Picture This?


Did you see the recent news announcement about Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg starting to put her brand on stock photos? You might be thinking “sheesh must everything be branded?” In this case I say “thank you Sheryl!”

Working businesswoman

If you haven’t looked for stock photography of women in a while, you might be surprised that there are very few images of women in business situations, politics, leadership or other “non mommie” images. There are also precious few images of older woman in any of the above.

Try this: do a Google image search for “professional women over 40” and you get mostly celebrities, with the first row being all Jane Fonda. But these celebrity images are faces, beautiful ones yes, but they are not DOING anything. What kind of message are we sending the next generation of women?

The photo in this blog is an example of what I got when I asked iStock (owned by Getty Images) for “professional women” – oh my.

Sandberg, and let’s admit Facebook is all about images, is in a position to know that stock images make up most of the advertising, sales materials, websites and yes Facebook content.

The success of her book “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead” has really touched a nerve but maybe it also uncovered a lack of images she could include in her book too. This photography branding is being managed by her nonprofit LeanIn.org.

She has partnered with Getty Images, which is a main source of stock photography and they claim to have 2.4 million customers, many in marketing I would guess, including me.

What does your marketing depict? Maybe it is time to allocate some of your 2014 budget to gather more relevant photography of real people using your product or service – it will surely resonate with your consumers and make you stand away from the stock images of yesterday!

As I watch the Winter Olympics and see records fall and women enter the ranks of men-only sports (women’s hockey?) I know we are moving in a positive direction – but when we change the visual images with ones that are appropriate and empowering, well we will all have leaned in the right direction. And that direction is not lying down!

If An Oscar-Worthy Film Showed to Empty Theaters … Would It Win An Award?


Why doesn’t the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences have an Academy Award for film marketing? The amount of expertise, and money, that goes into a film extends right to the hearts and minds of the ticket buying public. So what does it take for a film to fill seats or be awash in Netflix orders for their production?Oscar

Budgets for marketing vary but an industry average is that it costs half as much to promote a film as to produce one. So if a film cost $100 million to make, the budget will have an additional $50 million for marketing.

Data shows that the average film makes as much as 50% of its money in the very first week. Not much room for error here!

After a great story, production and believable actors, here is what it takes:

A marketing plan that is heavy on the front end but has phases that take the message worldwide

- Media materials, stories and sound bites that are specifically crafted for outlets from Good Morning America, to Twitter’s 140 characters. Longer video for YouTube, snippets for Facebook and translation into dozens of foreign languages.

- A national tour with the actors – including TV, radio, top bloggers, newspapers and magazines – big and small (The travel coordination of this alone is monumental)

- Publicists who promote their clients, stylist who promote the clothes of the actors, product makers who are tied to the actors… this is a long list of people who are part of the movie launch process

- Manufacturing partners who develop promotional items, like toys or hats or other products that theme to the movie

- Retailers who launch the products and do their own promotional campaigns

- Theater owners who promote and publicize the upcoming movie, events are possible here too

- An army of photographers, videographers, writers and social media experts who support the launch and keep the drum beat going across all media platforms.

- The premiere

- The opening week’s publicity

- And the advertising that supports every single element above. From billboards to custom websites, this is a long and detailed list of purchased promotions that also roll out in phases and geographical locations

Oscar envelopesSo I ask – with so much riding on the marketing is this not a pivotal part of what it takes to produce a film. Marketing is as much art as science and maybe it deserves an Oscar for the magic of marketing?!

May I please have the envelope with the winner of the Marketing Oscar?

Product Placements Reach For The Stars – So Should You!


Last night was the Oscar’s hosted by Ellen DeGeneres and everything seemed to go right. This is a special event with much more than lights, camera, action and the production had a more sophisticated and engaging tone … it had spectacular product placements. ellen selfie

Not only product placement, but done so well they made national news today, they will tonight and for weeks to come I am certain. Not to mention the Tweets, YouTube, still photos, FB stories and many more…

Mid-show Ellen asks the biggest stars to pose in the audience for a selfie photo – with gusto the biggest stars rush from their seats and gather around Ellen with her over-sided white phone front and center – the chatter from DeGeneres in-between is that these stars will cause so many retweets that Twitter will crash. And sure enough it did and that too made headlines.

Not until this morning did I read that this was a paid-for product placement ad for Samsung, maker of the beautiful Galaxy camera Ellen was using. So for a five minute ad buy they get weeks of publicity (which we all know is at least 3 times the value to a paid ad) and “endorsements” from all those A-list celebrities who are in the photo.

images5YI2FZYZEllen also did a fun bit where she asked the crowd if they were hungry and when so many said yes she said she’d order pizza. Later the pizza arrived and the stars sat in their seats with napkins and slices eating away. That too was a product placement for a LA based pizza chain.

Here were two examples of how product placements can even be part of a live show. The selfie was brilliant and the pizza delivery much less so but all in all something we marketers need to learn from as it is the wave of the future and one I applaud and recommend. Reach for the stars now has a new definition – go for it!

How to have a ball – and a successful event too!


How many events have you been to where you plan to go, add it to your schedule, show up and then wonder “now what”?stepping

Too many I bet.  Let’s make sure that as an event planner you are never the one putting on an event where attendees ask “now what”?

The keys to hosting your own great event, and having a ball, are really pretty simple – all you have to do is think like an attendee!

Which leads us to …

How To Have A Ball – Tip #1 – have a clear purpose for the event. Stake your mission in the ground, claim the outcome you want and then plan everything else about how your potential attendee or customer will feel and react to your mission. It all flows from there, really.

How To Have A Ball – Tip #2be the communicator you are! Amazing how often I see ads, flyers or invitations that tell me about a great event but there is no address, or start time, or suggestion for what the dress will be or where to park.

IF you are walking in the shoes of the attendee you will know all these questions run through their mind, so make sure you communicate the answers before they start to wonder if they really want to come to your event!

How To Have A Ball – Tip #3 – Get the picture! Set up lots of staging areas with your company name and event so people can post it, tweet about it, pin it, link it and send it — all actions you want to encourage not only to spread the word of your event, but to build excitement for next year too!girl in pit of balls

Are You Having A Ball? Tip #4 – if you have planned this special event from the perspective of your guests, communicate everything they might want to know and set up things to do that are so fun they will tell their friends – then you are on the way to having a fun night. Be sure you have fun too – it sets the tone when the event planners are having a ball!

The more special events you do, the better you get at it.

Start a checklist and keep it up – add to it, write notes and keep it close. Events will always have the same needs; how to get people to come, what you want them to experience, how to stay on budget and all the tips that will make sure you and your guests have a ball.

A Perfectly Proportioned Marketing Day


If your day was a pie chart – what would it look like?

Frequently I am asked how I spend my day.  And after several decades of running a PR and marketing firm I have come down to this response “in 30 + years no two days have ever been alike”.

But those years also brought me a clear sense of what the ‘big deals’ are that should make up those days!  If you aren’t required to track your time for your employer, these numbers might surprise you.  Take the challenge, track your time for a week and see what your days might look like as a pie.2014 pie chart

Let’s review what a marketing pro in 2014 might consider as a perfectly proportioned marketing day:


-        Based on mythical 8 hour days and 52 weeks a year there could be 2080 work hours a year

-        But then there are at least 10 holidays and 14+ days of vacation, so now you are at 1888 hours

How this 236 work day, 1888-hour pie might look in a perfect pie world?

59 hours a year, which translates to 15 minutes each morning preparing your to do list and focusing on your goals for the day

118 hours a year, or 30 minutes first thing in the morning answering priority email

944 hours a year if you focus just 4 hours each day doing the work that will assure you accomplish your goals

472 hours a year if you spend just 2 hours each day in meetings or on conference calls with clients, colleagues, leaders or advisors

236 hours a year are spent if you take just a 1 hour break for lunch or lunch meetings

59 hours a year, which equates to just 15 minutes at the end of the day wrapping up and noting what needs to be accomplished tomorrow

So now come the questions right?  What about critical issues, the unpredictable and everything that runs longer than anticipated?  The answer:  this is why 8 hour days are often not the case and why some people don’t take lunch and you often feel like your to-do list is in control of your life.

It is also why every day is different and marketing takes smart, energetic, creative, problem solving and indispensable professionals that make the business world successful.

What’s that about a monkey and a cable car? … An End of the Year Reminder – Done Really Well!


This morning I received an email from WordPress that said “The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog”.

Who could resist that kind of headline?  Not me, so I clicked on it and what came up was the visual of fireworks you see below – and all the stats a blogger could ever want to know!  I loved it and offer this to you as a great example of an end of the year email that is done really well.  Happy New Year everyone!

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,800 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 30 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

5000 Times a Day You Are a Target – for Advertising! 6 Ways To Make Yours Stand Out in This Crowd!


surprised baby  5,000 times a day, so says a new study, we are in the pathway of an ad of some sort.  The ads that catch our eye or grab our attention often get our money too.

They are everywhere; so much so that often we block out the “noise” of advertisements.  NPR recently had a show trying to describe the different types of ads including “native”, “paid content” and “traditional” – in the end they all have the same objective – to move us to purchase.

An old trend is new again – ads are tying right into the message of the medium …. A drama show may include the star driving a particular car, which later has a commercial for that same car.  A product might be reviewed in say a beauty magazine and there is the very mascara in an ad a few pages later – you get the idea.

Tie-ins are powerful – ask yourself – where is this ad going and how can I use words in my ad that tie right into the reason this consumer bought this magazine, watched this TV broadcast or is reading this item online?  Bingo – you will know immediately and have greater impact.

As marketers, our job is to create and support sales – so as this conversation continues on what ads are called or how many of them bombard us daily … let’s take a look at the top 6 ways to make YOURS more effective in 2014!

#1 – Split your ads into two or three – Instead of one 30 second spot or one full sized print ad – break it up into 2 or 3 mini stories.  Just be sure each one could stand alone if need be.

#2 – Be selective.  Think about who your biggest consumer category is and then go for that person.  With most of the money being spent by Boomer women – consider an ad just for this demographic and spend your ad dollars where these women are.  This might be the best audience for the daily print newspaper or well-chosen radio stations – but dare to be bold as this demographic wants you to make their life easier please.

#3 – Tie it all together – EVERYTHING ties together – don’t spend one cent on a paid ad if you haven’t shared the message with the employees, used it on your website, added it to your POS and issued a news release (also added to the website) that includes the key words – key messages – you are sending.messages full circle

#4 – Do the reverse of your competitors – be silent.  Send a powerful message with visuals. Say it with images and music and just a few words on the screen. In this case the beat of the music is incredibly important – a sound engineer can help you match your story to the right music track. Be certain your logo is in place so the message is clear.

#5 – Use humor, use a celebrity if you can, include an animal – these three methods cut across nearly all demographics and so more people notice.

#6 – Work with the medium you have chosen to send your message – their advertising team should have big ideas on how to stretch your dollars – like editorial opportunities, contest tie-ins, upcoming events, email lists and so much more.  Always, always work with a smart ad sales person and ask.

Don’t be one of the advertisements that your consumer blocks out – you have a great service and work for a company that cares about its customer – now let your commercial shine while having big impact with your marketing dollars.