Are you herding cattle or cats?

I recently came a across a blog by Chad Levitt who likened the changing approach to marketing and sales, esp in B2B, to herding cats when we are used to herding cattle. Chad Levitt is the author of the New Sales Economy blog that focuses on how sales 2.0, social, and inbound marketing can be used as a sales strategy for the Web 2.0 world.

As Chad says “The first thing about herding cats is….. “don’t let anybody tell you it’s easy!” If you’ve ever tried to herd a cat you know it’s damn hard. And anyone can herd cattle — they are slow, stodgy, and like to be told what to do. Cats are nimble, quick, and verrrrry hard to corner – so are our customers today. The parallel is that the majority of sales and marketing organizations are still trying to herd cattle, when the marketplace has changed to herding cats.”

I certainly think herding cats makes a very good analogy for the B2B marketplace today.

A key ingredient in herding cats is to supply the food they are seeking and this comes in the form of useful information… blogs, videos etc.

For some time I have been concerned that the people at the fuzzy end of business (PR, Marketing) believe they should control Social Media because it is about Communication.  But given they are the masters (along with Advertising) of one-way communication why should they?

Traditionally in business the best listeners and builders of dialogue are in Sales and Customer Service. While Marketing defines the what and who of sales it is the seller and the after sales servicer that pick up the How …  so who better equipped to understand what the market really expects of a business.

And then there are the internal “cats” how can they be harnessed to support the marketing efforts. Well that’s where HR comes in to develop and define policies on the internal and external use of Social Media. There are heaps of potential brand advocates within a business but they need to be told what they can and cant say.  An Outcomes focussed policy that encourages the use of Social Media can enable this rather than inhibit it!

So right now we have ”cats” everywhere looking for “food” from business but very few are producing the right “food” as they are leaving the “food” production to the wrong people. PR/Marketing traditionally sow the crops and hope for a good season or two….   While it is Sales and Service who are responsible for the harvesting and bear the brunt when a bad season comes along or PR/Marketing has decided to sow the wrong crop.

To try to fathom the best approach to implementing a good approach to Social media in business I recently ran a poll in LinkedIn asking:

Who should “own” responsibility for Social Media In Business environment? Who is best to Listen, Converse, Engage and Convert?

The somewhat surprising result given most of my LinkedIn connections are in PR and Marketing was the formation of a new cross functionality entity.

For more details on the poll

What do you think? How should such an approach be implemented?

In the meantime I will keep my focus on driving Social Media by focussing on Sales outcomes not just building Communities and Conversations.

Telling your story – Its what a website should do!!

A great example of a site incorp. News feeds, Blogs, and Twitter and FaceBook updates

People buy from People they Like …..

People buy stories not Products

… but its the product and your Brand story not the promotion that combine to build business

The old days where it was all about promotion, advertising, selling… but it’s now about engaging, conversing, two-way communication rather than shouting and your website is a key tool to build long-term communities of support for your Brand.  People these days want to feel some ownership of a Brand  if they support it and via Web 2.0 tools and tactics this is made easy.

So as with everything when designing, planning, building a highly effective website make sure you Begin with the End in Mind.

John Jantsch the man behind the Duct Tape Marketing – Blog, Podcast and Book is a master at providing practical marketing advice for Small Business. And when it comes to website content we share some very common opinions and views.  So below I present my ideas (greatly influenced by reading John’s book and how to do Good Content for your website.

If it’s in your marketing profile it should be on your website … and it should be in your words and those of the people you help….so make sure all materials are in sync and where possible re-use the same content … its quicker, easier, cheaper and consistency is everything..

“I like to use a case statement as the home page content. Dont waste time with some sort of “Welcome to our Website” message. Hit your visitor with the most compelling marketing copy you have.”  John Jantsch – Duct Tape Marketing.

But make sure it’s not laced with Marketing speak and meaningless babble .  Keep it concise and to the point as you would if someone stops you in the street and asks you what you do these days ….  so No Worlds best practice, market leading etc etc .   People want to know what you can do for them and why they should trust you… and will give you the minimum of time to convince them to read on.

Say what you be  …..  but be what you say.

And then back up this short compelling opener with – Your Brand Story in Your Words and testimonials that back you up throughout the site … preferably in video but as a minimum have a picture to go with any text.

And then think about what you would like to see if you were your own best prospect …

  • Whats different about you … why choose you over others.
  • How do you operate … what can people expect from working with you
  • Your story told your way
    • “Tell them your story in an open, honest. and entertaining way, and you will win their hearts as well as their heads.” John Jantsch
  • A profile of your ideal client/s …  so I can easily see that “we” are a god match
  • A single clear and concise statement of the products and services you provide
  • As many case studies as you have that are relevant to the claims you make
  • And a list of clients … so that as a prospect I feel good about the company I will be keeping

So now that you have sorted out the sort of things you need to say you need some professional help to put it together – Someone that can sort out the most costs effective design, technology and above all strategy to make sure that the Right People find you. So forget about HTML, SEO and find someone to bring all of the right resources into play to make sure that you end up with a powerful marketing weapon that is closely aligned to your corporate goals and ethics.

Above all

– Keep It Simple

– Start each page with a Powerful headline backed by a well presented intro paragraph

– Keep navigation simple ….  make sure you test it out on a few people first… and create links to every page and lots of text links within pages to allow for a variety of ways that people will use the site.  For example if there is a term you use often set up a link to an explanation/definition.

John in his book also presents a list of “Shoot the Web Designer if they ……”

  • Suggest Flash intro pages – look great but serve no purpose unless your visitors are seeking entertainment
  • Suggest Frame pages – search engines don’t like them
  • Suggest templates – they are inexpensive … and look it … and wont allow you to match your key identity elements at all well

But make sure you site incorporates Your Blog, Your Status updates from Twitter and LinkedIn, Links to your Facebook Fanpage. …  preferably embedded in the home page as per the example above.

Also provide

  • Free Resources that are valuable to your visitor
  • Article and case studies that are relevant… esp if written by you or referring to you
  • Ability to syndicate content via RSS
  • Creative Commons Content that may be useful to your visitors .. another freebie that adds value

And above all do all that you can to help people find you via what ever form of search they use.

Your website sucks …… (and so does mine!!)

A Great Example of Web 2.0 site design – lots of whitespace and readable engaging content

For some time I have been suggesting that there is no place for the Website given the collection of Social media tools that can be deployed to present, develop and promote your brand.

But I have had a re-think and done lots of reading on the subject and have done a complete turnaround…   I agree 100% with the thoughts expressed by Mitch Joel in his outstanding book “Six Pixels of Separation – Everyone is Connected – Connect your business to Everyone”.

“Your Website Sucks (mostly because it was an afterthought and now its the main calling card for your business)”  – Mitch Joel

There is no point in a digital marketing campaign building Facebook Fans, Being LinkedIn, Having quality Followers on Twitter  , deploying advertising and tactics to make sure people find you …. unless they want to interact when they do find you.  And there is where a Quality Web 2.0 website comes into play.

What people find when they get to your site needs to be in line with their expectations…. and that’s not all about design, look and feel, buttons, navigation and functions – although the overall design etc is an important part it is only a small part of the overall exercise.

It’s the content… the interaction … the ease of use … and the relevance of the messages that people come for and return to stay in contact.

The problems I see with websites are generally a result of the people chosen to build the site …. normally A Graphic/Web Designer or an IT/Technology person/company … or a combination of both.

A good-looking well designed site is important (in fact vital) but not as important as the overall picture – engaging content, relevant technology and a site that is marketable. But above all the site needs to be in sync with the organisations strategic goals and provide an environment that not only interests visitors but engages them.

In general I would never recommend a company that is totally focussed on technology to develop a website and I would certainly never give ownership of this most important marketing communications tool to the IT Department.  Would you get a techie to develop your marketing brochure and manage your advertising campaign …. well why put them in charge of the website … it’s a marketing tool that utilises technology in the same way that a brochure utilises a printing press.

It is the fear of technology that drives people to Tech people/companies and in general they end up paying way too much because they have no idea what they want and what it should cost!

However, there is good news there are organisations that have developed into or been formed to be full service digital marketing and communications providers that can leverage all of the best of the above but more so put into a highly cost-effective and relevant form that will serve the needs of the client.

Our business has moved from PR and Communications to Digital Media/Marketing and Communications because we understand the market needs and we have developed a range of Alliance Partners (Graphic Designers, IT experts) who can work with us to provide the appropriate solutions based on our interpretation of the marketing and business needs of the client.

It always gets down to budget but our aim is to provide the optimum solution to meet budget requirements…..  but at the end of the day it’s about crafting the right messages … and that generally is the hard part …   Getting people to talk about their businesses in clear, genuine and authentic terms without engaging in marketing speak,  A great team of people working with us … as a opposed to a loyal, dedicated workforce.

In my next blog I will outline the sort of content that is needed today and provide some ideas on how to gather and present it.

But for now here are some tips from Mitch Joel’s Website Checklist.. with some hints from me thrown i.

  • Clean, fresh, easy to read, lots of “white space”
  • Easy to navigate – a click or two away from anything
  • Appeals to the type of person you aim to attract – based on some Buyer Persona profiling
  • Written in everyday language that the consumers expect and understand. As you would speak to a friend or colleague when explaining what you do !!
  • Dont just do it in text … it is now easy and cost-effective to add a variety of media – (Pictures, Videos, Audio etc ) throughout the site .. not just the home page
  • Make sure there are lots of relevant calls to action wherever and whenever appropriate – throughout the sign – sign up for News, become a Facebook Fan etc
  • Linked to all of your Social media Channels (eg LinkedIn, Facebook, Blog, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr) – in one place bringing together all the forms of content and interaction that you are engaged in
  • Ensure that the site is Search Engine Friendly as you are playing the Game of Getting Found and the competition is fierce. Blogs, News, Quiz, Links to/from other sites, Status Updates from your social media links will all help here by constantly changing the content. Refreshing and Refocusing!
  • Use some form of analytic tools (eg Google Analytics) to track effectiveness of the site in terms of ongoing activity.  See what changes work best.
  • Ensure that the site is developed using tools that allow you to make changes easily as you need … don’t tie yourself to a web developer that needs to do the work . It’s your site and as such you must own it …  But make sure you have an ongoing support agreement to ensure that you get backup for the things that you can’t manage yourself…  and to get updates to the tools you use to keep them relevant.
  • Make sure everything on the site is relevant to and in sync with your overall marketing objectives.
  • Use lots of “testimonials”  to tell your story in the words of those you help – preferably in video, at least in pics … dont rely on words … they could have been written by someone like me paid to do so for a client …  Not that I would !!!

How companies are benefiting from Web 2.0 – McKinsey

McK web 2.0McKinsey & Company, who are one of the worlds foremost business consulting firms, have just released their latest Web 2.0 Survey.  McKinsey who have been the trusted advisors to leaders of companies, governments, and institutions around the world for more than 80 years, aim to help our clients address their most important challenges and opportunities.

In doing this they regularly conduct surveys and analyse business trends across a variety of areas.

For the past three years they have been focusing on Web 2.0 and its application within business large and small. The first two surveys focused on how business was using Web 2.0 and now the latest survey is titled “How companies are benefiting from Web 2.0”.

As a member of the panel that has been taking part in the surveying for the past few montHs I have been sent a pre release copy of the report.  Whilst my confidentiality agreement prevents me from sharing the full report or any great detail with you I can provide a few snippets that will encourage to get a full copy when it is released shortly.

Overall the survey showed

“The heaviest users of Web 2.0  applications are also enjoying benefits such as increased knpwledge sharing and more effective marketing. These benefits often having a measurable effect on business.”

“Half of the respondents report that Web 2.0 technologies have fostered in-compnay interactions across geographic borders.”

“Over half the companies in the survey plan to increase investments in Web 2.0”

“Satisfaction with Web 2.0 was high among all users”

Sponsorship 2.0 is the way for Australian Sport

AdvertiserAs a sports fan who loves a drink I could hardly resist the Banner Headline that screamed for my attention in today’s daily. On reading I quickly learn it’s doom and gloom.

AUSTRALIA’S premier sporting codes are under threat of losing up to $300 million a year in alcohol sponsorship.

But why is Sports promoting alcohol anyway and why has it not used its power to attract the myriad of corporates who want to attract people to join their Tribe and don’t have an unhealthy message.

Because I suspect they don’t get it .

After watching sport on TV on the weekend I decided to start on a paper on the future of Sponsorship, because it appears that Australian sport has not moved with the times. I see a fortune spent by BBX on elcetronic fence signage and across the front of the Port Adelaide AFL team’s coaching box … but they don’t tell me who they are and what they do.

I see a small Adelaide recruitment company, lets call them XYZ, who sponsor a local football team who were playing in the TV match of the day. And across the back of all of the players jumpers I see XYZ and once again I am expected to guess who they are and what they do. Even on the company’s website there is no mention of the sponsorship … I guess the boss likes the team so the sponsorship is philanthropy not business development. And clearly with some planning it could be both!

The addition of a web address below the letters/logos in both cases could fix the problem . If I was at the game I could look them up on my mobile by accessing their site or at home while watching TV I could go to my PC at half time … instead of watching ads.

It was interesting to note that signage at the test cricket from Cardiff had a very strong focus on web address and relevance. The glass in front of the players box displayed the web address of a glass manufacturer … Pleased to see it didn’t say proudly sponsored by.

Firstly if you aren’t proud why sponsor and secondly if a company name is displayed in such a way everyone clearly knows it’s a form of sponsorship … so why state the bleeding obvious.

All of this lead me to researching how sports were using Web 2.0 and Social Media to grow income (esp overseas). I was pleased to see that Sponsorship 2.0 is alive and well!! VODW Marketing company who predicts Sport Sponsorship worldwide to double or triple in the next few years has produced a significant report on the why and how of Sponsorship 2.0. The report by Roger Peverelli and Reggy de Frinks provides some good background and guidelines that sport should be embracing.

I am now in the process of developing my own guide for sports in Australia particularly focusing on how they can use Social Media Marketing to grow their income very significantly. Our Grumpy Old Managers Guide to Social Media Marketing covers the general principles but now we want to provide Sports/Charities with some specific guidelines as we are doing for a few industry segments.

The future is very much about building business for their Corporate supporters and not just building brands as it was in the past. So instead of bemoaning the loss of the booze money it’s time to embrace new ways and unleash opportunities as yet unheard of by leveraging their brand and their tribe of supporters … and linking sponsors to the right messages and the right means of reaching the consumers!

Web 2.0 – Its About Communications and Content

Whatever methods we decide to go with in getting our message to our prospects, direct mail, newspaper ads, website , viral video etc…The key issue is making sure the content is appropriate and useful to our target audience. A recent article by Gerry McGovern content management solutions on – I think sums up a lot of what we are talking about in identifying how we communicate effectively via the Web but also in the broader sense to a community with changing expectations…As he says we are now in the Informed Age.

While the article is about Web Communications I think it also sums up the changing nature of the broad community expectations in all areas of communications as a result of the emerging new methods.

The new Web communicator : The Web offers one of the most significant opportunities to communicators in modern history, but requires a total redefinition of what communications is.

Traditional communications is one-way, passive and past-tense. It is all about telling people what you have done, what you are doing, or what you are about to do. There is a core belief among certain traditional communicators that people need to be “educated”.

Traditional communications is not all that different from traditional journalism. There is a saying in traditional journalism: “The reader is not as stupid as you think they are. They’re more stupid.”

There might have been some truth in such a view forty years ago, but we are now in a different age. It is not the digital age. It is not the information age. It is the informed age. The very success of the Web is based on a questioning society. We are a society that searches because we want to find out.

The Web is where we go to know, to be informed. Those societies that want to control what people know, who fear independent thought and action, will always fear the Web. Those societies who think it is exclusively the job of the elite to inform the masses will always fear the Web.

But the people love the Web. They love the Web because they can find out for themselves, from people like them. They love the Web because the Web is many messages, and the Web gives people the chance to compare, rate, question, talk back, and-most importantly-act.

The essence of the Web is action. We go to the Web because we have a task; there is something we need to do; there is a problem we need to solve. What helps us do? What helps us act? Written words. The oxygen of the Web is written words. There is no life on the Web without written words.

Written words are the tools of the communicator. But these written words have a very different function on the Web. I analyze a lot of government websites. Unfortunately, too many overflow with vanity, pomposity and waffle. Some of them are little more than campaign websites full of puff pictures of preening peacock politicians.

Many web teams still struggle to convince their PR and communications colleagues that on the Web you communicate by doing. A friend of mine was worried about his wife, who had just given birth. She was not well and he believed that the doctor has misdiagnosed her.

He went to the Web, and on his journey to find out, ended up on some government Web sites, where he was faced with puff PR about how much the government was investing, and what the Minister for Health had for breakfast. He didn’t want to know how much was being invested. He wanted help; he wanted to read content that could help him find out what exactly was wrong with his wife.

He found answers, and he was right-she had been misdiagnosed. This is the power and potential of the Web, and this is the challenge and opportunity for the communicator. Show by doing. Inform with active verbs. Make your words work for your customers.

Gerry McGovern Content management solutions