Silly Season Sanity: Tips for Marketing During an Election Cycle

The silly season (i.e. political campaign and election cycle) has been upon us for a while, and it is only going to heat up over the next few months heading into what will be a historic presidential election no matter what happens. If you are a marketer in a contested state like Wisconsin, you may be wondering, “Is it even worth putting your message out there among the political ads and news coverage?” The answer is “yes.”

Here are a few tips for helping your brand not only survive, but thrive during silly season:

  1. Choose your media wisely: political campaigns spend most of their dollars on broadcast and cable TV.  That means that with increased demand and decreased availability, rates will go up. You may find yourself bumped for someone paying more money, or you might have to pay higher rates to keep your schedule intact. If you usually run a TV flight in the fall, you might want to consider radio, outdoor or online/mobile strategies instead. HOWEVER…if you do decide to use TV, your message will likely stand out as a refreshing change from a sea of politics, so it could be worth the extra budget.
  2. Piggyback off of preferences: candidates can be known for certain preferences, such as favorite foods or sports. Do you have a product or a service that might take advantage of that? If so, then use it. For example, Ronald Reagan was known to love jelly beans. The Jelly Belly factory (visitor’s center and warehouse are in Kenosha, WI) supplied Reagan with jelly beans all eight years of his presidency and sales grew exponentially. Thomas Jefferson and Jimmy Carter were peanut farmers – peanut and peanut-related product sales grew significantly as a result.
  3. Stay above the fray: watch what you post on social media about politics and political candidates, especially if it could be perceived as disrespectful. It can get back to clients and customers. Best to follow the rule, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything.”
  4. Timing is everything: while it’s probably not ideal to launch a new product on November 8, 2016, remember that November 9-11 might still be crowded with all the pent-up marketing that has been waiting until that day is done. November 14-23 is likely to be a grand time for advertising and PR for your product or service.
  5. Believe in your message: if you believe in your message and its value, then keep the word out there, no matter how silly this election season gets. Someone will be grateful you did and reward you with their customer loyalty.

Radiohead and The Art of Creating Questions



Like most record-player-owning-Instagram-users, I have Instagrammed a few pictures of my record player playing a record. Like most people’s posts of this sort, mine have represented little more than “Ooh, isn’t it interesting that I’m listening to an Aretha Franklin record while I’m doing my dishes?!” However, when people associated with a mysterious megaband post pictures like this, the resulting reaction is much bigger than the 4-7 “likes” I usually receive.

Radiohead front man, Thom Yorke, and Radiohead producer, Nigel Godrich, both recently posted a cryptic record player photo to social media. The photo features an unidentified white record spinning on a record player that sits on a dirty table, along with a power strip and a small stack of black-and-white art prints.

In response, Radiohead fans and music fans in general have started asking questions and offering speculative answers about what the photo is supposed to mean. New Radiohead album? New Thom Yorke album? Thom Yorke is listening to an Aretha Franklin record while he’s doing the dishes?

If Radiohead really is releasing a new album sometime in the near future, they could have simply put out a press release saying so. Instead, they’ve chummed the fanatical waters with the mere possibility of a new album, and have caused a wildfire of conversation about it.

The same mysterious process can’t necessarily be applied to all marketing plans, but the concept of whetting appetites by creating questions is somewhat universal. As a business (or band), you want to encourage the growth of curiosity about your product and develop that into legitimate interest and ultimately sales. You want to give prospective customers something to chew on and consider, not just a fact or facts that might just be forgotten.

What sort of questions do you want people to ask about your business?

Creating a Successful Ending

By Cathy Looze

Last Forever: Part One


First, let me say, I liked the ending of How I Met Your Mother.  I was not among those vocal fans who felt betrayed by the creators.  Nor do I think the creators of that or any series “owe” it to the fans to have stories go the way they want.  All fans are owed is a solid storyline that is well-written, engaging and supported by good acting.  Imagine if fans dictated everything ever written or products that are produced.  Would Ingrid Bergman have gotten on that plane, leaving Humphrey Bogart on the tarmac?  Would Rhett have said “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” to Scarlett?   Would disposable diapers have attained market share if the environmentalists had their say when Pampers was introduced?  There’s a point, I promise.

As social media has evolved, it’s given people a chance to express themselves while engaging with the brand, and in doing so, they expect the brand to address their concerns.  And many brands do take notice.  Some go to the extreme, like the HIMYM creators who put together an alternate ending to their finale to address their fans’ complaints, but many embrace it as a way to gauge what their buyers are thinking. Social Media Marketing research reports that 58.4% of companies use Twitter to monitor their brand.  But the question is: Does a company or brand know that these comments/complaints reflect the majority of what their customers think?

One issue with Social Media is that despite the constant references to it in the media, a relatively small percentage of the population uses it on a daily basis.  Numbers can vary depending upon which research company is quoted, but as the Pew Research Group is a non-partisan entity, let’s use their numbers.  According to their 2013 Social Media Update published in December 2013, Facebook is the undisputed leader, used by about 71% of online adults with 63% accessing it daily. 18% of Americans have a Twitter account with 46% of those accessing it daily.  Pinterest, Instagram have levels similar to that of Twitter.  So, yes, companies that talk to these people on social media sites reach an audience that is engaged, expressive and influential, but they aren’t talking to those who don’t use these outlets.  In other words, on social media, you’re talking to people who already know you – but those outlets don’t invite others to get to know you.

Told you I’d get to the point – which is that any marketing plan that uses only Social Media is excluding those that aren’t on Facebook or use Twitter.  A truly integrated plan must not only talk to your core customer, but encourage and invite others to try your product, service, TV show, in order to continue to grow and succeed.  Look at the big guys and you’ll see they already know that – McDonald’s, Coca Cola, The Gap, – all use traditional media in addition to Social Media, to help move their brands forward.

So, when you come to us saying you want to put all your marketing efforts into Social Media, don’t be surprised if we respond with, “that’s a good idea, but….”

Learn to Laugh a Little

Some of the best advertising done involves humor. Nothing gets people talking like a clever advertisement that makes you laugh. One recent commercial that comes to mind is done by Taco Bell, for their new breakfast menu. Various men across the country try the new breakfast items, all sporting the name “Ronald McDonald.” Get it? Ronald McDonald loves Taco Bell breakfast?! Great stuff.

Taco Bell’s twitter account is pretty hilarious too; if you’ve got some time to kill, check out @TacoBell.

And which Super Bowl commercials generate the most buzz? The ones that make us laugh out loud. People want to find things that make them laugh, so why not provide this while promoting your product? It’s a win, win.

There seems to be a barrage of inspirational, tear jerker advertisements out there right now. While these advertisements have their place, all the stock nature videos or scientists working hard on curing the world of its ills, can start to blend together.

I don’t know about you, but I won’t be sharing the ad of the business people talking at a round table, on any social media accounts of mine. But I did send the Taco Bell commercial via Google chat to a group of friends.


So, when given the opportunity, it usually bodes well to lighten up and learn to laugh a little.



MAM blog

Happy Milwaukee Day! For those who don’t know, April 14th is recognized by an increasing number of locals as “Milwaukee Day”. Why? Because…

April 14 = 4/14 ≈ 414 = the area code of Milwaukee County (and bits of Waukesha County).

And, depending on how your Excel spreadsheet is set to identify dates, you might also write April 2014 as 4/14, so we actually find ourselves right in the middle of “Milwaukee Month”, as well.

Milwaukee Day is a time to celebrate what makes our geographic area so special. Go to a Milwaukee Brewers game, walk through the Milwaukee Art Museum, and shop at the Milwaukee Public Market – but that’s just the beginning. There are dozens of area events, music venues, restaurants, coffee shops, parks, museums, bars, libraries, record stores, bike trails, and quirky little gas stations that sell fried chicken that you’ve yet to visit.

But really, this is all stuff you should do every day (except Brewer games, which will only run through October this year). Let Milwaukee Day be your springboard into an ongoing exploration of the local richness that exists 365 days a year.

Local businesses, the responsibility falls largely onto you, too. People are generally creatures of habit, and will continue to visit their customary haunts until someone or something prompts them to do otherwise. Some local media sources are very thorough with their stuff-to-do coverage, and draw attention to even the lesser known businesses when it’s warranted.  Those recommendations will only go so far, though, if you don’t also inform your fellow Milwaukeeans that you’re here, you’re awesome, and that you can’t wait for them to visit.

So, Milwaukee, don’t let April 14th be your one capsule of local enthusiasm for the year. Let it be the beginning of a more engaged Milwaukee Life. Get out of your comfort zone a little, and enjoy, but only after you’ve finished filing your tax return!

Why do you have a website?

Like the rest of your marketing toolbox, the purpose of your website generally can be traced back to “maximizing profits”. This may seem overly crass, but of course, the details of the execution here are crucial. Depending on the industry, maximizing profit may look a lot different on a case-by-case basis. It’s important to figure out early on in the web design process how your website is intended to support your overall marketing efforts. The important question is:

What do you want people to do, and how easy is it to do that?

Say we’ve got three different clients looking for websites. The first makes custom smartphone accessories and wants to sell them directly to consumers. The second is a fairly well-established tool & die manufacturer looking to secure its position as an industry leader, and accrue new clients. The third is a local restaurant looking to bolster their marketing with a website.

Our smartphone accessory maker wants people to buy their accessories. They’ll need a mobile site that loads lightning-fast, with great pictures of their products in action, and an easy way to buy them. These users are bandwidth-constrained, so we’ll reduce the overhead of the site as much as possible by optimizing images or using other techniques to get a suitable aesthetic while providing a great user experience. Their e-commerce solution will need to be fast, easy to use, and thoroughly integrated with the site. They want people buying their accessories, so we remove every little bit of friction possible from that process.

In the case of the tool & die manufacturer, they’ll be emphasizing business-to-business marketing. We’ll want the site to work well on smartphones & tablets, but that probably won’t be our primary concern. We may need to pay extra attention to compatibility with older browsers, as their clients may not be on the cutting edge. We want to make information about the company readily accessible, and give good reasons for companies in need of manufacturing assistance to consider them first. It’s also important to consider how people in the business search for manufacturing partners, and tailor the web content to that. On top of that, we want to make it easy for their potential clients to become actual clients. We’ll streamline the contact form, and recommend that they name someone specific to be in charge of responding to submissions within hours.

Restaurants want people to visit them, order a lot of food, and tip well. For some reason, many restaurant websites do nothing to help these goals. Much like the smartphone accessory maker, it’s crucial to tailor this site to at least be accessible by smartphones. After all, if a group of friends is out & about and trying to decide on a dinner destination for the evening, we don’t want them going elsewhere because they can’t find the restaurant’s address, hours, or menu on their site. So we make a nice quick site with all that information quickly & readily accessible.

As you can see, the goals of any given website could vary wildly. With this in mind, careful consideration of your goals is essential as you add a website to your marketing efforts.

Measuring your PR: what is relevant to you?

Written by Laura Monagle, APR

“I spend alot of time tracking all of our media mentions, but no one ever really looks at this stuff.”

That’s a common feeling among our clients. We all want measurement, but it’s hard to decide what data is relevant. There’s a great deal of activity on a global basis in the PR world regarding standardization of PR and media relations measures. The Institute for Public Relations just came out with interim standards for media analysis and metrics. If you want to see the full report, visit .

I am completely in support of these efforts. However, like all measurement, the most important data points are those that relevant. And the definition of relevant is in the eye of the beholder. So, where do you even start? Here are some initial suggestions:

1. Decide what is relevant and useful to you. Are you in a controversial industry, a crisis or volatile episode in your company’s history? Then positive, negative or neutral tone in coverage is important to you. Are there certain keywords and key messages you want covered that support your other marketing & advertising efforts? Then track and measure those. Are you trying to forge relationships with new journalists or outlets? Then measure how many of those have begun to cover your organization or call you for comment. 

2. Decide what is relevant and useful to the people to whom you report. Let’s be honest. The CEO or CFO might not appreciate the same measures as a PR pro. So finding out what’s valuable to that person is just as important as what you and I want to know. If it’s garnering more mentions than the biggest competitor, track it and report it. If it’s a huge binder full of clips that makes him or her happy, make it happen. Once you have their interest and attention by meeting their expectations, only then can you begin to get a CEO excited about other ways your coverage is meaningful. 

3. The more you can track your efforts directly to bottom line results, the better. This is the hardest one of all, but it’s the PR jackpot. Do orders for a particular product increase during the time your story or release on that product hits the media? Did you receive a call or e-mail from a potential client who specficially mentioned your article in the business news? Do you notice that you have more leads and referrals coming in from people who said they heard about you from a news story? Make sure you’re trying to capture this information as part of the sales process, and you’ll enjoy the truest measure of success. 

Remember that the data you’re collecting should be helping you decide how and where to focus your PR energy. If you have ideas or thoughts on media relations measurement, I’d love to hear them.


Father’s Day Marketing Ideas: Father’s Day Provides Entrepeneurs and Opportunity to increase Sales with Creative Marketing Ideas

(PRWEB) June 06, 2012

Father’s Day is not just a national day of gratitude for dads everywhere; it also represents a great opportunity for entrepreneurs to use creative father’s day marketing ideas to increase profits. Marketing expert, Charles Gaudet, founder of, encourages business owners to leverage this holiday to create a marketing event aimed at driving more sales to businesses.

“Spouses, children and grandparents will be actively looking to buy something for ‘the guy that has it all.’ As entrepreneurs, it’s our job to think of creative Father’s Day marketing ideas to help our customers’ buying decision easier as well as make the day as special as possible for their dads,” says Gaudet. “A properly executed marketing idea could produce a windfall of profits for a business.”

Restaurants, clothing retailers and sports stores commonly are the first to come to mind when looking to spend money on dad; however, Gaudet suggests creative entrepreneurs any industry can use this holiday to boost profits regardless of the business.

Read more:

The happier we are, the more successful we will be.

Written by Daniel Mager, Staples Marketing

I can’t take full credit for the point of this blog entry since it was motivated by a post an old prep school friend of mine put up on Facebook today.  The reason I’m putting it up is that I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what makes someone successful in the advertising business, and life for that matter.  It comes down to the approach someone takes, how they handle adversity, and the persistence necessary to be successful.  All of this equals being HAPPY with what you’re doing, with the happiness leading to success.  You don’t find many successful marketers who are unhappy doing what they’re doing.  So that leads me to post what I think is a pretty helpful reminder that the happier we are, the more successful we will be.  You might find that you’ll be able to make a few slight course corrections yourself after reading the article, leading to a happier, more productive career: