Category Archives: Life and Technology

What Jay Baer’s book Youtility taught me

youtility_book_jay_baerAs a consumer, you probably don’t pay much attention to the profound impact that technology is having on our behavior. For example, wearable tech like the Nike FuelBand is improving our awareness of daily activity. And the more we monitor, the more easily we are encouraged to remain on track. But technology is also having the opposite effect on marketing. According to Jay Baer’s book Youtility, technology is making top-of-mind awareness, or keeping a product or service in front of a consumer, ineffective. This shift is forcing marketers to become more creative in how do they connect with consumers. Baer stitches together several arguments that have resulted in this shift:

  1. The media landscape has severely fragmented. Almost 40 years ago, a commercial airing alongside the #1 show Happy Days would capture the attention of 30 million viewer in the US. Nowadays, a “hot” show like The Walking Dead at best would have half that number of viewers. That number doesn’t seem so bad until one considers that in the US half of all cable/satellite subscribers have DVR’s and DVR users tend to skip half of all commercials. So the overall reach of TV has dropped by 75% over the past four decades.
  2. Consumers’ distrust of brands continues to grow. According to Edelman’s Trust Index Barometer, trust in businesses continues to fall year annually. edelman_trust_index_US_business_2014
  3. Consumers are extremely diligent in making buying decisions. On average, consumers rely on 10.4 sources of information before buying. While that’s a lot of research, brands have to be one of the go-to sources or miss out on the buying opportunity.

The issue at hand is the new friction between brands and consumers: today’s consumers are more elusive. And given that they are also less loyal than ever before, it is not surprising that marketers today are desperately looking for ways to deliver the right message at the right time to the right audience. From Baer’s perspective, brands focus on being helpful have a fighting chance to connect with consumers. Brands can reach this goal by producing high-quality content. That requires more than an army of one — it requires brands to mobilize their entire team. One of the striking examples in the book is OpenView Venture Partners, a 30 person shop that publishes a tremendous amount of content:

  • Daily: 1 article, 1 video
  • Weekly: podcast, newsletter, interview with business or marketing expert
  • Quarterly: 2 ebooks, 2 case studies, 2 reports, info-graphic & online assessment tool

So does this strategy actually work? Beyond reading about the case studies in the book, I’ve successfully applied this strategy in growing awareness for my agency channel. In my line of work, I help deliver technology solutions to agencies so I need to know who’s who. Early last year, I created and published a slide to Slideshare that highlighted network and non-network agencies in Atlanta. And that version of the slide received over 3,000 views in just a month! Since then, I’ve updated the slide a few times based on feedback from the agency community. Collectively, the slide has received close to 6,000 views on Slideshare over the past year. That is why I think that Jay’s book is a must-have for anyone that’s serious about marketing! Thanks to Mathew Sweezey, a marketing strategy evangelist at Pardot, who suggested that I read this book!

Top Marketing Agencies in Atlanta for Q1 2014

Late yesterday I published the new Top Marketing Agencies in Atlanta slide. This version represents a current view of network and independent agencies in our market. Here are few highlights that I want to call to your attention:

  • Added 2 Networks: Dentsu and MDC Partners.
  • Removed Engauge. It was acquired last year by Zenith Optimedia Publicis (full disclosure: Engauge was my prior employer).
  • Added several PR firms to the Independent agency category.
  • Added Brighwave Marketing and Nebo. Both were previously left off.

I also want to clarify two things regarding this slide:

A) The selection process:
For agencies that are a part of the major networks (e.g.: WPP, Omnicom/Publicis, IPG, Dentsu, MDC Partners), I simply consolidated public information. For independent agencies, I used the following qualifications:

  • Number of employees (15+)
  • Annual revenue ($3M+)
  • Prior history of digital marketing campaigns
  • News regarding new clients/engagements

The objective is to eventually consolidate the list to 100 agencies. Additional criteria may/will be used reach this objective.

B) Corrections/Updates:
If find an error or would like to be considered, please contact me at my work email address (ttishgarten at arke dot com). You may also want to subscribe to my Agency Digest email list to receive noteworthy news about Atlanta agencies and updates regarding this slide. NOTE: This is a low volume list:


And finally, there are a couple of up and coming agencies that are rapidly growing that didn’t make the cut this round:

  • Sandbox. This agency started late last year and already built an impressive client portfolio. It is run by Donovan Panone and Carla Paschke, two former colleagues of mine.
  • FortyFour Digital. This agency started early last year. It is run by Adam Roe and Thomas Frank.

If you have any other feedback, please leave it below in the comments. I hope that you find this slide to be as valuable as I have.

Getting Gmail under control: an email intervention

2911924363_e9cd37dbd8_mIt is frustrating that my personal email inbox is so out of control! It wasn’t like this in the beginning of 2013, when I had only a handful of unread messages. But by last week, I counted more than 2,000 unread messages in my inbox. While I could have just taken the “nuclear” route and deleted everything in sight, I decided on an alternative, yet still aggressive, approach to get my inbox under control.

I tackled this project in phases. I assumed that the clutter was primarily driven by the influx of commercial email: I subscribe to a variety of daily deal and technology alerts, weekly industry updates, and other monthly email newsletters. So I started with an inbox review to determine who’s the real culprit behind the clutter.

Phase 1: The inbox analysis.
I’ve been using Gmail for 9 years and while it is overall robust, Gmail does not possess some basic functionality like sorting by sender. Thankfully I found an online tool from MIT Media Lab called Immersion that visualizes your email metadata (aka, the to/cc/bcc/from information) over time. The app generated the following graph:

Each circle in the graph above represents a sender. And the line between each circle represents senders that were frequently copied on the same email.

A quick look at this graph revealed that the majority of emails were either from my wife (she’s the red circle at the center of the image above) or the people in my sons’ cub scout pack. Since both were important messages, I realized that I’d have to adjust my purge strategy by introducing a selective automation step.

Phase 2: Inbox automation.
My goal for inbox automation step was to presort and reroute emails as they hit my inbox. To accomplish this, I took advantage of the basic email management concept behind Gmail:

An incoming email message appears in the inbox by default because it is automatically tagged with the Inbox label. This label remains associated with the message until the message is archived, regardless of whether is is read (or not).

This meant that if I wanted to keep non-critical unread emails out of my inbox, I would have to strip the Inbox label and replace it with an alternate one. So to reroute emails, I created a few basic labels:

tags-list

The Bills/Buy label was created for any paperless bills (that needed to be paid) and any items that I emailed myself that I wanted to buy. The Orders/Subscriptions label was created for any confirmation or shipping notices for online order, or online services that I signed up for. The Cub Scouts label was created for scout-related emails. And finally, the Research label was created for any alerts/newsletters that I received on a regular basis.

The second step was to create “filters” that apply the right label to each incoming emails. Here’s a filter for my daily emails on ad agencies:

gmail-filter-example

The filter both removes the Inbox label from the email and applies the Research/Agency label to the message. NOTE: Even though the Inbox label is stripped, the message remains unread!

While most emails were sorted by the sender, emails for items that I wanted to buy were not easily identifiable. So I decided to tackle that issue by taking advantage of the disposable email address trick in Gmail. This trick allows me to append a plus (“+”) sign and any combination of words or numbers to my current username. I added the word “+buyit” to my Gmail address (aka, [email protected]) and then created a filter based on this address to reroute these emails to my Bills/Buy list.

Phase 3: The big purge.
Next, I went through my entire inbox and selectively deleted any unread messages that were more than 30 days old. When I came across a message that I knew I received on a regular basis, I would stop and perform an advanced search using the “from:” operator and the sender’s name. This allowed me to find all emails from a particular sender and delete them in one swift swoop.

Within a few hours, I knocked my 2,000+ unread email count down to 4 unread emails.

Phase 4 (BONUS): Unsubscribe!
As I previously mentioned, I subscribed to a variety of email lists and some were no longer relevant. As I purged emails from my inbox, I went back to and also unsubscribed from those messages that were basically junk mail. For a few that were the email simply recapped the new articles on the website, I opted for the RSS feed. That way, I could catch up on these when/if I had time.

Conclusion
Since implementing these steps, I have been able to keep my inbox down to 2 unread messages. And I resolve to adjust these in order to keep my inbox under control throughout 2014. I’ll keep you posted on my success.

How are you keeping your inbox under control? Please use the comments below to share your thoughts.

PHOTO BY Domenico / Kiuz