Promise me?

Promise me that you’re building your number one digital asset – your email list?

Boring old email is *still* the new ‘black’ when it comes to online marketing.

If you’re not collecting email addresses, you are 100% leaving money on the table, not to mention wasting ad spend…

Manual or Auto?

Possibly the biggest recent buzzword in the online marketing world has been programmatic advertising.

Programmatic is to advertising what derivatives are to investing – holding the promise of leveraged gains over and above regular returns, but needing to be driven by rocket scientists.

The problem isn’t that marketers now have programmatic advertising, the problem is marketing doesn’t attract rocket scientists.

For this reason, programmatic is problematic.

The Invisible Bridge

Dear Brand,

Please take another leap of faith.

– Your Fans

Bill Bernbach on good vs great advertising

“Good advertising builds sales. Great advertising builds factories” – Bill Bernbach


“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”

Banksy is perhaps one of the most mysterious, yet prolific artists of our day.

His street art visual language combined with clever, subversive political & social commentary are so distinct and so recognisable…

The Change

For the first time in history, a generation has grown up, with instant, global, online connection being their ‘normal’.

This is Gen C (‘C’ for Connected).

So dramatic has been the fundamental change …

Discontent Marketing

As digital marketers today, we’re so focussed on our (hopefully positive) numbers eg. Subscribers, Click Through Rate, Conversion Rate etc, that we forget that for the first time in marketing history, consumers can now vote on your content and ads …

The New Industrialists

Industrialists build systems to connect people to resources – communication, infrastructure, trains, planes, gas, etc

Once upon a time, consumers paid big money for these items because such services saved us time & granted us convenience – currencies we were willing to exchange for money.

Today we live in a society where all of these things are a given. They’re no longer time savers or convenient – no longer currency, simply expected.

Now …

Rosser Reeves quote on his innovation – the Unique Selling Proposition

“Buy this product and you will get this specific benefit” – Rosser Reeves

Full Service vs Specialisation

As a business grows, its tempting to keep bolting on more products and services, as we recognise more and more market needs. Before too long, what starts out as a ‘Specialist’ business ends up being ‘Full Service’.

The problem with being Full Service isn’t the model itself – its that the environment has shifted around it.

Today, every business is becoming more and more reliant on …

Drinking Connection

We blog a lot about marketing in the new Connection Economy we all live in today.

Typically we refer to this in the context of brands building genuine connection with fans and potentially even connecting fans with fans.

Kudos to the excellent SBS series Hipsters that crystallised an even more powerful and personal aspect of this Connection Economy …

The FitBit Syndrome

The other day my mum, the queen of random, asked me “Do I need a Fitbit? Everyone’s got one…”

I began looking around and noticing that she was right, the tipping point of wearable tech has happened. Thousands upon thousands of people collecting data, daily, on how many steps (or swings of their arm) they are taking. We live in an age where there is a dizzying amount of data available to us – certainly as digital marketers, but now even as individuals.

We collect data because we can, and even because it’s cool.

The question now is – what do we do with this data?


In times gone by, (ala #backintheday) each village contained specific roles for each member of that community to become a master of.

The blacksmith, the farmer, the baker, the fishmonger, the painter – you were assigned one of these roles, typically inherited, performed your duties, then traded the goods in your art for the outputs of other masters.

In today’s world, we are no longer assigned roles but have the freedom to choose…

Amil Gargano quote on ad creative

First we articulate the objective. Then a strategy. Then we look at the work if it meets these…

Proximity and authenticity

Woolworths Anzac Day campaign was by far the most public social media fail, but by no means the only #brandzac marketing crime.

Marketers could learn how not to do social media by reading all the fallout.

Perhaps one of the more vocal views held by the industry has been that …


Its been fascinating watching the SBS series Hipsters, which documents the origins of this subculture of beards, tattoos, fixies and Paleo diets, among other peculiarities.

Behind every one of these outward manifestations is the silent cry to be an authentic individual (despite the paradox that Hipsters are pretty much the same the world over, exposing the real need …


The richest prize fight in history, that took promoter Bob Arum five years to pull together, occurred over the weekend.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about this fight from a marketing perspective, was that Bob’s company, Top Rank, pulled out all stops to not allow this event to be streamed in any way, shape or form except through official channels.

No Youtube, Periscope or Meerkat live streaming – even live audio commentary via the web was banned…

If you can’t beat ‘em …

… speak like them.

Facebook recently announced the rollout of Reach & Frequency formats for Video advertising.

The strange part about this announcement is that …

Peter Thiel interview question to find good entrepreneurs

“Tell me something that’s true that very few people agree with you on” – Peter Thiel

The Internet ‘A List’

There is a small group of 12 ‘underground’ Internet Marketers who have mastered the art of global email marketing, affiliate marketing and online product launches.

I call these individuals the Internet Marketing ‘A List’.

Some of the members of this ‘A List’ have been testing & refining online marketing techniques, starting with only email, since the mid 90s.

Today, 20 years later, its not unusual for each of them to make six figures doing an online product launch in just four weeks…

Love or Fear?

Marketing & advertising has always been high leverage – even before the internet.

Get the message right and it can have a huge positive impact on sales, get the message wrong and, well the exact opposite is true.

The difference today is now that we’re in relationship with your brand via social media …


Melbourne’s cafe scene is suffering from a first world hipster problem – every cafe is beginning to look the same.

So how does a new cafe stand out in such a sea of sameness?

How to do Content Marketing

No matter where you turn in digital marketing today, the current flavour of the month is ‘Content Marketing’.

Curiously, Content Marketing is not new at all.

Readers have been offered valuable free content for decades, from sponsored editorials to classic Ogilvy long copy print ads back in the 60’s – certainly, well before digital.

So why is Content Marketing such a buzzword today?

The main reason is that …

David Ogilvy quote on bad advertising

“I know of a brewer who sells more of his beer to the people who never see his…

Keep ’em guessing

Since getting my first email address 20 years ago, I’ve subscribed to hundreds of email newsletters across all kinds of niche of niche topics.

Of all of these, there has been only one that I read daily and stay subscribed to: Seth Godin.

In considering about why I’ve stuck with him compared to countless others I boil it down to these things …

Which platform should you be on?

With the exponential increase of social media platforms – Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Vine, Tumblr, even good ol’ email – the question often arises: which platform should we be on?

The answer lies not in the platform, but your people.

The New Sales Funnel

The traditional Industrial Economy sales funnel/buying cycle has a number of tiers with the goal of marketing to progress through each tier of the funnel:

Unaware – People who do not know your product/service exists
Awareness – People who are aware your product/service exists
Interest – People who are interested in your product/service
Consideration – People who are investigating/researching who is the best product/service fit for them
Decision …

Embracing Mystery

On Thursday, possibly half the planet’s facebook feed was swamped with fans sharing this trailer of the most anticipated movie of the year.

While we can’t all expect our work to have Star Wars level virality, we can learn from one key signature that this trailer shares with the body of work of the man behind the camera, JJ Abrams.
JJ Abram’s signature flies in the face of current digital marketing efficiency …

Katy Perry quote on fans live streaming her concerts via smartphone

“Today a phone is the new applause” – Katy Perry on fans at her concerts

Microphones and Megaphones…

A microphone has limited reach.

Usually confined to a room of people who know you or know of you and have chosen to listen. They want to hear what you are saying – loudly and clearly.

A megaphone can expand far beyond a room.

It can reach everyone, people don’t need to know …

Highest and best use

When appraising real estate, valuers must value a property according to its highest and best use – which may be different to the current use of the property.

The highest and best use mantra is why the same property can spike in value overnight whenever there is a change in zoning laws – typically when these changes allow higher density development.

In a similar way, the Connection Economy has changed the underlying laws of business …

First Adwords, then SEO

Often when a new client engages us for Adwords search advertising, they usually engage an SEO agency at the same time.

Simultaneously working on both paid and unpaid Search makes complete sense from a project management point of view, but from an SEO point of view, which keywords do you optimise your site for?

This apparently simple question was made even more difficult since Google removed organic keyword results from Analytics …

Dvorak vs Qwerty

In 1868, when the typewriter was first invented, the keyboard was laid out in alphabetical order – which makes complete sense.

The problem here was that the type bars that strike the paper would often get jammed when particular letters were typed too quickly together in sequence.

The solution, was to separate these letters as far away from each other as possible on the keyboard, slowing down the typing process but reducing annoying jams as much as possible – enter, the QWERTY keyboard.

Of course, today, we don’t use typewriters nor do digital keyboards suffer from the jamming problem…

Amil Gargano quote on Content

“The medium is not the message. The message is the message. No matter what media you’re in, content…

The Real Mad Men

Mad Men may be in its final season but perhaps what’s even more remarkable is that The Real Men and Women of Madison Avenue back in the ‘golden days of advertising’ are …

Why April 1 isn’t so foolish

April Fools Day seemed particularly remarkable for marketers this year, not because of the number of pranks that brands pulled on consumers, or even the number of pranks that went viral, but because of the number of pranks that were actually *really* good ideas and perhaps shouldn’t be left as pranks.

* Google Maps turned the world into a giant game of Pac-Man – surely a million dollar plus idea/app if anyone else had come up with this, but just another day for Google.
* Game company Hyperkin, released a joke cover that turns an iPhone into a Gameboy …

To err is human

In an Industrial Economy, mistakes cost money. In fact, due to the assembly process, mistakes scale.

So in a bid to lower and get things absolutely perfect, we scrutinise our processes to eliminate mistakes. Fair enough.

In the Connection Economy, mistakes still cost money, but now we’re making mistakes in relationship.

Disrupt Yourself

If you had no legacy systems or existing supplier arrangements that you needed to honour, how would you disrupt yourself?

If you didn’t have to conform to current branding considerations and limitations, how would you disrupt yourself?

If you could change the products/services that you currently offer …

Rules vs Relationship

For millions around the world, he resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday marks the dawn of a new era.

Because of this day, faith is now no longer determined by our ability to obey a rigid set of impersonal commandments and rules.

Instead, a new way to know God has been made available, in the form of a relationship with Jesus.

Curiously enough, this Easter Sunday may be a good time for brands to take a leaf out of Jesus’ book…

Bill Bernbach quote on advertising

“I warn you against believing that advertising is a science.” – Bill Bernbach

Do you understand me?

Today most people consider the words ‘to understand’ to mean ‘to comprehend’.

In circus jargon, the understander is the person at the bottom who carries the full weight of the performers on top.

If I was to follow you on social media, do you understand me?

Number 2

By far, the biggest feedback we’ve had from blog subscribers is that they are so time poor, the only chance they get to read these posts is during breaks.

As I thought about this problem, I realised that there were a lot of breaks people take – breaks for lunch, breaks for a smoke, breaks between tasks – but then it hit me…

There lies the single biggest, consistent marketing opportunity in the Number 2 break.

Just think about it …

Don’t join the Conversation

Its accepted now that businesses need to be ‘part of the conversation’ – to see what their fans are talking about and join in.

If your goal is to merely join the conversation – don’t bother…

The death of the Water Cooler Conversation

Netflix’s arrival in Australia came with much fanfare, but really is just another step in a digital evolutionary progression.

Back in the day – before being able to stream movies live to our mobile was an expectation – the workers of our species had an ancient tradition passed down from generation to generation:

The Water Cooler Conversation.

Bill Bernbach quote on Ad Creative

“Always adapt your technique to the idea, never the idea to the technique” – Bill Bernbach

Excellence vs Love

What the world needs now is love, sweet love. It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of – Hal David & Burt Bacharat

Even if you’re in the market to dine for $525 per head before drinks, no matter how old you are, nothing compares to …

The Connection Test

Its easy to make the assumption that since your brand is on facebook or twitter, you’re automatically in the Connection Economy.

In reality, most brands are still actually Industrial brands struggling in a Connection environment.

Industrial marketing techniques may work in the short term, but fall well short of the highest and best use of the Web.

Here’s a simple 3 question test, to see if your brand is, in reality, a Connection Economy brand …


In an assembly line, waste is expensive.

To increase profits, we need to cut waste thereby improving efficiency.

In a relationship, however, waste is valuable.

What happens when we no longer need stuff?

One of the reasons why Industrial Age marketing worked on Baby Boomers was that they simply needed stuff.

During the post-war years, materials were scarce, money was tight and nobody had anything.

Stuff was shiny and new and needed.

One of the reasons why Industrial Age marketing is falling apart is (at least in the western world) we are now living in the opposite environment – stuff is cheap, plentiful and wasted.

We no longer need stuff.

We want stuff…

Tinker Hatfield on pushing boundaries

“I get in trouble a lot, which is a choice I made a long time ago” – Tinker…