I’M OBSESSED about contributing to a better future – for you… for the people, communities and environments wherever my life exists – at work, at home and while travelling.
Amidst my dreaming and planning, I’ve always wondered at the vision of a better life offered by glass… high tech glass… demonstrated in Corning’s ‘Day of Glass’ video.
With an eye-watering YouTube audience soaring into many millions, if you haven’t seen this future of glass at home and work, and would like a glimpse into what must now seem a not-too-distant future, you can watch ‘The Day Made of Glass’ here.
MARKETING leaders (and their teams) are often in a revolving door, more quickly out of a role than other senior management.
Yet research shows it’s not wise. Why? Because CEOs in high marketing capability firms have 35% more months in their jobs than do CEOs in low marketing capability firms (source: Forbes).
The average tenure of a Chief Marketing Officer in the US is just 4 years, behind the average for the C-suite of a little over 5 years. Part of the true reason for this is down to the “exceptionally complex” nature of the CMO role (source: Marketing Week).
It’s worth reading Kim Whitler’s Forbes piece here to check to see if business leaders are taking marketing seriously… http://bit.ly/mktg-bullets
Are you a CEO, CFO or CIO – or other boss – criticising bad marketing at your firm? Then pause and consider the following 5 Mckinsey questions:
1. What exactly influences your consumers today?
2. How well informed (really) is your marketing judgment?
3. How are you managing financial risk in your marketing plans?
4. How are you coping with added complexity in the marketing organisation?
5. What metrics should you track given your (imperfect) options?
Be honest. Could you answer them? If not, then ask yourself if you should learn a little more about marketing.
Like all management, marketing is part of the team. To keep shooting the marketing messengers, revolving door-style, could end up like Russian roulette gambling – eventually, if not instantly, you could lose… badly.
Here’s a challenge to business leaders and senior management… Support your marketing team, possibly by working with them more – or at least get closer to your customers.
Spend some quality time immersing yourselves in marketing. Go on… try to live + understand your customers’ cultures to better appreciate marketing challenges.
Worklife is busy as a digital consultant so it’s always difficult to choose the next piece of content for the website. This blog is about the sometimes sick state of business (and perhaps other organisations), so it seems appropriate then – after attending two BrightonSEOs this year – to draw attention to event founder Kelvin Newman’s repeated ‘urgent’ flag’…
After two successful conferences at international venue, the Brighton Centre, this autumn he described the current state of digital that web experts frequently face: “There haven’t been that many surprises in the past 10 years, despite the hysteria we hear around the pace of change in the space. The reality is that for lots of businesses, rather than worrying about big, disruptive shifts, they should really make sure they’re getting the basics right.”
With that in mind, let me share the report I prepared for digital consultancy and marketing learning firm, Smart Insights…
Imagine you’re a manic CEO or senior digital manager (and if things are far too stretched, you’ll know this is not funny). To help, here’s a ‘helicopter’ view of key sessions for you from the most recent BrightonSEO:
The key thought to have ‘front-of-mind’ is, as always, there’s no quick fix these days that will miraculously propel any digital venture to overnight success. Time and money are usually key essentials – and not forgetting resources, e.g. People, computing power + related tools.
It takes time to prepare the ground for great projects (e.g. SEO fundamentals), sow and plant on decent soil (e.g. write content + social media posts), nurture each element (e.g. content marketing + paid media) to reap a rich harvest (the millionaire lifestyle + live forever on the Maldives).
Brexit at BrightonSEO
So, let’s examine the top trends at BrightonSEO this time. Firstly, there was the Brexit theme on display (but only very lightly), promoting Brighton as a Great British place to have great creatives work with you.
And then, if you want to know how to spot popular trends, the first place to check is the event schedule. Here’s how I carved up stalls set out by the Rough Agenda organisers:
Important to all those wanting to be successful at search were most of the key topics in the auditoria. But these five probably make the best overview:
Advanced keyword research
Why these? Without decent keyword research, you’ll be on a back foot and subsequently lose customers, donors, influencers etc. Then, if you get technical, onsite and link elements wrong:
No-one will find you
No-one will read, watch or listen to you.
Diving into the smaller rooms, several important digital disciplines and areas got my pique:
Business strategy, e.g. agile marketing.
Customers – I had to tease ‘the Customer’ out of the agenda but they were there, oh yes – in the social and chatbot sections for instance.
Reputation / Online PR – how’s yours, your company / organisation?
Content strategy + marketing – what is done here will likely make or break a business or organisation, indisputably.
Measurement / analytics – you can’t manage to improve without first measuring – period.
Paid media / affiliates – a crucial area for many… Google, Facebook, Bing, LinkedIn, agencies like Criteo and many other players trying to earn more than a lion’s share of your budget(s).
AMP – be early to market, if you’re not too late already, and you could reap better success than the laggards.
www search experts
Read on and check slides from BrightonSEO’s impressive line-up who shared major trends shaping search and the web…
AMP: For ‘mobile first’, see Cindy Krum (slides), Emily Grossman (slides) and Aleyda Solis (slides) – think better UX and mobile load time. Or just create sites that are served up fast (Jon Henshaw).
Dawn Anderson is, not least, a server code genius making sense of Google Page Rank and patents as well as knowing how to sort out the “random crap” that’s ended up on our websites and servers after years of ‘generational cruft‘.
And finally, a glimpse into a space-age future: how the digerati will create 3D Star Wars-type holograms maybe… Jess Stiles on emerging platforms.
(Missed the wrap-up talk, Gary Illyes on the inner workings of Google, because I was booked to Dj so had to leave in good time to make sure a train got me home. Will catch-up…)
JUST as there are fears today in 2017 about leaving the EU, there have been fears and criticisms about staying in for decades. I came across a past model essay outlining arguments for and against staying in the Common Market or European Economic Community (the EEC as it was called).
It is illuminating with hindsight to take a short journey back through modern history to consider there was plenty of planning, thinking and debating before we joined and while we have been members – however in 2017 we know there has been little planning about how Britain – and businesses based here – will survive and prosper operating outside of the EU.
Highlights in the history below include calls for stronger links with the Commonwealth and developing nations outside the EU – and fears when staying in about being governed from Brussels or Strasbourg rather than from Westminster.
Brief history of the Common Market
Over the past 70 years or so, Britain’s role as a trading nation has changed because of the Common Market. In 1951 France, Germany, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands set up the European Coal and Steel Community. Coal, iron and steel could be bought and sold within these countries without any trade restrictions. The community turned out to be a success.
In 1958, the six members of the ECSC set up the European Economic Community (EEC) or Common Market. Members of the EEC were to work towards free trade between themselves. They agreed to apply the same tariffs on all trade with non-members. They also agreed to work towards common policies on nuclear power, social welfare, tax, agriculture and transport. In 1961 and 1967 Britain applied to join the EEC, but Charles de Gaulle, President of France, felt that Britain had too many commitments to Commonwealth countries and the USA. He rejected Britain’s application to join the community. In 1970 a third attempt was made to join the EEC. This was successful, and in 1973 Britain became a member of the community.
Effects of Britain’s membership of the EEC:
Britain joined the EEC too late to improve her trading prospects. The community had been in existence for 16 years and the six original members had shaped the community in a way which suited them.
Britain had a different trading pattern from those of other countries, and this worked to our disadvantage. We lost our close economic ties with the Commonwealth.
Britain had to pay huge sums of money towards the total EEC budget.
Most EEC countries had more efficient industries than Britain. Free trade between EEC members opened up Britain to foreign manufacturers and British business and industry had to struggle to compete.
The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) kept food prices high, even though there were massive food surpluses (e.g. butter and beef ‘mountains’).
(You can probably understand that this potted history reasonably indicates the source and development of different attitudes in Britain to the the rest of Europe that we see play out as controversies in the corridors of power, the Press and media up to the present day.)
Brexit – Britain is ‘leaving’ the EU, shown in map
How Britain used to discuss the European market
Here’s a conversation between a parent and son debating the pros and cons in the late 1980s…
“You’ve got it wrong, Dad. The Common Market is just a rich man’s club. It’s a way of helping people in business to make bigger profits by reducing tariffs between European countries.”
“You forget that lower tariffs will mean cheaper goods, John.”
“In theory, yes. But cheaper imports will ruin British industry. Look what foreign cars have done to the British motor industry. What’s happened to British-made motor cycles? In practice, membership of the EEC will mean higher food prices. Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy and the Netherlands will want us to raise our prices to bring them in line with theirs. And you know how much food costs when you go abroad!”
“Look, John, you know how inefficient some British farmers are. Membership of the EEC will help them a lot. With the Common Agricultural Policy, they’ll be much better off and they’ll be producing more food.”
“You’re talking rubbish, Dad. British farmers are some of the most efficient in Europe. The effect of the CAP will be that food prices will go up and certain items will be produced in too great a quantity. Farmers won’t have to worry about foreign competition. They’ll be able to produce as much butter or beef as they like. They’ll get a fixed price for their produce whatever happens. Worse still, Dad, we’ll get bigger and bigger food mountains and wine lakes. All the surplus food will be sold off to the Eastern Bloc or just dumped the sea. This seems criminal when a few thousand miles away there are people starving.
“But, John, you must remember that in some parts of Europe farming methods are old-fashioned and inefficient. Many farms are too small for modern machinery. The aim of the CAP is to increase the size of European farms. The commissioners will be handing out sums of money to uneconomic farmers to persuade them to give up small farms.”
“Dad, it’s only in Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy that you see a lot of these tiny farms. The British taxpayer will be subsidising foreign farmers!”
Peace in Europe
“Why are you so inward-looking, John? I’d have thought you’d like the idea of a united Europe. You’re in favour of peace aren’t you? Since the EEC was set up in 1957, there have been no major wars in Europe.”
“But there have been some dreadful acts of terrorism and violence. We need stronger links with the Commonwealth and the Third World countries, not with Europe. The future of the world lies with the developing nations.”
“The Commonwealth? You’re beginning to sound like an imperialist, John. With all your talk of tariffs and the Empire you seem to have a lot in common with the protectionists.”
“You remember the 1930s, Dad. We had to bring back tariffs then to protect British industry.”
“Was the European Free Trade Association in favour of tariffs? When Britain joined EFTA with Austria, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland in 1959, there wasn’t much talk of tariffs then.”
Wider markets for UK business and industry
“That was 1959. Be realistic, Dad, we live in a changing world and have to be adaptable. I’m convinced that staying in the EEC will weaken Britain’s ties with the USA and the Commonwealth. It will harm our trade with Scandinavia. We’ll have higher food prices and unemployment and less efficient farming. We’ll be governed from Brussels or Strasbourg rather than from Westminster. And British industry will be destroyed by harmful competition.”
“Well, John, you’re entitled to your own views on this but I sincerely believe that our future lies with Europe. EFTA was never a success and geographically we’re closer to Europe than the Commonwealth. Staying in the EEC will give us a wider market for industrial goods and cheaper food imports. We’ll have more jobs in farming and industry. Workers will be able to travel freely from one European country to another in search of employment. We’ll all have a higher standard of living and there’ll be less likelihood of war breaking out in Europe. Finally, don’t forget that in this referendum it looks as if over 65 per cent of the voters are going to vote ‘YES’ to staying in.”
“I can see that we’re not going to agree about this, Dad. People may vote to stay in this time but when the next referendum is held, the result will be very different.”
IT IS NOW critical that teams in search optimisation (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) work together. It used to be usual to have an agency or organic / natural search specialist carry out SEO while a PPC expert focused solely on advertising. That meant you had two sets of experts working for you… double the impact for your business results, or bang for your buck, right?
Well, maybe in the past. However, the digital world is changing. As the line between SEO and PPC continues to blur, you are likely to cause problems employing two agencies or separate SEO and PPC internal teams to work for your company.
Break down any SEO and PPC silos
There was a time when SEO and PPC advertisers were marketing rivals. However, now collaboration is essential between search optimisers (SEO-ers) and paid advertising (PPC-ers) in an organisation or an agency. They help each other perform better.
If you study the top of a typical Google results page, you’ll observe a mix of paid ads and local listings before reaching the lower-placed organic results (usually below the fold). This will happen increasingly as Google works to include paid ads and location pins into local results via Google Maps (further developing its business revenue streams).
Confused by ‘paid search’ and ‘paid social’?
Google dominated paid advertising for so long that PPC was all about just one service: Google AdWords. However, in recent times social media advertising is disrupting Google’s dominance. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn now offer great value paid ads.
So PPC has changed to mean ‘paid search’ and ‘paid social’, requiring expertise in social media and content marketing, not just placing adverts on Google.
Your digital marketing in 2017
Nowadays, you’re likely to see lower performance if you have an SEO strategy without content marketing, or a PPC advertiser that doesn’t understand social. Digital teams in your company or agency need to be aligned to achieve best results by collaborative, integrated digital marketing.
The priority as we head towards 2017 is to ensure you’ve set realistic goals i.e. forecast how digital and offline marketing can achieve leads and sales – and then devise the right kind of strategy to make them happen.
SEO and PPC channels work together to maximise your online visibility, traffic and conversions, including:
Business growth (more leads and sales);
Increased rankings results (SERPs)
Repeat / retained customers.
PPC and organic search must work together. Marketing decisions really have to be made based on achieving your business objectives, not the separate interests of different agencies or separate PPC and SEO specialists.
If your company or organisation is not doing this – or not doing SEO and PPC well – contact ‘the eConsultant’ to decide how you can achieve it.
ONE of the problems with business is identified in an independent scientific study about managerial competence. In the paper ‘Personality and Leadership: A Qualitative and Quantitative Review’, it reports that effective managers tend to be highly adjusted, sociable, friendly, flexible, and prudent. Many of us come into this category surely.
Thus, they are the opposite of some of the self-made famous business and political leaders often cited as role models, such as Steve Jobs, Donald Trump, Jack Welch, Bob Diamond, Vladimir Lenin, Margaret Thatcher, Bill Gross, Justin Mateen – there are bad tales about them all. Imagine working for them directly – they may sound great, depending on your own interests, business or political leanings (or psychology?), but most people seem happiest working for people who are the exact opposite!
Is the following, in fact, the truth about a well-functioning business manager? Objective, transparent, unselfish, and apolitical. S/he assigns the right task to every person and rewards unselfish team behaviours, creating a culture of trust and keeping morale high.
S/he monitors individual and team performance with precision and provides real-time feedback to boost everybody’s productivity. S/he operates according to data rather than intuition and makes only evidence-based recommendations.
And yet most organisations today arguably choose managers who are likely flash and who demonstrate “bold displays of confidence” – whether or not that translates into actual competence.
Despite a vast body of knowledge – including independent scientific evidence – on what makes a good manager, too many people get promoted to management positions based on past technical expertise or their previous individual job performance, so they end up, in effect, transitioning from skilled labour to unskilled management, states Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic writing in HBR (Tomas is CEO of Hogan Assessment Systems, a Professor of Business Psychology at University College London, and a faculty member at Columbia University).
So, what does a very good manager look like? S/he has emotional maturity. It is mainly a function of being emotionally stable, agreeable, and conscientious. Unsurprisingly, we all become more “mature” (‘boring’) as we age.
The likes of Jobs, Sepp Blatter, Bernie Madoff, and Pablo Escobar (as Michael Maccoby pointed out in an influential HBR essay) “tend to be poor listeners who are sensitive to criticism and demonstrate low levels of emotional intelligence”. In addition, such people are noted to be ruthless, impatient, demanding, morally questionable etc. Who wants to be thought of or remembered as being like that?
Chamorro-Premuzic says: “In any culture people are more volatile and antisocial during their teens, and they become more conforming, conservative and rule-abiding as they grow older. Although this tends to have a negative connotation in much of the Western world – which avowedly values creativity, disruption, and individuality – it is clearly an asset when it comes to managerial potential.”
Maybe these leaders never grew up and were allowed to bully their immediate business world? They never nurtured a normal life, let their family suffer for the sake of their work? This type of leadership is more than likely what has been wrong with various parts of business up to the last economic crash. Chickens came home to roost, as the late respected Stephen R Covey once explained. Let’s see, as the economic world moves forward, if business has learned and is able to better choose leaders who are stable, highly adjusted, sociable, friendly, flexible, and prudent… ones that people are happiest to work for.
This blog is called ‘The Business Patient’ that, during its life will likely explore, among many issues, a current vein of popular thought, gossip, knowledge and criticism at home – and down the pub; that many companies and organisations are badly run. Sometimes they don’t realise it; sometimes they need time to recover, heal; sometimes they need better processes, and better people.
Sometimes bad culture carries on despite leadership changes. It’s not just about individual leaders in such workplaces either though; work can be hard, requires application of much intelligence and knowledge, as well as tough traits to get through and get things done – but one of those is almost certainly NOT ever huge amounts of anger at people, treating them badly, or even cruelly (e.g. Adolf Hitler – many thought him a great leader once; IBM should have known better). Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but hear the ring of truth…
National knife crime charity unveils new website to stem rise in UK stabbings
WORKING to reverse a new rise in knife crime announced this week, a campaigning British mum is stepping up her hard-hitting national campaign against violence in the UK.
Set up in memory of her much-loved teenage son Chris Cave, Theresa Cave has launched a new website built by leading international digital marketing consultancy White Hat Media.
Mark Chapman (the eConsultant) and Brighton-based White Hat Media designed, developed and built the fresh new online platform for The Chris Cave Foundation (http://www.thechriscavefoundation.org), with funding from the National Lottery.
Chris was stabbed to death by a violent gang leader when he was 17 years old. Since then, his mum Theresa has not rested to communicate a relentless and uncompromising anti-violence message to the world. The new mobile-friendly website is another step to better reach more people across the world to try to stop violence and killings.
The new website now hosts a range of modern online features and information, including:
Weapons-related education via the POINT7 anti-knife crime project
Memorial zone for the families and friends of victims
Discussion forum for people affected by knife and other violent crimes
Donations section to contribute to the Foundation’s campaigning work
Chris Cave (17), knife victim
Sporting a contemporary look, the site is planned to act as a key information hub on news and facts relating to knife and other violent crime across Britain while also providing a place for those who have been directly affected to come together and discuss experiences.
The Foundation, an evolution of the Mothers for Justice group, was founded by Theresa Cave, after her son’s killing on June 5, 2003, in Redcar, a coastal town in the north east of England.
Chris’s foundation is primarily a legacy to young people, aiming to educate and inform with the main aim to eliminate violent crimes. Theresa’s awareness and education work, via face-to-face training and also online using social media and her son’s website, continues to gather support across the UK as well as her home region in the north east of England.
Announcing the new site’s launch, Theresa said: “It is important to maintain a high level of knife and violent crime awareness in the country and to provide education, especially for young people, to try to stop the stabbings and other attacks that happen too often.
“I lost my son to knife crime and I won’t stop working to get out the message that violence isn’t the answer. People must stop and think – and simply not use their fists, knives or any other weapons.
“To hear knife crime is rising means it is more important than ever to focus on hard-hitting messages and education to try to change hearts and minds of those who decide to use violence and carry weapons that can kill.”
She continued: “The new website set up in Chris’s memory is a very effective way to communicate about this work and I’m very grateful to White Hat Media for their excellent work putting it together and for the financial support from the National Lottery.”
Theresa approached Mark Chapman (the eConsultant) to build the website after they had met online many years ago, sharing tragic experiences as well as a similar desire and drive to stop knife crime and other violence.
Mark set up his own UK knife crime blog (just type in ‘knife crime blog’ on Google to find it) after he and his family were caught up in a stabbing during a Saturday lunchtime party at a McDonald’s restaurant in Chichester, West Sussex, in 2005.
Mark said: “Theresa has made huge progress to drive home a powerful, educative message designed to persuade those prone to violence, especially young people, to become more peaceful. By building a new website in Chris’s memory, White Hat wanted to show their support for his mum’s tireless campaigning.”
Kevin Elliott, Operations Director at White Hat Media – whose design and technical team developed the website using the content management system Drupal – said: “We are delighted that Theresa and her family now have a fully-optimised online platform to publicise this important issue. Using the content management system Drupal, we have been able to create an intelligent mobile responsive site that is also social media-friendly.”
Notes for Editors:
Distributed on behalf of The Chris Cave Foundation by Mark Chapman (the eConsultant).
Further information, interviews, quotes, online marketing and website case studies are available on request.
There is a business ‘parable’ out there on the web… an intelligent, digestible summary of the financial and commercial issues that caused recent recessionary times (including the role of some bankers whose consciences apparently quit like Pinocchio’s!). It also covers how the honest, decent, hardworking majority have had to pay (via taxes) for the poor decisions of the financial glitterati and repercussions of imposing their financial instruments.
I replicate the parable / story here so that those with ‘minds that are opened’ can learn from it and hopefully apply necessary insight from such historic lessons to try to ensure the entire planet doesn’t suffer again in future due to (presumably) those financiers who let ‘ambition’ colour their actions (to be diplomatic in my description of their motives). It is a story I’ve found on US websites in 2010 and then Irish sites in 2011 although I can’t yet see how it originated or who wrote it first.
Comments on this post are most welcome to perhaps better explain the economics described here – and the motives of those involved – bankers, business people, investment experts… whoever are the key players, as you know or understand these recent desperate financial times.
Read on if you like to learn…
Mary is the proprietor of a bar in Dublin. She realises virtually all of her customers are unemployed alcoholics and aren’t going to be able to patronise her bar for much longer.
To solve this problem, she comes up with a new marketing plan allowing her customers to drink now but pay later. She keeps track of the drinks consumed on a ledger (thereby granting loans to these ‘customers’).
Word gets around about Mary’s “drink now, pay later” marketing strategy and, as a result, increasing numbers of customers flood into Mary’s bar. Soon she has the largest sales volume for any bar in Dublin.
By providing her customers freedom from immediate payment demands, Mary gets no resistance when, at regular intervals, she substantially increases her prices for wine and beer, the most consumed beverages.
Consequently, Mary’s gross sales volume increases massively. A young and dynamic vice-president at the local bank recognises that these customer debts constitute valuable future assets and increases Mary’s borrowing limit. He sees no reason for any undue concern, since he has the debts of the unemployed alcoholics as collateral.
At the bank’s corporate headquarters, expert traders figure a way to make huge commissions, and transform these customer loans into Drink-bonds, Alco-bonds and Puke-bonds. These securities are then bundled and traded on international security markets. Naive investors don’t really understand that the securities being sold to them as AAA secured bonds are really the debts of unemployed alcoholics. Nevertheless, the bond prices continuously climb, and the securities soon become the hottest-selling items for some of the nation’s leading brokerage houses.
One day, even though the bond prices are still climbing, a risk manager at the original local bank decides that the time has come to demand payment on the debts incurred by the drinkers at Mary’s bar. He so informs Mary.
Mary then demands payment from her alcoholic patrons, but being unemployed alcoholics they cannot pay back their drinking debts. Since Mary cannot fulfill her loan obligations she is forced into bankruptcy. The bar closes and the eleven employees lose their jobs.
Financial contagion commences overnight as Drink-bonds, Alco-bonds and Puke-bonds drop in price by 90%. The collapsed bond asset value destroys the banks’ liquidity and prevents it from issuing new loans, thus freezing credit and economic activity in the community.
The suppliers of Mary’s bar had granted her generous payment extensions and had invested their firms’ pension funds in the various Bond securities. They find they are now faced with having to write off her bad debt and with losing over 90% of the presumed value of the bonds. Her wine supplier also claims bankruptcy, closing the doors on a family business that had endured for three generations, her beer supplier is taken over by a competitor, who immediately closes the local plant and lays off 150 workers.
Fortunately though, the bank, the brokerage houses and their respective executives are saved and bailed out by a multi-billion euro no-strings attached cash infusion from their cronies in Government. The funds required for this bailout are obtained by new taxes levied on employed, middle-class, non-drinkers who have never been in Mary’s bar.
Comments on this post are most welcome to perhaps better explain the economics described here – and the motives of those involved – bankers, business people, investment experts… whoever are the key players, as you know or understand the situation. I look forward to hearing from you.