Archive for January, 2011

Good marketing + great content = success

January 25, 2011

I recently watched ‘The King’s Speech’ at my local independent cinema and walked away feeling very happy. The film was wonderful! It was brilliantly performed, very well directed and beautifully shot, capturing the atmosphere and the feel of England in the 1920’s & 30’s perfectly.

But I can’t help but feel that without the promotional backing from its makers the film might not have gained the same success it is currently finding during the early part of the awards season. ‘The King’s Speech’ is an exceptionally accomplished film, and yet it is not your conventional ‘Hollywood blockbuster’. I’ve seen many other British, indie-inspired films struggle – particularly in the multiplexes – when they’ve gone head-to-head with big name, star-driven US movies. But ‘The Kings Speech’ has proved to be a big hit – both in Britain and abroad.

First of all, it’s worth briefly looking at some of the tactics the studios used to promote ‘The King’s Speech’:


I first heard positive murmurings about ‘The King’s Speech’ back in the autumn as the film was gaining plaudits at film festivals both in the UK and overseas. The film continued to gain a lot of exposure on movie podcasts, television and in the press over the last few months with positive word-of-mouth being fully exploited. A lot of buzz was generated as a result of Colin Firth’s excellent performance as well as the story behind the film itself (the writer of the original stage play suffered a stammer).


As with all modern movie posters nowadays,  the poster wasn’t particularly imaginative but got the main points across – clear photos of the lead actors, strapline and clear typography. The absence of critical endorsements was slightly puzzling as a British historical drama isn’t a money-making guarantee (in comparison to aliens or slap-stick comedy, for example).


There wasn’t a great deal of online promotion. The film’s official website is pretty basic and there wasn’t an official Facebook or Twitter presence to promote the movie. Instead, ‘The King’s Speech’ was promoted through the studio’s page and feeds.


Although not particularly inventive, the film’s trailers demonstrated both the funny and serious aspects of the film and clearly showcases the wonderful performances from all the lead actors. The trailer does its job – sums up the best parts of the movie and builds anticipation on the back of the positive word-of-mouth that has already been generated.

Overall, the marketing campaign for ‘The King’s Speech’ was solid, if unremarkable. However, the campaign successfully raised awareness and made great use of the positive word-of-mouth that followed the film’s earlier showings at film festivals.  Even so, the marketers job was made a lot easier because the product was so good. Marketing is key, and without it the film would have surely floundered. But ‘The King’s Speech’ would not have been the success story it currently is without being a truly great film. Regardless of the promotion and the amount of ‘noise’ created, without great content the attention will only last so long. Good marketing builds interest – but you need a great product to really make it count in the long-term.

This can be applied to anything – blog posts, magazines, theatre or sport. If the content isn’t up to scratch, you’ll be found wanting. You can only blag it for so long!

I would like to say ‘thank you’ to Chris Thilk, who’s blog post on ‘The King’s Speech’ provided inspiration and information for my blog post.


Planning is everything

January 12, 2011

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” – Benjamin Franklin

I’m a big Test cricket fan and last week I had the pleasure of watching the England cricket team win the Ashes in Australia for the fist time in 24 years. The England team played really well. They were supremely fit, bowled to perfection, batted as though their lives depended on it and showed absolute precision in the field.

But as skilful and precise as they were, it was the meticulous planning and preparation on of the team and the backroom staff that allowed them to go into the Test series with every chance of retaining – and winning – the Ashes.

Regardless of what sport, industry or area of business you’re in, effective planning is essential.

Preparation allows you to:

  • Provide direction – to have a goal, a set of objectives and a strategy to reach them
  • Reduce uncertainties – effective planning allows you to assess what problems  may or may not be around the corner and put strategies together in order to tackle them
  • Allocate resources – what will you need to meet your objectives? How many people do you need? What type of people? What kind of equipment will you require?
  • Efficiently use those resources – resources are finite and proper preparation allows you to work out the most efficient way in which to use the resources at your disposal
  • Anticipate action – what is the competition doing? What plans might they have? Don’t blindly assume, but make an educated assessment of what actions you might have to take based on a set of different scenarios
  • Reduce risks and loss – by being prepared, you’re giving yourself the best chance possible to minimise the potential risks that may lie ahead
  • Facilitate assessment – whatever happens, you will need to assess how you’ve performed. By planning ahead you can work out how, what and when to make those assessments
  • Make good decisions – more than anything, good preparation allows you to make better decisions. The more information you have to hand, the better prepared you are to use that knowledge to make the right decisions

“The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining” – JFK

Following their historic Ashes win, the England cricket team are now ranked third (as of January 2011)  in the world. And this is something that should inspire them to train even harder, prepare even more effectively and set their goals even higher. Most people tend to celebrate when they win and analyse things when they lose. But surely it’s just as right to analyse things when you win – what went right; how could things have been improved – and perhaps have a drink or two when you lose!

It’s clear that the best companies, the best sporting teams and individuals, the best writers are often the ones who prepare and plan well. Preparing effectively is not a guarantee for success- but it will give you every opportunity to succeed.

What are your views and opinions on preparation? How does planning work for you? Why is it important?

My 3 words for 2011

January 1, 2011

The formidably impressive Chris Brogan published a blog post today entitled My 3 words for 2011. In the post, Chris outlines the three words that will be the guiding pillars for what he will focus on for the year ahead. As I mentioned in my post from yesterday, I don’t believe New Year resolutions are always the best idea and it seems Chris Brogan and I have something in common! The 3 words concept is perfect for distilling everything down into three simple words and focusing your mind on what matters most. The 3 words allows you to reflect upon them so that you can then think up goals (which are SMART) that link to each of the words.

There are so many words I could have chosen for my three, however these are the ones I’ve gone with:


This isn’t the the most original choice of word, but this exercise isn’t about originality (that could have been another of my words!) but about choosing what works best for you. And I love to create and it’s something I want to do more of over the next year. As a marketer, I like to think that the work I do is artistic and can make a difference to other people. I want to create a lot more in 2011 – and then ship!


I’m a big fan of Seth Godin, and one of his mantras is that you should always ship. Shipping is all about getting things done. It might be pressing the ‘submit’ button on your blog, handing an assignment in on deadline or putting together a new design on time for a client pitch. All too often I’ve found myself procrastinating over a report I’m writing or a blog post I’m putting together because I want it to be just right. But continually working on something (Seth Godin refers to this as ‘thrashing’) won’t get anything done. I therefore need to plan better, work harder and submit stuff to a set deadline. That way I’ll have achieved more.


Unfortunately, time isn’t slowing down and it seems that the older I get the quicker it flies by. Every day, I’m reminded of how far behind I am compared with those I aspire to be like. I therefore want to constantly improve as much as possible over the next 12 months. This might involve attending formal training seminars and workshops, reading more magazines and books or even non work-related self improvement such as improving my fitness. I want 2011 to be the year where I look back on the past 56 weeks on December 31st and think ‘I have noticeably improved and made a real, tangible difference’.

So those are my 3 words for 2011. What are your 3 words? What do they mean to you?