Friends and colleagues,

Well, it’s done.  Victory achieved.  Holy grail found and filled to the brim. Cigars distributed.  Management nirvana.  We’ve automated creativity!  Using a complex algorithm designed by a Rastafarian paleo-anthropologist, a warehouse of neurally-networked servers located in Cloud, Montana and a user interface designed by Fisher-Price, we have cracked the code and dismissed our deeply experienced creative team.  It’s a great day!  And no, I’m not serious.  And yes, some of you weren’t sure.  And yep, you bet we all should think about what that means for our future.

Ok, with that grenade lobbed, let’s take cover under this canopy of tips, insights and good ideas curated by our archers.

Tips and Topics

  1. BATNA or Bust. In business school negotiating classes we are taught that we should always have a Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement in our proverbial back pocket when trying to find common ground with a counter-party.  Similarly, marketers should always ask internal and external strategic and creative resources to have at least three alternative plans and/or concepts at the ready when differences of opinion derail the idea you love but can’t execute.
  2. Deploy the da Vinci Code for UI Development. Leonardo believed that sculpting involved removing all the marble around the elegant figure he could already see in the blocks he imported from quarries in Carrera.  May we suggest that user interface designers view the process of site design as the removal of everything extraneous to the core design and user experience objectives.  When you view the design process as reductive vs. decorative you increase the odds of delivering the digital equivalent of the statue of David.
  3. Write Like a 6th Grade Teacher Talks. In other words, use simple, direct language in your marketing communications.  Don’t assume comprehension or understanding.  Don’t over-explain or condescend and risk losing your audience.  Obvious, right?  But many of us – I’m certainly guilty of this – have a hard time maintaining this discipline, especially tech and product marketers who have a tendency to revert to jargon.  Can’t do it?  Then spit out your gum, grab your own earlobe and drag yourself to the principal’s office.
  4. Time to Pay Your Taxonomy. User interface research tells us the way we classify information on our websites, yes, navigation, is a more important driver of the user experience than design and copy.  Yet the primary focus of most website builds and renovations is the fun stuff: the smiling faces, greens and blues, cool animations, purple prose, etc.  But if the navigation options you provide visitors don’t make sense or offer the best choices, they will leave your site even if it’s bathed in their favorite color, has their name in a neon typeface and plays looping videos of puppies making infants giggle.
  5. Integrate or Intubate. Most firms can’t afford to build awareness and consideration with so-called “above the line” media like broadcast and cable TV and radio.  But they still need to generate campaigns that deliver the five+ impressions typically needed to generate unaided awareness.  But how do you do that if you don’t have at least a few hundred thousand dollars to invest?  The simple answer is an integrated campaign.  These campaigns apply a clear, concise, unifying message and visual across a range of lower cost media channels in a sequence that ensures a thoughtfully targeted universe sees your branded communication repeatedly and efficiently in a short amount of time.  The alternative: inconsistent branding, muddled messaging and suffocatingly high media costs.
  6. Test Your Analytics IQ. Too many firms are counting and charting, and passively listening.  But too few are proactively identifying and analyzing trends that can increase revenue and lower costs.  So here are five questions you can use to gauge your analytics efforts: 1) Are you learning something you didn’t already know? 2) Are your analytics efforts helping you segment your target universe and identify the key influencers in each of those segments? 3) Are you changing your targeting and messaging as a result of the analyses you generate?  4) Have your analytics efforts allowed you to lower research costs by at least 10% and increase marketing efficiency (e.g., the cost for a new lead) by 10%+? and 5) Are you using a wide range of data sources, as opposed to data sets from only two or three social platforms?  Ok, for each “yes” give yourself 20 points, 15 for each “for the most part” and zero for “no.”  If you score less than 75, time to get yourself to study hall or summer school looms.
  7. Vanity, Thy Name is Whoa Man! This one is simple stupid, but like a lot of obvious pieces of punditry, not often observed.  What we’re suggesting:  In your marketing communications talk “up” to people, not at them. Compliment them. Respect their intelligence. Ask them their expert opinion. And heaven forbid, use their name? Why? Because like you fine, whip-smart, impossibly attractive people, we respond more favorably, more often, when our bread is being buttered. Am I wrong?
  8. A Quickie on CTAs. 85%+ of clicks on call-to-action buttons happen in the top 15% of real estate in an email or website, so make your placement of these links, buttons, etc. reflect this well-researched transactional reality.  Much like consumer package goods companies pay more for eye-level slots in grocery store shelves and retailers put their hottest-selling items in the window or front of their store, you need to make sure you are greasing the skids for consideration, response and engagement. Or, in the words of a 6th grade teacher, “make it easy to say ‘yes.’ ”

News

Here’s what we’re seeing and some of what we’re doing:

  • Three new clients have joined us from widely divergent industries.  In each case, we’re developing integrated campaign infrastructure and activity based on the new brand platform we developed.  Jargon translation: We’re doing smart creative that works.
  • We work with and on every major CRM and campaign management platform from Marketo and Eloqua to Act-on and HubSpot. But we’re seeing a major pick-up in activity on Saleforce’s Pardot. We’re now running six campaigns through this tool, and like all the other tools, Pardot can limit creative options. We’ve found some novel ways to deal with these issues. Contact us if you want to learn more.
  • Introducing an intelligence gathering capability that makes social media listening look simply old fashioned and inadequate.  Crossbow Sentiment Indexing, Tracking, Moderation and Activation will help you identify and track the audience and prospect segments driving discussion around your industry, market and brand.  It provides context and meaning vs. keyword mentions and pie-charted reports.  You’ll get actionable intelligence derived from truly “big data” (over 350 million data sources), allowing you to pre-empt competition, respond to emerging customer personas, tailor messaging in real time and much more.

Your Award
Every 3rd person who responds to this note gets some Crossbow Group swag (baseball cap, t-shirt, fleece) swag that we’re giving away as part of some spring cleaning.   In addition, we’ll emblazon your name in bronze on a wall in our lobby.  Alright, that last thing isn’t going to happen, but the gear giveaway is for realz.

As always, if I can do anything for you – make a connection, share some experience, have our studio team Photoshop your LinkedIn profile picture - please let me know.

Thanks again for patient indulgence.   Have a great day!
Best,

Jay