Categories
Data Protection

Just how much information does Facebook and Google keep about us all?

Pretty scary reading….
Thread by @iamdylancurran: “Want to freak yourself out? I’m gonna show just how much of your information the likes of Facebook and Google store about you without you even realising it1. google.com/maps/timeline?… Google stores your location (if you […]”
https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/977559925680467968.html
 
March 2018

Categories
Business Growth Entrepreneur Leadership/Management Marketing Strategy Self limiting beliefs Talks Trust

Boldness in Business – Lord Karan Bilimoria, Founder and Chairman Cobra Beer

Boldness in Business  – Lord Karan Bilimoria, Founder and Chairman Cobra Beer
The first in the 2017 UWE Distinguished Address Series was from Lord Karan Bilimoria, Founder and Chairman of Cobra Beer on 25 January 2017.  The idea of Cobra beer evolved from combining the refreshment you get from lager with the smoothness of ale without leaving a bloated feeling; particularly good to accompany Indian food.  A simple big idea.  Cobra Beer now has won 88 gold medals. It is ingenious because it is less gaseous and is still a very fledgling beer of only 25 years! (Think Kronenbourg 1664!).  Not being a great lager/beer drinker myself, I tried it and I was pleasantly surprised.  Will be on the shopping list!
Lord Bilimoria’s lecture covered many aspects of being bold in business….. Here’s some of his thoughts on how to succeed.

Cobra Beer
Cobra Beer

How to succeed in business

  • You need boldness, creativity and restless innovation; boldness to adapt or die and the ability to persevere against all odds,  even when nobody thinks you stand a chance, including your own family.
  • You need vision “to aspire to and achieve against all odds with integrity”.
  • You need to Inspire people to become loyal brand champions
  • You need luck – when determination meets opportunity. Picture waves going past you – you might just catch one if you are lucky
  • Serendipity – seeing what everyone else sees but thinking what no one else has thought
  • Blue ocean thinking eg Cirque de Soleil – bringing together ancient art forms to create a new entertainment. Now a multi- million company
  • You need the guts to do something in the first place and stick with it when the going gets tough
  • Your business is not just what you do but how you do it.
  • Trust is key – Empires were built on trust
  • You need to be a great leader
  • The fear of pain is greater than the pleasure of gain
  • What do you do? play to win or play not to lose?  If you’re already at the top of your league for example, as was Alex Ferguson’s team, the biggest challenge was to get the team to play to win again
  • You need to deliver a unique and relevant consistent experience
  • You need to deliver extraordinary profits
  • Always hire for attitude rather than for skill
  • “Good judgement comes from experience ; experience comes from bad judgement”  attributed to Dr Kerr L White

To work in partnership and with others you need the same culture and the shared values of Integrity = wholeness . The former Archbishop of Canterbury,  once explained that “integrity” comes from the Latin word “integer” – the whole number,  thus “wholeness”. You cannot practise integrity unless you are whole.
Start your own foundation to give back to society.   Cobra Beer has a joint venture with Belu water where profits are donated to water aid to help transform lives through access to clean water and safe toilets in South Asia.

Categories
Advertising and Design Thank you

Thank you

Thank you
“Thank you for making a brave choice.
For choosing a path that guaranteed pain and exhaustion.   And for walking it with determination and maturity, showing us that the easy way isn’t always the best.
Thank you for the sacrifices; the 6am starts, ice baths, Christmas Day runs. All to follow your dream. A dream we came to share.
Thank you for London. For carrying a nation on your shoulders, turning pressure and expectation into strength and speed. For showing us what belief looks like.
Thank you for smiling. And for crying. For being human, albeit with superhuman abilities. For making us feel that although we didn’t know you, we did.
Thank you for the comeback. For showing us how to defy the odds and return even stronger. Oh, and raise a family at the same time.
Thank you for inspiring us to run faster, jump higher, throw further. Or to simply try harder in whatever we do. For showing us that nothing’s out of reach and that ordinary people can do extraordinary things.
Thank you for being the girl next door who took on the world. And won.
Thank you Jessica.
Here’s to the next adventure”.
Brilliant. It appeared just 5 days after Jessica Ennis-Hill announced her retirement- a full-page feature (ad?) in The Times on 18th October, from Santander.

Categories
Copywriting

The importance of the word YOU in all your copy

Great full page ad I thought in The Times this week from Ralph Lauren: a perfect example of copy being written as a conversation with the reader.   You really can image this as an intimate conversation with Ralph Lauren personally… After all, he has designed this latest collection with ‘me’ in mind…
“I am proud to share with you, for the first time ever, my new women’s collection right off the runway and into your lives.  For me, this is the ultimate expression of luxury – offering you every look, every accessory, every handmade detail immediately in my flagship stores around the world.
From the very beginning, I’ve always designed with you in mind.  You are changing the way you live and the way you want to shop, and we are changing with you and for you”.
84 words, of which 9 are you/your – 11%. 
If I’ve worked with you on writing copy for your letters or website you’ll know what’s coming next…. Pull off the key pages of your website and highlight in different colours the number of times You/your v I/me/we is used.  Think about the result.  Copy MUST be a conversation with the reader who must be able to identify immediately ‘what’s in it for me’.

Ralph Lauren letter - a conversation with the reader
Ralph Lauren letter – a conversation with the reader

Categories
Sales/Selling Trust

The good, the bad and the ugly – which is your sales process?

The good, the bad and the ugly
I thought I’d share with you our experience this last month when wanting to trade in our car …. It was fascinating!  I love being the ‘fly on the wall’ observing others’ sales processes.
Background: Toyota owners – on our 5th, not counting the one when we first married!  So loyal. Last two purchased from one of the Bristol dealers as the penultimate car had come with a very good deal.   But it is a pain to get across there for services etc. so we thought we’d investigate closer to home as well as a couple of others comparisons.

  • The good: We popped in to our more local Toyota garage on spec. Spoke to a very pleasant young man who jotted down what we were looking for and promised to email some quotes that afternoon…. I have to admit I was somewhat cynical and wasn’t going to hold my breath to await said email.  But I was wrong.   It came when promised and all queries subsequently whether on the phone or email, have been answered fully and promptly.  We were advised that as a “loyal customer” we would be entitled to a £1K discount plus a further £2K for purchases agreed by end September. Professional follow up which wasn’t in any way intrusive.
  • The bad: We then visited a different brand dealership – the person to whom we had originally spoken to was ‘off’ on the day we visited so met with the Sales Manager. Very helpful and professional and said he’d get his sales person to call to follow up.  We’re still waiting (that’s why they’re down as ‘bad’!  The spec didn’t compare as well, however.
  • The ugly: We were invited to a VIP day by our original Toyota dealer Bristol – (remember we had purchased our last two cars from them). Our appointment was confirmed by quite an aggressive sales manager who wanted to make sure we were going to turn up and advised that this was an event for buying and selling, i.e. not a “jolly”.  We should have guessed what was coming when we were sent lanyards in the post with badges saying VIP customer.  On arrival we were welcomed into something that  was just not for us –  balloons, cardboard full size cut outs of famous film stars standing strategically by certain cars, two young very attractive girls brought in to offer coffee, and directed to a table on which was a plate of sausage rolls (really, on a hot afternoon?!!!)   A young man (really young – looked 19 or so and very much not knowing what on earth he was supposed to be doing) then sat down, with the sales manager hovering, who wanted to take our personal details eg name and address. This from the garage we had previously purchased two cars from.  Not good for first impressions – how long would it have taken someone to pre-populate their form?   And my husband had spoken to the sales manager to tell him more or less what we were looking for.  We were then told the price of the car which we were interested in and when we asked what deals there were, the sales manager told us there was £3000 off the car price for that weekend only and basically could we go ahead on that basis?   “After all, negotiating is just a big game, isn’t it”? he said. Absolutely no understanding of the sales process whatever.   Oh, and no follow up here either!   WHAT a waste.

So then it won’t surprise you to learn that we went with the ‘good’.   But how does this story connect with what you do every day in your business?

  • Do you always send information to your customers and prospects by or preferably before the day you promise to do so?
  • Do you understand the sales process?
  • Do you ALWAYS follow up with prospects no matter what? If not what could you do to ensure you do.  Is it fear of the ‘no’, or is it something else?  Maybe turn it around and ask yourself what your prospect will think of you if you don’t bother to follow up?
  • If you’re putting on an event, do you ensure that it is ‘geared’ for the demographic who will be attending?
  • Do you always update your CRM with conversations with customers and prospects so that you don’t let yourself and your company down when a customer turns up for a meeting and you are ill-prepared?
  • And the biggest of all – do you understand the importance and value of TRUST. As soon as the sales manager in the ‘ugly’ scenario said that the offer was only valid for that weekend, when we knew that wasn’t the case, there is absolutely no possibility that we would have continued with a purchase there.  Nor will we go back there again.   See a blog I did before on Trust here. (in which was the wonderful mnemonic S H I T)

September 2016

Categories
Marketing Marketing Strategy

The 7Ps of a good marketing strategy

I’ve led a sheltered life and have only thought of the 7 Ps of a good marketing strategy in marketing terms:

  • Product/Service
  • Price
  • Place
  • People
  • Process
  • Physical Evidence
  • Promotion

However, I recently discovered that the Military also adopt a 7Ps:  Theirs is a little different:
“Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance”
so think how powerful your marketing strategy could be if you combined both?
I often smile wryly if I introduce myself to someone who concludes that because I am in ‘marketing’  I dabble with some  ‘advertising’!  If you take a look at the list below, you’ll see that advertising is one part of offline communications which is one of the 7 Ps of marketing.   I’ve given up trying to convert!
I’ve touched really briefly on the various elements of the marketing mix – but please do call if I can help you work through anything in particular.  This is the tiniest snapshot of the breakdown of marketing.  But it is good to sit back from your business and challenge yourself with some of these questions.
Product/Service: 

  • Is there a market for what you do? How do you know?
  • Why should people buy what you offer at all and why should they buy from you?
  • What makes you different from your competition?
  • Who is your competition – when did you last do a competitive SWOT?
  • What are the overall growth trends in your sector?
  • What is your sales pattern? What area of your sales is strongest and why and can you harness this strength elsewhere?
  • And what area is weakest? What are you doing about it?
  • How well do you treat your customers?
  • Which profitable customers can you win from whom? How?  Why? Where? When?

Price

  • Have you built value into your pricing?
  • Are you competitive?
  • Is your cost enough for you to work with profit?
  • How do you set your price?
  • Will you discount?
  • How will you avoid being always known for discounting?
  • What do your competitors do?
  • Keep It simple

 Place

  • How easy/convenient is it for your customers to buy from you?
  • Where and how are you currently selling your products and services?
  • What are the opportunities to extend these?

If you are selling a service on the web, are you supporting with testimonials and case studies?
People

  • Are your people one of your main strengths of your business?
  • Or are you the bottle neck in your company? Are you better than everyone else and does everything have to come through you first?
  • What type of leader are you?
  • What is the path for your team to voice their concerns other than coming through you?
  • Are your people your best ambassadors or are they whinging about you/the business as soon as they are out of the door?
  • Are they as well trained as they can possibly be?
  • Did you involve your team when you last undertook a company SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) –really powerful.

Process
One of the vital Ps but often overlooked and often designed for the company’s benefit rather than the customer’s.    Ask yourself:

  • Can your team deliver a consistent level of service to all customers and at all times?
  • Customer retention is critical.. how failsafe is your process to ensure you don’t lose any?
  • How effective is your sales process?
  • What processes have you in place for telephone answering/billing/communication with your clients/recommendations/operations/

Physical Evidence (Brand)
Your brand is defined as

  • Signs by which you are known and remembered
  • A bundle of explicit/implicit promises
  • A reflection of personality
  • A statement of position.

Have you thought about/discussed what does your company stand for? What’s its personality and philosophy? What’s your one key brand promise to your customers?
Your brand is so much more than your logo.  Think about a new visitor’s journey to your web site – does this reflect the look and feel of any communication they have had from you hitherto?  Will they recognise this as being part of the same business?  Have you had your website made mobile friendly?  Really important.
A few hours spent on this are far from fluffy nonsense.  See my article on local company Mulberry here
Promotion (Communication)
Just a few from the hundreds of options

  • Off line
    • Face to face
    • WOM referral
    • Networking
    • Telesales as part of a process
    • PR
    • Exhibitions and events
    • Direct marketing and sales letters with appropriate follow up driving to the web
    • Postcards
    • Events and seminars
    • Advertising but think carefully before you embark here. One off random ads are a waste of time and money! Is it the right target market?  Don’t be dazzled by offers…

 On line

    • Website and how are you pushing your web? Does your copy talk about ‘you’, ie the reader?  Are you  making regular blog posts and updates?  Have you considered more SEO eg PPC,  back links, etc
    • Online videos on YouTube – how to/ about/testimonials – so many options
    • Social media – which?
    • Facebook advertising
    • Email news and updates

So then, back to the military version:
Using your marketing knowledge to create a good strategy/plan coupled with the military 7Ps of “Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance” will surely lead to improved business performance for 2016?  But do remember that marketing is not a quick fix.  Think of it as your new exercise regime for 2016 – little and often on a regular basis.
My audit is a really good starting point – Give me a ring or email me on debbie@armstrongbeech.co.uk  if you’d like to chat over.

Categories
Sales Sales/Selling

To follow up or not, that is the question…

“Persistence is what makes the impossible possible, the possible likely and the likely definite”
is a quotation from Robert Half and which I have stuck up at eye level by my desk!
To follow up or not, that is the question – is a complex issue that challenges many business owners and there can be an extraordinary number of reasons why they shouldn’t follow up, today at least….  It’s as if a fear takes over and the business owner is rendered paralyzed… I don’t want to be annoying, or bothersome, or a nuisance or…….
And you’re right, no one does.  But, and it’s a big but, with the volume of emails in particular, as well as calls, that go around these days, it can take time to wade through all the emails and it can quite simply be that your last email got to the bottom of a very busy day’s list of emails.  You don’t know what day your prospect is having or whether it has been a day from hell.
But think how not following up on a conversation, a quotation, a meeting can reflect on you and your business.   If you are an avid networker, is there any point if you don’t follow up?  What is your process?  Do you have one?   If not, agree one with yourself and write it down and keep it somewhere you can easily refer to.
The sales process isn’t a straight line, nor is it a funnel where everything that goes in to the top comes out as an order at the bottom.   You need to understand the balance of emotion and logic and what makes up the sales process.
A survey conducted by the National Sales Executive Association reveals that only 10% of leads are being followed up more than three times, while nearly half (48%) are left languishing altogether.  The same survey shows that 10% of sales are closed on the fourth contact, while 80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact! Based on this data, how can you find excuses not to follow up?   Whilst the exact % differs slightly I’ve come across an approximation to these figures a few times.
I wonder too if it’s that business owners don’t like to consider themselves as ‘sales’ people.  After all, is this what you studied for years to become the expert?  But, no matter if you are a lawyer, accountant, web designer, video maker, manufacturer of widgets, without sales you don’t have a business so if you are the only person in your business, you are then also the sales person.
So what happens if you go to a business expo – be it a small local affair or a large event in Olympia?  What have you planned in terms of follow up?  What would be the cost to your business if you don’t?

  • If you are a larger company then most likely the sales team will leap onto the hot prospects and follow these up. Let’s say 20%.   Then what about the other 80%, what happens here?
  • Often it can be that the sales team don’t have the time or energy to weed out the % of non-qualified contacts to nurture, so they abandon them.  Or, sales blame marketing saying that the leads are not great and then marketing blames sales for being lazy.  The challenge is to keep in touch with that % of the balance, let’s say 40%, to develop the relationship.
  • And in a smaller business, then the same principles but you are arguing with yourself and blaming your other self.   Oh, I’ll do that one tomorrow, it’s not important.   Then tomorrow becomes next week/month and the chance you had of following up is out of the window as you are by now completely forgotten.

So what do you need to do/know to follow up effectively?

  • You need to know you are talking to the right person who can make the decision to purchase whatever it is you are selling;
  • You need to understand his/her buying process… Who else is involved? What information do they want/  need and supply this ideally before being asked;
  • You need to understand the sales process and the mix of emotion and logic and when and where to supply evidence of both;
  • You need to understand completely what your prospect needs in order to solve their problem/hurt and ensure you have communicated to them how you can do this
  • You need to have supported your claims with evidence – case studies and testimonials for starters. If something concrete rather than a service, then a trial of something.
  • Have you explained the benefits to the client of working with you? Have you shown your passion and commitment to your role and to your company and demonstrated at all times your professionalism?
  • You need to get a feeling of the type of personality they are so that your communications are geared to ‘how they like to be communicated with’, so for example, if an FD, then bottom line, figures, ROI and no waffle. 3 words are better than 3 paragraphs.
  • By what means does your contact like to be communicated with? Email/telephone/mobile/text?
  • If you have a good CRM system you can set up a series of relevant follow up emails and then be able to see when each one is opened if at all. But do beware of overuse of these informative but non-personal communications. I had been waiting for some information from a CRM supplier on behalf of a client and then I started getting the follow up before the information I was waiting for.   Not impressed!
  • In your process you need to establish a guide of how often you should be following up and how; typically this could be
    • Give it a week since the last conversation and then weekly to start with
    • Then default to two-weekly
    • Try different days and different times of day
    • Can you slot into something that is of interest to the buyer that you learnt at your meeting or have picked up from LinkedIn? Comment on their favourite team’s performance, favourite venue etc, great film….
  • Be direct: if you don’t get anywhere ask if you should stop following up. People respect honesty and it can have the effect to get a reaction to your email…
    • A simple “I know how busy you are and completely understand if you just haven’t had time to get back to me, but I don’t want to bombard you with emails if you’re not interested. Just let me know if you’d prefer I stop following up”
    • Here’s a fun direct one I came across… Tongue in cheek but depending on your relationship can elicit a response…
      • This one from Workbooks, a CRM system (not the one referred to above, though) where someone asked for details and the ‘system’ was trying to establish contact with no luck:

“Should I stay or should I go?”   (was the email subject header)
You recently left your details on the Workbooks CRM website and I’ve tried reaching out several times with no luck. Usually people fall into one of 4 buckets when downloading our content or registering for our webinars:

  1. Thanks for following up; however, at this point I am only educating myself on CRM systems.
  2. While I am educating myself, I am also interested in learning more about Wizard Systems and Workbooks CRM.  Please schedule me for a no-obligation 20-minute assessment.
  3. Please call me as soon as possible. I am looking to evaluate my plan and would like a custom CRM presentation of Workbooks CRM.
  4. I have terrible carpal tunnel and can’t type! Please call a doctor!

 I’m a firm believer that any of these answers could be the right answer for you at this time. Your response (1, 2, 3, or 4) will allow me to better gauge your interests without bothering you during this busy time”.
 For sure the prospect will smile and will probably take the time to respond.  Understanding the meaning and value of a ‘no’ is also important.
Following up demonstrates your determination to build a relationship with your prospect and most significant sales are the end result of a relationship. You will still find a lot of disinterested parties, but a few potential buyers will appreciate the extra effort. These can become your best customers. In the long run, sales follow-ups are more cost-effective than chasing down new customers.
And, don’t forget, if you really can’t bring yourself to pick up that phone to follow up, outsource it.   There are lots of great people out there who will do so for you.  So don’t beat yourself up and just get it done!
If you need help with your sales and/or follow up processes, please give me a call or email me on debbie@armstrongbeech.co.uk; I’d be delighted to help.  A tighter sales process can eliminate much of the follow up.
And finally….another quotation for you about persistence:
Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.
Calvin Coolidge
30th president of US (1872 – 1933)
 

Categories
Email

Email News Updates

Email News Updates being sent out just using the ‘copy’ function on your standard email.  
I was amazed to hear the news on Wednesday about the NHS London HIV clinic who had emailed 780 of its patients who had been tested positive and had disclosed all the other recipients on the email, not once, but twice when an apology for the first email was sent out pretty much straight away and again to all recipients in the cc instead of the bcc.  Ok so they have apologised for “human error”, but was it just that, I wonder?  Whilst I don’t know the facts, here’s some thoughts:

  • Did the Trust fall short in their training, and was the task given to a team member who simply didn’t know the importance of cc v bcc?  Didn’t they realise the importance of sending out newsletters and understanding data protection?
  • Why is any serious company sending out news updates to a list of 780 just using their email system?  Not professional, not sensible, and as seen, not safe;
  • When emailing this way, you cannot check as to how many people are reading the newsletter or clicking on the links.  There’s no test and measure.

The Clinic now finds itself in a serious data breach and will be subject to investigation and potential fines; not to mention the trust issue they now face with their clients who will have serious misgivings about receiving further communication from them and will want assurances that ‘this will never happen again’.
Using Mail Chimp (often free depending on circulation) or Constant Contact, or perhaps a mailing service through your CRM system, will allow you safely to send emails and to see and understand the results.
For my customers I keep the stats so we can see which emails are more popular than others, which links more popular etc. Test and measure is crucial in marketing. Not an option. 
If you need help crafting your news updates and identifying the best way to send them out, call or email me.  .  I am just updating my ‘paper’ on sending out newsletters; happy to help if I can.

Categories
Customer Trust Trust

Do your customers trust you?

Do your customers trust you?
For me, trust has always been one of the most, if not the most important factor in any relationship with clients.  Whenever undertaking any sales training and running through the most important qualities of anyone working in sales, trust invariably comes out on top.
This time the issue is about the Charity sector and a Mr Rae who forgot to tick a box when he filled out a lifestyle survey in 1994.  It seems that the company behind the survey sold his personal information to charities which then bombarded him with requests for donations and some then proceeded to pass on Mr Rae’s personal information to other charities, data brokers and companies – over 200 times in total and resulted in him being scammed as well. No-one deserves this and the Data Protection Act is very clear – the very first principle is that your data is only processed fairly and lawfully.
Again, it comes down to trust and expectation and not simply down to the fact that 20 years ago Mr Rae didn’t tick the box to say ‘don’t share my information with ‘like-minded’ companies’. An interesting discussion yesterday on R.4 commented that part of the issue was too much short term thinking and too high targets for the sales team on the phone and a lack of understanding that the charity/donor relationship is very much long term and very much dependent on trust.  It is critical for donors not to feel bad if they can’t up their giving. Every donor should be encouraged to give to their comfort level but never beyond, they should never be made to feel guilty. This is a negative emotion and not at all productive.
So this then leads into emotion v logic not being understood, and perhaps processes in the business not being as robust as they might be. Are yours sound in your business?  Are there any that could lead to customers or clients feeling that you are not being transparent and perhaps not worthy of their trust?
I love getting process right. Call me if I can help.
3rd September 2015

Categories
Start Up Start Ups - company and domain names

Choosing a company name

Choosing a company name can take a lot of “blood, sweat and tears”. I thought this article from David Caviliero, Partner at Withy King,  was an excellent reminder of the most important checks to carry out before getting too far down the road of the look/feel of the new name.    Read the article here
And another article for you written by internet marketing whiz Andy Poulton last year on choosing your web domain name.  He gives some great examples of where people seemingly have just not tried out their new chosen domain name verbally or in writing, or perhaps even both!
These two articles sit well side by side and perhaps are common sense, but sometimes we need to be reminded of common sense.  It is also a good plan to include what your company does within the name, if you can.   I could have called myself Armstrong Beech Consultants or Armstrong Beech Associates – but then no-one would know what I did…. When my business name appeared on a list of businesses, eg at a networking event or similar, no-one would be able to remember me by business name as the ‘marketing’ would be lost.  But, by using the name Armstrong Beech Marketing, you at least get an idea, I hope, of what I’m about!