Enough bull, we need empathy

In my last post, I wrote about reassessing in a pandemic – here is a slight follow on.

This bladdy pandemic. It has been brought up in most conversations that I have, it comes up when in meetings, and even when I am relaxing watching Netflix. I am pretty good at sticking to the rules, I wear a mask, I keep my distance, and I am just not a dick about it. Which – unfortunately – a lot of people have decided to be. It blows my mind a bit, when I see people out and about flaunting the rules as if they are Iron Man – not realising that it’s not about them, but if they are spreading it. That is where the issue is, people are selfish.

It’s a very simple solution – don’t be a dick.

The one thing that has really stuck out for me, is that people lack so much empathy and it has been quite an eye-opener. But the empathy aspect with people isn’t really what I am going to talk about, because I know people are dicks. What there needs to be a big change in, is empathy from celebrities and people also need to start selecting who they make famous. I for one, am going to start being more empathetic to people – friends, family, people who I interact with etc.

I saw a Tweet a few weeks ago, about a celebrity boasting about buying a Mercedes during a pandemic and claimed it was the best investment he had done, and encouraged others that buying a luxury car is a great investment. Thankfully a lot of people spoke up, 1) pointing out how badly he was reading the room, 2) pointing out that a car is the worst investment you can ever buy, 3) pointing out that he 100% is paying off his car on a monthly basis and must just get back in his hole and stop trying to live out his means.

This empathy thinking needs to start happening, quickly, across media, advertising, conversations, retail, restaurants etc.

The more empathetic the content is that people consume, the more empathetic they will end up being.

Empathy can be brought up in so many examples. A big one for 2020 is BLM – if people just cared about other races, religions, and people, like they do themselves, there wouldn’t be such hideous people in the world who think others are less based on colour. And if they do think others are less, just stfu about it – not hard.

Short and sweet, be nice people.

Cheers.

M

PS: Here is another pug, feel good about yourself.

Pandemics are a great time to reassess

I wrote an article, blog, script (whatever you want to call it), the other month about how absolutely nobody cares about you. It was somewhat well received, just over 5 500 reads, and I’ve had a few people ask me to write something about what I have been up to – none work related – to keep busy. So, here it goes.

Firstly, I would like to clarify that this is my first, and hopefully last, global killer virus pandemic that I have lived through. I am 27 (at the time of writing this – incase you read this is 10 years time and wonder what I’m talking about), so I was also not in WW1 or WW2, nor was really impacted by H1N1, Spanish Flu, Black Plague….. well, any global disaster – viral or war – to be honest. So I am not speaking from experience, I am just speaking from what I think would be a good way of handling things when speaking to your customers, potential customers, and even your staff.

I am going to keep it short, as I’m sure a lot of us are a bit tired of reading about COVID-19.

This is a terrible time for everyone, unless you sell hand sani and face-masks of course, but there are also a few upsides to being on lockdown. I mean, it’s only regarded an upside if you decide it’s an upside – or you can mope around all day and watch shitty reality TV on Netflix until 2am in the morning and repeat for 10 weeks (we hope this ends soon), and the issue is you will leave lockdown feeling like you have achieved nothing because you’ll see Tony who did a half marathon and 30 minute core workouts every single day, got his yoga instructor certificate, and got verified on Tik Tok. But, if your upside is watching Love Island on repeat and chowing pizza for 10 weeks – by all means, indulge my friend.

All that said, this is an awesome opportunity to reassess. From a personal perspective, that’s what I have been doing over the past 10 or so weeks, and it has been hard. There have been weeks where I have been down and demotivated and achieved none of my personal goals, and there have been weeks where I achieved all of my personal goals. To make reading this slightly more digestible, I’m going to write the areas in my life that have reassessed in a list format – purely because a paragraph about myself might just make me vomit, and I also don’t want to share too much about my personal life with a bitcoin scammer who could be reading this.

  1. Personal goals
    • This was always going to be hard, because I have never been good at sticking to personal goals – even when a raging pandemic wasn’t around – but I was determined to try. After reassessing how I perceive goals, I learnt that I needed to re-look how I set goals completely and instead of setting out 10 goals for a set amount of time, I decided to set goals per week and then carry them over and add more goals the following week. So for example, week 1 was to be more aware of other people and their emotions and what they might be going through, and week 2 was the same as week 1 but then I added that I wanted to be be more mentally active before 8am – ie read a book, read a poem, or learn something. I also decided that it doesn’t matter if I don’t reach a certain goal or if I slip up, it literally does not matter.
  2. Sense of achievement
    • This sort of follows from my last sentence in the point above. I always had this ideation that I needed to achieve my goals outright, in order to have them achieved. This lead to me either giving up on them or forgetting them when I didn’t achieve them within a few weeks. I reassessed this, and I decided that even if I try, and fail or slightly achieve something, I have achieved my goal. For example if it is to lose weight and eat healthy, if I have a week of indulgence, I shouldn’t just give up on my goal, it was a break and the goal needs to carry on. If I lose 5kgs instead of 10kgs, this isn’t a fail as I have still achieved something.
  3. Friendships
    • I think this is something that a lot of people have realised during this pandemic. I reassessed, and realised what friendships are worth maintaining and what “friendships” are not. The ones that check-in, talk to you every day, once a week, or even just once a month, are worth keeping and holding onto. I have always had friends that have different opinions to me, and I love that because it means we can go from joking around to having very deep conversations in a matter of moments. I think it would be incredibly boring and not very stimulating if we all shared the same opinions.
  4. Social Media
    • Social Media has become even more addictive, because people are at home and can scroll the whole day. I recently downloaded Tik Tok and discovered a whole new world of subcultures – as Vogue wrote about from a fashion POV. I had just been understanding Twitter subcultures, which was a mine field on it’s own! But, all that said, social media has always been a place that I share personal photos on, but I decided to start following creative accounts and I created an account that is a creative outlet for myself. I logged out my personal page for a while, and mainly just scrolled through content that I really got a positive vibe from and whenever I put my phone down, I was happy. I solely follow accounts that focus on creative and food – so that is all I see, in my feed, in my search, and even in adverts. One might say I beat the algorithm, HA.
  5. Local Brands
    • Support Local. This has been a movement on it’s own for a while, and the pandemic has spearheaded it, and I can’t wait to see what local brands do in the future. Tshepo Jeans, MaXhosa, Bathu Shoes, and others, are making huge strides locally and internationally. Merchants on Long have always been the pedestal for brands to leapfrog and have always supported brands that are local, with an undying passion for African brands. If you want to get more involved in supporting local, start with them, as they have hundreds of designs and designers. This movement goes further than fashion, retail stores (I hope) are going to start stacking their shelves with more local products opposed to imported products, and I will be buying them. I have set my goal – long term – to have my cupboards 70% locally made clothing, which I am happy to say that my jean collection is already at 80%.
  6. Community
    • I have become far more aware of my community and my country, by engaging in conversations online and in real life. Conversations around BLM, LGBTQ+, GBV, and Supporting Local – these are real life issues, that aren’t just a hashtag. You need to understand why these movements are fundamental to society, and not just post a black square and feel you have changed the world. I am a straight white dude from Cape Town who enjoys oat milk with his cafe lattes, I will never understand what it is like to be part of the LGBTQ+ community or what it is like to be black – or both. However, I can educate myself on why these movements are so important, and how I can support my friends, family, and businesses, that are part of those communities. I have had deep conversations around all these topics during lockdown, and I am proud to say that all my friends and family are on the same page with these topics. We don’t give two shits who you love, what you look like, who you praise, what you eat, or how you speak – what we do care about is if you are kind, that’s it.
  7. Education
    • This has been really important to me as I am currently studying, but I am also aware that there are thousands of people and children who have had their studies interrupted. I decided to reassess my understanding of learning – of course getting high school and tertiary education is highly important, that’s why I am studying part time – and so I have been delving into the world of Webinars, live IG/IGTV, Zooms, and free courses online. The amount of industry leaders and thought leaders that have shared knowledge, for free, during this pandemic is incredible. The true beauty is that you can watch these learnings and conversations from wherever you are in the world – you don’t need to physically be at a festival or an event – because it has all been streamed. I have learnt heaps, and it has been incredible.
  8. Mental and Physical Health
    • This is also an important one that I reassessed, because ever since leaving school I have struggled with physical health, probably because I am lazy shit and prefer to sleep in, but partly because I was always involved in team sports. However, I decided that physical fitness doesn’t mean running a half marathon like Tony, but it could mean going for a 10 minute walk, doing a 20 minute stretch, or finding a quick HIIT workout on YouTube and doing it before dinner. Being healthy is what you make of it, we live in a world where billionaires, models, and a false perception of success and happiness is rammed down our throats 24.7 – but to be honest, absolutely nobody cares. I love the ocean but I used to avoid the beach because I didn’t like how I looked – I would literally avoid doing something I loved because I thought people were laughing at me – but when I eventually did go to the beach and realised that literally nobody cared, it was freeing and now I go as much as possible. This is similar to a lot of people, who don’t do what they love because they are worried about what some random dude might or might not think about them. Some people avoid painting, even though they love it, because they are worried that their bulldog might think their still life pot plant is crap. Others might avoid running because they can’t run without coughing up a lung after 200m, yet nobody is even noticing that (for all you know they might think you’ve just finished a 21km). I have decided to just do what makes ME happy – do do do – because why not?

From a marketing perspective, it’s time to sit back and look at all your marketing plans, channels, methods, strategies, and possibly do an audit – and see where you can improve, what can get dropped, and what is actually working well. Reassess how you speak to your customers, how often you engage with them, what drives them, what makes them interested in your brand and it’s marketing.

People like it when others care – funny that.

What is probably costing your company a lot at the moment, is the cost of previous business and marketing strategies, failed campaigns that are still running, a brand strategy that is so ingrained – but actually isn’t working, a product that is making a huge loss (but a few others aren’t so you keep it), distribution channels that are old but it’s too much of an effort to update them, and more. Companies that grow fast and are successful for a while, often fall into the trap of not being able to pivot and suddenly their strategies are outdated and they are restricting movement and further success of the business. Yes, the business might still be very successful, but it could be even more, and now is a great time to change those strategies and re-look at them. If this virus doesn’t kill your business, at least allow it to make it stronger. If you have time, reassess everything. Internal communications also plays a huge part in how business operates, make sure that the people working for you feel safe and secure during this period, and they will come back stronger, ready to put in all the effort. Why? Because people like it when others care – funny that.

Don’t let this virus kill your business, allow you to make it f***ing stronger.

We have moved into a space where nobody wants a product shoved in their face anymore – we want high quality engagement, we want brands to make us feel more than just a piggy bank, and we want to feel that the brand is human and actually cares about us. Brands that are communicating with their audience about how they relate to them during this period, and brands that are constantly keeping their customers updated with facts, stories, engaging posts, and competitions to keep people interested – will be the ones that come out of this on top. You need to keep top of mind, even if it means talking about a virus when you normally talk about pet food. Pivot, adjust, change, make the conversation happen, and just show people that you care.

I think to sum this up nicely – just fucking care about other people. Social distance, wear a mask, not for YOU but to protect people FROM you, and just be a good oke.

Cheers,

M

PS: Here is a dog looking boujee to make you smile

murray robertson pug

Keeping sane in a digital world

keeping sane in a digital world

*When I speak about digital, I am referring to social media and being online, not digital as in photography, videography, e-books, music, etc.

It’s 9 pm in the evening, you’ve eaten dinner, the dishes are done, you’ve had a shower and now you want to be “digital free” for the rest of the night. You sit down on the couch to carry on watching your latest series binge on Netflix – there’s the first mistake. Within 10 minutes, your phone is back in your hand and you’re half-watching Making a Murderer while at the same time holding your phone on your chest and double-chin giggling at a compilation video of people falling off slides or doing bread to toaster trick shots.

Digital technology has come far in the last 20 years, and at an even more rapid pace in the last 5 years. We’ve gone from boomboxes to walkmans, to iPhones, and Bluetooth in the space of what seems a few years. We have laptops, and phones, and technology that can make us closer than ever before – yet everyone seems so distant. It is incredible.

There’s a trend going around of how to be “digital free” and some people have one day a week of no technology, some try to be off their phones after a certain time in the day, and others go off-grid on the weekend. When did it become so bad, that we needed to set boundaries for ourselves? Digital addiction is very real. A constant need for gratification from complete strangers, wanting to make sure you see the latest post from one of the Jenners, to making sure you watch peoples stories to try and feel apart of their life or to try to make your life seem more interesting. It’s a dangerous world we live in (or pretend to live in).

We are connected, yet also disconnected, we are so close together, yet so distant in reality.

We’ve reached the stage where a beautiful sunset still needs filters. One thing the digital generation is good at is using digital media to create – we have possibly become the most creative generation with the tools in our pockets. Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, Photoshop, Canva, GoPro, and more. More on this is that we have also become very good at using digital media to create change – from social engagement about mental health, to hashtag movements, and environmental protests, all building momentum on social media. We also use it to teach ourselves, learn about certain topics, and gain inspiration. So, it’s not all bad.

digital addiction

But, we all still want a break. I’ve been reading up about this “digital addiction” lately, and some tips or ideas I came up with are the following:

Tips for Staying Sane in a Digital World:

Starting the day without digital

Waking in 2019, most people have an alarm on their phone, unless you are the very few people who have a “body clock” (still figuring out what the f that means) who wake up at sparrows fart and don’t even need a coffee. The issue with having an alarm on your phone, is that the first thing you grab when you wake up, is your phone – and if you don’t hit (or swipe) to snooze, then you probably drag it off the counter, and blind yourself with the brightness of the screen, and scroll for 30 minutes before begrudgingly getting up.

Instead, put your phone in a different room, or far from the bed, once it goes off you’ll have to get up and walk to put the alarm off. Morning routines are what sets up our days – if you wake up slowly (like I do 96% of the time) your day normally goes slowly. My ideal routine would be waking up, stretching for 15 minutes, meditating on the day ahead, writing my day in a journal, reading a few pages of my book, maybe going for a run or a swim, and then having a smoothie or some toast, while having a conversation with my girlfriend and discussing our plans for the day.

Be aware of the urge

How many times do we find ourselves waiting in a line, or waiting a few minutes for someone to show up at a restaurant, and immediately grabbing our phones to as a reflex? Not everyone does it, but the majority of us do. Those in-between moments should be spent reflecting, people watching, and just trying to stay present. Most of us are even guilty of leaving our phones on the table during dinner, and most of us probably sweat a bit, get itchy, and glance at it like that last piece of biltong nobody is brave enough to eat. You just want to grab it and get your fix.

Don’t be that guy. It’s just, rude.

Simply separate your life

A lot of workspaces are becoming more and more flexible. Do you want to work from home until 12 pm? Sure. Do you need to go to the doctor at 2 pm? Sure. Want to work from a beach in the Bahamas? Maybe. The issue with flexible time is that we often then don’t know when to go offline, and find ourselves checking work email, Slack groups, or speaking about work, after hours or over the weekend. A simple solution is to either have a work laptop, and a personal laptop, or only utilise certain apps during working hours. That email that was sent to you on Friday at 6 pm can wait for Monday morning, probably.

Ah, the present, be it or in it

The Zen Habit is a good place to start if you need to have some sort of idea of this newfound term, “being present”, means. As it says, most problems are just in the mind, saying that dishes or doing the laundry is the issue, is bullshit – those are tasks that basically everyone does, unless you are a multi-millionaire and pay others to do that, or you’re dirty. Being present is a choice, if something interrupts your day, just focus on that for a bit and it’ll probably go away quicker and easier than if you ignored it.

Another good read is Becoming Minimilsts 10 tips to being in the present. I think the ones that resonate with me are: don’t dwell on past accomplishments, remove unneeded possessions, and dream about the future, but work hard today.

A lot of us dwell on actions we did well in when we were younger, like playing a first-team sport, or being fitter, or getting good grades, but those things don’t matter anymore, so stop trying to make them matter when you are standing at the office coffee machine at 8 am in the morning.

Get rid of things you don’t need, from clothing, tech, etc. Even if it’s a person. Don’t get rid of them, just stop caring what they think, or giving effort into a “friendship” that is one-sided.

Don’t stop when you fail

Oh no, you looked at your phone when you said no tech Thursdays, or when you said no phones after 8 pm on Wednesdays. Now don’t go and spend the whole day on your phone because you checked a pop-up notification from 9 Gag. Just put it away, and carry on living.

You won’t get it right for a while, and that’s okay. But the more you are aware of keeping sane in this digital world, the more you will stay sane.

What’s your method for keeping off digital?

Cheers,

M

Neuromarketing: Yes, you’ve been “fooled”

muzz robertson neuromarketing

Ever wondered why you bought something that you probably didn’t need, but for some reason had the urge to buy? Of course, you have.

So, what is neuromarketing? (in laymen terms)

If you don’t want laymen terms, or just think that this piece might be useless, you can read the Harvard Business Review article on neuromarketing – I even quoted them further below – or read the very in-depth Conversion XL that mentions the top 10 neuromarketing studies.

Neuromarketing is using neuroscience, basically, all forms of marketing have some sort of neuroscience behind them, as the marketer wants the consumer or potential consumer to click, read, buy, or show an interest in the service or product. Without having to say, “Buy this shit NOW” – they use methods that have been well tested, to make you buy that shit NOW.

Neuromarketing data will tell the marketer what the consumer reacts to, whether it was the colour of the packaging, the sound the box makes when shaken, or the idea that they will have something their co-consumers do not. This is done in the form of A/B testing colours, copy variations, videos, and even layout of certain digital assets. Some companies, depending on budget, can have multiple campaigns running, that have different colours, copy, and target different demographics – some may use this to test these variations, or they do this because they know that those colours and copy work for the specific targetted audience.

You’ve never been fooled by neuromarketing? Yes. You. Have.

You and everyone around you have been “tricked” into buying or clicking on an advert that uses neuroscience. Of course, they have!

People don’t buy or use products by mistake, do you really think that buying that blow-up flamingo for your pool which you have never used since 2016, was on purpose? It might have been on purpose, sure, but would have you ordered in online had you not seen that there were on 2 left and these 2 had a 30% discount for the next 24 hours? Probably not.

There is also a darker side to neuromarketing, it’s not all about getting people to buy beer-pong cups or 7-day luxury resorts.

A great way to look at neuromarketing is to, very lightly, touch on Cambridge Analytica. Cambridge Analytica, one small example, would use certain tactics during political campaigns to make people vote for a certain candidate. They did this with Trump, Brexit, Trinidad and Tobago, and others. This was touched in the Great Hack on Netflix. The goal that CA had, was targeting voters with messages designed to work on voters’ underlying psychology. They would create videos that would mock Clinton and show videos of her saying certain things that the public would not like – this is one example. They also had a huge impact on Brexit and the effects that lead up to voting leave.

“Neuromarketing” loosely refers to the measurement of physiological and neural signals to gain insight into customers’ motivations, preferences, and decisions, which can help inform creative advertising, product development, pricing, and other marketing areas.

Harvard Business Review

Examples! The easiest way to show how this works

Without mentioning Cambridge Analytica, let’s try to get some examples out the way.

Firstly, whatever advert that goes live, needs to be ON. BRAND.

It’s important to mention that neuromarketing also uses eye-tracking, by a means of cursor or testing, and a lot of clever brands place certain elements of an ad in spaces of the screen that will generate more user focus than other areas of the page. Also, elements in the assets, so it’s been proven that if you have people in your ad, they should be making “direct eye contact” with the user who is looking at the screen or they should be “looking” at the content that the marketer wants the user to be looking at.

Example of direct eye-contact on the content

We also have loss-aversion, which is the predominately copy based, and this is basically FOMO – people don’t want to miss out on a deal. By putting a cut-off date, or a limited amount of buys at a certain price, can entice people to buy, or at least, view the product. Business Insider refers to this as “the illusion of scarcity”, which is also similar to the above.

Anchoring in advertising is also a clever way to get someone to choose your product or service – this is having one or two items that a competitor doesn’t have. Hotels do this a lot, they have free services such as free coffee, free taxis, or discounts at certain restaurants.

Colours also play an important role, you might notice that you are suddenly seeing a lot of green, pink or blue in the adverts that are showing up in banner ads or on your social media – this isn’t a mistake.

And of course, the headline. It needs to be eye-catching, clickbaity, and give the user some sort of need to click on the link.

All that said, we do see A LOT of ads that we never click on, get annoyed by, and have far too many buy buttons.

So, what’s the point of all this?

I love the science behind digital marketing. What makes somebody click on an ad, what makes someone skip an ad or not even see the ad at all.

It’s interesting, everyone is different, but everyone also has a soft spot or lean towards certain colours or wording. A lot of people don’t understand why they see or get certain content fed to them.

So hopefully this clears it up – a bit. If you have any questions or opinions, comment below, and I’ll try my best to answer them!

Cheers,

M