Video: The Power of Stories Lived Versus Stories ToldOctober 2, 2016
Summit Session Highlight: GoKart LabsOctober 10, 2016
For nearly two decades, Karen Semone has been helping brands create digital content that drives people to think, feel, transact, share and connect. She leads the Content Practice at VSA Partners, partnering with clients to plan and execute digital, content-driven products and experiences. Here Semone shares more on what she has planned for her talk at Summit.
Q: Tell us about the topic you’ll be covering at the Summit.
Karen Semone: My talk is called “Sprinting Toward Launch,” and it’s all about creating content and marketing experiences in the Agile methodology, and how we as marketers can adopt the essential principles of Agile and adapt them for our work. It’s become highly relevant in recent years as we’re seeing trends shift toward rapid prototyping, A/B testing and learning through “low-risk failure,” especially in the tech industry.
Q: What do you hope attendees will take away from your presentation?
Semone: While I realize it’s difficult to transform the operations of a marketing organization into an Agile-ready shop, my hope is that my talk will encourage the MIMA community to consider adopting some of the techniques and best practices, including: roughing in content up front; experimenting and testing products, apps and campaigns with real users; and creating deeper connections within their networks to enable innovation, even around constraints.
Q: Why is this topic important to marketing and advertising?
Semone: While iterative methodologies have been adopted largely by makers of software and applications throughout Silicon Valley, content and marketer professionals are falling behind, tending to stay in their comfort zones and traditional ways of doing things. I believe it’s important to push our methodologies further. Working in two-week sprints has taught me how to let go of preconceived notions of perfection, and to work with what’s “good enough for now” in service of getting it to market more quickly, where we can learn from real user feedback. It’s been transformative in my career as a content strategist and marketer, and my hope is that it can help others as well.
Q: Who do you follow/where do you find your inspiration?
Semone: I’m always inspired by great storytelling about process and theory, which is why I love Tim Urban from Wait But Why. And I love the book Sprint by the Google Ventures team. Such a great evolution of iterative methodologies like Agile, and such a smart, low-risk way for agencies to create better, more meaningful experiences more quickly. Finally, there’s nothing like a well-curated Quora digest to kick off your day with a diverse sampling of random opinions and ideas.
Q: What is one piece of advice that has stuck with you throughout your career?
Semone: One of my longtime mentors was a creative director who used to say, “you cannot design what you don’t understand.” Though his background was visual design, he meant that design thinking begins with a deep understanding of both the business problem and empathy for the user’s needs. In Agile, we begin each effort with a collaborative session to build consensus — quickly — on “what we are building for whom and why.” It’s so important for marketers to think this way too. Understand the nuance of what your audience needs and how they behave within a given channel. Hypothesize with optimism — in other words, dream big. Then create a representation of that big dream quickly and test it with real human beings, which is where real understanding can be achieved.
To hear Semone’s talk and more from other great Summit speakers on Oct. 19, register today.