The X Factor of Effective Content: ConteXt   

(recall vs recognition test below) I thought Content was king, until I realized there was a new king: Context. Made sense as I saw the failure of brands trying to engage me with content at the wrong time, in the wrong place. Ha! if they even got to the real me and not ...

Stop Boring Your Customer’s Brain

See if you can tell how the stock image and headline, respectively below, were reimagined…and why. Stock is the default choice for the speed and pace of getting your message out. An inherent problem with a lot of stock is that it’s a stock answer. The brain isn’t challenged. There’s ...

The Grand Canyon (a reminder in a forgetful time for love)

Maybe you’re right: Love ain’t, or ought not to be, about this one designated day that feeds the greeting card-restaurant-chocolate-roses-silk sheets industrial complex. But, for me, it serves a good purpose today: a reminder in an otherwise forgetful time for love. I was rummaging through boxes of memorabilia in the basement when ...

Pair of hands

“What we need around here is a pair of hands.” Have you ever heard that casual, intellectually and emotionally detached comment to describe the need for an art director or designer (implicitly, cheap and fast)?  To the creative being — art director, designer, et al— reducing their process to just that, ...

Irresistible at First Sight

Hmmm, what’s wrong with this picture that makes it so right? So irresistible to the eye and brain? Is your brand saying, Hey, check this out, something different!? Or are you signaling, Been there, done that? Are your customers seeing, feeling, something different about you? Compelling, intriguing them at first sight, to know more? Engaging their imagination ...

Until We See It Together

 I was holding my cup of hot coffee with both gloveless hands on a cold late afternoon in Manhattan, looking into a storefront window.  Standing next to me was a young mother and her little daughter with a physical disability. They were both looking at the “perfect” body of the ...

How Your Sales Depend on the Story of Ben

  You know things. Like how storytelling is the way we’re wired to learn. To communicate. To empathize.  Yep, to sell, our ideas, our dreams. You can’t sell it if you can’t tell it. It’s just part of our human DNA: 1. We learn (far faster) 2. and retain (far longer) 3. ...

Three Marketing Plan Rules (to Break)

  Rule 1 (to break): Create Marketing Plan Before Getting Brand/Creative Involved. Nah. Don’t wait. Break this rule. Break its door down if you have to, but get Creative in the room. Differentiating, ROI marketing doesn’t just happen by opening the lid of a creative box, throwing in the plan and hitting ...

Five Creative Rules (to Break)

Rule 1 (to break): Create for Millennials. The $200b-spending 18-34 year-old does shape marketplaces, as the Baby Boomer still does. But, in trying too hard to be au courant, you may fall into an old rut of pigeonholing and demagoguing on demographics. Millennials are, as human beings tend to be, a beautifully ...

Three Branding Rules (to Break)

              Rule 1 (to break): Above All, Write and Revere Your Marketing-Sales “Message Stack.”  Nope, not “above all” — that would be putting the bathwater above the baby. Not a safe thing to do. So, absolutely, get your quarterly “message stack” in order, for ...

Market Like Water

Customers seek remarkable brand experiences — like water for a parched soul.   ILFORD PHOTO: Black-and-white photographers didn’t need to see more photos in ads; they were thirsty for a brand that understood their art. Inventive. Irrepressible. Illuminating. Ilford. Nobody sees more into black & white than we do.     ...

Work to Do

while attending to my to-do list at work i saw a message on social media that a company teammate's father had died she was devastated ….and, yet, it was the middle of the day and i had work to do so i did the work that needed to be done: ...

A Promise Kept One Summer Night, Leaning Against My Pontiac LeMans

{ One summer night out front of 5008 Adrian Street, Rockville, Maryland } You: "Think you need to wash this bad boy." Me: "So, you're really going through with this…?" "My father got the final transfer papers today." "Can't believe you'll be playing for our crosstown rival." "YOUR crosstown rival." "Up ...

The Sweet Round of Her Thumb

  Riding a relentless conveyer belt of people on Fifth Avenue in midtown Manhattan, I had to stop and step aside to stare at a reflection on a storefront’s glass window. It was of a woman lifting her child playfully on a beach — from an advertisement on the side of a bus ...

Father’s Day Ride to Somewhere, Something Incredible

I got a lot of my inspiration from my dad and his father, my Grampa Meyer. It often came in stories at the dinner table, bedtime, and riding to work together. So, for Father’s Day, I’m telling them a story that will take them for a ride 800,000 miles away — ...

Sons of the Torch

                  my torch holders, no the flame is memory is moment is motivation not to hold fast to past form but to reshape the world in yours as you see to see to know it that is peace to me that is ...

The Vote-for-Me Smile

  You kinda know when you feel it, but science says the tell is in the eyes. A real smile involves contraction of two muscles: 1. Zygomatic major muscle (which raises the corners of the mouth) 2. Orbicularis oculi muscle (which raises the cheeks and makes your eyes crinkle). Named after ...

The Strong That Is You

You stand strong at 30 With a voice all your own And it wasn’t always easy coming But something fierce and loving Always spoke to you from your core Telling you that what’s true and good in you Can be what’s true and good in the world Now, here you are At 30 ...

Pizza Verdi

How will you change my world? The suspense is killing me… A pizza, a knife, and a little opera. A seemingly routine pizza delivery escalates into a tense game of cat-and-mouse. A quintessential New York tale. And the art of remarkable storytelling.  A short film by Gary Nadeau.   Pizza ...

Turning Ughs into Love

First, get to know ‘Ugh’ Customer Experiences • Each ‘Ugh’ tells 9-15 people; 13% of whom tell 20+* • Amplifies their unhappiness at massive scale • Pushes clients toward exit; wards off prospects • Calls help lines, files support tickets, returns products • Ties up admin, finance and legal • Triggers ...

Sprint’s Death+Life Customer Experience

Throwback Thursday: In 2007,  Sprint decided its best solution for decreasing customer complaints was to send service termination letters to its most frequent, costly complainers: 1,200 of its 53 million customers. It’s one of the greatest hate-love letter stories in brand-turn-around history. The Thinking at The Time: Company’s old leadership felt ...

Where the Wild Things Are

It’s a rare treat to  listen in on one of the seminal voices of creativity and literature.  The voice of Maurice Sendak,  speaking http://www.npr.org/2011/09/20/140435330/this-pig-wants-to-party-maurice-sendaks-latest ...

Your “To Be or Not to Be” List

Try not to become a person of success but rather to become a person of value. ~ Albert Einstein To be or not to be, that is the question.  ~ William Shakespeare Shake things up. Be an Albert Shakespeare (or William Einstein). Before you begin any messaging, check your brand’s ...

The X-Factor of Customer Experience

Harvard Business Review says a brand’s first concern should be “the quality of the customer’s experiences.” Forrester says emotion plays the largest role in customer happiness, ahead of effectiveness and ease. Mercedes-Benz CEO, Stephen Cannon, says customer “satisfaction” isn’t good enough. You have to mandate, commit to and achieve “extraordinary” customer experiences. So, ...

Truth in Hedge Fund Advertising?

“Transparency,” “access” and “performance” are the buzzwords that hedge funds may want to highlight as they step out of the shadows and start marketing to a broader audience, advertising executives said. “They have to find a way to be more transparent,” said Rob Reilly, chief creative officer of Crispin, Porter & ...

The Uniqlo Glow of Respect

Ever wonder why some people (and brands) have you at hello…and others just don’t? At Uniqlo, Hello isn’t just a company policy. It’s actually a revenue-driving principle of management that must be felt authentically by the customer to mean: – “I’m here to help you, not sell you.” – “I respect ...

Got Change?

THE BOOK: SWITCH   Chapter 1: Three Surprises About Change One Saturday back in 2000, some unsuspecting moviegoers showed up at a suburban theater in Chicago to catch a 1:05 p.m. matinee of Mel Gibson’s action flick Payback. They were handed a soft drink and a free bucket of popcorn ...

Face in a Crowd?

Amidst the hustle bustle of an overcrowded street in New York City, you suddenly, unexpectedly, out of the hundreds of people in your visual field, see the face of someone you know. Not only do you recognize them immediately, you also have an accompanying emotional response (love, hate, fear, etc). ...

Top Dance Routine Ever?

Imagine a dance routine in a 2082 version of Dancing with the Stars. Think it would blow you away compared to today? Now, check out this from the same 70-year time span…going back in time. Think it could possibly still be one of the greatest dance routines ever? You decide. ...

Competing

More People = Less Desire To Compete Did you take standardized tests to get into college? Like the SAT and ACT? How many people were in the room when you took the test? Does it matter? Research by Stephen Garcia and Avishalom Tor shows that it may matter a lot. Fewer ...
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