Every business needs a RingMaster

Just like the Circus – Every business needs  a RingMaster and not just because you have to deal with clowns and wild animals at times.

When I read Malcolm Gladwells The Tipping Point I realised that I am a Connector and a SalesMan when I read his next book Blink I understood why intuition, gut instinct and first impressions result in the best decisions and when I read Outliers I realised how unfortunate I have been in life to be born of December 27th…….. I was treated in school and sport in junior years as being up to a year older than my body…. and maybe got left behind a bit.

I must admit those discoveries have been very valuable over the past 10 years in understanding who I am in a business environment…. and now I want to explain why I think business today needs people like me more than ever…..At last I am indispensable.

When I write a blog I need two things to get started —- A headline and a memorable Image.

The headline here was easy because I am about to change my enovAsia  Job Title to Ringmaster and wanted to explain why . So I found a striking impact-full image that would grab interest and one that allowed me to add to my story as well

ut-imlayThe wild beast on the leash reminded me of the President and CEOof Dun and Bradstreet Software (CBS) – John Imlay.  In the late 80s I worked for McCormack and Dodge – a Dun and Bradstreet Company. In the early 90s we merged with MSA our most bitter rival to form the world’s biggest Business Software Company.

At the first DBS Sales Conference I attended in Atlanta John Imlay came on stage  to present with a with a Tiger on a leash. This was his trademark – as a leader he was tough, forthright, feared and respected.  

This definitely wasn’t the image I wanted to portray and maybe it wasn’t the real John Imlay. Some months later I was working at head Office in Atlanta and waiting for the lift on the Ground Floor. The lift doors opened and there was John on his way up from the basement carpark. I got into the lift but noticed nobody else did. After a brief and pleasant chat I got out at my floor to be told by my colleagues that nobody got into the lift with John Imlay …that was the rule.

Maybe they forgot to tell John the rule.

So the message for me was Leadership style and actions need to be in sync – Talk the Talk and Walk the Walk.

brightandearlyblog.com
brightandearlyblog.com

When I first started eNova I was asked what I did and even before Gladwell told me I was a connector and salesman I answered that I saw myself as the old fashioned Switchboard Operator who made sure people found the right people to talk to and made the connection.

Unfortunately like the SwitchBoard Operator most of the time I was making that connection and dropping out of the conversation.

So clearly as a consultant  this was not the metaphor I was looking for….as dropping out of conversations is not good for billing services.

As I said the “Tipping Point” had a real impact on me and gave me an understanding of why connectors and sales people were important within organisations.  I don’t necessarily mean the traditional sales man selling their ware to the public – But the sort of internal salesman we all are day in day ….One that can turn Connecting and Selling into leadership. And lets not confuse Leadership with Management or with status ….anyone and everyone can be a leader in the business if they want to.

So enter the RingMaster. The person who knows what the organisation is all about … knows all of the people inside and outside the business and above all knows what the customers want.

At the Circus some want the clowns and others want the big cats while others want the glamour of the trapeze. And the customers range from toddlers to grand parents. It is up to the ring master to make sure everyone gets the experience they paid for.

She aims to get the best out of each individual and at the end of the show bring them together in harmony for one dazzling Grand Parade.

The Ring Master doesn’t care about titles only about talents and above all the customer experience.

I recently read a new book about the evolution of Digital Media by the founders of Razorfish,  Converge – Transforming Business at the Intersection of Marketing and Technology . Its all about the changes digital media is bringing as we are living in an era of converging technologies and practices … I wrote some years ago about Media Convergence and the future it offers us.

And it is this convergence and the breaking down of traditional barriers within a business that highlight the need for the RingMaster in every business.

Below are key points Ray Velez and Bob Lord make in the book are applicable to every business. As they suggest this can be a roadmap to the future…… And I believe you need to find your RingMaster to keep you focussed on the most important element …. The Customer

• Organise your company around the consumer by busting silos and applying the principles of agile development across your business

• Leverage the power of the cloud for inexpensive easy-to-use solutions to marketing challenges

• Inspire cross-disciplinary thinking and collaborative action

• Create a religion around convergence, explaining how to tell the story, throughout the organization

• Adapt processes to keep up with and takeadvantage of rapid technological change

• Engage customers by creating your own media instead of interrupting them in someone else’s

• Bridge traditional and digital media interactions to offer customers real-time shopping experiences

Every Business needs a RingMaster …. find yours now.

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Stop Learning to Fish…Go Fishing now!!

gone fishingI believe in the fast moving Information and Technological Age in which we live the old adage :  Feed a man a fish and you feed him for a day, Teach a man to Fish and you feed him for Life has changed to –

Feed a man a Fish and you feed him for a day,

Teach a man to Fish and you feed him for Life.

But if he never goes Fishing he will starve eventually

When we wrote the Grumpy Old Managers’ Guide (note the positioning of the apostrophe) several years ago, we said the best way to adjust and adapt to technology (Social Media in particular) and discover its potential in business was to use it for something you enjoy.

Rather than treat the Computer as something you have to use at work to do Spreadsheets and answer email start to explore what it can do to improve your knowledge of things you enjoy – Wine, Gardening, Music etc etc.  We suggested that kind of exploring will open you up to Blogging, Twitter, Facebook etc and give you some appreciation of their use in your business. Continue reading Stop Learning to Fish…Go Fishing now!!

Its not ALL about Big Business

Ways in Which Social Networking Is Beneficial to US Small Businesses, November 2009 (% of respondents)

There is nothing new about Social Networking/Media  – people have been doing it for hundreds of years ….talking to people about things that interest them and building communities with common goals are part of our way of life.

But now technology can speed and broaden this reach incredibly. So while social media as we know it today as a way to interact with consumers is a relatively new trend and we are not yet able to accurately measure its effectiveness in a business building tool it certainly is proving very useful to many.

A recent article published by eMarketer, based on “The Small Business Marketing Forecast 2010” by Ad-Olgy, offers several insights on how social media is helping small businesses . The article suggests that lead generation is clearly the top benefit for small businesses in the use social media. Among other responses, keeping up with the businesses’ respective industries and monitoring what is said about their businesses are also considered benefits of utilising social networks.

The report also found that small businesses consider Facebook (and I suspect thats mainly use of FanPages) to be the most-beneficial social networking site, with one-third of respondents saying Facebook was “at least somewhat beneficial.” My favorite Social network and the No 1 Professional networking site LinkedIn is considered the second-most beneficial platform among businesses, ranking ahead of MySpace and Twitter.

The report also highlights  some of the obstacles small businesses face in maximising the benefits of social media. Most of the respondents feel they lack the knowledge of the social media space and wish they could better understand the space. Others claim they do not have the time or the resources necessary to manage social marketing. Certainly time, trust and resources are the major obstacles I hear about when talking to people every day about getting started.

With the rapid adoption of social networks in everyday life, there is no better time than now to get going irrespective of the size and nature of a business.  Having a social media presence not only allows you access to a very cost effective way to get your message to many more consumers, but it also allows you to interact with consumers and monitor your brand online.

With social marketing experiencing continued growth and the associated benefits to business growing at a great rate we are moving to ensure we can help our clients and prospects overcome the mystery.

We have just developed our simple Grumpy Old Managers Social Media To Do and Not To Do list and will later this month begin to rollout a range of services aimed at giving businesses of all shapes and sizes the opportunity to get into the Game of Being Found on the Net as soon and as effectively as possible

Our approach which I will expand on in future posts aims to help all business  target and connect with  customers across multiple channels.

Keeping it Simple … but not too Simple

 

If you are not convinced click to watch this video

Quite often I am asked what we do and how we do it.  People are very keen to know about Social Media but few still see the benefits and especially the need to hire someone like us to help.  So I thought I should write a little about the what and how of our approach.

 

These days Websites are all about Web 2.0 (The read write web) and interactivity between business – clients, prospects and stakeholders in general.

We specialise in developing the content once we have the structures right  (read write Website, FaceBook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Blog etc..) …. but more so our aim is to teach our clients how to take care of good up to date content themselves rather than relying on us. We are all about helping our clients to build their brand but in doing so access their clients and prospects directly with a view to building direct sales.

While we rely heavily on Social Media we also aim to leverage Traditional Media (not paid advertising tho) to support our image building and brand awareness activities.

And its not all about Marketing and Selling  its about improving our clients’ business in the ways that it interacts with people. Social Media/Networks (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Blogging) provide the tools and tactics to supplement marketing communications, sales and client support activities which these days are merging into one – Inbound Marketing… people doing business with people they like!

Some months ago I wrote a free eBook (The Grumpy Old Managers Guide to Social Media) with my daughter and business partner Nikki to help show business the What, Why and a basic How of Social media for business.  Our aim was to keep it simple and from this we have developed a simple methodology for implementing and managing it.

The process we work through with our clients is pretty simple

  • We run a seminar/workshop  “Is Social Media Right for you/your business/sport/charity/association etc” to cover in broad terms the What, Why and How others use it and end with some what ifs for your business
  • We develop and define a Pilot project at a minimal cost, which aims to produce measurable results and establish the structures which can be used for a broader implementation over time
  • We teach our clients how to develop, manage and maintain content (written, video, images, voice etc) which can be used in a variety of ways (blogs, newsletters, articles, eBooks) and places (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Newspapers and Magazines) and where to look and more so, listen for business and the opportunity to engage in conversations with clients and prospects With  the aim to develop over time long term trusted relationships and develop clients who act as brand ambassadors and evangelists.

Once we have completed the initial project we aim to hand over to the client as soon a practical and take a background role as a mentor and coach — providing ideas and enforcing some discipline to stick with it for long term results.

Our key mantras are :

Say what you be ….  But be what you say

Talk about the benefits you bring to others (clients, community etc..) not about your business
and preferably have others (your clients) do the talking for you.

Above all keep it simple and highly cost effective and make it a sustained effort not just a hit and run project.

We see the use of Social Media as not only assisting in Brand development and reaching potential “buyers” directly but also in establishing our clients as Thought Leaders in adopting new ways to do business.

I suggest to all of our potential clients that they down load the book…. check out some of the links (all avail from our website) and we get together asap for a coffee and explore the possibilities.  Demand for our services has grown dramatically in the past month or two as people in Adelaide begin to realise they need to at least find out what all the fuss about Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn, Blogging etc  is all about ….. in a business sense.

And I recommend that everyone I meet goes to YouTube and searches Social Media Fad and then watches the Video titled is Still think Social Media is a Fad?

 

The Death of Email (as we know it)

email

email tipsemail tips

Some months ago I was predicting the death on Email and Websites with the growth of Social Networks/Media.  But as was pointed out what I was predicting was the death of those tools as we have known them.

I have been using email for over 25 years – prior to the Internet (as we know it) so feel well positioned to comment there.  It was a great tool when it was just on what we now know as an intranet.  I was working for Dun and Bradstreet Software (the then biggest business software company in the world – it was very pre SAP) and the email network was based on our world-wide IBM mainframe based system, so I could communicate directly with anyone in the company anywhere in the world.

So whats changed – well now I can communicate with anyone anywhere in the world (if I know their address) but apart from that the basics of email are still pretty much the same.

If you dont believe email (as we know it) and we are about to move to a new and smarter form of email then ask anyone under 20 if they use email.  The answer will almost certainly be NO.

They do but they just dont recognise it ….   They use Facebook, Myspace etc as an all-encompassing communications system with their world and only their world.  A bit like out old mainframe system – if they are in the address book we can reach them if they are nt we cant.

So they use a combination of email with integrated address book and broadcast tools (The Wall in Facebook) and then meet others in Groups.

All pretty sensible really – a close environment that keeps the spammers out ….  that means you can publish all those jokes and funny videos that clog up my email every day in a place where I can come and look if I am interested.

So those Grumpy Old Managers who are banning Facebook while they sit in their offices reading their mates’ joke emails need to take the blinkers off and look at where Social Networking is taking email (as we know it) and understand its potential for their business. Incidentally these were probably the same GOM’s that banned email (until their mates told them they could send great jokes), mobile phones (until their mates told them they could send great jokes using text messages) and spreadsheets (until their accountant told them they were useful!!) when they first became available!!!

Recently I had a colleague ask me to distribute an invite to my contacts about an online seminar he was arranging with Joe Abram (of MySpace fame) to my contacts .  He said so that he could track which of my invitees “attended” I should cc him in on all the emails.

When I told him I would contact most of my colleagues using LinkedIn he was at a loss to come up with an idea to replace his cc plan!!

So what I need now to replace email (as we know it) is LinkedIn with some of the features of FaceBook or perhaps FaceBook without all the crap!!

Tomorrow I will give my thoughts on the death of Websites (as we know them) but in the meantime read Shel Holz latest Blog Deathwatch: Static Destination Websites as this will form the basis of much of my opinion!

I have to agree with Shel its not the death of a tool but perhaps the end of an era.  And st the end of the day its about the content not the tool anyway!

Hasten slowly with Social Media

Usain Bolt - Fastest Human Ever!
Usain Bolt - Fastest Human Ever!

When it comes to Social Media you don’t have to be the fastest like Usain Bolt – what a stunning performance in Berlin – surely the best athletic feat of the past 25 years at least … 10.59 secs for 100 metres, running at a max speed of 44 kph!!

In a recent conversation starter in the Harvard Business Review “Don’t Keep up with Social Technology” Alexandra Samuel CEO of Social Signal, a social media agency provides some very useful advice to those working with Social Media in business.

The minute you stop trying to keep up, you open far more exciting possibilities: getting ahead with what matters to you, your team and your business.

When we decided to write The Grumpy Old Managers Guide to Social Media Marketing we had this very much in mind. Rather than explore all of the options and talk about the latest and greatest, we focused on keeping it simple. Generally in life if it looks complex we assume it is and we avoid it . This is very much the case with Social Media … tools like LinkedIn, FaceBook, Twitter, Blog etc are very simple and easy to use but can be made to look complex.

In her article Alexandra starts by posing the question:

“It seems like there is always another Social Network to join or another tool I’m supposed to learn. How can I keep up?”

Her simple answer with which most would agree – you can’t.

It is a matter of choosing the tools you need and the features you want to focus on and start to experiment. As we say in the Guide, use Social Media to explore topics that are not necessarily work-related but that you enjoy (maybe a a hobby) and once you understand what the tools can do then apply it to business.

I also love the analogy she uses in comparing Social Media to Ikea (you either love it or hate it … I know!):

“A few years ago I went shopping at Ikea with a friend, and found myself — not for the first time — consumed by the organising department. As I pored over the assortment of boxes and bins, my friend finally grabbed me by the shoulders and looked me square in the eye: “You know,” she told me gently, “there’s no combination of boxes that’s going to turn you into an organised person.”

Social Media is a lot like that. Don’t think it will change you, but you can use it to do what you want to achieve in your business without being a technology geek.

In fact if you are leaving websites etc to technologists and others you are doing your business a disservice … make sure your website and associated tools are simple, straight forward, easy to understand and easy to modify and grow by the people who understand your business.

Major brands such as Proctor and Gamble are using Social Media to connect directly with their consumers because they don’t want retailers to be the guardians of their brand.

Likewise with communications you need to make sure what is said and how it is said reflects who you are and what you are . It needs to be simple genuine and authentic not marketing babble or technospeak which you paid someone who doesn’t know your business to write.

Be what you Say and Say what you be … but above all whether it be website, Twitter, Blogs or any Marketing Communications, make sure you talk about the benefits you bring to your customers and not how great your organisation is … keep it personal, genuine and authentic.

And that’s what Social Media is all about – Hasten Slowly – But Start Soon!