What is the value of companies promoting Flow State?

What is the value of companies promoting Flow State? - Main Image
title overlaying an image of a neon sign of a brain inside an outline of a body.

With many companies adjusting to being back in the office or a hybrid work model, employees are having to change their Flow State. What is a Flow State? (Sometimes just called Flow.) Flow is simply that state of mind in which we feel and perform our best and feel at ease. We all have systems or processes that make it naturally easier for us to access Flow. We can, however, also we can take steps that can allow us to access it.

Switching up work environments over the past year and a half has facilitated many employees having to adjust how the access their Flow State. What is the value of companies promoting Flow State? How has the changing work model impacted Flow? And how can you access your Flow State and increase productivity?

What is Flow?

Your Flow State is what is happening mentally when you are “in the zone.” It’s being fully engaged in a task. Flow was first identified and popularized by psychology researcher, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, from Claremont Graduate University in California. Everyone’s Flow State is different is directly connected to their effort and creativity. When you are in your Flow State, you brain is locked into process and knows exactly what it is going to do from one moment to the next.

What is the value of companies promoting Flow State?

Flow State sounds abstract and kind of like a fuzzy motivation tool. How can it actually benefit companies? The main way is that when employees are in their Flow State, they are doing their best work. Not only that, employees who work in a Flow State often gain greater satisfaction from their work and a that contributes to motivation and company loyalty. While working in a Flow State, employees have more concentrate and focus and therefore, less distractions. The clarity that comes form that leads to innovation. All of these things are qualities that make up exceptional employees.
Flow State can be broken by distraction. Employee distraction is also detrimental to companies. Microsoft’s 2020 WFH study found that before the pandemic, on average, workers felt like 52% of their day was wasted by distractions and unnecessary disturbances. A 2013 study found that employees who were frequently interrupted and dealt with a lot a distractions reported higher fatigue and burnout rates. Burnt out employees are more likely to make mistakes, call in sick, as well as look for new jobs. (As we’ve seen this year with The Great Resignation.)

WFH-Hyprid-InOffice-OfficeModels

How has the changing work model impacted Flow?

One of the main advantages to a hybrid work model or allowing employees to choose weather or not they WFH, is that help each employee work in an environment that best suits them. Some employees can tap into their Flow State best in a quiet, comfortable space; weather that be at home or in the office, free of home’s distractions such as children or pets. Others like the background noise of a coffee shop. Some enjoy the collaboration of working in the office and having coworkers around them.

This year has given a lot of people an opportunity to find which type of work environment actually works best for them. Of the over 1,200 employees and 133 executives surveyed in Microsoft’s WFH study at the end of last year, 55% said they would prefer to still work remotely at least 3 days a week. And before this past year, many of those people probably wouldn’t have been given the chance to know what work environment worked best for them.

And how can you access your Flow State and increase productivity?

Here are the 2 main steps needed to tap into your flow state. 

  1. First, you must observe yourself. For the next two weeks, observe yourself, notice what you’re doing, and look for the clues of flow: losing your sense of time or self, feeling that you’re acting with ease, gaining new insights, and having a positive feedback loop.  
  2. Then, when you are in a state of flow, broaden your awareness: Notice and remember the activities surrounding you. Recognize what you’re physically doing and think about what you’re doing mentally.  

What ways have you found to be effective in “getting in the zone” and accessing your Flow State?

 
 

What’s new in TV marketing?

What's new in TV marketing?

One thing that stays constant, even in the midst of challenging circumstances such as a pandemic, is that people consume media. We always seek out entertainment and information. Content consumption is at an all-time high and therefore, competition for viewer’s attention is as well. However, 84% of marketers say that it is getting harder to grab a consumer’s attention with television advertising alone. Most advertisers surveyed say that TV ads isn’t the first thing that they plan anymore, instead starting with digital and then working in TV. How can CTV and OTT change that?

CTV and OTT

Many marketers are using CTV (connected TV) or OTT (over-the-top) channels to target consumers using streaming services and connected TV devices such as Hulu and Roku. Advertises are embracing these platforms as more and more ad space becomes available. Spending for CTV advertising grew from $6.94 billion in 2019 to $8.88 billion in 2020, a 28% increase.

Advertiser spent an estimated $8.88 billion on CTV in 2020

What’s the difference between CTV and OTT? Connected TV are things like Apple TV and Amazon Firestick. It is marketing based on the devices used to connect users to TV without cable. Over the Top is advertising space found on streaming services, like hulu and Peacock. (Personally, it helps me to think of them like CTV is hardware and OTT is software.) Right now in the United States more people are reachable through CTV and OTT than with cable. Hulu alone made $3 billion in ad revenue last year!

Disadvantages?

What are some disadvantages? There is one main thing. CTV and OTT have lower engagement rates than people who come from digital advertising expect. Why? Well, theres no way to click or show engagement through your TV. For the consumer to follow through a call-to-action, they probably are going to use a different device. Cross device traffic is harder to push and harder to track.

With old school TV advertising, an ad’s effectiveness was tracked by seeing if sales went up in the area the ad played. Thats just not enough data now, especially if CTV/OTT is just a piece of a multichannel campaign. It’s important to be able to track every part of a campaign.

Tracking Options

Option 1: Use IPs. Most people make big purchases on their home wifi. Using retargeting and IP based cookies, it’s pretty simple to serve ads across devices.

Burger King gamified CTV ad.
Burger King’s

Option 2: Use, specific trackable call-to-actions. Building in gamification to CTV/OTT ads allows consumers to use their phones to follow the call-to-action. The QR-code Burger King ad is a fantastic example of this. In a CTV ad, Burger King challenged consumers to “catch” a moving QR code. If you caught the QR code, it took you to download their app and with the app download, they gave you a free Whopper. It was fun and engaging AND trackable.

Into the Future

Since CTV/OTT is a relatively new ad format, theres a lot new and exciting ways it can be used in the future!

  1. New ad formats.
    We will probably see more direct response ads like the Burger King one. As well as things like pause ads. Ads the are promoted when a users pauses the program. A great way some companies are starting to use this is thinking about why someone would need to pause the show. Are they hungry? How about an Uber Eats ads? Or do they need a bathroom break? Maybe a toilet paper ad?

    Another new ad format is contextual-in-show advertising. A billboard in the background of a show can be sold as ad space. It can be changed based on who is watching the show.
  2. Programmatic Linear TV is also starting to become more of an option. Although quite new, it’s becoming more possible to use Nielsen-based user-level data (age, demographic, income) or media-level targeting (show, part of day, network) to inform programmatic style ad spend for traditional linear TV. 20% of advertisers surveyed said that they planned to incorporate programmatic linear into their marketing plans this year, and another 20% said that while they aren’t incorporating it this year, they plan to in the near future.

How will TV advertising change in the future? It’s possible that as CTV and OTT take over the traditional TV space household level targeting such as IP address and Neilson style demographics will become the identification of choice for marketers looking to incorporate TV into their omnichannel campaigns.  

Using new tools and integrating in traditional ones, marketers will be able to effectively use TV in their campaigns on into the future!


An Update on… “The Apple Privacy Update”

With the upcoming release of Apple’s new Operating System and (another) Apple privacy controversy in the news this week, we thought it was a good time to bring this article back. 😜

This spring’s iOS updated promised increase security and user control for inter-app tracking and cookies. However, the changes are taking a lot longer to reach users than first promised. It seems like all the changes they announced were more for show than actually giving users more control over their personal data.

And…. on the topic of personal data: make sure you do the emergency update on your devices today! The update fixes a bug that makes the over 1.65 billion Apple devices worldwide vulnerable to Pegasus Spyware. 

Pegasus spyware is particularly dangerous because unlike most spyware and malware, the user doesn’t need to click a link or open a suspicious email for it to be installed. The spyware doesn’t give the device’s user any indication that it was activated. This “zero click remote exploit” spyware was developed by Israeli cybersecurity firm NSO. The Pegasus spyware can turn a device’s microphone or camera on, and record even encrypted calls, texts, messages, and emails.

NSO has been subject to controversy in the past for it’s client list. They say that they only sell their spyware to government and organizations that meet strict human rights standards and who will use the spyware to track terrorists and criminals. However, the Pegasus spyware has been linked many times over the past couple years to organizations that do not meet those criteria. 

It is interesting to see if this latest privacy controversy will impact the upcoming ios update or change Apple’s approach to large scale privacy initiatives in the future. 

The (Un)Official Guide to The Apple Privacy Update

April 28th, 2021

The (Un)Official Guide to The Apple Privacy Update

The Apple privacy update rolling out this week that finally does what they’ve been threatening to do for a lonnnggggg time. Control over the ADFA (Apple’s Device Identifier for Advertisers) and other app tracking tools are being given directly to the users. What Apple decides to do when it comes to data privacy and marketing tools greatly impacts the entire industry.

Why? For one thing, 45.2% of smartphones users in the United States have an iPhone. Another reason is that they have marketed themselves as the company that is going to stand up for its user’s privacy and control, even if that means going against Facebook. Or the Government.

The big question is though… what does it mean for you? As a user and as an advertiser?

What does the privacy update actually do?

With the new update scheduled to go out this week, Apple is introducing a feature called “App Tracking Transparency.” What does it do? Well… it makes advertiser tracking between apps more transparent to users. Apple has made the ability to see (and change) what apps are tracking what for years. The difference now is that instead it being buried deep in settings, a pop-up window will show up on every app that tracks something or collects any data. This pop up (like the one for sharing location) will allow users to control what personal data each app has access to as well what other apps it can connect to.

What information are apps collecting/what are they collecting? Apps (and websites) can collect a surprising amount of information that users haven’t directly given them. Some apps track your physical location. They can use this information to serve you targeted ads based on where you are in the physical world. Knowing your physical location can also give you better recommendations on things “near you,” whether that be pizza for lunch or the weather forecast.  

Apps also can have tracking pixels built in. These pixels can track your movement form one app or website to another. This is how you can get an ad for something you just looked at on Amazon. Amazon has a tracking pixel built into their website, they in turn take the information the pixel has collected about visitors to target them on other websites and apps.

What choice do users have now?

In the popup window, users will now be given the choice: “Allow” and “Ask app not to track.” In the past Apple has let you decide which specific elements you would allow, like only location sharing or only ADFA tracking. However, this feature appears to be all or nothing. If you “Allow” then you are giving complete access.

What happens when you say no to tracking? Apple stops giving the app access to your ADFA, stopping it from learning about you from other apps. It also tells apps that you really would rather they didn’t track or share your information in any other ways.

Why should you allow tracking?

The (Un)Official Guide to The Apple Privacy Update -  Image of the AppTracking Transparency PopUp

Personalized ads are one part of the puzzle when it comes to be tracked online. As we’ve talked about in the past, personalized ads are very effective. Younger generation that have grown up online don’t tolerate non-personalized ads very well. We are constantly inundated with content and advertising, so it is easy to completely zone out advertising (in any form) that is something you are not directly interested in.

Also, many consumers now have in innate understanding of how their personal data is used to create targeted ads. Being targeted (or retargeted) based on their interests and past activities are expected. Recently surveyed consumers between the ages of 18-34, 58% said that a personalized ad helped them make a purchase decision. 42% also said that they had clicked on a sponsored ad in the last 6 months!

For a lot of us, the privacy concerns pale in comparison to function and usability of an app. A TapResearch poll conducted in August 2020 shows that 23% of iOS users are likely to opt in to sharing data with apps that request it. Another 21% of consumers are neutral on the subject, suggesting they will not opt out. Recent eMarketer research shows that 75% of consumers are willing to share their location if it enables a mobile service or saves them money. Which highlights how many users feel about personalized advertising: getting a coupon or an ad for something you were probably going to buy anyway is not a bad thing.

The Facebook Controversy

Facebook has been by far the most outspoken opponent of AppTrackingTransparency, going so far as to take-out full-page ads in newspapers and other print publications. Facebook says that AppTrackingTransparency will hurt small businesses’ ability to advertise to those in their community. And that Apple shouldn’t be able to make “unilateral decisions without consulting the industry about a policy that will have far-reaching harm on businesses of all sizes.”

Apple shouldn’t make “unilateral decisions without consulting the industry about a policy that will have far-reaching harm on businesses of all sizes.”

Facebook

In general, the consensus seems to be that Facebook is upset because of their ongoing rivalry with Apple and more importantly, this decision’s impact on their own revenue. In the months since its announcement Facebook has changed its tune a bit. Zuckerberg said in an interview in March on Clubhouse that Apple’s new privacy policy may actually help Facebook; if advertisers can’t find space across iOS apps they may turn to Facebook.

Time will tell if these changes pull advertisers more into Facebook marketing, but one thing is for sure, they have already impacted Facebooks. We were sent this by Facebook this week: “Apple released changes with iOS 14 that impacts how we receive and process events from tools like the Facebook SDK and the Facebook pixel. See updates on how these changes affect your ad account and see tasks that can help you reach your audience.” So far, the only thing we’ve seen impacted on Facebook is size audiences available. That is expected to level out though, in coming months as people re-opt-in to app tracking.

The (Un)Official Guide to The Apple Privacy Update 
75% of consumers are willing to share their location if it enables a mobile service or saves them money.

What are advertisers doing about the privacy update?

Many apps already have another type of pixel technology built into them called “Fingerprinting.” Fingerprinting has been developed recently to combat this end of cookie era. Fingerprinting works by collecting seemingly unimportant data from your device such as screen resolution, phone model, and current operating system, and combining it into a way of recognizing your unique device. Much like actual finger printing, fingerprints match to fingerprint, not a name, address, phone number etc. This allows advertisers to target you with ads without knowing who you actually are, thus getting around any data privacy issues.

There are many tools becoming available that do similar things. Tools like Household Level Identifiers that don’t target specific people. Apple has given advertisers time to come up with solutions, so we will probably see more options in the coming months and years.

So, what do you think? Do the advantages of AppTracking outweigh the privacy costs?

Have you seen any evidence of increase privacy for personal data?


The Value of the Social Proof Phenomenon

The Value of the Social Proof Phenomenon -  Main Image. An Influencer holds up a shirt to her phone

The Social Proof Phenomenon is a foundation piece of how our culture buys now. Between Instagram Influencers, Yelp reviews, and 5 star Amazon products, most of us make purchase decisions on the value others see in the product. How can Social Proof and online reviews work for you?

The Social Proof Phenomenon

What do online reviews have to do with “Social Proof?” “Social Proof” is the phenomenon based on the fact that it’s easier to buy things or trust companies if we know that other people already have. Our peers provide the proof of something’s value. None of us would buy something on Amazon with 10,000 1 star reviews. We trust those 10,000 strangers because that product connects us as a community.

“Social proof” is also part of the transparency that builds brand trust. Most consumers (almost 88%) research a business before buying from them. A lot of that research comes from reviews and reading what other people have said about their experiences.

What Can Social Proof Do For You?

Reviews can help educate consumers on your products and services. Reviewers usually talk about their specific experiences in their reviews. It can be an easier way for potential customers to learn more about what you offer.

Reviews Boost SEO. Specifically, Google Reviews. Google indexes reviews connected to your listing to help filter results. Especially for local traffic. “Best __ Near Me” is decided by reviews and stars. Customers will often use your keywords in reviews without even realizing it. This helps Google learn about you.

What Can You Do To Collect Reviews?

People are inclined to leave reviews if they a specifically positive or negative experience. Therefore, work hard to provide an overwhelmingly positive expertise for your customers! (You should be doing this anyway; the review is just a byproduct. 😉 )

Google My Business Reviews help prove your company's value to potential customers
Google My Business Reviews

People like to do things for other people so a great way to collect reviews is to just ask for them! A follow up survey email after they buy from you is an easy way to this. Ask them specific, easy to answer questions about things such as: service response times, shipping times, product or service quality etc.  

Make it easy to review you. No one has time to take 10 minuets following a complicated review survey with long required written answers. People are doing you a favor by reviewing you, show that you appreciate it by being respectful of their time and effort. Take out pain points of the review process: go through and make sure there aren’t any unnecessary steps or questions. Double check the user interface, id it easy to figure out?

Incentivizing your reviews (specifically ecommerce) is a big no-no! As temping as it is to show your appreciation for the review with a coupon or free shipping, or something: don’t. Both Google and Yelp have policies in place banning incentivized reviews. They will take the reviews down and give you a slap on the wrist.

What To Do With Reviews Once You Have Them

You have the reviews – now what? Here’s 2 ways to leverage them!

  1. Show them off
    Let your reviews sell your product for you. Happy previous customers can be a great way to convince your potentials to buy from you! Show off your reviews on your home page with Google review widget or prominently feature some reviews as part of the design. Don’t forget to ask for permission first if you are going to highlight a specific review, especially if you are going to use their picture.
  2. Engage with reviewers
    let them know you appreciate them! It doesn’t have to be a big deal, simply liking the review or just saying thanks goes a long way. That little bit of effort can turn a happy customer into a loyal one. And a lot of marketing automation software makes replying to reviews across multiple platforms easy.

Do you have a favorite customer review?

While we are on the subject… leave us a review! 😜


Get the most out of Instagram – How?

Get the most out of Instagram - How?

Instagram can be a confusing and overwhelming beast. It has its own constantly changing algorithm and culture that separates it from any other social media. Getting Instagram to work for you takes time, effort, insight, and unfortunately: intuition. What do you need to get the most out of Instagram?

Being an Instagram pro requires knowledge of 3 things: its culture, its algorithm, and your own analytics of those 2 things. Understanding the culture and the algorithm don’t do you much good if that knowledge is disconnected from your own follower and user data.

Instagram Culture

The biggest thing to remember is that Instagram is not Facebook. Facebook is for information, Instagram is for connections. And Instagram’s user base is generally younger than its big brother Facebook. More than 50% of Instagram users are between 18-35, while more than 60% of Facebook’s user are over 35. Therefore, these users have grown up with social media, including Instagram, and have shaped its function and culture. (For example, by the time my friends and I were old enough to have social media, Facebook was already too big and felt like something elusively for our parents. For a long time, Instagram was the only social media any of us had.)

Although Instagram is great for showing off products, the thing it is best at is highlighting your brand’s culture and personality. It is not enough anymore to have a good product available anymore, your consumers need to feel connected to your brand. 56% of Gen Z consumers say that having shared passions and perspectives is a major factor when it comes to their engagement with a brand.

$ things to remember about Instagram's Culture

And 49% of young consumers say they will evangelize a brand they feel represents their values, likes, and personality.

Don’t be afraid of incorporating causes you care about into your brands personality! 72% of consumers want the brands they care about to be positive contributors to society. We’ve seen in recent years that many brands (especially smaller companies) connect their core brand to a charity or cause they care about. Younger consumers are 69% more likely to buy from a brand that contributes to a cause.

The Algorithm

According to Instagram, they decide to show your content based on 6 factors:

#1: Interest

#2: Relationship 

#3: Timeliness

#4: Frequency

#5: Following

#6: Usage

The first three are somewhat self-explanatory. Instagram shows you things based on what you’ve liked in the past. They highlight posts from people they’ve decided are close to you: people whose content you most engage with, the people who tag you, the people you DM etc. Instagram also cares about when you post. Keeping track of your analytics can give you a good idea about when the best times to post for you are.

#4 Frequency
Instagram Algorithm - Cat scrolling through Instagram

Frequency isn’t about how often you post but instead about how often interact with the app. The more often you check your Instagram feed the more likely your feed will be chronological because they are always trying to show you the newest content available. This is helpful to understand what type of Instagram users your followers are. If they don’t check the app that often, then it will be harder to have your posts seen. Building up the other 5 components to the algorithm will be all the more important.

#5 Following

Instagram assigns value to follower counts in a couple different ways. First, is simple: the more followers you have the more likely your posts will be highlighted in your follower’s feeds. However, they also look at your follower’s engagement levels. If you have a lot of ghost followers that don’t interact with you, then they could actually be hurting you. Another thing to consider, the more people your followers follow the more competition for space in their feed. Do your followers follow a lot of people? Understanding that can help you decide if you need to adjust where you focus your efforts.

#6 Usage

This is how Instagram qualifies the amount of time spent on the app. The more time spent on the app, the deeper into its catalogs they have to pull from to show content. You can use this to your advantage by using hashtags or developing content that matches with the interests of Instagram’s heavy users.

How do you get the most out of Instagram?


What Can Your Team Do Stay Productive?

What can you as an individual and you as a team do to maintain your efficiency and productivity?

When working as part of a team, how we work alone as well as how we work together contributes to productivity and efficiency. When employees are stressed or exhausted, engagement and productivity dip and the whole company can feel the effects. It can be hard to stay productive.

Managing stress has been a challenge for a lot of people this year. In Asana’s Anatomy of Work 2021 study, 71% of workers said that they felt burnt out at least once in the last year. Also, 42% rated their stress levels as high or very high. 😳

So, what can you as an individual and you as a team do to maintain your efficiency and productivity?

What Can You Do as A Team to Stay Productive?

Unfortunately, work related stress often has to do with environment. When one person is feeling burnt out on your team, it can bring the whole team down. What can you do to create a less stress inducing work environment?

Talk It Out

Ewww, right? However, it’s impossible to know what is wrong or how you can help a situation if you don’t know at the problem is. Take in interest in people you work with. Is there anything going on in their life that might be adding stress? Is a process or workflow just not working for and its making things difficult?

Think about what areas of your job are stressing you and then figure out what you can do to help the situation.

Once you understand how your team is feeling, don’t disregard it! See what you can do to make things run smoother.

Take Control Over Your Situation

We are all responsible for ourselves. If you are lucky enough to have anatomy in your job, use it! Think about what areas of your job are stressing you and then figure out what you can do to help the situation. For example, do you struggle with being productive in the afternoons because you hit a massive exhaustion wall? Could you be hitting that dip because you constantly don’t get enough sleep? Or does coffee make you crash? Those are things that you have control over and can change.

And after this year, more and more companies are realizing that giving their employees flexibility over schedule and in some cases, whether they want to work from home, actually increases productivity!

Minimize Distractions

The Asana study mentioned early found that “work about work” took up 60% of most employee’s days. That “work about work” is things like, meetings about processes, communicating about specific tasks, switching between tools, waiting for apps to load, searching for information, following up with team members about a project’s status, and managing shifted task priorities. A lot of those things are things that you don’t have control over. However, dealing with tasks like that can quickly give you the feeling of being on a work sized hamster wheel. That’s partly because “work about work” doesn’t feel like you are accomplishing anything.

What can help you feel in control? Figure out the right processes and find the right tools. If you can work with your team to put an effective process in place for dealing with collaborative projects. Part of that involves finding the right tools. There are so many workflow and team management tools available now that it shouldn’t be difficult to find one that works for you and your budget. (We are big fans of Teams/Planner and good old fashioned white boards.)

Time Management

Time management single handedly has the biggest impact on work stressor and burn out. Good time management can drastically increase your productivity and give you more time to focus on other aspects of your life. A healthy work-life balance will help aspects of your life, including reducing stress!

Connect Your Targets to Big Goals

Time management is about getting the work done, it about getting the right things done at the time. A big part of understanding and prioritizing what’s most important is know what are your goals. And if you work for a company, what its goals are. A recent study found that only 26% of employees understand how their work relates to the overall company goals. How can you know what daily targets to set if you don’t understand where you are trying to go?

Only 26% of employees understand how their work relates to the overall company goals

This goes back to talk it out. If you have questions, ask! And if you are in a management position, work with your employees so everyone understands what they are doing to help the company reach its goals!

Prioritize and Organize

Its critical to understand what tasks are most important. Inevitably things change throughout the day; deadlines move and priorities shift. If you understand what’s most important in the grand scheme, however, it can make adapting to those changes easier. In the Asana study, they found that 29% of employees cited confusion on task priorities as a contributing factor to their burnout.

Eat the Frog

There are many different methods to prioritizing and organizing your daily tasks. The “Eat The Frog” method (named after the famous Mark Twain quote) encourages you to take care of the big or complex tasks first thing in the morning. This way you are productive right out the gate and don’t have a big task hanging over your head all day. Once you’ve eaten the frog you can move to other things.

Another popular method is David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” method. The first step in this method is write everything you need to get done down. Once you have an overview it’s easy to see what tasks are important. Writing it all down and putting it one place frees up brain power and lets you focus on actually getting the stuff done.

Plan Ahead

Writing down your targets for the next day before you finish for the night or as you think of it, helps you feel on top of the day as soon as it starts. Spending a few minutes to plan out tomorrow’s tasks is way easier than spending the first part of your day scrambling to remember what was a priority to get done that day. This will also help your work life balance because you don’t have to keep thinking about all you have tomorrow.

Say “No” or Delegate

This is a struggle, we know. But one advantage of having clear, prioritized tasks, is that you can see when a task is not a priority or not one you have time for. It’s easier to explain why you are saying no if everyone knows what your current priorities are. Sharing your clearly defined priorities with your team gives everyone more clearly. This is something that we have found to be successful. In our morning meeting we often go through what everyone’s priority tasks for the day are. By doing this, we know what each of us needs to be focusing on and how much a priority it is to reach our company goals. It also makes it easier to see where we could help.

Knowing what your team’s priorities are, can also make it easier to delegate tasks. Just because something is a priority task for you doesn’t mean it’s not important! Help it get to the right person and that benefits everyone.

Audit Your Tasks

Is there anything on your plate right now that doesn’t align with your goals? Ask yourself, is this task not a priority for today anymore? Or is it not a priority at all? If the task is still important but keeps getting moved to the bottom of your priorities, ask yourself if you are the right person to be handling it?

Another aspect of auditing task is looking at how you view the task. Are you procrastinating the task because you don’t really want to do it? It’s easy to add time to situations if want to avoid the task. However, tasks don’t usually take care of themselves. (wouldn’t that be nice?) procrastinating the task will just make it worse. And often, when we finally do something, we’ve been procrastinating, we find it wasn’t that difficult in the first place!

What have you found successful in dealing with work stress? Any time management tricks you swear by?

How do these marketing channels stack up?

There are A LOT of different marketing channels out there. What are the pros and cons of some of the common ones?

There are A LOT of different marketing channels out there. What are the pros and cons of some of the common ones?

Social Media

Pro

There are over 3.8 billion people on social media around the world. Social media is a fantastic way to connect with customers, build brand loyalty, and generate sales.

People don’t just want to buy from companies because they have good products and services. They want to know what your brand stands for in addition to what it sells. Social media can help potential customers get to you. Social media feel like a 1-on-1 conversation between the brand and consumer, which helps build loyalty.

Con

A lot of the value from social doesn’t show up immediately. It’s rarely simple to track social media’s ROI. Often the goal of social media is not just to generate sales but instead to build connections. Without measurable results, using social media can be discouraging.

Email

Email Channel

Pro

Often it a brand’s only way to communicate with customers and can feel very one on one. A lot of millennial and gen z’ers expect to communicate with brands through email. Also, pretty much everyone has email so you know you will be able to communicate with people through email.

Con

We all get so. many. emails. Most office workers receive 127 every day. It can be hard to stand out from the crowd. People don’t have time to read emails that don’t actually provide them value. 

Email marketing also has a lot of laws and rules connected to it that can hurt you if your aren’t careful!

Content/SEO

Content/SEO Channels

Pro

Customers often rely on a business’s website for information. Especially for local businesses, it can be the only way to know a shop hours or address. Putting the information on a website instead of a social media or directly in a browser legitimizes the information.

Good SEO gives your website credibility. It makes it easier for people to find your website when they search for it. And it helps create a smoother user experience.  

Con

Bad SEO can hurt you. Most searchers never go past the first or second page of Google, though, which is why those top spots in the search results are so coveted. Having the proper SEO can prevent your website form getting organic traffic.

53% of all trackable website traffic comes from organic search. SEO is the main thing influencing how easy it is to find you online organically. Which is probably why it’s estimated that agencies and brands spent over $79.27 Billion on SEO services last year.  

Google Ads

Google Ads Channel

Pro

Where are people? On their phones. So, google ads is an extremely effective way to find people where they are. Google ads is great for brand awarness as well as retargeting. It is great if you want measurable results and analytics.

Con

Billboards, signs, posters, newspapers, and magazines all exist with in different physical spaces. With digital advertising however, we are all competing for the same ad space. That ad space is worth more now has less guarantees attached to it.  

Trying to figure Google ads can feel like rocket science. There’s a large learning curve and it can a while to feel confident in the set up.

Print and Mail

Print and Mail Channel

Pro

Direct mail average open rate is somewhere between 68 and 90%, which is double, triple, or quadruple the average open rates of other marketing channels. Do people who open direct mail actually purchase? Yes! On average people who receive direct mail purchase 28% more items and spend 28% more money!

Why is direct mail so effective? It comes down to fact that we (humans) like getting mail. 41% of Americans of all ages look forward to getting their mail every day. We still want very real things in our hands, which is something totally lost in email inboxes or on social media. That tactile connection translates into 💰.

Con

Since Direct mail requires use of the postal system it has fixed costs. The graphic design of the mail piece may also have an additional cost. Using direct always requires a bit of math and if done wrong can hurt your ROI.

It’s not always posable to see direct, measurable results, from Direct mail campaigns. And if you can measure results, it may take a while to get the full picture.

Another thing that can be a disadvantage to direct mail is that you need a really good foundation of address data. The problem us that a lot of data providers don’t make sure that their data is accurate and that hurts the effectiveness of your campaign.   

Connected TV

Connected TV Channel

Pro

TV is a time-tested advertising channel. Although it’s a lot less common than it used to be, it can still be very effective. Many marketers are using CTV (connected TV) or OTT (over-the-top) channels to target consumers using streaming services and connected TV devices such as Hulu and Roku. Advertises are embracing these platforms as more and more ad space becomes available. Spending for CTV advertising is expected to grow from $6.94 billion in 2019 to $8.88 billion in 2020, a 28% increase.

Con

With customer attention spread so thin and cable tv subscriptions consistently falling, (over 16 million in the last five years) there’s a lot less advertising space available. Content consumption is at an all-time high and therefore, competition for viewer’s attention is as well. 84% of marketers say that it is getting harder to grab a consumer’s attention with television advertising alone. 

Audiences today expect personalized and relevant targeted ads. Linear TV (cable and network television) often fall far behind in targeting capabilities. Therefore, it can be a challenge for advertisers to figure out how to integrate linear TV into their campaigns. 


Data, Analytics, and Insight: What’s The Difference?

Data, analytics, and insight is kinda our thing. However, it seems like a lot of people use those words almost interchangeably. Are they the same thing? What do they mean for your business?

Data = The Information
Analytics = The Connections
Insights = The Actions

Data is pure information. For example, data about your current customers (first party data) is information such as average age, gender, location, or occupation. Analytics are the patterns that connect those things.

That would mean that data is knowing that you sent over 20,000 emails in June 2021. Analytics are knowing that your average open rate is 22.8% and your click through rate is 0.09%. The analytics show you a clearer image of the data.

Monet Painting number 1. data, analytics, and insight

I heard a really great illustration about this recently. Thinking about data and analytics can be compared to looking at an impression painting (like this one: The Cliff of Aval Etretat by Claude Monet.) Up close, all you see are the brush strokes and colors. That’s like looking at raw data. You can see what it is made off. But if you back up a few feet and look at the painting, you can see what the image actually is. Similarly, looking at analytics gives a more complete view of your data.

What’s the advantage of Insight?

Monet Painting number 2. data, analytics, and insight

Insight is the action connected to the analytics. Taking the example of 20,000 emails, insight would taking the knowledge that you have a great open rate but a terrible CTR and doing something about it. Applying insight means changing your call to actions or link to generate a better click through rate.

What’s another way to apply insights?

Building a Buyer Persona

What is a buyer persona? In the simplest terms, a buyer persona is exemplification of all of your customers. The most common way to do this is to create a fictional person that has the most common demographics and interests of your customers. Basically, you take data, analyize it, and then use insight to act.

Ask yourself: What are your customers common denominators? (Data) What do they want? (Analytics) What are their pain points? (Analytics) Once you have this information, it can be combined into a person you can picture makes it easier to connect with the crowd. (Insights)

Jim Edwards from Funnel Scripts explains buyer personas as the main character in the story of your company’s customer journey. Although your company already has its own personality, (or brand) in order to success the narrative you’re telling haws to focus on what the customer wants and needs. You are there to help them get to where they want to go. Jim Edwards example buyer persona was for a weight loss company. Their buyer persona is a middle-aged unicorn named Fred who needs to lose weight if he wants to be successful at his quests. Fred is the main character in the story. The weight-loss company is there to help him.

What data do you need to create a buyer persona?

Like any good main character, your buyer persona needs to be well rounded. It needs to have a purpose, interests, goals, and struggles. It’s especially important to know what motivates them so you can help them.

Here’s some common buyer persona attributes.

  1. What are their basic demographics?
    What gender to they identify as? How old are they? Where do they live? What is their relationship status? Are they educated?
  2. What do they do for work?
    What’s their job title and description? But more than that, are they a decision maker? What do they influence at work?
  3. What are their interests?
    Do they have hobbies or interests? What do they do in their free time? Are they part of a community?
  4. What do they want and why can’t they have?
    This a big thing for figuring out what you can do to help them! What are their goals and dreams? What are their pain points? Like, what keeps them up at night?
  5. Why wouldn’t they buy from you?
    What’s stopping them from buying from you? What objections may they have?
  6. What ways would they prefer to interact with you?
    Do they use social media? Do like a particular social media? Is a phone call the best way to reach them?

Using data, analytics, and insight is essential to having a successful business. What ways to you implement data in your business?


How to get past creative blocks

How to get past creative blocks

Whether or not you think of yourself as creative person, all jobs required creative thinking. And especially as marketers we produce a lot of content, for ourselves and our clients.  However, it can be difficult to continue to produce high-quality content when we don’t feel creative or inspired. 

Fortunately, there are things we can do to get over (or prevent) creative blocks. 

Take a break

Remember your brain is a muscle and needs rest time. During our break time out brains continue to process ideas. Therefore, breaks can boost our creativity and give us new ideas.  

One of the most effective ways to get over a creative break is to take a break outside. The University of Michigan found that walking outside (preferably in nature) improved attention spans and memory performance over 20%! They found that walking outside, no matter the temperature, had the same mental effects as meditation.

Don’t force it

Our brains don’t have an endless well of content ideas. And we can’t force ourselves to be creative. It’s okay to just walk away. One way to keep to refilling the well is to just do something else. Change your scenery, have conversations, read books or articles, watch a movie or show. Diversity of other creative inputs will refill your own creativity.  

Inspiration can be found anywhere but it’s easier to find it when you are being active. Take opportunities to use other parts of your brain and senses! It could even be a monotonous task that you normally don’t enjoy, but the switch up will help get the juices flowing.

Focus on the process, not on the results.

Making content isn’t just about the result. There are many steps along the way. Finding joy in all the steps can make it easier to stay motivated.  

Befriend your inner critic

There will be bumps in the road. It impossible to make perfect content, the first time, every time. Taking risks will help sharpen your skills and build your confidence. Don’t afraid to befriend your inner critic. Not letting yourself fail or telling yourself that you aren’t able to succeed both result in failure. It ok! Your inner critic and any failure is how you learn and grow. The fast you acknowledge your critic and failure, the faster you’ll be able to get past the block and make something you are proud of.  It’s all part of the process! 

“It’s through mistakes that you actually can grow. You have to get bad in order to get good.”

Paula Scher

Listen to yourself

Creative block crusher check list

Although it may feel like it, creative blocks don’t just appear out of nowhere. Often, a lack of creativity comes from not taking care of your physical or mental health. It’s difficult to feel motivated and inspired if you’re exhausted.

So, check in on yourself. Are you getting enough sleep? When was the last time you drank water? It’s easy to want to power through and get things done but that mentality will come back to bite you later.

Audit your task list

Sometimes a task can seem so big and overwhelming that it’s hard to know where to start and we just don’t. It can paralyze your creativity. The easiest solution is to organize and prioritize your tasks. Cut the task into smaller chunks if you need to.

Ways to divide tasks

There are many different methods to prioritizing and organizing your daily tasks. The “Eat the Frog” method (named after the famous Mark Twain quote) encourages you to take care of the big or complex tasks first thing in the morning. This way you are productive right out the gate and don’t have a big task hanging over your head all day. Once you’ve eaten the frog you can move to other things.

Another popular method is David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” method. The first step in this method is write everything you need to get done down. Once you have an overview it’s easy to see what tasks are important. Writing it all down and putting it one place frees up brain power and lets you focus on getting the stuff done.

“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.”

Van Gogh

Plan ahead

Writing down your targets for the next day before you finish for the night or as you think of it, helps you feel on top of the day as soon as it starts. Spending a few minutes to plan out tomorrow’s tasks is way easier than spending the first part of your day scrambling to remember what was a priority to get done that day. This will also help your work life balance because you don’t have to keep thinking about all you have tomorrow.

Another aspect of auditing task is looking at how you view the task. Are you procrastinating the task because you don’t really want to do it? It’s easy to add time to situations if want to avoid the task. However, tasks don’t usually take care of themselves. (wouldn’t that be nice?) procrastinating the task will just make it worse. And often, when we finally do something, we’ve been procrastinating, we find it wasn’t that difficult in the first place!

What is your go-to way to get past creative blocks?  


Is the current office model outdated?

office

Remember like, a year ago when lots of big businesses were saying they weren’t going to require their employees to go back to the office? And then, inevitability they did. A lot of big companies and whole industries (like, banking and wall street,) have gone back to the office. What did we learn from corporate’s ‘year-at-home’? Are industries and office culture really going to adapt to modern WFH life? Or is the 9-5, 5-day-workweek here to stay?

Advantages of WFH

At the start of the pandemic, many companies feared that working remotely would cut done on productivity. After a year, that has proven not to be the case. Many employees feel more productive working remotely. 82% of senior executives surveyed reported seeing productivity levels either stay the same or increase because of working from home. WFH has cut down on something surprising: innovation.

82% of senior executives surveyed reported seeing productivity levels either stay the same or increase because of working from home.

WFH lowers office costs and shortens commutes. Employees like the freedom. 69% of respondents to Microsoft’s WFH survey said that the main reasons liked working remotely were: dressing more casually, being able to personalize their workspace, and having their pet by their side. Working from home also cuts down on casual workplace interruptions. That same Microsoft study found that before WFH, workers felt like 52% of their workday was wasted due to unnecessary disturbances. That number has fallen to 41% since the beginning of the pandemic.

Michael Parke, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, who worked on the Microsoft study, said: “It seems that employees are able to hunker down and get less distracted while working remotely… However, the cost seems to be a loss of sense of purpose, which at work, is largely driven through strong and cohesive relationships and seeing how your tasks have impact on others.”

IN Office-Hybrid-WFH advantages and disadvantages

“However, the cost seems to be a loss of sense of purpose, which at work, is largely driven through strong and cohesive relationships and seeing how your tasks have impact on others.”

Michael Parke

Disadvantages of WFH

Working remotely means it’s hard to connect with coworkers, both for formal communication as well as for personal connections. This has had a direct impact on companies’ ability to innovate. The Microsoft study reported that the percentage of leaders who felt that their companies were innovative dropped 16% in 2020. Without sharing a physical space brainstorming and collaboration is more difficult. It’s harder to come up with new ideas as well as enact them.

The overnight and “temporary” switch to working remotely has created many challenges for employers and employees alike. WFH on this scale is such a new thing that solutions to challenges and long-term repercussions are still very much unknown. Being aware of challenges as they come up is the only way for companies to work on effective solutions.

What About A Hybrid Office?

As companies transition back to the office, many bigger companies aren’t seeing it as all or nothing: office vs. WFH. Many companies are trying a hybrid workplace. For example, the London based bank, StandardCharter is pushing and incentivizing a hybrid office model across its global offices. They plan to create smaller office hubs and give employees the choice to work at the office or at home. They are suggesting that employees meet at the office regularly to check in and collaborate. Building We-Work style office spaces will help solve technology deficiencies in their branches in developing countries and will lower costs across the board. 

Facebook is also moving to a more hybrid work model. However, they are allowing it more than promoting it. Their current policy is that any full-time employee can request to WFH. Some jobs such as data center maintenance and hardware development will not be allowed to work remotely. They are also planning to adjust salary based on where you decide to work. It is a lot cheaper for the employee to work remotely from a city in the Midwest. (For example, the cost of living in San Francisco, CA is 199.8% higher than it is here in Omaha, NE.) Facebook is going to open all their US offices up to 50% capacity in the fall. Meaning, that almost 30,000 employees will continue to work remotely.

How has the last year of WFH impacted entrepreneurs?

Many people took the opportunity of disrupted work to start new businesses. Many people liked the freedom and flexibility that working from home offered and decided to leave their corporate jobs and pursue entrepreneurship.

“Americans submitted an average of 111,000 applications for new businesses per week between the end of June 2020 and the beginning of September 2020, the most applications submitted per week since 2007.”

U.S. Census Bureau

How do many people feel about going back to the office?

A lot of banks and tech companies went back to the office last week. How do their employees feel about it after working from home for a year and a half? Of the over 1,200 employees and 133 executives surveyed at the end of last year, 55% said they would prefer to still work remotely at least 3 days a week. Along with the loss of flexibility and other perks WFH offers, going back to working surrounded by people can be daunting. A scary as it may be, it will show your employer and teammates your commitment to your job and flexibility in dealing with transitions. Which will be really appreciated! If you are feeling anxious about the return, talk to your boss. Your company may be more open to a hybrid office than you think.

There is never going to be a complete consensus to the question: is WFH better? Every business, every office, and every employee will have a different opinion and method that works best for them. It doesn’t really matter what your company decides to do, as long as it’s the right fit for you.

Do you think a hybrid office is effective?