Coach OR advisor OR mentor? No, it’s not the same.

Pile of hatsAre there too many coaches in the kitchen? Definitely! When coaching became popular in business a few years back many consultants and advisors jumped on the trendy bandwagon, eager to call themselves coaches without checking the implications. The resulting mishmash not only devalues the field of coaching, it makes for messy work processes. There’s a right time for coaching, advice, teaching, process leadership, consulting and mentoring, just not all at once. Here’s why and how.

The Coach

Defined: The main (and most often misunderstood) thing that separates coaching from the others titles is that the coach does not give any answers. A true coach uses tested techniques to lead the coachee to find their own answers. The questions should be open and guiding, no pushing or coaxing allowed.

Marketing use: Strategic. I use coaching in the initial phase of a project to discover, together with the client, the core of what they really need and want. It’s ideal for establishing values and goals. I get pure and valuable insight and understanding before I start advising, while the client gains clarity, ownership and ultimately a better integrated solution.

If you’re interested in learning more about coaching or finding a coach, check out The International Coach Federation . They hold the standard for the field and certify coaches as well as coaching educations accordingly, including CTI, where I have my training.

The advisor

Defined: The Advisor does just that: she advises. The advise is usually based on her experience as it relates to a speciality, and her interpretation of what the client needs in that area. Of these three roles this one is the broadest, and can be used in a variety of roles – teaching, consulting, team or process leadership, etc. This is the area where you get to bring something new to the table and to show your special skills. Most of us are eager to get to this, so unfortunately many spend too little time really listening to the clients needs before they start solving the perceived assignment. Not infrequently they come up with clever, but not necessarily fitting or lasting solutions without the proper groundwork. An advisory role can easily be combined with hands-on implementation.

Marketing use: Since I am a marketing professional, this is the role I am most often called upon to have. Most people hire me to use my advertising experience to improve theirs. I often start workshops with teaching about the possibilities before the collaborative sessions start. Then I switch roles to process leader. I advise when I work as a consultant, and also when I follow by giving advice and making suggestions based on web analytics.

the Mentor

Defined: The mentor is called upon primarily for her experience. She is a guiding star, most likely with a success the mentee identifies with and would like to replicate. She shares of her success formula to help others, but is rarely directly involved in the work of the mentee. On the contrary – the distance is part of the value, so she can maintain and contribute with a bird’s eye view.

Marketing use: For clients who choose to handle marketing themselves, a mentor gives them a useful external perspective. After all, marketing is all about connecting with people on the outside. When you are on the inside it’s easy to loose sight because you are too close to the product. You can fall into the traps of talking to yourself in tribal formulations, product codes, or irrelevant marketing. That’s when it’s good to have a mentor with a different angle. My mentoring has usually  been for workshop clients where I know their products as their goals, so I am able to efficiently dive into their situation and give my advice while keeping a keen eye on the broad strokes. As a mentor I work to make you better.

So you see, each role has its distinct merits and advantages. They also have their own “language” of communication. Many of us are required to wear more than one of these hats in our jobs, and it makes our lives interesting. But wear them all at once and you’re likely to become a confused, marketing schizophrenic.

How to spot a mixer

So if your coach comes to you and start telling you what to do, she’s not coaching, but advising. If she starts asking you leading questions, such as “Have you considered using social media marketing?” she’s not coaching, but might be mentoring. But if she asks you, upon your offering an interest in social media marketing “How do you see that fulfilling your marketing goals?” you might be looking at a coach. Follow along, and you’re probably about to find out that you have a lot more resources to draw upon than you thought you did.

Whichever you are or have, make sure working together inspires!


How can anyone be against marketing ROI?

When I was starting my little agency and the name Webroi first came up, I met some skepticism. A lot of people aren’t marketing to make more money, was one of the arguments. This shocked me a bit, for to me ROI in marketing should be a no brainer. Here’s how.

In pinball, ROI is measured in time

What ROI should mean in marketing

ROI means return on investment. Positive ROI means getting back a value grater than what you put in. Negative ROI means the opposite – getting back less than you invested. So far so good. The misconception begins when you limit this value to money. Especially when you assume that by value in return it means a dollar amount in return. This may work for the financial industry, where this acronym apparently originated, but for marketing ROI or ROMI(Return of Marketing Investment) this definition short-changes the potential.

ROMI is more than money

Your marketing investment includes money, time (which we all know is money) and possibly some other assets (reputation etc). Your return, however, is interdependent on your goal for the marketing activity. If your goal is sales, then this can be measured in  money. If, however, your goal is to raise awareness for a public cause, this can be completely different. It may be volunteers, petition signatures, followers, advocates or sponsors. It can even be press coverage or politicial awareness for lobbying, for all I know. The point is, if you get more of whatever your value is than you invested, then you have positive ROI. If not, It’s negative.

A ROI example

If you have $5 000 dollars to get you 100 new members by 2013 and your Google Analytics account pr 31.12.2012 shows 1000 new members that track to these advertising spendings, then thats a great ROI. Instead of each member costing you $50 dollars they cost you $5. Money saved may not be money earned in this case, but it’s an opportunity to get more for your money. Who doesn’t want that? Wether you’re spending tax payers money or that of your sponsors, investors or your own hard earned cash, I sure hope this is your goal.

The nature of the marketing beast

Now think about the nature of marketing in general: Hasn’t the whole point of marketing always been to get more back than you invested? Although it’s harder to measure in most traditional media than it is on the Internet, the goal has always been positive ROI. Why else bother?

3 simple steps to web marketing ROI:

  1. Set SMART goals. Smart stands for Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. Without this you can’t measure to find out the ROI. Remember, It’s better to start with a goal you have to adjust than no goal at all – intelligent  “guestimation” is allowed until the numbers are in.
  2. Get ready to measure right from the start. Make sure your website is  hooked up to an Analytics tool like Google Analytics (free) and that it is set up to measure on what your goals are. It’s no point in counting visitors when what you need to know is how many signed the membership form, for example. Even if you have others doing the work for you I strongly recommend to learn to understand your own data. The ad agency and your IT department are not looking for the same things as you are in the data.
  3. Optimize your optimizations. Do more of what works, less of what does not. If someone else is doing the marketing for you, make sure they do this. Ask questions based on the data in your analytics. Good web marketing for ROI isn’t just a campaign effort but a continuing process. That’s what gives the great opportunities for continual improvement, just getting better and better.

So, what gives you marketing ROI?

Gulltaggen tilbake på sporet

Takker for en underholdende dag, og en fargerik debatt rundt Gulltaggen i går. Webbransjen jeg opprinnelig trodde var en andedam viste seg å være et enda mindre vannglass, og oppi der ble det storm. Litt bevisst provoserende retorikk fra Nina Furu var alt som skulle til, og avsporingen fra en konstruktiv debatt var et faktum. (Heder og ære til viktige unntak – ingen nevnt, ingen glemt.)

Det som kanskje overrasket meg mest var at en relativt samlet webbransje hev seg som fisk i stim etter de enkle poengene, etter gullkalven og syndebukken. Istedenfor å holde fokus på problem eller løsning, ble debatten tweet for tweet og kommentar for kommentar redusert til to synsearenaer: Er nettbutikken AntiSweden bra eller dårlig? Og hvilke av de andre kategoriene/ juryene er mer seriøse/ webkorrekte enn syndebukken årets nettsted?

Tilbake på sporet nå

Men det er jo ikke dette som er problemet, og det er i hvert fall ikke løsningen. Poenget er at det er noe galt med hele Gulltaggen-konkurransen, og vi bør fokusere på hva som kan reparere den så vi slipper en like pinlig affære til neste år.  Konferansen og hele arrangementet er nå på et så høyt internasjonalt nivå (Du burde vært der, Nina) at konkurransen henger igjen som en skamplett på programmet. Jeg sier skamplett fordi den ikke har utviklet seg i takt med det INMA har fått til med konferansen og utdelingen for øvrig i det hele tatt.

Hva burde vi gjøre?

  • Skaff friskt blod i juryer og sekretariat: Det er påfallende hvordan de forskjellige juryene faller for de samme nettstedene i så vidt forskjellige kategorier at noe må gjøres. Noe av skylden kan legges på mitt 3. punkt her, men vi er et lite land, en liten bransje, og det blir for homogent. 
Løsning: Konferansen syder av høyst kompetente utlendinger (også fra våre naboland som skjønner språket). Hva med å trekke inn noen av dem i hver jury? Det skal nok ikke så mange til før vi får endret dynamikken og får inn  friske synsvinkler. Med dagens teknologi burde man kunne gjøre mye av forarbeidet med de langveisfarende over nett.
  • Ha oppvask i kategoriene: Internettet har gått videre siden en del av disse ble funnet opp. Man har lagt til nye, men ikke tatt høyde for at de gamle må byttes ut/opdateres også. Det ser man ikke minst på kriteriene, som overlapper. Se bare på finalistene i kategorien informasjonsnettsted og prøv å sammenlikne. 
For mye passer i for mange kategorier, mens andre jobber passer ikke i noen. Løsning: Start med en ny kategori for brukergenerert innhold og ikke stopp før kategoriene og kriteriene reflekterer weben slik vi bruker den i dag. I bonus vil vi sannsynligvis få et mer bevisst skille mellom kampanjer på nettstedet og til nettstedet, og sider der markedsføring er underordnet informasjonsformidlingen.
  • Belønn de virkelige vinnerne: I dag ser det ut til at de som har råd å sende inn i flest kategorier vinner mest. De får lov å svare litt som de vil i begrunnelsen. Blant annet er det påfallende få som tar med andre enn sitt eget selskap på listen over deltakere, enda alle vet at dagens komplekse vinnerløsninger sjelden utføres av et byrå alene. Selv de som bare har gjort korrektivt design slipper unna uten å dele ære med opprinnelig utformer eller de som står bak grafisk profil som bare er blitt tilpasset en ny kanal. Dette er verken rettferdig eller seriøst.
 Løsning: still strengere krav til fulstendig besvarelse og dobbeltsjekk gjerne med oppdragsgiver. 
Og kan man ha noen virkelige publikumspriser utover innsendte arbeider, også, mon tro?

Det finnes sikkert andre viktige punkter, som forhåpentligvis de som er mer innvidde i systemet enn jeg kan bidra med. Poenget er uansett at vi må sammen fokusere på endring og utvikling av konkurransen for at den i det hele tatt skal ha livets rett. Som en del av webreklamebransjen deler jeg ikke Ninas syn på det hun generaliserende kaller reklamefolk.  Jeg er på ingen måte alene om fokus på annet enn flashy kampanjesiter med dekorativ enveiskommunikasjon, for eksempel. Det vet enhver som var på konferansen. Derfor må vi skape en konkurranse som ivaretar mangfoldet på samme måte som Gulltaggens konferansedel gjør, slik at vi sitter igjen med en helstøpt pakke i 2011.