Mutual Benefit

By: Scott Harris

I was recently contacted and asked to respond to an RFP for a company looking for a new website and an overall marketing campaign. The gentlemen who called was someone I met, but didn’t work with, almost 20 years ago. He remembered me — and Mustang — and feels we might be a good fit. It is, of course, flattering to be remembered, and we are excited about being invited to be a part of the process.

But, the reason for this blog post is because of the way he is handling the process. We got rolling with an initial phone call, in which he was detailed and all of our questions were answered. We responded with a preliminary proposal, which he reviewed in detail. So far, the process hadn’t been too unusual.

It’s what happened next that stands out in my mind. We set up a conference call, and he walked us through the proposal, page by page. He pointed out areas that should be highlighted and others that should be less prominent. He gave us insight into his owners and others that will be involved in the selection process, and he shared the things he thinks they’ll be looking for.

And it’s not just us; he’s doing this for the firms we are competing against. When I asked him why, he replied that he wanted each firm to be shown in their best light, giving his company the best chance to select the right fit. He is not offering us a competitive advantage, but rather doing his best to ensure that his company makes the best possible choice and has the highest likelihood of success with regards to the website and the campaign.

This approach is unusual, if not unique. And, it is thoughtful, productive and professional. I sent him a note today telling him this, and he simply responded….

Very kind of you. Thanks for the note.

There is a saying: “Be less concerned with what happens, then what you become in the process.” I have enjoyed our discussions, and it will be interesting to see how things unfold.

I really hope we land the account.

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Scary Stories of Marketing Mishaps

Halloween is a time for sharing bone-chilling tales. But, for marketers, these stories are not comprised of ghosts, skeletons and murderous monsters. Instead, horror comes in the form of unfortunate international translations, missed typos and seemingly innocent campaigns with unforeseen consequences.

On the bright side, these terrifying marketing mistakes usually turn out to be pretty entertaining for the rest of us. Here are just a few of our favorites:

Lost in Translation

Sometimes a tagline that is perfect in one language looses its appeal when translated to another. For instance, when the American Dairy Association brought its famous “Got Milk?” campaign outside of the U.S., the company accidentally asked countless Spanish-speaking consumers, “Are you lactating?”

And, when KFC’s slogan “Finger lickin’ good,” was translated into Chinese, it became the slightly more unpleasant phrase “eat your fingers off.”



When Common Sense Goes Out the Door

Even the most innocent names and slogans can go awry when they’re placed in the wrong location. And, something as simple as opening a door can change everything.

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A Tasty Typo

Typos happen to the best of us, but what happens when your typo is on giant billboard for all to see? Well, especially if you’re a brewing company, we may begin to wonder if you’ve been enjoying too much of your own product.

Billboard error


A Little Too Honest

 In general, honesty is a good thing, and marketers sometimes earn a bad rap for putting a spin on the truth. But, it might be possible to take honesty just a step too far…

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False Promises

 If you don’t want to risk the perils of excess honesty, you could always try blatantly contradicting yourself — after all, the results are just as comical!

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Now Trending: The Roadmap

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On Oct. 5, 2015, Jack Dorsey was named chief executive of Twitter. A week later, he announced a significant downsizing in Twitter’s workforce — a decision attributed to the company’s new roadmap.

In a letter to Twitter employees, Dorsey said:

The team has been working around the clock to produce [a] streamlined roadmap for Twitter, Vine, and Periscope, and they are shaping up to be strong … The roadmap is also a plan to change how we work, and what we need to do that work … The world needs a strong Twitter, and this is another step to get there.”

Anyone who has read my book, RoadMap: A Guide to a Successful Strategic Marketing Plan, knows that I am a firm believer in basing business decisions on a comprehensive, carefully thought out plan. But, my experience developing “RoadMaps” for numerous clients has also proven that the conclusions identified by a strategic plan are not always easy to hear.

Sometimes, the smartest decision for your company might come with a larger price tag than you’d hoped. Or, it might mean parting with outdated, but comfortable, strategies and practices. And, as in the case of Twitter, it might even require making the difficult choice to let a significant number of staff members go. For that reason, developing and sticking to a roadmap requires a certain amount of courage — and I commend Twitter for facing the challenge.

Without seeing Twitter’s roadmap or conducting the extensive research necessary to develop a strategic plan, I can’t predict the ultimate effects these new changes will have on the company. Certainly, Twitter is taking the risk of downsizing by making adjustments to its business model and laying off employees, which brings with it potential PR consequences. But, there is also much to be gained by improving efficiency and reducing unnecessary expenses.

Of course, it is also likely that this change will only be a single step in an ongoing process. If Twitter’s perspective on strategic planning is anything like mine, the company will continually measure the results of its approach — and carefully monitor the ever-evolving social media landscape — to keep its roadmap responsive to shifts in market conditions and make the adjustments necessary to ensure the greatest possible success.

As a fellow strategic-planning aficionado, I congratulate Twitter on developing and implementing a roadmap. And, I strongly encourage every other company to do the same.

For more information on Mustang Marketing’s strategic planning services, click here.

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Let’s Talk Art

Piet Mondrian’s “Dune Landscape,” 1909

By Randall Loui

At Mustang, we are always trying to create the very best designs for our clients. Whether it’s an ad for flame-resistant clothing, a brand book for internationally renowned beauty products or swag for a local credit union — our end goal is to make marketing collateral that is visually appealing and that conveys a clear message.

But what exactly constitutes good design? In my opinion, good design is inspired. It pulls from our existing knowledge and creates something new… ish. I prefer to say “newish,” because that’s how inspiration works — we can create something that we think is totally original, but, in reality, it’s more than likely inspired by something we’ve seen or experienced before that’s stored in our memory bank. We’re always pulling from our own experiences. Therefore, being exposed to different styles and work only adds to our library of things to pull inspiration from.

For me, it is graphic designers like Neville Brody (known for his iconic Just Do It-themed Nike ad) and Chip Kidd (known for his book covers and creating the Jurassic Park logo), artists like Roy Lichtenstein and Piet Mondrian, and the streamline modern art movement that inspire my daily designs the most. For the other designers on our team, inspiration may come from somewhere else.

Hence: our biweekly art talks. Every two weeks, Mustang’s design team meets to discuss both current and historical topics in art. These talks are not limited to one genre; rather, they are open to all forms such as architecture, products, paintings and more. In the past, we’ve covered logo redesigns of 2015 and the Art Deco movement, discussed the work of Alphonse Mucha and Turner Duckworth, and watched Chip Kidd’s latest TED talk. Afterwards, we hold an open forum where we discuss the presentation and how we can apply it to our everyday work.

Because of these varied sources of inspiration, I don’t like to assign my work to any single particular style — nor do I think that there is any one style that makes for the best designs. If there is any consistency in my style, it is probably the use of clean lines and fonts. But who knows, maybe after our talk on Jackson Pollock I’ll be adding a bit of abstraction to my linearity.

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