Friday, June 26, 2009

So what if negative advertising is effective?

The topic of marketing and advertising is usually a sore spot for entrepreneurs. However, the question no longer is "should" I market my business; it's an absolute necessity. Today, in a world full of advertising noise, the question is "how" do I market my business. One of Exemplar's fabulous legal interns, Ms. Anna Bielejec, has written a cheeky and innovative blog on negative advertising and its effectiveness. I would like to share her point of view with our readers. Enjoy!

By: Anna Bielejec

Consumer susceptibility to the sensational finger-pointing and mud-slinging of negative advertising is on the rise and there is nothing we can do to stop it. Actually, there is. While curbing our general attraction to negative advertisements is not something we, as consumers, might actually be capable of doing, we can curb the opinions that we later form from them. Sure. Negative ads can be rude, crass, mean, dirty, spiteful, and absurd. They can also be harmless and entertaining. Apple’s famous “Hi, I’m a Mac” hipster dude, and his balding “I’m a PC” nerd co-star, is a subtle yet effective way at conveying to consumers the message that Mac computers are better than PCs. Could Mac have made a friendlier commercial? Maybe, but who cares about that? They are recognizable, memorable, and oh so witty (sort of).

Scientific analysis of the psychology behind negative advertising has provided insight into why it is so effective. Psychiatry professor at UCLA Dr. Marco Iacoboni conducted an experiment utilizing functional magnetic resonance imaging techniques to monitor the brain activity of President Bush and Sen. John Kerry supporters during the 2004 presidential campaign. During the test, when subjects were shown images of the candidate they opposed, far more brain activity was detected than when they were shown an image of the candidate they supported. As such, this experiment underscored our subconscious favoritism for negative stimuli.

I like to think of the brain as a nightlight in an outlet at the end of a dark spooky hallway. It lights up the moment things go dark. During the day, the hallway isn’t spooky and the nightlight is off, because when it’s light outside the hallway is boring and familiar and nothing about it catches your eye. There aren’t any giant spiders and the crooked baseboards are just as dusty as they were the day before. This comfort and familiarity ends abruptly the moment nighttime appears, though. When daylight retreats and darkness falls, in steps the unknown, the controversial, the spooky. You know. The point at which your hand-held spider-dar breaks and you realize your makeshift Proton Pack is missing. This is when the nightlight lights up! Such is the case when it comes to our brains and advertising: they’re plugged in, but they’re only truly riled up when the hallway spiders come out. Thus, like a nightlight, our brains light up, right on cue, with every publicity scandal, political debacle, and every other negative bit of press that our metaphorical hallway spiders could be ascribed to, night after night, week after week.

All this talk of spiders tells us several key things. First, it tells us that our brains respond favorably to the emotion that savvy advertisers evoke in us and that these responses occur automatically and subconsciously. Second, in the face of such automatic responses, it also tells us that there is absolutely nothing we as consumers can do to thwart the brain’s inevitable hunger to experience this emotion. So, if there’s nothing we can do to change our internal programming for negative advertisements, what can we do? The answer is simple. We, as the consumers of the world, can exercise our brains with, wait for it, rational thought. This novel idea requires us to consciously analyze information and issues for ourselves, however emotional it may be, before we make any ultimate decisions in response to what was initially presented. Simple? Maybe not. Crucial? Absolutely. Spider-proof? I’ll let you decide.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Exemplar In The News! (Again!)

By: Shannon Jamieson, Esq.

Good morning, fellow Entrepreneurs! In October, our CEO Chris Marston will be traveling to San Diego for a 2-day conference - "Inside the Law Firm of the Future." The event is largely an off-shoot of the popular book "The Firm of the Future," written in part by Ron Baker (who will also be in attendance at the conference).

Whether you're in professional services or you use them, this is a conferecne you don't want to ignore. It will be the way customers will demand to consume professional services in the future, so it is vital that we all become educated (and excited!) about the coming change.

To read more about the event, visit

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Niches for Entrepreneurship are all Around... the House!

By: Shannon Jamieson

If I hear the phrase "in this down economy" one more time, I swear to God I'm going to throw an old-school temper tantrum. Yes, it's happening and yes, we have to deal with it. Many people are turning to entrepreneurship to make ends meet, and seeing opportunities where they otherwise wouldn't have. Take this student, for example, who was helping his folks around the house while job hunting. His time at home lead to a new business - cleaning out dryer ducts, of all things! However, Chris King's business idea is the perfect example of true grass-roots entrepreneurship - find a need in the market that isn't being met and meet it. No one was thinking to clean out their ducts, but doing so saves both time and money for homeowners by shortening dryer time (and thus saving electricity cost and energy depletion).

Simple concept, right? Maybe, but if it were, we would all own our own businesses. Ideas for great businesses, and viable models, can sometimes be difficult to spot; especially if you're exploring the concept of entrepreneurship for the first time. However, as King demonstrates, it's not impossible. If you're contemplating starting your own business, here are a few simple tips to keep in mind:

1) Be Observant during every day activities. The most successful businesses are built around making basic tasks or every day life easier. You needn't reinvent the wheel to be successful in entrepreneurship; you simply need to tweak it. Look around yourself during otherwise mundane activities and locations - the grocery store, post office, or even the subway during your morning commute. What are people struggling with or complaining about? Perhaps they have a need you can fill.

2) What grinds your gears? Entrepreneurship doesn't always have to be based in altruism, so be selfish for once. What ticks you off during the day? Your squeaky bathroom door? The kitty litter on the floor near the litter box? The constantly cluttered coffee table?(Both personal pet peeves of mine in my own life.) How can you address this situation in way that would resonate with other people? I'm not saying that these particular ideas haven't been addressed in the market - maybe they have. (However, I still haven't found a suitable solution for containing kitty litter in small spaces..) But I'll bet if you look hard enough at the things that grind your gears, you'll think of a creative way to solve that issue.

3) Lend a Hand. Now more than ever, Americans are BUSY. Forget this down economy crap - we have places to go and people to see. Each task we have to engage in as part of the journey just slows us down! This is the American mentality. As an entrepreneur, what can you do to alleviate this? Go old school. Walk a neighbor's dog. Mow a lawn. Cook some meals for someone elderly that lives alone. There's a reason these ideas are still around - people require these services! Not everyone, but in your neighborhood there may be enough of a need (here's where the nitty-gritty research piece comes in) to sustain a small business.

Are these tips revolutionary? Probably not. But they are tried and true, and I'm putting them out there to get your mental gears turning (or grinding, whatever) and think about how you can get off your butt and pursue entrepreneurship. For entrepreneurs, the time is ALWAYS now.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Beef Up Your Business Plan!

Great article today in the WSJ that we wanted to share:

"Why Business Plans Don't Deliver"

It gives some great tips of business plan pitfalls and how to avoid them. At Revolve, we review lots of business plans and come across these exact same issues often. Think of it as free advice from the WSJ! Enjoy!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Need Inspiration For Your Friday?

Then read this nice interview with entrepreneur Howard Lindzon, courtesy of He happens to have made his living in stock and finance, but I believe his message resonates for all entrepreneurs. He's also very honest, and has some interest points of view about social media; namely, facebook v. twitter. Enjoy!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Bragging Rights

Alright, time for another moment of shameless self-promotion for Exemplar. We made CFO magazine!!

A big shoutout to all of our fellow entrepreneurs and our customers - you guys keep us going every day and make us proud to be innovators like you.