12 March 15 -

Super8: Eight intriguing articles from February 2015.

At the start of every month, we revisit eight intriguing articles from the previous month. We call this “Super8”. Here’s what we’ve been reading in February.

1. The specialist-generalist balance

web development

Written by Garin Evans (Twitter, website).

Web developers can often be typecast; restricted to specific tasks because their job title labels them as such. Garin Evans explains how having individual teams of ‘specialists’ can often lead to isolation that fosters unhealthy environments, restricts collaboration, and creates silos.

Garin’s suggestion? Find the right balance of specialists and generalists on your team, and ensure experts collaborate better.

We completely agree with Garin’s sentiments, and recently merged our design, front-end and back-end development teams into one ‘build’ team. The result? Better communication, fewer errors and better outcomes for our clients.

Read it now: http://alistapart.com/article/the-specialist-generalist-balance

2. What to do when your staff won’t blog


Written by Joel Klettke (Twitter, website).

Getting staff to contribute to your company blog can be a major challenge. Just asking them to contribute ‘once per month’ rarely works. As a company who is going through this process, we know this challenge oh so well.

Joel Klettke explains that blogging isn’t a passion you can fabricate, and what to do instead, such as getting people to contribute their ideas, bringing in outside help, embracing new mediums and more. Excellent tips for any company blog.

Read it now: http://www.iacquire.com/blog/what-to-do-when-your-staff-wont-blog

3. Why building something useful for others is the best marketing there is


Written by Jude Stewart (Twitter, website) and featuring Mikael Cho (Twitter).

Are side projects ‘distracting vanity exercises for flighty creatives’? Jude Stewart talked to Mikael Cho, founder and CEO of Crew to investigate.

In this motivating article, we hear the story of how Cho created Unsplash.com as a side project – a side project that now generates more than 11 million unique visitors monthly.

Cho’s opinion is this: “If your goal is to build something useful for customers, I’d argue that it’ll never be a distraction.” For those procrastinating on whether to start another side project, we think these are inspirational words.

Read it now: http://www.fastcompany.com/3042417/how-i-get-it-done/why-building-something-useful-for-others-is-the-best-marketing-there-is

4. What is a thought leader exactly?

thought leadership

Written by Violeta Nedkova (Twitter).

It’s a common piece of advice I hear about blogging: “Be a thought leader.” But what does that actually mean? Is a ‘thought leader’ the same as an ‘expert’, or is there a difference?

In this interesting article, Violeta Nedkova describes the many different definitions of thought leadership, followed by her take on the subject. A thought leader must earn your respect, come up with new and replicable ideas, demonstrate their experience, and have a recognisable style. But most of all, they must inspire.

Violeta, we like the vibe you’re putting out. In fact, some might say you’re being a thought leader.

Read it now: http://www.violetanedkova.com/blog/2015/02/15/what-is-a-thought-leader-exactly

5. How to manage friction to hold onto your customers

acquisition, retention

Written by Janet Choi (Twitter).

Anyone who has been involved in any kind of user-experience design or conversion-rate optimisation will have heard this advice. “Remove friction. Make it as easy as possible for people to convert by removing obstacles.”

According to Janet Choi, that’s not always the right approach. Janet uses examples such as Luminosity, Pinterest and Buffer to explain how a small amount of friction is actually beneficial in the long run, preventing the need for users to take certain actions later on in their journey with your product.

Janet’s advice is to calibrate friction, not remove it entirely. Sound advice for any SaaS business.

Read it now: http://customer.io/blog/manage-friction-quality-customers.html

6. The Marketing Department of the future


Written by Samuel Scott (Twitter, website).

If you read my recent article, you’ll know why I included this one.

Traditionally, digital marketing has been seen as a separate activity to traditional marketing, and teams have been structured as such. This traditional structure can be problematic. Separating, say, your PR team from your social media team, can lead to missed opportunities.

Samuel Scott puts forward an alternative (and looking at the comments, slightly controversial) way to structure your marketing teams.

Whether you agree with Samuel’s solution or not, there’s one thing that rings true – the old model doesn’t work anymore, and something needs to change. It’s great to see this topic coming up more often.

Read it now: http://moz.com/blog/the-marketing-department-of-the-future

7. Growth is optional: 10 reasons why companies fail at growth


Written by Brian Balfour (Twitter).

“…I’ve never met a company that says they don’t want to grow. But many don’t do the things required to grow.”

Brian Balfour runs through 10 reasons why companies fail at growth, including: they don’t run experiments; they search for a silver bullet; they don’t focus; they don’t change and adapt; and much more.

Brian doesn’t just run through his top 10, he provides links to many other helpful resources that you can refer to. This article is full of great advice for startups and established businesses alike.

Read it now: http://www.coelevate.com/essays/growth-is-optional

8. What Netflix can teach Content Marketers about data and content intelligence

content marketing

Written by Ross Simmonds (Twitter, website).

In this Inbound.org original, Ross Simmonds tells the story of Netflix, and how content marketers can learn from its strategy.

Ross outlines how Netflix tracks everything you do in order to provide a better experience for you and the rest of their users. Content marketers can do the same by capturing and analysing data to make smart decisions about their next piece of content.

While it takes time and effort to do this analysis, it will pay off. Ross advises to steer clear of creating content for the sake of it and, instead, to use data and insight to create something great. Quality over quantity every time.

Read it now: http://inbound.org/post/view/what-netflix-can-teach-content-marketers-about-data-content-intelligence


Did you come across any intriguing articles in February? We’d love to hear about them!