Monthly Archives: June 2010

Building a winning team

The depression of another failed World Cup bid by the England football team has, I think, been lessened this time around by the crushing inevitability of it all. From the warm up games, to the debacle of squad selection, through the performances in the group, the outbursts about the tough, prison like camp and the tactical ineptitude at critical stages of matches, it was clear it was going to come to a crashing end at some point.

Creating the right environment for a team to perform takes some planning and a lot of effort. The England team have the best paid manager in world football, a star-studded line-up and all the trappings afforded to movie stars and musicians but  failed because they weren’t sufficiently motivated and committed to winning.

There were crucial things missing.  And, the same things are often missing in teams in workplaces like yours. As marketers we have to get the best from multi-site, multi-language, multi-discipline colleagues and business partners. So, if  like Fabio, you’re struggling to get the best out of people in your line of work (and remember no man is an island), consider these five top tips:

1. Create the right environment – team members need to have some responsibility and should feel that they can propose and try different approaches from time to time.

2. Remember no idea is a bad idea – encourage input and encourage problem sharing. The best teams consistently collaborate and innovate. Build in various ways of soliciting feedback as some people naturally shy away in group situations.

3. Understand the needs of individuals – one managerial size doesnt fit all when managing a team. The autocrat for example will frustrate the experienced. Make sure you are aware of who needs the carrot and who needs the stick, who needs some hand holding and who needs letting fly.

4. Establish team roles and responsibilities and incentivize based on delivery – some team members operate best on the big picture, others are meticulous, others organised, others 100% efficient but lacking a little polish. using assessment models like Belbin can assist. Understanding where skills lie allows for effective harnessing and also helps drive  ongoing development.

5. Ultimately, recognize that the team embodies the values and attitude of its leader. If the team isn’t working, it has to come back to the leader’s door. Return to the objectives of the team, what needs to be done and where the strengths and weaknesses lie. Everything can be improved…unless you are project managing a team on The Apprentice in which case, no chance.

    As for Fabio, he isn’t the first to fail with England’s so called Golden generation, perhaps the causes are more engrained.

    Image http://blogs.mirror.co.uk

    Blog Gold 2010: A funny thing called insight

    Insight is the holy grail of customer relationship marketing.

    Insight gives you understanding and perspective.

    Insight allows you to differentiate.

    Insight enables you to proposition.

    Insight drives creative marketing.

    Insight can help you add value.

    Insight can ensure you are able to charge more.

    And some agencies can charge clients vast sums of money for it.

    Think, who is best placed to give me insight into customers, their perceptions, motivations and brand choices? And who has the relationship and ability to ask these questions of your customer? Whether you choose the direct or indirect route, one thing is sure, it will effect the number of zeros assigned from your marketing budget that might be better spent elsewhere.

    Original posted 14 Sept 2009. Image courtesy of 2minuteswith.com.

    Blog Gold 2010: Propagating your personal brand

    Last November, I told you that you’re an expert in what you do.

    To support your outward promotion of your expert status and the value you can add, you might have a profile on MySpace or Facebook. You’ve realised it is important joining the debate on Linkedin, using it as a way of building your credibility and reach.

    You post the occasional blog, answer a question and contribute to some industry facing groups. It’s a little time consuming but in giving back and helping others, it positions you as a worthwhile and credible contact.

    You may be using a Twitter account to raise your profile and to post links to content – whether its either your own, or stories and posts that you might want to be associated with.

    If you’re more switched on, you might have some content lodged on sites like YouTube, Vimeo or Slideshare. They are great for posting video snippets, photo slideshows, animations and presentations.

    But, are these rich and powerful sources cited on your business card? Are they in your email footer? If not, you’re missing at least two golden opportunities to propagate your brand and expertise.

    Don’t settle for guidelines dictated to you by the corporate design police in your company. Extol the virtues and importance of these things to senior management and encourage their use.

    Promoting your use of these technologies demonstrates your understanding, shows you are forward thinking as an individual, as well as a business, and that you are prepared to engage and enter into a discussion with your customers.

    Original posted 20 Nov 2009. Image courtesy of Elaine Fogel’s blog.

    Blog Gold 2010: Going social

    In this post from February I suggested that there is natural suspicion and confusion about the importance and return on time spent on developing your online brand using ‘social media’.

    At the time of writing there were high profile news stories involving Manchester United banning their players from Twitter and Coca Cola issuing guidelines on Twitter use which demonstrated just how nervous leading brands are about the interactive and uncontrollable nature of the medium.

    I think the problems start with the terms of reference. ‘Social media’ and ‘social marketing’ are, I feel, misleading titles for the technology that allows you to build contacts, links, friends, followers and fans on the major networks. The reason the name concerns me is that social marketing typically refers to campaigns built around public awareness, public information and or public safety. And the use of the word social may imply it is for fun, personal and informal. All in all, this doesn’t make it the best moniker for a technique trying to entice professional business.

    And as a result, companies are left naturally pondering whether there is a return on investment to be made from social media, or if it is just a gimmick afforded by technological advancement rather than meeting a business need.

    But, the simple undeniable truth is that the Internet is here to stay. It is the first resource for buyers (B2B Marketing’s Buyersphere research proves this), suppliers, customers, job seekers and anyone researching a purchase or looking for a recommendation before making a purchase.

    Sites like Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube attract users in their millions for strong psychological reasons, namely the need to belong and share. They have helped relaunch old brands, affect reality television, and recently play a role in elections. Because they attract millions every day, they are deemed high volume and if for no other reason than to assist your search engine optimisation prospects, you should create a profile (with a link to your site) on every single one of them.

    In social media, there are a great number of experts queuing up to offer advice. These typically fall into two camps. They either tell everyone they should be doing it or instruct most people not to bother.

    There is, however and obviously, a third option which involves careful and coordinated use of some of these resources designed to achieve set marketing objectives and deliver against key performance indicators. Social media can be used to engage with and provide superior customer service, provide product advice and updates, or to help engage new customers. Used thoughtfully, you can achieve high visibility, achieve business credibility and drive traffic to your website and aid conversion. Check out this post from September 2009 if you are starting out now.

    Think strategically, start small, and don’t spend a whole amount of time on it. That way, going social can be effective for you.

    Original posted 16 Feb 2010. Image courtesy of Capacity Marketing

    Blog Gold 2010: The only KPI that matters…

    I wrote back in December 2009 about conversion being the only KPI that matters. Any activities that don’t drive customer engagement and uptake with your business are a cost not an investment.

    It is very easy to be seduced by statistics, to keep yourself busy, and to convince yourself, your team, your subordinates and your management, that everything is measurable.

    You can track advertising responses by keeping an eagle eye on reader enquiries or logging responses to a campaign landing page. For PR you might compare column inches as advertising equivalent value and opportunities to see, extrapolating circulation to give an idea of visibility.

    You can monitor traffic flow on your website by considering entry and exit data, hot and cold spots, time spent, pages viewed, number of return visits, sign ups and registrations, downloads, comments and forum postings.

    For emarketing and online advertising you can reference open and click through rates. For exhibitions you can log booth visitors, enquiries and orders. You can monitor ‘social’ media by keeping an eye on fans, follows, friends, connections and links.

    Don’t be the busy fool. Sure, all these will help refine your marketing, but at the end of the day marketers need to remember you are, for the most part an employee of a commercial business. If you don’t convert interested parties, you won’t be in business for very long. All your efforts should be focused to that single KPI of converting – whether it is selling, selling more, selling frequently and repeat selling.

    Whether you are into product, service, information, price comparison, subscriptions it really doesn’t matter. You need to drive prospects through the line from unaware to awareness, engagement, trust, conversion and advocacy to stand a chance of making your business a success in 2010.

    I view most KPIs as a distraction from the main objectives and that most readers of this blog should however avoid nice to have, time sapping fluff and focus on conversion.

    Originally posted 18 December 2009. Image courtesy of Scyong

    Blog Gold 2010: Does your digital marketing sizzle?

    In July 2009 I wrote about how I saw emerging technology bringing tremendous opportunities, choice and challenges. The ability to reach wider audiences, tailor products, services and communications, and have better visibility of what works, all make digital marketing a must for most enterprises. The last twelve months have seen an explosion in talk around how to make the most from digital marketing and has proved just how important having a digital profile for your business and yourself has become.

    The challenge to companies and marketers still to embrace it is in doing it properly,credibly and in line with business objectives. Avoid ‘just doing it’ as many digital gurus may advise. Like any other marketing element, consider long term, customer focused, permission based marketing strategies which will help you use the right tools in the right way. This retains all the brand equity you have hopefully amassed over many years of successful customer satisfaction, and make taking it online a little easier.

    B2C brands like Dell and Amazon have done, and continue to do this supremely well. B2B marketers can take the best from their models and apply them cost effectively to their own operations.

    Planning digital marketing that sizzles hinges on how you do business and transact. So what sort of business are you?

    Are you running an eMarketing program (essentially online promotion which drives customers to have to enquire, make a call, visit a store or see a salesperson in order to place an order? Are you running an eCommerce business (incorporating online marketing with transactional capability? Or are you running a true eBusiness (with the front end seamlessly linked and automated into the back end)?

    Digital marketing should help achieve one, some or all of the following objectives:

    1. To sell – growing sales by satisfying needs, easily.

    2. To serve – add value and customer satisfaction with good delivery, regular communications and order updates and other online services.

    3. To speak – starting a proactive two way dialogue helps identify and anticipate customer needs.

    4. To save – doing it all efficiently and effectively, reducing overall administration, warehousing, logistics and distribution costs.

    5. To sizzle – providing an enjoyable brand experience that creates positive word of mouth (buzz) and leads to return visits and purchases. This is brand building, creating an emotional tie with the customer.

    I concluded with a telling summary that if your digital marketing doesn’t sizzle, doesn’t stick people to your site, doesn’t get them to talk about it, recommend it, bookmark it and return to it, you’re wasting your time, money and effort.

    I’d reiterate a year on that, conversion is and should be the most important role of any website. There has to be a reason for people to bother, to keep bothering or be bothered enough to bother anyone else with it. Whether it is direct selling, information, advice, education, comparison, research, it needs to be doing something for your target audience.

    Originally posted 14 July 2009. Image courtesy of BestDigital

    Making an exhibition of yourself

    Trade shows are often a mystery to me. They are an expensive, time consuming and resource draining element of the annual plan but done well, can energize or re-energize a tired sales force, a disinterested distributor network, or disengaged customer base.  They offer the opportunity to demonstrate, to research and to make introductions in a safe, if artificial, environment.

    I recently had occasion to attend a trade show in Birmingham, visiting a client who was exhibiting their wares and I also used it as an opportunity to research the particular sector and to talk to some of the leading players. I think more and more people are attending shows as a delegate, opting to go about their information and contract trawl in a much more clearly defined, but guerrilla, manner.

    I deliberately picked the second day to maximise time with influencers and decision makers on stands (they would simply have been too busy on day one). It became quickly apparent to me that many of the exhibitors were experiencing poor levels of traffic and interest. Most were quick to bemoan the show, its organisers, their promotion methods, and the decline of UK trade shows in general. Worryingly, few accepted their role in promoting their own attendance at the show and too many stand personnel were quick to offer sweeping statements without really ascertaining who I was or what I was interested in.

    Trying to spin this experience (and fourteen years of managing trade show attendance) into some positives, here is my take on getting the most from trade show attendance.

    1. Establish that your target audience attends. Surprisingly obvious, but despite waning interest, how many companies (yours included) persist with certain shows in a bid to keep up appearances?

    2. Agree a single and central proposition and stick to it. Lots of stands are just too cluttered. Issue based communication is the order of the day. Delegates have problems to solve so reframe your whole approach by answering ‘Who do I help and how?’

    3. Agree evaluation criteria by setting benchmark objectives. Don’t be so vague as to have a simple enquiries target – cut it by product, sector, customer type, geographical market or sales rep. Be bold, you are investing big money and you need to ensure  a return.

    4. Design data capture early on and ensure it can be quickly used after the event. If you can invest in barcode scanners if they are on offer. Anything else is just fiddly, time consuming and unprofessional.

    5. Take space only and design a stand that reflects the importance of the market to your business. If the UK packaging sector is your number one sector, reflect it by having a corner stand open on 2-3 sides, some good height and visual branding, hospitality space and on stand promotions and Meet the Expert type events. Put it another way, why not?

    6. Befriend the organisers. Like in any other walk of life, they can give you a great spot next to the seminar hall, near the entrance or near the coffee bar, advance notice and deals on showguide advertising, ad banners on the website and in promotional emails, and opportunities to join the conference program. By not creating a relationship you are reducing your ability to do this.

    7. Integrate the show into your marketing and communication activities. You decided months in advance to attend the show. Tell people. Add it to your website, stationery, advertising, emails, press releases, invoices, statements etc.

    8. Invite key customers & prospects and get them to network. Use your best most loyal advocates to do your selling for you. Everyone knows word of mouth and referral are the best, and easiest routes to new business. Act as the facilitator.

    9. Brief your stand personnel on what to plug, how to act, and ensure they are always mindful of looking open, engaging & interested. There really is nothing worse than the two suited guys clogging the stand, talking to each other or tapping into a laptop. All those thousands of pounds flushed down the toilet as potential buyers stroll by.

    10. Invite editors of the major journals to visit the stand and meet the team. Yes, it’s a tough sell, especially if PR is not one of your strong suits, but by getting editors warmed up to you as a business and what you do, it makes it easier to get releases placed in the future and can help you position yourself as an expert when they write features about the things you excel at.

    Here’s to making an exhibition of yourself, in the right way.

    Image Danburgmurmur Flickr stream