January 25, 2012

A Solid Foundation

Letters of Note has an entertaining letter by one of the greats in modern advertising, David Ogilvy. He writes about his 12-step copywriting process:
2. I spend a long time studying the precedents. I look at every advertisement which has appeared for competing products during the past 20 years.

3. I am helpless without research material—and the more "motivational" the better.

4. I write out a definition of the problem and a statement of the purpose which I wish the campaign to achieve. Then I go no further until the statement and its principles have been accepted by the client.
There is the myth of the inspired genius for whom beautiful and harmonious writing just descends as if from the heavens (the Romantic poets are largely responsible for it. See, for example, Kubla Khan).

This myth, though weakened, still lingers. Which is why I pulled the section above; for this writer, at least, great copy starts with research and analysis. It's not the whole story, by any stretch, but a solid foundation helps.

January 19, 2012

Shades of Meaning

This is an oldie, but so cool. Information is Beautiful has a wheel with the meanings of different colors across cultures:

Any graphic from this site will be lovely to look at, but also, from a strictly practical marketing point of view, very useful.

January 17, 2012

Finding Distinctions

While it won't generate as much press as Neilsen's review of the Kindle Fire, his article on generic vs overloaded commands is worth a read.

He gives several examples of overloaded commands including:
A final example of the risks from overloaded command is the swipe ambiguity we found in our iPad user testing. When the same command (a swipe gesture) has different outcomes, depending on exactly where and how the user swipes, confusion results, unless the distinctions are clearer than they were in the apps we tested.
It's very sensible in theory, but I suspect tricky at times to make the distinction in practice. (Partially because, if there isn't an industry standard, it will be hard not to confuse users. And an industry standard, of course, requires more than one app, one site or even one company.)

January 16, 2012

Happiness and the Start Up

An idea to brighten everyone's day:
Various studies have shown that happiness increases productivity. A 2009 study by A. J. Oswald, E. Proto, and D. Sgori for example found a 12% boost in productivity due to increased happiness. Those who work “not for one’s self” in your office will be significantly more productive than those who are more self-focused.

January 14, 2012

Follow the Money

Recently, Google announced Search Plus Your World. There's been a certain amount of grumbling that Google's new social search highlights Google+ results to the detriment of other social networks. Google counters that that's because other social networks don't make their pages searchable. It's all over the internet, but WebProNews has a decent summary of at least Twitter's complaints.

While Twitters not making that much right now (at least compared to Facebook, etc.), they're clearly moving toward more aggressive monetization (for example, see Twitter's ad products and how advertising is key).

In advertising, audience share equals money. If Twitter gets shut out of Search Plus Your World results, and more traffic is driven to Google+, it will undercut their bottom line.

And in case we forget exactly how much money this can mean, there’s a nifty infographic on Facebook’s IPO. It’s all interesting, but here’s a snippet: