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December 15, 2009

The Day of the Generalist

If you really want to get better at what you do, become a generalist. Sure, having a specialty is great, but being a generalist who can generate, communicate, and execute a range of ideas is even better.

When it comes to creative work, being a renaissance man has its benefits. Having a rich knowledge of culture, art, science, and history all play an important role in the ability to produce creative ideas. Artists use this general knowledge as a foundation that influences their work.

What many people don't understand is that being creative isn't just for artists -- it's for everyone. No matter your role within your company, chances are that opportunities exist for you to break out of the box and propose creative solutions to the problems and opportunities facing your business.

And that's when it gets tough.

Coming up with new ideas is easy. People dream up ways to make their work-places, homes, and communities better every day, but they rarely implement them, because implementing new ideas is hard.

So, what does that mean for you? It means the day of the generalist is upon you. That doesn't mean there isn't room for improving the skill sets you already have. It means that if you're like many people, you've reached a point of diminishing returns, and you'll get better faster by learning something new.

As interactive marketing advances, it's become harder and harder to be a generalist. Skills are required that demand time and energy to learn. Developers, designers, and strategists all use a variety of skill sets that often limit their growth in other areas. But increasingly we find that, even as it becomes harder to generalize, there's increasing value to being able to implement your own ideas rather than asking someone else who knows how to implement it for you.

Regardless of whether you work online, I suspect the same is true for you. So, go learn something new. You'll be glad you did, and your boss will be too.

December 14, 2009

5 Factors That Determine How Quickly A New Idea Spreads

Scott Berkun is the author of "The Myths of Innovation". One of the most interesting myths that he debunks is also one of the most widespread. The myth is: people love new ideas.

The reality is the exact opposite. People don't like new ideas. An innovative product rarely succeeds because it's a better solution. If it was, we'd all use the metric system, have twheels on our car, and use robertson screws.

So why do innovations succeed? Berkun outlines the following 5 key factors:

  • Relative Advantage: You can predict how successful an innovation will be by looking at the perceived value of the innovation compared to the current solution. Is it easier to use, better to look at, more reliable, more effective, etc?
  • Compatibility: How hard is it to start using? If the cost of switching to the solution is high, then people won't transition. The transition has to be less expensive than the perceived value of the advantage you gain.
  • Complexity: How big is the learning curve? If it requires people to re-learn old habits then you have serious impediments to adoption.
  • Trial-ability: Can people take it for test drive, or give it a trial run? The easiest way to overcome someone's objections is to let them try it.
  • Observability:How visible are the results of innovation? The more visible the benefit, the faster the idea spreads.

In short, innovations that are easy to adopt and highly visible spread faster than those that aren't.

Superficial innovations (like fashion trends) spread quickly because they are highly visible and the cost to transition to them is low—especially when compared to the perceived benefit of increased social status. However, something like transitioning to the metric system, which requires an entire country to change their measuring cups and throw out their old cookbooks, rarely happens on it's own.

December 14, 2009

Monday Reading: Start Your Week Off Right


Search engine optimization:

Social Media


Check back next Monday for some good reads and visuals, or follow us on Delicious for a heavier load.

December 7, 2009

Monday Reading: Start Your Week Off Right



Thought Provoking:




Check back next Monday for some good reads and visuals, or follow us on Delicious for a heavier load.

December 3, 2009

Why Mario is Fun (And What Marketers Can Learn From It)


Mario is the epitome of the successful video game. There have been challengers, but none have yet to overcome the little Italian. Even gamers engrossed in modern online games typically have some roots in Nintendo's iconic series. But what is it that made Mario so damn fun? What continues to make the series successful? Shigeru Miyamoto, now senior managing director at Nintendo and one of the original minds behind Mario, says it best:

a fun game should always be easy to understand — you should be able to take one look at it and know what you have to do straight away. It should be so well constructed that you can tell at a glance what your goal is and, even if you don't succeed, you'll blame yourself rather than the game.

Miyamoto's words aren't just a glimpse at what makes Mario fun, they are a valuable lesson in clarity that can be applied to many things.

For example, when users go to your website, they have a specific objective they are looking to accomplish. They may be researching a product, learning more about your company, or making a purchase. Just like a game, your site should be so well constructed that users can understand how to reach this objective at a simple glance.

As a marketer, your job isn't just to get users visiting your site; your job is to make their visits enjoyable, and at the heart of every enjoyable experience, whether on a game or a website, is clarity. In a good website there is no room for ambiguity or confusion. Instead, create clear and easy paths that help users accomplish their objectives.

Picture via: Dr Case on Flickr

Miyamoto interview found via Maki.