Category Archives: Perspectives

A Little Reassurance

The fear of regret is a powerful driver of indecision.

As such, marketing ends up spending a large portion of its time at the entryways to brand funnels, asking would-be passers-through to keep focused on potential up-sides instead of potential down-sides.

But the fear of regret continues well past the end of the funnel. “Did I really make the right choice?” With all the noise, opinions, opportunities, and options, it’s easy for consumers to doubt, and easier still for them to switch.

So, smart brands are finding ways to keep in touch. It can be anything. Most often, the more personal and permanent, the better.

The Bathroom Minutes - A Dollar Shave Club Production








Sold by the box.

I honestly lost count. Fifteen? Maybe twenty. But cut me a break — I mean there was fit, color, style, function, price, and retailer. Let’s not even get into brand. Hunting a new pair of dress oxfords was hardly my idea of fun.

But one pair got me. Upon trial, they certainly seemed closer to right than any of the others. That helped. The thing is, it wasn’t the only reason I swiped my card.

At the bottom of the shoebox laid a manifesto. My feet were busy thinking, so I took a moment to read it.

In those few seconds, I forgot my feet, and I forgot shoes. My imagination flipped on, and my head went to another place, to another thought, to another feeling. No other pair had encouraged such departure. With each previous, my focus remained fastened to the shoe from lace-up to “no thanks”.

Without that little head-trip, would I have purchased on product alone? Maybe so. But the imaginative journey undoubtedly facilitated a simpler, quicker, and more confident decision to buy.

Is your marketing escorting imaginations or blocking them? Here’s what I know. The product I bought shared similar features to a lot of products I denied. Only the product I bought sparked a vision.

Branching Out

Facebook’s had one expensive 2014. This Tuesday, the social networking behemoth shelled out $2 billion to acquire Oculus VR, a virtual reality goggle maker whose wares have yet to be released to the public. Of course, $2 billion is a bargain when compared to the $19 billion that Facebook paid for WhatsApp last month. While Facebook’s purchase of Oculus has been likened to eBay buying Skype, the WhatsApp investment seems sensible, if not a bit pricey. But the buyout I’m most excited about?

Back in January, Facebook gobbled up link-sharing service Branch for an estimated $15 million. Chump change, when you think about it. If you’re unfamiliar with Branch, it’s a New York City-based company that “builds social products to empower conversation.” Most recently, the company launched Potluck, a nifty little app designed to distill and disseminate the news. It works like this: you see a title, you swipe through three bite-size slides on the subject, then, if you want to learn more, Potluck links you to a third-party who addresses the topic in detail. As its name would suggest, Potluck brings lots of easily digestible content to the table that you can in turn share with friends inside the app.

According to Branch founder Josh Miller, Facebook has asked him to “build Branch at Facebook scale.” What I think, or at least hope, this means is that my NewsFeed will be less cluttered with provocative headlines from the likes of Viral Nova and memes in favor of quirky news articles and useful content from reputable news sources. And if I can share that content? Even better. In November, Miller put it this way: “Nobody wants to talk about news on Instagram. Nobody wants to learn about the government shutdown on Snapchat, because that’s where you’re trading selfies with your girlfriend or posting photos of the sunset.” If Miller and his team of link-sharing enthusiasts are successful, $15 million could be a very small price to pay to make Facebook the single best platform for people to talk about the news.

Meet the Interrobang

One of the greatest aspects of being a writer is the creative latitude you magically attain when you receive your writing license in the mail (<- see?). In all seriousness, what’s appealing about writing is the fluidity of the English language.

Each year more words are added to dictionaries and it’s often a big news occasion. So while some unfortunate words are emblazoned on the vernacular until eternity (I cannot bear to link to twerk), we get useful new ones like hackable, food coma and protoplanet.

Punctuation even gets a little jolt every now and again, too. Ever heard of an interrobang? You mean you haven’t?! An interrobang is just perfect for those applications that call for a question mark but also demand the emphasis of an exclamation point. Thus, interrobang.

In the olden days of typesetting, some type families contained a unique glyph: the two different marks superimposed upon each other. Today, we just type them out side by side and I kinda dig it in the proper application.

What do you mean there’s no bacon left?!

Why haven’t you sponsored our bowling team yet?!

When is use of the font Papyrus ever okay?!

One of the most enjoyable things about writing is the vastness of your available canvas. It’s an endlessness that permeates the profession from finished product to tools to medium.

Language is in a constant state of evolution. How cool is that?!

Simply Brilliant: theSkimm

With so much information flying around, it pays to communicate clearly and simply—whatever your forum. For my money, nobody does it better than theSkimm.

Founded by NBC staffers Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg, theSkimm is a daily e-digest of the world’s most important news stories, offered in bite-size, easy-to-digest chunks. The subscription base is largely “busy women who want to keep up on current events and cocktail party conversation but who are short on time,” although I suspect a broad male readership exists.

Here is how theSkimm covered the situation in Ukraine today:

Sign up for theSkimm here. Or at a minimum, let theSkimm’s straightforward writing style inspire your next piece of communication.

Your customers will thank you.