Archive for April, 2012

Investing in the Future

DATE: April 11th, 2012

A client just gave us their photo resources. 40,000 photos were dropped off in a hard drive.
Gathering photo and story resources is one of the biggest challenges we face — daily.
Brian, our data base specialist, casually commented that what we received were photos, not resources.
He is bang on.
Only about one out of every hundred or so photos is actually usable. Less than 10% are high enough resolution for quality print. There is no information attached to the photos, no names, no stories.
In my wildest dreams, I imagine a client who has a Resource Library, searchable, updated, filled with video, photos, stories. When my dream is explicitly vivid, the library is cross referenced. When my dreams dance with primary colours, the library records where the resources have been used in past publications, creative work, communications and fund raising.
But in my real world, the one I live in every day, there is no Resource Library. There is simply a hard drive filled to the max with photos taken by a volunteer with a point and shoot.
Why are organizations so recalcitrant?
When I started as a Creative Director at World Vision, my boss took me into a 12 x 12 room that was filled, wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling, with boxes of photos, slides and film strips. His direction was: organize this.
We were saved by digital formats…. and World Vision International hired a full time librarian who implemented and maintained an international resource data base.
World Vision understood the power of their digital assets.
Too many organization today are short changing themselves by using less robust solutions like Flicker, Adobe products and other made for the photographer.
You see, organizations need a Resource software solution, not an digital image solution.
There’s good news here.
Shoebox, a Digital Asset Management software, is a perfect solution. Created specifically for non-profits, the software is ideal for organizations that tell stories. Ten Thousand Villages and The Leprosy Mission Canada are just two of our clients who have found the benefit of the software — and it’s completely amazing!
Call us (519-571-5058) and ask us about it. (of course, you can email as well!


DATE: April 3rd, 2012

My friend Sonja sent me a great blog from Fast Company

The article is great and worth a read…. I think it really reflects the challenge for traditional agencies to move with the times. While he describes the renaming of the team and an attempt to realign silos, the bottom line remains: Agencies, to be effective, need to be flexible enough to be client centric.

I agree with Matt; there is a new kind of chaos in the marketing world.

In the time of Mad Men, advertising consisted of print, TV , radio, outdoor and in-store advertising. Today, marketing teams are clamouring to find the right mix for their message.

The social media space is baffling on its own. I just did a little search for social media sites…. after about 340 listings, I just gave up. In March, 2010 another expert blogger, predicted the social media sites that would change your business. The five he cited are: FourSquare; Google Buzz; Loopt; Blippy; Groupon. FourSquare and Groupon are still around. Google Buzz dropped off to make room for Google+, Blippy just smashed into the ground with some media exposure and a general lack of interest (sigh — that’s 13 million of investors dreams). Loopt was successfully purchased by Green Dot.

So is the world really a new place?

I think the biggest change is the power of the customer. Today, as the rapid rise of Pinterest illustrates, consumers share their opinions and consumer overviews freely. In the 60’s, my opinion would go as far as my party line (a shared phone line) went (OK, seriously, I was just a very small kid at that time!). For the most part, ordinary people with ordinary lives had a small sphere of influence. Today, by the simple acts of pinning, posting, sharing and liking, the consumer’s reach is far beyond the party line.

BUT marketing intelligence continues to influence the customer.

That hasn’t changed. If anything, brands carry an inordinate power over the consumer, because owning the brand gives the consumer power. I was listening to some on-the-street interviews a few days ago. They were done in downtown Toronto. The interviewer was prodding ordinary people on the streets to see if their loyalty to Canadian would keep them loyal to the flailing RIM.

The responses were predicable. You see, carrying a Blackberry in today’s market environment is synonymous with old, tired, showing a lack of innovation and, well, completely uncool. Once labeled the only tool for business. Once regularly alluded to in articles, novels and conversation… today it has lost the cool factor.

The consumers didn’t take it there by themselves.

What Matt said in his blog is completely correct, today’s advertising power comes from the integration of the message: in the digital space, the social media space, the marketing space, the retail space and the product development.

The marketing team in the organization and the agency must work together, step by step, to walk through the chaos and intelligently choose the platforms, media outlets and social media partners to work with.

Barefoot recently let the idea of a Facebook account go. Why? Because it just isn’t in our interest. The active audience on Facebook is not our audience. My friend Ryan, who is building a wedding photography business, is flourishing on Facebook — it’s the right match for him. But my friend Ryan is not sending out flyers to neighbourhoods — he’s leaving that to Loblaws and Future Shop.

As an MA of Literature, I’m pumped about the new world. It’s about telling stories in ways that intrigue, captivate and motivate your audience. It’s always been about that, but the old “rules” of serif fonts and outer envelope tricks are more complicated now.

It’s a little like writing free-form poetry. The Modernists were great at it — because the whole purpose of the poetry echoed their desire to be free, to be unique and to be purposefully. With every poem they wrote, they broke rules — purposefully and meaningfully. Almost a century later, today’s generation struggles to understand the poetry because they don’t understand the rules.

I believe that advertising strength comes from:
1. Your brand… don’t let the consumer build it. All the great brands are deliberate about building their brand. Look at McDonald’s — today they understand that their brand has shifted. They are responding by building a whole new brand. The essence of the original brand still resonates, the the new brand is talking to a new audience.
2. Your audience… and the heart reasons they love your brand. Steve Jobs had that down pat. This isn’t about technology or actually performance, it’s about loyalty and love.
3. Live where your audience lives…. As a creative director, I have long learned that what I like intuitively is meaningless. The magic happens in the data. Watching sales figures, hits on web sites and responses to marketing by measurable data will get you ahead of the game.

The Golden Age… What do you think?