Chris Richards

marketing | branding | tech | startups

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Think Like a Dog: Building a Better Newsletter


We all know that dogs love to please their owners by following commands. Sit! Stay! Roll-over! Go fetch! These commands are never more than a couple words, and their meanings are clear and distinct. Dogs listen and look for commands that are easy to follow, and most will happily obey if there’s a reward involved. This got me wondering, as marketing is such a “command-driven” industry, what can we learn by thinking like a dog? Ultimately it comes down to clarity of communication. When building email newsletters or campaigns, always make one thing clear: the call to action. Now, read!

Fighting for AttentionAsk yourself - why are we sending this?

 Okay, so maybe it’s insulting to compare a human to a pooch in terms of attention and comprehension, but increasingly people are embracing the mantra of multi-tasking, for better or worse. Not too different than a dog that’s easily distracted, people online are jumping from page to page, tab to tab, chat to chat, and email to email. Every piece of content is fighting for attention, and your email is just one fraction of it.

With multi-tasking and attention spans in mind, smart companies are building and optimizing email to stand out in a crowded space and achieve their goals. Just take a quick browse through Really Good Emails and you’ll see what I’m talking about. This curated list shows off the kind of emails that catch a reader’s attention, emails that have been built with a conscious purpose behind them, with the design and messaging to convey it.

grand st email design

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Whose brand is it anyway?

With shows like Mad Men romanticizing the lifestyle of the ad industry, brands and the processes that go into creating them have been pushed to the forefront of pop culture. Even more telling of our current infatuation with brands is the growth of brand loyalist generations in millenials, Gen Y and Gen Z. Check Instagram’s top photos and you’re bound to find dozens of consumers showing-off the latest brand name clothes, shoes, and fashion accessories to thousands of followers. Brands are everywhere. They exist to please and serve us. But, that leaves me wondering: is a brand only what the Mad Men tell us it is? Or is it something more? And, who actually owns a brand?

A company’s brand: the look, feel, and message it conveys, has always been essential to its overall success. But, what is it that takes a traditionally “good looking” brand and elevates it to something more? And what is it that makes some theoretically great looking brands fail so miserably? The answer: the brand users.

Tim Hill, in Branding Magazine, describes this notion as the definitive concept of the third age of branding. He says, “This third age of branding puts the human firmly front and centre in determining a brand’s real-time equity. We are the people that enable those global superbrands to shine, and we allow those who fail to deliver to fall into irrelevance.”

Along the same lines, in his definitive novel The Brand Gap, Marty Neumeiers goes on to dispel some important myths about what current-day branding is not, and why business owners should pay particular attention to their end users.

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Chromecast: A Modern Media Consumer’s Dream

A while back when Google’s Chromecast was announced, I didn’t immediately understand it’s purpose. Fast forward to now, and I couldn’t more highly recommend any gadget for the price. Should you buy one too? Without hesitation.

Chromecast HDMI dongle

In case you haven’t noticed, TV these days is terrible. Even with hundreds of cable channels, there’s rarely anything on worth watching when you want to watch. With Chromecast, I’ve exponentially increased my viewing options, and the reality has only just sunken in. Things like full National Geographic documentaries are now at my fingertips, ready to cast right onto the TV in full HD. With so much content on YouTube, this $35 device literally opened up a new world of watching, and I find myself using it more and more.

It may seem silly and lazy, but the way this little “dongle” immediately turns on – it automatically switches to its  input as soon as you tell it to cast a video – just totally improves the experience of online video watching. And it’s amazing how much more enjoyable watching something on the TV is compared to the confines of a small laptop of phone screen.

Chromecasting National Geographic in HD for Free!

Better yet, it makes the experiencing of finding a video or something to watch a more social experience. The way someone else can grab control and “cast” their own content up onto the screen, makes searching for/finding videos an activity in its own right.

Does the device still have some flaws? Of course, the full-screen tab casting could be greatly improved, but so far the app experience (YouTube and Netflix) has been nearly flawless. But like the Chromebook, I can’t wait to see how this gadget gets updated. With time, it’s bound to become an even more useful component in the modern media consumer’s arsenal.