Soul Trader – Putting the heart back into your business

2 October 2012

Rasheed_OgunlaruRasheed Ogunlaru, life and business coach has been a Business & IP Centre partner since our earliest days. In addition to running the Your life, your business workshop once a month in the Centre and mentoring aspiring entrepreneurs with TieUK, he singlehandedly converted me to the benefits of life coaching.

I have to admit that perhaps due to a scientific background, or perhaps just plain old cynicism, I had always been wary of life coaching. I decided the only way to address this prejudice was to attend Rasheed’s workshop five years ago. After three hours I was entirely convinced by his eminently practical approach, to putting your heart and soul into your business.
So it is great to see his practical philosophy translated from workshop to published book in the form of Soul Trader published by Kogan Page. And having read it through this week,  I would put it at the top of my list of recommended reading for everyone starting (or growing) a business. I am still a big fan of Starting Your Own Business: The Good, The Bad and The Unexpected by David Lester, but Rasheed has addressed the key issue of what you really want to get from starting a business, and to make sure you end up running it, instead of it running you and your life.

Soul_Trader_coverHis introduction sums it up nicely:

Most people do not go into business solely to make money. They want to make a living, make an impact, make a contribution, make a statement, make something of real worth and value. They want to enjoy what they do, and make themselves happy and their families secure and proud. They want to make a break from the humdrum, and express their skill and abilities. But sooner or later many business owners fall into the same old trap, lose sight of what’s important and struggle with life balance.

The book consists of eight C’s made up of seven chapters and a ‘plus’ which focusses on insights to help anticipate and embrace Change.

  1. Clarity: Know your mission, talents and values.
  2. Customers: See life through customers’ eyes to win their custom and loyalty.
  3. Courage:  Unleash your inspiration / wisdom and adopt an athlete’s attitude.
  4. Co-operation: Punch over your weight; collaborate. Use / build your network.
  5. Conversations: Learn the art to connect, converse, create and convert leads.
  6. Creativity: Know when to work, rest and be at your best, (re)gain life balance.
  7. Compassion: Connect from the heart – be transformational not transactional.

Early on Rasheed gets the you to conduct a personal SWOT analysis. Which is an excellent way of discovering what you do well, and what you need to work on or get help with.

heart_and_chairThe book is peppered with examples from his hundreds of clients over the years, and covers a problem I have encountered many times, which he calls the ‘blindness of the visionary’. People become so (understandably) obsessed by their business idea or invention, they completely forget about their customers. This leads to a very expensive and risky approach to market research, where you bring your product or service to the market and then find out if anyone will buy it. Much better to find out as you develop your idea and tailor it to what you customers say they want.

Once again Rasheed gives a practical solution to this problem by showing how to map out your customers. He also explains how to develop a set of customer ‘scenarios’, to help understand the psychology of your customers. He doesn’t shy away from the realities of doing business in the real world as a soul trader. Without sufficient income (and avoiding the number one cause of failure – cash-flow) your business will not survive. Even social enterprises have to generate enough money to pay their staff and to invest in growth if they are to succeed. These are the hard questions that so many avoid tackling in their business plans:

  1. How much money to you need to live on, and to break even in business?
  2. How much money do you seek to make this year, next year and the year after in turnover – before costs and tax – and in your personal profit after cost and tax?
  3. On average how many sales or customer does that equate to per month and year?
  4. What specific action are needed to reach those goals, and what are the challenges?
  5. What evidence, research and assumptions are those figures based on?
  6. Looking again at those figures, what are a) realistic, b) optimistic and c) pessimistic sales figures for the next 12 months, and what would they mean to you and your business?
  7. What are your main products and services? How are they priced? What are all the costs involved? Which are the most lucrative? Which incur the most costs? Which involve the most hard work? Which are most dear to your heart and to your customers?

I have been talking to lots of makers recently such as jewellers, and many haven’t properly come to terms with the issue of wanting to make everything by hand themselves, but also selling enough items to make a living.

Rachel_ElnaughCourage is term one doesn’t  come across often in business books, but Rasheed rightly recognises that this is an essential ingredient in business, and gives practical tips on how you can develop it. I am constantly in awe of the people I meet who are at the beginning of a journey that would terrify me. The book contains an example from ex-Dragon and Business & IP Centre supporter Rachel Elnaugh. Rasheed asked one simple question during an advice session, and at a stroke gave her an insight which revolutionised her life. “I can honestly say that session with Rasheed was like walking through a doorway that has led me into a completely new and completely fulfilling life where success, money and love are all now flowering.”

Cooperation is an undervalued aspect of business, with many people I meet worrying about their competition before they have even started trading. The book talks about the importance of developing business partnerships through cooperation. And again Rasheed gives practical advice on how to grow and then utilize your support networks.

Conversations, which convert contacts into customers replace the ‘hard sell’ for soul traders. After all, no-one wants to be sold to, but everyone wants their opinion to be listened to. This chapter also includes how conversations work via social media channels and what precautions you need to take them online. There a lots of practical examples here, including how to deal with complaints by using, Acknowledge – Reflect back – Say what you can do.

Towards the end of the book Rasheed introduces his two-page business plan. As he says, ‘Business plans are written for two purposes and for two audiences: 1) for you to identify who and where you are, where you’re going and how you’ll get there; and 2) for investors or funders for the same purpose. If you’re seeking funding from others then you’ll need a longer, more detailed business plan…”

To sum up, I found Soul Trader to be clear and simple, friendly and supportive, passionate and soulful – just like Rasheed himself.


Guy Kawasaki ‘Enchants’ SLA Chicago 2012 conference

9 August 2012

Guy_KawasakiGuy Kawasaki was the keynote speaker at the recent SLA annual conference in Chicago, and here are my notes from his talk.

Kawasaki started by talking about his time at the Macintosh division of Apple Inc. He described them as the largest collection of egomaniacs ever assembled in the US, until the creation of the Facebook development team.

In hindsight he realised that enchantment was a key part of his life, dating back to his first job in the jewellery trade.

His two recommended essential reads are:
How to win friends and influence people, published in 1931 by Dale Carneigie, and Influence – The Psychology of Persuasions by Robert B Cialdini.

Kawasaki has observed many hi-tech speakers over the years, and with the exception of Steve Jobs, they all ‘suck and go long’.

He always uses the 10 point model for presenting. So he told us if he ‘sucks’ today we will be able to tell.

1.    Achieve Likeability
–    Have a great smile – not just using the jaw, but also the eyes. So crow’s feet are good. Needs to be a Duchene smile
–    Accept others for what they are
–    Default to ‘yes’ – How can I help the person I just met

2.    Achieve Trustworthiness
–    Trust others first
o    Amazon – have a policy of returning an ebook in 7 days if you don’t like it
o    Zappos – buy the shoes online, if you don’t like them we will pay the return postage
o    Nordstrom – you can return anything to them at any time
–    Become a baker not an eater – a producer not a consumer
–    Find something to agree on with customers – it doesn’t have to be a big thing
o    Example of a dislike of Opera

3.    Perfect what you do
–    Do something DICEE
o    Deep
o    Intelligent – they understand my pain / my problem
o    Complete – the totality of the service you offer
o    Empowering – they make you more creative and productive
o    Elegant – someone has thought about the user interface

4.    Launch
–    Tell a story – a personal one, not a marketing one
–    ‘My girlfriend wanted to sell Pez dispensers online’ – the story behind eBay
–    Plant many seeds
–    The key to bottom up marketing – make them available to everyone
–    Use salient points when you talk about your services
o    Calories vs Miles to burn them off
o    Dollars vs Months of food for a family in Eithiopia
o    Gigabytes vs X thousands of songs on portable player

5.    Overcome resistance
–    Provide social proof of success – the white ear-buds that came with iPods were a visual indicator in the streets
–    Use a dataset to change a mindset
o    Gapminder.org – review of number of children and longer lives across the world
–    Enchant all of the influencers in the family not just the ones with the money, e.g. children.

6.    Make your enchantment endure
–    The Grateful Dead provide a space for people to tape their concerts for free
–    Build an ecosystem of the totality of your service
–    Invoke reciprocation
o    Don’t say ‘you are welcome’ say ‘I know you would do the same for me’
o    Enable people to pay you back in their own way
–    Don’t rely on money (e.g. price offers) – it is not the core of enchantment

7.    Great enchanters are great presenters, so:
–    Customize your introduction
–    Sell your dream
o    iPhone = $188 of parts manufactured in a factory in China, but is more than the sum of its parts
–    10 is the optimum number of slides
–    Delivered in 20 minutes at most
–    A 30 point font size is optimal – so you don’t read your text out to your audience

8.    Use technology
–    Social media is free and ubiquitous so use it
–    Remove the speed bumps for your customers
–    Capta reduces the number of customers
–    Sungevity.com – Uses your home address to mock up installation using satellite imagery
–    Provide added value
o    Information
o    Insights
o    Assistance
–    Example of Alltop.com website – aggregates information by topics
–    ‘Eat like a bird, poop like an elephant’. i.e. take little – give a lot
–    Use a lot of sources and spread the information.

9.    Enchant Up
–    When your boss or partner asks you to do something – drop everything else and do it.
–    Prototype fast
–    Deliver bad news early

10.    Enchant Down
–    Book by Daliel H Pink – Drive
–    Provide a MAP
o    Mastery – if you come and work for me …
o    Autonomy – if you come and work for me …
o    Purpose – if you come and work for me …
–    Empower action
–    ‘Suck it up’ – be a boss who is willing to do the ‘dirty job’

Kawasaki summed up Enchantment as having;
The Quality of Apple – the trustworthiness of Zappos – and the likeability of Richard Branson.

Enchantment-Cover


Another great Inspiring Entrepreneurs with Mothers of Invention

19 March 2012

Another fantastic event this evening with a range of inspiring women entrepreneurs and their stories.

Jones_EmmaThe event was chaired with great warmth, energy and humour by Emma Jones  who launched her first business at age 27, and successfully sold it two years later. In 2006 she launched Enterprise Nation as a website to help anyone start and grow a business from home. The company has since expanded to offer online services, publications, events and finance to small businesses across the UK. Emma is also co-founder of StartUp Britain, and currently acting as the campaign’s chief executive.

Sophie_CornishAs co-founder of shopping website notonthehighstreet.com, Sophie Cornish has won many prestigious awards including the ECMOD Direct Commerce Award for the last three consecutive years and the Online Retail Award Prix D’or 2010. They now host over 2,500 businesses on notonthehighstreet selling 40,000 different products.

They came to the British Library Business & IP Centre early on to look at trends in Internet retailing. And worked hard on their business plan to the extent that they new their numbers inside out. Sohpie emphasised that creating a brand is the key challenge for any business.

Her tips were:

  • Own your mistakes
  • There is no silver bullet
  • Hard work is your unique selling point
  • Cash is king

Kamal_BasranFrom helping her parents prepare samosas for the English pub they ran, to setting up her own food business The Authentic Food Company in 1985, Kamal Basran indulged her passion for cooking authentic Indian food and opened a small business supplying local catering establishments with hand-made samosas and other Indian snack food.

Today, the company has over 240 employees and has a turnover of over £31 million. The company are supplying many of the UK’s top hotels, pub chains, restaurants and retail outlets with the range of quality international cuisine.

When Kamal started out in business, she was a full-time teacher, settled in a comfortable lifestyle, married with two children. While out shopping she saw some ready made samosas, but once home discovered they tasted horrible and threw them into the dustbin. This was the trigger for starting her own business. She had no idea how to start, but wonders in retrospect if this is perhaps the best way.

She began making 600 samosas a week, and grew the business to over a million meals a week.

Her tips were:

Number one priority was to organise her children.
Then, learn how to do everything yourself (nothing is too menial).
Finally, don’t listen to other people (especially your parents!)

Her reasons for success were:

  1. Target your market
  2. Grow gradually
  3. People – 25 nationalities
  4. Products – are the best quality
  5. Customers – we love our customers

Rosie_WolfendenRosie Wolfenden and Harriet Vine are the founders of Tatty Devine whose distinctive fashion designs have made them brand leaders. In 2011 they had a boom year, with a £1 million turnover and kick started 2012 with opening a Selfridges pop up shop which launched their new silver label. The two London Tatty Devine boutiques are located in Brick Lane and Covent Garden.

Harriet_VineThey are independently run and design every piece, 99% of the jewellery is made by hand in their workshops (based in London and Kent). Their custom-made jewellery has been worn by everyone from Claudia Schiffer to Jessie J.

They are very proud of producing their own book on How to Make Jewellery.

In the last two years they have started letting others in to their business, such as developing a new website, to enable them to concentrate on the jewellery.

Christina_RichardsonChristina Richardson is founder of The Nurture Network the UK’s first on-demand marketing department for start-ups and entrepreneurial growth businesses. Christina has spent much of her career managing and growing FMCG brands worth in excess of £100 million.

Now she and her blue-chip trained team, work flexibly across multiple businesses – being their marketing expertise, part time or for specific projects – calling in creative specialists from their network as and when they are needed.

Her tips for new businesses:

  1. You need to give yourself the strongest foundations you can. Be distinctly different by playing a different game.
  2. Define your brand by being clear on your ‘onlyness’. Think about who your brand would be if it were a person.
  3. Test your brand out with real people.
  4. Have a vision, but with numbers. Know the future you want to create.

And for existing businesses:

  1. Marketing is everything that touches your consumer.
  2. Always think consumer first. Choose which group will be your most valuable customers. This will inform your marketing chooses.
  3. Plan with the end in mind and be objectives driven.
  4. Use everything you can do to spread your brand
  5. Bootstrap and collaborate

The evening closed with a lively question and answer session followed by some serious networking until closing time.


A refreshing cup of coffee half-way down the piste

22 February 2012
I’m off to the Alps in a few weeks time for a bit of ‘piste-bashing’, so this story caught my attention.
Starbucks have opened the world’s first ski-in ski-out coffee shop on the side of a mountain.

Today 10 February 2012, Squaw Valley is officially opening the world’s first ski-in/ski-out Starbucks location.

On the mountain at elevation 8,000 feet, Squaw Valley’s new mountaintop Starbucks boasts spectacular mountain views and the unique ability for guests to keep their skis or board on while they order their Starbucks® beverage of choice.

“We worked closely with the design team at Starbucks to create a one-of-a-kind experience that we know our guests will truly enjoy,” said Andy Wirth, Squaw Valley’s president and CEO. “Nowhere else in the world can skiers and riders enjoy a delicious Starbucks coffee without missing a beat on the slopes.”

Now, you can can me an old stick in the mud, but I think the idea of whizzing down the mountain with a cup of steaming Java in my hand is taking the idea of ‘coffee on the go’ a little bit too far.


The Key Trends for 2012 from Cate Trotter – Insider Trends

25 January 2012

logo_insider_trendsI have been covering sessions from  founder and Head of Trends at Insider Trends Cate Trotter for a while now: Insider Trends – The Future of Online Marketing, The growing grey market in the UK and How to become a cutting-edge retailer.

As previously, Cate showed an impressive grasp of the trends that new and existing businesses need to know about, to keep ahead of the competitive curve.

Tonight’s topic proved even more popular than before, requiring a move to a larger room, and an overflow event last-night.

Here are my notes from the event:

Cate started the evening by identifying three headline trends for 2012 of Doom and Gloom, Ubiquitous Digital and Humanness.

Doom and Gloom (aka – the economic recession is killing business opportunities – or is it?)

  • If you only read the papers or watched TV you would think the end is nigh.
  • Unemployment is at a 17 year high in the UK, with over 1 million young people out of work.
  • The UK economy is predicted to grow by 0.2% in 2012 (i.e. no growth to speak of).
  • But…
  • Interest in entrepreneurship is at an all-time high, and barriers to entry are at an all-time low, thanks to technology and the internet, with the likes of Facebook, PayPal and on-demand printing.
  • Slowly we are shifting to become a nation of entrepreneurs.
  • There are plenty of opportunities for person-to-person (P2P) businesses thanks to the likes of Kickstarter and SellAnApp. Or how about MinuteBox which allows you sell your expertise by the minute.
  • Opportunities also exist in the off-line world too, such as ‘cheap and cheerful’ offices for start-ups like The Ugli Campus, or how about opening the first cafe for entrepreneurs.
  • Too many business websites use ‘me too’ branding with stock photography and unclear messages – Cate gave the example of BubbleWebs  as one that ‘shows what it does on the tin’.

BubbleWebs_home_page

Ubiquitous digital (it really is everywhere now)

  • 65% of adult internet users now use a social networking site of some kind.
  • By the summer of 2012 over 50% of Brits will be using a smartphone.
  • So:
  • Cate’s tip no.1 – Mark your location on Google Places to boost traffic to your website.
  • Cate’s tip no.2 – Make sure you website is mobile friendly using 11 Excellent Solutions for Making Your Website Mobile Friendly.
  • Need to think beyond using social media just for marketing and PR – add customer support roles (e.g. Hippo Munchies in India using twitter prompts from customers to re-fill their vending machines).
  • Companies will develop intelligent and selective strategies for social media channels. No more scatter-gun approach to digital marketing.
  • Digital data will give commercial insights. E.g Klout score to measure your online influence.
  • A/B test your website your website using Optimizely to maximise visitors.

Humanness (the importance of trust in a digital commercial world)

  • Ask yourself how is your digital strategy enhancing the lives of your customers?
  • More targeted communications and email lists – less scatter-gun.
  • Google is starting to highlight more human related content, so you need to have people talking about your business in social media.
  • Which means you have to do stuff that people think is worth talking about.
  • Results in a move away from novelty campaigns to real customer value. E.g. Zappos.com have a 24 hour staffed phone line, and up to a year to return products.

Zappos_logo

  • Inspirational brands talk about why they do what they do, not what they do, or how they do it – read Start with why by Simon Sinek or watch him speak at TED.
  • The need to stay human, once you grow beyond a single person business, think of your brand as a personality or celebrity.

2012 is all about being connected – individuals, networks and businesses
Use customer value to cut through the ubiquitous social media noise. Connections through honest communication is key.

Cate ended her talk by encouraging us to go away and start experimenting with some of the ideas covered. We now had 11 months lead on our competitors.

She really wants to hear from us how we a get on, so please get in touch with her at cate@insider-trends.com


Customised Design event at the British Library

13 December 2011

Many thanks to my colleague Fran Taylor for this story:

On 7 December we ran an event in partnership with the University of Hertfordshire on customised design, and how designers can create unique, tailored goods for their customers – either at the luxury or mass-produce ends of the market.

It’s a challenging area for businesses. On the one hand it is a way of finding your USP (unique selling point) and potentially being able to charge more for your products. On the other hand it also makes the manufacturing and ordering process much more complicated.

The first speaker was Shaun Borstrock, who has worked with Asprey, Thomas Pink, and the British Luxury Council and he spoke about the luxury end of customisation. He talked about how the luxury market is forecast to grow by 57% over the next five years to £9.4bn. He talked about how a lot of companies often create the impression of offering customised products, but in reality just offer small changes e.g. by adding initials to a designer hand-bag or offering different colour options. He also gave the example of the Prada Lace-up project.

In contrast, Sarah Maynard from SML offers an extremely high end, bespoke service in the luxury transportation market. She has a team of craftsmen who can provide anything from working with a team of chemists to choose a specific colour pigment to a gold-plated gear stick. For her business, customisation is achieved through one-to-one relationships with clients over a longer period of time. Customisation is her USP and her customers are willing to pay a lot of money for the craftsmanship involved.

Our last speaker was jewellery designer Mark Bloomfield from Electrobloom. He is a huge fan of 3D printing and explained how it opens up opportunities for customised design, low-cost manufacturing and experimentation.  Through 3D printing you can produce prototypes quickly and the creative process can be very iterative.  It also reduces the cost and energy required for shipping and manufacturing abroad.

He produces beautiful flower-inspired designs in around 20 different colour and shape combinations. They are made out of nylon (which incidentally is also dishwasher proof).

Electrobloom flower


90 Tiny Tips to Build Your Personal Brand

12 December 2011

In the past, Rasheed Ogunlaru (who presents our monthly Your Life, Your Business workshop), has talked about the importance of building your personal brand.

So this list of tips from Alissa Alvarez at Online MBA is welcome.

90 Tiny Tips to Build Your Personal Brand

Personal branding isn’t something you can just sit down and work on for a day and then forget about. Rather, personal branding is built in small pieces, as your day-to-day actions all add up to the brand that is you. That’s exactly why we’ve found so many small tips that can help you build your personal brand, taking things one tiny step at a time. Read on, and we’ll share 90 tips that can help you slowly but steadily build your personal brand.

Finding Your Niche

Personal branding is all about figuring out who you are and how you want to project your image. Use these tips to help identify what you’re really all about.

Consider what makes you different

1.    When determining your niche, you should think about what makes you different from other brands out there.

2.    Identify your primary product

3.    Think about what you have to offer others, whether it’s a service, resource, or special ability.

4.    Find out what your talents are

5.    Consider what your talents are, what you’ve been recognized for and what you’re better at than most people.

6.    Think about how others identify you

7.    Take a look at your brand attributes and confirm that your brand matches what others would say about you.

8.    Do something remarkable

9.    Instead of playing it self and sticking to what you know, do something that’s worthy of taking notice.

10.    Identify your core values

11.    Share what really matters to you in order to identify what your core values are.

12.    Be unique

13.    Don’t feel like you need to copy another person’s brand. Be unique and stand out.

14.    Think about your passions

15.    Identify the things and ideas that you love, and identify your passions.

16.    Ask colleagues and friends to sum up your professional image

17.    Get a true reflection of what you’re all about by asking others to define you.

Creating A Message

Follow these tips to find out how you can share the personal branding message you have created.

1.    Physically make a message

2.    Write a paragraph and tag line that tells your story and emphasizes your specialty and talents.

3.    Share your message

4.    Once you have your message, be sure to actually share it with someone.

5.    Be authentic

6.    Don’t create a message that’s about someone else: be true to yourself.

7.    Control your message

8.    Don’t be too many different things to too many people. Stick to your primary message and focus on that.

9.    Find your target audience

10.    Consider who you really want to be talking to, and use your target audience to define what kind of presence you want to create for your brand.

11.    Know your audience

12.    Think about to whom you’re directing your personal brand, and communicate your messages appropriately.

13.    Be yourself

14.    Let your personality shine through and show the real authentic “you.”

15.    Use the right vocabulary

16.    Communicate with your audience using the right words from the industry so you can show your understanding of what’s going on.

Credibility

1.    Use personal branding to establish yourself as a trusted professional in your industry with the help of these tips.

2.    Be useful

3.    In everything you do, take a moment to consider how you are being useful to others.
4.    Live what you say

5.    Have a trustworthy, transparent, and educated voice to build your credibility.

6.    Be trustworthy

7.    Be careful not to offer anything you can’t provide, and deliver on what you’ve promised.

8.    Believe in your brand

9.    Commit to and invest in the ideas that support your brand.

10.    Create a portfolio of successes

11.    Showcase your past work, get testimonials, and do whatever you can do show off how great you are.

12.    Find and share great content

13.    Create a buzz around your own personal brand by finding great content and sharing them with others.

14.    Create a visual hook

15.    Find a memorable visual hook that people will enjoy and remember you by.

16.    Find out what other leaders are doing right

17.    Find the experts and leaders in your profession, and see what they are doing to promote their brands.

18.    Cultivate a personal style

19.    Select clothing that represents you and makes you stand out from the crowd in an attractive way.

20.    Be a leader

21.    Lead by helping people, and use leadership to grow your influence.

22.    Get featured in the media

23.    Find opportunities to be featured in the media, possibly creating even more opportunities for exposure and credibility.

24.    Show your confidence

25.    Don’t be arrogant, but be sure to project confidence so that others will be comfortable with you.

26.    Contribute to Q&A sections

27.    LinkedIn, eHow, About.com, and lots of forums offer opportunities for sharing your expertise.

28.    Be a speaker

29.    Much more effective than just attending, speaking at events shares the opportunity for showcasing your expertise.

30.    Be consistent

31.    Make sure your resume, LinkedIn, and Facebook are all saying the same thing.

32.    Win awards

33.    First, do work that’s worthy of awards, and be sure to apply for awards in your field. This can bring lots of recognition and credibility to your personal brand.

34.    Take a writing class

35.    The way you write has a major impact on how you are perceived, so take a writing class to make sure you’re getting it right.

36.    Stay on top of trends

37.    Educate yourself and stay on top of newly emerging trends in your industry.

38.    Back everything up with proof

39.    Share objective proof to back up broad statements, using numbers, dates, statistics, and more.

40.    Toot your own horn

41.    Publicize awards, achievements, and anything else that’s remarkable so that people actually know about it.

Efficiency

1.    Keep personal branding from taking over your life with these tips that will help you streamline your efforts.

2.    Interact effectively

3.    Give yourself a time window for interaction so that you don’t spend all day networking and using social media.

4.    Determine where to invest your energy

5.    Building a brand is a major undertaking, and there’s only so much you can do in a day. Think about where you really want to invest your energy in brand building.

6.    Be brief

7.    State your value quickly and in bite sized chunks, or you run the risk of droning on and becoming forgettable.

Online Presence

1.    Maintain an online presence that reflects who you are with the help of these tips.

2.    Own your domain

3.    Register your name or unique URL to project a more professional image.

4.    Have a great website

5.    Your website is still like a virtual lobby, offering a jumping off point for your entire online presence.

6.    Learn about SEO

7.    Search engine optimization might sound a little scary and daunting, but in reality, it’s actually quite easy, as long as you’re creating quality content. Taking the time to do SEO right can make all the difference when making your brand stand out.

8.    Keep your personal and company brand separate

9.    Establish yourself as a person, rather than a company, so that you don’t limit the power of your personal brand. This is especially helpful if you may not be with the company forever.

10.    Be a polite emailer

11.    Check your grammar, etiquette, and writing skills so that you’re communicating like a professional.

12.    Pay attention to your email address

13.    Your email address offers a significant opportunity for building your brand, especially if you use your real name.

14.    Do your best to lock down your name online

15.    Whether you have a common name or an unusual one, put out as much quality content as you can, with your name one it, so that you can better control your online presence.

16.    Find out where you are online

17.    Do a Google search to check in on your online presence to see you you’re doing and if you need to make any changes.

18.    Monitor your online brand

19.    Carefully keep an eye on what is being said about you online, and make corrections as needed.

Networking

1.    Get connected and establish your brand with others by following these tips.

2.    Find relevant people

3.    Seek out the recommendations of colleagues, check out Twitter, and more to find relevant people that you should be connecting with.

4.    Join industry associations

5.    Meet up with people who can help you build your brand and career by joining industry associations.

6.    Be generous with your time

7.    Take time to do charitable work and go beyond the call of duty.

8.    Say yes more often

9.    Accept more invitations and go to more events, finding opportunities and taking advantage of ways to explore and experience.

10.    Have business cards

11.    Even if you don’t have a job, create business cards with your contact information to share with others who want to contact and remember you.

12.    Do your research

13.    Before any networking event, be sure to know who is going and what will be discussed so that you’re well prepared.

14.    Be accessible

15.    Let people know you’re out there, and that they can reach you on a regular basis.

16.    Don’t miss out on events

17.    Attend conferences, seminars, and other events to get out there and shake hands and meet other relevant people.

18.    Ask for testimonials

19.    Ask other people to recommend you for your expertise, and then be sure to publish what they’ve said about you.

20.    Be an active alumni

21.    Make the most of where you went to school by joining the alumni association and taking advantage of networking events.

22.    Show support for others

23.    Be passionate about helping other people when they need it.

24.    Learn how to introduce yourself

25.    Be ready to communicate who you are with others, concisely sharing the answer to “Tell me about yourself.”

26.    Get connected with passionate people

27.    Find other people who live passionately, and get together with them regularly for inspiration.

28.    Take guest blogging opportunities

29.    Extend your reach beyond your immediate network by taking opportunities to guest blog and share your expertise.

30.    Promote others rather than yourself

31.    Instead of spending all your time promoting yourself, take the time to point out what others are doing really well.

Job Hunting

1.    These personal branding tips are especially relevant for job hunters.

2.    Work for free

3.    Your experience is worth its weight in gold, so when it comes to getting a job, any past experience can really pay off, even work you’ve done for free.

4.    Create a value statement

5.    Highlight your values and strengths to get the attention of a hiring manager.

6.    Put your resume online

7.    Add social features, photos, and more to your photo by putting it online.

8.    Quantify your results

9.    Prove your value by showing quantified outcomes.

Social Media

1.    Follow these tips for great ideas in building your personal brand through social media.

2.    Carefully consider which tools you want to use

3.    If you can’t effectively use a social media tool, there’s little point to having it at all. A poorly managed social media presence can be worse than not having one in the first place.

4.    Listen up and stay in the loop

5.    Don’t be one sided: be sure to listen and respond to what others are saying.

6.    Fill out your profile completely

7.    Fill out all of the information fields to promote everything important about yourself.

8.    Go out and find new followers

9.    New followers will find you, but you can build your presence much faster by seeking them out yourself.

10.    Listen first

11.    See what others are saying on social networks, and even set up Google Alerts to listen in on how social networks are working before you get started with them.

12.    Engage and interact

13.    Participate in the back and forth of social media, engaging with others and interacting with content.

14.    Create multiple streams

15.    Be ubiquitous, creating an online presence on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and more, as many as you can reasonably maintain on a regular basis.

16.    Be adaptable

17.    Social media is constantly changing, so always be ready to adapt to new developments with a consistent approach.

18.    Don’t forget videos

19.    Video projects can pay off in a big way and offer a great way to really showcase your brand.

20.    Manage and optimize your social media systems

21.    When creating your social media accounts, set them up so that they can be automatically updated, pushing to your blog, home page, and more.

22.    Stay interesting

23.    Don’t just set up social media and walk away: keep things interesting by writing, sharing videos, photos, and more.

24.    Curate content like it’s fine art

25.    Think carefully about how you share links, news, and resources, curating your content like a museum director might select works for an exhibit.

26.    Use the same profile photo

27.    Make your online presence easily recognizable by using the same profile photo everywhere.

28.    Use a consistent name, too

29.    Build recognition by using the same name in everything you do online, preferably one that is close to your actual name or profession.

30.    Schedule regular posts

31.    Stay on top of your online presence with scheduled tweets and blog posts, so you always have something new to share.

32.    Think before you Tweet

33.    Be careful not to write anything that’s embarrassing or offensive, or anything you wouldn’t get away with in any other professional setting.

34.    Keep everything PG

35.    Be careful not to post anything you wouldn’t want your grandma (or potential employers) to see.

36.    Point to your social media presence elsewhere

37.    Promote your social media presence everywhere, on your website, blog, and even email.

38.    Bring offline relationships online

39.    Ask your “real life” friends if they are on Twitter or Facebook.

40.    Blog your voice on the web

41.    Blogging is a great way to find natural traffic without too much marketing effort.

42.    Don’t give away too much personal information

43.    Be careful not to over-share information or be inflammatory when building your brand.

44.    Make some accounts private

45.    If you feel the need to share things online that aren’t professionally appropriate, be sure to make those accounts private.

 


Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Question Time for Entrepreneurs 2011

14 November 2011

GEW_logoTonight as night as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week we held another great Inspiring Entrepreneurs. This time the topic was Question Time for Entrepreneurs, and was a chance to grill our assembled panel of experts.

Emma Bridgewater, Chairman and Founder of Emma Bridgewater Ltd, Vernon W. Hill II, Co-founder and Vice Chairman of Metro Bank, Lara Morgan, Founder of Pacific Direct Group Ltd and Company Shortcuts Ltd and Tim Campbell, Founder of the Bright Ideas Trust.

Jonathan Moules, enterprise correspondent at The Financial Times, was in charge of moderating the team.

Emma BridgewaterEmma Bridgewater admitted her business was more home counties than ‘wild west’.

You will have to go through tough times. So even if you don’t feel strong enough, when it is your company, you feel differently about it.

You will surprised how creative you can be in business when you first start out and have no money.

Having to think about accounts was something unpleasant, but necessary.

Her value add, was to make modern dishwater friendly pottery.

‘We have spent ‘shed loads’ of money trying to protect our designs. I don’t think it is possible to protect them.’ The next new design is the key to success. And your brand.

Vernon W Hill IIVernon W. Hill II managed to extend his five minute introduction into an impassioned 15 minute talk about the amazing success of his banking ventures.

Be aware of the brand hierarchy: Basic brands,
Emotional Brands and Legendary Brands. When you reach the top stage you have fans not customers.

You need a clear business model that differentiates you from the competition. The culture of your company must be unique but matched to your business model. Your business execution must be fanatatical

In the US they gave away 28 million pens, and they were trying to get the number up. They let dogs in on the theory that if you love my dog, you must love me.

Metro Bank have 90 percent customer satisfaction rate, Barlcays has minus 35 percent.

Emotional brands create massive value. Look at the example of Apple who grew from a five percent market share less than 10 years ago.

Are you really emotionally and equipped to go down the entrepreneurial road? Ask yourselves does your product or service add value? What is different about you? Successful entrepreneurs start with the end result, not the process of getting there. In the UK we concentrate too much on the technicalities.

He went through 15 years of the press saying ‘this won’t work’, so having a thick skin is essential.

Ninety percent of people they see looking for investment don’t have a business plan, they just have hope. Not good enough! If you don’t have convincing numbers to raise money you will fail.

‘My problem is dealing with the government every day!’

In the US they were recruiting 6,000 jobs a year, most came from existing staff contacts. If they didn’t smile in the first interview then they were out.

Lara MorganLara Morgan.

The ability to just keep going is vitally important. Jack of all trades and a master of one, where you recruit others to fill in the other roles required.

She worked on her own for two years, morning, noon and night. Her first recruit was a ‘gobby’ hocky player who had the ability, and could be taught the skill required.

Be aware that you can recruit people if you are creative as employers, find out what will lure someone in other than money.

You can actually learn lots of good stuff from books. This is a solution Lara has applied on many occasions.

Understanding finance was a painful part of becoming a successful business. You don’t need to to do the numbers, you do need to understand them.

Finding the right staff, means being utterly rigorous in you recruitment process. Make sure you test skills, because there is a lot of flannel from candidates. Check with your receptionist for their behaviour. Maths, English and culture tests are key. Invest time in this and you will be rewarded.

It took several years to work out what our USP was. It became representing the best products to the best hotels. A key to this was understanding the market place and the competition better than anyone else.

There are very few new ideas, so you just need be aware of how you are different and better.

Tim CampbellTim Campbell

There is a huge value in mentors and advisors. Having a wise head behind you will help solve some of your issues. Having a loyal team with you on your journey will be a key to your success.

Entrepreneurs need to learn to rely on others to deliver the expertise required for the business.

You may need to extend your sales technique to family and friends in order to raise capital for your business. However, business angels are sitting there waiting to find ideas to invest in. There needs to be a better way to bring these two together.

You can’t expect people to invest in your idea if you aren’t prepared to stand by the loan, or put in your own money.

Employing people who don’t have the same passion as you do, is the biggest problem. Managing them out is incredibly difficult. You need to be incredibly clear about what you want from your recruits.

Don’t compete on price, there will always be someone cheaper.

Intellectual protection can be a very costly route to protect something that may not be unique enough. Speed to market is your best protection.

You can learn from other first mover’s mistakes.

The time to pull the plug on his business, was when he realised he could not get the 2,000 outlets needed to reach the minimum size. There is an inner voice you can hear when you go to sleep at night. Listen to it, and to advisers you trust.

There is nothing wrong with a lifestyle business (small scale).

 

Video now live here, Question Time for Entrepreneurs 2011 by BIPCTV’s channel

Question Time for Entrepreneurs 2011

by BIPCTV’s channe


How to revive a brand

5 September 2011

On the way home from a recent road trip to Scotland, I made a ‘pit-stop’ at a McDonalds restaurant near Birmingham.

I’m not a regular customer at the ‘golden arches’, so was very surprised to discover a waterless urinal
with a sticker on it saying it saved 100,000 litres of water a year.

urinal

Copyright Sorven Media ltd

This is all part of McDonalds’ efforts to combat the negative press that has built up over the years. In particular the reaction to ‘McLibel’ case and reaction to the 1994 documentary film Super Size Me by Morgan Spurlock.

McDonalds have created a website to allow you to Make up your own mind, which currently contains 24,000 questions and answers:

Your Questions
A dedicated Make Up Your Own Mind team from across McDonald’s is working hard to answer your questions. You can ask whatever you want, and we aim to answer even the toughest question within two weeks in an honest and straight-talking fashion. The ‘Questions & Answers’ can be searched either by keyword or by sub-sections – this should help you find the information you’re looking for.

The website also includes reports from their Quality Scouts.

What is a Quality Scout?
Quality Scouts are members of the general public from around the UK who are curious about McDonald’s business. They are not paid, and have no ties to the company. All they do is take an honest, behind the scenes look at McDonald’s and report back. And they’ll tell you exactly what they hear and see.

I have to say I am impressed by their efforts, but wonder what it will take to change public opinion.

Two examples spring to mind:

Fiat cars of the 1970’s, which became notorious for their rust problems.

In response they built the Tipo in the 1980’s (a car I owned), and gave it a fully galvanised body, giving it better rust protection than almost any other car on the market. However, it took many years for their ‘rust bucket’ reputation to disappear.

A more recent (if fictitious) example is from The Archers radio show where an outbreak of E. coli,  has resulted in regular customers deserting Ambridge Organics, despite having been given the all clear several weeks ago.


Linking Marketing and Sales with Kimberly Davis

13 June 2011

Kimberly_DavisHaving previously covered social media (The Marketing Master Class – Social Media for Business), Kimberly Davis kindly invited me along to the third in her Marketing Masters Series. And this time the topic was Linking Marketing and Sales.

Kimberly started with a very simple definition; Marketing is anything that represents your company.

Marketing vs Sales
–    example of a football team – team is the marketing effort – the striker is the sales
–    Better if different people due to different goals
o    Marketing – long term – brand building – consistency – impersonal
o    Sales – short term – translates interest into a sale – personal (one to one)

Fear of sales
–    If your product is good, you are doing them a favour by telling them about it.
–    It’s is just a conversation – not a sales pitch
–    People buy from people they know, like and trust

Company name
–    You should be able to say what you do in two words
–    Forget witty tag lines that say nothing
–    Example – Campbell’s condensed soup – Sasparilla marketing detoxification

Target market
–    Forget your gut instinct – you can’t sell to everybody
–    Who is your ideal customer?
–    Create a profile for them – age, race, interests, position, salary etc

Selling the right thing
–    What is going to make you the most ROI (return on investment)?
–    Are you selling the right thing to the right people?

Identifying need
–    Where does it hurt for your customers?
–    Solve a problem
–    People buy what they want, not what they need.

Focus on the benefits
–    What are your benefits?
–    What problem can you solve?
–    How can you make their life easier?

Unique Selling Point
–    What are you USP’s?
–    Be ‘the only …’
–    Focus – If you try to be everything to everyone, you will be nothing to no one

The Elevator Pitch
–    It is the most important thing in your marketing strategy.
–    You have twenty seconds to make an impact.
–    Can you clearly articulate what you do in that time?
–    People will decide whether to file or forget you based on this.
–    No more that two short sentences long.
o    Who, what, why when and how?

Communication
–    Find the right words to use
–    Keep it simple
–    Focus on fears and needs
–    Read it out and hear how it sounds
–    Test it on lots of people and get feedback
–    Ask them to say it back to you to see what they remember

Kimberly’s elevator pitch for Sarsaparilla:
50% of marketing is wasted. Sarsaparilla is a marketing consulting and training agency that specialises in marketing purification – the process of detoxing your marketing, protecting you from The Flash, Fluff and Fakers, and helping you make more money with less.

Sales across the Marketing Umbrella

Branding
–    How you create trust with your customers
–    You brand must be protected at all costs
–    Make sure everyone sticks to the same elevator pitch
–    Gives a consistent experience
–    Under promise and over deliver
–    Forget Richard Branson as a role model – He has more failed than successful business

Business cards
–    Don’t use cheap or free cards – it shows
–    Make sure you have a proper email address (not @yahoo.com) – makes you look established
–    Write down where you met on the back of cards you recieve
–    Keep your card’s content simple
–    What impression does your card make?

Literature
–    Brochures flyers are a waste of time in Kimberly’s opinion
–    Instead just give people your card

Social Media
–    Most people look to social media for information – not to be sold to
–    20% of all tweets are about business
–    LinkedIn search engine optimisation
–    Free download – 10 Ways to Use Social Media for Business – http://www.sarsaparillamarketing.com

Merchandise
–    You do not need stress balls or pens – not a good use of money according to Kimberly

Eshots, flyers, emails etc
–    Don’t always take, learn to give
–    It’s about building a relationship
–    Don’t SPAM people
–    Add Value – keep it short and simple, and interesting
–    MailChimp gives you up to 2,500 emails for free –

Website
–    Data capture – emails and phone numbers should be visible
–    Download offers in exchange for contact details
–    Don’t over use stock photography – professional personal are better – see where images are being used on tineye.com.
–    Videos – a brilliant way of experiencing your product or service – much less expensive than in the past
–    SEO – don’t pay for rankings – don’t use Flash only sites
–    Linking with other websites moves you up the Google rankings
–    50% will only look at your first page – so make sure it contains your elevator pitch

Testimonials
–    Get others to sing your praises
–    Find out why people don’t buy from you – then work out what would overcome that resistance
–    Keep them short – headlines are best
–    White papers and case studies for more in depth
–    Consider selective use of videos

Advertising
–    Generally not a good investment
–    Need to have a call to action – give people an incentive to buy or contact
–    Promo code to enable tracking
–    Coupons

PR
–    Getting other people to say it for you

Networking
–    Time to use your elevator speech
–    How to get in out of a conversation – ‘I don’t want to keep you from networking with other people here’… Don’t be too obvious
–    Business Cards
–    Carry a nice pen – cheap pen = cheap company
–    Think beyond the person in front of you – they may know someone relevant
–    Ask for what you want – they may be able to help
–    Pay if forward
–    5 minutes per person

Ways to measure your return on marketing investment
–    Take an inventory
o    List of clients and what they buy from you
o    Review you client profile
    How many
    Average spend
    Repeat clients?
    Their profile – hobbies, interests etc
    When they buy
    Why they buy
    Survey with SurveyMonkey
o    Do your market research – not with family and friends
o    Gives you a starting point for measurement

Creating a process (funnel?)
–    Your customers journey to your product
–    How do you get them to say ‘yes’

Positioning
–    Don’t be sucked into discount advertising that is not targeted at your customers

Permission Marketing
–    People don’t want to be marketed to
–    Much more open if you get them to come to you
–    Generate interest
–    Example of Sun and Wind in competition too get a man to take his coat off. Persuasion more effective than force.

Incentivise your customers
–    Free downloads
–    Upgrades
–    Gifts

Data capture
–    Building your database
–    Landing page
–    Collecting business class
–    What are you doing with the list?
–    Grow list organically

Generating new leads
–    Tradeshows, events, contests, social media
–    Buying databases is not straightforward

Ask why people aren’t buying
–    Overcoming obstacles
–    Ask why they won’t buy
–    An opportunity to show you can overcome these

Cost of customer acquisition
–    Calculate – x calls, x leads, x meetings, = x sales
–    Let other formats do the work for you – advertising, website, social media

Retention / Customer service
–    Don’t forget about your existing clients
–    Increasing sales through your current clients
–    Repeat business
–    Get current  customers to increase quantity, frequency and price

Multiple revenue streams
–    Don’t have all your eggs in one basket
–    Make money in your sleep

Reminders
–    Surveys, announcements, newsletters, special access
–    90 days or less
–    Remember to give as well as take

Experiential marketing
–    Sampling your goods and services increases your sales success

Pricing
–    Don’t fall into the trap of lowering your price in a recession
–    Clear pricing structure and clarity
–    Group into easy to understand sections
–    Be transparent
–    People don’t buy based on price
–    Don’t cheapen yourself with sales
–    When it doubt, put prices up

Referral and Affiliate plans

Stop selling and allow people to buy from you

Find a mentor
–    30 thousand businesses will fail this year because of lack of knowledge or experience

A Hobby or a Business?
– Plan and then take action

 

Kimberly’s keynote speaker for the final slot of the day was Sharon Wright, who’s claim to fame is delivering the best pitch in the history of Dragons Den.

–    Took one day off in the first year of developing the idea.
–    Single parent entrepreneur
–    ‘Think big and you will be big’
–    Decided to start with the biggest BT
o    2 hours of negativity
o    6 Sigma proof required
o    Would be virtually impossible
o    Had never been done before
o    One positive – the product had legs

–    First paying customer was with Cromwell tools – told them BT was a buy (a bit cheeky)
–    From creation to market within 6 months
–    Strong self belief is 1st important ingredient for business success
–    Aim was to be the best presenter on Dragons Den – achieved this goal
–    Preparation (2nd key ingredient for business success)
–    Practiced her three minute pitch 100 times a day for three weeks
–    Read all of the Dragon’s books to help choose which partner to go with
–    After the show was aired Sharon received 7,000 emails
–    Was now working 22 hours a day, seven days a week.
–    Loneliness of starting a business (3rd key ingredient)
–    As time went on her self belief began to drop
–    Met Tony Larkin at the British Inventors show who offered to invest in her
–    Sharon has now sold her Magnamole to an American company keeping a 10% holding.

–    The most important lesson learnt was to trust her instincts, and get a business mentor. You are often too emotionally close to your business to make objective business decisions.

–    Story reminds me of one of my earliest blog posts on Dragons Den
Dragon’s Con.

Sharon’s book ‘Mother of Invention – How I won Dragons Den, Lost my mind, Nearly lost my business and ended up reinventing myself’, tells of her personal struggle as a single mother, inventor and entrepreneur.
It has been reviewed on my colleague Steve Van Dulken’s Patent Search Blog.


Our Marketing Masterclass with Alasdair Inglis of Grow

9 June 2011

grow_header1A couple of weeks ago I attended this excellent workshop from Alasdair Inglis of Grow, the small business marketing experts.

I liked the fact that Alasdair started the half day session by saying that his aim was for everyone attending to leave with a minimum of five concrete things they will do for their business.

I was also impressed by the way he refuses to use PowerPoint. Instead he handed out detailed notes and had lots of photos on screen to illustrate his points.

Alasdair started by briefly covering the standard elements of a small business sales and marketing strategy:
– What are you selling
– What is your USP (unique selling proposition)
– Competitor analysis
– Who are your customers
– Lead generation – which methods are appropriate

He quickly launched into the marketing ideas and concepts we needed to understand to give us a competitive edge.

The first of these was understanding the power of customer testimonials:
–    These can be the most valuable form of marketing in the long run, especially if you manage to get an influential customer to sing your praises.
–    Work out what questions you need to ask to generate testimonials
–    Make sure they include some measure of the benefit of your product or service.

Then we looked at the power of case studies and success stories
–    These are more in depth than testimonials and can include video.
–    They should include the problem – what we did – the positive result
–    When making video testimonials make sure you concentrate on the sound quality over the visuals. It is worth investing in a directional microphone.
–    We have used our Success Stories on our YouTube channel to generate 200,000 views.

The power of having a customer database
–    For long term success you should have a database with all your customers details and purchases in one place. This could be as simple as an excel spreadsheet or a full CRM (customer relationship management) systems such as SalesForce.
–    The best way to think about what to keep, is what would someone need to know to keep your business going if you were away from the office.

Know your competitors – ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer’.
–    Take advantage of your competitors hard work to develop their products or services and their understanding of the customers they market to.
–    Sign up to your competitors email lists using your personal email address. Gives you insight into their marketing strategy.
–    Look at their websites and Facebook pages.
–    Use seospyglass.com to check out where your competitors are promoting themselves on the web.

Know your target market
–    Get to know your ideal customer – where do they live, shop, eat?
–    This will impact your choice of marketing strategy.

Understand the marketing funnel
–    Don’t try and get a sale straight away, build up to the sale.
–    You need to have a really good opening offer that hooks people in so you get them into your funnel.
–    Three examples
o    Free download – build up price as the customer goes deeper into the funnel.
o    First contact is a cold lead – move them from warm to hot to customer to raving fan
o    Initial enquiry from customer – build information until they become a customer.

Have an irresistible offer
–    What irresistible offer does your business have, so that people who first come into contact with your product or service make contact with you or buy from you?
–    Examples would include: first session free, money back guarantee, discount for first order, vouchers.

Understand the importance of having a clear call to action
–    Give people a compelling reason to get in contact.
–    E.G. On your website
o    Call you
o    Ask questions
o    Email you
o    Buy from you
o    Join your email list
o    Request information

Focus on benefits rather than features
– Look at all your marketing materials and re-word them.

Understand what problems do you solve for your customers.
–    What factors might make their business fail.
–    What market are they will be operating in – Information about their competitors and customers.

Be aware of approximately how much do you earn from each customer during their lifetime?
–    This will have a big impact on how you price and market your services.

‘If you sow seeds all year round, you get vegetables all year round.
–    Make sure you have a variety of customers, like a garden with a mixture of plants
–    This can help when a recession hits, or you lose one set of customers.
–    Examples:
o    Customer who buy or work with you once
o    Ad hoc customers
o    Regular repeat customers
o    Make sure you have a lead generation system in place that gives you a steady stream of leads.

Be aware of the importance of Search Engine Optimisation, especially on Google.
–    Google has revolutionised marketing, triggering a move from masculine to feminine.
–    Masculine – going out searching for customers using adverts, yellow pages and telemarketing
–    Feminine – waiting to found, by being attractive to your customers, let them come to you.

Alasdair covered quite a bit more during a very full half day, so I recommend you book yourself on and find out more.

One of the additional benefits of these workshops is meeting aspiring entrepreneurs, and it was here that I got talking to Bertie Stephens about Flubit. I’ve joined the fun Flubitron club


Service without a smile scores 2 stars

5 April 2011
Seven Sisters - South Downs Way - Photo by Denise Infield

Seven Sisters - South Downs Way - Photo by Denise Infield

Having just returned from four days tramping along the South Downs Way along the Sussex coast, I am pleased to report that I managed to avoid thinking about work for almost the entire time.

However, two very different experiences as a customer reminded me of the importance of this aspect of business.

During our two days in the White Hart Hotel, one of the smarter hotels in Lewes, we only managed to get one smile and genuine interest of expression in us as customers.

This was in stark contrast to the The Star Alfriston, where every member of staff (even the room cleaner) was welcoming and friendly, and appeared to be genuinely concerned that our stay was a pleasant one.

So, even though the Star charged less for their rooms, our experience was at least twice as pleasurable. And of course, I will be happy to recommend this establishment to friends and family, whereas I will be suggesting they find an alternative place to stay in Lewes.

Having recently discovered Trip Advisor, I thought I would have quick look to see how the hotels ranked. The Star in Alfriston scored 4.5 stars out of five, on 56 reviews, while the White Hart scored 2 stars, on 101 reviews.

To quote Stan Lee, Nuff Said!


How elevated is your pitch?

31 January 2011

Kimberly_DavisDuring the Apprentice Kim and her Marketing Masters Series, one of the things that stood out from an excellent day was the importance of an effective elevator pitch. The ability to summarize your business in 15 seconds is not easy, so important.

This is something I have mentioned several times before, including How good is your Escalator Pitch?

Kim asked the audience for examples of their elevator pitches, and although some were ok, they all paled into insignificance compared to her own pitch for her business Sarsaparilla Ltd. I didn’t manage to catch it word for word, but it went something like this;

Hello my name is is Kimberly Davis and I am the founder of Sarsaparilla a marketing consulting and training agency which can detox your marketing by protecting companies from Flash, Fluff, and Fakers. It specialises in helping you increase profits, maximise return on investment, and measure results.

It’s close to perfect, as it is concise, clear, explains the benefits, and leaves you wanting to know more.

Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of trying to explain everything they do, but then leave the potential customer to work out how they would benefit from the product or service.

Fortunately there are plenty of sources on the web to help write your own perfect pitch.

5-rules-for-writing-an-exceptional-elevator-pitch from the Small Fuel Marketing blog.

1. Explain your business in two lines
You have only a moment to explain what you do, but it can be hard to pare down an explanation to the details. Try starting with only a minimal explanation of just two lines. Focus on writing down what is unique about your business. You don’t need a perfectly formatted document; this draft is to get you to eliminate unnecessary words.

While you should mention what you do, how your business helps is actually more important than your particular methods. A professional speaker, for instance, wouldn’t just say that he gets up on a stage and talks. Instead, his pitch might include an explanation of the fact that he motivates employees to focus on quality — or whatever his speaking is supposed to achieve.

2. Add some excitement
If you aren’t excited about what you do, there’s no reason anyone else should get excited either. There was some sort of passion that lead you to get involved with your business; let it show through. In some cases, your reasons may be your elevator pitch.

Do you see a particular need for your services? Focus on that need, and a passionate pitch might just write itself. Results are another easy way to get excited about your business. Think about the numbers you celebrate — the milestones for your business.

3. Test your pitch
Find a few people that will listen to your pitch and give you feedback. Ask them what terms they didn’t recognize, where it was boring and where it was exciting.

Your listeners’ questions about your pitch are especially important. You don’t necessarily want to answer every question about your business in your pitch — getting prospective customers to ask a few questions is a great way to hook them — but if a test subject has no idea what you do after listening to your pitch, it’s back to the drawing board. It may take a couple of tries to come up with a pitch if your business isn’t particularly common.

4. Adapt to the situation
You don’t give your elevator pitch in a vacuum. It’s always part of a conversation. Your conversational partner probably has some specific needs that your company can help with — and he or she may have already described them as part of the conversation.

If you’ve already heard those specific needs, respond to them. Tell your listener exactly what you can do to help him; being specific is what can take an elevator pitch from the “I’ll be in touch” level to the “I’m calling you first when I get back to the office” level.

5. Be open to change
I actually learned this trick during a high school science fair: I was giving a pitch about my project to a judge and he asked a couple of questions that seemed pretty important. I started incorporating his questions, along with the answers, in my pitch. I’m pretty sure that it was that small change to my pitch that landed me a prize.

Your elevator pitch is not carved in stone. If you come across a better explanation of what you do, you ought to include it in your pitch. It’s even worthwhile to test out multiple versions of your elevator pitch and make changes based on the result. And if your business changes, it’s important to make sure that your elevator pitch reflects those changes.

15 Second Pitch uses a simple wizard to help you generate your 300 word pitch. It also has access to 14,000 sample pitches, so you can learn from others like this;
My name is Corey Lennox and I am a musician specializing in writing mindblowing songs. I write rock music to crystallize some of life’s most amazing moments and experiences. I’m a Berklee College of Music graduate who puts emotion first in his music. Check out what I’ve been creating- all my music is available for free. If you like what you hear, I encourage you to join my mailing list, or even just say hello!

 

 


The growing grey market in the UK

26 January 2011
Retired man on bench

Photo Walter Groesel - Stock.XCHNG

Last night I attended a packed Insider Trends’ talk at the Business & IP Centre. Last time the topic was How to become a cutting-edge retailer, but this time Cate Trotter the founder and Head of Trends was talking about the rise and neglecting of the over 50’s market.

As a newly minted 50+ myself (well last September anyway), I was doubly interested in what Kate had to say, and was pleasantly surprised to hear that by 2020 the over 50’s will form the majority of Britain’s population. So that makes me part of the only growth market in the UK.

Once again Kate provided an excellent talk, and left the audience pumped full of relevant statistics and marketing angles.

Here are my notes from the evening:

Untapped markets: The grey pound – Monday 24 January

Profile Marketing Opportunities

–    The population in the UK is getting older, already more +60s than -16s
–    People are living longer
–    Family sizes are shrinking
–    Number of 90 year olds expected to double in 25 years
–    78% of income retained post retirement, but loss in commuting and mortgage costs increase available money
–    +65’s spending £100 billion a year Recession
–    Older customers are better prepared for economic decline than younger
–    Many are working part-time to bring in an income Segmentation
–    Important part of understanding your customers
–    Need to add more age categories. 50-65 and 65+ are not enough
–    Need to be aware of not pigeon-hole by age – much more diverse than the younger categories, due to widely varying life experiences

–    So use lifestyle segmentation instead

  • Live Wires – active and working, many interests, technology aware, spend on holidays
  • Happy and fulfilled – active, but more traditional, financially well off, lots of holidays, spend on quality traditional brands
  • Super troopers – often have lost a spouse, don’t like advertising and new technology
  • Living day to day – spends rather than saves, more interested in material wealth than time, tend to choose premium brands
  • Unfulfilled dreamers – hard working, dreams of un-achieved ambitions,
  • Rat race junkies – could retire, but not yet, into technology, more than one marriage

–    Need to be aware of sets of baby-boomers coming through

  • Flower-children are now approaching their mid 60s
  • So interested in green such as Prius cars and green funerals
  • Believe that old age starts at 72, not 65
  • More old travellers going further afield and more adventurous
  • The SKIers – Spending Kids Inheritance

Adapting your business
–    Attitudes, physical (eyesight) and cognitive (memory) impairments
–    Over 50’s buy 80% of top of the range cars (BBC news report)
–    But many have enough mainstream products (washing machine, microwave, TV). However, they might upgrade at point of retirement with help of lump sum
–    From products to services – or service related products (e.g. sport) less equipment for the home
–    Travel

  • Generally continues until late 70’s and early 80’s
  • GrandTravellers – grandparents and their grandchildren on holiday together – something relatively new and growing
  • Travel gripes – single supplements, insurance costs, active sports insurance

–    Clothes

  • Comfortable and cool clothes lacking in the market place
  • A younger style, but to fit an older shape
  • Children’s toys and clothes as presents

–    The Home

  • Home improvement rather than new products
  • B&Q
  • Employing independent traders + reputable traders marketed towards an older customer
  • Ergonomic tools (SandBug from B&Q)
  • Packaging older people can open – %80 are not – Primelife President
  • Smaller packs and designs – one person teapots (Debenhams small wok a bestseller)

–    Home health care

  • Philips Defibrillator – talks you through
  • Retrofit-friendly homes you can grow old in – e.g. doors wide enough for a wheelchair, room for safety handles – Joseph Rowntree Foundation – http://www.lifetimehomes.co.uk

–    Fitness

  • Pensioners are fastest growing group of gym members
  • Scope for specialist centres
  • Zumba – very popular with older dancers

Design

–    Product and service design, also websites and fixtures and fittings
–    A lack of interest in older consumers from mainstream companies
–    Specialist

  • Simplicity computers – replaces Microsoft Windows with 6 buttons – option to pay by cheque in the post
  • Tesco online shopping has an access setting
  • Photostroller – purpose built controller to access Flickr content
  • PostEgram – a Facebook app for printing out content
  • Presto – an Internet printer with a remote control system for the sender – customer doesn’t need a computer
  • Kaiser’s in Austria – e.g. easy to reach stock, reduced glare lighting, slip-proof flooring, pleasant places to sit, reading glasses to borrow, all employers over 50 – sales 50% above forecast
  • Odeon Senior Screen – with different snacks – coffee and cake instead of fiz and popcorn
  • Danger of alienating older customers who still feel young – if they can reject it, they often do – don’t want to be associated with ‘that group of people’ – they expect products and service to cost more

–    Inclusive

  • Kindle – allows you change size of text and have text to speech
  • Nintedo Wii is becoming more popular in care homes – active game playing
  • ClearRX by Target in the US – simplifies medication for entire families
  • Ferrari Enzo – with wider doors and lower floor o    Harley-Davidson – trikes for the older market – still cool design
  • Mobilistrictor – a suit to age the wearer by 40 years – useful to test our store design etc
    – used by Ford when developing the Focus – e.g. boot has no lip, dash doesn’t reflect light – became Ford’s best selling car
    – used by Derby City General Hospital building design
    – General Motors used older engineers – key card and push button start
mobilistrictor_Richard_Hammond

Richard Hammond trying out the Mobilistrictor

  • Legibility of writing
    – Larger fonts
    – Bolder colours
    – Clearer typfaces eg Tireseais typeface
    – Use of icons and symbols
  • Interface design – e.g. Apple iPhone and iPad, Facebook (103 year old woman who uses an iPad to interact)
    – Additional advantage of extended appeal to disabled, parents of young children, those heavily laden – e.g. small trolley in supermarket
    – Involve audience in your designs

Marketing

–    Only 1 in 5 sticks to brands they now – happy to try new products and service, but as late adopters
–    Only 1 in 3 own a mobile phone
–    Less influenced by mass media as advertising does not reflect their interests, have become cynical, but not being wired, are more open to national and local marketing
–    More time to shop around – and more time to think if they really need it, so more critical, and more time to write reviews. Can become experts in new products
–    More time to tell their friends about products and services – word of mouth becomes even more important
–    Need to use younger (not too young) faces in images – or take out faces – e.g iPad just shows hands, so appeals to all ages
–    Retail and experiential – e.g. Harley Davidson stores – older are less likely to buy online
–    Only 1 in 4 over 65’s have used the internet, but this is growing very fast
–    Over 50’s represent 25% of online population, but those that are spend longer online
–    Silversurfersday – increase confidence
–    Raceonline2012 led by Martha Lane Fox from LastMinute.com – can buy a £99 computer, with a cheap wireless dongle from 3
–    Better designed websites – e.g. Jitterbug from Samsung aimed at older customers, who can call to order as well as online
–    Email marketing more effective with older customers – e.g. eldergym newsletter
–    Free magazines – e.g. Staysure magazine for the over 50’s – based on airline magazine model
–    Segmented approaches – e.g. Ninento DS using Girls Aloud and Julie Walters in different ads for the same product
–    Car adverts tailored to age group. E.g. the young are interested in loans, the older are not
–    Appealing to the adult child
–    Look for older people in marketing agencies, if you can find them.
–    Be aware of emotional issues associated to buying older products such as walking sticks or elasticized trousers

Conclusion
–    They represent the only growing market in the UK
–    They have time and money to spend
–    There is currently very little competition
–    Be aware that they are difficult to profile – very varied with more variety in the future

Approach requires
–    empathy
–    must not be patronising


A member-owned supermarket on my doorstep

31 December 2010

Although I had noticed a new supermarket in Lamb’s Conduit Street passing by on My first ride on a ‘Boris Bike’. I hadn’t realised it was a revolutionary, shopper owned and supported cooperative until I saw it featured in my Springwise newsletter.

Though the first food co-op opened in the UK back in 1844, according to Google, such cooperatives have not been a familiar sight in Europe in recent years, despite a certain popularity in the United States. Until now, that is. In fact, with the recent launch of the People’s Supermarket, Londoners recently gained a new place to find affordable food.

Only members can shop at the People’s Supermarket, but they all get a 10 percent discount on prices as well as a say in how the store is run. In exchange, members pay an annual membership fee of GBP 25, and they also pledge to volunteer four hours of their time per month working as store staff. Because the supermarket’s workforce is nearly all volunteers, staff costs are kept low this way — an advantage that can be passed on in lower prices. Any profits that are earned, meanwhile, get put back into the store to bring down prices even further.

Food co-ops are not uncommon in the US, but it’s interesting to see their reemergence in the UK following a bout of unusually tough times. Could this be the beginning of a widespread comeback…?
http://www.springwise.com

The People’s Supermarket –  Identity Designed is a showcase and forum for those involved in the design of brand identities.

Time Out says:
We’ve followed the slow and steady success of The People’s Supermarket, a carrot-packed co-operative outlet in Bloomsbury. Fighting off Tesco for a site in one of London’s most independently spirited neighbourhoods, The People’s Supermarket is a project close to the heart of celeb chef Arthur Potts-Dawson and ex-Marks & Spencer executive Kate Wickes-Bull.

The duo have rallied the local community into buying into the scheme – literally. Although anyone can shop at the store, full membership (which scores you a 10 per cent discount and a say in how the shop is run) will cost you £25 and four hours per month working in the store. What you get is fresh, locally sourced (when possible) supermarket fare, dirt cheap and airfreight free; new jobs for locals; and all profits going back into the business. For its founders, this is the beginning of a retail revolution – but for us, it’s a genuine alternative to the major supermarkets aggressively taking over our streets.

Though the first food co-op opened in the UK back in 1844, according to Google, such cooperatives have not been a familiar sight in Europe in recent years, despite a certain popularity in the United States. Until now, that is. In fact, with the recent launch of the People’s Supermarket, Londoners recently gained a new place to find affordable food. 

Only members can shop at the People’s Supermarket, but they all get a 10 percent discount on prices as well as a say in how the store is run. In exchange, members pay an annual membership fee of GBP 25, and they also pledge to volunteer four hours of their time per month working as store staff. Because the supermarket’s workforce is nearly all volunteers, staff costs are kept low this way — an advantage that can be passed on in lower prices. Any profits that are earned, meanwhile, get put back into the store to bring down prices even further.

Food co-ops are not uncommon in the US, but it’s interesting to see their reemergence in the UK following a bout of unusually tough times. Could this be the beginning of a widespread comeback…? (Related: Sustainable urban campground to be crowd-funded & managed — Crowdfunded breweries.)

Website: http://www.thepeoplessupermarket.org
Contact: info@thepeoplessupermarket.org


Less shopping choice for the New Year

29 December 2010

Thanks to SpringWise, here is the perfect answer for those of you who aren’t quite sick of shopping just yet. I have to admit I am enjoying the temporary calm between Christmas shopping and the New Year sales.

The product comparison sites such as Reevoo offer millions of reviews on thousands of products, but this is often overwhelming if you just want to know what the best product is in a particular price bracket.

Just buy this one sidesteps this information overload by taking the cumulative ratings of reviews, to offer a single recommendation for each product category.

Nine categories are featured, including laptops, TVs, toasters and vacuum cleaners, with multiple price points available for each. The site simply offers an image of the best rated product alongside a brief list of features and the best price available — with a link to buy. If they want more information, customers can click through to Reevoo at any point to see the full range of products and reviews.


Smarta’s – Five top tips on selling online at Christmas

13 December 2010

Once again Smarta have their finger on the pulse of enterprise with their Five top tips on selling online at Christmas.

Having purchased the majority of my presents online this year for the first time, I tend to agree that this mode of shopping is becoming key to business.

 

Online shoppers in the UK are expected to spend £162bn per year on internet purchases by the end of 2020. This burgeoning market is one that small businesses should not ignore. Thomas Vollrath, CEO of 123reg, has these top tips for online businesses looking to boost their internet sales over Christmas.

With the festive season fast approaching, setting up an online shop now can enable a business to take advantage of the 85% of UK consumers planning to spend money online this Christmas.

While many people shop online today, customers still have concerns about being caught out by fake websites and counterfeit goods. This concern is heightened even further at Christmas as people make larger, multiple purchases.

Therefore, a business must plan carefully to allay customers’ concerns by providing an online shop that embodies security, trust, reliability and good service: values that are central to online shoppers. A businesses online reputation is just as important as a real world one; a lack of the values above can result in a lost sale or leave a bad impression of a business’ brand.

The reverse is true, and businesses that that provide reliable, secure sites can expect to gain trust and long-term loyalty from festive shoppers. Because of this, its essential businesses that are thinking of setting up an online shop are aware of the these handy tips to make the most out of the Christmas season.

Here are some top tips when selling online at Christmas:

1. Businesses selling online need to build trust with users by displaying contact numbers throughout their site. This shows there is somebody to talk to should a customer encounter a problem. Businesses can expect to receive more enquiries during the festive season, so they must be aptly prepared to deal with this. It’s also important to encourage feedback, as this makes customers feel valued and can add to a business’ services.

2. Festive shoppers are likely to make larger multiple purchases, so need to be reassured that confidential information given online is safe. This can be done by displaying security accreditation, such as an SSL certificate which verifies that the site is legitimate and hosted on a secure server. Businesses should also offer money-back guarantees if possible, and terms and conditions should be written in plain English and be visible on the site.

3. Christmas purchases are often done with someone else in mind, so the buyer may be somewhat unsure of the product they are ordering. Because of this, businesses must be really transparent when it comes to their goods, with photos of the products being sold included, alongside detailed descriptions and clear pricing.

4. Customers are more likely to buy from a site if they can relate to the person behind the webpage, and this is even more so during the festive season when shoppers must make choices between a number of etailers. Adding pictures, videos and a blog to a website will give customers an insight into a business and help to build rapport, which can turn into custom.

5. With so many online retailers selling similar wares, be sure to research your competition. It’s as easy as running a simple Google search. This will help you to set your price points and compete on extras such as postage and speed of despatch. But don’t make the mistake of undercutting your rivals too much. While you might generate more sales, the reduced margins could hit your business later.

With people already beginning their Christmas shopping, now is the ideal time for a business to be pro-active and get online.

Businesses which remember the best practice tips above could find that an online shop adds to their business by extending their ability to achieve awareness, lasting customer loyalty and increased sales, during the festive season and beyond.


Every (snow) cloud has a silver lining

2 December 2010

As usual SMARTA have their finger on the pulse and have published an article on How to deal with snow as a small business.

As for me, I have been trapped in my rural idyll of Balcombe for two days now, as there are literally no trains running up to London (Passengers spend night on abandoned train).

However, one beneficiary has been our village shop, which has had its busiest two days in recent history, as those villagers who are not fortunate enough to own a four-wheel drive vehicle are unable to do their supermarket shopping.

Every time I go up to the shop, there is a queue of customers waiting to be served. But I am wondering if the beneficial impact of the snow will end once it disappears (no sign of that at present), or if residents will have re-discovered a valuable local service for future use.


Dealing with the Customer from Hell

17 November 2010

Although surrounded by 15 million books here at the British Library, and unlike WoodsieGirl, I don’t get nearly as much time to read as I would like.

However, in the last few weeks I have managed to get through several, thanks to my epically slow train journey, and my speed reading training from Alex Garcez the The Speed Reading Coach.

As part of my aim to constantly strive for better customer service within the Business & IP Centre, I bought a copy of Dealing with the Customer from Hell – A Survival Guide, by Shaun Belding.

It is a great book because he recognises that in most cases customers from hell did not start the day in that mode (or mood), but circumstances have lead to the behaviour we are seeing as service providers. He reminds us that we have all probably been, or come close to acting as customers from hell, when things have gone particularly badly for us. Once we start to see them in that light we can begin to move towards resolving their problem.

Shaun also points out that we are not taught at school, or in most workplaces, to cope with bad behaviour. So when we are confronted with it, we go into shock and react, rather than calmly respond appropriately and with humour.

We also can be badly emotionally scarred (and scared) by these experiences, which can negatively influence our behaviour in future customer interactions.

One of the most important messages, is that you can’t win against customers from hell, but in most cases you can win with them, and so resolve the situation to everyone’s satisfaction.

Shaun introduces the LESTER acronym for the six steps to take to resolve customer problems:

  • Listening to your customer
  • Echoing the issue
  • Sympathizing with your customer’s emotional state
  • Thanking your customer for his or her input
  • Evaluating your options
  • Responding with a win-win solution.

 


What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis

17 November 2010

Perhaps I spent too many years working in the City of London working for unappreciative customers, so I am frequently surprised by how grateful many of our customers are for the help we give them in starting up their business. However, when I heard that Pervin Shaikh wanted to express her appreciation by giving us a copy of What Would Google Do, I was amazed.

Pervin explained that she thought the book would be helpful to aspiring (and existing) entrepreneurs.

Having speed read it this morning, before sending it off to be added to our collection, I agree with her.

The author Jeff Jarvis writes the new media column for the Guardian newspaper, as well as founder of Buzzmachine.com, one of the web’s most popular and respected blogs about the internet and media.

He starts the book by listing some of the new rules that Google used – to become successful, in what he calls the upside-down, inside-out, counter-intuitive and confusing world of the internet age:

1.    Customers are now in charge. They can be heard around the globe and have an impact on huge institutions in an instant.
2.    People can find each other anywhere and coalesce around you-or against you.
3.    The mass market is dead, replaced by the mass of niches.
4.    ‘Markets are conversations,” decreed The Cluetrain Manifesto, the seminal work of the internet age, in 2000. That means the key skill in any organization today is no longer marketing but conversing.
5.    We have shifted from an economy based on scarcity to one based on abundance. The control of products or distribution will no longer guarantee a premium and a profit.
6.    Enabling customers to collaborate with you-in creating, distributing, marketing, and supporting products-is what creates a premium in today’s market.
7.    The most successful enterprises today are networks-which extract as little value as possible so they can grow as big as possible-and the platforms on which those networks are built.
8.    Owning pipelines, people, products, or even intellectual property is no longer the key to success. Openness is.

Google have been generous in sharing their philosophy on their website, so we can look there to see why they are the fastest growing company in the history of the world, according to the Times newspaper.

Our philosophy – Ten things we know to be true:
1. Focus on the user and all else will follow
2. It’s best to do one thing really, really well
3. Fast is better than slow
4. Democracy on the web works
5. You don’t need to be at your desk to need an answer
6. You can make money without doing evil
7. There’s always more information out there
8. The need for information crosses all borders
9. You can be serious without a suit
10. Great just isn’t good enough

You can get more details from the Google website.

Jarvis also looks at Facebook, and recounts listening to the 22 year old founder Mark Zuckerberg answer a gathering of media moguls at Davos on how to build their own communities – ‘you can’t’.

What he meant, was that communities already exist, so your role is to bring them ‘elegant organization’, to help them achieve their goals more effectively. Jarvis illustrates Zuckerberg’s approach by retelling the story of how he managed to graduate from Harvard, despite not having attended a single class or finding time to study.

‘The final exam was a week away and he was in a panic. It’s one thing to drop out of Harvard to start a gigantic, world-changing company; it’s another to flunk.

Zuckerberg did what comes naturally to a native of the web. He went to the internet and downloaded images of art he knew would be covered in the exam. He put them on a web page and added blank boxes under each. Then he emailed the address of this page to his class-mates, telling them he’d just put up a study guide. Think Tom Sawyer’s fence. The class dutifully came along and filled in the blanks with the essential knowledge about each piece of art, editing each other as they went, collaborating to get it just right. This being Harvard, they did a good job of it.

You can predict the punch line: Zuckerberg aced the exam. But here’s the real kicker: The professor said the class as a whole got better grades than usual. They captured the wisdom of their crowd and helped each other. Zuckerberg had created the means for the class to collaborate. He brought them elegant organization.’

Some of the other highlights of the book for me were:
•    If you’re not searchable, you won’t be found – make sure you maximise your discovery, especially by Google search.
•    Your customers are your ad agency – in the early days of Google, Facebook and Twitter, all their marketing work was done for free by their fans.
•    The mass market is dead – long live the mass of niches – and the long tail.
•    Middlemen are doomed – unless they can show how they add value.
•    Life is beta – let your customers test and develop your products and services.

In the second part of the book, Jarvis applies the Google rules to a raft of traditional activities, from utilities to hospitals to banks. The results are fascinating and relevant for everyone in business. For example, why don’t supermarkets have forums where customers could ask for and vote on new product lines.

In conclusion, I would say this is a fascinating wide ranging and challenging review of how the Google approach to business can (and most likely will) impact how many business and service operations operate in future. And a ‘must read’ for anyone about to start out on their own business adventure.