Category: Brilliant Noise

Connecting some dots around social, earned and satisfaction

Working through the connections between these things…

Oliver Blanchard says:

If you treat earned media like paid media long enough, you will teach it to act like paid media.

…This is connected with the idea we explored that editors should be in charge of paid digital media (or at least have control of their own budgets) m- treating paid like earned could be a lot more useful than the other way around.

…It’s another angle on what John Willshire discusses in his series of presentations on the idea of “fracking the social web“. The race for Likes and shares and and views leaves depleted culture and relationships in its wake.

…Andy Whitlock says in this deck that creating noise (chasing attention) isn’t always the best approach. Platforms and products are ways of creating long term value, long term relationships, he says.

…This connects with why at Brilliant Noise we’ve talked more about earning advocacy than earning media, or even earning attention. The media’s not the point, the customer is… and they couldn’t give a fig for brands, most of the time.

Which also reminds me of an interesting Twitter conversation yesterday between Mat Morrison, Jon and Professor Byron about brands and satisfaction:

 

Hat tip to Anne McCrossan for pointing me to the Oliver Blanchard article.

Pilot and scale?

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An important part of the way we work at Brilliant Noise is “pilot and scale”. Find the best solution and then help grow it, spread its use.

Seems like common sense. Interesting, then, to read Johnnie Moore’s thoughts on an article about whether “scaling” is appropriate in some types of organisation, specifically NGOs involved in development.

A quote from Anna Young at the Young Foundation stands out:

… the concept of scaling has strong connotations of standardization. It has its origins in manufacturing, where the aim is to achieve economies of scale, by spreading fixed costs across more units of output. But in the messy social field, the potential for standardization is more limited. Here, concepts of reinvention and adaptation will be at least as important, if not more so, than standardization. Social outcomes are not products that can be easily made to formula and packaged. This is especially clear in the context of innovation in public services.

Could it also be the case for all kinds of organisations? Is this the kind issue that new “scaling” approaches like holacracy can avoid?

Certainly in a creative or ideas-based organisation, standardisation would be death. A successful project cannot be replicated, issued as a facsimile for all future challenges. Processes and principles and support systems can be, but using the “product” as a synonym for “service” is perhaps a symptom of a dangerous fantasy of standardising something of which you would never want a standard version.

Pilot and scale, prototyping and shipping – these are very useful ideas, but we should also consider their limits.

Brilliant Noise in The Observer

photo (5)On Sunday Brilliant Noise was featured in a lovely article in The Observer about Brighton’s leading tech start-ups.

It was great to be featured, especially alongside friends like Storystream, Brandwatch, Project Fuse, 3DIFY, Crunch and Brilliant Noise non-exec, Arjo Ghosh (fittingly pictured seated above the throng, like a kind of start-up deity).

 

Our new book for Nokia on teams and flow

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This week Brilliant Noise published the third of the books for Nokia’s Smarter Everyday B2B programme Teams That Flow.

I’m biased, but I think it’s really good – following in the vein of cool stuff about working in the connected age that we explored in Design Your Day and Mobile Mastery books.

As a collection, they are some of my favourite work that we’ve produced so far – with beautiful design from our friends at Endless. It’s practical, useful stuff – and we’ve had brilliant feedback from readers. It’s also frankly stuff that I find really interesting – one of those cases of merging a passion with work.ZZ3335C723

 

Image: One of the lovely illustrations for Teams That Flow. 

It’s free and you can download it as a PDF from Slideshare or take a look at the embedded Scribd thing below…

Teams That Flow – eBook from Nokia by Antony Mayfield

Dan Wieden quotes to cheer small agencies

An AdAge article from a few months ago has a couple of bits of advice from Dan Wieden – founder of the formidable creative ad agency Wieden+Kennedy –  that make me feel a little brighter, a little bolder a little hungrier everytime I read them (like now at the beginning of a long busy day, at the end of a long, hectic week).

In fact I have them written on big yellow Post-its that migrate from desk to wall to my “brown box” (we have a hot-desk system at Brilliant Noise).

In a talk to the Ad Age Small Agency conference he reflected on the massive, rolling disruption of the media, marketing and business worlds there is massive opportunity for us upstarts…

Giant agencies are wobbling like drunkards… the rest of you should be sharpening your knives.

And…

Oh, how I wish this agency was… small once again. Oh how I wish we were you.

Thanks, Mr Wieden – very much appreciated.

The best question you can ask: How fascinating! What can I learn from this?

As part of the Nokia Smarter Everyday program myself and some members of the Brilliant Noise team were lucky enough to sit in on a coaching session with the clever and inspirational Caroline Webb, founder of the McKinsey leadership practice and CEO Seven Shift Leadership. Caroline is an expert on emotional intelligence and applying cognitive science to our working days.

She described a technique she learned from conductor and author, Benjamin Zander. Every time he found himself in a stressful situation, he would stand up, raise his arms in the air and exclaim “How fascinating! What can I learn from this?”ZZ3590D6F3

Image: Benjamin Zander demonstrating his “how fascinating!” approach to failures (also useful in any stressful situation)… 

The reason that this is useful, Caroline says, is that the question/exclamation switches you from an “away state” – sense of threat, fight or flight, worry etc. – to a “toward state” (open, interested, curious, engaged).

Releasing yourself from fear you become more likely to solve a problem or at least find something useful and feel a little more in control of the situation. Stress levels drop, you smile and get on with the work with a clearer head.

I started using it straight away – it works every time. Also. everyone I have shared it with so far has said it works brilliantly for them. We’ve started to hear it in Brilliant Noise team meetings a lot too. It’s a nice thing to share. (Hence the blog post, I suppose…)

Try it for yourself – wherever possible with the action of standing up and throwing your hands in the air.

I’ve known for some time that you need to interrupt negative thoughts and look at them objectively to rob them of their power. It’s a part of mindfulness and is applied in cognitive behavioural therapy. Perhaps it is the charming quality of this “how fascinating” question and the physical cue helps that process, makes it easy to talk about and turn into a habit.

Situations I have applied this in so far have include mental blocks while writing against a deadline, being delayed on a journey, being admitted to an ER room in Canada, difficult meetings, frustrating conference logistics, and recently being periodically incapacitated by a kidney stone (the outcome of that visit to Canadian ER).

That last example of intermittent incapacitation by renal colic is a good example. I’m currently awaiting treatment and exist in a state somewhere between extreme pain and being fluffily useless due to the painkillers used to manage that pain.

It means that I have about two or three hours of quality brain time per day – and even then not 100%. Outside of that there is no chance of me writing an insightful post, outlining a plan or developing an interesting presentation for client.

With the help of caffeine I have no problem delivering presentations and can sometimes read, highlight and comment on articles. But there’s no chance of squeezing in 90 minutes of quality writing, or of developing a creative or strategic idea. That kind of cognitive heavy lifting is beyond my reach outside this two to three hour window (usually in the morning).

How fascinating. What can I learn from this?

By throwing up my hands and asking the apparently magic question I have managed to stop feeling sorry for myself and found a bright spot in this situation. Firstly I’m probably getting some much needed rest, but that’s by the by. The really interesting thing is I can only pick one project to make some significant progress with each day.

Much of the evidence from cognitive science and anecdotally from coaches suggests that this is always the case anyway – if you can get four hours of focused work (no not emails and meetings) then you’re doing really well. Yet somehow I usually will try to squeeze into or three major projects into any given day.

What I have learnt from the pain is what it is like to have the complete discipline of only doing one meaningful piece of work a day. It is therefore both focused and slightly liberating to be trapped in this condition.

As I say, try the trick yourself and let me know how you get on. Tomorrow, I’ll be getting zapped with ultrasound shockwaves which should get rid of the pain problem. Should be an interesting experience – wonder what I will learn from it…

: : Bonus link: At 6:40 in this video you can see Benjamin Zander describe the technique to a conference of headteachers – but do watch the whole thing if you have 14 minutes – he’s great…

Over at BN: a bias for action and new colleagues

I wrote a post about “bias for action” over at the Brilliant Noise blog. It’s not that I’m particularly pleased with it, but I am enjoying the train-of-thought ride I describe in it…

A few strands of thought that have started to wind themselves around each other for me on this theme: how to grow a bias for action.

Three of the strands sound like definitive set of rules – but are more notes to myself (as I’m sure there are more to add):

  • Use UIHD….
  • Use active not passive language.
  • Build a prototype instead of a long presentation or proposal.

Read the rest over there, if that tickles your fancy…

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While I’m on the subject of Brilliant Noise, we recently welcomed a couple of fine new team members, Patrick Sansom and Ruth Oliver, while also bidding a sad farewell to Ross Breadmore who has moved to London. He made a big impression in a short time, that chap. He’s being replaced by a similarly brilliant, tall, cycling obsessive – more on him soon…

 

Agency innovation, infographics and growth: Brilliant Noise posts and news

Over the last couple of weeks the blog at Brilliant Noise has really taken off – mainly because we’ve been joined by some talented bloggers with interesting things to say. Inspired by them I’ve also written a post I’m really pleased with!

There’s no elegant way to cross-post stuff here, so I’ll furnish you with some links to the posts – let me know what you think…

Can agencies innovate? by me…

Talking at Google Firestarters – an event for the agency planning community in London – last week, I was one a of a bunch of people briefed with provoking debate about agencies and innovation. Playing on the structure and sentiment of Netflix’s brilliant strategy (“…become HBO faster than HBO can become us”) I suggested that agencies needed to innovate their business models to…

”[...] become McKinsey faster than McKinsey can become us.”

 

This is pithy way of saying embrace disruptive innovation. Embrace it because the times are a-changing, because if you don’t do it, someone is going to come and do it for you. Disrupt your own business models, find new ones, think about how marketing services are going to change – and then become the change. Invent your future.

Pleading the case for bread and butter content by Lauren Pope

Speaking at the brightonSEO conference a week or two back, Lauren made a strong case for content marketing to prioritise content that is actually useful to customers…

By bread and butter, I mean static or evergreen content; the stuff that answers questions like who, what, where, when, why, how much, and helps users to accomplish the task they came to your website with in mind. Affordable, practical and sustaining – it should be the staple in your content diet.

 

If the content I’m talking about is bread and butter, then I think viral content is jelly beans: it’s tasty and gives you a sugar rush, but not healthy in the long-term. But despite this, I think bread and butter content is sometimes pushed to the edge of the plate at the moment, in favour of the more colourful and exciting project of trying to ‘go viral’.

It’s great when you’re straight(forward) – yeah! by Ross Breadmore

Ross picked up Lauren’s theme and expanded it to marketing strategy, pointing out a number of factors that keep marketers addicted to the spectacular, when customers are just looking for brands to do their job and keep their promises. For example “presentation-ism”:

Bread simply isn’t sexy. It’s not as appealing to stand at a conference and explain how you understood the needs of your average user and then redesigned the IA on your product pages accordingly, when you could be showing impressive download stats of a mobile app created with a spurious campaign in mind. Likewise when sending round the measurement report at the end of the quarter, would you rather tell stories of incremental shifts in customer satisfaction through a social customer service portal, or report a massive spike in ‘engagement’ caused by some zeitgeist-y activity and a chunk of paid advertising?

How to create a good infographic by Beth Granter 

On a very practical note, our data specialist, Beth gives a useful run-down on how to make an infographic that’s (a) actually an infographic and not an illustration and (b) engaging and useful. Especially useful if you’re not a data expert yourself, as it gives you some god hints on how to brief designers.

Meet the team… 

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Lastly, the Brilliant Noise team has been growing in recent months. I’ve put up some posts – but here’s some links…

 

Meanwhile, at Brilliant Noise…

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Some posts I’ve put on the Brilliant Noise blog, I should really point to from here too…

Content-led marketing: Notes on the brilliant Jon Munro’s presentation at the Cool Content Cornwall conferences (a little of shiver of delight for admirers of the alliterative arts there). Jon borrowed the Integrated Earned Media model Brilliant Noise uses, made it content-specific and put paid media literally in its place.

More Brilliant Noise people: We’ve been joined in the past month or so by Uswitch content suupremo, Lauren Pope, music marketing maven Todd Jordan and iCrossing’s former Client Services Director, Richard Ablett – a good friend and former colleague who I’ve worked with on fun clients like Coca-Cola before.

There is a formidable team growing at the Brilliant Noise HQ, I’m telling you. Next week we’re being joined by genius-about-town Ross Breadmore. Looking forward to that a lot. But more on that in another blog post soon…

By the way, the image above is a brass name plate that our perfectionist printer pals at Generation Press made for us… highly recommend checking out GP’s work for the V&A, Rapha and others…

 

First impressions of the Nokia Lumia 920

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Last week I got a brand new Nokia Lumia 920 and I thought I would share the experience so far here.

For the sake of context and transparency and context, my company, Brilliant Noise, is working with Nokia on marketing around the Lumia and business. That said, this is my personal blog and these are my own impressions.

This is not, then, a completely unbiased review (there’s some links to some more impartial reviews at the end of this post). That said, if I really didn’t like it what I would do is stay quiet – as I want to share my experiences, it’s fair to say I am pretty positive.

These devices called smartphones are now so much a part of how we live that a review of the hardware alone (there’s a very good one on The Verge) just aren’t enough to understand what they are like. You need to live with the devices.

Working with Nokia on some projects connected to the Lumia, I definitely needed to not just play with a device, but commit to using it all of the time. For everything.  Continue reading