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5 Mobile Marketing Baby Steps

Surprisingly, more brands than you think have yet to get into mobile media or advertising. The prudent forward-looking professionally paranoid marketer will get started and get smarter about mobile media and marketing now.

Tips For Staying Active At Your Desk Job

Better well-being makes for a much happier person, on and off the job. No matter how active you think you are after clocking out, it never hurts to squeeze a little more “me” time when planted at a desk for hours on end to help get the kinks out.

Keeping Your Enemies Closer

Most business people recognize early on that they’re going to have to work with “enemies,” people they don’t especially like or trust--or pay the price in performance and sometime job loss.

PURE: The Formula for Customer Engagement

Genuine consumer engagement is the Holy Grail for marketers. We are continually groping for the secret formula for using content to build bonds between brands and consumers that ensure repeat business, referrals, loyalty and advocacy.

Listening: A Simple Pattern with a Big Payoff

“What’s the most important communication rule I need to know for my business?” “Well,” I responded, “not the talking I’ve been doing here. Instead, ask a couple highly relevant questions and listen, listen, and listen.

Networking Tips for Introverts

Some people are simply born for networking. They're able to connect with others in various contexts, keep the conversation going, and have the courage to talk to people they don't know. If you're an introvert and all of the above scares you, welcome aboard!

12 Tips to Become a Better Presenter (Part 3)

If you’ve been following this series of presentation tips, you will now understand the purpose of your presentation and as much as you can about your audience. You will also be clear on how to structure the “noise.”

12 Tips to Become a Better Presenter (Part 2)

It’s time to give some structure to the presentation whizzing around in your head. At the moment it probably feels like a theme park of noise in your mind...

12 Tips to Become a Better Presenter (Part 1)

Many people believe that the ability to present an idea to an audience with confidence, clarity, and impact is a talent that the lucky few are simply born with. As a presentation skills coach, I’m here to shatter the illusion.

It's Time to Rethink the Hiring (and Job Hunting) Process - Part Two

Part one of this discussion explained how the present hiring process results in eliminating all but people who are looking to make a strictly lateral move. Many such hires are less than the best.

6 Tools For Managing Multiple Social Media Accounts

No matter if you are serving multiple businesses or just one, the following six tools can help you manage your social media accounts successfully.

Why You Should Embrace Failure

About 10 years ago, I decided I didn’t want to work for “the man” anymore. I was tired of working at my little desk, drained from the daily hour-plus commute each way, and sick of getting paid less than what I knew I was worth.

Focus on The Customer Journey

Creating brand awareness, preference, and demand leading to purchase is a matter of getting granular about your customers’ journey. Marketers must plot out, anticipate, and service each discrete step from need to brand selection and find appropriate ways to nurture the relationship. The process by which your customer accepts, internalizes, and aligns with your brand is both unique to each individual and common to many identifiable segments.

Pursuing Personalization

Personalized communication prompts better and faster response and engagement. That’s why personalization is on every CMO’s agenda. In a Forrester survey, 68% of firms stated that delivering personalized experiences is a priority.

8 Truths for Creative Individuals 

Being a terrible negotiator is epidemic among creative professionals. We avoid it, sticking our heads in the sand, or, perhaps worse, think we’re above having to negotiate at all and don’t bother to prepare.

My Best Piece of Career Advice: Listen

I remember a marketing intern asking me once, “What is one thing that I should be doing to learn as much as possible while I’m here?” My answer was simple, “Eavesdrop.” Of course, I was kidding – at least partially kidding.

Four Critical Aspects of a Successful Client/Agency Relationship

Over the last 18 years of being a marketing professional (mainly on the agency side), I have experienced some amazing working relationships with clients. Not only did these great interactions build the clients’ businesses, but they also made the agencies better. A client/agency relationship is like a marriage in that each individual party flourishes when the connection between the two parties is healthy and strong.

How Columbian Guerrillas Teach Advertisers to Stop Fighting

Marketing is often characterized as a war. It’s not hard to see why when so many campaigns are long, expensive conflicts between two sides. The Cola Wars of the 80s. Battles over features between cellular providers. Microsoft’s painful rebuttals to “I’m a Mac.” The status quo in advertising is to shoot and shoot back.

Social Media's Next Move

Social commerce is in its infancy. Facebook garners the lion’s share of online business, though consumers turn to the full range of social outlets for product and service recommendations. With order values ranging from $66.75 on Polyvore to $37.63 on Reddit, much turns on the price and value of goods and services offered.

The Life and Death of a Lifestyle Brand

When a lifestyle brand is born, a core following finds an interesting point of difference that’s relevant to them. They identify with the brand on a personal level. This core following is small, but extremely passionate. They become instant advocates for the brand and evangelize the brand with honesty and fervor, bringing profound credibility to the brand.

The Bigness Trap

Too many marketers think bigger is always better. They figure that if they bomb a huge universe of prospects with their message, the big number of those touched will eventually yield a decent number of sales or conversions. It’s crude and a trap!

7 Unique Ways Your Business Can Use Social Media

Last week I had a terrible experience with a cable television service. They didn’t show up for the installation appointment, and were unable to set up a new appointment when I called to reschedule. So like any curious marketer would do, I tweeted about it just to see what kind of response I would get. The response I got surprised me.

SEM 3.0 People-Centric Search

The results you get on Google are served up selectively. Smart brands are pinpointing desirable customers among those searching. Paid search, like other digital modalities, is becoming more data-driven and personalized in real time.

Are You Ready to Use Big Data?

Big Data is more aspiration than reality for most marketing organizations. Broad consensus on the strategic value of Big Data gives way to the myriad of nuts-and-bolts technical issues necessary to structure a data ecosystem and bring crisp data-driven insights to life in personalized communications.

The Four Fs in Resolving Brand Mistakes

Since brands (and businesses) are composed of imperfect people, brands occasionally make mistakes. Good brands don’t make a lot of mistakes. Great brands recover quickly from the mistakes they do make. Whether a brand instigates a life-threatening problem (think poisoned Tylenol) or brings you the wrong dinner order, the resolution process should include four main principles.

5 Musts for Successful Marketers

Adapting to a world continuously transformed by new digital thinking and technology requires 5 Musts to fully appreciate, process, and selectively use the cornucopia of innovations and options. The 5 Musts underlie effective digital strategy and digital architecture.

Why Marketing Is So Difficult

Many of my friends and family members say that Esparza’s work is “magical.” What I mean by this is they think our creative ideas and advertising campaigns just appear by magic. We simply wave a wand and beautiful and strategic work just comes to life. If only it were that simple.

Work/Life Balance: At What Cost?

We’ve all heard the proverb “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” I believe that to be true. Advertising is a very deadline-driven business, and we all succumb to the demands on our time, getting constantly pulled in many directions, often stretching ourselves much too thin.

Is A.I. a Silver Bullet?

The fundamental principles and basic math behind AI have been around for years. What’s changed has been our general willingness to grab onto, combine and process all this data rather than whine about how difficult and overwhelming the task is. We are no longer drowning in data. We know there’s magic in the data and we’re determined to get at it.

Four Critical Aspects of a Successful Client/Agency Relationship

Over the last 18 years of being a marketing professional (mainly on the agency side), I have experienced some amazing working relationships with clients. Not only did these great interactions build the clients’ businesses, but they also made the agencies better. A client/agency relationship is like a marriage in that each individual party flourishes when the connection between the two parties is healthy and strong.

Email Tactics for 2017

The beautiful thing about the email community is that we are constantly mailing, measuring, tweaking, and sharing results and insights. Here’s the latest thinking about effective and cost efficient email marketing.

Moving to the Big City

You need to trust your instincts too, whether it’s keeping in touch with a prospective employer over a lengthy period of time (in my case, it was about two years), or whether it’s cutting your losses in a job that’s either too limiting or without potential. Listen to that little voice inside your head as you travel on your career path, and you’ll be very glad that you did.

Surprising New Google Search Stats!

Searching on Google is a natural, almost automatic, reflex for almost everyone. Many people start every web session with a Google search. And while Google is a formidable marketing and moneymaking machine, with an 89.7% share of all US searches, they’ve been less than forthcoming with many of the metrics and dimensions of search behavior which could make us better, smarter marketers.

The Beauty of an Unpolished Brand

The inclination to disguise ourselves is more potent today than ever. Most of us build fake fortresses through social media by posting an unbelievably rosy picture of our daily life for the world to see, instead of revealing who we really are and the struggles we actually go through. We leave out the rough edges so friends, coworkers, or prospective employers can judge us more favorably. Admit it. We all do it.

An Accidental Career

Something really funny happened in my life in 1990: I fell into the advertising business. Advertising was not something that I had gone to college for, and it was certainly not a career that I had dreamed of since I was a child, as my wife had done with her career in interior design. Chris had known that she wanted to be an interior designer ever since she was a little girl.

How Influential are Influencers?

If we, or the agencies flogging influencer marketing, can figure out who the influentials are, brands hire them, co-opt them, and leverage their persuasive networks to spread the word with increased credibility at very modest costs. This has been a persistent fantasy since the first PR guy came on the scene. But how genuinely influential are influencers?

Writing to Scale: A ‘Pentatonic’ Approach to Better Copy

Like most writers, I enjoy my job. I look forward to the unpredictable nature of what kind of project may come in the door at any time. The challenge of starting from a blank page is always a great kick-start to my day, but I also like getting away from it.

AI: A Reality Check

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the new black, the shiny new object, the answer to every marketer’s prayers, and the end of creativity. The recent emergence of AI from the arcane halls of academia and the backrooms of data science has been prompted by stories of drones, robots, and driverless cars undertaken by tech giants like Amazon, Google, and Tesla. But the hype exceeds the day-to-day reality.

It’s Also Important to Know What Customers Don’t Want

Agencies and clients spend a lot of time and money trying to figure out what their current and prospective customers want. However, it’s just as important to invest in determining what customers don’t want. That way, brands can best deliver products and services that are most relevant to their target audience. So how would you go about figuring out what consumers don’t want?

The Power of Curiosity in Marketers

I read a great article recently, entitled “5 Must-Have Skills for Modern CMOs,” which stated that CMOs should be relentlessly curious. I tell my young daughters often that they should stay curious and keep asking questions, and I believe this concept definitely holds true for marketers as well. So whether you are a brand manager, a business owner, or an agency executive or creative, maintaining a healthy level of curiosity is imperative to being successful in your marketing endeavors.

The Humanity Behind Big Data

Big Data is about human relationships. If advertising is art in service of commerce, big data is math in service to relationships. The fundamental underlying concept is that the better you know someone, the more relevant, useful, and valuable the message and the connection can be. Data science exists to try to duplicate the collection, sorting, weighing, and application of information that drive friendships.

Trump Lessons for Brands

Love him or hate him, Donald Trump is an outstanding instinctive marketer. His campaign offers eight lessons in marketing and communications strategy; some troubling, others innovative.

Who ARE You Online? A 4-Step Guide to Managing Your Online Presence

I consider a company’s website to be its “online face” — and since first impressions are hugely important, your site better be a good one. It’s the same for people. Personally and professionally, today you often “meet” people online before you do so in person. Managing your online presence is a crucial thing that you HAVE to do — for friends, colleagues, future employers, and pretty much everyone else.

The Best Approach to Social Causes Advertising

Raising awareness about prescription drug abuse, domestic violence, homelessness, teenage drinking, and other types of social issues is the first step in changing people’s negative behavior. Advertising – a proven awareness-building technique – is being utilized increasingly to help social causes make a drastic impact on society. However, before you execute a social marketing campaign that’s designed to modify individuals’ actions in order to benefit society as a whole, there are a few key things to keep in mind.

Does Social Media Work?

As we embrace, understand, and utilize social media as a channel, we have to recognize that 12 years after Facebook came onto the scene, hype and wishful thinking are far ahead of the measurable reality. Social media adoption is a near-universal act of faith. But whether social media works to definitively deliver brand awareness, preference, sales, or loyalty is still up for debate, as is the role of social media in a 2016 marketing or media mix.

7 Unique Ways Your Business Can Use Social Media

Last week I had a terrible experience with a cable television service. They didn’t show up for the installation appointment, and were unable to set up a new appointment when I called to reschedule. So like any curious marketer would do, I tweeted about it just to see what kind of response I would get. The response I got surprised me.

Anecdotal Rage and Sentimentality: A Way Out of Hell For Brand Innovators (Um, That’s You)

Assuming a good portion of you were just checking your Facebook news feed (or are about to), I wonder if you’ve noticed something. So many posts and stories that attract anger, rage, and hundreds of comments…from stories that are anecdotal. And not statistical. Anecdotal stories that make people say “The world is going to hell” or “I’m sick of people who…” are increasingly taking over social media.

Social Media is All About Context

Politicians’ extensive use of social media starts with an understanding that there is a series of ongoing conversations that create ready-made audiences and contexts for their ideas, their points of view, and their rants. The take-away is that context is a springboard for social media creativity.

Why Press Release Format Still Matters

The other day I was perusing my RSS feed reader and came across quite a few articles on writing advice. Bloggers I trust and respect revealed tricks like “Start with short, choppy one-sentence paragraphs to draw readers in,” “Readers are hungry for longform content,” and “Always begin your article with a personal anecdote.” (Do you see what I’m doing here?) That’s all great writing advice…for a blogger.

Three Reasons to Stop Shoveling Dirt on the TV Medium

For anyone who tells you that old-fashioned advertising is dead, send this little retort. Nothing is dead. In fact, you know how far we’ve come in this business? We are right back at the beginning. With a twist. Isn’t it always that twist that grabs the consumer?

Living on the Edge of Failure

At one point in my life, I was asked why I was always in a highly stressful situation that included being short of money or there was always some kind of shitstorm in my life. Then, someone suggested the possibility that I was creating these extremely uncomfortable events on purpose. What I am going to suggest is: If a person is driven to success, they will always live on the edge of failure.

6 Tools for Managing Multiple Social Media Accounts

What is one of the main ingredients not to neglect when starting a website? If you answered social media, then you’re right. When it comes to networking online today those two words bring extreme power. Unfortunately, they can also bring exasperating chaos, largely due to disorganization and mismanagement.

The Big BOO! What Fears are Holding You Back?

‘Tis the season of ghosts and goblins — that special time of year that brings renditions of severed heads and mutilated faces, eyeballs and fingers without their bodies, werewolves, vampires, zombies, lunatics, and creepy dolls — striking fear in our hearts and our wallets (Americans spend $6.9 billion on Halloween each year).

Running Your Race

When you watch a professional presenter perform under pressure, it appears effortless. What you don’t see is what goes on before that performance, and the way the speaker uses those final few minutes before he or she begins to speak. I’ll tell you about my personal ritual, and how this might help you the next time you have to perform under pressure when you read…

Why Marketing Is So Difficult

Many of my friends and family members say that Esparza’s work is “magical.” What I mean by this is they think our creative ideas and advertising campaigns just appear by magic. We simply wave a wand and beautiful and strategic work just comes to life. If only it were that simple.

Prepare, Promote, Support: Without All Three, Are We Setting Up Our Newly Minted Female Creative Leaders to Fail?

I have been watching with a great deal of interest what has been happening in the industry of late. I’m talking specifically about the spate of women being promoted into leadership roles. It’s exciting. I think we all have General Mills CMO Ann Simonds to thank for it.

Inquiry as Influence: An Ancient Technology 2.0

The least used and one of the most productive tools for conversation is high-level questioning. But for a number of reasons, questioning has always gotten short shrift. Traditionally, asking questions is thought of as revealing your incompetence, which is then rewarded with a loss of influence. Even today, when the need ought to be obvious, few actually get questioning.

When It Comes To Presenting, Understanding Doesn’t Equal Remembering

A common misconception amongst presenters is that if they have an interesting message and deliver it clearly and confidently, their audience will not only understand it — they will remember and act on it. Not necessarily.

Ideas are a Dime a Dozen; What Will You Do With Yours?

The final key to ideas is making them happen, with speed and iteration. Stop perfecting them and get them started. The devil is indeed in the details, so start developing them — and be open to adapting as you learn. You're always better off starting and learning in the real world than waiting and trying to perfect what, in essence, is a hypothesis.

No One Likes a Know-It-All

“I don’t have a clue what you should do.” ​Here was our biggest client, a Fortune 500 juggernaut, and the first question they asked as the meeting started was, “So, what do you think we should do?” Our CEO said, “I don’t have a clue what you should do.”

The Enduring Allure of Premium Items

As the Fall convention and meeting season kicks off, this is the perfect time of the year to explain the enduring charms and appeal of the tchochkie — the premium item and to explain why the premium always beats the content offer.

Writing to Scale: A ‘Pentatonic’ Approach to Better Copy

Like most writers, I enjoy my job. I look forward to the unpredictable nature of what kind of project may come in the door at any time. The challenge of starting from a blank page is always a great kick-start to my day, but I also like getting away from it.

Instigating Innovation

Innovation is our highest aspiration and our most meaningless. Buzzword. The dictionary defines innovation as “a new idea, device, or method” or 
“the act or process of introducing new ideas, devices, or methods.” Nobody wants to be ancient, hidebound, or stuck in the mud. Everybody wants to be innovative.

Lost in Our Own Underwear

In this business, we get so caught up in our own underwear, many times we forget who the boss is. It’s not the client. It’s not the Chief Marketing Officer. It’s not the Creative Director, the Account Director, the President, or the CFO of the agency. It’s the consumer. And you better believe it.

Talent Zoo Wants YOUR Video Ideas!

Want to contribute to our funny, new WHAT NOT TO DO video series? To pitch us or learn more about this reader-submitted concept, email angel@talentzoo.com.

4 Things That Today’s Marketers Have To Be

I've been a lot of things in my career. A slightly-above-average copywriter. An assistant account executive (although technically, I was supposed to be promoted on the day I gave notice — so I feel like I deserve to say “account executive”). And most recently, a director of content marketing. But when you throw away the titles and just consider yourself an ad person/marketing person/whatever — when you take a look at who/what it is you really are and what you really do — it’s interesting to think about the roles you play and the skills you need to make it in our business.

The Six W's: The Questions a Writer Asks Before Writing

Thinking back to grade school, many of us remember the "Six W’s" that help in crafting a great story: Who, What, Where, Why, When, and How. When it comes to crafting compelling web content, these same six questions can serve as a framework to help guide the structure of the content you're producing. Each question translates as a key element to any effective piece of content and helps frame the “type” of article that's produced in the end.

Why Doing Good is Good for Business

Gordon Gekko, take a hike. Blake Mycoskie is here. Blake Mycoskie, the creator of TOM’S, just won the LionsHeart Award at Cannes for his brand…but he’s done much more than that.

Learning How to Say 'Thank You'

When was the last time someone complimented you, and how did you handle it? If you are like most people, you probably didn’t accept that compliment well. I think I cannot only tell you why that is, but also what we can do about it, when you read…

Master Your Internship, One Piece of Candy at a Time

My biggest piece of advice for the next batch of eager interns entering the fast-paced world of media is to realize that your internship is a privilege, so take advantage. Not everyone is so lucky to score an awesome opportunity, so don’t let this short time you have go to waste.

Everyone Needs an Ecommerce Strategy

For the first time ever, online shopping has surpassed in-store purchases according to a survey of 5000 shoppers conducted by UPS and Comscore. Shoppers made 51% of their purchases online. Forty-four percent of smartphone users purchased using their device. As you might imagine, millennial purchasing using smartphones outranked other age cohorts.

Social Media is All About Context

Politicians’ extensive use of social media starts with an understanding that there is a series of ongoing conversations that create ready-made audiences and contexts for their ideas, their points of view, and their rants. The take-away is that context is a springboard for social media creativity.

12 Tips to Help You Become a Talented Presenter: Part 9

As this series of presentation tips draws to a close, these final two gems will ensure that all of your focus, hard work, and creativity will make a memorable and lasting impact on your audience. There are only two more things you need to do now to become a highly talented presenter.

5 Ways to Use HARO for Major PR Wins

Raise your hand if you’d like to get your business mentioned in Fortune, Entrepreneur, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Yahoo, and other top-tier websites. I’m guessing everyone is raising their hand right now. What if I told you that you could subscribe to a free email list that sends you three emails every single weekday that are filled with requests from reporters who are looking for pitches from sources to use in their stories?

Game of Thrones: The Advertising Version

The Mathmen are challenging the Madmen for primacy and market share in advertising and marketing. A colossal battle, now shaping up, will determine the future of agencies and the future contours of the business. “Big data” isn’t just a marketing tactic, a buzzword, or a budding trend; it’s the rebel yell of the charging Mathmen. Take a look at the contenders.

The 50-Year Anniversary of Interactive Advertising. Wait. What?

The digital age did not give birth to interactive advertising, just as selfies did not introduce the world to handheld photography. How’s that for a head-slapper? Nope, that puppy (interactive advertising) was out of the litter long before Al Gore invented the Information Super Highway. Okay, so what’s the story?

12 Tips to Help You Become a Talented Presenter: Part 8

This series of presentation tips has been specifically designed to help you to present with authority, presence, and impact in any situation. We are heading towards the end of our journey together and I am conscious of the fact that the glue that holds all of these practical presentation skills tips together is confidence.

Maximizing Media Mix

Marketers are constantly tweaking and optimizing tactical plans, purchase orders, and cash flow models in the quest for the ultimate media mix. This necessitates constant monitoring of channels to enable nimble choices focused on audience dynamics or response, channel innovations, media synergies, and targeting strategy. Creating the right mix is a puzzle unique to each brand.

12 Tips to Help You Become a Talented Presenter: Part 7

We have all attended presentations where we wondered whether the speaker was ever going to get to the point and finish speaking. That’s the premise of our next piece of advice.

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Managing Multichannel Marketing

Multichannel marketers want the whole enchilada; a multi-channel, multi-dimensional, multi-faceted, efficiently budgeted marketing program wrapped up in an ROI-positive bow. Finding a way to synchronize target psycho-demographics with a detailed customer journey that integrates with a brand’s posture, positioning, content, and channel ecosystem and aligns with a comprehensive media budget executed using the latest and greatest technology in service to measurable business goals is the ultimate CMO fantasy.

12 Tips to Help You Become a Talented Presenter: Part 6

In Part 5 of this series of presentation skills tips designed to help you to become a highly talented presenter, in Tip 6, we said “Make it visual.” That article focused largely on the use of visual aids such as PowerPoint, Keynote, etc., which can add enormous value and impact to your presentation. We have, however, saved the most powerful visual aid for this article: You!

The Life and Death of a Lifestyle Brand

When a lifestyle brand is born, a core following finds an interesting point of difference that’s relevant to them. They identify with the brand on a personal level. This core following is small, but extremely passionate. They become instant advocates for the brand and evangelize the brand with honesty and fervor, bringing profound credibility to the brand.

12 Tips to Help You Become a Talented Presenter: Part 5

You’ve already given a great deal of thought to your content, so what about the visual elements of your presentation? PowerPoint and the use of other visual aids often prompt a little controversy in businesses today, but not because there is anything wrong with using them; it’s all down to their misuse.

5 Approaches to Peak Performance for Creatives

Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs, Gen. George S. Patton, Walt Disney, and many of the most creative people in the world are known to have had ADD or ADHD (AD/HD). Creativity is born of original thought…or is it? When we look at this short and random list of creative problem solvers, you might just think they had the good fortune of a great education. Perhaps it was great parenting or it could be luck…but it’s their AD/HD.

Up Your Game is Looking for Talented Editorial Writers!

Have 101 thoughts and opinions on marketing, advertising, PR, and digital media? Are you an industry expert? An industry idiot savante? Or just someone who just loves one of these industries and is constantly researching, brainstorming, and talking the game? If so, email angel@talentzoo. Let's see if the world agrees with you by running your articles on UP YOUR GAME or GUEST COLUMN.

12 Tips to Help You Become a Talented Presenter: Part 4

If you’ve been following us so far, you are already a third of the way into knowing exactly what it takes to be a talented presenter. You have a clear purpose, you understand your audience, you have a robust and compelling structure, and you now even have a high-impact opening. Now you are in your stride, and it’s time for the fireworks.

Mobilizing Influencers

Who has more consumer influence; your Uncle Bob, a favorite blogger, or Kim Kardashian? This is the word-of-mouth marketing question marketers keeping asking. The desire to gain access and influence by borrowing relationships and equity has become a cottage industry loosely called “influencer marketing.”

12 Tips to Help You Become a Talented Presenter: Part 3

If you’ve been following this series of presentation tips, you will now understand the purpose of your presentation and as much as you can about your audience. You will also be clear on how to structure the “noise.” Now it is time to focus on the all-important opening. After all, as Plato said, "the beginning is the most important part of the work."

Twitter at Ten

Twitter, the 140-character social media network, part news ticker, part party line, part celebrity cage match, and part message forwarding service, confounds as many brands on its tenth birthday as it did when it first sprang on the scene. Its skyrocketing awareness, intense exchanges, time sensitive use patterns, and regular intrusion into the global news cycle keep us guessing about if, how, or when to embrace Twitter as a commercial channel. With 350 million unique users a month, Twitter works like talk radio.

12 Tips to Help You Become a Talented Presenter: Part 2

Hopefully you’ve been able to read Part 1 of this series of articles designed to enhance your journey to become a talented presenter. If you did, you will know that the quest begins with a set of critical questions about your purpose and your audience. ​Once you are clear on both of those issues, it’s time to give some structure to the presentation whizzing around in your head. At the moment it probably feels like a theme park of noise in your mind.

12 Tips to Help You Become a Talented Presenter: Part 1

Many people believe that the ability to present an idea to an audience with confidence, clarity, and impact is a talent that the lucky few are simply born with. ​As a presentation skills coach, I’m here to shatter the illusion and state unequivocally that it is nothing more than a limiting myth.

Customer Experience Lessons from Chef David Bouley

David Bouley, owner of the popular restaurant Bouley, is arguably one of the greatest American chefs. He is also a god when it comes to designing a customer experience. Dining at his eponymous restaurant in the Tribeca neighborhood of Manhattan is a sensation for the palate and a practical lesson in how to consciously design an experience to surprise and delight.

Life is Short; Overtime is Long. Do Something Amazing Now

This might end up being more of a list. Or, it might be an actual article. Who knows? Let’s see. First. Indeed, life is so very short.

The 10 Commandments of Email

While the too-cool-for-school crowd considers email a dinosaur, it continues to be the most universally used, accepted, and effective channel for customer interaction, engagement, and commerce. To optimize email marketing, the workhorse digital channel, a brand must stand out from the crowd and direct desired action in seconds. Here are ten imperatives.

Why Nothing Is Harder Than Simple

This world of ours spins faster every day. Relative time, “living time,” is now sliced up into little pieces, and fragmented into shorter and shorter moments, due to a faster pace of life and the mind-boggling rate of the exchange of information. Everything is immediate now; there is no time-lapse in communication. It’s an always-on, 24/7 barrage of streaming information, and let's face it, even when we are off the grid, we have a mobile device at finger’s length. Noise is a communicator’s nightmare.

8 Landing Page Quick Fixes

Half of all the people clicking on your landing page bail out in seconds. Optimizing landing pages is the fastest, easiest, most cost-effective thing you can do to improve sales, lead generation, and customer engagement. The average landing page converts less than 10 percent of visitors, depending on content and offers. The objective is to instantly orient visitors and eliminate friction. Make it as easy and as intuitive as possible for visitors to do what you want them to do. A click onto your landing page is a gift from God with the half-life of a nuclear isotope. It begins degrading as soon as it’s granted. It’s the BEGINNING of the conversation, not the end.

5 Mobile Marketing Baby Steps

Surprisingly, more brands than you think have yet to get into mobile media or advertising. The prudent forward-looking professionally paranoid marketer will get started and get smarter about mobile media and marketing now. During the ascent phase prices are affordable. Content and merchant partners are flexible and open to experimentation. And so far, nobody, with the possible exception of Facebook, has a lock on a killer app, game-changing technology or critical market segments.

Speed Drives Mobile Engagement

In life, timing is everything. Timing – expressed as speed, intuitive content, and instant value or utility — are the critical variables for successfully engaging consumers on mobile devices. Research by Facebook, Twitter, and others document a different pace of information flow and information processing on mobile devices. Information flows to smartphones and tablets quickly and in discrete bytes. Three out of four people have their phones constantly with them. Users typically look at their phones 30+ times each day and quickly scroll through the latest messages.

Lessons in Presenting from Valentine's Day

In the U.S., as in many other parts of the world, Valentine’s Day is often celebrated with a romantic dinner, flowers, chocolates, or some other expression of just how much we care. Not everyone acknowledges February 14th with the same tenderness, but there is plenty to learn from those who make a real effort to make it special each year, even when it comes to presenting.

Three Ways to Avoid Suffering from Elephant Thinking

Let’s clarify some things before we expose another dirty little secret highlighting the shortcomings of the influence business. One thing to get straight is what elephant thinking is and what it is not. It is not a joke. It is not philosophical mumbo-jumbo highlighted by wind chimes and jasmine incense. Elephant thinking is a term that comes from the very real practice performed by circus trainers to train their elephants.

Engagement is a Bogus Metric

“Engagement” is used as a metric for online social and mobile media interactions. Although not uniformly defined, “engagement” seems to be an aggregate measure of a variety of interactions, including likes, comments, shares, and re-posts. It is a proxy for conversion in environments where goods and services aren’t directly sold.

What Do Great Marketing Campaigns Have In Common?

Over the past year at our agency, we have had the pleasure of working with some amazing clients and brands. The marketing campaigns we created included: prescription drug abuse prevention, image-building for a public utility, driving demand for naloxone, home healthcare, credit unions, a crisis hotline, college savings plans, health insurance, and more. Each of these brands required that we develop a customized marketing program. That is the beauty of working for an agency — no day is ever the same.

Top 10 Digital Marketing Trends of 2016

We now live in a world where digital has become the most important channel in people’s lives and is a central driver of our culture. New technologies are being invented, but just as important, existing technology is evolving to be more user-centric and dynamic than ever before, promoting instant gratification and relevance. All of these changes are an attempt to build an even tighter connection between what’s digital and human, proactively meeting user needs and blurring the lines between on- and offline experiences.

Who ARE You Online? A 4-Step Guide to Managing Your Online Presence

I consider a company’s website to be its “online face” — and since first impressions are hugely important, your site better be a good one. It’s the same for people. Personally and professionally, today you often “meet” people online before you do so in person. Managing your online presence is a crucial thing that you HAVE to do — for friends, colleagues, future employers, and pretty much everyone else.

8 Digital Sectors to Watch in 2016

Forecasting significant US marketing developments and how they will affect brands requires chutzpah. So, with a grain of salt, consider these eight predictions.

Aspire to Higher: Benchmarks for PR Pros in 2016

Much continues to be penned on the role of public relations and how the field has changed over the years. It is a subject of lively discussion as popular as “what came first, the chicken or the egg?” Everyone has an opinion on who is the lead dog in the race for hearts and minds in the reputation game in the 21st century. Is it PR, marketing, advertising, or some other function? And what does 2016 hold for the field and for public relations pros?

Does Social Media Work?

As we embrace, understand, and utilize social media as a channel, we have to recognize that 12 years after Facebook came onto the scene, hype and wishful thinking are far ahead of the measurable reality. Social media adoption is a near-universal act of faith. But whether social media works to definitively deliver brand awareness, preference, sales, or loyalty is still up for debate, as is the role of social media in a 2016 marketing or media mix.

Presidential Politics and Your Branding 2016: Liars and The Lies They Tell

Your brand is the savior of the world, or of its category or industry. Perhaps not perfect, but filled with integrity, character, plans, ideas, and more. Good-looking and speaks well. Now, do you really believe that? Or are you paid to sell that?

Key Issues for 2016

A new year means new budgets, new priorities, new alignments, and new worries. Here are four critical issues my clients are wrestling with for 2016.

Best of TZM: The 8 Pitfalls of International Marketing and How to Avoid Them

For many products and services, expansion into foreign markets can be a logical step in an overall growth strategy. But, with new opportunity comes new risk — and that should be managed. Any seasoned marketer understands how challenging it is to succeed domestically. Obviously, for brands that cross borders, that challenge is multiplied by every country served.

Best of TZM: Experience Is Your Comfort Zone

When someone requests your professional help, they are giving you permission and the power to ask for something in return. It is a magic moment. Mostly, we don’t like asking because it exposes us. Asking takes us out of our comfort zone. They might say no. And that might mean we don’t measure up or they don't need us. So we don’t ask. It makes us vulnerable to that basic fear that we’re just not worthy. It takes a lot of confidence to ask.

Every Presentation Could Be Like Christmas

Christmas conjures up an image of glamor, gifts, and goodwill; yet sadly, many presentations today offer a monologue of monotony. It doesn’t have to be that way, for either you as the speaker or your audience.

5 Lessons From Black Friday & Cyber Monday

The Black Friday and Cyber Monday email marketing frenzy came and went with a furious sales velocity, estimated to be between $8–11 billion. In its wake are new insights into consumers’ shopping behavior and channel preferences. The big news was the shift of significant dollars — estimates range as high as billions — from offline retail to online channels.

On Cursing!!!

​If you are in a marketing role and you condone cursing as part of your brand positioning or messaging strategy, you’re making an egregious mistake. All the passion and relevance you think you are adding are being Trumped (yes) by off-brand messaging. If cursing is not part of your brand and you are cursing, you are distracting me from the core message.

Five Short Reads That Will Make You a Better Marketer

If you are still early in your marketing career, you may want to take a similar approach. Formal education is becoming less important as the rate at which technology changes increases. The information you need is all available online for free, and it’s just a Google search away. If you invest the time in yourself with the intent of learning a new skill (you can live without Facebook for a few hours), you can quickly differentiate yourself in a sea of marketing generalists who are largely interchangeable. Instead, make yourself indispensable.

Three Reasons to Stop Shoveling Dirt on the TV Medium

For anyone who tells you that old-fashioned advertising is dead, send this little retort. Nothing is dead. In fact, you know how far we’ve come in this business? We are right back at the beginning. With a twist. Isn’t it always that twist that grabs the consumer?

Anecdotal Rage and Sentimentality: A Way Out of Hell For Brand Innovators (Um, That’s You)

Assuming a good portion of you were just checking your Facebook news feed (or are about to), I wonder if you’ve noticed something. So many posts and stories that attract anger, rage, and hundreds of comments…from stories that are anecdotal. And not statistical. Anecdotal stories that make people say “The world is going to hell” or “I’m sick of people who…” are increasingly taking over social media.

4 Ways to Boost Email Marketing Campaigns

The beautiful thing about email marketers is that they measure everything and frequently share their data. Recently, MailerMailer analyzed 1.1 billion emails from 56,000 campaigns run during 2014 in 33 industries. Here’s my interpretation of their results in four observations.

What About Love?

“I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” —Steve Jobs

#OHWOW not #BOOM: 5 Ways to Grow Through Gratitude

When I was in college I was still living at home. My best friend brought his girlfriend by the house and my mom, upon meeting her, quickly ran to the garden and cut her a fresh rose. Upon receipt of the gift, the young lady asked my mom, “What do you want from me?” She had grown up in a house where everything was a quid pro quo; had we not understood that fact, we probably would have been even more shocked by the reaction.

Relationship Marketing: Hits and Misses

I have more relationships than I can handle. I do a so-so job, managing up, down, and sideways at the office. I do a little better with my gorgeous wife. I struggle to manage relationships with dog-walkers, doormen, dry cleaners, tech guys, cab drivers, next-door neighbors, visiting cousins, finance guys, college pals, and professional peers. But I am maxxed out.

Speed Up, Calm Down. Please.

Have an enduring meaning in the center of any flurry of social media. There are a million ways to say “I love you” in this life or “we save you money” in any market. Have a foundation of something significant in the brand, then put the pedal to the metal and put the messages out there. Foooom! Or maybe… Calm…way the heck…down.

Making Reddit Work for Marketers

Reddit is a strange and funny corner of the Internet where — in theory — content marketing should reign supreme. With almost 8 billion page views per month, why wouldn't a website devoted specifically to sharing content be the perfect place to promote your brand? Well, as it turns out, it can be a little dicey. Redditors are a choosy, cynical bunch, and they have no patience for promotional advertising. If they sniff out a marketing ploy, your content is sure to sink to the bottom.

Strategies for Repurposing Content

After investing hours and hours into researching, drafting, and editing an article, it's a shame to let it simply drift off into the World Wide Wayside. Aside from reposting that same article across multiple social media platforms or external publishing platforms, how else can one extend the value of original content?

4 Ways to Get SMS to Work for Your Brand

SMS is becoming a commercial channel for brands. Consumers’ widespread use of text messaging is making room for select brands to communicate directly with those who opt in. As 80 percent of U.S. online adults use smartphones, these wireless devices, in the words of Facebook’s Margaret Gould Stewart, “have assumed a central position in everyday life … as hyper-personalized, multipurpose power tools …right inside our pockets.”

Living on the Edge of Failure

At one point in my life, I was asked why I was always in a highly stressful situation that included being short of money or there was always some kind of shitstorm in my life. Then, someone suggested the possibility that I was creating these extremely uncomfortable events on purpose. What I am going to suggest is: If a person is driven to success, they will always live on the edge of failure.

How Customers' Needs Guide Mobile App Strategy

Mobile app use has grown 90 percent in the last two years, creating a stratification and hierarchy of apps, which can be sorted into four tiers. By understanding how the three million available apps are used, marketers can make more realistic assessments of future app functionality and uptake.

Why Marketing Must Be Driven By Data

“So, how’s our marketing doing?” asked nearly every senior manager ever. And it’s a valid question. With the money poured into marketing — some $540 billion in 2015 — marketers need to provide meaningful insights to their executive teams. The days of “…the East Coast Sales Team loved our new flyer” are long gone.

One Word: 'Amplification'

Ladies and Gentlemen, Jimi Hendrix: The ultimate model for content marketers. Huh? Yep, and here’s an explanation of why, courtesy of Jonathan Schwartz, the legendary radio personality and master of encyclopedic musical knowledge.

Don’t Forget to Be a Lifelong Student

When life takes the backseat and we spend more time in transit than preparing a meal, we often forget how important it is to continuously invent self, evolve, and stay ahead of trends. We often forget how to keep learning and adopting new skills; how to form educated opinions, backed by research and facts. And, most importantly, we forget how to breathe.

The Beauty of an Unpolished Brand

The inclination to disguise ourselves is more potent today than ever. Most of us build fake fortresses through social media by posting an unbelievably rosy picture of our daily life for the world to see, instead of revealing who we really are and the struggles we actually go through. We leave out the rough edges so friends, coworkers, or prospective employers can judge us more favorably. Admit it. We all do it.

What Does a Digital Marketing Strategist Do That a Marketing Strategist Can't?

Even though I run a digital marketing agency, I have a love/hate relationship with placing the word “digital” in front of everything we do. The reason for this incongruity was best expressed by Claire Knapp in her eloquent post titled “There is no such thing as digital marketing. There is only marketing.”

What Is Your Brand’s 'One Thing'?

If you had to pick one thing for your brand to be known for, what would it be? You can’t say quality, customer service, or value. Those terms don’t mean anything to the consumer, because those are the basic expectations of any business. However, discovering this one thing is imperative if you want to differentiate yourself from the competition — especially if your brand is in a commoditized industry.

The Answer to Ad-Blockers?

The bottom line is that publishers have to compete with ad-blockers for customer attention. If ad-supported content is deemed useful and valuable, the number of people blocking ads will level off at marginal levels. On the other hand, if the content isn’t worth the interruption, massive numbers of Americans will block ads.

The Six W's: The Questions a Writer Asks Before Writing

Thinking back to grade school, many of us remember the "Six W’s" that help in crafting a great story: Who, What, Where, Why, When, and How. When it comes to crafting compelling web content, these same six questions can serve as a framework to help guide the structure of the content you're producing. Each question translates as a key element to any effective piece of content and helps frame the “type” of article that's produced in the end.

When It Comes To Presenting, Understanding Doesn’t Equal Remembering

A common misconception amongst presenters is that if they have an interesting message and deliver it clearly and confidently, their audience will not only understand it — they will remember and act on it. Not necessarily.

The Evolution of Data Science in Marketing

The commercial use of data is simultaneously creepy and useful. Studies have shown that the vast majority of Americans will trade off private data for utility or value. As data sets automatically talk to each other, this trade-off will be perceived as less scary and more useful. We are used to being pinged, cued, and prompted based on observed or volunteered data. But the science of data isn’t quite that easy. Mobilizing data science in service to brand growth faces these five immediate challenges.

Digital Infographics, Video, and the Value of Visual Content

Content. It’s the magic word for digital marketers, but you already knew that. What you may not have known is that the form of your content has a direct impact on how the digital world sees (and evaluates) you. And visualizing your content is increasingly important, as shown by its use both by B2B and B2C marketers.

No One Likes a Know-It-All

“I don’t have a clue what you should do.” ​Here was our biggest client, a Fortune 500 juggernaut, and the first question they asked as the meeting started was, “So, what do you think we should do?” Our CEO said, “I don’t have a clue what you should do.”

Jerry Lewis’ Social Media Marketing Lessons

Along with the French, I love Jerry Lewis. And I miss him. And I’m still curious about his sudden, abrupt split from MDA. But aside from the gossip stuff, Jerry was the original social media marketer whose 44-year run has a lot to teach us.

Learning How to Say 'Thank You'

When was the last time someone complimented you, and how did you handle it? If you are like most people, you probably didn’t accept that compliment well. I think I cannot only tell you why that is, but also what we can do about it, when you read…

Presenting Is Like Kissing: Part 2

If you’re like me and remember that first kiss, you’ll probably also remember that the lead up to it carries some resemblance to the way you may feel in preparing for your first or an important presentation. If I had been able to Google these suggestions decades ago, both would have been much easier for me.

Presenting Is Like Kissing: Part 1

I wish Google were around over 35 years ago when I really needed it; if you search the question “How to have your first kiss?” on it today you’ll be greeted by over 62M results. ​I also wish it was there for me 30 years ago when I was equally dumb and nervous about how to give my first presentation. Incidentally, if you type in “how to give your first presentation” you’ll be met with twice as many articles offering advice.

All Brands Want to ‘Surprise and Delight’

“Many brands are making this customer service tactic, commonly called ‘surprise and delight,’ far less random, and in some cases it's the driving force behind multimillion-dollar marketing campaigns,” reports Ad Age, citing MasterCard and Bud Light as leading examples. So just what’s happening in the emerging world of surprise and delight? A quick scan of recent news headlines can provide an overview of today’s ubiquitous marketing mantra.

Master Your Internship, One Piece of Candy at a Time

My biggest piece of advice for the next batch of eager interns entering the fast-paced world of media is to realize that your internship is a privilege, so take advantage. Not everyone is so lucky to score an awesome opportunity, so don’t let this short time you have go to waste.

Marketing Sea Changes

Changes in many of our core marketing assumptions struck me like a thunderbolt during our interns’ final project presentations. Digital natives have quietly upended our baseline assumptions about marketing and American consumers. Here are the key elements of the new thinking.

Loyalty Runs on Love and Money

In an oversaturated, over-messaged, fast-moving, highly competitive omni-channel marketplace, building a loyal customer base of people who buy regularly and advocate for their favorite brands is an imperative. Acquiring, retaining, mobilizing, motivating, and incenting loyalty over time is a question of love and money.

Get Millennials' Attention with 3 Kinds of Content

If you’re not a millennial, you probably have a mental image of how we behave — we can’t put our phones down, we can’t pay attention to anything for more than a few seconds, we aren’t following the traditional 9–5 workday, and we can be kind of difficult. It’s all true.

Building the Next Killer App

If you can finesse the technical, data, and political issues, you will enable your brand to directly message consumers, craft alerts, publish geo-centric or personalized push notifications, gather immediate feedback and input, collect consumer data, enable couponing or commerce, and have an always-on connection to customers. The key to success is knowing your customer base, leveraging your existing technology infrastructure, and planning for consumers’ next moves.

Elevating the Visual Impact of Your Brand

Building a visually powerful brand should be one of the key business objectives of any company, whether a startup or one with a long history. Why? Because your brand touches and impacts every aspect of your business, from attracting and retaining customers and generating revenue to distinguishing you from your competitors. ​We’d like to share with you what we’ve learned in the past year about our company and our brand.

Using Celebrities to Drive Traffic is Nothing New

So you think that celebrity endorsers are the answer to all your brand awareness and loyalty needs? Well, the answer can be an unqualified yes or a resounding no. It all depends on the character of the celebrities and the quality of the brand/endorser relationship.

Create Your Visual Brand in 8 Steps

Our industry, point of purchase display, is archaic. If you look through various websites within the industry, you will find sites that look old fashioned and are all very similar. There are no real differentiators or “wow factors” between the sites, other than the logos. For the past four months, we have been redesigning our website to stand out amongst the competition while creating a more visual brand.

Getting Smart About Creativity

When you’re getting advice about creativity or reading one of the many books about the subject, you need to be careful — very careful — because many, if not most, perpetuate our highly Western, misleading, and individualist cultural ways. That typically means that we’re going to have to go digging into our own mindset and belief system to revise and reframe these wrongheaded beliefs if we want to really understand creativity and innovation.

Trust Issues: Can Clients, Employers, and Coworkers Trust You?

“As long as you work for me, don’t you ever hold your tongue when you know that what is being said isn’t accurate or true,” my new CEO said to me across the conference table during the meeting, his eyes locking with mine. The room seemed very small as everyone looked at me, the junior copywriter, as he continued, “I hired you because of your creativity and because you see things differently. Speak up. Don’t let them go down the wrong path.”

Writer’s Block is For Amateurs

If you work in advertising as a copywriter or art director, or you aspire to a career as one, a word of caution: You cannot afford writer’s block. (For the purposes of this article, I define “writer’s block” as any impediment to creating an idea. It’s not just for writers.) ​In my nearly 30 years in the business, first as a copywriter, then as a creative director, I never experienced this phenomenon. Never.

How to Market Published Content

Your public relations agency succeeded in getting your bylined column published and you’re thrilled to see your content live in an influential industry publication. But how do you maximize your investment in time and treasure after publication?

Six Critical Steps in Marketing in Highly Regulated Industries

Due to the intense rules and regulations associated with marketing in certain industries (financial, health care, energy, and others), it can be difficult to develop campaigns that allow brands to distinguish themselves from the competition. That said, there are principles that brands can implement to ensure their marketing planning process is strategic and communication tactics are differentiating and will ultimately drive business.

Direct Mail Isn't Dead...Yet!

Direct mail isn’t dead. It’s dormant. Eclipsed by cheaper, faster, ubiquitous email, direct mail is generally perceived as the dinosaur of marketing tactics — though don’t tell that to financial services, telco, publishing or B2B marketers.

The 8 Pitfalls of International Marketing and How to Avoid Them

For many products and services, expansion into foreign markets can be a logical step in an overall growth strategy. But, with new opportunity comes new risk — and that should be managed. Any seasoned marketer understands how challenging it is to succeed domestically. Obviously, for brands that cross borders, that challenge is multiplied by every country served.

5 Ways to Improve Email Impact

Researchers from Yahoo Labs and the USC Information Sciences Institute analyzed 16 billion emails exchanged on Yahoo Mail among and between 2 million anonymous people in an attempt to understand what drives response and what prolongs or dissolves email conversations. Their April 2015 report, titled “Evolution of Conversations in the Age of Email Overload”, is our first broad peek into how email conversations really play out.

Why Your Business Has to Embrace Mobile Marketing

If you’re not mobile, you’re standing still or falling behind. That’s the clear implication. Either you’re embracing increased consumer mobility and the continuing evolution of mobile devices or you’re roadkill on the information superhighway.

Developing an Omnichannel Creative Strategy

​The search for a new storytelling paradigm is part of the evolution of advertising from an awareness medium to an engagement medium. As channels and devices proliferate and classic brand loyalty ebbs, it’s harder and harder to find, reach, motivate, and persuade people. Add mobility and the functionality to connect and share in real time across geographies and you find your target audience infinitely more elusive.

The Foolproof Way to Present Your Business Case

Today, the need to articulate with absolute clarity the rationale, benefits, cost, and impact of any initiative is as critical as it has ever been. Many professionals present their business case using reams of data-rich slides that serve the purpose of demonstrating just how hard the project sponsor has worked on the initiative but do little to inspire the decision makers to say “yes.”

How to Slay the Dragon

A few years back, a teacher of mine once told me, “It's not your job to be great.” He went on to explain that your real job as a creative is to keep yourself out there...available. The rest will come as a result of hard work, talent, and luck.

How to Improve Your Small Business's Online Brand

If you've recently started a small business, whether it's service-oriented, a web-based e-commerce venture, or a traditional brick-and-mortar establishment, today's business landscape dictates that managing your online brand is a necessity. Because of its tremendous reach and potential to convert sales, your online reputation trumps whatever standing you may have in your local community.

Experience Is Your Comfort Zone

When someone requests your professional help, they are giving you permission and the power to ask for something in return. It is a magic moment. Mostly, we don’t like asking because it exposes us. Asking takes us out of our comfort zone. They might say no. And that might mean we don’t measure up or they don't need us. So we don’t ask. It makes us vulnerable to that basic fear that we’re just not worthy. It takes a lot of confidence to ask.

Adapting to Our On-Demand Culture

​On-demand is the new normal. It’s not going away. In fact, the pressure to deliver more and more things on demand will grow exponentially as bandwidth and technology become faster, more universal, and sophisticated. Brands that don’t recognize this fundamental attitudinal shift and address it directly will be left in the dust.

We've Made a Mess of Advertising and We're Leaving It for You to Fix

Yeah, we “screwed up advertising pretty good,” but I wrote this because I honestly believe the mistakes of the past can be corrected. I have hope that things can get better. It is going to take a lot of hard work and passion to shift how we inside the industry view what we do, and ourselves, but it has to happen.

Start-Ups: Don't Forget About Marketing

Establishing the three marketing foundations listed above is crucial to starting and running a successful business. Most owners probably don’t have the time and/or expertise to strategically develop each of these items. This is why it’s necessary for start-ups to hire a marketing consultant (or internal director) or marketing firm during the early business-planning stages.

The Perfect Content Marketing Opportunity: 'Write for Us'

In a recent post I offered to arrange to have a column written by my LinkedIn contacts published in a reputable publication – for free. But it seems the once-magic word “free” has lost its luster, or perhaps my Linkies are too famous and busy to bother to enhance their thought-leadership status with a free sample of content marketing.

How To Take Advantage of Your Personal Vulnerabilities

You blush. Confused and discombobulated. Embarrassed. You’re found out. But you know the rule in business: Don’t let anyone know what you don’t know. Keep up a good front. Don’t trap yourself and have to admit ignorance. Never, never open up and admit to personal vulnerability on any business subject.

How to 'Wow' Your Boss

Your boss can either help or hinder your career: wowing her/him will help your career. With an effective relationship, your boss can give you all kinds of support, insight, and linking to others in the organization.

Creating Powerful Promotions for Your Brand

Social and mobile media have changed the expectations about and the mechanics of consumer promotions. Sixty-five percent of promotions and component games are played out on mobile devices. Increasingly, brands are experimenting with promotions limited by geography, gated by game play, or influenced by other fluid eligibility requirements.

On-Site Freelance: One Part Skill, Two Parts Hustle

Regardless of how you got the gig or what the company told you their reasons for needing a freelancer were, there is often a backstory that was conveniently not mentioned. Are you covering the workload of someone twice your senior? Did they just fire someone? Are they defending a key account? Is the agency using freelancers on a revolving door basis to keep health-care costs down? As a pure freelancer, as long as they pay you on time, the reasons don’t matter much.

Four Critical Aspects of a Successful Client/Agency Relationship

Over the last 18 years of being a marketing professional (mainly on the agency side), I have experienced some amazing working relationships with clients. Not only did these great interactions build the clients’ businesses, but they also made the agencies better. A client/agency relationship is like a marriage in that each individual party flourishes when the connection between the two parties is healthy and strong.

Is It Time to Flip the Agency Model?

“I hope I have to pay you a fortune.” A client texted me this message recently in reaction to a campaign proposal. This client is participating in a pilot project my agency started last year. We wanted to see what would happen if we flipped the traditional agency business model. In recent months, that question has been answered several times over with reactions similar to his.

Learning from Losing Clients

A client called last Sunday...a client of three years who never calls on the weekend. That didn’t bode well, and it wasn’t good news. Everything was going well. Probably too well, as the call demonstrated.

For a Successful Marketing Career, Think Different

Data analysis and creative vision have traditionally been viewed as separate, even opposing, skills. Yet, in today’s increasingly programmatic advertising world, the two are not mutually exclusive. Our data-driven media culture now requires both capabilities — not only under the same roof, but in the same brain.

Social Media: Where Oversharing Is Not Caring

The social media overshare is one of the most annoying features of the Internet. You’re often surrounded by people who publicly flaunt their opinions and observations through digital means. Not long ago, the only place to share this kind of information was in person or by email. However, the emergence of social-media sites like Twitter and Facebook has provided people with a convenient forum in which to check up with friends.

Marketing: 'It's Not About You'

We have a few mantras at our marketing firm. One in particular seems to come up over and over again with our clients: “It’s not about us. It’s about them.” We say this to remind everyone that our advertising efforts and other marketing tactics are designed to resonate with our target and it doesn’t matter if we like the ideas or not. I’m sure you’ve encountered situations like these before.

How to Influence People, Easily

With change comes the unknown. Without change comes little to no improvement in our professional and personal lives. Most of us do not make changes because it’s not easy. When the changes you want to make are a must for you, you will fight tooth and nail to make it happen. How important is it to you to influence others through your communication?

A Message To Marketing Hopefuls (Who Don't Believe Things Can Ever Change)

You're looking for a job, any job, in marketing, branding, advertising, social media — whatever. You'll work anywhere. You'll work on anything.

Is SMART Really Smart Enough?

2015 calendars hit the stores months ago. Have you started to work on your New Year’s Resolutions yet? For many of us, this has become an annual ritual, but by March, we're back to our old ways. Don't let that be you! There are still more than nine months left in the year, so what’s the best way to achieve your 2015 goals? Most experts agree it’s about making them “SMART.” That is, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.

7 Unique Ways Your Business Can Use Social Media

Last week I had a terrible experience with a cable television service. They didn’t show up for the installation appointment, and were unable to set up a new appointment when I called to reschedule. So like any curious marketer would do, I tweeted about it just to see what kind of response I would get. The response I got surprised me.

Paying for Blog Posts? Google Knows

Guest blogging has been present for almost as long as search engines. It’s a tried-and-true method for marketers to gain exposure, build relationships, and create strong brand identities online. So when the head of Google’s spam team, Matt Cutts, declared guest blogging dead in a personal blog post (noted above) last January, it sent ripples across the blogosphere and marketing/SEO world.

Marketing in 2015

March is upon us but the year is still young. There are new budgets, new priorities, new alignments, and new worries still to adjust to. Here are the top four critical issues my clients are working on for 2015.

Brands Shouldn’t Only Bring Their 'A' Game to the Big Game

With the recent buzz around Super Bowl ads, a few questions came to mind. “Why do these advertisers only put forth their best efforts for this one-time event? What is it that makes these efforts their best? Why aren’t they working this hard to create great marketing all of the time?”

5 Steps to Reaching a Highly Targeted Market with Facebook Ads

Imagine that you run a tiny, relatively unknown shoe store located in a tiny, relatively unknown corner of your city. About a couple of blocks away, an office worker named Anna breaks her heels while running in the middle of the road. Anna curses under her breath, because she has no spare shoes, is 30 minutes late for work, and it'll be the third time that week she'll get told off for tardiness.

The Theory of Confidence

These days the popular brands spend a lot of time trying to sound more human. Conversely, industry people strengthen their “self-brand” by trying to sound more like corporations. Between these two we find the robots.

Write Contracts, Not Proposals

Did you know that it’s possible to skip the proposal? Well, it is. When a prospect responds positively and contacts you, they’ll expect you to tell them how you can help. And in doing so you’ll be summarizing what could be a “proposal,” but by doing it verbally you skip the written proposal process entirely and just follow up with a contract.

How to Safely Incorporate Keywords Into Your Press Releases

As a press release writer, you do still need to be aware of keywords, but in a way, Google Panda has actually made your job easier. Now, instead of trying to torture a press release into a format a machine will read, you should just focus on writing your best, most interesting press releases and trust search engines to catch your drift.

Does Building a Network Make You Feel Dirty?

Although most of us believe that networking is a necessity for both our personal lives and our careers, it sometimes has negative connotations. It “conjures up images of back-slapping, forced smiles, awkward conversations or brown-nosing.” Because of that, many people shy away from the process — often to their loss.

Your Creativity is Not Defined by the Medium You Work In

There’s a school of thought among some advertising professionals and clients that it takes a specific type of creative person to create great advertising for a specific medium; i.e., it takes a great print writer to write long copy or it takes a digital writer to write great digital or... That’s pure crap.

The Power of Curiosity in Marketers

I read a great article recently, entitled “5 Must-Have Skills for Modern CMOs,” which stated that CMOs should be relentlessly curious. I tell my young daughters often that they should stay curious and keep asking questions, and I believe this concept definitely holds true for marketers as well. So whether you are a brand manager, a business owner, or an agency executive or creative, maintaining a healthy level of curiosity is imperative to being successful in your marketing endeavors.

Email Resolutions for 2015

Happy New Year! Even though we are well into January, I still think it’s an appropriate salutation! If you didn’t start January with a list of resolutions — things you’ve pledged to do — then I bet you know someone who did. Instead of developing a list of behaviors you plan to change, how about a list of things you don't want to do? To that end, I give you a “Resolve Not To Do” List.

Get Fired, at Least Once

They say you aren’t really a marketer until you’ve been fired at least once. It doesn’t matter whether they eliminate your job or fire you for messing up. The feelings and the process are virtually the same.

Brands Need Meaning, Know What I Mean?

Citizens United and the Supreme Court said that corporations are legally "people" in the USA. Ad agencies everywhere say they want to make brands "more human." Okay then. Let's. Let's be human. All the way. So, for brands, marketers, what does being human mean? Let's begin with you, human being.

Snap It, But Make it Professional!

You’re a confident businessperson, or a job seeker. So why do you have a grainy, years-old, amateur photo of yourself on your website? If you’re serious about connecting with clients and want to show the world you mean business, invest in a professional photo portrait. People who want to do business with you will appreciate seeing what you look like.

I’m a Geek, You’re a Geek, Let’s Be Geeks Together

My hypothesis is that, in our own way, we are all geeks. Some of us just haven’t learned to embrace it. With that, I challenge you to embrace your inner geek. Raise your geek flag and fly it high, because we need all kinds of geeks in this world. Our future depends on it.

Why Press Release Format Still Matters

The other day I was perusing my RSS feed reader and came across quite a few articles on writing advice. Bloggers I trust and respect revealed tricks like “Start with short, choppy one-sentence paragraphs to draw readers in,” “Readers are hungry for longform content,” and “Always begin your article with a personal anecdote.” (Do you see what I’m doing here?) That’s all great writing advice…for a blogger.

Cashing In on New Year's Resolutions

The first few months of the year can be a struggle for business owners. After multiple holiday shopping binges, many consumers buckle down in the following months, and their tightening belts tend to reflect in your post-holiday sales numbers. Don't let January sales get your business off track in 2015.

Why Experiential Marketing?

Experiential marketing initiatives can be designed by B2C or B2B brands to meet a variety of business objectives. Generating awareness (or sales, or leads), recruiting new talent, engaging with customers, launching a product or company, showing appreciation to shareholders or staff, creating content for social media, and/or getting press coverage are just some of the successful outcomes physical brand experiences can produce for your organization.

Best of TZM: 6 Reasons Generalists are More Important Than Specialists

I’m good at a lot of things, but I’m not expert at any. And that probably sounds like a bad thing in today’s day and age. More and more, the business world seems to be ruled by expertise. Subject-matter experts. Vertical specialists. Domain authorities. Companies wage wars for sought-after technical mavens and so-called gurus. To advance in one’s career these days, one should naturally specialize. The days of the generalist are over, right?

Create Content, Not Blog Posts

In-depth content (a.k.a bylined columns) provides marketers greater value in terms of thought leadership development and lead generation than does routine blog posting. Championing in-depth content as a marketing tool may appear to fly in the face of web usability guidelines — short, sweet, and simple — but elite expert blogs are the exception to the rule. Rather than striving to impress a vast audience, one should focus on the 10% that want, need, and deserve your offering.

Fear Rules in Negotiations

The instructor placed the trapeze rope in my right hand. “God, it’s weighted. Of course; that’s why they swing so well,” I thought as I felt it pulling me off the platform. Only her firm grip kept me from spinning into space. Feeling the full impact of fear, I said, “I can’t do this, I’m going back down the ladder."

11 Career Enhancing Behaviors, Starting with Gratitude!

A career in advertising, media and marketing is an exercise in making strategic choices and adapting to a constantly changing universe of ideas and technology. Here are eleven fundamental attitudes and behaviors to help you to zig and zag to success.

Ideas are a Dime a Dozen; What Will You Do With Yours?

The final key to ideas is making them happen, with speed and iteration. Stop perfecting them and get them started. The devil is indeed in the details, so start developing them — and be open to adapting as you learn. You're always better off starting and learning in the real world than waiting and trying to perfect what, in essence, is a hypothesis.

Start Freelancing, Now

This is the story of how my uncle's sudden death pushed me to pursue my dreams of freelancing and truly stand on my own two feet. It was a rainy February morning when I got the call. The funeral was the following weekend and though I was not close to my uncle the stories that were told at his funeral touched me deeply. He was a master mechanic, and towards the end of his life volunteered by helping fix bicycles for the homeless.

The Four Fs in Resolving Brand Mistakes

Since brands (and businesses) are composed of imperfect people, brands occasionally make mistakes. Good brands don’t make a lot of mistakes. Great brands recover quickly from the mistakes they do make. Whether a brand instigates a life-threatening problem (think poisoned Tylenol) or brings you the wrong dinner order, the resolution process should include four main principles.

Converting PR Disasters into Re-Branding Opportunities

In an age when social media faux pas and corporate missteps are magnified to the 10th power, you must learn how to turn a PR disaster into an image upgrade. Do you remember the BP oil disaster off the Gulf coast? Of course you do, but how do you remember it? I bet the details of the event are a simplified retrospective version that has blurred the specifics.

Underemployment for the Underprepared

Today’s employers want to hire people who can hit the ground running. Yet, many undergraduates who land their first job are underprepared. Their degree has primed them for how to think, but not necessarily for how to do. They end up flailing because they aren’t equipped with the practical knowledge and usable skills necessary to do the job they are hired to do. This is especially true in the world of modern marketing.

Client Expectations: How PR Can Manage…

Charles Dickens’ famous opening to A Tale of Two Cities provides a fitting summation of the state of public relations today, where much time and treasure is invested in winning new business — from prospecting through gratis programs and budget development to the creation of a campaign timeline and agreement on analytic metrics. Unfortunately, a PR practitioner’s hard work can quickly be undone should the agency fail to effectively manage the new client's expectations.

The Big BOO! What Fears are Holding You Back?

‘Tis the season of ghosts and goblins — that special time of year that brings renditions of severed heads and mutilated faces, eyeballs and fingers without their bodies, werewolves, vampires, zombies, lunatics, and creepy dolls — striking fear in our hearts and our wallets (Americans spend $6.9 billion on Halloween each year).

Evolution of a Content Strategist

Content strategy is a paradox. Every brand needs to figure out its content play. But there is already more existing content than anyone can ever consume. In an environment boasting millions of tips, tricks, and hacks, billions of reviews, how-tos, and infographics, trillions of recipes, diets, or exercise routines, and zillions of videos on every conceivable topic, savvy marketers want to know what content is the strongest lure, how much content is enough, which combination of content is the most potent, and which content converts browsers into buyers fastest.

20 Ways to be More Creative in Your Job

Creativity is a key feature for some jobs, but it's useful in practically all professions. Being creative isn't just something you're born with — there are lots of ways to train your creativity and achieve better results at your work. Here are the top 20 ways that will help you to be more creative in your job.

Brevity in Writing: Boxers or Briefs?

Effective writing, regardless of the length, utilizes the concept of brevity. A well-written, 300-page novel may actually be brief. The author just needs 300 pages to tell the story accurately. The excessive version might have been 500 pages. Brevity isn’t confined to word count or page length; it’s a writing skill that determines what information is crucial and what unnecessary details should be omitted. A lengthy piece of writing does not necessarily mean that it is better or more profound.

Would You Marry Someone Based on an RFP Process?

Our agency recently responded to a lengthy request for proposal (RFP). Of course, this wasn’t the first time we answered an RFP, but it got me thinking (once again) how strange this process for finding an agency is. For a brand or business, choosing the right marketing partner is an important decision and leaving it up to a written Q & A process (with little to no contact with the prospect) and possibly one presentation is risky. Would you marry someone with whom you just had a written conversation and one date?

All You Need to Know About Freelancing Etiquette, You Learned in Kindergarten

“Don’t hit people” is one of the first rules you learn in kindergarten. It applies, literally and metaphorically, to adult life as well. I recently had a dispute with a vendor over a bill because of some items that weren’t delivered. Instead of taking care of the problem, the vendor “hit me.” He replied with a nasty email that his company didn’t carry those items any longer. No refund of money. No apology. Nothing but an unprofessional email.

Hey, It's Just a Number

I’m frustrated by the people that feel influence is a system that can be gamed or faked. All too often I see people who want to learn how to inflate their social media numbers or the amount of social recognition they receive without really thinking about why they want it. Some entrepreneurs will tell you yes, there are ways that you can increase your influence by playing the game, but I’ll be honest -- that’s not for me.

The Closing Process

​Ben awoke at 4:00 am with that old familiar anxiety. It was pitch day. He was recommended for the project and knew that the client, Ed, loved his work. But that was acting and this was directing. Worse, Ed had been directing his own stuff. He was a good guy, but maybe he was just a bit too much in love with his own directing. Ben thought, “Might as well get up and gather my thoughts. Here I am wide awake. Obviously I want this one.”

Don't Forget the Tried and True

Email is a pivitol marketing vehicle for retailers both online and off, because nearly everyone online uses it. We each average about 416 commercial messages per month. Ninety-one percent of us check email at least once a day and 70% admit to always openings emails from their favorite companies. Seventy-four percent say it's their preferred channel for receiving commercial messages. Social media is fun, but email gets the job done.

Networking Outside the Box: 4 Ways to Stand Out to Employers

The question on the mind of every job seeker I meet is consistently, "How do I stand out and get noticed in this job market?" For a lucky few, the traditional resume-cover letter combo can sometimes get the job done, making it to top of the application pile and wooing the attention of hiring managers. But for the majority, it's a struggle of understanding the strategy behind self-promotional marketing, making sure you have the best tools for the job, and of course, a little bit of luck.

Networking Tips for Introverts

Some people are simply born for networking. They're able to connect with others in various contexts, keep the conversation going, and have the courage to talk to people they don't know. If you're an introvert and all of the above scares you, welcome aboard! Introverts usually find it very hard to delve into the reality of networking, which in essence means creating and nurturing new relationships. Don’t worry though — here are some tips on networking tailored specifically to the needs of introverted characters.

Which Comes First...?

I recently attended a Warc webinar entitled, “What can we learn from the world's smartest campaigns?” The presenter said something that particularly caught my attention, something along the lines of, “Channel thinking must be ‘baked in’ to creative strategy.” This is a belief I’ve held for a long time and have always been confused by the fact that clients often split their media buying and creative services between agencies. I never understood how a smart media plan could come together without having an understanding of the creative message, nor how great creative could be developed without the insights of a savvy media planner.

Quick! Watch Your Back!

In only one tweet or Facebook update, an online reputation can be compromised. The stakes are getting higher in today’s environment, with customers now given the opportunity to freely share opinions with a worldwide audience. It comes as little surprise, then, that more businesses are seeking consultation and software solutions from reputation management firms to help them create and maintain a positive online reputation.

How to Have an Epic Company Response to the #IceBucketChallenge

If you haven’t seen someone participate in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, you have been living on another planet. Celebrities, politicians, and your friends and family have gotten wet and uploaded their videos to social media. I even saw two pre-teens doing the challenge in their front yard on my way to the library this weekend. The Ice Bucket Challenge is everywhere.

The A to Z List of Skills for Young Marketers

I currently work with a lot of smart people and have been blessed with having worked with many intelligent people throughout my career. I’ve learned a lot about marketing, about business, about life, and about myself from bosses and support staff alike (and continue to do so). At McKee Wallwork & Company — like any professional services business — we strive to attract the best and brightest talent, which is not always easy to do in a small market like Albuquerque.

Create (Content) and be Social

Social media's growing dominance compels marketers to abandon their old hard sell in favor of a content-driven marketing conversation that can facilitate meaningful brand relationships with customers and prospects. In this challenging environment, content is a key tool to foster relationships, but publishing a blog, creating a Facebook fan page, or launching a Twitter feed is only the beginning of a strategic content marketing program.

What Is Lost When You Pursue 'Perfection'

I was perusing Bloomberg Businessweek online last week during my morning coffee when I stumbled upon a story about a letter originally written by a second-year Stanford MBA candidate named Shirzad Bozorgchami. This letter has been passed down to first-year MBA students every year since the late '80s. Now, if you’re thinking, “well that sounds incredibly boring,” you are not alone, because initially I did too. How could a Reagan-era letter from one class of future "Masters of the Universe" to another possibly be relevant to me in 2014?

3 Steps to a Better Online Reputation

Online reputation management is a growing field as both businesses and individuals realize that one bad search engine result can haunt them for years. For businesses, “branding” has taken on all new meaning in recent years, with traditional print advertising making way for social media and search engine marketing.

​An Obituary for Public Relations

We are saddened to say that Public Relations has passed away after many years of barely hanging on. PR was surrounded by members of the industry, many of whom are unable to let go and perhaps who are even still in denial, while others in attendance — we have to say — were glad to see PR go. Surviving is PR’s successor, Content Relations. Content Relations will be fulfilling all of Public Relations' duties moving forward. Rest peacefully, PR.

A 3-Step Strategy for Dealing with Difficult Clients

In the world of business, working with clients can be quite the challenge. They can get angry, loud, and difficult — sometimes reasonably so, sometimes not. Regardless of why they’re being testy, appropriately dealing with these people, their emotions, and the problems at hand can make the difference between doing future business and losing a client forever.

Rethinking Loyalty Marketing

Customer loyalty, like love, can be fickle and fleeting. Every brand craves it. But few really achieve it. It’s time to rethink the ways brands woo their best customers.

Does Size Matter?

It happened again. I was recently invited to pitch an emerging and marginally funded company — "an innovative documentary news organization launched in 2013 as a timely online counterweight to today’s 24/7 news cycle."

6 Tips for Turning Birthdays Into a Marketing Blast

Birthdays. We all have one. We may not always want to think about how many we’ve celebrated, but remembering those of your loyal email subscribers can be a welcome experience for everyone — if done properly.

What Clients Really Mean When They Say...

Clients and agencies don’t always see eye-to-eye. This isn’t news. Client businesses are very different from agency businesses, so sometimes the two entities don’t always connect because they misunderstand each other. There are three things that clients (or prospects) often say to agencies that drive us crazy.

How to Improve Your Online Brand for Small Business Owners

If you've recently started a small business, whether it's service-oriented, a web-based e-commerce venture, or a traditional brick-and-mortar establishment, today's business landscape dictates that managing your online brand is a necessity. Because of its tremendous reach and potential to convert sales, your online reputation trumps whatever standing you may have in your local community.

Enhance Your Agency-Client Relationships for The New Normal

As we all know, the new marketing world is a demanding place — and it demands that agencies adapt and change their approaches in managing and keeping clients. Nevertheless, adapting to this new business-focused, results-oriented mindset will deliver big opportunities for long-term gain.

Big Data Promises Personalized Medicine

By 2020, big data technology will turn every person into his/her own mobile health network. Each person will wear a device — a ring, a bracelet, a Google Glass — wirelessly connected to an app that will monitor and transmit vital signs and key indicators of every condition they have.

For Better PR Results, Don’t Call

If you work for a public relations firm, does your job description entail calling reporters and editors to pitch stories? If you are still using that old-school PR tactic, you’re career is at a dead end — because, aside from ill-informed publicists, journalists' leading complaint is the number of unsolicited phone calls they receive. We now live in a communications environment in which the phone call has become by appointment only.

Communicate with Impact and Influence

There are two roadblocks most individuals experience that prevent them from taking their communication from good to influential. First is being aware of the excuses they make for why they communicate the way they do. Second, how to fix them: Just do it and take action today.

Advertising Q&A with a Creative Director and a Strategist

For this month’s article, I thought it would be interesting to interview a friend and long-time advertising creative director about the state of the industry. I then thought that it might be fun to compare his answers to mine, so below you will find my 10 questions and each of our answers.

What's Love Got to Do With It?

Here's an invitation to try something that I find amazing and which genuinely changed my life. When you pause, breathe, close your eyes, and think "love" before you do anything, something wonderful can happen. (I say "can" and not "will" because I have no idea where love stands in your life and experiences.)

Asynchronous Triggered Email

The idea is that rather than blast out an email to a targeted list (the spray and pray approach) that consumer behavior drives email dispatch. So rather than send a million emails on Tuesday morning, you deliver the same million emails one-by-one over the course of a month.

Best of TZM: Social Media: Where Oversharing Is Not Caring

We all possess a strong urge to unload our fury and frustration on the Internet. At times, the results are quite humorous. Most psychology researchers have attributed our desire for oversharing to a base need for controlling anxiety. According to a recent Harvard University study, approximately 80 percent of our social-media posts revolve around telling friends and followers how we think or feel.

Don't Waste Your Money on Mobile Marketing If You Won't Do It Right

According to a 2014 Gartner report, spending on mobile advertising will hit $18 billion by the end of this year and grow to $42 billion by 2017. Combined with other mobile marketing activities, such as mobile apps, test-message campaigns, mobile websites, and QR codes, companies are moving considerable resources from traditional advertising and marketing to mobile.

The Lost Art of Writing and Its Impact on Public Relations

We've all been writing from an early age, starting with thick pencils and writing tablets that later gave way to word processors and computers. But as technology has made the mechanical process of writing much easier, something entirely different has happened to writing itself.

Listen to Consumers; Don’t Control Them

Some companies think they are in control of the brand that you are trying to communicate. Some marketing individuals, particularly those heavy into social media, say the consumer is in control of what a brand is. What do you think? Do companies or consumers have control over a company’s brand?

Instagram: Instant Success?

Instagram, owned by Facebook, is the fastest-growing social network with 35 million monthly smartphone users spending 257 minutes per month. Forty percent of their traffic is in the United States, where 58% use the app every day. Seven in ten are women (18–44) with household incomes of $75,000 or more who are actively looking to be surprised, diverted, and delighted.

Brand or be Branded

The job market today is like a dangerous wolf pit; only the strongest, fiercest, and most versatile make it through. The value of a well-earned degree is no longer what it once was; even a well-qualified individual has a hard time getting a well-paying job. The only way to get ahead of your competitors is by setting yourself apart. Sounds easy, right? Surely you can prove that you are not like anyone else and are your own man/woman.

Educate Your Market Before Entering It

How do you sell into a market that is not yet established? This is one of several dilemmas that emerging companies face as they create the next new thing. Marketing skills have been honed on creating new products for established markets and marketing established products to new markets. Increasingly, product development is about creating markets where customers don’t yet realize they have a need.

A Quiet Day in the Life of a PR Consultant

Public relations consulting in the digital age is a quiet business. As a solo marketing PR practitioner working from a home office, I’m no longer distracted by colleagues dropping by my "cube unannounced, by an endless queue of meetings, or surprise phone calls from clients or journalists. And, unless one streams the hits all day, the only high-decibel intrusions are the seemingly endless parade of gardeners along the block or my dog’s insistence on her after-lunch walk.

Experience Is Your Comfort Zone

When someone requests your professional help, they are giving you permission and the power to ask for something in return. It is a magic moment. Mostly, we don’t like asking because it exposes us. Asking takes us out of our comfort zone. They might say no. And that might mean we don’t measure up or they don't need us. So we don’t ask. It makes us vulnerable to that basic fear that we’re just not worthy. It takes a lot of confidence to ask.

Don't Let Your Brand Get Fat

As human beings, many of us struggle with managing our weight and are constantly hearing about how terrible it is to “get fat”. A recent experience with a close family member that is losing a weight battle and is suffering serious health issues because of it got me thinking about how important it is to stay in shape. I hate to admit this, but that train of thought led me to then consider how brands also need to stay fit and not get fat.

Are Corporate Websites Obsolete?

If information and engagement are business goals, websites, the ultimate icons of the Internet age, are quickly becoming obsolete. Consumers now engage and interact with mobile apps, social networks, text messages, email, and dynamically loaded loyalty cards much more than they do brand websites.

Too Many Words. Too Few Copyeditors.

According to Will Rogers, an expert is "a man fifty miles from home with a briefcase." Nowadays, it’s everyone with a computer. If everyone’s an expert, why hire anyone? There’s the rub: Our severely crippled economy begs everyone to be an expert. Or at least pose as one.

UnGoogle Yourself

“The Internet is written in ink.” Or is it? It seems everyone believed that phrase after the ex-girlfriend of Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, said it in the movie The Social Network.

Does Building a Network Make You Feel Dirty?

Although most of us believe that networking is a necessity for both our personal lives and our careers, it sometimes has negative connotations. It “conjures up images of back-slapping, forced smiles, awkward conversations or brown-nosing.” Because of that, many people shy away from the process — often to their loss.

Importance of Customer Preference

In a world filled with endless consumer choices, too many marketers still push out one-size-fits-all messages. Very few CRM cadences are self-directed by consumers, which might account for generally flat or low response and engagement rates. At a time when everybody is a gamer used to picking characters or avatars, setting game play levels, and making choices of all kinds, marketers rarely give their customers and prospects the option to set preferences for content, channels, or cadence.

Stop Looking for Jobs, Start Looking for Skills

There is little doubt that today's job market has changed dramatically. Companies are constantly hiring and firing, and people no longer expect 'life-long' careers at a single organization, ending with a fat pension. Instead, we're living in a 'gig economy' where one to five-year stints is the norm. So how does one embrace this environment and plan their career in a market that's becoming ever more unpredictable?

5 Marketing Lessons from Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great is considered one of the foremost military minds in history. In roughly 10 short years, he conquered the entire known world and impacted future generations in ways that are still felt today. His exploits were so ahead of their time that his stratagems and tactics are still taught in modern military colleges.

7 Unique Ways Your Business Can Use Social Media

Last week I had a terrible experience with a cable television service. They didn’t show up for the installation appointment, and were unable to set up a new appointment when I called to reschedule. So like any curious marketer would do, I tweeted about it just to see what kind of response I would get. The response I got surprised me.

3 Steps to a Better Online Reputation

Online reputation management is a growing field as both businesses and individuals realize that one bad search engine result can haunt them for years. For businesses, “branding” has taken on all new meaning in recent years, with traditional print advertising making way for social media and search engine marketing.

Anchoring: How to Negotiate Any Price

When you describe the scope, schedule, and price — especially price — the other party tends to move to it. They feel that your price must be respected, even if they don’t want to pay it. If they do wish to haggle over price, they’ll do so with the assumption that your price is the top of the range. They’ll negotiate knowing that to keep you in the discussion they can only offer what would be considered an acceptable level below your anchor price.

Here, Taste This: Don't Forget Process

It may be a timeworn concept, but once upon a time in marketing, there used to be something called a marketing mix, which contained four words starting with the letter P. Many don't follow that formula anymore, and as an advertising creative it's not always top of mind. But when I as a consumer encountered one of the P words falling out of alignment when ordering a salad this past weekend, I was reminded that "You can do the best promotion in the world but that won't save you if the others are not pulling their weight."

Resident Mom Knows Best

With Mother's Day fast approaching, it's a good time to look at what moms know about keeping clients happy. I have four kids at home and hundreds at the office. Besides having our own little focus group of 9–16 year-olds, we routinely host panels where moms and kids share their thoughts, opinions, and ideas about important projects.

Women Dominate Smart Phone Use

The Chinese say women hold up half the sky. According to new research on smartphone use from Nielsen, ExactTarget, Pew, and Simmons Connect, compiled into infographics by financesonline.com, women have a dominant hold on smartphone usage.

How Would You Rate Your Customer Service?

Customer service can make or break a company. That is why you should place adequate emphasis on its importance with your employees and focus on it more as the owner or manager. In fact, according to one study, 89% of consumers have switched companies they do business with after they were the victim of bad customer service.

Apps to Help You Become a Better Presenter

Over the last ten years there has been a rapid shift in what is expected from a presentation. Audiences are no longer prepared to be bored by dense text or confusing graphs — even bullet points are slowly being consigned to the dusty files of clip art. Who would have considered a couple of years ago that we would be creating beautiful slides on our tablets and phones while sitting on a train on the way to work?

Your Technology Won't Save You

I remember getting my first Mont Blanc “writing instrument” (that’s what they call it) as a graduation gift. As I held it in my hand, my father said to me, “A fancy pen (I wasn’t going to correct my dad) won’t make you a better writer. It’s only as good as the mind that creates the words. ”

Designing Quickly, Low-Fi First

After years of presenting deliverables to clients (designs, wireframes, websites, etc.) we have learned that we can never predict a client’s reaction with total confidence. This is not only because design is subjective but because we may have a different vision of the final product.

The Credentials of a Great Marketer

There is a running joke among marketers that just about every single person we encounter claims they’ve had a marketing job at some point in their life. If they sold classified ads for the college paper, or were in pharmaceutical sales, or helped their brother promote his lawn-mowing business, they think they know how to do our job.

Get Them Where They're At: Engagement Planning

The confluence of digital, mobile, and social media with big data offers the possibility of addressing, targeting, and engaging audiences and segments differently than ever before. Rather than try to psych out prospects and target them by media use, careful analysis of consumer cohorts can suggest more organic, natural, and genuine ways to reach and persuade prospects.

5 Video Conferencing Tips that Aren’t Quite So Obvious

I find that oftentimes the silliest questions — What should I wear? What does SEO stand for? How should I introduce myself? — are usually the most popular. If you think something should be obvious to you but you just don’t get it, chances are you aren’t alone. Fortunately, we live in the 21st century and Google is here to help. If you’ve typed into Google “How should I act during a video conference?” then Google has taken you to the right place.

Who Do I Notify as Next of Kin?

I will remember that question for the rest of my life. Before we could start our presentation to our largest client, one of the franchisors sitting at the table stopped us and started to tell us everything he and the other franchisors had agreed that they wanted and didn’t want concerning their advertising.

How to Acquire Your Competitor's Facebook Fans

According to recent statistics, 1.11 billion people use Facebook every month. These impressive statistics make Facebook an immensely lucrative platform for personal and professional marketing campaigns. However, competition for Facebook fans is rife and it is important that you can direct as many fans as possible towards your page as opposed to your competitor's.

Prepare for the Red Phone Scenario

After a 32-year career at General Mills and, now, alongside my colleagues at the Advertising Research Foundation, I have seen time and time again that the era of big data has given both creatives and analysts a common challenge — the red phone scenario. With the explosion of big data, the leader of the future must be agile and have great navigational skills.

Who Should We Trust, and Why?

The question of how to gain credibility and earn trust is nowadays a very hot topic. Tabloids here in Europe are full of more shocking news about top managers betraying clients and employees or political leaders seeking artificial power by being highly corrupt. So, it is not a surprise that people and organizations are seeking the golden key to how to rebuild trust.

Time For Web Designers To Get SASSy

I don’t mean Saas (software as a service) I mean SASS (Sentatically Awesome Style Sheets) If you are holding out clinging to your photoshop or fireworks comps for web design your time is coming to a close. If you are serious about designing for the web it’s time to get SASSy.

Let User Generated Content Tell Your Marketing Stories

By participating in a brand community and creating content, the individual essentially gives the brand permission to advertise to them. People take control of the type and frequency of brand interaction, which requires flexibility and a level of trust on the part of the brand. UGC influences more than just products and services — it disrupts the way people communicate with their favorite brands, and with each other.

'Marketing Would Be Easier If...'

Admit it. Marketing is tough these days. Consumers have more access to information than ever before. Media channel and tactical options are infinite. Digital tracking and advertising data are exploding. It’s quite overwhelming to put together a smart short-term marketing plan, much less keep it consistent and optimized over the long haul.

What You Don't Do is As Important as What You Do

It being Academy Awards season, I thought it made sense to give the Oscar for best Marketing Effort of the year. And that would go, hands down, to CVS, for their decision to stop selling cigarettes in all their stores by October 2014. Saying that “the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose,” CVS is removing cigarettes and tobacco products from all its stores — representing an annual loss of $2 billion in revenue from tobacco shoppers.

The Awards that Really Matter

First. If you love the parties, camaraderie, tension, adrenaline, the back-slapping, or the "we'll do better next year" isms and free-flowing alcohol of the ad awards season, wonderful. If you enjoy having judges award you with ribbons, trophies, pencils, certificates, and heavy-duty ice scrapers with your name on it, fantastic.

Understanding the Conscious and Unconscious in Marketing

Human decision-making (i.e. purchasing) does not take place at only the conscious level, as marketers often assume. Unconscious mental processing is at least as important, and conscious and unconscious values are often out of sync. Unconscious mental processes are primal and basic, hard-wired in our brains, like the sex drive and security, which are both core unconscious values. Conscious processes represent higher-order values, such as caring for others and finding meaning in life.

Conformity Is Killing Your Brand

Have you ever noticed how many decisions are made based on the expectations of others? Children go to law school because of mom and dad. Teenagers seek out significant others because that’s what you’re “supposed to do." And every car dealer features flying graphics, annoying sound effects, and booming voiceovers in their ads.

The Techno War, Coming to a Store Near You

The stealth cyberwar between the U.S., Israel, and Iran is child’s play compared to the techno-war brewing in virtually every major retail store. Since the physical act of shopping will never disappear, the savvy players are investing in technology to better engage audiences and steadily increase market share.

6 Reasons Generalists are More Important Than Specialists

I’m good at a lot of things, but I’m not expert at any. And that probably sounds like a bad thing in today’s day and age. More and more, the business world seems to be ruled by expertise. Subject-matter experts. Vertical specialists. Domain authorities. Companies wage wars for sought-after technical mavens and so-called gurus. To advance in one’s career these days, one should naturally specialize. The days of the generalist are over, right?

Is Your Career Keeping You Financially Afloat?

It can be incredibly challenging to support yourself and your family on one, or even two salaries. This leads many Americans to work both a full-time and a part-time job. People may work in an office Monday through Friday, then work a few nights per week or on weekends, too. Though this will help you make ends meet, it can be very difficult to be able to balance all of this work plus any sort of personal life outside of work. Just how many people are working more than full-time?

For Hospitality Clients, Social Media is Essential

Online reputation management is a vital element of maintaining a hotel’s image. Keeping tabs on the conversation about your client's hotel and its services is a critical part of their success. But they can't hand the entire job over to an agency. Success will require a hotel manager or owner who will be dedicated to the guest experience at every turn.

Write Contracts, Not Proposals

Did you know that it’s possible to skip the proposal? Well, it is. When a prospect responds positively and contacts you, they’ll expect you to tell them how you can help. And in doing so you’ll be summarizing what could be a “proposal,” but by doing it verbally you skip the written proposal process entirely and just follow up with a contract.

This Valentine's Day, It's All About Self-Love

Happy Valentine's Day! Who's your Valentine? If it's you, yourself, and you, you may be in good company (in more than one way). The “selfie” has gained so much cultural traction, with 17,000 percent growth in usage from October 2012 to October 2013, that it was named word of the year by The Oxford Dictionary. What exactly happened this year, and what cultural significance does this trend have on both our personal and professional brands?

The E-Sig, a Marketing Opportunity Not to be Missed

Everyone has seen email signatures following the message. Some look professional; others not so much. Amazingly, many emails arrive without any signature at all. More shocking, many companies lack e-sig templates or leave it to individual departments to create their signature style. This situation is inexcusable when there are many tools and apps available, paid and free, to create personal and business email signatures.

Why Marketers Can’t Just Ask

People believe that they know what moves them to act; marketers seem to agree. The long-held belief has been that to learn what people think and feel about a product or a message, we just need to ask them. So marketing research relies on questionnaires, surveys, and focus groups.

The State of Media Mixology

If I had a dollar every time a client asked about media mix or tried to define which channel accomplishes a particular marketing task or objective, I’d be as rich as Mark Zuckerberg. In spite of an explosion of channels, media, and marketing strategies, there are no rules of thumb and there is no consensus on what does what. This gets confusing quickly when you consider the continuously evolving array of digital, social, and mobile options.

RIP to the RFI and RFP

I believe the RFI and RFP model of agency partner selection is the single greatest challenge to design firms, if not our entire industry. It is a universal concern, and I would like nothing more than to see it changed, or simply stopped. After 20 years of success, helping to generate billions of dollars in client revenue, all too often we encounter some form of this request. Though these requests come from prospective clients as might be understood, we also receive them from current clients, and even those with whom we enjoy a long legacy.

4 Keys to Successful Mind Reading

The other evening after listening to a neighbor talk about her family I asked whether she was "rules-oriented." I was certain she was, but I wanted to double-check my prediction. "Of course," she said. “That's the best way to raise kids. Aren't you?" Amused by her shock at my strongly negative answer, I was more intrigued by the fact that she was clueless regarding my orientation.

The Holy Grail of Online Marketing: Gross Profit per Visitor

We’ve spoken with dozens of ecommerce companies over the years and although the products sold range wildly (from custom kitchen aprons to DNA polymerase re-agents), success for these companies comes down to answering the same four questions.

Super Bowl 2014: Mo’ Money, Mo’ Ads, Mo’ of the Same

It turns out that defense can certainly still win championships. The historically good Seahawk defense stifled the record-breaking Bronco offense to transform a game of historic proportions to a blowout.

I'll Pay for It...If I Like It

This isn't another rant about how hard the influence business has become. No, it's not going to be about how we, as insiders, are the ones who, in fact, make it harder by devaluing our work to prospective clients. Why would any person in our business bitch and moan about anything right now? It's time for the Super Bowl.

Five Personal Fouls of Marketing

Recently, a couple of different people asked me what the biggest marketing mistake they could make was. What a great question! In my many years of consulting and providing marketing advice to clients, an answer didn’t come to mind immediately as I hadn’t been asked that question so blatantly. After some additional consideration, I decided that my definition of a severe marketing mistake is one that can permanently damage your brand and/or put a company out of business.

Send More Email! No, Really

Send more email! Remember the motivational poster that said, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”? Let’s apply that to email marketing. People will open 0% of the emails you don’t send. People can’t open an email you don’t send.

Every Company Thinks They Look Fat In Jeans

Your nose is too big. Your pants don’t fit right. You’re too young. You’re too old. You’re too this. Not enough that. You get the idea. Every individual is insecure to some degree. But what about corporate insecurity? When a group of people come together to accomplish a goal, a culture is formed. And just like individuals, company cultures can be insecure.

Content Curation as a Way to Boost Your Online Reputation

For many businesses, developing original content is a regular frustration. In fact, a Content Marketing Institute survey last year noted that producing content was the single greatest challenge for content marketers. Here’s how to combat that challenge: content curation.

It Pays to Meet Customer Expectations

At the dawn of a new year there’s lots of talk about new devices, new technologies, new tactics and new trends. But there’s not much talk about evolving customer expectations, which, to a large degree, determine how all these new things are perceived or received.

Free Advertising in Disguise

Every week, my newspaper inbox is filled with press releases from individuals and businesses hoping to get some free publicity. It's the field known as PR, and it's big business, because no matter what you pay your PR pro, it's less than you'll pay for almost any other type of promotion, unless you're doing the work yourself. So it always astonishes me how very difficult the press release writers make it for me to publish their pieces!

Nail It: Stories for Designers on Negotiating with Confidence

Does the thought of negotiating raise your blood pressure? Have you ever left a meeting wondering if you should change careers? Feeling gun shy is common for those in the creative field. After all, business savvy is not your forte.

Five SEO Resolutions for 2014

We all start the new year hoping to do better than we did the year before. It's a great concept, but success requires a specific and realistic plan. So when it comes to improving your website's visibility (and ultimately, your bottom line), here is a manageable list of five easy to implement strategies for a great SEO year.

When You Need to Get Out of Advertising

“Write whatever you are thinking,” was the advice from the people at Talentzoo.com. I had nothing. 2013 was winding down and 2014 was ramping up. Then this morning the video of Leo Burnett’s speech on “When to take my name off the door” appeared on my LinkedIn feed. He is talking about when to take his name off the door, but it is also a message to some of us about when we may need to get out of advertising.

Create a Culture that Promotes Customer Satisfaction

Remember, it is easier and five times cheaper to keep an existing customer than to recruit a new one. Treating each customer as your only customer brings far more long-term rewards than the "love 'em and leave 'em” attitude. Not only will you improve market share and reduce your marketing costs, but you will also improve employee morale.

5 Reasons to Pay Account Managers Like They Own the Place

How do you get account managers to gladly work on a weekend to help a client or respond to important emails in the middle of the night? The answer is brash but simple: Get them to work like they own the place by paying them like the company’s life depends on them.

Four Hot Marketing Topics for 2014

A new year means new budgets, new priorities, new alignments, and new worries. Here are four critical issues my clients are working on for 2014.

11 Things to Re-Think in 2014

The more new work I see, the more same-y it always seems to seem. Towards better work for you and me, I offer these: 1. Are you still putting websites and phone numbers in your ads? Last time I checked, everyone has a mobile device and will look up your client's name and website and phone number really easily.

Start-Ups: Don't Forget About Marketing

I recently started my own marketing strategy consulting company and one of the first things I did was visit a reputable organization that advises start-ups. I also read as many online articles about starting a business as possible. I met with several people who had started their own businesses and asked them to share their most salient advice. The information I received was hugely beneficial and I’m grateful for all of it.

5 Things to Resolve NOT to Do in 2014

Happy New Year! January is the perfect time to think about new beginnings and giving your email marketing efforts a fresh start. It’s common to make resolutions, essentially promises to do things different or “better” in your personal and professional lives. When applying these directives to your email marketing, here’s your “resolve not to do” list for 2014.

Best of TZM: Using Downtime as a Competitive Advantage

As with everything else, this economy too shall pass. Inevitably, companies will begin advertising once again. In the meantime, however, the creative life cannot stop. Samples must remain fresh and circulating. What’s to do?

Lessons from a Holiday Spoof

Whether you imbibed too many liberal libations of a 90-proof nerve tonic at a holiday party or simply need relief from holiday-induced headaches, strain or excruciating pain, friends, at the first sign of any of these symptoms, for goodness’ sake, this time take your TV’s advice — and you know, more and more televisions are recommending an amazing new psychic breakthrough: Dr. Goodbody’s Total Goodbody System.

7 Tips for Sending Successful Holiday Marketing Emails

The holiday email frenzy is in full swing as Black Friday offers clog everyone’s inbox. Email is becoming increasingly formulaic as marketers test, learn, and apply lessons learned from responders. This is troubling to some creative types who don’t want to be confined by research or constrained by conventions developed by left-brain analytical wonks.

From Entry Level to Executive: 3 Steps That Will Enhance Your Career Progression

The new year is coming soon! When you set your goals for 2014, be sure to include your career path in your list. Many people set personal goals and, unless they are very unhappy in their job and are ready to make a career transition, completely forget that aspect of their life altogether when goal setting. We tend to only focus on our career when something is wrong or when we want to make a change.

Trust Builds Customer Relationships

Here’s an intriguing dilemma for sales and marketing executives — 90% of companies use customer satisfaction as a benchmark for success and overwhelmingly most companies report that their customers “like their products just fine.” Yet 80–90% of new products fail in year one.

How Smart is Your Colleague? (No Test Required)

Before you align yourself with a colleague for a team project, you'll want to make sure he or she is an intellectual asset. So, how can you figure out the smarts of a colleague without having a consulting PhD? I shouldn’t be giving this away, but the basics are actually so simple that anyone willing to keep her eyes glued and ears open to another person can figure out that person’s basic work smarts. Quickly and easily. By testing and watching for three simple behaviors.

A New Way to Structure the Marketing Department

What if companies organized their marketing efforts around goals instead of tasks? This would allow each team (or even individuals) within the department to work toward a common purpose that is truly measurable. Tasks are often measured by completion of the work, not what actually happens in the marketplace. On the other hand, goals articulate what is necessary to be successful with customers. So when they are reached, goals offer a stronger feeling of accomplishment.

Use Holiday Business Slow-downs to Reboot

Quiet periods are scary, no mater what the reason. They always scare me! I think of the quiet times as a wake up call. A slow down in business gives us the opportunity to think about the overall flow of business, why it has changed, and how to grow it.

Unpacking Engagement

Engagement has become a term that means everything and nothing. Too often, it’s used offensively, defensively, or indiscriminately to thrust or parry arguments about strategy, technology, media, or creative. Engagement is the desired human interaction that results from marketing activity. It’s a feeling, a thought, or possibly an action that a person takes in anticipation of or in response to messaging or functionality.

Gratitude, Hope, and Hidden Reserves

There's been a flurry of media attention around the novel convergence of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah this year, something that hasn't happened since 1918 and won't happen again until 2070.

Inspiration and Impressions

Paul MacFarlane of The 1101 Experiment offers up a few of his best tips on making truly unique and positive last impressions in this short video for creative freelancers and employees alike.

Giving Thanks: A Career Retrospective

One of the greatest minds of the past 100 years once said: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” — Ferris Bueller Ferris was — as usual — absolutely right. One of the side effects of “stopping to look around” is remembering how you got where you are today — and all the people to whom you owe thanks.

Holiday Email Marketing Dos and Don'ts

We all know that one of the biggest drivers of online and offline sales is email. The message shoppers receive in their inbox is often a welcome prompt to make a purchase. But this isn’t always the case. The following are some recommendations to follow for your email marketing program to stay off Santa’s naughty list during the holiday marketing season.

Empathetic Marketing: Appealing to Customers’ Heartstrings

The business world has increasingly embraced the value of emotion in selling products of late as marketers see the value of appealing to consumers’ heartstrings. Emotions can be powerful economic levers, but without a proven psychological theory to tell us where, when, and how to extract emotional insights, opportunities are lost.

Is 'Great Creativity' Your Agency Position?

It better not be. Because it’s a failed position and it won’t win new business. Great “creativity” and great “creative” have become confused, cultish advertising descriptors that were only meant to suggest a means to an end, a step on the way to a conclusion. Instead, the words have become over-hyped signifiers and poor identifiers in a world impatient for punch lines. And results.

How to Improve Your Online Brand for Small Business Owners

If you've recently started a small business, whether it's service-oriented, a web-based e-commerce venture, or a traditional brick-and-mortar establishment, today's business landscape dictates that managing your online brand is a necessity. Because of its tremendous reach and potential to convert sales, your online reputation trumps whatever standing you may have in your local community.

How to Choose Between Marketing Tactics

My lengthy marketing firm experience coupled with my recent move to the corporate side tells me that many CMOs and Directors of Marketing find it difficult to decide which tactics are best suited for their brands. With all of the various channels and available media categories, it’s often difficult to choose without worrying about missed opportunities.

Does Your Company Have a Brand Comb Over?

When your brand wakes up in the morning and looks in the mirror, what does it see? If you’re like many companies today, you might be looking at a brand comb over. Brand comb overs operate much like their real-world counterparts. When a company is self-conscious about how they are perceived, they attempt to cover up their insecurity with a thin layer of marketing hair. But the “solution” only makes the matter worse. And to the casual observer, nothing is truly hidden.

Is It Better in Today’s Economy to Work as a Freelancer?

The appeal of being one's own boss is certainly natural for many workers. Yet, in today's economy, such a change may not be the best choice if you’re looking for the stability of a traditional full-time position. Times could be changing, though. The current state of freelancing is impressive — and bigger things are on the horizon.

The Big BOO! What Fears are Holding You Back?

‘Tis the season of ghosts and goblins — that special time of year that brings renditions of severed heads and mutilated faces, eyeballs and fingers without their bodies, werewolves, vampires, zombies, lunatics, and creepy dolls — striking fear in our hearts and our wallets (Americans spend $6.9 billion on Halloween each year).

Obamacare as a Marketing Case Study

The introduction of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) is a marketing case study in what not to do. Health exchanges are a new, fundamentally different, and untried way for consumers to approach healthcare, especially for those millions without it. Established insurance brands compete with lesser-known brands and start-ups in a free-for-all retail arena that is driven primarily by monthly costs.

Job Postings, Translated

“Must be able and willing to defend the creatives against outside interference from account services, clients, traffic, agency principals, etc. Must approve and ‘sell’ the creative work to the account team and client. If the creative work isn’t sold properly to the account executive, it will not be sold properly to the client.” Yikes…I get it! Why would I want to work there?

Building a Design Firm Brand

First, know what you stand for, and why. The key is how the services you provide help others. It’s the source of your message. It’s what people remember about you. It’s what makes you important to them. That’s where the emotional bond originates.

I Can’t Get No Respect: Google+ Is One Social Media Site You Must Use

Often forgotten for its social-media influence, Google+ might just be the most crucial social network for businesses and professionals who want to solidify their positive online reputation. Both a Google+ page and Google Authorship should be a critical aspect of your online reputation management.

Core Emotional Needs Drive the Actions of Consumers

The needs that motivate and influence people are universal, spanning cultures and generations. No matter what age, nationality, or background, people are driven by essentially the same set of core needs.

What Do Managers Actually Do All Day?

By the time a smart Gen-Yer has been employed for a few years, the opportunity to manage begins to take shape. Thus, in this article I intend to revisit a highly relevant subject: what do managers actually do? Leaders in the field have all answered the question in the same very traditional way. However, as a student of the field, I intend to take a unique perspective on the question.

A Walk on the Client Side

I spent the last 16+ years at a few marketing firms (most recently over eight years at one agency) and am in the midst of the fourth week at my new job on the “client side.” I thought some may find it interesting to read about my most noteworthy observations following this career change, so here goes.

Cube Life: Inside The Gray Mini-Walls

Approximately 73% of the U.S. workforce spends 40 hours a week in a faux prison cell known as a “cubicle.”* And workers in the advertising world are no exception. Try as you might, you will never be able to design, decorate, or devise a way to the perfect cube. There will always be something to annoy, offend, or bother you.

Kick-Start Change

This time last year I wrote an article on “change.” So when I approached the same topic, I admit I hesitated. I saw the irony: another article on change? Might I want to — well — change the subject? But when I started thinking of the many ways my career and environment have changed over the past year, I decided to stay the course.

How Tic-Tac-Toe Saved the World and Taught Us To Be Better Marketers

It’s 1983 and humanity’s survival hangs in the balance. Self-aware software has hijacked NORAD’s control over America’s nuclear arsenal and is about to launch thousands of missiles at the U.S.S.R. Military geeks desperately try to regain control of the launch system to no avail, until a young Matthew Broderick breaks the code.

Making the Jump from Agency to Client-Side Gigs

Hello there! So, you work on the agency side and are thinking about making the move over to “the dark side” – the client side. You are not alone. Many senior-level agency professionals are now looking for client-side gigs. So, just how do you compete?

What Is Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation seems to be one of the newest buzz terms to join the marketing lexicon. But what is it exactly? If you were to look up the term on the interwebs, Wikipedia would tell you that “marketing automation refers to software platforms designed for marketing departments and organizations to automate repetitive tasks.”

3 Steps to a Better Online Reputation

Online reputation management is a growing field as both businesses and individuals realize that one bad search engine result can haunt them for years. For businesses, “branding” has taken on all new meaning in recent years, with traditional print advertising making way for social media and search engine marketing.

Ideas are a Dime a Dozen; What Will You Do With Yours?

The final key to ideas is making them happen, with speed and iteration. Stop perfecting them and get them started. The devil is indeed in the details, so start developing them — and be open to adapting as you learn. You're always better off starting and learning in the real world than waiting and trying to perfect what, in essence, is a hypothesis.

Online Profiles: It's Not Just Copy and Paste

Social networking sites are no longer optional in your job search. Over 90% of employers are starting to use social recruiting, and the number is growing. They are online finding candidates, and so are recruiters. When I met with a PR executive years ago, she said, “If you are not online, you don’t care enough about your career."

The Need for Meaning

A funny ("Oh my god, did you see that?") video goes viral on YouTube with 1,070,221 views in a day. 850,000 tweets go out on the first day of a new music/media festival. A brand's Facebook page gets 65,004 Likes in one hour on its first day.

Inside Big Brother

Who scares you more — the NSA, collecting every bit of electronic communication you create on every device in every channel, or Acxiom, collecting and aggregating every bit of data about who you are, where you are, what you do and what you have?

When They Believe in You

When a client or prospect asks you for something, you have their respect. They wouldn’t ask if they didn’t believe in your ability to fill their request. At that moment you have their attention and respect. Their request provides the opportunity to ask for something in return.

How to Create Personal Mini-Stories and Leave a Lasting Impression

Whether representing your advertising agency in a sales meeting or sitting down for a job interview, you’ve probably stumbled like a drunk with rock-filled shoes through the easiest request on the planet: “Tell me about yourself.” Why is this so hard to answer well? After all, nobody knows you better than you do. Right?

Highlights of Digital Marketing

Seasoned online marketers Trina Albus and Corinne Crockett recently discussed some highlights of their ten-week digital marketing course taking place this fall at General Assembly LA. Online marketing has undergone quite an evolution in recent years. It is important that businesses keep up by continuously educating everyone involved.

Why Brand Matters for Business Marketers

While brand differentiation has long been a focus for business-to-consumer marketers, many business-to-business marketers have historically overlooked the benefits of building their brand, instead placing emphasis on the promotion of products and services.

Are Your Customers Night Owls or Morning People? The Best Time to Post on Facebook

Studies have consistently shown that most Facebook posts are read within 30 minutes of posting. Despite the social media site’s attempt to keep highly commented posts at the top of users’ news feeds by changing posting order to “most relevant,” if your post hits while your intended audience is sleeping, working, or in school, you’re wasting your time.

Make the Customer Life Cycle Work for Your Brand: Part 2

By deliberately considering each stage of the customer life cycle — Attract, Convert, Retain and Engage — you can create more effective interactions between your brand and the customer. So, there is no need to dig out those old marketing textbooks from college for a quick refresher course. You can simply print these two articles.

Duplicate Content: Not Foe, Not Friend

Doesn't it annoy the guff out of you when you search for a specific term on Google, and the first ten results are the exact same article, simply hosted on different sites? (Maybe not if you're the author or sponsor of said article, but for the rest of us, it's a huge PITA). Such barrages of duplication often occur because a press release has been issued on the topic, and every relevant site has published it. Google searchers aren't happy about this sort of thing. And if searchers aren't happy, corporate isn't happy.

Fueling Creative Inspiration

I’ve always believed that inspiration can come from anywhere. Great ideas lurk away from desks and outside conference rooms at all hours, every day. At BFG, some of our best work has been known to originate during jam sessions, friendly ping pong or foosball matches, or by simply sharing interests and endeavors that we engage in outside of the office. Creativity often fuels more creativity. It’s keeping the pump primed that’s key.

Social Media: Where Oversharing Is Not Caring

The social media overshare is one of the most annoying features of the Internet. You’re often surrounded by people who publicly flaunt their opinions and observations through digital means. Not long ago, the only place to share this kind of information was in person or by email. However, the emergence of social-media sites like Twitter and Facebook has provided people with a convenient forum in which to check up with friends.

Sizzling Subject Lines

Subject lines initiate successful email exchanges, whether you are initiating a job search or a marketing campaign. The right subject line opens up a conversation or a relationship as quickly as “abracadabra.” The wrong line condemns your brand to die alone in the dark. Great subject lines are like great billboards or great headlines; they telegraph easily understood information to drive immediate comprehension and action.

Make the Customer Life Cycle Work for Your Brand: Part 1

Do you remember learning about the Customer Life Cycle in your college marketing classes? Well if you haven’t thought about it since then, you might want to refresh your memory. At our firm, we utilize a streamlined version of the customer life cycle to architect our clients’ long-term marketing plans. The phases in our version include: Attract, Convert, Retain, and Engage.

Advocating for Net Promoters

What is it that we’re trying to do here? C’mon, all you social marketers, what is your ultimate goal? Put aside all the buzz and platform adoption and device/content prioritizing. What are your clients paying you to do? Sell something. Period. Every single communication should ultimately persuade someone to take an action that generates revenue, now or later.

Mama Said Knock You Out: Goodbye to 'Email Blasts'

Is a rant about the term “email blast” really necessary? I think so. That name for email campaigns has been in use for far too long and should be put to rest. It has no place in today’s email world of sophisticated software.

SEO is a Must-Win

Organic search is the baseline digital marketing tactic for most marketing campaigns. Considered an important, if arcane, art, it is characterized by a constant cat-and-mouse game between search practitioners and Google or Yahoo/Bing and a dynamic tension between SEO specialists and copywriters. Unfortunately, too often it’s taken for granted.

Insights Into Visual Engagement

A picture’s worth a thousand words, as regular users of Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, and Pinterest know all too well. A new visual study from Curalate offers unusual insights into which images resonate and engage us best. Curalate, a visual marketing and analytics firm, looked at 500,000 images on Pinterest across 30 visual dimensions. You can get their infographic here. The goal was to identify the visual elements that drove greater re-pins.

My Love/Hate Relationship with Marketing

I have been in the marketing industry for 16+ years now and the original reasons I got into this business are the same reasons that keep me fascinated to this day. Marketing/advertising is an exciting business — especially today, with the way things are rapidly changing and progressing. But let’s be honest. This business can also be very stressful and difficult — especially today, with the way things are rapidly changing and progressing.

Best of TZM: Don't Wait Too Long to Freelance

Is independence the right career move for you? Talent Zoo revisits one of our most popular articles on going freelance, in honor of July 4: Independence Day.

This is the story of how my uncle's sudden death pushed me to pursue my dreams of freelancing and truly stand on my own two feet. It was a rainy February morning when I got the call. The funeral was the following weekend and though I was not close to my uncle the stories that were told at his funeral touched me deeply. He was a master mechanic, and towards the end of his life volunteered by helping fix bicycles for the homeless.

The Mobile Inbox Rules

A surefire way to tank your email marketing program is to ignore the segment of your audience who reads your emails on their mobile devices. It’d be foolish to think that only a small sliver of your readers is away from a desktop. A Pew Internet study earlier this year found that 83% of U.S. adults own a mobile phone and 45% of adults own a smartphone. Another study this year by Adobe revealed that smartphone owners (of all ages) are more likely to use their devices for email than for making phone calls.

Retargeting and Remarketing

Retargeting, also called remarketing, begins by dropping a cookie on site visitors. This enables marketers to follow them as they search, do social networking, or flit from site to site. A person coming to your site can then be discreetly followed by ads reflecting the content they viewed or reflecting their psycho-demographic profile.

A Complex Digital Equation for Brands. And a Simple Solution.

We’re connected to technology almost two-thirds of our hours awake. Surprised? Maybe you shouldn’t be. After all, the number of mobile Internet devices will outnumber humans by the end of the year, according to Cisco.

The Mobile Media Industry: Surrendering Control

Mobility will turn us into direct, relationship, and database marketers. That’s the cornerstone message from two new studies — Forrester’s “2013 Mobile Trends for Marketers” and Urbanairship’s “Connect with the Connected.” The keys to successfully making this transformation will be surrendering control to consumers while continuously creating relevant and resonant content.

What Is Your Brand's Excuse for Not Using Social Media?

Today, social media is becoming an important way of doing business and isn’t just a sideshow or one-off marketing tactic. Keep in mind that social media can also be used by brands to enhance sales and lead generation processes, handle customer service inquiries, perform market research, monitor competitive activity, improve human resources efforts, manage investor relations, and boost internal collaboration and communication.

Big Data and the Rapidly Evolving Concept of Privacy

Technology, social media in particular, has pushed the boundaries of the limits of privacy over the course of the past decade. Networks like Facebook and Twitter, when used by people who generously share personal information, have taken the fun and mystery out of getting to know people in the traditional way. Though Facebook has helped law enforcement officials catch criminals, the careless use of Twitter has had a reverse effect.

Web 6.0 Imperatives

In the beginning there were web pages. Brands staked their claims on the newly invented World Wide Web. Web 1.0 met consumer expectations that every brand would have an 800 number and a web page as points of contact.

Green Eggs or Spam?

Green eggs or spam? Let’s talk about how email is perceived. Is email a source for bringing in the green, i.e. money, or is it all spam? Well, this opinion is all dependent upon who you’re asking.

Bottom Line: Social Media is Essential for Brands

Are companies listening? Several studies suggest the answer is no. A number of recently published reports show that more than 70% of customer-service complaints on SM were ignored. That’s a staggering number and one that may already be having an impact on how consumers view SM.

Your Creativity is Not Defined by the Medium You Work In

There’s a school of thought among some advertising professionals and clients that it takes a specific type of creative person to create great advertising for a specific medium; i.e., it takes a great print writer to write long copy or it takes a digital writer to write great digital or... That’s pure crap.

4 Latest Loyalty Marketing Strategies

Building and sustaining loyalty is tricky. It’s part stimulus-and-response conditioning, part value exchange, and part emotion or experience driven brand love. The dynamic mix of these rational and irrational elements in the context of larger macro economic factors, like a recession, or micro factors, like an awful experience with a store clerk, can change quickly.

Adiós to Blogger Whores

After reading a number of case studies describing how brands have used social influencers to drive commercial success, I get the feeling that bloggers are like Congressmen; they can be easily bought and paid for. And while FTC rules demand full disclosure, it seems that the journalistic ethics of early bloggers has succumbed to the easy baksheesh offered by brands, and their PR or social marketing firms, eager to marshal what appears to be consumer endorsements or momentum.

Cracking the Brand Loyalty Code

Consumer packaged good (CPG) brands have had an off-and-on relationship with customer relationship marketing (CRM) and loyalty marketing over the years. Every brand attracts loyalists. Most brands fantasize about identifying, motivating, and rewarding them since they buy more, buy more often, and tell everyone they know about the brands they love. Every so often CRM becomes the flavor of the year in CPGland.

Internal Dynamics Affect External Communications

If your company is like most, it’s probably not “peaches and cream” around the office every day. In fact, research recently done by my firm, McKee Wallwork & Company, indicates that 59% of companies are experiencing some internal discord. As a CMO or Marketing Director, you may complain about internal problems like infighting or the lack of clear direction from the management team.

Social CRM Prompts Skepticism

There’s a lot of talk about social CRM but much less action. The idea of mining social media to develop one-to-one relationships, curry favor with customers and prospects, and develop loyalty is a seductive illusion. The reality is that very few companies have a clear understanding of what social CRM is, why they need it, or why they should invest in the time, energy, or technology to make it happen.

Ad-Verse Reactions: On Spending Less Time at Work

There’s an old adage that says “Nobody, on their deathbed, wishes they had spent more time at work.” It is both logical and powerfully true. It’s also rather easy to ignore, in an era where more time spent working (at the office and at home) is demanded of you and even worn as a badge of honor.

The Qualities of a Great Boss

Somebody asked me recently who my favorite boss was and why. I thought it was a great question and it, quite frankly, made my head spin. Not spin because I couldn’t name one, but spin because I could name a few. As I considered why these few supervisors were so great, I realized that I appreciated each of them for different reasons. I believe that my understanding and recognition of their strengths as leaders will only make me a better boss. Allow me to explain.

Toughen Up. Learn to Deal With Criticism.

Neal Howard is not a shark; he’s more of a Killer Whale. The first day of his class at The Portfolio Center, he moved among the students talking and laughing with us, regaling us with stories of working in advertising, telling us what he thought was great about advertising and what he thought was wrong with advertising. He showed examples of great work and poor work, and explained why he thought it did or didn’t work, but no matter what — he always seem to get a laugh out of us.

Facebook's Emerging Ad Sales Strategy

If you pay attention, you can begin to see Facebook’s ad sales strategy coming together. The announcement that Facebook is buying Atlas from Microsoft comes on the heels of Facebook’s announcement of big data alliances. The pieces of Facebook’s future advertising juggernaut are emerging.

How to Crack the Code to Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing offers an alternative. The challenge with inbound marketing is that it’s new. People don’t understand it. Marketers don’t know how to put a comprehensive inbound marketing program together because there are very few practical examples of exactly how to do it.

How to Form Healthy Business Partnerships

Whether you’re running a complex project, would like to enter into new markets, or need investment as a start-up, you need a partner. Reliable studies have proven that more than 70% of all strategic alliances and joint ventures either end up in conflict or do not meet their objectives. Over the last 25 years I have formed and managed almost 100 alliances or joint ventures. Some succeeded, some failed.

How to Influence People, Easily

With change comes the unknown. Without change comes little to no improvement in our professional and personal lives. Most of us do not make changes because it’s not easy. When the changes you want to make are a must for you, you will fight tooth and nail to make it happen. How important is it to you to influence others through your communication?

Branding the Cambridge Satchel Company: An Exclusive Interview with Founder Julie Deane

Building an idea from your kitchen table and turning it into a boutique international brand with presences at stores like Bloomingdales is no easy feat. It takes determination, planning, and a little ingenuity. Meet Julie Deane. She was a stay-at-home mom and started the Cambridge Satchel Company to get her daughter into private school to avoid the bullying of her public school classmates. That was five years ago.

Ad-Verse Reactions: Copywriters Are Heroes

Sure, you might not know it to look at us. And some of my fellow copywriters might be too ashamed to say it. But I’m not afraid. (Especially in an anonymous column.) Copywriters are truly heroes.

Facebook Flirts With Big Data

In recent moves, Facebook allowed marketers to upload data from brand email lists and loyalty programs and crosstab them against brand followers. This answers the burning question among marketers; “Are we hitting the same guys twice in two separate channels or are we addressing two distinct audience segments?” The answer affects message construction, offers, frequency, and contact strategy.

The A to Z List of Skills for Young Marketers

I currently work with a lot of smart people and have been blessed with having worked with many intelligent people throughout my career. I’ve learned a lot about marketing, about business, about life, and about myself from bosses and support staff alike (and continue to do so). At McKee Wallwork & Company — like any professional services business — we strive to attract the best and brightest talent, which is not always easy to do in a small market like Albuquerque.

Confessions of an A$$hole

Hi. My name is Derek Walker and I’m an a$$hole. I’m not only “an” a$$hole; I’m “that” a$$hole. I know once or twice in my career (who am I kidding, it has been a lot more than that), I’ve caused people working with me to mutter, whisper, or even shout, “That a$$hole!”

3 UXD Imperatives from David Bouley

David Bouley is arguably one of the greatest American chefs. He is also a god when it comes to designing a user experience. Dining at his eponymous restaurant in the Tribeca neighborhood of Manhattan is not only a sensation for the palate, it’s a lesson in consciously designing an experience to surprise and delight customers. Here’s what I learned.

Creating Content to Boost Offsite Signals

Videos area a great way to explain your service, keep visitors on your site longer, and explain to them how your product works. Here we're going to discuss their use for building external signals. Let's take, for example, a tuxedo site. I use this as the example because I end up reinforcing the signals of one every single year; the “how” is outlined below with examples of how they could do even better.

Ad-Verse Reactions: Full-Time vs. Freelance

I’m very committed to maintaining and building my “network” — as I’m sure you are as well. So when a recruiter buddy of mine suggested that I have lunch with a friend of his, I agreed. HIM: Freelancing (his Mrs. carries the salary and benefits) and a dad like me. Worked at several of the big shops in our area, but had given up the full-time world in exchange for the freelance existence. Basically admitted he was “finding himself.” ME: Well, you know. Digital copywriter with offline background. Dad. Voted Talent Zoo’s #26th favorite columnist.

The Two Sides of Content Creation: Part 2

In my last article I discussed the creation of content to boost the SEO from an onsite perspective, but it's also invaluable for boosting offsite signals as well. When we're considering offsite signals I'm going to include both incoming links and social media signals. While the specific value of social media as it directly pertains to enhancing organic search engine rankings is debatable, it's clear that it is a factor and, perhaps more importantly, will very likely gain a stronger place in the algorithm in the coming months and years.

'It's Not About You'

We have a few mantras at our marketing firm. One in particular seems to come up over and over again with our clients: “It’s not about us. It’s about them.” We say this to remind everyone that our advertising efforts and other marketing tactics are designed to resonate with our target and it doesn’t matter if we like the ideas or not. I’m sure you’ve encountered situations like these before.

Digital Is People, Too

We wanted to watch an online video news clip. So we clicked. And we were forced to sit through a Cadillac commercial. Ugh. But you know what? we thought. Not this time. We'll move onto some other content on this site and skip the video. So we move our mouse over the bottom of the video to stop the commercial. But there's no way to stop it. There's no pause or stop button.

Client Relationships Take Effort and Time

Successful client relationships are extremely rewarding. They are partnerships built on a foundation of respect and collaboration, many of which flourish into lasting relationships…or maybe I should even call them friendships.

Alvin Ailey's Digital Dance

Modern dance is like olives. It’s an acquired taste. And in this socio-economic environment, dance troupes are underfunded, searching for new audiences, and competing for each and every discretionary entertainment dollar. What’s a company to do?

Branding Experts Share Marketing Advice for Startups

LOS ANGELES — Public Relations and startup industry veterans converged at the Olympic Collection’s Regency Ballroom on December 4, 2012 to discuss best practices for startups interested in telling their stories in interesting ways. The panel — part of Business Wire Los Angeles' "Media Breakfast" series — featured a diverse mix of speakers with experience representing international brands and engaging hyper-local communities in Southern California.

Marketing Department Woes

Last month, I wrote about the “Marketing Jungle” and how brands suffer from the failure to effectively integrate the wide variety of tactics and channels in today’s crazy marketing landscape. Beyond this struggle with external customer-facing communications, my experience indicates that CMOs are also finding it difficult to create and manage a productive internal team. As more companies take some or all marketing services in-house, these departments are getting larger and therefore more difficult to run.

Do You Have a Super Brain?

In Rudy Tanzi’s highly accessible and readable new book on neuroscience, the scientist distinguishes between the “baseline brain” and the “super brain.” With his co-author, Deepak Chopra, he sets out to unleash the explosive power of the human mind. They do a masterful job.

What Mobile Marketers Can Learn from Radio

Mobile marketers can learn a lot from the first mobile advertising medium — radio. And while the notion sounds retrograde, long established consumer behavior has simply shifted from one device to another. Bleeding edge mobile savants need to pay attention to the not-so-distant past. Consumers brought their analog habits to the mobile digital world.

Dating Your Ideas

In speed dating, you wouldn't ask your potential mate questions like: "What color are the majority of your clothes?", "What's your ten-year plan for employment and living arrangements?", or "Does your family have any genetic diseases I should know about?" Similarly, it would be weird to ask your potential project questions about color and font treatments, profit margins, and any potential coding bugs — at this stage, at least.

Zig Ziglar's Enduring Lessons

I love working with sales guys. But I’ve always been extremely skeptical of sales trainers and motivational speakers, most of whom are full of it. But the sales and marketing world lost a giant this week with the passing of Zig Ziglar, one of the best and pioneering sales motivators.

Best of TZM: Why Business Schools Need More Street Smarts

Had the leadership of Sears, Borders, Encyclopedia Britannica, or Kodak been better trained, the world might look a lot different: Amazon would still be focused on paper books, having been unable to compete with Sears in the online retail space or with Borders’ burgeoning e-book business; Britipedia would have beat Wikipedia to become the world’s go-to reference guide; and the iPhone would be known as the KodaPhone.

Why Understanding SEO is a Skill All Employers Will Appreciate

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is one skill that can be utilized in just about every industry. Gaining visibility online is important because it helps spread the word that your company exists, and it doesn’t matter if your company is a fitness gym, a dentist’s office, or a social media firm. You might be interested in an industry that has nothing to do with the Internet, but it still has a website.

Stop Using QR Codes, Now!

For the past several years, I have been an advocate of QR Codes, as well as other print-to-digital technology, for marketing, advertising and promotion purposes but, when I see a company use a QR Code in the way described below, the first thought that comes to mind is to say to the company's marketing team, "Stop using QR Codes, now!"

The Marketing Jungle

Over the years in our work with hundreds of companies across a variety of industries, we’ve seen one obstacle surface repeatedly and more often lately. We call it the “Marketing Jungle,” and it signifies that while attempting to create integrated marketing programs, companies are trying (often unsuccessfully) to gain control over and integrate a variety of disparate marketing channels.

3 Rules for Mastering New Skills

How do you start something new? Whether it’s an exercise program, a simple task you’ve left on the back burner, or creating a new business from scratch — how do you get started?

Pick Three and Call Me in the Morning: 2013 Resolutions

Over the last year I’ve worked with eleven clients. It’s been a great pleasure and privilege to be invited into their business lives and to help them deal with challenges and opportunities. Together we’ve negotiated new business deals, hired, fired, trained management teams, and aligned business needs with personal goals. I’ve helped them through great and difficult moments. Sometimes it’s been exhausting, but it’s always been thrilling.

4 New Mobile Messaging Scenarios

The explosive growth of mobile media combined with the growing adoption of Internet TV creates new complications and new opportunities for marketers. While we are just beginning to understand who uses which device for what tasks and when, its time to start thinking about how marketers can intersect or intercept consumers with commercial messages in ways that are welcomed, interactive, and acceptable.

QR Codes: To Support or Promote?

When using QR Codes in a campaign, marketers need to ask themselves this critical question: When the QR Code is scanned, is the ensuing experience meant to support or promote the product or service, or both? It's a simple question, but after reviewing literally hundreds of QR Code-based campaigns, it seems as though most marketers never seem to ask it.

The New Formula for Loyalty

The availability of 24/7 digital, social, and mobile communications channels creates new and creative opportunities for brands to communicate and interact with loyal and potentially loyal consumers, which, in turn, creates opportunities for fans to interact, respond, and share back. The trick is how, when, and using which approach.

The Two Sides of Content Creation: Part 1

If the flurry of Panda updates taught us nothing else, they taught us that content is…important. This knowledge leaves many, many webmasters and site owners with a catchphrase to digest but little in the way of a “how to.”

Selling Ourselves Short: Why Ad People Need to Charge What They're Worth

Although I am a creative, I like to think that I am also a businessman (there are days I wonder about that). I understand that the economy is rough, and it feels like there are more agencies and creatives than there are assignments or jobs. However, we have to understand that by constantly lowering our rates or fees, we cheapen our brand in the eyes of our target.

Big Data, Big Banks: Big Security Issue?

With President Obama’s data-mining team receiving so much (and deserved) credit for his re-election, the use of micro-targeting may just start receiving the “sexy” tag. Amazing; data being described as sexy. So, are you tired of hearing about “Big Data” yet? I hope not, because it’s only getting bigger. And bigger. And it’s already pretty big.

Your Website Has a Voice!

Keep it simple, user-friendly and creative. When it comes to website design, these three tenets can be more challenging to stick to than you might think. It is important to remember that a website doesn’t just display information; it is a communication platform for your brand.

Don't Wait Too Long to Freelance

This is the story of how my uncle's sudden death pushed me to pursue my dreams of freelancing and truly stand on my own two feet. It was a rainy February morning when I got the call. The funeral was the following weekend and though I was not close to my uncle the stories that were told at his funeral touched me deeply. He was a master mechanic, and towards the end of his life volunteered by helping fix bicycles for the homeless.

How Brands Can Court Their Customers

At its core, the idea behind marketing is about brands building warm, loving relationships with customers. There are brands that customers actually love (I mean obsessively love) and that’s because brands like The Ritz Carlton, Starbucks, Zappos, and Chipotle show genuine love for and to their customers.

The Case for Creating a Marketing Playbook

In recent survey of 104 marketing executives from around the globe, conducted by my friend and former colleague Leighton Jenkins, 63% of responders either didn’t have a marketing playbook or didn’t know if they had one. Creating a marketing playbook for your company is critical for three compelling reasons.

Ad-Verse Reactions: Find Me, Friend Me, Hire Me

Whether you’re a freshly minted graduate looking for that first great job or a wily veteran looking for that last great job, it’s all about networking. To succeed in almost any career, you’ve got to be constantly schmoozing. Former coworkers, current colleagues, and anyone else who might be able to help you someday — or vice-versa, for reasons of good karma.

What Big Bird Knows About Inbound Marketing

Big Bird made headlines worldwide when he was mentioned at a recent presidential debate. It seemed like a good time to recognize Big Bird for his abilities as a premier inbound marketer. Big Bird is one of the nicest, seven-foot, yellow birds around. Inbound marketers are part of a community that treats prospects with respect by educating, advising, coaching, and counseling them.

20 Free Social Media Listening Tools

The great promise of the Internet is that we can instantly access encyclopedic experiences, opinions, insights, lessons, and data sets — the sum total of human wisdom in two clicks. Imagine if we could hear from and have direct knowledge from our customers and prospects on topics that matter to them. Better yet — imagine if you could get to this mother lode anonymously, without having to actually see or engage these people, hear them whine, or see their bad haircuts and off-beat fashion choices. How great would that be?

Relevance vs. Privacy: More Relevant Than Ever for Brands, Part II

How pervasive is the relevance vs. privacy issue? This summer, the White House issued its own plan to help protect consumers’ online privacy. Calling for an online privacy “bill of rights,” President Barack Obama said that American consumers “can't wait any longer for clear rules of the road that ensure their personal information is safe online.”

Marketing is More Than a Department

As a marketer (yes, I’m biased) I find it odd that marketing executives are often not listed in the leadership sections of company websites. CEOs, CFOs, COOs, HR heads, and even IT leaders are highlighted, but the CMOs are nowhere to be found. I find this to be completely ridiculous!

Relevance vs. Privacy: More Relevant Than Ever for Brands, Part I

Six recent studies suggest privacy concerns are growing right along with the proliferation of new devices and technologies. For marketers, these numbers add yet another layer of complexity to their efforts to reach consumers with relevant, compelling content. The studies’ implication is clear: Trust and transparency can have a direct impact on the bottom line.

The Promise of Social Business

There is a growing movement to apply social media sensibilities and behavior to internal communications and management. Led by IBM, which has sufficient expertise, infrastructure, and incentives to have transformed itself over the last year or two, this new social business model aims to transform real-time work processes in ways that leverage collective knowledge and experience, empower employees, and achieve efficiencies in communication while driving growth.

Not Everything Deserves to be in Your Portfolio.

Your portfolio is an honored place, a place where only your absolute best work resides. It is hollow ground - the Valhalla for your creative, a place where your greatest ideas are gathered waiting for that moment when you will call upon them to do battle for you either in a job or client search.

The Rise of Social TV

TV is inherently social. The hype surrounding social TV technologies and consumers’ use of social media in tandem with TV is not a new cultural phenomenon. It’s just a different technology-enabled expression of how we entertain ourselves.

Use Long-Tail Keywords to Get Targeted Visitors

In today's highly competitive online marketplace, one of the keys to success is having a solid content marketing strategy. Having lots of great content available at your website sets you up for naturally receiving tons of long-tail keyword traffic that you might otherwise miss out on.

Ad-Verse Reactions: The Old Guy at the Club

Summer is ending, and with it — my youth. I’m closer to 50 than 25. And in my head, I’ll always be a silly dorky 19-year-old. But that balding/graying head of mine is mega-revealing. What brought on this mini-crisis? Our summer interns are going back to school, taking their not-of-legal-drinking-age selves back from whence they came.

SEO and Social Media are in Love

Google, Yahoo!, and Bing are in love with social media. Why not? We’re in love with it, too. How can 500 million users be wrong? But if these major search engines are going to be serving up social content and using social media when determining how to rank their search results, business owners, marketing professionals, and executives better know what we need to do to say on the first page.

Why Business Schools Need More Street Smarts

It's back to school for over 150 million university students around the globe. Millions of them will be studying business and hundreds of thousands will be seeking their master’s in marketing. Of these, about a hundred will wind up in front of my lectern. And when they do, I want to find some way to have them turn out better than the business leaders who have driven revered brands like Sears, Borders, Encyclopedia Britannica, and Kodak into obscurity this year.

Rethinking Storytelling

Does the medium dictate how the story is told? That’s a question of increasing urgency as brands develop assets and orchestrate experiences among and between channels and platforms. As online video replaces 30-second spots and games influence our expectations about how stories unfold, Latitude 42, a research consultancy, surveyed 158 tech-forward people (heavy smartphone and tablet users) aged 12–65 about experiencing stories in the future.

Creativity is the Ad Industry's Secret Weapon

“Creative” has become a dirty word to some. It represents work that is pretty or clever but lacks substance. Advertising people use the word “creative” like it is a curse or a slur. Pitiful. That just shows that some do not understand what creative is and what it can do.

Want to Make a Splash on Social Media? Target 'Word' People

Social media appeals to select personality types. Heavy social media users tend to be “Word” people; individuals who articulate their feelings freely and who get pleasure in expressing themselves publicly, according to new research by my friend and colleague Linda McIssac. Linda, President of Xyte, Inc. developed and perfected a 16-cell Cognographics profile methodology for understanding how individual brains process information.

What Agencies Need to Know About Print to Mobile

As mobile continues to grow, develop, and solidify itself as a key marketing channel, advertising agencies, among others, continue to debate whether or not print to mobile technology (i.e., 2D bar codes, digital watermarks, visual search recognition, intelligent print recognition, augmented reality, etc.) has a place within a client’s marketing mix or not. While some believe the technology has staying power, others see it as nothing more than a passing fad and look to stay away at all cost.

Does Facebook Advertising Drive Dollars?

The crux of the Facebook advertising pitch is that the 800-pound guerrilla social network drives business for the brands that use it. New research from Forrester suggests that the chicken or egg question still remains open.

'Experiences': the Future of Design

As a young designer I always thought that I existed to make things look pretty. Early on, for the most part, my assumptions were reinforced when project managers and copywriters came to the design department with creative briefs and copy pre-written and said, "We have everything figured out, now make it look pretty.” This setup never left room for the designer to voice his thoughts or ideas to the people making the business decisions.

All You Need to Know About Freelancing Etiquette, You Learned in Kindergarten

“Don’t hit people” is one of the first rules you learn in kindergarten. It applies, literally and metaphorically, to adult life as well. I recently had a dispute with a vendor over a bill because of some items that weren’t delivered. Instead of taking care of the problem, the vendor “hit me.” He replied with a nasty email that his company didn’t carry those items any longer. No refund of money. No apology. Nothing but an unprofessional email.

Why is the C-suite So Sour on CMOs?

Contrary to popular belief, CMOs today enjoy unprecedented job security with tenure at historic highs. In fact, over the past year, the average CMO tenure reached the dizzying height of 3.5 years. That may not sound like much compared to the decade of service CEOs usually render, but it is the highest average since the executive search consulting firm Spencer Stuart began tracking CMO tenure in 2004. Back then, CMO tenure was only 1.8 years.

Open Questions About Facebook's Open Graph

Facebook’s Open Graph has potential, but it’s problematic. The risks and benefits of gathering and connecting data streams from across the Web through the Facebook platform still aren’t clear to most marketers. This technology play puts Facebook at the center of data streams that will soon rival Epsilon, Equifax, Experian, Transunion, or FICO. Soon Facebook will collect, hold, and be able to slice and dice huge amounts of personal and behavioral data on hundreds of millions of individuals.

How to Explain Internet Marketing to Prospective Clients

Often I've been on the phone with a company's owner or marketing department discussing a promotion and was ready to launch into a project when I heard the inevitable phrase: “Can you give us some specifics on what you're going to do?” Rightfully, there is a significant gap between understanding you need something and understanding what you need.

Why Do Creative Briefs Suck?

I’ve been an agency creative, a freelance creative, and a corporate creative for over 26 years. For the last 10 years, I’ve been on a crusade to improve the quality of the document we love to hate: the creative brief.

The Lure of 'Creative' Jobs and How to Land One

While there's certainly an attractive draw to the projected industry growth, the continuing demand for niche skills, and the potential job security that comes along with many jobs within the creative industry, job seekers and career changers are often drawn to another aspect: the "creative" label itself.

The Evolution of Influence: How Creative Firms Came to Power

Throughout the last century, creative people — notably writers and designers — have played an increasingly important role in the world of business. Their influence is greatest when a creative service is assumed to be essential to corporate success. With the access that influence provides comes the opportunity to shape corporate futures and to charge significant fees in the process.

Facebook's Bogus Ad Sales Pitch

Facebook has to sell a lot of ads to satisfy Wall Street. Unfortunately, the latest sales blitz aimed at brands and agencies is lame. Facebook’s huge user numbers, nimble targeting using 15 possible variables, and average 80 cent CPC are enticing. Facebook had 151 million unique U.S. visitors in April 2012. Facebook attracts 7 out of 10 Americans online. The average person had 28 sessions for 379 minutes during the month, basically once a day, accounting for an average time spent of 7:09 hours.

Life After Graduation

I was so excited before graduation. I felt accomplished and was curious about what my future would hold. I think I speak for most people when I say that college is fun, but most of us look forward to life after college…except the student loans. I welcomed the last day of college. Starting my career was the most important thing to me. I was ready to get to work and make the big bucks.

Best of TZM: Why We Haven't Met on Google+ Yet

I want to use Google+. I want my colleagues and clients and you to use it as well. I think it has the potential to be a major catalyst for business networking. If it succeeds, it could carve out a very lucrative space for itself positioning LinkedIn more squarely as a recruitment tool and Facebook as a socializing tool. But there is one thing stopping me from jumping into Google+ with both feet.

Use Your Liberal Arts Degree to Your Advantage

Over the last several years, I’ve been consistently surprised by the number of new college graduates I’ve interviewed with degrees in marketing, communications, and other seemingly job-specific majors. What blows me away when I talk to them is not that they chose the majors they chose; it’s that they knew so early on in their lives what they wanted to do.

Get Real on Social Media Channels to Boost Your Rankings

The average user spends 405 minutes per month on Facebook. That's over 13 minutes per day on average. And here's the interesting thing about Facebook: you tell them everything.

Intuition: How Assumptions Can Lead Us Astray

As a designer, I’ve long prided myself on my intuition and ability to “read the writing on the wall.” As I’ve gained experience and had opportunities to work with many designers who’ve grown their own firms, I’ve learned how common this belief in one’s own intuition is and how easily the assumptions that result can lead one astray.

Beyond Advertising: The Real Value of Facebook for Brands

Facebook and its investors depend on advertising to generate 85% of the social platform’s $3.7 billion annual revenue. That made GM’s retreat from Facebook last month particularly poignant for marketers and investors alike. The New York Times reported that “GM, the third-largest advertiser in the country, shut down its Facebook budget, about $10 million, saying that those ads were simply not doing enough to sell automobiles.” This has caused a lot of speculation over Facebook’s usefulness to marketers.

Ad-Verse Reactions: You Don't Call, You Don't Write

On my way to work this morning, I drove by a nondescript office park that I’ve passed a thousand times. Dentists, lawyers, and one company of particular interest: a small advertising agency. This agency was one of dozens that I contacted not just once, but twice after being laid off. Their response? Nothing.

Applying Real-Life Optimization to SEO

If you've been reading SEO articles lately, you've probably heard some mention the phrase "over-optimization." It's usually used to say that people have gone overboard with the things that they think SEO involve. I even used it in the headline of a recent Talent Zoo article. But, honestly, over-optimization is a silly word.

The Reports of Advertising’s Death are Greatly Exaggerated

Isn’t advertising supposed to be dead by now? I mean, wasn’t interactive, digital, social, or whatever supposed to kill off advertising? Wasn’t technology supposed to usher in a new era of creative that would be authentic and user driven? So, what happened?

Stop Whining. Start Inventing.

Some in the advertising community say that digital technology is rendering the craft of brand storytelling obsolete and that brands and marketers are now depending on digital platforms, apps, and games instead of conceptual ideation and disciplined creativity to influence audiences.

How Hair Stylists Are Like Ad Agencies

During a recent visit to a new hair salon and stylist, the thought occurred to me that my relationship with my hair stylist is not unlike client relationships with ad agencies. This was the third stylist I’ve been to in seven years, and after some thought I realized that I “broke up” with the first two stylists for very similar reasons.

Prime Time for Social Media

Nielsen recently released State of the Media Advertising & Audiences. It got me thinking about timing and digital media. While time has been a critical planning factor in traditional media, digital marketers don’t think in terms of prime time, roadblocks, or time-triggered communications as much as their offline counterparts.

Video Content Improves Conversion

More and more case studies are being published on how online video content marketing is driving action to improve conversion across all points of the sales cycle, from getting found on search engines to providing information on what distances your company from the competition and closing the sale.

The Geek Manifesto

Mark Henderson begins his Guardian review of his own book, The Geek Manifesto: Why Science Matters, with the reminder that “when drugs are launched, we expect rigorous testing. Yet with government strategy we rely on anecdote or public mood when empirical study could offer better results.”

Positioning: Don't Try This at Home

I have one piece of advice for any communication professional that is thinking about repositioning their own brand: Don’t. Have you ever heard the expression, “A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client”? After three months of working on my own company’s brand position, I can safely say this proverbial wisdom applies equally well to brand consultants.

Negotiating Tips for a Profitable Client/Agency Relationship

Step 1: Create a Virtuous Cycle. By definition, a Virtuous Cycle is a series of events that results in a favorable outcome, time and again. For creative professionals, it means using your work and the insights gained from your experience to attract the attention of future clients.

Focused on Freelancing

Being a freelancer is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s fabulous to be my own boss. One the other hand, it’s the hardest work I’ve ever done.

New Rules for Creating a Commercial

Here at sTeVe Productions, we're specialists at creating up-to-the-present-moment television commercials for clients short, tall, grande, or venti. We use state-of-the-art proprietary Klokworx Orange™ analysis involving media researchers whom — with their eyes taped open — view countless hours of commercials to identify visual, aural, and content trends.

Transitioning into a Career

The transition from the college world to the real world can be a culture shock for many of us new to the scene. I didn't realize how spoiled I was during my years in college. I slept when I wanted, studied when I wanted, and pretty much did whatever I wanted. Time just wasn't an issue during my college days. Of course, deadlines for assignments still existed, but those were the only deadlines I lived by.

Pay No Attention to Search Engine Rankings

Many of you may have an interest in SEO because you (or your boss) did a search for a phrase at Google that you believed your website should show up for, and then didn't see it anywhere. While that's a possible indication that you may need some SEO work done on your site, it's not the best way to determine this.

On the Other Side of The Black Hole

My friend is a woman “of a certain age.” She has her doctorate in biology and has worked as a medical researcher for many years, looking for cures for diseases that no one wants to get. When the funding dried up two years ago there were no jobs in her specialty to be found, so to her credit she dusted herself off and got a teaching certificate and some paid training. For the past year, she has been applying for jobs, sending out multiple resumes every month. She hasn’t received any responses.

Go. Do. Learn. Then Hit the Beach.

The year is finally winding down. Yes, I do still think of “the year” as defined by the school calendar, even oh-so-many years after having left school. Old habits die hard. The weather is warming up, the garden is beckoning, and the nightmare of putting on a bathing suit again (I stay far away from mirrors!) is rapidly approaching. Before that, there are a few events of interest you may want to check out.

How to Reach the Hispanic Market

This is not a political story with a red or blue slant. This is a story about how to market to Hispanics — the largest and fastest growing minority group in the U.S. But for the sake of simplicity, let’s start with a political example that transcends parties.

How to Fuel the Content Marketing Engine

Everyone is talking about Content Marketing. Right now it is the center of the universe for marketers. But if it’s the engine that drives lead generation, then what gas do we put in the engine to make it roar?

My New Best Friend, Thanks to Freelancing

I knew the day I started working from home was going to be fabulous. I didn’t have to get up early, I didn’t have to wear nice clothes, and I wasn’t stressed about arriving to work on time. Five friends and two family members called me that morning. Another friend called and invited me to lunch. It would have been rude to turn her down, so of course I went — after showering and getting dressed in “nice” clothes. (I’d been wearing sweats when she called.)

Overexposure: Be Selective With Your Online Portfolio

“Stop showing all of your goodies; give them a reason to get to know you,” I overheard the older lady tell a group of young ladies. I guess she was giving them life advice, but it got me to thinking: Advertisers need to stop showing all of our goodies.

Why We Haven't Met on Google+ Yet

I want to use Google+. I want my colleagues and clients and you to use it as well. I think it has the potential to be a major catalyst for business networking. If it succeeds, it could carve out a very lucrative space for itself positioning LinkedIn more squarely as a recruitment tool and Facebook as a socializing tool. But there is one thing stopping me from jumping into Google+ with both feet. It’s not the coding or the functionality or the interface. It’s the Google brand.

An SEO Primer

It's been well over a decade since SEO became a common marketing method and yet for many, the idea of what it actually is has changed very little in that time. The fictional world of “Field of Dreams” seems to permeate the mentality more often than not and the mantra “build it and they will come,” while warm and fuzzy in the movie, leads to heartaches from site owners and headaches from ethical SEOs

Ad-Verse Reactions: Is There a 'Marketers Anonymous'?

After a long evening commute, I settled in with my family for a quiet night. (As quiet as toddlers can be. Which is to say, not that quiet.) At one point, I hugged my daughter close and she noticed the logo on my T-shirt. “Whassdat?” she asked, gazing up at me with the innocence of an almost-three-year-old.

Over-Optimization: It's Not Your Mother's SEO Anymore!

I've written previously here about Google's "Panda Updates" and what they mean to website marketing and SEO. But more recently Google's ultimate web spam Czar, Matt Cutts mentioned in passing at a conference that Google will be getting even more aggressive towards sites that are pushing the envelope with their SEO efforts. This of course has got some SEO types in a tizzy.

Preparing for the TV Interview

If you know the topic intimately and speak from the heart, you won’t mess up. Even if the question is rephrased, you will know how to answer it because you will be speaking from experience, and that is why you are being interviewed on TV. You are the expert, so communicate what you know – not what you memorized.

Content Marketing Gets the Axe from Google

It happens all the time… your website finally secures a starring role on the first page of a Google SERP. And then… KAPOW! Google “slaps” your website, sending it into virtual purgatory (SERP page 1,398,530 or beyond) — effectively flushing your web-based income down the toilet.

Freelance: the New Full-Time

Remember those paper hats with the word “trainee” printed on the side? The kind that fast-food franchises used to make new employees wear? It might as well have read “prone to screw up” or “don't blame me for the undercooked fries.” Trainee hats shouted to the world that this was a different class of worker — new, accident prone, and unseasoned.

Do You Deserve 'A' Level Talent?

Every now and then, I get curious and check out the employment ads for creatives. You know, the job listings online and in the trade publications. And very quickly I’m reminded why I started my own shop. Folks have lost their “ever-loving minds!”

The Journey to Old (Part 3): Another Birthday

Another cake with so many candles that the first ones lit have melted by the time we get to lighting the last ones. Another close encounter with the fire extinguisher, hoping we don’t have to use it on the cake. Another few wrinkles, and I’m positive I’m shorter than last year.

Increase Your Design Fees: Confidence, Distance, Mutuality

Design firms routinely underprice their work. It seems as though they don’t trust their own value, thinking, “If I can do it, it must be easy.” Therefore “I don’t dare ask for…” whatever.

KONY 2012: Should Your Brand Still Support It?

A couple of weeks ago the words “Joseph Kony” would have meant little to you or me. And not because we haven’t heard of him before. We have been hearing about Kony for over two decades. For example, since 1995 the New York Times has written 75 stories on Kony, seven of which have made the front page. Amnesty International has been publicizing his misdeeds for just as long.

Three Rules for Business Emails

When writing emails, either as a series or as auto responders, if you’re not an experienced direct response copywriter — because you’re the boss, an IT person, or an unpaid summer intern — and have to write them anyway, because you can’t afford to hire a professional, experienced marketing and sales copywriter (ahem!)…

The Fight To Save Pornography is Also the Fight to Save the Advertising Industry

Yes, this is an advertising site. And I already have enough political baggage to my name that I sometimes wonder if a career in advertising (stereotypically portrayed as a liberal man's industry) is even possible. I suppose at the very least I can claim strong libertarian roots, which hopefully will appeal to any future employer who can look past my heartless capitalistic sentiments and see me for the good person that I am (Eagle Scout, reporting for duty).

4.5 Ways to Increase Website Traffic

Did you know that you can actually impact the amount of traffic coming to your website? You can! It’s not all up to Google, Yahoo, or Bing. After all, you wouldn’t host a party without sending invitations. Here are 4.5 things you can do right now to drive traffic to your website.

The Public Relations Society Crowdsources a ‘Modern’ Definition

The last time the definition of public relations was updated, in 1982, computers had hardly entered the PR scene and the result was the watery, ”Public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other.” Interesting to note, there is no mention of the use of communications techniques. Further attempts to update the definition in 2003 and 2007 failed to gain traction.

Ad-Verse Reactions: Ditch the Guilt

As someone privileged enough to work indoors in a comfy chair under fluorescent lights, then go home to a non-foreclosed-on home to my beautiful wife and incredible kids, there’s plenty of reasons to feel that I’m undeservedly well-to-do. (Not that I haven’t studied and worked hard and overcome obstacles to get where I am. Just sayin’.)

Who You Know vs. What You Know

There is a general belief among publicists that a solid media Rolodex will get you news placements. Even business owners are buying into this theory. Potential clients frequently ask me in sales meetings which reporters I know in “tech” or “political” or “fashion” — you name it.

Offered a Partnership? Be Ready to Negotiate.

What designer hasn’t dreamed of creating his/her own product that would wow the market and make tons of money? Think James Dyson.

Critical Details You Must Share with Your SEO Consultant

You've done your homework and hired a new SEO provider to help you gain more targeted visitors to your website. Congratulations! But don't get too excited yet, as the real work is just beginning. Before your consultant ever does any work, they're going to need to get up to speed about your business and your website.

Inspiration

The first daffodil has bloomed and that’s how I know it’s almost yard sale season. I have a yard sale every year. Every year I sell a lot of stuff and throw a lot of stuff out. Somehow I still have the same amount of stuff afterwards, and need to have yet another yard sale. So I’ve come to the conclusion that my possessions are biblical. That is, my Stuff Begets Stuff. I have no idea how that happens!

Integrating Video into Your Marketing Efforts

If you’re looking for new ways to market your business, you should highly consider including online video marketing as both a stand-alone method and one that is integrated into your other marketing channels. Video will help your business get found on search engines and then engage and interact with customers at every stage of the customer life cycle.

Brevity in Writing: Should You Choose Boxers or Briefs?

Effective writing, regardless of the length, utilizes the concept of brevity. A well-written 300-page novel may actually be brief. The author just needs 300 pages to tell the story accurately. The excessive version might have been 500 pages. Brevity isn’t confined to word count or page length; it’s a writing skill that determines what information is crucial and what unnecessary details should be omitted.

The Social Media Revolution is Over. Now What?

For all purposes, it would seem the social media revolution is over...and social media won. Now what?

You Can Cut Ad Expenditures and Increase Revenue

Yes, you read it right. It’s possible to reduce traditional advertising expenses, like print, TV, radio, direct mail, and trade show costs, while still increasing revenue overall.

PINTERESTing!

Pinterest is a social network where people collect images that they want to share. The numbers are very impressive. Today Pinterest gets over 12 million unique visitors per month, 9 million of which are Facebook users, and it hit 10 million users faster than any independent website in history. It’s barely two years old but already it generates more referrals than YouTube, Google+, and LinkedIn combined!

Fit In, Stand Out, Stand Apart

To get on a prospect’s wavelength, to get invited to the pitch party, prospects must be aware of your firm and expertise. Brand design, store design, packaging design, way finding, web design, user experience, etc. — are all traditional expertise descriptions.

Improve Your Writing, Right Now

You write to convey a message. Don’t let carelessness misrepresent the message that you intend to express. If you incorporate the following guidelines into your everyday — seemingly inconsequential — written communication, then your formal writing ability will become more cohesive, focused, and effective.

Ad-Verse Reactions: Five Website Fixes

So now that I’ve been at Anonymous Digital Agency (not its real name, that would be awful) for a month, I know everything there is to know* about “the online space.” (Like how important it is to call it “the online space.”) *Writer does not really know or claim to know everything. He knows enough to know he knows nothing.

The Power of Facebook for Marketers

Facebook has astounding numbers no matter which page you’re viewing. The company’s prospectus claims that 845 million people log on every month, and that’s counting only once those users who check-in, post pictures, and updates several times a day.

The Complete Cure for a Brand Disaster

Years ago every B-school marketing class had to read and analyze case studies of companies and brands that were either wildly successful or experienced bone chilling failures. With the emphasis these days on “group projects” there isn’t much time in the classroom to expose today’s students to legendary stories of marketing, other than assigning a few paragraphs to read or discussing the occasional sidebar in their texts.

Girls Got Game: A Super Bowl Recap

I was born into a baseball family and married into a football clan. As an act of self-preservation — or perhaps it was a symbolic rebellion — my daughter became an ice hockey fan. The point is, neither of us would willingly watch the Super Bowl as a football game, but as marketers, both of us wanted to see the commercials. Here are some of our impressions.

The Force of Super Bowl Ads

Did you know the most popular Super Bowl commercial from 2011 spent a little over a penny to reach each consumer? That’s right; the Volkswagen Mini Vader ad was watched by 160 million people and, assuming the car maker spent the average $2.5 million for the 30-second spot, their cost per view comes down to .015 cents.

The Super Bowl, Up Close and Personal

Now that I reside in Indianapolis, where Super Bowl XLVI — or forty-six for us Roman numerally-challenged — will be held, I've been following the preparations closely. I never imagined the kind of work that is involved in staging an event this big: the world's biggest one-day sporting event.

Lessons in Negotiation for Creative Firms

When I started in business I had no idea what “leverage” was, let alone how to use it. The prospect of negotiating a price for my work terrified me, which is probably why I became a designer. I thought that because of my talent, I’d get work without having to bargain.

What's Wrong With This Picture? The Stauer Chronograph

Enjoying a ‘Rich Life’ Through Mentoring

Being a mentor does not require anything fancy. And you don’t have to dress a certain way. While mentoring can be formal or informal, my relationships with my mentees are pretty informal, which suits all concerned. We touch base regularly by email or by phone. Sometimes we meet over lunch or dinner so that they can brainstorm, talk, and even vent.

4.5 Reasons Being #1 on Google Isn’t Enough to Drive Leads

Do you think being #1 on Google is the end all and be all of search marketing? A lot of our clients tell us, “We need to be on the first page of Google.” But in the end, getting on the first page of Google isn’t even a relevant metric. After all, if NO ONE clicks on your link, how did that help you?

Go. Do. Learn. Tan?

A New Method for Getting Facebook Fans

It’s the untold, dirty secret in the social media marketing business. You can buy real Facebook fans to give any business a psychological and sales advantage.

2012: Time to Ditch the Pitch

Pitching has always been my favorite part of the advertising business. I became good at it. I loved the focus, the camaraderie, and the adrenaline. I loved the late nights, cold pizza, and hot coffee. And I loved winning, which thankfully happened more often than not. For one stretch of my career pitching was all I did. Of course, I didn’t own an ad agency back then. I was pitching on someone else’s dime.

Replace Junk SEO Content with Real Content

As we enter the year 2012, it amazes me that there's still the very incorrect belief that writing special pages filled with keyword-stuffed content is what SEO is all about. I talk to clients and potential clients every day who seem to think that SEO means writing something called "SEO content" on their websites. They don't know why they might need these pages — only that it's what they think they need to do to make Google happy.

Gone Corporate: There and Back Again

So New Job: Day One finally arrived. Asked to arrive at 9:30, I showed up at 9:15. (Eager beaver.) Introduced to my cube, which featured the gloriously new and beautiful MacBook Pro on which I’m typing this. It is wonderful for the Hack to be back on the Mac! (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

Purpose Marketing for Today’s 'New Normal'

What I’m talking about is developing and having a purpose underlying your brand and your marketing. The real purpose of your business should be WHY you make the products you make, not what or how. And that core purpose should remain in place even though the business strategy and tactics may have to be regularly revised to address a changing world and business environment.

Career Advice for Creatives on Starting Out

'How Old Are You?' Answer: 'I'm 39. Again.'

Jump Ahead of Your Competition With Video Marketing

Crowdsourcing: The Hottest Trend of 2011

How to Repair a Damaged Brand When Disaster Strikes

Best of TZM 2011: 7 SEO Myths That Just Won't Die

Best of TZM 2011: Avoiding the Twitter Hangover

Best of TZM 2011: How to Manage Your Personal Brand

How the CMO Grinch Got Social

This month’s post was inspired by Dr. Seuss, the Season, and a recent article from Forbes, stating that 71% of CMOs are under-prepared to manage the current "data explosion," while 68% struggle with social media. Happy Holidays!

Changing Technology Retail Design: How to Capture Female Buyers

Employment in the U.S.: Ideas for Job Creation

Improve Your SEO with Business Video Marketing

Discovering Your Gimmick

Gone Corporate: Achieving 'Escape Velocity'

When last we left our intrepid hero, the evil Legion of Upper Management had eliminated Hack-Man’s supervisor, shackled him to a new, incompetent, and lying boss, and “wrote him up” for tardiness.

What to Expect in 2012 (Aside from a Crappy Economy)

I’ve been known to be a bit of a reluctant soothsayer and this coming year is the one that, well, I’m saying a lot about: A lot of the “big stuff” that everyone’s been waiting around for (not hovercrafts, no) will begin to emerge around 2012.

Losing Website Traffic? Solve the Puzzle With Analytics

Every day I hear from business owners whose online inquiries and sales have suddenly dropped off the map. Many times, they're not doing anything differently; they've simply got fewer visitors coming to their website, and fewer visits usually translate into lost income for the business owner.

Should You Use Humor in Sales Copy?

A debate has been burning up the bits and bytes on one of the popular marketing forums. The topic of heated discussion: whether or not to include humor in sales copy. Some of the members argue that humor can be a disarming and refreshing alternative to the caveman approach to copywriting — i.e., bludgeoning the reader into shock and submission with forceful declarations and exclamation points.

The Journey to Old (Part 2): Brand Your Age

I bet you are reading this because the word BRAND is in the headline. Until recently, it seemed that marketing was all about getting up to speed with social media; now branding is the new word of the week. There’s plenty of great information and advice — especially here on Talent Zoo! — about how to brand yourself, why you should brand yourself, and what to expect from branding.

Design for Responses, Not by the Rules

Brands once knew the rules. Email conformed to a single-browsing width and web-safe fonts ruled inboxes. Resistance was futile — at least for brands that wanted entry to consumers’ email inboxes. But designers have begun to throw down their gauntlets and to embrace creativity in direct marketing.

A Real Social Media Strategy

Everyone wants a piece of social media, but no one quite knows where to find her. As a result, everyone goes to the same predictable places — Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube — in search for publicity.

Got LinkedIn Recommendations? Here's How to Get Some Without Asking

A friend of mine has confused asking for a LinkedIn recommendation with promiscuous sex and used-car sales. “It makes me feel cheap, pushy, and desperate,” he explains. I ask if he would prefer that people just write recommendations for him completely on their own initiative without any requests from him.

Data Dysfunction

Data is being touted as the new marketing darling. Yet in spite of the widespread availability of amazing, existing, proven data collection, mining, processing and automation tools, mainstream marketers haven’t been walking the walk.

Why Nordstrom Creeps Me Out

I’m writing this post in early November and I’d like to be the first to wish you a Merry Christmas. Unfortunately, I’m sure some retailer has already beaten me to it. A recent headline in USA Today read, “Santa's becoming a September fixture” citing Christmas promotions beginning as early as July and August.

It Takes a Leader to Turn a Brand Around

Do you have the skills, mindset, and traits to save a sinking brand, no matter how rough the seas get? Branding guru, CEO, marketing director, head honcho, boss, manager, entrepreneur — whatever your title, one day you may be faced with an unexpected challenge. Lead with courage, and you’ll likely turn it around. Manage with mediocrity, and your brand’s life may be very short.

Gone Corporate: A Firing, a New Boss, and a Written Warning

I have been and continue to be a hard-working employee who was doing the work of two people for most of my time here. And yes, I was spoiled by years of the ad agency schedule, which usually says “You get to work anywhere between 8:30 and 10, and you might take a long lunch, but you stay late if you need to in order to meet deadlines.” And also, “You might work from home or on the weekend if necessary.” But that doesn’t fly in Corporate World.

To Tweet or Not To Tweet: Decide for Yourself

"I don't twit." That's what my friend proudly stated the other day. I didn't say that she doesn't "tweet," not "twit." A more popular comment is, "I don't care what people had for lunch today." I hear these kinds of things from people all the time when I mention Twitter. People are entitled to their own opinions, but it would be much more interesting if they had fully investigated it on their own.

Critical SEO Moves for BEFORE Your Site Goes Live

For the past few years, I’ve been doing a lot of technical SEO consulting work for businesses that were redesigning their websites. Companies of all sizes have asked me to review their website prototypes and backend content management systems (CMS) to be sure they weren't going to make their websites tank in the search engines.

Lowe's 'Never Stop Improving' Needs Improving

I love this spot! I hate this spot! Let me explain my love-hate relationship with this Lowe’s "Never Stop Improving" commercial. As a creative, I love everything about it — the music, the dancing, the choreography, the emotional journey called life, you name it. I could watch it over and over again. To be honest, I have. It’s the kind of spot that makes creatives and agencies cheer.

The Naked Interview

So I'm looking for a job, right? And I haven't had much luck. I will even go so far as to say my search has become desperate these past few weeks. I'm applying for this job and that job. I'm overqualified. I'm underqualified. I'm even applying for jobs that I don't want!

Writing Successful Sales Copy in the 2012 Recession

There are, as you may have heard, 13 human motivators, or “hot buttons” that inevitably drive sales. Employ any one or two of them in your marketing campaigns, with a deft and artistic touch, and you’ll easily deliver your customers to the precipice — the point at which he or she is presented with an all-important and consequential decision.

Go! Do! Haunt?

Halloween is my favorite holiday, simply by virtue of the fact that it’s mostly about chocolate. And chocolate is my life! During my senior year in college — instead of doing my real design homework — I spent a week creating costumes for my roommate and myself: giant, wearable Hershey’s Kisses made from a chicken wire cage and voluminous quantities of Reynolds Wrap.

Five Videos That Every Business Can Use

Done right, video converts! Just like ten years ago when you needed a website to be competitive, website video marketing is very quickly becoming THE must have. There are many reasons why website video marketing is being line-item budgeted by marketers.

When Good Brands Go Bad

60 Minutes is at the door. Are you ready to defend your brand? The business world is uncertain, risky, and forever changing, so it's no surprise that your brand will probably face some rocky roads throughout its lifetime, along with a little uninvited media attention. Whether due to a natural disaster, a product recall, a competitor’s maneuver, bad judgment, a customer complaint, or some other factor, your brand strength could be put to the test when you least expect it.

Saving Starbucks and Himself

Howard Schultz’s new book, Onward, part memoir and part survival diary, says as much about business by what’s not said as it does in its gently sanitized prose. Reading between the lines and then thinking about the written lines gives you a great insight into the single-mindedness of a successful entrepreneur and some serious recent war stories about Starbucks.

Seven Tips for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Anyone can call themselves an entrepreneur. That’s why so many do. You’ll see it on business cards, LinkedIn profiles, and Twitter bios. But please accept that some monikers, like “hero,” “genius,” or “great dancer” only work when applied by someone other than yourself.

Avoiding the Twitter Hangover

Imagine the shock of waking up in the morning and discovering your 3200 Twitter followers have dwindled down to one. That’s exactly what happened last month to a local TV personality in Phoenix.

The Journey To Old (Part 1): It's All About the Choices

The definitive moment came about three weeks ago. I was at the register at Jo-Ann’s buying some fabric and the cashier took a long, hard look at me and asked, “Are you a senior?” Do you know how brutal is it having to choose between my pride and a 10% discount!? My inclination was to take the discount, naturally, and put it aside for a good investment.

Facebook's New Moves

You may notice drastic and significant changes in the design, functionality, and capabilities of individual and branded Facebook pages. These moves, made unilaterally without any advance notice, constitute the next stage in Facebook realizing its vision to eat the Internet and outsmart the competition.

Gone Corporate: On Life Support

Fade up to brightly lit emergency room, doctors and nurses scampering feverishly. DOC IN CHARGE (shouting): “Look alive, people, we’ve got a crushed soul here! Caucasian male, late 30s, history of autoimmune disease, long career in advertising. Went to Client side, and 10 months later suffering from severe damage to creative soul. Get the adrenaline and a good freelance client, STAT!”

Why the Creative Class is Especially Sad.

It’s not too much of a statement to call Steve Jobs the father of the modern creative class. The first thing I ever wanted to be was an illustrator and the first place I ever really practiced that craft was on my Apple IIc. This was in the early ’80s, and despite the fact that my mother owned a small ad agency at the time, it wasn’t clear to me that Illustrator was a conceivable profession.

Attract and Keep Customers With Great Content

The point of all this is to keep in touch with your target audience. If they're hearing from you on a regular basis, you're the one they will think of when they have moved to the buying phase of their journey.

Starbucks: The Way I See It Now

Starbucks brought back the Pumpkin Spice Latte. Here’s hoping they bring back “The Way I See It” cups next. Do you remember them? You’d order Starbucks and the cup would have a thought-provoking message from an author, poet, pundit, or blogger, among others. There were hundreds of different messages on the cups. Each cup sparked thought, conversation, agreement, anger; all kinds of emotions.

Connecting with Clients in the Digital Era: Viral Videos

I don’t like spamming my friends with commercials or propaganda, but earlier this month I did something I rarely do. I posted a commercial for State Farm Insurance on my Facebook page.

Go. Do. Learn.

The kids are back to school and it’s time for you relax, right? Wrong. It’s time for you to learn something, meet new people, and get inspired. Here are just a few of the upcoming events to check out.

How to Jump-Start Your Business Blog

The fact is that because of lack of time, commitment, or a good strategy, the majority of these blogs fail. Later, when a prospect finds these abandoned blogs — either through a forgotten link on the company's website or a search engine result — they’re left with a negative impression of the company.

Continuing Education: A Sustainable, Competitive Advantage

According to Arie de Gues, “Your ability to learn faster than your competition is your only sustainable competitive advantage.”
Now, to be honest, I am not even sure who Arie de Gues is, but I am thinking he is some sort of a genius. The problem is, far too many fail to heed his advice.

Blind Spots: Debunking Business Myths for Gen-Yers

I wish I had written this book. It’s desperately needed, has a built-in audience, and is written by a Gen-Yer for business Gen-Yers on the make for business success. My friend, Alexandra Levit, challenges the big ideas that so many believe but are so damned wrong.

How to Reach the Growing Hispanic Market

Suddenly, Hispanics are the new flavor of the month. The mainstream media, politicians, and advertisers are all trying to figure out how they can reach and profit from this growing, young market and it’s no longer an underground campaign.

Finishing School: A Few Basic Tips for Graduates

You may have caught me mentioning that my daughter graduated college this past spring. To refresh your memory: B.S. in Marketing — No Job. My daughter’s small, expensive private college has a good reputation. In better days they were able to boast a 95% job placement rate, in part due to having several loyal alumni who were very successful and inclined to hire graduates from their alma mater.

Subjectivity in Advertising: A Losing Proposition

The problem with the “advertising is subjective” argument is that it replaces intellectual rigor and research with a shoulder shrug and back-to-the-drawing-board mentality. Not good for profits or morale. But, as you have noticed, our industry is changing.

Gone Corporate: Escape Dreams

Some folks fantasize about the latest auto-tuned cutie on MTV. Some start going through their lunch options, because that hour away from the cubicle is more precious to them than The One Ring was to Gollum. And some of us dream of escape.

Inside an NYC Newsroom on 9/11

I was in the middle of writing an email when the executive producer of investigations walked past my office. "Did you see? A plane hit the World Trade Center," he said. I turned towards the TV in my office and, like everyone else, saw a distant shot of what appeared to be a small plane jammed into the building.

If You're Not Doing SEO, You're Leaving Money on the Table

If you’re not looking for new customers, then by all means, don’t do SEO. But in this economy, it’s the rare business that can sustain themselves through only existing customers!

Nerds: The Hottest Demographic in Marketing

I cannot live this lie any longer. It’s time for me to admit to the world who I am. This is my confession, and as I write it, I cannot help but wonder what my friends and colleagues will think of me after reading this. Most of all, I fear for how my girlfriend will react as I have worked so hard to hide this awful truth from her.

The Game Behind the Game

My advice to you is to put on some X-ray glasses and look past the dazzle of cool headlines, cool graphics, cool awards, and, of course, THE CONCEPT. Stop thinking about ads for just a minute — and start thinking about the business behind the ads.

Advertising with Roots

That house has good bones. That guitar has soul. That ad has roots. What is that intangible quality about certain things that makes them enduring, valued, and relevant after years of evolving culture?

Bad News Is Good News: Jump on the Wagon

Bad shit is everywhere. It’s unavoidable. The economy is in shambles, we still have millions of Americans without health insurance, unemployment sits at 9.2%, 43 out of 50 states are operating on a budget deficit, the Kardashians are still talking, our weather is unbearable, and I just learned that iTunes is no longer renting TV shows!

Don't Let Fear Kill Creativity in Your Business

As an owner, or manager or director, it's more important than ever to empower the people around you. I can't remember who I'm stealing this quote from, but I once read that the enemy of creativity is fear.

It's Time to Reinvent Your Business

When you start losing your base, you’re in trouble, and this doesn’t just apply to politics. It applies to every business — restaurants, retailers, lounges — you name it. If you notice a new hot spot is syphoning away customers, then you need to change something — your ambiance, music, specials, menu — and reinforce how your business has undergone a transformation.

Don't Just Make Noise: Build Your Business With Social Media

A friend posed a question a couple days ago (on Facebook, of course): “How easy it is to get caught up in the NOISE of Social Media? Being more concerned with how many events you check in at and how many "mentions" you receive is a dangerous practice. One day you could look up and realize that you made a lot of noise, and never really built a business.”

An Accidental Entrepreneur

Some people say that entrepreneurs are born. I don’t know if that’s true because I am neither a sociologist nor a behavioral scientist. I only know that in my case I tripped into it.

Partnerships: When, How, and Why to Say 'No'

Times have changed. Five years ago you would have asked — and received — the "going rate" for the slick appearance and profitable exposure a partnership with you and yours would generate. Now? You’re lucky to get a URL and a handshake.

Borders: A Brand Lesson Before Dying?

As someone who likes bookstores, I’m sad to see Borders bite the dust. As someone who works with brands, I’m intrigued with what went so horribly wrong with a brand that, at one time, seemed unstoppable.

Work for the Man? Or Be the Man?

Sooner or later, your ad career comes to this: work for the man and collect regular paychecks or be the man and make your own living. Given the current state of our industry, many are opting for the latter either by choice or by necessity. Are you unemployed? Are you unhappy in your ad job? You are my reader.

Every Business Needs Publicity: How to Get Some

Every business needs publicity to attract new customers. If you don’t grasp this concept as a fledging entrepreneur, your doors won’t stay open for long. Of course, how to get that publicity is the recipe every business owner aspires to discover.

The Smaller the PR Agency, the Bigger the Attention?

I recently spoke with a potential professional services client about her current PR strategy. Once she found out I was a PR person, she opened up and began to discuss all of her fears and concerns with her current (not-to-be-named) “celebrity”-owned, large-sized PR agency. She said she initially hired this agency on a recommendation from one of her industry organizations that the agency had done work for, not just on their reputation alone.

Google+: I (CIRCLE) You, You (CIRCLE) Me

I have three Facebook accounts. I have one for my liberal family and friends and another for the conservatives. I must keep them separate — or there will be blood! The third account is for following marketers that I find interesting. This means that I either have to log in and out of my accounts constantly or have three computers on at once.

Gone Corporate: 'Managing Perceptions'

I guess I should have known it would go this way. It’s CORPORATE, for gosh sakes. I just want a job where I write stuff I’m proud of, for clients who understand the value of written communication, for a company that appreciates me and what I can do for them.

How to Kill a Viral Video

Clients are always asking me to produce a video that will go viral. They throw out the word “viral” like it’s an ingredient you add to food. “Just add in a little salt.” Their request for a viral video is typically followed with guidelines that handcuff all of my creativity.

7 Reasons Why Bad SEO Advice Spreads Like Wildfire

Anyone who has read my Talent Zoo columns knows that part of my mission is to set the record straight about SEO. I’ve written many times about SEO myths that just won’t die. So today let’s look at why all this wrong-headed advice is so pervasive.

Finding My Quarter-Life Crisis

Last weekend, I put in somewhere around 12 hours on my freelance articles, eight of those on Sunday alone. I woke up, went out to brunch, came home, and for eight monstrous hours I did serious work on a project that is, for all intents and purposes, optional and unpaid. I didn't look at my Gmail every minute, or my Facebook, or my Twitter, or CNN, or even my Google Reader.

Two Great Guides to Master Social Media at Any Age

The Financial Times, a much-respected publishing house (whose news editors predicted today’s global economic mess years ago), has released two dead-tree editions on how to use social media to increase the bottom line and get rich and famous.

Get Your A$$ Back to Class: The Value of Lifelong Learning

The bad news for those looking for a career in copywriting: Ad school is not enough. You must know people. The good news: Your career will feel like gameplay and you’ll rarely spend a day dreading going to work. Or, you can go get a real job.

Lessons Learned from the Rupert Murdoch Scandal

News Corp. is on the verge of doing something not even its competitors could accomplish. It’s close to defeating itself. Just like the fall of the Roman Empire came from within, Rupert Murdoch’s global media empire is now teetering on collapse based on a public relations scandal that keeps getting worse by the day.

Fame as a Verb: How You Can Get There

Most of us type or talk without making an impression. Why bother if it all doesn't add up to something? Doesn't matter what you aspire to — be it in business, a hobby, or a relationship — you want to be the “go-to” person who makes the moves because others let them!

QR Codes: A Summertime Refresher

I have a long list of Things I Don’t Know that gets longer every time I look at it. This would be incredibly disheartening if it wasn’t for the fact that something is moving even faster than my own rush into old age: technology! This summer I decided to tackle a rudimentary understanding of mobile tech. When the printed circular from Bed Bath & Beyond has QR codes in it, it’s time to learn what’s what.

Creative Survival: Working from Home with Kids

We’re halfway through the kids’ summer vacation and I’m nearly at the end of my rope. The kids cooperate mostly and allow me the NUMBER of hours I need to get my work done, but I never seem to have enough of the uninterrupted long periods of time that I need. As anyone who has tried to do this knows, your day is a series of stops to redirect your attention and back again.

How to Manage Your Personal Brand

This is an unexpected offshoot of the personal branding bonanza: It is unwittingly training an entire generation of people in the principles and practices of proper online brand management. But what is it about this training that seems to make it so much more effective than the training received by many marketers?

Art and Commerce...Process and Meaning

At The Wilderness we use fine arts as a model to shape our work for television, the Web, and new media, much of which is purely image-based and typically driven by music. This allows us to sacrifice logical narrative structures and embrace a visual approach. Taking a fine arts approach can impart a purity and sincerity that advertising so often lacks.

Gone Corporate: The Power of Ego

We all have an ego — some bigger than others, whether reality-based or not. In the creative fields, you run into all kinds. Throughout my advertising career, I’ve run into egomaniacal geniuses, overly confident dummies, and humble folks who crank out great work. (Which am I? I’ll leave that to my biographer.) Now that I’m on the client side, I’m dealing a lot with three unique types of coworker egos.

How to Avoid the Wrath of Google

Talent Zoo readers may or may not be familiar with some major updates that Google has made over the past few months, dubbed “Panda.” The changes have wreaked havoc with some websites’ Google traffic. I’ve analyzed a number of sites that have been seeing fewer visitors from Google since the Panda update, and I thought I’d share some of my findings so that you can avoid having your site “Pandalized.”

Facebook eCommerce: The Data Says 'Go Viral'

Most businesses launching stores on Facebook are failing to make the most of its viral nature. Quite simply, they don’t have the social tools required to do it. This results in lost opportunities and ultimately lost sales. Launching a Facebook shopping cart simply gets a merchant in the game. The goal should be to make a store go viral.

Crisis Communications: The Truth Be Told

What happens when a reporter asks a question you don’t want to answer? Do you: A) Ignore the question. B) Tell a favorable story, even if it means you are lying. C) Tell the truth, even if it means your business or image could be harmed. The answer should be simple.

'Can I Fax You The Check?': Memorable Lines from the Trenches

Back in the Tarnished Age of Advertising — approximately 17 years after the Golden Age died — I owned a small “boutique” ad agency. It was after those glory days when all account execs at the bigger companies had a drinking problem, even if they didn’t, because every day at lunch they either drank, or pretended to drink, five martinis. Martinis were reasonably priced; call girls...not so much. But procurement was part of the job, too.

It's Not Only About You. It's Also About Them.

“What if we tried…?” “I was thinking more like…” “What if we…?” Phrases like these are often heard floating around client meetings. It’s hard as a creative to take client creative direction with a grain of salt, especially since we’ve probably spent the past XX(X) number of hours creating concepts/executions/etc. for them, are lacking in sleep, and could probably use a stiff drink.

These Colors Don't Run: When Brand Loyalty Backfires

It's happening and there's nothing I can do to stop it. The transition from my bank to its new corporate face hits my neighborhood beginning in July, and I am pissed. Obviously I’ve had plenty of warning. Slowly, my accounts have migrated to the stagecoach. Gently, I’ve been reminded that I can bank in over 22,000 branches nationwide.

Using Social Media to Build Trust in Your Brand

The Internet has turned what used to be a controlled, one-way brand building effort into a dialog that can potentially reach hundreds of thousands of people. No longer can a company just run a series of television commercials or buy print ads to convince consumers its product is best.

Will Direct Response Save Advertising?

Last week I read a great op-ed piece in The Boston Globe by Alex Poulos called “Mad Men of the Future.” He makes several excellent observations, but overall, the article paints a pretty dreary picture of life in 2031 when technology will have allowed advertising to reach unbearable levels of intrusiveness.

Multitasking: The Silent Productivity Killer!

I have a multitasking addiction and don’t know what to do about it. A friend of mine jumped all over me the other day for missing her birthday...for the second year in a row. Not so, I told her, I distinctly remember writing a very heartfelt email (ok, it was not an actual birthday card, but it was a start) acknowledging her special day. She was adamant in telling me that she never received it.

Using Social Media to Develop Your Content Marketing Strategy

Social media's growing dominance compels marketers to abandon their old hard sell in favor of a content-driven marketing conversation that can facilitate meaningful brand relationships with customers and prospects. In this challenging environment, content is a key tool to foster relationships, but publishing a blog, creating a Facebook fan page, or launching a Twitter feed is only the beginning.

Crisis Communications Done Wrong

As a crisis communications consultant, here’s one thing I can say with certitude about the Anthony Weiner situation: Weiner’s handling of this scandal has been a botched case from day one and his media advisors should be fired.

Why Having a Strong Brand Voice Is the Best Way to Connect With Consumers

The more people can relate to the brand as a distinctive, trust-worthy personality (read, individual), the more approachable it will become, and a deeper customer relationship (loyalty and engagement) will develop.

Gone Corporate: Creativity? What's That?

So another department opens a project with Marketing, seeking name ideas for an internal blog they were starting. The purpose of the blog was to keep the department’s employees up-to-date on a major change occurring over the next few months. The email actually stated that “we need a fancy, schmancy title, or at least something cool, for the project.”

Setting the Record Straight About SEO

Never forget that at the end of the day, you want more visitors to your website who are interested in what’s offered there. While high rankings in the search engines can be the vehicle for driving that traffic, it’s not the goal in and of itself.

The Benefits of Microblogging

Although blogging continues to be one of the most effective marketing strategies that can be employed, it is critical to note that a shift is taking place. Instead of content writers focusing most of their time on formatting and crafting traditional, lengthy blog posts, they are supplementing that content with microblog posts.

Bringin' Back a Little Humility

Here’s the thing: in our industry, we’re competing on an hour-by-hour basis. The larger the ad agency, the more cutthroat the competition. The problem with this is that advertising folk build mountains of ego around themselves in an effort to protect the seeping insecurity and can’t leave it at their desk at night.

Ten Assumptions That Lead to More Effective Ads

Traditionally, the tools for calibrating images, messages, concepts, and media choices were multiple forms of qualitative and quantitative market research and media-usage ratings filtered through creative gut instinct.

Everything I Know, I Learned from YouTube

It started when I asked my daughter, “How do you know how to do all the technical and design things you know?” She was graduating with a marketing degree and had not taken any graphic design courses, but she is way better at Photoshop than I am. That’s when she said those seven little words that have been haunting me ever since.

Why You Need to be More Mediagenic

With so much potential to be tapped, it makes sense that all your marketing should be designed to be mediagenic. Don’t think of PR in a vacuum. Run everything you do through this mindset. In many cases the idea is to make news around your product or brand.

Some Things Can Be Half-@ssed...Your Online Presence Can't

As a working-from-home-Mom, I certainly know that some things just have to be half-assed. Multi-tasking requires that you don’t give 100% effort to one thing, but instead give a percentage of that effort to several things at one time. However, we all know there are some things that really require our complete attention and effort.

The New Low in Business Etiquette: Stealing Without Aplomb

Like you, everything I do is personal. But when folks start ripping off business from me and making my industry look bad by the manner in which the thievery is committed, I decide to take action.

10 Tips for Getting Through a Group Interview

Group or panel interviews, as they are also called, can screen applicants faster, reduce bad hiring decisions, save money, save time, and it’s even claimed that “two heads or more are better than one.” Be prepared, whether you are informed or not, for what you may encounter. Follow these tips should you ever find yourself facing a group interview.

80 Years Later: What Have We Learned From Neil McElroy's Memo?

In 1931, a simple statement of common sense gave birth to the idea of brand management. Marketers have been struggling to get their heads around it ever since.

7 SEO Myths That Just Won't Die

While the search engines don’t provide us with their secret ranking formula, some website techniques can easily be tested to see if they are a ranking signal in Google. Here are seven website strategies that my years of experience and tests have proven to be completely ineffective.

Too Much of a Good Thing...Is a Bad Thing

A very common tactic when disclosing one’s weaknesses (one admittedly used by myself on more than one occasion) is to express oneself as having an excessive amount of a positive trait or as overusing a skill or competency. This may seem like a safe strategy, but there are still pitfalls waiting with this tactic.

Screens, Screens, Everywhere

The iPad has thrust us into age of tablet computers and large format portable screens. We’ll just have to see if advertising can live up to the challenges of this space in a new and interesting way. I think it has to, unless it wants to go the way of the Palm III. Or IV.

Gone Corporate: On the Outside Looking In

This is a business where people with egos get their souls crushed. It’s an industry that praises the few bastions of creativity with awards, even though it’s equally important to be strategically sound and get something they call “results.” Heck, it’s a business that you can fall in and out of, based on geography and economic climate and your own skill set.

Get Hooked Up! Marketing = Relationships

Marketing has always been about relationships. Sure, in The Dark Ages we didn’t have so-called friends on Facebook who liked us by pressing a button or followers on Twitter who are able to form a deep, personal relationship while limited to 140 characters. But everything was about relationships.

Staying On Top of Social Media Trends

The urgency to stay on top of what is going on with Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, and the relentless need for content to fuel blogs, is the most difficult part of social media marketing. Change is constant and the social media marketer must know as much as they can to get the greatest exposure for their clients.

Why Videos are Changing the Face of Public Relations

Think Kennedy, Clinton, and Obama: politicians made for the TV era. But we are in a new era—the Internet era—and every local politician now has a chance to use the same powerful medium to persuade even the smallest of constituencies. TV advertising is no longer for the well-funded campaigns.

Don't Tell My Folks I Work In Advertising

It’s a sad commentary when, in the midst of an economic meltdown, one’s chosen profession ranks below lawyers and bankers and even those working in whorehouses in terms of perceived ethics and honesty.

A Messy Desk = A Creative Mind

Do you have a messy desk? That’s a good thing. Consider it a sign of an ingenious person who thinks outside the desk lines. I’ll bet you know where everything is, as each pile signifies its glorious own category.

The Great Promotions Revival

The great evolution of digital media integration has created many opportunities for companies and marketers. Those enhanced opportunities are about interaction and engagement with customers, and engagement is about promotion.

Learning the Language of Your New Industry

What do you do when your word bank shifts? You may have recently moved on from a niche audience, only to find yourself drowning in a sea of unfamiliar, industry-specific jargon. The act of writing copy, an act that once made you feel like you were in the driver’s seat of a luxury car, now makes you feel like you are in the back of some ancient bus.

Oh No She Didn't: Overcoming Three Writer-Editor Disputes

As a writer, your relationships with editors probably fall into one of those two categories. When you and your editor are on the same page (pun intended), your gratitude toward your “second set of eyes” is infinite. When you disagree, it may feel like the world is conspiring against you.

Beware the Machines: Creative Commerce and Our Gadgetry

An advertising teacher of mine once told my class something way back in the mid-1990s that still sort of rings true. “Don’t get too dependent on computers. Because your computer will [screw] you, sooner or later.” This was told to us in the pre-flatscreen, pre-iPhone, pre-WiFi era.

Innovate or Die: Forward-Thinking is Survival

“The Time to Innovate is NOW” read the headline in a recent Wall Street Journal. It was for a special report on healthcare. It could have been the headline for any industry, any company and—hopefully this hits home—your career.

Cyber-Bullying: It's Not Just for Tweens Anymore

If you spend any time online, at some point you have experienced someone trying to scam you in one way or other, especially if you are a blogger. So what would you do if someone tried to blackmail you for a link on your website? Ignore them, right?

SEO Consultants and the User Experience

When you think of SEO professionals, do you have an image of a greasy used-car salesperson in your head? If so, you’re not alone. SEOs are often talked about in a bad light, but often for good reason.

Partner Up and Grow Your Business

I, like many graphic designers, work alone (mostly). It's generally a productive arrangement. There are, however, some downsides to the sole proprietor arrangement. Inevitably, assuming you push to further your business's success, a project will arise for which you will need a partner

Gone Corporate: Marketing Killed the Radio Star

In an endless stream of email alerts and feature articles about successful co-workers, a client-side copywriter doesn’t have many projects to get excited about. But one day, a shining beacon of light infiltrates the dark gray clouds: the radio spot.

Getting Paid the Freelancer's Way

Everyone everywhere wants to get paid for his or her work quickly and in full. With more professionals turning to freelancing as a new career path or to supplement income, it’s important to have systems in place to collect payment.

Mommy Bloggers and the Loss of Nuance

There’s no denying that mommy bloggers have become marketing heavyweights, but I can think of many examples where the voices of mommy bloggers just don’t matter. Here’s the problem: In the quest to find this influencer du jour, you may actually be missing out on the real influencers for your market.

SXSW Special: Collaborative Frameworks

When you let your community design the experience they desire, they are much more invested in your product, service, or event. In exchange for an increased level of access and ownership, they will become your most ardent supporters and marketers.

How To Fire a Freelance Client

As your freelance or consulting business grows, not all of the clients you have today will stay with you forever. But how do you shake off old clients who still want to use your services, even though you're ready to move on? You need to come right out and "fire" them!

Why Great Salespeople Don't Always Make Great Marketers

Running your marketing as if it were just sales on a bigger scale may seem intuitively pleasing, but in practice it is becoming increasingly difficult to compete with this strategy. The best way to support sales is to ensure sales plays its role in the context of a complete marketing program.

Workplace Logic for the Creative Personality

Have you experienced a downside to your creative personality? Or have you learned to manage your artistic and verbal flair in ways that enhance the workplace? Here are a few suggestions for the CP who seeks acceptance in the workplace.

The 5% Solution: Ignore Them

Every time your organization makes a change, launches a new product, or creates a new event, it stands to reason that you alienate 5% of consumers. The Frustrated 5%. So, what do you do?

The Ins and Outs of Seeking and Starting a New Job

Even though companies are changing, there are a few personal behaviors that are always “out” and always “in,” both in your interview and as a newcomer to the company. Here are some “outs” and “ins” to remember, whether you’re seeking or starting a job this Monday.

Pay Parity and the 'Mancession'

The past few years of record-breaking job loss has been coined a “Mancession” because the bulk of lost jobs mostly affected men. Women may have lost a smaller percentage of jobs than men since 2008, but buck up, boys: Women have been dealing with low-wage work and lower pay for eons.

Your Online Profile Is Your Resume

Online profiles are the new resumes, and you need to be able to market yourself effectively. Establishing credibility and visibility in your field—whether you’re looking for a job or not—is essential to building beneficial relationships and elevating your online presence.

Give 'Em Hope: Selling Good Vibes

It takes more than medicine to make patients feel good. It takes positive imagery. It takes advertising creative that touches emotional chords and speaks to the real needs of the consumer base.

Do It Like A Rock Star: The Importance of Setting Goals

The only way to reach success is to set gradual goals for yourself, put the work in to achieve them, and never let the rejections bring you down. That’s true in any industry. If you have a passion for something, you go for it—at any age.

Work-Life Balance for the Home Office

Work-life balance is too important to be left in the hands of your employer. Working from home can spell failure, however. You need to be able to walk a fine line to ensure that you have time for your family alongside running a successful business in your home.

Gone Corporate: The Co-Worker as Client

On the corporate side, your clients are other marketing people, the HR department, maybe even the IT squad. They work for the same company as you, and the same CFO signs both their checks and yours. So how do you deal?

The Copywriter: A Day in the Life

It’s 11 a.m. Why isn't he writing? Words are needed. The account teams want them. The client expects them. And they had better be good.

Change Your Mind Before You Change Your Job

When your career is right, do you really know it? Can job nirvana ever be found through career counseling, personality analysis, or cosmic color-code quizzes? Or is it more likely that we already know what we’re supposed to be doing?

Avoid These 10 Tagline Trip-Ups

If used well, taglines will resonate for decades and build an emotional connection with your consumers. But if you make one of these tagline mistakes or your tagline has these qualities, it’s guaranteed that you’ll turn off more people than you’ll connect.

It's a Brand New Bag for PR Pros

It’s a new world, baby! As we get to the bottom of the first month of the new decade (the world did not start at zero), changes are afoot for PR practice pros, and faster than ever before.

5 DIY Marketing Careers

Web-based marketing is creating new marketing needs, and with new needs come new opportunities. Here are five DIY careers for experienced marketers who can write.

The Tease: Leaking Big Ads Before The Big Game

As competition has grown and technology has experienced innovation, one can often access new commercials on a clandestine website before their actual release. The ads are represented as information being “leaked,” as if exposed through a tabloid or a bootleg version of the latest blockbuster movie.

SEO Q&A: Search Rankings, Title Tags, and Keyword Targets

Between my SEO newsletter and my SEO forum, I answer a lot of questions from site visitors. Here are some frequently asked SEO questions, along with some variable factors to take into consideration, and my “basic answer.”

Super Bowl XLV: The Ads That Won the Night

Many premium spots today often completely fail to bolster branding, invoke a correlating emotion, associate an appropriate lifestyle, or even feature the product in action. The goal of this column is to laud the Super Bowl spots that achieved any or all of those aforementioned qualities. Some of these might surprise you.

Super Bowl Ads: Why 2011 Won't Be Like 1984

Keeping it real—that’s what most of us do. We toil independently, slave away at an agency, or work in marketing for a company. Our reality is doing our jobs on a shoestring. So how can you survive and thrive in this brave new world of marketing and advertising?

Is $3M for a Super Bowl Spot Worth It?

From a marketing and business standpoint: in a world that’s all about apps, tweets, and analytics, the answer to the three-million-dollar question may come down to something as old as time—creativity.

Stop the Exposition. Do Something.

Everyone has grand dreams. Exciting plans. They explain their idea to friends, family, and anyone who will listen. They talk about it endlessly. They pontificate on its merits, its "forward-thinking-ness." But most often, they don't DO anything. They're just talk.

Onboarding the New Exec

How do we attract new customers without alienating current ones? How do we remain true to our brand when we launch a new product category? How can we be viewed as an authority when we’re newcomers? These questions are not easily answered. Only by having the right leader in place can a company truly create change.

'Get Down To Business and You'll Get the Job'

Kim Bishop has written an effective handbook for job seekers at all levels. Jam-packed with tips and suggestions, links to online and offline resources, and practical advice to calm your nerves and focus your search, this is the book for anyone who wants to get their next job early in 2011.

Gone Corporate: First Impressions

I used to be in advertising. Shorts and flip-flops. Loose policies on most things. Now I've gone corporate. In this column, I'm going to report on "what it's like on the client side" for someone who's used to the wild and wacky agency world.

Start Small: Define Your Goals for Social Media

What is it exactly that you want to see from your social media efforts? The first step for any marketing tactic is to have a plan with goals. You don’t go into a PPC campaign blindly, so you don’t want to do the same with social media.

“It’s What You Learn After You Know It All That Counts”

Continuing education is possible if you make it a priority. Don’t let the excuse that you’re too busy cost you future jobs. Take the steps necessary to keep your skills current, and it will pay off.

Act Natural: Grow Your Brand By Doing What You Already Do!

Think about what you already do well, or have done well in the past—be it photography, teaching, or collecting—and go for it. Realize you can expand your brand and make some extra income—or even a living—doing it.

How to Turn Your Marketing Up To '11

Brands that master these four trends now will gain significant ground in 2011, and beyond. This year, it is the strategic use of online assets that will chart a course for the brands that will prevail by the time 2012 rolls around.

The End of Bad Contracts (or, Money Tips for Creatives)

Like pro athletes, advertising creatives are notoriously bad when it comes to figuring out money, especially when it pertains to their employment contracts. Unlike pro athletes, however, we don’t have agents and managers to help us. With that in mind, here are a few tips.

What's a Girl To Do (For a Job)?

Now that I’ve been unemployed longer than I care to mention (though not long enough for Glenn Beck to hear me say, “Want fries with that?”), I’m wondering how to get an advertising job when you have lots of experience, but limited nepotism.

You're Bound to Lose Website Traffic If...

Both clients and consultants have a vested interest in the SEO success of your website and your business, and want to increase the targeted traffic to your website, not reduce it!

Gain Control Over Your Career Search

When it comes to career management, we all know that we should put our best foot forward. Unfortunately, too many tend to focus more on how to interact in an interview than on the other steps in the process. Put some thought into the messages you create while you’re seeking a career.

Show and Tell: The Evolution of Integrated Marketing Campaigns

Simultaneously promoting a brand through different forms of media, or integrated marketing communication (or IMC), is not a new concept. In fact, IMC is practically demanded in the current marketplace.

With Groupon, Who Needs Advertising?

Groupon is the kind of idea you hear and go, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Who wants to pay for ideation, production, printing, postage, media buying, and other related costs when you can accomplish the same with a “charge less” approach? Groupon is here and we must live with it.

Less Mass, More Media

Smaller media is more personal, more intimate, and far more entertaining than most of what’s on TV. Apple got it right when it affixed the letter “i” to its latest products. iPod, iPad, iTunes…whatever comes next will be very much personal, customizable, and desirable to an audience of one. Thus, the state of mass media in 2011.

Hello. Welcome to 2011. Let's Get Started!

People have been waiting to start anew. We wish to take up the challenges—tall, grande and venti—that we have put off since we started a decade that was, at best, less meaningful than the prior ones. We won’t get on with progress until we have the excuse of a new decade. It’s here now.

Your Creativity is Not Defined by the Medium You Work In

There’s a school of thought among some advertising professionals and clients that it takes a specific type of creative person to create great advertising for a specific medium; i.e., it takes a great print writer to write long copy or it takes a digital writer to write great digital or... That’s pure crap.

Mama Said Knock You Out: Goodbye to 'Email Blasts'

Is a rant about the term “email blast” really necessary? I think so. That name for email campaigns has been in use for far too long and should be put to rest. It has no place in today’s email world of sophisticated software.

Stay Out of Court: 4 Essential Elements of a Freelance Contract

Not having a contract in place to protect your interests will put you at an immediate and distinct disadvantage in settlement negotiations -- or even at trial.

Before You Spend a Single Dime on Marketing, Do This First

Countless millions are squandered on campaigns to generate leads, yet little to nothing is spent on the back-end sales system or follow-up.

Shift + 4 and Succeed in 2011

Freshen up your mind, your body. Challenge. Destroy old ways and see how this makes you think brighter, too.

Who’s the Decider?: Influencer Marketing in a Poor Economy

As brands are fighting even harder for a shrinking amount of disposable income, connecting with as many of the influencers towards a major or even minor purchase becomes that much more crucial.

Crowdsourcing and the Creative Ego

Crowdsourcing will never, ever replace the outstanding work you do. The sooner you embrace that fact, the sooner you will be able to see it for what it simply is: an effective tactic.

Ten Ways to Optimize Your Digital Marketing In 2011

Focus on these ten topics to ensure success in your digital marketing efforts in the New Year.

Change Can Be Good. Kindness, Better.

Part of being a good manager is knowing when not to touch something. To stop overworking a job, and its creator, and STEP AWAY FROM the drawing board.

The Changing Nature of Relationship Building

All too often, people assume putting up a profile constitutes effective networking. Whenever I hear that sort of description in regard to social networking, I usually reply, “When’s the last time you sought out an advertisement?”

3 Blogging Mistakes to Avoid

Blogging should be done because there are topics that you’re passionate about, which you want to tell others about. This enables you to write compelling, interesting posts on a regular basis, which in turn can bring you more visitors from search engines.

You Know Nothing About Quid Pro Quo! (A Rant From Me)

Back when we sent messages through the U.S. mail, oh about a million years ago, it was possible to think through precisely what we wanted to say. Now, our written communication is disposable.

In Defense of Kanye West: Marketing Genius

The old model of celebrity branding (which has now become the default model for all branding) is as follows...

Marketing’s Future and What It Means For Advertising

I’m here this Saturday to splash cold water on your face and open your eyes to what’s ahead for advertising and, more importantly, preach where you fit in.

Me 2.0 - Dan Schawbel

Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future by Dan Schawbel is a must read for business owners and employees alike. And, as an employer who has the displeasure of seeing the same bland résumé after résumé, a definite read for those in transition.

Career Advice: Stop Listening to the Social Media Experts and Start Watching Andy Griffith

Marketing is in a state of flux. And in that state, the most valuable skills a marketer can bring to his employer are an open mind and willingness to change.

7 Proofreading Methods for Lazy Proofreaders

Here are seven proofreading methods that help produce error-free writing.

'Romper Room' or Frat House? Sophomoric Behavior in the Creative Department Is Nothing New

Either way, what is it about creatives that make us -- at times -- so juvenile?

Infusing Trends Into Your Brand

While every project presents its own challenges, this process can help marketers apply the right trend to a brand's living space.

Dear Candidate: Here's Why You Didn't Get the Job

The key thing is to engage in a conversation, not a sales pitch of what you have done and what you will do for them.

PR's Reliance on Automation

The question that PR pros should be asking themselves is whether or not embracing a trend that's not mutually beneficial for both the client and the agency is in anyone's long-term best interests.

Slouching Toward Brand Accountability

Many departments within a corporation will argue the need for accountability in marketing, but none steps forward to take ownership of how to account for brand equity.

Measuring the Intangible for Intangible Results

Most business owners have a feel for how some of the more intangible factors either help or hinder their performance.

What's a Newspaper?

Media consumption is changing faster than anyone has ever imagined.

Which Brands Have the Most Loyal Customers?

Brands that understand how real emotional connections serve as a surrogate for added value will create stronger loyalty bonds no matter what the economy is like.

Why Lack of Privacy Can Hinder Creativity

The fact that full-time workers spend more time with one other than with loved ones is exactly why businesses should honor privacy.

Marketers: Visit China Before China Visits You

This is not our parents' China. This is something else entirely.

What CEOs Can Learn From Designers

CEOs need designers to teach them about the industry and culture.

Analyzing Advertising Strategy: Car Insurance

Today, we’ll look at the top players and what they are doing to sign up more drivers, in no particular order.

Why You Should Pass on a ‘Spec’ Opportunity

Lest you think I'm just preaching from the pulpit and not speaking of experience, like many PR pros, I went there earlier in my career.

LinkedIn With POTUS

I blinked a little incredulously. Barack Obama, the President of the United States, on LinkedIn?

How Effective Advertising Builds Brands

The message and positioning is key to ensuring that the ad resonates and connects.

Six Things You May Be Doing on a Conference Call That You Shouldn't

Be sure to avoid these six mistakes while on a conference call.

Moby Died for Our Sins: The Fabulousness of Selling Out

No one bothers to bat an eyelash when people "sell out," because the mere idea of selling out is marrying the American Dream to American Laziness.

Bake Your SEO Into Your Website Design

Here are just a few SEO strategies you’ll want to make sure your website developer understands how to implement into your new site.

Web Video -- The Most Powerful Medium Online

Did you know that 64 percent of people will finish watching up to a 30-minute commercial video clip versus 24 percent who will finish reading an article?

Just in Time for Winter: The Amish Fireplace!

Sensational ad copy -- and by sensational I mean flowery and deceiving -- still has a place in Ad land, even if it’s alongside a horse and buggy.

The Marriage of Reality TV and PR and The Race to the Bottom

The result of a perfectly executed PR campaign is the absence of a PR agency’s fingerprints.

Seven Unspoken Truths About Social Media

As we grope our way forward to embrace, understand, and use social media as an efficient marketing channel, we have to recognize that hype and wishful thinking are far ahead of the reality.

Big Money Wins by a Landslide in Politics

For those of us in the copywriting craft, they’re a creative throwback. It’s really not advertising as much as it's pure propaganda.

Fat and Old Websites and What to do About Them

Throw out the site map, build to search, and innovate beyond the ordinary website.

Are You Branding With Your Message?

As long as you focus on the media, you can be assured that you are wasting your advertising. You have to focus on the message.

The Argument Against Embracing Failure

The key is to learn from failing and then act on that learning; without those, you’re just showing up and you might as well not have done anything in the first place.

Quantity or Quality? Six Ways Brands Can Quantify the Reach of Social Networks

Here are the six biggest topics for the next phase of the ongoing marketing conversation.

The Problem With Working at an Agency

How do you explain the raging egos that rear their ugly heads all too often in this business?

Is Facebook the New E-mail?

When you want to reach out to someone today online, with a menu of communications capabilities (figuratively speaking) arrayed in front of you, which button do you push?

Don’t Forget These Online Marketing Basics!

Marketing, for the most part, is common sense, but we make it so difficult.

Will the iPad Save Our Newspapers? Sorry, There’s Not an App for That.

Making a brand relevant in the digital age is not so much about understanding digital content distribution technology as it is about understanding the digital user.

Is Your Writing Bland?

Unfortunately, creativity isn’t always born once you’ve had your morning coffee and sit happily with your fingers resting on your keyboard.

Creating Campaigns With Lasting Impact

This is not an instance of a brand trying to be something it is not.

How President Obama Flubbed the Mosque Debate

President Obama's gaffe -- or at least that's what I perceive it as -- illustrates an age-old conflict in PR about responding in a crisis.

Why Can’t We Be Friends?

In today’s world of social media, brands can skip the whole advertising process and flat out ask you to be friends.

Using Social Media to Develop Your Content Marketing Strategy

How can you deliver great content that will attract and retain loyal customers? Start thinking like a publisher. The following tips should help you start your journey in the right direction.

Jerry Lewis’ Four Social Media Marketing Lessons

Along with the French, I love Jerry Lewis, not only because he’s an incredible comic, but because he is the original social media marketer who still has a lot to teach us.

SEO for Today and Tomorrow

Good, professional SEO that puts users first while keeping search engines in mind will never be considered spam by any stretch of a search engineer's imagination.

Why Good Ads Are Often Loved and Hated

Ads are subjective -- like music or art -- and some will love certain styles and messages, while others will hate the exact same ad.

Need Inspiration? Break Away From Your Comfort Zone

We all have to be wary of becoming experts only at the same things about which everyone in our crowd is also an expert

Six Signs the Recession Is Ramming Us Once More

Here is a look at how to recognize that we are back in the throes of a tough time, when we need to rely on our own instincts.

Choosing Between Personal Happiness and Success

In the past several months, I have interviewed with digital, PR, and advertising agencies that run the gamut of size and recognition.

Great Ad Buys That Marketers Overlook

In the current economy, all marketers are dealing with tighter budgets. The dollars have to go further, faster.

The Absolute Best Way to Get More Value From Your Ad Agency

Having spent my entire adult life inside ad agencies, I know for a fact that the biggest asset any advertiser has is the enthusiasm of their ad agency.

Smart Is a Really Stupid Strategy

We should take a stand against sloppy thinking, and planners should lead the charge in critiquing themselves.

Don Draper Gets His Hat Handed to Him by Advertising Age, but Then Comes Back for More!

All were atwitter over the “Mad Men” premier this summer, because so much of the story had to do with moody Don Draper’s bungled interview with Advertising Age.

Why HP’s Crisis Response Missed the Mark

While the company certainly hoped Hurd's departure would make the issue disappear and allow the firm to return to normal, in some ways, it's been anything but that.

Last week: Creative Professionals Put to the Test. This week: Agencies Put to the Test.

Whenever you interview with an agency or company, these are the questions that employers need to answer.

Facebook, I'm Just Not That Into You

I have to admit I started my relationship with you because of intense peer pressure and media hype.

The Evolution of Advertising

Gone are the days when the vast majority of eyeballs could be counted on to see your creative brilliance in a newspaper, magazine, billboard, or TV.

Creative Professionals Put to the Test. Literally.

The kind of testing I’m referring to is company and agency tests that creative professionals must take in order to be hired. I think we’re witnessing an upswing in these tests. Why?

Four Ways to Cope With Procurement

The world will never return to the old days, so use these four tactics to make the process easier, friendlier, and more productive.

Advertisers: Are They Dreammakers or Frenemies?

Advertisers evoke our desires by creating dreams for us, also known as commercials, billboards, banners, and the like.

Why Nerds Are the Hottest Demographic in Marketing

Blind passion is reason why a Storm Trooper will never show up at a Trekkie convention, and it is why we are likely the most brand-loyal consumers who exist.

Then the Bullsh*t Stopped

Most people have yet to learn there is a yawning gap between writing and typing.

Ten Tips for Choosing an Agency

CMOs and marketing directors are faced with a decision that gets harder every year -- how to choose an agency. It’s a challenge that surpasses swings in the economy or geographic orientation.

Moving Beyond Using Social Media Like Traditional Media

The rush of brands wanting to add social media components to their advertising campaigns is quite sickening. Have we really not evolved beyond the methods used in TV, print, and radio?

Sorry, You Are Not a Marketing Professional (and Neither Am I)

Since I started in marketing, I’ve been amazed at our inability, as marketers, to communicate with one other effectively.

And Now for Some Common Sense SEO

Everything we do in SEO has a purpose, and that purpose is to make the site better than it is so that the search engines will like it better.

Ten Assumptions That Lead to More Effective Ads

Traditionally, the tools for calibrating images, messages, concepts, and media choices were multiple forms of qualitative and quantitative market research and media-usage ratings filtered through creative gut instinct.

Is Social Media Really Bankable?

Social media now resonates with business because it is in keeping with the market’s need to reach the right parties in the optimal venues at the appropriate times with the preferred messaging mix.

BP Spill Likely to Serve as Template for Bad Crisis PR

We all know that this disaster will rank as the worst environmental catastrophe in our country's history. At this point, I'd say the public relations response will also rank as one of the worst as well.

How to Be in the Right Place at the Right Time

If you genuinely care about the job that you do, you naturally will stand out as an asset in that field -- opening yourself up to future opportunities.

Smart TV: What’s Behind Google’s Set-Top Box?

Chrome will enable TV viewers to interact with media in new ways. At its core, it enables you to use search to navigate channels and programs.

The Focus Group Has Decided the Focus Group Is Dead

Focus groups ask for people’s honesty in an artificial environment. This is a problem.

Guppies F*cking and the New Hybrid

I work for the day when of all my colleagues are hybrids, with digital folks thinking high concept and their creative counterparts respecting utility.

Ways to Improve Your Facebook Ad Campaign

Most users are in a test-and-learn mode experimenting with the nuances of the Facebook platform and trying to fit this channel into an integrated brand message or marketing strategy.

How BP Failed Social Media 101

Social Media is not a soapbox for corporations to stand upon to trumpet quarterly reports, new branch openings, or generalities that fall under the “Look how great we are” category.

How You Can Stop Wasting 50 Percent of Your Advertising

With so many different ways to communicate with consumers, there seems to be a temptation to jump right into the conversation of where to advertise. What tactics will be best for marketing?

How to Fame

Today, standing out means standing up and beating competitors to the punch -- doing homework and/or research.

Paging J.J. Abrams! We're Stuck Between Parallel Ad Universes

Can’t we unite our parallel ad universes into one universe? Marketing to one is the future, and the future is now. Make the ad about one thing -- results.

Don't Be Fooled: PR Is Not All About Relationships

Ever since the PR industry stood by while this reputation of PR pros as being little more than people who “smile and dial” took hold, there's been a notion that if you aren't friends with someone, they won't take your call and won't run your story.

The Secret to Executing Your Writing Goals

I won’t leave you hanging. The secret to creating the best possible piece of writing is the ability to believe in yourself.

With So Many Specialized Agencies, Who Should Get Your Marketing Dollars?

Today, the various services that make up a marketing campaign are siloed among so many specialized players that one must ask who manages the big picture.

Four Key Metrics to Gauge Your Social Media Initiative

These four vectors shape the utility of social media mining and transform raw data into useful intelligence that can be nimbly applied to messaging, marketing, and media.

Pay Your Freakin’ Interns!

Interns can be invaluable in many ways, and that means they have value and should be compensated accordingly. Besides, it’s just the right thing to do.

Measuring Your Marketing Efforts With Google Analytics

If you’re wondering whether your marketing efforts are paying off, rather than guess, be sure to review the information provided by your Web analytics program.

Which Department Should Run Your Social Media Campaign?

The reality is that in 2010, public relations departments are actually the ones pulling the strings when it comes to social media budgets and strategies.

Advertising Today Is Less Interested in Legs, More Interested in Tits

Back when building a brand supposedly took time, it was deemed critical that marketing ideas have legs, particularly advertising campaigns.

The Real Issue Is a lot Bigger Than Facebook

Facebook may be the most high-profile flash point where the notion that everything on the Internet is (or ought to be) free runs smack into financial reality.

How BP's "Beyond Petroleum" Branding Strategy Became an Epic Failure

If an oil company is not 100 percent committed to dealing with any potential catastrophic disaster, how can it contemplate building the brand before it has addressed the basics of the business?

Facebook Privacy

Is Crowdsourcing Good for the Ad Business?

With crowdsourcing for creative ideas, mass collaboration is missing. It’s a contest to produce the best idea or the cheapest labor.

Make Your Marketing Magnetic

The best message in the world isn’t effective if it does not resonate and is not seen or heard by its intended consumer.

What's More Important: Your Services or Your Personality?

Building media awareness about your business, rather than yourself, is the newest way to drive deals.

No Matter How PR Evolves, Message Remains King

Rather than continually debating what the future of PR will be like and how the status quo can be maintained, I urge everyone getting into the business, and even those practicing now, to think more about what you're saying than ever before.

Facebook's New Privacy Policy: Good or Evil?

My mind, it seems, has split into two distinct personalities: the marketer and the consumer.

Change Your Job Description to a List of Accomplishments

In describing your accomplishments, you are describing the benefits that the hiring manager might expect to see if he or she chooses you, and that is what counts.

Link Warfare: A High-Level View of Running a Linking Campaign

What you need is a strategy for generating links from many different locations that contain your target keywords in the link text.

How to Moderate Social Engagement

Here are nine methods that you should be applying as you develop any community. The question isn’t which one of these methods to apply, the question is in what ratio do you apply each.

It's Not You. It's Your Agency

If you have to ask yourself why you haven't met the client in person, why you never get asked to present ideas internally, or why your briefs feel like the same assignment, you’re not going to get anywhere at your current shop.

What Laundry Can Teach You About Persuasive Writing

Persuasive writing should be approached in the same finite number of steps, where a tight, cohesive product emerges from your focused effort.

The Best Browser Award Goes To ...

E-mail clients and Web browsers are now essentials of business and personal life for most of us. Your choices of browser and e-mail client affect pretty much every move you make online including your active participation in new media.

The SEO Devil Is Not in the Details

Rather than worrying about each and every tiny detail of SEO which may or may not even have an effect on your bottom line, you’d be much better off to think about the big picture.

Social Media: The Link Between Advertising and Public Relations

With the advent of social media and the blossoming of digital public relations, the line between advertising and public relations is not as clear as it once was.

Moms Win Out Over the Economy

Good news for Mom. Jewelry gifts showed the most improvement as more than nine of 10 consumers (93 percent) plan to celebrate Mother's Day, with total spending estimated to reach $15 billion, according to the annual Brand Keys Mother's Day survey.

Three Ways to Perfect Your Résumé

Writing your résumé is scary. You have to contemplate your best qualities and express them in a clear and engaging way. One page must contain information that makes a potential employer want to interview you.

Fundamental Gender Differences and Their Impact on Marketing

You cannot market to men the same way you market to women. It's not a simple transformation of changing colors, fonts, or packaging.

In the Digital Age, There's a New Way to Say Shove It!

Forget your old conceptions of the workplace and imagine a place that happens to be where you work, where you can make bargains with your employer based on the fact that, really, you don’t have to work there. Because you found a place that lets you work at home: a home environment that you design with ease!

Thought Leadership, the Next Public Relations Frontier

Converging forces are at work to revolutionize public relations as practiced in today’s social media landscape. Business now finds itself compelled to open new channels of communications in its quest to influence the public and to establish a position of “thought leadership.” Thought leadership is rapidly emerging as the key to enhancing company and entrepreneurial, credibility and to influence decision-makers in every field of endeavor.

New Marketing Trends Connect Directly With Consumers

Consumer empowerment was not the product of any effort on our part but rather the opposite. The Web opened up the floodgates of information, and social media connected consumers in an unprecedented manner, the cumulative result being an ever-increasingly savvy consumer. In today's marketplace, our old smoke-and-mirrors magic has been rendered impotent.

The Social Media (Selling) Event of the XeeSM

In fall 2009, I told you about a new service called XeeSM (pronounced see-sum), launched by Axel Schultze and the team who brought us the Xeequa Social Media Academy, where you can post links to your most important social media links and other sites in one place. Instead of loading up Web sites, news releases, ads, e-mail signatures, and everything else with an ever-growing laundry list of social links, now you can cover all your online bases with just one.

Defending Your PR Expertise in the Digital Age

One of the things that few PR pros ever mention is that the biggest component to whether a product or service makes it in the market is whether or not it's actually unique and/or serves a need that enough people have. While there's a conspiracy theory among many entrepreneurs that anytime a PR program doesn't secure a ton of ink, it's the firm or consultant's fault, in reality it's most often because the product or service just isn't that appealing. This is further illustrated by the fact that few products actually succeed on the market.

Using Social Media to Get to First Base

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social networks excel at connecting or what I call first base.The trouble is, it’s hard to score customers when you’re hitting singles and hanging out at first base. You have to push beyond connection to engagement or what I call second base. If the prospective customer becomes emotionally attached to the brand, you’re standing on third base and 90 feet from converting prospect into customer and kissing home plate.My point? Social media is great for connecting, not so great for conversion.

Does Size Matter in SEO?

I've had the opportunity to work with a variety of businesses through the years -- from tiny one-person businesses to huge international companies. While there are many similarities in working with different sized companies, important differences exist as well.

Creating an Effective Marketing Strategy Using Social Media

An effective social media strategy is a direct extension of a brand strategy executed artfully in new channels. The brand posture, positioning, and personality should guide the development and deployment of social media assets and attitudes so that the brand speaks with a single voice across media and consistently engages customers, prospects, media, investors, or other constituent audiences. The forums are new; the basic marketing approach is not.

Is Fashion Advertising Always Vapid and Pretentious?

By definition, fashion is advertising, but not the kind you and I specialize in. Uncut and undiluted by narratives, fashion advertising projects the creativity of the fashion designer or the “House” from which it originates: Gucci, Prada, Channel, or Dior. For the most part, these iconic brands eschew advertising campaigns in the ad-agency sense of the word, preferring projection to conception. It is the line that matters.

Why Digital Agencies Have It All Wrong

Can advertising agencies improve? Absolutely. Many have lagged behind the development of new technologies and techniques. Some cling to the past for fear of what the future has in store. In this post-recession era, a new generation of agency straddles the digital divide and brings best practices of the past together with the most promising of today's techniques.

21 Tips for Using Twitter for Business

Last year, Forbes magazine assembled a visual list for its Top 21 Twitter Tips to showcase business examples on how to use Twitter for marketing, service, sales, and ideation. The original compilation served as inspiration for a new list, one that helps businesses of all shapes, sizes, and focus embrace not only Twitter, but all relevant social networks. While many examples and quotes remain the same, the list is modified based on my observations and personal experiences.

Facebook 'Likes' New Strategic Marketing

A minor change was made on a Web site, and a tremor was sent through the brand marketing collective. The Web site was Facebook, and the change was the wording around a user’s interaction with a brand. Instead of committing to being a "fan," now a user can just state he or she "likes" the brand -- a small change with big implications.

Battling Recession-Induced Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

I recently wondered out loud (via Twitter actually) if recession-induced post-traumatic stress disorder may be a viable defense in the courts. I mean, don't you think a few misdemeanors could be chalked up to what we've all been through? If I drive over to a client's office and throw a brick through their window because they're 90 days overdue on an invoice? If I snap and rear-end someone in traffic and then scream obscenities when he or she doesn't use his or her turn signal?

Social Media: Easy as Driving a Car

The rules of engagement have changed, and the majority of marketers are still trying to figure out the best way to connect with consumers. It’s a new environment where lead time is now real time, and the moment you have one new trend or technology mastered, another comes blazing. If you’re like me, sometimes a visual and a life comparison can simplify a complicated task. As I sat here thinking about what I would write and how it could relay to emerging media and digital public relations, I couldn’t help but think about learning to drive.

Optimizing Your E-mail Marketing Campaign

Marketing is a process of nurturing interested prospects from awareness and info gathering through preference to conversion. E-mail has become our tool of choice because it’s widely used and accepted, easy to change or update, and it’s cheap. But assuming a prospect needs a series of messages or branded interactions between initial interest and sale, what’s the best way to engage, entertain, and grow the relationship?

How to Use Twitter as the Ultimate Writing Exercise

Although 140-character tweets may not be for everyone, condensing your thoughts into 140 characters can be a helpful writing exercise. While maintaining proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation, your ideas should be universally understood and autonomous. Make each blurb detailed and clear. Here are three ways that you can benefit from the “philosophy of a tweet” without actually posting anything on your Twitter page.

A Smaller List of Targets Can Equal a Greater Audience

Ironically, one of the toughest things about being a public relations counselor is getting clients to actually take our counsel. Perhaps nothing illustrates this better than the process of determining media targets. Long, long ago it seems, PR pros let themselves get pigeonholed into a “yes" mentality when it comes to any request from a client.

Freelance, the New Full-Time

To be clear, freelancers are not some creative underclass. They come with a price, as in a hefty day rate. They can rake it in if required to work late nights or weekends. They work, turn in an invoice, and then they’re out of there. Boom. Done. Next job.

Can Catching the Eye of Just One Maven Affect Your Bottom Line?

Many organizations are still in the embryonic stage of social media -- the listening stage, the “getting-your-feet-wet” stage -- where you are still listening to your consumers and clients and what they have to say to their “friends” on Facebook and “followers” on Twitter. My hope is this listening will give way to some organizations going back to the drawing board -- either to improve a product or better their service.

What are the Building Blocks of Identity?

It doesn't matter what business you're in; if you're going to successfully re-shape your brand, you need to start by knowing who you are. This imperative isn't just a nice-to-have; it's a must-have.

Is Twitter a Waste of Time?

About a year ago, Twitter itself recognized the service had crossed over from a forum for mundane status updates to a venue for more informative, synergistic sharing and interaction. Think of it as a vehicle to share useful info, interact with other interesting Twitter personas, make new business contacts and friends, and interest followers in learning more about you by clicking to your core site and other places.

Who Should Handle My Company's Social Media Initiative?

John Q. Public doesn’t use Twitter and Facebook to be inundated with “buy this” messaging. J. Q. uses these networks to maintain relationships, and this is what we as communications professionals need to understand about the nature of the beast. True social media campaigns are about creating and fostering a relationship between the consumer and the brand, a goal that is achieved with the right messaging.

Copywriters Need Feedback, Not Prescriptions

Edits happen. Where copy tends to get off track, though, is when the client (or manager) rewrites everything without reinforcing in any way their role as the informant and your role as the doer.

Bravery's High Return Rate

It seems that advertising is always the first line item cut, whether it is during actual or just perceived hard times. This forces marketing directors to accomplish more with fewer resources. However, when companies take the opposite approach and actually invest in their marketing, they are rewarded with significant growth.

Welcome to the New Normal

To embrace the future, or what I’m calling the New Normal, you have to let go of the past. That’s true if you’ve been tossed out like expired milk or you’re pining for the ad glory days like Napoleon Dynamite’s Uncle Rico.

What Brand Strategists Can Learn From Celebrities

We live in a performance-based culture where celebrities are our kings and queens. It can be instructive for marketers to understand the dynamics of mind that cause us to idolize and occasionally turn away abruptly from those we once extolled.

Here Lies Steffan Postaer

We define ourselves by our work. It becomes the who, what, where, how, and why of our lives. Can you deny it?

Can Walking on Coals Unleash Your Personal Power?

A few months back, I invested in a trip to Chicago and spent four days with peak performance coach Tony Robbins. If you don’t know Robbins or his work, he is worth knowing. He grew up in a household with little money, often experiencing holidays with no food and a rotating door of four absent fathers.

Proofreading Pointers: Three Ways to Polish Conversational Writing

When proofreading a document, you want to ensure your message is clear. You have an idea in your mind, you transform it into words, and you hope the person reading it understands.

You Can’t Learn SEO by Just Reading About it

There’s something about search engine optimization (SEO) that attracts people to become consultants, even though they have no experience. It's definitely not rocket science, but if SEO was so easy, then every webmaster and company owner could easily learn it and start a successful SEO company overnight.

Google Buzz: A New Way to Share

Google recently rolled out a new feature in Gmail called Google Buzz, and a crowd of people now have a new way to share updates, photos, video, and more. The goal of Buzz seems to be to create a system that is as compelling and easy to use as Facebook.

The Art of Believing

My story begins at the end of college. I entered a summer internship program and put my heart and soul into everything I did, as I was determined to finally get my foot into the real world.

Expand Your Search Engine Visibility for Free

The rise of Bing has created more opportunity for advertisers and/or marketers and better information for search consumers. One recent innovation to arise is the mixing of retail product data feeds into organic search results.

Being on Fire

Passion has a funny way of synthesizing and illuminating core truths. The bureaucracies, the lifeless traditions, and the status quo pale in the face of intense objectivity -- witness Ferdinand Piech, Phil Knight, or Steve Jobs. There’s a reason the person leading the way out of darkness is usually pictured holding a torch.

Dreamer, Please Return

Being laid off has become the new insiders' club, with its unique moments of relationship opportunities and project building. There are no random acts of stress, cubicle dialogs, or team goals.

Communications For Marketers 2010: Find Trends or Go Home

Today, if you sell anything for a living, you need to look through the news in all its myriad forms to understand how an idea becomes newsy—or water cooler talk—in first place. It’s all about finding the right trend—being on top of everything.

Website Load to be a Search Engine Ranking Factor

If you are not aware of the upcoming caffeine update scheduled from Google for sometime during the beginning of the year it might be one for the record books. Nobody really knows exactly what will happen...

Mobile Advertising Is On the Move

A recent article stated mobile advertising will generate billions of dollars in revenue by the year 2013. A question was posed, what if anything is really happening in the market?

Blame It On Equipment Malfunction

Four things are imperative when you start a business. A snappy business name, a good accountant, a trustworthy lawyer and especially a great tavern within two blocks of your office. Three out of four wasn’t too bad in the mid-eighties.

Super Bowl’s Guy Moron Has Had Enough to Drink

Like we don’t have enough problems. There’s the deficit problem. The healthcare problem. The energy problem. The global warming problem. Now I fear we have a joke problem. At least when it comes to advertising.

What Do They Mean By Social Anyway?

Many of us take for granted the meaning of the word “social” when we think of social media and social networking. But what does it really mean?

Grab the Long Tail Keywords and Watch your Website Visitors Grow

Everyone wants to rank in the search engines for the words that produce the most search results, don’t we all? The problem with this...

Do Something Interesting. Work in Advertising.

Isn’t the reason most of us got into advertising is because advertising itself is inherently interesting? Everyone, with whom I went to portfolio school and/or worked alongside in agency creative departments, all shared the same passion to not have a run-of-the-mill, trapped-in-a-cubicle, regular-old office job.

Beyond Proofreading and Writing Help: Life Edits for 2010

It may seem like I’m obsessed with proofreading, but I see opportunities to edit everywhere. Any choice that you make can potentially edit a bad habit—revising and improving it.

Why Duplicate Content on Your Website is Bad and How to Fix It

One of the main reasons why having the same content across multiple URLs is such a problem is that it splits the link popularity (and PageRank) of those pages, which provides them with less relevancy weighting in Google.

Orchestrating Social Media Strategy

An effective social media strategy is a direct extension of a brand strategy executed artfully in new channels. The brand posture, positioning and personality should guide the development and deployment of social media assets and attitudes...

The Family Room 2.0

Picture any, generic family room. What is the centerpiece of it? Unless you are Amish, it’s the TV. Soon families will be surfing the World Wide Web via the same platform that used to bring them Hee Haw.

How Can You Be a Good Client?

In Confessions of an Advertising Man, David Ogilvy advises companies on How To Be A Good Client. For those of you that work “in house” on the corporate side, also known as “the client”, I hope that you will take the following suggestions from Ogilvy to heart.

Avoid Spam Comments at All Cost or You Could Lose Search Rankings

Spam is one of those things that should be avoided at all costs regardless of what it is. Search engines get smarter each and every day. They pick up every change that occurs on a website almost immediately.

Moby Died For Our Sins: How “Selling Out” Is Pretty Fabulous!

You won’t bat an eyelash when people "sell out” today because in 2010 the mere idea of selling out is marrying American Dream to American Laziness. Why do more for less when you can get more for less?

Client Personalities Direct Agency Effectiveness

Personality determines client behavior which is then magnified or minimized at any given moment by the individual’s status in the food chain, political clout, savvy...

Keep Those Apps and Postcards Coming

Virtually every mobile operator worth its spectrum has made it super-easy to buy applications for your mobile phone these days: Point > Click > Provide payment method > Done.

Enjoying a ‘Rich Life’ Through Mentoring

Being a mentor does not require anything fancy. And you don’t have to dress a certain way. While mentoring can be formal or informal, my relationships with my mentees is pretty informal, which suits all concerned.

Promoting Your Business Online with Flex Widgets

Interactive widgets are a great way to keep your company name and brand in front of potential customers/clients or referral sources. It seems like something that would be very complicated and require a heavy dose of programming. But in reality...

Oh, Pioneers! Feigning Expertise Ad Agencies Grapple With Social Media

Think about it. The experts and gurus of the Internet got their first computers 20 years ago (give or take), many much later. The inventors of Facebook, Craigslist, You Tube, Amazon and just about every dot com are not only still alive, they are still working. They are still pioneers, still learning as they go.

7 Ways to Increase Your Online Visibility

Job seekers still need to actively seek out in-person networking meetings and events to increase the size of their networks, it is now equally important for job seekers to increase their visibility and accessibility on online social networks.

She Went Out For Coffee

Agencies, as we know, have notoriously high turnover rates. Even before the economic downturn, employees dropped like flies – voluntarily or involuntarily. The speed of the revolving door is enough to make your head spin!

Question From a Proofreader: Boxers or Briefs?

Effective writing, regardless of the length, utilizes the concept of brevity. A well-written 300-page novel may actually be brief. The author just needs 300 pages to tell the story accurately. The excessive version might have been 500 pages.

Six Social Media Predictions for 2010

Given that many visitors to Talent Zoo are here either to find a new job/career, or keep up-to-date on the latest trends, I thought I would share my thoughts on how social media is affecting the job market and the search for jobs and talent.

Advertising’s West Side Story (Sans The Bernstein Score)

I’ve come across numerous articles and blogs in which pundits are heralding “The death of the traditional agency.” Conversely, I’ve read rebuttals, both direct and indirect, from industry experts proclaiming that the “digital” agency has hit its apex and will soon fall prey to the pitfalls that all agencies face. As if something out of West Side Story...

Customer Service - ­ It’s Imperative!

Customer service is often the first line of defense a company has when a customer calls in with a problem. If you’ve had to deal with customer service over the past decade, I’m sure you’ve found, like I have, that it’s on the wane.

The Mystery of Motivation

I am always amazed to witness how we as human beings hold the word and concept of “motivation” like some illusive mystery or outside force. We wait for its arrival, similar to how a little child waits for the tooth fairy to arrive and leave them some money.

Personalities Give Each Agency Its Unique Complexion

Agencies have traditionally attracted people with broad interests, short attention spans and little ability or tolerance for corporate life. Iconoclasts, wise guys, alternative thinkers, smart alecks, frat boys, hippies, geeks, neurotics and hot women have traditionally populated agencies.

Lost at Sea? You Can Still Land The Interview.

I'm finding that job seekers copy and pasting cover letters, not researching the companies they are truly interested in and, thus, not putting their best foot forward. Why? If this is you, let me share the wealth: Here are two main things I've found have really been working to score an interview.

Healthcare and Social Media and You

The Healthcare and Pharmaceutical industries are quickly becoming major players in the social media empire because of their message, relevance and familiarity.

Nothing Matters More Than Gratitude

If other people—not just you—want you to succeed, in fact, are grateful your company exists, then your infant company stands a much greater chance of sticking around. This has as much to do with the work you perform as the spirit of work you provide.

“Wimplash”—The Real Reason for the Recession

It is easy to curl into the fetal position and wait out until the warmer economy bubbles up, but if you do you are missing out! You see, friends, recession actually creates opportunity.

Grammar and Proofreading Challenge

Have you ever received a text message with a sentence that reads something like, “I cant wait to here youre great news!” and suddenly your good news isn’t so exciting any more? You’d rather focus your attention on the multiple punctuation, spelling, and grammar mistakes in your friend’s text. They’re so annoying!

What Lessons I Learned from Seeing Oprah

A couple years ago I saw that movie with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nickelson called Bucket List... I liked being reminded of the value of having bucket lists. And making sure, I knock off as many as possible things while I can.

SEO and Website Development Now go Hand in Hand

Web developers have been around for almost as long as the search engine optimization industry so why is it taking so long for the two to really cross paths and just unite and work together?

Three (or More) is a Crowd

Clients love to mix things up in the ad biz. More and more, clients are awarding their business to more than one shop. There’s nothing new about it. It works like this...

We’re All Peons and Gunslingers

It bothers me that the ad agency world has turned us into this. If you’re in your 20s and making peanuts and working ungodly hours, guess what? You’re a peon. If you’re 40 or over and all you’re getting is freelance gigs, guess what? You’re a gunslinger. In your 30s? Enjoy your third decade, my friend.

Debunking Five Social Media Myths

Social media, particularly its use in business communications, is still in its early days, and like anything new and different, there’s plenty of mythology surrounding it. The problem posed by certain of these myths is that they mislead those trying to adopt social media...

Watch Out for SEO Consultant Red Flags

So many businesses get confused when talking to SEO consultants that they give up and never optimize their website. Part of the problem is that they simply don't know whom to trust for SEO services.

Social Media Tides - Getting Swept Away or Swimming with the Currents?

It’s important to remember that while the waves of social media are crashing all around us, businesses are in the game to make money, and, if social media channels help a business make money and/or secure brand integrity and loyalty, they will embrace it, nurture it, expand and invest in it.

Welcome to Omnicom, May I Take Your Order?

When I had just graduated from college, jobs in the Detroit communications industry were few and far between. Faced with a seemingly endless stack of bills from my college years and needing an immediate source of income...

How to Effectively Include Content Marketing into the Search Engine Marketing Mix

It is no shock that content is a powerful force in the internet marketing world. Search engines love it, people read it and websites benefit from it. It is a win win situation all across the board.

Defense May Win Championships - But You Still Have to Score

There comes a point when I survey the war-torn landscape and say to you, valued clients: Either you’re in business or not. If you are, the best thing you can do is create a new revenue stream and harvest more revenue from your existing customer base.

Finding My Quarter Life Crisis

I easily, about 100 times a day during the work week, think, “I seriously need to stop frequenting my social networking sites and do the job I'm being paid to do.” Back to the regular routine: GMail, Facebook, Twitter, CNN, Google Reader, GMail, Facebook, Twitter, CNN, Google Reader. Rinse and repeat.

Can We Stop Talking About Personal Branding?

“Personal Branding” is a term that gets bandied about at every cocktail party despite not having any real discernible meaning. We know the purpose of branding products: to sell them to their market. What exactly does it mean to have a personal brand, though?

Is it a "Viral" or a TV Commercial and What's The Difference Anyway?

The rules for creating video content are different than they used to be. You Tube and the like have given everyone the idea that making a commercial is now cheap, fast and easy.

Flash & Flex Those Web Analytics Muscles!

On the web it is possible to make a lot of decisions based on the data collected by web analytics tools such as Omniture. It’s a lot more likely that your decisions are going to be correct if they are based on web analytics or the broader business intelligence.

Do You Make These Word Choice Mistakes? Part Too

Do you feel that spark? When you noticed the error in the headline of this article, your brain had a “wait a minute, that’s not correct” moment. It’s easier to spot errors when they are not your errors.

The Big “O” No!

Don’t get me wrong, I think an endorsement by “O” herself is great, if you can (legitimately) get it (and I have), and “The Oprah Effect” has been incredibly powerful.

A Cool Little Trick that Merges SEO and Social Media

I almost don’t want to reveal this strategy because I like it so much. But I’m not too worried about it being overused because first off, it requires a little bit of work, and second, most people are going to be too lazy to use this strategy anyway.

The Advertising Industry Can Learn from Bollywood

Over the last ninety-five years, Bollywood has evolved with different eras that introduced new technology, genres and new methods of storytelling. Bollywood has always embraced change with its colorful arms and bright milieus.

Black Hat SEO Techniques, Should You Do It?

You might ask yourself is using black techniques unethical? If you cheat the system in order to get rankings for your website while your neighbor works hard building search visibility the long way with hard work and dedication it is unethical.

Why I Love Twitter: Timing, Relevance and Immediacy

I have tried to embrace the social media revolution with open arms (and mind) and in doing so, I have met some really cool, great people out there and I know without a doubt, which would have never happened “pre-Twitter.”

Work For The Man? Or Be The Man?

Sooner or later, your ad career comes to this. Work for the man and collect regular paychecks. Or, be the man and make your own living.

Real Time Search is Finally Here, Are We Ready for It?

Search has revolutionized the way people react and shop. Now with real time search entering the very beginning stages of its cultural timeline you better believe that we will be seeing this technology grow much more in the next few years.

The New Linguistics

Being a creative person has always been, in part, a job of competing with popular culture. Your real competition wasn’t just the ads created by other creatives, it was any great film, album, novel or distraction and the way in which that art adjusted our common understanding of a common tongue.

Another Round, Please

Avast, in reading the words of various “experts” wringing their dainty little hands over the future of our admittedly ill-conceived industry, it appears we are once again in the throes of a self-induced pity fest. Well, woe is us. The end is near. Wah wah wah.

In Social Media, You’re Always ‘On’

In traditional media relations and public relations, we’re supposed to be invisible... But, in social media marketing, much of our efforts force us to come out from behind the curtain.

5 Ways to Commit Job Search Suicide

Advertising and marketing have been devastated and decimated in the continuing recession. Nielsen reports ad spending is down 15.4% the first half of 2009 compared to last year. Everyone has a bunch of friends out, looking and anxious.

The Recession Needs Balls: A Handy Guide

Laziness equals self-importance during a crap economy. If you think somehow things will magically change overnight--look Ma, Dow moved a notch--then you live in a fantasy land and the faster you wake up and stop paying attention to the Gosselins and DO SOMETHING the better it is for and your bank statement.

Do You Make These Word Choice Mistakes?

In the current economic climate, you can’t afford to make mistakes. You need a quick fix. There, I said it. Simple, to the point, non-bullshit grammar lessons that you’ll actually remember the next time that you are choosing between Word Choice A and Word Choice B.

Using Facebook Fan Pages Effectively

There’s a big difference between a real fan (short for fanatic) of your company, and someone who decides to “Become a Fan,” which takes the single click of a mouse.

Why is Outrageous so Effective?

As creatives, we focus a lot on accomplishing the client’s stated goals and adhering to approaches and tone that have been vetted. That’s usually a good thing if you favor continued employment...

The Naked Interview

In my past experiences, being naked has never brought me luck necessarily. However, I feel like this instance may have been different.

Living your Life Online

It’s about time for you to start living your life online. No, that doesn’t mean plopping yourself in front of the computer screen for twenty-four hours. It means that your life in reality should be in accordance with the life that you project onto your social media outlets.

Guaranteed Search Engine Rankings?

A guarantee in SEO is one of those double-edged swords. On the one hand a guarantee seems like it should be the norm. On the other hand, rankings in the search engines are not static.

How Twitter Got Me a 6-Figure Gig

For all the doubters and naysayers, social media can bring in the Benjamins. In fact, for me, Twitter scored an exciting, new, six-figure assignment.

The Year of Living Anxiously

Last year, when the economy officially began its downward spiral, it may have seemed to many that the sky was falling. Not me, I took it in stride. I’m from Detroit. I’m indigenous to poor economic climates.

A Salute to 20th Century News Anchors

It’s hard to imagine getting the TV news without some of these iconic figures there to tell us “how it is.” These people are reporter's reporters they're objective, fair, sincere, credible, thought-provoking, and accurate truth-seekers who have been non-partisan yet equal opportunity offenders.

In Advertising, and in General, We are No Longer Capable of Being Appalled

Remember appalling? Remember when being intrusive or disruptive was a bad thing? Whether it was a terrible TV commercial or a gruesome homicide, we used to grimace at the offensive, raise hell about it if necessary. We were capable of being aghast.

Labor Day Everyday

If you’re working, Monday is a day off. But for many of us, Monday is just another reminder we’re not working and we wonder if this uncertain time will ever end.

Are We Out of Touch with Our Customers?

Know your customer is advertising's prime directive. Yet in the evolving digital age knowing your customer is harder and harder to do even tough we have many more ways to monitor, watch, listen, react, interact and measure customer behavior.

Experiencetising

I am not going to hesitate to declare that, soon, advertising will be a bad word. Soon, social media will become an overused, meaningless term. We, as marketers, must take the necessary steps to define what’s next and bring it closer to today.

Free at Last

Seven is the magic number. Seven years of gainful employment. Seven years of give and take. And, it came to a screeching halt with seven simple words: "We're going to have to let you go.”

If My Competitors Are Crap It Brings Down My Industry - True?

Corporate reputation is now a buzz phrase and years ago it was actually something entities aspired to. It mattered how folks saw you—even in the minutest way.

Is Your Website Optimized Correctly for the Right Type of Search?

Many online businesses are not aware that there are three different types of searches being conducted each and every day. Search engine user’s fall into one of these three categories: transactional, informational and navigational.

Single Sign-On To Your Online World...

It was probably a dozen years ago when I first added a company logo to an email signature. More recently we all started receiving emails with an ever-more-impressive lineup of logos in signatures linking you to the senders’ company websites, LinkedIN and Twitter pages and more.

The Secret to Perfect Grammar: Learning vs. Memorizing

Grammar is awful. It’s boring. It’s technical. It’s confusing. Learning proper grammar and memorizing proper grammar are different activities. The goal for each task, however, is the same: remember how to use language appropriately.

What Goes Around Comes Around

Is measurement of new PR tactics really any different? With this in mind, here are a few helpful hints to accurately measure a non-traditional public relations campaign.

Becoming a Copywriter (circa 2009)

I wrote my first headline in 1992. It pretty much sucked. Since then it’s been a journey.

Seeding Viral Video

Seeding your viral video can mean the difference between heartening-success-plus-bragging-rights and dismal-don’t-wanna-talk-about-it results.

The Recession in Adland: Can Bad Times Have a Silver Lining?

There is brutal comedy in the misfortune of others. If/when one agency hears of another’s misfortune we cheer. In bigger agencies, creative groups on one floor often compete and root against creative groups from another.

Seeking Answers in Search Results

We are looking for specific answers to specific questions rather than a trove of documents on a particular topic. It forced me to think about the changing nature of search and how quickly search has become an almost automatic reflex.

Madison Avenue, We Have a Problem

I never thought I’d live to see it---a deer photocopying its butt. What happened next was what every account executive, media buyer and creative wishes for. I hit “Reverse” and watched the spot again.

The Mourning of a (Technology-Driven) Nation - And a Few Predictions

Facebook, Twitter and many other social networks now give users the ability to commune with the world in real time. From a sociological perspective, it’s amazing that we can share almost anything as a group of one. From a psychological perspective, we’re not alone.

Will the Power of Twitter Change the SEO Landscape Forever?

How long will this change last? Nobody really knows but the creators have brought forth a new tool for communication that has instantly allowed aspiring entrepreneurs to take their businesses to a whole new level.

Come Sail Away

The journey begins with the larger question of structure and getting down to core essentials: Which pages and content should even appear on your site?

Twitter for Job Searching: So June 2009

Beyond the likes of Twitter and LinkedIn, there are a few online tools – many not widely known – that current job seekers may benefit from looking into and creating a presence on

Famous Dead People Weigh In On Social Media

In an effort to better understand the social media phenomenon, it often helps to turn to experts in the field. But I’m not talking about social media gurus or mavens, or people with 20,000 followers on Twitter.

Continued Education – A Sustainable Competitive Advantage

What I am referring to is taking on the responsibility of bettering yourself, whenever and wherever possible. This could mean performing research on market trends, or simply paying attention to the world around you. The biggest mistake anyone can make, is assuming they already have all the answers.

Digital Leaps and Bounds

Media is ubiquitous, fragmented and complex. But, there is still an elephant in the room that we are failing to acknowledge. That elephant can be aliased as the long tail of media, or the basic fact that media can be created, by them or by you.

How to Immediately Improve Your Writing Skills: Two Simple Steps

Writing may occupy the majority of your workday, even if you don’t have the word “writer” in your professional title. From co-worker and client correspondence over email to company presentations, creating text to express oneself is inherent in any type of media job.

No Magic SEO Formula

If you think that having your keyword phrases “in all the right places for SEO” is a good thing, think again! Stuff that worked like a charm for many people in the early years of SEO may actually hurt rather than help now. Unfortunately, there’s just no magic formula for SEO.

The Inside Job

The great brand is a wonderful thing—a symbol of your offering; the story of you; a powerful being that attracts new business, keep buyers from jumping ship, and earns you a prime position in the market’s mind.

Patient Flees

I've given a lot of thought to the health care “debate” lately. Mostly with alarm and resignation. Unlike in every other wealthy industrialized country in the world, health care here in the U.S. is a privilege, not a right. There's only one reason for that: money.

Three Incontrovertible Tenets of Twitter Marketing

The rate of product development on the Internet is staggering. This creates a dilemma for the business person wanting to use the Internet as a marketing platform. There are so many options…so many ways to go about it…how does one know what to do?

Doctor, I Wonder If You’d Turn That White-Hot Spotlight on Yourself.

A new breed of companies has sprung up to serve as tour guides to the wild, wonderful web. Some are traditional agencies who went bust and are reborn as “interactive marketers.” Other agencies are hanging in there but recognize the Internet bullet train is leaving the cyberstation.

Fight or Flight

Especially now, but not exclusively in down times, we (not just marketers or small business owners) need to get out there with our message. Promote what makes us special.

Traditional and Social Media: The Same, yet Very Different

There are a lot of tactics that fall under the public relations umbrella, but media relations more often than not first comes to mind when you talk PR. Similarly, when you talk social media marketing, blogs are one of the first things that come to mind -- though social media marketing is so very much more.

Gossage On The Brain

Please make room in your beach bag this summer for a 324 page, 10 inch by 8 inch volume of the best advertising insights ever inscribed on paper. I’m speaking, of course, of The Book Of Gossage, published by The Copy Workshop, a collection of one book and much more.

Mobile Marketing on the Move

There's no doubt that mobile is the next disruptive technology, the battle for control and the quest to find the nexus between targeting, formats and offers has yet to be decided.

What Agencies Need. Respect.

Too many clients don’t respect their agency’s thinking, expertise, creativity, or even the golden rule. How else to explain clients who discount strategic thinking and chew up and spit out agency ideas like chewing gum?

So You Want to Be a Creative

The following are a few things that I have learned over the years that may be helpful as you begin your career as a creative in advertising.

Viral Video Marketing - Planning For Measurable Outcomes

Viral video is such a dynamic player on the web. Surely nothing could sound so compelling to the decision makers who hold the purse strings.

Au revoir les enfants d’advertising! My final column from Cannes.

And so we’ve come to the end of another Cannes Festival, albeit a smaller, more restrained version.

Everywhere There’s Something

There’s always a lesson to be learned from the world around you. All you need are a pair of eyes, two ears that work and an open mind.

Doctor, Do I Have Social Networking Fatigue Syndrome?

I’m not here to bash any of these social networking services; this is not a love-hate relationship. It’s a need-don’t need relationship. In fact, I think social networking can be of great use in many ways. But there is also a need to know when to pull back and give yourself a break from all of this chatter.

Money for Something

Free is all around nowadays, even in our sputtering economy. The iPhone has thousands of free apps. Some even have practical uses: radio streaming, FedEx package tracking, mobile friendly versions of the New York Times, a carpenter’s level, etc. Sorry, iBanjo. I still don’t see the point.

The Pitch That Cried Wolf

You know if you’re doing PR there’s danger whenever you push the Send key. There are only so many reporters and bloggers covering the field or industry you play in, whether it’s automotive technology, software, clothing, or architectural design.

Odd Fish Finish First

Odd fish are memorable. Odd fish command a premium price. Odd fish exude added dimensions of value. Odd fish finish first.

How to Accurately Measure ROI from your SEO Efforts

If you are new to the game of SEO it can be difficult to sometimes budget into your marketing approach because search engine optimization is one of those intangible approaches with no clear definition. It is something you know you have to do but everyone’s approach seems to be different.

…but the Light Bulb Has to Really Want to Change

Let’s just say we recently concluded a contract with a tiny company in a niche market that claimed it wanted us to help it take its business to the next level. “We’re tired of trading dollars, winning just enough new business every year to offset the accounts we lose."

How Twitter Can Complement Your Link Building Campaign

Since trust factor is such a big area for online marketing right now search engines like Google have made it important and necessary to be utilizing all aspects of social platforms, including twitter.

Return of the Personal Letter

Direct mail volume is down, Big traditional mailers are departing the scene. Costs are up. And a postal rate hike was on May 11th. But highly targeted and personalized direct mail can be an effective break-thru media during this spiraling recession.

Job Hunting with LinkedIn

LinkedIn is generally thought of as a social network for career and professional development. If you’re actively looking for a new job, whether you’re employed or not, LinkedIn is a wonderful tool for doing so.

The Time for SEO is Before You Need it!

Sales are down for many businesses due to the slow economy. Business owners and CEOs are looking for that one thing that can pull them through the hard times and keep them afloat. When times get tough, many turn to search engine optimization, hoping that it will be the ticket to increased sales.

In the Eyes of the Beholder

One thing that has always driven me crazy about advertising is the grandiosity we agencies have when it comes to talking about ourselves. As soon as I became part of my agency’s creative leadership I became part of the “Who are we?” discussion.

Research is Always the Best Place to Start

Public relations, essentially all forms of marketing communications, is truly about relationships. However, PR is much so because you often have to rely on others to be successful.How can you sell something – a product, an idea, a cause, action, etc. – if you don’t know much about your audience?

How to Create Your Personal Twitter Management System

To say Twitter is hot would be an understatement. It has exploded, and to "tweet" has already become a part of our vernacular, just like to "google" something did a few years back.

Content Creator? Then Forget Analytics. Use Digg.

Who can figure out Google Analytics? I can’t. The data is fascinating and it certainly makes one’s curiosity complacent. But how do civilians use this information -- some of which clearly has nothing to do with you or what you are creating?

What Every Small Business Should Know About SEO

SEO is not just something for the big players in any industry to use. Actually it is quite the opposite as it helps level the playing field for many smaller businesses. A small business that does not have the resources to purchase a one page print ad might have the ability launch online PR in order to gain visibility.

Guy Kawasaki Says It’s Okay To Be Crappy

During our upbringings and through the media many of us we're led to believe that the 'best' is always the most successful. The best print ad, website or online campaign will generate the highest results, right? Not necessarily.

UH-OH! Same Subject – Conflicting Stories

In the age of 24/7 news cycles and faster-than-light social media reports, it’s important to remind ourselves that being the first to report something isn’t always the best position to be in. What matters is the truth ­ getting the news story correct with your target audience.

Proactive Reputation Management Hits Different Birds with One Stone

Years ago before the internet a negative reputation for a business would take a great deal of time to travel and spread. Now with the power of the internet within minutes a negative post can find its way into the search results for a business’s branded name crippling new incoming sales and leads.

Brandtown, Anywhere - Destination Distinction or Brand Disarray

Communities, cities, and even states all compete in the world of everything—commerce, tax bases, cultural riches, hometown intellects, the creative class, and happy folks consuming it all. It’s the fuel to keep them going and growing. This also brews healthy combat zones, the seduction of buyers to destinations

Participating in the Twitter Conversation for Fun and Profit

Your goal with Twitter is not to directly gain links, but to be where people are already talking about your industry, participating in the conversation, and making them aware that you and your company exist. It's almost the opposite of SEO.

Show Runners and the Future of Advertising

Job descriptions just don’t cut it anymore in advertising... These are symptoms, from the front lines, of a broken system. The roles inside every ad agency have changed tremendously because of technology in the past very few years.

Search Engine Reputation Management: How Many Web Pages Does it Take?

How many web pages? How many web pages does it take for you to defend your reputation? Immediately you’re thinking…what the heck is this guy talking about?

A Case For Twitter

Chances are you have heard the term “Twitter”. The term refers to the social networking website. With roughly 6 million monthly visitors, Twitter.com now ranks as the third largest social network and continues to grow 1382% year over year.

The Digital Jump

There was a time I was all about TV spots. I loved making them. I loved watching them. I loved the fact that it was the easiest way to describe my job, especially to my parents. Print and radio was great too, but nothing gave me career satisfaction as cranking out the big spot.

Could It Be? Is PR Becoming Unnecessary?

In years past, the "science" of PR was seen as a sham that we could put over on whoever contracted us. We did our jobs and, as long as we were charming and insouciant, most clients seemed to think we were in the way or a nuisance.

Sleazebaggery - How NOT to Market Social Networks

I received an email recently from a certain website that borrowed a sleazy porn-like come-on to attempt to convert me from a freebie member to a premium spender. It's a bait and switch tactic that gives marketers a bad name.

What if Google Died?

What would you do if Google turned off their servers, packed up their bags and went on a long vacation? How would that impact your business?

Why Johnny Can’t Tweet

Should Social Media Be Taught In Primary School? Interesting news comes out of the UK about a possible change in primary school educational priorities, shifting attention and resources from subjects like history and math in favor of what might be called Web 2.0 1.0.

SEO Link Building is also Pro-Active Search Engine Reputation Management

Many people and business owners have a hard time grasping many of the different online marketing approaches and concepts that exist. Link building is one of those efforts that can confuse many.

The Name Game