Monthly Archives: June 2017

In Situ Marketing.


I was on the boardwalk at Rockaway Beach this past weekend and came across this little dispensing display. It was sampled SPF 30 sun screen by Brightguard.

“In Situ” marketing is an exciting new addition to the new advertising arsenal.  Placing ads or doing sampling in a places of product or service impact is the best form of marketing.

On the boardwalk at Rockaway beach, there are a number of food pavilions. A good number offer healthier alternative foods.  (I had the most amazing best veggie burger there.)  Lots of smoothies, watermelon drinks, avocado toast with virgin olive oil on grain bread — suffice it to say, people who like healthy go to these eateries on the beach. This would be a good place for an ad placement for say a cold pressed juice company.

The In Situ ad placement approach is not about reach and frequency, it’s about mindset intent.  In Situ is a multiplier for effectiveness. A fish where the fish are approach.

If you want to dial up your comms planning and media results smart to think In Situ,






New Marketing Planning Tool.


One of my primary tools in brand planning is a questionnaire used with C-level executives. The questions stay away from quantitative metrics about business revenue and profit and delve into market and sales realities, perceptions and attitudes. 

The last question I like to ask is “Fast forward 1 year. The new marketing plan and strategy have been a huge success. Everyone is extremely pleased.  What have we accomplished?”  This question has always put a nice cherry on the Sundae. I’ve decided to change it up a bit.  I’m looking to put a new level of illumination on the question – to bring out even more emotional highs.

Here’s the new one:

“Fast forward 1 year.  The Wall Street Journal has written a cover story for its Business and Tech Section on your company. It has highlighted key financial gains and strategic accomplishments over the last 12 months.  Please write the headline, read me the first paragraph and share a possible visual for the story.”

Can’t wait to try it out.





Radio Advertising Today.


Yesterday while driving to work I found myself singing the Mavis Discount Tire song with the radio.  Later I heard the familiar voice of the Winthrop University Hospital announcer. My friends Mike Welch and Jack Schultheis handle that advertising, but even so, I immediately knew it was Winthrop from the music and voice.

Radio is still a powerful ad medium.  It’s a unique way, at a reasonable cost, to condition consumers to listen, associate and remember. When working on North Shore-LIJ Health System years ago, I used lots of radio to extent the TV work.  It worked brilliantly.

But while singing the Mavis Discount Tire radio song I wondered if it was a reason to buy?

I reckoned consciously I knew the price is right, thanks to the name, but with the web and search so prevalent is name awareness enough to tip the scales?  Has the ability to simply slip a phone from my pocket and say “best tire prices near me” changed the formula for advertising?   

Search changes everything in marketing. The first page web experience is critical. We “twitch to buy” today. Radio needs to recognize and account for this.

My kids are in their twenties. Both have two phones. When they sing the discount tire song are they Google searching for other tire stores? You bet they are.





Brand Learners Become Brand Practicers.


A while back I spent 8 months at a K12 educational development company called Teq and it changed how I approach branding and marketing. My approach is more beholden to pedagogy than selling — though selling is still the objective.

This morning I was reading a nice piece in the NY Times about the use of technology in education. Features included Marc Benioff (software), Reed Hastings (algorithm) and Mark Zuckerburg (student-centered).  In Mr. Zuckerberg’s segment the quote “Now educators are no longer classroom leaders, but helpmates.” While this statement may be a little too “new world,” it rang a bell.    

The best brand strategies are those understood throughout a company. They can be taught but are best when learned and believed. Proper training allows every employee to be a brand learner. And more importantly, a brand practicer.

When all employees get the claim and proof planks of a brand strategy, it accelerates penetration into the consumer ethos. Talk about mission and culture in a company all you want, branding is not about memorization it’s about practice. Start with the teachers. (The more the better.) Then “helpmate” the consumers.



NYU Langone.


There’s no question the best advertising in NY for a health system or hospital is that of NYU Langone Medical Center. Creators Munn Rabot have been doing quality, no, expert healthcare ad craft for years and years.  The NYU TV ads are the kind that you have to stop and watch. Visually they’re cinematic. Musically they’re awakening. Copy-wise, quite strong.   All of this work, and the work Munn Rabot did for previous client NY Presbyterian, have led the category for years.

One thing they might do better, however, is tighten their brand idea. The line/strategy is “Made in New York.”  This presumes patient care and patients are different in NY. It poses the question “How does healthcare made in NY distinguish itself?”  I get the idea, but offer up the narrative is hard to deliver. They do get points for unique though (in healthcare, that is).  

Most consumers won’t cling to the need for a powerful brand idea served up daily, as I do; they just like the ads. And that should be enough. NYU Langone is back on big map. Well done.



Promise or Claim?


Way at the top of unpaid Google search results on brand strategy is HubSpot’s post “7 Essentials for a Strong Company Brand.”   Point one is about brand purpose and brand promise. Not bad places to start I guess, but a little too soft for me.

Brand strategy is not about a promise. It’s about a claim. A prideful statement of consumer value that “is.” Not a might be, or a try-to-be.  But a fact. A fact found at the nexus consumer care-abouts and brand good-ats.

If you have your brand claim right then everything you do in sales and marketing should be about proving it. Promise and purpose help may get you to your claim, but claim is the quintessential essential.  7 is too many essentials anyway. Water, air and food are essentials.







Price as Strategy.


I have this concept for a quick serve restaurant where the menu is built around a specific price point. It would offer lots of food variety but everything is priced the same.  Let’s call the place $8.99s. $8.99s is not Ben Benson’s or Le Bernadin insofar as brand names go, but it is descriptive. (Think I borrowed the idea from Steve and Barry’s.)  I ran this notion by an investor/restaurateur friend and didn’t go for it. What ever. He also didn’t want to serve breakfast burritos at his NYC chain to open up a new day part. 

Fast forward to Blue Apron, a some-assembly-required meal delivery service and the static price idea has found a proof of concept. Blue Apron probably did it to improve simplicity. Their overhead, don’t forget, includes delivery.  But for $8.99s, the idea was to own a new class of value restaurants.

The idea to offer all meals for $8.99 is a strategy. Sure, the mission statement can include words like healthy and tasty. Smiley servers. Satisfaction guarantees. But driving to a price point, rather than say a cuisine, gives form to the “product, experience and message.” It’s a brand play in addition to a category play. A category busting idea.

It will happen. Peace.   




Content Marketing. Fight the Power.


People who create content for the web are its fuel. And there’s no doubt that content marketing is a powerful online business tool. But it is links that tend to be the ballast of today’s content marketing, not the words.  

One of my first memes on the web was “Posters vs. Pasters.” For those spelling challenged it’s not Pastors, those are for Sunday morning, it’s pasters like users of the glue pot. A paster is someone who spends time reading other people’s content and pasting it into links for sharing. A paster might spray a bucolic photo of an Atlantic Puffin or “Seven Rules for Higher Click Rate.” S/he is a curator, not a creator.

Sadly, the commercial web has become a miasma of paster links. And it is working. Think of the web as a federation of radio stations sharing less and less original music. Finding true posters, subject matter experts or subject matter passionates (noun), has become more difficult. But posters still drives the excitement and vitality of the web; they are just harder to find.

Digital pasting began 25 years ago when we started emailing jokes around the web. Lately, it has become a cottage industry for marketers. Fight the power of pasting. Fight the power.