Today is one of those days. Not because I feel particularly inspired to share how I am feeling, but as I am sitting here on a Sunday, enjoying the Spring breezes through my balcony opening, I thought I would share with you something that a former Monk shared with 800 people at a conference I attended in Istanbul.
Life on earth is limited.It is. We may live to be 80 and if we are really lucky, 100, but most probably, we will die before then. Therefore, we have only ourselves to blame for not making the most of what life has to offer us.
Prioritize things and people that are most important in life
"Who am I to say I want you back? When you were never mine to give away."
The lyrics that accompanies the promotional video reinforces the company's positioning. Having sold for US$580 million to News Corporation in 2005, the 9 year old business (founded in 2003) has reinvented itself which what can only be described as a "beautiful" looking website. Aesthetically, it has WINNER all over it, but the proof will be in how they not only attract their followers but keep them.
Scoring Justin Timberlake, an early investor into the comeback is of course clever marketing because after all, he is the "comeback king" and is considered one of the coolest and sexiest people on the planet. If brand association is anything to go by, the public should be in for something very special.
What do you think?
That’s right: there are the haters and then there are the DM lovers. Some are the in-betweeners (no reference to the teen TV show). Whatever it is, as a small business you need to know where DM stands in the digital age of 2011.
In his book, The Complete Guide to Direct Marketing, Chet Meisner refers to an Orlando newspaper which ran a hateful story about direct marketers. The headline was “Spammers, Telemarketers Share Secrets in Orlando”. According to the story, direct marketers were “making way too much money to stop the suppertime phone calls and endless emails.”
And addiction it is. Think about how long you can go without 'Googling' something or saying the world "Google". Try going a week. I have. It's impossible!
It's hard to imagine what life was like without Google?
Most marketers, let alone small business owners, are struggling to keep abreast of the new developments in technology, buzz words, Google algorithm changes, content trends and more. Why? Innovation has been put on steriods and every technology guru is hoping to become the next Mark Zuckerberg and bank a few billion or at the very least, get their faces on the cover of Forbes.
There is good news though for those who feel the pressure to keep up. Sometimes staying one step behind allows you to better focus on what is important to your business and gives you time to evaluate a particular marketing mediums worth. Always ensure that you sign up for new marketing mediums that mean cementing your brand's name on that platform (otherwise, your competitor will grab it or some smug 14 year old sitting in the attic, laughing all the way to the bank).
Capturing what is best for your small business is often just trial and error.
For instance, is Google + setting your marketing strategy alight? Maybe in the US it is, but in Australia, there are 10 more meaningful mediums to invest time and money into to achieve a better result.
In the US, trends in technology and marketing as a whole, tend to be far more faster on the uptake. There is a reason for this. Americans want everything now, not yesterday and they don't want to be the last cab off the rank.
Instead, they feverishly sign up for new social media platforms that tend to be driven by media and/or their friends uptake of that medium. Word of mouth is very powerful and can alluminate the whole process and if you couple this with "sharing" tools, you may hit a jackpot.
Marketing strategies are an imperative part of any business. Without it, small businesses are setting themselves up to fail. When 1 in 5 businesses fail in the first 5 years, it always comes down to a few reasons and marketing is one of them.
The problem with marketers is that they spend so much time doing their jobs, they forget why they are there in the first place. Keeping abreast of marketing trends is the only way to determine the best strategy to connect with customers. If you look at what seems like old fashion "direct mail" and the power of intergrating social media, emarketing, monitoring tools and advertising - its plain to see how much more effective a campaign can now be.
Marketers who fail to use social media tools that combine all social media platforms to build, engage and measure the impact and results from social media is now a must-have in any marketing department - yet, I took the liberty of ringing 20 people yesterday about what system they use and all of them said "none". Scary when you think of it. Shoutlet is our preferred medium, but there is so many to choose from and most have their individual merits. For the record; Shoutlet allows you to include multiple accounts and provides platform support, social CRM and ecommerce for facebook, email marketing and mobile.
If you are a small business owner and your marketing strategy looks a lot like the one you did 3 years ago, throw it in the bin. Start again. Not only will you save money, you will improve efficiencies and sales results.
Ensure that every marketing strategy centralizes around "content" and how social media in both B2B and B2C environments drives search engine optimization and client engagement.
I received a large parcel from a company called Cygnett. They are a global accessories company for ipads and iphones but they don't just sell accessories, they sell style.
You can go and buy the substandard iphone or ipad cover from your local telco store or at the airport, but they are just that.
During the week, I had a conversation with another provider for one of our clients. They are basically graphic designers who have done the odd website development. From my conversations with them, I am almost certain that the website developer is either a freelancer or a graphic designer who has learned to use Wordpress. There are some things that are really obvious in the work they have just completed.
The website is terrible. It does have pretty pictures, but that it! No real strategy has gone into the websites development. The home page is as long as any scroll you have ever seen - literally, right down to the floor. It is full of blank space and menu buttons that should not be on the home page let alone part of the main section of the website.
They seem to be capable graphic designers althought their understanding of brand is reasonably limited - but that is not the end of the world. A marketer can always fix this problem.
But the website is a deal breaker. Worse than that, they now proclaim to be experts in online "communications" strategies to the point whereby they think that our mutual client should not be engaging in any meaningful social media communications. "No-one is going to buy their services because they are on social media".
Is this company sitting under a rock! I know they are in a regional area of Australia - but seriously, where have they been hiding?
Every marketing strategy needs to first look at who the target audience is and understand what makes them tick and how they can integrate areas of marketing to enhance direct communication in a meaningful way.
In today's environment, no marketing strategy can survive without being fully integrated and no matter what business you have, it needs to be online and visible to your target audience and influencers in some shape or form - otherwise, you won't survive.
When I look at an online strategy, the first thing I do is look at the customer.
Then I take a look at where our clients will find them and how they will find our clients.
From a tactical perspective, many clients want things like 100,000 people clicking onto their site every month or more Twitter followers, more fans on facebook and so on. The reality is that the numbers mean nothing and any marketer knows this.
You can BUY followers on any of these platforms and have 50k people following you on Twitter in a matter of weeks, but none of them are going to buy from you or go to your website and spend time viewing what you have to offer.
They are fake. Not real. Worthless. Cost money with no real return on investment other than some short term ego feeding.
Meaningful engagement with followers, fans and people coming to your website may mean fewer numbers on your marketing strategy, but more sales and bigger profits.
Specific goals for your social media plan need to be actionable, and achievable.
- Creating a buzz around your brand: product or service
- Walk people through what you have to offer, so should they need your product or service, they know where to find it
- Engage your social media followers in meaningful conversations that lead to inquiries, sales, referrals and word of mouth conversation
- Gain market share through providing a better customer experience and interaction via social media networks
- Generate leads
For those who are still not keen on social media in the business to business environment, consider the facts:
- Facebook has more than 955 million users with a majority between 18-25; 60 percent of which are female.
- Twitter has more than 555 million users with a majority between 26-34; 57 percent female. Communicate in real time and get the news faster than any other medium.
- LinkedIn is the number one social media tool for business to business marketing with more than 150 million users. Majority between 26-34, directly followed by 35-44.
Creating meaningful content is key. At Marketing Eye, we find a good mixture of blogs that relate to business, marketing and life, ensure that our followers and fans are engaged and want to communicate with us through our many social media mediums.
Remember: Each business is different. You do not need to be like the business next door to you. You should do what works for you and the people you are engaging with. Don't focus on the numbers. Keep track of how much interaction you are having with people on social media and where they are landing on your website or what type of interaction you are having with them.
People were pushing each other and bumping their bags and briefcases into the person beside them, concerned that they would lose their position in line. You know how it is when everyone wants to get to the front of a line, and there is always some person who rudely is pushing their way to the top with no regard to anyone else.
This kind of aggressive behavior reminds me of a football scrum, although I have never actually been in one.
My handbag felt heavier than normal and my shoulder was feeling fatigue from holding my bag for so long filled with books, sunglasses, purse, makeup and anything else that I had chosen to throw in there during the day.
My muscles were tightening around my neck and my eyes felt as though a lemon had sprayed the corner.
I was exhausted, yet I had to wait in line like everyone else for the powers to be to let us on the plane.
"Excuse me, excuse me." I heard a lady in the background politely mumble.
"Excuse me, excuse me." I heard it again and again as the sound got closer and closer.
Finally, the person was right beside me.
A Qantas attendant was assisting a very good looking man in his early 40's get through the crowd. As I looked down and moved aside simultaneously, I noticed a stick. The man was blind.
It stopped me in my tracks.
Here I was complaining to myself about how tired I was, how Qantas once again had let me down, how my back ached and my throat was dry - and here was a man that couldn't see two feet in front of him.
I've learnt over the years, that I shouldn't feel pity for someone in this situation. He sure doesn't want me to. Instead, I felt respect for the way this person who I don't know and most probably will never know, sees the world - not through their eyes, but through their other senses; listening, felling and smelling.
I've always thought that being blind would be the worse disability of all. To wake up and not see the sun rise, a child being born, the waves crashing on the rocks or someone smile, would mean that you would miss out on so much. I, like most people, do not spend enough time appreciating what we have, rather than what we have not.
Life can throw us many curve balls, but sometimes its good to just sit down by yourself and appreciate how good life really is and how lucky we all are.
When asked the questions about my business and marketing in general, I found it really easy to communicate the good, the bad and the ugly experiences I have had over time.
Starting a business at 25 is quite naive really, unless of course it is a technology company or perhaps a restaurant. When you think about the industry of marketing consultancy, people pay for experience. They want to know that the person who is managing their marketing needs actually has experience in marketing and hopefully has a few successes and failures under their belt. The latter being the most important because that's where you learn your real lessons.
I made so many mistakes particularly in my first 5 years of owning a business. I had learnt from "old school" leaders who were more like dictators and less receptive to a caring and nurturing work environment. Back then, you either sunk or swam and if you swam, you were given more and more responsibility.
So, when I first started my business, I didn't invest heavily in my team. In fact, I was terrible. If I was totally honest with myself (like I was on radio yesterday), I was of the mind-set that if you paid someone a salary, then they just need to get on with it and do their job. No complaining.
In fairness, I had no-one that really guided me and for quite some years, I found myself happily working from a different office to my staff in Queensland and small team in Sydney. I enjoyed not having people ask me questions. It was total bliss. Besides that, I could go out for long lunches without feeling guilty - something I loved to do on Friday's. Very old school huh!!!
Then one day, I had a moment where it all became clear. That is not how you get a high performance team. By investing in your team and understanding what they want to achieve out of life as well as work, you will attract the right people and keep them.
As a business owner it is also important to understand your shortfalls. I have many - I can't lie. Some of my shortfalls are that I am always thinking ahead but when you have an entrepreneurial spirit like that, you need to make sure your number 2 is the complete opposite.
Others shortfalls include:
- I am a perfectionist and that's hard for everyone around me, but great for clients
- I do too many things at once and am working really hard to do one thing right before moving on to the next
- I have to go away and think about things before making really hard decisions because my first thoughts are not always the right ones
- I don't have enough time in the day to do everything I would like to do
- I care too much about people - and this is possible.
It was great to walk back down that road yesterday and talk about how much I have learned from my mistakes.I am quite proud of my journey and know that because I wasn't afraid to take it, I have become a much better version of myself and I have a fairly good story to tell.
The other question that was asked was about what small businesses should do with their online strategy. It is really important that small businesses focus on "Content Driving Connections" because this is the only way to steer your online strategy and reap the branding and financial rewards. If every small business owner placed those words on their screen savers, and remembered it every single time they went online, you would find that the success of their online strategies would be not only more sustainable but a better return on investment.
Cyber bullying exists but often its the ones that cry that they have been bullied, that have infact in some shape or form contributed to the situation. There is a social media protocol and simple solution to most things. "Block" exists and if you ever want to not read something being said, it simply takes you a few seconds. Secondly, never feed the situation - and that goes online or offline.
In the case of Charlotte Dawson, it was her blatant put down of New Zealand, her place of birth, that started the ball rolling.
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