A New Movement for a Better California

California is a state of great diversity, creativity and innovation. It is also a state of great inequality, injustice and exploitation. The billionaires who dominate our economy and politics have amassed enormous wealth and power, while millions of working people struggle to survive and have no say in the decisions that affect their lives. This is not acceptable. This is not sustainable. This is not the California we want.

That's the impetus for Rise Up California, a new movement of working people from different races and backgrounds who share a common vision and values for our state. Rise Up California is not a political party, a union, or a nonprofit organization. It is a grassroots network of community leaders who have been fighting for social justice and positive change in their neighborhoods, workplaces, schools and beyond. They have been involved in campaigns to improve housing conditions, protect immigrant rights, increase wages, fund education and more. They have seen the power of people's collective action and they know that we can win.

But they also know that winning individual battles is not enough. We need to challenge the whole system that creates inequality and oppression in the first place. We need to build a new California that is truly democratic and equitable. A California where everyone has a voice and a stake in the decisions that affect our lives. A California where everyone has access to the resources and opportunities they need to thrive.

That's why Rise Up California has developed a platform that reflects shared vision and values. A platform that was created by working people from across the state, based on our lived experiences and aspirations. A platform that demands:

  • Fix the Political System to Establish a Real Democracy
  • Protect Our Rights and Freedoms
  • Establish Community-Driven Public Safety
  • Meet People’s Basic Needs
  • Establish an Economic System that Prioritizes the Common Good
  • Investment in Community, Equity, & the Common Good

To read the full platform and to join this movement, visit RiseUpCa.org. Together, we can rise up and build a new California for ALL OF US. Rise Up California is also on Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook (page and community group).

New Sites Document Community Biochar Business Ventures

We've been working on a new group of websites to document AHG owner Adriel Hampton's efforts as a biochar entrepreneur. Adriel has been researching biochar as a carbon mitigation strategy, and has been interviewing popular chatbot ChatGPT about the ins and outs of biochar as an entrepreneurial focus.

You can read more about Adriel's biochar startup adventures at ClimateStartup.TV, where he is documenting the process of starting a biochar business, and interviewing interesting climate and carbon capture technology startups, founders, and entrepreneurs.

You can see more conversations between Adriel and ChatGPT about biochar at BiocharEntrepreneur.com.

We are also writing about a wide range of topics with a new focus on community biochar production and business development at HamptonBiochar.com.

Adriel is interested in biochar production as a companion business to AHG's digital services. He recently asked ChatGPT about the growth in biochar and technology industries:

While the biochar industry is growing rapidly and has significant potential for further expansion, the technology industry is currently growing at a much faster pace. The technology industry has experienced rapid growth in recent years, driven by advances in areas such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and mobile devices. This growth has resulted in a wide range of new products and services, as well as significant changes to the way that businesses operate. While the biochar industry is an important and growing sector, it is not currently growing at the same pace as the technology industry.

Let's see what we can do to even things up...

Avoid Election-Season Burnout

Guest Post

Election season can be a stressful time for everyone, but it's especially hard on those of us working in politics and political media. Campaigning, working with email data and append services, reporting, and organizing volunteers for phone banking all take a toll. During the most intense peak of these cycles, it's important to be aware of the signs of burnout so you can avoid it.

Common symptoms 

Some commonly-reported symptoms of burnout include exhaustion, cynicism, and detachment. If you notice yourself slipping into these, it is especially important to take a step back and assess your situation. Is it possible to delegate any of your tasks? Take a moment to breathe and assess your workload so you can prioritize.

What can you do to preserve your mental health and react accordingly if you notice yourself burning out? 

  1. Make sure you're taking breaks and disconnecting from the news and social media every once in a while. This is a challenge when your job is directly related to what is happening in the media. If you cannot fully disconnect from the constant barrage of breaking news and online discourse, at least schedule 5-10 minute breaks from your screens. Taking breaks for a few minutes every few hours to clear your head and help you regulate your emotions will make maintaining relationships easier.
  2. Schedule time with friends and loved ones, and do things that help you unwind and relax. Mental overwhelm may have you feeling like you can’t look up from your work even for a minute but taking a walk together, making a meal, or taking a moment for a hug from a member of your family or support network can help you return to your tasks more relaxed and ready to focus.
  3. Exercise and eat healthy foods to help reduce unnecessary stress levels. Much of the stress is out of your control but what you put in your body is. This can be tough because fast food and sugary snacks are easy and convenient. Don’t forget to drink water and have some nourishing foods around even if you choose to visit a drive-through to save time.
  4. Avoid getting into arguments with people who have drastically different political views than you. This one may be the hardest of them all. Remember your energy is finite. You only have so much. Try to spend your limited time and attention on the things that matter and have the potential to create material change. Arguing rarely does anything but deplete you. Productive, good-faith conversations don’t include name-calling or a rise in blood pressure.

Remember that you're not alone and this experience is temporary. The stakes may be high but this period of urgency will end. This is easily forgotten in the thick of stress but you don’t have to suffer in isolation. Reach out to your network for support. Remember in times like these, a deep breath is always available and you will get through this. 'Til the next election!

Photo: Claudia Wolff / Unsplash

Mark Stock

Head of Inside Sales at Accela, tech advisor

Smart Man, Good Heart, Intense Work Ethic. Need one of you in every city, Adriel.

Four (Fun) Ways to Improve Marketing Performance

Data-driven marketing is about a lot more than just clean, complete lists with accurate phone, email, and address data. To get the best results for your outbound campaigns to reach and convert your prospective customers, it’s important to continually test and improve your campaigns. And we mean a lot more than simple A/B tests.

With our campaign advertising thinking caps on, we’ve put together four ways that you can test and improve your campaign performance to grow revenue faster:

Creative Test Design. The most common type of test is “A/B,” simply splitting an audience into two random samples—with different headlines for example—and then extending the more popular campaign to the remainder of your audience. A little boring…

Creative marketers are constantly looking at comparative performance data to improve the next campaign, and creating meaningful variations that help you understand the bigger picture. Can we segment our audience by meaningful differences such as housing status, household income, interest in environmentally friendly products, age, and more? Are we comparing results between like groups such as past customers vs. leads? Audience segmentation is one of the best ways to start measuring and improving your campaigns. (Use this resource to determine whether you have a meaningful sample size.)

Social Ads. With a platform like Meta (Instagram and Facebook ads), it’s simple and inexpensive to set up dynamic ad variants or several different campaigns with different creative and a custom or native audience. In many of our experiments, we’ve found that images often account for a 500% difference between winners and losers, and that the best image in a test of eight to 12 will be 30-100% better than the campaign average. You can do the same type of testing with text on images or on-ad descriptions. While Meta ads can automatically favor a winner, deliberate campaign design can help you tease out insights that will help all of your campaigns – even direct mail. You can also improve your website and other marketing materials based on what social media users tell you about your campaigns.

Layering Your Campaigns. Customers are more likely to buy if they see your campaigns all over the place. That could mean using Meta and Google’s ad platforms, but things get really exciting when you start using customer data to create custom digital audiences that match your offline marketing. What if everyone who got your calls, texts, or direct mail was also seeing your winning creative at their desktop and on their cell throughout the week? How about visitors to your site getting direct mail a week or two later?

Free Data Test. AHG client Accurate Append specializes in consumer data and can help improve your contact rate and custom digital audience matches. Accurate Append routinely provides more phone append and email append matches than the competition, and is happy to demonstrate. Visit their site and ask for a free data test to learn how many more opportunities to reach your contacts this data provider can add to your list.. Data-driven marketing isn’t just testing, it’s also about starting with the best possible audience outreach.

Data, Universes, and Quantum Self-Help?

"In 1952, Erwin Schrödinger gave a lecture in which he jocularly warned his audience that what he was about to say might “seem lunatic”. He said that when his equations seemed to describe several different histories, these were “not alternatives”, but all really happened simultaneously."

The number of universes is not "objective" but, following the work of Andrei Linde and Vitaly Vanchurin in 2010, is partly determined/limited by "our own abilities to distinguish between different universes and to remember our results." And if this is true, then the ability to manage larger and larger data sets, like contacts, constituents, and demographics, may actually be helping to create more universes whose results we remember by retaining and managing as data

Now, it's obvious these changes will have profound effects on our personal psychologies, our relationships, and even our minds. It's a little premature and opportunistic to try to catalog these changes and market our insights about them. For example, when Sir Isaac Newton articulated a theory of gravity, revolutionary at the time, did some other idea-peddler think he might be able to teach a course on how to use gravity to improve your love life or "attract" money. It's natural that advancements in science, especially in physics, give rise to popularized interpretations of the "metaphysical" implications of physics. But these byproducts aren’t necessarily enjoyable. 

The physics of parallel universes and realities is no exception. This physics is still easing its way into our collective consciousness; and as Marie Laure-Ryan writes, it is "not yet solidly established in our private encyclopedias . . . to suspend momentarily our intuitive belief in a classical cosmology." It was inevitable that, when the nature of quantum reality and parallel universes developed in the early 2010s, there would emerge a new subcategory of life coaches: quantum life coaches. 

The transposition of quantum theory to life coaching practice and the self-help industry rests on this foundational argument: if reality is unlimited and there are possible worlds where different assumptions or outcomes had completely redefined the parameters of the possible, we can more easily change our lives, feel less fixed and permanent, not feel trapped by our choices or that which is beyond our choice. Thus, one life coach published Quantum Jumps in 2013, asserting "that we exist in an interconnected holographic multiverse in which we literally jump from one parallel universe to another . . . In a moment you can become smarter... more confident... happier... more outgoing... more effective... in better relationships... with more willpower. Gain practical tools to achieve real change in your life, regardless of past history." Similarly, in Advanced Quantum Jumping Using Water: High Frequency Affinity to Attract Money, Love, Health and Attunement published in 2019, we learn that it's our "frequency" that makes us "emotionally or financially unstable, overweight, and unhappy . . . all you have to do is tune into a new frequency where you are happy, emotionally, and financially stable, and at a healthy state." Why? Because "there are these alternate versions of you in the universe where these things are present." The author likely means alternate universes; but in any case, "the possibilities are endless", an audacious conclusion based on a very cursory reading of the actual physics.

There is, of course, a tiny kernel of truth here that is, at least in a metaphorical sense, related to the quantum axiom that perception plays a role in shaping reality. Beyond that, though, these books don't really engage the full paradigmatic implications of quantum reality on, say, personal ethics and relationships. 

A good test for how "wooey" these psycho-populist self-help approaches to quantum reality really are is how much they hype up our "freedom" to transcend material realities. Contemporary physics may be able to get by without a notion of time (thus enabling opportunistic self-help authors to suggest we shouldn't dwell on the past), but it still retains the notion of causation (thus implying, I would think, that we can still "make mistakes"). To paraphrase a certain controversial theorist of political economy, we can make our history, but we can't make it any way we please.

So I think there are better spaces to explore ethics, self-concept, and care for others in the quantum paradigm. Here are a couple of thoughts: First, we can critically examine our very strange ideas and applications of risk. For example, we normalize driving cars, an extremely risky act. But if we act "unnaturally" responsibly while driving, as David Pearce writes, being extra careful driving is a way of "minimis[ing] the number of branches [of reality] in which one injures anyone," even if some injuries are unavoidable. The idea of the multiverse, with each subject's choices influencing other universes, widely expands our concern for "others." 

Second is a more historical and justice-oriented interpretation, which begins with an important metaphor: diaspora. In the multiverse, "diaspora" can be seen as a kind of involuntary universe-jumping. Artists from historically oppressed communities, like Stan Squirewell, see the ancestors as "ancient futurist or psycho-mystics" who encoded this universe-jumping. Squirewell's "aesthetic is in direct lineage (but not limited) to the geometric patterns of West African indigenous peoples such as the Akan and the Ndebele etc. The black protean character that pervades my work is derived from mythological water deities like the Greek god Proteus and the Caribbean water spirit Mami Wata." Visual artists can see the patterns in mythology, architecture, and other fields, myth becoming code. The coding creates the links; change the coding and we can change the links. The symbolic strategies of oppressed people link them with other oppressed people

So while it's probably not harmful that people might sell a few books deploying watered-down quantum theory to convince us that we can overcome our personal limits, it's far richer to consider larger social implications and the potential for new layers of human and ecological solidarity. Thinkers from east to west correctly predicted in the 20th century that the revelations of Heisenberg, Schrodinger and Einstein would inexorably change our ethics and politics. It's about a lot more than re-imagining ourselves getting that big raise or improving our love lives (even if those might feel very important).

One-Dimensional Man[agement]: LinkedIn and Absorbent Liberalism

Guest poster: Matt Stannard

Published in 1964, One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society by Herbert Marcuse examines and criticizes both the communist and capitalist empires of the time — the United States and the Soviet Union — to examine how ruling classes create false needs, mediate public deliberation, and absorb dissent. The simple explanation for how advanced industrial societies do the latter is that they recast it as loyal opposition, watering down the revolutionary or structural implications of social criticism and creating manageable reforms which, by owing their creation to the original criticisms, appear to be fulfillments of them. But besides just re-narrating dissent as loving criticism, liberal societies also create networks that integrate subversive, anti-hierarchical ideas into existing systems. 

The capitalist “West” did this better than the Stalinist “East”. Critiques of the wage system manifested small wage hikes and minor worker protections. Critiques of militarism and colonialism resulted in greater integration of and empowerment of certain groups within the military ranks, and PR campaigns about benevolent soldiers or cops. Critiques of patriarchy birthed campaigns to bring more women into the executive class. 

This continues today and, in many ways, LinkedIn — the business-oriented social network started in 2003 by Reid Hoffman — is a living example of Marcuse's "absorbent liberalism" (my term, not Marcuse's), by which I mean the most noble and healthy liberal ideas are unapologetically cast as elements in entrepreneurial capitalism. In fact, one thing LinkedIn does particularly well is integrate all the sectors we have long believed to be exclusive of one another: the public and private sector, academia and the non-academic "real world," technological and intellectual labor. Everyone can create a professional profile on LinkedIn and sell themselves, even full-time anti-systemic activists. Surrounding it all, like a mesh WiFi network, is the framework of contemporary capitalism, which earnestly needs all of it: the poets and the plows, the intellectuals and the electricians, the rebels and the human resource managers. 

"Help make LinkedIn more inclusive," reads a recent demographic questionnaire sent via email. As I read through and answered the questions — my race, my age, my sexual orientation and gender identity — it occurred to me that a huge portion of the ownership, entrepreneurial, and managerial classes would probably find these questions mildly irritating or politically offensive. At any given time, it seems like 30-ish to 40-ish percent of surveyed Americans preferred the anti-woke politics of Donald Trump, Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, while a smaller portion (but not insignificant; we're talking business owners and cops and such) are even comfortable with Marjorie Taylor Greene and Tucker Carlson. To whom is LinkedIn directed? 

One answer may be that members of the professional class, from upper-level managers to corporate attorneys, may have accepted and integrated themselves into the techno-liberalism of the LinkedIn crowd even while spouting or silently assenting to reactionary politics outside of their work life. This is economics massaging politics, which is the function of the inclusive liberal state. And networking, like the collection of data on constituencies and clients, is an apolitical need.

What is clear is that LinkedIn is a self-consciously absorbative project. A 2015 New Yorker profile of Hoffman ties his techno-non-topianism to earlier sociological and economic templates of "Man." Hoffman believes "we can fix the problem [of inequality] through Internet-enabled networks. Work is already becoming more temporary, sporadic, and informal, and this change should be embraced. Many more people will become entrepreneurial, if not entrepreneurs. The keeper of your career will be not your employer but your personal network—so you’d better put a lot of effort into making it as extensive and as vital as possible." The article calls Hoffman a "twenty-first-century version of William H. Whyte’s . . . 1956 book 'The Organization Man'" but the same template, that sociological profile of types of "men," sparked the title of Marcuse's treatise a decade later: One-Dimensional Man, herald of comprehensive social engineering that functions to keep power structures in place, to shape-shift the closures of society rather than open spaces for genuine human emancipation. 

Thus, we note the presence of LinkedIn Learning management classes emphasizing skills and competencies along with the development of leadership attitudes and attributes. The concept of "leadership" must remain deliberately fluid and feel nonhierarchical and non-dominionist. First-time managers are told that to transition into leadership, you need to "become a better listener, and connect to your employees emotionally." 

But LinkedIn also incorporates critiques of managerialism, and even of neoliberalism. Take the writing of Michael Judd, a healthcare administrator interested in alternative models of leadership and organization in support of collaborative models of health care, writing about them on LinkedIn. In one of his essays, Judd navigates the awkward terrain between professionalism and revolutionary critique. This pragmatic reality supposes that educated workers, even managers, may learn from and incorporate alternatives into business structures reliant on the old order. Judd transitions from a concluding paragraph on neoliberal, neo-colonial exploitation of labor to calls for understanding diversity in the workplace. For him, neoliberalism's threat to diversity is in the streamlining that happens when all production, and even all intellectual discourse, is reduced to production for profit. Ultimately Judd hopes that our drive to be social beings will counter the alienating effects of neoliberal capitalism. It's not a communist vision he puts forward as his utopia, but a liberal one: "the right to question authority and the laws that govern our society. It is the right to equality, justice and liberty for all, regardless of race, class, gender, age, disability, diagnosis, or any other stratifying label."  

And you can't blame smart, well-meaning people from this manner of incorporation and cooptation, and it may be more useful to look for ways that thinking, compassionate humans can incorporate emancipatory critique in their everyday lives (than critiquing the whole system like some kind of monolith). Liberalism, the pragmatic argument goes, may be the best we can do, and rejecting it may invite authoritarianism and anti-intellectualism before egalitarian revolution. Better to build inclusive markets than invite exclusionary violence. 

It's a persuasive argument, and it will work until it stops working, which some argue it already has. 

This post was sponsored by my client Accurate Append, which provides high quality data and email append services to support organizations, empower campaigns and connect businesses with their customers.

The Quantum Computer Brain Theory

A slew of recent articles have likened the human brain to a quantum computer, including one titled, "Your brain might be a quantum computer that hallucinates math" — an article by Tristan Greene at The Next Web. Quantum mechanics has changed, continues to change and will likely still change everything. As the "math that explains matter", it has played a role in "cell phones to supercomputers, DVDs to PDFs." 

Reality is neither absolute nor predictable in the microworld: uncertainty is its fundamental condition. In fact, science is far better at predicting odds than assuring outcomes. In 1921 chemist William D. Harkins wrote: “Since it concerns itself with the relations between matter and radiation…[quantum theory]... is of fundamental significance in connection with almost all processes which we know.” 

In 1927 Werner Heisenberg's revealed “that deterministic cause-and-effect physics failed when applied to atoms.” In fact, he determined it was impossible “to measure both the location and velocity of a subatomic particle at the same time. If you measured one precisely, some uncertainty remained for the other.” This observation heralded the revolutionary change then characterizing physics. 

In many ways, quantum theory frames our physical reality in ways that sound like a philosophical or psychological thought experiment, rather than physics. The observer is inseparable from the observed. Everything seems and behaves as if interconnected even if we don't know why. You can't predetermine how a photon will behave; you can only observe it from one perspective and watch as it changes, almost in response to your observation. Things can be off and on at the same time. The ability to be off and on, 0 and 1, at the same time makes things work exponentially faster. If these were human traits, they would indicate refusal to recognize limits, willingness to live with ambiguity and openness to the dynamics of perpetual change. Recent research into the quantum attributes of our brains suggests that quantum traits are human traits — at least that our brains can be accurately described as (slightly slimy and meaty) quantum computers. 

Theories about the quantum nature of the brain have existed for a few decades. For some theoreticians, consciousness is itself a quantum process. For others, quantum concepts are more aptly understood as rhetorical or metaphorical ways of describing consciousness. Still others believe that matter and consciousness are "dual" substances in the same underlying reality. 

Most recently, research squads at the Universities of Bonn and Tübingen have tied "simple processes" to our identities as quantum computers. The researchers found "abstract codes" for processing arithmetic — specifically addition and subtraction — in the brain. They discovered that the neurons firing during addition were different from those firing for subtraction problems, and that different parts of the brain were deployed for diagnoses and solutions to problems. One of the researchers explained: “We found that different neurons fired during additions than during subtractions . . . it is as if the plus key on the calculator were constantly changing its location. It was the same with subtraction."The study shows that different neurons fire for different cognitive functions, and the brain is capable of learning the difference between those functions. 

In reviewing older research, we find further linkages between human brain activity and quantum mechanics. In learning tasks, recurrent neural networks "not only learn the prescribed input-output relation but also the sequence in which inputs have been presented." They also learn to interpret what to do "if the sequence of presentation is changed." Meaning in natural languages transcends the mere matching and calculations of symbols; the entanglement of language is quantum entanglement. 

In fact, the case is so compelling and consistent that it might be worth asking whether the brain is a quantum computer or whether quantum mechanics, our systemic perception and interpretation of quantum reality, is modeled after our own brains? After all, we've been able to perform sophisticated and nuanced calculations and synthesize seemingly inconsistent data for as long as our current brains were evolutionarily manifest. The first solid evidence of the existence of counting was about 20,000 years ago: a dead baboon's fibula bone with a series of symmetrical lines cut into it, and which archaeologists guess was used to tally something. Much later — around 4000 BC and when people were living in cities — that formal number and counting systems — mathematics — was developed to keep track of all the people, animals, and things (for example, foodstuffs). The invention of zero constructed another layer of complexity.

Our brains have long been able to tally and to keep track of things through a demarcation that we can safely call counting, whether we had a language for it as such. Our brains could already calculate, and even understand the idea of nothing without the concept of zero; and, functionally, it could perform calculations as needed. Thus, the question of when we developed numerical systems, and therefore math, is then a material, historical, collective question. 

Math isn't just counting; and even within counting, the ability to categorize and create sets implies an interpretive power that cannot be reduced to quantification. Somewhere along the way, quantifying becomes qualifying, quantity becomes quality, and that's where the quantum function comes in — the reality that the whole is more than the sum of its parts, that cause and effect might be blurred and that things can (must) be interpreted and predicted. After all, the presence of this interpretation is the criteria for designating a computer program "artificial intelligence." 

Finally, consider the set of phenomena we call communication. We interpret and exchange symbols in a web of signification that is as predictive, uncertain and inseparable from perception as photons are. We don't simply store information and then process, modify and retrieve it. (In fact, oftentimes we need help with such activities, especially when we need to organize large quantities of data. That’s why we might turn to services like Accurate Append’s data appending, which allows organizations, campaigns and businesses to fill gaps in their data.) Rather, we, as humans, figure it out through often-clumsy and always-imperfect communication. Philosopher Jacques Derrida points that all language is "problematic" in a deeply fundamental way, and that this is a "stroke of luck" for those who appreciate communication, because absent that "problematicity," we would have no reason to speak, to discuss. "How else," Derrida asks, "would what we call 'misunderstanding' be possible?" 

In many ways, likening the brain to a quantum computer could be getting it "backwards"; but as Feynman diagrams (the basis for one kind of time travel) tell us, at the quantum level there is no forward or backward. Maybe the model of the quantum brain is both cause and effect simultaneously. 

How to Build Your Company's Marketing Strategy From the Ground Up

If you’ve just started your own business, you need to increase visibility for your company. That means creating a comprehensive strategy for your brand new marketing department. Even if you’re interested in working with a marketing agency like The Adriel Hampton Group, you’ll want to spend a considerable amount of time plotting out the general details of your company’s marketing strategy. These steps will give you a blueprint for designing an effective marketing strategy for your company.

Invest in Templates

Even if you’re building your marketing strategy from the ground up, you don’t have to start completely from scratch. In fact, using premade templates to outline your brand details and different marketing initiatives can make the process much more efficient.

For example, if you’re getting ready to release a new product, you might be tempted to put together a unique go-to-market strategy - but chances are, you’ll be surprised by how complex this task really is. To make matters easier, you can utilize a go-to-market strategy template. A template like this will help you organize your business plan and marketing strategy along with other key details for your product launch. By creating your strategy with a premade template, you can establish a seamless process.

Hire Support

With your long to-do list as a business owner, you might not have much time to focus exclusively on marketing. While you’ll want to be involved in the development of your marketing strategy, you may want to hire marketing specialists to handle the bulk of the work in this area. Reach out to your network to see if any of your professional contacts can refer you to marketing experts.

Identify Your Target Customers

In order to get a significant return on investment from your marketing efforts, you need to have a specific idea of your target customer. Basically, you’ll need an in-depth understanding of their demographics, budget, and the problems that your company can help them solve with your products and services. If you’re still unsure of your audience, Market Evolution recommends looking closely at the consumers that your competitors target with their own marketing initiatives - who are they attempting to reach?

Establish Your Brand Identity

You want to ensure that all of your marketing materials clearly convey your brand’s identity. But what if you’re still a little uncertain about your brand identity? Don’t stress - working with your team to determine the values you want your brand to communicate, and how you can visually represent these values, is an opportunity to get creative and dive into the purpose of your business. Rebrandly recommends thinking about your company’s mission and what kind of brand voice will resonate with your audience. You should also consider how your font, color scheme, and logo will appeal to your customers.

Consider Your Messaging

In marketing terms, messaging refers to what you’re saying to your audience. But you don’t just want to focus on the content of your message - you also need to carefully determine your tone and how you can play with language to connect with your customers. Depending on which channel you’re concentrating on, you may need to modify your messaging slightly due to the medium itself or the specific customer segment you’re trying to reach. You can brainstorm different messages for each campaign.

Digital Channels

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of marketing channels, it’s time to brush up on your knowledge! A marketing channel refers to a platform or communication route that you use to get in touch with your audience. For example, digital channels include email marketing, social media marketing, video advertising, and even search engine optimization. Digital marketing is a great way to connect with younger, tech-savvy consumers.

Offline Channels

Although lots of companies focus on digital marketing today, you don’t want to neglect offline marketing channels like cold calling, direct mail marketing, and placing ads in print publications, especially if you’re trying to advertise to an older customer base. Bulletin boards in local cafes, telephone poles, and billboards can also function as offline marketing channels!

Measure KPIs

How can you really be sure that your marketing strategy is working? You need to measure and monitor several key performance indicators to ensure that you’re getting the results you want. There are endless KPIs you could measure, so try not to get too overwhelmed! You’ll want to start by focusing on cost per customer acquisition, customer retention, cost per lead, marketing qualified leads, and, of course, sales revenue.

If you’re fairly new to the basic principles of marketing, designing your company’s marketing strategy can seem tricky. But once you get a clear picture of your target audience and start testing out different methods, you’ll quickly start to learn which promotional techniques work best for your business. With time, you’ll be able to grow your customer base!

Ready to optimize your organization’s marketing strategy? The Adriel Hampton Group can help you reach new audiences. Email us today at [email protected] to get started.

Photo by Kindel Media from Pexels

Can We Communicate with Plants?

The classification of a living being as "plant" does not exclude consciousness. In fact, most contemporary definitions hinge upon plants' particular cellular formations, and their ability to photosynthesize. Earlier definitions emphasized plants' rootedness, their inability to be mobile the way animals were – but even that definition is not precise. Regardless, there is no intrinsic reason that plants cannot, in addition to their other characteristics, also possess some kind of consciousness. Indeed, recent research continues to move in the direction of concluding that plants not only behave purposefully, but also transmit "messages.”

Such messages might seem to some a loose interpretation of the concept, and it does rely on the assumption that ‘communication’ of any kind requires mutual (if imperfect) interpretation, and not just a stimulus and response. Such a definition applies to human communication as well; we may not fully understand each other, but we intend to understand, interpret and ultimately derive meaning from one another's utterances, or “signs.”

We know that plants "communicate" with each other, in that they convey and receive seemingly purposeful signals. The signals are more than just reflexes – one thing moving or influencing another thing. Ecologist James Cahill says that there are obvious "strategies" in inter-plant or plant-environment communication. "Plants can’t run away, so they have to develop other strategies to stay alive," suggests one article describing his argument. The signals manifest through the use of chemicals, but the chemicals are not mere tools; rather, they are signal-tools.

The most remarkable fact to emerge from the discovery of plants communicating with other plants or with other parts of their environment is the idea that they "cry for help" or in general express "distress" over being eaten by bugs and other creatures. Although "suffering" is certainly an anthropomorphic concept, the data suggests plants do the plant-equivalent of crying for help, eavesdropping on other plants being eaten in order to strengthen their own defenses, and tell animals they can nest in them in order to benefit from animal waste. These may not be unmistakable acts of sharing meaning and interpretation, but they are more than mere impulse-motion.

So can humans ever create meaningful communication with plants? What would this entail? Communication is about signaling. Signs, signals, referrals, indications – everything is part of a complex "web of signification." For logician Gottlieb Frege, the meaning of a given sign is a function of its relationships within that web. That relationship is articulated through interpretation – the receiver receives the message and assigns it meaning. The subjects in communication, individual and collective, interpret others (and their own) signals. This interpretation is always imperfect (the late postmodern philosopher Jacques Derrida believed language had to be problematic for communication to exist at all), but we do it anyway.

So while we have exchanged electronic signals with plants, I don't believe we've established anything close to "communication" with them, because although we are "interpreting" their own outward directed gestures (electrical currents, the generation of sounds) as "signals" of biological need or distress, we have no idea whether they are framing those phenomena as signals, and we can't really distinguish them from the messages they are already sending to other plants and non-human life. And do plants collect and organize data?

New research casts some skepticism: a "team of Singaporean scientists discovered that communication between plants and humans is possible by tracing electric signals diffused by plants." Since we can barely call the electric sensations "signals," and there is no evidence of interpretation going on in the plants (only reflex), we have to decide that the evidence is inconclusive. Likewise, the fact that humans can send electronic sensations that make plants do things (shrink back, move, grow faster or slower) indicates that humans have established a level of mechanical control over plants, not that we can communicate with them. The article about the Singaporian experiment goes on to say that "signals can be controlled [by humans] to broaden the plants' abilities and functions." We can interpret their signals, but our signals back to them are just attempts to technologically control them. It lacks the reciprocity of created meaning, or at least we are not seeking the plants' messages for themselves.

Some of this is definitional and some of it is biological. Brains transmit meaning through neurons, and plants don't have neurons. Plants seem to transmit electrical signals, but to what end we don't know.

But it's important to emphasize that "we don't know" is the real takeaway. We don't know that the sensations being transmitted are interpretable or convey meaning in any way similar to what we think meaning is. There are also as-yet-unexplained data that raises more questions, like the "clicking" that one writer's plants made when she was alone in a room with them (and listening to their roots through special microphones), clicking that stopped when visitors entered the room, started up again when they left, then stopped when more people entered the room. This could be a very sophisticated reflex, but could also be a purposive response of some kind. Scientists admit that to say the clicks are communicative "requires further evidence." After all, response to stimuli is only the very basic root element of communication – necessary, for sure, but not sufficient.

Although not everyone will recognize it as such, the question of whether humans and plants could actually communicate is an important one. The stakes are high both philosophically and practically. Philosophically, it makes sense to see whether we can communicate with radically different living beings here before figuring out how we'll communicate with extraterrestrial beings. Being able to "stretch" ourselves across kingdoms is the ultimate test of our adaptability. And perhaps actually communicating with plants would teach us something about how the rest of the living world orients to time. Practically speaking, "early detection of diseases in crops could result in high food security for us humans," and what better way to check for those diseases than to ask plants how they are feeling and receive an answer.