Six Reasons Not to Hate Epcot’s “Guardians of the Galaxy — Awesome Mix Tape Live!”

first_imgShare This!According to legend, as Walt Disney was lying on his deathbed, he stared at the ceiling tiles and mapped out his vision for Walt Disney World’s EPCOT, a forward-thinking community where people from all nations could gather together, share their culture and technological innovations, and enjoy classic pop songs performed by comic book characters. Okay, we’re pretty sure that last part wasn’t part of Walt’s original “Florida Project” plans, but that hasn’t stopped the modern-day Disney company from dropping Guardians of the Galaxy – Awesome Mix Tape Live! into Epcot’s American Gardens Theater to entertain the summer crowds.This is far from the first time that World Showcase’s premier amphitheater has tried to beat the heat with vintage tunes; the Sounds Like Summer cover band concert series ran there for several years before being canceled in 2017. But this time around, Epcot’s entertainment team has cut out the middlemen by building their own classic rock group, and fronting it with two fan-favorite Marvel heroes: Peter “Star-Lord” Quill, and Gamora. The show’s paper-thin premise is that a Xandarian Chamber Orchestra has been sent to Epcot as cultural outreach ambassadors. Star-Lord soon arrives with a sword-swinging Gamora in tow to teach them how to play retro hits from his home planet Earth, instead of their usual atonal alien intonations.Epcot’s new ‘Guardians of the Galaxy — Awesome Mix Tape Live!’ show may be the surprise sleeper hit of the summer.Despite their box office popularity, the Guardians of the Galaxy seem to be developing a history of making Disney diehards hyperventilate. The conversion of Disney California Adventure’s Twilight Zone Tower of Terror into Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout! was bemoaned by many… at least until the reimagined ride reopened, and quickly rose to the top of Disneyland Resort’s guest satisfaction surveys. Similarly, when Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Tape Live was first announced, you could practically hear the eye-rolling from old-school EPCOT admirers, who predicted the show would be the worst shoehorning of an intellectual property into World Showcase since 1994’s Magical World of Barbie.Well, get ready for a twist more shocking than the end of Infinity War, because it turns out that the Guardians of the Galaxy know how to throw a pretty great party. The thematic justification for the venue is vaporous at best, but taken on its own terms, Awesome Mix Tape Live turned out to be far more entertaining than anyone could have predicted. We’re not saying anyone should skip their Soarin’ FastPass just to see it, but if you aren’t on a tight touring plan, it’s worth stopping in for a performance while in the back half of World Showcase.Rocket Raccoon doesn’t appear on stage during Awesome Mix Tape Live!, but you might spot him in the sound booth.Here are six reasons why Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Mix Tape Live is unexpectedly non-awful:1. The SetlistWisely, this show is all about the songs, and the selections include the cream of the crop from both Guardians of the Galaxy movie soundtracks. It kicks off with Blue Suede’s Hooked on a Feeling, whose iconic “Ooga-Chaka” intro is indelibly linked to the first film’s trailer; we were disappointed when the tune wasn’t picked as one of the random options in the Mission: Breakout ride, so it’s great to hear it here. That’s followed by Redbone’s “Come and Get Your Love,” Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” and Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now,” with “I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5 capping off the twenty-minute set. Every song is a certified crowd-pleaser, and there are no down-tempo numbers to sap the show’s momentum.2. The MusiciansDisney probably could have gotten away with a glorified meet-and-greet using pre-recorded music (like the Guardians of the Galaxy dance party in DCA), but instead they went all out with a six-piece live band, consisting of a keyboard player, drummer, bass and lead guitarists, and a pair of horn players. That’s more instrumentalists than some Broadway touring companies employ these days. Better yet, this band really rocks, and their energy elevates what could easily have otherwise been cosplay karaoke. Kudos also go to the sound crew, who give the mix just enough bass to make you want to bang your head, without blowing out the vocals.3. The SingersThose vocals are delivered by a lead male vocalist with silvery cybernetic makeup; he’s backed up by a pair of purple females who do the heavy lifting by harmonizing, and occasionally take the spotlight. There are two rotating casts, and their vocal talents range for “pretty good for a theme park” to “why aren’t you famous yet?” In fact, actress Michelle Knight was in the Broadway cast of Jersey Boys, and starred off Broadway in Disenchanted. Legends like Michael Jackson and Freddie Mercury are hard acts to follow, but this cast has the professional pipes to do their songs justice.4. The Production ValuesFor a short-term production, Disney apparently invested a surprising amount of money, starting with the wall of supersized LED screens behind the stage, which display adorable new animations of Baby Groot. Then there’s the pyrotechnics, which range from blasts of fog and fire to spinning sparklers and roman candles. And don’t overlook the movie-quality costumes and makeup for the cast and crew. Awesome Mix Tape Live has been dismissed by some as nothing but a quick cash grab, but the superior stagecraft suggests otherwise.5. The ActorsStar-Lord and Gamora don’t sing during the show, and they don’t do stunts, though Gamora gets in some martial arts acrobatics during a girl-power moment. But they do bind the production together with their between-song banter, and these performers do a fine job embodying their character’s cinematic personas. The actors playing Peter Quill have to work particularly hard, since their hairpieces are fairly hilarious – though vastly improved over the wigs used at previous meet and greets – but these guys manage to pull off Chris Pratt’s charming schmuck shtick to a T. And if you were a fan of Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights, you may recognize P.J. Gajda from his years playing Bill S. Preston in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure.6. The WritingSpeaking of Bill & Ted, you might detect an echo of their banter in the back-and-forth between Star-Lord and cohorts. That’s because new Guardians show was written and directed by J. Michael Roddy, who was a writer for Universal’s parody show during the late 1990s. This show’s style will also seem familiar if you’ve had the good fortune to sail on a Disney Cruise with a Marvel or Star Wars day at sea, since Roddy has helmed the theatrical productions for those as well. Sure, the storyline isn’t exactly Shakespeare, but the dialogue does a credible job of capturing the characters’ voices without becoming inaccessible to viewers unfamiliar with the franchise. And Star-Lord manages to land a couple pop-culture punchlines that made us laugh out loud.Guardians of the Galaxy – Awesome Mix Tape Live is currently being performed five times each day, and is scheduled to run through August 19. The first show of the day at 1:30 p.m. is the least crowded, followed by the last at 8 p.m. Seats in the front are shaded from the elements, but benches further back give a better view of the screens and stage effects.If you can’t see the show in person, we recorded a livestream of a recent performance that you can replay of below:Finally, if you’re still not convinced that the Guardians of the Galaxy belong in Epcot, our advice is to start getting used to it. Because as you can tell from this photo of their roller coaster’s massive new show building (as seen from the parking lot), you’re going to be seeing a lot more of them in the future.Epcot’s Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster (some assembly required).last_img read more

The Secret to Building Your Blog: Think of It Like a Job Search

first_imgSo you started a blog, you’ve been writing good posts for a few months, and you still don’t have the traction you want — subscriptions, comments and inbound links are all below your targets. What can you do to build your blog? Follow conventional wisdom, and focus harder on writing great posts? Bad idea. Instead, think of the process like a job search. If you were looking for a job, would you focus exclusively on improving your skills? Or would you be pounding the pavement, looking for new opportunities while you’re improving your skills? When you’re looking for a job, you need to be aggressive about getting in front of the right people — only you can’t be so aggressive that you annoy people. You need to find the same balance when you’re building your blog. You need to share posts on Learn how to build your business blog into an inbound marketing machine. (1) Network — Facebook Originally published Jun 5, 2009 7:40:00 AM, updated March 21 2013 (2) Spread the Word — Blogs are no different. Just as you wouldn’t sit back and wait for employers to offer you a job, you shouldn’t sit back and wait for readers to find your blog. Webinar: Advanced Business Blogging Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack and make sure all your friends and contacts know you’re blogging. But you can’t overwhelm or bore them. A good way to handle this balance is to use these channels for more than just broadcasting your blog. to learn how to create a thriving blog.center_img If you’re looking for a job, a good way to get your foot in the door or get noticed is to do a high-profile project — maybe an event, a video or a software application — that gets attention. In the blog world high profile, potentially controversial posts are a good way to get attention. Try publishing something that’s a little spicy that people will react to. If it’s well-written and thoughtful, people will pass it around, more people will be exposed to your blog, and it will grow. Twitter Bloggers understand the value of a link, so they’re usually willing to do an interview in order to get some exposure and a link back to their site. Find prominent bloggers in your industry and ask them for an email interview. People are far more apt to do an email interview than a guest post because it’s an easier format. Instead of coming up with their own original article, they’re just responding to your questions. When you publish the interview, send them the link and encourage them to spread it via their own channels. To help you get started, here are five specific steps you can take to pound the pavement for your blog: Find high-quality, high-traffic blogs related to your industry that are willing to accept guest posts and write a post or two for them. Assuming they’re willing to include a prominent link back to your blog, this is a great way to introduce new people to your blog and build subscribers. Be careful not to commit to too many guest posts, because you’ll start to get fewer new subscribers after a few posts. What do you think? What am I missing on this list? (3) Guest Posts — (4) Email Interviews With Prominent Bloggers — Download the free webinar (5) Grab Attention — When you’re looking for a job, you talk to old friends, attend industry events, show up at community meetups, scan LinkedIn for potential connections and build relationships on Twitter. It’s not much different when you’re looking for readers for your blog. You go to Google Blog Search, Technorati, Twitter Grader and Twitter Search and type in the keywords for your industry. Figure out who in your industry you respect, who the influencers are, and make connections with them. Comment on their posts and, when it adds value, include links to your posts in the comments. Write posts on your blog that respond to their posts. Mention them in your posts. Above all, do you what you can to build relationships and get them to notice that you’re creating thoughtful, interesting content on your blog. andlast_img read more

Marketing Lessons From the Cupcake

first_img Topics: Originally published Apr 19, 2011 3:30:00 PM, updated October 20 2016 Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack If you have recently attended a wedding, birthday party or Bar Mitzvah, you likely have noticed how trendy the cupcake has become. Starting at $3 a cupcake, these confectionery delights are the craze of party goers and bakery shoppers. Search Quora and you will see reports that their fame gained traction after being offered at Magnolia Bakery and subsequently spotlighted on Sex and the City. Others feel their cuteness alone carried them to stardom.4 Inbound Marketing Lessons from the Cupcake1. Experiment with New Channels and OffersThe cupcake wouldn’t have gained its popularity if the first bakery hadn’t offered it to customers. They may have been selling dozens of regular cakes a day but little did they know they could be drawing in more customers by experimenting with the offering of cupcakes. Marketing Takeaway: You won’t know if it is going to work until you try it. If you are using HubSpot’s software , you can use tracking URL’s on any new calls-to-action you experiment with. What channels haven’t you experimented with yet – YouTube , Twitter , email marketing ? How are you going to grow your reach if you don’t try new channels?2. Diversify Your ContentOne of the great things about cupcakes is they allow you to offer a variety of flavors to your guests. If you can’t entice someone with chocolate, perhaps a luscious lemon cupcake will get them to table. Marketing Takeaway: As suggested by Prashant Kaw in “ Are All Your Referral Eggs in One Basket ”, depending on one traffic source is really risky. It is important that you draw traffic in from a variety of sources. Connect with your target audience through a variety of channels. Don’t just offer them vanilla, use social media to share your content, answer questions on LinkedIn , and listen to what is being said on Twitter and Facebook . Your target audience likely has different preferences on how they access information, so publish videos to YouTube in addition to blogging , and try some targeted email campaigns that pull people to your site.3. Be ConciseCupcakes are cute, small and easy to eat. You don’t need a plate or fork to eat them and you aren’t stuck with left over cake for days after. Marketing takeaway: Get to the point quickly. Keep your page titles under 70 characters and your meta descriptions under 150 characters. When asking your visitors to fill out forms , don’t ask them to spend more time than necessary. The goal is to get visitors to learn about your products and take action.4. Create a StrategyWhile the end product is a tasty little cupcake, hard work and preparation goes into the end results. You can’t bake a cupcake if you don’t have flour, eggs, and sugar, and nobody wants to pay $3 for a burnt cupcake. Marketing Takeaway: To be successful, you have to have a strategy for how you will create and optimize your remarkable content . Research keywords that you are going to optimize for. Publish optimized blog entries frequently. The more you produce, the more search engines will trust your site and the higher you will rank in SEO . What has the cupcake taught you about marketing? Marketing Advicelast_img read more

With 90 Million Google+ Users, Google Tries to Force Social Adoption

first_img Google Updates Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Topics: In a press release distributed yesterday recapping Google’s fourth quarter, the search (and social?) giant revealed that Google+ has now racked up 90 million users.Sure, 90 million may seem like nothing compared to Facebook’s giant 800 million user base, but considering the new social network has only been around a mere 7 months, the growth isn’t easily ignored. In fact, the count has more than doubled since October, when Google’s official count stood at 40 million. And when you also factor in Experian Hitwise’s prediction that Google+ will amass 400 million users by the end of 2012, the power of Google+ is definitely not something to shrug off.Google Now Requiring New Gmail Signups to Also Create Google+ AccountsConsidering Google is now practically forcing new Google+ signups with its modified Google account registration form, we doubt it’ll have any trouble hitting that 400 million number.Previously, anyone who wished to register for YouTube, Gmail, or other Google products were only required to provide an existing email address or set up a Gmail account. Now, new Gmail registrants must also provide their name, birthday, and gender, and a Google+ account is automatically created with these other signups.The updated registration form even includes an opted-in checkbox that allows Google to use users’ account information for personalization purposes. After new users complete the form, they are then taken to a profile set-up page, which confirms that new users will also be added to the social network.While Google is guaranteeing an increase in registered Google+ users by this method, more users will really only be valuable if they’re active. I’d guess that many of these new signups won’t even really care that they’ve also been added to Google+. Google will have to do more than just drive registrations if they want to collect the valuable social data they’re after. Why Marketers Should Care About the Growth of Google+ But yes, you should care. Particularly if you’re a marketer. Especially still if you weigh in the fact that it’s not really about the individual power of Google+ as a social network. It’s about how Google can leverage the social data of Google+. As we discussed earlier this month, Google+ is changing the web, whether you like it or not. And the more users Google+ attracts, the more social data Google can collect.Not a believer? Consider the powerful changes we’ve already seen Google make since the dawn of Google+:July 2011: Google starts showing Google+ profile images alongside organic search results.November 2011: Google+ launches business pages.Early December 2011: Google integrates Google+ and Gmail.Mid-December 2011: Google+ enables multiple business page administrators.Late December 2011: Google starts pulling in Google+ status updates into organic search results.Early January 2012: Google launches ‘Search plus Your World,’ the controversial algorithm update that features content from Google+ and shows more personalized results for organic searches. Google+ is obviously impacting search, but it’s also giving Google the leverage it needs to dominate the web. Even if just for the search component, businesses can’t afford not to jump on the Google+ bandwagon. If you haven’t already done so, create your Google+ business page today and start optimizing your business’ Google+ presence.What do you think about the growth of Google+? Are you still putting off creating a Google+ business page?Image Credit: xkcd Originally published Jan 20, 2012 1:30:00 PM, updated October 20 2016last_img read more

17 Examples of Creative Facebook Page Cover Photos

first_img Topics: Images Originally published Apr 5, 2012 2:37:00 PM, updated August 26 2017 Facebook’s new “Timeline” design has been mandatory for all Facebook businesses pages for almost a week now, and you may have noticed your cover photo is now taking up some serious real estate. So even if you don’t take the time to use new features like pinning, starring, and milestones, it’s certainly worth taking some time to make your cover photo stunning, creative, functional, or all of the above.But innovation doesn’t just come out of nowhere … you need a creative spark before you can fan the flames!Free Templates: Facebook Cover Photos for BusinessesSo we scoured Facebook looking for some of the coolest cover photos out there we thought would inspire you. Take a look at how these brands are making the most of their new Facebook cover photo real estate. Then get out there and design a cover image that makes your Facebook page fans and visitors “ooh” and “ahh!”1) Sunrise SignsWe love when our customers get really into their marketing, and Sunrise Signs is certainly showing an interest in the new Facebook cover photo capabilities with this fantastic one that showcases exactly what its product does — without words. They also highlight their clients, a great way to show customer love!2) Old SpiceOld Spice has opted for an Eye of the Tiger meets Diehard theme in its cover photo, also known as the punch you in the face approach. Actually, it seems like their spokesman really might jump out of the computer and punch you in the face, considering Old Spice’s clever cover photo/profile image alignment. But if you’ve seen any Old Spice campaigns in the last couple years, it’s completely on point with their brand. And while it might not be your cup of tea, there’s no denying it captures your attention.3) SharpieSharpie’s cover photo is simple and clean, but also really, really captivating. Look at that detail and artistry! It shows fans how to use this everyday product — a Sharpie permanent marker, and a paper cup — in a creative way. Plus, that pop of red draws your eye in, matches the pop of red in Sharpie’s logo, and reminds us Sharpie actually has colored markers!4) OverGo StudioOverGo Studio is another star HubSpot customer/partner, and their Facebook cover photo is effective because it explains what they do to an audience who may need more information about their services. Yes, they’re using words, but it’s not overpowering! The font is bright and crisp, and the lighter blue words in the background let someone who is really studying the photo learn about their service offerings in more detail without overwhelming visitors with copy-overload. They’re another example of an intriguing, yet subtle use of cover photo-profile image alignment.5) UberUber’s Facebook cover photo is effective because it’s both functional and brand-enhancing. The cars on the map show the cities in which they operate, and the old school map reflects the understated, classic, exclusive feeling of its customers’ experience.6) DropboxDropbox’s Facebook cover photo made this list because it is simply adorable. And you know what? Sometimes the best thing you can do in marketing is just make people smile. Just look at that little guy in the plane! This cover photo also aligns with Dropbox’s Twitter background, and helps make a relatively unsexy service (file hosting) more fun and accessible.7) LivestrongWe featured Livestrong’s Facebook cover photo in a previous post about brands that are making great use of the new features on Facebook’s brand pages. Livestrong’s cover photo is simple, but still artistic and strong. It just goes to show that you don’t always need to get fancy — just be visually captivating. And while we’ve seen a lot of brands play around with the alignment of their cover photo and profile image like we just saw with OverGo Studio and Old Spice, Livestrong cleverly carries its cover photo design into the ‘Views and Apps’ section of its page, where it features the Livestrong blog.8) Murder Mystery CompanyThen again, there’s certainly nothing wrong with a little flash in your marketing! HubSpot customer Murder Mystery Company takes you into their dramatic world with their Facebook cover photo, letting you in on the experience of attending one of their murder mystery performances. Plus, it has a little sex appeal — never a bad thing in marketing!9) McDonald’sMcDonald’s uses its Facebook cover photo to give you sense of the company’s history. Nostalgia is a great approach for McDonald’s — it showcases what I think many would agree is a more enchanting time for the fast food industry.10) Jive SoftwareJive Software’s success with its Facebook cover photo is in the details. When you click on the photo, you see that the caption is “The People are the Network.” What a great sentiment for a social business software company’s social media page! It creates a sense of community, and the image tells us that Jive’s customers are the foundation of the company.11) PhotoShelterUnlike Jive Software, HubSpot customer PhotoShelter lets you actually see the faces of people in its cover photo for a more engaging effect. Including pictures of people in your social media is always a great idea, as long as they look natural and not like stock imagery. These photos both reflect the company’s purpose, and put sympathetic faces behind the brand.12) iStockphotoAnother photo site, it’s no surprise iStockphoto has a spectacular Facebook cover photo — they’ve got a whole website full of them! So it’d be foolish for them not to show off the best of their product. If you look closely, the bottom right corner of the photo gives credit to the photographer, and when you click into the photo, it provides a link to the website where you can purchase the photo. Talk about a subtle call-to-action!13) VerizonVerizon gets their customers involved with their Facebook cover photo. Verizon changes the photo every day, replacing it with an image taken by a real customer. Then they add a picture of the customer in a small call-out, include the name of the customer who took the picture, and the name of the device they used. It not only pays tribute to Verizon’s customers, but it also shows off the capabilities of their products.14) ZipcarZipcar got some clever copywriters involved with their Facebook cover photo! They combined a funny, quippy saying with an image that shows where you can go with a Zipcar. And notice that directive in the bottom right corner? It tells fans what to do — get out, and zip!15) has gotten around the call-to-action restrictions of the new Facebook design by including an image of their latest piece of content. When you click into the photo, they include a link to the post which then takes you to the full piece of content.16) UrbanDaddyUrbanDaddy’s Facebook cover photo is exceptional at reinforcing their brand, but with subtlety. The photo doesn’t tout their product — which is their content — or their offers. It’s all about the person who reads UrbanDaddy, and the lifestyle they embody.17) HubSpotAnd of course, we wanted to give our own Facebook cover photo a little love! We combined the orange our brand is known for with the Boston skyline — it is our Hub, after all!What creative Facebook cover photos have you seen? Share them in the comments so we can all be inspired!Image credit: Sean Rogers1 Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

How to Create Marketing That’s Actually Helpful [Printable Checklist]

first_imgHave you noticed how your Facebook News Feed contains a stream of posts from your over-sharing aunt, your latest favorite band, the Whole Foods around the corner, that one popular girl from high school, and Yahoo! News? Now more than ever, brands are using the same digital real estate we all use to connect with peers, friends, and family to reach consumers. Jay Baer, a marketing strategist, speaker, and author of a new, New York Times Best Selling book called Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is About Help Not Hype, says this social media melting pot of brands, friends, and family creates an “invitation avalanche:” everyone and every brand is inviting you to read this, watch that, “like” it, then share it. We’re bombarded with these invitations masquerading as news, advertising, events, articles, and status updates. For companies, Jay says the only way to truly stand out amidst this information overload is to either be amazing (“Be like Zappos!”), which can be hard, or be useful — a much more practical option. If as a company you become massively useful, your customers will keep you close in their digital watering holes, just like friends and family. This is the essence of what Jay calls “Youtility,” marketing so useful people would pay you for it. (Except, of course, you don’t charge.) Youtility is marketing consumers want to consume, not marketing brands simply want create.Here’s what it looks like.Youtility Marketing in Action: 3 ExamplesTwo of these examples of awesomely useful marketing you’ll find discussed in greater detail in Jay’s book (along with many other examples). I added one to the mix (can you guess which one?)1) Car Seat Helper: A Mobile App From the Phoenix Children’s HospitalIf you are/were a parent, which would you trust more with your injured child: a hospital that has made a proactive effort to keep your child safe, or just any old clinic around the corner?Parents everywhere — not just in Phoenix, Arizona — struggle to select the safest car seat for their children, especially with an array of models, colors, and sizes to choose from. Instead of grabbing one out of 45 models off the shelf at Babies “R” Us and risking an accident, PCH created an award-winning mobile app that would recommend the ideal car seat based on a child’s height and weight. The app wasn’t just downloaded and used by tens of thousands of parents; it found its way into numerous police and fire safety training programs spanning from California to New Jersey.You know what else is cool about the app? PCH didn’t fetch all the information to create the app from scratch. The American Academy of Pediatrics already had a brochure with the data and recommendations in the hospital’s Injury Prevention Center, but it wasn’t packaged in a way that made it as helpful as it could be.Like PCH, your company can create Youtility by simply building upon an idea that already exists.2) Biophilia: Björk’s Interactive App AlbumMusic is created to be heard, right? But as a musician, how do you enter a growing number of ears when the volume of music in the world is produced, remixed, published, and shared faster than it can be consumed? You enhance the listening experience.That’s what Björk did with Biophilia, the album she released in July 2011. Unlike typical albums, Biophilia was released in partnership with Apple as a series of ten apps for the iPhone and iPad. Each app allowed fans to explore a different song within a new virtual, 3-dimensional universe that included gaming elements, lyrics, and access to essays and artifacts Björk used for inspiration when creating each song. The apps even included visualizations to watch while listening, or snippets of the songs to manipulate and create as your own. Watch the video below to see what I mean.Biophilia is Youtility; it’s so useful it’s being used to teach children about music and science in Iceland. It’s so useful it tempts fans and non-fans alike to purchase the app. And even two years after its debut, the album is in the news: recently, a startup in San Francisco helped make the iOS-only app available on Android to reach an even wider audience — school music programs with slashed budgets in particular. How’s that for helpful?3) Pool 101: Common Pre-Purchase Pool Questions Answered by River Pools and SpasThe foreword to Youtility contains a business success story written by Marcus Sheridan, a marketing consultant known as “The Sales Lion,” and co-owner of a pool company in Virginia called River Pools and Spas (who also happens to be a HubSpot customer). I won’t spill all the beans for you, but I will sum up the River Pools and Spas like so: while facing “complete financial ruin” at the beginning of 2009, Marcus made the decision to “act like a swimming pool consumer instead of a swimming pool installer.” This changed everything. The first thing he did was brainstorm every question related to pools he was ever asked by prospects and customers, and then he started answering each in a separate blog post. Week after week, Marcus added more posts answering more questions. Today, River Pools and Spas is the most trafficked pool website in the world. River Pools and Spas answered questions its competitors were too afraid or too lazy to answer in its Pool 101 article and video series, and throughout its entire blog. As a result, potential pool buyers trust River Pools and Spas with their pool purchase because they learned everything they needed to know from their content. Youtility doesn’t have to be an elaborate app or digital experience; it just needs to be wanted by consumers. So, how do you go about creating marketing people actually crave?The 6-Step Path to Creating Your Own Inherently Useful MarketingSo, how can you be a Youtility marketer? Reference this checklist that’ll help you establish whether the marketing content you’re creating is truly helpful. I think you’ll find being useful isn’t that hard, and the rewards are worth the gut check. You can also read more about how to create Youtility for your company in Jay’s new book, and download and print this checklist if you prefer non-digital versions of your reminders 😉 (Embed This Infographic)So, how does your marketing measure up? Are you investing in creating helpful marketing? If so, how? Share your stories in the comments! Topics: Originally published Jul 30, 2013 8:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017center_img Marketing Strategy Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

Thom Yorke, BitTorrent, and Content Marketing’s Magic Moment

first_img Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack These days may go down as the best of times and worst of times for the corners of the internet that are usually too shadowy for the general public.BitTorrent, a peer-to-peer file-sharing protocol that’s been used to power hotbeds for pirated content like Pirate Bay, is relishing the present. Last week, Thom Yorke, the Radiohead front man who is nearly as well known for his pay-what-you-want pricing experiment as he is for his music, issued an announcement that took the music and technology industries by storm: He would self-distribute a solo album exclusively on BitTorrent.Coincidentally, BitTorrent is enjoying a PR coup while other fringe communities, namely the lurid 4Chan and its geeky distant cousin Reddit, have found themselves tangled in controversy surrounding the distribution of intimate photos stolen from celebrities. While Reddit has been turning on itself, others have been so outraged by 4Chan that they’ve orchestrated elaborate hoaxes in attempt to shudder the site entirely. If appealing to the mainstream factored into either site’s growth plan, it could be time to consider Plan B.No such plan is required for BitTorrent. Thanks to Yorke’s win-the-internet announcement, which threatens to cut the middlemen like iTunes and Spotify out of music distribution while simultaneously positioning BitTorrent’s new Bundle product as a way for artists to profit from their work and connect with fans, the public is seeing the technology company in a very different light. Talk about a turnabout for a brand that was once so associated with illegal file-sharing that it blogged in late 2012, “Does BitTorrent = Piracy?” (Spoiler: The answer it gave was, “No.”)Turning Around BitTorrent’s ReputationAnswering common questions isn’t all BitTorrent was doing to turn around its reputation at the time. According to the company’s Chief Marketing Officer, Jascha Kaykas-Wolff, it wasn’t much later that the company began conversations with Yorke, discussions that eventually led to last Friday’s news. Kaykas-Wolff explained that two years ago this Christmas Eve will mark the anniversary of a conversation over tea in London between BitTorrent’s Chief Content Officer (then VP of Marketing) Matt Mason, Yorke, and his management. The two sides enjoyed what Kaykas-Wolff termed “an ideological match” in that they both felt the internet wasn’t helping artists and fans to connect in the way it should.  Yorke and his manager recognized BitTorrent’s potential to distribute recordings directly to fans and not only monetize the transaction, but also give the artist access to everyone who downloaded the files. Eventually, Mason spun up a new product, called BitTorrent Bundle, which Kaykas-Wolff describes as “a record store for the internet generation.” Files can be email-gated or pay-gated. Yorke’s solo effort, Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes, is the first pay-gated torrent.In time, the PR frenzy will subside. It always does. The BitTorrent-Yorke agreement marks a moment that runs much deeper and endures much longer than any news cycle. Simply, BitTorrent has fused its product together with content. “This (partnership) is an absolute form of content marketing. It’s all about supporting the artists and matching it to what the BitTorrent community has said it wants,” said Kaykas-Wolff. And he’s right. The Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes release isn’t entirely unlike a marketing technology company running a popular blog on its own software — it becomes difficult to distinguish the product from the content. And that’s exactly the point.Yet although the BitTorrent partnership is structurally similar to what business-to-business marketers have been doing for a few years, it would have been easy for Mason to have been so blinded by tried-and-true content marketing programs that he could have overlooked the larger opportunity presented by Yorke.When asked about his company’s willingness to “think big,” Kaykas-Wolff responded, “Everyone is following the content model taught by marketing technology vendors. There needs to be room to experiment with different formats, different ideas, and reaching different audiences that you didn’t have access to previously.”So if any marketers are looking to experiment with large, multimedia files in their content mix, I know a popular protocol that’s ideal for distribution. It’s also suddenly a highly trusted brand.Image credit: BitTorrent Originally published Sep 30, 2014 6:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Content Marketinglast_img read more

The Science of Speed Reading: How Well Does It Actually Work?

first_imgImagine breezing through a lengthy business report in mere seconds, or tackling War and Peace in a single afternoon. For many of us, such feats sound like they belong squarely in the realm of science fiction. But to others, “speed reading” is quite real, and can be improved through practice and proper technique.Take six-time world speed reading champion Anne Jones, for example, who read all 784 pages of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in just 47 minutes. As New York Magazine reported, that works out to 4,200 words per minute — more than 10 times faster than the pace “good readers” read at. And to prove that she wasn’t simply rifling through pages with reckless abandon in order to make it seem as though she was speed reading, Jones was able to successfully summarize the major plot points of the book afterwards, suggesting that she actually retained information.So, what’s going on here? Is Jones really able to read at word-per-minute rates far greater than what the typical, non-super human is capable of? Or is there some other, more scientific explanation behind what’s happening?Before we dive in, let’s take a moment to understand how speed reading (allegedly) works.Speed Reading 101Speed reading courses have been around since the 1950s, with educator Evelyn Wood introducing one of the more popular ones — Reading Dynamics — in 1959. As with many of the speed reading courses that would follow, Wood’s course focused on minimizing the number of back-and-forth eye movements a reader made while scanning a page.The underlying theory was that you could improve reading speed through improving reading efficiency. In other words, if you could absorb more information with each glance (e.g., through only focusing on every other word, or through honing in on just the beginnings and ends of sentences or paragraphs), you could, in theory, drastically reduce the time it takes you to read something.Modern speed reading apps, like Spritz, rely on the same basic principle. In fact, by flashing individual words in rapid succession, such apps don’t just reduce back-and-forth eye movements, they essentially eliminate them. This leads to a highly efficient style of reading. Check out the GIF below for a sample of what it’s like.Image Credit: thejournal.ieBut can this more efficient method of reading really help you read faster? Or does it merely make you think you’re reading faster, when in reality you’re not retaining as much information? (i.e., is “speed reading” really just another term for “skimming”?)Based on the available research, it definitely appears that the latter is more likely than the former.The Science of Speed ReadingFor psychology professors Jeffrey M. Zacks and Rebecca Treiman, speed reading claims have always sounded too good to be true. And in a recent op-ed in the New York Times, they delivered their thoughts on the matter under the blunt headline “Sorry, You Can’t Speed Read.”One of the biggest issues they identified, which also applies to reading apps like Spritz, is that people fail to understand the difference between perception (simply seeing words) and language processing.Unlike perception, language processing involves stringing words together in order to derive a broader meaning from them. So while speed reading courses can indeed help you perceive more words in a given glance, that doesn’t guarantee that your brain will have enough time to actually process everything you’re seeing. That means when you’re speed reading, you’re not understanding the text as deeply compared to if you were reading normally — even if you see every single word.In their op-ed, Zacks and Treiman used this analogy:Have you ever tried listening to an audio recording with the speaking rate dialed way up? Doubling the speed, in our experience, leaves individual words perfectly identifiable — but makes it just about impossible to follow the meaning. The same phenomenon occurs with written text.”Ultimately, the factor that most effects a person’s reading speed isn’t how efficient their eye movements are, it’s how extensive their vocabulary is. According to Zacks and Treiman, reading and understanding text more rapidly is all about improving language comprehension, not vision. So if you want to read faster, your best bet is to start reading more, so you can expose yourself to as many words and linguistic nuances as possible.Have you ever tried “speed reading” before? What was your experience like? Tell us about it in the comments section below. Originally published May 6, 2016 7:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Marketing Psychology Topics:last_img read more

What Is Lagom, and How Can It Create a More Balanced Approach to Work and Life?

first_img Topics: When the Global Innovation Index 2017 was released, Switzerland and Sweden led the pack — as they have in previous years.What makes this part of the world such a beacon of creative thought?As someone who was fortunate enough to live and work in Sweden, I’ve come to believe the answer might be hiding in a single word: “lagom.”Like many other non-English concepts, lagom defies quick or simple translation. It’s more of a cultural belief than mere letters strung together to signify objects or actions.Download our complete productivity guide here for more tips on improving your productivity at work.But what is it, and how can we use it at work and in life?What Is Lagom?Roughly speaking, lagom is a state of being sufficiently balanced. However, that doesn’t mean everything is equal, as on a leveled seesaw. Instead, lagom means having just the right amount of something for a given situation. The common Swedish proverb, “lagom är bäst” — which roughtly translates to, “the right amount is best” — is similar to the English phrase, “everything in moderation.”Finding lagom takes some practice, especially for those who were not brought up in Nordic countries where lagom is as natural as fjords and icy winters. And yet, it might be the key for businesspeople who are mired in a losing, imbalanced approach of creating products and then searching in vain for users — not to mention, those who simply want to find better work-life balance.The Barrier of Black-and-White ThinkingA barrier to embracing a lagom mindset is the prevalence of binary thinking. Left or right. Yes or no. Certainly, there are times in life when such starkness makes sense; no one would argue, for example, that at a train crossing, you would sit partway on the tracks instead of either stopping or going.But in the business world, effective solutions and answers are rarely black-and-white. Unfortunately, many struggle to see shades of gray when it comes to product development or product-market fit. That sheds some light on why throwing convention out the window sometimes leads to success.“Why can’t I connect travelers with local hosts for a whole new travel experience?” “Why can’t I combine riders with independent drivers via an app for better taxi experiences?” “Why can’t I create a taco shell made with Doritos?”Lagom at WorkDespite some trends toward blended products — lagom in a product context — it isn’t easy to see how to incorporate this concept of varied perspectives into your business. I struggled to see it myself, in fact, until I attended an international hackathon in Ireland.Our team was comprised of eight engineers and two marketers, including myself. The challenge: Come up with a new kind of conference identification badge that people would love.After brainstorming, we dismissed the notion of a traditional paper name tag encased in plastic, instead opting for an electronic one with image and video capabilities. Those who have read Arthur C. Clarke’s 3001: The Final Odyssey might be vaguely reminded of the nanochip inserted into everyone at birth to allow for more seamless introductions. Our suggestion, I’m proud to say, was less invasive — but just as compelling.We hoped that the badge would spur serendipitous moments for conference-goers via an embedded tracking mechanism. Our goal was to make it the centerpiece of a novel, productive conference experience. On that, everyone agreed — but soon, the classic engineer-marketer battle ensued. Sometimes, engineers tend to be product-centric and marketers, well, market-centric. In our scenario, the former focused on the ability to solve our problem using the product, while the latter concentrated on the user experience and costs.It wasn’t until we reached a blended, balanced approach — lagom — that we managed to create the final product that both sides had hoped for.A great product only sells if it satisfies a market that’s willing to pay for the solution. Any product lacking balance is destined for a bumpy and potentially fatal debut. Product-Market Fit Through BalanceNathan Furr and Paul Ahlstrom, co-authors of Nail It then Scale It, hit the proverbial nail on the head when they rhetorically asked:With this question, Furr and Ahlstrom referred to a phenomenon that I’ve seen in over two decades of working with entrepreneurs and corporations: Achieving early product-market fit exponentially increases a startup’s chances for success. Getting there, however, requires finding lagom. Let’s face it: You’ll get feedback on any solution … eventually. But entrepreneurs are often blinded by a passion for a specific solution. Instead of listening to unadulterated feedback, they might peddle products in search of an audience. Watch one episode of “Shark Tank,” and you’ll immediately see why that’s a disastrous approach.A key milestone for me, which was essentially my “aha!” moment, was the realization that striving for product-market balance required exceptional listening ability. The only way to see a situation, or a product, from more than one viewpoint is to listen and accept others’ ideas — then, challenge and question everything they’ve said with curiosity and sincerity.Balance.The only way to do that — the only way to balance your company vision with the needs of your market — is through repeated, meaningful customer conversations. Always Focus on the CustomerCustomers naturally focus on their needs. As an entrepreneur, I realized that instead of guessing at those needs, I could learn what they are through conversations with my audience. Only by actively seeking market insights could I craft my business strategy, make better product decisions, and promote customer loyalty.This epiphany has become the basis of everything I do and teach. By shifting from the “what” to the “why,” I’ve become aware of just how much of our decision-making depends on the internalization of others’ ideas.Most of us would like to believe that we make decisions consciously and individually. But back in the early 2000s, Harvard professors determined that 95% of purchase decisions are made subconsciously, posing quite the challenge to marketers.That’s why better business decision-making requires us to unearth our customers’ innermost thoughts and feelings. Yes, it takes practice just like any skill. Those of us who didn’t grow up in Nordic countries may find the pursuit of lagom — by way of talking to customers, and perhaps even strangers — challenging at first.But doing so springs us from the trap of self-centeredness and facilitates raw, human-to-human connection. That’s where lagom — and true balance — really begins. Don’t forget to share this post! Work Life Balance Originally published Jan 2, 2018 8:00:00 AM, updated January 02 2018last_img read more

The New Email Nurturing Strategy That Improved Our Engagement By Over 1,000%

first_imgThere’s been a ton of research about lead nurturing and its ability to affect a funnel. We know that, on average, we see more qualified leads, shorter sales cycles, and larger purchase amounts made by nurtured leads when compared with non-nurtured leads. Who doesn’t want that?And using automation, a single marketer can scale and own a global nurturing strategy.Click here to download our free ebook featuring 104 email marketing myths, experiments, and inspiration.However, with great power, comes great responsibility. Nurturing is all about building relationships and providing value. Through helping your leads, users, and customers answer questions and tackle challenges, you build trust and prime them to buy from your company. However, many businesses today are using automation in ways that run counter to these goals and create a poor experience for their contacts.Before we go any further, some context about our nurturing and automation “fundamental truths” will be helpful. At HubSpot, we believe that nurturing and automation:Should not be about your company. If your flow only talks about your business, the awards you’ve won, how many customers you have, etc. people will tune you out, and your nurturing won’t be effective.Should be customer-centric. You want your customer to feel empowered by your business.Should not be a sales pitch. If your flow only talks about feature lists, price points, and discounts, people will lose interest quickly.Should be helpful. You want to provide value up front, giving your contacts something that helps them before asking them for a single thing.Should not be left on autopilot. If you leave your flow running for long periods without analyzing its performance, your nurturing won’t be effective.Should be continually improved. You want to test, learn, and iterate to create an ever-better experience for your contacts.If your automation falls into one of the “should not” categories above, don’t panic. This stuff IS NOT easy. Heck, we didn’t even nail this the first time. Read on to see how you can start fixing your nurturing strategy, and how we grew our own engagement by over 1000%.Nurturing Based on Content TopicWe’ll start by taking a quick trip back in time.It’s 2015. You come to and, after filling out a form, you download a social media offer, becoming a new lead in our system.Because we see you’ve downloaded a social media offer, we enroll you in an email nurturing flow focused on social media, sending you additional social media content, and eventually trying to get you to book a social media assessment call with our sales team.This strategy worked pretty well for us. 30% open rate (OR), and a 14% click-through-rate (CTR).Nurturing Based on GoalsNow let’s fast forward to 2016.We reflected on our 2015 strategy, and thought we may have gone too narrow. We know that the majority of our leads “wear many hats” or, do more than just one thing for their company.So we aimed to broaden our approach. We identified the main problems HubSpot solved for: driving traffic to your site, converting that traffic into leads, and closing those leads into customers. We then bucketed all of our content offers into one of those three buckets. Then, when a new lead was created through a content download, we enrolled them into a nurturing flow associated with the appropriate bucket.We appropriately named this our bucketed approach.This approach worked well for us too. We saw an uptick in OR to 27% and CTR to 17%.Our New Nurturing Strategy: Pick Your Own AdventureHowever, moving into 2017, we still had some work to do. We realized we were making assumptions about our leads’ most pressing business challenges, and we made the decision to stop assuming.What did this look like in practice?Well, we did something pretty crazy:We asked.We asked our contacts what their biggest challenge was and then contextually nurtured them to tackle that challenge. And maybe the craziest part? We saw our engagement skyrocket.We call this strategy Pick Your Own Adventure. Here’s how it works.You come to and, after filling out a form, download a social media offer. This action enters you as a new lead into our system.The first email we send comes from me, and asks you what your biggest challenge is.Let’s say, in this example, you selected “Generate More Leads”.We then send you directly to a thank you page where you can download one of our top offers to help you tackle that challenge (no additional form fill necessary).Next, you’re enrolled in a contextual nurturing track designed to help you tackle your lead generation challenges. Here are some of the emails that follow: Don’t forget to share this post! Email Marketing Campaigns This last email generates the most meetings for our sales team of the entire flow.Because of the relationship we’ve been building, through empathizing with your challenge, helping you address that challenge, and checking on your progress, our leads now feel comfortable enough to have a strategy conversation.The final email of our flow goes to people who have not booked a meeting.HubSpot Academy is a team of brilliant educators with an entire library of content, courses, and certifications dedicated to helping you grow your business and your career. Through this message, we show that we want to continue to provide value to you over time — and we’re here if you ever want to talk.So how did our Pick Your Own Adventure Strategy perform?Drum roll please …We saw incredible success with this strategy. It’s extremely rare to see open and clickthrough rates like this.Okay, that’s pretty cool… but where does the 1000+% come from?When comparing contacts who identified their challenge in our Pick Your Own Adventure Strategy versus those who did not, we saw over 1000% increase in engagement (CTR).Looking at our email metrics year over year we can see that our Pick Your Own Adventure Strategy performed significantly above our 2015 and 2016 strategies.How to Launch a Pick Your Own Adventure Nurturing Strategy at Your CompanyNurturing is all about building relationships. To provide the best experience, we need to stop assuming we know what our leads’ challenges are. Instead, just ask. Then, follow up contextually to help them tackle that challenge.To create a Pick Your Own Adventure Strategy of your own follow these simple steps:Identify your main persona’s biggest challenges.Which challenges can your business solve for? You’ve just identified your “adventures”. These will be the CTAs you use in your email campaign.Identify which pieces of content can help your persona tackle the challenges you’ve identified. If you don’t have content for a specific challenge, that’s okay. This is a great exercise to identify opportunities to create new content.When new prospects enter your database, send them an email welcoming them and provide your “adventures.” I recommend providing four adventures total — three specific, and one catch-all — and each should be a CTA.Based on which CTA the lead clicks, enroll them into a distinct nurturing track associated with a specific adventure. If they don’t click a CTA, enroll them in the catch-all option. Pro Tip: Using the HubSpot Workflows tool you can easily take care of this part using if/then branching logic.Once enrolled in the unique track, send a series of emails with the content you outlined above.When crafting your emails, think about providing value up front. Focus the first few emails on addressing their challenge. Pro Tip: Make sure to acknowledge and empathize with the challenge your lead has selected in your emails. Try using some copy like the following “Last time we spoke, you mentioned your biggest challenge is X. I get it, X isn’t easy!”Once you’ve provided value, aim for your goal, whether that’s encouraging them to book a demo of your product, scheduling a consultation call, or something else entirely.Collect data, analyze, and iterate.Once you’ve finished your build, give yourself a pat on the back — this stuff isn’t easy.However, just because you’ve built it once doesn’t mean it’s done. I like to check in on my program every 30 days to collect email metrics and gauge the impact on down funnel metrics like marketing qualified leads, opportunities created, and new customers generated.Pro Tip: Put a recurring event on your calendar for the first day of the month to report on how your program performed the previous month. This calendar event will hold you accountable to monitoring performance and improving over time. Good luck and happy nurturing.center_img Topics: Originally published May 14, 2018 7:00:00 AM, updated July 12 2019last_img read more