Managing people can be a minefield that's difficult to navigate, a fine balance between making decisions that are good for business and maintaining a happy equilibrium across different personalities. I've seen both the good and bad sides of the job - supporting team members to develop skills in a particular area so they can move into their dream job on a permanent basis; leading a team through organisational change; and tackling performance issues in individuals that were having a detrimental effect on the whole department. I've learnt one thing: the success of a team doesn't happen by accident - it's the result of excellent leadership, careful management and nurturing of individual skills and talents.
Finding the right work-life balance, flexible working and equal parenting are all hot topics right now. Just the other day Owen Jones published a piece in The Guardian arguing that we should all be working a four day week, and the #flexappeal campaign, calling for more flexible working for parents, has taken the social media sphere by storm.
This is all very timely for me as I prepare to finish my maternity leave, hand over full-time parenting responsibilities to my husband and return to work. This time around, I will be going back to a full-time senior management position, and reflecting on how to balance my own needs, career aspirations and job satisfaction with those of my family has led me to uncover a few surprising truths about juggling work and home life.
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of helping a friend exhibit his work at Maker Faire UK. For those of you not familiar with the Make movement, the concept is indisputably brilliant - a community of inventive, creative, ingenious people who come together to share ideas, collaborate, and learn from each other to take their projects to the next level. Cleverly marketed as "the greatest show and tell on earth", maker faires are a global phenomenon - and being there, I realised just how right they've got it, and how there's so much we can learn from the makers to bring the marketing world to life.
A few days ago I read a Facebook post from someone criticising the marketing world's ability to rename something as old as time and sell it as new and innovative. To be specific, they were talking about influencer marketing. Or word of mouth, in their view.
That got me thinking about influencer marketing and what it really is. Because done properly, it isn't just word of mouth - it's strategic, it's a step up from relying on word of mouth, which we have little control over. It's taking traditional word of mouth to the next level. It's smart.
In the marketing world there’s lots of talk about return on investment (ROI), quantifiable data and how to demonstrate that the marketing you’re paying for is getting results. Is our advertising converting to sales? Can we justify the cost of a social media manager? How can you tell if your email marketing strategy is really successful?
We bang on about open rates, click-through rates and click-to-open rates, but is this what really matters? In my opinion, the answer is no. What we should really be looking at to measure success is customer engagement. It’s not highly scientific, it’s fairly subjective, but it gives you a real understanding of your customers – and insight that you can use to create even better, more personalised, more targeted marketing campaigns.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is old news - the practice of designing a website in a way that influences how it appears in search rankings has been around since the first Google algorithm was released in 1997 (the PageRank calculator). Since then, search has become more and more sophisticated, and search engines are constantly revising and updating their algorithms to match users' expectations of the information they want to find. So if you want your website to come out on top, you need to change your approach to SEO just as frequently as Google changes its algorithm.
For most small businesses venturing into social media, Twitter and Facebook are the places to be. However, as a freelancer, consultant, or professional looking for a new opportunity in any industry, LinkedIn can be invaluable. They say it's not about what you know, it's about WHO you know - and in the world of work, that is LinkedIn's sole purpose. But how do you make sure your profile is getting attention?
Nowadays, for most businesses social media isn't optional - if you can't be found in the social media space then you're likely to have trouble gaining new customers and making your brand known in your key markets. If you're a small business just starting out in social media, or you've only used Facebook to connect with old school friends, then venturing into social media for business can be a frightening prospect. Here are my five top tips to get you started.
Most of my clients are small businesses or start ups that need help to reach new clients, and want to know how to make sure their marketing activity does that. In my experience, the secret to successfully growing your business can be explained in just one word...
Lots of small businesses I talk to know that they need support to promote their brand - but they don't know what that looks like. They get confused about the difference between marketing, PR, advertising and sales and want to better understand what is right for their business and where to put their money. Sound familiar? Read on for a quick guide.
Claire Spendley, freelance creative, coffee drinker, helping small businesses to punch above their weight when it comes to marketing and communications.