Links worth a click #5

There have been some really interesting reads online.

Here is my pick from the last week, we 24 June 2011.

SOCIAL MEDIA:  Mashable offered up an interesting ‘Behind the Scenes’ on 8 Innovative Social Media Campaigns. My personal favourite is The Voice because it is a new take on reality contest TV and was perfect for social media.

B2B: I particularly liked the advice on keeping your mind on ‘next action’ as a driver on what and how to present in Social Media B2B’s post on How to Create Great B2B Presentations

FACEBOOK: Australia’s finest, Jeff Bullas has pulled together an overview of 5 creative Facebook pages. I was initially surprised in scrolling through to find games, movies, cars and lingerie, but hey it is Facebook!

SEO COPY: The ever useful Marketing Profs site published a handy little guide on writing with SEO in mind. Their Five Tips for Writing Content That Keeps Pace With B2B Searches included titbits such as staying aware and staying relevant.

BLOGGING: If you need to get your CEO on board with your social media thinking, here is a useful post designed to get them involved in the blog side of things.

Now, a three way tie for content of the week:

EBOOKS: First off Hubspot’s How to Write and Launch an Ebook That Generates Leads. Staggeringly useful.

INFOGRAPHICS: Secondly, a must try: Infographics are all the rage right now if you have a dataset you want to present in an innovative way. Here are 5 tools to help turn data into infographics.

WEBSITES: Finally, from Econsultancy, and just to make most of you feel your age, just look at how some of the UK’s top e-commerce sites have changed in the past five years (or in some cases not changed).

Hope you see something you like. More next week.


Taking the reins off your star performers

There is tendency for recruiters to bring new talent into a business but then attempt to restrict that talent rather than embrace what was attractive about it in the first place.

It sounds ridiculous, but how often do businesses lose good people over job satisfaction, motivation and development issues? The company, its customers and colleagues are the least frequently cited reasons for leaving.

Conformity is easy.

Better, then to encourage team members that want to be encouraged, that want to push the envelope, that want to raise the bar. Creativity, thinking creatively, innovation and dynamism are the lifeblood of most organisations but company culture too often sucks this from people and leaves them ambivalent because they haven’t received positive feedback on ideas and input previously.

An extreme example above. Love him or hate him, Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary has created incredible revenues for his company and his shareholders. To such an extent that even customers that would prefer not to fly Ryanair still do because of the way he has managed to keep ticket costs low.

Do you have star performers that you are reining in? Perhaps its time to take the shackles off and see how your business might flourish. Brave companies lead. Conservative ones follow.

Image: FastCompany


Is the old agency model dead?

A question posed in PRWeek this week as agency GolinHarris took over the publication with several pages given over to analysis of their new agency structure.

Much was made of their decision to demolish the traditional structure and replace accepted roles with a four pillared approach based on strategist, creator, catalyst and connector specialists instead of generalists.

But is it a clever PR stunt or something deeper? A comment perhaps on the evolving demands placed on the consultancy sector or the often bloated nature of the agencies that work within it and their need to drive efficiency?

Whichever side you come down on,  it provoked lots  of industry heavyweights, and some lightweights too, into offering their perspective.

What their move has done is recognise the growing role and significance of digital and social media in the marketing mix. And it gives a mid-sized PR agency the opportunity the take on specialist PR, advertising, media and digital agencies in an increasingly divergent operating environment.

Scale is a factor and this is the reason most agencies are structured the way the are. Clients invariably prefer a single point of contact as this reduces the communications flow to a more manageable level. It will be interesting to see if other agencies follow suit.


Tips on marketing, innovation and being remarkable

Two great takeaways in this slide set I spotted during this week’s review of the latest uploads to Slideshare, in addition to the great embedded YouTube video functionality half way through.

1. Work on your elevator pitch. Conventional wisdom says you have 30-60 seconds to get across what you do. Maybe if you work in Canary Wharf. The rest of us probably have 10 seconds max.

2. Slides 21+ – first doesn’t win and remarkable beats first every time.

Kudos to Charlie Wollborg


Is the role of sales and marketing director dead?

Is it a sign of the times, and the broad acceptance of marketing as a standalone discipline, that the role of the sales and marketing director is becoming less common? Can you really focus effectively when you are doing two jobs?

Make no mistake they are two very different jobs. In a recent Marketing Week feature, Pitney Bowes marketing director Phil Hutchinson commented:

   “Marketers are thinkers and strategists, they are more creative, whereas sales    is a very hard-hitting, fast moving and fairly aggressive environment. Within      marketing, you need to think more long term. In the sales arena, you’re                  always dealing pretty much in the short term.”

Differing disciplines

Sales and marketing are two diametrically opposed roles with different focus, different methodologies and different outcomes. They exist at different stages of the buying process. Though bound by the need to sell products, they go about it in very contrasting ways.

If you are operating in a sales role, you are focused on selling, period. You want to shift as much as you can as quickly as you can. Discounting, bundling and price promotion are the tools to use. They are not the same tools that the marketing-focused use to build durable brand equity for the longer term.

Anecdote time

In an early post-university position, I worked with a boorish sales director who ruled the sales and marketing roost. For a time he dominated the negotiation and running of key account relationships. He went awol for days on end, conducting his business on Europe’s finest golf courses, running up huge expenses as he went. And, of course, giving away product at significantly reduced prices.

After a while, a southern based director of market development moved north. They didn’t seem eye-to-eye. But surprisingly, it was the sales director that made way. He was a relic. His perspective and his blinkered view of the world had become outdated and dangerous to the business.

Overnight, the company moved from being a sales led to a marketing led business. That isn’t to say that sales targets weren’t set and worked towards, but that the profitable meeting of segmented and definable customer needs became the mantra. It remains the case today, and many companies the world over are now doing the same thing. Channelling their efforts into designing and supplying products and services that meet the exacting requirements of niche segments. Marketing is the future of selling.

Ultimately, I think it comes down to this. If marketing and sales were the same, there wouldn’t have been the need to differentiate between the two. Marketing would never have happened, the fact it did – 90 years before the concept of ‘spin’ – speaks volumes.

What has your experience been? Have you conducted a sales and marketing role and if so, did you honestly focus 50:50? Do you think a sales and marketing role is achievable in the modern business age? Might it just be worth thinking about that next sales and marketing vacancy you need to fill?

Image: Corp Intel


Why claiming creativity is almost irrelevant

I create this blog but don’t consider myself to be particularly creative. Agencies, job hunters, and marketers of varying repute claim to be creative but I wonder if many really are.

Being creative and operating creatively demands a mindset that modern businesses are rarely equipped for. The pressures that the current economic climate brings mean that businesses don’t get a second chance these days. You get one chance to make a killer first impression, to win the pitch, to land the contract, and to deliver it on time and on budget.

So are you going to cultivate an environment that affords opportunity and one which motivates and empowers your people, partners and suppliers? One that challenges them to conceive truly original ideas and to work them through to completion?

Or are you going to water them down in committee and settle for the conservative way things have always done, rather than be brave… and creative?

Understand that you aren’t the adjudicator of your creativity, your stakeholders are. Do you have evidence from them to substantiate your lofty claims? And the work to prove it?



Socionomics 2011: The social media revolution continues

Erik Qualman’s Social Media Revolution animation has been one of the most over-used videos in seminar and conference presentations and by educators in recent years.

For good reason. He pulled together some incredible statistics in a really engaging way to show how social media has changed in the world in less than five years.

Well, he’s at it again with his 2011 update, released yesterday, and it has already pulled in over 21,000 hits. I fully expect it to hit the million before the end of the summer.

[YouTube video embed]

For me there is an obvious takeaway. Draw on the data inside to supplement your knowledge, empower your team, enthuse your customers and drive your social media strategy.

Because, to be blunt, you need one.


An entrepreneurial state of mind

Note to RSS/subscribers: Slideshare viewable only on the site.

Loving the sentiment of this Slideshare and there is much to take from it and apply to  your workplace and and from a people management perspective.

Few companies give individuals and teams the opportunity to try and fail. They are just not coached or mentored to think creatively, to consider the commercial impact of their decisions and simply, to have a go.

Only by being encouraged can people be expected to develop a sense of ownership and responsibility over what they are tasked with. And when people have a sense of ownership, just watch how it transforms their approach.

And it starts with the little ones!

Are you fostering an entrepreneurial state of mind in your workplace, or holding people back?

Kudos to Ricardo Sousa for creating something that will hopefully resonate and endure.


Are you self marketing effectively? Guidance for aspiring marketers.

Now’s the time to act if you want a job in marketing.

But it’s much harder and more competitive than ever before. Not surprising really given the tough economic times we are living in and the fact that marketing (and training) are invariably the first budgets slashed.

Standing out from the crowd means doing more than just sending personalised CVs to company owners and directors, let alone applying for advertised jobs. You have to embrace the Internet and showcase your understanding and passion for all things ‘social’. This means having active profiles and understanding how the internet can be used for commercial gain.

So whether you are student approaching the end of your studies, an educator or a concerned friend of the family, there should be something in this little lot.

Online resume

First off, start with your online profile by setting up an online resume. (This is actually sage advice for professionals at all stages of the career development process).


Cleaning up your Facebook and applying some privacy settings is naturally a smart step. But take your social networking one step further by optimising your Linkedin profile. And if you need to set one up, follow my advice from last year.

Content driven

This link about being an awesome marketer (circulated in Sunday’s Links worth a click) will steer you in the right direction of current trends in marketing and marketing management.

Being screened

And finally, look at what guides the decisions on the other side of the desk by reading this article on how employers are going to start screening for modern marketing talent.

Actually, there is one more and HOT OFF THE PRESS, Seth Godin bats one out of the park with this observation about creating your own destiny – another in his recent, long trend about creating work that matters and work that ships.

Oh, if you’re already a marketing professional who got this far, congratulations. This might be of benefit to you too ;o). The fact you read this blog post marks you out already and you deserve to benefit from that.

Image: Mike Duran


Brand strategy: Mass market, the niche and Coke

Teachers, speakers, gurus and consultants drill into the minds of business owners the importance of targeting, segmentation and positioning. There is an abundance of advice available on why and how you shouldn’t try and target a broad group.

But playing devil’s advocate, isn’t it sometimes better, even more appropriate to cast the net wide? It works for Apple (especially at launch), Argos (the high street retailer with a  catalogue in 70% of UK homes) and of course Coca Cola.


Especially when you consider Andy Warhol’s famous quote:

   “A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than               the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same. Liz                 Taylor knows it, the President knows it and the bum knows it.”

Coke distributes 1.7 bn drinks a day and as a business is more interested in converting the 585m Facebook accounts that DONT currently subscribe to their page rather than the 25m that do.

Most companies claim to serve the customer. But don’t be fooled. These companies are in it for themselves. Coke’s global business strategy is to ensure that anyone, anywhere, can get their hands on a Coke if they want one.

Which begs the question are you concentrating on making a fantastic product and service that is delivered exactly the same to whoever buys it, or are you killing yourself trying to bespoke to niche customers over and over? Might just be worth thinking about.