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  • feedwordpress 23:08:04 on 2016/05/11 Permalink  

    Disrupt culture. Break through. 

    It's no secret that advertising is getting harder. There's been an explosion in the number of touch points, and the cost and complexity of achieving scale has ballooned accordingly. At the same time consumers are becoming more empowered to avoid ads, more distrustful of brands, and have more messages vying for their attention than ever before.

    A recent global study by CEB of over 250 marketing initiatives across more than 60 brands and 20 industries found that the only factor that statistically differentiated good performance from great performance in campaigns was when a marketing idea was culturally disruptive.

    Brands were categorized in several buckets, and researchers found that product-focused messaging, emotional or entertaining creative, and affirming a strong, shared belief with customers were all techniques that were NOT predictive of breakout performance. Culturally disruptive campaigns, however, were 32% more likely to achieve breakout success.

    Good news. There is a formula to cultural disruption. It starts with identifying a shared value or belief that brands have with their customers. It then becomes disruptive by advancing the debate about that shared belief. This is in contrast to an affirming approach where the brand simply supports the shared value.

    The idea is to go beyond a "That's SO me!" reaction to a "Hey, I hadn't thought of that," one. Components of a highly successful culturally disruptive idea are when it challenges a cultural norm, is surprising or provocative for influencers, advances a societal debate, and links to a key brand differentiator.

    Why does this work? First, by attaching to a pre-existing construct in your target's mind, your campaign is doing less heavy lifting. Rather than attempting to construct a notion in your customer's mind, you are addressing one that already exists.

    Second, a disruptive idea challenges that existing notion, which requires a higher level of active mental processing. This is much more likely to inspire social participation and sharing. This allows the brand’s message to spread, reaching a greater audience for a low cost.

    If you'd like to discuss the opportunity for a culturally disruptive idea to create breakthrough impact for your business, send me an email: lmcgehee@tractionco.com and let's arrange a time to talk.

     
  • feedwordpress 19:43:43 on 2016/05/09 Permalink  

    Traction’s a Winner…Again! 

    Traction has won not only 1, not 2, but 3 Communicator Awards! This year, we’ve won Award of Excellence: Marketing Effectiveness, Content Marketing, Award of Distinction: B2B Branded Content and finally Award of Distinction: B2B Integrated Campaign. 

    All awards fall back on our successful, "Lenovo: Users Happen” Campaign, where you can view a brief video our work here. We are honored to receive these awards after learning over 6,000 entries were submitted. Thank you to all for your support, and congrats to all other winners of the 2016 Communicator Awards. 

     
  • feedwordpress 17:21:37 on 2016/05/09 Permalink  

    Traction up for BMA Agency of the Year! 

    Traction has been named a finalist for the BMA Awards in the Agency of the Year (under $25M) category! Congrats to the other two finalists, Stein IAS and Quarry. Best of luck to those great shops. The BMA (Business Marketing Association) will announce the winner at a gala event in Chicago on June 1!

    In addition to that, they have already named winners in two other categories and Traction picked up the gold for our "Lenovo: Users Happen" campaign for Best Integrated Communications Program and Best Video Production!

    Congratulations to our awesome clients at Lenovo and to the team at Traction. Also, big shoutouts to our media partner on this account, Levelwing, and production partner, Criminal. Couldn't have done it without such a great team!

     
  • feedwordpress 19:51:43 on 2016/04/25 Permalink  

    Theo named BIG Star of the Year 

    Traction’s very own Creative Director, Theo Fanning was honored last Thursday at sfBIG’s Big Star 2016 Awards as Creative BIG Star of the Year. sfBIG is the Bay Area’s largest digital marketing networking organization and the BIG Star Awards recognize the achievements of the best agencies, work and talent San Francisco has to offer. Congrats to Theo and all other winners from last week's event!

     
  • feedwordpress 05:13:14 on 2016/04/16 Permalink  

    Traction up for 3 sfBIG Awards! 

    The sfBIG& BIG Star Awards are coming to town and Traction is a finalist in three categories. sfBIG (San Francisco Bay Area Innovation Group) is the Bay Area's largest digital marketing industry organization, so we're thrilled to be recognized among the best in SF!

    The three categories are (drumroll, please):

    Best Video Campaign: Lenovo

    Best use of streaming or video-based advertising including branded integration, short-form, or long form in 2015.

    Best Boutique Agency

    Recognizes an agency with fewer than 50 people that has made its mark on the San Francisco market in 2015 through excellence in their work, their dedication to the community, and contribution to advancing innovation in the industry

    Creative BIG Star of the Year: Theo Fanning

    An individual working in the creative department of an agency who has displayed outstanding skills and enthusiasm in bringing to life the story of his/her clients' businesses.

     
  • feedwordpress 22:56:39 on 2016/03/22 Permalink
    Tags: , competitive advantage, competitive benchmarking, competitors, decision making, , disruption innovation, , , hybrid electric vehicle market, , , innovation exercisees, innovation labs, McDonald's, non-competitors, , reverse reasoning, reverse thinking, Toyota, wining   

    How Could (X) Do (Y) and Win? 

    How Could (X) Do (Y) and Win?

    In business, it isn’t easy to compete with industry leaders. It’s hard to anticipate your direct competitors’ next moves. Given the increasing occurrence of disruptive innovation, it can seem nearly impossible to predict the completely unpredictable — such as a non-competitor entering your market or niche and crushing you.

    Competition from non-competitors entering your industry, market, or niche can and does happen. Want to improve your company’s ability to predict unexpected competition (and even fortify your performance against current competitors)? Challenge your team with creative reverse thinking exercises.

    One of the reverse thinking exercises RE:INVENTION uses in our Innovation Labs and Workshops is called “How Could (X) Do (Y) and Win?”

    HERE’S HOW IT WORKS…

    Divide your team into small groups and then ask them to chart the path, process, and activities a non-competitor could take to proactively enter one of your sectors or markets and usurp your current competitive advantage. The more disparate the non-competitor the better. An example: how could McDonald’s enter the hybrid electric vehicle market and beat the hybrid engineering team at Toyota?

    WHY IT WORKS…

    How Could (X) Do (Y) and Win” changes the normal/logical direction of competitive benchmarking and shifts the focus from whether something might happen to HOW it might happen, thereby encouraging creative thinking and problem solving. It not only enhances your ability to predict unpredictable actions from non-competitors; it helps you hone your positioning and strategic advantage against known competitors. You’ll also reveal hidden assets, potential weaknesses, and profitable opportunities.

    Decision making involves both forward and reverse thinking. Improve your team’s reverse thinking capabilities and you’ll boost your company’s ability to innovate.

    ********

    Kirsten Osolind is a brand and business reinvention strategist with executive team transition and M&A due diligence / brand integration experience. A former Fortune 100 executive, she has worked for four of the world’s most innovative companies according to Fortune Magazine™ as well as advised numerous middle market and venture-backed growth stage companies.

     
  • feedwordpress 00:15:47 on 2016/03/16 Permalink  

    Facebook Canvas is a game changer 

    This article was originally published in Ad Age.

    It doesn't take a marketing genius to tell you people spend a crazy amount of time in front of their phones. And there's no sheet of glass humans stare at that is more desirable to advertisers. 

    But the truth has been that other than pre-roll, most mobile advertising options available to brand marketers have simply sucked. The unchecked proliferation of ad tech is arguably the worst thing that ever happened to our industry, and it only gets worse in mobile where the technology is far less mature.

    Facebook has played its own part in the "ad mess" that has withered brand trust in digital. In an effort to get brands to shift TV budgets online, it has introduced digital GRPs, but a sophisticated marketer will raise an eyebrow when asked to pay for "view" counts defined by three seconds of video -- with no sound.

    Martin Sorrell has described that yardstick as "ludicrous." I'm inclined to agree.

    But the state of mobile advertising has changed with the recent launch of Facebook Canvas.

    Here's why I believe this ad product has the potential to be a game changer for brands in mobile: 

    1. It's fast to get in. 

    The first thing you'll notice when you click on a canvas ad is that you are instantly transported to an immersive, app-like brand experience. Engagement is a priority for brands in a digital world where advertising is so easy to ignore. Having a full-screen interactive canvas to showcase your brand story simply delivers that engagement in a snap.

    That snap is important. Canvas is certainly not the first immersive ad format that's been developed, but the fact that (at least in the units I've seen) there is virtually no load time means that impatient phone users won't abandon the ad before they experience it.

    2. It's fast to get out.

    There is a fine line between immersiveness and intrusiveness. Does this experience sound familiar? You accidentally click on an ad on your phone, and you're unintentionally taken to some page that takes an interminable 15 seconds to load. You feel like your phone has been hijacked.

    Facebook Canvas ads have a little arrow in the upper left corner that reminds you that you can simply swipe left to escape an ad. By the time your thumb crosses the screen, you are back in your Facebook feed. Painless.  

    Users learn behaviors quickly. It is my belief that this quick escape feature will dramatically minimalize the potential intrusive nature of an immersive digital experience. People will be less hesitant to engage because the commitment they make by clicking on an ad is so quickly reversible.

    3. It's an answer.

    Content marketing is all the rage. Brands are recognizing that in order to connect with customers, they need to create marketing users actually want to consume. The question then becomes, "What do I do with all this awesome content I've created?"

     Many brands stick it on websites that their customers never visit. Other brands, with more of a focus on e-commerce, fret that content will take visitors out of their funnel. 

    Facebook Canvas is an answer to the question about where to put content. It's like delivering a small website right to your customer's thumb.

    4. It's easy to build.

    The authoring environment for Canvas requires no special coding knowledge to create. Great content still requires an investment to produce, but you can put your dollars toward what matters -- the content -- rather than the shell it sits in.

    I opened Canvas Builder and stitched together an ad in 10 minutes. Think about how you're spending your budget building a customized HTML5 banner ad that requires a developer with a specialized skill set to produce.

    I, for one, would rather see that money go toward the creativity, not construction. 

    But will it stick?

    With Facebook Canvas, an engagement is an engagement. You know what you're getting, and you know that the impressions you're paying for are impressions you're actually making.

    Facebook boasts 12- and 18-second engagement rates in pilots conducted with Asus and Coca-Cola. These numbers are strong, but brands will only succeed in gaining traction on this platform if the content they produce is great. 

    Moving forward, I would expect other platforms to emerge that imitate the fast, seamless and immersive nature of this platform outside of Facebook. The appeal for brands and consumers is real. But the ultimate success will be determined by brands' willingness to invest in content people actually want to consume.

     
  • feedwordpress 20:22:27 on 2016/03/15 Permalink  

    Traction named a top Digital Marketing Agency 

    Today Clutch published an updated report on top San Francisco digital marketing agencies. The research leverages Clutch’s proprietary Leaders Matrix methodology, mapping each firm's focus on digital marketing services against their ability to deliver on clients’ expectations.

    “The selected companies that have the ability to keep up with digital trends and create innovative, cutting-edge digital campaigns that deliver great results to their clients,” stated Eleonora Israele, Analyst at Clutch.

    Clutch’s assessment is based on over a dozen quantitative and qualitative factors, including company experience, client list, industry recognition, client reviews, and market presence.

    Thanks, Clutch!

     
  • feedwordpress 19:19:56 on 2016/03/11 Permalink  

    The ad blocker problem is real 

    I recently attended the iMedia Brand Summit where I was interviewed about the problem this industry is facing with ad blockers. Check out the video to see what I said.

     
  • feedwordpress 00:21:01 on 2016/03/05 Permalink  

    Is an emoji worth 1,000 words? 

    The use of visual language is skyrocketing with 2015 seeing a sharp increase in its use. The Oxford Dictionary choose an emoji – officially known as ‘Face with Tears of Joy’ – as the word of the year in 2015. Last year also saw GIFs become a mainstream way to explore and explain the world. Memes are a large part of our online experience, especially on social channels.

    At first, digital imagery was used as punctuation for text, but now it can transfer the subtext, or even the entire message itself. The rise of emoji use on Instagram and Facebook correlates directly with a decline in the use of slang; people are replacing words with pictures. If your brand uses social media for insights and metrics, it’s time to find ways to get smart about possibly including visual language in your brand voice, and definitely in your analysis.

    There may be data for brands in consumers’ use of pictures, but at this point it raises more questions than answers: What does a blue heart vs. a yellow heart vs. a purple heart mean? If a user puts an image next to a product, is she more likely to buy it? And unfortunately, social listening tools do not yet read or analyze images like emojis or GIFs, so if consumers are using them to talk to your brand you may have a hard time “hearing” them.

    Just like consumers, brands significantly increased their use of visual language, emojis in particular, on Facebook and Twitter in 2015. And at least 250 brands created their own emoji keyboards last year. Many brands seem to be using emojis just for the sake of using emojis. While there is certainly nothing wrong with experimenting with the growing visual language trend, especially if it fits with your brand strategy, make sure you aren’t just jumping on the hip bandwagon without adding value or utility (see examples below). Go for clarity over “cool.”

    Fortunately, there are some examples of brands that are using the visual language explosion in a thoughtful way:

    Perhaps the most well known example is the award winning Domino’s Emoji Ordering, in which consumers simply tweet a pizza slice emoji to the restaurant to order a pizza. That’s taking something that is often relegated to being punctuation and making it highly functional, baked right in to the (extremely easy) customer experience.

    With a Change.org petition signed by over 33,000 taco fans, and a lot of accompanying PR, Taco Bell successfully petitioned for a taco emoji. Part of the reason this stunt went over so well is because it was about the target audience and a broader love of tacos rather than just about Taco Bell.

    World Wide Fund for Nature created a fundraising campaign that encouraged users who frequently use existing emojis of animals to donate towards the conservation of real endangered animals. This tapped into an emotion and was more about the cause than the organization.

    Popular with educators, GE launched EmojiScience to encourage youngsters to expand their knowledge of science through a series of experiments. The brand extended the campaign with a web series featuring Bill Nye explaining scientific topics using easy-to-understand emojis.

    Visual language is not right for every brand. Memes are sarcastic and humorous by nature. Cute, candy-colored emojis don’t inspire a tone of authority and trust. And a brand accidentally using an off-tone, misunderstood GIF has PR-disaster written all over it.

    Brand managers need to be sure they understand the emoji/GIF/meme, etc. to prevent it from being hijacked or interpreted in a negative way. It ALWAYS comes down to your audience – how will they react and will they understand it in the intended way. Brands that people turn to for serious insight and advice – like finance, insurance, and healthcare – should probably shy away for the time being. No one will think less of you for never using visual language, but they might if you use them poorly. 

    Visual language is here to stay and, like any living language, will continue to evolve. Emojis have become more inclusive, for example representing different skin tones and same sex couples. But this brilliant new effort from Always shows that there is still work to be done – female emojis are stereotypical and limiting, especially in the professional emojis. Visual language is all about better communication, so people need to be able to see themselves and their exact feeling or reaction in their choices of visual language.

    It’s natural for brands to want to humanize their marketing efforts and mimic how real people communicate – and these days that means including imagery in the equation. If your brand is considering visual communication to connect with their customers, let’s talk. Email me: lmcgehee@tractionco.com

     
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