Disrupting Graphics: Now Design’s at Your Fingertips with Canva for iPad

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Canva-ipad One of the great local startup success stories, Canva – the platform that lets us all create great graphic design in an amazingly simple way – has reached a milestone – 850,000 users. This is no mean feat – especially in a world where every startup, every mature business and hoards of consultants, freelancers and the like vie for our attention, loyalty and share of wallet. With a super-intuitive yet powerful interface, Canva have made it easy for anyone to produce quality graphic design, collateral and presentations.

And by “anyone”, I mean anyone. Including me, my brother and my mother (so yes, it passes the family test). And by “quality” I mean that the results don’t look like they were produced by me, my brother or mother. They look like they’ve been done by a designer. This is largely down to the great library of ready-to-go images, design elements, templates and fonts that come with a Canva account. But it’s also largely by the Canva co-founders keeping a close eye on their advocates, user base and fans.

Speaking with co-founder, Melanie Perkins, over a year ago, it was clear that the Canva team needed to walk a fine line between democratising design – making it available to the masses – while also maintaining the goodwill, support and efforts of the design community. After all, Melanie and co-founder, Cliff Obrecht had come from a design background themselves and were actively working with designers to build out libraries of assets that could be commercialised at scale.

In just over a year, more than 5.7 million designs have been created, Guy Kawasaki has come on-board as chief evangelist, and the team has grown beyond its cute digs in the funky Sydney suburb of Surry Hills.

But not content to rest on their laurels, Canva have now released a new a full function app for the iPad.

And for me, this takes Canva into a whole new market. It puts their powerful platform into the hands of its users. Literally. And that means small business owners. Those who work in shops, restaurants and cafes. It brings ease-of-use to a new level too – with access to your iPad’s camera and camera roll, there’s no more messy transferring of images across devices. It’s all in one place – ready to be edited, filtered and combined with illustrations and images from the Canva library.

Now, I won’t lie. Canva in the hands of a good designer will astound you. And my mum’s birthday card designs, while a big hit with the family, are unlikely to end up being featured in a Hallmark promotion. But Canva is a massive step up from the entry-level tools that still dominate small businesses the world over. So say goodbye to that old Paint program, and say hello to a new universe of creativity. Download Canva for iPad here.

ADMA-Telstra Young Marketer and Young Creative of the Year Finalists

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adma-yc-ym There was a time where I wore a rather cynical hat when it came to awards. I’d look at the projects that won and the effort that would go into creating the award pitches and see holes, sub-standard work or missed opportunities. But with more experience on both client and agency sides, I am far more forgiving. And sometimes astounded or amazed at the work that does get done. After all, almost every piece of work that is seen in public has been pored over, compromised, championed and changed. It’s the rough and ready world of creative collaboration – and it’s harder than a dozen series of Mad Men would have you believe.

Which is why it’s important to celebrate the fact that great work is done and that there are scores of young marketers showing the leadership to make it happen.

Sponsored by Telstra, the finalists for the ADMA Young Creative of the Year are:

  • Tara Mckenty, Creative Director, Google APAC, for ‘Make your own luck’
  • Sal Cavallaro, Art Director, 303Lowe Sydney, for ‘An Eye into NY’
  • Brendan Graham, Copywriter and Strategist, Soap Creative, for ‘Under 30 invite’
  • Scott Nolan, Senior Art Director, Drifter, for ‘Flirt with your future’
  • Elliott White, Junior Copywriter, JWT, for ‘Launch brand you.’

And the finalists for the ADMA Young Marketer of the Year are:

  • Sue Kim, Product Marketing Specialist, Adobe
  • Richard Schmid, Advertising Manager, Dick Smith
  • Lucas Black-Dendle, Strategic Planner, Whybin\TBWA Group Sydney
  • Allister Hercus, Social Media Strategist, MEC
  • Penny Richardson, Head of Customer Marketing, Foxtel.

The overall winners will be announced on Thursday, 30 October at ADMA’s Australian Creativity and Effectiveness Awards (AC&E Awards) at The Star, Pyrmont. The winning creative campaign will be rolled out nationally as a call to entry for the 2015 ADMA Young Marketer and Young Creative competitions.

Disrupting the Music Industry – Vodafone and Spotify buddy-up

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Today’s announcement making Spotify Premium available to Vodafone mobile subscribers amps up the pressure on the music and media industries with more disruption on the horizon.

They say that the number one reason that startups fail is due to distribution. It’s not a poorly designed product, or an inexperienced team or even bad customer experience. The challenge, as it is for any new business, is reaching a market.

Now, it used to be that we knew where to find music – on radio stations, at record bars and on Countdown. As a kid, I’d go and see Mrs Fry at Sandy’s Music in Dee Why (and yes, it is still there). With her son, Nigel, they were the go-to people when it came to new music – from the most interesting punk coming out of the UK through to the emerging Birthday Party more locally, they had their finger on the pulse. They could steer you through both country and western, knew the difference between Boy George and Marilyn and would even keep an autographed single behind the counter for you.

Nigel and Jenny were the central node in a local music marketing network. And each week, they inspired their customers with stories of new music, artists and breakthrough video clips. Their knowledge and passion was extensive and their enthusiasm was contagious. Each person would leave the shop knowing just a little bit more about the music they were about to listen to. In effect, they were creating and cultivating advocates – people who would influence their friends and family through music.

But the shift to digital has transformed this kind of relationship. Our music discovery is no longer curated in the same way by the programming directors, radio hosts or record bar owners. It’s at the mercy of algorithms, networks and big data stores. And it feels like it … but I digress.

Most importantly, we are playing under new rules of distribution. Music needs to find its audience – and increasingly, that audience exists at the end of a data stream. The device that transforms that stream into music is a phone. And this places mobile phone networks in a powerful position.

With the ink now drying on the Vodafone + Spotify partnership, Voda customers will have access to the Spotify Premium package as part of their plan – that’s $11.99 a month in value. And while the deals are not yet up on the website, I’d expect you can chat with customer service about it.

But this is not the end of the line for the music industry. Nor is it for the media industry. After all, disruption also breeds opportunity – and the very thing that made Sandy’s Record Bar popular is still the thing that we crave. And for all the technology under the sun, we haven’t been able to replicate that yet.

Audience Disruption and Lessons from the Music Business – How to cultivate and amplify a fragmented audience

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It doesn’t take a genius to know that the days of mass marketing are over. But it is taking some time for us to disentangle ourselves from old ways of thinking. Gone are the days when you could produce an ad and blast it out to the compliant masses who would watch, absorb and then automaton-like file out of their homes to purchase our products direct from retailers next day. These days, advertising is a much more complicated business. It’s complicated by technology, social media and the proliferation of channels. But above all, it’s complicated by our audiences – the people who, at the end of the day, buy the products we pitch them. Because people choose the channels and the media that they are interested in, we need new tools to reach, engage and inspire them.

And by new tools, I don’t necessarily just mean technology. I also mean strategy. Products. Processes. We need staff who are interested in the needs and aspirations of others. How do we do this? How do we make it happen? These are some of the things that we are work with clients on at Disruptor’s Handbook.

The thing is, “disruption” doesn’t necessarily have to be a problem. In fact, it can be a catalyst to innovation. This is also something that we work on – reframing disruption to help organisations capitalise on the opportunities that come from disruption. A great way of understanding this opportunity comes from this fantastic presentation from Michael Goldstein.

In this presentation on cultivating and amplifying audiences, Michael talks about the way that we discover, experience and enjoy music. He suggests that we are moving away from “taste dictatorships” and are rejoicing in “genre discovery”. This is a trend that music streaming platforms like Spotify and Pandora are leveraging. But platforms like Boiler Room cultivate a different style of engagement and audience. Beginning as a single live streamed event, Boiler Room has evolved into a live music platform and has now hosted events in over 50 countries and produces around 100 new videos a month. Their eagle-eye focus on both emerging talent and audience engagement has seen enviable growth for the platform along with a growing community.

Does this mean the end of radio stations? Or labels?

Not at all. The long tail takes quite some time to snap the back of the incumbent. But without the benefits of aggregation, we will see further fragmentation of audiences and budgets. While this is a problem for the “Music Industry” (capital M, capital I), it just signals a rockier road ahead. It also signals disruption and opportunity. And it also means we need to work harder – to spot talent and cultivate communities. And we need to delight audiences too. After all, it’s the “music business” – and there’s money in opportunity.

10 Must-See Presentations at the DiG Festival

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Last year’s DiG Festival was one of the best conferences of the year. The DiG founders had worked hard to secure sponsors, speakers and workshop hosts – but in its first year there was a sense of uncertainty. In reality, the vibe, energy and focus proved well worth the 90 minute drive to Newcastle to attend. Not only were the speakers world class – the topics were compelling, the workshops oversubscribed and the venue was brilliant for networking, chatting, and exploring topics one-on-one.

If you have not yet secured your ticket, there is still time to do so. But if you have registered, you’ll know there is plenty to see and engage with – not just on digital topics, but a feast of health related topics too. But these 10 presentations are ones you’ll not want to miss. Look for me in the audience!

  1. Zac Zavos, Conversant Media – How to build and shape audiences to increase online traffic
  2. Ian Farmer, Zuni – Digital advertising trends
  3. Rob Innes, Xero – Platform innovation for the connected small business owner
  4. Panel: The Future of Retail
  5. Con Georgiou, One Million Acts of Innovation – How culture eats strategy for breakfast
  6. Trent Bagnall, Slingshot – How corporate Australia can utilise the tools of the start-up community for disruptive innovation
  7. Workshop: Jordan Kind, Vend – Transforming your retail business with technology
  8. Workshop: Nancy Georges – Customer Service in the Age of “ME”
  9. Workshop: General Assembly – Launch your own website in 90 minutes
  10. Workshop: Kim Chatterjee & May Chan, Optimal Experience / PwC – How to Create a Winning Pitch

See the full program
One and Two Day tickets now available.

Disrupting Failure – The Secret to Success

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In the world of startups we have been obsessed with failure. And learning. Or what Mick Liubinskas from muru-D calls “flearning”. You will, no doubt, have heard of the concept of “fail-fast” – a term borrowed from system design and applied to software engineering – where the focus is on fast, iterative design that irons out errors through the process of repetition and improvement. But failure comes with risk and with stigma. And no matter how bravely we celebrate our failures, as 99dresses founder, Nikki Durkin points out, “luck and timing are often huge factors in success and failure.”

So I was interested to see the way that this infographic by MaryEllen Tribby focuses not on the outcomes of success or failure – but on the attributes and behaviours of the individual. And I am wondering – if we are honest – could we find a way to disrupt failure on our way to being successful. Is there a way to observe and recognise some of our own behaviours and then work to move them from the right hand side (yellow/unsuccessful) to the left (green/successful)?

And beyond that, what if we moved beyond platitudes (and infographics), and ACTED ON some of these things. Or all of them? I am going to give it a try. I’m going to spend 30 minutes a day carrying out actions from the green side. And I will let you know how I go. Perhaps disrupting failure is the secret to success. Time will tell.

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Disruption is the Future of Work: The All Consuming Employee

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It’s not hard to see the future of work. In fact, it’s right there in front of our faces. It is happening under our noses. At the desks, in the hallways and foyers of our organisations. It is even happening in the homes of our staff, executives and customers.  And it is changing even what we consider “work” to be.

A quick search on LinkedIn revealed almost 40,00 Australians with “freelance” in their title, and almost 100,000 Australians working in a self-employed or contractor capacity. For these people, the idea of a “9-to-5” job is anathema – either through choice (they prefer to work beyond the walls of a single employer) or through circumstances (full time working conditions cannot be accommodated for a variety of reasons, from health to age, experience to opportunity).

Furthermore, statistics on telework and the business use of information technology from the ABS (from 2012), revealed that more that a third of micro businesses use the internet to allow staff to work from home, while this more than doubled for larger businesses, with 75% providing facilities for staff to work from home via technology.

And when we add to this the number of individuals who take on side projects in their spare time for cash via sites like oDesk or Freelancer or even those willing to work for a fiverr, it becomes clear that “work” is quite a different beast than it was in the Twentieth Century.

The challenge of course, is that the future of work involves a disruption of work itself. And this pushes staff, executives and HR departments into new territory. Or does it?

Katie Chatfield and Jon Paul Potts from Jack Morton have provided a quick refresher on why CEOs should care about employee engagement. Take a read and then take a look around you. How’s the future from your point of view?

Must-See Sessions at Social Media Week, Sydney

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Social Media Week, Sydney is just around the corner. It is the first time that the event has been run in Australia but the organising team, Simon Micarone, David Wesson and Will Ockenden have high hopes for it becoming a regular feature on the Australian conference landscape.

Running all week, from 22 September through to 26 September, there are a great range of sessions, keynotes and master classes to participate in. But if you are like me, you may need to ration yourself in an effort to learn but also continue delivering for clients. With this in mind, I have selected some of the must-see sessions and master classes that will impact not just the way that you think, but the way you carry on the business of social media.

Monday, 22 September:

Tuesday, 23 September:

 

Wednesday, 24 September:

Thursday, 25 September:

Friday, 26 September:

  • Keynote – Under the Digital Bridge (Venessa Paech). This will be awesome – especially for those of us who deal with trolls, ranters, ravers and other monsters in our audiences.
  • Living in the Culture of Participation (Panel). Want to know what it takes to make effective change? This panel will blow your mind. You have been warned.
  • Stay for the day. Ok – you may as well block out the whole day. There are some awesome sessions that you’ll want to immerse yourself in. And anyway, it’s Friday.

Marketing Led Sales – a new era for Hubspot and CRM

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Back in the beginning of 2013, I released a research report into the field of marketing automation. It investigated the challenges faced by marketers – from the explosion in digital and social channels to the newly emerging connected consumer and sought to map out the strengths of the various marketing technology vendors and their software offerings. In this report, I had identified that:

HubSpot looks to upset the apple cart.

With the focus on inbound marketing I predicted that HubSpot was well placed to become a future category leader.

At the recent INBOUND2014 conference, HubSpot announced a bold new offering – HubSpot CRM. Now, HubSpot, along with many other marketing automation platforms have long provided a simple CRM-style database – or tight integration to dedicated customer relationship management platforms such as Salesforce. But this feels different. It is different. It is FREE – as part of your HubSpot subscription.

But it’s not the pricing (or lack thereof) that feels revolutionary. It’s the fact that the HubSpot CRM reverses the priority of CRM – from sales first to marketing first. So now, rather than CRM and sales leading the customer process, HubSpot reaches out through its marketing platform to engage customers and then automatically connects them through to the sales teams seamlessly. The CRM platform works almost behind the scenes, logging your sales emails, phone calls and leads as they are made, not after the fact. And because it is part of the one platform, the marketing data that has been accumulated through various touch points, from web, to download, to webinar and so on, is also immediately available to the sales team as the relationship moves closer to conversion.

This new extension to an already powerful mid-market solution will strengthen what is already an attractive software platform. More importantly, it presents small and medium businesses with a compelling proposition – all in one, integrated sales and marketing automation.

And while this is a welcome mid-market addition, I am most excited about what this means for those organisations actively engaged in strategic digital marketing. Sure, most companies are shifting to digital, but those organisations with a mature approach to digital will be able to quickly deploy this kind of solution to create a competitive advantage. With HubSpot CRM, customers – and the customer experience – is more tightly connected to the sales process. It’s marketing led sales, not sales driven marketing. And this is a revolution that has been waiting in the wings.

Now I can’t wait to see what the next act brings.

13 Trends in Online Communities

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In July 2014, the folks over at GetSatisfaction surveyed professionals working in marketing, product development and support to understand their use of online communities. With more than 800 responses, the report reveals that, in many instances, companies are in the early stages of community building. Sixty-one percent of respondents have a customer community, and 33% of those had only been running for a year or less. An additional 25% had only been running their community less than two years.

Over the last 2-3 years, there has been a growing awareness of the value of customer communities, but as the report also reveals, many don’t know where or how to start. There are always staff and resourcing challenges, questions of quality and know-how and cost. There will even be some who don’t see the value. But the value of building a community of passionate customers is certainly not lost on brands like Apple whose recent iPhone 6 launch announcements flooded the internet for days.

Not all brands are going to have the instant appeal and fanboi cache of Apple. But even unsexy brands can rock social media. After all, we are all drawn to someone or something that makes our life just a little better or easier. And that is exactly what customer commuities do – they help our customers help other customers. Amazing concept.