Our Blog

Learn from our minds and the others that we look up to

What I Learned at The Honest Conference

Last week Strategy Lab partnered with our good buddies at Pidgeon Social to present the first ever Honest Conference. The idea for the conference was simple: Get some amazing marketing leaders in our community together to have a frank and honest discussion about they know and even what they don’t. I wasn’t personally involved in a lot of the planning, so I don’t feel too bad about tooting the team’s horn when I say it was absolutely amazing. The lineup of speakers was the best I’ve ever experienced and the amount of value they offered was unreal. there’s no way I could even begin to cover each speaker’s background and presentation (head to honestconference.com for more info on that), but I felt it was important to jot down some of the big ideas from the day:

Create First and Improve Over Time

One of the big common threads that tied together all of the presentations was the idea that doing something is always better than doing nothing. If you have an idea idea for something you can create (be it a vlog, an Instagram, or a jewelry company), just do it, even (or especially) if it’s not perfect. Over time, you’ll figure it out and get better, but the first step is just to try. As human beings we have an unlimited capacity for talking ourselves out of things that have virtually no downside. Changing that is one of the first big steps towards doing something amazing.

Always Ask for Feedback and Act on It (in Moderation)

This feeds nicely into the idea of feedback which just about very speakers touched on at some point as well. As marketers, business owners, and people, we’re always wondering what we should actually be doing to succeed, when in reality the answer is very clearly right in front of us in the form of feedback from our people and our customers. Asking these people what we can do to improve our product, customer service, or marketing tactics gives us the road map to success. Now, this piece of advice comes with a caveat as not all feedback is helpful when you’re trying to innovate. As Henry Ford once said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

(Photo credit: Sprout Catering!)

If You’re Uncomfortable, You’re Probably Doing Something Right

This is another idea that seemed to emerge somewhere along the way in each presentation. Hillberk and Berk COO Mary Weimer got some laughs from the crowd when she revealed that she is in a perpetual state of discomfort, and never really knows for certain the right thing to do. The truth is, comfort is the cost of doing something that will never really move the needle. Justin Reves’ “80% and Go” rule of thumb I think sums this up perfectly: Get to the point where you’re 80% sure of something and then just go for it  (as Richard Branson would say, “Screw it, let’s do it!”)

Always Keep it Human

Whether it was HB&B’s policy of giving their employees sparkle balls to give out to strangers, or Wheelhouse’s “Wheel Mile” of encouragement at the Queen City Marathon, the stories that really resonated with people at HonCon were those that demonstrated honest to gosh humanity and compassion. In other words, the companies that succeed will be the ones that genuinely treat the people around them (customers and non-customers alike) like human being and not just numbers, dollars, or “stakeholders”. This was particularly evident when the Roughriders’ marketing coordinator Miriam Johnson spoke about their recent influencer campaign during the opening of the new Mosaic Stadium. They did a deep dive to find out what was important to key people in their community to find out what they truly cared about, then customized swag packages for each person along with a handwritten note specific to their lives and personalities. There was no hard-sell or expectation, just a true sense of caring and a desire to do something awesome.

At the end of the day HonCon was a tremendous success. I strongly believe that each and every person in attendance walked away having learned a lot about what other people in this new marketing world are doing to succeed, not only from the fabulous lineup of kick-ass speakers, but from each other as well.

The Largest Canadian Google Analytics Study ever done-website strategy

The Largest Google Analytics Study We’ve Ever Done

This blog was originally published on Cupcakes & Websites website here: The Largest Canadian Google Analytics Study Ever Done

For this study we wanted to compare data from 2015 to 2016. Over those, only 57 qualified (had enough traffic over a two year period) to make the cut. If the website wasn’t setup until after 2015 we didn’t include the data as it is incomplete. Next years study (or later this year, we’ll see) will be even bigger!

What did we find?

Average number of visits to a website:

2016 – 14,267

2015 – 15,700

A decrease of 10%

A decrease in average traffic would indicate you can’t have the “build it and it will come” attitude. You have to be doing something on your website that gets people to come back again and again. No you don’t need SEO (search engine optimization) if you’re creating amazing content for your intended audience.

Monitor you traffic. One past almost client (they never said yes) asked if they could talk to us about their “new” website and why they lost 80% of their traffic. Get a monthly report from your website provider at the very least just to ensure someone is reading what you publish!

Average number of visits from search (traffic from Google):

2016 – 7,513

2015 – 6,150

An increase of 18%

Ever since we’ve been measuring websites in Google Analytics it’s always been an anomaly about how much traffic comes from search. And not just our website, EVERYONE’S, yes yours too! You just need to understand better what Google is looking for. Search in powerful, if someone if looking for what you sell, the odds are they will search for it eventually. Make sure when your potential customers search for what you provide, you come up!

Everyone needs a Google Strategy.

The average growth (loss) of traffic:

Total traffic – (10%)

Organic traffic – 18%

Facebook traffic – (.08%)

Traffic fluctuates. Google gives you some tools on seeing what the average search volume is for specific terms over the twelve months of the year to see when search peak.

The Only Two Things People Actually Want to Buy

Seth Godin has long been an inspiring figure around our office. His “be remarkable” mantra has been the foundation of a lot of what we do at Strat Lab. For a time our logo even incorporated Seth’s “purple cow” concept. So when I began searching for podcasts to listen to during my drives to and from the office and meetings last week Seth’s name naturally came up. While Seth doesn’t appear to keep up a regular weekly podcast himself, he makes frequent appearances on all manner of podcasts to do with marketing, business, and life. I happened to stumble across Krista Tippett’s amazing show On Being and cued up her interview with Seth, during which he dropped a concept that blew my mind a little bit.

It’s like this. There are two distinct schools of thought when it comes to society and the economy. One is that people by their nature need stuff. Their main motivation is to buy as many “things” as possible. Success is determined by the number of things you have versus the people around you, and businesses should strive to create the shiniest things for the lowest possible price. Seth calls this mindset the “Walmart Economy”. Doesn’t quite sounds right, does it?

The other school of thought says that people don’t actually care about things all that much anymore. Our generation has gotten used to the instant gratification that comes with having “stuff” and its appeal has drastically worn off for us. Gone are the days when people prided themselves for having a slightly better barbecue than their next door neighbour. Instead, people only really care about things that can give them one of two things: Time and personal connections.

These are the two things we find ourselves lacking more and more as we seem to get busier and more plugged into a digital world that feels increasingly isolating. We tend to focus less on the bells and whistles of a product or service and instead prefer things (be it a gadget or an app) that save us much-needed time that we can spend doing things that we actually want to do. If it doesn’t save time, it better create ways to connect with other people in a meaningful way. Products that create communities give people the validation they used to get from having the shiniest new car. As a society that feels increasingly disconnected from one another, the companies that allow us to connect with like-minded people are the ones that will get our business.

This is the future Seth sees. In the world of Amazon where we can quickly and easily get the things we need with the click of a button, the things we want will be entirely things that achieve these two ends. So ask yourself, is my business saving people time or connecting people? If not, it might be time to rethink your widget.

don't take the credit

Don’t Take The Credit

Awards are overrated!

I received an email “sorry to bother, but would you mind voting for me? I’ve been nominated for an award!”. They were serious. I went and voted for their competitors out of spite.

Kidding!

In all honesty, it’s 2017.Who sends an email asking for a vote?

Ask on social media sure, maybe text or talk to your close friends.In my eyes the more people you have to ask to vote for you, the less you deserve the award.

I do realize this comes off as a rant from someone, who doesn’t win awards. Ha! You’d be right if you thought that, but I don’t think awards matter! Here are four individuals, who have put award winning on the back burner and focused on doing things that matter.

For every winner, there must be a loser. Every time you show, talk about, or mention an award you won, it’s simply your ego rearing it’s ugly face. Don’t do it. Don’t buy in. Don’t talk about awards you won. There’s a time and a place for it. During a job interview, on your LinkedIn Account sure, but in your social media bio? No!

Don't tell me what you invented. Tell me about who you changed

In the words of Seth Godin, “Don’t tell me what you invented. Tell me who you have changed.”

Humility is a virtue.

When you send an email asking someone to vote for you to win an award it makes you seem desperate. Awards are special, meant to celebrate something remarkable you did. If you ask others to “vote” for you via email, personally, I don’t think you deserve the award. With all the commotion about the awards out there, I thought something had to be said.

In the business community when you find out the vast majority of “awards” companies and people win, they had someone close to them apply for it, it doesn’t really seem like awards matter. Literally, an agency nominating their own client work for an award? I get a part of it, I mean, it makes them look great, but eventually unwarranted awards will ketchup to you. Results will always matter more than awards.

If you could afford to buy an award would you?

Five years ago a client asked about an ethical dilemma she was having.

“Do you think we should keep advertising in major Canadian magazine, they’re the ones who decide on Canada’s 50 Top Employers.We seem to be on the list if we advertise, but we won’t be if we pull our budget. What do we do?

If you automatically throwout the notion on advertising to win an award ask yourself, why? Sure it feels unethical, but all the major companies do it.Well at least the ones winning the awards anyway… You can choose to be a part of that world, or you can choose a different path.

How the holy hell did he get an award?

I always find it fascinating to look into the criteria for winning awards, generally someone has to apply for it. This reminds me of my 3rd year University. The Business faculty always had scholarships for “the top students”. This made no sense, because the top students were usually the kids who didn’t have to work, had school paid for, and could focus all their attention on class. Myself, on the other hand struggled to pay for school, had a terrible average and would have LOVED a scholarship. I just didn’t agree with “applying for it”.

As the story goes, my arch nemesis, the know-it-all kid, who never wanted to help out with the Business Students Society, who actually quit on us, applied for the BSS funded scholarship. Then he won. I couldn’t believe it. Why the hell would you pick the guy that was doing fine to give a scholarship to? Here I was struggling to get through classes (though I never failed one!) volunteering my ass off and the goodie two shoes just got a free ride, because he had a high average?!?

That’s when I began to mistrust “school” and any awards given away at school.

Life’s about being able to do your art, not winning awards.

Eddy introduced me to an amazing designer that he looks up to, Aaron Draplin. I’ve written about him before, You don’t need to win awards to be amazing. But I think you should watch his Ted Talk. He doesn’t care about awards, he cares about being able to do his art every single day.

What good is an award if you aren’t happy?

Aaron is a happy guy, my favourite part of his talk is when he talks about how lucky he is to just be able to do his art every day. How often we all take for granted what we do for a living? Here’s a guy, who is one of the most amazing designers of our generation and he is very open about not winning awards. I look up to people like Mr. Draplin. He could apply for awards and put that on his website and proposals, but I think his work speaks for itself.If you’re good enough you won’t need awards to make you feel better. Plus, putting syrup on shit doesn’t make it a pancake. Stop worrying about awards and start worrying about results!

pancake quote

What about BIG awards like the Nobel prize?

The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis tells the story of the remarkable relationship of two brilliant Israeli Psychologists, Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman. Amos wasn’t a fan of awards. For every winner there had to be a handful of losers and that just wasn’t fair to Amos.

When the Nobel committee called Amos to notify him he was on a very short list to win the Nobel Prize in Economics, Amos didn’t even take the call. He was quoted later saying winning the Nobel prize wasn’t one of the things he was going to miss when he was gone. The Nobel Prize comes with a $1,000,000 cash prize. Not a small prize to be walking away from. Amos died far too early, the behavioural economics community and the world lost a brilliant mind on June 2, 1996.

This was coming for a guy that was offered a job for the rest of his life from one of the top Universities in the world. Amos, was one of the greatest thinkers of our time! On his deathbed when the President of Stanford was preparing a last lecture and celebration for Amos, he quickly called and negotiated out of the big celebration. He never wanted to credit for what he did, it just wasn’t important to him.

undoing project quote-amos

How smart was Amos Tversky? Really?

The Tversky Intelligence Test.

In 2013 in Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath, Gladwell tells a story about how highly Amos Tversky was regarded among his peers. As told to Gladwell by psychologist Adam Alter, the Tversky intelligence test was, “The faster you realized Tversky was smarter than you, the smarter you were.

Don’t take credit for what isn’t yours.

Shep Gordon never needed the credit. (I’ve written about Shep Gordon, the Supermench before). When a music manager works on an album or with an artist they are entitled to royalties for perpetuity of the sales that album makes. Shep never signed contracts with artists to guarantee royalties. He never thought he needed to, he trusted the people he worked with. This created loyalty with the artists and groups he worked with. Shep’s reputation proceeded him, after he is referred to as the Supermench. He did admit there was a fine line between smart and stupid when using contracts though. Not to claim royalties on an album like the Beatles Anthology (he worked on it) would fall into the category of the later.

Shep is still doing fine, instead of all that money he’d much rather have Mike Myers refer to him as “the nicest person he has ever met”.

Being a good teammate is better than winning an award.

From the book Give and Take, Adam Grant tells the story of George Meyer a habitual ‘giver’ that has never worried about receiving credit, even though he was involved in some major television productions in the past 30 years.

If his name – George Meyer doesn’t – sound familiar, the shows he’s worked on will; Saturday Night Live, Late Night With David Letterman and The Simpsons. Many people involved with The Simpson’s production agreed that Meyer was a pivotal part of the team, a linchpin really.

Your reputation is far more valuable than receiving credit or an award.

Seeing your name in the credits is an ego boost.

Many people in the entertainment industry thrive off the mention of their name in the credits. To be a part of a major production even as a small role, most people would demand their name appear in the credits. George Meyer was not one of those people. Meyer was a writer and producer on over 300 episodes of the Simpsons and was only mentioned Twelve times in the credits. Having his name mentioned in the credits wasn’t important to him, being an integral part of the team was. We should all strive to be a little more like George Meyer.

being a good teammate is better than winning an award

Congratulations StratLab! You won an award!

Finally if you don’t believe me that awards are something you should never focus on or put time in to, because you never know when someone just makes something up. Look to the top right hand corner of this page (sorry not on mobile). “Canada’s 50 Most Inclusive Employers” was an award I made up to celebrate the first 50 companies participating in the 4to40 initiative. See even you can make up an award and give it to whoever you choose.

Thanks to Aaron, Amos, Shep and George for setting an example for future leaders.

I look up to these four individuals for the courage it took to focus on what really mattered to them. Instead of idolizing pop, culture icons or TV stars try putting up a poster of Amos Tversky in your office. Or maybe it’s a Draplin original, to keep yourself humble at work. I love looking up to people like this, people I want to be like some day. After all, we become our hero’s in the end don’t we? Just make sure you pick the right hero’s to emulate.

Three More Lessons From “The Virgin Way”

Last week I wrapped Richard Branson’s book The Virgin Way and I must say, I did not expect to enjoy the process of getting back into reading as much as I did. Branson uses some really stellar stories and examples to illustrate powerful concepts that seriously challenge the status quo (arguably Branson’s biggest MO). Here are three more lessons from the second half of The Virgin Way!

Train Them so Well They Can Leave, Treat Them so Well They Don’t Want To

On the subject of leadership in life and business, one of the threads that ties the entire book together is the concept of treating your people like family. Whether you run a business, a non-profit, or simply manage a group or people, Branson insists that treating your people right is the MOST important thing. Your people are a direct reflection of you and happy people tend to give unreal customer service, which in turn leads to happy customers which makes the staff that work with them even happier. It’s a cycle that, if started right, can yield fantastic results. Branson suggests that the best way to support your people is to empower them to solve problems themselves and ensure they have enough structure to know what they should be doing but enough freedom to go over and above.

90% of Life is Just Showing Up

Branson uses several examples of PR bumbles by CEO’s to illustrate that, whether you’re a C-level executive or a mid-level manager, being present when things are happening is half the battle of being a good leader. On one level, being around your people consistently gives you a really good idea of what’s important to them and what challenges they’re really facing (this sounds like common sense but think about how much time you really spend interacting with your boss or employees as a percentage of your day). On another level, being present when there’s a problem allows you to react much more quickly and effectively. Think about how bad it looks when there’s some sort of corporate disaster and the CEO isn’t at the initial press conference. Conversely, the leader who is on the scene immediately (even if they aren’t really doing or saying anything) tends to win the day.

Like Shouldn’t be About Making a Living, But Making Every Living Moment Count

Richard Branson is well known for his eccentric style and sometime death-defying escapades. Branson’s approach to life can be summed up in the tagline of the book: “If it’s not fun it’s not worth doing”. It’s an almost cliche idea at this point, but all throughout the book Branson hammers in the idea that every moment we have on this planet, whether through business or simply the way we conduct ourselves, should be spent embracing the things we love and making life better for other people. Time wasted can never be earned back, so putting in time to simply earn money without achieving these two ends is by all measures a complete waste.

Well there you go! I would highly recommend reading or listening to The Virgin Way (seriously, audio-books have become a game-changer for me).

stratlab video department 17

StratLab Video Production in 2017

One of my favourite videos of all time. It made me tear up the first time I watched it. The part about this video no one really knows is Andy edited it the same day and had it to pride week organizers a few hours after the parade. The response online was overwhelming and I don’t think we would have had that type of response if we would have waited a few days or the regular week or two to ship the video. Hats off to you Andy!

Tourism Regina wanted a campaign to showcase what Regina is to us. That’s easy, we call it the greatest city you’ve never seen. The idea came when we had folks visit us from Fort McMurray visiting and they couldn’t stop talking about how much they loved the city. From Wascana park to the amazing night life, it’s easy to take Regina for granted, this short video puts into perspective all the different options you have in the Queen City.

Read More
Where are you putting in time just showing up again and again

What’s The Easiest Way To Get Along With Someone?

Just be around them more. That’s it, that’s all, no kidding. Regularly being in the presence of someone makes you more appealing. Do you want to build rapport? Show up, again and again and again.

Familiarity builds contempt? Actually it’s literally the opposite. 

From Ori Brafman’s Click, it’s not personality, likes, dislikes, personal characteristic or anything else, close proximity to someone will make you get along with them better. They reference an MIT study about dorm rooms in university, students who live in the centre of a hallway have on average more friends than the people who live at either end. Your best friend on average in a dorm room? The person who lives closest to you, your neighbour. The students have nothing special about their living arrangements accept the closer you are to people, the more friends you’ll have.

It makes no sense, you feel there has to be more to it but there isn’t. Proximity is the single best factor in helping you build a relationship with someone.

The best teams I’ve played on and coached weren’t the most skilled but the ones that got along the best. If you get along easily, you’re going to hangout more. The more you hangout, the better you know someone. The better you know each other the better the team plays.

That matters in a team atmosphere because when things are going well it’s easy to manage a team, it’s when the shit hits the fan you come closer as a team.

Same in business, the closer you are as a team, the better you’re going to perform in the long run. And now you know the easiest way to grow your team, simply make them hangout more. Want to get along better with someone? Show up to events they’ll be at more!

Where are you putting in time just showing up again and again

Where are you putting in time just showing up again and again?

Queen City Hack

5 Reasons Why You Need To Come To The Next Queen City Hack

I had the pleasure of judging the last Queen City Hack hosted by Gas Buddy. I was BLOWN AWAY! These teams created some amazing applications, working applications, applications designed beautifully, ALL IN 24 HOURS!!! I couldn’t believe what these teams created and was incredibly surprised! I left inspired, the future is looking very bright. Here are 5 reasons you should get involved with the next Hack-a-Thon:

Read More
Page 1 of 3712345...102030...Last »