A Tweet's Not Enough

Sometimes 140 characters aren't enough.

How Will Art, Copy & Code Re-imagine Advertising?

  • not enough day to day risk taking
  • not as much fun as it can be

We are all on the same spaceship and it appears to be speeding up

  • Advertising re-imagined - how will brands tell stories in a connected world
  • The idea still matters
  • There is a danger of getting caught up in the tech and loosing the idea
  • Innovation vs Invention

Re-imagined Canvases

  • Growing ideas in familiar ground
  • people have a choice wether or not to engage in a ad

Connected Object

  • Let’s get physical
  • connected devices are cheaper and smaller than in the past
  • converting data into sharable content
  • connecting real world objects into ad content (feedback from player equipment on the field)

Audience of One

  • crafted just for you
  • relevancy = interaction
  • Needs to be done in a way that doesn’t feel creepy
  • location ToD for customization
  • Video custom created per viewing

Collaborative Storytelling

  • Audience is part of the show
  • (idea grenades)
  • Jam with Chrome

Data-drive Stories

  • the emotional life of numbers
  • data may be greatest natural resources

Useful Marketing

  • creating tools not just ads
  • You can’t just tell stories, you need to provide value

Innovation is a team sport

Human Stories, Told Simply But just telling stories isn’t enough

Acquiring the Skill of Meta Learning

My Notes from Tim Ferriss’ talk at SXSW 2013

The four hour ethos on accelerating learning in accelerated times Things take a lifetime to master is a myth Ask yourself odd questions and question the obvious (duolingo, automattic)

  • Model Methods not Attributes (optimism)
  • Determine your baseline
  • look for the outliers or anomalies and have they been replicate them
  • can I replicate
    • can a reverse this
    • can I reconstruct this
  • when you think creatively about thing you begin to think creatively about everything else
  • cooking is the perfect dojo because it uses all your senses

DiSSS Framework

  • Deconstruction
    • break it down
    • ask why have I failed in the past, why might I fail
    • Log first five or six session without using the failure points
  • Selection
    • 20% of your efforts produce 80% of output (minimum effective dose)
    • (axis of awesome 4 chord song)
    • Use few tool and get good at them
    • Prefect coffee aroepress 200g water to 12g coffee 180 degree water
  • Sequencing
    • most neglected step
    • What if I did the opposite of best practice
    • What if I did the reverse
    • Worst time to learn a skill is when you have to use it
    • Act of Substitution
  • Stakes
    • stickK
    • set stakes for your goal
  • Simplify
    • focus on subtraction rather than addition
    • Chip Away
    • Perfection is achieved not when there is not more to add, but no more to remove


one of the biggest impediment to learning things is trying to do too many things

get over failure, its not bad thing

(the war room - film)

(on simplification) If you cut out 80% of the bullshit you’re where you need to be

A coach’s goal should be obsolescence Look for a coach to accelerate what you’re doing on your now to replace it

An Open Letter to Rogers Marketing… and customer support

If you live in Canada you’re probably familiar with Rogers Communications Inc. I won’t get into the problems with the our telecom industry being little more than a two-horse race. My beef right now is specifically with their Marketing/Communications department.

Rogers Marketing is systematically ruining an already poor customer experience. Right now the only upside to the whole organization is their customer support via twitter (@RogersHelps). I’ve always walked away from any interactions there with good a feeling… which the marketing department quickly undoes.

I seem to be in an ongoing battle trying to unsubscribe from their various direct marketing campaigns (sms, email, “connected magazine”). I had managed to unsubscribe from everything during my last contract, but in October I got a new phone and the flood gates opened.

New emails, news, sms messages, and not one but two copies of their connected magazine since I now have two different phones with them. I went through the procedure. Go to MyRogers and change your marketing permissions (which incidentally requires you to check the box for the marketing you DON’T want… please look up Dark Patterns http://wiki.darkpatterns.org/Home). And I still got emails and text messages. One of their email lists doesn’t use this interface and requires you to click the unsubscribe link and input your account number. Not your phone number, YOUR ACCOUNT NUMBER, because hey, I keep that on hand.

So I made some complaints via twitter, threaten to complain to the CRTC and great people @RogersHelps had someone from “the office of the president” give me call to resolve my issue. And I still got emails. So I complained again. Got another call and today I got another marketing SMS, even though I have clearly indicated I DO NOT want to receive marketing communications.

Now let me tell you, I’m in Marketing. I do permission based marketing for a living. This is not permission based marketing. I think someone forgot to Rogers that Bill-C 28 (here’s a good summary http://www.marketingmag.ca/news/marketer-news/bill-c-28-a-fine-line-45867) is now in effect. 

I know from talking to various reps on the subject that it can 30 days for an unsubscribe request to process to all their List. I unsubscribed months ago and this is a far cry from the 10 days required by law. I also know the last email I got didn’t have the requisite contact information (mailing address and phone number).

Thank You Rogers Marketing, you’ve just lost a customer and burned any goodwill your customer service dept generated.

Any telecos want a new customer?

Why Pricing Models Matter

I’ve been trying to find a local photographer to do baby photos. My wife found one who’s portfolio she liked. So I contacted the photographer about fees. I specified in my email I’m looking for pricing with unmarked digital files. The response I got was sittings start at $350, but non of the packages include digital files, you can get those for an extra fee.

Now I specified, I wanted to know the price of digital files. The website includes the regular sitting fees so I had my wife call the photographer since the only thing that pisses me off more than photographers who make their money off selling prints is the record industry (yes, I have thing against outmoded industries). The answer she got over the phone was $400 for 24 digital files.

Look I work in a creative industry, I know how much work things like this are. I do this kind of work. Charging me more than the sitting rate for files you’ve already done the work for is pathetic. It says to me, my revenue stream and value is based on the prints I can sell you, not the service I provide. It make me treat you like commodity vendor. You’re selling widgets not a service.

The kicker is I’d happily pay $600-$700 for a sitting with a photographer. But if break it out as $350 for a sitting + $400 files I get annoyed. A flat rate including files makes me feel like I’m paying for a service. The other way nickel and dimes it. And when you’re counting nickels and dimes the lowest bidder wins. It just makes it feel more adversarial.

Pricing models can tell your customers how you see them and how you see yourself.

Are you pricing for yourself or for your customers?

Dear Microsoft this is NOT a helpful error message

I was trying to attach a database to MS SQL 2008 last night and I got the following error message

The database ‘X’ cannot be opened because it is version 661. This server supports version 662 and earlier. A downgrade path is not supported.

Last time I check 661 IS an earlier version than 662, unless MS uses some sort of funky proprietary version numbering system. Or maybe its just because it was Wednesday

All this just reminds me why as a rule I avoid working .NET sites.

Klout Reality Check

Seems to be a lot of discussion about Klout these days. Here is my two cents.

Full disclosure, yes I have a Klout profile that I occasionally check, more on that later.

Klout is Creating Accounts/Profiles for People without their Permission

This seems to be a big one, and I’m one of the biggest proponents of privacy, as a result my Facebook profile doesn’t have any true information on it. 

First of all Klout isn’t creating an account for you. It is creating a profile, a snapshot of you, based on information you’ve already made public. You’ve posted this information on a public network and its scrubbed and analyzed it just like google does.

If you create a Private Twitter account you will still show up on Klout (and google for that matter) with the publicly available info… Name, Profile Pic, and bio. Once again this is info you make public when creating an account.

Put Blame Where it Belongs

Now I know there have been some people who have say they have topics and ratings even on private profiles. First I’d like to see if this account was always private or at one time public and therefor that public data may still be available. Next, I’m not sure how the twitter API works for crawling indexes but any Private Account Tweets should be Private and should never have been made available to Klout, The security breach is Twitter’s/Facebook’s fault. Klout says to twitter/facebook give me information to analyze and then analyses it. If the twitter/facebook gives them private info, it’s twitter/facebooks fault for revealing the info, unless of course Klout has found some sort of security hole in those networks it’s exploiting. If they’re exploiting a security hole, then they’re in violation of the ToS of the sites, and legal action should be pursued.

Klout is Making Money of My My Info and I should have to Opt-In

Once again you’ve made the information public by broadcasting it on a public network. Google also crawls this info and makes money off it.

I Opted Out of Klout and My info is Still there

This one I totally concede on. If Klout provides a method from removing your information they should honor it. Fix it Klout.

Klout is Standard of Influence

This one is one of those “get a life” things. If you believe your or anyone’s Klout score has any real relevance you need to examine your own values. Yes businesses are using Klout scores to help find influences but any business that relies solely on Klout for this metric doesn’t have a sound social media strategy.

Remember google also trolls your info and assigns an arbitrary value to you in the form of Pagerank and SERP. I assume most people arent’ living and dying by there SERP results.

Klout only reason Klout dares claim to be “the standard of influence” is because no one else has tried. 

I treat Klout as a game. I occasionally log in to see what topics it “thinks” I’m influential on. I think its as relevant as Twitter “similar to” list

Is Klout Broken?

Yes, they need to do a lot to fix how they measure info and maybe how they troll it, but they’re not some big boogie man sneaking into your private life stealing info (I hope). They are assigning arbitrary values on the connection and information that you the user has made public. I need to poorly quote Hamlet on this “There is nothing Good or Bad, but thinking makes it so.” So just chill out, delete your profile if you want and wait for them to fix their opt-out mechanism. We can all put the pitchforks down.

Unfortunately tumblr doesn’t provide the most robust system for discussion but I’m open to discuss this on Twitter (@thezenmonkey) and I’ll repost on Google+

Pater Commorer

or preliminary ruminations on fatherhood - 3 months

So as you may know, my wife and I had a daughter three months ago, these are my thoughts on the experience of fatherhood thus far.

Having a tiny child dependant on me (and my wife) for everything actually isn’t that scary. The fact that I’m a father isn’t that scary. What I really find odd is how easily I slipped into fatherhood. Basically, the baby was born, I’m a father, no problem.

I’ve talked to other people who tell me “it’s weird to think I’m a dad/mom,’ I’ve heard the horror stories of “don’t expect to sleep for the first 3 months.” Realistically, the pregnancy was much more stressful than the actual baby. My wife and I are sleeping fine, the baby is sleeping fine. Not consistently throughout the night mind you but we were only zombies for the first 3-4 weeks tops.

Maybe I just need to modify the Jeff Labowski mantra: the dad abides.

Now I’m not saying fatherhood is easy, but I’m also not wishing for the heady childless days yore. Life is good, but check back when she’s a teenager (or even when she starts teething) 

I’m in your inbox stealing you infoz

A lot of companies have a “subscribe to our newsletter” link somewhere on their site, and yes some of them actually send out a newsletter. This old stand-by is wealth of marketing info you may not even know you have.

You mean I can do more than spam people?

If you think your email list is nothing more than a way for you to blast out spam to people you can stop reading now and not come back. I’m serious. Go.

I’m not going to go into legal email policies in this post but know that there are legal ramifications to sending out marketing messages that you may not know about, as a major telecom company found out when I threatened to report them for their non-compliance.

Step 1 - Use a good email service I’m going to write this post from the perspective of Mailchimp, mostly because I use them and I think they’re the bees knees. If you’re using a desktop email client or a webmail provider (gmail/hotmail) you’re not getting half the info you can.

Step 2 - Better use of open and click rates

Most email marketers use their open and click rates only to gauge the success of the campaign. But this info has added benefit especially for B2B sales. If you’ve sent out a B2B email, and you have the open and click stats, guess what. You know which of your customers are interested in what you have to sell. You can forward your open and click lists to your sales people to follow up with customers. How great is that! The sales people can call a customer knowing they have interest in it.

If you do more consumer level marketing, you can use your open and click rates to segment your list and offer follow up promotions. Once again, you know there is interest you just need to reel ‘em in.

Step 3 - Going beyond open and click rates

Now this is some serious ninja stuff. Mailchimp, offers a feature called SocialPro, for a small fee per month (it used to be free for paid users), they integrate your list with a company called Qwerly. It’ll take your email addresses and compare those with registrations across various social media networks (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace) and generate some pretty awesome reports and list segments. It’ll use the data pulled from those networks to measure your subscribers influence, age, gender and networks they’re members of. That’s right, you may also have demographic data already in your possession.

You want different messaging for males/females? Bam! You got it. You want to provide a special offer to your twitter followers? Bam! You got it. You can combine it with Mailchimp’s geotargeting too. You want to send a email to women 36-40 who use Facebook and live near Dallas, TX? Bam! You got it.

Is Big Brother that bad if you’re Big Brother 

In some ways it’s kind of scary. With an email address and a few opens it can tell you where someone is, what networks they’re on, their age, gender and influence. You just became big brother. Kind of cool. Though you need to be careful how you use this info, it can go all creepy on you real quick.

Sales vs. Marketing. Fight!

Dear corporate overlords everywhere. Marketing and Sales are not at odds with each other. They’re barely even different departments. Think of marketing as your macro-level sales force.

What brought this on?

A few weeks a ago I had finished up what I had planned to do for the day so I snuck into a sales conference call (got mad ninja skills). I overheard our CEO telling the sales team, “we need to increase sales.” I know, shocking. He told sales to come up with some actionable ideas on how to this.

This kind of pissed me off.


You may be thinking, what does a graphic designer care if the boss wants some good ideas from the sales team? Well I work for a small company that sells primarily B2B, sure I was hired as a graphic designer to design ads and packaging. But its a small company, and everybody does everything. It’s the way I like it. My title may say graphic designer web/marketing, but in reality I do branding, campaign planning, web development, web design, social media etc, etc. About a year ago, the CEO said he wanted to increase web traffic on some of properties so I suggested we do a monthly free product contest, because hey, everybody loves free stuff. Hell, people will give away their password for a cookie.

Now I don’t know if I mentioned it at the time or just thought it as I was saying the word ‘contest.’ but the net benefit of running a contest is two fold. First, you (hopefully) generate traffic. And second, people give you a whole bunch of personal information. Stuff like name, address, email, birthday (you need to be over 18 to enter many of our contests).

Back to that phone conference.

So why was I a little POed? The CEO is asking the sales department for ideas on how to sell more product, without consulting the wealth of info he has in the marketing department. I’ve been collecting the names addresses and ages of people who are interested in our products for over a year. I have email open and click rates for almost the same amount of time. Rates for both B2B and B2C campaigns. Sure I don’t have any hard sales data. But I have conversion rates for contests as well as B2B marketing initiatives.

Don’t sell harder, sell smarter.

So this has given me an idea to start a series of posts on how to mine the data you may already be sitting on, to increase sales and the effectives of marketing efforts.

Facebook! Me too!

I’ve been thinking a bit about data and social media. A client called me up in a fit of a panic about integrating Facebook like messaging on their packaging.

Sure enough, they had seen some article where Facebook fans spend more on a brand than non fans. I didn’t get into it with them but I assume it’s the June 2010 Syncapse study [PDF], or one like it.

This is one of those studies that journalists love to quote, because the numbers show that fans spend anywhere from 30-40% more on a brand than the average. This invariably leads some executive or marketing person to want to jump on the Facebook bandwagon.

Now I’m not saying there isn’t value in Facebook fans, these studies are very good, but the conclusions are rarely quoted. Such as, brands need to take a long term view, and its not a quick fix.

Other factors

You also need to look at the brands studied. It’s Nokia, Victoria’s Secret, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s. Basically brands with established relationships with their customers and the budgets that allow them to actively build relationships and engage their fans.

The real takeaway

A fan spends more than the average consumer, but correlation does not equal causation. They’re not spending more on the brand because they liked it on Facebook. They liked it because they’re already probably spending more on it.

So am I wasting my time with Facebook fan pages?

The short answer is maybe. You need to ask why am I on Facebook? If your fans are people already spending on more on your brand where’s the value?

Facebook’s selling point is the social graph. They give you demographic data, and can help you build a better picture of who your target consumer is, and that’s assuming your target consumer is the kind of person who would like your brand. Not all brands translate well to public announcements, I can think of numerous examples where this isn’t the case.

You also need to ask yourself; Do I have the time and resources to cultivate real relationships online?

Sounds like a lot of work?

Well it is. This is social media, don’t ignore the *social*. You only get out what you put in. If you have the resources to truly engage and build a community, and not just churn out your standard marketing message, then you can get something out of it.

What if I don’t have the time/money for this?

You have other options to get your message out in an organic way. Product sampling and blogger out-reach can be a much more fulfilling and resource efficient method to generate some good old fashion word of mouth marketing.

Back to the packaging.

The short answer for the client was pointing out the fact that they don’t control Facebook and if Facebook decided to change it’s terms of service or URL format, the packaging would be completely out of date. Or as Scott Stratten says, “you’re putting all your eggs in someone else’s basket.” I told the client to look at the benefit and compare it to the cost of redesigning, reprinting and repacking product.

To Sum Up

Facebook, Twitter and all social media take work, and consume time and resources. It’s not a magic bullet that will increase sales. It’s tool to help you find out who is buying your product or service and why. You need to really sit down with your team and ask yourself do you have the time/resources/focus to dedicate to building these customer relationships. You can’t just say “everyone is one Facebook, we need to be there too.”

Me too! Is way too self-centered for social media