Street Pics for the ADWKDC 2016 Trespass Campaign

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The Georgetowner

I had the great fortune of serving AAF-DC as photographer for their ADWKDC 2016 campaign, themed Trespass. Above and below are my favorite shots from each frame that I submitted. I affectionately call the set “the Georgetowners” as the photos were all shot in Georgetown, where I went to graduate school.

If you haven’t registered for ADWKDC 2016 yet, definitely consider doing so. It’s a fantastic celebration of Washington’s advertising community. There are dozens of events, culminating with a two day conference filled with speakers sharing their best practices. If you want to learn more visit the site, or check out this five reasons to attend blog post.

Special thanks to Julia Sarver, Creative Director at Merritt Group and Josh Belhumeur, partner at BRINK for selecting me to work on this campaign.

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Glamour Walk

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Chatting on the Bridge

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Early Runner

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Selfie City

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Man’s Best Friend

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The New Commute

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Happy Hour

Don’t Expect Campaigns to Disappear Anytime Soon

Sometimes I wonder about supposed technology trends that are discussed. One of the latest trends I am hearing about is the death of the marketing campaign.

Marketing technologists and analysts say that new tools will put an end to the dreaded campaign. My response? Don’t bet on it.

In the mid 2000s, this meme emerged for the first time. Then, the end of the marketing campaign was a Cluetrain Manifesto-esque railing against corporate treatment of customers. Thanks to social media, corporations would be forced to talk to customers, one to one.

What ended up happening was a new way for brands to cultivate loyalists, customers used a different public channel to complain (hello, Twitter!), and an immense amount of data was created. As for the marketing campaign, it now includes social media.

This time, contextual media and broken funnels drive the meme. Automation solutions will use data created from social media, and companies will be forced to create Choose Your Own Adventure content and lead paths to better serve customers. Global campaigns will end, forcing niche campaigns.

Sound familiar? I think so, too, though a bit more realistic than the one-to-one argument from the prior decade.

Why Campaigns Won’t End

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Marketing automation will empower companies to create strong niche campaigns as opposed to deploying one-size fits all efforts. Though customized and more targeted, this will not end the campaign, rather make it more sophisticated with better tools.

The problem with ending campaigns is threefold. First, marketing campaign critics always address the matter from the perspective of the customer. They forget that campaigns are often a function of corporate budgets and anticipated profits. The same could be send for nonprofits and annual fundraising.

Budgets and revenue are time-bound, especially for public companies. This creates a compelling reason to develop specific campaigns within budget that achieve the necessary results, all to satisfy shareholders, owners, and keep companies and nonprofits alive.

Second, customers don’t react to campaigns, say the pundits. Well, actually customers just don’t like marketing period, but they do react to campaigns when they need/want a product or service. What the Internet evolutions of the recent past have shown us through tracking is a much more sophisticated non-linear sales cycle.

OK. So, that tells me that marketing campaigns will become more sophisticated, with better tools (automation, for example), more transmedia options for customers to accesss information, and more specified messaging. But like the social media era, the campaign evolves. It doesn’t disappear.

Finally, campaigns address a human need on both the customer and the company side of the equation: A desire for new. Whether it’s a mobile phone, a car, or a software solution, people have come to expect new evolutions from their current provider and competitors alike. Similarly, new products and services drive growth and competition amongst companies.

Guess how new products and services are launched? You got it, with campaigns. Customers may not like marketing, but they like the same old boring marketing campaign even less. The campaign helps fulfill the core need of new.

Until Wall Street ends quarterly expectations and companies and nonprofits stop functioning on an annual budget; the ability to adapt to customer expectations disappears; and the need for new things ends; marketing campaigns are here to stay. I’ll check back with the pundits in the 22nd century.

What do you think?

A version of this post ran originally on the Vocus blog.

People Don’t Care

There’s one assumption that I start every marketing campaign with: People don’t care.

Every communication must assume that customers, prospects, and other stakeholders — e.g. people — don’t care, and aren’t looking for a brand to communicate with them. Even with permission, most folks aren’t eagerly awaiting our next outreach. As communicators, it is our job to give them a reason to care.

Yet, self-centered drivel fills most corporate and nonprofit emails, blogs, social updates, etc. An inability to focus on the customer plagues brands through era and medium.

Companies can’t help themselves.

They create a game of messaging tic-tac-toe to satisfy an innate need for their work to be important. It’s important to executives and marketers because that’s how they spend 50 hours of their week together, building something every week, month and year.

Meanwhile, the customer turns to the brand for an answer, a resolution to an issue, perhaps a special something to make life better. And that’s where it begins and ends, with the customer and their decision to buy or not to buy.

So when marketers bore them to death with messaging and facts about why x is important, we actually turn people away. Because we have not delivered an answer or something special.

Where is the utility? How is it entertaining? Why should anyone not employed by the company care?

Native advertising is such a big craze these day because brands have to pay-to-play. They have no choice because their communications bore just about anyone who reads them. The attempts to make them social have failed outside of core evangelist communities.

This continuing failure forces me to conclude that a vast majority of customers, prospects and donors just don’t care about brands. We haven’t given them a good reason to invest in us.

Everything created for them has to focus on giving them reasons to become interested. Communications have to revolve around the customer’s core motivations and needs. Otherwise you create messages that serve as lukewarm rallying points to keep employees and vendors motivated rather than true marketing touches.

What do you think? Do people care about marketing content and messages?

Image by Ida Stalder