Get Connected. Your Customers Expect It.

Meet Taylor. Her fancy for high fashion has had her seeking online retail therapy for the majority of her 23 years. Dying to don the latest trend-setting little black dress, Taylor clicks – impulsively adding this stunner to her favorite online retailer’s shopping cart. Her mind starts to fill with visions of her flaunting the piece at her best friend’s New Year’s Eve party when she suddenly remembers she’s low on cash until her next payday.

Like most her age, Taylor goes about her day driving through the digital space. At each turn she is reminded of this fabulous frock; Facebook retargeting, delightful email reminders, banner ads. Payday arrives and the LBD is finally hers. After completing a survey and becoming a Facebook “Like,” Taylor now receives frequent discounts and engaging content focused on her fashion-forward lifestyle. Let the loyalty games begin!

Nikesh Arora, SVP and Chief Business Officer at Google, recently stated, “There is reasonable probability that in the next five years, half of all advertising will occur online.” It is also projected that over the next five years, CMOs will be involved in IT more than CIOs. Online shopping is becoming the preferred method for many consumers across generations, whether it is on desktop browsers, mobile browsers, or app-based storefronts and thus, digital marketing budgets are expected to continue to grow considerably in 2014. Today, they are already averaging 30% of overall media spend.

The challenge? Not all marketing executives, media planners, analytics experts, or IT managers have the tools and actionable data they need to make informed decisions about how to utilize their budgets. More importantly, marketers get why tying these marketing channels together in real-time is valuable, but making it happen seems like an insurmountable and very expensive proposition. Companies need to focus on being omnipresent; in other words, the brand should appear in all the right channels at all the right moments throughout the customer decision journey. Customer engagement isn’t just a “nice-to-have” in today’s ever-changing world. Customer engagement is a “must-have.” Customers expect their voices to be heard anywhere at any time, and then receive an accurate, personal, pleasing response as quickly as possible.

The good news for our industry is that it is continually on the rise. Laughlin Constable has worked with hundreds of brands throughout the decades, guiding them through these challenges. Our agency has helped our clients create smarter strategies and enable real-time, omnichannel marketing that is already leading to improved engagement, conversion and loyalty. More great products, solutions and case studies are on the way; so stay tuned, or should we say, stay connected!

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Stephanie Schrandt

Bigger isn’t always better. A holiday season challenge.

This time of year is known for grand gestures, expensive gifts, glitz and glitter, but is that really what the holidays are all about? Your schedule is probably jam packed with parties, gift exchanges and weekends at the mall.  Don’t get me wrong, mine is too, but I also try to take a step back, be thankful and do what I can to extend kindness to others.

As a new parent, I find myself very aware of other people and their actions. Wondering if they realize that they just let a door slam in someone’s face or that they didn’t make eye contact with someone ringing them up at a store because they were on their phone.

It’s important to not let yourself get into the rut of feeling like you can’t give enough to make a difference so you don’t give at all. So, this is your challenge should you choose to accept it.

I challenge you to do a good deed every single day this month. The only catch is that is has to be something you wouldn’t typically do. If you always hold doors for people that doesn’t count. If you’re the person who hugs everyone – find something else.

The point is really to remember that regardless of your beliefs or holiday traditions, you can make a difference in someone’s life. Every single day. And trust me when I say, if you make the effort, the reward is huge. Oh, and don’t feel like you have to stop at the end of December. Kindness is welcome all year round.

Need a little help? Here are some ideas to get you started.

  •  Compliment a stranger
  • Open a door for someone pushing a stroller (trust me on this one)
  • Buy the coffee for the person behind you at Starbucks
  • Send a card to a friend you haven’t seen in a while (Not an email. Go to the store. Buy a card. Find a stamp and mail it.)
  • Offer to help a friend with a project they are working on
  • Pick up the tab when out to lunch with a friend
  • Take the dog for a walk, in the snow, when it’s freezing cold (pets deserve kindness too)
  • Leave a note for or send a text to someone you love saying you hope they have a great day
  • Bring breakfast into the office
  • Give a hug (or an extra one) to someone who needs it
  • If you live in a snowy climate, shovel your neighbors’ sidewalk after you’re done with yours

And now some more traditional ones….

  • Give a few extra dollars to the folks ringing the bells outside of stores
  • Donate to your favorite charity
  • Volunteer at a local food pantry or soup kitchen
  • Volunteer to distribute gifts/sing carols at a local hospital or nursing home

 

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Anna Curtis

Bring Your Parents To Work Day

During the frequent phone calls with my mom, she inevitably asks the million-dollar question: “What are you up to at work these days?”

Working in social media at an advertising agency makes this question exceptionally tough to answer. I could show her my timesheets and she could sift through the job numbers. She could listen to me go on about Facebook insights, promoted posts and captivating content. But I usually give her my shortened version of the answer, “Oh you know, just writing Tweets and stuff.”

My mom has no idea what I do for a living.

And with today’s ever-evolving career choices, 35% of parents surveyed also don’t know what their child does for a living. So I am thrilled that Laughlin Constable is participating in its first-ever ‘Bring Your Parents To Work Day’ on Thursday, November 7. It’s an opportunity for parents of LC employees to see firsthand what their child does on a day-to-day basis.

Laughlin Constable prides itself on being a great place to work, winning numerous awards for workplace excellence and flexibility, a positive reflection on our employees’ work/life balance. Inviting parents into the office allows LC to open its doors and connect with families, while also showing appreciation and gratitude for parents who have raised children to be hardworking members of the LC family.

And as anyone working in the industry knows, advertising is all about teamwork. Nothing would get accomplished without a team of employees working together to develop and create a successful campaign. A family is no different. It too is a team that works together to accomplish goals and create positive outcomes. This similarity between an agency and family life fosters an environment of support, success and balance in the office and at home.

I am grateful that my mom will have the opportunity to not only see what I do at work, but also see the talented professionals I am lucky enough to work with every day.

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Ilana R. Borzak

Strategy. Discuss.

I was assigned to a project with people I had never worked with before. We met around a conference table, made some introductions, and began assigning responsibilities. Nothing was out of the ordinary except I started noticing that nearly everyone’s role, no matter the person’s official title, included “strategy.” And it meant something different for each person.  By the end of the meeting, I had heard so many uses of “strategy” that I no longer understood its meaning.

I’ve since had time and space to recognize the thread that everyone’s “strategy” shared. It was the process of taking disparate information and condensing it into a goal. Within this definition, “strategy” adds depth and intelligence to a project, no matter its industry.  A strategic HR Professional uses “strategy”  to understand an existing team’s personalities and recruit employees with skills that will bring the team’s capabilities to the next level. A strategic mother understands the values she wants to instill in her child and plans a life around them to ensure it.

“Strategy,” according to the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary is “a careful plan or method for achieving a particular goal usually over a long period of time.” It is a necessary preparation for success and thus tempting to overuse it. Unfortunately the word loses meaning when overextended, and its value diminishes.

A solution is to strive to define one’s “strategy.”  I challenge myself and others to take a break from the term. Next time I catch myself using the word, I’m going to define it and help others and myself understand the work I do.

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Casey Flanagan

The Final Word

It’s the last thing said. The ultimate decision. The period on the proverbial sentence.

The final word was once perceived to be of great value. It was not just a signal of power, but often the result of hard fought victory.

But in a world of increasing complexity and continuous improvement, that’s no longer the case. And while everything is changing, it’s all archived and searchable. So comments can be made and perspective can be added days, months, even years later. Nothing is really ever “done.” Ideas evolve. Contexts change. Conversations rekindle.

There is no final word. Finality is just a foundation for what’s next. A transition to the next stage, the next conversation, the next idea.

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Casey Flanagan

Fast, Cheap and Good

The old axiom used to be “fast, cheap or good – pick two.” But expectations change. And in this age of rapid prototyping, agile start-ups and minimal viable products, the “or” has turned – more and more – to an “and.”

Fast and cheap on their own are often – at best – a race to the middle. But fast AND a commitment to continuous improvement? That’s how new opportunities are discovered. Being cheap AND then seeing if further investment is warranted? That’s an investment in innovation.

The AND is incremental, iterative… and often overlooked. And the AND is what the Good is dependent on.

On not settling. On committing to better. On understanding that the definition of good today is not the same as good tomorrow. And so the deliverable is either good enough for now – and only now. Or good enough to continue to invest time and / or money in.

Bursts of fast and bursts of cheap can even lead past good, to great. As long as everyone is clear that “Fast, Cheap and Good” is not the destination, it’s the journey. And the most important word is AND.

Interested in more stuff I find interesting? Follow me @casey_flanagan on Twitter.

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Lydia Eichner

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.

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Casey Flanagan

Where To Start With What To Say

Our available attention is being stretched. And yet we all seem to have more to say. As a result, lines can be crossed. Meanings can be missed. And it’s not likely to get better any time soon.

Tom Peters has an important rule for communications at a time when success can seem harder than ever: If there is a miscommunication, it’s your fault.

Think about that for a moment. Please, because I don’t want any potential misunderstanding of it to be my fault.

How would this change what you say? How would it change how you say it? As a person? As a professional? As a brand?

One simple change that most communicators could stand to make immediately is where they start.

My favorite definition of communication is: It isn’t what you say. It’s what your audience hears. The illustration below isn’t complicated. But it is often forgotten. And it is a big cause of many miscommunications.

Where to start with what to say? Not with what should be said. But with what should be heard.

Interested in more stuff I find interesting? Follow me @casey_flanagan on Twitter.

Where to Start Communicating

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Casey Flanagan

What To Learn From: Pixar

Pixar is a creative powerhouse. Its fourteen feature films have earned 27 Academy Awards, seven Golden Globe Awards, and 11 Grammy Awards.

But for all of its innovation – and its related refusal to accept the status quo – Pixar has an important relationship with reality. Its approach depends on its ability to create a world that is recognizable, but different. Expectedly unexpected.

And two quotes from Pixar directors – taken together – paint a smart, productive approach that any company could learn from:

“I believe in research. You can’t do enough research, believability comes out of what’s real.”
– John Lasseter (Cars)

“We don’t want to reproduce reality; we want to make the unbelievable believable.”
– Brad Bird (Incredibles)

Most companies do research in order to understand. And that’s a good thing. Understanding allows marketers to make things relevant. But relevance has a dark side. Make something too relevant and it becomes expected. Or worse, invisible.

Pixar’s approach is successful, in part, because it doesn’t settle on reality. Understanding the world is a first step to diverging from it.

You have to know the rules in order to break them.

Interested in more stuff I find interesting? Follow me @casey_flanagan on Twitter.

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Casey Flanagan

Q and A

A recent tweet from @COVRTER – “Having good answers is much easier than having good questions” – got me thinking.

We’re surrounded by data. Connected to an endless stream of resources. And swimming in a sea of answers. What does this mean for the relationship between As and Qs? And what’s the true value of each?

The scientist is not a person who gives the right answers, he’s one who asks the right questions.
Claude Levi-Strauss, the father of modern anthropology

My greatest strength as a consultant is to be ignorant and ask a few questions.
Peter Drucker, business thinker, consultant and author

We suffer no shortage of quantity of answers. But the quality – at least the consistent quality – is in decline.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Better questions lead to better answers. As such, the importance of questions has never been greater.

So if the answer is eluding you, it may be worth stepping all the way back to the original question. Questions are not one-dimensional calls-for-response. Instead, they should both frame the situation and focus it appropriately.

Bottom line: If you happen to be in a situation where the answer isn’t apparent, maybe you just haven’t asked the right question yet.

Interested in more stuff I find interesting? Follow me @casey_flanagan on Twitter.

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