By Rex Hammock
Founder and CEO

I used to hear adults complain about the way teenagers’ symbol-laden language was taking over communication. I don’t hear that complaint anymore. Those adults now text me complaints. 😉

I am fascinated with the evolution of the symbolic text we are using @ 🏠  & @ 🛠. Of course, emojis are the most pervasive examples of symbols replacing letters, words, and phrases. But I’m more interested in the evolution of what I describe as business and professional “font icons.”

By Rex Hammock
Founder and CEO

Earlier this week, the craft and handmade marketplace Etsy announced that, in April, it will be launching a new B2B marketplace to expand the services the company provides to its maker/sellers. In addition to its current emphasis on helping members sell their products, the new Etsy Studio will provide members easy, direct access to vendors they use to create their crafts and other products.

Screen-Shot-2015-09-20-at-2.54.35-PMThis month marks the beginning of Hammock Inc.’s 25th year as a marketing services company focused exclusively on what is now called “content marketing.” During the last 25 years, we’ve been able to work with many great clients in developing all forms of print and digital media used to build long-lasting relationships with their customers. 

One important thing we’ve learned during the past quarter-century is that unlike traditional advertising, customer media and content can play an important role throughout the relationship between marketer and customer. To explain what we mean, we’ve published the Hammock Idea eBook, Content Along the Customer Journey. You can download it below.

While there is no way to know, I’m guessing there’s never been an election where everyone at Hammock HQ has voted for the same candidate. And as Nashville is in a run-off mayoral and Metro Council election with outstanding candidates, there’s a good chance we won’t be breaking our 24-year-history of never agreeing 100% on who we’ll vote for — at least that’s my guess.

However, we do agree on one thing: How hard it is to figure out exactly when and where to vote early in this run-off. For example, every day, the polls close at a different time: 7 p.m., 6 p.m. or 4 p.m. So to find out exactly what time today the polls close, you must visit the Davidson County Election Commission’s webpage on Nashville.gov.

voting-sked-beforeThere you can download a PDF of a page filled with  SHOUTING-OUT ALL-CAPS listing the time the polls will close.

We appreciate the effort, but this approach, with line-after-line of information just doesn’t work for us.

Rather than complain, we decided to create something we could share in the office that makes it a little clearer when and where one can vote early. Thinking we’re not the only confused voters, we then decided we’d share it here with anyone who would like to use it.

We’re not trying to get you to vote for a specific candidate. We’re just trying to get you to vote.

We’ve posted it with a Creative Commons license that grants anyone the right to take the page and use it any way you’d like. So, for example, if you are a supporter of a candidate in any of the run-off races, feel free to use it any way you’d like — except not in a way that appears like we’re endorsing a candidate. Do that and at least 50 percent of us would be mad.

(Click: for a Large JPG)
(Click: for a PDF)

early-voting
(Feel free to share, even adapt, this.
It is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.)

Photo of voting booths: ThinkStock.com

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Anyone who has read this blog with any consistency or subscribes to Hammock’s Idea Email will understand why I think the article “A mile wide, an inch deep” written by Medium.com founder and Twitter co-founder Ev Williams should be required reading for marketers.

emmastackedlargeWow. Hammock has been featured as a case study by the email marketing powerhouse Emma. (I know they’re a powerhouse because I hear their underwriting message on NPR wherever I travel.)

But first, I’ll confess. I’ve been a fan of the email marketing firm Emma since before they were an email marketing company. Indeed, the two founders of Emma are members of the Hammock Inc. and SmallBusiness.com alumni club. (Note to self: start a Hammock Inc. and SmallBusiness.com Alumni Club.)

In November, 2012, we titled our very first Idea Email with a line inspired by the sentence Apple used to introduce the second generation of the iPad: “Technology at its very best is invisible.”

In our version, we substituted “marketing” for the word technology.

In that first Idea Email, we wrote what we still believe to be the goal of great marketing:

The goal of great marketing should be to make the customer smarter, stronger, happier, or whatever the customer wants when they purchase a product or join an association or sign up for a service. When you emphasize how your product can help customers achieve something, they don’t think of it as marketing. They think of it as help. And that’s when marketing is at its very best.

hammock-wood-2Until last week, our new downtown Nashville offices* had been missing something vital: signage featuring the Hammock “H” logo. It was easy to figure out where to hang such a sign—our reception area is right off the elevators–but figuring out how to create it was a tougher decision. Our first choice was to commission a Nashville artisan whose hand-crafted signage was gaining regional appeal. Unfortunately, while we were talking with him, he went from up-and-coming to 100 percent “up,” and his backlog of work meant we’d go for months before getting on his schedule.

We decided then to go the maker route. Having abundant in-house design capabilities, our challenge was to find an artisan with laser-guided saw capabilities and the experience to transform our design files into wood signage. When we discovered such a company that also has mastered the type of post-advertising marketing skills we admire, there was little doubt we’d enjoy working with Oakland, Calif.-based Tinkering Monkey studios.

Honoring Veterans, 2013
Posted in About Hammock, by Rex Hammock
November 11, 2013

At_the_Nashville_Veterans_Day_Parade-2

While attending the Nashville Veterans Day parade this morning, Hammock editor Bill Hudgins captured in this photo the essence of so much that is great about those who serve, and have served, in our nation’s military.

Also, on this Veterans Day, take a look at our five SmallBusiness.com posts related to the event.

We are honored to work with clients like the Marine Corps League and the Daughters of the American Revolution who have made it a central mission to honor our nation’s armed forces, both veterans and those on active duty.

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©ThinkStock

In the current Idea Email we once more explore the role of time in the use of effective marketing content. While the “journalist” in all of us may make us think the best information is what’s happening now, personal experiences throughout the day should help us recognize that the information we seek as we carry out our jobs or feed our passions or satisfy our curiosity often is found in content created outside the flow of today’s news.

Our point with this focus on the role of time is this: Often, the content your customers find most helpful may not be found on your blog or in the stream of your social media. Throughout the day, a customer may want to know if one of your products is waterproof and 30 minutes later, she may be curious about how to replace a broken part.

It’s easy to organize a website to be chronological. It’s a bit more difficult to develop a website in a topical or categorical framework that corresponds with your business focus. What is most challenging to the creator of a website, but most helpful to the users, is an organization built on a taxonomy of situations.

Your customers need help in some situation now. How easily they can find the answer they need or some type of help in making the best of the situation is the measure of your success.

Here are some simple examples of situations (you’ll need to translate them to your industry or market focus) that represent the types of needs where the definition of “timely content” is not related to when the content was created or posted, but is measured by how the content provides help to the customer at the precise time their situational need appears.