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Be the Change

To test and scale ideas faster, Spyglass developed the Brand Collaboratory™—a learning lab approach that involves key stakeholders in the creation of messages and materials. We firmly believe that “doing it together” and iterating quickly outperforms the old agency model. 

 

Are you moving through the day doing what you’ve always done—struggling with (or avoiding) the same persistent business or brand issues? Do you have a scattershot strategy, a mucked up PowerPoint or a story that just doesn’t sing?

Welcome to the club! The fact is, most of us aren’t optimizing our efforts and time. Which makes perfect sense, because individuals and organizations are actually hardwired to maintain the status quo, and we require certain conditions to make sustainable change, especially the big transformative kind.

At Spyglass, we have powerful processes to help our clients break out of their ruts and accelerate the adoption of new solutions—to generate the kind of meaningful results (and paradigm shifts) that so many businesses now require. Here are 3 key principles:

Ask better questions: In the old days, agencies like ours would receive a stated assignment or challenge from a client and begin brainstorming answers. Today, we start by asking new and better questions (an approach that spookily aligns with this meaty HBR Better Brainstorming article). For example, a recent assignment from a client was framed as a marketing communications project. A bit of deeper inquiry revealed that a trust- and relationship-building initiative was what was actually needed—and that’s what we proposed.

Get there faster: Too often it seems like the juiciest (and most differentiating) ideas get diluted and bogged down by the traditional research/review/approval process. To counteract that inertia, we’ve been deploying a new fast and focused Brand Collaboratory™ approach in order to rapidly iterate ideas to a point where they can be evaluated, tested and refined with real audiences sooner rather than later.

Do it together: Now, more than ever, we believe it’s time to reach beyond the marketing department to engage diverse stakeholders more meaningfully in the creative process—both to ensure relevance and build trust. A more collaborative process increases internal enthusiasm, belief and buy-in, which is essential to the adoption of an impactful, market-relevant and potentially game-changing story.

This part is critical, because companies are often structurally resistant to doing (and saying) things in new ways. According to innovation consultant Stefan Lindegaard:Change is frightening to many elements inside the typical organization. Change threatens people’s power, their status, their egos, and, in some situations, even their jobs. Change can make someone’s expertise obsolete and thereby make them obsolete as well. Because people are afraid of change, innovation efforts often cause the eruption of corporate antibodies that fight to kill innovation and maintain the status quo.”

Maybe you’re not trying to reinvent the wheel (or your category) but simply need some fresh eyes and juice to jumpstart your marketing. Let’s get started!

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Choose your words wisely

A nice little primer on seven marketing words to use – and five you should delete from your vernacular. It’s some solid thinking on words that get results and those that don’t.

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Top 3 ways to get your customer hat on straight.


Sure, Spyglass is an agency that works with global brands, but we are based in Minneapolis so it was bothersome to hear that some of Minnesota’s best-known companies saw their stocks decline in the 1st quarter. Large retailers lost value. Best Buy was down, Target dropped, Select Comfort tanked. Even Ameriprise Financial saw a dip. I know what you’re thinking. What Would Spyglass Do? We offer a gratis, broad brush of things for flailing brands to consider.

1. Hit the refresh button. Do something special. Find new reasons for customers to believe in you. Do something to reward them for paying attention to you. Give business-as-usual a kick in the backside.
2. Create some compelling content. Yes, you always need to be creating new brand content. That’s the stuff people share with their friends and family. It keeps you in the conversation. Be smart. Create something that drives people to interact with your brand. Delight your audience. Think how they think. Surprise them.
3. Act like a human being, not a brand. Look like a brand that is “on the way to a good day” and not in the way. Tap into people’s emotions and set yourself apart. Add a little positivity. Avoid insincerity at all costs. And treat flat, unemotional marketing like the plague.

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May Not be a Virgin After All

Like pigs that have been running wild in the calamari conversation , this olive oil thing is another red flag for foodies around the world. Looks like another bait and switch. We learn that pure olive oil is likely not so pure after all. Yet another global conspiracy that hits you right in the taste buds. But there is a larger point here – at least from a marketing perspective. The title slide draws you in. The visuals work as hard as the words. And then it’s all over with before you know it. You get the point. A good lesson for any brand, product or concept looking to build awareness. Get your story down to 15 slides. Make the graphics work as hard as the words. Trim the fat. It’s not just a good exercise. It should always be your starting point. Match your presentation to the attention span of your audience. It never hurt anyone to be brief and to the point. It’s the reason we try to keep our RFP responses down to 15 slides. Because whether you’re seeking clicks, consideration or big dollars from investors, getting to the point faster will always be the name of the game. Of course, some presentations are too complex for 15 slides, but start at 15 and you’ll always have a shot. All that extra content can probably go in the appendix anyway, which, much like the superfluous organ found in the human body, is a vestigial structure that has lost most of its original function through the process of evolution.

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Is it all worth it?

If this was Facebook, and you saw a status like my title, chances are you might start hiding my future updates from your timeline. This is just one example of vaguebooking.

Urban Dictionary describes vaguebooking as, “an intentionally vague Facebook status update that prompts friends to ask what’s going on.” Although not everyone has heard the term, most people have experienced vaguebooking in their own news feed. I saw three on my timeline just this morning – everything from, “I have the best boyfriend ever,” to “I just don’t understand some people.”

What if companies vaguebooked? How would you react if you saw Target with a status that said, “I guess today is just going to be one of those days”?

Showing brand personality can really strengthen a bond between a company and a consumer, but only if done in the right way. For example, Target will always lose to Walmart in the lowest price battle, but many customers choose Target based on its personality and the consumer experience.

What brands are doing a good job of showing their personality? Let us know below!

And when it comes to vaguebooking, I would say no, it’s never worth it.

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