Audio messages on your blog – Wagwire

Wagwire is an interesting service that’s been around for a year or so now and is clearly gathering momentum. Everyone uses text comments on blogs, however, howabout allowing people to leave an audio message on your online presence or even on your social networking profile.

Their plugin enables your visitors to leave you audio messages with a click of a button.

Setup an account in a few minutes and following registration, download the code to produce a button for your website. Upload it onto your blog on site and then sit back and wait for the voicemails to flood in.

It looks cool and certainly offers viewers something different, without having to bash away on the keyboard to leave a comment.

Wagwire in action

Wagwire in action

There’s a free trial service – or a subscription service starting from €1/month – so it’s not exactly going to break the bank!

Check it out here.

Personnel Today features The 8.45 Club

It’s always a good feeling when the industry trade press feature one of your innovations. Lesley Everett’s Walking Tall personal branding course has been featured today in PersonnelToday.com.

One of our esteemed partners and a true expert in her field, Lesley Everett commented…

“In the current climate, providing people the ability to access highly effective, but low cost training solutions has never been more important. Our personal branding modules launched on the 8.45 Club will show subscribers how to develop their personal brand in order to develop executive presence, confidence and marketability.

Lesley is one of a number of partners The 8.45 Club works with to develop courses for business audiences. If you are a true subject matter expert with a story to tell and an audience who wants to hear it – why not consider using this virtual presenter format as a way of reaching untapped audiences as well as generating an additional source of income… while you sleep.

Use the contact us link at the top of the page to request a call.

25 million meetings take place in the US per day. Make your one count.

If in doubt, call a meeting – that’s right isn’t it? Over 25 million meetings take place in corporate America daily. I suspect there is a proportional number in the UK too. Almost certainly half of that time is wasted.

According to a 2007 Microsoft survey, the average time a worker spends in meetings each week around the world is 5.6 hours and 69% claim these meetings are unproductive. Were you interviewed? because I bet you are in the same boat.

How many hours do you spend a week attending meetings? Is there a better way – would a phone call suffice? Would a quick chat over coffee get the job done? It’s always worth considering.

There are always times however, when it is absolutely necessary to have a meeting whether it’s to get a decision made or to review a business case. Want to know how to run a successful meeting? Then there’s some tips below and watch out for a post on ice-breakers coming soon.

1) Know when and when not to call one

  • Ask “Why are we meeting and what do we want to accomplish?”
  • Determine if a different activity could be resorted to other than a meeting.

If there are no clear-cut answers to this question, don’t hold it!

  • There can only be four reasons can’t there?
  • Brainstorming
  • Delivering information
  • Gathering information
  • Decision making

2) Get inspired before you start

3) Preparation is key

  • Identify the place of the meeting (obviously).
  • List participants and guests.
  • List the participants’ roles.
  • Define the objectives and desired outcomes.
  • Determine topics.
  • Determine the length of the meeting.
  • Plan books, speakers, or videos to make it creative.
  • Use a variety of tools and activities to make it fun – see our forthcoming ice breaker post
  • Create an agenda that is carefully scripted.

4) Focus on three areas beforehand:

  • Content. Focus meetings around key issues. Never lose sight of the “what” of your meeting.
  • Design. Figure out how you want to approach each agenda item, as well as how deeply or thoroughly you want to discuss each item.
  • Process. Make sure that one idea is discussed at a time, and that everyone is in agreement as to how decisions will be made.

5) Rules for chairing

  • Review the agenda and set priorities for the meeting at the start
  • Work through the agenda, addressing each point in turn
  • Ensure that all team members contribute and feel able to disagree
  • Remember – two of ‘these’ and one of ‘those’
  • When the group encounters a problem, confront it openly and attempt to find a solution
  • Use a flipchart – it helps express ideas
  • Ensure that all people are heard from
  • Let the people carry the content; make sure that the moderators just guide them through the process
  • Vary the pace: speed up, slow down, and take breaks
  • Keep the group aware of where they are in the process
  • Help the group reach consensus and reach conclusions

7) Don’t let these things happen

  • An argument starting about an established fact
  • Opinions being introduced as if they were facts
  • People intimidating others with real or imaginary ‘knowledge’
  • People overwhelming others with a proposal
  • People can becoming angry for no good reason
  • Promoting your own vision at the expense of all others
  • People demanding or offering (far) more information than needed

(8) Action points – the whole point of a meeting

  • For goodness sake make sure actions are agreed verbally at the meeting and then followed up!

What your customers really want from you (based on research!)

I was fortunate enough to spend a year with an excellent B2B marketing agency, called The Marketing Practice. These are folks who are on top of their game in the IT B2B marketing space. In fact, there’s no better agency for that niche in my opinion. Why? Because they get it. They spend their time immersed in the IT sector and so talk the right language. They recruit people from the IT sector and they research the customers buying in the IT sector.

If your fortunate enough to be invited to one of their S&M forums (that’s sales and marketing to you) then you’ll get insight from IT customers in bucket loads. If you aren’t so fortunate – it doesn’t matter, because they summarise the event after it’s happened.

On Lindsay Willott’s Continuous Customer Capture blog, you’ll find the presentations given, as well as links to the research behind the event.

Spend 5 mins looking through it – you will learn something I promise!

How to use Facebook for business

I have to admit, I’ve always been sceptical about using Facebook in a business context however I have to say I’m fast changing my mind. With 250m regular users – the law of averages says someone must be using it for things other than tracking down old school friends…

There’s a number of resources that have been written over the last month and rather than reinvent the wheel, I thought it would be useful to summarise the best ones I’ve found here…

The Webworker Daily folks always come up with sound advice. Here they list 32 ways to use Facebook for Business.

The InsideFacebook site is dedicated to providing information to developers and marketers of the Facebook platform with a post from last year which is still current talking about the opportunities for business on the platform.

Hubspot has a Free downloadable 22 page E-book – containing comprehensive advice on setting up profiles, promoting a business page, a definition of groups vs. pages, advertising on Facebook and analysing traffic.

There are also a number of good books on the subject…

Facebook Marketing for Dummies

The Facebook Era: Tapping Online Social Networks to Build Better Products,

Facebook Marketing: Leverage Social Media to Grow Your Business

Hopefully these set you off in the right direction. If you find any more good resources – why not list them below…

Student Gems review

We first came across Studentgems.com courtesy of The Pitch – an excellent competition run by Sift Media in a Dragon’s Den style. Thanks to their comprehensive Twitter coverage we took a look at their site and what they had to offer – and it’s absolutely on the money as a broker between students, keen to learn and gain experience, and small and big business, keen to keep costs low and have a flexible labour force.

Win-win is always a good starting point for any business and they certainly achieve that alongside great PR coverage on The Guardian, BBC and Observer websites.

In a nutshell, if you are a business looking for specific local skills, you register on the site and advertise those skills. If you are a student with those skills, and have registered, the site will do the brokering – you search or people find you, negotiate a fee and the site takes a small subscription fee.

Joanna Ward is the founder of the site and can be followed here on Twitter.

Think flexible – think creative – do you really need another full time person, or would a relatively cheap flexible resource be a better approach? Studentgems may be the answer for you.

Client Collaboration with Offisync

What I love about this job is that you can find new ways of working on an almost hourly basis. There are 000’s of tools out there to help make your life easier. The trick is to find the right ones and then educate your clients / colleagues to use them – once they are proven.

I work with a number of clients building courses for The 8.45 Club. This involves building a dozen videos or so for each course. As you can imagine – there is always the need for a snagging list – changes the client want and we want too after seeing the first draft. Of course, the standard approach is to bounce emails between each other. For 12 video snag lists – this quickly gets out of control. How about emailing a spreadsheet? Better – but still not great – changes easily get out of sync.

The solution is to share a spreadsheet so that you can both make changes at the same time. Great if you’re on the same office network. No one is these days…. So – using Google Docs – their collaborative spreadsheet is great – give a third party read / write access and off you go.

Even better – as their interface isn’t necesarily familiar to your client – point them in the direction of www.offisync.com – it’s a simple downloadable add-in to Microsoft Excel 2007. It adds a ribbon to the toolbar…

ScreenShot234

And then enables you and the client to open documents held within Google Docs using the familiarity and functionality of Excel…

ScreenShot235

Totally brilliant!

Internet marketing consultants – do you need them?

Internet marketing consultants continue to spring up all over the place as the online marketplace continues to hot up and shows no real signs of stopping. My question is whether you can train yourself to become your business’s resident Internet marketing expert… and become famous within your organisation for mastering this black art?

As I’ve found over the last few months, it is impossible to be expert in every field. It is also impossible to subscribe to and read everything that comes across your desk. You could easily become a full time pupil and get absolutely no work done.

You need to be selective. Pick a particular field, ringfence some time on a regular basis and focus on one or two sources of information and concentrate on those.

So why not aim to reduce or remove your spend on Internet marketing consultants and go DIY. There’s an excellent Linkedin thread below with a whole load of advice from 15 different people on where they’ve gone for advice and training.

Give it a whirl…!

In addition – we’re only 13 days away from the next round of the thirty day challenge. Demystify the internet and the world of possibility that is social media and immerse yourself for free…

If you uncover any gems – why not share them below?

The debate on whether you give away information without registration continues

One of my favourite authors, David Meerman Scott set this debate up in his book The New Rules of Marketing and PR a couple of years ago – and it continues.

The internet marketing ‘guru’s’ – you know, the guys who earn the big bucks with the giant mailing lists make a living out of capturing email addresses, however there is a growing school of thought that in ‘normal’ businesses – particularly in the B2B space that it’s a bad thing to insist on capturing addresses.

There’s a great post today from Michele Linn backing up David’s theory with three ‘aha’ moments – a thing we like here at Being Smarter.

Check out her post and see what you think.

10 great Ashes facts for the pub tonight

Sometimes here at Being Smarter, we do take a break and today is one of those days – one eye on the cricket score – one eye on the laptop. To celebrate the start of the 2nd test at the home of cricket, we thought we’d assemble some facts for the pub tonight…

Did you know…

1) In the 4th Test in Sydney in the 1882/83 Ashes series, the captains agreed to play on separate pitches. This was the only occasion this has happened in the history in the Ashes. Australia won this match by 4 wickets.

2) Ian Johnson, Australian captain tried to get the umpires to suspend play because of the sawdust on the damp pitch which blew into his eyes while he batted (bless)? Jim Laker went on to pulverise the Australians by getting 19-90.

3) The 3rd test in 1970/71 was completely washed out by the British summer however the toss was completed and won by England and so the Test was deemed to have commenced…

4) Sir Don Bradman’s batting average in Ashes tests was 89.79… not bad huh? Sir Don scored 5028 runs with 12 fifties and 19 hundreds with a highest score of 334.

5) England have not won an Ashes Test at Lords since 1934.

6) The teams have played 64 Ashes series. Australia have won 31, England 28 and five have been drawn. Overall in 317 tests, Australia have won 131, England 97 and 89 have been drawn.

7) The words on the original Ashes cup reads as follows :

When Ivo goes back with the urn, the urn;
Studds, Steel, Read and Tylecote return, return;
The welkin will ring loud,
The great crowd will feel proud,
Seeing Barlow and Bates with the urn, the urn;
And the rest coming home with the urn.

Short of words in 1882 me thinks.

8 The highest innings score by Australia in an Ashes series is 729 for 6 declared at Lords in 1930, while their second best test innings total against England is 701 at the Oval.

9) For England, Sir Leonard Hutton’s 364 helped them reach 903 for 7 declared (the 2nd highest Innings score by any country) at the Oval, and the test victory by an innings and 578 runs – the biggest test win margin for any country against anyone.

10) Shane Warne, is the highest wicket taker in an Ashes series. Warne has 172 wickets from 31 Ashes matches at an average of 22.30.

Why not add one below?