Business as Art

A few of our favourite things: 2016 Edition

With 2016 fast nearing its end, we took some time out to compile a list of a few…

This is the droid we were looking for

Well before the new Star Wars release, one character stole the show and our hearts – and it wasn’t a Skywalker, but a rolling droid.

When this droid rolled on stage back in July, the world’s collective jaw dropped to realise, this wasn’t a special effect, this is real.

Its almost nonsensical that a metal ball can be so expressive, so human.

Even more fascinating is the story behind BB8…

Thought Leadership

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a knowledge worker.

As knowledge workers, the value we bring to our world is no longer in our physical labour.

Our currency is in ideas.

And rare, desirable currency is in the form of valuable ideas.

Should we outsource content creation?

In this age of Content Marketing, we’re often asked by clients: “Should we outsource content creation?”

More often than not, the reason this question comes up is because a Search Engine Optimiser has put the fear of God into our client who is now scrambling to ‘catch up’ with competitors who have all been using content for SEO purposes.

Firstly, creating content for the sole purpose of SEO on the surface appears right, but is in reality …

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away

Such is the power of the Force that any Star Wars fan who weren’t at last night’s launch, will have to abandon social media today (or at the least, tread carefully) to not have spoilers revealed.

How did Star Wars get to a stage where earned media is so strong, that consumers can’t even avoid impressions even if they tried?

What can Brands learn from George Lucas and the most profitable franchise in history? …

Giving

In an incredible open letter to his newborn baby, Mark Zuckerberg last week publicly pledged to give away 99% of his Facebook shares (worth USD $45 billion) to solving the world’s biggest problems.

How could we create so much value for the world that we could live on just 1% of our income?

‘Tis the season for giving.

Checklists

Checklists are a great way for us to sort order from chaos and to give us a sense of satisfaction and progress when marking items as complete.

The more sinister, subtle and often subconscious use of checklists is when we use them to …

Automatic. Systematic. Hydromatic

How much of your job depends on following a system – established rules & processes?

Success in the Industrial Economy relied on this – we needed precise rules and processes to remove human variation so that we could consistently make widgets at scale.

But what happens when we are no longer widget workers but knowledge workers?

What happens when our medium goes from the physical to the intangible (digital) …

Unfair

Last month, business strategist and ex-Yahoo board member, Michael Wolf released an epic 136 page slide deck on the future of tech and media – well worth a read for any online marketer.

Inside this deck were many surprising findings – including that …

The $9 million jacket

In September, the Baubax travel jacket raised $9 million in crowdfunding making it the most funded clothing project and the 4th most funded project of any kind in Kickstarter history.

The end result totally blew apart the initial project goal to raise $20k.

What made this jacket so special compared to any other jacket one can buy on the market today?

Ads we would pay for

Last week, Google announced YouTube Red – the ad-free, paid subscription version of YouTube.

The free, ad supported version of YouTube will continue to run in its current form, making it the Freemium offering to the new Paid upgrade.

The underlying assumption of all Freemium models of course, is that advertising is bad, no one wants it and we would be prepared to pay to get rid of it…

Perishables

Imagine building a business that relies on original content that you need to provide fresh, daily and that’s here today and gone tomorrow.

That’s what florists, bakers, fishmongers, fruiterers have been doing for centuries.

Art School

As different as Facebook, Google and most online platforms are, there is one thing that they all share.

In their own way, each platform exposes the long tail.

The algorithms behind these platforms filter out content that is …

The Blank Page

Every artist is familiar with the dreaded blank page.

“What am I going to do today? How do I even start? I have nothing… ”

Of course, its not the page that’s the problem …

Chicken or Egg?

Does content have advertising?

Or does advertising have content?

#whichcomesfirst

Skeuomorphism

Skeuomorphism occurs when designers incorporate concepts and ideas from existing things to help consumers navigate and understand how to use completely new things.

Last month, Google made a big splash with a very conspicuous rebrand, but actually, this was a smaller part of the much larger Google Material Design initiative.

With Material Design, Google designers are deconstructing how …

Why blog?

We often get asked, why are we blogging?

Why blog particularly when we are busy, when blogging is time consuming, isn’t directly related to sales and isn’t always specifically about the technicals of our craft?

A simple question with both a long and short answer …

Mystery

Kudos to the team at BMF for their remarkably mysterious, almost Wes Anderson like videos, The Conspicuous Awakening of Owen Wilson, that appeared in my Facebook feed.

BMF have embraced the art of mystery here – instead of …

Quality vs Relevance (or Google vs Facebook)

Hal Varian, Google’s Chief Economist, is famous for developing Adwords’ Quality Score algorithm – his instructional video is mandatory viewing for anyone even considering using Adwords for advertising.

Less well known (for now), is Jon Hegemon, Facebook’s Chief Economist. Jon’s decisions into the Facebook Ads Relevance Score algorithm significantly affect both advertisers and Facebook’s shareholders.

So how have Jon’s decisions differed from Hal’s?

There are really two key distinctions …

What marketers can learn from VW

The beauty of online marketing is that we have data for everything.

The danger of online marketing is that we have data for everything.

We can become so overly fixated on the numbers that we can forget our real mission …

Supply and Demand

The law of Supply and Demand states that:

The greater the supply and the lower the demand, the lower the price will be, and conversely
The lower the supply and the greater the demand, the higher the price will be

Thanks to decades of Industrial production and efficiencies, what used to be in low supply …

Set & Forget

‘Set & Forget’ was the promise of the Industrial Economy – that if one was able to setup processes well enough, one could leave the system to do its thing and get consistent results month in, month out.

‘Set & Forget’ works incredibly well for inanimate things – objects, processes, systems.

‘Set & Forget’ fails spectacularly in the one area that matters most …

Green Runs

I recently went snowboarding for the first time in more than 10 years.

I wasn’t even sure I’d be able to make it off the chairlift let alone board down the mountain.

Thankfully, I wasn’t alone.

The entire weekend, people were …

One Thing Well

BMW has recently done a cross collab with Melbourne rag Broadsheet, to explore the future of food and drink. (As an aside, expect to see more of this style of marketing – in this case, BMW leveraging Broadsheet’s relational influence over its target market for the launch of the new 1 Series).

One article caught my eye in particular: The Perfectionists.

Here, Broadsheet spotlights a rising trend …

Positioning

Positioning isn’t about making your brand appear cheap or expensive, elegant or everyman, tasteful or functional.

Instead of competing with other brands so that you are one of several options, Positioning is about inventing and owning a category of one in the mind of your consumer.

Which brand comes to mind for women looking for …

Please mind the gap

If you’re creating content for your audience – ads, blog posts, YouTubes etc – there will inevitably be a gap between yourself and your market.

For most marketers, that gap is typically the difference between what you know you have on offer that would delight your customer vs what the potential customer thinks they know.

The job of your content is to …

Safety not guaranteed…

In 1997, this well known ad was written by a Classifieds editor as one of two ‘space fillers’ for ad slots that he couldn’t fill.

Thousands of responses and years later, this ad became an internet phenomenon and ultimately was turned into a classic indie movie.

Less known was the other ad – a standard ‘singles’ classified – that went virtually unnoticed.

What’s the difference?

Taylor Swift – you were right (again)

Last week the world watched in awe as a 26 year old with a Tumblr and Twitter account stood up to Apple and made them do an about face on their new Music streaming royalty policy.

Of course, this wasn’t your average 26 year old, this was Taylor Swift, queen of the internet and her army of Swifties.

Watching this Swift blow to Apple, I realised that one of our core Connection Economy maxims was wrong …

Three marketers walk into a bar …

Three marketers walk into a bar and order drinks, each takes a moment to share an update of their evening …

No

I love coffee. I love drinking coffee. I love talking about coffee.

A coffeeholic friend was telling me about a new cafe he’s been going to that have set a new standard in his mind – by rejecting him.

The (very experienced) Barista tried six times to pull a proper espresso with some new beans and just couldn’t get the shot right to his satisfaction. He ended up telling my friend “I’m sorry, I just can’t serve this”, then …

Give or take?

We have one client who continues to confound us (in a good way).

We’re the ones who are supposed to be offering services to them (which we do), yet time and time again, they end up serving us.

That client is …

Artist in Residence

The idea of having an artist-in-residence is simple – that having an artist in our cafe/pub/hotel/institution benefits us and our community by creating a more human, interesting and remark-able environment (especially when compared to competitors who don’t have an artist-in-residence).

The online space is no different.

Congratulations to …

Being first

Being ‘first’ is critical in an Industrial Economy.

Al Ries & Jack Trout, name this as Marketing Rule #1 #2 & #3 in their classic marketing book.

While ‘first’ is still important in the Connection Economy, ‘relationship’ is what brings success.

One more thing…

Subtractive or Additive?

One of the most significant disruptive forces that we’re watching with interest is the Makers Revolution brought about by the rise of 3D printing.

At its core, the true disruption of 3D printing, is that it transforms the process of manufacturing from subtractive (cutting away waste material from a block to reveal a final object) to additive (creating new material from scratch to form an object).

In a similar manner …

The Rules

A scan of a typical marketer’s feed will reveal linkbait headlines like:

Four content marketing tips to use when …
5 social media trends to …
3 growth hacking tips for …
Sure, you may need to be across some of this material, but don’t make the mistake of …

Ungooglable

A friend of mine was researching some prosumer camera gear and said something about the process that made my ears prick up: it was impossible to search for.

The problem, it turned out, wasn’t a lack of information about this particular area.

It was the opposite – there was too much information..

Frontstory

If you’re starting a business in a mature market, like Melbourne’s coffee scene, a strong Backstory is a non-negotiable to starting off on the right foot.

But even once you know your backstory, how do you use this to lead your tribe to greater connection with yourself and each other?

Serotonin recently opened their doors and is a model of how to disrupt a regular mature market using Connection Economics…

The Invisible Bridge

Dear Brand,

Please take another leap of faith.

– Your Fans

The Change

For the first time in history, a generation has grown up, with instant, global, online connection being their ‘normal’.

This is Gen C (‘C’ for Connected).

So dramatic has been the fundamental change …

Jack-of-all-trades

In times gone by, (ala #backintheday) each village contained specific roles for each member of that community to become a master of.

The blacksmith, the farmer, the baker, the fishmonger, the painter – you were assigned one of these roles, typically inherited, performed your duties, then traded the goods in your art for the outputs of other masters.

In today’s world, we are no longer assigned roles but have the freedom to choose…

Scarcity

The richest prize fight in history, that took promoter Bob Arum five years to pull together, occurred over the weekend.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about this fight from a marketing perspective, was that Bob’s company, Top Rank, pulled out all stops to not allow this event to be streamed in any way, shape or form except through official channels.

No Youtube, Periscope or Meerkat live streaming – even live audio commentary via the web was banned…

Love or Fear?

Marketing & advertising has always been high leverage – even before the internet.

Get the message right and it can have a huge positive impact on sales, get the message wrong and, well the exact opposite is true.

The difference today is now that we’re in relationship with your brand via social media …

Backstory

Melbourne’s cafe scene is suffering from a first world hipster problem – every cafe is beginning to look the same.

So how does a new cafe stand out in such a sea of sameness?

Keep ’em guessing

Since getting my first email address 20 years ago, I’ve subscribed to hundreds of email newsletters across all kinds of niche of niche topics.

Of all of these, there has been only one that I read daily and stay subscribed to: Seth Godin.

In considering about why I’ve stuck with him compared to countless others I boil it down to these things …

Embracing Mystery

On Thursday, possibly half the planet’s facebook feed was swamped with fans sharing this trailer of the most anticipated movie of the year.

While we can’t all expect our work to have Star Wars level virality, we can learn from one key signature that this trailer shares with the body of work of the man behind the camera, JJ Abrams.
JJ Abram’s signature flies in the face of current digital marketing efficiency …

Dvorak vs Qwerty

In 1868, when the typewriter was first invented, the keyboard was laid out in alphabetical order – which makes complete sense.

The problem here was that the type bars that strike the paper would often get jammed when particular letters were typed too quickly together in sequence.

The solution, was to separate these letters as far away from each other as possible on the keyboard, slowing down the typing process but reducing annoying jams as much as possible – enter, the QWERTY keyboard.

Of course, today, we don’t use typewriters nor do digital keyboards suffer from the jamming problem…

The Real Mad Men

Mad Men may be in its final season but perhaps what’s even more remarkable is that The Real Men and Women of Madison Avenue back in the ‘golden days of advertising’ are …

Number 2

By far, the biggest feedback we’ve had from blog subscribers is that they are so time poor, the only chance they get to read these posts is during breaks.

As I thought about this problem, I realised that there were a lot of breaks people take – breaks for lunch, breaks for a smoke, breaks between tasks – but then it hit me…

There lies the single biggest, consistent marketing opportunity in the Number 2 break.

Just think about it …

Don’t join the Conversation

Its accepted now that businesses need to be ‘part of the conversation’ – to see what their fans are talking about and join in.

If your goal is to merely join the conversation – don’t bother…

Excellence vs Love

What the world needs now is love, sweet love. It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of – Hal David & Burt Bacharat

Even if you’re in the market to dine for $525 per head before drinks, no matter how old you are, nothing compares to …