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The World Wide Web Was Born in 1989, 25 Years On Where Would SME Business Be Without It? – by Jo Haigh

Jo Haigh

Jo Haigh

October 1989; the month and year I started my business. I was unaware at the time that another new born was the World Wide Web, I was also unaware of the impact this creation would have on my life, both business and personal.

In 1989 promoting a new SME profile was all about meetings, networking and press coverage, not to mention “who you knew”. Easy and immediate access to prospects and the wider network was a thing of wishes and dreams.

Today though many a business is born and raised to childhood, sometimes event to adulthood, digitally. Take for example online clothing boutiques run out of people’s bedrooms, for these businesses a physical presence has become the thing of hopes and wishes, even if appropriate and desirable.

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How are you Feeling?

- By Andrew B Morris

Andrew B Morris

Andrew B Morris

Today’s executives, particularly blokes, find it difficult to talk about their feelings, especially at work. Asked how we’re feeling, we’d be surprised and off guard, and uncomfortably respond with a mumble of “…fine” “…ok or “…good.”

Our emotions take dominance in our decision-making over our rational brain. Once we’ve collated all the data and research, calculated the budget and prepared the plan, our final decision to proceed or delay will be based upon one key emotion:

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10 Tips for a Better You

Health and wellbeing tips for busy people from top fitness coach, Jon Denoris.

1. Manage your ENERGY not your time. Time management is, I believe, a myth. It’s far better to increase your energy levels so that it is greater than the demands/stresses placed on it. Smart use of movement, nutrition and restoration can help you to do this.

2. Use Technology as an enabler of “wellness” to help track your movement. “wearable tech” offers interesting insight to how we live our lives, and health and fitness companies offer options that are great to help with motivation and keep you on track. Many offer wireless uploading to smartphones so we can make sure we move more. Continue reading →

How Much Is Fear Costing You?

Few of us will be familiar with the 1,883-word, 20 minute-long speech delivered by Franklin D. Roosevelt on the occasion of his first inauguration as US president on March 4, 1933. But most of us will recognise one sentence from it. “So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.“

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” A brave assertion to make at the height of the great depression. But Roosevelt was right. Fear and worry achieve nothing. Yet for many businesses fear holds them back from achieving what they are really capable of. Call it lack of confidence or call it fear. Either way, clients can smell it. Continue reading →

The Dynamics of Difficult Conversations

The average British person has 27 conversations every day, lasting an average of 10 minutes each. That adds up to a massive 4.5 hours a day or 68 days – every year. We mostly enter these conversations automatically, without forethought or reflection. However, there are some conversations we do notice. We can spend hours, days or even weeks worrying about what to say and then when they are over, dwell on what we should have said and wish we had never had them or at best done them differently. These are our difficult conversations. They usually contain a dizzying cocktail of high stakes, differing opinions, historical baggage and strong emotions.

Conversational dynamics

Our challenge is that human interaction is not predictable. In many ways it is more like a game of snakes and ladders – full of ups, downs and hidden pitfalls. The issues being discussed can be complex and you can never be 100% sure how you or the other person will react. In the blink of an eye you land on a verbal snake and the conversation can plummet into free fall.  Equally, there will also be times when your dialogue creates a moment of joint understanding or resolves an impasse and together you accelerate up a ladder to a successful outcome.

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Case Study: Frank Bastow

Balancing body, mind and spirit is key for Academy CEO Group 14 member, Frank Bastow, who runs the eponymous London-based property restoration and redecoration company dedicated to ‘Making London Beautiful’.

Having worked within the family building and contracting company for several years, in his late 20s he started his own building and decorating firm. He then merged the two companies in 2000 and embarked on a huge re-branding and expansion programme. Unusually for a construction industry business, the first step taken in this was to articulate Bastows’ values.

Frank- BastowSays Frank: “It took us a year and a half to find out what our values were. It was discussed with everyone, all 55 employees in the business. Not everyone was keen on the idea of adopting a set of “core values” and absolutely committing to living those values in the way we run the business. Ultimately, two directors, three site agents and seven employees left us (although some of them still work for us as sub-contractors), but that was their decision and the right one for Bastows.

“The values we decided on are to be brave, harmonious and true.

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A Lesson in Value

A heart surgeon took his car to his local garage for a regular service, where he usually exchanged a little friendly banter with the owner, a skilled but not especially wealthy mechanic.

“So tell me,” says the mechanic, “I’ve been wondering about what we both do for a living, and how much more you get paid than me…”

“Yes?…” says the surgeon.

“Well look at this,” says the mechanic, as he worked on a big complicated engine, “I check how it’s running, open it up, fix the valves, and put it all back together so it works good as new.. We basically do the same job don’t we? And yet you are paid ten times what I am – how do you explain that?”

The surgeon thought for a moment, and replied, “Try it with the engine still running…”

Value and Worth – by Jo Haigh

Jo Haigh

Jo Haigh

For insurance purposes I recently had some family jewellery valued. Some of these items belonged to my grandmother and, although somewhat old fashioned, were technically fine pieces containing some precious stones diamonds and made of 22ct gold. Because of their settings however the actual items I was informed had probably more value if broken up for their parts.

I of course had no intention of selling them, they are after all heirlooms which I propose to pass to my daughters, but what struck me was that the value is irrelevant. It was so much more than the pounds sterling I could have exchanged the items for but rather the history behind them that was so important.

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The Wrong Target

- By Andrew B Morris

When the spotlight falls on budgets it’s common practice – but not always common sense – to turn to cost-cutting and margin reduction as a short-term solution. The marketing budget is a common casualty of this misplaced thinking, especially those elements where results are harder to quantify. That often sees things like online and social media campaigns facing the axe, even though they actually underpin sales efforts and so help preserve the top line.

Andrew B Morris

Andrew B Morris

Certainly review all costs and take out any fat or discretionary spend that isn’t justified. But we can’t continue to do this or we will have no business left.

Switch your focus to how the top line, revenue, can be maintained.

  • Is the marketing plan fit for purpose, given the prevailing market conditions?
  • Should we re-allocate spend to increase the marketing budget? Continue reading →

Reinventing Marketing – Goodbye to the 4Ps

- By Andy Hanselman

Every marketing professional will be familiar with the concept of the ‘marketing mix’, a recipe that was long made up of the 4 Ps – Price, Product, Promotion, and Place. Some have taken to expanding this to seven or even eight Ps, while others have dropped the Ps entirely and embraced the 4 Cs instead.

4-pWhat this all goes to show is that the world is changing. Customer choice, connectivity, competition, change (hey – that’s 4Cs!), information overload and greater market transparency all means that the customer now has much more control than ever before. It also means that those original 4 Ps are past it, ‘kaPut’ , passé and pointless.

So in the spirit of the age, I offer you an alternative set of P’s for the age of connectivity, control and convenience. 

1. Permission
As consumers, we’re constantly bombarded with advertising messages. One estimate I came across the other day suggests we are exposed to 1500 a day! So it’s not surprising that many of these are irrelevant or irritating.

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