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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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Brainstorming: Yay or Nay?

The old axiom claims that there are no bad ideas… but anyone who’s been in a brainstorming session knows that’s just not true. Since cavemen first sketched on walls, humans have been capturing concepts and exploring possibilities on vertical surfaces.

Certainly in creative agencies, brainstorming is a time-tested way to generate new solutions to thorny problems. Yet as a discipline, it’s typically undisciplined at best.

“Brainstorming is Worthless,” provocatively proclaims a recent article in Inc. “What a brainstorm session should be is a place to challenge the ideas that have already been vetted,” rants author Nicolas Cole. “Not a free-for-all breakout session where anything and everything goes.” Cole thinks it’s a waste of time to have a group noodling together and tossing out whatever ideas happen to flow. Instead he advocates a process whereby each team member has done their own generative thinking and comes to the table with winnowed-down directions they are ready to defend.

Meanwhile, over in the Harvard Business Review, Hal Gregersen takes a thoughtful (long) view on different protocols and processes and advocates a “better brainstorming” approach that he claims yields the most fruitful futures. Interestingly, over 20 years of practice, he has observed that “the people least likely to engage in the exercise and follow the rules are the folks with the highest positions or greatest technical expertise… who cripple the truth-seeking capability of the entire group.” He emphasizes the importance of organizational culture in creating environments conducive to truly meaningful brainstorming. “Leaders must show humility, vulnerability and trust, and they must empower others and treat them equitably.” Sounds like a recipe for all kinds of transformation and growth!

Here at Spyglass, we’re evolving our collaborative creative process (see our Be the Change post) and have experienced the direct benefits of using a more structured, inclusive and nimble approach. We’d love to show you.

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Transform Your Morning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you up with the sun or a reluctant riser? Do you meditate, make to-do lists or chug coffee on the run? In many ways, how we start our mornings sets the tone for what’s to come in the days (and years!) that follow. Such is the premise behind “My Morning Routine: How Successful People Start Every Day Inspired,” a new book by authors Benjamin Spall and Michael Xander, who interviewed 300 highly successful people about their morning routines.

We ordered the book, but haven’t received it yet, so we took the liberty of asking a few people around the agency about their morning routines and heard this:

“I set aside my phone and watch the news while I’m drinking my coffee. It helps ground me in what’s going on in the world and gives me a bigger perspective.”

“On most days I go for a run. Sometimes it’s just racing to the bus stop with a forgotten backpack or lunchbox. But that’s something, right?”

“I take a shower and think about all the stuff I want to wash away… worries, disappointments, mistakes. It helps me start the day fresh and leave yesterday behind.”

“I’d like to say I meditate, but it’s more like I’m just staring straight ahead mindlessly while I’m waiting for the caffeine to kick in.”

Not exactly the breakfast of champions, perhaps, but maybe once we get the book, our habits can improve. Here’s hoping!

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How spooked should I be anyway? AI enters the online medical diagnosis arena

aiblogfullSo you’ve got an ache, a pain or a rash, and you look online only to discover your worst fears—and no one to talk to. Ugh. Before you know it, you’re convinced you’re dying and new symptoms have been psychosomatically activated. Self-diagnosis without context or conversation has profound pitfalls. Now, there’s a new approach likely coming to a digital device near you. The first is Baidu’s artificial intelligence doctor, Melody the Medical Assistant, a conversational chat bot trained on medical textbooks and tested with doctors and medical students in China. It shows the evolution AI has been making online and the way it’s edging into healthcare. Spyglass has had the chance to work with some of the biggest names in healthcare and several very bright start-ups and many virtual assistant apps along the way, so this was of particular interest to us.

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Frightened by content creation? Meet The World’s Most Dangerous Writing App

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Now that content is king, there’s only one thing scarier than not having great stuff—creating it. So, in honor of Halloween we present to you The World’s Most Dangerous Writing App. An app that will scare the daylights out of you if you have writer’s block, but also just might put a little hellfire in your soul when you need to produce your best stream-of-consciousness thinking. It’s a motivating muse, not only for nipping procrastination in the bud, but also for providing a swift kick in the pants when you’ve got a great novel inside you that’s just dying to come out. Don’t fear the (word) reaper.

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Check, check and check: Top April marketing trends we believe in (and see every day)

marketing-trends_BlogWe know what you’re thinking, “Oh, boy, another list!” But this one is good. Spotting trends in brand marketing is a bit of a crapshoot, and generally speaking, only a handful of so-called experts are able to point towards those that become ubiquitous. At Spyglass our clients range from education to healthcare, business travel to banking, law firms to innovative new medical products, and virtually across the board, certain trends have continued to remain important. Here are several that particularly resonate with us as we move into Q2 of 2016.

  1. First and foremost, every conversation needs to primarily be about your customer, not you. You need to listen more than you talk.
  2. Everyone at your organization must be a fluent brand ambassador.
  3. Marketing and sales have to be connected at the hip.
  4. Social media is rarely a strategy and mostly a channel.
  5. Marketing departments need to embrace big data.
  6. The mobile experience is now table stakes.
  7. Virtual reality is coming and you need to get ready for it.
  8. Relevant content is hard to produce, but essential.
  9. And finally, ever-increasingly, clients want to see data before, during, and after any campaign or new marketing effort because they want and deserve ROI.

 

OK, take a deep breath and read a more complete list here.

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Snow blind: Why finding your own typos is a mind-melting task


If you work in the world of marketing and advertising, you know that typos are a killer. They erode the faith of clients, hurt brands, and put you squarely on your heels in a conversation you wish you weren’t having. But the truth is, thanks to some quirky brain activity, its just plain tough to spot typos in your own work. Find out why.

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Why taking a shower may be your best, last resort to brilliance.


Whether you’re marketing to the masses, fixing your bike, doing the crossword or trying to out-Jobs Steve with a sexy new innovation, changing thought patterns can be the key to unlocking a universe of new possibilities. Here’s why.

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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 reasons to squeeze more C in your B-to-B


Spyglass does a lot of strategic marketing for businesses that sell exclusively to other businesses. Whether it’s health care, manufacturing, travel, or technology, one thing always holds true: companies want a more exciting story to tell that is simple, compelling and cuts to the chase. Here’s why.

1. Reward the attentive. Even if you’re selling a business-to-business service, you need to reward the prospect for giving you a nanosecond of interest. That means, being conversational, real and having a sense of humor.

2. Be sexier than you think you are. Today, every business is a retail business. Whatever you’re selling, it needs to look sexier. You have a more attractive proposition than you think. Find out why your brand is attractive, and flaunt it.

3. Act like you like yourself. If you don’t like what your business does for your customers, why should anyone else? All too often our clients say, “everyone says that.” Yeah, well, say it cooler and mean it.

Now, regroup. And watch this smashing video. B-to-B-to-C thinking.

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