My favorite images from Roby’s adventures in Afghanistan this past week:
Above: Roby’s unit provides medical assistance to a young girl in a village. Local kids taunting him with mad Chuck Norris skills. A local gutter/rudimentary sewer system and an Afghan moo-cow. Either a sunset or a sunrise view from the “tower.” A night patrol with a British unit.
All images copyright 2007 Roby DiGiovine.
Want To Put Agencies Out of Business? Make Better Products.ClickZ had a party on Wednesday night to celebrate 10 years of innovation and excellence in online marketing and advertising.
They invited author and academic Douglas Rushkoff to speak.
Rushkoff exhorted marketers to convince their clients to come up with compelling products. “Teach them how to get back into the business they are in,” he said. “Then you don’t have to make up a story about them.”
I’m attracted to this kind of lofty message. Yet, I can’t help but chuckle. Most agency pros are unable to help their clients grasp the intricacies of marketing communications. Trying to help them reinvent their product or service offerings seems, at least on the surface, an esoteric idea that could only be cooked up in a school.
Not really. While it’s true that most agency pros couldn’t wrap their minds around that concept if a hundred diamond-encrusted Addys were at stake, those of us who have done it know how simple it actually is. Sure, you have to manage a lot of moving parts and you have to live in a lot of different worlds (design, engineering, finance, manufacturing, quality control, marketing, advertising, PR, sales) but it can be done, and done well – at least by certain types of people. Sadly, the business world’s tendency to compartimentalize skills into finite job descriptions (yes, even in ad agency org charts) makes it nigh impossible for anyone with the proper skills to a) market themselves properly, b) capitalize on their talents, and perhaps worst of all c) help their firm and their clients capitalize on those talents.
A firm capable of grasping David’s concept, and putting in place a team of people who know how to do this could make some serious waves over the next few decades – and beyond. Easier said than done? Nope. With a little bit of digging, you could be ready to roll inside of six months at the most.
I tried to explain this to an upper-level honcho at a local creative firm several years ago, and his answer to me was: “We are not – and will never be – in the business of helping our clients develop better products.”
That was probably the most depressing thing I’ve ever heard come out of a creative professional’s mouth – especially since they were in a position to do something really special. But no. The potential I see wasted every day to the lure of the media-buying profit model is astounding. It really is.
You would think that the most creative people in the world would be a bit more imaginative when it comes to monetizing their talents – and maybe a bit more ambitious when it comes to applying their creativity to problems organizations are so desperate to find smart solutions for.
In the end, the product comes first: The message, the creative, the channel and the choice of media don’t mean jack diddles if your product isn’t all that great to begin with.
Paint me blue.
Have a great Friday, everyone.
black·ber·ry [blak-ber-ee, -buh-ree]
–noun, plural -ries.
1. the fruit, black or very dark purple when ripe, of certain species of the genus Rubus.
2. the plant itself.black·ber·ry·like, adjective
“If customers feel like they have discovered a brand themselves, they become much more loyal.”
– Ray Kelvin
Found on the Make Marketing History blog today:
Not everything is at it seems or as is claimed and omissions of lucky breaks and familial connections often hide real insights.
I was reminded of this while reading John Grant’s latest book in which he refers to the brand bandwagon phenomenon by which advertising agencies take credit for building a brand that was already building by itself.
This goes to the heart of the myth that marketing is synonomous with advertising. If you need further proof, I’ve watched a local two-person business grow slowly by selling their clothes from their own store. After eighteen years, there was still no marketing department and not one advertisement had been run in print, radio or TV. But the turnover had risen to the vicinity of £100 million.
There had been much truth in the founder’s gleeful description of seeing her first delivery van (stylishly furnished in the company colours) on the road and thinking it looked like a giant mobile shopping bag. Your retail outlet, be it physical or virtual (and everything that supports it) is a great marketing tool.
Indeed the more of the value chain that your business can isolate and/or commandeer, the greater the possibilities because it is under your control and is directly measurable. You’re not shouting at amorphous crowds through mass media. You’re whispering, enticing and listening and thus approaching a prolonged conversation with live prospects and actual customers.
Now not all businesses will have their own retail outlet, but they should act as if they do. Setting out your stall is what marketing is all about.
Ray Kelvin founder of clothes retailer Ted Baker (market capitalisation £250 million) declares a similar approach in a very rare interview.
..we don’t do valuations and market research; we have an attitude rather than a target market and we don’t advertise. We have a Ted Baker culture instead; people come into the shop and get Ted-ucated. If customers feel like they have discovered a brand themselves, they become much more loyal.
There’s emphasis on speed and the race to raise angel capital, and the thrill of marketing campaigns just to earn the right to take a running jump into the giant pool of companies exactly like yours with clever names and cool logos and posh zipcodes…
… and then there are the little companies that create their own little worlds, sweat the small stuff and and take their time getting discovered by the right core of customers.
Real roots take time to grow. I know we live in the world of here and now, of the 24/7 instant gratification economy in which we all want success and wealth and and fame right this very second… but once you turn off your TV and join the rest of us in the real world, you might come to the realization that the old adage “Easy come, easy go” still applies to everything today.
Throwing oodles of cash at an idea might guarantee a spectacular launch, but it doesn’t hold a candle to hard work, dedication, patience, passion, and a whole lot of attention to detail. (Not to mention luck.)
How do you eat an elephant? One mouthful at a time.
How do you build a castle? One stone at a time.
How do you build a great company? …
“It’s very easy to collaborate with someone who has lots of ideas. (…) This is because people who have lots of ideas are constantly trading up: You have and idea; I have and idea; your ideas is better, let’s go with that. So ideas don’t have this enormous currency. They are just the material that you’re working from.
The worst people to work with are people that — every now and then, once a year — have an idea, because they build a temple around it. And it becomes THE idea.”
– Screenwriter/Director Tony Gilroy
This is so true. If you have ever worked on a project that requires some creative input, then being surrounded by people who either have lots of ideas, or rarely an idea at all, can make or break the flow of the project. This is because ideas are NOT the finish line. They are not something to hold as a trophy. The important thing should be the final product, the execution. As Gilroy said, the ideas are just material to work from.
Of course, the other end of this spectrum is that the generation of ideas can become so fast and fevered that it’s hard to take a step back and focus on one thing and execute it. At some point you need to gather your source material and actually begin to make something. Any additional ideas can be used for the next iteration.
This balancing act is the key to managing projects that require a lot of creative fuel. If you can put together (or stumble upon) a team who has the right mixture of ideas and focus, you should have a nice foundation. This is often why it’s recommended that people looking to form a start-up do a few projects together first, before they officially become partners.
Have a great Tuesday, everyone.