So I’ve finally given in and opened a Twitter account. But I remain ambivalent. And many of my contacts, including some seasoned digital professionals, share my doubts - as do some high-profile commentators. Why am I bitter about Twitter? Here’s a handy bullet-point list of my issues with it.
As a copywriter, I dislike the telegraphic, SMS-like brevity of the Tweet, and the incomprehensible stuff that sometimes gets Tweeted. As a tired thirtysomething, I’m wearied by its jittery fragmentation and grating, self-conscious ‘Hey there!’ chirpiness. As an SEO, I resent its ‘nofollow’ links, particularly when LinkedIn (a PR7 site) grants me backlinks with editable anchor text. As a business person, I’m irritated by its founders’ arrogant ‘not for sale’ posturing, despite the manifest lack of a business model (unless we count making TV shows). And finally, as a human, I question whether we should be measuring our worth by all this virtual interaction.
‘Forget that,’ you say. ‘How can I make money from Twitter?’ Future ways to profit directly from Twitter might include charging for your content, pimping it out to third-party advertisers or using it to promote exclusive special offers. Indirectly, it’s all about getting yourself noticed, building credibility and educating potential customers about your offering, which should drive interest and therefore sales. For those who have a large base of users or contacts they need to keep updated, it’s indispensable. But for marketing, it remains to be seen whether you really do reach potential customers, or just other Twitterers who are looking to sell rather than buy, or to Tweet rather than read. For example, a survey reported in Marketing Week (print only) found that just six out of 2600 followers responded to a Tweet saying 'has anyone seen this tweet, please answer yes'. Is anyone listening? Even so, sheer weight of numbers means the risks of being left out outweigh the hassle of getting involved. But I still suspect that many businesses are just following (as it were), without being 100% sure why. And I include myself in that. Will Twitter itself make money? It’s a truth universally acknowledged that anyone with tons of users will cash in, and Twitter certainly is a big hitter. But a large user base is no guarantee – look at Facebook’s spiralling costs (storage alone is $100m pa), funding worries and struggles to generate clickthrough from its advertising. It's a victim of its own success: people visit Facebook to socialise, not to buy things. With 60% of Twitterers drifting away within a month, it could be a challenge to get advertisers to do more than fling some content at Twitter in hope rather than expectation. (Twitter Search could be part of the answer.) It all reminds me of that other flash-in-the-pan site that appeared a few years ago. Very plain interface, childish colours and a silly name - something like ‘Google’…
When it comes to information on websites, the old library model is tried and trusted. Everything’s arranged in some sort of hierarchy and you just drill down until you hit what you want (used to be oil, gold’s probably better these days). But a library’s kind of quiet – what if you want to share ideas and see what’s happening? And anyway, marketing – in fact, business of any kind – doesn’t often work in such a neat and tidy way. A small business may well see ‘advertising’ as a discrete marketing topic while an agency thinks in terms of integrated marcomms. So the Marketing Donut gives users a choice. There’s a library of drillable ‘topics’ (and a search function for the really abrupt). That’ll suit lots of visitors looking for advice on a specific aspect of marketing – they’ll quickly find the page they want, maybe take a peek at a few related resources, and that’s it. But there’s also a choice of broad ‘themes’ for users who want to get a bit more involved. We’re hoping they’ll appeal to people who are serious about marketing – our own experts, marketing specialists and owner-managers who know what’s important. (You can hide away doing admin and what have you for as long as you like, but let’s face it – marketing is what it’s all about.) Why themes? Probably not the right question to ask when we’re talking Marketing Donut but it’s a good excuse to link to my favourite theme tune. More to the point, what did we come up with?
Planning – all the stuff we know is really important that somehow keeps slipping down the to-do list .... Promotion – probably the first thing that springs to mind when you talk about marketing, everything from Advertising to reaching Zuppies (I found this on the CIM’s website but I think they just made it up). Selling – getting down and dirty at the coalface. Maximising – making the most of your existing customers: everyone’s always saying how vital they are, and how marketing to existing customers is much more cost-effective than chasing new leads, but it rarely seems to grab the same attention Start-up – everything marketing, but from the start-up angle; seriously practical and low cost marketing, not the place for jargon and theory.
See you there.
You could have the best product or service in the world at the best price delivered by the best people. But if no-one knows about it, your business will fail. That’s because success in any public enterprise isn’t just about doing things well. It’s about telling the right people what you do well in the right way and then proving it – whether ‘it’ is making sewing machine needles or selling herbal remedies for dogs. Once you have your customer’s trust, they will buy from you again and again. This is marketing, and it’s something we humans have been doing since we started trading bones for beads tens of thousands of years ago. Religion, of course, got the hang of it early and business has been playing catch-up ever since – but then, how can any product possibly compete with everlasting life? We can’t promise that the Marketing Donut will help you live forever. But we can promise that it will help you promote and sell your product or service more effectively. Actually, that’s a nailed-on certainty, because we have masses of useful information in our marketing strategy category. If you’re looking for the ABC of marketing strategy or a straightforward explanation of market segmentation, this is the place to find it. It deals with the fundamentals of marketing, such as planning, branding, pricing, product development and entering new markets. All this information is free, comprehensive and accessible. What’s more, it’s been prepared with the help of industry experts like David Thorp, head of research at the Chartered Institute of Marketing, Carrie Bendall, who heads up the Marketing with Zest small business marketing agency and Andrew Gerrard, MD of marketing and communications specialists InTouch. The Marketing Donut will not make you live forever. But it will help you sell more stuff. See for yourself on 20 April. Sold?
Here is a little taster of the video content you will be able to access on the Marketing Donut website from the 20th April. We are working with Your Business Channel to produce top quality informative content from experts across the UK. In this short clip from an interview with Tim Smit, he talks about how to build highly successful business relationships. Let us know what you think:
CLICK HERE TO PLAY VIDEO (opens in new window)
Tim Smit did something which many people said was impossible. He raised almost £100 million and then built the world's largest greenhouse in a huge hole in the ground.
The Netherlands-born British businessman is widely recognised as one of the most accomplished entrepreneurs in the UK. Educated as an archaeologist, Smit became heavily involved in the music industry before turning his focus to the Eden Project.
While many thought that Smit would run out of energy and money, and therefore fail, he led the charge do raise funding for the initiative, and then led the project to build three transparent biomes in an old china clay pit in the south of England. The biomes contain different eco-climates which represent climates found throughout the world. The Eden Project aims to educate people about environmental issues and engage them to do something about those issues.
If you have an idea which you want to turn into a reality, a challenge which you need to face or a business which you would like to grow, it would be worth your while taking a moment to listen to what Smit has to say.
Marketing? Isn’t that a huge area to tackle? Sure, but not if you break it down into bite-size chunks. So after getting to grips with advertising, we turned our thoughts to another vital topic, customer care.
We’re all customers and know that excellent customer care is something that makes a business stand out. In fact, customer care is at the heart of all successful companies as it can help you develop a loyal customer base and improve relationships with your customers.
Easy to say — but where do you start as a small business? On the Marketing Donut we explain — without the jargon — what customer care actually is and how to get a handle on it.
We outline the different areas that make up customer service and give suggestions on how to communicate with your customers, understand them, and improve your customer service and handling their complaints. Keep communicating with them so you can respond as their needs change and reward them for their loyalty which gives you the opportunity to sell more to them.
With the help of our high-profile experts, such as Derek Williams, initiator of the WOW Awards, and Darren Young of the Customer Service Network, we provide you with sound advice and various tools to crack this vital part of running a business.
Customer care sounds easy now, doesn’t it? Find out what you’re already doing right and where you can improve on 20 April, the launch date of the Marketing Donut.
When we set about commissioning the Marketing Donut, nine topics stood out as by far the most useful for small businesses:
exhibitions and events
We kicked off with creating the advertising section – a good ad puts the right marketing message in front of the right people at the right time. Which is vital, really, if you’re thinking about boosting your firm’s marketing.
The site explains, in plain English, why advertising can help a small business and how to get it right. But it can be expensive – so our experts explain how to get the best value from your ad campaign, including how to find out about your target customers and produce the specific, well-defined goals you need to make it work.
Many great experts have helped us along the way. For example, Tony Davidson, creator of the legendary Honda “Power of Dreams” campaign - but always, to me, the inventor of Flat Eric - shares his exclusive tips and tricks for small businesses on making great ads. And Simon Carbery, creative director at one of the world’s top agencies, Leo Burnett, explains how to brief a creative team to get the results you need.
Loads more great ad men and women have given their time to explain – exclusively to Donut readers – how to make the most of your advertising. Find out who on launch day 20 April – just click for world-beating quality advice (only thing missing - a cuddly Flat Eric).