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How Your Sales Depend on the Story of a Little Boy Named Ben…

  No matter how game-changing the idea you’re pitching — you’re at the mercy of the dreaded Paradox of The Brilliant Idea Theory, which states: The more brilliant the idea, the less brilliantly it tends to be explained and understood. You can’t sell it if you can’t tell it. So, it goes to logic to Tell ...

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, don’t let them shape your creative concept. In trying to be au courant, you may fall into an old rut of pigeonholing by demagoguing on demographics. Millennials are, as human beings ...

Three Marketing Plan Rules (to Break)

  Last time we met, we busted up some branding rules “Three Branding Rules (to Break)” Still pumped? Good. Let’s put a healthy hurt on Three Marketing Plan Rules: Rule 1 (to break): Create the Marketing Plan Before Getting Creative Involved. Nah. Don’t wait. Break this rule. Break its door down ...

Three Branding Rules (to Break)

              So, yeah, you might not want to break the goat rule anytime soon, but here are the ones to go break into a million pieces…  Rule 1 (to break): Write a Mission Statement. Do this for your business plan, not for your branding. To brand, write your ...

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: ...

Wait Till I Get My Hands On You

“What we need is a pair of hands.” To the creative being, reducing the process to just that, a pair of hands, is like thinking of the ballet dancer as a pair of legs. Or seeing a piano player from the wrists down, fingers reflected in the Steinway logo. But, wait, ...

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 ...

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.     ...

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 ...

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. ...

Nice vs Wow

Next time you’re considering a visual for, well, absolutely anything representing your brand, consider the difference between the two responses: “Nice”         or “Wow”     Ask yourself, will it: 1. Stand Out from the 1,000s of images they will see today? 2. Stop+Engage them in feeling, thinking, and ...

Surprise: Your Brain Craves…

  Our brain is constantly scanning the environment looking for anything that is dangerous. This also means that the unconscious brain is looking for anything that is new or novel. The brain is not only looking for the unexpected, it actually craves the unexpected. Water vs. fruit juice —  In a ...

CEO: Know Thy Social Self

It’s not “social  media” that CEOs need concern themselves. It’s more a common sense leadership thing about knowing one’s self and one’s company’s Social Self.  A company’s Social Self can be a revenue-influencing metric that shows a CEO the comparative values between its company and its competitors when and how ...

Gladwell’s Secret Sauce

I have to bring us back to this classic Gladwell. It remains deliciously relevant to seeking a universal answer for making customer X satisfied with product or service Y. Don’t fret over the length of this talk. Malcolm Gladwell makes it fly. ...

Why we look to others to save our ass

  You’re in a movie theater or a large event space, when smoke starts coming into the room from an air vent. It isn’t clear what the smoke is, if it’s dangerous, so it is, from your viewpoint thus far, an ambiguous situation. Whether you or anyone else — another ...

Brand Takeaway #1

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~ Maya Angelou ...

8 Ways to Rivet Your Audience

Here is the top reason your presentation can fail: Your presentation is boring. That’s it, that’s the top reason. Boredom kills interest, at every point of the total experience, from the ad or post you created to get them to the presentation, to choice of venue, signage, food and drink, materials, ...

CEOs: Two-Compass Marketing

Dear CEO, We established that revenue growth is linked to two sets of values: 1. The Internal Marketing Compass, pointing us true north to our brand’s internal values of style, detail, emotion, discovery, trust, wow factor, and integrity. And 2. The External Marketing Compass, pointing us to our measurable external values of social ...

CEOs: Internal Marketing Compass

Dear CEO, Enjoyed our lunch at MJ’s in Grand Central, and how we identified a big truth: some critical values that drive revenue can’t be measured by traditional economics. For them, we need a different behavioral economics tool: an Internal Marketing Compass that points to our brand’s internal values of style, detail, emotion, ...

Write This Down: Trust

You communicate in many ways — emails, telephone, instant message, face to face. But research reminds us not to forget the most powerful teller of trust. Paper. Researcher Charles Naquin showed how honest people behave when they communicate with email vs. pen and paper. In one study, 48 graduate business students ...

Try to See Things My Way

According to neuroscience studies, Inattention Blindness or Change Blindness may be the reason your prospects miss stuff, even large changes, in their visual field. Here’s an experiment that shows you how this works. Something you want your prospect to see in your content may be essentially invisible to them. Especially ...

Convinced vs Persuaded, Part 3

  Four Freeze Frame Thoughts In 4 Seconds Before Climbing In That Car… 1. We feel before we think. Impulse is more powerful than reason, an odds-on favorite to do — or not to do — that thing you might accept or reject with more information and deliberation. 2. To ...

Convinced vs Persuaded, Part 2

”Cold as all hell, climb in, front’s ok,” said the shadowed face behind the wheel in the dark blue Ford that stopped to pick your out-of-gas ass up at two in the freezing morning on a lonely dark road in Godknowswhere… In context of the whole story, did you find yourself ...

Convinced vs Persuaded, Part 1

You can’t believe it. You. Hitchhiking. In the freezing cold. On an unfamiliar road at two in the morning. It’s been 66 minutes since your car ran out of gas. Forty-five minutes since you got through to the local police. “We’re trying to get a car out to you,” said ...

Kitchen Financials: Keynesian Economics

Where do you get the best picture of life’s most difficult concepts, in the classroom or in the kitchen? Stirring the Pot of Keynesian Economics In The Classroom… John Maynard Keynes’s book, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, launched the macro-economic idea that government spending is the best ...

Trust: Look or Substance?

Each “trust moment” — business card, office building, elevator, sign on door, reception, bathroom, conference room…plays into your prospect’s feeling about your presentation and marketing materials. When research participants rejected a health website as not being trustworthy, 83% of their comments were related to design factors, such as an unfavorable first ...

Hiring and COO’ng

Are you a writer or editor? Focused on building a company or a team? Hire those who share "First Principles"? Know four leading indicators of undiscovered talent? Check out this interview. Don't worry if it's not exactly your industry. There are nuggets here that apply to all. See if you ...

Kitchen Financials: The Sticky Derivative

Where do you get the best picture of life’s most difficult concepts, in the classroom or in the kitchen?   The Sticky Business of Financial Derivatives   In The Classroom… Broadly defined, a financial derivative is a contract whose value is tied to something else. Such as a stock, bond, ...

Rise of the CMO, Stage 3

I have two sons on the morphing edge of things; one at Google, the other at BBC America. And it helped to serve as CMO in two transforming industries, financial and healthcare. I see the emerging CMO as the business leader who, one marketing plan at a time, has a ...
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