Why I Love Asynchronous Communication (a.k.a. Emails)

I love to write, and emails are a breath of fresh air.

No editing.
No fancy words.
No issues over length.
No need for profundity.

It has been almost five years since I left Bell Mobility to pursue a career in marketing, and one thing that has drastically changed is how often I communicate via email.

I miss the simplicity of it all.
I miss reaching out to my clients daily.
I miss the back-and-forth motion that builds connection.

At Bell, I had so many great relationships; I used email to build better ones along the way. It was just so damn efficient. Templates allowed the writing to take shape quickly. In mere minutes, I was sending off concise and compelling messages. Over and over again. Each email was re-read once, at most twice, and then sent so I could continue to the next case. It was a beautiful workflow, and it was all supported by Salesforce.

The strategy behind it? Starting, stopping, continuing. Perpetually. The true definition of email really—asynchronous. This is also marketing. For a later topic!

And by the way, I am trying to write more like Seth Godin. Also, finding my way back to my university days. My favourite professor and mentor, Paul Woodrow, graded an essay I wrote on the fallacies of Coca-Cola, commenting in tiny writing and bright green ink, “Swift and punchy, Chona!”

So begets my email manifesto –

I will always try to write swift and punchy. 

If I can remember to, that is.

Alas, I have a pop quiz for y’all.

I want you to decide which entry below is authentic, meaning not edited. And which one is “fake”, as in completely and utterly revised from its original style + tone.

How can you tell?
What gives it away?
Which is written better?

Ah, so many questions to ponder, but if only we had more time.

Off to bed, now, enjoy the exercise!

Entry 1

For all my years as a Corporate Account Manager at Bell, some of my fondest memories included writing emails. I loved how fluid and uncomplicated it was to craft messages on the spot without spending copious amounts of time editing. I would not mind working on some ideas to “wow” our current and prospective customers with something easy to read, memorable, and impactful!

Entry 2

I spent many years as a Corporate Account Manager at Bell, crafting friendly and professional emails. I thought it was so exciting (yup, I love communication!) to be able to write something on the spot that didn’t require any editing. It’s an art form really. Would love to work on some ideas to incorporate more emails into how we communicate with our customers.

Learning Your ABCs – A Quick Guide to Effective Communication Practices

Effective communication is simple, straightforward, and accurate. 

a

b

c

It follows a linear path and is easy to digest. 

a a

b b

c c

Still, in its best forms, it can empower and inspire us to uncover new ways to respond to business demands and challenges. This is change!

a b c 

For example, by understanding what type of communication drives our customers to choose us over the competition and then using that data to promote growth, we can harness communication to cultivate opportunity.

a b c 

a b c 

Here are some things to consider:

  • Be self-aware and understand the need to adapt your message to your audience
  • Communicate what you are doing, why you are doing it and how you are going to get there
  • Build a system or process, then be accountable and track your progress
  • Focus on transparency, empathy and consistency to elevate trust 
  • Create opportunities for learning and development
  • Practice active listening to understand and feel the situation
  • Share your milestones, challenges, concerns and victories 

How do you develop an effective communication strategy? What are some important values that support your communicative work?

But Local First Facebook Ad

The ‘support local’ movement is a force driving change worldwide. It moves people to want to purchase fresh, healthy products from farmers. It creates a connection between shoppers, where we can ignite conversations to examine how we’re doing our part and why it’s so important. Products are showing up more readily and in places where you least expect to see them. Overall, there is a feeling of togetherness, kindness, and open-mindedness that helps promote awareness and captures the interest of new, existing, and prospective customers.

I wanted to create a fun digital ad that spoke to the nature of the ‘support local’ concept, one that explores options (expressed using a carousel format), eliminates predisposition (articulated in the ad copy), and ultimately grants us the ability to choose (the call-to-action ‘but local first’) – take action (decide what you want to eat for breakfast) or take action through inspiration (are your eggs local? Well, you can get them laid the same day of delivery! How awesome is that!). The inspiration trickles through in a matter of seconds affecting all those involved (conveyed through various images, colours, animation, and the image of a family). As individuals watching the ad, we feel more attuned to thinking about what’s on our plates, how it got there, where it comes from, and why our consumption habits can negatively or positively impact the planet. The focus remains on the following values –

Support local

Empower people

Help the planet

Grow the community

What are your thoughts on this ad? If I could make one change, I would use a graphic of a globe in place of the farming graphic (at the end of the video). Does it speak to you and make you feel empowered to support local? Let me know your thoughts; open to discussing with you!

Instagram Grid Layouts

grid, which features multiple images split into a visually appealing frame, is one way to brand your business on Instagram. 

Three benefits (that connect in the end) – 

  • Command attention: make a lasting first impression; if a viewer’s average attention span is about eight seconds, they will have some time to absorb what you have to present to them.
  • Stand out: imprint your audience’s mind with a quick taste of your identity; give them immediate access to your information and interests while establishing credibility and authority.
  • Tell a targeted story: communicate who you are to your existing and potential followers while stimulating emotions, and on a practical side, organizing the layout of your images into a narrative.

I created these grids when reviewing the masses of content I have made over the past year for DirectFood. store’s email marketing strategy (a whole other topic on its own). I like how the colours and shapes seem to speak to one another, and the creative copy helps deliver a message in tune with the selected graphics and photographs.

If you like this sort of work, let me know. I’m happy to share more impromptu design posts here for you!

How Ad Imagery Could Translate Into Product Packaging

The stack of magazines was impressive. Elle, Vogue, Architectural Digest, Bon Appetit and People. As a 13-year old, I just wanted to fixate and rip, fixate and rip, fixate and rip. Slowly, I was adding to my expanding wall collection, and I was proud. How were the ‘best’ images selected, and what made them ‘iconic’? What mattered to me at the time—creativity, originality, colour, composition—made it onto my closet doors, locker and school binder clear insert. If I could think of these images in my sleep, they became iconic. I will never forget one in particular. The triangular red and white logo juxtaposed against a black and white photograph of a girl pouting while a man anticipates… 

What intrigues us about this image? Almost instantly, we find ourselves peering in, linked to the experience. We sense she is in the wrong place; however, we do not feel that she does not belong or would rather be elsewhere. Time and space are interrupted. We ask ourselves, “Will it occur?” But the chain of events does not matter. What matters is that we are suspended in a rare and captivating moment. And because the image is black and white, we are transported to the exact scene where the ‘film’ unravels. Then the bold red of the typeface and the logo bring us back to life, and we are suddenly alive; the advertisement has won us over…without a guess!

If we know that people can impact an ad’s efficacy, should we consider using people on food packaging? Could we use the interaction between a man and a woman on a coffee bag, for example? In my opinion, yes. Imagine this. A tired corporate executive finds herself standing in a Whole Foods Market. There is no one around. Soft music flutters in and out of her ears. She is standing in the coffee aisle, looking at bags and bags and bags. There’s so much unique packaging, she’s not sure what to choose. But then she sees it—a couple set in black and white. The photograph is beautiful; the packaging seems bound by eternal love as the image wraps fully around the product. It portrays something the executive longs for on a deeper level. “I’ll go for this,” she thinks, grabbing it to pay.

Using people in ad imagery is not a new concept, but could potentially be an innovative idea in the food and beverage domain. We know that ads are geared to make us think and feel. And there’s a whole range of themes emotional ads can trigger, from love to empathy to excitement. I don’t think I’ve ever spent valuable time and money on a product that didn’t trigger an emotion somehow. Even if it may go unrecognized—the power and influence of an emotional experience are unforgettable.

Should packaging portray a feeling using images of people? And if so, what are the most effective ways this can be executed?

How Art on Food Packaging Affects Decision-Making

Oldhand Coffee

Koichi Kiyono

Process

Luna Coffee

5 Ways to Differentiate Your Brand

In life, different is good. 

It’s about who we are and how we showcase ourselves to the world. 

In branding, it’s much the same. 

Although being different can be a challenge. 

Why?

We don’t want to clash with the norm. We want to be unique and memorable.

I came across an excellent article about brand differentiation and put together this quick presentation.

Let me know what you think!

AI 2

This is a follow-up to AI (Share of Voice).

Humanistic data governance is my description of AI or:

The process of managing the availability, usability, integrity and security of data in global human societies, based on internal data standards (emotions) and policies (law) that also control data usage (science).

Effective data governance ensures that data is consistent and trustworthy and doesn’t get misused.

This is crucial. My observations from the past ten years show that misuse occurs when governing bodies are unstable, in other words, not properly equipped (mentally, socially, physically, spiritually) to manage said availability, usability, integrity, and security of data.

So, what then is data in my interpretation of AI?

It is energy or every interaction (digital and human) we make.

This energy exists on a conceptual framework or platform. In essence, it can be continually transmuted (actions and results) without much intention required from either the digital or human end.

Much like a geographic information system (GIS), energy provides us with the ability to capture and analyze spatial and non-spatial data.

Part of this data includes our insights, behaviours, and emotions. We capture energy through action and produce a result that causes a chain reaction in human evolution and thought.

There are many points for me to cover here, which demand much more time and consideration. For now, I will try to get my words and ideas down, then perhaps we can come back to it in a couple of months and reassess.

Noninterchangeable: not able to substitute with another. 

For some reason, AI is not readily accessible. It is readily available, but coming across an entity that fully understands its definition within a humanistic context is variable, if not completely unchartered and arbitrary. Still, you can, or perhaps I should mention myself in this situation, look at a person and consider them, as if reading their humanistic data governance level. Again, we come back to the same problem over and over again.

Oversimplification. Redundancy. Incorrect assessments of human error.

Why does it matter? Perhaps, I am too futuristic here? Do I even know the answer? I could have known it in a previous life, let me try to unearth my potential here.

In AI, I spoke about a physical product as a term best used to describe an outcome. I suppose this is the differentiator. We have yet to determine what the physical product will be. We are continually creating new products that utilize AI; however, we have not symphonized the ultimate result.

Oddly enough, the appearance of COVID-19 altered our progression, mostly due to isolation. Without physical interaction, we lose our common ground. We can choose to see this as intentional or casual. Again, I wrote:

In digital reality, a new power takes actionable items related to spatial and non-spatial information to influence a decision-making process, which leads to a result.

If the digital reality we create is not appropriate, lacking power or substance for the sake of laziness and against the challenges/problems we are facing like – damage prevention, protection of the environment, safety regulations, reporting, food shortage, food security, and traceability, then the laws that possibly govern us from a higher resource may have put a stop to it.

That’s the problem. We are starting from square one. 

Product direction requires a dream that can be unlocked following precise steps as if when you awoke from your goal, you could remember every vibrant detail.

As if we were previously positioned in individual dreams, with rulers and usurpers systematically working together, ‘after’ coronavirus, we are retracing our steps, back to the models we have built, starting the race yet again with our shoelaces untied.

The funny thing about being in digital marketing is that this race is entirely peer-driven. The humour is not even funny. We have come to a full-stop and truth be told, there is cooperation, albeit, indifferent. I’m just referring back to new power. As Dave Gerhardt, CEO of Privy mentions in almost all of his LinkedIn posts – how we communicate is vital, and we can’t keep talking about things so that people don’t understand what they’re reading. Well, we could, but what would be the point in that?

And I haven’t even delved into the idea of machines! This is TBC, of course…

For next time,

A conceptual framework is an analytical tool with several variations and contexts. It can be applied in different categories of work where an overall picture is needed. It is used to make conceptual distinctions and organize ideas. – Wikipedia

 

 

 

A Poem About Differentiation

A differentiator is what sets you apart from the competition.

It’s playing sports vs playing ball.

It’s smiling when life throws you those base curves,

because by the end of the day, everyone will remember.

In marketing, a differentiator makes people revel.

At times in silence, but that silence is awe.

You have differentiated your product when,

people know your name by your vision,

your philosophy, your mission statement.

Your audience begins to recognize your slogan,

they begin to identify with your colours.

You are en route to differentiating when,

you feel nervous and yet grounded.

At the end of the day,

you feel like you’re taking a risk

like you’re in trouble for something because

it pushes boundaries, it causes discussions,

it breaks the rules but never forget,

you are leading the group.

A true differentiator cannot be physically realized, because it has infinite gain at infinite frequency – Wikepedia

Digital reach is UNLIMITED. How does art make a difference? COOL is an UNLIMITED concept. Take that back to the couch when you break. Like someone in sales talking about sales, talking about art takes vision. It takes direction and you must be a leader through and through. I am obviously trying to push myself. Always, always tryin’ ta be that purple cow. Let’s remind the crowd again –

Purple cow:

The concept of the Purple Cow was introduced by Seth Godin in his groundbreaking book by the same title.  Recently I read it again because it is full of ideas and case studies on how to make your business remarkable. When you drive by a heard of cattle they all look like cows and it doesn’t seem out of the ordinary.  But if you drive by a heard and standing in the field is a Purple Cow you have to tell someone because it is so different.  When something forces you to remark on it, by definition it is remarkable.  This is what your new business strategy should be focusing on, finding ways to make your customers talk about your products to their friends.

I write about differentiation in light of the launch of DirectFood.store, an online platform that enables local farmers and vendors to sell their products to consumers, restaurants, and care homes. The food is fresh. SO FRESH. The food is local. SO LOCAL. And you get it right away, to your doorstep, the next day. DIRECT TO YOUR DOOR.

I helped to develop the brand identity which you can witness on our recently revamped website. And I run our social media campaign, which is meant to be fresh, in the definition of COOL, like Will Smith Fresh Prince of Bel-Air COOL, that shirt is sick COOL, those kicks are dope COOL.

COOL is just one aspect of the brand, obviously my favourite. But DirectFood.store is also about:

  • Supporting local businesses
  • Engaging the community
  • Spreading the good word about fresh, healthy, organic & local food
  • Promoting a good cause for the good of all people

Just wanted to share some graphics I created that are live on the website. And you need to follow us on Instagram, to check out the REAL DEAL grid. 2 posts per day. Slammin’ balls against the ground. ALL BALL SPORTS. It’s bold. It’s cheeky. It’s collage. It promotes our core values + image. It’s inspired by a retro van, who needs a name…any ideas?

I AM STILL AN ART DIRECTOR. PERIOD.

WHY DOES RANTING END BEFORE YOU’RE FINISHED?

Never let anyone sway you otherwise. If you’re capable, you’re capable. You don’t go back in time. You move forward. And forward-thinking people, know the game. But they’ve got their own game going on, and other people play that. That’s it. Goodnight.

PS – Props to Gurwinder!

PPS – A little lightness. I am lovin’ my work, my day, my grind at i-Open Technologies!

Delivering Real & Sustainable Technology Solutions for a Better Planet. Hi Ray!

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Brand Purpose Presentation

Here is my latest marketing training presentation. Hope you enjoy it, if you have any questions, feel free to reach out!

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