Nuggets of Knowledge: July 2015

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July is an introspective month for Mack Web. This month’s Nuggets of Knowledge includes musings on the nature of the web (and society), the quest for inspiration, the benefits of human connection, making bold decisions, and the pursuit of inner light.

Deep stuff.

Or maybe the heat is affecting our brains. Who can say, really?

Either way, we’ve got some great thoughts for you this month and, if you’re itching for something to do, check out our NOKlist archive. Read More

How Our Culture Shaped Our New Office Space

By | Events, Mack's Musings, Miscellany, MISSION: Authentic | 3 Comments

Mack Web is now Genuinely. Learn more.

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Summer is by far my favorite time of year.

otterpops Mmmmm. Otter Pops.

The urban trails are full of people running or biking. The weekends are spent by the pool, hiking, or visiting friends. There’s always an opportunity for good food and free concerts in the park. The daylight lingers to afford us all some much needed play time. Rigid routines fade and it’s finally time for a change of pace. And Otter Pops are always on standby.

It’s mid-July and Mack Web finds itself more than half way through our 12th year of business. Lucky for us, this summer started with a bit more excitement than the usual change of seasons: a move to a brand new office space that we were fortunate enough to customize to match our collaborative culture.

I’ve got all the photos (and even a super awesome video) to share with you. But first, indulge me with a little history. Read More

Nuggets of Knowledge: June 2015

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Mack Web is now Genuinely. Learn more.

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Summer’s here! You know what that means?

Yep, it’s too hot for fancy intros. NOKlist, guys, chock full of social media savvy, productivity tips, methods for overcoming the fear of failure, and enduring through difficulty goodness. You know the drill.

(If you don’t know the drill, check out the Nuggets of Knowledge archive. You’re smart. You’ll pick it up quickly.) Read More

Nuggets of Knowledge: May 2015

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Mack Web is now Genuinely. Learn more.

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It’s a different month from last month, which can only mean one thing: NOKlist time. (Actually, it could probably mean more than one thing. Like bills and calendar pages and maybe a haircut. But this is the thing that matters right now.)

May’s Nuggets of Knowledge is one for both self-reflection and helpful tips. New approaches to strategy and brand voice, musings on the interaction of art and technology and bank robbers, and thoughts on learning and on working: these all lie before you. Exciting, right?

(And if you’d like to check out previous NOKlists, we’ve got a whole Nuggets of Knowledge archive.) Read More

Nuggets of Knowledge: April 2015

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Mack Web is now Genuinely. Learn more.

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Systems and design, quitting and creativity, a scathing denunciation of dickheads – such a collection of introspection, practical advice, geekery, and judiciously applied profanity can only mean one thing. That’s right, friends. It’s NOKlist time.

(If you’ve never had the pleasure of reading the Nuggets of Knowledge our team collects, check out the NOKlist archive.) Read More

How to Lead with Meaning in Your Marketing

By | Building Community, Business Stuff, Mack's Musings, Social Media, Web Marketing | No Comments

Mack Web is now Genuinely. Learn more.

– –

brian-solis

There are a whole lot of companies who have been changing the face of business, and our world, with a very simple approach: prioritizing meaning over money. Rather than just make a profit, they recognize they’re here to do something bigger. They want to use their businesses to be agents for change and to build durable, worthwhile companies that leave a mark on our world.

Often referred to as mission-driven, companies who value purpose over profit experience a number of advantages. Their employees are happier and more engaged; they stay longer and make bigger contributions. Mission-driven companies also have a better understanding of their value and how to use it to retain a strategic advantage over the competition. As a result, they attract much more passionate customers.

The biggest caveat to this concept is that it can’t be just for show. To reap these benefits and connect people to your brand, your company must genuinely communicate your meaning beyond money with an authenticity that comes directly from your core.

The trick is to lead with meaning while, at the same time, effectively marketing your product. The best way to do this is by completely intertwining them so that no one thinks of your product without considering your meaning, and no one ponders your meaning without connecting it to your product.

This can be accomplished in a few ways. Read More

Arthur reading

Nuggets of Knowledge: March 2015

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In accordance with our new NOKlist protocol, the other half of the team speaks! And as you can expect from any cross-section of the Mack Web team, we’ve got a mixed bunch of food-for-thought for your noggins today.

Obsession and follow-through, integrated marketing and dubious GIFs, the joys and perils of being the New Kid: we like to keep you guessing.

(If you’re at all familiar with our past NOKlists, you’re well accustomed to such an eclectic mix. If you’re new, you’re in for a treat.)

So sit back and enjoy Nuggets of Knowledge, March 2015 edition. You won’t regret it.

(Well, you probably won’t regret it … allowing for context. If you miss the birth of your first child or the signs of an impending tiger attack because you were completely engrossed in our NOKlist, you might regret it. Maybe.)


Rebecca’s Pick

The Idea Person

by Julie Zhuo

Rebecca

Rebecca

I have a deep-buried secret that I’ve never admitted to anyone but my husband and a trusted few, for I felt it would bring shame upon my kind and kin.

I’ve never completed all five seasons of Chuck.

You see, at around season 2, watching this should-have-been-my-favorite-TV-show got more difficult. I had to endure a whole lot of love angst and an insecure leading man before getting to the good spy stuff. At that time in my life, Chuck was a good idea, but I just didn’t have what it took to follow through to the end.

There’s a lesson to be learned here, and Julie Zhuo talks all about it in her recent post about the follow-through person. (There’s no mention of Chuck, but she does mention a lotus and Final Fantasy.) Yet she doesn’t just talk about the follow-through person – she celebrates her.

We are indeed a culture that celebrates the idea person. But what about the ones who endure through the muck and mire of research, planning, revisions, revisions, revisions … to finally emerge at the end with a fully realized idea? As part of a great team of muck and mire sloggers, I nearly wept after reading Julie Zhuo’s post. I didn’t feel like I was laying face-down in the trenches. I felt hands-raised-in-the-air celebrated.

Lesson: “Nothing thrills like the promise of a good idea. Nothing happens without the follow-through.”

Life application: T minus 24 episodes

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Mike’s Pick

A True Goal Needs to Become an Obsession

by Joe Desena

Mike

Mike

When it comes to setting the bar and accomplishing things in life, I’ve always admired those that cross the line of liking something to becoming utterly obsessed. It’s one thing to run a marathon, which is on my list, but it’s another thing to be an ultramarathon runner. As you’ll see in this article, Michael Wardian was obsessed with being the fastest person to run a 50k.

It takes that kind of determination to be successful; OK, maybe not as crazy as Michael Wardian got, but you get my point. In their lives and careers, too many people fail to set their goals high enough or quit before they get there. I like the quote in this article that states, “People cheer at the starting and the finish line. The middle miles need mental toughness.”

And that’s very true, especially for a business. Starting a business is always shiny in the beginning and usually gets tough in the middle. Personally, the middle miles are what excite me the most about coming to work everyday. Those are the miles where you learn, test, build, and reflect on a daily basis. And all the skills you build will serve you well beyond the finish line. Because if you think about it, the finish line isn’t really the end, it’s the start of something new. A new challenge, a new record, a new experience that ultimately shape who you are today.

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Courtney’s Pick

The GIF of Gab: The Mundane Politics of Animated Images

by Megan Garber

Courtney

Courtney

It’s not a long article and it’s not even terribly deep: a brief commentary on the falling barriers between political media and PR. It’s also not surprising that even the House Judiciary Committee – an important body that goes largely unheeded by most of the population that falls outside the Beltway – is resorting to GIFs these days to communicate its point.

But two interesting things struck me as I was perusing the Committee’s offering.

Now, I love a good GIF as much as the next person (there’s one of llama rejection that I find particularly delightful and I have a whole collection of famous people doing stupid dance moves that I like to circulate when I feel the office environment is becoming oppressive). But no one has ever claimed them as a particularly high-brow form of communication. Nevertheless, it turns out, it is possible to do a GIF post very badly indeed. All respect to the Committee, but…this is clearly not their media department’s forte. What I actually took away from that realization though is: if you can tell that something has been done poorly, that means that you can also recognize when it has been done well. I tend to be a strictly-words kinda girl for effective communication, so it was a reminder to think outside my comfort zone (and other mangled cliches).

On a related and almost contradictory note, the second thing that struck me reading this article was that all this talk we’ve been talking about ensuring everything your marketing does is genuine and authentic and comes from the core of who you are – it’s really, actually true. Not that I doubted it, but I saw it in action in two ways. First, you can’t count on flashy gimmicks to set you apart: everyone is using them. (Like, everyone.) Second, I have actually never been less impressed with the House Judiciary Committee. Their struggle to be relevant has actually just made them look like a bunch of suits desperately trying to ‘be chill, dudes.’ In ceding the gravitas and general self-importance that one expects from an elite group of our governing body, they’ve actually torpedoed what they were trying to say.

In short, it’s important to tailor your message to your audience. Absolutely. But you should do it without losing your grasp on who you are and what makes you powerful.

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Beth’s Pick

The First 90 Days: Your Road Map for Success at a New Job

By Scott McDowell

Beth

Beth

I’ve recently joined Mack Web as the Content Strategist. It’s a new role for them and a new role for me. Prior to this, I spent 8 1/2 years as the director of communications for the alumni association of a large, public, land-grant institution.

Now that I am in a totally new industry, a small office space, and working with a team of 10 (instead of hundreds), I am in the backseat, watching out the window, wondering and waiting. It’s a strange place to be. I’m accustomed to being the driver – or at least the navigator – and right now I’m a passenger, listening and watching and taking it all in.

This article from Scott McDowell, published at 99U, is a re-cap of The First 90 Days by Michael Watkins, and gives a five-step roadmap for surviving and succeeding in a new job. These 5 steps are a great guide for tempering your urge to dive in, building your relationships with new co-workers, and clarifying expectations and needs from the boss.

I’m glad I’ve done a few of the steps – I could improve on some of the others – and it’s helpful to know that it’s common to feel inept and anxious to jump in. So, though it’s difficult, I shall sit down, buckle up, and listen hard. It won’t be long, I’m sure, before the lay of the land becomes clear and I can start to navigate the path.

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Ann’s Pick

6 Creative Ways to Integrate Social Media and Email Marketing

by Jimmy Daly

Ann

Ann

It’s no secret that I heart the guys over at Vero. Jimmy & Chris are a) super smart b) authentic & transparent and c) extra friendly and approachable. I mean, does it get much better than that?

That’s why I was pleasantly surprised to see this Buffer article was written by none other than Jimmy Daly from Vero.

Speaking of people I heart, our very own Ayelet is definitely at the tip top of that list. And this article is all about our two worlds colliding – social & email. If you haven’t heard it a hundred times yet, we’re all about the integrated experience here at Mack Web. Our fearless leader pushes us to avoid the silos of our individual channels. All of our strategies are about using the channels together to accomplish big goals for our clients.

Since the path to conversion isn’t always as linear as we’d like it to be, we create the experience everywhere – before, during, and after conversion. And that’s right where this post from Jimmy comes in handy. He presents six tactics for integrating your social & email channels so the experience carries seamlessly between the two.

This post is super practical with screen shots walking you through every step. So, give it a read and plan afternoon tea date with your social & community strategist (or coffee or beer with whatever role your social/email counterpart fills).

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Nuggets of Knowledge April 2014

Purpose, Integration, and Understanding: Conversion Optimization Beyond the Landing Page

By | Web Marketing | No Comments

A Mack Web Webinar (Thanks, Unbounce)

Mack (and the rest of our dedicated team) was tickled pink – nay, fuschia – at the opportunity to create a webinar with the great folks over at Unbounce. We love their stuff on conversion. So we were excited to shed our particular wavelength of light on the subject, namely all of the ways to optimize the potential for conversion before and beyond just the landing page.

If you were among the brilliant (and potentially allergen-avoidant) people who signed up for the webinar, you know we had some technical difficulties. (We can neither confirm nor deny an encounter with a rip in the time-space continuum that sent our entire office back to the Dark Ages of 1994, well before the ascendance of Wi-Fi. That said, certain persons have been singing Can You Feel The Love Tonight for the last three days. Draw your own conclusions.)

But we’re back on track with some bonus treats. Unbounce has released the full recording of the webinar and, if you’ve got 45 minutes, you should definitely take a gander.

Since we couldn’t hold a live Q&A with the webinar, we did an Ask Mack Anything session on March 31st, instead. Check out that conversation on Twitter (all relevant tweets have been tagged with #UnwebinarAMA).

And, as is our custom, we also have, for your edification and perusal, the full deck here. It is, as per usual, a beauty with plenty of brains behind it.

And just in case you’re in a super big hurry, we’ve pulled out some key takeaways. Just for you. (Can you feel the love tonight?)

Key Takeaways

Customers connect and participate with you on many levels. They have high expectations. Don’t trick them into clicking a button.

Successful conversion doesn’t start with a beautiful landing page. It starts with building a better business from the inside out.

Unbounce Webinar - IMAGES.014

If you’ve put in the work to improve your business as much as you promote it, conversion gets a lot easier.

Unbounce Webinar - IMAGES.017

If you create a cohesive and genuine experience for your customers at every possible point of interaction – your landing pages, website, blog, social media, email, on the phone, at events, on the street – you’re presenting customers with something they can hold onto and believe in over the course of your entire relationship with them. (More on that in a minute.)

People notice and are drawn to companies that display and prove a meaning beyond money.

Before you can build that cohesive and genuine experience, you need to articulate the purpose and passion that sits at the heart of your business.

Unbounce Webinar - IMAGES.025

That core can take any shape: a shoemaker that thinks everyone should have basic necessities, a toy company that believes girls can be scientists too, an outdoor gear supplier that promotes social and environmental responsibility, a direct selling company that yearns to change women’s lives.

Whatever that purpose, it’s going to drive all of your conversion efforts.

Unbounce Webinar - IMAGES.039

Once you know why you get out of bed in the morning, it’s time to make sure that your outsides – the ways and means by which you interact with your customers – match your insides.

All of your efforts should work together to drive your customers to conversion.

We have a client. They just so happen to be a direct selling company that loves the wine they bottle but yearns to change the lives of the women who work with them. Our efforts to help them convert more leads into ‘Wine Guides’ did include a landing page upgrade.

We went from this – a generic, promotional page:

Unbounce Webinar - IMAGES.033

To this – a profile of a real, live Wine Guide including her vital stats, her story, candid photos of her at work and play, video of how the company changed her life, and a call-to-action at the end:

Unbounce Webinar - IMAGES.048

Actually, we built three of ‘em.

But that’s hardly all we did:

  • Before anything else, we identified and prioritized the top 3 persona groups to make sure we were targeting the right people.
  • Then we did the interviews and built the landing pages.
  • We created supplemental blog posts that drove traffic to the landing pages, fully supported by one-to-one outreach on social media.
  • We created targeted email marketing campaigns that drove traffic to the relevant blog posts.
  • We created a buzz on social media, fostering the relationships that our authentic posts attracted and amplifying our reach with paid efforts.
  • We set up an engaging and automated email response to follow up on all form submissions, continuing the conversation via inbox and telephone and clarifying the next steps.

All of this was to make the message clear:

Unbounce Webinar - IMAGES.035

Landing pages are important to conversion, no doubt. But they don’t stand alone.

Done right, conversion takes time to pick up speed but becomes unstoppable.

Here’s the downside, the fine print, the hard truth to expect. All that stuff we did for the client?

Unbounce Webinar - IMAGES.069

Conversion doesn’t happen overnight. But the efforts that come from the genuine core of your company are built for longevity, for relationships that endure. You want to be in your customers’ lives for a long time. If they believe in what you’re doing, they start doing the promotion and conversion work for you, becoming lifelong advocates of your brand.

A successful conversion experience will result in more than form submissions.

Which is not to say that lead form submissions aren’t important or can’t be achieved. In the year we worked on those integrated landing pages efforts, our lead form submissions went up by 57%.

Unbounce Webinar - IMAGES.071

But we also saw a 71% increase in traffic to the site and the consequent brand awareness. We saw a significant rise in new visitors and a huge increase in returning traffic, indicating a reinvigoration of the existing Guides belief in the brand.

Email list subscribers increased and, more excitingly, the engagement of email recipients increased by 42%.

Traffic to the site from social media sources went up by 130%, giving us new insight into how to reach the audience.

Unbounce Webinar - IMAGES.075

In fact, learning more about our audience was a huge win for this set of landing pages and the surrounding efforts.

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We targeted three types of leads: Stay-At-Home Parents (Kirby), Pathfinders (Christi), and Achievers (Debbie). The response to each landing page helped us understand which sections of the target audience were drawn by the landing pages and who was visiting the blog.

Which is to say that we came away from the landing page launch with not only an increase in conversions but a better understanding on how to get more as we move forward.

(Not to mention an increase in brand awareness, increased enthusiasm from potential brand evangelists, and tacit permission to keep persuading leads who haven’t quite committed yet.)

Unbounce Webinar - IMAGES.077

Aren’t you sorry you missed it?

Like we said, you’ve definitely got a chance to learn more about the glories of a fully-optimized, fully-integrated conversion process. You can check out the recorded webinar, go through the whole deck above, or tune in to Ask Mack Anything.

Or, y’know, sign up for our email below. This isn’t the last time we’ll be talking about meaning beyond money or the best of all possible user experiences.

And maybe one of these days, we’ll even get permission to either confirm or deny the time-space thing. In the mean time: Hakuna Matata!

Using Focus to Build Long-Term Momentum in Responsive Companies

By | Building Community, Business Stuff, Mack's Musings, Social Media, Web Marketing | 2 Comments

focus-mack-web

If you take all of the lessons we’ve learned over the last 11 years, add them up, and extract the most telling insight, the biggest realization is this: the clients who have been most successful are those who are willing to focus.

Focus is the ultimate challenge. We have a finite amount of time. How do you spend it on the right things that will grow your business?

Many of the companies we work with are Responsive or inherently become more Responsive as they work through our approach to marketing. Where traditional companies often allow their long-term planning and projections to drive the direction of the business (and their marketing), Responsive companies embrace the unpredictable and rapidly changing world we’re living in.

Responsive companies are a different kind of animal. They learn, respond, and advance. They utilize a more progressive method to build their businesses, one that is dedicated to constantly evolving and iterating — both their organizational structure and products or services. They also spend a lot of time investing and listening to their customers and their employees.

It’s definitely more work to be Responsive, but these companies are using their businesses to change our lives and leave their mark on our world.

Responsive companies run on operating systems that allow for agility. They move quickly and respond to unrelenting change with grace. They have different values and cultures and support flexible work environments that many companies envy.

Responsive companies hold themselves to a higher set of performance standards and expectations and actually achieve them. They work to communicate and collaborate. They honor transparency and community. Most importantly, they prioritize meaning ahead of money.

Responsive companies are remarkable and they build their organizations, and ultimately their brands, differently. And that requires a very different approach to marketing. Marketing that will provide focus so that goals are accomplished. Marketing that constantly evolves just as quickly as their company does, but without adding to the chaos.

If you want to be a Responsive company, you have to do it through and through, including your marketing. Every part of a Responsive company’s marketing should align with everything that makes the company Responsive. This requires a focus on two fundamental things:

[1] A Focus on Core
Especially as you grow, there must be a sustained focus on the core of the company and the stuff that makes you authentic.

[2] A Focus on an Adaptive Marketing Process
In order to accomplish company-wide brand and revenue goals, you need an adaptive process that lives and breathes within the company’s operating system.

Doing both of these things will keep you on target and add to the durability of your company. Even more, it will provide the focus and necessary momentum toward achieving the company’s long-term vision.

Here’s how it works.

A Focus On Core

As a Responsive company, your marketing is going to follow the same paradigm as your overall perspective: it focuses first and foremost on your core.

This, by far, is the most admirable characteristic of Responsive companies because at their core lives their higher purpose. Something truly authentic that propels the organization and transcends their desire to exist solely for the sake of profit.

Prioritizing meaning over money doesn’t mean your company has to lead an environmental cause, put shoes on people’s feet, or glasses on people’s faces. It can be as simple as encouraging young girls to develop an affinity for science or helping stay-at-home moms find more satisfaction in their lives by building a successful business.

Focusing on core and valuing meaning over money doesn’t mean you’re disregarding the importance of financial benchmarks. It means you’re investing in the long game. From the core meaning of the company you derive the marketing goals that are going to make you the company you want to be.

At the top are your Visionary goals, driving the 3-5 year bigger, hairier, audacious vision.  These goals are then broken down into approachable Business and Brand goals that share equal weight. In other words, the financial benchmarks you want your company to achieve are certainly important, but so are the Brand goals that will ensure you’re continually working toward realizing the company you really want to become.

Finally, Campaign goals are what initiate the necessary steps toward action and bringing everything to fruition (which I’ll explain more about in a just a bit).

Meaning Beyond Money | Mack Web

When a company has the courage to focus on their core and build an authentic brand from meaning, they have clarity about why they exist.  They’ve identified their heartbeat, the real thing that makes them go, and they choose to infuse that in everything they do. This is what drives their marketing and it’s also what makes their marketing go a little differently.

When a company operates from core meaning, marketing momentum starts at the source and naturally works its way out through integrated strategy. On the inside, the company is aligning all tactics and deliverables with their meaning, goals, and vision. On the outside, customers and community get to taste that authentic core first-hand, connecting them fully to the brand.

Just like building a Responsive company, marketing from your core is hard work as it is an ongoing challenge in self-awareness. Companies don’t have to be perfect, but they must be real, authentic, transparent, and above all, human.

When you can do that, people will genuinely respond to you. When you respond like a human who cares about something, you provide a better user experience. Your customers remember you. You stand out. They return. They tell their friends.

By focusing on core in your marketing,  people become your momentum. Before you know it, you have a community of loyal advocates and an inexplicable strategic advantage over the competition.

Over time, the organic velocity becomes unstoppable.

Improving, Not Just Promoting

In order for your marketing to align with everything that makes you Responsive, there must be a continual focus not only on defining your core purpose but on ensuring that everything you do — the marketing campaigns you execute; the user, customer, and employee experience you provide; the way you operate and communicate internally — aligns with the vision, mission, and goals that make up your brand’s foundation.

Ultimately, for marketing to bring momentum, there has to be a willingness to improve the business, not just promote it.

This requires continuous evaluation, improvement, and a willingness to be self-aware in the business. It’s doing what sometimes may be harder or take longer to experience ROI because that’s what’s best for your employees and for your customers. It’s putting an emphasis on important stuff like improving internal structure, team communication, fostering your internal culture, and investing in the personal growth of your employees as well as the external culture you have with your customers.

You must continually work on your company’s value and own what truly makes you different from your competition. The authentic vision that you’re driving toward needs to be revisited from time to time, not just put on auto-pilot. You’ve got to hold your entire company accountable for living your mission and values every single day. All of that stuff sounds great, but it takes a tremendous amount of dedication and work.

There’s an important marketing framework to developing your brand’s foundation, too, that improves the business and contributes to the success of your marketing. Persona must be developed and remain dynamic so that you’re attracting those customers who align with your approach, values, and over time will become loyal advocates. Communication loops must be built in and feedback applied so that customers and employees know you’re listening. Critical (yet simple) questions must be asked and answered so that resources can be developed for your audience and provided at every point in the lifecycle.

Investing in your core requires building meaningful relationships one by one. It’s seeing your goals through even when you don’t think you’re going to reach them.  It’s intentionally selecting priorities and spending time executing integrated strategies that strive for consistency and integrity across channels. These are all of your building blocks and they’re what place your responsive company on a solid foundation.

Momentum Comes From Building Blocks

No matter how long a company has been in business or what stage they’re in, momentum towards realized goals and fulfilled benchmarks comes from focusing on all of these core, foundational building blocks. Over time then, and through your marketing, you’re able to radiate your authenticity and the internal work you’ve been doing on your core, outward. This may seem fluffy, but in actuality, all of this work is what builds an ideal experience with your brand that you can actually measure.

Time spent on the brand’s foundation ensures that no matter how someone connects with your company — a referral from a friend, on social media or your website, clicking through on an ad, attending an event, speaking to customer service, or picking your product off the shelf in a big-box store — you present the same message, meeting and exceeding their expectations. You’re real, you’re human, you are the company you said you would be because of your investment on improving your business and in your core.

This level of commitment to core focus certainly requires a level of diligence and intention. It’s also something that can be managed with an adaptive process.

A Focus On an Adaptive Marketing Process

This authentic approach to marketing is a long, organic game. The inherent challenge with a Responsive company is that there are always so many opportunities along the way. So many shiny things that you want to embrace with enthusiasm as they provide another chance to iterate and try something new.

The problem is, this is also what perpetuates campaign-centric-shiny-thing marketing that makes it difficult to integrate across channels and teams, accomplish company-wide brand and revenue goals, and experience long-term progress. That’s why you need a process that helps you identify and focus on the right strategic priorities to stay the course,  but also gives you room to adapt.

It’s easy for Responsive companies to struggle with process because it can be difficult to implement and utilize one without feeling suffocated by it. Without allowing it to drive or sacrificing flexibility. Rather than stifle, process should provide guardrails for momentum.

Responsive companies may be drastically different from month-to-month. The challenge becomes making the commitment to slow down so that they can also speed up. As companies pass through different stages of growth, priorities become a moving target. This lack of focus impedes momentum. When it comes to marketing, Responsive companies need an iterative process — a cycle that ebbs and flows with the rhythm of the business — to help them identify and prioritize areas of focus and then provide the necessary structure to see them through.

Something like this:

 Responsive Process | Mack Web

Focusing and Adapting: 90 Days at a Time

When you’re aligning your marketing with your core and using an adaptive process to drive it, strategic priorities — and the tasks required to accomplish them — will ultimately fall into three categories: acquisition, conversion, and retention. Your focus may fall more heavily in one of these areas at any given time.

Let’s say your company is just starting out with this approach and you’re carefully placing the building blocks of your core (going back to identify your meaning beyond money, your values, your mission, vision, and goals).

Focusing on Core | Mack Web

Before you jump into your first 90-day cycle, you’ve identified your strategic priorities for accomplishing your Campaign goals (that stem from Business and Brand Goals), and for this time period, your strategic priorities lie in acquisition (and awareness) and retention.

Strategic Priorities | Mack Web

So, for this first 90 day cycle, 75% of your marketing resources and bandwidth will be spent executing deliverables that drive acquisition. You may be making the necessary adjustments to the copy on your website and on social media to better align with your authentic voice and communicate your meaning beyond money, focusing more heavily on the value you provide for your customers and community.

You may be creating additional copy on your website and blog to answer the questions your actual customers have (based on your persona research) as they’re experiencing your brand through the variety of phases and channels on which they interact with you.

The other 25% of your marketing efforts for this time period may be spent focusing on retention and the customers you already have. Listening and learning from them, understanding what they need, and then driving strategic priorities from there. Maybe, as part of a test phase, you’re curating content and talking with your community (both on and offline), using targeted social campaigns to test and gather information about what really speaks to them.

All of these efforts are essentially iterations that take place in 30-day increments. Your focus is on executing, testing, and collecting data that will help you better identify how to accomplish those goals you’ve set, and to make informed decisions about direction moving forward.

Iteration- Mack Web

As you go about your merry way, executing on these strategic priorities and associated deliverables, at 30-day intervals, your team will work through an exercise called Catapult where they will review data and also consider intuition to identify red flags, challenges, and opportunities. Most important, during Catapult, the pulse of the company is evaluated in order to determine whether deviations from tactics being executed need to occur. Then your focused efforts continue as planned, or are adjusted, and the cycle (and your momentum) continues.

At approximately the 60-day mark in the 90-day cycle, strategy is scrubbed at a deeper level:

  • What is generating the most momentum?
  • What has become a larger priority during this cycle because of what you’ve learned through testing and iteration?
  • Do you need to adjust the balance between Business and Brand focus during this cycle?
  • Based on what you’ve learned and what’s changed in the business, in the 90 days ahead of you, does acquisition, conversion, or retention take the largest precedence?
  • Ultimately, are you accomplishing the right things in the short-term to eventually (in many cycles) reach your long-term goals?

Responsive Process Scrub | Mack Web

The more cycles completed, the more momentum that builds and the more the process becomes ingrained in the natural routine and flow of the company. Every 90 days, strategic campaigns get better at integrating together and becoming more seamless, building continuity across teams and channels.

Then, as you accomplish the smaller Campaign goals each cycle, you’re slowly chipping away at achieving bigger Business and Brand Goals, and eventually, reaching the Visionary goals and mission you’re working toward for your company overall. Over time, all of the efforts build on each other, not only bringing momentum, but long-term value and durability to the company.

Responsive Process | Mack Web

The most important thing to remember about focus when using an adaptive process like this is that it doesn’t mean you just put your head down and drive. This is where self-awareness comes in. This is where you’re being accountable for aligning with your core and your meaning beyond money. It means getting to know your business better so that you can make better decisions. It means spending more time listening to your customers and your employees, all the while learning and adapting as you work your way up the mountain.

Mountain of Success

Playing the Long Game

Responsive companies are powerful, world-changing entities. They are bold, agile, and lead with authenticity and meaning. Their approach to marketing should most certainly follow suit.

But this kind of approach isn’t easy and it takes companies who have the diligence to be intentional. Companies who are committed to investing in their core and the foundation of their brand even when they’re not brand new. Companies who can be alive, self-aware, and present, and also see the value in taking the time to focus so that they can strategically play the long game.

By really focusing on conveying their central meaning to their very human audience, responsive companies light the spark of connection and interest and real, solid value that will ignite the engine of their growth. By following a reliable, adaptable, cyclic process, they can keep that motion going, meeting both Brand and Business goals.

Most important, they can effectively communicate why they exist, from their very soul, which will foster communities full of advocates, continue to shape a durable foundation, and sustain a strategic advantage in the marketplace. All it takes is a little focus for the momentum to build and the company to continue to thrive.

Arthur reading

Nuggets of Knowledge: February 2015

By | Nuggets of Knowledge | No Comments

nuggets-of-knowledge

Most of you know the drill for Nuggets of Knowledge by now: we read a whole lot of stuff, choose the very best of it to share with you, add our unique voices to the commentary, and leave you in peace to enjoy our brilliance and the brilliance of those we admire. It’s a good system. It works.

Which is why, of course, we’ve decided to change it up a bit. The team is growing and rather than overwhelm you with so much monthly genius, we’ve decided to split it up a little. So this month, you’ll be hearing from half the team. The other half will share next month. And so on and so forth. Really, we’re just trying to keep your brains from exploding with all the amazing-ness that we have to share.

So dive right into this month’s NOKlist, rife with office and team dynamics, data on user behavior, and some great tips for personal information. Plus our shining faces.

Well, half of our shining faces.

Er, that is…the shining faces of half our team. No faces were halved in the making of this NOKlist. We swear.

Nor any other NOKlist for that matter. Seriously, check out our NOKlist archive. All faces, entirely intact.


Rebecca’s Pick

Overwhelmed? Simplify Complex Tasks with a List

by Tanner Christensen

Rebecca

Rebecca

This article is dedicated to anyone who has ever had too much to do. If that’s not you, then please back away slowly lest you incur the wrath of the overwhelmed.

For the rest of us, we can rein in those tasks that never seem to get done because they seem just too darn big to start. And it all starts with the art of list making.

Tanner Christensen helps us understand that complexity can in fact be the enemy of accomplishment. But perhaps all you need is a list to save the day.

Let’s start with this one:

1. Identify that task that, for some reason, you don’t want to do. Instead you keep binge-watching Scrubs because Netflix told you they were going to remove it and yet you were only three-fourths of the way through the nine-season series, but then after weeks of watching 3-5 episodes a day they took off that warning (lying bastards).

2. Read this article.

3. Make your list.

4. Bask in your success.

5. Finish Scrubs at a reasonable cadence and let your husband watch his Nova documentaries for crying out loud.

Read the post


Olivia’s Pick

Why Your Team Needs Rookies

by Liz Wiseman

Olivia

Olivia

“I have no idea what I’m doing, but I know I’m doing it really well.” – Andy Dwyer, Parks and Rec (also me, multiple occasions)

Before I read this article, I didn’t think being a rookie was an awful thing necessarily, but I definitely didn’t think it was desirable.

Career wise (and life wise), it seems like being an expert or a veteran, with experience and knowledge on your side, is advantageous to being a rookie, who has lots to learn (and inevitably lots of mistakes to make), yes?

This article shows you why that’s not totally true. It explains why rookies one, are underestimated, and two, are something a team needs. I’ll let you discover the specific reasons, but think an eagerness to learn and experiment, a willingness to explore unconventional options, and an aptness for just jumping in and doing the dang thing. In fact, having a knowledge or skills gap can be hugely advantageous. (Counterintuitive, right? But this idea actually makes a lot of sense once you read about it.)

I especially liked this because in an industry like, say, integrated marketing, things change quickly, so there’s a good chance that sometimes, you’ll feel like a rookie even if you’ve been around for a while. Sometimes I find this slightly frustrating, but it turns out that having that rookie mindset is valuable. And, bonus: anyone can adopt it, regardless of their age or career.

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Nat’s Pick

6 things we learned from website use in 2014

by Keir Gibson and Gavin Holland

Nat

Nat

As a designer, I find data helpful. It helps me figure out how my design is going to address user needs, behaviours, and small improvements needed in a website’s design. This, of course, is done by looking at data which is unique to said website.

But you know what else I’ve realized? It’s also crucial to stay up-to-date on larger trends and behaviours, pulled from a larger pool of data. Looking at a larger sampling of data helps me understand the wider themes of user behaviours, which in turn helps me become a better designer (rather than an out-dated one). That’s why I’m sharing this post by Keir Gibson and Gavin Holland for this month’s NOKlist. Gibson and Holland looked at data from 2014 and analyzed usage-related stats from more than 25 sites, and came up with some interesting findings.

They touch on 6 key things:

1. Device trends
2. Browser trends
3. Top traffic-driving channels
4. Social network referrals
5. Landing pages
6. User behaviour

You don’t have to be a designer to find this data useful. If you’re an online marketer, a business owner, or just someone interested in user behaviour from 2014, then check this article out and see what you learn.

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Mack’s Pick

Why Yammer Believes the Traditional Engineering Structure is Dead

By Kris Gale, VP of Engineering at Yammer

Mack

Mack

As Mack Web continues to grow, I seek insight that will help us better structure our team for efficiency, balance, and better serving our clients while staying true to our responsive nature and extremely collaborative culture. Although we are not a team of engineers, there are many parallels in Kris’ post that provide food for thought as the Mack Web team increases in size.

The biggest realization I had while reading Kris’ post was from this piece:

“If you’ve broken up work…where the top-level managers have to divide tasks and then delegate them, you’re doing it wrong. If the individual who’s actually implementing the code spots something that’s wrong with the spec, he or she has to propose a change all the way up the ladder, which then has to filter back down. It’s a blocking process and will bring product development to a halt. Meanwhile, the other engineers in different parts of the organization will see this as churn since they’re not working closely with the engineer who proposed the change. They won’t understand the rationale behind the revision itself.”

Even when you’re a small company, it’s really easy to over-think structure and put roadblocks where they don’t belong. As we work to identify the quickest way to delegate tasks throughout the team and spend more time on action and less time on planning, this post provides some great advice.

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Ayelet’s Pick

Madam C.E.O., Get Me a Coffee

by Adam Grant & Sheryl Sandberg

Ayelet

Ayelet

What?! A departure from my regular posts in our Nuggets of Knowledge about analytics, social media, and community?! Am I feeling alright? Yes, I feel fine and yes, I am taking a break from those wonderful topics this month. This article about women in the workplace really spoke to me. Because although I now work in an office of mainly women, I – like most women who have been in the workplace for any length of time – have faced these issues, even though we may not realize them explicitly or we’ve talked ourselves out of recognizing what exactly is going on.

Adam Grant and Sheryl Sandberg write about how women work and how that style can affect the opportunities they get offered at work. This article isn’t just great for other women to read; it is a must for everyone to read. It doesn’t male bash and there’s real research behind what they say. Adam and Sheryl (we’re on a first-name basis now) stir up a hopeful discussion on how the current situation for women in the workplace can be reversed. Please check it out and pass it on.

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Nuggets of Knowledge April 2014