The Campy Inspiration Movement is Crap

By David Berry: The business world and the personal world intersect more often these days than in generations past, largely due to the advent of social media. The tools are right there to use, usually on our phones. Fleeting thought about politics? Tweet it. Nice sunset on your walk home? Snapchat it.

Inspirational quote about success, proving your "haters" wrong, or living a luxurious lifestyle or whatever? Facebook it. Instagram it. LinkedIn it.

It's easy to see why these types of posts have taken off in popularity. The social media world is rife with realities that have been filtered, polished and reduced into images or sayings that project an image that isn't real. But it doesn't matter. Because it has been deemed desirable. 

Hundreds of thousands of people, or millions in some instances, post and share these campy, half-empty inspirational quotes over a celebrity's face or the backdrop of a luxury home or car.

Sure, you could glean some insight from a handful of them. Or, you could skip them all, read this short list, and move on with your life.

  1. Real successful people don't post about being successful. Gary Vaynerchuk is the only person I know of who does this stuff because he's passionate about it. He could give a damn if you like him or are "inspired" by him.

  2. Success is almost always about doing something well, efficiently, over and over again. Sure, innovation plays a major part for the mega-successful (Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, etc.). But those making 7-figures and up in their day jobs have managed to do something probably quite simple, but quite well. (Spoiler Alert: They're usually their own bosses too).

  3. The truly successful don't care about haters, who wasted their time, or what other people think. Those who do well for themselves know that the opinions of others are useless at best, a distraction at worst. Successful people don't care about you - they care about being successful.

Now get out there and be successful.



Advertising 2022: 5 Predictions for the Next 5 Years

By David Berry: The advertising industry is in the midst of perhaps its greatest squall of major changes since, well, ever. Digital media ad revenue has finally overtaken TV in the global ad spending fight, something that seemed unprecedented when that type of spend was first tracked back in 2004. Snapchat, social media's "next big thing" debuted to a first-day IPO spike of 44% in March, only to tank - it now trades at just $15.21 per share. And the Agency of Record model is dead or dying, depending on whom you ask.

That's today. So, what will the next five years bring? No one can say for sure, but hey, isn't that half the fun of playing this game? Here's my take:


1. Facebook will surpass Google in advertising revenue. The rumors of Facebook's demise, or lack of connection with younger audiences, has been grossly exaggerated. Ad revenue for the platform grew by 41 percent when comparing Q2 2016 to Q2 2017, and if that's not enough, Facebook owns Snapchat-killer, Instagram, as well as WhatsApp. Here's the thing - Google remains primarily a contextual tool, though admittedly, the ultimate 'pull' method in advertising (whether through search or display or some other method). But that's never been the source advertising's magic. Where Google is a master of one trade, Facebook and its properties are a master of several. And they're still just scratching the surface.

2. The agency of record model won't die-off. Don't get me wrong, the all-you-can-eat deals of advertising contracts that carried into the first decade of the 2000s are changing. Project-based work is on an uptick and it has given rise to hard-hitting small shops, like Eleven in San Francisco. But the un-clustering of AOR work will turn out to be a warning shot more than anything; a lesson to not take big client budgets for granted, and instead prove out your value and stop working just hard enough to furnish your agency game room. If the big shops can do that, AOR deals won't be going away; they'll be coming back.

3. Agencies will get back to basics. Can we be honest? As ad tech has gotten better. creative has gotten worse. And weirder (see below). Not only that, but the best creative work has essentially become agency masturbation for award seasons, and less about fundamental brand building. Talking to you, 84 Lumber. As agencies feel the pinch from tightening budgets and outside threats, they'll have no choice but to get back to basics - or be shown the door.

4. Employees will finally enjoy work/life balance. Okay, maybe this one is a little too ambitious. But here's the thing - young talent is hard to retain, and more times than not, agencies just don't get it. Execs and HR departments make blanket assumptions about millennials, pack their offices with bean bag chairs and 80s arcade games, and get ditched anyway. If the average age of your workforce is 25, that's not a sign of youth and innovation - it's an indictment of your inability to grow and keep talent. For starters, maybe they'll finally let more employees work from home. Or anywhere, for that matter. The agencies that really listen might just change the game for the rest. But we'll see...

5. Ad tech will get worse before it gets better. Programmatic buying was supposed to change advertising; make it faster, smarter and automated. Well, it's only raised questions, and with it, questions about ad tech in general. YouTube faced boycotts for its inability to guarantee appropriate delivery, and P&G famously ditched $140MM in digital spend, in part, because its partners couldn't verify that actual people were seeing their ads, and not bots. They increased sales anyway. The pressure is on - and ad tech companies are going to have to work just as hard to validate their efforts as they will to sell them.

Got any predictions of your own? Leave them in the comments!

5 Tips for Thriving in the 'Summer Slow Down'

By David Berry: If you're in business for yourself -- particularly in the 'establishment' phases -- you're well attuned to the fact that there is such a thing as a seasonal slow down. Invariably, for many businesses, that season ends up being summer.

The reasons aren't always apparent, but circumstantially, it's easy to find some causes. Employees take multiple, small summer vacations with their families (hey, the kids are out of school), and likewise, so do your clients. Then, there's the simple element of momentum. At the start of a New Year, the holidays are winding down for everyone, so there seems to be a huge rush -- and pressure -- to aim for hyper-productivity. Summer lacks that momentum, as it's sandwiched square in the middle of the year.

Whatever the causes, the summer slow is real for many industries. So, what's a business owner to do in the midst of such a lull? 

1. Keep a Sense of Urgency: It's easy to ride the waves when things are good; leads are answering your calls and pushing projects forward in a timely manner. Prospects are showing up in abundance -- life is good! Except, when it's not, and you find yourself without the practiced habit of maintaining diligence in your day-to-day to make sure the lights stay on. It's a lot harder to develop new, good habits than it is to maintain good habits. So, never let up.

2. Eat Lunch with Someone Else 3X Per Week: In a world where most of our communication happens with our hands (texting, emailing, social media), it's easy to forget how critical it is to actually see people in real life. Go figure. I don't know about you, but it seems like more times than not, in-person meetings are not only better for relationships, but they actually lead to more productivity/opportunities between both parties. Time to leave your desk.

3. Reach Out to Cold Leads: I'm not sure what your business looks like, but for every client I have, there are two or three that never got off the ground for one reason or another. So, reach back out to them. On the phone or in person. They may not answer your emails for the simple fact that whatever they have to say in response is too complicated to articulate, so they go cold. Push them into action and see if you can close.

4. Try to Grow Warm Leads: Want to know the best individuals to grow your business with? Existing clients. It might seem counterintuitive -- since they're already your clients -- but it might be safe to assume that if they're with you, they're happy. Who better to try growing or expanding your business with than the ones who already know your value?

5. Expand or Contract Your Services: If things have indeed slowed for you, spend some free time taking an honest look in the mirror. Is there a service that you offer that no one uses/buys? Consider modifying it or eliminating it. Similarly, do you have a service that users love? Consider expanding it.

So tell me -- is the summer slow down real? How do you work through it? Leave your comments.


5 Things I've Learned as DB + Partners Celebrates its 1st Birthday

By David Berry: A year ago, I started DB + Partners with the following:

  • No savings/reserves to float the business while things got off the ground
  • No real expertise running a business
  • No clients
  • An idea for a business model that was different (and hopefully different enough to stick out)

A year later, DB + Partners is humming along. The business has 11 clients, 10 of whom are in the B2C space and seven of whom have a retail component to their business.

In terms of work, the disciplines now fall in to two distinct categories. One is paid social media management with a focus on lead generation or sales conversions, the other is copywriting. (And the 'Partners' in our business name means we have experts who extend our expertise into other categories).

I'm fortunate to say that 'business is good.' DB + Partners won't be confused with a major ad agency, but then, I never intended for that. In fact, I take a direct shot at them on my website. With that said, a year in business has taught me a number of things about business. Here are five of those things.

Fun Fact! This was the first version of the approved logo design for the business; it's a color scheme I haven't used publicly until now. Like it?

Fun Fact! This was the first version of the approved logo design for the business; it's a color scheme I haven't used publicly until now. Like it?

Every day has a 'wtf am I doing?' moment. In a corporate environment, there's always a second set of eyes. Plus, numerous people smarter and more seasoned than you. So when a decision gets made, you have the comfort of knowing it was vetted along the way. Plus, there are other people managing payroll, operations, web management, invoicing and so on. When you're on your own, not so much. And, there are things you were never trained for. The sooner you get comfortable with the discomfort, the sooner you can find a way around it - or through it.

The easier it is to explain, the easier it is to get buy-in from a prospect or client...

There are several advantages to being 'small time.' You work on what you want. You're faster, more agile. You don't have to go through the bullshit of hierarchy, or hold back on speaking your mind for fear of disrupting the apple cart. It's you and your rag tag crew against the world. In a world where getting shit done is the ultimate trump card, smaller is better. 

You get to say what you're really thinking - and that's what your clients want. I used two curse words in the last paragraph and I feel just fine about it. Also, when I have an idea, I speak it. If I have a criticism, I speak that too. It's my name on the line and no one else's. Scary? Sure. Risky? You bet. But time and again, here's what I've learned - clients love it. And they've just about had it with the businesses/partners that care more about looking good than being good. 

Clients have just about had it with this game that cares more about looking good than being good. 

But, there's the weight of a major inferiority complex. Spoiler alert - there are a lot of things you don't know how to do. For example, I'm not a videographer. It's a skill I wish I had - and one I know is valuable - and it's also a prime example of why I created DB + Partners the way I did; to leverage the skills and expertise of others without claiming it as my own. I know smart, talented people. So rather than try to offer a service I'm not great at, I'd rather be upfront about it and connect you to the guys/gals I know can hit it out of the park where I can't. You don't have to know everything. But you do have to be smart, resourceful and helpful. There's value in those things, and your clients will see it - even when you're not the one doing the work.

Hard work isn't measured in time. I'd ask any ad agency (or company) why they're so damn obsessed with how many hours their people work while sitting in front of a desk inside an office. That's a working model that hasn't been 'innovative' for more than 100 years. A good business cares about results. If I'm done with my work day at 2pm and I kicked ass for my clients, guess what? I'm done for the day. If I have to work until 2am to kick ass for my clients, then guess what? That's what I'm going to do. From wherever I damn well please.

There are plenty more lessons, but I figured that's enough for today. What have you learned? And do you agree with my insights?