Archives/ Monthly Archives/ May 2014

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Social Media: the end of free ain’t that bad

We all want something for nothing. And on the internet we’ve been used to getting it. Facebook is about to change all that, in fact they’ve already started, in case you haven’t noticed. That company page of yours with its 1,000 likes? Guess what, you only reach 150 of them with any given post. And watch that soon become 100 … 50 … and finally ‘facebook zero’, as Shenda Loughnane of iProspect was telling us this month at the eircom Spider Workshop.

Organic reach is being chipped away all the time. The days of being able to communicate free of charge with that community you sweated blood building up (mostly through irrelevant competitions, remember?) are numbered.

Sounds terrible, but when the sense of indignation subsides, what will it mean? An end to a whole lot of inane messages, I am hoping. Companies will surely think first before wasting their spend informing me it’s Friday or encouraging me to Keep Calm for some reason. God, they might even develop a content strategy. Nothing like a bill to focus the mind.

Sorry to say it, but I quite fancy the thought that those fiends at facebook might extend their mercenary drive to personal pages too, because here the inanity is at its peak. “I’m at such and such airport” or “can’t wait till the weekend.” Call me callous, but anything that might put a stop to such dross is welcome.

It will, of course, be interesting to see how facebook survives such a fundamental transformation. As the online newspaper business has taught us, it’s hard to wean people off free. Will the change usher in more pay models, or will facebook simply be usurped by the next no-cost alternative?


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Smart way to capture a fox

Ok, I’m hardly impartial, having just scooped Gold in the An Post Smart Marketing awards in the Mansion House this month, but I am pretty impressed with the branding around these gongs. As I write, a fox sits proudly atop my filing cabinet, imperiously overseeing all that goes on in the office. I can’t imagine a trophy attracting more comment, and the association is an apposite one: no, not cute, not sly, but smart. It’s a very contemporary value that just about everyone in marketing aspires to, especially in these cost-conscious times.

Winners were quickly talking about claiming ‘several foxes’, and that’s a measure of how easy it is to identify with this gong compared to your typically anonymous trophy. Watch this gather traction in the years to come. And well done to the guys at Designyard.

And since you’re asking, how does one capture a fox? In our case, by using the An Post smart new Admailer tool, which allows for cost-and time-efficient dispatch of direct mail to residents or businesses within a geographical area that can be marked out using an online pencil. It worked for Fort Motor Group in attracting corporate customers to a business evening, and so the fox was ours.

Now, anyone know how to hold on to a fox??


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Pints, PR and the power of endorsement

The difference between PR and advertising? It’s a question anyone in the trade is used to hearing, and we all have a stock response. But earlier this week it was nice to hear the distinction come directly from the customer’s mouth.

The scene was Techbrew, an occasional meet-up – in a pub – of tech and software companies in Dublin under the auspices of IBEC and the Irish Software Association. It’s a relaxed Thursday night get-together with just the right mix of pints, finger food and invigorating discussions from young and not so young tech companies recounting their tales of the ups and downs of entrepreneurship.

You can’t but be impressed by the drive and energy of entrepreneurs out there. Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say, and it applies readily to some of the firms on show. One speaker was telling us how, balking at the cost of exhibiting at the  key trade show for his sector in Amsterdam, he decided to take out a suite in the nearest hotel – just 500m away – and try to lure attendees from the show (via a fleet of courtesy cars) to a demo area they had set up there. That was bold ambush marketing, and it worked. They were booked out all week and saved about €75,000 in exhibition costs.

Just as interesting was the emphasis he placed on endorsements for B2B start-ups. Had he known the value of testimonials from the outset, he says, he would have gladly traded 40% of year one income in return for a major client’s agreement to shout about how good a job he was doing for them. Endorsements from industry leaders are clearly a rapid springboard to market acceptance.

Which brings me to PR, of which our speaker was an advocate. When you think about it, PR represents an endorsement in much the same way: a journalist, presumably knowledgeable and respected in the sector, has opted to devote space to your brand in recognition of its importance. Anyone can buy an advertisement, but editorial coverage says that what you are doing is deemed worthy of being brought to others’ attention. The more prestigious the media title, the more valuable the endorsement.

PR is an underutilised asset in the B2B communications mix. But, remember, it can’t be bought, it has to be earned. As was said at Techbrew, don’t look for it unless you have a story to tell, because without a story there is no news, and news is the fuel for the editorial endorsement that can set your business apart from the crowd.

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