New business development will make or break your business. And agency owners often find themselves suffering a famine or a feast of new business. But there are some common mistakes that can be relatively easily overcome. The Agency Management Institute has a great presentation on this topic, with FIVE clear tips that will help you avoid new business mistakes. And if you want to go into more detail, listen in to their fantastic podcast with Lee McKnight on the subject of new business development.
I recently met with an old colleague to catch up after many years apart. While we settled very quickly into an easy conversation – almost like the time had never passed – it also gave me cause to reflect. It made me think about my business behaviour and some of the decisions I made on the way to achieving various things. It made me think about my own expectations and approaches – the things I wanted and how I thought my future might play out.
For example, I thought that at some point that I would:
- “Receive the knowledge” – that sense of understanding of how the world works and why
- Work less and earn more – I know. I can hear you laughing from here
- Work on more meaningful projects – sometimes you strike it lucky, but I look to my work with Vibewire for this
- Know what I’m doing – the truth is, I’m constantly creating new knowledge and new ways of working. And I think you should too.
The interesting thing, is that I am not alone in these youthful delusions. It seems that the much more self-aware Ann Handley rowed that same boat. Here are five things that she thought she knew at 22 that turned out to be totally wrong. Of course, it doesn’t make her any less awesome.
The Economist Intelligence Unit has interviewed six marketing visionaries who are sharing their insights of what the future of marketing looks like. The “Future of Marketing” initiative is sponsored by Marketo, and publishes conversations with Seth Godin, John Hagel, Aditya Joshi, Marc Mathieu, Jim Stengel and myself. It makes for great, and varied reading, with each person taking a particular path to the future:
- Seth Godin encourages us to make stories worth telling. He argues that marketing is about everything and that today’s marketer must be embedded within what the company makes, working and pushing towards what the customer wants.
- John Hagel says that marketing is just experiencing the tip of the iceberg in terms of transformative change. We are going to see more marketers having to work with what he calls the “three As” – attract, assist, affiliate. The “power of pull” means we need to work to attract customers, help pre and post purchase, and find new models to help customers help each other.
- Gavin Heaton discusses PANDA – a framework for the future of marketing. Tapping into purpose, analytics, networks, digital and art (yes art), marketing will not only remain relevant as a business and consumer facing profession, it will help drive brands and companies to deliver greater value to its stakeholders, customers and networks.
- Aditya Joshi looks at the skill base at the marketers of the future. And by future, he means now. Clearly we need to be investing in marketing teams to build out strategic thinking, analysis capabilities to derive insights and develop actionable plans and technology abilities to help organisations straddle marketing and IT.
- Marc Mathieu also speaks of massive change. Technology is infusing how we connect with people, learn from them, connect with entrepreneurs and engage with audiences. But perhaps the most challenging aspect is a central shift in purpose – “Marketing used to be about creating a myth and selling; now it’s about finding a truth and sharing it”.
- Jim Stengel breaks the future into three components, personalisation, automation and purpose (yes it’s a theme). He also flags storytelling as a mechanism to encompass the whole approach. “You don’t have a story unless you have purpose, have ambition, and are trying to make a difference in the world. More and more, people care about where brands come from”.
Take your time and read one of these interviews per day. There are insights that you don’t need to wait five years for – they are practices that you can embed in your thinking now and prepare for out to 2020. After all, the future is a moving feast. Take your seat at the table.
As much as we write about the end of this or the end of that, one consistent form of communication that refuses to die, is email. Love it or hate it, newsletters and the like continue to go from strength to strength.
And there is nothing more telling about the role of email than when some of the most innovative digital thinkers start their own newsletters. Over the last few months, newsletters, not blogs or podcasts, have been started by at least three digital leaders that should be on your must-read list (or at least in your “Primary” Gmail tab). These are:
- Rosie & Faris’ Strands of Genius: Part business diary, part link collection, this newsletter by Rosie Yakob and Faris Yakob has a particular advertising and innovation focus that is hard to find. It is peppered with the dynamic duos’ personal sayings, interesting perspectives, and content that favours insight over statistics (though there are plenty of both).
- Kris Hoet’s Warped: A weekly curated email featuring the best ideas, trends and awesomeness from the previous seven days. Kris keeps an eye on innovation and trends emanating from Europe.
- Dave Phillip’s Work Study Dad: Short and sharp – Dave’s Five Things newsletter focuses on social media marketing and culture and contains only five links to items worth reading.
- Natural Disruption: The newsletter from our Disruptor’s Handbook team keeping you up-tod-ate with disruptive trends, technology and ideas.
And yes, I know that makes four. Make some room in your inbox for all of them 😉
Over the last couple of years, Carolyn Hyams has been building out the Firebrand Ideas Ignition blog as part of her role as Marketing Director for Aquent, Firebrand Talent and Vitamin T in Australia. With posts from the Firebrand team and a host of guest bloggers, it has become a great place to get the latest insight on topics from digital through to communications and marketing, with a touch of business and personal branding thrown in for good measure.
Some of the best recent topics include:
- What to say and do after an employee resigns by Greg Savage
- The new skills you need for the digital age by Ben Gilchriest
- Strategies to refocus your online energy when you are feeling social fatigue by Dionne Kasian-Lew
- Why applying the brake helps accelerate your career by Chris Savage
I have also contributed a few posts, including:
- Three digital disruption lessons from the startup world
- Three marketing lessons from joke emails and dark social
- Keeping Up: The first two steps for time poor marketers
Be sure to check out these topics and more.
Let me start with a confession.
Many years ago – a time lost in the mists – my first job was as an accountant. Actually, it was as a “trainee accountant” – I studied at night at worked by day. It was a hard slog – and it wasn’t a job that I loved. Eventually I ditched that work/study combo for the much more lucrative opportunity to make theatre and write under the auspices of a degree in the Arts (ahem). But I have always had a grudging affinity with accountants.
But I will be honest – it’s a conservative profession. So when it comes to social media and branding, accounting and accounting-related professions are behind the 8-ball. After all, we trust them with our money, our taxes and what we would consider our financial future – so we rightly expect a degree of decorum. Risk aversion. Security.
So when accounting software business, MYOB comes out with a sassy promo like this, you have to sit up and take notice.
What do you think? Are you loving your job this much?
When we have a question, we search the web with Google. When we want to get or share an opinion, we turn to Twitter. And when we want to learn or share, we read blogs, take a Skillshare class or watch a YouTube video.
There is no doubt that a great deal of our contemporary experiences are mediated by technology. And as the torrent of content crashes through our various streams, from email to RSS, search to social, we unwittingly give over to algorithms, analytics and charts. It’s easy. Reliable. A matter of fact.
But there is a tyranny in data that we have not yet come to grips with. There are subtleties in creativity and nuance in piecing together the strands of commonality that can be woven together to create new stories or imagined futures. We are so overwhelmed that we have fallen back on data, facts and information – not as the only source of truth, but as the most convenient. As a result, we miss that emotional twang that reminds us that amongst the raging sea of ideas, executions, plans and analyses – there are real people at either end of the things that we produce.
One of the antidotes to this is to embrace the power of subjectivity.
Now, I am not advocating wild “feelpinions” – which are always laden with prejudice and politics. But what if we were, in fact, to respect a body of work, an individual’s expertise and their peers’ recommendations? No, I’m not making a comment on the volatile nature of contemporary Australian politics. I’m tipping my hat to the hand picked list of 50 planners to watch in 2014 compiled by Julian Cole and Liane Siebenhaar. In their own words:
Rather than rating blog views, Twitter followers or other unreliable performance indicators, we picked people who produce interesting content and innovations. People we’d like to have a coffee and hangout with. The people we think we can learn from in 2014.
And that’s a good enough recommendation for me.
I don’t know about you, but I am completely logical. Focused. Directed. I am completely in charge of my own decisions and behaviour.
Or so I thought.
A couple of weeks ago, I caught up with Ash Donaldson, caffeine aficionado and behavioural design guru. We got talking about mobile app design and human behaviour and within seconds, my head was swimming. He was connecting dots that once swirled around my head like stars in the night sky. With a few quick examples, he explained how – through design – we can predict someone’s decisions.
And if you are interested in understanding how this might work in practice, take a look at Ash’s webinar on Slideshare. It’s 10 minutes that may just change the way you plan your marketing. And it may just change the way you think about your own choices that you think you make.
Almost every day we hear more about the growth of Twitter. We hear a lot about its growth and its promise – but also, it’s dark side. Back in 2008, I felt that social media was mainstreaming – becoming accepted by what we’d call the early and late majorities.
But as this trend continues, we see a huge gap appearing in the skills, capability and experience of marketers in their use of social media. This is compounded by low barriers to entry – the sheer fact that anyone can setup a Twitter account in seconds democratises the power that once was held tightly by publishers.
But once you are connected, what do you do? As a marketer, you’re likely to make your fair share of mistakes – social is omni-directional. It’s not broadcast. It’s not even one-to-many – but what I call one-FOR-many. And as we have trained our minds towards broadcast, we can easily find ourselves out of our depth in the sea of social chaos.
But luckily for us, Mandi Bateson has developed a Twitter guide for marketers. Her Twitter 101 is a must read. It covers the Twitter essentials, how to make an impact and introduces the Twitter media packages for when you have some budget to spend on amplification.
Many, many years ago – back in my early days of social media, I connected with a very strange person. His name is Mike Wagner. He was a boldly creative and generous spirit that leaped at me out of the vast sea of social media chaos. I loved his energy and his thinking.
But the thing is … he stood out. We connected. We conversed. And after many years of connecting over social media, we met – face-to-face – in Des Moines, Iowa – and I felt like we had been friends for years. I thought it was about some deeper truth related to social media. But I was wrong.
And now I know how he did it. He used his STRANGE on me.
In this great TEDxDesMoines talk, he talks about the positive power of strangeness – and how we can tap into our strangeness to connect with the people who can help us solve the problems of our world.
So how do you feel today? I’m full of Johnny Cash today, but tomorrow I expect a touch of Ray LaMontagne. Rock on with your strangeness today.