Friday, December 16, 2011

What the #1 Google search in Canada says about how people use the web

I'm a big fan of using search data to gain marketing insights so when I saw the most popular Google searches for Canada in 2011 come out, I couldn't wait to see the news.  When I did, I was somewhat shocked. 

If you haven't seen them yet, here they are:

2. Skyrim
3. Canada Post Strike
4. Rebecca Black
5. Ryan Dunn
6. Japan Earthquake
7. Game of Thrones
8. Jack Layton
9. Royal Wedding
10. Google Plus

Other than the fact that Rebecca Black is so high (btw, she's #1 worldwide) I was really surprised to see a web address at #1.  While I wouldn't be surprised to see a web address in the top 5 because I see this often with some of the websites that I manage, I was taken aback to see a web address at #1. 

This highlights a few important points about web marketing and usage:

  1. Not everyone is as web-savvy as you are.  I NEVER type web addresses into Google but this tells that many other people do.  
  2. If you're monitoring your organic search volume you MUST remove any branded searches from your analysis.  If you don't do this, you'll think you are doing way better at organic search than you really are because your organic search results will include people who already know your web address and would have been direct traffic if they typed the address in the right place. 
  3. If your web address isn't a trademark, be careful that competitors aren't outbidding you for paid traffic that you could be getting.  However, even if it is, you should watch this anyways as Google may not catch it and prevent somebody else from bidding on your trademark. 
 Pretty interesting stuff isn't it?

Friday, November 25, 2011

It was 35 years ago today...

Today is an important day because it was 35 years ago today that The Band held a concert at the Winterland in San Francisco called "The Last Waltz". 

The Last Waltz was so much more than a concert or a film directed by Martin Scorsese.  It was more than a Thanksgiving feast where the 5,000 people in attendance were treated to dinner and dancing prior to the show's 9pm start.  It was also much more than The Band's last concert together (except for reunions shows with various formations).

The Last Waltz is an important milestone in the history of rock and roll and a key moment in the history of Canadian music. 

I suspect many people aren't aware of The Band's connections to Canada, in fact most of the Band was born in Ontario.  Robbie Robertson was born in Toronto, Garth Hudson was born in Windsor, Rick Dank was born in Green's Corners and Richard Manuel was born in Stratford.  Only Levon Helm was born in the USA, having been born in Arkansas in 1940.  The band spent many of their early years backing Ronnie Hawkins, playing clubs up and down Yonge Street in Toronto.  They had strong connections to other Canadian musicians and those are evident in The Last Waltz.  In fact, many other Canadian musicians including Neil Young and Joni Mitchell performed with The Band during The Last Waltz.  Here's a great example of that, Acadian Driftwood. 

The Last Waltz deserves to be remembered today for a number of reasons:

  1. It was a celebration of the impact Canadian musicians had on rock and roll from it's ascent in the 1950's to the mid 1970's. 
  2. It showed that bands could to go out while still on top and do it with grace and tact instead of fiery theatrics and sub-par music.  
  3. Many of the performances recorded at The Last Waltz are some of the best versions of those songs ever recorded.  (Who Do You Love with Ronnie Hawkins in particular and Van The Man's Caravan to name a few)
  4. It spawned a concert movie that is still today thought of as the best concert films ever made.  
I own a copy of The Last Waltz on vinyl and listen to it often.  I also own the original concert film.   If you're interested in the The Last Waltz, I'd suggest picking up the 4 CD box-set that includes the concert in its entirety.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why Marketing People Need to Understand Communications/PR

In case you haven't noticed, the world of marketing is changing and if you don't change with it, you risk finding yourself in a real bind the next time you need to find a job.  And given the state of the economy and the high-level of economic uncertainty we face, I think it's a great time to rethink marketers plan on "winning the future".

I say that marketers need to understand is the world of communications/public relation better and here's why

  1. As budgets shrink, companies will not be able to afford seperate marketing AND communications departments so as they look to do more with less, resources in both departments may be called upon do to both sets of tasks. 
  2. In case you hadn't noticed, marketing people and communications people are switching sides.  If you think the competition for your role or any job your are applying for is only going to come from people in your specific field, you're kidding yourself.  Read any marketing job description these days and note the requirement "Degree in Marketing, Communications or any related field..."
  3. The importance of social media is bringing together marketing and communications roles as companies struggle to figure out who owns what and how it is best managed.  If you understand what everybody touching social media does, you are well positioned to help your company tell its story. 
  4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) might be a primarily marketing function but media coverage is a great way to get high-quality back links to your site.  Also, if you are employing an effective listening strategy (something communications and PR people are good at), it's easy to find stories about topics that relate to your company/product/customers and join the conversation and get high-quality back links. 
  5. Having great writing skills is important and you learn many things about writing great content from communications, public relations and marketing writers. 
  6. I believe our future is going to be determined by how successful our entrepreneurs will be at growing companies that hire people.  To me this means that we all need to get better at wearing more hats and doing more than just one thing.  In short, I think the day of the one-trick pony is over.  
What do you think? 

My next post is going to cover a few tips and resource that I think are great for marketers looking to understand communications/PR better. 

image credit: bgottsab

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Is it OK to promote ____________ through my personal social media accounts?

One of my least favorites things about social media is when people mindlessly promote things through their personal social media accounts.

I know what you're thinking "Danny, isn't this exactly what social media accounts are for?".

The right answer is "not really".  Social media are for connecting and helping people but this isn't a post about what social media are/aren't good for.  Sometimes the best way to help people and make connections is to promote things, but everyday I see people who seem to have to no idea when it is or isn't appropriate to promote things through their personal social media account.  On a bad day, Twitter looks like a bunch of people promoting whatever it is they are doing at that moment.  I have lots of theories on why this happens but I'll save those for another post....

I hate to answer a question with more questions but I think people need to ask themselves a few things before they promote anything through their personal social media accounts?

  1. Is anybody listening? If you have no followers, no connections or no fans, then you are simply wasting your time.  
  2. Is anybody going to care? Think about your audience.  Who are you connected to and who are they connected to?  I often see people promoting events for their company when all of their connections are friends.  If you aren't sure if people are going to care, why don't you put some thought into what social media platforms you select and how you present your offer.  
  3. How often am I doing this?  Look at the ratio of your promotions vs. interactions.  If you're the digital equivalent of a person standing on a street corner with a megaphone then maybe you should reconsider. 

I'd like to suggest that if the answer to either of the first two questions is "yes" then you shouldn't promote whatever it is to your personal social media connections.  If the answer to the last question is "more than once a week", I'd also suggest you seriously reconsider.  There are people who can get away with it more often than others but chances are you're not one of them.


image credit: ehnmark

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Tips for Creating Killer Marketing Videos

My company recently went through the process of creating a short marketing video to help prospects understand why they need our product and what they need to do.  We worked with Simple Story Videos and here's the video:

I learned a few important lessons during this project and I'd like to share them here. 

  1. Understand your goal: This goes without saying but invest the time up front to make sure that everyone on your marketing and management teams are clear about what the goal of the video is so that you can focus your efforts and feedback.  For us, the goal was to motivate people to download the product and try it.  By taking the time to understand what our call to action was and how we wanted the audience to feel after watching the video, we were able to stay focused because you can create many different types of videos. 
  2. Keep it short: The shorter the video, the more likely the viewer is to watch it.  I hate seeing people invest time and money in long videos assuming the audience is going to watch it.  Creating a short video is really difficult because every word and image is critical in helping to convey your message but you need to be very strict during the development of the script and storyboard in order to pull this off.  Always ask yourself "is that really necessary?  Can I do that with images instead of words?  Is there an easier and clearer way to get that same message across?".
  3. Know your audience: Be very clear on who the audience for your video is and be sure to always look at the content from their point of view.  If something isn't going to make sense to your audience then you need to deal with it ASAP.  Always critique your video from the point of your of your audience and what you want they to do or feel. 
  4. Work your script and storyboard: Script and storyboard development are the most important aspects of the creative process so be sure to spend the time working and refining your script and imagery during storyboarding.  Doing so will help you make sure your don't waste time and money changing something later.  I also recommend making sure you document everything during these phases and that you take the time to make sure your feedback is incorporated into each iteration.  
 Have you ever created a marketing video?  If so, what did you learn?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Why I Voted for Yasir Naqvi in Ottawa Centre

Gary Vaynerchuck talks about passion and hustle in his amazing book "Crush It!", btw I reviewed it recently, and I think that this post is about both of those things more than politics.

On Sunday, I took about 15 minutes out of my day and voted for Yasir Naqvi (Liberal) because I think that you aren't going to find a better candidate or somebody who works harder for Ottawa Centre than Yasir.

When deciding who to vote for in this election, I could have cast my ballot on the basis of political party platforms (I tend to lean Conservative) but in the end, I had to vote for the candidate I knew would be the best for person the job. 

We are in a period of intense economic uncertainty and the task ahead is daunting, regardless of which party wins and what kind of government they formThe truth is that there is lots of hard work to be done and I know firsthand that nobody works harder than Yasir.  

Yasir has probably knocked on every door in Ottawa Centre, twice.  I know this because when I canvassed for him, most people I spoke to had already met him. When did phone canvassing, most people said he had just been to their door.  That's the type of person Yasir is. 
I care about making Ottawa Centre a better place to live and so does Yasir.  I volunteer my time with Computers for Communities, a non-profit that refurbishes computers and donates them to people who can't afford them.  Last year, Yasir showed up unannounced to an event we were holding at 8:30pm on a weeknight because he wanted to meet our volunteers, hear about what we were doing and offer his assistance.  He has continued to support C4C, helping us make important connections with other volunteer organizations and enabled us to amplify the good work we are doing. 

This is what Yasir does. It is what he will continue to do if you vote for him on October 6th.

He works tirelessly for our community and has a record of delivering results. People will often say – Candidate X has worked hard and deserves your vote, while that is undoubtedly true about Yasir, more importantly, our community deserves Yasir Naqvi as our advocate.  

If you want to know more about how you can vote in advance of October 6th, visit the Elections Ontario website.  

Thursday, September 15, 2011

4 Easy Ways to Find Great Content

Everybody loves to find great content.  The problem is that finding the good stuff is hard because there is so much stuff out there.

Here are 4 easy ways for you to find great content: 

#1: Use and follow Twitter lists:  I am finding that people aren't sharing as much content on Twitter as they used to but my biggest recommendation for finding great content on Twitter is to use lists.  Curate your own lists but more importantly, follow the lists curated by others and create a column for the list in Hootsuite or Tweetdeck.  If you're in marketing/advertising, a great example of Bob Knorpp, host of The Beancast,  curates a list of show guests.

#2: Read great blogs and watch for curated link posts:  There are some amazing bloggers out there who put up weekly posts of that lists amazing content.  I'm sure that there are blogs about the topics you are interested in that take the time to curate posts with great content.  Here's a selection of blogs and bloggers that I know do this: 

Mitch Joel:  Shares great content form his network in a post weekly of links worthy of your attention
John Jantsch (Duct Tape Marketing): Shares great stuff every Saturday.
Mediastyle: Does the same each week on their blog with their weekly Style Guide.

I would also like to point out that blog projects often provide great sources of content because you will often get viewpoints from many different sources you might have otherwise heard about.  My friend Jackson Wightman has a great example over at his 52 week blog project on local food in Montreal called Ici et Here.

#3: Visit curated content websites: There are also websites that curate, aggregate and share great content.  Here's a few that I pay attention to: 

Say100: A collection of online voices that help shape conversation by curating and sharing content.
PSFK:  The place to go for inspiration and design ideas on just about everything.
Brain Pickings: Maria Popova has written for many influential magazines and knows what's cool and what is happening.  

#4: Follow people in RSS: If you aren't already into RSS, then I would suggest you check it out immediately using a RSS reader like Google Reader.  One of the best features in Google Reader is that you can easily share items in your feed with people who choose to follow you.  More importantly, you can follow others.  One of the people I follow is Christopher S. Penn, who always shares great content. 

What are some of the ways that you find great content?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Why You Should Be Using Video During Your Job Search

Almost two years ago, I wrote about using social media as part of your job search.  Today, I'd like to take some time to discuss the use of video as part of your job search.

If you are not using video as part of job search or how you market your skills, you're missing out an a huge opportunity, and here's why:

Employers and recruiters want video: Let's face it, potential employers and recruiters are even busier than we are, and video helps them see who you are really quickly.

Nobody is doing it: If there has ever been a way to separate yourself from other applicants, it is video because nobody is doing it.  I keep asking one recruiter if anyone has sent him a video and he keeps saying "no", so there aren't many people using video for their job search. 

It's not rocket science: This doesn't mean it is easy, but doing a video takes nothing more than a camera (you could use your laptop cam) and some decent sound and a clear, well-written script that you can deliver with confidence.  You don't need to create an Oscar-winning film. 

You can paint outside the lines:  With resumes, you are mostly constrained to a few different formats and the standard conventions that will help you get noticed (no mistakes, focus on achievements and highlight specific skills relevant to the job).  With video, you have the opportunity to show some of your personality and what makes you unique. More importantly, it gives you an opportunity to show how your would present yourself in an interview. 

BONUS: Here are tips for creating good videos:

  1. Prepare: spend lots of time writing a script, practicing and figuring out where and how you are going to film your video.
  2. Test: spent the time to do some tests of your video.  Record and then play back and refine.  Trust me, you will learn a lot by doing this.  
  3. Sound: I believe that you record something that looks good with your laptop camera and some good lighting but you need to be sure that you can heard clearly.  
  4. Keep it short: The shorter your video, the more likely people are to watch the whole thing.  
  5. Hire a professional:  If you don't think you have the chops to pull a video off by yourself, considering hiring a professional.  It might not be as expensive as you think and really, isn't getting an awesome job worth it?
2nd BONUS: Video ideals - because there are lots of different approaches you can take.  Why not do more than one of these?

  1. Video resume: Provide an overview of who you are, what you've done and where you want to go.  Considering picking a story or something that isn't in your resume/cover letter and talking about it.  
  2. Book review: Read a book and do a quick review of it and why it's relevant to what you want to do.   
  3. Hire me/Recommendation video: I have to give props to DJ Waldow we created the best video of this type I have ever seen.   
  4. Interview: Connect with somebody interesting or influential in your field and ask them 3 questions.  

Have you ever used to video to find a job?  What did you learn?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Why no recent posts

Meet Murray, our new puppy and the reason why I haven't posted lately.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Why being a marketer is like being a 35 year old bachelor

I have always felt that people who don't really understand marketing have problems grappling with a few of the important concepts that should form the basis for everything that you do in marketing.

At the same time, being 35 years old and unmarried has also taught me about the importance of understanding these same concepts.

You need to manage expectations
In marketing, it is important to understand the expectations of your potential customer and either meet or exceed them.  You never want to promise something to your customers and fail to deliver it.  

The 35 year old bachelor needs to make sure that his mother doesn't think he's going to marry every girl that he dates.  Every girl that you meet doesn't need to think you're going to marry her.  That not to say that you shouldn't treat a woman well, it's just that you have to manage expectations properly if you plan on developing any sort of trust, which is key to every relationship you will ever have. 

You need to know who you are and why you are special
As a marketer, you need to know what your brand is, what it stands for and what your unique selling proposition(USP) is.  You need to be constantly working to refine your USP is and how you communicate it but you should never lose sight of it and you should be communicating it as often as possible.

The 35 year old unmarried bachelor needs to know who he is, what he stands for and why he is special because you need to believe in yourself and what you're doing in order to feel like you are truly worth spending the rest of your life with.  

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

3 Things Your Infographic Should Do For Me

These days, infographics are all the rage.  It's hard to look at your Tweetstream for even a minute without seeing one and most of the time, I find them to be completely useless. 

 In in the above example from Techvibes, everybody knows that everyone is on Facebook and I'm not surprised by this percentage given it's the most popular social network.   The infographic above is telling us what we already know - everyone is on social networks, social networking usage is increasing, most people are on Facebook and usage varies by age. 
If you are creating an infographic you should do these 3 things for me:

  1. Show me something new
  2. Show me something in a way that I haven't seen before
  3. Show me something actionable
Taking widely available data and presenting it in an uninteresting infograph doesn't really help anyone.  Worse, it is accelerating what I believe to be a prevailing situation where everyone is getting infographic fatigue. 

Have you seen any good infographics recently?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Donate Your Lunch Money

Last Sunday there was a  huge storm around Ottawa.  I was at the cottage and we lost power for 48 hours.  As a result of the power outage, we had to throw out any food that was in our fridge. 

Wasting perfectly good food annoys me because I know that there are people in the world without enough food to feed there families.

Right now, 11 million people in the Horn of Africa are facing a hunger crisis.   The UN has declared famine in parts of Somalia. 

There are lots of ways you can help.  

Perhaps you can join me and donate your lunch money to one of the many agencies.  My girlfriend started a Facebook event to encourage people to donate their lunch money and I joining her by writing this blog post.







Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Was John Mayer Wrong to Quit Twitter?

image: Azimo

I read today that musician John Mayer revealed why he quit Twitter.  Long story short: he quit Twitter because he felt it was making his mind smaller and smaller.  He started using it as an outlet for riffing, instead of his instrument.

Having recently read Nicholas Carr's awesome book "The Shallows" about how technology and the Internet are changing the way our brains work, I have to admit that I'm not surprised by his reaction to what Twitter was doing to his him.

But, Is It a Bad Thing?

This is exactly what I always say to people when discussing this topic.  So your brain is becoming better at deciphering and digesting smaller bits of information.  So you are becoming better at searching through large chunks of information to find what is important.

If the world we live in is changing and that change is permanent, is it wrong that our brains are adapting?  Take books for example.  I love books, I still read books all the time but are long-form books going to become irrelevant because we no longer have the attention span for them and if so, is this really a bad thing?  Does your job require you to read a 500 page manual or does your profession require you to read a 500 page textbook?

I Don't Think So

I have always felt that we are lucky to be alive during an amazing time.  Never has so much amazing information been available to us for free and in ways that make it so easy to access.  Our brains need to adapt to be able to handle the onslaught.

I feel that our brains need to adapt in ways that help us pick out what information is important faster.  I have personally felt this happening with my own brain.  After going back to school a few years ago and being crushed by the amount of required reading, I learned how to pick the important points out of the reading material quickly (tip: good writers use specific structure like topic sentences and spotting them makes reading quicker). 

The pace of information, media and technology is increasing and that is a trend likely to continue.  If we don't adapt, we risk falling behind.

Never Forget How You Earn a Living

In John Mayer's case, I applaud him for getting off Twitter.  I felt he was conducting himself like a total idiot on Twitter and in the media, so it's a good thing he stopped tweeting, but he was also smart enough to realize that it was affecting his ability to do his job - making music.

If something isn't helping you do what do better, then why are you doing it? 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Which Way Is The Trend Going?

I frequently have conversations (often debates) with people about companies and industries where I have to ask the question "which way is the trend going?  Up or down?".  I may be talking about sales, market size, competition or even more broader trends like consumer behaviour. 

I believe that people often forget to think about the past, present and future in this manner when thinking about what is going to happen in the future.  Sometimes the trend is moving slowly (although I might argue the pace of change is increasing)
 and it is hard to see the forest for the trees. 

When I think about Research in Motion (RIM) I like to think about the direction of their consumer product sales and their market share in enterprise sales.  I see more and more C-level executives on Apple products and I find it hard to be positive about their future.

I once spent some time selling into the travel accessory and luggage industry.  I thought whether in-store sales of luggage was going up or down compared to online sales of these products.

I believe that, more often than not, a business or an industry is on a slow decline and that decline is often a slow leak like a dripping faucet.  It's so slow in fact, that leaders don't see or are not willing to see where things are going and for this reason, they are slow to react.

It's a shame, because I think you can get hip to where things are going by asking yourself one simple question:

Which way is the trend going?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Keeping Your Chin Up

Hard work is "hard" because it takes focus, energy, attention and effort.  Seth Godin's book "Linchpin" does a good job of detailing why and how you can fight the lizard brain that wants you to sit down when you should stand up, wants you to be quiet when you should speak up and wants you to quit when you should keep going.

I work at a startup that is trying revolutionize home video monitoring and volunteer my time with a grassroots non-profit that tries to bridge the digital divide with little or no funding. To say that I spend most of time pushing against a wall is an understatement and I am finding more and more that I need to figure out ways to stay positive and keep my chin up.

Here are a few of my favorites: 

1) Attend an Industry/Networking Event

Last night I went to HubOttawa's second "Hub and Spoke" event that was all about connecting people trying to do social good in the Ottawa area.  Not only was I inspired by others trying to accomplish and generate new ideas for what we are doing at Computers for Communities, I was able to make a few new connections and give our efforts a much needed push.

You never know who you will meet at industry or networking events or what will happen so get out of your own little bubble and interact with the community around you.

2) Go For a Walk or Bike Ride

Like I say above, you sometimes forget about the amazing world around you.  I find that a good bike ride or walk does wonders for helping to re-energize.

3) Find a New Podcast or Book

Imagine if I were to tell you that everything you ever wanted to know was at your fingertips.  Imagine if you could access that knowledge for free.  

I am a huge fan of podcasts and the public library.  Between the two, I am able to access insane amounts of knowledge for free.  I love book recommendation lists, I love using LinkedIn to see what my contacts are reading and I love asking Twitter for new podcasts. 

A good podcast or book can change your whole life and your way of thinking so take the time to get into both of these if you're feeling like you need to re-charge.

4) Go See Some Art

I'm sure that your city has amazing art galleries, theatre or live music and I would highly recommend that you get out and enjoy it whenever you need some inspiration.

Artists are inspiring because they take chances.  Whenever you feel like you can't do the same, go see an artist and find strength in the fact they do it everyday.

5) Unplug

I have a personal rule: I spend 30% of the time that I spend "connected" totally unplugged.  So if I spend 9 hours connected, I will spend 3 hours unplugged.

The fact that I don't get cell or internet coverage at my cottage means that I am able to relax every weekend without any interuptions.  During this time, I am able to reflect on where I have been and where I am going.  I get to connect with the people around me and live in the present.  As much as I love being connected, being unplugged with always have its charms. 

What do you do to keep your chin up?

Image: theogeo
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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Why doing business online is just like Ribfest

Today is the start of something every office worker in downtown Ottawa dreams about all year - Ribfest

About six or eight different BBQ places set up shop on Sparks Street and hundreds of people line up for the chance to taste smoked ribs, pulled pork and chicken.Oh, and one place had brisket but I'm saving that for tomorrow because I love brisket. 

I couldn't help but think about how a Ribfest is like doing business on the Internet.  

1)  Validation: As you can see the picture, every BBQ place has a huge sign with all sorts of awards, praise and validation that seeks to provide them with some credibility.  Many of the BBQ places had tables and tables of awards.  What kinds of things are you doing to provide validation that you're good at what you do? 

2) What Have You Done Lately?  People don't care that you won something or were popular three years ago.  We want to know what you have done lately.  In the above example, they proudly state that won best chicken last year, not three years ago.  If your site still has awards and praise you won back in the previous decade, maybe you need to seek out something more recent?

3) Loud Branding and Design:  I'm sure the Apple freaks won't agree but Apple probably wouldn't sell a single rack of ribs at a Ribfest.  I love their branding and design but in a crowded street you have only two or three seconds to get somebody's attention and so you better use loud design and branding to do it.  However, I should point out that good designers make good money for a reason and if you don't use a good designer, you'll end up looking like that guy at the cocktail party with an "I'm with stupid" t-shirt. 

4) Service Still Matters: I'm sure that most people who lined up today will do it again tomorrow and Friday.  With every place selling a largely undifferentiated product (sure, they have slightly different product but it is still ribs, pulled pork and chicken) service and the whole customer experience is what will keep them coming back when they could just as easily walk two feet and go somewhere.  Personality can still shine through on the web and so you need to think about what your online personality is like.

Anyways, I have a full belly of ribs and pulled pork... but how do you think Ribfest approximates selling online?

update: wow, just read this over and had to make a few edits.  Never write when drunk on pork. 
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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

5 Twitter Tactics That No Longer Work (... if they ever worked at all)

Twitter logo initialImage via Wikipedia
I have always been a keen observer of how other people use Twitter.  Over the years, I've seen a number of tactics come and go in terms of how useful and effective they are in engaging with your audience.

I am not so sure if these tactics ever worked or if people even cared IF they worked but I think it's time we moved on from using these 5 tactics on Twitter.

1) Following a bunch of people to get more followers: This is still all the rage with people who are new to Twitter.  It's like that asshole at a bar that hits on a bunch of women thinking that if he is successful only 1% of the time, he just needs to hit on 100 women to take somebody home.  Truth be told, the number of followers you have means absolutely nothing because "following" means nothing compared to engaging.  I love getting followed by Tampa Bay real estate agents or car detailing companies in San Diego because I love watching them leave Twitter a month later when they get nothing out of it.  When it comes to the number of followers, I like to ask companies or brands that talk about number of followers to count how many of their followers are marketing consultants, SEOs or other people hoping to get on their radar for the purpose of selling THEM something.

2) Tweeting or retweeting articles from popular sources: In the beginning, engaging people on Twitter was done fairly easily by finding great content and sharing it.  The problem today is that most of the people you interact with online probably read the same sources you do because you shared them in the past or somebody else shared them.  Most of our RSS feeds have become littered with the same blogs and websites and I love Seth Godin as much as the next person but please, I'm sure we've all seen that post.  I should say that I learned this lesson the hard way.  I spent hours each day finding awesome stuff and sharing it.  When I looked at the analytics, it was the really juicy celeb gossip I was finding that people were clicking on the most.  Go figure...

3) Retweeting EVERYTHING: Slightly different than #2, this one is for the people that always retweet and never bother @replying.  I get it, you talk to people A LOT but so does anyone who understands how Twitter works.  When you retweet everything and never @reply, you sound like my 3 year old niece when she repeats everything I say in order to annoy me.  Or worse, you sound like that kid in grade school that tells everyone in class that your friend peed their pants at recess.

4) Scheduled tweets: I have no proof of this but I know there are a bunch of people who load up huge numbers of scheduled tweets.  I have seen the feature in Hootsuite that lets you populate a spreadsheet with a bunch of tweets and tweet times.  Upload it, hit a button and you're all set.  When I saw that, I felt a cold wind blow over me because it made me think of spray and pray email marketing.  Scheduling tweets can be useful when done sparingly but I can see lots of people are spending an hour every week loading up their tweets for the coming week and it looks like you are mailing it in.

5) Automated tweets: If I wanted my horoscope, I'd read the paper.  This is fairly close to #4 but I am seeing lots of people who seem to be importing feeds to load up their stream with quotes, news and other assorted tidbits of useless content.  I'd also like to say this also includes those people that post to Twitter automatically from Facebook and say they are "on Twitter".  I see the Facebook URL shortener and the #FB or #IN hashtag is a dead giveaway.

6) BONUS: over-hastagging:  Personally, I believe that using hashtags for anything other than events such as conferences is a total waste of time because everyone, including bots and spammers, are starting to love hashtags.  I used to follow certain hashtags because you'd get good info from them but now following hashtags is completely unmanageable and I have to watch search terms. I also see people that have co-opted hastags as a form of language and use 5 or 6 of them in a single tweet.  I can't read that many hashtags and using #superlonghastagslikethisone in most of your tweets doesn't really provide any value to anyone.

Are there any tactics you think need to be retired because they are no longer effective?

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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Video Review of Greg Verdino's Book "MicroMarketing"

In keeping with my 2011 New Year's resolution of doing more video work, I recently filmed a review of Greg Verdino's book MicroMarketing: Get Big Results by Thinking and Acting Small.

This review was the brainchild of Glenn Schmelzle, an Ottawa-based marketing consultant to high-tech firms and principal of Marketing What's New.  I'd also like to thank my friend Robert Decher of RDV Productions, for his video production and editing skills.

microMarketing - A book review from RDVProductions on Vimeo.

Here's a really quick summary of MicroMarketing:  The world is no longer one massive market that you can approach effectively using mass-marketing techniques.  Greg takes three main shifts we are seeing in the world (mass markets to micro markets, mass media to micro media, mass content  to micro content) and expands them into seven shifts your company needs to be aware of in order to market in today's marketing space.

As I point out towards the end of the review, there is a great interview with Greg about this book on the Marketing Over Coffee website.  Marketing Over Coffee is a marketing podcast that both Glenn and I love.  

B2B MicroMarketing

microMARKETING Book CoverImage by gregverdino via Flickr
Glenn looks at the content of MicroMarketing through the eyes of a B2B marketer and  outlines some of the challenges in applying the book's concepts.  Glenn points out that the B2B marketer needs to think about generating unique content on a more frequent basis but that you need to keep an eye on sales cycles and how those will impact your marketing messaging.

B2C MicroMarketing

I take a look at the book's content from the point of view of a B2C marketer.  While there are lots of great insight (like thinking about real-time marketing), I point out that Greg does a great job of expanding on the concept of paid media versus earned media.  We hear about this frequently and Greg takes the concept of earned media one step further and cautions marketers to remember that earned media is not free, there is a cost associated with it and that earned media must really lead to earning attention. 

Glenn and I really enjoyed the book and it contains lots of case studies and examples, including links to lots of enhanced content which you can see on the MicroMarketing website.


This was our first attempt at a video book review.  Both Glenn and I would be delighted to hear any feedback you have in the comments on this post.   

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Is Your Marketing Copy Meaningless?

I was walking into my office the other day and I noticed this sign on the restaurant door downstairs.  They have a second level and the first was closed "to serve you better".  I thought to myself "how does this serve me better?"

How often do we see marketing copy, or any copy for that matter, that is riddled with meaningless words?

At a time when attention is extremely hard to come by, why do we insist on wasting our audience's time with fluff?

Additional examples I see often include:

  • "We're sorry but..."   -anything after the "but" is meaningless
  • "To serve you better..." -why not just serve me better in the first place?
  • "______ leading" or "best-in-class" -doesn't mean much when you say this about yourself.
  • "revolutionary"  -please

Anything I'm missing?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Finding a Win-Win

Historical gold price in USD and inflation adj...Image via Wikipedia
I was at an event last night met Angela, who is in runs a her own company, Goldsmart. Goldsmart buys gold. 

The gold buying industry is one dominated by people who spend thousands of dollars on TV advertisements (if you have ever seen Toronto TV, you know Russell Oliver) in order to drum up business.

Angela does things differently.  She helps her customers harness the power of group selling to get better prices for their gold and, by giving up to 10% back to charity, help the community.  Organizations, offices or groups of friends get together and throw a "gold buying" party and it makes the whole process fun, informative and efficient. Instead of spending money on advertising, she gives the extra money back to her customers in the form of higher gold prices

It's really a win-win situation.  People are able to turn their gold into cash, Angela does business and a charity/non-profit gets much needed funds.

As I was talking to her, my brain was going into overdrive... how could I make my business, and how could you make your business grow by harnessing the power of win-win situations?  Do we always have to be looking for a transaction in which money is exchanged for goods/services and that's all?

 Look for ways to further align yourself with the values of your target market.

Consider additional products or services that could be bundled with your offering at no extra cost.

I'm sure that most of us believe that everybody wins in transactions with our firms.  We get revenue and customers get amazing products/services... but is that really the case?

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Monday, May 16, 2011

What are you doing differently than everyone else?

It's Me AgainImage via Wikipedia
Lately, I have started to see many people using the same tired tactics as part of their marketing strategy.

They go to events and live tweet the whole thing.  Then, they go home and write up a summary blog post of the event.  Then they proceed to tweet the blog post four times a day for the next three days.

Retails that run through a series of percentage discounts and frivolous add-ons in order to create the appearance of value in an offer.

Instead of going back to the same old tactics, I would spend a few minutes thinking about:

  • Is there an alternative way to promote this that I haven't done before?
  • Is there an interesting new form of content I could develop to make myself stand out?
I think that marketers (and I might also be included here) go back to the same old stuff in the hopes of getting a new and better result.  In the end, we never get any better and instead just move sideways.

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

There is no place for brands in social media

The Coca-Cola logo is an example of a widely-r...Image via Wikipedia
Everyone loves to talk about how brands can use social media to engage with potential and/or current customers.  Consultants, agencies and outsourcing firms earn thousands (if not millions) of dollars helping brands achieve some level of engagement through social media.

I think any brand looking to engage an audience social media is wasting their time because there is no place for brands in or on social media.  

I firmly believe there is a place for PEOPLE, and so I believe the focus of any brand wanting to get into social media should be:

  1. Finding the right people to represent your brand
  2. Creating a culture and processes that allow them to be themselves 
  3. Developing mechanisms to capture, retain and nurture relationships
  4. Being consistent in your approach

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

My advice for William and Kate

Had another post in the can for today but an interview on CBC with Diana's royal photographer had me thinking about a few things that I thought would apply to William and Kate.

Much of the discussion was about physical touch.  In case you didn't know, you're not supposed to touch a member of the Royal family, unless they reach out to you.  Back in 1987, it was a big deal when Diana touched the hand of an AIDS patient.  There was also a big discussion back in 2009 when Michelle Obama touched the Queen

My advice: Reach out and touch the people.

I believe that in a world where people are becoming closer than they ever have, I would hope that William and Kate harness the power of human touch to create intimacy.  I worry that the Royals are completely out of touch normal people and I happen to think that touch can go along way.

At the same time, I worry that Royals are completely behind the times in terms of new media and social media.  They have a Twitter account but follow NOT ONE PERSON and generally just spew messages into the void.  

My advice: Embrace new media and social media

If you want to communicate with people, real people, get out there and engage with them using all of the new media and social platforms available.  I can only imagine what an impact it would have if they were to produce short Youtube videos messages after their wedding.

Personally, it is hard for me to feel any connection to the Royal family.  I am more concerned with how I might pay for my own wedding someday. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Planting thorny shrubs to deter burglars... or the declining value of a "tip"

'CCTV in operation' sign in a street in Oxford...Image via Wikipedia

I'm not really sure what a "tip" really is anymore.  

Take this amazingly impractical nugget of home security wisdom:  Plant thorny bushes or cacti around your house to deter burglars. 

I read this on Discovery's Channel's site.   

However it must be a popular tip because the BBC reported on it

Given the number of blogs I see turning out the classic "X tips" posts, I  have to wonder.

What is a tip anymore?  A useless and trite piece of info written by a link baiter?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Why is it so hard to measure activity/influence on Twitter?

Being able to measure influence or activity on Twitter is a really big problem. 

Brands spend lots of money, in form of hours, interacting with people on Twitter.  Of course, they like to have something to show for that investment so there is a need to measure that activity and determine some type of ROI.

I'm not going to get into the whole ROI of social media debate but I'm going to say this right now:

Measuring activity and influence on Twitter is hard because it's just like trying to measure how somebody works a room at a networking event.  

I believe that it is best to use a combination of quantitative and qualitative data. 

Here's why:

Looking at number of followers and or following can be misleading. 

Klout score can be misleading. 

Reach-type numbers can be misleading. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Why you need to support your local library

[NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY]Image by George Eastman House via Flickr
If you read this blog with any regularity, you know that I'm a frequent visitor to and supporter of public libraries.

In 2011, I hear people talking about books more than I can ever remember.  Books in the iPad, audio books on Audible, books in the Kindle, but what I don't hear people talking about is the public library.

The reality is that your public library is much more than books but here are some reasons why you need to visit and support your public libraries.

It's convenient: Most libraries have a system that lets you reserve books online and have them delivered to your local branch.  You get an email when the book is ready and all you have to do is go in and pick it up.  At the library nearest to my apartment, I can even check books out without waiting in line.  It takes only a few minutes.

It's cheap: Given the number of books that I read each year, if I was to buy them all, I'd probably be out close to $500.   My library lets me read as many books as I can handle - for free.

It's digital: That's right, it's not just physical materials anymore.  Chances are your local library has a digital collection of movies, ebooks and music that you can download. 

I would also like to mention that your local library might also carry software.  Computers for Communities, I non-profit that I volunteer with, recently donated 10 copies of Ubuntu to the Ottawa Public Library.

Visit your library and let me know what you think...

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What I've been reading

Here's a few quick reviews of what I've been reading lately:

Gary Vaynerchuk "Crush It"

Scott Stratten's "UnMarketing"

I had to wait on this book at the library for about six months, so it was certainly a book I was looking forward to reading it once it came in. 

If the title didn't give it away, this book is really all about relationship management.  Like Joe Jaffe,Stratten is a firm believe that "retention is the new acquisition" and that your business needs to find a way to connect with consumers in a human way and then turn them into customers.

What's really great about this book is that Scott shares his own experiences, including the mistakes, and what he's learned.  The book has lots of short chapters and is written a really no-nonsense way that I really enjoyed.

Worth your time, for sure. 

Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson's "Rework"

Imagine a workplace where you don't have meetings, you don't waste your time writing documents that nobody ever reads and you are able to leave at 5pm.  Welcome to the world of 37Signals and "Rework", and much of the book can be read at that link. 

Cover of "Rework"Cover of Rework

37Signals is known primarily for its work on Basecamp, a simple and easy to use project management program.  Based on the experience with that product and many others, Jason and David have cataloged everything they have learned into this short, but awesome, book.

I am not entirely sure that everyone is ready for the knowledge that is contained in this book because many of the recommendations are fairly radical but it will certainly get you thinking about how you and your office works and ways you could be more productive. 

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Friday, March 18, 2011

Why everybody needs to see stand up comedy at least once

A few days ago, I finally made it out to a comedy night at Yuk Yuk's in Ottawa. I was with a few other friends to see Brian Alkerton and a bunch of other stand up comedians as part of "locals night".

I have always wanted to see a live stand up comedy show and I was really excited.  Oddly enough, I found that I learned a few things that led me to realize that everyone needs to go to see a comedy night at least once.  Here's why:

1) Everyone needs to laugh
Forget about the health benefits of laughing for a moment and realize that we often take ourselves way to seriously.  Also, it's been a fairly heavy week with the earthquake in Japan and nuclear aftermath.  It really felt good to get out and put everything else aside for a while and be swept up in the contagious laughter of a room full of people that have come together to have a good time.  Laughing makes you feel like you're alive, and during times like theses, that's something to celebrate.

2)  Getting over your fears
I can only imagine the courage it takes a comedian to get up on stage.  In many cases, they are speaking about their own lives and letting us take a peak into their inner thoughts and anxieties.  The act of exposing your inner-most self is never easy to do and I couldn't help but tell myself "If they muster the courage to do that, then you can surely summon the courage to tackle a few things that you are scared of".   Watching comedians helps you realize that in order to push yourself forward, you need to take risks.

3) Always look on the bright side
There were a number of comics that spoke very openly (and often in an extremely humorous way) about their problems and/or shortcomings.  In some cases, the source of their material was extremely heartbreaking.  What was amazing was that these comics were able to see enough humor in the situation that they seemed to be able to turn it into something positive. We could all learn from this and stop letting the bad things in our lives hold us down or hold us back.  Instead why not try to see the bright side and turn something negative into something positive.

4) Do something new
I believe that most people have a very narrow list of things to do in their spare time.  They go to dinner, go for a walk, go to a movie and then go home.  Everyone once and a while, find your local even listings and randomly pick something you wouldn't normally do and see what happens.  You might learn something new, meet some cool people or have your thoughts expanded.  Going to a comedy night certainly did this for me!

Have you ever been surprised by what you've learned from attending a random event?

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Friday, March 11, 2011

I'm bored and I'm getting tired

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase
I'm sorry.

This post is going to sound really negative but I'm finding myself really bored and I'm tired of seeing some things over and over.

I'd say that I see them in social media or marketing but the truth is that everything is just one big pile these days and so I'd like to just call it life.

I'm tired of seeing:

People who claim to be "into" social media:  If you have to make this claim, you're probably lying.  I see people all the time who to try to sell themselves to others as bloggers who never blog.   I can tell you never blog because I went to your blog and can see that you blog once in a blue moon.  I ended up on your blog not because I googled you but because you linked to it somewhere next to where you claimed to be a blogger.  Same goes for people who claim to be "into" Twitter who never tweet or who joined in the last six months.  It's like saying I'm an expert sushi chef after I make my first dragon roll.  Just because you say something, doesn't mean it's true.  If you're really into something and really good at it, we can tell and we know it just by looking at you.

Blogging/tweeting recaps of events:  I know that this is a great way to get visibility and that people who aren't at events can still learn but every single time there is an event, I have to see hundreds of tweets about the event and then hundreds of tweets that promote posts summarizing the event.  Why not try to bring something different to the table and talk about something different.  Riff on the topics or speakers.  Tell me something I couldn't have learned from being there or something different from what other people are doing -which to be honest is just reporting.  I know there are people who will argue me on this one but I just see the same "tactics" over and over again and the execution is starting to bore me. 

101 Discussions:  I can't stand going to events, reading content or listening to events that give you 101 level advice about a topic.  Often we see the X things you need to know or the X reasons why you need to do Y type topics and they are driving me up the wall.  It's 2011 and if you aren't doing some things in social media, marketing or communications, then you need to get your head checked, get a new job, retire or step aside because here's a little nugget for you "the pace of change is quickening and if you're still working on a Web2.0 strategy you're going to be miss Web3.0".  I'll send you a postcard from Web 4.0, send me your address.

Anyways, sorry for the rant.  I owe you a beer if we ever meet.

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Marketers suck at marketing marketing

Great discussion between Mullen's Edward Boches and Twist Image's Mitch Joel on this week's Six Pixels podcast.  If you aren't following Edward or reading his blog, you really should.

There's a great line where Mitch says "Marketers are really terrible at marketing marketing" and it's totally something that I agree with.  (it's just after the 21 minute mark).

It's such a shame because marketing is such a dynamic field that can be both creative and analytical.  

Here's why I think marketers suck at marketing marketing:

1) Because marketing is everything.
Marketing is such a wide field that it's hard to describe to people.  It's not one specific thing, it's many things and each of those elements are so different that they have little in common.  Looking at just online marketing, you have social, search, email, web, inbound and how many other tactics and each one in itself is meaty enough to sustain a whole ecosystem.  While there are certain things that apply to all of them, each requires a fairly different set of skills and this makes it difficult describe to people.

2) Because it has a bad reputation.
Years of cold calls, link baiting, spam and crappy execution has given the field a bad name.  Who grows up wanting to be a telemarketer anyway?

3) Because most marketers suck at it.
Marketers can't market the field of marketing because they are just shitty marketers, which is often why most marketers can't sell themselves.  It always kills me to see marketing people who can't sell the most important product - themselves.  You often find people in marketing (and this is mentioned in the podcast) who have no background or training in marketing.  Sure it was a course they took in their MBA but then they fall into a marketing role and all of a sudden they are a "marketer".

4) Because it's hard
Marketing is hard stuff to do right.  It's easy to do terribly but really hard to do right.  The world around us moves so fast that if describe marketing as trying to hit a target in the middle of hurricane.  Anyone can buy ad space and put up an ad but very few can make it convert.  You have to be able to formulate a strategy based on research, experience and gut instinct and go for it.  So when it comes to marketing marketing, we don't do a good job as marketers because frankly, it's hard to marketing marketing.

5) Because most people have no idea what it is
This relates to my first point but people can't sell marketing because they have no idea what it is (it's everything).  I'm still convinced that most people confuse advertising and marketing.  I once saw a group of students in an advertising class do a final presentation of a marketing strategy for TSN instead of doing an advertising strategy. They almost failed.  That's a true story and you should ask me about it sometime because it's pretty funny.

Why do you think most marketers suck at marketing marketing?  And how many times do you think you can use marketing is a sentence?
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