free call for speakers

Any speaker worth their salt should never speak for free.

What many people (including many meeting organizers) don’t understand is that even though a speaker is “only speaking for an hour”, in reality, there are several days of prep, travel, and other efforts expended to produce a good presentation. You wouldn’t ask another professional to work 3 days for free, but people ask speakers to do it all the time.

Speakers should also never say never. I actually will speak for free at things like barcamps or local non-profit and professional meetings because there’s low travel investment and immense value in it for me. That value comes from the opportunity to practice new material in front of a real audience or to help out a group that needs it.

Even when I don’t speak for free, I offer a ridiculously cheap speaking fee to groups like AdFed / AAF chapters, AMA, SMEI, or other similar groups because I want to be in front of those people as those people hire marketing speakers for seminars, conferences, trade shows, and other corporate events. But even with those, I still have a travel reimbursement in the contract.

And, of course, my offer still stands to speak at TED.

But a call for speakers came in my email this morning that I found incredibly amazing and somewhat funny…

Call for Speaker on Negotiating
{redacted} is looking for a speaker for the April 14th lunchtime event on negotiating. You must be willing to donate your time and travel. The RFP can be found here: {redacted}

A few points worth mentioning:

  • They want you to fill out an RFP to speak for free and not get travel reimbursement? (I looked at the RFP. It would take at least 30 minutes to fill out properly.)
  • They’re looking for a speaker who supposedly knows how to negotiate. The winner of the RFP should be the speaker who negotiates a fee and travel reimbursement from them!

In the end, all meeting planners should remember that you get what you pay for. And speakers should remember that you’re worth what you’re paid.

long term brands work

Diet Coke has surpassed Pepsi for the first time to become the second-most popular soft drink in the country. Regular Coke is still in the top spot.

Pepsi underwent a massive rebrand for most of their product lines in 2008.

Except for one infamous disaster, Coca-Cola has had relatively the same brand attributes including an antiquated script logo for over 100 years.

Discuss.

the one where I offer $500 for a burger

Ever feel like you get attacked by a certain topic?

The universe is assaulting me with In-N-Out Burger.

in-n-outJust a few examples: Earlier this year, the advertising class I teach delved into a long discussion about the brand equity of the chain. A few weeks ago, this oddly fanatical account of ordering every item on the menu came in on my feeds. Last week as I took the kids to Barnes & Noble, this book was lying beside the Thomas train table. Today, I saw a story that In-N-Out is expanding east into Texas.

It has all added up to cruel and unusual punishment for someone in Kentucky who is over 1,600 miles from the nearest In-N-Out.

Every time I have a speaking engagement near an In-N-Out, I make the effort. My last one was an enjoyable afternoon at Fisherman’s Wharf last summer while I was at the San Francisco #140conf. I had just sat down to eat when a Wharf tourist stopped by my table, pointed at me, and yelled to his wife, “Hon! This guy got his fries Animal-style!”. I felt like a celebrity while I smiled and waved at her.

While I don’t eat there that often, I’m a big fan. On a gastronomical level for sure, but also on a marketing level. It’s a great brand that’s been built through a great customer experience from the cleanliness of the restaurants to the fresh ingredients to the “secret” menu.

But it seems the only time I get to eat at an In-N-Out is when I’m speaking near one on the left coast. So with all these cues coming at me, I figured I needed to do something about it.

For 2011, in addition to the three normal speaking discounts that I’ve always offered (KY/TN, multiple program, and non-profit), I am adding another discount.

I will take $500 off my speaking fee if your meeting is held within a 15 minute commute of an In-N-Out Burger location.

I guess it’s like my own version of the secret menu. You’ll have to ask for it to get it. If you’re planning a meeting or corporate event in California, Arizona, Nevada, or Utah (and now Texas) in 2011, let’s talk.

You can see my speaking info with topics, testimonials, etc here or my National Speakers Association listing here.

UPDATE: It’s still happening. I was watching Undercover Boss on CBS last night and the MGM Grand’s manager’s family brought him In-N-Out for supper.

creepy fancy feast

The first time I saw this my immediate thought was that it was some sort of joke. But the punchline never came. It’s real.

Obviously, I’m not in the target demo of “cat lady wanting love”, but I’m dumbfounded (and a little creeped out) by it.

Yet I can’t quite put my finger on the problem. The big thing is that it’s just so over the top that it stops being effective. From the music to the looks on their faces to the entire creative concept, it seems like a parody as evidenced by my initial reaction.

I think the casting is a big issue as well. AdFreak is calling it the WASP-iest ad ever created and says “feels like a housing association’s welcome video for living the Hamptons”. I agree.

The media placements have included shows like ABC’s “The Bachelor” where the target demo has already opened the tender parts of their heart. Maybe it’s a genius ploy to associate the Fancy Feast brand with strong emotional ties while the consumer has her defenses down.

There should be alternate male P.O.V. version where the guy expresses remorse that he took the trouble to paint and redecorate the room after the stains and smell set in. (As Hank Jr. declared, “and I’m against cats in the house.“)

And in case you’re not sick enough after just the :60 broadcast version, there’s a 2:42 extended cut!

trash talking yourself

Marketing has always been about promoting something so that people will buy it.

So it’s always interesting to see campaigns where a company is encouraging customers not to use their own product. Probably the most (in)famous example is the tobacco industry funded anti-smoking campaign. I’ve also always liked how McCormick tells people to throw their old spices away. (albeit to buy fresh ones)

But lately, I’ve been impressed with Microsoft’s campaign to get people to stop using the Internet Explorer 6 web browser.

IE6 has lots of problems that I won’t get into here, but Microsoft has launched a campaign to get people to stop using the program. There’s a consumer-side campaign centered around the website, IE6countdown.com, as well as developer-side messaging like this…

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It’s an interesting thought experiment for your own business. If you had to launch a campaign today that encouraged people NOT to use your product, what would be the negative aspects you would center the campaign around?

After you figure that out, why not go ahead and fix those things now?

the uninspired white meat

The National Pork Board has announced that, starting today, they will abandon their 25 year old tagline for pork, “The Other White Meat”, for a new slogan: “Pork: Be Inspired.”

Their new website, PorkBeInspired.com, has more info on the new tagline as well as videos of Candace Cameron demonstrating different ways to cook pork. Between that and John Stamos being floated as a replacement for Charlie Sheen, we may be in the midst of a Full House renaissance.

But I digress.

In 2000, a study conducted by Northwestern University found “The Other White Meat” slogan to be the fifth most memorable promotional tagline in the history of contemporary advertising. The slogan has achieved the ultimate in brand success. It has established itself in the cultural zeitgeist. Anyone can make a reference to “the other white meat” in conversation or in the media with confidence that it will be understood.

Why just throw all that brand equity away for a shallow forgettable slogan that has no concrete connection to the product?

When the motivational speaker down at the Airport Marriott says “Be Inspired”, will you think about pork chops?

Pork has seen some hard times as of late. Pork sales are not great. The unfortunate intital moniker of the H1N1 virus in 2009 hurt pork consumption. While pork is the most popular meat globally, it comes in third behind beef and chicken in the U.S. So some strong marketing is needed, but why not build on the strengths?

The success of any agricultural commodity branding (Beef, it’s what’s for dinner … The incredible edible egg … Got Milk? … Cotton: The Fabric of our Lives) lies in long term exposure to the fundamental aspects of the commodity. (Subsidies and checkoff fees help too.)

And that’s true for any brand strategy. Build your marketing on the foundations that you’ve already established. Don’t tear everything down and start from scratch unless you want people to forget the old brand. (see BP, Phillip Morris, etc)

Apparently, the pork board does see the value in the “other white meat” slogan. They are regulating it to what they call a “heritage brand” and say will be used in some communications. This is obviously to keep a foot in the intellectual property door and keep the pig rustlers away from it.

So there’s hope. Maybe eventually they’ll be inspired to bring back their best asset.