“Finish that RFP, email the client about costs, schedule the photo shoot, review scope changes, did I buy my brother’s birthday present? – wait, now I need to reschedule the photo shoot.”

Do you feel like your mind is constantly full of lists? In brand management, we’re always multitasking, going from one thing to the next, and generally running full speed ahead at all times. Sometimes it would be helpful if we could just pause, be present in the current moment, and consciously choose how we’d like to move forward. This is where the idea of “mindfulness” comes into play.

I know what you’re probably thinking: This is just a fluffy Millennial idea about how we should have peaceful, relaxing workspaces. Well, it’s way more powerful than that. It’s an idea that some people have centered their entire lives around.

Mindful magazine (yes, that’s a real magazine) defines mindfulness this way: “The basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.” More simply put, it’s the act of being aware of oneself, in the present. This means different things to different people, so try to think of mindfulness in the form of meditation, breathing exercises or controlled breathing, and even some yoga postures.

In a 2017 study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, of more than 85,000 adults, yoga practice among U.S. workers nearly doubled from 2002 to 2012. Meditation rates also increased, from 8 percent to almost 10 percent. There was also evidence demonstrating the benefits of mindfulness practices among workers related to both physical symptoms and mental well-being.

Studies are finding that mindfulness has tangible benefits in the workplace. Here are some of the most common:

Reduces stress and anxiety
Improves the ability to focus
Cultivates emotional intelligence
Helps you become less REactive and more PROactive
Increases self-confidence
Improves creativity

These are benefits we’d all enjoy, but it may seem like a lofty goal to practice mindfulness enough to make an impact. Here are some ways you can start practicing mindfulness at work (or at home):

Stop (or minimize) multitasking – Try to maintain focus on a single task, and then notice when your mind drifts off to something else. When this happens, mentally shut down all the unrelated thoughts entering your mind and stay focused on what you were doing.

Turn off all notifications – Turn off notifications and check email only when you’re intentionally breaking your focus from a current project. Same goes for calendar invites.

Breathe – It sounds too simple, but if you get an infuriating email or are rushing from meeting to meeting, take a few seconds to breathe. Just a short period of time practicing controlled or focused breathing can put you in the right frame of mind before going back to your work.

Practice daily – Committing to some amount of training every day is the key to progress and success. This can be counting to ten, sitting in a dark room, or doing guided meditation. Try to allot at least ten minutes a day – pick a location and time of day, and stick to it.

Take classes – Attend guided meditation or yoga classes, or sign up for a program like mindfulness-based stress reduction or Transcendental Meditation.

Download an app or two – They give you access to different types of meditation practices, let you set goals and reminders, and track your progress.

I hope this post has left you feeling inspired, relaxed, and thinking about how you might try a few mindfulness practices on your own. Who wouldn’t want to be more relaxed, focused, and productive at work?

The post Mindfulness appeared first on The Richards Group.

5 Extremely Useful Digital Marketing Stats: April 2017

Trying to understand the importance of Connected TV advertising for a digital ad strategy can be a challenge because the technology is complex and varied.

That’s why this month we’re honing in on exactly what Connected TV is and why it matters for brands – supported by five extremely useful digital marketing stats.

To start, let’s review a few abbreviated definitions from the IAB:

Addressable TV: Technology that lets you show different ads to different audience segments watching the same TV program based on the desired targeting data parameters.

Advanced TV: Any television content that has evolved beyond traditional, linear television delivery models – including Interactive, Connected, and Smart TV. (e.g. Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, YouTube)

Connected TV (CTV): A television connected to the Internet via an additional device or with built-in capabilities that can access a variety of web-based content.

Over the Top (OTT) Device: Technology connected to or within a TV that enables the delivery of Internet-based video content (i.e., streaming boxes, media streaming devices, Smart TV’s and gaming consoles).

Smart TV: A type of Connected TV that often includes a computing component.

Got all that? Let’s dive in!


Connected TV (CTV) viewing overall jumped 65 percent over the past year and now accounts for 8.1 percent of total TV viewing for adults (18-49) in the U.S. (Pivotal Research)

Why does this matter?

Traditional TV viewing behavior is changing. People are not only jumping to new devices, but they are spending less time with traditional television year over year. However, Pivotal found overall TV use rose 2.6 percent in households with Connected TVs.

While cord-cutting is expected to increase by 23 percent in the next year, it does not mean advertisers are losing their options to connect with TV viewers. They just need to take into consideration the different way consumers are watching television.

Just like with the advent of mobile, the growth of CTV is a call to action for marketers to start thinking differently about what good TV ads look like, what type of messages they build, and where and how their content is delivered.


Average playtime minutes (length of a viewing session) for the connected TV are 40 percent more than the tablet, and double that for the PC and smartphone. (Conviva/nScreenMedia)

Why does this matter?

Not only are CTV owners a growing population that is watching more television, but they’re watching television for longer periods of time. That is, they’re more engaged than video viewers on other devices.

As Conviva says, this finding should not minimize the importance of mobile devices as a video platform. However, advertisers should not ignore the value of CTV audiences if they are going to spend money on video advertising.


At 95 percent, Connected TV ads resulted in the highest completion rates compared to ads on mobile and desktop devices. (SpotX)

Why does this matter?

In short, Connected TV ads work because consumers still trust ads they see on TV – at least more than those they encounter on mobile and desktop devices.

There are plenty of reasons for this – the quality of the ads, the quality of the advertisers, and just the fact that TV has been around longer than digital advertising. In fact, 80 percent of consumers will trust the information they receive via a TV spot.

Advanced TV advertising of any kind – served via CTVs or other devices – piggybacks on this long-established trustworthiness. And, according to Brightline IQ, Advanced TV commands a 2.5 percent click-through rate, as compared to desktop rich media at 0.10 percent and traditional instream video at 0.46 percent. This includes CTV advertising.


The top three attributes consumers use to describe Connected TVs were Useful (41 percent), Convenient (38 percent) and Innovative (36 percent). (IAB)

Why does this matter?

If consumers use their CTVs because they give them more choice, advertisers must align their ad experiences to new device expectations. They cannot stick with an interruptive model that does not enrich the consumer.

Per the same IAB study, more than half of consumers (55 percent) are willing to receive ads on their connected devices in exchange for coupons/discounts, extra features, or access to exclusive games. These are all perfect examples of “enriching” content that reward or inform, rather than disrupt.

For example, Office Depot recently ran Connected TV ads that integrated price and item content into the side banner of a standard broadcast ad unit. This interactive feature for CTV users allowed consumers to browse what was on sale in their area at the same time as they watched a commercial about back-to-school shopping.


Marketing professionals rate their ability to measure the impact of regular TV at 2.68 and digital advertising at a 4 on a sale of 1-5, with 1 being “not able to measure at all” and 5 being “able to measure completely.” (emarketer)

Why does this matter?

Marketers know digital works, but they are hesitating to act on the reach, scalability, and cost-effective nature of connected TV advertising. It’s true that there are still some gray areas that, but they are not insurmountable or anything new to seasoned marketers.

Jonathan Bokor, SVP and Director of Advanced Media and Mediavest/Spark, told eMarketer that in addition to completion rate, marketers need to do brand lift studies that can tell them about “recall, intent and favorability.”

Additionally, the positive impact of Connected TV ads has been measurable as far back as 2015 when an AOL study found ads served on Connected TVs drove two times the increase in purchase intent among the advertiser’s target audience.

Much more recently, Toyota saw success with Connected TV advertising in a summer event campaign. AdAge shared, “the campaign results showed that the ads drove 19 percent more Toyota dealership visits from those targeted compared with the control group.” Accomplishing both an awareness and sales goal, this campaign is a great example of how Connected TV can work for brands willing to dive in and integrate it into their digital strategy.

Did we miss anything? Let us know on social or in the comments below!

Wyevale launches new ‘Your Summer Garden’ campaign

To kick start Wyevale’s ‘Your Summer Garden’ campaign we created a mailer to actively encourage members of The Garden Club to get back into their garden and immerse themselves in the pleasures it gives them.

The pack highlights this year’s summer trends, showcases related products and uses targeted offers and personalised reward vouchers to drive garden centre visits and sales.

The post Wyevale launches new ‘Your Summer Garden’ campaign appeared first on WDMP – an award wining, independent, modern CRM agency based in London.

Lenders: Use The Buyer’s Journey to Deliver Valuable Content

finance buyer's journey


Synchrony Financial understands that those big buys in life often don’t happen on a whim. Behind every major purchase are real people weighing up their options and deciding to part with their dollars to fulfill different needs based on their individual situations. For lenders, it’s important to understand this buyer’s journey so you can better guide potential customers down the path to purchase (using your dollars).

Synchrony has done an excellent job outlining this journey in their Fifth Annual Major Purchase Consumer Study. The study looks holistically at the journey customers take when deciding on purchases of $500 or more—looking far beyond the financing portion. It outlines important statistics like the fact that 85% of buyers start their research online, 70% of people visit a store to research, 56% consult with friends, 38% check out online reviews, and 28% return to the store for more research.

All of this happens BEFORE the customer researches financing options. In addition, more people are making online purchases (18%, up from 13% in 2015) versus visiting a store to purchase.

Synchrony Bank buyer's journey


Combine the Buyer’s Journey with Context

This is some great information about how these consumers shop. But what should lenders do with this information? Lenders have the opportunity (and imperative) to get on consumers’ radars sooner and provide content that matches up with their particular position in the buyer’s journey and delivers value. This will help to begin building trust between the buyer and the lender’s brand, and buyers reward companies that build trust with them.

To deliver valuable content to these potential customers, you must add real-time knowledge of the buyer’s situation to your knowledge of the buyer’s journey. You must understand the situation and context for why your customers will purchase your products if you want to create content that motivates them to act. Applying for a loan or line of credit is rarely a standalone job—it is one small job that plays a role in a much larger goal, such as buying a home, getting engaged, or repairing unexpected damage to your car. Understanding these specific situations allows you to create relevant content and deliver it to your buyer when and where it will be most useful to her.

What Relevant, In-the-Moment Content Looks Like

A young couple in a new home may not be aware that they can finance that bathroom remodel to get rid of the pastel pink tile. Lenders should consider how to reach these price-conscious shoppers earlier in their journey, rather than waiting until just before the purchase. This could include finding consumers in your target market that have recently purchased a home and are googling for things like “cost of bathroom remodel” or pinning numerous photos of bathroom ideas on Pinterest. These individuals are probably gathering information in the early stages of their journey. You could serve them some display ads about how to afford your new bathroom.

Lending companies could also consider mining social media data to find those buyers that are talking about economic bathroom remodels or finding reasonably-priced contractors. These individuals are probably a bit further along in their journey, evaluating their options. With this information, you could provide content right there on Facebook or Twitter about how to afford your new bathroom or questions to ask when selecting a contractor. Perhaps you’re a local lender that could even make specific contractor recommendations. Of course, you need the right data and technology ecosystem to deliver this highly contextual content.

Whatever the tactic is, the key is to combine what you know about the buyer’s situation with her spot in the buyer’s journey to contextualize the content and provide real value—in the moments that it is most useful to the buyer.

Applying for financing or making a major purchase doesn’t tend to happen in vain. As the Synchrony study shows, this is typically a well-researched and extensively thought-out decision, so when engaging major buyers, it’s important to think about the entire buyer’s journey – not just the purchase. The fact that people like to self-educate through the decision-making process gives you more opportunities to provide them with content that adds value, helping them to learn and build trust.

You may also want to check out my post on how MetLife is adding value throughout the buyer’s journey. In addition, Harte Hanks CMO Frank Grillo has written a great piece on how to capture more buyers earlier in their journey. Please get in touch if you have any questions!

Our work: MOR photoshoot

When it comes to showing off a new food product, great photography makes stomachs growl – so as part of our website, social media, and PR work for MOR, we needed mouthwatering shots that’d send customers running for the nearest Tesco.

Bangers & Mash Beetroot Retouched_1

MOR’s sausages have wonderful, versatile flavours that are great for cooking, so we wanted to show them in their element. We got chef Tom Cockerill on board to create eight original recipes, two for each sausage flavour, which we prepared, styled, and shot.

BBQ Moroccan Retouched_1

Stir Fry Super Green prep_Retouched_1

Visually, we took inspiration from chefs like Jamie Oliver and Tom Kerridge, as well as from the lush imagery found in the publications like The Guardian and Waitrose Food. 

Spot our photography on the MOR website and on the brand’s Facebook and Instagram.

The post Our work: MOR photoshoot appeared first on we think.

Why Running For Office Could Be The Career Booster Millennials Need

Before the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, most American millennials weren’t interested in running for public office.

Rutgers University assistant professor of political science Shauna Shames conducted research about millennials’ disinterest in running for public office in 2014, and found that while they had a wide range of reasons, from the time it would take away from their career to the intense media scrutiny many candidates endure, the vast majority didn’t want to enter politics.

Similarly, while doing research for their book, Running from Office: Why Young Americans Are Turned Off from Politics, authors Jennifer Lawless and Richard Fox found that 89% of millennials never wanted their name on a ballot.

But since Donald Trump was elected president, Shames says there has been a sea change in millennials’ attitudes about running for office. The group Run for Something was launched in January 2017 to encourage young people to run. The organization signed up more than 8,000 members who are interested in launching campaigns.

Suddenly, millennials are looking past the significant financial, time, and other investments. Shames, the author of Out of the Running: Why Millennials Reject Political Careers and Why it Matters, says some are concerned that running for and holding office could take away time from their career development. In addition, they’re overcoming what Shames calls the “ick factor”—heavy scrutiny, opposition research, and possible smear campaigns—to make a difference.

But for those who do see through their goals and run for office, they’re getting a master class in how to be a better business leader, says Linda Goldstein, president of Linda Goldstein Consulting, LLC. She was the first woman mayor of Clayton, Missouri, and held the office for 14 years, working in commercial construction before she dipped her toe into politics. She says the education she got in defining a campaign strategy, communicating with various audiences quickly, and fending off competitors was similar to business demands, but often in a more intensive and fast-paced way. Running for office can build a number of important skills that will make you a better business leader.

Sell Yourself

Whether you’re trying to win a political office or a promotion, you’ve got to convince people to invest something in you. You may be asking for their vote or donation during a campaign. You need those same skills to convince a supervisor that you’re ready for a bigger role or to land a power mentor who can help your career.

“Politics is really a popularity contest,” says Amanda Litman, founder of Run for Something. “Being able to convince people to like you, to then trust you, to have credibility with them, will help you get things done for the voters and for your constituents.”

Recognize The Value Prop

As a candidate, you’ve got to discuss the value of what you want to do—the “what’s in it for me” factor that your constituents want to know. It’s the same way you would sell a big project or proposal, Shames says. “To be forced to think about the strategy of appealing to people and their incentive and their motivations, all of that is really similar [to the business world]. The more that you are forced to do that, the better for young people, especially,” she says.

Speak Up

When you enter the political arena, there are people who are going to immediately dislike you, says Andrew Shecktor, a longtime politician who is running for one of Pennsylvania’s Senate seats in 2018. For people who may not have thick skin, this can be particularly distressing.

Shecktor says that dynamic has helped him speak his mind more boldly since he doesn’t have to worry about pleasing everyone. “You’re never gonna please everybody,” he says.

Motivate And Delegate

As a candidate, your time is one of your most precious resources—you simply can’t do everything yourself, says Litman. That means you need to convince people to do things for you, often on a volunteer basis. Then, you need to delegate tasks to them and trust them to get the job done, she says. Delegation is tough for many people who get nervous about handing off responsibility. In a campaign, you have no choice. It teaches you to become a pro at motivating people to do things for you.

Open New Opportunities

While Goldstein was meticulous in not mixing her business with her office while she held it, the skill set she gained ultimately paid off in other ways. Because she knows about the inner workings of local government, she launched a consulting firm that helps businesses and government offices run more effectively. It also let her stay connected to the local government about which she feels so passionately.

“You can make a real difference in local government,” she says.

The Rise of the (Marketing) Machines—How to Tame Them

It’s no secret that technology has changed the game when it comes to marketing. We all know the customer is now in charge of the journey. Add to this an explosion in engagement channels and content, and marketers find themselves awash in a sea of priorities.

The typical way that we marketers have chosen to deal with this chaotic situation is to buy software platforms to automate large portions of the operational responsibilities and instead focus on content production and metrics management. But what has been lost in this drive towards efficiency is how it affects the consumer—and the damage it can cause to the relationship between a brand and its customers.

To manage this “man in the middle” position, our tend to focus on building an ecosystem of tools that provides customer engagement metrics that we can use to demonstrate return on investment to our C-suite. The issue with this approach is that, while it may create short-term relief, it becomes less effective over time as response rates erode or competitors begin to adapt to our communications strategies.

Embrace A More Human Approach to Technology

Instead of looking at our technology investment operationally, I would like to propose a more customer-centric lens by which to view our platforms and technology ecosystem: we should be focused on the capabilities that are necessary to service consumers in the same way we would if we had the opportunity to meet them face-to-face.

Harte Hanks CMO Frank Grillo firmly believes that our job as marketers is to “bring the human back to marketing” by reacting to the digital cues that consumers are leaving behind in their interactions with our brands. When we do this effectively, we can create a digital experience and overall journey that feels more personal and more human—like it did when marketing consisted of people sitting across from each other, interacting and building a relationship.

This Requires Knowledge of Strategy and Technology

As the Innovation Lead for marketing technology (martech) within Harte Hanks, it falls on my plate to get our existing technology investments aligned with Frank’s vision of more human marketing and fill in critical gaps. The role requires both an understanding of marketing strategy and technical acumen.

This evolving role is becoming critical in all marketing organizations as the lines of who is responsible for technology spending are blurred. Gartner has forecast that 2017 is the year when CMOs will spend more on technology than their CIO counterparts. This presents a challenge because marketing leaders have traditionally come from advertising or product management backgrounds rather than development roles. This leaves them ill-prepared to be able to separate the aspirational messages vendors try to sell them on from the realities of managing a collection of technical tools they need to bring together to achieve a cohesive mission.

Technology vendors haven’t helped the situation. They have mostly built their platforms around central core functions (like Eloqua and Marketo focus on email). The problem is that consumers interact with brands in a much more organic manner and can’t be counted on to behave the way these tool vendors would like them to. While the tools themselves may be operationally efficient, they rarely are architected to handle the consumers hopping across channels and devices, trying to obscure themselves as they complete their initial research, etc.

For example, when I am researching a product or service, I often want my initial interactions with a brand to be anonymous. When I get to a gated piece of content, I often give up and leave the page or enter bogus contact information so that I don’t end up with a deluge of calls and emails from sales. When I do offer up my accurate contact information, I expect it to be used to improve my experience. I do not expect to come back to the site for more content, only to have to fill out the same form again. What marketers often don’t realize is that by disrupting my journey with unwanted forms, misuse of my data, etc., they actually have to work harder to regain my attention later—if they can at all. Technology should be aligned to facilitate a smooth journey across channels and devices, which can’t be done in functional silos.

Your Customer Should Drive Your Martech Strategy

What does this mean to me as I develop Harte Hanks’ technology stack? It means that I constantly must put myself in your shoes (you are, after all, my prospect or client!). I must ask myself if the experience we have put in place is the engagement you expect. If the answer is no, it’s time to ask if we have the all right technology pieces in place—we might have a gap in capabilities that needs filling. It may also be that we have the right capabilities, but haven’t evolved the ecosystem as whole to work to your benefit. At the end of the day, that decision-making process begins by giving you, the prospect or client, a seat at the table in designing the ecosystem.

Use Machines to Make Marketing Human Again

Machines have made us lazy. It has become so easy to reach mass audiences of consumers with digital tools like email, search and display ads that we have become de-sensitized to the impact our never-ending quest for metrics improvement has had on our relationship with consumers.

But machines also have the power to make us human again. It’s our job to bring the human back to marketing—and technology plays a leading role in achieving this vision. To create a martech ecosystem that enables human marketing at scale, companies need to find those few key people that can see the big picture while also understanding the technology. If you don’t have someone in house who can fill that role, look for a partner that can bring that skill set to the table.

The machines have risen, but with the right mindset and team members, it is possible to tame them. It is possible to evolve your technology ecosystem into something you are proud to talk about—rather than something that causes frustration every month when you get the bill.

Southwest Airlines Debuts New “Wanna Get Away” Moment

Southwest Airlines just released its latest Wanna Get Away spot, “Noblest Lady,” which once again has consumers cringing. The spot starts with a handsome nobleman walking into a ball and spotting a beautiful woman sitting on the other side of the room. Everyone’s watching the handsome nobleman, wondering where he’ll go next. He approaches the beautiful blonde woman from behind and taps her on the shoulder. The beautiful blond turns around—the woman is actually an Afghan Hound. Wanna Get Away? Oh yes we do.

McDonald’s Promotes ‘More Ways to Win’ with Dynamic DOOH

McDonald’s launched a nationwide Digital OOH campaign to support its much loved McDonald’s Monopoly game which gives consumers the opportunity to win millions of prizes.

The extensive DOOH campaign ran on digital 6-sheets across roadside, the underground, shopping malls, and city centre locations across the UK. Produced by Grand Visual, the dynamic DOOH campaign, which provides real-time updates on the number of prizes collected alongside geo-targeted calls to action such as “Birmingham could you be lucky?”. The campaign was delivered through OpenLoop to JCDecaux, Clear Channel & Signature Outdoor Networks.

The DOOH campaign forms part of a wider multi-media activity comprising of TV, press, radio, and in-store activity. It was created by Leo Burnett and produced by Grand Visual with planning and buying through OMD UK and Talon.

The post McDonald’s Promotes ‘More Ways to Win’ with Dynamic DOOH appeared first on Grand Visual Creative.