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May 2013 archive

Agile Marketing Primer Web Seminar Recap

Rapid, scalable, flexible, collaborative: words that all marketers strive for to achieve real-world success in their creative process. And beyond the marketing world, business leaders everywhere are realizing that the new economic paradigm rewards speed, flexibility, and response to change.

If you’ve read The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, you know how FAST economic disruptions now move through the world economy. Some disruptions are flashes in the pan. Others bring about marketplace revolutions that none of us have the tools to entirely predict, or even catch early indicators regarding the direction they will take. So in the face of this reality, marketers need to look at work values, principles, and processes that enable the nimbleness required to “catch a black swan”. In search of practices which enable this success, creative leaders in marketing fields are looking to their brethren in another profession which is high-stakes and project-based: software development. They are finding that the foundational values (and the practices associated with them) of highly successful software development philosophies such as Agile can also be leveraged to bring speed, quality, and flexibility to processes which yield fantastic creative.

This is Agile Creativity: the fusing of the software world’s Agile values with the creative initiatives of marketing. In this web seminar, JT discussed in detail the core values of Agile work, then looked at the practices and principles being implementing to fuse marketing needs with those values. The outcome is a powerful structure for quickly bringing ideas to life, rapidly developing iterations that increase quality, and incorporating feedback and input earlier in the creative process.

Interested in more intensive Agile Marketing Training? Check out our Agile Marketing Boot Camp for more info!

How to Effectively Use Hashtags

One of the more impressive re-brandings is that of the pound sign. Very few people still refer to the tic-tac-toe board look-a-like by its pre-Twitter name, especially the younger generation. No, to us, this symbol is a “hashtag.”

Popularized by Twitter, the hashtag’s goal is to bond various social media users together with common topics. They serve as links to online conversations and can be ascribed to any subject imaginable, ranging from the ever-popular #thingsIdontlike to the more business-related #socialmedia. LinkedIn already allows the use of hashtags, and Facebook is rumored to start as well. Last year, someone even named their kid “hashtag” — well I guess in her case, it’s the capitalized “Hashtag.” (more…)

ASPE to Host “Google Plus And Your Social Media Strategy” Lunch Event

ASPE is hosting a new event, “Google Plus And Your Social Media Strategy” on June 11.  The event is through Triangle Interactive Marketing Association (TIMA) and at this time is open exclusively to TIMA members free of charge with a free lunch included. The event will become open to everyone ($10 for non-members) on a space-available basis a week before the event.

The event will be lead by Jon Parks, the Lead Dijital Strategist at Dijital Farm. Jon is currently an instructor for ASPE and teaches Google Online Marketing Boot Camp and Social Media Boot Camp. He has over 14 years of professional experience and focuses on helping his students solve issues in their careers as well as providing them with the tools and insights to come up with solutions of their own.

Jon wishes to display how Google Plus is one of the most engaging social networks today, despite many marketers still being on the fence about it. He also wants to show participants how to integrate Google Plus into their social media and content marketing strategies.

Google Now: Upping the Mobile Search Ante

This blog was originally posted on

We’ve known for some time that mobile search is a crucial part of strengthening any web presence, but with the introduction of Google Now businesses will see their mobile search efforts interjected in even more exciting (and beneficial) ways than ever before.

Page Suggestions (more…)

Agile Marketing Roadmaps

by Katie Cothran, ROI Product Manager – ASPE, Inc.

John Mardlin, an Agile marketer based in Victoria, British Columbia, recently wrote a guest blog post for Agile Marketing about the importance of keeping roadmaps while practicing Agile marketing. In the post he discusses why Agile marketing is more than just efficiency, it’s also being able to measure the effectiveness of your marketing projects, and to do that, you need a roadmap.

His post includes valuable advice about:

  • Why you need a roadmap
  • Who should maintain the roadmap
  • What an Agile marketing roadmap looks like
  • Getting the most out of your roadmap

The Agile Marketing blog is maintained by ASPE-ROI course developer, Jim Ewel. His course, Agile Marketing Boot Camp, is a two-day course that teaches students how to apply Agile methods, including how to use roadmaps, to marketing strategy. During the class, students learn to get more done, adapt to change and see measurable results immediately using Agile marketing.

4 Featured Apps and Tools You May Not Have Heard Of

by Katie Cothran, ASPE-ROI Product Manager – ASPE, Inc.

In the past few months I’ve heard about quite a few tools, gadgets or apps while I’ve been at conferences or events and wanted to learn more about them. Here are four interesting and new (to me) tools that deal with social media, mobile marketing, online advertising and analytics:

  1. Uber is an on-demand car service that has apps for iPhone and Android. It started in San Francisco in 2011 and has spread to more than 20 cities worldwide. It allows you to request a ride and see where your potential drivers are currently located on a map. Once you set your pickup location, a driver is dispatched and you receive a notification letting you know the estimated arrival time. (more…)

How to Handle Negative Facebook Comments

by Katie Cothran, ROI Product Manager – ASPE, Inc.

There are a lot of opinions about how to manage a company’s Facebook fan page – what to post, how often to post, how to get new likes and increase shares, which employee is responsible for posts, etc. But one of the most critical facets of managing a Facebook company page is timely monitoring and appropriately responding.

There are several companies who have handled negative commentary brilliantly, and unfortunately more that have seen debacles. There are also a few that have to deal with fans and group members attacking each other. Here are two opposite examples of those situations, followed by a few guidelines about how to handle negative Facebook comments.  (more…)

Industry Specific Social Media

Should You Join?

Imagine (or reminisce) for a second that you’re in charge of social media for your organization.

After updating your Facebook page, you head over to Twitter and thank a few people for following you. You Instagram a photo of smiling employees, link to a few industry-relevant articles on LinkedIn, and begin drafting a script for the next YouTube video. Pinterest? Well, you pinned a few things last week, so you’re good there. After all of this, you go through and check the endless stream of analytics.

But despite all of this work, you still feel as if you’re not doing enough. You keep reading about how you should join Google+ because it’s the way of the future, and then there’s this new Snapchat thing.

Additionally, if you’re like most social media gurus, social media isn’t your only responsibility. You probably also have to worry about research, budgeting, strategy and a host of other tasks. Oh, and did I mention blogging? (more…)

Web Seminar Recap: Core Professional Skills: a 60-Minute Primer

In the business world, we hear a lot about technology and disruption, and their many challenges. But we’re also starting to hear more about pitfalls related to the human side of business…gaps in the “soft skills” that are equally critical to successful people and companies. Although many of these skills gaps are nothing new, they are more relevant than ever, and in some cases have been made worse by disruption. Without core professional skills like communication, initiative, leadership, and etiquette, no team can be truly great and no professional can be truly successful. You probably deal with the consequences of “soft skill” deficits every day: communication breakdown, misunderstanding, conflict, and damaged morale – just to name a few.

On May 14, 2013, PMP, Chris Knotts took a look at some of the most common “people problems” in the mainstream business world, and how we can start dealing with them.  In this free one hour seminar he explained that these are productivity killers, and the root causes are broad. There are rising cross-generational differences, a growing lack of interpersonal skills, differences in personality and culture, and erosion in consensus about what constitutes professional behavior. The good news is that there are teachable skills to address these challenges, and accessible techniques to overcome them.

Chris covered multiple topics including

  • How to communicate effectively
  • Overcoming generational and cultural barriers
  • Leveraging emotional intelligence in the business environment
  • Encouraging self-awareness while building a team mentality
  • Keeping action and culture tied to productivity

Although these needs aren’t new in the business world, even seasoned veterans are beginning to see the need for a “reloaded” approach to developing these skills.  Chris gave a high-level conversation about how to navigate these soft skills as we face continuing changes in business landscapes and a rising new generation of professionals.

To learn more about mastering the framework of successful project management or to learn to manage communication, planning, budgets and more, check out our 2 day course The Fundamentals of Project Management. This course stresses the role of all project documentation as part of a communications strategy that proves all stakeholders with the information they need.

 Remaining Q&A:

“What about the old adage ‘Communication breaks down 50% when separated by distance greater than 100 feet?’”

In terms of the obvious, the first and literal answer would be that just in a physical sense, let’s say you have two human beings standing out in an open field, communicating through speech. 100 feet is about the right amount of distance for two people shouting at each other to start having difficulty understanding each other.

But secondly, there’s the more meaningful way to look at this question. What does distance really mean to communication? To answer this question, the first thing you have to look at is the fact that when we communicate, the meaning of our words is transmitted in a number of ways. In other words, when we speak to someone we don’t simply use words. We use facial expressions, body language, and inflection of voice. Today, it is well-understood that these aspects of spoken language carry huge portions of the meaning and intention behind our words. In fact, it has been well-established that the words themselves only carry as little as 7-10% of the real intention behind a message.

That means that the moment you’re not in the same room, communicating face to face, you’ve taken a hit in how effectively you can transmit your idea. But obviously, we face these situations all the time, since everybody knows you can’t rally round to the conference room and have a meeting every single time you need to communicate.

So, what to do? Let’s take a page from the world of project management. Project managers are taught that a crude ranking of meaning transmitted by different aspects of face-to-face interaction breaks down like this (see the work of Albert Mehrabian):

  1. Words: 7%
  2. Tone of voice/inflection: 38%
  3. Body language: 55%
  4. All three work together and rely on each other (separation, and/or emotional content will result in the intention and the message being incongruous to some degree).

Why Sales People Fail

Are the right people in the right positions for sales?

Having a quality sales force in place is essential to the success of most businesses. As with most employers, there are always a few employees who just don’t fit the position they are attempting to fill. And in some cases, people who are a good fit can fail as well depending on the circumstances. But why do sales people fail? I believe that these are some of the primary reasons:

  • Poor job fit. The person is just not cut out to sell. Let’s face it, not everyone can do this kind of work. No sense trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.
  • Poor management. Since sales managers are responsible for hiring, training and overseeing sales people, it is logical that they would have a significant influence on a sales person’s career. More often than not, sales managers do a poor job of hiring people who are cut out to sell. Just because a person is outgoing does not mean that person will be a good sales person.
  • Laziness. Selling requires hard work and long hours. Some people are just not willing to put in the time necessary to travel, complete paper work, plan, follow up on problems and issues and develop relationships. Field sales people working less than, say, 60 hours per week are probably not going to be highly effective. Many sales people work 50, 60 and even 70 hour weeks. Most poor sales people put in far fewer hours. Selling is hard work and requires long hours to do it right.  (more…)