Monday, September 21, 2015

Postcard Advertising during the Bubble Era

I mentioned earlier that I picked up a box of collectible advertising post cards at an estate sale auction recently.  Some of the postcards in the collection are for New York City businesses that were trying to launch during the now infamous Bubble.

One of the companies trying to etch out a niche for themselves in New York  City was Social Circles.

Social Circles billed themselves as New York City's first activity and social network club.

Talk about an idea that was ahead of it's time, Social Circles decided to compete with the 175 year old old school social clubs and take their version online.

They tried two different postcard campaigns to promote their social networking site.  The first one (above) was a fold - out mailer which tried to sell membership into the site with a 10% discount. With the 2nd postcard, the company (or agency) decided to cut out the fluff and just went with a simple old-school design and a short memorable message.

Another Bubble Era advertiser was the Travel| Gear | Community | Adventure site  GORP

Unfortunately, this postcard doesn't define specifically what GORP had to offer.  The back of the postcard declares that

"GORP Can Help You

From mountain hiking in Australia to fishing int Montana, GORP is your resource.  Plan a vacation, find the right gear and get advice from the experts. Whatever you need, GORP GETS YOU OUT THERE."

It's always a bad sign when a company doesn't know what problem they're solving for consumers.  GORP created an eye catching postcard - but without strong selling content - the postcard is doomed from the start.

This is not the fault of the agency or the copywriter.  Since a copywriter gets direction from the owners of a company, he/she could only work with what they were given.

In stark contrast, a postcard with a well defined message in the collection was for New York Waste Match Advertising Postcard.

New York Waste Match was an online service offering access to a database where artists, designers and manufacturers could locate raw materials at significant savings.

Not surprisingly, the company still survives today though under a different name and url.

Defined focus - and an understanding of the problem you're solving are key ingredients to creating a compelling, selling advertising postcard campaign.

Other Bubble Era postcards from the collection include:

Loco Soda Advertising Postcard

Siegelgale Branding and Communications Agency Postcard 

Madison Square eshow

NY Today New York Times Advertising Postcard

It's easy to see that these postcards are from the Bubble era.  It's kind of hard to remember what it was like when a business was unique because they had a web presence... but that's exactly what it was like way back in the early 2000's.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Postcard Advertising: Two Highly Collectible Advertising Postcards from 1998

I recently picked up a box of unposted, unused collectible advertising postcards at an estate auction. Two particularly interesting collectible advertising postcards are from 1998.

Peter Beard African Bull Elephant Carnets Africains Postcard B&W Photo
One of  the most visually striking collectible postcards features a beautiful black and white photo of an African Bull Elephant by by Peter Beard. The postcard was created to promote the retrospective exhibit in New York City, "Carnets Africains."

Peter Beard has always been passionate in his perpetual war against the unethical game hunting of elephants and other wildlife in Africa. He has spent long stretches of time in Kenya photographing the beauty and destruction of big game.  He has collaborated with many well-known artists such as Francis Bacon, Andy Warhol and Andrew Wyeth, as well as the writer Truman Capote. His images of The Rolling Stones during their 1972 American tour are among the most iconic in the band's history.

The black and white photo of a bull elephant missing a tusk is both powerful and poignant.

Another interesting find in the collection is an extremely rare still sealed 1998 Grand Central Commemorative Limited Edition Collector Postcard Set.  This limited edition set of postcards was issued to celebrate the 1998 restoration and  rededication of the 1913 landmark Grand Central Terminal.  The restoration was done by the New York firm of Beyer Blinder Belle and the Limited Edition Collector Postcard Set was issued to thank customers of the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority).

The Grand Central sticker with logo is still intact, sealing the collection of postcards inside the frosted translucent envelope.

It's f

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Advertising Self Mailer GoCard Social Circles New York's First Activity & Social Club

Social Circles Self-Mailer Advertising Piece

The thinking behind was simple: create an online community where New Yorkers could meet and mingle.

It's a tried and true concept.  New York City is home to many exclusive social clubs, a few dating back to the early 1800's.   According to Guest of a Guest, the ten most exclusive social clubs have membership dues that are measured in thousands of dollars and use unmarked club houses to protect their member's privacy.   Whether it's The New York Social Club, SoHo House, Norwood or The Belizean Grove - becoming a member of one of the elite social clubs takes more than money.  Sometimes you need to be well connected to join - for other clubs nothing short of having the right parents will get in.  One thing all of these successful social clubs have in common is the promise of keeping out the "wrong people" to allow members to socialize with the "right people."

Unfortunately, the founders of weren't able to focus on a single target audience : a.k.a a "Niche Market".   The website and club no longer exist - but the postcard was hidden in a box purchased at a recent estate sale.

While this advertising piece is post card size and it offers a 10%  discount to anyone presenting "this postcard" when signing up, the fact that it folds out to reveal copy inside makes it a self-mailer.

inside social circles self mailer

Despite being a self-mailer, I'm not quite sure how this piece was mailed however.    Here's a photo of the back of the card and as you can see, there isn't any space available for the destination name and address.  
back of mailer
Perhaps the plan was to either pass out the mailer at a trade show or on the streets - or perhaps enclose it inside an envelope.

It's a colorful collector's item now.  Check out the listing on ebay for this unmailed piece.

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Monday, October 06, 2008

Fast Track to Blog Success is Free until Friday!

Last week, announced that Bankaholic,1 Man Blog Sells for $15 Million Dollars.

A story like that is all you need to get some people moving towards launching their own blogs. If you've got a blog, then you know it's true - creating a blog is EASY. Creating a SUCCESSFUL blog is hard!

You should know that I'm a blog pusher by trade. I've helped HUNDREDS of people launch their own self hosted Wordpress blogs over the past two years. However, while teaching my clients the MECHANICS of blogging was easy - there's a LOT more to creating a successful blog than creating random posts.

To create a successful blog, you have to have a plan. So, I created the 8 Week Power Blog Launch to walk my clients step by step through the blog launch process. (I paced it over an 8 week Period because my clients would complain of "brain overload" when I tried to information dump on them!)

When I offered the 8 Week Power Blog Launch to the public, it had already served the intended purpose. One of my clients used the course to achieve a #2 ranking on her desired keywords. Another client had landed a 5 figure consulting contract as a result of her blog. I was happy, my clients were happy so any sales of the product from the site were just bonus.

When I started selling the program to "strangers" a funny thing happened. I started getting emails from people who didn't want to wait 8 whole weeks to finish the program. The buyers of the 8 Week Power Blog Launch program wanted instant results. I understand. I also grew up in an age where 30 minute solutions to life's biggest problems are considered possible thanks to the magic of television.

I was working on a "quick start blog success course" when the Bankaholic sale was announced. There's nothing like a successful case study to illustrate a point, so the Fast Track to Blog Success report includes an in depth analysis of the keyword strategy John Wu used to make the Bankaholic blog so attractive to the buyer,

If you head over to my blog at Virtual, you can pick up this report for free until Friday, October 10th. After that, the 100% discount code will be retired and you'll pay $24.95 for the report.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

The Lazy Ad Executive's Path to Success: Using Soft Core Porn to Sell Cars

  • Are you an advertising executive who is struggling for ideas?

  • Do you have a client who is being courted by other agencies?

  • Are you telling yourself that those other agencies are probably providing high class hookers to steal YOUR account away from you and your agency?

Well my friend, I have the three step answer which will put those fears of losing your agency's biggest client to ease.

ADVERTISING SUCCESS STEP ONE : Define the Target Audience

You may have been told that defining your client's target audience requires time and thought, BUT IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY!

Simply pitch your client that you're creating an "exciting" campaign that will appeal to men age 25-101 who earn $50K or more a year.

Your client should begin drooling immediately. If not, make sure it's not some feminine hygiene product. (You can still sell this demographic to them, you'll just have to exercise a tiny bit of creativity to do so.)

All clients love the high income male demographic. Be sure to stress that this demographic has not been hurt by the recent economic downturn. (If the economy is not in an economic downturn a.k.a. after an election, then emphasize that this demographic won't be hurt by the next down turn, a.k.a before the next election.)

If they're not drooling over the potential of this demographic, don't worry. We'll close them solidly later on.

ADVERTISING SUCCESS STEP TWO: Create a campaign based on soft porn

Present your lewd and lascivious print campaign. (See BMW's example of lews and lascivious advertising here.)

Be sure you find a model who's barely legal for this ad and be sure that she's an aspiring porn star. Remember, you may be telling your CLIENT that the target demographic for this ad is high income men ages 25-101, but in reality what you're going for is a complete lack of blood flow to the brain every heterosexual man in the room.

See, God played a cruel trick when He created man. In essence, He didn't give men enough blood to run both their brains and their genitals at the same time. So, by creating a print ad that effectively drops the IQ of every male executive in the room to 1, you eliminate any resistance to your low effort/low creativity advertising promotion.

If the lady is as lovely in person as she is in print, bring her to the meeting. Be careful not to hide her many "attributes". On the other hand, if she's been heavily airbrushed, then bring in scantily clad 18 year olds who are future Playmates to help launch the campaign.

Remember, the goal is to reduce the IQ of every man in the room to 1. Once that is achieve, victory is yours.

ADVERTISING SUCCESS STEP THREE: Gentlemen, put on your flame suits.

Now you can sit back and reap the fruits of your labor. The women's groups will see your ad and raise a ruckus. Nothing generates more free PR than a bunch of picketers in front of the business.

If your client gets nervous, point out that there's no such thing as bad publicity. Point out how much such airtime would cost if the client were buying that time. Now, try to figure out a way to bill your client for PR services in addition to billing them for the ad.

There you have it, 3 easy steps to pave the lazy ad executive's path to advertising success.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Business Website Design Preparation

It doesn't matter if you're preparing to launch a Blog or a static website, preparation is by far the most difficult part of the business website design process.

Business website design preparation ideally should begin with a complete review of the marketing strategy of the business. After all, most business websites are considered marketing tools, heck they could be classified as an advertising expense.

Notice I said marketing strategy... the business seeking to launch or relaunch a website should not consider the website merely a marketing tactic. There's a huge difference between a marketing tactic and a marketing strategy.

(Read Why the best marketing tactics may fail to produce results for a thorough explanation of the difference between a marketing strategy and a marketing tactic.)

As Shakespeare would say, "Ah, there's the rub!"

The most difficult part of business website design preparation isn't which Content Managment System to use... nor what language to use to code the site. It isn't even deciding upon the design elements tha tis the most difficutl part of business website design preparation.

The most difficult part of business website design preparation is creating the content... the marketing message that the website will be asked to carry.

Every other step in the business website design preparation is based upon the marketing strategy of the business.


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Blog Diagnostic Tool to Create a Better Blog

First, WHEW!!! Blogger doesn't think this blog is spam! I was just reading A Newbie's Guide to Publishing: Fuzzy Navel & Help Needed and blogger thought his blog was spam. Which is weird because to a human, his blog doesn't look like spam at ALL!

Most of the web is ruled by machines.... programs really. Sometimes the machines don't see things as we humans do, as is the case of the blog above being marked as spam by Blogger.

However, sometimes the machines can help us to see things more clearly. Such is the case with Wordle. A Wordle is a word cloud with style. Wordle can take the contents of your blog's rss feed and create a beautiful word cloud which shows you what your blog looks like to the machines.

In my post Blog Diagnostic Tool - Wordle: Graphic Illustration of Your Blog’s Content I show different wordles for different blogs. The wordle I created for my book's blog Beyond Niche Marketing shows that I've been spending too much word capital on "free" and not enough on "niche".

It's important to write your blog for the human visitors... but it's equally important to keep the machines in mind. The machines are what run the search engines and the search engines drive a LOT of the traffic on the internet.

If you're blog is struggling to find it's place in with the machines, Wordle is a great tool to let you see graphically what you've been blogging about from the eyes of the machine.

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