February 14th, 2018

What can the Donner Party teach you about Marketing? Well, chew on this…

In 1846, a group of pioneers led by George Donner set out for California from Independence, Missouri.  Looking to reach the golden state more quickly, Donner chose an unproven shortcut, stranding the travelers in the Sierra Nevada mountains in the middle of winter and resulting in the death of nearly half the party.  Many survivors turned to cannibalism.

The beginning of a new journey is exciting, but we must guard against making the big — what Mortar calls — Strategic Decisions too quickly.  The best path often needs to include asking what if? What might happen if we actually succeed? Or fail? What happens next?

Avoid unwanted A-ha moments by gathering your team to tease out the possibilities before you hit the road – and make sure to pack some hot sauce just in case. Need better directions? Drop us an email: heythere@mortaragency.com

February 6th, 2018

Will your marketing be Titanic in 2018?

Marketed as unsinkable, the RMS Titanic set sail for New York from Southampton, England on April 10, 1912.  To differentiate itself from the competition, Titanic’s owner, White Star Lines chose increased size and opulence over basic safety measures—a decision with tragic consequences.  Four days later, the famed Titanic succumbed to the icy depths of the North Atlantic, taking 1500 souls with it.

Every Strategic Marketing Decision (the first tenet in Mortar’s approach) holds massive potential, and risk, and leads to a different A-ha Moment (tenet #2).  The mistake is not exploring these steps BEFORE you go to market.  Had White Star thought differently about the decisions it made on the drafting table, it might never have become synonymous with arrogance and poor planning. 

The best way to avoid a similar wreck is to engage with Mortar and shore-up that strategy. Check out some of our most successful strategies–and the matching A-ha–right here.

January 31st, 2018

What you can learn about Marketing from Napoleon

Not content with ruling much of Europe, Napoléon Bonaparte is famous for launching an invasion of Russia in the summer of 1812, only to get bogged down and horribly defeated by the cruel Russian winter.

Mortar’s approach is built on two pillars: the Strategic Decision (a choice to be different), and the A-ha Moment (the desired reaction to that choice). Using Napoléon Bonaparte as an example, had our diminutive hero fully considered what might happen if his Grande Armée was forced to weather the harsh reality that is a Russian winter, he may have altered his approach—saving himself from a surprisingly unexpected A-ha Moment.

Will 2018 leave you hunting for your mittens while facing the guns of your rivals on the freezing steppe? Or will you bask in the warmth of victory by flanking their position?  Don’t let your rivals freeze you out in this year, instead engage with Mortar and heat-up that strategy. Check out some of our most successful strategies–and the matching A-ha–right here.

January 10th, 2018

2017 was the year of Aha Moments at Mortar: Five things we learned

We started 2017 by promising we would deliver on a new idea: that marketing thrives when it is focused on creating emotional impact. And that point of focus crystallizes in our intended prospects’ reaction. Aha Moments would be our new area of specialty. (More on that decision here).

To maximize focus we have to make a decision to be different

These two elements: the decision to be different (the Strategic Marketing Decision) combined with the resulting, emotional reaction, the Aha Moment, are the twin pillars of Mortar’s approach to Marketing. They come together best in this definition:

An Aha Moment is the desired reaction to a decision to be different.

Let’s break that down:A-ha's are an expression of insight or discovery

We say “Aha!” when we encounter something new, surprising, or as Collin’s Dictionary says, “an instant at which the solution to a problem becomes clear.” Webster’s puts it this way, “a moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension … The aha moment you experience when you’ve been trying to remember the name of a song and three hours later it hits you.” When we say “Aha Moment” we are seeking a positive reaction to our message.

A-ha moments are a reaction to a decision to be different.

Decision-making can be tough, especially among marketers. But without clearly identifying some unique area of differentiation marketers fail to lay claim to something people can prefer, an idea customers can choose, remember or tell their friends about. The quickest way to leverage any position is to claim novelty—and put everything you can behind communicating the benefits of choosing an option that is quite unlike everything else. 

a-a moments can be tested (and yes, that is Paula).

Deciding to be different is a testable proposition. So too is the Aha. It is not too much to ask that prospects use the words we expect and indicate the Aha we promise is motivating and clear. (Testing need not break the bank or slow the process unduly. On several occasions in 2017 we found quick, 45-minute one-on-one phone calls with a small group of prospects (four to six) to be a cost effective and relatively painless method of gauging impact).

a-ha moments are many, but they should all liberate and inspire

Crafting any communication requires a solid grasp of the product or service, the target, the opportunity and a myriad of other factors. By selecting an Aha Moment we seek to inspire our teams to be more creative—and explore the possibilities of delivering a focused message. Boring or mundane Aha’s don’t cut it. Neither do Aha’s that rely too heavily on logic or sound like a line from a press release. Strong Aha’s sound authentic and spark response. In many ways the Aha Moment is similar to the the notion of a Big Idea or Unique Selling Point, but with two major differences: 1. Aha Moments often travel in groups—there can be many. One person’s moment of clarity can be another’s ho-hum moment. 2. Aha’s can only be expressed in words the target might actually say. People only say, “Wow, because my network infrastructure is now fluid and adaptable, I can drive home strategic value and orient my stack to open protocols” in our minds. What they actually say is more along the lines of: “F**k me, flexibility like this rocks.” The Aha discipline reminds us to focus on genuine expressions of discovery. (BTW, we have written elsewhere on how a juicy swear word can enhance the impact of a well-chosen Aha.)

aha moments are personal and heartfelt

At the core of our approach is a questioning of Big Idea thinking and the requirement that what we are selling is merely a new way to think about an issue. Aha Moments are experienced by prospects encountering products or services for the first time, or looking at an existing product in a new way. Aha is what prospects say when confronted with our message. By attempting to shape the intended reaction, we leapfrog the necessity of providing logical reasons to believe to attack the amygdala—the part of the brain devoted to emotion and arousal—head on. Because if we don’t, our marketing will fall short of its intended purpose: to move people along the funnel to buy, recommend or just like. 

In any creative solution, smart, reasoned decision-making and the promise of discovering something new go hand-in-hand. To divorce one from the other is to miss an opportunity to deliver marketing that makes a lasting impact.

December 2nd, 2017

Mortar gets (this) close to GOT

Look what Ogilvy did with the work we did on Cisco’s new network launch: which they christened as The Network. Intuitive.