February 7, 2020
Oh, the stories I could tell of pitched battles over idea validation.
I've seen the debate swing like a pendulum between test and trust through the years. In the pre-digital days - back when dinosaurs and mad men roamed the savannah - creatives like myself battled researchers over the validity of focus groups and mall intercepts. Usually, we'd be given leeway to trust our intuition on ideas... until a concept bombed. Then, like Dad busting up the keg party, researchers would be brought in to restore a bit of sober adult thinking to the proceedings.
Fast forward to the birth of the internet. In the raucous pre-bubble days, we witnessed the rise of dot coms with more investment money than sense. Insane advertising (remember the E*Trade monkey?) made us laugh, but not buy.
As the pendulum inevitably swings, so too did the forces of testing. Which brings us to today, where data gathering and testing rule the roost.
Kevin Indig caught my eye with a recent Linkedin post, where he took the position that far too much faith was being placed in testing. This coming from a person responsible for all things SEO at G2 (and previously at Atlassian). I knew we had to talk.
Here's the recording of our chat - definitely a thought-provoking podcast for anyone with a vested interest in bringing new ideas or innovations to market!
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January 14, 2020
What goes into a killer elevator pitch? Turns out, many of the same things that go into a great brand.
On March 3rd, I'm going to be the lead judge at an event where participants compete with their elevator pitches. Not only will this be a fun evening, but I'm certain we'll see that we all get the same things wrong when it comes to creating a memorable pitch.
The event organizer, Pascale Hansen, had a preliminary call with me to get my thoughts on the subject for an event promotion podcast. She was kind enough to share the recording. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
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August 29, 2019
Spirit Bay is a whole new kettle of fish when it comes to real estate marketing.
The village, on the southern coast of Vancouver Island in Canada, was developed based on traditional principles of community design:
- Building light on the land, with homes following the contours of topography – instead of blasting the entire site level,
- Designing narrow roads with plenty of twists – ensuring slow driving and more walking,
- Building hundred-year-homes with materials that outlast (by far) those used in other new homes,
- Tapping renewable heating and cooling using ocean thermal,
- Working in partnership with the First Nation band that owns the land, to ensure their values are built into the Spirit Bay manifest.
Now for the rub. Perception.
Spirit Bay is a textbook case of how to get sustainability right, and sometimes wrong, in real estate marketing. It was, for me, a journey with a definite learning curve.
I was asked to do a presentation on the marketing of Spirit Bay by the Urban Design Institute. Prior to the presentation, though, I went on the air with Mark Brennae of CFAX to give a preamble to my talk. It was entertaining, to say the least – enjoy!
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August 2, 2019
Solar lighting as a brand is beset by misperceptions. People still overwhelmingly believe the lights break, the batteries don’t last, the whole category is a cheap, Home Depot novelty.
Winning hearts and minds over to solar may be a big challenge. But the reward for breaking down the misperceptions will be huge.
Justin Taverna, co-founder of First Light Technologies, is determined to make First Light that breakthrough brand.
I’ve known Justin and his First Light co-founder Sean Bourquin a number of years now. I helped them streamline their brand message then, and I’m helping them figure out how to reach more customers now.
Justin and I sat down a short while ago to talk about the evolution of the solar lighting brand, the a-ha moments he’s had, and the brand space he believes First Light can stake in consumers’ minds.
If you liked this podcast, make sure to share it with your 5,000 closest friends using the social share buttons on this page. And if you'd like to talk about your brand, drop me a line at email@example.com.
July 31, 2019
Quick, name two top tech cities. San Francisco, and, ummm...
Being a top tech city and being known as a top tech city are two quite different things. I challenge that the difference all comes down to brand.
Here in Victoria BC, my hometown, we're blessed with an exploding tech industry. Even better, we have an amazing tech city brand. At least part of that is due to the hard work and creativity of people like Dan Gunn, CEO of VIATEC.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Dan and unpack the elements of the Victoria tech brand. Among other things, we dug into...
- What's in a name - and why Tectoria (the name created as an umbrella for everything from conferences to VIATEC's building) is a great one,
- The complexities of creating a brand in a city where virtually none of the stakeholders sell their products,
- The brand power in Fort Tectoria - an HQ that is open to the public as well as VIATEC staffers and stakeholders
- The connection between tech, spilled wine bottles, and inflatable killer whales,
- Creating a consistent brand code, and ensuring that code is based on the true personalities that live it,
- Why orange is cool,
- The power of metaphors in describing an industry that is often criticized for hyper-complex, unintelligible communication,
- Origin stories, and why they work for VIATEC the way they worked for Superman,
- Why people are the best ads, and
- Why tech industry leaders are coming to Victoria to study how Dan and VIATEC pulled this off.
I hope you enjoy the conversation. As you might guess, it's jam-packed with brand information anyone can use - and there's nary a tech term in the entire 30 minutes!
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July 18, 2019
To me, podcasting is a passion - I simply love bringing guests on who have an interesting perspective on brands, marketing and communication, and I love sharing their ideas with my audience. If someone gives me business because they enjoy my podcast, that's icing on the cake. Nice, but not necessary.
So it was very interesting to me to read this story in the New York Times about 'Peak Podcast' - a state where monetization and get-rich-quick podcasting schemes seem to be ruining the industry. Hey, podcasting is about building my brand, but for how long?
To that end, I invited Craig Thomas on my show. Craig does guest relations at CallForContent, a company that helps podcasters get more listeners, grow their show, and all the other noble things podcasting is supposed to do. Over the course of half an hour, Craig and I chatted about the evolution of podcasting, what podcasters absolutely have to get right to succeed (in all senses of the word), and what the future holds. It was an entertaining conversation. Enjoy!
If you enjoyed this show, make sure you subscribe to my podcast. And if you want to chat about your brand, drop me a line at email@example.com.
July 17, 2019
The Calgary Stampede - the greatest outdoor show on earth - just wrapped up. This year, the show was marred by the tragic deaths of 6 horses in the chuckwagon races, sparking outrage among fans and activists alike.
Is it time for the Calgary Stampede to evolve its brand? Or can it weather the storm? I went on the air with CFAX's Mark Brennae to talk about the Stampede's brand, and what elements of a brand need to evolve in order to keep it vibrant, current and prosperous. Enjoy!
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July 5, 2019
My journey through the world of marketing has had its fair share of ups, downs, goods, bads and uglies.
So when University of Adversity podcast host Lance Essihos dialled me up to relate my stories to his audience, I happily obliged.
Our little chat covered a lot of ground. From getting my start as a writer in a country where English wasn't the primary language, to the ad factories of New York, to learning how not to run my own agency, to my current role as brand consultant, we went through it all - and we didn't pull any punches.
I hope some of these stories help marketers and entrepreneurs. And if you're neither, there are some pretty fun misadventures to smile at. Enjoy!
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June 19, 2019
On Friday June 21st, the UK enacts a regulation barring gender stereotyping from advertising. It's a noble initiative but, I believe, a futile one.
Advertising, to paraphrase Malcolm McLaren, is all about sex. Sex sells. And with sex come stereotypes of gender that are hard, if not difficult to shake without dire implications for the bottom line.
Yes, I believe things will improve. They've already dramatically improved. But legislation will not eliminate stereotypes.
In this interview with CFAX's Mark Brennae, we explore the journey of gender stereotypes in advertising - from the abysmal 60's to today - and try to find the path forward into the future. It's an entertaining conversation. Enjoy!
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May 28, 2019
There's never a shortage of great marketing and brand-related stories. But we really hit the jackpot the last little while. So I went on the air with Mark Brennae of CFAX to talk about it.
First, what's up with Drake? Is he the new Toronto Raptors mascot, or a genius marketer? If you haven't been paying attention, the rapper is front and centre at Raptors games, and his visibility has gone through the roof during the playoffs. How much exposure is too much? Which brand benefits, and which brand pays? It's all in the first half of my show with Mark.
Second, the EU election happened yesterday, and the results were certainly not what populists were expecting. But had anyone really paid attention to the complex worldviews of euro-constituents, the rise of the Greens may have made perfect sense. Worldview thinking is something we marketers do as a matter of course. I talk about it during the second half of my show with Mark.
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