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Posts from May 2010

May 31, 2010

Craig Kielburger Podcast by Shel Holtz, ABC

Craig Kielburger will be a keynote speaker the upcoming IABC International conference, June 6-9, in Toronto and will be exploring various issues.

Check out the podcast

IABC’s World Conference will explore many fascinating trends in communications, social media and public relations.

May 30, 2010

The quest for frisson - Roger Ebert: The Essential Article

I have been a longtime fan of Roger Ebert. If you don’t know know who he is or what he is battling, and winning, I must add, you can read the Esquire article.

Roger Ebert: The Essential Man

It has been nearly four years since Roger Ebert lost his lower jaw and his ability to speak. Now television's most famous movie critic is rarely seen and never heard, but his words have never stopped.

I too am an avid reader. When not swamped working, I try and read 2 - 3 books a week. I do not have a TV and feel that reading helps me think, create and maintain a certain state of mind, that in this world of chaos (shootings, war and poverty), incompetence (BP, car recalls and our politicos) and general pop culture nonsense (Hi Britney!), reading keeps me sane. Well, as sane as I can be?

I have followed Roger Ebert on Twitter (@ebertchicago) since day one. You should too. This is a man of pedigree, sensibilities and depth. Regardless whether you agree with his politics, you should hear him out. it is like reading a good book.

This latest article by him is so thought provoking, so deep in meaning - I suggest you go read it. Will do ya good!

The quest for frisson

May 27, 2010

8 Tips For Improving CTR In Your Email Marketing Campaigns

by David Godot

Email marketing is a great way to build relationships with your client base. It is also a great way to build up action momentum. Each small action that your clients take with you makes it easier for them to take larger actions. This is why an improved clickthrough rate on your email marketing campaigns will ultimately lead to better conversions. Each clickthrough represents the subscriber's affirmation that what you offer them is valuable and worth acting on.

The eight tips that follow will help you to set this process in motion by making it easier for your email list subscribers to click through your links.

1. Keep your layout simple

Complicated, cluttered layouts distract subscribers from the central purpose of your newsletter. On top of this, differences in the way that popular email clients render HTML mean that a large percentage of your recipients will see the message differently than you intended. You'll have better results by keeping your template design streamlined and simple.

2. Link to full versions on your web site

Many newsletters offer a wealth of information that goes unnoticed due to the way that people read email. Your readers will have an easier time scanning through your messages for the content that interests them if you include only a teaser for each article followed by a link to the full version on your web site.

3. Add links to videos

Web videos are more popular than ever, and the "play" buttons on embedded videos are emminently clickable. To take advantage of this, include links to videos in your email messages that look like embedded videos. Simply take a still image of the video as it appears when embedded on your web page -- complete with the video controls -- and include that in your message as the link.

4. Place your primary call to action at the top

Most people overestimate the percentage of subscribers who will actually open their messages. More often than not, your message will be viewed inside of a preview pane and for just a couple of seconds. So, for maximum response, make sure that your most compelling call to action is visible when viewed in that manner.

5. Call to action again at the end

If you've sent out a really useful and interesting newsletter, then many readers will forget about your primary call to action by the time they reach the end. You can easily get them back on track by including a quick reminder as a "P.S." after your signature.

6. Restrict your offers

People are automatically attracted to things that are in short supply. You can utilize that in your email campaigns by limiting your offers to a specified length of time, or by including special offers to the first handful of people to respond.

7. Break your lists into smaller segments

The more targeted your message, the better response rate you'll get. You can really boost your clickthrough rates by breaking your lists up into smaller groups based on location, demographic, or even the <em>actions they have taken</em> in response to your previous messages.

8.Split test multiple versions of your message

The plain truth is that sometimes people respond to messages for reasons that are not easy to predict. Clickthrough rate can be significantly affected by minor changes in your message content or layout. To get the best response every time, create a few different versions of each message. Change up the subject line, call to action, visual design, and layout, and then test those different versions against one another to see which garners the best clickthrough rate.

David works for ActiveCampaign, makers of the industry-leading Email Marketing software package. Their software allows you to automatically test multiple versions of your mailings based on the actions you want readers to take. Once it has determined which version of your message is the most effective, the software will automatically send that version to the rest of your list. Also check out ActiveCampaign’s premier Survey Software package.

May 23, 2010

Back to Basics - Analytics from Google

Google Analytics is a free application that provides website visit statistics, designed to help marketers track and optimize online advertising and search engine marketing (SEM) campaigns. If you are interested in analyzing where your website visitors came from, page navigation, how long they stayed on your site, and geographic location, Google Analytics can certainly help you.

Continue reading "Back to Basics - Analytics from Google " »

May 20, 2010

Develop the Creative Craft (Part I)

One of my favorite courses I teach is Creative Development. It is an amazing team builder and so much fun to facilitate!

Developing the Creative Craft

Socrates wrote that inspired thoughts originate with the gods, ideas coming not when a person is rational, but when someone is "beside himself", when "bereft of his senses. Since the gods take away reason before bestowing the gift of inspiration, "thinking" might actually prevent the reception of divinely inspired revelations.
The word "inspiration" is based on a Greek word meaning the God within.

How do I know if I am, or could be, creative?

Every living, breathing human being has the potential to be creative. Each of us is a unique individual capable of creating...it comes with the human territory. We are, simply, quite a creative species.

All people can be creative but those who are recognized as being creative have an awareness that others don't. Creative people seem to be able to tune in more to their thought patterns and glean great ideas. People who do not use their creative potential don't know how to do this or aren't even aware it is possible. Creative people can start thinking about something then forget it.

Meanwhile, their brains are still thinking about it. Later on, the person will start thinking about whatever it was again and their brain will say, "Excuse me, I've been thinking about this while you were off doing other things and I have a few ideas. Care to hear them?" Non- creative people don't know that their brains are working for them off- shift -- they don't know what they don't know!

There are many components that influence the creativity of individuals. This is not to say that people tremendously fluctuate in their creativity day-to-day and hour-to-hour; the opposite is often believed - that some individuals are generally more creative most of the time than others. The reasons why some people are more creative, however, are many.
  • Without the abilities needed to do the creative act, it is highly unlikely the individual will do the act. Just because a person has the ability to do something, however, does not necessarily mean that the person will do it. This is why researchers examine people's motives.
  • Without the motivation to do so, it is unlikely that a person would complete an act, regardless of the person's abilities.
  • Lastly, opportunities in the environment can affect the creativeness of individuals and groups of individuals.
  • If you've ever generated a novel response to a problem or challenge then congratulate yourself as being creative. If you do this on a regular basis, say every day, then put the "creative person" badge on yourself. With, practice, your ability to generate novel and useful responses to problems and challenges will greatly improve.

One aspect of a creative personality is the fluency with which he/she generates a number of new ideas. Not only does the creative person think of good ideas, but he/she can think of many ideas, explore them, and record them. If you feel a need to quantify your creative ability, go to a local psychologist and ask about taking a test to measure your creative ability. If you live near a college or university approach their psychology department with this request. But recognize that creative ability can be learned, improved upon, and increased over time.

(From World Artist Directory)

Part II - What can I do to increase my creativity?

May 19, 2010

Social Media Marketing For Your Organization

May 18, 2010

Best of the Decade

I saw that at this year's Marketing Awards they will be picking out the Best of the Decade ad campaign. You can go here to pick your favorite.

It got me thinking ... what is a great ad? Here is a short primer ...

Have a look at your ads. Take a gander and ask yourself the following questions.

  1. Is there one big idea?
  2. Does the ad discriminate you from your competitors?
  3. Does the ad involve the target customer?
  4. Does the ad establish a relationship with the customer?
  5. Is it credible - is it genuine?
  6. Is it simple and clear?
  7. Does it integrate the Brand name with the central idea?
  8. Does it take full advantage of the medium?
  9. Is the idea campaignable?
  10. Does it build the personality of your Brand?
  11. Does your ad offer a major benefit - is it specific or vague?
  12. Is the benefit easy to grasp, can the audience get it at a glance?
  13. Does the attention getting element in the ad draw the audience to the benefit - or is it a gimmick for its own sake?
  14. Can readers identify with the copy and the visuals?
  15. Is the ad logically organized?
  16. Does the copy really create a desire to own or use the product/service?
  17. Is the copy believable?

May 15, 2010

"Happiness Machine" from Coke

This was sent to me in an email.


Coca-Cola could have just handed out some free coke, but decided to create a  "Happiness Machine" in the student commons area of a University.

It sure looks like a regular vending machine, but this group of college students was in for a surprise.

This vending machine takes quarters and gives out smiles.

YouTube - Coca-Cola "Happiness Machine"

What is everyone's take on this? Two thumbs up? Great viral? Or????

May 14, 2010

You talkin to me?

taxi driverEffective communications. I love it. For years I have made a living at it, teach it at Universities and try to help clients understand how to do it. It is, however, not easy.

The internet has been a boon to communications and has in someways pointed out just how poor we are at communicating effectively.

Albert Mehrabian of UCLA discovered   7% of the communication is the words, 38% is tone of voice and 55% is facial expression. Ergo a posting online or in an email leaves out 93% of the important stuff. Sure we have smileys :) but they are simply not enough.

So how would we be effective on this Net thing when, we Cluetrain fans say, it is all about Conversation? Well, it is not really a conversation is it?

If so much of effective communication revolves around tone and expression, then how are we to effectively communicate online on our Blogs, websites, email and the like?

It all comes down to writing skills. Having a voice. Your individual voice.

Lewis Lapham is one of my favorite writers - In fact in this month's Golf Digest there is a great article on his Grand Father who was Mayor of San Francisco. (This is not online - go buy the magazine. Boy, can he write!)

In one of my favorite interviews of this writer ...

In response to Orwell's quote Politics and the English Language, that "One ought to recognize that the present political chaos is connected with the decay of language, and that one can probably bring about some improvement by starting at the verbal end." Do you think we're not teaching our students to write anymore, and that is part of the solution to this problem of restoring the democratic [discourse]?

Lapham said ...

It isn't only that people don't learn to write, because they don't acquire the habit of reading. It takes time to teach people how to write. You have to learn grammar and syntax, and you must read because there's no other way to learn it. And that's not the way it's [taught] in many of our schools. We're not teaching it that way.

Ten years ago I taught a course at Yale University in writing, and it was a course for credit, it was not just one of these visiting celebrity type things. These are very bright kids, they were juniors and seniors, and I had twelve of them in the class, and I made the mistake of saying -- it was thirteen weeks, and I said there'd be a paper every week. I had no idea how hard that was going to be to correct those papers. These were kids that supposedly wanted to become writers of some sort, and so the first essay I assigned them was "What do you read?" And "very little" were the answers on the twelve papers. I mean, they read one or two magazines and they would read -- let's say as a junior they would read Dickens' Great Expectations and they'd read it very carefully and they'd be able to analyze -- you know, follow the course instruction and analyze it on five levels of allegory and six levels of symbolism, and so forth. And then I'd say to them, "Well, did you ever read another novel by Dickens?" and it had never occurred to them! Of the twelve kids in the class, three could write, three almost could write, and the other six simply couldn't. It was painful. They were very, very bright, but their heads were filled with images.

I've seen eighth grade examinations that were given in Kansas in the 1880s and there's no Harvard student in the world that could even come close to passing one of these tests. Because without the phone and without the television, people would read. I, at one point, was going to do a television show on the exploration of the American West in the 1840s, the Western movement, and I read letters, many, many letters from individuals traveling in the trans-Mississippi west, writing back to their families in the east, and they're amazingly wonderful letters. The spelling's not right, but the fluency of the language and the ease -- and these are not university students. But it was a natural language. It was as natural to them to write as it would be to us to talk on the telephone.

I personally found this out myself. just out of curiosity I would ask my classes at York University " What books are reading currently? " Most said they were not.

To write effectively, requires reading.

Again a quote from Lapham ...
1941 the average vocabulary of a high school senior was something like 9000 or 10,000 words, and four or five years ago when I last saw the statistic it was down to 5000 words. That's a result of television, of the broadcast discourse.

To alleviate this, the way we write, I believe, should be the way we speak. It is a start until you develop your style or voice. My personal voice ticks people off sometime. I am sorry about that, but it is my voice and, right or wrong, it gets the point across. I have never written to get everyone to agree with me. I write down what I believe. And put my heart on my sleeve.

So try fewer acronyms, less fumbling to try and craft the perfect sentence - spit it out!

May 12, 2010

Quick survey

May 11, 2010

Steve Jobs Makes Us Re-think Web Design

steve jobs

Apple recently announced that they have absolutely no plans to enable Flash content on iPhones, iPods or iPads and this has made everyone in our business re-think the utilization of Flash in web content. But the more conventional wisdom would be to think multi-platform. Think inclusive rather than exclusive.

What this announcement really brings home is the difference between the wired and mobile web. The world is changing and mobile devices are leading the way. If popular devices such as Apple's repertoire do not support one of the most popular animation applications on the internet, an adaptation or a correction if you will, has to take place somewhere down the line.

One thing seems certain. The adaptation will not come from Apple. They have listed reason after reason why their devices will not support Flash.. And all these reasons are quite valid. Apple believes in the open web, and Flash is closed and proprietary (even though many of their products, including the operating system on the iPhone, iPod and iPad are proprietary). This closed third-party architecture can be quite ubiquitous for developers when trying to integrate with these platforms. From a more basic perspective, Flash doesn't support touch navigation, which is a biggie, and can be a big drain on battery life. Another biggie.

So I get it. I understand Apple's position. It makes sense.

That doesn't change the fact that this stance they are taking is completely incompatible with today's web. So many sites offer Flash today as a central part of their content. The smart sites detect if a the Flash player is available, and if it is not, it serves up a boring placeholder image, and that cool user experience is lost. It's not Apple's fault. It certainly isn't Adobe's fault. And it also really isn't the designer's fault either. It is the fault of the web as we know it today. The web is primarily designed for the wired, not the mobile device.

Yes, there are plenty of mobile versions of sites being produced. Basically, these are stripped down versions of websites, lightweight interpretations that play nicely in the mobile world. But the iPhone offers an interface canvas that can easily allow for all the bells and whistles. The iPad in particular certainly should be able to keep up with the media rich content of today's web, no? Considering that you can play HD quality video on the thing!

What we have here is a complete change from what we expected a few years ago. Back then we were starting to see platforms coming together, making web design simple in that it was truly becoming a build once, run anywhere medium. But that has changed because the media has changed. Mobile users demand that content be delivered compatible with the devices they own, and at the same time, they will be unimpressed with the overly stripped-down. We are reaching a time where content from the world wide web will need to dynamically and drastically adjust for the platform, and web designers will be challenged to make that happen. Even more challenged will be the agencies as they try to convince their clients that they don't just need to add the mobile version for their website, but the iPad, or touch navigation version as well.

May 10, 2010

Why trying to sleep with everyone never gets you into bed with anyone.

fabioImagine this – you walk into a multi-hearted, multi-minded, multi-walletted bar. You are dressed to the nines, you move like Adonis and have a buttercup-strawberry-coffee-musk-coconut-olive-oil-machine-grease scent about you. You are buying drinks for the rest of the night because you’re there to pick everyone up and to take them all home with you.

Chances of scoring? Slim, and only with those into free-riding, multi-partner, one-night stands. Not a recipe for long-term relationships is it?

No, I knew you’d agree.

Then why do most businesses court customers in the same way?

I recently facilitated a workshop for a public listed company that exceeds CAD1 billion revenue and who defines their single consumer segment as adults between ages 18 and 55 and their business segments as those companies above and below 100 employees respectively.

You may say “Hey, at CAD1bn turnover they must be doing something right…so who cares”.

Well, I do ... and they should!

How much money is lost and resources wasted on trying to mean something to everyone? I’ll tell you – a lot.

Imagine if this business took that one segmentation, split it into four, made sure it meant something to each of the groups and courted accordingly. I can guarantee you that not only would revenue and profits increase significantly, but potential customers would actually be interested in what the business had to say and, perish the thought, be even more interested in what it had to say next.

The multiplier-effect of a meaningful segmentation is staggering, especially in a world where media fragmentation is exploding and prospective customers’ desires to listen are waning.

Personally I landed my beautiful actress wife only when I stopped trying to be everything to all fish and started being me to those I really wanted. It’s tough not being attractive to everyone but then again it’s better to have one than none.

The sooner businesses realize and action this the richer they will be.

May 05, 2010

Prioritize your Strategic Initiatives

Strategic planning is a great way to identify which initiatives can add the most value to your organization. The next step is to prioritize initiatives with a systematic method. Use our downloadable Priority Index Tool to guide you through the prioritization process, and help you drill down on the value added for each proposed initiative.

What are the Most Important considerations?

  • Customer Value Proposition (CV) - what value does this deliver?
  • Economic Upside Potential (UP) – what impact could this have on revenue?
  • Industry Attractiveness (IA) – How well is this competitively positioned?
Strategic Fit
  • Fit with Company Goals & Objectives (CG) – is this aligned to our goals?
  • Ease of Implementation (EI) – how difficult would this be to do?
  • Skills & Resources (SR) – do we have the required resources in-house?

  • Over Forecasted Budget (OB) – how likely is this initiative to go over-budget?
  • Over Forecasted Timeline (OT) – how likely is this initiative to go over-time?
  • Technical Risk & Complexity (TR) – how complicated is this initiative?

Action Plan:
  1. Consult your Strategic Plan – review your strategic plan and add each proposed marketing initiative into your Priority Index Tool.
  2. Evaluate each Initiative - score each initiative based on its feasibility, strategic fit, and risk, to obtain a score out of 100 for each.
  3. Sort your Priority Index – once you have completed the scoring process, sort your initiatives by total overall score (highest to lowest).
  4. Delegate & Execute – now that you have prioritized your initiatives, start with your most important & urgent projects. To optimize your efficiency, hand off less strategic initiatives to your team for completion.
  5. Review Next Quarter – get into the habit of updating your strategic plan each quarter, and revisit this prioritization process to ensure you can adapt to changes in your business environment.


A strategic plan with out rigorous prioritization will not be effective. Develop a strong and systematic prioritization process to ensure you are delivering maximum value, given your time & resources.

May 03, 2010

Where have all the swords gone?

swordBack in the day brands would stand on the mountain top and shout their sole purpose for existing - the one compelling reason people should make them part of their everyday lives. I remember days of yore where businesses would go to war to defend their value-propositon and rally resources around ensuring they had purpose in people’s hearts.

But alas, those days seem to have gone.

A classic case in point is Toyota. Back then Quality with synonymous with the manufacturer along with its sidekicks Reliability and Dependability. This holy-trinity took it from a Japanese domestic producer to a global juggernaut that redefined manufacturing with the constructs of JIT (just-in-time) management and Kaizen respectively. If you listen carefully you can almost hear the fading echoes of the single-mined zaibatsu screamings from the top.

Where did it go wrong? How can a brand built on the bastion of Quality, an excellent thing, have its offspring recalled due to its lack thereof?

Oh cry the beloved car.

I believe they did one thing wrong – they decided to muddy their sole-purpose-for-being with other purposes for being in the hope of capturing more owners.

Fragment your laser-like focus and you land up where Toyota is today…back on the mountain top screaming Quality on deaf ears. Problem is exactly that, the damage has been done. Toyota has broken the trust of its people, much like a partner finds out their partner has been cheating. No matter how much they work on the relationship there will always be a whispering doubt that it could happen again.

Now what I do admire about Toyota is that they had a single brand purpose to begin with. Most brands don’t – they may think they do but they don’t. And that is why I wish Toyota the best of luck because they are embarking on something that is one of the hardest things to do in business – regaining something that you once were a leader in but lost along the way.

I am infinitely interested in this outcome as it will serve as a great case supporting Kevin Roberts’ and Saatchi’s philosophy of Lovemarks, the likes of which create loyalty beyond reason.

I leave you with this – a business must find its sword and fall upon it at every opportunity because only then will people keep choosing to include it in their everyday lives. And please, keep the sword in its pure-form.

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