Seven Faux Pas to Avoid When with Working Designers

Design is a crucial element to any marketing campaigns success. Creative is an element that is often thought of as something easy to produce.  We, as consumers, know when we like a design and when we don’t. While designers are artists, they also need specific elements to build their works of art.  Over the years, I have played part therapist and design champion for my internal design shops. As a creative and marketer, I listed my seven-faux pas for why designers lose patience when it comes to developing creative deliverables in-house.

  1. Piecemeal information.

Designers are artists who want to spend time creating, not chasing information. Many designers are chasing details because either the client didn’t have all the information together or simply didn’t think it was an “important detail.” Hello, creative brief. When it comes to creating assets for campaigns, designers need all the information at once to understand what they are creating. Piecemeal information inhibits designers for optimizing their time. Optimization is crucial to meeting projects on-time and on-budget. Unless you have unlimited resources, get your details in order.

  1. No clear direction.

29Leading to my second point, many marketers start building campaigns without a clear direction of what they want to achieve. As the adage goes, “lack of planning is planning to fail.” Simple answers to the questions, “who is the audience?” and “how the creative will be consumed?” are immensely helpful to designers. However, marketers sometimes focus on the endgame of getting the campaign complete and out the door. Or worse yet, the marketer is thinking of something completely different creatively which causes challenges for the designer.  Don’t waste the designers time by not drafting a creative brief. Marketers that don’t spend time on the creative brief will inevitably not be on the same page with the designer causing issues with the direction and overall approach. This is maddening considering it is very easy to avoid.

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Five Reasons Why Templates are Critical to Brand Success

As you read the headline, you may shake your head and shrug. Who cares about templates? Templates are so boring. Brand is all about the visual identity some may say.

And my friends, there lies the issue. Templates reinforce the brand, but they are seen as necessary evils that no one wants spend spend time on. It’s tedious work to think about business cards, word documents, proposals, stationery, and guides. It takes several conversations, meetings, countless emails, and time to coordinate and communicate the process.

Truth be told, templates are vital to educate your frontline advocates, employees.

The reality is most brand projects focus on the visual identity and leave templates to the end. And, by the end of the brand process, there is no stamina or money left to build these critical elements. This is a missed opportunity for a number of reasons:

  1. Consistency. The longer you wait to deliver templates, the more difficult it is to maintain consistent message and brand. Why? The larger your organization is, the more templates and versions are floating around. Just ask your sales team. They have different versions and messaging sheets saved on their laptops. Since templates are saved to personal folders or machines, it is not always clear what is current or not.
  2. Governance. Tied closely to consistency, multiple versions of templates make governance challenging because of version control and maintenance. Ask any creative team. If your templates are not updated, it is difficult for them and their partners to maintain the brand and govern identity.
  3. Messaging. Templates may not seem like a messaging vehicle but they are. The colors, pictures, layout, and tone all communicate your brand and what your organization stand for.
  4. Enablement. To change your employees communication of your brand, they need templates to do this. Left to their own devices and ideas, you will have multiple versions and identities that muddle your positioning.
  5. Money. Multiple version equals more money. It is just that simple.

If your company wants to help employees embrace the brand, then make sure to consider how templates will be deployed and used. Spend the time meeting with stakeholders across the business to find out how they use templates. It is tedious to interview everyone, but the end product will not only be visually appealing, but functional.

Culture, Content, and Social: Five Trends to Watch This Summer

lookout for trends

Photo Credit: KaSandra and Grace. On the Lookout for Trends

I don’t know about you, but I am always on the lookout for what’s happening in marketing. I had the opportunity to attend last month’s Sirius Decision Summit. What’s Sirius about?  Sirius Decisions describes the summit as “a place where attendees can see and hear how organizations can blend the very best of art and science, and leave with ideas for how to get started on – or advance – your own initiatives.” It is a great conference for any marketer or communicator looking for frameworks and research on what happening in the market today. If you didn’t have the opportunity to go, here five trends to watch for this summer. 

Social media beyond the basics

There was a lot of discussing of using social listening to enhance competitive intelligence and beef up prospect profiles. During the breakout sessions, it was useful to see what companies can do with some third party help to bolster current prospect info. One organization appended their prospects and customers’ profiles with social data through a third party vendor to fill in missing information and provide better insights. Social media has become more than a place to post your favorite cat video, it has become a place to take data and build better, more informed customer profiles. Results of adding social data to customer profiles? A better understanding of their customers and prospects, this organization improved its open rates to 28 percent and click-through to 9 percent. How good is 9 percent? Pretty awesome given most industries see on average less than five percent.

Content still plaques teams both on creation and effectiveness.

Julie Ogilvie, ‎research director for strategic communications management service at Sirius Decisions, made a simple, but poignant point about social media “All social media problems are content problem.” I think anyone who manages social media teams can emphatically agree. Lots of nodding from the audience on this point alone. Whether you are looking to increase engagement among key audiences or leverage influencers, you need content. That’s easy, right? Not so much. Ultimately, you can’t create content absent of your audience’s needs and motivation an expect good outcomes. Simple, but B2B companies are forgetting the human in social media and not focusing on what people want to engage with.

The concept of building connections across teams

One of the best quotes I heard was the African proverb, “If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far, go together.” How many of you know your team is doing good work, but you’re looking to make more impact within your team or get more budget? Many of the sessions discussed the power of cross-functional sharing and brainstorming with teams to maximize not only knowledge, but also sharing of information. So simple, yet many of us get caught in our own silos and workload. We fail to think about the power of sharing information to better leverage the knowledge of other teams to deliver better campaigns. One session shared how equipping community managers with more information on the onset of a campaign, such as the targeted campaign’s keywords, who are the “right” influencers in the market, and the right content from other marketing teams armed them for social media success. Genius, right? So simple, yet many of us are so caught up with real-time delivery that we forget to take a beat and think about what we are trying to accomplish.

The importance of culture in change management

Often overlooked, but crucially important. It’s not a conference without great quotes, and Sirius Decision is no different: “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” You cannot ignore your culture and its importance to your success. While there was not a whole lot of discussion on the how, I can tell you communications and cross-functional involvement vastly improve your chances of getting your corporate culture to accept your next marketing or communication initiative.

The value of pilot testing

Every campaign at the conference mentioned the value in starting small and narrowing your focus. Rome was not build in a day. By focusing on a pilot and ignoring how you have traditionally done, you can break away from the norms. Do things differently. Not to say all pilots are successful, failure is okay and an opportunity to learn.

It’s only a day into the conference, but I am encouraged and energized in learning the new and innovative approach out there today. Also, there is still time to follow the conference hashtag, #SDSummit for more great information on Twitter.

The Art of the Pitch: Seven Ways to Present with Purpose

The Art

As my grad students raced to the end of the semester culminating the end of their graduate studies, their last task is to present their communication capstone plans to peers and faculty. The capstone course, similar to a thesis, requires students to perform as communications consultants by finding a cause or company to develop a strategic communications plans. This task alone for some of them is harder than their 50 plus page plans.

Many of you can relate to the daunting task of presenting your precious ideas to an audience who may or may not be interested. With this in mind, I shared my seven ways to presenting their ideas with purpose and intent.

  1. Be human

First and foremost, people buy from people. Whether it’s an idea or a product, you still have to convey your point to a human or group of them. While a presentation with the bells and whistles of video and animation are great supplements, don’t forget to connect with the audience. Body language experts point out the importance of eye contact to connect, which shows sincerity and helps create a sense of trust between people – an important skill for successful presenters. Looking at your notes will not help convey confidence, so lose them.

  1. Don’t phone it in

Nothing is worse than watching a presenter who does not believe in or passionately present his or her ideas. A few years ago, I watched a well-known agency pitch for my organization’s business and it was evident the team was just going through the motions. It was underwhelming and noticed by all in the room. If you are in front of an audience, make sure the audience believe in what you are saying – it’s a skill, just ask the Nike pitch-team who reportedly lost the opportunity to renew Stephen Curry’s sponsorship deal. Some serious gaffes and Nike lost $14B.  Ouch!  So, if you think you can rest on your charm and good looks, think again.

  1. Start with your strongest idea first

One of the best pieces of advice I every received on pitching stemmed from two instructors who were former executives at Weber Shandwick: Always start with your strongest idea. By starting with your strongest idea, you build upon your enthusiasm and take the audience with you. The audience will be swept up by your passion and excitement for the idea. Everything else is gravy after that.

  1. Don’t worry if you forget any parts of your presentation

This nugget is for all my meticulous friends out there. I have seen some great presentation become disasters because people forget a few words. Here’s something to consider: you are the only person who knows the presentation and all the juicy points. If you miss one, don’t worry about it, just keep going. You can always recover, and if you miss something, take that nugget and mention it somewhere else in the presentation.

  1. Don’t wing it

All awesome presentation start with a plan and an outline. No matter if the presentation is 5 minutes or 2 hours, always be prepared. In fact, I would say shorter presentations are harder because you have less time to get your point across. Nancy Duarte gives some excellent pointers how to craft your presentation into an effective, powerful story. Outline what you want to say so that you can see, from a high level, if you will achieve your goal.

  1. Know where you want to end

Similar to number 5, plan out what is the end takeaway(s) you want to audience to have. If you plan with the end in mind, it helps the rest of the presentation make that point again and again. Each slide should articulate your point and at the end, there should be no question what your action item is.

  1. Use visuals strategically

Use more visuals than words. Less words is always better. It works in your favor because your audience will pay attention to what you say verses reading it. Visuals can convey emotions and provide more impact than words. A picture is worth a thousand words isn’t just a cliché but words of wisdom. Here is my own take on how the power of visuals helps convey your point.

As with all presentations, you have to own it. Have presence and confidence to convey your words. Use these pointers to craft your presentation with confidence.

2015 in Review

This year the WordPress.com team put together a 2015 annual report of Metscher’s Musings. I thought it was a great idea from WordPress. Take a look.  What would you add as your favorite blog post this year?

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 3,900 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Branding You: Seven Steps to Building Your Online Brand Using LinkedIn

What’s the first thing you do before you meet someone?

Most people pull out their mobile to “Google” the person’s name. Nowadays, it is a necessity to monitor your online brand. When it comes to managing your brand for “You, Inc.,” what do you stand for?

My question stems from a recent presentation I did at Georgetown on how to build an online brand using LinkedIn.  As an alumni, it’s important to me to share my work-related experiences with students as they navigate the often murky, unpredictable job market. Grad school is challenging enough, but coupled with figuring out how to get a job afterwards is both frightening and frustrating. Answering both practical and specific questions on “getting a job in marketing or communications,” my presentation focused on breaking down how to craft a killer LinkedIn profile. Because if you cannot cut through the noise and standout from other graduates, getting that elusive job becomes harder than your Capstone project.

So, what if you’re not a grad student, is it worth worrying about your brand? Is personal branding really that important? I think there are several reasons why to answer this with “yes,” but the most succinct answer can be found on Wikipedia,

“Branding has reached a new level of imperative because of the rise of the Internet. The growth of the virtual world created the necessity of managing online identities. Despite being expressly virtual, social media and online identity has the ability to affect the real world. Because Individuals want to portray themselves a certain way to their social circle, they may work to maintain a certain image on their social media sites. As a result, social media enables the creation of an online identity that may not be completely true to the real self.”

Branding is more than logos, sharp messages, and collateral. Ultimately, what you put online and what people experience about you is your brand. Period.

Still want more? I shared a few colleagues personal branding advice and tips a few years back.

Other throwbacks worth a read:

Five Social Media Tips for Millennials

Eight LinkedIn Profile Tips to Tie Storytelling to Your Personal Brand

Eight Tips on How to Present at Your Next Industry Conference

Are You an Adaptive 21st Century Leader?

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend a regional marketing event called North by Midwest in Minneapolis. More than 200 marketers packed Olson’s office to hear many of today’s movers and shakers talk about the new consumer realities confronting marketers and brands. If you didn’t get a chance to attend, check out some of the nuggets from the event. 

Adaptive Leadership

Image Credit: HR.BLR.com

Roselinde Torres, senior partner and managing director, The Boston Consulting Group, led a thought-provoking session on 21st century leadership. While there are timeless leadership qualities such as integrity, intelligence, and vision, Torres introduced four traits that successful leaders have leading their organizations through the ambiguous, uncertain world.

Check out the four traits and summary on Olson Insight Blog.

Note: This event is hosted by the firm I work for and I was sent to blog about the event.