Just Friggin' Peachy
Just Friggin' Peachy

business, digital strategy, & life in the #atl

Separating Who You Are From What You Do

When the agency I was working for hit rough financial waters and I was laid off, I decided to try a bold new experiment…getting a life.

Don’t get me wrong. Getting laid off with more than a half-dozen of your coworkers during the holidays is not something you build into your five-year plan. In fact, because the holidays are not the easiest time to find a job, I had to resolve myself to the reality that I might have six weeks of free time on my hands.

While searching for a job I wondered what would happen if I gave myself time to explore who I was? For the first time in my adult life would I be able to separate the idea who I am from what I do?

There are dozens of studies that show that we, as a society, are increasingly building our identifies and our sense of self-worth around our jobs. In fact, people who lose their jobs experience depression and identity-related crises at more than twice the rate as those of those still employed.

Finding a sense of self-worth that is more independent from what we do is not just a matter if short-term happiness, it’s a long-term requirement for happiness.

Based on my experience, here are a few potential ideas that proved out their usefulness in helping me find out what really mattered to me (click on any photo to start slide show):

In retrospect though being laid off wasn’t the best thing that ever happened to me it also wasn’t the worst. With nothing better to do, I had to take life day-by-day. Through putting things in perspective, I rediscovered the things that mean the most to me.

Ultimately, my period of unemployment only lasted two weeks. My new job offered me the chance to start right away and I had to think seriously about taking them up on it. However, I opted to give myself more time in the experiment and the results are pretty self-evident in the photos.

Though I am ready to get back work, I am doing so more mindful of what it is that means the most to me in life. By trying to separate who I am from what I do, not only I am going back to work happier but I am going back to work with more appreciation for my life as a whole.

If you find yourself laid off or with some time on your hands, I can’t recommend highly enough conducting your own experiment. Treat yourself like you would your job and invest in your own happiness. It’s worth every second.

Digital Tacticians & The Rise Of True Digital Strategy

Lately, I’ve come to find that many digital professionals fundamentally misunderstand the term “strategy” and what it means in crafting digital outreach. In particular, many of today’s “digital strategists” are actually digital tacticians.

Don’t get me wrong; tacticians are great.  If digital media is ever going to cement its place at the table with other marketing channels however, we have to understand why there’s a difference and why it matters.

What Strategy Is

To be clear, technical details like how you construct a digital asset and how the user interface should function falls into the bucket of tactics, not strategy. This is not my personal definition. This is the definition used by hundreds of thousands of businesses, worldwide and verified through careful study by business researchers such as Michael Porter:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibrxIP0H84M

The difference is that strategy moves businesses forward and makes smarter use of investments. For instance, digital strategy in its purest form takes into account market research, consumer behavior, business intelligence and financial foresight.

Unfortunately, this definition is often glossed over. I’m not sure if this oversight is due to the early nature of the medium or if so many self-titled “strategists” just do not know any better. Regardless, the fallacy of using digital tactics as digital strategy must be felled if companies are ever to truly harness the power of the digital medium.

Strategy’s Impact On Business Results

The rationale behind this distinction is simple. Tactics might, at best be able to generate additional returns that register in the single digits. When you’re dealing with multi-million dollar ad buys, of course every percentage counts. However, what most digital marketers deal with is niche audiences numbering in the hundreds of thousands. At that level, single digit gains are really nothing, particularly when you’re talking about moving awareness and engagement metrics enough to impact purchase decisions.

This is where strategy eats and breathes…instead of just asking “how?” strategy asks “why?” Why does a consumer want to spend their time and give you their attention? Why is what you’re doing actually going to shift their perception one way or another? Is what you’re doing positioned such that is draws a clear distinction between what you are doing and what your competition is doing?

The Danger In Mixing Up Strategy & Tactics

Most digital tacticians don’t know how to answer these questions not because they don’t care but because their focus is more technically oriented. Again, that’s not a bad thing! However, when a corporate manager asks for a recommendation on digital strategic direction, they are expecting more than a user flow.

When they don’t see the thought process brought to them in financial, product or marketing strategy they tend to write off digital as creative fluff. This is a major liability for a discipline that is trying to gain additional share of investment vs. other areas of a business.

The distinction between digital strategies and digital tactics is more than semantics. It’s about elevating digital execution to the point that it is as valuable and as thoughtful as any other part of the business. To claim tactics as strategy not only short-changes the client, it places digital outreach at a severe disadvantage vs. more mature marketing medium.

My advice to digital tacticians is simple. Be be proud of what you do but don’t confuse the process of ironing out technical details with true strategy.

Atlanta From The Sky

Every once in a while you get an idea for a gift that just blows away anything else you could have thought of. I had just such a moment for my grandmother’s 80th birthday.

Now, you have to understand three of things about my grandmother.  First, she’s a very spry 80-year old.  In fact, her idea of a good time is hopping around the Galapagos Islands or in the jump seat of a Russian MIG in a mock dog fight.  Second, she’s 2nd generation native Atlantan and she’s not shy about telling you, either.  She knows Atlanta and its history about as well as any other native you will meet.  Finally, she’s a cancer survivor.

As you can imagine, the stakes for a great gift that will mean as much as I wanted it to mean were high. After some googling, I figured it out…show her Atlanta in a way she’s never seen it before – by air!

The results were incredible! I booked with Prestige Helicopters (through Xperience Days) and the 40 minute flight with our pilot, Scott was nothing less than incredible.

I’ve laid out a video, below, and some of the best of the shots from the tour are in the gallery viewer at the top of this post:

For anyone looking for a similar experience, I highly recommend the tour and Prestige, in particular. For more details on the tour and our experience, I am glad to connect.  Just contact me through my web site.

The Power Of “Alpha Ideas” In Digital Marketing

Alexander Hamilton once said that if you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything. I have found that this truth has new meaning in, of all places, digital marketing.

Particularly with the continual evolution of contextual search such as Siri, Wolfram Alpha and Goggle’s Hummingbird – the question of what you stand for becomes more and more important. What you stand for eventually becomes something I like to call your “alpha idea” and it becomes central to how and why customers know your brand.

Take, for instance, my experience with Penguin Brand® Dry Ice. Of all of the products I’ve worked with, dry ice wasn’t exactly the one that engendered the most passion or, for that matter, consumer interest. In creating a digital strategy for the brand however, I found an amazing potential for not just engagement but actual sales by hooking everything in the campaign into a single, central idea.

The alpha idea for Penguin started by answering the question; “what do people want to know about dry ice?” Sure, there were plenty of questions about just how safe dry ice is and how long it lasts but one of the most frequent questions I found through online conversation was “where do I buy dry ice?”

At the time, there were a couple of sites that listed potential dry ice retailers but none of them was designed for consumers. Furthermore, none of them tried to form a relationship with the consumer once they had their question asked and answered.

Enter the alpha idea…Dry Ice Ideas, in particular. Dry Ice Ideas was a basic WordPress blog with weekly tips on how to use dry ice in new and interesting ways. It also answered the frequently asked questions like “how long does dry ice last?” and “how do I pack dry ice for shipping?”

Most importantly, we a took an off-the-shelf store location application, paid the developer to make some custom tweaks and turned it into the most powerful dry ice retail locator on the web. Now, when you ask the question “where do I buy dry ice?” on Twitter, on Google, or in message boards you will almost always bump into this site. This is the power of an alpha idea; it transcends platform and channel to be where the consumer needs it, when they need it.

The site was not sophisticated and, in fact, it’s been a few years since I’ve worked with the brand so don’t take any credit for the current state of the site. However, by building the entire digital footprint around a single, powerful idea…by making sure to clearly and descriptively answer a single important question…we established Penguin Brand® Dry Ice as a brand that stood for something.

Marketers need to learn that it’s not about being everything to everybody.

Success is about answering a very specific question so you become hyper-relevant to the right people at the right time. If you don’t become someone’s favorite digital brand, so what? If you can be there for the moment of purchase, the moment that the consumer actually needs you, they will repay you in spades.

Alexander Hamilton understood the power of alpha ideas. He knew that if they didn’t wrap his rallying cry around a single, understandable idea, no one would ever be influenced by his words. His alpha idea helped spark a revolution and so too can they with your brand, if you dive deep enough into what your customers want.

Making Agency Pitching More Effective With Kaizen Principles

There wasn’t a ton of creativity when Toyota coined its now famous system for ensuring quality and efficiency.  Case in point – they named it the Toyota Production Method (TPM).

Behind TPM was a principle called Kaizen, literally translated to GOOD CHANGE. Kaizen has been able to do a lot for industrial production.  It helps cut down errors and increase output exponentially.  It has been widely adopted across organizations from Sony to Amazon but the question is what could it do for the service industry in general and the agency world, specifically?

Certainly, in the agency world, process tends to run contrary to the free-flowing spirit of creativity. However, with the increased pressure to show return on investment for marketing spend, perhaps it’s time to see how Kaizen principles can apply?

Being a geek like that, here are two Kaizen principles in particular that I think could easily be rolled out in the agency world:

1) Simplify Pitches Into Two Categories

Agencies tend to thrive on mess in the pitching process.  It’s the continual input of creative inspiration that sometimes spawns the greatest innovation. However, all this mess tends to not only mire an agency in disorganization, it distracts from a central vision for the work product and the pitch. While digital files are easy to organize, experiential learning and feedback is not.

For instance, when an ideas is pitched and rejected agencies tend to discard it or file it away. Very infrequently is there a post-mortem on the creative process.  No one stops to ask why an idea failed to win client approval. Was it the idea itself or was it the way it was pitched? Is there sometime fundamentally wrong in the pitch process that can be identified and corrected to ultimately increase close rates and revenue?

Instead of organizing by client, often the preferred file structure, why not reduce the total number of folders you have to deal with? In fact, you really only need two categories of ideas – pitches that worked and pitches that didn’t.

2) Dive Deep Into The Layers Of “Why?” The Pitch Didn’t Work

This brings me to my second principle.  Now that you have two categories, what the hell do you do with them?

Well, how about going through them and asking why they are in one folder and not the other? In fact, Kaizen talks about asking the question “why?” five times.  It helps to determine the root cause of an issue beyond “it just didn’t work.”

For instance, take this process…a pitch was just turned down?

  1. Q: Why was the pitch turned down? A: Because the client didn’t like it.
  2. Q: Why didn’t the client like it? A: They thought it was too expensive.
  3. Q: Why did the client think the pitch was too expensive? A: They didn’t see how it connected to sales.
  4. Q: Why didn’t the client see how the pitch was connected to sales? A: It wasn’t in the pitch document.
  5. Q: Why wasn’t sales referenced in the pitch document? A: We don’t have data to support it.

Granted this is a simple example but the logical change is apparent – get the data or suggest the data to support a connection to sales.

Many times, agencies fail because they think they can only learn from what they did right. On the contrary, failure is a rich, rich library of insight. Agencies should be mining failed ideas as if they were gold.  Instead of just trying to “churn and burn” why not reduce costs, get smart and examine failures as much as successes?

The answer is pretty easy – agencies like what agencies like.  Kaizen principles are an outside production concept that tends to run contrary to the usually insular world of the agency mindset.  This isn’t a critique, per se. It’s stating a fact that navel-gazing is a favorite pastime of agency leadership.

Maybe if this ever changes the agency world could shed its stereotype of being aloof, averse to intelligence and unable to articulate its own return on investment.

Living La Vespa Vita!

Though I usually like client results to speak for themselves, I am exceedingly proud to share the news that one of my projects for Vespa USA has won a 2013 Communicator Award for Marketing Effectiveness.

The reason I am particularly proud of this project is because we conducted research into the customer base, unearthed a set of deep-rooted insights and built an activation that, in the words of Mashable, helped “channel that natural enthusiasm” for the brand into a powerhouse digital activation.

Congrats to Vespa (of course!), my former colleagues at Brandware Public Relations who worked with me on this and Invoke Media out of Canada who brought the concept to life, online!

lvv_mockup

If you haven’t already seen it….check out La Vespa Vita! at http://lavespavita.com/.

Great Content = Ordinary Products That Do Great Things

These days content and social media managers are a dime a dozen. The challenge is finding one that can not only do the job but bring a unique perspective that helps elevate the content from ordinary to extraordinary.

I’ll give you an example…the following is what I consider a fairly bland, ordinary, check-the-box Facebook update: {PRODUCT} is special. Learn more here about {FEATURE}: {LINK}

Sure, it communicates what the client wants it to communicate but does it really engage with the client/customer? Not really.

Great content, when it comes down to it, is a function of one thing: not just talking about a great product, but a product that does great things.

Take, for instance, my former client Porsche.

Screen Shot 2013-05-21 at 6.25.36 AM

The product is so sexy, such an amazing machine that the team essentially could just post photos all day with no text and beat out most other pages in engagement. As it stands, though, they have a great social team and I had to hunt long and hard to find a post that even resembled a basic one like that.

Your product might not be as sophisticated or as aspirational as a Porsche but damn, what if you thought it performed just as well? What if you talked about what the product could do rather than just its features?

Let’s take an appliance brand, shall we? There’s nothing blander than selling blenders, right? Well, apparently Frigidare proves us wrong:

Screen Shot 2013-05-21 at 6.30.13 AM

What did they do? They talked about the results, not the product itself. Getting the customer to imagine their life with a product or service has always been a staple of great salesman.

What we have to do, as content marketers, is pull our heads out of our asses and think about the great things our products can do. Sure, the examples I gave were quite basic Facebook posts but you can extrapolate that same concept to almost anything.

White Papers, Presentations, Tweets – they can all start down the road to amazing results by asking how does the product do great things.

Next time you’re asked to hire a community manager or even write content yourself ask what great things your product can do and then see what content comes of it.  I’ll guarantee you its going to be better than you think.

Try it and tell me how it goes.

What’s The Best Way To “Get Smart” About Paid Digital Media?

Paid media has always been a little bit of a puzzle to me.  Maybe it’s because I started out in one-to-one sales?

The idea of paying to get in front of a lead defeated the purpose of hiring a sales or marketing team. Then again, that’s when my audience ranged from a couple dozen to a couple thousand distinct, recognizable targets.

Flash forward a few years and when you play in an arena with millions of potential targets, all scattered about across thousands of potential touch-points and I think I’m starting to understand. In fact, after a year or two of playing B2B social media “whack-a-mole” with a couple clients with tiny budgets – I’m ready to branch out and see what Paid Media has in store.

I’ve already started exploring eConsultancy, MarketingProfs and reading the paid media news of TechCrunch and Mashable but would love to know – what are your favorite  resources to “Get Smart” about paid digital media?

 

The Battle Over The Accuracy Of Social Media-Based Consumer Insights Research

In grad school, my marketing research professor used to say “n=1” as her is very geeky way of qualifying her opinion. Professor Escales’ quant humor not withstanding, I guess I will caveat this blog with “n=1” but you’ll find my argument reinforced which quite a few “n’s” so take from it what you will.

Late last night Gareth Price, a UK-based social media researcher, basically used Pew’s latest social media demographics study to debunk the use of social media as a consumer research tool. Though I get what Gareth is saying and agree that you can’t use social media to answer a question that hasn’t been asked, and that social media is still very much a convenience sample – I fundamentally disagree that its not a valid research tool, particularly for brands.

First off, you need to know that I conduct research via social media for brands for a living.  Not that this makes me any more or less of an expert but I have seen the use of this type of research before. I’ll also say that Gareth’s focus on Twitter is important because, in my estimation, anywhere from 40 to 75 percent of any topic conversation is based on Twitter, arguably more than any other platform.

The key thing I believe Gareth left out was the fact that social media users, and Twitter users in particular, tend to skew heavily towards users that are more influential offline. Said another way, social media may be a convenience sample but its one that is remarkably powerful in identifying the tip of a much larger consumer insights iceberg.

Sure, Twitter demographics alone speak to the fact it is not a representative sample of the populous:

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In fact, Gareth is never more right in his implication that Twitter reaction to large public events should not  be considered scientific – the 2012 election proved that.  However, Twitter has proven to be surprisingly accurate as a tool to predict stock-market fluctuations and outbreaks of the flu.

More importantly for brands, social media users are a proven barometer of potential purchase intent.  This means that despite its flaws, Twitter can and should be a goldmine for helping to pinpoint not only valuable and powerful consumer insights but as a self-selected representation of those who might indeed be most likely to both purchase your product and to tell others about it.

Gareth, I love your insights but let’s admit that there’s much more that goes on, on Twitter that meets the eye.  Yes, we need more tools and more geeky marketing research applied to the medium to bring it up to the rigor used in most research tools.  However, there are just to many “n’s” out there that speak to the power and impact social media research can have on brands.

Gallery: When Life Sends You To Dallas…

So I got called to Dallas this week to meet with one of my favorite clients. What ensued was not only a great meeting but a very cool trip to South Fork Ranch of DALLAS fame to burn some time after the meeting was over.

Little did I know that I would get stuck on the set of DALLAS watching a scene be tapped.  I also got to see the soon-to-be-infamous “Room 22” where JR will be murdered. Well, I got to see the outside of it, at least.  Apparently the producers have padlocked the door, even from the real life staff at South Fork Ranch, until the cliffhanger episode is over.

Score one for a random work trip…not to mention ending up with a lime green tie and mustang for a rental car that just happend to match each other.

That Time Twitter Won The Super Bowl

If you watched the Super Bowl last night without having someone in the room with a Twitter account, you missed a lot.  Not just when the lights when out at the Superdome but some of the best moments of last night happened off the field and online.

For me, it shows that Twitter is growing up and people are starting to understand the (no pun intended) power of the platform.

There were two key points I want to highlight:

1. When your website can’t handle the traffic, Twitter notices:


Despite having an AMAZING mobile-optimized site, cokechase.com hit some major snags last night.  Slow load times definitely put a damper on what could have been a serious contender for the best online/offline superbowl coke integration, yet.  I loved me some Polar Bears from last year but all the content that went into that site definitely showed that Coke realized that content will get you more eyeballs, longer than novelty, alone.

2. News travels fast…and funny:


When the lights went out, tweeps went to work.  Not only did the power snag elicit some amazing rapid response from Oreo but even the utility company supplying power to the Superdome swung into action:

Screen Shot 2013-02-04 at 7.03.23 AM

Now, keep in mind that the tweet above was subsequently deleted and replaced with this one:


I still believe, though that Entergy did the right thing by jumping on the issue.  They were proactive, informative and the only one’s really active.  No matter who was to blame, they used Twitter as a news distribution venue and something tells me it will save them a lot more grief than if they were silent and had a #EntergyNOLAFail campaign started up against them.

For the purposes of this post I am going to ignore some of the brands that dropped hashtags into their ads for the sake of it.  However, I think we’re finally getting to the point where Twitter is not just a platform but an ecosystem that communications professionals of all shapes and sizes are paying attention to.


All hail the tweeps on this one!

The Nature of Innovation

Whenever I sit down with my team to brainstorm we always start with examples of creative executions from other brands and agencies.  This was always something I found a little sketchy because, after all, aren’t digital strategy teams hired to be original?

I started to question whether or not everything I had done had just been an imitation of something that had come before.  It turns out that quite a few of my best ideas were based on something that came before. The twist was that, after seeing what resulted, imitation wasn’t a bad thing.

By starting with where others left off, I was able to actually become more creative.  My ideas began to have their own identity.  The best ones, in fact, inspired imitations themselves.

I guess standing on the shoulders of giants is a good thing, as long as your end goal is innovation.

Nike’s Taking Social In-House: Why It’s Good News For Agencies

Over the last two years, I’ve seen many of my clients more confident in their ability to understand and connect with consumers via social media. Like Nike has just done, many have taken the responsibilities of day-to-day management of their social media profiles in-house.

Many in the agency community will cry that this is the beginning of the end.  They will ask “how are we supposed to survive financially if  we can’t make money managing their platforms like Facebook and Twitter?” I would respond that they’re wrong in many ways.

First off all, the closer you get to the source of the information, the better social media works.  That’s just a plan fact of life reinforced by companies like Comcast, Delta and Zappos that have been managing their social media in-house for years.  By creating systems designed to connect their social media operation with other, customer-facing components of their business like customer service and sales they win with consumers.  It’s as simple as that.

Secondly, going in-house is not just the natural evolution of social media. Also, it’s a good thing for agencies.  Day-to-day management of a brand’s social media presence is fun but it’s ultimately work that takes a lot of time in terms of brand training and the cycle of content creation and approval from the client.  Thought it might be a cash cow for some agencies now, when you look at the time spent versus revenue generated, it’s not the most efficient use of creative talent in the long run.

Clients taking social media in-house allows agencies the ability to evolve to a role that helps brands achieve greater, more complex levels of engagement with consumers.  Instead of worrying about what to post next, agencies can help create CRM systems that aid in making social media conversation more rewarding for the customer and more value-add for the brand.  Simply put – it frees agencies up to do what they do best – dream and execute big.

Though many brands aren’t at the stage that they feel comfortable taking their social media management in-house, I believe we’re going to see more doing this in 2013. The best thing agencies can do is take a proactive role to educate and inform our clients to the point the feel comfortable speaking directly to and with their customers through social media.

In the meantime, those that do fear for the future of their agency model are probably the ones that will not around very much longer.

In 2013, Resolving Myself To The Chaos

I think we can all agree that 2012 didn’t turn out anything like we thought it would.

Whether you’re republican or democrat, rich or poor, gay or straight the last twelve months have thrown us all a couple of curve balls.  We never could have imagined exactly where we would be today when we set those resolutions on January 1, 2012.

In that spirit, I am taking 2013 to make a new type of resolution.   I resolve not set goals for what I want the year to be but to be more appreciative of the journey, itself.  In essence, I am resolving myself to the chaos rather than a specific aspirational goal.

I’m tired of making resolutions that don’t take into account that life changes.  In fact, I not only want to anticipate those changes but I want to learn more from them than I would if life stood still.

I want to spread gratitude for the chance to be a part of those changes and to be a part of something bigger than myself.  I want to give back to the people that enrich my life and allow me to be a part of a support network that helps us help each other manage those changes.

Sure, it might sound like I am getting wrapped up in the changing of the year and even waxing a little philosophical.  The fact is though that there’s only one way to break a resolution to roll with the punches and that’s to quit.

I’m not sure about you but quitting isn’t on the menu, particularly after what we’ve been through in 2012.

Happy New Year, everyone and may all your resolutions be unbreakable!

SCAD’s Big {Rooster} Pics

Of course you can insert your own caption here but I thought I would point out that the exterior of SCAD on Peachtree Street is now boasting huge photos of chickens.

Georgia-Based BOTANTICA by Design: The “Breaking Bad” of Soap & Lotions

You know those friends that can’t wait to show off their hobby? Scott is one of those guys.  In fact, the first time I visited his home, he couldn’t wait to show off his laundry/mad scientist inventory. It was literally stacks and stacked of  soaps and bottles of lotions – all of which he creates from his own home.

Scott has turned that hobby into a small but rapidly evolving business. Sure, plenty of folks have dabbled at making their own soaps and lotions and many of them do create really….ummm…interesting stuff?

The cool thing about Scott’s creations, which are created under his “BOTANICA by Design” brand, is that they are not only all natural but bring a cool Hawaiian inspired creativity to their blends.  For instance, he created a set of soaps infused with botanical scents like lilac that smell and feel amazing.

Designed as an alternative to major market brands, Scott is keenly aware of how his products not only smell but feel.  His Papaya body lotion, for instance goes on light and absorbs quickly as opposed to remaining heavy and greasy.  Even the scent balances with your own skin leaving a pleasant, sweet air rather than being overpowering.

You can check out more about Scott and his product line at http://botanicabydesign.com/.

Blogger Disclosure: Scott is a friend and he shamelessly forced his product on me. Of course, I willingly accepted and any and all opinions or recommendations are covered by my standard disclosure policy for this blog.

Asked & Answered: What Is Strategy Made Of?

My friends in grad school used to joke that if you didn’t know what you wanted to do with your life, you should just major in “strategy.”  It sounded professional, it sound cool but it was a nebulous enough concept that anyone could be good at it.

Flash forward to real life and it turns out that’s not the case. Not only is strategy not a given skill set in business, it turns out that much more thought and process goes into constructing good (READ: effective) strategy.  I sat down and tried to outline what strategy was made of and came up with two distinct parts:

Part #1 – The Vision Thing

The first element of good strategy is a vision of what could be.  This vision is honed through research, analysis and a detailed consideration of the market conditions surrounding a business. Great strategists spend hours pouring over every piece of data and background documentation they can find.

The goal is to cultivate an understanding of the risks and players in a situation that is so in-depth that the opportunities leap off the page. If this sounds a little hokey that’s because it is.  Great strategists are masters of opportunity.  Osmosis with information, as strange and as intangible as it may seem, triggers a honed set of judgement criteria.  When the “holes align” a strategist’s mind sees the opportunity and that’s what you call “The Vision Thing.”

Part #2 – Organizing & Articulating That Vision

The second part of good strategy is the ability to take that vision and put it into not just words but a relatable model.  More good strategy goes to waste because the concepts don’t resonate or can’t be understood by their intended audience.  Great strategists know how to explain a vision in both words and pictures in a way that can not only be easily understood but easily applied.

Though I deplore the over-use of Microsoft “SmartArt,” it is a powerful tool for communicating strategy.  Using hierarchy, relationships and processes, great strategists can piece together a vision for how to capitalize on an opportunity and a road map for getting there.

Ultimately, not everyone was cut out to be a strategist. Some minds may have one part of what strategy is made of but not the other.  That doesn’t mean it can’t be learned. If you want both sides, find out what you’re good at and identify the areas you need to work on.  Then, go out and find inspiration.  Read books about strategy, visit a museum to see how artists communicate an idea, do anything that allows you to step out of yourself.

Just remember that strategy is not a skill set that comes overnight.  It’s a set of skills, put together, that are honed over many many years and the only way you improve is by doing.

Moving Day…

They say that it is better to lead by example than design.  In the world of digital engagement that often means blazing a path where there was none, previously.

That’s why I am excited to announce my move to Brandmovers Inc., a global interactive and digital marketing agency based here in Atlanta, as their lead digital strategist.

More on Brandmovers in a moment but let me say something about the company I am moving on from…

For a little over two years, I have been privileged to work with the brilliant team over at Brandware Public Relations. We’ve worked hard to build an innovative social PR operation and I couldn’t be prouder of the results.

It’s tough to move on from a great boutique shop like Brandware where your co-workers really do become like family.   However, this move comes at a time when Brandware’s prospects in social PR couldn’t be brighter and I am confident that what we’ve built can transcend any one person.

For me, Brandmovers offers not only the next logical step but also the chance to see how far the envelope can be pushed with respect to results for brands via digital engagement. With a team of over 65 in-house designers, developers, account managers and strategists spread across offices in London, Mumbai and here in Atlanta the opportunities are exciting, to say the least.

Of course, I’ll continue blogging here at Just Friggin’ Peachy but  be sure to check Brandmovers out on Twitter, follow Brandmovers on Facebook and check out the team blog. </shameless plug>.

Stay tuned, folks.  It’s going to be an interesting ride!

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