Business blogging – my latest for Smart Insights

My latest effort for the influential UK digital marketing blog, Smart Insights is my third post in a series on business blogging. This piece concentrates on ways to ‘seed’ your blog posts once they have been written and published – so they are seen by as many people as possible.

 

The highlights include:-

1. Promoting it on your own website.

2. Using blog indexes.

3. Using email.

4. Using Twitter.

5. Using Linkedin.

6. Using Facebook.

7. Using bookmarks.

8. Using other content formats.

Visit the blog post to read more and also click on my name to read my previous business marketing posts on topics including social media for business, email marketing, using video in B2B and two posts on Facebook, one on how to use Facebook for business and one with lots of relevant Facebook business case studies showing best practice.

R E S P E C T

Aretha was right. Actually, respect is a fundamental human need. Most of us in our professional careers yearn for it. But how do great business leaders motivate and inspire  colleagues, managers and customers to deliver ground breaking, difference-making work? How do they (you?) set themselves apart from the poorer ones?

Perhaps these five characteristics are a good place to start

1. Passion. Great leaders believe utterly in what they are trying to achieve. There is often a more compelling reason to deliver great marketing work that matters over and above the need to simply get paid. Being associated with work that matters drives business leaders the world over. Pharmaceuticals save life, construction projects provide shelter and a place of learning whilst packaging innovations reduce waste and carbon and positively impact the planet.

2. Decisiveness. Making tough decisions, bold decisions, going in a new or different direction, and admitting when you got it wrong are all hallmarks of a leader worth following. I blogged yesterday about decisiveness in football club management and stimulated some interesting discussions across social networks. Having courage to stand out and make a decision marks leaders out.

3. Confidence. Passion matched with courage and decisiveness naturally instills confidence. The leader by default is confident but more importantly so too are the people around him. Whilst passion is innate, for me confidence (like positivity) is definitely infectious. Confidence in the direction being taken, the decisions being made and the work being done fosters greater productivity in people who want to be successful.

4. Inspiring. Most business leaders assume a leadership position by default – whether they set a company up, rise up to the role or are recruited to the role. Few are trained in leadership. The specifics are learned on the job. Inspiring leaders bottle their passion, decisiveness and confidence and package it in a way to ensure it becomes infectious so people buy in. Virgin regularly tops the list of brands most marketers would like to work on / for / with. Why?

5. Approachable. I believe leaders need to be approachable. This doesn’t mean anyone can get in touch at any time. But working in an ivory tower and not engaging can damage reputation and business. Listening becomes more important as a coaching skill. It’s not a surprise to me that during the last few years more senior managers are ‘going back to the floor’ to see what’s happening and what their workforce, customers and suppliers ever-shifting perceptions are.

Being a leader marks you out in a tough economy and creates business opportunities if you preach and practice what you preach. People will come to value your contribution and trust you to, in time, help their business.

Q: Have I missed any? What attributes do you see in great business leaders, that lead to them being respected? Share below.

 

8 key issues to review to ensure your business blog supports company goals

My latest effort for the influential UK digital marketing blog, Smart Insights went live today. In it, I offer eight ways to ensure your blog does all it can to achieve company goals, including

1. Staying on topic.

2. The importance of keywords.

3. Being helpful.

4. Ensuring ‘stickiness’.

5. Following a formula.

6. Talking in multiple voices.

7.  The importance of good design.

8. Lead nurturing.

It’s the second in a series on business blogging. Click on experts and my name to read my previous B2B marketing related posts on social media for businessemail marketing, using video in B2B and two posts on Facebook, one on how to use Facebook for business and one with lots of relevant Facebook business case studies showing best practice.

Hope you find it useful.

Why decisive leadership matters

Following my new year theme of efficiency it was interesting to see that new Premier League football club QPR dismissed their manager Neil Warnock yesterday, as they sit in 17th place in the league. (The fact that 17th will keep them in the league for another season is perhaps incidental).

In comments to Sky Sports, QPR’s Malaysian owner and chairman Tony Fernandes said: “This decision has been made in the best interests of the club and I can assure everyone that this is not a decision that was made lightly. Sadly, our recent run of poor form has seen us slip alarmingly down the table and the board felt it was the right time to make a change.”

Sometimes, football club owners are accused of focusing on the short term. But one thing is true. They are focused on the business of results and the commercial success that results bring.

In making a bold decision at a critical time of the season and early in the new year, Fernandes has signalled intent to a number of groups. His incoming manager, in all likelihood Mark Hughes, the playing staff, club employees, fans and football community at large will all know he is a guy that means business and commands respect whether they agree or not.

So whether it is resource, budget, product portfolio, premises, export, diversification or other type of problem you held over into 2012, can you take a leaf out of Tony Fernandes’ book and make the bold changes that need to be made in your business?

For more on the QPR story and how Fernandes is engaging fans on Twitter about his decision, read this story.

2012 resolutions and commitments

Seth Godin explained yesterday the importance of commitment. To me, making a commitment and making a resolution are different – commitments are long term, new year’s resolutions by their nature are short-lived and likely to fail.

And Marc and Angel Hack Life offered great advice on ways to achieve better balance, productivity and all round well being in 2012.

What do you want to achieve in 2012? Do you shoot small (realistic, in the niche) or reach for the skies? Whatever your resolution, it needs commitment, otherwise it is an empty self promise destined for failure.

For what it’s worth and to give me something to check back on through 2012, here are mine.

1. Create a blog (and wider online brand) for The Marketing Assassin that adds value to the people that come across it and come to rely on it. Facebook page? Linkedin group? YouTube channel? Slideshare page? Downloadable free and paid  content? Yup, all in time.

2. Write 150 blog posts here in 2012 (that’s 3 a week). All, more provocative and hopefully more useful than the 330 which have gone before. (Helpfully, WordPress has just kindly sent me some killer statistics on what my readers like!)

3. Publish a book. Expect it by the middle of the year. The topic and platform you’ll have to wait for. There will be deal for subscribers, contributors and fans.

4. Build profile as an authority on digital and integrated B2B marketing at conferences and seminars throughout 2012.

5. Secure additional blog and column writing opportunities on digital and integrated B2B marketing.

I hope you join me for the ride. And I hope you can share the ride with people who you are in turn riding with!

Let’s make it a year to remember.

Is honesty always the best policy?

Depending on your point of view, Top Gear host and Sunday Times bestselling author Jeremy Clarkson is either speaking honestly or offensively striking at your fundamental beliefs.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HJP0WXyeaA&w=640&h=360]

 

What he did achieve this week was to put discussion of the public sector strikes over pension reform right at the heart of the news agenda – and as the first question on the BBC’s Question Time. Though he was claiming to extol ‘balance’, he rather hinted at his distaste for the strikes, at a time when everyone in the economy is being forced to make sacrifices. In that moment, he was being honest, and because people didn’t like it, his contract with the BBC is now apparently at risk.

Apply this thought process to business. Does it pay to be honest? In an extreme case for not, Gerald Ratner derided his own jewellery only for the company to go to the wall.

Interestingly, Seth Godin wrote a seminal text a decade or more ago called All Marketers are Liars which amongst other things laid the foundations for value-based story telling in marketing rather than seductive feature laiden selling. Who are the modern proponents of this approach and what can we learn?

Name some brands that are held in high regard for being honest. Innocent? Virgin? Dove? Apple? Zappos? Why?

And name some that perhaps aren’t. British Gas? BT? Sky? United Utilities? Comet? Again why?

The point I’m trying to make is that I think there is a place for honesty in marketing. Not enough companies strip themselves bare and deliver it. Too much talk about total integrated streamlined efficient solutions. Too much broadcast, too little engagement.

Honesty has to be sincere, genuine and prevalent through all levels of the business, embodied in all employees, and present at every customer touchpoint. Brands that spend thousands (even millions) of pounds convincing customers how great they are, only to deliver late, install incorrectly and then take days to put things right (Comet this very week), can’t claim reliability and service as a virtue.

So, is your business writing cheques that your people and processes can’t deliver on? What can you change to better reflect your strengths and customer value?

B2B social media case study: BASF chemicals

Whilst conducting some research into social media uptake in the speciality chemical sector, I happened across a great slide deck that outlines how chemicals giant BASF goes about it.

With a dedicated social media manager and senior management buy-in, this is about as socially emersed as B2B marketing gets.

Slides of particular relevance to me include

[Slide 4] The statistics that support why they engage on social media

[Slide 11] How different tools and platforms like content, dialogue, news flow and aggregation are used separately and together

[Slide 14] How it is all brought together as a social newsroom (FirstDirect also doing this)

[Slide 17] How to use call to actions on Facebook


Sometimes we have to see how the big boys do it, in order to take the best from it. We may not all have the resource to bring to bear, but the attraction of social media for the smaller B2B firm is that, like most digital marketing, it doesn’t take a lot to stand out from the crowd in your sector.

Play to your strengths, identify your niche and above all, add value to the people of most interest to you.

NB: Note to RSS/email subscribers, a Slideshare is embedded which may need a trip to the blog to view in full.

Business blogging – my post for Smart Insights

My latest effort for the influential UK digital marketing blog, Smart Insights went live today. In it, I offer a dozen ways to kickstart your blog writing – which should help ensure you never run out of things to blog about ever again.

The highlights include:-

1. Solve an industry problem.

2. Use data to make your point.

3. Comment on breaking news.

4. Be provocative.

5. Provide a resource list.

6. Focus on keywords.

7.  Use existing material.

8. Report the news.

9. Write a round up.

10. Write up an event.

11. Write up a case study

12. Offer guest posts.

For more detail please visit the blog post and also click on my name to read my previous B2B marketing related posts on social media for business, email marketing, using video in B2B and two posts on Facebook, one on how to use Facebook for business and one with lots of relevant Facebook business case studies showing best practice.

In b2b marketing, the only way is content

Amy put her shirt on the only way being Essex and lost

It’s amazing just how few B2B companies really understand the significance of inbound, content marketing. Culturally, it seems absurd to not only give away your best ideas and approaches for free but also potentially to your competition too.

Yet smart B2B marketers appreciate that there is no other way. If you want to be seen as an expert, an authority, someone to be trusted, it goes without saying that spamming everyone with interruption based advertising and direct mail is no longer going to achieve those goals.

The web is awash with advice and best practice on how to stimulate engagement. Engagement is the buzzword, the future of all relationships in the next generation. Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook are very different businesses, operating different models but with the same engagement strategy at their core. Engaging audiences at a time when attention span is at an all-time low partly because of technological advancement is a challenge with a lucrative prize.

But isn’t engagement actually the result of a process that looks to disseminate (transmit) useful information to target audiences (touch) which over time encourages them to believe you can help (trust) before then taking the obvious, and critical, step of taking an action which will lead to a single, or preferably multiple, purchase (transaction)?

It is now possible to map how everything you do from a content perspective delivers against tangible outcome-based measures whilst supporting your mission of being the go-to provider.

So, if you’re not going to transmit, touch, build trust and encourage transaction, what are you going to do?

Links worth a click #13

In the week where the Greeks held the Euro to ransom, Google rolled out new Gmail  and Groupon raised $700 from its IPO, here are some of the other interesting digital marketing related things that caught me eye.

First up, Google – or rather your Facebook comments, with news that some comments will be indexed by the search giant.  Do you see this sort of development as Alarming or great for your visibility?

Next, an infographic on the differences between outbound and inbound marketing. Infographics can be brilliant in distilling down complex arguments, processes and statistics and is used well in this example looking at why blogs, videos and white papers are going to give you more credibility than cold calling ever will.

If you use email marketing as part of your communications mix, you might to think again after reading this piece about how decisions are made within 3, 5 and 7 seconds.

And finally, if you’re a creative type looking to do something different with your website or blog, consider using your smart phone as a catch all content-generation device. This blog post from Social Media Examiner shows the way with five tips to create audio and video content on your iPhone.

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