Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Bevelled Edge Hedge and Having a Point of Difference

This morning I walked the children to school. It turned out not to be the most brilliant of my ideas, as I’m consumed by a cold which, having taken hold of my head, is now continuing its assault towards my chest. As I was labouring along on my way home, to lessen my suffering I turned my mind to what was around me and I noticed as I walked along that a number of hedges on this particular street had been trimmed with a bevelled edge finish, and I recognised immediately the “trademark” edging of a particular hedge trimmer in our area.

I knew this was his trademark edge because of a really important thing – he had told me it was.

About three years ago, a man came onto our property and asked if he could trim our hedges. We didn’t know him but he looked like he’d had a really bad day/week/month/year. He offered a heavily discounted rate for cash on the spot. We were on the verge of saying ‘no thanks’ as we had done to other hedge trimmers that had approached us over time, when a curious thing happened.

Mr Hedge Trimmer started to tell us about his work - what an excellent job he would do on our hedges, how ‘his’ hedges carry his trademark bevelled edges and how we would have seen his work in our local area. His whole demeanour changed as he spoke about his work with pride. You could see it in his eyes and hear it in his voice. Even his posture changed.

We changed with him. We said ‘yes’. He did an excellent job – just as he said he would. He trimmed our hedges to perfection, complete with bevelled edges – just as he said he would. Now, as I walk through my local area three years later, I recognise his work – just as he said I would.

Mr Hedge Trimmer did some things really right that all people offering a service or product should be aware of – he took the time to create a point of difference for himself and his business – the bevelled edge hedge –he perfected his craft, producing clearly distinguishable bevelled edge hedges (pretenders beware, I’m not sure how he does it but there are no others quite as good) – and just as important as the act itself, he spoke with pride when telling his customers about his point of difference, with the effect that it wasn’t easily forgotten (not for us anyway).

What sets you apart from others in your business sector? What’s your ‘trademark’ or ‘signature’ piece that is particular to you that others can easily identify? If you haven’t identified a point of difference for your business offering yet – do it – make it real – and tell everyone about it.

Mr Hedge Trimmer reinforced for me another important lesson in business that is too easily and too often overlooked – don’t forget to leave a business card – but that’s another blog entirely.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Jetstar, you should be ashamed of yourself.

It had been a great day Friday. I had spoken at the closing session of the E-Tourism Conference in Wellington; the theme of my presentation was on the importance of communicating to your customer. My experience that evening when attempting to get home via budget airline carrier Jetstar not only defied customer service logic it seemed to challenge the basic fundamentals of human rights.

Disruption of travel is inevitable, aircraft are complicated mechanical things with safety having to take priority, and I get that. As the plane reversed out of the gate, we were confronted with an announcement that there had been a “computer malfunction” that required us to return to the gate.

This was approximately 7:15 in the evening, and to cut a long story short we ended up still standing in the airport at close to midnight attempting to find a solution to accommodation and alternative travel due to our flight being cancelled. The first indication of this cancellation was the sight of our flight crew heading en masse to the exit while we were left standing around in a now empty and closed Wellington terminal. When I asked where they were going one replied “listen for the announcement" without breaking his stride or looking back.

To give Jetstar their due we did eventually get a hotel and a flight out the next evening. What was hard to accept was how this was handled. After standing around for three hours in the hope they could repair the plane we were told that the flight was cancelled. At no point did anyone from Jetstar come and personally address the passengers - all we got was an occasional intercom announcement. We, as passengers, were left to console a girl sobbing her heart out that she was going to miss her connecting flight to Samoa. We foolishly promised her that Jetsar would be sure she was taken care of.

It was about 11pm, while still standing in what seemed to be an endless line of frustrated and tired people, that we saw a real person come along to address us for the first time. He was a representative of the airport apologising for our situation and ensuring we were aware it was Jetstar’s responsibility, not theirs. After numerous complaints about our basic needs he went away and returned with bottled water (at their expense, not Jetstar's as he was quick to point out).

What I can’t understand is why there were not more people to help out. This, so I have since been informed, is a common occurrence with Jetstar. Surely they should have a workable system in place by now? Is being a budget airline also justification for budget resourcing and service?

Why did we have to stand in a line for two hours to get an accommodation chit when someone could have walked the line and done the same thing in 30 minutes? At least visually it would have appeared that they were making an effort? Why did no-one come along and give us reassurance that things would be taken care of? How can any company that deals with people on a daily basis be so blatantly neglectful to the basic needs and comfort of their paying customer?

They left us wondering what was going on while the same crew who had announced on-board at 7pm that they were there to "help" had left to their meals and beds hours earlier.

Maybe I shouldn’t complain, I was informed that people who were booked on the Auckland flight back were simply told the flight was cancelled and to go away with a refund promised.

Now I’ve unloaded can I offer some solutions. Air NZ, so I’m told, on cancellation of a flight will immediately distribute taxi, meal and hotel vouchers before you even get off the plane. This says to the customer “We are looking after you and despite the inconvenience you have options”. If making your valued customers line up for hours and wait to be served by the only two check-in staff available is your thing then communicating to them costs nothing. You could have a team of on-call grumpy old tea ladies that could move up and down the line handing out stale biscuits and cold tea. At the very least customers would have someone to talk to and someone that could tell them that eventually everything will be OK.

It was OK in the end Jetstar, the shuttle driver was very helpful, the hotel staff very understanding – they even held the restaurant open till after midnight so we could eat… but your service sucked! It is embarrassing to think you are allowed to treat humans that way and still call yourself a service provider.

P.S. Jetsar, I did call your helpline to discuss my predicament. I was prompted that you had an unusually large call load and that I could leave my number and my place in the queue would not be lost, you would call me back. I’m still waiting for your call… that was four days ago.

Monday, October 31, 2011

The times they are a changin.

I haven’t abandoned my blog. In fact I’ve been conducting an experiment of sorts in standing back from my social networks and seeing what effect this has on them. I’ve been watching with interest over recent months the significant increase in spam I’ve received on Twitter, the frustrations Facebook has caused many due to an arrogant approach to individual privacy and the confusion with newly emerging platforms like Google Plus competing for its place on the social media stage.

I haven’t lost my passion for this as a business tool, quite the opposite. I am in awe of how fast things are changing and the opportunities expanding networks and improving collaborative tools bring.

The sale of smart phones and tablets has exceeded shipments of desktop and laptop PC’s. Add to this daily time spent in mobile apps surpasses desktop and mobile web consumption and we have even more to consider when we design and develop our customer engagement strategies.

I’m fortunate this week to be speaking at the Hospitality NZ Conference in Christchurch and the E-Tourism Conference in Wellington on the subject of Social Media strategy. This is the third year I've been to the E-Tourism sessions, it'll be interesting to see how things have changed in that time.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Why You Should be Taking LinkedIn More Seriously

I received my first invitation to connect on LinkedIn about five years ago. I did what most of us do when we don’t understand the value or implication of such an offer, I ignored it. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust the source of this invitation; it was just that I was busy and had better things to do with my time. Social Media and online networking in New Zealand were still in their infancy and this it seemed, was just another thing to distract me.

In a paper released in May 2011, B2B Magazine reported that LinkedIn is now regarded as the most important social media platform for Business to Business marketing, well ahead of Facebook, Blogs, and Twitter.  LinkedIn, launched in 2003 and often described as ‘Facebook for Business’, recently exceeded 100 million users. Considerable publicity was generated by the public offering of LinkedIn shares, launched on 20th May, with significant buyer interest. This is all well and good, and it’s nice to see someone getting a payday for their entrepreneurial vision, but what does this mean to you? It means that LinkedIn is here to stay.

As a reader of this Blog you are most likely a professional with a network of colleagues and a portfolio of customers and suppliers, many of them professionals in their own right. We all know from experience to get and maintain our customers we have to connect with them on a regular basis to reaffirm our value and to maintain our place in their purchasing decisions. Traditionally we would do this by attending events hosted by professional organisations, visit trade shows, and attend conferences or other occasions that our customers and suppliers frequent.

When we do meet someone that we consider to be of value we perform the age old ritual of exchanging business cards. Now ask yourself, what do you usually do with these cards? It is most likely they end up in a pile somewhere never to see the light of day again, or are occasionally searched through to rekindle a memory of a conversation had long ago. This is where LinkedIn has the greatest and immediate benefit for you. It does require some investment in time setting up what is basically an online CV of your professional experience; however this small investment of time (think of it as free advertising) gives you access to the powerful “friend of a friend” network and a community of professional introductions, referrals and information sharing for free.

No tool is of any use unless it is used well; compare the value and potential of a hammer to a child and then to a master builder. The more it is used and the more that is learnt about its function, the more valuable it becomes. LinkedIn, like the hammer, has some basic functions that will serve you well and, over time and with experience, many other features that can return an income. To begin with get your profile as complete as possible, and connect with colleagues and peers. As a guide, if you would exchange a business card with the person, then they are a suitable LinkedIn connection.

Don’t get caught up in the numbers game. The size of your network is not important. Genuine relationships developed over time will return the greatest value. Simply by keeping your status updated and making occasional modifications to your profile, the well-constructed LinkedIn updates sent to your connections will subtly keep you visible and accessible.

In time, as your familiarity and confidence increases, you should participate in LinkedIn groups. These are either open or invite only forums where a considerable amount of information exchange can take place. Like any form of networking you have to attend to be seen, offer value to be appreciated, and commit time and energy to get a return on investment. Don’t wait like I did - it’s well worth your time. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

RTONZ Hanmer Springs


RTONZ Hanmer Springs, a set on Flickr.

The Harcourts free walking tour of Hanmer Springs.

With only 60 minutes to experience Hanmer we headed out the door of the Heritage Hanmer Springs and across the road to the local Harcourts Real Estate office. Harley the friendly duty agent was more than happy to give us advice on the local attractions, suggesting the services of a local woman as our tour guide for the Queen Mary Hospital (thus proving that local hospitality is alive and well in the South!). He explained that many years ago as a young girl she had moved here to work as a nurse aide and never left, unfortunately due to the beautiful day she was out mowing her lawn and unavailable, so off we went in the general direction of Queen Mary Hospital to explore it for ourselves.

We checked out the local fashion and cuisine on the way and while Craig rediscovered his love of boating we heard a whisper that John Key was in Hanmer Springs!

So as you can see we were slightly misinformed with it turning out to be Don Key, a celebrity in his own right though in this small village.

We continued on our path to Queen Mary Hospital. Set in lovely big grounds, this hospital was utilised in both world wars for the returned soldiers recovery and in later years it became a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre, closing in 2003 when the government withdrew its funding. The thermal water was famed for its healing properties and no doubt it bought a lot of comfort to many people over the years. Local rumours of haunted buildings didn’t deter us and we continued on our journey, even without our tour guide!

The Hospital grounds are located next to the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools, it was here that we spoke to some very relaxed tourists recently returned from their OE. Taking some time out and enjoying Hanmer before they headed back to reality, they also mentioned the great mountain biking and walking tracks in the area – mental note must do when we return and have more time! Particularly like the local bikes with return to sender details.

Being social media savvy we checked in at the local four square before heading back to the hotel to launch into the remainder of our workshop, amazed at what we had encountered and enjoyed in just 60 minutes wandering in Hanmer Springs.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Socialising Your Event – Using Social Media to Promote, Increase Impact and Reach.

While attending events and experiencing the buzz of the crowd and the interaction with other delegates is the ideal, being at a live conference or event is not always possible due to time or budget constraints. Introducing Social Media into your event allows for much wider audience participation and interactivity.

Often speakers and attendees will have built up a huge online influence and will already be profiling their activity as part of their usual routine. By encouraging their participation in online forums as part of the programme; your potential reach and exposure can expand to hundreds of thousands of individuals and add considerable value to your pre, during and post session value.

Web Connectivity

Factor wireless broadband into your event budget. Let attendees know it is there to connect with their networks and consider some incentive for the most creative comment or the most retweeted post.  Ask attendees to respect the resource by not downloading large or unnecessary files (no one likes a hog that takes advantage of free wireless to download personal stuff like movies). Most, if not all conference venues will have this facility available but bandwidth does cost.


Devices like smartphones and tablets such as iPad are portable and likely to be at events in increasing numbers. Their short battery life will mean attendees will be scrambling for power outlets so be sure to have lots of outlets catered for. A dedicated and secure iPhone charging service during lunch breaks is a nice touch. (a bit like a coat check for the digital age).

Native Twitter users will be posting regular updates as a matter of habit. This will likely include things they are finding interesting (and not so interesting) to engage external networks while sharing information and ideas with other delegates. Incorporating a hashtag in each tweet makes for a powerful information resource for both internal and external participants. Every tweet has the potential to initiate interactive dialogue and capturing ‘gold nuggets’ of information in succinct 140 character updates.


If you don’t know what a hashtag is then you need to, your audience will expect you to provide one. They are basically a string of text/numbers that follow the hash symbol (#). This enables Twitter users to filter content into a search string. No-one owns a hashtag so it pays to use something not already in use. An example of a popularised hashtag is #eqnz which is still used in Twitter conversations about the Christchurch Earthquake.

Be sure to promote your chosen tag early in online and print material related to your event, give regular updates on Twitter using it and be sure it is prominently displayed at the live event.

Visible Tweets

In keeping with the Twitter theme a visual aid to engage more participation is invaluable. Some conferences have a search column in Twitter (use Twitter Search) or Tweetdeck displayed behind the presenter so the audience can see or give real time feedback giving the audience a more interactive role.

Another great resource that is visually captivating is This free web based tool allows you to enter search terms, such as your hashtag, and it will display the tweets in a range of colourful formats.

This of course is not without its risks as it can be impossible to moderate this live feed so there could be negative or mischievous placement of comments.


One advantage of many people using Twitter at the same time and using the same word (such as the hashtag) is that twitter recognises this as a “Trend” and uses various ways to notify other Twitter users of what is popular. An excellent visual tool that you can use to display this to an audience is which graphically displays real-time trending words in a customisable map format.


This global communications phenomenon with 700 million active users should not be ignored. You could have a generic business page or a page set up specifically for the event. Do not confuse this with your profile as this is a separate and more personal forum. 

Encourage event participants to post comments, images, and videos on the wall during and after the event. Keep the page updated as presentations happen so attendees can like or add comments to the appropriate posts.

Geo-Location – Checking In

Growing in popularity as a result of the GPS capable devices such as smartphones and iPads delegates are able to check-in to a venue.

Foursquare is extremely popular in Australasia allowing people to not only check-in but also to upload comments to their Twitter and Facebook accounts announcing their immediate location and activity. The platform allows users to give and receive tips on immediate or nearby points of interest and to see who in their network is in the immediate vicinity.

Facebook Places was recently introduced to New Zealand and offers most of this functionality within its own network and is becoming increasingly popular.

Webinars and live video feeds

Webinars are live web broadcasts. The advantage of a webinars is you can promote well in advance and people are able to register their attendance. We have successfully run events where presenters from other countries have presented live to an audience or a live presenter has broadcast to a live audience with an external audience listening in and watching the same PowerPoint presentation.

Live video casting platforms such as Ustream and means you can cost-effectively make your event live to a global audience using technology as simple as a web connected computer and webcam.

YouTube Channel

Video is a powerful medium. If a picture tells a thousand words then a video displays a thousand pictures. Load segments of video to a dedicated channel on YouTube. Being the second highest used search engine behind Google is reason enough to take this forum seriously. 

Video capture is increasingly easy and affordable with most phones now being video capable. Ask attendees to upload videos and supply you with links so they can be added as ‘Favourites’ on your channel. The key advantage of having your own dedicated YouTube channel is it can be branded and video played in a managed order rather than at random.

Post Event Activity

We are motivated when we leave a good event full of new ideas, new contacts and a new perspective on our own personal and professional challenges. The best time to capture those ideas is as soon as you return home. Writing a report to the board or your superiors is one thing but sharing your ideas with your own networks is rewarding.

Use your social platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to share your immediate thoughts and learning. Ask your network to make comments and give feedback to expand on your thinking. Cement the connections you made during the event by connecting with them on LinkedIn and following their twitter accounts.

One of the most powerful mediums for information capture, design and architecture is the blog, the very forum you are reading this in. Blogs allow us to give more detail than the size restrictive posts offered by Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and are extremely search engine visible. You can embed images and video and place links to external resources that become a permanent record in a personalised information timeline. Blogs allow for comments to be made (and they are always appreciated) and the content to be aggregated into other sites using RSS technology.

Encourage your delegates, speakers and attendees to write a blog post. Most Bloggers are looking for new content to add to their sites so this should not be a big ask. Give them a theme to write on and leave the rest to their own creativity. When they have done it get them to post the links on to your Facebook page and do Twitter updates pointing people to these valuable resources.

It’s all about the content

Be sure to recognise and thank those who took the time to contribute to the resources mentioned above. Do so because they have not only attended your event but have been a valuable participant and contributor to its promotion, its value and its legacy.

If you have any other ways you think could enhance an event, and we know there are many, please add your comments below.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Marketing Lessons Learned From the End of the World

The world didn’t end this weekend as predicted by some, and I’m sure the majority of us are pleased about that. Like most things in life, whether good or bad, right or wrong, there is always a lesson for us to learn.

When it comes to promoting the ‘Rapture’, there was a considerable investment in time and, in the case of last week’s widely speculated event, some costly full page advertisements in national US newspapers. The doomsday merchants were certainly committed; after all, what did they have to lose in putting everything they had into this last minute promotion as if there was no tomorrow?

The cynic in me is left wondering though; did the leaders in this foolhardy venture and emotional exploitation hold back some financial reserves just in case? What made this campaign a success in the respect of the media attention and social conversation, is it fed upon peoples pre-conceived ideas, morbid curiosity and inherent fears.

The lesson we have to take from this, as marketers, is the global reach a story like this can have. When designing our own campaigns these basic human emotions that make a promotion integral to our immediate existence must be considered. All too often we try to introduce new ideas that require a whole new perspective or mind-set and wonder why they get so little traction. Think of the conference presentations that you have been to that got the greatest applause and most positive feedback; that presenter undoubtedly told the audience something they already knew. Thoughts leaders who break new ground and present new thinking are often met with a degree of suspicion and seen as a threat - not always a great strategy when trying to gain the favour of the masses.

There were a large number of people who fundamentally believed that this story of Rapture and the end of the world had some basis in reality. Inherently we all fear that the earth has finality to its existence, even basic science tells us that its demise is ultimately inevitable. Even we cynics wanted to know who was saying this and why, just in case we had missed some important information that supported the back story like a rogue meteorite or a cataclysmic failure in the earth’s crust. The message succeeded in getting our attention - isn’t that what good marketing is all about?

For my money and emotional investment I would rather back those who feed our hopes and dreams rather than prey on peoples fear. When designing your campaign or promotion think first about the day after the end of the world and what you will be remembered for when you represent yourself, your brand, and the investment of those who trust you most.

Monday, May 9, 2011

What is the difference between a Facebook Profile and a Facebook Business Page?

Facebook is now a serious business communications platform. Many of us have, at some stage, had a love hate relationship with this global phenomenon which now boasts in excess of 600 million active users. Reason enough to take this very seriously as a business communications platform.

Recent changes to the administration structure of Facebook have made using business pages easier and more practical. Despite this change, one of the most common queries I still encounter is confusion over the difference between a Facebook Profile and a Facebook Page. This question is usually backed up by a fear of confusing one’s personal life with their business life which is a valid consideration. I’ve written about this before but it’s always good to remind ourselves of this important detail.

Put as simply as possible a profile is for a person (you) and a page is for a business.

Facebook Profile:
This is your personal page, it is how you log on to Facebook. It is here where you connect with your friends, post comments, pictures and the videos that you want to share with your own network. While some serious consideration and attention needs to be given to your privacy settings which dictate who can see your updates, i.e. Friends only, friends of friends, or anyone, for all intents and purposes this is your own personal space. I do however refrain from using the word “private” because Facebook will never be that.

Facebook Business Page:
This is your business persona. Administration access to this page is via your personal Facebook Profile but otherwise it has no relationship or public visibility to your personal information and updates. The recent addition of the “Use Facebook as a Page” link in the “Account” menu means you can do just that. By switching from your personal profile to your business page it allows you to update and administer the page as well as visit other pages, such as clients and associates and “like” their page in this form rather than as your personal profile as required previously.

For those of you who have erroneously or deliberately created a profile as a business, you have breached the terms and conditions of Facebook and risk having the profile permanently removed without warning. I would suggest that you cut your losses, set up a Business Page, notify your existing friends that the new page exists and put things right by removing the profile. Be sure you have a correct administration link to your page because removing all administrators from a page literally orphans it in cyberspace with no way of reconnecting to it again.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What Is An Acceptable Bounce Rate For My Website?

Bounce rates are a good indicator of the impact your site is having on your visitors. An acceptable bounce rate depends on the type of site you have i.e. information or e-commerce.  Anything from 25 to 50% may be quite acceptable, over 50% would probably warrant some effort spent on the site layout, content or structure.

Bounce rate is basically a metric that the website analytics records when a visitor arrives on a page and exits the same page. This could be the result of two things, the visitor is getting the information they came for, or the site having no relevance or interest to them.

Some things to consider that may cause increased bounce rate:

  • Unqualified traffic: If you are running online and offline campaigns to attract visitors to the site and you are not delivering on your promise they may feel duped. This may increase traffic and give some brand exposure but not give a positive experience or outcome.
  • Slow loading pages: Big images and flashy banners take time to load. You only have a few seconds to create an impact before people leave for the next opportunity.
  • Irrelevant landing page : Compelling and uncluttered pages will be more likely to draw visitors in to investigate further.
  • Poor navigation: If your site is confusing to the visitor and the next step and purpose of the site not easily recognisable and actionable then you have blown the chance of keeping their attention.
  • Confused or improper sales message: Like a retail store your website should have its merchandise and pathway to purchase clearly spelled in an easy to read, easy to understand format that gives the visitor confidence and permission to proceed. Lock your merchandise away and that’s where it will stay
The importance of bounce rate

Like any type of metrics the bounce rate is a benchmark that you can use to improve your website performance. Most visitors arrive at the front page and are then directed to various sections of the site. Your bounce rate effectiveness therefore is determined by the goal of the site. If the persons query is answered on the landing page then the higher bounce rate is fine, if the goal is to direct them to a contact or sales page then a high bounce rate is bad.

Many sites tend to have an information oversupply or are out-dated; too many have no real purpose from a user’s perspective because the owners give little real focus to its potential, especially at a time when more people are turning to the Internet for ideas, inspiration and making purchasing decisions.

Bounce rate is only a subjective performance measure. If you have a sudden increase in bounces it may be related to an external influence such as a media profile of your company. Check to see if you have had an increase in overall traffic and benchmark this along with time on site and other metrics to gauge whether your site is performing better or worse. Every time you make changes to landing pages ensure that you note the date to be able to review its impact later. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Facebook Options Fix: Wondering why you are seeing the same people all the time?

Do you get the feeling that you are missing out on updates on your Facebook news feed? Wondering why you are seeing the same people over and over again? You may need to check your options settings to resolve this “issue”.

What is happening is by default Facebook now have your update settings to show “Friends and pages you interact with most”, this means you are not getting updates from some friends and pages you have chosen to friend or follow. It means too, if they are unaware of this, they are also not getting your updates.

The unfortunate effect of this is many people are unaware of this, they have chosen to get your information by liking your business page or friending profile and are blissfully unaware of your updates as a result. You may want to direct them to this post to get this sorted, and you back on their radar again.

Here’s the 3 step fix:

1)  Go to your Facebook “Home” page and select “Most recent” at the upper right of your page.

2)  Click on the drop down menu (the little arrow next to “Most recent”) and select “Edit options”.

3)  Change setting to “all your friends and pages” in the “Show posts from” section and select save.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Ten tips for managing your online persona.

Your online reputation is becoming increasingly important; when anyone wants to find out who you are they will “Google” you.

Whether it’s a prospective client researching your value or a potential employer gauging your suitability, they will make decisions based on what they find, or don’t find. Ask yourself this, am I going to be advantaged or disadvantaged by my digital footprint?

Here are ten things you may want to consider:
  1. Have fun and be yourself. Your online reputation should represent who you are. Think seriously about your own personal values and apply them to everything you do, online and offline.
  2. Nothing online is private or confidential. Keep personal networks as private as possible but remember casual conversations or shared images with friends have the potential to be seen by anyone, anywhere and at any time. Never commit anything to the web that you wouldn't post on a motorway billboard.
  3. The Social Web doesn't differentiate between you and your employer. As you develop your online presence be sure that work life and personal life has a clear delineation. If the lines have the potential to become blurred have a conversation with your employer to get clarification on policies, best practice and expectations.
  4. Respect the opinion of others. You have the right to an opinion but treat people online with the same respect that you would as if it was face to face.
  5. Listen more than you speak. No-one likes a blabber mouth so be sure to pay attention to what others have to say. You never know who is inside your network or what influence they have so adopting a one direction broadcast mentality will prompt people to delete you from their world.
  6. Create lots of relevant and valuable content. Giving is the name of the game, share your knowledge and you will gain the respect and ultimately referral from those you connect with.
  7. It’s not a numbers game. Building your online networks takes time. Choose platforms that suit your personality, industry and interests. Blogs, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn all have differing values and potential. Choose the ones you can commit to and that add value to your existing commitments. Be consistent in your frequency and content theme. It’s not about volume, it’s not about the number of fans or followers, it’s all about genuine and authentic engagement with real people.
  8. Know what is being said about you. Use the tools available to scan the matrix of online conversations. Set Google alerts with your brand or name and use TweetDeck with Twitter searches for your name or notifications for mentions so you can respond promptly to personal references or enquiries.
  9. Don’t buy into the hype. No-one should tell you having an online presence is compulsory. You have to be sure you have a clear understanding of why you are doing this before what you do comes into play. A personal communications strategy plan may be a good investment of your time to begin with. (I know easier said than done)
  10. Integrate Online Marketing into your Business: It’s just a fad, we don’t have time, there’s too much risk, staff will waste time… They said the same about the telephone and email after that and yet they are now integral to modern business communications. Barriers to using social media come from fear, lack of experience, lack of authority or low priority. Don’t try to convert the doubters, find ways to use emerging technology to improve productivity, save time or remove long term issues. Only then will it will make sense to everyone involved making online marketing and communications a valuable tool and giving you the opportunity to make your mark on the World Wide Web.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

It’s a date – taking the frustration out of event scheduling

We’ve all done it, whether it’s a team meeting or trying to hook up for coffee; comparing diaries and agreeing on a mutually acceptable date and time can be a nightmare.

At a recent training session we agreed to do a follow-up web conference. Easy we say, but the reality is one date works for some and not others and so starts the time consuming email-go-round.

A quick Google for “Polling for a date” (Yes getting the list of Russian Bride sites did cross my mind), came up with a forum recommendation of Doodle. One look at this free online tool indicated it was exactly what I needed. All you need to do is set up the event, give a range of dates and times, invite participants via email and wait to see what date gets all the yes votes.

You can opt for a paid version of about US$29/year if you want to lose the Google ad sidebar though the free option seems to have plenty of functionality. If you are using alternative products I would like to hear about them.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Power of the Podcast

On demand video and audio is not new, radio and television stations have been making playback recording available for decades. The only downside of this is the media companies determine what we get to see and hear and when.

As with everything else in the Social Web, technology and broadband have made Podcasting easy and immediate. The smartphones’ built in video and web connectivity gives anyone with something to show or say the ability to capture the moment and share it immediately.

For those feeling a little more adventurous creating a YouTube channel will ensure you can store your recordings as a collection, add to this an iTunes account for those that want to generate exposure or an income from subscriptions and you are well on your way.

From the end users perspective, thanks to iPods and Mp3 Players, downloaded files are portable and can be watched or listened to during commuting times making your information updates convenient and non-invasive in an age of information overload.

If you are a little shy on video perhaps straight audio may be more your thing. Check out AudioBoo as one example of a free web based podcasting service. I created an account and a quick welcome message to try out its features. Record a reply in return, it would be great to hear from you.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Complete Collection of Weekday Domains available for the first and last time.

For what is possibly the last time ever in any Domain Name registry in the world the complete set of Weekday domain names is available for sale.

It would be near impossible today to secure any of the weekday names individually at any of the global registrars. Given the entire set of weekday domains are available is an almost unprecedented opportunity to the right bidder to own an iconic part of internet real estate.

A good top level domain name makes it easy for people to recall and find your website in what is an increasingly crowded space. Getting top-level keyword domain names like or in the case of the New Zealand registry is near impossible because they were all snapped up several years ago. Most have now been incorporated in brands or at very least being used on landing pages to attract the now lucrative Google Adword income.

My early involvement with the internet having assisted hundreds of individuals and businesses into good domain name ownership prompted me to secure some great domains while they were available, this collection being some of them. While the domain eluded me at the time we have been able to secure a short term agreement with its owner to make the list complete and market available.

While it is obviously possible to sell the domains individually the real value lies in the collection for the right project. If they should be divided, like the rest of the world domains they will never be available again as a complete set.

If anyone is interested in discussing the further please contact me directly.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Inspiration through a great message – Online Branding at work

I’m posting this video not because of its use of an iconic musician or because that it was placed in one of the high profile super bowl slots. I’m posting this because I like it. It’s certainly isn’t a destination advertisement for Detroit but it does make me look at Chrysler with a new level of respect.

I like the way that they have used the message that a back to the wall working class city like Detroit can produce a brand that represents quality and the finer things in life. No fancy backdrops, no beautiful models but a message we can all be inspired about and learn from.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Why should Sales People use Social Media?

Sales and Marketing perform very different functions within a business. Marketing is about awareness, brand and long term commitment; marketers are about “feeling the love”. Sales people on the other hand are hunters; they are there for a specific purpose and that it to make a sale, to close the deal and bring in the bucks.

This is an over simplification of the variations and complexity of the sales funnel so making the statement that Social Media is a toolset for the marketers while more traditional media, including the website, is more of a sales tool risks the same inconsideration. Having made this comparison we have to ask ourselves why sales people should bother to use Social Media?

Sales people have been using tried and tested techniques for years to engage and close deals with customers. They perform what is arguably one of the most important functions in the business cycle; in ensuring businesses maintain cash flow. Research indicates that sales teams that use Social Media proactively have a 17% greater win rate, is this enough to convince “traditional” sales people to adopt Social Media. I would hope this should be enough to spark some interest at very least.

I am definitely a convert of the power and potential of Social Media. It does live up to the hype at some level but it is not the answer to all our business needs by any means. If used in conjunction with other tried and tested marketing and communications strategies given its ubiquitous and global reach, it becomes a serious contender for our future client engagement strategies.

Let’s compare some of the more popular platforms with more traditional communications mechanisms:
  1. Twitter: This can be compared to the “Coffee Break” chat with colleagues. Small sound bites of information in an on-going and seemingly random stream of conversations. Much of the chatter is immaterial, sometimes interesting, and occasionally highly relevant. Filter the conversations and engage with those who are either able to assist your needs or be helped by you and it’s a money maker. If you keep at this, and it does take time, Twitter will be less noise and increasingly relevant to you, your interests, and your industry.
  2. Facebook: Compared to the conversation that is Twitter, Facebook shows itself to be the full coloured expression of people’s lives, dreams and hopes. Videos, photos and discussions with friends are there to be shared and displayed for all invited into their worlds. To the older generation (Baby Boomers back) this can be the step too far – after all we know how few real friends we really have and our lives are our business. These fears are valid; many careless Facebookers have become victims of their inability to keep their lives personal and private losing the respect of real friends and the confidence and trust of loved ones.  Lessons have and are being learnt about the rights and wrongs of self-publishing but the enormous network potential of over 600 million active users can’t be ignored. One thing to keep in mind is that the Facebook Profile (You) and the Facebook Business Page are quite separate things. The old saying, “do not mix business with pleasure,” applies here. They should and can be two very separate things.
  3. LinkedIn: This is best compared to the Tradeshow. You go along the meet likeminded folk who have a shared knowledge and interest. I often refer to LinkedIn as the “Grown-ups Facebook”. It is designed for professional networking and ideas exchange. The many groups and forms, some open, many closed, are typically focussed on a specific subject. As a rule of thumb “connect” with anyone you would normally give your business card to.
So what’s the answer, do you use it or not? If I were asked outright for a yes or no answer the answer is yes.

What no-one can do though is make you. You need to “get it” and have a clear strategy or purpose for what you are trying to achieve. This may be simply that you want to have one form of authentic exchange with every one of your major clients each week. It might be to allow your customers an opportunity to learn from your experience by writing regular blog posts that will assist them in their own endeavours. It may be that you can use your highly developed networking skills to introduce customers to others in the industry they should know.

Whatever the approach you take, if it’s genuine, it’s focussed and consistent, it will pay.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Social Media - what does it stand for during a crisis

The recent Christchurch earthquake has impacted us all in some way.  Once we have moved past the inevitable shock and grief we want to do something that can help those in need.

Social Media is taking a front line in communications, being regarded by many as the primary source of up to the minute and accurate information from victims with mobiles to the media searching for stories.

Watching the Twitter and Facebook feeds over the past few days I have been surprised at how respectful and careful the majority of users have been. There is always the risk of misinformation through by far the few occasions seem to be as a result of mistake rather than mischief.

I have used the cloud bookmarking site Delicious to create this referenced site to pages and resources relevant to the Christchurch Earthquake. This includes Accommodation, Transport, Fundraising etc. If you know of any other resources let me know and I will add them.

Friday, February 11, 2011

New Features for Facebook Business Pages

Facebook Pages are evolving and their latest profile update introduced today gives users the ability to physically switch between their personal and business page profiles.

While previously you could be seen only as the business while updating your page (Business Persona) you could only like and comment on other pages as yourself (Personal Persona), this is all about to change.   This change to the way Facebook profiles work means you can now fan other pages as your page giving your own business presence an increased profile.

From a business and promotional perspective this is great news. Many marketers have been hesitant to use Facebook pages for fear that it is linked with their personal profile. While technically this has never been the case, from an external user’s perspective at least, it has been a bit of a barrier for the less experienced user who is rightly protective of their personal privacy and the desire to keep home life and work life separate.

Introduced today and currently in preview mode it goes live officially on March 10th. To get a preview and jump the early upgrade queue just log into your page and take the quick demo tour.

You will receive the following added functionality to help enhance your fan base engagement:

  • Notifications when fans interact with your page or posts
  • A place to showcase photos along the top of your page
  • A news feed for your page
  • The ability to Like and post on other pages as your page
We think this is way overdue but a good move on Facebook’s part. Finally they are taking the role of business pages more seriously reinforcing the idea that there is as much a place for business in social as there is for play.

Go to our Facebook page and let us know what you like and dislike about Facebook pages.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

An Invitation from Magpie Media

Online Marketing-Strategies that Work – Free Online Presentation Tuesday 25th January 2011

On the Tuesday 25th January I am leading a 1-hour online presentation in conjunction with the Corporate Toolbox on the topic of Online Marketing and Creating Strategies That Work, and I want to encourage you to attend.

The presentation is free and, whether you are an evangelist or a doubter of the value of online marketing, I guarantee you will find the content highly relevant to your business.

In today's competitive business environment keeping your customers engaged and you front of mind requires a strong online presence. Online marketing incorporates social media but it is so much more than a couple of posts on Facebook and a few Tweets on Twitter.

You need to consider a wide range of products and platforms to maintain an effective communications and marketing strategy that will result in more engaged customers and referrals that will positively grow your income potential.

In this online presentation we will share with you:

  • How Social Media has impacted on business. 
  • Where online marketing and communications is heading as a result of technology advancements and changing public perception. 
  • What platforms are working and why.
  • Better understand how webinars work and how they are useful for your business.
Everyone that attends this Webinar will receive a copy of the Magpie Media E-book “Online Strategy for Business” which is a no-nonsense easy to apply framework that you can use for your own business.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me, hope you can make it.

When: 9.00am Tuesday 25th January 2011

Where: Online
Register Now:

Kind regards

Craig Garner

Magpie Media
phone 021 777791 (NZ Mobile Phone)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Answer is “What do you want from life”. Do you have the Question?

No matter which way you look at it New Year is a time to reflect on the past. It’s been a year of ups and downs for all of us accentuated by a massive economic recession. Yet despite the challenges I’m sure there have been numerous successes, opportunities and wins for all of us.

You’re probably getting bombarded with messages about goal-setting right now; I make no apology for making my first post for 2011 stereotypical if that the way you see it. Unfortunately unless you understand the principle of achieving goals it becomes a pointless topic. Most of us made the obligatory token resolution … lose weight, spend more time with the family, give up smoking, to be less stressed, the list goes on. There are plenty of statistics that tell us a large majority of people fail to achieve these goals. Why, for a few simple and avoidable reasons.

Goal setting is not the secret of success, achieving them is.

Like most goals we are never committed enough to make them habitual, they are doomed to failure from the outset. If you really want to learn the secret of goal setting pull out the classic by Napolean Hill, “Think and Grow Rich” or the more modern take from Stephen Covey, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” and start applying the rules, they work.

I often refer to these two books because everything else I read seems to be a facsimile of the same message. In no way am I criticising the efforts and messages of others, we need to be constantly reminded and prodded along the way. This in itself is one of the core messages that are presented in the Hill/Covey “Secrets of Success”.

The Secret of Happiness is doing what you want to do.

Our working life consumes the greatest quantity of our quality time, are you happy with what you do? If I was to put you on the spot now and ask “What is it you want most from your life” could you answer? We know that strategic planning for our business is critical; this allows us to have a focussed direction for our business. This being said, how often do we do this for ourselves?

Don’t let others influence your direction; it’s all up to you.

Everyone has a reason why things can’t be done. If they were all correct then nothing would be so get on with it, just be sure it’s what you want to do first. I realise this is all a little cliché, but it has to be said, if nothing else I am doing this to remind me of the same thing as I start a new and more productive business year.

It is fitting I end this with the words of someone who has proven his worth and made something from nothing, Hill says “ Your only limitations are those that you setup in your own mind or those that you permit others to set up for you”.

If you want to read a nice Blog post on why goals don’t work look at this excellent post by my good friend and associate Jits Doolabh from Revonet “Goals and Momentum”.

And here is the man himself Napoleon Hill talks about his meeting with Andrew Carnegie, the meeting that changed his and countless other lives for the better.