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Social Media Portal interview with Bryony Thomas author of Watertight Marketing

Tim Gibbon (Social Media Portal (SMP)) - 31 January 2013

Social Media Portal interview with Bryony Thomas author of Watertight Marketing

Social Media Portal (SMP) profiled interview with Bryony Thomas author of Watertight Marketing published by Anoma Press

Watertight Marketing book cover imageSocial Media Portal (SMP): What is your name and what do you do there at Clear Thought Consulting for you day job?

Bryony Thomas (BT): Chief Clear Thinker. I support growing businesses through six to twelve-month marketing transformation programmes to put a marketing operation in place for their business that delivers sustainable sales results in the long term.

SMP: Briefly, tell us about the book Watertight Marketing you've recently authored (for those that don’t know), what’s it about?

BT: Watertight Marketing is an entrepreneur’s step-by-step guide to putting a marketing operation in place for their business that delivers long-term sales results. No fluff. No jargon. No hype. Just clear, inspirational, but practical ideas that will put your business on a sustainable upward curve.

SMP: Who are your target audience and why?

Photograph of Bryony Thomas author of Watertight MarketingBT: The person I had in my mind whilst writing was the MD of a growing business that’s looking to step things up. They’ll already be pretty clear about what they’re selling and to whom. Now, they want to scale it. They want to get better rewards for the effort put in. They’re at that stage where they need to start ‘doing things properly’ in order to grow.

With marketing, this means they’ve tried a few things. Some will have worked, some will have failed. Often more by luck than judgement. Watertight Marketing will turn that on its head. It will give an entrepreneur the marketing judgement to make sure that they’re always lucky on the sales front.

SMP: Why did you decide to write this book?

BT: I wrote Watertight Marketing because I find it genuinely heartbreaking to see businesses with phenomenal potential trapped on an exhausting sales rollercoaster. I want to turn this around, making sure that they’re getting the very best from every ounce of effort that they, and every member of their team, puts into making their business a success.

The best way to do this is to make sure that a business isn’t leaking profit. I’ve worked in marketing since 1997, and encountered hundreds of businesses in that time; pulling this all together I’ve identified 17 key ways that businesses waste money on their marketing. However tight people think they have it, I’ve yet to encounter a single business that couldn’t step it up – by simply plugging the profit leaks.

SMP: How will you initially attract potential readers of the book, and what are the long-term plans?

BT: As you might imagine, I am feeling the pressure to put together an exemplary book marketing programme – you’ve got to practice what you preach, right?! So, I’ll be doing an integrated mix of activities. My main social media outlets will start with Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, I will then build these up with YouTube videos, Slidecasts, etc. There will be a new blog post at least weekly, a monthly subscriber newsletter and you can expect to be invited to attend an online event once per month. Then there are the more traditional public relations and speaking events too.

In terms of future plans, I was over the moon to secure £5,055 through crowd funding via to support the book’s publication. I’m investing this in the companion website. There are exciting plans afoot for a community of entrepreneurs following the Watertight Marketing approach, in which they can get support from me, and their peers, over 12 months. For this, I’m working with Ego Interactive to create a powerful content hub and interactive tools.

SMP: What are the low moments of what you have been doing so far (regarding writing and publishing the book)?

BT: I rather madly thought I could finish my manuscript with a newborn baby to care for. I don’t know what I was thinking, but the reality was that I wanted to give my daughter my undivided attention whilst she was tiny. I started writing again when she was about 8 months-old, and delivered the final manuscript the night before her first birthday. So, I’d say the low moments were each time the publication date moved further from view.

SMP: What are the high moments of what you have been doing so far (regarding writing and publishing the book)?

BT: I found developing the visual elements extremely thought-provoking. So many marketing books are hard to read – full of jargon, assumptions about prior knowledge and convoluted diagrams that suggest a much tidier world than actually exists. I wanted Watertight Marketing to be a book that any intelligent adult could understand, enjoy and put into action. The cartoons – by Simon Ellinas – are great to add some humour. I’m also finding these great to use in presentations now as they completely change the tone of the room. Working with Lizzie Everard on the editorial illustrations – diagrams and such – forced me to clarify my thinking even further. I’m more of a words person. Lizzie is a visual person and she helped me enormously in expressing my ideas for people whose minds are wired differently. This means that the book is accessible to more people.

Watertight Marketing Thirteen Touchpoint LeaksSMP: What do you see as your biggest challenges and opportunities for smaller businesses?

BT: I know this is a social media site, so it seems a bit glib to say social media. But, I do think that smaller businesses are perfectly placed to make the most of the opportunities the new tools provide. Social media works best when real people talk honestly to other real people. In larger businesses, with complex approval processes and a tendency for control freakery, it can be hard to be nimble, responsive and authentic. Smaller businesses that have the courage to put themselves out there will reap the benefits. Leak #3 on my Thirteen Touchpoint Leaks is when a company has no emotional connection with a buyer, making it harder to cross the final hurdle and become a loyal customer. The one-to-one relationships that can be built through social media are excellent for stemming this leak.

SMP: What’s the next big step for social media / networks and what role do you see having for small businesses?

BT: I’m working with a technology company at the moment, their ability to bring an appropriate call-to-action into a video online and on any mobile device looks like pretty disruptive technology to me. It will take video out of the fluffy ‘brand building’ pot and put it firmly into the measurable toolkit.

SMP: What was the most challenging part of building the book presence in digital environments (including social media)?

BT: Time. There is so much I want to do to get people to engage with the material and put it into powerful effect in their businesses. I’m having to be really disciplined in following my own advice in having at least one tool for each step in the sales process, and only increasing this when I have these working well.

SMP: What’s going to be the most interesting aspect regarding social media / technology throughout 2012 and into 2013; how could marketing have an impact upon this for small businesses?

BT: In the last few years it has been relatively easy to stand out in social media, and through content, by simply being there. As more and more people get into using these techniques, we’ll each need to work harder to earn the right to a person’s time. It will be fascinating to see what the innovators do as the masses get on board.

SMP: What are your top five predictions for social media for the next 12 to 18-months – what are the top things that small businesses need to know?

BT replies with:
  • The big three social platforms will become commonplace in business: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. It will be more noticeable if you’re not represented in these places than if you are.

  • Visual content will become even more important. The rise of infographics and Pinterest has already raised the bar for visuals. This will only grow.

  • Video will become a must-have. A combination of factors, including the lowering of expectations on production standards (courtesy of YouTube), Smartphones and 4G making video more reliable on the move, and with the younger generation who’ve grown up with video now joining the workforce – make it an increasingly powerful tool.

  • More people will do it badly. As social media goes mainstream, we will see lots of people taking a bit of a ‘paint by numbers’ approach, making it harder to find the real gems.

  • The very best companies will be smart about integrating on and offline media – with lots of opportunities to meet real people in the real world alongside relationship building in the ether.

SMP: What are your top five social media tips for small businesses in using social media from you’ve understood in writing your book and your experience in general?

BT replies with:
  • Be clear what your purpose is. If you’re using social media for business make sure that 60-80% of your activity is at least broadly related to your topic or area of expertise. Variety is great, but it can also be very confusing.

  • Show some personality.

  • Your order of priorities in social media should be Listen > Connect > Converse > Share and last of all > Broadcast.

  • Avoid yo-yo marketing – choose a baseline mix of activities that you can commit to doing day-in, day-out, rather than chopping and changing all the time.

  • Be smart with lists, tags, circles, etc. to make sure you navigate to the best material and most interesting people, quickly.

SMP: What other books are planned upon the horizon?

BT: I have two e-books planned. One is ‘Watertight Social Media Marketing’ and the other is ‘A-Z of Content Marketing Ideas’.

SMP: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

BT: I’ll be speaking, in a case study session with Sonja Jefferson (author of Valuable Content Marketing) at TFM&A on 26th February. It’s a free event in London – it would be great to see you there.

SMP: Best way to contact you and about Watertight Marketing?

BT replies with:

Twitter @watertightmkg

Watertight Marketing by Bryony Thomas is published by Anoma Press and available at Amazon for £14.99.

Now some questions for fun

SMP:  What did you have for breakfast / lunch?

BT: Porridge with blackcurrant jam.

SMP: What’s the last good thing that you did for someone?

BT: An old friend is getting back into work as a photographer following a career break; she’s looking to beef up her portfolio. So, I’ve hooked her up with a number of clients for shoots in the next month or so.

SMP: How many hours to you work a week?

BT:  Supposedly 28, as this is the childcare cover I have. But, if I count evenings and weekends I’d imagine it’s up to 40-odd.

SMP: If you weren’t working at Clear Thought Consulting and writing books, what would you be doing?

BT: Spending time with my family.

SMP: If you were running another small business, what would it be?

BT: I have rather a hankering to develop a toy idea that I came up with when I was a child… maybe that’s one for 2014.

SMP: When and where did you go on your last holiday?

BT: France – May 2012. It rained. Really need another one!

SMP: What’s the first thing you do when you get into the office of a morning?

BT: Check my social media platforms.

SMP: If you had a superpower what would it be and why?

BT: To be able to pause time. I’d love to hit pause, get everything sorted just as I’d like it, then hit play again.

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