Saturday, July 30, 2011


There’s a consumer statistic that has been circling the earth since dirt was invented, or at least long before anything like the Internet existed: For every one praise your business receives, there are 10 customers complaining to family and friends about your product or service. Who knows if the math is still correct? The point is that people are much more apt to express their displeasure with your business than heap praise.

Now, however, with the advent of the Internet, there are convenient online vehicles to not only bash a business, but to do it in writing and anonymously if you like, with the ability to influence scads more people than the word-of-mouth of yesterday. Review sites like Yelp and Kudzu; social websites like Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter; personal websites and blogs; even email give individuals the ability to shotgun their message far and wide with relative ease. Today, dissatisfied customers don’t just seemingly disappear into obscurity.

As damaging as a posted complaint directed at your business can be, however, you can use the overall concept of consumer online ranting to your advantage in a research method dubbed “hate-surfing.”

Hate-surfing involves researching negative comments and posts about businesses similar to your own to generate insights that can help you run your business. You’ll find complaints ranging from issues specific to a single business—i.e. “my food was cold” or “there were bed bugs in my room”—to industry trends across the board.

To search effectively, you’ll want to first acquaint yourself with the typical language used to complain in your industry. Do people often write “sucks” or that they were “ripped-off” or “ignored,” etc.? Then, you’ll want to narrow down where you research. TripAdvisor, for example, is a popular travel industry site where consumers air their complaints. Amazon has thousands of product reviews. You’ll find lots of restaurant reviews on Yelp. Facebook and Twitter pretty much cover the gamut. When you get into the rhythm, it usually doesn’t take too long to spot mistakes that other businesses are making that may prompt you to implement changes in products, service and policy, etc. in your own company.

Hate-surfing is an effective tool that we use at Ryan William’s Agency to keep tabs on our current clients and to help prepare when pitching new ones. Although not scientific, it does offer insight not unlike a focus group. And it’s free. So what’s not to like about hate-surfing?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

You too can YouTube

While pretty much everyone but the stuffiest among us agrees that Facebook, Twitter and certain blogs, etc. can be a lot of fun, no one can deny that YouTube videos hold the most potential for side-splitting entertainment. (And if you do deny it, reference “stuffiest” above and consider opening a LinkedIn account.)

Yes, it’s true; companies and individuals post videos of many stripes other than humorous ones. Anything from reconstructive dental surgery to personal political diatribes are fair game. But who doesn’t like to laugh? And a recently completed unscientific study by Ryan William’s Agency found that “a whole heck of a lot more” funny videos went viral last year than any other genre, except music and maybe those peeks inside the reactor cores in Fukushima, Japan.

The point is, however, that humor sells. And even if music as well as pain and suffering do as well, who has the budget to hire Lady Gaga and do you really want to associate your product or service with catastrophe? But for the cost of a video camera that you probably already have in your smart phone or digital camera and a little creative thinking, you have the potential to spread your business message perhaps worldwide.

A great example of this is Blendtec, manufacturer of the “world’s best blenders,” and the company’s tongue-in-cheek “Will it Blend” videos. Company founder and engineer Tom Dickson blends up everything from cell phones to golf balls to illustrate the power of his blenders in this hilarious series. While his blender stayed intact, his videos exploded on YouTube and so did sales. You can view them on his website at or dial them up on

Miracle Whip is using YouTube on a grander scale, creating the “Miracle Whip Not for Every Relationship Contest” where the company is awarding $25K to the best 60-second video depicting how Miracle Whip either caused couples to marry or divorce. The promo video alone ( is hysterical.

“Yes, I understand the marketing power of YouTube,” you say, “but I can barely keep up with the day to day demands of my business, let alone produce videos.” And that’s okay. The production of videos can be outsourced or you can start yourself small-time and infrequently. Eventually, however, when you realize the value of such a strategy, the likelihood of a video campaign eventually becoming integral to your business’s advertising mix is quite high. Think about it. Then give us call if you have questions.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The evolution of the creative team

Once upon a time, there were only a handful of mediums in which a business could advertise: newspapers, magazines, radio, television, outdoor, direct mail, etc., what we loosely define as traditional advertising. In just a few short years, however, the explosion in technology has not only created a slew of new advertising options—from social media to QR codes—but the industry’s evolution now requires agencies practically to have to employ Google engineers to understand the new mediums and maintain the complex mix.

This means the traditional copy writer/art director creative team has evolved as well. Effective copy for Twitter, for example, must be 144 characters long or less. Oh, and to be an effective Tweet, the message mustn’t hit the reader over the head with sales speak and instead subtly coax with independent entertainment or information. Effective website copy must be written for the Google indexing spiders as well as for the market for whom the site is intended. As for effective design, it must now work when viewed in mediums ranging from print to tiny smart phone screens to stories-high projected signage in Times Square.

But the evolution of the creative team is more than just a copywriter adapting his words and an art director her design to fit the new mediums. Because of all the ways in which a business can now advertise, there are a multitude of concerns and issues far outside the realm of words and pictures.

At Ryan William’s Agency, the typical brainstorming meetings to create a new ad campaign involve everyone in the agency because of the complexities involved. A “simple” website build, for example, which is just one small facet of big campaign, requires input from a number of unrelated professional areas—photography, copy writing, layout and design, programming, SEO, the list goes on.

Topics during our meetings can range from who’s going to clean and prep a client’s truck before a wrap is installed to the pros and cons of buying targeted or untargeted Facebook fans to jump start a social media campaign. We discuss the virtues of building a website using a content management system versus custom programming; how to address positive and negative website business reviews; the fact that Google customizes its search results based on what an individual has searched for and clicked on in the past, yielding search results that Google “thinks” you want. The variables are complicated and any one decision has a ripple effect throughout the campaign.

Today’s creative team is no longer simply the wordsmith and artist because the meaning of “creativity” in advertising has evolved to include science as well as art. Is the Google Analytics expert creative? Are website meta tags sexy? Perhaps not in the traditional sense. But, in today’s world of advertising, these are critical parts of the creative mix and, for the team at Ryan William’s, at least, as flashy as a double-truck four-color add in the Palm Beach Post. And if your creative team is having a hard time getting jazzed about Tweeting or tagging, you might want to find someone who finds these new mediums just as exciting as the old ones.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Quotations from some of the biggies in the Advertising Hall of Fame

At the Ryan William’s Agency, we like ad-related quotations that stand the test of time almost as much as ads themselves that are as relevant today as in decades prior. Here are a few of our favs, all from heavy-hitting members in the Advertising Hall of Fame.

“If you're trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day, and the language in which they think. We try to write in the vernacular." --David Ogilvy

“Advertising makes people discontented. It makes them want things they don't have. Without discontent, there is no progress, no achievement." --Morris Hite

“It takes good clients to make a good advertising agency. Regardless of how much talent an ad agency may have, it is ineffective without good products and services to advertise." --Morris Hite

“The right name is an advertisement in itself." --Claude Hopkins

“When executing advertising, it's best to think of yourself as an uninvited guest in the living room of a prospect who has the magical power to make you disappear instantly." --John O'Toole

While the team at Ryan Williams hasn’t penned a quotable line about advertising practices and philosophies worthy of the Hall of Fame-—YET—-we do have numerous award-winning campaigns to our credit that significantly increased both brand awareness and sales for area businesses. We like to think that speaks volumes. Got a question about promoting a product, a business, even an individual? Give us a call. We can help, and you may quote us on that.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Let’s be clear about transparency

Whether it’s corporate America, the government or the social media campaign for your business, the buzz is about transparency, a fancy word for honesty. Whatever you call it, however, being honest with your market, your audience and the public in general is of utmost importance in today’s society because of the current and rapidly evolving future state of communications technology.

Whether you’re a fan or not of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, blogging, mobile websites, texting and the like, huge numbers of people are and are sharing up-to-the-minute news and information via these social mediums. Breaking news is no longer strictly in the hands of professionals who are limited to some extent by reporting solely what they’re told. Stories go viral every day, “reported” by individuals with a smartphone or a Twitter account who just happen to stumble upon an event—events as significant as the bin Laden raid in Pakistan to as trivial as what one ate for lunch.

Individuals to businesses to entire governments can’t hide anymore, at least not for very long. (How long was Congressman Anthony Weiner’s … ahem … photo on Twitter before he came to his senses and took it down?) The point is if it’s newsworthy—and as we’ve established, virtually everything is fair game—it will likely be “reported.”

So what’s a business to do? Two things. First, don’t fight Big Brother. Embrace him. He’s watching, and in the grand scheme of things, that’s a good thing. Run an ethical and reputable business. Treat your customers and employees fairly. Be a good corporate citizen. Go above and beyond. If there’s nothing scandalous, illegal or unfair about your business practices, and, heck, maybe even some wholesome qualities to them, chances are most of the news about your company will be positive.

Which brings us to No. 2: When you get a bad online review, a negative Tweet, a bash in the Facebook—and you will no matter how snow white you strive to be—respond honestly and in a timely manner, and express a sincere effort to address the poster’s concerns. People tend to respond more favorably to a negative event when there is a caring and understandable response to it than when the negative event stands alone.

That’s transparency in a nutshell. Keep your nose clean in the first place, and when a customer becomes unreasonable or a negative event occurs, address it immediately, publicly and transparently.

Got questions about social media and the direction of your advertising? At Ryan William’s Agency, we can help. We’re a full-service ad agency serving a wide array of South Florida businesses with their advertising and marketing needs, from print ads, television, radio and collateral materials to website design, SEO and SEM, and social media campaigns. Give us a call today.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Would You Like Fries With That?

There’s an advertising medium that doesn’t get a whole lot of attention—perhaps because it’s not as slick and sexy as a glossy magazine ad or social media, etc.—yet it’s simple, cost effective and works: telephone on-hold messages.

Statistically, incidental memory retention via the auditory system is quite high compared to visual means, which is why people easily and unintentionally pick up song lyrics word for word on the radio, for example, versus prose or other text they’ve read. Although not exactly comparing apples to apples, McDonald’s classic line, “Would you like fries with that,” boosted sales by 20 percent the year it was introduced, a strong testament to the effectiveness of selling to the ears.

Messages on hold not only educate callers—a captive audience, by the way—about your products and services, but the caller is generally more receptive to the pitch because he or she made the call in the first place.

If you’re not currently using a telephone message on-hold system, we at Ryan William’s strongly urge you to do so and can help you with the process, from selecting a reputable vendor to writing and recording scripts. Every day that goes by with your on-hold callers listening to music, or worse, nothing at all is a lot of unsold French fries.