Marketing Ourselves

I recently finished reading the book Baked In by Alex Bogusky and John Winsor, all about creating products and businesses that market themselves. I think it’s a good read and I have 7 key takeaways.

1 – Brand DNA
You are successful for a reason, so it’s good to go back to your roots. Back in 1976 when Al Albania started Acart, we were a Graphic Design shop. We have since expanded into a fully integrated marketing and communications agency. What does “ACART” stand for? “A” for Al — “C” for Carlo (his middle name) — “A” for Albania — and “ART” for design!

2 – Culture Trumps Influencers
There are trendsetters and trend followers. People flock to popular trends. Why not create or re-invent a trend that people will come flocking to? Brainstorm a list of the cultural trends currently consumed by the target group and come up with something they would follow. A great example in the book was AND1 basketball shoes who were competing against the bigger names that have NBA stars at the centre of their brands. AND1’s agency started a new trend — they went to the streets, found great up and coming basketball players and street hiphop music, and created a video with them. People raved about the video that came out with the shoes, and there you have it — a new trend was started.

To fall down is not to fail, it’s a step towards success. A quote from Alex Bogusky and John Winsor in the book that I particularly liked: “FALL…a lot…If you are at all worried about falling, you will never try your hardest. You won’t be focused on the next move, but rather on the fall. Then, you might as well just give up. TRY TRY TRY. Never say “take”. Try until you fall. And, when you think you are done and going to fall, try anyway. You’ll be surprised how many times you will go through to the top….It’s easier to say take down or climb down, but you are usually underselling your capacity…” 

4 – Thinking BIG
You need to think bigger than big. When you are trying to think of the “big idea”, it’s easy to get caught up in your own perspective or opinion and think your idea is great. Take it one step further — can it be greater? Most likely yes. Look at your idea from every point of view you can think of and you’ll be surprised at the outcome. Another way to help is tapping into the minds of other resources within the agency who may have a fresh outlook and can offer new insights. Just because you have a certain title doesn’t mean you have to be responsible for the brilliant idea.

5 – Be a Storyteller
Another quote I liked from the book: “Our stories, and the ability to share them, are what make us human. They bring context and meaning to everything we do. Stories carry our hopes, dreams, and values. They arouse our curiosity and invite us to wonder. They resonate deeply in our souls. And, told well, they stick in our minds forever.” The biggest value in good storytelling is that others start telling your stories too. And with today’s digital social media world, sharing stories can be limitless and effortless. As humans, we are fascinated by a good story worth telling. A brand can do this, we just need to get it right. A brand’s story has to connect with the community and culture, and the conversation happening within that group.

6 – Break Down the Silos
Any company will have a silo system to work with, whether it’s internally with the teams or externall with their client’s structure. This can be the cause of a great idea being put on hold. If everyone from all the silo groups collaborates, a great idea can be given legs and run. Easy to say but hard to do. Ideas that run up the pipeline may never see the light. Try inviting people from other departments to brainstorm so they take some ownership of the great ideas that come out of it and will be more likely to want to see it through.

7 – How’s the Agency Doing?
Listening to your consumers is the key to improvement and success. It’s best to check in with clients once in a while to see what areas we excel in and where we could improve. Agency evaluations can go a long way!


[Image via Hatchers]

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