July 30th, 2011


So ...

I guess I've pretty much established that if I do a NaBloPoMo, I'll be posting in here (daily), and if I don't ... well, it's down to the book reviews when I get them written.

Frankly, I don't know which one is preferable.

Obviously, doing a NaBloPoMo requires my blocking out a chunk of time from my already over-stressed schedule, and (as you've no doubt noticed), I'm not always ready to roll with "interesting" material, so a lot of "filler" ends up in play.

If this was like "the old days" on L.J., I'd be exploring the darker backwaters of my psyche, but in my seemingly unending search for employment, I'm having to make it look like I'm some sort of "Shiny Happy People", despite all the realities of my existence.

I am so SICK of trying to put on a brave face and make like there's no problems. But, the reality is that I'm likely to be Googled (or more) by any potential employer, and the "conventional wisdom" among the job-search "authorities" is that they'd better not find anything "wrong" with you. You can't be injured. You can't be angry. You can't be desperate. You sure as hell can't be depressed.

Had this job search lasted 6-9 months (I was sure I'd have a job by 11/2009) putting on the happy face was not that much of an issue ... but since it's now running into its 27th month, I'm getting to the point where I don't know who I am ... I know the facade's a lie, but have gotten so used to "not mentioning" the stuff that lurks behind it that the REALITY surprises me when it seeps through the cracks.

Also, the clock keeps moving. While I have the perception of having another 30 functional years ahead of me, I'm suddenly finding myself to be the "oldest person in the room". Yesterday I was off to a breakfast event (Jason Fried, founder of 37Signals, and author of Rework was speaking) of the monthly "CreativeMornings/Chicago" series, which seems mainly targeted to folks at ad agencies, and I think I had a decade on everybody there. Then, last night, I headed down to the Printers' Ball which was packed with 20-somethings. It's hard to get any traction towards finding a role if 90% of the folks involved are disregarding you like you're part of the furniture!

Anyway ... figured I'd take advantage of LiveJournal being functional again (I'm very happy to have "preview" working!) to make a post.

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He asked, while shoving the Nunchuks under his jacket ...

Well, I'm almost done with the haul I made at the last “box sale” over at Open Books, this being one of those. As I've previously noted, I'm no great fan of “business books”, and, frankly, had never read any prior to my '96-'97 job search. I have, however, somewhat gotten into the habit, when I see something that seems “interesting” and has the potential to plug a gap in my general business knowledge.

What Sticks: Why Most Advertising Fails and How to Guarantee Yours Succeeds by Rex Briggs & Greg Stuart is one of those books that teeters on the edge of being a long-format promotional piece for the authors' company, as it presents everything in context of how it did work or would work within their proprietary approach (much like How Companies Win, reviewed here a few months back). The over-all system is called C.O.P. (and, notably, the acronym has never become lucid to me, and I've had to look it up over a dozen times now) for “Communication Optimization Process”.

The key “hook” to the book is here:
There's an old quote in advertising … “I know half my advertising is wasted; I'm just not sure which half.” In our own research based on careful quantitative analysis, we found that the actual waste is about one-third {$112 billion} of the nearly $300 billion advertising spend in the United States. More startling is that 19 percent of advertising fails outright and another 67 percent could achieve significant improvement that would require no additional spending
Obviously, those numbers are attention-getting and the authors show how their system can achieve those improvements. They advocate a series of meetings, first to set up a “shared definition of success”, then cover “scenario planning”, and then get into the specifics of what to do when. These are set up as “the 4Ms”: Motivations, Message, Media, and Maximization. Perhaps the key element is understanding consumer motivations. The authors keep returning to the point that the consumer is looking at the ad in a completely different mid-set than the marketer or agency. The consumer is very likely in a low-attention state and giving only peripheral focus to the ad, this in contrast to the client paying for the ad or the agency creating the ad, where every fine detail is considered at length. On thing that is pointed out here is that it is pretty much impossible for the folks producing the ads to achieve anything near the “innocence” of the consumer's state when approaching the ad, but they offer up ways of analyzing how meaning comes through. Motivation can have a rational, physical, emotional, status, time, and/or “fictional” base, and it's essential that one's messages hit the right motivation buttons.

One of the more fascinating parts of What Sticks are the central chapters of Part III, but they're a bit technical to cover in this review, however they are: “Messaging and the Transformation from Intuition to Science”, “Messaging Across Consumer Touchpoints”, “Media Mechanics: Media Allocations's “Law of Physics””, Media Psychologics: How Meaning is Created Through Media Strategies”, and Media Optimization: Getting More Bang for Your Buck”. This book came out in 2006, and it's interesting how dated much of the discussion of moving parts of marketing budgets over to the Internet sounds just five years down the road … in here it's presented as almost “daring”, and deals a lot with buying big chunks of AOL's real estate! However, they show cases from major marketers who improved the over-all performance (by 14%, for instance) of their campaigns by “tweaking” the impression figures for TV and Print ads and shifting those dollars into Internet buys (in this example, pulling down TV from 6.0 to 5.5 impressions, and print from 2.6 to 2 … where much of that extra was non-productive anyway … which allowed Internet reach to go from 10% to 60%, with the same dollars.

A final thing that caught my eye was the 70/20/10 “allocation” formula, with 70% of your dollars going to the stuff that you know is going to work for you, 20% of your dollars going to “innovative” approaches, and 10% being tagged for “disruptive” innovations. They compare this with Google's famed 20% of staff time being set aside for things that the employees want to work on, outside of their assigned tasks. Obviously, having more of this kind of thinking moving through the corporate world is A Good Thing!

What Sticks appears to still be in print, so is likely to be at your local full-service (those with business books) book monger, The on-line guys, however, have it at about 30% off of cover and the used vendors have “good” copies of the hardcover for as little as a penny (plus shipping, of course). So, if this sounds interesting to you (and some more info is at http://whatsticks.net) you might want to pick up a copy.

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