When clients make bad decisions.

The old cowhand expression goes “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink” is how advertising agencies often feel about our clients.

Coming up with the “big idea” is one thing- getting the client to buy it- can be infinitely more difficult. Sometimes, even when you have a client who thinks you are brilliant- they run into an “expert” who convinces them that their ad agency can’t possibly know how to make the web work for them- and that they should “trust” them.

Screen shot of search results for “Zen Windows” with The Next Wave being first

This was the case with our client Zen Windows- a small business that we provided the tools to compete and win against much bigger and better capitalized business heavyweights. Our name, our tagline: Zen Windows, Relax, window quotes in five minutes, set them apart from the high-pressure, hard-sell, commissioned window sales companies in Columbus Ohio. Our simple web strategy involved using blog technology to keep Zen Windows at the top of search- for many terms- not just keywords. Unfortunately- the client drank from another cup- and so yesterday, when I saw we had gotten a google hit for “Zen Windows”- I checked to see what was generating the hit- and it was our post showcasing his logo. Considering “Zen” is the name of a hit MP3 player, and “Windows” is the leading operating system- the fact that our technology and our logo got first position in Google is a miracle. Considering that his company didn’t show up in the first 30 hits is a testimony to the snake oil salesman that told him he could build a better website for Zen Windows.

If you aren’t showing up in the first 30 results (or 3 pages) of Google for your own company name, you should be talking to an ad agency that truly understands integrated marketing communications and site construction for optimal search results (not just SEO or Search Engine Optimization- which we believe to be voodoo).

The funny thing is that the new site doesn’t look much different than the design we began with. But, the developer added Flash video to the home page. Flash, but no bang-for-the buck. You decide- what you want- snake oil- or results?

The Next Wave is marketing • innovation for a reason.

Dayton Independents hire wrong agency.

Screen shot of Google Results for Dayton Independents restaurant resultsI’m not sure who the independent restaurants hired, but the site by the Dayton Daily News isn’t helping them much.

How do I know, well, people searching for “Dayton Independents” are ending up on my personal site: esrati.com which has a section on great places to eat and drink in Dayton Ohio.

This is why an agency that knows web 2.0 is critical to the success of any campaign- test your agencies adoption of this new way of doing business by going to google and typing in: site:agencyurl.tld and see how many pages come up.

Here is a snapshot of the Google results for “Dayton Independents” - note Esrati.com is number three.

It’s not enough anymore to run an ad, have a site, and expect results unless you have a modicum of Search Engine Optimization under your belt.

That’s why we teach our websitetology seminar. We even offer to teach the competition!

Happy accidents through good technology

There was an IBM tv ad called “Deep Intelligence” about a sage who saw relationships in the data that drove sales. He says things like “Greeting cards, Lip Gloss” “Beer/Diapers” “Motor oil/ Turkey franks” we can’t be sure that he knows- all we know is that he knows.

If either the agency, Ogilvy, or IBM was tuned into this web 2.0 thing- they’d have it on YouTube to share- but they don’t. [UPDATE Dec 2010]If you have access to Ad Critic, it’s right here: http://www.adcritic.com/content/ibm-deep-intelligence.html

I’ve always liked this spot- but tonight, it became relevant- someone searching for “mark cuban buys hotel chain” ended up finding us at number 4 in Google- and calling us to see if we could help them sell wine.

This wasn’t search engine optimization- he wasn’t searching for small creative ad agency, or ad agencies in Dayton OH, or even great ad agencies- he wasn’t looking for the next Crispin Porter + Bogusky, or how to pick an ad agency (all terms that we’ve ended up on the first page of Google)- he was looking to find independent thinkers in the hotel industry to market to them as outlets for wine from his LA County vinyard.

There we were: The Next Wave>low budget advertising at number four, because we had combined content in a category that managed to put Mark Cuban and the Drury Inn- into the same place.

Go figure- good technology leads to happy accidents. Once the potential client read that “Our job is to make you more money than you pay us” he was reaching for his phone.

Can you ad agency get you this kind of happy results?

Advertising feels like gambling for the first time.

One thing that drives me nuts about the advertising business is that many clients still think of spending money on advertising is a gamble. I’ve never felt that way, because, as our motto says “our job is to make you more money than you pay us.” Advertising, when done right, is never a gamble- it’s an investment.

ECHL Kelly Cup 2007 logoSo why am I feeling like a gambler for the first time in my ad career today? Because our client (of late) the Dayton Bombers, are playing game 7 of the Kelly Cup semi-finals tonight- and if they win, we get to do the campaign for the finals and if they loose- we don’t get the job. Money riding on a hockey game- who woulda thought?

As I said, it’s a first. We’ll know more around 10 pm tonight.

Because we believe we have to provide something useful in everything we post- a few tips on making sure your advertising doesn’t feel like gambling:

  • Advertising is a more like a marriage, not like a date. Think about the long term, and invest in campaigns that will have “legs” - a concept, or idea that lasts. Think like Apples “get a mac” campaign instead of Burger King’s one shot “Manthem” (of which more was written about here).
  • Branding is a shorthand for what your company stands for- make sure you think about it in everything you do, from what your employees wear, to how you answer the phone- and then get it to communicate clearly in your advertising.
  • Consumers are getting very smart about marketing messages- never; lie, deceive, or talk down to them- they now have the ability to talk right back and it may come in higher in search than your message.
  • Embrace the Internet, it’s everything you want your best employee to be- if you take really good care of it.
  • The immortal words of Howard Luck Gossage are even more important today than 50 years ago: “People don’t read ads. They read what interests them, and sometimes it’s an ad”- so make your stuff interesting, make it art, make it entertaining- but what ever you do, stop saying things like “make the logo bigger” and start saying- “can we make the idea bigger.”

Hope that helps. Now, all the Bombes have to do is win tonight, so we get to keep building their brand.

Is your ad agency passionate about your account?

There is a secret to great advertising- and it’s not the size of the agency or the number of awards on the wall. It’s not how hip the creatives are, or how cool the offices or even how big the budget is. And even though you could argue that the quality of the account planning can make all the difference in the world- it’s not what makes great ads.
What makes great advertising is the same thing that makes great leaders, great athletes, great scholars – basically great anything, and it’s one word: passion.
If the people coming up with the ad have a passion for the task at hand- and know the product and who they are trying to reach- you will end up with advertising that doesn’t suck- the kind that actually brings in the big bucks- without costing big bucks.
It’s taking what you have- and turning it into something that is a bit more than advertising- it’s a conversation that you just can’t turn away from. It’s a battle cry that resonates and won’t go away- be it “Where’s the beef” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ug75diEyiA0 or “Whazzzup” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GWrrTpJ1eU- it sticks in your head like peanut butter to the roof of your mouth.
When you are in the business of advertising, and know a good ad from a bad ad, you can tell when you do something great- because you can’t get it out of your head either.
So, here’s the latest in the saga of pulling rabbits out of the hat for the Dayton Bombers- a client that no matter how vexing the time frame, budget, material to work with- brings out the passion from us at The Next Wave.
It comes from two things: we love ice hockey and, we love it when underdogs are kicking ass and taking names. The Bombers are in Florida right now- about to play the first 2 games of the semi-finals before heading back for 3 possible games at home. We were asked to put together a poster for the games- over the weekend- so far, everyone who has seen it has loved it. We hope you do too.
Come to the Game Saturday night- and maybe you can get one too.

Dayton Bombers playoff poster by The Next Wave

When ads work.

Other than editing out the personal information- this e-mail was received by the Dayton Bombers:

I have a number of health and physical problems, at age 72, and need to laugh more. For the first time tonight I saw your “Rumanian” ad on TV with Yannick Tifu and had a good one. Does his “cup runneth over”? LOL! Good work by whoever came up for the idea for that ad…it does catch one’s attention. Some “soft” adult humor, like this ad, flies right over the heads of kids, so no harm done. It made me want to attend a game, or maybe regularly.

I no longer drive and sold my car last December. Does RTA stop AT THE DOOR of the Nutter Center? I walk with a cane and easily get winded. What is the number of that RTA line? (Cabs cost a FORTUNE now.) I live at the Oakwood-Kettering line between Far Hills & Ridgeway Rd. and use #5 or #14 for trips to CBD.

What is the lowest cost for a single game ticket? Are they always available on game dates at the Nutter box-office?

What is the lowest cost for one seat at a series of home games bought in advance (for different game counts)? Five games, ten, etc. Is there a seniors’ discount? Golden Buckeye card?

What is the temperature in the stands? Us old folk chill easily so would I need a sweater or jacket or is it always very warm in the stands?

When does the season end? Please mail me some general brochures.

I guess I’ve BOMBARDED the BOMBERS with enough questions for now. I know…that is NOT funny and you hear it all the time. Thanks!

The spot that the new, 72 year old, hockey fan saw?

It was aired on broadcast TV- and was enough to get an old guy, in poor health, motivated to seek information on how to ride the bus to the Nutter Center (not an easy trip from where he lives).

When was the last time your advertising did that? Especially a spot entirely in Romanian?

Of course, they also got a call: “this is America, you should do your commercials in AMERICAN!” (see our post on Casa d’Ice and their signs for more on this subject: http://thenextwave.biz/tnw/?p=174