How can you diversify to strengthen your product offering?
How can you get the best out of your staff?
What benefits could the fast evolving trade printing sector deliver?
Could it be that your own body language holds the key to growing sales and profitability?
Expert speakers at the The Smart Directions Conference provided the answers to these questions and more.
Digital transformation – the imperative to change
While printers may see opportunities in the way consumers are delivering a backlash against digital advertising, they are also coming under pressure to embrace digital through their technology and processes, as well as their service offering.
In this presentation I looked at what digital transformation means for printers and how they should respond.
“Digital transformation” was explored by marketing consultant Roger Christiansen, who described digital print as a “quiet revolution” – with virtual stock, faster time to market, printing locally and on-demand services continuing to see off the threat of e-books. Digital Printer Magazine
I hear a lot from senior managers of a certain age that Social Media isn’t for them. They feel that they should participate but Social Media seems to be an alien world, for the under 25s only.
So here’s my advice on how you adopt some of the practices of Growth Hacking and the Social Media world to build your own presence and take advantage of Social Media tools.
Why MVP ?
Growth hacking is the new approach to development. It’s all about fearlessly getting to market and growing as quickly as you can using whatever methods you can (some not so legal!). Fail fast, then fail better..
The idea of an Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is that you get to market with just enough so that you can launch, and establish the market opportunity. If you are successful, you then develop as you go to meet market demand.
You can use the same approach to Social Media. You don’t need to invest lots of money to build a presence. You can get started very cheaply and easily, and build from there. Provided you follow some key principles.
Don’t underestimate the power of Social Media
Whatever your views on Social Media, no one can deny that it has incredible power. Take, for example, the Champions League Match between Dortmund and Monaco. The match had to be rescheduled due to a bomb attack on the Dortmund bus, and there were thousands of Monaco fans needing accommodation in Dortmund.
German fans turned to Twitter to offer accommodation to Monaco fans. What was amazing was not just that Monaco fans could find accommodation but the goodwill generated by the many shares on Social Media of Dortmund and Monaco fans together.
Don’t over-estimate Social Media
But, there’s also a lot of hype about Social Media… Not everyone uses Social Media. And the world of Social Media – like much in the Digital World – is highly fragmented.
There is also a dark side to the internet. Millions of accounts on the leading platforms are actually fake accounts – and nearly 77% of all internet activity in Europe is “dark social”; untracked and off the radar. (eConsultancy, Feb 2016)
The Key point is that it is highly unlikely that 100% of your customers and prospects will use Social Media. And it is extremely unlikely that they will use Social exclusively as a channel to find out about your company or your products.
Social Media is a channel not a strategy
So you have to include Social Media in your strategy, but don’t make Social Media the strategy. Social Media platforms provide great communication channels to your target audiences.
But remember that Social Media platforms are highly fragmented and tribalised. So my advice is:
Link your messages on Social Media to all of your other channels. Don’t treat each channel (and this applies as well to email newsletters, campaigns, website, PR) as a silo. Link everything together. This will probably save you work too !
Consistent messaging – have consistent messages which you deliver across all of your channels.
Adapt for different audiences: different audiences have different expectations on the various Social Media channels (and this also applies to email, web sites and so on). For instance, platforms like Snapchat and Instagram tend to be highly image orientated. LinkedIN tends to be more thoughtful and business-like.
However beware of generalisations… because…
Rules – what rules ?
You see a lot of articles setting out rules for how to maximise use of platforms like LinkedIN, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter etc.
However in reality there are no hard and fast rules. Twitter didn’t even invent the Hashtag: end-users created this. But this is exactly how these platforms develop and innovate…
Social Media is still relatively new. Most of the major platforms are under 10 years old and there is a lot of change going on in this sector.Facebook owns WhatsApp
Facebook introducing new Business features
Facebook owns Instagram and is introducing new features to counter the rise of Snapchat
Microsoft owns LinkedIN
Twitter may charge for Premium membership
Content – quality not quantity
According to Marketing Week, nearly 60% of all corporate content is clutter. To be fair this doesn’t just apply to Digital content (how many people actually read brochures ?) however Social Media makes it deceptively easy to create and distribute content, without any of the usual balances and controls you would normally apply to a printed piece, or content for your website.
People say that the average life of a Tweet is 18 minutes – so, if you add it all up, the vast majority of digital content has no impact, and is quite possibly never read.
So, my advice is as follows,..
Quality not quantity – If it isn’t worth saying then don’t say it !! (Be honest, who actually reads #Mondaymotivation tweets ?)
Be consistent – each Social network is a Communications channel… have a clearly defined objective for your messages and adapt them for each channel.
Cut and paste blogs for each separate channel
Play the game – when you get to your MVP you can be selective over who follows you
If you are going to participate then you need a Minimum Viable Presence – this means a credible number of followers.
So, for LinkedIN, this means at least 200 followers, preferable over 1000 to become an All-star Profile.
For Twitter and Facebook, at least 500 followers
There are a number of simple techniques to do this. Contact me to find out more.
This means that you will have to accept a lot of poor quality followers … people who have no business value… but I would say that you can be fussy about your followers once you’ve got to your MVP…
So, my advice is that, to get the best out of Social Media you need to put it in its place. It’s a valuable communications channel, which can really add value and reach new people in new ways.
Just don’t put too much effort into using Social Media. No more, no less.
I’m a Freelance Marketing Consultant. Contact me to find out how I can help your transform your business for the digital world.
So I was both a little bit surprised and – I’ve got to say – impressed last week by a class at Abingdon and Witney College.
Let me explain… I’m training as a part-time Lecturer at the College, and I volunteered to set an activity for a class of Higher Education level Management students.
The Twitter challenge
The idea of the activity was to set a Strategic challenge. So I chose Twitter. Twitter, to me, seem to be very much at a strategic crossroads. After years of growth, suddenly they have a major challenge – their user base isn’t as growing as fast as it was, and they are losing advertising revenue, partly due to the association with Donald Trump (the “Trump effect”).
So, the challenge was – if the students were running Twitter, what would they do next ?
Like a keen, newly inducted, earnest teacher I had a complete timed plan for activity ready, along with help if the students needed some inspiration…. I even had some “late breaking news” lined up to mix things up half-way through..
They didn’t need any of it..
Creative solutions from tomorrows leaders
They weren’t daunted by the challenge. What folowed was a lively and wide-ranging dicussion covering celebrities to bots.
Some students brushed off the current woes relating to Trump with a very mature assessment that, if their model is based on growth, and they are growing then they don’t have a problem longer term.
Others came up with ideas to target new celebrities and drive growth (and improve Twitter’s image).
Others suggested focusing on driving live events through Twitter ..
Rising to the occasion
Personally I learned a lot by this activity. Principally not to underestimate the potential of students. Give them an interesting challenge and they will rise to the occasion.
Isn’t this just what we want from our future leaders ?
Isn’t it surprising that, in an age of instant news, AI and increasing automation the humble eNewsletter still persists as a staple of Marketing Communications ?
Newsletters have been around as long as printing – in fact historians believe the first recorded print newsletter appeared in 1538. And eNewsletters have been around as long as email – the late 1990s.
They may not be the trendiest of Marketing Tactics, but I believe eNewsletters just need a revamp to bring them into the modern age.
Here are my 6 steps to reinvent your eNewsletter…
Step 1: it starts with the strategy
Just like any other Marketing Tactic, you should be clear about what you are trying to do – i.e. Who are you trying to target, when you want to say it and what you want to say.
How you reach your target audience is another matter. So it’s important to separate the medium from the message.
Step 2: sort out your database
This may be really really obvious but to send out an eNewsletter you need – err – a database. Yet, all too often I have found that data quality can be a major problem.
In one of my email campaigns I was given a spreadsheet of 30,000 contacts – all it contained were email addresses… So we had no idea who these people were, whether or not they were the right target audience. And we didn’t know if we had their permission for us to contact them.
So, before you start your eNewsletter planning, get your data into shape. It’s always worth cleaning your data, even if it comes from your CRM system and Sales Teams. Remember that your customers will expect you to know their details. And, if you want to do any personalisation or targetting you’ll need information like firstname, Job title, company name etc…
There are a number of ways of cleaning your data, including:
Telephone your contacts
Self-cleaning – ask your contacts to confirm their information
Progressive profiling – use automation tools to request missing information
And the new GDPR regulation is a great method for cleaning data as well. The regulation is based on the German Double Option, in which works as follows..
You ask someone for their permission to market to them – they fill out a form and provide an email address
You send an email to them requesting them to confirm that they want to optin (hence the double optin)
In my experience the end result is that every email on your database has been confirmed as current and accurate.
Step 3: get creative – ditch “Sign up for our Newsletter”
When it comes to getting new contacts for your eNewsletter, then you have to be a bit creative. “Sign up for our Newsletter” is one of the least successful ways of gaining subscribers.
So it’s worth taking the time to understand your target audience, and their interests. There are many studies that show that personalised content gets a much higher response rate than non-personalised.
Just – please – avoid the “one size fits all approach”
Step 5: timing is everything
The original print Newsletters were designed around print production schedules. Yet the design and concept of the vast majority of eNewsletters that I see have changed little from their print forefathers.
In a world of 24/7 instant news, does anyone actually sit by their phone or desktop eagerly anticipating your eNewsletter so they can get up to date with the latest information ?
But packaging content together does have value and I think there’s a lot to be learned from Media organisations.
For example take the BBC. They distribute their content via a multitude of channels: TV, web sites, Apps and Social Media. The key thing is that they have different types of content for different purposes, such as:
Breaking News alerts
Long, in depth articles
Your content may be much simpler than the BBC, but you could still implement a hybrid approach to provide your audience with a range of content to interest and inform them. And, of course, like many Media companies you could even charge for premium content.
Yesterday I attended an excellent seminar by Andy Street, ex MD of John Lewis. Although the topic was about Ethical business, for me it was really another fascinating transformation story.
What was most interesting for me was how JLP’s ethical approach helped them to respond to, and transform their business in response to the double whammy of digital disruption and the Credit Crunch.
Back in 2007, JLP were just starting their foray into multi-channel and had purchased buy.com to to establish their online business. However soon after, the credit crunch hit and their revenues declined dramatically.
This required a major restructure of their business, but it was impressive to hear how they stuck to their guns and continued to focus on their future growth – their online business. They were one of the pioneers of click and collect and at a time when their competitors were reducing investments, they also opened more stores as they realised that, in order to compete in the online world, they had to have more points of presence.
The results ?
Online sales grew from 12% in 2008/9 to 36% in 2015/6
JLP has evolved from a Multichannel to an Omnichannel model: stores run as local businesses
Last, but not least, JLP’s business is still based around bricks and mortar (I look forward to the new JLP shop opening in Oxford) . It t seems to have successfully weathered the storm and come out of the digital / credit crunch stronger and fitter for the future…
I’m a Freelance Marketing Consultant. Contact me to find out how I can help your transform your business for the digital world.