Category Archives: Uncategorized

Etsy Bans Redskins. Porn, Drugs, and Guns Still OK

Etsy announced today that items containing the Washington Football Team’s name and logo will be banned from the site.

Crap! Where am I going to go to satisfy my craving for offensive, insensitive, and racist crafts, clothing and art?

Luckily, I can just stay on Etsy’s website.

You see, stuff featuring the names and logos of the Braves, Chiefs, and Indians are all available in large quantities!

And more good news! Etsy has other great stuff for me. I can:

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I’m sorry to be sarcastic (and insensitive myself with my words in this post).

But this faux-backlash against the Redskins name is political correctness gone awry.

If we want to be outraged, let’s try to solve real problems like this, this and this.

Hit me up on Twitter to share your thoughts: @reillybri

Six Ways Daft Punk Can Help Your Career

Daft Punk puts out bad ass music. You’re struggling at the office. Here are six ways the robots can help:

Be authentic

Be yourself. And just rock it. That’s what Daft Punk does. With those elaborate disguises and robot personas, they clearly want to avoid all the hype that surrounds being a “star.” They wanted to make it on their musical creativity alone and were confident fans would discover their great sound. We did.

Be a good listener

Those helmets look amazing, but let’s face it, they must be pretty restrictive when it comes to allowing the robots to verbally communicate. Carrying on a conversation with them must be ridiculously difficult. But it seems like their auditory senses are fully functioning. I bet the robots are great listeners. We should all remember to shut up once in a while and just listen.

Surround yourself with great people

You can’t do it all by yourself. And neither can the robots. I’m sure you’ve heard the good stuff on Random Access Memories with Pharrell Williams and Nile Rogers. But in the past they’ve also teamed up with Moby, Paul Oakenfold and Parliament/Funkadelic. Hire and then collaborate with the best and brightest folks in the workplace and everyone will shine.

Put out great content

Like this. And this. And this. Enough said.

Take chances

Don’t get too comfortable and don’t be afraid to take some calculated risks. Daft Punk’s Thomas Banghalter once stated, “We wish people could be influenced by our approach as much as our output. It’s about breaking the rules and doing something different.”

And finally, be interesting, unique, and maybe even a tad enigmatic

Embrace your uniqueness to create a differentiator. That’s what Daft Punk does. Initially the robot costumes were to combat shyness, but Banghalter says, “It became exciting from the audience’s point of view. It’s the idea of being an average guy with some kind of superpower.”

They even created a great background story to strengthen their mystique: ”We did not choose to become robots. There was an accident in our studio. We were working on our sampler, and at exactly 9:09 am on September 9, 1999, it exploded. When we regained consciousness, we discovered that we had become robots.”

At the office today, try to implement some of these simple lessons from Daft Punk and I’m sure you’ll “Get Lucky” with your career.

 

My Top 5 Super Bowl Ads

Here are my top 5. What ads made your list?

Amy Poehler Best Buy

My ribs still are still recovering from the bits Amy Poehler and Tina Fey did at the Golden Globes. I love these girls and Amy is perfect for this ad….”Does it make you uncomfortable when I use the word dongle?”

Hyundai Tailgating

We all need turbo to get around slobbering dogs.

Paul Harvey Farmer Ad for Dodge Ram Trucks

Late broadcaster Paul Harvey’s legendary voice narrates this touching and memorable ad.

Audi Prom Date Bravery

We all want to steal a kiss from the Homecoming Queen and beat up the King, right?

Psy Crackin’ Gangnam Style

Such a fun song, dance and now ad. Bonus: we played Super Bowl Bingo and one of the squares was “Someone during the Super Bowl must say ‘Get Crackin’.”

Why you need a database administrator

Nearly every day, I receive unsolicited direct mail to my home that is addressed to someone other than me: deceased former owners, living former owners, neighbors, nearby businesses, ….the list goes on.

Sometimes the mail looks like it’s meant for me or my family but the sender has spelled our names incorrectly or, occassionally, pulled from thin air a middle name that is simply not ours.

My wife still receives mail with her maiden name shown – we’ve been married for eight years!

Someone at your company should have ownership of the customer and prospect database

  • Don’t blindly create your database and then ignore it. “Set it and forget it” will not work!
  • Hire someone (or multiple people) to “own” the database.
  • Craft data entry policies so there is no question on things such as what gets entered, syntax, etc.
  • Take the time to train everyone who is going to enter data.
  • Reduce and eliminate “rogue” spreadsheets that staff and departments are using as faux databases. There should be only one “source of truth.”
  • Develop procedures that will open the lines of communication among the database administrator, BD, Marketing, Principals, and anyone else on the frontlines. We need to know what the data is before we can capture it.
  • Immediately update the database when changes are brought to your attention. There’s not much worse than getting the information that a primary contact has moved or retired and not taking the time to update the record because you were busy on a deadline.
  • Figure out a method of “scrubbing” your data to ensure it’s as accurate as possible.

Capturing and maintaining accurate data is crucial to the success of any firm. Initiatives such as targeted direct mailings, “warm” calls and emails, and referrals certainly depend on quality information.

What did I miss? Does your firm have a database administator?

 

Be The Leader At The Table, Not The Sucker

courtesy Pokerstarsblog.com

I would bet most of us have heard the phrase, “If you can’t spot the sucker at the table, it’s probably you.”

Here’s a riff on that phrase: “If you can’t spot the leader at the table, be one.”

This week, Pius Heinz of Germany won the annual World Series of Poker in Vegas. The 22-year old pocketed $8.7 million by consistently outplaying his opponents and dictating most of the action at the table. He was the leader!

Have you ever been in a poorly planned meeting, on a boring conference call, or a project/proposal kickoff where there was seemingly no leader or a real agenda? Perhaps the decision-makers you needed were not present. Or it was a weekly or monthly get-together and, with not much new to report, the group was just going through the motions. It’s a real time-suck, right?

Don’t let this happen again. Go “All In” on your next teleconference, proposal kickoff meeting, or other gathering that is begging for some leadership and engagement. Speak up! Identify something (there is always something!) that could use some feedback or discussion among the group that is there. Having trouble with the proposal you’re working on? Need a photographer recommendation? Have an idea to make a decades-old process better?

Run it by the group, create engaging conversations, and reap the winnings!

Sandella’s – A Missed Opportunity on I Street

I know, I know. Restaurants go out of business everyday. But when the resto in question is one that offered delicious, healthy fare and was a great value, it’s very sad.

Take Sandella’s Flatbread Cafe on I Street in Washington. It’s been a go-to establishment on my weekly lunch tour for a while, and I had grown fond of the place since they first opened a few years ago. My better half, the Bitchin’ Dietitian, would approve of my faves: the Mediterranean Quesadilla (400 calories) and Chicken Fajita Quesadilla (510 calories).

Sadly, last week I went to grab a flatbread sandwich and the doors to Sandella’s were locked and it was dark inside. I think this location has just gone out of business, a real shame. I guess I’m not totally shocked since they were in a high-rent location and the place was never really packed with customers. The recession likely didn’t help.

But I can’t help but wonder if Sandella’s on I Street did everything it could to survive.

Lack of Social Media Engagement

 

Men’s Health magazine recently named Washington, DC, America’s most socially networked city. Not Palo Alto (aka Zuckerburgh) but your Nation’s Capital. Woot! Yet in my experience with Sandella’s, they never took the opportunity to engage and interact with these tech savvy customers. Here are some thoughts that may or may not have helped.

Twitter

Though several Sandella’s franchises around the country have fairly active Twitter pages, the main Sandella’s page (@sandellas) is really sad. It has over 100 customers following it, but the page hasn’t been updated since 2009. Actually, Sandella’s has only sent out 3 tweets! I’ve tweeted several times about my delicious lunch at Sandella’s but never had any response at all. It’s hard to imagine customers saying nice things about a business and them not taking the time to discover this easily accessible information and hitting the engage button.

Foursquare

I’m proud to say I was a one-time Foursquare Mayor of Sandella’s on I Street until Zack L. ousted me.  You already know that Foursquare is the super popular geo-social application with which users check-in to local businesses. These check-in’s can be announced on Twitter alerting the entire Twitterverse that customers are in  your store. In general I think businesses have been slow to take advantage of people saying, “I’m here at [insert name of business!]“. For example, could Sandella’s offer perks for the mayor of each of it’s stores? $2 off a sandwich or free chips? And what about special deals for customers who check-in a certain number of times? In social media, I really think offering something as trivial as a bag of chips can create buzz. Crazy, don’t you think?

Yelp

Brown Bag, just around the corner from Sandella’s, offers $5 off lunch for customers who write a restaurant review on the social networking site, Yelp. What’s interesting is Brown Bag wants both postive and negative reviews. They actually care about what their customers think about Brown Bag!  Could Sandella’s have done something similar?

What do you think?

Could these small social media steps have helped Sandella’s on I Street survive? What else do think may have made a difference?

The Life of an Intern (and Extern)

Good help is sure hard to find. But we struck gold in the marketing group last summer with Geneviera and Phil.

As you start your search for summer 2011 interns, look for solid marketing young guns like these two. And when they arrive, make sure you treat them with the same respect and dignity I always offer to our help – err, I mean young professionals.

[thanks for being good sports, Geneviera and Phil!]

The Dreaded “Zombie RFP”

I’m a big fan of AMC’s new zombie series, “The Walking Dead.”  A child of the 80s, I’ve always loved those creepy, horror movies like Friday the 13th, Halloween, and Nightmare on Elm Street.

Here’s something else that’s scary to us marketers in the AEC industry: the dreaded “Zombie RFP.” Ever heard of the Zombie RFP? I hope not. I want credit for that term!

The Zombie RFP is the fringe opportunity that is no go’d early only to come back to life a few days before the due date and make your life a living hell.

Tell me if you’ve encountered this situation: an RFP comes in for a decent project which your firm could likely complete. Perhaps it would look nice on your folks’ resumes and the photographs of the completed work would be pretty cool on your website.

But something is wrong. Actually many things are wrong.

Your Go/No Go analysis indicates that your firm didn’t take the time to visit with the client before the RFP was released, and now it has become apparent that there are two major competitors who have worked with the client in the last five years and have well-developed relationships. In addition, the RFP is asking for 5 relevant, completed projects from the prime with references in a specialized project type for which your firm doesn’t have great depth. Finally a detailed project approach to the scope is required along with a fee, but unfortunately, all of the potential project champions have a heavy project workload and are unavailable to help much. Sound familiar?

This RFP has flunked the Go/No Go test and you, the empowered marketing professional, have put this opportunity out of its misery. Hallelujah. No Go! You can see your hit rate increasing!

You go about your life working on other deadlines for which your firm is well qualified.

But then something incredible and not that uncommon happens. The opportunity comes back to life!

A higher-up who wasn’t involved in the initial No Go decision learns more about the project or is alerted to its existence by a potential teaming partner. It usually goes something like this – “I understand from a friend that even though the client is asking for 5 completed projects from the prime, we can submit unbuilt work or we can show projects from our teaming partners or consultants.” Or how about this – “I’ve been contacted by a potential teaming partner who plays golf with someone in the client’s office, and he has been encouraged to submit a proposal!”

So the RFP is now a Go and you drop everything to put together a pretty solid 11th hour response. Because you’re a professional and that’s what you do.

In my experience, these responses to Zombie RFPs rarely result in a shortlist, much less a win. I would argue that it’s almost better to NOT be shortlisted for an interview so your firm can learn its lesson, save money, and live to fight another day. Even a great interview can’t be counted on to save a flawed pursuit.

What do you think? Have you responded to Zombie RFPs? Have you had any success? What are some good reasons you’ve been given to chase seemingly unwinnable work?

Next week: How to bury the “Zombie RFP” for good.