Joseph Jaffe: The Evangelist.
By Paul McEnany
One of the first voices I heard from the blogosphere was that of Joseph Jaffe, a new marketing evangelist hell bent on changing the conversation, moving new media to the forefront and relegating television and the rest of the traditional media cronies back to at least equal footing with what some consider to be "alternative" techniques.
Luckily, over the past few months, I've gotten to know the fabulous Christina Kerley, better known as "CK", an original contributor to this journal, who, rightly, thought there might be some synergy between myself and the guys at the MadAve Journal.
With this new relationship, I headed to the Chaos conference in Austin, Texas for my first interview contribution to the journal, and a chance to meet with Joseph Jaffe about his newly formed company, Crayon.
Paul: I guess I'll start off with the easy question, how do you think Crayon is going to change the world?
Joseph: One impression at a time! No, I'm kidding. I don't know that I can answer the question. That's how good it is. How do we think it's gonna change the world? I mean I don't know. We're gonna go out and be true to ourselves and true to the brands that we now represent and just try and do things the right way. You know it's not so altruistic in a way. It's something worth striving for. I have a sticker on my iPod, my Nano red. The inscription is, "Make a difference, change the world." More realistic I hope we change the industry and I hope we change the way that marketing and advertising is done and I hope that we help grow the category and make sure that people, I'm sure you would be one of them as well. The things that we do, the things we believe in, I believe we believe in them for the right reasons and I'd like to expand the categories so that we get the respect and the credit not that we deserve or that we've earned but maybe that the consumers are asking for now.
Paul: Do you consider yourself like a leader of the movement maybe?
Joseph: I don't know that I would call it a movement but I'm definitely an evangelist. I'm definitely someone that believes deeply in what I do. It's not an act. This is who I am now and so if it's a movement then that sounds like a fun thing to do. Some people have often spoken about the cult, the cult of Joseph Jaffe. LOL... I don't take that too seriously but I think we are all part of a movement at the end of the day, the social medias, new marketing, hot costing. It's a movement. It's not a tactic and that's what still most marketers don't get. This is a movement. We're part of it already. I don't need to start one.
Paul: Right. Do you intend Crayon to stay small or could you see yourself growing into something, like Weiden+Kennedy which has grown hugely. Do you consider yourself staying as a smaller new media boutique or maybe growing into something much larger?
Joseph: I think we'd like to grow and right now honestly I've not even given it any thought as to like what Roy Spence today spoke about today. There's actually three phases. There's built to survive and then built to thrive and built to last, and I would argue that there's a fourth now, which is built to first, which is this idea of getting to the future first but putting that aside, we're in the built to survive phase right now, which doesn't mean we're gasping for air. We've just been born so we're an infant. We're peeing in our pants. We can't even talk; we can just cry. We're an infant; that's who we are, and I think we want to grow smartly. I never want to ever have to lay anyone off. I don't want to grow too big too fast and for the wrong reasons but could we grow and would I like to grow? Absolutely.
Joseph: One thing I would like to do is maintain a certain personalization about the company and I think maybe Second Life will help so that I can be in Second Life and someone who is an assistant account exec in our Moscow office, I don't know, whatever, and we can just chat that way and meet that way and not have to feel pretentious that I'm in the big corner office on the 97,000th floor. So I want to keep the spirit and also part of this company is that everybody gets equity options or something like that so that's another big thing so we will grow as long as the equity will allow or I will allow my equity to be invested in our people. I'm very, very passionate about talent and about the people of Crayon and creating this family of this community, this movement. Crayon's a movement.
Paul: So why make the jump? You're obviously successful at what you're doing, writing books with the podcast and the blog and everything. Why make the jump?
Joseph: Good question. I made the jump for a couple of reasons. One is I have this overriding fear of being run over by a bus and I thought to myself if I'm ever hit by a bus, what would happen to my family? That was the first thing. This is what comes from not really being scaled and right now the success that you speak of is Joseph Jaffe Inc. and if something happens to Joseph Jaffe it all goes away. So part of the thinking was how do I scale so that I can also diversify, period? The second thing is it's not just for that. It's not just fear of being hit by a bus. I mean I just avoid busses. I didn't want to burn out as well with the travel and all of this stuff. It's hard. There's a wonderful saying, which I guess is ironic now in Second Life territory that no man is an island, I guess unless they have one in Second Life.
Paul: That makes sense.
Joseph: I love being around people, surrounded by people that think like me, that act like me, and the ability to actually work with them and change the world together is something that was quite appealing, and I guess the third reason is the business reason is that the market needs it now. The market is desperate for help, for advice, for guidance, for partnership to actually help make a lot of these new marketing opportunities real so I've put those all together. That's why I formed Crayon. To me it was a no-brainer. It was like an inevitable decision, okay, now's the time as opposed to should we or shouldn't we. It was "when should we."
Paul: How do you think Second Life is going to affect your product?
Joseph: Well affect our product, I mean Second Life is interesting because we will no doubt be helping our clients figure out Second Life and how to invest in it and exist in it but Second Life first and foremost is where we actually live. That's our primary place of residence. That's our primary place of work so for us right now, we wanted to revolutionize the way that businesses do business in terms of meeting, pitching, presenting, training, having status meetings, etc., idea generation, intellectual property, knowledge management, all that kind of stuff and I think we'll learn in the processing terms of that will inevitably help us in terms of how we advise our clients. The other thing is Second Life has to work for us 'cause we've taken the decision to be a global company and because we're a global company we've got to figure out how we can connect all these different people around the world and figure out how to still be connected even though we are – we exist in different locations.
Paul: Okay, so I was reading over the manifesto, the Crayon manifesto and I guess it says that you're trying to keep performance based pricing or conversation model and then also at the same time you're trying to form this company that's creating a culture of constant experimentation. So do those two become competing ideals at some point or what is your measurement of performance?
Joseph: That's a great question. So reconciling experimentation with ROI or performance based pricing, well very easy actually. If you want to get the right answers you've got to ask the right questions. I say that quite often. If we're doing a project for Coke and we're measuring in terms of how many cans of coke moved as a result, well I don't know that we can do that. I just don't know that it's possible to look at something as isolated as Second Life and something that is an experiment at the end of the day. So I think 50% of it is defining what experimentation is.
Joseph: I would argue, and this is fairly controversial I think, that experimentation should actually have a lower ROI bar because it's an experiment but an experiment needs to come with learnings, valuable, vital, proprietary learnings and insights and I think you just have to go out and define that which you term to be performance, performing, and once you do the performance could be buzz, the performance could be five people that you employ, the performance could be something very tangible and very specific and it doesn't have to necessarily be this amorphous ROI thing.
Paul: So your compensation will be on a project-by-project basis I guess, not necessarily client-by-client?
Joseph: I certainly don't think project-based is the preferred model. It's very difficult to grow in scale by just going single, single, single. That's what I'm learning 'because I'm not really a businessman. I've never really built a business before but I think that project based is a great place to start. That's the first part. The compensation should be two-fold. I'd like it to be a combination of value based and performance based pricing. Then I'd also like to do some funky things with equity and options and ownership as well. That's the only way to do it.
Paul: Okay. I guess there are a lot of marketers that are talking about the changing landscape of advertising and marketing in general and they're describing it as a change in the tactics or tools that we use to reach consumers but they're saying that the fundamentals are remaining the same. Do you ascribe to that theory?
Joseph: That's a really good question, I mean, yes and no is my answer. I was thinking about it this morning, that the tools and the approaches are increasing, but the opportunities are decreasing so that's an important sound bite in a sense. It's recognizing that yes, it is great that we have so many new ways to express yourself and actually let us not be shackled by the 30-second spot anymore, but at the same time we need to also recognize that consumers' patience and tolerance is decreasing, the number of those connecting opportunities are decreasing. I think interrupting consumers applies anymore. That's another segmenting, targeting, positioning, I don't think that applies anymore. So there are a lot of those fundamentals that - let me put it this way, it's not a one size fits all anymore. So there are times when segmenting, targeting, positioning, all of these things have their place but I think - and I made the point earlier - the goal here is not one of extremes. It's not one of absolutes. It's about an end. It's about meeting in the middle. It's about equilibrium, but I think fundamentally, here's a fundamental that makes sense. People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. That's a fundamental. That will be in place hopefully in 50 years time. The power of word of mouth, that's a fundamental. The difference is tools have increased and made it a lot easier to enact it. So you know maybe it's a good challenge for us to sift out the fundamentals that we feel still apply, always will apply, and then maybe the ones that just don't apply anymore.
Paul: What do you consider your greatest new media success?
Joseph: Me personally?
Paul: Yeah, you personally.
Joseph: Well, Crayon's launch I would say is a success and I would also say, "Life After the 30-Second Spot," the marketing of it, they use new marketing to prove new marketing, a lot of the experiments that I've done. You know I do little things and some things like even my business card. On the front of the business card, is my first life; on the back is my second life, not just Second Life but my podcast. On other words on the front is my talk; on the back is my walk. These things like Chapter 10 of my book, putting it online and forcing people to go online. The first book... there's a first for you! I think in the world if I actually took a linear chapter and stuck it somewhere else. Those things to me resonate, even the things I do with my presentations when I tell people to call me if they've got a question. These are things to me that are so original that kind of impact on me but I would say certainly the launch of Crayon. I think it's been pretty successful. I mean we're in the Wall Street Journal three weeks after being born. I would say that's pretty zero to hero in 21 days.
Paul: Right. That's actually the way I found your book was Chapter 10 was the first thing I read, the first Jaffe piece I guess.
Joseph: And that's one way of people discovering me. People can go to lifeafter30.com. Now that's a place for people to go and get a free copy of Chapter 10. It's a nice way of tracking back but also that's a way of people discovering me and I think that is a lesson there for brands, which is make it easy to be discovered. Make it easy to be consumed by the consumers and the easier you make it, the more likely they'll be to consume you.
Paul: So what's book number two?
Joseph: Well book number two, and I think I've got like 90 days to write it, it's gonna be a miracle, I haven't started.
Joseph: Yeah I know. That was "Life After 30." I wrote it like in a year. It's gonna be about what life after 30 doesn't talk about is blogging and podcasting and social media and Second Life and YouTube and MySpace. As Bob said basically he didn't even mention the word YouTube in his book when it came out. I didn't mention the word You Tube in my book maybe because it didn't exist yet either so I'd like to take the second book to now focus on all of the stuff but also focus on some of the new theory, this idea of reach, connect, effect, this idea of campaign neutrality, and I think a big chunk of it will be get around conversational marketing, joining the conversation, the ability to actually help marketers realize that there is this amazing conversation going out there and they can actually be a part of it, and they'll find that when they're a part of it the barriers to entry are much lower and the barriers to exit are much higher once you're actually part of a meaningful dialogue.
Paul: And what would you consider to be your biggest social media failure to this point?
Joseph: Oh, again me personally?
Joseph: I would honestly say that - and I'll quote because here we are at UT, huge college football, that stadium I think I can see out the window seats like 80,000 people or something like that so I'll quote Vince Lombardi who basically when asked how he handled it when his team lost and what he said to them, he basically said, "In my entire career we never lost a single game" and the reporter said, "How's that possible? I mean here's your record" and he said, "Let me say it again. In my entire career we never lost a single game. We just ran out of time."
So I guess to me a failure, failures are experiments you don't learn from or that literally like can destroy you like Chevy Tahoe or some of the mess that Edelman's in. To me an opportunity cost is I won't rest until my book is in every single college. There are a lot worse books that are doing a lot better. The book is doing well, make no mistake. It's being translated into five, six different languages. I just heard that they've ordered 35,000 copies in Japan. Make no mistake, I'm not complaining but it's like a labor of love and the labor here is I will be an evangelist for the message and for the book and so I don't want to ever be in a room with people that say, "I haven't read your book." I mean Professor Burns here at UT has never read it. This is the number one advertising program in the whole of the U.S. so I've got work to do, so that's something I'd rather focus on. I haven't run out of time yet.
Paul: So you don't feel like by writing the second book it's almost like putting the first one to bed and like that's step one and then, you know?
Joseph: You know the funny thing is that I would say that the book is more relevant now than it was a year and a half ago when it came out, and I guess I'm fortunate in a way. I think a good conversation has to evolve. A good conversation is not static, so Life After Thirty Second Spot is static. It exists organically and it exists freshly ever day in the form of Jaffe Juice and Across the Sound, but it's time to keep going. Why not? Just getting started.
Paul: Do you feel like you left anything out of the first book or is there anything if you could go back now and put in the first book that you would?
Joseph: Yeah, probably what I'll be putting in the second book. I mean as I said, I added stuff in about blogs in the post production phase. I had not written anything on blogs. I mean I submitted the manuscript in December of '04. The book came out in May of '05. I only started my blog in all earnest between February and April of '05 so I was not even blogging when I was writing this. It's crazy. So yeah, if I went back, Jaffe Juice across the sound, they're a part of my life now. They're who I am, and I would absolutely update it to incorporate a much stronger thing but at the same time I think there's also a lesson that says leave it alone. It's done. That's the book. It's published. Now move on and do the next thing.
Paul: All right. So give me your elevator pitch for Crayon.
Joseph: That's so funny.
Paul: I'm completely stealing that question from you.
Joseph: Yeah. The elevator pitch is actually very simple. It's going to a market and asking them two questions 'cause I'm in an elevator, right? Question number one, so it's like, "Hey Mackety Mack Chief Global Marketing Officer, I just got two questions for you. Number one." So obviously I've given them a card and they're like, "Crayon, what's that?" I said, "Well I'm gonna ask you two questions. Question number one, how important do you think all of this new marketing stuff is going to be for your business and your brand over the next three to five years - blogs, podcasts, consumer generated content, WIKIs, Second Life, Interactive?" You can run them down like a litany, and if they answer "important" or "extremely important" I'm gonna say to them, "Would you rather charge a company that puts all these things as fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth on their priority list or first, second and third? At the end of the day that's basically what we do." We specialize in these and it's at the core and the forefront of what we do and that's all we focus on. So that's kind of – that's the pitch itself but the elevator component is very simple.
It's the 93 colors. You know when you go into a restaurant, take your kids, out comes the three pack, red, yellow and blue, well that represents television, radio and print. Today Crayola has their big box, the 96 big box, so take the 93 colors. We specialize in the 93 colors.
Paul: I guess - I watched a presentation that you put on your blog actually and you mentioned something about how advertisers who's creative works better on TV should be charged more.
Joseph: No. I've said that basically marketers, advertisers should pay less for the stuff. Marketers shouldn't have to pay for the stuff that doesn't work and they should pay extra for the stuff that does work. You've got to say it in context of in other words if an ad doesn't work because no one watched it I shouldn't have to pay for it. So instead of paying for 36 million potential views, I'll pay for 10 million actual views, so that's the one component of it, but the other thing is a performance based component that says if we have the data and technology as we do like on TiVo we know if the ad ran or not. We know if it was fast-forwarded. We know if it was skipped. So shouldn't we adjust our pricing to enable marketers to protect them and just let them pay for the stuff that actually was seen. But then I think we can get a little bit more funkier and say, "Well, if somebody watches the ad again 'cause it was so good, shouldn't a marketer pay more for that? And if somebody forwards it to a friend, shouldn't they pay more for that?
Paul: I like that.
Joseph: So it's not a penalty. It's basically again saying - if I went to any marketer out there, any advertiser and said "Wouldn't you just want to pay for the stuff that works and pay more for the stuff that works really well but not have to pay for the stuff that doesn't work?" I'm sure most of them would say yes because they know that the extra amount that they pay for the stuff that does work will; in no way be even a fraction of all the stuff that doesn't work. All the money they essentially get rebates it to them. Marketers and advertisers and agencies should be penalized for bad creative. They absolutely should, so maybe that's another layer of pricing or performance based pricing. I love the idea of letting consumers vote for ads, positive, negative, and I think every negative vote there should be a penalty. So it's one thing to say the ad was great and I watched it. It's another thing to say the ad was crap and now I've got penalized. I'll give you a practical way that you can take this.
Paul: I'm all ears.
Joseph: Let's say American Idol is the number one watched program. It's a privilege in a way to have the opportunity to get in front of that coveted audience. It's like the Super Bowl. If you don't take the responsibility of basically on that platform, that global center stage of rising to the occasion then you should be banned from it in a way.
Joseph: If you repurpose advertising or if you really use mediocre advertising you should in a way go to the back of the line. It's like I don't know if you've played that game when you were in school like catching maybe in baseball and you're kind of top of the class, bottom of the class. When you drop the ball you go to the bottom of the class. That's what should happen. I don't understand why there isn't a task force of agency people and marketers that have got together saying we will create the technology or create a hedge fund and invest in it.
Paul: That's a good idea.
Joseph: It just boggles my mind that we haven't taken a more proactive stance towards actually leading this evolution or revolution, and I guess the answer if I had to guess an answer it would be because these people don't really want it to change. They have too much vested interest and too much to lose in the process and that's kind of sad because it will prove to be their undoing.
Paul McEnany is a new media and marketing strategist at Levenson and Hill in Dallas, TX and works with clients in business categories ranging from logistics to QSR. He is a contributor to Beyond Madison Avenue, one of the most popular marketing blogs as well as his own personal marketing blog, Hee Haw Marketing. A budding activist, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.