Blog

A Good Offer Squandered

Direct Marketing
Monday, March 22, 2004 – Denny, our production artist, has performed yeoman’s duty in helping me prepare for my appearance next week at the 18th Annual New England Meetings Industry Conference and Exposition in Boston. He’s scanned dozens of direct mail packages for me, each one illustrating one of the points I’ll be making in my presentation, “The Shoestring Secrets of Well-Heeled Direct Marketers.” It’s a thankless job, all this R&D leading up to a speaking gig -- but the extra effort now makes everything that much easier come show time. A couple of the packages I’ll be sharing with my audience speak to the importance of your mailing list -- that is, a bad offer to a good list is better than a good offer to a bad list.…
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The School of “Emo” Copywriting

Copywriting, Direct Marketing
Thursday, March 18, 2004 – In the latest edition of the I-Copywriting Digest, “moderator” Nick Usborne suggested that online marketers are becoming less and less personal online. “Why,” he asked, “are we retreating into that familiar territory of corporate-speak, when we would do better to step forward and touch our readers one by one?” I must say his commentary struck a chord with me, as I’ve always been partial to the school of "emo" copywriting. Show some enthusiasm. Express your emotions. Don’t be afraid to open up to your audience and connect with them personally. They’ll respect you for it. And respond affirmatively. That’s what I say. And that’s what I did say -- for the most part -- in a letter I wrote back to Nick (agreeing with him…
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The Sleepless Spring Tour

Miscellaneous
Monday, March 15, 2004 – Howard Dean had the Sleepless Summer Tour. We have the Sleepless Spring Tour. At least, that’s how I’m envisioning -- and referring to -- the next several months. You could say that Yellowfin is like a candidate running for office, with a voice -- a reason d’etre -- just begging to be heard by the largest possible coalition. I would say that Yellowfin, as a brand, is a best-kept secret -- when it ought to be top-of-mind. But we know better than to just clutch at straws, articulating our platform for anyone within hearing distance. We’re not going to be accused of “interrupting jaundiced strangers,” the fundamentally flawed marketing model that Seth Godin refers to in his groundbreaking book, Purple Cow. We’re going to establish…
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Esprit de Corps

Blogging
Wednesday, March 10, 2004 – Included among the list of stops in my career was a brief stint at a dot-com, where it was all about the Web, all the time. We were a so-called “pure play,” an organization whose business model is grounded solely in the online world. Well, you know the rest of the story (e.g., the company went belly-up). But while our obituary was only in the draft stages I was like a sponge to water, soaking up all I possibly could about how to use the Web to build relationships and spur interactivity. That was then. Now I’m looking at an opportunity to use those lessons learned at the dot-com to help us here at Yellowfin garner some attention in the marketplace. A Fine Kettle of…
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True Believers

Marketing, Miscellaneous
Monday, March 8, 2004 – The similarities between politics and entrepreneurialism have always intrigued me, so it only makes sense that I found a Howard Dean documentary (True Believers: Life Inside the Dean Campaign) on CNN last night so engrossing. It was right up my alley. Of course, it was disillusioning to see the Dean campaign crash so hideously, but there’s no question it struck a chord with many Americans, thanks in large part to the indefatigable Joe Trippi, Dean’s campaign manager and the central character in True Believers. I don’t know what Joe has more of, energy or insight, but his supply of both appears infinite (even though his guy went down in flames). No wonder Dean was able to build an online community of some 600,000 constituents (including…
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Two Crocodiles Intertwined

Miscellaneous
Friday, March 5, 2004 – The last three days I have had my nose to the grindstone, working at a feverish pace with Sarah and one of our freelancers to put together several different fundraising packages, all for schools, each under a tight deadline. The good news is that we are only at the rough stage on these projects, so we don’t have to flesh out every single detail. But the due dates still loom nonetheless. At the same time, we’re also working on a catchy, new ad campaign for Yellowfin, using the concept of fish (surprise, surprise) as a recurring theme. And finally, I’m working on an article about direct marketing for one of our suppliers. They called the other day and asked me to write something for their…
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Bob, Mike and George

Miscellaneous
Tuesday, March 2, 2004 – When I had my own business, Cargill Creative, in the early ‘90s, I was a very active member of the New England Direct Marketing Association. I enjoyed the camaraderie of the meetings -- the deep, lasting friendships that were formed, the vast network that was built -- so much so that for ten straight years my attendance was nearly perfect. After my term as president in 1999-2000, however, the NEDMA experience became almost anticlimactic for me, and my participation in association activities slipped precipitously. I’ve still shown up for the annual awards show and conference, but like a fair weather friend who always seems to have something better to do, I’ve only made it to a couple of regular meetings each year. My bad. Tonight,…
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Purple Ketchup

Miscellaneous
Monday, March 1, 2004 – We have our first all-hands-on-deck staff meeting this afternoon, at which I plan to resurrect my story about green and purple ketchup. I’ve told this story on a number of different occasions in the past, whenever I want to make a point about creativity and change. I’ll ask my audience to put themselves in the shoes of H.J. Heinz executives the first time someone suggested the company offer its traditional red ketchup in both “Blastin’ Green” and “Funky Purple.” Of course, such a notion must have seemed farfetched, almost foolish, at the time. But just a few years later, young, impressionable children -- including my own two boys, Scott and Ben -- couldn’t get enough of these two new shades of the condiment. Now I’m…
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A Very Good Thing

Advertising
Thursday, February 26, 2004 – In almost every issue of ADWEEK, I come across an article or two that’s particularly relevant to my career. Sure, the magazine doesn’t feature as much local news as it used to back in the day, but it’s still a must read in my book. For instance, a column written by Tony DeGregorio about what it’s like to go small after a career at the big agencies caught my eye this afternoon. This guy’s further down the road in his career than me -- I probably have at least another two decades left in the tank! -- but his take on the feeling of relative emancipation that comes with working at a small shop certainly resonated with me. Tony claims infrastructure is highly overrated, and…
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