I was pretty despondent when I walked through the door of my parents' home. I was 17 years old and had just had my first driving lesson. I thought driving was going to be a breeze; but inevitably I had stalled the car and made the multitude of mistakes most people do the first time they get behind the wheel.
As I passed my Dad on the stairs he asked, "What's wrong?".
"Do you think I will ever be able to learn to drive?" I murmured.
He quickly responded, "Have you seen all the idiots on the road?"
Of course, that was my father's way of saying "yes".
I meet company directors all the time who tell me they don't understand social media. They don't use Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter and wouldn't know where to start. I always want to use my father's quote, "Have you seen all the idiots on Facebook?"
Facebook is used by 1.3 billion people a month. It is designed to be user friendly. It is not elitist and it's not that difficult. Anyone who gives themselves some time on any of these platforms will quickly master the basics. Moreover, there are a plethora of online articles and videos that can help if you're stuck on a particular task.
Social media doesn't go wrong because people don't understand a particular aspect of functionality on LinkedIn or Twitter. Social media doesn't work for businesses and individuals because they don't understand the mindset shift that has to happen to make it work. Social platforms are very different from broadcast media. To put it simply, social media is not a platform; it is a mindset, a way of thinking, a state of mind.
The mind-shift is simple to explain and yet I am often surprised at how difficult people find the change of thinking. Quite simply, broadcast media was about "me". I would talk about my company, what we could offer, the benefits we gave and so on. This worked when the audience had no right of reply. In a world where there was scarcity of choice and information, audiences would allow themselves to be interrupted by messages they would not necessarily be able to access in any other way.
Social media, however, is not broadcast. It is a two-way communication. Audiences don't merely have the right of reply, rather your business is communicating in their channel. Social media platforms are the primary communication tool of choice for a growing number of individuals. Rather than pick up the phone, many individuals will prefer to send a Facebook message. Therefore, when a company communicates on social platforms, it is in its customer's space. This, of course, is what makes the channel so potentially powerful. It is also why it can go badly wrong.
To make social media work, you have to make your customers the heroes. This normally means allowing your customers to get involved and participate – by encouraging social sharing and feedback.
However, the more you can allow your customers to be involved, the more effective your social media will become. Great examples are Walkers Crisps encouraging customers to come up with a new flavour, JetBlue asking customers to share the story of their flight or Heinz asking its customers which bean they are.
These companies understand the importance of the narrative. Stories are what we tell each other. Stories are how we learn. Whether we obtain the story via word of mouth, books, TV or films, it is stories that have been capturing our imagination since the beginning of time. Before you unleash your communications on the world, ask yourself, "what is your narrative?". What is the story behind what you are doing or the story you are trying to tell? Is it compelling? Could it be improved?
Once you have the story, then you need to work out how the audience can take a central role in the story. If the audience are the heroes they will want to get involved and share the communication with others. And that is ultimately how your social media will be successful.
I don't mean going "viral", which is one of the most overused marketing terms; I'm talking about "social sharing". It only takes a small percentage of any audience to share your communications in order for you to reach a relevant group of potential new customers in the most credible way. After all, it is not you saying how good you are, but a trusted friend or colleague. Rinse and repeat this process on a weekly or monthly basis and that is a lot of potential reach over the course of a year.
Social media is not about the platform. That is merely the outlet for the communication. Social media is about great narratives where your audience takes the central role. David Bowie famously sang: "we can be heroes, just for one day". If you can make your audience the heroes, then your social media might just work.
When it comes to marketing, it's tempting to think that successful small businesses know something that you don't; they have discovered that one elusive marketing miracle at the end of the rainbow.
But the truth is there's no such thing as a marketing miracle. Or at least that's my experience having worked with hundreds of small businesses in the past 31 years.
What I've found is that the businesses that get it right with their marketing and as a result that reap the rewards with sales galore, are doing these 13 things consistently:
And of course it goes without saying they love what they do.
Copyright © 2015 Dee Blick, Fellow of The Chartered Institute of Marketing and an Amazon #1 bestselling author of The Ultimate Small Business Marketing Book and The 15 Essential Marketing Masterclasses for your Small Business.
Do you love giving presentations? I thought not; most people don't.
Here are four simple techniques that boost two key things - your confidence and your chances of success. They are:
They're easy to remember - the initial letters spell FLIP.
How you start sets the tone for everything. Have a great first sentence and your next ones will probably go well. Have a shaky opener and it will impact on the rest.
So, practise your start. A lot. As a simple guide: spend 20% of your preparation time on the first 2% of your presentation.
And don't just practise it in your head. Say it out loud. Go to the venue beforehand and say it there… anything that ensures you're good on the day.
Another important element of your first impression is your title. It's going to be hard to wow a room if your presentation's called "Q2 update". It's much easier if it's called "Three things our competitors can never do".
Doing all this will take about 10-15 minutes. Not a lot when you think about the huge impact it will have on your audience.
Good links between slides give your presentation flow and pace. But most presenters don't consider how to link slides together. Often, they use the next slide to prompt them. But if you can see the slide, so can your audience. So they know what you're about to say.
It is well worth scripting how you'll go from one slide to the next. Then say it before you click on the next slide.
Here's an example: slide 8 discusses finances; slide 9 covers messages. So, after covering slide 8's content but while that slide is still showing, you'd say: "So, as you can see, the finances are strong. Let's now see how we'll achieve these numbers, through better messaging."
And then you'd click to bring up slide 9.
Again, it doesn't take long to script your links. So it's minimal work for a great return.
Audiences prefer to be involved in some way - it's much better for them than just sitting, watching and listening for hours. So get them involved. Options include:
Audiences like presenters who show passion. And they switch off from those who don't have it. So find your passion. And make sure it comes out in your presentation. You should feel passionate about at least one of these:
So try using FLIP next time you're presenting. As long as each of the FLIPs are there, you've a great chance of impressing your audience.
Copyright © 2015 Andy Bounds, communications expert, speaker and the author of The Snowball Effect: Communication Techniques to Make You Unstoppable. You can sign up for his free weekly tips.
When it comes to content marketing, do you have a plan? One that you stick to? Or is your approach to content creation somewhat haphazard? If it is, you could be missing out. You might be getting by, but your content habits could be a lot healthier - and more effective - as a result.
The latest research by the Content Marketing Institute here in the UK suggests that whilst 85% of respondents use content marketing only 42% say they are using it effectively. But 71% of those who do have a content strategy report that they are effective.
A content strategy is your recipe for content marketing success but many people have no idea how to create one. Here's our ten-step guide to help you cook up a sizzling content strategy.
There's no doubt about it, marketers who take time to plan their content strategy are more effective than those who don't. If you want to drive real competitive advantage do the hard thinking and write your content strategy down.
Copyright © 2015 Sonja Jefferson is an expert contributor to Marketing Donut and content marketing consultant at Valuable Content. Sonja is co-author, with Sharon Tanton, of Valuable Content Marketing.
Sugru is a business I've admired for some time - it's a great product, but it's not that easy to explain without having a go. So I've always found their marketing and the way they position themselves very interesting.
Then I met Linda at an event and discovered that the more techy-side of their marketing was equally interesting. When I started my podcast I knew I wanted to feature Linda early-on.
In the podcast we cover many eCommerce topics, including:
and much more.
I hope you enjoy listening as much I enjoyed recording it.
Just when you think you’ve got your head around social media, along comes something new to add to the marketing mix.
In fact, there have been a number of new social media platforms coming to the fore in the past year. Embraced by the younger generation - who can spot cooler alternatives to Facebook when they see it - new platforms like Snapchat, Vine and Instagram have really taken off.
Now we have Meerkat and Periscope, two live video streaming apps that have been launched in quick succession (and in competition with each other). You may not have heard of these new apps or have any experience of actually using them, but what they have in common is native video.
Let’s focus for a minute on the safe ground that is Facebook. How many video clips do you see in your news feed? I’m guessing quite a lot - either clips of family life uploaded by friends, compilations of cats doing silly things, or live video streams from the brands or business pages that you have Liked and followed. All of these examples are native video.
And they are "native" because the video is uploaded or created directly on that social network and accessed via that network without being redirected to another site such as YouTube.
Video now accounts for almost 80% of all web traffic. And native video seems set to absolutely sky rocket, especially when you take into account the fact that video views on tablets and smartphones more than doubled last year alone.
Social media apps such as Periscope and Meerkat have now made live streaming video content incredibly accessible, and it opens up all kinds of new marketing avenues.
So Twitter is no longer just about choosing your words carefully, you can now publish video content of up to 30 seconds in length using Periscope. And Meerkat enables users to stream video directly on Facebook.
In short, video is big news; there are some three billion video views a day on Facebook alone, according to some estimates.
Savvy businesses are now adopting native video into their marketing strategies. Big brands and small firms alike have recognised that the potential of live video streaming goes way beyond cute cats and dippy dogs; it's a powerful marketing tool that offers a new way of directly engaging with their target audience - without expecting them to shift their attention from one online environment to another.
Copyright © 2015 Sarah Orchard