Archive for the ‘consultant’ tag
I’m all for a well-thought-out go-to-market strategy. But I’ve often advised consultants and other small businesses to leave your directional map at about 80% – and let the market inform you about the remaining 20%.
Why? Because you WILL pivot, to some extent – and your customers will show you where and how.
A recent example from my experience – I’ve been doing Clarity Therapy sessions for a variety of individuals and companies for a couple of years now. Typically, these are one-day intensive sessions, with a few months of minor follow-up.
I did not, however, anticipate performing any kind of ongoing business coaching. I saw Clarity Therapy as an event, not a long-term process. Until clients starting asking for more. A lot more. And a wealth of helpful lessons from past experience began to come to the surface.
Turns out that being an outside voice giving perspective on overall business structure, specific creative offerings, client account management, and staffing (plus identifying resources via networking) is a much bigger need than I realized.
The most interesting revelation of all: how lonely it is to be a small business owner or solo consultant. I mean, I knew that, right? I AM one. But it didn’t really occur to me how important it is for us to have an outlet, a peer, a mentor, a friend – who can come alongside for the long-term and help get a business to a new level. There are short-term and one-shot needs, but clients are saying to also think about the deeper, longer haul. Bonus: that approach actually suits me quite well. I prefer those kind of business relationships.
Truth is, there’s a lot of stuff we just can’t say to customers, employees, colleagues, even family members. It’s frustrating, and the lack of a healthy outlet and fresh perspective clogs our mind and heart.
So, I now find myself offering business coaching for people and businesses seeking to grow and needing outside advice and encouragement. It’s not really a change of direction, just a natural extension that I didn’t anticipate.
How about you? How have your customers caused you to pivot? I’ve seen a number of my social media people evolve over time and it’s pretty fascinating. What’s your story?
I’ve been working in the SEO industry for nearly 13 years as an in-house SEO professional, freelance SEO consultant and now as the owner of an SEO company. In that time I’ve dealt with just about every level of management possible from small business owner, to marketing director to company CEO and I have learned [...]
Near-field communication helps you pay for things using your phone, quickly get through subway turnstiles and more. But NFC could give a hacker access to your phone just by standing next to you.
NFC interacts using small tags that can be as thin as stickers. These tags have a small antenna in them that detects the incoming interaction. Realistically, you need to be very close to your target if to successfully get the NFC interaction going. Charlie Miller, principal research consultant at Accuvant Labs, showed a video at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas of him following a friend, with his hand awkwardly close to his buddy’s back pocket. But you only need to consider how many pick-pockets exist in the world to realize how real this attack could be.
Miller admitted the attack is difficult to perform, and many of the bugs he found in NFC are not too extensive. Indeed he blamed this on the fact that NFC chips are small and only have so much space to hold data.
But he was able to exploit a bug in Nokia’s N9 smartphone that really showed the power of an NFC hack. The N9 has a feature in it called “pairing,” which allows the phone to connect to other devices using Bluetooth and NFC. In the N9′s case, you can use pairing to transfer the song you’re listening to on your device to a dedicated speaker.
If a hacker creates a tag that can pair the phone, she can have access to the Bluetooth network and eventually make it into the rest of the phone. Miller demo-ed the hack and pulled all the data from the phone, including the photos and address book. He also showed that you can sent text messages to other phones using the hacked phone, as well as make calls.
His message to the mobile security community? Make phones prompt the user before accepting an NFC connection.
“NFC attacks are really hard to test,” said Miller at the Black Hat conference. “The biggest takeaway is before you push a webpage to me or something, for God’s sake, give me the option to say no.”
Image via Meghan Kelly/VentureBeat
Debra Benton is a powerful speaker/consultant/author who has been in business successfully for over 30 years having founded Benton Management Resources in 1976 and today she joins Anna Farmery to talk about being an effective Virtual Executive. We discuss communication skills in
- Does the same way of communicating with people work online and offline
- Why online can often be better than an initial face to face meeting for business networking
- Is online better for quantity rather than quality of communication?
- Is your online social media presence part of the communication process
- How honesty is like beauty……in the eye of the beholder!
- How to be honest in your business communications
- Has the thought gone out of writing….the danger of putting time in to the communication tools rather than the writing skills
- Have words increased in value - and in this refected in training within a business
- The importance of body language in social networking
- How 2-3 hrs preparation is required for an hour’s business meeting!
- How no is a complete sentence but it is not a complete answer…how to learn to say no…properly online.
- A lesson from Brittany Spears……and how to turn a no into a positive.
- Why video is the best business networking tool
- As a business executive you should always see yourself as online…..and visible to the world
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A lot of agency blogs don’t talk about the diversity of client experience because they think it may reflect poorly, but it’s simply a reality of varying personalities, a dynamic market and changing organizations. Clearly the goal is retention and our online marketing agency has had clients for over 10 years!
When agencies don’t over-promise and under-deliver, manage expectations properly and actually get great results, you’d think the company and agency relationship would be unstoppable.
With the dynamic nature of digital and online marketing as well as the normal changes in business from new and discontinued products to staff changes to mergers and acquisitions, the assumed success formula for an effective agency and client relationship isn’t always so simple.
Nothing is more frustrating when the optimism of a new marketing consulting project morphs into something very different because of avoidable issues like unclear vision, failure to implement or a newly hired marketing executive that wants to clean house. While not everything is avoidable or solvable, there are many considerations for companies thinking of hiring a digital or online marketing agency to ensure a longer term and productive relationship. Here are 10 worth considering
1. Why? It sounds so simple but it’s important to be clear why an outside resource is needed. Answering “why” an outside agency or consultant is needed to advance your business goals is as important as answering “why” for a particular agency.
Many companies have never hired a marketing consultant or agency before and don’t know how to run the selection process so it’s important to avoid ambiguity as to why an outside resource is needed as well as what qualities are desired. Other companies are old pros or even go so far as to arrange RFPs and multiple rounds of pitches from competing agencies. Don’t lose the “why” in a long, drawn out selection process. In the end, someone has to be accountable and a defensible reason for outside help as well as which agency is selected is important.
2. How will you know you’re successful? Goals, objectives and measurement are essential. We’ve had many, many discussions with prospective clients that want to increase online sales but have no process in place for managing their sales pipleline or reports in their web analytics software that will track leads and sales. Internet marketing is not magic – it’s marketing. That means clear goals, an understanding of audience/target market, strategy, tactics and measurement.
A marketing agency should be able to help with optimizing most if not all of the sales cycle. Think beyond the top of the funnel.
Clarity on what success means is important too. There are a lot of marketing and PR executives out there for example, that still think keyword rankings are the most important success metric for a SEO program (vs. traffic, leads and sales). Make sure you can articulate what success looks like as a result of an engagement with the agency. Program performance is important and so is the working relationship for a successful engagement.
3. Can you implement? One of the most common issues with internet marketing programs that fail to reach fruition is a failure to implement. Charge the agency with identifying the necessary skills and capabilities that your company will need. Identify who will be implementing what and whether there are dependencies, approvals and other contingencies that need to be dealt with in order for the advice being paid for can actually get implemented.
Whether it’s social, content, SEO, PPC, online PR, email marketing or any other online marketing tactic, it’s important to map out all that could be involved with execution amongst the departments and staff of a company and also the agency. A classic SEO implementation failure example is where edits to a website template are recommended to allow search engines to crawl a site but the company is not able to implement because their IT staff don’t have access to the proprietary content management system code and the CMS vendor is no longer supporting the version installed.
4. Who’s in charge? Multiple cooks in the kitchen doesn’t work and neither does shared agency management responsibility. Companies that identify a lead agency liaison who has authority to make decisions will see a much more productive company/agency relationship. Otherwise mixed signals can result in output that no one will be accountable for and that doesn’t advance business goals.
Some agencies possess multiple levels or areas of capability and can be engaged for a variety of projects. Each project will have operational staff on both the client and agency sides responsible for running the programs. At the same time, there still needs to be a single person at the company with overall responsibility for the agency relationship whether it’s a Director or VP of Marketing to the CXO of a small or medium sized business.
5. Can you integrate? Rarely can internet marketing programs operate effectively as siloed tactics. To achieve proper levels of implementation, scale and to gain an advantage over the competition, working cooperatively and collaboratively with other parts of the organization is essential. It might be as simple as Marketing, IT and Public Relations. It might be as complex as the various groups within different businesses in different parts of the world.
Integration of internet marketing efforts also meets the challenges of consumer expectations across the spectrum of brand experiences. Integration also helps make more effective use of internet marketing resources across the organization.
6. Can you sustain? Many companies structure agency engagements as projects vs. ongoing relationships. The agency serves as a resource to define strategy and help with implementation and after a period of time disengages. Without agency oversight, it’s important to be able to implement processes to sustain the advice paid for. It’s a shame to see a company benefit from a successful marketing agency engagement only to experience drops or fluctuations again after a year because they could not sustain new best practices or processes.
7. What resources do you have? Imagine hiring a top agency that fits with your organization’s culture and needs only to find out you don’t have the resources to implement the advice you’re getting? Work with the agency to identify what resources are needed and then audit your own resources to make sure you have what is necessary to realize the full value of the consulting.
8. What are your strengths? Part of achieving a symbiotic and highly productive relationship with an agency is to understand your own organization’s strengths. For example, you might have amazing content creation talent within subject matter experts but aren’t using them that way. Or you might consider your IT department as having expertise in SEO when they’ve never done keyword research, developed an optimized content plan or worked with web analytics to provide conversion rate optimization advice.
An agency should be able to identify the needed skills and practice areas for an engagement and can even help asses an organization’s strengths so brand and agency resources can be allocated in the most productive way possible.
9. What are all the possible positive impacts? Most companies hire an agency for SEO because they want to increase sales. But consumers search for more reasons than to purchase and companies publish content for more reasons than to make sales. SEO can attract a desired audience to any kind of content published, linked and shared online. A SEO engagement that shows an increase in search traffic, leads and sales as well as an increase in organic search traffic to customer support content, to news content and even job listings can help articulate the full range of impact from engaging and implementing SEO.
Think of all the possible impacts from an engagement whether it’s content, social community building or publicity that you’re after. A mature and innovative agency should be able to support this kind of impact assessment.
10. What are the risks? Certainly, hiring an agency that fits a company’s needs shouldn’t possess any risks, but it’s important to consider when an agency hasn’t been hired before, your business is obligated by industry regulations, your branch office has fuzzy rules about who gets to engage outside help – whether it’s corporate only, division, business units or regional operations.
It’s also important to consider the agency itself for potential risks. Do they have real and relevant experience? Are they staffed properly? Do they have mature processes in place? Do they engage in gray area or questionable tactics? Are they a fit with your company’s culture? Work to identify reputable agencies with relevant experience, capabilities and competent staff.
If you work at an agency, what are some of the client pre-qualification questions you like to ask? If you work at a company that hires digital marketing consultants and agencies, what are some of the questions they should be asking to ensure a better fit in the long run?
© Online Marketing Blog, 2012. |
10 Tips Pre-Hire Checklist for Digital Marketing Agencies | http://www.toprankblog.com
Why is the cloud so hard to make funny?
Thank goodness for The Onion. Finally, the cloud is funny.
The cloud is not supposed to be funny. How can you be funny about a bunch of servers? Elasticity? That’s not funny.
There are some decent attempts.
One Microsoft spoof on VMware is funny but not Onion kind of funny. It features Tad, the sales guy from VMlimited.
And then there is the cloud consultant. He has no credentials but lots of friends who are social media experts.
You can get a bit of a laugh about Hitler learning about a security issue. But the Hitler spoofs are numerous on YouTube so it doesn’t have quite the edge.
Most of the cloud videos are so awful that they become funny in their own cringing way.
Microsoft’s “To the Cloud,” campaign ranks high in that category.
I did some checking to find other videos by The Onion about the cloud. I could not find one. Even The Onion struggles with making the cloud funny.
That means just one thing. We need more cowbell.
The thing is, while many preach it, few actually do it.
Landing on a marketing strategy that allows you to clearly demonstrate how you’re different, how you bring value and who, precisely, makes an ideal client for your business is the most important element of marketing.
In my experience few business owners, marketers and even marketing consultants have any approach to finding this “secret sauce” and that alone makes doing so one of the greatest opportunities you have.
I’ve spent years working on this very topic and today I would like to bring my readers a free eBook on the topic of developing great marketing strategy. It’s called – How to Create the Marketing Strategy That Is Perfect for Your Business.
In this 30+ page eBook you’ll find insight on how to
- Develop an ideal client profile
- Find and communicate your difference
- Choose a proven value proposition
- And much, much more
If you want to know the true secret to long term marketing success go get your copy of this eBook today and share it with any business owner you want to succeed.
Andrew Kim channels Mary Shelley and tries to reanimate the lifeless carcass of Microsoft through a magisterial rebranding. ‘Be almost science fiction.’
I hope Microsoft has the sense to hire this guy, at least as a consultant.
Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post from Jonathan Gebauer. He is the co-founder and CEO at exploreB2B, a German company.
Exemplary corporate bloggers and content marketers give us the impression that blogging is the answer. These are the men and women who continually publish great content on their blogs, drawing thousands of readers’ daily. Many treat these thought leaders as celebrities (Brian Clark at Copyblogger, Robert Scoble, Brian Solis) and give us the impression that, we too, can establish this level of professional blogging influence.
This assumption, today, crashes and burns. Though strangely, it is still highly promoted.
If a consultant has told you to start your own corporate blog or you have been swayed by one of the many articles stating this is the only way to establish expertise during the content marketing revolution, then you have been a victim of misguided thought.
While blogging used to be productive (during it’s rise over eight years ago), there are now other forms of self-publication that are easier, more efficient and effective. As technology and best practice evolve, blogging becomes old news.
Most of the reasons given to begin a blog no longer apply exclusively to blogging. Instead, they are an argument to publish. Blogs, when we think about it, are really just a liberal form of self-publication – and are certainly not the most efficient method today. After all, would you create a publishing house and put it in a location where less than a handful of people related to your industry could find it, just to publish a few times and distribute to even fewer readers?
Several factors influence the killing of corporate blogs, so let us first get an overview:
Consultants are killing business blogging
The number of business owners being told by consultants to create their own blog increases each day. All those business owners compete for readers. Several years ago, there was enough space in the blogosphere to build a blog with professional influence. Today, new bloggers are a mere freckle on the face of the web. Sadly, high-quality content (often) does not solve the issue of not being found. No matter how good the content is on your blog, your readers will have a tough time finding it without added (paid) assistance.
SEO is killing business blogging
One of the main reasons regularly stated for creating your own corporate blog is SEO. Sounds simple, right? You create a blog on your corporate site and every article on your blog creates a new page that is helping you attain search engine traffic. People will post your articles, creating links to your site. This used to be a neat trick – in 2005. Today, this method is overused and Google has made tough adjustments to protect their credibility. With high quality content (that people share), the system still has the opportunity to work, though this is not without producing a massive amount of content to flood your blog. How long will it take to get this kind of content, when you are competing with blogs that have been running for 2 to 7 years?
Your consultant might tell you to push optimized articles through all of your social media channels, that SEO is the golden ticket to having your idyllic content found. (In the likely event that you created your blog to enhance your website SEO, you are now in the odd situation that you are doing SEO for your blog that you have created for doing SEO for your Website – if this sounds confusing… that is because it is). The consultant is not completely wrong, but what he is probably not telling you, is that it will take years to establish your blog, especially in a niche market. It simply should not take that long for your content to be read.
Shortcuts are killing business blogging
As it has become more difficult to achieve the desired level of exposure through business blogging, people have begun to cheat. Many try to increase the power of their blogs by reposting what others write. This has created a duplicate content problem, with search engines rating duplicate content down.
Buying Facebook fans (companies purchasing thousands of ‘likes’) has resulted in potential leads mistrusting the number of followers a company boasts.
These, among other shortcuts, have been taken by many people trying to create short-term success for their professional blogs. These methods are now backfiring on blogs in general.
So what are the solutions?
There are numerous ways to publish on the web that can produce faster and long-withstanding company results.
Keep in mind that what you want is not actually to create a reputation for your blog; it is to create a reputation for yourself and your company. Here are some ways to do so:
Guest post on other blogs. Not everyone is in your boat of trying now to start from scratch. Utilize the already established blogs in your industry; most of them accept guest posts. Research blogs in your field of expertise, think of a topic for a contributed piece, and contact the author.
News aggregation sites. Compose an article and submit to an aggregation site that allows you to contribute pieces. The moderation queue will let you know shortly if your post will be published and exposed to the aggregation community. Either it is featured on the platform, or you can reuse the content elsewhere.
Content-based networks: Content-based platforms allow you to post material (videos, articles, infographics) without awaiting moderation. Here you create a profile and post with zero lag time. The most frequently network of this type is YouTube. For articles, exploreB2B (a business platform built for the purpose of sharing and exposing written content) is also effective in allowing for content discovery.
Do not forget offline options. Conferences where you can attend or speak – accessing other thought leaders and influencers in your line of work, are a highly effective means of PR. Publishing in print magazines also channels an outlet of people seeking information. Publish where your audience is looking to consume new ideas, both on and offline.
When you produce high quality content, people will remember you. This authority does not come from the power of a blog; it comes from the power of your thoughts, findings, teachings and innovations being communicated in a meaningful way. Find places to publish that give you the maximum amount of exposure to share these ideas. More important than creating a reputation for your blog is to create a strong reputation for yourself.
Have You Registered For Explore Minneapolis?
Don’t miss two days of intensive learning with some of the leading thinkers and practitioners in the digital marketing and social media marketing space. Join SME’s Jason Falls and Nichole Kelly, The Now Revolution co-author Jay Baer, Edison Research’s Tom Webster, Ad Contrarian Bob Hoffman, Scott Gulbransen, Kevin Hunt, Kipp Bodnar and more at one of the leading digital and social media marketing events of 2012, August 16-17 in Minneapolis, Minn. DON’T WAIT TO REGISTER! Seats are filling fast! Reserve yours today!
Jonathan Gebauer is co-founder and CEO at exploreB2B a German startup that recently went international. exploreB2B’s mission is to revolutionize worldwide business-to-business communication by providing a platform where any professional can publish. Written articles connect users and create the necessary framework for collaboration and new business opportunity. You can reach Jonathan on Twitter at @jogebauer or contact him directly via mailto:email@example.com.
Without users, it doesn’t matter how innovative your mobile app or game is. At next week’s GamesBeat 2012 conference in San Francisco, we explore the future of user acquisition with speakers such as Rober Weber, a cofounder of W3i; Gabriel Leydon, the CEO of Machine Zone; Ben Vu, a cofounder and CEO of SkyVu Entertainment; and mobile strategy consultant A.J. Yeakel.
As VentureBeat’s Dean Takahashi put it back in April, “What app makers have to spend to get the attention of Apple device users has risen out of control. That’s a tough fact of life that could make survival hard in the Darwinian mobile app ecosystem. Solving this problem is going to require a lot of innovation and clear thinking. And if it isn’t solved, we’re going to see a number of mobile app companies start to die. If Apple and others in the ecosystem don’t handle it right, it could be a bloodbath for developers.”
This year’s GamesBeat conference will also be co-located with our MobileBeat 2012 conference, where we’ll be exploring how design is the new battleground.
App User Acquisition Today & Tomorrow – Where is it all headed?
The cost to acquire users for mobile games continues to rise. Learn from top experts representing game studios large and small how they are evolving their marketing campaigns to find gamers and how they are optimizing their games to maximize profitability. Key topics include how the social space is impacting discovering of apps now and into the future in light of recent changes by social platforms. We’ll talk about which marketing campaigns have been successful and which campaigns are failing, the tactics that are moving the needle with respect to monetization to improve profitability from user acquisition, the changing methods of user identification and the impact on performance measurement, and how indies are competing with large players to acquire users.
Gabriel “Gabe” Leydon is the cofounder and chief executive officer of Machine Zone, Inc., a high growth, free-to-play, mobile, social gaming company. Under Gabriel’s leadership, Machine Zone has created top-grossing hits such as iMob, iMob2, Original Gangstaz, and Global War for iOS devices. Gabriel launched the company (then known as Addmired) in September 2007, joined Y Combinator in the winter of 2008, and is now driving Machine Zone to become the leader in free-to-play mobile games.
A.J. Yeakel is currently a mobile strategy consultant and advisor to companies, including Flurry/Activision Mobile Publishing, Presidio Mobile, and Popover Games. Previously, A.J. served as head of mobile marketing and revenue at Zynga, helping to grow Zynga’s mobile division from 100,000 to over 15 million active daily users. During his time in the mobile group at Zynga, A.J. oversaw 15-plus marketing launches across iOS, Android and HTML5.
Rob Weber cofounded W3i in 2000, growing W3i to be a leader in app user acquisition and monetization. For 42 consecutive quarters, the company has turned a profit and has grown to over 120 employees. For more than a decade, Rob worked to create solutions to increase distribution, drive revenue, and heighten engagement for app developers such as DeNA, Gree, Kabam, PocketGems, and many other indie and public developers. Under Rob’s leadership, W3i recently launched a mobile offer exchange that includes partnerships with leading offer providers.
Ben Vu is the cofounder and CEO of SkyVu Entertainment, a Top 50 mobile game developer with over 17 million downloads of their award-winning Battle Bears mobile game franchise. A recipient of TouchArcade’s Best iPhone Games of the Year and iLounge’s Top 100 Games of the Year, SkyVu’s core 3D action games have reached the top of charts in both paid, free, and top-grossing in over 50 countries.
Steve Peterson, the West Coast Editor for GameIndustry International
GamesBeat 2012?s theme is “The Crossover Era.” The game industry as we know it is changing. We’re seeing established companies cross over from one market to another, where once they faced barriers. As companies adapt to change, we are witnessing disruption, change, consolidation, innovation, and the arrival of big money. We’re talking billions of dollars that are at stake.
We want to thank the industry leaders that are supporting GamesBeat 2012: W3i as Platinum Sponsor; King.com as Corporate Sponsor; Flurry and Tapjoy as Gold Sponsors; Greystripe, LifeStreet Media, Ludei and Nokia Developer as Silver Sponsors; and Betable, Game Insight, Gree, Kontagent, Nexage, Paypal, Pontiflex, Swrve, and XYOlogic as Event Sponsors.
GamesBeat 2012 is VentureBeat’s fourth annual conference on disruption in the video game market. This year we’re calling on speakers from the hottest mobile, social, PC, and console companies to debate new ways to stay on pace with changing consumer tastes and platforms. Join 500-plus execs, investors, analysts, entrepreneurs, and press as we explore the gaming industry’s latest trends and newest monetization opportunities. The event takes place July 10-11 in San Francisco, and you can get your tickets here.
Photo via Shutterstock