Istanbul from the Bosphurus. See the whole set on my photography site.

Coke’s new marketing strategy in an amazing video

Apr 25 | Comments (0)

Coca-Cola has posted a video (Part One, Part Two) which details the new approach they are taking with their overall marketing for foreseeable future. This is a remarkable video both for how open they are about the process/plan and for the ideas themselves. This isn't about tactics (although they mention some and you'll want to keep your freeze-frame finger handy), it's about the overall idea of where they want to go with marketing, testing, measurement, etc.

I realize that Coke has what seems like unlimited budgets, cool brands and the best marketing people, but this video shows that even companies like Coke sometimes need to step back and recalibrate.

iPad Magazine Procurement: An Unpleasant Affair

Dec 06 | Comments (0)

Justin Williams of CarpeAqua points out the lameness of most iPad magazine apps, particularly the process for downloading new editions.

"I’m convinced that the people who actually write for magazines, edit them and publish them have never actually tried using their iPad versions for more than a few moments. If they actually did try to use their publication’s app as the actual means to read each issue, things would have to improve. Right?"

Like Justin, I love magazines. My first design job was a magazine and I subscribe to numerous publications. I want to love reading them on my iPad, but the experience just isn't there yet. Of course, the iPad experience is light years better then it is on my Kindle Fire.

There is a huge opportunity for the big publication companies to step up and make better use of the platform.  

The Social Graph Is Neither

Nov 10 | Comments (0)

Pinboard creator, Maciej Ceglowski, has written a blog post, The Social Graph Is Neither, that perfectly articulates what I've been feeling about social. Two thing in particular. First, the problems of creating, maintaining and compartmentalizing relationships online, especially in an era that has seen such a rapid development of "must participate" experiences such as Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn, etc. And second, the frustration I've felt as a user experience designer and digital marketer with the ways in which we interact (and exploit) users of these sites.

I'm busy. Or perhaps, lazy. Or both. (There's a future blog post coming on this topic if I can find the time to get off my butt and write it.)

As a busy/lazy person, the care and feeding required for all of these social networks is tiresome. And, it's complicated. Privacy settings are either non-existent (Twitter) or complicated and inadequate (Facebook). Something as simple as being "friends" with someone on Facebook and not having that information be available to my other friends is impossible. Which forces me to choose in a way that isn't required IRL (in real life). Say my best friend gets married and I become friends with his spouse. Then suppose they get divorced but I remain friends with both of them. I could easily find myself in a situation where publicly being friends with both of them could jeopardize my relationship with both of them. IRL, a little "don't ask, don't tell" with each of them and I can preserve at least a semblance of the relationship I had with each of them before the divorce. On Facebook, that's simply not possible. (You can easily expand this to a multitude of other situations with even more dire consequences. Worst of all, even the privacy settings that are available are complicated and time consuming to learn and implement, especially when multiplied across many different networks. I'm a user experience professional, computer programmer and a generally internet sophisticated guy. Imagine how much more difficult it might be for my grandmother. Or yours.

Which brings me to the second point Maciej so eloquently addresses in his post — the underlying use of these networks to sell stuff. I'll start with a caveat. Until recently I led the interactive group for an advertising agency. Our job was to market things and ideas through a variety of methods, and I was particularly interested in digital or online marketing. For one client we explored how you might connect all of the touchpoints they had with their customers — websites, events, point of purchase, etc — with social networks to form a complete picture of each customer. There is immense opportunity and power in that kind of data and our clients were unabashed in their desire to use that information to sell you more of their products or ideas. 

For many people, this kind of data mining for marketing purposes represents a kind of evil empire exploitation of innocent consumers. A moral/ethical quagmire that is the hallmark of twenty-first century capitalism. Others are concerned with the proliferation of vapid and tedious marketing ploys cluttering the purity of their interpersonal relationships online.  Personally, I believe that there is an small but interesting place where these two ideas intersect with a third concept I call usefulness. 

For many marketers this third concept is relevance — the idea that by providing advertising or marketing that is interesting or relevant to a particular consumer, based on their profile or relationships or whatever, we solve the first two problems. No longer will I think you are exploiting me with useless drivel, but rather welcome your message with open arms because it is a topic/brand/etc. that I am interested in. Bravo, dear marketer for engaging me on a personal level. There is some merit to this idea and it is certainly fundamental to a successful engagement between consumer and marketer, but for me, it falls short. I may explicitly (opt-in) or implicitly (like, +1, keyword) express my interest in your brand or subject area, but that doesn't mean that your ad, contest, tweet, post, etc is more then marginally better then a completely unsolicited and random ad, contest, tweet or post.

The idea of usefulness takes relevance to a new level by asking marketers to deliver their message through something I will find useful. In some cases useful is a tool and in others it can be entertainment, but in all cases the only criteria is whether the consumer looks at your message and says, "Yes, I'm better and happier for having received this thing today." A lofty goal you say? Yes. Difficult to measure you say? Certainly. Varies from person to person or even moment to moment? Quite possibly. No one ever said it would be easy. 

What do you think? Have you seen any good examples of this recently? Or particularly bad examples?



Apr 19 | Comments (0)

After ten years and a half years I am moving on from Paradowski. I've had an amazing time, worked hard, made lifelong friends and learned more then I ever could have imagined when I started.

When I first joined Paradowski it was the culmination of years of moving from job to job and learning everything that I could about being a designer. After I started I realized just how little I knew and just how lucky I was to have been given the opportunity to learn and contribute in one of the most creative, collaborative and challenging firms in St. Louis. More importantly, I have had the opportunity to reinvent myself more then once during my time at Paradowski and for that I am grateful.

This new chapter is an opportunity to pursue new kinds of projects on a different scale. I am joining the UXCC team at Perficient as a Lead User Experience Business Consultant where I will have the opportunity to work with a wide variety of technology including "big iron" systems like IBM's Websphere and to help the team explore new technologies and bring in new business. There's even some travel, which I'm very excited about, but mostly I'm excited to try something new.

Like many things in life, tenure has its pros and cons. On the upside, the longer you are with a company, the more you know and the better you understand the team, the culture and how to navigate "the system." You also gain in reputation which, if managed well, becomes the currency with which you get things done. It's what provides you with the freedom to operate without intense scrutiny of every action making it easier to get things done.

On the other hand, tenure tends to make us jaded and sometimes a little lazy. Not that you're not getting your job done, but there is a certain amount of apathy and "coasting" that can creep in and keep you from doing the things that established your reputation. Sometimes you just know too much and you're no longer able to see the possibilities, only the obstacles.

For now, I'm looking forward to getting back on the edge and experiencing the fear that comes from getting dropped into the deep end of the unknown. I'm ready to reboot.


Being Geek

Aug 09 | Comments (5)

I've been a big fan of Michael Lopp's blog, Rands in Repose for a long time as well as his previous book, Managing Humans. I just finished his new book, Being Geek, cleverly available as an iPad friendly ebook. Being Geek collects some of my favorite Rands in Repose entries with new material, resulting in the perfect handbook for the working nerd. Lopp covers everything from finding your next gig to navigating the people and situations you'll find in the average corporate ecosystem. Lopp's delivery is friendly — like an older brother dispensing the wisdom gained over years of learning the hard way — and the material is insightful and introspective without resorting to weepy-eyed navel gazing. If you're a geek or have a friend or significant other who is a geek, then Being Geek is worth a look.

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