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Marketing Doubleshot Podcast – Ep.10 – Ad Blocking & Missing out on the Mobile Moment

In this episode, Jonathan Barrick and Josh Muirhead discuss the latest in digital ad blocking developments, and the ‘mobile moment’ that many brands and marketers are approaching from the wrong angle.

Links and resources mentioned in this episode:

The Verge – Welcome to hell: Apple vs. Google vs. Facebook and the slow death of the web – www.theverge.com/2015/9/17/933896…death-of-the-web

Mark Schaefer’s {grow} blog – www.businessesgrow.com/blog/

Luke Wroblewski – Product Director at Google – twitter.com/lukewwww.lukew.com/

Hotel Tonight – http://hoteltonight.com

5 Promises Every Living Marketer Should Make to Themselves

by Jonathan Barrick

imageMarketers, I hate to say this, but we kinda suck. There’s an awful lot of stuff that we’re doing every day that is simply no good. It’s awful, in fact, and we’re better than this. At this point in time, we should be WAY better than this. We have the ability to connect to our customers in real-time, and understand them on a unprecedented level. We have the ability to send out complex information in formats that make it easy to consume and understand, anytime anywhere.

We have the ability to turn business around to a point where it’s no longer the brand with the deepest pockets who wins customers, but the brand who is the most awesome. Yet, we still trudge along doing things that hold us back like a ball and chain. I say, NO MORE. It’s time to break the bonds, make some new promises, and move forward.

1 – I will not make statements the brand can’t live up to.

Stop fibbing. Stop embellishing. Stop over-promising. Do these two things instead: Make realistic statements AND/OR Improve your product/service so that you deliver on your promises. People are sick and tired of being let down, disappointed, and underwhelmed, and they’re not hesitating to tell their friends. Falling short of expectations is no longer an option. Meet or exceed, or be called out.

2 – I will not view my customers as simply a means to an end.

Your customers aren’t there so you can ‘leverage’ them. I hate that word. Is there any term less respectful of your customers? They’re not numbers, they’re people that you have relationships with. Social media is helping to ‘humanize’ business, so Marketers need to humanize along with it. The value is in the relationships, not simply in the numbers.

3 – I will not pretend that ‘there is no ROI’ of social communications.

Everything you do has an impact, good or bad, that can be measured. Is this impact ALWAYS measured in dollars and cents? No. But it CAN be measured. The key is to identify what area of your business the impact takes place, and then measure the ROI as it relates to that specific area. Saving time on customer service? There’s your ROI. Getting new product development ideas? There’s your ROI. The dots are there for you to connect, so grab your pencil and start connecting.

4 – I will not brag about meaningless metrics.

Fans, likes, followers? No good. Decreased bounce rate, higher share of search, improved sentiment? Good. Give some context to your metrics, and they actually become worth talking about. “Because of X, we achieved Y, which led to Z.” This ties directly in to the ‘ROI’ situation, making it far easier to see what’s helping and what’s hurting. If you’re measuring something that doesn’t give you some kind of insight in to why something worked (or didn’t), then why are you measuring it?

5 – I will not ignore how people feel about typical marketing actions
Banner ads suck. We all hate popups. Opt-in is good, opt-out is bad. Yet marketers continue making terrible choices in spite of overwhelming data that says ‘STOP!!!’. Make the commitment to yourself to stop doing things that people hate, and do more of what people love. Remember ‘do unto others as you’d have them do unto you?’ Well, replace ‘do’ with ‘market’ and run with that. If you ignore popups, blow past banner ads, and junk spam mail as fast as it comes in, then your customers are doing the same. Stop wasting time, money, and energy on stuff that sucks. Go for the stuff that’s awesome instead.

Simple stuff, don’t you think? You can boil it all down to this: Stop sucking, be awesome, and prove it.

This should be the mantra of every marketer alive today. Now, place your right hand on your business card, and repeat after me: Stop sucking, be awesome, and prove it.

This article originally written for http://crowdshifter.com

The Promise of Social Brands

Advertising is full of crap. Well, at least most of it is, I think we’d all agree. Advertisements and brand messages have long been full of lofty promises and ridiculous imagery that alludes brands to be magical entities given to us from the heavens to alleviate the pain of every day tortures like laundry, dusting, and what to make for dinner. Without them, our lives would descend in to unparalleled misery and despair.

More than a few humorous articles have been written online chronicling hilarious ads from decades gone by that made promises so laughable, we are astonished that anyone ever actually believed them. Cigarettes that soothe throat irritation. Exercise contraptions that melt fat away while you sit on your ass. Young lovers coming together through a mutual desire to consume lard.


Oh, most definitely. In fact, the promises being made by brands today aren’t that far removed from those of the past. Swiffer dusters that make cleaning so much fun you have to dance. Cat treats so tempting they make your cat destroy fences to get one. Magic shoes that give you an award-winning butt just by wearing them.

Reebok EasyTone Shoes Commercial

Things are different now.

Consumers are talking about everything. We’re comparing our experiences with others, not just in our immediate group of personal friends, but with people around the world. We’re realizing that poor customer service isn’t just an isolated incident, and crappy products abound. We’re voicing our dissatisfaction of companies with the world, and the world is on our side. We’re fed up. We’re speaking up. And companies need to step up. Deliver on your promises, or you will feel the wrath.

This is the promise of social brands.

We’re just at the cusp of this change. Although some forward-thinking businesses recognize the shift of power, many more continue on, blissfully unaware that promises made are now going to have to be kept. Or else.

One of two things is going to need to happen, and it’s going to need to happen fast if a brand wants to earn kudos instead of complaints:

1 – Brands will cease to make promises that cannot be kept.


2 – Brands will actually deliver on the promises they are making.

Companies cannot afford to be called out for not delivering. It’s too easy for the reality of the brand experience to be brought to light by customers and made public for the world to see. Social is going to force brands to be real about their promises, one way or another. If a brand makes an ad depicting a fragrance so potent it makes women de-clothe as they passionately run towards an unsuspecting man, we’ll call BS on it before the logo even appears. It’s not going to be worth it to create stuff like that anymore.

Social is reducing the variance between the ridiculous promises brands make & the reality of the actual brand experience.

Eventually, we’ll hit an equilibrium where the expectations we have of a company based on the messages we receive will be exactly what we get. Or if we’re lucky we’ll get more than we expect. That’d be nice.

Of course this all hinges on the vocal consumer. Consumers need to continue speaking, louder and louder. Share more and more. Call out brands that don’t deliver, and praise those that do. Smart companies will do what they need to do, and we’ll all be better for it. Companies that don’t? Well, we really don’t need them around anyway.

Ok brands, it’s time to deliver.

This article originally written for http://crowdshifter.com

Disaster-Related Promotions Never End Well – KFC’s Facebook Fail

by Jonathan Barrick

I sure would like to meet the person who thought that THIS would be a good idea. Evidently, some genius over at KFC in Thailand was struck with the inspiration that most people in the country would be too busy monitoring the news for earthquake and tsunami updates to cook, and therefore this would be a great time for everyone to order a bucket of chicken.

Seriously, they actually posted this on their Facebook wall:

“People should hurry home this evening to monitor the earthquake situation and don’t forget to order the KFC menu, which will be delivered direct to your hands,”

Knowing what I know about people and how they typically react to things like this, there are a couple of things I feel are inherently wrong with this strategy.

1 – History has shown that we tend to frown upon businesses looking to profit from natural disasters.

2 – What makes them think anyone would be taking the time out during a major earthquake alert to see what’s new on the Facebook page dedicated to fried chicken?

Evidently news of Kenneth Cole’s poorly thought out tweet during the Cairo riots last spring never made it to KFC Thailand’s marketing team. Too bad, because if they had followed that story, they would have seen the general public express a massive amount of outrage at the fact that Kenneth Cole would trivialize such an event this way.

After Thailand began voicing its outrage at the post, it was taken down and a public apology was issued, but has done little to assuage the anger generated as a result.

Several words come to mind summarizing KFC’s mistake: Insensitivity, Greed, Irresponsibility, Ignorance

Ultimately, the message for brands here is pretty clear: During times of national crisis or social upheaval, you might want to stay away from business promotions tied directly to such events. They rarely end well.

This article originally written for http://crowdshifter.com

4 Questions to Ask Anyone Trying to Sell You Ad Space

You can never know 100% for sure if something is going to work before you try it, but their reactions to these questions may help uncover if they’re offering you a real solution, or just trying to make a buck.

As the marketing manager for a B2B company, I get solicited. A LOT. Industry trade magazines, pay-per-click ad providers, online directories, and trade show organizers are but a few of the kinds of people calling me asking for a piece of my precious marketing budget. The thing is, I’m no pushover. Never have been. But in today’s business climate, there’s no way you can afford to throw dollars at every marketing option that calls you up. The vast majority of them simply don’t work, and even those that are worth your time and money only work if you use them in a way that makes sense for your business.

So how do you determine which options are worth a dollar, and which ones you should tell to kick stones? I wish there was an easy way, but the truth is that it can be very difficult to figure out. Effectively evaluating marketing options in today’s world requires you to look deeper than the traditional criteria of ‘page views’ and ‘circulation’, and examine the information that few of those solicitors are able or willing to provide to you.

I’ve put together 4 key questions that I use as the starting point whenever I get solicited by someone trying to sell me space in a magazine, online directory, or trade show. I’ve also noticed that there are certain ‘red flags’ that seem to consistently appear when dealing with some types of solicitors that can be early warning signs to tip you off that you’d best be cautious moving forward. I’ve included these after each question.

Let’s take a look at the questions now:

1 – First thing: What’s the range of costs?

This sounds really, really obvious. And it is. What you should be aware of is that very rarely is actual cost discussed up front. Most of the time, they’ll open with a ‘what is the #1 problem facing your business?’ kind of question that forces you to think of a negative aspect of your current situation, and give you the impression that they can help solve your problem. This is intentional, as it tends to disarm us a little bit, and leaves us more open to their suggestions. Solicitors who are confident in their product/service and can prove a real benefit/ROI will have no problem letting you know cost right up front. After all, if you don’t have flexibility in your budget to accommodate their product, then going in-depth just wastes your time and theirs.

Red Flag: If you answer a call from a solicitor, one of your first questions should of course be ‘What is the cost range for all your different options?’. If they answer with something like: ‘before we talk about that, let me ask what your goal is?’ or just flat out won’t tell you immediately where their prices start and where they end, be very wary.

2 – Who’s the REAL audience?

This goes for all types of marketing options. Magazines, directories, trade shows, you name it. Typically the solicitors will make available very basic stats that don’t really reveal much about who their actual audience is. For example, lets look at the infamous ‘circulation’ information for magazines, which outlines how many copies go out to their ‘readers’, and what kind of businesses they are sent to. The thing is, these commonly-used stats can be very deceiving. They may simply be pulling the information based on the name of the person on the address label, like the owner of the business that it is sent to. But who’s to say that this is the person who actually reads it, or even receives it in their hands? Especially in larger businesses that receive many MANY different pieces, only the most crucial pieces ever get opened by anyone. The rest? Either gets junked or ends up on the coffee table in the lobby. Make sure they can prove that their recipients are also actual readers.

Red Flag: If the solicitor can’t quickly back up their claim with readily-available hard data and testimonials from actual audience, and vaguely cites their own ‘internal’ surveying data, chances are they are making some pretty broad assumptions about who actually reads their rag.

3 – Can I do a short-term trial?

Contracts abound in the marketing world, and you’ll often find yourself staring down the barrel of a big fat commitment before you even know it. Smart solicitors who truly believe in what they are selling will be eager to have you try it out before you make any major commitment. If they don’t suggest it first, make sure that you do. Sometimes they’ll offer to do a short-term trial period at the same rates as a long-term program. Occasionally you may even find they’ll offer a free trial, depending on what kind of service they provide. Companies that openly offer a short-term trial are displaying not only confidence in their services, but also flexibility to your needs.

Red Flag: Sometimes the very suggestion of a trial period can offend some solicitors. If you find their tone or demeanour changes dramatically for the worse after suggesting a trial basis, you may be headed for a very inflexible and rigid relationship further down the road.

4 – Give some examples of your success.

Prove it. That’s ultimately what we all want to know. Ask them to provide stats showing what other advertisers have seen as a result. Have them show you data and testimonials from other advertisers/exhibitors that are similar to you. What works for one won’t necessarily work for another, but at least you’ll have a general idea of what kind of businesses are generating results. This is easy to do these days. Web tracking makes monitoring conversions and success nearly effortless. They should be able to tell you things like the number of referrals they’ve generated for specific types of businesses, as well as provide qualitative testimonials from companies similar to yours.

Red Flag: Any web directory or online ad provider should be able to give you buckets of reports that illustrate how their advertisers have benefitted from their services. If all they are able or willing to show you is ‘hits’ or ‘page views’, RUN AWAY.

Ultimately, B2B marketing people like us are trying to do the most we can with limited resources of both time and money. If they’re trying to sell a product or service to you, they need to realize this. Selling ad space to people like us really all boils down to a simple two-part strategy: Be to-the-point, and be able to back up any claims. If they don’t waste your time with a lot of preamble and vagueness, and they can prove to you that you’ll see a real, tangible benefit, I’m sure that you’ll be much more successful by doing business with them.

Bonus Red Flag: When they won’t let you get a word in.

This one really gets me riled up. The thing about providing effective service is that you need to listen to your customers. In my experience, you can’t really do that very well if you won’t let your customer finish a sentence. I’ve been solicited by countless salespeople who inexplicably decide that the perfect time to begin their next sentence is right in the middle of the one I’m currently speaking. It’s maddening, because I’m TRYING to let them help me. I’m TRYING to communicate my needs so that they can figure out how to help solve them. In a nutshell: If you’re the one trying to sell someone something: Know when to shut up and let them talk. if you encounter a salesperson who seems to follow this pattern, flee.