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Archive for November, 2005

The Things That Matter Most

November 23rd, 2005 by Bob Bly

A recent mailing for the National Constitution Center noted somewhat cynically that more teenagers can name the members of the Three Stooges than can name the three branches of government.

What this tells us, I think, is that young people find the government and politics increasingly irrelevant, incompetent, evil, or some combination of these ? and that popular culture plays a more important role in their lives.

I know readers of this blog can name the three branches of government. But is pop culture also important to you?

Answer the questions below and judge for yourself:

1. What is Herman Munster?s home address?
2. What is the serial number on the original U.S.S. Enterprise?
3. Name the three teenage boys who have teamed with Batman as Robin?

And of course, searching the Internet to get the answers is cheating.


Category: General | 46 Comments »

Are Most Blogs Self-Indulgent Drivel?

November 21st, 2005 by Bob Bly

Yes, says Ken Magill, who in the November 2005 issue of Direct writes: ?Outside politics, 99.9% of blog entries are, well, horseblit linked to more horsesblit.?

The reason he cites is that most blogs are written by people who, in his opinion, don?t write very well.

?The vast majority of people are not professional communicators for a reason,? says Ken. ?They don?t do it very well.?

He concludes that blogs are ?the media phenomenon responsible for the publication of more self-indulgent nonsense than any other in the history of the world.?

I find this difficult to argue with. In fact, I agree with it.

Your thoughts?


Category: Blogging | 607 Comments »

The Great Madison Avenue Branding Rip-Off

November 17th, 2005 by Bob Bly

Is Madison Avenue ripping off its clients?

Yes, according to my friend Richard Armstrong, one of the top freelance copywriters working today.

His premise is that the ad world?s emphasis on branding is misguided ? and that branding is only one of many factors (and not the most important factor) in selling.

But let Rich explain?.

?I’ve always said that you could fire a high-powered rifle down the middle of Madison Avenue at high-noon on a weekday and not be in danger of hitting anyone who’d ever read a single book about advertising. There is just very little in the way of what I’d call ?technical expertise’ in the world of general advertising.

?But because it’s impossible to survive in business on bullshit alone, a lot of these guys have focused on ?branding? as the alpha and omega of marketing.

?Get three Madison Avenue types in a room and it’s ?branding? this and ?branding? that. But it’s ridiculous.

?Look, I believe in branding. I’m sure you do, too. But to me, it’s just one of MANY credibility factors that go into an advertisement.

?If the product comes from a company that people know and trust, great ? go ahead and make use of that in your ad. But you CAN?T build your whole marketing campaign around it.?

The conclusion: branding is just one of many CREDIBILITY factors in marketing ? and credibility is just one of multiple factors in selling ? so to devote your advertising to building the brand is to do something like 1/10th of the selling job it should be doing.

Do you agree? If so, is Madison Avenue conning or misleading its clients on a massive sale?

Or is branding indeed the holy grail of marketing? And are Richard and I just out of touch with this great truth?


Category: Branding | 251 Comments »

Reading the Tabloids

November 14th, 2005 by Bob Bly

Several direct marketing gurus have said: “If you want to understand what your market is thinking, read the supermarket tabloids.”

But I’m not sure that’s true any more, after reading some tabloids and finding the headlines below.

By the way, 4 of these headlines are real, and one I made up. Can you spot the fake?

1. Man Poses as CPR Dummy to Meet Women.

2. New James Bond Actor is a CIA Spy in Real Life.

3. Man is So Cruel He Has Ice Water In His Veins.

4. Possessed Pepper Shaker Terrorizes Family.

5. Aliens Settle in San Francisco; Refugees Call Their New Home “Little Mercury.”


Category: General | 42 Comments »

Marketing to Seniors

November 4th, 2005 by Bob Bly

Having just been given an assignment to write a letter aimed at seniors, and rapidly approaching that status myself, I paused to think about what seniors (and near-seniors, like me) think, feel, and believe.

Here?s what I think senior believe:

1. Idiosyncratic, gruff, even crabby behavior is more accepted in the old than the young.
2. The old days were better than today.
3. The moral decay of society is accelerating at an almost exponential rate.
4. Young people think they know everything, but in fact know almost nothing.
5. Society has become coarse and crude.
6. Technology scares them. They don?t understand it. But they wish they did.
7. Their number one fear: outliving their retirement savings and being financially dependent on others.
8. Their number two fear: old age, illness, and death.

Are these on the money? Or are my assumptions off base?

What other beliefs, feelings, desires, and attitudes do seniors hold that you might play upon when selling or marketing to them?


Category: General | 97 Comments »