Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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:

Create

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!

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.

Improve

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?

The art of marketing

October 26, 2010


When you work in marketing, it should never be seen as ‘just a job’. It may seem easier sometimes to follow the status quo, use what others have done as a template and copy your competitors, but marketing should always be creative, innovative, artistic – and above all, fun! Just turning up as another cog in the wheel just won’t cut it.

As a marketer, everyday is an opportunity to make a real, tangible difference to the way your company presents itself to its customers, stakeholders and the rest of the outside world. Even as a graduate level marketing assistant, there’s always a chance to present your ideas on what you think works well and how it could benefit the company.

As marketers, we have the opportunity to take seemingly non-descript materials (such as an annual report or a simple sales brochure) and turn them into something imaginative. Sure, it might be easier to simply produce the same as what went before, but as a marketer you can do something different, and add a touch of character to what you’re producing. It’s important to be remarkable, and in order to do this effectively you have to stand out and be counted in today’s increasingly crowded media-scape. You need to earn the right to be heard and one way of doing this is by being different. Not just for the sake of being different, but in a way that will appeal to your audience as well as fitting with your brand.

Be enthusiastic, be unique and be remarkable. What’s stopping you?

The importance of packaging

September 20, 2010


Whether it’s your company, your brand, a product or even yourself, packaging can often make or break a person’s first impression.

Earlier this month, Chris Brogan wrote a blog post entitled ‘Package your business where he discusses the many elements of packaging and its various effects on businesses. Chris looks at how packaging affects the limitations of design and how it affects how you define your product or brand. He also looks at how in some circumstances packaging can work against you.

Although packaging extends to many different aspects in business, it is the role packaging plays in presentation that interests me. Image is such an important component of branding, particularly in today’s multi-media world, and a well thought-out and considered image can help a business to stand out from the crowd. Substance should never be over-looked in favour of style, but as long as the essence of something with real value is there, image, in the form of physical evidence, great presentation and a compelling concept, can propel a business or idea into the consciousness of the target market.

Packaging is an integral part of the customer experience. Think about the first impressions you form when you walk into the reception area of a hotel, a car showroom or a restaurant. The interior design, the smell in the air, the way the staff are dressed and the greeting you receive from them are all part of the package the business is presenting to you. If the presentation is wrong or if the image doesn’t fit with your values, then you immediately feel that something isn’t quite right and this can affect your purchase decisions.

Packaging is also something that individuals must think about. The fashion designer and film director Tom Ford once talked about how he spends a great deal of time every morning preparing himself for the day ahead. Part of the Tom Ford brand is Tom Ford himself, and the way he presents himself to the outside world is all part of the package. This is something that everyone should consider, especially so if you’re in a client-facing role. The way you appear to your customers will echo the ethos of the brand and company you represent and will immediately affect the first impressions of those you’re meeting and set the tone for the rest of the interview/pitch.

So how do you package yourself? Is it something you consider to be important? Or do you think physical appearances are over-rated?

Dilbert on social media

September 15, 2010

Dilbert.com

It’s funny, but it’s also very true!

To blag or not to blag?

September 9, 2010

For some, blagging comes naturally to people in their day-to-day lives. It might be ad-libbing a presentation at work or fixing the TV aerial at home. For others, blagging is something exciting, a form of risk-taking – getting into an exclusive nightclub on a night out or sneaking back stage at a concert.

But it’s not the everyday, one-off blagging I’m talking about on this occasion. This post is more to do with those who try to blag their way through life – and work – all the time.

There are a number of ways to define ‘blag’, although one of the best definitions for me is:

“To convince by rhetoric; to gain acceptance or approval through persuasive banter or conversation; trickery; keenly persuasive; to scrounge by means of conversation”

Those that blag regularly are clever and practice the ‘art’ by continually trying their luck. They develop a self-assurance and  belief in what they say and do – whether they really know what they’re saying or doing at all!

But does blagging work? And is it something that can be sustained over a period of time?

I don’t believe blagging is wrong or morally unjust. Blagging is something we all do at various points in our lives. In a job interview, for example, we may not have a confident answer to every question, and so we blag it a little and get by. Or when the boss asks how the phone call you were supposed to make to a disgruntled customer went. You forgot, so you blag your way out of it, say they weren’t available and then make the call. A little white lie here and there never hurt anyone!

But blagging won’t work for you all the time. At some point, someone will inevitably call your bluff, and unless you truly know your stuff then there’s always a chance you might get caught out. And if you do get caught out, then any credibility you might of built up will more than likely go up in smoke.

Whatever type of work you do, whether it’s as a sales exec or as a bank clerk, you need to know what you’re talking about. There needs to be substance behind the confidence so that you’ve always got something to fall back on, even if you’re challenged.

The people I admire most are those that practice their craft, do the work and demonstrate their skill through the knowledge they have developed over time. Blagging can be a part of that , but not the main part.

Walkers hit the right note and go viral

August 31, 2010

Although I’ve been working in marketing for the past 4 -5 years, I’ve unfortunately never had the opportunity to experience television advertising first-hand. Nevertheless, I can still appreciate good TV advertising with my marketing hat on, and the new Walkers Crisps TV commercial starring Lionel Richie (and of course the ever-present Gary Lineker), is a touch of genius (below).

The ad is great because:

  • It’s funny, and uses a neat parody of a classic Richie song (‘Say You, Say Me’) , meaning the ad makes an immediate connection with viewer
  • The ad is structured nicely so that it flows well throughout its 41 second running time. It starts off in typical cheesy music video style but the twist at the end ensures it packs a punch!
  • The celebrities (including Lineker!) aren’t just there to get attention for attention’s sake, they’re used in a way that adds real value to the ad
  • The combination of a funny, catchy and memorable commercial means that the ad has viral potential and has already clocked up over 16,000 views with the potential for more

Blogging & the virtue of perseverance

August 27, 2010

Blogging is becoming increasingly easy to do, what with free services such as WordPress and Blogspot to choose from, and more than 133 million blogs worlwide in the blogosphere to take inspiration from.

But setting up a blog is only the beginning, and it means nothing unless you regularly return to the blog and publish posts. In my opinion, there’s nothing worse than a blog that has three or four enthusiastic posts in a row followed by nothing for months on end (I’m a culprit of this so I’m looking myself squarely in the eye as I write this!). A blog should be interesting or funny or thrilling, but also original and genuine at the same time. But a blog should also be updated regularly with consistent and engaging content, maintaining the same emphasis and endeavour that you started out with in the first place. In my view, perseverance is a key virtue of great blogging, especially if you’ve got something you want to say.

So don’t give up, keep on going and let the world know what you have to say!

A ray of light amongst the gloom

June 25, 2010

England played out a dire and utterly boring 0-0 draw last Friday night with Algeria in their second group game in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. As an England fan, the most disappointing aspect of the game was the lack of spirit and passion that the players seemed devoid of during the entire ninety or so minutes. Although I had issues with the formation (4-4-2) and the style of play (long balls thrust forward to Emile Heskey), it was the lack of ‘oomph’ from the players which vexed me (and many other England fans judging from the boos at the end of the match) most. It was something that worried me, too, as form can often be regained whereas a lack of passion maybe much harder to find once it is seemingly lost.

However, as much as I love football, I also like to follow many other sports and so on Saturday morning I watched the England rugby union team play Australia in the second match of their two game series in Sydney. Now, as frustrating as the England team may be to watch sometimes, the England rugby union team have been an even more frustrating prospect to endure since they won the World Cup in 2003.  The team have rarely won, and even when they have they have played in such a muddled way as to leave you tearing your hair out by the end of the the game!

But, despite another disappointing performance last week, last Saturday the England rugby team suddenly, finally, fired into life and what I witnessed was not just a much improved performance but a great result, too! In comparison to their footballing counterparts last Friday, the rugby team played with skill, guile and intelligence, as well as passion and spirit.

So perhaps this rubbed off on the football team because on Wednesday England played with much, MUCH more spirit and passion, and although it was only Slovenia, they dominated the match and went on to win the match 1-0 and through to the round of 16. But it seems as though England’s poor play in the run up to Wednesday’s game has cost them as they finished second in the group and will play one of their nemeses, Germany, on Sunday afternoon.

It will be a nervy, tense, yet strangely exciting encounter when England play Germany. After such a slow start to the tournament, there is a glimmer of hope for England if they can recapture the spirit and passion they showed on Wednesday. With such an experienced and talented side, England have a chance to go on and reach the quarter finals by fulfilling the potential we all know is there- and showing us the spirit and passion that should have been there from the start.

Blood, sweat & tears- but not much inspiration!

June 18, 2010

It’s great to know that someone is putting in lots of effort. As a football fan, it’s great to see players, regardless of their position, running around like mad men, getting back and tackling, or bombing forward to create opportunities to score. However, unless a player is doing what he should do, whether it’s defending, making space in midfield, or up front scoring goals, then what’s the point point in putting in all that effort? Results matter, and effort alone won’t always get results.

The same is true for everybody else in the working world. It’s all very well putting in 15 hour days and being the first to arrive and last to leave the office every day, but there’s not much point unless you have something to show for it- whether it be closing a sale or executing a great marketing campaign. You could work for days on end, but unless you work smart, then it may all come to nothing.

Last week, Seth Godin talked about using your time effectively in a blog post entitled ‘Cheating the clock’. He asked whether we would alter our working behaviour with only a fraction of the time we usually have in a day. In other words, you need to be indispensable, regardless of the amount of time you have- working lots of hours (e.g. ‘hard work’) won’t necessarily make you effective.

But nevertheless, I’m a believer in Thomas Edison‘s quote that ‘genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration’. However this was meant, I like to believe anyone has a chance to become a genius as long as they work hard. You need to put in the practice, the preparation and the time so that you can realise the inspiration you have inside, because without the inspiration the genius can’t exist!

Dealing with dissapointment

June 11, 2010

Disappointment is something that everyone handles in very different ways. Some people become angry and begin to apportion blame, whereas others may become introverted or even depressed, depending on the level of disappointment they feel.

When I’ve been disappointed in the past I’ve often felt like either shouting and punching things or just shuffling away to sulk in a corner somewhere. But as I’ve grown older, I’ve begun to realise that there’s never much point in doing either of the two things I’ve just mentioned as they’re never particularly productive! I now firmly believe that the best way of dealing with disappointment, wherever possible, is to begin looking at how any negative aspects can be turned into positives. I know this sounds clichéd, but I really do believe that the best way of overcoming the horrible feeling of dissatisfaction that disappointment brings is to immediately begin planning on how to get yourself back up and turn things around.

It’s important to have a time of reflection and to think about what went wrong. During this phase of analysis, you can begin assessing what you need to do to make things right but also what went right in the first place. It’s never a good idea to throw the baby out with the bathwater- just because something didn’t go to plan doesn’t mean everything you did was wrong. Focus on the good points, look at how the bad points can be improved and move on. Shouting and sulking won’t get you anywhere- and you probably won’t get any sympathy from anyone else, either! You’re the one in control, so you’re the one to make things right again.

As Martin Luther King Jr said, ‘We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope’. Although things may seem tremendously bad at the moment of disappointment, there is always time and a thousand ways to overcome the pain. It’s just a case of making sure you’re as focused as possible to hit the target next time and do whatever you can to avoid disappointment again.