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.

boingnet - pURL

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 ’80s, 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.

Visit and experience “Let’s Grow Old Together” here.

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!

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.


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Give your ideas legs.

Walking meetings come with more than just health benefits.

 

There is a growing trend to get healthy and spend time away from desks, screens and all the distractions of modern day working life but are there benefits, beyond the obvious, to be had from walking meetings?

Yesterday, ironically whilst I was sat in a meeting, I was introduced to the concept of walking meetings. Not something I’d ever heard of before, but something which caught my attention and motivated me to do a bit of research.

It is already a trendy topic among modern business leaders. Steve Jobs was apparently known for having walking meetings with his employees and the likes of Barack Obama and Richard Branson are also known to be big fans of the “walk and talk” philosophy.

In principle, it does what it says on the tin, it’s a meeting you have whilst you walk, but it was the associated benefits of this simple yet seemingly effective approach to meetings which sparked my interest.

“All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.”

In her TEDTalk ‘Got a meeting? Take a walk’, Nilofer Merchant likened sitting to “the smoking of our generation.” We are all aware that smoking is bad for us – indeed that it may dramatically shorten our lives, but the health risks of inactivity means a sedentary lifestyle or “sitting disease” as it’s now been coined by the scientific community is now one of the leading causes of preventable death worldwide. According to the British Psychological Society the average office worker spends an astonishing 5.41 hours per day chained to their desk, so it’s no surprise that 64% of us are overweight.

Of course, there are obvious health benefits to be had from walking meetings. It’s not rocket science, and we all know we should move more and sit less, but despite that, one in three adults worldwide fails to do the recommended 150 minutes of moderate aerobic physical activity per week. There have been attempts in recent years to increase movement in the office workforce. The introduction of standing desks for example, are a step in the right direction; and the advent of wearable tech now allows for comfortable and easy-to-wear devices that help nudge us throughout the day to spend less time sitting. But they don’t give our mind and body the stimulation we get from fresh air and moving our bodies. As the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1889) wrote, “All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking”.

Research carried out by Harvard Business Review found that people who participate in walking meetings are 5.25% more likely to report being creative in their jobs than those who do not. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that walking meetings can also lead to more honest exchanges with employees and are more productive than traditional sit-down meetings. Dr Ted Eytan, supports this evidence by explaining that our brains are more relaxed during walks due to the release of certain chemicals. This aids executive function, which governs how we focus on tasks and deal with unforeseen events, among other things.

Of course, not all meetings are suitable for walking meetings but if you’re unsure where to start it seems the best walking meetings are the ones where colleagues are conferring on decisions or exploring possible solutions. The $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp for example, occurred after Jan Koum, one of the co-founders had several walking meetings with the Facebook CEO according to Bloomberg.

So, the next time you’re planning a meeting I urge you to consider some of the benefits to be had from a walking meeting, here are 7 from Peter Economy:

  1. Walking meetings are more creative: Researchers at Stanford University found that the creative output of people increases by an average of 60 percent when they are walking. Indoor walks were found to be just as effective for boosting creativity as outdoor walks.
  2. Walking meetings are better for you: According to Nilofer Merchant, “sitting is the smoking of our generation.” Walking meetings get you out of your chair, they get you moving, and–if you take them outside of our building–they get you some much needed fresh air and sunlight.
  3. Walking meetings tear down walls between management and workers: Says Western Union CEO, Hikmet Ersek–a big fan of walking meetings–“People become much more relaxed, and they talk from their hearts if you go for a walk with them. And they get to the point they want to make much more quickly.”
  4. Walking meetings improve energy and engagement: The Wellness & Prevention group of Johnson & Johnson has been doing research on the advantages of walking meetings. According to VP Jack Groppel, “In the studies that we did, after 90 days of doing [walking meetings], people felt increased amounts of energy, they felt increased focus, they felt improved engagement.”
  5. Walking meetings are better for communication: Assuming you avoid distractions by leaving your smartphone in your pocket or purse where it belongs, walking meetings are much more natural and focused on the topics at hand. According to neuroscientist, Andrew Tate, the increased blood flow to your brain “…helps you express those ideas more fluently and helps you communicate with coworkers.”
  6. Walking meetings outdoors make employees happier: Scientists at the UK’s University of Essex found that the mood and sense of well-being of people is boosted significantly with as little as 5 minutes of outdoor exercise.
  7. Walking meetings could save your life: According to researchers, just 30 minutes of walking each day can lead to a dramatic reduction in the risk of dementia, breast and colon cancer, and heart disease. If that’s not reason enough for taking your meetings for a walk, then I don’t know what is.

In conclusion, it’s probably appropriate for me to say I should “walk the talk” as it were, and show my commitment to the cause. Whilst I don’t think it’s possible or practical to commit to walking meetings by default, I most certainly will be trading some of my meetings for walking meetings to get those creative juices flowing.

Haribo goes international

It is with some excitement that we are seeing our Kid’s Voices campaign for Haribo go international.

We are now working directly with Haribo in the US, Sweden and Denmark.

And we’ve acted as production consultants in Holland, France and Spain, working with Haribo’s existing agencies in those markets.

Check out our first work for the US here, with more to come.

Elevating Campaigns via Amazon Marketing Services

Post by Leo Martinez, Media Manager

By leveraging Amazon Marketing Services (AMS), brands can elevate their campaign performance. Here is a four-step guide on how to achieve efficiency and increased performance through AMS:

(1) Determine goals

KPIs

Determine which performance metrics are most important the campaign’s performance. For example, if the main priority is to drive revenue as efficiently as possible, then ROAS would be worth optimizing towards as it allows marketers to quickly analyze the ratio between sales and spend. Marketers should also set realistic expectations based on the competitive landscape as this could affect portfolio results.

Hero SKUs

What are the priority products that should be advertised as much as possible?

Priority Keywords

Which keywords must “win” at all times? These keywords will likely receive a healthier portion of the budget as bids will need to be pushed aggressively.

Budget

Does the budget provide support to accomplish all AMS goals? If not, marketers should assess goal prioritization to ensure the most important targets are met.

(2) Audit current campaigns

Once KPIs are set, it’s important to audit the current campaign structure to understand what gaps need to be filled.

Account Structure

Does the account have a clear and organized campaign structure? AMS does not have ad groups so it is important that the campaigns have a clear keyword distinction.

Keywords

Analyze the keywords of the campaigns to determine if they are housed in the appropriate places and if it’s necessary to continue bidding on them. It might be helpful to download keyword reports when assessing keywords so you could compare performance to the brand’s KPIs.

Headline Campaign Ads

Do the Headline Search Campaigns follow best practices (i.e. does the ad provide a strong call-to-action, does it follow the capitalization guidelines, does the ad have three product images to the right of the ad copy, etc.)? Marketers should consider refreshing the headline ad copy if the CTR is below 1%.

Headline Landing Page

Is the headline driving users to the brand page or a custom landing page? It’s important to determine which landing page makes most sense based on advertising goals.

Sponsored Product SKU Eligibility

Compile a list of all the SKUs the brand wishes to promote, and check their availability as ineligible SKUs might cause a shift in strategy.

Marketers can also check for a product’s eligibility status by typing in the Amazon Standard Identification Number (ASIN) within the Sponsored Product campaign creation window. Note that the advertiser cannot make an ineligible SKU become eligible as the financial threshold is determined by Amazon.

(3) Filling in the campaign gaps / Restructuring the accounts

Build on top of past successes and choose a campaign structure that best fits the brand’s goals.

Keyword expansion

If necessary, expand the current keyword set to ensure campaigns are capturing all relevant queries. For marketers that have an Amazon support team, it would be worth reaching out to a representative for assistance as they can help put the expansion list together.

Outline desired account structure

Amazon does not have ad groups so it’s very easy to accumulate a large number of campaigns, making it a challenge to optimize.

Determine campaign naming convention

Choosing a uniform campaign naming convention that can easily describe the keyword set is advantageous for reporting and optimization purposes. It’s important to note that a campaign’s name cannot be changed after it is launched. It is not recommended to use the default Amazon campaign name.

Determine Headline landing pages

Through Headline Campaigns, marketers have the choice to drive users to the brand page or a custom landing page. The two serve different purposes:

  • Brand page: Provides the user with the full selection of the brand’s product offering and allows the brand to customize widgets by product lines. This allows for an immersive brand experience for the user.
  • Custom landing page: Delivers a customized user experience based on the campaign’s objectives. These landing pages showcase a select listing of products rather than the whole product portfolio. This methodology could be useful when measuring performance following a product launch – particularly when the advertiser is only interested in knowing how a specific keyword set performed against certain products.

(4) Compare Results

The campaigns have launched and there is a couple of weeks’ worth of performance. Now it’s time to analyze results.

Pre and post-restructure

Amazon’s user interface does not have custom time frames which poses a challenge to toggle through data. The campaign reports provide campaign-to-date data on all campaigns launched for the account. Pull the reports and create a pivot table to facilitate the filtering of data. Keep in mind, Amazon has an attribution data lag so the results may not populate in real-time.

Allow the campaigns time to gain traction

Allow your campaigns to gain traction for several days before making significant optimizations. The attribution lag causes a delay in the reported data. Marketers should be aware of severe red flags before the low performance takes an enormous hit on the overall results.

Optimize accordingly

Establish optimization guidelines and a cadence to monitor keyword performance. Use the reporting features within each ad unit to help guide the bidding strategy. Never underestimate the power of optimizations!

To learn more about Amazon Marketing Services, contact Performics today.

Why is copywriting good for business…?

Why is copywriting good for business…?

It is probably a truism to state that a significant percentage of companies cut corners when it comes to writing copy for their website and their other sales and marketing materials – e.g. company brochures, product leaflets and corporate presentations – not to mention their direct marketing and advertising campaigns. The reason why is obvious enough. Everyone can write, right? Then why spend extra money investing in someone else to do it for you? You can save all that time, money and effort by doing it all internally.

The trouble is, however, that although we can all write, we cannot all write well. Writing good copy is a skill. It requires an innate ability to step into the shoes of the reader in order to understand their emotional and rational drivers. It requires an appreciation of the psychological factors that underpin both explicit messages and implicit meaning to persuade a reader to believe in your brand. It requires an excellent command of the English language, so that sentences are written and structured in such a way as to make it easy for the reader to understand the context of what is being said. It demands an absolute understanding of how business works in general, the ability to learn quickly about a particular organisation and the products and services that it sells, and an in-depth familiarity with both the sales and the marketing functions.

Another important consideration to bear in mind is corporate branding. Now, you might think that your logo is your brand, but that’s like saying your skin is your body. It’s not. It’s just the visual exterior for all the different elements that have to be put in place behind the scenes to create a specific personality and character for your business. Virgin is an excellent example of a company with a really strong brand proposition – one of the reasons behind this is the amount of effort they put into making sure they write in such a way as to consistently express core values associated with their brand, such as ‘providing heartfelt service’ and ‘being delightfully surprising, red hot and straight up’.

Thinking about the importance of good copy content from the point of view of digital marketing strategy, search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo are constantly tightening up their algorithms, shifting the focus onto the provision of high quality readable content relevant for specific keywords – it is now a double-edged attempt to find the right balance between robot and person, and this is a real skill in terms of search engine optimisation (SEO). If appearing in natural search results is one of the core aims of your digital marketing strategy (and it probably should be for most organisations), this means that the quality of your copywriting will make or break the efficacy of your efforts.

How do I make my copy stand out from the crowd?

Good copy is engaging to the target audience. It’s as simple as that. Therefore, consideration must always be given to demographics to make sure that the tone of voice you adopt is appropriate to your customers’ profiles. Do you know who you are selling to? Many larger companies invest a great deal of time and effort in defining their customer segments, and there is no reason why the same approach should not be taken by every business, regardless of its size.

Good copy reflects the brand proposition. In an ideal world, content should always be consistent in the way that it is written, and this consistency should apply across all sales and marketing materials, and all advertising and direct marketing campaigns too. One should have the sense that one is reading different chapters from the same book. Therefore, it stands to reason that one should have clear guidelines in place that define a framework within which all copy is written. This does not mean that the same copywriter should be employed to write all your materials – but it does make sense for the same team to be involved, if at all possible. The end result will warrant it.

More than anything, good copy is an art form. Some people can play a musical instrument or paint technically well, but that does not mean that they have the natural flair to do so, nor a passion that comes straight from the heart. Good copy is highly readable, and creating it is the fundamental aim of a good copywriter. There are also tools you can use to measure the quality of the ‘ease of readability’ of your copy content, such as the Flesch-Kincaid test, but these add little value in most instances to the process, in our opinion.

How should I brief a copywriter?

A good brief really can make the difference between the success and failure of your copywriting project. Begin by introducing your organisation. Add a description of your products and services and give your copywriter plenty of literature to read. Invite them in to your office so that they get a feel for the atmosphere, and make time for them to chat with the key people. Share your business plan with them too – once they’ve signed an NDA, of course. Tell them about your customers, give them a copy of your brand guidelines, and explain the features and benefits you wish them to talk about. Outline any company USPs and core propositions you might have.

Provide them with a list of relevant competitors too. One of the best ways to pick up good copywriting ideas is to check out the competition by reviewing their websites. This will enable you to better understand how they market themselves, and their products and services, to potential customers. You can also conduct a technical audit to identify their primary keywords, which you can then use to populate your content, where it is appropriate to do so.

There are lots of other things to consider too, of course. Outline what needs to be produced. Agree word counts to aim for, and establish a timing plan and deadlines.
Finally, you should always agree on an appropriate call-to-action.

What makes a good copywriter?

One of the primary qualities to look for in a copywriter is their ability to quickly become an expert in what you do as a business. Much like a journalist, this entails research, planning and interviewing skills. A good copywriter is an innately curious and passionate creative, who likes to ask lots of awkward questions with gusto and enthusiasm. As previously mentioned, a good copywriter also has to be a sales and marketing professional. Finally, a good copywriter should be passionate about your brand – and knowledgeable about all the facets that make up a brand – its values, vision, views and virtues.

The best writers will question and challenge your brief in a direct but tactful way. If a copywriter doesn’t do so, this may be a sign that you have engaged a ‘yes’ man. This might be good for your ego, but it probably won’t be good for your business…

Next steps

We hope that you have find this article helpful in opening your eyes to the benefits of investing in good copywriting. Hiring a specialist copywriter to write for your business is likely to give you an edge in a more and more content-focused digital marketing environment. However, it is tricky to do so – we urge you to use a series of tests before you make a final decision. If you would like to find out more about any aspect of copywriting, please email Stephen Brown, our head of strategy, at stephen@abacusmarketing.co.uk, and he will be delighted to assist you.

[INFOGRAPHIC] A Closer Look At Eye Tracking

By Kristen Montana

The process of eye tracking is undoubtedly complex, but the concept itself is fairly simple: movements of the eyes and their measurements are used to infer various analyses.

Eye trackers can either be remote (screen-based or on a desk top) or mobile (head-mounted).

If you’re wondering how it actually works, near-infrared light is directed toward the pupil and this causes visible reflections in the cornea which a high resolution camera is able to pick up on.

Confused? Don’t be. Leave the tech to the tech people.


WHY SHOULD MARKETERS CARE?

The data that eye tracking provides can reveal insights such as:

  • Why do some products engage would-be customers more than others?
  • Will a product gain attention and then traction when placed in the market?
  • What features consistently engage potential customers?

UX designers in marketing can benefit too. With biometric sensors, data can also measure emotional and cognitive responses, which can drastically improve the user experience. Marketing, among a multitude of other fields, can learn a lot from eye tracking, a continually evolving industry.

Scroll down to learn more about eye tracking with an infographic provided by iMotions, a biometric research platform that simplifies human behavior research through smarter software.


iMotions eye tracking infographic


Since 2005, iMotions has developed a software platform that lets researchers integrate best-in-class biosensors, eye tracking, facial expression analysis, EEG, GSR, EMG, ECG and Surveys in one unified software platform. To learn more about eye tracking, download their 26-page guide right now, free of charge.

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