Strapline

Ideas and Words for all Business Communications

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Work and Play

Christmas has arrived and has gone for another year.

Today is Boxing Day and a day of rest and or running to and fro from one store to another in search of bargains.

So is it OK to work?

Are you working today Dad?


Well for many they have no choice. Someone has to manage and operate retail outlets etc.  but what about the many other who operate in the B2B market.

One of the many things I have observed over the past 3 years is the merging of work and play. It used to bother me. It used to bother those around me. But gradually I and those close to me have learnt to live with having to deal with the odd email in the evening, having to take the business call at odd hours, and having to work some of the time at the weekend.

And the benefits have been significant. I'm very fortunate in that I really enjoy the work I do as a writer and marketing services provider, and many of my clients have overseas interests which means different time scales and expectations. Now that I have merged work and play into a more harmonious and non ring fenced way of operating, there appears to be more time for what's important and less time fretting over what's not.

So right now I'm Blogging - later I'm doing family things. But if an important email comes that needs dealing with I will just get on with it.

Tomorrow should be a full working day - but family will be here so it won't. It's not a problem. Saturday is supposed to be the weekend, but most of the family will have gone so I will work, and everyone just gets on with getting on.

And I suspect this is the way of the working world for many. So find a way of Being that makes for balance and productivity for you and those around you, drop hangups about what's the right time and the wrong time and focus on what needs to be done.

2013 is going to be another year of change - so learn to be part of what changes around you rather than a victim.


Friday, 14 December 2012

How's your internal comms


I was recently asked to undertake a review of the effectiveness of communications within a small successful privately owned business.
The organisation has that positive energy you sense when all is going according to plan, but the enlightened owners wanted to be sure that one of the key aspects of driving a business, namely effective communications, was in place and working well.
What's the inside of your organisation look like

So here’s something you can try today if you have a business, of say up to 8 staff.
  1. Organise a 2 hour get together
  2. Put the phones on answermachine
  3. Settle everyone down in a private off site location
  4. Give everyone a large yellow post it note pad and a pen
  5. Ask these questions, and ask that the delegates write the answer on the post it notes - one question only per post it note
  6. I collect the questions as we go, makes it impossible for people to change their minds
  • What are the key objectives for this business over the next 12 months?
  • What are we selling?
  • Who are our prospective clients?
  • Why do clients use us?
  • How financially secure is the business?
You then start with the 1st question and put them on the wall, then the 2nd etc with the Directors answers at the top
This organisation was pretty good, in all cases the employees’ answers were pretty similar to the owners. I’ve facilitated many of these and those organisations that fail always have employees with no idea of what they are part of.
So how well do you think your business would do?

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The best U is You


I work with one particular client.
Great business, top of their market, always exceeding customer expectations, and a strategic plan for the future that included  well thought out vertical and horizontal integration over the next decade.
And it gets better – a set of brand values and a USP that is well understood both internally and externally.
But now it gets even better because the real “unique” was not in the service and product proposition, but in the atmosphere and culture that was coming out of the walls. Calm, professional, customer focused, team orientated and everyone being immensely proud to come to work and be part of this business – it cannot fail and will only get better and better.
How do pick the best one - why should anyone do business with you?

So how about your business, what’s really unique about you and your team, or are you once again blowing the ashes of deceit off your best set of smoke and mirrors – I know a few that are, and thankfully this protracted recession will finally finish them off for good.
Be happy if you know that every job you do offers great value and exceeds client expectations, be happy if you know that you offer a product or service that is truly excellent, and be happy because you know that even if the economy gets a little more complicated, you and your business will survive.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Go on make that call


As the grotty weather stays around for longer than usual, we all find ourselves having just a little more time on our hands as our routine changes.
Today I was contacted from someone who was working from home and had a few extra minutes and was going over his contact list.
My best indifferent look

It was great to hear his voice and recall the work that we did together many years ago. It was even better when his circumstances had changed and now his influence and experience could be very relevant to what I do now, and it was fantastic to feel that he had made time for me and hadn't forgotten me. That was the best bit.
So, call someone you haven’t called for 12 months. Do it ASAP.
I’m going to make a habit of calling past business contacts on a regular basis.
Years ago someone taught me the best way to end a relationship was through indifference, not anger but just indifference.
I’m going to make sure that calls I haven’t made are not perceived as indifference.

Monday, 10 December 2012

How to prepare for 2013


The final pieces are being put into place for a period of major change in Europe that will have a knock-on effect throughout the world.
Our politicians for the most part have more than enough personal wealth and dangerous amounts of self interest to make what they say and do on our behalf extremely counterproductive, and the so called experts and commentators have to keep a keen eye on their profiles and standing in the media and sell the news, rather than give us useful information.
In short – we are in a bit of a pickle.

Will there be a pot of gold at the end of rainbow in 2013?

So what am I doing and what do I recommend you do over the next few months?
I can provide all sorts of checklist and models to help you, I can point you in the direction of useful reference material, but what I’m  going to ask you to consider is what I’ve been working towards over the last month or so – and which has started to bear fruit.
It’s a change of mindset – I challenge you to the 20 20 20 plan.
That’s a 20% reduction in your operating costs, a 20% increase in the value you provide whether it be products or service, and a 20% increase in turnover. So I’m reducing my cost base by 20% – for me it’s cutting back on certain planned expenditure and reducing my interim dividends. I’m then giving clients more work for the same fee, and making a targeted effort to find new clients.
I will be able to check on my progress as I have a base point from which I’ve started this approach – and it really works, so far I have made 2 decisions that have reduced costs, found a new client, who was happy to pay my fee as he felt he was getting great value.
Yes I know this plan might not grow my business as fast as in the past – but business is going to be very very thin over the next 24 months, and I intend to have a proposition and solid structure that can exceed expectations.
What are you going to do?
You have to have an all embracing set of protocols from which your activity derives its focus. I ask myself does an activity I’m doing fit into the 20-20-20 plan- if it does great, if it doesn’t then I have a choice to stop and change or just carry on deluding myself

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Bare Bones Business Comms

You can get the feeling sometimes that you have to have a lot of things in place in order to operate a successful business.

Online, offline, optimised, positioned, bridged, etc etc all before you can actually start.

It's useful to consider what you are trying to do - and the bottom line is you are trying to match your products or services to the immediate or short term needs of a decision maker.

So a person has a real problem and your service or product can provide a solution with the end result is that both a happy. The person no longer has the problem and you have made a sale.

Yes you need wood for a fire - but you have to light it first. 


So as you prepare for another week of worrying about your complex marcomms objectives for the next quarter - always keep in mind the reality of what you have to do.

Just make sure that when a decision maker has a real of perceived problem you can be visible enough of have created enough awareness so that what you do can be part of the solution.

But don't be passive and wait for your SEO or SMO to bring in on.

Do something radical - contact decision makers who you know are hurting and offer them some solutions.

The next 24 months across all markets are going to be TIGHT and COMPETITIVE - so keep it simple and make sure as many people know about you and what you do.

Oh and if you're crap at what you do - stop and do something you are good at.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Who signs the cheques

Yes I know the cheque is rapidly becoming a payment method of the past, but a title "who presses the button on the BACS payment" did seem a bit daft!

This is a really simply concept and one which I hope might improve you cash flow.

I can sit here in my nice warm office and post this and that, Tweet like the best of them, add to walls, send out emails, get my SEO spot on etc etc. So what.

None of that will ever result in an order being placed or an invoice being paid - because you need a human being to place an order and then pay the bill.

When I was alive even though I loved my Dad - I couldn't sign a cheque


You have to be able to build relationships of value. You have to get out and of your sorry arse and meet with real people and gain their trust and convince them by your actions that you are not full of shit.

And no amount of social media will do that - in fact if you raise expectations and then can't deliver you will be in real trouble.

So please please remember that no twitter handle or facebook page has ever signed a cheque - OK affiliate links on your page can generate a passive income, but unless that's your core income I suggest you actually get out and meet your prospects and turn them into clients and then allow them to become your advocates.


Monday, 3 December 2012

Do you sound right?

How's your audio logo?

When you pitch up to an event or meet a prospect for the first time are you aware of how you are perceived?

It's a critical part of how others value you in the long run and early perceptions can take a long time to change. So do you have a set of language routines that you can use at a drop of hat that give people the comfort they need to open up and trust you.

I'm convinced that all this noise about social media this and social marketing that is nothing more than an extension of this process. So you have to have a set of messages that are supportive of how you actually sound when real people meet with you.

It's not easy and you have to very careful to be consistent and credible. It's certainly getting harder if you are a prize bull shitter. Prize bull shitters leave nothing behind them but a nasty smell - I know I've worked with some classic smoke and mirror merchants all of which have "moved on".

You have to be able to do what you say you can do, and then your audio logo will be supported by a great online track record based on real evidence.

So just think about how you sound - and make a few changes.

A good place to start is stop focusing on  what you do and start focusing on the impact you have on individuals and organisations.