Brainwashing & Helpful

As you can see, I finally figured out what the B & H stands for.

Helpful marketing is a fiendishly clever way of making yourself more important in the lives of your customers.

Businesses are constantly experimenting to achieve this.

B & H, a specialist in photography and video headquartered in New York City, has always led the pack when it comes to being helpful.

Legions of photographers and videographers loyal to the brand regularly beat a path to their premises – and are sometimes left waiting a little longer to snap up their dream purchases since as staunch Hasidic Jews owner Herman Schreiber and many of his employees strictly observe the religious calendar, shuttering the store when you might not necessarily expect it – and are rarely disappointed by the service they receive.

What’s so special now?

The company has been working a lot with KelbyOne of late, broadening their online marketing offering with greater depth of content pandering to their customers’ specific needs, and a deeper understanding of video production values.

This is their latest effort. Not too dissimilar to the gestures of CreativeLive, which happens to be my favourite learning source on the whole internet, this latest foray into helping marketing validates everything I’ve already said about the importance of ‘getting it’ when it comes to listening to your customers, and responding accordingly.

Maximum credit to B and H for getting snuggly in bed with a brilliantly-aligned partner and putting out some seriously evergreen and well-branded content that will have customers eating out of their hands.

The good news gets good-er

The irony here of course – and the lesson for us all – is once you steer your organisation on a course cherishing your customers, it’s rare that you deviate unless some bright spark in marketing starts questioning the value in your helping marketing strategy.

Word of mouth marketing is priceless and in many ways simply to track if you understand how it’s done. Every customer has a story of how they found you, so don’t be afraid to ask them to tell theirs.

Kudos, B & H: this is helping marketing at the top of its game!

Amazing customers

You don’t need to be Ryan Seacrest to command an audience of people who love your work.

Ok, bad example. J-Lo. Showing my age.

Any job can create a spark of excitement in its owner and those who benefit from it.

Take this guy.

And there’s the taxi driver in New York who always gives his punters a sweet ride.

What does it take to deliver the exceptional? A relentless obsession with creating experiences for your customers.

Lessons I learned

  1. Wow is everything – but it needn’t be big gestures. Unexpected wins when it comes to giving your customer communities something a little bit special.
  2. Stand in their shoes. This is a killer tip; you need to put yourself in your customers’ position to best deduce what could give them that purple cow moment. If you can’t visualise being your customer, ask them how you could better your service, and then go one step further.
  3. It’s not about the money, money, money. The guy with the ice cream tricks used nothing but his creativity and some deft moves to go beyond serving and into spectacle. The taxi driver bought a big job lot of sweets, rigged up some disco lights, and gave his rides something they’ll tell all their pals about for years to come. The investment is secondary to the ambience and excitement, which once you’ve decided what to do will slowly become second nature. That’s when you can start surprising yourself as to what you can achieve with the skills you already had.
  4. Everyone loves the small things. Start with something barely detectable. Like the flair bartenders who in their moment of glory pour 12 Martini cocktails simultaneously from their snake of shakers, you have to start at the beginning by learning how to pour a single drink. You can add the flourishes and the finishing touches when you’ve mastered your addendum.

How helping marketing can skyrocket sales

This posted is blatantly plagiarised from LinkedIn, where I posted it in the first place. It’s kind of a test, in that I want to see where I’m best posting stuff of an entrepreneurial nature.

Despite the fact I’ve blogged over 2,000 times this is my breaking of the LinkedIn hymen.

And I figured since this was an auspicious moment, the content should match.

I’m theorising all my years spent in digital marketing have come together to pack a punch so powerful that if you’re not still reading I should work on my introductions and start over.

I’ll start over. With a caveat.

I’m not an analytics guy. I do hunches and suppositions, which mostly have devolved from something real and tangible, actual real-life successes that have given rise to something approaching empirical evidence in my mind.

When I see something that works, I don’t go and interview 5,000 people to check that it’s alright with them. I listen to the source, I learn the principles, and then I share them with you. That’s what I’ve been doing across the web for years. If you’re one of those people obsessed with multivariate testing and sophisticated data mining techniques, you’ve probably been ignoring me all that time.

While I’ve been singularly ignoring all that is theoretical about the rights and wrongs of digital marketing, I’ve been tracking trends and patterns in how businesses and personalities have been building incredible brands rooted in trust and appreciation by giving everything away.

You read that right. The people with the greatest achievements in the digital realm don’t just recognise it as an important component of an overall multichannel marketing strategy: they leverage its astonishing reach by unburdening themselves of all the useful knowledge they’ve amassed throughout their career.

Give it away – give it away, now

There are many reasons to do this, most of which I documented in my spiffing book, Sharing Superheroes. It’s a playbook for modern marketing. People including my mother rated it highly. But I felt like it was a jigsaw puzzle missing a piece.

Since I wrote that about 18 months ago I found the shard. A little like ghee, things have clarified.

Dozens of enterprising individuals have discovered that marketing, in its simplest sense, is helping.

Toast with lashings of butter
Everything’s better with butter.

Think of your business as a dry piece of toast. It’s wholesome and nutritious, but most people aren’t going to eat it up as it is.

Now think of your helping them live more fulfilling lives as a generous dollop of butter. Have you like me been positively affected by spreadable butter (I use Anchor), which you can keep in the fridge yet is always ready for action?

How good is your toast when dripping with butter? Noone can resist it.

Help first, sell second

Helping is one thing, but you’re still running a business. There has to be a trade-off. Unless you’re being funded to selflessly provide help, there has to be money coming through the doors enabling you to be of service.

Which is why the call to action is more important than ever before. People will gobble up your help til the cows come home, but they’re infinitely more malleable to the prospect of interacting with you at a more meaningful level when you’ve shown your trustworthiness by providing help in whatever form works for your audience.

How do you know the kind of help that works?

For the guys at YouTube’s MeandmyGolf channel, they get a steady stream of insight via Twitter into what their target audience wants to know. They take questions from their Twitter fans and convert them into video answers. And the engagement levels are stratospheric.

For the lassies and laddies at Moz, fine purveyors of SEO and suchforth, their in-baked community of eager marketing beavers throw out questions on the website and over time, the most popular are given centre stage at Whiteboard Fridays.

What’s neat about the Moz example is as well as creating a video to watch along, they understand people learn and indulge informationally in different ways. So a large screengrab of the finished whiteboard is provided, together with a complete transcript of the video session.

That’s another important takeaway: understanding the best medium for your audience. In much the same way as you wouldn’t include a social sharing icon from LinkedIn on your All About Crochet website, nor would you use a YouTube video without closed captions or a correspoding transcript on a site helping the hearing impaired.

That all important list…

If you’re fresh to creating a helping marketing strategy, here’s what to do:

  1. Know your customers of today and tomorrow. Those you’re aiming for right now might be different to the customers you aspire to service next year. Much smarter would you be to direct your helping marketing strategy at the needs and likes of your future customer audience than the ones you’re managing right now. Listening and knowing your ideal clients better will unlock a river of ideas to inspire the meat of your helping marketing strategy
  2. Make a plan. When I started podcasting back in 2006 I created shows and after recording a few episodes, hit a roadblock. Poor Planning Prevents P*** Poor Performance – who’s not proved that saying right? Spend much time figuring out the best, most efficient way you can help your customer community and the time you allocate to creating the killer content will be worth its weight in gold.
  3. Do it. Start creating some content that has helping at its heart. Your strategy could begin by developing a set of multimedia FAQs. Start simple. A couple of weeks ago I steamed in to a project with a golf course where I work, all cameras and separate digital audio recorder with lav mic. I relied on my post production abilities to mesh everything together but the software that was designed to sync separate audio and video feeds failed me. Or maybe it was me that failed. Regardless, the lesson here was to not have pretended I was Spielberg and instead focused on delivering the golf tips in the simplest way I could without compromising on impact.
  4. Stick at it. Someone said perseverance is key. They’re right. In much the same way as achieving success is a journey of failures, you need to have confidence that your helping marketing strategy is guiding you and your business towards better days. Validation takes many forms – for starters, it’s never a bad idea to ask customers directly about how your efforts are helping them.

Our opportunity lies in the fact that the internet is inflating like a grotesque balloon, its air the always-growing mass of information. Not even the Brins and Pages of this world can help you find precisely what you want, which is why microcommunities – those places devoted to your specific niche – are starting to gain traction after so many years in the wilderness.

By being the thought leader in those specialised spaces, you can dominate your field. The way to success is by creating and delivering on your helping marketing strategy.

Snap up a FREE marketing masterclass

I have this disease: it’s called commuting. Every day I spend 90 minutes slaloming up and down the north’s uninspiring highways.

Even my bountiful supply of podcasts is rarely enough to drive me anything but spare.

I need to focus my time on things that matter.

Like you.

Steal my time

Hit the target with a free, no-strings marketing masterclass call.
Hit the target with a free, no-strings marketing masterclass call.

Why not capitalise on my seat-warming time to give your business a boost. We can talk about anything to do with marketing, branding, or general business ideas. One thing’s guaranteed – you will get a lot of benefit from our chat.

You just need to click on that Steal my time box to the right.

Or underneath, or whatever, if you’re checking out the mobile version of this website.

All free

I’m not charging you anything. I work for a charity – and I’m a charitable kind of guy. All I ask is that you at least give a shot the practical ideas shared during our call. Because there will be many.

If you’re in the UK

Great news. You’ll at least understand me. And I’ll need your phone number so I can give you a bell.

When I said it’s free, I mean it – you don’t even need to pay for the call!

If you’re not

Leave me your Skype ID and I’ll call you that way. No charge.

Why not?

No ulterior motive to this. I don’t want to add you to a newsletter, and there’s no upsell to a $397 product comprising information you could easily have sourced elsewhere on the web for nothing.

What’s in it for you, Dave?

Nothing worse than being idle. I do my meditation on a mat, so while I could do that in the car, I’d much prefer helping with your modern marketing needs.

Having said that if by chance you teach or are German, or coach singing or simply sing well, I’d love to learn from you. I have this dream about standing on the river bridge in Warnemunde belting out the classics of Engelbert Humperdinck one day.

Get to it!

This could well be the best thing you ever did for your business.

Let’s talk.

What I do for you

Lots of things happening professionally which have resulted in me doing some deep soul-searching to understand what makes me, me in a commercial sense.

What is it about me that’s most saleable? How can I make the greatest difference to your business?

  • I’m a journalist of long standing (in other words, I’m a right old bugger).

I’ve

  • Directed a range of traditional and digital marketing campaigns for a range of multinational organisations.
  • Written two books on building businesses based on a rock-solid foundation of valuable content.
  • As a leading broadcaster in the UK, ambassadored (coming to a Collins dictionary all too soon) the European Podcast Award
  • Hosted a series of web video and radio shows, from a season with Fake Steve Jobs and Hollywood scriptwriter Dan Lyons to helming an educational series on creating impactful web video
  • Headed digital strategies for a major charitable trust in the UK leisure industry

Which makes it pretty clear that my strength and passion lies in creating content and making media that changes consumers’ behaviour in the most positive sense.

The next stage is to work with you

For the time being I’m fully employed so for now I can work with you for free. Whether that means coming up with ideas to revolutionise your business success, or helping you put together a frankly brilliant social media strategy.

Equally if you’re looking for a beyond-enthusiastic presenter or co-host with a proven track record in making people sit up and take notice of your products and services, this might be when fate deals you a winning hand.

Training and coaching is a particular forte of mine. This whole give someone a fish, teach someone to fish analogy is particularly important to me: I can work for you for weeks and months and get the kind of results of which you could previously only have dreamed; or we can grab a day and get your team so entrenched in marketing savvy that the following week you’ll find yourself in a totally clued-up company.

Social media can be a minefield and while we’re all making it up to a large extent as we go along, I do have significant experience in providing Tweeps and Facebook users with the kind of real-time customer service excellence that transitions them from lookers to bookers.

All you need to do is:

Secret: forming habits; repetition

As part of my new mandate for writing only stuff that matters to me in the perhaps misguided belief that another million or so people worldwide will empathise with my thoughts, and therefore I’ll become some kind of torchbearer for the unadventurous, the timid travellers, the just-so folk who want to rebel against everything that is realistically unattainable, I’m here to chat about the biggest lesson I ever learned.

But don’t worry – what you’ve read will be the longest sentence ever published on this blog. I don’t want to punish you for your time spent here. I should in some way reward you. Let me know how I can do that.

Stood over the washing up, and the detritus of a failed attempt by England FC to win something, this morning I realised I wrote in my local paper some moons ago I had this deep-rooted passion to become a jazz singer.

A lazy, can’t-really-be-arsed passion.

Passion is mistakenly interpreted in some quarters as ‘enough to become successful’.

I clearly want very much to sing; I tried playing guitar for years but can no longer do so since my elbow refuses to let me strum without a nagging ache, Maybe an elbow alchemist could solve that problem, but like fretting (there’s a guitar reference in there somewhere) about where to find a builder who can quote on a much-wanted extension, I doubt I’ll ever find the right person.

But I love music. A couple of weeks ago I signed up for a course called Play With Your Music (PWYM) featuring Mr Sledgehammer. It was just before we were heading off on holiday. Here was a real challenge: I fell in love with DJing as I did the same with Anna Kendrick, stardarling of Pitch Perfect. And who better to teach me than Peter Gabriel?!

Fruitcake

Mistaking the shiny, new thing for something I genuinely wanted to learn, I haven’t been back to the PWYM community since. Because there’s nothing there for me.

I’m never going to be a DJ. I love the idea of being one – who doesn’t want to be the messiah in a big, sweaty room of dancing hoodlums? – but I don’t have the tenacity and passion to get me there.

Passion and…

And there’s the missing piece of the jigsaw in completing the hero’s journey to become expert in something for which you have heartfelt passion. Tenacity. Commitment. Willpower.

There’s very little difference between breaking and making habits. If you’re a 40-a-day smoker you need all the help you can muster to kick the deathsticks. No distractions.

If you want to be an epic DJ, jazz singer, magpie charmer, horse whisperer, barbecue teacher, you have to pour your everything into making it happen.

I’m never going to be the jazz singer I envision because heck, I haven’t got it in me to spend an hour or two every day doing drills and becoming a lauded individual in that field. I just cannot. I’m an average guy.

Do it. Do it. Do it! (with meaning)

But to my 10 year old self I would implore the idea of repeating something with conscientious effort, day after day. Playing tennis. Carving steaks. Planting flowers. Discovering new ways of doing old things, joining groups and talking through the way other likeminded people – and other people entirely different, united by a common passion – go about doing their stuff.

For the past six years I’ve had my head buried in this notion that one day I’ll find my true calling and I’ll devote every waking minute to making it happen. But I realised last year this isn’t going to happen, that very few of us apart from those born into a profession or inadvertently finding themselves very excellent at just one thing will ever be presented on a plate with the thing that makes us, us.

It’s as likely as The Secret being useful.

But the next best thing is having the smarts to do the same thing, and variations of, time and again with focus and determination rather than mindlessly by rote.

Aside from basic English and maths, and maybe a sprinkling of common sense and entrepreneurship, that’s the only thing that needs to be taught in schools. We’d all be phenomenal, just like humans were born to be.

Enter title here

I’ve become a hopeless sceptic in the past few months. Hopeless as in poets becoming die-hard romantics. Hopeless as in not wanting to have it any other way.

In past ramblings of a blog nature I’ve always strived for things that don’t really put the me, into me. Mostly relating to things of a technical nature.

For more than 30 years I’ve been chained to computers in one way or another. I figured that I should share what I knew.

But why should that be natural? Why should that be the essential me?

And why, really, does technology matter – in the deeper, spiritual sense?

Unless your first name was Robo, Mr Cop, then really technology is only a facilitator, a means to an end but not the end itself. Not that we always want the end, as readers of my column that used to be in the Southport Visiter might suggest.

I wanted to buy the domain name unadventurous.com. Living joyously on the mild side. Because that’s really who I am, deep down. And I like buying domain names.

But the Twitter profile wasn’t available so I scrapped that.

The internet has taught me to be plenty angry. It’s because everyone lives their dream lives online, and you always strive to match up to this mythical persona that represents noone but the guy with the three cocks and insubstantial mankini you met once on a distorted swing in Second Life.

But it’s accelerated my growing up. Because you couldn’t possibly learn from so many other people’s mistakes in such a short space of time unless we had the world wide web to educate us.

I now loathe everything to do with marketing online. I used to admire many of the folks like Chris Brogan and Gary Vaynerchuk for their endless chutzpah but when you see through the opaque veil it’s clear that making people love you online bears no relevance whatsoever to who you are everywhere else.

I once met an incredible chap who built Solomon’s Castle in Florida. He had achieved so much and lived such a brilliant life yet I don’t believe his hands had ever brushed a keyboard. So fulfilled and enchanted by the tiny things was he, that I wanted to bottle the air he’d breathed to remind myself of what’s important in life every time I fell down a virtual rabbit hole.

Everything in life is moderately pleasing. From the Buddhist’s perspective, nothing we actually do needs to be remarkable since the very art of being should be sufficient to make us content. I kinda party with that. And for the first time since I was 8 I strongly believe I could live with grace and a permagrin without anything electronic to burden the conscience.

Since I couldn’t buy unadventurous.com instead I’m going to use my name to be me. davethackeray.com is going to be a sporadic series of irregular entries possessing all the class of a shut-down school with the panache of Bob Carolgees ballroom dancing with Russell Grant.

I’ll be talking about how I hate walking into pubs on my own, and why the only way to travel round unknown destinations is with a tour guide. I’ll be sharing my feelings on why the only way to live an authentic life is to call BS on how others choose to do it, because they’re not running your race. And I’ll probably find dozens more ways to get on your nerves, too.

And because this is my website and not yours, I doubt there won’t be plenty of photos that mean nothing to you, and recordings of my ridiculous radio shows with similar levels of importance. Maybe other stuff.

You might think I couldn’t be arsed writing a headline for this post. You’d be wrong, and right. The title of this post is a tribute to the incredible folk who made WordPress possible. WordPress is the code that makes this blog possible. Thank you for that.

Learning anything

I created my first website in 1995. That’s darn near 20 years ago.

It was a pedestrian, trudging affair.

Thankfully it is nowhere to be found.

March last year I got a job as web and social media officer. The duties extend far beyond the description, as this modern age invariably demands of us all.

The website of my employer at that time was painfully similar to the first website I ever built. That’s when I realised I really needed to get my game on as a front end web developer.

Web design is like any other skill and occupation: you have to keep on keeping on before you get anywhere.

But herein lies a challenging dichotomy. The world wide web gives us everything on a plate, and so we naturally expect to be able to do anything instantly. Like Smash.

But life doesn’t work that way. To succeed you have to fail, countless times. You need to put in the practice. You need to habit form, to repeat things, to change your mental attitude.

I’m nowhere close to reaching my potential in web development – but that’s because I haven’t given it my all, yet.

I will, and this website will change to reflect that.

But the website and I are not yet ready to be ourselves, publicly.

There is much to be done

Most of us look at experts in their professions and say: “There is no way I’ll ever be as good as they are.”

It’s failure at first blush syndrome. Here’s a secret: That’s exactly what they said when they were starting out.

Read The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell as many times as is required for you to understand it takes thousands and thousands of hours to realise your abilities in any discipline.

And take this to heart:


You might never be who you ought to be, if you don’t try and stay the course. But I guarantee if you dig deep, and hang on in there, you’ll look back days, weeks, months from now and wonder how the hell you got here.

I’ll join you there.

Fresh start

Things are changing round here.

Out with the clutter.

In with only the stuff that matters.

A lungful of fresh air.

Incoming. Brace yourself.