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.

From Job Hunt to Employment – My First Week and Journey Joining Clearbridge 

Empowering you to do your best work.

Job hunting can be gruelling. For six months, I searched for the perfect fit. I did everything I could to embrace the energy, excitement and engagement that comes with it, but frankly, I was exhausted. Each step required work. Hard work. It felt like a fight for my future. I was gaining momentum, but I did not feel empowered. I wanted to make positive decisions that would bring me closer to achieving my goals. So I created a mission statement to give me a sense of purpose. I added it to my resume with gusto – 

My vision as a marketer is to empower and inspire people to make a difference in their daily lives

These words, within my experience, proposed change as a way to improve and move forward. Suddenly, I was motivated to find the next step in my career and not just a new job. Suddenly, I was searching for similar words in job descriptions as a way to feed out mismatched opportunities. I felt like I was in control. By developing this meaningful statement, I was working on myself. I started to see that helping others was important to me, and I wanted to find work that would help me grow into a person who could Make Change Happen.

Then I came across a job posting for Clearbridge Business Solutions

Making my routine move, I visited their website. A sentence, written in white, spread across the front page drew me in. Helping you do your best work. It reminded me of my mission statement! I envisioned the word empowering substituting the word helping and knew at that moment that my marketing mind was intrigued. Then I thought, what is my best work? The answer to that? Me. I decided right then and there that Clearbridge was invested in this tagline—they want to empower their customers to do their best work and employees to be the best versions of themselves. This brief exercise in recognizing worth drove me to apply, and the rest? Keep reading.

#bestwayspossible

We always have a choice and the option to take the first step. In the context of job hunting, if we choose the best option, that is, making positive decisions that bring us closer to achieving our goals, then we are empowering ourselves. The concept of connection becomes a critical building block here. Connection is about linking two entities that work better together (think: peanut butter & jelly). When you take time to recognize a connection (they stick so well together) and then work toward building that relationship (how many versions of a pb & j sandwich could you make), you are creating the best ways possible to put yourself in a favourable circumstance (eating the pb & j sandwich), and there is nothing more empowering than that (delicious).

Learning to see

Since becoming a marketer, I’ve been inspired by the work of Seth Godin. He says you can’t be seen until you learn to see, and this was my experience applying for the Marketing Coordinator position at Clearbridge.

My first interaction was with Amanda, the People Operations Coordinator. Bright and outgoing, she started our conversation with a compliment. Now, how often would that be the way to begin an interview? I was drawn to this approach. She acknowledged me (creativity and all), and I appreciated that. Acknowledging or demonstrating gratitude and acceptance is one of the best ways to get to know someone (am I right Amanda?).

After a spirited discussion about my interests, work history and marketing experience, Amanda reinforced our connection through her use of positive language and overall eagerness to empower me through the next step. I was impressed and wanted to learn more about the position and the company. I was starting to see what Clearbridge was about! She scheduled a meeting with the CEO (Ryan) and Operations Manager (Allison) early the next day.

The interview went smoothly, and I noticed something about Ryan and Allison. They were both contemplative, friendly, and engaged. There were moments when I got stuck on a few questions—I get nervous. I used these opportunities to find inward answers and show my resourcefulness. There was a lot of feedback. It felt like we were all learning from each other. By the end of the interview, we were smiling pretty hard, and for the first time in a long time, I felt seen.

I returned to work feeling ecstatic about the new connections I had made. It felt like they were offering me the opportunity to take my career to the next level, focus on what mattered the most, and grow as a person and creative marketer. Minutes later, I received a phone call from Amanda. To my delight, they offered me the position!

Finding #better

Doing better is often described as arriving home. This is what I felt when I joined the team at Clearbridge. Suddenly, there was a better space for me to dream and create (more peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, right). I was welcomed into a cool, bustling office filled with natural sunlight and a sense of possibility. During my first week, it felt like each day was a chance to do better and become a better person. Someone my peers could rely on. I learned that my true calling was not just about fulfilling a lifelong dream or pursuing an arbitrary passion. It was about being connected with the right people and being in the right place at the right time. 

Sitting at my new workstation, I leaned back into my ergonomic chair and beamed. 

When you know something is just right, you know it is (I can’t stop with the pb & j references!). But there are a lot of clues that can help you see better. 

Here are some I can take away from my first week at Clearbridge:

  • When the team takes time to put you through a well-thought-out onboarding process, you know they are devoted to empowering you, helping you feel ready to take on the responsibilities of your new role.
  • Working in a space that promotes collaboration for someone with creative inclinations is living the dream. I can’t wait to see where it takes me.
  • Joining a company that embraces change is everything. This especially matters when you’re creative because ideation thrives in a facilitative environment. If I’m able to grow creatively, I know I will become a better marketer and, in turn, can create and develop the best ideas because I am part of a group of people now who value that too.
  • Feedback is essentially a means of trust. It allows us to discover possibilities, and at the same time, we earn the right to discover our peers’ communication styles. Once we unlock this type of interaction, we can evolve as human beings and accomplish larger goals, like I’ll be honest—changing the world!

In pursuit of innovation

Seth Godin says, “The first step on the path to making things better is to make better things.” This is now my truth since joining Clearbridge.

I’ve always been driven and ambitious. From a very young age, I partook in various extracurricular activities, from public speaking to creative writing and sign language classes to competitions with my classmates on who could act out The Babysitters Club book series with the most panache. Life back then was always about showing the world who I was and what I was capable of.

In my first week at Clearbridge, I feel like that kid again, taking on my dreams as if there were no limitations. I’ve also learned a thing or two about communication strategy. For one, you need a dedicated team that wants to make change happen for anything to improve. You also need to be laser-focused on outcomes and putting the best systems in place to win in every situation. We must constantly be challenged to innovate in our domain, then share our knowledge with one another, our customers, and partners.

We are doers

From snacks of every kind (lots and lots of chips, locally-made ice cream, and most critically, Phil & Sebastian coffee) to a business book library, the environment at Clearbridge supports doing. There’s no hiding in a cubicle as if you didn’t exist. It’s more like—look around you and see. See everyone and everything in its place. I’ve already started working on a social media strategy that will educate and engage our audience around technology, helping them find pertinent information (hello cybersecurity), how-to-dos, tips, tricks, and hacks that every person can find handy. I am also working on a company manual that entails everything from branding guidelines to who we are to our communication strategy. It will be a living document and serve as an introduction for future Clearbridgers.

Building great relationships with great communication

So, it all comes down to this—through empowerment, connection, communication, and the desire to do better (and find the best ways possible), we can succeed in work and life. I know that’s a big statement to make, but since joining the team here at Clearbridge, I feel that is the journey I am on. What’s more, I am starting to build strong relationships founded on intention. We are all here to do great work. We all want to understand that. I hope my time will be productive, meaningful and filled with positive transformation for Clearbridge and me.

How did you feel when starting a new job and what made you think it was the right choice? Share your comments; we would love to hear them!

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?

We’re Tipping and We Need to Find Answers to Our Global Problems Soon

A United Nations report declares we have reached “a breaking point”.

So, what does that mean?

With almost 10% of the 8 billion people living on this earth suffering from malnutrition, 3 million lacking healthy diets, and climate change issues rising to the forefront, it is no surprise that we are in desperate need of a way to produce more food without harming the environment.

The report reviews a few critical ‘climate change impacts’ like reversing water degradation by choosing smart technologies and sustainable farming practices or sequestering greenhouse gases emitted during agricultural activities by employing regenerative farming principles.

And perhaps the most critical solution of all? Deploying technology to enable a more connected agriculture and food industry. In my opinion, we can become powered by data and collaboration, putting us in a better position to come up with answers to big global problems and, in the long term, create a more resilient economy.

Still, to make an impact today, we need to understand the challenges and realities that farmers face now. So your first stop is here.

Read the report – https://bit.ly/3nUtj9b

#savetheenvironment #sustainability #regenerativeagriculture #agriculture #foodindustry #growingpopulation #growthforgood #makingchangehappen

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!

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

 

 

 

Who Are We Campaign – Identifying Top of Funnel Marketing Strategies

This all began at the end of the day, Friday afternoon.

I was leaving i-Open a little bit late. I was put in charge of sending out a Stablebuzz priority newsletter speaking on frameworks released by leading equestrian organizations ensuring a safe return to work for stable owners. My managers (I pretty much work with only managers) were stuck in meetings all day and I was waiting for one to review the final test newsletter. I couldn’t go without his approval. Anyway, long story short, I was finally finished and hopped into the elevator with another man standing there. I did not know who he was, but he definitely worked in the building. He moved into one corner because of COVID-19. He asked how everything was going in the office with us all being back and followed with a classic job interview question: what do you guys do there? I was quick to respond, we’re a tech company and he laughed saying that’s obvious, but what do you do there?

We are all told to have an elevator pitch prepared, but who else only reserves coming up with one for special presentations and interviews? This campaign is based on that idea. The idea that we assume our audience are experts, primed in communication and language technologies. But the truth is, this may not be the case. I’ve spoken with countless business owners, in one role trying to sell digital marketing services. As touchpoint rules say, it always took 3-5 interactions before they were really willing to talk to me. First interactions were like this –

Hey there!

My name is Chona, I work across the street at a company called VanWhistle Media. Do you have some time to speak?

Business owner: Hi. Not really. I am busy at the moment.

So, as you can imagine, not much more can be said there. I could either say no worries, and leave, or, I could provide a more basic, and general description of my goal.

Ah, no worries! I can imagine you are super busy. I have a one-pager that describes what we do with a little more detail. It’s easy to read and my card is attached, so please reach out to me if you have any questions!

Our immediate messaging must be enthusiastic, and look after our audience’s basic needs. Once a certain level of safety or security is established then perhaps, we are able to provide a little something more. Using a hook, we can then present a very basic/general value proposition. In this case, the hook is the one-pager. (I can never forget and it always works out this way – the medium is the message à la M. McLulan!) The value in that is that yes, perhaps the business owner was truly busy, but this does not mean they are not interested. The one-pager gives just enough information to get them hooked. Then once they realize they have interest the relationship begins.

So, why are we in this relationship? As Ezra Firestone, marketing maven and e-commerce guru would say: this is the game. We are all people and we are essentially communicating through various mediums. What this means is that, we are all on the same level in one way or another, however we must learn how to communicate with each other using said various mediums. As a marketer, this means not making the assumption that my audience is interested in what I have to say, but moreover is interested (subliminally) in HOW I am saying it.

I’m about halfway through a Facebook ads mastery course and in the process I have developed a creative ad campaign strategy that touches on the essence of why our group at i-Open Technologies is doing what we’re doing. I’m excited to present it to my team this Friday! Cheers!

Elevate Your Marketing Approach

It’s been a while since we’ve presented. With everything going on – ‘the virus’ (as my daughter likes to say), working from home and adjusting to business challenged by a paused economy, we’ve put a hold on Marketing Training. To be honest with you, I’m just amazed to hear about some environmental happenings – jellyfish swimming in the Grand canal for example, just astonishing. Perhaps all this social distancing and staying at home will amount to noticeable improvements in our current climate. That’s something that actually matters today. I have a theory on how COVID-19 relates to AI, but that’s my vision, for now, have to figure out how to break it down first before I go off as I do, you know the gist. For now, here’s a presentation on elevating your marketing approach. Enjoy!

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