Quality, Quantity and Objective.

Apple share

This data is a wonderful case study for those of us who believe in brand leadership. At the top of the chart you can see that Android shipped far more OS in 2012 and 2013 than Apple did. In the middle you can see Android’s market share increase – they are kind of numbers any MBA + MBO Market Manager would kiss a lot of ass for.

Now look at the third and fourth blocks of data. Apple’s OS brought in more than ½ of last quarter’s profits – and almost four time as high a gross per OS. Android has been giving their open source operating system away to grow market share. And so they have. Not surprisingly China is now full of very low cost phones running various versions of Android.

Google googled the future, saw a mobile world and wants to manage all the mobile touch-points so it can cash in on them with mobile ads. With 80% mobile platform share linked to Google Anaytics, the plan looks brilliant. But China and other low cost players don’t see Google’s big picture, just the immediate benefit: a very cheap and cheerful OS to run their low end phones. So the % of devices in the hands of brand and and people interested in online advertising is going to be a MUCH smaller number – but a number Google can cash in on for life.

On the other had there is Apple.

Apple is committed to the design, development and sale of consumer electronics, computer software and personal computers.

They have taken the high road and won’t sell its OS to anyone for any price.

Their profit per OS is much higher – and the user profile of their customers is enviable.

In October or 2013 ad buying firm Nanigans released a study based on 200 billion Facebook ads that ran on Android and iOS devices.

Facebook ads that ran on Apple’s platform were 1,790% more profitable than those that ran on Android.

The tactical and strategic lessons here are pretty interesting ones.

There are no right or wrong answers here, and no top ten best practices. Until you have a clear, well articulated company vision that you + your key stakeholders rally around, taking the high road or the mass appeal road makes no sense because you can’t justify the path decision.


Contingency Planning


The VAST majority of (younger) clients that I have worked with over the last 35 years do not understand contingency planning. They set aside some money for “plan B” but never sort out what kind of eventualities they may have to address in scenario B, C, D, E – or F for that matter.

After all – “I don’t’ know what I don’t know. And I’m sure as hell not going to tell anyone that I don’t know because there are 50 people lined up for my job who will swear that they really do know!”

Time and money are two other popular reasons why marcom contingency plans are becoming rare. Everyone wants a fast, cheap plan with no down-side risk.

Good-luck with that.

If you want to build a decent contingency plan . . . 

  • Start by talking to those who sell and deliver your products and services to ensure you really understand your intellectual + economic business terrain.
  • While time, money and effort will dictate that you focus on the “path of least resistance (and quickest ROI”, what are the other paths are there to market?
  • Evaluate the other paths by key metrics like time, effort and risk. Example: moving oil by ship, pipe, airplane, truck or rail.
  • Build a plan that enables you to change your tactics quickly but strategically. Avoid the chaos that comes with short-sighted planning.
  • Consider A LOT of options. You can only do that by working with people who have been there, and have done that before. For most brands the intellectual terrain changes very slowly, the economic terrain changes faster and the media channels change fastest.
    • For example: people are as risk averse today as they were 20 years ago.
    • International trade is pushing profit margins down while global social reform is pushing labour costs up.
    • Today's social media channels can be used for peer reviews to reduce the personal risk of new product or service trial.

Here's an interesting personal example. My parents lost everything after WWII and immigrated to Canada in 1954 with very few possessions. In 1965 they began touring Canada and the U.S. by car. This is my dad's checklist as it was originally written in the 1960’s and then used for over 40 years. This is what a good contingency plan looks like.

Passport, Glasses, Sunglasses, Street-map, Pad, Pencil, Camera, Binoculars, Radio, Calculator, Compass, Flashlight, Magnifying glass, Canadian and American money, Toiletries, Sewing kit, Towel, Suspenders, Socks, Kleenex, Tobacco, Pipe, Antibiotic cream, Hand cream, Long pants, Shirts, Pullover, Windbreaker, Underwear, Bathing suit, Goggles, Rainwear, Shoes, Hat, Air-mattress, Blankets, Ground-sheet, Alcohol Stove, Thermos, Pots, Auto-repair tools, Motor oil, Top oil, Tire pressure 30 PSI, Gas, Bucket, Sponge, Cooler, Flippers, Bible, Books, Pendulum, Suit-case, Sun-hat, Pocket-knife, Pillow, Car Wax, Vitamins.


Seizing defeat from the jaws of victory

Here's yet another example of how to ruin your business one sale at a time.

The other day I was looking to replace a wrist brace I bought at Diamond Athletics in Winnipeg four years ago. Since I now live in Toronto – I thought “why not buy it here?!”

Here’s what happened:

It took me 05 seconds to find the brand name on the wrist brace.

  • I Googled “Med Spec” and found it in a minute.
  • The online store suggested they only ship this U.S. $24.95 with-in the U.S.
  • I called the CSR in Charlotte N.C. who referred me to their Canadian distributor in Quebec.
  • The CSR in Quebec didn’t know of any retail stores that sold the product in Toronto but promised to call me back in an hour. She didn’t.
  • I called back the next day. A non-CSR answered this time, apologized for the other CSR’s lack of responsiveness, put me on hold and tried to find contacts for me. They have no retail distributor list online. I offered to build them a site – “no thanks”. They gave me FOUR names and numbers.
  • The first two retailers I called had not heard of Med Spec + the third did not carry their products. The fourth said they could order anything I wanted, needed to approve the order through their physiotherapist, would charge tax if the order was without a “prescription” would not if I had one. The fourth could not tell me and refused to estimate how long it might take to order the device. I could leave my name and number and join the line in the waiting area.
  • So I looked up Diamond Athletics, found my wrist guard on line with the help of a bright, engaged and knowledgeable CSR who addressed any and all of my questions. The product was in stock and would be at my house by Friday. I gladly paid C$45 plus $15 for shipping.
  • I called back store #4. “Hi can you hold please?” “No I can’t” I said. “I’m calling to cancel my order. Bye.”
  • I then called Charlotte N.C. and told them my story – auto pilot CRS putting in time.

So much for shopping local.

If you’re ever in Winnipeg and need support – check out diamondathletics.com


A Year In Review

Dear all,

As the year draws to a close I’m reflecting on where I’ve been, what I’ve done what I want to do next and how. The short answers are as follows:

  • I’ve been on an amazing +35 year rollercoaster ride.
  • I experienced some amazing + some rally shitty stuff along the way.
  • I want to keep going as a mentor - maybe a guru.
  • I’d like to share and give more than I currently do.

In hindsight, most of my regrets are related to two things:

1. Not listening to my elders because I was young and they were old. I didn’t understand that they had gone through the same kind of stuff that I was going through now – or worse. But because their (past) experience didn’t LOOK exactly like my (current) situation – I discounted or dismissed their lessons altogether.

2. Not having someone I trusted and could go to for guidance in my teens and twenties. The reason I’ve chosen to be a mentor is that a mentor (that you can trust) can make a big difference right now and a world of difference by the time you’re my age (58). You’ll have to trust me on that, or save this note for about 30 years.

The enclosed article by Jason Nazer is food for thought as 2013 draws to a close.

Remember: “you are what you think and most consistently do.”

“I started Docstoc in my 20’s, made the cover of one of those cliché “20 Under 20” lists, and today I employ an amazing group of 20-something’s. Call me a curmudgeon, but at 34, how I came up seems so different from what this millennial generation expects. I made a lot of mistakes along the way, and I see this generation making their own. In response, here are my 20 Things 20-Year-Olds Don’t Get.

1. Time is Not a Limitless Commodity

I so rarely find young professionals that have a heightened sense of urgency to get to the next level. In our 20s we think we have all the time in the world to A) figure it out and B) get what we want. Time is the only treasure we start off with in abundance, and can never get back. Make the most of the opportunities you have today, because there will be a time when you have no more of it.

2. You’re Talented, But Talent is Overrated

Congratulations, you may be the most capable, creative, knowledgeable & multi-tasking generation yet. As my father says, “I’ll Give You a Shit Medal.” Unrefined raw materials (no matter how valuable) are simply wasted potential. There’s no prize for talent, just results. Even the most seemingly gifted folks methodically and painfully worked their way to success.

3. We’re More Productive in the Morning

During my first 2 years at Docstoc (while I was still in my 20’s) I prided myself on staying at the office until 3am on a regular basis. I thought I got so much work done in those hours long after everyone else was gone. But in retrospect I got more menial, task-based items done, not the more complicated strategic planning, phone calls or meetings that needed to happen during business hours. Now I stress an office-wide early start time because I know, for the most part, we’re more productive as a team in those early hours of the day.

4. Social Media is Not a Career

These job titles won’t exist in 5 years. Social media is simply a function of marketing; it helps support branding, ROI or both. Social media is a means to get more awareness, more users or more revenue. It’s not an end in itself. I’d strongly caution against pegging your career trajectory solely to a social media job title.

5. Pick Up the Phone

Stop hiding behind your computer. Business gets done on the phone and in person. It should be your first instinct, not last, to talk to a real person and source business opportunities. And when the Internet goes down, stop looking so befuddled and don’t ask to go home. Don’t be a pansy, pick up the phone.

6. Be the First In & Last to Leave

I give this advice to everyone starting a new job or still in the formative stages of their professional career. You have more ground to make up than everyone else around you, and you do have something to prove. There’s only one sure-fire way to get ahead, and that’s to work harder than all of your peers.

7. Don’t Wait to Be Told What to Do

You can’t have a sense of entitlement without a sense of responsibility. You’ll never get ahead by waiting for someone to tell you what to do. Saying “nobody asked me to do this” is a guaranteed recipe for failure. Err on the side of doing too much, not too little.

8. Take Responsibility for Your Mistakes

You should be making lots of mistakes when you’re early on in your career. But you shouldn’t be defensive about errors in judgment or execution. Stop trying to justify your fuck-ups. You’re only going to grow by embracing the lessons learned from your mistakes, and committing to learn from those experiences.

9. You Should Be Getting Your Butt Kicked

Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada” would be the most valuable boss you could possibly have. This is the most impressionable, malleable and formative stage of your professional career. Working for someone that demands excellence and pushes your limits every day will build the most solid foundation for your ongoing professional success.

10. A New Job a Year Isn’t a Good Thing

1-year stints don’t tell me that you’re so talented that you keep outgrowing your company. It tells me that you don’t have the discipline to see your own learning curve through to completion. It takes about 2-3 years to master any new critical skill, give yourself at least that much time before you jump ship. Otherwise your resume reads as a series of red flags on why not to be hired.

11. People Matter More Than Perks

It’s so trendy to pick the company that offers the most flex time, unlimited meals, company massages, game rooms and team outings. Those should all matter, but not as much as the character of your founders and managers. Great leaders will mentor you and will be a loyal source of employment long after you’ve left. Make a conscious bet on the folks you’re going to work for and your commitment to them will pay off much more than those fluffy perks.

12. Map Effort to Your Professional Gain

You’re going to be asked to do things you don’t like to do. Keep your eye on the prize. Connect what you’re doing today, with where you want to be tomorrow. That should be all the incentive you need. If you can’t map your future success to your current responsibilities, then it’s time to find a new opportunity.

13. Speak Up, Not (act) Out

We’re raising a generation of shit talkers. In your workplace this is a cancer. If you have issues with management, culture or your role & responsibilities, SPEAK UP. Don’t take those complaints and trash-talk the company or co-workers on lunch breaks and anonymous chat boards. If you can effectively communicate what needs to be improved, you have the ability to shape your surroundings and professional destiny.

14. You HAVE to Build Your Technical Chops

Adding “Proficient in Microsoft Office” at the bottom of your resume under Skills, is not going to cut it anymore. I immediately give preference to candidates who are ninjas in: Photoshop, HTML/CSS, iOS, WordPress, Adwords, MySQL, Balsamiq, advanced Excel, Final Cut Pro – regardless of their job position. If you plan to stay gainfully employed, you better complement that humanities degree with some applicable technical chops.

15. Both the Size and Quality of Your Network Matter

It’s who you know more than what you know, that gets you ahead in business. Knowing a small group of folks very well, or a huge smattering of contacts superficially, just won’t cut it. Meet and stay connected to lots of folks, and invest your time developing as many of those relationships as possible.

16. You Need At Least 3 Professional Mentors

The most guaranteed path to success is to emulate those who’ve achieved what you seek. You should always have at least 3 people you call mentors who are where you want to be. Their free guidance and counsel will be the most priceless gift you can receive.

17. Pick An Idol & Act As If”

You may not know what to do, but your professional idol does. I often coach my employees to pick the businessperson they most admire, and act “as if.” If you were (fill in the blank) how would he or she carry themselves, make decisions, organize his/her day, accomplish goals? You’ve got to fake it until you make it, so it’s better to fake it as the most accomplished person you could imagine.

18. Read More Books, Fewer Tweets/Texts

Your generation consumes information in headlines and 140 characters: all breadth and no depth. Creativity, thoughtfulness and thinking skills are freed when you’re forced to read a full book cover to cover. All the keys to your future success, lay in the past experience of others. Make sure to read a book a month (fiction or non-fiction) and your career will blossom.

19. Spend 25% Less Than You Make

When your material needs meet or exceed your income, you’re sabotaging your ability to really make it big. Don’t shackle yourself with golden handcuffs (a fancy car or an expensive apartment). Be willing and able to take 20% less in the short term, if it could mean 200% more earning potential. You’re nothing more than penny wise and pound-foolish if you pass up an amazing new career opportunity to keep an extra little bit of income. No matter how much money you make, spend 25% less to support your life. It’s a guaranteed formula to be less stressed and to always have the flexibility to pursue your dreams.

20. Your Reputation is Priceless, Don’t Damage It

Over time, your reputation is the most valuable currency you have in business. It’s the invisible key that either opens or closes doors of professional opportunity. Especially in an age where everything is forever recorded and accessible, your reputation has to be guarded like the most sacred treasure. It’s the one item that once lost, you can never get back


Television for an online generation



Globe + Mail, ROB, Dec 2, 2013 Edition, Page B11

By Suzanne Vranica

Television proves its marketing appeal, even for an online generation

Well boys + girls; here’s an article that every “digital agency manager” and “digital brand manager” should tattoo to their right forearm as it reiterates what all great agency practitioners are taught, challenge, integrate into their understanding of communications and then practice + preach with religious zeal.

  1. Great multi-media campaigns work much better than mono-media campaigns do because they extend message reach, message frequency and importantly, they dramatically broaden the terrain + context in which the message can be presented and then absorbed.
  2. An online campaign made up of Adwords, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Linked in (for example) is NOT a multi-media campaign. It’s a mono-media campaign. Period.

This argument is consistently misunderstood and misinterpreted by almost all of today’s brand managers and their well-meaning agencies for a wide variety of reasons that I won’t go into today.

The theme picture for this blog entry is a surfer riding a big wave.

When I started in advertising over 35 years ago I saw a lot of people worshipping the then big idea: a new computer program that could optimize magazine, radio or TV campaign schedule “reach or frequency” performance. (But you still had to calculate the multi-media R/f estimates manually or with a calculator).

Only a few people really understood this stuff and could use it to their advantage – like this surfer does. Others were awed by it – or drowned in the reams of data. Sound familiar?

Over the years I’ve seen many big breaks – a few great riders – and lots and lots of short-sighted victims on the agency and client sides that got sucked into the wave and lost their shirt and pants.

Watching this digital wave – that has been building for the last 15 years – I see the same pattern, except that most of those with meaningful off-line experience have moved on to make room for those new to the “digital space”. People who behave as though this is the last frontier.

The final wave.

Forget what Google wants you to believe and ask yourself (as a free independent thinker) "what will advertising in the year 2049 look like?"