Tag Archive | "LinkedIn"

Should SMEs rethink their Internet marketing strategies?

Owners of small firms should always keep their customers in mind when they think about putting their business online, according to the founder of KKSmarts, a web promotion company.

Mike Seddon said that some firms lose sight of important things when they have a website created. The two questions they should always ask themselves are, why the website is being created and who it is being targeted to.

Well known brands will want to have the highest ranking on their brand name, whilst competitive tradesmen, such as electricians and plumbers, will want to rank highly for trade related phrases.

He went on to say that firms seem to lose sight of reality and think they will reach the whole world, rather than thinking where the customers are and how they will search for what they want on the Internet.

As well as falling down in the website design stakes, small businesses and online accountants are not leveraging the power of social media efficiently.

IFF Research’s SME Omnibus study shows that only 5% of small business decision makers use and fully exploit Facebook as a marketing tool. 18% think LinkedIn is an effective sales generating tool, but only 3% take advantage of all of its features. Twitter fares no better with figures of 17% and 4% respectively.

Mark Speed from IFF Research commenting on the findings said that social media is not necessarily the right set of tools for every business, but there seems to be a big divide between those who think it is effective for lead generation and those who actually take advantage of it.

He went on to point out that there are simple ways to engage online with customers, such as updating a company website with information that will appeal to its readers. However, the study showed that of the firms with a website, 16% update it at most once a year.

© 2011 All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

Image: Internet Marketing Plan with red markers by IvanWalsh.com

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Online accountants should embrace social media

The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants has urged contractor accountants to embrace web 2.0 solutions to enhance their offerings.

The CIMA says that online accountants must use social media tools to streamline their business processes if they are to improve accounting practices. As the organisation recently discovered, very few accountants use social networking on a regular basis, but those that do reported that their effectiveness improved.

Web 2.0 technologies improve coordination, provide greater accessibility to knowledge and build up team relationships but accountants find it difficult to quantify these benefits.

CIMA’s R&D manager, Naomi Smith, pointed out that the younger generation of accountants are suing modern technologies to a much greater extent than their older counterparts. But she pointed out that all accountants should be taking advantage of the opportunities provided by social networking tools. Web 2.0 offers new ways of communicating with business colleagues, especially those based far away.

She went on to say that using these tools empowers employees to take more responsibility for organising business processes, knowledge and workplaces.

It seems strange that accountants are reluctant to use these new tools. Social networking sites, such as LinkedIn, are great places to capture new business through referrals. As we emerge from the recession, contractor accountants may want to expand their client base. And social media is an excellent way to do this.

© 2011 All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

Image: Twitter Bird Sketch by shawncampbell

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Bring on Utopia

I finished last week by saying that we really need to start to think about how the contractor recruitment market needs to change if we are to get away from the commoditised, one-size-fits-all, dystopian model we are currently stuck with. That model works quite well for the recruiters but it’s not helping a lot of contractors and perhaps also isn’t really helping the end clients. Time for Utopia perhaps?

First though we have to accept that the contractor market – or at least the IT/Telecoms market where I work – is increasingly split into two discrete areas. One grouping – probably the largest by far – contains all the bulk, generalised but still important skills. The other grouping is rather more varied, and contains people who have either specialised or senior skills (or both!).

For the former group the current market does actually work. Well, it does if you ignore the increasing pressure to offshore such roles. The only real problem is the old one of persuading the agents that these skills are actually transferable across industry verticals, but let’s not get too optimistic. Generally speaking these guys don’t have that much of a problem assuming there’s work for them to do.

However the other group present a different challenge, the one I was talking about last week. Too often these are the guys who get stuck because the agents don’t know who they are and what they can do. The ones where keyword matching has little effect and who have to pray the agent has enough wit to read and understand their CV.

So how do we persuade the agents that these guys need a different approach and need to be sold proactively rather than hit and hope?

How about they pay the agent rather than the client? Just like actors do already? “Ah hah!” I hear you cry, “You can’t charge work seekers for finding them work”. Well no, you can’t, that’s enshrined in the Agency Regulations. But what if the Agency Regulations don’t apply? Say, for example, by the worker (and their company) opting out of the provisions of the Agency Regulations altogether? Then the agent stops being a work-finder and becomes an outsourced marketing operation

So how does that help?

For one thing, the better the agent knows the contractor, the more likely he is to be able to sell them when an opening appears. When filing a new role, rather than waiting for the right CV to appear through Jobserve – along with two hundred useless ones – he will have a stable of good people and will be able to suggest one (or two) to the client right away. Also he can go to the client with a zero margin offer. Also he has to look after his contractors for a reasonable cut of the gross and keep them fed with work or they’ll simply go elsewhere. The more high-value contractors you have in work, the more money you make – but without the tedious rework and box-ticking that goes on at the moment. You might even specialise in a given discipline so clients look to you first when they need someone special.

Of course there are agents out there who work that way at the moment (albeit charging the client rather than the contractor) but they are rare beasts. The increasing use of sites like LinkedIn to bypass the agency by a lot of senior contractors says to me that the agency model as is does not offer them the right support and marketing. This kind of change is desperately needed.

Snag is, the average agency is too risk averse to try it. Utopia may have to wait a while. Heigh ho…

Alan Watts can found at LinkedIn.
© 2010 All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

Image: San Miguel Strong Ice Beer by Roro Fernandez

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