Tag Archives: digital

7 questions to ask yourself about using social media for business.

“We want to create value for you by sharing marketing tips and timesavers” – O’C&K.

Being smart about social media is not just looking cool online.

Speaking recently at a seminar organised by The Wheel for their members, I used the slide below in relation to using social media. Before this element, we had discussed the importance of managing a charity’s brand offline, so this was a natural progression.

You might point out (correctly) that the seven questions posed in the slide could be asked of any planned communication, especially the fifth one, but for this article let’s just concern ourselves with social media. So what do these questions mean? They simply mean that you should think before you start broadcasting your message across social networks.

It is really important that a strategy is agreed up front, which comprises the value of the proposed activity to your customer and to your brand. If, for instance, you decide to use twitter for customer support only, well then curating and sharing content might be a waste of time for you.

If deciding on the usage is the first step, then evaluating which social media platform you should be on, is the second. Of course, this depends on where your audience is. For instance, you might need an e-commerce site rather than a social media site, so being smart about your online marketing is as essential as any other element of business success.

Let’s be honest with ourselves, there is absolutely no need to be on every new platform that emerges. The new shiny tool might look ‘cool’, and you feel that your brand is leading-edge, but in reality it might well be a total time suck.

Thoughts on Social Media

So, how do you know if you should use social media?

Well, let’s take the last question, posed on the slide, first. If being on social networks doesn’t bring some value to your business – what’s the point? You are not going to know whether it can bring value of course, unless you have planned the activity and made it measureable. Ask yourself do your customers want to engage with you on social media? Better still – ask them ….then you’ll know, because if all you want is to be seen online, with no engagement, then you really need to re-think your overall marketing objectives.

Even if customers say they do want you online, you have to figure out the ‘why’. In my opinion, I believe that customers buy from you because of you and how you do business (your product or service being the transacted value). They like you, and they are loyal to you. However, when it comes to being loyal online, your customers will only translate that loyalty if your activity there continues to be relevant to them e.g. latest offers or sales.

Of course social media, comparatively speaking, is a cheap and ever-present means of marketing, but as alluded to in the said slide’s questions, it’s all about being in relevant places. I mean, is there any point in a Facebook page directing potential customers to a shop on the high street? The very essence of a viable business is about how your offer meets people’s needs and desires and if it doesn’t well then, no amount of social activity online will grow your business.

Whatever purpose you decide to be online for – commit wholeheartedly to it. If you don’t have the time, the in-house resources or the commitment, look at outsourcing the set-up, monitoring and measurement of your online activity.

When I mention ‘outsourcing’ I always feel compelled to mention social media gurus. I have written about these mythical creatures before, here, and about how I believe that there can be no such people, due to the rapid shifting sands of social media tools. There are definitely folks who can advise you on what tools are available, but in fairness you’re not an expert because of them, you’re an expert because of how you can use the information the tools provide.

My point here is that if one doesn’t have the basic marketing skills to begin with, the tools are almost irrelevant. What happens when twitter and Facebook disappear? Surely fundamental marketing and communication skills will still be required to use the ‘new’ tools on the block. After all a writer’s talent doesn’t change whether they are using a typewriter or an iPad.

Tips and Timesavers.

If you don’t want to outsource and decide to go it alone here are six basic elements that should form your digital visibility:

  •                 a simple website (optimised for search and usage)
  •                 a social media presence (on relevant platform/s)
  •                 a blog
  •                 email newsletters (customer focused)
  •                 webinars (or podcasts or YouTube videos)
  •                 traffic reports (e.g. google analytics)

Remember though, if you are going to outsource to a communication company you need to ask yourself these questions; how much time do I need to commit to working with them, do I want just a digital agency or an integrated marketing firm, are they cutting edge and are you willing to take risks, can they collaborate with other agencies you might be using and can you work with them i.e. is there chemistry.

Still wondering what to do? – just call O’Connor & Kelly – we’ll meet you for a chat with no strings attached.

If you have any other tips or timesavers please leave a reply below. If you’d like to receive similar content, just subscribe by clicking through the pink button, on this page.  Of course if you want to get in touch, leave your details and perhaps we might meet for a chat, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K

Digital Strategy is alive and well.

“We want to create value for you by sharing marketing tips and timesavers” – O’C&K.

Get a bigger bang for your marketing buck.

It’s not only in business, you know. It seems like the world is going through a digital / technological warp. The general public, your customers, your family and all their equipment, have already connected wirelessly and now apparently we are entering the era of ‘the internet of things’. I have previously spoken here on these pages about the importance of an online presence, but in this post, I’m going to chat about why having a digital strategy, is necessary so as to avoid flapping around in this sea of social and search and getting nowhere.

I have been asked to give a short talk to a gathering of small businesses at the end of this month, and I think that this is the subject I am going to broach with them. I want to talk about it because I come across many SMEs on social media on a daily basis, that are there only to ‘advertise’ their wares. Even if they do write a blog, more than not, the channel chosen is viewed as a tool, solely to push the link. Rarely do I see a structured effort to engage with customers. Oh, and by the way, when I say ‘engage’ I mean a two-way activity. So what’s wrong here? I believe that many businesses will acknowledge that they do require an online presence but unfortunately they jump straight into using the ‘shiny new tools’ to garner followers, without proper thought – without professional help – without making it part of their overall business strategy.

Modern consumers do not like being sold to.

As I have alluded to before, if the consumer is now buying rather than being sold to, then an online presence should be part of the overall customer experience. If you’re not there – your customer may well ‘experience’ one of your competitors. However, when you do decide on a digital strategy, then remember that nothing is different online about your customers. They still want you to solve their problem in a timely and efficient manner. They still want a relationship. As I have said above, too often businesses act like kids with a new toy and just grow page likes, followers, friends and subscribers and then don’t engage. They don’t act like that offline – so why do it online. A digital strategy should be an integral part of your marketing activity and thereby a part of your overall business strategy. A co-ordinated plan of activity covering paid for, earned and owned digital assets should be aligned to reflect your business objectives and complete the customer’s 360 degree experience of your brand

I was reminded of this only last week when discussing a potential sponsorship strategy with a client. They were full sure that they would obtain a sponsor for a sports property they were involved with – because they had over 20,000 likes on their Facebook page. They were stumped when I asked them how they engaged with those ‘friends’ and how many of them were into sport. They had no idea. Not all was lost, I’m glad to say – we pulled together a sponsorship approach based on what the brand stands for, and who their target audience was. We matched those with potential sponsors and ….. Well, it was only last week but, hopefully they will get an appropriate partner, as a result.

So let’s say you do have a clear vision of what your business is, where it wants to go and who your customers and prospects are. Let’s also assume that you have a broad digital strategy that fits neatly into your business plans. Now we will look at 5 basic tactical areas that you should be planning for.

Tips and Timesavers.

If all this digital stuff terrifies you or you don’t have the time – just get help. There are many agencies out there that will create a plan with you or indeed you might well want to outsource it to a company to manage it for you. We have a Smarter Business Guide here on our website, that has ten questions on digital visibility. Have a look, it might give you a start or a steer on what to look for if outsourcing to an agency. Either way, at a minimum your tactical plan should include:

  • Search Engine Marketing (SEO), the rules change frequently so professional advice is recommended.
  • Social Media Marketing, you need to be visible to your audience at many, relevant, brand touch points.
  • Blogging, this works for search engines and of course your audience – if the content is appropriate.
  • Online newsletters/email, these are an excellent way of reaching customers in their personal space.
  • Measurement Tools, analytical tools are a must if you are to ensure that you are not wasting effort.

I cannot stress enough that if SMEs are to compete successfully with the larger companies in their industry, having a digital marketing strategy is not just good policy – it’s a necessary policy. Think of it this way – if you are smaller, you are more flexible. If you are flexible you can react faster to competitive situations. If your competitors are missing a trick, online – go for it. Create a blog, a video, a podcast, whatever gives you an advantage with your customers and prospects. Again, if all of this appears to be too much, outsource to somebody like us, (we too are small and flexible) or at least outsource the bit that you can’t do in-house.

To finish off here, in no way am I proposing that digital is the only way to market these days. Depending on your business type and customer’s personae, traditional methods may still be the most appropriate way of reaching them. What I am proposing though is that by being a little smarter and integrating online efforts into your marketing activity, you will achieve a bigger bang for your marketing buck.

If you have any other tips or timesavers please leave a reply below. If you’d like to receive similar content, just subscribe by clicking through the pink button, on this page.  Of course if you want to get in touch, leave your details and perhaps we might meet for a chat, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K

Are you using digital marketing, or still renting eyeballs and ears?

“We want to create value for you by sharing marketing tips and timesavers” – O’C&K.

Build your own audience based on relationships.

In recent days I’ve been hearing and reading that the Irish economy is bottoming out of its economic downturn. Whilst the retail sector is still struggling, many of us SMEs are starting to think about long term plans.

One of the areas we should closely examine is digital marketing because online spending is the one sector of the economy that is actually growing year on year. It does appear however that investment in this area by Irish brands have not kept pace with the extraordinary growth due in the main, I suppose, to lack of positive sentiment and the usual cutting of marketing spend by businesses in a recession. This needs to be addressed ASAP because online spending is due to grow to 7% of all expenditure in the next three years. We all need to be ready to capitalise on this growth.

Renting eyeballs and ears is so last century.

In fairness though, some SMEs have at least started the online journey. Either through their own sources or from outsourced advice, it is slowly dawning on them that instead of borrowing audiences from traditional channels, being online is enabling them to go directly to customers and prospects. The changing marketing environment means that there is not a need to just rent eyeballs and ears with TV, radio, print and promotions. Now they can work on building their own audience online (and offline), based more on direct relationships. The online element is an opportunity to expose the real  brand  story by posting timely, useful, and sharable content for their customers and prospects.

A Valeria Maltoni blog here  (from an Economist Unit report#) has some interesting trends in this regard. The chart below “shows how most companies (57%) are still relying on their website as their main communication tool, followed by e-mail (37%). Only 27% are using social media, with just 13% using mobile apps. That mix will change over the next three years. Companies in the survey say social media will become their number-one channel (43%) and their use of apps will leap fourfold.”

which-channels

In general, I think that we are moving in the right direction but the reluctance to fully embrace digital marketing here in Ireland seems to be that SMEs are not sure which horse (channel) to back from the plethora of options open to them. In addition, quite a lot of, self appointed, online gurus with no marketing background, sometimes are advising which technologies to use based on personal preference rather than what’s best for the SME. Choose your marketing partners carefully.

Tips and Timesavers.

Obviously, everyone with a smart phone and an internet presence effectively becomes a content creator, these days; however for all of us it is imperative that we adhere to the basic tenets of marketing.  – *know yourself, *know your customer, *know what they want and *know what your competitors aren’t doing – . Thereafter your brand story or marketing content should be filtered through your business objectives. That’s where a digital content strategy comes in.

Do you recognise some or all of these challenges?

  • You are engrossed in the operational side of the business not marketing.
  • Managing external agencies together with internal colleagues is not always easy.
  • Traditional mass marketing was easier – now relationship building needs different skills.
  • There is so much information available; it seems hard to know where to start.
  • Some online gurus are focused on the tools rather than the business objectives.

To conclude – I think the good news is that there are opportunities to grow your business using digital marketing. Also, it is starting to emerge that companies who embrace short and focused online campaigns as an integral part of their overall marketing activity will reap the rewards. Those that continue with big, mass market campaigns will be left behind by their own customers, who have completely changed their expectations.

If you have any other tips or timesavers please leave a reply below. If you’d like to receive similar content, just subscribe by clicking through the pink button, on this page.  Of course if you want to get in touch, leave your details and perhaps we might meet for a chat, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K

Increase your brand’s visibility by using digital marketing

OC&K Digital

The days of single channel marketing are over.

At this stage most companies will have realised that their customer base is changing and are looking at ways to adapt their communication activity to include digital marketing.

Just in case there are still some out there who need a visual reminder of how fragmented the customer journey has become, here is a diagram. I have yet to come across a better diagram of it than this one from a www.ZDNet.com blog:

todaysshift

Although some companies do realise that the habits and purchasing methods of their customer base is changing, many just don’t know where to start. Just look at the sheer volume of ways that a customer now engages brands. This phenomenon has caused many companies to fail, as they could not or did not adapt quickly enough. Even today, some companies insist on sticking to the old ‘reliable’ broadcast methods such as TV, radio, press only. Basically, the public have moved to a more digital world (e-commerce) and business is not keeping pace. Business needs to move from making customers aware and trying to sell the benefits of, their product / service, to letting the customer know (on their terms) that you have what they want. Admittedly, it’s still the age old approach of solving a problem for them, but now you must make their life simpler or at least engage with them as a person. The point is that the opportunity of being able to do this, as a strategy, through digital marketing  is greater than ever nowadays.

Moving from invisible to visible.

Every day you will read somewhere that email is dead, that SEO is dead, that TV is dying, but one thing IS for sure – the days of single channel marketing are over. Combining and integrating existing marketing activity with a digital strategy (social, search and content) into your business planning is now vital to move from invisible to visible in an increasingly crowded and fragmented marketplace.

Here are some statistics for Ireland, courtesy of www.simplyzesty.ie

Mobile Movement

mobile-movement

Professional help is available to SMEs to fully embrace this digital integration and it need not be a costly exercise – just a smarter one.

If you’re new here thanks for popping in and please feel free to leave a reply below. If you liked our content, by all means subscribe by clicking through the pink button to receive our regular updates.  Of course if you want to get in touch, leave your details and perhaps we might meet for a chat, cheers.      Jim – O’C&K