Technology Archives - Page 2 of 6 - Grafik

Financial Planning: Why Customer Experience Matters

Financial Planning: Why Customer Experience Matters

Posted by | Branding, Business of Design, Clients, Digital, Financial Marketing, News, Technology | No Comments

I counsel a lot of financial services clients, and in that regard I have to keep up on the various trades, InvestmentNews, Private Wealth on practice management, the movement to and fro of warehouse brokers to RIAs, and the occasional marketing column.

As I was reading my copy of ThinkAdvisor, I came upon a wonderful article by Michael Kitces that discusses why meeting with financial planners is compared to “a blend of a dental exam, a math class, and marriage therapy.” It contrasts the experience a person will have in a Build-A-Bear workshop to that of meeting with a financial planner. And while this article is especially germane to the world of financial planning, it makes excellent points for any service industry and merits a read. Read More

Lessons in Agility

Lessons in Agility

Posted by | Technology | One Comment

Here at Grafik, we always try to stay on top of the latest trends in business and technology. But lately our office has been buzzing with one particular phrase that I just haven’t been able to wrap my head around: agile methodology. I decided to sit down with Certified ScrumMaster and resident agile guru Laura Peterson to get the skinny on this game-changing trend and just how it’s affecting the industry. Read More

Marketing is BS

Posted by | Anything + Everything, Digital, Technology | One Comment

I was reading the New York Times article and a full page ad from Adobe grabbed my attention. Initially, I just read the headline and was pretty upset—but upon reading the entire ad and delving into this further, I was pleased to see how Adobe is supporting and validating the marketing community. Their “Metrics not myths” campaign is a smart, well integrated campaign designed to sell their new Adobe Analytics product. It includes very funny videosa robust Facebook page, and a well-written blog. Read More

farside

Walking Down A Technology Memory Lane

Posted by | Clients, Technology | No Comments

Packing up 34 years’ worth of work is not only daunting, it is therapeutic. It has given me a chance to purge the things that I do not want, to look at the hundreds of samples we have that no longer need to be kept, and to revisit the many technological changes that have taken place. As I throw out old Rubylith, ruling pens, spray mount booths, photo disks, and roll-a-binding machines, I can reflect on how far we have come and how much has changed.

Read More

Science: It’s A Young Woman Thing.

Posted by | Branding, Business of Design, News, Technology | No Comments

Well, it has been a really long while since I was revolted by a video, but across the pond, in England, the European Commission produced a video that manages to capture every single stereotype about young women. “Science: It’s a Girl Thing” is a campaign with noble aspirations and abominable execution. No one would argue that it is important to get young girls interested in science and to empower them to enter the field. Yet, one wonders how this video ever saw the light of day. From the lipstick logotype to the young male serious scientist eyeing the bevy of beautiful young things, everything in this assignment has gone wrong. The European Commission had the good sense to yank the video on its website, but of course it lives on. To their credit, they issued an apology of sorts. Emakina is the agency that produced the video. With no women on its board of directors, no women on its executive board, and only one woman among nine as a head of their expert centres, one wonders how they got pegged for this assignment. As a very sophisticated digital social media agency, one also wonders why this facebook question did not get an answer….

Facebook comment

This is a contrast to another initiative that was announced a week ago in the The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal for Girls Who Code. Started by Reshma Saujani and backed by a bevy of technology giants, it seeks to increase the number of young women who want to be programmers and engineers, not with lipstick, but with real training and opportunity.

Day Five @ SXSW 2012

Posted by | Anything + Everything, Branding, Design Issues, Digital, Events, Social Media, Technology | No Comments

Native and Mobile Web: The Right Tool for the Job

The last day of panel sessions kicked off with a heated, albeit nerdy, discussion. With representatives from Tumblr and Facebook present, two platforms that have clearly mastered the mobile platform, I was anxious to hear about how one should evaluate the appropriate mobile execution for their client. Instead, the session got off to a pretty technical debate about native/web hybrid vs. 100% mobile web, with representatives on the panel sitting firmly in one camp or the other. But before I dig into the specifics, it’s important to outline the four different solutions that were discussed:

  • Native Application – An application written specifically for the device operating system (OS). It is not cross-platform and it requires you to install and upgrade. Example: Mint.com iPhone app
  • Native/Web Hybrid – An application written specifically for the device OS that relies on native elements like navigation, settings, etc., but employs web services to provide dynamic content experiences. Example: Facebook, Tumblr
  • Locally Rendered HTML – An application that requires installation, but locally renders HTML and stylesheets to provide a dynamic, web-like experience. Example: Flipboard, New York Times
  • Mobile Web – More specifically, HTML5. Site requires you to access through the browser application or shortcut icon, but uses HTML5 to create a custom for mobile experience, all using the browser’s built-in display functionality.

And while the panel did not land firmly on one side or the other, they did offer pros and cons to each which I thought I’d share, rather than taking a position (since honestly, I’m still not 100% sure which way I’d lean).

Native / Web Hybrid

  • Pro: Allows you to take advantage of the best of both worlds. You can access the native widgets for each OS, but also provide dynamic content.
  • Pro: You can easily monetize your app by listing it in the Apple app store.
  • Con: Given the native application shell, creating a native/web hybrid has a slightly higher barrier to entry since it requires a programmer familiar with the iOS code.
  • Con: Requires a specific content strategy.

Mobile Web

  • Pro: Programming a mobile site can be achieved by most developers. A much lower barrier to entry compared to the note above for hybrids.
  • Pro: Mobile web allows for the use of HTML5 and responsive layouts and can take advantage of the same content applied for tablets and web, even if just a portion of it.
  • Pro: Gets around some of the restrictions imposed by the Apple app store.
  • Con: On the flip side, a mobile website is much harder to monetize… at the moment.

So, I think the key takeaway is that there are many ways to take your content to the mobile device, but understanding what your business strategy is, what content you want to share, and who your audience is will greatly influence which way you go. I think the one point everyone agrees on is that brands can no longer sit on the sidelines; a mobile presence is required for all brands.

Pinterest Explained: Q&A with Co-Founder Ben Silbermann
Practically a full house, we attended a great Q&A session with Ben Silbermann, the man behind Pinterest led by entrepreneur/investor/blogger Chris Dixon.  It was an hour conversation where Ben talked freely about his aspirations and inspirations and his goals for the future development of his fasted-growing social media service.

What I really enjoyed listening to was how he walked us through his personal journey from when he started at Google up to the his company’s success today. He always reinforced how important it was to stay focus even through rough times and keep yourself surrounded with the people who are passionate for the right reasons.

Some other interesting points he made:

  • His core inspiration for starting Pinterest came from simply how he saw life—as a world of collections.
  • His team worked through the usability of his site all on paper.
  • He strongly believes that you show that you have put as much time into the product as you expect out of your user.
  • His goal is to never try and out perform his clone competitors. His focus is always on creating the best product.
  • And at the end of the day in addition to developing Pinterest, his team is the most exciting thing he’s building these days.

The Facebook Customer Service Challenge for Brands

The last session of the day and of our entire SXSW excursion discussed the usual obstacles faced when using a Facebook brand page as a customer service tool. This panel was certainly a popular one as it was a packed house and it had every right to be with equally (if not more) popular panelists Mark Williams of LiveWorld, Bryan Person of Social Dynamx, Eric Ludwig of Rosetta Stone, and Molly DeMaagd of AT&T. From tips on how to handle difficult customer inquiries or how to deal with the new Facebook Timeline format, the well-spoken speakers shared some of their insights on the best use this social channel in handling customer inquiries.

Here are some of their best points:

  • Constantly look at efficiency tools & staffing capacity and needs on a daily basis. Time is of the essence so make sure you are as efficient and well-staffed as possible
  • When taking the conversation off-line, do it in a matter that doesn’t stifle the conversation. Stay human & transparent.
  • Investigate how your fans engage before dedicating attention to a certain channel on your strategy. You don’t want to misdirect resources.
  • When staffing customer service social teams, writing skills and passion for what the company is about are crucial.
  • When you personify your brand page, make sure you follow the “feelings not facts” philosophy.

Day Four @ SXSW 2012

Posted by | Anything + Everything, Branding, Design Issues, Digital, Events, Social Media, Technology | No Comments

The iPad: The Second Coming of the CD-ROM

The morning got off to an early, but energetic start with a great discussion about the future of the tablet, led by Brian Burke from Smashing Ideas Inc. The topics of discussion ranged from a consumers unwillingness to purchase apps to the advantages offered to the web experience by the more intimate tablet interface. The key question on everyone’s mind, and quite honestly, one that our clients ask when considering taking their brand to the tablet, is what makes the tablet experience different than that from the web? Why should they consider a unique tablet experience when their website displays “just fine” on the tablet? And if you spend any time on the tablet, the answer is quite simple: the tablet plays a much more intimate role in your user’s life than their computer does. The tablet encourages the user to use gestural actions. Consuming content requires you to use your whole arm, which activates more neurons than clicking a mouse. The tablet encourages you to invite the content you are consuming into your personal space. And the panel theorizes that as we get more and more used to engaging with brands on a tablet device, we will begin to reject controls that separate us from the content we are trying to consume. But if there is one key takeaway from this session, it happens to be a philosophy that I believe in very passionately: when designing an experience for the tablet, don’t get sidetracked by stats. Instead, think about the role the device is playing in your audience’s life when they are consuming your content. Are they at their local Starbucks? Are they on their couch late at night? Or, while we may not want to think about it, are they in the bathroom? Regardless of what the answer to that question is, create a tablet experience that complements the “how” and “where,” not just the “why.”

Alternative Channels of Distribution

The purpose of this session was supposedly to discuss “alternative” channels of content distribution, and given the savvy level of many attending SXSW, I believe we all assumed that channels other than Facebook and Twitter would be discussed (sad that many of us consider Facebook and Twitter “mainstream”). However, the panelists themselves represented major brands (AmEx, Warner Bros and Smirnoff Diageo) who actually still DO consider Facebook and Twitter alternative to the web and traditional forms of media. And given the relative success American Express Go Social and the fact that movies can be made or broken through social media, Amex and WB had a few nuggets that I thought were worth passing along to you:

  • The loyalty marketing world is not shifting to digital rewards. Instead, it’s using the digital platform to extend their offering.
  • The beauty of the digital reward is that for the first time, brands can actually engage their audience and quickly enable that audience to influence others.
  • When developing your social loyalty program, you cannot forget that it’s a journey, and you may make a mistake along the way. That’s OK.
  • Don’t ask for ROI to justify that journey. It’s a crutch for the fearful. What is the ROI that marketers are getting from bus backs or mass transit campaigns? And did your client ask you for an ROI then?

As a digital marketer, the last bullet hit home more than any other statement made during the discussion. Why? Because as a digital marketer, you are accustomed to tracking every touch point and sometimes, the data can be scary. It’s that fear that may stifle innovation, when in reality, if that same data had been available for offline tactics, some of the more brilliant marketing campaigns may have never come to be.

Social Role-Playing: Brands and Publishers

This session discussed how brands have evolved into taking on the role of publishers as they embrace the broadcasting capacity of social media channels. This panel was of particular interest of mine because I specifically wanted to hear the insights of panelist Sarah Smith who is the Director of Online Operations at Facebook. Other panelists included EB Boyd a reporter at Fast Company, Kevin Barenblat CEO of Context Optional, Justin Merickle VP of Marketing at Efficient Frontier, and Halle Hutchinson Senior Director of Brand Marketing at Expedia.com. The point that resonated most with me is how they all agreed that the definition of a good ad has greatly changed. Before, the more distracting and attention grabbing an ad is, the better. Now, the more an ad seamlessly integrates itself within customers stories and overall social “talk” or chatter, the better. Smith stressed this notion while giving Facebook’s Sponsored Stories as an example of branded messaging assimilating itself with friend’s stories. With this shift in marketing and advertising, the skills of the staff has to appropriately shift as well. More and more are marketing professionals being required to possess reporting skills in order to meet the demands of daily content generation.

Shut Up & Draw

This panel discussion consisted of three panel speakers: Dan Roam from Digital Roam, Inc., Jessica Hagy from Creative Mercenary, and Sunni Brown from sunnibrown.com. The topic of the panel  dealt with how more and more companies are reinforcing the whiteboard culture because of the benefits that visual language can bring into a presentation or sales’s pitch.

As a designer it’s important to be able to sketch out our ideas, but what I learned from this discussion was a how important a simple sketch can be in expressing any idea regardless if you can draw or not. It has been proven that drawing or using simple visuals to articulate even the most complex concepts such as mathematical equations can improve your thinking. Surprisingly, you’ll also even remember it longer that if someone said it.  In addition to the talk, they walked us through a few quick tutorials that taught us to take a simple statements and rapidly transform it into a visual displays .

Overall, here are few tips to remember:

  • Visual language is not meant to be beautiful. If you’re stuck, start by drawing a circle.
  • Do not judge your drawing skills. The point is not to be perfect.
  • Create as sense of confidence. To be smart is to “see.” There’s nothing more to it.

Humanizing B2B brands with Video & Comedy

I chose this session because more and more of our clients are asking for video.  Presented by Tim Washer, senior marketing manager of Cisco, this talk was one of the more entertaining presentations so far.  His work has appeared in Advertising Age and AdWeek and The New York Times and he has also a comedy writer/actor, and credits include Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, SNL and the The Onion Sports Network.

Along with sharing some of his favorite videos that he wrote and produced, Washer mentions some great advice and rules on how to go about bringing humor into our own videos. Here were a few examples:

  • Humor can be a wonderful way to simplify your message. Start simple and sometimes you have to fight to be simple.
  • Bringing humor in B2B videos can be successful because it’s unexpected.
  • Identify your natural employee storytellers and arm them with the ability to create shareable content.
  • Don’t talk about the product.
  • Always try and evoke a positive emotion.
  • Humanize your brand.
  • Humor is like giving a gift to your audience.
  • Look into nearby film schools to resource out video if your budget is tight.
  • One of the strongest connection we can make with another human is to make them laugh.
  • Finding a key editor is important but finding an editor that can edit humor is essential.