Monthly Archives: February 2015

Don’t Let Them Call You Half-Assed.

Ah, San Franciso. You’re in LA and you want to get there? Hyperloop Technologies have a vision to make it a 35 minute trip.
Ah, San Franciso. Suppose you’re in LA and you want to go there. Hyperloop Technologies have a vision for a ground transport system than can get you to SF in 35 minutes. Photo with thanks to David Yu.

We read an interview the other day with Kid Rock.

He said something like I’m not just rich, I’m loaded.

Oof … that hits home with a telling statement.

Well, it does say something for not doing things half-way.

Maybe if Steve Jobs was with us he’d fine-tune that and say ‘half-assed’.

Sadly, half-assed describes more than a few efforts when it comes to marketing and advertising.

We’re talking about emails, Websites and online ads that have all the power of a strong general anesthetic.

It’s work the office intern wouldn’t own up to.

More’s the pity.

Because as Kid Rock might remind us, when you go all out and get it right, it pays off in a big way.

You can put that down to the fact that effective creative work usually comes with an  emotional appeal.

When that appeal is at it’s height — when it lifts you to the level of elation — the Japanese have an expression for it.

They say, ‘waku waku doki doki’.

Sounds comedic, doesn’t it? But it’s no leg-pull.

It translates as ‘excitement that sets your heart aflutter with anticipation’.

In our part of the world, the last time we experienced that was with a friend on the morning of her wedding day.

She was all-aflutter. ‘A wonderful madness’ is how her sister described it.

Imagine being able to inject a bit of that emotion into the customers for your products or services.

That’s Toyota’s aim, so why shouldn’t it be yours as well.

Akio Toyoda
Akio Toyoda

In a recent speech, the President of Toyota, Akio Toyoda, said a car must appeal deeply to our emotions.

Nothing new about that.

But he went further.

He used the ‘waku waku doki doki’ expression to describe the level of cars his designers and engineers are intent on producing.

A lofty ambition, but if you aim lower there’s every chance you’ll end up lower.

Another company, Oculus Rift, has its sights set higher with an advanced virtual reality headset for 3D gaming.

It must have caused Mark Zuckerberg’s heart to go all aflutter.

Because after trying it he bought the company for $2 billion.

To set your heart aflutter, there’s Hyperloop Technologies, as unveiled by Elon Musk.

They’re developing a ground transportation system to whisk you from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 35 minutes.

For want of a better description, think of it as a ‘rail gun’ where your transport capsule is the bullet.

Thanks to technology  the gap between ‘what’s ordinary’ and ‘what’s fantastic’ is closing.

But as narrow as that gap has become, it’s impossible to bridge without big ideas.

That’s a thought that should encourage you to reassess your marketing efforts and set your creative sights higher.

That way you can leave all the half-assed emails, Web work and content to those who deserve it.

Your competitors.

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Advertising That’s Enough To Give An Aspirin a Headache.

No doubt you’ve endured it. Advertising that’s dull, inert, hectoring – advertising that could give an aspirin a headache.
No doubt you’ve endured it. Advertising that’s dull, inert, hectoring … advertising that could give an aspirin a headache.

Are you thinking most commercials and content should be ignored?

A show of hands at a recent seminar confirmed that thought.

After all, when you disrupt people with boring or confusing messaging you’re often in for one thing.

Olympic-class complainers.

Currently there’s a headache-inducing spot for one of the major cable companies.

It convinces you that those who approved it are at best sales-challenged.

The commercial opens with a price they want you to think is low.

Then comes the line: ‘and that’s not a promotional price’.

As you patiently wait, they don’t give you the promotional price.

Well, think about it.

If you really wanted to pay less, wouldn’t you put off buying and wait for the promotional price? All urgency is shot to hell.

There’s got to be a better way than stumbling along with this sort of confusion.

What happened to thinking that goes something like this:

‘How right you were to wait. This is our best offer yet. But only for the next 48 hours. So calll now for a savings that rewards your patience’.

Where did that come from? Not from me.

It’s test-proven, moneymaking thinking you can adapt to your advantage from the advertising books by John Caples.

Many public libraries have his Tested Advertising Methods and his How To Make Your Advertising Make Money.

But there’s a question you might have about John Caples.

In the Digital Age why should you read direct marketing books that were published long ago? In the 1960s.

What could John Caples tell you about 2015 target audiences and the electronic age?

The answer is technology has changed, but one thing remains constant.


Your customers and prospects are still human. They react emotionally with their own particular needs and desires.

To stop them, to relate to them, to lengthen their attention spans and to create the moment someone buys, we all need ideas as well as technology.

That’s where John Caples comes in with direct marketing thinking that can get people to act.

A CMO we know summed it up with this thought …

‘What’s digital communication, if not direct marketing on steroids. Everything you do online is aimed at getting a response. Those who win know how to optimize that response.’

The ideas you’ll see in Tested Adverting Methods and How To Make Your Advertising Pay have been proven to get response. They work.

Use them and you’re armed with proven thinking that can lower your risk of investing your dollars in marketing.

Equally, you’ll see ideas that can make it easier for you to compete.

Who’d turn a blind eye to that?

As we’re all looking for better response rates, I’m betting John Caples can help you.

Look at his ideas as a starting point for your thinking.

Use those ideas, adapt them, add to them, make them work for you and your product or service.

When you proceed with a John Caples take on selling it won’t be your customers who’ll have a headache.

It’ll be your competitors.

Especially when you lure their customers away.

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How Do You Evaluate Your Agency’s Creative Ideas?

Columbia MBA candidates study companies like Coca-Cola, BMW, Samsung, Procter & Gamble, Apple and Disney. But then, don't we all?
Columbia MBA candidates study companies like Coca-Cola, BMW, Samsung, Procter & Gamble, Apple and Disney. More to this, there’s a comment about products making the rounds. Maybe you’ve heard it. ‘If it was made by Apple they’d run out of stock in no time flat’. The world’s auto makers might be worried about that as it’s rumored Apple has plans for a car.

If the Nationwide dead boy spot were handled any better it might reach the ill-judged level.

When you’re enjoying the biggest TV event of the year do you really want a dead child on your screen?

Okay, okay … enough about tragedy dampening the spirits.

No use tearing strips off on this spot. It’s been given a verbal kicking in just about every Starbucks you could walk into last week.

Still, we wondered who approved this commercial? How qualified were they?

Which is why we’ve been looking into the MBA courses at Columbia School of Business.

What do future marketing directors learn?

How do they become effective planners, skillful communicators and active contributors to the bottom line?

As you’d expect, Columbia has courses like Corporate Finance, Business Analytics, Managerial Economics, and Investment Banking Tax Factors.

‘Leadership’ also has its place.

One course is called ‘Lead: People, Teams, Organizations’.

That seems promising in the light of difficulties in companies like Sony, Radio Shack, JC Penny and Tesco.

Then there’s Marketing.

What catches your eye is a course called ‘Strategic Consumer Insights’.

MBA candidates study companies like Coca-Cola, BMW, Samsung, Procter & Gamble, Apple and Disney.

The focus is on how consumers think, feel and make product choices.

As the course description says, ‘It’s designed to help students become astute discoverers of business-relevant consumer insights’.

We all need to be past masters of that, right?

But what about the creative work itself? Like a script for a Super Bowl spot that lands on your desk for evaluation and approval.

Are up and coming marketing directors learning how to judge creative work?

In a world where success is compulsory, are they learning to ask questions like:

Is the strategy, itself, creative?

Is the input to the brief for the creative team

thoroughly researched?

Has the agency gone far enough to come up

with the right solution?

Does the work create a point of difference for

the product?

Is the work smart and uncomplicated?

Is the work relevant/pertinent/appropriate and a

significant step ahead of the competition?

Will the only person who counts — the customer — value

the creative experience?

Does the work inspire a new interest

in the product?

Is the work convincing enough to change the

situation in the marketplace?

It’s not readily apparent from the Columbia catalogue if MBA students are taught to think along these lines. Let’s hope they are.

But before the above questions and a Columbia MBA at $96,468 a year, there’s one thing that can keep you out of trouble.


Isn’t that the best starting point for any Super Bowl spot?

Share with us. Leave your comments in the box below Thanks for reading Regards, Steve Ulin. LinkedIn: