Make Up Your Mind to Be Happy

Robert Louis Stevenson (Knox series, Wikipedia)

Robert Louis Stevenson (Knox series, Wikipedia)

Robert Louis Stevenson, no stranger to pain and suffering, has often been cited as the author of these 12 exhortations on How to Be Happy.

Whether his or not, the principles are worth consideration:

1. Make up your mind to be happy. Learn to find pleasure in simple things.
2. Make the best of your circumstances. No one has everything, and everyone has something of sorrow intermingled with gladness of life. The trick is to make the laughter outweigh the tears.
3. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Don’t think that somehow you should be protected from misfortune that befalls other people.
4. You can’t please everybody. Don’t let criticism worry you.
5. Don’t let your neighbor set your standards. Be yourself.
6. Do the things you enjoy doing but stay out of debt.
7. Never borrow trouble. Imaginary things are harder to bear than real ones.
8. Since hate poisons the soul, do not cherish jealousy, enmity, grudges. Avoid people who make you unhappy.
9. Have many interests. If you can’t travel, read about new places.
10. Don’t hold post-mortems. Don’t spend your time brooding over sorrows or mistakes. Don’t be one who never gets over things.
11. Do what you can for those less fortunate than yourself.
12. Keep busy at something. A busy person never has time to be unhappy.

Here’s another and perhaps more personal perspective on giving thanks when life is hard, shared by my daughter today. If it strikes a chord with you, pass it on.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Best Steak Marinade Ever…Again (New Recipe!)

What's YOUR favorite cut?

What’s YOUR favorite cut?

A couple years ago, I shared a steak marinade recipe that I picked up from a fellow Big Green Egg fan at a local Eggfest, that was especially good on cuts like tenderloin, sirloin, and anvil or flatiron steaks.

In that post I also wrote about the difficulty of finding a well-marbled steak in our part of the country (eastern Washington), where USDA Select and grass-fed beef seem to be what people are looking for.  In particular, I singled out Safeway for pulling all their USDA Choice beef steaks as they were ramping up their “Rancher’s Reserve” branding program.

However, Safeway was recently purchased by Albertsons (itself owned by Cerberus Capital Management) and among the changes they’ve been making in the store is a return to selling USDA Choice grade beef.  It’s a step in the right direction and I hope this signals an improvement in their steak offerings.

Still, finding a well-marbled steak remains a challenge, and there are times one must settle for “b-a-d” – the best available deal.  In the hope of improving the flavor of some ribeyes that fell into that category, I came up with a surprisingly tasty variation of the previous recipe, wanting not so much to color the flavor of the steaks as to simply intensify their natural beefiness.  Here’s the recipe for my rib steak marinade.  It’s simple and astonishingly good.

Rod’s Ribeye Marinade for less marbled steaks:

1 tall can Guinness Stout
2 shots Bourbon whiskey
1 generous teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon EVOO
1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
Half-teaspoon coarse black pepper

Whisk ingredients together and pour into 2-gallon size zip lock baggie(s) with steaks.  Will marinate 6 steaks.

Try it and let me know what you think.

Elk Steak

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Radio Is Dead. Long Live Radio.

CBC’s “Under The Influence” radio program, hosted by Terry O’Reilly, recently devoted an entire show to illustrate, in Mr. O’Reilly’s words: “…the incredible creativity happening in radio advertising around the world today.”

First stop: Hanover, Germany, where a music school used radio to recruit top music students by making their email address invisible to all but those with perfect pitch.


According to O’Reilly:

There is a music school in Frankfurt, Germany called the University of Hannover Academy of Music.

It is an elite school for musicians.

Hannover wanted to recruit specific people: Those with “perfect pitch.”

If you have perfect pitch, it means you can identify a specific musical note without any other external assistance or context.

If you think that’s easy, try it now: Sing an “A” off the top of your head.

Only one in 10,000 of us can do that.

In Europe and North America, some studies suggest that less than 3% of the population can do it. Yet, 98% have absolute colour recognition.

That’s how rare Perfect Pitch is.

So the University of Hannover’s Music Department wanted to recruit people with perfect pitch.

But how could they do that on radio?

By doing this:

Because people with Perfect Pitch can identify every note on the musical scale, the Hannover School of music communicated to them in a way only they would understand.

The music notes spell out the school’s email address.

It was an ingenious use of radio because it did two things:

One: It gave the school heightened awareness and spoke to the creativity of the school. And two: This commercial became the first entrance exam.

Only those with perfect pitch would pass the test by emailing the school.

It was a huge success for the university. Allowing them first crack at the most talented crop of new students.

All done with the innovative use of radio.

Clever, no?

But this is just the tip of the Snickers bar.  Stay with the program and you’ll hear about how all the radio stations in Puerto Rico switched formats one morning to sell that candy bar.  And how Colombia used music on radio to communicate with kidnapped soldiers and send them a message of hope.  And, back in Germany, how radio achieves a new level of intrusiveness in reaching drivers with a powerful Don’t Drink and Drive message.

Terry O’Reilly understands the power of radio – the power of sound, and of human connection.  In response to the question, What’s going to happen to radio?  he replies:

I’m always amused by that question, because the subtext is that radio is in trouble.

To that I say – radio is the ultimate survivor.

It was the first-ever broadcast medium, and it went on the air way back in the 1920s, both in Canada and the United States.

Warren Harding was the first American President to speak on public radio in 1922, and Prime Minister Mackenzie King was the first Canadian leader to be broadcast in 1927.

Radio seemed like a miracle – because it the first time an entire country could hear a live sound at exactly the same time.

Since then, radio has survived the competition of motion pictures, television, VCRs, PVRs and now, the internet.

If I had to put my finger on why radio has survived, I would have to say because it is such a “personal” medium.

Radio is a voice in your ear. It is a highly personal activity. People rarely listen to radio in groups, the way an entire family might sit in front of the television, or go to a theatre to see a movie.

Radio is local. It broadcasts news and programming that is mostly local in nature. And through all the technological changes happening around radio, and in radio – be it AM moving to FM moving to satellite radio and internet radio, basic terrestrial radio survives into another day.

And in the world of advertising and marketing, radio continues to be incredibly innovative.

A couple of my favorite illustrations from the program had to do with Radio’s tackling of the problem of breast cancer.   Every October (Breast Cancer Awareness Month), many radio stations join the worldwide effort to educate their listeners about this disease.

In Israel, radio stations got together with the Israel Cancer Association and did something highly creative.

8am is the highest peak of listenership on morning radio. More people tune in at that hour than at any other hour of the day. And as a result, advertisers pay the highest rates in that time period.

On October 30th, at 8:05am, radio stations in Israel did something they had never done before.

All morning shows broadcasted out of the right speaker only.

They did that to convey the idea of what it is like to lose one breast, to lose one part of a whole.

And to achieve maximum reach of that message, every radio station in the entire country silenced their left speaker simultaneously at 8:05am:

Every station assured their listeners they weren’t hearing a malfunction, that the one-channel broadcast was intentional to bring awareness to breast cancer, and every station urged women to get tested. The project was called “The Day Radio Went Mono.” It generated tremendous awareness, and press in all other mediums wrote hundreds of stories about it. But here’s the important part: The amount of help-line calls increased by 98%. And mammography testing increased by 24%. Extraordinary results – generated by the creative use of radio.

Meanwhile, over in Malaysia, a radio station was tackling the topic of breast cancer in a different way. BFM 89.9 is a radio station in the city of Petaling Jaya that focuses on business news – hence its slogan, “The Business Station.” Working with the Breast Cancer Society of Malaysia, BFM 89.9 wanted to reach their listeners in a unique way during Breast Cancer Awareness month in October. The radio station has a highly educated, successful business audience, but research showed that same audience ignores basic cancer awareness messages. So BFM 89.9 chose to break the rules of radio. They interrupted their regular business news with breast cancer awareness messages – but did it by incorporating those messages seamlessly into their news reports, delivered by the newscasters themselves. Read in exactly the same style:

To BFM’s listeners, it must have come as a shock to be listening intently to business news then suddenly hear that rolling nipples between the thumb and index finger is a way to check for lumps and indications of pain. It was that last line you just heard that makes this campaign so effective. Not only does it give men and women direction on how to check for breast cancer, it highlighted one of the most important aspects of breast cancer: That it can come when you least expect it. It was a brave and incredibly creative way to communicate to an audience that ignores the usual breast cancer messages. And the degree of difficulty was high, because the format of an all-business station makes it difficult to do something fresh and compelling. It was simply a radio idea that was impossible to ignore.

Impossible to ignore. 

Reminds me of Tony Schwartz’s famous observation about God’s gift to Radio: He created human beings without earlids.

Herein lies the real secret to Radio’s power to move people: its intrusiveness, combined with the fact that speech is man’s primary form of communication (whereas print is an imitation of speech).  Three decades ago, David Ogilvy circulated a memo to his employees.  It contained ten points on How to Write.  Writing well was non-negotiable if you expected to go anywhere at his agency.  Point #10:  “If you want ACTION, don’t write. Go and tell the guy what you want.”

And that’s something at which Radio continues to excel.

CLICK HERE for full transcript of Terry O’Reilly’s “Under the Influence” broadcast, Radio is Dead.  Long Live Radio.
Posted in Advertising (General), Branding, Business, Communication, Consumer behavior, Copy, information overload, Internet, Ogilvy, Problem-solving, Radio Advertising, Radio Commercials, Radio Production, Storytelling, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

It’s Not What You Get, but What you Become

John_Ruskin_-_Portrait_-_Project_Gutenberg_eText_17774He said: “The highest reward for a person’s toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it.”

He also, more famously, said:

“There is scarcely anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse, and sell a little more cheaply. The person who buys on price alone is this man’s lawful prey.”

John Ruskin (born on this date in 1819) was an artist and art critic, a  writer and philanthropist, and a prominent social thinker.  His observations concerning humanity and commerce endure to this day and continue to inspire entrepreneurs and marketers alike:

“Say all you have to say in the fewest possible words, or your reader will be sure to skip them; and in the plainest possible words or he will certainly misunderstand them.”  (Good advice for an ad writer.)

“He who has truth at his heart need never fear the want of persuasion on his tongue.” (Ditto.)

“I believe that the first test of a great man is his humility. I don’t mean by humility, doubt of his power. But really great men have a curious feeling that the greatness is not of them, but through them. And they see something divine in every other man and are endlessly, foolishly, incredibly merciful.” (Mercy is a characteristic sadly lacking in too many instances today.)

“A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small parcel.”

“A book worth reading is worth owning.”

“It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money – that’s all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot – it can’t be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better.”

Happy Birthday, John Ruskin.  Your lamp shines ever more brightly with each new year.

Posted in Communication, Consumer behavior, Copywriting, life lessons, Productivity, Sales, Sales & Marketing, Storytelling | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

A Tale of Two Lawyers

Feedback from Clients

It should not surprise you that my favorite business success stories are those having to do with the client’s skillful use of radio advertising.

I never tire of these stories nor fail to learn something useful when reviewing them, whether the successes involve my clients or others.  As I type these words I’m still basking in the glow of a telephone conversation with a relatively new client this afternoon.  Nik told me that his business has enjoyed three record months in a row, coinciding with the launch of a new radio testimonial campaign that we created for him (the only variable in the equation).

My colleagues know that I’ve been a devoted student and fan of Roy H. Williams (aka “the Wizard of Ads”) for the past fifteen years–devouring his weekly memos and best-selling books, audio and video recording, and more recently participating in monthly video meetings with him.  So, I was pleased to read in the January 21st edition of RadioINK magazine a piece Roy had originally published in his Monday Morning Memo of December 24, 2012.  It details a marvelous success story, specifically that of a lawyer who has built his practice using Radio. Even better, it is presented in contrast to the story of another lawyer who, instead of using Radio, chose to spend his marketing money online using pay-per-click advertising.

The contrast is not altogether one of media choice, but also one of priorities.

One attorney chose to focus on his message, rather than his audience; the other thought it more important to “reach the right people.”   Which one won?

You’re about to find out.  Enjoy the article, reprinted with the Wizard’s permission.

A Tale of Two Lawyers

I recently spent a day with two lawyers who practice the same legal specialty. We’ll call them Nick and Ralph. They live on opposite sides of the country. They met at a conference and became friends.

Nick read my books, attended Wizard Academy, and decided to go fishing for customers with a net. He put his money in radio.

Ralph thought it made more sense to target only those people in immediate need of a lawyer within his specialty. Ralph went fishing with a hook called Pay-Per-Click.

Ralph said, “Nick, you’re hunting with a shotgun. I’m hunting with a rifle.” Ralph believes in targeting, you see. That’s why he fishes with a hook and catches just one fish at a time. But you don’t build a widespread reputation by waiting until your customer needs you and then targeting them through Search Engine Optimization and Pay-Per-Click.

Nick the Net chose to win the public before they needed his services. Nick the Net wanted everyone in the city to know about him, even if many of them would never need his services. Nick the Net chose to win the hearts of the people 52 weeks a year.

Ralph the Hook, by the way, practices law in a trade area that offers 22 times the potential of the area served by Nick the Net.

Both men are smart and aggressive. They plunged. Hard.

Ralph the Hook spends $180,000 per month on Search Engine Optimization, online marketing consultants, and locally targeted Pay-Per-Click. His annual ad budget of $2,160,000 brings in slightly less than $6 million per year in legal fees, leaving Ralph with a little less than $4 million for gas money. Not bad.

One year ago, Nick the Net was spending $30,000 per month on radio. His $360,000 ad budget brought in $1.4 million the previous year in legal fees, leaving Nick with a little more than $1 million to spend on lunch.

NOTE: Nick brought in 1/4 as much money but spent only 1/6 as much on ads.

And then Nick asked me to begin writing his ads. This year he and I brought in $4.2 million with that same $30,000/mo. ad budget.

About 6 weeks ago, Nick said he wanted me to add another $20,000/mo. to his radio budget. I said, “Not yet. First we need to improve your close rate.”

“But we’re closing 30 percent of the people who call us,” answered Nick, “Ralph the Hook is closing barely 10 percent of his online leads.”

When you advertise 52 weeks a year on the radio, you become a household word. Yours is the name the customer thinks of first and feels the best about. The leads brought in through radio are much warmer than the leads generated through pay-per-click.

“Nick,” I said, “our close rate should be up around 60 percent. Bring all the people who answer your phone to Austin for a day of training.”

Nick brought them to Austin for a day. They listened. They learned.

At the end of the day, Nick drove his people to the airport and sent them home to answer the phones. Nick then returned to my office with his buddy, Ralph the Hook. As a favor to Nick, I spent a couple of hours with Ralph. Ralph, of course, only wanted to know “how to choose the right radio station.”

Ralph the Hook still believes that “targeting the right customer” is the secret to growing a business.

But Nick and I believe in building a widespread reputation with a warm predisposition in the hearts of the general, untargeted public.

What do you believe?

Common sense says targeting would be more efficient, right?

My thirty years of experience say otherwise.

One last thing: Nick’s telephone team is now closing more than 60 percent of all incoming leads. This means Nick the Net will likely do $8.4 million in 2013 with no increase in ad budget and no increase in sales opportunities.

Release the Kraken.

Roy H. Williams
PS – In case you’re wondering why I turned down the additional $20,000 ad budget per month, here are the reasons:

1. We’d picked all the low-hanging fruit with $30,000 per month. In other words, we were already buying all the radio schedules that offered us a good value.

2. An increase in the budget would elevate our frequency (repetition to the same listeners) much more than it would increase our reach (new listenership.) In other words, a 67 percent increase in the ad budget wouldn’t reach 67 percent more people, but only about 10 percent more. This is due to “cume duplication,” a fancy phrase that refers to the fact that most people listen to more than 1 radio station. If we added more radio stations to our list, we’d just be reaching the same people more often.

3. My income is not tied to the size of the ad budget, but to the percentage that my client grows each year. So my only concern is the growth of my client. What I have to do to achieve that growth doesn’t matter. Not to me. Not to my client. In this case, I could invest a day with his people and make a much bigger difference than I could make by throwing more dollars at media. – RHW

Posted in Advertising (General), Branding, Business, Client-voiced commercials, Communication, Consistency, Consultants, Copy, Copywriting, Internet, Pay-per-click, Professional Services Advertising, Radio Advertising, Radio Commercials, Radio Copywriting, Radio Production, Sales, Sales & Marketing, Storytelling | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Professional Voice-over and Narration for…Five Bucks?

girl at mic sharpThe post at Radio Sales Cafe, from a Chicago-area radio guy, read:

“5 DOLLARS! Check me out on FIVERR”

Intrigued and a bit skeptical, I clicked on the link.

Sure enough, there he was.

Chicago-area radio announcer will cut your :30 or :60 second radio commercial for only $5. I am heard on stations all over the U.S. and Canada. Lively, energetic voice who delivers with precision and believable style. I have a professional studio — with the ‘tightest-sounding’ room — and can deliver in one day. YOU MUST PROVIDE A SCRIPT. I DO NOT WRITE SCRIPTS. You’ll get an mp3 or .wav FAST! — and ON-TIME! BROADCAST QUALITY GUARANTEE!

Now, I have a few friends who make their living as voice-over artists, and I’m pretty sure that none of them works for five bucks a pop.

I also know a bunch of Radio production guys and gals. For them, five bucks a spot can add up to $50-100 an hour, provided they can get enough work – and that’s an attractive perk.

A quick glance at the voiceover/narration directory at Fiverr revealed page after page of posts from people willing to sell their small service for five bucks.  Well, four bucks net, after paying what amounts to a 20% commission to Fiverr.

Other specialties offered at the site include graphic design, logo creation, musical jingles, translation services, speech-writing, market research…more than 100 specific services are listed, in addition to all the things that fall under the heading of “Other.”

Have to admit, I’m curious to see what five bucks buys in some of these categories. (Seriously, logo creation for $5??  Love to see some examples.)

Sellers of services aren’t the only ones with Fiverr accounts.  There’s also a list of requests from service-seekers:

  • swing_line needs:1940s – 70s looking drawing and/or graphics for banner and more

  • thementalhealth needs:Promote a charity project on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube

  • foxyroxy63 needs:voice over a video in the voice of David Letterman

  • marketman needs:Create advertising video with desktop computer as a prop

  • swg1cor14 needs:assist in finishing a hotel/flight booking engine. Just the design and layout

  • dinobia needs:Create an app for my UK hair salon using AirBop.

  • surprised needs:instruct how to add a border to my page and fit my header on my website

The creators of seem to be doing very well with their inventive service. Evidently, so are some of the people offering their services there.  According to one testimonial, “To say Fiverr changed my life is a huge understatement.”

fiverr_logo-This is going to be one to watch, for sure. Betcha five bucks they’re on to something.

Posted in Advertising (General), Branding, Business, Communication, Consultants, Copy, Copywriting, Disclaimers, graphic design, Jingles, Problem-solving, Productivity, Professional Services Advertising, Promotions, Radio Advertising, Radio Commercials, Radio Copywriting, Radio Production, Radio Sales Cafe, Sales, Sales & Marketing, Uncategorized, Voice Acting, Voiceover | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Expert Use of Radio Advertising by LASIK and Cataract Surgery Professional – Another Radio Advertising Success Story

reaching for stars imaginationAs radio advertising professionals, our job is to help businesses tell their stories in a way that engages the listener’s imagination.

This is because the ultimate destination of any advertising message is the consumer’s brain, the seat of logic and reason, and more importantly of emotion and will.

As simple as this sounds, here is a profound advertising truth: the act of buying is always preceded by the decision to buy, which takes place between the ears.

And nothing fuels the imagination quite like a good story communicated by the spoken word.  (Pictures in the mind are always the most real.)

Sometimes clients will ask us to be “creative” in telling their story. I don’t know about you, but my response is always the same:

I don’t create stories; I uncover them.

In my experience, the most compelling stories are often about a customer’s experience with the advertiser, the truth of the business as seen from the customer’s perspective.  For example, listen to this client of a LASIK practitioner.

Does her story sound contrived to you? Or does it ring true to life, real, authentic?

One of the keys to brand-building advertising is consistency.  The most successful, enduring brands all have this to their credit.  For instance:

  • Intel’s use of a mnemonic device: four notes of music corresponding to the four syllables of “Intel Inside,” which has been attaching itself to our consciousness since 1991.
  • Or Hallmark Greeting Cards’ famous slogan, “When You Care Enough to Send the Very Best,” created by one of their salesmen back in 1944 and used continuously ever since.
  • Or Tom Bodett’s promise for Motel 6 to leave the lights on for us.  Unchanged since 1986.

Consistency matters.  In the words of the great David Ogilvy*:

Scores of good advertisements have been discarded before they lost their potency, largely because their sponsors get sick of seeing them…

You aren’t advertising to a standing army; you are advertising to a moving parade. Three million consumers get married every year. The advertisement which sold a refrigerator to those who got married last year will probably be just as successful with those who get married this year…

[Consumers] enter the market and they depart from it. An advertisement is like a radar sweep, constantly hunting new prospects as they come into the market.  Get a good radar and keep it sweeping.

So, for our LASIK surgeon, we’re building a campaign around patient stories.  These commercials are undated and kept in an archive, to be aired in rotation with the new stories that we develop.

This feel-good spot, produced several years ago, receives airplay every year. It’s one of the most popular in the collection.

If you needed LASIK surgery, wouldn’t you be inclined to feel good about this provider after hearing stories such as these?

But not everyone is a candidate for LASIK. Some people have conditions that call for other other procedures, such as lens implants.  The first interview we conducted in behalf of the clinic was for such a patient.

Every person has a story.  Every business has a story.  It takes time, effort, perseverance, and patience to uncover and tell these stories.  Compared to the quick and easy approach favored by the lazy – filling a page with clichés, generalities and adspeak, and calling it “advertising” – this approach involves thoughtful, painstaking work.

But the results, for those who appreciate the difference, are worth it.

So, what’s your story?  And how well are you telling it?

* David Ogilvy, “Confessions of an Advertising Man”  pp. 98-99
Posted in Advertising (General), Branding, Business, Client-voiced commercials, Communication, Consistency, Copy, Copywriting, Ogilvy, Positioning, Problem-solving, Professional Services Advertising, Radio Advertising, Radio Commercials, Radio Copywriting, Radio Production, Sales, Sales & Marketing, Slogans and taglines, Storytelling | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“If I Don’t Go, I Don’t Get”

WarnerSwaseyad“If I Don’t Go, I Don’t Get”

This ad was written in 1975 for The Warner & Swasey Company of Cleveland, Ohio, manufacturer of heavy industrial equipment and machinery, the latest installment (at that time) in a series of 1000 such advertising messages the company had been running since 1941 in Newsweek, Time, U.S. News & World Report, Business Week, Forbes, Industry Week, and the Wall Street Journal.

Warner & Swasey’s corporate advertising wasn’t intended simply to sell their products (although a  small portion of each advertisement did provide a showcase for this purpose – an ad within the ad).

Mainly, these messages were intended to promote larger concepts: opportunity under America’s system of free enterprise, the contributions of business to our nation’s well-being, the dignity and fruits of hard work.

       In the South is an old man with a rowboat who ferries passengers across a mile-wide river for ten cents.

       Asked, “How many times a day do you do this?” he said, “As many times as I can because the more I go, the more I get.  And if I don’t go, I don’t get.”

       That’s all you need to know–all there is to know–about business, economics, prosperity-and self-respect.

It’s one thing to tell a story about your products or services, but quite another to convey your company’s values, in such a way that you affect in a positive way how people think about themselves, their community, their country. The folks at Warner & Swasey did this for over 40 years.

What’s your story?  What does your company stand for?

And how effectively are you communicating this to your customers and your community?



Posted in Advertising (General), Branding, Business, Communication, Copy, Copywriting, life lessons, Magazine, Management, Newspaper, Positioning, Print, Storytelling, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ed Van Nuland on Procrastination

Eddie Van Nuland

Eddie Van Nuland

My buddy Ed Van Nuland never fails to impress with his witty one-offs.

A favorite of mine is the term he invented to describe the state of being temporarily short of funds:

Coinus Interruptus.

This morning, out of the blue, he mentioned being preoccupied with the idea of procrastination.

He observed:

Procrastination is both an art and a science.

The science is determining the exact moment you must stop procrastinating.

The art is being able to push it beyond that point.

Undoubtedly this will appear one day in auspicious collections of aphorisms and quotations. When it does, let the record show that its author is one Edward Van Nuland.

Posted in Advertising (General), Communication, Copy, life lessons, Procrastination, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Dazzling Them With Brilliance in Moscow, ID

Driving Motorists to Distraction?

You can’t drive by this thing without noticing it.  And that, of course, was the whole idea: make it BIG, COLORFUL, and IN YOUR FACE!!  The first time I saw it, I thought, “WOW! Brilliant marketing, Tri-State!!”

Each side of this jumbo Janus measures 192 square feet, a ton of marketing real estate, anchored alongside a major arterial.  Thousands, possibly tens of thousands of motorists drive past this towering teaser every day.  And the advertising messages that flash and pop on its gigantic screen have something extra going for them, something that is missing when similar messages appear on the printed page of a newspaper or magazine: they’re intrusive!

Intrusiveness in advertising is important. It gives the message a fighting chance to jump out of its context, breach the eye gate or the ear gate, and lodge itself in the brain of the consumer.

One of the factors affecting the potency of outdoor signage is location.  In the market where I live most billboards are set back so far from the roadway, lack of proximity alone makes them ineffectual.  Couple these poor locations with the tendency of too many advertisers to cram too much information onto that small canvas, and you’ve added insult to injury.  Next time, just burn the money in your fireplace and at least you’ll get something out of it.

But these animated LED displays are a whole other thing, situated right along the sidewalk at the perfect height above motorists to catch their attention.  And unlike billboards, whose messages can’t easily be changed, these computer-controlled electronic signs can display an endless variety of messages, a new one every few seconds, in dazzling color, brilliant high-def graphics and eye-popping text…mesmerizing, indeed.

And therein lies the problem, according to some motorists and others who’ve complained to their elected officials that such signs pose an imminent hazard to other motorists and to pedestrians trying to cross the street, for example, and finding themselves forced to compete with the big sign for the attention of drivers, distracted by the deal of the day.

Now, in view of recent legislation making texting-while-driving illegal (in addition to being intrinsically stupid) throwing up a sign exhorting viewers to “text keyword myfave to 90210” wasn’t the smartest move on Tri-State’s part.  But that’s a messaging issue.

Still, as a marketer and advertising professional, I like these signs.  They have unique potential to drive business into the store, assuming the store knows how to get the message right.  (Sadly, I also see businesses with programmable signs that squander their potential, settling for insipid and ineffective messages.)

Something else makes these signs attractive to me.  They give the advertiser an opportunity to own his own advertising medium, and not just rent it.

As I write this, the Moscow, ID City Council has recently enacted an emergency ordinance governing new signs, providing a window of 182 days for them to study the effects of the ones already in place.  As they debate the issues of free speech and free markets over against the public welfare, it remains to be seen how many other businesses will be able to follow Tri-State’s lead.  Tri-State erected its sign within the framework of existing codes and will likely enjoy the protection of being grandfathered, regardless of the outcome of the council’s discussions.  If limitations are placed on future sign installations, competitors may argue that city government has given an unfair competitive advantage to one business over another.

Stay tuned.

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