Garbage in - garbage out



When I was in college (40 years ago) and computers we being programed with punch-cards all the teachers drilled this simple truth onto all of our heads on a regular basis.

I’ve read this research insight about ten times now – wondering what it is that I am missing, or is it that Google has data that demonstrates that people are really this stupid?

199 / 677 (29%) reported that their marketing significantly exceeded top business goal in 2016. What does that really mean?

478 / 677 (71%) did not exceed their top business goal. Looking at the same numbers we can also conclude that . . .  (drum roll please):

71% of marketers agree that Adwords failed them because they did not achieve their "top business goal".

Google’s observation is as upbeat as mine is depressing. But most importantly, both observations should be ignored because there is NO CONTEXT and no insight to help you do a better job with your marketing campaign.


1.  Ignore all data that does not help you improve your business marketing plan for your trading area + business category. Even if it's from a "respected" source like Google. 

2.  When it comes to FREE online research, ask yourself; who does this information really serve? Me or the author.  



Season's Greetings




The end of net neutrality in the U.S.?

I've been in this business almost 40 years now and I've learned a few things along the way. Among them: what goes around comes around, the more things change, the more they remain the same, and that big money talks (and lobbies). Take net neutrality and TV. For the first 25 years of my career, (advertising on) TV, especially Network TV was the gold standard that all of my clients aspired to. Even the little ones. It said; "I've made it".

While TV time was sold based on projected audience estimates (compiled independently by Nielsen Ratings + BBM), the rates charged varied by many factors: who you knew, how long before the airdate you booked, dollar volume contracts, dollar continuity contracts, the business category, the position of the show "on the television dial", the time of day, the position of the commercial in the show, position of the commercial in the advertising cluster and more.

Small ad agencies and regional advertisers (read any company not working out of Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver) could only access the lower quality time blocks that the big city brokerages could NOT sell or give away (as bonuses) to their national + international clients + ad agencies. The same rules applied and still applies to all traditional media that I can think of.

It's why advertising was seen as a scam, rather than a smart business investment, in smaller markets all across Canada because the clients and their agencies could never access the prime media opportunities that I could. 

Well, the (democratic) internet changed all that. It got rid of many of the big city brokerage barriers that continue to plague the traditional media brokerage business model to this day. And it's why Google's (relatively) straight forward + democratic PPC business model is so lucrative.

Intense lobbying by American advertising titans appears to have paid off as it is likely that the U.S. courts will agree to abandon Net Neutrality. If the U.S. does so the online landscape will change dramatically.

Invisibly at first.

Then obliquely.

Then directly.  

The post Net Neutrality world business model will look much more like the current FEDEX shipping and cable TV bundling models.  

I suggest you encourage all of your clients to use multiple audience and customer tracking tools - both on and offline. For my business I use Google, Doteasy, Linked in and other (on and offline) social business networking data to tell me how my current business presence compares to my past business presence.

I suggest you encourage all of your clients to set aside larger advertising budgets (at least 10% greater than inflation) to start with and to look at advertising options that minimize their exposure to N.N. related issues.

Importantly - I suggest you take this issue seriously. 



Money Back Guarantee


Well here’s an novel + very effective way to do custom returns. Provide proof of destruction and you get your money back. I love this solution because I get to destroy something I really don’t want and the company saves return shipping fees as well as restocking and storage costs on unique custom sized items that they probably will never be able to sell. And it’s a VERY distinct + memorable offer. 



Disruptive Thinking


For the last twenty years I’ve been dreading my 2-3 weeks at the family cottage. The 1st time I went there, just after my wife and I got married, I was impressed with the rustic charm of the 30’s era cottage and the setting; a beautiful peninsula in the Lake of The Woods region with classic Canadian Shield topography. What drove me crazy were all the piles of garbage and wood hidden in the bush, and in storage sheds, representing over 50 years of procrastination and “out of sight, out of mind” thinking. 

Every year I’d chip away at these piles taking toxic liquids and useless metal items to the municipal dump, and burning some of the wet, rotten wood that’s so inviting to termites + carpenter ants.

In no time my 2-3 weeks at the cottage were over and we’d pack it in for another season. Year after year I'd leave frustrated by how little I got done; sewing the seeds of frustration for the next year where I’d once again make almost no progress.

Enter the burn barrel – my low-tech miracle.

Two years ago my son brought in a burn barrel like this.

Coupled with four rainy days + nights (which make outdoor fires much safer) this burn barrel enabled me to eliminate years of procrastination. And it changed how I look at my next cottage holiday.

  • I'm getting a second burn barrel.
  • I'm going to hire a few local summer students (with a truck) to clear + remove brush.

There are some classic business lessons here:

  • unconventional thinking is often required to sort out old issues (that others ignore or see as part of the business terrain),
  • not knowing what I didn’t know led to failure + frustration,
  • sharing my frustration, with my Son, led me to define the "problem" and what a "good outcome" would look like,
  • sharing got others, in this case my Son, thinking and problem solving on their own,
  • my Son's solution didn’t look like mine because he has a different background and a different problem solving process,
  • his solution (the burn barrel + student labour) is far better than mine, is on strategy, on time + on budget, and . . . 
  • it’s a great example of why I prefer to work with people who are not at all like me: age, gender, ethnicity, religion, blah, blah, blah because two or more heads really are better than one. Especially if they’re all different and just a wee bit schizophrenic.