sxc marketing

You’ve had those moments when everything… just… flows; ideas come easily, projects flow smoothly, customers respond the way you envision. And then… there are those other moments. Moments where it just seems elusive and random; as to which projects, campaigns, and ideas work. I am here to tell you it is not random.

I will help you lay the groundwork to permanently eliminate the chaos; so that when you communicate, advertise, and market to consumers, what you say resonates with them.

Don’t just take my word for it, read what my clients and people I have worked with say. Then email me or pick up the phone.

Because of my last post many people asked who I voted for and what I believe. So here goes…

I believe in everyone having affordable health insurance. We are a nation of individuals, but without healthy citizens we are not a healthy nation.

I believe in raising our top tax bracket to 48% for those who earn over $5 Million, and to 38% for those who earn over $1 Million; eliminating tax havens and loopholes for people to skirt paying taxes.

I believe in using that money to fix our failing public school systems, but actually busting the teachers union which I believe is one of the impediments to that. No child should be forced to deal with incompetent teachers because a union makes it impossible to fire them. I then believe in doubling, that’s right, doubling teacher pay. Not administrators; I believe they should be paid less than teachers. I want the compensation to match the responsibility and respect teachers should command in our society. The first step however is you have to eliminate the union that drags down and forces out competent teachers, and protects those who should not be teaching our children. I believe that administrators should have the ability and right to expel any student they deem, and has proven themselves dangerous and threatening to other students and teachers. Education is not a right of a populace but a privilege we are afforded to avail ourselves of, and that teacher safety and student learning outweigh an individuals right to disrupt it.

I believe that anyone earning less than $40,000 a year should pay no taxes as I believe that shelter, food, and health care are basic requirements in any healthy society and that amount of money covers that base level for a year. I believe in reversing the Bush Tax cuts so that capital gains taxes go back to 28% if the money is taken out of a company in less than 5 years, and 14% if over five years, as this will encourage long-term investing in companies you believe in, but for those who speculate they pay a penalty.

I believe in drastically shrinking our military as it is currently beyond bloated as it was setup for cold war or deterrence, not fighting a “concept” or “ideology.” Therefore I have no problem with the sequester that will kick in with automatic across the board 20% cuts top our military spending on January 1st. I believe in further reducing it by 10% and using that money to massively expand the Peace Corps in which my mother is currently serving. I believe the only way you fight an ideology is demonstrating the good will of your nation, and not bombing people into submission. All of that does is instill a hatred that manifests in more militants opposing our country and its ideals. As I grew up overseas in Europe, the Middle East and Far East I believe I have a much better handle on our foreign policy and what is needed than those put in charge of it who have a nascent understanding of inter-cultural differences.

I believe anyone should have the right to marry. As a person who is not married with a kid in an open relationship I do not know why anyone would WANT to get married, but they should at least have that choice.

I am against abortion, but believe it is not my choice to make a law against what someone else can do with their body, and believe it is a violation of our Fourth Amendment rights to do so… and am therefore very pro-choice.

I believe that Global Warming, aka Climate Change, aka Not-Sticking-our-Heads-in-the-Sand-to-Science, is being influenced by man, and that the overwhelming evidence suggest that it is. I believe investing in the economy to combat climate change is good business, and good moral ground to stand on. I support massively increasing the taxes on Oil companies to make gas so unaffordable that clean options become more viable. I believe in funding this investment off of the Oil and Gas companies. I believe Natural Gas is a sham and that the hydraulic-fracking fluids used to extract it are decimating our natural water supplies.

I believe in protecting our wildlife, our national parks, and our wilderness, as we have but one planet and it would be a real bummer to kill it.

That is what I believe is good for our nation, our populace, and ourselves.

Worshiping the Earth does honor to its Creator… whichever God that may be. It is neither an idol, nor a substitute to one, but truly a magnificent creation that we should protect, for we have been blessed with the tools to do so.

When I hear people quote the Bible, or Koran, or other holy scripture and indicate we do not have to worry because “God guaranteed” we would have springtime on earth always, I sigh, not out of judgement, but of the blind faith to words on paper; words, regardless as to whether they were divinely inspired, that were penned by man.

We are such a flawed vessel of linguistic translation and semantically inaccurate interpretation. For if you believe in God, could we possibly precisely capture a literal interpretation of what the Divine meant in our puny languages? How supremely arrogant of us to think so… And yet we not only do, but are willing to kill ourselves over our belief that we have.

Maybe, just maybe, whoever blessed us with the Earth provided us the intelligence to ensure it would survive us, and that we would use our “free-will” to ensure its continued health.

We are but children to be entrusted with something so precious… our own continued existence. It leaves us with an enormous responsibility. To use that free-will to make conscious and thoughtful choices; measured choices on how we honor the Earth, and not just use its resources for our comfort.

God, gods or no god, whichever it may be, does not care if we have comforts. Does not care if we adorn ourselves with jewels and gold; have a nice house and raise our children in the best schools. Does not care if we raise our children to hate others. Or that we preach to those who do not believe as we do. No, that is our own doing, and is not the best example of what we can do with that free-will.

That is what free-will is. It is ours. We can ignore the responsibility, duck the importance, and hide behind books that tell us everything will be ok. Or we can think and use it to look at our world objectively at what is happening. What we are doing to it.

We can kill each other, repeatedly, and it does not matter. For in some way there is hope that some future generation will learn what we do not. That history will not repeat itself, and that we can get off this merry-go-round of judgement, hate, love, and apathy. But to destroy the Earth? To make it so that all future hope is lost? It is the much greater crime.

I do believe, with all the humility I can muster, that Earth is more precious than man, if only because it is the foundation on which man plays out our arrogant farce. As such I would not care if we never had another leap of “progress” toward anything but it’s caring. Who cares about electricity, schools, homes, if we are but left with an empty shell that we have burned and scorched in our arrogance? Who cares which “book” is “right?”

For what good is life without purpose? Purpose is not about acquisition, or about proselytizing, or converting to one narrow view based in fear or words written on a page, it is about conscience. Conscience is that feeling we have inside of us, when all is quiet and right in the world, when we act out of kindness, not judgement. When we think, and use that free-will to act against hate and ignorance of all kinds. It is when we stand up, not to scream, but to whisper our thoughts out load.

I do not care for climate fear mongers, or right wing conspiracy theorists. I do not care what side of the debate you are on. But if there is even the thought of a chance that we could be doing irreparable harm. If there is even the slightest doubt that we are changing the climate. If there is even a hint of us doing any of this then you, we, must act to protect our Earth.

I do not care for the politicking and the fear and the sticking the head in the sand to science. I just want to love the Earth for it has given me everything I am, if only via the proxy of a Creator. I do not care, but I hope. It is an absolutely amazing piece of work. A beautiful blue marble in the emptiness, and we should cherish it.

I VOTE today for the Earth. Will you join me?

I have seen the future, and it is infographics… shiny, shiny, happy, rainbow-colored, icon-encrusted, seizure-inducing infographics. In an age where everything is interactive, they seem an old-school, static, ever-scrolling throwback to an earlier time.

And yet, uniquely suited to our brains. Although we are entertained by interaction, we seem unable to absorb the deluge of information the Internet provides without containment; we need, nay, we crave the order and simplicity that an infographic provides.

To make an infographic, it requires a human to sort through the cornucopia of available information and elucidate the salient points. It requires omitting that which is irrelevant in order to ensure effective communication.

I have a son who was born August 18, and the sheer number of obnoxious clicks of the shutter of my “baby tv” had me thinking about what photo apps are best suited for which tasks… and so I embarked on creating an infographic about photo-sharing apps. I use Instagram when I am out with friends, SeeMail (a company to whom I am an advisor) when taking pictures of my baby and sharing them with family and Camera+ when I was recently out trying to take a picture of the space shuttle flying over the Golden Gate Bridge. I sought to see what other need-states other people would have for using these three photo-sharing apps.

I already curate a board on Pinterest on Digital Marketing Infographics, so I decided I would crowd-source a comparison of the three photo-sharing apps I use the most and make my own infographic. I wanted “need-states of consumers when using photo-apps.” People contributed what tasks they used each of the apps for, and where each of the apps for them rated.

I expected photo-journalism, sports photography, or even the best app to take a picture of your junk would be on the list, but, alas, I completely forgot how much people enjoy taking pictures of their cats. The devolution of society is now complete… with LOLcats, for which all photo-apps should apologize for enabling.

Through this process I learned four steps to creating an effective infographic:

  1. Position a product with other products in the same category. This creates something for each product to “push” against in the comparison.
  2. Frame the discussion for what will be compared. In my case, “use-cases” for the product. But it could as easily be “features” or “time-saved” at particular tasks. The framework will usually elevate out of real world use of the product. This is what is the emotional connection of people to a product.
  3. Gather the data for the framework. I crowd-sourced the data, but often the data is readily available in charts of features or you can run a focus group. If a product sucks, this is where it will show up. A combination of quantitative (numbers and stats,) and qualitative (how people feel about it) is most effective.
  4. Present the data in a format that is visually compelling, yet simple to understand, and communicates the framework you established.

I present to you… Which Photo-Sharing App Should You Use When?

[Click on Graphic for Full Size]

When pitching business remember that we are inherently storytellers. Connecting to the emotional is imperative. We do not tolerate Powerpoint presentations, and we have inherent ADD when being sold to. Tell a story, and captivate them in the first 60 seconds.

I’ve lost count of how many pitches I have done in my career as a creative in advertising, but my track record when appealing to the emotional aspects was probably over 90%, and when saddled with an ungodly Powerpoint deck closer to 20%.

All the technology details of the “how it will be done,” can be worked out later. As long as you know you can do it, ignore talking about it. If they are interested they’ll call you back and you can explain it all later.

“If a story is not about the hearer he will not listen. And here I make a rule – a great and interesting story is about everyone or it will not last” – John Steinbeck, East of Eden

Tell them… no show them and have them FEEL why you are the right choice. All the other stuff is just superfluous.

Why is your “viral video” just sitting there languishing in obscurity? You had such high hopes for it. But there it sits, gathering dust on YouTube like the kid who threw a birthday party and no one showed up. It’s not viral, it’s just a video, and that is an important distinction. So repeat after me: You cannot create a viral video. You can only create a video that Read the rest of this entry »

Beware of “Soft” costs; the cost of employee time and effort is often one of the most overlooked aspects of paid search marketing, and something I consistently bump up against.

I have often seen clients chasing the long tail in search, getting better yields, and throwing it all away in employee and agency costs. One client in particular showed me how they increased their efficiency by $200,000 a year. They were very proud Read the rest of this entry »

I have being going by the name “Sean X” for so long that I sometimes forget I have a last name. But for those who are so inclined to know, my full legal name is “Sean X Cummings.” I often get asked where the “X” came from, as if to indicate that its presence in my name was Read the rest of this entry »

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  • The Nexus 7 Tablet Will Fail July 2, 2012
    I have asked myself why, with the greatest collective brain trust at a single company, Google continues to fail to develop anything new that drives revenue? And why do they have to give away products for free (Gmail), deeply discount them (Nexus 7), or fund them at a loss (YouTube) to buy goodwill. Fail?! How could I say that? Google is by far one of the mos […]
  • Social Media Is to Social Discovery, Like Porn Is to... June 7, 2012
    ...Well, good porn, I guess. The Glimpse Social Discovery Conference in San Francisco brought together an all day fest of experts in the Social Discovery space. Social Discovery is the new black, I guess, and that black is a better, one-more, one-louder version of social media; for it takes into account the core emotional benefit of Social, and that is […]
  • The Mobile Signature: 'Please excsue typoo's' May 9, 2012
    NOTE This is an iPhone email. The iPhone keyboard is, to say the least, persnickety. Since I have neither the thumbs of a newborn, nor the texting prowess of a 13-year-old, please excuse the occasional spelling mistake. And so reads my iPhone signature line. Why should this offend anyone? And what harm is it alerting someone of this possibility? Ah, therein […]

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  • Why Bitcoin is failing March 20, 2014
    Bitcoin arguably has the potential to transform every aspect of the internet and marketing as we know it. But for that to happen, we have to understand how it works. Here's a closer look.
  • 5 brands that will be dead in 5 years September 11, 2013
    The health of some major companies is in serious decline. Say your last goodbyes because these brands are on their way out.
  • 6 steps to rebound from an ugly firing August 28, 2013
    Concerned that a past employer or professional experience will haunt you the rest of your days? Fear not. These steps will get your career -- and life -- back on track.
  • Awesome ads that saved lame products March 26, 2013
    We all know that the "sheeple" of the world are easily conned by slick marketing. Here are the insanely brilliant ad campaigns that drove sales for lackluster products.
  • Why employers are laughing at your resume November 8, 2012
    You send out your resume again and again, but no one responds. It's almost like potential employers are silently mocking you. Here's why they won't give you the time of day.

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  • 5 Companies to Watch from ad:tech SF 2013
    There are those other companies that have a unique something that has so much promise for reaching consumers in unique and new ways that are breakthrough, I am salivating at the prospect of using them.
  • Did you see Tim Armstrong's Keynote at ad:tech San Francisco?
    #adtechsf Imagine that like the Post Office closing on Saturdays, that the Internet shut down for 15% of its ad targeting opportunities a week? Offline competition for advertising is going down, and it will continue to do so.

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