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Win Audiences in 2016: 6 Strategic Tips for Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders

Win Audiences in 2016: 6 Strategic Tips for Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders

I’m sure you’re in the same boat as everyone else: January is never as productive as you wish it would have been.

It’s okay and you have 332 days left to make 2016 the year you need it to be (bonus day for the leap year!).

Whether you were obsessing over your 2015 annual results or spending more time planning your Super Bowl 50 bets, here are some strategic tips that will get you back on track:

1. The bland, flat, and boring look of the ‘Flat Design’ era is over. Embrace and enrich your digital experience with bold colours and exceptional UX.

Uber is dominating headlines today for their startling shift from grey and demure towards a colourful, inspirational, and futurology-inspired vision.

They are one of many companies who are realizing that you need to deeply inspire if you intend to lead true corporate disruption. Others like SnapChat and Periscope are taking their users down a user interface journey that is evolving as we watch — one where we still don’t yet know where it’s headed but we all recognize that something special is happening.

Twitter may have transformed how we interface with real-time, yet these services are an evolution on that. They transform each person’s real-time moment into something special and collaborative.

I dove deeper into this topic last month and explored why rich and complex design is now exploding.

2. Build better apps, websites, and organizations by mastering how to structure all of them.

Author Peter Morville has been working with Fortune 500 corporations, governments, and all kinds of world builders from the start of the internet. While his role as an expert consultant falls under the term “Information Architect,” his experience and results end up transforming both their content, but also their organizational cultures.

In his book he details what makes great and terrible information architecture. Understanding those taxonomies and relationships allows organizations to see opportunities for growth. Most of which they may never have known before and most of which are critical if you intend to offer a truly cross-device digital experience to customers as we approach the era of Internet of Things / Web 3.0 / Ambient Web.

In this excerpt he explains how fixing your app or website UX likely is connected to systematic issues that undermine your team’s and organizational performance as well:

Recently, while I was consulting with a Fortune 500 that does over $2 billion a year in online sales, one of my clients explained that over the years he’d seen lots of consultants fail to create lasting change. “They tell us to improve consistency, so we clean up our website, but the clutter soon comes back. We keep making the same mistakes, over and over.”This infinite loop to nowhere results from treating symptoms without knowing the cause, a bad habit with which we’re all too familiar. Part of our problem is human nature. We’re impatient. We choose immediate gratification and the illusion of efficiency over the longer, harder but more effective course of action. And part of our problem is culture. Our institutions and mindsets remain stuck in the industrial age. Businesses are designed as machines, staffed by specialists in silos. Each person does their part, but nobody understands the whole.

Read Intertwingled: Information Changes Everything by Peter Morville

3. Understanding and connecting with your community trumps any amount of advertising budget your competitors may have.

Today we all know these companies very, very well: Slack, AirBnB, car2go, Sketch, SnapChat.

Only a few years ago each of them was considered an unbackable underdog, destined to fail because of a dominant competitor. Each triumphed and each did so by embracing their role as industry renegade. They disrupted not by suddenly being launched to market, they did so by locking in on a key community and redefining the world for those people. Communities embrace companies that share their principles and truly empathize with their challenges.

It’s a strategy that can work for any business or entrepreneur with a product vision that faces steep competition. Read the analysis of those five former underdog companies here.

4. Not connecting with your customers in an authentic way can be a quick one-way ticket to them hating you.

Not to be overly alarming, customers and potential customers can spot a fake pretty fast. It doesn’t take long to figure out which brands are spending more time crafting their marketing budgets than their messaging.

These three articles look at ways you may be alienating customers and potential leads. Often the fixes are no-brainers that you can easily implement and that can quickly improve your results.

5. Virtual Reality may be getting all the buzz in 2016, however “Conversational Commerce” is the business interface frontier you should be watching.

Pro tip: Business headlines on news services like CNN and Huffington Post may be great for water cooler talk, but they are rarely the trends you should be watching out for. They are just candy for the press to munch on while the real future is being worked on.

While all the press is buzzing about virtual reality and drones, the earlier you can find a way to take advantage of the advances in conversational commerce, the sooner may utterly change your industry.

The same Facebook that is behind VR company Oculus Rift is quietly launching a game changing commerce experience as part of Facebook Messenger. One that removes the otherwise five-to-forty annoying steps between wanting something and getting it.

Chatting with a friend about where to meet up? Book a ride in the conversation. Chatting about a new outfit? Buy in the conversation.

Chris Messina goes deeper into the topic here.

6. Kill distractions and master deep work habits.

We all have terrible habits and are the ones holding ourselves back most from success.

There is a way out! And it doesn’t come in pill form.

Cal Newport has made a career out of mastering decoding patterns of success. He’s created countless study hacks and done enough research to finally put simplistic cliches statements like “follow your passion” to rest (On the topic Cal says that people should cultivate their passions and take advantage of opportunities, instead of jumping headstrong into any one direction).

His rules:

  1. Work deeply: you have to give care and protect your deep work by adding routine and dedication to it

  2. Embrace boredom: train your ability to resist distraction because it is unrealistic to believe you won’t get distracted

  3. Quit social media: if you are going to take your dedication to attention seriously being on social is a problem

  4. Drain the shallows: try to control and minimize the shallow work so you can focus

Good luck!

If you would like to discuss your project in detail, please contact us at PH1 Research and we can help jumpstart your path to success.

Arpy Dragffy is a strategist and educator who has been working in technology and web for thirteen years. His focus is on ideation and culture-building through exceptional product and experience design.

Originally published on February 3, 2016.

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