Be useful.

More people will respond positively to your commercial communication if they find it useful.

In fact, a small increase in the usefulness of your communication reaps big rewards.

That’s not an opinion or speculation, that is, in fact, a fact. And a well researched fact at that.

You can find out more useful stuff about this below, along with a ton of other useful information that will transform your commercial communications.

If you’d like to find out even more, then please get in touch and I’ll be happy to make myself useful.

Creating truly effective communication is not that difficult once you break down the process, because the target audience almost does it for you.

Useful messages

that promise to improve lives

Delivered usefully

in ways that

connect viscerally

The only way to achieve this is to understand your audiences completely by listening both to what they tell you and what they don’t tell you.

If you need someone to listen, then please call (070 5895846).

Some other useful stuff.

Don't be dishonest.

General disappointment with the performance of digital media has put a focus on those who’ve been representing the interests of advertisers. And it seems many, if not all of the media agency groups have had their hand in the till. To be fair to Ronnie Biggs, he never managed to steal anywhere near as much as they’ve managed to.

Putting the message in the first 2 seconds of your online video ad isn't going to work.

Apparently, on average, people watch less than 2 seconds of online video ads. What do you think they’re doing during those two seconds? They’re desperately trying to find the off button. The only way someone could be less receptive to your message is if they were dead.

The average coupon response in 1986 was 2.5%. Today, digital response is about 50 times worse.

It’s mainly because advertisers have lost consumers’ trust through 20 years of useless online adverts. Thirty years ago there was enough useful information in the ads that people knew what they were letting themselves in for. Today, it’s seen as a crap shoot with the dice loaded heavily against the consumer.

Showing up to a social event with an agenda can get awkward quickly

And social media is a social event.

More useful creative generates a better return than more media

If you’re unkown, a ton of media will make even an average advert do something by simply raising awareness of your name. But don’t be fooled into thinking you can get away with this for long.

40 to 45 seconds is the most efficient TV spotlength

The combination of the flaws in linear TV audience measurement, how reach is built with TV, and the way TV channels charge for different spotlengths mean that 40 and 45″ films are the cheapest in terms of the cost per awareness point generated.

Multiple posters bought in the same location is a waste of money

Unless the creative execution calls for it.

You’re much better off placing a single poster in as many different locations as possible. If you feel the need to place multiple posters in a single location in order to be seen, then your creative execution isn’t useful to your audience.

Know when you're sponsoring amateur hour and understand the risks

Outside of the Internet, few companies advertise on unedited media produced by kids who spend a little too much time in their bedrooms. And if they do, they understand the risks and price it accordingly.

Never look at your target audience through a mirror

One of the most common problems. Usually caused by ‘gut-feel’ and perpetuated by the fact that if you work in advertising and create a campaign that appeals to yourself, then it’ll appeal to your peers, and your peers give out awards. In the meantime, your client’s target audience will ignore it.

Don't pay for badly handled ads

The medium is also the message. If the medium you’ve paid for your ad to be exposed within doesn’t expose it in accordance with what has been agreed (or if they do something as stupid as what you can see above), don’t pay for it.

Always buy audience or response; never spots, pages, sites, banners...

If you don’t know the audience you’ll be getting for any media buy (who, how many, when, and in what environment they’ll be delivered within), then you shouldn’t be buying it.

Most of the audience you buy in any medium doesn't automatically exist

How many are brought into existence is dependent upon how useful your creative work is to them. For example, on average less than 50% of TV ratings are seen, though this can be drastically increased with useful creative. Useful creative is even more important in print, online, posters and radio when trying to convert bought audience into actual audience.

You know it's easy to work out an average market price for commercial media right?

It’s just supply over demand, or revenue divided by audience delivered. Both aren’t that difficult to find out. Know this and you know if you’re being ripped off.

Native advertising is seen as deceptive

43% of adults in the US say they feel disappointed or deceived by native ads, with this percentage increasing with age. A fifth of people say they think worse of a brand that uses native ads, while a tenth are more positive. So common sense is right sometimes.

Don’t try to get people to like you by telling them that they’re wrong

What do Hillary Clinton, the Remain side of the Brexit vote, and Lidl all have in common? Their communication has been aimed at telling those people that don’t like them that they’re wrong. And the results have been predictable. All would’ve done a lot better if they’d confidently communicated what their fans like about them instead. Don’t believe me? Hillary, Remain, Lidl…you’re wrong.

How does that feel?

Don't be a snob

Communicate with confidence, but don’t look down on your target audience.

Running more than one creative execution will generate more effect from the same media spend

Show a bunch of people two (or more) different executions rather than one and you’ll get a greater positive response. Even if you have the exact same message, but done in different colours (some people prefer green, some red, some yellow, etc).

Buying all of the ad pages in a magazine (or breaks on a TV channel) is a waste of money

The only place it gets you noticed is the advertising trade press. If your target audience weren’t impressed when they saw your first ad, they’ll be pitying you by the time they see the fourth. And if they were impressed with your first ad? Well, you can work out the rest.

Any media market that needs a 70% discount to achieve an average market price is likely to be corrupt

When there’s an unusual amount of air in a ratecard, someone’s probably getting a bung.

The same goes for your adverts

…because beautiful is useful.

There's never been a better time to get the over-fifties

The over-fifties have all of the money (and will accumulate even more of it as interest rates rise), and they’re easier to reach with commercial media than ever, because they’re consuming more than ever. There’s also over 12% more of them than there was 10 years ago and they’re now almost half the adult population.

They’re less responsive to advertising, so you need to know what you’re doing when communicating with them (but that’s easy enough to learn – we can help you with that), but once you’ve got them. You’ve got them. And the cost to get them is a fraction of younger audiences. If you’re not targeting the over-fifties, then start now.

Incredibly, someone got paid to produce this poster rather than banned from ever doing it again

Everyone passing this poster is in a car. They have less than a second to see it. This is not new information. It’s been known for decades. Yet agencies continue to put press ads on this expensive medium that can’t possibly be comprehended. And it happens all the time. Go ahead. Next time you’re out on the roads see how many posters you can read (including bus stop posters where most of the audience you’re paying for are passing in a car).

The audience you pay for when you buy outdoor posters has less than a second to see your ad

The vast majority of people you’re paying for are inside a vehicle. And that includes bus stop sites. If your execution can’t be seen and understood in around three quarters of a second, you’ve wasted most of your media money.

Are they really working for you?

In Bob Hoffman’s new book, BadMen, he discovers some disturbing facts about the digital media industry and the agencies who were supposed to be policing it on behalf of their clients.

How I can be useful to you.

I can tell you in detail who would find you useful.

I can tell you why and when they might find you useful. (This is not always obvious. People often use what you produce very differently, and for quite different reasons than you or, even in many instances, they think they’re using it for).

I can tell you where communicating with them would prove most useful to them.

I can tell you what messages about you they will find most useful.

I can tell you which method of communicating those messages that would be most useful to them.

I can create and produce and deploy those messages.

I can plan, negotiate and buy any and all media needed to deliver those messages.

And if you’d like me to write or check your English copy I’d be happy to do that too.




Fiat Panda 4x4: Dirt Cheap

The Fiat Panda 4×4 is a fantastic car. Very cheap to buy and run, yet it will out-perform almost any other car offroad. We think the world ought to know just how useful the Panda is, especially in Sweden, so we came up with a campaign.

Fiat Panda 4x4: Snowmobile

The Fiat Panda 4×4 is a fantastic car. Very cheap to buy and run, yet it will out-perform almost any other car on ice and snow. There’s a reason why you see so many in Italian ski resorts.

Fiat Panda 4x4: Adventure Playground

The Panda 4×4 is one of the best cars for anyone into outdoor activities. Research suggest Swedes want to spend more time with their passions. The best way to do that is to reduce your out-goings, allowing you to work less and spend more time with what/who you love.

Fiat Panda 4x4: Off Road

The Panda 4×4 is surprisingly nippy too, especially with the Twin Air engine, making it fun to drive. And with its City steering function engaged, it is ridiculously manoeuvrable around town.

Fiat Panda 4x4: 4x5

Once you have a great product to work with, and develop a campaignable idea and creative device, it’s incredibly difficult to stop coming up with ads.

Svensk Hypotekspension: Bliss

Taking out a loan during your senior years is often seen as being a bit shameful. People are embarrassed at the potential of being seen as poor. This idea tries to change this by making a hypotekspension a badge of happiness and contentment rather than misery.

Svensk Hypotekspension: Immortality

As we get older we become increasingly concerned with our legacy. Particularly how we’ll be remembered once we’re gone. It’s common to make the mistake of believing that the material things that we leave to our descendants will have a more powerful effect on our legacy than the things that we do for, and with, them while we’re still alive. Someone who isn’t constantly worried about money is a lot more pleasant to be around than someone who is, and will be remembered more fondly.

Svensk Hypotekspension: Daughter

This idea addresses one of the key objections to hypotekpensions. Scepticism from potential customers’ sons and daughters.

Svensk Hypotekspension: Eyes

An idea to remind the target audience that a hypotekspension is their money. They’ve earned it. So why not spend it on whatever will make them happy (and making others happy also makes them happy by securing their legacy).

DriveNow: Easier

Car sharing is cheaper, easier and more fun compared to car ownership and/or taxis for many city dwellers. When we saw DriveNow’s posters we figured we could do better.

DriveNow: Greener

The name the company chose seems like it was designed for posters. Which is the ideal medium for DriveNow.

DriveNow: Fun

When you can just pick up and drop off a car within a few minutes of wherever you may be in Stockholm, and not worry about maintenance, parking and paperwork, then it clearly is.

DriveNow: Cheaper

Do you think this might be useful to the target audience?

Live It: Story

Most experience gift advertising talks about the experiences the companies sell from the perspective of the person doing the experience. But that’s not the target audience. You need to make the product and advertising useful to the person giving the gift.

Live It: Teacher

The gift business is dependent on events like birthdays and Christmas. There’s an opportunity to grow business by reminding people about where a product might be useful during other, less obvious, events

Live It: Pummelling

Tipping love/hate relationships towards the love side.

Live It: Facial

Relevant humour usually works.

Grant's Whisky: Airshow

When you can’t advertise your product in a country, you need to think laterally (also up, down and upside-down). We arranged a spectacular event for Grant’s Whisky, flying displays alongside Åre’s ski slopes for an entire ski season. By using foreign registered aircraft we could circumvent Sweden’s strict rules on spirits advertising. Grant’s also ran a competition every day where anyone visiting Grants’ pop-up bar inside ‘Dippan’s’ after-ski could win a ride in the Grant’s aircraft. Almost 100 people were flown, creating powerful stories and an epidemic of word-of-mouth. That’s proper viral.

Hemverket: Mirror

At the launch of Hemverket it was obvious that they needed to establish themselves quickly in order to try and get the trust of their target market. It was tough. No newspapers would take their advertising, and they couldn’t use Hemnet because both were ‘owned’ by the traditional estate agents. So we used TV with a tiny budget. Friends, family and employees were roped in to make the ad for next to nothing, and TV channels were pushed hard to make sure it got the exposure it needed.

Initially we thought about hitting the established estate agents hard in order to get tongues wagging as research suggested that they were the most hated organisations in the country, being seen as a necessary evil that didn’t really do anything beyond acting as the gatekeepers that gave homeowners access to the market in return for a huge payment (some of the 15″ rough ideas can be seen on the next few pages). In the end, we figured it would be more effective to use this knowledge to stand on the target audience’s side, confirm that they could indeed do a better job themselves, and that Hemverket could give them the keys to the market for a fraction of the cost.

Hemverket: Rough Sketch 1

A bit harsh.

The problem with these kinds of films is that the audience often ends up sympathising with your competition, regardless of how much they hate them. This happened with a Nicorette film shown years ago that featured people who were trying to quit smoking rugby tackling a man dressed up as a cigarette who was tempting them. Audiences ended up rooting for the cigarette.

Hemverket: Rough Sketch 2

Not as harsh, but still there’s a danger of turning the target audience away.

Hemverket: Web

As Hemverket was brand new and therefore had no traffic of its own, and Hemnet wouldn’t allow them to list their properties, we needed to generate broad web exposure for the properties listed on Hemverket’s site elsewhere

We created Hemverket’s own mini-Hemnet on Expressen’s website (which was the the only major newspaper that would allow us to advertise with them). House-hunters could scroll through properties, organised by region and property type just like Hemnet, and were taken to the relevant Hemverket page if they clicked on one. This allowed Hemverket to claim a greater web audience for properties listed with them compared to any other estate agent as Expressen’s audience was far larger than Hemnet’s.

This was probably the first time anything like this had been done on the web and proved to be a very useful form of advertising for both Hemverket and their audience.

Lidl: Interiors

A way for Lidl themselves to give a clear explanation of the truth behind how Lidl can deliver such great value that potential customers can relate to. Also a way to counter some of the snobbish attitudes towards Lidl stores that not only keep some people out of the stores, but can make actual users think twice about their choice to shop there.

Lidl: Too Good To Be True

I have an affinity for this story as this is what I also faced when first setting up a media agency in Sweden. I found that using my own version of normal when dealing with the media would allow me to reduce clients’ media costs by over 50% while improving the quality of their campaigns. However, it was a big hurdle to try and convince potential clients that a) I was telling the truth, and b) that the reduction in costs wouldn’t be associated with a big reduction in quality.

It was also a very delicate balancing act to not make them think that they’d been ripped off by their previous agencies (which, of course they had been, but that was the norm), which would make them not only feel stupid, but by giving us their business, they would effectively be admitting to others (including their bosses) that they had indeed been stupid.

Lidl: Third Party

Lidl has a great product. Their groceries are of excellent quality, and they’re incredibly cheap compared with the established actors in the Swedish grocery business. This should be a recipe for overhwelming success, but unfortunately the established brands are so strong that many Swedish shoppers think that the prices are a little too incredible. They figure something must be wrong. To date, Lidl has tried to address this by telling Swedes that they’re wrong. Obviously a less than effective strategy.

Instead, we think that they should explain to their potential customers the real truth behind how they manage to deliver such great value. Sometimes it’s difficult to get people to believe you and change their behaviour, especially when one of the reasons they behave the way they do is that they’ve been fooled by those they currently do business with. One way around this problem is to use a third party to make your case, but not directly. Instead, have them provide clues that allow them to work it out for themselves.

You might expect the advert shown here to be run within specifically targeted business press. But no, the target audience can’t be found there. This ad (and ads like it designed for non-press media) would run within broad media that reach as many of Lidl’s potential customers as possible.

KTM: Pit Stop

KTM’s heritage is racing, and offroad racing in particular. Their adventure bikes are mainly bought by older riders to experience freedom in wide-open spaces. Their appeal is their ability to add sportiness to that wide-open freedom. That’s what their riders and potential riders (often coming from their dirt/sports bikes) find useful about KTM’s adventure bikes. It’s not just the experience of travel and freedom, it’s as much about the control of the bike itself in those wild locations.

A BMW is a tool for getting you and your gear through the wilderness. A KTM lets you do the same faster, while sliding sideways and grabbing air.

KTM: Good Morning

When the first thing you see outside your tent in the wilderness is a KTM, then you know it will be a VERY good morning…

KTM: Great Afternoon

…which will turn into a VERY good afternoon…

KTM: Incredible Evening

…and then an incredible evening.

These ads would run together in succession to build the story, maximising the utility of the campaign to the audience.

Brands I’ve helped.

Angostura Bitters
Aco Vitamins
Box Experience
British Airways
Castlemaine XXXX
Danske Bank
Gillette Gel
Grant’s Whisky
Head & Shoulders

Hewlett Packard
Kellogg’s Cornflakes
Live It
Natrel Plus
Oil of Olay
Red Cross

Right Guard
Ritter Sport
Silja Line
Stanley tools
Stockholm Stadsmission
Sunny Jim
Svensk Hypotekspension
Swan Lager
Tetley’s Bitter
Timotei shampoo
Turkish Tourist Board
Twinnings Tea
Uncle Ben’s