(Creative Content)

Putting Funny Ads To Work For Your Boring-Ass Business – Parody

Never use humor that doesn’t reinforce the principal point of your ad. If remembering the humor forces you to recall the message of the ad...

Asia Gregg
Asia Gregg
May 8, 2021
Putting Funny Ads To Work For Your Boring-Ass Business – Parody

A parody is an imitation that uses exaggeration for comedic effect.

Nothing is safe from a parody if it becomes popular enough… People, movies, events, songs, art, books, pop culture, etc.

The point of the parody is to make fun of the subject using satire, irony, and hyperbole.

Weird Al is one of the best-known parody-makers. As was Mel Brooks. A lot of comedians use this technique. Comedy movies that use parody become cult classics, like Spaceballs, Blazing Saddles, Airplane!, Monty Python’s Holy Grail, Austin Powers, Borat, Shaun of the Dead, Cabin In The Woods, This Is Spinal Tap, Best In Show, etc.

(Here’s a list of must-see parody movies for any comedy fan worth their salt.)

Saturday Night Live has used this technique for years with their parody commercials.

One of the best known being the Love Toilet:

The setup leads us to think it might be a jewelry commercial because it uses all the same elements as every other jewelry commercial. Romantic music, an in-love couple doing 'couple things', and a smooth voiceover about how in love they are. Is he going to buy her a diamond? No sir. He’s going to get her something that’s even more intimate...

Parody is a common tool used in comedy because it frickin’ works. Its power comes from using these two techniques. If a parody lacks either of these, it’s dead in the water.

1. Inside jokes

Great parodies don’t spell it out for the audience about what it is they’re parodying. They leave it up to the audience to get the joke.

If the parody is close enough in style and makes enough familiar-sounding references to the original, it becomes an inside joke between the audience and the performer (or ad, song, etc.)

Inside jokes are one of the quickest shortcuts to bonding with your audience. They’re like a secret handshake between you and the tribe.

If you know the handshake, you’re in the club, and you belong. (I’ll go into more detail on the power of inside jokes in a future post.)

2. Emotional persuasion

Parody doesn’t rely on logic or facts. Parody relies on emotions.

Roy H. Williams often says, “Win the heart and the mind will follow.”

What he means is that when you’ve won someone over emotionally, they will always find a way to justify their decisions with logic.

Parody relies on appealing to emotions instead of using logic, in order to persuade people to accept the parody’s point of view.

And what better way to convince people they like you than to make them laugh? Science has proven over and over again that laughter equals likability, trust, and bonding.

3. Relevance

For the parody to work, it has to be relevant to the point the parody is trying to convey.

If the humor isn’t tied to the message; if you can’t talk about one without talking about the other, then any attempts at persuasion will be short-lived and not very memorable.

“Never use humor that doesn’t reinforce the principal point of your ad. Here’s the litmus test: If remembering the humor forces you to recall the message of the ad, the humor is motivated. Good job. But if recalling the humor doesn’t put you in memory of the ad’s main point, the humor is unmotivated and will make your ad less effective. Sure, people will like the ad. They just won’t buy what you’re selling.” - Roy H. Williams

How can you use parody in your advertising?

Here are three real-world examples of parody ads that got a LOT of attention:

FurKids Kitty Kommercial

This low-budget ad for an Atlanta animal shelter went viral thanks to its comedic chops.

The black and white intro parodies those cheesy infomercials we’ve all been subjected to.


Except it’s a little… off. We notice the goldfish in question is a simple line drawing on the side of a tank. That subtle setup alludes that this might not be your typical infomercial.

Cut to (in my opinion) the funniest part of this ad: a girl in the background doing an Oscar-worthy impression of those arm-waving inflatable tube-thingies you see at car dealerships. They’re poking fun at just how low-budget this commercial is. Right off the bat, they let you know, that they know, that you know… this was made on the cheap.

(Sidebar: This is another technique used in comedy. When there is a glaringly obvious flaw, like how cheap this commercial looks, it’s better to address it before the audience does. When you joke about your flaws, it disarms the audience and gets them back on your side. People like to reference B-Rabbit’s final rap battle in 8 Mile as a great example of this. We’ll cover this technique in a future post, because it’s very important.)

So back to arm-waving inflatable tube-girl. We’ve all seen those things at car lots, so how does our host talk to us? In the stereotypical spiel of every used car dealer ad.

Except it’s a little, again. Because he’s not offering cars, he’s offering cats.

“Come see our fine selection of quality cats.”

“2016 models are compatible with windows.”

“Ask about our exclusive models available only through certified FurKids stores.”

These are all familiar phrases we’ve heard in car dealership ads.

(Another sidebar: That “tree kitty” line is a reference to a then-popular meme - “I need about tree-fiddy.” The people who got that unexplained reference felt like they were in on the joke, and therefore more connected to the ad. Inside jokes, people.)

Anywho... the cherry on top is when he parodies the Sarah McLachlan “Arms Of An Angel” song, with spectacularly-on-purpose-under-par guitar and vocals.

Instead of black and white slow-motion shots of shivering and neglected pets with sad eyes, we get color shots of happy kitties.

And even though we know exactly which gut-wrenching ad he’s referencing, we still find it cute. We can actually sit through it without screaming “I CAN’T WATCH THIS” and turning it off. (Don’t lie, you do it too.)

With over 5.6 million views, you can’t go wrong with this adorably funny parody.

Ikea’s “Experience the power of a bookbook” ad.

It looks and sounds exactly like an Apple ad, but it's for Ikea’s product catalog.

Instead of creating their own ad from scrap, Ikea took an idea that had already been proven to work and pivoted.

That’s the thing about most successful parodies - the thing they’re parodying is already popular.

Because parodies only work if you get the references to what they’re imitating.

Ikea’s parody worked because everyone knew what Apple’s commercials looked and sounded like.

These four lines from the ad are ones to pay attention to:

  1. “The first thing to note is no cables. Not even a power cable… The 2015 Ikea catalog comes fully charged, and the battery life is eternal.”
  2. “The interface is 7.5 by 8 inches, but can expand to 15 by 8 inches.”
  3. “Content comes pre-installed, via 328 high definition pages of inspiring home furnishing ideas.”
  4. “At Ikea, we feel that technology this life-enhancing should be in the hands of everyone. So the 2015 Ikea catalog is free.”

Why these lines? Because these four lines are the only concrete facts stated in the entire two-and-a-half-minute ad.

  1. It’s a 2015 catalog
  2. the size dimensions
  3. the number of pages
  4. the price - free.

Sure they show you some of the pages as well, but actually, this ad is not about features. It’s about emotions.

It combines the clean, optimistic, and futuristic emotions of an Apple ad, while at the same time incorporating wry comedy. Comedy that works, because they’re presenting a simple furniture catalog as if it were an ultra-hyped expensive laptop.

This ad has over 19 million views on Youtube (and 700,000 views within one day of posting.)

“Luxury Defined” ‘96 Nissan Ad

When you need to offload an old POS, there’s no better way to do it than with an over-the-top ad.

Almost everyone else sells their used cars the same way (“Please buy it from me? I promise it’s not that bad!”)

But to advertise a used car the same way luxury car brands advertise theirs, it turns heads. (Over 2.6 million heads, says Youtube.)

The attention to detail is... *MUAH* (That’s me doing that Italian chef kiss thing with my hand.)

From the dramatic cello music, to vintage black and white shots of bridges and steel, to the pompous British voiceover (“The most iconic monuments always seem to be those that stand the test of time… the structures that weathered the years…. those that stood through wars and depression, and today still stand impressive…”) You think you’re actually seeing a new luxury car commercial.

He builds the tension for twenty seconds before revealing the twist… that this is an ad for a seventeen-year-old-worn-out car.

Then he juxtaposes the dramatic music, low-light quick-cuts, and voiceover with shots of torn-up seats and a tied-down hood.

Notice again how there are very few product facts in this ad. What do we really know about the car, other than we love it? We know it’s a seventeen-year-old sports sedan, “with an engine, wheels, tires, and an automatic transmission.”

Yet 2.6 million people were captivated enough to watch this ad for a full minute.

It even captivated Nissan, who actually bought the car and donated a thousand bucks to the charity of the ad-makers choice.

How can you use parodies in your advertising?

1. One way to start is by listing the stereotypes and cliches often found in your business or industry. Is there something you could make fun of there?

Are there any flaws in your industry or business that you’re afraid to talk about? Time to get ahead of them before your audience or your competition does.

Speaking of your competition, do they have flaws that you don’t? A great way to highlight them without smearing them is through parody.

A good place to find ideas for these flaws, stereotypes, and cliches is in memes. Memes are the currency of the internet, and if you want to know what people are joking about, you go to the memes.

2. Much like Ikea did with their catalog ad, is there a current popular or proven trend, style, movement, etc. going on that you could reference?3. Similes are a helpful nudge into finding something parody-worthy. What are the elements of your business “like?” What are various points of the client experience "like?" Are there elements of the client experience that are similar to different, seemingly unrelated things?4. Watch other parodies. SNL has a ton for you to take notes on.





Toys best thing you can do to improve your use of parodies is to study how others do it. Or you could just call us at the Wizard of Ads™. We study this stuff so you don't have to. Parody a bit too cheeky for you? Try Juxtaposition.

(Brand Story)
Asia Gregg
Asia Gregg

Fishing for laughs is useless if you don't know how to f*cking fish. That's where I come in. My wheelhouse is humor. Get on my boat 'cause we're gonna go catch some fat tunas.

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Don’t forget, we have the largest buying power in North America for media buying, meaning for every dollar you spend buying media, we only spend 27 cents on average. This stretches your reach, impact, and frequency in a way no other agency (or yourself) can achieve on your own, saving you hundreds of thousands of dollars, eventually millions, every single year.

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There is no longer any guesswork, hope, or fear that our marketing strategies are going to work. If our client’s are able to abandon any limiting beliefs about marketing, deliver operational excellence, and play the long game, our marketing strategy will accelerate their profitable growth.

Wizard of Ads® for Contractors pricing model is based solely on the topline revenue of your company. It consists of an Upfront Fee and an Annual Fee. These fees are inclusive of scheduled travel, services, and all other expenditures as outlined in the Consulting Agreement.

The Upfront Fee covers the intensive Uncovery Process, the first year’s Media Buy, the Creative Process, and the Market Research while the Annual Fee goes toward implementation, ongoing creative and consulting, and next year's media buy. You get a team of 3.5 people, with direct access to a top tier Creative Lead and Media Buyer, and on-demand access to me as your Master Strategist. You will also have a full-time Account Manager keeping everything on track.

While the upfront does have an initial pinch, it is easy to amortize the investment over the many years we will be working together to grow your business. Wizard of Ads® retain clients for 10 years, on average. The sale of the business is the number one reason for termination. We actively terminate the bottom 1% of clients who are unwilling or unable to follow our strategies.

Wizard of Ads® for Contractors believes that all rewards should be directly correlated to the success of our clients. This means that the Wizard of Ads® for Contractors only receives a raise when the company achieves growth. For example, if your gross sales for the year have increased by 25%, the Annual Fee you pay us in the following year will also be increased by 25%. Likewise, if your gross sales decrease, our Annual Fee will decrease by the same percentage during the following year.

This is an exceptionally easy and fair way to track and reward success. This model was developed by Wizard of Ads® over 35 years ago and has served us well because it serves our clients well.

As a rule of thumb, we take the risk of working for considerably less than our actual value in the first few years as we help accelerate growth. This means you need to be willing to pay us exceptionally well when you start doing even better.

When should I engage The Wizard of Ads® for Contractors?

There are four key revenue stages for engagement with the Wizard of Ads® for Contractors.

  1. Under $3.6 million in revenue
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  3. Between $10 and $20 million in revenue
  4. Over $20 million in revenue

Under $3.6 million in revenue is an investment in your brand. This will serve you well in establishing your brand story early on and help you with your name, logo, and truck wrap design. It's easier to create pictures from a story than it is to make a story based on pre-drawn pictures. You'll be glad you did. Everyone on a fast path to growth is.

Most clients start with Wizard of Ads® for Contractors between $3.6 and $10 million in revenue. They have often seen a natural ceiling with their leads for demand service and are looking for ways to push past the ceiling. This can only be done with a properly executed brand strategy, specifically in mass media with a sticky story.

Between $10 and $20 million in revenue, Wizard of Ads® for Contractors has some natural economies of scale. This is a sweet spot where Wizard of Ads® for Contractors can offer some added value in getting the ball rolling.

Over $20 million in revenue is actually the lowest cost point of entry as a percentage of revenue, but not the cheapest time to start with the Wizard of Ads® for Contractors. Leveraging all economies of scale aside, we have been left out of the upside along the way, so engaging when over $20 million in revenue means we have to mend a lot of fences damaged along the way. This is also where clients see significant savings in their media buys and production costs.

There are also three market sizes to consider.

  • Primary Markets are the top 50 cities in America.
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  • Tertiary Markets are the more rural trade areas in America.

When considering an engagement with The Wizard of Ads® for Contractors, consider what size market you are in. For example, a $3.6 million company in a Primary Market will struggle to get the necessary reach needed to make a splash. You either have to be more patient than a larger company or spend more money to accelerate your reach.

Alternatively, a $5 million company in a Secondary Market will look like a pretty darn big fish in a medium-sized pond.

A $20 Million company in a Primary Market will feel like a $50 million company using our strategies to potential customers.

The key to remember is that the earlier you start with the Wizard of Ads® for Contractors, the lower the investment to get started. As they say, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.

Are production costs included in your fees?

The Wizard of Ads® for Contractors Creative Lead will create the ad copy, cast the voice actors, source the production house, direct the performance, pick the music bed, manage all the edits, and provide you with the completed ad for final approval before sending to air on your behalf. This is included in our fees.

You pay for the production house, actors, royalty-free music, and jingles directly to avoid any potential for markups, commissions, or management fees.

We have many friends in the industry that give our clients good deals due to the large volume of work we provide them. We will introduce you to them.

How long before a brand-forward strategy starts working?

In approximately three months of activation, we’ll just be getting live on air. In six months (3 months on air), you’ll be getting anecdotal feedback from people that you are being heard, but there will be no direct line to revenue.

After 6 months on the air, you’ll think you made the biggest mistake of your life signing up for this branding nonsense. After 9 months on the air (12 months in) you’ll see the light at the end of the tunnel.

At 12 full months on the air, you’ll know why you did this branding thing. Two years from now, we'll be clinking champagne flutes as you wonder why you didn’t do this sooner.

How long before we’re live?

The general guideline is 70-120 days, depending on the level of production needed and if there is a name change to your business.

This includes an onsite visit, a deep dive into research, and getting things created, negotiated, approved, produced, and live on the air.

  • Uncovery - 15-30 days based on travel. 1-2 days onsite.
  • Research - 30-60 days based on the scope of work.
  • Creative and Media Buy Process - 45 to 60 days
  • Offline Production - 15 days for radio. 30 - 60 days for television.
  • Online Production (if switching) - 60 days

This means planning for roughly 90 to 120 days in the proper development and production of a completely unique Marketing Strategy before anything hits the airwaves.

Are you exclusive?

Creatively, yes. During the term of this Agreement, all Creative Partners assigned to your Account shall not engage, directly or indirectly, as an employee, officer, manager, partner, consultant, agent, owner, or in any other capacity, in any competition of the client, including any company engaged in marketing consulting.

For clarity, the Creative Partner is defined as the individual Wizard of Ads® Partners who is responsible for creating your creative strategy and ongoing creative copy. Competition is defined as companies that engage in the same industry and business units (e.g., HVAC, Plumbing, etc.) as you. The market area is defined as the area where the marketing message naturally reaches through DMA or 60 miles from the city center of the client's service area(s).

Naturally, we exclude any potential future competition in markets where you are not currently active at the date of signing.

We do not limit Media Buyers in any market. Media Buyers get better deals for larger volumes, making it beneficial for the client to have the Media Buyer available to do as many buys as possible to secure the best deals on the client’s behalf.

Do you do digital marketing?

In rare circumstances, Wizard of Ads® for Contractors will provide specific digital marketing solutions. Wizard of Ads® has very specific Partners that provide digital services that serve Residential Home Services effectively. Under no circumstances will digital marketing services be offered without Wizard of Ads® for Contractors' core solution.

It is most likely that Wizard of Ads® for Contractors will work with your existing digital partners and suppliers. If you do not have a reliable digital provider, we would be happy to introduce you to a number of great providers that play nice with Wizards.

Do you do jingles?

Wizard of Ads® for Contractors can assist you in getting a jingle for your business. Like any other tactical element of a marketing strategy, we do not produce a jingle for the sake of a jingle.

If you do not have a story or a strategic reason to have a jingle...or an ad campaign to tie it to, do not waste your hard-earned money on a jingle. You are wasting your time and money.

When you do build a single unified marketing strategy that incorporates a jingle for a specific (often scientific) reason, we have a Jingle Wizard who has studied the art and science of jingle design.

He will score you an original, royalty-free jingle, including professional singers, musicians, and producers. He will not knock off a generic jingle from a publicly available music bed that sounds like everyone else's jingle.

Your jingle will serve a very specific reason and produce a very specific result. Have you guessed how much we love jingles yet?

Who owns the copyrights?

Wizard of Ads® for Contractors owns your copyright for two very specific reasons. We also provide a fair use clause in all contracts to ensure you are in no way limited to the access of your creative works, whether you are working with us or not.

The first reason we own your copyright is to ensure that we do not have to go up against our own creative works in other markets we serve. This means you are not allowed to lend, give, borrow, tweak, rent, lease, or sell your creative works to any other company at any time.

The second reason we own your copyright is that we can establish a one-time value for your creative works in the event that someone steals the content. Upon selling you the copyrights, you can go after the perpetrator for theft and make a considerable bounty in a slam dunk case.

Here is how Wizard of Ads® word the fair use of your copyright for as long as your business is in operation:

All writing and/or marketing materials we create for you are not works-for-hire. Wizard of Ads® for Contractors hereby irrevocably grants you, and your successors in interest, the non-exclusive, royalty-free, non-transferable, and worldwide right to use the Works in connection with the marketing of your business pursuant to the Marketing Strategy for so long as your business is operational.
How do I measure brand results?

There are a number of interesting ways to measure results. Some people like to get unique identifying telephone numbers, or create branded URLs that redirect to landing pages or the website. However, much of this is a waste of time and energy as it never tells the true story of the brand journey and how it affected the decision-making process.

Other indicators of brand effectiveness include tracking new customers, reactivated customers, or running a brand equity survey to get a sense of your share of mind. Digitally you will see direct search increase, which cannot be affected by anything digital, as well as branded keyword inquiries increase. You’ll, of course, need to get your digital people to add these to your campaigns if you hope to see an increase in conversions.

Wizard of Ads® for Contractors tracks the simplest of indicators. Top line revenue. When your branding takes effect, and the company responds in kind from the phone call or form fill-on, top-line revenue will increase. Efficacy is plotted on a T12, and total lead volume from all sources is tracked.

12 things you should know before signing up.
  1. Quality relationships take time. Branding is a long-term strategy. That’s why most contractors do it wrong, or not at all. There is always a lag between the start of the new campaign and the time it takes your customers to connect the dots. You MUST BE READY, WILLING, AND ABLE to endure this lag period. In our experience, the lag is typically 6 to 9 months, depending on how competitive the marketplace is, your company’s reputation, your budget in relation to reach, and the eight uncontrollable environmental factors. During this time, we will be helping you implement a transition plan to ease the pain. The good news is that this lag only happens once.
  2. Decisions by Committee. We completely reject the notion of decisions by committee. We work with a single, courageous decision-maker. We welcome decision influencers, but we only look to the Owner for the final decision. All decision-makers and influencers must be involved in the Uncovery and Marketing Strategy Presentation if they want to offer input in the future. It is critical that we have a 100% fully approved plan that can be defended and championed by all leaders in the organization.  
  3. Proven Strategy. That means we are not the low-cost provider. With nearly 200 home service clients and a book of strategic devices, tools, and tactics, this isn’t a guessing game for us. We know what to do to make your externally triggered grudge purchase appealing to your potential buyers. If you can deliver the goods, we can continue building relationships. If you are uncomfortable with the idea that you are paying us less now so that you can pay us considerably more once revenues allow, please do not commit. We intend to be your true partners, in sickness and in long as you own your business.
  4. Automatic Payments. Everything is on automatic payments. If you struggle with managing cash flow, figure that out in your business first. We accept all major credit cards and ACH payments.
  5. We Cause Problems. If you don’t have a capacity issue now, I promise you will in about 9 months. Let’s deal with recruitment out of the gate as part of your comprehensive marketing strategy.
  6. We Own the Copyrights. All writing and/or marketing materials we create for you are not works-for-hire. We irrevocably grant you, and your successors in interest, the non-exclusive, royalty-free, non-transferable, and worldwide right to use the Works in connection with the marketing of your business pursuant to the Marketing Strategy for so long as your business is operational.
  7. Brand Building. We will be steering you to limit the use of discounts, rebates, coupons, and sales to attract clients. We know this feels counterintuitive to many, and we will clarify our reasoning. Rest assured, we have considerable experience in creating similar offers that are not damaging to your profitability, your brand’s integrity, and your preferable long-term client relations.
  8. Creative Authority. We must have creative authority over the words. You can accept copy as written or reject it outright, but you cannot modify the words yourself. If you do not like something as written, we are happy to discuss it and make the necessary change to maintain the integrity and intention of the words chosen. Alternatively, we will scrap the concept and create new copy that you are happy to get behind 100%.
  9. Proprietary Algorithm. The media buy must be structured in a very specific way, including running a full 52-week schedule. It is based on brain chemistry, not P&Ls. Once we have committed to the buy, it’s important to avoid adjustments unless they are calculated additions.
  10. Knucklehead Factor. You should expect knuckleheads. For example, when you start running ads that are certain to get attention, you need the courage to continue running those ads, even when you receive complaints. We celebrate complaints. It means we’ve made people feel.
  11. Digital Weasels. In about three months from the time your advertising campaign hits the airways, your digital marketers will show you a marked increase in direct and organic traffic. Some Digital Marketers will mistakenly claim this success as their own. Done properly, you can continue to spend less and less on digital lead generation by increasing your branded keyword online presence.
  12. Annual Marketing Meetings. Travel permitting, we prefer to hold Annual Marketing Meetings (AMMs) outside your city. Years of experience have taught us that we get better results when decision-makers are outside their sphere of influence, away from the day-to-day distractions of the office.

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