2013 is Poppin’

It’s just a little over a month into 2013, and we have been making some serious waves in the ocean.

It’s been exciting.

First, I am happy to say that JDW: The Charlotte Agency picked up two new accounts. The first is the Carolina Knights, a professional summer football team in Charlotte. They will be playing in the Professional Developmental Football League (PDFL) in the National Developmental Conference. I’m serving as the VP of sales, marketing and sponsorships. Good deal.

The second account is We Are Fit to Fight, a fitness/self-defense group based in Charlotte. They are awesome. The agency is devising multiple marketing, public relations and advertising activities for them. We’re really excited about what we will be doing with them.

With that being said, we are looking for 2-3 more sizable accounts and actually begin hiring. Woo! After 4 years of hanging in there, we’re excited that we are near our goal. We are actively searching for interns, and we hope to have 2 (or so) join the team soon.

We are still with the Charlotte Batdogs, and now that spring is upon us, the pitchers and catchers are reporting in less than a week, we can become a little more relevant about baseball in Charlotte, and helping the Charlotte Baseball Clubhouse gain some momentum.

The Charlotte Agency is also in the process of adding more “digital inventory” on the web. Two things: we are re-designing our website, which is super exciting. Also, we’re creating a spec-site for our non-work, musings, and intern projects. We hope to use that space to not only explore our own creative outpours, but to also have it stem into meetups/events, workshops, and the like.

The site only has a splash page. All I can tell you right now is that its super hero oriented. Yes I know, its going to be sweet.

All of this in a little over a month. I love it.

Talent Zoo still isn’t tired of my ramblings, so my advertising “knowledge” is still roaming the interwebs.

Hope you enjoyed the update. Cheers.



People Doing Work in Social Media

There were several really cool activities going on in the social media environment, I couldn’t pick just one. It’s really a rare thing for me to see things in social media that even warrant a single post, let alone four activities that caught my eye.

Well, two activities, two pieces of solid research. I know, I can’t quit the research.

So here are the four, and feel free to let me know what you think.

Head of Publicis Groupe makes fun of himself while using new YouTube elements

This struck me in two ways: first, the head of holding company powerhouse Maurice Lévy willingly makes fun of his annual YouTube speech. Two, the new YouTube elements are pretty sweet.

If you watch his entire video, it doesn’t make a pause. One would think it is just a normal video.

But then you fast forward, and you see Lévy shuffle through his notes. And pause it, and guess what game Lévy plays on his phone. Then try expanding it to fullscreen.



Petsmart Uses Pinterest to Engage Fans During the Holidays

If you read this blog and are in the marketing industry, you well know that nearly every piece about social media tries to tie it with “ROI”. How does this activity correlate with sales or revenue (if that’s how your brand defines ROI..you’d be surprised). Well Petsmart is a key example of how to do social media right. Petsmart, earlier this month, launched a campaign on Pinterest. They want fans of Petsmart and their animals to pin a holiday-themed picture with their pet, along with the hashtag #pinitforpetsmart. Each pin raises $25 for petsmart charities, up to $25,000.

Thank you Petsmart. They realize that the point of social media is the sharing and “social proof” factor. People love sharing photos of their pets, and the fact that each pin will raise money to a good cause is just icing on the cake. Well done.


Home Shopping Ramping Up

Ask Your Target Market did a survey and nearly 42% of respondents said that they would rather shop online rather than in stores. And a plurality (33%) said that they had no preference.

This can have major implications on how businesses operate. First, businesses should survey their own customers (or compare online vs. offline purchases) to see where most of the sales are coming from. If the online category is highly favored, the business should really look at if having a brick & mortar location is truly worth it. If the business’ customers are torn like the 33% “no preference”, behavioral and incentive implications may be involved. The business should ask what drives them to buy stuff online versus offline, and then use that information to guide them whatever direction you see fit.


Mobile Gives Email Marketing New Life

No one really thought that email marketing was going away. Those “marketing ninjas” who said that were kidding themselves and clearly not following any real sources of information.

But the resurgence of email was not entirely anticipated. MediaPost covered a report done by email specialist Return Path, which revealed that 4 out of 10 emails sent have been read on a mobile device. Also, consumer are more likely to open webmail on a mobile device (37%) than using a browser (30%).

The report also shows that out of all the sector-related emails, retail, consumer product and real estate emails are the types opened the most. Anything that may make the consumer have security doubts will more than likely be opened on a computer.


So there is good stuff being done in the social media and research space, we just have to look a little harder to find it. Thanks for reading!


The Young Business Owner: My Typical Day

Running your own gig requires effort, determination, ambition, motivation and thick skin. It takes a while to understand that not everyone is going to buy into your idea, and in the beginning you are going to hear many more “No’s” than “Yes’s”.

Once you get over that, then you can start building your organization.

We’re in our third year. It’s been a wild ride, with that as many successes as setbacks. The economy and Charlotte small business environment will have that effect.

Since I run The Charlotte Agency‘s daily operations, as well as principal, I wanted to show you a snapshot of my typical day.

7:45am- 8:40am – Reading latest ad/world news and updates

8:45am- 10:00am- Writing for Beyond Madison Avenue (Lead Blogger)

10:00am-11:00am-Reading and responding to important email

11:00am-2pm- Working on accounts

2pm-2:15pm- Break, throw some darts to relax the mind, maybe watch something funny, or read something smart

2:15-3pm- Prospect

3pm-4pm- Work on accounts/JDW housekeeping (project management, updates, etc.)

4pm-5pm- Wrapping up/Email/Meeting or call/proofing creative

5pm on- Networking/ volunteer meeting/ part-time gig/ nap/news

There you have it. A jam-packed day, but its enjoyable.

“Too Stubborn to Quit”- Being an Entrepreneur

“It’s easy to quit. To succeed, you have to be too stubborn to quit.”

I was a company advisor at Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week or PFEW, last week and during a break I received that advice from a fellow company advisor and entrepreneur. He is more seasoned than I am, in his second business and has been a business owner for 20+ years.

We had a chance to talk about the ups and downs of being a business owner, and I got a chance to vent my frustrations in business development, being a young black business owner in a very white-dominated industry, and all the fun stuff I try to not bother me.

He said that I’m one step away from having that big break, and that I shouldn’t quit before that happens. Because, cue his quote, it’s easy to quit.

Why are all the simple pieces of advice so freakin’ profound?

It is easy to quit. I could just stop trying to help small and medium sized businesses. In these past few years, they certainly haven’t made it easy for me.

But from reading about great leaders, and taking advice from other business leaders, I’ve learned that the great ones have been just too stubborn to stop.

Theodore Roosevelt couldn’t get the nomination from the Republican Party. What did he do? He formed the Bull Moose Party and was one of the only presidents in history to win as a 3rd party.

To stay in the family, FDR had a ton of, at that time, radical ideas to get the nation on the right track. He faced obstacle after obstacle in the forms of political opposition, spousal opposition, the Supreme court and even family. But he stayed his course, and left a legacy that is regarded as one of the greatest of our time.

The owner of FedEx gave up most of his equity in his business to survive. He believed so much in his idea he was willing to basically sell it to others. I guess he did okay.

Stubbornness, with a good idea, is a good quality to have.

Now, my idea of supporting the small business community in order for them to succeed and reinvest in the community, does not match up to the New Deal, obviously.

But it can make Charlotte a better place to do business. It will make young, bright people want to stay and start something. It will help people in Charlotte want to be a part of something.

This is a pep talk. Entrepreneurs, if you wholeheartedly believe that you are good at what you’re doing, and have an idea that will improve an industry or community, don’t quit.

More people are going to say no than yes, accept it.

More people will doubt you than support you, deal with it.

More people will ignore you than listen to you, preach it.

People are afraid of change, of something new. Entrepreneurs represent exactly what the public fears, yet are the ones society needs most.

Thanks for listening.



Small Business- How We Doin’?

Well, according to The State of Small Business Report by Network Solutions and the Center for Excellence in Service at the University of Maryland, not so hot.

C-. Not so hot at all.

The researchers compiled information from 500 small businesses, and compared the change of the small business environment since 2009 to now using an index they created that is meant to measure small business success.

As one goes through the report, the findings are not very surprising. Disheartening? Sure, but it is no shock that small businesses are still struggling.

Quick Tidbits:
– According to the index, 53% of all small businesses are either Marginally Failing or Failing.
-Businesses noted that they are having a tougher time competing with the big companies than ever before
-But the future is bright. Small businesses are continuing to embrace social media, mobile marketing, and are planning to hire in order to compete

So it is not a totally bleak picture.

The report notes what key factors are most important when it comes to success as a small business. They placed the areas on four quadrants, the graph is below:

As you can see, Capital Access (cash-on-hand, investment, operations) is the most important factor. But what is the second?

You guessed it- marketing and innovation.

Small businesses are having trouble:

-Coming up with advertising and marketing activities to show their competencies
-Translating their marketing and advertising dollars into sales
-Finding platforms where new audiences are going to be

If you are a small business owner, you are not alone. According to this report, many small business- more than you think- are going through the same struggles.

This is why JDW: The Charlotte Agency started. Our goal is to help small business eradicate these issues.

We want to help small businesses survive, and grow. But we can’t do it unless you are willing to focus on your business, and let us worry about reaching your customers.

Help us make the next State of Small Business Report conclude with a happier ending.

Brian Solis Answered My Question

Cover of "Engage: The Complete Guide for ...

Cover via Amazon

As part of an incentive to sign up early for this year’s Pivot Conference, the organizers offered a chance for pre-registrants to ask a question for Brian Solis, the author of “Engage!” to answer.

Naturally, because I love hearing from smart people, I pre-registered and asked a question.

So why am I writing a blog about this?

Because it was a really good answer.

As many of you know, I am quite critical when it comes to the “thought leaders” that be in our society.

They say the same crap. In the same venue. To the same crowd.

It’s insulting, and boring.

So instead of whining about the same-old answers I hear, I really want to highlight the great answers. Below is the question I asked him (in bold), followed by his answer in italics.

With ‘Choice’, comes large amounts of pressure for brands to form a connection with its customers, in order to “rise above the clutter.” When forming the relationship, what is one key element the brand should remember?

Not to sound overly complicated, but because social media is inherently social, people are in control of their own online experiences. Thus, everything must be reverse engineered starting with two things: the people you are trying to reach, and what it is they value. Choice is the key word as you said, you have it, I have it, and in many ways, we are the people we are trying to reach. I recommend ‘a less is more’ approach rooted in user-defined intelligence before engagement. What people want and how you connect the gap between that want and our value proposition is yours to define.

Now you may ask me why I thought that was a really good answer. Let’s pick it apart.

First, he didn’t try to throw in a bunch of jargon, faux-scientific words or made up phrases.

Second, he mentioned the act of ‘reverse engineering’, meaning that you are starting with the end in mind. Targeting what people value means that you are focusing on incentive. As a communicator in the social realm, you have to figure out why these consumer should connect with you rather than someone else, or not connect at all.

He did mention ‘less is more approach’, which is a little played out, but I’ll let it slide. Every marketing guy throws at least one out-played phrase.

Third, he said the phrase “user-defined intelligence before engagement“. That phrase, Brian, won me over. What does that phrase mean?

Research, research, research…strategy, then implementation (engagement).

All we hear these days is “it’s all about engagement”, or “joining the conversation“, and “being relevant”.

But all of that doesn’t mean crap if you don’t know your audience or the conversations already being had.

Thank you Brian, for re-newing my faith in marketing “stars”.

Brian will be at the Pivot Conference, October 17-18, in NYC. If you got a few hundred dollars laying around, I’d suggest you go.

People Like Advertising, so Why All the Hate?

“Contrary to popular belief, Americans don’t hate advertising.”
-Roy H. Williams

Americans love watching the Super Bowl for the commercials. People who don’t even watch football watch the game so they don’t miss the ads.

Magazines and trade publications have seen a rise in advertising, and there seems to be no real complaint.

Yet, when you talk with people- especially in a large setting- there seems to be a negative light shone on advertising. Why?

I believe that there are several reasons why people may say they don’t like advertising, but aren’t sure why.

-Misleading ads
-Advertising done poorly or done by non-advertisers
-The lack of advertising/marketing advocates in the foreground
-The abundance of popular advertising “haters”
-The popular Adpeople that make everyone look bad

I am not alone in saying that there are a few professionals in advertising that aren’t exactly ethical. But I would also say that the ethical professionals in advertising and communications far outnumber the bad ones.

But unfortunately, society only hears about the bad ones.

Oh, irony.

The media and government love to run with the news when the FCC cracks down on a misleading advertising campaign. On one occasion, I could have swore I saw Al Franken frothing at the mouth during one such instance.

A story of how an AdPerson kept to their ethics, and pioneered truth in advertising would never hit the headlines.

A story about the Ad Council, and how many of those campaigns are given thousands of dollars from advertising agencies, would never be highlighted during a congressional campaign. Why?

The Ad World knows why. It’s not a sexy story.

Someone told the truth? Who cares.

But then the US gets all up in arms when brands have to correct themselves.

But that isn’t the part that bothers me. What bothers me are people like Frank Luntz. Or maybe his visibility.  He is the marketing researcher who helped coined the phrases ‘death tax’ (versus ‘estate tax’) and ‘War on Terror’ (instead of ‘US Global Man Hunt’, I guess).

Genius? Sure, he has the amazing talent to use words and phrases that resonate.

Ethical? Now that is an interesting question. Perhaps it is my political bias that I simply cannot stand the man and every time he opens his mouth I get angry.

Or perhaps he is his own worst enemy. People categorize what he does for the GoP with what advertising and communications people do for brands- create words, images and phrases that force them to act the way they want.

Are people in the wrong for thinking so? Maybe, but then again, maybe not.

Perhaps it’s his method; using fear and scary words to manipulate the populace. (I’m trying to figure out my displeasure of them, so please bear with me).

Fear is an emotion that is extremely powerful. Fear is our anxiety for what we don’t know. Uncertainty. Tying policies to “death” and “terror” then, would (and did) prove to be extremely impacting. Dare I say, Luntz was impressive.

So communicators have Luntz, the media, and the government against them. That’s fine. But I also see professionals against the profession.

For example, making up words that are against the industry (see ‘unmarketing’, and ‘change agents’). And I find it funny because those words get so popular because those professionals are really really good at marketing.

So what is the point of this post?

1. People like good advertising and communications.
2. Media and government like to point out the bad in advertising to make themselves look like they’re doing something important.
3. Advertising professionals must do a better job highlighting the good folks. Not separate themselves from the industry altogether.
4. Luntz, and people like him, are jerks.

Let’s get our act together, Ad-Brethren. The US is a consumption-based society, so as long as that’s the case, we’ll be around. I don’t care if we’re not liked, but some appreciation couldn’t hurt.