Trade | Dirk Shaw
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Author: Dirk Shaw


07 Mar Five ways to scale your in-house publishing team

The last decade has fundamentally changed the communications environment. Influence does not just come from those with the biggest audience, real time has become a model of authentic communication and cross channel content consumption is on the rise. The result is that nowadays no two people see the same Internet. We increasingly discover online content not by algorithms but through the “lens of a friend” as Microsoft researcher Dana Boyd likes to call it. So we must offer multiple options that provide paths to engage. These paths are the various themes and stories consumers are actively engaging in, which may or may not be directly associated with your products or services.

Gaining a share of a consumer’s mind in today’s hyper-connected marketplace does not happen with a single home run. It requires an organization to begin acting like a publisher with some fundamentals. Become more diligent with story mining, actively listening to what people are interested in and then efficiently tailoring these stories across platforms in a way that inspires the audience to participate in the dialog. Moving to a publishing-centric mindset can be accelerated by having the right data, tools and work flows in place to help guide creative teams to the right outcomes.

These 5 tips will help you scale your publishing team to handle everything from a multiplatform global editorial plan that operates like a newsroom to a story-centric content campaign.

1. Define the life-cycle of a Story


2. Align editorial calendar’s across the globe


3. Increase mix of content and delivery channels


4. Develop content strategies that ensure stories work across platforms 


5. Build a technology architecture that connects editorial, content delivery, and measurement


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22 Jan Slideshow: Get Started with a Content Marketing Readiness Assessment

Trade reviews the relevance of a brand’s ongoing communications, technology, and business performance by using the Six Components of a Narrative First Marketing Strategy. This guides our understanding of what types of stories are being told today, whom they are reaching, and how well they are performing. We couple these insights with the organization’s current processes and alignment around storytelling and the platforms used for editorial management, publishing, and analytics. This assessment provides clarity regarding the implications of the “current state” and a roadmap for new opportunities to improve how a brand and its consumers align while positively impacting the overall business performance.

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"The New Relationship with Money"

22 Jan The New Relationship With Money

For the longest time the banks, credit card companies, and payment technology providers dictated the ways in which consumers conducted a transaction with a brand. These institutions are no longer in complete control. The global adoption of mobile devices, combined with over 6.4 billion connected devices in use along with a new host of new business models are challenging the old way. Companies like UBS bank have launched an open innovation competition called “The Future of Finance Challenge” to help them keep up with the changing landscape.

A consumer’s transaction options have gone from a few methods (cash, card or check) into a diverse set of digital services housed on their smartphone. These new transaction services are being integrated into a larger brand experience whether it’s hitting the buy button in Google’s search engine, being one of the 7mm people buying coffee via Starbucks app or checking out in a Disney retail location with the simple tap of a wearable device.

The proliferation of ways people can pay along with the rise of contextual experiences means more potential touch points for transactions than ever before. Brands will initially wrestle with how to design for these new opportunities, but once they can deliver relevant and seamless payment experiences, they will be able to access unprecedented amounts of new data to help build more personal relationships with their customers.

Today’s accelerated pace is creating an entirely new ecosystem for consumers, brands, and the payment’s industry. To stay relevant banks, must be integrated into the tapestry of people’s lives and its done by thinking of Commerce from the human down not the transaction up.

Five ways banks can meet the demands of the mobile first consumer.

Move beyond segmentation to real-time consumer profiles: The age of abundance has created a scarcity of attention. To personalize experiences with changing consumer sentiment brands will need to leave the traditional model of static customer segmentation behind and begin to develop a real-time view of the changing behaviors.

Implement design centered approaches: Mobile payments are allowing consumers to shop and pay for good with little to no interruption in their day. Working from the brand out in today’s consumer-led economy will lead to experiences that do not fit into the flow of how people shop and consume. Don’t just spend time understanding the journey of how people buy from you rather take a look at their whole life to determine ways you can fit at the right moment in time.

Create data-driven experiences: We know more than ever about consumers from what they bought, where they check in and what they like. This wealth of behavioral creates the opportunity to create more relevant experiences, offers, and new products. Data-driven experience planning means that you must move from mass audiences to a tailored experience based on behavior.

Connected Device Integration: 6.4 billion connected devices will be in use in 2016 to do everything from opening your garage door, telling your pharmacist when medications need a refill and ordering something from Amazon. If you allow payments to take place from these objects, it can further embed your brand into the fabric of people’s lives while providing new opportunities for revenue.

Embrace the programmable web: Opening up what is core to your role in the payments ecosystem whether it be security, processing or e-commerce to allow developers to build new business models faster ensures you will stay relevant in the changing payments landscape.

The new consumer relationship with money is more closely linked to brands versus the banks.



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Banksy struck again — this time in the Upper West Side!

17 Feb What is Art Anyway?

4 artists changing what it means to be a “real artist”

Unless you were unplugged, you probably heard about Kanye West jumping on stage during Beck’s acceptance of his Grammy as a statement about the lack of respect for “real art”, whatever that means. As if  any of the art at the level of the Grammy’s is any less “real” than the other. Whatever the case, the internet then spent a week debating who is actually a better “artist” Beck, Beyoncé or Kanye, which resulted memes on how many instruments Beck could play compared to Beyoncé and disses on how Kanye can’t keep a tune without a computer.
Source: Bottlenose

Source Bottlenose: Conversation data from Kayne’s Grammy interruption

All of this debate on who is a “real artist” made me think about the changing nature of how “art” is defined, music is created and what constitutes being a photographer in today’s mobile world. The access to new tools, endless amounts of digitized assets and a shrinking global community has, in my mind, transformed what constitutes “art”. I think this is the message Kanye was trying to deliver in a not-so-subtle way. The new generation of artists are thriving because they are engaging people in a story that happens to be delivered though various types of media both online and offline.


The Remixer

Mark Ronson is a music producer and DJ who has worked with a variety of artist from Paul McCartney to Bruno Mars. His TED Talk brilliantly sums up how sampling has transformed music. Ronson said sampling isn’t about “hijacking nostalgia wholesale, it’s about inserting yourself into the narrative of a song while also pushing that story forward.” If you are in the camp that thinks sampling is ripping other people off, take a few minutes to watch this TED Talk and I am sure you will have a new opinion.


The Multi-Platform Street Artist

Banksy completed his NYC residency today with some balloons in Queens. "And that's it," the artist wrote on his website. "Thanks for your patience.

Banksy, the street artist who has yet to reveal his face,recently “took over” NYC in what I would describe as a mash-up of street art meets scavenger hunt. Fans got clues on where Banksy would be next via short cryptic messages on social platforms they would have to decode in order to determine the location. The intention was not simply in finding the location, it was getting there before the art was covered up or gone. The levels of engagement and chatter across the social sphere was something a brand would have paid millions for. Personally I thought this was a brilliant “exhibit” that connected people with the art. Of course there are the “real art” pundits who claim Banksy is not a real artist because his work is not in a gallery or meets some other criteria they learned in art history.


The iPhoneographer

"Tonight The Streets Are Ours" published by the Invisible Photographer Asia, which showed Singapore's Little India after dusk
Singapore-based photographer Aik Beng Chia is just one of hundreds who have been recognized for their storytelling through photography from their mobile phones. Aik Beng Chia started photographing in 2008 with a focus on the daily lives of people on the streets of Singapore. In 2013, he launched “Tonight The Streets Are Ours” published by the Invisible Photographer Asia, which showed Singapore’s Little India after dusk.


The 6-second storyteller

Twitter’s 140 character limitation got people to say more with less words. Vine, Twitter’s short video platform, took it a step further by giving creators 6 seconds to get their point across in more than words. Both have ushered in a new era of short form storytellers like the @Klarity. More than 2 million people tune in to see his hilarious and sometimes risque short skits.


Whether an artist creates with spray paint, loops or in 6 seconds does not matter. Who people think of as “real artists” has fundamentally shifted, which is great for people like me who love to see how people express themselves and engage others with new media.

To learn more about how Trade can assist your organization, contact 678-427-5210

To contact the author

Dirk Shaw, Principal

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Engaging Youth

06 Feb Youth is wasted on the young.

Observations from a dad on how brands can connect with my kids

Teenagers have enormous spending power. However, businesses all too often fail to capitalize on that. Why? Because they are marketing to them and not participating in helping them express the story of their lives. I will date myself, but it’s to illustrate the point. When I was a teen, face time meant just as it implies and the way I expressed myself was by covering every squareinch of my wall with every imaginable from Metallica posters, Tony Hawk  cut-outs from Thrasher and maybe a picture from the SI swimsuit edition.

What can I say, I was a teenage boy trying to express the things that were shaping my personal narrative at the time. Fast forward three kids and a head of gray hair later and now I am watching my oldest offspring doing the same thing but in smaller, more real-time pieces of content. My kids are inviting others to participate in their personal narratives every text, Snapchat or like.

Below are some observations, from watching my kids and their friends, on how to participate with youth.

Understand me, don’t market to me

Spend some of your research budget on ethnography to really understand how people use connected devices, content and various platforms to express their narratives and the stories they participate in. This insight will allow you to refine the things you create and places they go.

Send me a photo or video please

YouTube’s explosive popularity among youths is a fact that you can turn to your advantage. Create short, shareable video content that has real value to your target audience. The idea isn’t to directly promote your product; it’s to evoke emotions. Still images also make an impact. One company that makes excellent use of visual content is Sharpie. In fact, 86 percent of Sharpie’s Facebook followers are between 13 and 24 years old.

Don’t be lame, Dad!

Teenagers’ tastes change as fast as their moods do. To keep your content cool, pay special attention to trends that affect the youth market. Also, if you have room in your budget, hire a teenager or two to work part-time at your office; or heck you can just hire mine. 

I am sure as time goes on the list will grow but for now….

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05 Feb Case Study: Exploring personal narratives based on patterns in search

GE Capital Bank tasked Trade with the objective to expand their relevance and engagement to reach consumers who were earlier in the decision process. Our target market, consumers in the “pre-shopping” phase, were greater than 4 weeks away from deciding about where to invest their money. We needed to create an entire content marketing function for the bank to reach these consumers with meaningful content that would ultimately improve conversion performance and drive down costs of acquisition.

GECB_StoryEngine_Strategy_CUSTOMERSERVICE.001Our storytelling goal was to ensure the bank had meaning and value to people when participating in conversations and activities related to saving money. An agile storytelling methodology would fuel GE Capital Bank’s content marketing program to reach more people by increasing organic search rankings through a continuous flow of savings-themed stories across owned, earned and paid media.

The higher meaning for GE came from insights into a core idea: Saving money is more than a behavior. It’s a mindset.  But to be a saver of any kind, you have to care.

Defined Archetypes and Personal Narratives

To gain a better understanding of people and their personal narratives, we conducted a series of primary interviews, an online survey with more than 2,000 people, a consumer intent model with 10s of thousands of keywords, and an analysis of thousands of online conversations across social platforms. The result: three primary audience archetypes that represented groups of people who would be ideal customers.

Experienced Lifers: Older, wealthier, retired

Generally from the professional sector, these individuals might be out of the 9 to 5, but they aren’t done making money.

Daily Grinders: Middle-class, risk adverse

While personal wealth management isn’t their strong suit, they know the need to save. Given the economy today, having a nest egg is a must.

Eager Learners: Young, digital

The world is their oyster and they are finally making substantial income. They know it’s time to start getting smarter on investing.


Uncovering Themes

We started with 26,000 keyword phrases that were aligned to topics like family, the future, and health/wellness. We knew our audience was already participating in these story fields when thinking about money and finance, according to research conducted with Global Web Index. Out of the total universe, we dove in deeper to search behaviors more connected to GE Capital Bank products and bridged the gap to broader thematics.

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Editorial Exploration

Using the insights from search and social data we uncovered whitespace opportunity, which allowed us to align themes and stories to levels of meaning within each phase of a buyer’s journey. You have to care enough to do resourceful things, which may not always be the easiest things.

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Born from our themes and editorial plans we created a savings spectrum experience which measures how much someone cares by making tangible and relatable how much that someone does to be a saver within their financial life and beyond. The “savings roadmap” is where the brand began to participate in the relationship consumers have with saving money and other resourceful behaviors making their products more meaningful in consumers’ lives.

To learn more about how Trade can assist your organization, contact 404-900-5592

To contact the author

Dirk Shaw, Principal

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02 Feb The big challenge for marketers

People don’t exist to consume brand stories. They seek meaning through experiences in life. People live their lives in multiple personal narratives, such as parenthood, love, creation, family, friendship and leisure. It is within each of these personal narratives that stories are told, shared and sought after. And it is these stories that advertently or inadvertently change behavior.

Untitled 2.001This is essential to understand in order to help shape your consumers’ narratives. It is also essential for a brand’s own narrative to connect with consumers. In today’s fragmented world, these stories are consumed as bite-sized pieces of digital content, which means that consumer opinion of a brand’s created narrative is time dependent.

It is shaped over time by the stories brands tell AND the stories other people tell of them. Brands can no longer deliver a self-serving inward-focused narrative, especially through interruptions in media. Most CMOs realize stories influence opinion, consideration and ultimately a purchase, which is why 79% of marketers report their organizations are shifting their brands to a content-driven approach.

Nearly 40% of marketing, advertising and + communications budgets will be dedicated to some form of content marketing this year.

This seismic change has caused media budgets to shift to digital delivery platforms, with a large part of these investments falling into the practice of content marketing. Nearly 40% of marketing, advertising and communications budgets will be dedicated to some form of content marketing this year. The realignment of investment has spawned an entire cottage industry of platforms and content providers, each with their own business-driven needs.

How do corporate marketers and communicators, as well as their agencies, place a rigorous focus on aligning stories to consumer personal narrative?


To learn more about how Trade can assist your organization, contact 404-900-5592

To contact the author

Dirk Shaw, Principal

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