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Archive for the category “marketing”


superBrainIt’s been ten days since the Super Bowl. Ten days after millions spent in advertising at $5 million for a 30 second ad nationally and about $50k locally. Lots of REACH! In some cases, great CREATIVE (Tide, looking at you!… And who doesn’t want to go to Australia now?) But, what about the other ways to get brand equity? FREQUENCY and CONSISTENCY are nowhere to be found on that $5 million-dollar investment. Just like it takes a few times before a song gets stuck in your head and you’re singing along, a brand isn’t developed over 30 seconds.

Advertising is part science and part art. The science comes from the Reach, Frequency and consistency. The art is all the creative. Great creative can cover up ALOT of advertising sins, but in can’t create brand equity without consistency and frequency. Top of the mind brand awareness is built one ad at a time. Television, radio, digital, social, billboards, print, pens, t-shirts…. You get it.

Back to Super Bowl commercials. Surely at $5 million a pop everyone should get these easy questions correct. (Send me the answers…Honor system…Maybe a prize in it for you) See if your Super Brain recalls any of these…. Go now!

1.   What detergent is great at getting game stains out?

2.   Jason Bourne himself, Matt Damon, did an ad for a beer. What was the ad for?

3.   Steve Tyler starred in an ad. What was it for?

4.   Chis Pratt was in two separate ads? What were they?

5.   What ad featured a bunch babies?

There you go, over $30 million (just in ad time, not counting creative) was spent with just these five questions. Worth the money?

Welcome to the party! Who are you?

Who are you questionWhen someone decides to make a purchase how do you make sure your company is even thought about?  Do they know who you are? What you are about? Did you even get invited to the party?

Have you ever been to a party where everyone knows each other? Would you throw out your hand with a big….”Hi, I’m John..Wanna buy some insurance?” That’s what you do when you post an offer on digital or social before you create awareness.  Without awareness and reputation, you are just another idiot trying to sell something.

To create brand awareness you need Reach, Frequency, Consistency and a great message (Creative).  This doesn’t come from a few Facebook posts.  It comes from engagement. Connecting to the local community any way you can.  Going to a few of those parties where you don’t know anyone, and getting to know people…Slowly, over time. Over 80% of an audience won’t click on a digital/social ad they’ve never heard of.

Build awareness through branding. Tell great stories. Be known BEFORE you’re needed. Then, target those who have the need.  Do you want to be searched on Google, or found on Google?

Now go send out some thank you notes for getting all those party invitations



Digital Unintended Consequences

unintended-consequencesThe Law of Unintended Consequences usually happens when you only get one side of a story, or surround yourself with people who always agree.  This is especially true in advertising, or anything that requires walking that fine line between strong creative debate and strong leadership.

Here is a case in point. The new digital ad landscape is like the Wild West. We’ve all looked at a product on Amazon, and then had an ad stalk us across the digital world like some Tron bounty hunter.  Although this is semi creepy, it gets even creepier when you look at a ladder at Home Depot, decide not to buy, and start getting Home Depot ads hunting you down..Or a Groupon for the same product you were just looking at.

While all of this registers about a ten on the disturbing index, the real unchartered territory is when a digital ad is placed in the middle of an online news article or website.  This is where ad executives don’t realize the damage they are causing their brand.  In television or radio, there is banter and buffer when the news transitions to advertising.  Not so when a cube ad is smack in the middle of an article about a seven year old ISIS kid decapitating someone.

The above example had a beautiful “It’s the New Year Mattress Sale” ad right next to the picture of the child with the machete. This is a major bed retailer.  Do they want their brand associated with this? You know the answer.

My wife and I recently watched an HBO documentary about alcoholism and looked up a “Where are they now” website about the subjects.  Right in the middle of the website, ABOUT ALCOHOLISM, was an ad for……Wait for it….A whiskey company.  This is a digital algorithm gone awry.  Marketing shouldn’t make you think negative of the brand in the name of targeting.

How You Learn Something New

To learn something new you need to hear it, see it, and do it….Right?  What if you just heard it? Over and over again. People learn the most through the ear. It may take longer, but once the message has wrapped itself around your brain, it never leaves…EVER.

Don’t believe me? Take this little quiz and see how you score.  I guarantee you get more than 90% correct.

  • A Diamond is _________
  • A _______ is a terrible thing to waste
  • An ________ a day keeps the doctor away
  • It takes a __________ and keeps on ticking

So, you think these are advertisements that everyone knows and it’s much harder to brand yourself in the modern age? Well, keep going.

  • ______ ______ Yahoo?
  • Got _______?
  • So easy even a _____________ can do it
  • Every kiss begins with _______

So how did you do? I’m not even going to give you the answers because I know most of you scored a perfect 100%. The “Apple a day” slogan was a campaign from the early 1900’s, and here you are in 2012 reciting it without thinking. A catchy phrase, with repetition and little bit of alliteration, can stay with you for a lifetime. Does your business stand out? What are you known for?  Will people remember you in 50 years?

I suspect you could make a lasting imprint with just a bit of thought….You do want to be all that you can be…Right?

It’s A Daisy!—What’s In A Name?

I’ve been fascinated by advertising since I was a kid.  The colorful box of the Happy Meal, and even before that, the original toy that came with your hamburger from Burger Chef….brilliant.  My favorite advertising story came when I was eleven years old in the form of a bb gun….You see, A Christmas Story was about as true to life as it gets for a pre-teen boy.

Around the age of eleven every American boy wants only one thing (no, not that— girls aren’t for a few years), that thing is a bb gun.  If you really had parents that trusted you, or didn’t give a crap about you, that bb gun was the Crossman pump-action.  The Crossman could be pumped to the point of explosion, and actually could piece a soda can. (Or your little bother’s behind).  So the Crossman was completely out of the question for me.  I was neither  trusted or disregarded, so I had to beg for a gun that was designed to fool my mom…The lever action Daisy Pal.

How could a gun named a Daisy Pal ever cause any problems?  Well, it really couldn’t, the lever-action allowed one bb to be loaded in the chamber.  It spit each bb out at a pathetic velocity that you could  see come out of the gun.  If you wanted the bb to go more than 50 feet you had to shoot it with an arc.  Water pistols could probably inflict more injury. This didn’t matter to mothers, because the natural predator to the bb gun is a mom.

Daisy knew what it was up against.  They knew they had to trick the typical mom.  What better way than to name a rifle after a flower, and add the word pal, as the model number.  Well, this brilliant marketing trick worked, (along with two solid years of crying for a bb gun by me).

Even at eleven years old I knew it was worth the price to give up on the cool Crossman, and except my fate with my Daisy Pal. I instinctively knew it had a girly name so my mother would allow me to have one.  I also knew that perhaps it could be an entry-level weapon that would eventually lead to the coveted Crossman.  In the end I had to keep mine at my Grandmother’s house in Northern Maine, and was made fun of unmercifully because everyone else had pump-action rifles….Heck, they lived in Northern Maine for crying out loud–they had bears!

So I have kept the Daisy secret for all these years–That pact that Daisy made with every boy under the age of twelve.  The unwritten bond, the wink, the knowing that sometimes you have to accept harsh trade offs to experience everything that life has to offer….for an eleven year old boy anyway.




Selling A Better Mousetrap–(Or Butter Spray)

In the late 1800’s Ralph Waldo Emerson is given credit for the metaphor that has proceeded every great idea…”Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door”.    The first problem is Mr. Emerson didn’t actually say that quote.  The phrase is actually a misquotation of:

If a man has good corn or wood, or boards, or pigs, to sell, or can make better chairs or knives, crucibles or church organs, than anybody else, you will find a broad hard-beaten road to his house, though it be in the woods.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

The second, and even more important problem with the mousetrap quote, is that it’s just not true.  It’s not enough to have a great idea.  That great idea has to be sold. There is no greater frustration than having a terrific idea shot down.

  In 1987 I had this idea for spray butter.  I was in the Air force at a base picnic and watched as Airman from every walk of life put butter on their ears of corn.  It was painful to watch. ..And kind of gross when they rolled an already bitten piece of corn back onto a stick of butter.  So pecking away at my 1965 Smith and Corona I fired off a bunch of letters to the leading  manufacturers of margarine and butter….My idea?  “Mista” Butter.  (Yes, a ridiculous play on “Mr. Butter”–but my original thought was the butter would spray in a cool mist–Hence, Mista Butter)  I received one letter back, and it politely  told me that they would  hand my letter off to their marketing department.  No grand rewards, no earth-shaking discovery. My little idea just shriveled up and died without the power of persuasion.

When I arrived back in the states several years later, every margarine company in the world had a spray butter.  Go check your refrigerator–I bet you have one in there right now–well, thank me! 

America  knows how to generate ideas.  What the average creative doesn’t know is how to sell them.  Everything has to be sold.  Apple computer’s first ideas came from Steve Wozniak, a brilliant programmer.  The name Apple would have never been a household name  if  the sales guy, Steve Jobs, didn’t pour in his marketing magic. 

Sales, advertising, and marketing are all skills that need to be honed like any other profession.  It takes years of mastery before a salesperson really knows how to motivate the person with the checkbook.  That is why just about every product or service has the sales side and the research/production side.  It takes both left and right brain thinking to get the public to embrace something new.  The number one thing for a company to realize is decision makers aren’t interested in you..They really aren’t.  All they are interested in is solving their own problems.

Even when you do find a way to solve their problems, they still have to be shown and told.  Trust needs to be established.  If your incredible new product scratches the itch and makes your prospects pain go away, you need to prove it.  Over and over again. 

The world doesn’t have an idea problems.  It has selling problems.  If everyone was put on some type of commission plan, the human race would advance 20 years overnight—-And  have plenty of “spray” options–maybe ketchup and mustard would work!?


Big Game Commercials–Fumble or #Touchdown?

As the Superbow—ooops, “the BIG game” inches closer, the Monday morning quarterbacks will talk of football, and….. commercials.  Will Volkswagen be able to top the young Darth Vader spot?  Maybe, but in the quest to be the most creative, some companies try so hard on the creative, they forget to sell.  The problem with Super bowl advertising is it only allows for two parts of the advertising puzzle–REACH and CREATIVITY.  Great advertising that sells needs all four keys–REACH, FREQUENCY, CONSISTENCY, and CREATIVE. 

Like a Dad who only sees his kids on the weekends, companies try to OVERCOMPENSATE with the Creative–Plenty or reach, plenty of creative.  Surely if you miss the other two elements, just make up for it with more creative, right?  Well, maybe.  If the creative actually sells product. 

Effective advertising does one thing; it motivates a consumer int0 action.   It should contain one or two key messages.  Not a list of things that the customer will forget in five minutes.


(1)-If you do not engage the consumer, nothing else really matters.

(2)-The only way to connect is to make the commercial about the customer.

(3)-Failure to immediately appeal to the listener/viewer’s self-interest will leave your ad unheard.

(4)-Pierce the heart.  Logic doesn’t sell, emotions sell.

(5)-Leave behind a mental image that can be shared and talked about at the water cooler.

You would think for 3.5 million dollars for 30 seconds of airtime, the commercial should sell a few units, right?  So enjoy the game, watch the commercials, and try to remember the companies who advertised the next day….If you can…TOUCHDOWN!


Thou Shall Not Commit the 7 Deadly Advertising Sins In 2012

The New Year is here!  What are you going to do to make this a great year for your company?  At some point every business has to advertise  along the way just to stay even.  That could be Yellow Pages,  web listings or  just a free Facebook page.  If you want to grow and get your “unfair share” of the money being spent in your category, you really need to find creative and cost effective ways to make sure potential customers choose you over the competition.

Advertising is the way to separate your business from the pack.  As I have written about on several other blog posts, the four keys to advertising are: -Reach,  Frequency, Consistency, and Creative  (Copy).

Now we will take a second and talk about the 7 deadly sins of advertising.  Break them and you could be wasting money.  Money that could help  your business thrive in 2012.

The Seven Deadly Sins of Advertising

1. Failure to attract the customer’s attention: The world suffers from information overload–What are you doing to stand out? 

2. Failure to appeal to the listener’s self interest: Don’t kid yourself, most people don’t care about your product or service–They only car about what you can do for them.

3. Failure to use words that paint pictures: Tell stories, paint pictures, make what you have to sell connect with the potential customer on an emotional level.

4. Being so creative that you forget to sell: What do you remember about the most funny and creative commercials?  If it’s not the product being advertised, there is a major problem.

5. Failure to give someone a reason to act now: Allow someone to put off a decision, and chances are, they will!

6. Cliché ridden copy: Don’t say the same old crap we’ve all heard for the past 30 years..Be interesting, or don’t waste your money.

7. Too much copy: Stick to one or two points.  Laundry lists only work when you go to the laundry.  Stay on topic; don’t overwhelm the customer with too much information.

There you go,  easy right?  I will hit each of these topics in more depth in the upcoming weeks. Good luck and I hope your business has a great 2012!

The Hard Part Isn’t Making Money–It’s Investing It Wisely

All advertising mediums work if you use them the right way.  Businesses and agencies get caught up in the price-CPP-CPM-Ect. The only thing that matters is the return on investment  (ROI).  If a TV commercial brings you  $10,000 in revenue, why do you care if it cost $5,000 to produce and air? Put that same $5,000 in a money market account (the only way to really have it be”risk -free”) and in a year you will have about $5,050 in your account.  Advertising involves risk, but isn’t risk what made your company successful in the first place?

When you advertise you hit a target audience.  Your target audience has about 150  friends and relatives they talk to.  (More when you factor in social media). If you get just get a few people in the door and treat them right, you will get a tremendous amount of positive word of mouth.  So what is a brand new customer really worth to you for future business? 

Of course I’m a radio guy so I believe strongly in my medium, but  it doesn’t matter where you invest as long as it gets results.  I don’t care what advertising medium you use, if you do it properly, your investment will get an ROI.  The only way to really monitor results is by how much is in the cash register after the campaign.

Read everything you can on advertising, and find a sales representative that you trust.  Follow the four keys. (1)-Reach.  (2)-Frequency.  (3)-Consistency. (4)- Creative  (the message). 

 I included a chart below to show the strengths and weaknesses of the most popular ways to market your business.  Advertising is an investment, not an expense.  Know there is always some risk, but there is a far better risk/reward ratio than investing in the hottest IPO or shoving it under your mattress.

Deep Down Inside–You Like Commercials!

I write and sell radio commercials for a living, so maybe I listen a bit differently than you do.  I love powerful, well written commercials–I raise the volume when they come on!   Arbitron just conducted a major study about how long listeners stay through commercials.  Guess what? Radio keeps 93% of its lead in audience during an average break!  This was groundbreaking because the perception for years has been that a radio station loses more than 50% of its audience after the first spot. 

…”The new study, using data from 18 million commercial breaks, 62 million minutes of commercials and 866 stations for a year, showed, among other findings, that one- to three-minute commercial breaks deliver audience levels “practically the same as the lead-in audience”; Longer spot breaks of four to six minutes-plus delivered an average minute audience nearly 90 percent of the lead-in audience; Commercial breaks in morning drive deliver 97 percent of their lead-in audience; and among teens and persons 18-24, radio delivers nearly 90 percent of its lead-in audience during commercial breaks, while among people age 65+, radio delivers 98 percent of the lead-in audience during the stop sets….”

These numbers represent “average” commercials and stop sets.  When you factor in more creative commercials the lead in audience is even higher.  The real problem with radio commercials is radio.  As an industry we write crappy, clichéd, uninspired drivel, that you have a heard a thousand times.  If the average station can keep 93% of its audience with most of the junk I hear, can you imagine what we could do with some powerful, compelling creative?

Radio commercials need to paint  mental pictures…pierce the heart…create emotions…offer something compelling…

Nothing is quite as powerful as the spoken word…All commercials all the time!  (Hey, it worked for Christmas music)

Arbitron Commercial study

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