Modern Storytelling: Anthony Bourdain

Thanks again Anthony — you made modern storytelling more authentic and relatable – all the while you did so on your own terms. His style like many trailblazers was brash, loud and irreverent. He came from a 'checkered' past and for that made him all the more likable. People aren't perfect and we learn from our mistakes, not by our accolades.

...

Suicide is on the uptick, and this should be an alert to everyone. While the list of known celebrities that have taken their life grows; so does the total statistic for the rest of us, with what appears to be one suicide every 20 seconds by 2020. I believe it to be human nature to debate your own mortality, and sadly even at times – ending it. That said, we all have something to give everyone, and I hope you seek and nurture that evolution all of your days.

If you suspect someone that may be at risk for suicide:

  1. Do not leave the person alone.
  2. Remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.
  3. Call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
  4. Take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.

Source: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. For more tips and warning signs, click here.

Old Dog — New Tricks

Here's a few excerpts from a recent interview I did with a student seeking content for their communications programming. I'm a HUGE proponent of mentoring and advise anyone to give back and much and as often as they are able.

Company and Position Title:

How Long have you been with your company/employer?

  • Magruder Laser Vision: 2 years
  • Big Block Studios: 18 years
  • QueensCast: 2 years

Can you tell me a little about the culture of your company/employer?

  • Magruder Laser Vision provides correction procedures (predominantly LASIK) that have the highest levels of precision, safety, and patient satisfaction. Doctor Magruder, is not simply one of the nation’s finest refractive surgeons but he’s simply a good person that means people well. This professional and personable manner is reflective of his staff with high morals and cultural support.

What do you like most about your career? Or what do you find you unique?

  • My career has spanned almost 25 years; in that time I’ve found that working in my current role as CMO for Magruder Laser Vision to be both rewarding and creatively unique. That said, it's not without some risk from my employer, this is an industry that does not always have its own marketing representation. Often, they're trying their best to do it internally OR seeking services of marketing and agencies at great expense. Therefore, we have a unique symbiotic relationship. I bring decades of agency training to an industry that is all too often trapped in it's own lexicon. Bringing a natural consumer voice to the brand was one of the first things I tried to do.

As someone who has worked in marketing & web design for quite some time, I’m sure you have some aspects of the field which offer the greatest opportunities for professional growth. What are your thoughts on what specializations I might focus on as a good starting point?

  • I see digital analytics (marketing; commerce; sales cycles; demo; etc.) as the forerunner to the new economy. It’s not enough to simply ‘design and deploy’, you have to back all that creative influence with optimized proof. Moreover, statistical analysis of growth, efficiencies and forecasting models will quickly become the norm rather than their scatter-shot approach of the past.

What skills or characteristics do you feel contributed to your success in this industry?

  • “The gift of gab.” Extraverted personalities seem to thrive in my line of work. It helps when you can create trust with your client and guide them into understanding the vision for the work, and then there's  "The Golden Rule" of course. But marketing intelligence is going to become the norm. Agencies will need to [really] work to maintain credibility now — which is something I like to be frank.

How often do you get to interact with customers/clients?

  • Often in my past roles with advertising agencies, I would have daily interface with clients, however not as much in my current role. Since my client now is really the patient guest, that interaction is most often facilitated by the staff. It's a 50/50. I bring a consumer into the office and that point I have to believe that the staff can create a unique experience that will enhance and show consumer differentiation, enough to be selected.

What courses proved to be the most valuable to you in your field?

  • The journeyman’s approach to learning on the job, sometimes you just have to jump into a project/client/challenge and adapt. You have to ask questions and accept that it’s ok; you need to learn! The most creative and inspiring people to me are other seasoned professionals that feel that they are simply "a student of the game."

What entry-level jobs offer the best opportunities for the greatest amount of learning?

  • Anything to do with watching various diversities of skilled labor, varying personality types and unique traits that trigger action. Examples might be a cashier; assistant to a leader; support services. Anytime you're faced with 'the human condition' I think it's a good thing. You're forced to listen, learn and understand the consumer's perspective.

What trends in the field would be most likely to affect someone just entering this career now?

  • Marketing is constantly evolving, you need to consistently keep tabs on social, cultural, technological, niche’ demographical trends and then reassess constantly. Just because “X” demo wants to buy “Y” product this month, doesn’t mean the popularity will be ever-present, or something better coming out.

What is the most important thing that someone planning to enter this career should know?

  • Like countless jobs, your clientele will often discourage you by downplaying your role, ability and question your decisions. But left to their own devices, the same clients WOULD NOT be as successful as they are with your services. In short, do what you know is right to do — right now. That will change. You will fail. Simply, fail fast and learn from it.
    No matter how great someone is in this industry, accolades don’t make you better; they’re a byproduct of past action. Therefore, never stop seeking, ask questions, be humble, be fearless and abide by the rule – that there are no actual (typically budget restrictions only) rules.
  • At some point in your career, you’ll need to realize that you need to hire people/services that are better you are. This is really hard for some people (we all inherently get territorial when someone’s not doing the same way we think it should be done), given that you can grow past this point your abilities will transition into that of a director and not of a producer.
  • Don’t be a dick.
  • Mentor.
Posted on April 17, 2018 and filed under Advertising, Content, Process.

Crafting Imagery — Choose Your Own Adventure

Colin Dutton's wonderful article regarding "reading photographs."

This is a lovely article. This same article could be used to speak to graphic designers, user-interface developers or copyrighters. We get bogged down with the notion that we must skim; take at face value; judge and digest. More often than not I see, even my own child not allowing herself to see past what's being served up. My father, a fine artist, and I had endless discussions regarding abstract and representational work and what delivers a more 'direct' message. The point here (IMHO) is that if you allow yourself to go past the surface level, then the medium (w/e it is) can reveal more than its first impression.


A touch more than Symbology:


Here's a thoughtful presentation that discusses eye movement in design by author ANUJ MALHOTRA.


User interface follows many of the same directional philosophy as outlined in the article above. That said, you as the designer need to take additional care in delivering the "interactive" attributes to your user. This is where the "intuitive" nature of UI/UX come into play, and where many designers fall short.

Posted on November 15, 2017 and filed under Design, Interactive, Trends.

All The Email Tips Your Assistant Isn't Using

 ^ Your face when you see what's been sent out to all your customer base ^

^ Your face when you see what's been sent out to all your customer base ^

Spam Assassin and blacklisted words –
Many email servers will look for specific blacklisted words that are utilized by spam services. When these are seen in subject lines or redundant within the content, they are often blacklisted and you will not be allowed to publish on that server again. Avoid the following words and offer styles:

  • Free, BOGO, %, 
  • Act now, For limited time
  • Subject lines and Pre-headers that utilize sexually oriented, pornographic, hate related and or profanity

Emoji’s
Use emojis in your subject line! Whether to accent specific words or make them part of your call to action (CTA). Experian noted that fifty-six percent of brands using emoji in their email subject lines had a higher unique open rate.

Preheaders —
Nothing gives your reader more piece of mind that you do not spam than a solid preheater. This supports the valuable context of your subject line and can help your open rate.

Scripted Personalization –
Email services offering <inserted name> personalized subject lines are 25% + more likely to be opened.

Content priority —
Use sectional layouts to break up your content and priority — make sure that your primary call to action is listed closer to the top, and then as you descend do so in the matter of importance.

The "Inverted Pyramid" (see example below) –
When laying out your primary CTA utilize the inverted pyramid, structuring the elements of your email so they work together to draw the reader to your CTA, such as a button, video or hyperlink.

^ Click for Enlargement ^

Dimension –
Your email width should be a minimum of 640 pixels, with a maximum of 800 prior to a background color. While I've only outlined width here, my suggestion would be to ensure that the email is not so lengthy as to overstep its intent.

File Size –
Ensure that any large JPEG has been compressed properly to maximize file size.

Alt Text – 
Many email servers still publish an email in text format prior to an HTML format. Therefore, if you want to ensure that you have text in the place of imagery, allowing Alt Text to display in its place.

Hyperlink all images –
If the reader touches any graphic on an email it should be redirected to a location of your choosing. Therefore, take the time to ensure that you have hyperlinked any image to be forwarded to a destination based upon your campaign or messaging.

Negative Space – 
This design principle is simply adding ample white space (or colored “negative space”) around the elements, both text, and images allowing the reader to discern one section from another.

Mobile-friendly –

  • Keep your subject line short
  • Use preheader text
  • Use minimal body copy
  • 16pt sized font usage is a good size for mobile viewing
  • Ensure that your images are large enough to see (I'm a particular advocate of square formatting as well).
  • Place a minimum of two CTA Buttons with in an email, one after your inverted pyramid design, and one at the bottom of your content, prior to your social media icons.
  • Ensure that any CTA buttons are a color that will stand out in contrast to the primary tones used an email.

Video & Animation –
While many of the newer email services allow you to embed video, older lists and legacy email applications often do not. Therefore, my suggestion is always to put an animated GIF in the place of a video and link to the location of the video within the GIF.

 While it's not an actual video, readers are more apt to click through to see the real video, than simply using a static image.

While it's not an actual video, readers are more apt to click through to see the real video, than simply using a static image.

A/B Test –
If your email services offer A/B testing of subject lines or body content, ensure that you utilize this. There are an array of metrics that you should keep your eye on to ensure maximum open rate such as:

  • Does your audience prefer shorter or longer subject lines?
  • Do you have any successful trigger words/emojis? (e.g. "Awesome" "Immediately" etc.)
  • Heat mapping your emails will show you where your readers are apt to click on the page. Over the course of several emails, you'll begin to see useful patterns and redundancies. 
  • The emotional tone of the email content
  • Types of photography chosen

Social Media Icons –
Always be sure to include social media icons to your social graph, in the footer of your email. Additionally, a way to bolster interest in a specific channel is to get a graphic (such as an Instagram photo) that came from that particular channel and link the image to it.

Contact & Feedback –
Creating a contact link is one thing, but often readers assume it is simply to engage in a course of action with the content. While feedback links are often seen as a more passive way of communicating one's opinion but not committing to the content. Lines of communication are extremely important and worthy of aggregate.

Layout Madness –
Be careful not to have too many fonts or style variations on your layout. It's obnoxious and has the uncanny ability to make your messaging come across and amateurish. Only, BOLD items that are impactful, and match your TEXT colors to fall in lockstep with your brand or main image.

^ Click to Enlarge – if you want your eyes to bleed ^

Posted on September 5, 2017 and filed under Advertising, Brand, Content, Process.