Creating an Destination? Build an Audience First.

“If you build it, they will come,” was a great line for a movie, but it’s a hopeful strategy at best. With so many things competing for our time, hoping you break through the noise isn’t a strategy at all. Building an audience is a proactive approach that connects your brand with the customer, and it’s happening all over. See how three companies built their audience first, then moved them to their destination. 

Read more in the complete post, published on the Wilson Advertising blog on 6/29/2017.

The First Step to Creating a Destination? Building an Audience.


Everyone has a different personality. There are those you seek out at a dinner party and others you trust in a pinch. They are probably not the same person.

The same is true with brands. Every brand has a personality, but that doesn’t mean everyone will love it all of the time. In fact, if a brand tries to be all things to all people, chances are it won’t mean much to anyone. The middle has proven to be a less than ideal place to be for a number of brands recently, from J.C. Penney to the Gap. It’s better to have a strong core of supporters than a field full of passive bystanders that don’t actively dislike your brand, but don’t love it either.

Read the complete post, Why Brands Need to Sharpen Their Focus, published on June 22, 2017, here:


The Cloud is Sexy – You Need Protection

If there has been a buzzword in the data and analytics world that has received as much attention as “big data” it is “cloud.” It’s fresh. It’s hot. It’s full of potential. And like a hacked celebrity phone full of pictures, people can’t stop talking about it, even when they don’t fully understand what they are talking about. The result is that myths and misconceptions can arise and be difficult to dispel.

The previous excerpt was first published on the Teradata PARTNERS blog on May 30, 2017, The Cloud is Sexy – You Need Protection.

Events and Scrappy Established Brands

How does a software company founded nearly 50 years ago compete with startups? One of the first software companies ever, Cincom®, competes every day in this era of startups and quick evolution. What’s their secret? They continue to connect with their audience on a personal level at every opportunity. And for one of their product groups, that means a variety of events.

Read the complete post, Events Keep a Fresh Face on an Established Brand, first published on May, 24, 2017 at

Changing Brand Audiences—A Dilemma for the Circus and Every Brand

The fear of the millennial generation disappearing individually into their devices and a virtual world hasn’t materialized. Maybe because of the digital separation, they are much more willing to spend their income on experiences instead of things. Whether it is to fulfill a need for human interaction or just to have something to share later, American spending on events and experiences has been on the rise since the digital generation arrived.

In the face of overall category growth, how did the circus fail and what’s in store for other iconic events and their changing brand audience?

Read the complete post, Ladies and Gentlemen, Say Goodbye to the “Greatest Show on Earth“, published on May 21, 2017.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Say Goodbye to the “Greatest Show on Earth”

Using Analytics to Make a Difference: Finding and Preventing Opiate Abuse

The growth of opiate abuse and addiction has hit epidemic proportions in the United States. The CDC recently estimated the total economic burden to be $78.5 billion a year. To say that the cost to lives, directly and indirectly, has been huge would be an understatement. Several states count more opiate prescriptions than people. Tennessee is one of those states. Serving more than 3.4 million Tennesseans, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee(BCBST) has been thrust into the middle of the epidemic.

The previous excerpt was taken from the Teradata PARTNERS blog post originally published on May 8, 2017, Using Analytics to Make a Difference: Finding and Preventing Opiate Abuse.



Ants, Twitter, and the Intelligence of the Masses

intelligence of masses - ants

If a collection of unbelievably individually stupid and irrational creatures can create something wonderful and self-sustaining – why do so many big businesses really, really, suck at doing either? By that I mean doing something wonderful or self-sustaining. That’s what I thought when listening toradiolab’s rebroadcast of emergence. Seriously. Certainly a collection of educated people should outperform a field full of fireflies, a bee-hive or colony of ants? But that’s not always the case.

The one glimmer of hope I took for humanity and the internet from this podcast was an example from Francis Galton’s observation at a county fair. In it, a collection of ordinary people generally presumed to be unfamiliar with the actual weight of oxen guessed at it’s weight. No single person was correct. However, the average of the all of the guesses was remarkably close.

It’s essentially how google works and part of what makes twitter so great. I believe and hope this is how democratic societies and the internet can work going forward. The collective of non-expert masses, or the wisdom of crowds, when applying themselves to do their best, can be collectively smarter than a small group of experts. The key is applying themselves to do their best.

So why do businesses fail? Sometimes while there may be collection of people, the actual decisions and action are only taken by a select few. Hence, it’s not really a crowd. It’s a few people with many underneath them. Another scenario is that often there are people at all levels doing less than their best, or working contrary to best interests of the organization. In either case, their colony – and their work – ultimately perishes. They get outworked by ants. Outsmarted by bees.

C’mon people, set a high bar for yourself, and your work.

Multi-tooled Marketers


The desire, make that necessity, to connect through stories hasn’t changed.

What has changed are the methods we can use and places we can tell those stories. And measure the results. And re-purpose those stories to different audiences and through different media. There are a lot of things to do, to do it well. That’s why you need marketers with a broad skill set that are razor-sharp and able tackle any content job. I call them Swiss Army Marketers.

The Swiss Army Knife was designed for one purpose, but a variety of jobs. It gives Swiss Army soldiers all the tools they’d need for any setting they are likely to encounter in the Swiss Alps. Similarly, Swiss Army Marketers have all the tools that a business will need to produce, promote, and measure relevant content for their audience.

Some of the skills they possess are:

  • Content Strategy
  • Creative Writing
  • Journalism
  • Analytics
  • Creative Direction/Editing
  • Marketing Automation

For more information, check out this quick overview, Swiss Army Marketers.

This entry was posted in Business Marketing, Creative Marketing, High Bar Marketing, Marketing Automation on March 13, 2013

What Happens When They Know Your Secret?

The Santa Story Cycle

Kevin McCallister: Okay. I know you’re not the real Santa Claus.
Santa Claus: [his beard is pulled down, revealing his real face] What makes you say that? Er, just out of curiosity.

Kevin McCallister: [to Santa’s helper] I’m old enough to know how it works. I also know that you work for him. I want you to give him a message …

Thats what Kevin McAllister tells the Santa on the sidewalk in the first Home Alone movie.

This is a process that Kevin and many children go through in their relationship with Santa Claus, presents and Christmas. They start out completely believing in the magic of Santa Claus. Then they turn to a slightly edited version of the story, because they want to believe. But eventually they arrive at a completely different version of reality. It’s still a great story and experience, but it’s very different than what we were told initially.

We discover the whole story. But we still want presents. And we still want to be surprised.

Business sales cycles often follow a similar path. How we move forward when people know everything about us is the question.

Believe The Magic

Our understanding and acceptance of truths ultimately impact what we believe. In the beginning prospects want to believe that your “X” will be the best and most magical thing ever. And that’s what you tell them. If the only time a person approaches perfection is their resume, the only time a company does is in their first series of sale contacts. This is a magical time–and customers want to believe! They have issues, pains, that need solved and you’re offering a solution. Of course they’re more than interested, they want to believe that this will be the savior, that you will take away their pain.

And of course, few things, even your spectacular offering, isn’t without some negatives. But you don’t reveal them now.

I Know How This Works

Eventually over time, some things won’t quite add up and customers will have questions. Much like Kevin can put together that a Santa with a fake beard in Chicago isn’t the “real” Santa from the North Pole, customers will begin to notice that some things aren’t as perfect as you’ve led them to believe. But they might be OK with it as long as they still get presents. That’s what really matters – will your solution do what it promises to do – and are the negatives small enough that they can be overcome.

While Kevin can believe a version that’s slightly different – satellite Santa Clauses – it’s not too long before the whole truth is out.

What Do You Mean You’re Santa?!?

As they get deeper and deeper into the process, they realize it’s not all silver and gold. And it’s not really magic. There will be some work to do. But it will still be worth all of the effort in the end. And actually, much of the feeling of satisfaction from the new solution will extend longer, if somewhat tempered. It’s much like parents get extended pleasure from planning gifts for their children.

As customers, the excitement is there, but it’s changed. But one thing hasn’t changed. Customers still want presents. They still want to be surprised (good unexpected surprises) by the decision they made to select your company. Don’t forget about them. Delight and surprise your customers with important things.

We know that Kevin is well on his way to completing his journey when the message he wants the Satellite Santa to deliver is the following:

Kevin: This is extremely important. Will you please tell Santa that instead of presents this year, I just want my family back. No toys. Nothing but Peter, Kate, Buzz, Megan, Linnie, and Jeff. And my aunt and my cousins. And if he has time, my Uncle Frank. Okay?

He might not know all of the story, but he knows the important parts.

Sometimes that communication is a non-verbal tell, maybe just a look.

“I know you’re not the real Santa, but …”

The time is going to come when they know. The time to recognize and prepare for that moment is now. How will you explain your story?


This entry was posted in Business Marketing on March 16, 2016 by Devin Meister.

More Intelligence of Masses – How Clever

I love @radiolab. I was clearing out podcasts today and had more thoughts on how groups make and can drive decisions. The “Turing test is a test of a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of an actual human.” Quite a goal. It led me back to Again.

Cleverbot “learns from real people” based on previous interactions. It’s using the all the interactions to get smarter and more real in its interactions. It’s getting close and can feel real at times. But it’s not quite there, unless you have really strange conversations. It is interesting. Check it out, if you haven’t already.

Added: Or today you could just ask Alexa. Or Google home. Or Bixby.

This entry was posted in High Bar Marketing on May 29, 2013 by Devin Meister.