High Concept

High concept involves the ability to detect patterns and opportunities, to create artistic and emotional beauty, to craft a satisfying narrative. – Reynolds

Detect Patterns

Every 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month our marketing team meets. We’ve been on social for about 4 years. During each meeting we count our followers and the number of clicks and retweets our content has generated.

During these meetings we’re seeing a surprising trend. The content we’re putting out is not engaging with students.

We tested to see if we can talk like students by having the students talk for us with the Twitter challenge. I created a fake twitter page and a posting page.

I set a timer for 5 minutes and had them post about our new Pocket Workshops. When the 5 minutes were up I was happy.

They killed it. In 5 minutes they were able to generate 21 solid engaging tweets that did not sound like business-speak.

Detect Opportunities

Students are here in the office. They talk like students. They know what matters the most to other students. Let’s have them do the talking. Let’s have the students create context for our content.

Create artistic beauty

Artistic beauty is ephemeral. Create something that is easy to look at. Create something that begs you to interact with it.

Create emotional beauty

Emotional beauty comes from our multiple senses hitting simultaneously to elevate the experiencing a viewing work of art.

When asked  how he created such a beautiful statue, Michaelangelo said that he saw the statue within the marble block, carved it out, and freed it. He saw the potential of the block of stone and pulled it out.

The fact that we know the story behind this beautiful piece of art is what makes the it that much nicer. One block of stone, and this marvel comes out.

True mastery of craft, with applied focus, reveals art by connecting the narrative story with the object that has been created.

Craft a satisfying narrative

Travis Kalanick and his friend had an idea for a taxi service that would allow people to hail a taxi with their phone.

No one thought it would work.

Instead of listening, he got to work testing his idea.

First he drafted up a simple app in a weekend that would allow his friends to hail a cab from anywhere in the city. Then he hired a driver to respond to the requests. Then he gave the app to 10 friends.

People used the service once.

Then he found that all of them were reusing the service.

Kalanick positioned Uber in a small guy roll that makes the success of the company that much more satisfying. Kalanick’s moves were different from what society told him would work. Positioning himself as David to the Taxi Industry’s Goliath makes the current success of the company that much more satisfying.

Next Steps

  • Discuss the kiosk idea at the next full time staff meeting
  • Discuss problem observed
  • Discuss baby-steps to testing solution
  • Scale solution
  • Draft up flowchart of how it will  work
  • Gamification is possible with this thing
  • Build it out!

Context is more important than content

“Context is more important than content.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

What keeps bringing us back to the websites we love? Is it the beautifully designed header images? Does that design make us feel more like we have a design ideal? Maybe it’s the witty writing of our favorite poster?

No, it’s all about content. Or, so we’ve been told.

Fresh content no longer guarantees more views

We keep going back to our favorite websites because they always have fresh new content. We check our Facebook feed for new content. We check our Twitter feed for new content.

When was the last time you went on Twitter to find an old post? You ended up scrolling through the newest content instead didn’t you?

We don’t care about historical information. We want to know what’s happening now!

We’ve been hearing that content drives users to websites. For a while we had a hard time finding the websites with the content we wanted. Then Google came along and created an interface for us to get directly to the content we’re looking for. Google even ranked the results by helpfully placing the most linked pages at the top of the search results.

Now that we can find the content we’re looking for, and there’s so much of it, we’re suddenly more interested in the content creators than the content itself.

If I can get the same content from Bill and Suzy, I’m going to get the content from the person I identify with, respect, and believe in.

I love Paelo. If I know Bill is crazy about Paleo and I know Suzy isn’t, I’m going to go to Bill for my content.

How transparent is your supermarket?

Before I go on explaining the content versus context debate, allow me to make a comparison between websites and supermarkets.

If we don’t know exactly where our food comes from we don’t know which supermarket to support.

We venerate food when we know it comes from a sustainable source. It seems to just taste better when we know it as been grown, produced, and cultivated ethically.

We can get the same kind of food from all the other supermarkets around our house. But we do the extra research to find out how the food is made, how it gets to where we are, and who is affected positively and negatively by our food consumption.

Supermarkets that go out of their way to provide us with a narrative of how they grow their greens, how they bring them to us, and how much of a carbon footprint they require, get our business.

Shoppers vote with their dollars

Armed with this information we vote with our dollars by buying produce from locations that avow that their goods harm the world as little as possible.

This production and transparency of context gives us the ability to vote with our dollars and support those businesses with the most sustainable and ethical business practices.

We are seeing this context over content shift come to the websites we choose to visit because these websites are front-facing stores for our money, our ideals, and who we identify ourselves with.

This craving for transparency about where our food comes from bleeds into all of our social and economic outcomes. We vote and tally our beliefs by our actions regarding what we use our money to buy and support.

Users vote with their attention

If your users don’t know who you are, why would they choose you over your competitor? If the difference between your products and your competitors products is minimal you absolutely need to differentiate yourself.

The easiest way to differentiate yourself is to tell your story. What makes you different? Narratives must be lived to become fact.

We know you have the content, what’s your context?

What’s your story?

 

 

 

The Sweet Science

“There’s a reason why boxing is called ‘the sweet science.’ Critics dismiss the sport as mindlessly barbaric, but where they see violence, those of us who understand and respect it see strategy. In fact, boxing is often compared to chess for the amount of strategic thinking it requires.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

Marketing and boxing are similar. They both require long term commitment. And both require knowing your competitor.

A boxer spends a lot of time analysing his own technique, but spends an equal amount of time analysing his competitor’s technique, too. Even when two fighters meet in the ring for the very first time, months before the match, in addition to their regular pre-dawn training in the gym and practice ring, the competitors spent hundreds of hours studying each other on film. – Gary Vaynerchuk

Long term commitment means trying out new methods and tracking progress through Google Analytics. We have Hootsuite installed on our social media accounts to keep track of how many students like or friend us on social.

The thinking here is to take the next step and start tracking the numbers of our opponents. Something difficult emerges here. Who are our opponents? Who are we challenging?

Like great boxers, great storytellers are observant and self-aware. A great storyteller is keenly attuned to his audience; he knows when to slow down for maximum suspense and when to speed up for comic effect. He can sense when he’s losing people’s interest and can make adjustments to his tone or even to the story itself to recapture their attention. Online marketing requires the same kind of audience awareness, which we can achieve thanks to the tremendous data mining opportunities at our fingertips. – Gary Vaynerchuk

The people who stand out as our opponents are those who seek to take away our resources.

I believe that our opponents are all the online clearing houses of unvetted employment opportunities.

Unfortunately the jobs are not vetted before they are posted on these online job boards and the students who seek out these jobs are ultimately disappointed. They only find out what they’ve gotten themselves into after they’ve signed all the paper work and have actually started the job.

Let’s find out more about our competitors to find their weaknesses and exploit them to drive up our numbers, make our customers aware of our competitive advantage, and provide our customers with a heart-warming story of obstacles, hard work, and solid employment.

You want to keep videos short

41cf2syinfl-_ac_us160_“The average video on YouTube is about 3.5 minutes; after that amount of time, people start to lose interest and click away. The longer the video, the more difficult it is for people to pay attention all the way through.” – Joseph McCormack

Video is a powerful tool. But with so much content it’s difficult to watch all those training videos and marketing studies and still have time to make great work.

Users immediately check the duration of a video before pressing play. In a world where clocks tick by in microseconds, a 10-minute video is an eternity. And your customers will abandon your marketing masterpiece for a quick scroll through Vine, Snapchat, or Instagram.

The content might not be as great but at least they know they can dip in and dip out fast.

Studies show that whereas we remember only 10 percent of what we hear and 30 percent of what we read, we remember a whopping 80 percent of what we see. – McCormack

As a content producer you don’t want to take up too much of your users’ time. It’s an impossible ask, almost like jumping into a pool and hopping out without getting wet. But it is possible with this superpower…

Speed up the playback of your YouTube videos

Watch the video below to learn how to speed up the playback of YouTube videos. Now you can watch twice the content in half the time.

 

If we don’t have to be patient, we won’t

“We’re primed for immediate gratification, and if we don’t have to be patient, we won’t.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

Before the internet, bored people had to search for things to do. They looked in the newspaper for stock updates. They searched the night-life section to find cool things to do that weekend. If anything happened, they read it in the newspaper or saw it on TV.

These days news and entertainment come to us. No one gets to be bored anymore.

These days the supply of information far outweighs the demand. News and games come to us — for free!  With this unprecedented supply of information and entertainment, the demand for it falls.

With so many options in the world, we need to be novel in our approach to saying who we are, how we entertain and engage, and how we help the people we help.

Supply and demand are out of balance in our attention economy. Now you need to scream to get people’s attention.

But what if there were another way. Why don’t we weave ourselves into their entertainment narrative?

Ideas for engaging students and employers with the Manoa Career Center’s social media:

  • Tweet edutainment.
  • Don’t force your users to leave their entertainment channel to engage.
  • Integrate yourself into your user’s entertainment channel.
  • Know that your users love watching Mad Men? Tweet how workplace attire has changed since the 60’s.

 

Suggestions for more consistently seeing the hidden potential in everything

Make this your mantra:

“When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money.

That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.” – Steve Jobs

James Altucher suggests writing a list every day of ideas:

“So start now, every day list 10 ideas. I make a list every day. It can be a list on anything. Today I did a list of 10 kindle singles I can write. One of them I will pick and do within the next 2-3 weeks. The other day I did a list of ideas I could maybe use as standup material. The day before that I did a list of 5 Ways in which Procrastination is Great.

In my first successful business, Reset, I would come up with 10 ideas a day for each of my clients. Ideas that could help them improve their websites. In my business, Stockpickr, I would come up with at least 10 new ideas for features every day. (i have 100s of waiters pads lying around with ideas listed from the past 20 years) When I was running my fund of funds I would come up with 10 ideas a day to get new clients. Other days I make list of businesses I can start. And some days I make list of features that can be added to businesses I’ve already started.

Or blog post ideas. I have 80 blog posts in my Drafts folders as a result. Most of them have good lists but I’m not satisfied with the writing yet. So what happens after a year: you have 3650 ideas. Out of those maybe one or two might be decent. BUT, the more you do it, the better the muscle is. Then people will start saying, ‘Man, you are an IDEA MACHINE!’ I want you to be an idea machine. I really want it for selfish reasons. I need some help on something. Once you are ready you can give me ideas on where this blog is going.”

And finally here’s my advice:

Broaden your interests. Read magazines about stuff you have no clue about. Develop your tastes. Combine new things and dream about the results. Push yourself into uncomfortable situations. Sit with the problem. Pinpoint inefficiencies. Determine from a wide perspective what is really worth doing. Will this be worth the time, energy, etc. Don’t start anything until you know how you want it to end.