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The i2i Guide to Twitter by David Laud FCIM, Chartered Marketer

Twitter what can it do for my business?

 

Twitter is a micro blogging platform that enables businesses to communicate with customers, suppliers, staff, competitors (yes I said it competitors) and friends.  In this new world of online and mobile marketing we can, as business owners ill afford to let the power of social media escape us.  Millions of tweets are sent each minute from millions of users at work, commuting, in the pub, at events, watching TV or even shopping.

Why is it important?  Twitter has been called many things but my favourite phrase is “word of mouth on steroids”.  You can use it to quickly share information with people interested in your company, gather real-time market intelligence and feedback, and build relationships with customers, partners and other people who care about your company. As an individual user, you can use Twitter to tell a company (or anyone else) that you’ve had a great—or disappointing—experience with their business, offer product ideas, and learn about great offers.

Twitter Conversations

So what do people say to each other on twitter? Well there’s a lot of techno chat from individuals who clearly spend a great deal of time on the internet, there are braggers and boasters who just want the world to know how wonderful they are there are people like us who have brands to promote and web content to drive people to.  There are of course the celebrities who we find fascinating –

Actually my view on this is that with celebrities we already feel as though we know them. Stephen Fry @stephenfry for example has lived his private life very often the public eye and with his depression, huge intellect and wit makes him a “real” person that many feel they would like to count as a friend.  So when he micro blogs about odd things we make an allowance based upon our knowing his character.  Unfortunately too many “non celebrities” feel that they can share random moments from their day and expect others to be interested…it doesn’t always work unless you too can be entertaining.

How does it work?

 One of the strengths and sometimes frustrations of Twitter is that it only lets you write and read messages of up to 140 characters.  That’s good if you have a tendency to waffle but not if it takes you a long time to condense that message – it defeats the whole object of Twitter.

People who regularly use twitter have created strong networks of like minded individuals who share news, tips and help each other out with signposting when they have a specific need.  There is also the additional entertainment value and friendship that can be gained via building such connections.

In many ways, despite being a new medium Twitter mirrors real life – we are mostly social creatures who like to belong to a community or network. Twitter allows this to take place in a safe and secure space, your space.  You can control who is in your network and participate in wider conversations.

Where would you do this?

Traditionally via a PC or laptop but increasingly via smartphones and tablets using downloaded applications such as TwitBirdpro or TweetDeck.

When you combine messages that are quick to write, easy to read, public, controlled by the recipient and exchangeable anywhere, you’ve got a powerful, real-time way to communicate. And real-time communication is turning out to be a very useful medium for businesses seeking to convey key messages and tap into current trends.

Still Struggling to See How it Can Work for Your Business?

(I’ve highlighted this section in blue as it’s a critical point in understanding the tone and style of your tweets and twitter strategy)

 For some time I struggled with the concept of twitter, was it texting with added features, PR for business, delivery mechanism for driving visitors to your website, networking opportunity, news & info gathering, chat room!  Actually it’s all of this and more which is why so many of us, who like to have neat pigeon holes for our marketing tools have struggled to get a handle on twitter. 

My light bulb moment with twitter came to me one day when at home with the kids having the usual battle to decide what to watch on TV.  We have digital TV and 100’s of channels and it set me thinking about the proliferation of content and the absence of quality…funnily enough I made the connection with twitter.  Each twitter account is it’s own mini interactive TV station, producing output and getting instant feedback but without the red button!– the mega tweeters are the equivalent of BBC, SKY, ITV etc.. the main channels then you work your way down to niche channels comedy tweets from the “Dave” equivalent or Sports – you can see where I’m going. 

Think about your personal twitter account – what do you broadcast? Who’s your audience how much interaction do you receive and how many adverts do you send?  Thinking of your tweets as broadcast media you begin to have a slightly different view.

The speed, accessibility and popularity of Twitter make it a very powerful communication tool.  But to make the most of it you do need to observe some simple rules.

Guidelines 

Twitter Targets   

 Firstly decide what your message is and who the ideal audience would be.  For my main Twitter account I’m interested in “local” contacts that I can learn from and who will know people that will help me in my work.  I’m also interested in people who are in similar fields. Competitors? well maybe but I don’t see it as an issue – the more open you are with your contacts the greater the experience.

 I like positive souls – it’s funny to laugh at the “grumpy old”… shows on TV but we don’t really want to be subjected to the negativity day in day out.  You can grow your own network by seeking those who are natural networkers; they’ll help you to get into new groups and areas.  People who give of themselves without expecting a reward – people who treat people as they would wish to be treated – you may wish at some point to recruit and where better to start looking than the talent in your own network.  Conversely you may be looking for work and again a future employer may be in your network. 

 In addition in my network and I would suggest worth looking at most business twitter accounts is the local or national media, TV Radio, newspapers, trade press and online news providers they may not follow you back but you can still send press releases in the normal mode and tweet to other followers.  Typically you can send your 140 character tweet with a link to longer releases hosted from your website.

 Avoid

 

  • We’ve all received e-mails from over enthusiastic sales people and they’re not very attractive, unfortunately in most networks you find a couple of narcissistic creatures who are purely in it for self promotion, you can unfollow or block their messages. 
  • Spam can take several forms but usually it’s offering free ipads, iphone 4s or some meaningless blurb, life’s too short – cut them out when you can.
  •  Flirts – common sense should apply – if we’re honest a little flirting would do no harm in most circumstances but, this is in written and recorded form, beware!
  •  Also there are those who want to get to the big numbers to impress everyone with how popular they are.  Quality is the key not quantity for most although if you are a large organisation with a wide target market numbers can work in your favour, remember though this is about personality rather than corporation which can be difficult to maintain if you have several people on a single account.
  • Celebrities – on occasion it can be nice to receive a response, one of my highlights being Astronaut Mike Massimo tweeting me whilst he was in orbit on the shuttle but generally when they have hundreds of thousands of followers it’s unlikely that you’ll get a response.  But if you’re interested in what they’re doing you can follow.
  • Avoid damaging your business by “dweeting” – tweeting whilst drunk or running campaigns that cause offence, Habitat ran a recent Twitter campaign using the hash tag. This is a way to get your tweets on a “trending” line.  Trend topics get viewed far more widely than a networks tweets so by putting a popular trend and hashtag the message can be circulated far wider however it’s spam.  Habitat had a discount offer it was trying to push and an over enthusiastic young marketer running the twitter account used a range of trending topics including #iphone, #Australianmasterchef and the #Iranianelection in a rather clumsy attempt to get their message out there.  The initial heat of complaints has died away but as you can see its still be trotted out as an example of how not to tweet – don’t become a negative case study! 

 Good Practice

  •  If you’re completely new to twitter start with a small step and create an account.
  •   Think about your name it can eat into the 140 count if too long when people reply to you but too short and it may not be clear who it is.
  •   Be active, followers look for tweets
  •  find people who you consider to be “of interest” either personally or for your business and start to follow them.  Upload a photo of yourself, consider creating a personalised “skin” or background to your account showing the company logo, contact details and services.
  •   Always shorten any hyperlinks eg http://bit.ly/
  •   Set aside a few moments during each day to check your account and give some thought to what you might say, what’s happening in your business, new products, services, new appointments, initiatives, remember that whilst you may trust your network the information may be re-tweeted out so be careful what you share.
  •   Always check mentions and direct messages – it can be easily overlooked and you don’t want to appear rude
  •   Don’t set up an automated direct message when someone follows you – far better to see who’s following you and send a message that is personal – far bigger impact just takes a little time, worth it though.
  •   Lists – as you grow your follower base you can organise them into specific lists and then access the list to see what that particular group is saying rather than be lost in the noise of the public timeline
  • Get feedback from those who tweet a lot and find examples of businesses who’ve used twitter to positive effect. Don’t necessarily look at the big players, good practice exists within SMEs throughout the UK.  The key is to engage with the networks and offer something of value – it isn’t always about your product – I recently provided someone with a list of National Trust sites in Derbyshire, others have provided me with contacts for video production and App design.
  • If you have a multi faceted business it may be worth having a twitter account for each specific area. I work with a number of law firms and I would recommend that they have an account for each main area of law that they represent and have the key person fronting and running that account, with a little help of course.
  •   Keep it contained and don’t over promote – be careful not to wear your followers out with promotions. It’s not all about the business; it’s about a personality and a trusted network that you can be part of.
  •  Follow Friday –  #FF is a good way to promote good contacts in your network and those that you feel have made a positive contribution.
  •  Check you’re listed on Twello –and ensure the profile is correct, it often automatically adds your account.  Twellow is the yellow pages of twitter.

 When should you Tweet for maximum benefit?

 There has been a great deal of debate over the best time to Tweet.  My view is that there are certain obvious times in the working day.  First thing in the morning, lunchtime and about 4pm.

 As for days, there are conflicting reports but the consensus appears to be Thursday/ Friday as peak days followed by Wednesday. Fewer tweets are sent at weekends and they tend to be of a more social nature.  In our experience selling on a weekend tends to be frowned upon unless you’re a leisure business selling cheap tickets to an event/ restaurant offer etc…

 If you have a number of influential followers it can be useful to know when they are “online” and ready to see your tweets.  Keep an eye on their tweet timeline by visiting their profile and seeing when they tweet.

 If you have a blog or important announcement you can schedule your message to be sent 3 or 4 times ina 24 hour period through Hootsuite 

http://hootsuite.com/ this will ensure that your message gets as much coverage as possible.  For general random tweets or conversations this is not necessary. 

 Useful Stuff

 There are literally hundreds of applications to help you manage your twitter account and add value to the experience.  The difficulty is in wading through the forest of solutions to find those that best suit your needs.  Here are a few that we would recommend.

 Managing multiple social media sites or business accounts: 

Desktop:

Tweetdeck http://www.tweetdeck.com/ great for multiple views of multiple accounts

Hootsuite  http://hootsuite.com/ – even more functionality and analysis but you pay for it

Seesmic http://seesmic.com/ neat app for keeping on top of multiple accounts

 Smart Phone: –TwitBirdpro http://appsto.com/twitbirdpro

 Searching to see who’s following/ not following – Justunfollow http://www.justunfollow.com/login.do

Analysis of your profile – Twitalyzer http://www.twitalyzer.com

 Who’s talking about your business – Social Mention –  http://socialmention.com/

 Shrink hyperlinks – http://bit.ly/ or http://tinyurl.com/

 

 Glossary – some of the terms you may encounter 

“@usename”: A tweet sent to another Twitter user.

De-Friend. This is a common social networking term referring to the act of taking someone off of your friends list. De-Follow is a Twitter-specific version.

Dweet: Tweet sent while drunk

Hash Tag: The “#” sign. Allows Twitter users to group tweets by topic, making it easier to search particular conversations using Twitter Search.

Link: Including a URL in your tweet.

MisTweet: A tweet one later regrets.

Microblog. Twitter is often referred to as a microblog because it allows people to update their status using only 140 characters.

Mistweet. Accidentally sending a tweet to the wrong person or regretting the sending of a particular tweet. See Dweets!.

Nudge. An action reminding a user to update their status. You can only do this to someone who follows you.

ReTweet: To repost something that’s already in the Twitter stream. Usually preceeded by “RT” and “@[username],” to give credit to the original poster.

Twadd: To add someone as a friend or follower.

Twaffic. The traffic on Twitter. 

Tweeple. Twitter users. 

Tweeps. Twitter followers who are your friends potentially on multiple social networks.

Tweet – A message sent via Twitter 

Tweeter/Twitterer: Someone who uses Twitter.

 Tweetettes – inability to control random tweets

TwinkedIn: Inviting friends made on Twitter to connect on LinkedIn.

Twitterati: The A-list twitterers everyone follows.

Twitterfly: Twitter’s version of a social butterfly, marked by the extreme use of @ signs.

Twitterlooing: Twittering from the bathroom. Not recommended.

Twitterpated: Overwhelmed with Twitter messages.

Tweet Back. Bringing an older tweet back into the conversation

 Twitosphere. The collective community of tweeters.

 

About the author – David Laud is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, Chartered Marketer and member of the Institutes National Social Media Committee.

He works for i2i Business Solutions LLP a successful marketing consultancy that offers a broad range of support to businesses of all size and sector.

 In addition to i2i David heads R2b Media Ltdan e-publishing and Apple App development company providing solutions to a wide range of businesses across the UK.

 If life weren’t interesting enough for David he holds the position of CEO of regional law firm Samuel Phillips.

 You can follow David on twitter by looking for www.twitter.com/davidlaud or by searching for @davidlaud

  or e-mail admin@i2isolutions.co.uk

 Other Services from i2i 

  •       Marketing Strategy
  •       Advertising Campaigns
  •       Business Planning
  •       Brand Development
  •       Copywriting
  •       Crisis – Media Management
  •       e-commerce
  •       Interim Management
  •       Mentoring
  •       New Product Development & Launch
  •       Presentation Skills
  •       Project Management
  •       Public Relations
  •       Voiceovers 

 The information contained in this i2i guide is for information only and is provided as the considered views of one who tweets and twys to keep up with the ever changing social media environment.  If you wish to have a more in depth discussion on the benefits and best practice of social media call i2i direct on 08456 446624

© i2i Business Solutions LLP 2010

Byadmin

Motivation Management


Motivation what is it? how does it work? Do we make the most of its power to move us?

Definition – Motivation is the activation or energization of goal-oriented behaviour. Motivation is said to be intrinsic or extrinsic. Ok the science bit may be a bit heavy – all I want us to think about today is this – How motivated are we in the things that we do? Work, Family, Sport, Community? I would say that it’s almost impossible to remain “motivated” on a project or goal if we see no personal benefit, even if it’s to keep our job.
Yes I know that’s what motivation is but Im not sure we give it enough thought.

Going back to basics we have good old Maslow and his hierarchy of needs. He starts his pyramid with a foundation of basic needs to keep us alive, safe and comforted by our social circle the top 2 levels Esteem and Self Actualisation are the ones that mostly kick in for most motivations as we live in a society where fortunately the vast majority of the population have their basic needs met.

By way of a personal example Im taking part in this years Great North Run it will be my 7th. My family and I suspect a number of friends and colleagues think running 13.1 miles is sheer madness but somehow every year almost 50,000 do just that and it’s so popular double that number would take part if they could. What motivates so many people to run so far?

They’ll be dozens if not hundreds of different motivational drivers to do the GNR.

For me it’s quite simple, training helps to keep me fit, running de-stresses and helps you to feel positive. That’s a physiological benefit, beyond that I enjoy the sense of achievement in reaching the end. Last but not least is the feeling of altruism gained from taking the pain for a nominated charity and the reward you feel for doing something for others. These are my motivational drivers and they must be fairly strong given the fact it’s getting harder and I’m still plodding on.

So what of other “goals” that we may have? Achieve promotion, a pay rise, greater responsibility. Why do we want these things? Are we jealous of siblings who have achieved more, frustrated by driving the same small car for 5 years or living in a house that’s not big enough for your growing family? These are negative drivers to want to change circumstances but aren’t necessarily enough to see us change things.

Almost every year during the GNR, approximately 8 miles in I start to tire quite badly, it’s due to my training being mostly no more than 6 miles and my brain saying “oi stupido, you’re still running why haven’t you stopped?” at that point I’ve learnt to switch off the neggy nag in my head and instead visualise myself at the end, having a cool drink, a massage, exchanging running tales with fellow sweaty blobs but overall making myself feel that sense of achievement ahead of time. It’s strange but it works. our brains are fantastically powerful tools but most of the time we leave them in autopilot and don’t even think to try and manage it’s processing power.

Now to other personal goals, can you train the brain to see yourself in a better place? Yes I really believe we can and it’s something we should try and work on. For some placing a picture of the car of their dreams on the fridge door or screensaver works, others find time to meditate and project themselves forward to a time when the goal or goals have been achieved. If sceptical of this approach, thinking it’s akin to mumbo jumbo or poor mans Derren Brown start with a simple target. For example I recently decided to improve my cookery skills, Ramsay or Oliver I am certainly not but my repertoire of meals needed work. Each night I take a few minutes before falling asleep thinking of recipe ideas and then preparing, cooking and eating that meal with my family and when the opportunity arises I’ll try one out. You could just say “buy a cook book” but that wouldn’t motivate me to cook. The motivation comes from my desire to be original and delivery in imprinting the experience on my mind. Hopefully my family will survive the experience!

It’s not a unique technique nor 100% guaranteed to work but for me it has proven surprisingly effective.

What motivates people really does interest me. Personally I think the more honest we are with ourselves the better the chances of motivating ourselves to achieve the goal. Back to the GNR one benefit of training is that it not only keeps me fit but it prevents my middle from spreading any further and whilst there are health benefits to this my personal motivation is pure vanity. Such motivators are very personal but tend to be the ones that have the strongest impact and drive our actions to achieve the goal.

If you have a motivational story to share I’d love to hear it please drop me a line in confidence to David.laud@i2isolutions.co.uk

Byadmin

World Cup 2010 and The Danger of “Bandwagon Marketing”

Ok, ok enough already! I love football, like thousands of others I’ll be glued to the TV over the next few weeks, experiencing the highs and no doubt lows of watching our national team compete in South Africa. But do we really need to be bombarded with marketing messages riding on the back of the wave of national expectation?

It hasn’t even started yet and I’m getting tired of the media hype and hysteria over this event. Mostly, as a marketer, I’m cheesed off with the creativley challenged ad agencies touting product off the back of the World Cup and to make the point I’ve listed my starting 11 of World Cup 2010 related advertisements. The vast majority I’d wish had developed ligament or metatarsal damage the shining star of this very average team is Nike.

1. Sony Bravia: Former England managers Terry Venables and Graham Taylor team up with Scottish legend Kenny Dalglish in a nursing home setting as they prepare for the tournament. Doesn’t really work for me.
2. Nationwide: Little Britain’s Matt Lucas and David Walliams (Andy & Lou) meet the England team training. Funny the first time but once you’ve seen the gag….
3. Pepsi: World class players Lampard, Kaka, Henry, Messi, and Arshavin get to play in an African Safari setting with the locals literally changing the goalposts you end up just hoping Messi, who’s lost in the Veldt has a close encounter with that lion.
4. Nike: “Write the Future” Rooney (Hero or Villain), Ribery and Drogba feature with star performance from Ronaldo who gets to meet Homer Simpson – it has everything you want in a World Cup ad it’s my personal favourite.
5. Carlsberg: (If Carlsberg gave team talks or more likely if the BNP made TV adverts) Stuart Pearce, Steve Davis, Clive Woodward, Phil Taylor! even explorer Rannulph Fiennes and who spotted cult football figure and Hartlepools number one fan Jeff Stelling. All I can say is I hope he got an awful lot of money for that appearance. The ad has “something of the night about it” not what the agency hoped for. They wanted hairs to be raised on the back of the neck, I just feel uncomfortable watching it, especially the quattro formagio moment of a CGI’d Bobby Moore and in my view misuse of a true gent of the game Sir Bobby Robson.

6. Pringles – Peter Crouch & his infamous robot dance truly, truly awful
7. Kit Kat – Cross your fingers and hope they don’t melt, oh and choice of Sol Campbell as main star in TV campaign somewhat backfired.
8. We buy any car – switches tack to female presenter, Norway’s Charlotte Lade, showing off ball skills, naff, naff, naff
9. The Sun – With Terry Venables dreaming he’s Matt Munro.
10. Mars – With a far from match fit John Barnes resurrection of New Orders “World in Motion” classic but there’s nothing classic about this ad! Who thought putting JB in that massive red sweat top would mask the fact he’d had an advance in a few hundred “work rest and play” bars and I’m not talking fun size!
11. Tesco – Well you didn’t think the supermarkets were imune! This ad with the regular “soap style” couple decide there’s no such thing as a recession and the World Cup is a great excuse to blow loads of money on things they don’t really need, but then they do earn clubcard points so it’s ok!

And it doesn’t stop there I could list a full 23 strong squad of dodgy bandwagon hoppers, here are a couple of beauts..

Ladbrokes – Very nearly made the starting 11, Chris Kamara and Ian Wright camp it up in an “Italian Job” style ad that should have had it’s b****y doors blown off.

Visa – Armchair to winning goal losing a few pounds and facial hair in the process, nice idea but not as good as the original running man ad. The guys from Visa also produced an ad full of our previous World Cup exits, hand of God and quite a few missed penalties..thanks!

Godloves Solicitors (yes that’s their real firm name) of course what’s a perfect link to the World Cup? Making a Will of course, just in case you choke on a Pringle whilst downing your tenth can of Carlsberg watching Upson step up to take a penalty against Brazil in the Semis.

So there are the contenders mostly they should have remained on post it notes stuck to the walls of agency brainstorming rooms but hey, it’s the World Cup and they and their clients obviously think naff can sell.

But I don’t think it does anymore. My belief is that most consumers are a lot smarter than admen think and whilst we can still enjoy a good joke, clever line or seeing football legends in funny situations our attention and response is not triggered by constant bombardment.

Most of the above ads used a multi media shower to ensure we’ve all had exposure to the message but has it been money well spent? Time will tell but my money would be on the brave advertisers who see the market opportunity in those not obsessed with everything footie related. 60% of my household is, unlike me, not looking forward to the World Cup and looking for relief from the tsunami of footie related media. Let’s just hope England perform better than the advertisers.

I’m keen to hear your thoughts on this and please feel free to add your own list of good, bad and ugly world cup ads.

Byadmin

‘Tis the Season to be…Scammed


Each holiday season brings an increasing number of malicious e-mails that cause unwitting recipients unexpected grief.

Why is it so prevalent at this time of year?


Our guard is down

We’re in the Christmas spirit

There is a general increase in “festive and fun” e-mails with attachments

We’ve ordered something online so expect to get delivery messages

and….the perpetrators have nothing better to do!

So what do you need to look out for this year…..

  • UPS/FedEx/DHL missed delivery e-mails – don’t print the attachment it’s a virus
  • The Koobface virus is out there on facebook for anyone opening an invitation to view a festive video on YouTube – open it and it will render your PC useless
  • e-cards – generally be wary of any especially attachments, Hallmark has in the past been noted for its famous “hoax virus” but don’t be fooled as they can and do carry threats. Coca Cola and McDonald’s branded Xmas e-cards can also carry a virus.

These are just a few of the unwanted presents you shouldn’t open this Christmas.

Follow this simple but effective rule.

If you receive an unexpected e-mail – regardless of how plausible it looks, Google the subject header or sender details along with the words virus, scam or spam before you take any action.

That will take you 15 seconds and potentially save your PC.

Have a very merry and safe Christmas

David Laud – Chartered Marketer

Byadmin

MS 7 Must have or luxury O$?

By my own admission I’m not an IT expert but like most of us I know my way around a PC. So when Microsoft announce a new operating system there is an automatic sense that you must “buy in” to the new platform or face falling behind your competitors and customers.

However, increasingly, each new launch brings a debate between those in the know; which makes me anxious as to the merit of being an “early adopter”.

These so called experts often disagree about the relative benefits and downsides of installing the new operating system. Forums buzz with banter exchanged between MS exchangers, Apple byters and the conscientious objectors who pick fault with both arguments.

I take the pragmatic approach and although I personally dislike the following phrase it fits neatly on this occasion….”if it ain’t broke…”

We’re still in recession, many are facing a very tough 2010 and in our ever increasing disposable lifestyles we could perhaps take stock and pause….do we really need the very latest gadget, gizmo, app or operating system?
The pricing of MS 7
upgrade will cost £79.99 until 1 January 2010,
at which point it will go up to £99.99.
The full version costs £149.99.

MS bless them have fed into our primal needs to keep one step ahead and the peer pressure not to be seen to be wearing last years OS. In a Gok Wan anti “fashion catwalk” approach to technology we should perhaps strip away the fancy features and aim to just look good naked! Well figuratively speaking of course.

Ask yourself what your business really needs and not what you fear you should do just to keep up. If your systems are working and healthy could I suggest that you book time out to plan for the next upgrade at a point when it suits the business rather than the MS executives.

As I stated at the outset I’m not an IT expert but I do trust my instincts and so should you. This is one business that’s sticking with Vista for now and when the time comes perhaps look at alternatives – I for one am getting rather tired of the frequency of OS changes with little if no significant change to the previous versions.

No doubt those who profess to be experts in this field will disagree but business success is not based upon being a serial early adopter.

Byadmin

Managing the PR Agency Relationship

Most PR agencies offer core services that include a commitment to raise the businesses profile through well crafted and placed press releases, assistance with events, facilitating meetings with important media contacts and generally providing fresh ideas for your marketing plans.

Delivery, unfortunately, is not always as easy to realise. Although on occasion this may be due to a lack of activity on the part of the agency, more often disappointing results can be sourced back to the clients brief and their own lack of action.

A truly successful working relationship with a PR agency, as in most partnerships, is a sharing of responsibility and commitment borne out of trust that each will deliver their end of the bargain.

Sitting back to watch the PR agency work wonders with your profile will likely result in a very short term affair.
In my experience a project based approach can be a very healthy method of managing expectations on both sides. Setting clear objectives and expected outputs for a specific marketing activity will help focus attention and resources and also highlight areas of potential weakness if results fall short.

Responsibility for making the best of the relationship should sit with the client as they are paying the fee and thereby taking the risk on outsourcing this marketing function.

PR Agency management Do’s and Don’t’s

Do – plan your activity, consider specific projects
Do – invest time in educating the key agency contact on your business and main objectives
Do – have a realistic expectation of the outcomes from any project/ campaign
Do – offer constructive feedback if the copy of a release doesn’t hit the mark
Do – offer encouragement and thanks when you get a successful result
Do – seek feedback from the agency and review progress at regular intervals
Do – brief key company staff on what the agency are doing
Do – encourage staff to contribute ideas for PR opportunities

Don’t – leave the agency to come up with all the ideas
Don’t – delegate responsibility for making the relationship work
Don’t – ignore agency feedback when offered
Don’t – lose control of the relationship through delegation to poorly briefed colleagues or a variety of agency contacts rather than a dedicated professional
Don’t – take a short term view (less than 6 months) most generic profile building PR campaigns take time to build momentum

For more help on pr agency management contact
i2i business solutions – 01642 581731
or e-mail

david.laud@i2isolutions.co.uk .

Thanks to Georgie (my daughter who created this cartoon image of me of few years ago)
Byadmin

Well Tweet my Blog!

And henceforth the geeks shall inherit the Earth….
and so it would seem.
Twitter, Blogs, YouTube, Linkedin, Facebook, MySpace…the list gets longer each week. Are we over complicating life and communication somewhat? Or are we compelled to “join the gang” afraid that if we don’t we will forever live in a world of grumpy old outsiders moaning about the evils of these communities?
I sit somewhere between the two views despite having my own blog and Twitter accounts. My view is that you are unable to truly judge something unless you are prepared to learn about it for yourself?
This is the most important aspect of being a marketer today, not to get carried away with the latest fad but to evaluate it and place it in the context of your business. If you can find a use for it, a real tangible benefit that can be supported by your business then it’s worth embracing.
Truly there is a great deal of rubbish published on and about Twitter and Blogs which may put a large number of businesses off the idea of joining in. As I see it there are some pretty simple steps to determining if your buisness should embrace twitter or blogging as a method to communicate with customers, staff or prospects.
  • Identify who you want to engage with – prospects, customers, staff, investors, new recruits….
  • Establish which platforms they are “active” in using – a little research can save a lot of time, effort and money wasted
  • Ask yourself …does my business/ market, generate a healthy supply of original ideas or information that would be of interest to the target group?
  • Do we have the resources to mantain a regular feed of information – the people who front a blog on a specific topic need to be the ones who the business are looking to put forward?
  • Understand the interplay between the methods of communication i.e. Using Twitter to post a brief intro and link to your latest blog.
  • Crucially, measure the impact of your activity and set realistic targets for reaching specific audiences with clear messages.
  • Get a second opinion before posting. A b2b approach needs to be thought through and checked a little more thoroughly than personal very informal postings. The image and reputation of your organisation can be enhanced or damaged by the content and tone of your postings.
  • Don’t be afraid to test the medium yourself before letting it loose on your company, understand how it works and look at businesses in your market who are embracing blogs and twitter. Is it working for them? If so why? If not what would you do differently?
  • Finally, don’t loose sight of the fact that blogs and twitter are relatively informal methods of communication with the underlying imperative to entertain and inform. You may find your business absolutely fascinating but unless you can make widget related blogs interesting and useful to the reader you won’t get a great response.
On balance I think twitter and blogs add a really interesting dimension to net communities and there are already plenty of examples of businesses using them to good effect. Unfortunately there are also a large number of businesses who have jumped onto the bandwagon before they’ve checked if it’s going their way.
New mediums for communication do not necessarily require new rules for marketing. Once you’ve understood how they work technically, try applying the tried and tested tools of marketing management; fundamentally you still need to manage the process and measure the results to determine its success.
Overall I’d recommend having fun with the process and find through twitter and blogs a way to convey the personality of your business.
If you’ve got some examples to share please drop me a line.
David Laud – Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and Chartered Marketer
Follow David on Twitter – http://twitter.com/davidlaud
Byadmin

Marketing – It’s a team game

As a marketer with over twenty years experience clients sometimes mistakenly think that I have the answer to most marketing related issues and expect me to pull out of my briefcase a solution to every creative opportunity. That’s flattering but clearly wrong.

The best you can hope for is an application of clear business process harnessed to a good idea; and that marriage bringing home the rewards. Whilst I have no fear in applying the business process and on occasion have originated the odd golden nugget of an idea, I am by no way a fount of perpetual ideas.

In fact, if anyone suggests that they are capable of solving all your marketing/ business problems it could fall into the category of “too good to be true” because no one has all the answers.

If you are in need of inspiration you could do far worse than look closer to home. Over the years my clients have created fantastic strap lines, impactful adverts and wonderfully original logos simply by having someone believe in their own ability to be creative and that others wouldn’t laugh at their efforts. Sure, a little guidance is sometimes required but more often than not a small amount of encouragement and permission to “do it themselves” is all that’s required.

Don’t get me wrong, advertising and design agencies can provide superb input and take a germ of an idea and breathe life into it but equally those within the business are better placed than anyone to understand the real needs and to be able to communicate that to their target audience.

What is absolutely critical is that the finished product fits the bill and doesn’t look “handmade”, “cheesy” or even worse somebody else’s idea in the first place!

No one has exclusive rights to the creative process, we all possess the ability, the trick is to apply the most appropriate methods to find it.

An added benefit is by involving your business in a creative process such as brand naming, copywriting, logos etc. you provide a real opportunity for them to participate in taking the company forward. This can be achieved through a variety of mediums:

  • Staff newsletters
  • Competitions
  • Away day meetings
  • Department meetings
  • Intranet
  • Surveys

Why is this so important?

Ultimately your greatest marketing opportunity lies with your own workforce. Consider how many people each of your staff interact with on a regular basis and how they may all be potential customers.

If you can engender a positive attitude to your company and its activities through your own people others will soon get the message and the business will continue to grow.

Volvo V40 Forums

Byadmin

Don’t be economic with your future

I’m fed up with hearing about house prices, credit crunch, job losses and the economic downturn but the truth is we can’t avoid the reality of the situation.

An uncertain climate can breed its own sense of doom simply because we fill in any gaps with a natural inclination to “fear the worst”.

Without wishing to appear too smiley in the face of adverse trading conditions for many I would advocate a positive outlook in such times.

If your business is basically sound, costs manageable and customers happy, the last thing to do is start cutting back to protect your profit margin. Invariably in times of recession (and yes I’m old enough to remember working through interesting times in the past), the Finance Director sharpens the pencil and looks at what they may consider expendable expenditure. Expendable? What they really mean is areas that they either don’t fully understand or worse believe can be managed by fewer, less experienced individuals.

Classic targets are I.T., Marketing and Sales. In the short term a payroll saving can be seen but in the medium to long term lack of IT investment and strategic input will offer far greater concerns.

The role of the marketer in these times becomes critical rather than optional. Many successful businesses traded out of recession to new heights whilst their competitors rationalise expenditure and keep collective heads down awaiting the “all clear”. When the economy picks up the business that took a bullish approach will be at the front of everyone’s mind whilst others will need to spend considerable sums to re-establish the brand and profile.

Interestingly I facilitated a strategic day for a firm in the north of England recently and part of their SWOT analysis identified “recessionary conditions” as an opportunity. Instead of seeing such businesses as commercial pariahs we should learn that we can all find positives from difficult trading conditions. Simply forcing us to re-engineer our business model is no bad thing and certainly a task where you’ll benefit from an experienced marketers and IT support.

If competitors are drawing in their marketing guns at this time think of how much impact you could make by launching a new product or service and giving the media some much needed positive copy.

Of course in such a brief article it’s easy to offer generalisms such as this however in practice the logic for any ambitious, proactive business is to look outward to identify new ways to generate revenue rather than look inward and ponder who goes first when you wield the hatchet.

Tips for marketing through a recession;

  • Resist the pull to reduce prices – good customers will remain as long as you continue to provide the right level of service.
  • Stop marketing spend on unfocussed campaigns and focus on profitable sales.
  • Target your competitors (customers) as they may be struggling either due to over extension or poor management.
  • Protect your image and business by looking at the intellectual property that supports the brand(s).
  • Consider divesting yourself of any brands that may be of more value to a 3rd party.
  • Continue to seek outstanding candidates who may see the writing on the wall at competitor firms.
  • Re-evaluate supplier relationships to improve budget efficiency.
Byadmin

And the award goes to….

It’s gong season, the Globes, BAFTAs and up and coming Oscars. But do we really care? When we’re worried about covering the mortgage, keeping or finding a job and dealing with our daily stresses red carpets can be more like red rags….. the glitz the glamour the glory hunters, coiffed, cute and closeted.

But, at times like these we are probably more likely than ever to want to escape to Hollywood and immerse ourselves in a world we’ll never really know. The creative industries can deliver much needed solace and escapism and right now that sounds good to me.

So I’ll be watching the beautiful people smile graciously as they see rivals gush whilst clasping their shiney trophies. Because like the movies, this is a fantasy that we can all switch on and lose ourselves in. Thanks to mum, dad, my wife and kids, Schnorkle the dog for their support in helping me with this, my very first blog.