Monthly Archives: January 2010

Apple tablet – an example of brand power

Anyone working online today (news, using Twitter, joining discussions on Linkedin, hitting message boards and forums) will see the place awash with buzz about the big Apple announcement. The word on the street is that they have finally got their tablet computer (a glorified 10/11″ large iPod Touch) ready for launch.

By any rational comparison it will be a touchscreen netbook, packaged in aluminium, with an Apple badge and retailing at 2-3 times the price of a Dell Inspiron mini or Samsung NC10.

But Apple followers will snap them up, as eagerly as they did iPods and iPhones. Why? Because Apple is cool. Despite billion dollar mass market sales over Christmas.

People with no real ‘geek’ tendency are getting swept up in the banter and excitement. Which acutely demonstrates (at a mass market level) how brand can get you headlines, get you talked about, and get you sales.

A staple element of their marketing calendar, Apple make the announcement, set the date, book the venue, and let everyone get into a state talking about what might be coming. Anticipation is incredibly intoxicating and the perfect ingredient for a successful online PR and social media campaign.

Once on the market, I’m more interested to see how Apple copes with the inevitable cannibalisation of MacBook, iPod Touch and possible iPhone sales that will happen if the tablet (codename iSlate) is a runaway success.

Excellent client service

Agencies sometimes get the concept of client service confused with maximising client profitability. They are linked from the perspective that happy clients are often spending clients but a good client service strategy shouldn’t unduly impinge or impact on your client relationship.

Clients can be confused and concerned about sudden changes in agreements, retainers, rates and personel so minimise any risk by putting in place a client service plan and then deliver against it.

1. Introduce Standard Agreements / Service Level Agreements for all new clients only, and roll them out gradually to existing clients of a certain size. SLAs are different to contracts (unless a retainer is involved) as they should talk more about service, responsiveness, policy and process.
2. Create tailored KPIs for each client (internal KPIs for the agency as well as KPIs you can share with the client to demonstrate your superior focus on measurement and their ROI). See my post in Principles on KPIs.
3. Create and then review a rate card of staff rates and include a transparent discount structure based on specific and quantifiable volume of work.
4. Evaluate and continually re-evaluate each client’s pricing based on the previous and predicted levels of support.
5. Produce rolling annualised internal plans, linking in to deliverable KPIs, with a quarterly focus.
6. Agree status reporting intervals and level of telephone and face to face contact with each client.
7. Provide transparent financial reporting and regular billing intervals. This helps to create more frequent billing where appropriate (to aid cash flow). Ensure invoices link to quotes and have all the right information to be quickly processed.
8. Working on a retainer basis provide long term security but often on reduced rates. Decide if retainers can work in your business and migrate larger clients to them.
9. Develop client optimisation plans (internal documents highlighting opportunity areas for each client) with the express aim of locking them in with additional and previously unused services.
10. Install effective, regular and added value customer relationship management with all clients & prospects (can be as simple or complicated as you choose).
11. Create a referral reward scheme and encourage referrals (this is the easiest way to secure new business).
12. Encourage trial & take up by providing a limited number of taster workshops, white papers, meetings.
13. Provide proactive reiews of clients, their business and challenges once a year.
14. Put in place a rigorous client feedback process right from first project, to six month and twelve month reviews, compiled in advance on both sides and discussed face-to-face.
15. Overhaul your website – bring in external support (most agencies are poor at managing their own site), add a client login area, add a blog that anyone can post to, and use social media to provide and promote incoming links.
Some small, some large, most relevant and at the heart of delivering excellent client service in the information age.

Blogging: It’s a number’s game

8 months

66 posts

110 article reads in June

397 in July

92 in August

1181 in September

1165 in October

1161 in November

964 in December

1317 in January 2010 (to date)

Total reads 6345.

Thanks for reading, supporting, sharing, and commenting.

In no particular order, this blog has introduced me to lots of interesting people, allowed me to share my experience, helped me to build a profile online, enabled me to understand WordPress, provided content and discussion for Twitter and Linkedin, led to job offers, consulting contracts and other interesting opportunities and above all, helped lots of people think differently about their marketing challenges and how they can kill costs, reclaim time, be inspired and market better.

So, who says blogging doesn’t pay?

Comfortable in your own skin

Has your business rushed to diversify in the last twelve months because of the economic downturn? Has your management team realigned business objectives into new areas? Has your company overstretched in a bid to simply stand still?

Experience tells us that some recession innovators do ultimately stand the test of time. But what companies like Apple also have, and continually refine, is a compelling proposition, an unwaivered strategic vision and a serviceable market. Without these, most companies and brands can not last long term.

Most of us do not work for an Apple. But we should follow their lead and create and work to the same strategic framework in order to ensure durable long term business success.

This means we have to be bold, we can’t pretend to be something we’re not, we can’t try and land business we have no experience of delivering well, we can’t diversify into sectors we have no expertise in, and we can’t enrol new recruits without giving them the agreed destination and the map of how to get there.

In essence, we need to be comfortable in our own skin. Are you? Is your business?

Get your tweet on

Don’t believe the press stories about its declining impact (Stephen Fry has only suspended activity whilst he writes a book).

Brands large and small make money from Twitter every day. Here are 10 ways of building profile and traffic on Twitter:

1. Use a good clear picture (avatar): Individual, personalised profiles work best on Twitter. True there are lots of brands and companies with profiles, but remember business people deal with people. It should be no different on Twitter.

2. Create an effective bio profile: Keep it real, make it relevant and interesting. State who you are, what you do, why you should be followed.

3. Tweet during peak time: Tweet at a time you know your audience will be online. So if you’re a UK business its 0900-1800, if you are interested in accessing other markets, you’ll need to adjust your schedule.

4. Repeat yourself: Accept that people won’t see every message you post. Don’t just repeat one tweet ten times a day, mix it up in within new content but accept you might need to repeat a morning tweet in the afternoon if it is important.

5. Develop a niche: Be specialist and expert in something. Stand for something. Share your news, comment and views and share industry news comments and views. People in time will click through to stories you tweet about.

6. Ask questions: Asking questions is a great way of raising engagement, whether it is about referrals, connections, the news, your industry or less business focused issues, but remember your ‘niche’.

7. Link to interesting sites: I’m a marketing consultant so I tweet marketing and business related stories from sources including Brand Republic, Marketing Week, The BBC, Management Today and the broadsheet press as it fits my niche profile and will hopefully attract the right audience to me.

8. Send @messages to top / influential users: This raises your profile in the public timeline by association, and will get you more followers – even if the people you message don’t reply to you.

9. Link your account: You can add widgets and feeds which share your Twitter activity to other platforms like Linkedin, Facebook, Friendfeed, Ecademy, your website and your blog.

10. Post pictures: Applications like TwitPic allow you to upload pictures – great if you trying to promote products and services that need a little visual stimulus, or if you promoting finished projects.

Credit goes to the guys at howstuffworks for inspiring me to write this post. More resources and tips available on their site.

Have you seen this man?

I’m sure he’s a lovely guy, but if this man appears in your marketing collateral, change it immediately.

He is one of the most overused portraits drawn from a well known internet image provider and represents a very lazy approach to creative marketing.

People with a good grasp of either marketing, design, business or advertising will recognise him straight away and you will be found out, your marketing investment wasted.

Lesson: Dare to be different. Your customers are dealing with you, not him.

We’re all the solution

If everyone provides the solution, who causes the problem?

Companies win and lose business from each other every day. Clients switch agencies regularly.

Sometimes borne from the need to systematically review performance, reduce cost, drive efficiency; sometimes because they are new in the role or the company and want to make their mark; sometimes they are seduced plain and simple by a shiny new idea, dazzling new method or a charming agency business developer.

Fact is we’re all trying to be the one that is noticed, the one that is not replaced. But the old maxim ‘you’re only as good as your last job’ holds true. The new economy means you are dispensable.

Everyone is a solution for someone. But was your last job your best job…? If not, and you’re living on past victories, beware, they could be your last.