AdWeek tell us that influencers lead to more sales than celebrities. 22% of consumers have bought a product or service because of recommendation on social media, whereas only 12% have been persuaded to buy thanks to a celebrity endorsement. It’s across all age groups, although younger consumers are even more likely to pay attention to some social media star over a jock, actor, famous conventional person type.
That’s all well and fine, but, influencers are just as susceptible as celebrities as doing something stupid. If brands haven’t learned from OJ Simpson, Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant, Bill Cosby, Michael Vick (notice all these examples are black men who fell from grace) or Ryan Lochte, Michael Phelps, Jared Fogle, or Donald Trump for anything… they will start to learn that you can’t buy a perfect endorsement from a human.
When the flow of information was limited, publications like “Consumer Reports” or “Stereo Review” or “Car and Driver” were the go-to platforms for comparative insight in the purchasing process. Now, consumers are more likely to trust an anonymous amateur posting unvetted reviews to Amazon or BHPhoto.com in making their purchasing decision.
When it comes to restaurants, it’s not just the Michelin or Mobile guide, it’s Yelp, Trip Advisor, FourSquare, Google reviews etc. Everyone is a critic. And, since we’re all consumers subjected to a barrage of marketing and advertising, we’ve all become experts at that too.
Except we really haven’t. The best marketing, advertising, campaigns, word of mouth and sales growth aren’t any more accidental than before the age of the internet in your pocket. Smart marketing still grows out of better insight into what makes the consumer lust for your product or service. Universal truths still hit home. Selling someone without making it obvious still outperforms the most expensive campaigns.
How do you find that secret sauce that propels your brand to the forefront? By knowing your customer and making sure you solve the problem they perceive they have better than anyone else. It’s why you are in the business you are in. You should be the expert.
Once Nike figured out they were in the aspirational motivation business instead of the sneaker business- everything else fell into place. Apple wasn’t in the computer business- they were in the bicycles for your mind business (wish they’d rediscover that lately). Barack Obama wasn’t a politician as much as he was the promise of Hope and Change. Donald Trump (for equal time) was in the “Make America Great Again” business.
We’re not in the advertising business- we’re in the Trust and Lust business. What business are you in?
Listening to APM Marketplace discuss the announcement of the new Amazon Freerive service that’s teamed up with IMDB, they talked about the value to Amazon and the content providers through ad support. Trust us, this has nothing to do with ad dollars coming in, but more about acquiring more data about potential Amazon shoppers who may not be buying from Amazon now.
Amazon spends a lot of money with Google for ads now to drive sales, and what Freedive does is gives them yet another way to refine data about people who aren’t in their ecosystem due to cost. Amazon Prime isn’t for everyone. And there is a large part of America that can’t afford Netflix, Hulu, and all the other streaming services, yet still have a cell phone. Netflix has partnered with T-Mobile to offer free Netflix to it’s subscribers, and with the impending merger of T-Mobile with Sprint, Amazon may have to renegotiate wireless partners – Kindles used to be connected via Sprint but are now with AT&T and Prime can be bundled with Sprint Cell service. It’s starting to get messy.
But, the fact remains, the number one advertiser on Freedive will probably be Amazon, which already sells ads on their platform to manufacturers and retailers- and may bundle in ads on Freedive. Ultimately, Amazon still understands that ad supported content has value- especially when driven by digitally connected devices. Freedive is the future of broadcast television- with consumer level targeting of ads, with instant feedback. The real question is will they allow you to skip an ad to replace it with one you are interested in? That’s the holy grail of targeted ad platforms.
Amazon understands that while subscriptions are great for somethings, after a while, your subscriptions will start to show up on your credit report at the rate we’re going. You subscribe to software like Adobe Creative Suite or Microsoft Office to work, you subscribe to an ISP to provide the data, you subscribe to Netflix for movies, Prime for shopping, a wireless company for cell service (note- 5G could kill off ISPs) Dollar Shave Club for razor blades, Blue Apron for meals, the list goes on.
At some point, consumers can only bear so many monthly bills outside of rent/mortgage, utilities, insurance, transportation expenses etc.
Ad supported media may be making a comeback. Freedive isn’t the first and won’t be the last. At some point, Facebook may suffer some rejection by users who aren’t being compensated for their content on the platform. And while Netflix is a subscription- an ad supported version may not be far off.
That this is teamed up with IMDB and not clearly an Amazon product is another stroke of smarts. IMDB is an incredible viable and valuable online community where the contributors share knowledge willingly without compensation. This service only rewards them and helps support their site. One day, Wikipedia may have to look at this model as well.
When Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post and offered subscriptions for $100 a year (and a discount to Prime Members), it should have been viewed as just another way to connect consumers with the retail giant and providing data for targeting. At half the price of the NY Times, the difference becomes that the owners of the NY Times don’t have a mega-advertiser subsidizing them. Look for Amazon/Bezos to expand their newspaper holdings to gain eyeballs for Amazon ads.
Ad revenue might be driving the bottom line for Facebook and Alphabet for the folks on Wall Street- but, the real goldmine is and always be the connection of data with an individual consumer for targeting. Freedive will do just fine for Amazon, even if the ad revenue never amounts to much. Increased sales for nominal extra costs are a good thing for Amazon.
We at The Next Wave consider ourselves students of the craft of advertising. We continuously seek out and study the best thinking in the business and then, share it.
Two of the greats in advertising recently were interviewed in podcasts; Alex Bogusky and Lee Clow. Lee gets his own show- which is a bunch of shorts. Alex gets a longer interview than most in the series of one hour interviews that you may find informative and enjoyable. We’ve included links to Apple iTunes for these free podcasts, but they are widely available on other platforms.
The first podcast is called Talking to Ourselves which is produced by Omid Farhang who is now Chief Creative Officer at Momentum. It’s a bi-monthly podcast that he calls his “selfish excuse to get the marketing industry’s most admired leaders to share advice, reveal process and routines, maybe tell a few stories, hopefully uplift a few cynics, and divulge secrets to a fulfilling career.” It’s produced in partnership with The One Club, and JSM Music.
Really, you could call this Omid goes to career coaching class, but he is a pretty good interviewer, especially after he gets a few of these interviews under his belt.
While there are a bunch of episodes, the one that got us started was the 75 minute interview of Alex Bogusky. The best gem was that he tried leaving his own firm a few times when he grew exasperated with Chuck Porter. Things were lining up for him with Wieden + Kennedy to run the Amsterdam office until supposedly Dan Wieden saw his book and put the kibosh on it. Bogusky also is a recurring theme through many of the interviews- because Omid keeps sharing the story of when Bogusky asks him if he had seen the Dudley Moore movie “Crazy People” where Moore is an ad exec in a psych ward who gets the patients to work up ad campaigns that are brutally honest. His takeaway- working in advertising should be a lot like that movie.
He’s just wrapped up season 1- and the list of advertising superstars is impressive including David Lubars, Gerry Graf, David Droga, Rob Reilly, Andrew Keller- note, the list is heavy on Crispin Porter + Bogusky alumni.
One of his favorite things to say is how creative work ages in dog years- what was fresh 5 years ago- often feels ancient, especially after everyone has copied the big idea. Almost every episode he ends with the same two questions:
- What was the most horrific response you’ve ever had from a client at a presentation?
- “What was the one big idea that you loved- that never got made.”
The answers are varied and insightful.
Almost every guest has worked at one of these five hot shops:Fallon, Wieden + Kennedy, Chiat\Day, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Goodby Silverstein at one point in their career.
Andrew Keller talks about his being in a band as the thing that most prepared him for being in advertising. Working together in a small group and putting things together so that they are interesting.
partner and Chief Creative Officer at Translation (They parted ways after this podcast was recorded and before we posted).makes a unique distinction between design and advertising: Design is to make something worth keeping, beautiful, useful – and advertising is what slos it down on the way to the trash can. Not an exact quote- but- it stuck- so it must at least be advertising…
David Lubars tells the story of how his father worked in advertising and he caught the advertising bug when his father solved the business problem Listerine was facing once Scope came out, with the line “The taste you hate twice a day” which he called a smart way to say that what made the stuff taste bad is what made it work well. That’s what great advertising does.
John Mescall, global ECD at McCann Worldgroup tells the story of the birth of one of the most awarded campaigns ever: Dumb Ways to Die. Considering it was a PSA client that nobody every heard of, the way they arrived at the strategy, the execution, is an amazing story. Mescall also shows his respect for the work of CP+B talking about how it changed the game, and it wasn’t necessarily with perfect craft- but driven by a great idea.
The discussion with Gerry Graf of Barton F. Graf, turns to awards shows and CMO’s and if any of the work that wins actually sells stuff. Makes Graf a hero in our book.
Jaime Robinson, co-founder of Joan, may win an award for the foulest mouth, yet, since her agency is the newest, you get a sense of wonderment at some of the questions about time allocation and following your gut, even as far as to go with something that comes up right during a client meeting. They are so new, they don’t even have a site up as of this writing.
Rob Reilly talks about how a term “delusional positivity” as a phrase from his Crispin Porter + Bogusky days has made it over to McCann. He believes that they can do anything- which is how incredible work gets done.
Susan Credle, CCO of FCB talks about work life balance. Her answer was to quote something she’d written- and was one of the best I’ve heard for people who might be defined as workaholics: “I’m writing for you, Huffington Post, on a Sunday afternoon. The sun is shining and I want to take a walk in Riverside Park. But as I sit typing and reflecting on these questions, I realize that my work is my life. When I separate them, I resent the work. When I adjust my thinking and realize that this work fulfills me, being asked to answer questions about work on a day off isn’t a frustration but a privilege.”
The Chief Creative Officer of Anomaly, Mike Byrne is almost too self-deprecating. He seems to put a lot more effort into relationships- within the agency, than outside of it. His discussion of his daily journaling and having lunch with someone somewhere other than the office as highpoints of his day are poignant, as are his gritty truth-telling about the fact that his daughter is shooting video and editing it right on her iPhone- and timelines have compressed. He says he’s not as talented as others- but willing to work twice as hard. Anomaly is a different kind of super agency- probably because his DNA is a bit different than other folks.
Susan Hoffman at W+K started out horribly, making a really bad joke about her parents profession and sounding very uncomfortable, but quickly redeemed herself with stories about how the Beatles/Revolution spot got made and the bullets they sweated when the agency was sued for it. The key insight she shared was that hiring people with “a voice” got them honesty, reality and truth. Which is critical to advertising. The Nike campaign for women (If you let me play(- was Charlotte Moore, Janet Champ and Stacy Wall- talking, not just ad people trying to sell you something. It’s not just the mantra “Fail Harder” that makes W+K great- it’s that the people have passion for their craft.
Jeff Kling shares his insight on W+K: “Dan and David believed and still believe in the power of the individual voice to do something special. It’s because they have a real philosophy and approach that believes in that. They’re essentially renting individual voices, visual and verbal voices, they’re renting those voices to brands, and in the process letting people do wildly special, unique and individual things, and making the brands on whose behalf of those people who express themselves, very human, very relatable. That’s why Wieden creates brands.”
One of the most interesting interviews for young creatives looking for career advice comes from Justin Gignac, the co-founder of Working Not Working. In a gig economy, building a body of work requires some investment in real, long-term relationships, and the long term growth potential in a real job vs a gig job is exponential.
The second podcast we’ve been enjoying is “Lee Clow will only say this once” which comes with the following description: “Listen up. Lee Clow is only going to say this once. For the 50th anniversary of storied advertising agency TBWA\Chiat\Day, legendary advertising savant Lee Clow answers 50 questions from colleagues, industry leaders and industry newcomers. Talking with Clio editor-in-chief Tim Nudd, Lee shares his wealth of knowledge and experience, discussing topics both personal and professional. From from his early years at Chiat\Day, to the agency’s celebrated partnership with Apple, his personal creative process, the industry’s future, and even his favorite Twitter account, there’s no shortage of wise words from an even wiser man.”
One Clow gem is what he thinks makes someone good at advertising: arrogance and insecurity. Arrogance in that you believe you can change the world and insecurity that you may be fooling yourself. He also talks about having to lead clients through the idiot forest- ain’t that the truth. That phrase is also talked about in several episodes of “Talking to ourselves.”
We’re always looking for resources to expand our knowledge of advertising. It’s part of the reason we’ve always had our Booklist on this site. If you have some recommendations for podcasts, video channels or other resources, we’re all ears. Leave your suggestions in comments.
(a few months later) Another podcast we’ve since started listening to is “The A-List” (link to iTunes) which comes from our friends at DiMassimo Goldstein. It’s their Executive Creative Officer, Tom Christmann. It’s much more raw, unedited and sometimes the sound quality is so bad it’s painful. If I had a dollar for every stutter, uh, ah, or time he said “the kids” I’d be buying the Washington Post and divorcing my wife.
It’s supposed to target young creatives, to introduce them to the old guard, and sponsored by Ad House NYC. Yet, making jokes about how kids won’t understand what paste up is, or pre-internet advertising isn’t really helpful or interesting. Neither is Tom’s habit of talking over his subject, interrupting frequently and name dropping- Dan in Portland, Rich in San Francisco, Lee in LA, uh, yeah, I know who these people are- but don’t assume your target market of young listeners do.
That said, he also feels it’s very important to talk about where he worked with the person in the past and sometimes wanders off into what could be considered office gossip. A good editor could cut these in half- and still have a lot of good content- except because of his “interview style” of talking over people- it’d be edit hell. He has some of the some people “Talking to Ourselves” has- and between the two, I’d always prefer Omid’s interviews so far, but because he’s so unstructured sometimes he gets lucky and gets a few extra tidbits. He’s also more likely to interview people Omid wouldn’t- so you get to hear from some journeymen instead of just the stars. Calling it “The A-List” may not be truth in adverting, but, if you are looking to expand your horizons or learn more about how folks rose to prominence- this works. Hopefully, Tom will read this, write a brief for his podcast so he stays on point, and works on both audio quality and his interview style and this podcast improves to actually warrant its lofty title.
This was our first National Veterans Small Business Engagement conference/trade show. We weren’t alone, there were a lot of people there for the first time and some were overwhelmed. This is a big event, with a ton of opportunities. We thought we’d put together a guide for next years attendees, (in Dallas) and we’re asking the people we met to contribute their tips and tricks as well.
This year, the VA decided to hold the SAME conference at the same time. This caused a little bit of confusion since each show was run under different contracts and had different ways to access data. The SAME folks had a smart phone app, the NVSBE team had a mobile friendly website. As developers, we think that the proper way to do this is with a mobile friendly site, but then again, we’re not the ones billing the government- apps cost more 🙂
We’re assuming your business is a going concern, and that you’ve done the normal dance of registering with the government and Dun & Bradstreet. If you need a checklist,:
- For small businesses that are beginning to market their services and products to government agencies, you can try local resources like SCORE or PTAC (Procurement Technical Assistance Centers) and your local SBA office.
- Obtain a DUNS (Data Universal Numbering System) Number from Dun & Bradstreet at https://www.dnb.com which is required for registration in SAM (see next item).
- Register on the System for Award Management (SAM) https://sam.gov/SAM, if your firm is registered keep the registration current by updating yearly. The FAR (see below) requires that a firm be registered on the SAM to receive a contract award.
- Know the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code and the Federal Supply Classification (FSC) code for your product or service. Most federal procurements are listed by their NAICS or their FSC code. Small business size standards vary by different NAICS codes.
- Complete any certifications which may be required (see Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) Part 19).
- If you are a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business, register and get certified by the VA. If you are a HUBZone, do so with the SBA.
- If you have a GSA schedule, you are already ahead of all of us, and have completed all of the above. Start the process of getting a GSA Schedule here.
1. Pre-conference preparation
These may be the most important steps you take. I’ll cover conference tips in general first and government contracting tips second.
Go to LinkedIn and make sure your profile is up to date. Have a current photo, title, and most importantly make sure you have your contact info in place. Look spiffy and have a custom URL for yourself.
Set up a contact card on your phone that you can share with people via text or email. Here’s a great post from PC World on how to do this for both Android and iOS. Yes, we print business cards very inexpensively and think you should have them, but, contact cards are fast and easy, and make it easy to stay in touch with folks while they are at the show.
We’re not against you registering for a Gravatar, which attaches a photo to your email address online for CRM systems and guest posting, like on this site.
Check your website to make sure that it is both secure (https) and mobile friendly (look at it on your phone, if it looks like your desktop view and you can’t read it- it’s not). This is Google’s advice since 2014 and not only will it help you get better search results, it’s just good web practice. If you don’t see the little green lock or HTTPS at the beginning of your site, you can call us- we help build websites that work.
Search for your business on Google and find your Google local/Google my business listing. It will be on the right of the search results on desktop- and make sure that you’ve claimed your listing. Put your hours in, your business description, photos of your office, etc. Manage any reviews- and most certainly ask your clients for reviews. This mostly applies to businesses that aren’t global in scale- but, is still a critical practice. You want people to be able to find you on Google maps etc.
Have some collateral materials, eg. brochure, flyer, handout. Something that someone can have in their hand that sums up everything they need to know about your business in a glance. Yes, your website can do this, however, people are going to meet so many folks their heads will be spinning. Something that’s unique, branded, clear, and preferably a good filing size is highly recommended. We can help you with design and printing. Depending on your business, these can be hard to craft, we highly recommend that you don’t create a laundry list of bullet points. Tell a story, make people feel good about working with your company, explain your successes. No one wants to read a checklist.
The government types want a “capabilities statement” and they want it in a very specific format. We’re including a link to a Word Doc checklist from the Department of the Interior, and a copy of ours, which has hyperlinks. The key is to have your critical government info in the top right corner- ie CAGE Code, DUNS number, what socio-economic programs that your business holds, and contact info. If you are a SDVOSB- make sure the logo is on it at the top, it’s like a bullseye for contracting officers. There is no logo for HUBzone, but there is for 8(a) and may be for others. We made ours a pdf (we never recommend sending word docs) and it has links built in. You should have printed copies of this, with your business card stapled to it so they don’t lose them (this from a contracting officer).
If you are going to go to a conference as an exhibitor, you’ll need to plan for a way to meaningfully capture potential customer information. The drop your business card in a fishbowl approach is one way, but, for conferences of this size you want to use the badge scanner to collect data of your booths visitors. And while promotional items are nice, most conference attendees have limited luggage space to haul your bounty back. Our advice is always to offer things that can be shipped to the “winner” and be valuable enough to make it interesting. Sure, that little spray bottle of hand sanitizer may be handy at a conference, but, do I need it once I’m back in my office? How many pens, bottle openers, small USB drives, pop-sockets (yeah, that’s an actual thing) do I need? Even the one useful item I brought back- a USB charging cable that had 3 different types of charge plugs, isn’t going to be among my favorite memories of a conference. Give me a trip to Hawaii- I’ll be forever grateful. Think about the value of customer acquisition- and make the prize equal to the cost of a major contract lead. Remember, these things aren’t last minute, and need real lead time to plan.
I saw a multitude of trade show displays at NVSBE. There were three hard hat dive helmets on display- I’m guessing each company did underwater construction work, but, what do I really remember about their organization? There was only one truly creative booth- where a group of businesses representing “The Space Coast” got together to create “Bourbon Street” as an area to interact with potential clients- without having a table in front of them. If you are doing banner stands, our prices can’t be beat, and if you want a more extensive booth, we can help with that too- but, remember the most important thing: your booth isn’t a brochure- it’s more like a stage set. Don’t put laundry lists of services on it. No one wants to read your capabilities statement in the middle of a busy trade show aisle. If you have video- have closed captions, because no one wants to listen to your 3 minute video repeating all day long. Even though the show started on Halloween, the days of trade show candy as a way to pull people in are over. We’re already eating too many rich foods thanks to the event catering. Unless you make or sell food- giving it away isn’t going to bring the kind of customers you want. However, one exhibitor had a keg of craft beer- which got them a great line, but, probably not great interactions.
2. Pre-conference planning
Visit websites of federal agencies that your firm is interested in doing business with to learn about what kinds of projects are needed by the agencies.
Look for their Forecast of Procurement opportunities and identify which opportunities best match your capabilities.
Attend agency Small Business Outreach events and agency sponsored Matchmaking sessions. Individual agencies Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) websites will have a listing of the time and location of the events. Some of this is as simple as the conference registration software matching NAICS codes. This is why early registration is important- so you have time to pre-plan and research each agency you are going to meet with.
Visit FedBizOpps, https://www.fbo.gov/ , the Government’s single point of entry portal for contracting opportunities regularly. It will also send you alerts for opportunities matching your NAICS codes. However, the reality is, that most of the time, by the time an RFP hits FBO, there are people already in line for the contract and you probably are late to the party. Remember, contracting officers are usually turning to FBO after they can’t find a firm with a GSA schedule to do the work.
Pursue Subcontracting opportunities. There are various subcontracting opportunities that are available. There is not a single point of entry for subcontracting. SBA’s SUB-Net, is a resource for information on subcontracting opportunities. Warning: the SBA login functions are horrendous. Many small businesses come to these conferences not looking to land a federal contract, but to become part of a bid with a large prime contractor. When you’re a small business, almost every company there could be a customer, partner, or vendor to you. Make sure you come to the conference with an open mind and open arms. If you are an SDVOB or HUBZone business- large contractors have subcontracting goals. They can sometimes be very welcoming.
Look closely at the list of attendees, learn about other companies that you think you can work with. I had 2 meetings the day before the conference with CEO’s of companies with a lot more experience than me in the area of federal procurement
3. At the conference
If you go with a group of co-workers, don’t go to the same sessions, don’t sit at the same tables, and don’t talk to the same people unless you need to. The idea is to make as many contacts as possible. Introduce yourself at every opportunity, and if you stand up in a session to ask a question, state your name, business name and really fast elevator pitch- you have the microphone, use it.
When you sit down with Government personnel emphasize that your firm is able to respond quickly to solicitations and that your firm is ready to perform the work when and if you are awarded a contract. It helps if you know what they are in looking for in advance.
Build a positive working relationship with the Small Business Program Office of the agency you would like to do business with. This means try to sit at their table at a lunch, not just at the one-on-ones.
If you are in a session that’s not very good, get up and find another. Always try to have a plan B. You only have so many hours at the conference.
Many times large companies host evening events at nearby hotels. Try to wrangle your way into them. If you want to look like a large company- host one. Just be aware, this isn’t where business is first on the agenda.
Take notes on everyone you meet. If you have a CRM, this is the time to use it. Enter in the details of your conversations, and notes to help you build the budding relationship.
Be a connector. Try to bring people together that you think can benefit from working together. Karma is your best friend at trade events.
4. Post Conference
While you can start connecting on LinkedIn at the conference, it helps if you add some details to your invites about how you can help your best targets in your note with your invite.
Put together a package to email to your prospective contacts. For me, an invite to read and contribute to this post, and watch the video we put together is part of the way of building relationships. For you, rely on your notes to make things as relevant as possible.
Determine which agencies are the best fit for your company, and try to arrange follow-up meetings when you’re not part of a cast of thousands.
Write your own after-action report to help plan for the next year.
If you found this post valuable, please, take the time to comment, and add any other suggestions you may have for other first time NVSBE attendees.