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Have a look at this 25 minute video if you can. Especially if you are struggling with these 3 questions:
1 – How do you get everyone in your team to contribute ideas? Why do some people hold back?
2 – How do you get people to really think like a customer and think about the customer experience?
3 – How can you find solutions to business problems more easily?
As we move into times when it is harder to win work then we must work harder than ever on our design, the look, the feel. All sales professionals know this. They know that first impressions count, that ‘looking the part matters’ and that body language is the most powerful kind of interpersonal communication.
And yet do all our materials match that. Do they make the best first impression? Do they really look better than all our competitors?
I’m sure this matters. As does retaining your detail and rigour during the project itself to ensure a first class delivery.
As an aside I am betting that the recession will see an end to the glossy style of minimalist reflective design that has dominated for the past 3 years. I think we will see more detail and curves in a time of uncertainty.
Three cheers. Rhubarb is making a come back. Good news I say. And symbolic of the new world and the challenges facing writers. What? It’s true. Here’s why…After years in decline the rhubarb industry is fighting back. If you doubt what I say (which I recommend on most occasions) then check out the BBC article here. Why is it back? Janet Oldroyd is the fourth generation of a family of rhubarb growers and she says, “…People used to have a really sweet tooth but now we like a bit of sharpness.”That’s it right there. We are all on a fight back against blandness. Stronger flavours. Less middle ground. More differential. Why have parsley when you can have coriander? Why have coffee when you can have espresso?And that, eventually, brings us round to our work and our business proposition. Is it enough? Is our proposition bold? Or is it in that middle ground somewhere, being safe like a kid’s jelly or a custard tart? Of course not everyone likes rhubarb and that’s the payoff – passionate fans over bland middle ground.An example from my own work: I’m meeting up with Dailymotion in a few weeks as they are big supporters of Mr Vista and I think this metaphor works for them. As a concept their website is similar to youtube. But youtube is a granny smiths apple. Their site needs to taste of rhubarb to make it appeal.Think about your own proposition / service / product. Is it designed for today’s tastes? Being ‘world class’, ‘excellent’ – that’s conference pear talk my friends. You need the tang of rhubarb. Get sour.Photo by Dieter Weber used under CC
There’s an interesting advertising campaign that is running at the moment on both TV and radio which I feel is worth more than a 30 second slot. It’s for Honda and it focuses on how they perceive problems.
Now I’m sure you’ve heard company statements before which boast something along the lines of “Your problem is our solution”. Well blah, blah, blah whatever to that. Where’s the proof and more importantly where is the depth and emotion behind that statement?
Honda state in their radio advert that they welcome a problem with open arms and treat it like an old friend. They also say that a problem is an opportunity to develop and grow, learning something new along the way. The point is at the end of the ad the viewer is left thinking that whatever problems arise, Honda can fix it.
This is a great way to think. Why let a problem get you down as soon as one rears its ugly head. Instead think of it as a small hump in the road that you can flatten on your journey, safe in the knowledge that next time you see that hump approaching you’ll know how to overcome it.
How do you perceive problems?
The video below is from the same campaign but instead features the “Problem Playground”.
…and in with the new. Marton House has a new website, so hats off to our very own Steve and Caron for making it happen.
It’s a much slicker and simpler affair than our previous sites and we hope it makes it easier for our clients to fully understand what Marton House is all about.
You can check it out by clicking here.
Whilst we’re on the subject Seth has a very good post on his site today about website design.
Over the last couple of weeks I have slept in various hotel rooms; someimes in an environment that was sleep inducing (practically on top of a runway suprisingly) sometimes not. If though, I had been staying in a Travelodge – I would have had my “sleeping experience” overseen by a Director of Sleep. Yes really.
What if I can’t get to sleep on my own? Well you can have a large pillow with arms, aka a “cudillow”.
But what if I need something to help me relax? Well, you could book a fish therapy room; 15 minutes of watching goldfish should do the trick.
What if, randomly, I want to go to a festival? Surely they can’t help me there. Well yes they can, with a Travelpod (now on a second generation).
What I really like is that they have taken a fundamental human need and made it the basis of all advertising – what can be found under peoples beds; cures for sleep deprivation; how much oversleeping costs the nation and giving parents sleep training. The list of possible studies, reserach and martketing opportunities is endless. They may offer low budget beds but the stories suggest they are, with tongue in cheek, genuinely wanting their customers to have access to a good nights sleep and are presenting themselves in every article as sleep experts.
And it’s working…. Travelodge is a national brand and opens a new hotel every 8 days. One couple arrvied in 1985 and liked it so much they never left.
Well if we are trying to top our record on lack of blog activity I think we’ve probably achieved it – it’s been 9 days since our last post. Laziness is no excuse and luckily the lack of posts isn’t down to us just lazing around, basking in what’s left of the British summer. Nope it’s purely down to a busy period we’ve had recently, with us having a veritable roadshow of filming dates and projects which keeps us away from the office and our trusty keyboards.
On my tour of the country I was pleased to see one of our clients had adopted the Kaizen method into the daily running of their call centres. If you remember back in the early days of the blog I wrote a post on the effectiveness of the ancient Japanese art of Kaizen, a process by which you are encouraged to learn something new or achieve something new every day. Well it’s happening right now, live in one of the biggest media companies in the world.
Companies like this should be encouraging a positive mental attitude within their staff by getting them to try new things regularly. A recent success within this particular company has been a talent search competition where employees are encouraged to take part in a contest which sees a handful of winners getting an intensive training course in the art of being a TV presenter and then getting their own slot on a bunch of live TV shows for a period of time.
The morale boost and buzz around this project is really quite something and everybody benefits. The winners get to try something different and maybe change career, the other employees get some entertainment from the talent shows and as a result the whole building becomes more lively and productive, something which rubs off on the end user too – the customer.
Even we got to benefit by getting to use one of the successful presenters in a recent promo we shot!
Thank you Kaizen!
1. Be prepared for some procrastination
When I’m thinking about a new design for an interface I invariably find my mind wandering to other thoughts – it may be another project or it may be how to re-organise the spare room at home. These ideas arrive as my mind struggles to find the answers that aren’t quite there yet. These aren’t meaningless thoughts; they are things that I’d actually like to do, just not now. Rather than trying to ignore these thoughts which only seems to make them more pressing, try writing them down so you can come back to them later.
2. Take your time
Plan out what you are going to do. Planning can seem like a waste of time. Sometimes it’s tempting to skip over this stage because your developing / writing / designing something for the 18th time that year and you can ‘do it standing on your head’. Well you’re right, you can do it without planning, but then the client will get something that looks like it was created by someone dropped on their head. We’re not talking Gant charts and critical path analysis here, just what you are going to do and when.
Planning is the most important step for each project – the clients paid for it just like the previous 17 did and they’ll spot the difference!
3. Start in the Middle
When designing an interface it’s very easy to start visualising the top of the page and then working your way down. 9 times out of 10 this will make your life harder and you’ll spend much of your time re-working stuff. How many times have you written content, starting with the title only to finish it and realise the title doesn’t actually describe it very well. Start at the important bit! If you’re building a website that showcases video or photographs, get an image onscreen that represents this content. By doing this you can start working around it from the beginning. In the end, you’ll find you have something that is much more usable and well thought out.
4. Start low-tech
A bit of an obvious one, but I find stepping back from the computer and sitting down with a piece of paper to get rough ideas down very useful. It’s quicker to get the ideas down and easier to change them.
5. Put your hand up
Ask for help when you need it. Nobody can be good at everything so we all need help now and then. Try to ask people who will provide constructive criticism rather that people that hate or love everything. A fresh pair of eyes from someone who doesn’t even do the same job as you can result in some great ideas.
6. If your absolutely stuck, go and do something else
If you’re absolutely stuck on something, get up and do something completely different. Have an early lunch and read a newspaper or do a bit of shopping. The problem will still be there but it won’t be as urgent. Your mind works best when it’s relaxed and you may find the answer as you ficus on something else.
‘Six Thinking Hats’ is a powerful decision making technique created by Edward De Bono. It is used to look at decisions from a number of different perspectives. It forces you to move outside your usual thinking style, helps you to get a more rounded view of the situation and means you will be more confident of your decsision as a result.
Think of each ‘Hat’ as a different style of thinking which you need to explore. Some of these may come very naturally to you but not all of them will.
White Hat = Objectivity. This is very logical and fact based thinking. Look at the information you have, and see what you can learn from it. Look for gaps in your knowledge, and either try to fill them or take account of them.
Key questions: What information have we got? What other information do we need?
Red Hat = Intuition. Look at problems using intuition, gut reaction, and emotion. Ask other people for their emotional reaction. Try to understand the responses of people who do not fully know your reasoning.
Key questions: What is your initial reaction? What does your intuition tell you?
Black Hat = Caution. This looks at all the negative aspects and what can go wrong. This is one of the real benefits of this technique as it removes the rose tinted glasses. Trying to see why it might not work highlights the weak points in a plan. It allows you to eliminate them, alter them, or prepare contingency plans to counter them.
Key questions: What do we need to be cautious about? Why won’t it work? What do you dislike?
Yellow Hat = Positivity. The optimistic viewpoint helps you to see all the benefits of the decision and the value in it. It helps you to keep going when everything looks gloomy and difficult.
Key questions: What is good about…? What is the value of…? How can it work?
Green Hat = Creativity. This is where you can develop innovative solutions to a problem. It is a freewheeling way of thinking, in which there is little criticism of ideas. you can use a variety of creativity tools here.
Key questions: What other ways are there? How can we solve the problem? What if..?
Blue Hat = Process Control. The hat usually worn by leaders of meetings. If ideas run dry, they can go into Green Hat thinking. When contingency plans are needed, they can initiate Black Hat thinking, etc. A variant of this technique is to look at problems from the point of view of different professionals (e.g. doctors, architects, sales directors, etc.) or different customers.
Key questions: Why? How did you get to that answer? What is the main idea? Look at it form another angle…
Of course you don’t actually have to invest in a set of different colour hats if you really don’t want to; just try asking the questions and see what response you get.
Everywhere is an opportunity to spread the word and hook customers.