Looking Back in Time

Looking back in time 1
Originally uploaded by James Rye

I was doing a bit of digging around on social media and came across this post by Karl Long. It was from waaay back in July 2006.

One of the things that I love about blogging is that you once a post has been published, it is available as an archive of your thinking. While sometimes this can be embarrassing, it can also capture a moment in time that was a turning point in the way that you consider the world, your profession or even the way that you choose to interact.

This is particularly relevant given that my good friend, Drew McLellan is fast approaching his first blog birthday. If you look back through his archive of posts you will see, that just like Karl’s post, the content remains as fresh and as relevant now as it did some time ago. There is a lesson here …

Many bloggers write posts based on a current news story … but this can mean that you end up with a site that has no depth (perhaps a balance is in order?). Sites like Drew’s and Karl’s contain a wealth of information, analysis and practical tips that you can put into practice from a marketing, branding or even technical point of view.

When someone looks back in time at your site … what will they find?

BrandingWire: Helping IT Help

Call volume is way down!

This month’s BrandingWire challenge focuses on an IT company whose specialty is the small to medium business (review the full brief here). This is our first project that centres on a REAL company and their REAL challenges. However, the one thing I don’t have is a real name — so for ease of reference, I will call this company "Direct-IT".

Marketing professional services is a challenge, no matter which tier or segment of the market that you are addressing. But the small to medium business segment is particularly challenging … these companies are often in the process of maturing their systems, scaling the successes that helped them grow and finding ways to acquire new (and larger) clients while keeping existing clients more than satisfied. Moreover, these businesses pay very close to cashflow and scrutinise the likely returns before committing to any expense. One of the major challenges facing Direct-IT is finding a way to move from a supplier of IT services into a more strategic role which could be considered "trusted advisor".

To achieve this outcome, Direct-IT need to embark on two parallel initiatives:

  • Breakthrough measurement and reporting
  • Strategic re-positioning

I suggest a revision of performance reporting as the first priority as this can be commenced immediately and will provide a platform for the repositioning and branding efforts that may take some time to kick-in.

Breakthrough measurement and reporting

In order to move from the role of "provider" to the role of "partner", Direct-IT need to provide ALL clients with a new level of measurement and reporting. Rather than focusing on the tactical achievements of the responsiveness of the Direct-IT teams, the measurement should extrapolate the impact of these interventions in terms that address the client’s business challenges. In particular, these metrics should focus on the strategic imperatives of any business:

  • Top line revenue growth
  • Reduction in costs
  • Improvements in productivity

The focus of the measurement has to be on the VALUE delivered to the client (not just the tactical tick-in-the-box SLAs). Unfortunately, this is hard to quantify, but Direct-IT have no choice other than to invest in developing some form of metric that rings true with their client base. As a first step, this metric should be run against past performance information to provide the sales executives with a ready source of information that can be used as "proof points" in their discussions with current clients. These reports should be presented as value added services — and be provided in a format that allows their sponsors to easily push "up the chain".

In addition, and indicative of the wider shifts in work and productivity, Direct-IT need to demonstrate how the innovation and changes that they bring to their clients has a positive impact on the production of knowledge, reduction in the time and process required to make decisions and to reduce risk around the decisions that are made within the business.

With all this actionable business knowledge available, Direct-IT should use their IT know-how to create a reporting widget. This widget would provide a dashboard of the realtime impact that their work is having on their client’s business (taking helpdesk RSS feeds etc and summarising it). The widget would be available to each of the clients and would track all the tactical work that Direct-IT is known for, but also have an Executive view which translates these savings into actual dollar amounts and improvements to the client’s bottom line.

Strategic re-positioning

Direct-IT need to embark on a thorough revision of their brand and organisational positioning. This should include a deep focus on what has been successful … after all, there is a successful business already in operation — and it is essential that this success continues. Part of this revision should address what the company considers its "core competence". From this core competence, Direct-IT should build a communications architecture complete with key themes and messages. Particular attention should be paid to profiling client acquisition targets and the key decision makers and stakeholders within these organisations.

IF the core competence and series of messages that are developed don’t correspond to a unique market offering, then Direct-IT would do better to build market share rather than attempt to enter a new market. Rather than go head-to-head with existing mid-tier service providers, Direct-IT need to determine an alternative route-to-market with solutions/services that correspond to the strategic pain points of the potential clients in that market. While this sounds like common sense, failure to make such a decision can prove fatal.

A thorough communications/marketing plan should then be developed with a focus on one-to-one messaging — directly targeting the most influential segments. A blog, for example, is a great way of demonstrating both mastery of technology as well as communicating and delivering thought leadership pieces. Remember with all communications — all business owners are busy. Concise messaging and high value content is essential.

While all this may not make IT "sexy", it will certainly make it more attractive to those business decision makers who know that every dollar of expense comes out of their own pockets. It may even open the door to the much desired "partner" status.


This month the BrandingWire posse is joined by some special guests. Check out all the other responses to this brief at the following sites:

Olivier Blanchard
Becky Carroll
Derrick Daye
Kevin Dugan
Lewis Green
Drew McLellan
Martin Jelsema
Valeria Maltoni
Drew McLellan
Patrick Schaber
Steve Woodruff


Matt Dickman
Chris Brown
Cam Beck

The REAL Five Steps to Understanding Social Media

The other day, when I wrote five steps to understanding social media, I was joking. Well, almost. There really is much to be learned from the Age of Conversation authors.
HOWEVER, for those looking to engage with and understand social media, a great way to get started is to follow these five steps:

  1. Learn to love the hypertext. To engage in a conversation you first need to listen. In the blogosphere, the equivalent is reading. To find out where and what you should be reading (ie to locate the subject that stirs you to write, shout or rant about), you need to follow links. You can start with an aggregator/search engine like Technorati or Digg. Then, once you find a subject that picques your interest, follow it through … surf the links in the posts, visit the other blogs listed in the writer’s blogroll and click through to the sites of commentors. By doing this you will begin to make one sided connections between you and the bloggers that you are interested in.
  2. Become a card carrying member. Many of the social media tools, from Facebook to blogs, have their own terminologies and techniques. Unfortunately, the only way to understand them is to play with them. This means, starting your own blog, joining Facebook, Flickr, MySpace, Pownce, Twitter and so on. As you begin to experience the way that these sites work and as you start to become more interested in the topics and conversations going on in your newly forming community, you will soon begin to rationalise the number and type of sites that you use … and, of course, you will start to go where your friends go.
  3. Write, write, write. Setting up a blog is easy. You can do it for free with sites like Blogger or WordPress, or you can subscribe to a paid service like I do. All these options allow you to publish a blog privately — that means that you can write but do so only for yourself … that way, if "primetime" scares you, you can hone your skills on the QT. The most important thing is to just START … even if your first few posts are about starting out — remember in six months you will be a pro and in a year you will be a veteran … so the posts you write early on will become invaluable aids for other new bloggers trying to find their feet.
  4. Go public. When you feel comfortable, start commenting on other blogs. Make sure that your comments add value to the conversation that has been started (ie there is no point just writing "great post … check out my blog"). The best way to build a readership is to engage in debate. Put forward your views, write responses and link back to the posts that get your mind racing. Remember, social media is … well, social.
  5. Meetup. After you have gone public, you need to reach out and actually MEET some of the people who you read and who read you. This means stepping out from behind the computer screen and attending a meetup, a coffee morning — or organising one for yourself. If you are like my friend David Brazeal who lives far from everyone, then use the technology to bridge the distance — Skype is free and works even with dial-up.
  6. Surprise us all. Yes, that’s right. It doesn’t have to be a BIG surprise … but remember to keep your posts interesting. This means re-training your eyes and ears to pick out the gold from the events of your daily and professional lives. Provide your readers with a point of view, a service … something they can’t get somewhere else — your point of view.

I am sure you can find plenty of other advice out there … but for now, STOP reading. It’s time to get your blog on! Go write.

Not Spam … I won a Prius!

Yeah right!

This is probably the most imaginative piece of spam that I have received. Not only does it tell a good story, it starts with an excellent distraction, then hits you with the deal. Man … that $600k could have come in handy.

Toyota Car Promotions Department
Asia & Pacific Office
Fax- 66-876-987-977

This is to inform you that have been selected for a Cash prize of ?600,000.00.(Six Hundred Thousand Dollars)and a brand new Toyota Prius car programs held 2007 in Asia.

You can view our website to view your car

Description Of New Toyota Car to be Shipped to you.
Miles:New…………………..Doors:4 doors or more
Engine:4 – Cyl………………..Year:2005
Warranty:Existing……………..Cruise Control
Condition:New…………………Engine: 1.9L DOHC MPFI VVT-i
16-valve 4-cyl engine w/integ
CD Player…………………….Side Airbags
Passenger Airbag………………Driver Airbag
Anti-Lock Brakes………………Air Conditioning
Power Windows…………………Power Locks

The selection process was carried out through random selection in our email selection system(ess) from a database of over 250,000 email addresses drawn from all the continents of the world.
This Toyota car Lottery is approved by the British Gaming Board and also Licensed by the International Association of Gaming Regulators (IAGR).
This promotional car lottery is the tenth of its kind and we intend to sensitize the public.

To begin the processing of your prize you are to contact your claims officer through our accredited Prize Transfer agents as stated below:

Sir Lord Gordon Lee
Foreign Payment Dept.
Asia & Pacific regional office,
Tel – 66-879-328-005

When contacting him, please provide him with your secret pin code TY7448500 and your reference number 799BV90.You are also advised to provide him with the under listed information as soon as possible:


1.Name in full :
2.Address :
3.Nationality :
4.Age :
5.Sex :
8.Present Country:

If you do not contact your claims agent within 7 working days of this notification,your winnings would be revoked. Winners are advised to keep their winning details/information from the public to avoid fraudulent claim (IMPORTANT) pending the transfer/claim by Winner.

Accept my hearty congratulations once again!


Mrs. Kimberly Mitchel .
Lottery Manager.

Google Moon is Made of Cheese

GooglemoonThose cartoons that I loved as a child were right … the moon is made of cheese.

I had not seen Google Moon, but was interested to go closer and closer to the surface. I was hoping to see a flag or a moon lander … alas, when I got close, all I saw was this picture. Looks like Jarlsburg.

Now I wonder how soon it will be before the Google Moon is "monetised" … and who will be the first advertiser? Moon banner anyone?

For the Social Media Newbie

Originally uploaded by davemelbourne

Are you new to social media? No idea what a blog is? Want to find out a bit more?

When most of us start out blogging we have to spend some time orienting ourselves … getting used to the terminology, the technology and the unspoken etiquette.

But Arun Rajagopal has saved all new comers a lot of hard work! Now, you can simply follow-on and click through Arun’s post that was compiled over a 10 hour social media investigation. Check it out here.

Self Starting

Today at lunchtime I went to the local shopping centre. Emerging from the mall out into the daylight I could smell the freshness of the air (yes it has turned cold again) and feel the moisture in the air from the morning’s rain. As I approached the traffic lights I noticed a man handing out CDs. At first I thought he was selling The Big Issue … he was certainly having a hard time convincing the passersby.

When I stopped he explained that the CD was a recorded story. A collaboration. I could have a copy for the exchange of a coin. I reached into my pocket but found nothing. Empty. But I would be back … in just a few moments.

After attending to a couple of errands I headed back. I wanted to find out more. What was the idea, the story behind the CD …
The project, as it turns out, has been put together by a small group of friends. Rather than go to the expense of publishing a book, this science fiction novel was recorded as an audio book/MP3 and comes bundled with original music. I bought four copies.

If you are interested in one, leave your name in the comments or email me your address and I will send you one.

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Does Inter-Agency Collaboration Work

CoffeeconeIt is a great idea … in theory. Come up with the BIG idea, bring all your agency "partners" together and execute a brilliant, integrated campaign. But does it work? Does it achieve your short term objectives? And perhaps, more importantly, does it achieve the long term strategic objectives that should be driving your brand?

All this and more, I ponder in this post over at MarketingProfs.


A Blog of a Job

Despite the ongoing adoption of social media by the general public, many companies have yet to cotton on to the idea of blogging as a role within their organisations. There are many (and good) reasons for this, but there are also many reasons to push to overcome them. I am sure you have heard the excuses … but there ARE opportunities for smart, corporate social media plays — especially for those organisations that have active consumer exposure.
One of the companies who are interesting here is Nokia. Not only have they hired the insightful and prolific Karl Long as Web/Social Media Integration Manager, they continue to seek out talent and create new roles for yet to be created markets. A good example is this role that has just been advertised (partly through Karl’s blog).

For this position, Nokia are looking for “a Russell” — someone who is ALREADY active in the social media space, has a good and practical understanding of the technologies used in social media/community building … and is willing to fail in full public view (sounds like almost every blogger that I know and respect).

So, if your secret plan is to become an employed blogger/evangelist — this could be the opportunity you have been waiting for.

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