100 things to watch out for in 2011

A little late with this one (early February), but 200,000 hits suggested it was worth a look. And it is. A smorgazbord of marketing tech and media predictions wrapped up in a barnstorming easy to flick deck of slides. Some of them won’t be a surprise, but some are. Personally interested in all things social, mobile and f-commerce on Facebook.

I particularly like the upfront creds which validates JWTs aptitude for foresight by showcasing what they correctly predicted for 2010. A big blog high-five to Ann Mack at JWT (@annmmack) for providing this to us all.

10 top recession marketing tips

Recession marketing, bootstrapping, call it what you will. These are difficult times as business buyers shop around for the best suppliers offering the best all-round deals.

The Marketing Assassin blog was spawned in the recession and was a response to the excess and confused marketing that blights our profession.

Most companies don’t have seven [six, even five] figure marketing budgets and can’t count on award winning agencies, so they have to be targeted and smart.

Here is a quick fire list of ten things you should be doing to ensure you give your business the best chance of success, whilst at the same time restricting cost.

1. Apply a metrics-based approach to every marketing project. If an activity doesn’t fit with a business objective, stop it immediately. This is especially relevant to costly advertising plans and trade shows.

2. Cancel magazine and news subscriptions and set up Google Reader RSS feeds and Google Alerts. If articles get placed, buy print quality PDFs and reprints for marketing purposes, it will be cheaper in the long run.

3. Tap into freelancers rather than bulking up on staff. The recession has created a huge and experienced community of talented but displaced creative individuals that can be brought in on short term projects. Use them as required in stead of taking on additional headcount cost.

4. Move any new employees and kit to the ‘cloud’. Consider using free Google docs rather than costly MS Office.

5. Visit your most profitable customers and tell them how much you value them. Create reasons to talk to them and see them more. Present some insight, fresh ideas, act as a connector by facilitating introductions to other clients.

6. Engage / re-engage customers via email. Send an opt in email suggesting you will contact them quarterly and showcase latest work, ideas, industry trends and insight. Remind them what you excel at, and advise them of any changes, improvements and news. A simple html email designed and delivered through a service like Dotmailer will suffice.

7. When you cut back or cancel your advertising plan (point 1), use measurement  as an excuse and adopt a PR based approach instead. PR has longer legs and supports leadership and credibility objectives – essential in the b2b sale.

8. Use existing content. Give lots of presentations? Repackage and host on Slideshare. Add a audio commentary and captions and post to YouTube. Recreate PR as blog posts and white papers. Produce best practice presentations for use as webinars. In essence adopt free to use social media techniques, but the right ones for your business.

9. Use Linkedin. A global network of 80m (stats vary) business people means your future customers, suppliers, freelancers and recruits are all there. Use search filters available for free from the home page.

10. Feed all news, blog content to your website home page to bolster SEO, to your Linkedin company profile page and to a Facebook business page. If you don’t have one of these, set one up, if for no other reason than SEO. (More on Facebook for business in upcoming posts, bookmark the blog now).

Most businesses are working on reduced budgets in 2011 yet have to deliver more just to stand still. Give yourself the best chance by being focused on critical objectives, removing unnecessary cost and stimulating demand in your products and services.

Images: Michael G Holmes, Craven Publishing

Change your life 2.0

Regular readers know I scour the Internet for inspiration and engaging content to share. I take in a lot of interesting stimulii, and occasionally something hits me between the eyes and warrants sharing even though it might not on the face of it fall within the self imposed ‘marketing’ confines of this blog.

However, Coach Bay’s excellent slide deck ‘Change your life 2.0’ hammers home three important ways to get yourself out of that rut you may be in right now and comes very highly recommended. It’s deceptively simple and short, it won’t take two minutes to skim through, but could resonate with you much longer!

Social media hits and misses

Today, a great little slide set from Custom Communication which charts the developments in the social media space over recent years, highlighting which innovators stayed the course and which fell at the early fences.

What is interesting, like in so many sectors, is how in most cases whether it’s social networking, images, blogging, location etc, the early innovators no longer lead the way. Whether that means you should wait rather than innovate, I’m not sure, you just have to be prepared to be flexible when change is demanded. And few areas are needing flexibility more than the online social space right now.


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?

Image MessageMarketing

How storytelling can enhance your brand

With a greater focus on content and context driving long term engagement with brands, I found this Slideshare by StoryBeats to be timely and relevant to the debate.

What I particularly like about it is the way they have drawn creative inspiration from a range of sources – in this example films and games – but have also fused some interesting b2c case studies into the presentation too.

Indeed, using strong characters, plots and scenarios to help create a point of connection with your customers – some common ground – is a powerful first step in developing a relationship.

I think using stories and values to position companies and their brands have never been in sharper focus. Companies that continue to differentiate themselves in this way will stand out from the pack.

Be interested to see what you think.

How to develop influential presentations

I stumbled across some interesting presentations on Slideshare this weekend and thought I’d share. I really feel that if you give presentations of any kind to any audience, regardless of your experience, there is something here for everyone.

This first takes on the ‘keep it simple’ approach and after some strategic preamble, gets really interesting at the slide 43 where it melds content with design. As I’m preparing for a number of conference presentations and lectures in 2011, slides 43-71 are consequently invaluable.

Then I stumbled across PresentationZen, a very simple but very effective presentation summary.

Finally, I happened upon Peter Walker’s ‘The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs’. Quite simply awesome. So much interesting stuff in here, but for me, it’s the central messages about planning and practice that really resonate.

How to connect people and ideas

A great little Slideshare from Chris Cloud, taking a simple but surprisingly effective approach to creating remarkable ideas that have a viral quality. Particularly love how they’ve developed the adoption curve and come up with a new interpretation. Appreciation goes to @Thinkdoer @mdupuch @MNPlanner.

What I’ve learned…

Regular readers of the blog will know that I’m an advocate of content marketing and Slideshare in particular. The site is currently running its 2010 World’s Best Presentation’s Contest at the moment. Please take a few moments to check it out if you haven’t already – there is some genuinely fascinating, high quality and useable content on the site, including this little deck featuring pearls of wisdom from Spencer Waldron.

Selecting the best b2b marketing social media tools

Let’s think for a minute. Before introducing social media tools to your b2b marketing arsenal, think about your customers, who they are, what they look like, and where they congregate.

Doubtless, your target customers probably have a Facebook profile, but do they want their social downtime interrupted by your ‘targeted’ messages? Would you?

They might be using Twitter. Professional services and big finance will certainly have profiles, but most industrial manufacturing and engineering businesses haven’t bought into it yet.

Are the customers you want to reach active and easy to find on Linkedin? They may have a profile but the degree to which they engage and be visible through Groups, Answers etc is probably difficult to quantify.

Tapping into the need for information

So it would appear they need a little more teasing out. What we do know is that business professionals use the Internet increasingly as a source of information. Search is dominated by requests for information about products, services, suppliers, distributors and recruitment. Much of this still channels browsers to corporate sites rather than faddy social media sites despite search engine optimisation via social media growing as a credible online strategy.

Targeting customers using social media tools is further hampered by the fact that for all the search that goes on, most browsers stick to a routine, clearly defined, and limited set of websites for their information. Why? Perhaps, because there simply isn’t the time to take in the scope and scale of information that the Internet can now provide – and because personal security online makes browsers nervous of trying new sites.

Content marketing

So, for social media in b2b marketing, I believe we’re talking about providing information. Useful, timely, relevant and engaging information. It isn’t social media in the way the term is flagrantly used. To me, we differentiate and focus on smart, content marketing.

That means making best use of blogs, white papers, presentations for Slideshare and webinars, video and Linkedin. All generated from material should already exist within your business. It goes without saying that there is an archive of press relations material to delve into – giving you something to specifically ‘refine, refocus and repackage’.

Posts will follow on why I think these are the best social media tools for b2b marketing. Bookmark the social media thread to stay up to date.

Image credit: http://realtimetoolbox.com/marketing-tools.html