Dumb and Ugly Edition

Friends and colleagues,

I’m not that bright. But what I lack in intelligence I make up for with charm and good looks, right? Well, no; I’m lacking there too (thanks mom and dad…).

What I am good at is compensating for my many weaknesses and learning from mistakes, mine and others. Today’s note chronicles some of the most common gaffes our team has made and seen. I hope you smarter, more attractive folks will benefit. Here we go:

  1. Not doing your research and not testing. Yes, research and test grid design can be time-consuming and expensive. And those peanut M&Ms at the focus group facility in Des Moines aren’t doing your figure any good. But you know what’s even more costly? (albeit less tasty) Failing – or succeeding! – and not knowing why. Today’s business and marketing leaders don’t want to hear about your gut feeling. Win, lose or draw, they want data, metrics, facts. To quote renowned marketer Larry T. Cable Guy: “get ‘er dun.”
  2. Getting the branding right and the communication wrong. Sometimes we spend so much time worrying about logo clearances, color palettes, and tonal guidelines that we forget the primary objective of our work is to engage and persuade our target customers. Does this mean we should ignore the brand book? Heck to the no, but it does mean we shouldn’t let these prescriptions dictate creative choices.
  3. Quantity over quality. Like the manic chase for “eyeballs” a few years ago, the current push for “likes” and lots of them is keeping a lot of Type A marketers awake at night. Anyone can promise a personal visit from Mr. Justin Bieber and land hundreds of thousands of Twittering, teenaged Facebooks fans, but at what cost and with what benefit? Unless these huge numbers represent your customer base and translate into measurable top and bottom line gains, you’re getting bigger, yes, but not better.
  4. Using an elephant gun when all you need is a pea-shooter. There is an odd tendency to use broadcast media, i.e., TV, radio, OOH, etc., when a well conceived direct response campaign will get you where you need to be. Hey, I get it. The oxymoronically named “measured media” are sexier, more fun (sometimes…) and gross rating points are fun to accumulate. But if all you needed to do was add 500 new customers in southeastern states, you don’t need big (read: expensive) guns.
  5. Believing you know better than your customer. Unless you’re Apple or Facebook you can’t dictate what your customers need and want. Yet so many of us become so enamored of our own ideas that we assume our customers and clients will follow our lead, even if demographically, psychographically, geographically and otherwise they are different. You’re probably saying “I don’t do that Bower,” but I bet you a pack of Beef Jerky that, like us, you do.
  6. Wearing paisley. Ever. Enough said, no?

What else is new, you ask? Ok, I know you didn’t ask, but come on, we’re friends. And colleagues. So bear with me here:

  • For the 7th straight year (I see you Lance Armstrong) we’ve been named a top agency by B-to-B Magazine and Advertising Age. Check it: 7th time!
  • We’re proud to welcome new clients, Ivy league stalwart, Columbia University, and cloud computing innovator, Box.com
  • Our presence on the west coast is growing. Just a teaser for now, but look for specifics soon.
  • Our new site is up. After years of cobblers’ kid excuses, we’ve refreshed our look and feel and messaging. Take a look at www.crossbowgroup.com and let us know what you like and what you don’t.

That’s all for now. Be well folks. And please keep in touch.


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