If you’re anything like me, you’re getting tired of politics. This has been a disturbing year, especially given all the stalemates and political immaturity that’s running rampant in Washington. Additionally, if you’re anything like me, you’re getting tired of protests without a point. It’s time that our government focus on the important things like creating jobs for Americans, so as we embark upon a new year I thought I’d lay out an idea for you. I call it my proposal for the People’s (Tech) Bailout.
The tech industry has jobs, which is confounding because reports estimate there are as many as 10 million people in the US without jobs. In the tech industry, as many people have called it, its 1999 all over again. I’ve seen estimates ranging from 150,000 tech jobs added per year, to some people stating there are as many as 3 million open jobs in the US, many of which are in tech. The simple explanation is that most of the people who are out of work are not qualified with the necessary skills to be applied to the open jobs, but that’s a problem we can solve if we put our minds to it!
My solution is a simple one; training and placement. I’m typically not a fan of government stepping in and spending money, but in this situation I have an idea that would require them to step in, and they would actually make money while creating jobs, and revenue, all at the same time.
Step 1: For the millions of people who are out of work and are actively looking for work, the government will establish a payment of $1,000 per prospective employee for training.
Step 2: An independent start-up company would be established to train and place these people, using the $1,000 payment per prospective employee. The $1,000 should be enough to take an educated person, and train them in specific jobs that are available, especially if the companies who have these open jobs are incentivized to provide information and training materials in order to get these people up and running.
Step 3: The independent start-up would use those payments as revenue to pay for staff and resources to get these people trained over a 3-month period to be capable of entering into these companies and filling open jobs. The requirements would be that the jobs be U.S. based, and that the prospective employees be U.S. citizens, in order to take advantage of the program.
Step 4: When these jobs are filled by the prospective employees, they will have a portion of their wages garnished over a 3 month period to repay the training fee, plus a 100% mark-up (an additional $1,000, for a total of $2,000). This money would be used to repay the government loan, and the government and the independent start-up would split the additional fees. In this manner, the government would be repaid their outlay of funds, the start-up would create training jobs and put some percentage of people to work, and we would have successfully retrained millions of people who want to work, and placed them in positions where they can work.
I know this sounds too easy, which is why the government will probably never pursue it, so I’m putting it out here for all of you to read and respond to. The government would have the cash to kick-start this kind of a program, but anyone with enough funds could honestly make it happen. It’s a revenue driver, and a guaranteed one at that.
What do you think? Is 2012 the year that someone makes this kind of thing work? If you’re an Occupy person or any other protester, and you see an idea like this, then you should be incentivized to at least react. Otherwise, you have no right to gather and protest for the sake of protesting.
Consider this idea my entrepreneurial Christmas gift. Happy holidays everyone!
Over the last few months I’ve written a number of columns that attempted to remind us all that content is king. Just to clarify before I go any further, its not that I don’t love data, targeting and technology – I do. It’s that none of these work without good, solid, beautiful, engaging content.
A number of publications have been publishing their year-end issues and recaps, and many of them are calling out their favorite commercials and ads of the year. AdWeek’s list was topped by my personal favorite, “The Force” Volkswagen commercial. If you haven’t seen this one, then you live in a bubble because apparently this one has received almost 45 million views on YouTube alone, and that doesn’t count the countless copies and shares that may not have surfaced on YouTube. This spot is a prime example of why content is king; its about the craft of telling a story in 60 seconds or less.
Storytelling is most certainly an art form, and there is no debate about that. You can debate the balance of art and science in advertising till you’re smurf-blue in the face, but when you dive into the storytelling side of the business, and the creative requirement to do so, this is art; pure and simple. Storytelling in 60 seconds is about tapping into a notion that is relevant and familiar in the minds of your target audience and delivering emotion and an experience that they will remember. You have an opening to set the stage. You tease the promise of something intriguing, and you deliver a “punch line”, so to speak. There has to be something delivered that pays off the promise that was originally teased and that ties your story into something your audience can relate to. In “The Force” spot, the creative team tapped into the zeitgeist of Star Wars, which is one of the most recognizable and beloved storylines in history, as well as the innocence and naiveté of being a young boy, which at least half the audience will immediately understand. Of course, using a young buy immediately taps into the Mom’s in the audience as well, so the spot cleverly taps into the mindset of a robust audience on both sides of the coin.
What’s great about that spot is it is 100% based on music and imagery; there is no talking? You have to watch it again to realize there’s a beautiful story being told, but no one is voicing it. This is storytelling of the highest degree, and there is a reason I point this out. Everyone gets excited that online video is finally taking off, but that kind of storytelling can be applied to all sorts of online advertising, whether its video or not. Imagery, music and creative storytelling can be applied to anything online, whether it’s a flash ad, a micro site, or anything else that you can dream up. If that’s the case, why are online ads so universally derided for not being effective?
My gut says its because we don’t give them the attention they deserve on the creative side of the business. Clients ask their creative resources to churn and burn. They ask them to create libraries of banners to run through billions and trillions of impressions, without asking them to dive a little deeper and find something that will resonate. They should be tasking their creative resources to come up with something more inventive, more innovative, and that will tell a story using the assets they have and creating something that is relevant, familiar and can deliver emotion and an experience they will remember. That video was watched almost 45 million times, and people still love it. No wear out there!
Storytelling is the oldest form of communication in the history of the world, with stories having been passed down from generation to generation as a form of historical record. Advertising can be looked at in the same way. How many times have you looked at old ads, or seen artwork depicting old ads? Andy Warhol spent a portion of his career in pop art just stylizing advertising, so why shouldn’t the work we do today have the same gravitas as that? Why can’t someone look upon the online advertising of today and say, “Man, that stuff was good”!
In 2012, I hope that the creative fire gets lit and that we, as an industry, start to come up with ideas that will have impact. I know you have the skills and the desire, now its up to you to find the time.
And may the force be with you.
Every year about this time I sit down and try to play Nostradamus for next year. It’s not that exciting, and I’m batting about .500 over the last 10 years, but its fun and its worth a shot and gets me thinking proactively rather than reacting to what I see day in and day out. Lots of smarter people will come up with far more intelligent predictions than I , but hopefully you find these to be interesting!
So, without further adieu, my predictions for 2012:
1. Apple and Amazon Will Own The Web: Google and Facebook may own your data, but Apple and Amazon will own how you get on the web. The burgeoning tablet space is where the growth is, and Apple and Amazon are there. The iPad is the top selling tablet by far and the third version is coming out this year (along with the iPhone 5). The Kindle Fire is easily going to jump into the number two spot, especially after this holiday season (and just wait until the Amazon phone comes out). It’s like the old days, when AOL owned your access and Yahoo owned your experience of the web, however this generation of players knows what to do with that attention. In related news, Apple is steadily increasing its percentage of the standard PC market, so things do not bode well for the likes of HP, Lenovo and Acer or the other PC manufacturers. It’s a short list of players these days, and Apple and Amazon are clearly in the driver seat for access to the web.
2. A Major Brand Will Fire Their Agency, And Bring ALL Digital In-House: I may have said this before, but I predict that this will be big news this year. Someone in the top 25 of online ad spending is going to get fed up with their agency relationships and they’re going to decide to do it themselves. This is the year where the agency business gets a rude awakening, and they finally start trying to mend their own fences. For the last 5 years we’ve heard the “agency is broken”, but no-one has offered up a solution. I think this year, someone will be forced to find a solution, or risk the onset of extinction.
3. The Occupy Movement Will End (And Nothing Will Have Changed): Unless that movement finds a voice, provide direction, and can push an agenda of solutions rather than sheer complaining, it will become a footnote in historical textbooks of how not to foster a revolution. I said it before and I will say it again; when you “protest” something but don’t offer a solution, you’re just complaining and nobody likes a complainer. There’s a point somewhere down deep in the story of Occupy, but its being missed. It’s a wasted opportunity for change. The reason I bring this up is that a whole generation of people are either going to become exceptionally motivated to be involved, or will further descend into lackadaisical malaise. That can have an effect on marketing, because a dull consumer base can easily affect consumer spending, and therefore marketing. If this generation is motivated for change, they have energy, and energy translates into action, and action is a good thing. If the 99% can increase their share of the pie, then they increase their share of the economy, and that means consumer spending can increase as well. For a marketer, that’s a good thing.
5. Social Media Marketing Will Hit The Tipping Point: This is the year when marketers shift substantial dollars into social media marketing campaigns, whether they use social graph data, social ad placements, or social sharing as the vehicle of choice. The last 4 years have seen the social strategy evolve and mature, and many marketers are testing it successfully, but I think 2012 is the year when social becomes a standard line item for marketers, in much the same way that search did. It’s an always on line item; an always functioning piece of the marketing pie.
And just for fun, a few random predictions that may or may not come true…
- Pearl Jam will release an amazing new album (fingers crossed).
- The elections will see the worst voter turnout of the last 24 years (unfortunately).
- The NBA will see a significant decrease in ticket sales this season, as a result of the lockout and negative press associated with it.
- Yahoo will be purchased by someone (I predicted this last year too, and have to stick with it this year, again).
- The new Spiderman movie will be awesome and the new Batman movie will be amazing, but won’t beat the gross revenues of The Dark Knight.
- The world will NOT end in 2012 (sorry Mayans).
And one last prediction – I predict that many of you will have a wonderful year, so enjoy yourselves and have a toast to 2012!
Thanks for reading this past year!
Virality. This is the single most important, most over-utilized, and meaningless term in digital marketing today. Virality applies to the concept of sharing content that happens spontaneously, through great planning or dumb luck. Virality is what you all want, and its something that many of you will never get.
There are elements that you can manipulate to try and increase the opportunity for something viral to take place, but you can’t control it. In the immortal words of Dan Patrick from his days at ESPN, “you can’t stop it, you can only hope to contain it”.
For virality to happen to need to have a couple key ingredients:
1. Strong, engaging, funny or immensely relevant content
Without truly engaging and relevant content, your message will go nowhere. You need the kind of exclusive, first-mover advantage content that people will see, will immediately apply to themselves and their situations, and will share.
2. Share functionality, built in and noticeable
Think through the user interface and make sure your share buttons are prominent, easy to use, and tap into Facebook, Twitter and email. Many people forget about email, but the majority of sharing still happens through email, so don’t overlook it.
3. A launching pad that stokes the fire for a large initial blast
You need a launching pad, and that can be an online campaign using Facebook, banners or in-game text ads. It can also be a TV campaign, or even a print campaign. You need something that can reach a large audience in an uncluttered environment, and all at the same time.
4. The launch needs to be a big, fast blitz, not a tempered, gradual release
As they say… go big or go home. You need to make a quick splash and you need to do it now. That is the only way to spark the attention of the fans, and get them to share your content.
Funny Or Die is among the best at this, having figured out all of the above and making viral efforts almost better than anyone. Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake should be ushered into the Viral Hall of Fame for their recent efforts with the History of Rap. These are the kinds of efforts that gain notoriety immediately, and then just keep on going. They have taken viral to an art form, and one that we all desire to emulate. Of course, relevant to one of my last articles, virality is impossible without great content. To be blunt, crappy content will not be viral. If you are a brand looking to create some viral buzz, or if you are an agency looking to pitch a “viral” campaign (if you are, you should rethink your strategy), then you need to be hyper critical of yourself. You cannot drive viral without the content being high quality. You better focus test that creative, you better have something really special. If not, then you are not setting yourself up for success.
And one last bit of advice; don’t be afraid to spend money in lieu of virality. You can drive reach in any number of ways, and viral is the most ideal, but reach is reach. Sometimes the tipping point requires more mass reach than you thought.
Don’t you agree?