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Thursday, 23 February 2012

Should you be interested in Pinterest?

First there was privacy, or at least a degree of everyone minding their own business. Then came social media, subtly at first with things like friends reunited and then in a great rush of tools to make sure everyone knew everything about your world at the touch of a button. Now there is Pinterest, where pictures speak a thousand words, providing users with virtual pin boards to share their thoughts and ideas.

Although 'just' another social media tool, Pinterest primarily seems to be the new hangout of the creative community. Artists, foodies, photographers, designers, have all rushed to set up their boards and create a feast for the eyes. So if your business is one where visuals matter, it could be worth getting onboard.

Where should you start?

If you visit the Pinterest homepage you will see a big red button “Request an invite.” Click on that button, type in your email address, and soon, you’ll be ready to go.
  1. Create your profile by clicking your name in the top right hand corner. You can then “edit profile” and add your company logo as a picture, with a short summary of your business, and your location (make it easy for potential customers to know who you are and what you do)
  2. Click “Add” and then “Upload a Pin” to add photos from your website or browser. There's an iphone app too which lets you pin on the move
  3. You're ready to start pinning and creating your own boards, with names that create interest and ideally build your brand
  4. Be original in the pictures you post. Each image links back to the website it came from and the description you add to your visuals moves with the picture as its repinned (the main aim)
  5. Think of it as a virtual shop front and arrange your images like a narrative. Make it beautiful and dynamic and don't be afraid to add video as well as static imagery (youtube is a wealth of inspiration)
If you think Pinterest might work for your business then there's no harm in donating an hour investigating the possibilities. As always my advice would be to consider who your audience is and how they might respond to this medium before you put any real time or effort in. Shiny things have a habit of being distracting and my guess is that none of us have fully mastered facebook, twitter or linkedin yet.

There's no doubt that Pinterest has already become a household name in the US and it's only a matter of time before we're all pinning (I'm already hooked.  Find my boards at vlindsaymof3). Cameras at the ready ........

Monday, 20 February 2012

Lessons learned from building my website

1. Never get a puppy the week you're meant to go live. Would you rather stare at those eyes or the computer screen? Point made.

2. No matter how much of a business/marketing whizz you are, you can't beat a proper designer to help you curb your colour experimentation before it's live (you should have seen it before!).

3. Record (audio/visual or written) what you want to say about yourself and your business before you start to build content. Blank pages equal writers block, but having a clear outline of what's important for people to know, will shape whether you need 1 or 10 pages as well as how they appear. Planning is not as exciting as doing, but without it the doing takes a lot, lot longer.

4. Imagine your ideal visitor in as much detail as you can. What will they be looking for? What will turn them on/off in terms of design, tone and content? Build to their taste, not your own.

5. You don't know what you don't know until you start this process. On paper I should have nailed this in a week, in reality, it's taken months, but I've learned so much along the way that it's been worth all the angst.

6. It's not perfect, but isn't life always a work in progress? I'm already picking holes in my new site and driving the web folks mad with my daily questions, but I know this journey will help me to be a more informed voice for my clients and a more understanding critic for the future.

See the results at  All comments welcome, but be gentle and think of the puppy ........

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Virtual love on valentines day

They say a picture speaks a thousand words and this one speaks of virtual love. 
Valentines cards have come a long way and my inner geek rejoices.

Yet this is not only a gimmick, it's a tool which builds the brand. A whole new generation of coffee drinkers, much more techno savvy than the original target audience, now see the brand as caring and sharing and far more than just a hot drink. Are your differentiators this good?

With all this distraction, probably better to order 'extra hot'.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Websites, not as easy as they look

I've had a holding page for a very long time now. Not a website, just a link to my twitter and LinkedIn feeds, but enough to show I'm a real person (sort of). Like one of the cobblers children, I never had time to consider building something for myself, while helping others with their marketing and online adventures.

Then [gawr-juhs] came along and behold, I am soon to be a real entity, with an official site. It's a bit like walking in your first pair of heels - you've seen it all before and it looks easy enough but it takes time to walk gracefully. Despite years of experience I'm finding my own website build much harder than I'd expected.

It's definitely a work in progress, so I thought I'd share my journey and what I've learned so far.

Problem #1
Writing about yourself sucks.
Whether you're a 'solopreneur' or an SME, writing about yourself is tricky and quickly becomes a list of facts and features which might make a CV proud, but will put your customers to sleep.

I had a friend interview me and summarize what she heard. Speaking your answers saves your vocabulary from business speak and helps you perfect your pitch all at the same time.  Genius.  Finding someone supportive to work through this exercise with, is a great way to test your differentiators and discover whether your unique selling points really exist. (I can highly recommend

Problem #2
First impressions count.
You can generally control what you wear, say and do when you meet a new client in person, but online your website or more specifically the page people land on, can be make or break in helping them decide to read on or bounce. You have approximately 3 seconds to make an impact. Eek!

Think about the websites that are most appealing to you. How much of the appeal is visual? Which elements of the layout, look and feel, grab you? Now, imagine your ideal client. Think of them in as much detail as you can. What's likely to turn them on/off? It might help to consider alternative websites they could be visiting, so that you can replicate navigation, location of search and any other key elements. I had an excel sheet with 3 columns - sites I like, why I like them, what level of importance my clients might give them.  If you're part of an SME, it would be worth asking several team members to go through the same exercise.

Problem #3
A perfect website is never live. 
In other words, you can spend months 'tweaking' the finer points and remain invisible to the world in the process, or you can work on a 'good enough' policy and refine in situ.

While your website is an important part of customer perception you can thankfully supplement your efforts via blogging and social media. Remember that different audiences read different media and in my own experience, my RSS feeder regularly delivers information, which lets me by-pass a number of worthy websites.

Good luck to those of you who share my pain .......