“I’ll Make You Famous” – Being Remembered for the Right Reasons

December 8, 2010 Leave a comment

So, I have this friend we’ll call “Joe.” Joe’s that guy you never want to introduce to a new group of people because you just know he’ll do something to embarrass himself and anyone within a three block radius.

You see, Joe enjoys a good drink now and again…and again…and again…and this invariably results in trouble. Regardless of felonies committed, pummelings endured or restraining orders filed, the next morning, he’s always quick to point out, “yeah, but I bet everybody there remembers me.”

Sadly, clients often espouse this same, “as long as I’m remembered,” mentality without recognizing there’s a dramatic difference between being famous and infamous.

Sure, there are lots of commercials you recall as a result of how pathetically they’re produced, how obnoxious their spokespeople or how cheesy their premise. You may even mention these spots to friends. But that doesn’t mean it’s an effective campaign.

If your commercial is referenced specifically for the sake of ridicule, that’s not being famous, that’s being infamous. The company is remembered, but like Joe, it’s only for the horrible impression it made.

Making a brand truly famous demands thoughtful planning and careful consideration. Develop a marketing message that creates lasting positive impressions among your audience by speaking to them with mutual respect and providing genuine benefits. This may take longer and require more talent than simply slapping together some blaring lights and sirens spot, but the dividends are infinite.

We all do things we regret from time to time, but airing infamous ads is one embarrassment you can ill afford.


“Don’t Bite Off More than You Can Chew” – Leaving Ads to the Experts

September 22, 2010 2 comments

Last week, midway through a bag of salted peanuts, I heard a distinctly non-peanuty crunch. A whoosh of cold air followed by my eyeballs leaping from their sockets indicated I had, indeed, just cracked a tooth.

I wandered into the dentist’s office the following day and waited patiently for a chance to see the doc. While in the waiting room, a mid-40s gentleman made his way to the receptionist’s window. I could tell by the stack of magazines under his arm that he was a sales rep for a local publication.

Interest piqued, I listened as he espoused the benefits of their magazine.

“We print 50,000 copies each month. That translates to 120,000 readers. Now, you could put an ad on the radio, but how many people are actually going to hear it? Certainly not 120,000. Most people change the station during commercials anyway.”

Familiar with the publication in question, I knew it was nothing more than a collection of advertorials, devoid of genuine content, the kind you routinely see (and ignore) at businesses advertised within. Still, for a business owner – or in this case dentist – untrained in marketing, the sales guy spun a web too alluring to escape.

$10,000 later, the dentist had a 12-month commitment.

I wondered if the dentist would sit as idly by if she’d seen me extracting my own molar.

I’m constantly amazed by seemingly intelligent business people who choose to manage their own marketing and advertising. You may be the world’s greatest widget manufacturer, but how does that qualify you to determine an appropriate media mix or produce a TV ad?

While business owners are usually savvy enough to hire an accountant to handle taxes and an attorney to circumvent legal woes, advertising seems somehow different. After all, they see/hear advertising messages all the time and think, “how hard could it be?” Lacking the time, training and talent to skillfully craft unique creative, however, they replicate the schlocky work their competitors put out and wonder why business isn’t suddenly booming.

Just like a dentist goes to school to learn about periodontal disease, advertising professionals study research design, audience segmentation and psychological triggers. These lessons are blended with competitive analysis and examination of market trends, yielding invaluable insight into what makes potential customers tick.

Hiring the right advertising agency to develop, implement and maintain your marketing strategy, isn’t an expense, it’s an investment in growth that shows dividends 100% of the time. Just as important, it frees you to focus on what you do best, whether that’s dentistry or widget making.

With the right team of professionals around you, running a successful business doesn’t have to feel like pulling teeth.

“What Size is Your Digital Footprint?” – Establishing an Online Presence

July 23, 2010 Leave a comment

The summer before fifth grade, my folks took me shoe shopping. Funky-colored Converse Chuck Taylors were the rage and bright turquoise would make me the envy of the schoolyard. I wore a men’s size nine at the time. The stock boy brought out the only turquoise pair they had – size 11s. Undaunted, I laced them up tight, my toes resting comfortably two inches from the end, and smiled ear to ear. Mom and dad implored me to find some that fit better – “they have your size in black” – but I wouldn’t hear of it. The way I figured, the brighter the shoe, the bigger the impression, the larger the footprint, the easier to follow.

I’ve never feared drawing attention to myself; in advertising you can’t afford to be shy. You have to let people know you, your strengths and how you can benefit them – even before they meet you. Today, that means circulating your name on the web, and not just on the “Our Team” page of your company website. You have to put your best foot forward and establish yourself as a viable, knowledgeable, interactive member of the online world.

Why bother? Let’s say you’re the lead Account Executive on a pitch for a new client who wants social media integration as a substantial component of their marketing mix. Odds are pretty good that client will research you individually as well as the agency as a whole. When they Google “Steve Jones” and the only thing that comes up is your company website and minutes from the last PTA meeting, the client’s left unimpressed. How can you be trusted to oversee their company’s online life when you have none of your own?

If you search my name right now (either dwasylow or Damion Wasylow), you’ll find around 1000 results. By actively participating in LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Foursquare, Digg, Yelp and 30 other social media resources, I’ve systematically built a digital footprint that makes a substantial impression, one that shows prospective clients that I talk the talk and walk the walk.

Even more important than the footprint these interactions leave behind are the connections they provide. Through participating in social media, I’ve gained access to people, insights and inspirations I would have otherwise missed. Every day, I learn a new tactic or strategy that I later implement to benefit a client.

Turquoise Chucks aren’t for everyone. Maybe you’re more beige Hush Puppies or navy Manolos. Regardless of style, strut proudly and leave big digital footprints for others to follow.

“Trimming the Bird” – The Case for Following Fewer Tweeters

June 3, 2010 Leave a comment

Who would think you could find valuable social marketing insights in “Jerry Maguire?” Beyond the cheesy love story and the adorable kid, “Jerry Maguire” is really about a business philosophy, the one Jerry writes about in his manifesto…

– Fewer clients, not more.
– More time with each, not less.
– Less efficient, more effective.

I’ve been on Twitter for about a year. In that time, I’ve accumulated 143 followers. I follow roughly the same number. I use Twitter as a resource for advertising, marketing and social media news and select whom I follow and what I post accordingly. No Ashton Kutcher or Britney Spears feeds for me. I spend a solid hour or two per day reading posts and providing links to information I hope others will find valuable.

One of my followers is following over 25,000 other people. If we estimate five seconds to read a 140 character post, it would require 35 hours to read just one post from each of those people each day. See the problem? That’s right, there aren’t 35 hours in an Earth day. So, unless he’s the first extraterrestrial Tweeter, there’s no way he’s reading them all and it’s highly unlikely he’s reading more than ten percent.

So, why follow so many people? I’m guessing he’s just trying to build some sort of Twitter currency. You see, the more people you follow, the more likely they are to follow you. The bigger your numbers, the more “influential” you’re considered. At the end of the day, that’s nothing more than an ego stroke.

WWJD – What Would Jerry Do?

Jerry Maguire would suggest we limit the number of people we follow, opting for quality over quantity. Personally, I believe 250 is the maximum number of people I can effectively follow. Too many people treat social media as a numbers game – whoever has the most followers wins. That’s simply not the case. If we can agree that the very basis of social media is “connecting,” we can also agree that connections mean more when they’re intimate.

So far, I haven’t found 250 people I’d care to connect with in the Twitterverse, but I’m sure they’re out there – and I’ll find and learn from them. Like the starry-eyed Dorothy Boyd, we all, “just want to be inspired.”

Please feel free to tweet this post and include #Follow250.

“Act Your Age” – Leaving Youth Culture to the Young

May 20, 2010 Leave a comment

I was at a wedding reception a few years ago when one of my dad’s friends split the back of his pants while break dancing. Red as a beet, he retreated from the dance floor smashing into the wedding cake and hurling it into the bride’s mother. That’s only slightly more embarrassing than when middle-aged business people try to incorporate youth culture in their commercials.

Whether genuine or satirical, mom and pop fail when they feature rap, MTV references or “dope beats” in their ads.

Watch this commercial for Georgia Car Outlet. And this one for Vern Fonk.

Now, raise your hand if you have any interest in buying a used Chevy from or having it insured by these folks.

The most recent embarrassment I’ve found bungles the act of “flash mobbing,” wherein people connect via text, email and social media, meet in public and perform some kind of attention-grabbing act – like a spontaneous pillow fight or splatter painting in their undies. But there’s no “flash” in this mob. It’s all staged. The streets are even closed off except for the performers. Take a look… Gaines Street Tallahassee.

This was clearly the brainchild of a non-ad-pro in his or her 40s or 50s. “I saw on the 20/20 that young people love these ‘flash mobs.’ Let’s have one. I’ll bet my whole Rotary would help.”

Act your age people. Use the right tactic to reach your audience and leave the “neato hippity hop dance moves” and social anarchy to the kids.


For the record, here’s an example of an advertiser using a flash mob the right way. T-Mobile.

“It’s Not Me, It’s You” – Avoiding Unhealthy Client Relationships

February 2, 2010 2 comments

It’s the first date. You flirt, you listen, you bat your eyes and picture how grand the future will be. After all, this is one special prospect. Sweet as can be, laughs at all your jokes, has a gorgeous bottom line and says she’s looking for a fella who brings something new to the table.

You set up a second date at your place just days later.

Everything’s ready: subtle lighting, fancy hors d’oeuvres, champagne on ice and a comprehensive campaign of cutting edge concepts alongside traditional, non-traditional and social media tactics. Sexy!

A knock on the conference room door. She’s more ravishing than ever. Small talk ensues – sure is hot outside, how’s the family, did you read AdWeek’s article on Pepsi’s evolving stance on socially responsible marketing executions – but soon gives way to more pressing matters.

Looking into her eyes, you spend 40 minutes laying out how your creative concept will lift her to unparalleled heights of economic ecstasy and how your media tactics will deliver her dulcet tones to those who will want her most.

Certain your words pierced her heart, you pause for reply.

“I like where this is going,” she starts, “but I’m not sure about the color scheme.”

Gulp. The date has taken a turn for the worse.

“Personally, I’m a huge fan of autumn tones.”

Autumn tones, but that doesn’t convey the emotion we’re…

“And could we tweak the TV for more of an X-Games feel? Maybe add in a couple of skateboards?”

The beguiling facade that baited you into this relationship is melting away.

“Sure the social media thing is neat, but it’s really not relevant to what we do.”

This isn’t the person you thought you were courting at all. It’s the second date and she’s already trying to change you. There’s only one thing to do – run.

Too many clients think they can create effective advertising on their own. So, why are they looking for a relationship in the first place? Because nobody likes to be alone. They want someone who will praise them when things go right and accept blame when things go wrong.

Well, that’s not a healthy relationship and you can do a whole lot better.

Find clients who love you for you, who respect your opinions and who value your expertise. Only then will you have the groundwork for a meaningful, trusting, long-lasting relationship.

“Advertising Affirmations” – There’s No Profit in Advertising to Yourself

January 20, 2010 Leave a comment

A friend of mine used to write daily affirmations on his bathroom mirror. Each morning, inspiration stared back at him as he brushed his teeth and combed his hair. No one else ever saw the messages, but he did and, to him, that’s all that mattered. Too often, this mindset carries over into small business advertising.

Small business owners tend to advertise only on stations and in publications they personally enjoy. “Maybe we should focus our advertising on WZZZ: The Snooze. My wife and I listen every night before bed and so does my General Manager.” Now, I’m not going to ask how you know so much about your GM’s nocturnal habits, but I will ask this…“who cares what you listen to?!”

There’s no profit in advertising to you…nor your wife…nor your staff…nor your friends.

You see, – stick with me now, big point coming – advertising is supposed to reach and attract people who would not otherwise spend money with your company. Do you, your wife, your staff or your friends fit that description? Then they’re not your target audience.

Advertising agencies apply metrics to determine the best venues to deliver the client’s message to the appropriate audience. We know how many people ages 35-49, with household incomes of $100k+ listen to The Snooze between noon-3pm on Wednesdays. These are called ratings, which we offset against the cost of placement to determine value.

Your personal preference in radio stations, TV shows, magazines and websites means absolutely nothing. Trust the numbers to guide you to rational decisions that lead to more customers, more sales and more success or the next affirmation on your morning mirror may read, “this will be the best going out of business sale ever.”

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