As the Fabulous Honey Parker and I traverse the nation in the Slow Burn Marketing Brand Response Unit, we have been doing something interesting.
We've been staying at vineyards and wineries that welcome people in recreational vehicles to stay overnight.
It's a welcome alternative to sleeping in Walmart parking lots (which is a whole subculture unto itself), or in roadside rest areas.
Granted, it's an unwritten rule that one makes a purchase from the host winery.
But unless you go crazy, it's definitely less expensive than a pay-to-stay campground, though one misses the joys of a fleet of motorhomes dispensing hordes of screaming children into the grounds.
We are willing to suffer through.
AT ONE WINERY, WE MET A PROPRIETOR WHO STARTED TALKING ADVERTISING
He found out what Honey and I do for a living, and for some reason he decided he had to start peeing all over radio.
He said, "I keep getting all these radio guys coming in here and telling me I need to be on radio.
"Why would I want to be on radio?
"You can't tell if radio's working! You can't track it!
"I have an online ad, I can look at the analytics! I can see who got it and the demographic breakdown. I can see everything about it!"
Notice, he did not say anything about being able to tell if anyone bought anything.
And if you know anything about moi?
YOU KNOW YOU DON'T WANT TO BE DISSING RADIO TO ME
With a lifetime as a lover of radio, and more than a decade in radio advertising with a long list of awards and big ROI performances, I will defend radio.
But I did not reveal any of those things to this gentlemen who was letting us stay in his vineyard.
Instead, I said, "There are two really easy ways to track radio.
"One, put a flag in the commercial. We have an eye doctor client in New Hampshire whose tagline is, 'Straight talk, better vision.' People love it. They're constantly coming into his office and repeating it to him. He doubled his new patient base in 10 months.
"So, if you can come up with a memorable and desirable flag, that's one way.
"The other way is with an irresistible offer that you're not running anywhere else. If people come in asking for the offer or if they're going online to buy it, that's a way to track it."
AND I STOPPED THERE
One reason is I didn't want to seem impertinent or come off as a know-it-all.
And the other reason is I could see his face.
He was glazing over.
He didn't want to hear it.
He had no interest in being disabused of his preconceived notions about the efficacy of radio advertising and one's ability to track it.
Too bad, really. I could have given him many more ways to effectively track radio.
I could have talked about how doing radio well is to be building a local celebrity brand.
I could have told him stories about extraordinary ROI--as high as 2,000% using the offer irresistible-offer tactic mentioned earlier.
But he was obviously the bean counter in charge.
HIS ABILITY TO COUNT BEANS IS SUPREME!
The problem is, people are not beans.
People are soft, squishy creatures with emotional engines that drive the decision making process.
And looking around his winery, it is plainly evident that he knows everything he needs to know about his business.
His branding is a mess.
He has a logo that lacks distinction. It doesn't make the name prominent in any any way, and happens to encourage the misspelling of the brand name. (Using traditional icons to represent homonyms will do that. The city of Elkhart, Indiana uses an icon of an elk head inside of a heart shape. You see that, and your brain says, "Elkheart.")
HIS WINERY VEHICLES HAVE BEEN WRAPPED
Fundamentally, that is a good plan.
But fundamentally, whoever is responsible for the wrap lacks any fundamental sense of focused design.
On the wraps, the indistinguishable logo with the hard-to-find name is practically invisible on the design.
The design is dominated by a giant face with a lurid grin.
There is a mish-mash of design elements that don't say anything about the winery, but create a jumbled mass of colors and distractions.
The only readable words are a line in giant letters that says something like, "Ya gotta try it!"
I'll bet the wrap shop designed it for free. And I'm sure that, as a beancounter, he thinks he got great value because he didn't need to hire an art director.
HE KNOWS ALL THE BEANS SO HE KNOWS ALL THE ANGLES, RIGHT?
He would benefit greatly from spending some money on someone with a proven track record who can speak to focused messages and ROI.
His branding unfocused and messy.
And he has all the answers because he hasn't bothered to ask any of the right questions to someone who knows.
He's a self-informed know-it-all.
It's very frustrating to witness.
That said, he's committed.
He's doing something that a lot of folks will never do.
HE HAS COMMITTED 100% TO HIS IMPERFECT BRANDING
He is conveying it to the public in a way that he feels makes sense.
He might be wrong about details. His ignorance is his bliss.
And he's not afraid to put the brand out into the world and push it forward.
You wouldn't believe how many people we've worked with who lack the courage to make the branding happen.
We've literally rebranded a business that was desperately in need of a makeover--only for the client to kill everything at the 11th hour after spending thousands.
One thing you have to do in this business (or any other) is know what you don't know.
But another thing you have to do is have the courage to commit and propel that baby out into the ether.
Courage and commitment can cure a lot of ills.
Even for the know-it-all who, when he wants your opinion, will give it to you.
Your Lean, Mean Creative Director in
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Blaine Parker is prone to ranting about any and all things related to brand. In many ways, he is a professional curmudgeon. While there is no known vaccine for this, the condition is also not contagious. Unless you choose it to be so.