Why is so much of the mass media advertising I'm seeing these days funded by government or psuedo-government agencies?
Do they know something we don't? Or is it the other way around?
The first job of good communication design is to legitimize your company. To give your brand enough polish, enough shine, enough refinement to give you instant credibility in the mind of your customer. To overcome that first barrier of “are these guys worth my time?”
That’s the easy part.
The next step is to humanize your brand. To not just speak at them, but with them. To dialogue. To open up. To connect. Some companies use events, YouTube Videos, blogs, social networks and good old fashion belly-to-belly meetings to achieve this. A few have opened the door to it through mass-market advertising.
Your advertising agency or marketing guru can be of great help in this. But the key to humanization is that it isn’t something your ad agency or marketing consultant can just “take care of” without you. They can help establish, craft and promote it. Heck, they can even lead the charge. But the key to humanization is authenticity. And for most underdog brands, that knowledge of who you are and why you do what you do comes from within.
If you own a brand or are the steward of your brand, you must take the legitimizing portion of this process and give it your all. Then, when it comes to the humanizing part, double that effort.
Ug. This story is horrible. Evidently Apple's iPhone partner in Poland hired actors to stand in line and form fake queues to buy the iPhone.
They got caught.
I've been talking a lot with colleagues this week about truth in marketing. About whether the threshold for ethical marketing is 100% "truth." And if it isn't 100%? what is it?
Shay in my office brought up Tazo Tea. The company purports to be this exotic, natural product steeped in a rich history. Of course, they aren't. They're a marketing invention. Same with Tommy Bahama. But Shay pointed out that he believed the world would be boring -- his words were "less rich" -- without stories like these.
I don't have the answer to this one. Only to say that authenticity is the best answer for just about everything in life. Including marketing.
As for the stuff that goes too far, I think it is kinda like that famous definition of pornography: you'll know it when you see it. Just don't get mixed up with it.
OK, underdogs: Does your amp go to 11? Are you giving enough cowbell? Are you surprising your customers with more than they expect? Are you connecting? Are you thinking small?
I’ll tell you who is…
Seth Godin. This best-selling author keeps it personal with his fans, including answering emails himself (shock!) -- promptly.
Peter Shankman of HARO, the Geek Factory, et. al. This guy’s high-flying spirit and generosity oozes in everything he writes and touches.
As for me, I’m adjusting my amp; I just bought a bigger cowbell. Look out world!
I'm still stewing a bit over a comment that someone made: "Simple minds favor simple solutions."
What I can't figure out is whether or not having a simple mind is a good thing. Generally, I find that we have a tendency to over-complicate just about everything.
Our sales process. Creative process. Money management. Relationship management. Marketing strategies. Hiring. We complicate them all. And the list goes on and on.
Things are getting so complicated that now there are even companies that help us un-complicate our lives or, at a minimum, companies that explain things in simple terms.
My mind is simple. I try to follow the Golden Rule. That takes care of about 90% of my decision making. The rest just comes down to my risk tolerance.
Simplification may be a key underdog success strategy. Both in terms of being able to communicate clearly and taking action.
“Options” is my favorite word.
I remember the moment I learned it. Second grade. Mrs. Blair’s class at Hollyrood Elementary. Mrs. Blair explained that after we were done with our test, we had the option of doing the white or pink activity sheet. To make sure we were all clear, she explained what option meant. It meant we had choices. Or more accurately, the power to choose.
At that moment, option became a magical word. It still is.
I share this story because I think we all could use to remember that we have options.
No matter how much your job sucks or your business is flailing or your clients are difficult, you have options.
No matter how much luck impacts your life, you have, you have options.
No matter how big your competitors are or how small your budgets are, you have options.
You have the power to choose. Exercise it.
1) Because they and their competition always have.
2) They need sales now!
Well, those are stupid reasons.
When I tried recently to explain to a client that intermittent local print advertising for his high-cost (i.e. high involvement) service business probably wouldn’t give him the necessary ROI, he didn’t want to hear it. He wanted me to tell him that spending $1 will lead to $1.50.
My response? It may.
Or may not.
The truth is I don’t know. It’s a gamble. One where the odds are not in your favor. Especially if you’re not willing to invest the necessary time and money to test, measure and repeat.
So why are so many still determined to stick with traditional advertising? Even when they aren't getting the response they expected? Because spending money on advertising provides a false sense of control. It gives you the feeling that you are doing something, even if you have no clue whether or not you're moving the needle.
In tough economic times (like some sectors are experiencing now), I think there are only two strategies to follow when it comes to advertising:
1) Invest hard in advertising and look to it to help build your brand. This is very 1950s and also very expensive. $$$$$$$$;
2) Back away from advertising and focus on the basics: great service, a remarkable product, emotional connection, design, referrals-made-easy, etc. This is cheaper and more productive over the long haul.
The bad news is #2 takes longer. Much longer. Sorry. If your sales are down, it is doubtful spending a pittance on advertising is going to change that. Go big or go home.
Apologies if this all a bit too obvious, but I think there are still many of us that need to be reminded.
Don't know yet exactly why, but for someone reason this blog has been virtually de-listed by Google.
A couple of months ago, when you Googled "underdog effect" this blog was something like the third search result.
Today, I'm not showing up in the top ten search result pages.
Heck, I don't even show up when you search for "underdog effect blog," though several pages with links to this site do.
I have some ideas why this is and am doing some tweaking to remedy it.
But in the meantime... I know from looking at my stats that more than a few folks find this site by Googling it regularly. Time to change that habit. Add me to your RSS reader. Or bookmark this blog. Something. Otherwise, you may never find me again.