This is possibly my favorite product. Ever.
Not because it solves any particular problem. Not because it's better in any imaginable way.
Just because they made it. And people buy it. My mother-in-law got this one last night.
Compared to four-blade razors, or heck, 24-blade razors, the Luminere 3-Position Candle Lighter is an act of unmitigated marketing chutzpah. Here's the back package copy: "Breakthrough Innovation in Candle Lighting! Unique 3 position wand is flexible enough to light all your candles - even those with hard to reach wicks."
So, now, you can forget about all the tedious wrist-bending you had to do with the old, outmoded style of lighter. Brilliant.
People have what they need. They buy what they want.
You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.
Wayne Gretzky said that.
I found it in The Hip Pocket Guide to Offbeat Wisdom, possibly one of the better quote books I've seen in a long time. Admittedly, it's written/compiled by a friend of a friend. I don't know William Sauer, the author, but my buddy tells me he's a good guy. But that's not why I like the Hip Pocket guide. Nor do I think it's a better collection of quotes because of its depth, or its ability to cross-reference, or search.
I think it's better because it's arranged so that the quotes play off each other, and feed one another. It's a fun read.
So, in a world where almost any quote on any subject can be instantly called to your screen in seconds, with tons of cross-reference links, and "like" quotes, and more by the same guy, and all that -- why do we need a printed book with, arguably, fewer quotes than any given quote website?
Answer: It's not about need. It's about want.
The fact that it's arranged to be a fun read makes us want it.
Truth is, we need very little. We buy what we want. And when you can find a way to serve up what people want, in a product, or a message about a product, you have a shot.
So... take it.
Here's the pdf I hope all my clients, prospects, partners, employees, prospective employees, and friends will read. For my competitors - don't worry about it - you'll be fine without it.
Here's where I found it:
Adrants � Bernbach's VW Campaign Killed Advertising, Ads A Commodity.
Writing a chapter (pdf) for Nancy Vonk and Janet Kestin's book Pick Me, U.K. creative Brian Millar blames Bill Bernbach's Volkswagen campaign for forty years of advertising sameness. Perhaps that it a bit of a stretch but his piece does contain some good commentary on how insights can lead to great creative. He must have read Phil Dusenberry's Then We Set His Hair on Fire.
If you don't know already,Squidoo.com is Seth Godin's new baby. It's cool. Marketing on a micro level - with the ultra-macro of the internet added for good measure. The idea is: Everybody's an expert on something. So you create a page of blurby info-bites, links, lists, whatever - about whatever it is you're an expert in. Designed to be highly searchable, it's a snapshot that points to your site, or your blog, or wherever you want it to point.
I was a Beta tester. We've been allowed to blog about this for days, but I'm just getting around to it. I built two lenses. The first one I built points to this blog, and to the Tangelo Ideas website, and offers just a taste of how we think differently. It's for people who haven't found us yet. Find it here.
The second one, though, is a bit of an experiment for me, as well. It's about citrus fruit -- different kinds of fruit, where to get it, why you should buy Florida fruit, and has recipes you can download, and books you can order. The experiment is to see if it drives anyone to one of two fruit shippers I highlight in the lens -- one with an 800 number, the other with a website. I know them both well, so they'll let me know if their post-Christmas traffic increases. We'll see. Find my citrus lens here.
There's an interesting post on Chris Anderson's Long Tail Blog about the Google guys talking to the Wall Street guys in language they don't understand. It clearly illustrates the problems you run into when trying to explain a different approach to communication with customers to many clients. Heck, to many agencies, for that matter.
The fact that you're reading a blog right now means you're more wired than most. I know that sounds hard to believe, and probably isn't technically true, in the strictest sense. But being wired isn't just about having the appliance. It's about knowing how to use it, and using it. Fewer people than you think actually do that well. They will, eventually.
The Long Tail is important. Chris Anderson is smart. If you haven't read it, read it. If you've read it, read it again.
The Long Tail is complex, but real. One aspect of the Long Tail is the thing that makes iTunes and Amazon show you suggestions for songs or books, or whatever, based upon the stuff in your shopping cart. There's a lot more to it, of course, but the whole "other people who bought this, also bought..." is a concept I want some of my clients to understand. So I have to explain it in a way that they get it - immediately.
It's not that hard, really: Do you want fries with that? Multiplied by a billion. And every fry order is different.
Old concept + new delivery method = new opportunity.
Related post: A barn roof, a tractor hat, and a surfboard t-shirt.
I read a lot of research. A lot. I have an ongoing working relationship with a very plugged-in research consultant, and one of the key players in Tangelo Ideas has roots in research. I get buckets of information on any given subject with two phone calls.
All agencies absorb research of all kinds. When you're creating stuff for people who aren't exactly like you (which is always), research is imperative. I don't mean you have to run out and do mall intercepts or focus groups (I hate both). I mean, you have to do your homework. Problem is, just reading about stuff is almost never enough.
Think about it. You absorbed everything ever printed (or it seemed like it) about advertising and marketing before you started advertising and marketing. And day one you probably learned, as most people do, that you didn't know boo.
So, how come agencies think they can read a brief, or a description, or even several, and understand perfectly the mindset of a group of people who are different from them?
Like I said, I read a lot of research. A good chunk of it, lately, is about how wired youth and young adults use the technology they have in their hands. It's good information. I thought I had a pretty good picture. Then I hired Marlese. She's a fairly typical 17 year old, who needed work after school, and started helping my wife around the house. Because she's pretty smart, likes computers, photography and media, and wanted to learn more, I started using her occasionally as a go-fer/production assistant. The thing about Marlese is her Sidekick. For anyone over 30, it's a Blackberry, basically, but cooler. Observing Marlese interacting with friends via the Sidekick is easy. Just observe Marlese. It never leaves her grasp. She's a total multitasker: perfectly capable of getting anything done, without missing a beat in the ongoing conversations/game-playing/web-browsing/text-chatting world she has in her hands.
I knew a lot about kids and the Sidekick, and other forms of text messaging, etc., before I hired Marlese. Because I've read reams of research, and trend analysis, and worked on stuff where that knowledge has come into play. But watching it happen in real time has taught me stuff I didn't read about. Lots of stuff I didn't read about. Stuff that would be important for anyone who wanted to sell something to Marlese - on her Sidekick, for her Sidekick, or not. I know Marlese is not a microcosm for every 17 year old. But she's in no way atypical. Which brings me to this:
Reading about it is important. Seeing it in action is always better. Admittedly, it's not always possible. But it's always better.
So far, so good. Tangelo Ideas is fun.
Some of my longtime friends in the industry, and some of my clients (and certainly my reps) have asked me why, just why, I wanted to open an agency. After all, directing is fun, and the pay's not shabby. An agency will be a ton of work. An agency will be hard.
Yeah. And fun.
The first reason Tangelo Ideas had to exist: Nobody was going to do everything I wrote about in Use A Stick. But somebody had to.
The second reason: read The Universal Jerk, a post I wrote about a month ago.
But the third, and probably most important, reason is: Fun.
I have fun when I'm thinking differently than anyone else. I have fun when I'm making advertising I'm proud of, and that sells lots of stuff for my clients. And - no surprise here - the thinking differently part leads to the rest of it. As a director, you get to do that sometimes. But not all the time. Sometimes you're just cleaning up messes. Sometimes you see things that could be so much stronger - but won't, because, ultimately, it's somebody else's baby. Unfortunately, it all too often looks just like all the other babies out there, no matter what you do.
I'm no Pollyanna. I've been here before. I know things can, and will, get ugly from time to time. But it seems Tangelo Ideas has a different enough story to tell, that the kinds of clients we want to listen... want to listen. They want some of the new thinking we're bringing to the table. That's encouraging. Encouraging is fun.
Plenty of people have told me that clients don't want new thinking. They just want to do what they're doing. Truth is, we don't want those clients. The real truth is, the people we really want to work with aren't "clients" at all. They're revolutionaries. Big scale, little scale - doesn't matter. The ideas matter.
And that's what's so fun.
The picture on the left is my mother, in 1928. On the right is my daughter, last year. A lot of people tell me they see the resemblance. Discounting my mom's freckles and red hair, I guess I do, too.
Family resemblances are a good thing. For families. But for agencies, it can get you into trouble. When the stuff you create for your boat manufacturer client starts to look or sound or feel just like the stuff you're making for that software startup, oh, and the athletic-shoe retailer, and maybe the fast-food restaurant, too; you have to ask: Are you doing what speaks best to the audience? What's best for the client? Or are you doing what you personally think is cool? Worse yet, are you doing what the competition is doing, too?
There's too much stuff out there. Different is the only thing that gets noticed. And different is different in every environment, every time.
Seth nails it. That thing about "structure" in the last paragraph is exactly why we're structured the way we are. Differently.
Seth's Blog: The needle, the vise... and the baby rattle.
Notice in the end, he says "most" agencies. Yesterday we presented thoughts to a potential new client. They included ways to change the strategy, the approach, and yes, even the product. And they included extreme targeting for stuff most people would still call advertising.
I guess they liked it. They invited us back.