Tag Archives: relationships

Can You Handle the Truth about Event Marketing and Engagement?


Straight up, here’s the truth – using events as part of your marketing activity is the real engagement that people need and want.

In this post, after initially discussing event marketing, we are going to look at ways to evaluate third party event sponsorship. Thereafter we will provide our usual section on marketing tips and timesavers. This time, the tips are focused on event planners.

We totally subscribe to the fact that we have all become more connected than ever and that the volume of communication has risen.  We would also agree that, to most smartphone owners, connecting online has become as normal as talking to a neighbour across the fence.

What we’d like to suggest, however, is that the value of that communication has decreased. This is mainly because brands appear to be focussing on the channels / tools more than the audience. And anyway, in reality, an online relationship isn’t always reciprocal.

If you look at it from a business point of view – we have staff working in digital marketing, we have community managers, content marketing, online publications and many more methods of communicating with prospects. The trouble is, as we see it, brands are in danger of losing sight of what they are trying to do – which is to make a person feel important.

After all, it is these people that are the lifeblood of our businesses. With our constant analysis, projections, ROI and margins sometimes the human touch gets lost in it all.

Get back to the future by using event marketing to talk to people

Look at this another way – how do we engage with our friends? Well, I for one prefer to talk to them face-to-face. We usually enjoy similar interests but still appreciate each other, if not. Basically, we have trust and we help each other out.

Now we know that a brand is not going to have such a close relationship. Surely, though, it should, at least, try to create an authentic and relevant interaction about whatever it is the customer is using / buying. An excellent place for such interaction is at an event. What people don’t want is for irrelevant brands to interrupt or waste their valuable time.

Since the dawn of time, marketers have known that it is emotions that drive action so I guess we need to go back to the future here. Being real and talking to people through event marketing allow brands to have a better chance of moving people from being watchers and listeners to doers.

At an event, people get to meet the real you, your people and the brand’s personality. We don’t believe that relationships can be based on online impressions, likes, click-thru’s and web traffic. True relationships are action based and as such are about reciprocal bonding – just like in the old days of the local shopkeeper.
Even our friends at www.twitter.com have realised this by recently removing their ‘share counters’ and changing the favourite button to a heart button.

We would argue that the driver of engagement is not online activity but real-life experience. Certainly engaging in relevant conversations online can help nurture relationships. However, by facilitating participation, that allows people to come into real contact with your brand, is how you ensure people will remember you / your business.

Just observe the attendees of any sports event, theatre production etc. what do you see? Emotion – that’s what. It is only by sharing these emotional experiences with them will you truly engage with people and manifest your brand in the real world.

Evaluating 3rd party event sponsorships

In a previous life as Head of Sponsorship in AIB Bank, my constant battle was with our finance people about sponsoring unplanned for, third party events (i.e. not your own hospitality). These would have been outside of my initial budget. They could have ranged from exhibitions at trade shows to large sports activities and small student events.

The most important part of my arsenal was the research element undertaken before I approached them.

Of course, there can be many reasons why a business might sponsor a specific third party event and there are too many to cover here. Suffice to say, though, whatever the reason a business gets involved in an event it must always be based on advancing an overall business objective – in a measurable way.

From a sponsors point of view, here are some items to address in your proposal to the CFO (or to ask yourself, if a business owner).

  • Stick to the details – does the timing and location ‘fit’ with your other marketing activity? How large an audience will there be and does the activity and theme ‘fit’ with your brand message? Don’t engage in deficit funding i.e. absorb the risk from the event owner. Are there other sponsors (are they complementary) and is there a hierarchy (gold/ silver etc.)?
  • Look at the people involved – are the event owners ready and able for a professional sponsorship? Can they deliver on their promises and your objectives? Is the promised audience actually going to turn up? Look at audience demographics from previous events, what level of leads might they be, (executive vs manager)? Can the event add value for your internal audience in any way?
  • Determine what value you will get – Speaking or customer engagement opportunities, lead generation, branding basics, outside-the-box promotional opportunities, digital visibility opportunities, content creation or savings from an advertising budget. How will the audience / customer benefit from your sponsorship involvement? Make sure you include a figure for activation – depending on the type of event start-off with a €1:€1buget.
  • Measurement – measure by cost per 1,000 attendees not media value, how many new customers / leads? include digital analytics if available and summarise with the overall impact the sponsorship should have on business growth.

Here is a very good article based on recent research, from marketingprofs.com, which proves that businesses are using events to reach customers. For example, “nearly three-quarters (73%) of respondents say events are one of the better sales and marketing approaches that a firm can employ to engage customers.”

Tips and Timesavers

Whether working with businesses or event owners, a constant obstacle that we come across is the expectation that each party has of each other. This obstacle usually relates to money i.e. who is paying who to do what. That is, the event planner is relying on sponsorship funds to make the event bigger and better – the sponsoring business wants a top return on its investment. Obviously, a clear agreement, backed up by an activation plan, is paramount at the start of the relationship.

We have covered sponsorship from a sponsors’ point-of-view previously, (e.g. here), so here are six tips for the event owner / planner:

  1. Planning and logistics are very important but a waste of time if there is no audience. Make sure you outline a realistic marketing budget and then allow the potential sponsor to augment it
  2. Don’t presume a sponsor will undertake the marketing for the event. Brainstorm to develop some creative marketing ideas – think about digital opportunities the sponsor might want
  3. Don’t be a one-man show. Use a community of designers, social media influencers, techies and PR people. Many start-up businesses might be glad to be involved for awareness and networking reasons
  4. The event really must have its own website. If you don’t have the expertise there are many free templates etc. out there (e.g. www.wordpress.com ). Attach google analytics so you can show results to your sponsor and you can undertake simple SEO yourself
  5. Do we even need to mention that social media should play a large part in the marketing of an event? How about inviting a well-known speaker / performer that you are connected to online? They might even guest write for you or offer a promotion on their own media sites.
  6. Will the event be interesting to any specific media? Don’t just circulate a press release, think about who would want to cover the event story in a specific way e.g. sports vs lifestyle. Link your database to an email marketing system such as mailchimp.com. You will need to send a group promotion piece, so depending on the number, it might be worth upgrading to a system that can handle your requirements.

One caveat to the above tips is that the event you are planning must be relevant to someone, preferably a specific audience and that it would be affordable for that audience to attend.


At the end of the day, an event should be a win: win: win for all parties involved. The owner / planner wants to host a successful event, the audience want to have a wonderful experience and the sponsor / business wants to achieve a business objective. So really, it’s a combination of how the success of the event is measured by all parties, that leads to a better understanding of its value, in the long run.

Here are three other ways to think about an event – i) did it grow (year-on-year)? ii) do the activation insights show an increased appreciation in general? and iii) one for the financial guys – how was the cost per attendee? – total promotional spend / no. of actual attendees = cost per attendee.

As we’re prone to saying here in Ireland – ‘is there any better way to engage with people than to throw a bit of a party’.

“Thank you for reading our blog post today” – Aidan & Jim.

 Would you like us to notify you, by email when we publish new content? If so, just let us know by clicking here. Of course, we can always meet face-to-face, just leave your details here and we might grab a coffee, cheers. Jim – O’C&K

11 Good Networking Habits That Will Grow Your Relationships.

business-networking-Irish Biz-People

IrishBizPeople Event

Recently we received a reminder that a popular series of networking events for Irish SMEs is starting up again in October. Dubnet events are business ‘get-togethers’ for people who, more than likely have engaged online through social media. It is, in essence, an opportunity to build relationships – which is critical in business.

As I was registering (it’s free to attend), I realised that, in general, I look forward to these networking events. Mainly because we all know that leads / new business does not come knocking on the door. Instead, opportunities are usually found attached to people and such events as Dubnet (or groups like #irishbizpeople on Facebook), is a perfect platform to meet such people.

People either love networking or hate it. Whichever one you are is determined, in our opinion, by your attitude to meeting new people. A lot of the time people put stress on themselves, even before they attend an event. Here are some of our thoughts to help with any pre-event stress.

  • Don’t worry too much about first impressions. Wear whatever you feel comfortable in because what you wear shouldn’t make or break a relationship.
  • Appreciate that most of the information that will be presented (by speakers) you’ll have heard before, but that’s not the point – face-to-face engagement is.
  • You should really behave yourself around the free food and beverage opportunities but do be ready to hang around a little afterwards, if required – after the formalities, people usually relax more and be themselves.
  • Don’t try to be a professional networker and learn your ‘lines’ by rote – talk about what interests you, just be genuine and sincere. People, just like yourself relish real conversation, preferably stories.
  • Don’t worry about leaving the company of someone who is selling to you. They probably just want to spread their business cards around anyway. Spend longer with people you enjoy

The wrong question – “So, what do YOU do?”

I’ll probably get in trouble for this statement, but I honestly believe that when people ask you this question they don’t really care about the answer. So the challenge, therefore, is for you to help them care. Don’t try and cram everything into that 20-second elevator pitch – just make your response different or interesting enough to grab their attention.

This means answering with something that is totally unique to you. Your personality should shine through and make them realise that you are a human being – not a prospect! After doing that, you might draw them in further by suggesting a common problem SMEs have, by way of a question, e.g.“You know how little time small business owners have to review their marketing?”

Usually, this leads to the ‘great minds think alike’ moment and you can then mention your elevator pitch, as part of the conversation, describing what you do.

With regard to elevator pitches – I can’t remember where I came across this simple formula so I have to use it here without appropriate credits:

“I help/teach ________ (ideal client) to ________ (feature) so they can _________ (benefit).

The caveat here however, is that if you can’t move through the stages as alluded to above, naturally – don’t attempt it. It will come across as being contrived and at worse a sales pitch. Stick with rule #1 – be authentic.

Tips and Timesavers.

We wrote on this topic on numerous occasions previously and one that seemed to resonate with people was this one – 11 Bad Networking Habits. For our tips in this post, we are taking a more positive viewpoint and would offer these suggestions:


Before you attend, change your attitude to focus on meeting friends rather than business contacts.

uncomfortable person

Remember many other people are just as uncomfortable as you are – which quite often is just shyness.

smiling and networking

Did you know that people make a snap judgement on whether you’re trustworthy after 35 milliseconds of looking at your face – smiling indicates trustworthiness.

be prepared for networking

Before you head off to the event try and do some research in advance. Find out what type of event it is, its theme, a list of attendees and the speaker’s names.

business person networking

Prepare a 10 second introduction about yourself. This is not an elevator pitch it is a warm introduction to a potential conversation.

smiling person networking

Be more interesting. As mentioned above – give the person you’re talking to, something more to work on. Don’t just give your name and your job. Try telling them the benefit of what you do.

what about you networking

And how about you? Is much better than: So, what do you do? Don’t you think?

Thumbs up at networking

Give compliments that might encourage conversation. Make sure you accompany your observation with a question to continue the conversation.

networking and meeting people

Make people at ease and don’t wait to be approached. Why not talk to the person who isn’t talking to anybody?

groups of people networking

Don’t be afraid to join a bunch of people who are having fun. If you are part of a group having fun, be conscious of others trying to join in. Open up!


Be nice to everyone by paying attention to them and if you must move on – do it with compassion.


Hopefully, our tips above will help you build some good networking habits. Making a few little adjustments to your attitude to networking should make meeting new people, building relationships and converting leads, a second nature to you. The main point to remember is that relationships are how you grow your business. Don’t be scared to reach out and establish real connections.

“Thank you for reading our blog post today” – Aidan & Jim.

Would you like us to notify you, by email when we publish new content? If so, just let us know by clicking here. Of course, we can always meet face-to-face, just leave your details here and we might grab a coffee, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K

Inbound Marketing – should it stay, in-house, or should it go?


“We want to create value for you by sharing marketing tips and timesavers” – O’C&K.

9 tips for planning your inbound marketing.

It’s been a few years now since brands realised that people were becoming increasingly annoyed by ‘intrusive’ marketing. What arose (primed by the advances in technologically assisted connectedness), was a method of attracting people to your brand rather than invading their space with an irrelevant message.

This ‘new’ approach was called inbound marketing and appeared to be a logical way to proceed, mainly because consumers have never had it so easy to be able to switch off irrelevant brand communication.. Of course, it was, and is, a back to the future scenario because the rationale for smarter marketing hasn’t changed, just the methodologies available.

In fact, inbound marketing is flying so high nowadays, it’s like there is no other way of marketing. It has become king of the marketing castle. To confound matters further, there are many practitioners out there proclaiming that traditional marketing is dead because ‘content marketing’ has taken over.

Before we proceed, let’s clarify one thing – in our opinion content marketing is a subset of inbound marketing. It is the lifeblood of an inbound strategy without which, there is no hook for people to listen to your brand communication.

Well, to all you marketers and organisations out there, you’ll be pleased to know that traditional (outbound) marketing is not dead. It is alive and well. It still has a part to play in a focused marketing plan. Here is a table outlining sample activity that may form part of your detailed marketing plan, depending on the target audience and business goals.

Traditional / Outbound / Push Marketing Inbound / Content / Pull Marketing
Radio or Television ads Website – SEO
Outdoor advertising Social Media
Tradeshows or Exhibitions Blogs
Direct Mail Whitepapers or eBooks
Flyers, Circulars or Inserts Email campaigns
Outbound Call Centres eNewsletters
Banner or Display ads Podcasts, Webinars or Video streaming


A brief summary of the above table is that – outbound activity is an attempt to ‘buy’ the attention of the targeted audience whereas, inbound activity is an attempt to ‘earn’ their attention. Of course, both methods have their pros and cons but the essence of success is a mix of both, that will provide measureable results.

9 tips for planning your inbound marketing.

Although almost everyone is talking about embracing inbound marketing, it is not as easy as having a few social media accounts and blogging every now and then. It takes commitment, perseverance and some creativity to achieve measureable results. These results will be based on a business plan and should culminate in increased leads, conversions and sales.

Here are our tips and timesavers when planning your inbound strategy.

  1. Invite, don’t interrupt. – Use social media, blogs, articles, newsletters etc. to engage with your audience.
  2. Help, don’t sell. –  If you know your audience well, you will know what they want – give it to them.
  3. Humanise, don’t automate. – When you get the leads, you need to nurture the relationships.
  4. Be relevant not incidental. – Blog a lot of relevant content, as regularly as you can.
  5. Measure, don’t guess. – You can be smarter about your marketing by knowing what works.
  6. Be visible, not hidden. – Use SEO to increase the likelihood of being found in searches.
  7. Talk directly, not generally. – Use email selectively and customise content for recipients.
  8. Spark conversation, not self-promotion. – Use social media as a ‘social medium’ not an advertising channel.
  9. Entice rather than pay. – Short, consumable content that educates or entertains will work.

Stay or Go? Content marketing In-house, or outsourced?

The first thing to emphasise here is that there is no right or wrong answer to this question. The fact is, that it totally depends on your business objectives and of course your budget. It may also be the case, as it is with some of our own clients, that a combination of both is the more suitable.

Some of the main arguments we hear against outsourcing are:

A) can outsiders capture your brand voice? Our answer is yes they can – there are many very talented writers out there who are extremely creative and professional enough to avoid the content becoming just more advertising copy.

B) Our own marketing dept. / person can write a blog – yes they could, but different audiences require different approaches / channels, and we would ask “do they have the time and expertise to adapt”?

C) In-house people understand the brand guidelines better – at the end of the day, content that connects with people is what counts not content that adheres to company rules. Of course, if the agency is not producing what it promised it is also easier to terminate their contract than it is that of an existing staff member.

Accordingly, we encourage organisations to outsource in the following four situations:

-You don’t have the time to do it yourself.

-You don’t have the expertise in various content types.

-Keeping up to date on trends is too much of a chore.

-Your marketing needs to be smarter, in order to grow your business.

Every time we discuss this topic with clients or prospects, we offer them a trial period of six months with O’C&K. In that way, a company owner (marketing manager) can gauge the time and effort that is required to manage an inbound strategy and supply quality content. Thereafter, they can decide which route adds more value to their business operation.

Six months is not sufficient time for an inbound strategy to kick-in but at least it will show the volume of effort involved.

One other alternative, referred to above, is to outsource one element of your marketing plan. This could be writing a blog, a white paper or an e-book, managing an email or social media campaign, all of which could be once-off projects as part of your overall engagement strategy for clients.

Let’s face it, you are in business to grow your company and improve your revenue. Outsourcing some or all of your marketing, can help you reach your business objectives. Sometimes, expanding your internal marketing department or hiring an intern is just not a good use of your resources.

If you do outsource, it means that you could use the savings to drive growth while in the knowledge that your marketing activity is playing its part in your success.

We would say that though wouldn’t we?

Because that is what we do..

   If you have any other tips or timesavers please leave a reply below. If you’d like to receive similar content, just subscribe by clicking through the pink button, on this page.  Of course, if you want to get in touch, leave your details and perhaps we might meet for a chat, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K

Business Marketing – building relationships with effective communication.

christmas business marketing

“We want to create value for you by sharing marketing tips and timesavers” – O’C&K.

7 ideas for SME’s marketing online this Christmas.

Whenever the owners of small or medium sized businesses ask us about business marketing, we respond by separating the two words. We suggest that, business is about building two things; trust and relevance and marketing is about building one; a relationship. The tool needed to build all of these, is communication.

You can talk about any type of ‘new’ or ‘old’ marketing you want to, influencer marketing, engaging marketing, broadcast marketing, transactional marketing – it doesn’t matter. People connect with people and communication is how that happens, in whatever way that works for both.

Wanting a relationship is human, it is only the type of relationship that differs. As a result, organisations (of any size) must seek out ways, online and offline, which build relationships. Use any method you want to, social media, traditional advertising, growth hacking – just make sure that you are creating an environment for a person to have a positive engagement with you / your brand.

If you think about it, in this digitally enhanced and fragmented world of customers – building a relationship that can’t be copied or stolen, may be the only differentiator, in business. How do you build such a relationship? – By using consistent and effective communication.

Business marketing is about communicating a relevant story.

Let’s be fair, some organisations are embracing the notion of consistency in their communication. Almost every day we read about the tsunami of organisations entering into the content marketing and / or storytelling space. The trouble is that sometimes, this is not done in a consistent and effective manner, because they are storytelling from a traditional advertising mind set.

To me, this is a waste of time. Personally, I don’t want any of my timelines interrupted by a tweet, a Facebook or Google+ post, advising me about a great product! No, for me social media is -s-o-c-i-a-l…. I don’t want to discuss my holidays with my bank manager (even if she, ahem, paid for it). Educate me or entertain me – that’s it.

If you want to share a story that includes your brand, make it a compelling and authentic one that I might be interested in. Also, tell me the story where and when I want it. I might want to check out a service of yours on my mobile but I may read about your story in a blog, on my tablet. And if it’s that useful yes, I’ll share it with my friends on my social media networks. Lastly, please make it different to all the other ‘stories’ because my time is precious.

Be smarter about your business marketing because time is precious for everyone. Your time is spent concentrating on growing your business and marketing has to play its role. To do so, however, your marketing must respond to people’s needs and desires. You have to acknowledge this if you are to earn people’s attention.

The fact that you can’t force anybody to listen to your story anymore, means that you have to ensure that you are part of their story. You’ll read many blogs, articles and books on the need for data management, new technology, automation, targeting, optimisation and measurement. But without being authentic when marketing your business, people won’t care and you’ll end up being a busy fool.

Building blocks for smarter business marketing.

Even before embarking on your storytelling journey, there are some building blocks that should be in place, especially if you are a small business with a small marketing budget.

  • Identify your USP. Choose one thing that differentiates you from competitors and build around that.
  • Be clear about your audience. Don’t waste time on an audience that will never buy your offerings.
  • Use the right channels. A channel should get new customers, and/or build relationships / reputation.
  • Start off with a clear business model. Ensure correct pricing – from a customer’s point of view.
  • Enjoy yourself. Do things you enjoy and that fit with your company’s values.

Tips and Timesavers.

We mentioned above about a business building relationships. Last week one of our Facebook friends, contacted us for activity ideas, to sell products online between now and Christmas. We do apologise for mentioning the ‘C’ word so early in November. However, as we can’t all afford the big TV campaigns, some of the ideas below may help to level the online playing field for SMEs, in the coming weeks.

  1. Maximise social: If you’re planning some offline activity such as a flyer (QR codes), a trade show, a Christmas market stall – broaden your activity impact using social media. Have early-bird discounts, talk about the advantages of shopping early and online. Use each channel / audience in a different way and invite them to get involved (by sharing). If you have a range of products think of using Pinterest.
  2. Site optimisation: track search activity and re align landing pages and search terms. Have you access to FAQs or a sizing chart (fashion). Use large thumbnail images, quick view buttons and testimonials. Make sure the check-out process is simple.
  3. Create an experience: Set up an advent calendar. Each day have an offer on a particular product, have a discount, a 24 hour competition, a quote, a picture – anything that raises awareness or drives people to your site. (O2 have done this in Ireland in the past offering music downloads). Use Instagram to give people gift ideas.
  4. Get emotional: Email is still a personal channel. Use an online ‘pull strategy’ to encourage people to send their gift ‘wish list’ to you. Get them to write a story about why they would want to give one of your products to someone they love. Maybe the best story would get a free gift etc. Their email would give you permission to mail your catalogue to them, for inspiration.
  5. Be generous: Create Christmas themed gift cards. Offer free discount cards – people tend to spend more than the card offer. Promote a BOGOF offer which would help people to solve their gift buying problems by getting two for one! How about free posting?
  6. Be helpful: Delivery countdown. Remind your online followers that there are only ‘x’ amount of days left to ensure pre-Christmas delivery. Let them know if a particular product is almost out of stock.
  7. Be human: Set up a scheduled tweet. Don’t go overboard on this but there is nothing wrong with a little Christmas cheer – schedule a ‘greeting tweet’ for Christmas Eve or Day.

Hopefully, some of these might ‘spark’ an idea of your own.  We want to ensure that you have a turkey stuffin’, wine sippin’, santa hat wearin’, cracker pullin’ bit of fun, this Christmas season.

Outsourcing your content management.

To finish, I’d like to return to the notion of organisations entering into the content marketing and / or storytelling space, in an ineffective manner. Sometimes the task of ‘storytelling’ is delegated to the overworked marketing team (or development person) that are trying to get their heads around data management, new technology and customer’s increased expectations.

The obvious answer is to outsource. However there is a caveat here also. Traditional agencies may lack digital knowledge and digital agencies may lack strategic know how. There is a new breed of content and editorial agencies but the trouble is that they may well lack brand knowledge. Perhaps we will eventually get an integrated model that can understand both the editorial mind set and the brand management side but in the meantime, make sure you all agree the deliverables up front.

“Here’s the plug folks – at O’C&K we combine our own experience and that of our ‘contacts community’ to deliver brand management, engagement strategy and storytelling into a seamless experience for your brand. Let us know if we can help”.

  If you have any other tips or timesavers please leave a reply below. If you’d like to receive similar content, just subscribe by clicking through the pink button, on this page.  Of course, if you want to get in touch, leave your details and perhaps we might meet for a chat, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K


A good relationship is more than a value exchange – people don’t care about your business.

Marketing Relationships

“We want to create value for you by sharing marketing tips and timesavers” – O’C&K.

Is relevancy the currency in a relationship-based economy?

If you have something of value that people want, they will pay you for it. A simple exchange of value. The challenge is to keep them coming back for more.You have heard of terms like, strategic marketing, content marketing, social marketing, integrated marketing, contextual marketing and so on. Can you guess what all these ‘types’ of marketing have in common? Yep, they are all intended to build a customer relationship and thereby make more money for your business.

I ascribe to the notion that in addition to delivering value, if you do so through a positive experience for people, it will build a stronger relationship. Many businesses struggle with that concept, for some reason. Maybe it’s because they get caught up in quantifying costs, which is understandable I guess, in the current unstable economic environment.

As a result, marketers are asked to focus on sales, conversions, acquisitions etc. and, in my opinion, ignore the experiential  element of the value exchange. Invariably, they get distracted by measuring shallow digital relationships such as page likes, followers, G+s etc.

Let’s look at my own simple explanation of marketing. It is communication activity used to connect people with a brand, in the hope that they will buy something. I know this is a simplistic viewpoint because it doesn’t take account of people buying at different times and for different reasons. Still, we cannot get away from the fact that marketing exists to create a connection. That connection may well be a first one, or with an existing customer but without it, there can never be a relationship.

Online relationships.

There’s nothing new here folks. We create and cultivate relationships every single day. We meet a receptionist, the cashier at the supermarket, we laugh with our family, talk with our work colleagues, we tweet, we post updates etc. Of course, they are at different levels of intensity, but they are ‘connections’ none the less.

The thing is that people need value exchanges in different ways i.e. different relationships. When we talk about online relationships, it is obvious that some of them just need information and others want to (or have to) engage with you. Here are a few examples of digital relationships:


  • Annoying – people who get you to follow them and then ‘spam’ you with their posts.
  • Contactless – people who like to use the information / knowledge you provide online, but don’t want to have a conversation.
  • Recognition – people who don’t want a one-to-one relationship but will ‘like’ or ‘follow’ you online.
  • Empowering – people who want to be the leading voice in a conversation you are having.
  • Involved – people who want to build a relationship with you because of the value you provide.


It is the last one above, the involved relationship that is the one businesses will want. Marketers should use various technology platforms to filter the types of relationship they are looking for. At the end of the day, however, you cannot beat the traditional one-to-one communication with the right person at the right time to close the deal. So if you do create a connection online, try to arrange a meeting offline to follow up on the opportunity.

Smarter relationships.

So, if marketing is all about relationships, online or offline, why do many marketers still persist with big generic marketing campaigns?  Even large corporates such as Coca-Cola are attempting to change. Instead of teaching the world to sing they are now personalising their bottles with people’s names. To be fair, customised communication is nigh on impossible to quantify so I can see the marketer’s dilemma. The argument with the CFO will be the difference between short-term and long-term results.

It is a long term play to create a pleasant brand experience that will generate positive attitudes and eventually, more paying customers. One thing is certain though, the businesses that are conscious of this changing paradigm and who adapt, will survive into the future.

Investing in technology is another argument to be had with the CFO. Technology has a large part to play in shaping a customer’s experience. Social media, mobile, big data and augmented reality will allow businesses to enhance customer experience. Needless to say some industries will be more affected than others, but all businesses will have to embrace the new reality. For instance, we already know that mobile is at the heart of how customers are interacting with your brand.

It is almost a cliché now to say that we live in a rapidly changing business environment. Being smart in this environment doesn’t mean having college degrees. In my opinion, it means being a good communicator and networker. Being smarter in these areas also means making your business more flexible and adaptable. Internal relationships are as important as external ones, if a business is to embrace smarter marketing.

In fact, having a strategy and multiple plans these days may well act as a straightjacket on your business. This is because it’s not about coming up with the right answer anymore – it’s about coming up with the right question. The right question is ‘what matters to my customer’? Thereafter businesses should be focused on providing a contextual experience that matches the customer’s expectations.

A downside of businesses adapting to the new ‘context’ of building relationships is that there is a rush to publish stuff, just to be seen to be doing it. Sometimes the need to get content ‘out there’ supersedes the quality that is required to be effective.

The worst scenario is that marketing ‘gurus’ become sales people and the relationship building element is lost. Marketing will always be about compelling content, relevant media, top class production, engaging sales follow up and the creation of outstanding retail experiences.

My point? Be smarter about your marketing.

Marketing isn’t complicated.

Despite the new marketing tools out there, the original marketing principle remains in place. Know your audience and hone your message. Technology is your friend as long as you prioritise the most important aspects for your customer and your business. As mentioned above, a business must be agile nowadays, so don’t over-plan. Keep it simple.

If marketing is about connecting with people, it has been said that there are only three ways you can communicate your marketing message: write to them, talk to them or create a visual (video, picture or graphic). Writing would involve blogs, articles, press releases etc. Talking would include podcasts, seminars or networking events. Once you have decided which method you’re more comfortable with, you then go about choosing your platform.

Tips and Timesavers.

Here are examples of marketing platforms that you may or may not use. The platform should be focused on where the people you want to engage with are, but it’s also important that you don’t spread yourself too wide. Concentrate on a few channels and become proficient in them.


  • Social Media (FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, G+), Blogging, Email Marketing, guest blogging,
  • Radio, Advertising, PR, Leaflets, Run competitions, Enter Awards, Testimonials, Branded vehicles.
  • Cold calling, Networking, Join local associations, Exhibitions, Joint ventures, Business referrals.
  • Set up a website, video marketing, Search Engine Optimisation, Localised offers.


There are many other platforms but before I finish, I would like to return to the notion of your online platform. People are going to find you, actively through online search, passively while browsing or through a digital community. If you are not visible to them through any of these online options, you will lose out to competitors that are.

You might well think that you haven’t the time or the budget to undertake smarter marketing. There is a solution to this. You always have the option of employing an external resource (us for instance) to augment your capabilities on an as-needed basis. Partnership with an external resource will allow you to focus on the fundamentals of building a great business in the knowledge that you are being smart about your marketing.

To summarise, here are some of my tips on marketing:


  • Although marketing channels can change– principles don’t.
  • Every business needs a marketing plan – including a plan to listen.
  • Marketing is about selling – good marketing cannot sell a bad product.
  • Your brand identity won’t last forever – make people feel for your brand.
  • A relationship is about being relevant – customers don’t care about your business.


If you have any other tips or timesavers please leave a reply below. If you’d like to receive similar content, just subscribe by clicking through the pink button, on this page.  Of course, if you want to get in touch, leave your details and perhaps we might meet for a chat, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K