From FMOT to ZMOT Jan 13, 2012

For those who haven’t heard of the First Moment of Truth (FMOT), essentially it’s the moment in which a consumer is in a store deciding between your brand and the next guy’s. For years this has been a profound moment for businesses and marketers – a final fight to the death between two gladiators. Who will win? Lucky Charms or Cap’n Crunch? All of your branding and marketing efforts have led up to this moment. If your efforts were good enough, you’d close the sale and bask in the glory of the crowd’s roar in the Coliseum. But if you failed, you’d lose the sale to your competitor and fall to your death.

Although FMOT is still significant, it is yet another victim affected by digital technology’s wrath. Recently there has been a lot of hype around our office about a new book called ZMOT: Winning the Zero Moment of Truth  by Jim Lecinski.

Now that you know about FMOT, the term Zero Moment of Truth refers to the moment of competition before the consumer reaches FMOT, and it takes place online rather than in the store. For example, if you were thinking about buying a new TV, whether you plan to buy it online or in-store, would you first conduct a little research online to learn about your options? You may compare brands and prices, read customer reviews about the potential candidates, or even consult your Twitter followers for suggestions. If you’re behind the times like me and still have a cathode-ray tube television, you may even do a little research to learn about HDTV’s in general before moving on to comparing brands, specs and prices. The instance in which you are conducting all of this research, from learning about the product category to the brand options, is the Zero Moment of Truth. And it’s becoming increasingly important for brands and businesses to be present at this moment and to take advantage of the opportunity, especially in today’s digital retail environment where some consumers may not even leave the couch when purchasing your product. And if they do, there’s a good chance that they’ve done some online research before coming to your store. And this is why your business needs to be there during that decision process.

I’ll give you an example from the book. It’s not enough for businesses to only be present when their brand name or product category is typed into a search engine; there are more innovative ways to be present as well. To illustrate this strategy, the author points out a popular Google search phrase – “What’s in dog food?” Now if you were a dog food company, wouldn’t you want to be present when a consumer has a question like this? Who better to answer it than you? Maybe you could start a “What’s in dog food” campaign and educate your consumers. Plus, it’d be a great way to stand out among your competitors.

And that’s the kind of stuff you’ll find in this book. It’s a short and simple read, but incredibly insightful. The author presents numerous case examples and offers tools, tips and ideas on how you can apply and implement ZMOT in your business. The Zero Moment of Truth concept is no doubt a monumental, game-changing notion for the field of marketing. Although this book is a great way to get acquainted with ZMOT, I have a hunch that it is a subject that will only receive deeper analysis in the future as it becomes even more important and more relevant to business and advertising.

The book is available in about every format you can imagine (I downloaded the app on my iPod touch). And the best part is – it’s free! Again, it’s a painless read, nothing compared to the pain of being struck down by a gladiator. So check it out, before the caged lions get you.

– Andrew

Liver is Always Liver

Liver by any other name, well, just call it liver. Dress it up with gravy, corn or peas, but liver will never be a juicy cut of steak slathered with A.1®. Sauce, a mouth-watering filet mignon or a burger beefed up with cheese and bacon. It can never be the other white meat, it will always be beef. And whatever name you use, it still tastes like liver and I will not, cannot and could not think of eating it. But not that my mom did not try.

Growing up on a farm, when you butcher your own cattle, you get left with a lot of leftovers which includes a freezer full of tongue, Rocky Mountain oysters and liver, when all the rest found its way to a plate. My mom knew this, and she would call liver any other name but liver in hopes I would eat it. Sometimes it would almost work. I’d take a nibble or two and then question the cut. Sometimes simply the look would throw me into a toddler-like tantrum.

When it comes to PR, you get plenty of liver. Good stories, full of iron. They beef up a company, but rarely do they suit everyone’s palate – the specialized, niched and super-quirky pitches. As business owners, we want to pitch everyone everywhere every story, because we want to believe everyone everywhere loves to know everything we do. But you would not serve a plate of liver, steak or stew meat at a meeting of the American Vegan Society (yes, it exists –

So as PR professionals, we cannot serve every story to everyone. We need to know the menu, our audience, and what they like and want to eat. Blame it (or credit it to) technology, but journalism evolved in the last decade into the Mall of America, filled with amusement parks, Subways, Hooters and lots of stores, each catering to a unique audience. If we want to create effective (and efficient from an opportunity cost perspective) pitches, we need to know what our audience wants and to not waste their time with what we think, or hope they will like. As advertisers, we research what works and what doesn’t, and PR must follow the same philosophy. It may seem like I’m serving up some strained peas, easy and obviously little chewing required, but so often (as I remember from being a journalist receiving emails every day from the launch of a Bosnian eat-on-a-dime cookbook to pitches about throwing the perfect children’s party with a budget of $20,000 when I reported on courts, cops and crime). When we pitch to the masses, they pitch our idea in the trash. Instead, we need to know the reporters, the blogs and the beats that care most about what idea we want to sell them. We must find the unique angles, and then serve our stories up on a silver platter. I admit, I am as guilty as my mom at trying, wanting and hoping someone will eat what I dish up. I pitched faux-Facebook websites like a pop-up-shop on a random street corner pushing the latest Louis Vuitton bag, and I would pitch to anyone and everyone because my client wanted a story on the front page of the New York Times or Wall Street Journal. That’s when a slice of humble pie helps for all involved. Communicating to clients also becomes critical so they know why and how you want to reach the people you believe will be most interested in them.

Now I’m kind of hungry with all this talk of food. I think I’ll grab a delivery menu for pizza tonight.

– Jolene Loetscher

Photos by Spec-ta-cles and coolmikeol. Thanks!

Black Friday, Green Christmas

The Holidays mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. But to retailers and their marketers, the Holidays are nothing more than a dollar sign and market opportunity, especially Black Friday. But is that really so bad?

People may criticize the idea of Black Friday, turning it into the classic tale of marketers having to commercialize everything, but I’d have to disagree. I acknowledge that sometimes marketing can be greedy, over-commercialized, and even unethical, leaving little left for the sacred, but those are just the bad apples. And regardless of the marketing, people are going to buy gifts for their friends and family; there’s no changing that. Retailers are just playing the game. There is no malicious intent; they’re just doing their best to give people what they want – crazy awesome deals. There’s never been a more sure-fire way to make an attempt at increasing profits than to simply give consumers what they want. Pleasing the consumer has always been important, but it is ever increasing in this day and age when more and more consumers’ are becoming strict arbiters of their spending decisions and product/brand choices, so making them happy is vital if you ever want to increase profits and market share.

If you ask me, Black Friday is a brilliant marketing strategy. But we can’t blame any specific person for the invention. The origin of Black Friday may be linked to Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parades in the early 20th century. Since department stores sponsored the parade, they used it as a vehicle to launch a big push in advertising, getting consumers excited for the first official day of holiday shopping. Eventually it had become an unwritten rule that stores should not do their Christmas advertising until the parade was over. That would just be tacky. So the day following Thanksgiving naturally marked the official first day of the holiday shopping season, and marketers could advertise with a guilt-free conscience. And so a materialistic holiday that makes retailers’ cash registers ring and consumers’ wallets smile was born, and that’s ok with me.

– Andrew

Guerrilla Research. NOT researching gorillas.

The ADwërkers recently viewed an informative presentation about running a small ad agency. One subject that was covered really stood out to me – guerrilla research.

I tend to be very open-minded and have an affinity for the non-traditional. So guerrilla research really intrigued me. Basically, if you have a question that demands an answer from your target audience or the general public, go to the street and ask. The way our presenters put it, “Be fearless. Overturn every stone. Ask the right people, the right questions, the right way.” Then take your results and apply them to your messaging, strategy, etc. Yeah, why not? Who says we have to get all of our research from some sterile lab on the east coast?

Well, in some ways it may be contradictory to the laws of quantitative scientific research, which definitely has its value. And guerrilla research is by no means a replacement for traditional/non-guerrilla research methods, but it still has plenty of pros, pros that traditional research can’t offer.

First of all, guerrilla research is personal. It involves human to human interaction rather than human to paper. So it can deliver deeper insights that can’t always be measured with a pad and pen. Secondly, it’s inexpensive and time efficient, which is beneficial for both the client and the agency. Thirdly, you can be creative with your methods. It’s not limited to simply walking up to strangers on the street and asking questions. The methods are completely open to experimentation, and with that come new opportunities for learning. Fourthly, this isn’t so much a legitimate pro but more of a personal opinion; I love the spirit of it. It carries with it the spirit of advertising. Advertising isn’t always conventional! Why should our research strategies be any different?

Guerrilla research at least deserves a try. Ask a question, and take it upon yourself to find an answer. What do you have to lose? And you just may learn something in the process.

What are your opinions on guerrilla research?

– Andrew

Brand Power: Heavy Eyelids & 44 miles

Recently I had the great pleasure of working as Ronald McDonald’s assistant at a couple McDonald’s stores in Sioux Falls. He was visiting for the 50th anniversary of two different stores, so he spent 4 hours at each entertaining customers with jokes, magic tricks, and just making people smile. Aside from entertaining the kids, he is also great at entertaining the adults. He’s genuinely funny and always had me in stitches. It was such a memorable experience that I’ve been casually telling the story to some friends and family.

Last weekend my girlfriend (Jenny) and I were visiting her parents’ home in the small town of Estelline, South Dakota. It was around 10:00 pm when I was telling my tale of “Ronald Wrangling” to Jenny’s sister Lindsay and her fiancé Dwight. They were amused, but were probably more focused on the question “What the heck does Andrew do for a living again?” Once I finished telling the story, Dwight exclaimed, “Man…I want some McDonald’s!” Then Jenny says, “Yeah, I want their fries!”

After everyone finished enthusiastically discussing their favorite McDonald’s entrées (all the while Dwight repeating that he wants some McDonald’s right now), Jenny and I go upstairs to say goodbye to Alice and Brody, our two cats. When we came back downstairs Lindsay and Dwight were gone, and we were still uncertain of whether or not they were serious about driving 22 miles to the nearest McDonald’s location in the dead of night. As we were traveling back to Brookings Jenny says, “I was serious about getting McDonald’s fries.” So being the congenial guy that I am, after arriving in Brookings around 11:00 pm we head straight for McDonald’s. We pull up to the drive-thru and lo and behold, Dwight and Lindsay are in the vehicle in front of us; they were serious after all.

Now Jenny and I live in Brookings, but Dwight and Lindsay live in Estelline. So they chose to drive 22 miles to Brookings late at night, and 22 miles back to Estelline, all to satiate what they were pining for. Heavy eyelids and 44 miles were not enough to stop them from their McDonald’s craving.

Think about how strong McDonald’s brand power must be. It is a testament to the concept of branding and illustrates what it is capable of, and I find it miraculous. In this demonstration, McDonald’s managed to make a sale by the power of suggestion and that alone. And with 44 miles of inconvenience in the way, late at night, the sale tenaciously succeeded. That’s not just brand power; that is powerful branding, and we all could learn a thing or two from McDonald’s.

Don’t be surprised if you are now craving McDonald’s.

– Andrew

Creativity – The Wild West of Disciplines

The creative process can be a messy game. You brainstorm, conceptualize, toss papers in the basket, get frustrated, and sometimes it either leads to a good idea, or you may end up with nothing at all. But there are also times when it hits you like a ton of bricks and you develop that great idea within the first few minutes of brainstorming. This is why the creative process can be so unreliable. So what the heck do you do?

Veterans of the creative process, whether it be in art, music, writing, design, advertising creative etc. may develop their own strategies for being creative. It’s all about what works best for you. The more experienced you are with creativity, the more you develop those little idiosyncratic personal strategies or rituals, and the more efficient you become at turning out great creative work. There is actually a defined creative process that may be helpful to some. You can read more about each step here.

The Creative Process

  1. Preparation
  2. Incubation
  3. Illumination
  4. Implemenation

But for the most part, creativity is not something that can be easily defined or taught with ease, if at all. It’s buried deep in our brains and individual imaginations; and there’s no clear path laid out for getting there. We all possess this path; it’s just that finding it seems to be easier for some. But the more frequent we venture down that path, the more we familiarize ourselves with the route. So if I were to give someone advice on how to be creative, I’d say, grab your machete, and start cutting your own distinctive path. Once you’ve made some progress, the pathway to your creativity starts to open up. Add business, a deadline, and certain creative parameters to work within, and you’ve got advertising.

– Andrew

Traditional Media – “Hey everyone, I’m still alive…and healthy too!”

Is traditional media worth your advertising dollars anymore? Many people hold the presumption that it’s on life support and will soon become obsolete. Although in some cases usage has declined, putting it on life support would be a bit dramatic.

In fact, good ol’ reliable traditional media is very much alive. For example, 93% of Americans still listen to the radio. And viewership of traditional media’s biggest hitter, TV, has actually increased. Ninety-eight percent of people 12 and up watch TV every week.

Our agency has recently experienced a firsthand account of what traditional media is capable of. July is typically a soft month in sales for one of our clients. In an attempt to
counteract this trend, we implemented a promotional offer only good during the month of July. To advertise this promotion we used television as our primary medium and print as secondary. The results brought our client record sales for July, making it the best July and second best month in company history. Based on this positive and anomalous deviation in sales trends for our client, we can determine that traditional media, when used effectively, is still a powerhouse player in media.

The takeaway message is this, history shows that traditional media has proven to be very adaptable to our constantly evolving society. The younger forms of media like web, social and mobile have definitely been useful and have made a large impact on the industry, but eventually they too will be threatened by a newer form of media, forcing them to either successfully evolve and adapt like the rest of the traditional mediums in use today, or fail and become obsolete. Until traditional media loses its adaptability and fails to meet the wants, needs and tastes of a modern society, it will continue to be a vital form of media.

– Andrew

Lessons I’ve Learned During My Time At ADwërks

As Andrew mentioned in his overly-complimentary post from yesterday, today is my last day at ADwërks after more than a year of fun, learning, and getting to contribute to some killer work. Calling it a good year would be an egregious understatement.

However, since it is my last day, I thought it would only be fair to share some of the lessons I’ve learned since I began my tenure here at ADwërks. So for those of you interested in the inside scoop, here you go.

  • Jim knows more about making food than most people know about eatingfood.
  • Jim also knows more about making advertising than most people know about seeing advertising.
  • If you bring a lunch, don’t eat it until after 1:00; you never know when Jim will randomly take the entire team to Taste of the Big Apple or Jacky’s.
  • If you hate laughter, odds are you won’t fit in at ADwërks.
  • If you hate working hard, odds are you won’t fit in at ADwërks.
  • Some days, a clown named Ronald might just wander into the office, sing “Tomorrow” from Annie at the top of his lungs, then leave. These are the perks of having McDonald’s as a client.
  • It’s ok if you’re not good at golf. In most cases it’s expected.
  • ALWAYS support your clients outside of the office. Because if you aren’t willing to use their service, buy their product or eat at their restaurant, why are you doing work for them?
  • People are fascinated by our historic building. At least one person a week stops in “just to take a look at it.” (And another two ask if this the cupcake place.)
  • It’s ok if you make mistakes. Just make sure you’re willing to fix them once they’re made.
  • Awards are nice. But a loyal, more-than-satisfied client who has been with you longer than your business has even had a name trumps awards 10 times out of 10.
  • ADwërks started with a single employee in a spare bedroom and lots of hard work. The office may be bigger, but the work effort is as relentless as when things started. And everyone seems to like it that way.
  • With only 8 or 9 people in the office at any given time, almost everyone does a variety of work for just about every client. I like to call it “diversifying your skill set.”
  • Did I mention that if you don’t like laughter, you probably won’t fit in at ADwërks?
  • If you want to learn, grow as a marketer, and put that newfound knowledge to good fantastic use, ADwërks is the place to be.

This list could’ve been another 30 bullet points longer, but one other thing I’ve learned in my time here is the importance of brevity. (Clearly, I’m still working on it.)

All in all, I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunity I’ve had to work with this ADwërks crew. Every person working here has a wealth of knowledge and a passion for sharing that knowledge, and it has truly been inspiring to come in every day and work with people who love doing what they do. I’ve never worked in an environment quite like ADwërks and I doubt I ever will again.

Thanks to everyone here at ADwërks for the past year. Each of you has helped me get better at what I do and it’s been an experience I’ll remember forever. Or at least 30-40 years. But probably forever.


Photo by woodleywonderworks.

Captain Content DEFEATS Evil Geographic Limitations! – By Moving

August 5th marks the last day our heroic Captain Content (otherwise known as Mike Billeter) will be hand crafting marketing solutions at ADwërks.

He and his wife, Lindsie, are moving to Springfield, Missouri where she will pursue a degree in Christian counseling. Meanwhile, Captain Content will be scouring the city looking to protect advertising agencies from villainous marketing problems or to save them from treacherous writer’s block. In other words, he’s looking for a job.

The strategy he’s using for marketing himself to the Springfield job market speaks for his overall advertising and marketing skills – like his writing talent, creative strategies, and sturdy thoroughness (and much more). And as always, he throws in a dash of humor and a pinch of the Billeter wit. Perhaps the most interesting thing he’s done so far to market himself is launching this website where prospective employers can view his work/writing samples, look at his résumé, and most importantly, connect with him. And Mike draws them in right away with the headline, “Can you live with yourself if someone else hires him first?” – Brilliant, Mike.

ADwërks will truly miss Mike and all the talents and skills that are included in the Captain Content package. But we are confident that he will continue to succeed in his career and we wish him all the best. And to all of Mike’s prospective employers in Springfield, if you’d rather not receive a cake that says “” in icing, you can also reach him here,, and here,, oh, and here

Although Mike will no longer be employed by ADwërks, in a way, he will always be an ADwërker. Go get ‘em Mike!

– Andrew

The Learning Circle

The Learning Circle Jul 28, 2011

You start out in kindergarten, then finish 13 years later when you graduate high school. For some, you become college freshmen and finish as a college graduates. Fresh out of college, you most likely start out as a newbie at some kind of business or corporation. The circle continues.Circle

The learning process does not necessarily have a definitive beginning and end. And completed schooling certainly is not the end of our education. After graduation, the responsibility of learning becomes our own instead of our professor’s. Because the truth is, there will always be plenty to learn. Once we’ve become comfortable enough in our jobs, to the point where we’re just maintaining the routine, it’s easy to allow ourselves to go with the flow, instead of forcing ourselves to constantly push the threshold of our knowledge, skill sets, and definitions of success. The more we learn, the more we grow, and the better we can be at our jobs (and of course, life). Once we convince ourselves that we have learned enough, or become too arrogant or too proud to admit that we don’t have all the answers, that is when we stop learning. And when we stop learning, we become vulnerable to failure in the always changing world of business and advertising.

This is not to discredit the many intelligent, wise, talented, and highly acclaimed people in business, advertising, and the world in general, but it is a reminder to keep an open mind so we all can continue to learn and improve. That’s the beauty of The Learning Circle – with no true beginning or end, there’s always something new to learn.

– Andrew