The ADD & ADHD Marketing Advantage

The ADD & ADHD Marketing Advantage

vector-of-a-cartoon-fast-businessman-on-wheels-outlined-coloring-page-by-ron-leishman-18524You are in the marketing communications business. Your brain has to move at warp speed given today’s fast-paced digital marketing options. You have to juggle one or more intense client requirements and needs. Everything is coming at you. This is OK and you really dig it. You like the variety of your challenges.

There is a decent chance that you have some form of ADD or ADHD. I’ve always thought that I (as well as my marketing colleagues) have ADD / ADHD  or, what my friend Peter Shankman calls Fast Brain. Hmmmm, I like the sound of Fast Brain.

To learn more about Peter’s take on ADD and ADHD and how this is a benefit, not a malaise, head over to his website Faster Than Normal.

download ddAnd, for a more direct take on ADD and your marketing life, read my interview with Peter on HubSpot’s marketing blog: How ADHD Gave This Tech Founder a Creative Advantage.”

Here is my conclusion:

Adapting Marketing Strategies for Distraction

I am sure that many of you digital marketers were perpetually distracted students like me. I was the type of student that was bored and whose grades never matched his potential. After all, I really didn’t want to have to take biology to fulfill my college science prerequisites.

Fortunately, I managed to find my way to art college and eventually to a long career in advertising and digital marketing — the perfect industry for fast brains.

Shankman thinks that 40% of the population has some degree of ADHD. If this is so (and I agree), then we should consider how to bake this important consumer insight into our marketing strategies.

Of course, this isn’t groundbreaking news. We are well aware of the effect of device distraction and content marketing overload. However, I seldom see marketing communications professionals sit their clients down and tell them that they really only have nano-seconds to deliver a sales proposition. I am talking about the critical importance of having an ‘unignorable’ sales proposition — not just an ad tech solution.

So, go forth and Fast Brain your day.


How To Own A Brand Positioning

Ah, The Brand Positioning – How Are You Going To Own Yours?

Screen Shot 2017-03-04 at 8.55.44 AMAll of the medium to small advertising, PR, design and digital agencies I work with (even network agencies) are by nature, challenger brands. As in, they are not R/GA or Droga 5 or 72andSunny or today’s hottest – pick your current digital-flavor-of-the-month specialist. I’m sure you know what challenger brand means and that is one of your potential brand positionings but… Here is a nice clear definition of challenger brand from

A challenger brand is a company or product brand in an industry that is not the category leader. The term denotes the fact that such companies have to play from a position behind the dominant player or leader in an industry. This makes the process of marketing significant to attracting customers.

The nurturing of challenger brands is one of the marketing agency positionings that I’ve discussed on this blog and with many of my agency clients. No, it is not a brand new proposition. But, it has power since most brands are by nature challenges and, as stated above, marketing is critical to elevating a challenger brand to brand leadership. This makes having a dedication to helping challenger brands a winning proposition.

Eat Bigger Smaller Fish

Screen Shot 2017-03-03 at 9.36.38 PMI have been following the challenger brand consultancy Eat Big Fish for years. They are without question the leading consultancy in this space and their leader Adam Morgan is the numero uno voice of the challenger brand market. I have used Eat Big Fish in my agency business development recommendations as one of the benchmark agencies that I believe represents a best of class B2B marketer. As in, how they market themselves under, inside and around their positioning umbrella.

Eat Big Fish is an excellent example of a marketing company that has a single-minded sales proposition, a well-defined market and a dedication to thought leadership that… makes them, without question, the thought leader, “I must talk to them” leader in their category.

How They Do It

I think that, no, I know that, EBF (I hope they don’t mind the abbreviation, I just don’t like typing ‘fish’ too often) can offer some direction for all agencies.

EBF nailed their approach to a large hungry market. And, they appear to be early in. Or, even better, they market themselves so well, that they look like they were early in.

They nailed their brand name and logo. Ah, the British and branding.

They nailed their messaging.


  • Adam Morgan established his credentials in 2009 by writing the book, “Eating The Big Fish”.
  • Their latest book, “A Beautiful Constraint”, speaks directly to today’s time and resource scarcity. Here is how they describe the book: “A Beautiful Constraint is a book about everyday, practical inventiveness, designed for the constrained times in which we live. It describes how to take the kinds of issues that all of us face today — lack of time, money, resources, attention, know-how — and see in them the opportunity for transformation of oneself and one’s organization’s fortunes.” Oh, they have two more books. I like ‘agencies’ that write books. Here’s is a blog post on how to do that.
  • EBF has a hard to resist sales proposition: “We enable ambitious brands of all shapes and sizes to do more more with less.” Um like, what client would you want that isn’t ambitious and would just love it if you offered them a high ROI?
  • Their Our Work section delivers on their strategic focus and client benefits. Nice, clear and concise. Like, if you were a big brand, why wouldn’t you give these guys a call? Plus, they sound like they play nice with the other children – they fit in seamlessly between the brand and the brand’s agency.
  • EBF’s thought-leadership is, well, thoughtful. This series is timely, thought-provoking, insightful, and fun to read. It would be of interest to any client out there: “Challengers To Watch In 2017”. Cool! I love this one — Impossible Foods. Imagine trying to challenge the all-beeeeeef burger.
  • They give good videos. Check out their Speeches page.
  • They nail client testimonials. Most agency client testimonials are — boring. These are not.

And… you should subscribe to their newsletter. You’ll see why after you get one. The pitch: “Sign up to The Challenger Project and get our monthly roundup of challenger inspiration every last Friday.”

One thing I dig about their approach is that their focus is on sharing the insights and stories from the broader world of challenger brands.  Whether client or not, eatbigfish get out of the way of the story.

Inspiring in an agency world where we just cannot stop talking about ourselves. Ya know what I mean?

Surprise: Inbound Marketing Works

Inbound Marketing Works

Blue IMG_3092Some inbound marketing tips about half way down. But, ya know, I just gotta start with a story.

OK, no big surprise here… I just have to say it. Inbound marketing does work. Why am I bringing up this subject that you probably think about every day? Because I have been starting to see some thinking that the overabundance of marketing content and SEO activity, especially in your B2B space (I am talking about advertising agency business development), is reducing the effectiveness of inbound. Well, it is. In fact, all forms of marketing appear to be less effective for the average marketer. But, here is the deal. A hefty segment of inbound marketers are clearly winning. They are winning because of their strategic approach, well-targeted tactics and, most importantly, how they execute. The winners use both best practices and the objective of being unignorable.

Some background.

My wife and I are building a house down here in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. It will kinda look like the photo on the left – more windows and a different color. Click on the link to see why we moved down here and how (yes, I know that some of you have thought about leaving the USA too — shhhh, I won’t tell). As new house builders and ones that will need to purchase a bunch of furniture because we totally downsized when we left Portland OR last July, we need some new stuff. This got me thinking that I’d rather have people like you buy my services and send me cash vs. simply raiding my savings. Therefore, I ramped up my inbound marketing about a month ago to slightly increase my leads. Because, yes you know this is coming… Inbound works.

The Inbound Marketing Switch

images sssOver the past four weeks, I’ve gotten inbound leads from advertising agencies in Sweden, Dubai, Adelaide, Botswana, San Jose, San Francisco, Seattle, Atlanta, and Toledo. I’ve even gotten incoming from multi-national networks.

I got these seemingly random, but very hot global leads because I flipped the inbound switch. A switch I found in 1995.

I have been doing social media and inbound marketing since the mid-90’s. Without getting into great detail, my first web business was New Jersey Online, a very early news website. We used social media in the form of viewer forums about New Jersey and New York sports (the Giants, Jets, Knicks, Nets, Islanders, Rangers and Devils, oh and the Yankees and Mets) and all the local kid’s sports teams and entertainment to capture the attention of a huge audience. We added daily content from four news sources (they were called newspapers). We grew an audience that  was even larger than the New York Time’s website (I love saying this.) We won the New Jersey / New York metro battle by using social media, the power of sharing and… inbound marketing.

Back To Today

Here are the the switches I’ve thrown since January. No, no secrets here. It is just about execution and online sales pressure. I offer these as a reminder that targeted inbound marketing activity begets sales lead activity.

  • I’ve been posting more often. Some are long posts repurposed from other thought-leadership platforms I’ve used.
  • I’ve been amplifying and reposting my current and past best read posts beyond my website via my newsletter, linkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
  • I agreed to speak at my client Hannapin Marketing’s big Los Angeles PPC Hero Conference. They have promoted me.
  • Because of the speaking gig, I was interviewed by Paul Wicker of the super-smart ad tech company ADSTAGE.
  • A very large multi-office agency (one I am going to give a pitching seminar to) decided to tell all of their execs to buy my book on pitching and then get reimbursed. February was one of my best selling months. The book, actually an outbound strategy, gets the word out.
  • HubSpot is about to run another one of my guest posts and they just invited me to present on one of their large international webinars.


So, my message is simple. Inbound activity works. Google likes it and they grant you better search positioning (FYI: it took Google less than an hour to crawl this page). Increased activity stimulates the readers of your emails, Facebook page, LinkedIn Followers and your groups. Stimulation with the right content to the right people delivers sales leads.


And, since I know you like infographics, here is a crisp one from StraightNorth. As they say,”The Internet marketing lead generation ecosystem illustrates how all components fit together to form cohesive campaigns. It is intended to give marketing leaders a blueprint for building a complete Internet marketing strategy that maximizes sales lead generation.”


Podcast: 7 Tips for Ad Agency Professionals

A Podcast Interview: My 7 Marketing Tips For Ad Agency Professionals

Screen Shot 2017-02-21 at 10.31.43 AMI’ve discussed the great value of guest posting in earlier blog posts. The primary advantage is that you get your post and thinking out to a much larger audience than you would get by just posting on your company website.

Another way to get your message out there is to be interviewed by a company that is interested in what you have to say. In a recent case, I was interviewed by Paul Wicker of the super-smart ad tech company ADSTAGE. Here is how they describe their marketing platform. Cross-channel campaign creation and performance in seconds

Identical Workflows for Cross-Network Campaign Creation

Create campaigns faster with a simplified and seamless flow across Google, Bing, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter Ads. We support the most popular ad formats on each network so you can make most sense for your online ad campaigns.

Bottomline is that they can help you to better manage your multi-platform campaigns…. and isn’t that a very nice thing.

My PPC Show Interview

You can listen to the PPC Show interview and see the synopsis right here on ADSTAGE’s website. Below are a couple of the more (if I do say so myself) salient points… If you have been reading my blog, you know that these are two of my major business development recommendations.

  1. “We’re in a world where specialization wins.” If you’re looking to start your own agency, know that clients are looking for specialists. We’re no longer in the grand old days where agencies were either television, print, or radio. Know your specialty and make sure clients know it, too.
  2. “Your website HAS to be a sales tool.” So many agencies fall into the trap of turning their websites into fun, creative projects or brochures. While that’s all well and good, if your website is not set up to make a sale, then it’s not doing much for you. Sales is a 24-7 game now and your website is doing a lot of that work for you. Make sure it’s set up that way.

I hope you enjoy the interview. And, don’t forget to take a look at ADSTAGE’s ad tech tools and dashboard. I love dashboards…

Screen Shot 2017-02-21 at 10.43.19 AM

6 Business Development Referral Strategies

6 Business Development Referral Strategies To Get, Well, You Know

Screen Shot 2017-02-18 at 11.17.05 AMMost of the advertising agencies that take me up on my Corleone Offer usually tell me that the majority of their client base growth comes from a positive client, friends, and family business development referral.

Perfect! A referral is a VERY hot lead.

However, for way too many agencies, referrals are a default sales tool. They get most of their new clients via referrals because they are not doing other forms of hard core sales. Simply put, they do not have a tight manageable sales plan that includes both in and outbound marketing.

But, the issue of the paucity of sound agency sales plans is another story. This post is all about how to goose referrals so you get all of the ones your agency deserves.

The secret? Be proactive… Ask and ye shall receive.

Referral Strategies

A key to having a robust referral strategy is to make sure that your current clients are aware that you actually want referrals. Referrals from happy customers are one of best ways that B2B companies generate new business. OK, this isn’t a huge surprise. However, what is surprising how few companies have a dedicated strategy for fostering these valuable personal hand-offs.

4 Obvious, Yet Wonderful Benefits Of A Referral

A referral is a white-hot lead. If we assume that your happy customers are savvy enough to recommend you to the right potential customer then you are well on your way to establishing a valuable conversation and a new business win.

The closing ratio of referrals is higher (it has been reported that the closing-ratio of a referral is 6 times greater than an unqualified lead.)

For the obvious reason that a referred prospect is generally a very motivated buyer, the referral-generated sales cycle can be as much as 75% shorter.

A referral strategy is cost-effective and will reduce your sales expenditures – free is good. Free is a great place to start.

6 Effective ‘Active’ Referral Strategies

I’ve generated referrals from existing clients and customers using the following set of strategies. Given the fact that you are talking to happy customers or friends, these strategies will be a very efficient use of your “sales” effort.

  1. Start with an objective. Know what increase in referrals you are targeting and what type of clients you want. Unqualified referrals are not a good thing.
  2. Determine which of your clients or friends, these could be people you talk with or people you stay in touch with on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are contacts that might know the people or businesses on your prospect list. Do the research to help your clients help you.
  3. Go ahead… ask for referrals. Some referrals come because your client or buddy is specifically asked if they know of a good company in a your business category. Some come because your customers love you so much they actively ‘sell’ you. Some need to be stimulated to think about how to help you. It’s OK to ask. It is also wise to let them know what type of referral you are looking for. Take away as much guess work as you can. Make it easy for them to refer you. But, do not overdo it. Clearly, you do not what your clients to feel burdened.
  4. However, before you ask, make sure that your current clients are motivated to refer your service or products. I’ve written about how to determine which of your clients might be referral magnets. Check out: Is Your Agency Loved?
  5. You might need a bit of time to massage your clients through the delivery of unexpected services ahead of directly asking for their help. As they say, give and ye shall receive.
  6. A big must. If you get a referral, make sure that you keep the referrer informed about your conversations and any progress. Don’t forget to say thank you. If you actually win new business, you might want to consider sending a gift as follow-up.

Referrals are nice, but one eventually runs out of friends with friends. How to deal with this unfortunate fact? Have a broader sales plan.