Wednesday, February 24, 2010


If you listened to Age of Persuasion last week, you got a glimpse of two marketing styles -- Ogilvy, which has perfected a system and DDB, which relies on the guts. Both effective and strategic agencies. Just different styles.
My own experience tells me that great marketing relies on three T's: Technique, Time, Talent.
I had a little personal experience on Saturday that reinforced these three "T's".
I took a painting lesson.
Now, to make sure you don't misunderstand my story: I do not have, have never had, continue not to have any training, experience or talent. But I had an idea.
So I took my idea to an expert and asked her to help me do it..... Donna (my expert friend and amazing artist) bravely took on the task.
I presented my story board for 4 large paintings I wanted to do. I even sketched them in a book aptly titled: "Sketch Book." Just so that you're still with me, pencil sketches in a book titled "Sketch Book" are not necessarily sketches.
But to Donna's credit, she caught the idea.
So over the next 2 hours I expected to learn the technique and accomplish a painting.
At one point, during a quick colour lesson, Donna did mutter under her breath that some people studied this for years. I think she was suggesting that my desire to accomplish it in an hour was unrealistic.
Mostly what I accomplished was producing a brown, four letter word, colour product. I produced a lot of it and in varying shades. I also used about $35 of acrylics to produce it (she didn't let me buy brushes yet).
In that two hours I learned -- or learned again -- what I often say about desk top publishing programs, self-made marketers and quick fixes to difficult communication problems: Technique + Time + Talent = Great Marketing.
1. There is a technique (like Ogilvy learned) that works. Donna had mastered the technique. Confident strokes of red, yellow, white, and blue created this amazing tree -- on her canvas. It had depth, shadows, contours, light. Mine was just -- well, thick slashes of that four letter word colour. Rules, test cases, algorithms, demographic research, focus groups (++++++) contribute to a technical knowledge base that informs marketing strategies and increases effectiveness.
2. Then there is time. Time usually indicates experience. Donna has been drawing, painting, illustrating and creating for about 40 years. She spent four years of dedicated educational time in fine arts, experimenting, playing with colour, learning about light, discovering new ideas. I watched for about 10 minutes and tried my hand. And, I admit, patience isn't my greatest attribute. But 15 slashes on a canvas don't constitute "time." In marketing, the experienced marketer learns what works and what doesn't. I know that a clear, concise, focused product offer increases sales -- even though I like complex creativity. If the client is evaluating the marketing strategy on revenue earned, I need to lay down the obscure creativity and sell. There is no replacement for the intelligence of time.
3. Finally, there is talent. Donna sees the images, the colour, the shadows in her head. Her brain and her wrist and her fingers are connected in a way that the brush strokes create art. My brain does not have that connection. I did manage to create an interesting splatter paint on the floor (although Donna washed most of it off because it tended toward looking like that four letter compound). Great marketers know the technique and have mastered it. They have experienced success and failure and understand the difference and the reasons. Plus they have a gut for it. They have an intuitive sense of understanding the nature of inspiring and motivating action. They are able to take all of the things they have learned and know and make it work.
Many people I know are arm chair advertising experts. They just "know" when a commercial works. Interestingly, many of them are wrong. You see, they've used the things they "like" to define marketing that works. They haven't learned the techniques or seen the results to evaluate the effectiveness or have the innate talent.
I'm not going to be an artist in 6, 3 hour lessons. Not even Donna can make that happen. But I have more than 15 years of marketing technique, experience and, I think, some talent!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

While no one can confirm....

How often have I read that in regards to social marketing?
How many businesses have increased their profit margins significantly by their investment into Facebook? Why is it that Fortune 500 companies are slow to adopt social networking tools?
It's hard to understand the full impact of social networking -- just like it's hard to estimate the impact of the influence of friends on purchase choices.
So let's admit it.
In an age when tracking is the most critical component of choosing marketing media effective advertising still requires guts.
That's why we need to imagine.
Imagine the difference when you use all the tools in the most effective way for your business. The brand leaders are already doing it. They are acknowledging that the world as the Admen of the 60's knew it is changing.
Walmart and P&G is talking about producing a movie as a part of their marketing package. Smart retailers are adding web empowered kiosks within their stores so that customers can shop better right in the store, choosing a digital assistant rather than a teen in a red polo shirt. Others are using digital screens throughout the stores for real time sales information, putting to bed the muffled PA service.
I spoke with a client this morning. They need a web site. When I asked what they wanted their clients to do on their web site the silence bounced off of the padded chairs. No idea.
So we began to prod.
It turns out that their clients have really amazing engagement intersections that we discovered after imaging a web site that was a little more innovative. But we had to stop and ask the question.
They came to us because they need a web site -- everyone needs a web site. You can purchase a web site for $500. BUT if you want an effective, marketing focused, engagement oriented web site you have to stop and think before you enter the copy from your most recent brochure into the appropriate content managed boxes.
We live in exciting times... the world is changing. We get to influence that change.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Rise of Mobile...

The Gartner report on Technology predicts:
By 2014, mobile and Internet technology will help over 3 billion of the world's adults to electronically transact. Emerging economies will see increase in mobile and Internet adoption through 2014. Worldwide mobile penetration rate will get to 90%.

Mal Warwick suggests that the three trends posing the greatest challenges to non-profits (and I suggest all organizations and companies) are:
1. The proliferation of new communications tools and technologies
2. Understanding online and offline networks.
3. Multi-channel marketing demanding seamless donor and customer-centered programs.

I read a lot about new technology. The iPad launched last week (not so sure that is new technology, but it certainly caused a buzz). I am very interested in new trends, new opportunities and just where my audiences are.

But I hesitate to throw conventional wisdom aside.

To be a truly strong marketer I have to understand people. I have to be able to read the test cases and spreadsheets. I need to understand the very foundations of human instinct. That’s why I read Shelley’s Frankenstein, Huxley’s Brave New World, Atwood’s The Year of the Flood and Coupland’s Generation A.

The new tools require new ways of applying our knowledge of people.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Strong, Silent Types

Barefoot Creative has a unique position -- we serve both the non-profit community and for-profit business. Both groups are struggling to understand the power of brand.
Oh we understand the brand message through the eyes of Apple, Nike and Toyota. The new iPad and Toyota were top stories all last week. But what about the brand equity of smaller organizations.
The disaster in Haiti has already raised over $500 million in the US alone. The fractured international development community is battling for news coverage and donor dollars. Brand is a huge player in disaster relief. Red Cross has raised more than 2/3 of the money. But they are not the largest player in Haiti. Partners in Health, an organization out of Boston, has a strong physical presence in Haiti. Yet they have only raised a tenth of the money Red Cross has raised. Partners in Health has even received accolades for their work from Stanford Innovation Review -- a leader in non-profit knowledge -- whose policy succinctly states they will not recommend any non-profit. They are strong.... and silent.
The brand equity of the Red Cross (Red Crescent) is so high that people simply give because, from their perspective, the Red Cross is the leader responding to disasters. People trust the Red Cross to use the funds effectively (even though recent reports suggest the Tsunami funds were not all well allocated).
Brand is the underlying strength of companies and organizations. In the media, the strong, silent types rarely make it to the front page.