Steffan Aquarone

Steff is a film producer and technology entrepreneur who speaks internationally on innovation, entrepreneurship and digital marketing

How to get your first clients


I found myself writing a longer-than-usual response to a request for advice recently. I’ve only done this a few times in my life and it’s usually when someone asks a really smart question that deserves an answer.

I’ve turned my response into some tips you might find useful if you’re starting a business or know what you’re going to do but need to find your first paying client. Almost all of the clever stuff comes from other people – but these are very select personal recommendations from across the five business I’ve started, so think of it as meta-curation if you like.

1. Work out your business model

I would take a good hard look at decent business start up books to help you understand your business model and what you’re selling that’s of value. One of the only books I’ve read on business is this one http://www.amazon.co.uk/Business-Model-Generation-Visionaries-Challengers/dp/0470876417

2. Start selling sooner rather than later

Assuming you’ve worked out what you’re doing and who for, it’s time to start selling.

The most powerful technology I’ve found in growing business is Linkedin. A few quid a month extra buys you the ability to get better search, and contact people directly who aren’t in your network. Throughout the five businesses I’ve started, Linkedin has been the single most valuable channel for business development.

3. Network

You can’t feed a machine with thin air, and for me networking fuelled the Linkedin machine. This will always be easier if you know why you’re doing what you’re doing (see http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action.html) even if you’re networking in relatively generic environment. At the beginning of my career it was local Chamber of Commerce, BNI and other small business networking events that got me started – I discovered the more focused, relevant events in time, for example industry specific ones. However even now my networking skills help me get leverage. If you have a big client then you can even network within that client. Nowadays I promote myself on the international speaker circuit which earns me money as well as boosting my network and delivering exciting opportunities for whatever I’m working on (currently https://dropletpay.com). There are always people in the speakers’ room that would make for fantastic contacts so it never really stops.

Below are the slides from a seminar I did recently on the power of networks. It was aimed at people’s individual personal development but exactly the same approach applies to company business development and you are selling yourself for a large part of the process before you get on to talking about whatever you’re going to do for someone.

4. Try writing useful stuff

Content marketing cost very little, yet publishing stuff online that’s useful, interesting or entertaining and that people will want to watch or read and share is a powerful way to boost your reputation. If budget allows, then running your own seminars to teach people something cool or powerful they can do for themselves is a more concentrated form of this. If you’re aiming high up the organisational structure you might need to throw in a dinner in order to get interesting people and potential customers together.

5. Get some customers before you start spending lots of money

Try wherever possible to do things that don’t cost very much money. When I worked in a restaurant the owner taught me a valuable lesson (amongst many less valuable ones): in most businesses every £1 you spend has got to generate £10 of sales.

Good luck!

Filed under: selling creative, successful businesses

Digital Consumers need businesses to be more social – even energy suppliers


Deregulation made them compete on price; but will they ever pull their socks up on service?

Here’s a long, protracted extract from the final episode of my recent exchange with Scottish Power.  It’s a cool piece of timing after two days talking to delegates of my digital marketing course about the importance of re-organising their businesses to be more human.

Dear Scottish Power,

Thank you for your latest but largely meaningless communication.  Please see below.
On 20 June 2013 16:51, <ContactUs@scottishpower.co.uk> wrote:

Dear Mr Aquarone

Thank you for your E-Mail regarding the issues you have experienced with your ScottishPower account.

I can confirm the debt follow up by Insight collections was triggered on the 11th June 2013 as there was no repayment plan in place.

What?! I’ve been complaining of the debt collection harassment for MONTHS – ever since your shockingly poor record keeping failed to notice the replacement of my gas meter, thought it was likely that I’d spent £2,000 in gas in a quarter, and tried to bill me for it!  Did you read the case notes before sending this email?
I stated clearly that I was not going to pay any money to Scottish Power until my final invoices were based on actual meter readings.

A Direct Debit was set up on the 13th June 2013 to collect the balance over 12 months so all debt follow up with now be cancelled if the Direct Debit is paid each month.

It’s now 21st.  Why am I still receiving letters?

I am sorry to hear that you are dissatisfied with the service you have received and if you wish to take this matter further you will need to contact the energy ombudsman as outlined in previous E-Mails to you

There are clearly some big deficiencies in your business but these don’t warrant any more of my time.
I’ve posted this correspondence on my blog.  I am now bored to tears and can’t face spending any more time on this.
Regards
Steff

Yours Sincerely

Ross Pell

Customer CarFrom: steffanaquarone@gmail.com
Sent: Wed Jun 05 19:49:26 BST 2013
To: contactus@scottishpower.co.uk
Thank you Andrea

I afraid I am still going to refer the matter to the Ombudsman as I am
still receiving debt collection attempts, today time from Insight
Collections by letter as well as by phone.

Please can you instruct all departments of Scottish Power to cease debt
collection attempts immediately.

At no point have I been in arrears or owed you money when there hasn’t been
a live dispute.  These disputes have all been caused by Scottish Power’s
incompetence and inadequate record keeping.

I’m struggling to believe I’m having to write to you again on this matter.

Steff

On 13 June 2013 07:30, <ContactUs@scottishpower.co.uk> wrote:

> Dear Mr Aquarone
>
> Thank you for your email.
>
> I can confirm a direct debit has been set up for the 25th of each month
> starting on 25th June 2013. This will clear the combined final balance
> owing of £181.78 over 12 monthly installments of £15.15
>
> Kind regards
>
> Andrea O’Dwyer
> E-Contact Centre
> ScottishPower
www.scottishpower.co.uk
>
> P.S. – You can check which product you are on by visiting
www.scottishpower.co.uk/myaccount. If you do not have online access, your
> product is noted on the covering page of your most recent statement.
>
> P.S. – You will find answers to frequently asked questions on the Help
> pages on our website at www.scottishpower.co.uk - just click “Need Help”
> on the far right tab of the menu bar.
>
> Did You Know..?
>
> ScottishPower is working with Cancer Research UK to help make a difference
> to peoples lives. To show our support we have developed our Help Beat
> Cancer Discounted Energy product. The product guarantees you a 3% discount
> on our standard monthly Direct Debit prices, whilst ScottishPower makes an
> annual donation to Cancer Research UK, to help them to continue their
> important work.
>
> ScottishPower offers a fantastic Platinum product, which includes Fixed
> Price Energy and Boiler Cover, to help with any unexpected breakdowns and
> give you peace of mind during the cold weather. Why not visit
http://www.scottishpower.co.uk/products/platinum-fixed-energy.aspx
>
> ScottishPower also has an online shop, offering lots of great products
> that could really help you reduce your energy costs. You can visit the shop
> at www.scottishpower.co.uk
>
> ScottishPower – voted ‘Best Online Service’ 5 consecutive times in the
> uSwitch customer satisfaction survey.From:
steffanaquarone@gmail.com
> Sent: Wed Jun 05 19:49:26 BST 2013
> To: contactus@scottishpower.co.uk
> Hello Natalie,
>
> Thank you very much for your comprehensive email and for taking the time to
> review this case.
>
> I appreciate and accept your, now reading-based, final bills on both
> electricity and gas accounts.
>
> I accept your offer to settle the balance over twelve months.  Please let
> me know what information you need to complete this.
>
> Warm wishes
>
> Steff
>
>
> On 5 June 2013 08:12, <ContactUs@scottishpower.co.uk> wrote:
>
> > Dear Mr Aquarone
> >
> > Thank you for your recent e-mail regarding your final account. Please
> > accept my apologies for any inconvenience that this matter may have
> caused
> > you. Your details have been logged under complaint reference 4000052
> >
> > I can confirm that your electricity account had already been billed to
> the
> > meter readings you have provided
> >
> > Night Rate – 63082
> > Day Rate – 66130
> >
> > These readings had been updated as estimates per the information provided
> > by your new supplier. As requested I have rebilled your account to these
> > readings and have updated them to show as actual meter readings. This
> still
> > leaves you with an outstanding balance of £143.23 to be paid on you final
> > electricity account.
> >
> > Please be advised that as part of our terms and conditions we are allowed
> > to bill you to estimate readings in the absence of actual meter readings.
> >
> > In relation to the change of supplier meter readings provider by your new
> > energy company we have to accept these as being correct and these have to
> > be re-agreed between both suppliers if any amendments are required e.g.
> > difference in actual reading and transfer reading.
> >
> > The reminders you have received regarding your outstanding balance are a
> > part of our standard follow up procedure for debt balances, these will
> >  continue until the balance is paid or suitable payment arrangement has
> > been agreed.
> >
> > If you are unable to now clear this balance in full as now billed as
> > requested to show the above readings as actual rather than estimate,
> please
> > contact us to set up a payment arrangement as gesture of good will I
> would
> > be willing to agree to clear this outstanding amount over the next
> 12months
> > instead of our standard 3months for final balances. In order for this to
> be
> > cleared over a 12month period you would need to set up a Direct Debit.
> >
> > I can confirm that you gas account has also been finalised to an actual
> > meter reading of 1500 for the 24 April 2013 on meter serial number
> > G4K00057521201. Your final balance on this account is £38.55
> >
> > If you do not agree with our explanations of your final balance or the
> > above offers made to clear your final account then we consider ourselves
> in
> > deadlock.
> >
> > I am sorry that we have been unable to resolve this matter to your
> > satisfaction more quickly. As we have now exhausted our internal
> complaints
> > process and my recent offer on resolution was not accepted, this letter
> > constitutes a deadlock situation. This means that you have a right to
> refer
> > your complaint to the Energy Ombudsman.
> >
> > The Energy Ombudsman is an independent body that has been set up to
> > resolve sales, billing and transfer issues between customers and energy
> > suppliers. This service is free to customers. Details of how to contact
> > them can be found in the enclosed Ombudsman booklet that is enclosed and
> in
> > the “Complaints” section on our website.
> >
> > Remedies that the Ombudsman can award include an apology, an explanation,
> > a requirement on the supplier to take remedial action or, in appropriate
> > circumstances, a financial award. The Ombudsman’s decision will be
> binding
> > on us as your supplier, but you are free to choose whether or not to
> accept
> > their decision.
> >
> > This is our final offer of settlement in this case, and should you
> decline
> > to accept this and choose to exercise your right to take your case to the
> > Energy Ombudsman, our offer is withdrawn and we will await their
> > independent final decision.
> >
> > Your complaint with us has now been closed and we await contact from the
> > Energy Ombudsman should you choose to take your complaint to them. Please
> > be aware that in the meantime follow up of the £143.23 balance will
> > continue.
> >
> > Yours sincerely
> >
> >
> > Natalie Jackson
> > Customer Care RepresentativeFrom: steffanaquarone@gmail.com
> > Sent: Thu May 30 18:14:00 BST 2013
> > To: contactus@scottishpower.co.uk
> > Hello,
> >
> > I thought this ridiculous mess has been resolved; it hasn’t.  I’ve now
> > started receiving calls from another department chasing an electricity
> bill
> > which remains contested for the same reason as below: I believe you have
> > used inaccurate estimated readings to produce the final bill.
> >
> > I provided my new supplier EDF Energy with actual readings for 16th April
> > and yet you have estimated my final bill.  I can’t tell you how
> frustrating
> > this entire process has been.
> >
> > As per my conversation with your credit control agent on the telephone
> > (which I had to terminate after ten minutes of repeating myself) I have
> now
> > asked EDF to confirm to me the readings I provided which they have done:
> >
> > Elec K82G13688 01 16/04/2013 63082 Actual
> > Elec K82G13688 02 16/04/2013 66130 Actual
> >
> > *Please can you use these actual readings from 16th April to revise and
> > re-issue the final electricity bill.*
> >
> > I explained clearly to the agent on the telephone that I was not going to
> > settle either bill until I was satisfied.
> >
> > If and when I am satisfied with the final electricity bill I will settle
> > both bills in due course.
> >
> > If I am not satisfied I will refer this matter to Ofwat.  This whole
> > charade will make for amusing reading by someone I’m sure.
> >
> > I have already issued notice of proceedings for harassment against
> Scottish
> > Power and would appreciate an acknowledgement of this email – most of my
> > communications go unanswered which is doubly frustrating.  I don’t know
> > Andrew Ward’s circumstances but either his staff are not communicating or
> > he is asleep at the helm.
> >
> > Kind regards,
> >
> > Steff
> >
> > On 16 May 2013 17:49, Steffan Aquarone <steff@dropletpay.com> wrote:
> >
> > > Hello,
> > >
> > > Thank you for your email.
> > >
> > > However I wish to re-open this as a complaint.  Please forward this and
> > > all other correspondence you have received from me to [name redacted]
> > or
> > > another member of the complaints team.
> > >
> > > Why am I still receiving debt collection attempts from yourselves?
>  Have
> > > you not taken seriously my notice of intended action?
> > >
> > > Your email below is also inaccurate, see notes inline:
> > >
> > > Dear Mr S Aquarone
> > >>
> > >> Thank you for your recent e-mail regarding your Gas account under
> > account
> > >> reference 68363365034.
> > >>
> > >> We can see from our records that the new gas mtr change that occurred
> on
> > >> the 14/06/13 has now been updated on the account for you
> > >
> > >
> > > The meter change did not occur on 14/06/13.  It occurred on 14/06/2012.
> > >  If your system still says 2013 then the new statements you have
> > dispatched
> > > will be completely inaccurate.
> > >
> > >
> > >> –the new gas meter serial number is G4K00057521201 and we have also
> > >> received from your new supplier the change of supply estimation they
> are
> > >> using from the new gas meter as at the 24/04/13 for 01500
> > >>
> > >
> > > Can you please clarify what the number ’01500′ represents, and why an
> > > estimated reading is being used for this handover?
> > >
> > >
> > >>
> > >> Therefore we have now billed the account to the correct details
> provided
> > >> for you to bring this up to date with a correct charge to close the
> > account
> > >> down to as provided from the change of supply estimation your new
> > supplier
> > >> has given.
> > >>
> > >> This new correct bill will be issued and you should receive this
> within
> > >> the next 5-7 days to settle the account with.
> > >>
> > >> I apologise for any delay and inconvenience this may have caused while
> > >> waiting for this information to come through.
> > >>
> > >
> > > It’s not your personal fault.  But it is frankly shocking given that
> you
> > > have all the data, IT and power in this relationship.  I’d have thought
> > > some form of remediation on top of the money you owe me would be in
> > order.
> > >
> > > Kind regards,
> > >
> > > Steffan Aquarone
> > >
> > >
> > >>
> > >> If you have any further questions, you can use our online help
> facility
> > >> 24 hours a day by visiting www.scottishpower.co.uk/contactus
> > >>
> > >> Kind regards
> > >> T Thorpe
> > >>
> > >> E-Contact Centre
> > >> ScottishPower
> > >> www.scottishpower.co.uk
> > >>
> > >> P.S. – You can check which product you are on by visiting
> > >> www.scottishpower.co.uk/myaccount. If you do not have online access,
> > >> your product is noted on the covering page of your most recent
> > statement.
> > >>
> > >> P.S. – You will find answers to frequently asked questions on the Help
> > >> pages on our website at www.scottishpower.co.uk - just click “Need
> > Help”
> > >> on the far right tab of the menu bar.
> > >>
> > >> Did You Know..?
> > >>
> > >> ScottishPower is working with Cancer Research UK to help make a
> > >> difference to peoples lives. To show our support we have developed our
> > Help
> > >> Beat Cancer Discounted Energy product. The product guarantees you a 3%
> > >> discount on our standard monthly Direct Debit prices, whilst
> > ScottishPower
> > >> makes an annual donation to Cancer Research UK, to help them to
> continue
> > >> their important work.
> > >>
> > >> ScottishPower offers a fantastic Platinum product, which includes
> Fixed
> > >> Price Energy and Boiler Cover, to help with any unexpected breakdowns
> > and
> > >> give you peace of mind during the cold weather. Why not visit
> > >> http://www.scottishpower.co.uk/products/platinum-fixed-energy.aspx
> > >>
> > >> ScottishPower also has an online shop, offering lots of great products
> > >> that could really help you reduce your energy costs. You can visit the
> > shop
> > >> at www.scottishpower.co.uk
> > >>
> > >> ScottishPower – voted ‘Best Online Service’ 5 consecutive times in the
> > >> uSwitch customer satisfaction survey.From:
> > >> steffanaquarone@gmail.com
> > >> Sent: Thu May 09 11:43:11 BST 2013
> > >> To: contactus@scottishpower.com;a.ward@scottishpower.com;
> > >> contactus_outbox@scottishpower.com
> > >> Hello,
> > >>
> > >> Further to my several unanswered emails and attempts to refer this
> > matter
> > >> back to Lauren McGuinness who has been handling my complaint, I am
> still
> > >> receiving harassing messages chasing payment that is not due.
> > >>
> > >> I hereby give you notice of my intention to begin legal action for the
> > >> recovery of money owed to me and, separately, begin proceedings
> against
> > >> Scottish Power for harassment.
> > >>
> > >> These proceedings will begin in 24 hours unless electronic
> confirmation
> > >> can
> > >> be provided that you have ceased these automated messages and are
> > >> addressing my complaint personally.
> > >>
> > >> Yours
> > >>
> > >> Steffan Aquarone
> > >>
> > >>
> > >> –
> > >> Steffan Aquarone
> > >> M: +44 7879 451608
> > >> Web: http://dropletpay.com - send payments from your phone
> > >> Twitter: @dropletpay
> > >>
> ————————————————————————
> > >> If you’re not the intended recipient of this email please let me know
> > that
> > >> it has gone astray and then delete this email without acting on any
> part
> > >> of
> > >> its contents.
> > >>
> > >>
> > >>
> > >>
> > >> ===============================================================
> > >>
> > >> Please consider the environment before printing this email.
> > >>
> > >> If you have received this message in error, please notify the sender
> and
> > >> immediately delete this message and any attachment hereto and/or copy
> > >> hereof, as such message contains confidential information intended
> > solely
> > >> for the individual or entity to whom it is addressed.  The use or
> > >> disclosure of such information to third parties is prohibited by law
> and
> > >> may give rise to civil or criminal liability.
> > >>
> > >> The views presented in this message are solely those of the author(s)
> > and
> > >> do not necessarily represent the opinion of Iberdrola, S.A. or any
> > company
> > >> of its group.  Neither Iberdrola, S.A. nor any company of its group
> > >> guarantees the integrity, security or proper receipt of this message.
> > >> Likewise, neither Iberdrola, S.A. nor any company of its group accepts
> > any
> > >> liability whatsoever for any possible damages arising from, or in
> > >> connection with, data interception, software viruses or manipulation
> by
> > >> third parties.
> > >>
> > >> ===============================================================
> > >>
> > >> Por favor, piense en el medio ambiente antes de imprimir este mensaje.
> > >>
> > >> Si usted recibe por error este mensaje, por favor comuniquelo a su
> > >> remitente y borre inmediatamente tanto el mensaje como cualquier
> anexo o
> > >> copia del mismo, ya que contiene informacion confidencial, dirigida
> > >> exclusivamente a su destinatario y cuya utilizacion o divulgacion a
> > >> terceros estan prohibidas por la ley, pudiendo dar lugar a
> > >> responsabilidades civiles y/o penales.
> > >>
> > >> Las ideas contenidas en este mensaje son exclusivas de su(s)
> autor(es) y
> > >> no representan necesariamente el criterio de Iberdrola, S.A. ni de
> otras
> > >> sociedades de su grupo. Ni Iberdrola, S.A. ni ninguna sociedad de su
> > grupo
> > >> garantiza la integridad, seguridad y correcta recepcion de este
> > mensaje, ni
> > >> se responsabiliza de los posibles perjuicios de cualquier naturaleza
> > >> derivados de la captura de datos, virus informaticos o manipulaciones
> > >> efectuadas por terceros.
> > >>
> > >> ===============================================================
> > >>
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > –
> > > Steffan Aquarone
> > > M: +44 7879 451608
> > > Web: http://dropletpay.com - send payments from your phone
> > > Twitter: @dropletpay
> > >
> ————————————————————————
> > > If you’re not the intended recipient of this email please let me know
> > that
> > > it has gone astray and then delete this email without acting on any
> part
> > of
> > > its contents.
> > >
> >
> >
> >
> > –
> > Steffan Aquarone
> > M: +44 7879 451608
> > Web: http://dropletpay.com - send payments from your phone
> > Twitter: @dropletpay
> > ————————————————————————
> > If you’re not the intended recipient of this email please let me know
> that
> > it has gone astray and then delete this email without acting on any part
> of
> > its contents.
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > ===============================================================
> >
> > Please consider the environment before printing this email.
> >
> > If you have received this message in error, please notify the sender and
> > immediately delete this message and any attachment hereto and/or copy
> > hereof, as such message contains confidential information intended solely
> > for the individual or entity to whom it is addressed.  The use or
> > disclosure of such information to third parties is prohibited by law and
> > may give rise to civil or criminal liability.
> >
> > The views presented in this message are solely those of the author(s) and
> > do not necessarily represent the opinion of Iberdrola, S.A. or any
> company
> > of its group.  Neither Iberdrola, S.A. nor any company of its group
> > guarantees the integrity, security or proper receipt of this message.
> > Likewise, neither Iberdrola, S.A. nor any company of its group accepts
> any
> > liability whatsoever for any possible damages arising from, or in
> > connection with, data interception, software viruses or manipulation by
> > third parties.
> >
> > ===============================================================
> >
> > Por favor, piense en el medio ambiente antes de imprimir este mensaje.
> >
> > Si usted recibe por error este mensaje, por favor comuniquelo a su
> > remitente y borre inmediatamente tanto el mensaje como cualquier anexo o
> > copia del mismo, ya que contiene informacion confidencial, dirigida
> > exclusivamente a su destinatario y cuya utilizacion o divulgacion a
> > terceros estan prohibidas por la ley, pudiendo dar lugar a
> > responsabilidades civiles y/o penales.
> >
> > Las ideas contenidas en este mensaje son exclusivas de su(s) autor(es) y
> > no representan necesariamente el criterio de Iberdrola, S.A. ni de otras
> > sociedades de su grupo. Ni Iberdrola, S.A. ni ninguna sociedad de su
> grupo
> > garantiza la integridad, seguridad y correcta recepcion de este mensaje,
> ni
> > se responsabiliza de los posibles perjuicios de cualquier naturaleza
> > derivados de la captura de datos, virus informaticos o manipulaciones
> > efectuadas por terceros.
> >
> > ===============================================================
> >
>
>
>
> –
> Steffan Aquarone
> M: +44 7879 451608
> Web: http://dropletpay.com - send payments from your phone
> Twitter: @dropletpay
> ————————————————————————
> If you’re not the intended recipient of this email please let me know that
> it has gone astray and then delete this email without acting on any part of
> its contents.
>
>
>
>
> ===============================================================
>
> Please consider the environment before printing this email.
>
> If you have received this message in error, please notify the sender and
> immediately delete this message and any attachment hereto and/or copy
> hereof, as such message contains confidential information intended solely
> for the individual or entity to whom it is addressed.  The use or
> disclosure of such information to third parties is prohibited by law and
> may give rise to civil or criminal liability.
>
> The views presented in this message are solely those of the author(s) and
> do not necessarily represent the opinion of Iberdrola, S.A. or any company
> of its group.  Neither Iberdrola, S.A. nor any company of its group
> guarantees the integrity, security or proper receipt of this message.
> Likewise, neither Iberdrola, S.A. nor any company of its group accepts any
> liability whatsoever for any possible damages arising from, or in
> connection with, data interception, software viruses or manipulation by
> third parties.
>
> ===============================================================
>
> Por favor, piense en el medio ambiente antes de imprimir este mensaje.
>
> Si usted recibe por error este mensaje, por favor comuniquelo a su
> remitente y borre inmediatamente tanto el mensaje como cualquier anexo o
> copia del mismo, ya que contiene informacion confidencial, dirigida
> exclusivamente a su destinatario y cuya utilizacion o divulgacion a
> terceros estan prohibidas por la ley, pudiendo dar lugar a
> responsabilidades civiles y/o penales.
>
> Las ideas contenidas en este mensaje son exclusivas de su(s) autor(es) y
> no representan necesariamente el criterio de Iberdrola, S.A. ni de otras
> sociedades de su grupo. Ni Iberdrola, S.A. ni ninguna sociedad de su grupo
> garantiza la integridad, seguridad y correcta recepcion de este mensaje, ni
> se responsabiliza de los posibles perjuicios de cualquier naturaleza
> derivados de la captura de datos, virus informaticos o manipulaciones
> efectuadas por terceros.
>
> ===============================================================
>


Steffan Aquarone
M: +44 7879 451608
Web: http://dropletpay.com - send payments from your phone
Twitter: @dropletpay
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Steffan Aquarone
Web: http://dropletpay.com - send payments from your phone
Twitter: @dropletpay
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Filed under: Uncategorized

What is Digital Disruption?


I had a tremendous time speaking at the Future of Digital Marketing conference in Malaysia last month and they’ve just sent me this short set of questions they asked me about the future of digital and especially disruptive business models.

Filed under: digital marketing, future of capitalism

Talking about Webinar


I realised recently talking to Dan Creigh that some of the household words we use to describe web conferences are in fact proprietary brand names!  Luckily Webinar isn’t one, so here’s a non-contentious clip of me and Darika Ahrens talking about how all the difficult rules of good web content still apply for London’s Bombora.tv:

Filed under: digital marketing, online video strategies

If only the High Street could understand innovation


I remember being distinctly underwhelmed by a recent talk by someone with a fancypants innovation title in a major high street retail group. It sounded like ‘innovation’ was shorthand for’ interruption’. Tricks and charlatans do attract people to the fair, but circuses come and go and I doubt whether even Barnham and Baily worried about loyalty.

It’s obvious that few retail startups would invest in physical estate so if you’re running a big national retailer looking to give people a reason to come to your store, why not try some of these free ideas:

1. Get rid of the merchandising and turn your shop into a learning and discovery centre for customers. Make sure the wifi is free and the coffee good.

2. Bring other real world services people need under your roof – parcel collection, ID verification, childcare. Ann Summers could do with sex therapy what Boots did with dispensary services. And on a topical subject for today: it beats me why on earth banks haven’t cottoned on to offering free financial advice seminars and drop-in sessions.

3. Offer on-site repairs. Sending precious personal kit away for 2 weeks – or binning it altogether – is surely a thing of the past for commercial as well as environmental reasons.

4. Try paying twice as much for store staff and see whether this gives customers a reason to come in rather than trawl the abyss of opinions online.

5. Use mobile to bring the benefits of the web to the real-world that even heavy web users enjoy. But make sure the experience is beautifully crafted and the mobile experience truly value-adding.

6. Shut it all down and move online. Although a start-up, you’ll have the advantage of existing brand awareness and customer data. The poor people at Comet all lost their jobs in the end anyway- I wonder how many of them would still be employed if they’d cut-and-run online sooner.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Charming naivety: what Nick Clegg and Waitrose have in common


This week Waitrose did something on social media that many brands will recognise: they created a hashtag that trended because of sarcastic responses. #waitrosereasons asked people why they shopped at Waitrose, with top results including:

@amoozbouche: I shop at Waitrose because I once heard a dad say ‘Put the papaya down, Orlando.’

@buntygusset: I shop at Waitrose because Boden don’t do veg

and

@welshben: I shop at Waitrose because I once heard a 6yr old boy in the shop say “Daddy does Lego have a ‘t’ at the end, like Merlot?”

If like me you spend a good deal of time watching brands try to suppress or moderate conversations on social media, you might have wondered what happened to all the back-tracking. Where was the PR department’s defensive post “clarifying [their] intentions”? What about the social media rookie who loses their patience and slugs one back at a troll?

I know from past experience that Waitrose are hot on digital and it could be they simply dealt with an unexpected reaction in an exemplary way. But something makes me think they knew the reaction to such a naive question would be sarcastic – and it might even have been their intention all along. All publicity is, after all, good publicity and it’s not like theirs was about a leaked corporate song or the disturbing manipulation of children’s voices. I’m working with John Lewis (of which Waitrose is a part) again in a few weeks and it’ll be top of my list of things to try and find out.

My suspicion would probably have ended there had it not been for the latest missive from our Dear Leader. A colleague and I conferred two years ago that the best thing Nick Clegg could do was make a “big, open” apology for breaking the tuition fees promise. Now he’s done it, on video, and it was modified and auto-tuned within 24 hours. Again, where were the cease and desists, the clumsy hacks mouthing off about the “plebs”? Has the Liberal Democrat party suddenly learned that the tone of voice a brand needs on the social web is a much more frank, honest and self-critical one? Maybe. But perhaps they intended it to happen all along. Within hours of The Poke publishing it, Clegg’s office had given permission for it to be released for charity and it’s already at number 63 in the iTunes chart.

Perhaps we’re entering into a new fad of charming naïvety where brands do slightly goofy things and get a big sarcastic reaction that’s largely good humoured. I think I could stomach more of this than flash mobs.

@morrisjh sums it up nicely:
Supermarket gets customers to reinforce the message it’s dying to convey, but couldn’t possibly print. #waitrosereasons #clever

Filed under: digital marketing, , , , , ,

Why haven’t you got your Video Sitemap in order?


Video sitemaps are probably the most powerful free tool in online video – possibly in search engine marketing, given how much easier it is to get to page 1 of Google with a video compared to a web page.

Yet the majority of businesses who use video as part of their digital marketing aren’t bothering to index their videos on search engines.  It’s slightly fiddly, but shouldn’t take more than a few minutes of your time.  Here’s a video I made with Econsultancy that tells you how to do it, step by step:

Filed under: online video strategies

Getting it right: how to approach a successful online video strategy


Before you can set about deploying online video to improve any aspect of your organisation, take a step back and think about your audience. In 2012, online video viewers have billions of other things they could be watching instead and for you to produce successful content you need to think about how it’s going to help your customers.

This means turning the rhetoric of traditional TV advertising and corporate film on its head and building your strategy around what your audiences will find genuinely useful, entertaining or interesting. You can’t got out and just “produce a viral video”: the opportunities presented by social video, the ‘viral’ spread effect and content sharing all depend upon having content people are willing to share. You can still spend money on video advertising online, but it will cost more and achieve less than producing content people actually want to watch.

Online video offers marketers an exciting and powerful way of reaching audiences that can be very measurable. Straightened times offer opportunities to try new things, and a well-executed online video strategy can deliver fantastic results. Like most things, getting it right will probably cost more than you think. But your focus has to switch from saying things you or the brand want to say, to saying things your customers will want to watch and hear.

Filed under: online video strategies

Finally, proper Brand Entertainment has arrived in online video


In 2008 Guy Browning and I started a business called Immense Productions. Our vision was to combine the best creative people from big brands with comedy writers from film & TV. With some careful help on the ideas-building front they would produce new and original comedy for the brand to share with its customers.

We had this idea just when someone turned the whole world and its piggy bank upside-down, which was unfortunate. But very fortunately Immense Productions went on to make a charming funny feature film called Tortoise in Love, which is out this summer.

Since then it’s been interesting to see brands explore their use of online video and enjoy the benefits of producing stuff people actually want to watch. This started way back with popular TV ads but in the past few years it’s extended into useful how-to videos, ‘viral’ successes (some of them accidental) and huge amounts of content being produced specifically for online audiences.

A lot of this work still feels very sales-y, or like it was written by the PR department. The final step towards true Brand Entertainment will come when brands put down the product and start to focus on what people actually find useful, interesting or entertaining. Fosters started to do this in their sponsorship of “Original Comedy on Four”. Now they’re one of a few brands taking it all the way online with fosters.co.uk, hosting new and/or previously unseen episodes of comedies like Alan Partridge and the Fast Show.

Making millions of people happy is a great way to boost brand loyalty. And brands are starting to realise they can do this themselves, just as successfully as TV broadcasters.

Filed under: online video strategies, , , ,

How to Measure Your Video


In spite of the proliferation of online analytics packages available, most marketers don‘t realise how much rich, detailed information about their online video can be fed in. Actual data is the only way brands can understand what content their consumers find appealing and even this short article should be able to reveal some of the faculties of online video measurement that are often obscured – or withheld completely.

YouTube has shown us how great video can look on the web, but it’s not shown us the full breadth of fantastic information that can be gleaned about viewers‘ behaviour. Similarly, self-hosted content (i.e. where it‘s put on your web server and pointed to from your site with a free Flash player) will only tell you how many times each video file has been accessed, if you‘re lucky.

Even the most basic of online video platforms should be able to offer you the following data about how your videos are being consumed:

  • View counts by day
  • View counts by hour of the day
  • Views per host site (the different places where the video is available)
  • Duration monitoring for every view on every video (how far through the video people watch and which parts were re-watched the most)
  • Comments and when they were made
  • Social media sharing per video and day
  • Interactivity performance (appearance of ads or clickable regions, click through rate, close rate and crucially, when the ads were clicked)

These basic insights should be the very minimum set of data you look at to make simple assessments about the return on investment of your online video or the  effectiveness of a particular piece of content as an awareness builder.

However it‘s all very well sitting down at your review meeting and remarking at how great it is that 4,362 people watched your video yesterday – but what are you really trying to measure? Video is interactive, and when a viewer or customer does something around a video, it‘s likely to be a choice from several options rather than a simple ‘response‘ that we‘re used to from traditional media measurement. A click is incredibly useful of course, but on its own doesn‘t reveal the extent to which an ad is involving the customer with the brand. Rather than focusing on simplistic measurements like click through rates or video views, you need to look at aspects like engagement rates and duration monitoring too.

If you‘re using online video for retail, look at which products viewers are interested in, not just the raw number of click throughs. Compare people’s browsing behaviour to their buying behaviour by plotting video views throughout the day against purchase volumes – you might find people prefer to browse video in the evenings, but make their actual purchase decisions during lunch breaks the following day. These insights could fundamentally affect the way you organise your website during different times of the day, and when you dispatch outbound marketing messages.

Ensuring you have visibility of your video metrics in the same system as your overall analytics reporting will help you do everything from attribute individual commercial values to each piece of content, to see where video fits into visitors’ overall engagement with your site. A/B testing will help you determine the impact a video is having when inserted at a particular point in the user journey – meaning you can use actual information to improve where in the site customers are presented with video, and what type of content has the biggest impact on conversion.

Filed under: Uncategorized

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