In his own words:
In lieu of actually writing something interesting (which I haven’t done in a while), I’ve decided to release a 70% done project. It’s called Brand Tags and the idea is simple: You tag brands with the first thing that comes to mind. The idea came to me as I was working on my Brand vs. Utility presentation a few months ago. The thinking went something like this: If brands exist as the sum of all thoughts in someone’s head, then if you ask a bunch of people what a brand is and make a tag cloud, you should have a pretty accurate look at what the brand represents.
Four years and an acquisition later, my friends over at Solve Media (disclosure, I’m on their Board of Directors) have relaunched the Brand Tags service as a free opportunity for brands and their agencies to gather real-time sentiment. What I’ve always loved about Brand Tags is the sometimes visceral response that traditional market research just wouldn’t yield. As I’ve heard Noah say before, “it lets agencies tell their clients how people really feel about their brands”.
Having this service back in a more mature incarnation (complete with a wordcloud “export” function for PowerPoint/Keynote presentations) is incredibly valuable. We’ve gotten into a habit of brushing aside methodologically-complex panel-based brand market research in favor of social media sentiment analysis. And while conversations may yield a ton of insight, semantic analysis often fails because of inadequate natural language processing. A more heuristic approach can really help when both of these extremes fail to deliver, and Brand Tags have the potential to be that.
Full disclosure here, I’ve known Mike Lazerow for a while now. Deep Focus is a client of Buddy Media’s, too. But that doesn’t influence how I feel about this heartfelt, tear-jerking video that Mike just posted to YouTube, analyzing the sale of his company and everything (and everyone) that led up to it, that made me think about, well, everything.
Sometimes, when we analyze, criticize, and otherwise take a jaded look at entrepreneurial businesses, we forget that the people, the entrepreneurs behind them, are actually people. People that took chances. People that were faced with adversity. People that overcame it.
Having built and sold a business (Deep Focus) before, I know that the trials and tribulations of putting it all on the line can wreak havoc on your life. And life throws you curveballs, whether you’re at bat or not. As as an entrepreneur, I try to fear nothing; to treat every pitch like it’s one I can hit out of the park, no matter where or how it’s thrown. But then, as if to remind us that we’re human, things happen that make you realize what’s really important. Life. Family. Humanity.
And just like that, you’re reminded of why you’re so motivated in the first place.
As we get older, this becomes more clear. As a teenager, Mike was faced with a life-threatening condition that set him off on an entrepreneurial path. Me? I just thought I could do some things better. I was young and stupid.
But when I recently found myself with two children born nearly two months early, a wife who was stronger than I could possibly ever be, the most amazing 3 year old daughter welcoming me home every night with an ear-to-ear smile and the biggest hug ever, and a team of people surrounding me at work as an always-on support system, I realized why I (still) push myself so hard. Love for them all.
The kids are now home, and the family is doing great. It’s the new normal. But nothing will ever be the same. My toughest management challenge yet lies ahead of me.
Young entrepreneurs, young and stupid is an advantage. Believe it or not, this the easy part. Your desire will always be there, but your motivations will evolve, and curveballs (and other breaking balls) will be thrown, each with the potential of making you stronger. Embrace them. Overcome them. Learn how to hit them out of the park. And discover how to balance it all.
There is a special “hall of shame” that should exist for products that have tried to force their way into people’s lives. Products like Gator. X10. About 50% of antivirus software. Self-installing toolbars.
I’d like to nominate SocialCam (not even linking to them) as the latest entrant into the those not so hallowed halls.
They have abused Facebook’s Open Graph (shame on Facebook for letting them) to frictionlessly broadcast videos to newsfeeds everywhere. They have been scraping YouTube videos to place into their player because most users’ content isn’t interesting enough to share. Most engagement with SocialCam is potentially embarrassing for the engager.
If they don’t change something soon, it’s likely going to end very badly for them.
Take this as a lesson, and a suggestion. As a user, be vigilant when you grant apps permission to publish on your behalf. as a marketer, you are who you associate with.
**UPDATE** Looks like Facebook just implemented the crackdown. Read it on TechCrunch.
This is a counterpoint to Gawker’s piece, Do Not Go Into Advertising.
True. Advertising is an industry that many people fall back into. As Gawker writes, “Advertising is the industry that people who were not lucky enough to get actual “creative” jobs end up in.” Yes. Many who are in it are content to trade up their titles every few years by switching agencies while staying the course in their careers, managing the whims of their clients.
That is because when you get down to it the advertising industry is actually a service business. But the services we render have shifted from leadership to execution, and therein lies the problem.
A problem that can be solved if we start thinking about it and selling it differently.
Gawker’s claims are correct, if not jaded, if we purely think of the advertising business as a creative one. But our products are hours — the hours needed to deliver great creative. No one “pays for the work” like they would pay an artist. They pay for the work needed to make the deliverable.
In order for this to change, and to make people WANT to work in advertising (which is easy to do before they actually start doing it), we need to do something radical. Current agency models and silos need to be blown up and reassembled into leadership-focused integrated solutions, because that what is needed now; not antiquated commodity-creating mass machines — which is what holding companies have brought about. That antidote was the revelation that led me to start Deep Focus 10 years ago. And it’s something I’m still trying to figure out.
People will want to work in a place where their creativity and leadership is respected internally and externally, and where that expectation is set and met regularly, no matter how many procurement exercises that place has to go through. These places should be places that lead, because that is what is asked of them. If you want something else, go hire one. There’s a lot of them around.
Advertising is evolving. And the places that conduct business in that industry are evolving too. You just need to look for them and not make blanket statements.
Nearly every industry is in a hyper-evolutionary state these days. For example, it would be easy to say that journalism is dead or dying, but there are places that are trying to re-think the model, like Gawker. It would also be easy to say that blogs are the places that journalists go to work when they can’t get journalism jobs. But I don’t believe that. Gawker is attempting to redefine/re-imagine the journalism business in its own way, just like many companies in the advertising space are so Gawker can continue to make money (see Nick Denton’s awesomely candid Rock Center segment from a few weeks back). Love ya, Nick.
But Hamilton, ask the people that have been laid off in the last few years because ad spending was down, if advertising is stable. Ask the people that are still looking for work after their clients’ company hired a new CMO. Advertising is anything but stable. I risked everything I had to build a business that could help change advertising. This thing is hard freaking work. Stable my ass.
So yeah. Don’t go into advertising if you want a comfortable life where you do things to make people happy all day and compromise your integrity. F- that. I’ve fired clients that have threatened to take us there. But if you want to really do something about what advertising has become for many (including @hamiltonnolan, obviously), and actually make it something that it could actually work towards enhancing the daily lives of people that engage with it AND make money while doing so, then Deep Focus is hiring, and not just for the positions listed here.
Or you can check out advertising.gawker.com.
But if you still hate advertising, there’s always Pit-Pat.