve been a copywriter since 1995, but now I spend a good bit of my day as rainmaker and account guy. Historically, I’ve given many of the account people I’ve worked with a hard time. When it’s your turn, you see how difficult the job is. Plus, my natural state is to sit right where I am, at the keypad, thinking. But I can only do so much of that now. For Bonehook to grow and prosper, I’ve got to work some other muscles. Lots of other muscles. Speaking of, I haven’t spent this much time on the phone since the late 1980s. Yet, it’s all too clear that I need to spend a good deal more time on the phone, talking to hotel owners, winery and brewery owners, restaurant owners and other interested entrepreneurs.

If you’d like to talk to me about how to build your brand and grow your business, call me on my mobile at 503-970-3862. Or send an email to david (at) bonehook (dot) com.