Sunday, December 30, 2007

Too long

It's been too long since my last post. Been too wrapped up in things before Christmas.

Strange thing Christmas. It seems to put people in positions and situations they aren't happy with or used to. Why do we allow this to happen just because it happens to be December? Maybe I'm being over analytical. I've put myself in situations like that several times this year and now I'm sat thinking why did I do that. I wasn't fair to the people I was with (I wasn't truthful enough, other wise I wouldn't have been there) and it wasn't fair to me either.

From today I'm going to be truthful to myself first because surely by doing that I'll be truthful to the people I love and who love me. I don't mean that I'll be painfully truthful, because that would mean hurting people and that in itself wouldn't be true to me.

What's this got to do with marketing? Well if you want to be really good at anything then you need to be truthful to your self and your customers. Being a trickster or worse a liar can only be a brief thing, you'll eventually be caught out and customers, like your friends and family don't like being lied to and eventually piss off and leave you.

So take the truth forward and believe in yourself this year.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Marketing company websites which still have flash entrances!

I've just been researching some marketing agency websites and I'm shocked. Of the 40 or so I've looked at at least 80% still use flash animations on thier home pages.

Flash animations on home pages serve two purposes to my mind.
  1. They stop search engines crawling the site.
  2. They really delay the really important people thier customers!

If you really have to use flash then embed it in the page!

Oh yes, if your flash animation is that good and engaging that I'll want to watch it why have you given me a skip into link?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

First Direct - Beating customer expectations

I've just opened a First Direct account. They have a great deal which means that as long as you pay in a certain amount each month after the first month they give you £100. This is exactly the way banking should work.

For years the norm has been to give banks your money and in exchange they give you a puny return, while they make billions from your cash.

They then have the temerity to charge you for letters, statements and be closed just when you need them.

How much sense does it make to be a company which supplies people with cash and then to close on Saturday when the majority of people actually need money or want financial advice about a loan or mortgage. Only banks would put barriers in the way of allowing customers to interact with them. They instead force customers to make appointments in the week when they should be working. While I'm at it why do doctors and dentists do the exact same thing? Open all weekend and close a day in the week if you really have to.

Anyway to get back to the point. First Direct say that they'll transfer the £100 after the first month of banking with them. This sounds fair enough so image my surprise when they transferred the £100 13 days after I opened my account.

First Direct are different because they change the banking conventions and exceed customer expectations. If you business can do both of these and do it well then you're on to a winner. Anything less and you're just another also ran.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Happy Birthday Helvetica

Yesterday was the 50th birthday of the typeface Helvetica. On last night's Imagine on BBC1 they celebrated this great typeface. Helvetica is all around you, so much so you probably don't even notice.

One sad note for me is that Helvetica has no been overtaken in usage by the far less elegant Arial. The reason this far less well constructed typeface has beaten this design classic is down to that old demon - Microsoft.

Helevetica has copyright and design issues. Clearly Microsoft loved the typeface but didn't want to stomach the costs so they invented Arial. In last night's show designers said that Helvetica is the default. And if you own any DTP programmes I know you'll agree.

But for the rest of the world who only use Word and Excel then the default is Arial.

If only Helvetica had been designed when the new rules of spreading ideas and designs had been around then your word files and presentations would be just that little bit more elegant.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

How Halloween has changed (UK Edition)

I'm a child of the 70's. In England the 70's (the real one not the one on TV) was very brown.

Begrudgingly in the my parents allowed me to celebrate Halloween. It was frowned on as too American. Anyway the upshot is that we never had pumpkins. They where far to exotic and colourful.

No,we were given Turnips.

My mum would cut the top off and score the surface. Then I'd be issued with a blunt tea spoon to scrape the insides out. My Dad would then use a sharp knife to cut out the all important face, while I nursed my bruised hand from scraping a rock hard Turnip with a blunt spoon.

Tell that to English kids these days and they won't believe you.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Using Social Networking sites and the future of Marketing

On Linkedin John Cass asked "What is the future of marketing? What strategies, processes and tactics are in marketing department of 2015?"

This is a great question and one that if I could answer would make me a millionaire.

For my ten pence worth. Nothing will really change that much. People are people. The issue now for Marketers is that our customers are now a lot closer to us and can effect our businesses in ways we never imagined before.

There are two ways of looking at this.

  1. We can stay frightened at the "Nasty" customers who aren't happy with our us and are telling everyone and spoiling our profit margin.
  2. We can engage with our customers and listen to what they tell us and act one it. That way we'll ensure that they spread the word about what great companies we have and how "they really listened and did what I asked them to."

For the last 100 years or so business has been moving away from interaction with customers. From the corner shop we moved to the faceless supermarket. Now we've gone full circle. Even the largest companies have to take notice of the little guy. They now have real power and can spread good or bad for you and your company in the blink of and email.

Which would you rather they do?

Don't be afraid. Dive in and engage with your customers. If you're afraid of doing it then do you have ask yourself "Have I got something to hide"? If you have then start changing. If they don't know what your hiding, they soon will. And they'll tell everyone!

Social Networking Experiment Update

After sticking my toe in the Facebook water a week ago, I'm pleased to report that it's going really well. In fact better than I expected.

From a standing start there are now over 300 members of the Applied Language Translation and Interpreting Group. If you are interested in being a translator or interpreter then I'd recommend signing up to the group and to our suppliers data base

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Should you be nervous on Facebook?

I've started using Facebook recently and I've set up a few groups for work. We're a Translation and Interpreting company so to get more linguists to register with us I set up a group. It's worked really well. If you're a linguist on Facebook please join.

While I was looking for other related groups I found this quite scary one for United States Intelligence Community. It's an open group so anyone can join. What I can't tell is if it's a spoof or not. It looks pretty official and if it is maybe you should be nervous.

The web is a really weird place sometimes!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Naming a product to suit your audience

I was just watching a re-run of I'm Alan Partridge and spotted the ident in the corner of the screen. I did a double take when I saw what the name of the channel was.

UKTV 2 (a digital channel in the UK) has just changed it's name to


Dave is a very brave thing to call a TV station. It definitely makes it stand out from the crowd and at the same time identifies it with it's core audience.

Dave shows classic TV for English Men aged between 25 and 40 (that's me). Dave's shows include Top Gear, Have I Got News For You and Never Mind the Buzzcocks.

Dave's a great name as far as I'm concerned and my hat's off to the team who came up with it, but especially to the guy who paid the bill and stood his corner.

More Marketing Books you should read

Since my last list I felt a bit ashamed that I'd missed some classics out. To re-dress the balance here are a few more marketing books you should read.
  1. Purple Cow - Seth Godin
  2. Full Frontal PR - Richard Laermer
  3. Naked Conversations - Robert Scoble and Shel Israel
  4. Commonsense Direct & Digital Marketing - Drayton Bird
  5. Open for Business, How to write letters that get results - Courtney Ferguson
  6. The World is Flat - Thomas L Friedman

I've read all of these and they've helped shaped my marketing view. If you've got any recommendations or views on these books I'd love to know.

Here's a link to my previous list of Marketing Books you should read.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Law of decrecesing returns on Email Marketing

When I did my Direct Marketing Diploma there was a rule of decreasing returns which went along the lines of this:

Once you've mailed a file return to the same file again but exclude people who responded the first time. This rule generates more sales. You can keep doing this at least 10 times so that our list gets smaller and smaller but your only working on people who don't buy or respond.

I've been trying this same rule with email marketing. Using Campaign Monitor you can segment any list and include only those people who didn't open the initial email or click on a link etc. I opted for the didn't open as I figured that didn't click a link was a bit too risky and would produce a barrage of abuse and spam complaints.

I re-emailed about a week after the initial offer. The strange thing is that the law seems to be broken at least for these campaigns.

There are two options
  1. My campaign was crap (very likely)
  2. The rule doesn't work for email

I've seen independent result for this on a traditional paper based mailing. I've even done it myself and had a lot of success. But for some reason it's not worked with email.

If anyone has any different experiences I'd love to hear them as I'm sure this should work.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Getting around the postal strike

In the UK the postal workers are on strike. I'm not going to get into the details but it's causing lots of issues and doing them no good at all.

In an age where less and less post is being delivered anyway all they are doing is speeding up the process of people looking for other avenues to deliver what would traditionally go via Royal Mail.

Hats off to Marketing Week who have thought through the problem. My weekly issue can't delivered this week, so quick as a flash they've just delivered it by email. Great I still get my copy.

What will have happened now is that the management will have looked at just how much cash they've just saved. As well as the postage they've saved the print, the fulfillment, the repro and all the admin charges associated.

So how long do you think it will be 'til they offer a split subscription? You can have a PDF or if you insist a paper version. They discount the PDF version and then pretty soon the printed version will be fazed out.

This was of course always going to happen with weekly trade magazines where the biggest outlay is the print and distribution, it just that the Royal Mail strikers have just begun to unwittingly accelerate their own demise.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Remote PowerPoint and presentation tips

At my company we give our presentations via the web. This saves traveling time and the planet. Presenting via the web has it's own issues. Most notably that you're not there in person. Here are a few tips to help you out if you do that same as we do.

Your PowerPoint presentation
  • Keep it simple and to the point
  • Avoid bullet pointed lists that you're going to read out to them. Save yourself and them the time and just send them the document so they can read it themselves.
  • Be passionate

Your desktop
  • Make sure your desktop is as clear as possible. If for any reason you have to click on it you don’t want customers to see other customer’s files or clutter on the screen.
  • Ensure you have your company wallpaper on your screen. It's easy to do and look so much more professional than a picture of your favourite car or your wedding day, or your cat (however cute).

    Your Customer
  • Your customer may have a different screen resolution to you. Make sure they can see what you can before you start your presentation. You don’t want a customer to miss something at the edge of your screen. You can do this by moving your mouse from corner to corner of your screen and asking if they can see it moving.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Oh my god I'm skydiving!

I've decided to do a tandem skydive for charity in December. I'd really love it if you'd sponsor me, you can do it on this special website all the details are here. I'm trying to raise cash for a much needed hospice in Huddersfield.

To stick with the theme of the blog, I wanted to share with you how I'm trying to promote the skydive. As well as the donation site, I've also set up a facebook group And invited my contacts on Linkedin

I'm encouraging people to pass on the details to try and raise as much cash as I can for the charity. I've never tried the social network route before, and wanted to see how well it worked. If any one has more ideas I'd love to hear them.

I'll keep you up to date on how the experiment goes as well as the skydive.

Friday, September 21, 2007

How PowerPoint can and should be great

I attended the a translation industry conference this week in London. The people involved in this industry are highly intelligent, witty and engaging people. They write for a living.

Translation is probably harder than original writing, you have to get under the skin of the original to ensure you convey the right meaning.

So you'd have thought that the presentations, using the ubiquitous PowerPoint, would have been engaging, funny, intellectual, challenging even.

No. They all used the same dull, formulaic bullet point approach.

For me getting to London isn't easy, there are cars, trams, trains and tubes involved as well as hotels well away from where I need to be. So I get quite annoyed when a presenter either just reads out loud to me what I can plainly read for myself, or uses really complex diagrams that even they don't understand or explain.

If that's what you're going to do save me the hassle and just email or post me your notes, because I can read!

Only one presentation used any humor and only mine didn't use bullets. I'd have loved to have used humour but the subject matter didn't fit.

I know everyone hates giving presentations, but at the end of the day they have to be entertaining or at least informative. Reading aloud what I can all ready see it just a waste of my time and yours. Please don't do it.

Next time you have a presentation to give. Drop me an email, I'll be more than happy to take a look and give a few pointers. Alternatively take a look at Presentation Zen, you'll never look back and bullet points will be a thing of the past.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Information overload

I love the Internet, it's made businesses, social networks and connected the world in millions of unimaginable ways. One issue I'm having though is keeping track of the information I receive. Only 10 years ago the only real communication was phone, letter and fax. How did we survive then? How did anything get done?

Today I have information overload. Here's a list of what I use daily.
  • Company Email
  • Gmail
  • Text
  • Microsoft Instant Messenger
  • Skype
  • Blogger
  • Facebook
  • Linkedin
  • Squidoo
  • Ebay
  • YouTube
  • MySpace
  • iTunes
  • Phone
  • Mobile Phone
  • TV
  • Books
  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Letters
  • Second Life (not very ofter though)

It's amazing that we survive. Your brain can only take in two pieces of information at any one time so it's really no wonder so many people live online. All their attention is spent there.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Inspiring story

A colleague in our Indian Office just emailed me this very inspiring story. I thought I should share it.

A little boy wanted to meet God. He knew it was a long trip to where God lived, so he packed his suitcase with a bag of potato chips and a six-pack of root beer and started his journey. When he had gone about three blocks, he met an old woman. She was sitting in the park, just staring at some pigeons.

The boy sat down next to her and opened his suitcase. He was about to take a drink from his root beer when he noticed that the old lady looked hungry, so he offered her some chips. She gratefully accepted it and smiled at him. Her smile was so pretty that the boy wanted to see it again, so he offered her a root beer. Again, she smiled at him. The boy was delighted!

They sat there all afternoon eating and smiling, but they never said a word. As twilight approached, the boy realized how tired he was and he got up to leave; but before he had gone more than a few steps, he turned around, ran back to the old woman, and gave her a hug. She gave him her biggest smile ever.

When the boy opened the door to his own house a short time later, his mother was surprised by the look of joy on his face. She asked him, "What did you do today that made you so happy?" He replied, "I had lunch with God." But before his mother could respond, he added, "You know what? She's got the most beautiful smile I've ever seen!"

Meanwhile, the old woman, also radiant with joy, returned to her home. Her son was stunned by the look of peace on her face and he asked, "Mother, what did you do today that made you so happy?" She replied! "I ate potato chips in the park with God." However, before her son responded, she added, "You know, he's much younger than I expected."

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. People come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime! Embrace all equally!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Using all the media you can

As Google takes over the world and acquires more and more sections of the internet. Using more and more media will reap huge rewards.

So if you've got video footage, get it on YouTube and tag it up properly. If you've pictures make sure they have targeted alt tags. If you've got a book out make sure Google knows about that too.

The more you have indexed the better, as Google begins to bring all it assets together and shows them in the search results.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

List of online marketing books

On Linkedin the other day a question was asked about what were the ultimate books about online marketing. The guy who asked doesn't have a blog so I posted it on mine. This is a pretty impressive list which also includes some of the all time marketing classics. I've not read all of them but it's a great starter list for anyone.

  • The Long Tail - by Chris Anderson
  • Citizen Marketers - Ben McConnell and Jakie Huba
  • Waiting for Your Cat to Bark - Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg
  • Word of Mouth Marketing- Andy Sernovitz
  • Strategies and Tools for Corporate Blogging by John Cass
  • "Secrets of Word of Mouth Marketing" by George Silverman
  • Scientific Advertising - Claude Hopkins
  • Tested Advertising - John Caples
  • How To Write A Good Advertisement - Victor Schwab
  • Ogilvy on Advertising - David Ogilvy
  • Triggers - Joseph Sugarman
  • Breakthrough Advertising - Eugene Schwartz
  • The Ultimate Guide to Google Adwords – Perry Marshall
  • The New rules of marketing and PR: how to use news releases, blogs, podcasting, viral marketing, & online media to reach buyers directly by David Meerman Scott
  • The new influencers : a marketer's guide to the new social media by Paul Gillin
  • Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking by Andy Sernovitz
  • Smart Start-Ups: How Entrepreneurs and Corporations Can Profit by Starting Online Communities by David Silver.
  • The Big Red Fez by Seth Godin

Monday, September 03, 2007

Real customer service from IKEA

This weekend I had to buy a new bed. Best one I could find was Ikea in Leeds. I like Ikea it's cheap yes but the quality is pretty good. I had a budget and their designs fitted it.

So off I went to Ikea to get my bed. Browsing the shop as always was easy and enjoyable. I ordered the bed and mattress very easily. Picked up the flat pack sections for the bed and paid. To get my mattress I had to go round to the collection centre. This looked pretty easy. Ikea had already got my money and I was confident that they wouldn't let me down when I picked up my mattress.

God I was wrong.

When I arrived the queue was massive, some people had been waiting for over 3/4 of and hour and were getting very irate.

But the was one beacon in all this. The smiling and very over worked lady handling all these angry and tired customers. As I stood there waiting in the queue she smiled and acknowledged each and every customer even speaking to the queue to apologise for the wait they were experiencing. The guy in front to me had been waiting for 40 minutes and when he got to the front he said he wanted to complain, rather than giving this man the usual response the lady I now know as Denise said "Certainly, just fill in this form and the customer service people will see to your complaint, I'm so sorry for the delay, I'll just have a quick check to see if your parcels are here." This instantly calmed the man who didn't bother to fill in the form. At one point Denise called for help from the front house staff at Ikea and was told they couldn't spare anyone.

This was a big mistake in the long run for Ikea. The customers who had a happy warm feeling about their new piece of furniture were now only remembering the bad and boring experience they were now having. This was the experience that they would remember. I'm sure the marketing and PR team fro Ikea would be fuming.

Denise even helped a man who's baby needed changing because the nappy dispenser in the toilets was broken. She then made sure she spoke to the mother of the baby to ensure that they were all ok.

I'll be writing to Ikea to let them know about the hard work Denise did. I hope they take note and advance her to head of customer service were she clearly needs to be.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Leeds Carnival

Just got back from Leeds Carnival, it's run in conjunction with the Notting Hill Carnival in London. I had a great time, the atmosphere, costumes and the curried goat were brilliant. I took loads of pictures which I've added to my new facebook page.

I've added my favourite one here.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Blog 150! SeoMoz guide to Social Media

I know that using social media will be good for my site and company. I already use linkedin. I'm sure there are ways to use MySpace, Bebo, FaceBook and the rest but I'm never sure where to start. If you're like me then this Whiteboard Friday from SEOMoz is for you. Enjoy

I never thought I'd reach this many entries!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Google Book results

I'm using my friend's PC at the moment so I don't have my bookmarks. So to get to pages normally on there I'm searching Google for the pages.

I just searched for Seth Godin so I could read today's blog. I got very weired book search results I've never seen before. When I followed them the results got stranger. After a couple of results which showed shots of chapters from Seth's books it showed other related books and then finally a map of all the places mentioned in the book, with links. All great in theory but surely not for Seth's books, they're not travel guides.

Maybe Google have just set my aspirations too high now, but it's disappointing when things aren't perfect on the results.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Things to buy a bloke

I'm your typical bloke. And when ever people buy me things as a gift they never get anything I'd like (of course there have been exceptions!)

So to help all those people who don't know what to buy for me or any bloke come to that I decided to make a list. So in no particular order:

  • A big iPod, obvious I know but a definite winner
  • Some really great books. George Orwell, Irving Welsh, something classic I've never read before, stretch my mind. I love that.
  • A really great meal. Not a Bernie Inn. Somewhere special, tapenyaki, sushi, Bulgarian food. It doesn't need to be expensive, just different.
  • A really nice tie. I know that sounds too easy, but a really nice tie goes a long way.
  • Take me to see a comedian I've never heard of.
  • Or a film I would normally turn my nose up at.
  • A day at a Gallery.
  • Drive a long way to see or do something that only takes an hour to do. As long as it's great enough, the drive's well worth it.
  • Take me to a city I've never visited. Edinburgh was great, Sofia is fantastic.
  • Get me to do an activity I've never done before, Archery, flower arranging, bungee jumping
  • Get me some cool furniture. A clock, a really cool cup even.

I think the gist here is surprise and really getting to know someone. This is my list, you have a different one. Make sure your friends and loved ones know yours and importantly that you know theirs. Surprise is the key, but you really need to know someone to pull it off. Take the time it's worth it.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Change in attitude

For a long time, I've done what was expected of me. Worked hard, got married, had kids. From the outside all looked rosy. Most people take this journey, it's what's expected. And there are lots of people are a very, very happy doing just that.

Until recently I was one of those. Don't get me wrong, I still love my family so much it hurts. I still love my work, I'm very lucky I enjoy what I do.

But recently I've started to do things I'd always put off. I love painting and visiting galleries. Comedy makes me happy (not much of a surprise I know). I've read books I should have read years ago, not business books either, ones with stories and meaning. I've thought about stuff, sounds simple but you forget.

What I've realised is that for a long time I forgot who I was and everyone suffered. My point is that whoever you are, whatever you are doing, don't forget you. It's easily done, I can testify.

Go out there and do something different, make a difference. You'll feel better and as a consequence so will all the people around you. Making people happy is great, remember to start with yourself.

It's only by doing this and challenging yourself to be happy and do stuff that you produce great results, physically and mentally. Everyone has the ability to be great, just stop staring at your navel first.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Blog action day, do your bit

I've just signed up to take part in the Blog Action day.

The goal is to bring the blogging community together, for just one day, talking about one issue — and for Blog Action Day 2007 (Oct. 15, 2007), that issue is the environment.

Not sure if I'll be accepted, but I'll join in anyway. You should too


Linked in is a social media site for work. I'm sure there are millions of others but Linked in is really easy to use and build connections.

Here's my profile - Richard Michie on Linkedin

It takes seconds to sign up and complete the screens, then you can begin to make contacts. Networking from your laptop, what will they think of next. Crazy eh!

To sign up visit here

Banksy, quality graffiti

If you've never heard of Banksy then you should. He's a graffiti artist with a brain. I can't really describe what he does, he doesn't bother so how can I start.

Best thing to do is take a look yourself, believe me you'll keep looking once you start.

There's fighting in Sherwood!

I'm sure you've seen the films and the TV programmes about Robin Hood and Sherwood Forest. If you've never been, Sherwood is just south of Sheffield near Worksop.

I took my kids this weekend and we had a great time. When we arrived there was no sign that anything different was happening until we go to the Major Oak, which is the tree which it is thought that Robin lived in.

When we go to the Oak we saw a demonstration of medieval sword fighting, had to hand combat and fighting with bow staff's. We tried archery and then we all had a go with the swords and the armour. The day was actually better because it wasn't really advertised. I'd definitely recommend it if you are Sherwood way.

Friday, August 17, 2007

BBC add social networking to thier site

Social networking is now mainstream. It's so much so that the BBC website which is the most visited in Europe and one of the biggest authority sites in the world has added social bookmarks to it's site. Expect a huge wave of big name copycats.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Hiring a Web Marketing Manager

I'm looking for a Web Marketing Manager to work on and my other sites. If you're the one I need you'll have the following skills

Experience of Search Engine Optimisation
Search Engine Marketing
Link building strategies
Copy writing skills
Handling Pay Per Click campaigns
Project Management Skills
E-commerce experience
Keyword analysis
Website analytics and conversion

The Web Marketing Manager can work from any of our offices. Currently we have offices in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Chenai in India and Huddersfield in the UK.

If you're interested please email me or with your CV

Simpsonise Me

If you like the Simpsons you love this site where you can make yourself or anyone else you have a picture of into a Simpsons Character.

Here's me

Goodbye Tony Wilson

At the weekend Tony Wilson the man who shaped my musical tastes died from cancer. If you've never heard of Tony, it's probably because he wasn't from London but Manchester. If he'd been from the south, everyone would know who he was. But if he'd not been a northerner, there's no way he would have had the insight he had.

I never knew Tony, but the bands he handled and the record label he ran inspired me years ago and still do today. I'm sure you've heard of Joy Division, New Order, Happy Mondays. Although not on Factory Records he also inspired The Smiths, The Fall, The Stone Roses and the whole Manchester scene.

Now that Tony and John Peel have gone, I don't know who'll find the new bands anymore. Maybe we'll just have to live with the X-Factor finding them for us.

Tony was also a great Marketer, though I'm sure it's a title he'd hate. His belief in Manchester and the artists around made it possible for his to take a run down industrial city and make it a cultural centre for the 21st century. Without him Manchester would just be another northern city.

Edit. Just found Tony Wilson's Obituary on the Guardian

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Presentation Zen

I'm an avid reader of Presentation Zen. If you're putting together an type of presentation check this site out first! You'll be amazed the difference the theory makes.

I was just reading a blog about Steve Jobs presentation style and I came across this amazing passage.

This is so cool

“Mushin no shin” (The mind that is no mind)When a swordsman is in the moment and his mind is empty (or the “mind that is no mind”) there are no emotions stemming from fear, there are no thoughts of winning or of losing or even of using the sword. In this way, says Daisetz Suzuki in Zen and Japanese Culture, “both man and sword turn into instruments in the hands of the unconscious, and it is the unconscious that achieves wonders of creativity. It is here that swordplay becomes an art.” Beyond mastering technique, the secret to swordsmanship rests in obtaining a proper mental state of “no mind” where the mind is “abandoned and yet not abandoned.” Frankly, if you are engaged in any art or even a sports match (think Tiger Woods) you must get rid of the obtruding self-consciousness or ego-consciousness and apply yourself completely, but also, as Suzuki says, “…as if nothing particular were taking place at the moment.” When you perform in a state of “no mind” you are free from the burdens of inhibitions and doubt and can contribute fully and fluidly in the moment. Artists know this state of mind, as do musicians and highly trained athletes.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Comedy in the Park

Last night I went to Comedy in the Park at Kirstall Abbey in Leeds.

I love comedy but I'd never been to something like this before. The setting was amazing, the stage and seating was set right in the middle of this ancient ruin and gave a brilliant atmosphere. We were sat right on the front row which was a bit frightening as comedians have a habit (sorry about the pun) of targeting people. Luckily I managed to avoid it by one seat, clearly the lady to my right was a better target.

I had a great time and haven't laughed so much in a long time.

The point, at least for this blog, was the great way the event worked. The juxtaposition of the ancient Abbey and some great new comedians worked so well. It hit a very good long tail of comedy and the niche loved it.

I'm keeping my eye out for the next one.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Going the extra mile makes all the difference

I called The Eden Project today to speak to their web team. While is was put on hold the hold music made a real difference. It wasn't the usual musak or maybe even jungle music or they could have tried bird song. No they stayed totally on theme and gave me a quick fact.

Did you know that scientist in Japan found a 10,000 year old Magnolia seed. They planted it and to their amazement it grew

The only problem was that as I was on hold for a while the same fact was repeated again. It's the first time I've call them so maybe they change it each day. I'll call again tomorrow and let you know.

If they only have this one it's a shame and they should think about at least adding 10. They have so many stories they should ensure they tell them.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Disagreeing with Seth

It's a first. This morning I read Seth Godin's blog as I do every morning.

Today however I was surprised to see that for the first time I disagree with him.

In his post Letters, Brochures and Email he says that you should never write an email like a Direct Marketing letter. I think he should have added a caveat that you should never write like that if it's a one to one email with a colleague or customer you are interacting with. But when you are trying for a sale of any kind, long direct marketing writing is what wins.

The theory has been tested to death over the years before the Internet was even thought of. I'm sure it's horses for courses but sorry Seth don't agree.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Demise of Sheffield United

For my sins I'm a Sheffield United fan. As you may know we were relegated from the Premier League last season under very strange circumstances.

Just found this amazing Hitler/Sheffield United Clip on YouTube.


Marketing Art - David Hockney at Salts Mill

This weekend I visited Salts Mill in Bradford to visit the permanent David Hockney exhibition. For those who don't know, Hockney is one of the world's most celebrated "pop" artists. Andy Warhol is one of his contemporaries.

Hockney was born and bred in Bradford so it's a great testament to the city to combine a great old Mill complex at Saltaire with the city's most famous son.

Inside the Mill is where things are really cleverly marketed. The whole thing is run on the basis of a museum so it's free to enter and look around. Where the marketing comes in is with the congruency of the things available to buy. In the centre of the gallery are hundreds of high quality books on all subjects for all ages. On the second floor is a restaurant dedicated to Hockney. Not some fake themed thing. They just hang great original artwork and photographs around and combine it with great food. The queue to be seated is massive.

To tie in with this there's a great shop selling top line home ware. The shop has Le Corbusier and other great designers, at £3000 for a chair this is no ordinary home store.

Because Salts Mill has carefully chosen what they display and who they display it to, no one feels marketed to. And that's the really, really clever bit.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Raising cash for Barnardo's

At Applied Language we're raising cash for Barnardo's who have a fund running in Huddersfield for homeless children.

We're walking from Meltham near Huddersfield to Saddleworth near Manchester. It's about a 10 mile walk but it starts at a sandwich van and ends at a pub so it won't be too bad.
Here's a picture from last years walk. That's me in the hat at the back.

If you'd like to donate to this worthy cause then please visit the charity page I set up and give as much as you can.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Anthony Gormley - Another Place

Yesterday I went to Liverpool to see Anthony Gormley's Another Place. To describe it is quite difficult, essentially it's a beach full of statues of Anthony Gormley all looking out to sea.

As the tide comes and goes the water rises up and over some figures while others only get half submerged. As they stand there the sea takes it's toll and seaweed and barnacles grow on the statues. The beach is so large and there and so many figures it's actually quite spooky. It was raining when I visited which just added to it.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Interpreters needed

Sorry to keep posting about the day job but these things have to be done. Applied Language are expanding into interpreting and are looking for highly skilled interpreters to sign up at our online portal

If you are an interpreter or a translator then visit the site now and add all your details. All the work is freelance so you can even fit it around your day job. We are looking for all languages but particularly Asian ones.

We offer face to face as well as telephone interpreting and you can choose which you'd prefer to do.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Looking for a link builder in India

As part of the website development for my daytime job at Applied Language I'm looking for a link builder to work from our Indian Office. The website ranks really well in Google and receives over 120,000 unique visitors each day. Here's the job description please email me if you are interested
  • Contacting website owners via email and phone
  • Ensuring that the links are “clean” and pass back Google Page Rank value to our site
  • Ensuring that all links are relevant
  • Managing the negotiation of link exchanges
  • Hitting targets for numbers of links gained
  • Regular progress reports
  • Liaison with the Marketing team and webmaster

Essential Requirements

  • Knowledge of Internet marketing techniques
  • Knowledge of Google webmaster rules
  • Strong English language skills
  • Good IT Skills

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Public Relations and SEO

Over on Aaron Walls blog he gives a fantastic blog about how PR is the way to go with SEO, Blogging and business in General.

We use PR as a main tool for spreading the word about the company. without it we wouldn't be as well known as we are. It's pretty cheap too if done correctly. Don't be scared of PR use it well.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Has Google rounded down your sites PR?

I noticed recently that the PR (little green bar) has been lowered on my site. For at least 2 years it's been PR 7. The ranking for our keywords is fine, the number of visitors is fine as well.

I know that the little green bar doesn't give much information and can't be relied upon but it's just a little disconcerting.

Have Google rounded down PR's in general? After looking at a few other site I think they have. Any ideas? If Matt Cutts is reading I love an idea of what's happened.

If you've had a similar thing happen to your site let me know.

Google using user data to help serps? Surley not!

There's a rumour that Google are using Google Analytics and other Google tools to tweak the way search rankings are shown. I'm sure this is no surprise to anyone, though Matt Cutts denies it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Great tips for improving media coverage

Here are some great tips for improving your media coverage.

In my Direct Marketing background I never really trusted PR. I've since learned that you have to be very trusting with it and take your time. essentially the coverage is free and if it helps to spread your message and deliver that kind of return it's got be a good thing.

Take the tips and use them wisely, it pays off.

Still searching for a PR Executive

The hunt for a PR Executive still goes on. The position is for Applied Language Solutions a translation and interpreting company. We've recently been on Dragon's Den are featured regularly in both National and local press and have 8 offices around the world.

Our customers are some of the biggest organisations in the world: Google, Yahoo!, United Nations, Robbie Williams, NHS trusts, HSBC.

The job is based in the Huddersfield office and the perks are fantastic, where else would you get all this:
  • Free lunches
  • Free Fruit
  • Free MP3 Player
  • Free 20 minute Massage ever 2 weeks
  • Free Laptop
  • Free Broadband at home
  • Your birthday off each year
  • A Duvet Day to take when you like
Plus you'll be working for me and I'm not that scary look.

Come on please apply! Email me or with your CV and expected salary.

Only the best and brightest should apply.

Apple launch Safari for Windows

Apple have released a version of the Safari Browser for windows. I love Apple products and if I had the choice at work I'd have a Mac. Unfortunately Microsoft have a strangle hold still so I have to plod through on my PC.

Now you can get a little bit more Mac on your computer by downloading Safari.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Why does Microsoft make simple tasks so hard?

I'm writing a spec for a new service. It's essentially a list of titles with subtitles. I'm stuck with a PC and Microsoft word to produce this all I need is to number the main headings and then letter the subheads. Using the numbering feature I managed nicely for a while but as the document got longer it started to screw up and get really annoying.

Please Microsoft build a programme that works, just once. Even Google blogger software lets me do this easier than Microsoft Word.

The Apprentice UK in Lego!

This is fantastic, scenes for the Apprentice UK with Alan Sugar re-created in 3D Lego animation.


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Monkey Business Management

The guy who runs the Eden Project in Cornwall in the UK. Runs his business in a very strange way.

If you were going for an interview how would you feel if you were asked to perform a song, dance or tell a story?

I know I'd feel pretty stupid.

The thing is the Eden Project is one of the most successful tourist attractions in the UK, so the people who are being hired like this are producing what people want. So although these methods seem pretty flaky they producing the right results.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Behind the Google curtain - Matt Cutts

Matt Cutt's puts in his twopenneth on the article in the NY Times.

As always Matt gives a little bit more, but it only ever really triggers more questions.

Damn you Google!

Inside the GooglePlex - what goes on in the Google Algo team

What happens inside the Google Algorythm team is a closley guarded secret. The New York Times got a man on the inside and though he's doesn't get much information the article shows that whatever you do there's no point trying to cheat Google.

If you rely on them like I do play it safe, keep to the Google guidelines and build interesting sites with great content.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Website Landing Page Conversions

Whatever your landing page is designed to do, generate sales, download software or read an article it needs to convert and it needs to do it at a decent cost especially if you are using AdWords or other advertising. Everyone needs increased conversion.

This great study on Landing Page Conversion uses real life case studies and shows real results. It's worth testing the ideas here and seeing what happens.

I'll be testing and reporting back my findings.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

How to check if your site has pages in Google's Supplemental Results

Supplemental results for any site are a disaster. Google's supplemental results are the ones Google keeps in the back file in case the main results can't answer a search query.

And as Google's main results are so great, the supplemental ones don't get used very often.

To check if your site has pages in supplemental results, you can use this search query in the Google search box. *** -sjpked

Just substitute for the url of the site you want to check.

If you have pages listed in here, check to see that your navigation links work ok, and start to try to build good pagerank for these pages.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Hiring a PR Executive in Huddersfield

My PR Executive Stacey, is sadly leaving us for pastures new. I really don't want her to leave but hey, that's life.

Problem is I now need to replace her. This is my blog so it's as good a place as any.

Here's the job description, let me know if your interested or pass it to a friend. The job's in Huddersfield, UK.

About Applied Language
A career handing Applied Language’s PR is not for the faint hearted. You’ll need to hit the ground running, be able to think on your feet and act very quickly. The job is very varied and changes hour to hour. You will need to continue to build on our already strong relationship with both local and national press, radio and TV.

On top of that you’ll need to be very well organised as well as creative. To get this job you’ll also need to demonstrate that you can build great long term relationships with the media and be able to keep lots of plates spinning all at once.

We’re looking for a very special person!

Your role is to develop the PR presence of Applied Language

This will include:
· Liaison with both Trade and news press representatives.
· Writing Press Releases
· Co-ordinating events
· Case Studies
· Handling on-line PR activity, including posting on forums and other social media.
· Writing and proofreading copy for the website and printed publications
· Research for articles and information for the website
· Working with the international offices to co-ordinate Marketing and PR activity
· Keeping accurate records of PR Activity

Essential Requirements
Degree in marketing and PR
Experience in using PR Planner
Experience of putting together press releases
Strong English language skills
Good IT Skills
Knowledge of Internet and marketing techniques

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Email opening times

I send a lot of Business to Business emails. Normally there aren't many trends, but recently after looking at the opened over time statistics I've spotted that the further away you get from the date of the initial email being sent, the more people open their emails at about 11 am.

I've no evidence as to why this should happen. Maybe it's because there's a slow down before lunch and people are more likely to take a glance at an email they thought they'd save for later.

Internet Masterclass

Yesterday I gave my first "Internet Masterclass". I was asked by the Yorkshire UKTI to do this for the people they have on their Passport to Export Scheme.

I was a bit worried mainly because I'd never thought of myself as an Internet master, which would be a good start to give an Internet Masterclass you'd have thought.

The funny thing about being asked to present anything is that you don't realise how much you know about something until you begin to explain it to others. The group was only a small one but that helped because I could give more personal information to the delegates.

If you were asked to give an "Internet Masterclass" what one bit of advice would you give? I'd love to know because I'm sure whatever you think, I bet I forgot it, or didn't know it in the first place.

If you'd like to see the presentation and read the document I put together, then drop me an email and I'll send it on. I'd love to hear your feedback and thoughts.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Google Analytics Beta dashboard sucks

I use Google Analytic to measure the traffic to this blog and a lot of my other sites. It's free, easy to use and gives some great data. The current layout is great and very simple to navigate and use.

But some bright spark thought they could improve it and today they added a new beta view. Look I'm all for new developments, but this one should never had got passed the sketch pad let alone into Beta testing. It's just bad it should be dropped now.

Sorry Google got it wrong.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Why Marketers should be concerned with Return on Investment

I get a daily email from Drayton Bird, a master at Direct Marketing. Check out Drayton's books on Amazon.

Today's nugget from Drayton is about why Marketers should focus on getting cash in the till above all else. Here's probably the best section from the email. It's a story you may have heard about Sergio Zyman, former chief marketing officer of Coca-Cola.

One of his best stories tells how he showed his first Coca-Cola ads in 1993 to his boss Roberto Goizueta, who said, "I don't like those ads." "Look, Roberto," he replied, "If you're willing to buy 100% of the volume worldwide then I'm happy to do the advertising that you like. Otherwise I've got to keep doing it to those damned consumers."

I think this say it all really.

NLP training day 1

Today I started my first day of NLP training. My company, Applied Language, is the most forward thinking I have worked for. Still only a small company they see the benefit of advanced NLP training for the whole company.

Today was just basics about being able to read peoples states and eye movements. It's still day one so I can't think that too much has sunk in yet. But as a lot of the stuff is talking to my unconscious mind, I've probably pick up more than I think.

I'll keep posting how it's going.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Exibiting - the expensive folly

This week I exhibited at Internet World at Earls Court in London.

We had a great time and the exhibition went very well, our stand was nice and busy and we got loads of great leads. Translation is a difficult thing to get across but at least the people we spoke to were interested and not just collecting bags, pens, folders snow storms or any other type of crap available.

This is the bit of exhibiting I don't get. Why do companies insist on having their stands covered in giveaway stuff. Sure they get lots of crowds, but all that happens is you quickly run out of your stuff and you don't get one lead because you were too busy re-stocking your stand. We got less visitors that the stand with dancing girls, sure. But the people we spoke to hung around for about 15 minutes and left having arranged an sale, demo or at least a follow-up.

So before you buy loads of pens and spend a fortune on your next stand, stop, think. What exactly are you achieving?

Friday, April 27, 2007

how much is customer worth to you? - Drayton Bird

I'm on a mailing list for Drayton Bird's Helpful Ideas. He's sending out 51 helpful ideas each day. Today's was number 35. Today's helpful idea is - how much is a customer worth? Not many people think about long term customer value. Drayton helps to explain why you should.
Remember, the currency of your business is customers - and act accordingly.

So the big marketing question is, "how much is customer worth to you?" If you've been in business for a while you can measure how long customers stay with you, and how much profit they provide in that time.

Then you discount the sum to determine what you can afford to recruit and retain a customer, allowing for a profit.It is true that some sales are not repetitive, but in those cases you can often, if not always, cross-sell other things.

The importance of customer value came home to a client who sold what they call an fmcg (fast moving consumer goods) product here - and packaged goods in the U.S. He asked me, "If the gross margin on one sale is 80 pence, how can I afford to send out direct mail at 100 pence a time?" I asked him if he knew the average value of a customer over time - not just one sale. He said he'd never given it a thought. And I said, "You can easily afford it if you know your average customer buys 200 packs a year and stays with you for five years - and you think not about making an immediate sale, but making and keeping a customer". He became my largest client. The same principle applies if you work out how many cars you can sell a customer over a lifetime. You can afford a series of very expensive direct communications - DVDs, books, lavish mailing packs and so forth.

But it all starts by thinking in terms not of expenditure, but return on investment, and taking a lot of trouble to try and assess what a customer is worth.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Hendersons has it's own myspace

Hendersons update

Just done a bit more surfing for Hendersons Relish. It's so popular in Sheffield it's got its own Myspace page. Its got loads of friends including Jarvis from Pulp.

the art of marketing without marketing - the ultimate viral campaign

I'm from Sheffield in the UK. Now Sheffield isn't famous for many things it a northern town which used to have a lot of industry mainly steel, you'll have heard of Sheffield Steel. It has a few famous rock stars too, Def Leopard (I can't stand them), Pulp, The Human League and recently the Arctic Monkeys.

But if you're from Sheffield there's one thing which connects you to everyone else in what's know as Yorkshire's biggest village.

Hendersons Relish

Hendersons Relish, is like black gold. It looks like Worcester sauce but is nothing like it, it's kind of sweet and sour and has a curious aftertaste too. There truly is nothing that compares to Hendersons Relish.

The strange thing about Hendersons is that, as far as I'm aware and I've lived Sheffield for 34 years, they have never, ever advertised. Nothing, not a sausage, not even sponsorship. Even the bottles are simplicity itself, they still have the same orange label they always have. In stores it is displayed in plain brown boxes, no point of sale.

Yet I guarantee that every house in Sheffield has a bottle and cherishes it. There is shouting if it's stew for tea that there's no Hendersons.

I put it all down to mystique marketing, the building for Hendersons has always been the same, you never see anyone enter or leave and there are no Hendersons delivery trucks. I've never heard anyone say they work there. Its as if the stuff just appears from thin air.

You can now order it on line as they've finally relented and built a very understated (what do you expect) website. Even that builds on the mystique.

Hendersons is truly the art of marketing without marketing.

Order some online now I guarantee you'll be hooked, just don't tell anyone just think it.

Friday, April 20, 2007

BEST Website Ever - WORST Product Ever

This website is almost too slick, the timing and pretence are amazing. It's just infulfilling at the end, a real shame

read more | digg story

Nude women and beer - the ultimate offer!

The Portman Group in the UK who look after the drinks industry have just banned Rubbel Sexy Lager from the UK. The ins and outs are that in the UK you can't say that drinking will enhance your sexual prowess.

The bottle has a picture of a Bikini Clad lady on the bottle. The fabric of the bikini is made from scratch able foil, underneath she's naked. Some older UK readers may remember when peanuts used to be sold in English pubs in much the same way. Each time a packet was bought it revealed more and more of a naked lady on the card holding the packets.

Search engines through the looking glass

I just found this great article on Search Engine Optimisation on a site I'd not come across before

It's a great article full of amazing information, take a look now.

Email campaigns the easy way

If you're working on a small budget, or maybe no budget email campaigns are very effective. The problem is that if you have a tight budget, you'll probably end up using Outlook or another email system to send your emails.

This is fine up to a limit. Once you get pass about 10 recipients it makes a real mess because you'd have to send them individually. Don't even think about using BCC or god forbid sending them as one mass email with all the addresses in.

The best think I've found to send out Email campaigns is Campaign Monitor. All you need to do is create your email. Load your list into their system and then click send. Campaign monitor has great in depth reporting, handles bouncebacks (sou don't get loads of undeliverable messages) and unsubscribes.

Added to all this the cost is fantastic. They charge a $5 set up charge per campaign and then $0.01 per email. I'm in the UK so an email campaign to 10,000 customers will only cost me £52.50.

The Return on Investment is a doddle at that cost to output.

Give it a go you won't be disappointed!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Getting things right when you write!

If you write any thing like me you probably have so many ideas to get onto your word document that they get mixed up. This happens especially when editing, you get half way through and decide to change tack in a sentence. In the creative haze it's easy to read what you want to read and over look errors. There are a couple of ways to help this.

  1. Use your spellcheck function, and make sure it's set to the correct language! Microsoft think that all English is US English. If you're audience is in the UK they won't appreciate z's in specialise and Americans want a z.
  2. Always, always have another person proofread your copy (maybe two or three).
  3. Listen to what they say.
  4. Use the 30 minute rule. Pretty much every thing can wait 30 minutes. Put your copy to one side for half an hour and then re-read it. Your spot a lot of thing you didn't before.
I just realised this is my 101st blog entry. When I started I didn't think I'd ever get this far - well done me!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Where does all the jargon come from?

I'm sure you've sat in meetings where people come out with so-called "business speak".

'Run it up the flag pole and see who salutes' is my all time favourite.

Well I've found if not The source, a bloody good source of new business gibberish. Have a go at the Web Economy Bullshit Generator. It brings a whole new least of life to crap!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Google tighten their grip

Google are tightening up the webmarketing world again with their purchase of DoubleClick.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Top ranking factors for Google

Over on SEOMoz, they've just published a great report on the top ranking factors for Google. This is invaluable for anyone involved in web marketing and is a must read.

I just wish someone at Google would confirm or deny these. Still that would just ruin the fun of it.

Hotmail users miss out of great deals

Like most marketers I use email as one of my main routes to market. It's obvious why, it's cheap, quick, easy to test and gives instant results.

The hardest bit of doing email marketing though is the fact that some people are so afraid of email that they hide away and won't let you talk to them even when they've given you permission.

I'm taking mainly about Hotmail users, but plenty of other people are guilty as well.

Hotmail users feel more than happy to come and register on my site and ask for services. I'm grateful for that because without them I'd have no custom. The problem comes when I email them about offers which are relevant to them. Your average Hotmail user just hits the mark as spam button. (Sorry to tar all Hotmail users with the same brush). That's fine but there are more sensible ways to get out of receiving email.

On all my emails I include an unsubscribe link, click it and you're off the list no questions. I'm not a spammer and I really don't want to send emails to people who don't want to read them.

What am I doing about this? Easy Before I send any emails I remove Hotmail and a lot of other similar services from the list. That way I guarantee I won't get marked for Spam.

The sad bit is that due to a few users running loose with the mark as spam button no Hotmail etc customers ever get my emails, this probably means they don't get any others either. They must be missing out on some great deals and services, still it's their loss.

The lesson is, if you signed up for something by mistake of if the service isn't relevant any more just unsubscribe. Please!

Friday, March 30, 2007

How to get coverage in Newspapers

Getting coverage in Newspapers can seem really daunting. When I joined my present company, Applied Language, I had no experience of speaking to journalist or PR. Now we get lots of coverage in our local titles.

How did we do this?

It's pretty easy really but you'll need to do a bit of leg work. The fist thing to do is identify the journalists and get to know what they write about. Buy the papers and read the sections and articles which are based around where you want to be.

Once you know the journalists you need to speak to you'll need to get all information together.

Journalists are very busy and you need to sell your company or organisation. The best way to sell anything is to make it as easy as possible for your customers (reporters) to buy you. To do this you'll need to assemble a press pack. This is less daunting than it sounds, here's a quick check list:
  • Brief history about your company/organisation
  • Biographies of the most important staff
  • Current Press Releases
  • Any pictures you have

It's best to put all these on a CD and have hard copies, at least of the articles.

Once you have all this, the next step is to call the journalists and introduce yourself. Give them a brief over view of why you're interesting. Once you have their interest arrange to go and see them at a convenient place and time for them, remember make their job easy.

Once you've met and got your enthusiasm over you'll have an advantage over all the other people who will just email press releases with no prior connection. When yours turn up the journalist will recognise them and you're far more likely to feature in the paper.

The last rule is to be polite, never be too pushy but be persistent. And always remember to thank the journalist after the article has been printed.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Solve your customers problems, not tell them what you've been doing

I just received an email news letter, I'm sure you get load of these as well.

I had a quick scan down the copy as it's about a product I use a lot and I'm having issues with. So the timing of the email was great for me.

But once I started to read the copy I realised that the news letter wasn't written for me it was written for the MD of the company. The first 4 paragraphs told me about what the company had been doing.

To summarise the copy was all about "We".

We've been busy, we've done this, we've don that - you know the score.

I'm sure this company are really proud of what they've achieved and so they should be.

But in the end I selfish. I want to know what they can do for me? How can they solve my problems? Why should I spend my cash with them?

If they had started these paragraphs with You or Your, the readership and final actions, which is what counts, would be greatly improved.

The lesson? Always put the customer first, they don't care about you. They are selfish like you and me, give them what they want.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Buy before you Die

On Radio 5 Live this morning, they interviewed a guy who makes made to measure coffins. He'll make whatever you want, from an egg to an aeroplane.

This kind of thing only appeals to a small niche, which is great.

The thing I liked best was when the guy said;
"These are mainly for the 'Buy Before You Die' customer".

I don't know whether he did that on purpose but, he should definitely use it as a tag line. It'll offend loads of people I'm sure but his target market of people wanting designer coffins will love it.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Corporate Blogging - Yes or No? You tell me

Over on SEOMoz, there's an article on Corporate Blogging and whether it's a good idea or not.

I've been pushing for a corporate blog for ages. I've read all the blogs on the subject and the books. I know the value of doing it, but I'm still hanging on. There are lots of issues I need to settle first.

  1. Who will blog?
    Most people in the business don't see the value of a company blog. They don't have that much interaction with websites and can't see the advantage. So getting buy in is an issue.
  2. Who'll maintain and edit it?
    Our site currently gets nearly 100K unique visitors per day and we have a team working constantly on the site to keep it going. Can I justify the extra work involved?
  3. What will be the ROI?
    This is the killer. How can I measure the Return on Investment?
  4. How to keep the momentum going?
    Lots of people will be enthusiastic at the beginning, but how can I keep that up?

There are loads more questions than just these, but these are the main stumbling blocks. Overcome these and I'm off and running.

One more issue is the company is very busy anyway can we afford a distraction like this. Or on the other hand can we not afford to miss the opportunity!

I'd love to know if anyone else has had these dilemmas and how they've over come them, or even decided against a blog altogether.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Are all cutomers created the same?

I've just completed our marketing plan for 2007 and presented it to our sales team. These things are always a bit tricky, until you've finished you never really know how they'll go. This went OK, a few blank looks but most people got the idea and took it on board.

In simple terms I segmented the database of customers based on spend and frequency. Pretty basic stuff.

One question stuck out though.

"Shouldn't we treat all our customers the same, though?" one of the sales team asked.

She had a point of sorts.

Yes we should treat all our customers as friends and be as courteous and helpful as possible. After all without customers we have no business.

But, not all customers are created the same. Some are worth a lot to the company and some aren't. The value of our service varies wildly from orders of £6 right up to orders in the millions or pounds. This is great because we've worked out how to work in the long tail.

But to achieve this we've automated our services. If you have a small order then you can pay online, you still get the same professional delivering the service but we have less admin and we make a decent profit. The customers are happy because they got what the wanted and we're happy we supplied it at a decent profit.

Were some people get stuck, is that they have been brain washed about customer service, which is great, but they forget to put that into perspective. They are quite happy to spend an hour with a customer with a job for £40, and basically oversell the service.

How would you feel if every time you ordered a Big Mac the counter staff went into a depth about how they made the burger, the bun the sauce, what McDonald's over all strategy was on everything in the world? You'd just say, "give the burger!"

Not all customers are the same, sorry. Some are worth more, it's capitalism.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

How to rank high using link bait

I use link bait on my site it has loads of articles, map, fonts, free translation tools. Unfortunately I'm not using it as much as I could this this blog on link baiting will be my bible an should be yours too. There are no clever bit of code or complex algos to learn just common sense advice.

Wok This Way - Chinese Delight in Sheffield

Wouldn't you love your Chinese take-away to entertain you as well as feed you. Wok This Way in Walkley in Sheffield manages it at every point.

First the name, I defy you not to smile when you say it. It's the perfect name, it's probably not unique but I don't care.

The shop front has a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory feel, you walk in and the place is empty other than the lady at the counter. You place your order and suddenly the two chefs appear. They fire up the Woks and flames and pots and ladles begin to fly. Again that smile creeps across your face.

Then it's all over, the foods freshly packaged and off you go. I'm sure they deliver too, but that way you miss the entertainment and the whole feel of it.

If you visit Sheffield, then you need to Wok This Way.

They just need a website. I'll add the phone number and address when I get home tonight.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Bad PowerPoint

I'm currently evangelising good PowerPoint at my company. We run by the Beyond Bullet Points and Presentation Zen rules of visualising points and telling a story rather than the standard Look and Read school.

If you are still part of the Look and Read school then you need to read this post but great post by Seth Godin on Bad PowerPoint.

Read, learn, ingest ...stop boring people to death!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The art of PR without PR

Chris Anderson as ever gives good blog, with deep and meaningful insight (I wish I could too)

This time on the long tail of PR.

If you haven't read "Long Tail" what have you been doing, buy it now and realise the way forward, yes it is that good!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Best Practices for Title Tags

SEOmoz Blog Best Practices for Title Tags

Over on SEOmoz, there's the best article I've seen in a while on whiting title tags.

As with most things you should write for the reader, not for yourself and definately not for a search engine. Writing for search engines make get you the visits you want, but they won't get you any quality.

As any direct marketer knows its converstion that counts.

Found a webmaster

Finally I found my webmaster. Krishan starts in February and I think I've got a good catch, he'll be maintaining the site and doing the SEO for it, luckily its in a good state so he can only improve it really.

I had real trouble finding a good candidate. After talking to a few people it seems I was a bit naive, everyone wants webmasters and SEO staff, but there aren't enough people. So I feel lucky that I found Krishan.

When I looked on Monster (UK) for SEO it gave no results which amazed me, clearly there's a skills gap or people don't know what to put in CV's.

Still if they can't optimise their CV's what hope have they with a website?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Job for a Web Master

Things are really busy and I'm looking to hire a full time Web Master at our head office in Huddersfield to work on

The site is probably the busiest website for translation in the world and recently won a Webby Award. Here's the job description, if you're interested drop me an email.

Job Title – Web Master

Wage Band - £14K - £17K (depending on experience)

Office – Huddersfield

Essential requirements
Knowledge of ASP, PHP, (X)HTML and CSS.
Web Design and Graphics Skills
Knowledge of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Examples of previous websites worked on
Excellent English
Energetic and full of ideas

Knowledge of Content Management systems
Ability to write copy and articles
Marketing qualification

At least 2 years web design/development experience (not necessarily in business)