Posted by Kate Phizackerley on 00:24

I'm surprised how few business and professionals use Squidoo.  It's now ranked #95 of the top US sites with 9.0m US visitors each month according to Quantcast.  It's a great site for getting something one-off noticed.  For instance, although I write mostly about business and Egypt, I have a seasonal Squidoo lens about gingerbread houses which is getting 800 unique visitors a week.  Not massive in FTSE / NASDAQ terms, but for an owner-managed-business that's worthwhile.  For any author, it's flattering to have that sort of readership.  If you are interested in seeing more, these are my top Squidoo pages, or join Squidoo.  I just wish my lens about twilight birthday cakes and parties would do better - more about that later!

The alternative is HubPages.  Newer than Squidoo, it's ranked #93 with 9.2m American visitors each month.  I've been less active on HubPages than Squidoo and my most successful hub (great sax solos) has less traffic in total than my top Squidoo lens is getting in a week.  Both sites are supported by adverts but HubPages has a generally lower ad-burden than Squidoo so may seem more attractive to business.  However, on Squidoo it's possible to turn adverts off.  As a marketeer, I don't do that often (although I do set some lenses to be charitable, donating all of my income to charity), but my lens about my father's art (PT Phiz) has all of the adverts removed.  That's a format which would suit a business.  Hubpages also limits outbound links to 2 per domain; Squidoo's limit of 9 is more reasonable.  For those reasons, I think Squidoo suits buisiness and professionals better than Squidoo.

The key, in both cases is promition - SEO if that's the term you prefer to use.  That's the issue with my Twilight birthday lens - Google doesn't like it.  Some topics need little promotion, but if you wanted to promote a product it may need some work.  It could suit an artist, though, who wants a suit to describe her work but doesn't want the overhead of a dedicated web site.  Of course, any Squidoo lenses of Hubpages hubs you create will have an SEO advantage on your other sites if you link them from the lens / hub

Neither Squidoo nor HubPages is perfect.  Neither is an answer to all problems.  But they can have a role to play.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on 01:02

It's hard to overstress the importance of titles.  Get the title wrong and people might not read your written material.

In keeping, I've made a minor change to the title of this blog.  It is now "Kate Phizackerley Means Business".  I think that is stronger than the previous title.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on 21:37

One of the big Web stories at the moment is the move by many online news providers to make viewers pay for content.  Personally I doubt many viewers will be willing to do that.  That's an issue for media organisations caught between a rock and a hard place: if they don't charge, they don't have the income to maintain their accustomed level of profit; if they do charge, readers will migrate elsewhere.  People recognise the value of investigative journalism, like the work done by the Telegraph on MP's expenses and top columnists like Zoe Heller and Jeremy Clarkson.  But will they pay for run of the mill news stories they can get from other sources?  I think not.  Commentators are suggesting that people will also turn more to blogs and indeed traffic and subscriptions to my several blogs are growing steadily.

Unless one works in the media business, this might seem irrelevant.  It may not be.  The truth is that much of what passes for news is really advertorial or announcements dressed up as news.  Anybody who has had a professional marketing role will be familiar with press releases in the hope that the media pick up the "announcement" and present it as "news".  They will be familiar with writing articles which are either designed to either push a product or service, or at least to build brand awareness.  Even a TV show like the X Factor is a good example.  The contestants live within a media controlled environment and there are relatively few stories other than those promoted by Syco or fictionalised supposition.  Yet it is clearly vital for Syco for those stories to be picked up and generate the massive of media interest which drives the X Factor phenomenon.

I’m very involved in amateur Egyptology as many of you may know.   Increasingly blogs, including my own News from the Valley of the Kings, are leading the way at disseminating developments.  There are published, paid for magazines and they are very nice but there can be a big delay between event and publication – and increasingly people want news now, not next month.  Focused, free eZines are in increasing feature of the new world, featuring writing by a range of amateur writers.  There’s a professionally supported one called Heritage Key, for which I have written a couple of commissions. There are others and I suspect more will develop. ;)I’m increasingly carrying work by other writer’s on my own sites for instance.  Today I’m discussing publishing an original poem.

So what are the implications for professional organisations wanting to get their announcements out?  If the market fragments, then they will need to start developing relationships with bloggers and amateur writers.  For professional, for profit, organisations, dealing with amateur bloggers may feel strange.  It shouldn’t.  Political parties have done it for years.  Hollywood stars have developed such a strong relationship with Perez Hilton that he has become a professional. 

There could a need to identify potential bloggers.  That could be local bloggers - if you have local hotel then a blogger writing about the locality could be a key partner.  He will want stories of interest to his readers; you wish to get details of your special promotions out to the community.  It can be harder if your company is selling something technical like actuarial services, or VAT accounting.  In technical fields there may be no amateur bloggers – after all a hobby needs to be … a hobby.  Even there, though, options remain.  For instance the business could sponsor a rally car or an elephant and use blogs about totally unrelated stories to build brand awareness.  It’s much less valuable as there may be minimal overlap between the blog’s readership and the business’s target market; however, it may help even if only in SEO terms.  Better may be to submit articles to allied blogs or businesses.

There is no easy answer.  Nor is it clear how media services will develop over the next decade, but it’s an area which I believe businesses need to monitor.


Posted by Kate Phizackerley on 19:07

Wow. Two posts in one day!

I had a post on the old marketing blog about how actors can train people to speak in public or do business proposals. I was about to do a new article, when I came across something far more detaiiled than I was going to write. It is an article by Public Speaking Training by Broadway Actors, which is is a New York City based company of leading actors who give private training, workshops and master classes in public speaking. Obviously it's very supportive of the benefit, but it is a concept I support. In the UK it's fairly hard to find actors who are used to doing this - there are some niche companies and the Globe has run some sessions I know - so it's good to see it being promoted so well in the States. Whichever side of the Pond you live and work, I reccoment this Squidoo article to you.

The key to any business presentation is impact. That is partly inate - some people are more charismatic than others. But it can also be substantially enhanced by training. Actors who are used to commanding a stage and keeping a live auduence rapt are particularly suited both to train, and to critique a business excecutive.

To go with it, here is another article of some really stand out presentations.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on 15:22

There's often a lot of attention given to layout and content, but very little given to writing style of marketing material. That may be a mistake. I had lunch this week with Andie Byrnes who runs the Egyptology News blog. There aren't many top blogs on Ancient Egypt but Andie's and my own News from the Valley of the Kings are two of the most popular.

We got to talking about out blogs, of course, and the conversation surprised us. I get lots of comments on my blog. I've made it social. People have conversations on the blog. The emails I get are people sending me information or chatting about social things. Someone for instance has just sent me an article about Pharaoh Hounds which I published for him on one of my other blogs.

In contrast, Andie often has few comments.  Her emails are people asking her questions and for information - for instance college students wanting help with college projects.  I don't get any of those.  As Andie put it, "I'm regarded as a walking encyclopaedia".  In a business, being regarded as a subject expert (like Andie and her blog) might be the aim.  Or maybe you want to engage with customers and clients (like my blog)?

That's the enormity of differnce the style of approach can make.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on 08:35

No, this isn't racy, just an observation about networking at group events. Business networking courses suggest that if people part turn leaving a spot where a third person can join as an equal in the circle that they are effectively advertising to be joined by suitable company. In a dating context it might not - instead just indicating the formative nature of the relationship.

I suspect the same in a business environment. An open placement (rather than turned face to face) could indicate that other people are invited to join the discussion. Equally though it could be a couple who do wish to talk exclusively of others but whose body language is representing that they are reserving their positions to each other with respect to negotiations or a closer business environment.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on 04:25

The season is nearly upon us again. The temptation in tough years - and for many 2009 has been tough - is to cut back on the partying. That may be a false economy. During tough times keeping morale up can be vital.

This year that may especially be the case. If, as many suspect, the economy will move forwards in 2010 Christmas may offer a chance to transition the mood of an organisation away from 'getting by' into something rather more optimistic.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on 23:13

A number of organisations hold a morning meeting every day. I've heard it called "Morning Prayers" but a much better alternative is "the Dash". It embeds the sense of urgency which is good not just for the meeting itself but for the entire morning ahead.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on 21:54

That should be a familar diagram to any project sponsor or project manager.  The idea is that there is a threeway tradeoff between risk, cost and time: time can only be reduced by increasing risk and/or cost; cost can only be reduced by increasing time and/or risk; and time can only be reduced by increasing cost and/or risk.

Many project managers will introduce this concept when planning a project, but few seem to really understand the implications and will still use the same approach for managing a project if the sponsor wishes to run it with minimal risk as if they wish to minimise timeframe. 

Within the field of corporate governance there is a concept of risk budgetting.  It's also an appropriate tool for running projects when the focus is on risk and there are alternative ways to achieve the overall objectives.  Weak project managers seem to believe that everything can be achieved with a Gantt Chart.  When managing for risk, a Gantt Chart offers little insight.  A better approach is to compile a network chart based on risk.  (Routes which are unacceptable in terms of cost or timeframe can be removed from consideration.) 

The difficulty is that visualising network charts can be difficult, especially if the analysis skills of the project manager are weak and she cannot present them as drill down.  However, realistically for large projects something like an interactive whiteboard can be really valuable in talking the project sponsors through the alternatives.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on 00:13

There's no doubt that a dashboard is a useful way of monitoring the world's online reaction to your brand.  I used to run two myself; one for a time for my own online presence, and one on Egyptology.  Sadly Pageflakes which I was using has become unreliable  (a euphemism if there ever was one) so I need to rebuild them elsewhere.

Into that market stepped Seth Godin of Squidoo fame with his Brands in Public initiative.  I like Squidoo.  I write there a lot and as a "Giant Squid" was one of the lensmasters invited to create dashboards for Brands in Public with the promise of $100 if they sold.  I was sceptical from the first and didn't take up the offer, but others did and 200 pilot dashboards were created for brands picked by Brands in Public without consultation with those brand owners.  Today Seth Godin bowed to public pressure and has pulled them.

The dashboard was, and remains a good idea, something I would recommend to any brand.  The Squidoo implementation wasn't market-leading but it was adequate, if over-priced.  (It's deficient in it's filtering of Twitter feeds to find relevant Tweets, relying (I suspect) on a simple word filter when contextual analysis is necessary.)   However the route to market was all wrong and clearly came across to some brands and many commentators as a strong-arm tactic to hold brands to ransom.  I don't believe that was the intent: but nonetheless it was an impression some formed.  The first rule of marketing of course, is that impression is reality (unless you can change that impression).

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on 21:54

At the start of an outsourcing deal, the customer is usually full of enthusiasm for the benefits of the arrangement and can focus entirely on the short term.  It’s easy to forget that 3,5,7, 10 or even more years down the track, that the contract will need to be renewed.  Without preparation at outset, the incumbent supplier could be in a dominant position and able to take commercial advantage of that – at the customer’s expense.  It is vital to plan ahead to the end of the contract – both in the contractual terms themselves, but also potentially in how the whole outsourcing is arranged.

Read more at EzineArticles.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on 01:27

In the previous post I advised marketeers to give products and ideas a name. The converse applies to purchasers. If something has a name, it may seem more solid and developed than it really is. Equally, if something doesn't have a name you undervalue it so it can be worth stoppping, thinking about it carefully and giving it proper attention

In general there is a dance between marketing and purchasing. Marketeers are attemping to sway purchasers' minds: purchasers need to be aware of that and maintain a level head and look at proposals dispassionately.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on 10:49

It's a simple tip - but it makes a difference. If you have a new initiative you are trying to publicise, call it something. It's not just easier to refer to "Kate's Wizz" than "that new method I have for turning twizzle sticks", it's also far easier for your customers to remember it.

A name also makes you idea sound more professional and finished - even if in practice you are still knocking rough edges off it in the background. In marketing image isn't quite everything, but unless you get the image for an idea or project right it's hard to get somebody to look at the substance.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on 02:00

When my friend and I left the theatre, there were placards up for a summer stage school. I commented that a stage school was recommended for anybody who does new business pitches (or indeed and significant client presentations) but she hadn’t heard this. So perhaps it is worth repeating here why it is benefiicial:

  • It teaches presence and how to take charge of a “space”
  • One can learn how to project the voice
  • It trains people how to reinforce a message with body language
  • One learns to appreciate an “audience” and to judge their reaction
  • It can help with “learning a script” to reduce the use of notes
For all these reasons stage school - or perhaps amateur dramatics - can benefit anybody who does a lot of business presentations and is having trouble engaging with their audience.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on 22:17

In business presentations and pitches it's common for several presenters to line up. How should their order be decided?

It's something which doesn't always get much attention, but it should. If the principle of AIDA is considered, then the presenations should be ordered to build to a close. I explain more in this Squidoo lens on speaker order in business presentations.

[For long subjects, I'm intending to move a lot of the detail off into separate articles hosted elsewhere. Short articles will continue to be presened in full here on the blog.]

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on 21:49

I have decided not to maintain separate blogs on marketing and general business administration so I have replaced those with a brand new blog, Kate Phizackerley on Business. Please add the new blog location ( to you bookmarks and remove the bookmarks for the two abandoned blogs. The new blog has a much better layout (I happen to prefer Blogger to Wordpress) and Kate Phizackerley on Business has been consolidated into a single framework with my other main blogs. It gives me a consistent brand and makes maintenance and design updates much more efficient.

If you are receiving this post via an newsreader or Twitter, you do not need to update your settings - I have redirected the new blog so that it updates the old newsfeed as well, and the Twitter address will remain the same.

I'm hoping to start posting new content in the next few days.

Thank you for continuing to read my blogs.

Kate Phizackerley

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on 20:58

You will see that the template is now in place. It is something I have developed and use on (nearly) all of my Blogger blogs. You'll see links to the in the navbar. It should give you an idea how things will look like once everything in finished.

The next task is to get the material into the sidebars such as subsciption options. I'm still probably a week or so away from being ready to start posting content. Thank you for your patience.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on 03:11

If you've found this already - well done!

I've got the domain name set up and will be working on the template and other settings over the next few days.


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