Here’s a rather ‘insightful’ look on the contentious subject of what makes a good insight. I particularly like the refrigerator analogy!
Here’s a helpful online reminder of the main points to consider when marketing for mobile devices. It’s been developed and lovingly put together by Mike Phillips, a fab Planner who works in my team at TMW. If you get time, it’s worth reading the slideshare presentation as well as it provides further substantiation and illustrative examples behind each commandment. Nice work @imjustmike.
As a planner I get asked to facilitate quite a few workshops so I thought I’d share some handy tips on how I approach them. There are whole books devoted to the subject so one blog post will hardly do it justice but I’m hoping you might find some value in what I’ve learned over the years.
Outlined below is a simple framework I’ve developed which I believe distills the key elements which goes into running a productive workshop.
Stating the bleeding obvious here but without setting clear objectives from the outset one will never have a productive workshop. So it’s essential to spend time defining exactly what you want to get out of the workshop and then making sure this gets agreed with the client sponsor.
Perhaps less apparent is the need to set realistic objectives. I’m sure we’ve all sat in workshops where some agenda items have had to get scrapped because the facilitator has run out of time. So set realistic objectives rather than try to be overly ambitious!
Developing a workshop theme
Not everyone will subscribe to this idea but I think it really helps to devise a theme for the workshop. If it’s directly linked to the subject area of the workshop it can help to frame the problem and galvanise everyone around a common purpose. But equally, you can theme a workshop around something more frivolous. For example, I did a client workshop earlier this week around a Halloween theme. You may think this may have detracted from the importance of the meeting but in fact it helped to lighten proceedings, get people in a positive frame of mind from the outset and helped to hang disparate agenda items together.
Establishing workshop inputs
The mantra ‘the more you put into something, the more you get out of it’ certainly rings true when it comes to workshops. So preparation is key. It’s also worth setting homework or pre-tasks to get participants familiarising themselves with the problem in advance of the workshop. This is also the time to invite other participants to come equipped with presentations or contributions to stimulate discussion.
Defining the agenda
How you structure the day, allot enough time to presentations / debate whilst scheduling time for breaks and practical exercises all need careful thought. Personally I always start by outlining the objectives for the workshop and the key tangible outputs I want to deliver as a group. And also a suitably ice-breaker to get everyone relaxed and contributing to the forum from the outset. If you can link this ice-breaker to the theme of the workshop in some way, all the better. So for the Halloween workshop, I asked everyone to tell me the scariest thing they’ve ever experienced!
Roles and responsibilities
You may be the facilitator but that doesn’t mean you have to do all the work! You can delegate note-taking and timekeeping to someone else and presentations can come from anyone, even a guest speaker to add a fresh perspective to the topic in hand. Your job is to facilitate, not to dominate discussion or provide all the answers!
Likewise, the host is not always the same as the facilitator so make sure you give them a role in the proceedings so that they retain some sense of ownership, whether that’s welcoming everyone and running through the agenda or wrapping up the workshop with key conclusions and next steps.
Choosing the right venue and creating the best environment for a productive session is equally important. So think about whether you want everyone seated around a boardroom table, split into groups or arranged in a semi circle. Make sure you have enough flip charts, pens, post-it notes and pads. And most important of all, work out how you are going to capture the outputs from the day, whether that’s writing up on flipcharts, sticking things on wall charts or populating pre-designed templates etc.
If you have a theme, now’s the time to decorate the venue to bring the theme to life. For my Halloween workshop we could obviously go to town a bit on the decor but it also meant we could theme some of the workshop stimulus materials. So instead of having boards for the different workstreams assigned to this project I re-labelled them ‘Workscreams’ 🙂
There’s a whole array of facilitation techniques which you can employ to stimulate discussion and debate as well as keep energy levels high – far too many to mention here in fact. But the ones I tend to use (in no particular order) include ice-breakers, task setting, break out sessions, energy-boosting exercises, mind mapping and voting/ranking ideas as a collective group to name but a few.
The final piece of the jigsaw is defining the tangible outputs you want from the session. It’s no good just having ‘next steps’. These need to be clearly defined outputs which directly link back to your workshop objectives. So it may be securing agreement on a particular issue, a list of actions which need to be addressed at the next session, clearly defined personas for a particular web project, 3 strategic territories to explore creatively, a strategic roadmap and so on…
So that’s about it. Hope that’s been helpful. I’ve probably only scraped the surface on this subject so by all means add a comment if you’ve got any more pointers or suggestions.
Here’s a useful reminder by McKinsey of the value strategic leaders can bring to a company. Whilst the article is geared more towards business leaders/CEOs there are a lot of similarities for account planners. Providing leadership and direction, representing the voice of reason, seeing strategy through to execution, constant reassessment and invention…these are all key attributes or skills which planners need to emulate in order to add value and provide strategic leadership.
The Marketer (The Chartered Institute of Marketing magazine) has solicited some top tips from various industry bods on how to produce infectious viral content. These are briefly summarised below but read the full article if you want more meat on the bones. Also you might even spot a top tip from me!
2. Get emotional
3. Be brave
4. Strike the right tone
5. Talent plus timing plus luck
10. New platforms
If you’re responsible for fan engagement on Facebook, read this report by Buddy Media now! It’s a statistical study based on all the rich data Buddy Media have at their disposal, so if you need evidence or insights to help improve engagement strategies on your wall, this is a great place to start. These are some of the questions it aims to answer with some revealing results:
- What is the optimal length of a post?
- What is the impact of URL shorteners?
- When is the best time of day to post?
- What is the best day to post content (by industry sector)?
- How should open-ended questions be constructed to solicit the best response?
- What keyword phraseology gets the best results for promotions or action-orientated posts?
You may have the answers to these types of questions already having conducted your own analysis but if not, read on!