Freelancers: Do at least 2 of these 3 things to keep getting hired.

According to Neil Gaiman, you need 2 of the following 3 things if you are to be hired regularly as a freewlancer:

1. Be a pleasure to work with

2. Produce good work

3. Always deliver on time

“People keep working, in a freelance world, and more and more of today’s world is freelance, because their work is good, and because they are easy to get along with, and because they deliver the work on time. And you don’t even need all three. Two out of three is fine. People will tolerate how unpleasant you are if your work is good and you deliver it on time. They’ll forgive the lateness of the work if it’s good, and if they like you. And you don’t have to be as good as the others if you’re on time and it’s always a pleasure to hear from you.”

Which in a diagram looks something like this:

 

Of course, doing all three makes you a star performer. But make sure you nail at least two and you’ll keep working at least.

ps I highly advise you watch the speech Mr Gaiman gives – it’s excellent.

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Gesturing to the future of interaction design.

Leap Motion might be the most amazing tech thing I have seen in… maybe forever?

In their own words:

“Leap represents an entirely new way to interact with your computers. It’s more accurate than a mouse, as reliable as a keyboard and more sensitive than a touchscreen. For the first time, you can control a computer in three dimensions with your natural hand and finger movements.

This isn’t a game system that roughly maps your hand movements. The Leap technology is 200 times more accurate than anything else on the market — at any price point. Just about the size of a flash drive, the Leap can distinguish your individual fingers and track your movements down to a 1/100th of a millimeter.

This is like day one of the mouse. Except, no one needs an instruction manual for their hands.”

It apparently plugs into a computer and just works. It’s available this year and will only cost 70 dollars. Amazeballs.

The possibilities for stunning new experiences and interaction designs just seem infinite. Considering the video above is just a demo, I cannot help but get excited: once this thing is given to the public (this year, only 70 USD!) then the crowd is going to create things that will blow our minds. Guaranteed.

And it makes me glad I work for an agency who can think of creative ways this could be used. We’ve got a couple of ideas already…

Hat tip @Blether.

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The POSSE media model

It’s been a few years since I posted the original Own, Bought and Earned media model and the slightly updated version a little while later.

Although it is still a good way to think through your media options, it does feel as though the model is a bit too simple nowadays.

So I have come up with a new one, called the POSSE media model. I’ll explain it below the diagram:

The POSSE media model is built on two basic levels of activity: to produce and distribute content. The better you do these two things (and the more it is based on listening and understanding your audience) the more media exposure you will earn.

Produce content. Can be classed as Owned and/or Social

  • Owned

This is the media you have (more-or-less) complete control over, e.g. a corporate web-site, or a retail store.

  • Social

This refers to branded social media presence such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo. Social platforms that give you a chance to build a presence as a brand. Note that you do not have much control over these in terms of functionality, and the terms of the service can change at any point. (Steve Sponder calls this Borrowed media, which makes sense but I think overstates the transience of these networks. Also I think Social works as a term for now at least, as it is widely understood by people).

  • Overlap of Social + Owned

This is at least two things:

1. Brand-generated platforms or communities specifically designed for customers to co-create and collaborate with brands. (e.g. Dell’s IdeaStorm and Starbuck’s MyStarbucksIdea.) (what Brian Solis calls “Shared” media)

2. Own content such as videos that are the fuel for a brand’s social channels. You do have complete control over the format of your own video (within reason) but the video ultimately boosts other media owners’ site visits. They may also place ads before or after your content without asking your permissions, for example.

Distribute content: can be classified as Paid and/or Seeded

  • Paid

Media placements that you have paid for. Think SEM, banners, sponsorships. It can also be “traditional” media placements such as TV, Print, Outdoor. Paid media is still important, especially if you want a lot of people to see a fairly consistent message about you.

  • Seeded

This is referring to seeding of content among “influencers”. PR agencies, or WOM agencies like 1000heads, can help to build these relationships, identifying who to speak to and how to persuade them to feature your content. Sometimes these will be the people with the biggest reach, but often those people are deluged with requests. So instead, the seeding often happens with brand advocates, people who are genuinely fans of your product or service, or at least people who have shown a previous interest in products like yours in the past. This helps with the credibility and authenticity of their post(s).

  • Overlap of Paid + Seeded

This is where I would put things such as sponsored stories on Facebook, or Twitter’s promoted products, both of which cost money and are based on advertising to people’s social graph. It is interesting that social-media agencies are the ones who are picking up on this, whereas traditional media agencies are struggling with it. “Paid seeding” is also possible using partners such as GoViral who have a network of video sites, or by paying YouTube to feature your video to its users to give it an initial push and get it noticed.

If you do all of the above well, you get some “Earned Media”

This is people posting and talking about your product and its advertising. If you do things well with your own media, choose and manage your social presences wisely, seed to the right people at the right time, and perhaps pay to get noticed by more people, then you should hopefully earn media too. It will give your content extra push (distribution), and you will have earned it so these will be considered the most authentic voices of all. But you cannot guaranteed the message at all, so a lot of what is distributed may be unrelated to your intended communications. Really, positive earned media is a measure of how interesting your content is and how well you distributed it.

Why “POSSE”?

Well, acronyms are always cool, aren’t they?

But in this case, it serves a second purpose. New media techniques such as these are about people, and they need skilled people to make them happen. You can’t have one person spending a load on one advert and expect it to succeed like it used to. Instead, you need to hire many people, with new and diverse skills: editorial content, community management, search engine optimization, blogger relationship management, UX experts, etc etc. In other words, you can’t fix this problem by throwing money at it; to succeed in this new media landscape, you need the right kind of POSSE.

Credits.

- This thinking was hugely influenced by the original Nokia digital posse (you know who you are), plus lots of people who commented online and in person about my original post.
- Brian Solis, who’s Brandsphere is very smart and taught me a lot, but maybe a little complicated for me.
- Steve Sponder, who made the excellent PONBE model which clearly influenced this model.

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Lovely Spam

“Excellent web site. A lot of useful information here. I’m sending it to several friends ans also sharing in delicious. And of course, thanks for your sweat!”

“you may have an amazing blog right here! would you wish to make some invite posts on my weblog?”

“Nice post, thanks. Can you tell me about the third paragraph in more detail?”

“Hi my friend! I want to say that this article is amazing, nice written and include almost all vital infos. I’d like to see more posts like this”

Am I the only one tempted to let through some of the comments that get caught in my spam queue? They’re so damn *nice*

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The 5 simple steps for coming up with good ideas

I suspect that whatever business you are in, one of your tasks is to think of new ideas. In the advertising business, it is basically the only thing we are tasked to do.

Over 100 years ago, a man called James Webb Young started his career in advertising. He went on to be one of the most successful ad men of his time, setting the scene for the modern ad business. A few years after he retired, he wrote a very short book, which sums up the basic steps of creative thinking. The steps really haven’t changed, even in our digital age.

The 5 steps are as follows.

1. Gather information

You need to spend time gathering information which may be useful to answering the problem. Young explains that you should collect specific and more general information about the issue you are working on. You need to look at information directly related to your client’s business, plus competitor and industry analysis too. You also really should talk to people who are likely to be interested in the product or service. At 358 we also spend time talking to people who represent extremes of behaviour – people who obsess over the product and people who never use the product – to understand the motivations involved.

2. Think hard about the infomation

Go over and over the material, thinking really hard from multiple angles. Chew on it. It is important that the information is fully digested. Try to think of solutions and ideas. Your ideas and connections will probably suck, but keep writing them down and working your brain hard. Look for connections in the data. At some point it will feel like you are going round in circles, and will never be able to piece all of this together.

3. Rest your brain

This is important. You will stay at stage 2 if you do not make the effort to so something else. At least work on something else, at best truly relax by doing something you enjoy. David Ogilvy talks about “going for a long walk, or taking a hot bath, or drinking half a pint of claret”  Forget about the problem and just like Sherlock Holmes, abruptly drop the case mid-way through and go to a concert. You need to do this to unhook your rational thought process.

4. Let the idea come to you.

This is the Eureka moment, which in Archimedes case came when he was relaxing in a bath. Don’t let it slide past. Write down the idea immediately. Be ready for it.

5. Craft the idea

The initial idea is likely to need work. So now is the time to craft the idea, think about the practicalities, and work out how it might really work in practice. Test the idea thoroughly with trusted colleagues and be ready to adapt. Get rid of the bits that aren’t working, and don’t be precious. It is really important that you are open to criticism to make the idea the best it can be.

That’s it. These steps may seem obvious, but it is amazing how often people think they can skip one of the steps, either not working hard enough at the information phases, or not giving their brains time to relax so that their unconscious mind can help to solve the problem in a creative way.

Of course, knowing the steps is one thing – but being committed enough, creative enough, and having a stimulating yet critical enough environment is what will actually make the difference between coming up with decent ideas and truly brilliant ones.

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Don’t call it a comeback

It’s been a while. Here’s what has been happening:

1. I left Nokia
There are so many reasons for this, so this really requires a separate post. But suffice to say, after over 7 years at the company, I decided I needed to do something new. And, ultimately, I wanted to see my daughters every day. See this photo to understand why.

2. I joined an ad agency
Actually, it’s more of a idea factory, which sounds a bit wanky but is a much better description of what 358 does. With guys from IDEO, industrial designers, and a whole bunch of people who don’t want to just make the same old ads, it’s a really interesting place to be right now. I’m a strategist, but we are aim to be T-shaped.

3. We bought a new apartment in central Helsinki
Big decision to move to the centre of the city with our two daughters, but we feel like they are going to have an awesome life there. We are probably going to go without a car, which will also be interesting. ps the apartment is lovely. Photos to come.

4. We survived one of the longest winters ever
It’s still snowing in Helsinki. Hopefully we’ll just skip spring now and go straight to summer.

5. My thoughts about marketing techniques have changed quite a lot
I used to think that “traditional” marketing was past its sell-by date; now – after reading lots – I think that it all depends on what you want to achieve. But, the truth is, “engagement” is actually not very useful for most brands, who should instead be concentrating on getting more people to consider their brand. Much more on this to come.

6. I got a bit obsessed with the idea of minimalism
I’ve been reading a lot about this, and plan on implementing the thoughts into my life. From food to cars to clothes, I will aim to simplify. The best thing about this is it fills you with a kind of calm, knowing that the things you need in life are actually quite simple and not expensive. I have a strong feeling that this particular obsession is going to lead to some more profound changes in my life, but for now it has at least given me a feeling of calm and reminded me that I am so lucky to already have the things I have in life.

Lots to share. Look forward to the conversations!

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Quality time, not quantity of time.

Time spent on site” is a classic digital marketing Key Performance Indicator, but it is usually a poor measure of marketing effectiveness.

A while back, I was responsible for the European digital marketing for Nokia’s Nseries. We initially had an Nseries web-site for every major European language. A decision was made to reduce the languages to just English, Spanish and Chinese, to make things more efficient. As proof of the success of this strategy, it was pointed out that Italians were now spending more time on the new site then when they had their own language version; I pointed out that they might be spending more time on the site because they can’t understand it as well, and they are therefore taking longer to find what they are looking for….

So, for web-sites, ‘success rates’ and ‘customer satisfaction’ seem far better measures of success than ‘time spent’ and ‘dwell time’.

Similarly for other branded experiences, what is important is that value is provided, not that brands take up more and more of people’s valuable time. In fact, there are many situations where the value is actually in reducing the time spent with a brand, leaving people with more time for other (more important) things.

Save people time and effort, and you will be appreciated much more than those needy attention-junkies you are competing with.

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Create value and the profits will come.

According to the classic economic theory, the social responsibility of business is to create profits. But if making profit is your only reason to be in business and guides all your decisions then – ironically – you are not likely to create a very profitable business.

Profits are one Key Performance Indicator, which, in association with other parts of a decent balanced scorecard of measurements, show you that the approach you are taking is working. Profits are the natural by-product of a successful strategy.

But if you focus on the profit itself, then you are going to think short-term. You are going to make decisions that harm your customer relationships because they are inherently selfish. You will never build anything resembling loyalty; the goodwill that makes your business more valuable than its basic assets (ask an accountant for proof) will never grow.

Instead business is about value creation. The ultimate questions are: how can we create more value for the customer, and how much is that worth to them?

Social Media can be a useful tool in building value and relationships. But it can also just become a cost of doing business, an additional marketing channel, which doesn’t really provide any additional value to your customers.

Similarly retail environments can be just a place to close the deal, a final funnel to fulfil all that built-up demand. Or they can be places that focus on building value and relationships, where people flock to not only buy at the lowest price, but to feel informed and involved and *valued*.

So keep an eye on your profits, but make decisions based on how you can increase the tangible and intangible value you provide your customers. Your brand will thrive, your share price and profits will grow, and your customers will thank you.

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Social Media and Competitive Advantage

I have said before that you don’t need a social media strategy, you need a strategy. Social Media is one possible way to create the value that is needed to have a competitive business.

Chris Kirubi, Chairman of Coca Cola Nairobi, agrees with me: “You don’t need a social media strategy – You need a brand strategy that leverages social media. Don’t get off the brand strategy just because there’s a new communications channel, that’s how you lose the plot as a brand. Technology is the tail, not the dog.”

Fundamentally, business still primarily exist to make profit, and they still need a strategy that defines how they intend to do that. Their strategy should essentially rest on how they create value in a difficult-to-copy way.

30 years ago, Michael Porter wrote about the three ways to achieve Competitive Advantage: cost leadership, differentiation, and focus. 11 years later, he simplified this further, saying: “Competitive advantage can be divided into two basic types: lower costs than rivals, or the ability to differentiate and command a premium price that exceeds the extra costs of doing so. Any superior performing firm has achieved one type of advantage, the other or both”

When considering a Social Media program, maybe we should analyse it in terms of these three strategic pillars:

Cost Leadership

Social Media is one way to achieve cost savings and operational excellence. Twitter can be a cheaper way to service customers. Even better would be building an army of advocates who like nothing more than to answer your questions in social spaces for you, which is a more scalable solution.

The cost of marketing can also be reduced using social media, as you can earn media. A Facebook message that reaches a million people can be a more cost-effective way to get a message out than buying media. (Although note that earning media has less guarantees than buying media, so a healthy combination is optimal.)

Differentiation

I think it is possible to use Social Media to augment your product offering, and actually provide a better experience for your customers. Chris Brogan calls it Guest Experience Design. Whether this be solving people’s problems via Twitter and thereby reducing churn, or providing useful well-timed info to customers so that they make the most out of the product, the key is using social media to actually increase value to your customer. This should lead to higher sales, or possibly to the ability to charge a price premium.

Focus

This is where Social Media is at its best. Here you build a community , a metaphorical bonfire, to which you can get close and serve better than anyone else; some people have defined this as Customer Intimacy.

The important thing here is that you have the right people at your bonfire i.e. the people who are likely to buy more of your product. Fiskars did this brilliantly with their scapbooking community The Fiskateers.

But, in my opinion, this is why Pepsi Refresh Everything has not increased sales: although it gathered millions of “likes”, the community it was building had no interest in soft drinks; in fact this charity-concious group may have been less likely than most to buy sugary drinks. So build a community, but make sure it is one that will want your product.

Of course, you can also focus on a community who’s only common objective is to buy your product. The special offers provided by the likes of @Delloutlet are effective: in simple terms, if you deliver good, bespoke offers via a channel such as Twitter, you will get followers, clicks, and (most importantly) sales. Just as you would if they were on an email list. Note that there is nothing particularly “social” about this use of social media!

Question to ask yourself

If your social media program is not helping you achieve one of these three competitive advantages, then perhaps it’s time to question whether you really need it.

After all, Apple is doing just fine without a Twitter channel.

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Social media doesn’t change the basics of marketing

There’s a lot of talk on the web about Pepsi Refresh, saying that social media is failing, or at least that it’s not the marketing panacea that some had suggested.

Certainly Pepsi spent a lot of money and this has not led to more short-term sales. But if Pepsi Refresh was a “failure”, it is interesting to me that Coca cola is increasing its focus and spend on social media and measuring expressions not just impressions.

My thoughts are that maybe Pepsi got it wrong because what they did had nothing to do with why people buy their product. Coca-cola remember that buying cola is about frivolity, pop culture, escapism – it’s a low-involvement purchase, a bit of fun in your day; Pepsi tried to turn the discussion to altogether more serious issues, albeit while retaining a colourful façade on their web-site.

So, especially when it comes to social campaigns, social doesn’t change the basics of marketing. It makes it even more important to be interesting or entertaining to get your message spread through earned media, but the message that consumers spread still needs to be effective in driving your business forward, by increasing people’s propensity to actually purchase your products.

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