How To Survive An Ice Apocalypse At ADwërks

1. When you come to work in the morning, park in a neighboring parking lot so they can signremove the snow in the ADwërks lot. To avoid soggy sock syndrome, follow the foot tracks in the snow made by the brave explorer Michael Hay.

2. Check and send as many emails as possible before the internet goes out. Of course no internet means no Facebook or Twitter, but the most important thing is to not panic. Write your witty updates on a post-it note and post them later. You wouldn’t want to deprive your loving fans of every bit of minutia or every single thought you’ve had throughout the day now would you?

3. Be prepared to endure a fickle loss of electricity. During a no-power period, make sure you carefully ration the coffee that’s left in the pot and evenly divide it with all coffee-drinking ADwërkers. We’re all in this together. If the power suddenly comes back on, make another pot with haste; you never know when it will shut off again. If you find yourself in the situation of no power and no coffee, you might have a mutiny on your hands.

4. Over the course of the day you may experience momentary periods of power loss. officeEvery time the power shuts off, the lights will go out and many inexplicable alarms and beepings will resonate throughout the office. Be assured that they are not bombs preparing to detonate, however the source of the sounds will still remain a mystery. ADwërkers will attempt to put an end to the incessant beepings by peeking into unoccupied cubicles, picking up various electronics with a baffled look on their faces, and blankly staring into the printer/electrical room searching for the culprits, but they will soon give up only to check their phones and riffle through magazines.

5. If the lights go out when nature calls, it’s ok for men to use the window-lighted lady’s photorestroom. After all, it’s much better than the alternative of guys relieving themselves with the door open in the window-less men’s bathroom; no one wants to see that…

6. Snack mix and treats from media reps can only last so long, so it’s important to discuss what to do in the event of a food famine. The worst-case scenario is you’ll have to resort to the same fate as the Donner party. Establish who will have to go first. The consensus here is to go from youngest to oldest to ensure the highest quality of sustenance, sorry Andrew. When it’s Hay’s turn to be dinner, be prepared to experience a strong beer buzz upon consumption.

– Rod Bender           3854345f559002b6bbfff11ed8ae0eca


Why Clarity Is Key

Why Clarity Is Key Jul 06, 2011

Crazy Traffic LightsMy wife and I recently made a road trip down to Springfield, Missouri. Unfortunately, we left from Sioux Falls around 8:00 pm. And it’s a 9+ hour drive.

The night we left, we ran into a problem. To make a long story short, some misplaced and incorrectly-marked detour signs added about 50 minutes to our already-9-hour drive. And since this all took place around midnight, our options for getting help were extremely limited (and I’m not even the stereotypical, never-asks-for-directions male that is portrayed in every travel-related movie).

All it would’ve taken was one or two more clearly marked signs. A few guideposts to ensure that we were on the right path. But there we were, wondering why the detour signs for I-29 S were pointing BOTH directions at a T-intersection.

However, even amidst all of the intense frustration and confusion, I realized that this scenario fits perfectly in the business world. Because, when it comes to sharing your message with your customers, it’s amazing how much a little extra clarity can do. Whether it’s encouraging them to pay for your product or service or simply asking them to support you on Facebook, giving your target audience clear, defined ways to accomplish a goal is essential.

If your Facebook page isn’t growing as quickly as you’d like, have you considered adding a “Like” button for your page on your company website? If your online sales are down, have you been sure to include a prominently displayed “Buy Now” (or similarly-messaged) button on your site? Small guideposts can make a big difference when it comes to keeping your customers on the right path.

Eventually we found our way, but it would’ve been much easier if things were clear the first time around. Make sure your customers aren’t suffering the same fate my wife and I suffered on our road trip. I can tell you from personal experience that clarity is, in fact, key.

-Mike B.

Announcing The Intern Prodigy, Andrew Eide

Andrew (for blog post) v2ADwërks is excited to announce the arrival of our newest employee, Andrew Eide. Andrew has joined the team in the highly-coveted role of ADwërks Summer Intern and his official title is “The Intern Prodigy,” which is very fitting based on what we expect Andrew to accomplish over the summer.

Andrew’s job will include copywriting, social media management and account services, so he’ll certainly be busy over the next few months. As intimidating as that sounds, we’re confident Andrew can handle it all and more.

The Intern Prodigy is from Madison, SD and currently lives in Brookings, SD. He got his first degree from SDSU in Consumer Affairs (with a Business minor) and he will also have a degree in Advertising upon completion of his internship. Our job is to make sure all of Andrew’s schooling doesn’t go to waste.

According to Andrew, “The most important reason I’m excited about this internship isn’t necessarily working with one client or working on one campaign, but the experience of diving into the pool of advertising with a real advertising agency.”

In this year’s National Student Advertising Competition, Andrew’s team earned a second place finish and only lost by something like ½ a point, so he knows a thing or two about advertising already, even if he is just a student.

On the personal side of thing, Andrew’s non-work interests include:

    • Astronomy – He’d like to become an amateur astronomer someday…which in his words means he “just wants to get a telescope.”
    • Music – Andrew has been in bands in the past and he currently operates his own solo music project—mostly through Facebook—where he uploads his music, videos and designs. (Andrew has also requested that you not judge him for the low number of Likes on the page.

    • The paranormal – Mostly from a scientific standpoint, not necessarily the “who ya gonna call?” standpoint.

We’re excited to have Andrew with us this summer and we welcome you to welcome him when you have a chance. If you want to ask him any questions or anything, feel free to leave a comment below!

Why Set Goals? Because Bruce Lee Said So…

Bruce LeeHere’s a handwritten note from Bruce Lee on Roger Ebert’s blog. The note is titled “My Definite Chief Aim,” and I think it sets a stellar example of the importance of setting goals.

Here’s the text of the note:

I, Bruce Lee, will be the first highest paid Oriental super star in the United States. In return, I will give the most exciting performances and render the best of quality in the capacity of an actor. Starting 1970 I will achieve world fame and from then onward till the end of 1980 I will have in my possession $10,000,000. I will live the way I please and achieve inner harmony and happiness.

-Bruce Lee, 1969

Keep in mind that, at this point, Bruce Lee was far from the Bruce Lee we know him as today. He had been in a few films as minor characters, but that was about it. But that didn’t stop him from setting a goal and striving to achieve it (which he was well on the path to doing if he hadn’t passed away in 1973).

In marketing, goals work the same way. If you start a Facebook campaign with the goal of “raising awareness for your brand,” you’ll never actually accomplish what you intend. It’s too vague. Too unfocused.

However, deciding on measured, tangible results can actually get you somewhere. If you say, “Our page will have 500 fans by next year and we will produce content and updates that receive at least 20 comments per week on a consistent basis,” you’re actually setting yourself up for success. Now you know how you want to focus your content, your timing, and every other aspect of your efforts. There’s a goal in mind and you can work toward that goal.

This mentality can be applied to all aspects of marketing (not just social media), and the marketers who understand that are the ones who get results for their clients. Take it from Bruce Lee. Because do you really want to argue with someone who can do this?…

I didn’t think so.

-Mike B.

Photo by Glen Johannes. Thanks Glen!

Your Baby Is Ugly (and Why You Need To Hear It)

Does your marketing look like this?The marketing industry, like most industries, has some funny quirks. One of the quirks I find most interesting is how few business owners and marketing managers really, really want to hear the truth from their advertising agency.

You see, TONS of business owners understand how a marketing agency can help them increase sales, strengthen their brand and all of that other marketing stuff we agencies specialize in. The problem is many of those business owners treat agencies like a servant rather than a collaborative, strategic partner. They don’t need new ideas, they just need people who can keep doing the work “the way it’s always been done.”

Sure, they’ll say that they want to do whatever it takes to “increase their market share” or “build their brand reputation on Facebook,” but they refuse to budge when you point out that their website from 2003 probably needs an upgrade. Or they might insist that they want their materials updated with a new look, new colors, etc., but they demand that you leave the logo unchanged because “everybody knows/loves/has tattoos of that logo.”

Here’s the problem with that approach – a good agency should be hired for its expertise and creativity, not for its ability to keep making ugly brochures and forgettable TV spots.

Unfortunately, these business owners are the people who don’t realize their baby—or in this case, their business’s marketing approach—is ugly. And because no one has ever told them so, they never realize they need to fix it (even though, unlike an ugly baby, a bad marketing approach CAN be fixed). Instead, people just make fun of them behind their backs and the business owners never know there’s an issue.

So here’s our advice to you business owners. Make sure you can trust your agency to be honest with you. Hearing that your baby is ugly might not be your favorite news flash of the day, but it’s better than working with someone who doesn’t have the guts to tell you the truth. Besides, one of these days somebody is going to see your baby and react like this.

Wouldn’t your rather work with an agency that helps you fix the problem before that happens?

-Mike B.

Photo c/o AntToeKnee Lacey. Thanks!

To Tweet or not to Tweet; That is the Question.

A few days ago I got a call from an old friend, a media rep who is a real pro when it comes to selling TV. But his question was about social media. “I’ve had a few small local clients lately saying they are cutting their advertising and just using Facebookand Twitter. That just doesn’t make sense to me, what do you think?” he asked. I gave him a quick response but promised I’d think about it and answer more in-depth.
Here it is, you asked for it.

As the old axiom says, “I know that only half of my advertising works, the problem is, I don’t know which half.” So along comes Facebook, and people think they have found the Holy Grail of Advertising; it’s cheap and effective! It stands to reason, if only half of my Facebook posts bring in customers, at least I didn’t waste any money.

Here are a few of my thoughts on social media like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, the good, the bad and the ugly:

Social media is just one arrow in your quiver. Like any medium, social media works best when it is used in conjunction with another medium. Outdoor works well with radio, television complements print, point-of-sale reinforces mass media. All media works best when it is a part of a media mix.

As the old Steely Dan song says, “It’s cheap but it’s not free.”
 I keep hearing people say social media is free… and it is to some point. I use Facebook to post snarky comments and share pictures and stories with old high school and college buddies, and that’s free. But for my business, I don’t just want to post without thinking about it. Any communications in the name ofADwërks (like this blog) needs to be well thought out and provide some useful information to our clients, vendors and potential clients. And for me to put that kind of time into a post takes time away from other business duties. So is it free? If you believe, like I do, that time is money, then social media is not free.

Social media is only valuable to your business when it provides value to your customers. I’ve seen a few local businesses use Facebook efficiently and to provide worthwhile information to their customers. For example, Sanaa Abourezk, owner of Sanaa’s at 8th and Railroad posts a little something on Facebook each weekday; a note about her menu; what kind of soup she’s making for lunch, a special dessert or something fresh and delicious. She posts these everyday, just before lunch. A simple reminder like that has helped make up my mind about where I’m going for lunch.

Do you want new customers, or are you happy with the customers you have? 
While Sanaa’s does a good job of communicating with current customers, Facebook won’t do much to reach out to new diners. I see her post, but unless I comment, my friends who are not fans of Sanaa’s never hear about her offerings. Traditional media – TV, radio, print and outdoor – reach new and unexpected audiences constantly and every message invites new customers in. With social media, you’re waiting for new customers to invite your business in.

What is your competition doing? Before you abandon your current marketing and roll the dice on your awesome tweets, ask yourself this: What is your competition doing? If they are still actively seeking new customers, can you afford to give up the game and let them win? I know I can’t.

Not everyone is an expert. One of the things that happened with the meteoric rise in social media’s popularity is the equally sudden appearance of social media experts. The same thing happened several years ago with desktop publishing; suddenly everyone with a Mac was a graphic designer. Then anybody with a $400 video camera became a TV producer. Now everyone over the age of 12 is claiming to be a social media expert. And while those people may be able to set up a page, without a sound marketing strategy behind it, it’s no better than the snarky comments I send my college roommate. If tweeting fits your marketing plan, great; by all means, do it. But social media is just another marketing tactic that needs to have a sensible place in your marketing plan. Strategy first, tactics second. No different than TV or radio, you need to have a plan or you’re just wasting your time and energy.

It’s not as easy as it seems. I was talking with a reporter the other day who commented about how he enjoys the ADwërks Twitter stream. While I thanked him for following us, I admitted that one of my team works on keeping Twitter updated. While it seems easy, it really does take time. I write many of our blog posts, Mike handles Twitter, Kara and I update our Facebook. Other staffers feed us story ideas, we divide the duties of updating social media pages for clients and we’re all working on the same plan and towards the same goals. A social media strategy takes time. If we had to pay an outside company to handle our social media, we would spend thousands of dollars each month. Like I said, it’s cheap, but it’s not free.

Social media is Social. The best part about social media is that it requires interaction. For years traditional media has come into your living room and simply said “Buy this!” Facebook and Twitter invite conversations and recommendations, sites like Digg and Yelp and Angie’s List are there specifically to invite comments and criticism. The one-way communication of old-school advertising has suddenly become a two-way street. A business owner can talk with customers, hear their ideas and respond to complaints like never before. And that is something social media can do that TV and radio cannot.

So to my friend in Montana, I hope that gives some clarity to the social media puzzle and maybe help you convince those folks to keep the traditional media and use social media as a supplement. And to everyone else, the best part of this format is that it is open for your ideas and comments as well. If you know of a business that is using social media well, give them a plug. Think I’m full of crap? You can let me know, right here, right now. Don’t worry, I can take it.

– Jim Mathis