Pick up a copy of a business magazine, webinar, SEO whitepaper, workshop agenda or open one of those hundreds of marketing tip e-mails [not all such e-mails are the same of course 🙂 ] and the chances are you’ll not go far before the word “content” is mentioned.
If you want your website to be a successful shop window for your company you need it to be well furnished with content, lots of it, all shapes and sizes, colours, creations and categories……or do you?
Call me an old cynic…but when I start to sense a trend forming and a bandwagon being jumped on I have a natural inclination to run in the opposite direction. Sure SEO is important but what if you produce masses of poor content? All that will prove is that you’ve created a big website full of “stuff” that nobody is going to read let alone share. Surely the idea with this facet of marketing is to produce quality, focused material that appeals to those who you have identified as your target audience. Badly written and presented content will have the adverse effect. I would argue that even if you did rank higher as a result of your prolific production once anyone clicked on it they would be more inclined to bounce straight out again. This would only create a negative impression.
Ok back to basics, what is “content”? Does anyone really know or is it just another “buzzword” that sounds good but has little thought behind it.
Content varies from the obvious written word, blog, news update, article to more visual and increasingly popular sources such as infographics, webinars and other video based productions such as YouTube, Vimeo, Vine, Snapchat, Instagram, Meerkat and Periscope.
Just for starters WordPress report that there are 42.6 million blog posts per month. Now imagine how that number is going to escalate with the buzzword of the year “content” driving marketing activities. Add to the written word the growing trend of video posts and you’ve a very busy and somewhat cluttered space in which you’re trying to make a name for yourself.
A) You can just see the common scenario developing where a young marketing manager, having read all the latest guides, asks the MD to produce a blog for the company. The MD is very busy but she knows this buzz of blogging and “thought leadership” is the thing she really should be doing…so she writes one. It’s not great but it is her first effort. The marketer doesn’t feel that they can correct the boss so is left with no option but to post it. No one comments on it, it’s only read by staff internally who universally agree the MD should stick to running the business.
B) Or what about a situation where no one in the business has the time to write an article or blog so they look around for help. Now for the purpose of balance I must advise that yes, there are excellent copywriters, journalists, wordsmiths who have both the intelligence and skill to produce high quality “home grown looking” material that is both informative and easy to digest. Unfortunately given the “content” Goldrush we have no shortage of prospectors panning for nuggets but finding fool’s gold, those who look the real deal, talk a good game but simply don’t understand enough about the business and the best way to communicate with their target audience. In this example the business spends a large chunk of their annual marketing budget on an agency who simply fails to connect with the client and produces low grade results albeit in large quantities. The company sacks the agency when the MD asks a few pertinent questions at a board meeting such as “Do they own a dictionary” “Have they met our production team” “Why are the web visits up but the engagement down?” The result, the agency blames the client and the resultant lack of business demonstrates the importance of having a well thought through strategy that involves communications that connect with the target audience.
So what should you be doing?
If you would like to discuss any of the issues raised in this blog please contact David Laud via twitter @davidlaud or call 08456 446624
The dust is starting to settle after the initial rather mixed response to the Face “book” lift applied to twitter accounts.
You get a rather gentle prod by the platform to decide if you really do want to give it a go but I suspect like many the temptation to see what the fuss is about mixed with the nagging fear of being left behind drives users toward the new look layout.
Personally I don’t mind it, I think it’s a natural evolution but it’s also strikingly similar to many other sites and for a great number of twitter fans it’s a step too far.
But what exactly is all the fuss about?
Is it progress?
My personal view is that it adds certain useful features, in particular the pinning of tweets to the top of your profile page. One problem I see with the changes is the proliferation of smartphone and smaller tablets and their use over PC and laptop. You can now take photos and post so easily from these devices that they are quickly taking the place of the traditional methods used for online interaction. As it stands the new changes have not migrated fully to mobile device formats but no doubt it’s just a matter of time before they do.
I still encounter those who see marketing as at best a necessary evil and at worst a practice of smoke and mirrors with no substance.
This unwarranted prejudice is borne out of a lack of understanding of the core principles of marketing. Sceptics who poke sticks at marketers often suggest that the acquiring of customers is not difficult. Winning new business is not connected to marketing activity. They believe that by producing a quality product or service customers will return and promote to others. That method of gaining customers can often be effective but the marketing element should already be interwoven with production and customer experience and not simply be seen as a blunt instrument of advertising or PR before or after the fact. Ironically sceptics often employ marketing techniques, unaware of their natural ability to develop the business. MD’s don’t always connect their activity to marketing which they see as a separate collection of basic promotional actions.
If you were to survey 100 non marketers and ask them for a definition of marketing the chances are over 50% would reference advertising within their response. The truth is marketing, certainly for me is “The Business of Business” a little more than creating and placing an advert. To be an effective marketer you must understand all you can about your customers, the financial model that produces the product, where the margins kick in, the mechanisms involved in delivering the product and the experience of customers once purchased. The entire scope of the company, its infrastructure, inner workings and technical elements must be understood to contextualise a successful approach to develop the brand and thereby grow the business.
All too often when recruiting or appointing a marketing resource business owners go into the process with a narrow pre-determined idea of what the person will add to the mix. They focus on PR or advertising. They might also worry about the need for a better online presence rather than consider an opportunity to involve the marketer in helping with business planning and setting a strategy.
Typical Marketing Professionals Skill Set
An added challenge for many is the “hobby” marketer boss who believes they can play “the marketing game”. We all consume so many marketing messages each day it’s not surprising that a boss or client might suggest they have the answer to a new advertising campaign, website or sponsorship deal. Don’t for one minute think I’m against business owners or bosses getting engaged with the marketing activity. I’ve spent far too long in my career trying to encourage such interest to fight it; but it can be difficult for junior, less experienced marketers to put a counter view forward when the ultimate decision maker insists on having their way.
Where experienced and effective marketers set themselves apart is in their ability to distinguish “good ideas” from the ego driven project. They need an ability to swiftly reflect and analyse any newly presented opportunity, establish the potential impact and make recommendations in plain jargon free English. That particular skill can save organisations a large chunk of their marketing budget.
A very good example of the scale of the challenge for today’s marketer is their need to stay on top of the terabytes of information related to digital marketing. Without necessarily being an expert the modern marketer must understand the principles of SEO, (search engine optimisation) PPC (pay per click advertising) Social Media, Mobile Technologies, Online Advertising and CRM (Customer Relationship Management). Interpreting Google Analytics and having the confidence to reject or accept digital agency proposals are also essential attributes of those holding the responsibility for marketing in any organisation.
Yes it’s complicated out there but life is these days. We can either keep up or give in and outsource management to the wave upon wave of niche agency suppliers promising to deliver success. Without the confidence borne out of our own knowledge of specific marketing processes we’re left with fingers crossed just hoping that the agency knows what they’re doing with their sizeable budget. Personally I don’t see it as an option. We owe it to ourselves, clients and employers to provide the very best level of expertise and professionalism and demonstrate that more than ever we have the knowledge and the spark to drive businesses forward.
Far from being a dirty word marketing is the discipline that business owners need to embrace wholeheartedly. They need to seek out the very best qualified practitioners to work with, provide resource and trust them to deliver. David Laud – FCIM Chartered Marketer, consultant.
We all know it’s logical to keep in regular contact with our customers; it’s so much easier to cross sell services and products to an existing customer than generate a new one and sell to them, but how many of us actually do it effectively?
There’s an argument to support “less is more” with customer communication certainly when the reaction to direct mail, e-mail, texts or tweets can generate more negative than positive feedback when poorly executed.
Recent examples of this poor execution – the bombardment of literature from supermarkets to purchase their credit card, one reason not to use their loyalty card. Another, the apparent lack of geographic understanding from a major motor brand who are trying to connect me to their showroom over 200 miles away when they have an outlet in my town. An example of competing branches of the same business. That’s postal junk but worse than that these days is the over abundance of junk e-mail. Bad enough when spammers pepper your in-box with unwanted, unfocussed annoyances but it’s somehow ten times worse when a company you have a connection with abuse that relationship by overdoing the selling and ignore your unsubscribe requests.
Even if you’ve blocked unsolicited calls to your home companies believe they have the right to call you up at weekends and sell you anything from insurance to charitable donations and don’t act upon your requests for them to stop.
Turning back to the process and our responsibility – our job as marketers is to think about the customer experience, appreciate the multiude of messages they receive each day and not try and battle for airtime, eyeballs or ears in a clumsy manner more likely to turn them off rather than on to our offering.
We do need to work at a communication strategy that resonates with our customers, understands their position and speaks directly to them. This strategy and its implementation will take time, consideration and no little effort on our part but is absolutely worth it.
An oft touted stat says that it costs six times more to win a new customer than to sell on to a past or existing customer. That may have some truth, specifics will depend on the sector you’re in but it is an over simplification that can overlook damage that may be done just lumping out messages without a plan.
Certainly the opportunity exists but is dependent on a series of very important factors:
1. For the best possible chance to have a successful customer campaign you need to have in place a carefully thought through communication strategy and plan with specific objectives.
2. A detailed database of customers who’ve granted permission for you to continue to communicate.
3. An ability to create tailored communications to each customer. Nothing worse than a “Dear Sir or Madam” letter, you’re supposed to know them.
4. Systems that track the effectiveness of communications, email, social media post or in person to ensure action can be taken when you receive positive or potentially negative responses.
5. The creation of content which is ideally suited to the needs of the target customer i.e. newsletter sharing tips on entertaining and educating children for families where there are young children or an offer of a discount at your restaurant for those celebrating a special occasion having a note of customers date of birth or anniversary and referring to it in the communication.
6. Keep up to date i.e. systems to capture and improve data on customers to include their social media account details.
Having been successful in acquiring a customer we shouldn’t assume that they will buy everything we have to offer or even come back as a repeat purchaser of the same product or service.
The most important tip is to be original and focussed on the customer. If offering a discount make it meaningful, if giving advice make it relevant to their circumstances.
If you would like to discuss how to create an effective communication strategy for your customers drop me a line at email@example.com or Click Here
David Laud – i2i Business Solutions LLP
As Barack Obama appeared through the huge curtains at the Chicago Convention Centre his smile said it all, the crowd nevertheless said it for him, over and over again, a little like a re-tweet, “four more years, four more years….”.
With the economy far from recovery and very tough times forecast the US electorate have remained faithful to the Democratic Presidential incumbent.
Obama’s feisty Republican opponent, Mitt Romney had but one task, admit defeat gracefully and in a very public address he did just that.
No doubt the networks will be poring over the multitude of statistical data that such events spew out but for me there is one clear set of statistics that left me in no doubt of the outcome.
The evidence was part of our modern history.
In the Spring of 2011 a political wave started, initially overlooked by those in power. All too soon their underestimate of the strength of this wave became apparent due in no small part to the turbo charge push of social media platforms.
But four years before the Arab Spring, back in early 2007, a relatively unknown senator was running for president against Democratic nominee and household name, Hilary Clinton. But on November 4, 2008, Obama then 47 became the first African American President winning an election against Republican candidate, John McCain.
Mr Obama turned to social media platforms to gather support, raise funds and engage with volunteers the essential foot soldiers of any successful campaign.
Fast forward to the US election of 2012. Presidential wannabe Romney was trying hard to compete on twitter, facebook and Linkedin but unfortunately for the Republicans he was up against an opponent who is a natural social media communicator with a team of dedicated experts supporting his social media broadcasts.
Enough of this blogging rhetoric what about the facts?
On Twitter Mitt Romney has a respectable 1.7 million followers and has made 1,350 tweets. But just compare that to Barack Obama’s 22.7 million followers and 8,000 tweets.
As if those figures weren’t bad enough Michelle Obama has more followers than Mitt at a very healthy 2.2 million.
On Facebook Mitt has worked hard to match Barack but even his 12.1 million page likes pale compared to the re-elected presidents 32.8 million page likes with over 3.5 million actively talking about the content.
Google Plus – smaller numbers, but we’d guess at that. Obama 2.3 million +1’s with Romney less than half at 1 million +1’s.
Of course it’s not all about the numbers but if your message is being broadcast at those levels through these channels you have a major advantage, especially if your demographic fits the profile of the more active social media users.
As if to prove the point Obama’s victory tweet showing his embrace with wife Michelle and the quote “four more years” is now the most re-tweeted tweet of all time, so far RT’d over 650,000 times beating someone called Justin Bieber (you know who he is you just don’t want to admit it – ed) who’d held the record at 223,000.
Whether it proves to be the right decision for America only time will tell but one thing’s for sure, if a politician has any serious ambition they need to understand and harness the true strength of social media.
David Laud – Marketing Consultant
i2i Business Solutions LLP
e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org follow me on twitter @davidlaud
“like” our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/i2isolutions
My daughters and in fact now my son, all teenagers, would be more than happy to tell you that I’m no expert on the world’s largest social media platform.
Compared to them and I suspect the vast majority of the teenage user demographic my personal posts would look rather tame, dare I say boring but then I’m not trying to connect to that age group. I do have a few family and friends who fall into the sub 20 category and they politely comment or “like” the odd post as I in turn return the compliment.
All very civilised, and that’s how I like my Facebook but I’m acutely aware that many have a very different view of the site and use it for baring their souls or at the very least the pain of their morning hangover. Facebook can also encourage narcissistic behaviour, posed photos craving “likes”, surveys to re-enforce your view of your personality or who of your friends think you’re the best looking…”Pleeeaasse!!!” save me from this.
Back to the matter in hand my challenge as a marketer is to try and understand all communication mediums and see how they best apply and work for not only my own personal use but in a business context too. Facebook presents the biggest challenge for many businesses.
Sure, Lee Cooper, Amex, Red Bull and many others have very slick Facebook pages and are making the medium work by adding multi layered engagement programmes which include clever competitions and “like” fests. These multi million dollar corporations can and do spend to develop these campaigns but can we learn anything from their efforts, can a Facebook page help your business?
The simple answer is “yes” if the true objective to having such a presence and the audience to whom you wish to connect is clearly understood.
On my personal Facebook page I’m not interested in building a “friend base” of hundreds, (I don’t have that many friends 🙁 ) its purpose is to help me stay connected with close family, friends and an alumni offering a varied and entertaining news feed. For my part I hope to add value to their feeds through my posts…sad as they may be according to the Laud clan.
When it comes to business or personal profiles we should really apply a similar philosophy. You know who you want to engage with, the messages that you want to share and the response you’re hoping to gain.
Despite my earlier negative jibe the Facebook “like” is solid social media currency. By creating an interesting, funny, poignant post that resonates with your network you can build a bank of “likes” and even better if it stimulates readers to comment back.
Unfortunately this clammer to be “liked” has led to a proliferation of cause related posts. A good friend likened them to a type of “chain letter” which is an excellent analogy given the implication that not liking the particular post meant you were by definition taking the opposing view. So therefore ignoring these posts meant you liked cancer, bullying, mistreating small dogs and generally suggested you change your username to Voldemort. All complete and utter nonsense yet many of us do click “like” on these posts and gain a little sense of community in feeling part of a group taking a stand against a particularly offensive topic.
So no I’m not an expert but then I’ve yet to meet a true expert in any social media platform. They move too quickly to be tied down analysed and given a de facto conclusion on how to use them. We all use Facebook in slightly different ways, there is no single correct way but there are plenty of poor examples.
For business or personal pages my advice is to be clear as to your purpose, keep the audience in mind and be consistent with your message. Don’t be disheartened by the lack of response to a particular post, in offline life there’s many a time friends would groan rather than laugh at my jokes. The key is consistency and believing in yourself. Of course we are all slightly different in a relaxed social setting than we are at work. The same approach should apply.
Facebook isn’t Linkedin but the business page won’t be enhanced by the type of content you’d normally deliver to your friends. An edge of professionalism touched with an element of fun is where I find my Facebook business page personality. I’d like to think that’s not a million miles away from how I am physically at work. Easier to be true to your own personality or culture of the business than to try and reinvent yourself for each social media platform.
By being consistent across platforms you’ll gain respect and understanding from a multitude of networks.
If you’re just starting out with Facebook for your business please feel free to drop me a line or comment and let me know how you’re approaching it. Be great to hear of a variety of ideas.
To find us on Facebook go to http://www.facebook.com/i2isolutions
David Laud – Chartered Marketer FCIM