Monthly Archives: April 2010 | Force 5
  • Left Brains.

  • Right Brains.

  • Brand Soul.

Monthly Archives: April 2010

Apr
29

What's your Story?

Posted on April 29, 2010 by ddefreeuw

I just finished an amazing book.  It really made me think. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life, by Donald Miller. It was about the author working with two men, Ben and Steve, who wanted
to make a movie of Miller's life.  It was during the discussions of his "real life" he discovered their desire to edit it into what makes a good story. They wanted his life to have punch and meaning. As Don worked with Ben and Steve he came to realize his life was boring. In the course of creating the fictional Don for the movie, he was creating the person he wanted to be, someone worth telling a story about.

Don ended up biking across the US, hiking the Inca trail and searching for and finding the father he had never met. Don made a conscious decision to create a better story from the life he was living. The basic structure for a good story has a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it. He took a look at what he wanted and then went for it!

This book made me think of my own life. While I have some pretty cool chapters in my story -- travel, learning how to sail, driving a race car, going 139 mph in a jet boat, owning a business and being with my grandfather when he died. I
look at my life now. What am I NOT doing? What scares me? How have I let obligations and expectations neglect my story? It's not about making things up to talk about, or doing things because they "sound" good, heck you
don't have to hike the Inca trail unless you want to... but we should always strive to consciously live an enriched, authentic life.

I think it works the same way with business. The CEO needs to be mindful of the story that is being told about their company. That story changes over time, so being aware of your story, or brand, and what it is saying about your business is critical. There is a great line in the book, "...a story is based on what people think is important, so when we live a story, we are telling people what we think is important." Your brand tells the story of what your company thinks is important. Is that service, innovation, philanthropy?  Take a look at your brand story, is it reflecting who you are? Have you lost sight of what's important, what makes your company distinct?

We can help. With two Certified Brand Strategists on staff, we can help your company look inward and review your story. Maybe the brand story that's being told should change, to reflect the direction the company is taking... Give us a call-and let us help tell your story.

Apr
28

Extreme Database Makeover

Posted on April 28, 2010 by force5

Move...That...Database

Situation: Upgraded servers, so we needed to move database tables, views and stored procedures from a SQL Server 2005 machine to a SQL Server 2008 machine. We wanted to go through each table, view and stored procedure one by one in order to only move objects that are still in use. We needed a way to do that as accurately and quickly as possible.

Solution: We made use of the SQL Server Script Wizard. The Script Wizard generated the CREATE scripts for each object. We were able to either cut/paste and run the scripts we needed on the new server, or delete the scripts if we didn't need them. This made the process seamless and straight-forward.

Details:

Accessing the Script Wizard

In SQL Server Management Studio right-click on a database. Go to Tasks > Generate Scripts... This will open up a wizard dialog box.

Using the Script Wizard

The first screen allows you to select the database you want to use. On this screen you can also fast-track to the finish by checking "Script all objects in the selected database". This will create scripts for all Roles, Users, Schemas, Tables, Views and Stored Procedures. We won't check that in this article, but that useful option is there if that is what you are trying to accomplish.

Choose Script Options

After you select your database and click Next you will come to an Options screen. We were able to use the default settings here. But there are some useful options to note.

  • Generate scripts for dependent objects(Default: False) - Use this to ensure dependent objects are also scripted for the objects that you select
  • Script Create(Default: True) - Cornerstone of this wizard. This enables creation of scripts for the objects you select.
  • Script Logins(Default: False) - Generates logins for the selected database
  • Script Object-Level Permissions(Default: False) - ***This is an important option*** Set this to True in order to generate the permission scripts (GRANT EXECUTE ON) if you are generating stored procedure scripts.
  • Script Data(Default: False) - Set to True if you want to script out INSERT statements for all data in selected tables.
  • Script Foreign Keys(Default: True) - Scripts foreign keys for tables selected
  • Script Primary Keys(Default: True) - Scripts primary keys for tables selected
  • Script Triggers(Default: False) - Scripts any triggers that are related to tables selected

Choose Object Types

This is where you select what object types you want to generate scripts for (Database roles, Schema, Stored procedures, Tables, Users, Views).

Following this you will be taken through screens for each object type you selected.  Here is where you select the specific objects whose scripts will be generated.

Output Option

Here you can either Script to a file, Script to Clipboard or Script to a New Query Window.  We scripted to a query window and that worked great.

Finished

Go to Finish and the wizard will generate the scripts that you selected.

Notes

The constraints and permission assignments are all located in the last section of the generated scripts.  This is to ensure that the objects have been created before trying to assign permissions to them.

MSDN Article: How to: Generate a Script

In Conclusion

This wizard is a powerful, yet simple tool that makes data migration more manageable.  Trying to do this task object by object would be very cumbersome and impractical.

If you are in need of any advice or have a data migration project that you need help with please feel free to contact us here at Force 5.

Apr
22

Its Springtime! - Time to dust off that Brand.

Posted on April 22, 2010 by dmorgan

With spring time comes spring cleaning. Dusting off the shelves, cleaning out the garage (still need to do that!...), and just a general wash down and clean up - it’s work, but it really feels good when you are all done!

Spring is a great time of year. Finally, FINALLY, the color green returns, flowers sprout, and everyone has a little more spring in their step as the sun gradually warms up the world.

So how about spring cleaning your brand? In the winter of 09, (actually all last year) many companies “hunkered down” just to make it through the recession. Amidst the layoffs and reduced sales, marketing and promotional activities also took a hit. Even though studies have shown that those who kept up their marketing activities in bad times come out of recessionary periods earlier and faster than those who didn’t –many companies just couldn’t do what they needed to do in regards to Brand building and marketing.

Now’s the time to get started.

Your brand is you life blood, it’s who you are—the soul of your company. EVERY marketing tactic, whether it’s a web site, a business card, or how you answer the phone is part of your brand.

Dusting off your Brand-

Let’s look at some basics to get you started this spring. We ask the question of our clients—Who are you, What do you do, and Why does it matter? These questions seem simple enough—but sometimes hard to answer—especially that last one.
You’ve heard the phrase “elevator speech”. That’s when someone says “Tell me about your company” when at a party, a trade show, or at lunch---or yeah, on the elevator. Do you have a concise statement that can answer all three questions? Do some work this spring on your elevator speech. The process of thinking through this is invaluable. After the elevator speech, you might be asked—“Wow, tell me more…” That’s when you might want to tell your back story…

Back Story-

I really like this concept. Every Brand should have a Back Story. Basically, the premise is that every brand has a story—a story of how they got started, why they do what they do…. Brands don’t start at launch, they’ve been around awhile, and they have a story. And though a brand’s franchise is an important statement that tells us who the brand is, it doesn’t tell how the brand was born, or why it came to be. That’s why every brand needs a back story. Or else, why should anyone trust that brand? After analyzing a few brands’ websites and history, it was easy to see the ingredients in a great brand story: information delivered straight from the source and authentic. With authenticity comes transparency and credibility. The voice of the back story – whether that’s the company president or the employees also lends itself to credibility.

Look at these Stories:
One of my favorite companies is Kashi. Great marketing. Their story is told from both their marketing team and their product developers, inviting consumers to “meet us” on their website. Did you know they only have 70 employees?
Another one is Ocean Spray. Their story is told by a collective of three cranberry growers, citing their history as well as the history of cranberries and grapefruit.

And the back story isn’t just a timeline and history of when Grandpa started the company, it’s the story of why.
What our brand samples are doing is a key example of a brand connecting with consumers on their level—a personal level. They’re not talking down to consumers – they’re talking with consumers. And with that approach, it opens up dialogue between the brand and the consumer.

So, as part of your spring cleaning, do you have a concise elevator speech and brand back story? Sit out on the porch, watch the season come alive, and dust off your brand. Happy Spring from Force 5!

Apr
14

I Need a New Website - Now What Do I Do?

Posted on April 14, 2010 by force5

You finally decide your company needs a new website, but you have no idea who to call. You check the yellow pages, Google web design, ask friends and family, and you’re still overwhelmed with all the choices. Who do you call when your brother-in-laws sisters boyfriend will do the job for $500. “We Are Web Sites”, the best web shop on the internet, will build your site for $2,000 and, “The Interactive Agency” down the street wants ten times that amount for a website and an integrated marketing campaign.

It doesn’t matter if you’re an online expert who knows all the new technology or you know about this “World Wide Web thingy” that’s kind of cool, picking a company to build your website can be a daunting task. In the following article I will explain some of the key differences between a web shop and an interactive agency and what you should expect from both.

Your Brother-in-Laws Sisters Boyfriend

Don’t do it! No really; don’t do this. After months of stress and frustration (because the basketball game with his buddies was more important than working on your site) you will end up with a website that looks like, well, you paid $500 to your brother-in-laws sisters boyfriend to build. Remember your website is the face of your company to millions of online people. Is this the image you want to portray?

The Web Shop

There are several different types of web shops. There is the design centric shop, the technology centric shop and the canned – just add your own copy and pictures and have an online presence today – type of shop. With the design centric shop your site will look great. It will portray exactly what the designer thinks of your company. With the technology centric shop your site will have all the bells and whistles whether you use them or not, and with the canned shop you will be forced to form your site around their cookie cutter solution.

No matter which of the three “web shop” solutions you choose there are several constants you can be sure of. Your business needs, determining who your consumer is and what they are looking for, search engine optimization, and your overall marketing plan will not be considered. Now, I’m not saying these are bad designers and programmers. They are probably great at what they do. What I am saying is that they either don’t have the time, desire, or knowledge to create the true online tool your business and your customers deserve.

The Interactive Agency

The interactive agency approaches websites as an extension of your entire marketing plan. They focus on your brand, and integrating your digital marketing campaigns into your overall marketing plan. The starting point for any interactive agency is learning who you are, learning your competition and, understanding your consumer. The second step is information design. Interactive agencies take what they learned in the first step and organize it in a way that creates straight forward navigation, and presents information on your website to best meet your consumer’s needs. This is the heart of a consumer centric website. For a detailed look at consumer centric websites watch for my next blog. Step three consists of the actual site design and build. Interactive agencies utilize a team of highly skilled designers and programmers to create your website. The design team creates an aesthetic, yet simple to use, look and feel focused on keeping the consumer engaged. The programming team takes into account consumer usability, accessibility and, search engine optimization. When complete your website will pass all validation testing, and will be well guarded against common hacking practices.

The job of the interactive agency doesn’t end with completion of your website. Your Website is only the beginning, the creation of what should become the backbone of your entire marketing plan. Now it’s time to look at, among other things, social media, pay per click campaigns, banner ads, email campaigns, product specific micro sites, personalized URL’s (PURLS) and, integration of digital marketing into traditional marketing efforts. The interactive agency is never far away. As your strategic partner they will routinely review, test and recommend upgrades to ensure it remains up to date, relative in search engine results and, in compliance with the latest best practice recommendations.

So now you understand that yes, anyone can build a website but to get the most out of your marketing efforts an interactive agency is the best solution. To find out how your business could benefit from using a full service interactive agency call Force 5 today at 574-234-2060 for send us an email at info@discoverforce5.com to schedule your discovery meeting.

Apr
05

Generating creative ideas for your brand or company

Posted on April 5, 2010 by force5

Lately, we’ve been busy – busy ideating that is.

Ideating – which is a fancier term for brainstorming – is a core necessity or foundational step within an advertising and marketing agency’s process of generating creative ideas.

In almost every case, these creative ideas deliver a need or provide a solution to a client problem.  However, good ideas don’t have to be limited to only serving clients (although being paid for good ideas is crucially important).  Reinventing the company website, modifying new business collateral materials or working on a pro-bono campaign can be extremely empowering and beneficial in boosting morale.  Simply put, creative ideation is an enjoyable way to get lots of fresh ideas out on the table and get everyone thinking and pulling together!

Where do you start?  What are best practices?  Sounds like a perfect opportunity for another Force 5 – Top 5 list.  Without further ado, the following rules serve as our guiding light to productive ideating:

  1. Come prepared to participate
    • The meeting requester should provide a pre-reading assignment (like an initial creative brief or client contact report) so everyone knows the key objective(s) in advance
    • Do some preliminary research.  Consider the basics like the brand or the company and their competition– but dig deeper
    • Independently ideate and bring at least one, well thought-out idea to the meeting
  2. The moderator is the captain
    • Arrange for 75-90 minutes of discussion.  I find that one hour is often not enough, but participant’s schedules may dictate the desired duration
    • Have a plan!  Think about what you must take away from the meeting by scripting key questions in advance
    • Keep it moving.  Don’t interrupt or cutoff a speaker, but after a specific idea or topic has been exhausted transition to the next discussion point
  3. All ideas are good ideas
    • Withhold criticism.  Someone else’s idea may spark a separate idea later in the process – so don’t automatically discard an idea because you don’t think it has merit
    • Specifically avoid saying “no” and “we can’t” – these words can derail the session because the people being told no will often shut down and stop contributing to the discussion
    • Instead, build on the idea by implementing the “yes, but…” scenario – “Yes (I hear what you’re saying, even though I might not agree) but perhaps we could consider…”
  4. Capture as many ideas as possible
    • Use large post-it notes or a white board to capture all of the ideas in writing, so everyone can see what is being encapsulated and can build on the ideas later in the process
    • Try to organize ideas by category but remember the most important thing is to capture as much info as possible – if you can’t easily categorize simply jot-down in chronological order
    • If need be, politely stop the person speaking and ask them to succinctly restate their idea to make certain  you’ve accurately depicted all of their key points
  5. You’re done, now what?  (post-ideation)
    • Immediately following, write up all of the ideas and distribute to everyone who participated.  Ask them again to confirm that you’ve accurately captured all of their ideas
    • Time permitting, leave the ideas up on the wall – this allows people to come back and build on all of the ideas afterwards (because sometimes it’s good to step away, then come back)
    • Determine if another ideation meeting should be scheduled.  Perhaps you didn’t’ get as far as you would have liked, or maybe you’d like to drill down even further

Need help generating creative ideas for your brand or company?  Let Force 5 play a role in assisting you and your organization in meeting and exceeding your marketing objectives.  We’ve love to ideate a solution for you!