Sunday, December 30, 2007

After Watching Some TV Today...

I watched some news shows this morning and later in the day some football. After this unusually large amount of TV viewing today I walked away understanding a few things...
1. If I were to ever take either Cialis or Viagra the amount of side effects far outnumber the benefits - and large amounts of alcohol should not be consumed prior to ingesting these pills - LOL
2. The NFL is still extremely fun to watch - even on little TVs
3. Most of the commercials I saw were for either cars, car dealerships or prescription drugs - I am not in the market for any of these
4. If I was in the market for a car I sure as hell would not visit any dealership I saw advertised on TV today - in fact I think those ridiculous ads have the opposite effect
5. I usually enjoy CBS Sunday morning, but it really stunk today
6. Large amounts of alcohol should be consumed prior to watching Cleo Lemon play quarterback

Albert Einstein

I was in the bookstore today and read a quote by Albert Einstein that I thought was, go figure, genius.

"Imagination is more important than knowledge."

I guess without one the other can become very stagnant.

Is Relevance Really Even This Day and Age

It has been awhile since I have mentioned relevance. I was reviewing my blog, it's description and it's position as I occasionally do. Sometimes I change a few things because I feel like over time my own personal views change as I learn more - or experience something that leaves an impression or causes a change in thinking.

Something that has not changed are my feelings on how delivering content that your audience truly finds interesting or has a genuine connection to can benefit your organization, but most importantly benefit your audience. (i.e. Nike creating and distributing tips, recommendations and training manuals for runners that educate on points of interest way beyond what sneakers you wear).

I guess this can best be described or explained in examples, not pontification. After all, why should you believe me? I was reading a piece in this month's Wired Magazine that jarred some thoughts and brought me back to this topic.

Once you read this piece, I really do not need to say much more. I guess some folks may want to get into a debate about what media was used, is it advertising, or not, is this "new media" or "permission-based" marketing. All I can say is people always try to box up things they are not accustomed to so a label can be created that makes them feel comfortable or maybe even "relevant" but the reality is it does not matter what it is called. Frankly I think it is some mix of strategic marketing, advertising and just flat out imaginative, creative execution of a plan to produce and deliver content that is relevant to an audience through driving curiosity and promising some sort of conclusion that the audience is craving. Call it what you will - using industry jargon or not. The result was a phenomenal success at getting millions of people to interact - not passively watch - but physically and mentally interact with what the audience considered a relevant subject - or the "product." The bottom line is the "product" being pushed was done so successfully with relevant, cleverly delivered content. A side note, the article briefly mentions "I Love Bees." It was a big success too. Learn more at a couple of sites IGN and Wired.

I guess the trick is understanding your target audience well enough to understand 1. is there any type of content you can deliver that they would consider relevant and 2. if so, would it have anything to do with what you are marketing/selling? Lastly, 3. can you deliver it in a way that enhances or adds to the relevance of the brand or the brand promise; does it associate personal experience or interest with what your brand offers, motivates the audience to engage or creates a great experience that your audience will find enjoyable, fun or even something worthy of sharing with a friend? Is there any real interest? If not you are probably just producing more clutter for the masses to ignore.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Remember What Peter Drucker Said...

I am starting this entry off paraphrasing a quote by Peter Drucker, "The two primary ways to grow a business are marketing and innovation." I would add to Mr. Drucker's comments by saying that the two primary ways to grow an industry are through marketing and innovation. You may ask yourself, "How do you market an entire industry?" Well, associations can and do accomplish this or any company or groups of companies within an industry that position themselves as leaders through educating others about an industry is another way that this happens. How can an industry, as a whole, innovate? Typically it takes a major player to innovate, then the rest follow, or a new company arrives on the scene with innovation in hand, grabs up market share and then the rest follow. In both cases see Google.

I particularly enjoy the scenario of groups coming together to educate simply because it typically raises the tide for everyone in that industry that is a sincere value to the industry. There are times however, when this group "promotion" can backfire and pollute an industry through misinformation.

Recently a friend of mine attended an all day conference that was put on to help the marketplace learn more about online marketing and how to best leverage it as a way to grow business. Great idea...until my friend told me that a number of the folks
there were down talking Flash and it's role on the web. Specifically that Flash is bad for web sites because it is not compatible for organic SEO. Basically several of these "online marketers" were running flash through the ringer because of it's perceived lack of SEO friendliness. It is important to state that I was not there so I do not know how accurate this report is, but I have heard this inaccurate spew before from other "online marketers" so I thought I would take the opportunity to address it. If it was communicated, all I can say is I feel bad for attendees who may not know better because they paid to be misled,, I mean educated.

Now I am no programmer but I understand enough about Flash to know that it is like most online tools - it is versatile and can be a tremendous asset when utilized properly and can be a detriment when misused. As it relates to SEO or otherwise.

In this instance regarding Flash, its role in digital media and how it either hurts or helps SEO, I think presenters who claim Flash is a boondoggle to SEO are only about 20% correct, however I wonder if most even realize this? If so do they intentionally mislead to boost their desire to sell more SEO? In either event it is a tremendous disservice to their audience, and to the industry in general. Long term it is a detriment to themselves.

So, let's talk facts shall we?
It is a fact that Flash heavy sites are not optimal if your main goal is to run a site that is created to perform optimally in organic search. For pay per click it is a non issue.

It is also a fact that the average time spent on web sites is horrible. Less than 60 seconds for over 60% of all sites. For a large number it is considerably less. Considering the gross majority of sites are still dominated by HTML that does not bode well for you even if you are ranked high in organic search. What good is getting people to your site if the experience is so poor that they cut out 30 seconds later with a poor impression? Sorry but the fact is that your general consumer cares not about code, but about experience. An awful lot of people want an engaging experience - it is a fact - look at the consumer driving sites that actually hold users on for a decent amount of time. I am talking general consumers - critical mass, not specialized programmer users. When Flash is properly utilized in a site the stickiness of that site, traditionally, is much higher than static sites - it is a tested and proven fact. I have seen it first hand.

Flash can be incorporated into highly optimized html sites. Typically called hybrid sites. These sites not only are more flexible visually and interactively, but also succeed in organic rankings.

Flash sites can be optimized. Again, I am no programmer, but know plenty of instances and organizations that sell this capability where Flash is laid over optimized code, yielding a very successful organic placement. It is not an all or nothing proposition.

Lastly, I am a marketer, one that does not restrict good marketing research, strategy, practice, measurement or results to one very narrow tactic. In a holistic marketing approach, especially with a business that values its brand and its position in the marketplace, experience goes a long way with the customer relationship. SEO is a very small piece of the pie when it comes to a quality relationship with a customer. Is SEO valuable - of course it is when done well - but what truly offers long term value to a potential customer or a returning customer is not how high you are in Google rankings, rather a quality product or service offering and how you engage the customer based on their interest in what you have to offer. The last time I checked a high level of interactivity incorporated with a well thought out, intuitive, and properly executed user interface based on customer desire does more to KEEP your audience on your site. Flash is a superb tool, when executed well, for all of the above. For all of the folks who think Flash is counter to a great online marketing strategy, I might refer back to Peter Drucker's quote and ask them to educate themselves before misinforming others - because as far as digital content is concerned it is the present and a huge part of the future. If it wasn't I do not think Google (many of these "online marketers'" feeding trough) would be figuring out rich media ads for its AdWords program, continuously working on better ways to access and rank video and flash heavy sites, have purchased YouTube and there is a silly little rumor going around that the big G is considering giving a weighted advantage to web sites in its organic rankings that are rich media heavy - since the gross majority of rich media online is delivered through Flash, I see well executed Flash sites as the future - even in an SEO centric strategy. Looks like Google understands where Mr. Drucker is coming from. I wish others could stop the bashing long enough to understand this concept too.

Monday, December 10, 2007

New Basement Demo On Its Way

I have had the opportunity to see the some elements for the new Basement demo and it will be another sweet piece of work. It will also highlight some of the work we have done recently and showcase 3D animation composited in to a real environment. When it is done I will post it.

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Basement's Own Brian Phillips Named to The Indiana University School of Informatics Media Arts and Science Advisory Board

Brian Phillips, partner at The Basement Design + Motion, a motion design and animation studio located in Indianapolis, has been named to The Indiana University School of Informatics Media Arts and Science Advisory Board.

Brian Phillips has been at the forefront of the media industry, particularly as a leader in understanding, executing and showcasing a mix of art and technology. Many markets, especially Central Indiana, have experienced his work. Brian has produced some of this market’s highest profile and most recognized digital media.

“I am honored and excited to have been invited to join The Indiana University School of Informatics Media Arts and Science Advisory Board. I have enjoyed the opportunity to teach at the school for the last couple of years and understand the value they offer their students and the marketplace. I look forward to pulling from my professional experience to help guide the school to an even bigger and brighter future." --Brian Phillips

Dr. Anthony Faiola, director, Media Arts and Science, stated, “I asked Brian Phillips to join our Advisory Board because of his passion for excellence in the media arts. He is ambitious to make Indianapolis a Media Arts center and I want that kind of visionary person to be part of our Board and part of our Program. His energy and professionalism will only add to the already collective brilliance of the Advisory Board.”

The Basement Design + Motion
is a studio that specializes in contemporary interface design, motion graphics, web delivered video, 2D and 3D animation. The Basement Design + Motion primarily partners with advertising agencies, marketing firms, public relations firms, and web development companies to fill a void in integrating contemporary interface design, high-end Flash development, motion graphics, 2D and 3D animation. The result is an effective media experience that lives and interacts through depth, motion and response.

For more information visit or call 317.352.5848.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

AT and T/Cingular/Sprint /Verizon - A Lesson in Service

The mobile phone and mobile service industry is very competitive and for good reason. It is a cash cow and there are only a few service providers to choose from. Recently my business partners and I turned in our old phones and purchased all new phones and as a result needed to coordinate ourselves with one service provider.

We all came from using different service providers - Verizon, (formerly Cingular)AT and T and Sprint. We all decided to go with Verizon. One partner was already there, but two of us had to leave our service providers of years, AT and T and Sprint. A Tale of Two Services it certainly turned out to be.

I ported my number from AT and T to Verizon. Little did I know that this automatically killed my AT and T account. I called AT and T right after my number ported to discuss my options to cancel my old account. They told me that my account had already been assessed a $150 cancellation fee. I replied that I did not even want my account cancelled but they did it automatically. Come to find out I only had 14 days left on my contract with AT and T. I explained that I had just received a phone through my business therefore did not need two phones and would like to explore my options. I also explained that after 4 years of being a loyal customer that $150 for 14 days was a great way to ruin what had been an otherwise great customer experience and relationship. The gentleman (and he was just that - very nice and courteous) said he would check to see what he could do. He got back on the phone and said they would waive the $150 fee. I thanked him and explained that this was consistent with the great customer service I had received for the past four years and would be happy to leave my wife's account with AT and T for the time being. Honestly, when the company was Cingular they were absolutely fantastic to deal with and I was skeptical when AT and T took over, but there has been no drop off in service. Because of their understanding and their willingness to acknowledge a loyal customer and treat me right, I will not hesitate in the future to include AT&T in my search for a cell company, or other services AT and T offers. They did the right thing and it is just that simple to market your company in a effective way. Here I am talking about how great they are. How many others will read this? That is good marketing and it did cost them much - actually it did not cost them anything. The $150 your thinking - on a 4 year customer who was low maintenance, they did not lose any money - they made money.

Now on to Sprint. My business partner moved away from Sprint, it took 3 days to port his old number and they treated him poorly. That is the short version. Needless to say none of us will ever consider Sprint for cell service based on his crummy experience and the problems he had with them prior to leaving their service.

Guess what - Sprint is losing customers by the bus loads. They are in trouble, even though they are the lead sponsor for NASCAR, and advertise through the nose. None of that matters when you have a crummy service and treat customers - new or old - poorly. Word spreads quickly.

The moral of the story is - even if your customers leave you treat them right. Take abuse from them? No. When the departure or the continuing relationship is handled maturely and professionally, treat them with respect and let them know they are valued. Good marketing, in this instance, is very inexpensive and incredibly effective. I recommend AT and T mobile whenever it comes up.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

(Real) Creative and Function

Seeing a few pieces in the press regarding sites that do a great job creatively for the audience/user but fall flat on the delivery side of the experience. So the age old issue of form vs. function comes up. Can a web site be both very creative (fun and a pleasure for the audience to experience) and do what it is created to do for a lot of big brands - drive more business? Easy answer - ABSOLUTELY. So why don't more sites/rich media deliverables (i mean real creative online work - not merely a site with a flash banner on it - for references check the FWA) perform the second half of the equation more times than not?

We will explore in some upcoming posts.
Until then behave yourselves.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Indiana, Where Art Thou?

The top ten states for starting a business were listed recently by Fortune. Check out the list by clicking here. They also list the ten worst. Is it any wonder that DC comes in dead last? The political capital of the country and the absolute worst place for starting a business (enter cricket sound effects here). Hmmmm I wonder if there is any correlation?

Since Indiana is not listed in the top ten I guess I can comment here - or at least ask some questions?
If you are aggressively trying to become a hot bed for entrepreneurial start ups and recruiting other proven winners from other states do you look at a list like this and take a lot of notes?

If you see this list do you get upset that you are not on it? Do you care?

I would like to know where Indiana resides on this list. I do know Indiana is not in the top ten or the bottom ten.

I am no Doug Karr, but I have some pretty smart folks that read this blog and I would like to hear their commentary about good old Indiana and what our beloved state could do to work themselves in to the top ten.

AdWeek to It's Prime Audience: Shops Stand to Lose in Digital Revolution

What a good article in AdWeek from a few weeks ago. Here are a few of the best quotes from the piece...
According to a new study by Accenture quoted in this article:
According to 70 industry leaders surveyed by Accenture, agencies have the most to lose in the new order, even more than broadcasters. When asked who would fare worst in the transition to digital advertising, 43 percent said agencies, compared to 33 percent who answered broadcasters. Cable operators were third with 10 percent. No respondents chose search companies or digital ad specialists.

Accenture interviewed 70 advertising "decision makers" around the world from February through April this year. Respondents included executives from agencies, media companies and technology providers.

The consulting firm found 50 percent of respondents believe digital media would be the primary form of content and advertising delivery in the next five years. Over 80 percent think it will happen within a decade.

In my opinion most importantly...
Advertisers are pessimistic they have a good grasp of the tools needed to operate in this landscape. Over 70 percent said the industry is not "technologically prepared for the resulting changes in performance measurement."

"People felt the complexity had grown over the last few years," Symmons said. "It's harder to target and track and develop campaigns."

Jacob's opinion:
From where I sit, and what I have always believed is if you do not have a grasp, the experience, or the in-house capabilities on how to best research, strategize, produce , execute, measure and repeat that process with the adjustments to improve the entire result partner with those that do. This is why the big boys like international Publicis, JWT, WPP, Dentsu, etc are gobbling up digigtal shops, search shops, etc. They see the writing on the wall and understand in addition to what they are experts in they can add a ton of value for their clients and themselves by either working with or bringing on board the experts, the experienced, the proven successful in this digital industry. Partner with those that have the knowledge and experience - set your pride aside for the progress of your client's return on their marketing and advertising dollars - after all you will reap the benefit of this long term as a wise partner who knows who best to bring in for certain types of projects (digital specialists) that will add value to an overall ad and marketing program. It is the reason my shop, The Basement, does not do print. If we have a client that wants print we partner with an expert, an experienced shop in print.

The full piece from AdWeek is here.

Some Catching Up to Do

It has been a few weeks since my last post. I have a bunch to catch up on and have seen quite a bit I have wanted to comment on. So, rapid posting in mass quantity is on its way. Stand by....

Friday, November 9, 2007

Where the agencies at???

I got an email from Ron Brumbarger last week and he was kind enough to invite me to the Techpoint 10th Annual Tech Summit.

I graciously accepted his invitation and attended this event this morning. I listened to Ron and David Becker give a presentation and then the Governor of Indiana, Mitch Daniels took the stage to speak to those interested in the growth and proliferation of the Tech sector in Indiana.

I met some folks, saw some old friends and walked through the exhibitor section of the summit. Lots of interesting companies and some not so interesting companies. I did notice one glaring thing though...

Where are the ad agencies???

Here is a room full of business owners, entrepreneurs, potential clients and potential contacts,and as far as I could tell not one single Indianapolis ad agency was there, nor were there any staffers from any agencies. Maybe I missed someone, surely I do not know every ad agency pro in town, however I know or can recognize a lot of them and I saw none. Why not? I do not know. We at The Basement Design + Motion work with agencies and they could be chatting with prospective contacts, networking and growing their business at these events. They could be growing their tech client base so why are they absent? I cannot answer that question. What I do know is that we at The Basement offer services that are highly valuable to companies such as those that were at the Summit today and we sell to agencies. So it is obvious why I want agencies at these events. However, if they refuse to serve these folks, a large void is left open. A void someone needs to fill.

After all, start ups are in desperate need for good, solid marketing advice. They, more than many, need solid recommendations and execution to getting the word out about their organizations. I read a piece written specifically for new business owners and entrepreneurs in last week's IBJ by Mark Hill, local Indy entrepreneur and very successful business professional, about seeking good counsel. One should seek out, per Mark, a good ad agency. Agencies - go introduce yourselves to those who need your services, at the events where they appear in abundance!!

A good friend and highly qualified public relations and marketing pro Mike Snyder was at the Summit representing his company The MEK Group. To Mike's credit he gets what this sector means to not only his business but also the State of Indiana. However, I do not consider his company an ad agency, and neither does he, so he is exempt from this post. Lucky you Mike. ;)

Monday, November 5, 2007

Sony PS3 Animation

I saw this spot and think it is does a great job of telling the story of the Playstation 3 experience with animation and motion graphics. The spot does a great job of exhibiting the excitement, variety and attitude of the brand.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Dentsu Purchases Attik and Implications

If you are not familiar with Attik, you may be with some of their work, most recently the Little Deviants site they created on behalf of Toyota's Scion brand. A great campaign, and an even better micro site experience.

Recently Attik was purchased by Dentsu, Japan's largest ad agency. Attik started in the UK, and grew into a global interactive agency, having multiple US offices. Many in the industry have regarded this as a Japanese agency purchasing a US company. A trend is creeping into the recent purchasing trend for interactive content companies. International buyers of US companies. In the past it seemed many of the digital shops were purchased by large US ad conglomerates as a nice digital addition to an already bloated portfolio.

Recently it seems as though American creative in the digital arena is being snatched up by global suitors. There are a few implications that may start to occur:
1. International dollars fueling what may be an emerging bubble in the online space
2. Some large US players missing out due to aggressive non US companies that have money to burn
3. More new techniques and a broader range of styles, interface experiences and heavier interaction in this online creative - checked out many European or Japanese sites lately? Very innovative stuff going on in many cases.
4. Environments that are using mobile more ubiquitously and are leveraging faster connection speeds will be working directly with American companies that are not used to these environments. What effect will this have on our side of the pond?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Great Guinness Commercial

Technology and Marketing

One thing I have noticed recently is how quickly marketers try and understand a new technology and instantly apply it to their craft thinking it a silver bullet to success.

Not all new technology can contribute to significant marketing results, no matter how hard the sales person tries to get you to bite. Most do not even apply much less provide results. Bottom line, do not let your IT staff's exuberance over a technology force you into a bad decision.

How do you recognize a useful technology for marketing to objectives? A few things I have done in the past to test the water:
1. Understand marketing's role in the organization - define success based on that role
- Does the technology facilitate you meeting that success in a more efficient way? Does it make marketing's job easier or harder? Can the least tech savvy person on your team understand the value? If you answered yes to all of these questions you may just have a winner

2. Will this new technology enhance your sales teams performance or bog it down? If it will not enhance the sales teams performance walk away. Prior to making a purchase decision it would be wise to get input form top sales performers to see how they may either use or not use the new tool. If you are not in a direct sales environment - don't ask yourself, ask your audience if this technology will help enhance the value your product or service brings to them

3. Will the cost of the technology put your ROI way out of reach? Will the benefits of the technology make the cost a moot point based on enhanced performance?

4. Base your decision on your industry, not someone else's - just because case studies from other industries show a technology as successful, does not mean that it will work for yours - one man's pleasure is another man's pain - make sure your decision is based on tests run in your industry, with similar audiences, measurement systems and processes.

Real world example: pay per click advertising
This is no new tool. It has been around for several years but contrary to some thought, not right for everyone. Do you think Nike really needs to drop a bunch of cash on PPC advertising? Anyone who wants to find Nike's web site knows where to look. And if by chance they do not, they simply Google or use Yahoo, MSN or some other search engine, type in Nike and they are the first result. (Before you marketing PPC evangelists get on my case for this example, yes, I realize Nike could hit homeruns with PPC for special product launches, microsite promotion, etc. but this example is meant to be general and for their general Nike brand - not their new LeBron microsite promoting the latest and greatest mega shoe.)

Contrary to, who is one of several shoe retailers online and desperately needs to run an aggressive PPC campaign based on their business model, where their sales come from, and how people can find them - even potential customers who do not even know Zappos exists. Two brands - one can greatly benefit from a technology, one in general terms - not really.

I can run similar comparisons with marketing management software packages, marketing content management technologies, podcasting applications and the list goes on. You get the picture.

Enlightenment Through Beer

I had a beer with a friend this evening and it is amazing how having a beer with a pal can spark fun conversation and even some enlightenment. He quotes my blog and I do not even remember what I wrote. I rant about things and he laughs. It was a very good time. You may want to check out my friend's blog - he is a great writer (even when he pontificates for a few too many paragraphs:). Check out his blog at The Pandemonium Principle, bring your popcorn and a soda, you might be there awhile.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Radiohead and Their New Model

After I read this mediapost article, Radiohead Takes Aim At The Record Industry I just smiled and thought to myself here is another large step toward leveling the playing field and leveraging technology, an appreciation for foundational permission-based marketing techniques and unique thinking. Radiohead, or whoever makes the business decisions with them, are some smart cookies.

Some other bands have taken the liberty and seen the rewards to taking production and distribution control over their music, most notably Pearl Jam and a handful of hip-hop artists (see Cash Money Records)but letting your fans name their price for the music?? This is a first and will be, quite possibly, a revolutionary step for the industry.

Check out the full article HERE

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Its Creators Call Internet Outdated, Offers Remedies

This article that resides on The Wall Street Journal paints an interesting picture of the Internet and its infrastructure. This is a bit more technical than I usually put out through my blog, but I found it pretty interesting. You think this is legit, or are these guys simply using chicken little tactics to generate more business for themselves?

Link to The Wall Street Journal story here

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

What Timing

Read my last post then read this short piece from the MIXX awards from Seth Godin. Maybe Seth and I ought to get together and chat.

Pulled from the IAB's Daily SmartBrief:
Godin: This is the year
Author and marketing guru Seth Godin sat down with noted journalist Charlie Rose for an on-stage interview at the MIXX 2.7 conference. In front of a packed house, Godin explained his views on the new media environment. He said that when people look back from decades in the future, they will say that, "2007 was the year that it changed." What changed was that "detritus from the bubble" had cleared and there was no longer the need to waste time convincing marketers about the viability of online media or consumer access to broadband Internet. He said the way marketers think about advertising has to change, as well. The future, he said, "is not about finding new ways to hold people hostage."

NBCU and Microsoft partner to Bring You More Ads!!

Yeeeaahhhhhh! Just what everyone wants - more commercials. I really do not know where to start. This could launch into a 4 page diatribe and I realize most won't stay tuned for that long. Let me summarize this entire article up in one easy to digestable tidbit.

I quote directly from the piece, "The 'commercials as content' TV aspect debuts Oct. 22 on Ion, where it will run weeknights at 11 p.m. When not on the network,...."

Might I make a bold suggestion that they flip their model the other way around to a "content as commercial" TV aspect? Better yet, let's just leave it at a "content" TV aspect and allow some new thinking to enter the fray as it relates to "commercials." How about replacing commercials with content that is valuable to the audience based on behavior patterns? is it really considered a commercial if the audience actually chooses to engage with supplementary content? Or at that point is it merely add-on programming? Remove the thought process of selling crap to people from the entire equation. Instead figure out what content the audience sees as valuable and let them either choose it or leave it based on other content selection choices.

Someone steal my idea and make it work please. If not we will be stuck with...wait I cannot even remember the last commercial I saw, I must have changed the channel to other non-commercial content.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Getting Real Busy

Too many things to talk about right now but some notables are:
1. The basement is blowing up - lots of work being done and some very notable projects to show off here in the near future
2. MTV gets more traffic on their site to watch VMA clips than they get on the tube - what's new?
3. Schematic sells
4. Online still kicking a lot of butt in the growth department while the others continue to shrink
5. Finding old acquaintances and letting go of some recent associates

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Press - the good and bad of it

What a week. The Basement got lots of press. That is great and I would like to thank all of our friends at the Indy Star, Inside Indiana Business and the IBJ for their willingness to run with the story of our new company launch.

The downside is sometimes the reporters do not get the story 100% correct. In the IBJ column, for example, it listed web development as one of our services - actually that is not accurate. We are a not a web development firm and anyone who has met with us in the last 30 or so days understands that. Also it listed Cantaloupe as a competitor, which they are not since we do not produce video podcasts and they do not produce animation or motion graphics for web or broadcast. Fine lines, but lines none the less.

Either way we are grateful for the coverage and we have seen web traffic at spike and our inbound leads spike as a result.

I have said, and executed for years, the combination of digital and pr communiaction is extremely effective.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Answer For Newspapers -- Online Video

Ripped from the digital pages of the Video Insider...

The Answer For Newspapers -- Online Video
by Mike Cassidy, Monday, Aug 27, 2007 12:15 PM ET
"NEWSPAPERS HAVE LONG BEEN SUFFERING a slow decline. Try talking to someone under the age of 18 and asking them where they get their news, weather, sports or classified listings. More often than not, their answers will include non-newspaper sources such as Comedy Central,, Yahoo Sports and Craigslist. Although these online properties have been increasingly eating away at newspaper budgets, there is hope. Personally, I am a big fan of newspapers. I think there is something enjoyable and nostalgic about sitting back and flipping through the pages of print publications. However, this new generation has become so accustomed to acquiring information via social networks, "The Daily Show," MTV, etc. that the tide has shifted for an industry founded by legendary names like Hearst and Pulitzer."

I have written plenty about this issue. It always is nice when others echo similar thoughts.

Click Here to read the entire article.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Don't Take My Word for it - Mr. BBDO Everybody...

Click here to check out this gem from our friends at Reuters and BBDO: New ad tactics can weather economic woes: BBDO

Two things strike me in this article:
1. Is this "new media" really that experimental in 2007?
From the article, "Omnicom Group's BBDO, long known as one of the top creative agencies for 30-second TV commercials, is among the agencies that have expanded into hot new areas, and in the process has won more than $1 billion in new ad accounts each of the past two years." $1 billion in new business? Doesn't sound so experimental to me.

I cannot sight one company that I know of who ran a responsible, proper PPC campaign or permission-based email campaign where it was not successful. The keys here are responsible and proper.

2. Also from the article, "But even before worries over the U.S. economy gained momentum, Osborn said marketers have been demanding that their spending on campaigns be justified with a clear way of tracking their impact on sales." and
"All new technologies make it easier and faster for consumers to do what they wanted to do all along. The bad news about that is you can't expect to hold anyone's attention longer than you can earn it," Robertson said in the interview.

"You've got to create stuff that is sufficiently compelling for them to choose to spend time with it. There is increasing pressure to create that kind of work," he said."

Earn the audience's attention - key. Understand them well enough to understand what they see as value and figure out how you are going to deliver it.

A great piece. Thanks Reuters and BBDO.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Believability or Integrity?

Usually on this blog I talk about some new technology or digital media strategy or some other concept revolving around media/marketing and what not. Usually relating to things that are not considered basic, standard or as simple as the concepts I mention in today's post.

I read a very good piece today that got me thinking about concepts that are about as rudimentary to our lives as pencils and paper. That being said why do some people have a difficult time executing these simple yet self-defining "ways?"

Click here to check out Seven Ways to Build Believability. This really could be titled "Seven Ways to Live with Integrity."

Really, if you live your life executing these seven "ways" are you really "building believability" or simply just living as a person who is known to have integrity? Who doesn't want to deal with a person known to have integrity? Who wants to deal with a witch doctor, a snake oil salesman, a slime ball, an empty suit, or whatever other tag you can come up with for that business person who exhibits behaviors that do not reflect integrity, honesty, sincerity and a get over no matter what it does to you mentality? I don't. It is painful. The short term feel good from the slick talk only goes so far, then when the BS runs out what do you have outside of a splitting headache and empty pockets?

This piece by Mr. Eikenberry, I believe, is intended for sales people. I believe it applies to many others. Choose those you associate with wisely, whether you are buying their goods, they are buying yours, you are doing business as partners, your friends and any one else you associate with. If you don't you just never know what kind of mess you may end up with. It is too bad that we have to be on alert for these types of unscrupulous folk.

Wouldn't it be great if we could relax a bit and just quit being so darn guarded, hey we're all friends here! Oh wait, I just got an email...hmmm...."transferring funds for this ousted King of Tanzania....I could earn a percentage....all I have do is get them my bank account numbers for the wire transfer...."


Tuesday, August 7, 2007

State the Obvious...Or Not

Today in the IAB SmartBrief and some other digital media newsletters the headline is trumpeted...

Report: Web ads will out earn U.S. newspapers by 2011
"The Net ad segment will expand by 21% a year to hit $62 billion in 2011, when it will surpass print, which is projected to reach $60 billion in the same time period, according to a report from Veronis Suhler Stevenson. The forecast also calls for broadcast TV, cable and satellite combined to reach $86 billion in 2011."

I ask this question, how much of that $62 billion in "web ads" will be on newspaper web sites? I have said this before a million times, but will say it again, no one, and I mean NO ONE is better positioned to leverage online advertising than newspapers. They are sitting pretty if someone at a major paper would pull their head out of the sand long enough to understand how they can deliver what they have delivered for years better than anyone else online - news. They already have the position, the brands and the reputation for serious journalism. They only have three weaknesses - 1. timeliness in a digital age and 2. an old crummy ad model that is crippled by point number one 3. an irrelevant obnoxious ad structure to their traditional paper product.

If anyone at our beloved local Indy Star is reading this (or at any other newspaper for that matter) I would be happy to come in and chat with you about a model that could help you trump Google in ad revenue and help you bridge over to the 21st Century. I am sitting on a 40 page document that spells it out step by step.

Click Here to read the full article that originally comes to us from the Financial Times.

Follow Up to LinkedIN Issue

I got LinkedIN to work only after I quit using IE for my Internet browser. I started using Firefox and now LinkedIN is working fine for me.

I purchased a pretty nice HP laptop for the new business and it came with Microsoft Vista Home Premium loaded on it with IE as the default (of course). When I started using this OS and browser combo that is when the problems started. Once I switched to Firefox on the same machine and OS it was fine.

FINALLY I got some response from LinkedIN support and this is what they said...

Thank you for contacting LinkedIn customer support. We apologize for the
looping experience you are having accepting invitations or logging into
your account. There is an anomaly that we are researching is not tied
to a single browser type or operating system affecting a very small
segment of our users. Please be patient and know that your messages
will be waiting on your account as we work through the issue.

Some options that have worked for users who also experienced this issue:

1. Try logging into your account on a different computer if that is

2. Trying clearing the cookies from your computer by following the
instructions below:

I already tried both of those and they did not work, Firefox was the key evidently.

Monday, August 6, 2007

LinkedIN Not Working

I have been very disappointed and frustrated with LinkedIN lately. It is not letting me update my profile information or accpet invites. When I try to update my profile (since I have changed my career path lately) and tried to accept invites from others it simply pushes me back to the sign in page, even though I am already signed in.

Anyone out there have any recommendations? I emailed their customer service through the email address they supply, was told it would be three daysbefore I got a response, it has been 5 and no response.

This stinks.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Official Shoe of The Basement

I almost forgot that every company needs an official shoe. It just so happens ours is the new black suede "Basement" Adidas. Keep an eye out at major retailers it will be available to purchase this fall.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

IPTV is in Your Kids' Bedrooms

Everyone is talking about IPTV and the fact that "it is coming." Hello. It is already here and more than likely in your kids' bedrooms.

If you have not recently chekced out the XBOX 360 and all that XBOX Live has to offer, I strongly suggest you do for a glimpse of IPTV in its current form. Movies, ecommerce, games, shorter form content, all available with your controller.

My friends it is not an illusion - it is here. Digital content has never been so accessible and once content producers start understanding how to effectively deliver this stuff - it will really get interesting.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

The Future - an interesting topic

It is interesting how a topic, like oh, let's say The Future, can hold so many different meanings to so many different people.

One person's vision of the future can be as clear as crystal, while their neighbor could have no thought processed at all about tomorrow, much less the next 5, 10 or even 30 years.

In my case I have made my living over the last several years not only reading, learning, understanding and applying the future to my career, but also to my life and the lives of others. I have firmly planted myself into the thick of the digital media transition and pride myself on how well I understand the direction in which the communications industry (mass media, segmented media, email, IM, mobile, WIFI, direct delivery systems, etc.) is going.

One thing that I have learned and think is incredibly ironic, is that as well as I understand and know the direction of this industry, I seem to have somehow lost track or become a bit less certain of my own future.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Take a Vacation

Every now and again it is good to sit back and take a vacation. Take a load off and enjoy some groundbreaking web sites courtesy of the FWA (Favourite Website Awards).

Click here to check out the site and enjoy the eye candy.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Bud.TV Asking for Help

What took so long? Seriously the initial article I saw said that by the time this initiative was done it would be a $600 million monster, however reports in the last 6 months or so are saying $30 - $60 million. Now they are peeling that back a bit. They could have achieved more spending less in this guy's opinion.

Check out the article by clicking HERE

Friday, May 25, 2007

Buy Buy Buy

Googel,Microsoft,Publicis, Google, Google.

These guys are buying companies like it is going out of style. I think Google alone is going to start another bubble. Common trait among those being purchased? You guessed it digital content producers and ad serving networks.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Even Al Ries is Jumping on the Bandwagon

Click Here to Visit the Ries Report
I am a big Al Ries fan - I think the guy is brilliant, but really, does he need a video site? I say it could benefit him greatly, if it was done in an engaging way. Watching him stand there and run through a powerpoint (reading off a prompter) for 15 minutes is not my idea of engaging media - even if it is one of the most brilliant marketers of our time.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Hat's off to Hot Box Pizza and the Talented Ball State Students

Check out A Slice for the Nice Guy courtesy of Hot Box Pizza and the students at Ball State's de-op program.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Digital Campaigns, Part 4 - Interactivity

In this day and age who wants a passive media experience? Push buttons, turn knobs, pause, play, fast forward, video games, less text more motion - it all contributes.

When creating an online experience (and that is what it should be - an EXPERIENCE) what sticks with your audience more? Sitting back and watching something or an actual opportunity to play?

The latter. Without boring you with stats - study after study shows that even simple levels of interactivity create a more lasting impression, longer exposure and more positive results than passive content. So, if you are still reading this passive content rest assured you will see better results if you can build in relevant interactivity.

How can you do this?
A few possibilities:
1. Let the audience play with your product - I have seen things as mundane as interactive 3D models of asthma inhalers get 4+ minute average usage times online - how does that compare to a 30 second passive TV spot when considering basis metrics like brand recall and impression?

2. Simple flash video games highlighting product features and value

3. Immediate response surveys

4. Creative user controls helping you create and/or direct your own personal online experience

Based on your objectives and audience there is much more to choose from.

As Confucius once said, "I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand."

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Really, what is marketing? Someone tell Sears.

Wow, what a week. A lot of things happened this week that are much more significant to my life than than what this post is about, however since we talk a lot about marketing here, I cannot ignore the opportunity to point out how no matter how much money you spend on TV, Radio, online or whatever, it just doesn't matter, and ends up being a complete waste of time, money and other resources if you cannot deliver on your commitment and promise as an organization. No one is perfect, certainly not me, however what I experienced this week with Sears, their lackluster product and poor execution on service, I feel like I have to talk about it. A lot of lessons to learn.

Lets examine the comments I tried to send through Sears customer service portion of its web site. I say tried because I submitted them and their web site would not confirm if they went through or not. How convenient. I then sent comments about that through their web site comments/feedback form letting them know that the other submittal form was not working - just like my one year old Kenmore (Sears brand)dishwasher.

The comments I sent:
"My father-in-law purchased a Kenmore Quiet Wash Ultra Guard 4 dishwasher from a Sears store in Indianapolis for my wife and I in January of 2006, and it was installed in January of 2006. Well, as of April 8, 2007 it quit working. We called your service line to find out when we could get a repair man out to look into it.

The clean light on the machine was blinking (which according to my owner's manual indicates that the heater circuit is bad) and after the person on the phone agreed that was potentially the problem, and that was a part of the electronic control board, I mentioned that it would be covered on the two year warranty for the control board. We then got into a debate about a fee he was telling me I would need to pay for having a delivery man show up to make the repair. The owner's manual says that under this two year warranty the repair would be "free of charge." Last time I checked that meant free of charge, not free parts and you pay for the repair man to show up. Which is ridiculous because I know the high hourly rate you charge for the repair man's time more than covers the part to be replaced. HERE IS OPPORTUNITY NUMBER ONE - AS A CUSTOMER SERVICE REP. DO NOT CONTRADICT WHAT A CUSTOMER HAS IN BLACK AND WHITE ON A PIECE OF SEARS LITERATURE. KNOW WHAT YOUR OWN WARRANTIES SAY AND AGREE WITH THEM. A HAPPY CUSTOMER IS A LOYAL CUSTOMER AND WILL WITH FUTURE BUSINESS MORE THAN MAKE UP FOR WHATEVER SMALL AMOUNT OF MONEY YOU LOSE IN THE SHORT TERM BY ACTUALLY HONORING YOUR WARRANTIES.

After that hurdle was eliminated and the guy on the phone (appropriately named Damien) agreed that free of charge meant exactly what it said,(it went from $69 to $55, then to no charge - if it was free of charge why was he bartering like some auctioneer?) he scheduled a repair man to show up between 8 am and 12 pm this past Tuesday.

This past Tuesday morning I got a call from the repair man at approximately 8:10 am letting me know that they were on their fix my water heater. I informed them that my dishwasher was the issue. They said they would call me back. They did telling me they could not get another repair man out to my house until the following Thursday. I said that was unacceptable and they would need to get someone out sooner. They magically got someone scheduled for this past Friday, yesterday between 1 and 5pm. Well, the guy got here and promptly told me that the entire motor was bad on the dishwasher. OPPORTUNITY TWO - EXECUTE ON YOUR COMMITMENT. YOU SAY YOU'LL BE THERE ON TUESDAY, BE THERE ON TUESDAY.

Wait let me get this right - a $450+ dishwasher, just over a year old has a motor that is shot? Yes, that is correct. Lucky me the motor is under a two year warranty too, but the labor cost me $144. I told the man that I really would just prefer to go buy a quality product rather than sink $144 on a motor that by the looks of it will be bad in another year, and this is where it gets interesting. OPPORTUNITY THREE - SELL A QUALITY PRODUCT. DON'T JUST SAY YOU MAKE AND SELL QUALITY STUFF, ACTUALLY DO IT AND WHEN YOUR "QUALITY" PRODUCT DOESN'T PERFORM LIKE A QUALITY PRODUCT, MAKE IT RIGHT BY YOUR CUSTOMERS. TIME AND TIME AGAIN THIS COMMON SENSE APPROACH IS PROVEN TO NOT ONLY KEEP EXISTING CUSTOMERS IT GROWS YOUR CUSTOMER BASE THROUGH WORD OF MOUTH REFERRALS.

He proceeds to tell me that all dishwashers are the same, no matter what I buy. My model wasn't even manufactured by Sears, and I replied that I do not care who built it, it is a Sears brand sold in Sears stores so Sears is responsible to make this right. He continued saying they are all junk and I am better off just fixing it because it really is a nice dishwasher. By his logic, it doesn't matter if I buy a $150 special or the $800+ super model, or if I buy from Sears, Best Buy, HH Gregg or Dan's Discount - they are all going to break in about a year. He highly recommended that on any appliance purchase I make in the future to purchase an extended warranty, because after all, he is a repair man and he buys extended warranties on all of his appliances because they are all junk. OPPORTUNITY FOUR AND FIVE - GET YOUR COMPANY REPS, WHETHER THEY ARE IN SERVICE, SALES OR BOTH IN THIS INSTANCE, COMMUNICATING IN A WAY THAT PUTS THE CUSTOMER AT EASE, BUILDS CONFIDENCE AND CREATES A GOOD EXPERIENCE, NOT THE OPPOSITE. DO NOT PUT PROBLEM SOLVING BACK ON THE SHOULDERS OF THE CUSTOMER. FIX IT FOR THEM - BE THE SOLUTION. IN THIS INSTANCE I AM SUPPOSED TO SOLVE EVERYTHING BY SPENDING MORE MONEY ON AN EXTENDED WARRANTY, WHICH IMPLIES THAT I AM STUPID FOR NOT BUYING IT IN THE FIRST PLACE. RATHER SEARS IS THE PROBLEM FOR NOT SELLING A QUALITY PRODUCT OR FIXING AN UNUSUALLY PROBLEMATIC ONE ON THEIR DIME - THEY JUST SHOVED IT ALL ON THE CUSTOMER - BAD MOVE.

Amazing. Maybe he is honest, maybe he gets commissions on selling extended warranties and this is his "pitch". I do not know, however it is incredibly frustrating to have a "higher end" Kenmore/Sears product where the motor goes out in a year. Then to turn around and have to pay for the repair is an even bigger offense.

Needless to say, I will never purchase another Sears product, no matter if it is clothing, appliances, shoes, tools, whatever, I am done with your company. It is unfortunate that you choose to treat your customers this way. And yes, I have communicated this all to my in-laws and they will not be purchasing anything from you anymore either. I will be communicating this on my blogs and will be sure to inform anyone who I speak with about homes, home care, appliances, etc about my experience with Sears and recommend they stay clear of you, your products and your service.

It is unfortunate that a once successful model in American corporate business has sunk to become such a poor example of how not to operate.

I went to your corporate web site to send this to one of your corporate leaders, but they are not accessible via email, mail or any other means, which may be part of your problem. It would do them good to see this kind of feedback to drive some real change and growth. Unfortunately they seemed to be very insulated and talk a lot about their "numbers" that they were reporting to Wall Street. Which, by the way, will really be the indicator of how poor your products, service and business practices are once all of your disgruntled customers quit buying from you. OPPORTUNITY SIX - AS A CORPORATE LEADER, NO MATTER HOW BIG THE COMPANY IS, MAKE YOURSELF ACCESSIBLE AT SOME LEVEL, TO YOUR CUSTOMERS. INSULATING YOURSELF AND BEING A SUITED UP PROTOTYPE BABBLING ABOUT QUARTER TO QUARTER COMPARISONS OF PROFITABILITY DOES NOT SELL MORE DISHWASHERS OR HELP THOSE THAT HAVE MALFUNCTIONING ONES. HOWEVER SELLING LESS OF THESE MACHINES, OR NOT ADDRESSING THOSE WHO HAVE PROBLEMS WITH THEM WILL ULTIMATELY GIVE YOU LESS TO TALK ABOUT WHEN IT COMES TO QUARTER BY QUARTER COMPARISONS OF PROFITABILITY - HOW IRONIC.

By the way, I did pay for the repair. Why you might ask. I figured you would charge me something to have the repair man out and to pay for listening to this guy and getting nothing in return but a headache seemed wrong on many levels. So I paid for the repair, however once it goes out in another year I will replace this with some other non-Sears brand that has a reputation for quality, in product and how it is backed.

Thank you for your time,
Jacob Leffler

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Let's Take a Break from the Business Stuff

One of my all time favorites Stevie Ray Vaughan (God Rest His Soul) doing a killer duet with his brother Jimmy Vaughan. Seeing as Spring/Summer is around the corner. A little beach music. Pipeline. Enjoy.

Digital campaigns, Part 3 - Distribution Channels

All right part three of the five part series...

Distribution. The internet has really made this a bit more accessible and afforadable for the local band, the independent filmmaker, the company who wants to grow quickly and just about everyone else with a pc and a high speed connection.

Let's apply part one, permission with part three, distribution. Find the connectors (those that will like what you are offering so much that they will send along to their larger audiences) and ensure that you are offering relevant information or offerings to them and 'poof' they will turn around and distribute your material to their larger audience. Is it really that simple? If you get permission, are relevant, and offer an engaging experience - yes it can be that easy. Don't believe me? Check out and understand that the 100,000+ unique visits it achieved in about one week could not have happened without connectors passing it along through blogs, forums, web sites, emails, MySpace, YouTube, etc.

This is a new day and age and broadband makes the transfer of our information faster than we could have ever imagined. Coming soon, part four, Interactivity.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Viacom and YouTube at it again

The Online-Video Takedown Smackdown
Filmmakers say their material is being unfairly removed from video-sharing sites, accusing Viacom and its ilk of censorship
A great piece in this week's BusinessWeek magazine.

To check out the entire article go here.

Awhile back I wrote about Viacom and NBC getting nasty about their content being posted to sites like YouTube. The general feeling was who cares if these large media companies pull their stuff from YouTube? You can find their content on the TV anyway. Reserve the space online for content that otherwise cannot get accessed through traditional mediums. Now, according to this article from BusinessWeek due to Viacom's aggressive content removal approach, content that is not in violation of any copyright laws is being yanked off of YouTube. Wow, this is heating up to be quite a mess for everyone.

One thought I had, it is kind of funny how these large media companies (who by the way make billions off of their content) are going after and upsetting a lot of people who may very well be their patrons in some way, shape or form.

I believe these companies (Viacom, NBC and others) have every right to monetize their content, I mean that is their business model, however their ignorance to how this posting of their content promotes their profit center is astounding.

They are only making heroes out of those they are trying to hurt. You would think with all of the money, resources and personnel that Viacom, NBC and others have, they would be able to come up with a solution that kept their content profitable, kept their patrons/audience happy and helped them transition into the new information age. It is truly amazing that they continue to proceed without a clear solution. Interesting stuff.

Friday, February 23, 2007

A Newsletter Can Say a Lot...or Not

I got an email newsletter from a marketing group in town today. I read through the newsletter and spotted a few things I think we can learn from and apply in our own communications.

1. Speak plain English. We know you are smart people. Putting myself in the shoes of a potential customer reading your email, you don't have to show us that you won the metaphorical Olympics or are far superior than us in the field of marketing through your jargon laden writing. Folks tend to appreciate a straight shot of communique, minus the industry jargon and MBA-esque $5 words.

On a side not this is one reason I believe our group resonates so well with executive decision makers - we take what is complicated to them and remove the gobbledy gook techie/hip industry lingo and put it in business terms that they can understand and relate back to what they care about - promoting understanding and growing their business.

Excerpt from the email...
Jane Doe joined XYZ company on January 1. Her role? Funky title that does not bear repeating because it really doesn't mean anything to their audience. The person who knows how to add Tabasco to brand ideas by translating marketing speak to creative speak. Jane Doe brings 30 years of branding creativity to the team, having worked with clients like...fill in the blank with big company names.

I italicized the words I thought would serve only to confuse the hell out of someone not "in the know." Why not say she has great experience, is tremendous at helping both creative professionals and marketing professionals understand business objectives so that the end result is success? Or something simple like that? How does this translate into how we speak about our people, our products and ourselves? As those hired to help market others - is this what is being hired - big words that serve to confuse?

Another excerpt...
Jane Doe has collected over 300 creative awards from One Show, Clio, The International TV & Film Festival, the Emmys and many others. She’s judged many branding and creative competitions and enjoys teaching brand strategy and creativity to Visual Communication students at XYZ school.

Great. What has she done for clients? I bet she has done a ton for her clients - more than we can imagine, yet it is not mentioned. Not even eluded to. From this I gather she enters a lot of her work into contests and judges like it. I understand it is good to win awards. However, from the point of view that this email goes out to potentially hundreds of future clients, what is more important to promote, awards or results? How about both? I have been on the client side and as a potential customer I was always leery of those that promoted themselves as big award winners. I could have cared less. I wanted to know how they grew revenue, grew audiences, and improved processes in the marketing arena.

Is this why so many CMOs get canned after a year or two? Do they get caught up in the same traps that so many marketing, communications and ad folks get sucked into? Is it really more about awards than results? Of course it is not, but perception, as we all know, is a powerful thing.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Wow, how fickle the media gods can be

Budweiser is succeeding and failing at the same time.

Budweiser had some interesting and some real good spots on during this year's super bowl. Don't take my word for it, scan the web and check out reviews and commentary sites. Many crowned the "King of Beers" as the king of commercials during this year's big game broadcast.

They had one spot that I thought was quite funny - the spot of the auctioneer presiding over a young couple's wedding. Someone (not Budweiser) dropped that spot on YouTube and they have achieved 750,000+ views at the cost of $0. Yes, that is right - nothing to get exposed to hundreds of thousands of people. They spent millions to get exposed to millions during the game.

Here is the other side of the story. Anheuser Busch spent $600 million to launch I usually link to these things, but I am fairly confident that you will not be able to get in the site, so I am not bothering with the link. What makes me so confident you ask? I went to last week and registered on the site including lots of personal information to help them verify that I am over 21 years of age. The site said it could not verify my age so I could not gain access. I emailed Budweiser and communicated my dilemma. They emailed me back like 3 days later with a nice note and a 1-800 number to call to get registered. I called.

I gave the guy on the other end of the line tons of personal info. all in the name of age verification - including my driver's license ID number, current zip code, prior zip code, etc. Another three days and they emailed me an access code. I went back to the site and re-entered all of my info. plus the access code. No luck. The site said it still could not verify my age even with the access code sent to me by the Budweiser gestapo.

Okay, since this experience I have since seen that these issues are occurring for quite a few over 21 potential site visitors. $600 million and you cannot view the content!! $0 and 750,000 views of a spot. Think about that for a few minutes and as a marketer understand the difference. Accessibility, usability, engagement, ease of use, ease of sharing, open vs. closed environments, transparency and audience segmentation. What roles do all of these play in these very different scenarios for Budweiser?

Digital campaigns - Part 2, Be Relevant

If I had a dime every time I heard a marketer or advertiser state that their job is to change someones mind, convince, alter behavior, create a moment, etc. I would blog on how to spend millions, not marketing.

Before marketers had to compete with thousands of other marketers for one person's attention every single day, they had much better chances to accomplish their goals.

Oh how times have changed. Now it isn't so much about pushing as it is about getting your audience to pull. How is this accomplished? Be relevant. It is that simple. How do become relevant?

1. Understand your audience and what they like
2. Have something that offers real value to whoever it is you are interested in reaching. This is the single most important reason people will want to hear from you and continue to hear from you.
3. Your offering should first address a want, then address a need. People buy on emotion and back up their decision with facts.
4. When you get in front of your desired audience make sure you are giving them what they want in an engaging way - be fun, be original in an earnest way, and understand the value of transparency. In today's world, people are increasingly skeptical and in search of the real story. Give it to them.

It can be that simple. Be relevant.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Marketers, make it easy

What is the true mark of a great marketing campaign? Is it sizzling creative, the best laid strategic plans, enough measurement to make yours eyes bleed? I think those things are great, but seriously, isn't the best marketing campaign one that makes it easy for the target audience to actually make and complete a purchase?

Case in point, a few months ago I wrote in this very blog about this awesome house I saw advertised in Business 2.0 magazine. This home is truly amazing. It cuts your utilities by 85% a month and is about as efficient and eco-friendly as you can get! I think it looks cool too.

I went straight to the web site hell bent for leather trying to figure out how I could move into one of these homes ASAP. Well, here is where it gets rough. I go to the web site, get all of the information about how great this house is and how much it makes sense to have this "hybrid home" and I search hard and long for contact information so I can figure out how to get my hands on one of these homes. I finally find an email address and shoot out a message as fast as my stiff fingers can type. No response, for weeks no response. By now my excitement is waning a bit.

But wait, I finally got an email response. It tells me to call a number to speak with a rep. from the company that manufactures a lot of the great materials this home is made of. I call and leave a voice mail. I get a call back about 3 days later. I speak with a lady in Arizona about how great this house is. "How can I be the first guy in Indiana to live in one of these homes?" I asked. "Well, I do not know." she responds. She proceeds to tell me that I can contact a rep. from her company that resides in Frankfort, IN if I want their super efficient basement wall materials. I laughed and said, "You do not understand I wan the entire house. I have no need for basement walls - I want to build the house you advertised." She replied, "We did not advertise that house, BASF did. We just supplied the basement walls." I already tried contacting BASF and they gave me this woman's contact info. at this company's headquarters.

Let's review: BASF spent tons of cash on slick web sites, an ad campaign in multiple magazines, got me interested enough to call to inquire about building a house, and they could not or would not even take my call. They referred me to one of their suppliers who can't even give me direction other than contacting an area rep. that only sells basement walls. Might I ask what is the point? If I cannot go and buy BASF materials, or even have this home built, why are they paying all of this money to advertise to me? Am I stupid or is it a complete waste of my time and their money? Or is it their money and my time?

If they are going for awareness and not revenue, okay, but even then, why? Okay BASF can make a cool house that is efficient. If this house is not buildable in the markets in which they advertise, what are they going to do with it? Put it in a museum? When I contacted BASF and their partner, neither one had any inkling that they gave two hoots about getting these homes built or even selling their products to a home builder or buyer. I guess I am at a loss here. From a marketing stand point what is the objective? What are they trying to accomplish?

Digital campaigns - Part 1, Get Permission

This is old news to a lot of marketers in the year 2007, but in this day and age when, at last researched count, the average American is exposed to 3,000 - 5,000 messages a day. That includes everything from logos on computers to signage to commercials on the TV, Radio and the web to the symbols on their shoes, labels on clothing, branding on cereal boxes and packaging for their new toothbrush. Marketing messages are EVERYWHERE. And most are interruptive. In other words we do not ask to see them.

All of that being said what if you could, as a marketer, discover those that actually want to hear from you? Is this so out of the question? For decades the mindset has been "How do we get their attention and persuade?" Well, now I believe the shift is slowly moving to, and has been for quite some time, "How do we understand what they want and/or need and deliver on that want/need?" How do we become relevant? How do we adapt and stay that way? Wouldn't it be nice if your audience actually looked forward to what you had to offer or say because they valued it? What a concept!

Once you have someones permission the next step to success is to not bore your audience. Engage and motivate. How you do this is entirely up to you. I have found that the more the audience can participate, or become involved usually the more successful you can become in not only keeping their attention but getting them to spread the word.

Permission, in my humble opinion, is the absolute foundation for today's most successful marketing campaigns. It sets the stage for a lot of great communication and a dynamic relationship. It shows your audience that you respect them enough to honor their desire on whether or not they wish to engage. That goes a long way.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Grey's Anatomy, wireless broadband and my laptop...

Anymore I have a very hard time sitting down and watching television. Not because I do not like to sit and watch the tube, but because so much of what is on is just flat out bad. The writing, the character development, etc. is just poor. What I like to watch is not on when I want to watch it.

Enter wireless broadband connectivity and a laptop. Aaahhhhh relief.

Recent research pointed out that those that spend any significant time at all on video based sites like YouTube spend considerably less time watching television. Not really a shocking find, but interesting none the less.

Back to Grey's Anatomy. My lovely wife Beth likes to watch that show. I like to end my day relaxing with her, but I despise that show. Herein lies the problem. That is until I hooked up the wireless broadband in the house. Now she can watch that crappy show and I can get on the laptop and get work done, surf the web and actually find content that I enjoy. Maybe create a new post to this old blog. If Beth was not into that show the TV would probably be off and we would both be laughing at some clip that I found online.

The moral of this long story is this - research or no research, with wireless broadband I can get what I want, where I want when I want. It is that straight forward. Any company that wants to sell me something listen up. I am spending increasingly less time in front of the tube and more time online. I like interacting with content and people when I am online. Does this mean quit your TV spots? No, but it does suggest you might want to start understanding how you can diversify your media budget to accommodate tomorrow's audience. It means fundementally the way we communicate and engage with communication is changing. My behavior is driving the change based on content that I like to gather, watch and interact with. It is approaching critical mass and is the future. Media companies you can keep creating "Grey's Anatomy", keep writing more bizarre plot lines that are so ridiculous that they mirror 1970's psychodelic b-movies except everyone is in scrubs, keep adding more suggestive scenes, murder, sex, hot chicks and hunky guys (this seems to be the standard network formula for getting attempting to get a bigger audience) but you will still keep losing your audience.

People, even if they like your shows, will continue to gravitate to a model that allows them to do things on their schedule, without interruptions, that gives them the chance to become a participant. Relevancy and timeliness are more paramount now than ever before. Freedom should not be discounted in this country - even as it relates to consuming media.

I will end here. In the next couple of posts I will start getting into some basic step by step approaches to creating future-focused communication. There are so many opportunities with new media it can be overwhelming. But if we all understand a few basic ground rules, it becomes easer to figure out what can work for you.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Keep it up NBC, Viacom and others...

In the last couple of days it is great to see Viacom and NBC showing some of their real colors as it relates to how they want to approach their content and open range digital distribution.

I personally think this is a good thing. If you want to see NBC's content or one of any of Viacom's offerings you can tune in on any given night of the week on any television in the country. However, to catch content created by you, me or some other independent producer where can you go? That's right you go online because that is the only place you can find it. It surely is not on NBC, MTV or any other broadcaster's feed. So, if NBC and Viacom want to take their toys and go home leaving YouTube and a handful of other online content distributors to the masses...I say great. More bandwidth for the next Steven Spielberg to get his masterpiece out to a willing audience. Click the title of the article below to view the entire piece.

NBC’s Zucker lashes out at YouTube
By Joshua Chaffin and Francesco Guerrera in New York

Published: February 6 2007 22:12 | Last updated: February 7 2007 02:03

Jeff Zucker, on his first day as chief executive of NBC Universal, came out swinging at YouTube, accusing the online video site of failing to deploy its technology to protect the copyrighted materials of traditional media companies.

“YouTube needs to prove that it will implement its filtering technology across its online platform. It’s proven it can do it when it wants to,” Mr Zucker said, referring to the site’s controls to block pornography and hate speech. He added: “They have the capability. The question is whether they have the will.”

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Web 2.0

Here is a video that Ryan Hupfer sent me that does a pretty good job of explaining the evolution of the web from static sites to what a lot of people are now calling Web 2.0.


Thursday, February 1, 2007

Bear vs Colt proving the model

In about 4 days the ongoing saga of Bear vs Colt has taken the world by storm. Being featured as THE #1 web site on Yahoo's "The 9" yesterday and now being featured on Fox Sports own FunHouse web site , Bear and Colt are definitely proving that a viral campaign that has some strategic objectives is not only doable, but also can be incredibly successful.

If you are here, we'll make it simple on you - vote for your side right now.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Lead Generation - What it is all about

Seriously what do you have a web site for anyway? It is the sales person that never sleeps. It help your audience better understand you, your value - your story. In this day and age it is your own private network. In turn it generates leads for your organization. Here is an article that makes some good points about how to optimize your web property for lead generation. I will say that you can add a "#6" to the author's "5 tips."

Last but not least - you have no right to bore your audience. I have read and agree with research that suggests that most web browsers make the decision to stay or go on a site within 2 seconds. Let's face it - pics and text don't grab the senses like they used to. Strategic, engaging content that understands your audience enough to be relevant and valuable to their lives (not necessarily yours) is a great way to get them and keep them on board; then you can focus on getting them to convert to a lead. Enjoy the read.

Practicing the Best in Online Lead Gen
By Dan Felter | January 22, 2007

A Popcorn-Shilling Zombie??

This may be one of the funniest Bob Garfield ad reviews I have ever read. Easy target, but still a riot. Read the review by clicking here

Skip straight to the Orville Redenbacher "Zombie" spot by clicking here

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

MySpace for Dummies Launch

My buddies Hup and Mitch launching their new book MySpace for Dummies at Hot Box Pizza in Broad Ripple.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Streaming Google

I ran across an interesting article this morning. Google is experimenting a bit more with streaming video. However, this time it is for ad and marketing messaging, not simply user content through their Google video model.

After reading this piece my mind immediately wandered to where the business model is for Google with streaming video. The example in the article states that Google has started experimenting with streaming ad messages that run at different times during the Charlie Rose show that resides on the site. Then the article starts talking about where they placed the ads (beginning and the middle of the show).

Let's start there. I always love how the media trades focus on where the spots are placed. Is it "pre-roll" which is just a fancy way of saying the spot runs at the beginning, before the actual show begins. Or they make a big deal about how revolutionary it is that instead of pre-roll someonoe actually runs the spot in the middle of the streaming video program. Gee, it sounds just like TV to me. No real revolution there. If people tune out of TV spots, why wouldn't they do the same of these spots assuming they are as irrelevant?

Positioning is not the story here, in this guy's opinion. I believe this is merely a test. I think this is a largely developer driven company testing more with streaming media. I believe Google realizes that they can, will and should get on the streaming content bus. However, they are smart enough to know that doing so without a great model that keeps content relevant is a waste. Their adsense program is a great example - that even with boring text ads - relevancy can win the day.

So, where does this all fit. I think that Google is thinking about and starting to flirt with search relevant video ads - the same concept as their adsense program, just with streaming content instead of or in addition to text ads. If you see what they are doing with BSkyB in Britain you would see that I am not uts, rather they are brilliant. This model can be applied to traditional publications online models (newspapers, TV, etc.) and give them a model they have never had - one based on relevancy to the user's behavior based on content search and consumption.

It is just a shame Google is the one always coming up with these models. The technology is not that daunting, the idea behind the profitable business model however, is. The enormity of the opportunity is HUGE.

The article -
Google Tests In-Stream Video Ads

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Bud.TV - what took so long?

Ran across a new piece this morning regarding the large new initiative created by Anheuser Busch - Bud.TV
The headline...
Anheuser-Busch Speaks! Execs Talk Bud.TV

Let me give you the highlights, most of which are pulled straight from the article which I link to, in full, below...

- On February 5, 2007 they will launch an online entertainment network called Bud.TV. The research suggests, that adults 21 to 27 are using the Internet minimally six hours a week, and obviously that's growing. Budweiser needed to continue to move more of their marketing, and specifically media resources, as they try to reach the consumer, into the digital space.

- Whoa!! 10% of their total media budget, $606.7 million, was the budget for this project. That is coming directly out of network TV and cable TV spending.

- It is likely you will never see a 30-second promotional, other than maybe showcasing Bud Super Bowl spots. It will be using the Internet in a way that 21- to 27-year-old consumers will appreciate. There will be many consumer user components; AB brands will be more integrated into the programming and the site, almost in the form of product placement versus the traditional 30-second commercial.

- There are going to be seven, maybe eight, channels as they get started with different themes.

- The content that AB develops and what airs on Bud.TV will be proprietary; unless you download it and stream it to a buddy, you will not be able to see their content on any other site.

- AB says they wanted their creative to be proprietary, however and I quote "Now, say that one of the TV Shows, 'Replaced By a Chimp' airs for three weeks, and we move one of our shows to archives and somebody else, like say, YouTube wants it on their site… somebody may put it up on YouTube anyway, or on MySpace, if they have their own page."

- When you come onto the site, they will have a profile page you need to fill out-- not only just asking your birth date, but gender, likes, dislikes, et cetera so they can -- if you so choose, and opt to -- develop a customized page for Bud.TV. Say, you like their "Happy Hour Show," the "Comedy Show" and "Hollywood," and that is all you want to see when it is refreshed. You can opt in, put it on your desktop, and when it is refreshed there will be a ding, or a sound, that you know you have refreshed content on the site.

In this author's opinion this is brilliant. Why force a user to go through the process of the public browser (it makes the IE vs. Mozilla issue moot!) and searching a site when you can offer the content they want automatically straight to their desktop. We have discussed this for two years and it is great to see someone taking advantage of this opportunity!

The link to the full article and it is a long one - but well worth the read...
Anheuser-Busch Speaks! Execs Talk Bud.TV

Monday, January 1, 2007

Happy New Year

Happy New Year! It new year's day approximately 9:10 am, the kids are watching Peter Pan, my wife is getting things organized for school (she is a teacher) and I am blogging until I fix everyone breakfast. Doesn't feel so new to me yet.

Last night Beth (my wife) and I were watching that super cool guy Carson Daly and his New Year's Eve countdown to 12 o'clock. We watched maybe 20 minutes. It was interesting only because he kept making it a point to mention the TIME magazine Person of the Year issue only about 10 times and how 2006 was an important year for the web. He went on to talk briefly about YouTube and MySpace.

I found it so ironic. When he was conducting his interviews and just bantering about it seemed very loose and unscripted, but when he started waxing philosophical about 2006 he seemed to jump straight to the teleprompter and read very rigidly from the screen. A TV guy reading verbatim from a script praising the web and it's ability to empower us, the general public, and give us a voice - all from reading a teleprompter like a robot - during a goofy New Year's Eve countdown show. It felt strange to me. Very strange. Whatever the case I love seeing the traditionals giving the web it's props.