The Best Case Study Music in the World

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I have written case studies, I have submitted case studies for awards. And I have judged awards. But they can often be an unemotional slog.

By their nature, case studies tend toward the factual. They’re often devoid of “feelings” – and struggle to tell story of impact. But what if there was the case study equivalent of the Tenacious D song “Best Band in the World”? What if there was a way to tell a case study as a Tribute? What would that mean? And would it change things?

The good folks at ADMA have taken on this challenge – producing a song that can be readily inserted into the background of your case study video.

It’s going to turn problems, solutions and results into gold, silver and bronze trophies,” said ADMA CEO, Jodie Sangster. “The air freight bill back from Cannes next year is going to be astronomical.”

But what goes into creating the best case study music in the world? Here’s a quick video of the process, featuring many of the Australia’s leading agencies and creatives in a surprising surge of collaborative spirit.

The Case Study Song of the Year can be purchased with lifetime rights and comes with a complimentary ticket to ADMA’s Creative Fuel event, Thursday August 6 at the Seymour Centre in Sydney. It’s a chance to not only hear the live premiere of this creative masterpiece – you can also hear from some of the best creative thinkers around.

Is It Time for a Chief Brand Storyteller?

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This great presentation on content marketing and storytelling by Jonathan Crossfield got me thinking. What is it about brands, storytelling and technology that we continue to struggle with – and why is this struggle so pervasive?

Now, I see a lot of content marketing every day. There are newsletters, infographics and blog posts. Sometimes there are videos. Podcasts. Quizzes. Surveys. The variety is rich … but the quality? Well, often the quality leaves much to be desired.

Who can we blame?

Content marketing – like all marketing – has many masters. There are the internal subject matter experts to please. The brand and reputation folks to appease. And let’s not even bring up compliance/corporate affairs. Or Legal. Imagine having to include them!? Then there are the representatives from sales, product, engineering and finance – after all, someone has to pay for this.

Eventually, someone will create the brief and the creative process will kick in. It could be internally created or pushed out to an agency. There will be drafts, revisions and feedback. There will be interpretation.

And then one day there will be an approval … and your content marketing baby will be pushed out into the world. Will it work? Will it deliver a bounty?

Too often our marketing efforts end up a pale imitation of the original idea. After review upon review, interpretation upon interpretation, much of the spark and energy is lost.

It makes me think that we need a new custodian. A Chief Brand Storyteller (CBS). Someone who ensures that the story we want, need and should tell, remains intact. The CBS would:

  • Prioritise our audiences over our processes
  • Reclaim our business narratives from the tyrannies of product form and function
  • Remind us that our purpose is to serve customers, guide them, delight and surprise them.

And the CBS would also have an important technology role. So many of our brand and business narratives are generated, delivered and amplified through technology – and this impacts the story and the storytelling. The CBS needs to help brands re-imagine storytelling for our times. And this may, perhaps, be the most important aspect.

Why You Need to FOCUS – Forget Ideas, Start with Problems

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In the rush to innovate, we jump to solutions, look for silver bullets. We cool hunt. Crowd source. Idea storm.

But there is a problem with ideas. Sure they are fantastic for a fledgling startup, but they are dangerous, time consuming and unproductive for most corporates. Unfortunately, one of the first responses to a “call” for more innovation is to ask for “big ideas”.

A better approach is to forget ideas and put out a call for “problems worth solving”. It’s the approach that I have been following for years and it has distinct advantages:

  • Focus on business value – there is an immediate connection between any subsequent ideas and the business value that needs to be created
  • Ownership – you can pinpoint a “business owner” who has a vested interest in the problem being solved
  • Crowd solving – it’s easier to direct structured and unstructured teams to solve the challenge
  • Understanding and articulation – working with the problem owner means that there is a clear understanding and articulation of the challenge. It means everyone is “on the same page”
  • Systems win – in the corporate world, systems win. Taking a systematic approach to solving problems rather than pursuing ideas means that business value can be retained, capacity can be sustained and velocity can be built into (or on the edge of your business).

Once you have your problem sets, you’ll find it’s much easier to get started on that next innovation.

Selling on the Web – Landing Pages that Work

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While brand websites attract the lion’s share of marketing budgets, the great, largely hidden, power of selling on the web is driven by landing pages.

How do landing pages work?

I prefer to create landing pages with a single job in mind – to help the web visitor take the next step in the buyer’s journey. That may mean:

  • I want to change our relationship so that I know who you are – a name, email address or Twitter handle will do
  • I want to help you choose my product or service – provide some useful content such as a comparison guide
  • I want you to order – you’re ready to buy and my landing page will make that easy.

This means that my landing pages will do away with unnecessary distraction. There will be:

  • Only a single call to action
  • No menus or links that will take you away
  • Laser sharp focus on delivering you value.

There are plenty of great online tools that help you quickly create landing pages, but my favourite is Instapage. And while it is a little clunky, it integrates seamlessly into WordPress (there’s a plugin), allows for A/B testing, includes analytics (plus Google Analytics) and starts at an affordable $30 / month. Oh, and you can work with existing templates to create a launch your landing page in as little as 3 minutes.

Ok, you may want to spend a bit longer on your masterpiece, but you can do it with a drag’n’drop interface – and you don’t need technical skill.

Still need more tips? Check out the infographic from Copyblogger that provides 26 tips to help improve your landing pages.

The ABCs of Landing Pages That Work [Infographic]

Like this infographic? Get landing page advice that works from Copyblogger.

Consumer Behaviour Has Changed. Your Content Marketing Needs to Change Too

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It wasn’t really until Joe Pulizzi came along and started talking seriously and meaningfully about content marketing that anyone realised that’s what we were doing. As marketers we had been creating collateral, whitepapers, insights, case studies, quizzes, articles and presentations forever. And I mean forever. But we had been producing all this content from a particular point of view – from the inside. After all, up until social media really hit its straps, we were living in a largely broadcast – one-way communications world.

And as we had our heads down, chugging away on our daily tasks, weekly WIPs and month-end reports, something strange happened. Unexpected. Unprecedented.

The audience shifted.

It wasn’t that we weren’t paying attention. It’s that we didn’t have a response. All of sudden, people were reading reviews on the web. They were taking notice of blogs – and complaining about bad customer service. In public. The closed-loop channels that we had developed no longer held any sway. Our customers – whether they loved or hated us at the time – were taking their opinions, feedback and recommendations out of our hands (and channels) and talking directly to each other. Without us.

Fast forward a decade or so and many brands have caught up. To be honest, there has been huge acceleration over the last year or two – and content marketing leaders are rapidly outstripping and outcompeting the rest of their industries. Take a look at the work that Commonwealth Bank is doing. Or ANZ with their BlueNotes initiative. Then look at other industries.

Those that are leading the way have put in place a strategic approach to content and it is paying dividends.

As a member of the ADMA Content Marketing Expert Community, I workshopped key (and continuing issues) with content marketing with leading Australian marketers. We examined the challenges and the processes, skills gaps and opportunities. We looked into ROI and analytics, native advertising and changes in audience behaviour. The resulting whitepaper provides marketers with a solid framework for becoming more customer centric.

This seismic shift in the ability to communicate with audiences from the organisation to consumers demands a radical rethink in marketing strategy. It is no longer the case that businesses can produce marketing materials to support their product cycles. For messages to achieve cut through, organisations need to have a social licence to discuss the topic, putting permission to engage squarely in the hands of the audience. Credibility and media both need to be earned.

You can download the full paper on the ADMA website.

Qantas Hackathon: Feels Like Innovation

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After a busy first day of briefings and coding, the stage was set for the last, desperate rush to the midday deadline. Pitches were scheduled and rehearsed, last minute bug fixes were released and some even found time for a relaxing morning tea. But what, really could be created in a mere 24 hours. Would it be useful? Interesting? Would there be true innovation found amongst the lines of code and discarded lolly wrappers? Only time would tell. And time was the one thing that really was in short supply.

Here’s how Day 2 of the Qantas Hackathon played out.

The Inaugural Qantas Hackathon

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Held over the weekend of 30-31 May, we’ve been working with Qantas to host a hackathon that brings together teams of developers from across the country. How will these innovations play out? What will the teams deliver? Only time – 24 hours to be exact – will tell. Here’s the wrap of the first day.

The Cheating Strategist’s Guide to Mary Meeker’s Digital Trends

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Each year around this time, the web goes into a slow motion melt down over the much anticipated Meeker Report into internet trends.

This year is no different. And as I did last year, I will encourage you to reflect on your own business and priorities before diving head first into the report. I call it the “Three What’’s and a Why”. Consider:

  • What mattered in mid 2014?
  • What matters now?
  • What are you measuring?
  • Why are these things important?

And if you’re time poor or just bone lazy and don’t want to click through the hundreds of slides in the report, you’ll love Michael Goldstein’s summary for cheating strategists. It’s 10 times the punch at 1/10th of the effort. Now that’s what I call a good strategy.

Why Digital Marketing Transformation is Important

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I recently spent time with IBM travelling as part of their IBM Connect conference series in Auckland, Sydney and Melbourne. At each location, I hosted a panel discussion that centred on the “voice of the customer” – drawing out the experience and knowledge of panels that included ADMA’s CEO, Jodie Sangster, CIO of Tennis Australia, Samir Mahir, City of Melbourne’s Executive Manager, Commercial and Marketing, Lucan Creamer, Think Global Research’s Mark Tyler, and Twitter’s Head of Data Sales, Fred Funke.

I spent a few minutes with the IBM team to share my thoughts on why digital marketing transformation is important – and how you can use the “Marketing PANDA” to focus your efforts around customer centricity.

Social: The Present is Mobile. The Future is Wearable

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There was a time when the battle for social media was simply one of recognition. For some time, brands and businesses held out. Restricting firewall access to social networks. Directing marketing spend to broadcast. Ignoring the trending shift to digital across a range of categories – from marketing to HR, supply chain to finance.

Now, this pent up force has been loosed and it is transforming the way that we work, why we work and how we work faster than we could have anticipated. As a result, we are seeing disruption almost everywhere we look:

  • Who – this is not just about “digital natives” or “digital immigrants”. We now have no choice but to adopt a “digital nomad” perspective. We need to move with the digital times, building and refining skills, networks, and connections. It’s touching every one of us in profound ways.
  • What – we used to be able to cordon off “home” and “work”. These days, there is only what Nina Simosko calls a life continuum. What we consider work is no longer restricted to what we do and is becoming more closely aligned to “what and who we are”. This is having an enormous impact on the nature of work, the workplace and what it means to have “purposeful work”.
  • Where – the disruption began at home, in our palms and quickly spread through the networks.  But as we know, culture eats location, and that means our “where of working” is infinitely more mobile, flexible and time-shifted. This is challenging workplace structure, services and cohesion.
  • Why – We are paid to work but businesses continue to struggle with motivation, morale, and engagement. As our Baby Boomer generations retire, we will be left with a massive experience and capability gap within our organisations. To attract the best talent, we’ll need a much better understanding of the needs and expectations of our employees.
  • How – this is where the most obvious disruption and transformation is taking place. The “tools of our trades” are increasingly digital, data driven and mobile.

Kate Carruthers brings this together elegantly in this presentation made at the recent CeBIT conference in Sydney. She makes the point that we need to keep looking towards the horizon – for while the present of social is mobile. The future is wearable and the internet of things. And that future is not far away. In fact, it’s already in your pocket.