Tag Archives: advertising

Podcast Your Way to Niche Markets


Podcasting, generally short audio only, or video programs, are enjoying resurgence. According to Edison Research, 39 million people listen to podcasts at least once a month. Increased smartphone usage figures into the equation.

Listen to Ideopia’s Blendercast Podcast at podcast.ideopia.com.

Podcasts, web, video and internet radio now join the automatic coffee maker as technologies that accommodate their schedules, and maximize free time. For marketers, podcasting opens up a plethora of new content sources: Audio versions of blog posts, excerpts from speeches, and even comments or questions from customers. While some podcasts achieve chart-topping status, like these top programs from 2015, the relatively low cost of podcasts makes them a viable option to communicate specialized content to niche markets. While one of your engineers may not be ready for prime time, she could be very effective talking to peers at other companies.

Chance are you already have all the technology you need to start podcasting: a good microphone, a computer, and if you’re a one-take wonder, you can skip downloading free sound editing equipment.

For more about the popularity of Internet radio, see our post in Blender.

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Marketing to Women. Are Advertisers Still Clueless?

When Ideopia launched in the early 90s, working women, like me, were still an oddity. We were chastised, guilt-ridden and sometimes viewed with pity because we “had” to work.

Advertisers didn’t help this perception, either. They depicted the working woman in a rumpled business suit running between pre school and the office with a briefcase in one hand, a child on her hip and towing another one by the hand.

Marketers, eager to show empathy, shot these stereotypical photos, or bought them from stock photography houses, to sell us their detergents or Calgon (Take me away!).  Reality? Hardly. Yes, we were stressed and sometimes we needed that Calgon, but we usually handled our responsibilities at home and work competently and with grace. Like other working women, those pandering ads offended me.

1980 Calgon Bath Soap Commercial “Calgon, Take Me Away!”

Although fewer than 6% of CEOs are women; and aggressive little boys are still called “leaders” while little girls are called “bossy”, advertisers are starting to get the message.

Dove Real Beauty Sketches

Driven by user generated content on social media and campaigns like Dove’s “Real Beauty Campaign,” which celebrated its 10th birthday this month, Pantene’s “Labels Against Women” and “Not Sorry” campaigns are seeking a broader representation of women.

Stock Photography Gets Real

At the 2014 Cannes, the CEO of Getty images teamed up with the COO of Facebook to present a series of 2500 images called the Lean In collection. These photos show women in a diverse light. Rather than the stereotypical images, the Lean In Collection offers photos of women working in fields like robotics. They are aging gracefully and are eating real foods instead of fussy little salads.

Sales of the Lean In photos, all that were previously available from Getty, have jumped by 54% in recent months.

It’s a start. But we have a long way to go! Silicon Valley, for the most part, doesn’t get it. They still think women have nothing other than shoes and weddings on our minds. Honestly, does Microsoft even want women to buy its computers? (Since this blog post has been published, Microsoft has removed this advertisement.)

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Show Us the Money. The Joys of Agency/Client Transparency.

If you’re gun shy about disclosing your marketing budget, join the crowd. Maybe you were traumatized by a used car salesman at a tender age, or got a hose job from an unscrupulous ad agency, and you’ve learned to hold the money cards.

We would kindly suggest, get over it. It’s hurting your ability to get the best from your agency, and lack of transparency on either side of the agency/client relationship erodes trust. And, if you don’t’ trust your agency, why are you working with them?

Bereft of a budget, agencies will punt with an array of strategies, and none work to your advantage:

  • Guess based on marketing allocations within your industry, and inquiries to publishers and media outlets to determine what you spent in the past.
  • Over plan for a budget you don’t have, which wastes your time and the agency’s.
  • Go low, cut corners, and pile on features by using junior people to execute your work.
  • And the good agencies, the one’s you most want on your work, will simply choose not to play.

In other words, you’re inviting agencies to take a trip to Walmart with your very important project.

Instead of telling an agency to plop out a number for, say, a website. Ask which of your important goals can they achieve within your budget. Find out how they plan to allocate your budget and what they will deliver. If you’re running a review, or a competition for a prime project, leveling the field is the only way you can realistically compare agencies – at least on a financial basis.

Laying your budget on the line may seem counterintuitive. After all, if we know what’s in your piggy bank, won’t we spend it all? Darn tooting! You told us the important objectives you want to achieve. And you determined that if you invested “x” amount in marketing, the ROI would make it worth it. So why not cough up the numbers?

All this takes valuable time and energy, which should be applied to determining strategy and the most effective way to allocate the budget you do have.

Reap the Rewards of Transparency

  1. Tell your agency your marketing objectives strategy and budget. And focus your agency team on developing the most effective way to spend it.
  2. Evaluate agencies based on what they can do for your money, not how much they spend.
  3. Create an atmosphere of transparency and trust from the start. Agencies will respond with extra attention and work to live up to their part of the bargain.
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Canada’s New Anti-Spam Law Could Spank You

Like an iron fist smothered in maple syrup, Canada is sticking it to brands with the toughest email marketing law in the land. And if your company deals in the Great White North, it may apply to you.

Effective July 1, the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) requires businesses to obtain permission to send emails, text messages and possibly social media postings to customers or prospects.

Two Varieties of Consent: Implied or Express

Implied consent requires documented proof of a relationship with a consumer. For example, Jasper in Nova Scotia ordered a batch of squeegees last May and gave you his email address.

Express applies mainly to prospects, or any customer you can’t prove you’ve done business with in the last two years.

To gain the golden stamp of approval, you must dish out opt-in messages and compete with a flurry of others doing the same thing.

While mega brands like Ford entice customers with freebies – a chance to win a free Mustang – small businesses and non-profits don’t have the same resources.

Some experts believe companies will see opt-in rates of less than 20 percent without the help of an agency or digital marketing plan.

Whether you’re a global brand with customers up north, or considering business ventures there, it’s best to have an agency (and lawyer) on your side. Or risk stiff fines – up to $1 million per person, and up 10 times that for companies found in violation – and an email list worth less than a can of spam.

But for now, let’s just hope this crackdown doesn’t spread south of the border.

Read more about CASL here.

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Ideopia Wins Medical Marketing Awards

Ideopia competed with more than 3,000 entrants to win two Gold and two Bronze Medals at the 2014 Aster Awards, which recognize creative accomplishments in medical marketing. And the winners are:

Reliance Medical Products (Mason, OH) — Gold for magazine “Legendary Campaign” for examination chairs

Eyefficient, Inc. (Cleveland Ohio) — Bronze for Eyefficient.com web and mobile sites.

Reichert Technologies (Buffalo, NY) — Gold for “Blink Blog” and email newsletter.

Reichert Technologies — Bronze for magazine “Animal Campaign”

We thank the Asters, the Academy, the Jamaican Bobsled team, and the great clients who work with us as true partners: Steve Juenger, vp of marketing and sales, Haag-Streit USA; and Mark Newkirk in his roles as Director of Global Marketing for Reichert Technologies; and more recently as CEO of Eyefficient, Inc.

See our Aster award winning entries on our WavyBrainy blog.

Learn more at our medical division website, Ideopia Medical Marketing.

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More. Better. Faster: The New Age of Marketing.

The world is running faster, and marketers need to get ahead of it. By the time a conventional marketing plan is created, it’s quite possible that the ground beneath it has moved. Our brands still need strategic gyroscopes, but they need to be created on the fly. It’s time to shed the old rules and approaches, and get fast! Here’s how:

Write long-term, realistic business objectives. But keep the strategies to achieve them shorter term and fluid.

Knowing who you are, why people are excited to come to work, and why your customers do business with you: That’s the core of your marketing not the ad du jour.

Inhale information to feed your brain. Download a good RSS reader. Keep track of your reputation, the competition, consumer and technological trends. Follow your customers and the information they chase. How can you turn it into action today?

Build your content distribution network. It’s the key to achieving ROI with content marketing. Create engaging, informative, funny, shareable content and adapt it to every social media platform you have. If people in your group can’t create content, make it their job to share it.

Accept more risk. Deploy tactics quickly to take advantage of emerging opportunities. Learn what you can from failures and move on. Thinking is good. Acting is better.

Communicate more often across more channels. Content matters, but so does frequency. Tweet, Pin, blog, Friend, and Follow as often as it makes sense.

Be relevant. Concentrate on engaged fans, customers, and potential customers. Tailor content marketing to their needs and wants.

Recruit people within your company but outside the marketing group to join forces on social media.

Have more meetings to share information within your group, but make them shorter. Ten minutes is best.

Get good intel. Spend less time on conventional research, but more time with analytics and monitoring. They tell you what people are actually doing in real time, as opposed to what they might do in the future.

Use the Internet to speed up cycle time for research. Put online focus groups and surveys to work. For even faster response, recruit a panel that’s familiar with your industry.

Be tactical in the short term, but never stop searching for the big idea that could crystallize your brand and catapult you to the next level.

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Choose Your Marketing Weapons Carefully – Infographic

This infographic is like a mini-marketing plan. Pick your goals, e.g. brand awareness, brand loyalty or sales, and it will help you choose the marketing tactics to achieve it.  We know strategies vary from industry to industry, so think of this as something meaty to add to your advertising soup. Or use it as a check list to make sure you haven’t left out an important ingredient.

Download PDF of Marketing Weapon Selector

Mini marketing plan infographic

Download PDF of Marketing Weapon Selector

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Stop Faking It. Get Real with Your Brand.

Slick tricks and smooth talking shuts customers down permanently.

Remember the good old days when advertisers could lie to consumers and get away with it? It sure was a great time for the cigarette industry. Advertisers still lie, but you’ll need bigger cojones and better lawyers. So what’s a brand to do?

Tell the Truth, and Prove It

Does your advertising even sniff of a line like this: Z-Star feature unparalleled service, superior performance, and we’re the sales for (exaggerated number of year). Uh, who cares? Consumers don’t. Brands must be positioned with meaningful benefits. Saying it isn’t enough, you must have a real reason why your brand is better, e.g. “NASA trusts us with its orange juice, and so should you.” Drink Tang. Boom.

Otherwise you risk annihilation on social media and review sites, which spread messages about your brand much more efficiently than any advertising campaign.

Luxury Brands at Risk

A special heads up to luxury brands. An aura of mystique, privilege and exclusivity may not carry the day. Consumers may buy your brand’s cachet, but they’ll also demand pragmatic reasons to make a purchase. A 2011 study at the Edinborough Science Festival found that 460 of its participants could not discern between cheap and expensive wines.

How to Speak with Authenticity

Don’t pander. Don’t “wassup? homey,” with African Americans; “Oy vey,”  with Jews; or “hola,” with Latinos. They’ll spot you as a faker and shut you down  in a second.

Use real people in your brand imagery. We live in a time when our over 13% of population is 65+ and nearly 40% of Americans are obese. I’m not suggesting that we are required to put fat people and old people in every ad. But there needs to be an evolution away from the prototypical emaciated model, too. We’re all imperfect, and our imperfections can actually help us bond with other people. The days of a paid actor endorsement, which just screams fake, are drawing to a close. No wonder so many millennials distrust marketing.

Embrace Criticism

The blowback from honesty is that someone will always disagree. The brilliant cellist Pablo Casals has a hit video on YouTube with more than a million views. Yet 29 people gave it a thumbs down. In the “Mad Men” days advertising this was shrugged off by saying “they weren’t the target audience.” Not today. Your dirty laundry is in the town square for everyone to see. Use complaints as an opportunity to engage online, and show other customers you’re a mensch.

Live the Brand

Listen to consumers on social media. Read review sites. Go on sales calls. Meet distributors. Spy. Until the little voice in your brand is real.

Are you taking steps to get more authentic with your marketing? Tell us in comments below.

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Ants, Advertising and Better Decision Making

Inside view of an ant’s brain

What’s the best way to make a decision? Should you go rogue, or consult with a group? New research about ants gives insight into decision making that you can tryout with picking movies or cracking a gnarly marketing problem.

Popping up an idea into a bold advertising campaign, for example, requires dozens if not hundreds and thousands of decisions. Clients, writers, art directors, account managers, photographers, and animators make them individually or collectively.

Going solo, the psychological impact of excessive choice is overwhelming and counterproductive to decision making. This is why we sometimes settle for the tried and true, like ordering the same latte every day, because you don’t have time to explore the other 40 options.

For people in advertising, especially, settling is not an option. The same old, same old, doesn’t work. So how can we make better creative decisions?

For better results, act like an ant.

By studying ants, Temnothorax rugatulusants, Scientists at the Arizona State University showed that six-legged creatures are just as vulnerable to information overload as we are.

In the experiment, a single ant, and then a colony of ants were unleashed to find the most suitable of eight possible nests. The ants had to consider a number of variables, including the size and darkness of the prospective dwelling, and the characteristics of, and the and opening to their nests, and the size of the opening. In other words, house hunting.

Single ants made poor choices 50% of the time. But the group of ants shared Intel through scents and made better decisions. It’s fascinating that the ants were able to synthesize, when only one had visited all eight nests. “One of them visited all eight nests, but most colony members visited only one or two nests, said Dr. Takao Sasaki, an assistant professor in ASU’s School of Life Sciences.

“What we really want is a more complete understanding as to how this society works as a kind of distributed brain,” said co-researcher and associate professor Stephen Pratt. He further suggests that this type of “distributed brain” may have uses in robotics. Our brains work in a similar way. The frontal cortex takes charge of problem solving after considering decisions made by other parts of the brain.

The downside of collective decision-making is speed, and potential group think. But if you’re ultimate goal is to make an important choice, you’ll do better if you listen to the IT guy, engineering, marketing, and customers, and, of course, the ad agency. None of them will have the complete picture, but exposing additional facets, facts, and conclusions will result in better decision.

In a complex, technological society, no one can has all the answers. So, instead of squishing the next ant you see, you might want to start acting like one.

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Bad Brand Strategy Spoils Creative

We view brand strategy as the guidance system of the brand. When smartly researched and articulated, it can transform companies. It’s also the key reason creative work, from social media and web site development to advertising and web marketing goes haywire. Give creative teams garbage, they’ll give it right back to you in crazy ways you never dreamed of.

Here are the elements of a smart strategy:

1. A worthy objective. Ideally it’s attached to a metric. For example: increase sales 20% for BillyBob’s Bar Stools.

2. A clear definition of a single marketing problem that’s standing between your product, and achieving the objective. For example, Billy Bob’s Bar Stools are more expensive than the competition, and Bar Owners won’t to pay the difference.

3. Definition of your target audience. Be as specific as possible: For example, upscale bar owners and restaurant owners that serve microbrews.

4. A single sentence that states your argument. For example, Marketing will convince Bar Owners that Billy Bob’s Bar Stools are a better investment, because they last twice as long as the competition.

5. A convincing and true claim that supports your marketing promise. Billy Bob’s Bar Stools last longer, because they’re manufactured from construction grade steel.Finally, what does your brand sound like? Does Billy Bob sound like a private club, a college bar, or a neighborhood watering hole.

6. Strategy shouldn’t sound sexy, or like advertising. The goal is to present a clear argument for building your brand. As John Lyons said in his book, <i>Guts</i>, Strategy is a well thought out plan to murder the competition.”

With smart strategy, everybody’s happy. Creatives get the input they need. And you, as a marketing manager, will have a benchmark evaluating your agency’s work.

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