If you had the choice, how much would you pay?

April 15, 2008Comments Off on If you had the choice, how much would you pay?

David Maister points out a satisfaction guarantee I love:

"If you’re interested in seeing whether we are right for you and your team, try us on a matter. What separates us from our competitors is that you have our value promise on every invoice. If you don’t think we’re worth the amount you agreed to pay, you make whatever adjustment you think is necessary. If your other firms don’t walk that walk, it’s time to try Valorem.”

Can this be taken further? "Pay as much as you think we’re worth."

If you like the work you’ll have to pay enough to retain the firm, otherwise other clients will buy their time. In effect, clients could bid for the agency’s time.

…if the Agency is good enough.

Who’s feeling brave?

I’m in the content business, so are you

April 15, 2008Comments Off on I’m in the content business, so are you

You know, I think I’m in the content business.

You probably are too, it’ a big industry. It’s that thin line where our business cousins intersect and scrap for clients. In fact, it’s the industry that crushed public relations, SEO, copywriting and social media.

The content business is good. It’s competitive, sure, but it’s growing. Almost anyone that has a campaign to run, needs some content for it. Leaflets, websites, press releases, social media, it’s all good content.

“How do I get my hairdresser onto the first page of results for Cheltenham?”
“Why is my website not working?”
“How can I get journalists to write about our charity gala?”

Content, content, content!

It’s a deceptive business, content. Many would have you believe that creating content is easy, and they are right. The tricky part is attracting people to that content. Your content needs to form part of a larger movement than transcends you. It needs to stand for something. Bob Dylan was a terrible artist, but formed the core of an important movement. That’s perhaps the best way to think of us, we’re movement facilitators.

Where are the discussions about pitching for new business?

April 14, 2008Comments Off on Where are the discussions about pitching for new business?

A major part of blogging is thought leadership. When you share useful advice you become an expert, and experts are in demand.

As such, agency bloggers are happy to discuss how to score hits, how they are using new technology for their clients and an array of others topics, like recruiting methods. Indeed, they’re happy to share everything except how to pitch for new clients.

That makes sense. We’re all great big collaborators on the internet, striving to make the world of marketing and PR a better place. A rising tide lifts all boats. But sharing secrets about winning competitive pitches, with the very agencies you could be pitching against, is madness.

Or is it?

Is their an advantage to being perceived as an expert on pitching? Isn’t it about time their was a decent discussion about how agencies are pitching for new business? Are you more likely to be invited to pitch if you’re perceived as an expert on pitching? Once you share a pitching tactic, doesn’t it force you to raise the bar even higher?

I don’t know, but I’d love to hear some opinions. Is it ok to discuss pitching?

Strange sources of inspiration

April 13, 2008Comments Off on Strange sources of inspiration

I don’t think anything is more fun in PR than brainstorming. For starters, the food is great. You have a variety of biscuits and doughnuts to nibble on and, if you’re really lucky, chocolate!

There is a lot written about how to brainstorm ideas. The common rules include: don’t criticise ideas – just come up with better ones, be clear about the problem you need to solve to begin with, and set strict time limits for coming up with that idea.

But where does your inspiration come for great ideas come from. I’ve found, more so than anything else, that my ideas have come from the most eclectic mix of sources possible. This ranges from Supermarket Sweep, Thomas Crown Affair, a video of a kitten on YouTube and new twists on successful campaigns I’ve heard about in other countries. There’s a lot to learn from the success of others.

So from which wells do your ideas spring from? Anything especially bizarre?

How many small businesses really fail?

April 4, 2008Comments Off on How many small businesses really fail?

Half of all UK small businesses fail within the first three years, 80% fail within the first five years.

That’s a statistic I’ve heard fairly often. Which would be fine, if it were true. Only it isn’t.

8% of businesses fail to survive more than one year, 28% cease trading within three years and about 40% fail to survive more than four years. *

Mark Pinsent recently noted anti-alcohol lobby groups increased statistics about French drinking habits to suit their cause. It became accepted knowledge. So I wonder who was trying to sell small business consultancy/services to double this statistic?

Now if journalists checked their facts, they would have discovered this mistake and this rumour wouldn’t have spread (Cue: Churnalism).

Anyone else curious about drug-related deaths, online piracy levels or the threat of terrorism?

* Statistics i’ve discovered doing my dissertation.

YouTube Stats

April 4, 2008Comments Off on YouTube Stats

I sincerely hope that no marketing agencies out there were using ‘views’ as the measurement of success for a YouTube video.

Now stats for videos are available. Clients can demand to see how many people are watching the video (not just repeated views) and where those people are from.

You weren’t just getting everyone in your agency, and their families/friends to watch it were you?

On the positive side, those that are producing great viral videos, now have plenty more data to analyse.


April 1, 2008Comments Off on Cheating

Brian Clark drops a real humdinger of a question.

Is it to start your marketing campaign yourself? If you want people to join your Facebook group, is it ok to get your friends to join first – you know – make it look popular?

If you want people to participate in a UGC campaign, do you and your friends create the content at the beginning?

If you want your article to rise up the DIGG charts, do you persuade all your friends to DIGG it?

If you want your blog to appear popular, do you write a few anonymous comments to get the conversation going?

How far can this go? If you want to have a bestseller, is it ok to buy enough copies to make the bestseller list in the first place?

I know a lot of people that would advocate all these. They will do anything so long as they succeed for their client. It might work once, it might work twice, it might even work every time you do it.

However, in the long run, surely the time is better spent understanding why your target audience wont participate in the first place?

A first class upgrade

March 28, 2008Comments Off on A first class upgrade

I was upgraded to first class once. It was on the way back Texas. A young girl’s tray table had broken and she wanted to stay sitting with the rest of the family on my row. So I was upgrade to the empty first class seat.

I hated it, and two people complained – I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt, and reading PCGamer Magazine.

I read today that most business-class only airlines struggle. I’m not sure that’s really surprising is it? Most business airlines fail because they don’t really understand their customers. They think their customers want star-studded treatment, and they’re absolutely right.

The problem is they want this star-studded treatment compared to someone else. They want to know that they’re getting something better than someone else, they want to see some getting the standard economy treatment.

If you take away the economy class, they have nothing to contrast their treatment against. Even worse, if you take away the economy class, all they can contrast themselves against is the first class, the really rich folk.

Has first and business class really ever been about comfort? This year my parents paid a lot of money to fly business class to Canada and back. The comfort is less than they have in their living room, and it lasted a less than half a day. I think just once, they wanted to be the people that the economy class want to be.

Google Webmaster Page

March 28, 2008Comments Off on Google Webmaster Page


I Want To Work With Seth Godin Dot Com

March 26, 2008Comments Off on I Want To Work With Seth Godin Dot Com

Sethgodin Some opportunities are too good to miss, and I’m throwing my hat in for this one.

This summer Seth Godin is offering five summer internships. I can’t think of anyone I would rather work with. Many pay thousands to attend his seminars, I could be paid to learn. Not bad work if you can get it, which is the problem. These places are competitive, perhaps as competitive as any graduate vacancy. Against marketing students especially, applications could be ferociously good.

I’ve long wanted a student to start a blog with the single-minded objective of working for their favourite employer. No-one I know of has tried it, so I’m setting up a blog with the single objective of working with Seth Godin.

Please visit www.IwantToWorkWithSethGodin.com.

For the best part, the blog won’t be about Seth, it will be about finding dream jobs, competing for highly competitive jobs, and exploring the blog-approach to it.

I would love other students to do the same; my sole voice could be a bit lonely in the void. Any support/endorsements gratefully accepted. Let’s see how this one turns out

A new digital agency model

March 24, 2008Comments Off on A new digital agency model

I’m keen to see a new type of digital agency evolve. A modern model which looks a lot like this:

At the ground level, is the buzz. These are the young social media types that get stuck in to all the conversations and communities surrounding their client. Their role will be to find, learn, participate and produce content on behalf of their client. The client might not have the time or the knowledge to participate, but they can hire people to do it on their behalf, people who know the rules and etiquette of social media.

Above that are the copywriting/SEO/Website gurus. These are the guys responsible for the traffic once it reaches the client’s website. They analyse, optimise and convert. They continually monitor and tweak the copy and web design to increase the conversion ratio of the visitors. They can assess the sources of the traffic and identify to the guys below what isn’t working, what is working, and where they can focus their efforts.

At one step higher are the CRM gods. They are responsible for talking to these customers and involving them more in the activities of the business. They will turn these customers into experts and then evangelists. They help supports these evangelists and assist them  to produce their own content. They can effectively become both liaisons and perhaps even consultants on the future efforts/direction of the client’s business.

In time, these evangelists can replace the buzz and the younger social media gurus can move up a level on the client’s account, or switch to another account. Of course, you also have the management, the people responsible for keeping the entire machine well-oiled.

In this model, the agency can charge by results i.e. the actual improvement to the business as opposed to charging by the number of hours spent working on the account.

Perhaps most importantly, you can also improve upon what you do, you can always get more involved, speak to more customers, test/tweak more ideas on the website.

Beat SEO experts with a stick until they go away

March 20, 2008Comments Off on Beat SEO experts with a stick until they go away

SearchenginesWe’ve let the myths of SEO steal away our business long enough, and it’s high time to put an end to it.

Today, SEO is less about the technical (web-language gobbledygook) and more about the mechanical (exciting content). So it’s staggering that the SEO industry is populated by web-developers, when it should be populated by marketers.

So lets dispel a few myths. There is, comparatively, very little technical stuff involved in SEO. First you do a keyword analysis and then you internally optimise the website. Neither is especially difficult, don’t hire an expert; read around and become an expert. What’s left is external search engine optimisation, or as I like to call it, “marketing”.

If you examine the external optimisation strategies of a few top firms, you’ll quickly discover that all the “blog cross pollination strategies”, “semantic search”, and “link-building strategies” are SEO-created technical terms to justify fees, it’s just about creating content (note: be sure to beat down harder on any SEO expert who tries to sell position tracking and any form of website/article submission). Perhaps worst of all, about 70% of the SEO companies that offered this service, don’t do this themselves.

HighPosition.net even offer a “Brand Integrity Plan which identifies and monitors competitors, malicious activity and other risks to your brand to help you devise an anti-competitive action plan” – That’s otherwise known as PR right?

In short, it’s a big fat scam. SEO today is primarily about creating engaging content. It’s about finding that audience, analysing that audience’s problems/needs and then speaking to that audience. And Marketers/PR Professionals are in a far more better position to do that than anyone else. Even better, Marketers/PR professionals are in a far better position to encourage your customers to do this than anyone else.

Search engines were created to rank websites by their usefulness to readers. So just be more useful, create the best content, focus on solving the problem better than your competitors, let Google do what it does best.

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