The A-Z of Personal Branding

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What do you do before a meeting? Do you Google the person you are meeting? Do you look up their profile on LinkedIn? Do you stalk them on Facebook? Do you go to the trouble of talking to people that you know in common?

No doubt, a large part of this research will be done online. And while I often wonder if there really is such a thing as “personal branding”, it seems clear that our “digital footprint” has an impact on the people we meet, connect to or pass on our digital travels.

And given this is the case, there are some basic things that are worth doing. I call it the “4 BEs” – be found, be known, be trusted and be successful. But the folks from Placester have put together this interesting infographic that goes into some depth around personal branding. You don’t have to do all 26, but covering most of these will see you well on the way to making sure that your personal brand, digital footprint or online identity has all the bases covered.

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The Buyer’s Journey Takes the Long Road

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A marketer’s job would be so much easier of customers followed a set path. In fact, if buyers could fit into a convenient model that allowed us to identify, track, monitor, engage and convert them, life would be rosy. But this is never the case.

If we take a moment to consider the buyer’s journey based on our own experiences, we can yield insight but also understanding. Think, for example, of your last major purchase:

  • How much time did you devote to research before your purchase?
  • How many times did you test, validate and change your mind?
  • How long did you wait before you actually engaged with a salesperson?
  • Who did you ask for advice, reviews and input?
  • What were the prompts that helped to trigger your decision and purchase?
  • How much time did you spend online (email and mobile included) in the leadup to the decision?

Now, consider that your customers are going through very similar processes. Oracle Eloqua’s latest infographic provides some insight into this process. Clearly, their focus is on automating the process of marketing, but importantly, they are also showcasing the important role of integrated marketing. After all, we rarely make a decision based on a single interaction.

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Time to Bring Down the Search and Social Silos

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When I first joined the ADMA expert group for social media, there was a separate expert group for search. But as we met and discussions flowed, it seemed obvious that the two should merge. After all, when it comes to all things digital, search and social were – in most cases – essential collaborators. Or should be.

In many cases, however, search and social are kept at arm’s length – each claiming digital marketing top spot.

There is no doubt, however, that combining search and social has a much more powerful impact on almost any of your metrics. And with Google’s recent announcement around shared endorsements, this impact will become more formally entwined. Those who continue to resist social media’s siren call, or who keep the artificial silos in place across their marketing teams, will start to see performance of both search and social flounder.

The only way ahead for digital is integrated. And for 2014, you can expect this to accelerate and broaden. It’s time for the walls in your marketing silos to come down – and this is the year to do it as this infographic from Prestige Marketing shows.

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STHLM #12Creative Commons License Thomas Leuthard via Compfight

Spoken and Unspoken Rules of Social Media

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When I first started blogging I voraciously read Darren Rowse’s Problogger website. It seemed like every conceivable issue I was facing had already been tackled and fixed by Darren. Similarly, I followed Yaro Starak’s advice, thinking I’d tread the entrepreneurial path. And when it came to marketing, I’d look to Olivier Blanchard’s insightful Brand Builder blog.

But I wasn’t really looking for a “how to guide” – I was seeking to learn the ropes. To understand the ways of this new, digital world.

What I realised pretty quickly was that this brave new world was not so unlike the scared old world that I was leaving behind with every tap on my keyboard. The lifeblood of social was relationships and the currency of that relationship was trust. And, really, the only way to learn the ropes was to participate – voyeurism can be fine for a while but is ultimately unsatisfying.

The deep water of social media, however, can be managed effectively with a few simple rules:

  1. Don’t swim with sharks: We have an inbuilt radar for detecting danger and threat. In the real world (IRL), the hair stands up on the back of our necks, a little voice whispers in our ears and we cross the street to avoid an unpleasant person or situation. In the digital world the same approaches apply – yet we seem to turn off our threat detection system the moment we turn on our computer. Be sure to keep an eye and ear out for scammers. Trust your friends – the ones you know IRL. Don’t click random links in email or send money to people you have never met. Don’t believe strangers when they tell you how much better they can make your website.
  2. It’s not rude to ignore people: Following on from the previous point – if you don’t know someone IRL, it’s fine to ignore them. You don’t have to “friend” or “follow” someone who follows you on social networks. You don’t have to answer a random email. Develop a healthy sense of scepticism and you’ll be fine.
  3. Don’t publish anything you wouldn’t show your Nan: Yes, I did say “publish”. It’s important to realise that everything you put online is a form of publishing. That means it’s trackable, findable and traceable. Google will find it eventually. So before you go an have that argument with a stranger; before you flame your boss (when you think she’s not looking); or before you start sharing those photos of your ex that you really should delete, think again. If you wouldn’t say or show your grandmother what you are going to publish online, then your best bet is to save it for home.

But if these three rules are not enough for you, you’ll love Jeremy Waite’s 80 Rules of Social Media.

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Via BitRebels.

Tablet Market Up for Grabs

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When the iPad appeared on the scene its dominance was all encompassing. But just as the battle for marketshare in the smartphone market is shifting away from Apple’s iPhone towards the plethora of various Android powered devices, the tablet market is seeing a similar pattern emerge.

Apple now holds less than 30% of the tablet market which is down from almost 50% at the same time last year.

In this infographic, eBay Deals, took a different approach – and rather than just relying on pure sales data, they analysed thousands of tweets, search data, YouTube views etc. The aim was to reveal not just market share (which we know), but aspects of behaviour, sentiment and – dare I say it – love.

And in this respect, Apple’s products continue to perform well. But interestingly, it is Google (not Android) that seems to be emerging as a strong competitor in the “tablet passion” stakes. And that – for Apple at least – should be more worrying than the sales figures – after all, one is a leading indicator of the other. And that early dominance can easily be squandered.

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"iPaid too much" Asim Bharwani via Compfight

Kickstart Your Campaign with Video

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The crowdfunding platform, Kickstarter, is a fascinating microcosm – it brings together all the elements and challenges of a business often before that business exists. So in many ways, a Kickstarter project is a pre-startup startup – and accordingly it faces many of the same immediate challenges. But where startups sprint towards product, Kickstarter forces a path towards market development. Those who can’t market, don’t win. And like current marketing trends indicate, video plays an increasingly important role in that process.

Research from MWP Digital Media shows that Kickstarter projects that have a video are 85% more likely to achieve their funding goals. This tends to match some of the trends we are seeing in broader marketing circles – with YouTube and Vimeo consumption continuing to rise – impacting not just brand and engagement metrics but also working at crucial junctures in the path to purchase.

Video, however, is a steep learning curve – so there are obvious benefits to outsourcing. But new features in familiar apps/platforms like Instagram and Twitter (via Vine) make it easy to experiment. And I have a feeling that the role of user (or brand) generated video content is only going to accelerate in the next 12-18 months. I have already begun testing this out for myself and with clients.

These days marketing never sleeps. I hope this shift isn’t catching you napping.

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Digital Ad Spend Grows But What About the Investment?

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When I look at infographics, I am looking not just at the facts and figures (boring) – I am looking a the underlying story. I want to understand what is taking place behind the numbers. I seek insight and connection between the sources of information, the behaviours of the industry and opportunities for the future.

So this infographic from Invesp, fired up my neurones.

Summarising the state of play for the digital advertising industry globally, it shows just how dominant Google remains in the face of challenges from social networks. A staggering 42.6% of ad spending finds its way into the search giant’s coffers, while Facebook, Yahoo! and Microsoft duke it out for less than half of that combined.

From an industry point of view, growth in digital advertising indicates a certain level of health. It shows that digital has firmly moved out of the experimental mode and is now a core part of a marketer’s arsenal. But it also raises significant questions – after all, if spending is increasing, are we also seeing a rise in investment? And by investment I mean:

  • Evaluating and implementing marketing platforms and technologies: Pumping more budget into digital is going to also shift the focus towards digital engagement. After all, a digital call to action can result in a click, a download, a sale and so on … and if that is the case, what investments are marketers making in terms of marketing platforms and systems of engagement? Which platforms are you evaluating for marketing automation or social media management? How are you tracking conversion, monitoring the velocity of online conversation and improving rates of conversion? CMOs should evaluate their marketing processes and look for automation opportunities.
  • Building the capacity and experience of your teams: The digital marketing skills gap continues to widen. For decades, marketers have been forced to do more with less – and now as the demand for digital skills accelerates, many CMOs find themselves responsible for teams who have transitioned from into “digital” from more “traditional” marketing fields. This has resulted in teams with limited or poor digital experience, basic skills and little time to build capacity. CMOs should carry out a Digital Skills Audit as a matter of priority.
  • Investing in customer engagement strategy: Much of our marketing strategy is built around maximising the value of channels. It’s time to stop this nonsense. We need to map customer journeys and then invest in engagement that adds value to the customer experience at key “moments of truth”. This means stepping away from the channel. Even if that channel is “digital first”. 

Have your say

What have I missed? What have I mis-read? What else needs to be improved?

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Is Facebook the New Las Vegas?

The Way to the Penthouse

You know how it goes at the international airport check-in counter.

  1. Greet customer: “Hello sir”
  2. Determine destination: “Where are you travelling to today?”
  3. Check passport, print boarding pass etc

It’s all pretty functional.

From time to time, there might be some off-script personality sneaking through, but it’s rare. Unless you are travelling to Vegas.

When I checked-in for my first ever trip to Las Vegas, the routine started as usual. But when we got to point 2 – and I explained where I was heading, the woman stopped and looked up.

Her eyes glistened and she smiled. She nodded and just said, “Veeeegaas”.

It was at this point that I knew that there was something special in store. The thing is, Vegas is a place whose story precedes it. It is a place where stories are born and where we can become wrapped in a story beyond our imaginings in the blink of a showgirl’s eye.

Now, it used to be said that what goes on in Vegas, stays in Vegas. But that was “back in the day” – which in Gen Y speak means about 2009. It was a time when being in a city in the middle of a desert afforded a certain isolation. It was a time before my nanna was on Facebook. And now, as we all know, what goes on in Vegas, lives forever on Facebook. Or Google. Or the computers in the NSA’s secret PRISM data centre.

And this means that the stories that are the lifeblood that is “Veeeegaas” … are no longer contained. Furthermore, those stories are amplified, hyper-real simulacra flashed across a variety of digital networks in multi-format content from pictures on Instagram to collections on Pinterest and videos on Vine and YouTube to collections on Storify.

But just as Vegas transformed itself from family destination to adult playground, it seems that Facebook too is experiencing this kind of shift. With teens and young adults starting feeling Facebook fatigue and dropping away from the social network, it’s leaving a hard core adult population to connect, share and engage. And with a revitalised MySpace and a plethora of low demand/high impact alternatives like Instagram and SnapChat it may well be that Facebook enters a new era of adult-focused engagement.

Perhaps.

But which ever way that dice rolls, one thing is for certain. Before posting a new photo to Facebook, ask yourself the hard question. Should I?

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Hands-on Guide to Social Media Channel Selection

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I have always been a fan of the CMO.com guide to channel selection. Each year for the last few years, the CMO.com folks have put together a handy guide that explains exactly how each of the main social media channels can be best used.

This year, rather than producing an infographic (as in previous years), the guide has become interactive.

You simply select a social network and mouse over the various good, ok and bad options to learn more about how they can be used effectively.

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Unfortunately, the guide only covers Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and YouTube. Which is a shame, as marketers seeking to put their content to work are likely to find niche social networks will deliver more bang for the buck. However, if you just want to validate your tactics and share that with your boss, this hands-on guide to social media channel selection may be just what you need to share internally.

Logos and the Psychology of Colour

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In the process of building new brands, there are three steps that I love:

  1. Naming: The naming of your new brand can be fraught – but should be fun. Coming up with a name that is descriptive enough for your customers but imaginative enough to draw them in can take far longer than you can imagine. Then once you have a name, securing and registering it can take time and more than a little money. There are some agencies dedicated to naming, and if you have a big budget it would be fabulous to work with them … but if you’re running a startup, chances are you’ll be doing the naming over a few beers with your mates. Be sure to think through the various combinations of the name and how it will be used. After all, you don’t want to follow the example of promo pen company Pen Island.
  2. Planning: No surprise here – but I get quite a kick out of the planning process. From building out the communications architecture through to building out the business case, planning is an important step for any startup. You’ll be amazed what you can learn in a couple of days – and the research and analysis (not to mention the discipline) will hold you in good stead as you start to seek funding and build your core team.
  3. Visual design: Most people think that branding is about logos. A logo is just part of the branding process … but it does need to be given time and attention. And budget always helps. Even if you have budget, it still helps greatly to provide a solid brief to your designer – which is where your planning will help. Make sure you share your research and thinking – explain the various use cases and audiences that your new business will impact. Provide a list of “attributes” that describe your brand. Be clear about the vision you have for the future of your brand. All this information should soak into the appearance of your logo and the visual design of your band.

Now that you have a name, some understanding of the potential of your business and some ideas for your logo, take that list of attributes and find them in the list in this infographic from MuseDesign. Pay special attention to other logos that you see and that you admire. Think about how they are using colour to engage you emotionally. What can you learn from great logos? Which designs make your heart jump?

After all, if you want your brand to be memorable, you’ll need all the branding help you can get.

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