Category: Ad Industry

Are You ‘Killing’ Your Creatives?


collage illustrating unhappy creatives

Your Leadership Style Could Be Your Company’s Ultimate Demise

Are your deliverables becoming the duckface selfies of the ad world? Is your stuff leaving a smile-frown on your clients’ faces? It could be that your leadership style is killing your company’s mojo. To succeed, your creative agency must operate like an organism healthy enough to give birth to new ideas—and with great prolifery. That said, let me share with you the brutal truth: You will watch your agency die a slow and painful death if you fail to protect yourself from the fatal disease of micromanagement. (more…)

Building A New ‘Oz’ For Advertising Photography


Unlimited Usage Rights Are Forging A Golden Road To Better Client Relations In Advertising Photography

Photo, we’re not in Kansas anymore — the yellow brick road of the digital age now leads us all to a land overflowing with digital visual delights. And it’s time the advertising photography industry got the picture. So listen up, Scarecrow. (more…)

Our newest client: Spiral Toys


Entertainment Tech Company Spiral Toys announced that they’ve selected us to lead their branding and marketing effort, which began with the transition of the name and Stock Ticker Symbol to Spiral Toys (STOY)

Spiral Toys Logo

Kids today are growing up in a purely digital age, a world where computers, tablets, game consoles, and smartphones have become an integral part their lives. Some five-year-olds know more about navigating the Web than their grandparents or even their parents.

Where many adults a few years ago were trying to wrap their brains around connecting to the Web without an Ethernet cord, kids today can’t imagine a world without the cloud and wireless technology.

Technology has even re-shaped children’s interaction with toys. cloudpets in a row
They look like typical stuffed animals, but CloudPets are connected through the cloud to a mobile device application, allowing users to send messages back and forth between the toy and the app.

Spiral Toys, a developer of innovative products in the mobile connected entertainment space that launched its Toy-Fi line last June, was acquired by Rocap, Inc. (formerly OTCQB:ROCP) last July. On Wednesday, the company announced the completion of the name and ticker change to Spiral Toys and “STOY.” The company also said that as part of the re-branding effort, it has partnered with Echo-Factory, a full-service advertising and design firm. Echo-Factory has a pretty impressive portfolio, working with household brands, such as Mag-Lite and General Electric (NYSE:GE), and superstars like Taylor Swift as part of a promotion with Altura Credit Union.

“Echo-Factory understands the space we’re in, and they have the vision and talent to help us continue to build our brand so we can eventually own that space,” commented Spiral Toys CEO Mark Meyers in a press release today.

“We’re excited about Mark’s vision… and to be honest, the technology is just so cool, and that makes Spiral Toys a dream client for us,” added Mike Schaffer, principal at Echo-Factory.

Further, Spiral Toys said today that it has partnered with international toy distributor Jay@Play and On Demand Global to launch CloudPets on Direct Response Television on March 1, 2015. Jay@Play, a division of Jay Franco and Sons, is the distributor behind the popular plush animal brands “CuddleUpPets,” “Hideaway Pets,” “Seat Pets” and more, so the Spiral Toys look to be a natural fit for their distribution channels. Spiral Toys also says it plans to release CloudPets into mass retail stores across the U.S. this August. In a bid to gain exposure, CloudPets commercials will be airing on major kids television networks such as Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, and Disney Junior.

Spiral Pets has management with top-level experience in the business and has aligned itself with some marketers that can get the job done. Shares are moving the right direction in the past three months, from a low of 30 cents to 45 cents per share in Wednesday trading (up a penny on 14,000 in volume), equating to a market capitalization of only $18.6 million. Now, the company had better get some product in the warehouse.

The Feels Bowl 2015



This year, the Super Bowl was dominated by ads that tried to make us tear up, and tried (perhaps less effectively) to make us better people.

Toyota, Dove and Nissan all encouraged us to be better dads. The NFL reminded us to not follow the example set by of many of its players, McDonalds will pay us to be nice, and Coke reminded us not to bring our soda into a data center. I’m not really sure what American Family Insurance was trying to do, but apparently we were supposed to feel kindly towards a singing Norman Rockwell painting.

I honestly don’t know if this year’s Budweiser commercial with puppies and draft horses is different from last year’s. Maybe the wolves are new? I don’t know. Anyway, puppies and draft horses are cheating, and I award them -50 points for further vilifying wolves when there are plenty of misguided individuals already doing that for them. I now want a puppy and a draft horse, but still don’t want a Budweiser. Also, how many times are we going to watch that cowboy lose the puppy?  Does the SPCA need to get involved?

All of these were sentimental and sweet, but I don’t know if any of them will make sales rise, or actually make the world a better place.

The Always (which honestly until this moment I thought was by Dove) #LikeAGirl campaign was far and away the best of the bunch, for effectively championing change and showing most viewers something I expect they’ll take to heart. However, it’s disqualified from being the best of the SuperBowl by virtue of being released in June of 2014.

The Best

My nominees for best ads go for ads that were very effective and making me think twice about things I would have otherwise dismissed.


Cruising is, in my mind, the worst kind of vacation. You’re stuck on a boat with 1000’s of other boring lazy people, gorging yourself for a week while doing precisely nothing, and forgoing all of the challenges and experiences that make travel worthwhile.

If Carnival had done anything like the typical “shots of families going down waterslides and snorkeling” cruse ad, I would have given them a pass. But they didn’t. They used voiceover of JFK introducing the America’s cup, and made cruising about much more than endless buffets. A very good, very effective ad that I expect will help them reach a new demographic.


The second honorable mention in this category goes to Fiat’s blue pill ad by the Richards Group (who makes great commercials but hasn’t apparently updated their website in the past 5-years). I think the 500 is a great little car, but feel that all the oversized Fiat’s are ugly.

In this spot, Fiat managed to be funny, tie their brand back in with their Italian heritage and make a positive association with the 500 as a 500x.


As the owner of an ad agency, you have a choice between 4 makes of cars. Mercedes, BMW, Lexus and Audi. Dea’s somewhere out in left field with a Volvo, but Mike decided on a Lexus. After watching their great the remote control drifting spot, I can’t blame him. It says, “buy a Lexus and you’ll have fun,” which is really what we all want from our cars.

Office Favorites

Stephanie had a shout-out to Budweiser’s live-action PacMan spot, and I have to agree with her love of GrubHub’s flying burrito. That’s mostly because there are few things I hate more than the forced interaction of calling someone on the phone.

“…without ever having to talk to a human being” would sell me just about any product. Finally, someone gets me.

Mustafa fell for the delight of Mountain Dew’s kickstart promo, saying, “something about showing a dog doing the booty dance will always make me laugh.” How can you disagree?

Mike was a fan of “whatever car company tricked me to think my tv went out, but the fact that he can’t remember which car company paid for the spot means something. I do have to say I’m a big fan of the copy on that one. There’s something simple, straightforward and true about, “You know you want a truck.”

I don’t need one, but yeah, I do kind of want a truck.

Most Improved

No question, but this award goes to GoDaddy. Since time immemorial and the dawn o the internet, GoDaddy Super Bowl ads have been crass, immature, sexist and fully cringeworthy. They did nothing but build controversy and name-recognition, and we’ve discussed their awfulness in the past.

But this year, they went in an entirely different direction. GoDaddy’s core demographic is small business owners. People who have a DIY ethic, who work hard and for whom building a good online brand is a key consideration. For once, GoDaddy hit the nail on the head.

It pains me to do it, but I have to give credit where it’s due. This was a great spot, and spot-on.  It’s almost reassuring to learn that their tasteful and quite good commercial that actually ran was a replacement for a somewhat-awful original, pulled after complaints from animal rights group.

A Personal Favorite

I’m not sure it’ll be very effective combating Gorilla Glue’s ownership of the market, but Loctite’s spot was fantastic and hilarious. Mike loved it too.

Sadly, I just went to the store this morning and bought Gorilla Glue, despite the undeniable appeal of fanny packs. Sales might have been boosted more by showing how strong the stuff is, but I have to take a moment to thank Loctite and Fallon for 30 seconds of pure entertainment.

Begrudging Admiration

I hate the entire Game of War ad campaign, but I have to admit that “Kate Upton being rubbed down in a bathtub with monsters and explosions” is pretty much 100% spot-on for the game’s target demographic of 13 year old boys.

While it didn’t do much to convince me to try Clash of the Clans, I do like watching Liam Neeson threaten his phone.


Weight Watchers

Stephanie panned Weight Watcher’s food-porn ad, commenting that neither she nor “anyone who watched that commercial will be going to Weight Watchers anytime soon.” I thought it was awesome, and the “me vs. the world that’s trying to make me fat” attitude was on target.  Also, great job finding the George Clooney voice-alike who was doubtless cheaper than the real thing, and nearly as effective.


Mustafa picked Nissan’s dad-racer spot as one of his favorites. I thought it was good, but there’s no way a Nissan factory racer is picking up his kid from school in an Altima. It’s no accident that Nissan seems to have dubbed the exhaust note of a GT-R over the Altima, because there’s no freaking way the real world version of that dad is driving anything but a GT-R.

Object Lessions in Near Greatness

Last year, Weathertech had a great spot. This year, they almost had another one.

It starts on all the right notes, blue-collar, made-in-america, then gets simultaneously too generic and technical. “Quality automotive accessories” doesn’t mean anything because it’s too generic, and and “laser-measured custom-fit” doesn’t mean anything because nobody knows how it benefits them.

My guess is it’s a classic case of a client wanting to fit too many messages in a single ad, and the agency not having the ahem gumption to stand up and tell them no.

Dove’s #RealStrength dad-ad is an even better example of near greatness.

A beautiful, moving montage of children saying “dad”, ruined by an ending featuring “the most generic and cheesy radio announcer guy ever.” It’s obvious the original spot ended with a much softer branding/logo fadeout, and the awful CTA was added at the last minute by, to put it gently, a fool who has no business in advertising.

Without the ending it’s my personal favorite, with it it’s a case study in what not to do for advertisers everywhere.

The Worst

Far and away the worst of this year’s crop is Budweiser’s “Beer for people who don’t care what their beer tastes like and just want to get drunk” ad. (Alternate title: “Craft Beer is for Sissies.”)

I didn’t take pride in the fact that I’d never actually drunk a Budweiser until that spot came on the air. Now it’s gone from a strange fact to a personal goal. I think anyone who’s ever actually tasted good beer would rather be at the table of guys “dissecting” craft brews than knocking back a cold one.

What You Think?

I know it’s hard to imagine, but sometimes people disagree with us.  If you’re one of them, let us know in the comments.

The Faux Resurrection of Branding


(Article written for CSQ Magazine)

Invest In Helping Your Customers Like You 

It has been announced that branding is dead, and perhaps has been for some time. Wired claimed it in 2004. Fast Company agreed to it in 2008. A bearded creative director confirmed it just this year.

Consultants preach it. Commentators bemoan its loss. One book even goes so far as to suggest that branding is not only dead, but also an art only fit for cows.

The apparent causes of its demise are many. Some attribute branding’s passing to a prolonged bout with transparency, often brought on by unprotected contact with social media. Others point to the more vague “digital age” as branding’s ultimate undoing, or SEO, or packaging (as though packaging were somehow totally separate from branding), or even the supposed education of the consumer class.

It’s that last one that I find particularly hard to stomach. You only need to spend two minutes reading YouTube comments to realize we consumers haven’t come too far.

But every consumer, even those commenting on YouTube, can recognize that branding is alive and well.

When you look behind the “branding is dead” headlines, you usually find that what the author actually means is that the definition of branding has, or should be, expanded. But you and I both know we’re more likely to read an article titled “Branding Is Dead” than one titled “The Definition of Branding Has or Should Be Expanded Slightly.”


We’re all suckers for a punchy headline.


Branding Is Bigger Than Ever

Branding has grown not just in definition, but in value. Interbrand, a branding agency that manages to maintain 33 offices in 27 countries despite the supposed death of its core offering, recently published its 2014 Best Global Brands report. This report lists the “contribution of the brand to business results.”

It’s the closest we can come to quantifying the value in dollars of a brand, and those values are staggering.

Perennial branding favorite Apple’s brand is valued at $118 billion. Another textbook branding case study, Nike, comes in at a $19.9 billion brand valuation.

If you mention the word “branding” in a classroom at ad school, Apple and Nike are the first two words likely to be shouted back at you, so nobody’s surprised that their brands are thought valuable. But there are also plenty of less recognized branding powers that made Interbrand’s list.

Ever thought about the power of a brand to absorb bodily fluids? Pampers gets swaddled with a $14.1 billion brand value, while Kleenex comes in at $4.6 billion.

Brands are also plenty capable of planting stuff in the ground and moving dirt around, as evidenced by John Deere’s $5.1 billion and Caterpillar’s $6.8 billion brand valuations.

All told, Interbrand’s top 100 global brands this year account for more than 1.4 trillion dollars, which is a lot of money. So much that it starts to lose its meaning. So let’s look at it another way.

As the most valuable company in history, Apple currently has a $483 billion market cap. Interbrand estimates that its brand alone accounts for $118 billion. In essence, Apple’s brand accounts for about a quarter of the company’s value.

Sound Investment Advice

No one has ever accused me of being a financial wizard, but here’s some investment advice I’m confident standing behind: You’re probably not investing enough in your brand. Unless your name’s Tim Cook, you’re not at the helm of Apple, but your brand is probably worth more than you think. Or at least it could be.

Branding is much more than just a logo and a tagline. Branding is anything that influences a customer’s perception of your company. And that’s a lot of things.

When a customer emails your company, how long does it take to get a response? Is that response helpful? What does the response look like? What tone does it take?

When a customer visits your website, how easy is it to find the information they’re looking for? Is your site pleasant to use? Does it look as good on their computer screen? Does it look good on their smartphone?

When a customer reaches out to you on social media, do you respond? Do you have an active presence? Do you have something interesting to say on social media, or is it obvious you just have a profile because someone told you that you should?

Branding isn’t magic. It’s just making sure that when your customers come in contact with your company, they like what they find. And chances are, you’re probably not investing enough in branding.

If you do make that investment, I’ll bet that you’ll not only make your customers happier but also increase your company’s value.

Not bad results from something that’s been the subject of more obituaries than I can count.

Five Reasons Why Your Custom Photography Should Come From a Studio That Knows Advertising


Custom Photography featured image

Whether You Need Product or Lifestyle Custom Photography, Working with an Experienced Agency Makes the Imaging Process Easier.

By Hayley Raynes

You’ve got a game-changing product. It’s beautiful, perfectly engineered and far superior to that of your competition. It’s time to show the world, and you’ve got a plan: one of your employees dabbles in photography and has developed a pretty decent following for your business on Instagram, and thanks to all of those amazing filters, your stuff is looking pretty good. This same guy knows his way around Photoshop, and now you’re set up to do all the photography in-house. It’s going to save money and you’ll have complete creative control.

You’re golden, right?

Not so fast.

When you transfer those photos to your website, they just don’t look right. When you try to design your own product catalog, again, they seem off somehow. And now you’ve bought an ad in your industry’s top magazine, and compared to the rest of the ads surrounding yours, the quality of that lifestyle shot you sent over looks inferior. You can’t put your finger on it, but there’s definitely something wrong—and everyone knows it.

Issues like these can kill a brand. They make you look like an amateur—and unless you’re a dimple-faced 8-year-old hawkin’ lemonade at a garage sale, amateur just don’t sell. That’s why working with an experienced agency photographer can be such a benefit to your business.

Here’s a list of our top five reasons why you’ll save in the end by doing it right from the beginning as illustrated by one of our most photogenic clients, Troy Lee Designs:

5. Lighting

Custom Photography Lighting Example


Mariah Carey is known for bringing a professional lighting team to her publicity events. Why? Because she knows that when cameras snap, lighting is everything. Lighting is a subtle art, and it takes experience to get it right. Throw in variables like inconsistent background quality, odd-shaped products and lack of experience in highlighting and shading and there’s just too much that can go wrong without the aid of a professional. An agency photographer has taken, literally, thousands of photographs. Positioning, camera angle and light placement are second nature.


4. Composition

Custom Photography agencies understand composition for ads


There are photographers, and then there are agency photographers. What’s the difference? Agency photographers have an implicit understanding regarding the purpose of their photos. They know that the photo is just the first step. Product shots will end up Photoshopped onto new backgrounds, while lifestyle shots will serve as an anchor for headlines, copy and logos. A general purpose or amateur photographer may not consider these factors while arranging the composition of a photo, making the eventual ad design look jumbled and disorganized.


3. Models

Custom photography working with models


Finding that perfect look to serve as a complementary backdrop for your product or message can be easier for agency photographers, because they routinely work with professional models trained in how to walk, position their bodies and look at the camera in the most compelling way. Agency photographers are connected with talent bureaus, and they can quickly find the professionals you are looking for, in addition to providing professional hair and makeup artists.


2. Deadlines

Custom photography working with deadlines


Producing quality work under pressure is just another day at the office for a seasoned agency photographer, while an amateur or non-agency photographer can become flustered and make poor choices under riding deadlines. If it needs to get done yesterday, an agency photographer is the best bet.


1. Creativity

Custom photography agency creativity


When a photographer has the backing of a quality advertising agency, he or she has access to creative directors, designers and conceptualists who can not only make product and lifestyle photos look great but can infuse them with the power of persuasion. Agency creatives are trained in color theory and design; they are trained to know what makes a product sell and what doesn’t; and their years of experience simply cannot be bought or faked. Plus, if you need them to, agency creatives can develop campaigns, provide compelling copy, design the ad and work with the publication to be sure the ad complies with its specifications. This saves time and money and results in a higher quality and more cohesive product.



The marketplace is tough enough without adding the Achilles heel of poor image quality. In this digital and social age of photo-sharing, there is certainly room for experimentation in your media plan, but at the end of the day, consumers have certain standards and they likely always will. Agency custom photography is one surefire way to meet those standards.

Want to see some more great images? Visit our portfolio.

The Importance of Proofreading


Proofreader's books and resources

Election Day is almost here! For several months, candidates for public office have engaged in high-profile campaigns, speaking at colleges, chambers of commerce, town hall meetings and fundraisers, telling people the reasons to vote for them. Their words and actions have been scrutinized, dissected and analyzed. Having a solid platform may not be enough to win votes – candidates must consider their public image and the way they present themselves as well. How would it look if a candidate came to give a speech or engage in a debate with his tie askew, a mustard stain on his shirt, and mismatched socks? No one would take him seriously, to say the least. He might have spent hours preparing his remarks and studying the issues at hand, but his appearance may distract his audience and detract from the importance of his message.

In a similar way, any final product you send into the world must also be carefully reviewed and polished. If you’re in business, how you market yourself impacts your relationship with customers, potential customers and partners. In short, you want to do your best to look your best.

A marketing agency can help you craft your message and your image. Copywriters help you say what you mean in an engaging way. Designers give you a look and feel that reinforces your brand message. Creative directors make sure that all the work is on target to meet your business objectives as well as help you stand out from the competition. Last, but not least, proofreaders are your quality assurance experts. They make sure every t is crossed and every i is dotted so that your message is communicated effectively.

A proofreader is not only skilled in grammar and spelling. She also checks for the coherency of ideas and consistency of facts. Her arsenal of tools includes The Chicago Manual of Style, The Associated Press Stylebook, the dictionary and Wikipedia, to name a few.

Proofreader's desk and markups

She works with graphic designers to make sure the copy and design are well-integrated. It’s best to bring in the proofreader at every stage of the revision process, so that by the time you are ready to go to press, everything is nearly perfect. The last thing anyone wants is to make major changes right before an approved project is going to print or going to go live.

The proofreader is not there to be critical, although she must look at things critically. It’s her job to make sure the agency and/or client presents the best work possible. She ties up all loose ends. She polishes and tidies up. She makes sure that the first impression, and the lasting impression, is a good one. She is, in other words, the champion of the work.

Don’t be afraid to ask her questions. Trust in her vast knowledge and experience. Maybe you got all A’s in English, but it may have been a while since you had to determine whether to use “which” or “that”. These things you may not notice, but she does. And she bets that someone, somewhere out there, may notice, too. An error-free presentation may be a pivotal point of doing business.

Details matter, whether you’re on the campaign trail or presenting to potential investors or customers. That’s why having a proofreader in your corner is indispensable. Once a creative agency puts together all the components of your marketing strategy and materials, the proofreader comes in to make it all shine. Just make sure to get your suit pressed and you’ll be ready to go!

We’re Moving to Pasadena!


So Cal Ad Agency is Moving to Pasadena

Echo-Factory’s New Home is in the Heart of Old Town

Read the official PRESS RELEASE.

In the 19th century, the Old Spanish Trail carried migrants from Santa Fe, New Mexico to what would one day be Los Angeles, California. The Oregon Trail (the real one, not the computer game) carried pioneers west from Independence, Missouri to the Pacific Northwest.

In keeping with the venerable tradition of American westward migration, Echo-Factory is pulling up stakes and heading west on that old 210 freeway in search of greener pastures (metaphorically speaking, we know California is in a serious drought – do your part, conserve water!). We are headed to a new land of opportunity called Pasadena, and we can’t wait for the adventure to begin.

The office is just about finished and we’re packing up. We’ve bought out the bubble wrap sections of every office supply store within a four-mile radius (exaggeration), and we’ve wrapped everything from the staplers to Mike, our fearless co-leader (no exaggeration). We’re boxing up most of the charm, the personality, the creativity and the fun, and we’re shipping it first class, insured and certified to our new location in the heart of Old Town. (Some of that go-get-em positivity is staying back in the Rancho Cucamonga office, which we are keeping open to best serve our Inland Empire clientele.)

Pasadena is a veritable hotbed of innovation and entrepreneurship, and that’s our kind of town. Over the past year, organizations like Innovate Pasadena and the companies they represent have sent over the welcome wagon. We’re looking forward to being a positive contribution to this business community that is creative, artistic, scientific and enthusiastic. And while we’ll miss our Rancho Cucamonga home, as they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

We plan to be up and running at the new location by the end of September. Our new office address is: 36 West Colorado Blvd., Suite 200. We’re on the second level just a hop, skip and a jump away from the Apple Store.

Until then, catch us at Innovate Pasadena’s What’s Up Social next Wednesday, September 17, from 6-9 p.m.

Want to see the new office? Check out our mood boards on Pinterest. Want to watch the moving process in all of its photo-documented glory? Hit up our Instagram. And stay current on company and industry news and trends by following us on Twitter and Facebook.

And, of course, don’t forget to peruse the portfolio before you leave.

MagLite: Rebranding an American Classic



MagLite on The Weather Channel.

The Weather Channel is a cable and satellite TV station that has been broadcasting weather forecasts, analyses and news since the early 1980s. The channel is received by nearly a billion American households and has a viewership of about 210,000. When we had the opportunity to produce two commercials for MagLite on The Weather Channel, we knew the spots would bring vital exposure to the MagLite brand and feature the flashlights at their best. We wrote scripts for both a :15 and a :20 commercial that met the challenge of making an impact in a short timeframe.

“Lights Out”

In this :15 spot, titled, “Lights Out,” we created a desperate scenario that was resolved with the comforting and familiar click of a flashlight. To make an impact, we relied on a strong visual and heart-pounding audio. We wanted viewers to have the sense that, when conditions are bleak, they can count on their MagLite. In order to direct the viewer toward a specific purchase, we created two versions of this commercial, each ending with two featured MagLite models.

The tagline reinforces a sense of security as well as national pride:

“Turn Your Light On, America.”

“There When You Need Us”

In this :20 spot, titled, “There When You Need Us,” we feature a man depending on his MagLite in several extreme situations. Since our deadlines made live action prohibitive, we used custom photography and CG effects to illustrate the message that MagLite can see a person through nearly any unpredictable circumstance. As with the :15 spot, we left the viewer with a CTA image of various MagLite models.

We’re loving working with MagLite, and we think these commercials turned out great. For more insight into this project, check out our most recent press release.

In our next MagLite update, we’ll introduce their new website, still under construction, and discuss the process and logic behind their reorganized and redesigned online home.

Like what you see? Check out our work page to view more Echo-Factory projects and clients.

Early Stage Branding – Ignore At Your Own Peril Part 2


Early Stage BrandingIn part two of our series on the importance of early stage branding, we take a look at strategy, promotion and expertise.

by Hayley Raynes

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

            Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Okay, so in part one we convinced you that you need to brand and brand early, but that’s just part of the deal. You also need strategy. Branding does not mean throwing a bunch of stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks. You need an in-depth, long-term promotion plan built upon a solid knowledge of your business, your industry, your competition, the marketplace and selling mediums, and, of course, your customers. You need to craft a targeted message that speaks to your potential customers in a voice that they will welcome, understand, trust and hopefully become loyal to. Oh, and you have to strategically position this message so that these individuals—your future customers and champions—will see it at their most receptive moments, embrace it and take it upon themselves to share your awesomeness with the world via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, personal blog, text, and…drumroll please…face-to-face interaction with other like-minded human beings!

Then you need to track the success and failure of your promotion strategy and revise, revise, revise.

No small task, this is, young Padawan.

“Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.”

            Mark Twain

Branding, strategy and promotion are the secrets to success, not only because they whack a path through that crazy overgrown jungle we refer to as the open market, but because this kind of deep business analysis helps you to truly know your company’s strengths and weaknesses in addition to knowing your audience. It allows you to create measurable goals, and when started early, it maximizes what is likely to be a pretty puny budget—which is crucial, because competition is fierce, and you can count on the big boys and girls in your industry to be throwing the kind of money into their branding and marketing campaigns that would make God cry.

Good promotion also helps you to attract the best talent in your industry, positioning you for future growth and continued relevance. It establishes credibility both inside and outside of your industry and creates opportunities for partnerships that can provide the capital and influence you need to develop the next phase of your business. But if you promote incorrectly, you simply won’t get anywhere at all.

And don’t think that just because you are still in the funding stages you can put this stuff off. VC’s want to know that you have a clear “go to market” strategy, because, let’s be realistic, investors might look upward on Sundays, but Monday through Saturday, they bow to mammon. If you can’t prove to them that you can make them money, the risk goes up—and in the world of post-2008 finance, risk is no bueno. A clear promotion strategy goes a long way in calming the skittish investor—a most dangerous creature.

With a startup’s limited resources, knowing where and how to promote is key to stretching those ad dollars, and there is no boilerplate method—every industry has its own pathways to success. What works for retail may not work for B2B, while marketing an app is different from marketing a restaurant. You have to seriously consider your audience. This includes age demos, regional marketing trends, political leanings, religious affiliations, shopping habits, extracurricular activities, tastes in art, music and culture, historical influences, Internet surfing habits, etc., etc., and then this compilation must be used to sculpt a single human persona—a detailed, insightful representation of an honest-to-goodness individual—someone who is unique and special—but also representative of an entire group. And you have to do it with the least amount of bias possible.

 “Excellence is not a skill. It’s an attitude.”

            Ralph Marston

If you dig geeking out on research, then have at it, but let’s be honest, don’t you have better things to do—like, um, I don’t know, perfecting your product? Why would you want to get caught up in this seriously time-consuming business, when you could simply surround yourself with experts to do it for you?

We work with a lot of startups and are confronted again and again with the same situation—they know their technology and they know their financial goals, and because of this, they think they know the best path to market. But unpack this attitude and the logic just isn’t there. Knowing one aspect of business development is not knowing all. Think about it, Peyton Manning is debatably one of the greatest football players on the field today, but just because he can throw a football, and be the successful face of a football company’s branding campaign, does that also mean he could make a football without sewing his fingers together in one of the big industrial machines? Of course, he could learn, and one day even excel as a maker of footballs, but why would he? That would take time, money and effort—resources he’d probably rather use to get better at football. Because his is an attitude of excellence.

Peyton Manning knows that to be truly great at playing football, he needs to focus on playing football. The same goes for any enterprise. If you are a tech developer, you need to work on your tech—there’s always room for improvement. If your aim is to offer the best service or product available, then that’s where your focus needs to be. Marketers and brand strategists, if they’re worth their salt, are experts, too. They’ve spent years researching, hypothesizing, experimenting and theorizing. They’ve stood at many positions on the field and have had plenty of successes and an equal amount of failures, and this cumulative experience has helped them to develop the kind of hard-won insight and know-how that you—as a fledgling business developer—simply don’t have time for.

The point here? If you’re serious about being a brand worth talking about, you need to surround yourself with excellence, hire experts to do the things you don’t know how to do, and then listen to their advice and resist the compulsion to stick your finger in every pot. There’s a crush of competition at every stage of the game. Strategic thinking, planning and promoting is how you get to the end zone.