Our Solutions News Blog was envisioned to gather and share information from the very best to help you and your business to become more effective.
Everything Starts With An Idea
Here's a twist on Creativity and The Big Idea. Nothing is original, says Kirby Ferguson, creator of Everything is a Remix. From Bob Dylan to Steve Jobs, he says our most celebrated creators borrow, steal and transform. And how does copyright come into play. Embrace the remix.
Source: TED / Presenter: Kirby Ferguson
One Small Adjustment
What can you learn about perception from a social psychologist and body language expert? If you’re one of the 16 million people who have already watched Cuddy’s compelling TED talk -- you know there’s plenty to learn. Cuddy discuses how body language and even physical posture can affect not only others' perception of you, but your own self-perception as well. Could changing your posture change your life? It just might. Watch Cuddy’s TED talk and decide for yourself if an adjustment could alter your course.
Source: TED / Presenter: Amy Cuddy
“I feel stuck. Where should I go from here?”
It’s not uncommon to feel like there’s no obvious next step in your career. It’s hard work to guide yourself, especially when you’re walking into the unknown.
So what do you do when you feel stuck? Do you jump ship? Apply for a new role within your company? Or just stick it out? In the right context, any of those options could work out just fine. But how do you know which direction is right for you?
If you’re in marketing or a part of a big team, chances are you work with individuals with many different skill sets. Maybe you sit next to a woman named Tracie who’s a jane of all trades. It seems like there’s nothing she can’t do! Your other co-worker, Seth, might be the go-to-guy for all things analytics and reports. Sometimes he even holds team workshops on metrics and reporting tools.
Despite their differences, both Tracie and Seth are most likely equally valued by the company. Their roles represent two common directions an employee might pursue in one’s career, depth and breadth, and both are excellent paths to get yourself unstuck.
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Source: Hubspot / Written By: Rebecca Corliss
When was the last time YOU listened carefully, reflectively, meaningfully and thoughtfully to a ''world-class", college commencement speech?
If your kids recently graduated, then probably recently - - BUT DID that commencement speaker's message REALLY hit home for YOU - - as well as your child? If YOU graduated from college or grad school a while back, do you even remember what YOUR commencement speaker had to say, share, his or her life-forging reflections, admonishments, hard-won lessons shared?
Each of the 7 speeches here is unique, wildly different than one another, each profound in its message. Each addressed the subject of how to embrace, manage/master or understand the rest of your adult life - - from highly-original vantage points and unexpected, deeply reflective "life-lesson processes" - - that might be relevant to YOU right now - - as YOU grapple with a tumultuous, and massively, changing world. There are a lot of BIG IDEAS left to think up and explore.
When it comes to business, we talk too much about social media and expect too little. It’s like the old joke about sales people: one person says, “I made some valuable contacts today,” and the other responds, “I didn’t get any orders, either.” Companies measure the market results of their sales investments. But few have measures or even have accountable managers in place for their social media investments, and only 7% say their organizations “understand the exact value at stake from digital.” Meanwhile, according to a Gallup survey, 62% of U.S. adults who use social media say these sites have no influence on their purchasing decisions and only 5% say they have a great deal of influence.
Technology changes fast — remember MySpace and Friendster? — but consumer behavior changes more slowly. As a result, people tend to overhype new technologies and misallocate resources, especially marketers.
When banner ads first appeared their CTR was 10%, but that soon fell due to heavy usage by firms, and clutter. Research has long demonstrated that ad elasticities are generally very low, that firms often persist with ineffective ad media (because they have the wrong measures or no measures), and that companies routinely over-spend on ads (due to ad agency incentives, the fact that ad expenses are tax-deductible, and companies’ use-it-or-lose-it budgeting processes). Other research indicates that traditional offline consumer opinion surveys (when they use representative samples) are better at predicting sales than clicks, number of website visits or page views, positive or negative social media conversations, and search (although online behavior is good at tracking the reasons behind week-to-week changes in sales.)
With new media, therefore, great expectations are common and missing the goal is understandable: it takes practice and learning. But changing or dismantling the goal posts is a different story.
It’s now common to say that social media is “really” about awareness, not sales. Companies that “get” social media should be “relentless givers [who] connect instead of promote.” In fact, forget “traditional” ROI (that lovely qualifier), focus on consumer use of social media and, instead of calculating the returns in terms of customer response, measure the number of visits with that social media application. How convenient: to be evaluated with a metric without tangible marketplace outcomes. But it’s wrong, a circular argument, and smart companies should not follow this flawed business logic.
The value of any advertising, online or offline, depends on what effects it has on purchases. As Bill Bernbach, David Ogilvy, and other ad execs have emphasized, “our job is to sell our clients’ merchandise, not ourselves.” Those effects are difficult to measure, because consumers buy (or not) for many different reasons and even good ads in the right media have both carryover and wear-out effects that vary over the product life cycle and an ad campaign. But to justify an investment by activity and not outcomes is a tautology — we advertise because we advertise — not a meaningful business argument.
Even an activity measure, moreover, assumes the consumer can see the ad. Did you know that a display ad is deemed “viewable” if at least half of each ad is visible on your computer or smart phone for a minimum of one second? Data released in 2014 by comScore indicated that more than half of online display ads appear on parts of a web page that are not viewable. In response, the Interactive Advertising Bureau noted that for various reasons 100% viewability is “not yet possible,” but the industry should aim for 70%. In other words, hope that “only” 30% of your intended ads are not seen by anyone for at least a second!
Further, what we now know about shopping and social media activity says that online and offline behavior interact. They’re complements, not substitutes, and you ignore these interactions at your peril. The vast majority of communications on social media sites are between friends who are within 10 miles of each other. The same is true about the available data on buying behavior. As Wharton professor David Bell documents, the way people use the internet is largely shaped by where they live, the presence of stores nearby, their neighbors, and local sales taxes.
For years now, we have heard big talk about the big data behind big investments in social media. Let’s see who is behind the curtain. It’s time to expect more from social media and prove it. The Association of Advertising Agencies has refused to endorse the 70% goal and wants 100% viewability, which means if an advertiser buys 1 million impressions from a site, that site must display that ad as many times as it takes to ensure a million viewable impressions. In 2014, The Economist guaranteed those who buy space on its apps and website that readers will spend a certain amount of time there. For instance, it will guarantee that a site containing an ad appearing for three weeks will receive X hours of readers’ attention — documenting, not assuming, engagement with the medium.
Other companies try to trace the links (or not) between online platforms and sales outcomes. They buy point-of-sale data from retailers and have systems that purport to match Facebook or Twitter IDs, for example, with a given campaign and subsequent retail sales for a product. The validity of these approaches is still to be determined. And the FTC has raised concerns about privacy issues and disclosure practices, and has urged Congress to pass legislation to give consumers the right to opt out. But shining light on what does and doesn’t happen here will be a good thing.
Business success requires linking customer-acquisition efforts with a coherent strategy. You can’t do that if you are not clear about the differences between hype and reality when it comes to buying and selling. And we should care about this distinction for reasons that go far beyond making even more ads more viewable. Companies’ abilities to make better use of their resources are important for society, not only shareholders. It spurs productivity, and productivity — not just tweets and selfies — is what spurs growth.
Source: Harvard Business Review / Written By: Frank Cespedes
Many marketing benchmarks are easy to assess: sales, web traffic, SEO, social engagement and conversion rates. These results are tracked with hard data and as a result success is measurable. If one tactic isn't working, it's easy to try another.
But not so fast. Results are the final outcome of a marketing initiative - but where do these results originate? Let's trace back the steps. Before every successful conversion there is a strategy in place. Before every strategy is a creative idea. And all good creative ideas are fueled by extensive research and insights. This is the purpose of Creative Strategy: to set the foundation for business growth in three simple steps: 1) research 2) creativity 3) strategic planning.
Creative Strategy is essential to any marketing plan or new website, and good Creative Strategy should address the following five foundations that impact business growth:
1) Identify needs / determine goals
The only way to get a clearly defined answer is to ask clearly defined questions. A well thought out Creative Strategy will uncover the most pertinent business/brand needs to address and leverage consumer/industry insights to illustrate a custom solution.
2) Figure out a roadmap
Solutions are a great starting point - but how do we get there? It's the job of a Creative Strategist to determine the most effective way to get from Point A to Point B. What threats stand in the way and how can they be avoided? What mistakes have other businesses made and how can they be learned from? Creating a roadmap that addresses these questions is essential to mobilize your team with a bird's eye view of clear next steps.
3) What's happening?
Simply put, a Creative Strategy must be informed. What's going on in your industry? What is the competition doing? What new technology is on the horizon? What's going on in the digital and social space? A roadmap can't weave through the complexities of the business world without being well informed on what's happening...everywhere.
4) Tell a story
Content drives online success, but what drives content? A brand's point of view - their story - should set the foundation for all communication efforts. What is your brand's unique perspective and position? This will determine your messaging strategy and visual vocabulary. Every audience loves a story. What's yours?
5) Influence behavior
Great - the goals are now determined and the plan is in place. Now, what is the desired action we want the end user (the audience) to take? The more specific the action, the more effective the conversion will be. By establishing direct calls to action and intuitive online pathways for users, the strategy will translate into consumer-focused terms that are both relatable and relevant.
In the interest of long-term brand success, it's important to set a stable foundation and not take short cuts. It's not always directly measurable, but a sharp Creative Strategy is evident along every brand touch point, and can set the tone for messaging, design and marketing for years to come.
Source: Blue Fountain Media / Written By: James McCrae
Color, it can attract, influence, and even increase retention. Color is a powerful tool for any business. The way you present your company’s ideas with the use of color in printed material is becoming an increasingly important issue. Studies find that using color in your documents is both impactful and influential. Xerox recently commissioned a study online by Harris Interactive about why your boss should let you print in color.
Let’s look at a few of the findings. In the study it was found that 25% of the respondents print using color to improve retention but in the survey 69% of the respondents stated that they understand new ideas better when they are presented in color. It would seem to make sense that printing in color will help to get your ideas and messages read, understood and remembered. In the study 21% of the respondents print in color to reduce search time but the study found that 76% of the respondents think they can find information faster if it is printed in color. So wouldn’t it make sense to print things in color so that more people can find the information that you are trying to share with them in less time?
Research has shown that using color in business can dramatically improve communication, enhance productivity, and boost sales. So as color becomes increasingly affordable and easier to control there will be an ever increasing use of color in printed material and CAD plotting. Xerox provides many printers and multifunction printers that provide color printing.
Source: Xerox Blogs / Written By: Cheryl Otstott
I've been a "yes"-sayer most of my life. I'm a bit of an impulse shopper, always down for an adventure, open to meeting new people or switching plans at a moment's notice.
This has opened many doors for me over the years, especially with bosses and colleagues who are happy with my eagerness and "can-do" attitude. But sometimes, the "yes-yes-yes" approach can be exhausting -- it ends up stretching me way too thin. With every new affirmative comes the quiet ritual of reprioritization, where I look at my to-do list and figure out where on earth the new request will fit in.
Sound familiar? Think about the last time you had to rework your to-do list to accommodate piling demands. Was it last week? Yesterday? This morning? There biggest reason this problem is so widespread is: Many of us are concerned about looking like jerks if we don't do everything our colleagues ask of us -- especially if the person asking is our boss.
I think Ed Batista, executive coach and instructor at the Stanford School of Business, said it best: "When faced with potentially overwhelming demands on our time, we’re often advised to 'Prioritize!' as if that’s some sort of spell that will magically solve the problem ... Here’s the problem. After we prioritize, we act as though everything merits our time and attention, and we’ll get to the less-important items 'later.' But later never really arrives. The list remains without end."
It might seem like every incoming request is important -- especially ones from your superiors. But that's not true. Here are a few tips that successful people follow to better prioritize.
Give yourself a minute.
It's easier to say "yes" in the moment, only to realize later that you probably don't have time. Instead of defaulting to "yes," ask questions about the project (steps, due date, etc.) to gauge how long it might take. And then tell your requester, "Let me look at my schedule and see if I can fit it in." That way, you can take a few minutes to analyze the request and see how it can fit in with your current priorities. Which brings me to my next point ...
Analyze incoming requests.
Even ones from your superiors -- they shouldn't be a given! In her book Rise: 3 Practical Steps for Advancing in Your Career, Standing Out as a Leader, and Liking Your Life, Patty Azzarello (whom Forbes calls "the original Marissa Mayer") reveals a little-known secret: Your boss needs help thinking through the things she requests of you just as much as you need help prioritizing them.
In other words, your boss doesn't want you to just do everything she asks you to do -- your job is to catch, record, and analyze all those asks, and then make judgments about which ones will have the biggest impact on the business. If you just do the things that will make a big impact on the business, you will be forgiven for the things you don't get done -- and that is a big secret to success.
Say "no" to requests that put your top priorities at risk.
Setting realistic expectations on our time is hard, but we have an even harder time saying "no" to our colleagues for fear of seeming unhelpful, not hardworking, not a team player, and so on. "There’s a fine line between effective triage and being an a**hole, and many of us are so worried about crossing that line that we don’t even get close," says Batista.
But in Rise, Azzarello reminds us that, while we can get away with not getting everything done if we deliver remarkable results on a few key things, we need to deliver those remarkable results -- otherwise, we don't have any success to offset why we didn't do better at everything else.
"Don't lose your nerve. Stick to it," she writes. "If you're tempted to work on everything because it feels less risky, just realize that you will remain unremarkable because you have not given yourself the opportunity to really excel on something that has a big impact on the business."
Your ultimate goal, according to Batista, is to confront the emotional discomfort of prioritizing tasks -- to "expand our comfort with discomfort." Saying "no" isn't easy, but it's incredibly important for career growth.
Source: Hubspot / Written By: Lindsay Kolowich
Sometimes, when I think back to internet trends that came and went, it can put a big smile across my face. Remember the hours you or your friends spent playing Farmville and typing all Facebook statuses in the third person? Sweet memories, right?
But then there are the trends that have kind of faded into the background, only to pop up in your thoughts when you're in the shower or in the middle of devising a new marketing campaign. You think, "Does anyone actually do that anymore?" Googling it doesn't really help -- all the articles are from five years ago, and they all seem to think that trend is all the rage. There's nothing explicitly telling you that this trend is really not that cool anymore.
Well, we figured we'd help you set the record straight. Let's take a moment to look back at six internet marketing trends of the last five years that are really not a thing anymore, and give you alternatives to take advantage of now.
Follow Friday was very, very popular on Twitter back in 2009. Here's how it worked: Every Friday, you'd send a tweet to your followers recommending a Twitter handle you thought was super interesting and others might want to follow. You'd accompany these tweets with the hashtags #FollowFriday or #ff.
Here's what a #FollowFriday tweet was supposed to look like:
It's descriptive, helpful, and personalized. But here's what #FollowFriday tweets actually ended up looking like -- ALL OF THEM:
You can imagine how cluttered your news feed looked when everyone you followed was posting tweets like that at the same time. (Oatmeal said it best.)
Follow Friday started with a single tweet by entrepreneur Micah Baldwin.
One of his followers responded by suggesting the #followfriday hashtag. A few more friends hopped on board, and boom: At the peak of the first ever Follow Friday, the #FollowFriday hashtag saw two tweets per second.
Why did it catch on so fast? Because it was easy, people felt like they were spreading goodwill, and anyone with a free Twitter account could participate. There were great intentions behind its creation and adoption in 2009. If you think someone's tweets are great, why not share that greatness with your followers? But when Twitter feeds became incomprehensible streams of hashtags and Twitter handle recommendations, Follow Friday got old reeeal quick.
It's not clear when Follow Friday started dying, but it's gone.
Have you ever been offered something for free from a brand in exchange for "Liking" their Facebook page? That's called Like-gating, a trend that got really hot in 2011. Here's an example of Like-gating from Sephora:
If you've ever Liked a company's Facebook page so you could get free stuff, think back to how that exchange made you feel about the brand. Did their offer make you feel more loyal to them, or did you suspect they'd spam you in the future?
Most of you would probably say the latter. Offering free stuff for Liking your page is a plea for quantity, not quality, of Facebook Likes. But don't you want the people who Like you on Facebook to have done so without dangling a carrot on a stick? Plus, consumers have been able to "unlike" a company page with the click of a button since 2010.
If your goal is to gain a lot Facebook Likes in a short amount of time, like-gating can be a tempting short-term solution. But ask yourself the business value of all those low-quality Facebook Likes. Is it worth the investment?
For Like-gating to be effective at all, the real work would need to start after a consumer Likes your page. You'd need to convince them to stick around by being helpful, valuable, and providing great content. If you really want more Facebook fans, then you need to make sure you follow up and continue building a strong relationship with consumers long after the Like.
But it's far better in the long term to earn those Facebook likes by providing helpful, engaging content from your website. Before people Like your page, they've probably given it a once-over to see if anything there would interest them. So when people end up Liking your page by choice, they're more likely to want to engage with your website content -- which is your ultimate goal, anyway.
3) LinkedIn Events
The idea behind the LinkedIn Events application, which was shut down in 2012, makes total sense: Professionals want to know where other professionals are networking and what conferences they're going to. Plus, you wouldn't want professional events muddled in with your best friend's housewarming party on Facebook Events -- and at that point, how many of you were connected on Facebook with all of your professional mentors and influencers, anyway?
LinkedIn's Events application let users browse events the people in their networks were organizing or attending. You could see the attendee lists, mark down whether you were attending yourself, and even see a list of "attendees you may want to meet" based on connections, interests, and industry. Here's what it looked like:
When LinkedIn announced they would be shutting down the application, my first reaction was, "LinkedIn had an events application?" Apparently I wasn't alone. LinkedIn's official message said they shut it down because they wanted to invest more time and money in building out other parts of the product. It's unclear whether this meant that too many LinkedIn users didn't use the Events application, or it just didn't support LinkedIn's overall strategy.
Either way, if you're feeling lost without it, try finding and promoting events on Facebook, Eventbrite, or on MeetUp.com. (The first is much more acceptable than it used to be.)
4) QR Codes
Remember when it seemed like QR Codes were everywhere? They were on store windows, napkin holders, walls, in magazines. In short, QR Codes (Quick Response codes) are matrix barcodes that can be read by QR barcode readers, which people could choose to install on their smartphones. Marketers thought of them as a way to bridge offline and online marketing -- kind of like links you could "click on" in real life.
But there was just one problem: The trend never really broke out of the tech-savvy crowd. Although both Apple and Android have QR readers built in to their systems (Apple's is built into Passbook, not the camera itself), that isn't very widely known.
If you're looking for a way to connect the physical and digital world, it's simple: Place URLs in places you want consumers to see them. They can type them in manually. Just make sure the URL is logical to type -- not a random jumble of letters.
Facebook's News Feed algorithm has kept marketers on their toes by evolving numerous times since it launched in September 2006. In 2006, users first saw personalized lists of their friends' posts that updated throughout the day. To figure out what content users wanted to see on their news feeds, Facebook used a pretty unsophisticated algorithm: the pre-cursor to EdgeRank.
In 2007, at the same time Facebook launched Ads and Pages for companies to use, they released a new News Feed algorithm, named "EdgeRank," that determined exactly which Facebook posts would go into other people's News Feeds. For companies, EdgeRank provided statistics of the engagement on your company page so you could analyze your activities.
But the EdgeRank algorithm couldn't keep up with the rapidly increasing number of people using Facebook, now more than a billion people per month, accessing Facebook on all different devices. In August 2013, Facebook announced changes to the algorithm that could accommodate its huge user base.
Since then, the name EdgeRank has been declared dead, but Facebook's algorithm has continued to evolve and improve. The new algorithm has almost 100,000 weight factors to determine which of your friends' posts you see on your feed. With all of these changes that've cropped up, your survival strategy should be simple: continue creating content your fans, leads, and customers enjoy.
6) Facebook Polls
In June 2013, Facebook announced a plan to streamline the number of ad units by cutting out redundancies they found in their advertising platform. This would include the Questions product for Pages (sometimes referred to as "Facebook Polls"), which many marketers used to engage fans in a way other than just posting to their page's wall.
But it turns out that Facebook Questions, originally predicted to be a big threat to Quora, actually never really caught on. Facebook even repackaged and relaunched a more social, watered-down version of the product in 2011 that allowed you to only poll people you were directly connected to on Facebook, rather than the whole Facebook community.
Questions was quietly shut down in July 2013 under the premise that marketers could get the same information from fans by simply asking a question in new post and looking at the comments. LinkedIn also used to have a Group Polling feature, but they too shut it down in May 2014.
At this point, if you want to poll your audience on social media, you'll have to stick with asking questions in regular posts and looking at answers in the comments. And even that tactic is kind of outdated -- Facebook's made some algorithm changes to cut down on "engagementbait" in the News Feed, and that tactic could end up easily falling into that category. So you should probably steer clear of Facebook polling altogether, unless you're posting a link to a survey or poll you're running on your website.
Do you or did you follow any of these trends? What did you find good and bad about them? Post a comment.
Source: Hubspot / Written By: Lisa Toner
At a recent networking event in Silicon Valley I was struck by how such events can be really great or really bad. On the great side they can be the beginning of interesting friendships. On the bad side they can be shallow, stressful and unsatisfying.
With SXSW just getting started (I will be speaking there on Essentialism) my editor asked me to share a few thoughts on what attendees at any big, high-profile conference should or should not be doing to have a meaningful experience. Here are three ideas for your consideration:
A Fistful of Business Cards (vs. One Genuine Relationship).
The classic behavior at these events is to exchange a lot of business cards. This remains true even though afterwards many of the cards are close to meaningless. They won't remember you; you won't remember them.
Susan Cain, the genius behind the book Quiet, suggests a different rule of thumb for networking events: "One genuine new relationship is worth a fistful of business cards." This essentialist sentiment is one I fully endorse. In fact a friend of mine, Dave Hanley, recently pointed out to me that the sharing of business cards often signals the end of a conversation not the beginning of one.
Looking Over Someone's Shoulder (vs. Mindful Listening).
I once sat next to Bill Reilly at a networking dinner at Apple. We connected easily and have built a great relationship overtime. I was interested to discover how he learned to really listen to who he is speaking to. He found if he concentrated on listening to other people the way he focused when he meditated his interaction immediately became richer. The other person could feel he was listening, almost physically. And when they knew he was listening they formed a bond with him faster. Life almost immediately felt richer and more meaningful. As professor Graham Bodie has empirically noted, listening is the quintessential positive interpersonal communication behavior.
The Fear of Missing Out (vs. the Joy of Missing Out).
As I mentioned in a recent piece, I was once at the World Economic Forum for Latin America in Mexico with an amazing array of speakers, panels and participants. The bad news was I felt pulled to attend everything and meet everyone. When I was involved in one activity it was easy to think, "Oh, I wonder if I should have gone to that session instead!" The (well-known) term for this sensation is "the fear of missing out" (or FOMO). After two days of this, I was feeling some meeting fatigue. I decided to opt out of the rest of the afternoon and head, instead, for the pool.
One look at the actual pool and you might say, "Well that is just a no-brainer of a decision!" But that is really my point: it wasn't obvious in the moment. I had been so consumed with the fear of missing out I had not stopped to consider what Anil Dash has termed, "the joy of missing out" (or JOMO).
To my surprise and delight I was not the only person who had the idea. I was joined by fifteen or so fellow rebels. Each of us looked at each other with a little chagrin. But the serendipity that followed was amazing. With the space to relax and just talk without an agenda or scheduled "content," magical things happened. Deep relationships were formed, spontaneous ideas flowed and one important initiative was launched.
Our lives at work and at home are full of many invitations to attend this event or that meeting. Not only can the number of these invitations feel overwhelming, the fear of missing out can lead us to be unsatisfied with the choices we make as we wonder about the other half are doing. I sat down with the Huffington Post recently to talk about this.
Source: LinkedIn Post / By: Greg McKeown