Monday, October 11, 2010

It's Here! Brand Bootcamp 2010!!!

Brand Bootcamp 2010 – Unlock your brand’s full potential
Brought to you by 1000 Watts Creative Group

November 27th 2010 @ The Cedar Room - West Vancouver Community Centre 9am - 12pm 

Mark it on your calendars and get ready for this exclusive one day intensive workshop. Space is very limited so try to book early to secure your spot.

(Limited to local BC businesses only.)

What is Brand Bootcamp?

Are you a small business owner? Just starting out or perhaps have run a small business for a number of years and looking for ways to be more profitable? Then this is the workshop you want to attend.1000 Watts Creative Group is an international award-winning creative marketing company. Its founders have spent their entire careers building some the largest brands in North America and now they wan to share their strategies with you.

Why is Branding so Important?

Proper branding is the single most important element in the success of any business. The stronger your brand the more ability your company has to command higher margins.

What will I learn?

Attendees will learn:
  • How to create a powerful brand. Learn branding fundamentals, what makes one brand great and another average
  • How a proper brand strategy can make a positive impact on your bottom line
  • The power of your brand voice and the 4 channels of brand messaging
  • Discovering your true target audience and how to create a relationship with them
  • Create your unique Brand Positioning Statement
  • 5 ways to create a successful brand in today's economy
  • Marketing tactics to boost your brand

Plus you receive:

  • A FREE professional evaluation of your current marketing materials
  • FREE Custom Logo Redesign
  • FREE Custom Business Card Redesign
That's a $2300 value!

How much is it?

The Brand Bootcamp Workshop is eligible for BC Government funding under a limited time grant for small businesses in B.C. If you are a small business in B.C. with less than 50 employees, been in business for over a year and are in good standing with BC Corporate Registry then you could receive funding to help cover the cost of the program.

Package Prices

Government funding is available to employees only. Small business owners and Solo-entrepreneurs who wish to attend may also receive a special discount. Please contact us for more information.

Corporate Platinum
       3 Employees for just $396 (*with government grant financing.)
            $3300.00 + HST without government grant financing.

Corporate Gold
       2 Employees for just $276 (*with government grant financing.)
            $2300.00 + HST without government grant financing.

Corporate Silver
       1 Employee for just $150 (*with government grant financing.)
            $1250.00 + HST without government grant financing.

* Price listed represents the HST tax amount for each total package price. If you qualify for government grant pricing you are only required to pay the HST tax.

Space is limited. So book now.

Speaker Bio

Brand Bootcamp is hosted by Kevin Simcock, a prominent international leader of advertising and a devoted advocate for creative ideas that deliver extraordinary results. For over 13 years his passionate vision has guided the creative development for such brands as Direct Energy, Volvo, IBM, Intel, McDonalds, Ontario Tourism, British Columbia Lotteries, Colgate & Palmolive, Dove, Advil, LG, Travel Alberta, Banff Lake Louise Tourism, Altamira Investments, New Balance, Canadian Diabetes Association, Canadian Cancer Society and many more.

Kevin will teach you proven branding techniques and strategies to give your brand the advantage it needs to edge out your competition, connect with your target market and gain more market share.

"The key to brand success is establishing a great relationship with your clients but you must first establish a great brand." Kevin Simcock

Enhance your company’s competitiveness with this exclusive workshop. There is limited space available so contact 1000 Watts today to see if you qualify for government funding assistance and to secure your spot.

1000 Watts Creative Group

Friday, August 20, 2010

RE:Advice for Design Students

Advice for any student can be convoluted at times. So many people have so many different opinions and a ton of advice from all different points of view. Well here are my two cents. I've been in the advertising business for a while now and had the pleasure of working with some amazing graphic designers. I've also been in charge of running internship programs at ad agencies across Canada. The thing I love about "fresh" talent is their passion. They see things in new ways and have a fresh approach to solving problems. What does that really mean? Well sometimes people that have worked in the industry for a while discover that clients rarely want to push the envelope in terms of ideation. They have a comfort zone. It usually is the safe area that the client knows won't get them in trouble or alienate their target market too much. This is our battle, whether you are a graphic designer, art director, writer, creative director, it is our job to nudge them out of their comfort zone and provide them with some creative solutions that push the boundaries a little bit at a time.

Students right out of school are eager to push that boundary and do something that is creatively brilliant but may be too far too fast for the client to adopt. So my advice is never stop providing those amazing ideas but know that it's a process that takes time to get the client to adopt them. So don't get discouraged. Keep going and eventually you will get to a great place with a client and really be able to let your creativity go.

When you're approaching the end of your studies and looking for an internship or your first paid position know that there is a pecking order. You are coming in at ground level and you have to prove yourself. That is the fun part. Some people look at as a negative, they think they should be given a certain level of respect and seniority right off the bat. Although you should always be respected for the expertise you bring to the table, enjoy the fact that you are a junior. It's not a negative title. I tell all the juniors that I've worked with they are lucky. Being a junior means you have license to fuck up with little consequence. It's your time to make mistakes. So make them. That's how you learn. If you aren't making mistakes you aren't pushing yourself.

Know the shop you want to work in before you work in it. Do your home work not only on the shop but the people running it. Sure a place might be doing great work and everyone may want to get a job there but if your creative director is an ass or a jerk that doesn't really mentor you than is it really worth it?? Ask people who work there and who have left what they think of the people who run the place.

Keep a steady flow of personal projects going so you can find new avenues of inspiration. Design is influenced by life and all that effects or daily lives. So keep the inspiration channels open. Try to do something new everyday. Take a new route to work, go see a foreign film, create a daily photo blog of your everyday life. You never know where your next hit of inspiration will come from.

The last thing I will say is about your own personal style or flavour. The biggest curve that students have to learn is how to keep their own personal style and adapt it to fit into commercial design. Design is a craft, an art and as such the designer is an artist with a certain style that fits them and makes them unique. Hone that style.

Good luck.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Look to your golf game for help with your marketing

How golf can teach you lessons about marketing.

Who doesn’t love golf? Well, actually I can name a few but if you are like me you love the game. It is a mentally challenging and skillful display of focus and determination. I often try to meet with clients at the driving range or on the course as much as I can. It’s a nice way to break up the day. Hitting a bucket of balls and talking over a current strategy is more appealing than sitting in a boardroom.
But as an avid golfer and an authority on advertising I often find a plethora of parallels between the teachings of golf and the lessons in marketing. Here are a few that I would like to share and hopefully they will put a smile on your face.

You’re a Hooker!
No not that type, someone who hooks the ball in golf is someone that constantly pulls shots to the left. It’s a common ailment that plague recreation golfers. (so is the slice, when the balls pulls to the right) What you really want is the ball to go straight or at least be able to control when the ball slices or hooks. But most of us can’t do it on command because we don’t know how. Well such is true in advertising. Clients want their advertising to achieve certain goals but they’re not quite sure why their current efforts aren’t working. They don’t know how to fix it. Well in golf, if you want to fix your swing you must go to a golf pro and have them analyze it. They can show you certain elements to fix and adjust. Once you put them to practice the magic happens and your hook or slice begins to go away. Just like advertising, if you hire a pro, they will evaluate your current situation, look at what you’ve been doing and tell you what isn’t working and why. Then they will suggest a few things to change and make some strategic recommendations. With the right plan in place you can watch the magic happen as your marketing garners the results you want.

Nice clubs, crappy shot.

If you golf chances are you may know someone like this, they have a really expensive set of golf clubs but they don’t know how to hit the ball. They look good, until they start swinging. I know a guy who every year goes out and buys new clubs, really expensive ones. He has to have the latest technology and engineering because he feels it’s vital to his game. Ironically his “game” is not that good. Having the latest and greatest doesn’t always mean that it’s going to work for you. Such is true in advertising. There are a lot of different ways to get your brand message out there, some are new (SMM, Mobile Marketing, QR codes)with all kinds of cool features (crowd sourcing) but if you don’t know how to use them properly you are just throwing your money away. Instead of spending a ton of money on the latest golf clubs, first learn to hit the ball properly. Just like in advertising, before you go out and try every new tactic, first get a handle on your strategy then use whichever cool, new media fits your strategy and make it work for you. You’ll get way better results.

 Everybody thinks they’re a pro

So, you decide you want to take up the game of golf, you tell a few people and all of a sudden everyone is giving you advice on how to swing. They really mean well, but the inundation of info can be crazy. Open your stance, bring the club back slow, don’t calk your wrists, caulk your wrists, turn your hips etc. Before you know it your head is spinning. The truth is, people just want to share with you what has worked for them but be careful because it may not be the right advice for you. Taking the wrong advice can set you back even further from where you started. So how do you know what to listen to or what not to? Easy, go see a pro. There are many people who think they can just figure it out on their own and achieve success. (In golf those are usually the ones you see on the course spending more time searching for their ball than enjoying the game.) When it comes to marketing lots of businesses think they can go it alone and handle it themselves. They usually end up wasting time and money searching for why it didn’t generate the results they were expecting. A professional can put you on the road to success a lot faster and often times with much greater results than if you tried to figure it out on your own.

So to recap here are some steps to get your advertising game in shape.

1)    Take the time to do some research and find yourself a great pro to help you out. How do you know if they are good at what they do? Check their track record. Their previous work is all you have to go on. If they have done great work for other clients chances are they can help you out too.

2)    Strategy, strategy, strategy. I can’t say it enough. It’s the basis of great work. Without it you’re being led astray. If any company offers you a tactic before offering you a strategy run away. A proper strategy will outline the proper target, the proper messaging and the right tactics to express that messaging and ways to measure your success. Operating without a strategy is like walking up to the tee and not aiming towards the hole. What’s the point?

3)    You don’t have to use all the new channels of marketing to be successful. That being said, you do have to be integrated. No one tactic alone will pull enough results for you so combine a few efforts. Do some online advertising with some SEO and then offset it with a great online video or TV commercial. Make sure it all works together to get the results you want.

4)    And finally be bold. That’s right don’t be vanilla or middle of the road. Take a stance and stand out from your competitors. Find new ground that they have yet to tread on. Make waves, big waves and rock the boat. Be strategic in your approach, clear and singular in your messaging and bold and edgy in your execution and you’ll knock it out of the park every time.
As you can see the life lessons that golf can teach us are abundant and wise. Next time you’re looking to increase your bottom line take a look at your golf game, you just might find the answer.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The all-important brand positioning.

The key to your marketing success is in the positioning. Position is that one descriptive sentence or slogan the company is known for. It’s that one specific idea that first comes to mind about the product. It’s the one characteristic that sets the service apart from competitors.

For Volvo that one thing is "Safety."

Nike is “Just do it”

And everyone knows Ford Trucks is “Built Ford Tough”

The first step is to identify one specific attribute that sets the company, product, service or brand apart from competitors.
Just because a competitor could possibly say the same thing doesn't mean you should not use it. The first to plant their flag claims the mountain.

While positioning is how you want to be known, it must reflect reality. How the company is known and perceived. Or how it can believably be known.

Example: The way people really think about Starbucks is "Great taste, but more expensive." (most people anyway)
So you might position them with a slogan that says, "The taste is worth it." You could even build a campaign around that idea.

Your positioning statement should reflect the way people really think -- using simple language real people really use.
Lay's potato chips had a campaign using the line, "Bet you can’t eat just one." The idea is to position Lay's chips as a great tasting potato chip. It works well because that expression was not associated with another product.
Ready to position your company, product or service? Try this:

Step 1: Make a list of your significant competitors and write a sentence defining their position in the market.
Step 2: Next define the current position of your company, product or service, as it really exists in the minds of consumers. Keep it real.
Step 3: Now identify a specific attribute about your product that can differentiate it from the competition in a way that some consumers will find desirable.

Don’t stop at just one. Come up with as many as you can. Then pick the best, and if one doesn’t stand out as best, then test several.

It's ok if that one thing only appeals to a partial segment, even a small segment, of your customers. It's better to be specific than general. So don't try to be all things to all people all at once.
It must be simple. A word or two is great.

If it's obvious, that's fine. If the company is the global leader in widget production, say so. People like to go with number one, thinking it must be the best value.

- Genius is in simplicity and specificity. Success is in consistency.

And you must express the position in a way that people find genuine.
Some examples.

Forget anything like, "The innovative leader in banking services, financial products and convenient technology."
People just don’t think that way. They don't use those kinds of words when thinking to themselves. So a complex phrase like that won't stick in their minds.

Here's something more layman: "TD, making banking more comfortable."
Another loser could be something like this, "White Sands Resort is the fun place for the whole family to enjoy a wide variety of amenities, great cuisine and create lasting memories in one breath-taking location."
That's way too much. Who is going to keep a phrase like that in their head?
A better one might be, "White Sands Resort, home of family fun."

Keep it simple. Succinct. And see if your positioning statement passes this checklist:
* Is it true?
* Is it easy to understand?
* Does it differentiate the product in an attractive manner from the competition?
* Is it expressed the way people will express it in their own minds, their own words?

The biggest obstacles you will encounter attempting to effectively position a product/service is the desire to generalize, complicate, and change.

You'll hear clients say, "Yes, but our toothpaste does fight cavities and it does brighten teeth and it does keep your breath fresh and it does help prevent gum disease. It does all those things."
Yeah, Mr. Client, but if you try to position your product that way you will be none of those things. That's because people don't think that way. Just like you, they position products with one idea. So brighten smiles. Or freshen breath. Or keep gums healthy. But don't try to do all three at the same time.

When and if you have a strong position, don’t change it. It takes courage to admit, "I don't have a better idea." And every new agency, every new brand manager feels they have to improve on what has been done before.
The most successful positioning statements are simple to understand and repeated year after year after year.

People remember with repetition.

People remember with repetition.

People remember with repetition.

Positioning is one of, and perhaps the most important elements in a marketing plan.
No matter if it’s a print ad of a safety pin in the shape of a car or sonogram of a child in the mother's womb, Volvo stands for safety. It’s a theme that is the focus in the majority of their advertising. It’s simple, clear and memorable.

So try to find your positioning and you’ll be well on your way to greatness.


Friday, May 14, 2010

Creativity is the magic potion

With the onset of so many numerous ways to reach consumers now the importance on content is more crucial than ever. This isn't new. In fact, unless you and your company have been under a rock for the last couple years this is the mantra of most that provide any form of advertising services. But what does having great content really mean? Everyone has an opinion and in most cases they are all right because content is a subjective element to the majority of people. What one person considers relevant content isn't what others might. But as a brand you should be more concerned with what your core target considers relevant content. Your content needs to be so much more than just relevant. It needs to be CREATIVE. That's right, the magical ingredient, the secret elixir that isn't really that much of a secret.
Some companies might disagree with this. Those companies are wrong. Look at any advertising effort whether it be a social media tactic, a tv spot, a billboard, a mobile effort and you will notice that the most creative executions are the ones that people engage with the most. Not convinced? Take a look at the best job in the world campaign done by Australia Tourism, this made social waves around the world with an alarming response rate and tens of thousands of dollars in free media. Why? Because it had a creative idea in it. Not that it was pumped full of SEO or that it had wads of research done to it but because it was creative. If you were to take out the creative idea, the main creative insight out of this campaign it would have failed horribly.
Here is another creative effort, this one is for Google Chrome Speed Test. It's simple yet creative. And with over a million views it's highly effective.
And yet another creative example is the Toyota Sienna van spots that launched on Youtube. (One little caveat here, if you are of the mindset that producing a video for Youtube is cheaper than say a TV commercial think again. If you want to produce high quality video you will pay about the same for production regardless where it ends up.)

But this is a great creative spot. Obviously their mission is to debunk the stigma of vans being unattractive and uncool. I think it's a funny spot that is strategically solid.

So how important is creative to your advertising or marketing efforts. IT's Vital!

So the next time you are about to promote your brand ask yourself this one question, is it creative?

Stay classy kids and keep your creative juices flowing.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Creative Juices. By the ounce or by the gallon?

The all important creativity. It's what separates the good stuff from the...well...not so good stuff. I've been a creative person working in the ad industry tooting the creative horn to get people to understand that it really is the quintessential element to the success of any communication piece. That being said, you can't have great creative without first having a solid strategy. They are two pees in a pod, they go together like peanut butter and jam, wine and cheese, Richard Simmons and tight shorts, you get the idea.

Creative ideas get people to engage. They provide reason for people to stop and take a moment out of their lives and listen, watch, touch, read and so on. The creative idea is the springboard that allows a brand to jump above the competition. Like a springboard eventually you will come back down but if the idea is executed properly it will have the momentum to jump back up again. The key to momentum is having a great idea that is relevant to your consumer and gives them reason to engage with it. No matter which channel you decide to use to execute (print, radio, TV, SMM, billboard, online) it has to be relevant and it has to be creative. Don't believe me? What was the last ad you saw or heard or interacted with today? Write it down. Who was it for? Now on your way home from work try to count how many ads you are exposed to. Chances are you will lose count about ten minutes in to it. But my point is this, you are being exposed to hundreds of ads a day and you are lucky if you remember just two of them. You will be really lucky if you come across one throughout the process of a week that you will really like and want to share. That's out of potentially thousands of ads. I call them ads but they could be any form of communication. Chances are the ones you really like, the ones that provide some sort of value to you are the most creative ones.

So why do companies continue to produce "mind garbage" stuff that is just filling the air and your life with uncreative, vanilla, middle of the road crap? Good question. Could be budget issues. Could be fear of offending someone. Could be stiff corporate Marketing Managers. It could be any number of reasons (everyone has one to add I'm sure) but regardless what they are if you're not being creative then you're not being as profitable as you could be.
With the advent of "social sharing" through the latest channels like Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Foursquare and the countless other ways of connecting with people, the chance of having your brand skyrocket through the social stratosphere is enormous. That is, if you have a creative idea that is relevant to people.

Recently a friend of mine posted some really great examples of creative ideas. It doesn't have to be a mind blowing idea just a fun creative way to get people to engage. Take a look at these.

McDonalds Interactive Billboard

McDonalds billboard 2

These are really fun ideas that get people involved with the brand. Not to mention the thousands of people who will be inadvertently sharing the McDonalds logo with all their social network channels. It's strategic and creative. Is it a huge, life-altering idea? No. But it doesn't have to be. It needs to be simple, creative and relevant.

So the next time you're planning a communication piece, regardless of what it is, ask yourself this: Does it  tie back to the strategy? Is it a relevant message that my consumers will be open to? And is it CREATIVE!!!

Onwards and upwards my friends.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Going up?

Advertising is like waiting for an elevator. Many people start their business and don’t advertise their brand. It’s like waiting for an elevator without pressing the button. Sure one might come along eventually but you never know when.
Such is true about the success of your business. If you don’t advertise it’s like not pressing the button. Sure you might eventually get some business but it is up to chance.
If you want to get more business, more sales and more market share you need to press the button. You need to advertise.
When you advertise you get people to come to you. Just like the button brings the elevator to you. Sounds simple right? Well it isn’t quite that simple.
Just like the elevator if you don’t know where you want to go the elevator won’t take you anywhere. If you go about advertising the wrong way or with companies that aren’t as experienced you could wind up going down instead of up.
Effective advertising starts with a strategy, one that is in line with your Marketing plan. If you don’t already have a marketing plan I can help you tailor one to your brand. If you already have one then I would suggest revisiting it. A marketing plan is organic, it lives and changes as does your company and the market place. It needs to be adjusted and revised to accommodate your growth.
Make sure your advertising is strategically aligned with your marketing objectives this will help you ensure your brand is going up instead of going down.
There is a common rule that most advertisers use when dealing with clients that may not be as educated on the industry and it goes something like this. There are three common requests that clients ask us for, I want it Cheap, I want it Fast and I want it to be Great.

As someone who has worked in some of the largest agencies across Canada and has run some of the smaller ones I can honestly say this holds true not matter what size of the agency or how big or small the client. The Triangle of needs is what I call it.

When a client requests something and asks for all three I tell them there are no such thing as unicorns or leprechauns and there's no such thing as getting everything that they ask for so pick two. If you want it Fast and Cheap then you're going to have to sacrifice Quality. If you want it Great and Fast chances are it won't be cheap.
You get the idea.

It's a great way of letting clients know that there are limitations to what can be pulled off within certain budgets and it allows us as advertisers to manage expectations properly.

It seems more and more that I hear of companies wanting to receive advertising services for cheaper rates. It’s important to know there is a fundamental difference between doing things cheap and doing things cost effective. The difference is strategy.

Sure you can have your neighbor's son as your designer and put out ads in your local publications for a cheap price. But if your strategy is to gain international reach and awareness then you are throwing your money away because you will never reach your goal.

Being strategic and creative will generate a winning combination for your dollars.

So press the button and start advertising but make sure you're strategic about it otherwise you could be heading to the basement.

Half Full or Half Empty??

What if you see both? What then? What if you see the positive side of only being half full and the positive side of only being half empty. Then what?? Is there possibly another category? Could it be possible that there are "pesimistoptimists" among us? I think I may be one. Being a libra I have a hard time making decisions anyway but often I find myself looking at things from all angles and trying to figure out the positive in each. Is it a lack of commitment or is it another category??

I can't decide.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Olympics are here

Well it's been a while since I last posted anything. I'm in the process of building a new venture. Stayed tuned for that.
The Olympics are here and as I sit here watching the live torch relay passing through the soggy Vancouver streets I can't help but get sucked into the hype. I woke up this morning to the sound of helicopters buzzing over my condo at 6:30am as they followed the runner carrying the torch. I guess there is room on the bandwagon to get into the spirit of the Olympics. The crazy closures and millions of dollars being thrown around this city makes you feel like the recession is years behind us. But I can't help but feel like we will be paying for this one for a long time.
I'm actually going to go check out some of the free venues, that is, if I can find a way to get downtown. If you want to see all the stuff going on check this out.

Talk to you all soon