So you’ve decided to focus on content marketing this year. And why not? Good content marketing can help you reach and increase your target audience and drive traffic to your product, all whilst positioning your brand as a category leader.
When it comes to social media, companies often take a spontaneous approach: they have a product or service and post things that are relevant to said product or service. Now, it could be worse, i.e not being present on social media at all, but it could most definitely be better. Social media is a powerful tool which, when harnessed properly, can be used to drive more potential clients to your brand. And more clients = more potential sales or a larger network.
One of the most important business skills is being able to ask good questions. Asking the right questions will lead you down a useful exploration of thought and research, while asking the wrong questions will lead to conclusions that are either false or irrelevant.
Ad blocking was front of mind at the recent Advertising Week Europe conference in London. “The audience is pointing a gun at us and saying ‘the way you operate business is not acceptable to us,'” said Tim Gentry, global revenue director at the Guardian.
Ad blocking is not a symptom of a petulant public, but a signal that they feel advertising has little to offer them.
“Ad blocking has come up because so much of advertising just gets in the way,” said Andy Chandler, vice-president EMEA of US mobile monetisation company Tapjoy. “You have to show somebody that you value their time and offer something in return now.” Where a value exchange is clear, advertising is accepted. For instance, the Guardian noted that two-thirds of its most loyal readers whitelist the news organisation in their ad blockers in exchange for free access to its content.
Chandler recommended that publishers take cues from advertising in the gaming space, where ad engagement is often tied to immediate rewards, such as in-game currency. He said his company has seen these strategies result in 90% completion rates for video ads.
Another strategy is to shift targeting focus away from user-tracking cookies and towards contextual data, such as location or time of day. British lifestyle site The Pool staggers its content across appropriate times of day, one item at a time. Sam Baker, co-founder, chief executive and editor of the website, commented: “Instead of throwing 100 pieces of content a day at a wall and seeing what sticks, we release 10 pieces a day, when they resonate.”
This ability to enhance the value of their content through contextual targeting helps The Pool engender loyalty in its readers, something all brands should be aiming for.
I recently read an article in HBR about how storytelling is a great way to explain a business’s purpose. I couldn’t agree more.
To me, purpose is about understanding and aligning a business’s values (who you are and what you stand for) and value (what you do and how it benefits others).
To activate purpose, you need to set a narrative. As with any good story, you need a beginning, middle and end.
You need to tell a personal narrative, focusing on real events in the founder’s life and explaining how these incidents established the personal values that will later link to the values of the organisation.
You then need to connect these values with broader shared values of the audience, clients and employees. You can aim to do this through sharing values, experiences, hopes and aspirations. By doing so, you can create a common narrative.
Once a connection has been established, you then need an urgent call to action for those who want to share the business’s purpose.
A great example of activating purpose can be seen with Kickstarter. They use storytelling as an impactful way of asking people to join their team. Their narrative begins with the founder telling the story of the company. Their website then includes pictures and short descriptions of each company employee. Finally, the narrative finishes with a call to action, asking the reader “Love Kickstarter? You’ll fit right in.”
Although the process of storytelling can seem daunting, it’s a powerful tool that builds passion, motivation and buy-in for the stakeholders of any organisation.
Image: FlickrCC/BY/2.0 Jim Penucci
I’m delighted to announce Make Happy’s partnership with the G5A Foundation for Contemporary Arts, the project from Founding Director Anuradha Parikh. I first had the pleasure of working with Anuradha back in 1986 on two documentary films between finishing school and starting university. Two weeks ago I travelled to Mumbai to meet her again, as well as the staff, artists and local community behind the project.
Anuradha and I had discussed at length the creative community in Mumbai. In a city seeing rapid regeneration and economic change, the arts and innovative processes have suffered, and G5A responds to this. Its mission is to be a centre for creative expression that encourages participation from the marginalised as well as the elite, and to build a model of participatory neighbourhood governance and management within the local community. These goals will empower its inhabitants to enact effective change.
Urban studies academic Richard Florida theorises that to define a city as creative it must nurture the ‘3 Ts’: talent, technology and tolerance. G5A pushes for these through its mission. Additionally, Anuradha and I fervently believe that the best approach to tackling the issues Mumbai faces is in itself a creative one.
To this end, I facilitated a number of workshops at G5A’s launch week aimed at getting people thinking about what constitutes a creative city, harnessing applied imagination to empower participants to take real world actions. The workshops opened people up to techniques that allowed for radical change of thought to address problems. I introduced Lego Serious Play as a tool to nurture open communication, with people from diverse backgrounds getting comfortable around one another. Each person built a model expressing what they thought was a key characteristic of a creative city. We brought models together to discuss what, how and why each element could come together to produce a harmonious whole.
Paramount to the success of the workshops were the broad-ranging backgrounds of its participants. Teachers, fishermen and shop-keepers from the local community collaborated with high-profile individuals from the world of arts and culture. These included film makers, musicians, writers, architects and artists, including Kunal Kapoor, trustee of the world-class Prithvi Theatre.
Whilst my time at G5A was limited, I believe we succeeded in opening people up to the power of workshop techniques in facilitating better conversations. Moving forward, G5A will not only be used as a venue for the arts, but as a base to train a generation of workshop facilitators who can go back to their individual communities to discuss their own specific issues.
UNESCO doesn’t list Mumbai as a creative city at present and this we need to change. The city has huge potential to reinforce its reputation as the place for creativity and innovation in India and potentially the destination for an annual innovation and creativity conference. I hope we see the success of G5A reflected in a creative spark throughout Mumbai. If ideas facilitate other ideas, people will be challenged and pushed to learn from one another, enacting effective change in the process.
In terms of geographical distance, Make Happy has an obstacle to overcome with helping G5A. However, we’ve never been one to shy away from a challenge, and look forward to finding creative ways in which to support the centre on an ongoing basis.
If any readers have an interest in developing the arts, culture or creative innovation in Mumbai, we’d love to hear from you, as we will soon be hosting a series of events following on from G5A’s launch.
In an intriguing film on hbr.com, innovation specialist Tony McCaffrey argues that traditional brainstorming sessions are a waste of time. Why? Because having groups sharing ideas is inefficient compared to people working on their own. Moreover, the usual brainstorm scenario privileges extroverts while the ideas of introverts are rarely heard. So is it time to cease group idea generation?
I think not. At Make Happy we see everyday the power of getting a group of people in a room, setting up the objectives and parameters, and watching the ideas flow. Such sessions have transformed both our business and those of our clients.
However, the video does make some excellent points. Particularly, the thorny challenge of how to ensure that all members of the group, introvert or extravert, are given an opportunity to share their ideas.
If you are worried that the more introverted amongst your team are uncomfortable and quiet during idea generation sessions, a technique such as Lego Serious Play (LSP) could really help.
The goal of Lego Serious Play is to allow teams to develop their ideas by creating 3D models of their organisational experiences. One of the key reasons the technique is so powerful is that everyone has to build and discuss their own model before contributing to a shared model. This ensures that all participants contribute equally to the discussion.
There is also a body of academic research that learning happens particularly well when people are engaged in constructing something external to themselves like a product (or Lego castle!)
If you think your team could benefit from a Lego Serious Play session contact Sophie on 0207 269 6990 or firstname.lastname@example.org.