Category Archives: Business

Marketing Meeting Charter

Meetings can end up taking so much of your ‘working’ day. So, if you are involved in any kind of meeting you need to ensure that you get real value from it. I personally like the acronym N.A.T.O, which stands for “No Action Talking Only”. NATOs should be avoided at all costs.

Here are some top tips from my corporate survival days to ensure they were as productive as possible.

1. Have an agenda

  • Objectives need to be stated along with overall intent for the meeting – Information / Action / Decision
  • It is within your rights to decline the meeting if a clear agenda is not supplied
  • Pre-reads are sent out 24 hours in advance if necessary/possible
  • Meeting organiser is responsible for the agenda and is to chair if not otherwise stated
  • A minute taker should also be agreed at the beginning and minutes captured and shared as quickly as possible afterwards
  • Meeting will start promptly, in case of emergency non-attendance by the chair / organiser – deputy will start the meeting
  • 5 minutes at the end of every meeting for general feedback on meeting success/outcomes/attendance needs
  • Actions need to be shared/sent out promptly following the meeting
  • Location needs to be distributed 24 hours prior to the meeting so you can plan getting there on time

2. Meeting timings

  • Meetings should be no longer than necessary
  • Any meetings of an hour or longer should end 5 minutes before the allotted hour so everyone is able to make their next meeting on time/prep
  • To help everyone ensure any last minute items are tackled ahead of the weekend and necessary prep is made for the following week it is proposed that Friday’s will be meeting free
  • Meetings may move,  but commitment needs to be made not to move them unnecessarily
  • Meeting organisers to cancel/reschedule 24 hours in advance if they are unable to attend
  • Don’t accept meetings you are unable to attend – 24 hours’ notice also required
  • Conference calls will remain open for dial in within 10 minutes of the start time unless otherwise stated

3. Use of Laptops/tablets/phablets and phones

  • No typing in meetings, laptops are used but only to demonstrate / show something – or for the person who is writing up the actions

Additional thoughts

  • Lunchtime meetings are to be avoided where possible!
  • If they have to happen – at least provide lunch OR give permission for attendees to bring theirs

These guidelines should help. If you ever get any resistance, always ask them to quickly calculate how much it has cost to have all those people in that meeting room and what was the value of the meeting. e.g. 5 execs, 2 managers and a director could cost about £200 to £500 per hour. And, an all day meeting can get very expensive and de-moralising!

Changing face of getting attention

This video presentation is of David Meerman Scott talking about the changing face of gaining attention. A subject-matter after my own heart.

Planning is good but being responsive is definitely the way to punch above your weight. Seize the opportunity, remove your own [self-inflicted] constraints. Being responsive is state of mind and those who are able to react quickly are going to be winners and one good idea will be bigger than a large financial play.

How to manage your time

Over the years the pace of work has picked up. With emails, meeting, phone calls, dual-screening, open plan offices, remote teams, instant messengers, video conferene, flatter hierachies and requests coming in from above, below and from your peers. How do you organise your time.

Well, for those who know me, I love models. Here is my model I mentally use to triage my working (and personal) life.

Time Management model

My time management model

I would you to use this model and I bet it changes your working life!

How companies are using social media to attract customers directly and indirectly

The power of social media is getting well documented and speculated on in terms of customer acquisition and retention. Both directly by those involved, and the large influence your friends and family have over what you see in your social media and search engines results pages.

Eli Pariser in his TED talk explains how not to get trapped in a filter bubble. These first crude algorithms by the powerful platforms, which could be [in the short-term] quite self-fulfilling. That you only get shown what they think, or you have said you have been interested in: to the exclusion of other content.
So, many companies are quite rightly trying to attract audiences and get into people’s flows.

Queensland tourist board, back in 2009 ran “The Best Job In The World” to huge success, effectively starting the genre of competitions to raise a company’s profile. There have been a number of competitions in 2013 alone, some with success and some not so much. Ones that spring to mind include. First Choice, a TUI company has been running their “Want to Be a Slide Tester?” inside a Facebook app. Havana Club, the rum company is offering the chance to win a gap year, and the biggest one I have seen to date is My Destination, an online travel resource with their “Biggest Baddest Bucket List”. Their winner chooses at least 25 destinations, and must visit all 6 continents, over 6 months all expenses paid.

Maybe these companies have got it. Social media is an effective inbound channel that doesn’t respect brand heritage. It’s fun. It’s current. It also has the advantage of being relatively cheaper than global TV and if you get it right, you can win big. And if by magic, if you or your friends engage, you will see their work in the future in your personalised SERPs and social flows.

Just a thought for a Wednesday.

The Power of Online Marketing presentation 5th March 2013

On the 5th March 2013 I was invited over to Ennis in County Clare hosted by My Destination Country Clare and in association with the Ennis Chamber. I was invited over to talk about the power of online marketing and to tailor the presentation to talk to about practical things local businesses can do with SEO and Social media. I also threw in some stats about how powerful Virtual Tours, Videos and other quality content for your users and your rankings alike.

Take a look and let me know what you think.

When we arrived and arranged the conference room there were lots of big foamex mounted pics, mostly for the toddler group, but some strange circus marketing posters. I took the picture below to be an [admittedly arrogant] sign of things to come. How was it going to fail after seeing this?

Say no more....

Say no more….

Management is like a pivot table

Today’s thought is that management is like a “pivot table”.

If you are smart, you do thinking, documents and data ONCE and then display and share the information in many different views.

Examples

  • You may need to do a high level exec summary = you give the answer
  • You need to do a high level summary to peers = you show the summed answers and the final answer
  • You need to share with a working group/committee = you share the work book with only the important columns and totals shows to give confidence that you can work out the answer
  • You need to prove you know how to work the answer = you share all hidden tabs, raw data and formulas

Thought for the day. Sometimes works like this.

Who are your stakeholders and how to plan a project

If you work for a small company with many interested parties with blurred demarcations of reponsibiliies through to a massive PLC, you will have a similar experience in successfully delivering a project.

Your project may be relatively straight forward or could be very complex choosing who to involve and choosing who not to can be the difference between a project being adopted by your business or it failing.

So, choosing who to involve can become a political nightmare!

Should you include them based on

  • Hierararchy,
  • Expert status,
  • Customer/Supplier rep or expert, or
  • Peer / Good practice / team mate who doesn’t want to be left out

One useful technical is to do “Stakeholder mapping”.

In this progress you should group them in the classic RACI model and then decide how to involve, inform or use their talents. And once you documented this, if anyone disagrees you have a paper trail of decisions and who was already involved!

The RACI model

RESPONSIBLE…..”R”

“The Doer”

The “doer” is the individual(s) who actually complete the task. The “doer” Is responsible for action/implementation. Responsibility can be shared. The degree of responsibility is determined by the individual with the “A”.

These can be named people or teams that take on the responsibility for delivering the tasks, auditing, feasibility studies, providing recommendations and advice.

ACCOUNTABLE…..”A”

“The Buck Stops Here”

The accountable person is the individual who is ultimately answerable for the activity or decision. This includes “yes” or “no” authority and veto power. Only one “A” can be assigned to an action.

This could also be called the “project sponsor”. This is typically the highest ranking job title in the room. Commonly a Director or in a big travel company a VP.

CONSULT…”C”

“In the Loop”

The consult role is individual(s) (typically subject matter experts) to be consulted prior to a final decision or action. This is a predetermined need for two-way communication. Input from the designated position is required.

This is an important role. This is commonly where us SEOs sit. We are there to lay out choices, to validate decisions and steer the solution to either having a positive SEO impact (even if not a classic SEO project) or at least providing no detrimental harm to your SEO stategies. Other classic people here are Solution Architects and Ecommerce directors.

INFORM…..”I”

“Keep in the Picture”

This is individual (s) who needs to be informed after a decision or action is taken. They may be required to take action as a result of the outcome. It is a one-way communication.

This can classically be the people who are on the weekly/monthly email round up. These maybe your other peers who you informing out of courtesy, the wider team or even other business units.

Communication styles

Depending on the type scales and longevity of the project how you choose to communicate. These methods can overlap.

R’s

– Little and often via email and face to face. If you  work in the same location this is easier to handle. Suggest that at least weekly 1-2-1′s are useful and ask them to document their steps, notes and status’ against them. This can, if appropriate form part of of your regular written communications.

A’s

– Face to face is normally best. Mixed with the written communications to all. If they can veto your project/recemmendations, it is always good to have them onboard all the way through .

C’s

– Normally you would organise this on a bespoke basis. This will very much depend on the topic and the complexity.

I’s

– Classically a weekly or monthly email depending on the scale and complexity of your project.

It is always good to ensure that you offer more contact to those who may legitimately or no previously known are realy R’s, A’s or C’s.

Talkonomics

The other day in a conversation about social media, its influence and is it worth measuring. As part of that conversation the collective came up with the term “Talkonomics”. So here is my attempt at a definition.

Talkonomics” – the study and measurement of conversations in social media.

And in a business context you could add,

Talkonomics” – the study and measurement of engagements (mentions and interactions) with groups or brands.

What do you think? Any other definitions?

Onwards and Upwards – jumping from the frying pan to a new fire!

Hotels.com

Bye bye

Today is my last day working for Expedia Inc for the Hotels.com brand. As of Monday I am taking up a larger all in-compassing search marketing role for the Thomas Cook Group.

I know that a fair few colleagues and some of my team read my blog – so I guess this is a public thank you for your hard work, your support, your creativity, loyalty and some of you, your crazyness that has made us all laugh when we had tough times to navigate through.

I am very fortunate to move from one massive OTA to another. Each have their own challenges and opportunities (and sure frustrations). I will miss Hotels.com and other EI businesses, both here in London and around the globe.

It is a bit of a strange time to leave, but you have to jump when an opportunity presents itself.

Especially after some massive projects, the hey-day/honeymoon period has only just started. But I am a sucker for punishment and moving to a ‘start-up’ in ecommerce for a massive household brand.

In the last couple of years there have been some big SEO topics to plough through and I can say I am proud of many of the my personal and the teams achievements. Here are just a couple of highlights.

  • Trying to demystify SEO to the wider business
  • Installing a fact & evidence based approach to SEO, plus some funky dashboard reports
  • Tidying up the legacy & sometimes accidentally piecemeal evolution of >10yr old on-line business
  • Many wholesale organisations changes, to survive and grow from
  • Institutionalising SEO into every possible aspect of the business
  • To get the technology down the gym (and to a single platform), to tone it up. Plus some re-hab after lopping off gangrenous limbs
  • To make the IA work as hard as it can to leverage a mature and well loved domain name
  • A real domain strategy, as the public front end to a truely global business. As part of this and in SEO terms, one of the biggest risks of >75 domain migrations
  • But, my toughest challenge….. to get a PR team to understand what a real link is. You know who you are ! :-)

I have learnt a lot here and even made some good friends here. So, with some regrets I say Goodbye to some smart, clever and passionate people. But I know that as of Monday I will be working with a new set of dynamic and focused crowd.

If you are a new colleague, watch out as of Monday !

Hello TC

Hello TC

Online reputation management

Does your reputation need a life-line?

Does your reputation need a life-line?

How to make your companies reputation management plan – online version.

Now some of this will depend on your industry and I don’t claim to be an expert in everything, well almost everything ! This post is meant to be a generic plan, a list of ideas or activities that you could consider in making your plan ready, sharing with all that need to be aware of it.

Why you might need a reputation plan?

The scenario you are likely to be in if you need an online reputation plan is normally not a good one. This may be your making (and you may deserve it?) or it may be through no fault of your own. But you should be ready with a plan that you or a number of people can turn on very quickly.

What might you be able to control?

The idea of this plan is to take control of the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). This will allow you or your company to try and control what people fine who are looking for you. This is definitely not a fall-proof plan by any means. And depending on the topic you may actually want to stay quiet. But if you are informed and have a plan, then you have a choice to act or not to act.

A couple of simple current examples could the recent ash cloud from Iceland that has messed around with people travel and holidays. Through to natural disaster or pandemics e.g. earthquakes and swine flu.

Generic objectives

  • To provide emergency information
  • To surpress bad or damaging online content

The planning

You should take stock of all the digital assets and resources you could have in your arsenal.

These could commonly be:

  • Press Releases ready, with a hungry PR team/agency
  • PPC creatives – maybe to swithc from sales to customer service/advice
  • SEO page(s) with the appropriate key messages
  • Digital assets of images, video and the like

How to flood the SERPs and “own the page”?.

First of all check out the search demand in KW research tools, the autosuggest in Google and trending topics – to see if you the need to do anything. It might be a storm in your own office !! But if people and journalists are going to be searching for you or your company by name/brand you can try to flood the results.

In the modern Google world, with the latest QDF (Query Deserves Freshness) the blended results could contain a variety of media.

Leverage existing assets

  • TV ads online e.g. in YouTube or Vimeo. This could also be interview or TV appearance clips

Social media marketing

  • Facebook page – make updates and spark conversation
  • LinkedIn groups – as above
  • Twitter – get your own accounts working, support your other initiatives and spark others to RT or talk about you. If you trend, these will appear in the one box
  • Wikipedia – always shows on Information searches
  • Forum answering, Q&A – if appropriate, get involved
  • Guest post, get your big guns and names out

Sales and marketing channels

  • Get a lot of mentions on pages and social by releasing coupons and amazing deals

Normal comms and PR

  • If comments are out there – answer them and provide your side of the story (if you are right)
  • Use your PR teams to get you everywhere legitimately
  • Send our old, but ‘evergreen’ PRs, through all levels of distribution services, even through article and SEO ‘pr’ hubs
  • Bait journalists with more juicy stories / “distract them”

Paid activities

  • PPC/SEM with as many ‘sitelinks’ as you can buy to push the results down the page
  • Buy business directories

Leveraging your size & network

  • Get your name on your sister site companies, suppliers and friends. Make them also rank for your company name
  • Get your employees who blog to write

The outcome

The aim is to push the bad press down. This will only work if the opposition don’t go on a big hunt as they may be very motivated and may play nasty.

If you are trying to diseeminate information to help people this too can effective as sometimes if you don’t act, your reputation may suffer too.

If you know your position and you judge you can win, then you can make an informed choice.