Category Archives: Blog

What’s Wrong With Algorithms?

Bill Bernbach

In 1947, two years before Bill Bernbach opened Doyle Dane Bernbach he wrote this:

“There are a lot of great technicians in advertising. And unfortunately they talk the best game. They know all the rules. They can tell you that people in an ad will get you greater readership. They can tell you that a sentence should be this short or that long. They can tell you that body copy should be broken up for easier more inviting reading. They can give you fact after fact. They are the scientists of advertising. But there’s one little rub. Advertising is fundamentally persuasion and persuasion happens to be not a science, but an art.”

Today’s marketers might want to print out these 97 words and tape them to their office walls.

They’re a reminder.

Advanced techniques in computational sciences have yet to produce one thing that’s key for marketers.

Persuasion.

 

 

 

Irredentist. Does That Describe You?

Irredentist. Is that some special kind of dentist?

What’s an irredentist?

It came up the other day.

A non-native English speaker in the next office wanted to know.

She’s forever curious to learn.

Does it have something to do with drilling teeth?

We looked it up.

Irredentism is reclaiming and reoccupying lands you believe belong to you.

It’s re-establishing your control over a territory.

In 1982 Argentina’s junta demanded the Falkland Islands back from Britain.

That’s irredentism.

Of course, Mrs. Thatcher thought otherwise.

She sent the fleet to the South Atlantic and sunk the battleship General Belgrano.

Bad luck for the Argies, but understandably everyone wants back what they feel belongs to them.

Including creative people in ad agencies.

Many want to re-take control from business types, financial gurus and planners.

Reason for that comes down to holding company supremos and agency business managers. They seem to be chasing what clients say an ad agency should be instead of defining it.

Misguided, right?

Shouldn’t an ad agency’s identity be driven by brilliant strategies and creative work?

Instead, you get the feeling agency CEOs are often hamstrung fighting rearguard actions against improprieties.

Like supposed over-billing on digital advertising.

Like complaints from marketing companies having to pay for online ads that consumers don’t see. (Is it only robots who see them?)

Like Facebook’s admission last year. They inflated the average time people spent watching video ads.

Plenty of grumbling on those points, but what about great creative work, when will it make a resurgence to become the talking point?

Not soon enough according to some, like the Ad Contrarian Bob Hoffman.

Have a look at his presentation ‘Marketers Are From Mars, Consumers Are From New Jersey’. http://bit.ly/2pUl8cA

Others critical of drab work and mistakes marketers make (like ignoring the most lucrative demographic today: the over 50s) say we’re writing for search engines, not people … search engines that can’t detect emotion, subtlety, irony or humor.

You often hear gripes about that in seminars that go something like this : ‘too many strategies have no force of personality’.

‘Too many ads are dim and wearily familiar.’

Ads like that are the daydream of those who haven’t bothered to read about, understand and use tested advertising methods.

Equally, more than a few marketers take direction from only one source: themselves.

That kind of insularity ensures you’re limited to what’s merely passable instead of what’s exceptional.

One wonders, how do you get away with creative work that’s fallen off a cliff when it comes to anything emotional, gripping and breakthrough?

With ad agencies, isn’t brilliance supposed to be compulsory?

If your selling message isn’t read, what hope do you have of making an impression, let alone a sale? Bill Bernbach was of that mind.

But a new kind of ad agency could help.

Especially if it’s an irredentist one.

 

 

 

The Aztecs Were Shortsighted. Some Marketers Are The Same.

It was here, but it vanished. The Aztec empire.

You may know a bit about the Aztecs.

National Geographic has had more than a few articles on them.

Then there are the conquistador movies. Netflix has some.

If you studied the Aztecs at school you know human sacrifice featured in a big way.

Chests were slit open with obsidian knives and still beating hearts were plucked out to be held aloft to appease the gods … there’s an image for you.

The ritual was to ensure the crops flourished and women didn’t die in childbirth.

Something about it must have found favor with the gods as the Aztec empire was no small affair.

It was a union of three powerful city states controlling Mesoamerica in the 15th century.

Still, the civilization was defeated quickly with the arrival of the conquistadors.

Surprisingly enough it was only a small force, less than 700 soldiers.

Anthropologists tell us the collapse was the result of naiveté about war. A blindness to a more worldly, European view of battle.

The Aztec approach was to take prisoners — that was the measure of victory.

The more prisoners the better as captives were needed for human sacrifice.

Call it a cultural necessity

But against the Spanish it led to a bloodbath.

Aztec beliefs blinded them to the menace.

Which brings us to the way some marketers can be vision-challenged.

That stems from seeing technology as a silver bullet, the answer to all their problems.

Of course, gee-whiz delivery systems, new platforms and big data are a breakthrough, but less so when they blind you to the importance of ideas.

Shouldn’t ideas come first if you expect to change minds and win hearts?

Without ideas messaging is a about as effective as a dog with no nose.

There’s little chance a hound like that will hunt.

More to that, why invest in technology when the messaging you deliver can only intensify boredom.

That has to be mush-headed and self-defeating, right?

We regularly hear what’s needed is persuasion.

But what about brilliance, shouldn’t that be compulsory?

It was in the past.

We’re talking about a level of brilliance that comes with messaging that’s strong on wit, charm and reasoned arguments.

Without that you’re left with little more than a disagreeable intrusion.

So, do you know marketers who can’t see past technology to realize ideas are key?

If so, tell them they have a problem.

Like the one that undid the Aztecs.

 

Improvement. And Improvement.

One area where the Panthers are still up there. But next year on the field we're looking for one thing. Improvement.
One area where the Panthers are still up there. But next year on the field we’re looking for one thing. Improvement.

A third grade teacher sweeps into the classroom throwing out a question to her kids.

Good morning, children, tell us, what’s the smallest room?

Like a well-trained chorus the class responds as one: a mushroom.

Well, of course it is.

Pleased with the answer, the teacher continues.

Now, children, tell us, what’s the largest room?

The answer comes with enthusiasm as thirty kids shout: room for improvement.

There you have it in a story that comes from the English writer Laurie Lee. The point, of course, is that we can always do better.

The possibility of improvement never leaves us.

More to that, if your marketing and advertising is already excellent, you can always aim for one thing better.

The high side of excellence.

Just about every coach of a sport is probably drilling that into the heads their team. Making it second nature.

On the topic of sport, it’s been a few  weeks since the Super Bowl.

So let’s hope those marketers who bought spots — whether great, just okay or rubbish — are well into doing more.

Going for the high side of excellence, so to speak.

Not just with TV, but across all channels.

Let’s hope they’re planning to do wonders with everything from trade shows to emails, podcasts, Web, white papers, out-of-home ideas and more.

Even with the smallest job there’s always room for a big idea. Bill Bernbach said that.

Business sense tells us the Super Bowl shouldn’t be the one time of the year people get interested in brands.

Happily, that brief interlude can be extended with a bit of creative thinking.

After all, why limit improvement to just one cold Sunday in February.

Why not go for communications that rivet people no matter what date is showing on the calendar.

So, how about starting right now?

Aren’t you planning to impact your target audience before heading home from the office tonight?

You could manage it with an Instagram or a Tweet.

All you need is a brilliant idea; something to stop people.

Maybe you could use a happening that comes from today’s news.

The best agencies are always on the lookout for timely ad opportunities.

The Oreo ‘Blackout’ Tweet is an example of that.

The result of a timely ad benefits you in two ways.

You can outshine the competition and create a better brand experience for your customers.

Think about it for a moment. Isn’t there room for improvement on both counts?

Share with us. Leave your comment below. Thanks for reading Whybetonto.com. Regards, Steve Ulin. LinkedIn: http://bit.ly/20Imgh3

 

Bright Or Brilliant? Smart Pills May Make All The Difference.

More aspects to the mind. Greater perspective. Can smart pill do that?
More aspects to the mind. Greater perspective. Can smart pills do that?

Many say techies and business people are getting brainer in Silicon Valley.

Or should we say Silicon Valley of the Dolls?

‘Dolls’ is code for pills as in Jacqueline Susann’s book, Valley of the Dolls.

But this time we have smart pills sling-shotting intelligence higher in the Bay Area and beyond.

One smart pill is Modafinil. Prescription only, it was developed for narcolepsy.

You could run across it as Alertec, Modavigil, and Provigil, as well.

Here the benefit is increased cognitive ability that comes with an impressive checklist:

Mental consistency.

Sharper memory and the ability to concentrate.

An easy way to solve complex problems.

Online reviews come with revealing quotes:

‘Brilliantly awake’.

‘You’ve got new purpose, direction and will.’

‘Brain 2.0’.

‘What’s interesting suddenly becomes fascinating. You’re in gear; any inability is airbrushed away.’

Those remarks make you wonder, don’t they?

The thing is with Modafinil, neurotransmitters in the brain gain an unfair advantage. Science becomes your genie.

Now for a definition …

Wikipedia says Modafinil is a Dopamine Reuptake Inhibitor, whatever that may be.

We’re thinking it’s an upper of sorts.

Maybe your kids can tell you.

By more than a few accounts high school and college students use Modafinil to ace tests.

Getting a 91 is good, but a 97 gets you closer to Summa Cum Laude.

It’s said the Army was smart-pill-empowered in Iraq.

We’ll, an Abrams Tank is mighty, however it’s even better when manned by a brilliant driver, right?

But hold on a minute, the lights are turning amber on smart pills.

The reason for writing today is to pass on a caution.

A marketer we know purchased Modafinil on the Internet.

The result was nil, no effect.

He bought fakes.

But that’s not as bad as ingesting something that could play havoc with your health and wellbeing.

There’s counterfeiting with Modafinil and other pharmaceuticals. Forgeries extend to medical devices and hospital equipment.

Maybe the fake Rolex watchmakers are looking for new revenue streams.

Of course, there’s risk involved with fakes and maybe the real stuff. No long-term studies have been done on Modafinil.

Still, if Silicon Valley starts wowing us even more than usual we can hazard a guess at one thing.

Someone’s neurotransmitters are getting extra help.

Share with us. Leave your comment below. Thanks for reading Whybetonto.com. Regards, Steve Ulin. LinkedIn: http://bit.ly/20Imgh3

 

First, A Little Music …

Ground Control to Major Tom Ground Control to Major Tom Take your protein pill and put your helmet on. -- David Bowie
Ground Control to Major Tom
Ground Control to Major Tom
Take your protein pill
and put your helmet on.
— David Bowie

Nobody spits at the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

They’re pretty great no matter what your religion may be.

An American icon … that describes them.

But the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing ‘God So Loved the World’ is fully expected.

Nothing new about that.

It confirms what we already know and believe about them.

So to widen interest and engagement how about something a bit more surprising.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir doing Space Oddity, Ziggy Stardust or Life On Mars?

It’s the MTC meets David Bowie, so to speak.

With a bit of enlightened orchestration the Bowie pieces could be musically remarkable.

Well, don’t laugh just yet; the Daily Mail reported last week that the Archbishop of Canterbury is a Bowie fan.

The point here for business people is maybe we should begin to think beyond accepted beliefs and avoid what’s predictable.

Too many absorb the thinking in their work environment and run with it – no questions asked.

More’s the pity because those individuals aren’t exploring their own potential.

The likelihood of discovering something better remains pretty small.

What was it Steve Jobs said?

We don’t hire smart people and tell them what to do.

We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.

Of course, that can change everything for a brand.

So can ideas.

Remember ideas?

One negative of advertising today is that the technology is modern but the ideas aren’t always so.

Which is why those who go for the unexpected get attention.

Old Spice, Snickers and the Honda work in the UK succeed with strong ideas.

Space Oddity, which you probably heard several times last week, still gets your attention despite the fact it was written ages ago.

The reason is that it was a good idea in the first place.

It endures.

If you happen to be the choral master of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir you might want to make a mental note of that.

Share with us. Leave your comment below. Thanks for reading Whybetonto.com. Regards, Steve Ulin LinkedIn: http://linkd.in/1Bey3Jl

 

Are You Looking in the Wrong Place For Digital Knowledge?

See the Internet for what it really is. As Malcolm Auld tells us, it's a pure Direct Marketing platform.
For knowledge about Direct Marketing and how to create more effective messaging, see the books below.

Some marketers seem to be better analysts than problem solvers.

They can sense difficulties in the marketplace but they’re not as cluey in dealing with them.

A case in point is optimizing brands in the Digital Age.

More than a few marketing people and traditional agencies have said they’re ‘steering into the unknown’.

Or they’re ‘feeling their way’ through it.

If that frames the situation, one wonders … how do you correct it? How do you advance?

For that, it’s always an idea turn to the experts.

One in particular is Malcolm Auld. His blog is www.themalcolmauldblog.com and it’s well worth bookmarking.

Malcolm Auld defines the Internet as ‘a pure Direct Marketing platform’.

How right he is.

But this surprises many marketers and traditional agencies we know.

Their take is that Digital is futuristic, not something from the past.

Well, it’s true technology has changed, but people haven’t.

They continue to be human and they’re motivated by their emotions.

Equally, ‘response’ is what we value today as it leads to attitude changes and the moment someone acts or buys.

If that need for ‘response’ doesn’t define Direct Marketing, then what does?

So it stands to reason that a bit of knowledge about DM techniques can help.

Especially if it can take the guesswork out of creating content on the Web.

If you and your team value learning for gaining and renewing skills, there are plenty of books to give you a grounding in Direct Marketing.

It’s a grounding that benefits you with knowledge you can adapt for Digital communications.

Start with these five titles:

Common Sense Direct and Digital Marketing – Drayton Bird

 Tested Advertising Methods – John Caples 


 Scientific Advertising – Claude Hopkins


 How to Write a Good Advertisement – Victor Schwab

 The Robert Collier Letter Book – Robert Collier


Time spent with these books should give you a clearer idea of how to get results you can test and measure.

By helping you create more effective messaging it can lower your risk of investing dollars in marketing.

It can make it easier for you to compete.

And at a time when you want to be a more effective it can help you become one thing better than a marketer.

A Direct Marketer who can get people to respond.

Share with us. Leave your comment below. Thanks for reading Whybetonto.com. Regards, Steve Ulin LinkedIn: http://linkd.in/1Bey3Jl

Order Online, Get Your Delivery By Drone in 30 Minutes.

A problem for UFO hunters, an advantage for the rest of us. When Amazon starts delivering orders with drones.
Confusion for UFO hunters, but an advantage for the rest of us. When Amazon starts delivering orders with drones.

Here’s a story the author Joseph Heller told about writers and an unusual way to buy a book.

Years ago in Manhattan bookstores like Doubleday on Fifth Avenue novelists stole the show.

They set up their manual typewriters in the shop window and worked on their latest book.

Anyone happening by on the sidewalk could see an author typing away or gazing into space to figure out a twist in the plot.

As pages were written they were taped to the inside of the window for all to see.

Often crowds gathered in front of this goldfish bowl as it came with no small measure of curiosity.

If you went inside you could pre-order the book and it would be signed for you when published.

With Amazon there might be a way to revive the ‘unpublished pages promotion’, albeit in a slightly different way.

It could be a way for Amazon to introduce the drone delivery service they’re developing.

As you probably know it’s called Amazon Prime.

Order something online and you’ll be able to have it delivered within 30 minutes. Depending on where you live, of course.

If you happen to be a Maine lighthouse keeper you’ll have seagulls for company, not the Amazon Drone.

So how do you get a delivery?

They’re working on it. But we’ve heard you might be supplied with a large Amazon logo stamped on a plastic sheet.

Your role in the delivery process is to lay the logo out in your backyard or on your apartment rooftop.

Presumably that’s how the drone zeros in on you.

As you read this, a drones-only airspace is being proposed and Federal flight regulations are being hammered out.

Meanwhile, to promote the service, sample pages from an unpublished book could be drone-dropped to you 30 minutes after the author writes them.

Too bad we didn’t have this when JK Rowling was going full blast with Harry Potter.

A drone service might prompt you to order all that goes with a good book.

Reading glasses, a standard lamp, a bookshelf and a set of wine glasses.

Maybe even an easy chair, as a drone’s hauling capacity can be surprising.

In years to come you might be able to order a piano online and have it flown in.

After all, some military drones can manage a takeoff weight of three tons.

As Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon might tell you, that amounts to more than a few books.

Share with us. Leave your comment below. Thanks for reading Whybetonto.com. Regards, Steve Ulin LinkedIn: http://linkd.in/1Bey3Jl

 

 

 

‘I’d Rather Set Fire To My Own Hair Than Read Boring Content.’ So Says Our Intern.

Content without a powerful headline is like handing someone a newspaper with the front page torn off ...
Content without a powerful headline is like handing someone a newspaper with the front page torn off and …

If you’re anything like people in our office, you’d rather set fire to your own hair than read boring ads, emails, and Websites.

They’re a chore.

You’d be right to say many are indifferent; they’re often just time-expired ideas, leaving you with the feeling you’re on a hopeless journey.

Why bother.

What’s worse is content without a strong headline. You’re left with a wodge of words that do little to stir curiosity.

Just hold this in your hands and try to get interested.
… expecting them to get interested .

Content without an intriguing headline is like handing someone a newspaper with the front page torn off and expecting them to get interested.

It’s not going to happen, is it?

If you’re writing a Tweet, a landing page or say, a social media post about a brand of raspberry jam, why not say something unexpected?

Something that’s not the usual bollocks.

Remember that old rule about not being allowed to watch TV on a school night?

That could well apply to buckling down after hours to learn how to write better headlines.

A place for marketers and agency people to start is The Copywriter’s Bible.

It shows you how 32 of the world’s best advertising writers write their copy.

It’s where you’ll find an escape from all that’s dull and inert.

It’s applicable to the Digital Age or any age as it’s about triggering human motivation.

Dare we say it, that includes sales.

Remember selling?

Here you’ll learn how to communicate with wit, charm and reasoned thinking.

An example is an ad that ran in the UK for The Solicitors’ Regional Directory.

On the face of it that sounds like a book that’s dead boring. A yawn.

The visual for the ad is three conservative looking men in suits carrying briefcases. Three straight arrows.

The headline is ‘Which one of these men do you think would be best at rape?’

It turns out that the men are all solicitors. One is better at bankruptcy, one at property and one at crime.

The Solicitors’ Regional Directory helps you choose the best legal representative for the job when you’re in dire need.

As when you or someone close to you has been raped.

Suddenly The Solicitors’ Regional Directory becomes valuable. Essential, really.

Of course, headlines and content should always be good enough to raise the value of a product.

They should add to its worth and help to polish the brand.

Anything less and your customers are left to do one thing.

Set fire to their own hair.

Share with us. Leave your comment below. Thanks for reading Whybetonto.com. Regards, Steve Ulin LinkedIn: http://linkd.in/1Bey3Jl

 

‘We’re Passionate About What We Do, Blah Blah Blah. ’

Lions in Botswana’s swampy Okavango Delta have learned to swim to pursue their prey. Imagine it, lions as part of marine life.
Lions in Botswana’s swampy Okavango Delta have learned to swim to pursue their prey. Imagine it, lions as part of marine life.

‘We’re Passionate about what we do’

How many times have you heard that self-serving guff?

Website content is often like a broken record with that claim.

You’re expected to take it at face value and be impressed.

Fat chance as the ‘passionate’ statement seems to be dotted all across the Internet.

With over-use, it sounds like the symptom of a mental breakdown from those too lazy think of anything better than talking about themselves.

It makes you wonder … wouldn’t it be more profitable to crow less and talk more about why customers should do business with you.

How about addressing the what’s-in-it-for-me question?

Here’s a travel site that does just that, smallworldtraveler.com.

We’re betting those who run the site are every bit as passionate, innovative and committed as anyone else.

Probably more so.

But you won’t see that vague and inadequate word, passionate, in their branding.

Adventure is their reason for being; they elaborate brilliantly on it to stop you and lengthen your attention span.

They’re promoting global journeys of discovery for families.

Small World Travel is where you go to arrange expeditions with your kids to 7 continents.

To frozen oceans, volcanic archipelagos, lost cities and places like say, Botswana.

There you can do things like live in the bush and experience something of a lion’s eye view of the world.

At times you’d have to call that an underwater world.

Because lions in Botswana’s swampy Okavango Delta have learned to swim to pursue their prey.

Imagine it, lions as part of marine life.

Some bright spark said the best advertising is an example of the product experience.

That’s what you get with Small World Travel.

The prospect of adventure is expressed as a story that’s original, charming, perceptive and multi-layered.

You get the whole box and dice so you read and read.

It convinces you that you couldn’t do better by going elsewhere.

You’re the one who becomes passionate.

Passionate about heading off to places like Botswana, Egypt, India, Thailand, Australia and Antarctica.

Isn’t that better than the soppy and weak ‘We’re passionate about what we do’?

Share with us. Leave your comment below. Thanks for reading Whybetonto.com. Regards, Steve Ulin LinkedIn: http://linkd.in/1Bey3Jl