From July 2010

Five for Friday, July 23

Sales and marketing have always had a love / hate relationship. Both think they know better than the other. And because sales teams are so focused on the revenue, they can miss the subtle aspects of nurturing leads before the sale. Great post on how sales stepping on marketing’s dialogue to sell can really kill the deal and a case for patience in long sales cycles.

No comment means you’ve got something to hide.
And it’ll make your detractors work that much harder to sniff you out. The always insightful Valeria Maltoni argues the case for thoughtful commenting offers seven great ways to show you’re engaged. Not to mention this is something you can incorporate into your daily workflow – it shouldn’t take a herculean amount of time. It’s the little things that matter more than ever.

It was the provocative title that drew me in but I’m including it as one of my Friday Five because it’s a powerful concept. The promiscuous idea talks about how an idea might go stale, but find life when someone discovers it and combines with another. It then takes on a new dimension. Ideas are cheap and plentiful. The payoff is in the successful execution. What ideas do you have that need that something extra? And how can you combine it with another to generate results?

I don’t have an iPad yet, but this app sure makes me want one. Flipboard seems to be the game-changing start of how we’ll consume media in the future by making it more relevant and user friendly. It’s all about delivering a great user experience through design. What is it? Flipboard turns your Facebook or Twitter account into a magazine. Finding the relevant content and serving it up in a way that engages. Take a look!

Old Spice gets it right. Every marketer’s dream is for their campaign to go viral. This is a great interview with the creators of the successful Old Spice video campaign everyone’s talking about just week after the launch. It goes through their thinking behind the scenes and shows the importance of having clear goals and processes for managing. But don’t think you can just find success by copying them. You’ve got to find out what’s relevant for your market – your people – and apply the methodology behind this in your own unique way. And just remember that you can never guarantee success with every campaign.

The role of print and the well-crafted image in the digital world

Last week I spent a few days in Chicago working with Chip Forelli – a great photographer who starts in Analog – film – and ends in digital. We talked about the speed of digital and the loss of attention to detail and craft because of the immediacy. Digital removes a thinking step in the process as well as the old wait for the film to be developed. So you have a dearth of me-too images that all look much the same and lower quality overall because since anyone can shoot a picture, they do. And lack the polish of a thoughtful composition and high production values.

What does this have to do with communication?  Lots. In the speed at which we can execute, sometimes the art of communicating – the nuances, the emotion, color and thinking about the desired end result are lost. Both in words and pictures. Look at Chip’s work and you can feel the mood and movement. They evoke an emotion within. And combine that with well constructed words and you have something special. Something that just might connect with those that matter to you. And cause you to matter to them.

Chip commented on how glad he was to have been trained in analog – using 8×10 film, learning darkroom processes and how to visualize an image concept and manipulate the light during exposure and printing process in the darkroom – and now in Photoshop – to achieve his vision. Something is lost when you don’t have that tactile experience – to have to think a bit before shooting. Now we press the shutter and the camera does it all for us. Email the photo or print it out and voila. your done! In theory.

When there’s a time delay and it’s just a bit harder to send or create a communication, we tend to think more about what we want it to achieve. Our time is valuable so we don’t want to squander it. Immediacy removes this step, but if we’re just adding to the clutter, what do we gain? And doesn’t that disrespect the time of those we’re trying to reach? I’m arguing for less is more. Make every communication count. Make people look forward to hearing from you.

Pay attention to the details – how you weave your words together and create images that evoke emotion. Images that are memorable and distinctive. That’s how you get attention. When it’s harder to communicate it forces us to work harder to make it count. We take the immediacy and ease of the digital world for granted. Not that long ago it was much harder to spread your messages. Not everyone had access. Now everyone does – as long as they’re connected to the net. And so we have an endless stream of communication and information. In short. Way too much clutter to slog through.

Also think about the experience of holding a message, a book, a card, or an image printed on fine paper in your hand. Imagine how it feels to hold it. To feel it. To feel the indentations of the letters pounded into a page of soft cotton rag paper. To see the smooth patina of a great image that makes the words next to it more powerful. To turn the pages and hear the paper. To anticipate what’s on the next page. Like wandering down a garden path where you don’t know what’s around the next turn. Make it rewarding to reach the destination – the end of your message. Leave them wanting more versus racing to the delete key.

Google might have a long memory, but you have to search. You might not come upon letters in 100 years from ordinary people like those from the World Wars that talk about what life is like. We’ll always be able to pick up a book. To look at the books someone’s read. Or written. And get a sense of who they were as a person. Is it possible to get the same feeling in the digital world? When we’re separated by an electronic screen? Walk into Independence hall in Philadelphia where the Declaration of Independence was written and you can almost feel the presence of the authors. What if everything they did were digital? Would you get the same feeling? The chills down your spine?

We can’t turn the clock back. Digital is here and I love the freedom it offers. The ability for me to share these thoughts with you. It’s magical how effortlessly we can access the world. But there’s still a time and place for a well-crafted letter or book or image that begs to live outside the digital world. That begs for you to touch it. And that has more meaning because of the form it takes. There’s a place for craft – the art of writing. And the art of the image.

Five for Friday, July 9

As Apple has surpassed Microsoft in capitalization and is one of the largest U.S. companies – and may become the largest – this overview of their playbook shows how they do it. What’s remarkable is that they were left for dead just over 10 years ago. Although the headline says Invincible Apple, I don’t believe any company is invincible. If Apple becomes evil – and if their rabid fans become disenchanted now that they’re on top vs. the poor underdog – they could fall. Also, it remains to be seen how the Droid smart phone market plays out and how much their ties with AT&T hurt them long term. But for now, they rock when it comes to beautiful, elegant, and simple product design that’s pretty tough to beat. And there are lessons here for any company to adopt, but the key is it can’t be superficial window dressing.

Measurement Guru K.D. Paine moderated #imcchat on Wednesday and passed along a couple of links in the process. What an incredible chat. While I’d heard of K.D., I wasn’t familiar with her work. Until now. Communicators need to demonstrate ROI for their efforts. Particularly in Social Media where at first glance it’s easy for those not actively participating to dismiss much of it as idle chatter. What I like about her approach is recognizing that there’s not one right way to measure because each company has different communication goals. She also identifies 27 unique types of conversations you can measure. What she provides is a practical roadmap that shows you an intelligent way forward that avoids the hype and fuzzy math. And combine this with her Social Media Measurement Checklist and you’re one your way to qualifying your efforts

In an era of everything digital and instantly available, I love the ethereal feel of Susan Burnstine’s photography. She’s found her visual voice through use of homemade medium format film cameras. To me it’s proof there’s always room for something made with our hands – and for unrefined imperfection in a world of digital perfection. She captures mood that elicits an emotional response. See for youself!

How Pete Cashmore grew Mashable - I’m always a fan of learning from others and hearing their story. I think it helps take the mystery out of the business process and provides actionable steps each of us can take in our own work and businesses. The key is to find the way to adapt concepts to fit rather than merely copying – which is no way to differentiate your brand. You need to innovate and reinvent – and for that there is no map. But hearing how others do it shows that they, too, started with that blank slate and figured it out along the way. This takes you to the first of four interview segments and I encourage you to watch them all.

Joe Pulizzi is always a great read and certainly a leading in the content marketing space.
And this is no exception. Why you shouldn’t do content marketing is a great list of red flags and a reminder not to do something just because everyone else is. You always need to tie it back to your business if you’re looking for tangible, measurable results.

The Friday Five – July 2, 2010

This salient post by B2B expert Christina Kerley provides the roadmap marketers should follow. No, there are no magic pills or secrets to success. It takes diligent focus and commitment. But she clearly articulates both the reason why and the path forward. Perhaps my best read of the week.

Following on the above, Brian Solis does an excellent job discussing the challenges of connecting brands with consumers. It’s relatively easy to implement the tools and slather on the varnish. What’s tough is forging that meaningful connection between brand and customer. A must read for communicators – and highlights the opportunity we have before us.

In the era of so-called easy, we often forget the hard work needed to achieve success. Sure some get lucky, but most of us have to put in the focus, the time and consistent effort to get there. And it’s easy to get disillusioned by the success stories we read as they gloss over the many failures, doubt, fears the person overcame. Hard work matters. There’s no substitute.
I always find Dan Pink an insightful read and this article is no exception. In it he uses Bob the Builder to highlight how we should not just tell ourselves we can achieve anything, but ask the question, Can I do this? Research cited shows that making this small mind shift delivers better results. Asking questions pays dividends.

I first heard about Clay Shirky’s new book, Cognitive Surplus from Seth Godin, who said it’s a provocative read or rather “world changing”. But Peter Kim’s review highlights the why – particularly the notion that media is the connective tissue of society. There are many books on my must-read list, but having read and appreciated his prior book “Here Comes Everybody”, this one has moved up the list. Important stuff for communicators.