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Ideas. Insights. Inspiration.

The Best of 2021

In 2021, I published at least three blog posts every single week.


That works out to over 150 blog entries, which by my rough calculations, took me as much time to write as it would have taken you to watch all five seasons of Money Heist on Netflix... four times.*


Fortunately for me, that time doesn't appear to have been completely wasted: both my website page visits and newsletter open rates were strong all year. (Thanks to you all!)


But as can be expected, some posts were more popular than others.

So for my second-last post of the year, I thought I'd highlight the 20 most popular articles I wrote this year, as determined solely by the ones Google Analytics tells me earned the most number of page views.


And then, at the end of this post, I'm going to share the five articles I personally liked the best that didn't make the Top 20 for whatever reason.


Here we go...

 

#20. The Risk of Sponsorships

Cristiano Ronaldo really wants you to drink water, not Coca-Cola. And his not-so-subtle message to that effect at the UEFA EURO 2020 press conference highlighted the risks of overarching corporate sponsorships.


#19. Join the CineClub

Cineplex launching a monthly subscription program? I thought that was worth a deeper look... and apparently, you did too.


#18. Jab-Jab-Work

Earlier this year, some companies began to tell job candidates (not just employees) they needed to be fully vaccinated in order to accept any offer of employment. I thought the implications of that were pretty important.


#17. ADdicted: Back to Normal

Two "return to normal" ads made me smile, although one of them was much (much) better than the other one.


#16. A MasterClass in Retention

It isn't easy to cancel a MasterClass subscription, and that in itself is a MasterClass in Customer Retention for anyone running a subscription website.


#15. Evaluating Creative

All marketers worth their salaries know there's a correct way to evaluate creative work. And non-marketers who don't know how to do evaluate creative shouldn't be asking marketers for creative samples. (This was a fun one for me to write, and got a very strong reaction when I shared it on LinkedIn!)


#14. Overqualified Candidates

When an "overqualified" candidate applies for an open role at your company, there are only four reasons for you not to consider this person for the available position. This article proved to be very popular, but I'd like every company currently hiring people to read this post.


#13. ADdicted: Extra Fresh Start

Many companies released COVID-related ads this year, but I thought this one was easily among the best.

#12. How to Anger Your Customers

Just because you can restrict a customer from doing something with the product they've purchased, it doesn't mean you should. This post provided a great example of what NOT to do if you want to avoid making your customers angry.


#11. Unconventional Candidates

Many job descriptions list industry-specific experience as an absolute requirement, but that's a mistake... and this article explained why.


#10. ADdicted: Are You Stupid?

A clever, sassy campaign from oat-drink company Oatly questions the intelligence of EU regulators by calling consumers' intelligence into question.

#9. Sipscription Revisited

When A&W invited me to participate in their unlimited coffee "sipscription" program, I leapt at the opportunity. Unlimited free coffee? Yes, please! I wrote two posts about this program, the first one (which was my initial analysis of how the program would likely work and what would be needed to make it successful) was my third most popular post in 2021. This post, which was a post-mortem of the program after I had participated for a month, came in at #9.

#8. ADdicted: Mint Mom

Does Ryan Reynolds ever fail to disappoint with his advertising? He sure didn't for this Mint Mobile Mother's Day stunt.

#7. Dear Harley

When Shopify President Harley Finkelstein asked the Twitterverse what brand was best at storytelling, I didn't think 280 characters was enough to provide him with a complete answer. So I wrote him this post, filled with a number of great brand storytelling examples, as an open letter. Do you think the fact he shared my reply with all of his Twitter followers helped this post break this year's Top 10? (I do.)


#6. When I Connect

I share a lot of content on LinkedIn, and as a result, I get a lot of LinkedIn connection requests... but I don't accept them all. Over the years, I've developed certain guidelines as to when I will (and won't) connect with people on LinkedIn, and this is the article I share (as an explanation, of sorts) whenever I feel I need to respectfully decline an invitation.

#5. ADdicted: Cheetos It Wasn't Me

This ad was pretty good... but was it really "Top 5" good? Apparently... yes it was!


#4. When Companies Just Don't Get It

Some companies just don't get it. And those that don't shouldn't get your business either.


#3. My Sipscription

See #9 above.

2. Why Brand Marketing Matters

In this post, which I was happy to see rank as the second-most-popular article I wrote in 2021, I explain why brand marketing is so important to the long-term success of a business.


1. Dream Job

My top-viewed post last year also happened to be one of the most personal posts I've ever published: the one where I wrote about applying for my dream job. Coincidence? Probably not. Authenticity is pretty popular these days.


As it happens... I didn't get that job. I wasn't even given an interview for that job. But this post went viral on LinkedIn (in large part due to the report I wrote as outlining exactly what I'd do if I was given the job, which was viewed literally thousands of times) and helped me become connected with several wonderful people who currently work at Disney. So I count that as a pretty nice consolation prize.


 

My Favorites That Didn't Make The Top 20 List


#5. Marketing Investment: Just Do It

Nike is one of the most well-recognized, well-liked brands in the world... and yet they still invest a very significant amount of money each year into their marketing. If they still need to invest in marketing, what reason do you have not to do the same?


#4. Not for Everybody

I'm not for everybody. And most likely, neither are you. This post is about why that's not such a bad thing.


#3. My Last Place Trophy

Many years ago, I got a trophy for coming in last place in a piano competition. It taught me a valuable lesson... and it's the only trophy I have on display in my office today.


#2. Open Access

Many of us like to gripe about all those Zoom calls, but one of my students opened my eyes to a significant benefit of Zoom (versus in-person) that I hadn't thought about: accessibility.


#1. Don't Worry About It

This post is the story of how twenty-five years ago a teacher threw me a lifeline that changed the trajectory of my career, and how I try to pay it forward now that I'm an instructor myself.


 

And there you have it: my most popular and my favourite posts of 2021!


Was there a post you liked best that didn't appear on this list?


If so, please let me know... I have to start thinking about what to write in 2022!




* If you think this statement is an exaggeration, it isn't... and I'm more than happy to show my work. A typical blog post takes me about an hour to write, format, and publish. But that's an average: an "ADdicted" post usually won't take me nearly that long, while an analysis-heavy post (such as My Sipsciption, for example) will take much longer. The entire series of Money Heist has a run-time of 39 hours and 10 minutes, as per the chart I created below after adding up all the run times listed for each episode in Netflix. (And if you were wondering why my posts take so long to write, the fact that I waste time on things like manually adding up series run-times might be a hint.) So... in the roughly 150 hours it took me to write all of my blog posts in 2021, you could have watched all of Money Heist (i.e. all 40 episodes) almost four times.

 

Money Heist (La Casa De Papas) Run Time:

Season 1 (13 episodes) = 614 minutes

Season 2 (9 episodes) = 412 minutes

Season 3 (8 episodes) = 386 minutes

Season 4 (8 episodes) = 398 minutes

Season 5 (10 episodes) = 540 minutes


Total Series (40 episodes) = 2,350 minutes, or 39 hours and 10 minutes



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