Emailing responsibly (with purpose)

I'm torn by the necessity of sending regular contact to customers and the desire to wait until I have something important to say. IStock_000020000438XSmallIt's a natural tension, and one I just have to confront on a monthly basis. If I haven't found something to email about at the end of the month, then I have to give up and email something anyway. 

"I still care about you" is the message I'm trying to convey.

Code School blog: Forget About Clicks, Design Emails With Purpose, 2015-May-15 by Corey Rabazinski

Here at Code School, we spend a lot of time thinking about, designing, and analyzing our emails. They’re not only a great way for us to communicate with the Code School community, but they’re also some of the most viewed “pages” under the Code School brand. In April alone, 4 of our emails were opened by over 200,000 people. Over that same time, only 2 of the pages on our site were seen by that many unique users.

But with great power comes great responsibility — we understand and respect that the inbox is not something to be abused. 


How the new Whitney Museum helps us figure out what a museum means

I've always loved being in museums. Back in college, I thought I'd like to work in them. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to intern in a few before I left graduate school. For the advertising business. Also a mistake, but I've never regretted leaving the museum world behind. 

Museums are inextricably linked with commerce in art. Curators compete to acquire major works from private collectors who may donate or share the works they've acquired. The job performance of curators is often judged not by the quality of the shows but by their ability to cultivate a strong relationship with independent collectors. 

Tq150510wmArt critic Jerry Saltz is concerned about the relationship between museums, art dealers and artists. He sees museums dabbling not only in the art market, but also in the marketing of art, in the creation of a demand for an artist's work. I agree with him that museums cross the line when they help an artist and dealer increase the value of the artwork or performance. In effect, they are driving up their own expenses. 

He sees the new Whitney sidestepping the temptation by focusing on how art evolves instead of trying to capture highly valued pieces of the art world. Our museums don't have to own major masterpieces to show us what art means. 

Vulture / New York: The New New Museum, 2015-Apr-19 by Jerry Saltz

De Salvo said, “The Whitney is not a building. It’s an idea.” The idea is actually a question, and the question is “What is American art?”


Resuscitating the Email Newsletter

I've been worried about the email newsletter. Although it's one of the most reliable ways to provide steady customer relationship management, they are so difficult to write well. But maybe it's not the writing but the content. In the article below, Blaise Lucey makes a great comparison of the spontaneity and sense of discovery we experience in social media, in contrast to the predictability of most email newsletters. I'm inspired to follow his advice.  IStock_000019856909XSmall

Moveable Ink blog: Why Live Social Media Feeds Are the Future of Email + Social, 2015-Apr-27 by Blaise Lucey

We don’t expect much from brand emails. If we get a great sale, we’re happy.

Social media, on the other hand, is something we expect to be entertaining and unpredictable. Aside from keeping up with friends (or at least stalking them), there’s an endless amount of multimedia that people can watch, listen to, and share.

That’s why people spend a lot more time on social media channels than checking their inboxes: the content changes and it’s dynamic.

With live social media feeds, you can bring that experience to the inbox. This offers a way to connect your social and email channels like never before.


Why building a solid culture is tricky--what you say you believe doesn't matter.

As I build my understanding of leadership and customer experience, I'm frequently struck by leaders who struggle with the idea of culture. They want to extract the necessary culture to achieve their goals. Unfortunately, culture is so deeply rooted in the behavior of the leaders, that trying to manage it is challenging. Leaders have to manage themselves, model the behavior they want to see, and recognize it when performed by employees.  IStock_000022531940XSmall

Many people think good recruitment is the key to culture: 'just hire people with the right values.' Unfortunately, smart employees know how to express the values the company has already declared. In the hiring process, you have to look at how people are behaving, not what they say they believe. 

Culture is more about behavior than stated values. And a big company has thousands of behaviors every second. Culture is defined by the predominant behavior. 

Harvard Business Review: Why "Company Culture" Is a Misleading Term 2015-Apr-21 by John Traphagan

Today, the idea that organizations have cultures is rarely questioned by the media, by corporate executives, or by the consultants who make a living helping organizations improve their “cultures.” ... 

Within any group characterized as having a culture, there are numerous contested opinions, beliefs, and behaviors. People may align themselves to behave in a way that seems as though they buy into expressed corporate values and “culture,” but this is just as likely to be a product of self-preservation as it is of actually believing in those values or identifying with some sloganized organizational culture.

I worked for DEC, liked DEC, and did my best, but I don’t think I can honestly say I was ever committed to the values espoused by the organization. I was interested in a paycheck and in order to get that paycheck, I had to align my identity with the patterns of behavior and thought expected by those who had power over me.