It's all about the STORY!

Archive for the ‘Advertising’ Category

Best use of social media for business

A quick word on how to best use social media–folks, this is a powerful communication tool. It is NOT… I repeat… NOT a replacement for in-person relationships. Rather, social media is an enhancement to in-person relationships. It helps you stay in touch with people you’ve met in person or who have similar interests as you do. It helps you communicate with those individuals and the public at large (depending on your privacy settings) — to communicate who you are and what you are all about.

It helps you brand YOU, and you control the content. Let people know what matters to you, what you know, what your opinions are and even, if you want to share this — where you spend your time and show a bit of your sense of humor. It can, in some cases, lead to in-person introductions as well and real-time networking opportunities, events and causes. Too often I hear people that have a misconception that social media dehumanizes and disconnects real personal relationships. When used properly, I assure you, it can enhance relationships significantly–both personal and professional.


Ethel the aardvark goes quantity surveying

This post is all about titles–so, it will be a brief post. Another list of 7:

Ethel the aardvark

  1. What’s in a name? Everything! It’s your first hook to your audience and potential audience. Get their attention! It also is a hyper-brief summary, description and perhaps a foreshadow of what’s to be found in the content.
  2. Creativity is good in a title, but what’s more important is its impact and accuracy. Sometimes getting too creative can destroy the objective–confusing people hardly ever makes a good title (there are very, very, very rare exceptions–like the title of this post… Ha!).
  3. Brevity: one word, two, three, four, five–powerful titles. Beyond that, you’re writing a tag-line or something else.
  4. Title as starting point: It’s okay to start your [article, story, novel, play, etc.] with a title and work from there. However, once the full work is created, and the full spirit of it is surging through every cell of your body, go back and examine your title again. Strengthen it, change it, tighten it… make it a necessary part of the whole.
  5. Examine other titles of things–all kinds of things: books, essays, headlines, short stories, movies–what made certain titles stronger than others? What did you like better about one over another? What can you learn and what knowledge can you apply from examining other titles?
  6. It’s a boy!!! Remember–you truly are giving your work its first name, similar to naming a child. Make sure you love it–that it means something to you for you to say it, repeat it, call it and scold it.
  7. “Ethel the aardvark goes quantity surveying” is a fictional title made up by the geniuses of Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

Paul Wilson–internet radio guest on Rhino on Air’s “Write At Five”

Hear local advertising mogul Paul Wilson of WILSONMedia as Paul talks about the creative process and the business of communications along with his Memorial Day benefit concert with his brothers. Paul joined us live at the Rhino on Air studios for our radio show “Write At Five” where we interview local (and sometimes national) guests for a weekly radio show all about writing. Listen in here: PODCAST

Paul Wilson, president WILSONMedia

Thought of the day: Competition means partnership (AKA: The world is flat, and competition looks different)

Are you in charge of keeping your business afloat? Relevant? competitive? Sustainable? Yes? Then, my friend, you have much to worry about.

You have much to worry about unless words such as diversification, collaborations, change-management, resource-sharing and partnership are central to your business philosophy. Beyond incorporating these key words in meaningful ways, perhaps the most important part of this newly-needed philosophy is redefining your concept of competition.

Today’s competitive edge is far from the 80s version–kill or be killed and destroy your adversaries; wipe out the competition so that

Samurai Competition

you’re the only one left standing.

Why doesn’t this philosophy work any longer? Because the world is flat. The world is flat due to advanced communications and globalization. The world is flat because customers and clients can reach all corners of the globe to get the goods and services they want and need. The customers and clients–your target population–in your community no longer need you. You need them. Redefining your concept of competition is a powerful method of cultivating them.

At the end of the day, it’s all about value. Some things have never and will never change about business, and central to these constants in a free market is value. Customers and clients will seek it out and build their loyalty around it. So, the question is, are you as valuable as you can be?

A key way to raising the value of your business is through partnerships and resource-sharing. This doesn’t necessarily mean bringing partners into your business to run things and work with you and your team to make things happen. What it does mean is looking around for your competitors, getting to know them and the services they provide, looking for the unique–looking for value. Then, see how you can leverage your difference to share referrals and team up on projects, utilizing one anothers’ expertise. Very few pros are equally good at everything, so look for ways to share resources in niche markets. This will increase your value in the eyes of your public and demonstrate that you and your partner(s) are innovators in your field working together to provide the absolute best for your customers and clients.

Look at your competition differently–they are your greatest potential allies, and working together, you can each raise the value of offerings to your customers and clients. By viewing competition as partners, everyone wins.

This is all about game theory for business. Wiping out your competitors could concel you out, too. Better to collaborate than lose everything.

Here is an example–a florist delivery cooperative shares resources on delivery services so that flower deliveries going to the same zip code end up on one truck from a variety of florists’ orders:

What Poker, WoW and Chess mean to marketing… (AKA: Game theory and cultivating market research)

Games–the word brings different meanings to different people, from cards and gambling to board games on rainy days or smart phone apps  with angry birds attacking defenseless pigs to massively multiplayer online games (MMOG) such as World of Warcraft. Games capture the attention of people across the globe, hooking them into an experience that requires skill, attention to detail, concentration and often strategy and high levels of thinking. People young and old and everything in between love games, and savvy marketers have learned how to apply game theory to gathering intelligence about target markets.

There are specific traits of games that entice people to play them:

  1. It’s interactive–players do something and engage in a game.
  2. There is often an imaginary element to a game–players can transport themselves into another world, environment, character, space and time.
  3. It’s competitive–even if players only compete with themselves to get to another level or to receive a response that they want, there’s an element of achievement.
  4. Visual–using pictures, graphics and even animation to tell a story or further engage players–games are often highly visual.
  5. Rewards–games have an element of reward, and this can include anything from unveiling more information a player may want to receive to just attaining high scores and potentially comparing scores with friends and other players.
  6. Brain power–games require thought, whether they engage strategy, skill, knowledge or a complex combination of these elements, the brain is activated, and players get hooked.

What does this have to do with marketing? I’m glad you asked. Innovative marketers have learned that they can develop games, including all of the elements above, to collect valuable information about players–otherwise known as respondents in marketing lingo. In other words, market research in the form of a game, versus a bland survey, can be used to collect complex, valuable information about target markets. Research has demonstrated that players are far more likely to engage higher levels of thought and consider more complex elements to provide information collected if they are engaged in a game versus answering questions in traditional market research surveys. They are also more likely to return to the game and spending far longer periods of time providing enhanced information depending on the game’s structure and interactivity between multiple players.

Think about it. How can you use game theory to amplify your communications and marketing strategies? Hint: It can go far beyond market research and include customer service, e-commerce and multiple other systems in business. Get creative, and the applications are nearly limitless. It’s all bout engaging your target market more completely and collecting valuable information. Collective intelligence is the real name of the game.





Communications: Games and Advertising (AKA: Angry Birds vs. Pogo Sweet Tooth)

On-line games and advertising, it’s a natural combination. Ads want to collect the attention of eyeballs. Period. Collecting the attention of targeted eyeballs is even better–eyeballs generally attracted to a certain lifestyle, recreational activity or demographic. While this has always been true of every sort of ad, on-line ads have an advantage–they can be interactive.

Let’s face it, traditional on-line ads have a bad rep. In fact, if traditional on-line advertising had a personality, it would be my gaudy, drunken uncle wearing his circa 1970s polyester leisure suit, making an obnoxious toast, insulting every guest sitting around the Thanksgiving Day table. Banner ads, pop-up ads, customized ads–flashing, blinking, blurring, distracting and obstructing your view from the content or game or other on-line experience you intended to consume–have become an unfortunate part of the commercial web-based landscape.

Games, however, have found ways to integrate ads into the user-experience, often triggering urges in gamers to go get the product, now. They borrowed the concept of product placement from TV and movies and put the impact of these things on steroids, having gamers interact with the products in the games they are playing. is notorious for this, advertizing such products as ice cream and orange juice. They insert name brand items into the games as an integrated part of the game that gamers must interact with to participate in the game.

Seeing the enticing graphic of a tub of strawberry ice cream over and over again, that you must concentrate on to complete your game, gets your sense memory going about what that ice cream tastes like, feels like and where you can go get some. Same goes for the frosty carton of orange juice. Yes, I admit to falling victim to this manipulative device, and have stopped playing a game craving and even going out to get the product I was playing with.

This reminds me of an older ad campaign by the now obscure Blimpie sandwich and sub shop. They played this TV ad late at night in college towns, knowing the nocturnal habits of college students who are often up late studying or partying or both and who are always on the prowl for easy, tasty, cheap food. Blimpie, which was often open late at night and even 24 hours in some cases, played a TV ad that just showed a giant sub sandwich and the Blimpie logo, saying over and over again in a strange tone, “Blimpie,” “Blimpie…” Sales for Blimpie skyrocketed as a result.

There are other games, however, that are wildly popular, such as app games like Angry Birds. App games are still using the banner and pop-up ads as their primary source of revenue, allowing for the free download of the app. While I appreciate the free games, I feel compelled to report that I have never, not once, clicked through to an ad. Not ony will I not click-through, I don’t know what the ads are–I just see them as distractions as I’m trying to concentrate on a game, much like buzzers and flashing lights in a casino.

Now, make me play with the products in the game–you’ll have my attention. If Angry Birds were made to knock down piles of Campbell’s Tomato Soup cans and Ritz Crackers, I’ll notice. I’ll likely even have these products on my lunch menu in the very near future after playing with them often enough. I wouldn’t want to see this on every level of the game, but maybe the first game of each set would be enough to reinforce the message.

And because I can’t help myself, if this is true of products, what about other types of messaging such as social marketing–spreading prevention messages for health and behavioral health issues or other social problems such as bullying and violence prevention. What great things we could communicate through games!


Cause Marketing–transformative communicating

As a long-time professional in the nonprofit industry, specifically focusing on substance abuse and mental illness issues, this is a subject I know well–cause marketing. While it is a subject I know well, it’s interesting that I am witness to the fact that few grassroots organizations participate in cause marketing at all. In fact, most of the experience I have acquired in this particular realm of nonprofits was due in great part to my instance that perhaps the organization just try it out. Just consider that it might possibly be helpful to market and that no harm could come of it. Strange, you may think, as all businesses know that marketing is critical to building and sustaining a brand and loyal followers/customers, right? Well, nonprofits are a rare breed of business.

Many nonprofits have become so accustomed to receiving direct referrals from institutions such as courts, jails, prisons, shelters and hospitals that marketing only consisted of maintaining those long-term relationships with a select few funding entities and referral sources. Keeping staff salaries and program expenses covered was a job for grant writers and development and managed care officers. Well, if anyone has been paying attention, there’s not so much money going around in grant land these days, and philanthropy is a dark, dry, empty place. That’s not to say that these resources don’t still exist, but the landscape and substance is changing, making these funding options less lucrative and far more restrictive when the money does arrive. For instance, you might have luck getting your program funded, but good luck repairing that leaky roof or paying for all of the unfunded mandates the grant requires such as tracking and reporting complex outcomes and participant statistics, etc.

Enter the solution of cause marketing! Here’s what marketers for centuries have known:

  1. Develop a quality product and/or service
  2. Wrap around solid and reliable development and delivery methods–make sure your customers can get what they want within reasonable time frames consistently
  3. Make certain there is a method of quality customer service provided to address customer needs and concerns
  4. Ensure that the products and/or services available are of high quality and competitively priced
  5. …and we the marketers will make sure that specific target audiences know the product and/or service is here, that it is valuable to the market and that it solves or changes something for the better–marketers help solidify the branding among target markets and build a culture for customers to walk in the door and keep walking in the door.This str

This formula is no different for nonprofits. Go ahead and market. Pay attention to the unique needs of your target markets and develop services to answer those needs. They will pay for it. That’s how supply and demand works. Go out on a limb and be daring, and go all the way. Don’t hold back, because reservation is the house of failure. It’s okay that you’ve never done it this way before–dream big and charter new grounds. Be the innovators and leaders in your field. Let the public and your target markets know you are here, listening to them,  responsive to them and are committed to answering their needs.

If you’re a nonprofit who serves populations experiencing poverty, then give your philanthropic pleas a face-lift. Remember Twain’s story of  “Tom Sawyer and the White Washed Fence.” Make giving to your cause something special, an honor for philanthropists to be a part of. Stop begging and instead be exactly what they want to support. Find out what your target philanthropists value most, and ensure that you organization mirrors those values. And all the while seek out cues from for-profit businesses to assist in generating income. Create jobs and help develop skills within your service population by developing a business venture. Market the whole package to venture capitalists and to the community, soliciting cash contributions for seed money. Do NOT think outside of the box, whatever that means. Throw the box away and create a real solution, and market that.

Cause marketing should be the new development trend within nonprofits to help them reinvent themselves and transform their services to better meet the needs and changes of the culture here and now.

Tag Cloud