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N is for Novice

Experience Gets It Done.

kkkkkkWe hosted our annual Holiday party last week, which by the way was also our 5th Anniversary celebration and an outstanding evening. While DARCI CREATIVE is still a relatively young business, I’m what you might call a “seasoned vet.” Having dedicated my professional career to helping businesses establish a strong marketplace position for nearly 25 years, I have a trick or two up my sleeve. That brings me to this past Sunday’s New England Patriots game. The Pats played the Broncos and I was introduced to the lightening rod that is Tim Tebow. I was fascinated, as, it seems, is most of the Nation.

So I did a little research. Tim Tebow was born on August 14, 1987. He’s a Leo. And still so young. But, a really good kid who plays football and does everything else in his life for God. Noble. And great fodder for the media. Tom Brady, our man here in New England, was born on August 3, 1977. Also a Leo and a bit more private about his spirituality. Brady’s got 10 years on Tebow, and has faced a lot more adversity than the current NFL ‘It Boy’. For those of you who are not fans of astrology let me explain to you that Leo’s love the limelight. They thrive on being in the spotlight. Leo’s symbol is a lion — which makes them proud warriors and born leaders. (Bill and Hilary Clinton are both Leos, btw.) So these two handsome guys are really well-matched from a psychological standpoint. The difference is experience.

Like a lot of inexperienced players (read: all individuals who are new to something – like marketing) they’ve got drive, they’ve got spirit, and like the familiar cheer goes: “if they can’t do it no one can!” So Tebow was on fire out of the gate. He was in love with his life, in love with that moment, and you could see in his eyes, he was sure he was going to win. But guess what? Tom Brady knew more. With his classic, calm focus, he was determined to find a way to get it done. And that’s just what he did play by play.

I’m not great at sports analogies — because I just don’t know enough about sports to be witty and relevant — but this match-up struck me. It was palpable the way that Brady led the Pats to victory and that Tebow had the talent but not the know-how. I watched a video of Tim’s and in it he said, “I’m a big fan of saying ‘hard work beats talent where talent doesn’t work as hard'”.

How does this relate to Brand Marketing?  I think the key here is that talent + hard work + experience = victory.

It’s like this. After 25 years in the field I know things. Yes, I’ve got talent or I wouldn’t have survived this long in such a competitive arena. And yes, Tim, I’ve worked hard. Really hard. But it’s the focus and strategy that wins the game. Many clients are kind of like Tebow. They’ve got enthusiasm for what they do. They believe in their mission. And, (when it comes to marketing) they are often guilty of committing a bit of hubris, which is a Greek word meaning excessive pride. This leads them to believe that they know more than they do in a field where they have very little experience. If you’re searching for a way to boost your business, hire the experienced pros.

Our job is to nurture the enthusiasm and tame the beast. Let us make the strategic decisions even if you don’t like them — because experience plus talent gets the win. Oh, and on Sunday, December 18th? New England Patriots 41, Denver Broncos 23. Boom.

 

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M is for mmm-mmm good


The Power of a Good Tagline.

asdfowkfI’m a huge fan of great lines. It’s so awesome when something is delivered in a few words that really captures the reader (or the listener) and communicates the essence of a company or product. Like a lot of marketing terms these lines go by several names: slogans, taglines, straplines, or even mottos. But I refer to them as Positioning Lines to my clients. That’s because the string of words that you place alongside your logo and your company name are key critical to establishing your position within the market place.

Here are 5 tips to creating a great Positioning Line. 1. ID: It needs to support — and stay consistent — with the brand name. (eat fresh) 2. Sticky: Great positioning lines stick around because they’re memorable. (‘Does she… or doesn’t she?’) 3. Positive Benefit: You want to convey the consumer benefit for using your product or service in a positive way. (Just do it.) 4. Shine: With so many competing messages in an overcrowded playing field it’s important to set yourself apart with a creative and original Positioning Line, ie, don’t be boring and don’t do what others do. (Have it your way.) 5. KISS: Keep it simple, stupid. This is one of the toughest things to achieve. One word is rarely enough and 7 is usually too many. (Stronger than dirt.)

I think “mmm mmm good” is a much more successful line than, “It’s amazing what soup can do.” What do you think?

Let’s play, “Name that Brand.” Click on the Your Thoughts? link and tell me how many brands you can name for the lines I’ve used above as examples.

 

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L is for Love.

Fate vs. Free Will.

ph;lllloto 2I love what I do. I also love Matt Damon’s movie, “The Adjustment Bureau.” In fact, I’ve watched it four times in the last six weeks. Each time I watch it I feel uplifted because his character represents the qualities that I crave in a relationship: honesty, devotion, absolute commitment and the ability to put the other person first. These are all qualities that lead to great client relationships too, and I dare say that I do my very best to sustain them with all my clients.

It’s not always an easy thing to do, however. Especially when the client decides to exercise their own free will without any input from me. It’s a classic red flag in any relationship when one person makes decisions without clueing the other in on said plan. I consider myself a partner in my client’s business, so imagine the upset that can occur when a client goes rogue. At first, it’s insulting. Then confusing. Next comes the anger and disappointment. Then the final stage of apathy. Like… whatever.

The reason I’m obsessed with “The Adjustment Bureau” is that it gives me hope. Hope that maybe there is someone out there willing to look past what they think is their path and really consider the possibility of something spectacular. Someone who understands that going for spectacular results requires taking risks. If you believe that maintaining the status quo is the best you can do, that’s exactly what you’ll get. But, if you believe something great is possible despite what others think, or what repercussions might arise — I believe the rewards are great.

You do have a choice in your relationships. If a client is moving in a direction that you are not comfortable with — that impacts your ability to produce great results — consider the consequences of resigning the account. You might just free up the space for a new, more perfect client for you. Same thing goes for other relationships in your life. I always scratch my head when people stay in relationships that make them miserable. Take the chance. Exercise free will and choose the best thing for you. Time is our greatest commodity. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you have an unlimited supply.

 

 

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K is for Kick-Ass Creative

Creative Marketing
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What drives success? Well, when it comes to marketing I feel it’s a split between intelligent strategic planning and kick-ass creative. After many years in the field I’ve crossed paths with shops who have a primary strength in one area or the other. Some are whiz bangs at strategic planning but lack any real creative flair, and others are all about the creative with little interest in strategy. You need both.

Of course, the creative is the fun part. But it’s a lot like life, really. You can be creative with the way you dress, or decorate your home, or pick up chicks — whatever. But, you still have to clean the house, pay the bills and plan for the future.

A lot of people may think that Branding is all about being creative, but the best brands are driven first by the strategy. Take this example that we did for our Physical Therapy client.

We developed the Brand position of “Get Going.” and in this piece we created a look and feels that’s all about movement. The best part? When the client saw the online flash ad we developed as part of this campaign, he wrote back: “This is kick-ass.” Moral of the story? Live creatively and be smart about it.

 

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I is for Interesting & Interested

Getting Attention.

photo 1In a recent blog post from Seth Godin he wrote, “Interesting & Interested … it helps to be both. These are two ways you earn attention. If it’s so obvious, why is it so difficult?”

There’s so much to this simple post. And it really got me thinking about mistakes that so many clients make with their marketing. It really comes down to these two words. If you’re interested in who your target audience is, they will find you interesting. How simple is that? The thing is, a lot of clients over think this stuff. Understanding your audience is the real key to successful marketing. Because when you “get them” you can speak their language. And when you make yourself (your company, your product) relevant, you create receptivity.

On the flip side, being interesting is all about being yourself. Don’t try to be like the other guy. Find out what makes you uniquely you and tell your audience about it over and over again, in as many ways as possible. Eventually they’ll think, wow, that company is really interesting.

 

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J is for ‘Just Kidding’

Deliver on Your Promise.

photo 2Ultimately, business is about relationships. It’s about trust: earning it and keeping it. So when you say you’re going to do a thing, you’re best bet is to follow through. In the fast paced, deadline driven world of a brand agency there is a lot of juggling going on. So, there are times when we say we’ll have something for you to review on Thursday, and some other critical situation arises to push that possibility out the window. It happens. Not very often, but when it does it’s essential to give the appropriate head’s up. It’s not a good idea to wait until Thursday to address it. The worst idea yet is to ignore your promise and deliver it on Friday (hoping they won’t notice).

Your Brand is your promise. When you reneg on your promise, or even a tiny speck of your promise, you are damaging your Brand.

My last boyfriend promised he would “love me forever, even if I weighed 200 pounds.” I believed him, and interpreted that to mean that he would love me forever. While I did not set out to test him on his big fat promise, I did hit some tough times when my dream vision for a multi-media production company, crashed and burned. Clearly, said boyfriend did not want to go down with what appeared to be a sinking ship.

Apparently, we have different standards in our personal and business lives. Or, do we? Maybe people who say what they mean and mean what they say are really like that, all the time. My practice is to under promise and over deliver. Clients seem to like that because they know they can count on me to do what I say, and then some. It’s simple. I value their trust and work at keeping it every single day. It’s not always an easy thing to do, but hey, who ever said relationships were easy?

 

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H is for Honesty

Truth in Advertising.

photo 2A few years back, someone said to me, “You’re too honest to be in business.” I was stunned. What an interesting thing to say. Add to that, that the business I’d chosen to be in was advertising! It’s something that I’ve never forgotten. Why is it that we have this notion that to be great in business you have to be a schemer or a wheeler dealer? I look at my business as an integral part of my life. Why then would I have one face at work and another for the rest of my life? I think a lot of my success with marketing comes from helping clients to be honest about who they are and what they are offering. It’s in that honest inquiry that some of the best advertising is made. It’s during that process of establishing what makes a client unique that allows us to mine for gold. I think we’re all pretty savvy about when we’re being jerked around. We can tell when an advertising message is authentic and when it’s just … not. I’m really proud of the work that we do. I feel we are providing a valuable service by helping our clients to articulate who they are and what they are about. Some business people are all about the sale, it’s true. And those are the people who want to gloss over the essence of who they are and send out slick messages to lull consumers (or potential clients) into buying their product or service. So, while in many ways, my chosen field has a bit of a bad rap, it’s not the way I choose to do it. I equate branding with authenticity. And by definition, that’s honest.

 

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G is for Great Writing

Connecting emotionally with your audience.

photo 1What makes the difference between an uninspired headline and a great one? Emotional connection. If you can evoke emotion from a reader, that means you’ve captured their attention. If you’ve captured attention, you’re much more likely to get the type of reaction or response you’re going for. The thing is, lots of clients hesitate to use emotion in their marketing messages. Maybe they think it lacks polish, is too out there or too risky. There are lots of ways to say the  same thing, but changing the words can make all the difference. Take a look at this video from UK content developers, PurpleFeather.

If your copy doesn’t evoke an emotion, it fails to really connect with the reader. So many ads and marketing messages miss the boat by simply stating the obvious. (I’m blind. versus It’s a beautiful day and I can’t see it.) (Or, We sell Widgets. versus  Our Widgets Will Make You Sing.) Sometimes a client will argue that we’re speaking to engineers or contractors or some other narrowly defined demographic where emotion doesn’t ‘apply.’ And I always say, engineers  (or whomever) are people too. We all have hearts, we all feel things and the best brand advertising and marketing makes you feel something because of great writing. No matter what you’re selling.

 

Client Case Study: 3 Bridges Yoga


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