Monthly Archives: October 2009

Blogging (in hindsight)

writingI’ve had a reality check about blogging.

I haven’t posted an entry on my blog for a fortnight because of work pressures. What I’ve realised is that even if you have a long list of topics you want to write about, or lots of current news stories to comment on, if you don’t have or make the time, or lose the will because of work or domestic pressure or simple ‘blog fatigue’, then it simply doesn’t happen. And when your blog becomes expected, this will disappoint your contacts and readers.

In a way, I liken it to going to the gym. Once you fall out of the habit and resolve to starting again ‘tomorrow’ – tomorrow becomes after the weekend, becomes next week, becomes next month.

I’ve realised that trying to put something informative and relevant out to the people who have subscribed, and then syndicating it across all my networks, takes on average about 80 minutes per day to do it properly. That’s how I’ve achieved over 100 reads a day on the blog and rising, and another 150 across my social networks but it’s probably unsustainable with a day job!

I read a great blog on Linkedin (check out about putting in place an editorial calendar and sticking to it. Wise words, I imagine that’s what Seth does!

As a result I’m refining my output down to a more managable 3 times a week to ensure that I maintain quality and relevance. I’m aiming to do this Monday, Wednesday & Friday. If in the future, time allows, then I’ll get back up to five times daily!

Apologies if you’ve had to do without your little bit of daily Marketing Assassin magic! I’ll be back in the saddle tomorrow.

Best wishes, and as always, comments welcome!



Are you on the map?

are you on the map marketing assassin blogYour customers don’t keep your office hours. They don’t only go looking for the products and services you provide during the time they can contact you. We are in the 24 hour global economy. That’s why you spent all that money on your website and why you spend money on Adwords, trying to be the first found for what you do.

Thats the easy bit. That’s the Field of Dreams bit. You know ‘if we build it, they will come’ bit.

But is it enough?

Course not, but the other stuff takes time and money and you probably don’t have it. You can be smart though. Have you registered your business on Google Maps? Are you listed in FreeIndex? Have you taken advantage of the free listing available from YellDirect?

Run a search on ‘free business directory’ and sign up for as many as you can. It’ll take time, but if you get one prospect that turns into a customer, it was probably worth it.

You are the Guardian Journalist

cave of time marketing assassin blogI recall with some fondness the Choose Your Own Adventure books I read in my youth.  The opportunity to escape to a new world, making decisions that affected me and the outcome of the story and to try something different. It was captivating.

Shoot 20+ years into the future and I still love words. I started writing this marketing based blog several months ago because I felt passionately about writing and also about inspiring others to market effectively (and because it might turn into a book and make me rich!)

As a result, I see great opportunities with the fledgling Guardian Local experiment being rolled out next year in Leeds, Cardiff and Edinburgh. This could be the next seismic shift in the news and communications sector. Though getting local people to contribute to local news is not a new thing, the fact The Guardian is trying this out means journalism as we know it could change forever.

If you’re interested, maybe even want to take part, read more about it here

Reaching out

portals marketing assassin blogIf you’re in b2b, are you making best use of the trade organisations and portals available to you?

Sure these days, most business people have joined the social networking revolution with a Linkedin profile. You may have joined some groups of like-minded individuals and be looking to engage with customers, prospects and suppliers.

But what about trade associations and online portals? Every sector has them. They aren’t generally the sexiest sites on the Internet, but they work in bringing people together.

Some are free, some paid for, consequently offering different accessibility. Most involve some sort of user-based forum for finding information, starting conversations, asking and answering. Some are linked to the main magazine in the sector.

Most have an online / print directory you can list in and offer a recruitment angle. Some even allow you to post your news and press releases, and if you want to pay more, advertise. The forward thinking trade associations and portals list tender and business opportunities demonstrating their business relevance.

Where do you go for your business information online? Reach out. It’s likely your customers go there too.

Winning the pitch

winning pitch marketing assassin blogHaving already won one new piece of business for my new company in my first few weeks, I’m now pitching for an old client. This is a large, long term account and I know that my contact is keen to move, but switching remains a risk for him.

I need to follow a process that paints us in the best possible light, reassuring him that we can deliver what he wants, showing we understand his business and the needs of his customers, and ultimately convincing him that he has made the right decision to entrust his marketing activity with us.

People write 250 page books on this stuff that go into the nth degree. I thought I’d share a ten point plan developed over time, as lots of companies slip up when they prepare for a pitch and end up way off message.

Why? They stray off brief and try and position as more strategic or take a kitchen sink approach and deliver a 140 slide PowerPoint that talks mostly about themselves and not about how they add value or how they make a difference for customers.

1. Do your homework. Understand the customer, the market and the competition. But don’t regurgitate it back to the prospect – they know more about their business than you ever will. That isn’t the reason you’re pitching.

2. Answer the brief. Structure your response to answer their questions, minimize their concerns and in a way so they can tick every box. Makes it harder for you to be discounted.

 3. Link everything you present intrinsically back to marketing objectives. Plain and simple.

 4. Engage with the client, develop a relationship pre-pitch, share your work with them, share a project plan. Give them the sense you are taking it seriously and that you are working to secure their business.

 5. Don’t develop your campaign in isolation. How often do you see pitch creative that isn’t fit for purpose or fit for market. I’m thinking of suppliers to the oil and gas sector using oil rigs in their ads – flick through Offshore Engineer – every ad looks the same.

 6. Don’t use a template. Tailor your response to the needs of your prospect.

 7. Bring it to life. Theme it. Have a powerful, engaging introduction that demands attention. The first few minutes are crucial. Keep PowerPoint/Keynote to a minimum. Use short, relevant video and animation but make sure it has a point or presenters following it just end up sounding flat.

 8. Ensure the delivery team are involved – not just company directors. Building chemistry is a big part of winning the pitch. If you don’t have people who can present with passion and professionalism, train them (and see point 9). Charisma can be coached – it is a breed of confidence. Assign roles to everyone in the room, don’t have team members sat listening for the duration of the presentation.

 9. Practice, practice, practice. And think about difficult questions and objection handling. Assume the worst – prepare answers for questions about costs, timelines, project management, distance, and anything else that could be considered an issue.

 10.  Have a close. Tell him how excited you are and how you want to work with them. A well known sales ploy is to simply ask ‘Can we work with you on this project?’

 Hope this plan is of use to you in your business pitching.

Sesame Street Economics

count_von_count-1-720172A feature on Monday night’s BBC 5Live Drive made me smile. In it their business reporter was commenting on the next day’s papers and the economic headlines.

In the space of 12 hours, Steve Ballmer CEO of Microsoft had talked about the recession being U shaped, meaning we hit the bottom, would coast a while and then hit growth. Things wouldn’t, in his view, be getting any worse. In another paper, Michael Geoghegan CEO of HSBC was talking about the risk of a W shaped curve, where growth follows the initial recession but we then hit recession and then growth again (the old boom and bust argument).

They then went on to talk about the less cyclical V curve (recession then growth) and the L curve which is probably the worst of all, a slump leading to long term depression.

But what does this mean for budding Marketing Assassins?

You need to know how the recession has affected your market and where to focus your energy. This will determine if your strategy is still the right one – greater penetration of a saturated or declining market is not an avenue you want to go down. Maybe development of a niche market or diversification into a new area with a slightly modified offering may be the way ahead.

Have you struggled but have now started to see the green shoots? Or have you been making hay during the recession? Do you now have reason to be concerned about being caught out or caught up by competitors better placed to take advantage?

Does free bring good value?

LESThe London Evening Standard is dropping its 50p cover price next week to become a freesheet.

After a high profile relaunch earlier this year which saw circulation initially dip 20% before recovering 12% this is a big gamble on the part of its Russian owners. There are a wealth of other daily publications in London (including LondonLite and Metro) and with more and perhaps better content available on mobile devices and the Internet, this was inevitable.

Maybe the movement to free was brought about by the influx of dating ads, suduko and a decline in credible journalism. Whatever the reason, one of the capital’s flagship brands has had to modernise with the times with no guarantee of success in the future.

Giving away a product for free carries incredible risks not least in how your product is perceived, the value it holds and in terms of The Standard, the inability to develop and engage with its customer base on a meaningful level. Commercially, there should always be a reason for giving something away – to reward, entice, convert, cross sell or up sell.

The Standard will be hoping an increase in readership will be an attractive draw to advertisers.