Guerrilla ads for a guerrilla political campaign: how to wow on the cheap.

I’m not going to go Sun Tzu on you, but a guiding principle in warfare is to attack where your enemy is weakest. In judo, you try to make your weakness your strength. Political advertising may be one of the areas where this is toughest- since incumbency and large campaign chests are considered prime indicators of product value. Shrewd political contributors don’t give to longshots, they bet their dollars on who they think can win. It’s the nature of the game, and a very hard marketing battle.

Think of it as launching a challenger brand, with no money, no time, and a very absolute deadline to dominate the market (election day). Can you imagine Procter and Gamble launching a new detergent and having to have 51% of the market make a purchase in two months?

Here is our first shot at launching a local political activist into a National Congressional race. Please note, not only did the candidate star in the ad, he wrote it himself (unlike his competition) because of course, the candidate is the same person writing this post.

it is also available as a downloadable iPod version here:

One of the keys of viral marketing and leveraging your low budget campaign is getting others to talk about it- the “word of mouth” factor. You can’t count on this happening automatically. This is where your established network of customers can make or break you. First, you have to actively tell them that the campaign is out there. Digitally- this means sending e-mails, posting appropriate comments in appropriate places, and reaching out to people who think as you do. It used to be marketing to the influencer or early adopter- now, it’s to your social network either formal (Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace) or informal as I did. Here is what creative genius Ernie Schenck said about the spot:

Ernie Schenck Calls This Advertising?
Seriously, people, show me a spot in this already tired political year that comes close to this simple little gem from Dayton ad guy, David Esrati, and I will eat my moustache. Attention, candidates: A little imagination, a little self-deprectation and a little ability to lighten up can go a long way. The man ought to get elected on the spot alone. Nice work, Esrati.

A client, and really smart guy, Charles Halton posted on his Awilum site:

it’s the funniest political ad I have ever seen. If politics were more like this it would make election season actually fun!

Another client, who happens to be a member of the Democratic Underground site posted it here:×82652
which quickly became the highest click through on YouTube- even though the numbers are very low for what it has to do. (more…)

When it comes to search, great ads can't help.

Google doesn’t spend a lot on advertising, that’s what their competition does. Guess what? It doesn’t matter how much you spend if you are Yahoo, Microsoft or, Google will continue to win.

But, kudos to Crispin Porter + Bogusky, they were able to bump from a nobody to a better known nobody with their campaign (“Experience Instant Getification” and “The Algorithm”) more than any of the other also rans, up a whole one-tenth of a percentage point.

Guess Who Gained Search Share - Advertising Age - Digital
…scrappy little Ask was dropping millions on a high-profile, Crispin-designed ad campaign and telling everyone it had the best algorithm. So guess which company gained the most share in search this year. Yes, it was Google.

According to ComScore, Google’s share in January was 52.6%, and by October, the most recent month with available data, that number had climbed to 58.5%. Others peg its share as even bigger: Hitwise has it at 65.1% in November, up from 64.1% in January.

In the meantime, Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL all lost share, and Ask was the only gainer, up one-tenth of a percentage point. (It’s not very likely, but things still could turn around in November and December, as those returns aren’t in yet.)

“Google has really become the verb of search,” said James Lamberti, senior VP at ComScore. “It’s a combination of viral and branding power.”

Pepsi vs. Coke
“If you did the equivalent of the Pepsi Challenge and had a blind taste test of Google, Yahoo and Microsoft results, I don’t think people would find Yahoo’s results are necessarily bad,” said Ellen Siminoff, CEO of Efficient Frontier, a search-marketing-technology company. “But it comes down to branding. Google has done a heck of a job continuing to build its brand.”

Absolute search numbers tell a different story. According to ComScore, only one search engine, AOL, declined in terms of total queries. Yahoo gained 5%, Google gained 37%, Microsoft sites gained 15% and Ask gained 24%.

So should marketers be worried? As the search category — estimated at $8 billion in 2007 by Forrester — becomes an increasingly important part of a marketing plan, the seeming consumer consolidation with one player arguably gives Google more control over the search experience.

“Marketers sure would like for someone to give Google a run for its money,” Ms. Siminoff said. “There’s lots of emotional support behind Microsoft and Yahoo.” But, she said, “marketers aren’t spending on Google because Google’s a nice guy but because Google works for them.”

It’s worth noting that the share gains didn’t manifest themselves only in consumer search-engine use. They carried over into ad spending. Efficient Frontier, which has $400 million under its management, said more than 73% of that went to Google in October of this year, up from 62% two years ago.

Looking for innovation
Google is not a monopoly — yet — but luckily for paid-search marketers, even if it were, price inflation is less likely thanks to Google’s market-driven, auction-based pricing.

“Marketers just want to see the innovation,” Mr. Lamberti said. “That’s why there’s buzz around Ask.”…

So even though Google spends less, their brand delivers more. Sounds like serious marketing judo doesn’t it. Here is the lesson to learn, and it applies to all those who want to effectively use Google to drive business to their site: in a land of similar products the only differentiation that you can control as marketer is the user experience - and that is what you should focus your marketing efforts on.

It’s why Apple is the only personal computing company that stands apart from the crowd; why no other online retailer has the customer base of Amazon and why Google is the winner in search. The focus is on the customer experience as much as the actual product. Google could have delivered banner ads- but at the expense of slowing the delivery of results. Amazon could have advertised, but instead chose to spend that money on free shipping. No matter what Crispin Porter + Bogusky does for, the problem is that search now depends on critical mass and massive investment on technology to refine results- and no one can catch up with Google.

Now, more than ever, there is a science to advertising: deliver answers instead of ads, experiences instead of excess,  and results instead of rhetoric. Everything can be tracked and measured either by clicks or by sales, so when looking at an ad agency to deliver customers via search, think twice about the creativity and look for the science behind the campaign. You’ve already found one agency that understands how to make this work or you wouldn’t be reading this.

We dare you to find another.

Dayton Business Journal charges $50 a month- for what the Dayton Daily News does free

P.T. Barnum famously said “there’s a sucker born every day” and that’s what the Dayton Business Journal must think when they sent out this e-mail solicitation:

Showcase your business on the Dayton Business Journal Business Directory for only $50 a month. We can immediately profile you in front of a local audience looking for your services.
Click here to start. Enter promo code DAY for discounted rate.
Try it for 3 months and cancel anytime afterwards if you wish.
If you have any questions at all please contact us at 800.617.9715 ext. 3.
Michael Powers
Sales Manager

When you follow their link they tell you the following:

DirectoryM - Local Online Advertising
Subscription Listing - Single Region

Drive qualified traffic, buyer ready leads, and powerful brand affiliations through our partner network

  • Drive qualified traffic, buyer ready leads, and powerful brand affiliations through our partner network
  • You choose the category and the region and your listing will be featured on all of our partner sites
  • You will have a full color logo, 750 word profile, and 5 links to drive traffic
  • Three month minimum, cancel anytime thereafter

The Dayton Daily News is offering a free directory at Dayton B2B. There is no reason to pay for listings when you can generate your own traffic easily by understanding how customers search for your business.

Building a directory of all your peers and competition can have as much, or greater impact than any search engine optimization strategy. We’ve done that on our “Agencies that aren’t The Next Wave” page. You can also build a site that does well in search, with lots of pertinent, relevant and helpful content (much like the content on this site). So, before you decide to spend $50 a month on some directory listing (including phone books online or the Yellow Pages) consider spending $139 on our websitetology seminar which will show you how to make your site search centric for your customers.

Video for fund raising events: there is a secret formula

Once a year the local runaway shelter, Daybreak, hosts a fund raising breakfast where they have table captains invite 9 people for a free meal.  Of course there’s a catch, you have to sit through a program that makes you feel warm and fuzzy about their charity cause. This year, the fifth year of using the “secret formula” for raising money- Daybreak asked The Next Wave to provide the 7 minute video for the event.

Yes, folks- it’s prescribed as 7 minutes, and you are supposed to make the audience cry 3 times. It’s near the close of the session, just before the gut-wrenching, heartfelt story of success despite the odds, and the final ask for donations.

After watching the four previous years videos, we knew one thing- we weren’t going to do anything like them: a montage of interviews, “recreations” and narration by staff. It was time for something totally different- something where you wouldn’t know what’s coming- or get caught up in the delivery of the story- just a focus on the story.

Our original idea was to draft David Chappelle to do the MC of the video- and I actually spent 20 minutes talking with him, face-to-face, and offering to pay him to help us out. The goal was to bring national attention to the shelter- and to make more kids aware that it was a positive place for them- instead of an option of last resort. Unfortunately, Mr. Chappelle isn’t reliable- so we found one of Daybreaks own to step in- Mr. Robert Neal Jr.

By placing the clients behind the screen- 60 minute anonymous interview style- we knew that our audience would focus on the story- not on the personalities, when the ending came, it would all draw together in a powerful close. We didn’t want slick production values- and the number of times we had to set up made it an even more daunting task- but the real payoff was the results- watch the video before you look to see how effective it was.

I watched the audience at the table next to me: totally riveted to the big screen, when the totals were counted:

For the first time they had a donor pledge at each of the two highest levels- $10K a year for 5 years and $5K a year for 5 years. Total donations were higher than ever before. They took the concept of the “Fairy tale” gone wrong- and built the whole morning on the theme. While sometimes we wonder if selling more widgets is truly a noble cause, the opportunity to help a great social service organization headquartered a mere 4 blocks from our office makes us proud to do what we do.

As to the secret formula- yes, the whole one hour program follows a fixed script on how to manipulate an audience into giving money. It has worked like clockwork for our client, however, this year, it worked even better.

That’s why we are The Next Wave.

The Web 2.0 marketer: where every page is a home page

We teach a seminar called Websitetology to try to educate clients on web 2.0. We also teach a fair number of other ad agencies (even the local competition) because, well, that’s the kind of people we are.

One of the things we stress is that if you aren’t on the first page of Google you don’t exist, and that content drives traffic. Build valuable content and they will come.

Unfortunately, it’s falling on mostly dead ears. Even huge advertisers like Apple, Burger King and BMW don’t seem to understand how to port their marketing to the web properly. It’s not about how your site looks, especially your “home page”- it’s about the content on every page: every page is home for someone- about something.

So- it was good to see new media bigwigs Avenue A/Razorfish do a study to confirm what we already knew- excerpts from the Ad Age article follow- with a short primer on what we know works on the web:

Do Home Pages Have a Place in Web 2.0’s Future? - Advertising Age - Digital
Avenue A/Razorfish: Brands’ Main Sites Decline in Importance as Consumers’ Reliance on Search Grows
By Abbey Klaassen Published: October 01, 2007

Garrick Schmitt was sitting in a meeting, listening to a client talk about the need to make its website “Web 2.0-compliant,” complete with tag clouds and profile pages. “Tag clouds?” thought Mr. Schmitt, VP-user experience at Avenue A/Razorfish. “Really?”…

The request seemed curious to him — do that many people really use tag clouds that a brand marketer’s website needed to incorporate them? Surprisingly, he couldn’t find the answer to that question. So he decided to find out. (more…)

Google Maps, iPhones and your business

By now, every one has seen the Apple iPhone ad “Calamari” showcasing the Google maps function on the iPhone.

And, when typing in Pizza it does a great job around my home. It also works for locating the nearest Apple Store quite well. But, when typing in “Advertising Agency” nothing even close to an ad agency got a pin in Dayton. So, of course, I had to fix that. Google informs me it will take up to 4 weeks before my listing is updated (unbelievably slow in the Internet age)- but, it was incredibly easy, and the verification by phone system worked well.

If you haven’t put your business on the Google Maps page, I highly recommend doing it as soon as possible- and, if you are a Pizza place, you can even put a coupon on it for free!  So, proceed to the following link and look for the “Add or Edit your business” part- make sure you are at your business phone and have a live internet connection at the same time.
Google Maps

For right now, it’s cool to show up on iPhone users phones- but, soon, this will be more important than the Yellow Pages ever were. And, before you select an ad agency, that claims to be digitally literate,  check out if they have a complete listing on Google Maps.