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Networking is a lot like planting seeds

Here’s why you should never stop networking

By Dave McGurgan
Photo: surajith s

As humans, we all crave and need social interactions. Without these personal connections, we do not exist or function very effectively. We must never stop networking.

Our network of people that we interact with expands and contracts over time. If we don’t nourish our network on a regular basis, one can become disconnected from others. It can keep one from thriving in a meaningful way.

Networking is a lot like planting seeds. In most cases, it rarely produces immediate results. What you do today as you network may not come to fruition for many weeks or months to come.

When you plant a seed, you are creating opportunities for yourself and others in the future.

The more you nurture your network, the more opportunity to plant seeds and meet interesting people along the way.

Whether it’s a LinkedIn connection request, a referral or a get-in-touch e-mail, it’s important never to stop engaging with your networks of people, places and things. As humans ,we crave and seek out that engagement.

Woman at computer

Manage a PPC campaign without breaking a sweat

By Dave McGurgan
Photo: Tatiana Niño

Here’s a blog post I wrote for the good folks over at Demandwave about Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns. This guide helps Pay Per Click noobs kick off and execute a successful PPC campaign.

“PPC has become an effective channel for marketers to reach target audiences in the places where they spend the most time online. As prospective buyers begin their research process, vendor websites that rank high in search results are among the top sources of information that influence their decision-making. Along with organic ranking, PPC campaigns help position businesses as key players and subject matter experts for the search queries performed.”

The Beginner’s Guide to PPC Campaign Management [Demandwave]

House Industries: The Process is the Inspiration

House Industries book chronicles transforming artistic curiosity into satisfying work

By Dave McGurgan

Hiding in plain sight for nearly 25 years, House Industries might be the coolest brand and company to emerge from Delaware. The highly innovative design company began as a type foundry, but has made its mark by innovating and evolving at a rate that Miles Davis would have had trouble keeping up with.

Early on, founders Rich Roat and Andy Cruz took a pass on going the typical agency or creative shop route, instead, they followed their most personal passions and eclectic interests and allowed those to influence the direction of their company. As a result, House Industries created their own opportunities to work in disparate mediums such as fashion, product design and even cycling gear.

House Industries takes a look back at their history in “House Industries: The Process is the Inspiration.” The 400-page book weaves the narrative of the company’s unlikely ascent to become of America’s top design thought leaders along with many of their most visually-engaging projects. The book is an intriguing collection of valuable lessons, anecdotes and case studies that describe how one can transform obsessive curiosity into personally satisfying and fruitful work.

We’ve already pre-ordered our copy for the Four Dog Creative office. We recommend you do the same.

Amazon.com: House Industries: The Process is the Inspiration

Woman taking photo mobile phone

More than 100 facts on how social media has impacted the business world

By Dave McGurgan
photo: Annie Spratt

Here are some social media insights that you can use to drop some social media knowledge on your boss and help you geek out with the social media managers in your life. The important takeaways that you’ll want to note for the business world include:

  • Spending on social media marketing is expected to double in the next three years
  • Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn are the social sites most likely to influence purchasing decisions
  • Facebook has 1.59 billion registered users
  • Instagram has 600 million registered users
  • Twitter has 320 million registered users
  • 43,000+ photos are uploaded to Instagram every minute
  • For every one photo uploaded to Instagram, 10 are uploaded to Snapchat
  • Social media penetration is nearly 60% in the U.S.
  • YouTube is big with kids: 85% of them report watching videos on the social network

Stop working long hours

Please stop working long hours, nights & weekends

By Karl Smith

You have them in your office. We all do.

They work crazy hours during the week and work nights, weekends and during their vacation to boot. And they make sure you know about it.

As a leader, I have always gone out of my way to let my team know that that sort of behavior is not impressive, nor is it expected. Not that there aren’t times when you have to work well past the end of a typical 8-hour day. Not that there aren’t times when you have to crack open the laptop on the weekend. But on a day to day, week to week basis, that sort of thing shouldn’t be expected.

And lately, it seems other people are starting to see the light.

At the beginning of September, in preparation for Labor Day, Jena McGregor offered up a piece with this straightforward headline: Stop touting the crazy hours you work. It helps no one.

McGregor tees off with some of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s over-the-top views on being “strategic” with things like when you use the bathroom and, God help us, sleep, but hammers it home with, well, some facts.

Research, time and time again, shows the problems with overwork — on people’s health, on turnover, on absenteeism, on productivity. Studies have shown that after about 50 hours a week, productivity decreases, and it plummets after 55 hours, leaving no detectable difference between those who work 56 hours and those who work 70 — or 130, as Mayer suggested may be needed for successful startups.

McGregor’s piece was a follow-up to an article that explained those long hours are bad for you in a lot of ways. Again, the facts bear that out.

So why do people do it? To pump up their self-worth? To try to get people to work harder? The truth is, every one of these folks probably has a somewhat unique set of reasons. And they shouldn’t be the ones who identify the problem. People working these crazy hours aren’t helping you, or your organization, so it’s up to their organization’s leadership to recognize this for the symptom it is and get to the real underlying problem, then solve it.

#onward

Karl Smith writes frequently about leadership. His posts can be found on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn social network

Linkedin’s new interface: Will it make social network easier to use?

By Dave McGurgan

LinkedIn is one of the oldest social networks in existence (it was launched in 2003!) and focuses on business, employment and professional knowledge sharing. Until early 2017, LinkedIn had an extremely utilitarian, if not Web 1.0 design, similar to sites such as Craigslist and Reddit. LinkedIn has made a bold step forward with a new interface that simplifies the user experience and reduces clutter. But does it make the social network easier to use?

As LinkedIn grew, it rolled out new features such as the ability to publish articles and discover/curate topics of interest. As it added on more features, the site became increasingly harder to use because of its unwieldy design and less-than-optimal UX. As a result, many of LinkedIn’s advanced features remained out of sight and out of mind for casual users of the social network. Simply put, LinkedIn hadn’t been especially easy to use, or navigate, for a long time.

The new LinkedIn design is much more contemporary and streamlined. The new feed where your latest updates flow in is very reminiscent of the Google+ feed. It’s dead simple and clean as it should be. The navigation menu is also greatly simplified, with all of its primary activities very apparent.

Where did everything else go? Well, you’ll want to check under the “More” tab, where LinkedIn favorite Groups now reside along with Slideshare (which is an incredible resource for business knowledge in and of itself.) Hopefully, with the new design, these features will get more play due to better placement in the site navigation. The “More” tab is also home to where LinkedIn business services now reside and are where companies can post a job and advertise to acquire customers.

LinkedIn continues to offer “Premium” services for job seekers, which is ideal for those willing to plunk down $29.99 a month, but for the underemployed or recently laid off workers, the monthly membership fees may still be too much to bear. It’d be great to see these premium services available to all users, but it seems like LinkedIn’s subscription model won’t be going away anytime soon. That said, you can usually get a free 30-day trial to their premium services, which may be sufficient if your search is a short-term one; sadly these days that’s not always the case.

If you’re like most professionals, you’re probably too busy to learn all of the nuances of the new LinkedIn site redesign. In which case, you’ll want to check out this recap of LinkedIn changes from Social Media Examiner. While it’s intended for marketers, there are probably several takeaways for most people and novice LinkedIn users.

Frida Baby Illustration

Four Dog Creative welcomes Frida Baby to our herd

We wanted to share a little something about the latest dog to join the Four Dog Creative herd, Frida. She is a min pin/chihuahua mix. We adopted her through Faithful Friends, a wonderful nonprofit animal welfare organization, here in Wilmington, Delaware.

Our art director, Kelly Carter, created this delightful illustration of Frida (formerly known as Baby, sometimes goes by Frida Baby.) Yes, that’s a dog in a martini glass! Kelly referenced a photo Frida after she had just been spayed and had to wear the cone of shame, and took some liberties.

Frida Cone

Frida has lots of energy and enthusiasm for life, which we’ve found refreshing. It has helped reinvigorate our team. Frida loves to go for walks, meet new people while she’s out and about and is especially fond of playing with her new brother, Maui.

Dogs are very much a part of who we are at Four Dog Creative. Dogs are loyal, trustworthy and offer long-lasting relationships. Those are the same values we aim for in our business relationships and are representative of who we are as a creative agency.

Maui and Frida

Backlit Keyboard

Using software to prevent sexual assault at work

By Dave McGurgan

Recode staff writer April Glaser makes a strong case for creating an anonymous reporting system that would provide victims of sexual assault at work a way to report accusations more effectively.

“Perpetrators can get away with attacking so many because often when individuals report these crimes, they are ignored or discredited … There’s strength (and credibility) in numbers, after all, but victims have few ways to connect with one another. We can fix this.”

Glaser’s vision resembles existing campus-­based reporting tools and addresses many complexities victims of sexual assault face including financial dependence on their abuser, fear of retribution, being ignored or discredited or further harassed in retaliation for reporting an incident. And it also would help employers and HR managers investigate accusations, review evidence and identify if other events have occurred.

“There are stories like the Brock Turner case and others in the media that make it very clear that the system is just not there to support survivors,” says Riddhi Mukhopadhyay, the director of Sexual Violence Legal Services at the YWCA. Online organizing could make prosecutions easier. “When it’s ‘he said, she said, she said, she said’ and multiple victims are willing to testify,” Mukhopadhyay says, “it can really help the case move through the criminal justice system.”

How Simple Software Could Help Prevent Sexual Assault [April Glaser, Wired]

Prince

What Prince taught us about relationships, creativity and being an artist

By Dave McGurgan

This March 2014 interview with Prince caught our attention because the enigmatic artist and entertainer rarely gave up information about himself. In this candid conversation with Arsenio Hall, Prince shares several interesting insights that for us, relate to our approach to marketing, creativity and what it means to be an artist.

>> On relationships

“The first person to contact me when I came back to late night was this man, to congratulate me and to say he will be here, save me a night. Thank you, dude, you’ve always been a good friend.” – Arsenio Hall

What it means: This small interaction speaks volumes about the importance of relationships and relationship building. Prince had no obligation to call Arsenio and congratulate him on his new gig, let alone offer to appear on his show and in a gesture of kindness, support his friend’s new work endeavor.

Our take: Relationships are one of the most valuable things you can spend your time developing. Sound relationships last for years, if not for life, and continue to grow and produce new opportunities. These relationships often help lay the foundations of successful businesses as well help individuals in their professional lives. That’s why at Four Dog Creative, we spend so much time building relationships, networking and sharing knowledge. The return on investment is often significant.

Prince Icon

>> On committing to life as an artist

“When I was 16, I was completely broke and needed to go get a job, so I got the Yellow Pages out and I couldn’t find one thing that I wanted to do. So I decided I was going to push as hard as I could to be a musician and went at it, you know?”

What it means: Prince’s response conveys how sincerely and deeply he committed himself to pursuing a life as an artist. It also demonstrates the intense focus that is required to become an outstanding creative. Prince recognized his strengths as a musician and entertainer and doubled down on them, even though there was no guarantee of financial success. He worked extremely hard at becoming the best he could become.

And like other eclectic artists, such as Miles Davis, Prince rarely looked in the rear-view mirror; he preferred to grow and explore as an artist. Prince worked to build a life where he was able to create the art that he ultimately wanted to make, on his terms, even if it meant at times, potentially alienating fans and the record labels that released his music.

Prince Icon

>> ON Teaching

“I think I’d want to teach in some capacity.” As much as I’d like to teach, I also like to learn.”

Our take: This is straight-up knowledge sharing. It’s one of the most powerful things that individuals and organizations can do. At Four Dog Creative, we spend a lot of time meeting with leaders from other marketing agencies to share information and insights. It leads to mutually-beneficial relationships and reinforces why we feel so strongly about collaboration over competition. It also supports lifelong learning. Along with time and money, one of the most valuable currencies is knowledge.

What it means: For brands and organizations marketing themselves online, sharing knowledge to succeed has become almost non-negotiable these days. Often when people go online, they’re looking for answers to their questions and solutions to their problems. By providing value and offering solutions, brands are building can leverage knowledge sharing to deepen relationships with their customers and audiences.

Prince Icon

> On the Internet

“It’s a double-edged sword. A lot of artists aren’t getting paid full scale for their art. And the Internet, because of downloading and things like that, it’s kind of like a black hole and it’s hard to audit, it’s hard to get accounting. It’s not that it’s just about the money, but it’s about justice and fairness. And when people say that they love you and they respect you, but at the same time take, you know, eighty percent of your earnings, then expect you to fix your own communities. That’s the sharp part of the sword and we’re at the wrong end of it right now. Eventually, with courageous people going out there and saying something, and standing up for it, I think we’ll get some balance.”

What it means: As creatives and artists, it can sometimes be a challenge to get properly compensated for your work and art. It may also be a challenge to get others to recognize the value of the work that creatives and artists produce, even for artists whose work is widely distributed, consumed and appreciated.

Our take: As creatives and artists, we have devoted a lot of time practicing and learning our craft. And we are also continually developing our skills and refining the quality of our work. The investment of time and energy that we’ve put into our art is massive. Creativity can take years to develop and refine.

Artists and creatives need to keep reminding themselves of the sacrifices they’ve made to become good at their craft and become fluent in conveying the value proposition when they are promoting themselves and their work.

 

Marketing trends and creative to watch for in 2017

By Dave McGurgan

In 2016, we saw businesses doubling down on content marketing, brands using personalization to deepen relationships with customers, and the use of high-quality content to drive thought leadership and provide value to audiences.

We asked an eclectic mix of our favorite creatives and marketers we admire what marketing trends they’re anticipating in 2017. We also asked what projects everyone would be focusing on over the next 12 months. The responses were very inspiring and should give you some marketing trends insights as we charge into 2017.

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