Thursday, June 30, 2016

5 Game Designs Guaranteed to Boost Event Traffic

Almost always, games score big as traffic-boosters at events.

The reasons why are well understood: games satisfy attendees’ innate needs to compete, win recognition, and bring home swag.

But today—with a slew of tech-enabled amusements at our fingertips—games are undergoing a renaissance at events.

To create a memorable and buzz-worthy game, you need a design that's aligned with your goals and that attendees will find alluring. Here are some design alternatives:

Skills competition. Suppose you want to increase traffic at some specific location. You could design a game that challenges attendees’ physical or mental skills—anything from hitting a target to taking a quiz. An attendee could play by completing an action (answering a trivia question, for example), for which she earns a token. The number of tokens awarded for repeat plays could increase as the difficulty of the challenge does. After playing, the attendee redeems all the tokens won for a matching-level prize by visiting a winner’s station.

Treasure hunt. Suppose you want to offer exhibitors a traffic-building sponsorship opportunity. You could design an old-fashioned treasure hunt. Attendees could earn points toward prizes by visiting a series of exhibits, where each participating sponsor rewards them with tokens. After the series of visits, the attendees would visit a winner's station, where they would enter a prize drawing by redeeming their tokens.

Game show. Suppose you want attendees to actively listen, while you communicate a lot of information. You could train a presenter to act as MC, and design a game show that challenges players’ knowledge. Attendees would play and, based on their game-show scores, be awarded variously valued tokens, which they could redeem for the corresponding prizes.

Mission. Suppose you want to collect market research from attendees. You could send them on a “mission.” Under this scenario, attendees would earn tokens by visiting a series of kiosks, where they complete your research surveys. Players who take part in the mission (even the ones who don’t complete it) would receive real-time recognition on a leaderboard and through social-media posts, as well as collecting tokens they can redeem for rewards.

Chance. Suppose you want to draw a crowd and maximize word-of-mouth throughout the event. You could design a game of chance. Attendees who play would win tokens worth a various number of points that they could redeem for the corresponding prizes.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Your Event is Either an Experience or a Waste of Time

Event no longer describes the work of planners, Kevin Jackson says in Event Manager Blog.

Planners no longer merely organize events; they design experiences.

What's the difference, he asks?

"An event is a one-off moment in time and an experience is a whole campaign that builds a community of interest around the subject or topic we’re promoting," Jackson says.

The difference becomes clear when you consider where the two words come from.

Experience comes from the Latin word experientia, a "trial" (as in a "trial run"); event, from the Latin word eventus, an "occurrence."

Your event is either a memorable experiment or a forgettable incident.

A reveal or a recap.

A verb or a noun.

A festival or a funeral.

An experience or a waste of time.

Monday, June 27, 2016


Americans' panic over sharks dates to July 1916, when man-eaters killed four bathers at the Jersey Shore.

"The New Jersey shark attacks sent a message to Americans," says Matt McCall in National Geographic. "They said the ocean is still wild."

The shark attacks took a bite out of hotel occupancy that July—and President Woodrow Wilson's vote-count when he stood for reelection four months later.

The former New Jersey governor lost 10 percent of the votes he expected everywhere an attack occurred.

When fear guides the lever, voters say "No."

It may be a stupid reaction to a horror show, but it isn't an irrational one.

It's instinctual, according to Rick Shenkman, author of Political Animals: How Our Brain Gets in the Way of Smart Politics.

Shenkman says our Pleistocene-era brains simply can't handle twenty-first-century politics.

“There’s a mismatch between the brains we inherited from the Stone Age, when mankind lived in small communities, and the brain we need to deal with challenges we face in a democratic society consisting of millions of people.”

When you're knee-deep in shark-infested waters, instinct kicks in.

Wily politicians know that, and exploit it.

They know higher-order thinking only takes place from the safety of the cave.

As They Like It

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.

As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII

As Adrian Segar says in The Power of Participation, given everything we know about active learning—and everything today's attendees crave from a conference—it's "almost unethical" to focus on an event's stage, where speakers control the content.

But how do you shift attention from a handful to many players?

Do your homework. The whole of attendees' perspectives is greater than the sum of speakers' parts. So ask attendees through a pre-event survey what content matters most. And consider using professional telemarketers to conduct the survey. The findings will surprise you!

Demand more. Insist your emcee lets attendees know you expect participation and highlight the opportunities attendees have to participate throughout your event. You can technologize participation by adding a second-screen experience.

Offer carrots. Ignite your audience by building in rewards for participation. Chances to win gift cards and sponsors' swag will bring out attendees’ competitive urges.

Deliver an experience. Provide content in contexts that sensually engage attendees (brands do it all the time). Use A/V, lighting, decor, aromas, and professional talent to boost audience involvement.

Continue the conversation. Extend participation after your event through online forums, hangouts, and social media. Create post-event videos and e-books, send them to attendees, and solicit feedback.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Readers Wanted

In What is Literature?, philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre observes that, unlike shoemakers and architects, writers can't consume their own products.

When a writer writes, Sartre says, he sees the words; but never the way readers will. 

The writer is a projector, and his future always the blank page, whereas the reader is a consumer whose future is "some number of pages filled with words that separate him from the end," Sartre says.

Writers can produce, but never feel, their words.

"The writer meets everywhere only his knowledge, his will, his plans, in short, himself. He touches only his own subjectivity; the object he creates is out of reach; he does not create it for himself.

"If he rereads himself, it is already too late. The sentence will never quite be a thing in his eyes. He goes to the very limits of the subjective but without crossing it. He appreciates the effect of a touch, of an epigram, of a well-placed adjective, but it is the effect they will have on others. He can judge it, not feel it."

Since writers can't really read their products, Sartre says, they need readers to do so. 

In fact, for a piece of writing even to exist, readers are required.

"To make it come into view a concrete act called reading is necessary, and it lasts only as long as this act can last. Beyond that, there are only black marks on paper."

Friday, June 24, 2016

Delivering Bad News

Leaders can learn a lot from FDR.

A champ in many ways, he was at his most masterful where bad news was concerned—and there was a storm of it while he was president.

In April 1942, he told a radio audience that, due to war, "everyone will have the privilege of making whatever self-denial is necessary."

FDR provided no sugarcoating.

“The blunt fact is that every single person in the United States is going to be affected."

But he went on to say, "'Sacrifice" is not exactly the proper word with which to describe this program of self-denial. When, at the end of this great struggle we shall have saved our free way of life, we shall have made no 'sacrifice.'"

Americans responded patriotically.

Leaders are like that. From fails to fiascos, downturns to dow
nsizings, they have the steady job of delivering bad news.

Georgetown University management professor Robert Bies recommends these 10 rules for mastering your delivery of bad news:

  • Never surprise anyone. You’re shirking your duty by keeping bad news to yourself.

  • Never stall. “Bad news delayed is bad news compounded,” Bies says.

  • Never cover up. Withholding information will only lead others to draw false conclusions.

  • Always put it in writing. A paper trail will one day be important.

  • Always justify. Provide “specific and concrete reasons for the bad news.”

  • Always give hope. Emphasizing the positive and temporary aspects of bad news can boost morale, as FDR knew.

  • Always offer solutions. Solutions put the focus on future improvement. “Bad news without solutions is truly bad news.”

  • Always consider every audience. “Remember when delivering bad news that the news never reaches just one; it reaches many.”

  • Always follow through. “Bad news involves cleaning up a mess. After cleaning, let everyone know. Now the news is no longer bad; it is good.”

  • Always show respect. You’re not just communicating bad news; you’re communicating it to human beings.
The last rule is the cardinal one, Bies says; and the one most often broken, as I can attest.

I was laid off, fortunately, only once in my career.

While, as an executive at the company, I was privy to the financial setbacks that preceded the event, when the bad news arrived, via telephone on the Monday before Thanksgiving, the very first thing I was told was that “the decision was easy.”

I grasped at the moment the words that were said (“Marketing is a luxury”).

I’ll never grasp why they they were said.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Influencer Marketing: Cooking with Gas

“Influencer marketing presents a glaring opportunity for brands to leverage the power of word-of-mouth at scale through personalities that consumers already follow and admire,” says Misha Talavera in Adweek.

Influencer marketing may in fact be “the next big thing,” as Talavera says; but it isn’t new.

In 1939, build-up boy Deke Houlgate worked for American Gas Association when he cooked up the tagline, "Now you're cooking with gas!"

Electric and natural gas stoves were in hot competition at the time. 

The association hoped to persuade homeowners cooking with gas was the best way to get hot meals on the table.

Without funds for ads, Houlgate called Bob Hope's scriptwriters and convinced them to insert his line into Hope's radio show.

It became one of Hope's signature lines, and soon spread in use by other comics, jazz musicians and cartoon characters.

American Gas Association was hardly Houlgate's last hurrah.

During World War II, from inside the Pentagon, he used his magic to popularize the unpopular B-26, a bomber so crash-prone it was nicknamed by fliers "The Widowmaker." 

Houlgate also helped glamorize WACs, to encourage enlistments.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Words and Pictures

The effect in sickness of beautiful objects, of variety of objects, and especially of brilliancy of color is hardly at all appreciated.

After a five-year effort, the Susan Sebastian Foundation has just completed the permanent installation of original artworks in every inpatient room in Vermont's 14 hospitals.

The project resulted from ideas expressed in Dr. Esther Sternberg's Healing Spaces: The Science of Place and Well-Being.

Citing research, the book argues that art activates endorphin-rich parts of patients' brains, speeding their recovery.

The nonprofit's founders read Sternberg's book and tackled the project in memory of a long-suffering patient, Susan Sebastian, whose last wish was, “When I get out of here, I am going to sell my house to buy art for hospital patient rooms.”

Sternberg, a pioneer in the science of the mind-body connection, is floored.

"When you write a book, you never know the impact it will have, and to see my words made into reality on this scale is tremendously fulfilling," she says.

Esther Sternberg is a friend of mine, and I can recall vividly the manuscript pages of Healing Spaces stacked on her writing desk. Who knew all those words would matter six years later?

Pictures have power; words do, too.

We're so awash in both, that's easy to forget.

It takes activists like the folks at the Susan Sebastian Foundation to remind us.

HAT TIP: Edward Segal pointed me to this story.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Only the Lonely

A new study published in the Academy of Management Journal says creative workers ignore their spouses.

Two management professors interviewed 108 workers and their spouses every day for 10 days. The workers held jobs in a variety of industries that included finance, healthcare, government, education, transportation and construction.

Workers were asked about the tasks they performed during the day; spouses, about the time spent with their husbands.

The findings: the more the worker was busy with idea-generation on the job, the less time he spent at home.

To remedy "the relational aftereffects of creative behaviors at work on relationships at home," the professors say, bosses should critique creative workers' results at the end of each day.

By providing an immediate critique, bosses, in effect, reboot creative workers' brains before they head home.

"Validating ideas at work may liberate an employee’s cognitive resources in a way that allows them to provide more effective support to their spouse after work," the professors say.

Of course, downloads of domestic devices also work.

Sunday, June 19, 2016


My bravado is foolish; yours is funny.

Chaplin exploited that fact with The Tramp.

Funnier than the fool "is the man who, having had something funny happen to him, refuses to admit that anything out of the way has happened, and attempts to maintain his dignity," Chaplin once said.

He forever put his hapless character in jams, just so The Tramp could show his longing to be "a normal little gentleman."

"That is why, no matter how desperate the predicament is, I am always very much in earnest about clutching my cane, straightening my derby hat, and fixing my tie, even though I have just landed on my head."

My Chakra is Ferkakta

Fans of Mindfulness-Based-Stress Reduction (MBSR), which finds rays of Western science in Eastern meditation, have become saintly inside many Fortune 100s.

They've set up MBSR programs for employees of Aetna, Intel, Target and, naturellement, Google.

With all our Internet-induced stress, it's little wonder.

"We need this stuff right now," says New York Times reporter David Gelles, author of Mindful Work, "Mindfulness is an effective way to get off the hamster wheel of our minds."

But if your māyā detector just buzzed, I'm with you.

I've tried mindfulness meditation, sitting with a great teacher.

I learned enough to know it's hard work.

People peddling MBSR as an easy remedy to stress are selling snake oil.

There ain't no cure for work-life imbalance in one-minute meditations and cutesy memes.

After all, it took Siddhârtha seven weeks to work it out.

And he had a fig tree.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Color of the Year

"Society is a troop of thinkers, and the best heads among them take the best places."
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

After Pantone each December announces its "color of the year," you'll see that color throughout every piece of marketing collateral you run into for the next 12 months.

"Thought leadership" is 2016's color of the year.

B2B marketers who've donned the color aren't fooling anyone, according to a new study by Hill+Knowlton and The Economist Group.

"The very idea of what it means to be a thought leaderonce limited to an elite group of businesses that truly developed proprietary knowledgeis increasingly seen as an overused and self-serving tactic, one that is contributing to the noise rather than cutting through it," says Jeff Pundyk, a coauthor of the study.

Nearly 1,650 executives were asked their opinions of the "thought leadership content" they encounter:
  • Three in five say they're confused and overwhelmed by the sheer volume of that content. Ironically, eight in ten marketers plan to produce more in the coming 12 months.
  • Seventy-five percent say they've become more selective about the thought leadership content they consume.
  • Executives are compelled by thought leadership content only when it's “innovative,” “big picture,” “credible,” and “transformative;" they're turned off by content that's “superficial,” “sales driven,” and “biased.”
"Executives continue to rely on credible, fact-based content; in fact, they are consuming more of it but from fewer sources," Pundyk says.

"Today’s business executives are no longer looking for thought leaders; they are looking for authentic thought partners."

Thursday, June 16, 2016

If You Have to Ask, You Can't Afford It

A new study from Cornell's Center for Hospitality Research shows restaurants will soon start charging diners for reservations.

"This is a logical extension of the revenue management principle of pricing a service to match demand," says Sheryl Kimes, co-author of the study.

Some app providers already charge a premium for hard-to-get reservations at trendy spots; and some auction off those reservations.

Demand, surge and dynamic pricing in fact surrounds us (think of your electricity company, local toll roads and summer rental properties), even though—as Uber recently learned—it's considered inhospitable.

Only restaurateurs and economistswho insist it boosts supplywould say demand pricing isn't just plain, old-fashioned price gouging.

What would you say?

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Bye Bye Love

ToutApp CEO "TK" Towhead Kader, who prides himself on "operational ruthlessness," is through with events; or, at least, with other people's events (OPE).

"If you’re attending any of the sales conferences this year, you may notice a distinct absence of a ToutApp booth," he says.

OPE have proven a heart-breaker. "As we looked back at our marketing spend in the past year, we couldn’t help but notice how paid speaking arrangements, booths, and sponsorships accounted for a lot of our spend but not a lot of attribution to closed business or real pipeline," TK says.

The CEO is diverting his company's spend on OPE "to things that have worked 10x better."

What are those things? Proprietary events (PE).

"We’ll invest in our own events in association with people we love," TK says.

"With all the money we save, we’ll spend that money to invest back into our product, pay our employees at competitive rates, and net-net, be an operationally ruthless company."

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Event Sponsorship: On the Trash Heap?

"Event sponsorship does not belong to the 2010s," says Julius Solaris on Event Manager Blog.

If you produce events and your notion of sponsorship amounts to little more than "brand exposure," your notion's due for a check-up.

Indeed, past due.

"Sponsorships featuring logos, eyeballs and impressions don’t carry the same value they once did," says Velvet Chainsaw's Wendy Holliday.

Sponsorships that don't pluck heartstrings, produce leads, and persist beyond the event belong on the trash heap. (Two sure signs your sponsorships are outdated, according to Velvet Chainsaw: 35% or more go unsold; 75% or more aren't renewed.)

The $64,000 question you must tackle: Why should any company buy your sponsorship, when it can stage its own event? How can you compete against that?

Solaris provides the answer: A proprietary event is inherently lopsided. No matter how you shake it, the private event is biased—and yours isn't.

If you have a genuine reputation for authority, you have an insurmountable advantage.

"Some events are born because they are the expression of a community," Solaris says. "They are a movement. 

"These events are built from the bottom up, their main objective is to get together, be entertained, network and learn. 

"Sponsors should fight with each other to sponsor such events."

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Ad Tech Monster

Ad tech is destroying the web, says a new report from Kalkis Research.

Media firms, desperate for readers, are turning to ad tech providers to deliver them.

But the providers' algorithms—unintentionally—are driving readers instead through a loop of shady websites.

The fraudsters who own these websites have one goal: to nab the ad dollars of big brands like Walmart and Nike.

The scheme is complex:

  • First, the fraudsters run ads that drive readers to "shell" websites, stuffed with stale, stolen and stupid content.
  • But readers of high value to ad tech providers—readers with the right demographics—are then redirected through a loop of other shell sites; redirected against their will via automatic pop-ups, pop-unders, and new browser tabs.
  • The automatic looping improves the "audience quality" of the the shell sites. Once that quality has been established, the fraudsters sign lucrative contracts with big brands to display their ads on their shell sites.
"Traffic laundering is thriving," the researchers say. "Bad guys have become experts at gaming ad tech metrics and monetizing fake or unwilling visitors."

The fraud is fast turning the web into "a clickbait jungle."

The researchers blame ad agencies, which have so far failed to detect the scheme.

HAT TIP: Ann Ramsey pointed me to the new research.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Email: The Postman Never Rings Twice

Sorry, email marketer.

No do-over for you.

If your emails don't deliver on these four basic needs, you're dead, says e-mail marketing guru Chad White:
  1. Respect
  2. Function
  3. Value
  4. Experience
Foremost, customers crave respect. Customers should be notified they're opting in to receive your emails, and find it easy to opt out. "Disregarding permission puts your brand at an immediate disadvantage in the inbox," White says.

Customers also crave function. Your copy should be accurate; your text, legible; your graphics, discernible; your links, clickable; and your design, responsive. "If your emails have broken links and images or have text that’s too small to read on mobile devices, for example, your clicks will suffer."

Customers crave value. Your emails should be useful. They should deliver news, alerts and special offers. Better still, they should be personalized, so they deliver content that's targeted and timely.

Finally, customers crave experience. If your email isn't an experience, it's a waste of time. Customers share treasures, not trash. Experiences, White says, are produced by:
  • Targeting niche audiences with triggered messages
  • Taking advantage of events and charity work, "which are innately more share-worthy"
  • Delivering extra-special content on occasion
  • Using design and layout to differentiate your emails; and
  • Featuring “share with your network” buttons in share-worthy emails
It's easy to learn if your emails deliver, White says. Just count your opens, clicks, conversions, and forwards.


Saturday, June 11, 2016

Too Much Marketing, Too Little Storytelling

Mania for narrative persuasion has sanctified storytelling.

But merely mentioning your company's name less in your copy doesn't make you J.K. Rowling.

Most marketers are storyteller manqués.

"There’s just too much marketing the old way, and too little storytelling," says journalist-turned-marketer Tomas Kellner.

Storytelling takes an understanding of story arc.

Story arcs deliver "the pleasure of pity," said the 18th century playwright and philosopher Friedrich Schiller.

We're led to pity when we learn about other people's suffering. But for the listener to feel pity, the storyteller must:

  • Provide vivid details. Because suffering told can't equal suffering witnessed, to provoke pity the storyteller's details must be vivid.
  • Make the characters accessible. To feel pity, the listener must experience a resemblance between herself and the sufferer, Schiller says. "Where this resemblance is lacking, pity is impossible."
  • Provide tons of details. To work, the story must be complete, Schiller says. No important detail can be left out. "We must have unrolled before us, without a single link omitted, the whole chain of determinations."
  • Draw the story out. The suffering must be durable. The listener wants to flee suffering, but shouldn't be allowed to do so too soon.
Storytelling isn't designed to teach, Schiller says. That's what history lessons are for. Storytelling is meant "to move us, and to charm our souls."

Literary agent Julian Friedmann tells it well:

Make the audience feel pity for a character. Then make the audience experience increasing amounts of fear for the character, as you put the character through increasingly worse circumstances. Finally, release the audience from the tension of anticipating the terrible things that are going to happen to that character, and the audience feels great.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Social Media Marketing, Meet Maslow's Hammer

Abraham Maslow said in The Psychology of Science, "I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”

Social Media Examiner recently asked 5,086 marketers whether social media marketing improves sales. The findings speak volumes:
  • One-third of marketers with less than one year's experience in social media marketing say it improves sales, while
  • Two-thirds of marketers with more than five years' experience in social media marketing say it improves sales.
As a marketer's experience in social media marketing increases, so does her belief in its efficacy.

Digital marketer Jay Baer wonders whether seasoned social media marketers' belief is simply self-justifying.

"People who have been employed in the social media business for multiple years could be convincing themselves that social media is effective, because if it wasn’t a portion of their entire identity and professional worthiness would be called into question," he says.

But Baer chooses to read the findings as proof of something else: social media marketing works when you commit to it long term, not short term.

"This data shows that time horizon is a great determinant of social media success," Baer says.

I agree with him, and would add: social media marketing is merely 2016's edition of PR; it works when you treat it like an enterprise, not an event.

What do you think?

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Innovation's in Our Bones

Whenever I despair of our species, I remember that innovation is in our bones and such a marvelous thing, as two case studies illustrate.

Case Study No. 1

For the past 15 years, UPS drivers have been forbidden to turn left.

That's because company engineers discovered in 2001 that left-hand turns were inefficient, as a UPS spokesman told Fortune.

Left-hand turns wasted time and money.

So the engineers used GPS software to re-route drivers, eliminating left-hand turns.

The move—annually—shaved 20 million miles off drivers' routes; increased deliveries by 350,000 packages; saved 10 million gallons of gas; and cut carbon dioxide emissions by 20,000 metric tons.

Case Study No. 2

In 1940, film comedian W.C. Fields built an exercise room in his Hollywood home. 

He equipped the room with a stationary bike, a rowing machine and a steam cabinet, and hired a personal trainer to help him get buff.

Fields followed the trainer's instructions faithfully, but added touches of his own.

As directed, Fields dressed in sweats and mounted the stationary bike for long rides; but also drank several martinis en route.

He would work out in the rowing machine, but drink gin and sing sea chanteys while at it.

And he'd sit in the steam cabinet for an hour, sipping highballs the whole time.

"This is wonderful—these workouts are going to increase my liquor consumption two or three hundred percent!" Fields told the trainer.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Boldly Go

I need not follow the beaten path; I do not hunt for any path; I will go where there is no path, and leave a trail.
— Protestant hymn

Most executives don't know it, but business strategy and marketing strategy are on a collision course.
Marketers who win, Kirk-like, boldly go where there is no path.

Digital marketer Mitch Joel calls it "getting over the lazy."

Sadly, most marketers hope they can manage—or, more precisely, administer—their way to success by bossing around agencies and in-house teams, Joel says.

But that's just "the lazy."

"Maybe 'lazy' is a bad choice of words," he says in Cntl Alt Delete, "but a majority of marketers are simply doing everything that they have always done. The easy path. The road that was laid out by their predecessors."

The beaten path's lazy—and lazy's the reason CMOs survive only 26 months.

"There is no doubt certain strategies and tactics work, but it's the lazy mentality that will take you down."

Monday, June 6, 2016

A Shark in Sheep's Clothing

Sharklike companies scare clients off.

So it's heartening to see a venture capital firm so self-confident it's willing to empathize.

Rare for the breed, First Round telegraphs amity at every juncture.

The firm, for example, advertises on its website the 80 events it sponsors every year.

It doesn't push a calendar of dates and locations, but instead explains why events have value:

Starting a company is lonely, and founders have to make difficult decisions every day with imperfect information. In our experience, the best safety net is the advice and experience of fellow entrepreneurs.

The firm's gentle touch then assures sheepish clients participation will pay off:

Whenever we get members of our community in a room, magic happens. That’s why our Knowledge Program’s robust events—ranging from cozy dinners to major summits—are designed to get real, vulnerable conversations started. People leave with new ideas and actions they can apply immediately to keep growing and getting better. You won’t find any stick-on name tags here—we hate them.

How about you? Is your website all facts and mission talk? Or do you show clients you understand their fears?

When you evidence a bit of empathy, you boost your effectiveness. As direct marketer Hershell Gordon Lewis advises:

"If we can avoid becoming so wrapped up within the cocoon of our organization’s purpose, goals, and means of recruitment, effectiveness has to go up. So as best you can, you should apply this litmus test to any messages you’re considering sending: If I were receiving this message, not sending it, would it motivate me to respond? 

"See how easy? See how rare?"

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Return of the Meatware

Investor greed and digital technology are inspiring managers to become New Taylorists, says The Economist.

A long-discredited management theory, Taylorism appeals to executives eager to serve the dark side.

Profits can be boosted, the theory holds, if companies follow three simple rules: 
  • Break complex jobs down into one-dimensional tasks;
  • Measure everything workers do; and 
  • Reward achievers, sack slackers.
The theory's opponents point to studies that show culture matters more than tasks and quotas, carrots and sticks.

But the New Taylorists don't buy it. Encouraged by short-term spurts, they'd rather treat workers as meatware.

There are signs, however, the meatware's time is coming.

"The proliferation of websites such as Glassdoor, which let employees review their workplaces, may mean that firms which treat their workers as mere 'meatware' lose the war for the sort of talent that cannot be mechanized," The Economist says.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Razor's Edge

Don't cut it on the job market? Now you can go back to school. Tuition free.

H'University, brainchild of razor manufacturer Harry's, gives students the chance to "learn real-world skills from world-class entrepreneurs, and apply to get hired at top companies."

Personifying value, the microsite proves again content marketing isn't branding.

Content marketers like Harry's realize customers want brands to help them become better citizens, not just better shoppers.

That realization puts content marketers a cut above competitors.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Garbage In, Garbage Out

New research appearing in the International Journal of Business Administration suggests junk content consumption lowers the quality of your writing.

Sixty-five adults participated in the study.

They provided the researchers writing samples and reports of the time spent reading various books, newspapers and websites.

Using an algorithmic tool, the researchers compared the quality of participants' writing samples to samples taken from the books, newspapers and websites the participants most read.

The comparisons show a strong correlation between reading and writing skills: people who read more complex stories have more complex writing, and vice versa.

The researchers blamed junk peddlers like Reddit and Tumblr for participants' worst writing habits.

Consumption of content rife with jargon, slang and shorthand threatens an adult's ability to compose complex sentences.

Neuroanatomy is also to blame.

"Neuroanatomy may predispose even adults to mimicry and synchrony with the language they routinely encounter in their reading, directly impacting their writing," the researchers say.

Or as Ludwig Feuerbach once said, "You are what you eat."

The researchers prescribe heavy doses of literary fiction and academic journals to counteract the effects of emojis, memes, tweets and listicles on writing skill.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Flight to Safety

A stock sell-off/bond buy-up by jittery investors is known on Wall Street as a "flight to safety."

A different kind of flight to safety takes place every hour on every street, at every workplace, in every town in America.

A colleague told me yesterday he was leaving a good company because his marketing ideas—which produced considerable results—don't "fit the culture."

A Cornell study reveals that company leaders often reject new ideas not because the ideas don’t have potential, but because the leaders themselves lack the guts to face risk and uncertainty.

It gets worse. 

When cautious leaders quash new ideas, the study says, they do so unconsciously

Their fear actually blinds them to the ideas.

As adman Leo Burnett said, "To swear off making mistakes is very easy. All you have to do is swear off having ideas."
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