B2B marketing and Seth Godin’s concept of art

Seth Godin’s current concern lies in encouraging more people to break free from the shackles of self-doubt and to create work that matters. Work that can be considered as art. Art is a state of mind and good, valuable, productive work will, he argues, always find an audience.  Andy Warhol had it right some years ago too.

I’m para-phrasing slightly of course but the concept resonates (as so many of Seth’s do) with me because I’m attempting to sit in the 1%  of people who are trying to create art and do something a little different in my field of speciality.

Celebrating B2B Art

There isn’t a huge amount of art in the broad world of B2B marketing – this despite attempts to celebrate great B2B art like the B2B Marketing magazine B2B Awards showcase event, this March.

The simple truth is that money still, in large part, matters. What ties all the brands together in the B2B Marketing showcase is the scale of available resource. I don’t see any heavy industry players, manufacturers, small professional services businesses – only the likes of Google, British Gas and BT – themselves all well known hybrid B2B/B2C businesses.

My attempt at Art

It’s bold, exciting and uncomfortable in equal measure opening yourself and your business up. This Marketing Assassin blog (reinvigorated for 2013), my conference and webinar presentations, my Twitter feed and my new b2b digital marketing ebook are all examples of my own trying to do something different and give back. I’ve crammed a lot into nearly 20 years promoting business products and services and this is just the beginning of approaching things in a different way.

Art doesn’t have to be complicated, creative, innovative, dynamic, and/or provocative. It simply has to mean something to the people that come into contact with it.  Even better if it can add value in some way, help, resolve, inspire or galvanise a particular onward journey or course of action.

Q: How are you attempting to inject art into your B2B marketing?

Image credit: Polymer Arts blog 

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.

Links worth a click #1

Links worth a click we 27 May, 2011.

It was an interesting week in digital. Here is my pick of the top stories.

GOOGLE WALLET heralded a new age of cashless transaction. Here is the Guardian’s take on it  and something from Google on how it works.

Staying with GOOGLE but going retro, here is a great guide from Mashable on getting started with Google Analytics.

For CONTENT MARKETERS trying to make some money, Seth Godin’s excellent new publishing initiative Project Domino put out a blog post which discussed the paradox of the paid PDF ebook.

FACEBOOK specific retail pages, or F-commerce, are on the rise. Here is an interesting Econsultancy review of the new Lyle & Scott Facebook
clothing store

Brand Republic reported this week that brands have been ‘liked’ by 150m Facebook users per day.

There was a big TWITTER development this week which meant that for the first time people can see what you see. It’s going to show up all those guilty pleasures you follow and some you might not want people to know about!

Finally, Lamborghini are considering a new ‘everyday model’ so you should start saving now!

Image: Gearlive.com


Content worth a click we 6 May 2011

Here are some great, thought provoking things I’ve been reading and sharing this week. Great content draws people towards you and curation is a perfectly acceptable strategy. So without a wedding dress or a length of Union Jack bunting in sight, here goes.

Seth Godin kicked off my week talking about how all the effort, resource and financial investment is often risked by how your company responds to one phone call, in this blog post called ‘The $20,000 phone call’ . You should sign up for daily inspiration at his blog.

The excellent and increasingly interactive Social Media Examiner blog recently blogged about how bloggers can use book reviews to connect with experts. This is the path to bigger audiences and a great way to consider bigger hitters to take you more seriously. Follow SME on Twitter.

Another of my favourite social media blogs, Social Media B2B delivered a compelling post on social media and content marketing in the B2B sales funnel. Pay particular attention to how good content marketing can influence buyers in the awareness, consideration and purchase stages of the b2b buying process.

And the same blog discussed later in the week how Linkedin really is a critical, and often pooly used b2b social media tool. What do you do with all those contacts you collect, those people you charm in groups and the companies you follow?

More on content came from Econsultancy with a discussion around the importance of creating durable content and a content asset that doesn’t depreciate too quickly. That means avoiding just writing about topical news and events.

What was interesting about Harvard Business’s blog on hiring graduates was the feeling that graduates really need to do more to make themselves look more attractive. I lectured at a UK university recently and was astonished that only student in a group of 40 had a Linkedin profile! You need to embrace social media people and start by selling yourself.

The final one from me this week. More small steps by Facebook in their slow but ultimately and probably all conquering march to social media dominance. The next step in Facebook business evolution was unveiled as Facebook Studio: a creative platform for brands


Five ways to get more readers to your blog

Blogging is the in-thing. Writing a personal or corporate blog, over time, helps to position us as experts and if integrated with our website, can have a positive effect on our search engine optimisation if done correctly.

But when we start out on the blogging journey, it can be a hard road to the nirvana of achieving a massive subscription following. Let’s face it we’re not all Seth Godin, Brian Solis, Jeff Bullas when we start out. It took these guys time to get to where they are. It’s going to take you time too.

Unfortunately, this means that writing a blog post doesn’t end when you hit ‘publish’. But, fortunately, what it does mean is that by using a few specific tools and platforms you can serve your blog content to people in places where they may be more receptive to it.

Here’s some to get you thinking:

Obvious! If you blog you simply have to tweet. I put a new blog post link (shortened and with some explanation and hashtags) out to Twitter 3-4 times  on the day it is published. My times are GMT and designed to coincide with when I think people I want to reach are most likely to be using Twitter.

The times are 08.55, 13.00 (lunch) , 17:15 (end of UK work day browse and to hit east coast US) and 22:30 (to hit night owls, west coast US and Far East). Have a strategy, see how it works and refine it if necessary.

I’m not perfect though and am devising a way to keep older blog content alive by regular reposting – perhaps based on comments received or updates.

I’m a member of a number of Linkedin groups which also count clients and prospects so the blog posts (not every one) that are relevant are added to a group as  a discussion. This means rethinking the title to be more catchy and discussive, drafting a line of executive summary, posting and following the comments. Double up by including in your status bar. Triple up by adding blog plugin to your profile page!

While I’ve been aware of them, I’m a new convert to using bookmarking sites for my own content. I guess I always thought that those funny sharing buttons were for other people. Turns out I was wrong. A good friend of mine, Pete Masters who is blogging in the construction sector added a post to StumbleUpon and saw a huge spike in traffic. Obviously it is content dependent, but it is there to use for free and should be exploited.

Formerly Associated Content – Yahoo Contributor is a great way to reproduce blog posts which have a third party independent feel about them. As an example, see my Linkedin in ten easy steps blog entry on Yahoo Contributor. It’s just another way to put content in front of people who might be looking for it on another platform.

Blog response is a important part of both raising your profile and drawing traffic from other, higher traffic blog sites. The caveats here are to ensure that you post responses that add value and do not simply erect a signpost to your blog on someone else’s blog. That’s what your hyperlinked name is for when you make the comment.

And this is the tip of the iceberg. What about other link sharing, trade portals, news sites, hubs, forums? Think creatively about your blog content and do all you can to give it the oxygen it deserves to move and breath.


Why you need to take the initiative and create

My current inspiration is Seth Godin’s latest work Poke the Box, in which he contends that the only way to differentiate in the modern business economy is to deliver. To try something new. Something different. Something challenging. In short, to take the initiative, not wait, and do something.

[As an aside, take a look at the previews and video in the link above, especially if you haven’t come across his work before. It’s illuminating].

This idea of taking initiative is a compelling argument. Initiative drives creation. We all have the capacity to create or be creative. Most of us probably claim to do it, but probably don’t.

It is assumed that creating takes time and resource, and that you need to be in some way artistic. It opens us up to criticism that we don’t want or can’t bear. So we hide, we do the jobs we are assigned, we play safe. We keep our heads below the parapet. And we end up frustrated.

Until recently it didn’t dawn on me that I’m creative. I write a blog. I contribute to other people’s blogs. I’m active in networking groups and engage many interesting people on Twitter. I’m putting myself in front of different groups and presenting them with new, even challenging ideas. I challenge my peers with new ways of working, new opportunities. I’m teaching myself website development, WordPress, design and Photoshop. And I’m developing content for different online platforms, in different formats.

In short, you don’t have to be creative to create. Creating is a mindset, a willingness to look at things differently. And initiative is the fuel, the permission to do it.

The thing is, and as Seth argues, initiative doesn’t need to be bestowed, it comes from you.

So what are you waiting for? What are you going to create today?


5 ways to be a valued internet contributor

Yesterday I mused on valued contributors and internet bores.

The reason for this lies in the Internet levelling the playing field and creating unrivalled opportunity for anyone to be ‘somebody’ to someone. As Seth Godin wrote recently, anyone can be famous within a specific circle and there are a number of emerging stars in many sectors and on many platforms. Warhol got it right.

So, a plausible entry level strategy to raising your profile online is to comment on key news, articles and blogs relevant to your industry, especially if you’re not able (or willing) to create your own. The objective is to position yourself within the discussion by offering ‘expert’ comment on articles seen by the sector at large.

It’s easy to find the websites, news hubs, forums and groups where your peers and potential customers are congregating to discuss pertinent industry issues. But there is so much more to it than 1/ thanking people for posts or 2/ spamming articles with links to your own site.

Here’s how I go about responding online. If you follow a similar approach that works for you,  you’ll be on the fast track to becoming a valued internet contributor.

1. Start with a positive comment about the blog post / author. Sounds obvious but who has time to say ‘thanks’, ‘great post’, ‘that has really made me think’. Actually, surprisingly few. Whether you agree with what is being contended, appreciate the time that has been invested. Some articles can take hours to pull together especially if they contain data, case study material, links and images.

2. Add value. It’s fine to disagree but outline why. Offer evidence, perspective or a link to other material. It is quite routine on high traffic sites for the comments section to be the area where the most interesting material sits. If you position the initial article as a discussion enabler, you will quickly understand why so many articles have deliberately provocative or engaging titles – they are designed to take a stance and draw you in to offer an opinion.

3. Don’t get personal. Remember what happens on the web stays on the web and lots of people can potentially see it. If you wouldn’t say if face to face, don’t say it online. Once you hit send, you lose control over your comment. If you can’t remain professional, don’t post a response.  Best to stay factual or not get involved in articles you really don’t agree with.

4. Avoid adding obvious links to your own material or promoting something you did on a similar topic. This is a soft strategy. If fellow readers like what you have to say, they will be able to click your hyperlinked name/photo identification and see what you’re all about. A great metaphor is the property for sale sign. You wouldn’t erect a for sale sign outside your neighbour’s house encouraging buyers to come and see yours instead, so similarly on blogs and websites, be respectful of the personal space you are visiting.

5. Pick the right articles to respond on. Many high traffic sites have a team of contributors providing the articles to enable them to publish several items a day. Commenting on every post will quickly identify you to everyone in the community as a crushing bore, a know-all, or worse a spammer using it solely for the SEO back link.

So the trick is to add value. It will help. Getting blackballed in your own industry is not a road you want to go down.

Images: Luca Martera and SocialMouths


My Twitter week (w/e 6 March 2011)

A belated post (everthing seems to be belated at the moment with two boys and a marathon to consider!)

Monday was Oscar’s fall out day, where The Social Network missed out on the biggies. It was fascinating watching the breakfast shows falling over themselves to get a minute with the celebrities attending the post Oscar’s parties. Quite why people like Jamie Oliver and Katie Price were there remains beyond me.

In the Twittersphere, Econsultancy were remarking on another brand penalised for dodgy SEO practice, this time JC Penney. Be warned, like TV licence vans, they get you eventually. New rules on product placement on British TV were unveiled, paving the way for fries with everything.

Tuesday came with news that The ASA is now including online campaigns, websites and email marketing within its policing claims remit.

Wednesday, I headed to Technology for Marketing and Advertising at Earls Court. If you missed my write-ups, head over the BDB Blog or click here and then here. There was still time (and wifi) to pick up the ‘official’ launch of Seth Godin’s new output from his publishing Domino Project, a new book called Poke the Box.

Thursday saw Charlie Sheen‘s Guinness Book of Records entry following his tigerblood enfused Twitter antics hit the mass media.

On Friday, a genius Royal Wedding cash-in was unveiled in the form of two stories centred on new Mr Men character Little Miss Princess. The ever inspiring @oneforty posted a blog on 8 Ways to Use Social Media to Track Your Competition.

What have you been reading and sharing in the last seven days?

My Twitter Week (21-27 Feb 2011)

A round up of what I’ve been reading, clicking and sharing over the last seven days. There were a number of really good reads this week, please take a minute to check over them, there will be something for you!

In a week where the top Twitter trends were understandably dominated by the spread of democratisation in the Middle East and the earthquake in New Zealand, good marketing was initially hard to find.

1. CONTENT It was Tuesday before a great blog post surfaced, where on the Savvy b2b Marketing blog, the girls were looking at how to overcome the four main challenges in b2b content marketing. If you’re lazy, the four challenges are using content, producing content, delivering consistently engaging material and best practice dissemination of content.

2. BLOGGING From there, it was interesting to get Mark Schaefer’s take on how to make your company blog connect like a personal blog which is a real problem for many businesses right now trying to dip their toe in the digital social media space.

3. BUSINESS In business news, it was interesting to read that recession busting Asda outlined plans to share a £27m bonus windfall with staff. And not an Ocado van in sight!

4. SOCIAL MEDIA Back on the internet marketing front, Social Media Examiner published a very impressive read reviewing the 22 Hot New Social Media Tools Worth Exploring. I particularly liked the look of CinchCast (audio recording on the go), Screenr (screen capture software) & Onlywire (blog aggregation).

5. WEB TV Meanwhile, YouTube was moving further into the realm of online TV channel with the news that fans could soon be tuning in to NBA basketball & NHL ice hockey games live on YouTube.

6. PUBLISHING The always insightful Harvard Business Blog had Joshua Gans musing on the present and future of digital publishing and the changing relationship with ‘content complementors’.

7. B2B SOCIAL MEDIA The Excellent MarketingProfs posted on How to Create a B2B Facebook Community, again an enduring discussion topic at marketing conferences around the world right now.

8. BLOGGING Hubspot published a useful rundown of the top 100 marketing blogs. Disappointed not to be in there, but it may be one for the future. At the time of writing I just got picked up by the NYTimes (item 7), so fame can’t be far away!

9. LINCHPIN Finally, the doyen of modern blogging and business thinking. Seth Godin returns to his latest work to ask ‘Are you a linchpin?’ Here’s the blueprint.

What have you been reading, and what do you think to any of these?

Top Tweets of the Week (A review) w/c 14 Feb 2011

My weekly Twitter round up

On Monday, it was reported that The English Football Association (FA) had clamped down on use of Twitter and other social media by issuing clarification on how they could offend or bring the game into disrepute. The English Cricket Board and ICC followed suit, instead looking to prevent in-game betting syndicates from gaining an unfair advantage.

Tuesday, it was interesting to read on Hubspot about ways to engage the sales team in marketing, and specifically in contributing to blogs. Most companies are some way off, but it is good to see that there is some theory that can be used to position it as more attractive.

Wednesday, I learned from @markschaefer that Twitter saved him from networking and saved his business as a result. A great, honest account from one of the leading social media thought leader in the US about the growing relevance of Twitter in business.

Seth Godin wrote some thought provoking words on pricing and valuing yourself and what you do on Thursday. The central premise being that you have to irreplaceable, essential and priceless to remain in control of what you charge.

And finally, it was reported this week that men are getting more broodier and want to settle down. Maybe it was Valentines  and all that chocolate!?