Creating and Measuring Communication, Effectively

By: Nickie Harber-Frankart

We’re constantly looking for innovative ways translate data and information into interesting visualizations for our clients. There are many ways to accomplish this by using bar charts, gauges and graphs, but but I’ve recently found word clouds to be incredibly useful for analyzing text.

Wordle.net provides text-based visualizations, using content pasted from articles, blogs, questions from surveys and more, making the top, most prominently used words in the text the largest in the cloud.

For fun, I entered the URL of our blog into Wordle.

Wordle Word Cloud

The prominent words were: interesting, experience, customer, approach, OrangeBoy, work, time, meetings, process, and so on—all of which explain our mission to help our clients become customer-centric organizations.

This exercise was a reminder about branding and creating effective messaging. It was also a lesson in content analytics.

  • Messaging should align with your target audience, as well as your organization’s mission, brand and personality. I was relieved to know that this was the case with our blog. However, it’s not uncommon to see misalignment. Often I hear clients say, I want our customers to know about XYZ, but it doesn’t align with customers’ needs or their behavior. Communication should relate to the core of what you do as an organization while meeting the needs of your customers. A good example is a library sending targeted email messages about early literacy programs to parents with small children who use the library.
  • Use multiple visualizations to tell the whole story. The blog publisher WordPress has a dashboard tool that displays visitation statistics, views, clicks, and popular pages and topics. Amidst all of this “raw” usage data, there are no metrics to describe the blog’s personality or common message themes. The word cloud helped uncover that. By using Wordle, I was able to visualize the messages we send to our readers and understand commonly used words that describe our blog’s personality as it relates to our brand. In other words, multiple data visualizations resulted in a well-rounded story about messaging and its impact on behavior.

I encourage you to think about your messages and use analytics in a similar way. The next time you craft a message to your customers think about how it aligns with their needs and your organization’s brand and mission. Then, consider the best way to measure the impact of that message, effectively.

OrangeBoy works with organizations to uncover valuable insights about customers and the markets they serve. Insights lead to innovative solutions. OrangeBoy helps clients create personalized customer experiences and communications to achieve measurable results. 

The age of the customer

“In the age of the customer, the only sustainable competitive advantage you can have is the degree to which you know and engage with your individual customers.” –WSJ

Know your customers. Read today’s tips in the WSJ and start building your holistic data strategy: http://ow.ly/jtpaW.

Ask us how OrangeBoy can help you http://www.orangeboyinc.com

The Bee’s Knees

Bees

By: Sandy Swanson

One of the advantages of living close to The Ohio State University are programs like “Science Sundays.” The College of Arts and Sciences offers monthly lectures on interesting topics like the Great Lakes, Neuroscience, and Bees.

I attended the bee lecture on Sunday. The speaker talked about how bees, as well as wasps and ants, have been able to organize themselves, divide labor, and thrive as a species for more than 60 million years. The interesting part of the discussion is not the behaviors themselves, but how these insects know how to do these things.

There are a few takeaways from the lecture that relates nicely to the human species even though we have time clocks  scheduling software, project management tools and staff meetings to organize ourselves and get our work done.

  1. Noise is good – One of the things the researchers found in working with insects is that a little bit of tension is good when executing tasks. When there is a roadblock, they are able to address it and move on. It’s ok that everything does not always go perfectly. In fact, the outcome is better when they have to overcome some obstacle.
  2. Specialists vs. generalists – Insects have to be generalists when they are working solo. It isn’t until there are at least seven of them they can divide up the labor. Once they specialize, the system works best when handoff times are quick. Think of it this way. Let’s say you were part of a team, and someone didn’t complete their handoff. You have two choices. You can wait around for them, or go do it yourself. This is what bees do. Some will stay, and others will go back to being generalists.
  3. Use experience to your advantage – Ants take on easier tasks when they are first hatched, and get more dangerous jobs, like leaving the colony to get food, when they get more experience and approach the end of their life expectancy.
  4. Make your case and then shut up – Bees have an interesting decision-making process. When it’s time to select a new location for a hive, they send out a few scouts. They will come back, a few promoting Location A and a few promoting Location B, ‘dancing’ to make their case and recruit more scouts. After they finish dancing, they become silent and let the next recruits take over. The next round of scouts mimic the same behavior, dancing and then becoming silent. After a few days, the location with the most “buzz” (sorry, I couldn’t resist!), is the location they choose.

So, what are the big takeaways here. Well, first, we should embrace a little conflict in our work or personal lives. In other words, noise is good. If everything always went according to plan, we would never figure out how to improve processes or make new discoveries.

Next, figure out where you can specialize and where you need a generalist approach. If specialization is not working well, perhaps there is a weak link in the process or a person somewhere along the line. Use experience to your advantage. Maybe this approach is intuitive with parents teaching their young, but are you leveraging experienced workers in the workplace?

Finally, a little silence is golden. Make your case, try to get buy-in, and then let the process evolve. We’ve all been in committee meetings when Mary or Joe monopolized the conversation, even though they couldn’t win their argument but refused to let anyone else take a shot.

Who knew bees and other insects were so interesting? I think I’ll make a “bee-line” to my library to check out a few more books on the topic.

©OrangeBoy, Inc. 2013

Photo courtesy of the Backyard Bee Hive Blog

It’s Time to Go

By: Clark Swanson

Last week, OrangeBoy duties took me to Kansas City, Missouri, where we work in close contact with Kansas City Public Libraries to help improve literacy services in their community. The trip was expected to last a few days; just down and back. There was a chance of snow in the forecast, but based on meteorological accuracy, I wasn’t exceptionally concerned… Until the storm came early, and I tried to make it out of town before it arrived.

I have seen news footage of such moments, but last week, I found myself living it. As I attempted to make my way to the airport, the I-435 – I-29 split was littered with abandoned and stalled cars. Their drivers, at least those who hadn’t walked way, were at a complete loss. We could see the road ahead was clear. Yet we were frozen, literally and figuratively. There seemed no way out.

Kansas

Then I saw a man, who unlike me and the others was well dressed for the weather. As he walked by my window, I rolled it down, and he asked, “Do you have four-wheel-drive?” The Escape I was driving had all-wheel drive, but it wasn’t the time to debate the point. “If we can clear a few of these people out of the way,” he said, “I think we can get through.”

He went to the mini-van blocking me and asked her to pull in front of me; requiring her to move headlong toward the berm. We formed a “T” at this moment. At the same time, a thought came into my head, “Do you really want to do this? This is how you got here in the first place.” Three hours earlier I had taken a calculated risk. If I could get to the airport before the storm grew to full strength, Southwest promised I might make it home to my wife Sandy. Although I got within eight miles; I lost.

The thought didn’t last long. I didn’t even answer it. I put the Ford Escape into reverse, backed-up, and then pulled around the mini-van. I squeezed between a semi and another car, twisting and turning between two others. A small pick-up was the last obstacle. He sat between an abandoned car and another semi. I stopped the Escape, and with the help of four others, the truck was manhandled. We moved it maybe 12 to 18 inches. I got back into the Escape, pointed it toward the gap, and drove through. It didn’t fishtail, drift, or slide.

I plowed through the gap, heading to the open road. The gentleman who started the chain of events waved as I passed through, but I had no intention of stopping or going back.

That evening, as I stared out my hotel window, it came to me that this was the metaphor for our business and the opportunities ahead. When the opportunity presents itself, we have to take it without much thought or fear, regardless of previous failures.

If those three days showed me anything, it’s that a golden gap lies before us. We just need to drive through it. Yes, sometimes it takes a little help from others and a bit of luck, but it’s out there.

It’s time to go. I hope you’ll come along with us.

©OrangeBoy, Inc. 2013

Photo from kansascity.com

I’ve Been Everywhere, Man…

By: Sandy Swanson

As the Rihanna song “Where Have You Been?” starts, “I’ve Been Everywhere, Man,” and so has OrangeBoy.

As we’ve grown, so have our frequent flier accounts, with clients in more than 20 states across the country. In just the first six weeks of this year alone, team members have been in Illinois, Washington, Maryland, New York, Michigan, and of course, Ohio.

Last year, as people came off the road, we started dropping our hotel key cards in a bowl near the coffee machine. It was fun watching the pile grow throughout the year, and we informally voted on who had the most colorful and best designs (I personally like the Hyatt Place cards the best).
photo 2
The cards in the bowl continued to grow and we had accumulated about 200 cards at the end of the year. I wondered what I could do with the cards to display them in an artistic way. I ended up sorting them by color, and then gluing them on a canvas in a criss-cross design. The final piece resembles a colorful, patchwork quilt.

Now, besides having a cool new piece of artwork for the office, the key card mosaic is a symbol for our work, our values, and our commitment to clients. Travelling these days is no easy feat, with airport security, cancelled flights, weather delays. These cards are our badge of honor. We do a lot of our work virtually; utilizing cloud computing services and tele-conferencing to provide a positive customer experience. But sometimes nothing beats being there in person.

The bowl is starting to fill up again, and I can’t wait to see what we do with this year’s collection. If you have any ideas, let me know!

©OrangeBoy, Inc. 2013

Opting in to Consumer-Driven Strategy

Image

How Disney Changes the Theme Park Business

By: Nickie Harber-Frankart

A new year brings new opportunities. For our clients, that means a new level of understanding of how consumers’ desires for convenience and personalization continually drive business strategy. A recent New York Times article about Disney’s new MyMagic+ technology is a perfect example of this.

mymagic

MyMagic+ utilizes radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology embedded in rubber bracelets (called MagicBands), which when worn by park visitors simplifies the daunting task of keeping track of paper tickets, fumbling with credit cards, and tracking room keys, while watching small children in a theme park. Customers (at their own discretion) can also encode personal data on the bands which park employees can access. This makes it possible for me or my sister to opt in and personalize my niece’s first visit to Walt Disney World where Minnie Mouse greets her saying, “Nice to meet you, Hailey!”

For a place that brings fairy tales to life, the adoption of MyMagic+ not only delivers convenience and personalization, but also brings Disney one step closer to its mission and brand promise to make “Dreams come true.”

As a consumer and business person, I can appreciate all of the possibilities. Sure, it raises the hot debate about collecting personal data, but it really is a win-win for both the customer and the organization. For instance, it not only enhances the customer experience leading to greater customer satisfaction, but also allows the organization to gain valuable insight into consumption habits to streamline processes and enhance productivity.

I believe 2013 is the year for both consumers and company leaders to truly embrace the opportunities that technology and data bring. There are numerous possibilities to satisfy our convenience-driven culture, and several ways our organizations and customers benefit—one of which is the option to opt out entirely.

©OrangeBoy, Inc. 2013

Photo from wired.com