The Marketing Metaphorest – TREES

Looking for a better way to describe and define marketing to clients, or for your business? Well then, step into the Marketing Metaphorest w/ Jake Sanders! The POSMarketer, musician, audio illustrator, and content strategist mixes metaphors & marketing science, to demystify this important business development function.

In this episode we talk: TREES. A single acorn contains the mighty oak, depends on a diverse forest ecosystem for distribution, and if the rate at which trees are planted, is slower than the rate at which you cut them down, then trouble starts.

ONE – Like tiny acorns contain all the information required to grow a forest of full blown oaks, a marketing campaign should 1) seek to condense required brand messaging into small, distinct, easy to ingest packages, that are 2) easily replicable, dropped by the thousands, and spread by a variety of category buyers in the audience, 3) with the knowledge that without broadcast awareness, singular behaviors will never take root.  

TWO – Like a tree can become a forest, effective marketing strategy takes a while to grow business into self-sustaining cycles. 

And if the rate at which you plant the long term strategy seeds for new business, outpaces the rate at which you seek short term rewards, (i.e. cutting down trees for fire) progress will be unattainable.

THREE – Like an interdependent collection of diverse trees & shrubs, ensures holistic health and progress for an entire forest ecosystem, marketing strategies must be diverse in tactics/methods/applications/settings, because business development that relies on a single cash crop is waiting for famine. 

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The Marketing Metaphorest – WATER

Looking for a better way to describe and define marketing to clients, or for your business?

Well then, step into the Marketing Metaphorest w/ Jake Sanders! The POSMarketer, musician, audio illustrator, and content strategist mixes metaphors & marketing science, to demystify this important business development function.

Dive into the latest episode of the Marketing Metaphorest – WATER!

In this episode we talk: WATER. Water is everywhere, but it’s quality (drinking water vs salt) and conditions it exists in (ice, clouds, liquid), can vary greatly, without ever changing it’s substance.

How else does marketing relate to water?

Marketing is like WATER in a few different ways


Just like rivers and oceans were the connective tissue for thriving port-towns throughout history, developing business effectively through marketing, depends upon understanding and viewing your audience through the natural pathways that brought them to the marketplace, not just as consumers in a decision vacuum.

Too many marketers think about their product only in context of it’s relationship to their buyer, but never consider the things outside of that relationship, behaviors in the buyer’s busy life and brain, which impact a brands chance of sticking out.

When you understand the tides & behaviors of your marketplace, research the rivers your buyer crosses everyday, you create more effective, resonant marketing.

To learn more about taking a behavioral approach to marketing & advertising, I recommend  “Competing Against Luck” by Clayton Christensen and CO. and “The Advertised Mind” by the brilliant Erik DuPlessis.


The quality of water in the river, leading up to a spring, isn’t equal to the water you’d drink from it – and yet, both types of water, potable and non-potable, are necessary for survival.

In this metaphor, the spring is a marketing source for clear, quality sales, and the river is a pathway that ensures traffic. Business owners need to cultivate marketing activities which secure traffic as well as leads, and should respect the differences in quality.


Like water, marketing effectiveness fills the strategic vessel you pour it into. You could be under a torrent of leads, but if you only have a teacup commitment to marketing strategy, you’ll be sipping progress, when you could be chugging it.


Like water, effective marketing strategy needs to be able to change and adapt, based on environmental conditions. Marketing should be lithe enough, and supported by a strong enough brand, to shift easily through varying mediums, lengths, and tone. 

Like water can become ice, liquid and vapor, while remaining water, marketing must be able to phase shift through mediums and messaging, without sacrificing brand ethos.

From email to billboards, from one-line-copy to 3,000 word white papers, and ranging in tone from boardroom-buzzwords to borderline bawdy, the execution of your marketing strategy needs to contain an element of adaptability to survive, and thrive, as the environment of your marketplace changes.

Interested to learn more about this metaphor, want to pile on your own version, or find ways to apply it all in your business? Hit me up on the POSblog, follow me on social, and until next time – I’ll see you on the internet!

The Marketing Metaphorest – NUTRITION

In this episode we talk: NUTRITION. Like balanced nutrition, a healthy marketing “diet” should consist of a balance of activities and practices that fulfill short-term energy demands, while also increasing brand longevity.

The latest marketing metaphor from POSMarketer, Jake Sanders.

Marketing is Nutrition – Like balanced nutrition, a healthy marketing “diet” should consist of activities and practices that fulfill short-term energy demands while increasing brand longevity.

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Marketing Metaphorest – INTRO & FUNNELS

Looking for a better way to describe and define marketing to clients, or for your business? Well then, step into the Marketing Metaphorest w/ Jake Sanders!

The POSMarketer, musician, audio illustrator, and content strategist, mixes metaphors & marketing science, to demystify this important business development function.

In this opening episode we learn why metaphors, and why now, and then we dive into the first metaphor:


Marketing is a funnel; first goal to broadly reach potential buyers with Awareness, which narrows into Consideration for a smaller group of buyers, which then shrinks into a Decision set of buyers.
In regards to prioritizing budget for marketing activities, turn the funnel upside down to get a sense of how to properly fund marketing.

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How Brands Grow – Byron Sharp

It seems like every book available on marketing today promises a bunch, vows to be different & useful, but then delivers little in the way of truly unique & applicable advice.

Most marketing books are tactical in nature, focusing on segments, specific channels, drilling into smaller and smaller arenas of activity, until the expertise acquired from the book is only applicable under the tightest environmental conditions….. I am now an expert in demand generation from specialized microsite SnapChat retargeting campaigns for 30-34 year old art school graduates concerned about credit liquidity, living in/around Baltimore with cat allergies.

While we are awash in advice on tactics, marketers are SUPER THIRSTY for strategic advice on how to properly employ such activities.

That’s why Byron Sharp’s “How Brands Grow” kicks every other marketing book in the shins.

Let’s jump right in with this graphic, I’ll explain Byron’s Old/New World vision as far as I can, but in the end, you have to read this book to feel it’s healing waters quench your parched marketing soul.

The book starts off like a goddamn birthday party for a creative like me – “Marketing is a creative profession and one of the main jobs is to get noticed!” — That sounds like my entire schooling history and explains why I was in trouble a lot as a kid!

Supported by mountains of evidence from the work of Ehrenberg-Bass and the IPA, Sharp details the benefits of marketing from a “new world” perspective, that is juxtaposed against an “old world,” Kotlerian (Philip Kotler) view of the profession.

The “old world” view of marketing, which many hold up as the current paragon of the profession, emphasizes segmentation, brand loyalty, and persuasion as the hallmarks of good marketing & advertising. No qualms there, right?

Zero in on loyal brand audiences who are viewing your ads in a rational capacity, teach them the messages, convince them of the uniqueness, and show them you are different and create conversations and then they will crave your marketing!

Adding technology to this only makes sense; digital ads and the concomitant surveilling opportunities, social ad stacks, A thru G intention testing capabilities, dashboards aplenty – find the exact people, at the exact location, at the exact moment, serve them the quantum slice of advertising that fits their unique persona, funnel them in, measure it all…now we’re marketing!

Sharp sees things a little differently in the “new world”….

You advertise in a crowded world and very few people pay attention to messaging, indeed, the large portion of a consumer’s purchase decision is actively ignoring a vast majority of labels to find a small set of recognizable and salient brands to make a choice from.

So the good news here – no one truly gives a shit about your UVP, USP, merits and benefits – not because these things aren’t there or meaningful to you, but because consumers just don’t even know your brand exists in the first place!

The goal of advertising is to first get noticed and then build and refresh memory structures through relevant associations, not convince an emotional and distracted audience of the rational/unique merits of a product.

Marketers build brands with advertising by getting noticed, and not just to brand loyalists, but to everyone in the category because, there is no such thing as 100% brand love.

100% loyalty is a dumb thing to quest for in marketing because consumers are brand agnostic, and metrics-wise, focusing on a smaller slice of any market segment, no matter how loyal, caps your potential for actual growth. (This is so painfully eloquent it hurts)

Huge successful brands like Coke & Dove – the majority of their buyers are not Brand Loyalists that hoard these precious brands in their underground bunkers.

No, the goal in big brand ad campaigns is to rope in Ultra-Light buyers, because that is the overwhelming majority of the brand buyers.

Meaning, 50% of all people who buy Coke, in one year, buy it once or twice.

A whopping 87% of all Dove buyers bought the brand only a few times…in five years. Take a look from this chart from “Eat Your Greens” –

That 20+ bump on the far right are the “loyal purchasers,” the Valhalla for most modern marketing strategies. And the huge bars to the left are brand buyers who bought Dove once, and the shaded bar is people who knew the brand, but did not buy it.

Look at the potential for growth here – where could it possibly come from?

Does brand growth mean getting more & more of that small bump on the right, or, does it happen by capturing a few of the category buyers with distinct, branded, salient and broad reaching marketing campaigns?

What else?

  • Pareto’s Law is bullshit, for the most part….
  • Your customers are not unique, they are your competitor’s customers.
  • Segmentation isn’t reflected in buyer behavior
  • Branding lasts – differentiation doesn’t

I could keep going but at some point you’re gonna have to cough up the money and BUY THIS BOOK!

This book is amazing for several reasons, but the most profound to me is this seemingly old school advertising advice somehow feels new.

As marketing interfaces with digital culture, we’ve become so entranced by behaviors, segments, and finding ways to hack into psychological consumer models, that we’ve left the heavy, brand lifting activity behind us in favor of whisper-thin bullshit tech fixes that have zero (or negative) consequences for the companies we work for. And so, the average lifespan for a CMO is dwindling down because from them upwards, no one has a firm grasp on what the marketing department ACTUALLY DOES IN THE FIRST PLACE!

Any other profession would see people up in arms, taking to the streets, demanding that we save our industry and jobs, hitting the books and finding answers – but in marketing & advertising today, the highest-rewarded minds are working on CTRs, crowd-sourcing taglines for personas, making apps that are more addictive than the last; all focused on creating smaller and smaller pools of loyalty in an ever-expanding desert of consumer interest.

ROI: The Musical



A time-traveling, genre-spanning, thought-leading comedy musical podcast experience about marketing, sales, and ROI, that’s sure to enchant anyone in business that’s ever asked, “RO-Why are we doing this?


“If you’re living life by the measurements,
you’ll never do something for the hell of it!”

The Trailer


A musical audio drama, in which, the leadership staff of a fictitious company, after a journey of transformation, discover that investing in marketing the business isn’t about ROI, it’s about RO-Why.  

The question business leaders should ask in regards to marketing & ROI is not “what will we get out of marketing,” but “why are we even doing this?” 

Beyond just getting more leads & business, why choose marketing?

The WHAT of marketing, the tactics & measurements of marketing can be mishandled, misinterpreted, crammed into square holes; you want ROI, I can get you ROI.

The WHY of marketing, the strategy, is about more than a return on investments, it’s about the purpose for being in your brand’s marketplace. RO-Why.

With a marketing strategy strongly focused on WHY, the tactics, expectations, and measurements of marketing are aligned, so the way forward becomes clearly defined.

So when it comes to marketing, it’s RO-Why, before ROI. Or else, you endlessly chase more metrics that prove more things that are disconnected from the value you create and offer in your marketplace.

The Soundtrack

The Credits

Ryan Wallman as The CEO
Scott Monty as Donaldson Brown
C. Vincent Plummer as the Marketing Director
Casey Clark as Head of Sales
Jeremy Most as The CMO
Paul Julius as Paul Julius
Neon Brown as Jeremy Bentham
and Jacob Sanders

Written, Scored, Produced, and Directed by Jacob Sanders

Want a custom musical or podcast experience for your company or business? Get In Touch.

So You Wanna Start a Podcast?

Deciding to start your own podcast is a great idea – or is it?

In the process of launching the LAWsome podcast for Consultwebs with Paul Julius, we learned what it takes – and it takes a lot. 

The suggestions made below are based on our own research and preferences – for each suggestion, there are more expensive options, and indeed there are cheaper/shittier options – We encourage you to do your own research and find solutions that fit with your own preferences.

This outline is also ordered in a specific way – 

  • You must first Presearch; create a powerful purpose for your podcast, ID specific/narrow audience and install business goals – before you record anything. 
  • Then, focus on Content; what will you be saying, how will you say it, how will you pitch it? Get the words right, speak them aloud.  
  • Then, get your image right by dialing in the Creative; logos, show art, episode art cards for social media.
  • Then, get all of your Sites together; figure out where it’s going to live, be distributed, connect the dots – everything short of publishing an episode. 
  • Finally, get all the Tech and equipment you need to create, record, edit, and produce the podcast you’ve envisioned. 

We did NOT do it this way, and learned in a roundabout, hit our head on the doorway, stubbed our toe in the dark kinda way.  

Let this guide serve as the diving board into the pool of podcasting. And just like real swimming, the best way to learn is through experience, so, good luck! 

Here are some considerations, software, tools, templates and tech that you may find helpful as you get your podcast off the ground.  

PRESEARCH – Figure Out ‘Why’ First

Audience? – Narrow audience, narrow focus = loyalty, who needs this podcast?

Content? – Theme? Topics? How deep can you go on the topics, how many episodes can cover this topic?

What kind of format? – Interviews, long-form, story/chapters, product reviews, length, who is Host/Co-Host, advertising potential, will you be live-streaming, will there be video?

Competitors? – Who is doing similar? What are they offering? How can you differentiate? Can you go more narrow with your topic? Focus in on what they haven’t.

VMOSA – The Vision, Mission, Objectives, Strategies and Actions. COMPLETE THIS before doing anything – Learn more → HERE 

Goals – Are you ultimately looking for emails, bookings, sales? Find a way to incorporate the “Ask” naturally.  

CONTENT – Show format, content schedule

Show/Episode Flow & Formatting – Use Google Docs to keep a list of topics, guests, links, and show lengths to make sure you’re staying on theme.

One-Sheet – Create a one-sheet pitch for your podcast, highlight benefits/topics/themes – sell the podcast – this can be sent to potential guests, advertisers, used on social, in show blogs

Content Schedule – Map out the episodes and dates for recording and distribution 

Email Templates – Have prefabricated starting points for your most frequently sent emails – Interview requests, sharing requests, links – be sure the footer includes podcast logo! 

ID3 Settings Template – For your mp3s, you’ll want to make sure the ID3 (metadata) tags are complete, so keeping a good reference of what a complete ID3 tag looks like is a good idea.

Blog Per Episode – Your site needs to be updated with every episode. 

Influencer List – Research people who frequently talk about your show’s themes on social media, get with them/tag them when publishing

SITES – Destinations, Applications to Create/Distribute Podcast

Your Website – A place to send folks, collect info, update with episodes, embed LibSyn code.

Social Platforms – Twitter, FB, Pinterest? Where is your audience – ?

LibSyn – Pay to host content and distribute to major platforms, ensure ID3 tags (metadata that explains the file on the web and connects back to you) are complete.  

iTunes Podcast Connect – Submit your LibSyn RSS feed to iTunes, refresh, some analytics – Only takes a day or so to submit, make sure you are ready to Publish before submitting to iTunes 

Google Docs – A place to create show notes, links for guests, collect art/logos/episode cards, 

Calendly – To schedule interviews

CREATIVE – Podcast brand/logo/show art – Image editor, visual content engine – online, quick, easy to use and provides templates! 

Show Logo – review iTunes podcast art, create similar – 3000 x 3000 px – 

Social Platform Art – Banners, right-sized art cards for distribution

Episode Art Cards – Social posts that feature the episode art, logo, features of the episode, visual banners for iTunes and GooglePlay – 

Follow LibSyn FAQs – Art requirements (size, file type) will be explained in LibSyn to ensure that all your logos, wallpapers and backgrounds will look good. 

TECH – Running a radio station

Microphone – Audio Technica AT2035 Condenser

Stand – On-Stage Stands MS7701B Tripod Microphone Stand – Mic needs to be free-standing, not on desk.

Pop-Filter – Prevent the “pffs” and unnecessary mouth noises

Mic Baffle – Deaden the room sound.

No alt text provided for this image

Closed-ear headphones – Sennheiser HD 280 Pro – closed-ear contains audio bleed from headphones better

Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) – Audio editing platform to edit show, add music, etc – Audacity, Logic, Garageband – YOU NEED TO LEARN HOW TO EDIT WAVEFORMS – how to maintain audio levels with compression and other mastering tools, and how to export MONO mp3s. 

Audio HiJack – A program that allows you to capture audio from either specific applications like Skype, or your entire computer, then export as mp3 and edit in your DAW.

Skype – For interviews or audio access to guests, including options for video, Skype is the way to go. 

Original Music – You’ll want a theme and music that is distinct to your show – HIRE A COMPOSER – or, find royalty-free music and be sure to credit musicians and composers/links to their work. 

Total cost for Tech investments → $500+

So that’s it then…..?

Not quite.

The two main ingredients to a podcast, or any successful content marketing idea, are CONSISTENCY and TONE.

Be consistent or be forgotten.

We all have awesome ideas, passionate ones. But passion doesn’t scale.

When you set out for this endeavor, think romance, not passion. Make sure you have a deep well of topics and ideas you can drink from regularly and for a long while.

Podcasting is a performance art.

Don’t think for one second that a podcast is “just talking.” Your podcast is here to perform, and the hosts better deliver because the competition isn’t the next business in your vertical, it’s the New York Times, or WNYC, or Serial, or any other high-quality audio experience up for grabs in the marketplace of podcasts.

Speaking in public or on record is an art with artistic tools like rhetoric, grammar, colloquial flourishes, inflections, and melody. If you are still thinking of doing a podcast, consider the entertainment quality of your hosts and ensure they are ready to deliver a performance with each and every episode

In Conclusion….

If you have any questions about your podcast, or are interested to learn more, let’s connect here on LinkedIn.

Good luck and happy podcasting!

Business vs Personal – A Handy Myth

“Are you traveling for business or pleasure?”

Two distinct categories, one distinct answer. In the airport, it seems that business and personal are segmented worlds. We’ve heard the following quote often enough to know it’s true.

“It’s not personal, it’s business.”

The line between the realms of business and the realm of the personal is firm and unwavering. There is calculated business behavior, and then there is chaotic human behavior, and never the twain shall meet.

“It’s not work if you love it.”

This is where I get confused.

It seems that if professional decisions need to be made, business factors weigh heavier. But if professional motivation is a goal, the personal and business realms are passionately intertwined?

You’re supposed to put your heart into your work, yeah?

You should love and be proud of what you do for money, right?

This purposeful & paradoxical confusion between “business vs personal” is especially dangerous territory for marketers & advertisers.

How do marketers and their investors properly temper & balance their personal feelings, when arousing personal feelings in an audience to gain business benefits is the goal of advertising?

When the impersonal calculus behind business decisions meets the personal realm of the creative act of marketing or advertising, what are the people caught in the middle supposed to feel? How are they supposed to act and not take things too personal?

Content Custodians

Marketers start off seemingly cordoned from the business realms.

Custodians of Content.

Wandering the halls of your company’s assets, sweeping the files, checking for typos, cleaning up links, adjusting a footer, the pixelation of graphics, the tone/phrasing/shaping/size/hue/saturation, removing all the scuff marks from the floors of your content, wondering how to improve the shine of, and gain proper recognition for, the institution.

And so, when shareholders dog your idea, trash your ad concept, change the copy at the last minute, remain unconcerned with all of your input – how does a marketer not take this shit personally, especially when I’ve been up late at night polishing the trophy case and told to throw my heart into my work? You see how this could fuck with people?

How do you separate your marketing’s performance from your performance?

An idea marketers can use from the world of jazz & creative performance art, is that you don’t lose yourself in the song, you lose yourself in the craft.

When I am playing jazz on a stage, I focus on song form, meter, key centers, & then the existing interplay between the musicians. Where are we? What’s going on? How can I fit in? What can I accentuate? What’s required right now?

We play the song all the way through, together as a band – we all individually add our parts and try to bring relevant and appropriate amounts of funkiness – and then we move on to the next song.

I don’t judge myself by the song, I judge myself by the unique interplay onstage during the song and the successful contributions I made therein.

If ice-cold execution of the band writ large, or your own perfect personal performance, or other people’s adoring reactions are the main focus, your focus is off and you’ve stopped doing your best work.

Your work is the delivery of the craft, not the product.

As marketers I believe we personally develop through the creative endeavors we embark on behalf of paying clients, not because of them.

The goal is to continually build your personal skill set regardless of the professional outcome. Because people will boo, they will applaud, they will cry, they will love you, they will hate you, you’ll sell millions, you may lose that much – and you have to be able to professionally handle all these various reactions, without taking things personal.

So how does this connect with the “business vs personal” myth?

“Business vs Personal” needs Disruption

The lie that there’s a difference between business and personal, when only people do business with one another, is a mental barrier worth overcoming.

Business is interpersonal, so the idea that there’s some separate world of behavior and norms actually creates the euphemisms & distrust of the business world, concurrently making meaningful relationships & personal contributions nearly impossible within it’s ecosystems.

The marketer considering the “business vs personal” dynamic, tasked with performing on the public stage on behalf of the brand, is therefore hindered on several fronts. Do they bring their personality to the marketing? Do they do what’s required, or what they think is right? Do they deliver something they are 100% proud of, or do they deliver whatever % required to get the check cashed?

There may be no clear answer, but I think if we dropped the pretense that there is a difference between the way we’re supposed to feel/act/behave in business and personal relationships, and embraced a few truths from the world of jazz & creative performance, we’d better understand dynamics that transcend economic logic and incorporate cultural and anthropological contexts, providing a much more useful and holistic perspective on business & marketing.

Then again, all this jazz is just my opinion….don’t take it personally.

How MacGyver Ruined Marketing or The Cheap Genius Theory

“Time and budget are tight for this project. You’re creative, you’ll think of something. What we’re looking for Jake, is ‘cheap genius.'”My Life

As a creative person, my ability to think fast and make connections has helped advance my career, propelled me from gig to gig. Along the way I’ve been haunted by the spectre of MacGyver, the resource-strapped (read; alluringly cheap) genius of 90s American TV, because I think he personifies a few things wrong with marketing and business.


Think about this…

  1. Of the first companies that appeared on the Fortune 500 in 1955, only 53 held a place on the list in 2018 (-89.3% success rate)
  2. A business culture obsessed with risk and cost management, rife with rampant short-termism and shortening CMO lifecycles
  3. The crumbling foundations of ‘expertise’ and break-up of industrial knowledge silos
  4. The ‘gig’ economy filled with entrepreneurial DIY-life-coaches-gurus-hackers
  5. The belief that the next big platform or IPO or genius idea will come like it always does, from a random, scrappy teenager’s garage;
  6. and MacGyver….

Mix it all together and it’s plain to see, the belief that MacGyver-like-business-saving genius is cheap, widely available, and flourishes during to-the-wire timelines, is a bad brew for marketing and business to be sipping on.

I’ll first explain who MacGyver is, unpack what I’m calling The Cheap Genius Theory, and then we’ll explore ways to define and disrupt this damaging trend.

Who is MacGyver?

A bent paper clip can defuse a ballistic missile. A potato and some cigarettes are all you need to thwart a high-tech prison’s security system. Chewing gum alone can defeat an entire militia.

These aren’t just thought-exercises, these seemingly implausible scenarios all played out during the 80-90’s TV action/drama MacGyver.

There are MacGyver fansites dedicated to celebrating the genius of MacGyver, featuring full breakdowns of all the problems he’s applied his time-strapped, cost-effective, MacGyver-ness to, in all seven seasons on CBS from 85′ – 92′.

While MacGyver seems to portray creativity very favorably, it’s my belief that MacGyver perfectly personifies the perceptual problems around what creativity and “cheap genius” is, where it comes from, what resources it needs, what it’s worth, and how creative ideas can be best applied in business and life.

The Cheap Genius Theory (CGT) explains why business leaders approaches problem solving, creativity, advertising, and marketing the way they do – which is hoping MacGyver shows up, or worse, thinking they’ll pull a MacGyver and cut the right wire once the countdown on the bomb begins.

There are five concepts that add up to The Cheap Genius Theory….


Although a premium option exists for almost every good or service, (the best house/car/President, the best advice, the best hummus!) humans will almost always choose the least-crappy, less-likely-to-fail option. Not the worst, but the least worst.

It’s called ‘satisficing’ and it’s an irrefutable part of human behavior, it’s based on strong empirical data, and it’s the best explanation around for why people make decisions that don’t make sense in the long run.

Sure we could defuse the bomb a traditional way, but let’s try this paperclip first.


With so many brainstorms and Post-It Notes and examples of startups with humble-and-hooded-sweatshirted beginnings, genius ideas spawned from simple creative thinking are seemingly everywhere.

Many are the professional articles outlining how managers just need to unleash their team’s creativity to solve their issues.

That creativity is widely available changes the way creativity is incentivized or incorporated into strategic thinking.

If we solved the last emergent problem cheaply, in a tight timeline, with a potato, then why budget in experts, time, or resources this bomb around?

If MacGyver can’t disarm the bomb in time, after this next brainstorm, I bet Glen from Accounting might be able to pull it off.


The myth that creativity is bolt out of the blue stuff and must always arise spontaneously is pernicious outside of the creative community.

There’s a belief out there, no thanks to MacGyver and college term paper deadlines, that creativity is best catalyzed by time and resource constraints, and it’s usually only when your cognition is pushed to the wire do the explosively successful results take place.


The true skill to develop in creativity is not time-constrained improv, but strengthening the mental muscles that connect threads between disparate channels of thought.

The results of creativity may be experienced and sharpened most thrillingly at the drop of a hat, but the skill that connects creative conclusions takes a long time to strengthen for ideation at a rapid pace to take place.

So in training for creativity it isn’t about developing quicker reaction times, but rather increasing mental flexibility in making farflung connections between wide swaths of human experience, accrued knowledge, cultural/social consciousness, and expressing it all through the chosen medium.

Just because someone HAS defused a bomb with a shoe in under 30 seconds, doesn’t mean that’s the most effective way to train for defusing a bomb.


Creativity is an observation made in the minds of those that connect a creative action to genius, not in the action itself.

Creativity is judged not by the act, but by the audience, the norms it upsets, the expectations it disrupts – cheap genius is only good when someone is there to see it as genius, otherwise it’s just cheap.

Or worse.

CGT enthusiasts wrongly think the purpose of creativity is to solely manifest actionable ideas, missing the point that the true measure of a creative idea is the interpretation and accepting ingestion of it by the target audience, not just in the idea itself.


Creativity is not a groundbreaking shattering of molds, but the art of combining recognizable molds in unexpected ways.

Something that had never been seen or experienced before would not strike a familiar chord in our souls, and so, it would just seem chaotic or out-there. You’ve heard Coltrane’s SunShip, you know what I’m talking about. If you’re not down, it’s a tough hang.

The Cheap Genius Theory highlights the skillful usage of a paper clip to defuse a missile, overshadowing the true skill/ability in need of nurturing praise in creativity, which is a deep understanding of pre-existing concepts, in this case metallurgy and electricity, and how to quickly combine and apply them in novel ways/situations.

Ingenuity and spontaneous invention is only possible on the shoulders, brains, backs, thoughts, legends, laws, and expectation of the rules that have come before.

You can only cleverly manipulate the law of gravity once you understand the underlying concepts and expectations, concepts that Newton teased around hundreds of years before your trick of cheap ingenuity came to be.

You can defuse the bomb with gum and its wrapper because you know about microchips, friction, the chemical properties of saliva, and the electrical conductivity of metallic substances. Without Galvani, Lavoisier, Curie, Jack Kilby, Wrigley, the ancient Aztecs that found chicle – all of that cheap genius wouldn’t be accessible.

Why this is bad, and what to do about it

Since creative thought is widely available, potentially cheap, and the product of chaotic spontaneity, businesses don’t plan, budget, or schedule for it, let alone reserve creativity a seat at the strategic table.

That’s bad.

Along with cheapening the importance of creativity and devaluing it’s place in business development plans, The Cheap Genius Theory’s most destructive influence is on strategy.

As disruption threatens every established business model, stakeholders across the world run their businesses knowing that companies don’t last as long as they used to.

But rather than strategically approaching changes to their business model, or solving business problems with creativity in the front end, CEOs are relying on MacGyver’s to save the business as is, they’re cutting costs where they can, and focusing their marketing campaigns on higher conversions with shorter observational windows.

Whether it’s Byron Sharp, Binet & Field, Mark Ritson, Rory Sutherland, or any of the other great minds in marketing today, the smartest people in the room agree, there is a rampant disease of short-termism with drastic side-effects on strategic, creative, long-term thinking in businesses today.

I think there needs to be a perceptual shift in the way we view creativity, and it starts by admitting the truth of The Cheap Genius Theory, and realizing our business development strategies are not strategies at all, but rather a string of implausible MacGyver-like fixes.

We have to admit CGT throws off our sense of how creative thought is best curated, generated, and applied to researching business problems. And we have to change the way we apply creative thinking to the research and diagnosis of solutions that aim to fix the business problems our companies face over time in a competitive marketplace.

Oh, hi marketing.

And then, once we understand creativity, I think we need to dial it up!

Creativity is far-and-away always voted as the most important factor in effective marketing and advertising. But because of The Cheap Genius Theory, creativity is paradoxically the first thing everyone relies on to solve a marketing issue, but the last thing anyone plans on paying for.

Rather than relying on more MacGyvers to show up, I’d like to see creativity given it’s proper respect, timeframe, and proving grounds to demonstrate it’s ability to guide business development strategy. Businesses should curate a place of deep thought and research, develop the atmosphere of a mental gym that strengthens the connective and creative muscles in your team to saturate themselves in your most pressing problems to come up with slow-cooked, ingeniously-marinated marketing solutions that fall off the bone. (…who’s hungry?)

Without exercising both the fast and slow twitch muscles of creativity, research and execution, the impact of continual cheap genius fixes, no matter how ingenious, will yield ever-diminishing returns.

No one is arguing that resourceful creativity isn’t important to business development, but rather than utilizing creativity to strategically adapt our business models and marketing plans, we’re praising/seeking/utilizing versions of ‘genius’ that imprison us, and keep us mucking about with the same type of short-term fixes and cost-effective disarming methods, for a bomb that’s killed 89% of the last MacGyver-dependent businesses.

Here’s to all my cheap geniuses and business owners the world over;

The Long & Short of It – Binet & Field

In marketing and advertising the main question for business owners is always – will any of this stuff lead to sales or grow the brand?

It’s a fantastically mysterious question that still stalks the woodlands of business development today.

Many report that advertising is working really well, while at the same time, even more report that they’ve wasted thousands of dollars on ad campaigns that never moved the needle.

Meanwhile, the world’s biggest brands still run too-huge campaigns, and run the same ad campaigns and brand assets for decades, and invest in new mediums with seeming success; why would they continue to advertise and invest in marketing, if it doesn’t work?

And so we arrive at our departure point for this book report, Les Binet & Peter Field’s

“The Long and Short Of It; Building Short & Long-Term Marketing Strategies” 

Published in 2013 by the IPA, The Long and Short Of It takes research and analysis of 996 marketing case studies from over 700 brands in 83 different categories, and looks at actual business outcomes based on short-term and long-term performance metrics, all pointing to one conclusion – brands that balance and harmonize short term sales activation with long term brand growth are better positioned for marketplace dominance. 

The report is cut into three sections that demonstrate how balancing the long and short term in three key areas; Strategy, Channels, and Metrics, is essential to creating lasting brands and maximizing profits. I’ll provide a brief overview and thoughts on these sections, but really – you need to go pick this report up.

Balancing the Strategy

The most striking and simple conclusion that best encapsulates the whole vibe of this report is this short sentence – “Short-term metrics will not create long term brands.”

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“The way in which long-term effects sales is different than short. Although long-term brand branding produces some short-term sales activation, short-term sales will never produce long-term success. Long-term growth is not a compounding collection of small, short-term effects.”

Sales increasing is obviously the main lifesource metric for marketing departments. But as you can see in the graph above, without a strong Brand Building aspect to your marketing strategy, overtime, Sales Activation campaigns will have a limited impact on Sales Uplift.

Binet & Field have also discovered that other measurements (Profit, Market Share, Penetration, Loyalty, Price Sensitivity) can be deeply influenced and impacted by strong Brand Building campaigns that are paired with a Sales Activation component.  

Based on their data, Binet & Field believe that a marketing strategy that mixes 60% Brand & 40% Sales is a good place to start from.

This is not an either-or scenario, and this ‘balance’ is not a hard and fast rule.

Depending on competition and other factors, the blend may have to be aggressive on sales to quench overhead demands, but then again the brands that are favoring short over long have to realize at some point, that ain’t gonna get you to where you need to go.

Direct Response or Sales Activation advertising, no matter how great, will not build brand salience in the minds of consumers. 

So what type of marketing activity qualifies as short-term Sales Activation or long-term Brand Building?

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The main point of this section is to outline the differences between short and long, and how the true path forward is creating more marketing strategies and campaigns that consider a healthy balance between Sales Activation and Brand Building. 

Balancing the Channels

Now that we appreciate the necessity of a marketing strategy that balances Sales and Brand; what do we do with all this?

The authors have given us a quick guide on choosing distribution channels for the messaging, based on the objective.

Brand Channels – TV, Press, Online Display, Outdoor, Radio, Cinema

Activation Channels – Online, Search, Classifieds, Direct Marketing

Once again, these are not prescriptive, just suggestions from people who have been providing the best research and analytical thought in advertising since 1917.

Formed from a well-balanced marketing strategy, the most successful advertising campaigns in the study mix the distinct advantages of each of Brand and Activation channels to reach their audience for the greatest impact.

The example provided in the study of a McDonald’s ad campaign in the UK is a great example of blending the short term and long term metrics and tactics;

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This was a massively successful campaign because it blends Sales Activation and Brand Growth.

McDonald’s is focused on Sales by enticing customers to visit the store with a giveaway, (not a price reduction which is harmful) and to try new recipes for sandwiches.

And on the Brand Growth front, McDonald’s chose to focus the media buys on highlighting its ethical sourcing of it’s ingredients, and the dependability of its classic menu options.

This campaign works because it’s focused on broader and bigger effects, and thusly, aimed at a larger addressable audience. You’re not just speaking to loyalists in advertising, you’re trying to get everyone in the category to notice you.

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Indeed, this is a massively important finding from this report; sales activation activities like advertising campaigns SHOULD NOT be targeted solely to existing customers. To grow your brand and find new customers, you have to target all buyers in the category with your messaging.

So the real genius is creating campaigns that speak to both existing customers and long-term prospects that may not be familiar with your brand.  

The effectiveness of broad-reaching campaigns aimed at both new & existing customers is dramatically greater than those targeting either type of customer alone.

Balancing the Metrics

So the win-win situation according to this report are strategies that balance long and short term, but how does one measure long term performance metrics?

Binet & Field do not disappoint in this department. Along with Share Of Voice (market share plus industry benchmarks) and other insightful measurements like Price Elasticity (the ability to raise prices without losing customers) there are several ways to measure marketing performance other than just straight Sales and Profit.

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And even more, there are the ways these metrics can play out over time, and how effective they can be in growing a brand. This scorecard for short term and long term effectiveness from the report has a collection of various data points that can guide strategy and planning and business development initiatives.

In Conclusion

Get the report. Dig into marketing strategies and ad campaigns that build brands AND activate sales, and know that this isn’t a one-size-fits-all world. Marketers need to build interesting brands with creative and awesome ads based on an awesomer understanding of the business problems we need to solve.

As marketers focus on making money, there should be a momentary pause to realize that we can and do make so much more than money.

So let’s make marketing strategies that kick ass, get noticed, and achieve business goals and build legacy brands. If not now, when?