Using improvisation and comedy to unleash your company’s message and branding

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Advertising, business advice, free business advice, Hiring Consultants, Hiring Contractors, Marketing, Priorities

When Hewlett-Packard was about to launch their Windows 10 line of notebook and desktop computers they were scared. Not because they were worried about competition or the quality of their devices but, because of the horrible reaction to their prior line of computers due to Microsoft’s shockingly bad Windows 8 software. In order to create the right marketing message for their new line of computers they knew they needed serious help. This was no laughing matter. So, who did they turn to? A bunch of comedians.

HP turned to a San Francisco based creative agency called Funworks. Funworks brought in a team of comedians skilled at improvisation techniques to hold a “fun workshop” with HP’s top product managers. Founded by Paul Charney, a veteran creative agency executive and founder of the San Francisco comedy troupe Killing Lobsters, Paul and his team help companies express their issues and discover their most compelling messaging points by fostering an environment of open conversation based on improvisation techniques where ideas flow freely when everyone simply says “yes” and “and”.

In this episode of Bay Area Ventures I speak with Paul Charney and Funwork’s Creative Architect, Erica Fortescue about his company and their award winning commercials.


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We discuss the psychology of what makes a company and its products memorable and why humor is sometimes the best medicine, even when trying to convey a serious message. We learn what a fun workshop is and what takes place at one.

Paul talks about why he started Funworks and how it is different from other creative ad agencies. He talks about the challenges of moving from a practicing creative person and comedian to being the CEO of a team of other practitioners. What are the trade off and what are the rewards for being a leader.

Erica shares her knowledge on the neuropsychology of messaging and how humor can be used to convey a serious message while maintaining the prestige and authority of the company being represented in the creative message.

Of course we also hear Paul and Erica share their view on the Bay Area Way of business. In their practice they have dealt with startup to Fortune 50 enterprises in the Bay Area and across the US. In the Bay Area, in particular, they talk about how companies staffed by 20 to 30 “something” employees are sometimes more difficult to help because they just don’t understand their true identity as an organization. Often in these cases they are called in by the company’s Board of Directors to help figure it out and craft the right message and persona for the firm.

So, how did HP conquer their fear of whether or not Windows 10 would scuttle their latest offerings? By creating Circle of Trust. See it here: Funwork’s Windows 10 Launch Commercial for H-P

This episode was recorded on May 22, 2017 on Bay Area Ventures on SiriusXM Channel 111 Business Radio Powered by the Wharton School. For a list of upcoming and past guest information click on the Show link above.

How to increase online sales with 4-Tell

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Marketing, Outsourcing IT

Ken Levy, Co-Founder and CEO of 4-Tell, a Portland, Oregon based start-ups reveals secrets on how to increase online sales and boost all metrics of your ecommerce site. With 4-Tell’s Boost recommendation engine and services for online shopping carts, email and newsletters, merchants can realize up to 67% increase in online sales.

For more information on 4-Tell or to reach Ken Levy go to: www.4-tell.com

PPCIan shares the latest advice on SEM

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in Advertising, business advice, Marketing

Ian Lopuch, VP, Search Marketing of eHealthInsurance and author of PPCIan returns to The Free COO to offer incredible advice for entrepreneurs.

Learn about online marketing technologies, search engine trends for 2012 and 2013, careers in online marketing and top 3 tips for online marketers.

Ian is The Free COO’s first repeat guest and for good reason. He is always an exciting speaker and in this 90 minute interview you’ll get so many great actionable takeaways for your company that it will more than compensate you for your time spent listening. This is a must hear interview.

Be sure to follow Ian’s frequent posts on www.PPCIan.com

And be sure to catch The Free COO Thursdays at 4:00pm Pacific Time live on Spreaker, Facebook and right here.

Expert PPC tips from David Rodnitzky

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David Rodnitzky is CEO of 3Q Digital of San Mateo, California (formerly PPC Associates). 3Q Digital is a professional services firm offering internet marketing help in the areas of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Pay Per Click advertising (PPC), Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and more. They cover traditional advertising on Google, Microsoft AdCenter (Bing and Yahoo!) plus many other search engines. Plus, 3Q Digital can help with social marketing strategies and execution for platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and more.

David is a expert in the field of SEO and SEM having worked at companies like Aderactive and Merchantila prior to founding 3Q Digital. He is also on the advisory board of Marin Software, MediaBoost and Mediacause.

He is a regular speaker at major SEM conferences and has contributed to numerous influential publications, including Venture Capital Journal, CNN Radio, Newsweek, Advertising Age, and Search Marketing Standard. I believe you can catch David and SMX east in a couple weeks in New York.

Learn about all things PPC and why long tail marketing is giving way to wide tail marketing.

The Free COO airs live on Thursdays at 4:00pm Pacific Time

Also check out 3Q Digitals blog.