How to write an effective bio

It quickly became clear to me that my intended two-line response to a blog post about writing your own biography had inadvertently grown long enough to be a post of it’s own.

In the original post the author discusses why it is more difficult to write your own biography than someone else’s, and rightly reasons that you need to step outside yourself and see yourself as others do in order to make a success of it.

As a senior marketing and PR manager  I’ve had to write a lot of bios, including my own. As with all writing for business communications, you must start with a clear idea of who your audience is – who you are writing for. You need to determine what they will want to take out of it – what are the important points they want to know, and that are likely to elicit the response you want from them. Then tailor your writing to suit their needs, focusing on the most important points and filtering out extraneous information.

I’ve seen bios of very senior people with a lot of personal information in (family, kids, hobbies, etc,.). This may be fine if for some reason you really need to take a fluffy humanistic approach to your audience, but too often it is just self-indulgent. I will venture that most of the time your business audience doesn’t need to know – and doesn’t care.

If you are writing for a serious business crowd, whose schedules may only afford you a moment of their time (eg. potentially major client contracts or investors), then you will want to cut down on the personal fluff and focus on the facts that are going to reassure them that your management team has the credentials to ensure their investment in your company will yield the outcomes they want. They probably aren’t that interested in the fact that you kite-surf every Sunday morning or that your wife’s called Gemimah.

The same is often said for resume/CV writing, that the personal stuff is really just a footnote – many say forget it altogether, your employer wants to know you can do the job. In fact, I would suggest many of the same principles apply to both resumes and bios. Keep it concise and relevant to the audience, focus on the most salient points and make it absolutely clear why your audience should care.

Perhaps the trickiest part about bio writing is appealing to multiple audiences with different needs. In such cases you will be looking to strike a balance that serves to meet common needs as far as possible.

You can view the original blog post on the subject here:



Is Traditional Marketing Still Effective?

Is Traditional Marketing Still Effective? |.

This is an interesting article that asks whether traditional marketing still has a place in your marketing plan alongside digital and internet marketing.

With the current trend to rush blindly towards social, inbound and content-based marketing, this is a good time to pause for a moment and take stock. Many so-called Internet Marketers are quick to dismiss tried and tested traditional techniques. Proceed with trepidation before subscribing to this doctrine.

Consider that your marketing should serve to solve business problems and maximise opportunities to grow your brand. Diversity across industries and companies means that these opportunities and problems will vary, requiring marketing plans to do the same depending on the business environment. One size does surely not fit all. Therefore you must approach your marketing planning with an open mind about what strategies will best meet your objectives – not a preconception that you must use one set of media or another.

Digital has provided marketers with more channels, and the growing tendency among consumers to spend time immersed in these media make them attractive – not to mention the comparatively low costs of entry. Traditional channels such as broadcast and print advertising, direct marketing and events have suffered as a result, and will have to learn to deliver more measurable results to advertisers at a lower price. But write them off at your peril. You will still struggle to get in to the nation’s front rooms quicker than on the TV, you won’t catch more people on their drive home from work any other way than by radio, and if you are not networking at your industry’s annual trade event then you won’t have as many quality leads to nurture in your snazzy new CRM hub software as your competitor.

This article reminds us that online and offline marketing are two components of the same effort. They should not operate in two separate silos but rather in harmony with each other – in an ‘integrated’ way as we used to say. If your marketing provider offers one without the other then it’s time to sound the alarm.

Many internet marketers have forgotten that the most important word in their title is the second one. A facebook enthusiast maketh not a marketer. If you are seeking specialist marketing advice then you will be well served to distinguish between the two. Internet Marketing can be extremely effective and may very well be a good fit for your business, but the chances are it will play a role in a much larger production. It is a means to an end, not an end in itself.

When Social Media Fails | Social Media Today

When Social Media Fails | Social Media Today.

This is a great post that reminds us off the difference between ‘social media child’s play’ and ‘meat and potatoes marketing’. It’s about time somebody wrote this. I just wish I’d got there first.

I’ve watched the emergence of self-professed ‘social media experts’ over recent years with more than just a pinch of cynicism. As a seasoned marketing ‘grown-up’ I have yet to be convinced that nurturing the ability to create lorry-loads of social noise is any substitute for practicing traditional marketing fundamentals.

A casual glance through my past posts will tell you I am a social media advocate to the last, but everything in it’s right place, right? Social media is important. But it is, as its name suggests, merely a newer kind of media. The fundamental principles of marketing haven’t changed as a result of it – or at least shouldn’t have. But I ask, are they now being forgotten to the detriment of brands everywhere because the hypnotic draw of digital’s knobs, dials and flashing lights is more alluring than common-sense and the realisation of profit?

I breathed an audible sigh of relief this morning when even the Chief Digital Officer of a hugely reputable agency such as Deutsche LA admitted that ‘there are no true experts in digital’.  I concur. There is no doubt that digital media are becoming a greater part of our lives. Marketers can not ignore this. But as soon as we’ve figured it out, it’s evolved or been replaced, and the debate about if and how it delivers real returns to the bottom line still rages on without any satisfactory conclusion.

To reinforce my point, I was amused and disappointed in equal measure while reading the official sales guff of a firm of self-professed internet marketing experts claiming to create ‘great’/’compelling’/’engaging’ (yawn) content for their clients to ‘drive traffic’ and ‘generate leads’, when their own content was simultaneously verbose, lacking in insight (and therefore credibility) and riddled with spelling and grammatical errors. Really?

Is the marketing industry becoming a playground for deluded software addicts that spend too much time spewing nonsense on to the web and not enough in their customer’s heads? How can you tell an ‘expert’ from an enthusiast and to what extent can the digital world really thrive separate and apart from it’s older more traditional brother?

Are you cheating your customers?

Business Marketing – The Print Blog.

Wonderfully short and to-the-point post that reminds marketers and business owners everywhere that a quality product is the best kind of marketing there is. After two decades in the business I couldn’t agree more.

These days, audiences are more sophisticated, markets more segmented and buyers more informed than ever. If marketers ever did get away with cheating their customers, they can’t now. Your customer has two things today that were in short supply not too long ago: 1) choice, and 2) a voice. Piss them off and they’ll walk, but not before telling the world and dragging your brand name through mud in a public forum.

Marketing is not about using clever slogans to sell customers short. It’s about understanding what they want and making sure they get it. Telling them your toxic junk food offering is healthy because it has zero carbs or luring them in to extortionate service provision contracts with cheap introductory packages is naff and underhand. And your customers know it. Don’t hide the additional costs. Don’t extol tenuous virtues. Get inside your customers head and figure out why they buy your product, and reinforce that value to them without being disingenuous. We all know a Big Mac is about as good for you as radioactive waste but we know at the same time that it hits a spot that baby spinach salad just can’t reach. So focus on that as your proposition…and don’t think by sponsoring the Olympics you can reposition your nasty food products with all that is good and wholesome.

Above all remember that marketing is never a worthy substitute for a quality product, which to borrow the words of Milton Hershey, is ‘the best kind of advertising.’

Why Chick-fil-A and Other Brands Aren’t Being Bullied – Businessweek

Why Chick-fil-A and Other Brands Aren’t Being Bullied – Businessweek.

Optimizing Facebook Engagement – Text, Links, Photos or Videos? | Social Media Today

Optimizing Facebook Engagement – Text, Links, Photos or Videos? | Social Media Today.

Can Introverts Get Ahead in the Workplace? | TheLadders

Can Introverts Get Ahead in the Workplace? | TheLadders.

The best kind of advertising

After two decades of marketing leading brands I believe this is probably about the best advertising advice anyone can give you. 

The best kind of advertising - give them quality

Sensible Social Media Checklist for Businesses v2.0 [Infographic] | Search Engine Journal

Sensible Social Media Checklist for Businesses v2.0 [Infographic] | Search Engine Journal.

MediaPost Publications 101 Things You Could Be Testing 07/18/2012

MediaPost Publications 101 Things You Could Be Testing 07/18/2012.