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The Very Average Side of Vine

The Very Average Side of Vine

A little while ago I added a post on here talking all about Vine - the 6 second social media site from Twitter. In it I added 6 rather impressive Vines to give you an overview of the best of the site...

But there was an issue. They were the best; a unique collection of stunning videos that you could watch over an over.

But for the rest of the stuff on there. Well, it's just not very good. So, this is all about the distinctly average face of Vine. I find that the rest of Vine is banal, rude, crude or just plain unfunny. Or some off the videos are just so off the wall you end up re-watching them again and again just to try and understand why they exist.

Case in point - this makes no sense to me, but somehow racks up over 80k views in less than 2 hours.

UK Viners

Aside from the painful banality of it all the other issue with Vine is that the site is overly American. There's nothing wrong with that in itself but the sheer number of American Vines easily out-popularizes everything that British Viners (or advertisers) could hope to achieve if they're looking for that next viral hit.

And that's assuming British Viners are any good. The British has an outstanding comedic heritage which although off the wall, has entertained millions of us throughout the generations. Although Vine's 6 second rule is one which you'd expect slapstick comedy to make a potential comeback, the modern Vine comedian just falls flat on his face.  

You can tell the overall popularity of Vine and the average sense of humour by taking a look at his video from the 'Vine Meetup' which happened at Trafalgar Square at the end of May 2014. I repeat, it's rude and crude so if you're easily offended then don't watch the video and read the passage from Vice's weekend round up here.

The reason I'm focusing on the 'celebrities' is because they are the ones with the legions of followers who can bring in big bucks for themselves or the advertisers who collaborate with them. Because let's face it, if advertisers want to achieve great things on Vine, you need a celebrity as you can't actively pay to endorse your Vine in the same way as a promoted tweet or sponsored post.

Instead...

The below Vine from US based Batdad advertising Tidepods received 16.5k likes, 2,790 Re-vines, 330 Comments, and 1.2 million views. That's easily a good investment from the company.

So, now you've seen both sides of the spectrum should you be using Vine, on a social level - or for your business?

Well, if you have a spare half an hour to fill then yes by all means - it's far more entertaining than anything daytime TV can offer. If you want to use it to promote your business and your US based then possibly, but if you're in the UK you might be better off elsewhere. 

Below is a few vines from UK companies; those with big budgets and content teams to engage the population. Have they achieved a massive viral hit? Think again. The largest following of those mentioned below is ASOS with 25.6k followers. This is remarkably small compared with their respective Twitter and Facebook followings. (708k Followers & 3.3 million respectively.)

But, nonetheless here's a selection below of some British companies doing their best on Vine.

Next: 1,824 Followers.

ASOS: 25.2k Followers

Bacardi UK: 486 Followers

Dogs Trust: 4,141 Followers

Dove: 4,299 Followers

So hopefully it might give you a few ideas for your campaigns. Want do you think? Should you bother investing in Vine? Stick your comments by pressing the message button below.

No Pain, No Gain? Marketing for Personal Trainers

No Pain, No Gain? Marketing for Personal Trainers

The UK Fitness sector was valued at £3.92 billion in 2013. It grew an additional 4% since 2009. That's 2009 the year we were thrown into recession - impressive eh? 

The boom in the fitness industry seems to have taken place across virtually every part of the fitness landscape. From the growth in new gyms, the explosion in the UK supplement market or the growth in outdoor exercise classes (everything from Park Run to Toughmudder) it's certainly a lucrative market to be in. The thing is though is that all of these businesses need business and in an increasingly saturated market, it pays to stand out. 

As it's such a colossal area to approach in a single post, I'm going to narrow it down and focus just on personal trainers, the elite band of fitness professionals who can give you complete diet and exercise spreadsheet, all whilst performing crunches on a swiss ball without breaking a sweat. 

So here's five tips which should make your personal training businesses more effective.

Find a Niche

Now there are plenty of different trainers out there all offering different services tailored to multiple different audiences; from the extreme bodybuilders and cross fitters to those who haven't exercised in years getting healthy again.

Finding and sticking to a client base that offers just one of those specialisms I think will help set you apart. Don't offer everything to everyone. You'll have less competition from other PT's and if you're super specialist will be able to charge more for your services.

The Personal in PT

When you work with any of your clients, ensure you start with a before photo and track their progress. Although it's for the clients benefit, having these 'transformation' images works wonders in promoting your business.

Alongside getting testimonials from successful clients, these hold massive power when they're actively promoted on your website and social media channels.

People rely on stories - and personal ones at that. If you can demonstrate to potential clients that people just like them managed to achieve these results, you've already accomplished half the battle in converting a customer into a paying client.

Zero in with local SEO

Most PT's have websites and paying for SEO can both be a time consuming and expensive affair. But when it comes to local seo all PT's can do this one step themselves: 

In its simplest terms local SEO is simply adding a 'business+location' into Google. So 'physiotherapist in Leeds' 'gyms in Cheltenham' - you get the idea. On most occasions Google will present you will your regular search results plus 4-5 location results of nearby businesses with a map that match your results. 

How do you think those businesses got on the map? Just sign up with Google My Business here to get started for free. There's a fair bit more to it than that to make your listing really shine, so if you're interested contact me to discuss it.

If you have a listing and your competition doesn't means that for every time someone searches for a local result then you have the advantage over your competitors.

Go Above and Beyond

Remember that saying there's only 24 hours in a day. Well, it really holds true. If you charge £25/hour but in-between everything else only manage 7 hours a day 5 days a week the most you could EVER hope to earn would be £875. By charging out your time per hour there will always be a ceiling on what you can earn. 

The answer in breaking this barrier is to develop tools and resources that you can sell on. Whether it's a free guide, exercise videos of merchandise for your personal brand it can all be making money for you continuously without little investment.

Instead of training someone for an hour on a field, why not turn it into a YouTube video. It's by no means going to give you an overnight source of free money, but if it gets successful? Then you can bring in revenue simply by leaving it to run.

Business Networking

If someone signs up for a few sessions with you it's likely they're going to need to buy more than just your time if they're going to achieve their goals.

Whether it's specific foods, supplements or just some more clothing it pays to network with the suppliers of these to see if they can offer you either trade discounts; or can give you a commission for their sales.

Not only does it help your client who might not know where to buy certain items, it provides you with both a potential source of extra income through reselling and acts as a useful networking tool with suppliers who can help your businesses development.

What do you think? It would be good to hear from other personal trainers about ways to they've used to promote their businesses. Just add your comments on below- 


If you made it down this far and want to read more then why not check out my post on the month where I qualified as a fitness instructor!

Image credit to Pete Bellis | cc

The Aussie Rules of Destination Marketing

The Aussie Rules of Destination Marketing

If you don't know already I live in Devon. It's an awesome part of the world but I often find myself thinking about the marketing that gets done to promote the region to the wider world. The destination marketing often centres the staple messages of beaches, moors and cream teas galore. All very well and good you might say, but could this message be better packaged?

Well, if you want the complete destination marketing experience, take a look at South Australia. Yes, it is an area which is over 10k miles (as the crow flies) from Devonshire but it's an area which does a truly outstanding job at creatively promoting itself. 

Thumbs Up to Down Under

Sydney and Melbourne. The two cities which you can almost guarantee any Brit that heads down under will be visiting. As amazing as these cities are, the bright lights of these two places seems to suck tourists away from many of the other extraordinary places which Australia has to offer the budding tourist.

But what about Adelaide for example? The 5th largest city in Australia and the capital of the southern region boasts a population of 1.2 million people, but could you place it on a map? 

If you Google the city you'll see that people have finally begun to twig that it's not all about the Sydney and Melbourne. It's been voted one of the world's Top 10 Cities by Lonely Planet for 2014 and in their words it's 'Like a perfectly cellared red, this effortlessly chic city is ready to be uncorked and sampled'.

With it's stunning coastline, vineyards, culture and countryside plus all manner of amazing animals (wallabies, kangaroos, wombats to name a few) there are plenty of reasons to visit. It reminds me of Devon, with better weather. It's not as though South Australia's assets have just appeared from nowhere; but one of the reasons for the upsurge of interest is their very cool destination marketing competitions which have offered some pretty incredible prizes. 

The Best Job in the World

Looking back to 2009 the state of Queensland ran the 'Best Job in the World' competition. This offered one very lucky winner a chance to spend 6 months living in a luxury villa, exploring and publicising the region to the wider world. Oh and there was a salary of AU$150,000 dollars. 

The biggest winner though was Queensland itself. The competition generated over 35,000 applications from over 200 countries. Each applicant was required to enter a compelling video, and so you had 35k pieces of content right there to spread the message. Not to mention the social media activity, word of mouth and general publicity surrounding the campaign. And that's even before the winner, Ben Southall, touched down in Australia. All in all it generated $70 million in publicity, by spending only US$1m. That's a good ROI.

The Best Job in the World - Take 2

Tourism Australia capitalised on the model. Over the start of 2013 it launched a new competition involving the state tourism organisations and created 6 diverse jobs across 6 different states to attract young tourists to Oz. Take a look at the original campaign video:

Whether you wanted to be 'Chief Funster' in New South Wales, or an 'Outback Adventurer' in the Northern Territories, the campaign was another major success. It attracted 612,000 entries from 339,000 people in 196 countries. Big numbers indeed. You can read more about the campaign here. 

Not only did the initial competition draw in massive worldwide publicity, the successful candidates were then able to spread the message further by documenting their adventures on their own personal blogs and social media pages. 

One of the guys I've been following is Greg Snell, who won the position of 'Wildlife Caretaker' in South Australia. With over 4.5k Facebook likes, 1,800 Twitter followers and 6.5k Instagram followers, Greg has been showcasing the exceptional landscapes and animals that SA has to offer. It looks amazing and if you want to see what he's been up to then have a watch of this video:

With each of the 'Best Job in the World' winners doing this sort of thing in their respective regions, Tourism Australia has truly had some great influencers to promote the country. Since running the competition australia.com saw a 234% year on year increase in traffic in March 2013, and a futher 130,000 people opted in to receive more information from Tourism Australia. There are a whole host of other impressive stats if you watch the video on this page here.

Mentor Me

So, heading back to Adelaide the South Australian tourism department has decided to remodel and relaunch the competition once again for 2014; this time called the 'Mentor Me' campaign.

Aimed at the 18-30 demographic, 8, 1 month long paid internships were on offer covering everything from roles as diverse as 'Assistant Shark Scientist' to an 'Exhibition Intern' at the Art Gallery of South Australia.

Run in conjunction with STA Travel, it again looks like it's been a hugely successful campaign. With the winners starting their roles in September they will soon be sharing their experiences with the rest of the world. What they get up to exactly, you'll just have to wait and see. 

All in all though, it's easy to see why Adelaide along with the rest of Australia is firmly putting itself centre stage as an ideal destination. 

Back in Devon

Back in the rolling hills of Devon I can understand that the West Country doesn't have quite the same appeal as heading to Australia. But the campaigns that were run there did get me thinking. Could something like this not be launched to promote the West Country? 

There are a whole array of roles which could be promoted to give the region a boost. Everything from people the surf scene to moorland rangers, artistic interns in St. Ives or working with some of our top chefs. Not only would the initial competition generate publicity it gives the area winners who become dedicated ambassadors for the region. 

If you know of any other fantastic tourism campaigns that really make you want to grab a suitcase and fly away then stick your thoughts in a comment below. 


Image credit to Chris Samuel | cc

Marketing Specialist or Marketing Generalist?

Marketing Specialist or Marketing Generalist?

Finally, in the last post in the 'marketing agencies and me' series, this time it's focusing on all the important question - is it better to be a marketing specialist or a generalist?

A Jack of all trades

First and foremost I am a generalist. Email, social, content marketing, website management, PPC and so on; I've done them all. I certainly have a few core strengths that stand out above others, but I am in no way a specialist in just one of those fields. I guess the closest thing I am is to the T-shaped Marketer which Rand Fishkin from Moz discusses in his blog here.

This seems to have become a bit of a problem though when it comes to applying for agency roles. Why? Because agencies can afford to higher specialists. Instead of having 10 staff that can do everything an agency can afford to bring in people who are at the top of the specialism. Unfortunately for me, they're the roles which I just don't fit into.

On the occasions that I have had interviews where my skills have been enough to potentially fill a specific role, the question comes back to me; do I want to jettison all my other skills for this? Will my knowledge of email marketing ever be used in a technical SEO role? Not likely. And so for any specialist job I'd have to say goodbye to so many different skills I've picked up over the last 4 years making a specialist agency role less appealing. Plus, it's a fast moving game. If I was to pick up those skills in 2-3 years time they would be next to useless as the world of digital moves rapidly onwards.

So, that's why an agency role doesn't seem like it would be right for me...but you know what? I'm ok with that.

I like being a generalist because you can spot the patterns. I like having the variety of using different tools, learning varied skills, meeting new people. All in all I like seeing the big picture and being at the centre of things; so a generalist is where I shall remain.

It also allows for longer term flexibility. As the online world continues to evolve at an almost alarming rate, choosing a specialism that exists now means you're in a role which may have a very short shelf life. (There's a great article here about anyone considering a career in social media for example). Although you can evolve, I'd rather have the ability to move with the times naturally, rather being forced to keep up with current trends in order to still have a job.

But where to go from here? 

There are three potential paths. I could carry on freelancing in a different location. Or I could work as a marketing manager in a client side role. Or oddly looking through the job boards there are often agencies which need a marketing manager to manage the agencies marketing. So I may be able to work in an agency after all...

We shall see and I'll keep you posted.

I would love to know what other marketing folk think of this. Specialist or generalist - which do you prefer?


Modern Marketing and Antiquated Interviews

Modern Marketing and Antiquated Interviews

Following on as the next part in my series of posts on marketing agencies and me, this time it's the actual interviews in the spotlight. Why? because the interviews I've been involved with seem massively disconnected with their own companies, and seem massively disconnected with the 21st Century.

Ever seen a company which runs an advert like this?

"Hi, we're a cutting-edge, dynamic, exciting, disruptive, full-service organisation changing the face of our industry. We're growth hackers looking for highly motivated digital superstars to join our thriving and vibrant team.........."

And the list of hyperbolic buzzwords goes on. You visit their website and its the same thing. It's quirky, creative and everything you'd expect from a business hoping to emulate Facebook. If your business is genuinely like this, and I mean really like this; if every fibre of your company is tailored towards these aspirations then congratulations. But in many cases when you get through the doors into an interview it just seems like a lot of bluff.

You get to the interview, sit down to start talking and get asked...

  • Where do you see yourself in five years time?

  • What would you say are your biggest weaknesses?

  • Can you give me five words that your friends would use to describe you?

What I cannot fathom is that these very same organisations who are genuinely hoping to change the landscape of their industries still rely on such drab, uninspiring and antiquated interview questions. I'm sure the answer is that they are tried and tested questions which can effectively evaluate a candidate, but frankly it don't seem to provide you or me with a chance to get to know the other.

Remember that those first impressions count. If you can't produce a forward thinking recruitment process, then how forward thinking are you in the rest of your business?

It reminded me on the excellent LinkedIn post on stupid interview questions. So, why don't the above questions work?

5 Years Time

In 5 years time I have no idea where I see myself. But I do know one thing, I'll be doing a job which I find fun, engaging and something that keeps developing my skills. The last 5 years of the UK recession have shown that no-one, and I mean no-one, can forecast the future; especially in the digital sector.

Head back 5 years into 2009. Would you have foreseen Instagram? Pinterest? Snapchat? Google+? Google Glass? Hell even One Direction? 

The world was a very different place 5 years ago, and it will be a very different place again in 2019. So, trying to see where I'm going to end up is frankly a fruitless task.

Weaknesses

By asking about weaknesses it's automatically inferring that something needs improving. Why? I'm not good at a lot of things, I'm also great at some things. This whole question has become so stale and so repetitive, Do you honestly think I don't have a preprepared answer? Is it going to be an honest appraisal of my inner failings? I'd rather focus on what I was good at and if I do have a weakness that might affect my work, you should be able to pick it up without having to directly ask about it.

Descriptions from friends

I'm different when I'm with my friends. I'm different when I'm at work. I'm different when I'm shopping, on holiday, driving. People aren't the same people all the time. What my friends see of me is probably far different from how I work, I don't think any of them have ever seen me at work anyway. So, if I answered truthfully, those answers are irrelevant to my job. And don't you think I've got a pre-prepared list of adjectives ready to list off anyway?

Instead...

I'd much prefer to talk about what you think of the latest algorithm updates to Google, the current state of social in the markets you're targeting, or what your content strategy is. What am I currently reading up on? What's your favourite email marketing software?

Some of things I've discussed in really useful and engaging interviews have been:

  • The advantages of TAGFEE at Moz.

  • The uses of connecting Mailchimp and Twitter for advertising.

  • The need for responsive web design in tourism providers websites.

  • Creating relevancy in content marketing.

This isn't to say get rid of all questions and just make it an informal chat. I'm happy to tell you about successes and failures, campaigns and clients but the same stagnant questions just take up valuable time, giving you little in the way of useful information. Even throw in some curveball questions, just something - anything which means you're not regurgitating the same interview questions that have been asked for decades.

Taking on a new employee is a big commitment from both sides - but in this day and age there are much better ways to do that than leaving in these sort of questions.


What I look for in a marketing agency

What I look for in a marketing agency

As part of my 'marketing agencies and me' series this post is dedicated to what I look for when it comes to assessing an agency. So far been through over 80 agency websites so it's only fair I fill you in on the criteria that I've been using to asses them. Why? Because you might be a tiny bit curious and also because it's how I imagine many prospective clients will judge them before making first contact. 

Stage 1: The Technical

Do you have the following:

  • A modern, well designed website with clear navigation?

  • A unique custom made website to sell your business?

  • A responsive site?

  • A good backlink profile with respectable Pagerank?

Why I'm looking at these: If you're an digital agency your website needs to be at the top of your game. The technical elements show me you know your trade whether it's web design, or SEO etc and running a backlink analysis leads me easily into new items, projects or anything else to see what you've been up to. 

Stage 2: The Content

Do you have the following:

  • Compelling, easy to understand web copy?

  • Active social media accounts that are regularly updated with content that is crafted specifically for each channel?

  • A well crafted blog that provides relevant and unique information.

Why I'm looking at these: The content should show your style, whether it's professional or a little more laid back, I'd expect the way you present yourselves online to be the same when I meet you face to face, and if there is a difference, then why? On the social front, it's good to know what you're up to day-to-day and see how you engage with others. Are you chatty and engaging, or just using sites to stuff your news to an unreceptive audience? Finally, a special note on the blog. Too many agencies just regurgitate industry news making them indistinguishable from every other agency doing the same thing. A compelling blog that people read because it offers something different shows me that you have a strategy and you have a voice of your own.

Stage 3: The People

Do you have the following:

  • A decent about page which shows the names, roles and skills of your staff?

  • An 'about us' section explaining your companies culture, policies and values?

  • LinkedIn profiles of your key staff?

Why I'm looking at these: I like to know who I'm going to be work both on a social level, but also so I know what kinds of skills and experiences a team has to see if we complement one another. Have they been with the business long? How often do they change roles?  If you want to see a truly great example of seeing the people in a company have a look at Periscopix.

Stage 4: The Recruitment

Do you have the following:

  • A clear area where you advertise jobs?

  • A message saying you accept speculative CV's?

Why I'm looking at these: Simply, it saves me time trying to see if you have a vacancy and if not, it's nice to know your receptive enough to have a copy of my CV. If I'm not quite right I could be a good contact for future networking, so why not? If you want an excellent example then check out Pixillion.

Sometimes I'll admit this isn't a full proof plan. Often there are businesses which tick the majority of these items and look amazing, and they're anything but. Whereas on occasions amazing businesses can be hidden behind distinctly mediocre websites. It is however a fine starting point for getting to know you; whether I'm looking for a job, or looking at you as a potential client.


Graduates: Getting on the marketing ladder without a marketing degree

Graduates: Getting on the marketing ladder without a marketing degree

I've recently been going through a series of interviews with a whole host of marketing agencies. The first question they tend to ask me is ‘So, you did a degree in Archaeology..” and after a minute of explaining that I don’t dig up dinosaurs the conversation moves on in a more serious discussion about skills and experiences. While I'm talking though the thought playing at the back of my mind is -hell, is that really all my degree has become? A conversation starter? 

So does a non-marketing degree still have any relevance in the marketing industry?

I graduated in 2009 with a degree in Archaeology and History. Although my knowledge of micromorphology and England’s medieval economy hasn't come in any direct use (yet), I’ve come to realise that there are those magical things which come out of your degree….transferable skills.

Yes, that awful phrase does actually count for something, even if it’s indirectly help in the long term. If I was going to speak to undergrads today I’d say that humanities graduates actually have a great skill set for doing marketing. We're great at doing research, analysing large quantities of information, presenting it, writing and thinking about things from a whole series of different angles. So, those skills which helped you write that essay on historiography do actually have an application when it comes to writing a marketing plan, or building a campaign.

But if you really want to get into the world of digital, there’s one fantastic piece of news…

There’s no one formal route into the industry. You can do a lot to help yourself, but ultimately there isn’t a set course, of X years of study which is going to get you into a marketing job. Showing a passion and having experience are the two things which count. With skills based interviews being the way forwards having those times when you ran a successful campaign, or tracked a mailshot etc are crucial for showing an employer you can do the job.

Gaining experience on the side and using those wonderful transferable skills should definitely put you in good stead for once you graduate. The best bit with learning about marketing is that as it's all online you can do it whenever you want, and, you don’t have to spend much money doing it.

The golden rule is experiment! Do something, hell do anything where you can see results. What works, what doesn't? What could be improved? Set up a test website or campaign, play around with it, experiment! Even if it’s abject failure you will have learnt something from it.

So, when it comes to gaining that experience here’s my advice:

Find the skills you're good at:

When it comes to digital there are a huge number of areas when you can choose to specialise. You might decide you want to keep it general, but at least by exploring the different options you’ll know what does and doesn't work for you. Some even general marketing jobs tend to have an emphasis on a couple of certain areas, so a marketing assistant job might focus 80% of their time on email, 10% on reporting and 10% social. If you hate email, then it’s best you know beforehand you end up signing your life away in an unfulfilling marketing role.

The core areas of digital which you should explore are:

Get experienced in social

Just because you’re on Facebook doesn’t give you social media experience. I’ve touched on this before, but if you use Twitter, and *love all things* social, does not give you experience - only enthusiasm. 

Set up your own page, learn about Insights, advertising options, and how to craft content as a provider not a consumer. Look at the differences between B2B and B2C markets, and keep a track of how things like Edgerank are changing the social landscape.

Build a website

Have a stab at building one. Seriously, it’s good fun and a great learning curve. If you want to make a site for yourself to act as a portfolio then that can work well. From playing with fonts, transferring domain names or editing the HTML, they’re all good skills which any digital marketer needs to know. You probably won’t be the one building the sites for clients, but understanding the ins and outs when talking to the technical team means you can understand one another more easily.

Network

If it’s coming up to graduation and your serious about working for a company then start making in-roads. Follow them on Twitter to see what they get up to. Find the key figures who do the hiring and firing on LinkedIn. Just knowing the general landscape of the marketing industry, who to work for and who to avoid can save you a lot of hassle in the long run.

If you can, actually get away from the computer and network with people face to face. Whether they’re business networking events, or friendly socials, it’s great to meet people face-to-face, and if your much more likely to be remembered if a job or opportunity comes up in the future (assuming you make a good impression that is). 

Find a niche

Quite self-explanatory but finding a niche area of marketing will keep you interested when things seem dull. There are plenty of topics out there whether its marketing for hotels, fitness or luxury cars to name a few, you can find something that appeals.

The specialist knowledge you can in that field might not be entirely relevant to the job you end up doing, but there is always ideas and practices that can be translated from one sector or marketing to another.

So what happens if your degree gets nothing more than a mention in an interview? Actually it doesn't really matter. What matters is that it's given me the skills, albeit indirectly at times, that massively help towards gaining experience, which in turn has helped in all areas of my life, not just my career.


Image credit to John Walker | cc

 

Marketing Agencies and Me

Marketing Agencies and Me

Over the last few months I’ve been investing a lot of time into searching out, delving deep and chatting to a whole host of marketing agencies from Bristol, Exeter and beyond.

As you may or may not know, I’ve been looking at the prospect of re-entering the world of full time employment. 

Going through what agencies are out there has been a lot of fun and has got me thinking about a whole host of different angles, issues and questions. So the time has come for the grand write up. This certainly isn’t going to be an exposé into agencies that I’ve come across but rather a series of opinion pieces which cover different aspects of what is involved if you’re looking to work in an agency environment.

Just click the links to read each one:

I'm really interested in what people think about these issues, so please feel free to add a comment, or drop me a line with your thoughts.