The power of a focused community
15Jul13

In the last few years I have witnessed something remarkable. A broad community of “digital enthusiasts” has gradually banded together realising that the sum is always greater than the parts.

These people were originally only connected online via social networks but then they started meeting at coffee mornings and soon the conversation drifted to “what else can we do”.

Before long there were monthly events where this community could meet, socialise and learn more. More coffee mornings also sprung up allowing even more people to connect in real life.

Naturally, many in this community started doing business with each other and introducing others to the group.

The potential of this community began to be seen and so a taskforce was formed to help harness its collective power. This served to place decision makers and influencers at the same table with the same broad goals for the community.

Others began to take notice. Big initiatives became realistic. Things started to happen.

Which brings us to today.

The community I am referring to is in my home town of Newcastle. What has been for years referred to as “Steel City” or “Coal Town” is now mining nerds. What began as a loose collection of “digital enthusiasts’ now constitutes a serious digital ecosystem.

  • A growing collection of small tech start-ups and digital agencies.
  • An industry taskforce at HunterDiGiT with a strong agenda for the region.
  • An Open Innovation event connecting major organisations with the local innovation community.
  • An ambitious annual industry event, DiG Festival, which aims to attract participants from throughout Australasia.
  • A University and TAFE who are increasingly embracing change and engaging with the community.

You really get the feeling that this is just the beginning. There is so much more to come.

And its all the result of a bunch of passionate people working together to focus on the big picture. Its not about the individual or personal reward, instead its for the collective good of the region. It relies heavily on collectively supporting any initiative that will benefit the wider community.

If you live in this region, get on board, get involved and support those who are trying to make a difference.

If you live elsewhere, be reassured that this can also happen in your region. Change isn’t easy but there’s no denying the power of a focused community.

4 digital marketing trends in 2013
14Jun13

Digital marketing is evolving at an incredible pace. There is a wide range of effective tools, technologies and platforms delivering exciting changes to the digital marketing world this year.

The infographic, The Top 4 Digital Marketing Trends for 2013, provides a comprehensive analysis of tools and technologies defining the digital marketing landscape this year. It traces the impact of the digital revolution on consumer behavior and highlights key trends that marketers need to focus on in 2013.

It provides insights on optimally utilizing various elements of a digital marketing strategy like mobile marketing, social media, content marketing and author rank, to offer greater reach, better relevancy and higher customer engagement. Thanks to the team at DCI for this excellent piece.

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How to create the ultimate customer experience online
7Sep12

A focus on customer experience can result in vastly improved metrics for any company. We’ve seen it for years in traditional retail where companies such as Nike and Apple have created amazing customer experiences in order to maximise sales and profits, but can this work online?

The team at Monetate have designed this excellent infographic to demonstrate how excellent customer experience can impact key online metrics like web traffic, referrals, conversion rates, average order value, revenue and customer lifetime value.

The Ultimate Customer ExperienceMonetate Marketing Infographics

Infographic: How mobile technology is changing world travel
26Jul12

Is there an industry more affected by social networks and mobile technology than the travel industry? Possibly not.

When I first traveled overseas postcards and the weekly letter were the main means of communication. These days we’re rarely disconnected from home, our next destination or the people and places we visit.

Mobile technology has turned travel on its head. Now 3 in 4 travelers use a mobile device while on the move. We can check in with our airlines, search and book accommodation with AirBnB and much much more.

The following infographic is by the team at MyDestination.com and has some excellent stats for those researching travel and technology.

How Mobile Technology is Changing World Travel with My Destination

Digital Newcastle launches to help grow the local digital economy
19Jun12

Digital NewcastleThe rapid advancement of technology, especially online technology, presents a multitude of challenges and opportunities. Its something I am keenly aware of as I do business with a wide range of organisations whilst also trying to launch new ideas and applications into the marketplace.

I consider myself to be pretty conversant in the latest happenings in the digital world, but even I have to ask around at times or risk missing opportunities. So I can’t even imagine how the average business owner, marketing manager or government agency must feel trying to keep up with such a rapidly changing environment.

The roll-out of the National Broadband Network only increases the need for knowledge in order to understand its implications and opportunities.

What we desperately need is someone who can help connect the dots.

  • Someone neutral and knowledgeable who can point us in the right direction.
  • Someone who is talking to government agencies and knows where funding is available.
  • Someone who can help advise organisations about putting together good tenders and inviting the right people to pitch.
  • Someone passionate enough about the industry and region to identify opportunities and help them to fruition
  • Someone who can help provide training options to those who need it.

Fortunately in Newcastle we now have that someone, Gordon Whitehead aka @the_git.

And that brings me to a significant announcement. After 6 years at Sticky, Gordon is moving to a new role that has evolved from his founding of The Lunaticks. The project is called Digital Newcastle and Gordon will be doing all the above and more.

He’ll be connecting the dots between government, government agencies, local business, education, start-ups, digital agencies and services providers.

To be clear: this is a new role with a different organisation and totally independent of Sticky.

I’ll be signing on as a sponsor of Digital Newcastle and I encourage other agencies to sign on as well. Collectively we’ll all benefit from this initiative and it will only be truly effective if the right dots are being connected.

I’d like to congratulate to Gordon on this exciting new role. Already he has garnered considerable support from local government and business groups, and I urge all Newcastle and Hunter businesses and agencies to support him so he can help the entire region flourish in this burgeoning digital economy.

 

The winners and losers in the digital economy
15Jun12

A few weeks ago I posted that no industry was immune to the rapid pace of change in our modern interconnected society. I strongly believe that some current industries will be turned upside down by the arrival on the National Broadband Network and borderless labour.

Now a new report by IBISworld’s Phil Ruthven, A Snapshot of Australia’s Digital Future to 2050, lists the winners and losers of what it calls “the new utility” – ubiquitous high-speed broadband.

Ruthven says Australia must shift from exporting its natural resources to exporting so-called “developed resources” – health, education, tourism and business services, and identifies seven broad industry sectors that will benefit from this “hyper digital era”.

The main beneficiaries appear to be government and public safety programs such as emergency and disaster response services, followed by online retail and the mining industry.

However, Ruthven also says that of 509 industries in Australia, 15 – nearly all in traditional media, publishing and broadcasting – are likely to disappear unless they can reinvent themselves.

The industries he identifies as facing “extinction” include: book, magazine and newspaper publishing and retailing; radio and television broadcasting; reproduction of recorded media; and film processing.

Its a trend we’ve seen for the last 15 years. If the medium is easily digitalised then the industry is at risk. It started with music, then moved onto books and movie and TV downloads. Its one of the reasons Fairfax is trying to cut costs and job losses are an unfortunate symptom of these changes.

A recent presentation by Mary Meeker which explained the “re-imagination of everything” is a great pointer to what has happened and who will be affected going forward.

The report says that traditional retailing will decline in the coming decades and much wholesale trade may also disappear.

Mr Ruthven says that Australia has been slow to adopt high-speed broadband and benefit from the digital economy, and the major obstacle is scepticism.

“Because I think there’s been so many naysayers out there suggesting we don’t need it, which is it a bit like saying ‘dirt roads were quite adequate 50 years ago, who needs a sealed road and a four-lane highway?’” says Ruthven.

The report also predicts that one in four people will be working from home at least part-time by 2050, something that futurist Mark Pesce elaborated on.

“The idea of employment, as in a job that lasts for more than a few days or a few weeks, is going to be this very weird term by 2050. Our grandkids will go up to us and say, ‘You had a job and you did it for years at a time?’”, says Pesce.

“That much connectivity in the economy creates this enormous capability for fluidity, and so jobs are going to start to become gigs and those are going to start to become tasks, and eventually we’re all just going to be doing a little bit here and a little bit there and it may not be until we get up in the morning and check the smartphone that we’re going to be knowing what we’re going to be doing that day.”

Pesce feels that the employment market of 2050 is “going to look a lot more like eBay then it does like Seek.”

 

All are expected to be replaced by their online or digital equivalents.

 

The price of bad advice
11Apr12

by [me]

I came across three pieces of mind-numbingly bad advice today, all from experts in their respective fields, all to prominent organizations. Each of them have caused me to question:
A) the quality of expert advice
B) the lack of digital knowledge in the business world
C) how organizations can determine which advice they can trust.

But let’s start with the bad advice. These are clangers.

The first company, a prominent industry leader, wants to get more search traffic for a new service they offer. Whilst weighing up an organic search engine optimisation strategy they’ve received advice from an Adwords specialist. The response: spend the budget on an Adwords campaign because the clicks from the traffic will increase your organic search results.

WRONG. There is no relationship between paid results and organic search results. Organic search results come from a combination of inbound links (indicator of popularity) and on-page optimisation for targeted terms.

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The numbers behind the paywall: The Australian reveals digital subscription take-up
14Mar12

by [me]

In October 2011 the executives at News Ltd announced that “the ten year free trial is over” and they were launching digital subscriptions for some of their publications beginning with The Australian.

Naturally, they were plenty of cynics prepared to predict the pay wall gambit would fail, and I certainly had my doubts. Its still only very early days and long term success is far from assured but News Ltd have just released their first round of figures for digital subscription. They appear to be very encouraging.

Here’s the announcement:

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27 reasons why you need a digital marketing strategy
16Feb12

by [me]

Let’s face it, the face of marketing has totally changed over the last decade. We have moved on from an era when broadcast media ruled the marketing world and all you had to do to reach potential customers was run a TV schedule or place some ads in the paper or on the radio or perhaps whack a big message up on a billboard. Now your customers are in charge of the media they consume and prefer to find what they need through online search and social endorsement or recommendation than be advertised to.

We are now in the era of inbound marketing where providing solutions and relevant information is a more effective way to attract potential customers. It is now incumbent upon us to build relationships and trust first.

The new marketing paradigm is tricky but it can also be extremely rewarding for organisations that get it right. I’ve seen dozens of companies totally transform their marketing and results over the last few years by adopting a holistic marketing strategy. They’ve combined intelligent web design with clever search engine optimisation, mixed in social media and tweaked conversion funnels to achieve exceptional results.

Its the whole theory behind my agency’s new 360 Degree Digital Marketing Strategy.(<- click on the link for more information)

Yep, the world of marketing has changed. Here are another 27 reasons why you need a professional digital marketing strategy:

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Its a war for web supremacy and you’re in the crossfire
27Jan12

Google v Facebook: its war

Larry Page & Mark Zuckerberg. (Image originally atlanticwire.com)

Every time you go online you are entering a war zone. It might not feel like it, but there is an almighty battle taking place between two superpowers and you are caught in the crossfire.

Welcome to the war for web supremacy. The super powers, if you haven’t already guessed, are the search behemoth Google and social heavyweight champion Facebook. The prize is you and your data.

Sure, there are other combatants in this war; Twitter, Apple, Bing, LinkedIn…even Yahoo!, but they are merely involved in skirmishes and are open to being co-opted into alliances with the main players. Amazon currently appears to be Switzerland (more about them another time).

The nature of systems like the web is that monopolies emerge. We have a dominant search engine in Google, a dominant online encyclopedia in Wikipedia, a dominant retailer in Amazon, a dominant auction site in eBay, and now we have a dominant social network in Facebook. That’s normal and has been happening in business for centuries.

But what happens when two different monopolies decide to battle for a middle ground? That’s where it gets interesting, and that whats happening now. Facebook and Google share common goals but differing philosophies.

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