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Simple case history (or study)

By Case Study, content

Case history.

After the passion blurb, try doing the case history. If you know the answer to these numbered lines you can save buckets of time and money.

 

  1. All stories start with a client who lived in a castle.
  2. One day something happened that meant they needed to act.
  3. They came to you.
  4. You listened to them from a certain discipline or set of distinctions.
  5. You took them to a place they’d never been.
  6. They discovered more opportunity there than they expected.
  7. They lived happily ever after.

 

 

The best case histories demonstrate how you used your value proposition to get them from step 4 to 5. This is a fictitious case history but it shows you the idea.

 

 

We were first approached by John Smith in the spring of 2015 and he asked us to mow his lawn.

John Smith had a vast lawn but much of the grass was patchy with extensive areas of weed.

We did an initial assessment and came to the conclusion that before we could mow it, parts of the lawn would need re-sowing.

We agreed a sowing fee and within a week both the sowing and the mowing tasks were complete.

By the summer John had a strong, healthy lawn, and decided to host his first garden party for a very long time.

He now saves over a thousand pounds a year by hosting parties in his garden rather than rented venues.

We have since created a gazebo on the front lawn and are helping him with a project to become largely self-sufficient in growing his own vegetables.

 

In the example above, patchiness is a distinction that wasn’t in the conversation before the expert made the client aware of it. Can you also see how there’s a hidden opportunity in the project, ie. enjoying your lawn with paybacks that more than pay the cost of the project?

Case histories can be much more powerful than just testimonials because the best ones have some transformative quality.

 

 

Process.

 

Your process should show how you could take a typical client or prospect from step 3 in a typical case history to step 5.  There may be up to several sub steps in your process 3 to 5. It’s a safe bet that there are more steps and more quality going in than you currently believe or know about.

 

When a client knows your process, it will help alleviate fears that you’ll be taking them for a ride. Complex and new services may have many steps which are unfamiliar to your target audience. Below is the process for a communications organization and you could write an informative paragraph on each step.

How’s my readability?

By B2B, content, Link, Uncategorized, What's out there now

https://www.webfx.com/tools/read-able/check.php


There are a number of machine readability widgets online. They make for quite a satisfying way to check the before and after of a piece of text you might be editing. Reds are bad, greens are good. The report on the left was for the URL of a law firm. The report on the right is the the readability index of the copycourse site. Why make life difficult for your readers?

 
Test Readability

Observations and Insights

By Communication theory, content, Contract theory, Uncategorized

What’s the difference between an observation and an insight? Insights are generally based on observations but they go further. They’re generally unexpected, and they have real value to the reader.

They often require joining some dots and give an ah ha moment to the person who discovers them or is told them for the first time. They are often the product of asking the question “why?”

People generally read text for insights but they want to be able to see that the observations are there to back those insights up.

Story change and communication

By Communication theory, content, Story, Strategy, Uncategorized

From zero to hero. The classic log line for a Hollywood storyline. Why? because there’s lots of change implicit in zeros becoming heros. A perfect example of this would be the log-line for Down and Out in Beverly Hills. Where the filthy rich meet the dirty poor. You can almost see that there will be change for both the two main characters. Without change there can be no story and without story there’s no communication. These three things go together and if you’re going to understand any one of them you need to understand them all.

Another way of looking at this is by investigating what happens when there’s no change. And by that we also mean no change in expectation. If you were to try to build a story around visiting a vending machine: You go to the a vending machine in some big building.

You select, say a Kit Kat, put your money in, and a Kit Kat duly drops onto the tray. Well, there’s no possible story that can come out of that because in no way has any expectation been thwarted or confounded. However, if a Kit Kat didn’t drop down, but something much more unexpected did, say a packet of class A drugs, you have the beginnings of a storyline.

Write the driving test report

By Communications craft, content, Report

All you have to do is pick one of these Mr Men characters and imagine you’re going to take him on a test in one of the vehicles.

Your role is the chief driving examiner and also licensing authority for whatever vehicle they’re getting tested in. Decide what they do on their test, and report what happened, so their suitability can be assessed.

Tom picked Mr Fussy and the Ice Cream van, but you’re free to pick any combination at all. All that we ask is that you produce something clear simple and well structured. You can use the following template if it helps.

Context

What has prompted this report?

Problem

What is the question or problem your report needs to address?

Observations

What actually did you notice on this test? (see observations)

Exposure

What are the possible consequences of these observations?

Insight

When you ask why the observations occurred, what answers come to light? The result probing the root cause of something usually generates an insight.

Recommendations

What do you recommend the licensing authority and does or withholds from the individual?

Starting with a story

By Communication theory, Communications craft, content, Funny, Thought leadership, Uncategorized, What's out there now


Masters of story don’t start with a simple fact or assertion, they weave a story that does the same thing.
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks could have begun his speech by simply saying something like “all faiths have similarities, but they also have interesting differences.”
That would have been a perfectly coherent way to start a speech at an interfaith dinner. But by starting with a story that demonstrates the same thing, he does so much more than assert a first beat.
He demonstrates mastery of the story form, establishes his own character as a player at Government level, and also brings some laughs to the room. But the story is always in the service of demonstrating the first beat of the rest of his speech.

The Apple five P’s

By B2B, Communications craft, content, Link, Mission statement, Tone

Apple comes up so often in brand conversations, it’s easy to forget how many different elements work so coherently in its brand mix. So here then are the five P’s outlined.
Purpose and philosophy, personality and positioning, proposition, product and price point.
Okay, there are more than 5, but there’s plenty of overlap. The purpose and philosophy for Apple is the aim to be creatively disruptive.
Steve Jobs gave us many clues about this. From his early experience with calligraphy, in the days when typography and computing simply didn’t go together, one of his major creative disruptions to the industry was to make sure that they did. More disruptive messaging was to follow; When the computing world seemed to be at peak IBM architecture, he launched an explicitly disruptive message in the famous Apple Super Bowl ad for 1984. Here, a dystopian superpower, an embodiment of the IBM Gates axis, has their screen smashed by the newcomer.
The personality and positioning are creative and they sit very happily in the creator slot of the archetypes chart.
The strap line think different underscores this. The embodiment of creativity happens, of course, in many ways but one of the strongest was by contrasting the uncool of pc jacket and tie man against the more chilled guy with his shirt hanging out.
And this was certainly living the brand because Job’s own sartorial style had made it to the TV ads and the employee dress code at the Genius bar.

There is a dark side of a creative personality that sometimes comes up and you can see this present in the Apple brand estate too.

The Lemmings ad was what happens when a creative guru shows too much disdain for their clients and their lack of cool. Effectively insulting their IBM audience, accusing them of blind moronic stupidity, the ad bombed, killing sales and Apple had to close three of its six plants. Steve Jobs left the company in the mid-eighties after this debacle. So much for the dark side of creative positioning.
But the rest of the brand estate has been an impeccable demonstration of how to position as creative.
The product and price point are premium. And the strap lines emphasise the personality not the product. It’s think different, not think premium.
When you talk about strong branding, ultimately the strength is a reflection of the coherence of the P’s. It seems so easy when its done well.

From imagination to reality

By B2B, Communication theory, Communications craft, content, Creativity, Strategy, Uncategorized

Research is a topic that raises a lot of hostile feelings in creative people. Numerous campaigns have fallen at this point only to do really well in real life. Maureen Lipman in BT’s 1980’s Jewish Mother TVC campaign was a perfect example. But I think testing material is really useful, if only because it’s a great way to find out more about your target audience. Above is the general process and it can be iterative.
Although it’s really useful for creatives to go to the focus groups and watch behind the glass window, it’s not as common for this to happen as you might think. For one thing creatives see it like going to the dentist, an exam they’ll find painful and would rather avoid. Another reason is that an agency can be making more money from the creative when they’re chained to their desks rather than watching housewives in Surbiton.
One insight I remember getting from a focus group on women’s hair products was that this particular 40 something lady wanted to look great at times I’d never really considered. Not for her husband, not for the cocktail party nor the hen do, but when she was wearing jeans and a T shirt and the builder was coming round.
Obvious when you think about it, but only when you’ve heard from your actual audience.
Just for completeness here’s the bigger process that the creative sits inside. Many organisations short cut this, but this essentially is the ideal.

The bigger context of research is the following cycle.