May 2011

Faux Goodness And EcoSploitation

2011-05-31T18:00:47+00:00 Categories: SandBlog, solve|Tags: , , , , , |

“What a scam!” I thought, while drying off with the hotel towel. I reached over and read the card the hotel left in the basket among the soaps and mini-shampoo bottles.

It explained how they care about our world and that by reusing my towel again and not changing the sheets everyday “together we can save the environment.”

Yes, I agree. I don’t need to have a fresh towel and new sheets everyday – I don’t at home.

But, please don’t start pretending that you “care” and “together we can make a difference.” (At least not about the environment).

For the cost of a little marketing – a few pennies per room… the cost of the ‘we care‘ card – the hotel gets their customers to lower the electric bill, water bill, and labor costs. Brilliant! The only green they have in mind is the profitability of the hotel.

If a hotel (or company) really wanted to be environmentally friendly they would also pay attention to the major environmental contributors including: energy efficient lighting, water conservation, heating and cooling systems, mass transit for employees and guests. As well as all the small things that add up… (e.g. use pitchers, pourers, and small bowls to serve milk, sugar, butter and jelly – instead of all that plastic packaging).

We’re in an interesting stage with environmental issues – it’s almost religious. If you live an eco-sinful life, you may go to hell (i.e. create hell on earth through global warming). Staying on the righteous green path, you will literally redeem the earth.

Like many trends, we’re at a point where considerable action needs to occur, but where consistency and regulation don’t yet exist. We are at that point like some years back when everyone was shocked that their bottled water wasn’t indeed pure and clean as they were led to believe?

Inconsistency in process and packaging and little regulation. (Now we know that the bottle itself is a problem!)

That’s where we seem to be with the environment. Trends drive exploitation. This is where creativity and problem solving is used for faux good, but I think it is more evil.

We marketers are the authors of these good and bad messages. We are the ones called upon by companies to hop on the bandwagon and squeeze as much chlorophyll into our message as possible.

I’ll close with this blurb I found while researching this post. The title of the article is:
Exploiting Environmental Hysteria for Fun & Profit
While the author is blatant in his “shrink the ‘carbon footprints’ of your customers to grow your bottom line” approach – not all of us will be as forthright in our approach.

For HVAC, green living is efficient living. Boost your sales by showing people how tune-ups, duct renovations, and higher efficiency products can reduce their carbon footprints (i.e. the CO2 that is generated from their energy use), improve comfort, and save money.

Remember, people buy on emotion. For those seeking a carbon-neutral lifestyle, few subjects are as emotional as the environment. When viewed through green-tinted glasses, the dreaded air conditioner replacement becomes an exciting environmental action.

Your thoughts? Reactions?

Tools To “Make Ideas Happen”

2017-08-19T15:44:55+00:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: , , |

Return with renewed energy and to be more productive than ever. THE key to productivity is an organized approach* to getting things done. I have recently discovered one of the simplest systems: The Action Method developed by Behance.

Their tagline says it all…

Make Ideas Happen

Behance breaks it down into three bite-sized chunks:

  • Action Steps – the things to do, to get things done,
  • Backburner Items – future action steps, or non-urgent things to remember, and
  • Reference Items.

Here is how Behance explains the Action Method:

ACTION STEPS are tasks that need to be completed.

BACKBURNERS are the brilliant ideas that you want to come back to later but are not yet actionable.

The outcome of every idea or interaction must be captured and transformed into action steps, backburner items, and reference items.

1) Capture Action Steps, Relentlessly

During a brainstorm, meeting, or on the run, ideas arrive in a flurry of other activity and can be lost unless they are captured and transformed into action steps. Action Steps are tasks to be completed. Each action step should start with a verb (i.e.: follow up with x, review y, meet with z).

2) Tend to Your Backburner

Keep a “backburner” to catch ideas that may someday require actions, or just to clear your mind of the little and non-urgent things. Preserve your creative energy and focus on action steps!

3) File Reference Items, Sparingly

REFERENCES are notes, links, files, sketches – any information related to a project that gives context to your Action Steps. Keep only the notes, articles, and sketches that you need. Avoid clutter.
Behance has developed a line of tools to help you be more organized.

DISCUSSIONS enable you to manage ongoing conversations across all of your projects with anyone that works with you. All relevant communications (shared documents, solutions to problems, feedback, decisions) are in one place.

EVENTS are the key occasions/meetings/milestones/etc toward which you (and your team) are working. Events can be used to coordinate deadlines for Action Steps.

Supporting Tools

Action Notebook

Their Action Notebook and Pad has space to capture action steps, backburner notes, space for notes and sketches, and a space to jot preparation and focus items so you can plan for meetings beforehand and be sure to address your focus items.

Behance isn’t only the purveyor of the Action Method and supporting tools, they also foster a network where creative professionals – yes, that including us marketers too – may share creative work, collaborate, exchange tips, and post jobs.

The notebook is spiral bound and the pad has tear-off sheets. Each has 50 pages. (Both fit within a three-ring notebook).

Behance Notebook

Action Pad Mini

Their Action Pad Mini, in addition to being a clean tool for capturing action steps, is also brilliantly designed to fit the medium-sized Moleskine Notebook (5″x7″). A perfect pairing.

Back Burner

Action Cards

3″ x 5″ cards for capturing ideas anytime.

Back Burner

Action Stickers

Each removable sticky-back action step can be peeled from the card and placed on magazine covers, drafts of projects, or in traditional notebooks. Action Stickers help bring your action steps to the surface, ultimately catching your attention.

Back Burner


If you don’t have a process – make or get one. The time you’ll invest in learning a system far outweighs the cost of forgotten ideas, as well as the time and frustration spent trying to recall stuff left to memory alone. If you do have a process, and it works well for you, keep it. No need to cut into your productivity by fiddling with what’s working for you.

Champion Ideas: Built-In Beats Bought-In

2017-08-21T16:52:05+00:00 Categories: SandBlog, solve|Tags: , , |

You and your team – after a few meetings and many hours – have the plan all figured out. Excellent! Now, you just need to share it and get buy in from the other departments who will help carry it out.

Fast-forward a few days…

While many are on board, you faced resistance, found out you forgot key details, and need to regroup. Not a total loss, but significant adjustments are required. After changes are made, you need to shop it around again… Sound familiar?

This is a common scenario. We pull together a team (which we purposely keep small to prevent distraction and promote efficiency) and create plans other people will implement. We try to foresee challenges that may be thrown at us from the finance, operations, supply chain, creative, and leadership teams. We spend only 20% of our time planning but end up spending 80% selling and re-selling.

Any efficiency we created building the plan with our small group has been wasted in re-work, with bent coat hangers and duct tape, to meet requirements. While our plans may appear a success, they are a shadow of what they could have been, and the structural integrity is questionable.

The solution?

Flip the model.

Instead of getting them bought in after planning, have them built-in and part of the plan. Instead of the exclusive, small team, in secret… include all stakeholders… anyone who will have skin in the game.

Spend 80% of your time building and crafting. Building correctly the first time allows you to spend the remaining 20% plussing, or working on something else. It may not reduce the entire amount of time you spend on a project, but it will ensure programs are…

  • better thought through,
  • not stalled and halted for retrofits, and
  • better implemented. Which is really the goal of all this, right?

Built-in instead of bought-in means… Concerns and issues can be directly addressed up-front. This eliminates fix-it jobs later and promotes a rock solid plan now.

Yes, you’ll share the glory, but you also share the workload, and the troubleshooting if there is a snag during execution. Everyone is responsible for making it a success. Everyone is an ambassador. Go team!

With your next project, instead of trying to anticipate concerns, ask for them. Instead of trying to get them bought in at the end, have them built-in at the beginning.

What Makes A Creative Director A Great Leader?

2011-05-11T00:15:51+00:00 Categories: SandBlog, solve|Tags: , |

In speaking with a friend about the Creative Director role at their agency, we exchanged ideas about what makes a Creative Director. I made some notes for her and thought you’d like to see them… The ideas go beyond that of just a Creative Director.

  • Understanding not just what someone states they need, but to look further to what they really need.
  • Is multi-lingual… they understand can speak, and translate: design, brand, and client.
  • Understands how to make it work – the words, the art, the vehicle.
  • Helps people see things from other perspectives.
  • Helps people break the ‘curse of knowledge’ – knowing so much about a topic they forget what it is to be a confused newbie.
  • Is a plusser.
    • Challenges people to plus their work to the next level. Helps them work at their full potential.
    • Goes beyond to create new standards, doesn’t settle for the current status.
    • Looks to the industry for the trend… but relies on other resources to push things further.
    • Pushes to plus her or himself. To do better this year than last.
  • Provides usable feedback. And in a way that doesn’t kill confidence!
  • Treats people with respect and dignity.
  • Knows when to help clear a path… and when to stay out of the way.
  • Takes blame. Gives credit.

I’m sure I’m missing other important things… What are your thoughts?