The P&G Family of Brands

I graduated from American University in 1996 with a degree in “Interdisciplinary Studies”.   Basically, I got four minors – Communication, Law, Economics and Government.  We called it “CLEG” for short.

I really liked my “major”.  I took interesting classes and had a lot of thoughtful political debates.  But, when I was a senior, I realized I didn’t have a direction for my post-college career.  In other words, I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do when I grew up.

One of my favorite classes was about political advertising.  I remember doing a faux-ad campaign for the presidential election in ’96 (Clinton vs. Dole).  So, I was intrigued by the idea of working in advertising.  As luck would have it, I networked my way into an entry-level job at Saatchi & Saatchi in New York City after I graduated.  I was an “Assistant Account Executive” making $24,000/year. Read More

Skinny Jeff

Skinny Jeff. I miss my hair.

When I was in high school, I played basketball every day.  I was really skinny.  I could eat whatever I wanted and I definitely did not have a healthy diet.  Plus, I had a huge appetite.  There were never leftovers in my house.

But, as I got older, I played less basketball and still ate the same quantity of food.  The result was that I gained weight.  I just started buying bigger pants and baggy shirts.

Then when my wife was pregnant with our first child, I started to gain “sympathy weight”.  Meaning that I would eat more to match my wife’s pregnancy weight gain with some pounds of my own.  Then my wife had the baby and the weight just melted off her.  For me, it wasn’t so easy.  Below you can see a picture from when I was overweight. Read More

Social Media Anxiety

Social Media Anxiety

“Let’s do a b2b Facebook page,” I said, thinking it would be a relatively simple thing to get off the ground.

I mean, there’s really no cost to launch a page. You just have do some light graphics work, package up your content and than you’re off to the races, right?

Wow, was I wrong.

Launching a b2b Facebook page for AutoTrader.com was a surprising challenge that has opened my eyes to the broad impact social media has across an organization.

When we started the planning process, we identified a few key internal stakeholders we needed to engage with for the project. But as people started to find out what we were doing, it really snowballed. We had multiple people from different departments that wanted a seat at the table.

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RIP Sales Funnel

Rest in peace sales funnel. You had a good run.

Sales and marketing frameworks can be useful, and there is no more commonly used framework than the traditional “sales funnel” that we all know and love. You know, the diagram where customers come into the top of the funnel, then good sales and marketing people gradually move them down until they are ready to buy.

Wouldn’t it be nice if it really worked that way? It would certainly make our jobs a lot easier.

But the reality is that there is no funnel. Sure, there’s always a beginning and an end to a customer-purchase process. Customers do eventually come out at the bottom of the “funnel.” But what they do during that journey can vary dramatically by industry, by company, by function and by individual.

I’ll give you an example: Back when I worked at AutoTrader.com, we studied car-shopping behavior. Conventional wisdom said that shoppers would start their process considering a number of cars that could meet their needs. As they got closer to a purchase, they would narrow that down to fewer and fewer cars until they settled on the one they want. Makes total sense, right? Read More

M&A can be painful.

M&A can be painful.

On Sunday I learned about the potential merger of Publicis and Omnicom group.

During my career, I spent time working at agencies owned by both holding companies – Saatchi & Saatchi (Publicis), Trial DDB (Omnicom) and OMD (Omnicom).  I also worked at Euro RSCG which is owned by HAVAS and Kirshenbaum, Bond & Partners owned by MDC.  So, I’ve done the rounds across the various holding companies.  Based on my experience working in agencies and as a client who has hired many agencies, I do not see this merger as a positive.  Here are a few of the reasons why:

1) It’s not about the clients: We hire ad agencies to develop creative solutions to complex business problems.  When I hire an agency, I want the team to focus on my business.  I don’t want them to be distracted by holding company M&A activity that doesn’t make a difference to my business.  Also, when Omnicom-Publicis talk about efficiencies that will produce $500 million in savings, that means one thing — layoffs.  When advertising people are threatened by layoffs, they’ll often start talking to headhunters and looking for the next gig.  As a client, having a lot of turnover on the team that manages our account is a bad thing. Read More

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