The most magnificent collection of FREE, awesome WordPress Themes

I’m constantly surprised at the number of consultants who still use Gmail / Ymail addresses, don’t own their own domain and in so many cases, still don’t even have their own website.

If they do have their own website, often it’s a shocker – it would be wrong to post examples here, but I’m sure you know what I mean.

The thing that makes me mad is that THERE IS NO EXCUSE!

I can see why people struggle with creating great content, although there’s plenty of ways to get help on that front. However in today’s day and age, things also need to look good. People do not buy stuff from people when they don’t present themselves well. Would you?

3 years ago, you needed a designer to help create you a website. Today, you simply do not.

Learn how to use WordPress, figure out what it is you want to say, develop a structure and then choose a great looking FREE theme to put on it.

If you’re unsure of how to put your toe in the water, start by creating a two page site, – a home page, links to stuff and an About page, perhaps like this one. You could use a theme as simple as this one or this one.

If you want a placeholder theme to get you started, why not choose something like this? As soon as you have a domain – get something on it – don’t just leave it with the webhost’s advertising on – that’s verging on criminal!

If you are looking  to be truly inspired, Smashing Magazine have just released their 2011 list of free WordPress themes and it’s incredible the way things have moved on from the 2010 list. Be inspired here. And get building!

 

 

Get it right on paper

My most prized tool is shown above. I’m “Mr Digital” according to my friends, however the power of pen and paper should never be forgotten.

“Get it right on paper first”

I used this phrase four times yesterday with different clients and I realised just how important and fundamental this process is to what we do, but in fact to what most people do.

If you create / plan / deliver / sell / market / manufacture / write – anything in fact, there will always be a point in the process where you have to stop and think and not just at the beginning.

I enjoyed this conversation with a lady on top of her game yesterday – one of the leading lights in the UK’s training industry – Julie Wedgwood. It seems we both storyboard a lot in our day jobs. It turns out she learnt the art from the set of the Who Framed Roger Rabbit movie (ground breaking). I learnt my trade through trial and error sadly, but I’m still glad I learnt it…

Do yourself a favour and grab a piece of paper and a pen today. It might just get you to where you want to go.

Personalised video – one to watch in 2011 and beyond

We’ve been using it for ages with our Targets to Prospects service for a couple of years for ourselves and for clients, however it seems personalised video is starting to go mainstream as technology improves and people realise that shouting louder isn’t the answer to getting attention.

Getting the attention of a target is never easy and is becoming increasingly difficult as inboxes become more crammed. It’s therefore time to get smarter and talk to your targets as individuals.

Personalised video is a great technique.

Ford are starting to do it…

Hat tip to @kkapp for sending me this one!

Santa’s starting to do it… with the Portable North Pole returning this year and it’s simply stunning (try it if you have kids – pleeeeeease!)

The Swedish dept of Transport produced an amazing viral video viewed over 45 million times – where you upload your image and ‘appear’ in their advert. Sadly it’s been taken down, but there’s an example below… be inspired!

And we’re doing it for our clients too…

Watch out for a personalised video coming to you soon – oh and talk to us, if you’d like to explore it for your clients…

Personalised video for a good cause

We love all things personalised here at Being Smarter – so much of the work we do for clients is about getting personal with their targets and prospects – treating them as individuals and getting cut through.

Personalised video is starting to become more common now.  Simply put, it’s cleverly shot video which takes a feed from an external source (such as XML) and then layers that text or images over the main video track. Where it gets really clever is when the audio track is personalised based on a text input – but that’s a post for another day.

Our team delivered exactly this for a client earlier this year, and has enabled them to deliver highly targeted messages to hundreds of targets using a personalised video containing the target’s company logo using our Targets to Prospects service. Drop me a line if you’re intrigued and I’ll explain more about how it works and what it’s done for them.

I couldn’t help but notice the video I’ve linked to (screenshot above) below which takes a great cause – The Global Poverty Project and uses this same technique to build a viral campaign to drive awareness.

It’s really nicely done and has that essential ingredient we all love – humo(u)r.

You can take a look at the video on their fictitous TV channel WNN.TV here. Make sure you enter you first name and surname first.

Great work folks. (and hat tip to Graeme Codrington)

Have you seen Coca-Cola’s new viral video?

I’ve never particularly been a fan of Coke’s advertising over the years – but this one is different. 200k+ views on YouTube within a week says that people are loving it.

It’s a revamped version of the US ad from the beginning of 2010 and it feature’s their ‘Happiness Machine.’

There’s a tiny little bit of me which is sceptical about the audience. I REALLY do hope this is genuine (although if it’s not the people will find out!). I can absolutely see how the happiness factor could have been generated for real – because I’m fairly sure if this happened to me – I’d be smiling…

What do you think?!

Direct mail can work – if you do it right

So much of what we get up to here at Being Smarter is about getting personal. The days of broadcast email, send and hope direct mail and one voice for all customers are effectively over.

2010 and beyond is all about defining your buyer personas and getting personal. Click each of those links for some background and inspiration if you want to get your business noticed.

Bearing all that in mind – I couldn’t help noticing a piece of direct mail my wife received over the weekend from Boden clothing.

The front page is a real attention grabber and you can’t help smiling at the fact they’ve recognised she’s not bought from them recently…

Inside – they carry on with the personalisation… in a really nice way.

If ever there was a piece of DM to make you take a look at someone’s ‘stuff’. This would be it.

What are you doing to get personal?!

How to do an online features tour

We’ve been doing quite a bit of research of late for our new venture and been looking at a ton of web application sites – because I’m a massive believer in not reinventing the wheel. Why try a new design from scratch when there are thousands of sites and companies who’ve already blazed a trail.

I just came across a great example of how to do a features tour – never seen this technique before, and I like it. Judging by the fact there’s a couple of hundred links back to this page – I’m thinking there’s a few others liking it too.

Huddle have been around for a while. It doesn’t stop them innovating.

Check out this technique for producing a feature tour. You’ll find it will also work on your iPad – because it’s not Flash!

How to really demonstrate an online application

Write on Glass has been gathering buzz and momentum for some time now. Quite simply, it looks like an awesome new way to share content. Sorry, experiences…

Whilst I’ve not got access, what really interested me is seeing how have they chosen to demonstrate the concept. With screen shots? screen cams? a clever technical animation?

No.

They’ve illustrated the concept quite brilliantly by showing the application interacting in a real live environment and I like it. It stands out from the crowd as an application and they way they tell their story does exactly the same.

We can all learn from this!

Watch, enjoy and learn.

Get noticed with a video prospectus

It’s been a real delight getting involved with my son’s local school recently. We’ve been building their new website which I’ll talk about in another post and which will go live in September. I’m really excited about getting the pupils blogging and the parents more involved in what goes on.

Whilst that’s been going on, we’ve also produced a video prospectus for the school – 4 mins 31 seconds of a day in the life. Not too long, not too short. Narrated mainly by the headmaster – the fabulous Richard Jarrett, and produced quite brilliantly by a colleague of mine.

The beauty of having an asset like this – is that it started life as a DVD rotating on the plasma screen in the school foyer. It’s now going to be available online for anyone who wants it, as well as available on DVD for prospective parents. It will also be the start of a collection of video assets available on the school website, which will tell the story of the school year for parents and extended family, who can’t always get to events and see their children participating.

Customers love surprises (of the right kind)

I’ve always preached the opposite to the title of this post because I’m normally discussing communication with customers and I will never stop believing that surprises are normally bad.

The right kind of surprises are very welcome however and mobile operators are notoriously bad at not giving those. Imagine my surprise then when I got the text below yesterday.

Costwise, bearing in mind Vodafone own networks in most EU countries this will have minimal impact. Revenuewise, people are too scared to use data abroad anyway and so the majority of customers don’t use it. Financially it’s therefore going to have minor impact either way. From a customer loyalty perspective however, this is huge. Customers will renew contracts because of this and customers will leave other operators for this scheme too.

Vodafone I’m personally very grateful for this promotion. However in a corporate sense I also think you are very smart and I bet the others follow.