Here’s What You Don’t Know…And It’s Serious

Firstly…I do have an axe to grind but it’s one that is entirely focused on your success.

I’ve had two spells living and working in this amazing city. Its people are wonderful and kind. It sits in a great big valley surrounded by nature. It really is like a big village nestled in the foothills of God’s own country.

I’ve been lucky enough to sit at a few top tables around the world where big things are planned and great (and not so great) ideas hatched. Sadly, many of these truly great intentions are reviewed unkindly through hindsight…despite one or two of us being at pains to point out why they would be.

I was once told of a Sheffield man standing in the rain at a bus stop as a Rolls Royce glided silently past…he could never imagine ever being in a position to own one of these great cars but he worked tirelessly to ensure that its owner joined him in the bus queue.

And here is what you don’t know about you and your business. Sheffield is a tough place to conduct business. Its people are uncompromising and have a bit of a chip on their shoulders. They are dour and tight fisted. They make do and mend. They voice their strong opinions and fight over seemingly insignificant things. They come from a city that has developed a ‘might-do’ attitude and it’s had several non-descript leaders all of whom became embittered by fruitless years of dogged but poor performance. We set our sights as low as we possibly can and often fail to get there.

Over the past few months, I’ve committed to buying everything that I can locally and from independent businesses. I want to continue doing this if I can. If I can…

But to be honest, I’ve been forced to endure some of the worst possible customer experiences of my life by taking this stance. From auto garages to upholsterers, food shops to clothing retailers, hair salons to hardware stores…I would not give the combined customer experience more than 4/10 with one or two brighter exceptions.

I’ve lived in many places around the world and in these places I would score them a pretty healthy 8/10 for their attitude towards success. Every business has its SALES PREVENTION OFFICERS…and these range from initial customer engagement, with what appear to be real live people, to online sales platforms that are clumsy, slow and inefficient.

So Sheffield, if you really do want to play with the grown ups…have really good people review your business from top to bottom. Use people that know what they are looking for and know what is needed to succeed. People that have run exceptional businesses themselves.

I’ll have a New Year £100 bet with any of you (and I never gamble) that I can find at least THREE of these SPOs in your business…but to find everything that really stifles growth and success, that may take us a little while longer…but we will get there…

We truly wish you a prosperous 2021 and one where you set aside the things that prevent it.

Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash

Using Social Media

Using Social Media

There is some mystery about the array of platforms available to us as we try to inspire and motivate people to engage with us. The reason we communicate is to grow the business and the way we grow is through engaging with ‘friends’ who become our clients, ambassadors and evangelists.

We should use social media to capture the hearts and minds of our followers by giving them something for free. Free works, free is good and free is always well received. We should always be on the lookout for stuff we can do for free.

This can be show and tells, knowhow, skills, knowledge and facts. The way we assemble this is to first occupy the mind of your audience and become them. Once you become them you will know what is important to them, what is valuable to them and what will cause them to act on our behalf.

There is only one danger with sharing our knowledge, with showing people our stuff and with giving things away that are important to us…that we do it badly. We need to show excellent stuff using excellent tools and through the right channels.

We are all capable of creating valuable and interesting materials. Materials that are easy to produce, unique to us and, most of all, valuable to our audience.

So when you are out and about feeling the creative juices flowing through your mind you should come up with the messages we need to get out there and creative ways to communicate them.

Twitter

This is a ticker-tape type of platform to announce small sound-bites about something current, interesting and important using just 144 characters including short links to information and photos…a snapshot in time as the event unfolds.

Pros – quick and dirty…feels good

Cons – you need to work hard to build a good follower base and make it really topical (or it gets lost in the ether)

Facebook

A forum based platform for sharing opinions and feelings about a topic close to everyone’s heart. Something of real value that will invite people to participate and share with their friends. This platform never works (in business) as a ‘look at me’ profile as people build resentment and will you to fail and fall. Nobody likes a happy t*”t…we are British and don’t do the disingenuous and falsely gratifying selfie promotion…it’s crass.

Pros – a people’s platform and is ‘friendly’

Cons – needs a huge ‘follower’ base to have any meaningful impact

Instagram

Now owned by Facebook, Instagram is a photo based repository where you can enhance shots and host them online for others to see. The obvious platform for location snaps and course promotion…but only when linked to something of demonstrable value to the intended audience.

Pros – a picture tells a thousands stories

Cons – crap pics don’t have any positive impact

YouTube (or Vimeo)

A Google owned platform for hosting video content for show hows and live records of exceptional events. Training materials can be added and a knowledge base built. This can build quickly and categorised into useful and valuable content.

Pros – media heavyweight and forms a strong and useful resource. Can integrate into websites and blogs. Is more personal and gives a face to the viewer

Cons – do it on the cheap and it will work against you

LinkedIn

This is the platform to show your credentials. It’s your work CV and carries enormous weight when people search for individuals. It is very useful to add gravitas to our online profiles and is impressive when tended and displayed correctly.

Pros – great for an organisational CV platform (if the CV’s are strong)

Cons – rarely gets used unless someone is looking specifically for you of for people that do what you say you do.

Pinterest.

This is like a scrap book of all of the (work related) things you find interesting. Topics can be arranged into individual pin-boards and you can deposit things you have discovered online that you want to share with the rest of the world.

Pros – great nostalgic feel to it all

Cons – only usful for others to find your topics when they are looking for topics that you like

G+ ( Google Circles)

This hasn’t taken off as everyone expected as we are still hooked into old platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. When (if) it does it will need some careful thought as it is powerful and links everything to everything.

Pros – immensely powerful and far reaching

Cons – used mainly by techies as they a) can be bothered and b0 can work it all out.

Photo by Prateek Katyal on Unsplash

IT Support Is Failing You

Many IT Companies are failing the market because they are not seeing an obvious need nor are they satisfying customers but persisting in tying up firms with costs that are both over valued and over priced.

I have been looking at a client’s IT needs and their spend on IT support (risk insurance). They currently have a contract with an excellent IT company after first upgrading all of their kit so that it provides a great platform on which to manage their business information.

But my client doesn’t want to own any IT, they don’t want to manage any IT and they don’t want to learn about IT…they just want to use the software that sits upon it.

I don’t want to own a car, I don’t want to run or fix a car, I don’t need a car for image and I don’t need or want the latest car on the market. I want to travel from A to B safe in the knowledge that I will get there.

I really want an IT company that provides my clients with a platform on which they run their businesses…it’s just that simple?

But no, instead, I find myself aghast at the plethora of time consuming emails between the IT company, the broadband company, the line supplier, the telephony equipment supplier, the IT kit suppliers and the company employees. They are all apportioning blame on each other, when what my clients really want is for their employees to simply get on with their real work.

If I were to advise any IT supplier I would simply say “take away the problem”.

Provide everything on a rental system, look after everything, offer resilience, responsiveness and do away with obsolescence. Provide the kit, the licences, the connectivity, the support and peace of mind for a monthly fee per employee. Upgrade the kit every three years, monitor line use and provide bandwidth accordingly, check licences for cloud based software and ensure upgrades, back-ups and security happen behind the scenes as and when the client has downtime capacity.

Car companies don’t sell cars anymore. They sell complete solutions at a monthly cost…they finance peace of mind and aspiration. You just add the driver and off you go.

Photo by Julia Joppien on Unsplash