Saturday, 30 March 2013

Latest Research Revealed By Technorati Media: - Why Your Business Must Have A Blog

Technorati’s 2013 Digital Influence Report is hot off the press – and its findings might just surprise you.

The report surveyed 6000+ influencers, 1200 consumers and 150 marketing companies to produce a series of valuable insights that could assist your marketing efforts considerably.
As business owners, we are constantly reminded that building strong relationships is key to producing great outcomes in terms of sales and peer recommendations. And Technorati’s latest research confirms that more consumers are turning to blogs rather than favouring social networks like Facebook and Twitter when looking to make purchases (both online and off).

Although blogs have traditionally been considered trusted sources of information, now that level of trust has moved one step closer to the marketplace, with consumers seeking the opinions of influential blogging communities before reaching for their credit cards.

And while we’re on the subject of communities, the research team found that half of the consumers surveyed believed smaller communities to be more influential sources of recommendations than larger communities.

This is interesting, as frequently we have witnessed some of the major global brands attempting to literally explode the size of their online communities by using the influence of a ‘major player’ in blogging circles, believing this to the path to greatness.

Could it be actually, that a more direct path to greatness could involve building smaller, more exclusive communities, with a team of strong personal influencers on board whose purpose is to attract highly prized members to the clan? The point being, that the popularity of an A-list blogger, say, isn’t necessarily indicative of trust.

Equally, there may be many lesser known bloggers whose influence over their smallish communities is such that forming a good working relationship with these people could prove a real asset to your business (a mutually beneficial one naturally).

The survey showed that 86% of key influencers blog and 88% of those blog for themselves. What is also interesting is that 59% of those surveyed use blogging as virtually their only digital content platform. For these committed blogging folk, the only true indication of success comes from more and more people reading their content.

So the number one priority for business bloggers has to be winning the trust of their audience – and getting people talking about them.

Ideally this process should happen long before products and pricing get a mention.

Successful blogging has always been about providing content people want to read and engage with. Keeping this maxim front of mind when creating a marketing strategy for your blog will help you target the right influencers in the right way – and get great results too.

A New Survey Reports Brand Marketing A More Important Skill Requirement Than Digital Marketing

Marketing a product is one of the most important functions when creating a successful brand. After all, there is no point having a fantastic, unique product or service if your target audience is blissfully unaware of it.

We all have so much information assaulting our senses on a day-to-day basis that unless a brand is screaming ‘Look at me!’ it will never be able to compete. This is why the job of the brand marketer will never fade in importance.

In fact, it has been suggested by a recent survey carried out by recruitment firm Michael Page that brand marketing has overtaken digital marketing as the most important skill for new marketing employees. The firm questioned 500 UK marketing employers and found that nearly a third (29 per cent) had named ‘brand’ as the most important function of a marketing team to help grow a business in 2013. This was up from 19 per cent in the previous year.

The survey found that online and web development had dropped from first in last year’s survey to joint-second, with 21 per cent of marketers identifying it as their most vital skill. Paul Sykes, managing director of Michael Page, said this change may have something to do with the ‘cautious and competitive’ state of the market today, in which ‘brand differentiation’ is becoming increasingly vital to driving market share.

But this of course does not mean that digital marketing is in any way on the decline. How can it be when so many companies today are choosing to conduct almost all their business and marketing online? Email marketing, social media marketing, SEO marketing – the tools and technologies for these are constantly being refined and updated. It is more likely that digital marketing is increasingly being perceived as ‘embedded’ in the entire marketing package.

The research firm Forrester has predicted as much when it suggested that digital is set to lose its prefix and simply being referred to as ‘marketing’ in 2013 as all marketers’ output will become ‘inherently digital’ over the coming months. In its ‘Trends for the B2C CMO to watch in 2013’ report, it warns that marketers must expand the ‘utility and value’ of the online experience their brands deliver.

It advises CMOs to work across departments to assess their digital readiness and identify where messages, actions and products can be improved through digital means. Brand marketing and digital marketing are not really even two separate concepts: they are inherently intertwined.

How Viral Marketing Can Work For Businesses

Viral marketing is the process of using social media and other technologies to increase an awareness of your brand or other marketing message. It is called ‘viral’ because it is analogous to the spread of a disease: theoretically, a good viral marketing campaign will encourage those who see the message to pass it on to several others until it spreads like wildfire.

Viral marketing can be a great way to boost the profile of a business because it’s a fast and easy way to increase its visibility a thousand-fold. People are compelled to share things online that they find interesting, unusual or entertaining.

This is what social media is all about after all.

Imagine that a single viewer shares your message with 10 other people. What happens if each of those 10 other people does the same thing? This is just one way in which the Internet has transformed the world of marketing.

This kind of marketing is also a clever way of improving a brand’s credibility, because people are far more likely to trust a product if they have learned of it from somebody they know. By its very nature, then, viral marketing will build up brand’s image as something to be relied upon – breeding familiarity by proxy, almost. It is also a great way of reducing advertising and marketing costs because online social media is completely free.

The key to achieving success through these means is that you have to be original. A viral marketing campaign needs to be something that will capture the imagination and make viewers want to share it. A recent example of a clever, witty viral campaign was that carried out by the two cable channels MTV and BET in tandem. What they did was to ‘hack’ each other’s Twitter accounts in order to make a series of light-hearted digs at each other. By switching identities in effect they were able to generate mutual publicity for their respective programmes.

The tweets came with the hashtag #MTVhack. Those made by BET made references to MTV’s ‘Jersey Shore’ and mimicked some real-life brand hacks we have seen in recent years, such as Burger King and Jeep.

Whilst the Twitter network quickly twigged that this didn’t seem like a genuine hack, the buzz it generated certainly helped the two Viacom-owned channels to achieve their aims, which included publicising the VMA and BET awards.

One of the reasons this particular stunt has worked is that the nature of it fitted in well with the ‘edgy’ ethos of MTV and BET – MTV, after all, is the channel that brought us ‘PUNK’d’.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Marketing Challenge: Can Tesco Restore Its Customers’ Faith?

In the UK the horse meat scandal has knocked several of the big retailers sideways, and Tesco is one of the most high-profile names to be caught in the fall-out. Indeed, unfairly or not it seems to have become ‘the face’ of the horse meat scandal. The revelation that horse meat has been found in many of its beef products has seen customer trust in its products fall to the lowest levels yet. Its marketing experts are going to have an uphill struggle to restore its reputation and brand image to its previous levels.

Whilst the horse meat issue is not the only problem to have rocked the food industry in recent months it is certainly the most incendiary one. According to Canadean Customer Solutions, which recently spoke to a cross-section of 2000 consumers, nearly 40 per cent of shoppers are less trustful of their main supermarket in the light of the ongoing scandal. More than half, meanwhile, are sceptical about the quality of their supermarket’s meat. Downing Street has insisted that it is now the responsibility of the retailers to restore consumer faith.

So what steps has Tesco taken so far? To begin with, it has sent letters to its customers, and its chief executive Philip Clarke gave a talk at the National Farmers Union conference in February. It has also run national press advertising to discuss the scandal and reassure consumers that it is taking the issue as seriously as they are.

Clarke said: “I know that the discovery of horse meat in products sold in several major retailers, including Tesco, has shaken your trust in food retailers and the products we sell. You’ve told us that you want to buy British. And that the journey from farm to fork should be far less complicated. I’ve listened to what you have said and we’re making some real and lasting changes.”

This last issue is a key one: maybe what Tesco needs to do is actively show itself to be in control of the supply chain. The length and sheer complexity of the chains needs to be shortened in order to give consumers more confidence that they know where their meat is coming from. It should now be the job of marketers, not just buyers, to understand the supply chain and find ways to make it clearer to the average consumer. This will also aid them in their task to position products correctly.

Using the Internet and social media will be an important tool in aiding Tesco’s recovery, because it promotes a real dialogue between retailer and consumer. This means the consumer is more likely to feel their concerns are being taken seriously. It has already made a step in this direction with the setting up of to address some of their fears. The aim of these marketing efforts should be to create greater transparency, rather than shying away from controversial issues, but also in some way to remind consumers what it was about Tesco they trusted in the first place.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Could Your Company Benefit From The Wisdom Of A Business Coach?

These days everyone seems to want to position themselves as a ‘Guru’:

Internet Guru

Small Business Guru

Marketing Guru

Branding Guru

Sales Guru

PR Guru

Why there’s probably even a Guru’s Guru somewhere . . .

But enough of all that nonsense.

If you are looking for some down to earth sound advice about growing your business for maximum profit – how to do more of what works in your business and cut out the stuff that doesn’t – then investing in the services of a business consultant who will coach you to success, could be a worthwhile solution for you.

“I read all the latest business books and keep abreast of the developments in my industry. What can a business coach possibly offer me that I can’t do for myself?”

Well, a couple of things actually.

Firstly, a business coach can provide an objective assessment of where your business is at right now, measured against where you need to be. As a business owner it can be incredibly difficult to view your business objectively. After all, this is your ‘baby’ so to speak – and if you are like 95% of business owners, you are likely to have a ‘blind spot’ when it comes to analysing the weak areas in your venture.

But working alongside your business coach, it won’t be all theory either. Your coach will offer you practical solutions for getting your business up to scratch – proven methods which really do work – things you and your associates can do to get the results you require in your business.

And secondly, you will receive the best marketing coaching money can buy. If for example you have ignored your website or blog for some time now because you can’t afford to pay someone to do your SEO, your designated coach will teach you what needs to be done and when to optimise your site(s) and curry favour with the search engine ‘spiders’.

These days, all businesses need to be mindful of their budgets and ensuring they get value for money when buying in services, so engaging the services of a business coach whose knowledge and expertise bank you can dip into ‘on demand’ could make a huge difference to your bottom line.

Best of all, this high-value coaching service delivered by a business consultant with many years of experience, will be tailor-made for you and your business alone.

And not a single Guru in sight – thank goodness.