The Super Bowl Ads: A Guide for the Rest of Us

(Reading Time: 10 minutes)

Friends, the Super Bowl is just a few days away.  That means the Super Bowl ads are just a few days away.  And that means the advertising media, and a few pundits, are working themselves into a lather right about now.

Take Gary Vaynerchuk.  He’s on record as saying:

“Super Bowl ads are underpriced.  Yeah, I said it.”

Medium.com, Jan. 29, 2015

And:

“When I buy my first brand, the first thing I’m gonna do is run multiple Super Bowl ads.”

ANA Masters of Marketing Conference, 2016

See that?  Gary Vee doesn’t even know what his product or service will be, let alone anything about its market or competitive situation, and he’s already committed to a tactical decision on its behalf.  This is obviously a problem, and we’ll come back to it.

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Of Sparkling Water and Hockey Pucks

(Reading Time: 2 minutes)

Sparkling water costs pennies per can to produce.

If you knew this fact only, and you were in the sparkling water business, you might reasonably conclude:

  • Others are going to want a piece of this profitable market.
  • Some of them have been canning fizzy water for decades, and they’re damn good at it.
  • Some of them have very deep pockets.
  • Some of them are going to innovate.

What happens?

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If Nothing Else, Start With Respect

(Reading Time: 2 minutes)

“Manipulating the masses into buying stuff they don’t need!  That’s what I do!  That’s marketing!”

That’s an actual quote I once heard from a marketing director.  This was during an inventing session, the goal of which was to create new products that would make his customers (in other words, people) happier.

I’ve also been in a conference room when an executive flat-out called his customers (also people) “stupid.”

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The 26 Best Books I Read in 2019

(Reading Time: 9 minutes)

2019 was another good year for reading things.  I completed 48 books, 26 of which I recommend to you here.

As either a warning or a selling point, most of them aren’t business books, and most weren’t released in 2019.

Instead of ranking them, I’ve listed them alphabetically by author, a cop-out if there ever was one.  And I’ve provided links to Amazon for each (just click on the title).  This is for your convenience – I’m not an Amazon affiliate and I’m not here to make money off your clicks.

With that, here are the books that made me laugh, cry, think and act in 2019.  Many of these came to me via personal recommendation, and my hope is that you’ll find a few of them intriguing enough to check out.

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If It Doesn’t Solve Your Problems, It’s Weak Strategy

Theranos Elizabeth Holmes
(Reading Time: 4 minutes)

Let’s begin with a simple truth:

Every business has problems.

Those problems may be internal or external (often both).  They may be created by others or self-inflicted.  They may be present-day certainties or future possibilities.

But there’s no business anywhere that is blissfully free of challenges, obstacles, changes… problems.

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