Defending Your Creative Ideas

Defending Ideas Sketch

Defending Your Ideas - A little sketch from the corner of my notebook, as we were brainstorming new ideas.

If you want to get into the business of marketing, you’re going to need to develop (a) a thick skin and (b) a strategy for sharing your ideas. Neither of these tasks are easy, but trust me when I tell you, they are necessary.

Many people think that marketing is easy, since just about anyone can come up with one good marketing or advertising idea. The real challenge, of course, is to come up with multiple ideas. Ideas that adapt to evolving strategic direction and new media channels. That’s not quite as easy.

In a brainstorm, there are some good ideas that everyone agrees is on target and makes sense. If there’s a whiteboard, it gets written in big bold letters as “an idea.” Kudos to you if you were part of that brainstorm session.

If you’ve ever been part of a brainstorm session, it can be fun and exhilarating, but it is also a little scary. Why scary? Well, if all of the ideas are safe, the group may not be trying hard enough. There may be fear in the room. Nobody wants to share their best idea, only to be rejected by the whole room. Making it to the whiteboard builds confidence. Not making it to the board is depressing. Continue reading

Marketing: It’s Just Too Easy

A friend of mind and I were talking about how to first brand and then market his company’s brand. We had a long, rambling conversation about marketing channels like YouTube, Vimeo, blogs, Twitter, etc.

When he told me, “on Twitter, anybody can build up a massive following, so it’s not really worth doing,” he stopped me in my tracks.

Upon further clarification, he told me that on Twitter anyone can follow a bunch of people and then unfollow them to build of your following. That traffic building technique, he explained, was one of the reasons Twitter didn’t really matter. It just seemed too easy. That, and anybody can get 50,000 followers, if you know how to work the system.

Anyway, the conversation continued normally until my kids got hungry and began demanding dinner. So we broke off the call and went to our respective families.

My friend was being honest and candid as he talked about the marketing channels that he thought were most effective. This was due, in part, with his feeling that Twitter was too easy. Continue reading

Marketing Obscure Comic Book References

Captain America The First Avenger Movie Poster

Superheroes are back! Well, at the movie theaters at least they are. Love ’em or hate ’em epic comic book battles are generating big buzz and big dollars on the silver screen.

As a marketer, it’s easy to observe the big, obvious things about movies based on comic books. There’s a built-in audience: check. There are usually top stars and/or directing talent: check. There’s usually some impossibly large budget: check. That’s the obvious stuff.

Then there’s the geek stuff. As you may know, I am a big comic fan, so I get into these tiny references that are like catnip for fans. It’s small stuff (and some big stuff) that won’t even register for the average moviegoer. But for the devoted comic fan, it can be pure joy. Continue reading

Viral Videos Can Launch Your Brand

Karmin is having a good year. A really good year. Don’t know who they are? First, check out this video.

This is a talented young duo doing a cover version of a song by Chris Brown featuring Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes. It’s catchy, fun, and very watchable.

As of this posting, this little video has garnered over 10 million views in less than one month. That’s a lot of views for something that’s being spread word of mouth. Continue reading

How to Help Young Marketers Gain Career Experience

Last week, I was on vacation in sunny Florida, and boy did I work. Well, I didn’t work for the agency, but I worked my marketing brain a bunch. And then I had an idea. (Hang with me, it takes a few paragraphs to get there.)

Y’see, after the kids all went to bed, some of the adults would stand outside and chat about the days events. Inevitably, the conversation always turns to “so, what do you do?” Like many of you, I work in emarketing, which includes advertising, branding, strategy, and all that good stuff.

One of the guys on vacation was a small business owner struggling with his company’s place in the competitive landscape. He had built a successful business, but was losing market share in key battlegrounds. The specific details aren’t important, but suffice to say, I put on my marketing hat and we talked for hours about his challenges. In my mind, his next steps included (but weren’t limited to) a SWOT analysis and a repositioning of his brand identity.

Marketing Experience
It all seems to be going well, but at a certain point, I realize I can’t help this guy any further. He needs an agency that’s geared up for his specific marketing needs.

Unfortunately, he’s already struggling, so hiring a marketing agency — even an agency with reasonable rates — may not be feasible. He’s just trying to keep the lights on and his staff employed.

But what if there was a database of young, hungry marketers who were willing to help out a small client in exchange for something they could add to their portfolio? Maybe barter some services, if that’s an option. Continue reading

DTC National 2011 – Optimizing Websites Panel

DTC National 2011 in Boston“Content is king” — that was essentially the unwritten theme of my panel at the Direct to Consumer National 2011 conference.

And, I am proud to report, that none of the panelists actually uttered the phrase “content is king.” (We’re too cool for that.)

Last week, I spent a half day at the DTC National Conference 2011 in Boston to participate in one of the pre-conference workshops. We were arranged panel style in the front of the room to talk about pharmaceutical marketing related topics.

I was on the panel “Optimizing the Brand Web Site” with some impressive panelists:

While the conversation was focused on pharma brand websites, it was a conversation that could have easily been about any industry. Basically, if I had to summarize it in a few words, it went like this. Continue reading

Cross Channel Book Marketing

Creating Comics book by Buddy Scalera

My new book Creating Comics from Start to Finish is just beginning to hit stores now. And despite the fact that I do this marketing thing every day for my clients, I’ve found it to be challenging to apply the same principals at home for my own projects. Crazy, right?

There’s an old saying, “the shoemaker’s children go barefoot.” That pretty much means the stuff you do at work is not the stuff you want to do when you get home. But a book being published is a timely event, and that time will soon pass, so I need to take the opportunity to market my book while I still can.

Initially, I was spending most of my efforts on my Facebook Fan Page, which had around 700+ followers and is now over 800. This group has been supporting my photo reference books, so they were most receptive of the new book. A good start.

Then I did a little bit of content seeding. I created a video flip through of my book, which I placed on the Facebook Fan Page, YouTube, Flickr, and even Amazon. I’m monitoring all of the channels through Google Analytics to see which drives the most qualified traffic.
Continue reading

Charlie Sheen, Guinness & Marketing

Guinness World Records

Charlie Sheen — the current celebrity obsession — has broken a world record for “Fastest Time to Reach 1 Million Followers.” And it was validated by the official Guinness World Records. (Is it even a “book” anymore?)

Through all of the hype and the amusing posts by @CharlieSheen, it’s easy to miss the marketing angle here. Specifically, Guinness saw a media storm and used it as an opportunity to promote their own brand. Not only that, they did it in a way that actually was relevant to their own brand. They validated a record. As of this writing, @CharlieSheen has only 30 actual tweets and 1,640,427 followers.

Seriously, when was the last time you actually thought about who held the record for anything? When was the last time (I’m assuming that you’re out of grammar school) you held the Guinness Book? Probably not recently.
Continue reading

Dear Apple, Market to Me

Apple iPad

Apple iPad

It sort of defies logic. Consumer buying, that is. There’s a logic, and then there’s consumer buying logic.

Take Apple, for example. Steve Jobs wanted to make “insanely great” products. It became a battle cry for the whole company, and as consumers, we bought it. They made the iPod and iMac, and we bought them. These were insanely great products that we had to have. Soon there will be an assault of iPad competitors that make similar touch-screen tablets. And yet, people will still buy the Apple iPad for some logical…and many illogical reasons.

Before Apple released these products, there were other computer devices that did similar things for less money. After Apple released these products, there were even more choices for even less money. And yet we keep buying the Apple brand.

Why is that? Well, we’ve been marketed to…and we like it. Apple somehow takes buyer’s remorse and turns it into buyer evangelism. People who buy Apple get excited with their purchase and tell their family and friends. It is classic viral marketing. It’s better than viral marketing, it’s passion marketing. Social marketing and passion marketing.

It’s the kind of marketing that makes us buy expensive cars with bigger engines than we can possibly use. The amount of horsepower that you can purchase far exceeds you ability to use it on any regular basis. But we don’t mind. Driving can be about getting from point A to point B. Or it can be about passion, excitement, and sex appeal. It becomes a gap between what you need and what you want.

Want and need are two different things. I need a new computer for my home-based work. Could I get an inexpensive machine that does the basics? Of course. But instead, I will go beyond basic need and deep into the want territory.

I’m buying a new Mac. I like how it works. I get great service from Macs, so I am willing to pay the extra few bucks to have the Mac experience. I’m sure the PC would run similar software, allowing me to get my job done. But I like the Mac.

Logic gives way to passion, and I am voluntarily buying a product that may be slightly better in performance, but much better in consumer experience.

Is the Mac insanely great? You bet. But so are other competitive products that cost less. For $200-$500 less, I can get a similarly equipped PC. Am I actually paying for a better product or a better marketing experience? Let me help you decide….

My new Mac arrives next week.

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Hot Tub Networking Machine

Based on the title, I had no interest in seeing “Hot Tub Time Machine.” Granted, I typically like John Cusack and Craig Robinson, but this one just looked lame. Then, when the reviews came out, and predictably the movie got some uninspiring reviews.

Then something social network-ish happened. My friend Mike Fasolo called me and told me, “ignore the reviewers. Go see this movie.”

Now, before I go any further, it’s worth noting that people trust their social network. Content is king, but context is what make the content personally relevant. They certainly do not trust the mainstream media.

I ignored the critics, hopped in my car, and caught an early showing of Hot Tub Time Machine. Know what? Mike was right. It was very funny, and I’ve recommended it to other people who have memories of the 1980s.

And this is why buzz marketing and social media marketing is so important. People have greater trust for the people in their personal social circle than they even do for paid professionals. Disney even recently canceled the iconic At The Movies show after 24 seasons of thumbs up, thumbs down reviews.

Hot Tub Time Machine clearly isn’t for everyone. It’s not a movie made for critics, but neither are mainstream movies like Avatar. The critics tend to like more highbrow entertainment, which makes sense.

In the end, HTTM will probably find it’s audience on DVD and BluRay, which is fine. It’s works just as well in a home theater as it does in a megaplex. Ultimately, the movie will travel organically and inexpensively through social networking channels.

Many marketers are still struggling to find that perfect social-media marketing formula, so they can tap it every time, like turning on a water faucet. But that’s exactly why social media is so effective. People trust their social network precisely because it’s not supported by advertising dollars. It’s fueled, instead, by people who just want to share with their friends. And you just cannot bottle and sell that.