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The Best Medicine

 

When I am asked what I do for a living, I often see people’s eyes glaze over when I answer with “digital marketing”. “Oh, you’re a computer guy”, I’ll hear right before they quickly try to change the subject but, as someone who doesn’t enjoy talking about myself, I am usually all too happy to move on to another topic.

Aside from the obvious boring aspects of our industry, the confusion, frustration, and fear exhibited by some clients (usually from generations that had little to no exposure to computers in their youth) sometimes just makes the whole experience unenjoyable, I imagine that dentists, accountants, and proctologists see similar responses to their professions.

Since this company’s inception, we have had over 16,000 clients so you can only imagine the variety of conversations our employees have had with clients and prospects alike. Here are some of our favorite funny stories(that we can share) from the past 14 years:

While cold calling years ago, I contacted a woman with a deep, raspy voice, who didn’t hear me identify the company I was calling from so she asked me again, “What’s the name of your company”? I replied, “Ideal Positions”. There was a silent pause for a few seconds to which she followed up with “Oooooooo, I’ll take TWO of those”.

The name of our company was intended to be provocative and continues to elicit a variety of responses.

Then, there’s the client who called me while sitting on the toilet and another time while he was in the shower, both times he felt the need to tell me exactly what he was doing.

Another time I called a client in Arizona to discuss her account and when I asked her how she was, she said (paraphrasing) “I’m good, just been running around my house in my underwear, high on Vicodin for the last 3 days”.

We once had the wife of client call us after seeing a $1000 charge on her husband’s credit card statement from “Ideal Positions”. Apparently, she thought we were an escort service but was relieved to learn that we are a marketing company. One gets the impression that hubby dearest may have previously been caught in a less than ideal position with a consultant that “handled” more than his marketing and a company that drove traffic to his hotel room instead of his website.

And finally, a funny internal story about our own Ian “Baby Girl” Davis:

The Ideal Positions office is lucky enough to be surrounded by fields, filled with grass, wild strawberries, and beautiful wildlife so, it’s no wonder that a lot of employees like to talk a walk outside during the day.

One day, while walking through one of the fields that surround the office, our Operations and Innovation Director Mara Grow found a small brown paper bag in the tall grass. Her curiosity piqued, she opened the bag to see what was inside, to her amazement she found a sandwich, a bottle of apple juice, a small bag of chips, and a napkin.  Obviously, someone had lost their lunch. About a block away from the office is a school bus stop, so it was safe to guess that a child had lost their lunch bag while walking to the bus stop.  Further confirming this was a handwritten note on the napkin, which read, “I love you baby girl!”

Mara returned to the office with the note, and showed it to several staff members – we all hoped that the intended recipient of the lunch was OK.  This prompted Mara to play a joke on Ian so, she left the apple juice and note on his desk.  Ian was puzzled about who had left him the note, but was (too) excited about getting the apple juice, and proceeded to drink it.  He then put the note in a prominent place on the shelves behind his desk, to remind him to find out who had left the items on his desk.

Other staff members saw the note and decided that “baby girl” would be a great nickname for him.  Ian, having the great sense of humor that he does, took the title and ran with it.  He is now affectionately known as Ian “Baby Girl” Davis around the office.

More shenanigans, tomfoolery, high jinks and monkey business to come.

 

Cheesy marketing joke of the week:

What’s the personality of a bad digital marketer?

Answer: Anti-social

Analyze This

 

Unless you’ve been hiding out in a cave, living on tree bark, rat meat and rainwater, you’ve probably heard of the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal. Regardless, chances are that you probably don’t care, as polls show that despite the alarming nature of the reports, most Facebook users seem indifferent to the news. According to Facebook C.E.O., Mark Zuckerberg, the social media giant hasn’t “felt any meaningful effect from the scandal”

At first, there were concerns that it would have a bleed over effect into our industry but, it has little to no impact, it seems that having “free” email and social media accounts is a fair trade for access to our lives. Has living in the age of information and technology numbed us, distracted us and/or made us apathetic to the fact that we are voluntarily being farmed for information? Our computers, smart t.v.s, and mobile devices are the nipples from which all the details of our lives are being milked. Sucked through phone, cable, fiber optic and wireless connections, our valuable data is being pasteurized and packaged for wholesale, and there is a big market for your sweet, creamy details. Cambridge may be the latest scandal but it certainly wasn’t the first and it definitely won’t be the last, for years now, Google and Yahoo have given the federal government access to your personal search history and there are more than a few private companies that have detailed files on every American.

 With the increase of  “fake news”, catfishing, internet scams, data breaches, document leaks, hacking and identity theft, it’s amazing that internet marketing is even a viable industry, let alone a thriving and growing medium. This is all the more reason to make sure your business is branded properly and any digital ads you may be running online aren’t confused for anything else. Also, it couldn’t hurt to use hack-resistant passwords for all of your online accounts and to change them semi-frequently.  

There may come a time when Americans get fed up with the constant bombardment of scams, ads and fake news but until then, it is imperative that your business has a clear, well-defined, confidence-inspiring brand and that any digital ads you are running are easily associated with your company, product and/or service. Ideal Positions can help your business navigate through the sometimes confusing and overwhelming task of creating and maintaining an effective internet marketing/branding campaign.

 

Cheesy marketing joke of the week:

What does the new Chips Ahoy marketing director do her first day on the job?

Answer: Enable cookies

Meet the Parents

 

With both Mother’s and Father’s Day generating big business and being roughly only a month apart, we thought we’d take advantage of the opportunity to run some new radio ads promoting the importance of businesses having a well-established web presence.

We had no parodies in mind for these two holidays so we set out to write some original content. The easy and safe thing to do would have been to grab a handful of low-hanging fruit and write some sappy, sentimental, Hallmark-y ads but, we went in kind of the opposite direction.

It’s Mother’s Day and you’re sitting at a nice restaurant with your mom, she is a newly minted business owner so you thought you’d get her a new website for her company. You’re a little nervous but also excited and now it’s time for the big reveal so, you present mom with your gift and await her reaction. Surprised and elated, mom raves about her beautiful new site, you feel relieved and proud, all is right in the world…….until mom realizes that the site isn’t being marketed. After looking for basic online listings and promotional ads, only to find none, mom’s attitude takes a turn for the worst and the whole tone of the conversation changes. A minute ago, you were basking in the warmth of your mother’s love and gratitude and now, your head is spinning, your stomach is turning and your dear, sweet mom is hammering with you a guilt-laden tirade consisting of disappointment, shame, and emotional manipulation. “Why can’t you be more like your sister?” “I spent 2 days in labor for this?!?!”, “I knew I should have given you up for adoption” and “I’m taking you out of my will” are some of the sweet things mom hurls back at you. Apparently, it’s true that no good deed goes unpunished.

For Father’s Day, we decided to go with a similar theme but it was the company president who came up with the idea to use the same abused, well-meaning but marketing-challenged (adult) son in that ad.

It’s early morning on Father’s Day, the sun is shining, birds are chirping and we find our subjects looking at the recently erected signage for their new construction business. Soft, sentimental piano music plays in the background as father and son admire the new sign and share their hope and enthusiasm for their budding young business…….until dad asks his boy how he spent the company marketing budget that he left him in charge of.

It’s here we learn that since the Mother’s Day gifting debacle, Junior’s mom disowned him and moved to India, as a result, he is in therapy 4 times a week and has been paying for it with the money his dad gave him to market their company.

Trying to contain his anger and disappointment, Dad launches into a passive-aggressive rebuke of his son’s misappropriation of their marketing funds and issues a veiled threat wrapped nicely inside a story about how Aztec parents punished their kids for making stupid decisions.

The saga of this incredibly unhealthy, dysfunctional family will not end there as we have plans for Junior to exact his revenge with a mic-dropping, emotional explosion at Thanksgiving dinner, later this year.

Stay tuned!

Below is a link to our radio ad gallery where you can listen to the aforementioned ads.

Radio Ads Produced by Ideal Positions

 

 

 

 

Generation “Y – Me”

 

Say what you want about them but Millennials are anything but typical and they are completely changing the way companies brand and market themselves. Call them soft, lazy, entitled snowflakes, in need of their wi-fi, iced mochas, mental health days and safe spaces but if you ignore them, you may quickly find yourself out of business.

The definition of a “Millennial” varies from website to website but for the sake of this blog, let’s just call them anyone born between 1982 and 1998. Also known as Generation “Y” or Generation “Me” and with about 83.1 million strong, Millennials have become the largest generation in the United States. Regardless of your opinions of them, they are a formidable segment of the consumer population and they have a big impact on the U.S. economy. Just ask companies like Budweiser or Sears what power the “Millies” have.

The most current research shows that Millennials are driving brands to produce more socially responsible marketing, also more personalized marketing, not just marketing for their “generation”, they also want to influence brands, they want their voices to be heard and unlike never before they are being heard because social media gives people access to corporate executives and decision makers. In addition to being influencers, they are also easily influenced by the rants and reviews of their friends and peers on social media.

According to a Nielsen rating report, less than 2% of Millennials channel surf during commercials, while watching tv. This is a significant shift in viewing habits from previous generations who doubled and quadrupled that percentage and it points directly to the rise in use of mobile devices. The report does indicate that Millennials still view television in the traditional sense but while frequently and simultaneously being tuned into TV-connected devices. Millennials also multitask while taking in media, they switch between devices frequently, from phones to tablets to laptops to smart TVs so, the need to market across multiple devices and platforms becomes even more important for advertisers. Being inundated by media, this generation has a general disdain for traditional tv ads, radio ads, and sales pitches, and they have learned to tune out much of it so, if you’re not advertising on mobile devices, your days in business are probably numbered.

Like never before, marketers have a window into our lives and lifestyles, our social groups, political and religious affiliations, hobbies, interests, family, friends, viewing, listening, spending and search habits and basically our personal histories. Because Millennials are most transparent about these aspects of their lives, it gives advertisers the ability to target them with more specificity but it also presents challenges because marketing to this demographic is more complicated than it has been to any previous generation.

According to Nielsen, a lot of Millennials polled said that they understand the need for ads and aren’t bothered by them (they just ignore them), but, the percentage jumps from 46% to 75% when the content the ads are attached to is free.

At the heart of all the research done on this generation, Millennials seem to want to be acknowledged as individuals, they want options and they want to feel connected, this shouldn’t be hard to understand.

Personally, I think most of criticism of “Millies” as a whole is unfair and overly harsh as I am not a fan of broad, sweeping generalizations, there are a couple of things that I really love about this group and many of my friends and family are of this generation. If you are a business owner and you plan to stay in business over the next decade, you must adapt your marketing strategy or you will likely find yourself serving low fat, organic, gluten-free, non-dairy, decaffeinated, free-trade, pumpkin spice, iced mocha frappuccinos to Millenials.

Baby’s First Complaint

It seems that these days people are just itching to be offended, stand-up comedians like Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld refuse to play college campuses anymore because of the hecklers yelling out hateful responses to everything they deem offensive or inappropriate. And now the selective outrage machine has rolled into the parking lot of Ideal Positions, it appears that a bleeped out curse word at the end of our most tame and benign radio ad has offended a couple of people (everyone else loved it) and it is the validation I’ve been waiting for as I truly believe that if you’re pissing the right people off, you’re on the right track. That doesn’t mean offending people by being a complete jerk, it just means eliciting an emotional response from the kinds of people who’s opinions you don’t really value and probably wouldn’t be working with anyway.

I consider myself to be a sensitive, woke and progressive person but even I am shocked at some of the things people choose to take personally. I find it endlessly funny that our Unsolved Mysteries ad is the one that caused a stir when there are plenty of other ads that are far more worthy of controversy. Burying a dead body, obesity, clearcutting forests, are just a few of the things poked fun at in some of our ads but a bleeped out word grabs all the attention. We didn’t use a racially insensitive word, we did not belittle or insult a protected class or offend any marginalized peoples, we did not attack anyone’s, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, country of origin, appearance, physical limitations, handicap or age, we bleeped out a common curse word……and it was funny

There have been more than a few pitch men fired over things they did personally but let’s take a look at some of the more controversial ads that have made the airwaves in recent years. Ads that were truly deserving of the backlash that followed.

Nationwide Insurance raised some eyebrows with their “dead boy” Superbowl ad which features a dead child talking about all the things he’ll never get to do because he died a preventable death that somehow could have been avoided if only his parents had Nationwide Insurance. The folks who made this ad should have sought a 2nd and a 3rd opinion before airing it, it’s nothing short of cringe-worthy. The ad itself is attached below, take a look for yourself.

Not long ago, Pepsi really pissed a lot of people off with a very controversial commercial that trivialized the Black Lives Matter movement and its star, Kendall Jenner became a lightning rod for the backlash that followed. It united millions across the country and the world wide web, the ad was quickly pulled from the airwaves. Pepsi really sh@t the bed on that one, hard to understand how that ad even made it to air, I’m thinking that somebody got fired for it, and rightfully so. If it was an ad agency that came up with that one, I wouldn’t be surprised if their contract was pulled. The ad is attached below

Dove Soap also got a big wtf? from decent people everywhere with a mind-boggling tv commercial showing African American women turning into white women after using their product, it was so beyond stupid and offensive that it will likely be talked about for years to come. Apparently, it is the 2nd time Dove has used this horrible idea for an ad and it was well deserving of the boycott that followed.

The geniuses at Nivea also screwed the pooch with their “white is purity” slogan. No more really needs to be said about that.

And lastly, Mcdonald’s really made a McPoopy with a grief-focused ad featuring a son asking his mother about his dead father, only to be told that the one thing the boy and his dad had in common was a love of Fillet-o-Fish sandwiches. This ad wasn’t nearly as bad as the aforementioned but still offended plenty of people, personally, I think it was just stupid.

I will be covering more head-scratching ads in my next blog but make sure to say tuned for posts from Ian Davis and Maile Collier.