Give Every Marketing Effort an Extra Boost

Posted by | Creativity | No Comments

Bonus for Marketers

Marketers are always looking for an edge. I know of something that’s worked forever for many of the world’s best brands.

You’re undoubtedly familiar with it. It’s called creative thinking.

I’m not just talking about the so-called creative piece (although that’s a fine place to start). Creative thinking should be applied to all major marketing elements – offer, media, segmentation, feedback collection, and more.

Why? Because creative marketing tends to be more responsive. More profitable. Even more rewarding to develop.

Sure, extraordinary marketing may cost more than ordinary options. But quite often, the former is actually cheaper to run than the latter.

Creative thinking should be thought of as a bonus that lifts results — often by a big margin. So apply it consistently.

The Next Big Thing for Excellent Marketing Agencies

Posted by | Entrepreneurship | No Comments

bend in road around the corner

The best marketing agencies don’t just create incredible marketing. They grow startups into important businesses. Turn struggling companies into powerhouses. Even build new business categories.

I predict great agencies will increasingly conceive campaigns for high-potential businesses that don’t exist. So they’ll launch them from scratch. And when necessary, organize crowdfunding drives or other funding efforts to get them off the ground. In some cases, they’ll operate for extended periods without outside funding or take these startups past the proof-of-concept stage before seeking outside capital.

Why not? Barriers to entry are, in many cases, lower than ever. In comparison to decades past, imagination often matters more and startup capital matters less.

Of course, having the right team is essential. Agencies put together innovation teams all year long. On top of supplying outstanding marketing, great agencies have the skill to recruit exceptional management teams.

Instead of receiving standard time-based fee income (which often doesn’t reflect the full value of an agency’s contribution), compensation will truly be value-based. They’ll get an appropriate equity stake.

Perhaps we’ll see surprising partnerships set up to build these businesses that include marketing agencies traditionally considered competitors. This much is certain: Agencies that go this route won’t complain about having a timid client.

What Marketing Executives Don’t Say Often Enough

Posted by | Marketing Innovation | No Comments

Best Of World Sign

An ambitious marketing executive — who happened to be a potential client for our content marketing agency — said he wanted to launch “the best marketing in the world next year.”

Of course, the remark was music to our ears. Know how frequently we hear that sort of thing? Let’s just say not often enough.

The marketing field has lots of managers doing a competent job. But too many singles hitters who, for a variety of reasons, don’t aim high enough. I suspect many of my peers in quality-driven shops would agree.

Hoping to do amazing stuff? Think about telling a marketing agency you’re out to run the best work of your career. Break records. Win awards. Unleash a campaign for the ages.

If you mean it and direct your statement to the right gang it may just happen.

Diversity Makes Everything Better. Including Marketing.

Posted by | Marketing Innovation | No Comments

Diversity Pencils

Years ago I worked with Synectics, the innovation consultants who pioneered techniques to unleash creativity in business.

In The Practice of Creativity by Synectics co-founder George Prince, readers learn that diverse problem-solving teams are more likely than homogeneous teams to successfully solve problems requiring creative thinking.

So when confronted with a serious marketing challenge, if you’re out to maximize your odds of success, you don’t want to merely assemble your marketing staff around a conference table. It’s best to include people from other functional areas.

But you shouldn’t stop there. You’ll improve your odds even more by adding people who bring another important perspective to the table. People who regularly solve tricky marketing problems for a variety of businesses.

Outside marketing experts.

You’ll notice almost all of the world’s best brands rely on external marketing teams. They regularly keep them busy, to lift everyone’s level of play and consistently see better outcomes.

In the healthiest marketing organizations, internal staffers welcome contributions from the outside. Employees view external experts as collaborators, not competitors. Marketing leaders encourage efforts to assemble diverse problem-solving teams. The focus remains on what gets done and what it accomplishes rather than who does it.

Some marketing executives think it’s more cost-effective to keep everything in-house; many subtly or overtly push employees in that direction. Initially it may be less costly, but very often, it isn’t more cost-effective. Marketing is a business where a change to one variable can make all the difference. In some cases an agency staffer will be the only person willing to tell senior managers what they need to hear, even when it isn’t what they want to hear. And of course, external experts bring valuable skills to important marketing assignments.

Excellent marketing agencies often contribute exponentially more in revenue than what they’re paid. The return on investment from a good external agency or person is often outstanding.

The alternative is a monopoly among internal marketing staff. We all know the problems associated with monopolies, including reductions in innovation.

Diversity really does make everything better.

The New Marketer Said to the Veteran Marketer, “You’re Basing Your Big Decision on THAT?”

Posted by | Marketing Testing | No Comments

Young Woman Confused Recent graduates don’t get it.

As marketing students, they’re taught to sample in representative ways – and build adequate sample sizes. They learn the hazards of receiving misleading feedback – and relying on misinterpreted responses.

Then they get entry-level marketing jobs and are invited to sit behind a one-way mirror and observe a famously unreliable (but properly catered) event considered by many a staple of marketing research.

The focus group. Where a collection of strangers join a moderator and become – for one magical moment – armchair critics of advertising concepts or even completed advertisements.

Need C-level executives with authority to approve an enterprise security solution with a six-figure price tag? No problem, according to focus group facilitators.

Focus groups offer qualitative advantages, but the problems with these artificial arrangements include sample sizes too small to yield projectable results; atypical prospects recruited through cash payments; misleading responses resulting from the presence and behavior of peers; and reports for marketing agencies and clients based on misinterpreted feedback.

Amazingly, marketers often make decisions involving millions of dollars based on these flawed exercises with a tiny number of consumers or business prospects.

Very often, a better alternative is live testing of completed advertising.

In the real world, we’ve quickly tested as many as three new campaign directions against an existing approach, using a call to action. Rather than rely on what people say they’ll do, we make decisions based on how they actually behave in the marketplace. We’re talking about controlled experiments with sample sizes large enough to project rollout results with a high degree of confidence.

Testing this way helps ensure that superior campaigns get out there. They often account for the difference between red and black ink.

Online testing is fairly new (Google launched AdWords in 2000), but split-run testing is, well, time-tested. Claude Hopkins, reportedly America’s highest-paid copywriter in the early 1900s, discussed split-run testing using a call-to-action in his 1923 marketing bestseller, Scientific Advertising. The technique was embraced by Claude’s contemporaries including John Caples, author of Testing Advertising Methods and BBDO’s direct response genius-in-residence for decades. David Ogilvy said Scientific Advertising “changed the course of my life.”

I’ve yet to figure out why the technique isn’t more widely used. Live, controlled, low-cost testing options are available across online and offline media. All it takes is marketers willing to think like recent graduates. For perennial students of the craft, there’s no better way of keeping score. And continuously improving.

Marketing Lessons From a Graffiti Artist

Posted by | General Marketing | No Comments

banksy

Thousands of artists live in New York City. Each year, thousands of others visit. But one managed to capture the attention of New Yorkers — and a substantial chunk of America — throughout October.

His name, or pseudonym, is Banksy — a British graffiti artist, social commentator, and provocateur who recently completed what he called “an artist’s residency on the streets of New York.”

Tonight, when I Googled “Banksy,” I got back 23.3 million results. On October 31, bidding closed at $615,000 for a thrift shop painting he reworked. The banal landscape, featuring a Nazi officer added by Banksy, was appropriately dubbed “The Banality of the Banality of Evil.”

What should marketing pros and other creative people take away from the Banksy phenomenon?

OVERNIGHT SUCCESS USUALLY TAKES YEARS. Banksy began as a graffiti artist in 1990 — almost a quarter century ago.

IT’S GOOD TO GO BIG. Banksy’s traffic-stopping mobile installation, “Sirens of the Lambs,” depicting toy farm animals heading to a slaughterhouse (the artist called it a statement on the “casual cruelty” of meatpacking) required 60 plush toys, 4 puppeteers, and a slaughterhouse delivery truck with driver. Its YouTube video presently has more than 3.6 million views.

CONTEXT MATTERS. When Banksy put his paintings up for sale on a street with a sign that read “SPRAY ART” and another with “$60″ in a starburst, hardly anyone noticed. The day’s final tally came to $420 for paintings that may have been worth more than $1 million. The medium is indeed the message.

FREQUENT POSTS PAY. Banksy didn’t just create a work of art each day of his New York “residency”; he posted details daily on a website called “Better Out Than In.” Some marketers worry about posting too often; most don’t post often enough.

LEADERS TAKE A STAND. In an op-ed The New York Times rejected, Banksy railed the design of the new World Trade Center. It pissed some people off, but he considered it important to speak out. Great ones aren’t afraid to tackle controversial topics.

PEOPLE LOVE SURPRISES. Each day, New Yorkers eagerly awaited Banksy’s next move. No one knew where his artwork would pop up next. The mysterious artist never showed his face, but he seemed ubiquitous. Excellent marketing is never predictable. It’s often surprising.

EXPERIMENTATION IS ESSENTIAL. One could think of this “residency” as one big social experiment. It included graffiti that made Banksy famous — along with work that clearly required the artist to stretch. “Sirens of the Lambs” was considered a tour de force, but some of his words fell flat. That’s how it tends to go. We’ve often said the best marketers are the best testers.

Friendly suggestion: Try being more like Banksy.

Our New Site Is Live / Now The Serious Work Begins

Posted by | Contenteurs | No Comments

New & Improved Starburst

Common occurrence among service-oriented marketing services firms: When clients call, you bump your own work. That’s been a recurring theme since v1.0 of the Boston area marketing agency then known as Rosenthal Direct. (For the few interested in our monikers over the past quarter century, after operating as Rosenthal Direct for eight years, in 1997 the agency became Passaic Parc; in 2006, we renamed it Mothers of Invention; finally, one year ago the shop morphed into Contenteurs, to reflect our desire to deliver a different level of marketing content.)

But here we are at last with a shiny new site. And we’re quite proud of how it came together.

You’ll notice we put our accomplishments front and center on home page sliders. After developing record-breaking campaigns for dozens of businesses — a track record few advertising agencies can match — we knew it would be a differentiator. And in the “Clients” section you’ll see we’ve assisted some of the world’s most respected brands.

But the differences don’t end there. We emphasize the fact that Contenteurs has run thousands of marketing experiments. We haven’t seen it all, but we’ve certainly seen enough to guide clients toward the most important tests. Marketers aiming to test their way to the optimal content marketing mix get a team that has stepped through tests of every major advertising variable.

Speaking of optimization, I’m currently writing a book on the subject. The working title is Optimarketing: The Marketing Optimization Book. It’s based on the marketing optimization methodology we’ve evolved through the years.

Of course, a website is only as valuable as its visitors — and customers. So now we begin the all-important job of attracting marketers able, willing, and ready for, as home page slider #3 says, “marketing content that makes a measurable difference.”

Optimarketing is a trademark of Contenteurs.

Coming This Fall: Your Most Profitable Marketing Ever

Posted by | General Marketing | No Comments

CPNYFALL-1024x681
For ambitious marketers, this could be a fall like no other. A season of unprecedented innovation.
A time to take your game up a notch – or three.

But only if you make the right moves.

It starts with an essential aspect of successful innovation: excellent collaboration. You or your designated facilitators should bring together your knowledge base – including a diverse collection of employees, customers, and others capable of contributing valuable insights. Read More

Work in Progress: Optimarketing, the Marketing Optimization Book

Posted by | Optimarketing | No Comments

Optimarketing-Logo-Best-One-1024x483
I’ll tell you about the book I’m writing in a moment. First, some background.

Around here, it’s about outcomes. Specifically, the measurable sort. Marketers come to us when they want something different. Never for the sake of being different. Most simply want to do what it takes to raise the odds of seeing a good or great outcome.

So we’ve run experiments. Lots of marketing experiments. Read More

New Day, New Marketing Era

Posted by | Contenteurs | No Comments

Sunrise-Over-Boston
Early in my career, I concluded that measurability would revolutionize marketing. Today, I’m convinced the same is true of content. That’s why I’m proud to announce a different type of content marketing service: Contenteurs.

Contenteurs isn’t just for managers who see a continuous need for marketing content. It’s for those motivated to produce relevant, captivating, engaging, smart, cost-effective content.

Yep, now you can get all this from one source: web design, video production, and mobile apps. As well as demand generation, social media marketing, and lead nurture programs. Plus lots of other good stuff, for well below the cost of big agencies.

Choose one of our services or have us create an integrated campaign that impacts your marketing mix across the board. Either way, you’ll get high-impact content.

Interested? Let’s chat. Please accept our complimentary content marketing consultation.