The year I discovered Sagmeister


Richard Huntington

There is always something to learn.

In the last 6 months or so I have come across the ‘Real Famous’ podcast – which is an amazing insight into the world of planning and strategy.

One of the most surprising things having been listening to this podcast, and subsequently talking to people is how we frame ‘new’ thinking. So much of my reading in the last few years has been around UX, Lean, etc. – which I think has tried to create its position in the start-up world with repackaged insight and strategy. What has become apparent (I think) is that the UX/Lean world use existing methodologies to describe this ‘brave new world’.

Same can be said for the digital marketing and brand purpose thinking – one look at the jargon filled thought-leadership pieces is just more self-indulgent wank to add into the public domain. What has been great is finding an alternative view of this narrative by listening and reading to the output from Paul Feldwick, Bob Hoffman, Russell Davies, Chris Riley, Dave Trott…(there are more…)

In short ad agencies and planning teams have been doing customer insight, qual research and brand strategies for a huge amount of years (although approach varies)  I think from what I can gather it all started with Chiat/Day (or perhaps that they were a key part of the planning history).

Anyhow back to Richard… He is Chief Strategy Officer at Saachi’s (ex HHCL and AMV BBDO). On the role of planning and strategy…

…the ability to reimagine a brand and therefore doing so imagine new roles, new sources of revenue…in a world of uncertainty where most businesses now face one challenge or another opens up a huge opportunity for strategists because we are being asked really big existential questions about brands and businesses…

… [his] best example is the re-imagining Direct Line insurance from an ‘insurance company’ to ‘an organisation that fixes problems for people’…

Here is a talk that he delivered in 2017 to planners…

In 20 minutes you get so much – anyone in the creative, marketing industry should be listening to this… dealing with the nonsense is something that most teams come across, deal with or have to navigate however we should be in a position to know more, have a greater understanding of the problem and look to solve the real problem in a way that makes sense for us to communicate with integrity.

From the first few minutes…

Its those half baked truths, nonsense that circulates around and around until we literally think its gospel, you know whether its fucking ‘Start With Why’, little concentric circles, or its ‘Always On’, or engagement, or loyalty… we just spout it out. And I am fed up with planners quoting planners…

We have got to start quoting real people, building our approaches, build your own approach the way you go about strategy – not from stuff that Mark Earls has said or I have said or anyone else – but from your own evidence and experience and your own observations about the real world, as close to real human beings as is humanly possible…


Filed under: Advertising, branding, ,

Real Famous – Plein Air

I can’t remember how I stumbled across the Real Famous podcast delivered by the guys at Plein Air. But I am so glad I have. There is something quite amazing how you can know of Rory Sutherland but not know of Paul Feldwick, Richard Huntington, Russell Davies, Martin Weigel or Chris Riley.

So inspiring, so much to take away and a huge amount of time needs to be invested here…

Awesome stuff…

Filed under: Advertising, branding, Podcast / Seminars

Matt Hodges – Intercom

Intercom, and the Intercom blog is something I have been aware of since I stumbled across the Jobs-to-be-done methodology or approach via Alan Klement. These guys really have got to grips with it and have adapted and applied it to their whole company and how JTBD informs their go to market strategy.

I heard Matt Hodges (Head of Marketing at Intercom) speaking on the JTBD podcast with the ReWired Group and you should really check it out as a great compliment to this video as he covers key product questions (and answers), defining verticals through to how they apply this to their marketing strategy.

In that podcast he covers a range of questions to answer before you start doing any activity – which I have slightly adjusted. Without hearing this from Matt and then really thinking how I could apply this to a more service + product environment I would be struggling to have ever got past JTBD as a way to do things beyond a UX perspective. For me it was really about reframing how you view what a ‘product’ is – thinking beyond a SaaS product definition – and try to see how a service can be answered within this framework. So props to Matt on explaining this out – I am still in the early days of getting workshops set-up to answer these questions and getting a wider organisation (product and commercial teams involved) to share in the process and share in the solution.

The question list below is adapted (slightly) from Matt’s talk – only really change I hope is avoiding the words ‘job’ or ‘hire’ to try and keep it as simple and jargon free as possible but remaining true to the purpose of the activity.

Why do we care? Why are we doing this? Why are we offering this product?

What is the problem that we are solving?

How will this product help our customers?

Who are the people searching for this product? Define audience, personas.

What is the competition in this space?

Who else solves this problem? (This might not be sector/direct competition, but other companies or products who solve the problem)

What makes this product the best choice, what makes us a better solution?

Why should people buy from us? What makes us different to the competition?

10minute video from Matt about the work he has done (this is really a shorter version of the podcast interview) but is also really worthwhile to check out.

Filed under: Customer insight, Marketing, user research

Wil Reynolds – Seer Interactive

Really nice 5 mins video from Wil Reynolds (founder of Seer Interactive). Just articulates in a simple and engaging way what you need to focus on when approaching search optimisation and generating the right traffic.

Did traffic go up to the pages that matter? Did traffic go up to the pages that show a high indication that this person is willing to make a purchase from you some day? Which of the landing pages that I have are driving qualified traffic to pages that show high intent?

Many organisations like to see reports with total traffic (sessions, uniques etc) – mine included – but getting a little deeper will get you ‘out of being stuck in traffic’.

Also worth checking out their blog

Filed under: SEO,

Nielsen Norman

First up – Nielsen Norman – are legends – been to their London conference in 2016 – sadly missed this year, although would love to have to gone to their current event (right now) – they are the real deal – what is interesting (outside of their research, knowledge, know-how etc) is them moving to the world of video – youtube – and short pieces of insights. I think it is an interesting strategy – whereby the purveyors of knowledge, reason, and proper detailed analysis are moving to the world of short videos and in essence soundbites (3 mins +) – and an outdoor setting with various ambient sounds (sirens etc!).. Either way what they have say – is worth listening to…

I will add various videos in future…

Filed under: Uncategorized

What job causes you to hire a milkshake? – Clayton Christensen

Absolutely love this 5 minute exploration by Clayton Christensen, Professor at Harvard Business School – in taking an approach to understanding customer behaviour and how by asking a particular question can translate into a marketing solution.

“If you understand the job, how to improve the product becomes just obvious”

“We decided that the way we teach marketing is at the core of what makes motivation difficult to achieve. The most helpful way we have thought of it is that we actually hire products to do things for us and understanding what job we have to do in our lives for which we would hire a product is really the key to cracking the problem of motivating customers to buy what we are offering.”

Found initially via the JBTD site on Medium via the InterCom post.

Filed under: user research

Just Eat

Big fan of Just Eat’s presence on Linkedin. Really like the type of posts that they write and curate – interesting part is without actually leaving Linkedin you can get a sense of what their culture is from the intro lines for each post.

But a more interesting element are their values. What I like about them is the fact they are made up of two words that don’t necessarily make loads of sense out of context – but they have ended up with 3 values that are really ‘ownable’ as an element. (This approach must exist in creating brands but I can’t think of any others that do this).

Here they are in full:

Make happy

We live for the joy side of life. The right food for every moment. We cherish the love our restaurant partners put into their cooking. We’re all about the enjoyment our customers get from their meal. It’s the smiles that make it worthwhile. What drives us is building more excitement, quality, fun and laughs into everyday food occasions, because food makes people happy.

Razor sharp

Everything can be made better. With clear direction, a relentless attitude, and non-stop innovation, we impact the things that matter most – more choice, better variety, fresh experiences, and new connections. We focus on getting things done, at pace, and with a laser-like focus. All so that people and restaurants discover more of each other, and the bar is constantly raised for everyone.

Big hearted

Just Eat is built on relationships, with people. The many, the few, the you: every individual matters, and we use every opportunity to make things personal and fair for everyone. We listen to understand, not just to reply. Respect comes as standard – for our customers, our partners and each other – and that’s how we build positivity into all our relationships and create new ones.

This is a company that is going from strength to strength and a vision to create the world’s greatest food community they are one awesome brand as brands go.

Filed under: branding,

Google Sheets (integration with Search Console, Analytics) – Moz

In a slight change to various visuals, videos and inspiration – this post is about capturing some reference and source materials I have been using in creating (and building upon) our digital measurement framework for one of our sites.

One part of what we do is doing lots of stuff for a range of what are in effect social enterprises (5 in total) so we have within our team a never-ending list of BAU as well as new development work that covers on and offline marketing activities.

Due to this level of stuff it strikes me as important to a) see how we can implement the measurement model in a practical sense (kpis, daily, weekly) and b) for it to be done in way that can automated so it becomes a much easier proposition to keep on top of and check in how we are doing.

The site in question is a very ‘content’ focused site – is this term becoming de rigueur – (pretentious, moi?). So finding metrics and approaches that looked more to the world of content marketing and blogs was what was required.

The solution – as with practically all things online (SEO) could be found at Moz through their awesome blog content – which give either full on descriptive approaches or give you enough to steer you through various principles but leave you to do the leg work in getting customised code that are relevant for your requirements.

First up a post by Mihai Aperghis on using Search Console and Google Sheets – allows you to create monthly data capture (automated reports) for all organic search queries (unless overly personalised etc). Awesome post – read it a few times – but historical and filterable GSC data – super useful – and allows us to have 2 sources for this (Keyword Explorer being the other).

The other is by Trevor Klein on his outline / approach of measuring posts with a singular content score (made up of a number of metrics). In Moz world this is the One Metric. What this post does is give you the keys to realising what you can do by integrating GA and GS. This post definitely leaves you searching specific =query or =importRange as well understanding what ‘ga:’ metrics can be used. More work for us to fully utilise this pretty awesome approach (tracking, apis etc).

Filed under: Metrics, SEO,

Pirate Metrics

Mentioned by Michelle You in her talk at MTPcon – Dave McClure’s Pirate Metrics – AARRR. (On an aside – slightly similar to Rand Fishkin’s Whiteboard Friday Jan 2016) – all captured here.

Filed under: Metrics, Product management, SEO, , , ,

Product Triangle: Business, User, Technology

Interesting articles describing product builders/product managers. Seen via an ad by YunoJuno.

The Product Triangle – two posts (adapted version – more practical – on Medium by Daniel Demetri and the original / more in depth – piece by Dan Schmidt on Product Logic). Main crux that looks at the skills dependent on where they sit on the product triangle – Business, User, Technology. Dan Schmidt – looks at the types: Vertex: excel in one area but know very little of the other two, Edge: those that connect two corners, Full triangle: acquire and hold knowledge of product’s technology, user base and business.

The upshot is (I think) that good product managers somewhat amorphously bridge the gaps that exist between other functional areas working toward a product’s success.’ and are ‘accountable for the healthy functioning of The Product Triangle which often entails going deep inside the details of each vertex or edge’.

Depending on background in becoming a product manager – having ‘biases and imbalances that yield greater strength in some areas, and less capability in others’ – for example:

  • User-First Product Manager – design background
  • Business-First Product Manager – MBA / general management
  • Technology-First Product Manager – tech background/engineering/computer science


Filed under: Product management, Uncategorized, , , , ,