Jul 30

How Tigers Influenced Your Visual Processing

What do you see when you look at the picture below?

It’s not really a formal quiz, so I’ll just give you a hint. If you started off by thinking “it’s a grid” then you were correct. You were also correct, if you noted that the grid was comprised of 54 individual blue squares or boxes. You might have noted the rectangular shape of the grid too.

Grid with 54 Blocks

Grid with 54 Blocks

For the most part, you could also tell that all of the boxes were uniformly the same size, even though you didn’t measure them exactly. You could tell based on the patterns and angles that no one box or row or set was larger or smaller. Good.

Except for counting the 54 boxes, you made all of those initial observations instantly. According to studies from MIT, we can identify an image in as little as 13 milliseconds, which is about as close to “instant” as you can get. (Note: I can do it in 12 milliseconds, but I don’t want to brag.)

Some of you counted the 54 boxes individually and others did the multiplication, but to play along, you got to the number of boxes. This quickly demonstrates visual information that we collect instantly (as little as 13 milliseconds!) versus information that we must deliberately consider and calculate. In this case, literally calculate.

Now, look at the second picture below. What do you see? Continue reading

Jun 16

Marketing Tesla & What It Says about Us

2016-tesla-modelsAs if enough praise hasn’t already been heaped upon Tesla Motors, here’s a bit more. This time, it’s not about the car. It’s about the marketing of the car and what it says about us.

The Tesla is just another car. When you get down to it, it’s a manufactured to serve a utilitarian purpose. It gets you from Point A to Point B. All cars are designed to do this, and so is a Tesla.

Like many prestige brands, Tesla speaks to certain people. From the design enthusiast to the tech geek, Tesla touches a live wire that sparks electric excitement. To be sure, there are other plug-in electric vehicles and many of them are just as capable at the Point A to Point B thing. Heck you could even argue that competitor hybrids provide nearly as much eco savings with greater utility than the pricey Tesla offerings.

While a damn fine vehicle, the Tesla is not the greatest car, not the most aesthetically pleasing vehicle, or even the most innovative one. It’s a top scorer in every category, but certainly not the final word in transportation. There have been better designs and there will be better cars.

So, really, why are we all so excited about the Tesla? Continue reading

Jan 31

KPIs & User Journey Metrics for Marketers: Part 3

In the first post of this series on content analytics, I talked about the old way of measuring your marketing content with key performance indicators (KPIs) and why you can’t rely on old measurement models for new media channels. In the second post, I offered an analytics framework for measuring content KPIs along a user-journey continuum.

This leads me to the third post in this three-part series on measurement. In this post, I’m focusing on how you can measure the actions on the page to determine how users are interacting with your content. Or not.

Of course, there’s a rather basic problem here. You want to measure the performance of your content and tools, but most reports are just measuring the page itself. We want to measure the components.

Next, let’s look at the ways that we can tag and measure these components and how we can better serve our customers by understanding the content that matters to them. This requires a bit of history.
Continue reading

Jan 17

KPIs & User Journey Metrics for Marketers: Part 2

One of the more confusing aspects of content strategy is the marketing analytics strategy. There are a lot of ways to measure the performance of your website, but when it comes to content analytics, I offer the following solution. But before we start, you may want to check out Part 1 of this three-part series.

First, consider the fact that website analytics and content analytics may not be the same thing. For example, websites like Amazon are measuring the shopping cart experience and sites like Google are measuring the speed to deliver search engine results. Both of these are valuable metrics for the performance of their sites and may not have as much to do with content as it has to do with the back-end performance and engineering of the website.

Second, full disclosure here, I am not an marketing analytics strategist. I am a content strategist, which means I need to be effectively communicating the goals of my content with an analytics strategist. Hence, I need to have clarity on the performance metrics of my content, so that the analytics team can communicate the way my content is performing.

I’m not trying to do the job of an analytics strategist, and if you’re anything like me, you probably should not either. That said, you should know enough about website and other digital analytics to communicate your intention to analytics strategists, as well as other strategic disciplines. Otherwise, you will be getting back website analytics reports that really don’t help you to understand if your content is having the desired impact on your target user. Continue reading

Jan 09

KPIs & User Journey Metrics for Marketers: Part 1

In marketing, we can measure so much that in many ways, we aren’t measuring anything. We are drowning in data. And the worse part, it may even be the wrong data.

There are ways to ensure that the data that we analyze is actually useful to the brand. Of course, this all starts with a content strategy. Which, of course, starts with a persona. Which, of course, starts with data and insights about your target user. Of course.

Starting with a data-informed persona, you can determine what actions are important to that user. Remember, if you are marketing your brand to a human, you need to figure out what that human needs from you and your content to complete their own personal user journey. Remember, inside every “persona” is a “person.”

The person inside the persona needs something. This is a personal journey and that person is the hero of his own personal story. As that hero is faced with a conflict, he will seek out a solution…and in certain cases, your brand is the solution to that problem.

As a marketing team, you probably have key messages that you want to convey. That’s a great starting point for your strategy. If you planned your messaging properly, those messages will probably resonate with your target user. That’s a good thing. Except… Continue reading

Oct 04

Binge Watching for Storytellers

I’m a media binge watcher. From recent stats, it is apparent that you may be too. We are, as a culture in love with stories, but we’re not in love with waiting around.

Actually, let’s clarify that…we’re binging on good stories. And, of course, we are putting some level of trust and faith in the audacity of the storyteller. We’re crossing our fingers (and our legs on the couch) in the hopes that the story we’re watching, reading, hearing is going to end as well as it started. We’re hoping that the story creators have thought this story line through and know how to make this all worth our while.

Short-form videos require less commitment, so we are faster to forgive weak storytelling. A 6-second Vine video requires less time away from our family, friends, and career, so we don’t care if it’s not a great story. In that case, good enough is good enough. Continue reading

Aug 04

JAWing With JK: Part 2 of a Blog Series on Visual Storytelling

Joe Kalinowski JAWS headerPart 2 of 2: Check out Part 1 “Movie Poster Creates JAWS-Dropping Visual Storytelling Lessons” on the Content Marketing Institute website

Movie Poster Creates JAWS-Dropping Visual Storytelling Lessons

CMI’s Jos Kalinowski on the History of the Jaws Movie Poster
Questions by Buddy Scalera. Answers by Joe Kalinowski,Creative Director at Content Marketing Institute

BUDDY:  The iconic JAWS movie poster was not the first version, right? What were some of the other versions?

JOE K: The original hard cover was black and white painted by artist Paul Bacon for Bantam Books. It was a more simplistic version of the iconic image featuring a white translucent shark veering up towards a swimmer painted in the same style. The shark had no eyes or teeth, just the recognizable shape of the shark’s head and mouth. When Bantam released the book in paperback, they revisited Bacon’s image. They hired artist Roger Kastel to use Bacon’s hardcover image as a starting point, but they were suggesting Kastel to make the image a bit more realistic and of course menacing. Kastel did such an impressive job that Universal Studios chose to use that image for the iconic movie poster.

BUDDY:  Why do you think they selected the iconic version? Why does it work?

JOE K: There are so many reasons that this image works! First, even if you were living under a rock and never heard of JAWS, you could tell just by the image what is happening: Very large shark about to prey on unsuspecting swimmer. The image is unbelievably simple, yet so captivating at the same time. The use of a basic color palette of red, white, blue and black (with minor shades of pink for the swimmer’s skin) keeps the visual noise down (notice there’s no sky above the surface?). The movement that is created by the simple brush strokes around the swimmer’s arms and legs to show splashing, and the bubble around the shark’s mouth to show it’s speed as it swims toward the surface is quite impressive considering it’s a two dimensional image. The use of black to accentuate the shark’s teeth and cavernous mouth was a win, not to mention the cropping of the image inside that thick black border to strengthen the focal point of the ferocity of the shark. Continue reading

Jul 17

Movie a Week Marketing Training

Recently, I’ve been watching a lot more movies.  it’s not because I have an abundance of free time on my hands. It’s actually because I’m trying to become a better marketing storyteller and I think movies will help me get there.

Over the past year or so one of the most abused terms has to be the word “storytelling.” Everyone seems to think that they are storytellers. This may not be true, as explained in this simple, profanity-laced rant by Stefan Sagmeister.

As a concept, storytelling is a great idea, particularly for content marketers. It’s a creative way to connect with your audience and put a human spin on products and services. If you’ve found a story that works for you, well, good for you.

Like any creative endeavor, storytelling takes practice. Even stories get better with multiple tellings, since you learn what works, what doesn’t, and how much information you need to lead up to the big finale in your tale. Continue reading

Apr 12

A Tale of Two Decks (Slideshare Experiment)

Tale of Two Decks Image


This is an experiment on Slideshare. This is…A Tale of Two Decks.

Let’s start at the beginning. Recently, I shared the stage with Michelle Killebrew at the Intelligent Content Conference 2015 in San Francisco. If you didn’t attend the event, you missed our somewhat unorthodox presentation where we told “a story about storytelling.”

Note: All videos from the ICC conference are available online. Watch the video of our Long and Short presentation. This is my Intelligent Content Conference 2015 Recap blog post.

Usually the best way to understand a presentation is, well, to see it presented. Realistically, there are only so many conferences any one person can attend, so a lot of us check out Slideshare for interesting and useful presentations.

We planned to simply upload the deck, but that would lose some meaning, since we can’t be there to offer the voice overs and other descriptions. I’ve uploaded other decks in the past, most of them about healthcare marketing and visual storytelling. The decks are clear during the presentation, but would be a bit vague if you didn’t see it presented in person.

This time we decided to try something different. We maintained one master deck, which we called the Original Version. Other than a few minor edits, the deck was a record of how we presented at ICC. The second was a version with comments and call outs, which we called the Annotated Version. This version included slides that we’d removed for time and added several additional slides to enhance the download experience. More on this later. Continue reading

Mar 31

Intelligent Content Conference 2015 Recap

ICC 2015 Recap Graphic

I’m tired, but I just can’t stop smiling. Travel is exhausting, but I am still energized. The things I’ve learned in this past week make all the travel an’ tribulations worth the efforts. It lifts the spirits, and I feel great.

This past week, I attended Intelligent Content Conference 2015 in San Francisco. It’s an annual, can’t-miss professional event for content marketers, content strategists, and content engineers. It is one of the few conferences that I depend on, quite literally, to progress my career as a content strategist. From basic concepts to advanced techniques, the ICC has guided my personal learning journey for several years.

The speakers are world-class educators who bring real-world examples to the stage. Many conferences are only about big ideas. This conference is about the big ideas and how to make them work in your organization.

After years of being the the brainchild of Ann Rockley and Scott Abel, the Intelligent Content Conference changed hands to be run by Joe Pulizzi, the godfather of content marketing and the Content Marketing World Conference. Continue reading