This infographic from Fusework Studios offers guidelines on how to get more engagement on Twitter with just a few simple tweaks.
A Twitter infographic by Fusework Studios
Monday, April 1, 2013
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Changing behaviour in organisations is one of the toughest challenges communicators face. IABC Canberra presenter Tina Chawner recently offered insights on the subject based on her UK experiences.
Thursday, March 7, 2013
At the recent Content Marketing World Conference US author Jay Baer unpacked his concept of Youtility: marketing so helpful customers would be willing to pay for it.
And Youtility is what can make you stand out in a flat economy. Particularly when people have limited money, short attention spans, an overabundance of information and are spoiled for choice.
It used to be salespeople provided information then closed the sale with customers relying on them for product knowledge. Now their job is to close the sale with savvy customers armed with online research and willing to move on if they feel something is not right.
The role of the marketer is also transitioning - from hyping products to helping customers - offering accessible and timely information that will help their customers make decisions and become brand loyalists.
Jay outlined six steps to build a content marketing strategy to set you apart in a tight economy:
- Discover customer needs through market research, keyword search, social chatter etc.
- Map those needs to a specific service or product your organisation has.
- Develop user-friendly information around that product through case studies, tools, tips, apps, videos and other devices.
- Distribute and then market that content through the channels where your customers live.
- Skill your staff to continually come up with information to help customers.
Most importantly recognise that helping customers is a process not a program and marketing today is a marathon not a sprint.
The age of content is new again
Four ways to drive content marketing
The age of content is new again
Four ways to drive content marketing
Thursday, April 14, 2011
If you recently travelled Qantas from Sydney, you will have used the airline's automated check-in and bag drop services.
The DIY check-in has been around a while but the self serve bag drop is new.
Qantas seems hell bent on using automation to contain costs and remain competitive. For example it is cheaper to book a Qantas ticket online than over the phone. Hopefully all this results in better priced travel.
Of course technology is replacing people in many industries. But is it the best strategy? The more hi-tech our world becomes, the more we crave hi-touch. As humans we want to engage with others when we travel, bank or are otherwise involved in transactions where making errors can cost us. Rightly or wrongly we think dealing with people is less risky than dealing with microchips.
With the new automated bag drops (which are clumsy to use) aircrews may now be the only Qantas staff most people ever meet. That means the pressure is firmly on hard worked cabin staff to carry forward the company brand.
In recent times how often have you remarked on improved service when you fly? Probably not very often. Increasingly air travel is a frustrating experience. Airport parking fees are exorbitant, restrooms are smelly and on planes and terminals you pay high prices for everything including the coffee. 10 years on from September 11 security checks remain onerous.
By removing people-facing staff, Qantas has embarked on a high risk strategy. How will the cumulative effect of these changes be seen by customers? Will they be happy dealing with machines or do they prefer the friendly staff for which QANTAS has become rightly famous? The accountants might be happy but the marketers must be holding their breath.
It will be interesting to see the data on Qantas' customer satisfaction levels 12 months from now. My feeling is the new measures will be as popular as going through airport security.
In previous times Australians used to applaud the pilot when the plane landed safely. However in less than a generation air travel has gone from an experience to a commodity.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
If the Australian Defence Force loosened its control over communications it would gain more control over its public image.
I say this as the Australian Defence Academy is embroiled in a sex scandal which Australia's media is reporting in detail.This latest incident follows a litany of problems with the public image of Defence. These include claims of ongoing equipment cost blow-outs, inappropriate behavior by service personnel, poor maintenance and pay glitches suffered by frontline troops.
Defence is known for keeping an iron grip on its media relations and communications with the public. This must frustrate the thousands of servicemen and women who perform creditably each day often in tough, tough circumstances. They really deserve to have their efforts recognized.
Occasionally we learn about their work but mostly it is rare for Australians to meet a serviceman or woman in the course of a normal year and hear or see what they do.
I also know a lack of information from Defence has frustrated the generation of journalists I have worked with.
Australians have a deep affection for their soldiers, sailors, airmen and women stemming from the legend of the ANZACs. So perhaps Defence would be better served sharing their stories in a open, transparent way with rest of us rather than only communicating when faced with scandal.
Disclaimer: I served 30 plus in the Australian Army including as the Army's first Director of Public Affairs.
Sunday, April 3, 2011
‘Content is king’ is an old marketing maxim. According to US authors Joe Pulizzi and Newt Barrett, content is now the undisputed monarch when it comes to successful marketing.
With so much choice and so little difference between many product and service offerings, the best way to engage and keep customers is to give them valuable information that will enrich their experience with your organisation.
Internet-savy customers look everywhere for information before making their buying decisions. Selling to them has become more difficult and traditional media channels are less influential. Pulizzi and Barrett are urging companies to take advantage of new digital technologies to become their own publishing houses and deliver high quality editorial content to the people who matter most – clients and customers. In over 250 pages of delightfully simple to understand language they show the reader how to develop and follow through on a content marketing mindset.
A content-based approach starts with knowing what customers want, similar to traditional marketing. Who are my customers and what do they need from my product now and in the long-term? What and when is the best way to engage them are questions that demand better answers than merely reaching in the bottom drawer for another tired advertising schedule. In today’s environment it is totally about ‘them, not me and you.’
Pulizzi and Barrett identify how companies can deliver information straight to customers. Their communications menu includes websites, on-line forums, social media, e-books, white papers, webcasts, digital magazines, blogs, podcasts, videos, road shows and face to face contact. Corporate magazines and newsletters get a new lease of life under a content marketing strategy and the authors identify 15 tips to repurpose information from a traditional company magazine to increase the return on investment on each story.
One of the book’s real strengths is the 15 case studies showing companies in different industries using content marketing to drive sales and increase market share. They include a couple of Australian examples, a rare find in US marketing books. It seems Melbourne-based, website developer Bitemark is using content marketing to create leads and drive sales and giant American manufacturer has strengthened ties to Australian customers through a print and on-line program that bridges business cultures.
Marketing instinctively know the importance of credible information. Get Content Get Customers shows how to develop that information and deliver it directly to customers to get short and long-term impact.
Get the book because this is a worthwhile read.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Persuasive communications have always been important. Today they are the new communications black because we live in an era of challenging and challenged messages for which we can lay the blame squarely at the feet of politics.
Over the past two decades citizens around the world have developed a heightened level of wariness about what they see, hear and read about the events around them. Politicians with their insufficent explanations or plain mistruths have taken the lead in devaluing the public discourse.
Which makes it that so much harder for the good guys: the not For profits who need to pass essential information to their communities. Alas these days there are no free passes for any organisation when it comes to communications. Every ear, every eyeball and every heart string has to be earned.
Every ear, every eyeball and every heart string has to be earned
Not for profits are therefore forced to adopt the strategies and tactics of the big end of town when it comes to building and delivering persuasive messages. And this includes wrapping persuasion packaging around a core set of key messages such as:
- Testimony from happy clients who benefit from a not for profit's services.
- Stories of front-line staff making a difference.
- Endorsements by relevant celebrities, local leaders, academics and other public figures.
- Comparisons with the successes or failures of like minded groups.
- Contrasting an organisation's services with a situation where they were or are not available.
- Presenting data and detail showing how a not for profit makes a difference.
- Independent research showing why an issue is important and how it is trending.
- Using all communications channels to cater for all the different ways people consume information.
- And of course using simple, plain language to inform a community bloated on a massive communications overload.
Sunday, January 9, 2011
Key influencers are one audience with the power to help or hinder your communications efforts particularly if you work in a not for profit organisation.
They are the individuals others turn to for advice, information or help when it comes to making important decisions. They can boost your communications efforts by helping you to reach individuals or groups of interest and by swaying opinion and encouraging action. In previous times key influencers relied mainly on personal contacts to pass along information. However with today’s explosion in social media and on-line platforms the key influencer is often an e-influencer.
Key influencers draw their authority from their organizational status, personal qualities or any combination of both. They might be experts in their chosen field or enjoy professional respect such as doctors, teachers etc. They could lead professional associations, government agencies, businesses or community groups. Or they might get pleasure from sharing their specialist knowledge or experience through networking. Sometimes celebrities, movie stars or sportspeople are recruited to support causes. While they might create publicity, the community can smell out paid endorsements and their value can be dubious unless they have a genuine commitment to the cause.
Common types of key influencers for local not for profits are:
- Members of Parliament, funding staff in government agencies, civic or city government leaders.
- Business leaders.
- People the media routinely quote as authority figures.
- Leaders of patient groups, school committees, service clubs, sporting bodies and other community groups.
- State and national advocacy organisations.
- Academics with expertise in an issue.
- People recognised through national honours and awards.
A key influencer can help a not for profit in three ways. If they believe in your cause they can give it credibility by championing it within their networks. They can “translate” information into language others can understand and are well placed to pass on information through their own organization’s online and other communications channels.
Key influencers can also help by:
- Referring potential clients to your services or information.
- Encouraging people to support your cause and to attend your events.
- Inviting you to speak at their gatherings or by appearing at your events.
- Backing your issue in the media, on-line and in daily conversations.
Key influencers vary from environment to environment. For example you may be influential when it comes to advising on not for profit services. However others would probably not seek out your advice on buying a car – unless they felt you had proven expertise in automobiles.
Saturday, January 8, 2011
This past few days I have walking in the Snowy Mountains, Australia's alpine region. The area around Thredbo has plenty of challenging hills.
My wife and I decided to climb a particularly large hill which took several hours and considerable effort to conquer. Which got me to thinking that marketing is similar to climbing hills in many ways.
- Firstly you need the right gear for both. Ramblers need appropriate boots, wet weather gear, packs etc. Likewise as they start out marketers need the right equipment - a plan, resources plus ample energy.
- Both demand certainty in direction. You can burn a lot of energy on a climb if you amble aimlessly and even then still not reach the peak. A marketer needs to travel in the same consistent direction throughout a campaign otherwise worthwhile results will remain elusive.
- Persistence pays in both undertakings . They require a "one foot after the other" approach . Sure you can sprint up a hill or even through a marketing campaign but that type of effort is rarely sustainable in the long run. Particularly when another hill or challenge suddenly presents itself.
- And finally in hiking and marketing you need a reserve of energy and effort. Something in the tank so to speak. What a pity it would be to reach the top and not be able to follow through to grab the next opportunity.
So the next time I market I will be applying what I recently learned about climbing hills.
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Most organisations want to reach as many people with as much information as possible in the shortest possible time.
This is a natural ambition because they think this will speed up their chances of success. After all we humans are an impatient lot and demand instant results.
The cold, hard truth however is most of us have limited budgets, time and energy levels so reaching everybody quickly becomes expensive and exhausting. We simply do not have the dollars or stamina for this so we need to rank or prioritise our audiences.
Start out by asking which individuals and groups matter most to your business?
The answer will lead you to identify your must reach audiences and help to put a laser-like focus to your marketing. The must reaches are people on whom you depend heavily, who are or will be personally affected by your work or who can markedly influence the success of your services. When it comes to giving attention they must be your number one priority. Most often they are your staff, volunteers, current and potential clients or customers and of course people with the funding.
Another significant group is those who can help you at some point or might benefit from what you offer. Their support is less critical so you do not need to spend as much time with them. They could be regulators, kindred organizations or even professionals that refer people to your services. Of course they still need to know about you but not as often as the must reach group.
A lesser priority still are the people who need occasional information. For example your local community becomes important at fundraising time but probably don't need to hear from you continually throughout the year.
It's wise to set achievable audience priorities yet recognise they need to be regularly reviewed as your circumstances and operational environment change.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Before beginning a new communication journey, it is worth reflecting on the current state of your organisation’s PR and marketing. A communications audit provides the opportunity to review your efforts and assess their effectiveness.
A communications audit is a valuable exercise whether you are a large or small not for profit. It provides a handy reference point to assess what is working and what is not. Based on this you can then decide what to continue with and what to abandon.
In my workshops I ask groups to complete a simple audit template which takes around 20 minutes. An extract is below.
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Gather those who are responsible for directing and those who are responsible for carrying out your PR and marketing to complete the audit. Often in small not for profits these are the same people. It is handy to have the CEO or Chairperson involved because they know what is coming up, set future priorities and importantly control the communications budget.
Limit the audit to what you have done in the past 12 months and begin filling in the template.
In the column labelled Communication activity individually list what you currently do. For example you might use:
- Print collateral such as brochures, fliers, newsletters. Even list your annual report if this is how you make key people aware of what you do.
- Media relations such as media releases, interviews, media conferences, letters to the editor.
- Digital platforms such as your own or others’ websites, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, Twitter, Foursquare.
- Events such as those you stage and those where you join with others.
- Word of mouth marketing such as liaising with influential people and asking clients for testimonials.
- Advertising such as radio, TV, newspapers or on-line advertising.
- Direct marketing such as direct mail, email campaigns, telesales
- Other activities.
In the column labelled Frequency write down how often you do these tasks. For example it could be something you do regularly such as keeping in contact with funding agencies. Or it might be something that happens throughout the year such as approaching the media. Or it might be something occurring once a year such as publishing the annual report.
In the column labelled Budget you need to identify the dollar cost of each activity and the number of hours spent on it each month. Small organisations often have little to spend on marketing and PR, but compensate by devoting considerable time to communicating. It is important to identify both types of costs.
In the column labelled Very effective place a tick for a particular activity that you regard as successful and would want to repeat. Or you might rate an activity as effective (which is still a high score) so place a tick against that item in the column labelled Effective. Or you might judge something as just not working, so tick the Not effective column.
Each communication task can only have one effectiveness rating and assigning a rating is based on either on evaluation data you have collected or an educated best guess of what works and what does not. (More on evaluation data in a later blog post .)
A completed template shows at a glance the relative effectiveness of each item on your communications menu. You can now decide what to keep, improve or ditch. Ideally you would want to continue an activity that was low cost in dollar terms and staff time but very effective. Something that was effective but expensive might warrant more effort to make it work even harder. Something graded not effective needs a massive overhaul or should be dropped.
You should conduct a simple communications audit least every 12 months and make sure you keep a record. This then becomes an important document from which you can judge your progress.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
A charity would never think of providing food to the homeless without the proper arrangements in place? A not for profit would never schedule respite care without preparations? A green group would never save a river without researching the best ways to undertake the task. Not for profits continuously plan their next steps.
Yet when it comes to PR and marketing, many organizations work in a haphazard fashion, improvising as they go. The committee cries out. We need a brochure, build a Facebook fan page or get us on the evening news. That is often enough for someone to be off and running with little thought of a larger marketing picture.
Effective communication does not have to be elaborate or expensive. But it does have to be planned. A simple plan focuses efforts, ensures money is wisely spent and harnesses staff and volunteer effort into concrete actions which lead to a desired end point. A communication plan is as important as other key business and corporate strategies and flows on from these documents. In turn it contributes to their successful implementation. You need a plan but it does not have to be complex.
Unless your organization is small with only a handful of members you need to document your communication goals and activities. A written plan ensures everyone shares a common direction, removes doubt and allows your achievements to be measured.
A simple, short document will meet the needs of most small to medium-sized not for profits. Often a four to five page plan covering a 12-month period will be enough to provide direction for your marketing and PR efforts.
Communications plans vary between organizations but most identify:
- Objectives: the communications fundamentals to achieve.
- Audiences: the people you need to reach.
- Messages: what you want to tell people.
- Tactics: how you will get information to your audiences.
- A timetable: what happens and when.
- Budget: how much you have to spend and on what, over the life of the plan.
- Measurement: how you will measure your efforts so you can improve.
- Responsibilities: who is doing what and by when.
Not for profits are dynamic organisations and change constantly. For example you hire new staff, get new clientele or your funding varies. Therefore your communications plan should be flexible rather than set in stone and has to be vigorously reviewed and updated so it remains current and relevant.