We all have a keen sense of our own mortality. People die. Family members die. Our pets die. And even though most of us don’t like to think about it, each of us will die. Although it’s the single most uncomfortable fact of life, we all understand this certainty and we accept it.
However, we often subconsciously assume brands are immortal. We assume that the logos that line the shelves at our local superstore are written in stone. That once a brand “makes it big”, that it’s time to sit back and enjoy the ride.
In agency life, too often you can see the train wreck heading your way.
Sales people are trained to smile. They are told countless times that, “a smile can be heard over the phone,” that “smiles are contagious,” and that “a smile sets the tone.” And, though it may sound cliché, it’s still very true. An authentic smile, so simple and subtle, can be very powerful. Strangely, this simple technique that works wonders in the world of sales often isn’t taught in the world of project management.
Project managers are taught to focus on deadlines and deliverables. They’re taught to be Six Sigma Black Belts and master agile development methodologies. They are taught to be super intense, no frills, no fun, laser focused, and armed with Gantt charts and project plans. However, the best project managers know intuitively that the best way to get things done is by being empathetic and understanding. Others learn it over time.
Quite often, we can hear one of our most cheerful project managers answering the phone, “Happy Wednesday James! How are you doing today?” The PM isn't being fake. Or putting on a show. The PM is genuinely and authentically happy. And is a purposely positive person. The PM is also a darn good project manager and simply gets things done.
In the early days of the Internet, Search Engine Optimization (before it even had a name) was simple. Getting your site indexed was more than half the battle, and that was easy. Submit your site to search engines, tell them what your company does, then sit back and wait for users to come find you.
But as search engine algorithms evolved and started crawling, analyzing, and indexing literally everything, a gap between well-intentioned marketers and those out to game the system became apparent.
While marketers with integrity were out building their brands, creating great content, and optimizing their site, quick-fix SEOs were link-building, cloaking pages, and adding hidden, keyword-stuffed text to theirs. While the good guys were trying to earn loyalty by offering value to users, black-hats were trying to syphon off domain authority that they hadn’t actually earned.
This gap has continued to widen, and we have always approached our SEO campaigns with a “user-first” mentality. We’re not interested in chasing algorithm updates or trying to capitalize on a short-term fad or take advantage of some flaw in the system. It’s always been our belief that if you create campaigns that add value to your audience, you will be successful.
Every year, the day after the NFL regular season ends, a number of coaches get fired. In a 32-team league, the number varies, but it’s often in the 5-8 range, which means there’s an annual turnover rate between 15% to 25%. This year, 5 coaches were fired. Black Monday, as it’s now called, represents a major miscalculation in professional sports. But it’s also representative of a larger failure in the business word.
A “fire first” mentality has taken hold in most industries. If sales are down this year, get a new VP of Sales. If your cost per lead doesn’t drop 25% like the Excel spreadsheet needed it to in order to please the new Marketing Director, then get a new agency. It’s cause and effect. Right?
There are many problems with this line of thinking. But before we delve into all of the flaws of the current firing zeitgeist, let’s see what we can learn from one of the greatest coaches in NFL history – Tom Landry – a man who never would have achieved legendary status in today’s climate of impatience and instant gratification.
One of the great things about working in marketing is that we have an opportunity to talk about a wide variety of topics. Even better, we get to tell it like it is. We can weigh in on controversial subjects. We can be funny. We can be serious. We can take a stand against things that don’t make sense or things that are fundamentally wrong. And we can do these things without compromising our brand because our brand promise is to always tell the raw truth.
With that said, here are the topics from the past year that inspired the most discussion on our blog. These are the topics that really resonated with people. For us, compiling this list not only paints a picture of the year 2013, it gives us a chance to learn from the topics that best engaged so we can make our blog even better in 2014.