Struggling to Generate Good Content? Go Full On Club Kid Lauren Nelson | August 23rd, 2016
Ah, college. Those were the days, weren’t they? Our first real taste of freedom. New friends. New Experiences. More down time than we could appreciate in the moment. And oh, the parties. The glorious, glorious parties.
I’m not talking about the keggers at the local frat house or the regularly scheduled Friday night beer pong. I’m talking about the themed parties. Those were always the best. They had all the ingredients of a regular party, but they boasted something extra: creativity.
Anyone can run to the mall and pick out a killer outfit. But assembling the perfect Club Kid ensemble? That took skill. A selfie is a selfie is a selfie, but add in glitter, wings, and theatrical makeup and you’ve got the makings of a masterpiece. And while it’s definitely easier to pick up a bag of ice, stack up red solo cups, put out some cheap bottles of booze, and throw on some music, it doesn’t guarantee your event will be memorable. No, themed bashes ruled supreme.
Maybe our bodies aren’t ready to relive the all night blowouts of our youth, but this walk down memory lane serves a purpose. Because much like a theme could turn your party from run of the mill to talk of the town, incorporating themes into your marketing plans can help revitalize a stagnant brand experience.
Let’s be real for a second: marketing is impossibly difficult in the age of the internet. It’s no longer just about having the right TV spot or ad campaign in a magazine. You’ve got to churn out quality content that satisfies the gods of SEO, relevance, and fickle interests to make things work, and you’ve got to do it consistently. That’s no easy feat.
So it’s understandable if you find yourself blanking on what to do next every now and then. But if you find yourself struggling and your audience yawning, make like a sorority with dwindling social status and throw yourself a themed marketing bash.
What do we mean? Let’s say we’re talking about September. What happens in September? Well, for starters, everyone is back in school. What if you themed your marketing efforts around education in some way, shape, or form?
You could be an investment firm and launch a month-long crash course on asset allocation — leveraging email, content, social, and web design in the campaign. You could be an independent book publisher and offer an alternative fiction syllabus consisting of some of your latest and greatest novels — making lists on Amazon, blasting your prior customers, and running an ad campaign on Facebook. You could be a life coach and provide a month-long seminar package that focus on learning and growth — using a trial of sorts to hook potential customers moving forward.
In other words, pick a theme and host a month-long marketing party around that concept. The possibilities here are endless, and the strategy yields two unique benefits.
For starters, it’s a great way to give your marketing the kick in the pants it needs. Pulling great ideas for content out of thin air without any sense of direction can be a challenge, but if your brainstorming revolves around a specific theme, you’re more likely to come up with really creative and out of the box concepts. If this strategy is executed on a semi-regular basis, you put yourself in a great position to deliver a consistently surprising and exemplary brand experience.
But beyond that, it’s also way more engaging in terms of audience interaction. If your brand is constantly building excitement — inviting people to participate in the latest party — you’re more likely to see the sorts of engagement you strive for on a day to day basis.
So go for it! Have your brand plan a party! All the cool kids are doing it.
Wind Up Your Productivity and Creativity by Winding Down Lauren Nelson | August 19th, 2016
In today’s world, a huge premium is put on staying busy. How many hours are you working? How much are you getting done during those hours? What are you doing that’s productive when you’re not working?
These questions aren’t necessarily bad. You want to make sure you’re making progress towards goals. But that mad sprint is a double edged sword. If you pack your day full of nothing but work, you might be doing a lot more harm than good in your pursuit of excellence.
The issue is compounded when stress enters the equation. Things like writers block, for instance, can be even worse for someone facing hectic deadlines or internal pressure because it creates a potent sense of urgency. That just makes the problem worse.
Launch Your Startup with an Infographic Nick Bowersox | August 18th, 2016
Image credit: Everlane
In 2011, it was relatively unknown that most designer tees are marked up as much as 10 times. In the traditional retail model, manufacturers normally double their cost before selling clothing to a retailer, who then doubles or triples the cost they paid. Ultimately, a $6 tee shirt can be sold to the consumer for $50 or more.
This simple fact led Michael Preysman to create Everlane, an online retail startup that intended to sell “Barney’s quality at one-third the price.”
His startup’s formula was relatively straight-forward: Focus on making one thing really well (in this case, a tee shirt) and disrupt the traditional retail model by selling high-quality products for only two times the cost. Though the formula was simple, Preysman knew that a bit of industry knowledge is required for a customer to truly understand the value of Everlane. Most customers happily pay retail prices and are unaware just how little the actual cost of an item is. If Everlane simply competed on price, the brand could be considered “cheap” instead of “disruptive.”
So, Preysman set out to educate his potential customers prior to launching. Read the rest of this post »
Fresh from the SPRING: newziner Audree | August 18th, 2016
The Key to Startup Success? Bend it Like Beckham Lauren Nelson | August 17th, 2016
20 years ago, in the summer of 1996, a young David Beckham electrified the crowd at Selhurst Park. He’d noticed that Wimbledon keeper Neil Sullivan was off his line, which left him with an opportunity. It was a long shot — 50 yards long, to be exact. But Beckham went for it.
And Beckham scored.
It was an iconic moment that launched the fresh faced soccer (football, for the rest of the world) player into superstardom. It was also, arguably, ill advised. The odds of making a shot like that are astronomically low, particularly with that caliber of competition. But Beckham knew that sometimes you’ve got to take a chance to win big.
You don’t have to be a Beckham or soccer fan to appreciate what happened in that moment, and you don’t have to be a Beckham or soccer fan to learn from and emulate the gumption Beckham showed that day. Because at some point, you’re going to be at the 50 yard line facing a long shot, and you’re going to need to take it. This is especially true for startups.
One of the biggest mistakes a young company will make is waiting to get closer to the goal line before launching. Of course, no one wants to launch something that they don’t feel is at 100%, but this “safe rather than sorry” mindset can mean you miss scoring altogether. As storied computer scientist, venture capitalist, and essayist Paul Graham wrote in 2006:
Startups make all kinds of excuses for delaying their launch. Most are equivalent to the ones people use for procrastinating in everyday life. There’s something that needs to happen first. Maybe. But if the software were 100% finished and ready to launch at the push of a button, would they still be waiting?
One reason to launch quickly is that it forces you to actually finish some quantum of work. Nothing is truly finished till it’s released; you can see that from the rush of work that’s always involved in releasing anything, no matter how finished you thought it was. The other reason you need to launch is that it’s only by bouncing your idea off users that you fully understand it.
Several distinct problems manifest themselves as delays in launching: working too slowly; not truly understanding the problem; fear of having to deal with users; fear of being judged; working on too many different things; excessive perfectionism. Fortunately you can combat all of them by the simple expedient of forcing yourself to launch something fairly quickly.
In other words, sometimes you need to take that 50 yard shot. It’s scary and comes with no small amount of risk, but it can be exactly what you need to jump start your latest great idea into reality. And if you’re serious and passionate, the pressure added by laying it all on the line can motivate you to really deliver something high quality.
So as we all work on our respective projects and smile at the memory of a young David Beckham making his mark, ask yourself: am I going to throw away my shot?
Seven Things Designers Wish You Knew Lauren Nelson | August 16th, 2016
Being a designer is hard. Like, really hard. Not only do you need to study and practice, and then study and practice some more, but then you begin the often grueling process of finding work. It’s worth it, though, because they get to do something they’re passionate about.
Well, they’re passionate about the actual design part. Managing the customer relationship? Usually not so much, largely because a lot of the people and companies who hire designers don’t necessarily understand everything that goes into a design job.
So to make life easier for everyone involved and encourage revelry in the joy of design, here are seven things designers wish their customers knew.
How Meredith Grey Can Revitalize Your Marketing Efforts Lauren Nelson | August 15th, 2016
It happens to the best of us. Your marketing gets stuck in a rut.
I’m not talking about a website that needs an overhaul or an ad campaign that needs a refresh. I mean things just get stale. You’re doing everything right, technically speaking, but you’re not getting results because your perfectly adequate strategy is also perfectly unremarkable. All technique — no style.
Read the rest of this post »
Weekend Reads: Olympic Champions Lauren Nelson | August 12th, 2016
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that athletes from around the world are kickin’ butt and takin’ names down in Rio right now. Stateside, we’ve cheered and cried as Phelps, Biles, Ledecky, and Simone Manuel have delievered golden performances, and we’re looking forward to ongoing coverage of folks like Raven Saunders, Jenny Arthur, Claressa Shields, Foluke Akinradewo, Nico Hernández, and more.
But as we cheer on the red, white, and blue, we’re also thinking about the years of dedicated study and practice these athletes put in for a shot at a medal, and how all of us could benefit from emulating their work ethic. Do you want to be a champion in your chosen field? Here are some weekend reads to help keep your eye on the prize:
Are you bringing the personality, spunk, and sass of Laurie Hernandez when you step up to the social media plate? Get inspired by some of the best social media campaigns of 2016.
Are you fearless in the face of impossible odds, bold enough to accomplish huge firsts like Simone Manuel when you get to work on content marketing? These folks certainly were.
Are you relentless, constantly honing your campaign, and kicking the competition’s butt like Kayla Harrison with your ad campaigns? If not, these folks might have some pointers.
Are you, like the incomparable Simone Biles, striving every day to not only beat those competing for your customers, but the personal bests you’ve set in the past? Here are some examples of companies who do… and how they’ve won.
Can you, like Lilly King, back up your smack talk when it comes to design? Need some inspiration to get to that point? Check out these 42 amazing designs to get the creative juices running.
But as Le Clos learned after a brutal beating at the hands of Phelps, winners focus on winning; losers focus on winners. It’s good to learn from the best. It’s better to redefine it on your own terms. Food for thought for your weekend!
Tips and Tricks for Maintaining Productivity on the Road Arielle Kimbarovsky | August 12th, 2016
Image credit: Lisa Jacobs
I love to travel, even when traveling exclusively for business. It’s always fun to explore new places, people, and adventures. In fact, some entrepreneurs believe that traveling helps them to be more creative, improves productivity, and increases their expertise – so they travel even while running their company!
Whether it’s for business or relaxation, travel is often a large time commitment. And while it is extremely valuable to be connected worldwide, the price of time can be costly. Think about it – even a simple two hour flight becomes a four hour airport ordeal by the time you go through baggage, security, and find your gate. And even if that flight is just two hours, it’s probably sometime in the middle of the day – cutting into your productivity or causing you to have to work through a break. Yikes!
Luckily, we can overcome some of the pain when traveling by using the many digital devices we already carry with us – laptops, tablets, and smartphones. For many people, work is reasonably transportable, turning an unproductive block of time into something useful, if it’s carefully planned.
To make travel productive, however, you must plan ahead. And since you can never predict everything about your trip, here are some of our favorite tips to help you stay productive while traveling.