The Complete “Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class” Arc

Note: this was a thirty part post arc in which J answered student questions. We’re reposting because J references it in Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and Expectation and he’s the boss, we do what he says. Most times.

UMass Lowell and Strategic Management

I was very honored today to be asked to sit in on UMass Lowell‘s Strategic Management classes. These classes are taught by Dr. Martin Moser, a gentleman I’ve mentioned before in my blogs. The classes are working on some very interesting ideas; marketing UMass Lowell as a product to a very targeted audience — high school juniors. As Dr. Moser is going to be passing this post onto his students, I’m hoping they’ll feel free to post their comments and thoughts (and hopefully pointers to their marketing materials, if they’re allowed) here so others can get an idea of what these students are doing.

I could tell you I was blown away by the competence, expertise and skill of these students and I still wouldn’t be doing them justice. They are constructing videos of their lives at UMass Lowell, highly informative, definitely intimate (meaning one-on-one), and very personable. These videos are going on different social networking sites as a means of promoting the school. This is the brainchild of Dr. Moser and is being encouraged by Associate Vice Chancellor Joyce Gibson and Dean Tom Taylor. My purpose for attending the class was to provide some feedback on their marketing efforts and to do some field research on how that generation is thinking.

I’m not going to go into how bright, how professional, this and that. Take it for granted. What truly impressed me was that these students were so willing to learn. When I offered a response to a video they asked for explanations and follow up thoughts. Their questions were both reasonable and insightful. They were thinking! They impressed me. One student recognized the differences involved in gender-based marketing and asked how to deal with them. Other students were aware that certain things would work well for their target but not for older audiences — that’s right, they understood age-based demographics.

Okay and yes. If students are learning how to produce marketing material they should be aware of these concepts. There is, however, a broad difference between learning something, being aware of it, and putting it into practice and understanding how what they’re doing works in a business environment.

My hat’s off to the students, Dr. Moser and UMass Lowell for supporting this learning.

I also promised the students that I’d provide links for them on the various things we were talking about. Those follow at the bottom of this post.

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class

A few days back I wrote UMass Lowell and Strategic Management and what a pleasure it was to meet with the students and learn what they were doing (creating online videos to market UMass Lowell to prospective students).

Imagine my pleasure when one of the students emailed me her thanks!

The student, Robyn, wrote:

Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to come to our Strategic Management class. It was great to hear an outsider’s point of view on our project. You gave us many great insights like the idea placing two people in one shot to show a sense of belongingness. Also researching into the local concert arenas to find up coming events, this is much more compelling. My group, The Usual Suspects, has already been working on a way to put them into our video. Once again thank you and I hope to have the chance to learn from you again!

Let me write again that I was very impressed by all the student videos. They handled my critiques well. As I told them, “I’m talking to you as I would a client who asked us to come in and help them.” The students took my critiques far better than some clients do and (I’m sure) far better than I would have under similar circumstances.

These students are people to watch. Companies should be talking with them now because they won’t stay on the job market long with the skills they displayed in that class.

Other readers of this blog and my IMediaConnection column have written to let me know that my work is must reading or research for their ecommerce, design and media strategies classes. I’m flattered!

Please feel free to contact NextStage (we’re on LinkedIn, Twitter and Skype) if you’d like one of us to visit your class. We learn as much from these experiences as the students involved.

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Jessica

I’ve received several emails from UMass Lowell‘s Strategic Management class students since my visit, which I documented in some previous posts. I’m going to be sharing the students’ emails and encouraging them to post on my blog in order to get some attention for what they’re doing.

First up, this from Jessica…

Thank you for taking the time to meet with my Strategic Management class. Your knowledge and insight provided me with a great learning experience that will help my team and I kaizen our videos. I learned that intimacy is the key to social structure, two people in a video creates interaction (which then produces intimacy) and interest is captured by telling people what’s going to happen, not what already happened. I hope I will have another chance to learn from you in the future.

The pleasure was mine, Jessica, and I hope we have an opportunity to learn from each other again, as well.

Remember that the “two people” rule applied to the video we were discussing. I think I mentioned to another class that a single narrator can also imply intimacy by how they talk to the camera, and also if there’s an offscreen “someone” the narrator is talking to. This offscreen someone can respond to the narrator with small words (“yeah”, “uh-huh”, “right”) and be the viewer’s surrogate. This gives the viewer cues as to how they should be responding to the material, as well.

Again, thanks to the class and more to follow.

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Chad

This is another student email from UMass Lowell‘s Strategic Management class. I’m going to be sharing the students’ emails and encouraging them to post on my blog in order to get some attention for what they’re doing.

This time, from Chad…

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to take part in our Strategic Management workshop.  All your suggestions and ideas were really helpful, and I really feel that our group has a better understanding of what we are aiming to accomplish with this project. I hope you enjoyed yourself and I hope I am lucky enough to learn from you again soon. Thanks for everything.

As written before, the pleasure was mine. I do hope that readers of this blog who are potential employers of these students are taking notice. These students are learning a multitude of marketing and production skills which will serve them well as Web 2.0 marketing and advertising comes forward.

Again, thanks to the class and more to follow.

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Julianne

This post is from Julianne, a student in UMass Lowell‘s Strategic Management class. I’m sharing the students’ emails and encouraging them to post on my blog in order to get some attention for what they’re doing.

My name is Julianne and I am a senior at UMass Lowell, majoring in management and marketing. I am in Dr. Moser’s 2:30 Strategic Management class and I wanted to thank you for taking the time to visit with us.

I thought your anecdotes provided very critical information for improving our videos – just because they are well edited doesn’t mean they are going to get the job done. My group has already started thinking of new video ideas and we’re going to leave the editing for when we absolutely need it.

If you have the time, I would love for you to visit the class again. We will be creating videos for the rest of the semester – I’m sure there will be points along the way where your feedback would be very important.

Thank you again for visiting our class. I was a true pelasure and a wonderful learning experience.

My pleasure, Julianne.

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Jonroy

This post is from Jonroy, one of the UMass Lowell‘s Strategic Management students. I’m sharing the students’ emails and encouraging them to post on my blog in order to get some attention for what they’re doing.

I appreciate you taking the time to educate our class on Thursday.  It is always good to get feedback from a third party. It reaffirms the trust we have in Professor Moser.  Your input has helped me to improve our project, and help my group move in the right direction.  I look forward to your next visit.

My pleasure, Jonroy.

Some of the students have sent me links to their projects which I’ll be sharing in future posts. Stay tuned.

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – James

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to take part in our Strategic Management workshop.  All your suggestions and ideas were really helpful, and I really feel that our group has a better understanding of what we are aiming to accomplish with this project. I hope you enjoyed yourself and I hope I am lucky enough to learn from you again soon. Thanks for everything.

As written before, the pleasure was mine. I do hope that readers of this blog who are potential employers of these students are taking notice. These students are learning a multitude of marketing and production skills which will serve them well as Web 2.0 marketing and advertising comes forward.

Again, thanks to the class and more to follow.

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Vishesh

I’m continuing with the emails from UMass Lowell‘s Strategic Management students in the hopes of bringing them and their work some attention. Readers interested in their work or getting in touch with the students should either email me directly or post a comment here. I’ll be sure to pass things along in either case.

Vishesh writes:

I would like to thank you for taking out time from your busy schedule and attending our Strategic Management class on Thursday. I could gather from your conversation towards our class, that you are an astute observer. I guess that’s one of the qualities you have to posses when you are in a competitive field like marketing&research.
“I would also captivated by the concept of straight line (between the consumers and the producers) which was mentioned by you, how to advertise your product to the right consumer in the shortest possible way (without deviation).

“Your comments on our presentation were very encouraging and that will help us kaizen our product for our final consumers. For example, you mentioned that we should have shown students eating in a restaurant and not just engaging in a conversation, I think that makes the video more compelling and adds to the creditability of the video.

“The same concept has been emphasized by Prof. Moser several times in class.

I had a chance to review some of your links like Improve Website Performance and Online Sales Increase [[these papers are available to NextStage Members]] and I found those to be interesting and spend some more time on those links as that that could be a benchmark for our final product (Space 2). I would like to thank you again and hope to see you see you again in one of our classes.

No problem, Vishesh. Happy to help.

Vishesh’s comment about the “straight line between consumers and producers has to do with making sure the consumer (a website visitor, for example) has the straightest, cleanest possible path between finding the product they want and purchasing the product. In other words, once you’ve identified a prospect as being in the buying cycle, remove all distractions from helping them achieve their goal of purchasing the product.

A direct application of this is knowing your target audience well enough to ensure correct product placement. Doing so insures the correct audience being both branded by the product and impacted enough to act upon the information presented.

The comment about eating has to do with visually showing a credible event. I.E., if you have people in a restaurant, somebody has to be eating, food has to be being served, waitstaff have to be moving around, people have to be at the counter ordering, … something has to be going on in either fore- or back-ground so that the sense of the place is transmitted to the audience. Showing people simply talking with no other activity doesn’t have as much impact. The moral is, whenever you show people at some specific place, something has to be going on indicative of that place so that the viewer has context within which to understand the conversation or events going on.

More from this class to follow…

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Astrid, Demonstrating Reasons to be Interested

This post is an email from Astrid, a UMass Lowell‘s Strategic Management student.

Astrid writes:

I would just like to thank you for attending my Strategic Management class last Thursday at 2:30pm. Your insights and advice on our video clips was very helpful and now I have a better understanding to as how to kaizen our clips for the project.

For example, I now understand that we cannot simply mention the name of a place and expect High school students to know what we mean. We need to strip the name and be more specific as to simply say that UML has baseball to offer rather than say LeLacheur park. This is one of many of your insights that I will use to Kaizen our project. Once again, thank you, and I hope to have the opportunity to receive your expertise again.

Very good, Astrid.

What this deals with is cultural consciousness. Any institution or brand will have its own culture and much about that institution or brand is known to everyone in that culture, hence “cultural consciousness.”

Convincing people to participate in that institution or brand involves giving them a reason — something they understand from their present cultural vantage point — and demonstrating that its available to them from the new cultural vantage point.

People (as a rule) are resistant to change. Doing something like this — showing familiarity and known — goes a long way to helping people through “change” situations. This is true if they’re experiencing change in their friends, family, work, environment, whatever.

Nicely done, Astrid. Good work.

More from this class to follow…

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Jaimes, Put Action Onscreen to Demonstrate Community and Belonging

This post is from Jaimes, one of UMass Lowell‘s Strategic Management students.

Jaimes writes:

Thank you very much for taking time out of your schedule to come in to our Strategic Management class last Thursday. Your critique of our video (to make sure there are people in the background) really helped us. We certainly are much better off having learned from your insights. I hope to possibly see you again.

My pleasure, Jaimes.

One of the purposes of the videos these students are creating is to show potential students that a community — a “belonging” — exists at UMass Lowell. An easy way to show this is to have people doing something in the background of their videos. This background action shouldn’t be distracting, only demonstrative. For example, have people walking in groups, laughing, smiling, or talking intently yet in a friendly way. “Belonging” and a sense of community stem from people believing they’re providing worth to the community.

Nicely done, Jaimes.

More from this class to follow…

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Saroeung, 3 Seconds Applies to Video, too

Saroeung, one of the UMass Lowell‘s Strategic Management students, already posted a comment to [[sorry, the comment’s lost]] Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Jonroy. I responded there that I’d be getting to her email soon and here it is.

Your visit to our Strategic class on Thursday has taught us a lot about the important elements of an effective video. In order for our video to capture the students’ mind we have to weigh the time and tone of the speaker very carefully in which for the first couple of seconds the students will be connected with the message we’re trying to say, thus drawing a straight line with the audience.

Furthermore, your article on “You’ve Only Got 3 Seconds” advised us on the importance of how far we would go in order to know our consumer, which of course psychology comes in handy.

Thank you for attending our class and we hope to see you again in the near future.

No problem, Saroeung.

Saroeung is correct. The first moments of interaction, whether in video, brochures, websites, whatever the marketing material is, is crucial. This is something I’ll be covering in more detail in my Quantifying and Optimizing the Human Side of Online Marketing [[[[these presentations are available to NextStage Members]] presentation at the San Francisco Emetrics Summit in May ’07.

One of the ways to insure interaction between marketing material and target audience is, as Saroeung writes, to make sure the tone of the material — in this case, the video’s narrator — matches the tone normally used by the target audience and matching the pacing (“time”) of the material to match the normal cognitive, behavioral/effective and motivational matrix of the target audience.

Very good, Saroeung. I hope to see you folks again soon, too.

More from this class to follow…

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Chau, Don’t Stage a FoodFight Unless it Gets Your Message Across

Chau is one of the UMass Lowell‘s Strategic Management students. Chau wrote:

It was unfortunate that I couldn’t make it to the meeting on Thursday. I’m one of the people that was responsible for the filming and putting the videos together. I tried my best to make the videos convey what my group were thinking since I’m the IT department, sort of.

One of the things that my group mentioned to me was that in our video of FOOD, you said that someone needs to be eating. Looking back, I notice that no one was actually eating and the restaurant was just us. I will take it into consideration to add all those missing elements in our next video. We actually had all those clips, but didn’t use them thinking they weren’t important. Thank you for attending my Strategic Management class and I hope I get a second chance to meet you.

My pleasure, Chau.

I wrote about implying action and community in a restaurant setting in Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Jaimes, Put Action Onscreen to Demonstrate Community and Belonging.

Regardless of what got into the video and what didn’t, you’re learning how to make things better and that’s what’s important. Even if people aren’t eating in a restaurant, something has to be happening with food to give viewers a sense of the place. I’m not suggesting you stage a foodfight, just letting you know that food needs to be in there somehow.

Talk to you later, Chau.

More from this class to follow…

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Jeff Attract and Stick

Jeff is one of the UMass Lowell's Strategic Management students. Jeff wrote:

Thank you again for taking time to visit my Strategic Management class. Your critiques and ideas about our Downtown Lowell video were much appreciated. I really liked your idea of using a think, attract, and stick approach for marketing. Your visit will definitely improve the quality of our project.
In the future I hope to have the opportunity to work with you again.

I hope so, too, Jeff.

Jeff's reference to attract and stick comes from a discussion about how to make online videos and other marketing material attract the correct audience and then insure that the correct audience will stick to the material (not move on to a competitor's material or site).

More from this class to follow…

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Michael, Paying Attention to Your Audience

One of the UMass Lowell Strategic Management students, Michael, wrote me a few paragraphs which I share here. I’m very impressed by his email and has nothing to do with what he actually wrote so much as the link he included at the end of his email.

Prospective employers, take note:

THANK YOU.
I greatly appreciate your willingness to share your time and expertise with us. It has not only illuminated my understanding of our project but also of my career and business in general.

I asked you during class about the makings of a credible script. Your insights of how movie actors are merely given direction and goals and then just “go with it” and that a two hour hollywood movie can be created from only 93 pages of script hit me right between the eyes.

THE IMPACT
Within an hour after our class, I came up with over 10 messages I realized my team’s video needed to obtain and over 30 interview questions to get us there, as well as some ‘non-acting’ artistic shots as well. My team will spilt up into three groups, each having a camera and take the campus by storm on Tuesday. Its amazing how much energy comes when you ‘get it.’ THANK YOU!
IN ADDITION
Thank you for the informational arbitrage opportunity you have allowed me through connecting me to your articles (note to readers: you can find the list of articles on UMass Lowell and Strategic Management). I enjoy the possibility of being one of the few ‘finance guys’ who is aware of your marketing research and what it will allow me to bring to my employers.

MORE THAN WORDS
I intend to express my appreciation by more than just saying thank you. I will seek to bring you business as I through referring colleges and future employers to your services and research. I hope to afford you more time for your research and less time for marketing, as you expressed in class.

What really impressed me was that Michael included a link to his homepage and resume.

Yes, I’m flattered by what Michael wrote, but I’m impressed that he included a link to his resume. Michael did something I encourage others to do when I give presentations on knowing your audience, pay attention to your audience if you want them to pay attention to you.

In this case, I mentioned that I find myself doing business development more and more and research less and less.

More from this class to follow…

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Matt, Michael, Daniel and Frank, Demonstrating Intimacy and Immediacy in Online Video

This post includes emails from four UMass Lowell Strategic Management students, Matt, Michael, Daniel and Frank. We start with Matt:

I would like to thank you for taking interest in our Admissions project. Your views have helped my team kaizen our video to show more intimacy. Once again, thank you for taking the time to meet with us and I look forward to the possible opportunity to learn from you again.

Matt is going to make one of the classes’ videos available and I’ll include a link in a blog post shortly.
Now onto Michael, Daniel and Frank…

From Michael:

Thank you for taking the time to visit our Strategic Management class. I found your advice about the marketing aspect of our project to be very helpful. I look forward to learning from you again in the future.

From Daniel:

I want to thank you for taking the time to visit my Strategic Management class this past Thursday. Your advice about realism, intimacy, and especially gender specific marketing is invaluable. That information provided me with several ideas that will benefit not only our group, but the class as a whole. Thank you again and I look forward to learning from you in the near future.

And from Frank:

I wanted to thank you for attending our 2:30 Strategic Management class on March 22. Your professional insight into how our videos can be improved to better reach our target market was invaluable.
One key insight that I had overlooked was the importance of being intimate with the audience. I had originally thought that if you just had videos of a person being interviewed it would be boring to the audience. I had overlooked the fact that this can be used as a powerful way to lock in the viewer. It would be great if you could come back to view our finished product.

Demonstrating intimacy and it’s twin, immediacy, is a necessary part of convincing an audience that your product or service is a) what they need and b) important to them now. I’ve mentioned intimacy in previous posts in this thread.

I’ll be sharing methods for demonstrating intimacy and immediacy on my next visit to the class. Perhaps one of the students will video the session and we can post that here, too.

What do you say, students?

More from this class to follow…

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Erik, Place Brands and Operational Branding

This post is based on an email from Erik, a UMass Lowell Strategic Management student. Erik wrote:

Thank you very much for taking time out of your day to to help us work on our myspace projects for admissions. Though your responses were not exactly what i was hoping for your insight on our dorm life video and its inability to create an intimate experience for the viewer will be very helpful in the final weeks of this project. Once these projects are ready for final submission it would be great, if you have the opportunity, to come back again and see our progress.

First, glad to be of help (I hope).

Second, what Erik is writing about is that his team produced a great video, but not a great video for their target audience. I suggested that his group keep the video they did produce on the back burner because (I’m sure) someday it’ll come in handy.

What this deals with is Place Brand and Operational Branding.

A Place Brand is traditionally “A place brand is tied to a geographic location. It uses classic marketing practices to establish a presence that reflects the values, language, ways of thinking and responding to information, etc., to create economic value. The ideal place brand reflects a geographic location’s cultural identity while separating itself from competitive products. This often goes beyond traditional branding concepts of logo and slogan.”

Whether Erik and the other students realize it or not, they’re doing place branding. The “place” their branding is the age-demographic of the UMass Lowell target audience.

Just so we’re clear on the concept, I’m not using “Place Brand” to mean branding UMass Lowell, I’m talking about the psychological place the age-specific demographic lives in. Recognizing conceptual spaces and psychological places are having meaning and (near) physical reality to a given audience is something NextStage often does for clients and I was happy to provide that insight to the UML students.

The other element (and here’s where Erik’s group was a little weak) was the operational branding elements of their video.

Operational branding is defined as “the process of consistently and accurately branding in the language and culture of the target audience while maintaining corporate strategy. Operational branding is the method of creating successful place brands.”

Operational branding often makes use of three elements:

  1. Know your audience (really well)
  2. Synchronize your place brand to what you know really well about your audience
  3. Engage alternate channels to create value in the place brand

My concern with Erik’s group’s video was in the second item above.

Again, it was a good video, I just questioned whether it was the best video for operational branding purposes.

More from this class to follow…

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Laura, Show Real Life Really Happening

This post is from UMass Lowell Strategic Management student Laura.
Laura wrote:

>Our group is grateful for your visit to our Strategic Management class. We took your pointers about editing the material in our video, and it was interesting to see your point of view about the tour of the rec center and actually showing the actions as we are talking about them. Your insights will be carried throughout the rest of the semester. We hope to see you again soon.

Again, glad to be of help.
Laura’s group’s video had a narrator describing what goes on in the rec center. Behind the narrator, completely unrehearsed and totally natural, were people doing rec centerish things; playing games badly, laughing, making fun of each other…being completely natural.

The goal of these videos is to demonstrate the UMass Lowell experience as a positive experience and true real life is the best way to do it.

Nicely done, Laura.

More from this class to follow…

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Christopher, Anjali, TeamKaizen and using what you’re learning to learn more. Good work and nicely done!

This post is from UMass Lowell Strategic Management student Laura.

Christopher wrote:

I’d like to take a minute to thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to come and sit in for our class to give us feedback on our project. With the advice you gave to our team with keeping our videos intimate, we were able to come up with some great videos this afternoon. Again, thank you for your help, and I look forward to learning more from you through your blog.

Next is Anjali:

Thank you for taking the time to visit my Strategic Management class. Your thoughts have really got my group thinking. We are now considering a whole new direction for our videos based on your comments. I hope you will have a chance to look at our final products, we would be honored to have you share your knowledge and insight with us again.

And from TeamKaizen, the first video the class is letting me share and this blog’s first video from these students!

Good work, all!

I’m impressed by two things in this video thank you note and neither has to do with it being directed towards me. First, these students took the time to put it out there and second, they made use of what they’re learning to learn more. UMass Lowell has invited me back to work with these students again and I’m looking forward to it.

More from this class to follow…

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Joseph, William, Tension and Purpose

This post is from some more UMass Lowell Strategic Management students, Joseph and William.

First up, Joseph:

I greatly appreciate your attending our class last week, it was great to hear about the different marketing techniques we can use to get our videos out to our prospects. I will also be sure to focus on keeping 2 people in the frame when we our taping to have some contrast between the actors. Please consider returning to our class (either to see our finished product or to gain more insight into the younger generation!) at some point this semester, it is always a beneficial experience to have professional insight into our endeavors.

Joseph’s comment about keeping two people in the frame deals with adding some “energy”, what is sometimes called “dramatic tension”, simply by the interaction and dialogue of two people who are directing their focus to a third person (the viewer) who’s completely external to the frame of reference (the video). The two people in the frame can be simply talking and their differences in presentation style will often be non-consciously picked up by people viewing the video as adding something to the presentation.

Next up, William:

I would like to extend my appreciation for taking the time to speak at my Strategic Management class. Your discussion regarding the discrepancies between management perception and public perception were of particular interest to me. I plan to utilize the concepts you elaborated on in my immediate and long-term futures. I hope to have the opportunity to learn from you again.

William’s reference to public versus management perception came from a discussion about how marketing perceives a product versus management’s intention for a product. Marketing has the difficult task of taking something serving a strategic purpose (management’s intention for a product, even a short term product, is to create long-term brand affinity) and making that product very “now-worthy” in the consumer’s mind.

More from this class to follow…

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Michael, Ana and Taj, Cluster Production, Action and Intimacy

This post is from some more UMass Lowell Strategic Management students, Michael, Ana and Taj.

First up, Michael:

Thanking you for taking the time sit in and discuss production/marketing issues with our Strategic Management class last Thursday. Your views and advice on “cluster production” were helpful for my team to determine which videos were effective and which videos fell short of the objective. I also found your real world examples of marketing to be educative, especially the bit about how marketing and managements perception of a product can differ and how that affects the final marketing pitch. I believe motion-picture media is an effective form of marketing, and your “John Q. Public” opinion was very valuable for our group’s video analysis. I hope our class has the opportunity to have an audience with you soon again in the future.

No problem, Michael. Glad to be of help. “Cluster production” is part of audience knowledgeable design and involves 1) a deep knowledge of the target audience followed by 2) a thematic, cross platform approach to marketing to that audience.

Next up, Ana:

I would like to thank you for taking time out of your schedule to attend our class meeting last Thursday. My team and I really appreciate the insight you gave us in kaizening our team project video. Your emphasis on the important role intimacy plays and the links you sent us have given us a better understanding on marketing strategically that I know will definitely benefit us in the future.
Hoping to have the opportunity to learn and get more feedback from you soon.

My pleasure, Ana. I’m looking forward to your next release.

And this from Taj:

Thank you for finding the the time to come and share your important insights with our Strategic Management class. Your comments about highlighting action concepts in Space two, changed the way my group is approaching the True Entertainment section. It would be great if you could check up on us later on in the semester, to see how well we have digested your views.

I’m looking forward to it!

More from this class to follow…

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Kimberly, Christian, Kelly and Charles

This post is from some more UMass Lowell Strategic Management students, Kimberly, Christian, Kelly and Charles.

First up, Kimberly:

Thank you for joining my Strategic Management class this past Thursday. Your thoughts and comments about our project have been very helpful. Your presence gave the class an even more real-world feel than normal and it pushes me to take the project more seriously. In past classes, my projects were designed to provide a new learning experience and receiving a good grade was the only drive to do well . However, this project will produce actual results that will benefit the university, so it was important for me to see the university taking it seriously as well.

Excellent realization, Kimberly. You should be proud of yourself.

Next up, Christian:

Thank you for taking time off from your schedule to visit my Strategic Management class. Your input throughout the class was extremely helpful and has already helped my group change the way we are filming our video. We found that the little details you pointed out are very important to the success of our video. Thank you again for taking the time to join us last week.

My pleasuere, Christian. Next comes Kelly:

Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to visit my Strategic Management class at UMass Lowell on Thursday, March 29th. I appreciate that you are interested in helping us make our projects a success. It was a wonderful experience to hear your thoughts and insights.

“I was most interested to hear your thoughts on website construction. The target market for our project is high school juniors and seniors. They may not be interested in viewing a dull college website so we have to capture their interest in the first three seconds so that they stay on our page.

“Thank you again. I hope to have the opportunity to learn more from you again very soon. It was a pleasure.

Mine, too, Kelly. Excellent realizations about website design for your target audience. Very good! Now Charles:

Thank you for taking the time to visit my Strategic Management class. Your insights were very interesting, especially considering I am a marketing major and can learn from others experience. I’ve already come up with a few kaizens to our project. such things as intimacy, showing more then one person while taping, and trying to be as natural and unscripted as possible. They will definitely have a very positive impact our final deliverable. I hope to have the opportunity to learn from you again very soon.

You will, Charles. This week, in fact. See you Thursday.

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Colleen’s Video

This post is from Colleen, a UMass Lowell Strategic Management student.

Colleen sent me a link to a video her group did. It’s a good piece of work on several counts. First, it gives a good sense of location and college atmosphere. The opening scenes can be made stronger by showing people walking around. This suggestion comes from knowing the target demographic likes the social aspects of college life (yes, I appreciate the irony of that statement given the past few days’ headlines).

The voiceover is good because it follows what’s happening “on screen” well. It can be made better by having the social aspects mentioned above also on screen and having the narrator’s voice commenting on that social aspect. The very act of doing so will tend to soften the voice and tone being presented.

Showing the action in the rec center is also good, again because the social aspect of college life is forefront. The killer scene is about 30 seconds in; someone’s being interviewed and someone walks behind them and, basically, acts like a college student. As they say in the Visa commercials, priceless.

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – James and The Usual Suspect’s Video

This post is from James, a UMass Lowell Strategic Management student, and his “The Usual Suspects” team.

James sent me a link to the latest version of their video. Here’s his email to me. My response follows.

James writes:

This is James from Dr. Moser’s Strategic Management Class at 1 P.M.. I am looking forward to having you visit our class again tomorrow. I am not sure how much time we will have to show you our video so far, so here is the link. We have attempted to have at least two people in each scene, however due to the weather recently we have not been able to redo certain parts. There is still work that we need to do in perfecting the video, including adding the HTML links in the video, however we are currently working on eradicating the imperfections. See you tomorrow.

My response:

I’m sending this along to Dr. Gibson because we talked about just this aspect of promoting the school during our meeting today; a ‘video’ tour of what incoming students can expect. This comes very close. Those interviews are excellent and close to what I suggested to Dr. Gibson.

I also laughed my head off when the camera-person interrupted the narrator in the very first sequence with “This isn’t a dating video”!
EXCELLENT!
You folks are going to be teaching me things, I’m sure.
See you all tomorrow

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Q&A, Part 1

I had another opportunity to visit with UMass Lowell Strategic Management students about a week ago. They continue to do good work. One of the discussion topics was separating the marketing and sales channels. Many organizations see these departments as the same. I admit that there’s some overlap and the boundary has always been fairly clear and clean to me.

I’ve always thought of marketing’s job as to get people to “look at the menu”. This might involve getting them in the door, inviting them to take a seat and describing what the restaurant’s about and what to expect, introducing your waitperson and things like that. That’s pretty much where I think marketing stops.

Likewise, I’ve always thought of sales as the talented waitperson who describes what’s on the menu and the specials the chef’s got in the kitchen, takes your order, makes sure that what you’re ordering is something you’re going to like, makes suggestions for rounding out the meal, makes sure it arrives just as you expected and follows up in case you need anything else.

Yes, there is some overlap and it’s still basically the pitch and the close. Anyway, with that in mind, the students decided to host their own site and provide all the content in order to take their project to the next step.

What follows is my email encouraging their decision. The rest of this arc will be the back and forth as they and I learn how to best promote UMass Lowell to potential students.

Okay, now your real-world work begins.

First, what’s the overall goal of this work?

Once you’ve established the overall goal of the work, how does/will the TrueUML site contribute to meeting that goal? The YouTube site?

Which is your sales channel, which is your marketing channel?

Hint: Remember what I said
about the sales funnel? NextStage uses a much broader concept, The X Funnel (you can also read about sales funnels in Listening to and Seeing Searches). What part does each site play in your X Funnel?

I’d like to document your progress in my blog. BUT!!! that means the pressure is going to be on because people will be watching. If you’ve been on the NextStage Evolution site and read through our Principles, you know that I won’t knowingly put people in uncomfortable situations.

SO!!! I won’t document this effort unless you all want me to. Talk about this amongst yourselves and get back to me, preferably sooner rather than later.

Also, I’m going to start using some of the pictures you provided in your signature files on my blog and elsewhere. Let me know if you DON’T want me to use your pictures. I’ll use them unless I receive an email from you stating that I can’t.

And a last thing…I want you to know I listen to and learn from you, probably more than you might think. In the 2:30pm class (I think that was the one), we were talking about the game and one student and Dr. Moser provided some good reasons for not playing it as it was originally presented. Take a look at my signature file now and you’ll see that I’ve modified the advertising strategy.

See that? Old dogs can learn new tricks. Thanks to the class for teaching me something.

Joseph

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Q&A, Part 2

This is part 2 in an arc based on my last visit with the UMass Lowell Strategic Management students about a week ago. I shared some questions I asked them in Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Q&A, Part 1. Now we’ll start going over their answers.

1) what’s the overall goal of this work?
The goal of the piece our classes are contributing is “attraction”. Therefore, this class is working on the marketing part of the marketing and sales equation.

2) how does/will the TrueUML site contribute to meeting that goal?
This website will be used a medium to influence the prospective students in a way they are aware of their needs: freedom and belongingness. The layout of the website will follow the sales funnel concept in which the less serious, credible videos will be placed on the top center of the page whereas the more serious videos will be at the lower right corner. (this suggestion came from using NextStage’s Ad Placement tool in the class and getting student feedback on the results) The main focus here is to grasp the visitors’ attention and have them stay on the website.

3)The YouTube site?
Our videos will be uploaded to YouTube and be accessible for all viewers. It’s a great tool we can use to put UML on the market for potential students.

Nicely done!

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Q&A, Part 3

This is part 3 in an arc based on my last visit with the UMass Lowell Strategic Management students about a week ago. I shared some questions I asked them in Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Q&A, Part 1. This is the second posting of answers.

3) The YouTube site?
youtube
is another advertising resource available to us, where we can
upload the videos we have worked on so far. You tube is more attractive
to people between the ages of 16-25 and our ” target market” market is in the initial stages of that age group.

4) Which is your sales channel?
Sales channel would just include trueuml.com
as this is the only site that we have control over i.e we can accept
quarries, answer questions and the content upload on this website would
be according to what we think is attractive to high school students.
With the help Mr. Carrabis
( and his website) i’m sure we will be able to capture the attention of these young minds.

5) which is your marketing channel?
Marketing channel would be be the place where we target the maximum amount of people that would have to be myspace, youtube and now a new addition trueuml.com.


Excellent answer to #5. Good work.

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Q&A, Part 4

This is part 4 in an arc based on my last visit with the UMass Lowell Strategic Management students about a week ago. I shared some questions I asked them in Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Q&A, Part 1. This is the fourth posting of answers.

2) How does/will the TrueUML site contribute to meeting that goal?
It is a place that our target audience can see unfiltered information about U Mass Lowell. I’ll accept that and it’s best to understand the concept of branding at this point. It’s true, the target audience can see unfiltered information about UML. This means they’ll be able to find information you aren’t sponsoring. How can you make sure your target audience knows they’re getting your branded information and not a competitor’s?

3) The YouTube site?
you Tube is going to allow us to link the raw footage that we have to our site. By doing this, our potential students can see first hand the atmosphere and sentiment about the school. Very good.

4) Which is your sales channel?

I believe our sales channels are our MySpace page and TrueUml.com website. With these two sites working hand in hand, it should be a very efficient way to attract students. Very good. I know you can control the content on TrueUML and that means you can do all your own branding there. How much control will you have of the MySpace look, feel, content, branding, etc? Hint: Think of which direction you want people to travel; MySpace to TrueUML or TrueUML to MySpace? Where do you want visitors to spend the bulk of their time?

5) which is your marketing channel?
Our marketing channels are the sites that are most often visited by out target audience. MySpace, YouTube, Facebook and such. Brilliant and very good.

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Q&A, Part 5

This is part 5 in an arc based on my last visit with the UMass Lowell Strategic Management students about a week ago. I shared some questions I asked them in Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Q&A, Part 1. This is the fifth posting of answers and we start with a little dissent.

2) how does/will the TrueUML site contribute to meeting that goal?
I personally don’t think the TrueUML site will have THAT much of an effect since it will have pretty much the same contents as our MySpace. I’m sure we are not going to do anything different. Maybe if we redirect TrueUML site to the MySpace page, then I think that’s okay. TrueUML.com is definitely easier to remember than www.myspace.com/trueuml. I agree that if the two sites have much the same content, one is superfluous. A question, then, is “Should the two sites have the same content?”

3)The YouTube site?
Now this I think is the best way to get exposure since they get so many hits a day. I’ve seen people as old as 60 doing a video blog and kids as young as 7 acting goofy on cam. Also, instead of doing a text blog on MySpace, we can do video blog. All you need is a webcam. There are so many different markets here that we can target. Easiest way for people to find our videos is to make our keywords/tags short and precise. We can copy the link or embed the html code onto forums websites. Again, I agree. YouTube will get much more traffic in general than TrueUML. I think the difference is in what kind of traffic each site will get. YouTube is the mall, TrueUML is a store in the mall. So this leads to another question, me thinks, “How can we get people walking through the mall to come into our store?”

Excellent points leading to more questions. Good work and nicely done.

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Q&A, Part 6 and How a Class learns

This is part 6 in an arc based on my last visit with the UMass Lowell Strategic Management students. Because I entered their strategizing late my questions caused some confusion. This can also happen in business situations where a consulting organization is brought in after a project is done and is one of the reasons NextStage always works to be involved at the start of a project.

That offered, it’s exciting when such a situation exists and the players are able to incorporate the new tools the consulting group brings. An example of that is in this post. One group of students asked a question and another student was able to answer it.

The question:

This is James from your 1PM Strategic Management class. There is a little confusion between our group members about the TrueUML site. What is the purpose of this site? Is this to serve as the Space 3? The URL the 1PM class chose for the myspace site is http://www.myspace.com/umasspace. If it is to serve as the space three, is this something that the admissions people will be working on to develop and they will be directed as what to include on the site? Also how did You Tube become one of Joseph’s questions? Correct me if i am wrong but i thought You Tube had nothing to do with our Space 2 except as a third party video hosting service provider. Thank you for your time.

This is an excellent question. Disregard the project specific jargon and notice that the question really is about clarifying the project objective; did the project goal and milestones change when the student wasn’t looking? James, the student, and his group are putting themselves in a truth to power situation. I hope they can continue to do so after graduation when they’re in a work environment.

The answer (also from a student):

I am a little confused myself now that you brought it up. But after reading other student’s email I have a picture that space 2 is myspace website and space 3 can be trueUML website. Our videos focus on the theme of space 2 and they are informal so these videos should be placed on myspace page. With limited time we can only focus on finishing up space 2.

About Mr. Carrabis mentioning youtube, I think he saw some of us using this website to present our videos so maybe he just wanted to make sure we understand what kind of marketing tool we’re dealing with and know how to distinguish the function each has in our overall project. Then again, he might see some potential strategy which might helps us with the project.

First thing, students, always assume Mr. Carrabis is just as much in the dark as you are.

This student’s ability to take information — confusing information — and synthesize a working concept that will further their project and get them closer to their goal is to be both honored and commended. Also note that this student is beginning to incorporate a “marketing” concept into their project.

These students are learning and learning rapidly. They are integrating outside and possibly confusing information in order to perfect their project and give it more legs than it might have had otherwise.

Any businesses out there, you can find these students in Dr. Moser’s UMass Lowell Strategic Management classes.

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Q&A, Part 7

I’m still posting about my Q&A’s with the UMass Lowell Strategic Management students. I’ll admit to my fascination watching these students learn.

This is from one student:

3)The YouTube site?
The youtube site offers the prospective students a chance to see what UML offers through firsthand accounts of the current students.

Very good.

4) Which is your sales channel, 5) which is your marketing channel?
I
believe that the marketing channel would be the myspace site because that is what we are using to entice students to click further onto the TrueUML site to seal the deal.

Again, very good. Think of the sales funnel (seems you are, anyway).

And from another student:

2) How does/will the TrueUML site contribute to meeting that goal?
The TrueUML site will be a great asset that will allow us to impliment our ideas and to convey to high school juniors and seniors the sense of ‘freedom’ and ‘belonging’ that college students have. We will get our message out through picture slideshows and amateur videos.

3)The YouTube site?
The YouTube site is a great place for us to upload our videos and get them on the web. Not only will YouTube help us display our videos on our website, but it will also allow people not familiar with TrueUML.com to see our videos via YouTube’s website. It may be a smart idea to put a link to our TrueUML website in the description of our videos to give the website more exposure.

4) Which is your sales channel?
Our sales channel would be TrueUML, mainly because we are not limited as to what we can do with the website and we have complete control.

5.) Which is yourmarketing channel?

Our marketing channel would be Myspace and YouTube, since these two website are extremely popular with our target market. We can use these sites to divert people to the TrueUML website .

I’ve often thought the role of higher education is to provide both theory and real-world applications side by side. As I wrote above, these students are impressing me with how rapidly they’re taking what they learn in class and applying it to a real marketing problem.

Links for these posts:


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The Complete “Bad Joseph! No cake!” Arc

Note: this was a three post arc on advice J received.

Bad Joseph, No Cake (Part 1)

My Websites: You’ve Only Got 3 Seconds column certainly generated a great deal of response and I’m flattered and grateful for all of it. It showed up in all sorts of places, from SaaS to design blogs. Quite a few readers wrote me for copies of the bibliography mentioned at the end of the article.

We followed up with people who requested the bibliography and some of their responses — “Those were science articles. Do you have anything on marketing?” — to it gave me a chuckle.

Well, um…that’s what NextStage does, basically. We conduct original research, do literature searches to find out how much of what we’re learning is unique to NextStage versus duplicated or pointed to in the work of others, and apply all of it for our clients and to you, my readers.

Anyway, I promised in this week’s IMedia Column, Tips for Your Next Website Redesign, that I’d write about one reader’s suggestions. Naturally, it’s taking the form of a blog arc and will be in several posts. In case you read no further, my thanks to Jan Limpach of Cleveland search engine optimization firm Keyphrase-Marketing for emailing me some suggestions for improving the NextStage Evolution website. Jan is a Cleveland SEO specialist in Northeast Ohio.

Jan wrote:

“Hello Joseph, was very interested in your topic, and landed on your site…

“[imho] Was a tough read for me (font size, bold, line length) and wasn’t sure what to do next, so moved on. :-\


“JAN-ISM #124 If ALL is Bold? Then None is Bold!

“Wishing you success…”

I wrote back to Jan:

“Let me see how our site looks with the bold removed and I’ll get back to you.
“(about half an hour later…)
“Hmm…well…I think you’re right on this one, Jan. I’m guessing by the time you get this email there’ll be a button at the bottom of each NextStage Evolution webpage that allows you to go from the old style to a new style.[[(the site’s changed since then, the button’s long gone)]]
“Let me know what you think. Especially let me know if we get past #124.”

One of my most cherished beliefs is that I’m always learning. If I’m not learning — which means I’m willing to change my opinions on things when better data is available — then I’m kind of useless to myself, my family and my clients. To that end, Jan had several other suggestions for NextStage Evolution’s website. I mentioned in the Tips for Your Next Website Redesign IMedia column that we’ll be implementing some of them as part of our research paradigm.

I’ll be sharing Jan’s thoughts and suggestions (there were several and they were all good ones) in this arc. The arc will be a collaboration of sorts, Jan’s suggestions mediated through NextStage’s concepts and tools. I’m hoping it’ll be interesting reading.

Bad Joseph! No cake! (Part 2)

This is my second posting in an occasional arc that started with my Websites: You’ve Only Got 3 Seconds IMedia column. That column showed up in all sorts of places, even Hungary (Honlap: csak 3 másodperce van). Quite a few readers wrote me for copies of the bibliography mentioned at the end of the article.

I promised in last week’s IMedia Column, Tips for Your Next Webster Redesign, that I’d write about one reader’s suggestions. Naturally, it’s taking the form of a bloc arc and will be in several posts. In case you read no further, my thanks to Jan Limpach of Cleveland search engine optimization firm Keyphrase-Marketing for emailing me some suggestions for improving the NextStage Evolution website. Jan is a Cleveland SEO specialist in Northeast Ohio.

kmmad

The first set of Jan’s suggestions were documented in Tips for Your Next Website Redesign and in Bad Joseph! No Cake! (Part 1) above. Here we pick up with more of Jan’s suggestions.

Jan also commented on our webpage HEAD information, something else I’m woefully inexperienced with. He wrote:

“A Model <head> might appear like this:
<html>
<head>
<title>5 to 7 words using Primary Keyphrase for page</title>
<meta name=”description” content=”144-250 characters long, using the Primary Keyphrase early in the first sentence”>
<meta name=”keywords” content=”USE ONLY KEYWORDS that appear on the page, 125 characters +/-“>
<meta name=”robots” content=”index,follow”>
<!– LINK ANY SCRIPTS EXTERNALLY HERE–>
</head>”

Again, thanks. I’m learning a lot here. I know we created that kind of information back in … um … 2001? I don’t think we’ve looked at it since as most of our business comes from word of mouth and people actively seeking us out.

Okay, so what’s a “Primary Keyprhase”? Well, darn, Wikipedia doesn’t have an entry. One resource I found was Jeremy Maddock‘s Choosing Primary Keyphrases. Mr. Maddock writes: “That’s why your primary phrase should be something that people are likely to type into a search engine, and it should also be descriptive of your page’s content.”

Okay, now I’m chuckling. Cosmic kharma is at work again. NextStage is finishing up a tool which determines how well what people type into a search engine matches what they then find on a landing page and how to make them match up.

But let’s see….primary keyphrase and keywords…okay, I’ll give this a try for our homepage…

Currently our title is “NextStage: Predictive Intelligence, Persuasion Engineering, Interactive Analytics and Behavioral Metrics”. Let’s change that to “NextStage Evolution: We Predict Outcomes”

Description…hmm…How about…hmm…I’ll have to put some thought into this one…

Bad Joseph! No cake! (Part 3)

Jan previously commented that our webpage HEAD information needed help. No doubt it does.

I should let readers know that we don’t get a lot of work from people coming to our websites. From the beginning our websites have been informational and primarily used as repositories for papers we would reference our clients to. The majority of our work comes from people reading something we’ve written, contacting us after a presentation somewhere, calling us directly, word of mouth, …

We’re changing our keyphrase, description and keywords fields. I want to emphasize that we’re doing this, not Jan or another SEO firm. I’ll let you know how it goes.

As I wrote in Tips for Your Next Website Redesign, we use our own sites to test a lot of what’s out there. This is an example of participant-observer anthropology applied to the web at its best, me thinks.


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Why Is It All Local?

I’ve been following a series of discussions lately, all of which revolve around the concept of “localization”. I suppose I should make clear some of my definitions up front:

  • Location – A physical place which has psychological resonance with people living and working in that place.
  • Localization – Specific materials, place brands, website content, etc., that capitalize on a location’s psychological resonance with its inhabitants
  • Geographies – The boundaries that separate locations from each other. These boundaries are often physical and more often are psychological due to localization factors.

Designing and developing to cater to any of the above three needs to take social factors into account because communities can obviously (I hope!) be built around any of those three elements.

However, until we make teleportation as cheap and dependable as broadband, I and most everyone else suffers the following limitation:
I can get the world into my computer but I can’t get myself into the world.

This is a serious drawback when you want to give someone a sense of location. Let me give you some examples:

  • Seeing the Sistine Chapter on screen is nice, being there? So much better!
  • Seeing the King’s Table on the Isle of Skye on screen? So-so. Walking it? Whoa!
  • Seeing a video or image of Greenland lit by the moon as seen from a jet flying 30,000 feet above on a screen? The mere thought makes me laugh. Seeing it from the jet? My throat still chokes up.
  • Seeing the Grand Canyon, even in IMAX? Yeah, it’s breathtaking. Seeing it from it’s own edge? Just forget about breathing for a while.
  • Seeing the Northern Lights on TV or YouTube or some such? Yeah, it’s nice. Seeing it from our property? You can believe the Inuit tales of SnowWalker.

So the ‘net can bring me the world by the world is far too big to fit in that box.

The box of the mind, however? Infinite capacity.


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The Complete “Using Your ‘Send Glands’?” Arc

Note: This was a 13.5 post arc, presented here as a single post

Using Your “SEND” glands? Part 1

Yes, I’m coming out of another round of research, correlating, updating, analyzing, agonizing, … One of the research projects NextStage has recently completed has to do with emails.

There’s been lots of interest in email as of late. How can you market through it, how can you do this and that, can it be used in branding, what’s the real power of email campaigns? Stuff like that.

You’ll be shocked, I know, to learn NextStage’s research doesn’t directly concern itself with any of that. Because our research doesn’t deal with any of those items, it directly affects all of them. We’ve learned that this happens a lot; because we’re not answering a question from discipline A we’re not bound by their paradigms, because we’re not bound by the paradigms inherent in discipline A we’re free to consider a much wider venue of causes, actions and responses, because we consider a much wider venue of causes, actions and responses we discover and learn things that directly affect the paradigms inherent in discipline A.

Whoosh!

So what did we find out this time? We learned a lot about how and why people interact with emails the way they do, and what happens before, during and after they receive an email from an entity at levels 0, 1, 2 and 3.

What does that mean?

This is going to be another of Joseph’s infamous blog arcs, so if you’re interested, read on. I guarantee you that you’ll read emails very differently than you do now by the time this blog arc is done..

What I’m about to share in this arc isn’t something I would have pointed at and stated, “This means that”, however, when I read the results I did agree with them.

Many people have what I call a “signature” file they attach to their emails. It usually contains contact information, company information, a disclaimer or confidentiality statement, things like that. The information will vary from person to person, of course, and the form is usually the same.

For example, the last three emails I received have signature files laid out as follows:

  • From a VP in online publishing

    Name
    Vice President, Publishing
    Company

    corporate website

    office: phone number

    Skype ID: skype id


  • From a professional web analyst

    Name – Senior Web Architect

    Member of the Web Analytics Association

    Complete profile on LinkedIn their LinkedIn profile

    mailto:their email address

    their blog


  • From a college administrator

    Name

    Coordinator of Graduate Programs

    Office of Academic Affairs

    their building and office number

    address

    City, State, Zip

    their office phone

    their fax number

    their email address


You can see that the pattern is pretty much the same. Even when the signature file is an image based on some online service (such as an image of the sender’s business card), the information is pretty much the same. What these files reveal about their authors, however, is amazing.

And because I work for NextStage, you know I’m not talking about company affiliations and titles, right?

Using Your “SEND” glands? Part 2

What this research discovered is how and why people interact with emails the way they do, and what happens before, during and after they receive an email from an entity at levels 0, 1, 2 and 3.

I gave examples of email signatures above. I chose those signatures simply by opening the last three emails in my IN box. The first thing to be aware in how people respond to email signature information is the relationship and level of intimacy between sender and receiver of an email and is what I’m referring to with “levels 0, 1, 2, and 3” above.

Think “Six Degrees of Separation” then add to it. There is a psychological distance and a sociological distance that separates people, not just a physical distance.
I may be part of someone’s social environment (a neighbor, a cousin) and that makes me very close to them in a social network sense. However, I may not be comfortable with the person for a variety of reasons. Perhaps I don’t trust them or don’t like their personal habits or lifestyle. I’m in their social network but am psychologically distant from them, what is often called “emotionally unavailable”.

Fair warning dept: I’ll be using myself as an example in what follows. I use myself as an example when I’m lecturing or presenting on different topics because I can be sure that when I mention negative and positive things about the example the only person who’s going to be upset is me and I got over being embarrassed, upset or offended by things I do or say long, long ago.

More than 30 years ago, during my first time through college, I started a journal. The only restrictions I placed myself under in writing that journal were:

  1. Everything I wrote had to be truthful and
  2. I would let anyone read it who wanted to.

I’ve pretty much held myself to those restrictions ever since and they form the basis for using myself as an example in writing, presentations and lecturing.

Using Your “SEND” glands? Part 3

Think of “0” level entities as people you’re very comfortable with, people you’ve established a level of social if not personal intimacy with. These, more often than not, are people one would consider “friends”. Maybe not close, close friends, yet you would consider myself on a “friendly” basis with them just the same. Historically this relationship and level of intimacy was reserved for immediate social groups; family, people in your village or neighborhood, co-workers in the same office or production floor.

Next comes level 1 correspondents. Maybe level 1 correspondents are people you have a business relationship with and with whom you’re friendly. You’re open and gregarious with them in emails and on the phone but you wouldn’t randomly call them up and invite them to a movie, dinner, something like that. However, you might go out to dinner with them or for a drink if you met at a convention or some such.

Historically these were people not in your immediate social group, perhaps people from the same village but and for example, they were landowners and you or your family worked their land or they were from the other side of town once your village became large enough to considered a town. If your village was still a village then people in this group might have been from one or two villages away. You might see them on market days and at the fairs, you might be cordial and share the off-color joke or two. In a nutshell, even if you enjoyed their company you didn’t trust them as much as you trusted the folks in level 0.

Level 2 correspondents are purely business. You’re always cordial and more importantly you’re always professional with level 2 correspondents. You may joke a little with them but you don’t tell them jokes, you may go out to breakfast, lunch or dinner but you’re both always talking business and taking notes while you’re at the table. Historically only the landed people, people of political or financial status, had level 2 interactions on a regular basis. Commoners may have had occasional level 2 interactions and they always had their hands on our swordhilts when they met and during most of the transaction. These people are even further away from the Center of Trust afforded level 0 interactions.

Level 3 and beyond? Who knows.

Psychological and sociological distance applies across all these levels in the following way:

  • Psychological distance plays the greater role when we’re dealing with personal matters
  • Sociological distance plays the greater role when we’re dealing with non-personal matters

This goes back to the example I gave in part 2; I may be part of someone’s social environment due to a living or work situation but not like their personal habits or lifestyle, hence I’m in their social network but am psychologically distant from them.

These relationships, these levels of intimacy between sender and receiver, play heavily into how people respond to what’s in signature files. It doesn’t matter the level of intimacy the sender assigns to the recipient (it would surprise me if people changed their signature files for each recipient. It’s more likely that recipients pass from business to personal emails as they go through levels of intimacy and enter the Circle of Trust), all that matters is the level of intimacy the recipient believes they share with the sender.

That stated, the next post will offer my current business signature file as the working example for what’s to follow.

Using Your “SEND” glands? Part 4

I’ll be using my current [[(as of 25 Apr 07, so now it’s a little different)]] business signature file as an example moving forward. As I write this my business signature file contains the following:


If we all insisted on precise definitions we all would be speechless almost all of the time. Definitions and precise theoretical constructs are the final product, not the starting point of inquiry. – Lawrence Weiskrantz

Joseph Carrabis, Chairman, CRO and Founder
NextStage Evolution/NextStage Global



NextStage: Predictive Intelligence, Persuasion Engineering, Interactive Analytics and Behavioral Metrics


http://www.nextstagevolution.com


http://www.nextstageglobal.com


US Offices: 49 Brinton Dr/Nashua, NH 03064-1274/603 577 4575 voice/603 791 4627 fax

Canadian Offices: 7045 Edwards Blvd, Suite 401/Mississauga, Ontario, L5S 1X2/905 564 6929 x300 voice/905 564 9468 fax

This email message and any attachments are confidential and may be privileged. If you are not the intended recipient, please notify NextStage by replying to this message or by sending an email to support@nextstagevolution.com and destroy all copies of this message and any attachments. Thank you.


There’s quite a bit of information in my signature file. Let’s break it down item by item.

  1. First thing to notice is that I use a smaller font for my signature file than the rest of the message.
  2. The first item is a quote. All my signature files on all my email accounts contain a quote of some kind.
  3. Next comes a space, a visual separation between the quote and what comes next. We’ll learn that this is important later in this post.
  4. Next is my name and titles all in italics.
  5. The next line are the names of the companies I helped found, again all in italics.
  6. Next and in bold is the companies’ tag line, moniker, elevator pitch, call it what you will.
  7. The names of the companies I helped found. First the group I run, NextStage Evolution, followed by our sister company, NextStage Global. These are both in italics.
  8. Likewise, the next two lines are addresses and phone numbers. Again, NextStage Evolution precedes NextStage Global. These are also in italics.
  9. What comes next is a block. This block contains links to my latest writings, where I’ll be talking, presenting, things I want readers to take notice of. Note that it is visually separated from what comes before and after.
  10. The last item is the disclaimer, the “you have to be this tall to get on this ride” piece.

Everything in that signature file has meaning, and I do mean “everything”. One of the disciplines I study, Semiotics, is all about signs and their meanings. NextStage’s technologies and tools are based on how humans communicate with each other through signs, and my signature is full of them.

One of my mentors would often have us pile in his car and drive around. He would point to signs on the road and ask us what they meant, what were they communicating beyond the obvious.

Here’s an example; drive out of the center of Tyngsboro, MA, towards Rt 3 and you’ll encounter a sign indicating where to turn to get on Rt 3 South. There is a place named on the sign. Tyngsboro is about thirty miles from Boston, between 25-40 minutes drive depending on traffic.

But the place named on the sign is “Burlington”, a town about halfway between Tyngsboro and Boston. The sign is very old, probably from the 1950’s or early 1960s.

What is communicated beyond the obvious? Perhaps that when the sign was placed there getting to Burlington was more important than getting to Boston for most Tyngsborians? Was it possible that when the sign was placed people thought of Burlington as a necessary destination on the way to Boston, kind of a way-station demarcating a necessary stop on the greater journey?

More importantly, what did your understanding of the sign reveal about you, to yourself and others?

As my mentor often told me, “Everything is a sign. You just have to figure out what the meaning is.” Or “meanings are” in most cases. I wrote about the silences between musical notes and the spaces between words and images in Shared Traits of Great Web Design. The same is true here, with the concept of silences and whitespace coming through as “what’s not in the signature file is as important as what’s in it”. A small signature file, one that is sparse, tells just as much if not more as one as verbose as the example above.

Using Your “SEND” glands? Part 4a or “Where is he going with this?”

One of my regular readers (thanks, Kim!) emailed me to let me know that this Using Your “SEND” Glands? arc is fascinating and … confusing. Reading over her comments I was amused. Yes, this arc as written is confusing, I’m sure.

I usually don’t write these arcs right when I’m still excited about our research findings because (and Kim and others have noticed this) I’m like a kid telling his parents about all the fun he had at the carnival; all excitement and exuberance and the parents have to slow the child down to understand what he’s talking about.

That offered, my thanks to Kim for slowing me down. I’m going to use this post to provide some overview and explanation of this arc for readers with an interest. Do I still think these are exciting findings? Oh, yes, very much so.

So catching my breath…

NextStage spends a lot of its time researching how people communicate. We answer questions such as “Why was this arc fascinating and confusing?” for clients and ourselves. Much of what we do is directly applicable to online and offline marketing efforts, how, where, when and why the two should remain separate and merge, things like that.

Often we’re asked to analyze email exchanges with the goal of answering, “Is the sender of this email sincere?” This is a question asked more and more often by companies or individuals wanting to engage in some kind of partnership with another company or individual.

Think of it this way; you meet someone and just don’t feel comfortable with the person. You can’t point at something they’ve done to make you uncomfortable, it’s just how you feel. Because you can’t pinpoint anything you go ahead with whatever agreement you were planning only to discover later that you should have followed your instincts. People who do follow their instincts sometimes say they “had a sense” about the other person.

One of the things NextStage’s Evolution TechnologyTM lets NextStage do is very clearly pinpoint what is causing those instincts to trigger and you to get that “sense” about someone else, only in these cases, NextStage is doing it to online and offline communications.

Companies use this to refine their marketing efforts (making sure prospects and target audiences feel comfortable with marketing material) and to get a help them in negotiations. You can find an example of this on our Comments page;

“NextStage Evolution has repeatedly saved us time and money during contract negotiations and the interviewing process. It’s ability to find hidden meanings in what people write has always helped us win the upper hand.” – John Scullin, Director, Board of Health, Stoneham, MA

More and more companies are using our Resume Reader tool for this exact same purpose. This resume reader tool helps job seekers remove unintentional, offputting messages from their resumes and helps potential employers rapidly find the top candidates for a given position.

So NextStage has these tools we’ve been using to help companies and individuals communicate better and one of the places we’ve been applying these tools is to emails. One of the things these tools very clearly indicated was that the email signature files often influence readers far more strongly than the content of the emails themselves even when the reader stated they paid no attention to the signature file.

This caused us to turn our attention very strongly to what people were putting in their signature files and to match that information against psychographs of these same people. We’ve been making suggestions to certain individuals who were willing to take part in testing what we learned and the results were striking.

I’ll share one example that stands out strongly in my mind; a woman had been seeking a job for over a year with no luck. She was well qualified for every job she applied for yet never got a nibble. We suggested three changes to her signature file and she had three job offers within a week. One company contacted her the day she sent her resume to them and had her in for first and second level interviews that same week. Two other companies started calling every few days to get her in for interviews.

As I wrote above, her results were dramatic and we’re telling people that their mileage may vary. Never-the-less, these results are occuring with others.

So sometime last week NextStage decided yes, okay, it was time to go public with this research. We’d seen in the journals that other people had done similar research and we incorporated their findings with ours, seeing where things fit and where they didn’t, refining our results where other researchers had done tests we hadn’t, so on and so forth.

The end result of all this is that people’s use their email signature files the way animals use scent glands; to mark territory, to show dominance, things like that. Fascinating, once you see it applied and showing it applied is something I want to do in this arc.

That offered, let me clarify a bit and describe what’s on the horizon.

In Part 1 I hoped to lay the foundation for this arc. I used three “neutralized” email signatures as examples in that post and I didn’t explain them because (to me) that would have been a violation of trust.

Let me explain. I didn’t ask the people who owned those neutralized signatures if I could use them. Because I didn’t ask them and because they or others might recognize the signatures even though neutralized, I won’t share our findings on them.

Thus they are there only to show how similar they are and how a pattern develops and is propagated throughout cyber-time and -space.

In Part 2 I start explaining the concepts of psycho-social distance. These concepts are very important to the information and analysis that follows. I also included a caveat that I would be using my own signature file as the example going further. This choice and statement goes back to the reason I didn’t offer any analysis of the neutralized signature files in Part 1.

To that end, I’ve learned to share of myself either not at all or openly, to not be ashamed by what I’ve done or how I’ve lived. To do so would be worthless and foolish, don’t you think? I’ve lived as I’ve lived and nothing I do can change that. Because this is my belief (mind you, I’m not proud of all I’ve done, merely accepting and understanding of it) I know that some things I share or might share of myself can be troublesome to others. This is the reason for the caveat and the anecdote about my journal writing. Share without being afraid.

In Part 3 I go into detail about passageways distance.

In Part 4 I provided my signature file as it existed at the start of this arc for the example going forward. I also included a rudimentary analysis of the signature file as it existed. What followed was a “headaches” if you will of what to look for and how to go looking.

Part 5 will start with what we learn about me from the very start of my signature file. That entry ends with my saying “Ouch!”.

Part 6 addresses the question of personality and how it comes through in signature files.

Part 7 addresses what the signature file reveals about the sender’s self-concept.

Part 8 addresses the sender’s concept of their place in their immediate environment.

Part 9 looks at company tag lines and what they mean.

Part 10 looks at the meanings of multiple affiliations (should they exist).

Part 11 considers the most obvious and direct communication in a signature file, the information block.

Part 12 looks at the caveat that appears at the bottom of many signature files, why it’s there and its meaning in the sender’s psyche.

The last entry makes some reconstructs the signature file using what we’ve learned to communicate both better and more completely.

Happy reading and, yes, more to follow…

Using Your “SEND” glands? Part 5

It turns out that most people use signature files, images, etc., in much the same way an animal will use its scent glands — to mark something, to show ownership, territory, boundaries, dominance, submission, equality and acceptance among other things. This aspect of signature files is non-conscious and non-intentional. In all things done by humans there’s a non-conscious and conscious component. NextStage’s value proposition comes from being able to synchronize those components because they’re often in conflict without people knowing it. An example of this conflict and its resolution is given in Site-Penetration Up 225%, Time-On-Site Up 300%, Conversions Up 20% in Four Months.

I had to laugh when I read that as a result of this research was that people and businesses mark their emails via signature files much the same way animals spoor their territory. Long, long ago (in internet time), one of my assistants likened blogging to dogs marking their territories in Where’s my Social Network?: The Reluctant Blogger, Part 3.

The research goes a little further than suggesting signature files are animals marking their territories, though, and one of the places it goes made me laugh. A lot of companies put what they think is important on their websites, not what their prospects and clients think is important.

It turns out the same is true with signature files. Most people put what they think is important in their signature files, not what people reading the sender’s email might find important. This aspect of signature files is conscious and intentional.

This offered, let’s analyze the signature file above piece by piece.

The sender has a somewhat large signature file at fifteen lines (counting blank lines but not counting word wraps). It contains a lot of information. However, the signature file uses a smaller font than the message. (I’m smiling as I share this analysis, by the way…)

The smaller font indicates that the sender (that’s me, remember?) believes they are not as important as the message they’re sending, something like “Spare the messenger for the message’s sake” applied to email exchanges.

However, the size of the signature file in lines (or the size of the graphic for image-based signature files, or space taken up by any combination of the two) indicates that the sender believes they’re someone of some achievement (I wrote before that I had a healthy ego. Ouch!).

We haven’t even analyzed the content yet. We’ve only gotten to the layout and we’ve learned that the sender believes the message is more important than the messenger and that the messenger is pretty important, too. Note that both of these items are at the non-conscious, non-intentional level.

Okay, I’m going to rest and lick my wounds before I get to the actual content of my signature file.

Using Your “SEND” glands? Part 6

So far we’ve learned that the sender believes the message is more important than the messenger and that the messenger is pretty important, too, and that both of these items are at the non-conscious, non-intentional level.

The sender includes a quote in their signature file as the first intentional, conscious piece of information. The quote is also visually separated from the rest of the signature file, so its position as the first intentional signature file element and its visual separation from the rest of the signature file’s content indicate the sender believes it is an important piece of information.

I know the sender so I know that quote changes periodically. Therefore the quote isn’t as important as the fact that the quote is there.

Recognizing that this is an intentional part of the communication of the signature file, what is the sender’s intention for including a quote? I’d suggest taking a step back. The sender isn’t including a quote, per se, they’re including a communication element. What are they communicating? Obviously something they believe is important. Again, not the quote but the inclusion of the quote.

The inclusion of a quote is important because it achieves some purpose in the sender’s mind. But what is that purpose? Because the quotes are included, they are important, because they are important there’s a good chance they’re not randomly selected for inclusion. Because they are not randomly selected the sender is communicating something about themselves.

Thus the sender is not communicating a quote, per se, but an indication of themselves. Literally, the sender is sharing something about themselves for those willing to accept the offering.

Hmm…interesting, but signature files should be part of your personal and professional marketing arsenal. One has to wonder if the inclusion of a quote adds or subtracts value from the overall communication as it is essentially a statement of either confidence or vulnerability; the sender is projecting a piece of themselves into the virtual world, much like explorers who journey into unknown lands. In either case, the sender is exposing a part of themselves and one must determine its worth in a business communication.

Using Your “SEND” glands? Part 7

So far we’ve determined the meaning of font size, file length and the use of a quote in the signature file. Here we go into the “I/Me/Mine”ness of an email signature.

The next line in the signature file is


Joseph Carrabis, Chairman, CRO and Founder


ie, the sender’s name as an email link and their title(s). Note that this is all contained on a single line. This placement is an indication of equality, that in the sender’s mind (and this is probably a non-conscious, non-intentional decision) their name is synonymous with their title, that they are one in the same. This kind of identification between person and function can indicate the individual’s a workaholic, very much enjoys their work or many other things. What we do know is that the sender sees their name and their title as having equal meaning.

You might remember that in Part 1 only the college administrator didn’t equate their name with their function. The college administrator is a female and gender plays a major role how signature files are laid out.

Does the sender communicate primarily with their own gender, with equal numbers of both genders or primarily outside their gender? Each element plays a role in the conscious and non-conscious, intentional and non-intentional communication that is our signature file.

Using Your “SEND” glands? Part 8

The next line in the signature file is


NextStage Evolution/NextStage Global


Because the sender places their name and title above the company(s) name the communication is that the sender believes they are more important than the organization they work for. As business is based on relationships between individuals, this is a good thing.

But notice that the company(s) name(s) are visually linked to the individual’s name and titles by the use of italics


Joseph Carrabis, Chairman, CRO and Founder
NextStage Evolution/NextStage Global


This is another statement of identity. Here we learn that the sender believes they are more important than their organization (visual hierarchy) and that they are also a part of that same organization (visual inclusion via use of italics).

Using Your “SEND” glands? Part 9

Here we learn what people think their strengths are.

I will start here by sharing something one of my mentors gave me; Your every strength is your weakness and your every weakness is your strength.

I’ve shared that with several people through the years. Some understand it immediately and others don’t seem to ken it regardless of their efforts. Basically people will do things based on what they know they can do.

If they’re good mechanics and they hear a rattle in a car the “good mechanic” part of their psyche comes out and they starting thinking “Is that a muffler sound? Is that a transmission sound? Is that a carburetor sound?” and so on. They don’t think to look in the backseat, on the floor and at the child’s toy rattling now and again. This is an example of going with a strength that also creates a weakness.

You’ve heard about Maslow’s Hammer? If all you have is a hammer then everything looks like a nail? This is the ultimate statement of a strength as a weakness.

What about a weakness as a strength? If you’re presented with a challenge and you know you lack the skills to directly address it (a weakness) then you’ll figure out ways to solve it that bypass your lack or skills (thus allowing you to find a strength you didn’t know you had).

Much of my training involves repeatedly recognizing strengths and weaknesses, my own and others, and helping people learn alternatives to both. I mention this here because signature files are statements of identity and the use of bold, italics, etc., have rich meanings when used with identity statements.

Here, the next line in the signature file is


NextStage: Predictive Intelligence, Persuasion Engineering, Interactive Analytics and Behavioral Metrics


The sender is making a statement, a strong or strength statement because bold is used, that they are comfortable in the worlds or areas of Predictive Intelligence, Persuasion Engineering, Interactive Analytics and Behavioral Metrics, and that the sender’s company excels in these areas.

Remember that this is a statement the sender is making. Who knows if the receiver will have any idea of what those terms means, the sender is staking them out as being in the sender’s province (the dog marking its territory, establishing its dominance). Most likely the sender chose those terms because they had meaning to the sender and the sender hoped they had meaning to the recipients. If not a direct meaning, at least a recognition of meaning.

What is the weakness? All the terms and expressions that the sender could have used but did not. There is no mention of web analytics, business development, teaching, … . It doesn’t matter that the sender might be skilled in these areas or that the sender’s company might excel in these areas, all that matters is that the sender included some things and not others.

Using Your “SEND” glands? Part 10

Welcome to Part 10 of the Using Your “SEND” Glands? arc. We’re continuing the analysis of a signature files and what they’re communicating, whether the sender intends the communication or not. As with so many things, the bulk of what is communicated is communicated at a non-conscious, non-intentional level. This means people will be responding to subtleties in a person’s email signature without realizing it and without you, as the sender of an email message, intending it and is true whether your sending your own business email or your company is producing an email campaign. Follow this arc from beginning to end and you’ll know a great deal more about dealing with business contacts than simply what’s discussed in their emails.

Here we learn about priorities and affiliations.

We’ll take the next two lines in the signature file together.


http://www.nextstagevolution.com


http://www.nextstageglobal.com


There are many reasons these company affiliations appear in the order they do and we can never rule out pure chance. However, based on what we’ve learned about the author of this signature file so far it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to suggest that the ordering is intentional. It could even be intentional and non-conscious and that would be an interesting discussion in itself.

We know that NextStage Evolution is the author’s own company. Perhaps it comes first because of prideful elements, perhaps because it was formed first, perhaps a simple alpha-sort placed it first. Perhaps we’ll never know the reason, we’ll only know that it appears first in the list so in some way, shape or form we know it has a priority over NextStage Global in the author’s mind.

This may seem a niggling. Let me share another anecdote about my mentors.

We were observing people in a room, one of whom, a woman, was engaged in a conversation with a very gregarious gentleman. The gentleman was actually a visiting professor in my field of study and what we were watching was when the woman would decide this open, friendly, elegantly dressed, mannerly gentleman stepped over some boundary only she knew about.

At a certain point the woman, who had a sweater draped over her shoulders, pulled the sweater tighter around her and smiled at the man but not a face on, direct smile. This was a smile in which the woman faced one direction, slightly askew to the man, and watched him from an angle, “out of the corner of her eye” as it were.

I said that whatever the man said, it was at this moment that he crossed some line with her. “She pulled her sweater tighter and smiled without facing him,” I offered.

A fellow student disagreed. Perhaps she simply felt chilled.

My professor nodded and said, “It doesn’t matter that she felt chilled, it matters that she felt chilled now.” Remember that in Semiotics, everything is a sign, everything has meaning. All that’s required is that you understand what the sign means. If you don’t understand what he sign means at least be aware that the sign exists and has meaning. The actions of others familiar with the sign will help you understand what it means to them and in time you’ll learn what it means to you.

So the sender creates a priority in their corporate affiliations by separating the company names onto two lines. But the sender also encloses both company names in italics and in links. This indicates they are same yet different in the sender’s mind.

I won’t devote a separate entry in this arc to the next two lines in this signature file


US Offices: 49 Brinton Dr/Nashua, NH 03064-1274/603 577 4575 voice/603 791 4627 fax

Canadian Offices: 7045 Edwards Blvd, Suite 401/Mississauga, Ontario, L5S 1X2/905 564 6929 x300 voice/905 564 9468 fax


The theme mentioned above applies to these signature file lines, as well.

Using Your “SEND” glands? Part 11

Here we learn what the sender believes will demonstrate their knowledge and experience in their chosen field.

The next item to consider is an information “block”.



Again and because I know the author of this signature file, I know that these items change from time to time. What is always presented is three to four elements, usually the author’s latest writings, a link to the author’s blog and any future speaking engagements or recent television appearances.

The purpose of this block is remarkably direct — probably the most direct, obvious, conscious and intentional communication in the entire signature file. The author is drawing attention to items that (the author feels) demonstrate their expertise and knowledge base. Many people might not include such an information block in their signature file and experience has demonstrated that people will indeed look at these items and often click on them, especially if the items are topical.

Using Your “SEND” glands? Part 12

The last item to consider is the disclaimer that usually appears as the last item in an email signature file.


This email message and any attachments are confidential and may be privileged. If you are not the intended recipient, please notify NextStage by replying to this message or by sending an email to support@nextstagevolution.com and destroy all copies of this message and any attachments. Thank you.


Being at the bottom of the signature file is an indication that the author doesn’t believe this is a high priority item. This is also indicated by the even smaller font size than the rest of the signature file.

However, we must note that it is included, therefore the author does believe it has some value albeit little value to the sender.

Okay. We’ve deconstructed the heck out of this signature file. In the next post in this arc we reconstruct the signature file so that it plays a better role in the author’s professional marketing arsenal and consider the question, “Does anybody actually look at those things?”.

Using Your “SEND” glands? Finale

In this last entry in this arc we’re going to reconstruct my signature file so that it communicates a better conscious and intentional message, essentially synchronizing the non-conscious, non-intentional and conscious, intentional elements so that a unified message is transmitted to people who receive emails from this sender.

You can feel free to apply the concepts outlined in this arc to your own email signature files, as well.

The original signature file can be seen (wa-a-ay) above.

The goal will be to retain the sender’s personality while making the signature file a more compelling marketing unit. Here are the modifications we’ll make:

  1. Simplify the company identifiers to a single place of reference. Most people contact the author at NextStage Evolution so use that as the place of reference.
  2. Place all contact information with the first mention of the company name
  3. Modify the tag line so you don’t need a background in anthrolingualsemiotics to figure out what NextStage’s value proposition is

The end result?



If we all insisted on precise definitions we all would be speechless almost all of the time. Definitions and precise theoretical constructs are the final product, not the starting point of inquiry. – Lawrence Weiskrantz

Joseph Carrabis, Chairman, CRO and Founder


NextStage Evolution/49 Brinton Dr/Nashua, NH 03064-1274/603 577 4575 voice/603 791 4627 fax

NextStage: Results. Nothing else.

This email message and any attachments are confidential and may be privileged. If you are not the intended recipient, please notify NextStage by replying to this message or by sending an email to support@nextstagevolution.com and destroy all copies of this message and any attachments. Thank you.


Another question which needs to be asked at the end of this research is “Does anybody read signature files?” The answer there is a definite yes. Again I’ll use my own experience as an example: I started using the new signature file and received a phone call that same day. The person — a regular correspondent — noticed the change and liked it. What prompted the change? they wanted to know.

People at the outer levels of relationship and intimacy will read them to learn about you, who you are and what you do. People at the closer levels of relationship and intimacy will read them to find out what you’ve been up to and if there’s something about you they should be paying attention to.

You know…I’ll bet I’ll stop getting emails for a while once this arc gets published…

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