Biweekly Bulletin: 5 Compelling Things You Should Know

Every other week, we share 5 timely and valuable articles from our favorite credible digital sources that will inspire and educate marketers like you.

Here’s what you should know this week:

  1. You can now protect your brand on Instagram. The social site recently announced brands can set filters for offensive comments on their business pages.
  2. A year of experimenting with digital video ads led researchers to these 3 key takeaways: experimentation leads to innovation, digital video is easy if you’re resourceful and you can defy the rules by creating your own rulebook.
  3. Currently, advertisers are spending only 1.0% on programmatic TV ad spending. That number is projected to climb to 6.0% by 2018, which means there will be more personalized TV ads than ever before.
  4. It might seem like common knowledge, but studies have found the more tailored and dynamic your email content is, the higher your email CTR will be. Aside from email, marketers are also focusing on creating personalized experiences for website visitors.
  5. Publishers will be taking a big hit from Facebook’s latest algorithm change. The social media giant plans to place more emphasis on personal updates and less on news publications. Because of that, brands should be delivering relevant content that their fans will want to comment on, like, or share with their network.

Want to learn more about how to take your digital marketing from now to next? Start the conversation with Michael Baer at 844.LC.IDEAS.

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter, for the latest in industry news, tips and inspiration. To start receiving updates from Laughlin Constable, subscribe here.

Biweekly Bulletin: 5 Compelling Things You Should Know

Every other week, we share 5 timely and valuable articles from our favorite credible digital sources that will inspire and educate marketers like you.

Here’s what you should know.

  1. We’re one step closer to omnichannel: Facebook will now be able to track in-store purchases that were driven by digital ads.
  2. According to Google, 91% of smartphone users use mobile for inspiration while they’re in the middle of a task. Therefore, the best times to target them are when they’re shopping, watching TV, or doing research on another brand.
  3. Tech giant Microsoft is buying LinkedIn for over $26 billion. Microsoft is currently mainly focused on software, so inviting LinkedIn to the party will give the company a larger reach in terms of social networking services and professional content.
  4. Finally, brands have a way to make money through Snapchat. Screenshot commerce is entering the social media world. Brands on Snapchat are testing out a method in which followers can take a screenshot of an ephemeral image with a promo code.
  5. Mobile media consumption is expanding rapidly. The amount of time that people devote to using mobile internet will increase by nearly 27.7% this year, driving a 1.4% increase in overall media consumption, according to Zenith’s latest Media Consumption Forecast.

Want to learn more about how to take your digital marketing from now to next? Start the conversation with Michael Baer at 844.LC.IDEAS.

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter, for the latest in industry news, tips and inspiration. To start receiving updates from Laughlin Constable, subscribe here.

Small Brands, Big Opportunity: Snapchat As a Customer Service Platform

The days of automated customer service calls are quickly being replaced by inventive, highly customized social customer service experiences. This shift indicates a pivot in consumer expectations: users expect their customer service questions to not only be answered promptly on social media, but also in a unique and personal way.

Thus, the new kid on the block, Snapchat has emerged as an interactive tool for immediate, personalized customer service that is unlike any other social channel. Recently, the channel unveiled a suite of new functionality that makes it easier than ever for brands to connect with their users in a personal and dynamic way. The Snapchat 2.0 update gives users the ability to make short-form video and audio notes, live voice and video calls, and add over 200 new stickers to their text chats.

This Snapchat update has been especially helpful to smaller brands, who have quickly implemented customer service practices on the app. They’re working to build relationships with their audience and connect with them through prompt responses, personalized messages and face-to-face communication.

The retail brand Everlane uses Snapchat to take their personalized customer service to the next level. Followers are encouraged to ask questions about their orders, the products and Everlane’s philanthropic practices. Through the app, Everlane’s dedicated Snapchat team addresses customers’ fashion advice, merchandise questions and quality concerns. This approach has created a unique, ultra-personalized relationship between the brand and its loyal customers.

Another early adopter of customer service through Snapchat is tech accessory company iOgrapher. This small business is able to maintain the customer influx of questions with timely, personalized video responses that effectively answer the customers’ questions and product concerns.

Snapchat offers a huge opportunity for brands to service their customers in a unique and unexpected way, but before a brand makes the jump over to Snapchat customer service, they must consider the following:

MAINTAIN YOUR CRM TRACKING

Before using Snapchat as a customer service tool, ensure you have a plan to track and manage your CRM activities. Think about how Snapchat integrates into your existing CRM tracking and management process and ensure that process evolves to accommodate customer service on Snapchat. Think about the resources you’ll need to ensure your responses are prompt and thorough.

CONSIDER YOUR AUDIENCE

Snapchat customer service is a natural move for a brand who has already established a following on Snapchat, has a target that skews toward a millennial audience, and offers a product or service that is easily serviced via social media.

PERSONALIZE THE MESSAGE

Snapchat users are a part of the “Now Generation” and want personalized content when it’s convenient for them. Snapchat makes digital face-to-face communication fun, easy and efficient. It allows users to transition from describing a problem through text to presenting the problem in a photo or video, which results in a personalized, quick solution. So, make sure your team is prepared to translate customer service best practices into short-form video, illustrations and concise text.

START SMALL, SCALE SLOWLY

As the Snapchat platform grows, the customer service requests are likely to grow along with it. Brands need to consider tone, processes and solutions before exploring the customer service experience. Consider launching a Q&A on Snapchat surrounding a specific topic to gauge your community’s response to 1-to-1 communication on the channel. For example, a brand could launch a Q&A surrounding a new product launch as a way to field new user questions and gather learnings for a broader Snapchat customer service launch.

LISTEN AND LEARN

Snapchat is a two-way communication tool that’s rich with insights throughout the social channel. Analyzing the feedback, learning from it and making improvements will result in stronger customer relations as well as increased loyalty. So, consider using common questions to inform future content and snap stories.

PROMOTE ACROSS CHANNELS

Once you’re prepared to launch Snapchat customer service, cross-promote it other social channels, being clear about what type of questions and responses you’ll accommodate on the channel.

Interested in more tips to take your marketing from now to next? Email Michael Baer or call 844.LC.IDEAS.

Sign up for our newsletter, for the latest industry news, tips and inspiration. To start receiving updates from Laughlin Constable, subscribe here.

8 Key Takeaways from the 2016 Digital Summit

Digital-Summit_Logo_Resized-1

The 4th annual Digital Summit, sponsored by Laughlin Constable and the Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University, took place on Thursday, February 25, 2016. The daylong conference brought marketers and college students together to learn and discuss the newest trends in the digital landscape. Speakers from companies across the country provided key insights into how digital is the ultimate game changer in the marketing landscape.

Here are our main takeaways from the 2016 Digital Summit.

1. Technology has enhanced the perpetual importance of storytelling.

A compelling story that captures an audience’s attention has the power to make consumers listen to your brand. The many ways we tell stories have evolved immensely over time, thanks to innovative technology that has changed how consumers search for and digest stories.

Dan Williams, Midwest Sales Director at Spotify, expressed this concept with the emergence of the Streaming Revolution. Millennials are “soundtracking” their lives and curating playlists for specific moments or activities. For example, there are over 40,000 active “Shower” playlists on Spotify, averaging over 550,000 streams per day. Brands that strategically tap into these precise moments and weave their story with the consumer’s story will be reap the benefits of user loyalty and advocacy.

Laura Markewicz, VP of Digital Strategy at Laughlin Constable, touched on major technological advances, both historical and recent, that have changed the way stories are communicated. However, while technology changes, the power of a good story does not. As marketers, we must never stop using new technology to continue to tell stories and create experiences people love.

2. Meet your customers where they are searching.

Today’s rapidly evolving technology has introduced new media for consumers to search for anything at any given moment.

Joe Veverka, Search Insights Manager and Melissa O’Brien, Account Executive from Microsoft stressed why marketers should begin to consider the significant impact that mobile personal assistants such as Microsoft’s Cortana, Google Now and Apple’s Siri are making on paid search and digital advertising. Veverka and O’Brien emphasized that marketers should be adapting their pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns for voice search by using question words in certain keywords, such as “how,” “why” and “what.”

Veverka and O’Brien also explained that by 2018, Cortana is predicted to be the primary personal assistant for one billion Windows 10 powered devices. As mobile personal assistants continue to change the way consumers search through mobile devices, marketers must continue to adapt their paid and organic search strategies to optimize the reach and relevance of their content through this new search medium.

3. Stay authentic.

Now more than ever, it is crucial for brands to evolve with the quickly changing digital landscape, but stay true to their roots at the same time. Whether brands stay faithful to their heritage, are transparent at every consumer touchpoint or give back to the community, being authentic is the key to earning respect among brands’ target audiences.

Brad Heidemann, CEO of Tahzoo, defined the Experience Economy, where people value brands based on the experiences they have during their interactions with them, as the new market in which brands must compete to provide the most valued experience.

Patrick O’Brien, CEO of Paris Presents Incorporated, expressed the same idea with the Real Techniques brand partnership with Sam and Nic Chapman, two makeup artists and sisters from the United Kingdom, selected by Paris Presents Incorporated for their genuine interest in educating women on makeup tips. In their makeup tutorial videos, the Chapman sisters often use other makeup brush brands, allowing them to keep their audience’s trust and provide an authentic online experience with honest reviews, thereby growing their popularity and credibility as experts.

4. Dare to be different.

How can brands truly differentiate themselves and cut through the noise in their industries?

Laura Markewicz challenged her audience to pay close attention to what the competition was doing and find ways to do the opposite. For example, when other airlines charged their passengers more for tickets, luggage and assigned seats, Southwest Airlines took an entirely opposite approach. They chose to focus their whole brand around the customer experience. Southwest passengers have the liberty to choose wherever they would like on the plane and check their bags for free. As a result, brands like Southwest Airlines found competitive advantage through an entirely different approach than its competition.

When marketers choose to stop making minuscule changes, and instead strategically shift their approach to differentiate from the rest of the industry, the reward is often worth the risk.

5. Plan for your brand’s future.

As the digital universe grows, the potential disruptions in the future will have major implications for marketers. Instead of avoiding these major innovations, marketers must adjust and react to keep their brand competitive.

As Mark Carlson, EVP of Strategic Planning at Laughlin Constable stated, “If you hate change, you’re really going to hate irrelevance.” As technology evolves, marketers cannot afford to wait for the next big change, because if they do, they’ll fall behind.

With the example of Facebook’s new “reaction” buttons allowing for different expressions online (e.g., love, haha, yay, wow, sad, angry), Carlson discussed how marketers will have to continuously monitor how Facebook’s new reaction buttons will evolve what these human, everyday emotions mean in a social media context. In short, the brands that analyze, predict and adjust to changing digital consumer behaviors will triumph.

6. Experience is the most valuable currency.

Customer experience (CX), as defined by Augie Ray, Director of Research at Gartner, is more than just customer service. It’s about providing value beyond your product or service, and ultimately making your consumer feel better, safer and more powerful.

An example of a brand with superior customer experience is the ride-sharing company Uber. From its founding, the renowned and beloved brand found a way to disrupt the transportation industry by providing a ride to the user’s location when he or she wants it, making both riders and drivers feel secure and empowered with ratings and reviews accessible to both parties. This innovative concept disrupted a stagnant taxicab industry that was in dire need of innovation.

Overall, marketers must place value in each interaction a consumer has with their brand, and work to make every experience one to remember.

7. Connect with your customers in the moments that matter.

Google’s La’Naeschia O’Rear, Matt Eschert and Marisa D’Amelio discussed how mobile is now a behavior, not just a technology. On average, people check their phone 150 times, or 177 minutes, a day. These instances of needs-based mobile moments are opportunities for marketers to capture mobile users at their moment of need or want.

An example of this is how YouTube has become a hub for influencers to reach consumers with useful, interesting content that provides value and answers their needs-based moments, in the moment, from any device. Brands like Lowes leverage YouTube to empower DIY enthusiasts to complete home renovation projects on their own.

Marketers must identify these micro-moments where consumers are looking for support during their needs-based moments, and support them with the content they need.

8. Think like a human, not like a marketer.

Marketers have a tendency to focus on selling products and gaining profit instead of delighting their customers.

Erin Ulicki, VP of Sales at Okanjo, provided key tips for reaching consumers through native commerce, or serving up shoppable ads that correspond with the content of the article or webpage. Putting themselves in the customers’ shoes can give marketers insight into how delivering the right message at the right time in the right place is crucial to delivering a superior customer experience.

Laura Markewicz proved this point further by rewinding back to the first banner ad ever, created by AT&T, which had a 44% click-through rate. Over the past two decades, marketers have ruined digital banner advertising through oversaturation, with today’s benchmark CTR at only .07%.

Despite evolving technologies and online consumer behaviors, marketers must be the customer champion by always keeping their consumers’ best interests at the forefront of every marketing effort.

5 Ways to Build a Brand on Instagram

 

5 Ways to Build a Brand on Instagram

 

With a community of over 400 million, Instagram has evolved into a social media channel with an incredibly large reach and a unique visual approach, making it the perfect platform for your brand to tell a cohesive and engaging story.

We’re sharing 5 ways to build a brand on Instagram based on our experiences on the platform, especially those learned in the past six months of strategizing, concepting and creating social content for global beauty brands EcoTools and Real Techniques.


5

 

Distraction lives everywhere on social media, so stand out by following these rules. Instagram is filled with the best visual content creators so, invest in production. Shoot custom social photography with proper lighting and composition. With good lighting, you’ll be surprised how fantastic even your iPhone shots look. Also, keep an eye on industry and platform trends. For EcoTools and Real Techniques, we are constantly monitoring beauty trends and how people talk about them. Lastly, use creative testing to hone in on the ideal copy and imagery styles. We spent six months testing the ideal content formula. And what was it? We were surprised to find it wasn’t shots of made-up faces or fashion. Instead, it was simple, beautiful shots of our makeup brushes. Go figure.  

 

4

 

Big or small, if your community is passionate about your products they will talk about it in social. And just as we create content to mirror various Instagram styles, your community will begin to mirror yours. So, feature that content and inspire them to create content on your brand’s behalf. We’ve seen the time and effort put into our EcoTools and Real Techniques Instagram pay off tenfold in impressions and engagement in the form of beautiful user-generated content (UGC), from simple brush photography to professionally lit vanities.

To do this, first, empower your community of content creators. We’ve found that the EcoTools and Real Techniques communities are eager to showcase their creativity and expertise. We ask them to share their photos, tips and expertise for a chance to be featured on our page. And, the UGC floods in.

Then, make sure you’re listening. Monitor your brand hashtags and mentions, looking for creative content creators. However, efficiency is crucial when you’re sifting through loads of great content. We use Olapic, which helps us to easily gather and organize UGC, tag products and ultimately make these photos shoppable — connecting users with the products featured in the photos.

 

3

 

Of all of the images you’ve seen today, can you recall one that visually inspired you? You only have a second (or less) to grab a user and leave them feeling something. So don’t post any images on your brand’s Instagram that don’t live up to your brand’s and community’s expectations.

Of course there are no “rules” in the social media game. But here are some numbers we pulled from our friends at Curalate.

  • Images with high lightness generate 24% more likes than dark images.
  • Less saturated images receive 18% more likes than their more vibrant counterparts.
  • Images with a high amount of background space generate 29% more likes than those without.
  • Images dominated by a single dominant color generate 17% more likes than images with multiple dominant colors.
  • Images with high levels of texture generate 79% more likes than those without.

Note: These numbers were for brands across the board, not just beauty brands.

 

2

 

So you’ve built an Instagram strategy and are now developing great content and building your community. Now what? Expand your reach and increase your engagement by diving into the world of Instagram advertising. Brands are now able to tap all of Facebook’s robust targeting capabilities and launch Instagram ads through the Facebook Ad platform. Advertisers can target based on interests and demographics, as well as custom audiences generated from email lists and site tracking pixels. And with creative options like slideshows and carousel ads, Instagram advertising is a chance to get even more creative with your content.

For EcoTools, we focus on ads optimized for both engagement and clicks. Our results prove that Instagram is not only an engagement channel, but can also drive site conversions and direct sales, as well.

 

1

 

No matter how well you’re doing on the platform, you have to listen constantly to your community and adapt to them – THEY are your brand’s ambassadors. Stay up on the latest trends, keep a pulse of what’s popular and research what’s performing well. And it might seem like a no-brainer, but if a user has a question or concern, answer it in a timely manner, because community management is this generation’s customer service.

For example, we quickly learned how passionate the EcoTools community was about cruelty-free beauty, with frequent questions flowing in about the products featured in our photos. So, we made sure that every cosmetic product featured, even in our UGC content is cruelty-free. Now, month-over-month, we see our engagement continue to trend upward.

 

updated conclusion

 

Although we’ve highlighted the top factors, there are many others that will come into play as you lead your brand on to Instagram greatness. If that seems like a scary step, or if you feel like your brand needs a little more help, give us a call. Start the conversation with Michael Baer at 844.LC.IDEAS.

Our monthly newsletters outline what’s next in our advertising world – and by opting in, you’ll be the first to know. To start receiving updates from Laughlin Constable, subscribe here.

 

THE TOP 10 MOMENTS OF #PRSMS

This blog post is brought to you by Anna, Isaac, Maura and Sandy, members of our Social Media + Content Integration team.

We attended the 2014 Insight Summit Series PR + Social Media Summit, held at Marquette University on 10.7.14. There were many moments that made this year’s event special, but here are our top ten favorites:

  1. Brands using Reddit – Reddit is one of the most self-aware websites on the Internet, and summit attendees had a chance to learn how brands can leverage it from Reddit’s Director of Communications Victoria Taylor. Did you know that over 500 subreddits are created each day? How is your brand jumping into the conversation?
  2. Making social media more social – Social media and Public Relations should always be at the forefront of planning a campaign. They are the humanizing elements of any advertising or marketing strategy, and should never be an afterthought.
  3. Engagement isn’t enough – The engagement rate of most tweets is lower than the engagement rate of banner ads. This doesn’t mean Twitter isn’t useful – brands need to find their voice and use social media in a way that truly connects with their audience, not just as another advertising tool.
  4. Listen + Join the Conversation Organically – Real time human engagement is one of the many cool factors of Reddit. However, it’s important to be sure that you aren’t butting into conversations. Listen first, then engage in conversations organically (and when appropriate) to make the biggest impact.
  5. Capture the Human Element – What if your brand were a human? What is your brand’s personality? Social platforms allow brand personalities to shine, so be sure yours is a likeable one. Think of an online conversation as a conversation you would want to have during happy hour.
  6. Have a Brand With Purpose – Brands with purpose drive engagement. While Facebook’s organic reach is dramatically decreasing, the best way to stay relevant is to give people a brand to care about. Be in the right vertical and have a good product.
  7. Give Your Brand a Voice or Others Will – Facebook has over 1.32 billion people logging in per day. Giving your brand a positive voice on the social platform is more important now than ever before. Don’t let others give it a negative voice.
  8. Ello, Goodbye – Facebook’s Associate Manager, Genevieve Grdina, addressed fledgling competitor Ello, and its seemingly meteoric rise. Ello prides itself on being the ad-free anti-Facebook, but Grdina pointed out that all social platforms eventually need a monetization strategy to survive, and that Ello is not a long-term threat. Facebook is continuously working to improve the quality and relevance of the ads that keep Facebook a free service.
  9. Social + the CMO – Augie Ray questioned whether social media still has a place in today’s integrated marketing strategy without strong conversion metrics to justify media spend. Social media might not lead to direct sales or conversions, but it excels at fostering brand awareness and interpersonal customer communication. It’s also a great way for smaller brands with smaller budgets to reach and gain new customers.
  10. Facebook Reach Potential – Capture your target audience with quality posts, not quantity. Back quality with ad dollars, precise targeting, and posts could reach 90-95% of people that should see it and interact with it.

 

Laughlin Constable is the title sponsor for the 3rd annual Digital Advertising Summit, which will be held at Marquette University on Wednesday, March 18, 2015. Topics will include digital advertising, analytics, ecommerce, content strategy, design and development, loyalty, mobile, brand planning, user experience, the latest in digital marketing trends, and more.

Social Media | Governor’s Small Business Summit

I was recently asked by long-time client, Travel Wisconsin to put together a breakout session on social media for the 2014 Governor’s Small Business Summit. A social media breakout session is always a tall order because inevitably you have an audience that spans novice to expert. Unknowingly, I found myself approaching the deck through Aristotle’s three methods of persuasion: ethos, pathos and logos. (Tangential history lesson: Some 2,400 years after Aristotle’s death, these principles are still the backbone of oral and written communication.) Plainly defined:

  • Ethos: An appeal to the authority or credibility of the presenter
  • Pathos: An appeal to the audience’s emotions
  • Logos: An appeal to the audience’s logic

Every summer from age 16 into my college years I worked at my father’s lawn and landscape company answering phones and processing. I was able to see the inner workings of a small business and relied on this anecdote to establish credibility alongside my 6+ years of experience working in social media for Laughlin Constable.

I kicked things off with a simple premise: Customers are far from rational. Most people lack the motivation, time, or information to make a purchase decision based on function alone, so they rely on other factors, factors they might not even be consciously aware of: emotions. For example someone might feel safe in a Volvo, energetic while drinking a Coke or excited in a BMW. At the end of the day people are emotional creatures and therein lies the benefit of social media: a relationship building tool.

Let me tell you, humans as irrational creatures wasn’t a tough sell on a crowd of small business owners, but to appeal to logic I shared a few compelling stats laddering into the question of “Why Social Media?”

  • 53% of consumers report that they will purchase a brand’s product or services after following them on Facebook
  • 47% of consumers are more likely to visit a brand’s website and 35% are more likely to buy from a brand after following them on Twitter
  • 21% of Pinterest users have purchased something they found on the site

With the stage set I took the audience though Laughlin’s 3-step approach to social media strategy: plan, build and engage. We talked content creation, channel management, reporting, social advertising and beyond. At the end of the day I was reminded of the need for agencies to ruthlessly simplify. Put it into laymen’s terms. Provide a visual. Read the room and rely on your principles of persuasion.

LC_SocialMediaProcess_Overview

Sources: Twitter, The Next Web, Gallup

LC Brings Home 14 PRSA Paragon Awards + Prestigious Best in Show Award!

Congratulations to the Laughlin Constable public relations and social teams for another successful year at the Southeastern Wisconsin PRSA Paragon Awards, including Best of Show for the second consecutive year!

The Paragon Awards honor exceptional PR work by local professionals who implement effective, innovative and strategic communications for their clients. The LC PR team brought home 14 awards, including eight Awards of Excellence and six Awards of Merit. In addition, LC’s Travel Wisconsin PR team brought home the prestigious Best in Show award. This reinforces the fact that the LC Full Circle team includes an incredibly strong PR department.

Awards included:

Best in Show and Excellence
2013 Wisconsin Department of Tourism PR Campaign

Awards of Excellence
What’s Happening at the BMO Harris Bradley Center?
Promoting Travel Wisconsin with Jordy Nelson on Social Media
Introducing a Game Changer – Hard Rock Kenosha (Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin)
Travel Wisconsin Goes Hollywood
Keeping Trees Safe from Emerald Ash Borer (Arborjet)
Lung Cancer Alliance USPSTF Campaign
Travel Wisconsin’s Email Newsletter Redesign

Awards of Merit
Airplane! the Commercial Poster
Holiday Surprises from McDonald’s
Travel Wisconsin’s “Sweaterize Yourself” Facebook App
Introduction of U.S. Cranberries to South Korea
Jordy Nelson Learns There’s No Place Like Wisconsin in the Fall
Travel Wisconsin’s 2013 Press Kit

While this is a Southeastern Wisconsin group, the competition is tough. Below is a sampling of some of the many positive comments from the Florida-based judges:

  • “This was simply and outstanding effort, work and results.”
  • “It is hard to find any areas to suggest for improvement. It was expertly thought out, planned, implemented and followed through.”
  • “The out of the box thinking with small investment lead to great results.”
  • “Incredibly creative tactic. No wonder Wisconsin has LC doing its PR.”

Kudos to the entire PR team for another year of hard work and great results, and thanks to the social folks for their award winning work as well!

240 Films from 44 Countries in 15 Days: Milwaukee Film Festival 2013

Here at Laughlin Constable, our passion for innovative ideas and outstanding creative extends far beyond our doors. As sponsors and champions of the Milwaukee Film Festival, we are proud to support one of the most important cultural events in Milwaukee – no other occasion celebrates creativity, imagination, and art with such enthusiasm. Alongside other Milwaukee advertising agencies like Bader Rutter and BVK, specifically Sara Meaney, Development Co-Chair for the Milwaukee Film Festival, we’ll be jumping in with both feet and exploring the diverse range of experiences this year’s festivities have to offer.

Opening Night Party + Red Carpet Experience: The festival kicks off on Thursday, September 26th with Break Up Man (Schlussmacher), a comedy blockbuster named best German film of the year. Catch the film at the Oriental Theatre, and then head to Discovery World to get down with the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble and local DJs. Also enjoy drinks, food, and lots of prizes. Not swanky enough for your taste? LC is also sponsoring the exclusive Red Carpet Experience, featuring star treatment, VIP access to a private area of the museum, an open bar, and silent auction benefitting Milwaukee Film.

Cream City Cinema: This showcase of local filmmakers’ work culminates in a yearlong Filmmaker-In-Residence prize awarded to the jury winner. Say you saw them before they blew up – our city’s concentration of filmmaking talent is going places.

Milwaukee Music + Music Documentaries: To contribute to an even lusher multi-sensory experience, musical documentaries are now their own film category – Sound Vision. Plus, the festival’s official live music series, Soundtrack at The Hotel Foster, features live local music every night of the festival – free with a festival pass or ticket stub from the night’s screenings.

For a full list of program categories, click here >> http://bit.ly/180JjbW

For a complete festival lineup, click here >> http://bit.ly/18rJWNP

We’ll be tweeting throughout the festival and live-tweeting the Opening Night events. Join the conversation by tweeting #MFF2013 and share your thoughts on what you see (but wait until the show is over to break out your cell phone).

Why film? Like advertising, cinema is an art form that has the unique ability to impact audiences in almost unlimited ways. Both mediums employ boundless creativity in order to provide entertainment, spark conversations, inspire ideas, and communicate emotions.

The experience of film is at once collective and personal, communal and introspective, social and private. Before the invention of Netflix and before Blu-ray players were even a twinkle in the home entertainment industry’s eye, going to the movies was a necessarily shared experience. Today, we’re seeing cinema come full-circle – it’s never been easier to enjoy, share, experience and discuss films with communities near and far than it is right now. You can see this happening with your own eyes at the Milwaukee Film Festival – a community of film-lovers coming together to experience something great.

Join us for over two weeks of film – we’ll be sure to save you a good seat.

Beware people who tell you what they think. Trust people who tell you what they know.

In a previous post about personal growth for brands, I referenced the book The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. We can investigate the third agreement, “don’t make assumptions” by answering the following question: Why do we make assumptions in the first place? 

 

A1: False Confidence.

Assumptions are often made on the foundation of a false confidence. We may have a false confidence if we previously worked on a similar brand, client, or project. Yes, we may know some truths about the audience, product, brand, or culture – which can help us relate – but we cannot make assumptions about the business, marketing, or communication objectives, until we have accurate, current information about this brand, client, or project.

Solution: Put previous knowledge and experience on the back burner and get current and accurate info.

 

A2: Misperception.

Missing details can cause misperception. That’s the danger of assumptions.  When we are confused sometimes we just fill in the blanks ourselves. We need to fill in the blanks by asking questions.  We need to get the details and information. Then we can fill in the blanks with the correct answers. We get rid of confusion.

Solution: Fill in the blanks by asking questions.

 

A3: Changing variables.

Assumptions work when the variables are consistent. We live in an age where variables that change daily are changing slowly.  Double-check the realities each time. Objectives may have changed. Market dynamics may have shifted. New trends have an impact.

Solution: Verify the factors that could impact your objective first.

 

When we don’t make assumptions, it means we are asking questions and listening.

When we are asking questions and listening, it means we are filling in the blanks with the correct answers.

When we are filling in the blanks with the correct answers, we set ourselves up to achieve our objective.