Software That Helps Communicate Facial Expressions

“Feelings, whoa, whoa, whoa, feelings….” as the Morris Albert song goes…are not always expressed in a meaningful way by everybody.

While it may not matter as much on an interpersonal level, when there are millions of advertising/marketing dollars on the line you may want a better understanding of consumer “feelings”.

For decades, advertising and marketing agencies have employed focus groups to help their clients better understand their customers. However, using the more traditional methods of collecting data isn’t always fool proof.

Today there is a way to take the guesswork out of interpreting focus group results using facial recognition software.

High Tech Answer
There are 2 primary companies who have dove into this field with both feet.

1) Affectiva is a spinoff of MIT’s Media Lab and their software claims to be able to get an accurate measurement of people’s true feelings with what they claim is the largest database of facial expressions, correlate-able to their appropriate emotions.

And 2) Eyeris who have already sold their flagship software EmoVu to 3-letter law enforcement for use during interrogations. Now, Eyeris is exploring how to embed EmoVu into consumer electronics. The idea is to tap into the camera of a smart TV (or phone) to understand what the people in the room are enjoying (or not) and to make recommendations for other programming to watch! Rest assured it’s a feature that the consumer will be able to turn on or off.

Knight Rider Revisited
Both companies are considering their technology for the automotive industry. Imagine a car that will recognize your facial expressions and react accordingly. If you were falling asleep…it might suggest you pull over for a nap or if it saw that you were getting aggravated in traffic it might suggest some relaxing music. Another application might be in hospitals to gauge the true feelings of post operative patients to help make treatment decisions to aid with their recovery.

Knight Rider

When it comes to understanding consumer behaviour the implications for this kind of technology are far reaching. Any advertising or marketing firm who want to be able to give the best information to their clients should at least be considering this software.

Technology Crutch
The technology shouldn’t be used as a cover-all but to help in asking the right focus group participant, the right question. If one subject reacts in a negative way to a commercial or product presentation for example, it opens the door to specifically ask them a question to understand why.

A warning: the data attainable by facial recognition software should be used as an aid, not as pure illumination.

I have always been and remain a fan of Clotaire Rapaille‘s method of gaining insight for his clients, but if you are looking for a high tech solution one of the aforementioned will get the job done.


The Simpler the Message, the Better


It was a beautiful spring morning in Montréal, the kind we had dreamt about all winter long, the smell of Saturday was calling out, the birds were singing their morning song, the smell of freshly cut grass occasionally blew in. My wife, my sons and I decided to go out for brunch at a local restaurant. As we sat there on the terrace I noticed a group of teenagers across the street who were holding a car wash, whether they were a softball team, soccer team, school band I wasn’t quite sure. It was obvious however that they were having quite a difficult time attracting anyone despite the fact that there had been a downpour the night before. They were waving their signs, yelling and jumping up and down but to no avail. After watching this scene for maybe half an hour and as our waitress cleared the table I had an idea…was it a need to help or just my own selfish desire to prove a point I don’t know. I grabbed a black sharpee from the car and ran across the street. After introducing myself and my idea I took 4 of their signs, flipped them over and simply wrote “Car Wash $10”. I headed back to the restaurant to enjoy my freshly frothed cappuccino and to see my plan unfold. Sure enough, before I could get past the foam topping, cars had started to pull into the parking lot and by the time I had paid the bill, there was a line-up! All in a days work I thought as I piled my family into the car to head home and turned on the radio just like I had told one of my clients the week before ‘the simpler the message the better’!

While the kids had thought to bring all of their buckets, wash cloths, hoses, soap and a change of cloths all the elements you need for a successful car wash they hadn’t thought about how they were going to attract their customer. Their attempts were confusing at best, each one of their signs had different messages each explaining in a different way what the car wash was for, why they should stop and let them wash their car etc. What they needed was one simple and clear message to attract customers “Car Wash $10”.

Think It Through
So how does this apply to branding your radio station? Think about it, you’ve spent millions of dollars buying and setting up a transmitter, setting up a radio station, hiring the right people and picking the right music, but how much thought have put into the message you’re using to attract customers.

It has been said that radio people are so close to their radio station that all they see are the trees. Radio listeners on the other hand see the forest, the bigger picture. Well these days in our over communicated world (as Nick Michaels calls it)  I’ll take it a further step back! Radio listeners today are seeing that forest as they fly down the highway of life doing 100km/h!! So how do you expect them to see what it is you’re selling amidst a landscape filled with messages? We have to create a message that is so simple, so clear that nobody can miss its intention. “Car Wash $10”.

Some products can be as easily identified by there positioning statement as by the brand name or logo. Here are some examples:

• “The Real Thing”
• “Mm’mm Good”
• “I’m lovin’ it”
• “Eat Fresh”
• “Just Do It”

Your Brand Message
So what message are you giving to your listeners?

• Your Favourites of the 70’s 80’s 90’s and Today
• The Rock Station That Really Rocks
• Give us 30 minutes. We’ll give you an incredible variety of songs
• The only radio station that gives you 50-minute music hours
• Rebooting your workday, with all your favourite songs from all your favourite stars

All very nice but memorable? No. You need to pick a word or short phrase and own it. Make it signify what your station is in the mind of your listener. Your message needs to be sharpened to the point where it can cut through the clutter. Keep it simple, keep it focused, keep it clear, keep it consistent and you’ll get them lining up around the corner.

9 Awesome Websites for Royalty Free Stock Images for Commercial Use


Whether you’re building a website, blog post, creating an info graphic or ad campaign, here are 9 of my favourite places to get royalty free stock images.

1. PIXABAY – Has got to be the easiest of these website to search for the right picture. You can use the category browser or use the “search” feature. The only downside to the search feature is that sometimes it will show you pictures that come from paying services like Shutterstock which kind of defeats the purpose, but that’s how the finance the website.

2. GRATISOGRAPHY – Another beautifully designed website, easy to browse. There are lots of fun and quirky choices here…also some very attractive shots too. All pictures were photographed by Ryan McGuire and free of copyright restrictions.

3. PICOGRAPHY – While the collection here is smaller than the previously mentioned websites, the pictures are truly stunning. Try the search feature and see what you can come up with for your next project in need of a photo. Picography is also looking for your input on their pics, note the comments set ion for each pic.

4. PUBLIC DOMAIN ARCHIVE – The collection here is likewise smaller, but the quality of those images is high. This website is put together by Matt Hobbs and his family. For a small fee ($10/month) you can get access to a private collection of images and bulk downloads.

5. UNRESTRICTED STOCK – While they do provide high quality photographs, the forte of this website seems to be it’s vector graphics and icon sets. Be sure to read their license agreement before you download.

6. LIFE OF PIX – You can use the Google-esque search engine or browse through another set of stunningly amazing pictures by category here. This website I’m proud to say has been put together by a local Montreal agency (Leeroy Advertising Agency).

7. PIC JUMBO – Another fantastic set of images for you to use in your personal or commercial work. What I like the most about this website (besides the photographs of course) is the “test-drive” feature that lets you see what the photo you’re thinking of downloading in various contexts. Try it out! This website also provides a premium service ($6/month) where you can have pics sent directly to your email.

8. UNSPLASH – Even more beautiful photographs here but in a “non-splashy” format. The Ello-ish style helps to keep your attention on the pictures themselves and not on the web design.

9. NEW OLD STOCK – And just incase you’re looking for picture from days gone past, this website should be your go-to. As it says on their rights-and-usage page, these photos are “to the best of my knowledge” available to the public domain. Depending on the picture you may want to verify if it’s OK to use in your project.

BONUS RESOURCE: DESYGNER – This may be the ultimate resource for royalty free photos. They offer millions of high-quality free photos that you can use commercially. It’s an extensive collection of free images from Pixabay, Unsplash, Photodexia, and Google, all in one platform.

Take your time to explore this list and decide which websites to bookmark for your next project. Depending on your style and what you’re looking for some of them will be better suited to your needs than others. If you feel compelled, share this post using one of the methods below. Happy browsing!

The Problem with Small Businesses Marketing Strategy


When it comes to getting new customers my mantra has always been “stop communicating, start connecting” and there is no better streamlined tool for doing that today than social media, specifically Facebook and Twitter.

The problem starts when small businesses focus all of their attention on that aspect of marketing and push aside the other 80% of their marketing strategy! And so it becomes imperative of one to be able to perfectly elucidate the a company’s vision & motives. If you think what you write as the company’s vision isn’t upto the benchmark or upto your satisfaction, then you always have the option of hiring business plan writers online.

Rich Gordon, a professor at Northwestern University and Zachary Johnson, the CEO of Syndio Social released a study that suggests that 50% of small businesses website visitors arrive through social media means as compared to only 18% for large business websites.


What it may look like is that small business is using social media more effectively than large business but in fact what this data tells me is that when it comes to marketing themselves, small businesses seem to rely far too much on social media, only a part of which, constitutes what’s on this Salesforce blog explaining proper customer engagement.

How are large businesses attracting customers to their website the other 81.3% of the time?! Imagine how much you could increase your bottom line if you could learn to do the same thing….but on a small business marketing budget.

Bottom Line: Watch, learn and mimic how large companies market themselves in the offline world to increase YOUR bottom line.


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