A crash course in web 2.0

There are lots of terms bandied about in terms of the Internet and online marketing. I get great hits and good feedback when I talk digital, so here is my attempt at cutting through the jargon and explaining in simple terms what it’s all about.

If you look up Web 2.0 on Wikipedia you get some theory about it being about user-generated design and collaboration. In simple terms, it’s about putting yourself in your customer’s shoes and ‘giving them what they want’ – the original and most basic description of marketing.

It’s more than using the Internet for information. Web 2.0 is a catch all term referring to the creation and use of online engagement tools like social networks (MySpace, Facebook, Linkedin), blogs, wikis, and media sharing sites (Slide Share, Flickr and YouTube).

It’s about sharing, informing, helping, engaging. Once you understand this and embrace it, it will have a benefit to your business and how it and you are perceived.

Understanding what is available is the first step in deciding where to start with it. I encourage those amongst you who are new to Web 2.0 to check out my blog dated 18 September to find inspiration on how to navigate through this landscape as pain free as possible.

Staying on brand

dairy-milkI was compelled to back track through the ads to watch the new Dairy Milk ad on Sky+ this weekend.

 You start to have expectations of brands and having spent years and millions of pounds on swanky ad design and air time with quirky ads containing character and inspired soundtrack selection, I expected a lot from this.

Gorilla, Eyebrows and Trucks – all available on YouTube – developed the brand in the eyes of the consumer with a distinct brand style.

Now, I’m a marketer and I wrote a week ago about embracing change, but I also firmly believe in holding true to your values and maintaining consistency. I think this ad falls flat on a creative, and ultimately, business level.

 Watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yya0UHY1eBQ and let me know what you think.

Content is queen, context is king

web2-0The evolution of digital marketing techniques has moved through the gears over recent years with Web 2.0 technology meaning we can develop faster loading pages, create rich and engaging content, drive traffic, capture complicated customer data and behaviour, and propagate information much quicker.

One thing holds true. Content is important. If customers are drawn towards you and you’re a fraud or you don’t live up to your hype, or they have an unedifying experience of your site, you lose them. But not only that. The power of the Internet magnifies the importance of content because now disgruntled customers and aggrieved prospects broadcast what you did or didn’t do to everyone else.

Content is one part of a two part problem for marketers. The other is context. Context is about relevance, accuracy and timeliness. It’s about communicating the right content to the right people at the right time. Web 2.0 means marketers need to engage with customers and build enduring relationships with them.

In this, the era of choice, ‘content in context’ is the only way to ply your trade profitably, for the long term.

Change is good

Change sign postIt is human nature to fear change. Change means we have to learn new things, go about things in a different way, embrace new ideas and new ways of working. Change is challenging, and can bring great risks.

But change needn’t be feared. Change is innovative, exciting and rewarding. Change stimulates creativity, brings new ideas to the fore and improves the way we work.

Change separates bad marketing from good marketing and good marketing from great marketing. It is your duty to constantly change what you do and how you do it, to challenge mores, conventions and expectations.

Change something today. Whether its your email footer, your sales letter, your banner ad, the position of a call to action button on your website, how you run a meeting, how you interact with a difficult member of your team.

Change just one thing. Go on try it. I have already by writing this blog post.

Principles of marketing 6: Know where you want to go and focus on it

ObjectivesText books, college lecturers and the graduates from the Mars management training programme extol the virtues of marketing planning and the importance of setting SMART objectives.

And for good reason.

Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timed objectives give your marketing meaning and focus. If you know you have to sell a set number of units through a particular distribution channel over a given time period, you can direct your resources to ensuring you meet, even exceed that objective.

And when in total alignment with overall corporate and sales objectives, your marketing is even easier and even more focused.

How to Write a SMART objective

Specific – state what exactly is to be achieved (like an increase in sales or awareness).

Measurable – establish whether or how far the objective has been achieved (whether a % or £ increase).

Achievable – set against the context of the business and its market environment (growing, declining, new market).

Realistic – set against the context of previous performance (comparing like for like periods and sales).

Timed – ensure you allow an acceptable timeframe.

Too often, companies and marketers get sidetracked by whims, fads and trends, and channel energy into activities that don’t deliver against objectives.

Review your marketing plan. Do it today. If you can’t link an activity to a marketing and higher business objective, immediately stop spending time and effort on it. And if you are labouring to meet an objective, reassess your activities to ensure that they get the attention they need.

Advertising, The Truth and Crazy People

200px-CrazyPeopleDVDA number of advertising agencies profess to base their messaging on an undeniable truth. The reality is that everything is spun to suit a promotional purpose.

It’s an old film but the sentiment behind Crazy People is still relevant today. Dudley Moore is put in a mental institute because he starts telling the truth about brands and ends up setting up an agency whilst he’s in there. Here is their pitch for Sony. Much to admire! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fIIqFpZdy0

Making social media work for you

social mediaIt’s about engaging.

If you’re interested in your personal professional brand as a marketer, do the same as me. It’s not as daunting as it looks. Start small but be consistent. Set aside an hour a week, focus on one element at a time and you’ll soon be on your way to being the Internet’s next big thing.

This page consistently gets around 60-90 hits a day, plus an additional 100+ reads a day from syndication through groups and status bars on other sites. I’m no expert, if I can do it so can you.

1. Create a Linkedin profile page. Upload all previous roles and what you achieved in each. Put what you do not your current title in your main description bar. Over time, actively seek out contacts from old companies, customers & suppliers. Join groups, start discussions, ask and answer questions.

 2. Create a Twitter account. It gets a bad rap for business applicability but its growing and Twitter is here to stay. Tweet about your passion, your business, offers, the news and not what you had for lunch.

 3. Join whichever professional body represents your industry. I’m a member of The CIM and also the Ecademy network.

 4. If you have content to share (video, slides, papers, photos etc) create accounts on YouTube,  Slide Share and Flickr. All can be promoted on your Linkedin profile and with links on Twitter.

 5. Use Google Reader to set up RSS feeds to your favourite sites. Saves you time visiting them all individually, and you will actually expose yourself to more material too.

 6. The big one – create a blog. Write about something you are passionate about. In the beginning do it once a week, publish at the same time and keep it to 250 words max. Do it more regularly as your creative juices flow. I have a long list of topics to hand and alternate between these and commenting on marketing news. WordPress is great, this blog was up inside an hour and has been tweaked over time. It will be tweaked again soon as I want to add video, Adsense & other elements to make it work harder for me. Use tinyurl.com to condense the blog post url and syndicate across Twitter, Linkedin (status bar and group news pages). I also offer a RSS feed signup and put it on the CIM site and Ecademy to get extra readers.

Try and ensure you use the same user name throughout all these sites as this will help your stickiness and memorability.

Most of all enjoy the ride. I do.

And finally if you are one of those people who thinks social media is a fad, check this out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIFYPQjYhv8. (Thanks to Michael Stewart for bringing this to my attention in his illuminating presentation for CIM Manchester event this past week).

Principles of marketing 5: Segmentation

orange-segmentationThis post builds on the theme of understanding customer needs in Principles of Marketing 1. In order to cost effectively and relevantly market to them, it is your task as a marketer to understand that your business has different clusters of customers who have slightly differing needs.

Segmentation is widely written about with vast tomes from marketing gurus including Philip Kotler and Peter Doyle.  But outside of academia, the planning and research of segmentation of customers just sounds like too much hard work, so most companies don’t do it properly.

But you need to or all that investment in those sexy deliverables is pointless.

So, do it the Marketing Assassin way.

Your market is NOT everyone. There is always a niche audience. Consider the pain your product or service eases – it has to save cost, save time, make something quicker, easier or solve a technical problem. Think about the people who are most likely to suffer that pain. Pinpoint the value of easing their pain in a commercial sense. Establish your geographical and logistical limitations in terms of who and how you can supply and strictly service that niche.

Large marketing and advertising agencies will happily charge you a fortune to segment your market, creating parallel and diverging communications streams, multiple propositions, separate positioning messages and tiered creative communications but guess what, most marketers don’t need them.

Have the courage of your convictions. Your marketing plan is yours – that includes customer profiling and segmentation, strategy and all the sexy stuff.

Sponsorship gone mad

money-ballAfter 17 years of sponsoring Liverpool FC, Carlsberg’s £8m a year has been traded for £20m a year from Standard Chartered Bank for next season.

It’s not only the club’s largest football sponsorship deal in its history that raises eyebrows. It has fallen right in the middle of a significant and enduring recession that has left 2.4m out of work in the UK.

Sponsorship, particularly as a marketing tool used in football, often surprises me. Vast sums are spent to associate with a better known brand with return on this investment difficult to quantify.

The list of current Premier League football sponsors throws up some interesting trends, not least that 7 out of the 20 are sponsored by online gambling and gaming brands, another 3 by finance related companies:

Arsenal – Emirates
Aston Villa – Acorn
Blackburn – Crown Paints
Birmingham City – F&C Investments
Bolton – 118 Bet
Burnley – Samuel Cooke & Co
Chelsea – Samsung
Everton – Chang
Fulham – LG
Hull – Totesport
Liverpool – Carlsberg – Standard next season
Man City- Ethiad Airways
Man Utd – AIG – Aon next season
Portsmouth – Jobsite
Stoke City – Britannia
Sunderland – Boyle Sports
Tottenham – Mansion.com
West Ham – SBO Bet
Wigan – 118 Bet
Wolves – Sportingbet.com

Sponsorship is used to raise profile based on ‘opportunities to see’ but who can really afford that in the current climate? For most businesses, sponsorship is only an indulgent tool for the already successful and should for the most part be ignored.