Publish and be damned…

Newspaper press running through rollersSo said Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, when the courtesan Harriette Wilson threatened to publish her memoirs and his letters.

Well last month I did publish a book.  Not one that you would be interested in as it was a yearbook for my daughter’s classmates at school, but the process indicates just how far as an individual you can divorce yourself from mainstream business.

With a pretty good knowledge of page layout on Word, a few hints and tips from the publishing website, and a quick trawl of other people’s efforts online, I was able to create 64 pages of homage to the 60ish 11 year olds in her year.  I managed to convert it to a pdf file and after a few attempts load it to the website.  I used a wizard to create the cover and hey presto it was done.

I ordered one and 8 days later, a hard copy that wouldn’t look out of place on a bookstore shelf arrived through the post from the US where the website I used originated and the printing took place. Amazing.  Even more incredible was that if the book had been commercial I could have assigned it an ISBN number and had it listed on Amazon just by checking 2 extra buttons.

Which got me thinking.  Here is yet another business where the customer is taking control.  Suppose you think you have a great novel, you can write it, employ a freelance editor to go through it for you, typeset it and publish it without ever having to go through the angst of trying to get an agent and a publishing deal.

Yes the professionalism and marketing clout these guys will give you is impressive, but there are books that started small, got picked up by someone online and suddenly they are big hits.  And lots of publishers these days seem to think that all people who read books are interested in are the hurriedly written biographies of minor celebrities or teenage footballers.

With online technology delivering so much across geographical boundaries, it is so important for companies to change the way they market themselves and do business, particularly in the B2B publishing and events sector.  Doing the same thing they have always done is simply not enough, because some of us are already doing it someplace else.

hellen @mission control

What Tribe are you?

Collective drummingMasai. Ona. Inuit. Chibcha. Iroquois. Gurage. Aborigine.  Are these the names that come to mind when you think of a tribe?

Anthropologists use the term to refer to societies organised largely on the basis of kinship and more recently commentators are using it to explain the phenomenal growth of social networking.

As human beings we are pre-programmed to belong.  We like being part of a crowd.  There is comfort in concensus.  It’s good to know that we are not alone.

What new technology has given us is the ability to ‘multi-tribe’.  To connect not only with our current work colleagues, but with ones that have moved on but retained an interest in the same area as us, and with peers who face similar challenges to us in their day-to-day working lives.  It enables us to join forces with others who share our passion for a cause, or a sports team or a particular entertainer.

What drives the tribe are the leaders and the creators, the individuals who are prepared to step out from the crowd to declare their interest and their point of view.  In business these are the people who make or spot a trend and are willing to make the first move.  If they have read the signs well they will be followed by the early adopters who will begin to create the groundswell that will altimately draw in the crowds.

The question is…  Are you a leader, someone who is driving the agenda, manoeuvring your message and your marketing strategy to attract clients and customers to your tribe?  Or are you one of the crowd?

I know which one I would rather be.

hellen @missioncontrol

Chicken or egg?

Chicken and eggWhat comes first – the problem that needs the technological solution or the technology that provides an innovative solution you couldn’t have imagined before it arrived?

Unlike medical research, where scientists are looking for a specific remedy for a relatively well defined condition, with clear protocols and clinical trial proceedures, new ideas for business often happen incrementally.

But in the last two years there has been a major paradigm shift in the way clients and customers interact with the organisations that supply them.  Where once they were passive recipients of marketing messages, customer service and product development now they can comment, praise and condemn to an audience of millions should they choose to do so.

The difficulty for the organisations at the receiving (rather than the delivering) end is how to listen and react to this phenomenon and, more importantly, to harness it to grow and enhance their day-to-day business.

Fortunately, just as networking sites, wikis and user groups have created this phenomenon, new technologies in the form of virtual experience platforms, collaborative meeting software and independent broadcast media will enable companies to embrace the power of incoming marketing to create powerful networks of their own.  Which will require a significant shift in strategic thinking since the inputs won’t necessarily match up to the forecast.

Organisations that are able to engage with their audiences, respond and react will be the winners in this new world of communication and marketing.

Getting connected

Linked chains

con·nec·tive  (k-nktv)
adj. Serving or tending to connect.
n. One that connects.

Clever organisations are already engaging in connective marketing: joining all of their activities together into a seamless strategy that encompasses all of their internal, online, mainstream media and live communications.

It’s such a simple idea that it’s hard to understand why it is such a new concept.  Why is bringing all this activity together so difficult?

Perhaps it is because events are often seen as an adjunct to, or separate from, the main marketing activity, or that online is so sophisticated that it can only be handled by a specialist agency.

But technological advances mean that this is no longer the case.  Platforms that enable live events to be knitted into the very fabric of online activity are now available; social media can be tied into conferences and disparate workforces bought together to exchange ideas and proffer solutions.

Creating connections has never been easier.

Virtual has been reality for ages

Flight simulatorsChanging attitudes is hard.  Particularly when people believe that what you are talking about could really shake up the status quo.

When we talk about how groundbreaking technology can fundamentally change business practices we get a variety of responses:

  • Event management companies look at the virtual technologies, compare them with their live offering and are generally dismissive, despite results from our recent survey saying that 80% of event directors/managers/organisers think that virtual events represent a real opportunity for the events industry.
  • Corporates who are already using or building different forms of virtual communication technologies can’t quite believe that the technology is as advanced as it is, and are entused by its simplicity and capabilities.
  • Business leaders listen politely, technology isn’t their thing, then they suddenly realise just what can be delivered across their entire enterprise.

Virtual events and connective marketing are not just concepts.  They are business changing reality and they are available right now.

People have been doing things virtually for a very long time already: from pilots trained in flight simulators to buying your train tickets online; building virtual farms on Facebook to checking out health symptoms on NHS Direct; we don’t even question the process.  Twenty years ago the insurance agent came to your house to arrange your car insurance, now you gocompare. Was that so hard?

It’s time to embrace virtual technologies to create collaborative communities that make a real difference to the way the world does business.