I'm working on a few things right now that are pretty cool.  For starters, I'm narrowing the scope of this blog just a little bit.  I'm still keeping the same basic layout, but I'm shooting to make it a little more "my own."  What do I mean?  Well, for starters, I'm making the design a little more personal.  The image above is the first logo I was working with.  No longer is the site going to be known as "The.Good.Life."  "In the Know Advertising" is one idea that I am working with.  The simple design above needs to be re-worked, but it might be kinda cool for a basic logo.
This is the next design I was working with.  Same name, different design.  More abstract, creative, and weird - all things I am proud of.  The colors need to be reworked a little bit, but overall, I think it's pretty cool.  It could even be used as a basic template for a business card - take anyone who works at the company, put their head in the template, and Voila!
Lastly, I'm working with, "The Ad Egg."  A blog where ideas hatch.  Haha.  Cheesy as hell I know, but I think it's pretty cool.  Above is an image I put together that could be a logo for the site.  Basically, I want something that people will start reading and taking note of, and The Ad Egg or Intheknow Advertising are both pretty attention-grabbing and "out-there."  Two things I need to take this blog to the next level.

Let me know what you think in the comments.
I’ve never been that great at networking.  That’s probably not exactly what you wanted to hear after you’ve stumbled across the headline promising you expert advice on how to master the art, but hey, at least I’m being honest.  Expert or not, this blog is about my insights, ideas, and opinions on networking and the role it plays in achieving success in today’s economy.  

I think that a lot of us are in the same boat right now.  The way I like to describe my current situation is by saying, “I’m working hard at not working”.  What do I mean by this?  Well, my philosophy on unemployment stands the same, “Searching for a job is, in and of itself, a full time job.”  In fact, I think I’m working harder now, even though I’m not working, than I have in the past few months of my life.  Confused yet?  Yea, me too.  

I came across an article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch that claims networking is now the number one most effective way to land a job.  In a study done by Chicago based outplacement company Challenger, Gray, and Christmas, a study of over 100 human resource professionals provided the not-so-shocking result that networking and the use of social media platforms such as Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter are now the most useful and effective ways to get your foot in the door.  

To me this wasn’t so surprising.  In fact, this was just statistical evidence of what I had already imagined to be true.  So where’s the problem?  Well, let’s just say that it takes a lot of work to successfully network, especially in a what I call a “not-so-stimulating society.”  

In college I really started to understand the importance of networking.  A fellow student, fraternity brother, and a mentor taught me early on in my sophomore year about the importance of getting involved, finding a niche, and the importance of branding yourself as a leader.  With this knowledge, I took it upon myself to get involved, hold leadership positions, and establish connections with the many influential people around me.   

What I took away most from this college experience is the idea of a simple leap of faith and the importance of taking a chance. When it comes to networking, the number one complaint I have is the unwillingness for people to lend a helping hand.  But then again, the contradiction to this predicament remains; why should it be someone else’s responsibility to find me a job?   

See the idea behind networking is this: to develop contacts or exchange information with others in an informal network, as to further a career (Websters).  It’s not forcing someone to get you a job or asking for a personal favor; but it is exchanging information in hopes that you will be given an opportunity based on your credentials.  So what ways have I been exchanging information?  I’ve outlined them below:  

Word-of-Mouth Anyone in the world of marketing knows the importance of word-of-mouth.  It is the number one factor in consumer decision-making, and it is also the number one influencer the hiring process.  All of my friends now know that I am searching for a job.  They know what I am interested in and where I see myself being successful and they keep their eyes open for any opportunities that my come up.   

Case in point:  After mentioning being unhappy at my job and telling one of my buddies I was looking into advertising, I awoke the next day to an email outlining the creative agencies that he had been working with at Anhauser Busch.   

Social Networks Here’s where the majority of the work comes into play.  Branding yourself effectively through social networks is one of the hardest tricks in the book.  Even successful Fortune 500 companies are struggling to create a unified brand image across all social media platforms.  The websites that I find to be most effective are Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and Monster, but in order to truly benefit from each of the respective sites, it is important to create a universal identity with a consistent message about the type of person you are the type of person you want others to see you as. 

Case in point:  After starting this blog back in June, I used Facebook and Twitter to promote what I was writing throughout my networks.  I went from having three visitors daily to around 150+ within one day.  This was possible because the message was sent to a network of over 800 people, a powerful marketing tool at each and every person’s disposal. The one thing to remember is that any message, larger or small, can be seen by many. 

Blogs The concept of the blog has really kicked into high gear lately.  I myself have about 30 blogs that I have dedicated myself to reading, and I am always looking out for new ones that interest me.  A blog is an easy way to market yourself, and an automatic advantage if you’re looking for a job that requires writing skills or web 2.0 skills.  It shows you’re in-tune with today’s methods of communication and acts as an intermediate resume of sorts, allowing individuals to see who you are, what you interested in, and what you want to do with you’re life.  I strongly stand by this blog, regardless of if anyone reads it, and I feel a strong sense of accomplishment with each and every post.   

Truthfully, managing myself right now is a full-time job.  Finding job positions, writing cover letters, making phone calls, and staying organized in a never-ending process.  Networking allows you to know that even when you’re not working, there is work being done.  There is someone talking about your resume, there is someone looking out for you with a job, there is someone reading your blog, or there is someone recommending your name.  There aren’t a ton of people out there willing to lend a helping hand, but when you work hard at establishing your contacts, work hard at being pleasantly persistent (but not a pest), and work hard at showing your utmost appreciation, things are bound to turn up.   

In closing, I hope this has given you some incentive to go out there and find yourself.  It may not be easy, but if you’re not working, like me, it may be a good time to start networking and finding new ways to be successful in this not-so-stimulating economy. Please feel free to share your stories, successes, tips, tricks, and insights, or opinions on this topic.  I’m always looking for a helping hand.  

AT&T has a hit on their hands.... literally.  The "Hand Art" ads, developed by New York based BBDO, have apparently been a huge success from a brand awareness standpoint.  The Magazine Publishers of America have recently announced the "Hand" campaign as America's Favorite Magazine Ad. AT&T has decided to move forward on a few more print ads for the future, so keep your eyes peeled in the upcoming issues of all your favorite magazines.

Here's some more in case you haven't seen the ads.
I've got a series of advertisements that I've made over the past few years hidden away on my hard drive that I've decided to share with you guys every once in a while.  This is one that I did for an internship application that dealt with an assignment based around Subway. 

The goal of the assignment was to create a print, television, and radio ad that would increase Subway's weekend sales.  The commercial I decided to make was a media hybrid.  The long version (shown below) would be the version shown online and at movie theaters.  It is a simple slideshow of everyday people interacting in everyday situations.  A shorter version could be crafted for television and (if the budget was there) would be shot using video rather than still frames.  Why do I think the movie theater is the most important aspect of this campaign - because tons of parents take thier children to see movies over the weekend and this would drive home the message.  On top of that, people going to movies on Friday and Saturday will be reminded of a smart option for the rest of the weekend. 

I decided to take the emotional approach to this ad as well, to keep things family oriented and to appeal to families who do get together and live a healthy lifestyle.  Now, I'm just rambling, but I'll let the ad speak for itself.

Fresh enough for Subway or far too stale?  Let me know in the comments.
So the job search has just begun.  My days in retail management are over and now it's time to focus on planning for the next chapter of my life. What's it going to be?  I'm not sure.  But before it even begins, there's one thing I need someone to help answer:  Where can we, fresh college graduates, get the experience needed to get our foot in the door of an industry whose doors don't seem to want to open.

As I sit here in Bread Co., coffee in hand, I cringe at each and every job I come across online.  Minimum 2-5 years agency experience, minimum 4 years marketing experience with one of our brands, at least 2 years promotions experience in one of our product lines.  The list goes on and on.  The concept I struggle with is this:  As fresh college graduates, we obviously lack experience with a company's promotions department or marketing department or even a company's product line - but what we lack in experience, can we not make up for in passion, willingness to learn, and self-confidence and knowledge?

For anyone who knows me personally, you'll know I'm not a cocky guy (despite the anonymous individual that replied to my first Big Idea Blog).  I believe in confidence, the power of looking good and feeling good, and the importance of a fresh, creative mind.  Obviously, we are the new guys, the young guns.  What we lack in real-world experience, we make up for in desire to learn and desire to work.  At this point in my life I'm willing to be at the bottom of the barrel, but more importantly, I'm willing to step up to the plate, and do everything necessary to make an impact within a company.

A good solution I've tried to come up with is based loosely of the Harley Davidson Motorcycle Company in combination with the concept of high-def television.  It's a proposal that not only focuses on the highly successful strategy Harley Davidson used to increase market share in the 2000's, but also on the idea of a high-def solution for future businesses.  For now, let's call it the HD Proposal.  

In the early 2000's, Harley Davidson  faced an uphill battle as more competitors entered into the motorcycle industry.  The average age of Harley owners was 37-45.  The brand was traditional, brand-selective, and for the most part, dominated by a sea of older, more knowledgeable consumers.  Was this a good thing?  Sure.  But could the company gain from finding a new target market?  That was their experiment.  

In an attempt to reach a new target market they decided on a new strategy.  The goals were ambitious and included three main objectives: 1.  Reach new prospects. 2. Break down barriers to purchase.  3.  Generate leads to develop new, younger customer base.  Let's take a look at each of these goals and how they relate to my HD Proposal for businesses.

1.  To Reach New Prospects
  In this day and age, at the most basic level, what is the advantage of new employees?  New networks.  In advertising specifically, a new employee means the possibility of new clients, new accounts, new business, new ideas, and new potential in all areas of business.  Obviously, current clients are the priority in most companies, but what does it take to keep a business thriving in the future - new business and new interest in the success of the company.  

2.  Break Down Barriers to Purchase
  While in the case of Harley Davidson's strategy in 2001, the barriers to purchase were fundamentally price and brand misconception, the barriers I want to talk about in my HD Proposal are the barriers to entry within a company's HR department.  Listen, I'm not saying that a company should hire anyone and everyone, and I am a firm believer in an extensive and highly selective hiring process, but if the barriers to entry were broken down at the most basic level, I think companies could benefit from a hidden pool of talent that they might be missing out on. For example, take a chance on an account supervisor.  Throw out the 2 years minimum agency experience and take on a new prospect.  Throw out the 4 years management experience and allow individuals who show leadership skills from college to have a crack at the industry.  Maybe this is happening, but from what I'm seeing now, there are little to no positions available without at least some form of 'real-world, 'post-college', job-related experience.

3.  Generate leads to develop a new, younger client base.  
  Here's the part where I'm going to take a stab at the boomers for a second.  Trust me, it's only because I'm the new guy, and I'm a little jealous of their power and position within the realms of business.  For starters, I won't even try to argue about experience.  They've been around for years, worked harder, played harder, and brought with them knowledge that I am still learning each and every day.  So what point am I going to argue?  The fact that they can be a little stuck in their ways.  Without getting too in depth, things are changing.  New technologies, new businesses, and a new consumers are paving the way for the future generations.  Who knows this generation the best?  We do.  Who is best suited to appeal to this base, to generate leads on this new target audience, and create effective business solutions towards this generation?  We are. 

The rant is over, but I do hope companies are investing in ideas such as this.  Maybe it's not the right time or maybe it's just not the right solution, but I can provide strong argument that it is a very bright idea for the future success of businesses.  If I was starting my own business, would I feel more comfortable in the hands of the knowledgeable veterans or would I be more comfortable dealing with the creative, risk-taking young guns?  That's the question many young entrepreneurs are asking themselves.  I think I've made my answer pretty obvious, but I'd love to hear from you.
Hey guys, thanks for stopping by.  Charter internet is down and out and I'm left struggling to stay in touch.  I'll be at Borders all day tomorrow blogging away so be sure to check back for some interesting activity.
I've been spending a lot of time trying to figure out what I want to do next.  While my future is still up in the air, there is one thing I can be sure of:  I want to be involved with the marketing/advertising industry.  

I know, I know, a ton of people want to be in advertising.  What does it take? For starters, it takes extreme creativity and a passion for developing a brand.  While I have the creativity up here (points to head), I don't have the creativity here (lays out hands), so what have I decided?  I'm looking to be an account guy, a salesman of sorts.  What do I want to sell?  A product, a service, an idea, and a brand.  How do I plan on selling this?  Through an analogy that popped into my head just a few days ago, something I'm tentatively titling (and awaiting suggestions on), called the "Marco Polo Plan" an the "Sharks and Minnows Solution."  Just a little something fun to think about next time you're out back at the pool.

In advertising, the two most effective ways of reaching an audience are communicating directly with them or letting them come directly to you.  More or less the push and pull methods.  Which is more effective?  It all depends on the planning and execution, but it's safe to say that each are very reliable in terms of reaching an audience.  

The first plan I'd like to talk about is based loosely off the popular swimming pool game Marco Polo.  Why am I resorting to children's pool games to get my point across?  Because everyone knows it, it's a simple concept, and it describes exactly what a company wants to hear in terms of results.  Where am I going with this?  Let's look at the game at its most basic level.  

There is one player, Marco, who is unable to see anyone else in the pool.  There are then numerous other players, Polos. who hide amongst themselves in the pool.  The catch?  Each time Marco states his name, the other individuals must reveal there location by stating Polo.  Enough of the history lesson - how does this relate to advertising?  There are so many companies out their without a brand identity.  Their target audience is out there, revealing their locations, and still they cannot seem to find them.  I want to help companies make sure that they never have to be Marco again.  It's the simplest push method around.  Find their target market, where they spend money, where they shop, where they network, what websites they visit, etc, and put them in direct contact with them through targeted campaigns and promotions.  No longer shoud companies swim blindly through the water asking for signs of life- take your blinders off, get out there, and make your presence known.

Never heard of Marco Polo or just don't like the idea of the MPP?  Well let's try the pull method, based off the other popular swimming pool game, "Sharks & Minnows."  This one might be a little less popular, but the basics are still there.  One individual, the shark, stands outside the water while the other individuals, the minnows, try and swim across the pool without making a splash.  When the shark hears a splash, he/she is then allowed to jump in the pool in an attempt to tag a minnow.  No one wants to be a shark, but in case, you should be willing to take a risk.  Advertising says, make a splash, let the consumer come to you.  Just being a small fish, flying under the radar, doesn't work for businesses.  In this case, the shark is the consumer.  He/she is waiting to be shaken or stirred.  Advertising makes it possible to reach the consumer, communicate knowledge, and allow the user to act upon his or her discretions.  I want to be the one who makes it possible for small businesses to be heard, and I want to be responsible for creating the splash that gets the sharks biting.  
Let me know what you think about the Marco Polo Plan and the Sharks and Minnows Solution.  Pitch it to the clients or pitch it in the trash?  You be the judge.  Either way, this should hit home with a few and give you a little something to think about next time you hear the kids in the pool.
I'm taking a day off to get some work done and write a blog on how Advertising relates to summer swimming pool games.  Sound weird?  It is, but I think it'll offer a great analogy for how advertising can affect big and small businesses.  In the mean time, I'll leave you with  a link to a good friend of mines new website, DJ Haze Phenomenon.  He's a radio personality and a free agent looking for his next stop in the industry.  Check out his aircheck and videos.  Very talented guy who's held the #1 spot in STL on Z107.7. 
Haze Phenomenon

See ya'll back here tomorrow.
Short on time but want to share this video with you.  An advertisement at a restaurant in Germany.  The freshest fish you'll find.  Pretty ingenious to me.  Affordable, interesting, and attention-grabbing.  I don't like fish, but I'd at least take a picture.  

So there's been much debate about Twitter and whether or not it's the new fad or the next step in social networking.  For those of you who don't know, Twitter describes itself as a social network that asks "What are you doing?" in 140 characters or less.  Now for your everyday person, Twitter usually consists of a post such as "Laying out by the pool" or "Watching the Cardinals destroy the Pirates", however, companies are finding ways to reach consumers on a whole new level by using Twitter to communicate promotions, news stories, press releases, and brand-driven message to any individual who wants to follow them.  

Pizza Hut has decided to do something that I think is pretty cool.  Wether or not it is worth the money, worth the time, or effective from the companies marketing standpoint is still being determined,  but they have hired what they call a "Twintern" - an intern whose sole job is to communicate brand messages across Twitter and increase interest in the company through the newest form of social media.  What does her job consist of?  Tweeting, growing Pizza Hut's followers list, building interest in the company, planning events to advertise on Twitter, and holding conversations with the brand's loyal followers.  In an interview with ad week, Pizza Hut's Twintern states, "Brands want to be where their consumers are, and where those consumers are having a conversation. You definitely want to be a part of that so you can contribute more. If your consumers are all on Twitter, why wouldn't you join in? That's Pizza Hut's philosophy."

From a marketing standpoint, I like this idea.  Do I think it is a full-time job?  I'm not so sure.  But do I wish more companies would take a leap of faith and enter into these new forms of social media?  Most definitely.   Being a recent college graduate and someone who considers myself deeply immersed in social media and web 2.0, I think these are the challenges and tasks that are generation will be industry leaders in.  For me, it is inspiring to see a company such as Pizza Hut, taking part in these new forms of technology and putting faith in the hands of the younger generation to take the company to the next level.  I know I'll be following along to see where this idea takes them.

In closing, I want to know what you think of the Twintern posistion?  Stupid name, unnecessary expense, or strike of genius?  Leave your comments in the replies.