03 November 2015

Why Successful Marketers Outsource Their Content Production

Technology, audience habits and our new attitude to money have changed how buying decisions are made. While consumers still respond to offers and deals, any significant purchase starts with online research.

Would you buy a car without test driving or at least going to see it? Well, 75% of decisions to buy a car start online, 99% end in face to face. In fact AutoTrader data shows we’ll spend over ten hours online choosing the right car.

The same applies to all major purchases, furniture, home improvements, holidays, mortgages and pensions. The principle applies to B2B purchasing decisions too.

It all adds up to the buyer being better informed and knowing the specification of their purchase before speaking to the firm that will supply it.

In online marketing terms, search, social media, websites, pay per click, remarketing and email all have a role to play in bringing that customer closer to buying from you. These are the channels through which someone interested in what you have, travels from curiosity to asking you a question in real life.

At the core of this process is content. Valuable, engaging and relevant content.

Without content, these channels are empty vessels that fail to fuel the knowledge driving your new customer’s decision-making. So you can see why take content creation is taken so seriously.

Content is personal. Compare a Dan Brown novel to one by Charlotte Bronte. The first is a page
turner (you can’t put it down), the second like sweet music. Well to me anyway.

To showcase what your business has to offer, content is created with a personality that resonates with your customers. So it is easy to see how Marketing Managers start the process internally. Surely your customer facing teams know exactly how to speak to your customers. Right?

Every company has a unique selling point. That thing you do best. Or your brand that is so clearly different from your competitors. Investing time on making sure you have this absolutely right is the core value of your head of marketing, not spending time crafting the content to represent it.

The awe I have always held for ad agencies is not their ability to create, but their inherent skill in understanding the value of what they are selling.

Hiring a team to produce your content allows you to deliver the best possible strategy and go to market approach. To test your view of the customer.
To carry out analysis of the gap between what you think the customer values and what they really value. To get to know your customers and articulate how they want to be sold to.

Invest your time in being absolutely clear about what your clients are searching for online and what they need to find in order to choose to buy from you.

Then leave the production of quality content to someone else. And let me emphasise that a little more. It is a production line. Not like an old Model T Ford. More like a precision Tesla X. Breathtakingly beautiful crafted outputs; consistently delivered on time and to budget. Leaving you the space to focus on the big stuff, like strategy and all the fires that need to be put out too.

There is an economic value to outsourced content production.

Yes, you have to budget for it. But consider the cost of a well produced and edited 90 second video at say £2,000. And the cost of providing your own filming facilities. Do you have an in house actor too and skilled script editor? And what about the post-production, mixing images, sound and music together? What will it cost to have all of those facilities?

The same applies for writing. Let’s say you hire a permanent writer. What does the recruitment process cost? If you recruit from an agency, you have fees too. Hiring from within means training costs. What do you pay them and how do you decide on a bonus?

You may also have someone earning a wage when they don’t have to produce content all of the time. Or worse still in my experience, the poor scribe that has to write about the same thing day in, day out. They eventually lose the sparkle, their creativity wains and then you’re just left with another pen pusher.

All this and we still haven’t touched on flexibility. What happens when you need lots produced at once and then long periods of nothing at all. How expensive do your in house resources look now?

That’s why successful marketers leave the how to the people with the skills and resources and focus on the what their customers want.

26 October 2015

Top 10 Tips On How To Keep Safe On Social Media

Social media is an ever evolving – the main sites are continually trying to enhance the user experience. Businesses use it to market their companies and connect with their customers. Individuals use it to connect to others and their favourite businesses. Like most things social networking was created to improve our lifestyle but also has its own side effects. In this case social networking has the ability to put you at risk if not used properly.

Many of my clients over the past 3 years have come to me with some considerable wariness about the loss of control of social media, and so they should. Its what we do.

Given all the distress I’ve seen about the Talk Talk identity theft situation over the weekend, I thought I’d share my thoughts on staying safe using social media.
It's longer than my normal posts, but it's important, so please take some time review and share with your colleagues.

1.     Have A Brilliant Password
Passwords were created to protect your personal account. Having a difficult password would do just that and make it hard for someone to hack into your account.
Are you using a simple password such as 123abc? Do you have your password written in multiple places? Or do your online accounts have unique and strong passwords?
If your current passwords are simple you don’t need to worry, you can always change them.
Heartbleed is a recently discovered Internet bug that has put a bright spotlight onto passwords. The bug caused most websites, even the most secure ones, to be vulnerable to hackers, potentially exposing user names and passwords for your online accounts. No matter how secure your passwords were, you need to change them for sites that were affected by Heartbleed.

2.     Don’t Share Personal Information
If you share your personal information such as your address and phone number on social media, you open yourself up to all sorts of issues.
It is very easy for someone to steal your identity and pretend to be you if they have access to your name, date of birth, place of residence and phone number.
Keep identification data off social media, except in secure fields where it is necessary to share it.

3.     Be Aware Of Fake Friends
As a business owner with a wide network of contacts, an unknown friend request can be a common occurrence. But before I accept any friend request from someone that isn't familiar, I do my best to verify the person's identity. 
If you have a business page on Facebook it’s more likely administered through your personal account, accepting an unknown person can put your business page in jeopardy.
Not all unknown friend requests are malicious; they may be from potential customers, people who are interested in your business or old friends. The easiest way to vet the person behind the friend request is to get in touch directly. Send the person a direct message, mention you don't recognize their name and politely request that they explain how they know you.

4.     Make Use Of The Security Settings
Online security is an essential safety measure for anyone using the web.
In 2012,  senior tech reporter Mat Honan lost more than a year's worth of pictures of his newborn daughter after his Google and Amazon accounts were hacked. Following the attacks Internet companies are increasingly moving toward two-step verification policies. The new verification policy requires a user to enter a security code in addition to a password when logging in from an unrecognized device. The security code is usually sent via text to a mobile device.
The “two-factor authentication," security measures in place. Both Facebook and Twitter has taken different directions when it came down to where the "two-factor authentication," will be on their site.

Facebook's version of two-step verification is login approvals. To enable Login Approval, go to Settings > Security > Login Approvals and enter your phone number. Once you've enabled the function, Facebook texts you a security code every time someone tries to access your account from an unknown browser.
Twitter  click the Gear icon in the top-right corner to access the Settings menu. Scroll down until you see "Account security" and check the box that says "Require a verification code when I sign in." Before you set up two-step verification on Twitter, you must confirm your email address and add a phone number to your account.

5.     Don’t Click On Unknown Links
The best security software can’t protect you from the headaches you’ll encounter if you click an unsafe link. Unsafe links are masked with normality using shortcuts to funny videos, shocking news stories, awesome deals, or “Like” buttons, but are really designed to steal your personal information or hijack your computer. They appear to be normal everyday links to the point that your friends can unknowingly pass on unsafe links in emails, Facebook posts, and instant messages.
You’ll also encounter unsafe links in website ads and search results. Sometimes a link masks the website to which it links. If you hover over a link without clicking it, you’ll notice the full URL of the link’s destination in a lower corner of your browser.

6.Educate Yourself
If you've been using media for as little as two hours, you have probably noticed that things change fast and without warning. No matter your reason for using social media, it's important that you continually educate yourself on social media.

Having some sort of education in social networking puts you ahead of the game and helps you tackle problems appropriately. Prevention is better than cure, have you also heard of that saying? Having a rough estimate of what could go wrong when networking is very handy because if it does happen to you it won’t be something new or unexplainable.

7.     Maintain A Good Reputation
Everyone strives to stand out online but there are two ways this could happen ether with a good reputation or a bad reputation. The Internet doesn't censor your life or filter out items you don't want other people to see.  If a client enters your name into Google, the search engine will deliver the most relevant results.
Be proactive in guarding your privacy and your reputation. This process can be time-consuming, but dedicating time every week to finding and removing dubious content is well worth the effort. For example, if you’re tagged in an questionable photo on Facebook, you can remove the tag yourself. If for any reason you can't remove the tag, nicely ask your friend to do it.
Joining professional sites, such as LinkedIn, create a business fan page on Facebook and write a blog. You can connect all of them together through links and favourites lists.

8.     Signs Your Account Has Been Hacked
You may not know for sure if your account was hacked, especially if this is something you haven’t seen or experienced yet, but there are tell-tale signs of a hacked account. Here are few indications to keep an eye out for:
  • Unexpected posts from your account
  • Unexpected private messages sent from your account
  • Unexpected email notification from the site stating that you recently made changes to your account
  • Other behaviours you didn’t make or approve (liking, friending, following, unfollowing, or blocking, for example)
Keep in mind that unexpected posts can sometimes happen due to a new app you’ve installed, which you’ve given permission to post to your account. 

9.     Know What Action To Take If Your Account Was Hacked
If you notice that your account has been intruded, there are a few things you’ll need to do:
  • Scan your computer for malware
  • If you find malware, remove it and follow procedures for recovering from identity theft
  • Change your password on the hacked site
  • Revoke permissions for any third-party apps and services
  • Change your password on any other sites where you used the same username and password
  • Report any spam or scams that have been sent out from your account to the social networking site, so they can help stop it from spreading
  • Notify friends and family (especially if the hack was due to malware, or unexpected messages or posts include potentially-malicious links)
  • If you cannot follow any of these steps because your account details have been changed, you will need to contact support for the website that provides your account so that you can regain control
10.  Know What To Post
Have you had to scrap something together, but felt you were not being creative or original, and your posts received no response from followers? You don’t need to worry, you’re not alone. This is a common problem for social media managers and anyone else who needs to tackle day-to-day social marketing. If someone tells you to “just post something” or “do social media,” you may find yourself wondering what to do.
It can be very tempting to post anything that comes into your mind. It might seem like a good idea but it isn’t always. You’re entitled to your own opinion but do it in moderation and with caution. Don’t post something your mother or youngest child wouldn’t find pleasant.
Posting things like “I hate my job,” isn’t good in many ways.  Even if you do hate your job, keep it to yourself and your family or close friends. Don't tell the world, because the wrong person is probably going to see your post, it could be your employer, client or co-worker.

Remember you have a reputation to keep. I hope you have find this tips helpful. 

12 December 2012

How organisations can manage change in their staff’s subconscious

Most of my 20 year marketing career has involved managing change. In fact, I would go as far as to say that understanding change has been more important to my career than learning marketing theory.

Change means new processes, new metrics, different organisation structures, ground breaking technology, outsourcing part of the value chain and focusing on different customers or customer needs. Ultimately, change means we need people in our organisations to do different tasks (or tasks differently) because we are being forced to or because it will lead to greater success.

Every major marketing initiative from my first ecommerce website, through implement an automated dialler, several CRM solutions, social media and analytics right up until the IPad applications that I have launched have relied more on managing change than marketing. And not just technology based marketing projects, rebranding, putting customer insight at the heart of planning, establishing lead generation campaigns, all require major change management.

Of course customer insight is part of these developments DNA, but the initiatives success is comes from managing the change effectively. 

So we educate, explain, make time for stakeholders to question, we are open to shape the change by those most impacted. We produce robust documentation, governance and risk management. All of these ingredients are baked into most organisations change or project management processes.

Yet what nearly all firms ignore is that our behaviours are driven by our values and capabilities, and they live in our subconscious. Organisations rationalise change, just as they do redundancy. They say ‘it’s not you being made redundant, it’s your role.’ Which of course rationally is true, so why does it feel like bereavement to the majority of people affected. Because our subconscious has developed values and capabilities that have always worked for us and no matter how much we try to rationalise at a conscious level, our subconscious holds these values to be true.

So how do organisations manage change at the level of their staff’s subconscious?

Firstly they must recognise that continuous change is the reality of their business.

Secondly, they must ensure that change management is monitored among their leadership as a core skill on which promotion is predicated on demonstrating it.

Finally, and most importantly, they stop looking at branding, staff engagement, culture and their stated values as nice to haves, but essential to the firm's survival. They stop talking about these pillars of successful change management as fluffy, but hard edged measures that will ensure the sustainability of the business models to deliver shareholder value.

Change comes everyday, anyone that says otherwise is a kidding themselves. Any business that doesn’t embrace it is on borrowed time.

13 November 2012

The most fundamental role of social media for B2B is listening

Business marketers increasingly understand the value of a content led marketing strategy.

Engaging current and potential clients through thoughtful and useful content is now more powerful than any other form of marketing for establishing and growing sustainable commercial relationships.

I have found that an effective content strategy needs a clear picture of what content to publish where and when – and that’s needs insight. 

In my recent webinar for BrightTalk I spoke about two important activities for extracting that insight from social media, reporting and analysis.

Reporting is a regular time based activity – setting out volume data what topics, users, channels are most active?

Analysis goes beyond reporting, helping you to become conscious of the conversations about your brand that your organisation is currently unconscious of. An essential part of social media for enterprises; its power is going to help organisations that master gain a real and tangible competitive advantage in the 21st century.

I hope you find this rerun of my 8th November 2012 webinar useful. I love hearing your views on how to effectively collect insight to drive a B2B content strategy, please comment here or through Linked In.