On commitment and habits…

In my first post of 2015 I talked about the tangible differences between resolutions, goals and objectives. Hopefully, you’re sticking with whatever you set out to achieve. Hopefully, you’re committing.

Commitment is the secret sauce in achieving success. Commitment is the way we can turn a hope or a desire into a regular habit.

If you’re lucky (or unlucky) enough to follow me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook you’ll know that I have created my own 30 day “run 5k every day” challenge for this month.

This goal has been deliberately conceived to exercise every day, achieve a distance over the course of a month and force myself to get out and achieve it.

And, very publicly committing myself to this very specific goal is having an incredible effect on my efforts to achieve it. I’m getting engagement from people close to me as well as people far removed.

It is forcing me to lace up and run when I really don’t feel like it in the knowledge that I will need to be posting the update later in the day. I’ve also gone from doing little running in the previous two months to completing a minimum of 35k a week.

I’m using the brilliant and free Nike+ app for iPhone which tracks my achievement over time. I’m able to see and share incremental increases. 

The data tracks my commitment and the improvement over time acts as a terrific incentive and what this has shown me is the importance of setting daily targets.

What is clear from this experiment is that only by doing something on a daily basis can it become a habit – and when you extrapolate forward, this can help transform bad habits become good habits.

This is a personal account. But it’s relevant at a time of year when there is lot of the talk about New Year’s resolutions and how we are often setting ourselves up to fail.

One of the biggest barriers to achieving goals in life – whether it is conquering the fear of writing the first book, keeping a blog going, hitting the stage, starting up a business or any other type of the stressful situation – is keeping it to yourself.

By sharing and asking for help, asking for feedback, drawing on your friends and family and support network to help you, you’re much more likely to set out on a path to success.

How can you start making big changes by taking small daily steps?

Is your marketing like a World Cup penalty shoot out?

The world has been gripped by the spectacle of Fifa’s World Cup 2014 taking place in Brazil over recent weeks. As we enter the knock out stages of the competition, months of meticulous preparation for most of the remaining teams will actually come down to successfully navigating a football past a goalkeeper from twelve yards.

But it’s ok, isn’t it? After all, every guy picked to the squad is there because he is one of the best footballers from his country. Kicking a ball into a 8 x 24ft net should be a piece of cake for all of them.

Some players thrive in high pressure situations like this. Most, however, don’t. [Some teams and their coaches even see the randomness of a penalty shoot out as their best opportunity to progress.]

Planning replaced by randomness

The planning, strategy, tactics and playbook that got the team out of the group, through 120 minutes of football have, at this point gone out of the window. They have been replaced by the lottery of a penalty shoot out and a game of focus and nerve.

If this poorly played out metaphor resonates with you, maybe it is because you see a similar trend in your business marketing. Surrendering to randomness is a dangerous play at the World Cup, and so to in a business environment too. Why would you not do everything in your power to try and keep control of your own destiny?

Avoid an early exit with your potential customers by considering the following five steps:

  • Kick off – did you spend all that time planning, researching, drawing up plans, working out how to implement them to then not understand what success ultimately looks like for you? Have a very clear visual picture of what your success is going to look like. How does it taste, feel, sound, look? Qualify what success looks like with numbers that matter.
  • Putting your best foot forward – play to your strengths rather than worrying about the opposition [read competition]. If you spend all your time monitoring, analysing, obsessing over and reacting to them, you won’t achieve anything. Maybe, you can even give them a few things to think about. (Isn’t the best defence, offence?)


  • Playing for penalties – leaving things to chance by not making the most of your available resources means you won’t do your best work and won’t impact the people you want to influence most. Conversely, diligently executing a goal based plan increases the likelihood of that plan being successful.
  • Dealing with the fear factor – the human body deals with fear and stress with very recognisable physical conditions. Stepping up to take a penalty is a lot like making that difficult call or getting ready to make that important presentation. Take the sting out of it by keeping in mind all the successes you’ve had to this point, remember you’re an expert and how they played out.
  • Remember, you’ll miss some time – realise that you won’t hit the mark every time. Come back stronger. Ascertain why you missed and make sure you don’t miss again, for the same reason. Incidentally, missing over and over is fine as long as you continually learn. You might even get to a position where you never end up in another sudden death penalty shoot out!

In reality, you don’t want to leave your marketing to any kind of lottery, luck or chance. The analogy of the penalty shoot out is that of a randomised last chance saloon. Sure, some players are naturally very good at penalties, but you don’t really want to be relying on a single punt to assure you of success.

Better to plan carefully, construct messages and design products that solve problems and make customers lives better, more productive and less wastefully. Communicate value, offer education and information willingly. Plan to succeed. Avoid the lottery.

Have your say on the blog; A gratuitous topical mixed metaphor. Or a blog post with a message? 

Keywords in practice: SEO for b2b marketing

So, anyone dabbling in the area of SEO knows that selecting the right keywords is an important, but first step in designing a kick-ass b2b search engine marketing strategy, right? (If not, here’s a useful primer)

There is a lot of duff SEO advice online. Get back to basics and use the right keywords optimally around your site. This is a digital fundamental. Here are some quick steps to making sure they help your site rise to the top in search engine results.

Using keywords in practice

It is widely acknowledged that the first 200 words on any web page (especially the home page) are generally the most important on your website. Make sure the keywords for your page are placed in the first few sentences and also in the first heading (h1) tag on the page.

Much of this is covered in the SEO chapter of ‘Brilliant B2B Digital Marketing’ , where I use global compressor manufacturer Atlas Copco and compressed gases supplier BOC to illustrate this technique to promote keyword positioning on compressors, mining and construction.

 

Headings and subheadings

Place your primary keywords in your headings and sub-headings as these areas of content are perceived to carry greater weight in search engine ranking algorithms.

Use key phrases not just keywords

Sometimes if there are words with more than one meaning, it makes sense to use additional words to clarify the intended meaning. To help the search engine bot establish the meaning, use a ~keyword search in Google’s search bar. The results will have the words in bold that the search engine believes are most related to that word. This turns keywords into key phrases or ‘long tail’ to use the common name.

Think about about your own search experience. To navigate an increasingly irrelevant landscape, Internet users are using three words to refine their search so your SEO should follow suit.

Keyword density and distribution

You don’t want to use keywords too much in your displayed ‘on-page’ content, but you do want to make sure they are used at least twice in the body copy as an absolute minimum. Reference needs to be natural and within context. A keyword in every sentence looks forced. Ask your copywriters to use synonyms.

Optimising your meta data

1. Keep meta descriptions short.

If your meta description is longer than 150 characters, search engines may omit some of it. Keep the summary brief and loaded with your most relevant and important keywords to give readers a sense of what they’ll find on the page. To save you counting, the BOC example below is 58 words long.

2. Develop unique meta descriptions.

Keep in mind that the purpose of the meta description is to set the visitor’s expectations about what can be found on that page. This makes meta descriptions for every page a requirement.

 

 

3. Page in a sentance

Write a sentence that encapsulates what the page is about and what it will offer the visitor rather than providing a list of arbitrary keywords. The messaging in the search results are often the first experience of the brand.

4. Reuse elements

Reuse elements throughout the page in links, anchor text and other titles and tags. This increases relevance in the eyes of human and search engine visitors.

5. Order meta data in priority to suit search engines.

Although it is widely held that Google places a low rank on certain elements of meta data, it is good practice to order data in the meta of a web page in the order Title > Description > Keywords.

Applying a diligent approach to your on page SEO gives you a firm foundation to kick on with your online marketing promotion before you spend on link building, pay per click and other forms of advertising.

 

Putting your expertise to best use for your business

If this summer is anything to go by, I’m convinced UK PLC is powering gingerly back into life. At my agency, we’ve had a crazy busy period with an unrivalled number of tenders, pitches and proposals for new client prospects as well as clients entering early stage planning for new campaign periods.

What has been clear is that the wheels of business in a range of sectors that have struggled for several years, have finally started turning. Marketing, as we know, is often one of the first casualties of recession, so an increase in tenders, pitches and proposals is a real barometer of confidence.

But marketing is getting ever more challenging as a discipline. Buyers have greater choice than at any time previous and are much more aware of those choices.

Standing out has never been more important or more urgent. But how you do it determines how successful you’ll be. Tapping into the search mentality of the modern buyer and their quest for problem solving information is one of the most credible and engaging ways to do this.

Check out my current article for Smart Insights on how to make the case for inbound content marketing here.

Book your place at my next conference presentation for On the Edge on 19th September in Birmingham on “Help! I’m a content marketer – 15 easy to implement content tips you can start using tomorrow!”

Five ways to use creative design for a stand out B2B website

Delivering high impact creative design that has a positive impact on user interaction with your B2B website

Most of the focus in web design inevitably falls on the process that delivers the look and feel for a website. But well thought through visual branding can help to differentiate your offering and develop credibility.

Your website should be representative of your company and its design needs to efficiently and effectively convey the personality and values enshrined in other marketing material. If there is an existing brand used as part of other marketing communications, apply it to the website environment. An established brand offers an opportunity to quickly tap into design elements that customers are already comfortable with and can identify with.

Think about these five ways of developing a creative impression you can be proud of – and one that dovetails with all the other ways customers come into contact with your business.

1. Templates. For layout structure consider keeping it simple by using three main page layouts: one for the homepage, one for content pages (with different layouts for product or service categories and products in some cases) and one for form pages. For example, your homepage will have a different layout from a landing page for a PPC campaign. Keep the elements in these layouts constant. This will help keep your visitors from feeling lost.

2. Colour. Avoid using lots of colours by focusing on two to four colours consistent with your brand for your templates and call to action buttons.

3. Typography. Make sure your website type is legible and consistent with branding. Use fonts, font sizes and font colors that are easy to read. For easier page scanning, use bullet lists, section headers and short paragraphs. If your site is English language-based, make sure information flows from left to right and top to bottom.

4. Images. Images can be a powerful element to any website but you need to use them wisely. Every image is transmitting a subconscious message to your audience and sometimes the result is different from what you might expect. Many businesses use stock photography that can cheapen your brand. If you must, give stock photo shots a colour treatment makeover to develop your own style. Cropping or manipulating the angle can create a bespoke photographic style but it is always better to have your own. In all major tests, photos of real people outperformed stock photos in terms of preference.

5. Animations, gadgets and other rich media. Avoid anything unnecessary. Using Flash animations because they look cool is the wrong strategy. In most cases it’s best not to use animated background or background music. Only use rich media like video and animations to help support content and information. Carousels or sliders are becoming more common in business sites to convey proposition and promotions.

Industrial brands like Ingersoll Rand and BOC take different approaches to how the use design in their website strategy, but both are geared towards trafficking customers to content as quickly as possible.

 

 

Through combining brand colour, shape, typography, photography, graphics, sound and video, good website design can create atmosphere as well as consistency in identity. This can also help provide a framework to support the functional requirements a site needs to have as well as the content it should contain to deliver a superior customer experience.

Next up: Making websites fit for function. Subscribe by email to make sure you don’t miss it!

 

Why B2B digital marketing requires a new approach

There has been a very good reason why this blog has been left unloved for much of 2012. I started the year musing on the lack of credible B2B digital marketing texts available to modern marketers – so decided to write one.

In this blog post I lay out why it’s needed and what you can hope to get from it. Much more on B2B digital marketing to come over the weeks and months.

Marketing in complexity

Understanding, interpreting and delivering on customer needs has been the foundation of marketing for over one hundred years. Many business­-to-business (B2B) organisations are already successfully using digital marketing in specialist sectors like financial and professional services, IT and software, manufacturing, engineering or science.

Businesses have been buying and selling products to one another for hundreds of years. But, don’t let anyone tell you that B2B marketing isn’t different from marketing products to consumers. It is. B2B marketing often involves communicating challenging and niche product benefits to hard to reach and hard to engage B2B decision makers, through a complex purchase cycle taking them from unaware to purchase.

B2B requires a specialised skill-set and understanding of the psychology, the gestation period, differing information needs and complex operating environment in which specifers, influencers and decision makers work together to procure products and services on behalf of their companies.

Scarcity of advice

Yet, for business marketers, there is a limited amount of good quality, specific advice and best practice available to draw upon for the unique challenges and opportunities available from digital media.

Visibility in Internet search for B2B marketers is key. Companies that follow a stepped approach that creates touch-points, positive first impressions and a tangible interest to customers will see a return on digital marketing investment.

Up until now, there have been surprisingly few books or guides which address the unique challenges of promoting business products and services online, whether these are for companies which don’t sell online who are focused on lead generation and customer communications or online B2B retailers.

B2B marketers can still learn something from the many texts that focus on how global super brands like Apple, Starbucks, Coca Cola and Unilever build and promote their portfolios. Yet, it is often hard to relate what they do with their multi­million dollar budgets and unrivalled resource relevant to B2B campaigns.

Until now.

In my new (and first) full colour, 400+ page case-study and best practice packed Brilliant B2B Digital Marketing (published in association with Dr Dave Chaffey and Smart Insights), you’ll learn how to create a plan or simply work through all the issues you need to think about to make online B2B marketing more effective.

Available now from Amazon for Kindle and for all Kindle apps across a wide variety of PC, Mac and smartphone devices (check your app store, it will be free) it covers all the areas you need to review to take your online marketing to the next level if you market to other businesses.

These include:-

– creating a strategy and setting measurable goals

– building effective, high impact relevant websites

– optimising digital marketing for search

– using content and inbound marketing

– harnessing the most appropriate social media tools to engage target audiences

– developing deeper calls to action and eCRM

– using analytics to improve digital marketing

I hope it helps you to determine a clear pathway to improved digital marketing for your business and one that gives you the success you demand. Do please feedback, either here, on Twitter copying me @renepower using the hashtag #BrilliantB2B, via Linkedin.

And if you want to leave a review on Amazon, please feel free – nice ones may qualify for a kickback of some kind in 2013.