Inspiration Everywhere

I love this article by Fast Company – 4 Ways to Find Inspiration Everywhere.  I think I

By TZA on Flickr - Creative Commons Lic.

enjoyed it because I have lived much of their “4 ways” and I wanted to write my notes about the topic.

1. Challenge Your Preconceived Notions

This maybe the hardest habit to break. It is easy to fall back on “what we are doing is working, so why change.” Change is good for you and your organization. Companies that embrace change move forward faster. I can think of a couple of companies in the Metro Detroit area that embrace change daily. It is part of their company DNA – Valassis Communications & Menlo Innovations. Both companies live-eat-breathe concepts that kick preconceived notions in the butt. Valassis has a mantra of “what you did yesterday was great – what are you going to do today to improve upon it.” They celebrate even when there is a failure in a project – because they learn and improve from failure. Menlo has a huge sign on their wall – “Make Mistakes Faster.” Probably my favorite sign in the whole world. Menlo also embraces change from the daily rat race of other industry businesses. You have to visit them to see it in action.

I liked one of the comments on the article from  Fast Company – If you’re always afraid to try new things because they might not work, you’re going to have a tough time cultivating your more creative side!  I could not have said it better myself!

 2. Plan Creative Stoking Sessions

I have a lot of creative friends. If I were to poll most of them I think I would find that their responses agree with the article. They don’t make enough creative time. Being creative is not a button you can push on the back of your head to turn it on. It doesn’t always blurt out of your brain. I really think that non-creatives believe we just turn on the creative side and “blop” something wonderful out. I guess I always think of it like a cat – the cat is usually not spontaneously purring, although some cats do that sometimes, for the sake of argument here…let’s say they don’t. Then a human strokes (stokes a response) the cat, and the next thing you know the cat is purring.

Creative sessions do not need to be rigid – the less rigid the better. I like to doodle zentangles – they are not rigid and they make my brain think a little differently.

3. Change up Routine Regularly

This is critical – if you don’t change your routine you are destined to get stuck! A routine is a routine. Start looking at ways you can flip your day

4. Find What Creates Mind Space for You

When I worked at Ford, most of my job was very analytical. Often though, they (bosses, coworkers) would come to me and ask me to do something creative – make a logo, create a website, etc. I had ways I could turn my brain into something more creative, but it took some stoking. I would watch Cirque du Soleil videos on YouTube or go to sites with lots of bright colors – anything to change the brain from analytical to creative.

I have one more to add to the list that was not on the original article.

5. Move Around

There is a reason why so many creatives use desks at which they can sit or stand. Some have even added a treadmill to their standing desks. Movement isn’t just for your overall body, but it is also very good at getting your brain in action. So get up and move, take a walk around your building, go outside and walk a block – anything to get those brain synapses working!

Keywords: #creativity, #inspiration, #creative session, #inspiration

Qualitative vs Quantitative Research

I teach “Principles of Marketing” at night at our local community college. I love teaching. analysis

The chapter that seems to cause the most problems every semester is the chapter that covers marketing research. The students always get stuck on what is qualitative vs. quantitative research.

So let’s make this simple.

Quantitative research implies that there is the ability to somehow “quantify” the results of a question.

This means you can use anything with a number as the response:

Quantitative research implies that there is the ability to somehow “quantify” the result of a question.

This means you can use anything with a number as the response:

    • Likert scale“On a scale of 1-5 with 1 being I don’t like it and 5 being I like it a lot – how do you rate the new flip top lid on our BBQ sauce”
    • Anything that can be measured (measurements, quantity, age, temperature, etc.) – “Please pour out the normal amount of our BBQ sauce you would use on your chicken breast after it has been cooked” (measure the sauce in ounces)
    • Yes/No questions (because they are finite and you can assign a number to it: Yes = 1, No = 0) “Would you buy the redesigned BBQ sauce with the squeezy bottle and flip top lid?

 

 

Qualitative research is “touchy feely,” more about “quality” or perceived quality. This type of research uses open ended questions that allow the respondents to answer openly without restrictions.

Questions such as:

  • “Are there other enhancements to our packaging of our BBQ sauce that you would like to see?”
  • “When you tasted the BBQ sauce sample A – what did you like/dislike about the taste of sample A?”
  • “Please taste the cooked BBQ chicken breast we cooked on a grill. Describe the texture and taste as a grilled BBQ sauce.”

If you have trouble remembering which is quantitative and which is qualitative, the quickest way to remember is that quantitative is about numbers and qualitative is about quality.

Keywords: #marketingresearch #research #qualitative #quantitative

Social Media Etiquette

 

Social media: the one place where if you make a mistake, it may live on longer than you. Social Media imageStars and politicians are most often noted for creating social media blunders and, because of their following,  they are sometimes publicly crucified and rightly so.

So how do you stop from making a social media gaffe?

  1. THINK before you push the message out.
    That may sound simple but think about it before you send it.
    Ask yourself some questions: 

    • Who will this benefit?
    • Is this something I would want my boss to read?
    • Am I benefiting my brand with this post?
  2. If unsure – don’t post until someone approves it.
    • Just because something might be controversial doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be posted – but maybe your boss should bless it before it goes out. 
  3. Be polite!
    • Very few people can get away with being rude. Of course, sometimes hardhitting facts get in the way of being nice. When that happens, at least be factual with links to back up your data.
  4. Use shortened URLs and social tools!
    • I use HootSuite for my posts and bit.ly for my shortened URLS – both have free versions and bit.ly has analytics available. With Hootsuite, I love that I can schedule my social posts in advance and if needed, I can postpone them to a later date. Additionally, HootSuite allows you to monitor your brand. Bit.ly gives me simple analytics to better understand if my links were effective. 
  5. Have a social media plan!
    1. Have an emergency plan built into this that indicates who/what when there is an emergency – who posts what. Don’t wait until the emergency happens – have something your attorney has already blessed. When I teach my students PR, one of the items I mention is having ALL of their emergency plans ready so they are not posting, talking to the media, etc. during a time of urgency.

Of all the items mentioned above, the one that should be stressed the most is the THINK! So many posts that get people in trouble are made when they are not thinking clearly.

Keywords: #pr, #publicrelations, #socialmedia, #etiquette, #hootsuite, #bit.ly

9 P’s of Marketing

The internet was the first giant, dynamic shift in Marketing in decades. Social Media was marketing-meter-with-product-and-promotion_G1G0efvOthe next frontier that marketers embraced and both have changed the way we market everything!

Marketing classes have promoted the 4 “P’s” of marketing since they were developed in the 1960’s by E. Jerome McCarthy. They are classics, still taught today in educational institutions. However many in the industry say there are more than 4 if you want to truly understand current marketing methods.

The classic 4 are:

  1. Product -a physical product or a service is your “product”. The product and it’s benefits are in a constant rotation of the product life-cycle and need help from the other “P’s” to compete in this hyper-competitive environment.
  2. Price – in most industries this is a rotating target based upon competition, industry as a whole, current trends and predictions of sales.
  3. Place – is where you sell your product, distribution channels, and now the internet (not part of the thought process in the original 1960’s model).
  4. Promotion – includes public relations, advertising, sales, events, white papers, websites, ad words, press releases, sponsoring events, training events and many more, but I think you get the idea. I also lump process into the promotion category predominately because process is a lot about promotion.
  • Additional “P’s” that belong under promotion, Permission based marketing, Partnerships, and Personalization.

Contemporary approach with new “P’s”:

5.  Purpose – This is my favorite “P” – if you do not know the “why and what” you want from any piece of marketing material before you distribute or create it – you might be wasting a whole lot of money. With all that is available today for tracking from landing pages to unique URLS and PURLS (personalized URLS) specific to a marketing piece – why aren’t you tracking as much as possible. Know in advance – is it brand awareness or a call-to-action. What numbers are you aiming for (Predictions) – an increase in website visitors, conversion from visitor to customer, or new customer leads – I think you get the idea – know the “why and what.”

6.  People – I used to think that people belonged in the promotion category – but there has been a swing in a new direction as people “evangelize” your product. They may be employees, internet bloggers, or just people that love your product talking about it. People are also key to innovation when they actually take the time to talk to a company about a like or dislike of a product. Remember what happened when Coke changed their Classic Coke – that was a people rebellion on a grand scale. Engaging with customers and their engagement with you is priceless. You can learn so much

7.  Processes – you can have a great product or service but if you don’t have the processes in place, you are likely to fail. Processes include a strategic marketing plan which feeds into the business plan for the company, and a marketing budget – all should have short and long term predictions. Process also includes A/B testing of ads, copy, who will be your social voice, and what will be your social voice. Mistakes can end up costing jobs or reputation.

8.  Philosophy – it is no longer sufficient to be a company with a product or service. You also often share your philosophies with the world. Menlo Innovations– often invites groups of people, even their competition, in for up to week-long sessions – to show off their philosophy for developing software via extreme agile project management and paired programming. Green energy firms – Accio Energy, eco-friendly cars – Smart Cars, and electric bikes – Current Motor Company – all have a philosophy behind them. It is part of their company DNA, it is what they live and breathe at work.

9.  Packaging – from traditional packaging to non-tactile packaging on the web for services or downloads, packaging your product or service becomes more and more important as the global market place is now your competition.

There are other “P’s” that could be added to the list, but I think this covers the main old and the new “P’s” of the marketing world.

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Social Media is Not Just a Fad!

If you Google “is social media a fad” you will find experts that fall on both sides of the audienceissue. However industry experts, in general, agree that social media is still one of the best tools for inbound marketing, it is not a fad, and not going away anytime soon.

A significant 92% of marketers said that social media was important to their businesses in a recent study by Social Media Examiner.  This was up from their 2013 report in which 86% said it was important. What most marketers find is that social media as a whole is important – but the channels shift from “in vogue” to fad status depending on the audience.

Social media opportunities change over time. Some, like podcasting, are seeing a resurgence and others, like Google Plus seem to finally be gathering more users. Social media channels are not all equal. You need to find where your customers are and use those channels to express your content. Fads within social media are part of the ever changing platform for companies to make sure they are on the proper channels. Google Plus has only recently been viewed with more acceptance, in the recent past it was perceived to be more faddish than other channels. Pinterest is a perfect example of something that initially was a fad but as savvy marketers realized the opportunity by using this channel, they jumped on board, using the channel to showcase to their products.

Marketers use multiple channels to reach their audience.   Some argue that it is too many channels to be effective, most marketers know – your customers are not all on one channel – they are usually on one or two and the message needs to be amplified on all channels that are relevant. Creating a cohesive brand representation and integrated social platform is the key to creating solid content and keeping it fresh. Social allows your brand to “manage the message”, and that is crucial to this form of advertising. Social media will be part of the overall marketing and communication package for a brand, and also art of the mission-critical business communication tool for all business objectives.

Interaction with your customers is also one of the key benefits of this form of marketing. Interaction you may not of had before, is now possible. A customer complains on twitter, reply in like channel, meaning reply on twitter. Recently I sent out a tweet about my disappointment in Dillards for a sign that was in their stores. They replied back immediately on twitter with an apology and something more interesting, they said someone else put the signs in the store. Now that makes me curious if it was someone that didn’t like Dillards, or if it was their competitor that posted the signs. What I do know is that they replied fast and succinctly.   This ability was not available before social media – the total turn around time from my post to their post back was in minutes.

Twitter conversation below:

GeekyMarketer  @Dillards – I expected more from you – who thought this was a good idea – http://t.co/8ypLqukDAY

Dillards  @GeekyMarketer We apologize to all that were offended by this story. The sign was not placed there by an employee & has since been removed.

According to the author of the book Digital Leader – “The ROI of social media is that your business will still exist in 5 years.” The truth is that we do not have a magic ball that will tell us what the future holds. While some channels may come in-and-out of popularity, this is why you hire good people to monitor your social efforts and to know when to change the message and the channel to meet growing needs. At this point in time social media is still ranking high with in-bound marketers and the future right now, and it looks promising for the continuation of this practice.

Keywords

#socialmedia #socialchannels #twitter #roisocial