Tags Posts tagged with "ideas"

ideas

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blog_inspiration

Inspiration for blog posts can come in all shapes and sizes and from the unlikeliest of places.

Here are my proven ways for you to have that greater sense of achievement when you press that ‘publish’ button. I am here to make you more fulfilled and ensure what started as a commitment never becomes a, ‘I did it a couple of times in March.’

One of the biggest questions that I am asked is, ‘how do you not run out of things to write about?’ The simplest answer that I have is that I am relentlessly curious about how the world of marketing is shaping for small businesses in the mid part of this decade.

However, you may not be in marketing and that answer may not mean anything to you. Lets just cut right to the chase; you may only be here to read bold headlines and answers.

How can you create a consistent bank of original work that you can trace back to a bit of inspiration or just by digging deeper?

These are the places that have helped me write new articles every week since 19th January 2012. This is your very own route for blog inspiration.


 

Read

One of the biggest personal and professional changes for me was the moment that I started reading again.

Everything traces back to this book from Chet Holmes called The Ultimate Sales Machine (published in 2008). I picked this book up and since then reading has helped shape how I look at the world. More importantly every book I have read helps me become more creative and more strategic.

What I do is share what I have learnt and put my own interpretation on a theory into my daily life. Have a read of an article from 2013 that is simply ‘Why We Need To Read A Book’

Your Experiences

The week you experience is something that no one else can copy.

This provides the opportunity to almost create a diary of what you encounter and the people who are part of it.

No one is going to tell you that your week is wrong and whilst we are all being told to create original content, there is nothing more personal than documenting the challenges, rewards and frustrations you have. This is where your personality comes to the fore.

One of my quickest meetings to blog articles was from earlier this year when a company asked me, “Can Twitter generate an extra £150,000 per year?” This question made me think and realise the answer that I should have gave during the (wasted) meeting.

If you don’t want to read, the question made me realise that there is a new illiterate. It is our duty as businesses to adapt and continually learn.

a) Do Things b) Write About It

My whole human cannonball approach is to do things and then share what I have learnt.

I seem to have built a bank of blog articles that either link back to the Marketing Homebrew podcast, the Once Upon A Time event or the Content Revolution book.

This puts you in a position to document what you have done that no one else has achieved. This is the fingerprint that defines you and no one else.

See what I mean, it’s easy to tell someone how they need to create effective content, but even better if you can share what you have learnt by showing your own examples that doesn’t refer to Red Bull, Airbnb, Coca Cola or pulling out the Oreo Cookie ad.

Google Alerts

If we’re getting a bit into the Marketing 101 and travelling down the safe marketing path, setting up Google Alerts for your industry can uncover some hidden gems.

Here is an example that this works. When recommending this for a commercial interior company, you have to see beyond the ‘contract awarded to key word for $50m’ or the ‘how name of person transformed key word into a multi million business.’

The ability to share and comment on something that brings everyone together becomes content gold. Something still related to the commercial interior world, but from a different angle within Google Alerts becomes an opportunity to comment on the world’s first character branded colour, Minion yellow.

Your Passions

Nothing flows easier than believing in something and standing vehemently beside it.

This is what drives your enthusiasm. What you started (or starting) doing has to be more than, ‘I am doing this to make more money than the job I previously did.’ There has to be a reason and a purpose for what you are pursuing.

The thing that ignites my spark is the ability for businesses to persistently create something with limited barriers to entry. Companies now have the ability to build an audience that they have complete control of, what a fantastic opportunity for all of us. When looking over the blog topics, the majority of my articles are centred on businesses marketing as though it’s 2015 and owning what is theirs.

If you haven’t yet read The Content Revolution, download the opening section by clicking here that explains the situation we are in today and the opportunity it presents your business (no need for you email address, just download the PDF).

Categorising Notes

I know that I have lost hundreds of great ideas over the years believing that I would remember them. Trust me, you won’t remember them.

I started using ‘Notes’ on my Mac and iPhone, but now everything is synced via Evernote into categories. This could be links for articles that I need to read (but haven’t got round to), to noting ideas that come into my head, through to pages from books that introduce an interesting thought process.

Embrace Analytics

Looking back at what you have created and how it resonates with others is important to finding a thread to what can progress into a much more substantial topic piece.

Have a look within Google Analytics – Behaviour – Overview to see which pages and articles resonate and what doesn’t. For instance, my thread at the moment could potentially build momentum into a finely crafted sweater. The thread is based on the role an owned media approach has for business and what you have to consider for it to work.

I promise you that if you haven’t done this yet appraise where you are. If you have spent hours crafting the ‘About Us’ page, no one is bothered anymore.

Repurpose What Has Been Done

I have always stated that when I started blogging I was rubbish.

There was no theme to progress and was a stereotypical business related blog that had no individuality ie. how to be good at speaking, making Twitter work. They were pretty flat and done everywhere else. However, what I noticed was that there were seeds from earlier articles that could be progressed into more substantial work.

This fits the belief that we are always looking for the next idea, when we need to take stock of what we have already created and look at new ways to develop. Lets not get so fixated on creation, but curation of what you have uncovered that hasn’t been said elsewhere.

The Power Of Asking

If you are inquisitive about your industry, the channels that are available today lets you reach out in ways that you have never been able to before.

All it takes is to ask and for others to recognise that you are pursuing something that is far greater than expecting someone to tweet a link once they have contributed. This is how I have created my ongoing Talking Content Marketing series, since November 2013. This is intended to show a snapshot of where marketing is in the mid part of this decade and bring in the voices of authors and influencers from within the marketing industry.

A good space to ask and to also use as your content curation hub is Quora. This is an endless space of questions and debate. Who knows maybe an answer someone provides either becomes a contributor to your next article or the topic idea for your next post?

blog_inspiration

Friends & Other Conversations

I don’t want to go all soft and twee on you by saying ‘friends’, but you never know where a throwaway comment from someone else can end up.

For instance, I have an article on Mark Schaefer’s {Grow} blog, titled, “No One Cares What You Know, Until They Know You Care.” Little did I know that this was a quote from former US President, Theodore Roosevelt, but that’s not the point.

What matters is that this statement was mentioned by a friend one evening over a beer and I took it from there.

It planted a seed for me to understand that to become a valuable resource to others you have to invest time, learning and understand how you can be of use to others.

Be Lazy (the cheat)

I’m not endorsing this 100% (as this article is about digging deep) but if you find yourself looking at a blank screen, don’t feel like signing up to anything and a quick tool to give that momentum, there are two places that I recommend.

Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator

All you need to do is enter three words and the end result is a spark to ignite your writing.

blog_inspiration

Portent’s Content Idea Generator

Sometimes you just need to throw in your topic area and see what comes back at you (guarantee that you’ll keep clicking to see what ideas are thrown at you)

blog_inspiration


 

The sources for ideas and inspiration are all around you (don’t forget your in-box too).

I am sure that I have missed places that have possibly helped you. If I have, let me know or comment below. People are generating the momentum for something that they haven’t done before. When it comes to finding topics to write about, as you can see, there is an abundance of places. I can’t buy into the ‘but we have nothing to write about!’ lame excuse. I hope these are helpful to you.

Image at the top courtesy of Julija

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The Way It's Always Been Done_The ID Group_content marketing

It’s a lot easier to do everything the way it has always been done.

If we keep everything the way it’s been done before, then we know what’s going to happen. We find a groove and we keep to it, nothing is going to harm us or make us feel that slightest bit uncomfortable in our seat. Then again, we become identical to everyone else in our respective marketplaces.

The World Around Us Is The Same…What An Opportunity

My local business magazine/newspaper is a brilliant case study of a world that prefers ‘the way we do things round here.’ With articles about new appointments, business wins and people either shaking hands or my own personal favourite of individuals with phones close to their ears, proving even on camera they are the majority of the time busy.

 

The Way It Has Always Been Done_The ID Group_content marketing Bournemouth
Businesses ‘shaking hands’ exclusive
The Way It's Always Done_The ID Group_Bournemouth_Dorset
The shaking hand ‘to make sure the camera got it’ exclusive

 

On a more personal level I wrote an article (not for the mentioned business paper) a couple of weeks ago for a company based on achieving a national final after many years of being commended, but never reaching it to the final stage. Every year, they persevered and kept with it, rather than saying ‘we’re not going to do it this year,’ after another year of missing out. Their determination paid off and this year they have made it to the grand final. But rather than promoting the spirit of doggedness and drive, they wanted it the way that the majority of companies want to be seen within the press in terms of ‘we just want others to read how good we are.’

The Safety Blanket Around Us

Many businesses want to be packaged the way that everyone else is or where the road has always lead. The tried and tested routes are the safety blankets that we all want to feel warm and reassured by. If we can state to everyone else that our businesses excel at customer service or outstanding results, then we’re just the same as everyone else.

In the words from the world champion of individualism Ralph Waldo Emerson, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

Technology has now meant that we can shape our own paths and have a greater opportunity for others to see our point of view and our perception of the world.  The platforms available have meant that we have a greater opportunity to build a dialogue with an audience who believe in what we stand for. Ideas have now become currency and innovation becomes rewarded. Our greatest reward is for others to understand that we don’t fit a particular ready-made formula but will stick by us, warm to us and help us make profitable action.

Facing Our Fears

Sometimes the only thing that can push us forward is fear itself. To have failed and nearly lost my business, brings the bleakest of moments to face and look head on, but if we can rise up when we falter and look for a different way of doing things, has to be one of the biggest lessons anyone can learn. If the safety net is taken away and you’re left to fend for yourself, you begin to see the world from a different perspective. For instance, going back to the beginning of this article and to read the local business magazine with how well all companies featured are doing, is a vehicle to feed ego and self congratulation, rather than as a means to be entertaining, inspiring and informative.

I’m going to finish off with another quote from Mr. Emerson, who sums everything up perfectly with, “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

Be good to share how you have championed taking another path from one that has become well tread and the once lush green grass is now nothing more than a muddy pathway.

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Christmas Gifts For Customers. Content Marketing The ID Group

Yes…that question is just around the corner. Should you buy Christmas presents for customers?

Do your customers need to be loved at Christmas, or do they justify a ‘we are now closed for Christmas from Friday 23rd December‘ email.

A ‘thanks’ can go a long way and by that I don’t mean:

–       a Christmas card with ‘from all at ‘name of company’ in a Helvetica font

–       a blanket coverage webemail with an animation of a deer, Santa, snowman, reindeer and the company logo pops up through the snow with a ‘from all at ‘name of company and we are closed from 2pm on Friday 20th December’

–        a personalised email that says ‘see you in 2014, we are closed from 2pm on Friday 20th December’

Should We Give Before We Receive?

Another way of looking at it is that giving at Christmas is another way of investing in your company and that old adage of ‘you have to give before you receive.’

It isn’t under contract that a gift has to be given and that is the beauty in a little something that doesn’t have to be over the top and a huge business expense. A soulless Christmas card means that you purely blend in with other well-wishers and basically the same as everyone else. How will you stand out with that?

Alternatively if a customer you have a good rapport with receives a gift, then cements the notion that their business is valued and acknowledges the importance of business relationships and continued service into the coming year.

The great thing is that a present is always unexpected. We are here to cement relationships and if we stand true to believing that 80% of business is from 20% of our customers, then this becomes an ideal way to build alliances, rapport and even friendships.

If you deliver an all round experience that represents what you stand for, others will see a side to the business that is approachable, warm and above all else, better than anyone else.

An At A Glance List Of Things That Work

Here are seven gifts ideas, some that we have used (and no, not the obligatory bottle of Sauvignon Blanc or flowers) that fit the description of ‘cost effective, but so effective:’

–       Cinema tickets (a £20 voucher gives a night out for two)

–       At the business networking lunch, cover the cost by taking a few customers along

–       Create a bespoke gift basket, with some handpicked fillers.

–       A piece of work that went down really well, frame it!

–       A bit of home baking can add a more authentic feel

–       A personalised card with an added bonus of a scratch card in it

Find out what is going on in your customers lives (is it sport, is it personal development, is it travel, is it family). If you understand what motivates them, you get to strike the balance between understanding them professionally and personally.

Always remember that the reason that others work with you is that they know, trust and like you, sometimes it’s good to say’ cheers.’


If you are stuck for what to buy someone this Christmas then here is the ideal present.IMG_2532

The Content Revolution looks at the way that marketing has changed more in the past few years than any other. It is here as a guide and to consider a new way of thinking that is focused on controlling the media channels that are yours with a content approach.

To read more about the book and a free download for the opening section, click here. Or click the image to take you to Amazon.

 

At this time of year, should our best customers be loved a little bit more?

Whilst we don’t necessarily need to be lavish Christmas presents for customers, can be that little bit extra and a ‘thanks’ can go a long way and by that I don’t mean:

–       a Christmas card, similar to one I received last week, that didn’t even have a signature on it, just ‘from all at ‘name of company

–       a blanket coverage webmail with an animation of a deer, Santa, snowman and the company logo pops up through the snow with a ‘from all at ‘name of company

Another way of looking at it is that giving at Christmas is another way of investing in your company and that old adage of ‘you have to give before you receive.’

It isn’t a rule that a gift has to be given and that is the beauty in a little something that doesn’t have to be over the top and a huge business expense. A soulless Christmas card means that you purely blend in with other well-wishers. How can you stand out with that? Alternatively if a ‘respected’ customer receives a gift, then cements the notion that their business is valued and acknowledges the importance of business relationships and continued service into the coming year.

The great thing is that a present is always unexpected. We are here to cement relationships and if we stand true to believing that 80% of business is from 20% of our customers, then this becomes an ideal way to build alliances, rapport and even friendships.

If you deliver an all round experience that represents what you stand for, others will see a side to the business that is approachable, warm and above all else, better than anyone else.

Here are seven gifts ideas, some that we have used in 2012 (and no, not the obligatory bottle of Sauvignon Blanc) that fit the description of ‘cost effective, but so effective:’

–       Cinema tickets (a £20 voucher gives a night out for two)

–       At the business networking lunch, cover the cost by taking a few customers along

–       Create a bespoke gift basket, with some handpicked fillers.

–       A piece of work that went down really well, frame it!

–       A bit of home baking can add a more authentic feel

–       A personalised card with an added bonus of a scratch card in it

–       Find out what is going on in your customers lives (is it sport, is it personal development, is it travel). If you understand what motivates them, you get to strike the balance between understanding them professionally and personally

 

We’re told all the time about how to position ourselves and how we want others to see us (perception is key, don’t forget!). Analogies and a short description make it easier for others to understand our businesses and what we do.

What’s your core story?

A short description or a great analogy can become powerful, if it’s mundane it lacks power. As an example this is a lame description of The ID Group as a creative marketing company:

‘The ID Group provides marketing communication services aimed at building profile, recognition and credibility for it’s customers, using a variety of tools to deliver a key message.’

We could say this example is a bit boring, lacks simplicity and a bit too logical. It’s a bit like pitching a movie, the idea has to be good and for people to make a connection to it. If ‘The Avengers Assemble’, was pitched as ‘Iron Man and his super hero pals’ then the connection is made straight away in terms of style of the movie. If we go back a bit further we could say that Alien was ‘Jaws on a spaceship.’ Straight away we make our own interpretation.

With our businesses the aim is for others to interpret something easy to think about. A short compact phrase is so much more effective than grand superlatives, pitching our businesses. So, going back to a few paragraphs, describing The ID Group as:

‘Creative marketing where customers learn to deliver successful messages’

… sounds so much better in a few descriptive words. A short compact phrase to describe who you are and what you do. It can become such a powerful tool.

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The famous quote in the headline from Benjamin Franklin couldn’t be more true.

Statistics show that 25% of businesses fail in their first year with only 20% succeeding to their sixth birthday. According to the London Assembly, businesses in London are more likely to fail than anywhere else in England.

Here are six reasons that businesses tend to fail.

Fail to see bigger picture.

Those that run businesses should always remember to see the bigger picture. Once you forget the direction that you want your company to go in, you lose focus.

Poor sales.

Sales are important to a business because without them, there is no return on investment, thus cash flow management becomes unmanageable with more money going out than coming in.

Not taking risks.

If a company doesn’t take a few simple risks and stays still, it becomes lost amongst the competition. A business should always be above their competition with refreshing routes to market in order to stay at the forefront of customers’ minds.

Don’t listen.

To become a successful business, you have to be able to listen, especially to your customers because without them, the business has lost its purpose.

Growing too quickly.

Do not become lost in the whirlwind of competition and daily deadlines one has to meet. Companies can grow too quickly and not have the capacity to manage their day to day operations, therefore lose sales, investments and clients.

 

The common theme that can be carried across all points is not lack of funding, but lack of a genuine, quality idea and communicating the idea to customers and potential customers. We say, it is always the idea that matters, by creative thinking, belief and delivery to create a positive perception within the marketplace.