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Wait, What Is “Digital Marketing” Exactly?

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It seems obvious until you try to map it out.  “What is digital marketing?” seems like a trivial question. It’s right there, in the name — “marketing that is done with fingers”, obviously. To break it down a bit — marketing, which let’s just say means “communicating value of product or service to potential customers”, and “digital” which is like, “using computers and stuff”. Easy, right?  What is “Digital”? — A Sidebar But,… Read More »Wait, What Is “Digital Marketing” Exactly?

If you’re doing something stupid… stop

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The Andon cord is a thick weave of synthetic highlighter-alarm-yellow that used to run the length of every assembly line of every Toyota plant. Along with the hundreds of metric tons of door assemblies and engine parts and radio knobs that snaked their way through these assembly lines, so did the cord. Gently swaying to the humming rhythm of heavy machinery and man working in… Read More »If you’re doing something stupid… stop

Stack of mail

A Direct Mail Marketer’s Secret To Success in a Digital World

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When you think of cutting-edge marketing, direct mail is not what comes to mind. And yet, despite previously declining numbers, it’s proving to be a resilient marketing niche, and still represents the largest local advertising spend of $38.5 billion in 2020. There is a sort-of minimalist purism in direct-mail marketing. The message is delivered to the prospect, and that’s it. No cookies, no click-throughs, just a pass or fail, convert or wind up in the garbage can. And, with open rates of up to 90%, and a 28% better conversion rate than digital channels, there is at least one key principle that can help any digital marketer concentrate their efforts more efficiently.

The Purpose of Copywriting is to Achieve Clarity

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Clarity is the thin membrane that separates disaster from success. That 5-degree difference in heading that separates the wayward cruise ship from a near-miss to “abandon ship” — that’s the importance of clarity. That time Pepsi had to buy a contest winner a harrier jet — that’s a lack of clarity. The feeling of confusion when you operate a new machine, and the manual just doesn’t tell you how… Read More »The Purpose of Copywriting is to Achieve Clarity

Historical image from the marketing for Fashion Cafe

I have no competitors! Why don’t I make money?

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Whether you’re an in-house marketer, a consultant, or an agency, hearing the words “We have no competitors” can be the kiss of death for the brand. Competition is good, but here is how young entrepreneurs screw it up sometimes…

How to uncover authentic (brand) values.

A practical exercise in saying something more than “I like good things and dislike bad things”. Thousands of hours of agency and in-house branding, PR, marketing, and miscellaneous “communications professional” work time is spent on trying to dress up the flaccid and the obvious as “brand values”. Marketing and communications people act as if repeating meaningless words strung together like an incantation will actually convince… Read More »How to uncover authentic (brand) values.

Your customer wants to see themselves in your brand.

A Brand is a set of values.

Don’t be confused. You, the consumer, are the product of branding. The doctrine of “no-self” in Buddhism describes the idea that there is no single, indivisible, permanent self. You are not your perceptions, your thoughts, your feelings, not even your body that replaces every component of itself many times over during a lifetime. There is no permanents self, but what you call your self is… Read More »A Brand is a set of values.

For Sale: baby peanut shells, never worn.

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What do Groot and Baby Yoda have in common? They both think Baby Nut is a poser.

The Planters Baby Nut ad is an example of poor brand storytelling. The Baby Nut campaign undermines itself and the brand. It makes me not want to buy Planters nuts. More generally, this ad campaign violated a couple of basic brand storytelling principles, taking a risk and trying to make us care, only to roll everything back and strip out any emotional investment in the story, or the brand.

Trusting yourself is dangerous, but trusting experts can be worse.

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Sometimes your instincts are wrong.

A car mirror is a tool designed to give you the ability to perceive what’s behind you while driving. It saves you from changing lanes into a collision with a semi. A mirror is an invaluable tool keeping you aware and safe on the road, and its use seems instinctively simple. Unfortunately, your instinct can be deadly wrong.