From a business perspective, 2016 has been an eventful year, to say the least. In fact, the past few years have been very busy. Three years to the day I was working on my computer and on my blog preparing to launch my new company. New isn’t the right term. Visionary Marketing was created in 1995. Out of frustration and seeing how managers were being downsized regardless of their abilities. I then decided to use this new tool one called the Internet (in those days people referred to it as the information superhighway) to sell my wares.
As I tried to post my CV online and quickly realised that nothing good would happen if I continued to do that, I turned the website around, changed its content and theme to match that of a 100 page report I had written and rebranded it to match the name of the report. Half a year later, I bought a domain name and attached it to the Website.
The site may have changed platforms a few times but it has always been there to support my work. I used it to do research, to publish my work, to network, and evangelise. Eventually, I never had to search for a job anymore. People started to call me. I wasn’t fired from Unisys. In actual fact it went the other round, I resigned twice. Once to leave France and get back to Britain. But they wouldn’t let me go and I got an expat package instead. Even though that was deemed impossible at the time. The Website had made me visible and desirable. I went on updating it. And I resigned a second time to join Capgemini for whom I worked in Lebanon and China and France.
I went on updating my website. It got me another job outside of Capgemini and I joined Orange (France Telecom as it was called at the time). The Website got me that job and I never ceased to update it. In 2004 an Orange colleague advised me to move to blogs. I didn’t suppress the Website but went on to build blogs – this blog is one of them – on top of the Website. I was right not to do away with the site, that was visionary too.
4 visions of innovation with Censhare’s Dieter Reichert
Innovation is on everyone’s lips except that what we see is hardly what we get. For innovation is, primarily, a matter of vision. Technology is nice and it travels fast, but what is it to us who can understand so little about it? It’s as if we, modern day Frankensteins, had invented new creatures and as they come to life, we barely understand what is going on. As the frightful Swiss in awe with his newborn wretch, we run around like headless chickens, trying to embrace these new technological objects of ours or merely trying to survive them. What if the answer were in the hands of the Indians of an obscure tribe in a Mexican desert? I tried to find out while interviewing Dieter Reichert, CEO and founder of Censhare, a worldwide software house set to redesign the way we handle information. And God knows there is a dire need for this.
Dieter came to visit me some time ago. We had decided I would interview him about software and we came to talk about his background and experience. Talking with entrepreneurs is always a fascinating experience. One gets to understand how they innovate, how they lead their business in their daily lives, how they overcome whatever obstacles they encounter. This is a very worthwhile experience, especially when you are are yourself an entrepreneur. Talking to Dieter for a few minutes, I realised that our interview would be on a totally different level. His was not the experience of an average businessman, but a real journey through life, deeply rooted in experiments. Well, all kinds of experiments, so to speak.
Vision of innovation 1: don’t do what’s expected of you
Dieter started in a way that wouldn’t appeal to most Parents, by flunking school at the age of 18. He wasn’t “cut out for that”, he admitted. By “that”, he meant reading books, and learning with a teacher locked up in a schoolroom. He was one for larger spaces, he fled to India. There he learned Yoga, then became a teacher and eventually, got bored, because “not much happens in India” he said. Not one for contemplation, Dieter, but much of a rolling stone.
He left India soon after that to live among Mexican tribespeople. Columbus had mistaken them for Indians and named them after others, Dieter went on to live with them. He liked it a lot. In actual fact, living with them shaped his vision of life and innovation. His vision of time and understanding the cosmos. He thinks he can understand innovation better than us because of this. This is a life-shaping experience, not just any kind of experience.
So here went Dieter, from adventure to venture, from the Mexican Indians to the creation of an events organisation setting up symposiums with the Dalai Lama and other celebs, then to the creation of a drugs rehab centre, all the time working with and for Apple. Meditation being the link between these things, most probably. “Think different” is certainly a motto that Dieter could live with. For he is a very different kind of person.
Vision of innovation 2: one day, computers will be less dumb
I liked his views on IT too. It’s true that computers aren’t that smart. This is an understatement. The more we are sold new versions of AI and self-driving cars, the more we have to reboot our machines, circumvent bugs and even live without the features one used to enjoy (where has the old Phatware ICR – intelligent character recognition – feature in our year 2000 PDAs gone?) They are just miniaturised versions of their bulky elders, even though we have gone quite a long way from the prehistory of IT, I readily admit.
Yet, exactly 26 years ago to the day, I was tip tapping away on a computer just like the one I have now in front of me. It’s true I was one of the happy few to be equipped with a laptop computer, its battery life was not going beyond 1 hour and a half and it was black and white (two years later I pawned it in exchange for a brand new colour Zenith PC). Having said that, it was a PC nonetheless, with an older but reasonably functional version of Office by Microsoft. Not much less powerful than the ones we have now and certainly less bug-ridden.
In 2013 I recorded a video on behalf of Hootsuite in which I was introducing the concept of social mass media. Judging by the number of tweets and interactions we had on our post, I sense that we had struck a chord. We are wrapping up the 2016 version of our Hootsuite/Visionary Marketing barometer of social media use by marketers in France. The insights we are deriving from it are showing clear signs of a maturing market, and indications that there is still a long way to go. In this piece, I will make a few guesses at what this maturing social media landscape could look in 2017 and beyond.
Insight #1: Some tools are born and others disappear
One thing struck me when looking at the results of our new barometer: the list of social media tools quoted by marketers is evolving. Exeunt Vine (definitely killed by Twitter this year), Viadeo or Xing (cornered to very definite geographies). Enter Periscope, Facebook Messenger, Facebook live and Snapchat. Snapchat is appealing more to B2C companies and is also attracting attention, but many businesses are still struggling with its unusual features and unwieldy interface. It will take time before the dust settles but a new social media giant may be born. My hunch is that businesses will be increasingly experimenting with live video. It has already become a usual tool in live event streaming. We are also experimenting with it as a means to increase engagement in webinars (thanks to this, in one afternoon we managed to get a record 117 job applications for the cloud computing arm of local telco Orange). As 2016 is nearing its end and speculations on the survival of Twitter abound, Periscope may well prove to be a real opportunity for the struggling social network we like so much.
Insight #2: more Word of Mouth Marketing (WOMM) and UGC (User Generated Content)
The old mantra of brand engagement in social media has been often repeated but not always understood by brands. Most of them have struggled with this idea that users, be they employees, customers or the average Joe, would talk about their brands on their own social media pages rather than go to the brand’s account page. Social media is still seen as the old way of bringing eyeballs to an owned Web asset, rather than as a major WOMM tool. But things are changing and I see more and more businesses attracted to inbound marketing. B2B companies seem more mature in this area. Few B2B players have the means of investing in advertising. To them, UGC and WOMM is a credible alternative. Besides, inbound marketing is a major source of lead generation, mostly when it is coupled with marketing automation. As Facebook announced it would diminish the amount of advertisements in its timelines, Word of Mouth and UGC are bound to play an increasing role with brands.
Welcome to the Internet : the land of Marketplaces ! We all know Amazon marketplace, Asos Marketplace, or many other platforms dedicated to peer-to-peer selling. For a lot of people, the Internet is the best place to sell products (new or vintage) to other people. It’s as easy as 1,2,3 ; just find a popular platform like Craigslist or Leboncoin for our french readers, and post the most convincing image (sometimes even adding some filters to beautify it), with a short description and a price tag. And wait.. until someone makes the move. To try and boost the sale of an old couch, people share their posts on social media. Who knows, maybe one of our Facebook friends has a cousin who needs a vintage couch, right? Now Facebook, that social network we use ‘all day everyday’ is launching its own Marketplace. In this article, we’ll go through the basics of that new Facebook feature.
Here are a few reasons how a proper content marketing strategy can give you e-commerce success:
Improve user engagement, increase your customer base and build important relationships between your current customers and your brand.
Raise awareness of your brand.
Improve your ranking in search engines, target keywords with your content to find customers who are searching for products just like yours.
Provide support and help. Create useful content like how-to’s, user manuals and guides. And don’t forget to promptly answer customer queries.
Enhanced social reach, share content through social media to reach a larger audience.
What content should you be creating for your e-commerce store?
This can depend on your industry, what products you sell and your target market. This is a point you must remember, not just for content marketing, but it is the #1 rule in marketing, know your market, before creating any content, know who your current customers are, know who your potential customers are, and make sure your content is optimised for them.
So here are 5 ways to use content marketing for e-commerce store success.
Set a Goal
Before creating your content marketing strategy, you should set goals, for both each piece of content and overall. Set something to aim for, whether that is increasing overall sales and customers, gaining new email subscribers or even just engaging or helping your current customers. Having a goal will help you create content for a specific cause.