Advertising Isn’t Dead – The Creative Process Is

advertising is not dead, creative process is Every single year we hear advertising as a whole or the various mediums (ie radio, print, outdoor, etc) are dead. And, every year we see new advances in technology and advertising thrive. There are new mediums emerging and we are expanding advertising so, to say that advertising is dead is ridiculous. Advertising is more alive now than it ever has been. I admit, I am a bit old school when it comes to advertising and, like many, think radio, tv, print, outdoor. But, there is a whole other medium that we tend to not necessarily consider advertising: the social platforms; which are very much alive.

Definition of Advertising

Advertising by definition is “the action of calling something to the attention of the public especially by paid announcements.”  This definition is a bit dated as not all advertising is paid. Focusing in on the “action of calling something to the attention of the public” is what we do each and every single day on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, email marketing, etc. We post updates to draw attention to ourselves to start a conversation and listen to those that respond to us. Smells a lot like advertising doesn’t it? If we were not wanting to get noticed then why would we post the update? For shits and giggles? Hardly. When we flip through the newspaper and catch a glimpse of an ad, we stop and look at the ones that catch our eye. Our attention has been caught and we stop to take a second to look at it further. Commercials, prior to the CALM Act being approved and going it into effect next year, were louder on certain networks than the regular programming to draw attention to them. If we believe that our attention is only had when there is a change in volume, then we know that the purpose of advertising has been lost.

Purpose of Advertising

Wikipedia expands upon the definition of advertising and touches the human behavior element which is the purpose of advertising: “Advertising is a form of communication used to encourage or persuade an audience (viewers, readers or listeners) to continue or take some new action. Most commonly, the desired result is to drive consumer behavior with respect to a commercial offering …” Persuade an audience through communication is why brands advertise. If we persuade then we have them take action and buy. If our advertising does not persuade, we fall short and the desired action is not taken (yes, I realize that there are loyalists and some WOM who would buy regardless of and if they have ever seen the advertising). We could argue that there are some ads out there that are so bad that the element of persuasion is lost however, on the flip side, the advertisement has gotten your attention and through being bad and while it may persuade you to change the channel, flip the page or radio station, you paid attention enough to take some action and associate that ad with the brand.

The Creative Process

Persuasion through communication is powerful. It is that one thing that gets you noticed. Billions of dollars are spent each year on advertising; all vying to get attention. It is not only their target market anymore as we have seen with communications going viral. This helps to draw the attention of the target market and persuade them to buy while giving the brand a boost in some free advertising. If it is worthy then it is noticed. Worthy comes in all shapes and sizes as some are noticed for a negative whereas others are noticed for a positive. We saw this develop recently with FEDEX and the driver throwing the computer monitor over the fence but on the flip side where K-mart who has had a push on layaway and had “layaway angels.” If you are like me, skepticism comes into play here for K-mart as hmh, you make a big push for layaway and then suddenly people pay off others’ layaways as an anonymous donor? Ok it can happen but logically when we really think about it, there were that many people that knew that people struggling had items on layaway and they went to their local store and offered to pay for an unknown person layaway? That begs the question of privacy as the store employee pulled up past due accounts and allowed some stranger to pay for them? Or allowed a person to stand there waiting for a person to come  up and then jump in and pay for it? Maybe I am getting too deep but I do not know about you but when I really break it down, it seems a bit off. Did they do this internally to draw attention to the layaway? Did they get the media blitz to bring more people in to buy and boost sales? If so, I can say brilliant if it was internal and it is not exposed. But is it creative insomuch as a form of advertising?

The Creative Process is Dead

Advertising is not dead but the creative process is. How many small businesses create a creative brief for a Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin account? Hell, even mid to large businesses we have to question if they have  that creative brief. The creativity that we once had has been lost on technology. What we say matters whether that be in a print ad, radio/tv spot or on a social media platform. People see it on all mediums and develop their own opinion. FEDEX was championed for talking about the incident and ensuring that this is NOT what is customary for their drivers. They could have taken the avenue of our drivers are pushed the limit and do what they have to do to ensure that all packages are delivered. We looked at their responses and were quick to give them props. While this was a crisis PR moment for FEDEX, they could have expanded their efforts and posted their own video of how a package should be delivered. We all know how it should be delivered but them showing sets the standard and adds an element of creativity where they could have outlined the standards and made us all watch and be their eyes and ears on the streets. The creative process died when they were reactive and quite proactive to responding to the crisis but failed to turn it around into a positive.

Technology is Killing the Creative Process

The technological advances are astounding. We have come a very long way from the early days of advertising. There is more opportunity now to be creative but it is missed. It is easy to create a commercial that has the spokesperson/mascot, the catchy jingle, the stereotype, humor or lack thereof (it obviously was funny to someone) but is hard to create an ad that speaks to the target market well enough to have them take action and that is a viable ad across the various mediums. We can say that this ad will work well on TV but does that translate over to YouTube? Does that Tweet translate well over on Facebook? Is that even considered, especially for a small business?

Exposure across the mediums has become the goal. More eyes, shares, retweets will gain more exposure but does that exposure resonate and equate to action? Creating a commercial requires a story board. Does anyone have a storyboard or something of  the like for Twitter? Big brands have an agency or department that develops the voice of the brand online which is different than creating a spot but is it really? If we think of Twitter and Facebook as a billboard as each time we update as similar to people flying by on a highway at 65 and catching a glimpse then, we have to treat our social media accounts as advertising. Sure, some are able to sit in traffic on the highway and see all the billboards, especially the digiboards that change which again is like Twitter when we tweet more and more. Social media platforms are advertising and should be treated as such when to comes to the creative process. Technology has changed but the laws of advertising still remain. Be creative and think of each update as an ad for your company as with every update, they see your profile attached to it. Create that creative brief, that buyer persona, that voice of the brand and be consistent. Successful companies are consistent and contained therein is creativity that is not lost on the mediums.

Thoughts? Ideas? Agree that advertising is not dead?

photo credit: Annie Mole

Being New



new to me Being new is hard. We do not always think about it as so much of our lives brings familiarity to us. The stores that we shop, the aisles of the grocery store, the streets we drive. We can hardly remember a time when we did not know where we were going, the channels on the television, the light switches and the plugs in our homes. We have to stop and think for a second and realize that for some, everything is new. EVERYTHING. Sure, we get a new job, a new client, a new car but and while that is exciting and new to us, the rest of our lives are so stable that we forget so much about being the new kid on the block. The new kid has to learn relearn how to create a comfort zone that gives a sense of stability.

Creating a Comfort Zone

Comfort zones are defined within us. Each of us has one and we are drawn back to it in times when we are feeling that uneasiness of being new or unsure of what we are doing. When we are so new to something and have nothing that is familiar, we look around anxiously as if everyone knows that we are new. My relocation to New Jersey has caused me to dig really deep to find the comfort zones. Yes, I lived in NJ for 30 years before moving to Vegas, however, I now have a 6 year old that I did not have when I lived here before. I live in an area that is as foreign to me as self serve gas is to NJ (note to self, DO NOT get out of the car at the gas station to pump gas). My comfort zones are still unknown right now as when I think of what I have experienced over the past 2 weeks with getting lost more than one person should be allotted in a lifetime to trying to get acclimated to the time zone, it all gets a bit fuzzy.

Making Sense of it All

In our own marketing and advertising, it all makes sense to us, because we know it and are so close to it. That is not always the case for someone new. A new customer has no idea of the facade of the building, the streets to get there, the pages on the website to navigate, the credibility of the business. They have to make sense of it all within themselves. That we can attribute to brand image which is valid but has the new customer taken the time to really develop an image of you in a way that you would like them to do or were you chosen because they could not find someone else in that moment? Was there something that they saw of yours (webpage, Twitter, FB, building, flyer, etc) that satisfied an immediate need and that gave them a sense of familiarity that brought them to a comfort zone?

When we are new, we rely solely and exclusively upon others. Their directions, guidance and recommendations, we are at their mercy. We are so vulnerable that it can almost make your skin crawl thinking about it. Imagine for just a second not knowing where the plugs are in your house. Insane. Imagine having to ask someone or Google where the nearest bank is and then how to get there and let’s not forget how to get back or to another destination as no need to come all the way back home when the post office is around the block from the bank. Now think of your new customers. Are they experiencing complete and utter newness not only to you but to the area itself? How can you help them and create a long lasting relationship? Talk to them, see what they are struggling with and how you can help. Online, are you walking them through your website? Do you have a page that is for first time visitors that explains your site and how they can maneuver their way around to get to know  you and also find what they need? Make sense of it all for them.

Adjusting and Becoming a Familiar Face

We are resilient and we adjust to so many situations in life that we tend to look back at the times when we were so scared and laugh. For parents, remember the days leading up to the birth and the fear that overcomes you from how am I going to get this kid out of me to I have no idea how to take care of a baby. After a few days which lead into months which lead into years, we realize that we did know how to take care of a baby. For me now, I do know that I know how to drive and can adjust to the narrow streets, the one ways and traffic challenges that comes with being in New Jersey. It takes a bit of planning and more thought than I am used to but it also allows me to become a familiar face in certain stores, areas of town and gives people a chance to be helpful. It is very easy to say you are helpful to others until it comes into play from those who need the help. I already know which places I will return to and which ones I will drive by and risk getting lost to find its competitor.

We are all new to something at times. How we adjust many times is how we are greeted, guided and treated. Let’s turn that around to our own businesses, job and life. How are we treating those who are new to us? Are we ensuring that they are not going to drive by and risk getting lost finding our competitor?

photo credit: Alan Vernon.

Not Paying Attention To The Details?



paying attention to detailsThe details, they matter. We see imperfections and point fingers when we expected more or see where it could be improved. Easy to do after the fact and we wonder how it was missed. The name, logo, packaging, price point are all attractions for us when we are looking to buy. Secondary which happens in almost an instant is how will this perform and where does it fit into my life and in my home? When we buy we expect it to exceed our expectations as just meeting is not really enticing enough to spend extra for the name brand vs the private label. However, those that pay attention to each and every detail have an edge, an edge that we do not consider each and every day.

Paying Attention to the Details

The details are the obvious that we cover and then the ones that are not so obvious and leave us staring blankly wondering how on earth we missed it. There is so much going on and changes that it is hard to keep up. As we are trying to stay on top of the new Twitter button, Google +1 should it not fail, finding our sizzle in each article we write, keeping up on connections, engaging and searching for growth. This is all so complicated that it starts to have us be all and on top of it all that we miss the details. The details that are noticed and make a difference. It only takes one time for someone to visit and leave for lack of paying attention to the details. The buttons will always be there as will all the latest and greatest shiny new tools but failing to hone in on all of our pages and interactions could cost us.

The Details That Matter

All of them. The look of the website, the location and content in the menu bar, the guiding readers through the pages and asking them what you want them to do, all matter. Each and every page has a purpose and the purpose gets lost in the shuffle. The updating of the pages, the extra space, the comma instead of a period, etc all matter as they serve as a stop gap for users. They stop, notice and they are not paying so much attention to your content as they were as they stop and focus on the error and then trying to get them back on board to focus on the content and not what you missed is not easy.

How We Differentiate With Details

Differentiating is how we are visited before anyone else. We become the 1st choice. In blogging this is what makes us stand out as why we really do this. We cannot deny that we want to be a leader as this turns into relationships, relationships that lead to clients, referrals, speaking engagements, book deals and income. With all the blogs out there it is very tough competition to get noticed, let alone be a first choice. In advertising, commercials and sales pages are carefully crafted to differentiate and get noticed. Pointing out even the smallest of differentiators draws attention to the point where they are not thinking of anything else but that differentiator that we have pointed out. It builds credibility and loyalty.

Zyrtec in one of their spots points out that Allegra cannot be taken with fruit juice, namely orange juice. Is this something that we ever even thought of? Taking medicine with fruit juice has adverse affects? How many times have we taken meds with juice? Hasn’t it been ingrained in us that medications are taken with water? This simple differentiation caused alarm and changed our thinking. It is simple differentiators that we can point out that have people question and trust.

What Details Are You Missing?

Did you miss that extra space that needs to be removed, the call to action, the additional subscribe on other pages than the blog itself or a call to action that is not directing them as to what you want them to do? If you have, you are not alone. We learn new things and have to consider if they are going to help us attain our goals and increase our customer share. Will that new button be a differentiator with adding it or by not adding it? Are all your pages in tip top shape and offering your readers and visitors an experience that is to be remembered? These details matter more than we think about each day. We visit so many sites and update our social profiles as without ever really realizing that we are doing it or what purpose it is serving other than staying in contact.

Unsure what you are missing? That is ok as we are here to help. We offer comprehensive site reviews so that you can concentrate on making the first impression that leads to success. We are accepting a limited number of new clients for site reviews so don’t hesitate, contact us today and turn your website into a  high performing site.

photo credit: Applegurl ♥♫♥

Last Call



last callLast call, the two most dreaded words that are such a mood kill when we are out with our friends pushing the envelope on sacrificing sleep for a good time and that extra drink (or two). We are having fun and the drinks are flowing and then we hear it, and panic sets in. What? Already? The sudden fill of emotions that go through our heads and whether we were going to have more, suddenly we are. The urgency has been created as if you do not take advantage of this moment, it will be gone. We cannot recreate that night as it is now ending and is a thing of the past. So, we heed the calling and indulge. Last call is so powerful but yet we never really take that to heart.

Moments in Time

I admit, I am a bit on edge. I am a chock-full of emotions as my son has his kindergarten graduation presentation today. I know thatkindergarten so many before me have gone through this and so many after me will but its personal to me. My lil boy who just 6 years ago was this little peanut that was wiggling and giggling just about every minute he was awake is now losing teeth and entering a new phase in life where he is committing to an education and will be going on a journey through each grade. For me, it is that moment of clarity that goes far beyond that last drink. It is that moment after last call where we are being kicked out that we start reflecting on the fun we had that night. I find myself looking back on this year and his innocence on that first day of school where he stood so proud to be in school. He could not wait to get his hands on that classroom and learn. If you follow me, you know that his kindergarten is only half day for all of 2.5 hrs which has been a big change has his preschool was 5 hrs so as it seemed like we were moving backwards, we moved so far forward this past school year that I still shake my head in amazement.

Moving Forward

After we absorb those 2 words of Last Call, we think what is next? Where do we go from here? In the immediate it is who is buying? Then in that immediate future it is waiting for the ride home or heading to the diner to fill up on greasy food to try and counteract the affects of the alcohol the next morning. What happens in the distant future, like the next day? Sometimes we feel like shit and depending upon how much we indulged, are dead in the bed. We hate ourselves then but when we are doing it, we have no real thoughts of that intense hate we feel as it was fun and after a few drinks, we have the “f- it, why not” feeling. Ever have that with a blog post or a comment that you leave? Sure, we all have.

Last Call

Last call is all about creating urgency. In advertising, we create urgency constantly. Infomercials take the crown on this as “if you buy in the next few minutes we will double your order” or we see on the home shopping networks with the deal of they day. In online we see the introductory offer. Urgency. Be a part of the few that get in while it is good. The urgency is more than buying now, it is being a  part of the select few that are getting the deal. In our advertising are we creating the urgency for them to get the deal or better said, we creating the emotional attachment where they the need exceeds the want? We buy from need. The need is scalable as we need soap, shampoo, food, clothing, shelter but yet the brands that we purchase deepen that need. In the grand scheme of things, we do not need a Dooney and Burke purse but yet we “need” it. Image and emotional attachment to success.

Last Call in Blogging

Is there such a thing? Something to think about as we create the content, post it and want people to feel that urgency to come and read it. We ponder headlines as we know the headline will get it clicked on but the content has to pay off. It does sometimes and others it bombs and is dead in the bed. Bringing it back to my emotional state coupled with my experience in advertising and marketing and such a focus on human behavior and experiences therein, we cannot deny that there is a last call in all of us. The push and pull as we write and push our content while all the while pull from others to stimulate our brain to gather new ideas.

Sometimes I think that bloggers are their own species as we live everywhere but yet nowhere. We are generating and creating content that is sometimes feels similar to billboard adverting or late night tv ads that generally are the “bonus” in a tv buy (a/k/a a freebie on an off channel to fill a spot but to the advertiser equates to exposure) where we are waiting for the people to see it flash by but yet take a minute and click (and then of course share this treasure they have found). The offering for a blog is be a part of an online community that is building or is built already and this connection is building acceptance in the online world. If we all are retweeting the big guys we are immediately associated and batting for the same team (in this case the same team of acceptance).

In the end, blogging is a form of advertising as are our websites and Twitter, LinkedIn and any other platform. We are putting ourselves out there to be seen and entice. Our offer is almost secondary as they have to see us/it first. We have to create the last call urgency to get them to notice and then react. We have to have them rush to the bar regardless if they wanted that last drink or not. It is asking them to come back with some non verbal cues through writing to and for them that makes them walk away wanting more. Isn’t that what urgency is all about? After we buy and have it in our hands, we may love it but yet the urgency is gone and we move on to new urgency. Kinda depressing but yet invigorating.

Each day I am grateful for every reader, every comment, every tweet, LinkedIn, Facebook and Stumbleupon share but mostly I am grateful for the platform that all of you have afforded to me that allows me to give a little piece of me. I may never be the smartest, use the power big words, or have the greatest impact but yet I will be the most determined as I am a behaviorist at heart (did I just make up a title? OY!)

photo credit: erocka