Posts Tagged ‘Social media’

People still buy from People

July 29, 2010

The marketing, sales and PR mix has been rapidly changing over the last few years. Today, customers are hearing about and evaluating suppliers in different ways. With so many channels the traditional marketing techniques such as TV advertising are no longer working so well. The growth and ease of the Internet has meant there’s less of a need for sales people. Or at least a need for a different kind of sales person and PR message, using social media to get to know customers.

Would you Trust Him? (Danny Devito in the Roald Dahl movie Matilda, 1996)

However, even in this brave new on-line world, the old adage ‘people buy from people’ remains true. Customers want to like who they are buying from and feel that they can trust them. “People ultimately judge only one thing about you: the way the engagement makes them feel”. – Seth Godin. “People don’t buy for logical reasons. They buy for emotional reasons”. The challenge is trust is not quick and easy to gain and it cannot simply be bought.

Customers are no longer listening to the megaphone PR and marketing approach. They now prefer to research themselves and share advice with each other. PR and marketing now pays an increasingly important role as a salesperson. More than ever before PR and marketing has to develop that all important trust. However, how do you trust in a faceless message and person you don’t know.

Blogs and micro-blogging now brings a new way to understand and get to know someone. But it has to be real!! A website has to pre-sell and become a friend.  The question is: how can you trust a blogger or a company website/blog? From all that I’ve leant to become trusted, a blogger needs to be consistent, open, professional and show integrity. Honest as Seth Godin says. The only way is to be real on-line! The draw back with social media is that it takes lots of time and persistence to build social capital (as discussed by Ryan Carson). But then sales take time too – with 8% of sales people get 80 per cent of the sales because they are persistent!

However, I believe for the individual and company to gain credibility, reference points also need to come from other trusted sources. This still relies on traditional channels including independent editorial reviews, peer reviews, customer endorsements, etc. These references remain powerful in an increasingly online world because they are persistent and can be found and discovered by the new clients rather than pushed at them.

People do still buy from people but the process is changing. Blogs, mico-blogging (Twitter) and video’s bring a personal touch to marketing and PR interaction but conversations have to come from the heart. Recent case studies are now showing that Social Media Is The Major Contributor To Lead Generation. So, if you want and need sales as most of our companies do – get blogging, tweeting, videoing right now!!

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Do-It-Yourself startup PR

September 23, 2009

Even with today’s social media channels such as blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc Press Releases remain a popular  form of communication.  PR for a startup is about establishing a new reputation and trying to get people talking about you and your product. However the press are a fickle bunch and tricky to deal with. Getting a mention in a press article or story can be very valuable and worth the effort trying.

Big megaphone

We launch our new website monitoring app to the world live on stage next week! I’ve discussed how to launch a web app before. As a bootstrapping startup we’ve needed to keep costs down. I wanted to get a PR freelancer in to help with the launch however cash is becoming increasingly tighter and so we’re running the PR ourselves.

The press are notoriously difficult to get hold of and engage with, however there is a small chance your message may get through. Doing the PR yourself has it positives. The founder’s know the product and are more passionate than anyone else.  Guy Kawasaki is positive about going it alone PR. Here’s a guide to developing and managing a startup Do-It-Yourself PR launch plan:

  1. Target audience – Be clear in your own mind who they are and be certain you know where they hang-out i.e. what sites they visit and which blogs, newspapers do they read.
  2. Key messages – Decide what they are. Some of this comes back to your marketing straplines and what the company/product stands for.
  3. Target press list – Who are you going to contact and what are their contact details. Find out what  excites and interests these journalists.
  4. Story – Develop a story that the press maybe interested in. It could be feel good, topical or a current trend. Above all the message needs to show how you are different from your competitors. Find good example press releases and learn how to write one. Here’s a useful article on writing press releases: ‘How to: write the perfect press release for journalists’.
  5. Press release – Draft up a press release based on the key messages. Also make sure you have a news and resource page on your website/blog including a range of screenshots and logo’s. Then send out your story.
  6. Pitch – Next get on the phone like crazy and pitch the hell out of your story to the press contacts. Entrepreneurial determination makes the difference here.
  7. Targets – Set some targets for your PR campaign. That way you keep focused and motivated.

Chris Lee, a PR freelancer for startups, has some further advice on managing your own PR.

Timing is also an extremely important factor. Everything including your message and press release needs to be prepared the week before your launch and press contact made during the launch week. Good luck. Your message may get through.. The press are tricky to deal with, however if you don’t try you never know. Remember “Who dares wins” 😉

PR is dead — Long live PR

September 1, 2008

Meet Stowe Boyd. You may already know him — he coined the term “social tools” back in 99′ and today has a strong blog following. I met Stowe earlier this year and have just discovered this video, where he says “PR is dead” . Stowe makes some good points on the changing nature of marketing and PR.

On my previous post The Death of Salemen with “Power to the people” I talked about how the sales process is increasingly changing to consumers (business and retail) listening to each other rather than beliving what salespeople say.  In the same way consumers are no longer believing the PR messages sent out by firms. Mass marketing, in particular PR, is increasingly seen as “propaganda”; “lying” and “phony”, says Stowe.

Firms need and have to change. Stowe talks about firms interfacing into or sponsoring existing communities of consumers rather than trying to create new communities. The difficulty is firms often want to own, manage and control communities. This is now very challenging as consumers will go where the conversation is and can/will move easily to a new conversational space. Firms recognise the opportunity for growth with Social Media and the need to change. However they are finding it challenging to find the right voice required to participate in the conversation as I discuss in my post New media channels: Weakness, opportunity or threat?

We are entering a time of change where the old landscape of propaganda PR is dying and a new participatory world of consumers is being born. Stowe refers to the current revolution on the Internet not being matched by the revolution in marketing and “companies will die off if they don’t get it”.

New media channels: Weakness, opportunity or threat?

August 6, 2008

The way we communicate and consume media is changing. This is affecting old media channels and creating an explosion in the media market. According to a report (download) from Ross Dawson last month the growth in the global media and entertainment market is set to grow from $1.7 to a massive $5.4USD by 2024 (in todays terms). The report was part of Ross’s Future of Media Summit 2008, which Seth Yates did a good review on.


Publishing has come along
way since the old wooden press

New media has brought a change in market dynamics with more consumer choice in how/where we consume and share information. This change is breaking down old media markets. Existing firms are being forced to try and communicate with potential new generational and innovative customers through new media. However Enterprise firm’s social network communities and external corporate blog initiatives don’t seem to be working. This lack of success has reduced the number of larger firms externally blogging according to a report ‘2B2B Blogging Takes Nose Dive’ from Forrester and reviewed by Gavin O’Malley. In addition most corporate on-line community sites are failing according to a report by Ed Moran of Deloitte and review by The Wall Street Journal.

Miguel Gonzalez believes that ‘Corporate culture discourages the kind of openness needed to make a blog — corporate or not — worth spending time reading’. I think the issue may stem from customer engagement and employee trust. The challenge to firms is to be risqué as shown by successful blogs. These blogs present a personal view which can be deliberately controversial to spark conversations. This spreads the word and thus the link. Yes, it’s viral marketing at work again but by a real person and not from a faceless marketing department.

Being controversial is not normally associated with speaking your mind as an employee, with the exception of journalists. Even they are known get in trouble when stretching the truth a little too far. Some firms ban their employees from expressing any opinions on their personnel blog in reference to their industry. This seems a little dragooning but you can understand business fear of reprisal from customers should an employee make front page news. Firms also fear that employees may inadvertently give away secrets to competitors. All this control is probably borne out of a lack of trust in employee’s judgement because of our current hierarchical command and control management systems.

What’s the next innovation after digital printing- Social Media?

Are blogs and new media channels going away? Almost certainly not and overtime they probably will move more into the mainstream. A good but long review ‘Beyond Blogs’ by Stephen Baker and Heather Green from BusinessWeek concludes: “Even if the bubble bursts (Web 2.0)—and we predict it will—the power of social media to transform our businesses and society will only grow.”. I agree, change and evolution is inevitable. So is developing a effective new media strategy important for large firms? Defiantly, because as Ben Parr says social media is about ‘customer retention and growth’; ‘which meets company’s one overarching goal: to increase profits.’ As always the challenge is change and the need to change is getting ever more pressing.

Enterprise 2.0 Boston Day 1 – Tuning in to the thoughts of the crowd

June 10, 2008

How we listen and how we talk to each other is evolving because of Social Media. Face to face conversations remain much the same but group discussions and sharing information is becoming richer with individual expression and involvement.

For example, presentations are no longer a one way street where the presenter talks at the audience with only the brave or loud speaking up to ask questions during the session. The quiet, thoughtful or shy among us, who often hold the most valuable input, have a new voice to express their opinions. Instant Micro blogging platforms such as Twitter enable audience group discussions to be made during presentations under the nose of the speaker. Is this a bad or good thing?

It was in evidence today at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston (USA) and was even being encouraged by the organisers, TechWeb with their ‘Backchannel’, a Twitter type service. Conference 2.0 with two way communication as I called it out to Steve Wylie. It was like watching a voting system where the speaker and their content was reviewed in real-time. This can go very badly for the speakers as with the well know South-by-Southwest interview with Sarah Lacy or very well as with IBM presentation today I sat in on.

Unfortunately it did not go so well for Lawrence Liu, from Microsoft, who brought in real boxing gloves onto the stage he shared with IBM. It seems he was dealt a KO blow by IBM’s Connection product demo judging by the audiences instant blogging silent but strong conversations.

In fact several of the audience, including Susan Scrupski, said to me that the real-time discussion on instant blogging was the most valuable part of the session. It is interesting how the value is within an shared discussion and not what we are told. Perhaps there are lessons to be learnt for management and in encouraging innovation. Conference presenters hold a lot of power over an audience just as senior management do over organisational discussions. Both conversations need to be unrestricted and even nurtured to bring involvement and realise the power and value of many creative minds.

The ‘voyeuristic’ pleasure of watching someone else’s thoughts unfold

April 6, 2008

Having been convinced of the writers addiction to receiving feedback through channels such as blogs and Twitter I turn to focus on why the reader returns to read new blog entries, posts comments or even shares the link with friends. The value to the reader of repeated interactions can include learning new information for social, career or company gain or perhaps it is simply for pleasure.

For many years I have been fascinated by TV programs dedicated to watching others life’s. More recently this has been taken to a new level with Reality TV which I believe was challenged by the Truman Show movie (or reinforced depending on your point of view).

It would seem for many there is a ‘voyeuristic’ pleasure to be gained from watching someone else’s life and the web social media phenomenon maybe tapping into this powerful need and desire. These new technologies give the viewer an opportunity to get even closer to a subject with an instant view into a real, familiar and non-fictional characters life.

Many years ago I was friends with one of the consultants I once worked alongside at an IT consultancy. We both moved to work for Novell at the same time but have not been in touch for many years since he moved to the USA to progress his career. He was very passionate and committed to his work and this is shown on his Novell blog.  Recently he moved from Novell to Microsoft after a conflict over direction, with this highly charged change and emotional fallout played out on his blog. The strange thing is I have rediscovered our friendship through his blog story, although it is only really a one way relationship.

We can now communicate with many close-tie friends, loose-tie contacts and strangers using the new social media technologies with the reader selecting the people who they want to read about whether it be a friend, contact or someone who has interesting or useful things to say.

As a society we have been growing the number of information channels and now the individual can selectively choose the information they wish to receive, be it from a specific TV channel, specialist interest publications or feeds from the Internet. This continuing fragmentation of channels has created a crisis in the media industry and is fundamentally changing how we are being targeted by advertisers. ‘Ad’ based Internet sites such as Facebook and viral marketing campaigns are leading innovation in the marketing industry.

Social media is a developing channel being harnessed by many individuals to market themselves and promote their employers using the ‘Play’ or ‘Act’ of there life to attract an audience. It seems the line between work and home life is continuing to blur with new technology and attitudes changing how we communicate on a personal and business level.


Truman exits one reality into another..
 

White lines that lead to Innovation adoption

March 28, 2008

winnersdontusedrugsimage.png
I would like to thank you, even though I don’t know exactly who is listening, for putting my blog on the Goggle map. My Nickpoint site is 4th on the list of 2150 hits with Wikipedia’s definition of Nickpoint holding the number one slot. What addictive fun this Internet stuff is..

nickpointin4th2.jpg

Teenagers, part of ‘The Y Generation’ and to be our future leaders, started heavily using SMS texting when it first came out. Do you remember the days when we did not have mobiles…email…..fax machines…………our own computers……………………..land line phones? Or the Internet, how did we survive without it! There are some parallels to be drawn between technology innovations, teenagers and the rest of us in this brave new world of Social Media. Enter twitter, another of the new wave of web technologies, which seems to have been adopted by the technology geeks for a coke max effect IM (Instant Messaging) on web enabled devices including new generation mobiles. Twitter sits somewhere in between frequent SMS texting and group emailing on a micro blogging platform and it is reputedly ‘one of the fastest-growing apps in the history of the Internet.’ says the influential Robert Scoble.

If we take a look at Rogers 1960’s innovation curve we can see how technologies such as SMS texting and the other technologies have moved through into the mainstream. In fact SMS texting has become so ‘ubiquitous‘, as our very clever friend Simon Wardly would say who writes alot about innovation and commoditization, that it is used and relied upon by many mainstream businesses for customer communication. For example, we now receive Texts from our credit card companies, gyms, couriers, etc. Twitter and some of the other new Social Media technologies have the poetical to move through into the majority just as SMS texting has.

rogerinnovationcurve.jpg

Yes I know this is a dusty old graph but it is still considered by many to be classic. I am reading Geoffrey Moore’s 1999 ‘Crossing The Chasm’  which is a classic book all about marketing software within the innovation curve and very useful for technology start-ups like ours.

Tom Davenport of Harvard University referred to the mob effect of Twitter at a seminar on his blog. Davenport generally questions the value to business of some of these Social Media technologies, however remains interested and optimistic. Web2.0 has certainly created an innovative testing ground based on free usage, ad funded and attracting users by making the application enticing, even bordering on addictive. However I do not know which, if any, of these new technologies will go mainstream and mainstream in business, I only ask the question. As Socrates said “I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.”.

So, in the words of Grandmaster Melle Mel’ White Lines…Visiondreams of passion….Blowin through my mind….And all the while I think of you….A very strange reaction…..For us to unwind..The more I see the more I do. ‘, for all those 80’s teenagers and Internet addicts.