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This may seem an unusual subject to be chosen by someone who works in Online PR but I though it important to address it nonetheless. As we have seen over the last year the world of social media has exploded impacting personal lives as well as businesses. An online campaign can be very valuable asset to small business owners but not at the detriment of 'good old-fashioned' phone conversation, meeting or event.
Even before social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook businesses were heavily reliant on email. However, wherever possible the personal touch of meeting someone face-to-face can make all the difference. Organising some sort of event is still a good way of engaging customers to your product. While using social media and internet tools can be a useful cost-effective method to reach large numbers of people; meeting people face-to-face means you can understand them on a more interpersonal level.
It can be all to easy to set up business online strategies and get so sidetracked that you lose perspective. This is especially difficult with the mass of information online and the distraction it can create. The ideal scenario is create a strategy that retains some perspective and mixes online with conventional business methods to give you the best of both worlds. How you mix these will depend on your particular business and your campaign objectives.
There’s been a lot of discussion about “business networking” versus “personal networking” in social media for quite some time. This is something that a lot of people feel strongly about - particularly where a community has developed with one ethos and then someone joins and starts communicating with quite different intentions.
So how do you know where to draw the line? When does your networking stop being social, and start being a sales pitch? Is it really that clear-cut? Does it need to be? What's best for your business?
In Dan Schawbel’s latest book he explores the idea of personal branding and explains how businesses can truly succeed when they realise the importance of using social media to market their business. Sometimes, as simple a change as using a real person in a profile picture (rather than the brand's logo) or using a real name (rather than a business name) can make all the difference to the response you will get online. As social media is increasingly being used by businesses, the need for real connections and a ‘human touch’ is meaning that ignoring the social element of social networking is hurting companies’ online presence.
Schawbel’s take on personal branding is quite simple really: if you give people a reason to be interested, show a bit of personality and engage in a real, genuine relationship online, people will tend to meet you half way – and business opportunities will start to come to you.
Penny Power who founded online business network Ecademy.com well over 10 years ago reinforces Schawbel's recommendations in her many interviews on yourBusinessChannel. In the interview below, Power urges that you need to be a "magnet" within the community, and that making your intentions clear will be critical to your success.
Putting more time into asking questions and attracting like-minded contacts will mean that the connections you make will be truly valuable further down the track. Companies who encourage their employees to build online networks intelligently can see some radical improvements to the opportunities which come their way.
To read a more about Schawbel’s latest book, take a look at an interview with David Meerman Scott here.
As with most things, I came to the party late, but I’m delighted I finally got a TomTom. It was a Christmas present, but I should have got one years ago. It’s made my life so much better. In-car arguments with my better half have slumped to an all-time low, my time-keeping’s improved and I now get to where I want to go much quicker because I don’t make so many mistakes. And even on the odd occasion I take the wrong road, immediately John Cleese (well, his voice, at least), tells me how to how get back on track. TomToms and marketing plans are remarkably similar… I suppose I’ve always been hopeless at directions. Before I got the TomTom, for years I relied on trying to follow road signs. Most of the time I ended up stopping to ask directions (which I often forgot just seconds later). I’m just as useless as a passenger. My inability to interpret maps is legendary. Putting a location or postcode into a TomTom is similar to having marketing objectives. If you don’t know where you’re trying to get to, you’ll never get there. While a TomTom plans your route automatically by assessing the road network and finding the best route between A and B, when developing a marketing strategy, you must assess your market and plan your own journey. Before I set off in my car, now I can look at my TomTom to see which roads I’ll take at different stages (I’ve learnt many shortcuts as a result). A marketing plan also contains important milestones by which a business must have achieved a specific target before the next can be tackled. And where a TomTom automatically lets you know what to do when you’ve take the wrong road, referring back to a marketing plan can also enable you to keep your business heading in the right direction at the desired speed. Only then can you get to where you want to go, when you want to be there. The businesses that succeed are the ones that plan. The Marketing Donut has many resources that will help you with planning and various other aspects of marketing your business. Our forum allows you to share knowledge and experiences with other businesses. You can also learn from our experts’ latest posts and other content. The old saying remains true. Planning without action is futile, while action without planning is fatal. Let’s be thankful for marketing plans – and TomToms.
Have you ever noticed how it’s often the controversial blog posts which spread like wildfire online?
Recently, I stumbled accross a blogger Lisa Borone who wrote a post entitled - “it’s not the recession, you just suck!”. As the title suggests, this is the kind of blog which is straight-talking, non-apologetic and hugely opinionated. It's her specially crafted wake up call for those suffering from the recession.
“... For the past few months you’ve had an excuse for when life didn’t go your way. Every time you borked something that you were maybe never qualified to do in the first place, you had THE perfect excuse just waiting to be pulled out. It was like the economy dug its own hole just so it could bail you out in your time of need. W00t!
You couldn’t pay your mortgage and your house was foreclosed on? Don’t worry, it wasn’t you, it was the recession. You lost your job and now you’re stuck at home cruising Twitter ‘looking for a new one’ all day? Don’t fret. It wasn’t you, it’s the recession. Can’t find new clients so you’re left bitterly blogging that clients suck and the frauds in the industry are stealing your dollars? Calm down, pretty, have a cookie and take a nap. It’s the recession.
Actually, it’s probably not the recession. It’s probably you.”
As mainstream media continues to talk about the recession, to forecast the loss of jobs and analyse why and how businesses are failing, there comes a point when we need to make a choice. That choice is quite simple - we can choose to listen, tolerate and be absorbed by this discussion. Or, quite simply, we can choose to switch off the flow of woe, front up and get on with it. And this is what the blogger in questions suggests you do.
What's interesting about Lisa's post is that as well as being hard-hitting and blunt (probably a little too blunt for some), she does actually offer words of advice: a list of actions/steps you should take to weather the recession, and get ahead. So she achieves an interesting balance by having a strong and clear opinion, and offering some solid advice to those who want it.
If her aim was to get lots of attention, it worked. At the time of writing this post (about her post - oh how circular!), 130 people had commented on her article. Now that's a discussion! Read the article in full here.
So, what are you going to do to generate discussion?
The release of a CD entitled ‘The best rock album in the world... ever!’ (and others) highlighted a useful fact: superlatives are unprovable.
I don’t believe the title of this post, and neither do you. But someone might. So is it true or not? It refers to quality, and quality is completely subjective. Subjectivity and ambiguity are the copywriter’s friends: they let you make big, eye-catching claims, safe in the knowledge that they can’t be proved or disproved.
Suppose you start describing your firm as a ‘leading local widget maker’. Let’s unpack your claim:
If you’re unsure about your claim, you could introduce an attribution like ‘regarded as’, e.g. ‘now regarded as the leading London copywriter’. This means nothing (who’s doing the ‘regarding’, and what do they know?) but still plants the idea of ‘bestness’ in the reader’s mind.
Carlsberg’s addition of ‘probably’ to ‘the best lager in the world’ allowed them to float an outrageous claim (‘best in world’) without actually making it. The best copywriting in the world… ever?
The planet is dying. As much as we might want to disagree, too much scientific evidence points in that direction. If we carry on as we are, we'll have sucked planet earth up and spat it out; not a nice legacy for the grandchildren. So how do you reconcile saving the planet with participating in what has historically been one of the most wasteful marketing activities, exhibitions? Now it's easier than ever.
When it comes to planning your participation at an event, don't just consider how much it's going to cost in terms of time and money today, in every way think about the long term. Plan over the next 3 years and appoint your contractors accordingly. Think about the materials that go into building your stand. Modular stands have generally been seen as uninspiring; reserved for shell scheme or pop ups. But modular is the key to sustainability. Your chosen contractor will have the system in stock, most are made from aluminium which is recyclable and with good design and innovative thinking, they can be dressed to provide a unique platform from which to sell. You can even choose a hybrid.
If you ask a contractor to store a product made from wood, they'll generally say that it's cheaper to build from new once you've factored in the refurbishment and storage costs. Ask them to store a modular stand and the reply will be totally different. It's stock, it breaks down into small pieces and easily fits back on the shelf. And the second biggest advantage to using modular, after the benefits to the environment? It can be far more cost effective, especially if you plan your exhibition activity over a longer term basis. Your stand size and requirements might change but because it's modular, new pieces can be added to fit the new brief.
So, save the world and some money, commission a modular stand!!