Sunday, 30 January 2011

Why Implement Digital Technologies?

This January I have spent a great deal of time networking and meeting new and familiar faces within my digital and marketing community whilst I work to raise their awareness of who I am and what my expertise are. As a result of these conversations I have come to realise that there is a real divide surrounding the question, ‘Why are businesses implementing digital technologies and marketing strategies?’ In one camp I find that many businesses simply feel that they must have a digital campaign in order to keep up, they feel that they simply have to blog and/or tweet because everyone else does! In the other camp, where I reside are those who realise that like all good marketing campaigns success is measured in deliverables, ‘Can I see a real benefit to my business that has been created as a direct result of this activity?’

It seems obvious to me that if a business is going to invest money, or even just time planning, implementing and delivering a digital campaign it should be clear at the outset why they are embarking on the activity and what they hope to achieve from it. Real returns on investment can be created if the aims of your campaign are closely linked to the overall objectives of your business. However it is important to consider the kind of business you have and tailor your ambitions accordingly. For example large household brands such as Dell may use digital technologies such as Twitter to foster relationships with large communities of potential customers, bolstering brand awareness and increasing sales, but how can we translate this kind of success to a smaller business?

I heard a great anecdote at Manchester Social Media Surgery ( a couple of weeks ago, where the panel/audience discussion turned to the use of social media in political campaigns. It seems that on the face of things Social Media was deemed essential to the party political campaigns that were in full swing during the run up to the general election, but how did these activities really affect the results of the vote? From the discussion held during the Manchester Surgery I gleaned that whilst on the surface it appeared that these political digital campaigns didn’t really appear to have any tangible impact, i.e. Twitter doesn’t appear to have persuaded anyone to change their voting allegiance! However, success can be measured where the campaigns were more focused in their objectives. As I understand it political parties have a wealth of information available at their fingertips and this enables them to assess the likely political preference of any voting constituency based on their demographics, i.e. average household income, what car they drive, number of kids etc, etc. However not all of these potential voters will take the time to visit their poling station on Election Day. The digital campaigns that were aimed at getting those voters out of the house and into the polling station really did appear to work. Using social media to foster relationships with the voting community and engaging with them prior to the election placed the campaigner in a position of trust and authority with their constituents, which could then be leveraged to persuade those individuals to make the effort to place their vote on the day.

In conclusion the key to any digital technology implemented is that it deliver tangible returns on investment. When working with businesses I find that it is imperative to understand their overall business objectives and then agree with them the specific aims for the current project. One of the most important parts of this client discovery process is to work with them to agree how the success of the project will be measured against the aims set and what results would be deemed a sucess. It is important to set realistic targets and then, if at all possible exceed these expectations! This approach to implementing digital campaigns with your clients should help you to build ongoing, effective and fruitful relationships with plenty of return business. :-)

I would be interested to hear your thoughts and how you implement digital campaigns, please feel free to post your comments here, or alternatively you can ask me in person - I will be on the panel at next months Social Media Surgery in Manchester on the 8th Feb, see you there!?

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Self Promotion

As some of you may have noticed, my activity here on the blog has been a little sporadic lately… The reason for this is that my attention has been elsewhere, hence the focus of this post, but first for a bit of background information.

As most of you will know our startup is bootstrapped with funds and resource provided by the parent company, a digital/software agency. As you will also be aware one of our main business objectives has been raising investment to enable our early stage business to grow faster than would otherwise be possible. We had some initial success, securing some angel investment from an established publishing house in Manchester and also got close to raising investment from one of the government funds in Liverpool, just before the economic crash when the fund was closed. Towards the end of last year we made one last push to try and raise investment, this time we looked abroad, but unfortunately the current financial climate meant that there was very little funding available and in the end the competition was just too fierce. This, combined with the fact that the parent company was also struggling to secure development contracts of any significant size, pushed the MD of both companies to make some difficult decisions. It was clear that the current setup was no longer financially viable, therefore although will continue as before with six unpaid directors, there will no longer be any paid-for resource available. In addition the staff of the parent company, including myself are sadly being made redundant.

And so, moving on to the focus of this post, taking a new year, new start approach I have been reassessing my personal and private objectives. My main priority is to find a new job and therefore I spent sometime looking carefully at my skills and experience to determine what sort of position I would like. What kind of role would make the best use of my skills and what areas would I like to develop moving forward. In conclusion I am looking for an Account/Project Management role in the Digital sector, with an opportunity to grown my stratigic thinking/planning, but how to go about achieving that goal...
  1. I started by writing a CV, which I tailored specifically towards the type of role I would like and sent that out to a number of the recruitment agencies. I tried to meet with as many of the recruiters as possible, building relationships with these guys is key, if they know you and like you then they are much more likely to do a great job selling you and your skills to their clients.

  2. I also created gathering all of my digital activity together in a single place, somewhere I can point people and they can instantly get a quick overview of me and my online activity.

  3. I updated my Linkedin profile and increased my activity within my groups, trying to answer questions and contribute to discussions. Engaging with members of the community in this way will help to establish me as an expert in my field and raise awareness of my skills and abilities within the minds of my peers.

  4. I have made my Twitter community aware of my situation and received a number of helpful hints, tips and offers of advice from my followers. Use Twitter to engage your community and foster real relationships, in the same way as you would to promote your company or product. Tweet regularly and add value to you community everyday:
    • Try to answer a question, respond or do something nice
    • Publish a link that is of interest to you and your followers
    • Talk about an event you have attended or will attend
    ONLY if your community values you, will they respond well when:
    • You ask questions or look for help/support
    • Sell yourself, your products or services

  5. Finally I been attending a number January networking events (as my twitter readers will have noticed!), the purpose of this is to get myself out there, be seen by people in the industry and let them know I am in the market for a new role. As with business promotion it is important to combine online and offline promotion, getting in front of people will keep you at the forefront of their mind. Make sure to give them a business card and follow up with any contacts you make, if there are potential synergies meet up later for a one-to-one to find out more information. Like all self promotion it is important to establish yourself as a member of the community, don’t just sell, listen, introduce people to relevant contacts and then people will do the same for you. This will help to establish you as an expert in your field and in time people will come to you based on your reputation with opportunities tailor-made just for you!!
Wish me luck in my search for a new role :-)