When Nobody Cares About Your Brand…

…marketing gets easier. Wait, how can that be?

As Bob Hoffman reminded us today and as I’ve been saying for years, nobody cares about the vast majority of the products or categories in which they buy.

When you dismiss the illusion that anybody is going to care about your brand or enter into “conversations” about your brand, you can minimize or eliminate efforts in wide swaths of marketing activity that do nothing more than consume time and resources. You can focus on the tactical execution of sound strategy that is tied directly to generating a sale or a sales-qualified lead, and constantly optimizing those results.

It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t care about your brand or the experience you provide your customers. It just means that you shouldn’t rely on them caring to hit your objectives.


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Big Data: Mostly Tail Numbers

IMG_4248If you fly regular routes, you’ll notice the same tail numbers around you. The same planes tend to fly the same routes, with changes mostly due to weather or maintenance.

What does it usually mean when a particular tail number shows up next to the plane you’re on? Nothing.

What does it usually mean when a particular visitor or cookie shows up on your website? Nothing.

So why are you obsessing about tracking every single click and sometimes considering using things like LFO cookies to follow visitors? The vast majority of the traffic to and from your website is nothing more than a giant tail number database, providing you with almost no insight about your customers.

The key is not tracking more tail numbers. It’s detecting two things: when a change occurs and when that change is significant.

What’s the best way to detect the changes? Well, you could sift through millions of rows of data. Or you could ask some real customers.

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One Weird CRM Trick From Budget

Budget: Three Days to Rekey Data?

Budget: Three Days to Re-key Data?

I just updated my Budget account profile, which only took a few moments. Now, according to this email, it’s going to take Budget up to another three days to update my profile with them. I have no idea what the further update entails.

I guess Budget is sending my update to somebody else to re-key into some other system.  I wonder what offshore low-bid vendor is getting my data.

The funny thing is they took the time to automate the email to tell me about their manual process, but couldn’t be bothered to actually automate the process!

Priorities folks.

I can imagine the boiler room operation they’ve cobbled together with tin cans and string to manage the verification process. And we wonder why over a billion records were stolen last year? Unnecessary data transfer and unneeded data viewing is a big part of it.

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Social Media: How To Focus On The .02%

Before the next social media maniac wants you to invest large swaths of your marketing budget entering into “conversations” with customers and prospective customers, watch this video.

Greet them at the door with a calculator and do a little math. Then, invest your money in marketing that really reaches your audience and sells your products. (Hint: it’s not social media.)

As Professor Ritson and Bob Hoffman continually point out, social media is great for conversations about things we like–our friends, our kids, our cats. We aren’t interested in “conversations” with brands. The math is clear.

Let me be clear. I’m not saying that your marketing mix shouldn’t include social media. Of course you should test every tool in the toolkit to see what works. But let’s define “work.” That means things that sell our products. There is no other reason for marketing and advertising.

Yes, you can have conversations with .02% of your customers. Your competitors (certainly the ones that work with me) might instead be investing time and money on segmenting the 99.98% of their customers to sell them more. Who’s going to win?

Having trouble judging the performance of your marketing mix? Wondering if you are spending too much on social media? Give me a call. I’ve got a calculator, a BS detector and I can travel.

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Trident Gum: Paying Peanuts and Getting Monkeys?

IMG_4246Think your advertising copy is lousy? It could be worse. You could work for Mondelez.

I was standing in line at Walmart–hoping that nobody I knew would notice me there–when I looked up and saw this POP display right over the checkout line. I did a double take when I saw the line.  Can you see it?

Super useful.

Huh? How is unwrapped gum “super useful?” I guess now you can use Trident gum to fix plumbing leaks or repair broken zippers. Silly me, I thought chewing gum’s main purpose was to help self-identify as an uncouth American tourist when traveling through Europe.

When I saw this misuse of valuable and expensive advertising space, I figured that the client never read this, the senior account executive never saw it or an even worse alternative happened–they all read this and thought it made sense.

We used to have copywriters on staff who were well-versed in the client’s products and integral to the advertising process. Now, my copywriter friends tell me that writing is relegated to the intern or palmed off on the low-cost bidder from an online crowdsourcing site. Paying peanuts and getting monkeys, as the old saying goes.

Maybe that’s what Modelez’s Project Sprout got them. Big savings, lots of monkeys and lousy copy.

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Utica Callback…

Originally posted on ArianDavidPhotography:

To my followers who are not from Utica, I’m sorry… I just can’t get enough of these Central New Yorkers.  They’re pretty awesome.

Today I sent out a press release about my latest adventure to a familiar destination.  Yep, it’s back to Utica.

I will travel to Utica Friday January 30th for the Comets game at the Aud. and you better believe I will be armed with a camera!  Come to the game and say hi!  Can’t wait kick it with Audie and the crazy Utica fans!  After that, headed out to a bar to mingle, any suggestions?

OK so the good stuff… Saturday I am gonna be shooting mini portrait session for $5 in front of the mural on the corner of Genesee and Lafayette.  You get to bring any peeps you like!  Significant other, family, besties… whatever you want!  You get four poses of your choice.  I will…

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Consulting and Confirmation Bias

Ever wonder how the McKinsey or Bain consultants your company hired can get the CEO to parrot their talking points in front of the all-hands meeting?

The answer, which Bob Hoffman brought to my attention today, is confirmation bias.

The initial fact-gathering and interview process over the first couple of weeks (billable, of course) of the engagement is to figure out not only what the executives believe about the business, but also what they believe the solution is.

When the deck comes back, the CEO thinks “Hmm, this looks a lot like my intuition, only with really clever charts that my own Powerpoint monkeys can’t create themselves. They must be right. On to phase two!”

Confirmation bias at work. We accept the things that match our belief system and filter out those that do not.

Great work if you can get it. Even better is that once the implementation of the plan is screwed up, you might be able to bill the next management team to confirm their biases.

How do we avoid confirmation bias? Make sure you don’t filter out ideas that don’t align with your belief. Hire a Devil’s Advocate (somebody like Chunka Mui or me) and task them with providing cogent arguments that challenge your beliefs.

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Utica, New York: A Day of Fun, A Story of Hope


A great article about my hometown with some wonderful photography. Reading this makes me want to hop on a plane and wander through Utica as a visitor, not as a native!

Originally posted on ArianDavidPhotography:


So often we think of vacations as far away places where we spend lots of money for 3-7 days of relaxation, activities and bliss.  Vacations are seen as things we reach for but experience so rarely, especially in today’s work world.

I’ve found a very different truth.  I’ve found that one can experience the benefits of a vacation without spending much money at all.  I’ve found that while it’s good to get out of your town for a bit, you don’t have to go far to feel like you’re getting away and having a good time.  And finally, I’ve found that in many cases, you can do this in one day.  Yep, that’s right… any given Saturday, you too can experience a cheap day away… one that will leave you feeling refreshed and feeling good about yourself before you dive back into the work week!

For example, did you know…

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Enjoying Undamaged Goods

5681793_6b5333b629_zSteve Jobs was famous for saying that our purpose was to put a dent in the universe. In small and big ways, we should always try to improve things.

On the other hand, how much time are you taking to enjoy things as they are? The universe will always be there for somebody to beat on. But we only have so much time to enjoy what we have.

Given the alternative between beating my head against the steel wall every day or watching the cardinals at my bird feeder while enjoying a cup of tea, I’ve decided the latter actually isn’t so bad sometimes.

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Waiting Two Years–Why Most B2B Marketing Isn’t Marketing

183496Today’s eMarketer update caught my eye with this startling graph.

This tells me that understanding the customer–at least among the B2B marketers surveyed–isn’t in the top five areas of responsibility. Further, although recognized as a need, it’s going to take two full years to get there.

What the….?

In a nutshell, this is why most B2B marketing is terrible and shouldn’t be characterized as such. In my experience, most B2B marketers with 10 years of experience have the same year, ten times. Sure, they do lots of marketing stuff and probably now do lots of social media stuff. (And have no idea why their “content marketing” doesn’t result in “conversations” about thermal control units, but I digress.)

The biggest sin that a B2B marketer can make is not knowing who the customer is. It’s a bigger sin than in the B2C world because with longer sales cycles and higher units of sale, small mistakes upfront can waste massive amounts of sales and sales engineering time. Plus, that doesn’t help with the historical levels of distrust between sales and marketing.

If you’re a B2B marketer and knowing the customer isn’t #1 on your agenda, fix it now.

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