Why showing respect and adding value are key to winning trust in today’s social marketplace

trust

The public’s high-velocity adoption of all things social on the web should be ringing alarm bells in the upper echelons of all businesses, but particularly larger organisations with entrenched beliefs around ‘controlling the message’ and a track record of intrusive, self-centred marketing.

The question is not whether you should be on Twitter or Facebook; it’s way deeper and more far-reaching than that.

This is not an article about new business models or a company’s ability to operate in an agile manner, that’s not my specialty (although there seems to be a correlation between progressive agile companies and their judicious use of new media technologies to become closer to, and more relevant with, their customers).

The area I focus on revolves around reputation and brand, and the role your organisation plays in the community in which it operates; it’s about the way you market your business and communicate with your constituents, not just today but into the future. But ultimately, it’s about relevancy and respect, about becoming a ‘connected brand’ in a real-time social marketplace that’s intensely competitive, hyper-networked, super-busy and information overloaded.

Lack of trust hurts brands

Traditional PR wisdom dictates you eke out information on your terms, when it suits you; information that’s all about you and your products and services using words laden with jargon and polished to such an extent they’re rendered all but indecipherable. This does not build trust; and we know that lack of trust hurts brands.

Traditional marketing wisdom revolves around intruding on people, hitting them with a barrage of one-way sales messages – buy this product, sign up for this service, become a member today, vote for me! This does not buy trust either.

I’m all for promoting one’s products and services – hey, I’m in marketing communications after all – but it’s the frequency and context that concerns me.

Yes, to a degree it made sense in the industrial age, but it doesn’t today.  Today, we need to earn the right to pitch. Today, companies need to be respectful of their customers, to contribute to their lives in ways that are relevant and meaningful. Today, it’s more important than ever to deliver value over and above your products and services.

Earn the attention of people

Social content marketing authority and author Gary Vaynerchuk has named his most recent book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook to reflect this very philosophy. It’s a metaphor for marketing in today’s social age: Give, give, give (value), ask. In other words, give value again and again and again before asking for the sale (or call to action).

Vaynerchuk is all about the hustle and by no means is he backwards when it comes to pitching and selling, but he’s realised the jig is up and delivering value through content and social interaction forms the basis of good marketing today.

We live in the ‘connection economy’ where people’s attention is one of their most precious, albeit diminishing, assets.

Is your organisation earning the attention of people by being interesting, relevant, useful, helpful … thought provoking?

Rather than spraying ‘calls to action’ into the ether via every media ‘orifice’ – messaging that, by the way, people are probably ignoring – would your brand be better served if your company created compelling, high-quality multimedia content that educates, informs, empowers or entertains people?

Rather than be a faceless corporation, why not leverage the power of social technologies to connect with your constituents, to let them inside the walls of your enterprise and meet your employees? Why not put your people front and centre, and empower them to share knowledge and information that will add value to the lives of your customers?

And where do you, as a business leader, fit into all of this?

Are you visible, accessible, open and connected?

Are you publicly generous with your knowledge and ideas?

Are you collaborative and socially connected?

The social age is now well and truly upon us. The question is: Is there a place in it for you and the company you lead?

 

Digital services lead the way as Australian PR firms invest in growth (REPORT)

 PR in Australia Report

Australia’s public relations consulting industry seems to be in pretty healthy shape if a new survey is any indication. 

The annual Public Relations Institute of Australia’s (PRIA) consulting sector benchmark study was conducted by Galaxy Research and used financial and operations data submitted by consultancy owners and chief executives.

The report, which has run for 14 consecutive years, reveals that most firms predict strong growth in the year ahead; tellingly, PR firms are investing heavily in digital services, providing an indication as to where they think future growth will come from.

Key highlights from the report include:

  • 83 per cent of PR businesses forecast growth in 2015
  • Average monthly client retainers now exceed $12,400
  • 42 per cent of businesses making strategic investments in digital services
  • Hiring intentions on the rise for all consulting roles

According to the survey, which included 48 consultancies nationally, PR consulting activities grew an average of two per cent in 2014, while one third of respondents reported average annual revenue growth of 19 per cent. 

PRIA report

 

Year-on-year results

According to the PRIA, 73 per cent of consultancies submitting data this year also participated last year, thus enabling year-on-year trends to be tracked and tested with a high degree of confidence.

“Public relations consultancies are investing actively in their future,” says Adam Benson, National Chair of the PRIA’s Registered Consultancies Group (RCG).

“More consultancies plan to hire staff this year than last year, with hiring intentions strong at every level.  Investments in digital services are also high on the agenda.  42 per cent are planning a significant expansion of their digital offering, while 40 per cent already have dedicated digital services staff in place.

“Average monthly client retainers rose 15 per cent and are now approaching $12,500. However, the study reports a growing dependency on fewer, larger clients in many consultancies.  This concentration of revenue sources increases long-term structural risk in the industry,” says Adam.

“Most business owners and operators are bullish about 2015. 83 per cent predict revenue growth of 14 per cent, with smaller consultancies targeting growth of 35% or more. We’ve not seen targets this high since the GFC.”

Excellent shape

“This year’s study shows an industry in excellent shape. Bad debt is at a record low. Confidence is high. Business owners and operators are investing proactively in new services for the future. 

“In the year ahead, the greatest challenge will be to manage these investments prudently and, as much as possible, and ensure they reduce dependency on clusters of large clients,” Adam said.

 

SOURCE: Information for this article was sourced from a PRIA media statement 

Love your work? Promote your small business online with a #spruik

spruik header

Accounting software company MYOB has just launched Love Your Work, a campaign that encourages Australian small business owners to showcase via the social web their unique passion, product or skill.

I’ll declare my hand here – MYOB is a client and I’m involved in the campaign :)

It works like this:

Business owners design a ‘#spruik’ (see examples below) – these can be as simple or as creative as you like.

Simply (a) write your #spruik on paper or cardboard, (b) shoot it with your smartphone or mobile device, (c) upload your photo to the Love Your Work competition page and (d) promote your #spruik via social media to encourage people to like and share your entry.

So, on one hand small biz owners can promote their business in a fun and creative way in order to reach a broad audience, plus there is the competition element involved with the opportunity to win one of four $25,000 promotional packages from MYOB – more details on the Love Your Work website.

spruiks

 

What do you do? How a former academic turned ‘eclectic’ digital geek positions herself in the marketplace

Multi-tasking Business Woman

Joanne Jacobs is a company director and a digital strategist. She’s also a blogger, a trainer, a public speaker, a change manager, an operations and project manager; she does business development, and on occasion, she can even do a bit of programming and fix technology software and hardware.

She is currently involved in four businesses, and is on the board of another two and sits on the advisory board of another organisation. She also writes for a range of sources and is still exploring other business investment and strategic opportunities. Phewww!

JoanneJacobsSo how does Joanne (left) position herself in the marketplace?

While she prefers to explain why she does what she does, if pressed Joanne defaults to her ’elevator pitch’:

“I help businesses change utterly the way they work,” she explains in this episode of REPUTATION REVOLUTION (listen via SoundCloud below).

I was keen to speak to Joanne because she epitomises the ‘what do you do?’ issue that many professionals and thought leaders face in that they possess an eclectic spread of skills picked up over the journey and it’s this combination of skills that makes them unique.

But having broad knowledge, skills and experience can also play havoc when it comes to positioning oneself in the marketplace.

Aside from that issue, Joanne and I riff on a number of topics, including: 

  • Joanne’s rule of not saying the same thing twice when presenting or speaking in public; 
  • how her intellectual property is out of date on the day it’s delivered;
  • how content needs to developed in such a way that it addresses the immediate needs of the community (“Content needs to be timely, it needs to be appropriate for the audience at the time they are receiving it … it needs to be specific to people’s needs … we have the capacity to solve people’s problems on-demand”);
  • the importance of getting out of the office and meeting people face to face, of being physically and intellectually present at events or in places where you’re going to meet people and can start doing business – “you need to make yourself available”, Joanne says;
  • why Twitter is “a fabulous place to do research”;

… and let’s not forget the joys of downloading advertisements for Star Trek back in 1996 that would take all night to download!

I hope you enjoy this episode of REPUTATION REVOLUTION!

CONNECT WITH JOANNE

If you like what you hear, why not subscribe to REPUTATION REVOLUTION on iTunes?

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JOIN THE LINKEDIN GROUP

 

Is it best to brand your business as your personal name? (Interview on Digital Marketing Radio)

I was recently interviewed by David Bain for his UK-based Digital Marketing Radio podcast (you can listen via SoundCloud player below if you’re looking for something to do other than grocery shopping or doing your tax).

We chatted all things personal branding, including the importance of building a body of work and leveraging your own platform; we also explored the concept of the ‘micro maven’ which I wrote about in my book microDOMINATION.

Here’s a sample quote I provide during the show:

“We have a personal brand whether we like it or not. What people think about you as the … the saying from Jeff Bezos, ‘Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room,’ so it opens the question up what do you want people to say about you when you’re not in the room and so, wouldn’t you want to have an influence on that?”

I really love what David’s doing in terms of building his own media company.

He’s posting a daily episode of Digital Marketing Radio, and then repurposing the content from those interviews for his Digital Marketing Radio Magazine (available from Apple App store and Google Play).

Digital Marketing Radio Magazine is published once a week – every Monday – and includes all the audio interviews for that week (usually five interviews) with no interruptions. And the magazine is published before the interviews are released as a podcast. The magazine also includes the full transcript of every interview in an easy-to-digest format that includes sections and quote highlights.

Definitely worth checking out if you’re into all things digital marketing.

 

The one massive opportunity most businesses are missing on Twitter

Twitter header

Okay, this is anecdotal but borne of years of active ‘in the trenches’ Twitter service plus keen observation of other people’s activities on the social platform.

Here’s the thing. I quite regularly hat-tip businesses on Twitter. That means that out of the blue, I tell the world (well, my meagre sliver of the Twitterverse) that I like/love/am rapt in a specific product, or I’m highlighting that a particular brand’s service is exceptional. Let’s file it under ‘credit where credit’s due’.

I’m not the only one who does this of course, I see this type of hat-tipping activity often. Which is why it can get quite frustrating when we hear ad nauseum the negative stuff that takes place on Twitter, but what’s not often reported are the positive responses brands receive from the public. But that’s another story …

And herein lies the missed opportunity … AND IT’S A BIG ‘UN!

I reckon for every 10 positive ‘out of the blue’ comments I make about a brand or product or service that I like, one – maybe two max – will tweet back to me. You know, acknowledge the comment, thank me (if that is their wont), or more importantly (but something that’s less prevalent), engage me in further conversation around the comment.

Gah!

But you know what these brands do do?

They will, more often that not, retweet and/or favourite my tweet.

You see, they’re monitoring the Twitterverse (kudos for that guys!) but they are straight-out ignoring the opportunity to create a connection with someone who may well be not only an advocate but also potential long-standing customer.

Why?

Why are businesses so reluctant to engage with someone who has publicly expressed positivity about their brand?

Twitter signTo be honest, I don’t know the real answer but I can hazard a guess: It’s because in business, it’s always about us and our brand. Building relationships with people – one at a time – is hard work and not considered worthy of the effort. Best to keep pushing promotional stuff out and see what sticks; if someone along the way happens to say something nice about us, record it for prosperity and move on.

Well, good luck with that; it’s a pretty self-centred attitude, but then marketing has been like that for years, hence the difficulty many brands are having in changing their approach in order to make their marketing more human and customer-centric.

Smart marketing and PR today is about those one-to-one micro engagements.

It is about acknowledgement and conversation and being an open and accessible company made up of real human beings who recognise and treasure the power of such interaction.

It’s about understanding that generosity, humility, empathy and relationships hold the key to marketing success today, and if you think you can do that with broadcast promotional campaign after broadcast promotional campaign with minimal human interaction in between, you’re going to find the going tough as our world becomes even more socially connected.

Marketing and PR is as much about imbuing a philosophy that’s in-sync with the public than merely a set of clever creative tactics.

Which side of the marketing fence does your business sit? 

 

How Sean Callanan uses podcasting and social media to grow his profile and influence in digital sport

Soccer online, sports game

Self-confessed sports geek Sean Callanan is a perfect example of how someone with passion and expertise can strategically use social media and online publishing platforms to leverage themselves into a bigger game.

It wasn’t all that long ago that Sean was an IT coder toiling away in obscurity in suburban Melbourne.

Today, thanks to his embrace of social media including blogging and podcasting, Sean has found himself:

  • consulting to some of the biggest names in the sports business,
  • speaking at international digital sport conferences, and
  • securing an interview with Mark Cuban, the billionaire owner of NBA team, Dallas Mavericks, for his popular Sports Geek podcast.

sean_callananHe also regularly appears on ‘ABC Grandstand’ with Francis Leach and on ‘Harf Time’ with Daniel Harford on radio 1116 SEN.

Sean’s mission is to connect sports, fans and sponsors using technology; his business Sports Geek is connected with over 1,000,000 digital fans with clients in the NBA, AFL, NRL, football and cricket.

Sean is a big podcasting fan and has founded two podcasts that over the past 12 months have amassed 100,000 downloads.

Beers, Blokes & Business, which he produces along with Melbourne-based entrepreneurial types (including Steve Vallas, Jim Stewart, Scott Kilmartin, Steve Sammartino) accounts for approximately 60,000 of those downloads, while Sports Geek is the top ranking sports digital podcast on iTunes.

Jump on a plane

In this episode of the Reputation Revolution podcast, Sean tells us of his journey from suburban coder to digital sports influencer, and discusses how perhaps his most successful strategy to date has been to jump on a plane and visit industry contacts in the US and UK. It’s these relationships, reinforced face to face, that have had potentially the biggest impact on his career to date.

What works well for Sean’s business

  • Building long-standing relationships with key influencers on and offline.
  • Publishing a content-rich podcast on a regular basis (it brings in leads and sales, says Sean).
  • Curating interesting articles and sharing them through his various social channels.
  • Incorporating in his regular newsletter links to the top 10 most shared and clicked-on curated articles that he shared during the week (“…they become the articles in my weekly newsletter”, he says).

Connect with Sean

 

Here are 7 inspiring examples of business-to-business blogs from the smaller end of town

Blogger in a black shirt

It’s no secret that a useful, content-rich blog can be super-effective in building visibility and credibility (not to mention traffic, leads and sales) for a business, whether it’s large, medium, small or micro.

Consider these compelling statistics (sourced from HubSpot via Writtent.com):

  • Companies that blog 15 or more times per month get 5x more traffic than companies that don’t blog.
  • Small businesses (1-10 employees) tend to see the biggest gains in traffic when they post more blog articles.
  • Companies that increase blogging from 3-5 times/month to 6-8 times/month almost double their leads.
  • B2B companies that blog only 1-2 times/month generate 70% more leads than those who don’t blog.

With so much content (READ: dross) cluttering up the social web, it’s an absolute joy to stumble upon a well-written and maintained online content hub produced by a business that truly ‘gets’ the power and nuance of this blogging caper.

7 examples of small and medium-sized business B2B blogs

With this in mind, here are seven brilliant examples of small and medium-sized businesses in the B2B space that are blogging with passion, purpose and strategic intent.

N.B. I’ve tried to include an array of blogs from different industries, ones that are not ‘the usual suspects’ such as Convince and Convert, Copyblogger and Content Marketing Institute which are well known globally because they’re very much at the top of their game. I’ve also tried to focus on companies that are blogging versus individual thought leaders who are ‘caning it’ in this space e.g. David Meerman Scott, Jeff Bullas et al.

1. BUFFER

Any small company blog that can turn out massively chunky, valuable posts like this one deserves to be on a list such as this!

Buffer is a brilliant app that helps you manage multiple social media accounts at once (I use and recommend it!); the company’s super-useful blog focuses on social media because its audience is made up of community managers, PR and social media marketing teams.

Buffer-logo

With an opt-in subscriber list around the 20,000 mark, the Buffer blog covers:

  • Social media tips and strategies
  • Productivity tricks and hacks that will make you more efficient today
  • Scientific studies to improve your online marketing and effectiveness

Here is another example of the utility provided by Buffer on its blog: How to Become a Columnist: The Ultimate Blueprint for Guest Blogging and Syndication

2. GILD

Recruitment software company Gild produces a blog that features content of interest and relevance to its core audience – recruiters and HR professionals in the tech space, for example:

A feature of the Gild blog is Hiring Headlines Weekly, a regular series that highlights valuable hiring and recruiting content from around the web. 

3. VISAGE MOBILE

Visage Mobile is a San Francisco software as a service (SaaS) company that provides mobility management solutions for enterprises.

Its Chief Mobility Officer blog is jam-packed with useful information for an audience interested in tips, news and insights around enterprise mobile communications.

The blog is categorised into content ‘channels’ – Data & Devices, Mobile Intelligence, People & Productivity and Visage News.

visage_mobility blog

4. INFLUENCE & CO

Influence & Co, in its own words, “tackles the world of thought leadership and content marketing from all angles”. A relatively new business, the company helps companies position their key leaders as industry experts.

A good part of the growth of Influence & Co can be put down to its multi-author blog; it’s jam-packed with information, tips and advice around creating content to develop thought leadership positioning.

Here are some example posts:

influenceandco_logo_small

5. THE ID GROUP

While the ID Group’s blog is essentially written by one person (the company’s owner, Mark Masters), it’s a wonderful example of what can be achieved with focus and passion.

A feature of the blog is an interview series with content marketing experts and thought leaders, called ‘Talking Content’.

Mark’s a prolific content creator and while he loves writing on the subject of content marketing, there is another reason why he blogs: It’s great for business!

IDgroup_blog

6. OPENVIEW VENTURE PARTNERS

OpenView is a Boston-based venture capital firm with a focus on high-growth software, internet, and technology-enabled companies.

OpenView’s blog is a key thought leadership play, and is categorised into content ‘channels’ to enable readers to pick and choose topics of interest to them; these include Product, Customers, Sales & Marketing, Recruitment, Management and VC & Startup.

The blog’s authors understand their key audience (the startup community) and write articles with a laser focus that address issues and pain-points experienced by entrepreneurs.

OpenView_blog

7. MOZ

Inbound marketing services company Moz oversees not one but four blogs!

Indeed, the company’s main blog is so well read that people from other companies want to write for it (that’s a sign of a successful blog!); this works for Moz because it gets a spread of views from multiple experts in the business; it’s good for the contributors because they gain exposure for themselves and the businesses they work for.

A feature of Moz’s blogging efforts is founder Rand Fishkin’s ‘Whiteboard Friday’ video posts in which he uses a whiteboard to educate viewers on the finer points of SEO practice.

moz

Hope you enjoyed checking out these wonderful blog examples.

Have you got any others in the B2B space you’d like to add to the list?

 

Thought Leader Minute: Have you considered LinkedIn’s blogging platform?

TRANSCRIPTION:

Do you want to start blogging but you’re not really sure at this point in time that you want to go to the trouble of setting up a blogging platform such as WordPress or Typepad?

Then why don’t you take a look at LinkedIn’s recently launched new blogging platform? By blogging on LinkedIn you’ve got a built in audience ready to go, all of your connections, and if everyone starts liking and sharing it, it has the potential viral effect to go out even further than your broader network.

I know a lot of people who are now using this platform, and some of the numbers of readers they’re getting for each post certainly high hundreds, and sometimes thousands and sometimes tens of thousands.

It really is an avenue worth exploring for thought leaders.

Do you want to be Bob Dylan or The Monkees? What thought leaders can learn from Seth Godin

BC-SethPM-2817

I recently spent a day (along with 150 other people!) with best-selling business author and marketing provocateur Seth Godin at the Art Gallery of NSW (and then backed it up with lunch with the Great Man the next day in Melbourne along with a tableful of savvy individuals including authors and bloggers Valerie Khoo, Steve Sammartino and Darren Rowse – photographic evidence above, hat-tip Infinity Photography and Business Chicks).

For episode #28 of the REPUTATION REVOLUTION podcast (you can listen below or via iTunes) I sift through my notes and pass on multiple ‘nuggets of gold’ I gleaned from the day-long and lunch sessions with Seth.

I then try valiantly to put Seth’s wisdom, stories and advice into perspective i.e. what does it all this mean for aspiring thought leaders, subject matter experts, change agents and entrepreneurs who want to increase their influence, grow their audience and build their brand and their business?

While Seth covered enormous territory, he tied his on-stage output to three big ideas:

  1. “People like us do things like this” (the power of tribes).
  2. “How are you changing your customers?”
  3. “What it is to be an impresario”.

And of course I discuss the proposition Seth put to the Sydney audience:

Do you want to be Bob Dylan or The Monkees?

P.S. You’re going to have to listen if you want the full story behind this gem :)

Trevor Young_Seth Godin