A Holiday Greeting from JFC…

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There Will Be Blood

Want a social media presence? Dumb question, right? Every business does. Just be a little careful about what you ask for. As ever in the social media space, the ground is shifting beneath our feet. Fast. And what used to be a nice, comfortable Facebook/LinkedIn/Instagram/Twitter presence in, say, 2015, has become an utter minefield over the past 18 or 24 months. Perhaps you’ve noticed that public discourse of all kinds has coarsened — and no more so than in the digital realm. Courteous conversation? Rational exchange of views? The valor of discretion? Out, out and out. They’ve ben replaced by…

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Short Selling: In Words of One Syllable, It Works

“Big.” “Yuge.” “Great.” “Build That Wall.” “Lock Her Up.” “Drain The Swamp.” “Fake News.” Notice a common thread among those terms that helped effect the biggest political upset in U.S. history? They’re all monosyllabic. One measly syllable per word. (By the way, why is “monosyllabic” such a long word?) Reams and reams and screens and screens have been filled with the lessons of the 2016 Presidential election. But here’s a key takeaway for anyone in the marketing communications business: Short sells. Short words, short sentences, short paragraphs, short clips. Copywriters have been hearing that dictate for, well, for as long as…

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The Soft Bigotry of High Expectations: What Designated Survivor Has Taught Me About Quality

  I have a confession to make. I’m a bigot. Fifteen years of truly outstanding television have raised my expectations to the point that I’ve discovered I can no longer tolerate mediocre TV. Take Designated Survivor. (Stay with me here; this will tie into marketing communications.) The ABC show, starring Kiefer Sutherland, had a terrific premise: HUD Secretary becomes president when the Capitol is bombed during the State of the Union address. So I tried it. Binge-watched DS through its entire first season and into its second. And I’m done. No more. Great concept, but I just can’t take the execution.…

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Young Frankencontent

“Let me out! Let me out of here!  Get me the hell out of here! What’s the matter with you people? I was joking! Don’t you know a joke when you hear one? HA-HA-HA-HA. Jesus Christ, get me out of here! Open this goddamn door or I’ll kick your rotten heads in! Mommy!” – Dr. Frederick Frankenstein The panicked doctor wasn’t referring to 21st century marketing communications. But he could have been. Because in the name of “content marketing,” today’s companies have created a monster. Marketing content has exploded into a dizzying number of forms. All made possible by the no-cost miracle…

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Ignoring This Five-Letter Word Can Spell Brand Messaging Doom

Want to know the brand messaging mistake that bedevils Fortune 500 companies and start-ups alike, again and again? It’s self-centeredness. Me, me, me. I, I, I. We do this. We provide that. We were established then. Blah, blah, blah. News flash: Your prospective customers don’t care about you; they care about themselves. They don’t care what you do; they care about what you’ll do for them. They don’t care about your success; they care about how you can make them a success. As well they should. It’s always curious, then, when a company’s first pass at a brand message is so narcissistic. But…

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The $6.18 Customer Experience Difference Maker

I’ll make this quick. I know you’re busy. Anyone in this business has undoubtedly been exposed to the newest darling term among the marketing consultant set: “Customer Experience” or “CX.” Perhaps you’ve even been to a seminar or read a book on the subject of crafting a cradle-to-grave strategy to delight your customers, from the time they’re prospects to after-sale support. And perhaps you’ve wondered what that might mean in real-world terms. So check this out. Bought a new car recently. (The old clunker had clunked past 110,000 miles and it was time.) Perfectly pleasant buying experience, especially for a car…

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The Peril Of Feeding The Content Beast

  “Feed me more pablum, Seymour.” So tell me: When exactly did content that’s good enough become good enough? Seems to me that it was right about the time that “content marketing,” bless its heart, swung the value pendulum from quality to quantity. To play the content marketing game, you’ve got to fill an online pipeline with words. Lots and lots of them, day after day, week after week. The beast is never satisfied — which is why our screens runneth over with insipid listicles and grammar-challenged articles and other utter pablum. That’s what happens when Content Audrey II says…

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Snark Jumps The Shark

You’ve noticed it, right? The big ad world has gone soft. The biggest-spending Fortune 100 advertisers in the recent Super Bowl and the current Winter Olympics have created ads that would make Hallmark proud. Moms and toddlers. Puppies and horseys. Paraplegics and loved ones. America The Beautiful (sung in gasp! different languages!) All designed to tug at heartstrings and handkerchiefs. It’s a curious turn of events, since not very long ago, big advertising dollars were being spent to look edgy and snarky. Irony was in, sincerity was out, and you weren’t a cool advertiser unless your spot was the video…

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I Know What You Did Last Hour

When you see a Facebook ad or Yahoo junk mail for a product immediately after you’ve done a search for it, it’s a wee bit unnerving, no? Sure, the NSA is tapping our calls, texts and emails, but that’s invisible. When Zuckerberg throws a too-personalized ad at you, though, he’s essentially saying, “I know what you’ve been doing online, and here’s proof.” Creepy? No doubt. But color me impressed as well. Throughout my umpteen years as a brand/marketing communications consultant, I’ve continually hammered home a central tenet for success: first determine who your customers are and what they want, then…

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