Yes, I’m still here

Wow, it has been a long time between posts. To be honest, I’ve been using LinkedIn as a blogging platform because it’s so easy to share interesting and relevant articles. I will try and get back to more regular posting; in the meantime, check me out at .

The importance of a video content strategy

An interesting post from Shelley Bowen published on the Content Marketing Institute’s website today:

Video today is like desktop publishing was 15 years ago — everyone thinks they can do it,” a colleague said recently. And the fact is, anyone can create a video. A video worth watching? That’s a whole ‘nother story.

I recently wrote a one-minute video content script for a brand introduction video. It included voiceover, visual text, and descriptions of imagery for context.

I admit, I had more fun than I’ve had creating content in a long time. The voice, the rhythm, even the messages came fairly easily to me — the biggest challenge was to control the voice (I have a tendency to go overboard before drawing it all back to reality) and keep it down to one minute. And they loved it. Which always makes me super happy.

Yes, this kind of project can just as easily be a ROYAL pain in the you-know-what, with a lot of back-and-forth. Or result in something that’s not worth sharing. You know what made it work?

Content strategy!

So maybe that was obvious to you. But it isn’t always to companies that need content written or edited…

Read the full post

The hidden perils of self-promotion online

One of the most amusing (and at the same time sad) Twitter accounts I follow is@humblebrag. It retweets posts from Twitter users which are meant to be self-deprecating, but which actually scream “Aren’t I wonderful?” 

The posts range from thinly-veiled personal self-aggrandisement…
    “Stories are everywhere that I’m too thin. When will the media see women for their accomplishments instead of their weight and appearance?” 
    “If one more person asks to ‘take pictures of me’ I’m going to kill someone.” 
    “I gave my noodle store leftovers to a homeless lady and now I regret it so much” 
    “As if I didn’t feel uncomfortable enough, the ticket taker said ‘musclessss’ as I handed him my ticket” 

…to tweets painfully aimed at enhancing their corporate notoriety…

    “The president just called to say congrats. Caller ID was blocked, so at first I thought it was a telemarketer.” 
    “Way too much of my life is spent on airplanes.” 
    “Very humbled to be selected for TIME 100 this year! Had a nice evening at their gala, but their standards must be slipping now that they’re letting geeks like me in!” (This one was accompanied by a photo of a hipster-    ish man standing on the red carpet with his supermodel girlfriend) 
    “ARRRRRGH FML. Now I’ve got a justin bieber shoot i can’t do because i’m already shooting: what’s with these clashes? Grrr” 
    “Look, I know he invented the damn thing. But it freaks me out when I see Zuckerberg posts on my Facebook wall.” 
    “CNN interview went great! Once again, over-prepared but smarter for it I suppose.” 

There are plenty more where these came from – bring your sick bag! 

A little ego is fine, but the problem is, too many people think that ‘humble bragging’ is a good way to build a social media profile for their business. The existence of tongue in cheek satirists like @humblebrag shows that people don’t respond to that approach. It’s important to be authentic in your dealings with people, especially if you’re in small business. 

US marketing expert Jonathan Salem Baskin, who has just co-authored a book on the importance of truth in advertising and marketing (now there’s an oxymoron!), says that customers today are looking for truth from the companies they do business with. 

Read the full story at Smarter Business IdeasImage

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.

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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?)

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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

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..

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