The Project Management Triangle

The Project Management Triangle graphically highlights three competing constraints all projects face. Time, quality and cost.

Projects are performed and delivered under these rival forces. The conundrum: changing one affects the others. You can only benefit in two areas at the expense of the third.

The Project Management Triangle

So how does this effect you and your business?

Choose 2: Time, Quality, Cost

When taking on any project you are presented with three options. You can either have:

  1. Faster Turnaround -> Higher Quality Solution -> More Expense
  2. Faster Turnaround -> Less Expense -> Lower Quality Solution
  3. Higher Quality Solution -> Less Expense -> Slower Turnaround

I’m sure you can agree that you and your business face this conundrum daily. With every project there is a trade-off in either execution, turnaround time or expense. You can only ever have two of the three.

To put this into context, let’s take a look at content generation. This is because all facets of projects focus on content generation in one way or another. Specifically, I’m going to look at article writing.

An Example: Content Creation

For one person to create a good 1000-word article it might take a whole day (~8 hours). That’s accounting for research, creating visuals, editing and succinctly getting everything together.

What if you had two people doing this, splitting the workload evenly? One person handling the content writing whilst the other was complementing the written work with further research and visuals.

If two people of equal pay, skill and experience wrote the article it would be completed in three quarters of the time. It would NOT take half the time, even though twice as many people are working on the project.

Coordination Takes Time

Team members communicating together adds time. Efforts must be coordinated. Decisions have to be made on the appropriate approach required – who does what and how.

Resources needed for team management increase with the team’s size.

Social Loafers

People also tend to exert less effort to achieve a goal when they work in a group than when they work alone. Generally, members become less productive as their team size increases.

This phenomenon is known as ‘social loafing’.  Different to the coordination problems outlined above, social loafing stems from individuals feeling their effort matters less in a group.

Time is Money

Time is money because your workers are getting paid on an hourly rate. What might have taken one person 8 hours, takes two people 12 hours combined (6 hours each). You will have more expense.

In this example you have faster turnaround to get the same higher quality solution. The job will be delivered 25% faster overall – in 6 hours instead of 8. BUT, the article will take 4 more paid hours from your two employees combined (50% increase in overall cost).

Fast + Cheap = Lesser Quality

What if you wanted your article fast and cheap? Content producer(s) will be rushed. The output of their effort: a poorly written and researched, unpolished article.

Wrapping Up the Project Management Triangle

Time, quality and cost are three competing constraints all projects face. You can only ever benefit in two, at the expense of the third.

Individuals are limited in their output (hours they can work). But, teams present problems too. Good project management plans accordingly to best meet task constraints. This shapes the scope of your project.

Recognise what you are trying to achieve and need the most. Equally, recognise limitations that effect you achieving your subsequent goal. Greed, in the end, fails even the greedy.

So what will it be? Time, cost, quality – choose two.

And hey, two out of three ain’t bad.

Why is Branding So Important?

Learn What All the Fuss is About

I’m sure you can agree, that branding is an important part of your business.

But just how important is it? How much time and thought should you be devoting to your business’ branding?

In this post I’m going to show you exactly how important branding is for your business. I’ve included links to relevant research and statistics to back up my argument.

First-Up, What is Branding?

Branding is your business’ unique personality. It’s how people both experience and perceive you and your business. This goes way beyond your logo, imagery and tagline.

Everything your business does and says shapes your brand. Have you ever thought about the way you answer the phone? The way your customers experience your staff? This all feeds into your branding.

When you open your mind to this broader definition of branding, its importance becomes clear.

Let’s take a look at what good brands do, and why they do it.

Good Brands Connect with Consumers

Published in the Harvard Business Review, research shows that 64% of consumers cite shared values as the primary reason for having a brand relationship. This was by far the largest driver in consumer motivation found. Comparatively, only 13% cited frequent interactions with the brand as a reason for having a relationship.

Good brands connect with people at an emotional level. People feel good when they buy the brand. Purchasing is an emotional experience. Having a strong brand helps people feel good at an emotional level when they engage with the company.

Great Brands are Truthful and Honest

Your brand tells people about you and your business. 45% of your brand image is attributed to what you say, how you say it, and if you deliver. Your brand is your promise, communication and delivery.

Say what you have to say, be simple and direct. Engage your target-market. If this means that you offend those that aren’t in your target-market, that’s fine because they aren’t your audience and they won’t be your buyers!

Consistent Branding Promotes Recognition

Slightly different to “branding”, brand awareness is the probability that consumers are familiar about the availability and accessibility of your company’s product and service.

There’s a strong positive association between brand awareness and purchase intentions. Consistent and recognisable branding makes people feel more at ease when purchasing your products or services. This is why people tend to do business with companies they are familiar with.

Brand recognition is increased by up to 80% through colour use. This is one way you can easily and significantly increase your brand awareness.

Strong Branding Helps Customers Know What to Expect

Great brands are consistent and place customers at ease. Customers know what to expect each time they experience a strong brand. Exemplifying this, 80% of consumers say “authenticity of content” is the most influential factor in their decision to become a follower of a brand.

Consistency in branding is essential. 60% of US millennials expect consistent experiences when dealing with brands online, in-store, or by phone. Is your branding consistent across all channels?

Brand Motivates and Directs Your Staff

It’s easy to wander across ideas when nothing is guiding you. Clear branding helps you and your staff stay focused on your mission and vision as an organisation. It tells you and your staff how to act, what you’re driving toward, and how to meet company goals.

The market changes and so do aspects of your business. Promotional material comes and goes. However, the definition of who you are and what you stand for should remain stable. This should guide you when an option presents.

A Strong Brand Generates Referrals

People love to tell others about the brands they like. People wear brands, eat brands, listen to brands, and they’re constantly telling others about the brands they love. On the flip side, you can’t tell someone about a brand you can’t remember, nor communicate.

Strong brands clearly articulate how they should be referred. Think about your tagline. Is it memorable, catchy, to the point? Do you clearly articulate to naive consumers who you are and what you do? Can people remember and communicate this easily with their friends?

Give your followers the resources needed to spread the word about you and your business. Package your brand succinctly to make it as powerful as it can be. Find the simplest way to express yourself and more people will understand you.

Wrapping Up

Customers make conscious consideration of brands when making purchasing decisions. Your brand is a large part of what distinguishes you from your competition. It’s your promise to consumers that tells them what to expect from you and your business.

Are you the innovative maverick in your industry? Or the experienced, reliable one? Is your product the high-cost, high-quality option, or the low-cost, high-value option? You can’t be both, and you can’t be all things to all people.

Good brands are earned. They are built up over time and supported with a well thought out strategic plan. If you’d like guidance with your own brand contact me for a free consultation. Identify and proclaim your story!

Share your brand in the comments below.

Microsoft Buys LinkedIn in 2016

Microsoft Buys LinkedIn for $26 Billion USD

With LinkedIn, Microsoft Will Know Us All Too Well

I’m sure you can agree that knowledge of your customer is one the most valuable commodities for your business.

Most likely this is the true reasoning behind Microsoft’s agreement to buy LinkedIn for $26 billion USD. (by the way, that’s 150% of what LinkedIn stock was worth)

LinkedIn’s Value is its Knowledge of You

LinkedIn’s web interface and revenue is certainly no FacebookIt’s a money-losing social network. It’s 2016 forecast earning looked bleak.

The true value of LinkedIn for Microsoft is that it allows Microsoft to improve its products (Office 365 and Dynamics) through increased customer knowledge.

John Battelle once explained that Google owns your “database of intentions”, because your search reveals what you are seeking. Similarly, Facebook owns your “database of affinity”, because it has your catalogue of likes. With LinkedIn, Microsoft will now know your work.

Microsoft Buys LinkedIn in 2016

The Race to Know You Better

The value of LinkedIn is that increasingly, a skilled workforce is on it. So too are their connections.

After the acquisition, if you are active on LinkedIn then Microsoft will know everything about you at work. It will know your colleagues, your work history, and your unique skill set.

With Office 365, Microsoft will know what you are creating in PowerPoint, Word, and Excel. If you use Outlook, it will know who you are emailing and what you are talking about with them.

With a little bit of A.I., it is well within Microsoft’s grasp to understand your complete working life. So what will Microsoft do with this knowledge?

Perhaps noble, they will do nothing with that knowledge. However, following industry trends Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella suggests that is not the case.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s Email to Employees on the Acquisition of LinkedIn

In her email to employees, Nadella, states:

This combination [LinkedIn and Microsoft] will make it possible for new experiences such as a LinkedIn newsfeed that serves up articles based on the project you are working on and Office suggesting an expert to connect with via LinkedIn to help with a task you’re trying to complete. As these experiences get more intelligent and delightful, the LinkedIn and Office 365 engagement will grow. And in turn, new opportunities will be created for monetisation through individual and organisation subscriptions and targeted advertising.”

Nadella later goes on to talk of an appealing CRM system that could compete with Salesforce. However, as the above shows, she explicitly mentions making experts available inside Word. Hmmm. Does anyone remember the previous Microsoft Office assistant Clippy?

And of course, a social networking platform would not be complete without eerily targeted advertising based on what you are working on in your own time and ‘privacy’.

Will Your Privacy Be Effected?

Probably.

With what Nadella proposes above, things look interesting to say the least.

Perhaps Microsoft will slowly roll out change. Privacy policies are increasingly fluid to change, as Facebook and Snapchat have clearly shown. Do you read the T&C’s every time you update your Facebook app?

Nothing is ‘Free

Remember, instead of handing over money we pay for services such as LinkedIn via our privacy. Inherently, this is linked to targeted ads. This trend will only increase.

There is a process to grieving the loss of your privacy. First there is denial. Then you get angry about it. Then you try to make a deal about it. Then you get sad. Finally, you just accept it because it is what it is.

Of course, there is always an option. You do not have to use a service if you do not want to.

Augmented and Virtual Reality - DMI Sydney Australia

Augmented and Virtual Reality Are No Gimmick

Augmented and Virtual Reality - DMI Sydney Australia

Augmented and Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is not just a fancy party-trick. It’s true immersion capability offers a platform unlike any other, and it’s here to stay. Increasingly simulations are rendered in four dimensions and we are invited to experience them using our senses of sight, touch and hearing (with smell and taste well on the way). For as little as $2-3, you too can see what all the fuss is about with a basic Google Cardboard variation sold on EBay.

The advent of affordable yet effective household augmented and virtual reality devices have sent companies and developers alike scrambling to seize their share of this growing marketplace. All want to get in on the action, a probable multi-billion-dollar industry.

Just last week, news was abuzz with Sony and Samsung patenting augmented reality contact lenses. Significant investments have been made too by the standard big players. Specifically, Google with Google Glasses and Google Cardboard, Facebook with Oculus Rift and 360 Video, and Microsoft with Hololens.

So what is all the fuss about anyway?

Fully Immersed Experiences


Virtual reality
  is immersion in a simulated environment whereas augmented reality overlays onto the real world.

Virtual & Augmented Reality for Business SydneyMost notably, virtual and augmented reality have had immediate impact in entertainment such as video and gaming. It’s not too hard to understand why, because it offers a whole new perspective. We can now feel as though we are actually within a world.

Developers have been quick to realise this groundbreaking technology is suitable beyond these fields.  Allure of being able to create immersive virtual worlds for the purpose of storytelling is extremely well suited to just about anything.  Content producers of all industry now have a new means to effectively communicate, engage and listen.

New Opportunity to Engage

Virtual and augmented reality technology lends itself perfectly to education. Students can be anywhere at any time and learn through interactive simulation. This is useful for teachers too.

Unlike a text book, video or lecture, teachers can track in real time if students are engaged and understand through motion senses integrated into virtual reality devices. For example, if a student stops nodding their head, or fails to look in the required direction, a subtle prompt can be sent to the teacher. They can then take the required action and provide the student with the resources that they need.

Similarly, brain injured patients have been able to benefit from virtual reality, used in their rehabilitation. Initial findings have been promising, with Immersive Virtual Reality Therapy found to significantly improve cognitive and motor skill function for brain related injuries (Pietrzak, Pullman, McGuire, 2014).

Simulated Practical Experience

Whilst virtual reality is not the real thing, it’s getting incredibly close. Simulations allow students valuable practice through increasingly real-life simulated practical experience. Effective simulated training programs have been around for years, for example training new pilots. Increasingly people are less bound by geographical and financial constraints.

Real-Life Implications for Business

So what does this mean for business? The next form of the store or mall is no longer physical, but virtual. One where virtual reality and augmented reality will replace the physical mall or store experience.

E-commerce and online shopping has constantly faced one challenge: the deep-rooted desire to try before we buy. Not just seeing but holding, wearing and trying out are all crucial steps in the purchase process. This barrier has long been reflected in online conversion rates (browsers who become buyers), which hover around 1%- 4%, compared to rates of 20%-40% in physical offline stores.

But that may all be about to change. A host of improvements in user experience are making it easier than ever for buyers to find and even try products online.

Try Before You Buy

One exciting application of virtual and augmented reality is to showcase large purchases, like furniture, that consumers often have trouble visualising in their home (even when shopping in an actual showroom). The tech platform Cimagine has pioneered an augmented reality tool that lets shoppers arrange furniture and appliances in their own living space. By integrating users’ own photos of their home with product images, the app provides buyers a concrete visualisation of possible purchases. Importantly, retailers can tap into this technology by incorporating a single line of Cimagine code into their websites. Check out the video by following the link above.

Marketing Using Virtual Reality

In a sign of things to come, one of the most talked about virtual reality experience at the resent SXSW Conference was a clever marketing campaign. McDonald’s gave users headsets and transported them inside a Happy Meal box. Armed with a virtual paintbrush, they decorated the box in wild colours, while surrounded by all the trappings of a Happy Meal. Check out what else they’re up to in the video below!

Others are getting in on the action too. At Tommy Hilfiger and Dior, shoppers can put on virtual reality headsets to watch 360-degree runway shows and even go behind-the-scenes with models. AT&T used Samsung’s virtual reality technology to offer an experience across 133 stores, to send shoppers on a virtual Carnival Cruise.

The Takeaway: Virtual Reality is Here to Stay

Make the most of it!

Effectiveness of virtual reality is likely to increase with further research and technology advancements. Like all established technological advancements things look set to get bigger and better too. With more people set to uptake augmented and virtual reality it will become part of our everyday life.

From a digital marketing perspective, ultimately, virtual reality solves a fundamental challenge: integrating feeling, both physical and emotional, into experience.

 

How important is social media for your business?

How Important Is Social Media For Your Business?

Where Are You Situated in the Conversation?

If you don’t like social media, then you’re going to like irrelevance even less.

Social media is where your friends, employers and customers are hanging out. According to the Guardian (2015) Social Networking is now the most participated online activity.

Sensis (2015) revealed the current state of play in Australia. In regards to social media use the following was found:

  • About 50% of all Australian’s, and 79% of those aged 18-29 years, access social media daily.
  • Facebook dominates the social media space in Australia, capturing 93% of all social media users.
  • On average people spend approximately 8.5 hours per week on Facebook. (That’s more than a full working day being spent on just Facebook by each Australian every week!)

The study also found that Australians were active on LinkedIn (28%), Instagram (26%) and Google+ (23%). Add to this the time people spend on popular blogging platforms such as Reddit, Stumble Upon, and social video platforms such as Snapchat and YouTube and you see how entrenched social media is with everyday life in Australia.

How Does Social Media Effect Your Bottom Line?

maintain-and-optimise-digital-marketing-campaigns-in-sydney

From a commercial perspective:

  • 32% of Australian follow brands and businesses.
  • 20% of these people access offers and promotions.
  • 48% of consumers who used social outlets to research products and services made a purchase decision based on their experience over social media.

What do these statistics show?

People want to engage with you and your business over social media. They will buy from you if what they like what they see.

Here lies the opportunity for you and your business. Amazingly, only 31% of Australian businesses actively operate a social media engagement strategy. With social media participation forecast to grow year-on-year, you should be looking to move into these markets.

Let’s take a look at what a social media engagement strategy can do for you and your business.

What Can a Social Media Engagement Strategy do for Your Business?

Humanise your brand

There’s a saying that gets thrown around in business circles: “people like doing business with other people, not with companies”Social media is the tool for you to increasingly humanise your brand online. This is through online social engagement

Social media is where your customers are hanging out online. It’s the social space where ideas and opinions are exchanged and relationships forged.  Why not use this to improve the way you do business through social learning?

Improve your offering through social learning

Grasp the social norms, rules and traditions of your target demographic first-hand through social engagement. This includes both social listening and social posting. Ultimately, through engaging in the online social space you’ll learn how to better engage your target audience.

Learn how your audience talks, what they share and how they share it. See what people are expressing about you and your competition. Understand both your fans AND detractors to better shape your business.

Keeping your ear to the ground will allow you to make more informed and strategic business decisions. Knowing what your audience is saying and how they are saying it will allow you to improve your business’ offering.  You may even find a demand for something your competitors are missing that you can provide!

A specific example of how you can optimise your brand and market offering

For example, you can monitor user comments to see what people think of your business directly. You can segment your content based on topic and see which types generate the greatest interest. Then you can produce more of that type of content. You can measure conversions based on different promotions posted on various social media channels and eventually find the most effective combination to generate greatest revenue.

What are People Saying About You When You’re Not in the Room?

listen in on social media

For better or for worse, tracking people on the internet is a thing. Social media is no exception. Have you ever researched who is talking about you or your brand online?

Take a look!

The simplest way to do this is by exploring your social platform using its navigational features. For example, you can

  • Search trending hash-tags in Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
  • Check the profiles of salient influencers to your target demographic.
  • Browse the profiles of people that have liked your page or competitors’ pages.

Social mention analytical software

There’s a suite of analytical software packages that allow you to track mentions of your brand or keywords of your choosing too. You can chart popular phrases, be alerted to questions that you can answer and also be alerted to new ideas and trends so that you can improve your product-market fit.

If your interested, I highly recommend checking out the tools below. All are publicly available or have free-trials.

I suggest that you create both brand related AND product related alerts. Geo-code them with the localities you provide your services in to better consolidate your efforts into manageable size.

Reaching Out and Responding to Your Audience

Customer service on display

According to Forbes (2013), 71% of consumers who experience a quick and effective response from a business on social media are more likely to recommend that business to othersIf you pride yourself on your customer service, this is easy pickings for you. By answering customer queries and concerns you are both shaping and promoting your business and brand.

Your customer interaction on social media publicly demonstrates your service level. For example, if a customer complains about your product on Facebook you can immediately address the comment, apologise publicly, and take action to make it right. Or, if a customer compliments you, you can thank them and recommend additional products. Customer experience is enhanced and advertised.

Build your community, create your tribe

Your fans and followers opt in to hearing your unique voice (at least in regard to organic posts). It is not disruptive like paid advertisement. Rather you are like a friend interacting with them.

You should respect this relationship if you want your audience to stick around. Instead of telling people you are a rockstar, show them you are a rockstar! With the rise of ad blocking, this is a powerful tool in your marketing arsenal. 

Create brand advocates and ambassadors

Social Media can activate your audience to be your brand advocates. Social media has increased the speed content is published and consumed. You too can create viral word-of-mouth buzz and increase your exposure.

The content that you create and curate goes a long way to building your community of followers. But you can fast track this process by investing in paid advertisement and promotion. Similarly, you can reach out and network with salient influencers in your target demographic.

Don’t just collect a fans – activate them!

The most effective brands who use social media do far more than collect fans, connections and followers like baseball cards. They actively produce and ultimately drive purchasing decisions. Respecting the social environment, they build personable relationships and genuinely aim to enrich their audience’s lives.

An effective social strategy focusses on providing value to your audience. Examples of this can be assistance, curated content, or other news, tips and hacks. If you add value your community will grow to appreciate and trust you. Trust and authority are important elements of any purchase decision.

Boost Your Visitor Traffic Through Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Melbourne Sydney & Brisbane Based Digital Marketing Insights AustraliaWhy are so many people getting into blogging?

A solid social media strategy combines content marketing with search engine optimisation (SEO). The easiest way to do this is through your blog.

Syndicating your content across your social outlets with give you an initial increase in visitor traffic. But this will not last. Even the most viral content diminishes in generating traffic over time.

Publishing original high value content on your website increases you long term gains. If your content is search engine optimised for the right keywords and is set up correctly on other SEO principals then you’ll see sustained organic visitor traffic. Core reasons for this are:

  • Increased “freshness” (aka updated regularly).
  • People linkback to your content.
  • Increases high-quality inbound traffic. People coming to read your content via social posted links spend more time on your site than other referral traffic, on average.

How will blogging effect your bottom line?

Some interesting facts about blogs.

  • 34% of Fortune 500 companies now maintain active blogs, the largest since 2008. (Forbes, 2014)
  • Every month, an average of 329 million people read blogs.
  • 37% of marketers say blogs are the most valuable content type for marketing.
  • Companies that publish new blog posts 15+ times per month (3-4 posts per week) generate 5x more traffic than companies that don’t blog at all. (NewsCred, 2013)

With statistics like these it’s no wonder that 17% of marketers actively sought to increase their blogging efforts last year. (Forbes, 2014)

Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket. There’s Some Potential Downsides of Social Media Marketing Too

You need to have a plan

Social media may not be suited to every business. Like with any form of marketing, if you are unprepared and launch your social media presence without proper planning, you could waste valuable time, effort and money.

For example, say you make your big launch and attract a following. Then, you suddenly stop engaging with the community without warning. You’ve just abandoned your friends! You’ve broken, or at very least damaged, the social relationships that you’ve spent your hard work and resources building.

Watch out for the rouge keyboard warriors

Unlike a blog, comments on most social platforms are published without your direct approval. Whilst you can influence what people say about you, ultimately what people say about you is their decision. This runs the risk of unwanted or inappropriate behaviour on your site, including bullying, trolling and harassment.

Regular monitoring of your profiles reduces this problem. Preparing a social media policy and emergency procedure beforehand helps mitigate your risk. Moreover, as I’ve discussed above, you can turn a “negative” into a “positive” by taking positive affirmative action to resolve issues which will both increase and advertise your customer service level.

Social Media is a Rented Platform

Unlike a website, your social media account is a rented platform. You do not own it and you must abide by the rules of platform administrators. If you’re particularly “naughty”, then your profile will be taken away form you.

Owners make rules, not tenants

LinkedIn and Facebook are an important part of my online marketing. But they aren’t integral. Social media platforms are too fickle for that. It’s an ever evolving landscape that can’t be predicted.

What thrives today might be gone tomorrow. Myspace once reigned supreme in the social media space. Now it’s all but gone. Twitter too now faces increased pressures to remain viable. (Because they only made $590 Million USD this quarter instead of Wall Street’s dream of $610 Million USD!).

I’m not saying that you should be ignoring social media. Far from it. I think its a great publication outlet and if used appropriately you can get a lot form it. Use of social media platforms should fall in-line with a larger marketing strategy. One that doesn’t rely heavily on uncontrollability and allows you to stay adaptive in an ever-changing landscape.

For example, Facebook consistently amends its algorithm. Recently they have reduced business’ organic reach in favour of paid advertising. People that had invested heavily in building a large followings went from having millions of people viewing their posts to thousands after Facebook changed the rules.

Building your email list should be a priority. Social media is a great resource for this as you can convert your followers to email subscribers. It might not be as hip or trendy as social media, but an email list is truly one of the strongest assets you have as a business owner because it’s yours.

Summing Up, How Important is Social Media for You and Your Business?

It’s definitely important, but don’t rely on it

Social media is a powerful tool in your marketing arsenal. It’s the online domain where the vast majority of today’s population interact daily. It’s where you can both shape and advertise yourself and brand.

Social media is clearly here to stay, but unlikely how we currently see it because it’s a fluid ever-evolving landscape. Platforms are becoming increasingly ephemeral and this is something that you should be taking into consideration by including social media into an adaptive broader marketing strategy.

Whilst you cannot absolutely control what people say about you, you can influence. So, how are you situating yourself and your business in the conversation?

If you would like help with your social media and broader digital marketing strategy, feel free to get in contact with me. Discover how I can unpack your digital marketing so you can get more leads and sales coming through to your business.  Leave a comment if you have any thoughts or questions!

 

Kieran Sukas | Digital Marketing Insights Sydney Australia

Kieran Sukas | Founder & Principal Consultant of DMI 

How Important Is Social Media For Your Business?
Kieran Sukas is the founder of Digital Marketing Insights in Sydney Australia. He unpacks digital marketing for you and your business.
Written by: Kieran Sukas
Date Published: 05/04/2016

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