Zigging when others zag

Unhealthy growth

We seem to have a growing awareness that unbridled growth is not healthy. 

Signal v. Noise: Exponential growth devours and corrupts, 2017-Feb-27 by David H. Hansson

As Douglas Rushkoff says, we need a new operating system for startups. The current one will keep producing the same extractive and monopolistic empires we’ve gotten so far. No, what we need is a new crop of companies that are institutionally comfortable with leaving money on the table. Leaving growth on the table. Leaving some conveniences and some progress on the board, in order to lead the world into a better direction.

The solution isn’t simple, but we’re in dire need of a strong counter culture, some mass infusion of the 1960s spirit. To offer realistic, ethical alternatives to the exponential growth logic. Ones that’ll benefit not just a gilded few, but all of us. The future literally depends on it.

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Finding the best clients by cultivating conversations about our processes

Alex Mather points out that moving away from supplying a commodity means finding and nurturing relationships with people who are interested in creating unique and powerful work. Those people will expect a journey and not a product. 

Red Lemon Club: How to Survive the Biggest Creative Job Decline of All Time, 2017-Feb-1 by Alex Mathers

Meaningful art and design that makes an impact on its users is growing and vital, and relies on ‘expert practitioners’ who understand process to carry it out well with their clients.

But at the other end, commodity products and cheaper labour allow others to get a vital start on projects and businesses that can eventually develop into ones that do rely on more focused design expertise.

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Why getting to NO is a better start than fishing for a YES, via Chris Voss

We can enjoy a terrific interview with Chris Voss published by Talks at Google. Chris is the reigning educator on negotiating skills, and his book is Never Split the Difference

  • Yes is a commitment, no is protection (not a problem, just a good beginning)
  • Make your counterpart (not adversary!) feel safe, and they grow more creative
  • Hesitate and let your counterpart think
  • Don't ask for a 'few minutes to talk,' instead say... 'is now a bad time to talk'?
  • Summarize the other person's point of view, even if it's not in your favor. Get them to say 'That's right' because that means they know you've recognized their interests. Now you have a shared truth.

And so much more, and it's fun as well as informative. 

 


Defy best practice, be unprofessional, and innovate in marketing

Innovation and best practice are the yin and yang of management. Too much of one and you die, too much of the other and you disappear. Loyal behavior is actually the key. If you are committed to your customers' best interest, understand your strengths and values, then you can be wild and crazy without losing your toe-hold on reality. 

Marketing Magazine (UK): Marketing Needs to Become More Unprofessional, 2016-Feb-27 by Craig Mawdsley

Professionalism is about reducing variation.  It is about creating a predictable and correct way of doing a given thing that can be repeated by anyone who has that professional qualification.  It is there to remove the individual from the process, because as long as the person providing the service has a professional qualification, then it doesn’t really matter who they are.

For the creative industries, this is a very, very bad idea.

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Cultivating good luck in your work and your life

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In a recent edition of the NY Times Sunday Review, Pagan Kennedy published a musing on the talent of using serendipity to discover both patterns, some embedded, some emerging from our lives and environment. 

NY Times: How to Cultivate the Art of Serendipity, 2016-Jan-2 by Pagan Kennedy

As people dredge the unknown, they are engaging in a highly creative act. What an inventor “finds” is always an expression of him- or herself. Martin Chalfie, who won a Nobel Prize for his work connected with green fluorescent protein — the stuff that makes jellyfish glow green — told me that he and several other Nobel Prize winners benefited from a chain of accidents and chance encounters on the way to their revelations. Some scientists even embrace a kind of “free jazz” method, he said, improvising as they go along: “I’ve heard of people getting good results after accidentally dropping their experimental preparations on the floor, picking them up, and working on them nonetheless,” he added.

Kennedy doesn't seem to be aware of Glenn Llopis' book Earning Serendipity... 

This practice of earning serendipity, my father once explained, is not governed merely by corporate laws but also by universal laws like attraction, responsibility, and reciprocity. The effectiveness of earning serendipity is not measured merely by unique visitors, volume, and profits but also by influence, compassion, and impact. Its time is not bound by nine-to-five but by birth and death. My father would conclude, “¿Ahora, que ve ante usted?”— Now, what do you see before you? It is the same question I ask you now. What might your work look like if you possessed the skills to regularly see, sow, grow, and share the best opportunities before you? [Emphasis added.]

What I've discovered is that "earning serendipity" is NOT easy. Being a restless explorer like myself helps, but cultivating and sharing your discoveries takes true discipline. You don't just see patterns... you see what they can become and you work to make it happen with other people. 


New customer benefit: sharing back data

A few companies are already giving data back to their customers, such as Pandora and Waste Management. We should always be looking at the data in our order systems and CRM platform to see how it could strengthen our customer relationships. 

I believe that in the future, companies will be entitled to request the data we are collecting. Might as well get ahead of that curve. 

Venture Beat: Why smart companies will start giving back data to their users, 2015-Mar-7 by Brent Dykes of Adobe

Just like informed marketers make better decisions, so do informed customers. An automobile maker could monitor driving behaviors and share tips on how you could become a better driver (e.g., you rarely use the sixth gear when you should be, which will conserve x% more gas). A software provider such as Adobe could report on which features a user touches, how it compares to other users, and share how-to videos for those areas that aren’t being used. In both cases, the product user is enlightened and the company benefits from the positive halo effect created by proactive data sharing.


When do we get to print the marketing?

For most of us marketers, printing has become a luxury. We don't avoid printing because we think people don't enjoy it (when done properly). We don't avoid it because it isn't profitable (when done properly). We avoid it because it requires a capital outlay and a risky expense that we can avoid by putting our message out digitally.  Tq-120807-dm

NY Times: Catalogs, After Years of Decline, Are Revamped for Changing Times, 2015-Jan-25 by Rebecca R. Ruiz

Some of their catalog forays, however, barely resemble the traditional merchandise book. These days, retailers are employing devices like adventure tales and photo spreads of wildlife to catch a shopper’s eye, hoping to secure purchases online or in a store.

Luring a specific customer base seems to be part of the strategy underlying J. C. Penney’s surprise announcement this month that it would revive a home goods catalog in March, three years after the struggling company discontinued all such mailings. Its new version will focus not on recruiting new customers but on reaching existing ones, according to a spokeswoman. Whether the company will resume a regular schedule for sending out seasonal or general merchandise catalogs remains unclear. ... 

With “so much clutter and information overload,” said Rohit Deshpande, a professor of marketing at Harvard Business School, “just getting attention is the hardest thing to do right now for brands. It’s conceivable that trying catalogs again is a way to do it.”

Mr. Deshpande said research showed that frequency helped consumers process marketing messages, but some studies suggested diminishing returns after three advertisements.

“The issue has always been: What do we have to do in order to get mind-share and not bore people?” Mr. Deshpande said. “Or, worse, turn them off?”