I’m pleased to confirm that from 1st February I am available for more freelance and short contract work.
My current full time agreement is up on 31st Jan and, while I’ve enjoyed the relative stability of what my Mum might call a ‘proper job’ – regular hours, a desk that’s ‘mine’ and sausage toasties for breakfast from the canteen – I’m excited to be able to offer my other clients more flexibility again, as well as take on more work now I’m not travelling for 3 hours each day.
I’m also looking forward to being able to jump on all those opportunities to help businesses of any size or type communicate better – essential in this more open era.
With that in mind, I’m continuing to focus on the communication side of marketing and business development in 2011.
There’ll be lots and lots of writing (yay!) and, I hope, more opportunities to teach others how to write for their chosen medium and which tools to use to best get their messages out to their target markets.
Helping We Share Stuff with their social media workshops early last year was a joy – I learned a lot and got real satisfaction from helping people see just how effective social media tools can be, used in the right way for their needs.
Two key lessons I learned in 2010:
Email marketing is getting harder for marketers:
Quality data in volume is expensive. Low quality data is still cheap as chips. However, with harsher global spam regulations and data protection laws, most of the better Email Service Providers are no longer allowing their customers to use unqualified bought-in lists through their systems.
But I’m not complaining. The shift to more personalised marketing can only be good for all of us. If we can only target those who are at least vaguely interested in our products and services, we waste less time and money chasing dead-end leads and our stats for likely conversion start to look more rosy.
Yes, it involves more effort initially but that pays off in the long run. The better you know your customer base, the easier it is to produce more persuasive messages that really resonate with their actual needs.
You’ll also find out what they expect you and your competitors to produce or offer next, giving you a great insight into how your market’s developing and what you need to do, to keep up or – better still – lead your industry.
And as a consumer, I’m also in favour of better targeting and a less crammed inbox.
There’s also potential legislation currently under discussion about online tracking and marketing, where cookies from sites you’ve visited enable companies to direct specific advertising of similar products at you when you go on to visit other sites.
Ostensibly for child protection reasons, no doubt user-managed options to restrict targeted advertising will be of interest to just about every consumer.
I’d also envisage these proactive options being rolled out across email, as current filtering for unwanted email is clumsy when done via 3rd party filtering software and reactive when done via your own inbox.
Not every business is ready for social media:
Actually, I did already know this. But many businesses don’t, believing instead that because ‘everyone else is doing it’ they should too. It can look like a ‘quick win’ when marketing budgets are under scrutiny but, in practice, there’s more to consider than cost.
One of the main issues is take-up. Setting up a good presence on any social media site takes time and regular commitment. If your target market isn’t already using social media themselves – and lots of sectors, particularly B2B, simply aren’t, yet – then putting all your eggs into an invisible basket won’t help.
Another issue is platform. While the ‘natural choice’ for your company may be, say, LinkedIn – it’s a professional network after all – if your target market is using some other platform for the majority of their networking, all your hard work may never be seen.
Pulling folk through from the platforms they are using to the ones you are using involves creating quality, shareable content on a regular basis. If your company isn’t, for whatever reason, able to commit to producing a pretty seamless flow of ongoing content – as well as regularly taking part in other existing discussions and forums – then your as-and-when updates may be easily missed.
And if you’re no longer reminding potential customers of your existence through other channels, how will they know who you are?
Find your voice in 2011
It’s becoming more and more important to make sure there’s regular, shareable, relevant and up to date content that fully reflects your businesses corporate style, values and customer base.
Customers now get a feel for your business from a number of angles, rather than just one, and the old standard ‘company line’ needs to be a lot more flexible and relevant to the medium it’s promoted with.
Blog posts and brochures couldn’t be more different, and that’s as it should be: they are both useful for different purposes. Nevertheless, what you write on your company blog and what you put in your brochure should develop in their different ways from one starting point – the fundamental essence of your business – and match or complement each other and everything else.
This will give your company its ‘unique voice’ and strengthen your brand immensely.
For more information about hiring me to write for your company or help you and your staff develop a fitting house style for your ongoing communications, contact me today.