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Chris Allison
March 15, 2012

Exploring New Paths to Great Creative Strategies Part 1: Redefining The Brief

Too many agency strategists still conduct their work the same way they’ve done it for decades. The same focus groups. The same ad testing. The same creative briefs. This status quo can frustrate client-side marketers. They know that using the same old strategies is just, well, bad strategy.

June 9, 2011

Switch Up Your Game To Seize Opportunity

Hiroshi Yamauchi, an ambitious and arrogant young man, was named the head of his family’s playing card business when no other successor was available. Wanting to grow his family’s empire, he decided to pay a visit to the biggest player in the card game. After seeing their tiny office in Cincinnati, Ohio, however, he realized just how small the game really was. Out of this realization, the company we know as Nintendo, was born.

April 12, 2011

Modern SEO: The Optimization of Everything

SEO is an obscure field to most people. It sounds strange, technical, and gimmicky. And with good reason. The history of SEO is filled with stories of technical loopholes and acrobatics that could make the worst websites on the planet rank for extremely irrelevant searches.

Thankfully, as search engines have evolved, SEO has been forced to mature and move out of its technical silo. Google and crew have become much better at deciphering what people actually care about, and, consequently, ranking well now means getting people to care about your business -- at least relative to your competition. The era of narrow-minded SEO is drawing to an end.

Does this mean that there's nothing technical about SEO? Not at all. There are still best practices that need to be implemented to ensure that search engines can even read your site at all, and, once they do, that they interpret it in the ideal way.

What it does mean is that SEO has shifted. Things like brand, design, customer service, and all of your promotional efforts are having an affect on your search engine rankings. If you don't care about integrating SEO into these efforts, don't waste your money on SEO.

Marketing doesn't just live in the marketing department. Successful businesses recognize that anything that impacts customer experiences and perceptions is a part of what drives the bottom line. Likewise, search can't just live in the IT or SEO department. It has to be given a seat at the larger table, where SEO professionals and agencies can advise on how to leverage everything a company is doing in a way that benefits the SEO effort and is consistent with the brand.

If your SEO team is uninterested in the larger picture, content with trying to stay one technical gimmick ahead of the search engines, then you should look for someone new to lead the way.

November 8, 2010

Progressive Disclosure: A Design Principle Turned Project Management Tool

The Principle of Progressive Disclosure states that by presenting small, manageable amounts of information at a time instead of large buckets of information all at once, a designer can dramatically reduce the amount of confusion and frustration involved in using an interface. This principle has other benefits as well. Applied to project management, progressive disclosure means it's easier to get more done when you focus on the immediate next step, instead of focusing on everything that needs to happen over the course of a project.

When people are presented with an abundance of options, it creates an overwhelming feeling of anxiety: what psychologist Barry Schwartz calls the paradox of choice. The interactive industry commonly applies this to website users (i.e. keep your design and calls to action simple), but the same thing happens to project managers.

When you're working on a project and you split your focus between what needs to happen now and everything that will need to happen ever, it's easy to be affected just like a confused, frustrated consumer. It's not that you shouldn't ever think about future deliverables, but they can often be a psychological distraction. A good project manager knows when to not bother thinking about them, lest they should become like the customer choosing between fifty products: paralyzed and all-together incapable of making a quick, accurate decision.

Managing a project starts with managing your own time. So, what can you do? One solution is to keep your task list limited. Put tomorrow's task list out of sight and don't add to today's list once you've created it. Focus on making progress, not on completing entire projects. This article from Behance and some words from a coworker recently drove these ideas home, and they've helped me be more productive.

What helps you be more productive? How do you handle your to-do list? We'd be interested in hearing your ideas, and, as always, feel free to drop a note in the comments or shoot us a tweet.

September 29, 2010

What You Can Learn From The Most Interesting Man In The World (Among Other Things)

 

When many companies first think of social media, they think only of what they can do directly through channels like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. But the truth is that while you can do some amazing things directly through any of these sites, the inspiration that your fans are looking for (that will get them to actually engage with you), often comes from elsewhere first.

Such is the case with Dos Equis' Most Interesting Man in the World campaign. Sure, Dos Equis posts an update once every week or two on Facebook, and yeah, they have a treasure hunt competition going on. But, rest assured, neither of those are the reason they have 773,000 of some of the most active fans on Facebook.

The real and obvious reason is the tv commercials. Go ahead and check out their fan page. Every fan post (and there are a lot of them) is some play on the tag lines of the commercials. For example:

The line "stay thirsty my friends" has even generated it's own shorthand on the fan page: STMF.

This doesn't mean that you just have to be using TV, but that your social media campaign doesn't have to be driven by frequent status updates; the driving force behind it can come from elsewhere. Do something interesting offline, in a different medium, or on social media and you'll generate word of mouth. So, get to it! That hilarious, bold, edgy idea you've been sitting on is probably the key to your success on the social web.