LinkedIn is B2B’s Gateway to Social Media

While many businesses hesitate to "adopt" social media, many business people are already heavy users of social media sites. Sometimes they don’t even notice it. The ubiquitous success of LinkedIn is proof that even the most reluctant technology user can be enticed into the Web 2.0 space. Clearly LinkedIn have a great value proposition:

  • Allows you to:
    • advertise/demonstrate your professional experience
    • manage your personal and professional network
    • expose this network (and activate its value)
    • identify and facilitate business opportunities in your wider network
  • Provides employers with:
    • easy access to categorised and location based professional profiles
    • ready source of verifiable and referenceable professional histories

And while there are many other reasons to use LinkedIn, the simple fact that many business PEOPLE use it is a great proof point for social media within a business. And for B2B, it just means that you need to clearly articulate the value proposition — how will it impact the business, which problem will it solve and what opportunities will it open up.

Take a look at this interview by Andy Sernovitz featuring David Armano and Matt Dickman — if you listen to your customers, partners and employees then you might be suprised at what you find. But then think about your own LinkedIn profile. Think of its value to you. Then think bigger. Apply that thinking to your business — and I will bet you see the opportunity that social media presents. It’s about the FUTURE of your brand. (I’ll have more on this topic really soon.)

Words and Prayers for Arun

Personal tragedy touches us all at some stage … but nothing ever prepares us for the devastating impact that comes with the loss of a loved one. And the effects of this ripple out beyond the immediate family — circles of friends, extended family members, work mates, colleagues and even casual acquaintances feel the sad touch of loss.

This week, Arun Rajagopal’s mother passed away. Through his energy, enthusiasm and good will, Arun has become a loved member of the marketing blogging community — and his loss reverberated around the world. Upon hearing, I paused. Drew a breath. After all, we all have hearts in common … and mine had skipped a beat on Arun’s behalf.

And while I can’t be with Arun, my thoughts are certainly with him and his family at this time. We have also setup a site where, should you wish to, you can leave a message for Arun. It can be found here.

Bank Turns Its Back on Lifetime Value? Which Bank?

Originally uploaded by freddoslife

It was exciting. Truly exciting. The tall man with short, dark hair leaned down over my desk and put something small and dark on my desk. I looked closely. It was a grey book with black writing on the front. The book itself, sat neatly in a plastic sleeve — clear on the front and a bright green on the back. A quick smile. A word of thanks. And he was off to the next child waiting expectantly.

Like all the other children, I eagerly picked up the package, slipped the book out and felt its surprising weight in my hot little hands. Inside the book it was a new world. There were no pictures. It was neat. Official. And there was my name, written in capitals in full. At the top of the page, a single number shone out. 4.00. It was a whole world in numbers. My life savings. Four dollars. And I was as proud as a button.

In my school, like in many others across the country, the Commonwealth Bank would sponsor children in primary school so that they could open a bank account. In many cases, this is the first "official" document in a child’s name, and for me, it was a vivid moment of self identification. This program helped to establish a pattern of savings, to introduce us to the concept of banks and "interest" — but it went further. It was part of our education … it included a visit to the bank — an excursion. There was an almost mystical induction into the world of finance and there was the weekly repetition of class deposits — each Wednesday we would bring our savings into class in small brown envelopes. Magically our passbooks would return at the end of the day with an updated total.

From a branding point of view it was an absolute coup — the bank through the "Dollarmites" program has early and sponsored access to a new generation of customers. The ritualistic induction created a memory and provided an experience unlike any other, and our behaviours were moulded and reinforced each week.

With such a powerful program in place, it confounds me that the Commonwealth Bank would do anything that would bring this program into disrepute. As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, a young girl had opened a school account and was waiting for the arrival of her passbook. But instead of a crisp new book, she received a curt, impersonal letter:

Dear XXX… We acknowledge receipt of Katelyn’s Youthsaver application dated 19 February 2008. The bank is not prepared to offer you this or any future banking facilities unless you receive written advice to the contrary.

Yours sincerely, John Steny.

This rejection was based on the child’s mother’s credit rating and previous dealings with the bank. And while the bank has since changed its mind and offered the girl an account, this impersonal action will have had a number of impacts on the girl, her family, her network of school friends and her local community. It is hard to believe that a bank would be willing to forego a potential lifetime relationship and to risk wider damage to its school program and brand — for the sake of $450.

The bank certainly seems to be living up to its motto of "determined to be different".

Are You a Talker or a Doer — Do Some Good Now

I have been watching the gang at Decisive Flow for almost as long as I have been writing this blog — which is now well over two years. In start up world, that is about 10 years. And when you consider that Nat and Tim and the gang are based in New Zealand, far away from the spotlight and funding of Silicon Valley, then their successes are magnified several times over.

Why have Decisive Flow succeeded in a world of cut throat agencies, design shops and digitial sweatshops? I would like to say because they are nice folks … because they are clever. Because they do good work. Well it is more than these things … sure good work is important. Sure you need smart folk, good talent and it helps to be pleasant. But clearly, Decisive Flow deliver results. They identify gaps in the market and then seek to fill them. They create value for themselves, their clients and the consumers that they serve. They go beyond the mere creation of websites and applications, tapping into a global movement that aligns personal conviction with global need. It is the difference between talking and doing.

This project is a great example of how content, need, strategy and action come together in a Web 2.0 world. For every 100,000 visitors to THIS site between now and July 1st, one mason will be trained by LJ Urban to build houses in the land locked country of Burkina Faso (in Africa). That’s right … all you need to do is VISIT the site and encourage others to do so. This will make a REAL difference to the lives of a family. Learn more in this video …

And while the first step is to visit, there are many more options for action:

  1. Blog about this site. Let your readers know what is going on. Encourage them to visit.
  2. Write emails to your friends. Bookmark the site. Create traffic.
  3. Visit the blog and comment.
  4. Go the whole hog — buy a house and train a mason

Oh, and obviously, if you have a digital project that you need to activate. Give Tim and Nat a call. I am sure their simple and loveable approach will ring true for your business and your customers.

How Fast Are Your Fingers?

I remember my first typewriter. It was a huge, chunky Olivetti desk typewriter and I thought it was fantastic. It came through a friend of the family — her office were replacing their typewriters with brand new, state of the art, electric typewriters. So this old beast was all mine.

I started typing my little hands off. I wrote out the words of songs that I liked. I wrote a few poems here and there, and stories … I loved to write stories — even then. I would sit down at the table with a thick felt mat shielding the table from the base of the typewriter, and I would begin to hammer our letters and words. First it was one finger at a time, but then, as I grew more practised, I began to type with two or even three fingers. My speed was increasing, but I would never get very fast. I needed to really pound the keys to make the letters appear nicely on the page, and the extra effort meant that speed was never to be easily attained.

When I started using computers, I found these typing skills were handy. I knew where the letters were and I could get up quite a bit of pace. I didn’t even need to look at my fingers too much. But I did need to break through the speed barrier — in teaching myself to type I had picked up plenty of bad habits (some of which I still have today) — so I started doing some computer based typing training. And it started to pay off.

Because I didn’t need to learn where all the letters were, I was able to pick up touch typing pretty quickly. Soon I didn’t need to look down at all. Soon I was able to stare at another piece of paper and transcribe it effortlessly. With pretty good accuracy.

Nowadays, I find typing to be the only way for me to take notes. I certainly can no longer write very neatly — and often find myself scouring my own notepads trying to make sense of the scrawl written there. But even with the fastest handwriting in the world, I could never write fast enough to keep up with my thoughts. This is where typing truly has been fanstastic. Now I can almost keep up with my ideas as they come streaming out of my mind. And while I get along at around 55 words per minute, I can push along a little faster when I am concentrating well.

But how fast are you? Is it important to be able to type quickly? I love it. Weirdly. (With thanks to Meg Tsiamis for pointing out the typing speed test.)

For Digital, Strategy is Where You Add Value

The last couple of years has seen a proliferation of agencies dedicated to creating "digital" work. But as you will know, not all agencies are created equal — "digital" to one agency may mean "banner ads" while to another it could mean "mobile" or "microsite" or "web application". The degree of complexity (and integration) associated with a digital solution can vary widely, but the gaps between agencies are beginning to narrow. After all, it is no longer about the technology or the programming — that is a commodity.

Increasingly agencies have to look to strategy to differentiate themselves and to deliver added value to their clients. And this field is scarcely populated. Or populated by strategists with only a few years’ experience — finding those with 5+ years working in digital is difficult. Those of us who have worked with digital strategy and planning for longer — that come with a depth of knowledge and experience and are able to bring a business focus to their work are as rare as hen’s teeth. But as agencies seek to build on their strategic role and move into a role of trusted business advisor, these folks will be indispensible.  As Wayne Arnold, CEO of full service agency Profero says in this great article:

We’re talking to global marketing directors who think about how to
sell more product, rather than how they tell people their chocolate bar
tastes good.

This means that our senior strategists need to be able to talk business. We need to be able to talk numbers, correlations and profit and loss. We need to demonstrate where and how our efforts will impact sales cycles and revenue projections. And we need to understand content. It needs to be all about numbers and stories. Digital strategy is no longer about campaigns, but about solving business problems. It is about adding value in a creative way.

Sometimes Advertising Does Good

Every medium has a frame. This can be physical like the hard edges of a TV screen or a computer monitor (or even the edges of a piece of paper), or it can be a "construct" — a series of written and unwritten rules which we all follow in order to create meaning. Sometimes playing with or adjusting this frame can create surprise — jolting us out of the passive stupor which surrounds our media consumption. I remember Moonlighting used direct to camera conversation as a way to "break the frame", but there are many other approaches and techniques that can be applied to film, video, TV, print, outdoor and even digital. Whichever media you are working in, there are rules to use and rules to abuse — and plenty of creative space in-between.

But for me, the best creative work reaches THROUGH the frame in which it is created and connects us with a story. A powerful narrative has a force and impact which cannot be easily ignored. For digital work, this often involves interaction or an immersive approach to storytelling, while TV needs to capture our fleeting attention (ie stop us from walking away) and draw us into a story that DEMANDS to be told.

This TVC for the Victorian Traffic Accidents Commission is a great example. There are not single stories here, but a quiet cacophany of stories.

The plain, everyday footage and locales, the emptiness of the scenes conveys the tragic absence of life. The still-grieving (ever grieving) parents with photos is reminiscent of Chile’s mothers of the disappeared, and the haunting music (Angie Hart’s cover of The Cure’s Pictures of You) all combine to remind us of the consequences of our actions as well as our need TO act.

Oh, and as Jayne points out, these people are not actors. They are the real people who have lost loved ones in accidents. Hope you have a box of tissues.

Understanding Australians

Crocodile Dundee
Originally uploaded by gordeans

If you ever have to do business with Australians it may take some time to understand their strange idiosyncrasies. Greg Davies is an Australian living deep in the heart of Oklahoma and has put together a great post that provides you with a cultural background on Australians and our ways of thinking.

It is a must read for anyone wanting to understand why we are the way we are. Especially check the section on beer and Fosters.

Thanks to Meg Tsiamis.