November 18, 2012

Alvin Ailey's Digital Dance Modern dance is like olives. It’s an acquired taste. And in this socio-economic environment dance troupes are underfunded, searching for new audiences and competing for each and every discretionary entertainment dollar. What’s a company to do? Differentiate, target and make it easy for customers and prospects to engage with dancers and dancing. That’s what the famous Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is doing by using digital media to expose their new Artistic Director, engage new audience members and help tentative ticket buyers find the programs that might suit them best. It’s a trifecta performance that leverages promotion, apps, e-mail and search in concert. The promotion starts with a simple compelling idea. Robert Battle, my friend and upstairs neighbor, is the new Artistic Director. He was selected by and who replaced the legendary dancer and choreographer Judith Jamison last year and his influence and direction is first being felt at scale this season. So they start by using the news and awareness of the new face driving the company. Next they target artistic sensibility. On a dedicated landing page, his image fronts four questions, which assess a person’s interest, familiarity, experience and tastes in dance and with the Alvin Ailey company. Prospects are instantly included and engaged and the conversation sidesteps questions about if you’ll go and jumps right to which performances will suit you best. The answers to the questions are instantly mapped to four of the thirty-nine specific performances. Ideally “Robert” recommends programs that a person is most likely to enjoy. The interface is easy to use and graphically interesting. The whole experience takes 45 seconds. And the prospect then has a simple choice to make. The five key lessons here are … Understand the consumer mindset Anticipate your audience needs Take the message to those most likely to respond Do the math for them Make it easy and fast. It’s a muscular, agile, inventive and bravura performance in a category that is often sleepy when it comes to digital marketing and innovative thinking.
4 Ways to Find Top Digital Talent The growth of digital, social and mobile communications has sparked a frenzied search for players with digital chops even though there are no consensus job definitions and no simple or common ways to assess digital talent. No two organizations are alike. Two digital producers or two digital strategists have disparate job descriptions, different skill sets plus radically or randomly different experience and technical knowledge. You’d think that finding great digitally savvy players is as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. There are so many good people actively looking, especially in New York, LA, San Francisco, Boston, Philly, Austin, the DC suburbs and Chicago that you can ping your LinkedIn or Facebook network and turn up six candidates in 24 hours; one better than the next. Yet, like any marketing task, clear strategy and careful planning must precede campaign execution. Here are 4 ways to insure you get the talent you need. Triangulate from the Ideal. The ideal digital player is grounded in classical marketing disciplines, has knowledge of several vertical industries, experience in offline media, common sense and a keen interest in all things digital. You are looking for a person who knows what’s possible, a person who can visualize how a branded message is formed and communicated as the strands of a campaign come together. The ideal player can explain the branding rationale, the desired customer experience and the operational steps to connect the dots to an interested but ignorant client. Comfortable with the technical requirements of HTML5, Ajax, Axure or Adobe Air and conversant with ad serving, mobile standards, behavioral targeting, CAN SPAM rules and complex metrics, the ideal digital player can visualize and sell a path from what was to what will be in ways that makes sense to front line managers and measurably improve a client’s business. You need a hard-headed business person with enough vision and nerve to separate value from hype and to cherry pick the tactics that will make a difference in a distinct competitive market. The number of Facebook friends or their facility with Flickr or Twitter is much less important than their ability to visualize and apply evolving technology to solve business problems and deliver business results. Look in the Mirror. No two organizations seek the same person, even when the job title or description is identical. People either fit or they don’t. To find the right player, the hiring manager has to be clear about the skills they need and who might fit the role. After demonstrable skills are established, chemistry is the key hiring criteria. Don’t delude yourself about nature of the organization and the established centers of power and influence. Ask yourself how the skills and personality requirements play out in your particular environment. If you factor this in at the outset, you dramatically improve the chances of finding the right person. If you pretend you’re living in the model organization, you will fake yourself out and spin your wheels. Calibrate Context. A new hire is joining an organization in-motion. To find the best person for the job, you need a clear read on where the organization is and where it’s going. Look carefully at the job itself. Finding somebody to be the first person to lead a digital team requires much different skills and personality traits than simply refilling an established leadership slot. Successful hiring is matchmaking. Factor in personality and power relationships. Can the current team leader work well with an equal or stronger talent or personality? Will they be challenged or threatened by different personalities with different work experiences. Look at dependencies and contingencies in the organizational design. For example, some creative directors own and lead UI and technical design functions. They are looking for a cog in a well-oiled machine. Others don’t. They are looking to find a person who can serve two masters at once and not get crosswise with either. Every new opening is an opportunity to make course corrections. But in fixing the wrongs of the past, many of us create new problems. To overcompensate for a polarizing personality, we often hire a wimp. To get added technical skills, we sometimes trade off common sense. Balancing what was with what should be is the challenge. Assess Skill at Each Level. Candidates do not guild the lily anymore than they always have, so ask pointed questions, set up theoretical scenarios and expose candidates to multiple interviews to establish exactly what they really know and really can do. The extent of this...

Danny Flamberg

I am a veteran marketing consultant working with leading and emerging brands

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