As Thanksgiving approaches, I’m grateful for the people in my life: a wonderful family, great friends, phenomenal clients.
I’m also very thankful for the brilliant, insightful, and engaging people I’ve “met” online, and for the social media technologies that make that possible.
Lifelong learning has always been vital for career success, but social media has simultaneously made it easier and much broader. In the pre-Internet days, professionals kept their knowledge and skills up to date by attending conferences, reading books, and subscribing to trade magazines.
Many still use those same resources, but also broaden their perspective and specific expertise through social media. The problem with relying on “paid” media is that the costs of print publishing and events necessarily limit the number of “voices” that can be heard to the most popular.
Though such voices still command large audiences, blogging and social networks have greatly increased the number of voices that can be heard. Smart people with interesting perspectives who may, for a variety of reasons, not have been published in traditional media can attract modestly sized but specialized and highly engaged audiences online. Professionals have a much wider and richer range of sources to turn to for ongoing learning.
I’m grateful this year in particular for the expanding list of marketing and PR professionals who really stand out in terms of producing and sharing valuable content and being socially engaging. Here’s a partial visual snapshot; you can find and subscribe to the full list here. Check out these experts; you may find yourself thankful for them well before this time next year.
Guest post by Robert Murphy, Managing Partner at Movéo.
In today’s world, technology and marketing conditions are dynamic, but clients still demand predictable results, minimized waste and accountability. In order to achieve these goals, marketers must master the ability to collect the right data and then glean insights to drive strategy and measure effectiveness. The smartest marketers not only understand this approach, but are leading the charge to take it mainstream.
During upfront planning, it’s essential for marketers to use the right tools, analyze data, pull out meaningful insights and use that information to craft a strong strategy. On the back end, data allows marketers to measure the success of a campaign or program and optimize future plans based on those results.
This has changed the way we as marketers work. Jiani Zhang, Movéo’s Director Vice President of Data and Insights puts it best:
“We have easier access to more and more data in all kinds of areas to help us make decisions, build better and more engaging customer experiences, dig out insights and uncover opportunities, rather than thinking about everything with a gut feeling and guesswork,” says Zhang. “[Data] and the insights we gather from it helps us make more efficient, more accurate decisions.”
Along with the demand for data comes the demand for talented data analysts—marketing specialists who understand how to interpret 21st-century data and identify insights that will inform their clients’ strategies and ultimately help them achieve their business goals.
So what exactly are agencies and companies looking for in a data analyst? What characteristics do you need to succeed in today’s data-driven marketing world?
Statistical analysis is only one part of the job. Data analysts need a creative spirit, one that pushes them to experiment, remain flexible and solve problems with a new, fresh perspective. And though there’s plenty of solo work time, they have to be able to share knowledge and collaborate as a team member. “I spend about a third of my day in front of a white board, with my team brainstorming different ways we can solve a problem,” says Dean Malmgren, a Data Scientist and Partner at Datascope Analytics. “That’s a very collaborative thing.”
Top-notch data analysts look for the meaning—the “why”—behind the numbers. With an insatiable drive to discover actionable insights, they constantly ask questions and search for solutions. Curiosity fuels them and the possibility of failure doesn’t scare them.
Matt Webster, Executive Vice President of Strategy and Planning at Movéo believes curiosity is the “one crucial character trait” for those working with data. “At the end of the day, what you really want is someone who’s curious, who enjoys drilling into data and spending a lot of time with it, hours on end, and coming up with a big insight that fuels the development of a strategy,” says Webster.
3. A strategic perspective
While data analysts often have to dig deep and get lost in data, those who are most effective also have the ability to think beyond a tactical level. With a “big picture” outlook, they keep both the client’s goals and the end customers in mind. Countless tools and theories exist, but these analysts have the wisdom to know which are most relevant to the current project and how to apply them appropriately.
4. Effective communication skills
Great data analysts understand how to transform meaningful data into digestible insights and how to communicate those insights to a wide range of audiences—everyone from clients to the creative team and the IT department. “Storytelling is a very important skill—to [be able to] translate the numbers, the metrics, into very clear and straightforward, actionable and engaging stories,” says Zhang.
By distilling the data into something simple, something people can believe in, data analysts have the ability to make people care. “People need to trust the results,” says Malmgren. “The only thing that makes a data-driven tool useful is whether or not you trust the [results] it puts in front of you. Developing that trust by making sure [the data is] communicated in an effective way is really important.”
5. Continuous learning
Data analysis goes far beyond number-crunching. New technology, tools and theories require the most talented data analysts to stay up-to-date by attending industry events, reading widely and making connections. These folks are proactive thinkers who thrive off of being challenged, day in and day out. As Zhang says, “Be hungry.”
6. Statistical and technical expertise
Of course, it’s impossible to be a stand-out data analyst without strong technical skills. Data interpretation at this level requires critical analysis without bias or expectation, as well as a deep understanding of tools, formulas and models that comes from hands-on experience.
As marketers continue to explore how to best use data to inform strategy and measure effectiveness, data analysts will play a larger role in proving the value of marketing dollars.
“Marketing has always been seen as an expense to [clients],” says Webster. “The marketing team wants to be viewed [as an investment] and have a seat at the table with the C-suite. If the CMO wants that seat, they have to manage against numbers the same way the CFO is doing it.”
Robert Murphy is a Managing Partner at Movéo. For 27+ years Movéo has partnered with category leading brands to craft strategies and build tactics that engage audiences and drive business growth. At Movéo, Murphy manages the Data & Insights group, as well as the Strategy & Planning team. He has been named to BtoB Magazine’s list of “Who’s Who, Key Thought Leaders, Movers & Shakers” and is a member of the Board of Directors for the Japan America Society of Chicago.
What are you laughing at?
If the answer is “nothing,” then you need to read this post!
Humor can be a highly effective element in marketing campaigns, whether the goal is get people laughing at our competitors, at themselves, or even at us.
Kick back, relax for a few minutes, and check out these 24 examples of some of the best marketing and business humor of the past year or so.
The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made by Air New Zealand
Air New Zealand celebrates it’s tie in with the popular Hobbit Trilogy movie franchise by creating quite possibly the best airplane safety video ever (though Southwest Airlines does a pretty awesome job with this as well).
A very clever twist on a horror classic.
3 PPC Fails That Can Hurt Your Brand by ClickZ
Michelle Morehouse provides serious advice on pitfalls to avoid in PPC advertising, but uses unusually entertaining examples to illustrate her points, including “The World’s Worst Website” and this:
First, THIS is how to handle complaint trolls, and second, it’s also how to make weekday morning news shows actually seem interesting.
While PhotoShopping is nothing new, this guy’s work really is amazing. Check out this eight-image collection.
Parallel Consumerverse: If Retailers Were Like Google | The Checkout
Inappropriate search suggestion autocomplete, irrelevant search results, creepy re-marketing ads…this video brilliantly nails it all.
The 18 Most Hilarious And Clever Print Ads Ever by Business Insider
Okay, perhaps not most hilarious and clever ever, but certainly amusing and worth wasting a few minutes with.
12 Smart Jokes That Make You Sound Like a Genius by Reader’s Digest
Andy Simmons presents a dozen jokes that will make people think. Or at least make them think you’re a nerd. Sample: Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused Novocaine during a root canal? His goal: transcend dental medication.
Strategic Humor: Cartoons from the March 2014 Issue by Harvard Business Review
Josh Olejarz showcases cartoon caption winners from HBR.
Strategic Humor: Cartoons from the November 2014 Issue by Harvard Business Review
If you enjoyed the cartoons above, check out this updated collection.
25 hilariously unexplainable images by Just something (creative)
Just a collection of images that, as the title of the post implies, defy explanation. Really.
17 Cartoons that Will Change Your Business by Brian Solis
Brian Solis shares a collection of cartoons created by Hugh MacLeod for Brian’s book, What’s the Future of Business. This post highlights the first cartoon, all of which are compiled in a Slideshare presentation.
The Hundred Best Lists of All Time by The New Yorker
Not all of the lists on this list of lists compiled by Gary Belsky are funny per se, but the list is quite extraordinary. Some of the lists are actually useful (e.g., U.S. News and World Report’s best-college rankings and “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”) while others are…just interesting (such as The World Rock Paper Scissors player’s responsibility code and the 1927 Yankees’ opening-day lineup).
Dracula’s LinkedIn Profile by Social Media Today
This is actually a serious post from Celina Guerrero on how to optimize your LinkedIn profile, but it creatively uses Count Dracula’s LinkedIn account as an example.
20 Funny Tweets Your Brand Should Take Seriously by Mashable
Max Knoblauch shares a collection of brand tweets that are funny, creative, or in some cases, just plain odd. But they seemed to resonate with Twitterers.
“#Hashtag” with Jimmy Fallon & Justin Timberlake (Late Night with Jimmy Fallon)
On the off-chance you haven’t already seen this – Jimmy Fallon and JT spoof hashtags, showing “what a Twitter conversation sounds like in real life.”
10 hilarious digital media parodies by iMedia Connection
From “Catvertising” to “Are Chairs Like Facebook” to “I Have Timeline” to “”CIA’s ‘Facebook’ Program Dramatically Cuts Agency’s Costs,” here are 10 of the best spoofs and satires of digital marketing and media. Some are a bit dated, but still funny.
9 of the craziest PR and social media requests by Ragan’s PR Daily
Writing “With the assistance of Help A Reporter Out (HARO), I wanted to document some of the craziest, most absurd requests or assignments PR and social media professionals have received,” Ryan Greives has compiled quite a list here, with such gems as ““Please have Matt Lauer read this exact script” and “Get Queen Noor and NASA on the phone.” Enough to make PR pros laugh (or maybe cry).
Digital Marketing Buzzword Bingo by Digital Growth
For some interactive fun, Luke Chapman offers a downloadable digital marketing buzzword (Key Influencers, Halo Effect, Content is King, etc.) bingo card to print and bring along to your next marketing meeting or seminar. “Cross out a square each time you hear the buzzword. When you have an entire row crossed out, stand up and shout ‘BINGO!'” Something you probably don’t want to try when your boss is speaking.
THIS JUST IN: Harvard professor explains how to perfectly market on mobile by iMedia Connection
Harvard professor of network marketing Ellis Fowler has provided a step-by-step guide to mobile marketing, and reportedly “doesn’t understand why digital marketers find mobile so confusing.” I won’t spoil it, but this is worth a quick look.
5 Funniest Pinterest Parodies by SEO Chat
The wild success of Pinterest has inspired the creation of other photo-sharing platforms, but also some parodies. Here are five rather interesting sites designed to playfully mock the original, including Pinstrosity (which includes categories “like missing directions, misprinted supplies, cleaning tips gone awry, DIY project fails and less than stellar recipes”) and Really Pinterest?, a showcase for some of the oddest shared images, like this one.
12 Vertical Social Networking Sites You May Not Know Of by TwittNotes
Sure, LinkedIn is for professionals, Pinterest is for sharing recipes, and Snapchat is for exhibitionists, but this collection of specialty social networks goes way beyond. There’s Ravelry, a network just for “knitters, weavers, spinners, and crocheters”; Catster, a community for cat lovers; and many more.
20 Worst Advertising Placement Fails by Bored Panda
When good creative meets bad placement, the results can be embarrassing for brands, but funny for everyone else. Check out these unfortunate but amusing examples.
How To Be Funny: Stand-Up Comic Takes Public Speakers to School by DIY Blogger NET
Humor doesn’t come naturally to all of us. Okay, more like not to most of us. Looking for some expert guidance on how to liven up your next presentation? Watch as standup comic Brendan Fitzgibbons gives Dino Dogan practical tips on how to be funny. This video is useful (though not short—about 26 minutes).
The 2014 B2B Content Marketing Report is out, and no doubt will spur a number of blog posts. As usual, this year’s findings are a mix of the obvious (lead generation is the top goal of content marketing – as it has been for the last 10,000 years or so) and the somewhat surprising. For example, having a documented strategy makes companies much more successful–but only 30% of firms have a formally documented content strategy. And content marketing ROI remains difficult to measure.
1. Current customers may be under-valued. As noted above, lead generation is the top goal (59%) of content marketers; no surprise there. However, just 17% of survey respondents identified “Customer loyalty/retention” as a goal. Yet existing customers can be a company’s most effective and valuable advocates.
2. Content marketing is not about revenue. Just 16% of respondents said revenue generation was a top goal. Not surprising, as it’s never been easy to tie most marketing activities directly to dollars in. There are simply too many variables in the equation: price, product features, sales processes and skills, and the fact it takes multiple brand exposures (you’ve likely heard of the advertising rule of seven) before a prospect will buy.
Those seven (or eight, or 12) brand exposures can come through a variety of channels—industry news sites, social networks, blogs, online ads, analyst reports, search—which is why content development forms the base of a web presence optimization strategy.
3. Having a documented content marketing strategy is vital. Companies with a documented strategy are three times as likely as those without to describe their content marketing as “very” or “extremely” effective–and only one-third as likely to say they are “not sure” of its effectiveness.
4. Strategy means money… Nearly two-thirds (64%) of companies that have a documented content marketing strategy also have a dedicated content marketing budget. But just 14% of companies without a documented strategy have a dedicated budget for content creation and distribution.
5. …though often not enough money… Despite the importance of content marketing, 43% of companies devote less than 20% of their total marketing budget to content creation and distribution. More than a quarter spend 10% or less. Just 10% spend in the ideal range of 25-30%. On the other hand, more than three-quarters (77%) of marketers plan to increase spending on content production in the next 12 months.
6. …and strategy (often) includes automation. More than two-thirds (69%) of companies that have a documented content marketing strategy also use marketing automation. But just 42% of firms without a written strategy use such tools.
7. Content marketing starts with blogging. Blogging is the most commonly used content marketing format, with nearly two-thirds of survey respondents maintaining blogs. Rounding out the top five tactics are:
- • Social media (64%)
- • Case studies (64%)
- • White papers (55%)
- • Press releases (51%)
On the other hand, webinars/webcasts are used by less than half of b2b marketers. And less than 10% report using tactics like branded apps, podcasts, printed books, or games.
8. The C-suite is asking for metrics… Consistent with recent years, the top two content marketing challenges remain a lack of time/resources to create content, and the inability to create enough content variety and volume. However, this year’s report notes, “Measuring the effectiveness of content marketing has risen from the number six spot last year (28%) to number four (38%) reflecting increasing pressure to demonstrate results and justify investment in content marketing.”
Responding to those demands will require CMOs and marketing leaders to investigate a new class of tools designed to measure multi-channel web and competitive metrics, rather that relying on point solutions (social media monitoring, web metrics) that provide limited, siloed views.
9. …but ROI measurement remains elusive. Just 39% of marketers believe they are “at least somewhat successful at tracking content marketing ROI.” Yet as noted above, there is increasing pressure to provide such measurement. Closing this gap will require marketers to embrace a new breed of metrics to support improved marketing decision making.
10. The connections aren’t always clear. Not surprisingly, the top metrics used to measure content marketing success are website traffic (63%) and downloads / conversions (59%). More surprisingly though, just a third of marketers identify “social media sharing” or “SEO / search engine ranking” as key metrics—even though these are vital in supporting those top two metrics.
And just 19% cited “inbound links” as key metric, despite the fact that link earning through content marketing is essential to maintaining strong organic search presence in the post-Penguin world.
11. Outside talent can help. As noted above, most marketers say they are resource-constrained in producing enough volume or variety of content. Yet more than half (53%) rely on corporate marketing for content production. 36% depend on internal subject matter experts (SMEs, who have content knowledge, but not format knowledge) and just 30% on external agencies or consultants (the flipside of internal SMEs, with expertise in format but not product or service knowledge).
Connecting external resources with internal SMEs enables companies to produce more high-value content with less corporate or product marketing effort. And yet—25% of marketers don’t outsource any content creation, and less than 1-in-5 (19%) outsource half or more of all content development.
In terms of what types of content creation are outsourced, it’s not surprising that the majority of companies keeping blogging (76%) and case study writing (78%) in-house. But it is surprising that less than a quarter of marketers outsource the production of content formats requiring specialized skills, such as white papers, videos, and infographics.
12. Outside sources can help, too. 92% of companies create content internally (no surprise). But just 38% report that they “curate or syndicate third-party content.” An ideal content marketing strategy should contain a mix of internally and externally produced content, both to maximize the value of content to the company’s target audience and make the most efficient use of content development resources.
13. LinkedIn rules, Facebook…not so much. Per the report, “LinkedIn tops the list of the most effective social media platforms to deliver content and engage audiences (82%).” Just 41% of B2B marketers, however, say that Facebook is effective for content delivery. That’s nearly a mirror image of the B2C content marketing world, where 90% of marketers rely on Facebook but just 51% use LinkedIn.
14. Weekly content updates are the norm. 40% of marketers say they publish new content either “weekly” or “multiple times per month” (i.e., roughly weekly). 30% publish just once per month or less, and 30% publish more than weekly (multiple times per week or daily).
There’s much more, so check out the complete 2014 B2B Content Marketing Report to review all of the findings.
If there’s one universal truth in business today, it’s that everyone is busy. This is what drives people to try to multitask (even though it’s not possible). It’s why we’re told that as marketers, we have only 30 seconds (or less) to get a reader’s attention, and why 40% of website visitors will abandon a page that takes more than three seconds to load (four or five seconds – who’s got that kind of time?!).
It’s certainly not the case that five years ago, workers had all the time in the world–that they could stresslessly ponder the ramifications of and reflect upon the results of each task. No, people were already very busy back in 2008-2009; but the great recession magnified this. Many large companies have discovered how much they can get done with how little, and are unlikely to relax demands much even in an improving employment climate.
Here then are five ways to get more done without simply working longer hours.
The Rock-Pebble-Sand-Water Model
If you’re not familiar with this model, it involves categorizing tasks as either rocks (large and important projects), pebbles (smaller, but still somewhat important activities), sand (the small stuff, e.g., checking email) and water (everything else). The idea is that if you think of your time as a jar and start by filling it with pebbles and sand, the rocks will never fit it.
But if you put the rocks into your “jar” first, the pebbles, sand and water will fill in the spaces.
This model is popular with management gurus, but can be challenging to implement. The key is to understand that, ultimately, you have to decide which of your tasks are really rocks–and which are pebbles, sand, or even something that just doesn’t belong in your jar at all.
The Eisenhower Decision Matrix
In the Eisenhower Decision Matrix (originally developed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower but later popularized by Stephen Covey), tasks are organized into four boxes, with the degree of urgency on one scale and importance on the other.
Items that are both urgent and important (significant problems or opportunities) represent the largest “rocks” in the model above. Tasks that are important but not necessarily urgent (e.g., getting a blog post written for next week, catching up on project management organization) are smaller rocks. They have to get done, just not necessarily immediately.
Two important considerations when using this model are 1) making clear who decides which tasks are in which box (as it’s likely not everyone will agree on either the urgency or importance of any given task) and 2) properly setting expectations, particularly for those tasks which are important but not urgent.
Combine either or both of the models above with scheduling or day planning.
Once beyond college age, the majority of people are most mentally alert in the early morning hours. To take advantage of this, use the first part of the morning (i.e., from as early as you’re able to start work until about 10:00) to take care of “rocks” or urgent+important tasks, particularly those requiring significant mental effort.
Use the “core” hours of the day (10:00 to 4:00) for tasks involving communication and coordination with others, and late afternoon for tasks requiring time and effort but not strenuous mental exertion.
To help maintain this regimen, minimize checking email during the early morning and late afternoon time slots.
The Pomodoro Technique
While there’s an entire book devoted to this strategy, to grossly oversimplify, the Pomodoro technique involves working in short 25-minute bursts of concentrated effort, punctuated by five-minute breaks. After four “pomodoros” (Italian for “tomatoes”) have passed, you take a longer (15-20 minute) break.
Writers and others who need to get and stay “in the zone” mentally for a bit longer in order to be optimally productive may opt for what could be called the “big tomato” or “ripe tomato” variation of this strategy: work for 60-90 minute periods, followed by a 10-15 minute break, with a 30-minute break after three such stretches.
The most direct way to get more done is to get more people working. “Many hands make light work,” as your grandmother may have said.
Delegation is not only for those in management roles. Bloggers, for example, can delegate by inviting guest posters to contribute content or asking experts to answer questions for a round-up post.
Freelancers can be hired, often at nominal cost, to perform specific tasks. And partnering with another individual–and sharing the credit–is a great way to double the end result of a project, or cut the effort required in half.
What productivity hacks do you find most useful?