From Creativity

52/13-03 – Blue

You can say you’ll take that chance once in a blue moon, or that you’re feeling blue. Perhaps you like to listen to the blues. Or for you it’s clear blue skies all the way. Maybe you live in a blue state and love the taste of fresh blueberries in the summer while watching the blue birds flit from branch to branch. However, it should be pretty clear that for the third of 52 visual explorations, this week is all about blue. Thankfully, we did have some of those clear blue skies we love!

52/13-02: Matter

This week is about matter, however you define it. Whether it’s brain ‘matter’, organic, transient matter or something more permanent. In the midst of a two-week New Year’s food cleanse, I happened to have this leftover cabbage, and not being a big fan of it, thought it was better suited to something other than my next meal . .

52/13-01: Path; first of 52 visual exercises for 2013

For the past few years I’ve assigned myself ongoing projects to sharpen the eye and stimulate my visual thinking. They’ve been pretty simple, requiring nothing more than sticking to it and taking a moment each day. I started with the daily sky, then followed the next year with a daily observation tied to a single word. In this one, I merely reacted to what I saw and experienced during the day, then later applied a word to the image. Rarely did I have to work to ‘find’ the image; they were just there as I went through the day. I’m continuing this project, but no longer limiting it to a single word, nor worrying about repeating a word during the year.
In an effort to stretch my visual muscles a little more, I’m embarking on a weekly image inspired by a word or phrase. The images will be driven by a word or phrase determined in advance. They may be found or created, photographic or drawn. Given my penchant for picking up a camera, I might even toss in some mixed media to push myself a little further. The key is that I don’t over think the concept, stay with the confines of time (must be created during that week), and that I let go and explore. There’s no client and no other objective outside of seeing how that influences writing and communication. Will this enhance my ability as a marketer? Or will it merely feed the creative spirit? We’ll see!


This first week is ‘Path’. We all like to have a clear path to follow with an ability to make our own. Sometimes there’s obstacles in the way of our chosen path, and other times, we look over the edge, wondering if we should take that leap. But to grow as individuals and increase our capacity to perform, there are times we must take that leap without knowing for certain whether we’ll sink or swim. It’s an act of faith. Most often, however, we’re limited by our fears and the stories our minds tell ourselves. When we do take that leap, it’s usually not as bad as we envisioned when we look back. Such experiences help us take the next leap and experience life rather than remain prisoners of our minds. So take that leap this year; push yourself to do something beyond what you tell yourself you’re capable of doing!


Shout Quietly

In the pursuit of qualified leads, marketers, when they’re not getting the response rates desired, are compelled to shout louder. To make bigger claims, so-called stronger offers and calls to action. Maybe inject a starburst or two. At the very least you’ll find one of these: !.


Yet still there’s no response. Why?


Because your customers are smart. They can smell your marketing – speak a a 1,000 pixels away. They see through your hollow claims and puffery. And ignore you. Because they know that once they fall for you flimsy claim, they’ll be disappointed. And even more jaded than the last time.

If it weren’t for the years they’ve been pounded with messages, you might have a chance. If it weren’t for the infinite number of channels they can go to, you might have a chance. It’s too easy to tune you out. And they know it. They have the power like never before.


When TV was born, advertising was new and shiny. The channels were few. Customers had to listen. It didn’t take long for ‘commercial’ to equate to bathroom break or time to make popcorn, but you didn’t have the clutter.


Now you have to work harder. Much harder. You have to make claims in plain, human language. Next generation, industry leading goodness doesn’t cut it.

No one wants to be sold.

The new buzzwords are join the conversation, engage and let’s have a relationship. Sounds warm and fuzzy – the right thing to do. But then again, customers don’t always want to have a relationship with you. They can’t have a relationship with every brand and service they purchase. Nor do they need one. Some are meant to be purchased and consumed.


I’m certainly not looking for a relationship with my olive oil of choice. Or my oil change service.

But a contractor? Or an accountant? Now that’s someone I want to get to know. And who I want to care about me. It’s tough to find a good one. Horror stories abound of contractors gone bad. Just ask Mike.


You still need to get the word out about what it is you do. You still need to confidently state why you’re the one people should choose. But it’s time for a much different approach. Forget SPAMMING and Screaming.


It’s time to shout quietly. What? A twist on the old show, don’t tell approach. Make every word count. Make your typography sing with  fine craftsmanship. Show that you care. As if you pasted each pixel on the page just so. Use images that not everyone else is using. How often do you see the same photos from iStockphoto used in a presentation? Or an ad? A lot. In fact, pay attention to the number of downloads on an image you’re thinking about. If it’s a lot, maybe you should find another one.


Keep it fresh. You know how a bowl of fresh fruit and fresh flowers make a room seem cleaner and shinier? Same goes with your marketing. We respond to what’s different.


When you pay attention to the craft – people notice. There’s a LOT of really GOOD stuff out there. The smallest details matter. Invest in them. Sweat them.  It’s the way you can shout quietly and still be heard. In fact you’ll be heard even more . . .


Funding Unsuccessful: Failure or reality check?

Last summer after a year of thinking about it, I began photographing the Twenty Bridges Project. Choosing film over digital for the slower pace it forced. The preciousness in that it’s not cheap so you must think about each frame. The trips to the lab. The waiting and anticipation. The hope that the images I created reflected what I saw in my mind. Film also offered the versatility of making really large prints compared with a typical 16 – 20 MB digital camera.

At the end of November I launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to create a gallery exhibition, book and short film on the twenty key bridges connecting the communities on the Oregon coast. The goal was to raise $5,000 to cover the costs of film, processing, scanning and printing of the show, as these costs were not insignificant and tough to justify in a digital world. Finding a publisher for the book would come later.

19 people backed the project, with $1,005 and I owe each of them a huge thanks for their support. It really meant a lot to me. Particularly CASUDI who not only backed it but wrote an incredible post about it. And Jackie, Jill and Mila. And then there were the backers I didn’t know who discovered the project during the 40 day campaign. Like Michael from The Lighthouse Gallery in Astoria expressed interest in hosting the exhibition.

A Kickstarter campaign is not just an opportunity to crowd source funding for a project, but to test proof of concept. Raise the funds and you know you’re on the right track. Fail to do so and you know your concept either needs to change or killed. Or do you?

43% of Kickstarter projects are successful. There are some incredible success stories like this project for an aluminum iPhone dock. But I don’t think that all of the 57% who don’t make it are completely flawed. This one has about a week left and likely may not make it either.

CASUDI once wrote about a successful fail which is about one of her projects – much more ambitious than mine. Everyone who commented to me about Twenty Bridges had positive things to say. Made me think I was on the right track. So why did it fail?

I think in part that I didn’t have a broad enough community to reach out to, particularly in Oregon. It was centered in Oregon versus something with broader human interest appeal. Or maybe it wasn’t packaged as well as it could have been. There are any number of reasons one cannot know for certain.

Everyone is also faced with many competing priorities. Demands for our attention, time, hearts and money. Each of us must choose carefully what we support and accept that there are many things that we must pass on.

While I certainly hoped for a positive outcome, it’s been an interesting experience. Forced me to put something out there. To take a risk. To ask my community for support. Not something I found easy as I prefer helping to asking. I always tried to be careful about how often and to whom I shared the project to avoid coming across as a spammer. Just as I dislike being spammed or coerced into action. I believed and continue to believe that on a project such as this, it either elicits an emotional response and support. Or not. And one shouldn’t try too hard nor force it. Just accept the outcome.

Same goes for brands. It’s about respect and relevance. Shouting louder only pushes people farther away.

So what’s next for the Twenty Bridges project? Kill it? Proceed as is but on a much slower, self-funded pace? Change it moving from film to digital, saving significant costs? I’ve found the work so far a wonderful break from my daily focus on B2B technology. Diverse projects add color and perspective to others. Everything is interconnected and you don’t always know where.

So we’ll see where Twenty Bridges will go from here. Whether it continues or morphs into something entirely different. Certainly there are new bridges to build. New bridges to cross. Stay tuned!