Performance Enhancing Plugs

“I’m laying down my new audiobook. No writing, just spoken words –the old fashioned way.” – Kenny Powers

ABM—Always Be MultitaskingPretty simple, hombre. It’s the only way to survive in this hyper-stimulated multimedia world. Save the quiet moments for sleepy time, when you can ratchet the real world down to ambient fan noise and a TV show with lots of gunfire, car explosions and the sound turned down low. Look at it this way, if the Spyglass Blog was a podcast, done the old-fashioned way with just spoken words, you could do two to five things at once and still absorb our vast tribal knowledge via audio osmosis. Get inspired and get more done. Boom. Works for me.

Take the other day, for example. I was listening to the top-ranked business podcasts, Entrepreneur On Fire and Investor Beatand once I got over the fact that there were no actual entrepreneurs literally on fire (bummer, cuz that’s a good time to get your best ideas out) and no investors being physically beaten, I settled down and started working it. While they were in my earballs quoting Bill Cosby’s winning entrepreneurial wisdom and telling me how Icahn is at it again, I was knocking a new campaign out of the park, whipping up an awesome social media strategy and helping our killer team of strategists, creatives and lightbulb-changers turn another Spyglass client into a Fortune 100 wonder. Heck, I even ate an apple and bagel slathered in Gorau Glas. And that’s before lunch.

I’m not saying it works for everyone. But I strongly suggest ABM. I know darn well you’ve got a list as long as a laptop cord of things to do. In fact, I talked to your boss, and she says you’re not in the hot seat (technically) but a little extra effort would go a long way to put off your eminent firing. Just trying to help.


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Target’s Simplicity Challenge

Simplicity. It’s the key to the success of almost any consumer product. Healthcare should be no different, yet in this particular realm, touting yourself as “simple” and “user-friendly” is a task much more easily said than done. 75% of health care professionals — you know, the people selling this stuff — don’t even understand their own health care plans! Alarming.

Enter Target’s Simplicity Challenge, a campaign that uses the bright idea of crowd sourcing to find the next healthcare innovation. They simply posed the question – what would you do to simplify healthcare? The general public certainly made their ideas known, with submissions ranging from mobile app ideas and outreach programs, to TV spots and experiential gimmicks to help bring health care to the every-man’s level. Judging will be done by 11 industry experts procured by Target, representing the  best and brightest from organizations like Medtronic, United Health Group, IDEO and Target, of course.
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No one ever looks forward to Mondays. The tinge of post-weekend depression mixed with looming meetings and emails make Monday as appealing as a thumbtack toilet seat. In my case, the one thing I do look forward to (and the only thing between my body and the nearest horizontal surface) is a very large coffee in my favorite cup.

On this particularly dreary Monday, I was instagramming my cute coffee mug and thinking to myself how many mornings were owed to my trusty office companion. Mid-post, while thinking of a fitting hashtag, #muglymonday was born. I mean, there were already 17 other cups of coffee on my feed this morning, so I might as well be the first to slap a name on it and make it a “thing,” right? Dreams of a wildly successful hashtag filled my mind, and all of a sudden, I was bouncing around my office making my colleagues take a photo of their favorite cup. Here’s SpyTeam member Laura (the only camera-ready person today) with her Monday mug:




Do you have a favorite coffee or tea mug? Does it help you go from raging, sleepy bull to sweet, smiling lamb in time for your first Monday meeting? Sound off in the comments below or hashtag #muglymonday via Instagram or Twitter! We’ll post mugs from across the globe every Monday. And who knows? It could become the next cats wearing tights.

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Carpe Blogem

“The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.”
– David Ogilvy

I know what you’re thinking. Easier said than done – especially if you’ve read virtually any other business blog. You know it’s true. Most business brilliance being foisted online is boring and more regurgitated than breakfast for 10 from a mother Blue-Footed Booby. That’s a bird listed early in a Wikipedia article about regurgitation.

Being original isn’t easy. Let alone interesting. A blog about business, even a business as fast-paced, smart, sassy and sexy as the world of advertising, gets boring fast. You’re probably ready to quit reading this now. Hang on. All I’m saying is, making this blog worth a damn and not the typical advertising blog like the one’s you’ll find on (list omitted to protect almost everyone) will take a lot of Google linking, clever cookies—and a heck of lot more than a few cans of Coke, a couple bags of Doritos or shots of Patron. It’s going to take clever content and some damn good insights that you have yet to come across. Mind-blowing stuff. Revolutionary ideas. Einstein, rocket science, South Park, New England Journal of Medicine type of thing. Breakthroughs and solid thinking. Stuff that anyone who pulls their pants on one leg at a time and makes other people fabulously successful would think of on topics like branding and creative, social media and mobile, customer engagement, B2B, digital marketing. Anyway. Trust me. We’re working on it. We think we know a guy. Great sense of humor. But kind of a loose cannon.


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IVEY Awards 2013

Spyglass developed the big idea for the 2013 IVEY Awards.
Article from the Pioneer Press on the IVEY campaign kick-off

We’re encouraging everyone to get their superhero on for Minnesota theater’s most prestigious red carpet evening, September 23 at the Historic State Theater.

We’ll be there. Will you?

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Six Essential Tips for Online Events That Boost Your Brand

Company meetings and events are taking place online more than ever. And why not? They’re a smart way to rally the troops when face-to-face meetings aren’t an option. Whether it’s a small group or a super symposium with 800+ attendees, you need a plan if you want to get your message across and understood. Using my experience hosting virtual events around the world, here are my top six tips for hosting an online meeting that puts butts in the seats and eyes on the prize.

Think-through the tenor and tone. First and foremost, strategize how to get attendees engaged with the event. How are you going to keep their attention? What’s the theme? How can you make it interactive? And, even if it’s a serious topic, how can you use a little humor or personality? It doesn’t have to be overly clever, but it needs to make a connection with your audience and give them not just a reason to attend, but a reason to WANT to attend.

Create an invite communication plan. Nothing too fancy, but it needs to be done. One invitation is not enough. A “Save-the-Date” is the perfect opportunity to set the tone and pique interest; and then send a second invitation that contains more meeting info and what’s in it for them and why they should care. Then, plan on a date for the final reminder (I like to use virtual hosts, film clips or animation because they are fun and can have personality). Sending a “day-of-the-meeting” missive is also a good idea.

Let your host do the most.  The presenter needs to be onscreen at all times in some way—even if it’s in the corner of screen. If you are serious about getting a message across, it’s the best way to keep your audience engaged and all eyes on screen—and away from buzzing smartphone emails and alerts. Also consider using that “virtual host” for introductions and segues from speaker to speaker or topic to topic. It might sound weird, but it works. Using things like iPhone’s Siri or text-to-speech software to augment your presentation and cue specific “chapters” can really help.

Know thy virtual event technology platform. The quickest way to send a virtual event south in a hurry is technical difficulties right off the bat. Prep a little. Talk to your online event host to see which file formats work best and won’t interfere with pace or continuity. Do a dry run. Understand and overcome technical difficulties before they happen.

Don’t let them walk away without an action in mind. You need to think how you want the event to affect attendees IMMEDIATELY and what actionable idea they should leave with. What should they do or how should they think differently when they log out of the meeting and “get back to their desk”? What’s their role in making the vision you’ve presented come to life?

Follow up. Conduct a quick survey for immediate feedback. Then post video of the event and send an email to tell attendees where to find it. Keep polishing your presentation protocol and keep the communication going. You’ll be a pro in no time. And keep the momentum going!


Molly Rice is the co-founder and CEO of Minneapolis-based brand consulting firm Spyglass Creative. Rice and the Spyglass team work with companies who need to redefine, reposition or relaunch themselves in the marketplace. The agency’s proven process allows it to assess, develop and deliver a brand strategy and full complement of brand-building tools quickly, effectively and affordably.

Read the entire article on Minnesota Meetings + Events, and check out the video from the 2012 Spyglass holiday party.

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The “God Particle”

Why your office needs to be more like a Large Hadron Super Collider

By now you’ve heard that physicists have all but proven that the “God particle” exists. It was found in the Large Hadron Super Collider, a massive atom smasher on the Swiss-French border where they’re trying to understand the creation of the universe, which occurred in a massive explosion known as the Big Bang.

Apparently the “God Particle” acts like molasses. When other tiny basic building blocks pass through it, they stick together, slow down and form atoms that give the universe size and shape. So, it’s kind of a big deal. And it took the world’s largest atom smasher to reveal the particle. Which is weird. You’d think in order to find an infinitesimal invisible object you’d want a smaller room. But 2,000 trillion subatomic particle collisions later, there you have it. Boom: The God Particle.

With Best Buy phasing out telecommuting for its corporate workers, hot on the heels of Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer demanding workers put in hours at the office, it got me thinking about what we do to make our universe at Spyglass stick together. And it is our space—big, open, collaborative and conducive to smashing ideas together to reveal even better ones. Comfortable couches, beers in the fridge on Fridays, good lighting, open work spaces and floor plan. In other words, it’s a pretty nice place to be. Creating the right space is so important because if your people are going to be there, you need to make the most of their time together – not just shove them in some cube or office with a door. Get them together. Bounce ideas. Build rapport. Interact.

Don’t get me wrong. Telecommuting and tele-presence have their place. In our own business we’re out of the office a lot. Meetings, photo shoots, travel, networking events. And working remotely is always in the mix, as is freely coming and going from the office – a change in scenery is always good for inspiration. But nothing replaces being live and in-person when it comes to getting things done, finding consensus and sharing sparks of insight at the drop of a hat.

Understanding the need for the right office space and a getting-things-done working rapport is kind of like gravity and Isaac Newton’s discovery. It’s there all the time, whether you explain it or not. The trick is to identify how to make it work so that your people want to be there and will make the most of the time they spend together. Because, unlike the universe, your deadlines aren’t expanding. Time is tight. You need to make it matter by creating the right space for discovery.

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Six ways to rally your company during a rebrand (and how your agency can help)

Marketers know a rebrand is more than a shiny new logo or ad campaign. It requires a compelling vision (including your positioning) that can be understood and articulated by all—starting with your company’s leadership and employees.

Whatever the reason for the rebrand—entering a new market, targeting a new audience—your agency should help you sell the rebrand inside your company’s walls. Your most potent brand advocates are your colleagues. After all, if they haven’t bought into the rebrand and the philosophy behind it, why in the world would anyone else?

Having helped hundreds of companies go through the branding and rebranding processes, I have identified six steps to making sure your company is ready from the inside out.

To learn more about the 6 steps read the article at Marketing Profs

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4 steps to avoid brand decay

Updating your brand doesn’t have to be a daunting process. Here are the steps to make sure your brand is fresh, focused, and poised for the future.

You change your car’s oil every 3,000 miles, see your doctor every year, and visit the dentist every six months. But when was the last time you brought your brand in for a tune-up?

Taking your brand off the shelf, dusting it off, and giving it a buff and polish every five years is ideal. And 10 years is the bare minimum. Whether it’s front-and-center or simmering in the background, your business has experienced change over the last decade. Sometimes it’s a massive shift, like surviving a merger or acquisition or entering a new market, and sometimes it’s more subtle — achieving incremental growth or reacting to ongoing turmoil in your industry. Regardless, if you haven’t taken a hard look at your brand since George W. Bush was sworn into office, it’s time.

Updating your brand doesn’t have to be a daunting process. These four tips make it easy to give your brand a tune-up that’ll keep it running smoothly:

Find out the 4 tips at iMedia

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Step one to smart marketing: Write your ‘brand map’


FOR SMALL-BUSINESS OWNERS, figuring out how to differentiate your company is likely one of many tasks on your to-do list. But it’s a crucial one.

It can be harder than it seems. Often, owners are too close to their companies, which can make it daunting to approach their business from their customers’ point of view. Think about it: How many total people hours have you and your team spent talking about your brand and marketing over the past year in various meetings? Now multiply that by the average hourly value of your time.

When we have our clients do this exercise, the average of what they have spent talking about this with little or no real output is $75,000 in one calendar year. That’s time and money that could be better spent elsewhere, actually getting results.

So, how do you stand out from the crowd without wasting money and time? I can tell you from working with more than 140 companies during the past decade, it doesn’t take a million bucks and endless months to get your story straight and out into the marketplace. It simply takes the right approach.

‘Because we have to’
As a branding agency, we often receive inquiries from business owners asking us to redesign their website, update their sales materials, create a logo or develop an ad. These are all valid tactics—but only if they are working in concert to help you accomplish your strategic business goals. Many business owners initially tell us they spend money on branding or marketing “because we have to,” and then they’re often frustrated or disappointed with the results.

There’s an underlying culprit at work here: many companies have yet to uncover a simple and compelling way to express who they are, what they do and why someone should do business with them.

So what’s the secret to being happy with your marketing because it’s having a positive impact on your bottom line? I recommend following four proven steps we use to get the job done in a timely manner and at a cost that won’t give you sticker shock.

1. Define your space. 
A good marketing foundation starts with a one-pager that we call a brand map. It clearly states who you want to be (not your mission, but your vision for your company), and includes: the single and precise reason why people should do business with you; who you want to do business with and the key messages that will resonate with those people; where and how you fit into the competitive landscape; what position you need to take in order to differentiate yourself; and, last but not least, what you want people to think, feel and say after they have done business with you.

2. Bring your story to life. 
Once you have internal alignment and agreement on your brand map, it’s time to bring your story to life. We recommend developing three strategically on point and differentiated marketing concepts that bring the story (based on the brand map) to life in a powerful, proprietary and compelling way.

How do you know which concept is the right one? Ask yourself questions such as: Will this position resonate with my customers? Does it address a very specific customer need or want? Will it give us a competitive advantage? Is it believable? Is it doable?

If you hit a wall or if you’re working with other partners or investors who have differing opinions, simply return to the brand map for guidance and validation. Above all, always remember: Your marketing approach is not about you; it’s about connecting with your customer.

3. Get your story ready for market. 
Congratulations – you’re off and running. You’ve chosen the concept that best brings your story to life and represents what makes you different.

Now, take a look at all of your customer touch points, and ensure they’re in alignment with and ready to support your new story. Check out your customer space, whether it’s an office, warehouse, retail space or other location; review your sales and service processes for enhancements—even simple things like how you answer the phone can have a major impact on what your customers think of you.

We recently helped a professional group of board-certified emergency physicians in the Twin Cities brand and launch their new retail medical concept, The Urgency Room. To help ensure the UR delivered on its promise of being “The Fast, Affordable ER ue along with the estimated wait time.

And the bottom line is benefiting: The first Urgency Room opened last fall and is currently tracking at 350 percent ahead of goal. The takeaway: Defining and delivering a positive, consistent customer experience at every turn is essential to success.

4. Spread the word.  
Even the best strategic approach needs a boost of support to get some traction. Work with your internal and external resources to make sure your brand is introduced flawlessly within time and budget constraints while successfully accommodating the changes inherent in any marketing program.

And don’t forget your employees. Even if you only have a handful of staff, it’s really important for them to be included in the communication process, at least at some level. That way, they’ll be energized and engaged in the new story – and help you tell it in a consistent way.

Now is your opportunity to tell the world about your company and build your brand through channels that may include advertising, public relations, pay-per-click, targeted marketing, special events or social networking.

If you keep your eye on your business objectives alongside your brand map as you continue to tell your story, you’ll save time, money and maybe even smile when you sign those checks for your marketing investment.

Read the article on Upsize

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