bush tetras

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I was on the Wells Fargo home page this morning, don’t ask, and counted the clickables above the fold.  There were 46. In my lifetime there is no way I’d be interested in 46 different pieces of information on banking from Wells Fargo or any bank for that matter. Imagine walking into a bank and having 46 questions? (Too many clicks, for those Bush Tetras fans.)

The irony is that most bank home pages have a similar number of links. Citibank does a good job, providing only 18 clickables…on one of the cleaner pages in the category.

I advocate using your home page to convey the company Is-Does and brand value. I recently had a major difference of opinion with a company over this approach. The executive team at regional (non-financial) brand with national aspirations and a changing business model, felt it more important to use the homepage as a navigational tool than to explain the complicated business it was in and what made it different. Similar to the bank approach, it organized upon the home page an array of things it thought customers would want, by target. It’s the “me” versus “you” argument I often have in reverse when discussing advertising. (Good ads are you focused, a good home page is me/brand focused.)

Cory Treffiletti a really smart colleague once told me, “If you give customers too many choices they will make none.”   To that I will add, if you don’t tell people what you do and do differently than competition, they won’t make a choice. Certainly, not an informed choice that is.

Even in a category as generic as banking – when simply removing confusion can be a differentiator – companies need to use their home page to convey their brand story, their soulful difference. Homepages that are simply navigation-driven are tofu and a lost, lost opportunity.  Peace!

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I’m not saying we are shallow but if you are walking on the street and 4 people stroll by and one is stunningly beautiful – my pal Terrence tells me men are beautiful too – whom do you look at?   If they are all similarly visaged and one has amazing clothes, whom do your eyes go to?  This is the case for advertising.  First impressions are important.  The more beautiful, the more colorful and artful, the more the ad is likely to strike the consumer.

Many, many ads today are plain, especially those of the digital kind. Consumers have trained themselves not to look at ads. We’ve become immune.  But a pretty ad, an incongruous or stylish ad, gets seen. And always will.  Art directors get this more than copy writers. Great copy writers are on board.  (A punk rock aside, did anyone know the Bush Tetras are in town?) Once seen, an ad has to sell.  If an ad is good enough to borrow your interest and register a product name, some say its job is done. That’s lazy ad craft. A great ad attracts interest, makes you feel something, then makes you do something.

A mother and father always think their babies are cute…even if they are not.  Brand planners and brand managers always think their ads are cute, even if they’re not. They feel a love others don’t.

Art, Science and Strategy must come together for an ad to be great. That’s ASS.  Get you some. (See it works.)

Happy Independence Day. Peace.

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Too many widgets!

The rage today in social networking and social computing (my company, Zude, is in the latter business) is opening up APIs to developers with the hope of generating the next killer widget that sends user numbers into the stratosphere.
Meebo announced this capability yesterday.
Facebook broke the trend earlier in the year and it created a great amount of traction and copy-cat behavior. But, interestingly, we are beginning to feel a hint of fallout from users. Too many widgets! (Check out the Bush Tetras song called “Too many freaks,” when you have some time.) My Facebook site has recently been hit by “tossed cows” and other funky “pokes” which are adding lots of cheese to my page. And I don’t even use Facebook very much. Can you imagine what active users sites must look like?
Facebook knows this to be a problem and has put up deletes, blocks and opt-ins everywhere for this stuff. I love widgets, don’t get me wrong. Like good blogs, they are very valuable — but on my terms.
Here’s a user comment about Facebook from Hey Nielsen? “It was such a great alternative because it was clean, fast, simple and streamlined. Now I have to deal with the same spam and new annoyances in the form of applications (I don’t want to be a zombie or vampire).” 

Too many widgets!


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Uncle Steve thinks so. I happened to be on the periphery of the whole Krispy Kreme collapse a couple of years ago and one thing I said at the beginning was that Krispy Kreme’s expansion plans were going to be its downfall. Adding more stores was okay up to a point, but then putting the donuts in every gas station and big box store, was a tad greedy.
The allure of Kripsy Kreme is that it’s a sweet treat, and too many treats are like to many creeps (Bush Tetras reference.)  Starbucks building 7 stores a day is evidence of that same insatiable build-out thing that many marketers fall prey to. It’s like a drug addiction. The company plans to build 10,000 stores over the next 4 years. I know it’s a big world, but come on. As Lou Carnesecca once told me when referring to Bobby Knight’s erratic, driven behavior “How many cars can you drive? How many steaks can you eat?  
Slow down, Mr. Schultz and smell the chai!

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