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.

whats the number one class at the stanford graduate school of business

What’s The Number One Class At The Stanford Graduate School of Business?

“Touchy Feely” Class at the Stanford Graduate School of Business has been the number one class for 45 years!

“Touchy Feely class” or interpersonal dynamics class at the Stanford Graduate School of Business was the number one class based on student voting for the past 45 years! Makes you wonder about what is taught in class, what students learn, and why students like it the most.

Could it be the real world impact a class like that has on these students? Or the complete avoidance of anything to do with emotions, love, and relationships in traditional business classes? The fact remains that understanding interpersonal relationships is one of the most valuable skills in 2017 and beyond. Ori and Rom Brafman believe is has to do with the most underrated characteristic in business, vulnerability.

Click: the magic of instant connections

I first read about Touchy Feely class in Ori Braffman’s book Click. The book is about the five principles that make people click. The first and most counterintuitive principle is vulnerability, the most underrate characteristic in business. You may have heard of Brené Brown’s The Power of Vulnerability, an amazing Ted talk on how opening up and leading with the heart is the most effective leadership tool. (PS: I like this talk of hers even better: Listening to Shame.

Vulnerability is our most accurate measure of courage

“Vulnerability is our most accurate measure of courage.” -Brené Brown

Maybe Stanford is on to something…

From Stanford’s website:

The ability to forge strong relationships with others is crucial to becoming a more effective manager in today’s complex, global, and highly interdependent organizations.

Technology can never replace authentic relationship building

It’ll enhance it, make it easier in come respects and more difficult in others. Technology has already changed the way we build, maintain and adapt to relationships but some things will never change. Trust, authenticity, humility, all matter No matter what changes about technology, the people behind the technology, developing it and using it still reply on human beings.

In business we rarely talk about how we’re building relationships, how we’re becoming a better team, how we’re becoming better people. But why the hell not? It’s the most important part of business. If you can’t figure out how to get along with other people it’s going to a long lonely life. People are number one, they always will be number one, no matter what technology comes along we will always have to know how to build relationships with other human beings.

How are you building your interpersonal relationship skills daily?

Stop telling people you believe in “relationship building” and “networking”, show people how are you practicing that regularly. Meeting new people, connecting with old friends, volunteering to make new friends, whatever your thing is, keep doing it! If you don’t have “a way” to grow your network, ask someone for advice, you need to start making it a priority. Start reaching out to people and connecting on whatever they want to talk about, be a good listener first. We are all learning how to communicate better, take as many opportunities as you can to be around, communicate with, and help people.

Click by ori braffman

You can judge a company by the way their people treat you

You Can Judge a Company By the Way Their People Treat you

You can judge a company by the way their people treat you

There was a moment I’ll never forget that made up my mind we needed to unfriend them on Facebook. A Stratlabber was on the phone with one of this companies main people and the conversations went something like, “do you think I have time to figure out where you’re going to setup your camera’s? I have more important things to do with my time.” It was harsh, it was completely uncalled for and I couldn’t believe someone would be so pompous. The ironic part was we were doing a video on this companies new and innovative approach to their industry. Wow, did we feel dumb. We trusted them. We put their logo on our website as a pride piece (have since taken it off).

It’s 2017 if you want to berate someone over the phone because you think they’re wasting your time all the power to you, but just know there are consequences. You can’t yell at someone too many times before they stop listening and stop caring all together. It’s a sign of your culture, if your people are that stressed out on the job that they scream and yell at the folks they’re working with, something needs to change. I don’t think you can operate like that for very long. Turn over increases, quality decreases, and anyone working there isn’t doing because they want to, but because it’s just a job.

You're never too important to be nice to people

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The Dark Side of Social Media A Modern Day Addiction

The Dark Side of Social Media; A Modern Day Addiction

Stop listening to your fans. “Your enemies know information your friends won’t tell you.”

I’ve heard a lot of this lately… “I’m at 15,000 followers, why would I do anything different?!”, “I just got 500 likes on one post, amazing!”, or a personal favourite; “We’re doing a give away at 20,000 followers, like, share, comment, slay your first born to be entered!”. Maybe we’re over thinking it, and that’s not a good thing. “Fans” on social media networks aren’t necessarily real relationships. Sure some are, but most are superficial social passings by, meaningless in the

When validation has gone too far

I heard a story of high school students posting on Instagram and if they don’t receive over a certain amount of likes within the first 15 minutes they delete it and try again later.

Wow.

Could you imagine testing your creative in real time, then when not performing you pull it immediately? Are these students getting feedback and acting upon in hyper-speed without even knowing it?

I instantly said, “We should be doing that with clients!”

Or should we?

The more connected you are the less connected you actually are

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be weird be awesome be loved

One of The Most Remarkable Non-Profit Organizations in the World

“Be weird. Be awesome. Be loved!”

This was the latest sticker COR had printed and left out in a container on a table just inside their office. A circular container that has the likes of stickers, postcards, magnets, stress balls, pens, you name it. All with similar bright colours and uplifting messages. The table they are on is located by the pinball machine, just down the hall from the coffee bar and to the right of the foosball table, and PS4 complete with beanbag chairs for optimum gaming comfort.

This isn’t your regular not-for-profit organization

I’ve never met anyone with the same consistent energy. COR has its own unique culture and brand. Talk to their employees family members, even people who don’t work there any more, you’ll hear nothing but amazing stories about how gentle teaching has changed their life. They don’t run the organization like a regular non-profit, they do things different and they don’t apologize for it. COR is a breathe of fresh air in an industry that was getting stuffy.

COR is an inspiring organization. You don’t have to go far to hear some of these stories:

“Being WITH one another is one of the main lessons I have grown to appreciate since being introduced to Gentle Teaching.”

“Gentle Teaching has pushed me to be the best support and friend possible”

“A culture of gentleness for me has come naturally by genuinely caring for the three gentlemen I serve.”

Or check out one of their “COR Cribs Episodes”

COR Cribs: Episode 2 from Creative Options Regina (COR) on Vimeo.

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supermensch-the legend of shep gordon

10 Business Lessons From The Amazing Supermench, Shep Gordon


Supermench, the legend of Shep Gordon. So I’m listening to the Timothy Ferriss Podcast and this guy who Tim’s about to interview has one of the coolest introductions, Shep’s done a lot. He’s cooked for His Holiness the Dali Lama, entertained who’s-who of Hollywood, and managed some of the most amazing musical acts, then the most amazing chefs in the world. He was a brilliant story teller and had accomplished so much. He seemed content, I wanted to know more. So i bought the book, They Call Me Supermench: A Backstage Pass to the Amazing Worlds of Film, Food, and Rock’n’Roll. This post is inspired by the book. I highly recommend it. Entertaining, funny, and thought-provoking, one of my favourite books this year.

This quote pretty much sums up Shep.

hero

Shep Gordon is one of my hero’s, here are a few reasons why.

1. Create history.

Don’t wait for it to happen, you can create history. Most people believe all you have is what you’re dealt, like you can change your future if you want to. What a lie! Create history. When Shep first started managing his first artist, Alice Cooper, these were his marching orders, to create history. Quite literally working with Alice they didn’t try to “market” Alice Cooper, he didn’t “advertise” Alice Cooper. No that’s what the other managers would do, if he really wanted to stand out he needed to create history. 

Whether it was wrapping an album in Panties or shooting Alice Cooper out of a cannon, Shep tried nearly everything. The first time Alice was to play in the UK they needed a really aggressive stunt as ticket sales were nonexistent. Shep got a flatbed truck with a giant billboard on the back displaying Alice wearing nothing by a large snake. Oh and he paid the driver handsomely to ensure the truck “broke down” several times in Piccadilly Square downtown London during rush hour. The driver was subsequently arrested, but they sold the show out! Create history. 

Or the time that they promised to shoot Alice out of a cannon on stage in Pittsburgh. The problem was the cannon didn’t work. The night before the big show, Shep invited media to a “pre-concert party” where they were going to demo the cannon shot, how exciting! Shep was up to something, because when the cannon fired, Alice (or a dumby, who knows!) fired but only went ten feet. Panic strikes, the star is injured! Rush him to the hospital!

On the news you’d hear of the “accident” and how Alice was hurt with “non-life threatening” injuries. He played the show the next night in a wheel chair with hospital staff on stand-by if anything should go wrong. But how could it? It was all staged, Alice wasn’t hurt at all. It worked perfectly.

Create history, don’t wait for it to happen.

Create history

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Dear Montréal, We’re Stealing Mural Festival. Sincerely, The City of Regina.

Dearest Montréal,

We here on the prairies have grown quite fond of some of the pleasantries your fine cultured citizens have the pleasure of enjoying year on year. We feel it is our duty to inform you that we will be politely (and with the utmost respect) be stealing your Mural Festival as well as a few other ideas from your wildly addictive city.

Your streets are nothing short of beautiful. We intend to do the same to our fair city in due time.  Not only do I want to steal the idea of the Mural Festival, I want to take back to Regina a few other parts of Montréal.

Thank you Montréal for your cooperation and willingness to share in your Mural Festival. We from the City of Regina (unofficially), thank you in advance for your consideration of this request.

A Regina citizen that appreciates your fine city.

First of all Montréal is 375 years old, yeah that’s older than our country! So you can assume Montréal is doing something right, otherwise it wouldn’t be around. There’s a lot of history there, a lot of history this author had no idea about. The people are proud of their rich cultural heritage, far more than I witness on the prairies. It’s about time to start that rich, cultural, artistic, prairie heritage.

If we want to become a major destination in Canada we need to believe we can be a major destination in Canada.

What you want? CHEESEBURGER!! CHEESEBURGER!!

They Get Hospitality and Customer Service – fast service is a win-win

You don’t wait for meals very long at all. Be it crêpes, burgers, or a famous smoked meat sandwich, the service in most places in Montréal was remarkable. They are FAST! Sometimes you are served literally in minutes after ordering. This is a huge win-win! The restaurants like to have more people through their doors and customers don’t want to stay in one place too long. Serving meals fast is a way to impress customers and help your bottom line!

The “cooler” the dining experience the better your odds of success

Montréal really gets outdoor dining. Patios, terraces, tables in the middle of nowhere, some of the most romantic places to share a meal with someone are in the most unique places. We can easily steal this idea. We just need to talk to the City of Regina about allowing dining establishments more leniency on “where” they can setup tables to serve you. “Creating Instagramable Moments”.

Does It Cost To Get In? Nope.

Never short on fun (free) things to do 

We went on a Tuesday till a Saturday and there was the Mural Festival, The Francofolies Festival, as well as a beer fest going on near by. They were all free to attend. That means the organizers must have some great funding to be able to put on acts like that throughout the week. The Mural Festival was an entire street blocked off and shops, restaurants, and artistic acts lining the way. Amazing art pieces now cover the not so boring concrete jungle most cities become.

There’s a free app called Cite Memoire that tells the history of old Montréal in 22 different projections telling the history of Montréal.  Some of these projections were literally hundreds of feet in the air and you could only see them after a certain at night (had to check the app). They were breathtaking. Talk about “creating Instagramable moments” what a smart idea!

 

cite memoire

Got street art?

It’s beautiful just to walk around, the Street Art is amazing

Many of the most spectacular ones were from last year and 2015, Mural Festival is a way to keep making your city more artistically beautiful. The amount of tourists walking around snapping pictures of the Murals was also amazing (guilty!). What a brilliant way to make your city more beautiful, once a year hold a “mural fest” invite famous artists from around the world, and BOOM, every year there are more places with stunning art for everyone to enjoy.

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