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What do doctor’s mistakes have to do with marketing?

I just ran across an article in the Wall Street Journal (see link below) about the biggest mistakes doctors make.  I was struck by the similarity to mistakes made by marketers.  True, marketing people aren’t in the life or death business — even if it seems that way sometimes.  However, recognizing pitfalls than can lead to bad outcomes should be a life-skill for marketers — as well as doctors.

The article cites 13 common mistakes.  Two of them are particularly useful reminders to marketers.  As you work to make good decisions, keep at least these two pitfalls in mind.


The article explains, “A tendency to act on incomplete information, institutions or hunches.  Too much faith is placed in opinion instead of carefully gathered evidence.”

So, who among us has not regretted an impulsive decision, one with reverberating effects?  For example, the marketer who authorized promoting the Nova compact sedan in Spain with great fanfare. Only to discover that “Nova” meant “No Go” in Spanish.  Oops.  Some carefully gathered evidence would have been a good thing.

I remember a bank client of mine once decided, without any advance notice to customers (this was before the TISA regulations), to convert all their free checking accounts to $4.99 per month.  This decision was made in reliance upon a profitability consultant with no consultation with anyone else — least of all the marketing department.  My client put the change into effect within 24 hours of the decision.  In the first 7 days, the bank lost 30% of those accounts, taking $7 million in deposits with them.  Did I tell you the bank was a $400 million bank?  Yes, a clear cut case of overconfidence bias.


This is defined as “The tendency for people on a medical team to believe and do certain things because many others are doing so.”

We’ve all seen this happen a bunch of times.  Most recently companies have launched major-big-time Facebook programs, mostly because one of their peers have done one.  So, off they go with not a scrap of strategy in sight.  Typically, the program bombs and all around the company you hear Facebook being roundly condemned.  (This is an example of the article’s “Fundamental Attrition Error.”  As in, the failure was Facebook, not us.)

What is needed is more careful, analytical thinking and less headlong decision making.  Before pulling the trigger, take a break and ask yourself, “Have I really thought through the implications of what I’m about to do?  Have I carefully considered all the outcomes?  Am I prepared to live with the consequences (loss of market share, wasted resources, etc.) that may ensue?

We have to make decisions every day.  Let’s take a moment and be sure we’re making a good one.

Want to talk over ways to make better marketing decisions?  Email me with MISTAKES in the subject line.  Remember, it never costs anything to share our experience.

SOURCE LINK: The Wall Street Journal (November 17, 2013).



Looking for an Ad Agency? Check out our First-Time-Free program.

Money always matters.

Almost nobody has the luxury of leaving money out of a agency decision.  No matter how good a deal looks, no matter how good the fit between the parties, money can be a deal breaker.  Speaking for ourselves, we don’t want money to be the reason we miss a great opportunity with a prized client.

So, we have a way to make it not all about the money.

For clients that look promising to us, we’ll make them this offer: first project we do, we’ll do for free.  How does it work?  It’s simple.  The client has to talk to us, give us really usable information, including a clear sense of mission.  We’ll respond with prelim copy and art (including images).  We’ll do that as often as it takes to until the client is happy.  Then, we’ll finish project by providing final deliverable.  When that’s done we’ll send a bill that itemizes all the fees and charges with a bottom line that credits the full amount.

Are we crazy? 

Nope.  At least, not about this.  It seems fair to us.  The client has the greatest business risk.  And, there are lots of advertising people out there.  So, to add some clarity, we’ll take the money out of the equation.  We figure clients will like it and come back.

What happens if a client screws us, takes the idea and never comes back?  Well, that could happen.  That’s our risk.  But, if it does happen, we won’t die, or cry, we’ll just move on.  After all, there’s some good that comes from the exercise.

There’s got to be a catch.

Yeah, actually there are two – but they’re little stuff.  First, out-of-pocket costs, like media, production, photography and stuff like that are on the client.  Second, we aren’t going down this road if the client can’t reasonably commit to a future relationship, even a modest one.

We’ve never lost a client over money.

Not in our entire 40 year history.  So, we think we understand this money thing :)

So, this sound good to you?

 Well, great.  Let’s get started.  Drop us an email with “FIRST TIME” in the subject line.  We’ll get right back to you.


Seven reasons we’re much more than an ad agency.

Your people + our people = a great team

Our clients tell us our ability to manage projects and convert insiders into effective  team members is a rare skill.  After all, almost no banking project is a solo exercise.  There are overlapping departments, and often some complicated IT issues, in play.  Our business wisdom, market savvy and great people skills provide what’s needed to get complicated projects over the goal line – on time and under budget.  When you introduce us into the mix, you don’t get hot air and out-of-date solutions.  You get effective leadership and up-to-date subject currency.

We’re a leader in inventing marketing niche technology.

We hear this a lot, “What’s a marketing firm doing creating program code to connect bank CIF with a web-delivered data request?”  Thing is, we’ve been creating technology solutions that accomplish marketing and compliance goals since 1980 when we jointly developed one of the first MCIF application in the US.  After that, we never looked back.  At least half-dozen times a year we fill a client need with a program interface to solve a thorny customer-facing problem.  In the past few years we have created: online Reg E Opt-In forms that were connected to the CIF, web-delivered Deposit Account Referral programs for customers to login and make account referrals 24/7, migrated paper-based membership data to an online, member-directed database – a neat little trick that saved our client $21K the first year and close to $50K in succeeding years.  What can our technology geeks do for you?  (If you’d like to see a a demo of our technology, please go drop us an email with TECHNOLOGY in the subject line.)

Concierge-level customer service.

We understand that a project has to be done when it’s supposed to be done.  Getting it done, on time and in budget is pretty much all there is to the issue.  We can pretty much take on and deliver solutions 365/24/7.  (There’s a story about a 10’ show booth that somehow went missing on the way to Las Vegas that we could tell you – there’s also a story about a website that was mugged on a Saturday night.)  If that means working on weekends or being in a client’s office on Saturday, well, that’s what we do.  From the beginning of the work scope we commit to a successful completion.  And we stick to the plan.  No matter what.

We don’t aspire to 100% billable hours.

Our client relationships are not all about money.  They are about earning respect and trust.  Sometimes we do ‘value-added’ projects at no charge (see a partial list here).  We like these opportunities to make human connection.  Besides, we always learn something valuable.  The most important result: our clients understand that we don’t look at them and see only dollar signs.

We’ve don’t charge for brainstorming.

We want to  be one of the first people you call when you want to do some spit-balling or brain storming.  So if you’re wrestling with how to get a project off and running — or trying to decide just exactly how to get your bank going in a good direction — call us.  There’s never any charge for you to call, text or email us and get the benefit of what we’ve learned since our inception in 1972.  If we have some research or history with your subject, we’ll provide it to you, no charge.  Next time you want to bounce something off us, give us a call, toll free, 800-521-0236.

We’re not hung up on our past success.

Our company has  been around since 1972.  We’ve seen a lot of things work; we’ve seen a lot of things fail.  In all that time, we’ve learned that the past counts for a little.  It’s what you’re going to be doing in the next five years that defines you.  We’re pretty good at knowing what’s coming and what it means for banks.  We figure we can give a community bank a minimum of two years head start on any given marketing, technological or compliance imperative.  That sound good to you?

We are obsessed with vertical integration.

We have a thriving business that runs along three tracks: marketing, compliance and technology.  We have learned how to weave those three business specialties into practical, affordable solutions for our clients.  We’ll provide some case histories that will give you insight into how our vertical integration makes our clients money — just send us an email with CASE HISTORY in the subject line.  We think a single knowledgeable source can save clients time, money and aggro.  (If you’d like to see a list of projects we’re working on now, please drop us an email with PROJECTS in the subject line.)


Marketing with Social Media

The act of selling via the new or social media outlets is to market via these channels. That’s why it’s called Social Media Marketing.  Do not let the brand personality of social media keep you from perceiving the opportunity of the medium, which is to enhance and extend your company’s reach, and influence.   This is far easier to say than to successfully accomplish.

Here are some ideas that will help you to achieve your own social media marketing success. (more…)

Is your business relevant? Social Media can help you decide.

“Being relevant”  determines everything about a business — what it sells, how it sells, how it prices what it sells — but especially should it impose a discipline on customer-facing communication.  So, how are you doing with your customers?

Here’s how you find out if you’re relevant – or not.

Evaluate your company’s communication.  A majority of companies large and small fall into three categories listed below, each with an example from actual Twitter and Facebook posts: (more…)

The State of the Internet

Ever wonder exactly how many blogs are on the Internet? How many emails are sent every day around the world? JESS3 took all those numbers and animated it into a spiffy video.

JESS3 / The State of The Internet from JESS3 on Vimeo.

Pixels are cheap. Or, how you may be under-utilizing your website.

What does your company’s website do? Inform? Educate? Communicate? Does your website interact with your customers? Or is it just a brochure that you put up so people would quit asking if you had a website?

If you haven’t reviewed your company’s web strategy lately, now is the time. Pixels are cheap and technology is only getting better. Here are some often overlooked areas for website utilization. (more…)


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