3 lessons your business can learn from the World Cup: And no, it’s not just about teamwork…

Designer and apprentice, Connor Pink, explains how you can take lessons from the World Cup and turn them into business advantages…

Expectations vs Reality

One of the biggest talking points in the World Cup 2018 is the guild between expectations put on teams and the reality of their performances. Two of the most notable examples of this so far are Germany and Argentina. Both were, in many people books, favourites to win the tournament. After all, Germany were the holders and had a strong squad while Argentina have the attacking brilliance of Messi, Aguero, Dybala and many more. But both struggled in the group stage and Germany are out. Argentina had to pull it out of the bag in the final game, with rumours that their coach is bound to be sacked after the competition.

A Section of Argentina’s World Cup 2018 squad

Section of Argentina’s squad

Toni Kroos, Mesut Ozil and Mats Hummels in Germany’s World Cup 2018 home kit

Toni Kroos, Mesut Ozil and Mats Hummels in Germany’s home kit

Now you may be thinking, what does this have to do with my business? Good question! In any business — including our own —you can’t set your expectations too high without setting yourself up to fail like Germany this year or England’s so-called ‘golden generation’ in past World Cups.

 

On the other hand, you don’t want to set your too low or other people involved — especially clients — will think you don’t believe in yourself. Not only that but you may lose potential investors as they may think there isn’t a good enough chance of a return or prospects who may be hesitant signing a contract with you. Additionally, there isn’t much satisfaction in achieving goals that aren’t realistic.

 

At The Means, we have had this satisfaction of setting goals and beating them, one of which is securing clients we can be proud to work with. We set a goal for new clients that we wanted in a particular time frame and we managed to beat it. Personally, I have set goals for my apprenticeship, for example, wanting a particular score in an exam or learning a new skill. Yes, I haven’t always hit them but it’s been really satisfying when I have.

Making the most of teamwork

Another major lesson that can be taken from the World Cup 2018 is the use of teamwork to achieve or even over-achieve. Two of the biggest examples in this tournament alone have been the host nation Russia and the previous winners Germany, Russia for all the right reasons and Germany for all the wrong ones.

 

Russia have surprised many people around the world, coming into the tournament as one of the lowest ranked teams competing. They managed to beat Saudi Arabia 5-0 and continued in good form through the group only losing to Uruguay. They used their teamwork to overcome the skill of one man particular— Mo Salah— who Egypt had hoped would pull their team through. The problem was he wasn’t fit for the first game and went missing in the second. The rest of the team just weren’t working well enough together to overcome their opponents.

 

Russia’s line-up in a recent friendly before World Cup 2018

Russia’s line-up in a recent friendly

Mo Salah celebrating a goal

Mo Salah, the main man for Egypt

Germany’s match against Mexico highlighted two vastly different approaches. Germany thought they were in control, but were just a bunch of individuals trying to attack whenever they could. Mexico worked as a team, soaked up pressure, counterattacked and exploited the spaces Germany left.

Mexico’s line-up in a recent World Cup 2018 game

Mexico’s line-up in a recent World Cup game

Some Germany players gathering for a free kick

Germany didn’t play like a team during Russia 2018

Utilising teamwork to achieve more than you thought was possible applies to any successful business out there. For us, when someone is struggling to come up with a creative idea for a project, we work as a team to create a solution — through brainstorming — or simply provide support with a break or a cup of tea. We’ve also learned new strategies to cope with stress thanks to our clients at The Walnut Tree Health and Wellbeing, which we’ll cover in an upcoming blog.

Training

The final point is the benefit of training: Every footballer does it but even in business it’s important not to see training as something you do for the sake of it. You have to determine what kind of training will be most effective.

 

Like a football team, you need to organise a range of training exercises: Ones that reinforce your strengths, ones that improve your strengths and ones that reduce your weaknesses. A good football example is set pieces: If your opponent has a short team and you have some decent height then you should put extra training into this area, as it could be a really good method to scoring. But that can’t come at the expense of continuing to train around formation, your plans for attacking, defensive structure and other aspects like fitness.

 

The same can be said about business: Improve on what you’re good at but don’t neglect other people’s weaknesses. For example, we produce a lot of blogging content for clients but realise that our experience in journalism and video production can give us an advantage over agencies that just have content writers. We’ll also work with freelancers in area’s where our team can be strengthened.

 

Training is especially important to The Means when it comes to my apprenticeship. I am learning skills in areas that I would have previously considered weaknesses and improving every day.

 

And while The Means is more like Iceland or Nigeria than Brazil or Spain right now, we take this lesson from tournaments like the World Cup: A small team that works together, focuses on improving its skills and understands its opponents can score a surprising amount of goals.

 

If you’ve got a project that you want to get over the line or goals that remain unscored, contact us today for a free, no obligation chat about how we can help — hello@themeans.rocks

Want to hire a creativity agency? Pick one that also has passion projects…

Rosanna Elliott explains how making our own creative endeavours helps us deliver better ideas to our clients.

creative ideas marketing

We aren’t allowed to draw on our office walls, but if we were…

The Means Agency was founded to do creative work. We know that commercial contracts will always be the bread and butter of our business, but we also love building our own things too.

Rather than being entirely separate things, we find that the commercial and the self-generate work feed into each other. Our efforts in one area help us perform even better in the other. Here’s how:

They generate transferable energy and skills

creative ideas transferable skills

When was the last time you thought of an old timey lightbulb?

Our self-generated projects and the ideas we make a reality for commercial clients have a lot in common. While the latter requires us to deliver to a brief and the clients’s vision, the benefit of working with us is our creativity. Our clients come to us for imaginative ideas executed dynamically.

Take blog posts for example: Our background in writing scripts for theatre, film projects and TV pilots allows us to write in a wide-range of registers. The voice we write in for our clients is theirs, not ours. But we are able to use analogies, humour and design in a way that best presents their products, thinking and charm.

In turn, the habits that client work hones and refines – such as professional discipline, detailed planning, and project focus – are invaluable to ensuring that our self-generated projects move from ideas to reality.

It’s all too easy to get carried away with a personally exciting creative project and overlook the practicalities of completing it effectively. That becomes much less of a danger when you take a business-minded approach. We temper creative ambitions with an awareness of commercial and logistical realities.

Self-generated funding

funding creative commercial

Those are old pound coins. We don’t want those.

 

Usually with a self-generated project — whether it’s staging a play, publishing a poetry book, or putting on an arts event — you need to invest more than time. You need cash. The question is where does that money come from?

At The Means, a proportion of the revenue drawn from our commercial projects flows into our self-generated output, whether that’s our forthcoming Coffee House Theatre project or upcoming publications.

This model means that our own creative projects are owned entirely by us and our partners.

Financially sustainable creative freedom is an ideal situation for any creator, and it’s our goal to expand and enhance that idea as we grow.

If you’d like us to apply our creative minds to your company’s toughest challenges, get in touch at hello@themeans.rocks. You can also follow us on twitter @readthemeans.

Get a grip: what climbing (and an unexpected marriage proposal) can teach you about great marketing

Bouldering. It’s indoor climbing with crash mats but without a harness. Sounds tough, right? Well so is creating great campaigns. Here’s how not to fall flat on your face, according to CMO, Emily Jarvis.

woman climbing

My Twitter followers know all too well that I’ve been bouldering (or, climbing) for two years. You’ll see me making my ascent at Highball most weekends. Around the same time, my professional career moved from publishing into marketing.

Turns out, this was no coincidence.

The two have a lot more in common than you think.

Here’s five ways to find your balance and deal with the daily grind of creative challenges coming your way — with added climbing-based puns and slang thrown-in.

1. Offering marketing advice is no different to giving Beta to strangers

Beta: Beta means information about a climb. In rock climbing this may include a climb’s difficulty, crux, style, length, quality of rock, ease to protect, required equipment, and specific information about hand or foot holds.

man climbing boulder

You want people to read your stuff, right?

Half right. You want people to read your stuff and engage with your brand.

It doesn’t matter how many people help you to hone your writing technique or strategy along the way. It’s about results.

The Means Agency helps you to get these results. We want to see you do well (and we hope you also want to see us do well in return).

Whether it’s just advice on a piece of content or an existing strategy, I am a big fan of taking out the red pen and talking through the ways to get even better results.  

I call it Emily’s “Consultancy Beta”.

2. Follow your route to the finish

indoor bouldering

Creating a marketing strategy that goes off without a hitch doesn’t exist. Your market is super competitive, there’s assorted challenges and sometimes roadblocks in the way that you have to deal with before you reach your goal. And that’s before you’ve taken into account the key performance indicators (KPIs) and stakeholder targets you have to meet.

The route to the top can be full of micro-challenges that take additional time and learning to complete. Keep a grip on the task at hand and stay focused.

Once you match both hands on that final hold all of this only makes the mental reward of completing such a feat much greater.

3. Strength doesn’t always prevail over technique

…The same applies to your marketing strategy. Your own tenacity doesn’t prevail over experience.

The more times you complete point #2, the more you learn from your mistakes. You identify the parts of your campaign that worked and those that needed improving. You analyse the numbers and you identify ways to improve next time.

It’s a continuous cycle where you learn from your experience. But you also get a little stronger each time.

You can use this to get more ambitious, more daring with your ideas and push the limits of your skills that little bit closer to the danger zone.

via GIPHY

I once saw an avid gym-goer on his first climbing session. Much to his frustration, his muscular physique held him back. He underestimated the amount of technique required to climb. You can’t go in guns blazing and expect to succeed.

So practice, learn and apply.

4. Reaching for the goal early means you can miss important details

Being taller doesn’t necessarily make you better at climbing. It makes you lazy. You skip entire steps of your strategy.  It also uses more of your strength and leaves you less prepared for the next climb. We like to call this “the accordion approach”, as illustrated by my friend below:

Climbing a boulder

The marketing moral? These footholds are there to help your campaign succeed. You could be missing important details that make your campaign more accessible for your audience. Like only advertising your business on Twitter because it’s easier than LinkedIn. You could be cutting corners — if your audience is more engaged on LinkedIn, that’s where you should be.

I refer you back to point #3: Practice your technique, learn and apply the strength in the right places.

5. You will fall more than once, but there will be rewards

So your budget gets cut, or you lose a marketing colleague. That marketing campaign isn’t going anywhere though. This is your comeback, a chance to re-evaluate your strategy and decide on the most exciting ways to deliver it.

Even with all the planning in the world, you could still fall flat on your face. It’s how you pick yourself up that matters.

In the constant battle to achieve your targets, don’t forget to reward yourself and your team for the little things. You still carried out a campaign as a team, and that’s worth celebrating. The announcer from the MoneySupermarket ads would call it a: “workplace win”.

sprained ankle

I sprained my ankle last year while climbing and learned this the hard way. It’s the old “pick yourself back up and keep trying” routine. So I had to take an eight week break and motivate myself to pick the sport back up.

During that injury-enforced absence, something happened that I couldn’t have predicted. The personal climb of my relationship with my boyfriend reached a new height. He proposed. And I said, ‘Yes.’

Don’t get me wrong: I know the proposal is just the start of another climb, as anyone who has planned a wedding will tell you and marriage will be a whole new mountain to conquer. But I’m not climbing alone. And neither are you…

ring on finger

Want to Flash your marketing and get your Beta from The Means agency? We can help you get a foothold on your strategy and bump-up your campaigns. Have a look around our brand new website and drop us a line if you want to work with us hello@themeans.rocks.

Space pirates, Peter Thiel and Radio Free Mars: Future propaganda will be broadcast from private space stations

Mic Wright indulges in some speculative thinking to consider the consequences of private space companies on the way we will communicate in the very near future. Warning: It’s scary…

Space Pirates by Vaghauk on DeviantArt

Space Pirates by Vaghauk on DeviantArt

In 1964, Ronan O’Rahilly came up with a plan to get around the iron grip the record companies held over popular music broadcasting in the United Kingdom. He was going to become a pirate and his vessel was called Radio Caroline. For three years, it flouted the law of the UK and forced the establishment to found a radio station that would play the songs they had previously scorned. That station was born on 30 September 1967. It’s still with us – BBC Radio One.

That’s all history. The kind of cosy history that can be repackaged by Richard Curtis as a romcom – the not-so-great The Boat That Rocked. But the pirate spirit and the desire to slash the rule into pieces comes around over and over.

It was reborn again in the 80s in the thriving pirate ecosystem in London and other major cities in the UK. When you regulate media – which is inevitable – pirates always hove into view. And that’s the speculative story I want to tell you today. The story of the space pirates:

Let’s set up some conditions – billionaires are investing heavily in private space travel, the next step from private space ships is an expansion in the existing network of private satellites and, from there, a move towards private space stations and, eventually, private orbital platforms and, if terraforming comes to pass, private planets.

We won’t jump straight to the private planets today. We’ll just go as far as the private space ships heading towards the private orbital platforms. Where does the law of Earth end and the lawlessness of the void begin?

Existing international law on space covers things like collisions and who can own the moon (answer: nobody) but it doesn’t discuss what happens if a private individual creates an orbital platform. Right now, theoretically, a space station would be beyond the control of terrestrial authorities.

And that’s where the space pirates come in. How do terrestrial media regulators deal with broadcasts from beyond our atmosphere? What do you do when the next Infowars exists on a private orbital platform bankrolled by a billionaire like Peter Thiel? Can you stop that activity?

Well, maybe through sanctions on Earth but what happens when the billionaire in question decides to ditch Earth entirely? And protects their money though all kinds of blind trusts and holdings in cryptocurrencies that you’re already struggling to regulate.

Regulating what we see and hear will become ever more difficult. The descendants of Radio Caroline will be Radio Free Mars and shows broadcast from private orbital platforms that make Infowars look like the most balanced and reasonable journalism ever imagined.

The propaganda wars now will seem like brush fires compared to the raging inferno that’s coming.

Want to be better at communicating in the here and now? Hire The Means! We can help you with media training, comms campaigns and all sorts of other creative endeavours. Follow @ReadTheMeans on Twitter or email us – hello@themeans.rocks

Keep your eye on the ball: Why businesses need reinvestment and how Manchester United illustrate this perfectly

Connor Pink, Head of Design at The Means Agency, explains why no matter what size your company is, you need to constantly reinvest. Otherwise your business could suffer like Manchester United did…

Machester-United-crest-on-Manchester-United-Flag

Manchester United became the biggest club in England through reinvestment

To demonstrate my analogy, I’m going to use five key points in the last 20 years of Manchester United’s history to show how you can be one of the biggest companies in the world, and still suffer from a lack of investment.

Our story begins almost twenty years ago, in the summer of 1999. United were on a massive high, having just completed a famous treble — the Champions League, Premier league and the FA Cup. This was only a result of constant reinvestment, not only on a board/ownership level but also on a client level.

By this point the team had built up a massive fan following packing out an 55,000 thousand-seater stadium every week and using this money to develop a world famous academy and buy some of the best talents available. This created a well balanced squad with the likes of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Peter schmeichel, David Beckham and Paul Scholes.

This shows not only a good level of reinvestment, but reinvestment in the right areas. It proved that it worked, and not only with the treble of 1999. United went on to win the title in 2000 and 2001.

Sir-Alex-Furgerson-Ole-gunnar-solskjaer-with-treble

Sir Alex Ferguson and Ole Gunnar Solskjær with the treble of 1999

In September 2003, however, things started to go wrong. When Avram Glazer bought a controlling stake in Manchester United, the club was then burdened with his personal debt. Although the consequences didn’t come straight away, the problems of reinvestment came to emerge later. This is something we would never let happen to The Means, as we will always invest back into the company whether this is on a board level or on a client level.

Every time we work with a client we take great pride in producing the best return on investment.

For Manchester United, the signs of a lack of reinvestment became evident in the summer of 2009. United played an impressive attack and counter attack, won the Premier league title for a record-equalling 18th time, and reached the Champions league final. Then they sold their best player, Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid for a record £80 million pounds.

This wasn’t necessarily a problem, as your top player could be replaced if you reinvest correctly. However United didn’t do this, they made 85 million in transfers but only spent 21 million. Not only did they not invest enough money but the players they brought in were also not high enough in quality to fill the void.

Here at The Means we’d never sacrifice quality to cut costs , you’ll always get quality for your money, and the right person working on your project.

Cristiano-Ronaldo-in-front-of-Real-Madrid-logo

Cristiano Ronaldo hadn’t even reached his peak when he left United for Real Madrid in 2009

In 2013, United’s squad was ageing and past their best. The lack of reinvestment meant that the squad wasn’t being refreshed and the academy was deteriorating.

The biggest sign of trouble was Paul Scholes having to come out of retirement to help keep everything together. Despite this working out, United had no future plan to cover for Sir Alex Ferguson retiring and to help refresh this ageing squad. The result was David Moyes being made the scapegoat for the lack investment after trying to complete mission impossible.

Fast-forward to the present day and things are looking good at United. Investment is starting to reappear and the squad is looking like it has the quality to win titles again. It took a lot to get there, like the investment in José Mourinho and a budget of 296 million to spend (which is a lot higher than the 56 million received on selling players).

All this was needed to bring in world class talents like Paul Pogba, Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku. Not only this, but Jose has kept the tradition of bringing through homegrown local academy players like Scott Mctominay and Angel Gomes. This is beneficial to any company.

Young people need an opportunity to grow and become the future but won’t do it without the leadership of an experienced head.

Alexis-Sanches-Romelu-Lukaku-Anthony-Martial-Paul-Pogba-in-Manchester-United-shirt

From left to right — Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku, Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba — Proof United are reinvesting again

This is something we pride ourselves on at The Means, having that perfect balance of youth and experience. We have me, the young apprentice that can also bring skills and experiences to the team — I’m The Means version of Marcus Rashford. Then we have Mic our CEO, and Emily our CMO to give us help whenever we need it and guide us to our full potential. They’re our Michael Carrick and José Mourinho.

Have a creative project and want some help reaching the goal? Shoot us a line on hello@themeans.rocksto find out how we can help you.

Harry Potter and the wand of bad analogies: Why J.K. Rowling’s work doesn’t support the NRA or gun nuts of any kind

Mic Wright tackles the right-wing assertion that wands in J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world are the equivalent of guns in the world we live in. Yes, seriously…

Happy Potter movie poster

This is an essay about Harry Potter. It’s also an essay about idiots. Finally, it’s an essay about analogies, metaphors, the weight that these rhetorical tools can carry and the point at which they break.

Of course, you can easily argued that while the Harry Potter series, both in print and onscreen, is replete with references, allegories and lifts from other sources, its is, fundamentally, simply a set of astronomically successful young adult novels.

But Harry Potter has transcended that to become one of those cultural signifiers that is dragooned into the service of arguments that seem far from the world of wizards, witches and witchcraft, arguments that might previously have been handled without recourse to such bluntly used analogy and metaphor. However, as with the catalyst for this essay – an opinion piece in The National Review – the Harry Potter series rarely escapes being used as an analogy in the culture war debates that ricochet across Twitter and Facebook on a daily basis.

Heather Wilhelm, whose editors frame her arguments with the headline ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Balderdash’, is aggrieved by other journalists and writers reaching for Harry Potter as an inspiration for the gun control campaign which has been energised by the impressive students of Parkland.

The lede of Wilhelm’s piece splutters with mock incredulity:

“Eleven-year-old wizards with lethally dangerous wands, battling a coverup government agency: Did we even read the same books?”

The set up here is, of course, one where the notably left-wing (if centrist) J.K. Rowling has her work decontextualised as a pro-gun, libertarian rant – less J. K. Rowling and more J.K. Ayn Rand.

Reports from the BBC and CNN alongside opinion pieces in the New York Times triggered – a word I am using with as many layers of irony applied as possible – Wilhelm to write her piece, angered as she is by the notion that Potter “[motivated and mobilised] its legion of fans… to fight against the second item in the American Bill of Rights.”

And then we’re off to the races with Wilhelm’s argument built on this analogy – the wands of the Harry Potter universe are basically guns and, therefore, its fans who crave gun control in this, the real world, are stupid because they enjoy a fictional work where almost everyone in the magical world brandishes an object with the power to kill.

This is, of course, as dodgy as an out-of-date batch of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, because you can’t make a direct correlation between the way wands work in the fictional world of Hogwarts and the effect of an AR-15 or any other high-powered firearm in this, the actual real world we live in.

Wilhelm crows that:

“It’s worth remembering that Hogwarts, as an entity, was armed to the freaking teeth.”

That’s a fair point but, if the next conclusion from this utterly idiotic comparison of a fictional wizard school with arming teachers and, presumably, students in real world schools, is to suggest that guns would keep the student body safer, that’s moronic. Here’s a few reasons why:

  • Hogwarts would fail any kind of reasonable inspection by an education regulator. It employs unqualified, cruel and dangerous staff alongside its many fine educators.
  • During the Battle of Hogwarts, having an armed student body alongside armed teachers does not prevent large number of Hogwarts students from perishing.
  • Wands, unlike guns, are multi-functional devices – as capable of creation as destruction. They are also, unlike guns, registered to their owner and equipped with enchantments that allow the spells their owners recently cast to be studied.
  • Children – such as those studying at Hogwarts – are forbidden to use magic outside of the school until they reach the age of 17. There are strict laws to prevent breaches of this.
  • Beyond the age-restrictions, using the so-called Unforgivable Curses is a punishable by death and that’s not limited to the killing curse, it also covers the torture curse.
  • Magic spells, like bullets, bounce around in an unpredictable way.
  • Using wands – or even more dangerous weapons like the Dementors – does not prevent attackers, in this case the Death-eaters, from entering Hogwarts, as individuals, in small groups and finally as a whole army.
  • In the world of Harry Potter – as Wilhelm herself references in her mess of an article – a disarming spell is commonly used (“Expelliarmus!”), something for which we have no 100% effective analogue in the real world.

To support her utterly ridiculous arguments, Wilhelm quotes another moronic piece by Alex Griswold, published on the Washington Free Beacon. In it, Griswold asserts that:

“Every wizard is armed at eleven, taught to use dangerous spells, and released into a society where everyone’s packing heat and concealed carry is the norm. It’s an inspiring example the United States should strive towards. But the reader slowly discovers there is wand control in the Harry Potter universe, and that it’s racist, corrupt and selectively enforced.”

Let’s break this down:

The pervasive availability of dark magic in the Harry Potter world has led to at least two dictators that we know of – Grindelwald and Voldemort – whose rise has not been stopped by the availability of wands among the general wizard population.

Second, as I noted earlier, wands are not ‘heat’. Their use as lethal weapons is highly regulated and the killing curse is “unforgivable”.

Yes, there is racism, corruption and privilege in the Harry Potter world, they are issues which Rowling covers and deliberately introduces – however clumsily on occasions – because she clearly sees those as failures that the wizarding world needs to address. But ‘wand control’ is not the cause of these issues.

Wilhelm also lumps Harry Potter in with Animal Farm and 1984 as a kind of libertarian fable, warning against state power and suggests that the Parkland students are “[interpreting] them as an endorsement of that very thing.”

Well, no. That’s, again, foolish. What the Parkland students see in Harry Potter is a tale of students standing against a murderous ideology that sees them as dispensable. The NRA may not enjoy being compared to death-eaters but if the dark robe fits.

And as for turning Harry Potter into a clarion call to destroy government, that is stripping what is, after all, essentially a children’s story, of its nuance.

Rowling constantly illustrates that the Ministry of Magic doesn’t take the return of Voldemort seriously and that it has become a corrupt and crisis-wracked institution but she also shows that there are plenty of good people working for overall social good, from Mr Weasley to the wider Order of the Phoenix and even Dumbledore, whose strategies and plans often lead to terrible outcomes.

The Ministry, as led by corrupt or incompetent figures like Fudge, is sort of akin to the current Iranian regime – if we must insist on reaching for real world analogues for a fictional book about wizards – with hardline traditionalists in conflict with reformers. It’s also – at a push – possibly analogous to the incompetent but consistently cruel authoritarianism of the Trump administration.

I’d rather we stopped press-ganging Harry Potter into service as a platform for discussing genuine and serious political issues but if we’re going to, can we at least make the comparisons rigorous?

On even the most basic level of critical analysis, J.K. Rowling’s books and the film series they inspired do not support the rhetoric of America’s gun crazy right wingers.

And if the books have inspired the Parkland students to fight back against a political climate where the lives of their friends are acceptable collateral damage in return for stopping gun control, that’s rather a wonderful thing. J.K. Rowling should be proud of that.

Afraid your product is boring? It’s not and a good blog can help you prove that…

SaaS companies can struggle with communicating in an entertaining and informative way about their products. Rosanna Elliott explains why well written blog posts are an invaluable resource when looking to expand your reach and increase leads…

woman pretending to fall asleep

She probably went to drama school for this

We’ve worked with SaaS companies and we get it, sometimes you’re extremely proud of your product but it’s difficult to make it seem interesting to the uninitiated.

It’s not that your product is actually boring. It’s probably awesome, but SaaS products can struggle to speak for themselves.

A company blog is a great way to articulate your vision and the benefits of the product, getting people as excited about it as you are.

It can’t be any old blog though so here are a few pointers you need to bear in mind if your efforts are going to make a positive impact on your reach:

Here’s 3 ways to make sure your blog does the job:

1. Write about things people actually want to read about

So you’re blogging to extol the virtues of your product. That means every blog post you write should be hyper-focused on the intimate technical detail of your software, right?

Wrong. There’s a better model than going in with specificity and potentially alienating your audiences. If you pitch your posts to a wider crowd by starting off with a concept that strikes a chord, is relevant to current events, or otherwise piques interest you can bring in the details of your product effectively.

It’s not a trick to capture an unwilling audience, it’s a way to help your readers realize the wider relevance and benefits of your solution without a hard sell.

2. Ensure the tone is accessible

lecturer in front of blackboard

A blog post shouldn’t feel like a lecture

A blog post is not a academic paper or a technical manual. The tone should reflect this. I’m not saying that everything you write has to be trendy, dynamic, and wryly funny, but you should at least write in a clear, punchy, and engaging style.

You’ll lose a lot of readers off the bat if you fail to make your writing understandable and digestible.

Along these lines, don’t be afraid of writing about what might seem obvious to you as a SaaS expert.

You aren’t writing for the inner circle usually, in fact it’s often the case that your product users see value in your software and sell it to executives and budgetholders.

Make sure you format your blog posts in a readable way. No one likes to trawl through reams of unbroken text with no salient subheadings or illustrative images.

3. Post regularly

person looking at wrist watch

Anyone else still struggle to tell the time without the numbers?

Once your blog has a readership you don’t want to lose it by only posting sporadically. To make a significant impact, you need to be posting about 3–4 times a month; roughly once a week.

You might struggle to come up with new ideas at first, but once you get into the swing of things you’ll realize there’s always a jumping off point in tech news, current events, or product updates.

It’s simple, posting regularly makes sure that your audience stays engaged with your brand. The more write, the better (making sure you’re quality is consistent, of course). If you write it, they will come.

If you’re looking for people to really deliver on what a competent blog programme can promise, then get in touch at hello@themeans.rocks. We can help.

Growth hacking? We do it but we don’t call it that — here’s why

The Means Co-Founder and CEO, Mic Wright, takes a look at one of the most annoying buzz phrases in marketing and explains why you should be using all the tools available to you without talking like a tool at the same time…

three shovels digging soil

Growth hacking. Ninja. CEO mindset. Startup grind. The hustle — that thing you can’t knock, because Jay-Z said so. There’s a huge issue in startup culture — we don’t use the s-word to describe ourselves by the way — with terms invented to make basic things that every business should do sound cool.

The one I want to hack apart today is ‘growth hacking’. It’s become a really popular term over the past 10 years or so but it’s really just a clumsy re-badging of some evergreen concepts, painted over with a patina of guff about how ‘the internet has changed everything, my dudes.’ Well, it has but basic human desires remain pretty constant — food, drink, sex, companionship, status, money.

Here’s what extremely reliable internet encyclopaedia and home of irrational pedants, Wikipedia, has to say about ‘growth hacking’:

“Growth hacking is a process of rapid experimentation across marketing channels, product development, sales segments, and other areas of the business to identify the most efficient ways to grow a business. Growth hackers are marketers, engineers and product managers that specifically focus on building and engaging the user base of a business.[1] Growth hackers often focus on low-cost alternatives to traditional marketing, e.g. using social media, viral marketing or targeted advertising…”

Okay, look, I know you want to seem special and cool but every smart person trying to increase leads, sales or attention for a business uses these techniques now. Harnessing them doesn’t make you a ninja or a growth hacker, it puts you right in the centre of how business works.

ninja clip art

That sword looks like it could hack growth for days

Huge advertising businesses like WPP use all those tools. Just because you — like us — are working out of a small office or from a few desks in a shared space doesn’t make these techniques super-punk somehow.

We work with clients every day to harness limited resources and use them to increase sales, reach and leads. That’s fundamental to what we do. But is it ‘growth hacking’? No. Because we care about words and the way people use them. Hacking is a term that has a rich entomology.

Being a hacker involves something more than using tools to a high level or exploiting the underlying structures of systems. Applying the techniques of viral marketing is not ‘hacking’. It is just working within the limits of the system. Growth hacking is not hacking in any meaningful sense and most people who purport to do it will charge you a lot for doing very little.

hooded figure

If this is you thinking about marketing, then you’re probably doing it wrong

We call ourselves a creative agency rather than growth hackers or a marketing agency or any number of other labels for a specific reason.

I came up with the kernel of the idea for The Means because I believe our team is fundamentally creative and that’s how we solve problems for our clients — with creativity. It is not about unlocking some Konami Code for marketing, product development or producing words, pictures and video. No. It’s about being creative. And, honestly, you cannot hack that.

Do you have a problem that seems intractable? A business challenge that is breaking your brain? Contact us today and find out how we can help: @readthemeans on Twitter | hello@themeans.rockshttps://themeans.rocks

Content isn’t king, it’s a peasant: Why the c-word is a terrible label for creative work

There’s a lot of nonsense words thrown around in marketing. Rosanna Elliott argues that the term content falls into that category…

Bunch of content right here. Turnipy content.

Content. It’s everywhere. But here at The Means, we aren’t content to call our work content (yep someone actually paid me to write that). I know, I know, it seems like I take issue with everything these days, what with my very recent post on why we don’t like the s-word, but consider this:

  1. I definitely do, but that’s okay because pedantry is fun
  2. There is actually a really compelling case for scrutinising the way we’re using language

So content is clearly in our bad books. The question is why? I’ll answer that question with a question: ‘What is content?’

I’ll give you a picture break to let you think about it.

A visual representation of how I must sound so far

Ok, times up. What is content? If you said either:

A.) the things that are held or included in something

B.) the material dealt with in a speech, literary work, etc. as distinct from its form or style

Or

C.) information made available by a website or other electronic medium

Then congratulations, you’re a pro at googling the definitions of words. Sidenote: If you said that content is a warm fuzzy feeling, then….alright good one. Most importantly though hopefully you’ve noticed something.

That thing is that the word content is vague, impersonal, and indistinct.

 We don’t produce content like some sort of monstrous automated and soulless machine.

Would you want this thing writing your blog posts?

What we actually do is write articles, novels and poetry, devise and produce videos, plan events, design images, create marketing campaigns, and much more.

We put a lot into the things we create, and it’s sort of disheartening for the work we make to end up as this amorphous and throw away beast that is “content”. It’s like saying Mozart made noise.

When you come to us looking for material that will improve your brand communication, we won’t give you the sloppy promise of “content”, we’ll give you precisely what you want. Whether that’s a comprehensive social media programme, a series of blog posts, or a dynamic event.

If you have the project, we have the means to deliver it. We guarantee you’ll be content with the results. Get in touch at hello@themeans.rocks and tell us exactly what you want.

Events don’t have to be eventful: how to avoid your message getting lost in the crowd

Just because a lot of people show up to your event, it doesn’t mean it was a success. There are more important things to consider than getting people through the door…

The Invisible Persons Support Group had a record turnout this month

Festivals are fun; lights, music, thousands of people sharing an experience. But you’re not a rockstar (at least not yet), so why are you trying to fill that conference hall with people that are uninterested in your machine-learning cloud-based smoothie maker?

Don’t let your voice disappear in the rafters. It’s better to deliver your message to people that really want to listen in an environment that they’re comfortable in. Even if that means no RFID-blocking business cards. These people will become your best ambassadors and will be singing your praises for months to come.

When the atmosphere is this good they’d probably actually listen to a keynote

All anyone wanted to talk about last year was a guy named Alexander Hamilton and as far as i can tell he hasn’t done much since the 1800s. In all seriousness Lin Manuel Miranda’s musical masterpiece was everywhere, but mostly because practically no-one could get a ticket and the only thing that will make people talk about your event more than going to it, is not.

Scarcity drives interest, this has been proven time and time again with jewellery, technology and supercars. Why should an experience be any different?

Look at that face, he doesn’t even care they’re in the nosebleed seats

I’m not a student anymore, I don’t seek out large crowds of strangers to spend my weekends with. Instead I’ll invite a few friends over, have some drinks maybe even play a game or two.

Bottom line? I much prefer having a small group of people that I can interact with on a meaningful level, and events don’t have to be any different.

Just because a convention or a huge expensive event looks pretty and provides lots of fodder for your upcoming powerpoint presentation, doesn’t mean it was worth it.

You need think about what your audience will say about the brand. Will they even remember your name?

Having grand plans is all well and good but often these plans need to be scaled back at the last minute to avoid going over budget. At The Means Agency, we prefer to focus on making sure that the scale of an event is right for the intended audience. Tailor-made always fits better than off the shelf.

Let us be your tailors and create a bespoke event for you. Contact us at events@themeans.rocks. We’re sure we can get the fit just right!