“Why do most creative agencies’ web sites look eerily
like? Should a creative shop treat itself like a client?”
“This is a great question. The answers are that (a) agencies are
following each other instead of the market; and (b) agencies need to do a better
job of looking at their businesses through the clients’ (and prospective
clients’) eyes instead of indulging their creative/artistic fantasies.
Ever notice how so many agencies’ sites start with a long/pointless flash
intro? That is a good example of not recognizing that site visitors want to
locate info not be shown a short film.”
Why am I posting this now? Because, while the problem has gotten a bit
better, I notice that all to often it still exists. So next time you see a
useless flash intro that is preventing you from getting to the content you want,
contact the site’s owner, publisher, webmaster (whatever happened to that
title anyway?) and make your feelings known!
Bob London is President of London, Ink, a B2B marketing and
communications consulting firm based in the Washington, DC area. He can be
reached at bob (at) londonink (dot) com.
London, Ink isn’t a PR firm but in order to help clients prioritize
marketing/comm initiatives it’s a necessity to be familiar with a wide
range of marketing tools, services, agencies, etc. I’m also always
looking for creative ways to promote London, Ink in cost-effective, targeted
For those reasons, last year I started using the Vocus
Small Business Edition (aka SBE–a version of PRWeb), an online pr
management tool that is a scaled down version of Vocus’ widely-used
flagship platform. My hypothesis was that, without much investment in time or
money, sending out a series of releases on London, Ink news (client
announcements, speaking engagements, new hires) would increase the number of
quality mentions of “London, Ink” across the web and of course
quality (in the eyes of Google’s algorithm) inbound links to my site.
(A side note: I don’t rely on SEO for inbound lead gen, but ever since
Discovery launched the hit tattoo/reality program called “London
Ink,” my links have been pushed way down.)
Each release took a few minutes to queue up–Vocus allowed me to target
by geography, topic of the release, type of reporter and name of media outlet. I
was also able to incorporate a video interview I participated in with Shashi
Bellamkonda, Network Solutions’ Social Swami. I was able to easily
link the releases to my various online channels, including LinkedIn, Facebook,
Twitter and, of course, my site.
My hypothesis turned out to be correct. After my second Vocus release, the
search engine rankings for London, Ink improved and they continued to do so as I
sent out more releases.
Now for the over-deliver part. As I mentioned, London, Ink doesn’t
typically provide PR services, but I did support a significant announcement by
one of my client’s by doing some basic outreach to my media contacts and
distributing the release via my Vocus SBE account.
My expectation was that the media contacts I selected may or may not actually
receive the release; may or may not see it among the blizzard of releases they
get each day; and/or won’t respond to it. I’m pleased to report that
the client received several great media inquiries, including one from the major
daily paper in their market and another from a key vertical news outlet. Both of
these inquiries resulted in excellent print coverage, which the client of course
So for resource-strapped organizations that need a cost-effective news
distribution platform, check out Vocus SBE.
Veteran marketer and
entrepreneur Chris Jacobs joins London, Ink
Potomac, MD – September, 2009, London, Ink, a marketing and
communications consulting and services firm headquartered outside of Washington, DC, announced the
addition of Christina Jacobs to its team of marketing consultants and project
managers to meet the demands of the company’s growing client base.
Jacobs, whose background includes marketing management
posts at Nextel, MCI and CoStar Group and AMS, is also
co-founder of Girls in the Know, the popular and fast-growing online service
that provides subscribers with exclusive offers from premier spas, salons,
restaurants, designers and events.
“Chris has been a great addition to the London, Ink team,” said London, Ink founder and President Bob London.“Not
many people combine such deep practical marketing experience and expertise with
an entrepreneur’s sense of innovation and resourcefulness.”
Jacobs provides on-demand marketing consulting, project
management and implementation for a range of London, Ink clients—which supports the company’s lean,
on-demand business model and enables clients to receive top-notch,
cost-effective marketing support.
“Working with London, Ink
gives me a combination of an interesting and engaging work experience with a
high degree of flexibility, schedule-wise,” said Jacobs.“It’s clear that the on-demand model works for clients as well to
help them focus their budgets on the right priorities.”
“London, Ink is already
known for pioneering the ‘Virtual VP of Marketing’ concept which provides
experienced project-based resources on-demand for organizations that need an
injection of strategic marketing horsepower,” continued Bob London.“Having more consultants like Chris means that London, Ink can serve a broader range of client needs with various
levels, areas of specialization and price points.”
About London, Ink
London, Ink (http://www.londonink.com) is a marketing
and communications consulting firm that helps early-stage and established
organizations define and prioritize their products, services and marketing
initiatives based on what the market needs–or doesn’t need.
In pioneering the Virtual VP of Marketing concept, London,
Ink president and founder Bob London works with companies who aren’t ready
for the cost and commitment of a full-time marketing executive to assess their
market opportunity, determine the strategic options and develop a practical
go-to-market plan, including market awareness, customer acquisition and
retention, prospect “nurture” campaigns and targeted education programs.
Bob London has successfully managed marketing initiatives
with annual budgets ranging from the $150 million network television launch of
MCI Friends & Family (back when network tv really meant something) to under
$25,000.His work and writing has been profiled or covered by the
Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, the Miami Herald, USA Today and
Marketing News (the AMA’s flagship magazine).Bob recently
spoke at the nationwide Unintentional Entrepreneur series.
Later this week, I’m reprising my highly
rated (by the audience) presentation, originally given at this summer’s National Association of Federal Credit Unions (NAFCU)
Strategic Growth conference.
The topic is social marketing but not from a “slam dunk,”
“gotta have it,” “full speed ahead, damn the business
case,” perspective. Rather the presentation examines whether there is
any “there” there yet regarding revenue (specifically for credit
unions, member acquisition, retention and non-account revenue).
Here’s the abstract from the NAFCU Annual Conference site, and I will
post the presentation on SlideShare in the next couple weeks.
Social Marketing is Free so it
Must be Worthwhile… Right? Well maybe, but BEWARE— don’t be
drawn in by the ‘coolness’ of using Facebook, Twitter and
interactive applications to market your credit union without some
investigation. Before you launch a social media campaign that you’re
sure will “go viral,” don’t forget these three simple letters:
R.O.I. Even though setting up a Facebook or Twitter account, or even a blog,
is free, there are hidden costs in terms of time, resources and budget. This
presentation will explore how credit unions and other organizations are using
social media and other Web 2.0 tools and to what degree they are successful.
Presented by Bob London, President and Founder of London, Ink,
FEBRUARY 7, 2009–POTOMAC, MD London, Ink, a full-service marketing
and communications consulting firm based outside of Washington, DC, announced
today a major initiative intended to demonstrate its commitment to
‘green’ practices that are highly visible and high impact.
Effective immediately, the letter “k” at the end of the London, Ink
logo will change to a compelling shade of green from the original basic
“London, Ink didn’t just want to jump on the green bandwagon and
announce another green initiative,” said London, Ink president Bob London,
who is also known as the DC region’s Virtual VP of Marketing for providing
marketing expertise on demand. “Changing the letter ‘k’ in
our logo to green represents a major commitment, as it is the letter most people
focus on since they are expecting a ‘c’ after the
Taking this initiative a step further, London, Ink is issuing a challenge to
other Washington, DC area marketing, communications, PR and design firms to make
similar commitments towards ‘greening’ their businesses.
Continued Bob London, “I’d like to see some of the more
traditional service providers, including ad agencies, public relations firms,
Web design and digital marketing agencies follow London, Ink’s lead.
After all, there’s always room for each of us to be
‘greener.’ Take it from me, it feels great doing something
About London, Ink
London, Ink is a full-service marketing and communications consulting firm
based just outside of Washington, DC. London, Ink’s unique Virtual VP of
Marketing model differs from other traditional marketing and communications
service providers such as ad agencies, PR firms and Web design firms in that (a)
the client receives independent guidance on when and how to prioritize, execute
and measure a wide range of marketing initiatives, from PR to SEO to lead
generation to channel marketing; and (b) all services are provided on an
on-demand basis, providing clients with budget predictability and
London, Ink’s low overhead, client-focused model eliminates the common
conflicts between agencies’ profitability goals and creative philosophies
versus the client’s requirements. Please visit www.londonink.com for more
information or contact London, Ink president Bob London at firstname.lastname@example.org or
Announcing e.SSENTIALS, from London, Ink: A new, fixed-price online
marketing program including development of five essential initiatives: marketing
database, e-newsletter, Google AdWords, search engine optimization & social
Potomac, MD, December 11, 2008-London, Ink, (www.londonink.com) a full-service,
on-demand marketing and communications firm, today launched e.SSENTIALS, a
fixed-price program of online marketing services for small- and mid-size
businesses and non-profit organizations.
Designed to meet the budgeting predictability requirements of small- and
mid-size organizations, the London, Ink e.SSENTIALS program includes the
development and execution of five essential online marketing deliverables for
one fixed price.
The London, Ink e.SSENTIALS Program Includes:
Marketing Database: Compilation of an organization’s
key contacts, including prospective, nurture (long-term), and existing
customers/clients and partners. Regularly communicating to a house list can be
the most cost-effective way to for an organization to maintain or increase
mindshare-a critical step towards being “short-listed” when
prospects are ready to buy.
E-Newsletter: Development of a web-based newsletter
template that will be emailed to one or more segments of the Marketing Database,
plus execution of one prototype e-newsletter.
Google AdWords/Analytics Test: Development of a test of
the Google AdWords pay-per-click online advertising program, the world’s
leading online advertising platform.
Web Site Search Engine Optimization Audit: Assessment of
content, page titles and other factors for search engine
“friendliness” and recommendations for immediate enhancements.
Introductory Social Marketing Program: Development and
implementation of a program that leverages free distribution of an
organization’s message, via at least one of the following tactics:
company/product blog or leading social networking sites.
“Running any business today without online marketing tools such as
database marketing, search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising and
basic social marketing, is like making an omelet without eggs,” said
London, Ink president, Bob London. “These tools are lower cost and
easier to measure than traditional marketing tactics, but too often they fall
off the priority list due to a lack of resources and expertise to properly plan,
implement and maintain them.”
“Now with e.SSENTIALS, London, Ink provides small- and mid-size
organizations with a practical, cost-effective and low-risk way to implement
these fundamental programs as they enter 2009.”
What about Content?
The e.SSENTIALS program leverages an organization’s existing content,
such as news releases, white papers, articles and other subject matter or
thought leadership content. New or additional content can be created for an
How is the e.SSENTIALS Program Priced?
The fixed-price, all-inclusive cost of the London, Ink e.SSENTIALS program is
based on the size of the organization by annual revenue. Please contact
London, Ink at email@example.com or 240 994
7644 for more details. The cost of the program is billed monthly in five equal
“Teaching Organizations to Fish”
In addition to the development and execution of the above programs, for an
additional fee London, Ink will provide training for managers and staff on how
to continue to leverage and maximize the above tools.
Additional details are available at e.ssentials.net. To sign up for this
program or to learn more, please contact Bob London, president of London, Ink at
About London, Ink
London, Ink is a full-service, on-demand marketing and communications firm
based in the Washington, DC metro area, that develops and implements marketing
and communications programs for mid-size and growing businesses and non-profit
Bob London, president of London, Ink, serves as a Virtual VP of Marketing for
organizations that need hands-on, interim leadership in marketing strategy,
planning and execution. For more on London, Ink please visit www.londonink.com or contact Bob London at
240 994 7644 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yes, it’s getting noticed and maybe people are clicking on it, but
Microsoft’s expensive new powered-by-Seinfeld campaign is looking like the
dud that many–including me–predicted it would be, both in strategy
We suppose the ad makes Microsoft seem less stodgy and uptight, which is the
image Apple’s Mac vs. PC ads paint of the company. But we can’t see this
going a long way towards reversing the popular impression that Vista is buggy
and unnecessary. The ads would probably have to, you know, mention Vista to do
Presumed Microsoft Business Goals: Grow revenue, protect
margins by increasing acceptance/take rate of Vista.
Presumed Marketing/Comm Goals: Fend off criticism and
negative perception of Vista. Counter the effects of PC vs. Mac campaign which
have eroded/pigeonholed image of PC/Windows while boosting that of Mac.
Assessment: How does this execution accomplish the above?
It doesn’t. Autopsy: First, who should use celebrities? Brands that want
more name recognition or those that want to draw attention to a new product.
One could infer that Microsoft gave Seinfeld a bunch of money without fleshing
out the actual marketing goals and getting him and everyone else on the same
page. In fact one of the key deal points was probably “free reign”
and “creative control.” After all, Jerry doesn’t need the
money. So everyone probably assumed the ads would be clever and memorable.
In addition the spot doesn’t even stand on its own as an interesting
piece of entertainment. It is, in a word, inane. It’s tone is dated.
So there won’t be much of a viral (pass along) halo except for forwarded
links accompanied by nasty criticisms of the ad.
Which brings us to the next point below. The WSJ quotes two branding
executives (”those who can’t sell, market; those who can’t
market, brand.”) asserting that the ad has done its job by generating
This point is supported by the following quote: “Most companies would
have to spend a billion dollars on advertising to get this kind of
attention.” First, I think he means most unknown companies would even
want this level of attention. Second, Microsoft has already spent billions of
dollars over the last 30 years to get “attention.”
Dear branding experts: “Attention” is not the goal.
“Attention” is not, in and of itself, a positive thing. Microsoft
is globally known and doesn’t need more “attention.”
Microsoft needs (a) great products that (b) create a better customer experience,
which in turn (c) results in a better perception. This campaign does nothing
to advance those priorities.
Microsoft is breaking the basic premise of Inside-Out Branding by trying to
solve a product problem with an advertising solution. Unfortunately they
can’t just paper over the negative perceptions with a big media spend
featuring a waning celebrity.
Despite the negative online chatter about the ad, Microsoft has
succeeded in getting people talking about the commercial, ad experts say.
“The initial reaction might be on the fence or leaning
negative but the ad did its job,” says Dean Crutchfield, a brand
consultant. “Most companies would have to spend a billion dollars on
advertising to get this kind of attention.”
Bob London is president of London, Ink LLC (www.londonink.com), a
full-service marketing and communications firm, and serves as a Virtual VP of
Marketing for growth-stage companies that need hands-on project-based leadership
in marketing strategy and planning.
I guess some companies have so much at stake that they are forced to pull out
every stop and encourage suspension of disbelief when they develop ad
campaigns. Or they are so large they forget to run an ad through the approval
Microsoft’s recent Vista for Small Business campaign tries to counter
the notions that (a) Vista isn’t worth upgrading to; (b) it causes
problems with other software; and (c) sometimes it hurts your business.
Their print campaign tries to accomplish the above goals by comparing the
risk of installing Vista to some really, really risky behavior that makes the
Vista risk pale in comparison.
In addition to the ad below there’s one about a woman who borrowed
money from her family to start her business. Now that’s risk.
The Viva Viagra campaign has already taken beating from critics and the
general public. There’s something counter-intuitive about the premise: A
bunch of guys together in a recording studio with nary a woman in sight–or
to be more inclusive, there doesn’t seem to be an inkling of romance in
the air. Not to mention the two board engineers leering through the studio
But the one thing no one seems to mention is the Chyron at the upper right of
the screen during the ad’s first few seconds: “Nashville
So let me get this straight: Not only is this bunch of guys singing together
(by the way, how did they all just join in seamlessly without ever having heard
the song before) about E.D., and doing so mano a mano a mano a mano…but
they’re doing this at an hour when they should be home in bed! In bed
where the product being marketed is supposed to be used.
To me, the whole thing screams “loser”–not how a marketer
usually wants to portray its customers.
Ads go by in a blur, particularly with viewers’ attention spans
shrinking so much that the average garden variety gnat can now pay attention for
twice as long as a human. But buried in so many ads, such as this television
spot for a Sealy mattress, are claims, phrases or implications that just
don’t make sense. In fact they seem to work against the pitch.
In this commercial, the v/o says this mattress was designed with the help of
orthopedic surgeons. Presumably this is supposed to make the viewer feel
better since orthopedic surgeons should know what is good/not for your
But unless I am missing something orthopedic surgeons make their money by
performing orthopedic surgery. And orthopedic surgery is what you need when
your back hurts. And a bad mattress is one of those things that can give you a
sore back or at least exacerbate a bad one.
So why is it such a great claim that orthopedic surgeons helped design this
mattress? As far as I can tell the surgeons can make a lot more money by
helping design a bad mattress.