Verizon Billboard in Los Angeles

“Is that a new yoga pose or are you trying to find your signal?”

A great advertisement by Verizon…why?

It’s Cheap – I’m all for crazy over the top advertising, but sometimes the return-on-investment is hard to gauge when implementing such a project. Writing some text for a billboard should cost only the invested thinking time and the space of the billboard itself.

It’s Easily Re-Purposed -. A strictly text based advertisement also allows for easy re-purposing of content across multiple channels, which over time can help save time and keep advertising costs down.

It’s on an L.A. Freeway – L.A. county is home to 10 million pairs of eyeballs, the 405 freeway is one of the most frequented paths in the world and it moves slower than snails. So you know this advertisement will be read. Good thinking Verizon marketers.

It’s Short and Bargain-less – If this Verizon billboard were cluttered with colors and filled to the brim with “20% off!” and “save this!” or “only that much?! wow!”, it would be subconsciously avoided by the masses. We see over 2000 advertisements in a day on average, so we’re naturally learned to tune most of them out. Keeping it simple will help ensure your message gets read.

It’s Humorous where it Counts – This is what I would consider the most important piece of the advertisement. Most people get this wrong. You’ll see funny ad’s and forget who said it because it was irrelevant to the product or service. Tying the humor to the subject at hand is important. It’s important to not offend your target audience, however, as this advertisement is arguably close to doing. It’s also important that the humor is highlighting something that matters to your prospects and is something you excel at. Verizon marketers know how funny it can be to see people trying to get there text or image to send from their iPhone by stretching there phone up high over there head in a cat like yoga stance. Doing this almost never works, and it’s usually not Verizon’s service crapping out. Nail on the head with this advertisement.

 ♠ Verizon Billboard in Los Angeles ♣

Why We Watched Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao

Why did you watch boxing?

You don’t even like boxing.

How did the fight net $400,000,000? This fight was about as entertaining as dirt… Yet, nearly everyone you bumped into days prior to the “rumble” had already taken a side in the fight. Without really digging too deep, we can uncover a few prominent underlying causes.

1. Celebrities – When every American celebrity is taking part in a single event, it’s going to turn heads. HBO/Showtime likely had some power in getting their celebrity clients to generate some buzz for the event. The posts across social media platforms was one thing, but the massive list of celebrity attendees and the entourage following Manny Pacquiao out the ring was fantastic.

2. Promotional Money – Floyd Mayweather has a history as a promoter. Throw a pile of money into the mix and watch what happens. Remember “Gangnam Style?” Sure, it went viral… not that the $50 million in promotions had anything to do with it.

3. Herd Mentality – Once people start seeing ads, articles, and extensive promo videos for the event, the seed is planted. Then they begin seeing their favorite celebrities talking about the event and hearing their own friends discussing the event. Now it’s a matter of time before the hop on the band-wagon.

4. Competition – This is nothing new, as humans we naturally love competition. As Americans, we’re even more compelled. However, this wasn’t some city vs. some other city. This was two boldly different characters. Floyd, being the primary instigator and promoter for the event knew that the best thing he could do is be a cocky character. I’m not saying that’s necessarily an act he put on, but when you hear half the country arguing about his riches and unethical influence in boxing vs. Manny Pacquiao’s dedication to the sport”… you know he’s doing something right from a marketing standpoint.

♣ Why We Watched Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao ♠

Caitlyn Jenner in the Public Eye

Ad Age author Michael Sebastian spoke about the sheer volume of internet mention of Caitlyn Jenner across the web in the last week, numbers that leave Kim Kardashian’s mentions in the dust. He then goes onto explain that brands don’t want to “jump on the bandwagon” of publicity because of it’s risks. What risks? Well, Michael explains that if your company hasn’t been a supporter of LGBT type causes in the past, there’s a fear that if you did make a statement regarding Caitlyn Jenner, it would be seen as superficial, greedy, and ill-purposed.

Then again, even if a company hasn’t necessarily had a “track record”, wouldn’t this be the time stand up and say something? Knowing that much of the younger generation (my generation rather) is in a supporting role of LGBT causes, I know these companies “want” to support these issues in terms of marketing, which makes me think, maybe the reason they aren’t saying anything is because they have executives who are… against it?

This post isn’t just for the brands or the LGBT rights which I support, it’s also to consider what get’s embedded into the public eye and why. Well, if you took the celebrity aspect out of the equation, there would have been an entirely different set of headlines this past week. When a topic considered controversial meets a strong cause, it will sometimes reach the public eye, but with an A-list celebrity, it will. What if it were a B or C-list celebrity? What would happen then? The cause isn’t any less important, but will it receive less attention because of the less popularized celebrity? What if you added something to the equation? What if you added a lot of things to the equation? Let’s say, in the same week, another massive BP oil spill occurs, a large L.A. earthquake, a meteor strikes the ocean, and Google shuts down. Then what happens? Is there an order of operations? Which one of these would then rank the most important, which would be most interesting, and which would marketers want to involve themselves or their companies with?

♠ Caitlyn Jenner in the Public Eye ♣

Consumer Behavior – My Laptop Purchase

If you were marketing or selling laptops to me, how effective would you have been?

Let’s look at my decision making criteria and find out…

  1. If you couldn’t be found with a google search, you were in trouble. It’s absolutely no secret that many purchases such as this begin with an internet search. I’m only bringing this up to emphasize that I couldn’t be found with a drip marketing campaign or across the display network simply because my purchase was one of urgency. My previous laptop had just broke and I needed a replacement immediately.
  2. If you weren’t under $450 dollars, you were finished. My intention for this laptop is to hold me over for about 6 months and give it to my girlfriend (who also needs a new laptop) at which time I would buy the more sophisticated laptop I ultimately need. This initial purchase didn’t need all the bells and whistles. Note, at this next purchase, I may be seen in forums or downloading reviews over a longer course of time, thus, a display or drip campaign may be suiting? If you can find a way to separate those two types of buyers, you may want to market to them differently.
  3. If you weren’t a local store, you were already at a disadvantage. In fact, if you weren’t selling your laptop at Fry’s Electronics, you were behind. I live right next to Fry’s Electronics and trust them with most of my consumer electronics purchases. For me to branch beyond that would likely mean I’d have to be dissatisfied with everything they had before looking any further. Furthermore, the time necessity of this purchase would prohibit me from wasting any more browsing the web or other stores. This is the type of product I like to see in person and feel in hand before actually coughing up the dough.
  4. If your specifications weren’t easily found, you dropped from my search. The Processer, RAM, and Hard Drive / SSD specs were the three main bits of technical criteria in my purchase. Interestingly enough, the screen size, display quality, and even operating system were so unimportant at the time of purchase that I could have disregarded them almost entirely. This brings up an interesting point. How could a laptop manufacturer/reseller know which specifications are the most important to their audience? Can this be refined based on some sort of user data collection to better serve each customer? As a marketer, uncovering this information might guide you’re prospect towards what they want.
  5. Brand and friend influence did matter in the end. When I had narrowed it down to two laptops, the price difference between them was a mere negligible $10. One was a Dell, the other an Asus. The final decision was made off the association between my geekier friend’s preference for Asus and my own interest in the brand.

This is a good exercise to get into the mindset of your customers.

Why People Hate Your Ads & Salespeople

Why People Hate Ads

They’re Being Interrupted. You might be watching a video online, when you are suddenly forced into watching another 15 second video. Irritating? Yes. You might be trying to read an article when suddenly, BLAM! A popup window telling you to do this or that, and that if you don’t, you’ll miss out… These are dirty tactics of marketers. They don’t have to be this overbearing. It’s a choice they make, and as a result, they get their message in front of you for better or worse. They know it might leave a stale taste in your mouth, but they perceive it as worth it, and statistically speaking, it often is. As the advertising world continues, however, it is our job as marketers to try to pull away from these methods as they reflect a pushiness unto your customers and on a grand scale, it lowers the standard of everyday life. An easy way to determine how much is too much is to reflect on how you react to these types of ads.

The Ads Are Irrelevant. One thing you quickly learn when taking Google’s Adwords exam is that they’re all about relevance. There goal is to get the most accurate and relevant content in front of the users (and make a profit from it). This is a great step forward as people are less upset by ads that actually pertain to them. However, if you ever visited a website, bought something from it, and continued to notice ads from that site following you around, you might be inclined to say, “Hey! I already bought this Google Ads, leave me alone!” So, it’s not a perfect system, but this is the direction things are going. Better targeted ads means better tailored ads, which improves the viewer experience. Internally, marketer’s should be carefully dividing their clients and prospects into they’re own special, individualized campaigns.

You’re Ads Are Boring. It’s astounding. As a marketer, you must become a student of that market! This means you must understand what does and does not interest your customers. This is the risky, tricky, magical part of marketing where you have to be in tune with consumer behavior. This is and always will be the most important part of marketing outside of actually better designing the product or service at hand. So fix it!

 Why People Hate Salespeople

They’re Incentive’s Are Out Of Line!  The typical salesperson’s goal is to get you to buy something whether you need it or not. Why? Because they profit from it. The customer’s goal is to determine whether or not it is the right thing to buy. So, already, from the start, before the salesperson says a word, he has lost the trust of the potential customer. This is the fault of a long history of horrible salespeople. Sales manager’s today need to stop playing by the old rule book and get the’re salespeople to start helping the customer make a decision correctly and efficiently. The amount of time saved by helping a prospect correctly say “no” to the incorrect sale is going to pay off in the long run, this is the future of sales.

Its In The Name! Think about it, the very title “Sales” says to the customer, “This guy’s trying to get me!” That’s why some companies have even gone as far as to change that title to something like “Customer Happiness Officer”. I would encourage this, however, only if you abandon all pushy sales tactics, as to keep these new titles clean.

The Argument for Feedback – Sales to Engineers

A good way to know what the next move for your company should be is to have godly marketing abilities. If you are unfortunately still a mortal at this time, the next best way is to use your intuition in conjunction with keeping your eyes and ears open and collecting data.

Let’s pretend for a moment, that you are the CEO of a large telecom provider in 2009ish (or even an investor in the company). Getting an accurate idea of how much data will be passed through your systems will give you a competitive intelligence against your rival companies. Video is commonly the most taxing form of data and thus the most important to observe. You know the rate of growth with smart devices, the increase in inter connectivity, the trend towards video as a preferred format of information, and the increasing demand levels of hd video and the implications of all of these elements on your market.

Now, tell me, would you have accounted for the fact that a portion of people are watching hdtv in the background while browsing videos on a laptop and simultaneously leaving “Face Time” running on their phones? Sure, an extreme example, but it is true that people are watching 2nd and even 3rd screens at the same time, another large bump in data transmission to be accounted for.

How could anyone have predicted that before seeing the result? Perhaps a godly marketer, or industry veteran, or perhaps no one. The point I’m driving is this. Understanding these kinds of behaviors and the forces that drive them are important and overlooked and perhaps indecipherable, but isn’t worth a shot?! Assuming this doesn’t work, have the . This is why organizations should have their product creators, designers or engineers receive feedback from the end users, which may often come in through sales touch points.

♠ The Argument for Feedback – Sales to Engineers ♣

Tombstone Incentives

An immense amount of marketing talent comes from rationalizing human behavior, particularly when money is involved. Combining my interest in American history with my passion for marketing, I submit to you my passage below…

In the Old West, more specifically 1881, a famous silver mining town spawned in the Arizona State of the United States of America. Tombstone, the town “too tough to die”, as it is nicknamed, is best known for it’s association with the battle at the O.K. Corral in which the infamous post-lawmen Earp brothers fought against the Cowboys aided by none other than renowned Doc Holiday.

I give to you the story of incentives that powered Tombstone, which in turn, through a butterfly effect, shaped bits and pieces of our American culture, the location of a capital, and arguably the standing of our nation as recognized today through the political influence of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Now, before we travel back to 1881, let me ask the question, “How do you spot incentives?”. Data is always a great way to scratch away at falsehoods and find the driving force of a batch of cases, but let’s assume we’re looking at an isolated case. Data might prove less helpful here. Well, we can ask questions. However, it’s important that they are answered with awareness and a lack of biases, which is actually surprising hard to come by.

For example, I bought a wrist watch yesterday. Go ahead. Ask why I bought it. If you asked why I bought it, I might say, “I wanted a black waterproof watch.” Is that it? Is that really why this transaction took place? No, it goes deeper. Deeper than most will even be aware.

Waterproof and dark met the basic criteria of my purchase but, what was the real driving force, the motive, the ultimate and underlying incentive that lead me to this watch? It was, of course, a messy combination of things. I love the look and textural appearance of matte black, I surf regularly and would like to see the time during such occasions. I wanted a watch that can be worn 24/7 and somewhat match with anything I might wear. I would prefer to find it online. It must not interfere when typing on a keyboard. It needs to be more than $100 dollars for quality purposes, yet less than $200 dollars for financial purposes. It also needs to resonate with me on a more personal level. In fact, this is the case with many purchases, whether you pay attention to it or not. It just so happens, this watch marks the date of a drastic change in my life.

Based on this reflection, we might deduce that my truest incentive for buying a watch was to mark a change. Would you call this an incentive? I would! I might call this a self-fulfilling incentive scheme which I’ve inflicted unto myself. I don’t expect anyone to see me different, therefore I can’t classify this as some peer-approving social incentive that drives so many of today’s gym-goers. This was strictly to remind myself of the change I’ve made. I restate, without data, we must, without bias, answer penetrating questions as correct as possible.

Now, back in time we go.

It’s no feat to uncover the root incentive of Tombstone. Silver. For obvious reasons, we can call this a financial incentive during the time of the Silver Rush. As stated in “Think Like a Freak”, the size of a financial incentive matters. Let’s try to work it backwards. How much money would it take to get a swarm of bankers and lawyers to leave their high posts by train to the boonies of Tucson, Arizona, followed by a seventeen hour stagecoach ride across the barren desert in which they will have a 70% chance of getting shot and killed by the Apache legend ‘Geronimo’ before arriving in the booming town of Tombstone. Then, upon entering, they must leave their days of luxury literally in the dirt as they dig up rock embedded with silver ore using only hammer, nail, and dynamite for ten hours a day in a dark cramped underground tunnel. I can assure you, they were profiting handsomely.

The financially obscure town of Tombstone was such a powerful oddity,  that it caused a trickle effect throughout the capillaries of the community. The miners were mining the mines, and the townsfolk were mining the miners. Tombstone was said to have 140 saloons on it’s main street which didn’t stretch more than a quarter mile. The miners became gamblers in the evening, and watched as the chips dwindled to the mining done by “the house”.

Additionally, these 140 saloons obviously served alcohol. The bartenders would typically offer a drink for a pinch of silver-dust. Silver was carried in a sack as ground-down dust to deter robbers from knowing whom to shoot. There were three primary bartender tactics used to mine miners. One, the bartender grew his thumb nail and pointer finger nail extra long to secretly stash extra silver with each pinch. Two, the bartender would constantly sweep the counter for excess silver. Three, at nights end, he would then sweep the floors, allowing dust to fall between the beams to then pan for silver underneath the flooring. Even the laundromats, run by Chinese Hop-Town captives had a hand in the game. When the miners clothes were washed, they were panned! Financial incentives, indeed. Money drove the townspeople in, and money drove the townspeople out. But before we go there, let’s see what effect this town had on the world.

Amid-st this towns boom were two fires which demolished the town, twice, and a historical gun fight at the O.K. Corral headed by Wyatt Earp. There are at least a handful of movies depicting this exact scene. However, it is lesser known that the entire infatuation of the cowboy genre, was heavily influenced by this battle, more particularly by Wyatt Earp himself. You see, after left behind his legacy, it didn’t immediately become popularized on a wide-spread scale. Wyatt lived his latter years out in Los Angeles, California. It was here he was found near a Hollywood set babbling in his old age about the Old West to some director and some young actor. That young actor was whom would soon be recognized as John Wayne. Thus the the film “Stagecoach” and hundreds of westerns that tailed it.

Now, do you believe in the butterfly effect? It’s not fair to ask such a question because it biases the respondent. The truth anything in history has a direct effect on some things, and some of those things have large impacts while others do not. It’s really a matter of distinguishing the two from one another to uncover whether or not is a profound realization. FDR, prior to his attendance at Harvard, attended the highly exclusive Groton School of Massachusetts. It is said that his experience there helped shape him into what he became, but to what extent? The reason I ask is because this school was primarily funded by a man who had become wealthy by his time in Tombstone. Considering FDR lead the nation through the Great Depression as well as World War II in addition to establishing the New Deal, it is worth bouncing around how much of his character and life’s path was influenced by that Tombstone-funded school.

As I mentioned earlier, money drove the townspeople in, and money drove the townspeople out. With one swift government decision, gold was in, and silver was out. The price of silver plummeted and it became more expensive to mine than to sell. If this weren’t the case, it is likely that tombstone would have become the capitol of Arizona. That’s the weight of financial incentives speaking.

While I have you here, let me clear up a few misconceptions about the Old West. First, we have the swinging doors at the entrance of every saloon. That’s a gross exaggeration. Some had them, but they were usually followed by a five foot deck to the actual door, the others were simply your standard door. Next, the red sashes. Cowboys didn’t all wear red sashes. That would give them away and they would be shot. It is simply a fake artifact dreamed up in Hollywood. Also, recall the high-noon quick draw. Most fights were forgotten the day of due to severe drunkenness, and there were by far more deaths by disease than any barrage of air-borne bullets. Oh and by the way, a shot glass is a called a shot glass because a bullet could pass as currency for it’s purchase.

Here’s an unanswered question for your own consideration. Why are there still people living in Tombstone today?