Studying Here and There

I started out just wanting to write a quick update, but this definitely turned into something more! Well, that’s what blogging is all about, I guess.

On the learning front, I’ve been working through Future Learn’s Social Business course. It’s been really informative in how to build a potential business, and also how to measure business success in ways other than financial gain, by measuring social impact.

This allows businesses to balance between the customers who provide more social impact but less money, and more commercial products/services/customers who provide the money that keeps the business ticking over. Their method of Social Return on Investment is to give activities and services an monetary unit, (m.u.) that it didn’t already have, using customer/client surveys to produce the relevant data.

Elsewhere, I’m still keeping up with Duolingo French. The further on trying to learn a language goes, the less it feels like I’m keeping up, but Duolingo is set up to send encouraging emails when I’m falling behind on my daily practice, which definitely gives me the push to keep it up. (Future Learn does this too, once you’ve not logged in for a set amount of time.) According to the site, I’ve progressed from 17% fluency to 43%, so whatever that means, I feel confident putting French on my LinkedIn profile at least!

Today I signed up for new Highbrow course, this time on ‘How to generate more leads through your website‘. It doesn’t come through until tomorrow lunchtime – specified times on Highbrow are now a premium feature, along with certain courses, which is how I thought they might monetise the site. I’ll get some notes and thoughts together on that course once I’ve had a few days on it.

Finally, I’ve been exploring another new way to get bite-sized marketing learning into my day with the Marketing School | Digital Marketing podcast, which is exactly long enough to fit into my walk from the railway station to my work.


FutureLearn: Digital Transformation of Businesses – Notes Part Three

This post is a continuation of my previous one covering my Digital Transformation of Business. Again rather than a post on a single topic of this FutureLearn course, it is a collection of important points from the course notes and some of my thoughts on them.

Sensorial marketing
– this is about marketing stimulus. When you see, watch or hear an advert, it has an effect on you. It might call upon certain emotions or memories. 

Personal note: this is why multi-channel marketing works!

In digital marketing, people make purchase decisions much more quickly, so that stimulus is important. People using social media etc. are getting a huge amount of stimulus, so yours has to ‘create a rich experience’ to stand out. Also communication via mobile platforms should be a priority esp if marketing to the under 35s.
Also note the sheer level of competition against you, and that in social media all brands have a level platform to advertise from. So something about your brand needs to be able to stand out both to draw in clients and to keep them.

 (note from previous post – it’s also easier to keep current customers than to create new ones so it’s good to keep an eye on the competition. You will need to know what they are doing and whether they might have something that could entice people away from you.) User testing your digital customer experience is also important- checking that you’re creating a good purchase experience. The steps within the customer experience are called ‘Service components’.

FutureLearn: Digital Transformation of Businesses – Notes Part Two

This is a continuation of sorts from this post – I’m continuing to make notes from my latest  FutureLearn course. Some of these aren’t entirely connected- instead I’m making comments on what I think are the most relevant points of the course material so far. I’m planning to get a few more posts out of this, but I’ll likely be alternating them with other content.

The Importance of producing content (e.g. Blogposts, video etc)

Producing great content leads to inbound marketing. This is the opposite of the standard advertising model, where you are reaching out to the customer. You should be doing both, along with earned media, which is recommendations, and data collection/analysis.
The difference between product marketing and service marketing: 
The primary factor that distinguishes a service from a product is the fact a service is intangible. However, both products and services are built around the idea of use.

Service marketing is therefore the combination of all processes related to client and partner relationships, often referred to as CRM and PRM, as well as social networks.

Client relationships, social network and data analysis all have to work to together to create a seamless customer experience – so that every digital action that the customer has is easy, quick and a positive experience. 

A service position is what will come to define the company’s style and public persona, so it’s important that the entire company, especially those in sales and customer facing positions (but not just those people) understand it. 

(Personal note: this is where a company/organisation) could benefit from a style guide laid out in inductions and regularly updated, much like a branding guide. Does and don’ts when communicating online etc.)

Some Digital Marketing Notes

I’m currently working my way through another FutureLearn course – this time on digital marketing. Rather than summarise what I’ve learned each week, I’ve decided to cherry pick specific concepts and topics to write notes on.

Digital Marketing and Listening 

One of the most important parts of digital marketing is to be always listening to your customers, because they can communicate with you instantly and expect that back. Also to understand anything about your customer, and that they, their opinions and their needs may change very quickly, so you need to anticipate responding to them in a different way each time.
Of course, despite knowing all this it’s a bad idea to over communicate with a customer/client and appear to know too much.
(Some personal thoughts- examples of this might be companies that search their name on social networks such as Twitter to find users discussing them/complaining about them when not directly addressing them, or companies that search users interacting with rival companies in order to advertise their own services. This can be deeply intrusive and reflect badly on the organisation.) 

Future Learn: Sharing Online – Reflecting and Sharing Week One

The University of Leeds runs a frequent series of courses on FutureLearn about different facts of online learning, and how to improve your learning experience. While I’ve been learning online for quite a while, I’ve always meant to go through these courses and see if there is anything that could help improve my experience, so I’ve started with the ‘Reflecting and Sharing’ course, to see what they recommend.

It was nice to have the first week of the course recommend things that I already do – like this blog! I was also reminded of the use of Padlet, which I still have on my phone after initially writing about it, but haven’t used much since. We were asked to upload a picture to the course padlet – any picture, so I quickly woke my cat up for this beautiful webcam image… she wasn’t really impressed…

The course also recommended listening to or even starting a podcast – full confession, I’ve harboured podcast ambitions for years but probably not for this. It reminded me to look again for some business studies podcasts as they would be a good learning experience while commuting/travelling. It also recommended this book – Study Skills Connected: Using Technology to Support Your Studies, which I’m intrigued by and might look out for.

This is a two-week course, and I’m excited for next week’s section as it involves a written exercise. I’ve already been scanning ahead in the course material and hopefully I’ll have something to contribute.


Blaugust 31: A Whole Month of Posts

I’m done! Across one month, thirty-one days, I’ve produced one (sometimes more than one) blog post per day! This is my second year doing the Blaugust challenge, and while both time I succeeded and finished the month, this time felt a lot easier. Mainly, that had to do with my Future Learn courses, which gave me plenty to talk about, and meant I didn’t need to crawl around various websites trying to find a topic that was relevant and inspired me to write something meaningful about it.

What I learned from this year’s Blaugust
As I mentioned above, having a topic to start with definitely helps, and also gives this blog some kind of continuity, rather than just bouncing from subject to subject, or (something I’ve been frequently guilty of!) planning to go back to a topic and then not doing it.  

Also, posts really don’t have to be that long. Back in university, I remember reading a book which claimed that the best posts should be no more than 200-300 words in length. Of course, I never stuck to that back then, because I felt it would never be enough to articulate what I want to say. Sometimes it still isn’t, but if I’m just writing about a single subject, it’s enough space to make my point without starting to go in depth to the point where I have to write an awful lot to make sure everything makes sense. 

I frequently wrote several posts at a time, rather than one per day. While this might not be entirely in the spirit of Blaugust, they were all written within August and it definitely took some pressure off for days when I was busy, or travelling etc. This also helped with the planning side of things- I could write several posts on a similar topic and schedule them. 

But perhaps most importantly, I really got the learning bug over this month, and I think maybe it’s time to look for something for long term and formal as my career progresses. I’ve already started getting in contact with some organisations and if I do decide to go ahead, I’ll make sure to post my notes here! Posting my Future Learn course notes turned out to be a free learning aid, as I had to totally understand what I was writing about to order to make something that would be understandable to others and I’d like to continue with that.

Blaugust 28 – Using Padlet

During my Future Learn Smart Cities course, we used a system called Padlet to upload image and make notes on activities. I’d only used it in the browser version (there is a app, which I’ve been using since.)

It did feel slightly like a virtual classroom environment, as people chose a space on the pad, and wrote in a text box and/or added links and images which the rest of the users could see, as if they were all displayed on a classroom table (without the potential peer pressure and judgement of being around actual other people) but I didn’t expect to need to use it outside of Smart Cities or other similar courses.

However after glancing through some of the emails I’ve had from Padlet (see, email advertising – it does work!) I’ve not only discovered plenty of free and potentially useful content, I’ve also realised how it could be useful to me as a note-taking and sort-of rough blogging platform in the future.

I’ve been reading some live blogs that have been end via Padlet from conferences, where one person is writing up the content and others have been able to pop in and make comments or suggestions. As I (hopefully) move back into more formalised learning, I will be able to put up rough lecture notes – the stuff that I probably wouldn’t put up here without serious revision.