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“Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.”


So sayeth Mark Twain.

Can’t say as I disagree with Mr. Twain.

However, “…the right kind” of advertising?

With the advent of social media and the apparent demise of print that’s what companies are trying to figure out. What is the best form of advertising? How do you best speak to prospects and your customers? Is it TV, Facebook, Twitter, mobile or (gasp) print?

First things first. What do you want your target to know, think and believe about your product or company? If you haven’t figured that out then do not spend a dime and don’t do anything. Before you can run, you need to walk.

That consumer “take away” is the foundation of your strategy. It should be different from your competition (no kidding) and you had better be able to back it up! Nothing will sink you sooner than an “overpromise” and an “underdeliver” situation with the consumer.

Ironically, this is where social media is really social… and can bite you. When the malcontents go on the warpath and use the Twittershpere/Facebook to vent.

Yes, creating awareness utilizing the “right kind of advertising” is important.

But so is playing to a strategic, simple, doable product benefit.

It Ain’t Dead Yet!


In 1897, Mark Twain quipped “The report of my death was an exaggeration.”

Today, this is being said of print and TV advertising. We won’t include outdoor… so long as there are drivers and traffic jams, there will always be billboards.

In present day America, our society probably has a 40/60 split. With 40% of consumers reading books, print magazines and good ‘ole TV. While the younger ones (the 60%) favor digital books, digital magazines and video streaming.

All print publications have web magazine versions and online advertising opportunities. Forgetting whether you embrace this change or not, this is the way it’s headed. Fishing where the fish are… your demographic target dictates where you need to place your messaging.

Facebook, mobile, online ads, Twitter? Depends. If you’re engaging the consumer… they’re all viable. Utilizing Twitter, a real estate agent can send a Tweet to notify home buyers of the latest showing; efficient and captive.

Sorry, I know it’s all the rage, but if your customer is a business, you probably won’t glean the benefits of Twitter or Facebook.

Those mags I mentioned earlier… with online versions? Well, their print version could be just the place for you. Because the shift from print and TV hasn’t happened for every business because their customers haven’t made the shift from print and TV.

Now, whether it’s old or new school, marketing is STILL about creating awareness, exposure and ‘why you’. That’s it…. the strategic bottom line.

Speaking of bottom line, you’ll get more bang for the buck by weaving in new marketing approaches now; weeding out ones that work from ones that don’t.

Print and traditional TV aren’t dead yet… but it’s coming.

Social Business Acceptability?


In the course of meeting new people, either through networking, volunteering or your kid’s soccer games, you’ll eventually be asked what you do?

“I own a marketing firm“.

To a person, the next question usually is: “What do you think about social media?”… Facebook, eblasts, Twitter, etc.

Most everyone knows how Facebook fits into their personal life. But what everyone is trying to figure out is where all of this has a place in their business life. It is indeed The Wild West out there… scary and fun all at once.

No doubt that if you deal with the consumer (B2C) you need to have a Facebook page, mobile reach, blasts, a Twitter handle. Makes sense, you’ll be reaching out to your consumer in many ways… all efficient. Be prepared though, this is a dialog that can boomerang. i.e., they can reach you too with all the good and the bad.

However, for businesses speaking to business (B2B) social media comes with caveats. The benefit may not be as obvious as the consumer version, but it does help. Probably more so in that not having a B2B Facebook page will be noticed; the type of awareness you don’t want.

You see, what social media is doing is creating “digital squeaking”; aka, the 21st century take on “The squeaky wheel gets greased”. The more your business is using any of the above the more you’ll be noticed. And this, is the type of awareness you do want.

Social media as a new way to connect with your customer is all fine and good.

But before you dive into the social media pool make sure you have a compelling reason “why you?”. Without that, all the squeaking in the world won’t help. In marketing, it will always come down to “why you?”.

Answer that… on your Facebook page.

Spinning plates


Have you ever seen a plate spinner? I have, once.

The spinner had five china plates and five 3/8″ thick wooden dowels. He balanced the plates on the dowels and gave each a twisty spin with both hands until all five were spinning. He stood back and… applause!

Very shortly though, the second plate started to wobble. And then the fifth. He went back to #2 and gave it another spin and did the same to #5. He kept at it, jumping from 5 to 1 to 4 to 3 to 2. Click here to see an example.

Plate spinning is also an excellent metaphor for any company’s marketing program.

Mainly, that you need to be attentive and maintain your efforts… otherwise you’ll waste time and money.

Any marketing campaign will take less energy and money when one is already running; by capitalizing on the momentum that your online ad, billboard, TV commercial or social media buzz has generated.

Obviously, if you are marketing, the messaging of your initial campaign is complete. This is the most expensive part of the marketing process… your product needs an introduction to your target so it requires the most start-up funding. A splashy beginning is good… but what do you do for the encore?

As with plate spinning, your marketing requires constant attention. You cannot fire and forget. Maintain and protect your product awareness by using your budget consistently. A slow trickle is better than nothing at all.

Maintain and keep at it. A tailwind sure beats a headwind.

The Super Bowl: the mother of all marketing opportunities


Super Bowl XLVI (#46 in english) is upon us next weekend… without a doubt the biggest day for American sports.

But equally as important is the advertising exposure it gives to many companies.

Now, to be fair, do we really need to watch another commercial about how great Google/MicroSoft/Apple is? And how many GMC or Ford pick up truck spots can you watch? We get it!

The fun part of the game (if the Giants aren’t destroying the Patriots) are the commercials from the new and emerging companies. The newbies as it were; the ones that have saved marketing money and are gambling on the product awareness 111 million estimated viewers (last year’s number) will generate… in one 60+ minute “program”!

We have Apple to thank for the noise created over the commercials. It seems commonplace now, but they were the first to employ 1) a very creative idea and 2) run it in the last two minutes of the game. As we all know from reality shows notoriety works very well also… who heard of GoDaddy before this one?

No, the really big number you’ll be hearing about will be the cost of one :30 Super Bowl commercial ($3 million). No wonder we see spots from the likes of Coca-Cola, Mercedes-Benz, Nike, et al!

OK, but from the marketing perspective, what does Super Bowl success look like? Hmmm, let’s see… a creative commercial idea + $3 million + 111 million viewers = off-the-charts revenue possibilities!

With odds like that, that’s a game plan I know Vegas would bet on!

Marketing. Your campaign for attention.


Think about it.

Politically speaking, the GOP debates did exactly what any marketing program would have needed to do. Trying to get greater exposure and air time for their president-seeking lineup. The debates expanded on the various Republican products from Michele Bachmann to Rick Santorum. Not unlike what GM, Coke or Apple would do for their lineups.

If your company is the candidate then your marketing firm is your campaign manager. It’s our job to make sure you receive the proper attention and sell you to the public.

Although, in politics as in the marketplace, you won’t please everyone. You shouldn’t go down that path anyway (kowtowing is usually not considered a good approach).

Just knowing your target will prevent you from wasting a lot of your marketing budget. Clearly defining your firm’s position and the primary reason why the consumer should buy your product. That’s it… very simple. Stay on strategy and stay on message… everyone will benefit.

If your marketing is working the right way the public will vote.

By buying your product!

Google ads!


I’m sure you’ve heard about those. They’re usually the first stop for businesses looking to do some form of advertising. Not too expensive but a starting point.

But this post is not about Google Ad Words. It’s about their forthcoming ad campaign.

“Why do they need to advertise? They doing great without it” you say.

Google certainly doesn’t need brand awareness or exposure. Google, like Kleenex or Xerox, has become the byword for internet search.

Do they feel a need to connect with people of all stripes? Maybe. This recent article in the New York Times explains why.

Success brings certain issues into focus. In Google’s case, needing to branch out beyond search and clickable ads; having more products requires increased marketing.

And, this is big, the competition has become more adept and savvy. Google has become a big target. It’s hard being the leader; first you’re lauded, then chased, then criticized.

So the time has come where one of the most successful brands needs to get their story out. Sounds like they’ll go about it the right way… by getting to the consumer through emotion: telling a humorous story, an experience or an interesting take on life. We consumers love getting a deal, but show us how relatable and human we are, and we’re yours!

Bottom line, it comes to this: if Google feels the need to advertise, what are you doing?

It’s a new year… get marketing.

“Moneyball”: paraphrased?


That’s right… here’s my read on “Moneyball”; the book written by Michael Lewis about how Billy Beane and his unappreciated and undervalued Oakland A‘s were able to compete and excel with a limited budget.

But my subtitle would be: Getting more with less: marketing in this crazy economy.

It’s no secret that when there’s a slow down the first cut is to the marketing budget. When the widgets aren’t selling the marketing gets placed on indefinite hold. As a business owner, I too, will forego certain capital improvements. We cut back.

But… I do not cut back on my firm’s marketing. i.e.: self-promotion, eblasts and networking. My aim (as it is for our clients) is getting the most bang for our buck. Whatever has the greatest potential to help us “stand out”, agencyHARTWELL will try. It’s not easy, certainly if your budget has been cut. However, recognizing the opportunity the economy has created is very important… because the marketing landscape has changed.

The momentum, awareness and exposure that you’ve created needs to be protected anyway possible. Doing nothing is going backwards; a hole that is unnecessary. I’ve said it before: you don’t need to spend a lot… but you need to spend something.

Most companies may not be crunching numbers and poring over stats as Mr. Beane has. But sitting on the sidelines (sorry, mixing my metaphors) isn’t going to help get you out of a slump. You have to get up to the plate… and swing!

Swing and keep at it.

I’m a big fan of KISS


Henri Matisse "Nude from the Back" - 1950

Not the late ’70s hard rock band. But the acronym for Keep It Simple Stupid.

KISS is the primary principle behind all effective branding and marketing.

A simplified strategy will always be easier to execute and, in turn, will be more digestible by your consumer. Everywhere you look… logos, movies, car design, literature, etc. it’s all about simplification. The “noise” has been striped out to focus on the important part. What’s the primary thought you want your target to remember? Make it easy for people.

The consumer may not realize the effort that has gone into getting a logo or a new Lexus to market. But I can tell you plenty of logos may have been designed and then refined before their public introduction. Likewise, the new car model; which has been trimmed down, tweaked and refined by the time it arrives in the marketplace.

Here’s a Henri Matisse story I was told while attending art school: every 19 year old student initially draws their nudes using a simple black outline. As Matisse did. What we art students didn’t realize was that it took Matisse 60 years to get to that simple line. Not a couple of semesters. He was constantly trimming, tweaking and refining… 60 years taught him to simply “take the garbage out”.

Since you won’t have 60 years… aiming for simplicity is your only course of action.

Remember: “KISS rules!”

Who’s different? You are! Then show it.


Waiting at a traffic light the other day, my eye caught a well-maintained, red Jeep. It was an older one… maybe a CJ.

It wasn’t white, black or silver. It wasn’t German, Japanese or Korean. But it was different. In a sea of cars, it stood out.

Which leads me to today’s post: what does your company do that no one else can say? What’s your company’s fingerprint? What makes it unique? Does it manufacture something someone also does, but better? Do you offer greater value? And does your consumer know this?

Here’s what we suggest to our clients… and it doesn’t require beaucoup bucks either: take chances with your marketing. Do risky work.

Being different requires it. But a word of caution… more important than budget is having the backbone to stand by it! Everyone from your CEO, President, COO all need to be supportive. Not only will you’ll find the marketing easier but being risky will generate “buzz”. And buzz is the free marketing Holy Grail that every company could use.

Even if you aren’t different, promoting your company is a lot better than doing nothing.

Oh, by the way, it should be obvious that your company better be able to follow through at what it does… otherwise you’ll be “different” for the wrong reason.

But back to what got me started. A red Ferrari would have caught my eye also but a $15,000 Jeep got my attention. At a fraction of the cost.

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