The late great comedian George Carlin was an expert at dissecting various types of human behavior and idiosyncrasies and making them laughable. George’s special talent was to enlighten us and help us see what we’d overlooked during the course of our busy lives.
Perhaps the best example of this is embodied in George’s classic routine on “Euphemisms”.
It could be the ultimate business mantra. Brilliant and simple. A no-nonsense axiom if there ever was one. Repeat it over and over again. Thomas J. Watson (the former Chairman and CEO of IBM), Peter Drucker (a management consultant and self-described “social ecologist”), and a host of others have been credited with originating this mote of business wisdom. Regardless of its origin it’s important to understand how it impacts each of us as individuals and the culture of business.
Not For Spectators
What I’m about to say is probably NOT going to be a shocking revelation. Everything in business revolves around sales. That’s right, unless you work in a total vacuum (or for the government) everything you do in some way influences or assists in the overall sales effort, either for your own business or your employer. Even in our personal lives we promote or “sell” our value to clients, employers and those in our network.
In the recent Apple v. Samsung case the U.S. court passed down a judgment which favored Apple. The case is based on Apple’s assertion that Samsung copied portions of the Apple iPhone and iPad operating system/product design features and then incorporated them into similar Samsung phone and tablet products. Apple further asserted that the copying of their products amounts to theft since Apple had no licensing in place with Samsung nor any other usage agreement. The $1.05 billion judgment against Samsung is significant, but that amount represents only 1.5 percent of the company’s total annual revenue. So the Seoul, Korea based electronics giant should survive intact. Interestingly, Google who created the Android operating system used on Samsung phones was not named as a defendant in this legal battle.
How is this ruling likely to affect consumers?
I believe that sales of Samsung and other non-Apple phones will take a short term hit. Apple has also filed to have the Court ban the sale of 8 current models of Android phones In the U.S. This includes the Droid and the hugely popular Galaxy S and Galaxy S II models. The new Galaxy S III model will not be impacted. Some consumers may see this as sufficient reason to purchase an iPhone or iPad instead of an Android based Samsung product. Why? Because they don’t want a product that is perceived as a poor copy of an original. They seek authenticity.
Your clients think you’re a Rockstar. However, calculating how much time and effort to invest into a potential new client relationship involves evaluating how much income is possible offset by the real cost to secure the business. It’s an important decision – one you’ll need to seriously consider.
In the past, marketing, advertising or creative businesses have often pitched their services to a new client (as portrayed in the popular AMC dramatic series “Mad Men”with coverage in industry publicationADWEEK Magazine). Generally speaking, the Agency endeavors to create a series of meetings and capabilities presentations that are designed to wow and impress the new client and hopefully culminate in a contract for the Agency’s services. Corporate marketing departments function in a similar manner whereby client-vendor relationships with other company departments (and the new business courtship) is handled internally.
Staying competitive requires a well-designed and skillfully executed marketing strategy. When in place, marketing will help create a pipeline for new business and keep the enterprise on track for continued success. In the event marketing does not perform to the expectation and satisfaction of management they must discern the reason and quickly remedy the problem.
So in response to the many inquiries I’ve received from businesses on this subject I’ve created a “check list” which is included below. I hope you enjoy it and find it a useful guide.
1. Check your marketing plan.
Do you have a formal written marketing plan which is regularly updated? Does your plan clearly define your goals and objectives for the enterprise? Are all requirements reflected in the plan?
Graphic Design is unique among the professions in many ways, and one of the most striking is the lack of gravitas accrued by practitioners as they gain experience. With lawyers and accountants, for example, their perceived value increases in relation to their years of practice. In the field of design, however, it is well understood that if you are much over 40 or 50, the likelihood of being hired by an marketing or advertising agency is remote. One could almost say it is inversely proportionate to the number of years one gets beyond the magic four-o.
Even though the legendary Paul Rand was productive up to the year he passed away (age 82 in 1996), and Milton Glaser continues to work into his 80’s, the rest of us seem to be struggling against a cultural perception that after a certain age, designers can no longer keep up or remain relevant. This is ironic because we are the generation that invented the youth cult in the 60’s, and now it is coming home to haunt us like the Ghost of Woodstock Past.
When people ask me if I’ve watched a recent TV show or movie I will typically fess up and tell them “no”. I’ll go on to explain that I’m often too busy to watch most TV programming. But honestly that’s only half true. Many times these shows require you to watch them regularly or you’ll miss a lot of the story line. That type of TV programming is fine for some but it’s not really practical for me since I spend relatively little time in front of “the box”.
Believe it or not I do find something very interesting on TV. Amazingly, it’s television ads.
In my opinion two of the best TV ads in recent memory were the Snickers“You’re not you when you’re hungry” game ad and the Dos Equis beer “The World’s Most Interesting Man” ad.
Here is the 2010 Super Bowl “Snickers” ad with veteran actors Betty White and Abe Vigoda (by BBDO, New York):
It probably won’t come as news to anyone that members of Congress are currently embroiled in an effort to approve a bill to raise the U.S. debt. This unfolding event has all the outward drama and intrigue of a TV soap opera. (CNN news story link) To add to the drama the U.S. Treasury has given Congress until August 2, 2011 to agree on the debt we as Americans will assume and share with countless future generations. Our debt now consumes roughly 70 percent of the annual U.S. gross domestic product. A few short years ago the U.S. debt accounted for “only” 40 percent of annual GDP. As a comparison, Greece’s current debt hovers at 125 percent of GDP.
Okay, why do we accept government overspending in the first place? Why are the members of Congress and the Executive Branch somehow exempt and not held accountable? Every U.S. citizen knows the consequences of irresponsible money management: deteriorating credit scores, bankruptcy, home foreclosure, loss of job, fines and penalties – even jail time.
In a recent Psychology Today blog titled “Working Creativity” by Mark Batey, Ph.D. the author asserts that creativity is quickly becoming “our most essential success skill”. I couldn’t agree more with Batey. Creativity not only implies “originality” and “exclusivity” but “new” as well. It’s also an “expressive” process according to the dictionary. So why has Creativity become such a hot topic and declared an important trend with a serious impact on our future? I think I can share with you at least part of the answer to that question.
As America began to change from a manufacturing based economy to a services based economy we also became part of the enormous world labor pool. Plus the years of cheap and abundant energy were over. Our lifestyles changed dramatically. As a result we’ve been driven to re-examine our products, our services and how we stack up competitively within a fast paced global labor market. This discovery was really a wake up call and an epiphany for all of us. The dawn of a New Age in America.
What are the things you need to consider before hiring a professional marketing, advertising or public relations firm?
Hiring a firm to help you with your marketing or communications is an important decision for any business owner to make. But it doesn’t need to be a confusing or intimidating ordeal. Just follow these basic guidelines to find the firm that is a suitable match to your needs:
1. It’s important to consider agencies who have clients that are similar to the size of your business and have comparable marketing/PR budgets. Why? Because large agencies are known to turn over the service of “smaller” accounts to junior staffers. Naturally, agency heads are interested in their largest and best paying clients and will often personally service a large client. Hire the agency that will commit to the level of service you need today and for years to come.