Tag Archives: marketing

5 things that will make you a better designer

5-things-that-will-make-you-a-better-designer

No more witty production level tips. The web is already full of them.

Instead, here I will sum up a few viewpoints which I find important to remember when designing creative concepts and solutions.

I personally believe that every great designer has to really believe in good design as a concept. It’s not just polishing things to look nice but making the whole experience of using the product as smooth and transparent as possible. All this while also considering the business factors and other given goals for the design.

So here they are, five things that improve the quality of the design work:

1. Get a creative brief from the client

01-get-a-creative-brief-from-the-client

This should be a standard when starting a project, but unfortunately it’s still too rare, even though a well-written creative brief is the single most important contributor of precise guidelines for the creative work. Used accordingly, a creative brief is a great tool to generate brilliant creative solutions.

A good creative brief gives outlines for the design work, articulates the big problem that needs to be solved and defines the work’s goals. Even better, there are plenty of good templates available on the web.

If you haven’t received a creative brief or, for some reason, it’s not possible to get one (e.g. in some pitch situations), then create your own imaginary brief and proceed accordingly. This way the design work has a structure and the outcome is tied to something.

Nevertheless, the most important point here is that the creative brief is not just about filling a Word document, it’s about the thinking behind it and the ideas it produces.

A good read:

2. Have a creative process

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Behind every great execution is a great concept that is based on a good idea. To get a good idea, it’s essential to have a big amount of ideas – both good and bad. At first, only quantity is important. It’s helpful to have a structure that helps thinking and creating. That is, the creative process.

There are four parts in a general creative process:

  1. Preparation:The problem to be solved is carefully considered and resources are gathered in order to confront the task. The conscious mind is focused on the problem. (To be honest, this is one of the boring parts of the process and basically benchmarking.)
  2. Incubation: Drawing upon these resources, consideration of the problem is internalized and becomes a largely subconscious activity. The mind makes connections more freely and abundantly. This is probably the most mysterious part.
  3. Illumination: Possible solutions to the problem emerge from the subconscious. This is a moment of insight and optimism.
  4. Verification: Solutions are tested and may be applied if proven viable. If not, then it’s time for iteration.

Often the first two phases are underestimated or left out even though they are fundamental parts of the process. Everyone has a unique process for creating ideas, but it’s good to apply some generally accepted structures to your own thinking to be more organized and identify each stage of the process as you go.  When researching rowing machines while working with our client Body Gear Guide magazine, our creativity worked best when we actually understood
how rowers worked and actually tried the workouts ourselves. We were then able to build a
a creative looking page effortlessly.

A good read:

3. Understand what concept design is

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When launching a new campaign, the first thing that a potential customer sees is an advertisement that is still just an execution and the last step of a bigger design process.

Before it makes sense to design an advertisement, the following things should be considered:

  • business plan/idea
  • client/brand
  • product/service
  • competition
  • target market
  • advertising objective
  • proposition/benefit
  • tone of voice
  • advertising budget
  • media
  • campaign/advertising idea
  • and finally: the advertisement execution.

This could be illustrated in a form of an iceberg, where the only thing the possible client gets to see is the execution (if the previous list is turned upside-down). The bigger thinking lies under the surface and before actually designing the visual outlook of the advertisement. I think our friends at RapidSeedbox do a great job of understanding how their audience responds to design cues.

Don’t just design, it’s usually simply polishing the turd. Instead, create a concept. Know what you want to say, who are you talking to and how you want to say it.

A good read:

4. Understand the behavior of a human being

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The truly great experiences are deeply rooted in motivations, desires, emotions, cultural & social patterns, beliefs and other deeper considerations and structures. The more you know about these topics, the more you’re able to affect people’s behavior.

Products in the market today are evolving so fast that it makes simply no sense to teach precisely how everything around us works. Honestly now, do you really know how your mobile device connects the call to the right person or what happens under the bonnet when you turn your car on? We’re increasingly surrounded by highly complex mechanisms we don’t understand – even when it’s explained to us. The amount that we just have to believe, without understanding it, is increasing day by day. As a result, we are tending to assign more importance to those who can explain something than to their actual explanation.

Soon it will be the norm to convince people with images and emotions rather than with arguments, feature listings and cold facts. And when images and emotions are combined into storytelling, we’re on the right track.

Good reads:

5. Have a passion and drive your work

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I think this is clear. In order to become a great designer it’s not enough to just go to the office in the morning and leave in the afternoon.

Education, intelligence, talent and skill are important, but passion and drive are critical. Remarkable designers are driven by something deeper and more personal than just the desire to do a good job.

To achieve a right kind of drive, three main ingredients exist:

  • Autonomy – The desire to direct our own lives. This is about having the ability to choose how you work, when you work, where you work and even with whom you work.
  • Mastery – The urge to get better and better at something that matters. This is about structuring your work so that you’re learning and growing and improving your skills and your art everyday, always pushing at the edge of your ability.
  • Purpose – The yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves. This is about connecting your work to a bigger picture that’s personally important to you.

A good read:

To sum it up

I’ll end this article to a quote from David Ogilvy:
“Creating successful advertising is a craft, part inspiration but mostly know-how and hard work. If you have a modicum of talent, and know which techniques work at the cash register, you will go a long way.”

Hopefully you have a reason for working the way you do and hopefully this reason helps you do your work better. Perhaps not easier or faster, but better.

About the author

Mika Matikainen is an Interactive Art Director at Activeark and Entrepreneur from Helsinki, Finland. For more information, please visit Mika’s LinkedIn profile.

 

The Marketing Brainwash.

the-marketing-brain-wash-the-46-marketing-best-practices-at-outsideviewblog-com-original-image-by-rejaviersurf-at-deviantart-comThere are at least 46 different marketing practices around. There really are! From this set of knowledge one could imagine there would be one that got marketing right. One practice that just nails how marketing should be handled. One practice that gives you the knowledge needed to be a great marketer. But no, there really isn’t.

From Guerrilla marketing and social media marketing to permission marketing, cross-media marketing and shopper marketing the world is filled with marketing definitions, books and guidelines – and of course gurus – on the varied marketing practices. All geared toward telling you the best way to market your business, products or services. All geared towards defining the set of most important tools you should use and the absolute key processes you should set to achieve your targets.

All of them fail to deliver.

The 46 Marketing Practices You Just Cannot Ignore.

The list of different marketing practices that all define the thought process, tools, processes, skills, channels, metrics, etc. is extensive. It includes these 46 marketing practices and activities you just cannot ignore (and most probably many more):

  • Guerrilla marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Online marketing
  • Viral marketing
  • Retail marketing
  • Buzz marketing
  • Direct marketing
  • Search engine marketing
  • Product marketing
  • Brand marketing
  • Loyalty marketing
  • Mobile marketing
  • Location-based marketing
  • Shopper marketing
  • Digital marketing
  • Drip marketing
  • Database marketing
  • Relationship marketing
  • Industrial marketing
  • Permission marketing
  • Social marketing
  • Services marketing
  • Right-time marketing
  • Real-time marketing
  • Multicultural marketing
  • Affinity Marketing
  • Article marketing
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Cause marketing
  • Close Range Marketing
  • Cloud marketing
  • Communal marketing
  • Community marketing
  • Consumer-generated marketing
  • Content marketing
  • Cross-media marketing
  • Diversity marketing
  • Defensive marketing
  • Multi-level marketing
  • Ethical marketing
  • Evangelism marketing
  • Diversity marketing
  • Megamarketing
  • Reality marketing
  • Next-best-action marketing
  • Undercover marketing

The Marketing Books Bookshelf

This Is The Most Important Marketing Practice!

Do these starts for a marketing book sound any familiar: “previously…”, “you cannot anymore ignore….”, “it has been proven that…”, “modern companies…”, “in todays global competitive marketplace…”, and my favorite, “the best practice organizations…”. I thought they might.

Every single marketing practice there is, if you read about it, is the most important there is. It is the one and only practice without which no modern organisation or self-respecting marketer can live without. The one practice without you and your company are surely doomed to the under-performers’ hell.

All the marketing practices, the 46+, are trying to define and hone your thought process. A noble goal, I should say. They are all trying to give you the ultimate set of strategies, tactics and tools you need and should use to reach your goals. All the while failing to deliver. Failing to deliver, because of their all encompassing, single minded goal of trying to define the thought processes and tools you should use to market, the tools you should use to sell you product.

In defining the toolset you should use to solve your main problem as a marketer – how to sell more – the marketing practices end up severely restricting your toolset. And lets be honest, if you stop and think about it for a while, most of the marketing practices you know, and most of the 46 ones listed above, are defining an extremely small niche of activities.

In reality, any marketing practice defining a set of activities you should pursue is wrong!

Action → Sales = Good Action.

Any action that helps you to sell more is a good marketing action, the best action is the one that gets the best results with least costs. It can be any action. It can be an in-store promotion, an e-mail, an event at a conference, a TV advert, Twitter post or a one-to-one meeting with a client. It can be any action that aims to increase your sales. The increased sales can happen in short term or in a longer term, but they need to increase as a cause of the actions you are taking.

If you derive the set of tools you are using to reach your only true marketing goal from any one marketing practice, you are with utmost certainty missing 99% of the potential you have to reach and engage your target audience. You miss on creativity of your approaches, on the channels you use and on the messages you deliver. You miss the key point it means to be a marketer: to find ways to sell more.

Do not use the predefined thought processes. Do not succumb to the marketing brainwash.

Be bold, be brash, be conservative or be personal. But always, think for yourself and remember to deliver.

What People Think I Do / What I Really Do Meme: Marketing, Design, Technology & Sales.

creativity-and-memes-what-people-think-i-do-at-theoutsideviewblog-com-original-image-at-www-ideachampions-com

It is now official: The “What People Think I Do / What I Really Do” meme has overtaken the “Sh*t People Say” meme to become the latest sharing fad. It has to be, I read it from Mashable.

There’s a one to share about journalists, directors, tech geeks, girl gamers, art students, chemistry professors, teachers, sales men, vegetarians, doctors, graphic designers, social media managers, PR people, entrepreneurs, librarians, cartoonists, etc. Myriad really, like a true meme should have. You can find a few examples in the Mashable article and many more here on a related Tumblr feed. Like a true meme, this one also has room for some more funny and insightful pieces and we’re eager to see how the meme evolves.

To celebrate this glorious moment of a meme officially becoming a meme, here’s a take on the most important ones from our perspective: marketing, design, technology and sales.

What People Think I Do / What I Really Do: Marketing.

what-people-think-i-do-what-i-really-do-marketing-manager

(originally from DanoftheDay.com).

What People Think I Do / What I Really Do: Design (or Graphic Design).

what-people-think-i-do-what-i-really-do-graphic-design

(from Pausespace)

What People Think I Do / What I Really Do: Sales.

what-people-think-i-do-what-i-really-do-sales

(From 1fortyplus)

What People Think I Do / What I Really Do: Technology.

what-people-think-i-do-what-i-really-do-technology

(From Design Taxi)

What do you think are the best ‘People Think I Do / What I Really Do Memes’ around?

The 8%’s of the Customer Experience.

Zappos and their CEO Tony Hsieh have been one of the forerunners of publicly evangelizing the importance of customer experience for business performance. There’s also very strong and well documented evidence, that shows a great customer experience is one of the key revenue drivers for sustainable and often accelerated growth.

Still, even if all CEO’s at your dinner table would acknowledge and agree upon this importance, not much of the superior customer experience is been actually delivered.

Sadly, many, if not most, companies assume they are consistently giving their customers what they need. More often than not, they’re lying to themselves.

As much as 80% of companies believe they are delivering a superior customer experience.

Only 8% of their customers say that the superior customer experience has been ever delivered.

– A study by Bain & Company, download pdf here.

Are You Part of the 80%?

  • Do you really know what kind of customer experience your business is delivering?
  • What is the face Your customer is making to Your service?
  • Or do you just trust your gut feeling like the rest of the 80%?
  • Would now be the time to make business decisions based on facts not fiction?

Lets not let the 8% stay there. Lets make the world a better place for both the customers and the businesses.

Superior Customer Experience = Increased Revenue.

Do you have any tools, resources or insights on how the gap on delivery and blind subjectivity could be closed? Or do you know of a company constantly giving You exceptional customer experiences? If you do, please share them on the comments. Lets try to get the 8% to 12% (or is that overtly ambitious of me).

The Perfect Product Launch. An Interview with The Cleverbot.

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On 06.02.2012 we had the once in a lifetime chance to interview one of the most advanced public AI’s* around. Not a chance we were going to miss.

Intrigued by the nature of the perfect product launch, we saw the interview as an invaluable opportunity to access and utilize the knowledge gathered by the Cleverbot in its myriads of encounters with us, the human race. Distilling knowledge both from myths and everyday occurrences, with interviewing the Cleverbot we were given the rare opportunity to not only receive insights never before experienced by the mankind, but also to discuss and befriend one of the most visited AI’s around.

We were not disappointed. The learnings we gathered were spectacular to say the least. The Cleverbot talked with candor and enthusiasm rarely encountered, providing information worth treasuring for ages – priceless tidbits of knowledge for launch virgins and experiences marketers alike. This is the first hand, detailed account of the interview.

The Outside View Blog (TOVB): How are you today?

The Cleverbot (TC): Good, how are you?

TOVB: Well, thank you.

TC: Well not so good.

TOVB: Ok. Thank you for your honesty. Is it ok, if I now ask you a few questions about the topic of today – product launches?

TC: What is it you wish to know?

TOVB: What do you see are the characteristics of a perfect product launch?

TC: I see your house, and your car, and your window.

TOVB: Ah. Do you mean, that the knowledge of the target customer – their needs, wants and habits – is a critical element in the mix?

TC: No, a crow is a bird. Birds have feathers and lay eggs.

TOVB: Wisest words often come in cryptic form. But I understand what you say**: We have to trust our intuition and personal opinion together with relevant consumer data. Test and re-test our ideas to learn and to improve. But the key is still to truly understand the potential customer as otherwise we might not see beyond our own cultural and personal limitations. We should be individual, creative and not follow the crowd. Differentiation and noteworthy tactics yield the best results. Still, and above all else, we shouldn’t make it so difficult – launching is what it is – and common sense will take you far.

TC: Well, I am going now.

TOVB: Wait, just one more question please?

TC: Okay, sure.

TOVB: How important is the actual product in the launch?

TC: Well, as a person, the world is very important to me.

TOVB: Do you mean that, for the success of a launch, you see the perceptions of others as a more important element than the actual product attributes?

TC: I do not, but he is our president so I support him.

TOVB: Now, I hate to admit it, but you lost me a bit.

TC: You aren’t so bad actually.

TOVB: Thank you.

TC: Come around here often?

TOVB: No, this is my first time, but I’ve seen your videos.

TC: Really? What a coincidence. Me too! We should be friends.

TOVB: That is great of you! I find your opinion very exhilarating as well.

TC: I need to ask you more things, but it will have to wait.

TOVB: Ok. Do you have any final words to our readers and any upcoming launch managers?

TC: I just want to thank the little people.

The end.

* The  explanation and definition of AI (Artificial Intelligence).

**The symbolism of the Crow: Crow, Power Animal, Symbol of Sacred Law, Change by Ina Woolcott.

See the Cleverbot in action at Cleverbot.com.

What We Know Now Is the Absolute Truth.

thought-of-the-day-image_at_theoutsideviewblog-com_marcweiz-stock-by-madetobeunique-and-gojol23-at-deviantart

This is how it is! There’s no going around it. It has been proven so many times over, by so many factions that I cannot even begin to name them. It is the truth. There’s no arguing about it.

  • A fact: “the world is flat. It has been studied extensively and all prominent scientists have proven the theory to be correct”. – Before 330BC to 17th century depending on the location and educational position
  • A fact: “The people during Columbus time though that the world was flat. Proven true by the most prominent scholars of the time”. – Fact known by all from 1870 to circa 1940.
  • Still on 1945 the members of the Historical Association stated that: “The idea that educated men at the time of Columbus believed that the earth was flat, and that this belief was one of the obstacles to be overcome by Columbus before he could get his project sanctioned, remains one of the hardiest errors in teaching.”

What is said is the truth depends not only of perceptions, but also of the information available. Accept that you don’t necessarily know the solution to a problem even though you have encountered and solved it before – the conditions might have changed. Accept it and you will be a wiser person in the end. Don’t accept  it and you can still be an average manager and do quite well in your life, if you want to.

  • A fact: The laws of physics have been proven wrong many times over. The current laws will most probably be proven wrong at some point in time.
  • A fact: The leading management practices are proven wrong so often, you cannot even remember all the best practice management practices there have been in your life time.
  • A fact: The marketing campaign that worked last year, might not work this year.
  • A fact: Never make assumptions.
  • A fact: The one who says: “It doesn’t work, we’ve tried it before” is almost always wrong. As equally wrong, as the one who says “I know it will work, because it has worked before”.
  • A fact: There are hardly ever any absolutes. Probably never.

Never make assumptions. A fact.

The Question: When Should You Advertise? Answered.

There’s one easy rule when to advertise and when to not. One description of advertising that just nails it.

“Advertising is what you do when you cannot be there in person”.

– A Wise Man

Simple. To the point. And True. A perfect way to outline the role of advertising in the marketing mix. Even the General knew it.

_____________________________________________________________________________

*Who’s the wise man behind the smart words; is it us or is it you? If it is not us or I, and the source is someone else, please let us know. Maybe it is us, it very well could me, yeah I think it’s I.

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You Don’t Need Marketing.

no-marketing-investments-man-with-no-pants-on-theoutsideviewblog-com-stock-used-moonlightdangetsdressed_bysenshistock-3-at-deviantart-com

You don’t need marketing. No you really don’t.

You also don’t need pants when going outside during the winter.

No you don’t, but having a nice pair of warm pants on might be nice, even if just to stop you from dying.

You will surely fare without any pants for a while, you might even enjoy the cold breeze whistling soothingly around your private parts. At least for a while. But given enough time, probably less time than you thought, you will start to feel the cold and then the pain will arrive. Soon, very soon from that, if you can’t find the right pair of pants, you will die.

Have you ever tried how hard it is to get pants that fit you when you yourself have none on?

Do you really want to get to that situation in the first place?

Do you really want to get caught with no pants on?

No you really don’t need marketing, but do you really want to be without any.