Walker Sands Hosts Scott Brinker for Second Annual ‘Just a Book’

Where do hackers and marketers intersect? At Just a Book.

FullSizeRenderFor all of August we read and shared the salient takeaways from “Hacking Marketing” by Scott Brinker. On August 23rd, Walker Sands welcomed Scott into our Chicago office as the guest speaker to share more on how we can hack marketing to inspire teams and produce the best possible products. Additionally, we opened up our doors to 45 marketing professionals from technology companies across the Chicagoland area to continue the conversation we started online with Just a Book. Check out the action from the evening and see what others were saying on the twittersphere at the ‘Just a Book’ wrap up event!

Twitter visualization via WayIn:

Missed us this year and want to be included next? Just fill out the form on this page and we’ll make sure to get you on the list!

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Just a Book, Part 4: Scalability & Talent

Watch this video to learn how Scott Brinker hacks marketing by balancing innovation with scalability and empowers his team!

Last week we talked about embracing innovation through continuous testing and refining. This week we’ll get into the importance of balancing innovation to maintain constant scalability.

In most respects, the digital world makes finding and infiltrating marketing touchpoints easy; however, because of the exponential amount of touchpoints, scalability can be a big challenge. That paired with the urge to embrace constant innovation calls for a look at figuring out how to balance the two. Before finding balance, it’s important to understand the differences between the two and why they are both viable parts of marketing. Innovation emphasizes experimentation, possibilities, trial and error, questioning assumptions and speed, while scalability focuses on standardization, promises, foolproof approaches, assumptions and reliability.

Despite innovation and scalability being polar opposites, balance is attainable. The key to harmony between the two is taking the edge and core approach. The edge is where innovations emerge, freedom to experiment is given and MVPs thrive. The core is where reliable operations continue to run at scale while low risk ideas are simultaneously experimented with on the edge. The two relate as successful ideas transition from the edge to the core through stage gates; however, even if an idea never makes it from the edge to the core, it is not seen as a failure. The beauty of hacking marketing is to learn from what didn’t work and develop something that does work off of those ideas.

Walker-Sands-Just-a-Book-Week-4The core and the edge work together to maintain simplicity in a team full of complex and innovative ideas. To keep balanced levels of scalability and innovation, accidental complexity must be avoided and essential complexity expertly managed. Accidental complexity is a result of poor planning and too many people rushing in to help at the end, which complicates matters further. Essential complexity is the good kind of complexity. Like a sturdy bridge made up of intricate curves and angles, essential complexity is the inherent complexity comprising what you are working towards accomplishing. A good strategy will be complex in nature, but with strategic engineering and proper planning, you can omit accidental complexity and embrace essential complexity.

Here are five crucial tools recommended by Scott to hack complexity:

  • Refactoring
  • Pair marketing
  • Loosely coupled designs
  • Exception management
  • Built in testing and monitoring

How can marketers inspire their teams to embrace the spirit of hacking?

The answer is simple, make your people important, and make it known. Give them the tools and encouragement to become full stack marketers. But what’s a full stack marketer? Much like the developer variety, a full stack marketer understands how all of the marketing layers fit together. Full stack marketing is not something you can major in during undergrad (or even get a masters in) it is something learned over time by people who truly believe in the magic and power of hacking marketing.

Thanks for following along throughout the second annual ‘Just a Book’ with “Hacking Marketing” and Scott Brinker. We can’t wait to see you tonight for final thoughts from the author and more on how to hack marketing.

If you haven’t reserved your spot yet, don’t forget to RSVP here!

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Friday Five: 8/15 – 8/19


As you get hyped for the weekend, get hyped about the week’s latest tech trends:

How autonomous taxis will create an urban infrastructure that adapts to people’s needs – Fast Company

Just when we thought Uber was the height of technological convenience, taxibots came into play. Some urban areas are looking into city-run autonomous taxis that rove around the city based on predetermined routes. The taxis would have access to real-time city traffic data and would reroute based on patterns to eliminate congestion. Commuters will be able to set up machine learning-enabled automatic pick-ups from their homes, workplaces or other frequent destinations. Developers predict that taxibots will become so inexpensive that they may replace buses entirely.

Rakuten buys struggling bitcoin startup Bitnet to create a ‘blockchain research lab’ – TechCrunch

Online transactions may never be the same. Tokyo-based e-commerce giant Rakuten recently acquired the assets of Bitnet, a bitcoin wallet startup, to create a “bitcoin lab.” The new lab in Belfast will explore blockchain technology’s potential through research and development. This could have a huge impact on the fintech sector, and may finally provide some answers on how e-commerce leaders can best-utilize blockchain.

The stakes for iPhone 7 have never been higher – Business Insider

Apple plans to announce details about the iPhone 7 on September 7 – but are users feeling the hype? With iPhone sales fluctuating dramatically in recent years, the pressure is on for the tech giant to deliver. Experts say that it’s questionable whether the iPhone 7’s launch will generate the same amount of excitement and revenue as past versions like the iPhone 6s. Many fans are overlooking this version and waiting for the iPhone 8, which is expected to bring a radical design overhaul in 2017.

Eddie Bauer is latest retailer infected with data breach malware – Fortune

If you purchased an outdoorsy vest or some earthy hiking boots from Eddie Bauer recently, your credit card info may be in trouble. The outdoor clothing retailer is the latest in a string of point-of-sale malware attacks and recently announced that its customers’ card details may have been stolen.  Eddie Bauer estimates that about 350 of its stores in the U.S. and Canada were affected by the breach. This comes as part of a broader, sophisticated malware attack directed at many retailers, restaurants and hotels.

Google just made it even easier for you to vote this November – The Huffington Post

After simplifying nearly every aspect of our lives, Google has taken yet another step to assist its users. On Tuesday, the search engine giant unveiled its “how to vote” search guide in an effort to assist voters for the upcoming presidential election. When users search “how to vote” or a similar query, Google will provide a straightforward info box that’s personalized to users’ locations. The box will provide “how-to,” “requirements,” and “when to vote” tabs in order to streamline the process and encourage more people to engage in political participation.

What tech news did you come across this week? Share it with us on Twitter @WalkerSands!

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Walker Sands Honored with Fourth Consecutive Listing on Inc. 5000 List of Fastest Growing Companies

It’s with much excitement that we announce our fourth year honored in the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies!

We’ve said it time and time again, but in the past year we saw growth we never anticipated. Since the 2015 Inc. 5000 rankings, we’ve expanded our office space, gained 20 employees and opened up an office in San Francisco; however, the upward movement and perseverance is a true testament to our people.

Inc 5000 2016Last year when we earned a spot for the third consecutive year, we were overwhelmed with the strides we made as a company. Approaching our fourth year on the list, we are elated to be included with the likes of many other successful companies. In the 35th annual Inc. 500|5000, Walker Sands ranked 2398, keeping us in the top half for four consecutive years.

Please join me in applauding all of the hard work of our employees and the dedication of our amazing clients, the reasons we are able to gain such prestigious recognition year after year! Additional applause goes out to our clients who made the list this year including Finicity, InMoment, Kobie Marketing, Magnetic, OSM Worldwide, PointSource and PureCars.


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Intern Outing: Jazz Night at the Shedd Aquarium

The first round of Sandlot interns finished the program last week, and what better way is there to celebrate than listening to jazz with 32,000 sea animals?

Intern Pic 1

Walker Sands treated the whole gang of interns to “Jazzin’ at the Shedd” for some after-hours food, drinks and most importantly, sea otters. We listened to live jazz bands accompanying the sounds of barking sea lions and splashing beluga whales and bonded over bravely touching the stingrays in the hands-on exhibit (consensus: stingrays feel like old mushrooms).

The evening was another reminder of how great it is to work in downtown Chicago, where there’s no excuse not to be having fun after work. It also helps working at an office like Walker Sands, which has truly prioritized work-life balance – even for the interns.

As the first round of interns go, we’ll miss sitting at Intern Island and learning the ropes of Walker Sands together. Although we worked on different teams in different roles, we learned a lot from each other over the last twelve weeks of the Sandlot program.



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