Creating Sustainable Marketing Practices

In late October we started looking at how we create content for social media. Making a list of all the places we were posting was a wake up call. It was taking a huge amount of effort, and the conversation was scattered all over the place.

As our product offers have grown we thought it would be easier to break off our newest work and put it on a separate website. I post my artwork on my own blog.

The only way I can keep up with it is if nothing happens. No unexpected things that need attention. Those weeks are rare. So I end up working way too many hours trying to keep up.

What sucks up the time?

I need to redesign the way I relate to social media. While it might be ‘better’ to have separate parts of the business with it’s own special messages and branding, I am clear I can’t keep that up. We are too small a company to sustain it.

I enjoy searching out resources and pointing them out to my networks. It can be a slippery slope. I can justify aimless internet wandering as searching for content.

I think of myself as an artist, but in reality I spend most of my time writing. Is there a way I can get more balance between the visual and verbal?

Consolidating and Restructuring

I’m restructuring how our social media and communication happens. I’ve merged newsletter lists, so I am sending out one every two weeks to everybody. We are redesigning our webpages and consolidating our blogs.

We’re deep in the design cave, so you won’t see as many posts as usual.

I’ve found myself trying to follow advice of social media and marketing experts. Only thing is when I do there is no time to do all the other things I need to do to keep the whole business operating. I’m rethinking what sustainable practices look like for MY business. Looking at the metrics. What actually drives revenue? And what are things that might feel good, but don’t help move the business forward?

Hope we’ll uncover answers in the coming weeks……

Using visuals to understand your audience

How visuals give clues that can inform your marketing and content

Tom Crawford from VizThink recently invited me to facilitate part of his pre-conference session, Visualization for Learning: Approaches, Tools, and Applications to Improve Effectiveness, at the Brandon Hall Innovations in Learning conference.

We asked each person to select photos in response to the question, Why did you come to the conference and this session? In small groups, they told their stories to each other. In the second round using the same question, each small group created an image together with input from each person.

These are the videos of the small group reports. Each small group used the same set of 200 images from the VisualsSpeak ImageSet. I highlighted the main points from each group below the videos.

  • expansive nature of knowledge
  • connected and web-like
  • solve our own problems
  • we will get tools
  • truth shining light on things previously in shadows
  • access for everyone
  • stands out
  • help pieces come together

  • we are on a path and its all good
  • learn tips to for keeping training from being boring
  • inclusive of everyone
  • universe to investigate
  • keep it simple and on target

  • taking things we are familiar with and recombining them
  • origami sheets can become anything
  • taking resources that we see at the conference, bringing them back and shaping them into something new
  • excitement and energy form people who are here
  • same building blocks, but new tools
  • beating the drum to share the knowledge when we get back
  • everyone putting their heads together to share knowledge

  • people get together to share ideas
  • discovery, people coming together
  • discovery of each other
  • interesting things
  • path to discovery & knowledge
  • learning new & interesting things
  • contrast and same, create intriguing ideas
  • measuring your progress

Working with the visual themes

What do you do with this kind of information? First, you can look at the visual quality of the images. Many of them are radiating forms, several groups using the exact images. So visually, radiating forms are attractive and speak to why people came to the conference.

When you look at the conference logo, all the words surrounding the brain are horizontal. They could have been arranged in a radiating pattern. It would have made the design more dynamic, and perhaps subconsciously more attractive to people who are looking for innovation.

The group participating in this workshop are particularly important to the success of a conference, since they were willing to make the investment of time and money to attend both the conference and a pre-conference workshop. Looking at the visual quality of the images these attendees selected, and repeating them in the marketing materials, could have helped to speak to them.

Working with the word themes

You can take the themes or the words people say, and build them right into your marketing descriptions. This group of people are interested in:

  • bringing tools and ideas back to their organizations
  • learning from each other, sharing knowledge and ideas
  • making sure the learning is accessible and inclusive
  • making sure the learning is on target and you can measure progress
  • learning new things they can incorporate with what they know, restructuring and combining

When looking at these trends, you do need to be conscious of what the group has seen before. Like the advertising that brought them to this common event. Looking at the conference description in this case, the bolded section of the ad copy  is consistent. Perhaps that part of the message stuck?

The theme of this year’s conference isGet your head in the clouds.”

Why clouds?

  • Tag clouds, which are synonymous with Web 2.0 technologies
  • Cloud computing, which refers to accessing shared computing resources
  • Many original ideas come from innovators having their heads in the clouds.

We’re not inviting you to come daydream. Instead, this event will provide you with actual skills you can apply to advance learning within your organization.

You can also take this type of insight and apply it to physical space. This group wants to connect with peers. Are there conversation areas? Does the space support informal connections especially as people get tired? You need SEATING! Standing in the hall isn’t the same as being able to chat with someone at a small table.

What else do you see for patterns?

I hope this example gives you ideas for how you can use visuals to understand how people are thinking about something. In the process, they have fun and connect with each other more deeply.

Do you see anything else Brandon Hall might want to pay attention to for next year?