Archive for ‘Business/corporate’

6 February 2014

The content marketing revolution – and pigs

animal-farm-pigs

Here’s an excerpt from an excellent article I came across written by James Carson and published on Econsultancy:

“Content marketing costs less than advertising, and more people engage with it.

“It sounds like a revolution but actually there are some rather unkind hidden truths in all of this.

“Much like the pigs at the end of Animal Farm, with the evil predecessor gone, what’s replaced it looks… very similar indeed.

George Orwell, Animal Farm:

Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

Advertising is a waste of money and has been for more than ten years…

Read the full article

2 April 2013

Transforming images of academia

Like the plumber whose house is full of leaky taps, my blog has been sorely neglected over the past few months. In an attempt to bring things up to date, here’s a project I finished last year for Macquarie University.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

28 April 2012

More social media tools than you can stick a pin into

soc1.jpg

So you think you’ve finished your studies? You may have graduated years ago, but let me tell you, in today’s economy, school is never out.

If you don’t have it already, you need to develop a philosophy of life-long learning. Things are changing much too fast to rely simply on what you learned at uni or TAFE.

For example, whether you’re a small or a large business, you can’t stick your head in the sand and ignore trends like social media. That means not only mastering existing tools, but staying abreast of emerging tools, as well.

It’s pretty clear that most businesses should have a Facebook page and a Twitter account. But when it comes to using some of the newer social media tools for your business, how do you pick a winner? You need to look at factors such as the take-up rate, how it integrates with other tools, and whether it offers something that is not only different, but hopefully useful, as well.

Google+ is one on the cusp (though, supported by and integrated with the raft of Google tools, it’s a pretty safe bet that it will be there for the long haul).

The location-based tool Foursquare, used by more than 15 million people who check in at locations and share their visits with friends, has had a lot of publicity and has attracted venture capital investment. But how important is it to people to become the ‘mayor’ of frequently visited spots? Are people using it mainly to make their friends jealous about where they can afford to go on a holiday?

A tool that I think ticks more of the boxes is Pinterest, an online pinboard service that, in the words of CBS Moneywatch, “attracts people who need to organize the chaos of Internet-age information overload.”

Pinterest describes itself as a social network meant to connect everyone in the world through the things that they find interesting.

The site lets you create and curate multiple pinboards in any category you can create, as well as following others’ pinboards. It falls somewhere between window shopping and actual collecting. You can log on through Twitter or Facebook, so you can tell your friends and customers about your boards.

At the same time, In contrast to Facebook, Pinterest pinners may end up choosing to follow people they don’t know purely based on the photos they curate, creating seemingly random new networks.

Read the full article on Smarter Business Ideas

26 April 2012

A digital native title dispute

By Ray Welling

In the competition between digital natives – Gen Y, which has grown up with online technology and digital immigrants – those of us who can remember typewriters and phones with cords attached – for primacy online, it seems that the digital natives have gained the upper hand.

Think Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook, and a billion dollar online empire by the time he reached his mid-20s) vs. Rupert Murdoch (MySpace, phone hacking scandals, declining dead tree media empire). Or Natalie Tran (24-year old Australian vlogger with 156,000 Twitter followers, more than 400 million YouTube views and a cozy career in the making) against say, Tony Abbott (50-something Australian politician with 56,000 Twitter followers but no YouTube channel).

If you read the media reports on what’s hot on the web, there appears to be a strong relationship between a lack of history and Internet success.

But it’s not that simple.

It can be useful to have a long-term view of the online world, which only a seasoned digital immigrant can have. If you can combine that with knowledge of traditional, pre-Internet business principles, you can look past current fads and build a business model that’s sustainable.

For example, the current obsession with whatever is the latest online application exploding in the public consciousness ignores the fragile nature of web success.

With all the current talk of community-building and developing personal relationships, you’d think the concept was invented by Facebook. Digital natives may be too young to remember, but digital immigrants will recall that when MySpace burst on the scene, it was seen as the long-term future of social media. That is, until Facebook came along.

Early digital immigrants can go back even further and remember GeoCities, an online community where people could create personal pages and create a following of fans, which was all the buzz way back in the 20th century.

And consider the power and ubiquity of the Google empire. It may be hard for digital natives to fathom a time pre-Google, but digital immigrants can remember when Yahoo! was seen as the impregnable leader in search (As an aside, it used its cash reserves to buy GeoCities back in 1999), a crown it took from the equally-invulnerable Alta Vista.

Read the full story on Smarter Business Ideas

22 March 2012

Sh*t My Dad Says: On Joining The Creative Economy

I’ve started a new gig, writing a column/blog for Smarter Business Ideas, a magazine and website for small businesses who use Telstra services. Here’s an excerpt from my first post:

When I was at high school, the adults in my life told me I could be anything I wanted when I grew up. By “anything”, they meant a doctor, a lawyer, a professor or a business tycoon.

Instead, I chose to go down a creative path and studied journalism. For this I blame Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman and their representations of crusading journos Woodward and Bernstein bringing down President Nixon.

After graduating from uni I spent months looking for a job, and ended up taking one as a technical writer for a management consulting firm – not at all what I had imagined to start my career, but at least I was using my writing skills.

Since then, I’ve had a series of creative and not-so-creative jobs, in a variety of industries, always related in some way to writing, and now I run my own consultancy. I’ve never regretted my career choice, but I sometimes reflect that life would have been easier if I’d just become a more traditional desk jockey in a more lucrative field.

Fast forward to 2012, and the sins of the father have been revisited upon the children. Both of my kids have just finished uni, with creative-type degrees, and they’re now trying to find a role that fits with their passion and what they’ve studied.

So from the perspective of someone who has worked in the creative space for a generation, what advice do I have for my Gen Y kids as they start their careers? In the spirit of “Sh*t My Dad Says” (but with less profanity), here are my words of wisdom:

• Regardless of what you read about successful people, a creative, stimulating job that starts at 9 a.m. and finishes at 5 p.m. is probably non-existent – at least I haven’t discovered it yet.

• Chances are you will feel caged in by a ‘normal’ job and will want do your own thing. But though you may hate working for The Man, it pays the bills….

Read the full story

20 September 2011

Jim Morrison and the importance of relevance

From my NETT blog:

What are the most important factors to consider when you’re communicating ideas to people? How do you get your message across successfully?

From my days as a journalist writing for newspapers and magazines through to my current work presenting digital marketing messages or lecturing to students, a few common themes have emerged in terms of what works consistently.

Actually, I exaggerate – there is really just one fundamental rule in successful communication: make your concept relevant to your target audience.

This is expressed as a couple of acronyms:

• WIFFM – what’s in it for me?
• WSIC – why should I care?

If you can understand what matters to your audience and work out how to relate your message to their concerns, you’ll get your point across.

This principle isn’t limited to written, visual or verbal communication messages: it extends to the communication of ideas, and can include the dissemination of those ideas through a variety of media.

Take music, for example. My favourite band of all time is the Doors, led by the late great Jim Morrison. The Doors tapped into the Zeitgeist of the 1960s with music that protested against traditional mores.

Their sometimes dark messages about love, fitting in and pushing back against parental barriers struck a chord with young Baby Boomers who were just starting to flex their muscles and question the structures of the world that they were inheriting.

Read the full story

22 August 2011

New wine, old bottles

From my NETT blog:

Despite working with new technology every day (or maybe because of it!), I like to collect old wares, and my idea of a good weekend includes some time spent trawling through antique and vintage shops.

A recent acquisition was a set of books on ‘modern business’ produced by the Alexander Hamilton Institute back in the 1950s. I was, of course, drawn to the volume on marketing. On leafing through it, I was surprised by how relevant much of the information still was, after nearly 60 years and several seismic shifts in marketing and selling.

Here are a few snippets from the book (with my annotations):

“Marketing concerns itself with all those business activities which begin in the producer’s shipping room and continue until the goods finally come to rest in the hands of the ultimate user.” (This is a timeless reminder as many people equate marketing with just the advertising and promotional aspects of the process. This broad spectrum definition is today even broader as digital and social media marketing extend the process past the delivery of goods and into an ongoing lifetime relationship with customers.)

“The satisfying of human wants depends to no small degree upon the personal and subjective wants and desires of individual consumers.” (This is increasingly relevant as we have moved from the age of mass marketing, which was gearing up when that book was written, to today’s trend toward mass customisation.)

“The basic law of marketing is the ‘law of convention and revolt’. A new mode of life may be created or established, but it will last only until a new style is introduced, often by quick substitution.” (When that was written they were talking about seasonal changes in fashion; now a style can go in and out with days. It’s not strictly a business marketing example, but how long did the planking craze take over public consciousness – was it a couple of weeks, or even less?)

Read the full story

16 August 2011

A healthy market opportunity

I was interviewed recently on the latest developments in digital pharma marketing. Here’s an excerpt of the story from the HotHouse blog:

The rise of digital in all its forms – Internet, mobile, social media, online video – has fuelled the shift from selling and marketing products to selling and marketing services, as consumers have replaced manufacturers at the centre of the marketing universe.

Everything from product development to promotion to post-purchase evaluation is today built around understanding and meeting customer needs.”

This is abundantly apparent in an area like healthcare. From a product-focused sector based solely on convincing doctors to prescribe medications based on scientific evidence (and a few educational dinners), drugmakers are building portfolios of services aimed at patients and doctors around their brands, helping healthcare professionals tackle issues like patient compliance and health education as direct promotion takes a back seat.

Big numbers

I discussed the implications of these trends with healthcare digital strategist (and HotHouse content producer) Ray Welling in this month’sHotHouse podcast. And while the growth of online generally as a medium and a marketing tool has been impressive, the numbers for healthcare are truly staggering.

Read the full story

16 August 2011

Feeding the beast without going broke

From my NETT blog:

I’ve written in this blog previously about the extra demands on your business time created by new technology. One of the biggest pressures is the pressure to publish.

Rebecca Lieb, former chief editor of ClickZ and head of information merchant Econsultancy in the US, said to me in an interview, “Brands are not just businesses; they’re now media companies.” As a result, she said, all businesses now have to think like an editor.

That means you need to stop viewing your marketing with a campaign mindset (with a beginning, middle and end) and adopt a long-term perpetual strategy.

Constantly changing content is a necessary feature of this approach. Your online presence – your website, your social media activities, etc. – is now, to use one of my favourite phrases, “the beast that must be fed”.

I make part of my living out of helping large organisations “feed the beast”, while some companies hire their own in-house team of writers and editors to produce search-friendly content for their various online outlets. But most small businesses don’t have a big budget (or any budget at all, in some cases) available to feed this hungry mouth. What can you do?

You need to work smart and plan how you will feed the beast effectively and efficiently. Thinking like an editor, you will want to develop an annual editorial calendar for creating new content for your site, as well as publishing regular features and “sticky stuff”, quirky things that keep people coming back to your site.

So what types of interesting content can a small business produce without breaking the bank? Here are a few examples..

Read the full article

28 July 2011

Target those who need you most

From my NETT blog:

Our politicians have shown they could learn a thing or two from small business when it comes to marketing their wares.

You can be the best at something, but if people don’t know about it, that fact won’t get you anywhere.

The federal election brought home for me the importance of positioning and promotion when you’re marketing your business. The shambolic campaign and aftermath showed that you can be running the only western economy to emerge unscathed from the global financial crisis, which should be enough to get you elected a saint, but if you can’t sell your accomplishments – and you let your competitors dictate the agenda – you will be severely spanked.

Policy waffling, backstabbing and leaks didn’t help, but history tells us that Australians give a neophyte government a second chance, even if it’s made mistakes. For the government to have so many runs on the board, the election should have been a walkover. To my mind, Labor’s biggest problems were a lack of firm positioning and an inability to sell itself to its customer base – uh, I mean the electorate.

These principles also apply to running a small business. It’s not enough to be the best-in-class for service, delivery, reliability, range or innovation; if your customers and potential customers don’t know it, you won’t survive.

The first step in this process is positioning. You need to work out what you’re best at; what your salient attribute or point of difference is, and why it’s meaningful to your customers. It’s only worth focusing on a defining attribute if:

  • It’s important and valued by your target market;
  • It’s distinctive and can’t be easily copied;
  • It’s superior – you do a better job of it than your competition;
  • It’s communicable – you can make it obvious to consumers.

That last point leads into the importance of promotion.

You need to be able to use both modern and traditional communication tools to let your customer base know exactly what your points of difference are, and this starts with making it easy for your customers to find you on the internet.

Read the full article.

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