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Screw This Game of Thrones

I am a mother.

And I’m a small business owner.

There are days when I manage my creative projects like a U.N. Ambassador while making sack lunches and folding laundry — as if I had six arms and spoke five languages.

And then there are days when the kids are late to school, I work in my pajamas, and I wonder if I will ever write anything that makes sense ever again.

At my core, I wish I was more like Daenerys Targaryen.

Dany 500

She remains calm at all times, even when her dragons are kidnapped. She is confident and knows what her purpose is and doesn’t seem to doubt she can fulfill that purpose.

And she always looks amazing.

But deep down I wonder if I’m more like Cersei Lannister.

Cersei 500

Do I play my children like they’re puppets of power? Do I love what my heart wants to love, no matter the consequences? Do I destroy anything and anyone that won’t let me have my way?

I’ve read many articles about how you can have it all, or you can’t have it all; that running a business is like raising a family, or maybe having kids will drive the nail into the coffin of your career. There are tips to succeed as a woman in business and tips on what every woman can learn from men.

Well guess what. I don’t want to be successful like a man. I don’t even want to be successful as a woman. I want to be successful in the purpose that is given to me, which can’t be compared to anyone else, man or woman.

One of the most poisonous habits I’ve carried over from mothering into business leadership is that of comparing myself — successes, failures, opportunities, whathaveyou — to other people in our industry.

Why can’t we do what they’re doing? is the same poisonous discontentment as Why can’t my kid behave like her kid? and will kill the creative momentum of my team as much as motherhood jealousies stole my joy as a mom for a season.

In the recent weeks leading up to Mother’s Day, I woke up to the reality of my own strengths, and instead of lamenting All The Things I’m not good at, I started to make a plan for how to fill those gaps.

I’m learning how to be me.

Jen Idea

Finally resting in my purpose and not taking on someone else’s purpose was the best gift I gave myself and my team this Mother’s Day.

I encourage you, whether you’re a man, woman, mother, father, employee, business owner, student or [fill in the blank], know your gifting, your calling, your purpose — and follow that.

2014 Annual Client Gift (or How To Avoid Workplace Communication Disasters)

Our clients trust us to tell their stories, and we’re grateful for the opportunity. So this year we sent a very special thank you card.

2014 WNE Client Gift - pic02

We know it can be difficult, sometimes, to express to co-workers what kind of day you’re having… particularly if you’re hungry or stressed or asleep during your morning staff meeting.

2014 WNE Client Gift - pic02

The key to averting relational work place disaster before it strikes is a pre-emptive warning regarding your state of mind.

For this reason, we created a custom 11×17 What Now? Exactly! mood poster inside our thank you card, featuring the many faces of our creative team.

2014 WNE Client Gift - pic02

A strategically placed mood poster — in your cubicle, on your office door, or perhaps even taped to the back of your chair — can help your co-workers prepare for how to approach you —

  • exhausted? bring coffee;
  • stressed? back away slowly;
  • drunk? take an Instagram photo.

If you’d like to download your own mood poster, we converted this to an 8.5 x 11 you can print yourself. Just click here for the download!

Animated Explainer Videos by What Now? Exactly!

FEELING - Banner Blog - What Now? Exactly!

If you have a product, service, or idea, we’ll explain how it works.

I know we’re not the only ones who do this, nor are we the cheapest, but we deliver a custom video that reflects your voice and branding, not ours, and certainly not something that looks like everything else out there.

And because we don’t think your super power is information, features, or facts — (these are shopping comparison lists, not mind-changers) — we’re also going to poke you a little to find your true super power.

People find relief in knowledge, convenience, and understanding.

Do you make people feel smarter? More empowered? More in control? Do you make their job/life/whathaveyou easier?

Whatever it is that you do — your product, service, or idea — you’re a problem solver, and you’re passionate about it because you believe in what you do.

This is your super power. This is what converts the curious into customers.

So you keep solving their problems, and let our team solve yours.

(See what I did there?)

For a free consultation, fill out this form or call: 206-588-6121.

Also, check out the video below about what we do, or watch it here.

Why Animated Video? Puget Sound Energy Explains.

If you’re a fan of using animated video to tell your story but have a hard time convincing others on your team that “cartoons” can be taken seriously, we can help.

We actually run into this issue quite a bit, so after wrapping up a recent project for Puget Sound Energy, we asked Ray Lane, Media Engagement Lead, a few questions about PSE’s choice to use animated video for their Energize Eastside project.

Puget Sound Energy image

Animation is a departure from how PSE typically uses video. Why did you decide to step outside the box, so to speak?

We needed a creative, different way to explain and visualize a complicated topic: The upgrade to one of our transmission lines. The project is essential because of the high growth on the Eastside and to increase electricity reliability in the area. Just to show pictures of power lines wouldn’t do the trick. We wanted a good narrative and solid imagery to help our customers understand why the plan needs to move forward.

How did you pitch the idea to your internal stakeholders? What were 1 or 2 selling points for those who were skeptical?

We had to lay out the challenges of this video. We were talking about a project that wouldn’t be constructed for a few years, so there’s not much ‘live action’ video to shoot. And we needed help conveying concepts, dates, maps. Animation easily became a frontrunner for the storytelling. Some were skeptical about a “cartoon” being used for something so important — but seeing became believing. The animated art brought things to life. Some who were very resistant going in were thrilled with the final product.

Now that the project is finished, what were you able to do or communicate with animation that you couldn’t with shot video?

We were able to communicate “understandability.” In the first viewing, people understood what we were talking about. That was key. The reason for the project was clear in the 1:40 runtime. You sat up and paid attention because the creative was so engaging. ‘Wallpaper’ video of blah shots of this and that would not have registered.

Anything else you want to share about the experience?

We turned a corner by using animation. It now gets asked about. People in other departments want to know if it might be a good option for other projects.

Watch the animated video below, or click here to view it on our site.

How’s This For a Short Case Study on the Power of Video?

We’ve had fun publishing short animated videos via Instagram lately, but did you know Instagram video can be fun and useful for business?

(No need to be mutually exclusive, I say.)

Check out the video we made below using a case study from ShoreTel Sky that we discovered through Adria Saracino at Distilled (or click here to view it on Instagram):

As we’ve said before, Instagram videos like this one can be easily shared across all social networks and viewed on any device, which makes it a great way to get your story in front of more people.

Get in touch to find out how we can use Instagram video to tell your story.

Our Answer to “Do You Make Videos In the Common Craft Style?” Is YES.

WNE - Common Craft image

You may have heard about some of the fun product expansions we’ve been launching over the summer.

Another exciting development is that now we make videos in the widely respected Common Craft style!

We’re big fans of Lee & Sachi and the work they do to help people make their ideas, products, and services easier to understand, and now they’ve made their huge library of cut-outs available for us to use!

Got a video project you’d like to chat about? Fan of those Common Craft paper cut-outs? Get in touch with us at 206-588-6121 or info@whatnowexactly.com — or just fill out this handy-dandy form and we’ll contact you!

And definitely stay in touch.

15 Seconds of Fame: Get Your Instagram Video Animated

Submit your Instagram video and we’ll pick one to animate. To play along at home, check out the #ExactagramThis details below the fold.

Like, remember that time we animated my son’s story about vampires, zombies, and werewolves? No? Well here, let me help you with that

If you want to play along, here’s the skinny:

1. Post a video to Instagram using the hashtag #ExactagramThis

Make it a joke, story, fact, statistic, set of instructions, good (or bad) advice, song, poem, marriage proposal, breakup, startup pitch, baby gender announcement, or ___________.

Just make sure it’s not copyrighted material that you don’t own.

2. Deadline for all entries is September 18th, 6:00pm Pacific Time.

This deadline also happens to coincide with our weekly Hump Day Happy Hour, so if you’re in the Seattle area and would like to influence our judges, you’re welcome to do that in person.

3. We’ll announce the winner on September 20th.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram for the announcement!

4. Look for the winning Exactagram on October 4th.

Tell all your friends.

Why Instagram Video Is Important

Two weeks ago Instagram announced the option to upload videos from your phone’s media library. This is a big change from editing your video in realtime while in the app, and it means big benefits for you.

Here are three reasons why Instagram video is important:

1. Short, simple, visual storytelling.

Break your story down into smaller, “slice of life” vignettes, animate an interesting fact or statistic, or tackle frequently asked questions. 15 seconds is easily digested by short attention spans and adapts well to online ad formats (like the Facebook video ads that are rumored to be coming soon).

2. Share it easily across social networks.

A social sharing element is built right in to Instagram, so your story can go where it needs to go without you even knowing the destination. Video without distribution is like one hand clapping, and it certainly doesn’t make you any money.

Instagram videos can be tweeted, emailed, posted to Facebook, and now embedded in a blog post (see ours below). Throw in a few hashtags for good measure and it’s super easy for you and your fans to share your content.

3. Can be consumed in any context, especially on mobile.

People are watching more videos on their mobile devices than ever before. According to a 2013 report, 10% of viewers watch online videos via smart phones and tablets, and just a year ago, it was reported that people who watch videos on their tablets stay tuned in 30% longer than those who watch on their desktop.

Below is our latest Instagram video, which we call an Exactagram – an animated slice from the popular Netflix original series, Orange Is the New Black.

Get in touch to find out how we can use Instagram video to tell your story.

15 Seconds of Funny

We let out a big WHOOP! WHOOP! when Instagram announced we can upload video from our phone’s media library.

Look how much fun we’re having!

You can also follow the fun on Twitter and Facebook, if you so desire.

3 Ways to Improve Your Story

I like to ask our new clients what challenges they run into when explaining what they do; it gives me an idea of what they’ve tried and how they tell their own story.

These are three very common responses:

  • Want to *show* people what we do so they get it
  • Need to describe what we do more efficiently
  • Appeal to a short attention span

If you can relate to any of these three challenges, keep reading.

Showing is better than telling

John Medina, author of Brain Rules, says that when you tell a story visually, people remember it because human beings are creatures driven by sight. We talk more about the brain science behind visual storytelling here.

The folks at Sparq found themselves explaining their service over and over again, but it wasn’t until people saw it in action that they had an Ah-ha! moment.

This is why they sought us out to make a video.

A video on their site with a clear call to action – “Drive Mobile App Installs and Usage” – is a very effective way for them to increase sign-ups.

Explain what you do more efficiently

We believe small words are mightier. Explaining your product or service in a way everyone will understand can be challenging, especially if it’s technical or involves a complicated process.

We worked with Sparq to distill their story down into a narrative people can identify with and respond to.

Appeal to a short attention span

Busy websites full of text can overwhelm people, tempting them to scan headlines or click away without really understanding what you’re all about.

But a simple web design that focuses your full attention on a short video results in more people learning how you solve their problem.

Check out Sparq’s simple home page:

Sparq

For a free consultation on how we can help you tell a better story, get in touch.

Watch the video we created for Sparq below, or click here to view on our site.