SOCIAL MEET YA [sic] (from the archives of the old AdTex Interactive blog)

 Facebook is not the real world.

Some may disagree with that assertion and many are so addicted to the site, they are in denial about the possibility of it being true. Personally, I am determined, even in the “Social Media” age, to lead a full social and business life that isn’t dependent on my Internet connection.

I have uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces and nephews I haven’t seen in at least a year. Most of us live in the same metropolitan area, so I won’t be passing up opportunities to see them to chat with a so-called “Facebook Family”.

As I near a half-decade of social existence, my circle of actual friends has been pared down to a faithful few. The associate and acquaintance count has significantly diminished also. Opportunities to visit with them are too rare to spend an inordinate amount of time interacting with “Facebook Friends”.

I don’t have a real farm, but do live on a little acreage, I have never “farmed” on Facebook, but don’t think I would find it nearly as rewarding as getting outdoors and doing some real gardening. I’ve always been fascinated by tales of organized crime. But my idea of fun tilts more toward heading out to the garage and working on a gangster-looking early 40s street rod, than battling Mafioso on my computer. I’m not knocking anyone’s pastimes…heck many find mine downright boring…I’m just extolling the virtues of getting away from that computer screen for some fresh air.

I’m blessed to lead a relatively quiet life with plenty of spiritual fullness, fun, true friendships and a magnificent woman with which to share it all. But even before Social Media and owning a “smart phone”, I had no desire to write my beliefs, passing thoughts, hopes, disappointments, etc. on a public “wall”. I studied “Radio/TV” in college, nearly 30 years ago.

My first career jobs were at TV stations. But I really never thought of “broadcasting” my life to strangers, associates and acquaintances. But maybe all that is generational. My generation’s impressionable years were before all these so-called “reality shows”. Please see my thoughts on the “People Are Sheep” post. Many of my 500+ Facebook connections are friends, associates and acquaintances. I try to limit connections to only those folks I truly know. I figure about two thirds of my Facebook connections would recognize my voice (which isn’t particularly distinctive) if I called them on the phone and didn’t immediately identify myself. They include childhood pals, high school and college classmates, former co-workers and others. I have been in communications/advertising/marketing over half my life.

I have seen a few trends, innovations and evolutions in the field. Maybe that’s why I’m not all atwitter (pun intended) about Social Media. Though no expert, I do indeed grasp the concept, scope and impact of the Social Media phenomenon. We have Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and LinkedIn accounts, and of course, this blog. I realize that to be successful in most any kind of business, one must have a certain Social Media presence. I see the growing number of business “Like” pages. I wish we had more “Likers” on our FB page. But, I am of the mind that you still can’t beat old-fashioned, face-to-face communications (with the old standby phone calls running a close second).

Aren’t the aforementioned SM tools just very convenient mediums for reaching others worldwide? To me, when the rubber meets the road, it’s still about effective communication. Poor communication is just as ineffective digitally as via any other medium…maybe even more so. Who wouldn’t be impressed by a long-distance communications method for almost instantaneously sending and receiving short messages? The message-length limitations even spawned a creative code system for abbreviated words and phrases. Twitter? No, Samuel Morse’s Electric Telegraph and Morse Code language from the 1840s. Okay techheads, I understand the advancements in wireless technology and handheld devices. But, we’re talking basic communications, here.

For best conveying a message, telegraph, telephone, two-way radio, email, smart phones and even video teleconferencing will never replace the emotion, voice inflection, eye movement and even the sincerity of a handshake (which, being a bit mysophobic, I believe should be universally replaced by fist bumps, “wrist shakes” or even “man hugs”). I also grasp the concept of convenience and practicality. Poking at that little screen on my iPhone to tell a potential new client “Lets meet to do biz” may be more convenient than fewer strokes to dial the number, exchanging pleasantries with the receptionist and saying “Hi, this is D.J. When’s the best time for us to come by, listen to your plans and discuss how we can help make them happen and earn your business?” But the latter is just ”me”. Those are the kind of clients I want most to deal with.

That’s why I have implemented what I call my “Exit Strategy From Advertising for a Living.” God be willing, approximately two years from now, my current vocation will be the hobby that helps grow my new career. This new path will find me on the road, providing a tangible product to like-minded customers who will expect to meet me, exchange that fist bump and buy the great, unique product I’ll be peddling. The venture will involve social media, e-commerce fulfillment and wireless/digital technology. But meeting me and getting to know my character will be the key element in the business relationships. If you’re curious about that venture, I’ll be glad to tell you more. Email me, text me or send me a Twitter or Facebook message. Better still, call me at 817.238.3807. I look forward to speaking with you.

I Am Not An Infidel! (from the archives of the old AdTex Interactive Blog)

Thoughts on “Freelancing.

In the past and occasionally here lately, I tend to “hire out” my skills in trade. That trade is advertising copywriting. During those times, I have been called a “freelancer” and I don’t particularly cotton to it! I prefer “independent contractor”, “outside representative”, “consultant”, or even contract laborer”. By it’s very definition, the word freelancer conveys a sense of disloyalty and infidelity. Among a certain crowd, “freelancer” has such a negative connotation. Plus, the reciprocal nature of the inherent freedom in freelancing isn’t often considered.

Please allow me to explain. My research of the word, which admittedly wasn’t exhaustive, reveals that it is derived from the medieval term “free lance”. A free lance was a mercenary knight whose lance or sword was not sworn to a particular king or lord. It’s sort of like “hired gun” in the westerns. I understand the term “free lance” was used way back in Sir Walter Scott’s 1819 novel, Ivanhoe. The implications is that these roving soldiers of fortune were only in it for the money and their loyalties lay only with the highest current bidder. Sometime “freelance” is even used synonymously with “rogue”. Is that how I’m viewed when I take a temporary/hourly or per-page gig? Well, I beg to differ! Once under contract (whether written or implied) I would like to think I am certainly dedicated to carrying out the terms of the agreement between the client and I. Like nearly any full-time employee (except for those with military commitments and the like). I also have the option of terminating the agreement, walking away and forfeiting contingent compensation. The client has the same option and many are mighty quick on the trigger to exercise it, with little or no advance notice.

Curiously, the freelancer label has been most-often linked to creative professionals; “freelance graphic artist”, “freelance copywriter”, freelance journalist”. Also the noun “free lance” has morphed into common use as an adjective (“a freelance artist”), a verb (“a writer who freelances”) and an adverb (“he worked freelance there”).

The client/freelancer relationship is characterized by the lack of long-term commitment. Sound familiar?

“DJ, we love your writing style and your penchant for alliteration. But, frankly, we want the freedom to see other writers.”

Ever hear that “see others” line in an amorous relationship? It’s usually the relationship’s death knell. It reeks of “Infidelity” and “Playing the Field”. Well, two can play that game!

The key is absence of exclusivity. Which is understood in this type of relationship. A client often doesn’t have as much invested into the freelancer — no benefits, no training costs, no guaranteed seat at the office Christmas party, etc. Thus, there is no real commitment. The advantage afforded both parties is flexibility. A full-time staffer isn’t likely to let the employer push their payday back even 24 hours. Whereas my “freelance” experiences often involved my 30-day-net invoice finally being paid after 45-50 days…often only partially, then. It’s the nature of the business.

Don’t get me wrong…and please take my observations in the tongue-in-cheek spirit intended. Mostly it was an opportunity to share with my peers, the history of the word. Most of my past freelance gigs were profitable, fruitful and even educational. Freelancing help me establish lasting relationships with people who have proven beneficial to our business. But remember, as a local auto dealer says in his radio ads (commenting on his vehicle inventory), “I ain’t married to none of ‘em!”

Hoodies and Handshakes: Money is the Tie That Binds (from the archives of the old AdTex Interactive Blog)

I write this post in the midst of the media maelstrom brought on by the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an apparently unarmed Florida teen who was slain in a confrontation wit a possibly overzealous community crime watch captain. At this point, emotions are running rampant and all the facts of the incidence have not come to light. Reports indicate possible racial overtones, as the shooter (identified as a “white Hispanic male), might have even uttered an ethnic slur during his 9-1-1- call about a “suspicious African-American male”. Notable was Trayvon’s attire that night. He was wearing a hooded sweatshirt, known in modern vernacular as a “hoodie.” Across the country and all over Social Media, protests are being organized to demand a more-thorough investigation and the arrest/possible prosecution of the shooter. We’ve seen “Million Hoodie Marches” and Facebook profile photos or people in hoodies. The hoodie has become somewhat of a symbol of solidarity in a perceived “cry for justice” in the Trayvon Martin case and beyond. I have but one opinion of express about Trayvon Martin. His death seems to be the catalyst for a discussion about the perception of the value of an African-American teen’s life. Having once been an African-American teen, I believe it’s invaluable. But, I would humbly like to present a personal experience as juxtaposition to the cultural rift highlighted by the Trayvon Tragedy. It involves young African-Americans in hoodies. But instead of Skittles® candy and iced tea, it involved Malt Liquor and money…lots of money.

Here’s the set-up; our company is a member of Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), the +/- $30 billion Automotive Aftermarket trade association. SEMA has a massive annual trade show at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

While we were attending the 2006 show, I had an educational view of the power of money to breach social/ethnic bulwarks. It was about 11am on a mild October weekday morning. At the MGM Grand Casino, I boarded the packed Las Vegas Monorail to the Convention Center. Standing and pole hanging, I found myself inches from four very “hip-hop”-looking, young African Americans. All three of the young men (one was a young lady) wore hoodies. They might have had dreadlocks, twists or cornrow hair styles. They wore the saggy trousers and the Timberland® work boots that were popular then. They also had official SEMA “BUYER” badges. The SEMA show is an industry-only affair and you must provide tax records or business-formation documents for credentials to attend. After a few moments observing the young people, I identified the apparent chief executive/spokesperson. He was the one sipping from a forty-ounce can of malt liquor (I was thinking, “That’s quite a potent potable for a weekday morning at a professional trade show.”) Sensing a learning opportunity, out of the blue, I asked “Forty”,

“What size are we up to now, young man?”

He knew of what I spoke and replied “we’re going to look at a ‘32”, today.”

Now, my planned destination for that day wasn’t the enormous “Wheel and Tire” section of the show. I was looking forward to meeting some lead contacts in “Hot Rod Alley”, the Restoration and Electronics areas. But the following verbal exchange necessitated an agenda shift. To keep the conversation rolling, I asked “Forty”,

“How much does something like that cost?”

He said, “The one we’re looking at is two million dollars.”

Stunned, I mumbled (seemingly to myself), “ Two million dollars for a set of wheels?”

Young “Forty” replied, “That’s two million dollars PER WHEEL, dawg.”

Trying to fathom such ridiculousness, I said (again, mistakenly thinking I was muttering under my breath), “Who can afford something like that?” “Forty” (who must have superhuman hearing), said,

“We don’t ask questions, dawg. We just make it happen for our clients.”

“Their clients? They can’t be ‘legit”” I found myself thinking (and not out loud, this time).

As we arrived at the Convention Center and piled off the crowded monorail, I caught a glimpse of the one of their badges. I recalled seeing the word “Dubs” and the state listed as “MD.” I made a mental note to look them up on the Internet, later that night. I believe this is their company.

Entering the Convention Center, I made a beeline to the Wheel and Tire exhibit hall. I saw lots of righteous rubber, some of the most innovative wheels ever manufactured, famous rappers, pro athletes and plenty of curvaceous female spokesmodels (I think I heard someone call it the “Rumps and Rims” area). But, the most interesting thing I saw was “Forty” and his associates and loads of other “hoodies”, shaking hands and closing deals with wing-tipped, buttoned down, mostly Caucasian-male Wheel/Tire-industry representatives.

This day, the “hoodies” were not being treated as “suspicious”, but as “VALUED CLIENTS.” I found myself thinking, “Now this is different. I bet if those reps encountered these young people on a city street corner, there would be wholesale rolling up of windows and car-door locking. They would be judging these kids on the way they are dressed and would be more concerned about being “jacked” for their rims, instead of selling them.” Then, I felt guilty and repentant about such stereotypical thoughts toward both parties. I was guilty of “profiling.” Not justifying those thoughts, but you see, even though I am a pre-hip-hop baby boomer, I experienced the expedited-car-window-rollup/door-locking scenario, myself.

So, what’s my point and what has it to do with the Trayvon Martin tragedy?

Again, I just offer my SEMA-Show experience as a comparison to the division illustrated by the incident in Florida. A young, black American in a hoodie doesn’t have to be “suspicious.” A middle-aged white man in a suit doesn’t have to be the “victim”. We can all do more than just “getting along”. We can work together in business. I would rather tell the many young African –American men I have mentored to keep wearing your hoodie, keep grooming your ‘dreads”, keep your ‘flava”, but be sure to keep your integrity and be the best you can be in your business dealings. (I would also ask them to consider a nice fruit-juice beverage or coffee, instead of a “forty”, before a weekday-morning business meeting. But that’s just “me.”)

In a LinkedIn SEMA group comment thread on my “Down With Diversity” blog post, I reminded automotive “e-tailers” that it doesn’t matter if the guy placing an online/phone order for your product is wearing a hoodie or a Brooks Brothers suit.Who cares if he just left the country club or just left his job at the automobile plant. It doesn’t matter if he’s “black”, “white”, “brown” or otherwise. It’s all “green.” In your marketing, try to include something for everyone and treat them all with as much respect as possible. Can this formula work for social inclusiveness as well a business?

Now, if you or someone you know needs the services of a great Interactive Marketing company, with a seasoned Business Development Executive who knows how to listen to business people in the “’hood” as well as the boardroom, I can recommend one.

If Behavioral Ad Targeting Works, I Must Have a Secret “Other” Life

This digital ad-targeting thing is crazy!

By now, you know that every time you fill out a “profile” to join something on the internet, you divulge lots of information for targeting you with ‘PERSONALIZED” ads.

So, I used Yahoo! to search for a retail company. I clicked on the “CorporationWiki” link to view the company info. The first ad was for SEO services.

“Alright…they know I have a website.”

The second ad featured a row of photos of about five busty white women, with copy that read, “We don’t want younger men, we want you!”

The third time, it was a flashing red banner that said, “Click here to view your arrest record now.”

So, here’s what Yahoo! “knows” about me: I’m an old, single, buxom-white-woman-loving, ex-con, internet geek.

On a Wagon to Nowhere

I had another great talk with the smart, introspective 13-yr. old kid, at church. This time, he expressed an interest in going into politics. He asked what was wrong with politics these days? I started in on one of my goofy parables.

DJ: ” Let me see if I can simplify this. Do your parents agree on everything?”

The Kid: “They don’t agree on anything.”

DJ: “Forget I asked that. Now, next year, you’ll be going to high school. Let’s say your parents disagree on WHICH high school you should attend. Do you think they know you need to GO to high school?”

The Kid: “Yes.”

DJ: “Now, lets say the day school starts, they’re still disagreeing and discussing WHICH school you should be in, while you’re laying around in your room, eating Cheetos®, drinking grape soda and playing video games. If you don’t go to school, do you think your development might just be affected.”

The Kid: “Yes, but staying home, playing XBox would be awesome.”

DJ: “Shut up, boy.”

Then, I drew a crude illustration of what was supposed to be an aerial view of a Conestoga-style wagon, facing up (North), On one side I drew a donkey, pulling East. On the other side, an elephant, pulling West. I told him to imagine North was uphill.

The Kid: “Brother De Juan, you can’t draw.”

DJ: “I’m a writer, not an artist! Focus, son! Which way does the wagon NEED to move?

The Kid: “Forward…uh…up.”

DJ: “Exactly! Now imagine the donkey and the elephant spending all their time arguing about stuff like what they should eat before pulling, how much energy they’re going to use to pull the wagon and where they’re going to park the wagon when they arrive…all while pulling in separate directions and neither is forward. What’s happening there?”

The Kid: “That wagon’s not going anywhere.”

DJ: “That’s what’s going on in America, son.”

The Kid: “You call THAT ‘simplifying?”

FREE ADVICE AIN’T ALWAYS WORTH THE PRICE

On my iPod®, I have a 1964 Allan Sherman novelty song called Good Advice. The lyrical “hook” is, “Good advice costs nothing and it’s worth the price.” I humbly beg to differ with Mr. Sherman.

There is some free advice that is neither good or, in the bigger scheme of things, worth anything. As a matter of fact, following it can often lead to costlier consequences.

I’m talking about the Internet, here! The old World Wide Web is full of folks telling you the “right” way to do it yourself — from practicing law to performing surgery on yourself. Seriously! Search YouTube for “Self Stitching.”

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m an ardent do-it-yourselfer. I have re-wired my garage (under the watchful eye of a good friend, who is an electrician), built car engines, added on a sunroom, restored a 50-year old jukebox, installed a sprinkler system, converted a 45-year old car to modern Electronic Fuel Injection and haven’t been to a barber in about 15 years. These tough economic times have made me an Internet search-engine power user!

But there are some things for which you should still consult trained, skilled and certified professionals…like maybe surgery?

I’ve been working on launching our first new brand/product for AdTex AutoVation. With possible start-up funding in place, step one has been Intellectual Property Rights protection. Working on a hairline (that’s much thinner than “shoestring) budget, I tried that popular DIY legal website. After spending some hard-scrounged dough and valuable time, I discovered the site’s services were something I could have done for myself much easier. Plus, the results would still leave us subject to legal trouble. Next, I contacted a big law firm that specializes in IPR work. Eventually, I will need them. But the preliminary work they quoted was extremely costly. I was finally steered to a company that specializes in the preliminary work I needed. It turns out they’re the firm that many of the aforementioned law firms use for this work. The cost is a fraction of the law firm’s quote.

So, why are so many people turning to Internet forums, blogs, Social Media and review sites for direction and consultation for which they should be seeking professionals? I believe it’s because the “virtual” help is convenient and moreover FREE!

Loads of erroneous, fraudulent and maybe even dangerous information is out there in cyberspace for free. To make matters worse, much of it is seemingly legitimized by ads. Keep in mind that many of those advertisers and sponsors don’t care about the accuracy of the sites’ content and may not even be familiar with it. Their concern is impressions, clicks and how it can all make them more money.

That’s a free bit of advice from a retired advertising professional. Please take it for what it’s worth…apparently nothing! Happy web surfing!