Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Augmented Reality Holiday Greetings from The Basement

At The Basement Design + Motion we like trying new things and we especially enjoy it when it involves creative ideas, fun and certain technologies.

Check out THIS LINK to view a special augmented reality holiday greeting from The Basement.

It was a great way to do a little r&d on AR and spread some seasonal cheer at the same time.
Enjoy and have a great holiday season and wonderful new year!


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Lessons Learned from a Tumultuous Year

I am not a big fan of looking back at a year and reminiscing about all the things that happened. This time of year the "year in review" shows pop up and you cannot seem to get away from them.

One thing I think is a good use of time is reflecting on a year and picking out the lessons learned that can help make the next year better, more fruitful and a step ahead of the past. After all, based on 2009 and all that transpired, are there not a ton of lessons that can be taken away and built upon?

From my own personal stash box of experience this year I can legitimately say there are many takeaways that I know I can learn from and build upon....

Even before numero uno family and friends are the MOST valuable piece of your life. No matter how bad things get, if you have a loving family and loyal friends, you are wealthy.

1. Nothing is guaranteed. I do not care how much you think something will happen - for better or worse - do not consider done until it is indeed done.

2. Never assume the big talk equals big results. This year has been a real eye opener as it relates to people, how they communicate and how they actually deliver. Many big talkers, few doers. This is no revelation, but I think the economy and desire for many to "be the story" has influenced big talk, even when there is no execution to support it. The result; lots of people/companies that do not want to face the truth as it relates to a poor year for many, thus misguided action, strategy and burnt relationships.

3. Take the time to learn. Do not stop. No matter how secure you think you are in your little piece of the universe, others are chomping at the bit to challenge you, test you, compete and win. This is a good thing! Yes, competition is a good thing. It helps you keep your claws sharp and mind on the goal.

4. Fiscal conservatism is the new wealth. Flashy debt is the new welfare.

5. Stay focused, do not jump around the market hoping to get that one deal. Focus pays off time and time again, even in a crappy economy.

6. Especially in the digital marketing vertical, there are a lot of flakes. Don't get lazy and become a flake, and you will succeed. Even in a bad economy, customers still appreciate those that deliver. Customers still ditch those that don't. Deliver on your commitments and you will be appreciated and shared.

Last, but definitely not least, no matter how ridiculous our politicians behave, no matter how crazy our world becomes, you have a sphere of influence and you have the ability to positively impact those around you. In personal life and professional life, act ethically, work hard and do what you think is right and you will fair well.

Have a great Christmas, or whatever holiday you celebrate, and good luck in 2010.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Giving Away Free Product Does Not Make for a Successful Marketing Campaign

I had the occasion to read about a pretty neat marketing campaign executed by IKEA for the launch of a new European location store opening. It was run through facebook.

The way the campaign was handled and the idea behind it was really unique, it leveraged facebook beautifully, and it was viewed as successful by many in the social media/marketing communities.

A few things grabbed my attention about this campaign that I thought were good tidbits for conversation:
1. One social media pro exclaimed this campaign was proving the death of the micro site
2. IKEA successfully got people on facebook to post IKEA products on their own pages, and in return had a chance to get free furniture
3. IKEA gave away quite a bit of free furniture - or at least that is the message that was communicated through the case study I saw
4. Nowhere did I see how much furniture was actually sold at the grand opening - or even how many people showed up at the grand opening of this new store (the whole point of the campaign as I understood it)

We can take this point by point.....
1. Taking the buzz word "micro site" off the table and looking at the purpose of that tactic - usually to promote a specific product launch, service launch, promotion, limited time offer, etc. A person's profile page on facebook, with all of the API function and rich media capabilities, now basically fills or can fill that same role. The "micro site" based on its function and not its name, is still a micro site it just now lives within the facebook framework. So I guess, the micro site is not dead, it just has a new place to live outside of a unique url address. Facebook, in essence, becomes the "micro site's" browser. Sorry my overzealous friend the "micro site" or as I might call it - the highly focused web promotion - is not dead.

2. IKEA did a great job, and saw a lot of free impressions and some interactivity with their brand in having general consumers spreading their word for them. This is definitely a win for positive brand experience. No need for a long dissertation here.

3. What was IKEA's objective for this initiative? Was it to give away a lot of free furniture? It was made clear that this store did not have a big budget for this store launch, so how much budget did they have to give away free product? If they gave away a lot, did they really save any $$ on their budget? If they did not give away a lot of furniture, did that upset potential customers? None of this explored or explained in the case study I read. The piece made it sound like they gave away a lot of furniture, and if that is true, I must ask, isn't selling furniture the point of all of this?

4. The best scenario I can come up with is why not run this promotion for their e-commerce platform to boost online sales? The fact that the case study did not say how much furniture was sold, or how many people showed up at the store tells me that it probably was not that impressive. If I am wrong, and they saw a big return, then if I was them I would trumpet that from the rooftops.

In closing, I think getting a ton of people to share your product online is great exposure, but many executives are wanting sales, above and beyond impressions and viral passing along of their message. If you are someone selling social media marketing strategy and execution, you ought to know one of the biggest stumbling blocks to a significant budget allocation for you is the lack of tangible ROI cases for social tactics and efforts. Whether you like it or not, that is the tell tale proof for many executives to pull the trigger on a significant budget allocation.

If I am IKEA, I love the case study, but if I do not see a store traffic bump, sales bump or both over time, It was a waste of time, product and money.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Muppets - Bohemian Rhapsody

I have always been a Jim Henson fan. As a result, I have always enjoyed The Muppets. I have even written about them in the past. I have seen this passed around quite a bit recently, so I thought I would share it with you. Henson's beloved Muppets doing their version of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Starting a Business? Stick to Your Guns.

If you are thinking about starting a business, especially a business that is either directly involving digital media, technology, application development (marketing, operations, ecommerce, etc.) or even just related to these industries I am dedicating this blog post to you. I want to share some experiences I have had in hopes that you will take them and steer clear of some potential snags. Hopefully you can learn from my experience and take advantage of the opportunities that exist in our beautiful free market while avoiding some potential pitfalls.

This could be a very long blog post. I have enough mistakes over my career to fill several posts. In the name of keeping this somewhat manageable, I will only focus on a few key and, in my opinion, critical things to be aware of.

If you have started a company or are planning on launching your own company and you have what you believe is something of value (service or product or combo of both) I recommend you do a few things:

1. Research the hell out of your offering and the industry/market you will be in, the current state of your industry, current offerings, and the companies/people who are offering anything closely related to what you want to sell. You need to understand the competitive landscape. I have launched four companies, none of them launched with a single client. Three out of the four have seen success in a relatively short period of time. The three that are successful - a ton of research and market analysis prior to launch. This analysis included an honest assessment of potential clients, how many exist, how many realistically would engage with my new venture, and how developed the market was/is for these offerings. After all, if the market is not ready for you, or if it is past you, you will not have much success. Timing is critical. If you have competitors, are they good? Are they mediocre? What will make you unique? Will you blend in with everyone else? It is always tougher to ski on a crowded lake. What about the company that did not find success you ask? We rushed in with what we thought was a phenomenal idea. We were first to market with our idea, the technology was ground breaking in an industry that was and still is growing by leaps and bounds. Sounds perfect right? Wrong. We did not have a good enough understanding of all of the hoops we would have to jump through to get the necessary clients, we did not have a good enough foothold in the industry we were entering because we had not done our homework. We rushed in and the result was a quick start with eventual tapering results. If your technology is that good/unique, you most likely will have enough time to handle the pre-launch due diligence.

2. Avoid those trying to get your something for nothing. If someone you meet makes you an offer that seems to early, to good to be true, or too eager to make you a deal consult your business attorney. If this saint in a suit is truly looking to help you launch, secure the big deal or simply leverage what you have for their interests, that is great, just don't go too far down a road without consulting others that have more experience in these matters, specifically your attorney. After all if this person or group is a legit opportunity and they really have a good business relationship in the cue, they will have no problem getting it set up right from the get go. If the approaching party is shy about involving attorneys or even documenting the relationship details, run the other way. You will only be avoiding future headaches and potentially losing your intellectual property with no recourse. Even if the deal does not work out, and your suitor is not legit, that is a good sign you may be on to something.

3. If you are dealing an application play never let others see your source code unless you have a document that protects your ownership rights to that code, or a document that outlines the sale of that code. Seems obvious, but you may be surprised at how many coders and app. developers get ripped off.

4. Review #2 - when people throw money around multiple conversations, it is easy to believe it especially when your new company is hungry for revenue. Do not drink the kool-aid.

5. Stick to your guns. This may be the most important point. If you have done your due diligence, you have a truly unique offering, a better way to do things, a superior product, a unique position in the market, the next big app., whatever you believe is going to be a success and make you a successful entrepreneur, if you take the leap - do not give up. Do not listen to naysayers (they are probably scared of your offering, esp. if they are perceived competitors). Ignore the nonsense and focus squarely on your plan, your offering, your clients, your business development efforts, your operations. Give it every ounce of energy you have. Work it until you feel like you are going to die. If you stop short of any of this and quit believing you are the only one to give the market your "thing" you will fail. Stick to your guns. Stick to them despite a bad month of sales. Stick to them despite a server meltdown. Stick to them despite your friends not understanding what the hell it is you do for a living. Stick to them despite not being able to talk shop with your family at Thanksgiving. Don't look back, keep moving forward.

One quick story about sticking to your guns. We launched The Basement when I had less than a month's income to my name, two children, a wife who had been dealing with a wacky self-employed husband for years, our family house was up for sale do to the whole lack of income thing, and we did not have one client or one dime in our company bank account. We stuck to our guns - all I can say is my family is still in our home, it is not up for sale, we are running a successful business with a great client list (most of which are return clients many times over), new clients jumping on board monthly, we have a ton of positive new opportunities on the cusp and an awesome staff. Sure this year has not been all roses with a nasty economy, but that being said, we are hanging tough and there are blue skies ahead.

We stuck to our guns.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

3 to 5 Year Business Planning

As time goes by I sometimes think about the businesses I have been a part of, and of course my favorite memories are of the businesses I have helped create from scratch. If I was ever asked what the most important component was to each of these businesses I would have to say the initial 3 to 5 year business plans that each business required. Yes, I said required.

Most recently it is The Basement Design + Motion. This was the most pain staking, time consuming and rewarding plan to date. Before I get into the details of this planning, let me tell you I am a big believer of taking a proven winner, learning from it and executing built upon the winner's success. Assuming some small business owners, or future small business owners are reading this, here are a few steps I took to insure the plan was one that would help guide our business down the right path.

1. If you have never written a business plan before and you think you can run a successful business without it, think again. My words of advice; take plenty of time to write a complete business plan, review the plan, revise the plan, share the plan with a trusted advisor, and revise the plan based on feedback.

2. Dig up a proven successful business plan and adapt to your business. In my own experience I have often looked to the Harvard Business School's business plan contest that they put on for their business students. I was able to secure a copy of one of the winning plans and I looked at that as a great model to base The Basement's business plan off of. It was thorough, complete, to the point, had been reviewed and considered great by business luminaries who judged the contest and had plenty of great information that assisted me in making sure I was not leaving out any important variables or background information.

3. Do not get impatient and skip this critical part of starting and running your business. The streets are littered with failed businesses who did not work through a complete plan. Lazy planning will kill your business.

4. Find a successful business person that you trust and approach them about reviewing your plan to insure your projections, expenses, validation, mission, pipeline and more are realistic and based on an accurate foundation of industry intelligence. They may not be an expert in your industry, but the questions they ask will cause you to think through your plan, validate your projections and scrub your own reasoning.

5. When writing your plan compose it as if you will be presenting it to investors or potential suitors for your business. Even though this may not be a goal of yours - investors want to see the return potential, aka margin, time table to break even, time table to profit, top line revenue projections, scalability and future earnings potential of your business. Even if you do not think this is something you want to seek out in the future, those elements make for a healthy business, and planning for them now will only serve you well. After all, if your business cannot show profit, better to understand that BEFORE you sink yourself and your savings into it than after. Understanding how these important numbers scale out over time will help you plan more accurately for the future and become profitable quicker.

6. When writing your plan map out all potential start-up, one time and recurring expenses, not only for the first year, but for the following 3 to 5 years. Account for growth projections, taxes, services (lawyers, accountants, etc.) future employees, and the list goes on and on and on. When you think you have them all, add some more. Watch your margin shrink like George Costanza in a cold swimming pool. That is a good exercise because it will force you to review your cost model (what you charge for your service and whether or not the market will pay your price).

7. When you believe you have THE plan for success actually execute to the plan. Do not relegate the plan to the deepest, darkest corner of your hard drive never to be seen again. This is your most trusted partner in business and treat it like such. Go back and review the plan over time and adjust the numbers based on actual performance. review progress. Examine good months and what made them good against your plan. Examine bad months and what made them bad against your plan. Doing this will show you where you can improve, tighten up and expose opportunities for growth much quicker than relying on your gut. Fact based adjustment is always a good strategy.

I could continue this post for at least another couple of paragraphs, but I will stop here. Perhaps I will continue it in a "part two."

Monday, November 2, 2009

Internal Conflict and This Blog

I am having an internal debate about the content on this blog. I have reached an internal crossroads. I am conflicted about the content that I write about on this blog.

I have been writing about digital marketing and related topics, primarily, for the past 3 - 4 years and it is getting a bit tiresome for me. Yeah yeah I know there are always new ways to communicate within the marketing space, especially now with all of the hot topics spinning like social, new IP networks, digital out of home, etc.

Frankly, this stuff may be new to you or to a lot of people who are online yapping about the latest and greatest fad or trend, but it is not new to me and it has become boring to me. Maybe it is a mix of frustration and boredom? I am not sure. See, I told you I was conflicted.

I have been rattling this cage for a long time and it seems people still get caught up in the tools and the "hot topic" and continue to exercise poor business practice, which ultimately makes the "conversations" about tactics pre-mature at best. Case in point; a hotel that cannot even properly market its services on a web site is concerned about how it is going to "take advantage of the social space." Please. As a goofy gym teacher I used to have always said, "Get a grip." Figure out how to accurately communicate amenities online, sell your rooms for the night and actually deliver on the commitment. Once you have figured that out, then you can figure out how to leverage your raving fans. Until you do that you are essentially just performing damage control.

Here I am trying to figure out how to proceed with this blog. Do I focus more on personal things? If I do does anyone really give a crap or is it a cathartic exercise for me? Do I focus more on small business and leave the digital stuff as a mere piece of the overall small business pie?

I have started and had marginal success with a few different companies. That is experience and learning that may help someone else. Ha ha did I just admit to having marginal success, not huge, blockbuster entrepreneur of the year success?! That is not popular to do. I should have talked smack and said that I have had phenomenal success as a multi-company owner and blah blah blah. Oh well. Truth is valuable to me.

Anyway, I am trying to figure out how to move forward with this channel. Stick with digital marketing/media blather? Move to more personal writings? Write about business experience and make it more rounded with less focus on marketing?

I guess I will figure it out and when I do, it will be written about on this blog.
Until then maybe I will post videos I like on here. Who knows.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Bait and Switch, Not Today

Back to marketing. Had an interesting experience the other night. I was doing what a lot of folks do, I was shopping online for a hotel for a two night stay in Chicago.

I Googled something like "cheap hotels" or "hotel deals" and the usual suspects showed up, Expedia, Orbitz, Hotels.com, Priceline, etc.

I ended up clicking on the link for one of these groups due to the rate they had advertised. A fantastic $56 per night for a Suite in a Marriott property. Great deal, right?

I went to the site and halfway through securing the room from the site, it appeared that the rate was an average rate only if you stayed for three nights. For my two night stay the rate was going to cost more. This would not have been a big deal but I was not notified of this until I had spent time securing the room. In my opinion this is a mild version of the old bait and switch.

Needless to say that did not sit well with me and I proceeded to take my business elsewhere. The moral of the story? If you are a company using the web to grow your business, and you invest in things like pay per click adds, SEO and/or other efforts to drive traffic to your site, secure the deal with your customers by offering and executing legitimate deals. In this day and age where people can blog, Twitter and communicate in other quick and easily spread ways, your bunk offer may just influence more than one person into not doing business with you.

Frankly, I cannot believe that in 2009 I experienced what is a very basic mistake on a large national travel web site. I was shocked they tried using this tired and illegitimate tactic.

Why am I not naming the culprit? I have grown tired of blowing a whistle every time I have a bad experience. At some point businesses are going to have realize how to treat customers, without having the random blogger who really is not in their business tell them how to do something as basic as offering legit pricing for their service/products. Maybe all the companies I mentioned above will re-examine their operations and decide to insure that their pricing is clear and not misrepresented in order to "fool" a customer into a higher price.

In some weird way I really do not feel an obligation to call the company out by name, rather call out the activity so others may be aware.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Butchered Mail, Butchered Healthcare. No Thank You.

I received this mail at my office a few days ago. This mail was mangled compliments of our US Postal Service. This is not the first time this has happened.

Here is the USPS message to me, saying they care, but offering no "make good" or solution to their problem. Basically they are saying, "We destroyed your mail, but we care. Have a nice day." Too bad for Staples, they are the ones actually paying for this direct mail to reach me, a potential customer, yet their mail never makes it. I seriously doubt Staples will ever get a refund from the USPS.

In total here is what the US Government delivered to me in the mail...

I rarely make political statements on this blog. This blog is not a political blog, however extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.

My point? The group that destroyed my mail, will destroy mine, my companies and your health care. Is our current system perfect? No. Does it need a new approach? Yes. Is the government plan being proposed the answer. Hell no. Don't believe the hype, it is a highway to disaster. I am a small business owner, I have reviewed both sides of the debate and it is clear as clear can be that the US Government has no business owning and controlling health care.

They cannot successfully deliver the mail, how can they control and manage the largest economy in the world's health care?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

No Integration, No Salvation. One Technology Does Not Make for Success

Marketers, marketers everywhere. I have a question for you. How many "social media marketers" have ever been able to directly correlate their efforts with significant increases in sales for their client?

Wait wait, before you castigate me for challenging the "conversation" approach, I have to say the entire idea of a "social media agency" is counter, in my humble opinion, to the concept of social media. It is insincere at best. If you are a brand, and you truly care about what people in any channel are saying about you, why would you hire a third party of total strangers to monitor this chatter on your behalf? Wouldn't you want the scoop straight from the horses mouth? Wouldn't you want to "engage" these consumers yourself and show them you actually care enough about them to directly reach out? Why would you pay someone to talk to your customers, who has never lived your brand?

Whoa, before you say that companies have hired PR firms to perform this very task for decades, I would caution you to not confuse the traditional press and earned media with social media, at least as it is defined by a lot of social media agencies that have popped up in the last year. PR firms have handled a lot of communications tasks on behalf of corporate clients for decades, true, however directly conversing with potential and/or existing consumers is rarely one of them. That traditionally has been handled by CSR's, business development, customer relations or even a research group.

All of that being said, how many of those that claim to be a "social media agency" have a solid foundation in brand exploration, brand creation, operational excellence, B2B or B2C marketing and advertising? How about marketing research? How about generational marketing or psychological profiling experience? How about focus group organization, objective survey formation and analysis, focus group execution and results analysis? How about pricing methodology, attitudinal analysis, peer influence study, environmental impact analysis and the list goes on. I bet a few have, but most haven't.

The point is, I just read someone's proposal for a SXSW presentation on social media and they pitted social media against the rest of the web. Basically they claimed that they were going to present why the future of the web was going to be totally social, and everything else was going down the drain. The reasoning for this you wonder? This person made a very vague and general statement, with no qualifying data to back it up beyond an emotional and shallow plea based on terms like probably and I think. My response? How about an integrated approach with social filling a role, defined by audience behavior.

I am so used to seeing this kind of self-serving crap that I turn a blind eye, but this one was a bit different. Based on what I read, it was obvious this individual was drinking her own kool-aid and had no deep background in much beyond a twitter account and lots of reading on industry supporting rhetoric. It is too bad because social media has something to offer, however when presented the way this person did, it has no future for a marketer because it is left high and dry to fend for itself and the bombastic nature of the presentation proposal would turn off knowledgable marketers.

The general social media user - average joe on Facebook, non-techie, friend loving user couldn't give a shit about what Ford is doing on Facebook. They do however, care about their Ford getting them to work everyday without breaking down. When the Ford doesn't perform its task, and the customer gets ticked - enter social media. It is word of mouth on speed. When the Ford outperforms its task, enter social media. It again is word of mouth on speed. When Ford tries too hard to use social media because it is the cool thing to do - enter failure. When Ford hatches a complete marketing strategy that does not force fit social media, but secures a genuine supportive fit for social media, enter success - but don't lose sight that the average consumer does not yet care if Ford is on Facebook, unless the car breaks down. Repeat and rinse previous portions of this paragraph.

Integration is salvation for consumer brands. In this segmented world, being objective about channels is key, understanding your audience is a must and then a brand can select and execute channels appropriately for maximum success. Whether it includes social media channels or not.

Note to social media agencies who have declared all else insignificant - before you declare the death of other online strategies and executions that are not Facebook or Twitteresque social, take the time to understand what you are declaring dead. You might find that many social media outlets are simply more finite segmentations of the greater web that you are dismissing. The greater web that has generated phenomenal success for many many brands; dare I say to the tune of billions and billions of dollars - without the aid social media - a truly social medium, not necessarily seen as a preferred marketing channel by those that actually spend money on goods and services. Perhaps social is a fantastic research tool. Research that can help guide other, more direct and consumer accepted marketing practices and venues.

Perhaps it is still being defined. So much for the death of everything but social.


Looks like someone has ranked my blog on a list.
#27 of 50 blogs in Indiana.

If I posted more would I rank higher? I believe in quality, not quantity.
Not sure I am at the point where I give a crap.
Thanks for ranking this blog, I appreciate it.
Here is the list if you care to see it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Basement Design + Motion Launches New Web site!

The Basement Design + Motion has launched our new web site. Simply go HERE to check it out.

You can expect to find the same creative juice you have come to expect from our team, including new motion design, flash development and cg animation. You will also get more information in the form of project samples, project descriptions, case studies, link outs to our Facebook fan page, Twitter page and more. This iteration of our site is a great representation of the evolution of our company and the orgainzation's capabilities.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Indianapolis Advertisers/Marketers Don't Read This Post

If you are a professional advertiser or marketer in Indianapolis do not read this post. Go away, don't read any further.

Okay, now that those folks are gone, check out this very interesting and progressive campaign run by the quickly growing, and popular underground toy company Kidrobot out of New York. Go HERE to see how they used QR codes and a fun scavenger hunt idea to promote their new line of Dunnies toys. This kind of initiative is not necessarily new and has proven effective in many cases.

If you are not familiar with QR codes and how they can be utilized for various marketing initiatives simply Google search the term and you will get all you need to know.

We (The Basement) have proposed very similar ideas to various groups that we work with, and some that we would like to work with. What is interesting to me is how different the reactions have been from different groups we have pitched these ideas to. I live in Indianapolis, have worked here my entire career and am yet to work with few, VERY FEW, who are willing to execute a progressive campaign like this on behalf of a client. We have pitched progressive initiatives like this to our neighbors to the south, a mere 1.5 hours away in Louisville and they have at a minimum been receptive, listened and are willing to take it to their clients to see if there is interest. In some instances we have some folks very excited about moving forward with a unique batch of projects that will most definitely get their client a lot of earned media and increased traction with their customers and increased sales.

To be fair, we have a few Indy clients that have taken a walk on the "wild side" with us and have seen the results of significant sales, large online experience times, educated customers, huge increases in brand awareness and tons of earned media and more.

That being said, why is the Indy market so resistant to change? So resistant to new, direct and effective techniques in marketing and advertising? Is this a cultural thing? Is it the Midwest as a whole? Not just Indy, but other Midwest markets? I, for the life of me, do not understand why new and proven marketing techniques like QR codes, augmented reality, sophisticated micro site strategies, etc. are so strongly resisted in my beloved hometown. These techniques are good enough and quite often very successful and effective for those that reside elsewhere in places like New York, California, Seattle, Kentucky, Texas, Minnesota, etc. so why are they shunned in the Circle City?

We have some good clients and relationships with smart people in Indy, so I ask again, why is Indy waiting so long to progress as it relates to marketing, advertising and media? The market deserves more and the clients deserve more. Let's be clear, I am not criticizing, I am asking the questions.

Since my friends from Indy are not reading this I guess I will not get any answers to my questions.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Using Social Media? The Bascis Still Apply

For the last couple of years social media has taken a lot up a lot of the conversation between businesses and those marketers and even advertisers responsible for growing that business.

My recommendation is that you treat social media like a friendly neighbor. Friendly neighbors are happy to engage and chat as long as there is something to talk about. Barging onto your friendly neighbors property only to waste their time with idle chatter about topics that they have no interest in is likely to result in a cold shoulder.

I have sat back and watched several "experts", self proclaimed gurus, marketers, advertisers, and several consultants proclaim social media as the new silver bullet. Folly, I say. Social media is like any other communication tool that is widely used and highly desired for exploitation by those trying to sell their wares.

Think of something as basic as the mail. Back when the US Postal service started it was used by individuals to communicate. Letters were sent back and forth and it was not originally designed to deliver millions of pieces of direct mail advertising, aka "junk mail." Look at what the gross majority of mail has become.

Now let's look at email. Email started as a simple communication tool. It is still utilized as such, but there are millions upon millions of marketing messages and spam delivered everyday. This tool has quickly evolved over a very short period of time.

Social media is rapidly going down a similar path. MySpace launched as a simple tool to expose and promote new music and bands to local markets. What is it now? Does anyone even know? It grew quickly, sold for $500 million, and within a few years since its big sale has rapidly become a second or third fiddle to Facebook and Twitter. Stop to think about that for a minute, sold for $500 million, and a few short years later it is largely disregarded and not even mentioned in many social media circles and discussions. Amazing.

What makes marketers think that everyone wants to hear about their wares or even want to be "fans" of their product or service? Fans being really anyone who took 20 seconds to be a "friend" of your page. That does not even equate to a qualified lead in many instances. Social media is just that - social. It is a great tool to keep up with friends, meet new friends and keep tabs on family. It is very personal. It is fun. It is yours, not Burger King's, or GM's or Wal-Mart's.

That being said, do the basic fundamentals of marketing apply to social media? I tend to think that you can take the basic fundamentals of marketing and multiply them by about 50 to stand a chance in succeeding in growing business through social media. So beware of those that try to sell you social media strategies that have no fundamental basis or experience in permission-based, operations-first, foundational marketing. There is no foundation there and most likely you are buying snake oil and a strategy sure to tick off your customers and potential advocates.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

GM, Bob Lutz, Al Ries and Me

Oh man could you see that at the marketing convention you attend? Bob Lutz and Al Ries are standing in a corner having a conversation about GM's marketing strategy. Al is taking Bob to school. Bob looks like he is going to blow a stack because, based on his public persona, and his 60 Minutes piece that ran a awhile back, he has no issue taking issue with his critics, even when they are trying to help him.

Then the dynamic shifts, I walk up and politely engage in the conversation. Fast forward 10 seconds and the next thing you know GM has reclaimed their spot as the world's top car manufacturer. Wake up Jake.

I came across, what I consider to be, another genius piece by Al Ries. Really, Mr. Ries is doing what he does in this Ad Age article - applying some of his immutable laws of marketing to the latest drama to come out of Detroit/GM. Al has the ability to take the seemingly complex, break it down, and apply foundational marketing and advertising principles for positive solutions. Too bad GM most likely will not listen.

My only wish after reading this piece is for all University business departments across the country to teach their marketing majors straight out of Ries materials.

Here is an excerpt from the piece with a link to the full article.

GM's Appointment of Lutz Shows No Respect for Marketing

"Without a story, no advertising, no matter how brilliant, is going to work.

BMW's story is "driving." Toyota's story is "reliability." Mercedes' story is "prestige."

Marketing comes first, advertising comes second. That's why Bob Lutz seems to be on the wrong tack when he immediately focuses on fixing the advertising. "I think you will very quickly see a drastic change in the tone and content of our advertising," said Mr. Lutz. "And if you don't, it will mean that I have failed."

"My top priority now," he added, "is to enhance the ability of GM to let the public know about what great cars and trucks we build. For all the money spent in the past, this seemingly simple task has eluded us." (Note: GM spent $36 billion on U.S. advertising in the past ten years.)

"Our current product lineup is arguably the best of any mass producer in the world, and our task is to use enhanced advertising and communications methods to convince more Americans to give us a try again," said Mr. Lutz.

I think he's wrong. Advertising at GM is not broken. Marketing is

Again, to read the entire piece please click HERE

Monday, July 6, 2009

Twitter Made Me a Lazy Blogger

Not really, I have just been way too busy to take the time to compose a cogent piece for this blog.

I will say there is plenty of material for you to peruse from the past three or four years of me writing on here. The old stuff can get pretty spicy too - good reading.

One quick rant...
My four year old daughter received a piece of direct mail the other day from American Express. Will someone tell AMEX that they can fire their direct mail vendor. Sending credit card applications to 4 year olds is about as bad as you can get. She was geeked though. She is going to go buy herself a Bounce Planet franchise tomorrow.

I promise I have been cooking up some new stuff and when I get a moment to breathe I will post it on this very blog. I promise.

Until then...

Monday, June 8, 2009

TheBasement Design + Motion Wins National Addy

Kelli and I attended the National AAF conference this past weekend. Aside from meeting lots of good ad industry folk, we attended the Addy Award ceremony Saturday night. Well, we won a Silver Addy in the Online Games category for the KFC project, www.surfthecrowds.com, we worked on with our client, Creative Alliance.

Congratulations to Creative Allianace and The Basement Design + Motion team. Nice work Gang.

For a complete run down of The Basement Design + Motion skill set check out the demo reel at www.thebasement.tv

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

IPTV, the Economy, Innovate, Spend and Death

Boy I am rusty. Please forgive me it has been quite sometime since I have posted on this outlet.

I always quote Peter Drucker. Always. My favorite Drucker quote is "The fastest way to grow a business is through marketing and innovation." I totally agree, maybe not in that order, but I agree. Over time I have used this strategy and it has been successful. I specifically look for businesses that employ this mindset. They are fun to work with, work for, and even just observe. There is something intrinsically American about innovating, upsetting and ultimately helping grow an industry through innovative development and execution.

That being said, our economy has been struggling for quite some time and I can tell you that it is a direct result of stale, tired business models, lack of innovation and complacency. Look at the industries that are dragging us down - the auto sector, finance and some sectors of retail just to name a few. Look at who is not only surviving, but growing in this tumultuous time - innovators - Wal-Mart - a completely different approach to retail, from the ground up. McDonald's - spotted an opportunity in their beverage line up and seized it. Hyundai - saw what was happening in the economy, offered a new and innovative approach with their buyer's assurance program (the first in their industry to do this) and their sales were up significantly in this horrid recession! It is worth noting that they were the first to offer the longer 5 year/60k mile warranties. That strategy helped them become a player in the US auto industry back in the early 2000's.

There are more examples, but one I have been exposed to quite a bit as of late is the digital signage/IPTV industry. I have been talking about this for quite some time, but it seems it is starting to get some traction and actually is deploying in decent scale...finally!

As I examine different offerings and meet with different groups it is interesting to note they all have their tweaks and differences, but the core technology backbone that supports the bandwidth and final content delivery is the same. This is incredibly exciting. I am biased as a guy who has a company that supplies content, but it is innovation that drives this developing channel - and it is a good thing.

Many are predicting that the American consumers' spending habits will forever be changed after this recession is over. I am not so sure that is the case, but few go through a time like this and go unaffected. Successful marketers changed their methods since the inception of the web. The problem is their really are not that many successful marketers. It is a big country and their are a lot of jobs to fill. Someone has to do it.

That leads us to the final point in the title, death. Unfortunately few in this day and age get the fact that the brand, still important, has no control over the consumer. Marketers who still think they can actually change consumer behavior with their product are destined to die, figuratively speaking of course. Rather, marketers who learn and understand what their target market wants, and channels products or services to those desires, ultimately live - even thrive and grow - even in a junk economy.

Case in point - Twitter. Many have said Twitter has altered behavior. I disagree. Twitter has merely taken a desire of many online voices and given them reason to not have to originate longer form composition. The desire of the American to communicate in abbreviated form has existed for a long time - but most recently it is proven by lackluster educational performance in the English and grammar subject in standardized testing scores. Look at the emergence of texting, abbreviated emails, and now micro blogging courtesy of Twitter. Twitter founders were smart enough to understand that people want to communicate through blogs, but writing long pieces like this is a real chore - so let's "restrict" folks to 140 characters. I don't call it restriction, I call it liberation. You don't need to be William Shakespeare to tweet.

They call it tweet, some call it dumb, I call it innovation. Enough innovation that a simple micro blogging service that makes no money could sell for more right now than many profitable businesses.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Basement Snags Another Award

Our friends at Creative Alliance informed us this evening that our work for KFC Rocks Guitar Hero promotion has garnered another award for the KFC Rocks projects we worked with them on. The AIMA (Atlanta Interactive Marketing Association)gave Creative Alliance the 1st Place Award for Most Effective Integrated/Cross Channel Marketing Campaign. Brand Movers, a web company that specializes in online sweepstakes, and helped on the sweepstakes portion of the micro site, entered the work. Consequently they are based in Atlanta.

Here is a listing of all the winners AIMA Awards winner list

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Adobe and Disney Make Big Announcement at NAB Conference

Well, to those of you already deep in the Flash community and/or understand how IPTV has been rolling out on both the PC screen and the TV screen, this will come as old news.

For those of you who have viewed Flash as kind of a superficial means to a more creative web site, this will expose the tool and the technology for what it truly is - a deeper, more interactive portal to a further reaching media experience. Beyond the small screen, beyond crappy intros.

Marketers who understand that you have to entertain, educate and offer it all in a very convenient, intuitive and interactive package will read this piece and rejoice. Marketers who are still stuck in a "push, push, push" mentality and still don't see the value of a highly interactive, audience driven 21st Century experience, will read this, scratch their head and continue wasting their budgets on antiquated techniques.

Flash developers, you might want to get ready, once these technologies start trickling out into the market, you will be busy, very busy. It will not stop with mobile and television. Think any connected screen anywhere. That is the missing detail from this story.

Click on the excerpt below to visit the entire story on the New York Times web site.

Pulled from the New York Times...

Flash was once known primarily as the technology behind those niggling Web ads in the 1990s that gyrated and flickered on the screen. Today, it is a ubiquitous but behind-the-scenes Web format used to display Facebook applications, interactive ads and, most notably, the video on sites like YouTube and Hulu.com.

Now Adobe Systems, which owns the technology and sells the tools to create and distribute it, wants to extend Flash’s reach even further. On Monday, Adobe’s chief executive, Shantanu Narayen, will announce at the annual National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas that Adobe is extending Flash to the television screen. He expects TVs and set-top boxes that support the Flash format to start selling later this year.

For consumers, what sounds like a bit of inconsequential Internet plumbing actually means that a long overhyped notion is a step closer to reality: viewing a video clip or Internet application on a TV or mobile phone.

For Hollywood studios and other content creators, a single format for Web video is even more enticing. It means they can create their entertainment once in Flash — as the animated documentary “Waltz With Bashir,” from Sony Pictures Classics, was made — and distribute it cheaply throughout the expanding ecosystem of digital devices.

“Coming generations of consumers clearly expect to get their content wherever they want on it, on any device, when they want it,” said Bud Albers, the chief technology officer of the Disney Interactive Media Group, who will join Adobe executives at the convention to voice Disney’s support for the Flash format. “This gets us where we want to go.”

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Basement Design + Motion Named a Techpoint Mira Award Finalist

TechPoint Releases Finalists for Prestigious Mira Awards Program Presented by BKD CPAs & Advisors

Four independent panels of judges have chosen 63 Indiana companies, schools
and individuals to compete for state’s top technology honors

INDIANAPOLIS (April 15, 2009) — Now in its 10th year, the 2009 TechPoint Mira Awards presented by BKD represent the top technology businesses, business professionals and educators in the state of Indiana. Four independent panels of judges chose 63 finalists from a record number of nominations in 11 categories this year.

“To receive a record number of entries into the Mira Awards competition and to see so many technology-related companies thriving—particularly during the current national economic downturn—is a real testament to the strength of Indiana’s tech sector,” said Jim Jay, president and CEO of TechPoint. “The Mira Awards recognize the achievements of some outstanding performers and contributors, and it’s also a great way to focus attention on the broader issue of the important role technology plays in our state’s economy.”

According to the 2009 TechAmerica CyberStates report, Indiana's high-tech economy employs more than 71,000 technology professionals representing an annual payroll of $4.2 billion. CyberStates reports that these in-demand positions pay an average of $83,000 annually, more than double Indiana's latest reported per-capita income of $32,000.

The 2009 winners will be announced at an “Oscars-style” award ceremony being held Sat., May 16 at The Westin Indianapolis. TechPoint will also honor the past Mira Awards winners and finalists attending the ceremony. Visit http://www.techpoint.org/Mira/Pastwinners.htm for a complete list of previous Mira Awards winners and finalists.

The finalists for the 2009 TechPoint Mira Awards presented by BKD are as follows. The “gazelle” designation indicates that a company has been in business less than three years:

• Innovation of the Year
o AIGalCo, LLC
o ComfortMotion Technologies
o ExactTarget
o Intelliphage Inc.
o LacPro Industries, Inc.
o Precise Path Robotics
o Solstice Medical, LLC
o Swift Enterprises Ltd

• Information Technology
o ANGEL Learning, Inc.
o Apparatus
o eImagine Technology Group, Inc.
o ENTAP, Inc.
o ExactTarget
o Information in Place, Inc.
o Passageways, LLC
o Perpetual Technologies, Inc.
o WebLink International

• Information Technology Gazelle
o BlueLock, LLC
o Cantaloupe.tv, LLC
o Compendium Blogware
o FormSpring
o Right On Interactive
o Scale Computing
o Sensory Ventures, LLC
o The Basement Design + Motion, LLC
o Vontoo

• Health & Life Sciences
o BioStorage Technologies, Inc.
o EHOB, Inc.
o Safis-Solutions, LLC

• Health & Life Sciences Gazelle
o Indiana Health Information Exchange
o Jinsitec, LLC
o OrthoPediatrics Corporation
o Predictive Physiology and Medicine (PPM)

• Education Contribution- Dept/Prog/Team
o Ball State's Institute for Digital Fabrication, Ball State University
o Ball State's Digital Corps, Ball State University
o Global Research Network Operations Center, part of University Information Technology Services at Indiana University, Indiana University
o Pervasive Technology Institute at Indiana University: Polar Grid Project Team, Indiana University
o Purdue University Department of Computer Science K - 12 Outreach Program, Purdue University - Department of Computer Science
o Rose-Hulman's Homework Hotline, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
o Surprising Possibilities Imagined and Realized through Information Technology (SPIRIT) at Purdue University, Purdue University

• Education Contribution- Individual
o Beth Kiggins, University of Indianapolis
o Brian Tanner, Space Port Indiana
o Daniel G. Aliaga, Department of Computer Science, Purdue University
o Fred Kitchens, Ball State University
o Jennifer George-Palilonis, Ball State University
o Jessica Seaton, The Insititute for Digital Entertianment and Education at Ball State University
o Rodger Smith, The Insititute for Digital Entertianment and Education at Ball State University
o Yung C. Shin, Purdue University

• Education Contribution- K-12
o Barb Underwood, Carmel Clay Schools
o Robbie Grimes, Brownsburg Community School Corporation
o Dr. Sheila Boehning, Doe Creek Middle School

• Advanced Manufacturing
o CloudBlue Technologies, Inc.
o Hurco Companies, Inc.

• Excellence in Corporate IT
o FORUM Solutions

• Healthcare IT Innovation Award
o Angie's List
o HealthCall, LLC
o Indiana Health Information Exchange, Inc. (IHIE)
o Intelliphage Inc.
o OBS Medical
o Orbis Education
o Pervasive Technology Institute at Indiana University with Purdue University – The CTSI Hub Team
o Solstice Medical, LLC

Visit http://www.techpoint.org/Mira for more information about the 2009 TechPoint Mira Awards presented by BKD.

About TechPoint
TechPoint is Indiana’s only statewide technology initiative, representing industry stakeholders including publicly-traded companies, private businesses, colleges and research universities, and local economic development organizations. The mission of TechPoint is to accelerate Indiana’s emerging and vibrant information technology sector by: promoting the successes of IT companies and professionals; supporting the formation, expansion, and attraction of IT companies; and advocating appropriate public policy. Visit www.techpoint.org.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Social Media Event in Louisville April 14

I received a head's up from Jason Falls about this event coming up next week. Jason is a friend and puts on a good show. I recommend this event if you are looking to learn more about social media from a very solid resource.

The Social Media Club Louisville is conducting a 1/2 day boot camp for advertising, marketing and PR professionals on Tuesday, April 14, from 8:30-11:30 at the Frazier Museum. The cost is just $150.00 and you'll get both a primer on using social media tools and technologies but an overview on how to appropriately reach your target audiences through social media channels. Proceeds support the Social Media Club Louisville which provides monthly free events with national speakers and actionable learning around social media tools, programs and strategies.

For more information about the event, visit:


The registration button is on that page or here:


Friday, April 3, 2009

The Basement Gets a Nod from Mira and Douglas Karr

Nominees were announced yesterday for this year's Mira Awards and The Basement Design + Motion is a nominee in the Information Technology Gazelle Company category alongside a handful of solid companies.

In addition to the nomination, we got some mention in Douglas Karr's blog for the same nomination. He does a nice job of summarizing each company and what they do. Check it out HERE.

Thank you Techpoint and thank you Douglas!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Integrated Campaigns, Multiple Partners?

Would you take your car to get body work done by Jiffy Lube? If your dentist offered you a great deal on an appendectomy in conjunction with your regular teeth cleaning would you take advantage of the deal? If you had the desire for really really good ice cream would you go to the gas station convenience store to buy it?

I will go out on a limb and assume most would answer "no" to these questions. If that is the case why do so many businesses try to get "one stop shopping" for marketing services? I have been in business in some shape or form for the last 12 years and have never, let me repeat this, NEVER seen a "one stop shop" that can execute best in class services across the board. Usually these shops start out as specialized providers who get coerced by a client or two to expand their services because they do such a great job in their area of expertise. Despite all of the market studies, expert advice to not extend (see any Al Ries marketing book) and all of the specific disaster stories that exist regarding extending services unsuccessfully, service providers extend.

Specifically as it relates to digital services it is commonplace to have a shop that sells it all - SEO, SEM, design, development, email, mobile, social consulting/services, PR, branding, logo design, copy writing and the list goes on. 99% of the time these shops do one or two of these services really really well, and the rest suffer greatly. The "also ran" services are teetering on the verge of malpractice.

No wonder there is so much ineffective work in the market. Recent market research has exposed the fact that there are no less than 150 - 200 advertising agencies/marketing communication and/or marketing consultancies in the city of Chicago alone. Many of these firms claim to offer "web site" design/development and/or interactive services. If you go the portfolio section of many of these firms
web sites, you understand what effective web design and development is and you objectively reviewed the digital work presented you would quickly come to the conclusion that a. the market is glutted b. 85% of these firms have no business performing this work for their clients and c. these firms were founded on other services that they do well.

The result of this mistake of trying to be everything to everyone? You do yourself and your clients a disservice and in the long run you damage your brand and the brand of your client(s).

The solution?? Lose whatever is motivating you to offer services outside your expertise and partner with organizations that specialize in the services you want to offer, but do not have the expertise to execute. A successful integrated campaign requires an integrated group of specialists.

If you choose to go down this path you will realize a few benefits:
1. A higher quality of work for you or your clients
2. Higher returns on your marketing budget or higher margins on service/product offerings
3. Variable costs vs. fixed costs - a good benefit in a poor economy
4. Better results
5. Potentially getting reciprocal referrals from your strategic partners. After all they are specialists too and their clients may need your skills.

I have never met one person or one shop who could perform truly effective SEM, SEO, .NET development, Flash development and high end quailty print and digital design. That person and/or firm does not exist. To be effective with these skills (as examples) it requires different training, high levels of specialized abilities and different personalities. To think one firm can offer all of this in a fashion that is of an expert level for each service is ludicrous.

You don't go to Wal-Mart for custom lamp shades, you go for commodity goods at low prices. Why go to your SEO shop for effective branding or logo design?

Select specialists if you want truly effective products/services. One size rarely fits all. Successful integration requires multiple partners. Lose the ego, find the right partners and watch the positive results flourish.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Video Games Fifth Network??

Interesting piece in MediaWeek today claiming that video games may be the fifth network. Check it out and decide for yourself.

An excerpt...
Nielsen’s report also puts one more nail in the coffin for the enduring young male, pasty-faced gamer stereotype. Console game usage has become more and more mainstream, particularly with the explosion in popularity of the family friendly Nintendo Wii, which has sold 18 million consoles versus 11.6 million for the Xbox 360 and 5.7 million for Sony’s PlayStation3.

Overall, the Wii now accounts for the highest percentage of usage minutes for adults, per the report. And not necessarily young adults; nearly of third (32 percent) those usage minutes were consumed by women 35 and older.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Basement Design + Motion Wins Louies


Hoosier Firm Brings Home the Gold from Kentucky Contest
Indianapolis, IN – March 10, 2009 ‐‐ The annual “Louie Awards” for outstanding
advertising have a distinctive Hoosier flavor this year, thanks to the award‐winning work of The Basement Design+Motion, LLC, which is bringing home three silver trophies, a gold statuette, and the Judges’ Award for Best Interactive Advertising from the Louisville Advertising

Headquartered at the former Fort Harrison on the northeast side of Indianapolis, The
Basement is a digital design studio that specializes in concept, design, and production of highend contemporary web sites, Flash games, motion graphic production for the web and broadcast, and 2D and 3D computer‐generated animation.

The Basement won both a Gold Louie for Best Online Game and the Judges’ Award for
Best Interactive Advertising for the fun KFC Restaurants game called “Surf the Crowds,” which is still available for play at www.surfthecrowds.com. Internet surfers can jump into a fun and engaging rock concert crowd surfing experience, first by either picking a preset game character or customizing an alter ego and then jumping in to ”surf the crowd” as a rock star.

Silver Louies were also awarded to The Basement for Best Consumer Flash Web Site,
Best Micro or Mini Site, and Best Online Campaign in conjunction with the “KFC Rocks”
campaign, which also included “Surf the Crowds.”

The Basement was hired to collaborate on design and fully develop interactive campaign elements for the KFC Ultimate Game Room Sweepstakes, a promotion developed for KFC Restaurants by Louisville‐based Creative Alliance, Inc. A full‐service advertising agency,
Creative Alliance develops print advertisements, television and radio broadcast advertising, point‐of‐purchase, and Web design, and corporate identity services for a variety of clients. “Creative Alliance came to us with a specific opportunity to create some very contemporary marketing materials for this promotion. We collaborated to create what became a very effective and popular digital campaign. As a result, KFC exceeded their goals they had established for the promotion,” said Jacob Leffler, President of The Basement Design+Motion.

The Louisville Advertising Federation includes more than 650 members and represents
the Kentucky city’s billion‐dollar advertising industry. Awards were presented at the 35th annual Louie Gala last week. Five judges reviewed nearly 700 entries for this year’s awards. The Louisville competition is part of a larger regional and national awards program conducted annually by the American Advertising Federation. The local awards are the first of a three‐tier, national competition.

# # #
About The Basement Design+Motion: Headquartered in Indianapolis, The Basement Design+Motion, LLC is a digital design, motion graphic and content production company. The Basement specializes in concept, design, and production of high‐end contemporary web sites, Flash games, motion graphic production for the web and
broadcast, and 2D and 3D computer‐generated animation.

Monday, March 9, 2009

You vs. Them

You are a savvy tech set digital marketer, they are your client.

You eat sleep and breathe everything digital - you do not know novelty, you easily get bored and constantly look for the new next. Your client needs to sell more of whatever it is they are selling - be it soap, shoes, sandwiches, underwear or shellac. They really don't care about what's new or next or the flavor of the month digital social, API, viral, PHP, Open, closed, CMS or flex. They just need to sell more of their stuff.

The battle for their marketing approach is on - you offer them a magic pill, a silver bullet, a potion comprised of the latest, greatest digital cacophony of splendid strategy and devices any one person can think of. At first they resist, then they buy-in because they trust you - or did you just wear them down?

They get all kinds of praise for being "progressive", on the "bleeding edge", social, "transparent", viral, forward thinking and all kinds of adjectives that make them feel 20 years younger and you feel like the "smartest guy in the room." After all you can talk "tech", you are social, hell you are on like 23 web sites with a profile - you are "everywhere" and they just look at you in awe. You must be a genius. They must be simple.

Their sales don't budge. They are frustrated. It is now you vs. them. They will win because they control the purse strings and need to work with someone who will listen and do what is effective, not what is "next."

If I had a dime for every time I have either witnessed this scenario, heard others talk about this scenario or had the unpleasant experience listening to one of "them" with a sympathetic ear I would not be writing this from my dining room. I would be planning my next adventure in a far off place wondering how I would spend my billions.

The moral is...
in a completely horrid economic climate - or even in a decent economic climate - you better quit worrying about what is next in the technological frontier and more about how you can leverage solid, effective strategies and execution to help them succeed. The market is ugly and will get worse. If they don't recognize value in you, you will be replaced by them quickly.

They don't care about technology, they care about how you, as a trusted partner, will help them succeed in the all out war companies are already facing for market share in this bad economic situation.

Am I decrying technology - absolutely not - I have had a lot of success concepting, creating and executing digital centric campaigns over the last 9 years. I will say a well researched approach matching the patient with the most appropriate cure, not the newest cure, has proven out to be a very wise path.

Every client has a unique opportunity and technologies are not one size fits all, even though many tech writers would try and have you believe that.

So the next time one of them comes to you for help, don't just throw them into what interests you because you want to tinker with the newest application. Stop and work through scenarios that you know will solidify their position, expand their exposure and ultimately win them new customers and embolden their existing fans to spread the love.

Make their experience one their audience cannot deny. Did you get that?? Let me repeat again in all caps - it may help you create their next masterpiece. Don't just create something, MAKE THEIR EXPERIENCE ONE THEIR AUDIENCE CANNOT DENY.

Wouldn't it be nice if their customers were your biggest proponents??

**You may think I am nuts, but I am typically more concerned with what my clients' clients think of The Basement Design + Motion work more than our actual clients. After all, if they are engaged our clients will see the results and that securely locks in our future success.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Marc Andreessen on Charlie Rose Last Night

I try not to stay up so late on week nights, but lately I have created a bad habit of staying up well past midnight. One reason is Charlie Rose. Not so much because of him, but because he gets some really good guests on and it is a straight forward Q and A format. I dig it. I just wish he was on earlier than 12am EST.

Last night he had Marc Andreessen of Netscape/Jim Clark fame and now he involved with a lot of major web applications companies - two of them being Facebook and Ning. They have not posted any of Marc's interview video yet on www.charlierose.com but I am hopeful it will be added soon. It is not in YouTube either.

Marc gave his take on all sorts of things like Facebook, their value, Twitter, Ning, Google, mobile, etc. It was cool and insightful to hear someone who is actually in the thick of a lot this stuff give his take. Smart guy, obviously.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Give Your Audience What They Want

Denny's is still mopping up the positive results from their integrated campaign anchored by the $5 million Super Bowl ad buy.

Check out the piece below - but recognize - spend $5 million, get tons of web traffic and most importantly yield over $50 million in free earned media, turn out tons of customers for the free breakfast (so what you make money on the drinks, other food ordered and the goodwill generated translates into future business - as long as those customers were properly served) and your franchisees are smiling from ear to ear.

The full piece is here but a portion is below.

Not surprisingly, the metrics are confirming that Denny's got a lot of attention with its Super Bowl commercial promoting a free Grand Slam Breakfast last Tuesday.

Denny's reported that its $3 million commercial drew two million people into its 1,600 outlets in North America and Puerto Rico. The total expense of $5 million for the promotion also yielded $50 million in news coverage, the restaurant chain estimated.

Online buzz was also intense. According to the Social Media Index (SMI) developed by social media services provider Vitrue, which measures the extent of online conversations about a brand in social networks, blogs, Twitter and video/photo sharing on a daily basis, Denny's SMI jumped from a pre-game 22 to 45.6 by last Wednesday. As of last Thursday, the gains were holding up, with an SMI of 44.1.

The words "Grand Slam Breakfast" also showed a big SMI leap, from under 1 to 3.03 as of Wednesday. As of Thursday, that SMI was at 2.64.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Digital Contiunues to Be Bright Spot for Agencies

From Marketing Vox today...

Client Spending Down

In terms of client spend in 2009, the majority of respondents worldwide say their clients will spend at least 20% less.

Digital Remains Bright Spot

Digital marketing is among the few bright spots in the survey, with half the CEOs citing it as a growth area in 2009. Among North American CEOs, 62% said that they think digital will grow this year, while 39% of non-North American CEOs said the same.

Go to entire article HERE

Friday, January 23, 2009

Good Online Video Article Re-Run

Thought this was a good piece so I wanted to share. The only thing I think is kind of cheesy is the terminology "the web's revolution." Seriously can we stop with these huge statements. Hasn't the web been revolutionizing for the past 15 years? It is getting redundant and ridiculous.

Businesses Embracing Online Video Will Fuel The Web's Revolution
by Dave Dutch , Wednesday, January 21, 2009

IF VIDEO KILLED THE radio star, online video will surely kill the static Web.

Video is poised to permeate the Web in a way that goes far beyond YouTube's user-generated clips. The Web's design and flexibility make it a powerful visual medium, with moving images, Flash and animation fast becoming the lingua franca. This presents corporate America -- and private enterprise in general -- with a huge opportunity.

All Video, All the Time

Previously we took a quick look at some of the ways the video-centric Web is becoming a vital channel for driving user engagement and loyalty, as well as powerful internal tool benefiting employees. This article will demonstrate how some well-known brands are already defining the Web experience of the future. The following are a handful of ways video is impacting corporate Web strategies and business models:

Company news and information. Web video enables organizations to become their own broadcast networks. For example, rather than being greeted by the customary block of text and images on a company's home page, visitors may find a running video news feed. British Sky Broadcasting posts its top news stories as video. Organizations can populate the corporate news room with video news releases. To satisfy investors and meet compliance requirements, companies can populate on-demand libraries with shareholder meetings, annual reports and RSS videocasts on a host of topics.

Product information and how-to. Video can be a key enabler of product support and advice. Avery, the office supply company, offers a library of demos that show how to pull off that pesky mail merge, among other office tasks. Another example, Scott's Miracle-Gro Company, has turned its Web site into a consumer-centric source of advice on lawn care, gardening and related topics. Here, video serves as the primary format for "help" articles.

Branded entertainment. Organizations can deliver original video content directly to customers. Nike.com offers sports-specific channels that, in addition to offering video-based training, feature stories about Nike athletes. A good example is the basketball documentary on Team USA's road to Beijing.

Best practices and knowledge management. If commercials and entertainment can be viral, so can internal company knowledge. A manufacturing company with plants all over the world could enable far-flung employees to record and share best practices. Along those same lines, investment in education and training can be expanded exponentially by giving distributed offices and facilities access to video-based programs, seminars and workshops. IT consulting firm Bluewolf provides an example of how businesses might accomplish this-the firm shares its case studies and testimonials with external audiences on Bluewolf TV.

Community. User-generated content (UGC) can turn customers and fans into a network of content creators who communicate through video. Cult footwear favorite Crocs, for instance, has set up a site that invites lovers and haters of the brand to upload videos about how they feel about the product. And look for more companies to build communities with video as the primary form of content.

UGC offers organizations a significant source of original content and can foster a natural community that keeps a pulse of the brand. This is where two of today's most powerful trends -- online video and the social Web -- combine to form a new capability for business: the power to create and sustain new communities, glued together by our most compelling mass medium.

Turning on the Spigot

So why should corporate America embrace the video-centric Web? Remember the lessons of a certain small appliance maker called Blendtec. This small business came out of nowhere in a crowded and competitive market segment to establish a vibrant business on the back of short, simple video segments. You never know where the best ideas or content will come from. Successful companies will be the ones that engage online communities with video that is compelling and continuous.

Jacob's Note - I wouldn't say this online execution alone will make for a successful company, conversely those that understand how to use this media based on their audiences' preferences will see more success.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

You = 1, Your Audience = Many

I had a great discussion yesterday with some smart people about a new application for the iPhone. After some discussion with Brian Phillips about the idea it occurred to me that more consideration for the target audience was critical to make this a viable app.

This is common. Not unusual. It always helps to get perspective from others when immersed in ideas for a new offering. Individuals in this day and age who are immersed in new technology often forget that the gross majority of the US citizenry is not as plugged in as they are. There is a learning curve, so to help make up for this curve an understanding of lifestyle and habits is needed to help make a new offering that is not only a good idea, but is a successful business. After all when coming up with new ideas that are intended to generate a lot of interest, thus turn a profit, they need to be viable from a business perspective, not just be something cool that you would enjoy. You cannot often will something into success, it takes many to make a successful product or service.

The moral of the story is, understand your market/audience, then apply your technology to somehow improve or affect their situation, life or outcome. To create a technology, then try and force the market to accept has proven to be folly...no matter how much you like it.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Intel, Flash Partner to Push Flash Player Towards Television

Huge news coming out today regarding a big viable leap towards interactive television. Adobe, the company behind the Internet's leading rich media delivery application, Flash, has been leading the push towards a legitimate interactive TV model for years, through the web screen - now they are focusing in on the television screen. They also briefly mention Flash 10's entree into mobile - FINALLY.

Check out this CNET piece to get all the details. This is what I have been predicting for a long time and it is nice to see it coming to life in a tangible way. Very interesting for the interactive media industry and for The Basement.

Stay tuned...

Friday, January 2, 2009

Eight and a Half Minute Audience Engagement

I have mentioned the work we did for Brandwidth and their client Transitions in the past. I wanted to post the major points of the official case study on this successful project. They are worth checking out because of the execution to success as defined by the goals of the end client.

It is important to understand before you read the case study that the client defined success by 1. driving individuals to the micro site and 2. getting those individuals who visited the site to completely finish the 27 question quiz.

Impossible with today's quick to opt out audiences? Not at all. Read on to find out how results of this campaign included 37,000+ monthly unique visitors to the micro site, an average web site visit time of over eight and a half minutes and over 70% of the unique visitors completing the quiz.

It is worth the read if you are trying to figure out how to KEEP your audience engaged.

Case Study: EGG 2.0
Date: 11/25/2008
Author(s): Adam Hayes, George Evans, Jacob Leffler

How an Eyeglass manufacturer nets a 63% conversion rate and an average site visit time of 8 minutes 42 seconds.

Can traditional mediums such as broadcast advertising, outdoor or print substantiate and quantify their value to a brand? Can a true conversion rate for these mediums be ascertained? Can it be done while driving qualified traffic to an online space? An eyeglass lens manufacturer wanted to find out.

The resulting multichannel campaign: a truly integrated program that combined offline and online strategies to promote an interactive online survey and engage consumers in an as-before-unheard-of level of dialogue with the marketer’s complex channels of distribution.

Stimulate dialogue between the distribution channels (eyecare professionals, dispensing optical labs, optical retailers) and prospective eyeglass customers. Interactive. Impactful. Dynamic. Compelling. Informative. And reflective of Transitions, the #1 manufacturer of photochromic lenses in the world.

Introducing EyeGlass Guide 2.0, a highly interactive, informative and easy-to-navigate web space that serves as entry to a revolutionary interactive online eyeglass selection tool as well as a host of rich media product information presentations. Versions are in production for Canada, South America, Mexico and now Pacific Rim markets. Merchandised with national consumer creative in Newsweek, People and Health magazines as well as in-store display materials.

Tactic #1: Concepts and Market Research

The concepts for both the online tool, the new resource web space as well as advertising support/merchandising efforts (trade and consumer advertising) were reviewed with both consumer and optical trade audiences (focus groups) and refined based upon input received. Objective: Underscore the importance of lenses in the buying decision. Theme: Turning Eyeglasses Into My Glasses.

Tactic #2: Site Redesign

The resource site was totally re-designed to make the experience more dynamic and the navigation more welcoming and intuitive. Conceptually, the preliminary site design was based upon actual consumer testimonials that supported the underlying messaging strategy that EGG2.0 is the definitive eyeglass guide online resource.

Tactic #3: Interactive Tool

At the heart of EGG2.0 is an interactive tool that allows a user to literally design a pair of eyeglasses from the lenses up. Working through a series of questions, eyeglass wearers define their lives, their lens needs, lens options that fit their lifestyles as well as provide information that helps them start thinking about the frame selection process.

Tactic #4: Rich Media/Product Animations.

Specific product attributes (UV protection or the need for an anti-reflective treatment) and lifestyle requirements (lenses for kids, lenses for older adults) were featured in a number of animated product videos that could be accessed as needed from within the tool or from within the body of the resource site itself. As a consumer needed more specific product information, all they had to do was click on specially marked links that took them to more comprehensive product information.

Tactic #5: Internet Marketing & Media

Preliminary banners were implemented at launch to support an ongoing PPC campaign. A new program featuring animated point rolls and interactive ads launches after the first of the year, 2009. A new SEO proposal was also developed for 2009.

Tactic #6: National Magazine Inserts

Lifestyle ads in Newsweek, People and Health will drive traffic to the site and tool.

Tactic #7: On-line distribution of in-store display materials

An in-store version of the tool was developed as part of an integrated point-of-sale program. A brochure version of the tool, postcard mailers and in-store displays are all available through an online portal that allows download of support material by engaged eyecare professionals.

Tactic #8: Merchandising of efforts to the optical trade (presentations/sell in to eyecare professionals, labs, retail distributors, managed care companies, partner manufacturers (lenses, frames, etc.) and to the national sales force (feature presentation at annual global sales meeting)

A range of materials, from PowerPoint presentations to collateral support materials to on-line support materials have been developed to sell the program into retail partners, managed care companies, optical labs, eyecare professionals and internal sales managers. Extensions of the program to manufacturing partners as well as distribution channels in Canada, South America, Mexico, Europe and the Pacific Rim have made the merchandising of the program essential to its continued growth and success.

A 63% conversion rate (more than 60% of visitors to the web space engaged with the interactive tool), an average time on site of 8 minutes, 42 seconds and an 80% tool/survey completion rate across an average monthly volume of 37,850 unique website visitors! Response, conversions and simple engagement to the space and the tool are more than double that of the first-generation EGG. Manufacturing partners, managed care companies and global distributors are all actively seeking ways to integrate this program into their own sales efforts for 2009 and beyond.

Now that you have read about it - experience it at www.eyeglassguide.com