Category Archives: Fun

Understanding Differentiation – How is your company/brand/product truly different from the competition?

Understanding Differentiation – How is your company/brand/product truly different from the competition?

Justin Williams wants you to understand differentiation. Read on …

Digging into your brand can be a scary thing. As a business, the last thing you want to do is focus on your flaws, and with good reason. But understanding what you can improve upon often helps you see the greatness that is already there. That’s why it is important that you involve your most valuable asset in the equation of differentiation: YOUR CLIENTS.


Your valuable customer base should always be a part of what drives your businesses growth and improvements. It’s no secret that they are the lifeblood of your business. Your brand IS DIFFERENT, and that’s why your tribe sticks with you. But where can you improve, and WHAT makes you different?

You might have a million ideas of why you THINK you are different, but you could be missing some important stuff. Sometimes, an outside opinion can offer you insight into your brand that you didn’t even know existed. So, ask other people. It’s a simple process that has helped thousands of businesses grow and stay competitive.

Send out some customer satisfaction surveys via snail mail. Include one in your purchasing process. Post a survey on your website. Ask face-to-face. Whatever it takes, find out what others LOVE and dislike about you. It’s going to help differentiate you from the pack.

Differentiation – How is your company/brand/product truly different from the competition?

Try it and learn

Involving your customers not only helps you understand how your brand is different, it actually makes you different! You keep your tribe engaged and show them you care, and you take the necessary steps to better serve them. Try it and learn. And when you are ready to find out what makes us different, and how WE CAN HELP you, go ahead and contact us.

Paying Attention to Packaging Can Drive Up Your Sales

Hey!  Wake up.  Sandy Gates wants you to pay attention to your package design.  Read on.

Have you ever perused the beer aisle when BAM a six pack of a beer you are unfamiliar with grabs your attention? You may know nothing about the brewery, the taste, or if you will actually enjoy the beer at all. But the packaging is just so interesting and has lots of eye candy. Loads of graphics, a funny little story about the owners of the brewery, and the labels on the bottles have a different, famous person on each one. Not only are the people famous, each photo has a theme. One bottle has a politician riding a bull, another bottle has an actress watching a silent movie. Before you know it, the six pack is in your cart, and you are heading for the check-out line.

We are a visually stimulated society which is an important factor in your packaging. From a tap handle to a website, your packaging content can drive sales forward or keep sales flat. And you may be the most talented craft brew master of the tastiest beer in the area but if don’t have an eye for packaging, it may be time to bring in the professionals.

The MAD House is a group who knows branding and marketing, loves to work WITH our clients, and at the same time have fun doing our job. Affordability is of course important to us, but a unique packaging design, along with our well-known reputation can make your new brew come full circle. When you walk through the doors at The MAD House or make the call to one of our representatives, you can be assured we will service your packaging needs and more. Please contact us and let’s discuss your needs.

Why You Always See A Rainbow Of Fruit On Juice Packaging

Contributor Ryan Canady waxes poetically (well maybe not) on the wonders of the rainbow of fruit on juice packaging? Read on.

If one were to stop by any grocery store in the country and approach the juice aisle, they would be greeted by row after row of options. Everything from national brands promoting their 100% juice content to drinks that barely rank as more than sugar-water would be available. However, despite the actual product contained within, all juice packaging will almost inevitably feature a whole host of different types of fruits pouring out.

Why Some Heavy On The Images?

Images play a large role in everyday life, there is little question about that. At the same time, it is reasonable to assume that most consumers make purchases based on price considerations and other facts. Not so says a lot of marketing research. In his landmark marketing book “Brandwashed” Martin Lindstrom talks about how the use of images on juice containers promotes the idea of freshness in the minds of shoppers,

“In the fruit juice world, it’s a generic rule of thumb that the more fruit a manufacturer displays on the side of the juice carton, the greater will be our perception of freshness..”

Subtle cues like this often lead consumers towards certain types of purchases and away from others.

What This Type Of Marketing Says About Packaging In General

A key takeaway lesson from this example is that packaging matters for what it can do to our subconscious minds as much as anything else. While some concrete measures such as reducing the amount of plastic used or making the container easier to carry appeal to some shoppers, other less obvious cues matter a lot more.

Pay special attention to colors, text, images, and perception as much as anything else when creating the packaging for a particular item. These factors weigh heavily on how much a product sells.

Contact us for other important information about product packaging and the role it plays in getting products off the shelves and to the cash registers.


The Key Ingredient Your Start-Up is Missing

MAD Contributor-Freak Carrie Schuessler wants your brand to start out right.

You’ve put money into a facility, insurance, equipment and inventory. But if that’s all, your start-up isn’t ready to… well… start up. You’ve forgotten branding. It’s as if you’re about to publish a book without a cover. No matter the incredible content, why would anyone pick it up off the shelf?

Branding answers these key questions:

  • What do you offer?
  • How is it different from the competitor?
  • What promises are you making your customers?
  • What is your company’s “voice?” Quirky? Formal? Off-beat or straight-laced?

In his article for Entrepreneur, The Basics of Branding, John Williams writes,

Are you the innovative maverick in your industry? Or the experienced, reliable one? Is your product the high-cost, high-quality option, or the low-cost, high-value option? You can’t be both, and you can’t be all things to all people. Who you are should be based to some extent on who your target customers want and need you to be.

But why make branding a focus at the earliest stages of your firm’s launch? Why not focus on the nuts and bolts of the operation before delving into elements like logo design and packaging? In her article How Important is Small Business Branding Really? Jessica Bosari of Forbes writes,

Brand recognition is vital in securing business; a buyer can’t purchase your product if he can’t remember who you are or how to find you. The best companies are those whose brands are easy to remember and instantly recognizable.

How much should a start-up spend on marketing? The Small Business Administration recommends spending anywhere from 3 to 8% of projected gross revenues on advertising and branding, although many retail firms may need to spend as much as 20%.

We know what you’re thinking. Money is already tight. You can’t incorporate branding and advertising as part of your start-up company’s budget. But think again. At The MAD House we specialize in this very service at a very competitive rate. By hiring freelance talent from giant national agencies, we can put together an impressive branding campaign to suit any budget. Contact us today to get started!

A New Office and More


Well folks, in June The MAD House packed up all of its stuff and bid Austin, Texas farewell. We landed in a little slice of paradise on the Northwest Florida Gulf Coast, or as the marketing pieces call it, The Forgotten Coast.  So, our address says Carrabelle, but we’re not actually in Carrabelle. That’s where our PO Box is. Many reasons for the move, mostly personal. Let’s just say it was time and we’re glad to be here.

Cow abunga
Cow abunga

We miss Austin and all of its cool. We miss our friends, Barton Springs, the music, Maudie’s, Bert’s BBQ, Gueros, Gourmands and too many other favorite restaurants, and the crazy-good craft beer scene – all of the things that will make it fun to visit Austin. We don’t miss the trying-too-hard-to-be-hipness, the insane traffic, the overtaxed (literally) and underperforming infrastructure, the 100-plus degree days, and the influx of outworlders – all things that will make it easy to come back home to Florida after visiting Austin.

Life moves a different pace here. Many restaurants in the area are only open Thursday through Sunday when the tourists flock to the area for fishing, beaching, birding, golfing and exploring. I found a few places with craft beer. There’s even a craft brewery (Oyster City Brewing) over in Apalachicola and another in Tallahassee (Proof). Beer festivals are in full swing right now with fests within easy “driving-to” range – though, a hotel in lieu of the “driving-back” is probably a good idea. For a fairly rural area, Florida’s law enforcement agencies give this area of the state plenty of attention. Following the rules of the road makes for a happy trip.


We find that extra planning goes into our travels to nearby bergs. You know, while in Crawfordville (30 miles away) visiting the screen printer, be sure to stop at WalMart for bacon (because name-brand bacon costs twice as much at the local IGA, and I needs my bacon). Or, if I’m heading to Tallahassee (50 miles away) to go to the airport or, say, meet with that beer prospect, better hit Costco for gas, bottled water and K-cups. Then swing by Whole Foods for produce (making sure to take the ice chest so I can keep things cool and fresh until I get home), and grab shrimp at that seafood place in Panacea because the seafood place in Carrabelle is closed today. These little things can have an impact if not carefully planned. Can’t just run over to the HEB for dinner fixings or grab a T-Man from Bert’s for lunch anymore.



Yep, it’s a bit different here. That’s what we fell in love with when we first visited a couple of years ago. Work is still the same for us both. We both are able to work from our home offices like we did in Austin. As long as we have cell coverage and internet, we’re in good shape. The airport’s an hour away when we need to travel. And work, we do. It can be quite consuming. Sometimes, even though we’re in the same house, we don’t see each other the entire day.

And that’s O.K. Because, on a Friday afternoon, we can knock off a little early and head for the beach. In the evening, I can take Mrs. MADHouseLarry to our favorite spot on “the island” for hot shrimp, redneck caviar and cold craft beers while the blazing orange sun sets into the bay. We like this place. It’s a delightful blend of locals and tourists all ready to put the week behind them and slide into island time for the next two days. Everyone is happy. Everyone is friendly. No one is trying-too-hard-to-be-hip.

Sunset following a summer storm over Appalacicola Bay


Next time:  Some new stuff The MAD Freaks have been working on.

For the Second Year in a Row, Movember: A Hairy Month

The following is a copy of my Movember kick-off post from last year. Below it are some important updates. I hope you will support me this year in my efforts to raise awareness and dollars for research for men’s health.

It’s Movember, the month formerly known as November, which is dedicated to growing moustache and raising awareness and funds for men’s health. I have joined the movement and will be donating my upper lip to the cause for 30 days. My moustache (Mo) will spark conversations, and no doubt generate some laughs; all in the name of raising vital awareness and funds for cancers affecting men.

Late ’70s Mo’
Early ’80s Mo’

Now, if you knew me in the ’80s, you know how scary the idea of me in a moustache can be. Now add a couple of decades of spotty gray whiskers to that and now it really gets scary. Here’s something scarier.

My dad has prostate cancer.

He’s had a number of surgeries and treatments to control it since its diagnosis over 15 years ago. Recently, we learned that the cancer spread to his femur and maybe his spine. We are working with a good team in Austin to try and knock it out before it goes much farther. He’s a real trooper and maintains a positive outlook. So far so good!

So, the Larry-moustache isn’t quite as scary now. Help me raise money to fund cancer awareness, research, educational and support programs. Compared to the reality of over 200,000 men being diagnosed with prostate cancer, and another 30,000 deaths in 2010, giving a little dough is a lot less scary.

Why am I so passionate about men’s health?
*1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime
*A man is diagnosed with prostate cancer every 2.2 minutes
*1 in 2 men will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime
*24% of men are less likely to go the doctor compared to women.

Please support my efforts by making a donation at
You can even write a check payable to “Movember Foundation”, reference my name and Registration Number 2503024 and send it to: Movember Foundation, PO Box 2726, Venice, CA 90294-2726

We only have a month to grow Mo’s and raise awareness and funds, so please come along for the ride. Donate and I’ll update you with the slow growth on my lip. Mmmm.

Funds raised will help make a tangible difference to the lives of others. Through the Movember Foundation and their men’s health partners, the Prostate Cancer Foundation and LIVESTRONG, Movember is funding world class awareness, research, educational and support programs which would otherwise not be possible.

Last year’s result (after going through the Bering Sea Gold Photoshop filter)


My Dad has lived with prostate cancer for more than 20 years. It has not easy for him. Surgeries, radiation, metastasized cancer on his leg. He’s a trooper. Finally, he was able to begin an oral medication last year. His PSA numbers plummeted to almost undetectable. We’re not sure how long the medication will hold the cancer in check, but we are thankful!

Serious Men, Pissed at Cancer. Dad & Me after one of his chemo sessions.

If you know me, then you know it takes me about 5 days to grow a 5 o’clock shadow. But, I’m up for this because it raises awareness and helps fund research. It’s this kind of research that has my dad on oral medication for his prostate cancer. And this stuff is working. The cancer hasn’t spread since it initially metastasized to his femur. Radiation knocked that out and he’s cranking right along.  Your donations to causes like Movember helped this happen. For this, I thank you. But we cannot stop now. We cannot stop until we can find a way to stop cancer from starting. Growing a mo is a cakewalk compared to the stuff he and other folks living with cancer go through. Give today, please!

For more details on how the funds raised from previous campaigns have been used and the impact Movember is having please click on the links below:

About Movember
Prostate Cancer Foundation research

Awareness & Education
Global Action Plan

Thank you for donating at and for helping me change the face of men’s health. Go the Mo!

Movember is a registered 501 (c)(3) charity, donations are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!