The Real Deal.

As I have often said (maybe too often?), American Family Insurance’s DreamBank is one of the best things going in Madison’s business community.

This past Tuesday’s event with Neal Schaffer was just the latest example of the kind of quality programming that’s available to anyone interested—totally free of charge.

If you don’t know of Neal, you should. Hailing out of southern California, he’s a master sensei of social media who serves clients and companies all over the world. The dude is also a huge sharer, too, and dropped so much valuable intel during his recent DreamBank presentation that it’s taken me a couple of days to even begin to digest it all.


Here are several of my top takeaways:



1. Use social media audiences as a worldwide, always on-call focus group.


As a longtime ad guy myself, I have a deep, abiding love/hate relationship with focus groups. But I’ve learned to value them as incredible ways to build buzz about a brand, product or service with very little cost or effort. Neal’s advice: Learn to love focus groups and use them via the powerful tools of social media. 


That great advice reminded me of something I had just seen in my (surprise!) social media feed. Take a look at this very recent social post from the folks getting ready to publish a new book by Shark Tank’s Daymond John.


Daymond Johns Rise And Grind Book Cover Voting


My friend Heather Heuman of Sweet Tea Social Marketing is a social media marketing powerhouse out of South Carolina, shared this screenshot via LinkedIn and I think the tactic is brilliant. Ostensibly, it’s about voting for your favorite cover version for the new book. In reality, it’s all about PRE-selling the book which doesn’t even come out until January 23, 2018. And yes, it is available for pre-sale as I write.


And if one cover emerges as the big winner? It just might become THE cover. My bet is on them coming out with a couple of versions. Personally, I’d go with C and D. Just imagine a shelf of copies with that profile/to camera/profile/to camera alternating combo—that would be eye-catching from a mile away. Social media as focus group? Neal, you couldn’t ask for a better illustration.



2. Two ways of thinking: Buy influence / Build influence


This is the fundamental divide of social media, and one that Neal addressed in detail. The old model (think Don Draper old) was to buy eyeballs. The new model (that’s operating at light speed today) is all about earning eyeballs. Yes, it’s harder—but worth it in so many ways (that Neal richly detailed). Whether you call it ‘permission, ‘inbound,’ or ‘pull’ marketing, it all comes down to the same thing: sharing valuable content makes you valuable to your audience—and they will reward you for that shared value over time.




3. The days of 100% organic success are over.

This point stings a little, especially to a content guy who stills harbors a bit of ‘if you write it, they will come.’


But he’s right.


The years of ‘we’ll just provide this valuable platform for free’ are over. It’s been said, for years, that if you aren’t paying for it, then you are the product. How’d you get decades of free TV programming? By being sold in the form of cost per thousand impressions. Well, now it’s even more true of social. And the platforms that didn’t really know how to monetize their incredibly popular FREE services? They’ve now got that monetization nailed, and are further optimizing it daily.


Shakespeare, if blogging today, would have to find a deep-pocketed royal patron just to pay to boost his posts. And unfortunately, now individuals and brands big and small do too. It’s like we’re back in the steroids era of baseball, only this time the steroids aren’t going away; they are actually being foisted on the players by the league itself. Truth can hurt. This truth kills.


Big ideas requiring some big time cogitation? Definitely.


Those are just three of the many think bombs Neal dropped on those of us lucky enough to have caught his presentation last Tuesday (9.12.2017) at DreamBank. If he’s ever in your neck of the woods, I highly recommend you seek him out. Bottom line: Neal’s the real deal.


– D.P. Knudten > Chief Collaborator > COLLABORATOR creative

©2017 D.P. Knudten / COLLABORATOR creative – all rights reserved




D.P. Knudten, the Chief Collaborator at COLLABORATOR creative, is a ~25-year veteran in advertising and marketing. Providing everything from highly personalized marketing consulting; custom copywriting; content marketing strategy, creation, execution; and his NonFiction Branding™ system, D.P. collaborates creatively to identify, craft, and tell the true brand stories of complicated products, services, and companies, and shares his personal POV about all the above—and more—via speaking opportunities to groups throughout the U.S.


D.P. is also the co-author (with Spencer X Smith) of ROTOMA—The ROI of Social Media ‘Top of Mind’