New talk: Bootcamp – The role of PR in digital marketing, 5th November (Manchester)

PR & blogging

Join me on the 5th November at Manchester Metropolitan University Business School, (All Saints Campus, Oxford Road) as I deliver some new content aimed at closing up the gap between PR and digital marketing. 

Session details:

The huge focus on social media marketing may have overshadowed the key principles and best practice of PR as a discipline. In this bootcamp we review the critical role of traditional PR techniques in the digital marketing context with leading exponents of the art of PR in digital marketing. Learning key tips, advice and best practice to apply in your own role with the author of Brilliant B2B Digital Marketing and some special guests.

The session will cover:

• Managing a crisis online
• How to measure and evaluate your PR activity
• Is conventional media still relevant in the social media age?
• How to make your organisation’s blog more effective, drive more traffic to it, and make it work from an SEO point of view


Registration is from 09:00; the event starts at 09:30 and finishes at 13:30. Click here for more information and booking details.

New talk: Brilliant B2B Digital Marketing, MADE, Sheffield 21st October 2015

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 08.22.11If you’ve been waiting for a B2B digital marketing focused event to come to Sheffield THIS IS IT! 

I’m bringing an updated and super practical Brilliant B2B Digital Marketing presentation to approx. 300 people at the Memorial Hall on 21st October, the night before MADE.

Session details:

Most businesses in the UK are established to sell products and services to each other. But outside the major multinationals and technology brands, there is a dearth of useful B2B marketing advice for grass roots marketers to draw upon.

Part of the MADE Festival of Entrepreneurship, I’ll be taking delegates through my seven step B2B digital marketing approach.

Honed from a career working in, and with, a range of diverse B2B companies, it’s going to be an example packed session, delivered to inspire, so show how to use digital tools to raise profile, drive engagement and generate business leads.

You’ll leave brimming with ideas to kick start your business marketing in areas including digital strategy, websites, search, content marketing, social media, conversion rate optimisation and measurement.

Delegates also have a chance to get an exclusive PDF copy of Brilliant B2B Digital Marketing 220 page e-book, created in conjunction with Dave Chaffey’s Smart Insights.

Registration is from 18:00; the event starts at 18:30 and finishes at 20:00. Click here for more information and to book your seat.


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B2B influencer marketing (creating a buzz through others)

I’m thrilled to be announcing a new webinar in conjunction with B2B Marketing Magazine, which will be taking place on 20th November as part of their all-new tailored B2B training programme.

I see influencer marketing becoming a core staple of the evolving B2B marketing mix as referral, recommendation and advocacy become ever more critical to the success or failure of brands.

I think marketers who see influencer marketing as a PR tactic are missing a golden opportunity to position their business and its products and services in a way to add value by solving real world customer problems. Tapping into trusted voices and channels is a powerful way of serving credible communications to the right people at the right time.

I’m finalising a very practical session laced with real-world examples and practical application and will be exploring the nature of importance and why it is important in B2B sales cycles, what influencer marketing is, what it involves, who it should target, how to go about it and to evaluate the success of it.

Some specifics include:

– Understanding what influencer marketing is and how B2B brands can benefit

– Identifying and ranking influencers

– Communicating with influencers

– Measuring the effectiveness of influencer marketing programmes

Falling at a perfect time for many marketers’ planning cycles, I hope you (and your team) can join us on 20th November 14:00 GMT. More information can be found at

PS: I’m looking for 1-2 companies to profile. Are you active in influencer marketing or have seen some brands doing some cool things in this area?

Why you should attend the biggest trade show in your sector

I recently had the opportunity to attend one of the world’s biggest packaging shows (Interpack) and see first hand why it was such an important show for so many businesses.

Taking place every three years, Interpack covers all 17 halls of the Dusseldorf Messe and runs for six days, drawing over 160,000 visitors, thousands of exhibitors and the world’s trade media.

You would expect to find major equipment manufacturers selling machinery used in the packaging process, but alongside them were companies representing the dozens of packaging sub-sectors, from films, labelling, retail, paper, card, rolled aluminium, automation, logistics, distribution, food manufacturing and more.

Each of these has its own micro market with trade shows and trade media covering all areas of the world, but rather than being scared away, they elected to invest in Interpack for a number of reasons. In thinking about your own promotional plans, put the cost and time investment to one side and consider the following benefits:

1. You raise profile by swimming with bigger, more established fish and casting your net wider.

2. Attending the major show might cost more, but the media will be in attendance and looking for new product and new application stories. Greater exposure can be achieved.

3. As a smaller player, you will be able to access hitherto unaccessible customers i.e. buyers and specifiers from very large companies. allowing you to develop relationships with people that no amount of direct marketing and cold calling could hope to create.

4. You can create and develop relationships with the media, increasing the likelihood of greater exposure further down the line.

5. The real draw of the exhibition environment is in the live trial and live demonstration of product. This should not be undermined. Build this into pre-event activity and promotion.

6. Use the opportunity of a sector being under one roof to check out your competition.

7. Target major contractors you want to introduce yourself to before the show (especially useful if you are a parts supplier).

Rather than attending lots of small shows, as might be your strategy, why not consider going large and heading for where the majority of the people go, staying true to the objectives of your business, targeting the right people with the right message at the right time in the right place.

Image: Courtesy of Dusseldorf Messe via Packaging News


Was Social Media World Forum worth the money?

Well, it was my first poll on Linkedin so maybe I didn’t promote it well enough (proves I don’t yet know it all!) But even in a tiny sample group I think it throws up some interesting feedback.

If you attended, what do you think?

4 great tools for monitoring social media on a shoestring (SMWF pt 4)

Some further insight from Social Media World Forum, last week. This for me was the pick of the sessions I attended. As Paul Szomszor from Citigate took to the stage to discuss how Brandwatch was used to impact their TalkTalk work, news was breaking outside SMWF that cloud CRM had acquired the social media monitoring platform Radian 6 for $326m.

A massive deal, this illustrates the importance of social media monitoring in relation to online influence and reputation. Paul went on to discuss how reputation online boils down to working out what is noise, what is a flagged/interested mention, and the most important, the key mentions – which are graded positive, negative and neutral.

Paul offered a great soundbite ‘Social media is a tool, not a solution. It needs people to make it work’. I can see this on tshirts, mugs, pens and mousemats!


In all seriousness though, there is a relevance in trying to ascertain how engaged people are with your brand and much was made of sentiment tracking, an increasingly ‘in vogue’ phrase used to describe how positively or negatively you or your brand are being talked about.

Having a grasp of this means you can keep on top of discussions, conversations and if necessary influence them to ensure they are as positive as possible. There are basic and expensive tools that can provide the data, but it is far from automated and does ultimately fall to you as the brand custodian to use the information in a constructive way.

Monitoring social media

Paul talked about  BrandWatch, which at around £100 a month per keyword can start to get expensive for brand owners. BrandWatch gathers, cleans, analyses and presents data, drawing information from a range of online sources to give a complete picture of when a brand, person, company (any keyword searched) is mentioned. If you’re interested, check out a demo.

I’m more interested in some of the free to use platforms which can still help paint a picture and give you a more accessible and cost-free entry point to social media monitoring.

1. Social Mention As the name suggests, it is a free to use real time search engine which pulls together information and references from lots of place including blogs, Twitter, bookmarking sites, events, video sites and social networks. I ran a search for ‘marketingassassin’ and it has proved illuminating. I think the sentiment tracking is a little eskewed as there is no apparent reason for it based on the list below, but it is useful in displaying all references in one view.

2. Topsy Another quick and simple ‘mention’ based search engine which can be integrated with Twitter and Facebook. Shows a public trending timeline and tailored searches across the social web.

3. Board Reader An interesting search engine covering forums, boards and groups. It picks up lots of content discussed on Linkedin and other platforms, and searches can be split across a number of categories. Of most interest to business marketers, I think, is the press release search.

4. Twitter Search – an often overlooked, and distinct, search facility. Avoid at your peril, it offers better results than the search function within Twitter itself.

This is the final in a four part set of posts inspired by sessions at Social Media World Forum, London. Read part one giving an overview, part two about the ASA and the CAP Code revisions affecting online marketing, and read part three about some recent social media start ups.


The challenge of being a social media start up (SMWF pt 3)

Social media startups trying to launch new platforms aren’t just based in San Francisco, they are springing up in the UK too. Four social media startups got the opportunity to introduce themselves to the Social Media hub at SMWF, explain what they were about, what they were trying to achieve and then take questions from the floor.

Planely – Founder Nick Martin positioned his new social network which works on the assumption of making travel more interesting. Planely links ‘strangers’ thrown together with similar travel itineraries to create more stimulating and rewarding trips.

Datasift – Darren Patterson, CEO of MediaSift, the company behind the near-ubiquitous Tweetmeme which makes the sharing of internet content via Twitter much easier – announced Datasift alpha which will offer real-time social media data mining.

Likeourselves – Pardeep Kullar claimed Likeourselves brings together the online community essence of Meetup with the offline world, driving worldwide meet ups amongst likeminded people with a single broadcast message.

Memolane – Founder Eric Lagier presented a platform which pulls together all social media content into one linear, chronological package, giving greater transparency to your wide digital footprint.

To me, there are opportunities and issues with them all, but I do commend each entrepreneur for having the guts to go out on a limb. There is a great risk in this space that a small player will generate an interest in something on a shoestring budget and then be overtaken by a bigger player (like a Facebook) who inevitably has more resource.

By and large, conceiving a new social media tool, is a fraught process, with no guarantee of profit. The best, it seems, entrepreneurs can hope for is investment based on a working prototype, a merger or an acquisition.

The critical point to get to is prototype. You need to get to the point that it can be tested and assessed by your target audience for validity, relevance, attractiveness and durability. And in order for it to scale, API development and linkage with the platforms already being used is key.

Much like the development of apps, AR and other trailblazing technology, it sounds great but I think I’m going to leave it to someone else!

Image: Will O’Brien

Read part 1 here and part 2 here


The ASA and CAP Code implications on online marketing (SMWF pt 2)

Malcolm Phillips from the The ASA presented on how the changes in the CAP Code will affect social media marketing.

The ASA rules in disputes about whether a marketing campaign or activity is legal, decent, truthful and honest. Recently this remit extended online.

From a cynical perspective, does The ASA limit creativity in protecting consumers? Does this actually just create an open season where competing companies simply complain about each others claims to try and gain a moral advantage in the marketplace?

It seems that Facebook and Twitter are going to be prioritised simply because of their meteoric rise in a few years and due to the sheer numbers of users and increasing number of brands using them for promotional purposes.

But The ASA is clear that it is not interested in policing spontaneous customer interaction, engagement and customer service. Rather, it is in two areas: claims being made, and the use of user-generated content by marketers.

The ASA deal with many false claim cases, ranging from the unavailability of goods despite being advertised as such to specific product benefits that may be implied but can not be proven.

Brands have to be mindful of using user-generated content. Ministry of Sound fell foul of this when younger clubbers posted photos of themselves attending clubnights holding alcoholic drinks which gave the illusion of under-age drinking. Rules affect food claims, pharmaceuticals and other areas too.

Sponsorships and endorsements on social media also need to be clearly labelled, with a case involving Rolls Royce cited as a warning. Rolls Royce used a number of celebrities including the model Daisy Lowe as Twitter ambassadors for the brand.


The ASA argued it wasn’t citing creativity and reminded the audience that the advertising industry had asked for greater clarity to ensure a level playing field.

What do you think?

Read pt 1 here.


Social Media Forum Europe review pt 1

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m a bit of a groupie for the tech marketing events so was eagerly looking forward to Social Media World Forum Europe which I attended yesterday.

The conference was well promoted pre-event with a well stocked website, blog, Twitter account, and event hash tag #SMWF. In lieu of this, and because it was a self funded trip, I opted for the free entry to the exhibition and Social Media Hub. This, I assumed, would ensure a day of packed presentations and takeaway tips from interesting speakers getting to the heart of social media matters.

I attended day two after falling to grasp from the website that b2b and sme featured on day one (doh!) With a paid stream (£395 for two days), it was to be expected that the calibre of the speakers and the brand case studies in the hub would not be as strong.

That said, save a few insights (more later), the sessions comprising day two of the Social Media Hub were a let down for a number of reasons. I’ll come to in a moment.

First some positives:

1. SMWF used the right digital channels to promote the show and engage the audience attending and online.

2. The conference delivered big brand, keynote speakers for the paying delegates.

3. The floor design provided lots of space and opportunity for networking – the Networking Bar and Social Hub were well designed.

4. There were some great opportunities to face to face network with a number of Twitter contacts that I’ve now met!

The negatives:

1. I missed the Social Media Hub agenda before booking my day there. It was tucked away on the main program page – which non paying members wouldn’t click to. Had I known that the Social Media Hub had been focusing on b2b and sme on day one, that’s the day I would have attended.

2. Whilst in the main attractive and informal, I think the open aspect of the Social Hub, with its ‘drop in, drop out arrangement’ meant that the engagement of the audience at any one time was fairly low. The moderator had a tough job and in the end resorted to putting a microphone in people’s faces.

3. I echoed the same criticisms about overly promotional presentations at TFM&A in early March where exhibitors talked about their own products a little too much. That’s what exhibition stands, demo’s and sales people are for. When I attend a conference, I really want actionable, usable information I can take back and try in my business.

4. I sensed an audience in the hub that was aware of social media but practically naive when it comes to planning, selection of tools and execution. This was evidenced by a small show of hands to questions like who uses facebook, linkedin, twitter, quora, youtube (less hands with every social platform named). Despite this, the same social media cliches were trotted out.

5. A potentially fantastic session titled ‘social media planning’ degenerated into an issues/concerns people have about using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. THESE ARE NOT THE ONLY SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLS THAT ARE AVAILABLE TO YOU! Surprisingly, the audience voted that of the three, YouTube posed the most challenges, not Facebook which is inherently personal and barred from a good number of businesses during the working day.

Maybe, I missed the good b2b stuff on day one. If so, that’s my own fault. Or maybe its because I have a passion for supporting businesses that supply other businesses use the right tools, use them well and see some tangible results. Maybe its because I see mainstream nuts and bolts b2b (remove high tech, big brand and finance) shamefully missing from most conference programs. Or because I’ve been galvanised by recent talks that I’ve given to appreciative audiences.

Which ever way I look it, there appear to be opportunities missed at Social Media World Forum. Which makes me feel relieved I didn’t cough up the £395 that others delegates did.

Your view: Was SMWF value for money?

So, before I publish my thoughts on some of the social media hub sessions (and there were some useful insights), a Linkedin Poll question. I’m interested in value for money. If you paid to attend out of your own pocket, was it money well spent? If your company paid, ask yourself , would you have paid to attend the conference if you had to?

Paying it forward

Aside from making you feel good, the benefit of a random act of kindness can be extraordinary.

At a recent networking event, which turned out to be a BNI taster, the regional director used his closing remarks to used a powerful example to show how paying it forward can pay back. (At the time of writing it’s late, bear with me).

– – – – – – – – – –

Ninety plus years ago, an elderly gentleman and his wife walk into a hotel during the height of a trade show. He is told that there are no rooms available, but as he turns on his heel to leave, a young employee offers them a room. The following morning, on checking out, the elderly man asks for his card.

Three years later, the young hotel employee receives a letter in the mail with an airline ticket to New York. He meets the elderly gentleman outside an imposing building on 5th Avenue. He proceeds to hand over a set of keys to the new hotel he has built for the young man to run for him. The elderly gentleman was Henry J Hardenbergh, the employee George Boldt. The hotel: The Waldorf Astoria on 5th Avenue.

– – – – – – – – – –

So, what have you done to pay it forward? What could you do before the day is out?

Perhaps, something as trivial as letting a few extra cars to turn at junctions on your way home or giving your time to an important project to help someone out.

If paying it forward actually pays, and like me you believe in karma, doesn’t it become less desirable and more urgent  and more essential?