What are Experiments?
Experiments defined: internally-produced proofs of concept, prototypes, and products.
Why do we do them?
- Learn new tricks: To highlight (and expand) ISL’s capabilities.
- Stay sharp: Exercise the collective idea muscle of ISL.
- Reinforce inventive spirit: Create morale around collaborative passion projects.
- Maintain talent appeal: Recruit best of the best talent.
- Mega-boost biz dev: Create additional case studies and relevant work for pitches, leads, and general marketing.
- GET FAMOUS!
What makes for a successful Experiment?
- It’s actually small, but looks big.
- Lots of people, little bandwidth.
- Internally (and externally) gets the people going.
- Almost too easy to understand.
- Marketable from day one.
- ISLX is an internal shorthand for ISL Experiments. All external communications should refer to our work as "ISL Experiments."
- Experiments at all stages of their lifecycle can be tracked on the ISLX Github Project Board.
Process & Approach
To ensure we're not depleting the team's time, we follow a tried-and-true process to ensure viability at each step of the Experiment lifecycle.
- Concept Pitch: Team member will pitch the Experiment to one or all of the ISLX product owners.
- Learning Period: An engineer, designer, or strategist with available bandwidth will be deployed to explore new technologies, investigate competition, and production blockers to better understand the Experiment's viability. A product owner will reach out to relevant experts and organizations to gut-check the idea.
- Proof of Concept: A small team will have bandwidth added to create a low-fidelity, operational proof of concept. Note: this cannot get in the way of client work.
- ET Approval: Pitch concept and demo POC to executive team. If ET does not approve moving to the prototyping phase, have a core member of the team write a blog post about the POC and market accordingly.
- Prototyping: The team expands, bringing in additional resources to design and develop the product (and any new features) accordingly. The end result will be a fully marketable prototype ready for testing. Where necessary, implement tracking and analytics capabilities (e.g. GA, spreadsheet, Firebase, etc).
- Testing: Test prototype functionality and comprension internally at ISL or through paid user testing channels. Consider sending to friends and family, or testing with the piblic (in DC). Create a 1-pager or press release as necessary.
- ET Approval: Repeat step 4.
- Product: Make the product available for consumption as a micro-site, open source code base, and/or a high-fidelity video. Create social assets as necessar. Expand marketing efforts to PR outreach (or partnering with a PR partner), paid promotion, Product Hunt, and ISL Product Page. See more about marketing channels and tactics below. Create a 1-pager or press release as necessary.
- Pivot as necessary: Pending results of step 8, consider ways to adapt the product's messaging or creative (or maybe even the product itself) to capture more attention. Repeat marketing efforts.
- Create a separate repository for each Experiment, and add it to the ISLX project board.
- Within the Experiment repository, create a new project for tracking tasks and status. Please include the phase (e.g. POC, Prototype, Product) in the name of the project board.
- Be sure to add appropriate forecast holds for team members
- We shoulnd't be afraid to utilize creations for clients as foundations for Experiments (i.e. Picasso Bot).
The ISL Experiments Manifesto
Updated for 2020
ISL Experiments. What was once an placeholder name is now a critical part of ISL's culture and marketing arsenal. It's a magnet for talent, a launch pad for internal ingenuity, a collection of collaborative passion projects. It keeps our skills sharp and our people hungry. It makes clients sit up in their seats.
Since 2014 we've tinkered and toyed with tech, and creative applications of it. But it's no longer 2014, when building a novel IoT device or a B2B mobile app was groundbreaking. Priorities have changed for the public, the media, our clients, and our people. It's time to adapt.
Our mission: to create something that sparks conversations, educates audiences, acts as an effective utility or – when necesary – takes a stance. We address issues we see around us – nationally, globally, and (especially) in DC – and ensure there is inherent social and/or artistic value to our creations. Baked into our experiments is equity, accessibility, inclusivity, and a deliberate effort to provide value to those at the recieving end.
It's a marketing vehicle second, and something we believe in first.
PR & Marketing
When a prototype or product is ready for marketing, consider the following channels:
- ISL organic social
- Secondary channels like Reddit, Quora, and Product Hunt
- Reach out to PR partners at Wunderman Thompson, CMLY&R and H+K
- ISL PR list available in Marketing sheet
- Paid advertising (social, search)
- Ask coreteam to push to their networks