The Dos and Don’ts of Link-Building and Driving Traffic (Beyond SEO Tricks)

One of the ways search engines judge the value of a website is by evaluating the links that point to it. Few or no links tell Google that your website is unimportant; a large number of links from quality websites indicates that your site has useful content, which increases your search engine visibility. While on-page…

Measuring Ad Success in Eight Days or Less

measuringTapeThe recession has either changed the way advertisers do business or has forced us to reevaluate the ways in which we do business. The focus has shifted to the effectiveness and efficiency of an ad campaign rather than stressing the  campaign or ad variables such as reach and effective frequency.

If you work in a media department, then measuring effectiveness and efficiency is something you’ve likely done for years with little to no fanfare from the client side. Well, the climate’s changed, and clients are concerned more than ever — with good reason — that their ads and campaigns meet efficient, effective, and measurable goals. Their priority is to connect with the target audience in a manner that’s more in-tune with a reduced budget. Clients are are requiring or searching for agencies capable of providing campaigns that work harder and smarter.

In addition, advertisers (namely P&G and Coca Cola), have instituted Value Based Compensation (VBC)  arrangements made up of a pay-for-performance (P4P) layout that can be attained in addition to a base fee.

TV.PicThe Nielsen Company has just announced that a new software product, Rapid Campaign Evaluation (RCE), a fast and inexpensive means to review ad performance in just over a week. Due to the costs incurred when an ad or campaign is launched, RCE will give agencies information quickly so as to allow them to respond in an appropriate manner.

Richard Reeves, associate director of Consumer Research Services at the Nielsen Company, notes an agency not only will have the ability to evaluate their own endeavors but the ability to evaluate their competitor’s as well.

Whenever a new commercial is executed,” Reeves says, “there is always that element of anticipation about how it will perform in the ‘real world.’ If it’s a competitor’s ad — you are usually left worrying about the damage it will do to your brand.”

RCE was designed and tested in Australia to measure the strength (or weakness) of TV spots. How many people saw or heard the ads or whether the audience was able to determine the advertiser and the take-away message will provide advertisers with almost “real-time” data they can then use to readjust their tactics such as:

  • An ad that performed strongly may provide justification to increase spend.
  • An ad with mediocre results could be re-edited to clarify the brand message and increase brand cues, or it could be taken back into qualitative research for fine tuning.
  • An ad can be created or ad spend can be increased if RCE showed strong effectiveness measures for a competitor’s ad.

In just over a week, agencies will be able to view data in order to evaluate effectiveness or lack thereof, ensuring clients get the biggest bang for their buck.

While advertising “gurus” have bandied back and forth as to the fairness or plausibility of the VBC model, companies, such as Coca Cola, have already put it into action. In truth, it’s the most equitable payment arrangement; agencies require media vendors to prove their performance. Why shouldn’t clients require the same from their agencies?

Nielsen’s new software is just another step in the ongoing evolution of the industry.

Jeff Louis has over ten years of brand-building, media strategy, and new business experience. His passion is writing, while his strong suit seems to be sarcasm.  You can follow Jeff on Twitter or become a fan on

White House Attacks Fox News

WhiteHouseSealIt must be slow in the Capital these days; it seems that although our world is going crazy, the president and his staff have taken time out to wage a media attack on Fox News, making the rounds on all the Sunday morning talk shows, with one glaring exception: Fox. The gloves were certainly off as Obama’s team struck back at Fox News accusing the network of opinionated reporting. Some of the quotes from the barrage include:

Fox is “not really a news station,” said David Axelrod.

Fox, said Rahm Emmanuel, “is is not a news organization so much as it has a perspective.”
They also urged the other networks not to treat Fox News as a news station because the White House certainly did not think of Fox as news-oriented. A week ago, communications director Anita Dunn opened the White House offensive on Fox on a Sunday show: “Let’s not pretend they’re a news organization like CNN is.”  She then stated that Fox was the communications arm for the Republican Party.

President Obama

The troubling part of this whole scenario: Our government is attacking one of our news outlets, thereby risking one of the freedoms America was founded upon: freedom of the press. (No, it’s not freedom of the press as long as we like what you are saying.)

The cable news networks are highly competitive, and Fox is not only the second highest- watched cable TV network, but it carries 9 of the top 10 cable news shows as of Q1 of 2009. Despite the heavy competition, the White House’s attack has actually begun to backfire.

Helen Thomas, the senior White House reporter in Washington (serving from JFK to
Interim Communications Director Dunnpresent) warned the Obama administration: “Stay out of these fights,”  and Washington Post’s blog stated: Where the White House has gone way overboard is in its decision to treat Fox as an outright enemy and to go public with the assault.

Some have even called the attack “Nixonian” in nature. However, the White House has an out. If the strategy fails, Anita Dunn can be tucked away easily, as she is expected to leave the administration by the end of the year.

fox news logoWhile Fox has not attacked Obama directly, they’ve unloaded on his aides, especially Dunn. Her statement naming Mao Tse Tung as one of her favorite politicians did not help nor did her speech explaining the censorship-like control exercised during the election. If team Obama felt they couldn’t control the message, or the press, they would use YouTube, Twitter, or Facebook to communicate.

While America thought that the Obama Campaign was tech-savvy, it was really just an exercise in message management.

Jeff Louis has over ten years of brand-building, media strategy, and new business experience. His passion is writing and his strong suit is sarcasm.  You can follow Jeff on Twitter or become a fan on

Driving the World: Michelin’s First Global Ad Campaign

Michelin launched its first global advertising campaign last week to shine its headlights on Michelin’s USP high beams, illuminating the manymichellin benefits derived from its distinguishing characteristics. Its theme, “The right tire changes everything,” aims to drive this point home.

Michelin tires simultaneously deliver enhanced braking power, greater longevity, and superior fuel efficiency. The campaign illustrates by using the right tires, consumers can reduce fuel consumption, increase safety, and extend tread life.

The campaign features the iconic Michelin man, Bibendum, in an animated world, assisting troubled motorists and replacing their defective tires with Michelin tires, which he pulls from his body. I know what you’re thinking: Why can’t I get rid of the tires around my waist as easily as Bibendum? To answer that, you’ll have to take the advice of Esurance’s ad campaign, and “get animated.” Bibendum apparently has all the answers.

Created by TBWA, a New York-based agency that gained Michelin’s worldwide account last summer, Michelin’s campaign will appear across TV, print, and online outlets in the United States first, then in Europe and Asia in early 2010, and in Africa, the Middle East, India, and South America at a later date. The U.S. campaign features an enhanced digital strategy that introduces the official Michelin Man Facebook page and YouTube channel.

Visit for more information.

Rohan Raj. Syrupy schmaltz. Finessing perpetual cadence. Boundless behemoth. Absence of mutual exclusivity? Priceless. Reach him via Twitter or LinkedIn.

Jobs and Accountability for All. Except HR?

HR copyI have been applying to various agencies, consulting firms, digital design houses, and the like, and one of the so-called Human Resources’ policies has moved on my “corporate irritation scale” from irk’d off to pissed off.  For the sake of this writing, I include only the personnel departments at advertising, marketing, online agencies, vendors, and companies as the places I’ve been focusing upon.

When did it become standard for HR Departments to determine  they need not respond to applicants? Doesn’t this seem a bit counterproductive, especially at a time when companies are refocusing their entire efforts on personalizing relationships, speaking to their audiences on a one-to-one basis?

Professional glut

meter-thumb2During the past year, many professionals have been let go, from  C-level executives on down. Thus, there’s been a glut of qualified pros searching. As a professional, when I fill out an application and submit my résumé (usually using Taleo or some other third-party vendor), a cover letter, and samples in a nice package, it’s  indicative I either know your company well and am an “enthusiast,”  or I’ve researched it enough to realize there’s strong potential for both parties to  match on various levels, creating a win-win situation.

Thus, I submit what’s  required when I apply at XYZ. Not two seconds later, I receive an e-mail stating that after review, if my qualifications are a match, I may hear from someone. Otherwise, due to the volume of applicants, I will not hear another word.  First off, this is not only rude, but belittling. I have 11 years experience, and if I qualify, you may contact me? I cut my chops. I have respected your requests, filled out your paper in addition to submitting my own, and you “may” get back to me? It’s at this point I regret applying, job or no job.

A week passes.

Follow-up is key (if you can)

I call the office switchboard. I’m dumped into the HR general voicemail. No once calls back. Knowing I already have no contacts within the organization, I try to figure out if there is another way to get past the wall of silence. I begin to dial the main number with a ploy to speak to the Marketing VP I just looked up on LinkedIn.

While waiting, I wonder what’s transpired. Is the job closed? How many applicants applied? Are they still accepting applications?  Was my résumé submitted correctly? Was there something that screamed out I was wrong for the position? Did I make it to the final first cut, only to be weeded out due to my salary requirements?

I leave a voicemail for the VP. After a couple weeks without contact, I make a note on my spreadsheet that no one ever responded and move on to another opportunity.

Social media

Surprisingly, I see a lot of HR people using social media, especially on LinkedIn, Twitter, and blogs. To me, this states that HR departments are versed in basic social-media tenets:

  • Listen.
  • Ask questions.
  • Listen some more.
  • Initiate on-to-one communication.


HR departments use social media to recruit. Why then is it so difficult to get anyone to respond? Why do I have to call the VP of Marketing to get a response, knowing at this point my job hopes have just been shot down?

HR peeps I know say it’s due to the massive amount of résumés they receive, and they’re too busy.I have to say this is a cop out.

Everyone is busy, everyone does more with less, and times are tense. However, most people at a business (with one exception) cannot risk ignoring anyone who contacts them, especially in an industry as fickle as this one.

WWJD, or what would Jeff do? (the solution)

As HR is capable of using social media for recruiting, then why not use social media to keep job posts updated?
It’s efficient, simple, and effective. Set up a blog page with job updates. Send out Twitter updates that a position’s been filled. Write a Facebook App that will cross-reference a job number with a status update. Have a prerecorded job line that applicants can call to learn of any updates.

Problem Solved.

Jeff Louis: Media Planner, Brand Project Manager, blogger, and aspiring writer. Please leave a comment or follow him on Twitter. As always, thanks for reading.

B-52’s, Headlights, or Jugs: Breast Cancer Org’s Target Men

rib1This post covers two of my favorite topics: Breasts and advertising. When they’re grouped together, it usually means a 30-minute Girls Gone Wild infomercial. However, this post actually covers a couple advertising efforts behind breast cancer awareness, which is nothing to joke about. While humor is used in writing, and can be seen in the TV spots, no disrespect, implied or otherwise, is intended. My prayers go out to all those who have been affected by breast cancer.

All men love breasts. Some love them secretly. Others wear t-shirts that shout out that they are “breast men.” Even men that don’t dig women are drawn to a woman’s chest…not sexually, but out of curiosity. (It’s a cruel society that labels a straight man as a stalker for staring at a woman’s assets for too long while a gay man has free reign to reach right out and grab a woman’s chest in public…)

Listaholic alphabetizes 138 different slang names for breasts, among them; whimwhams, muffins, kawangas, and dinglebobbers. Which proves that when men don’t understand something, they either rename it or make fun of it.

The truth of the matter is that we probably love breasts more than their owners;

We just don’t know why…

Which leads to an obvious question: Why haven’t men been involved in the fight against breast cancer from the beginning? Like a favorite bra, it’s a natural fit; breast-lovers attacking breast cancer. As you’ll read in a couple of seconds, a couple of organizations figured it out.

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 500,000 people die every year as a result of breast cancer. It ranks as the second most common form of cancer, and it’s the 5th highest cause of cancer deaths.

The push towards early detection and education of breast cancer began in earnest in 1982, following the death of Susan G. Komen. Susan was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1977 and died three years later. Susan’s younger sister, Nancy, was the impetus behind the push; keeping a promise to her sister, she founded The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation with the belief that education, early detection, and research would have saved Susan.

Now known as Susan G. Komen for the Cure, or simply Komen, the foundation has raised over $1.3 billion dollars for cancer research since inception and is the largest cancer charity in the world. On the global level, Komen has but one mission: To end breast cancer forever.

Spurred by National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October), two separate advertisers have launched PSAs that have expanded their target audience to include men, which is ingenious: Who thinks about breasts more than men?

Yoplait has just released, “Yoplait Pledge.” It makes fun of the fact that nicknames were given to breasts at some point (hmm).

The second awareness spot comes from ReThink Breast Cancer, a Toronto-based organization that addresses the breast cancer concerns of young people affected by the disease. Rethink is a volunteer organization that is “thinking differently” on methods to defeat breast cancer (like getting men involved). The spot (below) is airing in Canada on MTV, and the woman featured is an MTV Host.

It’s obvious that breasts get plenty of attention. It’s breast cancer that we need to focus on.

Jeff Louis: Media Planner, Brand Project Manager, blogger, and aspiring writer. Please leave a comment or follow him on Twitter. As always, thanks for reading.

Crème de la Crap: The Tracy Awards for Worst Advertising

TheTracyAwardsJust how many advertising messages are we exposed to on a daily basis? In Data Smog, author David Skenk writes that the average American’s exposure to advertising has grown from “560 daily advertising messages in 1971. By 1997, that number had increased to over 3,000 per day.”

While the figures are controversial due to the definition of the word “advertising,” even 200 hundred messages a day is more than we’ll remember. Be thankful for that, because most of them are crap that shouldn’t have made it past the concept stage.

While the number of victims stricken by “Crapvertising” is unknown, there is a place where those who have fallen prey can expose the offender(s): The Tracy Awards.  Based on the premise that advertisers produce a lot of  ”bad ads,” the First Annual Tracy Awards are accepting submissions for the Worst in Advertising 2009. Its call to action:

“There’s a lot of bad advertising out there. Let’s make fun of it.”

Noted as the first competition of its kind, The Tracy’s provide those exposed to terrible advertising an opportunity “strike back” at advertisers who produce crap. The press release goes on to explain:

Every ad we receive will be judged. Harshly. And if it’s bad enough, it will win a Tracy, which will be sent to the people responsible for creating the abomination in the first place. Plus, all ads that win Tracy’s will be nationally publicized as the Worst Advertising of 2009.

crowell_logoThe Tracy Awards were conceived by Salt Lake City ad agency Crowell Advertising and are named for agency founder, Tracy Crowell.

Take a few minutes to view the crap or submit some. If you are like me, making fun of others’ work will make the day so much better.

Jeff Louis: Media Planner, Brand Project Manager, blogger, and aspiring writer. Please leave a comment or follow him on Twitter. As always, thanks for reading.

Interview with Founder of Bajibot: Vince Mei Sets Creative Benchmark

bajibot_logoA visit to Bajibot’s website is like going into another world. It is so rich with visuals and 3D animation that it’s almost like a video game… you just keep wanting more. I connected with New Business Director Martin Fernando and he put me in touch with Vince Mei, founder of Bajibot. Due to their hectic schedule, I sent my interview questions to them via email. The response came back in half a day, so thank you Martin and Vince for your time — I know you guys are busy.

Bajibot is a web-design company that specializes in 3D animation. I became interested in Bajibot because of its partner list, which not only consists of other agencies such as TribalDDB, BBDO Atmosphere and Digitas, but also includes clients like Pepsi, Nike, Philips, HSBC, Novartis and the NFL.

I thought, “Holy Crap! Look at the brands supported by this company,” and knew that there was something special hidden just below the surface. Following is an excerpt of our interview:

Tell us a bit about the history behind Bajibot. What is (a) Bajibot?

Bajibot Media was founded by myself and a partner in 2006, we came up with the name Bajibot from our screen names, I am known as the “Bajiking” and my friend’s name was “Dxxbot” so we combined our names and came up with “Baji-Bot”.  My partner friend decided to take advantage of a real nice offer at an agency so I started Bajibot on my own.

Bajibot’s  first project was a huge banner campaign for Nike+ through R/GA, and projects started to roll in.  After a month of working from my apartment my wife kicked me and my assistant out and with a budget of $5,000 I rented a small 100 square foot office near Rockefeller Center, and that was Bajibot’s first official location. For three years we’ve continued to grow, working almost exclusively with global agencies in New York, delivering the best digital content for the web.

What makes Bajibot unique?

Bajibot2-[Compatibility-Mode]Technically speaking we are a web design shop equipped with heavy duty 3D capability.  I studied 3D animation in college but my 10 year career had been in the Interactive field, and so combining these skills created a niche of providing broadcast quality 3D content that works on the web.  By knowing the limitations and possibilities of the web and Flash, our clients value us because we provide smooth integration of our work into their Flash projects.  Our clients often come to us for fresh creative ideas from a 3D perspective to add value to their interactive projects.

We like our clients to think of us as their “in-house” power team instead of an “outsource vendor.” We try to keep our shop at a compact size to maintain direct communication and because of our expertise we have the capacity to take on larger tasks.  We offer a single point of contact with our clients – our producer or myself – so the client’s messages get to our artists fast and clearly.  Plus the advantage of being in NYC is that we are always on call to go to our client’s office for face to face meetings.

We have a super laid back, friendly working environment, and that’s the secret of how we keep our creative juices flowing.  My dog Baji often visits our office and Baji helps to nurture that environment, too.

What is the most outrageous site that you’ve worked on?

There are many, but without a doubt the Intel Rich Media Banner Campaign project from MRM would be at the top of the list.  In just 4 weeks we produced a serious of 6 super rich media ads that feature stunning 3D and interactivity inside those banners, and the special thing about the project was that it was the turning point of Bajibot.  Many thanks to Duncan Mitchell, MRM’s Creative Director, who worked with us on the project and gave us enough trust, creative freedom, and a generous budget!

Advertising has changed a lot over the past year. How has Bajibot changed to meet these challenges?

The advertising industry is definitely changed quite a bit over the past year, primarily in budget.  Clients are asking for more and better work done with less budget.  But Bajibot’s business model has always been designed for this kind of demand.  We’ve always stayed on top of the trends and technology to offer the latest “cool” things to do.  We’ve always kept a reasonable and affordable rate card, and we’ve always been super flexible with time with many examples of “mission-impossible” successes.

How would you describe Bajibot in three words?

Flexibility – Creativity – Execution

Three words that have refined — and continue to refine — the creative products that Bajibot provides its partners. Bajibot exemplifies a shop that’s ahead of the curve, way ahead. View its 2009 media reel and you’ll see what I mean.

Jeff Louis: Media Planner, Brand Project Manager, blogger, aspiring writer. Please leave a comment, or reach out to him on Twitter or LinkedIn. As always, thanks for reading.

Converting Leads: President of MarketingAnd Offers Solutions

A scheduled twenty minute interview with MarketingAnd President and CEO, Sammy James, ended up lasting an hour.  This is what happens you speak with an expert and a true believer of innovative tools for online marketing.  As the interview continued, I began to recognize how various online businesses could  benefit from its approach. Thank you, Mr. James, for your extra time and attention.

MarketingAnd is an eclectic mixture of product and service — part software-developer, part consultancy, part provider, and part business partner. It is capable of working within an established agency-client relationship and can also provide its own expertise to clients.

What do they do exactly?

MarketingAnd organically augments the number of business leads a company receives and then increases the conversion rate from lead to sale. The main difference between MarketingAnd and other lead/conversion companies is that MarketingAnd doesn’t broker lists or teach sales tactics. Its strength lies in converting visitors into leads, and leads into sales. Think of cultivating the low-hanging fruit.

Why go out and buy leads when you can simply convert the ones you already have?

Most of the time, consumers are researching due to their lack of knowledge towards specific products or services. For example, if I move from a condominium to a house, I’d have a lawn to care for. My limited knowledge in lawnmowers would lead me to various home improvement websites where I would be known as a prospect, or lead.  This is where MarketingAnd comes in, providing the necessary tools to engage visitors like me one-on-one.

Sammy James will be the first to tell you that he is a huge advocate of accountability. Thus, it’s no surprise that MarketingAnd’s suite of tools measure, qualify, and quantify. As the company expanded, it partnered with larger institutions (universities, health care companies, automotive dealers) that possessed their own marketing capabilities but didn’t track leads, cost-per-call, cost-per-sale, call volume, or closing ratio. MarketingAnd has the tools to address these issues.

One of these tools is called Form to Phone. In an Internet sales cycle, leads go from extremely hot (ready to buy) to ice cold in a very short time.  Form to Phone helps establish a quicker response time. Here’s how it works:

  1. As soon as a prospect fills out a form and hits the submit button, your phone rings (wherever you are) and you’re given the person’s name and the reason for his or her inquiry.
  2. You press “1″ and are instantly connected to the prospect via the number he or she provided on the form.
  3. You engage the prospect in dialogue – before your competitors even have a chance.

Form to Phone also alleviates what is known as call reluctance. Call reluctance is a phenomenon where a salesperson experiences a heightened level of anxiety or apprehension before calling prospective client.  It could be so overwhelming that it decreases the total number of sales calls made and can render the salesperson useless. Because the sales cycle depends on volume and repetition, every call not made is a potential loss. Form to Phone is effective because it calls the salesperson with a lead. All the salesperson has to do is hit “1.”

Is MarketingAnd successful? According to Mr. James, its client-retention rate is between 90%-95%, and some clients have seen sales increases in the 300% range. If this seems like an appropriate fit to your business, research MarketingAnd first-hand. If you are in the higher-education business, its sister company, Get Starts, specializes in educational system needs.

Jeff Louis: Strategic Media Planner, Brand Project Manager, blogger and aspiring writer. To contact Jeff, leave a comment or contact him on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Required: One BS Detector

The rapid changes in technology, advertising, and social media have brought along their baggage: jargon, political-correctness, new terminology, “cutesy” names, and phrases that just are not understandable. At least once a week I find it necessary to search for meaning on “new” words. When I spell-check posts or documents, many of the words that I read, or even use, on a regular basis show up with the red squiggle…misspelled. The real fact is that they did not exist when Office 2007 debuted, so the handy-dandy dictionary doesn’t recognize them. Thus, my custom dictionary is growing. Now I have to worry about the fact that if I misspell a simple word, such as bitter, I may end up with Thus, read and re-read everything you write.

Along with these new words, we seem to be using more words to say less, working in keywords along with key points into our blogs, press releases, and online articles. Companies, wanting to look smarter, are actually failing to get their point across due the amount of BS they incorporate with their corporate communications.

And that’s why I use HubSpot’s BS detector, or, as they call it, the Gobbledygook Grader, which grades exactly what you think it does: crap.
The site is very simple to use:

  1. Enter copy into copy block area on Grader site
  2. Enter your email address
  3. Hit the “Grade Content” button

What comes out can be quite disappointing, especially if you think that you’ve written a masterpiece and find out it’s a turd. It’s not a perfect measurement tool, but it does provide a list of the Gobbledygook words, a word cloud so that you can see how many times you’ve overused certain words, as well as a word-counter, sentence counter, and the minimum education necessary to read the document. (Although mainly a PR tool, it’s become rather useful for cover letters, blog posts, and articles.) Realize that if you are grading something other than a brochure or press release, the calculations don’t work out perfectly and the score will be low. However, I use it as a proofing device, so it’s not the score, but what it displays about my writing, or over-writing.


The top ten “worst of the worst” words are, from most-offensive to least: lead generation, robust, flexible, world class, easy to use, scalable, cutting edge, well positioned, market leading, and mission critical. If you’re using these words in your writing endeavors, please stop now.

HubSpot also offers graders for Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Social Personalities, Press Releases, and Web Sites, so it’s simple to gauge where you, or your company, “rank” in the Social Media sphere. To access all of the graders at once, go to HubSpot’s website and click on the Grader link.

As the online space expands, rest assured that the cutting-edge, scalable, mission-critical buzzwords will become a robust and break-through method of delivering market-leading information in a user-friendly method.
(Authors Note: none of the 18 Gobbledygook words included in this post were harmed during writing.)

Jeff Louis: Strategic Media Planner, Brand Project Manager, blogger and aspiring writer. To contact Jeff, leave a comment or find him on or

Google Voice Pre-launch; Forbes Seems “Google-Confused”

090803 NewsweekDespite the fact that Newsweek boldly claimed that the recession was over, it’s really not: On July 31st, Verizon Wireless reported a 21% decline in profits, which, as we all know by now, means massive lay-offs. In this case, 8,000 more employees, the largest lay-off since the GM debacle.  And just to keep things on the up-and-up, Verizon has already cut 8,000 jobs in 2009. It’s my guess that Verizon employees are thinking that the recession lives on…

So, not only must we disseminate information gathered from online sources, it would seem that we must do the same for magazines, newspapers, and TV newscasts; nothing can be taken at face-value.

Which brings me to Forbes and their haphazardly scattered reporting on Google. In the past 10 days, Forbes has printed stories ranging from Google being on top of the SEO game, to comparing Google to newspapers, printing a story titled, “Why Google Won’t Last Forever.” Forbes either does not understand Google’s business plan, or they’re simply pounding out headlines to gain readers. In a single week, they reported the Google demise story and a separate story on how Google Wave and Android will revolutionize telecommunications, e-mail, chat, blogging, archiving and file uploading.

voice-logoBy now, most people have heard of Google Voice, although relatively few know what this new offering will provide. Luckily, I signed up to test Voice, and just received my “approved” email, so I’m not certain what it does either…but I’m eager to find out. Google Voice, formerly known as GrandCentral, was a company that Google acquired in 2007 for just over $50 Million. Despite the nearly two-year wait, the bugs have supposedly been put to rest and the service is ready for beta testing. Below is Google’s video explanation of Google Voice.

Google Voice has a singular main idea: “one phone number for all your phones, for life.” This single phone number will, in essence, combine all your phone numbers, including cellular, office, home, vacation home, etc. To use the service correctly, the phone number provided by Google Voice will be your main phone number. Depending on the party calling, Google Voice will route the call to the appropriate telephone, or even ring all of the phones simultaneously. Thus, calls coming from family members can be set up to ring your mobile and home phone; business calls, depending on how easily you want to be found, can ring both your office and your cellular (or your office, cell, home and vacation number). If your Google Voice number receives a text message, it automatically routes to your cell phone.

Google has also enhanced the original service by adding a transcription service which transfers all of your voice mails into text which users can then append, adding notes or tags for future searching. Voice will also include a friend setting, which routes calls from designated people straight to voicemail, home phone, cell phone, etc. Users can access Google Voice via computer or telephone, and the system tracks all received calls, missed calls, text messages, placed calls, and will even record phone calls. Although not “live” at this time, Google Voice and Gmail will be fully integrated in the future, providing a single source point for all personal and business communications. As an added benefit, if you happen to receive a text message while on your computer, you can simply use the Google Voice interface on your computer to respond.

Google Voice includes a teleconferencing feature for calls of up to 6 people, plus the ability to record the teleconference. International calls can be made at about the same rate that Skype currently offers.

As for costs, with the exception of International calling, the service is very affordable: It’s free.

With Android, Wave, and Voice all nearing release stage, it would seem that Google’s position is where it’s always been…in front of the competition.

Jeff Louis: Strategic Media Planner, Brand Project Manager, blogger and aspiring writer. To contact Jeff, leave a comment or find him on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Web Composition: Realized or Riddled?

It would be pretentious to speak about the emergence of online media as if it were…news. However, it is vital to address the fact that, despite the advent of the Internet, there remains a divide within the “connected” of the digital divide. Avant garde disseminators will tell you that marketing efforts are still being improperly implemented through online venues.

Leveraging the web correctly for business requires both the left AND right side of the brain; there is an art & science to web marketing applications-particularly in the field of web writing.


You can see web writing being utilized for various online mediums: websites, webzines, e-newsletters, blogs, Internet advertisements, and social networks, among others. However, it should not be dismissed as a task that can be done by a web designer or art director; it’s a craft that is developed through experience. Therefore, web writing should be delegated to professional writers.

Some of the variables of web writing that ROI is contingent on are: SEO, Meta tags, keywords, links, titles, and of course, content. Many writers are aware of some of these terms, but don’t know how to apply this knowledge when developing copy.

It would be a waste of time to delve into each of these terms, as their meanings are easily accessible on the web. I will, however, illustrate what makes good web copy, and elaborate by providing some examples.

1)      Wait…what were we talking about?

-Consider your topic. There are programs online to determine what the most important keywords are for any given topic; utilize this tool to determine which terms to include in your web copy.

2)      Pithy the Python says “WRAP IT UP, SON!”

-Concise, cohesive copy is the elixir of web writing.

3)      Want Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious web copy?

– Limit your vocabulary. To optimize SEO, you want controlled word usage so that your content is included in search results; stick to keywords and synonyms.

4)      I like em’ chunky.

-Both readers and search engines favor “chunking.” In fact, 79% of readers prefer “scanning” to “reading.” Techniques like creating sections, headlines, subheads, bullet points, and lists improve SEO.

5)      Links are a site’s best friend.

-To increase credibility, link to outside websites and resources. Outbound links encourage inbound links from other sites and improve SEO.

For a great example of web copy that utilizes linking and chunking, check this out.

Rohan Raj

Syrupy schmaltz. Finessing perpetual cadence. Boundless behemoth.

Absence of mutual exclusivity? Priceless…

Sharpie Confessions: A Life-Long Obsession

LOGOOk, ok. The world now knows about my secret Sharpie obsession, or at least all the customers and employees at my local Staples. There it was, a behemoth of Sharpie infatuation, a display with every color you could imagine – teal, sky blue, navy AND in various tips of fine, medium, broad. Could it be? Or was just a mirage?

Ever since my first days of creating art, the Sharpie has been my best friend and we have created some good times and great ideas together. Now my wildest dreams have come true with all the colors of the rainbow to choose from. Sharpie’s new product line and communications tell me one thing: it must be listening to its audience. With a website full of ideas, tutorials, contests, and opportunities for the fellow Sharpie-obsessed, it is deepening loyalty within consumers.

What can we learn from this? Taking our brands and tapping into the true connection they have with their target is key to communication and innovation. Sharpie could have pushed the brand’s connection with meetings, boardrooms, and diagrams, but instead chose to tap into the root emotion – the love to create. Bravo Sharpie!

Jinean Robinson is a CCIO (Chief Creative Infections Officer) who has been in the communications industry for over 8 years, specializing in creative strategy and implementation, 360 branding communications, and brand development. Join her at or her firm’s website at

You’re Not on Twitter Yet?

twitterIt’s out there and everyone’s talking about it. It’s been proven to give companies an edge on competition and the ability to form a bond with customers. So why aren’t you involved in social media yet?

As a freelancer in social media, I’ve noticed that there are numerous corporations that are still not involved with Twitter, Facebook, or anything on the Internet beyond a website and an email. This is, in essence, what it would be like when everyone started to advertise on the television when it was first invented and a company simply ignored it and kept to the “old school” ways of handing out fliers to people. Although it is important to respect the more traditional ways of advertising, you must also incorporate the new to properly promote and advertise your company and brand (my fellow Beneath the Brand blogger Jon Leung agrees – check out his post Marketers’ Dilemma: Facebook or Twitter).

The best thing about social media – it’s easy and free. At the moment, I recommend starting with Twitter because, as I’m sure you’ve heard, it’s becoming more and more similar to the dot com boom (i.e. don’t be the last one to figure it out).

Look at Twitter this way: imagine all your customers coming together on a daily basis and talking about topics that pertain to you and your company, thereby spreading even more information about your company and gaining more recognition and consumers.

Let me use a company as an example that I am currently involved with: Dolphin Blue, Inc. Dolphin Blue helps businesses go green through its office supplies. If you thinking of promotion from a networking standpoint, the first thing you would do is to find a group that matches your interests, in this case, any green groups that deals with the ecosystem or world health. You would then attend the group sessions, meet people who have those same interests, and start conversations with them about your company. Twitter is exactly like this, only on a much larger scale.

After creating a Twitter account, log on to and search (#green) for people talking about green issues. “Follow” them, re-tweet things they’ve tweeted that you agree with and *poof,* people will start following you, re-tweeting things you’ve posted, and, most importantly, become aware of your services. And thus, networking and building your business starts on a national level. The more people you meet, the more people who talk about you and your company.

Within four hours of Dolphin Blue publishing its Twitter account, it had six mentions and 26 followers! On day two, those numbers grew to 14 mentions and 93 followers. Imagine how many more people it’ll reach within the next week, month or year.

I think Griffin Farley of 22squared said it best. “Don’t plan for the ones you reach, plan for the ones they reach.” It’s all about who you know, right?

Megan Green is a freelance propagation planner who has had her work published on PR News Wire, as well as many other outlets. Contact her on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or at

Yodle’s CEO Explains How to Kick Local A$$

YodleFor the first time in nearly a decade, online spending was reported to be 5% lower in Q1 of 2009 than Q1 of 2008. Although losses were not specified by category, it’s clear that online advertising is not recession-proof.

Yet, glimmers of success are still found among gloomy reports and forecasts.

Yodle, an online advertising provider that specializes on small businesses in local markets, has repeatedly shown dramatic increases in year-over-year revenue gains over the past two years.

How dramatic? Try a 300% increase from 2006 to 2007, and 700% from 2007 to 2008. The company started with just nine employees and now boasts over 250. Additionally, Yodle’s client list has jumped from 125 clients in 2006 to well over 5000 accounts managed in 2009.

What is Yodle’s business model for success? As luck would have it, I was able to ask Court Cunningham, CEO of Yodle, that exact question (among others).

Court Cunningham (CC): Yodle delivers the strongest return on marketing investment to the small business owner. In 2007, 50% of online users performed searches for local businesses. In 2008, 82% of online users searched locally. Yodle focuses on providing an avenue for small businesses to “get found.” We place our clients’ ads on larger sites, such as Google, Yahoo, and MSN, as well as 75 other top-performing local sites, providing small businesses the online accessibility of a larger company.

Beyond Madison Avenue (BMA): When you say “small” business, what size company are you talking about?

CC: A law firm with 100 employees can be considered a small business… but Yodle’s main focus is on businesses with ten or fewer employees. We are targeting the “S” of SMB. Small business owners realize that they need to be online now more than ever, and Yodle can get them there.

BMA: What does Yodle offer a small business that the online Yellow Pages or a local portal does not?

CC: The greatest benefit Yodle provides is more leads and a lower cost-per lead. Second, we accommodate small business owners by getting them online in an effortless (on their part) manner. If a business owner needs help developing a web site, we offer those services. Finally, Yodle provides full transparency and accountability. We supply clients with an online dashboard that records the number of clicks and calls from their ads. This allows them to record the clicks or calls that turn into qualified leads or sales versus those that did not go anywhere.

BMA: Do you focus on certain types of businesses?

CC: Businesses that benefit the most from Yodle are those in which the product or service has a high value. We cater to plumbers, electricians, cleaning services, locksmiths, personal trainers, contractors, construction companies, etc.

BMA: Do you advertise national companies on a local level?

CC: We do have clients that are national franchises, such as ServiceMaster, that advertise their services locally. But, the majority of our clients are small business owners. Yodle has a unique solution for national franchise companies that allows them to manage local ad dollars and national coop dollars through one easy to use product.

BMA: Currently, Yodle is in the Top 40 DMAs (markets). What are your expansion plans? Are you going to increase the number of markets that Yodle covers?

CC: No, our plans for growth are vertical, which will enable us to provide greater depth per market. We’ll also be rolling out new products in the near future that will be beneficial for our clients.

BMA: Would you say that your greatest competitors are Yelp and other “like-minded” sites?

CC: Not really. We use Yelp and City Search to display our client’s ads. Our biggest competitors would be other sites like ours, and the Yellow Pages.

BMA: Please reiterate Yodle’s advantage over these sites…

CC: Yodle will provide small businesses with a high volume of quality leads, complete service and transparency, and higher ROIs than advertising currently being used.

Yodel-ogoYodle is yet another example of a company that thinks progressively and has the ability to succeed while others remain stagnant. Now is the perfect time for small business owners to take advantage of online advertising opportunities to increase their advantage over competitors. Yodle provides local businesses with a simple and affordable way to get new customers and phone calls while establishing an online presence. Click here to find out more about services offered by Yodle, as well as its clients’ success stories.

Jeff Louis: Strategic Media Planner, Project Manager, and New Business Account Coordinator. His passion is writing. Reach out to him on either or

Media Consumption Patterns: Reaching Teens

86653-TeensDid you hear the one about the 15-year-old who decided to run his own study on the media consumption patterns of teenagers? It’s quite the research… er… story… lesson.

Ben Kellogg of Group SJR forwarded me the article after we had spoken about an entirely unrelated subject. To be quite honest, I didn’t jump right on it… my laptop had died, losing files, email contacts, and programs. I just kept resetting the email reminder. Until today.

no-tvMatthew Robson, a 15-year-old intern working for Morgan Stanley, conducted a media study called “How Teenagers Consume Media.” The conclusions caused a bit of an uproar, mainly because one teen does not represent all teens. Yet, it could also be said that the overall observations coincide with many teen media habits. The teens I know, for instance, would rather be online than in front of a television. Either that or doing both… watching TV and surfing the Web, interspersed with texting. Although there is absolutely no statistical backing for a survey of one, we can draw some general inferences from Robson’s writing.

General conclusions for the study include:

  • Most teenagers are not regular listeners to radio, instead opting for online streaming services
  • Most teens watch television, but frequency varies by season. Additionally, now that TV shows are webcasted as well, there’s less worry about missing an episode
  • Teens do not read traditional papers because “they don’t have the time” (I am sure they have the time… it’s just that papers don’t rank highly on the priority list)
  • Console gaming, interestingly, is not of interest to teenagers… and the main factor is cost. Costs for consoles and games are beyond most budgets; however, multi-player, interactive online games are popular
  • The Internet is where teens interact socially, conduct research for school, create videos, IM, and otherwise connect to others… except for Twitter. Matthew states that teens do not use Twitter*
  • Teens love music, but are not paying for it
  • Viral marketing is enjoyed and supported by teens
  • They do not use directories unless it’s online, etc.

*According to the graph below from Sysomos, teens comprise 30% of Twitter users:


This is directly in contrast with Robson’s assessment.

But hey, he is 15 years-old, and while he may be intelligent, his judgment is missing the crucial benefit of time. However, Morgan Stanley should not be lacking in the judgment column… or, in retrospect, maybe that’s exactly what they are missing…

Jeff Louis: Strategic Media Planner, Brand Project Manager, Writer & Blogger. Unlike the all the other blog writers for Talent Zoo, Jeff is cute and nice. Tweet him @jlo0312. Just kidding about the nice part.

Don’t Sell Just Sell It, Noit It!

online_shopping2Can you feel it? Probably not…it’s much like the spin of the Earth. E-v-e-r  s-o  s-l-o-w-l-y, we’re being herded by unseen forces swirling about; price, comfort, security, and laziness. Why fight the crowds or the traffic when it can be done from home? If you don’t have to leave the house, then don’t.

Massive online sites such as Ebay and Amazon make shopping online simple. Well, prepare to add another couch magnet to your arsenal:

Before you ask:

In the US Military, the term “NOIT” is used to describe something as “cool” or “hip.” This Military slang term served as the impetus for the creation of this website, which combines the variety and diversity of a true online marketplace with the cool, hip world of social media.

NoitWorld, launched on June 1, 2009, heralds itself as the  ”newest, coolest, and most consumer friendly online marketplace for buying and selling new and used merchandise. Although I have never used the site I did peruse it extensively. Very simple to navigate, users have the ability place products  in more than 100 categories, such as Anything Goes, Motorcycles, Cars, real estate, etc. Depending upon the item being sold, ads are posted for 30 days and are either free, $20, or $25 per ad. The site is actually global in scope although most items listed currently are from the US or Mexico., however, is not “just another sales site.” It is the first site of it’s type that allows users to re-post listings on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, and more. Todd Foret and Sean Legros, both of Yuma, AZ, developed the sites unique strategy:

“With so many internet users spending a majority of their time on their social media sites, it only makes sense to provide a buyers and sellers market that can interact with these sites,” said Foret.

Although “in business” for just over a month, there are plenty of items available, from a classic Styx CD to a beach home in San Felipe, Mexico. As the economy doesn’t seem to be immediately bouncing back,  maybe it’s time to start “Noiting” all stuff.

Jeff Louis: Strategic Media Planner & Brand Project Manager for B2B and B2C clients, he is fascinated by innovation in the face of adversity, branded creative that is on-strategy, and past participles. He can be contacted via  Twtter or LinkedIn.

Teen Does Back Flip in WheelChair:

HowStuffWorks_logoHow does White Collar crime work? What if the safety harness on the roller coaster broke? What are 10 inventions we use daily that was first used at NASA? How does WiFi operate? Who is Aaron Fotheringham?

Aaron Fotheringham is the seventeen-year-old athlete featured in’s online and television ad campaign in support of the popular website. The spots have been released on YouTube, and will also be seen on TV starting this week. And, it’s not who Aaron is; it’s what he does:

Aaron, born with spina bifida, and dubbed with the nickname Wheelz, lives in Las Vegas, Nevada (which may play a part in his penchant for taking risks). One day, while his brother and friends were dropping into empty swimming pools on skateboards and BMX bikes, his brother suggested that he “drop in.” Although nervous, Aaron took his first “wheelchair drop” into the pool.

He’s now known as the inventor and pioneer of an extreme sport called “Hardcore Sitting” and competes in BMX racing. Against cyclists.

He’s been competing alongside BMX bikers since 2005 and has more than 10 corporate sponsors. He won the trophy at the BMX Intermediate Vegas AmJam 2005 Finals and spends about 30 to 40 hours per week practicing the sport he invented.

In mid-2006, Aaron became the first person in history to complete a back flip in a wheelchair. On Halloween, 2008, Guinness Book of World Records certified Aaron as the sole inventor and performer of the wheelchair back flip. No one has duplicated his feat. There is a section on devoted to Aaron Fotheringham and his journey.

Along with the sponsorships, the accolades, and the TV appearances, he’s launched a website,, and was awarded $20,000 by the FOX reality TV show “Secret Millionaire.” The money will help form a company that teaches other children in wheelchairs the sport of Hardcore Sitting.

This is the second ad campaign has launched and builds upon the highly successful “Scuba Cat” campaign launched this time last year. The new campaign also features a skydiving car, with both video spots centered around the theme of “Keep Asking.” The spots ask all types of questions, along with a voice-over, “For expert answers to the world’s great questions, go to” The tagline “Keep Asking” demonstrates the ability to utilize a single execution to capture a full range of emotions and tackle a wide array of topics.

Preston Kelly, headquartered in Minneapolis, provided the creative juice that powers the campaign.

Jeff Louis: Strategic Media Planner, Project Manager, and New Business Account Coordinator. His passion is writing. Reach out and touch him: or

The Friendship Model: Brandon Murphy at 22squared Gives the Down and Dirty

22squaredAdvertising and marketing have taken new directions with the recent integration of social media and consumer advocacy. Agencies have been forced to rethink their ideas and strategies to reach their consumers. One such agency, 22squared, has done just that with the help of its SVP Director of Brand Marketing, Brandon Murphy.

I had the opportunity to catch Mr. Murphy on the phone this past Friday and ask him about the company’s model, The Friendship Model: How to Build Brand Advocacy in a Consumer-Driven World.

“I think that basically it’s an approach for brands to build advocacy. When we first introduced this thing, it was mostly an internal thing, and actually still is. In essence it was an internal way to focus the agency on what marketing was about today, what a person does to make and maintain a friendship, earn enough respect, and I guess enough attractiveness for a consumer to advocate for them like a friend would advocate for a friend,” Murphy said.

Murphy says one of the hardest questions companies face when creating campaigns is the question, “How do we build advocacy?”

“A lot of times it comes down to not what you say but what you do,” he said. “How can we get the customer to interact with us. Your next customer could turn into your next 10 customers. It’s a pretty simple idea.”

Griffin Farley, senior brand planner from 22squared, has a great saying for this: “Don’t plan for the ones you reach, plan for the ones they reach.”

How can this model help an entire agency? I listed those questions and responses below:

Megan Green: For people now looking for work in progressive ad agencies, why is it important for them to know about advocacy, social media and word of mouth?

Brandon Murphy: The simple reason is because that is how brands are growing now. Brands aren’t growing by increased awareness, they are growing with people talking about them…that’s how people are choosing products and what brand to use.

MG: Media Planners are specialists at reach and frequency. Are those still important skills to know when advocacy is the end goal?

BM: I think there is always going to be a critical mass of people you have to reach to keep your brand afloat. You look at our agency, it’s not like we don’t do media plans, it’s just that we’ve changed how we do our media plans and how we engage the customer. For media planners, the one thing is that it is no longer about buying space and just calculating reach or frequency, it’s about getting opportunities for the customer to talk.  Media planning has gotten to get more strategic and inventive to get messages to customers.

MG: When you brief Creative Teams, does the Friendship Model help them get to a better creative deliverable?

BM: The Friendship Model does a few things. First, it gives a sense of direction in work and strategy. We always still do the right things in understanding a customer and how a brand can fit into a customer’s life. The key thing is to think entirely around a problem and all different ways to solve it. Sometimes it’s something really cool or something simple. We’ve looked back and told a client, “it’s not a TV campaign you need, but it’s an associate campaign,” like we told Buffalo Wild Wings and Lincoln Financial. Second, [the model is] something else that makes them work better, it forces you to figure out what the brand’s purpose is. If a brand has a purpose beyond just selling something, as a customer you’re more likely to invest in it.

MG: Has the Friendship Model helped your New Business Team win accounts or peak interest among search consultants? What feedback do you hear from them?

BM: Well the good thing about the Friendship Model is that it really does help filter out clients that are right for you and clients that aren’t right for you. The client typically hates it [the model] or loves it. It’s a nice screener for us and prospective clients. It really puts ourselves out there and we’re really passionate about building advocacy.  Also, search consultants really like it. Search consultants are tasked with bringing agencies that bring in business. With this model we can focus on the things that bring in sales. We can tell them how much they can expect to increase sales given an increase in advocacy or reach of other people. That’s really been super attractive to some consultants.

MG: Does the Friendship Model help Account Service strengthen the relationship with the clients? Do clients value the philosophy?

BM: In two ways. One, it’s kind of a gut check for us. The way we act and the people in our agency – it creates a pretty high road for us to walk in terms of being passionate and doing the right thing. You know, it’s interesting if you think about the relationship between friends, it’s not all nicey-nicey and how can I serve you. It’s real. It gives us a nice path to travel on how we build relationships with clients. Two, it most importantly gives our clients something to circle into. Clients always have business goals, but doing it through a filter of building relationships and advocacy gives the client a way to lead that they hadn’t had before. Most of the Friendship Model is based on what we currently do for our clients. It feeds the development on how to win over customers and act differently than other brands, like Publix Super Markets, Inc.

MG: Finally, as Director of Brand Planning, what skills do you look for when you hire Account Planners that want to work for 22squared?

BM: Planners have to be insatiably curious and really, really good at writing and getting ideas across to people. Those two things are core building blocks for planners. Something else we look at is planners who are always able to take a different look at things than most people. Whenever I hire a planner, I make sure they are not only smart, but smart strategically and creatively. Our planners are much more active in participating in the creative. We look for planners that understand how to engage a customer and not just about bringing a message but about where we engage, how we engage, and the content and value of the brand. Planners are provocateurs by nature. At least we want them to be. We want them to cause people to look at things differently. They need to be the glue that holds people together.

Want more information on The Friendship Model and what it means? Check out this video that 22squared put together, “I Love Blank”, or Brandon’s white papers.

Megan Green is an advertising and marketing professional published on PR News Wire, as well as many other outlets. She specializes in social media and is currently looking for a full-time advertising position. Contact her on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or at

Googler’s Defense: “We’re Not That Big”

google_logo-smallGoogle, the leader in Search Engine technology, handles approximately 66% of all search engine traffic. So much, in fact, that when Michael Jackson died and his name spiked, Google thought that it was a coordinated attack.

Much like AT&T did two decades ago, Google is fighting back over anti-trust allegations although no formal investigation is underway.

Dana Wagner, the Googler known as “senior competition counsel” explains in the New York Times that “competition is just a click away.”

Google has been on the PR warpath, partially due to regulators watching its every move. Other tech companies such AT&T, IBM, Intel, and Microsoft suffered much of the same thing when it became apparent that there was no “real” competition. Google is clearly the leader in the search category, and it’s possible that the only “competition” may be from the US Government’s possible intervention. In November of 2008, the Justice Department killed a deal between Yahoo and Google due to concerns over market domination. But who is kidding who, right? Google already owns the market.

GoogleMountainViewThere are other investigations taking place. The Justice Department is investigating Google’s hiring practices and the Federal Trade Commission is researching the ties between the boards of both Google and Apple. But nothing’s been aimed at the heart of Google.

…unlike other technology giants in years past, Google has not been accused of anti-competitive tactics. But the investigations and carping from competitors and critics have Google fighting to dispel the notion that it has a lock on its market, even as it increases its share of search and online advertising.

However, Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, stated;

“Google search is an absolute must-have for every marketer in the world.”

Google’s lawyer, Mr. Wagner, agrees that the company is a great success. He also noted that the environment is turbulent and highly competitive. Further, he said that Google wasn’t looking for sympathy, but simply telling its side of the story.

Jeff Louis: Strategic Media Planner, Project Manager, and New Business Account Coordinator. His passion is writing. Reach out and touch him: or