How to Cut Through

Drew Neisser Founder & CEO, Renegade

Posted on September 11th 2012

How to Cut Through

Among my favorite New Yorker cartoons is the one that shows a bunch of brain surgeons gathered around an operating table scalpels in hand when the head doctor declares, “Hey, this isn’t marketing!”  And as much as I love to see our profession elevated, the truth is that even with the complexities introduced by social media, creating marketing programs that cut through just isn’t that hard especially if you follow these six steps.

1. Do your homework

Sounds like a no brainer right?  Who the heck would launch a marketing campaign without taking a close look at the category, the target and the brand?  Well, don’t get me started.  Fortunately, Renegade clients know better.  One such client Akamai ADS recently took the time to interview customers, prospects and industry experts, helping them to uncover a significant opportunity in their digital media marketplace.

2. Solve a problem

Unlike our brain surgeon friends, marketing is rarely a life or death situation but rather a simple function of solving a problem for a particular target.  In the case of Akamai ADS, the problem identified by their research was that digital marketers were becoming increasingly dependent on remarketing to drive online sales and in the process were having trouble expanding their user bases. 

3. Use your marketing to provide a service

Blah. Blah. Blah.  That’s the sound of most advertising.  Mere messaging that falls on deaf ears 98% of the time.  However, if you turn your marketing into a service, minds, hearts and pocket books open up.  The service need not be complex as long as it solves a problem.  Akamai ADS did this by creating an online calculator that helped digital marketers figure out how much incremental revenue they could generate by expanding their customer base.

4. Have some fun

While none of us want a funny brain surgeon, people do business with people they like and the same holds for brand selection.  Brands that don’t take themselves too seriously often end up generating serious sales and long-lasting loyalty.  To introduce its Brand NU Game campaign, Akamai started at’s Annual Summit with a crane claw game that visualized the act of gaining New Users.  All players received “New User Bait” gummy worms and a taste of things to come on

5. Stay focused but don’t rely on one channel

Surgeons increasingly aim to minimize the size of their incisions hoping to dramatically speed up recovery times.  Marketers can benefit from this kind of focus as long as they don’t rely too heavily on one particular channel to engage their target.  In addition to the trade show activity, Akamai ADS created an experiential direct mail program and highly targeted digital media, all designed to help online marketers learn about the “NU Math” behind the “Brand NU Game” calculator. 

6. Size up and sharpen

No self-respecting brain surgeon would walk away from a patient without plans for several post-op evaluations.  Given that marketing by definition is a continuum, marketers must have benchmarks in place to track success and make adjustments as necessary.  For Akamai ADS, the metrics are plentiful, from hard measures like site traffic and leads generated to softer ones like brand awareness and favorability ratings.  While it is too early to identify adjustments, their Brand NU Game campaign is well on its way to cutting through. 


Drew Neisser

Founder & CEO, Renegade

Drew Neisser is CEO & Founder of Renegade the NYC-based social media and marketing agency that helps inspired clients cut through the nonsense to deliver genuine business growth. A frequent speaker at industry events, Drew’s been a featured expert on ABC’s Nightline and CNBC. In addition to blogging for SocialMediaToday, you can find Drew’s articles on, MediaPost and TheDrewBlog.

In the last few years, Drew and Renegade charged up the prepaid card market launching MAGIC by Magic Johnson via events & social, unleashed the AXA Gorilla on Twitter with audio tweets and a virtual retirement party, created the Optimist Network for Optimum Business, guided Toasted Head to become one of the most popular wines on Facebook, introduced young adults to Harlem Liqueur and made a splash for Davidoff Cool Water on Facebook.

Also at Renegade, Drew hatched numerous award-winning campaigns for a long-list of blue chip clients.  His ideas for HSBC, Panasonic and IBM were all recognized by BRANDWEEK as Guerrilla Marketers of the Year.   Among these is the legendary HSBC BankCab program, a restored Checker, that has been delighting HSBC customers since 2003 with free rides (and now informative tweets).  

Drew’s creative accomplishments include naming and launching the Toughbook for Panasonic and penning numerous taglines.  These include “Like money. Only Magic.” for MAGIC by Magic Johnson prepaid MasterCard, “Where Family Comes First.” for Family Circle Magazine, “Fire things up,” for Toasted Head wine and “Great tech support. Good karma.” for iYogi.

Diapered at Wells Rich Greene, trained at JWT and retrained at Chiat/Day, Drew founded Renegade in 1996 as a place where the best ideas can sprout from any corner and collaboration trumps ego.  Drew earned a BA in history from Duke University and lives in Manhattan with his wife and the agency’s mascot, a French bulldog named Pinky.  A native Californian, Drew dreams of becoming a surfer but is a long way from hanging ten.

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