Category Archives: Our thinking

They’re here. They’re Queer. Tap into it.

Our next few posts are going to focus on targeting specific audiences. As marketers, we are always looking for dems that are not only willing to spend money, but are trend-setting consumer adventurers. Did you know there is a demographic out there that fits that exact profile? And if your company isn’t marketing specifically to this segment, you could be missing out on a generous, brand-loyal revenue stream.

It is estimated that Gay and Lesbian buying power will reach $835 billion by next year. And the average median income per household ranges from $62,000 for singles to $130,000 for couples living together (a group referred to as DINKs… Double Income No Kids). What is your company doing to tap into it and, more importantly, are you doing it right? According to a 2008 report conducted by Prime Access and Planet Out, gays and lesbians are 68% more likely to purchase from a company that is perceived to be “gay-friendly”. And just how do they find out if a company is gay-friendly? 69% say advertising/marketing. 89% of respondents said they are more likely to support a company with favorable LGBT employment practices (you don’t want a Target incident).

So what does this mean? Does your company have to start flying a rainbow flag and showing up at every gay pride event? Sure—if you want. But more importantly, you need to reach out to them in their media of choice. 95% of gay men made purchases on the internet. 85% consider advertising in LGBT publications to be a favorable motivator to purchase.

But here’s the kicker, it is NOT enough to advertise in Gay & Lesbian publications and say you are gay-friendly. You have to walk-the-walk, avoid stereo-types and, above all, treat the Gay & Lesbian market as equals (not only in your marketing efforts, but in all your company policies). It’s a tricky process and thinking your company can earn some fast cash and dash is the wrong approach. Consistency in your presence and messaging will reap greater rewards and earn  brand devotion with this segment (a good policy to have for all your markets actually).

Need help creating effective marketing campaigns aimed at the Gay & Lesbian market? Give us call and we can guide you to success.

Next up? Hispanic marketing.

The Real Housewives of Farmville?

The sudden rise in social gaming has taken some of the worlds top game companies by surprise. A recent study by POP Games and Information Solutions Group found that the average player of games on Facebook is 48-years-old. Oh yeah… and they’re women. We think there are a couple of reasons for this… first, the games are more simplistic than games you would play on a console like the Xbox or Playstation. Second, you can play them in bite-sized pieces. They aren’t starting a campaign to win a battle during WWII or trying  to conquer the demons of Hell. They are harvesting crops, running a virtual cafe and trying not to Farkle.

So now you want to create the next Farmville. There are a few questions you need to ask before travelling down that road and putting it in the mix of your social media strategy.

  • Is your tattoo expandable into an online game environment? Be aware that not every brand is. A virtual accounting department probably won’t be a hit (no offense to our accounting friends out there).
  • Does my brand appeal to the mass market? Remember what we said here, the average demographic is a 48-year-old female. If you’re a skate boarding company, then most likely you aren’t talking to the right people. You should go where the kids are. But let’s say you’re a hospital or a grocery store chain. Both used by the demographic. And both easily translatable into a social game environment.
  • Can I provide a legitimate means for social interaction? Can you offer the player a way to expand their followers and “team members”? Can you keep expanding if the need calls for it? Mafia Wars, for example, added different countries to keep the Mafia Bosses interested.
  • Are you willing to put your name on the back burner? Let’s face it, no one wants to play “Panera Bread’s Cafe World.” But let’s say you keep the name as just Cafe World and then add little Panera Bread signage and ads, etc. Now you can still get the awareness without being too “in your face.”

Of course there are a plethora of other issues that need to be addressed before launching the next Bejeweled Blitz. But before you begin, make sure you can answer the above basic questions prior to heading down the long, and sometimes expensive, road of social game development.

Client or customer?

What’s the difference you ask? Well let’s look at the proper definition first:

1. a person who purchases goods or services from a store or business.

1. a person or group using the professional advice or services of a lawyer, accountant, advertising agency, architect, etc.

To us, the choice is clear. We are looking for “clients”. If YOU want to present your business in the best light and have truly creative solutions that propel you in the marketplace, you should be looking for an agency that wants a relationship and not just someone out to do what you tell them (no matter how wrong or misguided it may be) then snatch your money and run.

Still unclear?

Let me tell you a little fable:

Once upon a time, a small creative services firm had someone approach them asking for a logo, marketing materials and a website. Being a small agency it’s difficult to turn away work, so the firm took the job. Right away the customer was negotiating and him-hawing about the rate they quoted and then the client claimed he/she was a graphic designer and photographer so he/she knew exactly what he/she was doing and what he/she wanted—he/she just didn’t have time to do it him/herself. All the while this client is degrading what the creative firm does for a living and keeps saying “no offense” after every offensive thing he/she says. Ever hopeful they would prove him wrong, the creative firm kept steering the ship into rough waters. Then the client’s spouse gets involved… BUM BUM BUM BUMMMMMM.

So long story short, the firm provides several different logo options because the client was wanting to update their image. And then the client changes his/her mind and decides he/she likes elements of the old, horrendous logo and wants to merge the two. Then, after the creative firm spends several hours on the option that merged the old and new, the client tells the firm he/she wants all new options “just to be sure”.

This is an example of a customer. If that firm were a restaurant, this customer would be the complainer that sends everything back and then bellyaches to management in hopes of getting a free meal.

We provide creative services and advice on marketing tactics, etc. We really want the relationship between us and the client to be mutual and respectful. That way we can learn about your business, your needs and challenges and how to solve them. If you just want a logo created from a sketch you’ve done on a receipt for a Big Mac, we are probably not going to be a good fit for you and you are probably not going to benefit as much as you could if you were open to the advice and solutions we can provide.

I can’t hear you over your crappy website

Am I the only one that has noticed that many of the “branding experts” and “marketing gurus” have, shall we say, less than stellar Web sites and marketing materials?

Come on guys (and gals). If you are going to the top of the mountain to preach at us that you know the way to marketing and creative Valhalla, please please please walk the walk. If you are going to proclaim you are a tattoo artist, make sure you aren’t drawing stick figures.

I understand that you are strapped for time. I get it. Starting a business is a time suck. Maybe your argument is cash. Fine. Then don’t put on your site that you do “cutting edge design work” when your web presence looks like something straight out of the AOL era.

Don’t get me wrong… I am not saying that our website is the shizzle (like my use of youngster vernacular there?), but I’d like to think it has some style and flair and is an accurate tattoo that represents who we are and what a client can expect from us.

And for those of you out there that are preparing to hire these firms, ask yourself this question; If your car was broken, would you hire a vacuum salesman to fix it?

The cost of social media marketing

So let’s put aside the more advanced options when it comes to web 2.0 marketing: widgets, sites, podcasts, vlogs, custom apps, etc.  Let’s, for now, just concentrate on the basics: blogging, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and so on.

“But aren’t all those things free?” you ask. And you are right. As far as out-of-pocket costs go, these options can be free or very low cost. But there is a hidden cost that, if not taken into account, can derail your efforts and all your hopes and dreams for social media nirvana. That cost comes in the form of time commitment. Not many people are prepared for the amount of time that will need to be invested in order to consistently market themselves or their businesses through social media.

We are guilty of it here. We set out with the best intentions. “We’re going to blog once a week Tweet twice a week and set up a Facebook page with the goal of 100 fans.” So here we are blogging about the lack of blogging, I forgot to log onto Twitter last week and Facebook is really coming along well (I now know my horoscope for the week, won a few fights in Mafia Wars and started my own farm).

Now I know all you marketing managers out there are all up in arms! “So what’s the ROI for this ‘cost’ you speak of?” I know this answer is going to be scary for you, so if you need to, sit down: Measuring ROI for social networking can be difficult because, in many cases,  the returns you get are not immediate and do not directly impact the bottom line. Tweeting or FaceBooking does not always give instantaneous results, but you are networking. And Networking is a valid slice of the business development pie.

So the lesson here: when you are setting out on the social networking highway, make sure to allocate time to the process. Know that it takes time to cultivate those relationships. This isn’t a one night stand sort of deal. There needs to be some courting and some wooing. Also have a solid idea of what you want to achieve from the effort – and be realistic! You’re sales aren’t going to increase by 500%, but you may get someone interested in subscribing to your newsletter or RSS feed or just make someone aware of your company that didn’t know you before. Realize it’s okay to be vague when measuring the ROI of your efforts. And most of all, be authentic. Don’t come off as frigid, indifferent or formal.

And just like a diet, it’s okay to fail at first. If you fall off the Web 2.0 horse, get back on. The effort will usually pay off in the end.

Branding is for cows.

There. I said it. How has this word, that has such negative connotations, become so infused into the business vernacular? Oh I get the implication here. A “brand” should make an indelible impression on the consumer. Fine.

My only complaint with the term is the process of getting branded in real life hurts and then afterward you are left with nothing but a horrible, ugly scar that sometimes only vaguely represents what you meant it to be.

I propose we start using a new word. Now what would that word be? Stain? Nah—sounds messy and unwanted. Engraving? Hmmm… sounds nice but not quite right.

Tattoo!!! That’s perfect! A tattoo is considered a work of art. There may be a little pain involved up front, but you are left with something much more elegant and thought out than a nasty burn scar. Plus, let’s face it, tattoos are cooler than ever.

We could even take this line of thought further… over time, tattoos fade and need a little refreshing. Or maybe the content becomes out of date and you need to create a new one but keep pieces of the old (note to self—don’t tattoo someone’s name on your arm again).

WOW!  Why have we not been using this term? I say we start a grassroots effort to change the terminology.

I just Googled it. It looks like someone beat me to it. It’s good to know there are others out there. If we all make an effort, we could eventually stomp out the use of the cruel word “branding” and replace it with the cool word “tattooing”. Let’s start converting! And think about how happy PETA would be.

You look just like your mother…

… and your brother. And your sister and so on. 

We all know them. Those creative firms that have a “look”. Those firms that, when you see a piece of theirs, you say “Oh, that must me Hyper Grunge Agency.” We have them around here (St. Louis that is). Everyone knows what they do and everyone knows that versatility is not their strong point. And yet clients still go to them and the end product looks just like everything else their shop spits out.

Don’t get me wrong. I am all for formulaic. I am a firm believer of sticking with what works and not throwing the baby out with the bath water and all that crap. But here’s my question: If an ad they do for a construction company looks essentially the same as an ad they do for, let’s say, a cancer center, is it resonating with the right audience? If both ads “speak” in the same tone, are they talking to or talking at the reader?

Formulaic works just fine in bar tending. Afterall, there’s nothing worse than a overly-liquored mojito. But in your marketing efforts, you should be trying to target your messaging to your audience(s) and your agency should respect that idea. If your creative firm is delivering the same solutions time and time again (to you and their other clients), they only have their interest at heart and not yours or your customer’s.

Keeping the dream alive…

When I decided to start this business, I made a conscious effort to “dream big”. That doesn’t mean I wanted to grow the business big, just dream my ideal work situation. So now that I have dared to dream, my motivation is not letting the dream die. That said, as a new business venture, it gets frustrating and overwhelming when it comes to finding new business and growing business relationships. There are companies with which I know Tripp Co. would mesh well. The trick is finding that “in”. LinkedIn is definitely a resource for us but I have grown to believe that LinkedIn is just a working stiff version of Facebook. Most people are on there to meet up with old co-workers and look for employment. They don’t play the networking game well and maximize it’s potential. If someone asks for an introduction, give it to them… or as a professional courtesy, explain to them why you are not doing so. It’s not called “anti-social media”.

Now that I’m off the soap-box we can continue… I am now starting to explore traditional networking avenues — Chambers of Commerce, RCGA, even a speed networking event. I don’t know if these will prove any benefit, but I figure that it’s worth the try. They’ve worked for centuries so I don’t want to abandon them just because LinkedIn is the bright shiny penny.

Does size matter?

There was a time when it was prestigious to have the biggest creative firm around on retainer. A CEO could be on the golf course and brag about how he uses [Big agency name here]. “They’re expensive so that means they must be good.”

We hate to tell the big agencies this, but that time has passed. Oh sure! We all LOVE Madmen and get nostalgic for “the way it used to be.” Who wouldn’t love to wear some of those clothes? Okay maybe not.. they are polyester after all.

Welcome to 2009. An age where customers expect you to be open, honest and communicate directly. Consumers don’t want to be talked at any more, they want to be talked to. New channels of communication are opening all the time. If you don’t know what a tweet is, then you are playing catch-up. And big “agencies” aren’t always your best choice when looking for solutions.

The key word is “solutions”. Most clients are looking for them. Sure, there are some that just want a flier; just want a folder; or just want a website and we are more than capable of delivering those. But most of the time we find that our relationships with clients work best when they present us with a challenge (a.k.a. problem) and they need a solution. That’s when we do our best work. Our brains get going and we offer up a slew of options. Maybe you DO need a new brand identity, but perhaps you would also be well served to look at a social media component or even an employee communications program.

So once we have a firm grasp on the challenge, we can start pulling in the subject matter experts (SMEs) we need to tackle it and come back to the table with solid answers. We don’t need to be “big”. In fact, in the long run, you’ll save money for the same, if not better, thinking. We like to get our hands dirty and we LOVE to collaborate. We want to work with our clients. Strange idea we know. Most big agencies have been excluding the client for years. “We’ll go away and come back with the best ad ever.” But what if you don’t need an ad? Why aren’t they asking you for your insight? After all, you know your target markets best. Arrogance and insecurity; that’s why.

We beleive that a small agency (shop, studio, firm, etc.) is where the ideas are. It’s not about the media buy and the mark-up on printing and maximizing billings against the retainer. It’s about the ideas (at least in our shop). We are passionate about what we do and we hope that passion becomes contagious to our clients.