Inside the Designer’s Studio: Pat Hazell

pat-hazell-microphoneMeet Pat Hazell, chief creative officer at Sweetwood Creative in Austin, Texas. One of the original writers for NBC’s Seinfeld, Pat is a Tonight Show veteran, and a critically acclaimed playwright. And, lucky us, Pat is also a creative director with whom we have the pleasure of working on both client projects and internal Designing North Studios uber creative projects as well. In fact, he is the co-creator of our annual event, Knight of the Roundtables.

Nigel tried to pry some guilty pleasure secrets from Pat during his podcast interview, but it appears that Pat is really and truly, as Nigel puts it, a good egg. As a child magician, Pat loved the creativity that he could infuse into his acts, learning what worked and what didn’t as he attempted to engage and enthrall his audience.

He sees every act of creativity as an act of courage – a campaign to fill the space while simultaneously adding value. His greatest challenge in the creative process, whether it’s writing for stand-up comedy, crafting a script, or penning a new score, is finding a quiet space outside of his shower – or as he calls it, going into a Russian sub and closing myself off. He’s currently seeking that solitude to put the finishing touches on his musical Grounded for Life, a farce about being stuck.

Pat’s favorite and least favorite words? You’ll have to listen to find out. Spoiler alert, there’s a hint to one of those answers in this text.

Happy listening.


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TDNP: Buffalo’s Ice Creamcycle Dude

Why is James Karagiannis designing north*?

It’s summer. It’s hot. If you’re a child, there is perhaps no more welcome sound than that of the Ice Cream Man’s bell ringing or music blaring. Can you remember hearing that sound, then rushing into the house to gather any and all change? In the secret drawer, under the sofa cushions, on your dad’s bureau – frantically searching?

James Karagiannis, better known in Buffalo, New York as the Ice Creamcycle Dude, cruises the streets of Buffalo eliciting just that reaction. Except some of his customers are short of spare change.

James frequents disadvantaged neighborhoods, bucking others’ “irrational fear of the inner city.” Though the children are dying for an icy treat just like kids in more upscale neighborhoods, they often can’t afford it. As a kind, but small businessman, it crushed James to see the disappointment on their faces, yet he knew he couldn’t afford to give away the goodies to all the needy children.

So like any good entrepreneur worth his salt, he developed a solution. He began raising funds so that he could give away ice cream to the kids when needed. He created a social contract with the children. Before receiving the treat, the creamcycle recipient had to write a thank-you note to the benefactor, creating a connection between donor and recipient.

Happy children. Happy donors. Happy Ice Creamcycle Dude. Happy community.

*Many people in this world “add a little extra” to whatever they do: their career, how they live, the relationships they nurture, or just a random act of kindness – and we consider that *designing north* – designing your life and living it just north of the average bell curve.

James is designing north. Are you or someone you know? Tweet us. We’re looking for the global count.


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Digital Transformation: 25 Years Then and Now

I had an interesting discussion with a friend last week. In her late 40’s, she recently embarked in a new career in selling real estate. We talked about her digital strategy, and I was rather surprised at how much she already knew about the digital marketing landscape.

As this month marks the 25th birthday of the first public website, I realized what a unique position some of us are in. We have lived through the entire evolution of the modern World Wide Web as adults. We have the ability to understand how the world operated before the advent of the web, as well as be comfortable in the current (2D) web-based world.

The next quarter century promises to bring yet another revolution. Virtual Reality (VR) is here now, and the VR web is racing down the road to reality. Though as Casey Yee, co-creator of Mozilla’s WebVR standards team, states, we’re not there yet.

He reported to FastCoDesign.com, “We’re wondering, what is a link going to look like in VR—the blue underlined link in text works on a page. That’s the status quo. But what does that look like in VR?” Yee asks. “Is it a portal? Is it a bounding box around an object? Do you walk up to it? Do you touch it? There are all sorts of questions around what that looks like in VR.”

So back to current reality – back to my real estate friend. She’s realized that she can take advantage of her unique position in the digital evolution. She understands that older clients need marketing materials that may be vastly different than those of the millennials. She also realizes that those entrenched older real estate agents and brokers who have until now enjoyed first page search engine results, are about to lose their coveted status. They’re being lapped by savvy upstarts who are breathing life into content-rich, fully responsive websites, with a keen eye to search engine optimization (SEO).

What will the next 25 years look like? That’s anybody’s guess. Perhaps as suggested by FastCoDesign.com, it may not exist at all. Instead we’ll all be lured away from a democratic web by the Apples, Googles, and Facebooks of the world – each inventing its own metaverse.

At Designing North Studios, we can help your firm navigate the next quarter century of digital evolution. And we can do it in plain English without all the industry jargon. We get it. We can help you and your firm get it too.

Give us a jingle – we still accept calls from humans – for now.

888-850-NORTH


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Inside the Designer’s Studio: v:shal kanwar

stanford-featured-vishalv:shal kanwar is a man of many talents and is possessed with restless energy. In fact, we weren’t quite sure that he ever slept until this podcast revealed (spoiler alert) that indeed he does. As one of Designing North Studio’s go-to creative directors, he has been instrumental in a number of high-profile digital products. He is intensely focused on user experience – delivering streamlined, consistent, common sensical experiences that delight our clients and their customers.

In this episode, we learn more about our Indian born, African raised, colleague’s creative processes and passions. In addition to his digital chops, v:shal has a bachelor’s degree in finance, has worked as a professional fashion photographer in Asia, and is a sought-after disk jockey in world music. He’s produced dance music for festivals all over the world. He relishes chaos, detests homogeneity, and is not a fan of dubstep.

Hear the rest in v:shal’s own words:


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5 Tips for Managing the Digital Product Design and Development Process

Everybody knows that the three most important words in real estate are location, location, location. But did you know that the three most important words in managing digital product design & development are communication, communication, communication?

No, this is not a new Geico ad. We recently interviewed Designing North Studios’ Managing Director and Executive Creative Director Lisa Peacock  and Head of Technology Nigel Peacock about how best to navigate the sometimes stormy seas of digital design and development. The interview was timely, as we just completed a retrospective on a major digital product design (yet to be unveiled to the public) – a process we undertake religiously after every big digital endeavor.

What tools or processes are most critical to the successful execution of a digital development project?

Nigel:

If the decision is solely ours, then we employ the Agile development methodology, which has consistently worked well for us. Depending on the Nigel_Peacock-colorclient’s preference, we can employ offshoots of Agile such as Scrum, Kanban or even Extreme programming.  That doesn’t mean that we can’t adapt to other more traditional processes, however, such as Waterfall or Critical Path Method (there’s one for the teenagers). That said, we often find ourselves working in a hybrid environment to accommodate a particular client’s internal processes. Whatever the preferred methodology, we do insist that a decision is made early on in the engagement usually during the discovery process which ensures that we get everyone on the same page thus completing stage one of “communication, communication, communication.”

Lisa:

Yes, and I think that the daily stand-ups are probably the most beneficial or critical element of that process. Every team member who is deployed on the project is part of the daily stand-up, and is expected to report on what they’re working on that day, what’s next on their task list, and any blockers or impediments that might cause them to not complete their task.

Nigel:

I would add  that it’s imperative that those meetings are kept to the brief three-point agenda that Lisa mentioned. In fact the meeting leader, the “Scrum master,” has a responsibility to keep the stand-ups organized to the point of being regimented and steer each contribution to a 5-10 minute slot at the same time every day.  Longer discussions can be saved for the “Meet After” or “Huddle.”  Working with a virtual team means that we don’t have the luxury of “water cooler” discussions, so tools like Slack and Basecamp are vital additions to our project arsenal, and allow us to continue conversations outside of the stand ups. Or we can just say “Hi’ to make sure we keep the team socialized and the energy levels up.

You’ve both managed countless digital projects over the course of your collective careers. What are the biggest potential pitfalls to be wary of – the perennial hang-ups?

Lisa:

designing-north-studios-lisa-peacock-pointingTwo Things: Business Requirements and Business Rules. Not keeping requirements top of mind throughout the project, and not documenting the product’s business rules effectively so that they are not lost in the hand-off between Design and Tech is critical. Establishing requirements up front, which is part of an Agile process or any project process for that matter, is the easy part. But it takes strong leadership to continuously circle back and hold both the requirements and subsequent business rules up against decisions points as the team progresses through a project.

Nigel:

Yes, and steady tracking of the requirements and designs makes it easier to eliminate disagreements as they arise. When you encounter a conflict between a proposed UX solution from the designers and a technical solution from the developers, we’ll grab the applicable business set to help inform a direction. I would also add that guiding the customer toward defining the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is paramount to any product launch success. It’s super easy to get excited as the product begins to take shape and keep adding more and more bells and whistles until you eventually have a difficult time reaching the finish line. Keeping a backlog of great ideas, with a quick prioritization indicator for add ons later is critical to keeping the creative thinking logged. It also helps to remind clients that you can eventually get everything you want, but not all at once. This is where Agile, used properly, can be a real asset.

Speaking of settling conflicts, how do you solve conflicts that aren’t necessarily settled by a review of the business rules?

Nigel:

branding-design-gallery01Even the most well documented, evolved business rules can still be open to interpretation when the development rubber meets the road. It’s really important to have members of the design, development, and analysis teams joined at the hip from the project inception to deployment.  Rather than constrain enthusiasm or creativity, we tend to let ideas flow freely, then before committing to them, we’ll have the Tech team make sure that designers aren’t writing checks that can’t be cashed.

Lisa:

Hey now, expertise comes at a cost my friend. Ha! No, this is true. Creativity can jeopardize scope. A good creative director will spot it when its happening. I would also add that the designers can often help to rein-in the tech team too when their solution is more elegant than might be needed for a particular requirement or business rule. Again, daily stand-ups can give tech a better understanding from the design and business teams as to what the customer not only wants but really needs. Then assumptions aren’t made along the way that can cost everybody extra time and money.

You touched on time and money and that translates to budget. What tools do you use for scheduling and for tracking budget?

Nigel:

Typically we use Microsoft Project for the project schedule and Google Docs to communicate high level planning.  Depending on the customer preference we will use a variety of development planning tools, but most often focus on Microsoft Team Foundation Server (TFS) or JIRA for sprint planning.

Lisa:

In terms of tracking project budget, we’re a Harvest shop. Everyone works to a detailed time sheet that’s approved every week. Harvest reports make it easy to see exactly where you are, and forecast burn rate which is especially helpful when talent is working on more than one project at a time. Specifically, for tracking design deliverables, we like Trello, and find it to be an effective way to assign tasks, see what’s coming up next, what’s in-review with the client, and finally fill-up the complete column once a deliverable has been handed-off to tech.

What happens when a designer or a developer just isn’t getting it?

Nigel:

You know, that’s honestly one of the best parts of our business model. We’re a blend of freelancers who have worked together on a variety of projects. When we select our team, it’s after Lisa and I have a good feel for the type of client we’re dealing with, the type of project we’re tackling, and the methodology that’s going to work best for the client. We handpick the team from there. We’re not saddled with having to use anyone “on the bench” just because they’re filling seats at an office.

Lisa:

And look, despite that flexibility, we still need to have the fortitude to acknowledge when we’ve got the wrong person for a particular task. We recently had a very talented designer who came out of the chute with the client’s favorite overall design for a digital product, but whose follow-up design comps kept missing the mark. Rather than beating our head against the wall, we just made the change; swapped out one talent for another talent more suited to the pace and ‘feel’ for the product brand direction. It worked out great, in no time, we were back on track. It was the right move.

Nigel:

Again, our business model gives us a lot of flexibility. We usually shoot for the Extreme Programming model in that we assemble a team dynamic which comprises a mix of business experience, technical talent, innovators, and leaders but most importantly a team that works together, understands each other, and just gets off on producing quality products.

Any final thoughts or advice?

Nigel:

No process is perfect. We see digital product design & development as an iterative process always. We’re continually improving and refining how we tackle new projects. But without question, effective communication between team members and between DN and the client, is paramount. And actually, a true strategy we believe in.

Lisa:

I agree with Nigel, and would add that having people who are generally happy, energetic, and who come to the table with the DN mindset we’re always looking for in our stars, is what I strive for. We put together teams filled with people who enjoy what they do. It makes life much easier during crunch time. You can have the best full stack developer on the planet, but if everyone hates working with him, it can make for a rough project. Respect for one another and collaboration are key.

Nigel:

And I think that when team members have a common goal and a mutual respect for one another, it also eases the process. When everyone has a solid understanding of the scope of the project and has respect for each other’s abilities, it goes a long way. 

Top 5 tips for effectively managing a digital product design & development project:

_______________

1. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate.

Conduct daily stand-ups. Every team member knows what he or she is working on that day and that week. Blockers are addressed and mitigated.

_______________

2. Revisit requirements & business rules.

They’re established during discovery with the client and are revisited frequently – Scope creep kills the project, erodes motivation, and makes planning a pain in the ass.

_______________

3. Establish an MVP.

Make sure the project plan has a clear definition of the MVP and successfully execute that first. Refer to the “wouldn’t it be great” list later, and don’t let that distract anyone.

_______________

4. Assemble the right team.

And don’t be afraid to make changes when needed. One wrong apple makes the whole tree look like it needs water.

_______________

5. Iterate.

No process is perfect, so keep striving to refine your processes with each new project. Wisdom comes by learning something every single day.

_______________

Ready to get started on a new digital product or redesign?

GIVE US A HOLLER

_______________


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The Designing North Project: Bob Votruba – One Million Acts of Kindness

Why is Bob Votruba designing north*?

For most of us, reading headlines about mass killings elicits gasps of horror. The mental images sit with us for a while, and we find ourselves contemplating how on Earth any human being could do such a thing to other human beings. Eventually, the routine of daily life begins to soften the hard edges of those images, until finally they dissolve from our daily consciousness.

No so for Bob Votruba.

Mr. Votruba was so aghast at the horror of the 2007 Virginia Tech mass shooting in which 32 innocent people were massacred, that he was changed forever. Or at least for the last eight years and counting.

For Mr. Votruba, the tragedy became an epiphany. He quit his job as a 35 year veteran in the home building business, sold his major possessions, and set out on a journey – more of a pilgrimage or odyssey really – to promote his new life’s mission.

“One Million Acts of Kindness is a goal, a lifetime goal, for each and every person who’s young enough. Anybody under the age of 30 mathematically can still personally perform one million acts of kindness through little things, some of them bigger things, and what I like to call ‘kind acts from the heart.’” [Quote from 27east.com]

He now travels the country in his bus, spreading his message and bestowing kindnesses upon others – an inspiration to us all.

Who knows? Perhaps your own small act of kindness will soften a hard heart at a desperate moment some day.

*Many people in this world “add a little extra” to whatever they do: their career, how they live, the relationships they nurture, or just a random act of kindness – and we consider that *designing north* – designing your life and living it just north of the average bell curve.

Bob is designing north. Are you or someone you know? Tell us. We’re looking for the global count.

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The Designing North Project: Darren Swallow – A Living Hero

Why is Darren Swallow designing north*?

It was the day before Memorial Day, and the Wingate Nursing Home in Wilbraham, Massachusetts had no flag pole on which to wave the star and stripes. When an employee explained this to her disabled veteran boyfriend, former Army Specialist Darren Swallow, he took up the cause. He wasn’t asked, he wasn’t looking for attention, he simply wanted to honor his fallen comrades who had paid the ultimate price for freedom.

He stood for nine hours at attention, flag pole in hand, to display his respect for those soldiers our country has lost over the decades. From 3:30 a.m. until Memorial Day afternoon, he honored fellow Americans – despite the rain.

In this time of political and global unrest, this man reminded us that we are all Americans.

Read more about Darren’s story here.

*Many people in this world “add a little extra” to whatever they do: their career, how they live, the relationships they nurture, or just a random act of kindness – and we consider that *designing north* – designing your life and living it just north of the average bell curve.

Darren is designing north. Are you or someone you know? Tell us. We’re looking for the global count.
 

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Sunday on the Sofa – Good UX and Bad UX

Like any red-blooded, country-loving, digitally-engaged American couple, my husband and I spent last Sunday morning shopping online. He for some bike rack attachments for a road trip, and I for new sheets to replace our frayed sets.

This is a rather pathetic first-world problem, but we are selling our home, so I didn’t want to invest in a whole new design/style for our bedding – just in case our new digs have a different vibe.  After hearing an annoying satellite radio ad over and over again for Boll and Branch sheets, I thought I’d check them out.

I found the whole user experience remarkably easy and intuitive. I was greeted with a $30 off-my-first-purchase-coupon-offer, which I quickly dismissed after determining that my satellite radio coupon code would give me a better deal. The website’s photos were big, bold, and beautiful, and visually answered nearly all my questions. Option selections such as size and color were in big print and simple to navigate – a bonus for my deteriorating middle-aged vision. The checkout process was a walk in the park. No hassles, no long processing waits while you’re wondering if you actually pressed a button or not, no repeat entries – clear bold calls-to-action (CTAs) so you know exactly what to do next.

Meanwhile, as I was delighted with my quick and facile purchase, my husband was grumbling loudly at the other end of the sofa.

“Jule, you gotta check this out,” he said.

I gathered my robe, and slid my coffee over to his end.

“I mean look at this! It is so irritating!” I knew where this was going.

“I know exactly what I want to look at, but they’re making me enter all this junk first. Okay, so now I’ve done that, and I have no idea if what I’m seeing matches what I need now. I want it for my truck, but they’re modeling the rack on a car.”

good-ui-not-equal-good-ux-designing-north-studiosHe was exasperated. The company was Yakima, one I hold near and dear to my heart due to a native allegiance to the Northwest. We have spent thousands of dollars on Yakima equipment – from Rocket Boxes to ski racks to bike racks for just about every motor vehicle imaginable. Suffice to say, we’re fans. I’d almost go so far as to say to we’re influencers in the parlance of Malcolm Gladwell. But here’s the deal, my husband was so frustrated with the user experience, that he abandoned the purchase. He figured out a way to make due with what we had. If you go to the website, it looks beautiful. The user interface or UI, is modern and appealing. It’s the user experience that was miserable.

So there we were. A once blissful couple wiling away our morning with our laptops, Meet the Press, and our credit cards burning in our hands – both intent on a purchase. And due to user experience (UX), the too frequently ignored brethren of UI, one purchase was gleefully made, and one purchase was angrily abandoned.

If you’re building a new digital product or updating an existing website, make sure the firm you’re working with knows the difference between UI and UX. Designing North Studios’ Managing Director Lisa Peacock likes to say, “UX should inform the UI. We’ve all been to art school – we know we can make it look good, but can we make it useable.” That’s the problem your firm needs to be able to solve.

Think of the money, time, and effort you expend on finally getting BUYERS to your website. Not just looky-loos, but BUYERS. Don’t blow it once you’ve got them there. UX is not optional. Our weekend foray resulted in one happy customer, (who will be a return customer), and one temporarily lost customer. Had we not already been avid fans of Yakima’s products, we wouldn’t consider trying again. Fortunately, the coffee was good, the PJs were cozy, and Meet the Press was entertaining. Not even crummy UX could spoil our Sunday on the sofa.

The Designing North Project: Marty Burbank and Seon Chun-Burbank

Why are Marty and Seon designing north*?

The pair worked hard to achieve their dreams. And the path was not exactly paved for them. Both Marty and Seon were the first in their families to graduate from college – there was no long legacy of higher education to draft from.

Seon earned two masters degrees and a doctorate degree and serves as the early childhood education faculty chair at Vanguard University in southern California. Marty holds a law degree and served in the U.S. Navy.

Their lifelong dream was to buy a sailboat to indulge their love of the water. They were close to making that dream a reality when they attended a church sermon on charity. Instead of sailing in their own futures, they changed course and decided to help a group of 26 English-language learning kindergarteners sail to a future that will include college.

The pair committed to funding each student’s college education (two years of community college + two years at a California state university). The price? About $1,000,000.  The worth? Priceless.

Read more about Marty and Seon’s story here.

*Many people in this world “add a little extra” to whatever they do: their career, how they live, the relationships they nurture, or just a random act of kindness – and we consider that *designing north* – designing your life and living it just north of the average bell curve.

Marty and Seon are designing north. Are you or someone you know? Tell us. We’re looking for the global count.
 

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By Any Other Name a Rose

They say that April showers bring May flowers, but in California these days it tends to be aqueducts or aquifers making buds bloom. Rain or no rain, the extraordinary show of Mother Nature in springtime is a feast for the senses.

What on Earth (pun intended) does this have to do with digital marketing and the realm of social media? This time of year is all about life. Of living things. And believe or not, this is precisely the metaphor you should use when thinking of your digital marketing strategy.

I’ve consulted with a number of businesses, nearly all of which have had the erroneous conception that once the new website/Facebook Page/Instagram Profile/YELP Profile/Pinterest Page/YouTube Channel/etc. has been launched, they can let out a collective sigh of relief and scratch those items off their to-do lists…and their budgets. Misleading ads promise instant website traffic and fans…the if we build it, they will come marketing strategy. People are lured into the dream that launch is synonymous with instant traffic and commercial success. I’m afraid I’m here to pop that bubble. This misconception is a little like planting a rose bush not being entirely sure that this particular variety will even thrive in this climate, then sitting back and waiting for the glorious blooms to appear…no soil prep, no fertilizer, no water, no pruning.

Like planting a rose bush in your garden, your digital presence must be well thought out and nurtured.

So how do we get our green thumb on?

Establish Goals.

Think of this as the time you spend turning over the earth before planting, researching the best soil amendments and fertilizers, and ensuring that even if that gorgeous rose in the photograph is the one you want, you won’t choose it if it can’t survive in your climatic zone.

If you’re thinking about diving in with a new website, or a massive overhaul (from that site your nephew built for you in the 90’s), you’ll need to ask yourself some questions:

Turning Over the Soil or Why am I Doing This?

  • If your answer is to look modern and relevant, that’s okay. I mean let’s face it, if you went to Apple’s website and it was slow and clunky with teeny tiny Times Roman fonts and oodles of text with a few gritty graphics, you might think twice about buying an iPhone.
  • Ease-of-use is also a good reason for an upgrade – the digital world has changed dramatically in the last five years. When was the last time you wanted a product SO badly that you actually had the patience to put-up with a slow, unresponsive website all the way to completion of the sale?
  • To start selling products online: Great! If you’re currently a bricks-and-mortar outfit and want to expand to selling your goods and services online, let’s go. But – if you currently have no or limited digital presence, or very limited bricks-and-mortar presence, or no presence at all, you need to understand that you will need time to build your brand, and therefore your sales. Just as that rose rootstock must grow, sprout leaves, produce buds, and finally bloom, so too must your digital presence move through its growth stages.
  • To establish oneself as a thought leader: Perhaps you’re a consultant who wants a website to gather new clients, or a non-profit seeking new donors. A new or updated website might be a great way to help people find you. Bear in mind that to establish yourself as a leader, you’ll need to prove it…or better yet have others prove it through testimonials and/or links to your superlative content.

Amendments and Fertilizers or Determining the Best Channels for Me

  • People get really excited about various social media platforms. As with fertilizers and soil amendments, you don’t necessarily want to throw all of them at your rose bush. Typically, you want your social channels to drive some kind of conversion. I say typically because some are better at driving conversions, and some are better at creating brand awareness, so don’t lose sight of your goals here. For example, I recently had a client who was very excited about SmugMug – she loved its layout and ease of use. They’ve made some recent upgrades that make it a lovely platform for displaying photos of your products, but unlike Pinterest, it doesn’t allow for a direct link on the photo back to the product page on your website. In addition, Pinterest has far more users, and its demographic is hugely canted to women in the client’s age range. If you have limited time and budget resources, why expend efforts on both platforms?

The Right Climatic Zone or Consider Time and Budgetary Constraints

  • Remember you need to think of your digital presence as a living organism requiring careful tending. Google’s search algorithm thinks this same way. It’s looking for websites that have fresh content. And like a spectacular bloom, it’s also looking for sites that people are oohing and aahing about. The more people who are clicking through from Facebook to your page featuring that fabulous blog post you just wrote, or from YouTube to your website because they couldn’t believe how cool your product looked/worked in action, the greater authority and relevance Google will give you in organic searches.
    • Don’t think for a minute that people will gravitate to your website without you feeding it.
    • Select social channels that will help you achieve your answer to Turning Over the Soil or Why am I Doing This above.
    • As you develop your overall digital plan, write a first draft digital marketing calendar…think of it as your gardening strategy…water daily, fertilize monthly, clip weekly…
      • What kind of content and themes are you going to promote at given times of the year?
      • What human and monetary resources will you need to bring these goals to fruition?
        • Are they available to you? If not, either negotiate for more staff/hours/dollars, or rework your plan.
    • Figure out the best feeding time or Aim at Consistency – perhaps you dedicate a day’s posts to education about your industry, another day’s posts to freaky facts about your business, another day to something funny. People tend to engage when you’re engaging them by educating them, making them laugh, or making them cry.
    • Don’t over water – actual selling or call-to-action posts should be about 1 in 7 (different experts have different opinions on this, so experiment with your fans). An overwatered rose looks sickly and dies…just about the way you feel when someone is constantly badgering you to buy or do something. Earn their trust and friendship first.

Prune Dead Heads

  • Don’t be afraid to trim something that’s not working or that’s run its course.
  • If you thought that Instagram was going to be the greatest thing since sliced bread for getting your widget out there, but have since found that despite your best efforts no one really cares about ball-bearings in Instagram’s key demographic of 15-24, scrap it and focus your efforts on channels where your prospective buyer’s hang-out. Effective digital marketing is an iterative process.

Clearly, these are just a few tips to stimulate your thinking when developing your digital marketing strategy. The key take-away is that like a beautiful rose, those coveted websites and admirable social presences are the result of careful planning, tending, and care.

Good Luck and Happy Gardening!

Julie Farrell is a reformed engineer and head of marketing & social at Designing North Studios. Intensely curious, she’s worked with lasers and missiles, bungee-jumped in New Zealand, crawled under Egypt’s pyramids, and been lifted in an elephant’s trunk. She dreams of one day writing a great American novel. Connect with Julie on Twitter or LinkedIn.
 

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