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chichomarketing

Straight talking marketing from a team what works too hard but has lots of fun along the way! Websites, marketing strategy, social media, motion graphics and corporate animations for Small Businesses and Start Ups.
chichomarketing has written 32 posts for chichomarketing

The reason why iOS 7 is great

ipad ios7There is one main reason why the latest Apple operating update, iOS7, is great.  It has nothing to do with any of its new features, nothing to do with additional security updates or greater ability to share content between users and accounts.  It is because, quite simply, it makes me feel like I have a brand new iPad.

We live in a world where technology has a very short lifespan.  We have such a throwaway culture that the amount of stuff we waste is staggering.  Everything from unopened foodstuffs that are past a random ‘best before’ date to technologies that cost us hundreds of pounds maybe only 12 months ago (but are now viewed as ‘old hat’ since about 5 newer versions have been launched to the market).

In the UK we buy 18million new mobile handsets a year, and what do we do with the old ones? Well we simply bin them.  Apparently we throw away over 2000 mobile phones EACH HOUR in the UK. Was there anything wrong with these devices? For some yes, but for the main, no.  They were just ‘replaced’ by a faster, cooler looking model. This idea of obsolescence is explored further in this short video, which looks at how the very idea of throwing away technology is actually built in to the design from the very start.

And this is why the iOS7 update is so great.  I am using my iPad and it feels like I’ve just received a brand new device.  But I’ve not had to go through the trauma of selling, recycling or throwing away my old one. So for anyone out there complaining that it’s mostly a cosmetic update, don’t be too quick to disregard the importance that simple cosmetics can have on our world, and the way we perceive it.

 

A book review with a difference: Part 4 (Contagious by Jonah Berger)

What gets one brand talked about more than another?  If you were to compare Walt Disney World with Cheerios for instance, which do you think gets the most tweets each day?  The answer is Cheerios.  Why? Because millions of people are breakfast every day but a trip to Walt Disney is a rare affair.

And this is what you need to keep in mind – the volume of chatter by itself isn’t important.  You need to think about whether you are trying to stimulate immediate word of mouth or ongoing word of mouth.

Immediate WOM tends to be what a lot of PR agencies focus on – it’s about breaking through the noise to be heard by obliterating all other subjects with yours.  E.g. by trending on twitter.  That’s great, but how much impact does it have on your target audience?  Regular exposure to a brand is what makes a difference.  That’s what changes consumer behaviour.  Only rarely will one large event result in lasting change.

This is where triggers come in.  A trigger is when you haven’t had to engineer the situation so that people hear about you.  It happens naturally and, as a result, strengthens the brand relationship so much more.  A great example was the Budweiser ad ‘Wassup’.  Every time their target audience spoke to their friends, it’d start off with a ‘wassup’ which naturally moved into the ad version of extreme Wassups and immediately prompted them to think of Budweiser.  Couple that with the ‘grab a couple of buds’ strapline and you’ve got a killer combo.

It’s triggers like these that can make or break a campaign.  Triggers put particular thoughts or ideas at the top of the mind (p70).  Why is that important? Because accessible thoughts and ideas lead to action.

Getting ongoing word of mouth through regular triggers is seen to be a key ingredient in the recipe for success.  One way that Jonah puts it is to think of small talk.  Most people don’t want to sit there silently, so they root around for something, anything, to say. More often than not, these subjects are something that they’ve just seen or experienced (which is why the weather is always a good failsafe).  A good trigger can be found by thinking about “whether the message will be triggered by the everyday environment of the target audience” (p79).

“Products and ideas also have habitats, or sets of triggers that cause people to think about them.” (p83).  Just try thinking of a corresponding word for each of the following:

Strawberries and…
Bangers and…
Salt and…

Did you say cream, mash and vinegar?  Why?  You could literally have said anything you liked!  Expanding on the first term in that example, every time people think of Strawberries, they also likely think of cream, champagne and Wimbledon.  That gives you three immediate triggers if you’re looking to boost talk around your strawberry brand…

It can be less obvious than that though.  KitKat’s famous ‘have a break’ campaign worked well as it prompted people to remember to take a break, and, when they did, to treat themselves.  And what other treat would you then have but a KitKat?  Same goes for Thank Crunchie it’s Friday.  Or a Finger of Fudge is just enough to give your kids a treat (which was brilliant as it removed all guilt from parents and the kids got some choccie!).

marlboro spoofTriggers can also be things that your competitors are doing.  The book talks about a famous anti-smoking campaign that spoofed the iconic Marlboro ads.  It calls this strategy the “poison parasite” as it injects your message into theirs.  And it’s pretty powerful stuff.

So what makes a good trigger?  Frequency, relevance and action.

In the Cheerios example above frequency was key.  But the strength of the link (i.e. how related the trigger is to your brand/product) is a crucial element, as is being able to act on that trigger as quickly as possible.

Think about a hard hitting ad for a charity that’s on a billboard as you’re driving down a busy street.  It may get you thousands of eyeballs, but they’re not able to do anything about it.  They can’t text to donate or even write down a web address as they’re driving.  Target them in the toilets at the local services though and bam you’ve got them.  Thousands of eyeballs still but with nothing else to look at than your ad.  And recent research says that 75% of people use their mobile in the loo so they can act on it immediately.  This is why the B&BF awareness campaign has been so successful (but they could still do with some more work on their ‘Love Your Gusset‘ facebook campaign…).

In summary:
In all situations, consider the context.  And remember, social currency (see previous posts) may get people talking, but it is the use of triggers that keeps them talking.

Part 5 will look at harnessing Emotion in your communications.

 

Don’t be an egghead

Screen shot 2013-07-09 at 18.00.20Now we’re not commenting on the term ‘egghead’ as slang for clever.  Be as clever as you can!

No.  We’re referring to people’s inability to come out of their shell when it comes to their twitter avatar.  When you join twitter you get a profile.  One of the first things you can (and should!) do when you set up your account is upload an avatar. It can be a picture of you, your logo, your product. Anything that represents YOU.

Remember, you are not an egg.

Other top tips for when you’re setting up your twitter account are:

1) write a description that contains your keywords.  This will make it easier for people to find you

2) DO NOT FOLLOW ANYONE until you have at least 5 tweets under your belt.  Twitter tries to get you to start connecting with people before you start tweeting. But why would they follow back someone when they can’t see what sort of comments/information you are sharing?

3) brand up your background, rather than leaving the generic blue that twitter provides.  The top left hand corner of your background stays fixed and is a good place to push additional brand messages that you can’t fit into your description area (NOTE: only relevant when viewing on a desktop)

4) use the search function to find people who are either tweeting about a particular topic/term/brand or who have that term in their own twitter name

5) and finally, when you are tweeting, remember this is about a conversation, it’s not about shouting out your latest deals.  Find subjects that are trending and join the conversation…with something snappy and under 140 characters!

If you would like some help with your twitter strategy, drop us a line at hello@chicho.co.uk.

 

A book review with a difference: Part 3 (Contagious by Jonah Berger)

In this post we look at the three ways brands can make give people social currency (that is, a way to make them look good) via 1) inner remarkability, 2) game mechanics and 3) making people feel like an insider.

1) Inner Remarkability:
To be remarkable you have to be worthy of remark.  When someone finds out something that is novel, extraordinary or entertaining, it is virtually impossible NOT to pass it on.  You feel like you’re bursting to say it.

This is a trick used well by Snapple.  Already known for its quirkiness as a brand, a cunning chappy at Snapple’s marketing department noticed that the space under the cap wasn’t being used.  What could they put there?  To begin with they tried jokes, but the sort of fell flat as they weren’t that funny (or therefore remarkable).  Then they had the genius idea of putting ‘remarkable’ facts such as ‘#12 Kangaroos can’t walk backwards’ and ‘#73 the average person spends two weeks over his/her lifetime waiting for traffic lights to change’ under the cap instead.  They suddenly had a hit on their hands.  Not only were people finding facts ‘worth of note’, the only intelligible way to drop these facts into conversation was to link it to their Snapple find, thereby including the brand.  (As an aside, the fact that the only way people could access these facts was to first purchase a bottle (and therefore increase Snapple sales) made each person an insider as well – see section below).

The remarkability of something also links to the viral potential it has.  This is because remarkability shapes how stories evolve over time.  As the story is passed on, the remarkable elements become more remarkable and the less remarkable elements start to get dropped. So what you end up with is a truly remarkable story.  Or, in some cases, an urban myth.

Jonah has also found that stories become more extreme of entertaining particularly when people tell them in front of a group.  And what ‘group’ could be bigger than the twittersphere?

So how do you uncover your inner remarkability?  Jonah suggests finding something that makes your brand “interesting, surprising, or novel.” p42.

Surprise is a particularly good one here, as you perhaps have more control over that.  If your brand is generic (and therefore lacking particular interest or novelty) you can still create surprise.  The example Jonah uses is of the airline carrier JetBlue.  Despite being a low cost carrier, JetBlue gives you a pretty first class experience, with large seats, free TV programming from your seat, and a choice of snacks.  Here JetBlue had the control over how they made the customer experience remarkable.

Take a different sector such as accountancy.  Accountants are, in the main, viewed as grey, boring creatures.  You come across the occasional one that claims to be more ‘hip’ than the rest but they come across more like your Uncle who cracks the bad jokes or who wears the novelty tie to show he’s got a sense of humour, than someone who is really comfortable dealing with anything other than a neat spreadsheet.

So how could an accountant become remarkable?  Off the top of my head they could stage a rock concert at the local park.  Or they could take up rock climbing and organise a big climb for charity.  That would counter the ‘grey’ element.

Another way would be to look at how people engage with an accountant.  So much of what they do is number related, jargon filled and inaccessible that you’d have to be an accountant to understand it.  They also tend to talk about tax like it’s a good thing too, when that three letter word tends to drive fear into the heart of any businessman.

Why not shake up the way they talk about what they do and what you get?  Talk about the end result (ie more profit for the business rather than “we are well placed to advise you of the best tax position you could be in.” (yes that is an actual line from an actual website).  Well the best position to be in is for the taxman to simple not exist!  Basically you’re talking about whether I want to be stood in the mud or up to my eyes in a bog.  Where’s the positive?  Exactly.  Where is the positive?  Find it and you might start to be remarkable.  Save a company £1m in under 5 years?  That sounds pretty good.  Save a company £1m in under 5 years just by rearranging a few things?  That sounds pretty remarkable. It sounds simple, not complicated.  And yes I’d be interested in talking to them.

2) Leverage game mechanics:
The second way to generate social currency is to get into the gaming mindset.  The best example of this is airline frequent flier programmes.  Users generate airmiles for the travel they do.  The more miles they have the bigger the perks.  The nice trick is that you have to hit a certain level to progress to the next stage.  It’s a bit like how gold cards used to be.  If you had a gold card you’d earned it by having a good salary and basically buying lots.  Now you get Gold status on your Frequent Flier miles.  Or Platinum, or Silver, or Bronze…you get the idea.

Each level though is quite public as you get access to particular airport lounges or upgrades.  Anyone travelling with you, or talking to you about your travels, will be aware of which perks you have and therefore what status you have achieved.

In other words, frequent flier programmes generate social status and therefore social currency.

How does this help brands?  Well, the core of it is the ability to upsell together with the chance to create a loyal customer base.

Say you need to travel to Dubai.  A number of airlines will take you there. But you are a frequent flier member with Emirates.  Even though another carrier could take you there for less money you are more likely to consider the ‘perks’ you get by upping your miles with that one carrier.  That generates loyalty.

The upsell is the clever bit though (in my opinion) as, if you don’t keep up your miles you lose your privileges.  What does that mean? It means that people will buy MORE flights with you just to keep up their status level.  I know people who have booked flights they’ve not taken just to keep their miles up.  I know someone who travelled halfway around the world in the wrong direction before getting to their destination just because they needed to top up their airmiles.  It’s a game.  You want to reach the next level, stay there and be able to look down on all your friends.

This is an example of good game mechanics.  You want to keep people engaged, motivated and always wanting more.  Companies such as Foursquare have built their brands using game mechanics.  But everyone can include some game mechanics in their business.  A cafe offering a free cup of coffee once you bought 10 is using game mechanics.  Giving people the chance to win a prize by collecting points is participating in game mechanics.

Jonah uses a fascinating (some may say ‘remarkable’!) story to highlight game mechanics in relation to our social currency and status.  He cites a study by Harvard University where students were asked to make a “seemingly straightforward choice: which would they prefer, a job where they made $50,000 a year (option A) or one where they made $100,000 a year (option B)?  Seems like a no-brainer, right? Everyone should take option B,.  But there was one catch.  In option A, the students would get paid twice as much as the others, who would only get $25,000.  In option B, they would get paid half as much as others, who would get $200,000.  So option B would make the students more money overall, but they would be doing worse than others around them.  What did the majority of people choose?  Option A.” p46/7

That’s quite a shocking result, but it tells us one important thing – people care about how they are performing in relation to others. And this is critical to how you incorporate game mechanics into your brand.

3: Make people feel like insiders:The third aspect of social currency is basically being in on the secret.  The bar ‘Please Don’t Tell’ which we mentioned in Part 2 of this review is a good example of this.  Others include flash sales, pop up restaurants, limited time deals for members etc.  All of these have certain elements in common – you have to be in the know to be aware of them and, even when you are aware of them, you may have limited time to take advantage.  Secrecy and urgency underpin the insider mentality.

Jonah uses the online bargain sales site Rue La La as an example of this (p51).  The site was basically a remake of SmartBargains.com, a discount shopping website.  It did well, while SmartBargains didn’t.  Why?

Well, when SmartBargains was first launched there was a lot of customer excitement about it.  After all you could get designer items for up to 75% less than the retail price (what a ‘remarkable’ fact!).  However, after a couple of years interest waned.  Other sites were popping up and SmartBargains didn’t have a way to differentiate itself.

So the CEO, Ben Fischman, set up Rue La La.  Rue La La did exactly the same thing as SmartBargains but with one crucial difference.  It focused on flash sales.  People had a limited time to make a purchase (something that shopping TV channels are very good at).  And here’s the crunch.  Access was only by invitation only. And you could only be invited by an existing member.

The site went stellar and gave Fischman a $350m payout when he sold it (together with SmartBargains) in 2009.

Why did Rue La La become so successful when it did the same thing as SmartBargains?  Because it made the users feel like insiders.  And they used this status as ‘social currency’ amongst their friends.  By being in the know about Rue La La they could give their friends access to the same deals.  How cool is that?

So what have we learnt?

1) focus on the remarkable angle of what you have, and put people in a position to pass it on, ideally in a group context.

2) get people ‘playing’ and, most importantly, playing against their peers

3) create scarcity and exclusivity to make customers feel special, but with a way to pass on the love to their friends.

And here endeth part 3.  In Part 4 we’ll look at the second of Jonah Berger’s 6 ‘STEPPS’ to being contagious – Triggers.

A book review with a difference: Part 2 (Contagious by Jonah Berger)

The first of Jonah’s 6 viral STEPPS is Social Currency.  Put simply, it’s the stuff that makes you look good/clever/trendy/cool when you share it.  It buys you respect/admiration/love etc.

In this section of the book we are introduced (ironically) to a secret bar in New York called ‘Please Don’t Tell‘.  It’s hidden away in a small hot dog restaurant and is only accessible via a 1930s telephone box if you dial the old analogue phone.  Oh and only if you managed to book a table, on that day, in the 30 minute slot you have before everything is gone.

Apart from the fact that getting a reservation is incredibly difficult, the way you enter the bar is remarkable.  It’s an experience before you even get inside.  And this is the point.  The bar is incredibly successful because it has made everything about the experience remarkable. And people WANT to share this.  This is social currency. Or as Jonah puts it:

“People share things that make them look good to others.” p33

This social sharing is an intrinsic part of our human nature.  When we’re kids we do a drawing and immediately want to share it with others (Look Mummy!).  Apparently, ‘self-sharing’ follows us throughout out lives. We happily tell friends and family what bargains we picked up at the shops, where we’ve been on holiday, or pass on an interesting article we read in a paper.  Social media has taken this self sharing to the next level. To the point where it is getting addictive.

Jonah points out that: “research finds that more than 40 percent of what people talk about is their personal experiences or personal relationships.”

And why is this?  It’s more than just vanity it seems, we are “actually wired to find it pleasurable”. p33.

Neuroscientists from Harvard have found that the same brain circuits that respond to rewards such as food and money, light up when sharing their opinions and attitudes.

Not surprisingly, people prefer to share things that them seem more entertaining, clever or cool.  Jonah refers to word of mouth as being “as potent as that new car or Prada handbag” p36.  It’s a kind of currency – a currency that buys you a more positive impression amongst your peers.

For brands and companies the trick therefore is to:“give people a way to make themeslves look good while promoting [the brand’s] products and ideas along the way.  There are three ways to do that: (1) find inner remarkability; (2) leverage game mechanics; and (3) make people feel like insiders.” p36

We’ll touch on these three in Part 3 of our book review!

A book review with a difference: Contagious by Jonah Berger (Part One)

Ok so this is a book review, of a book, called Contagious.  So far so simple.

So where’s the difference?

Well, I’m going to be writing and updating the review as I read the book.  Rather than provide an overview of my thoughts at the end, I’m instead going to be picking out key elements that I find interesting along the way.  I’ll even reference the page numbers so they are easy to find should you decide I’m not reading it fast enough for you and you want to take it on yourself!

So here goes Part 1:

We plunge into it with the $100 cheesesteak.  What a great way to start a book!  This intro is indicative of Jonah’s easy writing style, meaning that, unlike many other social media marketing books (which is, in essence what this is about), it’s very easy to get into.  The book is as engaging and entertaining as your social media should be.

One of the first areas he deals with is ‘Social transmission’ ie the act of sharing information word of mouth.  Jonah points out that most people ignore the importance of offline word of mouth (p12) – think watercooler moments, chatting on the phone, catching up over coffee.  Apparently only 7% of word of mouth takes place online (p10).  How has that been measured you might ask?  Well you’d need to ask the Keller Fay Group that as they did the research.

Next Jonah talks about what makes people want to pass on a piece of info/titbit? ie how does some stuff go viral?  A lot of ‘experts’ will tell you that it’s down to chance and that it’s impossible to predict.  Or that certain traits will make content more shareable, e.g. cute cats or humour.  Jonah disagrees, with a pretty compelling point that these theories:

“…ignore the fact that many funny or cute videos never take off.  Sure, some cat clips get millions of views, but those are the outliers, not the norm.  Most get less than a few dozen.” p 14

(btw he points out earlier that only 0.33% of YouTube videos have over 1 million views.  50% have less than 500 views each p12).

So just what does make some content (or cats) more shareable than others?

Jonah uses the Blendtec example as one way to do it (click here if you’ve not seen the Will It Blend series, this particular one with an iPhone still makes me cringe!).  Blendtec made something that is considered boring and normal to be utterly remarkable.

And remarkable is the key word here. It’s a theme that will run throughout all social media chatter. The more remarkable you can show something is, the more likely it is to be shared.  That isn’t the only factor though. Jonah has identified 6 steps to virality called STEPPS (p22). They are:

  • Social Currency
  • Triggers
  • Emotion
  • Public
  • Practical Value
  • Stories

He will assess each of these in different chapters of the book. And that is where I’ll leave it for now.  I am very excited about reading on.  And as soon as I get my next lunch break I will!

Video will do NOTHING for your business

You’ll see many a practitioner coming out of the woodwork (or the darkroom) trying to tell you that the one thing your business is lacking is video.

They’ll tell you that you can easily connect with your audience. That you can sell a complex story or concept in 60 seconds or less. That you’ll keep your audience engaged much more than the written word can.

Well it’s a load of tosh. I mean just look at the first tv commercials that launched back in the 50s. Did housewives across the country rush out and buy that amazing laundry detergent just because a smiling woman in a lovely dress said it made her clothes whiter? Er, well yes.

Well how about the fake Gold Blend ‘romance‘ that had us all riveted for years just to see if a pair of actors would finally ‘get together’? Ah…

Fine, well, how about that classic moment when Bill Clinton uttered the immortal words “I did not have sexual relations with that woman”. I mean its not as if that has stuck around in people’s memories.

You see? People across the decades haven’t bought a single product, made a single emotional connection with a brand or had a single piece of video indelibly burnt into their memories so that its like watching it for real when they think back over it, even years later (finger of fudge anyone?).

So video is useless for your business. What you need is a way to engage with people, to stand out from the crowd, to quickly convey your message in such a way that people ‘get it’ enough to delve deeper, or better still, tell all their friends about it.

And don’t get me on to animation. How on earth anyone thought that an animated sequence could have any emotional buy in or impact should head to the looney tunes…er I mean looney bin. The next thing you’ll be telling me is that you thought Jessica Rabbit was hot.

So I feel I’ve made my point. That’s all folks!

How to create a good AURA for your business

No I’m not going all hippy on you here (although I am quite hippy at heart).  What we’re talking about here is a way to think about how to market your business.  It’s a simple acronym – AURA.  And this is how it breaks down:

A: To raise the profile of you and your business people need to be AWARE of you.  This is why you create websites, start social media profiles, get ranked on Google, go to networking events etc.  You want to pop up on people’s radars.

U: Once they are aware of you, they need to UNDERSTAND what it is that you do or offer.  This is where you get into more detail.  This is where you focus on what your key messages are, ie ways to communicate what you do in more depth but concisely enough to cut through the noise and help people to ‘get it’. 

R: Understanding what you do isn’t enough.  Your prospective customers need to see how RELEVANT it is to them.  This is why you turn what you do on it’s head and start communicating the relevance/benefits to your customers of what you do.  E.g. you may have a great new piece of software you want to sell.  Rather than go on about how wonderful your product is and all the technical specifications, take a moment to think about the impact that this will have on your customers.  Once they get that, then you are one step away from a sale.

A: the final letter is for ADVOCACY.  Once you have made people aware of you, understand what you do and how relevant that is to them, you want to turn them into advocates for your company/service/offering EVEN IF they’ve not actually used you!  This is where marketing gets much more fun.  It’s about establishing relationships.  Once you have good relationships in place then word about what you do and who you are will spread (taking you neatly back to the A and U part of the acronym) and the whole process will start again, bringing you into contact with an ever spiralling number of people.

For more info on how to create a good AURA that is specific to your business, please do get in touch. We offer a free initial consultation to talk through your own challenges and questions.  Email us at hello@chicho.co.uk or visit us as http://www.chicho.co.uk

Top 10 LinkedIn tips for businesses

LinkedIn has become the de facto online business networking tool.  It’s pretty unbelievable when you think that there is this (free!) resource that lets you connect to pretty much any other business in the world (or close enough with 200M members worldwide, and 11M in the UK alone).

LinkedIn has recently been rolling out various new updates to its look and the way that people can use it.  Some are bad (in my opinion) such as getting rid of the Q&A section, which was a great resource for asking for help and advice from the business community.

Others are pretty good, such as being able to add videos and slideshows to your profile.

We touched on these, and more, at a recent LinkedIn workshop that I held.  As a result, I was asked to do a Top Ten Tips for small businesses using LinkedIn. So here we go!

1. Use company pages: many small business owners have more than one ‘hat’ on at any time, with multiple businesses or business positions (such as non-exec roles) that they hold.  Being able to cover the range of activity in a short descriptor on your profile or even in your summary section can be difficult.  Instead, you can create a (free) company page for each of your companies and link to those, both in your summary and in your Work Experience sections.  This lets you talk about the specifics of each business.  You can then direct people towards the relevant Company page on your business cards rather than just to your personal profile

2. Be personal with your profile: too many people use their personal profile as a way to push their business.  That’s not what it’s for.  This is YOUR profile!  The descriptor and Summary sections are the most important as these are what people see first.  Write them from your own perspective.  How do you approach business?  What are your values?  Why are you interesting? People buy from people.  Your personal profile should refer to what you do, but it’s mostly about you and how you do it.

3. Smile. With tip number 2 in mind, make sure that your LinkedIn photo represents you in business.  Again reflecting your approach. If you want to be seen as approachable, professional and capable, then a confident smiling photo with you in your business attire will convey that.  If you have a picture of you from holiday chilling out with a cocktail by the pool, then it’s quite clear that that is what you’d rather be doing.  I see a lot of people (unfortunately mostly females in marketing for some reason!) who put ‘sexy’ looking photos up there.  Seriously.  LinkedIn isn’t about your dating life, it’s about your business life.  And frankly it doesn’t help the cause of female emancipation in the workplace.

4. Be specific about what you do: Focusing back on the company page now, there is a great tab called ‘Products & Services’.  This is where you can add in (you’ve got it!) all services and/or products that you offer.  Remember that people like to buy a distinct package rather than a vague service, as it’s easier for them to understand what they are getting.  So ‘package’ up what you do, and add in a separate section for each product/service.  You get to add in a photo for each, a pretty decent description, category words, a direct link to a contact at the company to speak to about that service, a website link AND a video!  It’s more than most websites have about their offering, and it’s free. You can also add in beautiful graphic slideshows for your key offerings to visually show what you do/offer, which link directly to your URL of choice.

5. Target your offering: What most people don’t realise is that you can ensure that your products and services on show are displayed differently to different audiences.  So, say you had a particular product that was very suited to the US market, but not any other region, or to a particular business sector.  Via the Products & Services tab you can decide which products/services are seen, filtered by where the person is viewing the page.  It’s a little difficult to cover on one little Tip, but it’s easy to play with as it’s right at the top of the Products & Services section when you go to edit the page.

6. Get your business recommended: Each product/service can be recommended separately.  So once you have created your distinct offerings, go back to your current and previous customers, send them the specific link and ask them to recommend you.  The more recommendations you have, the more clear it is how good you are at delivering a certain type of work.

7. Get graphic: LinkedIn used to be a very ‘wordy’ resource (and still is to a major extent) but they are adding in all sorts of ways to use images, video and other documents to liven it up.  For instance they are rolling out the ability to add in videos and slideshows to your summary section (on your personal profile), as well as to each work experience section.  So the Tip here?  Get creative and start making short videos on what you do.  The summary section in particular is a great place to do a 30-60 second intro to you and your approach to business.  It gives people looking to connect with you an immediate first impression that YOU ARE IN CONTROL OF.  Great if you are nervous about meeting people for the first time.  Video itself can be scary, we understand that, but it’s the future, so get in now, get comfortable with it now and you’ll be way ahead of the game.

8. Show results: A tool that is not yet available on the company page, but is on your personal profile, is the ability to add in latest Projects. This is where you can talk about a recent job or customer, what you did and what the result was.  You can also say how long it took and who worked with you on the project (a great way to show the strength of your team).  The project title can link to any URL you like.  In other words you can use it as a real time case study and PROOF on what you say you can do in your profile.

9. Show an interest: On your personal profile you can add in a range of interests.  This is increasingly becoming a way that people ‘filter’ those that they want to connect with.  A shared interest (fishing, reading, snowboarding, cars….) is a great ice breaker and it also gives a feel for the sort of person that you are.  With that in mind, don’t try and be someone you’re not!  Be honest about who you are and what your approach to life (and business) is and you’ll start to see more rewarding relationships forming.

10. Talk: This is the final tip (as it’s a top ten list!) but there are many more ways and ideas for using LinkedIn, from how you connect with new people to arranging meetings, and generally get business.  The Tips in this blog have focused on how to best present and ‘broadcast’ yourself on LinkedIn. My final tip therefore turns this on its head.  Once you are in the best possible ‘presentation level’ it’s time to get out there!  Start connecting with relevant groups, choose 2 that you will actively contribute to.  Start discussions, post updates (on both your company page and your personal profile). Comment on other people’s discussions.  Start connecting with people who are in these groups, who have commented on your discussions who you find interesting.  In other words get introduced and get talking.  What’s the next step after that? It’s time to go retro.  Yes, you have to take things offline and meet them in real life.  This is when the real business starts.  LinkedIn is great at getting you connected but don’t expect it to result in business deals immediately.  Think of it as an introducer, where you’ve put yourself and your business across in the best possible way, creating an excellent ‘first’ impression before you even meet someone for a real life first impression.  From there it’s down to you and your own business skills.

I hope these tips were useful!  If you want to talk more about LinkedIn, or generally about how best to market yourself, get in touch at hello@chicho.co.uk or visit http://www.chicho.co.uk.  We also offer a full review of your current LinkedIn profile (and company page) for just £25+VAT.

Do you have employees that you never knew about?

Who works for you?You might think that’s a strange question, but according to LinkedIn I discovered that I had an ’employee’ in Iraq who worked for me.

Of course they didn’t but it did highlight something about LinkedIn that I’d never thought about before.  When you add your employment details, you add in the company name and, if that company is found on LinkedIn, it automatically links you as an employee and displays your logo on their profile.

Now it could have been a mistake, but for some reason I don’t think it was in this case.  So how did I get rid of him?  Not easily.  I had to write to LinkedIn at their resolution centre and then wait a week for them to look into it and take him off.

Now what could some achieve in a week (or longer if no-one spots them)? We use LinkedIn to check on people’s histories and experience. It’s an online CV in most cases.  So how easy is it to pretend that you worked for a major company?  Very.  As how likely/possible is it for someone such as Dell or Shell to check that all the ’employees’ listed are real?

Add that to the fact that so many people now accept a LinkedIn connection without giving it much thought and it’s easy for someone to build a fake career for themselves.  It’s also easier to connect with others at the same company.  And then get endorsed for their skills.

Just a thought.  But also a reminder that just because something is online, it doesn’t mean that it is true.

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