If you build it incompletely, they will act.

December 9, 2010

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @ NYCA

Dr. Evil had it right when he said to his Mini Me, “You complete me.” Healthy interdependence is a wonderful and productive state for people and brands. (Must have worked for the villains, the Austin Powers films have pulled in $670 million. Wahahahaha!)

This vulnerability is a challenge. It’s the craftsperson’s nature to create with all the details buffed and shined. But if they want their work widely appreciated, they must build a connection point – a place for buyers to grab hold. This is true as well for the communications we build if we want recipients to act.

The incomplete idea is a cooperative effort. It goes from my work to our work; beginning in need of information from others to make itself whole. It has an inherent call to action: Like button. Comment. Contest. Fill-in-the-personal-info-blank. Upload your face on this head of a celeb. In other words: participate.

Once that action occurs three things follow: 1- the communication is furthered and 2- the recipient is changed into an owner; they are invested in its well-being and have the motivation to share their idea by the millions, which leads to 3- the incomplete idea now completed has become an idea worth advertising vs. an advertising idea.

We can see the difference between attribute and benefit-oriented work where a headline might go: “This revolutionary pencil has three points to write, color and dream with.” Now, the community building idea: “One pencil. 3 points. Show us what you can do with them and post your creation for all to vote on.”

The first comes complete and tells the product story. The second won’t be finished without the responses and endless stories, and a new perspective from a target could even change the product!

I used to get papers back with red marks from grade school teachers saying my work was incomplete – payback time, Mrs. Breudermaker! (Wahahahaha!)

Create work that has roles for your targets to make it their work, because your work won’t be complete unless it starts out incomplete.


Being there means your brand cares.

March 23, 2010

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @ NYCA

A client looked me in the eyes this week and told me, “Michael, it’s better to be fast and wrong than slow and right.”

I think it was directional in nature. Still, it was quite a statement. It’s conceding that the speed needed to move at in today’s business environment is reaching a pace of acceptable recklessness.

Woody Allen said something like, “99 percent of success in life is showing up.” Not sure if it’s exactly how he said it, but you get the point: you don’t have to be perfect, just raise your hand and be counted all the time. That’s harder these days as there are so many places to be.

Reminds me of how my mother forced me to go to kindergarten even when I was absolutely dying from excruciating, intolerable, at-the-doors-of-death-pain with a tummy-ache. I didn’t do much schoolwork that day but the important part (to my mom and teacher – you can say, my customers) was that I was marked present. And being there, even physically wounded, counted more than being fully mentally present.

Today’s marketing environment is a great deal about brands being here and there. And these days, with the proliferation of .coms, social sites, applications, and meet-ups, there are so many more parties where one needs to be seen that you could well show up underdressed. What’s a brand to do?

The perfectionist’s motto, “measure twice, cut once,” has become: “cut, oops, cut better, oops, cut, repeat constantly, just keep cutting.”

Why such a rush? Is it worth it? Our successful customer is saying “Yes.” Because consumers have a seemingly all day and night hunger for content and they demand to be served promptly and frequently with constant feedback and the occasional coupon.

Like any close and good relationship, brands and consumers don’t get caught up in the small stuff. Mistakes are overlooked and, because we do move so fast, they are forgotten in a matter of several tweets.

Are we saying that quality isn’t as important as quantity? This makes me queasy but I think so. Quantity is taking precedence because touching all those touch points means you’re there for me in all these places, all the time, and the sum is: you care.

Now, of course, some mistakes are more grievous than others. Be sensible as you speed along, but keep that speedometer pressing on the red as we head to another party at which to be seen.

When he protested that Macintosh wasn’t ready yet to launch, Guy Kawasaki was assured by Steve Jobs, “Don’t worry, be crappy.” They launched and they made it better on the run. Quite a run it’s been.

So here’s the dress code: even if slightly untucked here and there, make sure your brand shows up. Often.

In other words, “Get your business out of bed and get out there right this instant or else!”

Just like momma said.