Brought to you by Poke The Box, i.e. Seth Godin.
He is The Man. Read this article and read his books.
Some people live in this world—other people change it.
The epidemic doesn't have to be fatal, but it often is. Don't be a victim.
Vaccinations save logos.
It's possible that the most difficult thing to manage about people is their expectations. Compound that by dealing with highly subjective subject matters and you've got a recipe for relationship implosion.
This spectrum was created in response to the oft asked questions: How important is the creative work? and How much is it worth to me? Between the fact that everyone's kid is a "graphics designer," the deluge of cheap, third rate creative firms, and the overblown arrogance of the few really good ones, it's important to assess a business's, or situation's, real needs with respect to their communication work. What's more, it's important that the business understands what they should expect for the effort and resources they invest.
While you can take this whole thing with a grain of salt, we think it's fair to say that most businesses can and should expect work within what we've highlighted as the Optimum, Realistic Quality Range.
We wont say "you get what you pay for," cause that's cliché, but you get the idea.
This is a tool and a process that is especially helpful for leaders who develop strategies requiring the compliance of others.
In Switch, the Brothers Heath discuss the rational and emotional minds using the metaphor of an Elephant, a Rider, and a Path. The end result is an excellent read on how we might encourage lasting change in an organization.
In a like fashion, the Behavior Modeler lays out a step-by-step process for taking a pre-defined strategy and effectively disseminating it to all participants in a way that is clear, motivational, and measurable.
This is one of our very favorite tools. It has so many practical applications. The most important thing to understand about the Fit.Alytic™ process is that it helps us and our business "partners" to make sound, strategic decisions in a more objective fashion than the classic "well we don't like that logo cause it's orange." That helps keep us from wanting to kill each other or great work, which is strategically or objectively defined.
Fit.Alytics™ is really about strategy alignment. Not sure what else we can say about this one. We use it every possible chance we get.
Throughout this site we reference our tools and processes within the context of our philosophies or services. MineCubed is a perfect example of what we're talking about. It's really the keystone of all we do. The process has three sections that each break up into individual tools or modules. The overall process is highly adaptable to meet both macro and micro business objectives, and to fit any size or category of business.
The whole point of The Excavation™ is to identify all of the core, relevant facts & known quantities about a business, and then to aggregate that information in one place in order to:
- Paint your business within a relevant and holistic context
- Reveal import insights to help develop strategies
Successfully marketing your business can be a big problem. The idea of a “problem” is relative, but one thing is clear; without one there is no solution. And, without identifying the right problem, any solution you create will most likely fail, being misguided at best.
The Excavation™ is like beginning to put together a jigsaw puzzle. Without the picture on the front, the box is full of small pieces that give you no idea of what you’re dealing with. We need to dump the pieces out on the table, turn them right side up, and organize them by color, value, or texture.
Another analogy is like walking onto a crime scene. We need to bag and tag every last detail before we know what we’re dealing with and what we’re going to do about it.
The more brutal facts we can turn over, the less brutal this whole process is going to be in the long run. This tool guides you through some very detailed Q’s while you provide the A’s about the key factors that currently surround your idea, business, category, and market in general.
The name "Souliloquy," is an overly clever mashup of the concept of the "soul" and the "soliloquy," which is a dramatic device where a character expresses thoughts or feelings to themselves; like a monologue. Picture Hamlet with skull in hand.
We think the soul is a great metaphor for a brand, which is why we love Plato's quote:
The soul is the essence of a person, that which decides how we behave.
Like the name, the process is a comprehensive mashup of creative briefs we've used at past agencies, books we've read, and pains we've learned from.
Ultimately, we move from the facts we identified through the Excavation™, to articulating and committing to strategies we can use to make sound tactical decisions on all future initiatives. The final product is like the bible for the business, and can also be used in micro contexts to help develop parameters and guidance on individual projects.
What we've found is that once this is done well, good soulutions—er, solutions—tend to make themselves.
The MineField™ helps bridge the gap between strategy and execution, or as Marty Neumeier puts it, logic and magic. That's one of the core things we pride ourselves on; the ability to fuse that critical, holistic communication process into one relationship, as opposed to being fragmented or neglected altogether. As in the art of war, the more purposefully and strategically placed the mines, the better the chances for impacting your intended target.
As you may have deduced, this is also a critical process in the development of an effective marketing plan. That means a plan where you stop "doing stuff," and start doing the right stuff.
On a bit of a tangent, here is a free tool for you that will instantly make you (by saving you) thousands of dollars. If you are not going through a process like this, or if you don't engage in tactics that are tried and true ROI generators for your specific business, stop doing all marketing—effective right now. No, seriously. Your ROI wont be any worse off and your expenses will be significantly lower.
Ta-da. You're welcome.
We often use this diagram to help illustrate how the business of communication looks through our lens. We're often approached by someone because they believe they need help creating a specific tactical element, e.g. "Can you do a logo/website/TV commercial/etc. for us?"
The answer of course is "Yes, but..." That's where we tend to lose folks. While the execution is important, it's this relatively slight matter at the end of a long spectrum of work. That isn't to diminish the amount of time, talent, and resources that go into creative work—quite the contrary.
We've found that by approaching communication work in the above fashion, while tedious up front, always nets far better success with the tactics in the end (success defined as tactics that work significantly harder for your time and money), as opposed to the way people tend to approach it:
It's a lot like that school teacher that used to slap your hand with a ruler over your sloppy penmanship. You hater her at the time, but you've thanked her ever since.
Communication can play a major role in influencing a change in behavior. We follow the basic model above in approaching all such strategies. Let us expound on the illustration just a bit:
- The Idea: By it's nature, an idea is a nebulous concept. Philosopher and plane crash survivor John Locke defined it as "whatever it is which the mind can be employed about in thinking." For practical purposes, we tend to define it as a real solution for the real need of a real person. It's critical to be able to identify and articulate what that is and then do your best to vet out your conclusion before moving on.
- The Story: We define stories as ideas that take on a life of their own. A good story is information worth having, and even better, information worth sharing. That's why we all love books and movies. Storytelling typically has three crucial elements: plot, characters, and a narrative point of view. While we don't always take a literal approach to checking off each of those boxes, communication that influences behavior employs similar principles to help ensure that your recipients clearly understand your message, why they should care about it, and what they need to do next.
- The Presentation: People can poo-poo the value of aesthetics, but presentation is everything (at least at first). How do you dress when you go to a job interview or out on a first date? See? At the core we are all emotional beings (even accountants). We can form our opinions after knowing very little. In fact, how much did you really know about the last presidential candidates outside of CNN soundbites and SNL sketches? Yet, you still had a really strong opinion didn't you? The most important thing we can do here to be effective communicators is to make sure our story is interesting and credible. That brings us to our final quadrant.
- The Delivery: Once someone's bought into your spiel you've set up some kind of expectation. The first step is to clearly understand what it is so you can attempt to manage it. If you do what you say and meet people's expectations, they'll like you for it. If you can manage to over-deliver, they'll be irrationally loyal to you. When it's all said and done, it's really the collection of experiences that form someone's opinion of you. If you can back up your story and your presentation with consistent, appropriate, and delightful experiences, you win.
In summation, we use The Communication Cube as the basis for all of our tools and services, in case you were wondering where all that was heading.
Communication theorist Harold Lasswell has a famous maxim which is widely used as a working definition of communication:
Who says what to whom in what channel with what effect.
W. Barnett Pearce claims that we "live in communication" (as opposed to just something we do), basically asserting that our method or tradition of communication defines—on an individual level—what it means to be human.
It's all pretty heady stuff, but one way we talk about it is to say that:
Communication is the air a relationship breathes.
If communication ceases to exist the relationship dies. If it's stale, people are going to leave in search of something fresher.
The illustration above is intended to show where we at Mine Academy see our role within an organization.
Communication not only pervades all aspects of successfully executing specific projects, but it is also a key factor in tying related projects, processes, and relationships together (i.e. compliance).
Our mission and each of our tools and services are designed to help facilitate success in business by filling in all the relevant gaps with effective communication, which we define as:
In Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, he says “The world does not accord with our intuition.” His point is that human behavior and communication are generally counterintuitive. We are often amazed when seemingly great ideas get no love while ridiculous things go big. In truth, we as humans willingly do stupid things for absolutely no good reason. There is incriminating evidence all around us. Allow us to present Exhibit A: The Car Ribbon Magnet
Not to be overly harsh, but seriously? This is a phenomenon?
Somewhere at this very moment lies the next flash-in-the-pan business prosperity. What are the odds it has anything to do with anything we're associated with?