New foreword to Tickle: Digital marketing

Dr Ross Brennan is the author of Business-to-Business Marketing which is the leading international text book on marketing for companies that sell their products and services to other companies. Dr Brennan’s textbook proved to be a key resource while I was researching my new book on social media ‘Tickle: Digital marketing for tech companies‘.

Business to business marketing
Dr Brennan is a co-author of the leading textbook on business to business marketing.

I wrote ‘Tickle: Digital marketing for tech companies’ primarily about B2B companies because they have unique challenges in managing their reputations online and reaching business customers. Dr Ross Brennan was kind enough to write a foreword to the book which has now been included in the latest edition. I’ve also reproduced it here as a guest blog post. Enter Dr Ross Brennan…

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Social media: PR vs. Advertising vs. Design

Advertising, design and public relations all have something useful to contribute to social media. But they come from very different worlds and they each have hidden biases. Customers just experience the end result, but the way a company builds their reputation can be secretly swayed by the type of agencies that a company hires to help out with their social media. Owned, earned and paid media all add up to an overall impression of the brand.

Ad v design v PR
The business model of different agencies influences their approach to social media briefs.

I arrived in London at the height of the global financial crisis. Back then no one was hiring for Brand Strategists because it’s not a good look to do a new logo when you’ve just laid off 10,000 people. And it’s definitely not a good look to do a management workshop about the meaning of life to then choose the colour of the new logo when you’ve just laid off 10,000 people. So brand strategy (and in particular, the management consulting style brand strategy that I was most experienced in) had fallen off a cliff.

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Growth Hacking to sell books

One of my friends in New Zealand is a full on growth hacker. He’s done everything from affiliate marketing and pay-per-click to SEO and Adwords. I asked him for a few secret tricks to help promote my new book Tickle: Digital marketing for tech companies.

Tickle social media book
Marketing a book using social media, blogging and growth hacking.

Growth hacking is the art of taking a practical, technical and analytical ‘hacker’ mindset towards marketing. I was expecting black-hat tricks and dodgy secrets, but his advice was surprisingly common sense. I’ve decided to share his advice here on the blog because so much of it is applicable to general business profile raising. According to this growth hacker, the best way to sell books is to build a professional reputation using good honest thought leadership and contributing value to the community.

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Give your customer a tickle

We are in the middle of the biggest change in business communications since the printing press. The move to mobile email, video calling and social media has made business communications faster and potentially, more personal. When my first boss started his career they used to correspond by post which took a week to arrive. It was a big deal when the firm installed a Telex Machine (like a morse code typewriter) because the message was delivered on the same-day that it was written. It’s now easier than ever before to give an important customer a small tickle to let them know that you’re thinking of them.

Peter Thomson social media book
New book on social media by Peter Thomson

My new book on social media for tech companies is out now. It’s all about how to use social media to target bigger and bigger clients. Too many social media books just cover mass consumer advertising and teach companies how to spam everyone. This book is for successful professionals inside tech companies and other businesses that need to build real relationships with a decision maker before closing the sale.

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Marketing for people who hate marketing

Lots of business people secretly hate marketing. And technical people tend to see marketing as a necessary evil. Developers and engineers are particularly cynical about marketing and design. Personally, I come from a family of engineers who still aren’t quite sure what it is that I do for a living.

Marketing for people that don't like marketing
Marketing is seen as an unnecessary overhead by a lot of business people.

My background in venture capital and management consulting has made me cynical about marketing, but I’ve also learned the hard way just how important marketing can be. Without someone to buy your product, you don’t have a business.

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B2B Social Media Book

Too many social media professionals don’t understand how to market to a cynical business audience. They get lulled into a false sense of security because many B2B (business-to-business) sales look just like B2C (business-to-consumer) sales. After all, we’re all people. But really hardcore B2B marketing (to large, unsexy, enterprise clients) is a whole different ball game. Really serious businesses have long and complex sales-cycles involving multiple decision-makers and even a formal “business case” for your product.

Peter Thomson B2B Book Cover
I’m 2/3 of the way through writing the book and this ‘book proposal’ is a way to get feedback on the direction that it’s going.

A good B2B Social Media Book would have lots practical examples from unsexy industries and be grounded in rigorous business strategy. I’ve been working on the book to bring together the best of the marketing industry’s knowledge on enterprise scale B2B social media.

A lot of the techniques and tricks are simply a digital update of old-school sales tools from companies like IBM, Oracle, Cisco, Siemens and General Electric. B2B social media should be years ahead of B2C, because of the long-standing appreciation of the importance of personal relationships. But it’s not. Continue reading B2B Social Media Book

How to write a business book

I have wanted to write a business book ever since I first picked up Tom Peters’ obscure business classic ‘Liberation Management’ as a teenager. I’ve always loved the overlap between business and creativity. Maybe it’s the seductive idea that business (and life) might just be a little bit better if we could get our institutions to act just a little bit more like people.

Tips on writing a business book
It’s important to find a quiet spot to write.

I’ve been working in branding and social media for long enough now to have accumulated some good war stories. I’ve tried out most of the best social media marketing advice and seen what worked (and what didn’t). I’ve known for a while that I had something to say, but I haven’t been quite sure until now that I ‘had a book in me’.

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Social Video Apps

Video is the most powerful form of storytelling medium in all social media. This month I’ve been experimenting with Social Cam as a publishing medium for short, punchy videos about design, business and social media. Video is powerful because you can tell a narrative and convey emotion. Even as a professional communicator it is still one of the hardest mediums to master but also one of the most authentic.

Social Video
Social Cam is a mobile app that shares video to Facebook and YouTube

Social Cam, Viddy and Supr8 are part of a new trend towards more active video sharing using mobile devices. These apps allow you to shoot short videos in a stylised manner and share them quickly and easily. My camera has become like a mobile toast-masters exercise programme. I can now challenge my communications skills anywhere, any time.

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Owned, earned and paid media

In 2009 Forrester picked up on some discussions in social media circles from people such as David Armano and codified the classification of digital media into owned, earned and paid types of media. This structure makes a classification based on the nature of the media itself rather than the activity that you do on it.

Owned Earned and Paid Social Media
A strategy model is only useful if it helps you solve real world problems.

MEC (part of WPP) see the different types of media in a sequence. First you get the message out with paid, then you feed people content in your owned media, then your story gets spread through earned media. Community management firm Temporo have a great blog post summarising the model. Nick Burcher notes that each of the types of media have an “Always On” aspect and a “Campaign” aspect.

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Social media for lawyers

Have you ever wondered why it’s so hard for lawyers to build an online reputation? Everything is so public. There is a common fear about client confidentiality and not wanting to appear to be touting for business. Social media can seem like a chaotic place and law firms need to maintain a certain gravitas.

Peter Thomson Social Media for Lawyers
Professional service firms still to manage their reputations on social media.

If you don’t take charge and actively manage your identity online then you are just leaving your reputation to chance. I’ve seen too many friends who’s online reputations don’t live up to how good a lawyer they are. This makes me sad.

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