Bits & Pieces?
I’ve been lucky enough to be asked to talk to college students about advertising. It’s awesomely rewarding and great to see fresh faces who, while I’m talking, realize A) that advertising is their calling, or B) That advertising is something they don’t want to be within 2 feet of, or C) I’m crazy.
One of the things I pull from for inspiration and something I use in my presentation is pages from a book by Paul Arden called “It’s Not How Good You Are. It’s How Good You Want To Be.”
It is, in my opinion, the best book about advertising ever written (feel free to share your opinion in the comments).
One of the spreads in the book, pictured above, implores the reader to “get out of advertising.” This really hit home for me because in my early days of advertising we used to surround ourselves with One Show books and Communication Arts annuals and Archive Magazines, etc. looking at ads like fanatics. There is great learning there. But thanks to digital, the advertising landscape is much more complicated. And there is so much more in to learn from the world around us.
To come up with great ideas you must branch out. You must suck up every piece of pop culture that appeals to you. Build a library in your brain of words, images, movie sequences, pop songs, photos, ephemera, and stuff that sits at the top of garbage cans. You never know.
It also has a lot to do with blogging too, which is my real reason for bringing this up. I routinely see blank faces when the prospect of blogging even enters their sphere. “What should I write about?” they ask. “I don’t know what to write about.”
I ask those that don’t know what to write about to channel Paul Arden and look around. There are topics under your nose every minute of every day. It could come out of a conversation you had. A movie you saw. A song you heard. Find a way to apply those things to the main topic of your blog. Don’t worry about eloquence, just focus on being clear. And remember, for inspiration, whenever possible, get out of advertising.
A new Yahoo! research report titled “Who says what to whom on Twitter” claims that only 0.05% of Twitter users attract attention. The study was picked up by Mashable and everyone and his/her grandma started to discuss the value of Twitter and its potential as a social media marketing tool. Some discussions even occurred offline. Imagine that!
Everyone who knows me, not even well, knows how much I love the Twitter. It’s a human Google Reader on steroids. It’s entertaining. Hello @CharlieSheen! And it’s the easiest way to learn from and meet really smart people, that’s how I met Sue Spaight. Ohh, and did I mention you can get free stuff? Ask Nick Pipitone about that.
You can read this Facebook vs. Twitter post that Sue and I wrote a few months ago. I can tell you about some organizations that have used Twitter in successful and interesting ways. I can introduce you to @NORDSTROMdave (read about how he uses Twitter here) and @BronxZoosCobra. But the issue isn’t about who is on Twitter. The issue is how we use it.
Twitter is participant medium and participant media are notorious for participation inequality, a term defined by Steve Whittaker, Loren Terveen, Will Hill, and Lynn Cherny in “The dynamics of mass interaction” (1998). The term describes the lack of active participation among most users. In 2006 Jacob Nielsen took the theory further and defined the 1:9:90 ratio (creators: editors: audience). However, a more elaborate model has existed for over 15 years, according to Thomas Hoegh, founder and CEO of Art Alliance (see image). The visual speaks for itself and I will not even attempt to explain it.
Still surprised by the statistics from the study? Why did we even expect anything different?
Let’s quit panicking that Twitter might not be the best tool for social media marketing and redefine what “active user” means because even the consuming audience can be very active in consuming. Remember Forrester’s Social Technographics?
Plus, the fewer the creators and conversationalists, the greater the opportunity for brands to receive more attention online. They/we just need to provide value (e.i. content, utility and entertainment) and build relationships. Shouldn’t be that hard.
Dear Photo Showdown Fans,
We have been thinking about what to do with our winning photos, so if you are new to our standard Monday routine you can catch-up somehow. I have been unsuccessful convincing either of the “Stevens” to print each winning photo out to be immaculately framed and then placed in front of a live feed webcam. Maybe that isn’t very practical, but we can all dream, right? It seems that the next best thing was to create a Flickr set to showcase not only the winning photos, but also all the other great submissions. Until I figure out the live feed situation and budget, this will have to do.
Photo Showdown X’s theme was Luck. The photographers were Dave Hoffman (representing Sue’s PS IX win), Nick Pipitone, Ben Halpin, and Jen Kuhn. And, here is how the story unfolded:
1. Dave Hoffman – C. Luck of the Dice, 50.6%
2. Nick Pipitone – B. Lady Luck, 25.3%
3. Ben Halpin – D. Lucky Shot, 14.46%
4. Jen Kuhn – A. Can I Keep Him?, 9.64%
In Dave’s very first appearance he managed to rake in more than 50% of the votes! I’ve been consoling Nick, but I’m sure your comments and kind words would also help in the healing process. Congratulations goes out to Dave, his win was quite incredible. What’s even more incredible is next week Dave will be moving on, but facing the former crown holder Sue Spaight, as well as Danielle Fritz, and myself. Next week our theme will be Reflections, and the only thing I can promise is a fierce and exciting battle.
Thanks for voting. See you next week.
When I read Sue Spaight’s post from SxSW – Agencies need to think and act more like software companies, my interest was piqued with the mention of agile development. I’m sure there are many ways that agencies could benefit from adopting some practices of leading product/software development companies, but as an interactive project manager, I am particularly interested in this one way. I began to wonder: What are the specifics of agile development and what makes it unique? Do I agree that an integrated marketing agency would be better off if we embraced agile for our web and mobile development projects? How would we apply it if we wanted to?
I am in no way an expert in agile project management or product development. I can admit to knowing of it, but I’ve had no training in it. What I learned about agile in preparation for this post is that I have a lot more to learn! I also learned that we’re not going to just say “let’s do agile” for that project that’s kicking off tomorrow. I’m just going to go ahead and declare a series right now – including perhaps a book review or two.
But I do feel confident enough to introduce the basics and to start to build a case (in one way or another) around whether this development method – created to transform software development – would enhance the way an agency brings digital marketing initiatives to life.
First of all, agile is not a single thing, but rather a set of beliefs. There are a variety of different disciplines under the agile umbrella – Extreme Programming, Adaptive Software Development, Feature-Driven Development and Scrum are a few examples.
While the concepts had been brewing since the late 1950s and evolved through the 1990s, agile was officially established in 2001 when a group of software developers drafted the Agile Manifesto. Yes, a manifesto. I love that. I do really think this makes it a good fit for agencies already. Agencies love manifestos – especially when they are short, smart and just a tad condescending (reow!) Here it is:
We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it.
Through this work we have come to value:
Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan
That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.
The last sentence of the Manifesto is really key and should not be overlooked. agile is often seen as a competitor to traditional/waterfall development approaches – and it is! (You would use one vs. the other.) But when it comes to a disciplined approach to deliver a project (or product) on time and on budget, they are family and the blood runs thick.
In a nutshell, waterfall management involves a sequential path of phases led by a planning and requirements-gathering phase that carries significant weight. Since I love an analogy, I’ll say that this method is like attempting to pack every possible item of clothing into the suitcase for a big vacation. You don’t want to leave anything behind and you want to be prepared when you get there – because it’s hard to come back home to retrieve a missing item and you don’t want to buy it at your destination because it will be too expensive. So you do your best to lay everything out on your bed, create outfits, make lists, buy new resort wear, negotiate between shoes, roll the items to reduce bulk, etc.
(Back to our real projects) We do our best to define and predict everything up front with the ever-elusive promise that the better we do this, the more successful our projects will be. And then, when our projects (or development cycle) goes haywire again(ugh, I didn’t know I’d need my earmuffs in Florida, damn this cold snap) we blame ourselves for bad planning or, often times, the CLIENT for changing requirements. This can cause stress and, frankly, sadness. The more predictable the circumstances are and the fewer the unknown risks; the more chance waterfall development has for success.
Contrary to traditional (which values “knowns”), I believe it is accurate to say that agile values “unknowns” – when executed effectively, it is change tolerant. It allows the recognition that the project itself exists within an emergent environment. While the project is in motion, the rest of the world doesn’t stop – technology is changing, consumers are changing.
Back to packing for the vacation, agile is like saying, “let’s just take a carry-on and see if that will be enough.” But we aren’t careless about it – it certainly requires prioritization. I’ll get more value from these sandals than these boots. I’ll get morevalue from this swim suit than this box of Triscuits. And I absolutely can’t gowithout my ID – so I’ll make sure that gets in the bag first. Got it? This method of packing gets you to your destination quicker, but it might be an unacceptable vacation due to the things you left behind (Bummer! No sunscreen, can’t go to the beach!) But since you got there quicker, you still have time to go back home, pick up the things you need and return. In fact, since you’ve been to the destination once before you also have the opportunity to alter the destination altogether – equipped with your more-informed baggage.
In similar fashion, the agile team would get together and prioritize a list the known requirements. They would then take a chunk off the top of that list and complete a full development cycle (1-4 weeks) to deliver a functioning product that meets the highest priority needs. It is then determined whether this can be reviewed by the client, put into live testing or even released as a finished product. If it is not released, they return to the list (which can be changed and re-prioritized) and repeat the process until they have a functioning product that is ready to bring appreciative value to the client and the market.
So, in consideration of the presentation at SxSW – with rapidly changing technology platforms, desire to innovate, pressure to create a user experience that has never been built before. There does seem to be validity to a claim that a traditional development approach may weigh an agency down (not to mention the $50/checked bag fee).
It definitely inspires me to learn more. I have a lot of questions still regarding actual application. How do we estimate within agile? How much impact would our clients feel? How would our organizational structure need to change (if at all) in order to facilitate an agile work flow? Who in our industry is doing this well?
I’ll attempt to answer some of these questions for myself and for you in my next post. If you have answers, or feedback, or thoughts, let’s hear them. In the meantime, it’s back to this requirements doc – I just need to make sure it’s perfect before…
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