Links worth a click #10

I’m returning after an unplanned period of blog leave with some links I thought were worthy of sharing from this week’s wires. Interesting that two Amazon related stories made the cut – interesting because I don’t think Amazon make the news all that often.

First off, and following the success off their entry into the ebook market with Kindle, word that Amazon are planning a tablet priced at $250. Awesome if true, just hoping they don’t do a Samsung and mirror the iPad too much.

Google celebrated it’s arrival into adolescence this week, reaching its 13th birthday. Brand Republic pulled some of their best video ads together in a great post, most you probably won’t have seen in the UK before.

In these recession times, an increasing number of businesses are looking to the Internet to develop revenue streams. As are the self employed, employed and unemployed. Consider some of this advice from Mashable on how to use your social media skills to earn extra money.

As a blogger here and at SmartInsights, it is always nice to be able to promote a stablemate’s work. So check out these five ideas for crowdsourcing and user generated content by Danyl.

And back to Amazon. Marketing Magazine reported that their embryonic click and collect’ service might be hitting the UK soon.

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Five ways to think more creatively about your marketing

Whether you are in the creative business, have a team to motivate or customers to provide creative solutions for, thinking creatively is essential.

But a longer than usual holiday period, coupled with short days, miserable weather and clients and customers slow to get off the mark can all contribute to quickly  stagnating creative thinking.

In the constantly switched on world, how can we create time and space for ourselves to think creatively about the challenges we face and break the cycle of thinking inside the box?

Here are five techniques that I use, maybe they will be useful to you.

1. Upset your daily / weekly routine: Once a week take a different route, look out the window. Take the train or bus rather than the car. If you can, walk. Look at the billboards, bus stops and read the local free paper. The objective is to come off ‘autopilot’ and take in the creative stimulus around you.

2. Use your time more efficiently: Take your lunch hour and use it productively. Set up a Google Reader account, sign up for some blogs and news feeds related to your sector, your speciality and your interests. Or join some Linkedin groups and join the discussions. Or scan content on YouTube or Slideshare. The point of these activities are to open yourself up to available free content and influence.

3. Read something new: Is there anything you don’t understand or want to understand in more detail? Learning stimulates the grey matter and can be powerful in equipping you with greater capacity to think more creatively in the future. Hit the Amazon bestseller list – it doesn’t have to be a business or self help book, but they might be a good start. The reason to consider this is to learn from others.

4. Handle meetings differently: Creative brainstorms can actually inhibit creative thinking. Why? Dull, uninspiring boardrooms are not generally conducive to free flowing ideas, time pressures are usually set, and the loudest or most senior people in the room usually dominate the discussion. Break these conventions be setting an agenda, dishing out the brief in advance, relocating the meeting to a coffee shop, park, museum, the client’s offices and encouraging the involvement of all not the will of the chairperson. The reason for going to these lengths is to achieve creative ‘breakthrough’.

5. Look at brands you like and learn from them: Who is to say that b2b packaging companies, food service or building product manufacturers can’t learn from high profile b2b, b2c or fmtg brands? That professional services businesses can’t learn from coffee chains? What do the brands you trust do well? How do they treat you, how do they communicate, how do they encourage you to engage further and deeper?

Which ever way you view it, creativity is a key differentiator, and the ability to quickly and decisively tackle complicated communications challenges demands creative thinking.

What do you think?

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Marketing Metrics 10: Linkedin

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Linkedin is THE platform for business professionals looking to develop themselves, their contact pool and their business. What began several years ago as a professional networking forum quickly evolved into a powerful tool to raise profile and showcase expertise.

As Facebook rose to prominence in the consumer space, Linkedin has been quick to deploy the latest techniques to ensure it stays ahead of competitors like Ning and Plaxo.

Whilst social media (annoying term!) continues its progression into business, and published luminaries’ pontificate on how to monetize it, we the practitioners are left to try and find a way to make it work.

In my  view, Linkedin supports two specific objectives: profile and reputation raising AND lead generation. But in this era of soft marketing, you should categorically focus on the former before crashing ahead with the later. The loud, spamming bores are given short thrift on Linkedin.

And, if you follow my non-nonsense ten-step approach to making Linkedin work for you, you’ll be well on your way personally and professionally to achieving both objectives.

If you’re viewed as someone people value through your contributions on Linkedin, you will be sought out. This means posting answers, offering solutions and sharing interesting content. Group members will want to connect with you, your contacts will want to recommend you to their contacts and over time be recommended by you. All these numbers are pretty tangible.

[Image from http://sterlingadvisorsllc.com]

So too, are the tangible numbers related to lead generation. This starts with group and answer discussions, click-throughs to [or downloads of] associated content like slides, blog posts, web visits, Twitter, views/follows on company profile, provision of Answers etc, all leading to connection requests and enquiries.

Everything you do on Linkedin gets you closer to the people you want to get close to. Applying Frignes Karinthy’s six degrees of separation strategy means that technically there is little stopping you accessing the FTSE 100 CEO you seek an audience with; you just have to do it in the right way as you get one shot.

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Few account holders stray beyond the free platform such is the integration with other tools including email, Twitter, Slideshare, WordPress and Amazon. But upgrading to one of the business plans affords the opportunity not only to use InMail to communicate with anyone, run detailed 3rd level searches and see expanded profiles but also to see who has been looking at your profile.

Professionals and companies – such as recruitment – are generating real revenue through platforms like Linkedin. Given you can take a step-by-step approach to building your expert profile, contact pool and leads, can you really afford not to?