By Rex Hammock

As a marketer, no doubt you’ve noticed an increase in the use of the term “brand story” during the past decade. We have. In fact, for several years, the first thing you’d see when entering our offices were these words displayed on the wall: “Your story starts here …”

By Rex Hammock, CEO

Because an Idea Email is sent every other week to subscribers across the United States and globally, we try to keep our references universal, not local. But when something big happens a few blocks from the Nashville office we call Hammock HQ, we can’t help wanting to share.

And no, I’m not talking about the unprecedented way in which locals (including us) have gone nuts over the success of the Nashville Predators and their first appearance in the finals of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoff (#GoPreds).

By Rex Hammock, CEO

From its ho-hum reception by critics and moviegoers, I may be the only person you know who has seen the social media-themed film, The Circle. Despite excellent performances by Tom Hanks and Emma Watson, its dystopian plot lacks some key backstory elements that make the Dave Eggers novel on which it is based a far more compelling story. 

When you compare a corporation’s website from the early web era (the late 1990s) to the same company’s current website, you can easily recognize the DNA of the early site in the 2017 model.

For example, if you use the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine to view the 2001 version of Ford.com you’ll immediately be blown away by the dramatic changes in aesthetics and “wow” factors.

By Rex Hammock
Founder and CEO

Earlier this week, I heard Cisco Systems Chairman and former CEO John Chambers speak to 700 social marketers who work at some of the nation’s savviest and most successful brands. After hearing Chambers share Cisco’s approach to marketing, these all-star marketers were buzzing in the hallways about how far their companies need to go to truly transform their customer relationships.

By Rex Hammock
Founder and CEO

Earlier this week, I spent several hours in one-on-one discussions with engineers and product managers who head up various research and development innovations for Intuit. Their work covers all of the current buzzwords: machine learning, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, big data, speech recognition, blockchain technology and more.

In some cases, the work of these talented experts is already making its way into the platforms on which millions of individuals and small businesses manage their finances (e.g., Mint, TurboTax, QuickBooks, etc.). However, most of their work is about understanding the impact of next-generation technology on their future customers.

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