Finding the profit that’s in plain sight.

January 19, 2017

Anne Graham is an expert in something that should be obvious, but isn't - finding profit that's sitting right in front of you. Her insights are both brilliant and brilliantly simple - for example, focus like a laser on bringing value to your existing clients, instead of perpetually chasing new customers to fill the bucket.

Why can't we make our lives easy and more profitable. This entertaining conversation reveals how human nature often is our greatest stumbling block.


How to bring integrity back to marketing? Just ask consumers.

January 4, 2017

There is no stronger marketing than consumer reviews and word of mouth. Sadly, where there's an opportunity, there's an opportunity to scam the system. Enter fake reviews, rigged search results and skewed price recommendations.

Mark How and Shopswell are turning the tables on these lamentable practices, and bringing the integrity back to review marketing. In this conversation, Mark and I explore the essence of the Shopswell idea, how consumers are incentivized to tell the truth, and why it works.

Check out the entertaining conversation, and rediscover your love for word of mouth - the original (and still the best) tool of marketing.


Don’t let your brand ruin Christmas

December 21, 2016

For most of us, Christmas can be a tad stressful. And companies that assault us with terrible ads, grating songs and depersonalized cards only make things worse.

In the spirit of the season, I went on the air with Mark Brennae of CFAX 1070 and created a Santa's list of wishes for brands that want to brighten, not dampen, the mood of their audience at Christmas. 


Fake news, echo chambers and cultural collision - what can brands do?

December 17, 2016

Fake news and echo chambers became headline issues during the recent US election. Whether it was outrageous stories fabricated by the pseudo-press to lure clicks (and ad dollars), or algorithms set up by social media to feed viewers stories that reinforced their worldview while blocking contrary thoughts, the phenomenon raised a disturbing question: are we losing our grip on the truth, and becoming a hostile, fearful world?

I believe brands can play a key role in reversing this trend. After all, they've done it in the past.

Consider Coke's I'd like to teach the world to sing commercial, which gave us a brief respite from political, racial and social tensions during the late 60's.  Or the famous United Colours of Bennetton ads that forced us to confront our racial, sexual and societal prejudices in the 80's.

There is terrific upside for brands that are brave enough today to challenge our fear and hostility towards the 'other'. Which brands will seize the opportunity?


From marketing to innovation: the Spring Advertising story.

December 7, 2016

Yesterday, I had a terrific conversation with Spring Advertising founder and Creative Director Rob Schlyecher.

Like myself, Rob believes the classic ad agency model is flawed. His 'a-ha' moment came when he created a  campaign that enabled his clients to sell their company for millions - while Spring was paid a nominal (in hindsight) fee. 

That got Rob scratching his head and wondering how he could avoid this sort of conundrum in the future. His solution? Create products, instead of just selling them for others. 

Sure, other agencies have done it. But most of them have failed, because they don't get the entrepreneurial (vs service industry) mindset.

Spring seems to be charting a course for success in innovation. Their first product, Poop Like A Champion cereal, is selling out.

If you'd like to get in on Rob's secret, listen to the podcast here.


The matchmaker for brands looking for better agency love

November 28, 2016

The world of brands (like the world in general) is becoming more complex.

Where the rule was once to find an 'integrated' agency capable of handling all requests, the mood today is shifting toward finding a raft of specialized shops, then 'conducting' them like a symphony.

AgencySparks was launched to meet the growing need for hyperspecialized matchmaking. Founder and CEO Joe Koufman joined me in a conversation on the shifting priorities of brands, the willingness of big brands to trade the stability of one agency for the greater performance of many smaller shops working together, and how to make this all work - both logistically and in the presence of competing egos.



Trump, Clinton, and the rebirth of brand USA

October 31, 2016

To the world, the US has always been more than a country - it represented an idea of dreams pursued and happiness attained. Now, with the impending US election, that concept has taken a body blow.

Has the US fallen? Or is this merely a rebirth by fire? If it is indeed a rebirth, what will the new brand USA become?

To shed some light on the psychological implications of the election, the candidates, and the zeitgeist, I invited my old friend and collaborator John Marshall Roberts for a discussion on the issues beneath the surface. What we unearthed was both disturbing and - for the long run - reassuring. Enjoy the conversation!


How to build (and kill) brand image

October 17, 2016

With the recent release of the Gustavson Brand Trust Index, I was invited on CFAX talk radio to chat about how to build brand image - and how to destroy it. Join host Mark Brennae and myself as we discuss the Gustavson Index, Edelman's Global Trust Barometer, and the rapidly morphing world of brands.


Why your best ad may be a speech

October 8, 2016

Technology has enabled us to personally engage with more people than ever before. Simply put, we can now speak to the world. And if our message is worthy, the world will tune in.

But will public speaking supplant advertising as the go-to form of communication for brands? I asked Hugh Culver, an industry veteran who has charted the evolving role of public speaking in business. Culver runs a great speaker training company, coaches corporate teams on productivity, and delivers upwards of 40 speeches a year himself (he also has a thriving social media business, climbs mountains and runs ultramarathons, but that's another story).

Culver had some terrific insights on building a personal brand through public speaking, why great speakers make great corporate brands, and how to hone in on your most effective brand message. Enjoy!


Will enlightened consumers stop buying your brand?

August 23, 2016

Brands were created to make us happy - for a fleeting moment, at any rate. After that moment passed, they trained us to be dissatisfied until we hit the 'buy' button again.

But lately, something strange has been happening.

Blame it on sustainability or internet-induced transparency. Blame it on people getting fed up with feeling compelled to buy more on smaller paychecks. Blame it on enlightenment.

Today, people want to be makers, or they want to enjoy experiences. Buying new shiny things is starting to look less, well, shiny.

In this context, I wanted to introduce you to John Habibi.

John caught my eye because his business was teaching tech entrepreneurs to close more deals and take more time off. As I spend most of my time in tech, this promise seemed like the holy grail. Intoxicating, and unreachable.

When I dug a bit deeper, it turned out John was helping these entrepreneurs discover mindfulness and spirituality through meditation. Again, a concept that seemed incongruent with my impression of the average alpha tech entrepreneur.

John and I have had a number of conversations on his practice, and how our yearning for something 'more' than material success is changing the face of our society. As a brand specialist, I dug into his thoughts on how mindfulness could destroy brands, or reshape them.