An Interview With Dennis Kelly: Startups, Customer Success & Direct Marketing Automation

Dennis Kelly is the CEO of Boingnet, a multi-channel marketing software that helps direct marketers, agencies, and printers generate more leads and revenue. They take pride in being a provider of lightweight automation tools that excel in user experience and customer success.

Recently, Kelly spoke with Wilde Agency Co-Op Kristen Montana and Account Director Megan Allinson about the make-up of an entrepreneurial spirit, the benefits of working for a startup, and what we can expect of Boingnet in the future. Check out their informative discussion below.


You say in your Twitter bio that “optimism is at the center of resilience.” What keeps you optimistic in times that resilience is warranted?

Optimism was a gift given to me by my parents. I learned early in life how you can be challenged and things can seem really bad, but what you see is often just the tip of the iceberg.

Often, a difficult challenge is an opportunity to learn and grow. I ran across this quote several years ago, and it really expressed something that is a core belief of mine – “At the end of the day, our attitude is a choice.”

If you choose to remain optimistic, regardless of the circumstances, you can usually find some area to grow regardless of the difficulty that you’re faced.

It’s apparent you’ve carried that with you throughout your career, along with a demonstrated entrepreneurial spirit. Is that something that’s learned or innate?

It’s definitely a mixture of both. I think that many people are capable of contributing value to a startup. You don’t have to be Steve Jobs. You don’t have to be a visionary or a brilliant technologist. You just have to enjoy working at a strategic level, as well as a tactical level, at all times.

People that get involved in startups, I believe, like to get their hands dirty. I grew up on a farm, and I was doing a lot of manual hard work every day. It’s something that I enjoy. And as I learned more about business, I realized that I didn’t want to be too far removed from that day-to-day tactical work.

Through some friends from college, I had an opportunity to join a startup at a very young age. I found it rewarding to be in control of your destiny and see the results of your efforts every day. When you’ve got a small group of dedicated, hardworking surrounding you, you can get a lot more done than you can, sometimes, at a very large organization.

It’s not for everybody. You have to have a very high risk tolerance and underlying confidence that things will work out regardless of the circumstances that you’re dealing with.

Boingnet - Startup Company Culture

It seems that many entrepreneurs actively want to be their own bosses. They don’t want anyone else telling them what to do.

That’s how it starts for a lot of people. They feel like they have good ideas, and they can feel stifled in a more bureaucratic environment – one where politics and process get in the way of doing great things.

That impatience, I think, is something that gets a lot of people excited about entrepreneurship and starting a business, but from a sustainability standpoint, the thing that gets people coming back is the thrill of getting a small group of people all pointed in the same direction, quickly accomplishing things that other organizations might require a longer time to accomplish.
How has working at a startup differed from other professional experiences?

My first job out of college was at a very large corporation, a Fortune 50 insurance company. I learned a tremendous amount working there, but I wasn’t really able to put many of the ideas that I developed into practice. If you’re fine with a process that may or may not affect change, then that’s great… But if your personality demands that your ideas see the light of day, then startups are a great things.

What’s one surprising thing that a budding entrepreneur might learn in working for a startup?

Whatever the idea is that they’re thinking, it’s going to take twice as long and cost twice as much. It’s like building a house. You jump right into a new market with a new product. There’s a period of learning and adjustment that has to happen, and so, it makes sense to plan for that upfront.

Your latest venture is at Boingnet. In your own words, how would you describe the problem that Boingnet solves for marketers today?

Boingnet is laser-focused on solving the problem that exists between digital marketing and direct marketing. Essentially, they have become two completely separate forms of marketing over the years, and smart brands are focused on eliminating those silos and presenting cohesive, highly-personalized marketing campaigns that have great user experiences across all channels.

Boingnet is focused on providing software and services to make that process easier. The notion of taking complexity out of the equation and replacing it with simplicity is at the core of how we think about ourselves. Reducing the friction that is associated with integrating digital and direct with personalization is really the thing that sets us apart.

Overall, how important would you say user experience is?

Customers have a lot of choice. Brand loyalty is entirely dependent on user experience at this point. With the internet, it’s so much easier to get information and quickly, easily switch products.

If Boingnet can help brands deliver great user experiences, then we’ve really accomplished something. We’ve aligned the organization of the company around the idea that when our customers are successful, we are successful. We can create long-term value by keeping those incentives aligned.

And how do you define customers’ success? Is there a recipe that you use, or is it based on metrics defined by your customers?

There are similarities that are somewhat consistent across clients, but as a small company, we’re at a stage of our development where we can work very, very closely with our clients to tailor our approach to be successful for them. We can bring best practices and our knowledge from working with many, many clients to the table, but ultimately, all of our clients have somewhat different needs.

So, we’ve created software that is very flexible and can be deployed in a lot of different ways, and we are creating processes that are flexible as well. That tailored approach is at the core of how we’re solving that problem today.

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Are there specific industries that tend to be more successful in achieving their goals through your platform?

We’ve had success working in industries where the processes that are in place to deliver direct and digital are highly manual, disconnected and complex. So when we run across an industry that has that combination of things – complexity, disconnectedness, and manual effort – we can step in and quickly add value.

We’ve seen significant traction in financial services, where there’s often a very large gap in the way brands, both B2B and B2C, have interacted with their clients in their direct and digital marketing. We see a significant amount of opportunity in what we consider large, discretionary consumer purchasing. Things like automotive, higher education, big ticket products or services, where a lot of information is easily accessed online, but direct remains a primary channel for lead generation, loyalty, and win-back campaigns.

Has there ever been an “aha” moment with a particular client that made you think to yourself, “This is why I do this”?

Yes, very much! We had a client approach us with a very complex win-back solution that had been developed online and required the consumer to enter some fairly complex codes in order to participate. The direct organization had a long-standing campaign where direct mail was being used drive people to the online portal prioritized over the call center, because of cost.

Yet, when the consumer reached the online portal, the complexity of the customer account information required was causing a significant amount of friction, and a very low conversion rate.

Boingnet was able to deploy a solution that delivered personalization to the landing page and tied together the direct campaign with the digital campaign. It eliminated the need for the consumer to enter those complex codes to bring their account up and complete the win-back process.

We were able to devise a solution that used our software,  our experiences, and our services to quickly solve this problem and deliver significant ROI to the brand, because of the cost differential that existed between the call center and their online win-back campaign.

What’s your take on the future of Boingnet?

We are extremely optimistic about how direct and digital can be presented in a unified way. As we deliver more and more of these unified experiences to the customer, we will be able to use the data that we generate to get really creative in how the teams can work together to deliver better experiences and generate more leads.

We see a lot of growth and a lot of interest in this. A lot of CMOs are no longer tolerating these silos that exist within the marketing operation, and so, we think we’ve got an opportunity to bring that all together and solve some tough problems for people.


Wilde Agency Logo 1

Wilde Agency is an award-winning integrated marketing agency that specializes in understanding and utilizing the science of human behavior to drive superior results for our clients.

Previously, they collaborated with Boingnet on the behavioral science game MindCamp and their 2016 holiday card campaign, as well as campaigns for clients Nationwide and Yodle.


The post An Interview With Dennis Kelly: Startups, Customer Success & Direct Marketing Automation appeared first on Wilde Agency.

The Most Meaningful Work I’ve Done All Year: Let’s Grow Old Together

How often in this industry can we say we’re truly changing lives? How often are we given an opportunity to sell hope instead of product? Those briefs are few and far between. So when Walgreens asked us to create a campaign for their HIV-specialized pharmacies that could help build a better future for those affected by the disease, I was both humbled and elated.

Going into this project, I didn’t know much about HIV. I knew there had been advances in treatment and that people were living longer. But I didn’t know that doctors now consider HIV a chronic disease, not unlike diabetes or high blood pressure. If you’re diagnosed early and adhere to your treatment regimen, you can live a long, healthy life. That was news to me. And as we learned during our briefing, it was still news to the rest of world.

Stigma and fear are the biggest deterrents to getting tested and beginning treatment.

A few days after the briefing, I was sitting in my partner’s office kicking around ideas when he threw out, “Let’s Grow Old Together.” We saw the genius in it immediately. What better way to tell people that their diagnosis is not a death sentence than with the promise of old age. While the line was great, saying you were going to live a long time wasn’t enough. We needed to show people that they could actually grow old with HIV. And that’s when the idea of a virtual timeline came into existence—starting with diagnosis and going through every milestone of the HIV journey, all the way to retirement.

And what if we had people living with HIV be our guides along that timeline, sharing their stories, advice and inspiration at each milestone?

It was a big, ambitious idea—much bigger than the print ads, banners and trade show booths the client was expecting. It was also a digital-first idea, requiring a highly emotive and immersive site experience to truly do it justice. One of the first challenges we faced was integrating that experience into Walgreens.com, a primarily e-commerce destination. Finding the appropriate solution wasn’t easy. We worked tirelessly with Walgreens web team and our dev partner MediaMonks, ultimately landing on an elegant solution (plus I learned what canonical tags are).

With the technical part mostly ironed out, it was time to produce the content for the site. Two rounds of casting led us to seven amazing people leading full, happy lives in spite of their diagnosis.

Like a man who’d been diagnosed in the 80’s, an HIV-positive and HIV-negative married couple and a woman who’d only had two T cells at the time of her diagnosis. Walgreens also introduced us to an HIV pharmacist who has an incredible relationship with his patients—a you-couldn’t-script-something-this-sincere-and-heartwarming relationship.

The shoot was filled with tears, revelations and, most importantly, hope.

On the last day, one of the women we were interviewing revealed she’d never really believed she had a bright future until this shoot. Hearing the stories of others just like her had given her a new perspective. If creating the site was this meaningful for the HIV patients we were filming, imagine how transformative it could be for the rest of the HIV community.

Nearly a year from concept to creation, the site is now live, and we’re beginning to hear positive responses from the HIV community. I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t go into advertising to change lives. But now I can say it’s the reason I’ll stay in it.

Soon, We Will Have a Bot for Everything

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Imagine communicating with machines by writing or speaking using our natural language. While this might have been fiction in the past, it has now become a reality with the emergence of conversational applications or chatbots. And, soon, we will have a bot for everything.

“By 2020, autonomous software agents outside of human control will participate in five percent of all economic transactions.” – Gartner

2016 saw an eruption of chatbots and conversational systems, a disruption driven by the simultaneous growth of messaging platforms, progress, and ease of access to artificial intelligence (not to mention APIs). In this article, we will address how a chatbot works, simplify the concepts surrounding it, and hopefully inspire all to build bots.

How does a Chatbot work?

Let’s first understand the difference between traditional and conversational applications. A traditional application such as a mobile app or website works in a point-and-click fashion. Its interfaces are built on blocks of elements with which users can interact via limited actions (e.g., click, type, touch, or swipe). This arrangement is extremely convenient and efficient for a computer as there are finite interaction points, often in a sequence. Developers can, therefore, write code for each finite set of interactions very quickly.

That being said, there are also some challenges presented by traditional applications. First, the user must understand the flow required to get the work done. While many flows are commonly used and seemingly simple, specific business domains might necessitate user training. Second, if additional requirements get added, then new user interface (UI) elements and interactions must be introduced.

Conversational applications, on the other hand, take the command from the user in the form of his/her natural language. The example illustrated below is a simplified version of a multi-dialogue, chatbot interaction for buying groceries. 

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While many may argue that chatbot interaction may be cumbersome as users have to type what they want instead of simply clicking a few times, the statistics on messaging platforms say otherwise.

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“Users around the world are logging in to messaging apps to not only chat with friends but also to connect with brands, browse merchandise, and watch content. What were once simple services for exchanging messages, pictures, videos, and GIFs have evolved into expansive ecosystems with their own developers, apps, and APIs.” – Business Insider

We haven’t quite made the full switch from traditional to conversational applications. For now, while the speech recognition and natural language comprehension continues to evolve, we will see many hybrid interfaces making the best of both worlds.

How do we make an application conversational?

A conversational application’s primary aim is to translate natural language into user intent. The intent, in this context, is the command the user intends to execute. The conversational app can either be rule-based or actions-based.

Rule-Based

A rule-based application is preprogrammed with multiple phrases against an intent (see the simple rule-based flow below). While these bots are intelligent and able to understand natural language, any conversation that goes outside the boundaries of their rules fails. Having said that, the rules are also what make these chatbots extremely accurate.

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Actions-based

Natural language processing (NLP) is the class of artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms that enables a computer to understand human language and process commands. These actions-based, conversational applications basically convert human language into bits and bytes.

Consider the lifecycles of human beings. Children are taught by feeding them information. As they grow, their interactions with the environment continue to develop their intelligence. NLP works in a similar fashion. Initialized with a set of training data, the AI builds upon its learnings via usage and interaction.

Breaking down a Chatbot

From this point forward, we will focus on the application of natural language processing in a chatbot and the key concepts applied by current bot platforms and software developers’ kits (SDKs). The objective is to become aware of the ecosystem and quickly start building chatbots of your own.

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Conversational Channels

Conversational channels are like the eyes, ears, and mouth of a chatbot. The most common conversation interfaces are currently text and voice as they allow interaction via natural language. Also, chat platforms have become popular mostly through our mobile devices and desktops, which are ideal for text interfaces. Therefore, while multiple interfaces in addition to voice and text exist, we will focus primarily on these two.

1. Text-Based Channels

These are simple chat platforms that allow you to communicate with bots via text, which their NPL algorithms can directly consume. These interfaces can be completely custom-built as mobile, desktop, or web applications, or they can be integrated with existing messaging platforms. A few key examples of text-based messaging platforms include Whatsapp, Slack, Tropo, Line, KIK, and Facebook Messenger. These chat platforms provide web-based API hooks for transmitting the text received via their chat interfaces to a chatbot service. If the interface is the platform, then the chatbot can be developed and exposed as an API.

2. Voice-Based Channels

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Voice or speech interfaces like the Amazon Echo allow users to converse with bots by simply speaking. Since the chatbot only understands communication in text format, an additional interface is needed to convert speech into text (and text back into speech when the chatbot responds). A few notable platforms/services that provide speech-to-text and text-to-speech services include Google’s Speech API, Amazon’s Voice Service, IBM’s Watson Speech API, Microsoft’s Azure Speech API, and API.AI. 

The Chatbot Core

Let’s try to see and dissect a chatbot’s inner workings. How does it understand language, intelligently process commands, and respond as natural (read: human) as possible? Every time a user tries to communicate with the chatbot, he/she has the “intent” of asking a question or giving a command. Natural language processing (and the algorithms supporting it) is responsible for figuring out that intent based on the inputs the chatbot receives.

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General English Language

Chatbots can be taught general, spoken English or any other language by giving it predefined learning data. For example, hello, greetings, or hi are understood as an intent of “salutation.”

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Domain Specific Language

Unlike generic vocabulary, vocabulary specific to a business can be interpreted differently. Let’s take “I am planning to travel to New York” as an example. The phrase can be interpreted by an airline service as the intent to book a “flight,” while a hotel would interpret it as intending to book a “hotel room.”

Ideally, we would want a chatbot to be very open-ended and have conversations with much wider contexts. Since these kinds of open domain bots are quite complex, most of the bots today are dedicated to specific businesses or domains.

Let’s assume that the chatbot is focused on the “airline domain” and is connected to the business API of the airline’s booking system online. Based on the “travel” verb, the chatbot understands that the user intends to travel and knows that it needs to call the API “searchTravelOptions” before it can book any flights.

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To make a successful API call, the chatbot also needs to identify the parameters required to complete the operation. NLP applies a concept of named entity recognition, which enables the bot to associate the parameters with known information like place, time, date, etc. For example, “New York” can be associated with either “Destination” or “Source” based on the named entity training data with which the chatbot is pre-loaded. Similarly, if the user had given a date, then it could be associated with either “Travel Date” or “Return Date.” To evaluate these possibilities, the chatbot uses prepositions such as from or to to accurately identify an entity. For example, “from location” signifies the source, while “to location” signifies the destination.

Dialogue

In the aforementioned example, not all entities are provided to the bot in a single sentence. The bot platforms are, therefore, equipped to construct “dialogues” or series of conversations in order to complete a process. As you can see below, the chatbot continues to have a dialogue with the user until all the information necessary for a “searchTravelOptions” API call is gathered.

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Context

In the example conversation above, the chatbot is aware of the user’s current location based on his mobile’s GPS and assumes the source. The chatbot can use the information gathered from mobile devices to determine physical context (like location, speed, etc.) and it can also use saved user data (such as class preference) to determine domain context. Context awareness and the ability to derive entity information makes a chatbot more aware and human.

Unsupervised & Supervised Learning

The identification of intent and entities enables the chatbot to know which API to call, what data to fetch, and which parameters to pass. The pre-loading and classification of Common Vocabulary, Domain Specific Vocabulary, Named Entitles, and Domain Specific Entities can, therefore, be deemed the chatbot’s unsupervised, “learning” processes.

However, there will be many instances when the chatbot will not be able to accurately translate a user’s phrase into intent. For this, all bot platforms allow developers to review missed translations and manually label these phrases with their appropriate intents. With this process, the chatbots learn from their mistakes or “lack of knowledge” in a supervised environment. In the example below, the bot cannot associate “whazzup” to any intent and has asked the developer to associate it to the appropriate one.

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How does a Chatbot respond? 

Now that we have discussed how a chatbot processes natural language, let’s discuss how chatbots respond to questions or commands in a manner as similar to natural, human responses as possible. There are multiple algorithms and models that allow a chatbot to determine its responses, but we will touch on only one approach: the retrieval-based model.

Retrieval-Based Model

A predominant approach due to easy implementation, the retrieval-based model involves a predefined response to a command or question. The response can be static or selected from a predefined set of commands based on rules or persona information (that of the user interacting with the chatbot). While this approach may seem smarter, the truth is that responses are limited to a finite set of vocabulary.

So, how can we make chatbots more perceptive? The more context a chatbot has, the more intelligent it can become. The chatbot can begin to select responses based on the user’s mood, physical, or linguistic context. Services like IBM’s Watson™ Tone Analyzer and Personality Insights can be used to gather this user context, and change the style or flow of the dialogue accordingly.

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Let’s build Chatbots!

There is an enormous list of available chatbot ecosystems and platforms, along with many tutorials that can help those looking to build chatbots. These platforms are very simple and easy to use, and do not require vast amounts of artificial intelligence knowledge.

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The chatbots and machine intelligence space is expanding at a rapid pace, and has to be taken seriously by organizations and individuals alike. In the near future, AI and machine learning will shift from being the domain of a closed community to touching every sphere of our lives. Being aware of this space will be as important as knowing how to operate a smartphone.

By Siddhartha Lahiri, Senior Manager, SapientRazorfish

We’ve got that Superdrug feeling

Some fab news for Feb: following another successful pitch we’ve been appointed to create the advertising for famous health and beauty retailer Superdrug – with pre-production for our exciting TVC campaign already well underway.
 
The work will take ‘that Superdrug feeling’ in a bold, daring new direction, getting viewers to see the brand like never before and inspiring them to feel beautiful. Look out for the ads launching in the spring, and then targeted to a range of key dates throughout the year.

5 Extremely Useful Digital Marketing Stats: February 2017

We’re back with five more extremely useful digital marketing stats.

From Black History month to the Oscars, February is loaded with special events and holidays. Many advertisers roll out special sales to drive foot traffic or online transactions, but more and more brands are learning that to increase actual spend, engagement, and loyalty, they need to leverage content in more a strategic, thoughtful manner.

We’ve pulled five important digital marketing stats every marketer should know and used February-specific executions from leading brands to illustrate how certain brands are doing just that.

EXTREMELY USEFUL DIGITAL MARKETING STAT NO.1:

60 percent of content created by brands is “just clutter” – meaning it has “little or no impact on business results or people’s lives.” (source: Havas)

Who is cutting out the clutter?

Companies often produce content without giving much thought to what inspires consumers to act. It is a terrible waste of time and money and often leads to consumers tuning out due to a deluge of meaningless “noise.”

To avoid this, brands should emulate companies like Allstate.

This year, the insurance brand is refocusing on key African American audiences in targeted cities around the country with more impactful content. Allstate launched a digital, social and radio campaign titled “Worth Telling,” which shares stories about important African American influencers and ties them back to special events and Allstate’s services.

Marketing Week reported, “Havas found a 71 percent correlation between content effectiveness and a brand’s impact on consumers’ personal well-being.”

Allstate’s mix of social and experiential tactics, written and visual materials, allows them to speak to different individuals with meaning, but also get more mileage from a single campaign by surfacing the content in different ways and through different channels.

EXTREMELY USEFUL DIGITAL MARKETING STAT NO.2:

40 percent of marketers say the emergence of millennials will have the greatest effect on their industry – a number almost equal to those who said it would be mobile (47 percent). (source: eMarketer)

How do you reach millennials effectively?

According to Millennial Marketing, “80 million millennial consumers, ages 18 to 37, want to spend their money on brands that are socially responsible.” Knowing this, it’s hard to imagine that Airbnb’s #WeAccept campaign didn’t resonate with this consumer segment.

The hotel alternative app explains the values driving the campaign as follows: “We believe in the simple idea that no matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love, or who you worship, you deserve to belong.” They go on to share how they have provided housing for refugees, evacuees of disasters, and other people in-need of short-term housing – with a goal of helping 100,000 individuals over the next five years.

Airbnb’s choice to launch this values-based campaign on social media – a place millennials spend on average about six hours a week according to Nielsen – smartly considers and argues the “why” consumers should choose them and then articulates that reason in a channel where they are spending time.

EXTREMELY USEFUL DIGITAL MARKETING STAT NO.3:

42 percent of marketers want to better link their campaigns into a comprehensive, connected experience that drives engagement throughout the shopping lifecycle. (source: CMO Council)

Who can they look to as an example?

For Valentine’s Day, retailer David’s Bridal executed a brilliant campaign on Pinterest that connected to each stage of the wedding “engagement lifecycle,” but also drove truly meaningful consumer interactions.

In this campaign, brides-to-be are given a personalized Pinterest board after completing an interest quiz. These boards offer value by helping spark inspiration and plan a wedding, but for the retailer, it connects the consumer to a commerce experience by allowing users to schedule an appointment with the retailer directly or shop with them online.

David’s Bridal considered buying behavior in a truly holistic way. It is aware of the numerous proposals that happen on Valentine’s Day, created a fun “game” to serve useful content to the consumer, and then connects to a trackable online-to-offline experience.

EXTREMELY USEFUL DIGITAL MARKETING STAT NO.4:

Roughly two-thirds (68 percent) of consumers said they’ll compare prices in retailers’ weekly circulars to find the lowest prices. (source: IRI)

Who is making weekly circulars more valuable for consumers?

Publix is a high-end grocer that strives to make even their weekly ad a rich content experience to stand out among competitors. They often run themes to contextualize their products and inspire consumers to try new products, increase their basket size, or go with a premium brand.

This year, they’re running several pages designed to highlight Mardi Gras specific deals. Event driven executions like this are nothing new for retailers. However, what brands can learn from Publix is that even traditional digital experiences can sell more products when the content that present them offers more contextual value.

EXTREMELY USEFUL DIGITAL MARKETING STAT NO.5:

Smartphone and tablet usage rose by about 32 percent [after the Super Bowl Halftime Show] as viewers were posting on social media and texting about the performance. (source: Fetch)

What can this teach us about cross-device advertising during big media events?

This year the average cost for a 30 second television ad during the Oscar’s went for $1.9 to $2 million. This makes the “Oscars second only to Super Bowl for ad revenue” and a place most brands cannot afford to play.

Lucky, 84 percent of smartphone and tablet owners engage with their devices while watching television – and, as Lady Gaga’s performance illustrates, a lot of their attention is up for grabs on social media.

AMC’s The Walking Dead – which airs opposite the Oscar’s – started #OscarsTWD encouraging their followers to modify the names of award-winning films to new titles related to the show’s characters. The show’s twitter account joined in by sharing photoshopped movie posters like these.

While AMC most likely won’t win out in a ratings battle with ABC, it did successfully insert itself into a social media “event” for virtually no cost. It did not gobble up media spots; it focused on what type of content was going to connect with the show’s audience.

This approach appears to have paid off. Keyhole.co reports #OscarsTWD (started on 2/22) has already earned 712 posts with 2.5M reached and 6.3M impressions. Exclusive retail sponsor for the Oscar’s Walmart’s teaser film that uses #TheReceipt (started on 2/21) only has 86 posts with 1.4M reached and 2.4M impressions.

Were there any great executions this month we missed? Share it with us in the comments or on social!

SIGNING NATALIE DORMER FOR EA!

Our EA team secured Game of Thrones star Natalie Dormer to play Dr Lexi T’Perro in Mass Effect: Andromeda

In the newest instalment of the Mass Effect series, Lexi enters the depths of outer space, stepping on board The Tempest. Natalie Dormer voices one of the game’s central characters and one of the first characters players will meet when they wake up from their 600-year cryo sleep.
 

Past is Just That…

Dare Greatly — introduced in 2015 showcasing entrepreneurs who epitomize what it means to dare — continues as the guiding principle of the campaign. Now, Cadillac shares how they are turning the Dare Greatly principle into practice as they drive the world forward through their strong stance in culture, their future vision and their vehicles. Cadillac has, and always will, drive the world forward.

As a brand with deep historic roots in American culture, we want to remind the world that even though the brand has always been iconic, it’s the future, the daring through engineering, design and power that will continue to be what makes Cadillac a force to be reckoned with as and American automotive maker.

The fully integrated campaign brings depth to Cadillac’s past, present and future.
Multiplatform content will appear across TV, digital, and experiential, inviting people to explore what it takes to move forward. The campaign also includes an immersive digital experience on DareGreatly.com/forward, with an interactive timeline experience where viewers can explore a Cadillac’s history and past, present and future innovations. Rounding out the campaign are a series of supporting TV ads looking at the current cars and how they are answering the future vision of the brand through engineering and design today.

The post Past is Just That… appeared first on Rokkan.

Bernie & Phyl’s – furniture retailer too sexy?

A not so subtle misdirect in advertising can deliver a surprise, an unforgettable message and instigate action.

Article in Boston Business Journal
The story behind Bernie & Phyl’s sexually suggestive ads: http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/news/2017/02/17/the-story-behind-bernie-phyls-sexually-suggestive.html

Article in Furniture Today
Bernie & Phyl’s seeks young consumer with suggestive ads: http://www.furnituretoday.com/article/540459-bernie-phyls-seeks-young-consumer-suggestive-ads

How To Get Over Procrastination In 10 Days (Or Maybe Later)

By Joseph J. Sanchez (Social Media Manager)

The paper was going to press. The runner showed up at the door, anxious to pick up the creative and copy.

Nothing whatsoever had been produced.

Since the money had already been laid down for the ad space – and time was very limited – one of the company’s co-owners did the first thing that popped into his head. He grabbed a blank piece of paper. He quickly scribbled down 4-6 different faces. And he jotted down the name of the business.

Boom, boom, boom! The problem was solved.

But that wasn’t the end of the story. One of those hastily scribbled faces would move on to represent the company for 38 years. It would appear on t-shirts, shopping bags and collectible pint glasses. It would become a local icon, immediately recognizable to anyone who grew up in the New England area.

This, my friends, is the rarely-told legend of Toothface, the official mascot of Newbury Comics.


Why Procrastination Isn’t Necessarily A Bad Thing

Toothface by Newbury Comics

It took one man less than ten minutes to (unintentionally) produce a logo that’s 100% true to his brand’s roots.

It took a dozen people, including the CEO, three years to complete Uber’s redesign, which was quickly torn to shreds by art directors, business columnists and social media users alike.

(Of course, that may be the least of their problems right now.)

Meticulous planning can backfire. Flashes of genius can manifest in a matter of seconds. Chances are, you have encountered both of these circumstances throughout your career and everyday life.

Such last-minute genius fuels the tale behind Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece Fallingwater. After putting off the project for months, Wright drafted up the initial plans in just two hours – all while his client was driving in for an impromptu meeting. The structure has since been designated a National Historic Landmark and was once described as the “best all-time work of American architecture”.

Anecdotal evidence aside, science has also supported the claim that procrastination’s capable of fostering innovation. A University of Wisconsin study found that if participants were given five minutes to play computer games, they generated new business ideas that were 28 percent more creative than their peers.


Why Procrastination Isn’t Necessarily A Good Thing

procrastination

It took one man over 12 months to write the blog post you’re reading right now. Week after week, the topic appeared at the top of our agency’s editorial calendar, and week after week, the final product never made it onto our website. It became a running joke in our Monday meetings. Something worthy of an awkward “white whale” metaphor.

So, if the prior section made you want to brush aside conventional wisdom and tip-toe along the edges of your deadlines, you can thank Confirmation Bias or Availability Bias for that feeling. Then you can throw that feeling in the garbage.

The truth is, the same University of Wisconsin study mentioned above also discovered that excessive procrastination is a major threat to innovation. When a third group was introduced to the study, they were given less time to complete the task at hand. Those participants were left frantically rushing, thereby settling for easy, unimaginative solutions.

Poor time management is a procrastinator’s worst enemy. (Tweet this!)

It’s how you wind up sitting in your local neighborhood coffee shop live-tweeting the entirety of the 1994 TV movie Aliens For Breakfast, when you should be writing a blog post about procrastination.

It’s how you wind up leaving your senior thesis art exhibition to the last minute, then wind up being resentful that you didn’t receive honors for years to come.

And it’s how you miss the deadlines for a major opportunity, then convince yourself that it’s no big deal, because you were never really that invested in the opportunity.

Not that any of this is based on a true story, haha!

Some of us – not mentioning any names – aren’t inherently gifted when it comes to time management. So with that in mind, here are some tips from an expert (on procrastination) that can help you improve your productivity with behavioral science.


To Beat Procrastination: Break It Down

Stretch Goal Graphic via HubSpot

It sounds simple, but make a damn to-do list. Write it down in a notebook or a daily calendar. Keep track of your tasks electronically in an app, or jot them all down in the Notes of your iPhone. Whatever you do, and wherever you do it, find a system that works for you and let it guide you through your daily life.

As human beings, we are obsessed with unfinished tasks. They cycle around in our brains and keep us up at night, and this pattern usually doesn’t stop until we get the job done. This is known as the Zeigarnik Effect. Research about the phenomenon was first published in 1927 by Dr. Bluma Zeigarnik, but her findings remain relevant to this day.

“I think this is really important, that you write down all the things that you have to do,” neuroscientist Dr. Daniel J. Levitin told Note To Self last year. “Clear it out of your head so that you’re not using neuro-resources with that little voice reminding you to pick up milk on the way home and to check to see if you paid the utility bill and that you have to call back Aunt Tilly because she left a voicemail and she’s going to worry and all this chatter – get it out of your head, write it down, then prioritize things.”

The key word here is “prioritize”. A simple way to do this is to take your most pressing tasks and break them down into easy, manageable chunks that you can accomplish without going insane. That way, you can make progress toward your goals, while also benefiting from the dopamine rush that occurs when you cross things off your list.


To Beat Procrastination: Break The Ice

JUST DO IT Animated GIF

Were you paying attention in that last section? The Zeigarnik Effect states that we’re more likely to remember unfinished tasks. You might be shocked to discover that a task can’t technically be considered “unfinished” unless somebody’s made the effort to start it. (Please hold your gasps of surprise until the end of the post.)

Often, taking the first step into a project can be the hardest part, but as soon as you’ve dipped your toes into the water like a cartoon duckling who’s learning how to swim, you’ll tap into the Zeigarnik Effect and trigger a magical “inner nag” who won’t shut up until you’ve done what you need to do.

The folks at Nike (and Shia LaBeouf) were on to something when they said “JUST DO IT”.


To Beat Procrastination: Break The Narrative

Ghostwriter - Lenni - I don't believe

It’s been said here before, but it’s worth saying again – “When people are given a particular label, they have a tendency to live up to it.” This can be a highly effective way for brands to persuade their audience to take a particular action, and it can even be applied at home to influence your partner, child, or roommate to do what you want them to do.

More importantly? You can use this psychological tactic on yourself. Start by refusing to label yourself as a “procrastinator”. Wake up, look into the mirror, and tell yourself that you’re going to get shit done. Repeat this process until you believe the words that are coming out of your mouth (or cycling in your head, if you don’t want to sound like a crazy person talking to yourself alone in the bathroom).

At the end of the day, we can all take a lesson from Lenni Frazier, a fictional teen rapper from the 1990s PBS television series Ghostwriter. Whenever the words never, don’t, can’t, or won’t pop into your head, flip the script and prove yourself wrong.


To Beat Procrastination: Take A Break

Burnout is 100% real, and chances are, you are not immune to exhaustion. Even the most productive people have to put off minor tasks from time to time. That doesn’t mean that they’re any less efficient. Most likely, it signals that they’re overloaded with work and need to put a few hours aside for themselves.

A lack of productivity doesn’t mean you’re broken. It might just mean that you need a break. (Tweet this!)

The goal of your break should be to recharge your batteries, and depending on your interests and personality type, the activity you select may vary.

Studies have indicated the mental benefits of a walk in nature or putting aside time for meditation. You might, however, get more out of eating lunch with a coworker, taking a few vacation days, or take 10-15 minutes to listen to music before tackling a substantial task.

Science has a lot to say about this topic, but it’s up to you to determine what’s going to activate and energize your brain. It could be doing a crossword puzzle, or heck, it could be watching a bad TV movie about aliens who travel in cereal boxes to save the world. The choice is up to you, my friend.


To Beat Procrastination: Break Away

Destiny's Child - "Bug a Boo" music video GIF

The 1999 Destiny’s Child single “Bug a Boo” told the tale of a young Beyoncé breaking away from technology to avoid an unwanted suitor who just won’t take the hint that she’s just not that into him.

When it comes to heightening your focus and completing an intense task, any distractions from your phone, email, or social media should be considered your own professional “Bug A Boo”. If that doesn’t make sense, allow behavioral economist Dan Ariely to explain without resorting to a metaphor that involves LaTavia Roberson.

“It should be painfully clear to everyone that we need to be worried about the interruptions economy,” Ariely wrote for WIRED. “What value do interruptions provide, under what conditions, and what are their costs? A little ping may seem innocuous, but there is cumulating evidence that the cost of an interruption is higher than we realise, and of course given the sheer number of interruptions, their combined effect can very quickly become substantial.”

Ariely isn’t joking about the evidence. One study found that it takes workers 15 to 23 minutes to bounce back from a distraction, and another discovered that a phone’s push notifications are just as distracting as phone calls – even if you ignore them.

If extensive concentration is required to get a job done, it’s best to unplug from technology. Silence your phone and place it in another room. Close all social media tabs on your computer. Warn your coworkers that you’ll be in the “zone” for a few hours, and you won’t be responding to emails. Whatever it takes, make it a point to eliminate technological distractions as an obstacle.


To Beat Procrastination: Break The News

Facebook - accountability and consistency principle

According to research by the “godfather of influence” himself, Dr. Robert Cialdini, people have a tendency to follow through after they’ve written down or publicly stated what they’re going to do. This is known as the Consistency Principle. (We’ve used this principle to drive action in campaigns for Nationwide, CREDO Mobile, and The Boston Globe.)

The basic gist is that we all possess a desire to look consistent through our words, beliefs, attitudes, and deeds, and we experience a certain level of dissonance when we don’t live up to others’ expectations.

This is why we’re more likely to stick to a plan when we have an “accountability buddy“. It’s also why you feel like a doofus when you make a huge announcement on Facebook and don’t wind up delivering the goods – even though, in most cases, half of your friends will have forgotten you made the promise.

That said? You can take advantage of your need to avoid looking like an inconsistent doofus by sharing your goals with friends, family, or colleagues… Because you could find the strength within yourself to tackle your to-do list, but sometimes, it’s more effective to let the fear of disappointing others serve as your major source of motivation and inspiration!

(Insert uncomfortable laughter here.)


To Beat Procrastination: Break The Barriers

In the Broadway adaptation of 9 to 5, country music legend and delightful human being Dolly Parton offered up the following wisdom – “Something that you know is dammin’ up the flow. Tear the damn dam down. Let me explain it. If you don’t take the reigns, it’s going to stay the same. Nothing’s gonna change if you don’t change it.”

Although Dolly isn’t a noted behavioral economist, her advice ties back to what’s referred to as a Scarcity Mindset. When we’re lacking in time, money, collaboration, food, companionship, or any other vital resource, it can have a profound effect on our decision-making process.

Scarcity can do wonders for marketers, since it triggers our “fear of missing out“. Yet, nothing can be gained from a lack of these resources in the workplace.

“Recent behavioral science research illustrates how scarcity creates a mind-set in which individuals unconsciously focus on urgent, unmet needs, letting other considerations slide,” a Deloitte University Press piece recently stated. “Scarcity can be a hidden distractor that constantly pulls cognition away from other important but less urgent needs.”

So, listen to what Dolly has to say! If you’re feeling hungry, go out and grab lunch. If you’re in need of companionship, make plans to meet someone for coffee, tea, or a couple of beers. And if money’s a big issue, talk to your supervisor about getting a raise or develop a (legal) side hustle to make a few extra bucks. Your brain will thank you for your efforts.


And Now For The Exciting Conclusion…

How To Get Over Procrastination In 10 Days

Congratulations! You made it to the end of this post, and you’ve now been cured of your propensity toward procrastination. Or at the very least, you now have seven remarkably simple, science-backed strategies to make your life a little easier.

  1. BREAK IT DOWN: Make a damn to-do list and check things off.
  2. BREAK THE ICE: Get started on your big project. Just do it.
  3. BREAK THE NARRATIVE: Stop labeling yourself as a “procrastinator”
  4. BREAK (TAKE ONE NOW): Find a way to recharge your batteries.
  5. BREAK AWAY: Eliminate technological distractions.
  6. BREAK THE NEWS: Tell the world what you’re going to do.
  7. BREAK THE BARRIERS: Tackle obstacles that drain mental energy.

In conclusion, you just read over 2,000 words that were summed up in 70 words and a wonky hand-drawn infographic. One could say that you should reassess your priorities and consider doing something more productive with your time, but hey, that’s coming from a guy who took over 12 months to write a blog post about procrastination.


Joseph John Sanchez III

Joseph J. Sanchez is an artist, writer, and self-proclaimed social media mad scientist. He may or may not be the Social Media Manager for Wilde Agency.

Much as he would love for you to peruse his (highly questionable) content on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram, he would prefer if you experience his voice as a brand.

In order to do so, please follow Wilde Agency on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. We’re not saying that his job depends on your social media engagement, but we’re also not going to deny it! Thanks for reading.


The post How To Get Over Procrastination In 10 Days (Or Maybe Later) appeared first on Wilde Agency.

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