Monday, March 26, 2012

A Pinteresting Approach to the FDA Social Media Guidelines

When Twitter first came on the scene, I challenged myself to meet and converse with a complete stranger every day for 3 months and then tweet about it (hence my Twitter handle, @talkswstrangers).

My latest challenge to self, (prompted in part by my role as editor of this blog) has been to keep even more on top of what’s going on in social media. I tasked myself with this for 2 reasons:

      1.    Because I’m constantly working in pursuit of a higher Klout score.
      2.    Because part of my job is to find new social media opportunities for extrovertic’s clients within the confines of the FDA social media guidelines for pharmaceutical marketing.

To accomplish my goals, I decided to spend some time every day looking for new social media sites, becoming a member, and participating in whatever it is they are offering. My latest find, Pinterest, describes itself as a “virtual pinboard” that:

allows you to organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. You can browse pinboards created by other people to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.

What’s so cool about this site is that, other than appeasing my need to gaze at extensive visuals of beautiful clothing and delicious-looking pastries, Pinterest also offers interesting opportunities for the healthcare industry at large.

On my latest visit, I spent some time on the Pinterest healthcare board. Working at a healthcare marketing agency like extrovertic, this particular board piqued my interest. Since there are no rules about or limitations on what qualifies as a certain category, there’s an unspoken anything-goes mentality. When I looked, people had pinned images of: 
      ·      X-rays
      ·      Paul Farmer’s book Pathologies of Power
      ·      Florence Nightingale

The point is, peoples’ personal perceptions of what ‘makes’ healthcare is left open to interpretation via a site like Pinterest. To that end, I think that healthcare and pharmaceutical companies (and agencies!) may have an interesting outlet to tap here. Create a pinboard about a medical condition or category and see what people pin to it. People who suffer from various conditions can have the opportunity to visually represent how they feel—it can be the mood board of the future. Marketers can then derive keen insights into what people are saying about certain categories. It’s market research in its basest form. And yet another way for extrovertic to develop a deeper understanding of our target demographics.

I’m not saying that Pinterest can address or solve all the FDA regulatory issues via social media. Or that it won’t present its own slew of problems. But it seems at the very least worth exploring. This was probably one of my most productive self-challenges to date. Making a pinboard can be an enlightening experience!


Monday, March 19, 2012

Why Did I Do That?

About a month ago, I realized I was in need of some refocusing and re-centering. Since it was winter in New York City, the prospect of a trip to California was a fabulous one. So I found a meditation retreat in Cali and off I went!

When I arrived at the meditation center, one of the themes of the weekend was “pay attention to your intention.” My first thought was, “What the heck does that mean?” But once I managed to reign in my thoughts, sit quietly, and meditate (always a difficult task for an extrovert!), I realized the importance of these words. If you are in touch with your intention at any given moment, no matter what the activity, you come to terms with what it is that you’re really after.

For instance, I think that I need to go to the gym more often.  If what I really intend to do is go to the gym, I need to make a plan, right?

      1.     Find a gym.
      2.     Pick a time to go to said gym (and incorporate into already hectic schedule).
      3.     Pack workout clothes and bring to work.

So why is it that even when I define my goals and identify an approach, I don’t always accomplish what I set out to do? It all comes back to intention. When I reflected on this, I realized that I don’t really appreciate the benefits of going to the gym—I’d much rather go for a nice long walk. So I don’t even bother wasting the energy trying to push myself if my intention isn’t really to go.

As I thought about it, I realized that this applies to everything. Intention already has a firm place in my work as a marketer. Every time we put a plan, proposal, or a creative project together, we are thinking about our intention—our objective. And if we’re not fully committed to and aware of our objective from the very beginning, whatever we’re working on generally becomes a mess. We end up changing direction midstream, or have to start over on the creative. 

Intention is the reason extrovertic holds the creative brief in such high regard. I know sometimes it’s a hassle to go through the process of discussing the assignment, waiting for the brief, reviewing it with your team, and then waiting for a revision before finally signing off on it. It’s just a brochure, right?? But if we’re not clear about our intentions, we might end up with a brochure that doesn’t accomplish its goals. So, in the month since I’ve returned, it’s been interesting to reflect on my everyday actions and think about my intentions. Does every extrovertic project maintain the intentions of the brief?

The best part of this experience has been realizing that intention (or lack thereof) is something I maintain complete control over. Whenever I want, I can reorient to infuse everything in my life with a bit more purpose and focus.

Try to take some time to “pay attention to your intention” and apply this to your own life. Experiment a little with thinking about why you approach situations in the way you do. Then try changing your approach and see what happens. I bet you will have some fascinating discoveries. It’s amazing what you can learn on a beautiful February day in California.


Monday, March 12, 2012

A good reason for self-inflicted pain

One of the great things about working at Extrovertic is that we enjoy socializing with each other. We are also fortunate that our office has no shortage of elite organizers who relish the opportunity to turn any prospective activity into an elaborate endeavor.

Towards the end of 2011, when holiday parties started taking their toll on our waistlines, we decided that January would be dedicated to health and the reclamation of our attractive and fit selves. Of course, merely encouraging each other to lose weight and take up exercise wouldn’t be enough—we needed a competition that would bring out our best efforts and ensure a lasting commitment for the entire month. The natural choice for this type of challenge was a Biggest Loser-style contest. After a mass email was sent out asking for participants, 12 people (around a third of our New York office) signed up and put in $50 each towards the pot. The winner would be the person who lost the highest percentage of their total body weight during the month of January. The terms of this competition were highly disputed—we debated whether a single month would be enough time to achieve noticeable weight loss. But acknowledgement that people wanted to limit the duration of their dieting pain led to a consensus on the one-month time period (that and our chief extrovert said she couldn’t stand us squabbling anymore).

It is with great false modesty that I take credit for coming up with this idea. During a conversation with my desk neighbor, I fatuously claimed that I could lose more weight than he could if I were inclined to do so. He disagreed, and the germ of the idea for the extrovertic Biggest Loser competition was born. Remarkably, several people overheard my boasting and the idea took off from there. And despite the sentient nature of my job as extrovertic’s head of IT, I was sure I could shed the pudge with low-carb dieting and cardio exercise—the $600 pot was as good as mine.

The level of intensity shown by most of the competitors took a lot of people by surprise. Working at extrovertic is so fun because the people who work here genuinely like each other. But that didn’t minimize the fact that no one wanted to lose. Competitors cut way back on carbs and calories and still found the energy for heavy cardio workouts (sometimes twice a day). There was only a modicum of sabotage and paranoia in the contest. A banana generously given to a fellow contestant was later mentioned in someone’s blog as treachery.

The final weigh-in showed extrovertic’s true sense of camaraderie. At the final tally on February 3rd, most of us remembered to wear very light clothes to make weight. One person, however, wore jeans. Another offered a co-competitor his own shorts and as a result lost by a 0.45% margin. A sad ending to a generous offer.

In total, as a collective group we lost over 130 lbs, or about 11 lbs per person. Our winner, Desmond Yuen, lost 26 lbs for a winning percentage of 13.9%. I lost 23 lbs and came in a distant 4th place. But everyone lost weight and we all gained an even greater sense of respect for each other. Afterwards, we took our shrunken stomachs to Hill Country BBQ for the closing ceremonies.

-John Yoo

Monday, March 5, 2012

Acting out for branding’s sake

For those of you who don’t know, the extrovertic offices are populated with very lively, hard-working, sociable, and yes, loud people (we are extroverts after all). Our natural exuberance was put to work by taking 2 days to turn strategic, creative, and account resources loose.

The motivation for this mayhem? Designing extrovertic.  

The goal of this project was to redesign the agency to offer a uniquely extrovertic level of service to our clients, and to create a brief for rebranding the agency to better reflect the way we work, communicate, and to explain why we exist. To develop our ideas, we broke into multiple teams. Each was named for different masters of design: 
   ·     Milton Glaser
      o   Famous for designing the “I Love NY” logo
   ·      Jonathan Ive
      o   Famous for his iconic designs at Apple
   ·      Charles and Ray Eames
      o   Famous for their amazing designs and comfortable furniture

The motivation behind naming each team after a famous designer was to get us thinking about elegant yet innovative solutions. Employing a design mentality means going deep into understanding how something should work and then ensuring that its ultimate aesthetic serves a true purpose. Ultimately, we didn’t want extrovertic to merely look different, we wanted to be different. In our small groups, we discussed our professional pasts and presents to discern what worked and what didn’t. Topics we brainstormed included:

   ·      How do you make a lasting impact on a client during and after a pitch?
   ·      What is the extrovertic client journey?
   ·      What makes an agency a fun place to work at?

Lastly, each team presented their findings to the agency as a whole. In true extrovertic style, some of the presentations deviated from the PowerPoint norm— some groups even showed off their acting prowess by presenting their findings in hysterically funny skits.

And the result?

With a deeper understanding of what we stand for and how we work, we developed new agency branding and updated our website (see last week’s blog post). To get a better idea of how it has changed our work and work environment, you can keep reading our blog, or better yet, become a client or extrovert and see for yourself!


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Personifying extrovertic

How is something designed? Just looking at the slender contour of a brand-new BMW as it rolls past or at the façades of some New York City architecture clearly shows that the minds behind these designs didn’t pull their ideas out of thin air. The designers at BMW know they create symbols of power, so their cars look muscular and intimidating. TBS, a network that boasts the slogan “very funny,” recently introduced a bouncing, energetic logo whose rounded edges form a smile. This tactic gives the network a personality more consistent with their evening lineups. There’s always a reason why products and brands look the way they do.

Here at extrovertic, we approached our recent agency redesign in the same spirit. We asked ourselves, ‘Who are we? What do we stand for? And how does that translate into the work we do?’ Taking a structured approach to generating ideas, we sought out inspiration from near and far, including a visit to the Daphne Guinness exhibit at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Our conclusion? extroverts are a tribe of marketing junkies on a mission: creating new ways to engage people in their own health. High-energy thinking, inspired action, and multidimensional capabilities are the norm. extrovertic is the antithesis of stagnant.

Having defined our identity, the next step was to come up with a new logo that reflected it. Our ‘e’ is rounded and nimble in its curvature. Its offset red outline pops, pushing the logo’s dimensionality and communicating the deep and wide experience of our extroverts. On the upper left, three ‘thought bolts’ sprout from the letter e, representing our passion for ideas that move our clients’ business, ease the job of the busy healthcare provider, and improve the lives of our patients. We chose a color palette that is warm to balance out the playfulness and flexibility of the logo, making it clear that we are in the serious business of healthcare. Collectively, these organic elements come together to form a logo that feels like and emotes our personality.

When choosing the color palette for our logo, we utilized our analog process. We came across the work of photographer Mark Laita, who had previously shot a beautiful series of exotic snakes. Thinking that the best way to find a color combination that worked naturally was to find one that occurred naturally, we looked at all the snakes until it was decided that the rhinoceros viper had the look we wanted. You can see the reds, yellows, and browns of the snake mimicked in our logo.

As extroverts, the most important part of this process was making sure that we established a brand and a logo that are true reflections of our personality. So when tasked with the assignment to rebrand extrovertic, we drew from our best natural resources—our collective interests and our proven analog process. The resulting design truly encompasses what extrovertic is about and highlights our unique capabilities.

What does your company’s logo say about you?

-Tom and Nathan