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Train to Succeed Blog

02/05/2013 13:56:00

Top Tips For Social Media

Top tips on Social Media with Jayne Reid

Q1. Why does my business need social media? 

• Brings your business to life, makes it current and topical
• Chattier, more informal style
• Gives your business personality (websites are sooooo dry!)
• 2-way communication with clients so great new way for building new relationships and strengthening existing ones
• Great for getting immediate feedback, testimonials and third party endorsement
• Allows you to portray your expertise in a useful and relevant way

Q2. Which social media platform should I be on?

  • Where your targets are is the simple answer – you need absolute clarity on who are your target markets and sectors, then you research if they are    on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Business Facebook. If they are, then you should be too!
  • LinkedIn is the main B2B platform and rich in numbers in IT, Financial Services, Manufacturing and HE sectors, so if these are on your hit-list then LinkedIn is good for your strategy. Its style is more formal and business orientated.
  • Twitter had its origins in the celebrity culture but is now being widely used by business – both B2B and B2C – its style is chatty, insightful and polite.
  • Business Facebook is the trickiest to set up but is very powerful due to its vast numbers of users. Ideal for B2C companies but coming more and more into the B2B landscape- its style is very chatty, sharing information and viral in nature.

Q3. What do I say? 

  • Divide content into information about your company (broadcasting), source great information your clients will want to hear e.g. tips on….., articles on….. and then finally try to engage with your information 
  • Asking   questions is a great way to create a 2-way dialogue
  • Research content sources: ask your clients what interests them – marketing tips, funding sources, business issues, finance issues etc and then source sites with great articles/blogs/forums etc that you can pass on – become a source of knowledge and interest – do not bore them to death with company information!

Q4.How much time should I spend on social media?

  • Spend at least 2 hours getting your profiles looking like your shop window to the world – LinkedIn needs at least 80% completeness rating and ideally should be 100%. Spend time on your Twitter bio-line as it follows you everywhere, and choose imagery and colours to appeal to your targets – not your personal preferences.
  • LinkedIn – 30mins a week and post at least once a week onto your wall to your contacts, and engage in your chosen groups monthly.
    Twitter – 6 tweets a day, 2 broadcast, 2 information sources, 2 engagement and if you use management tools such as Tweetdeck or Hootsuite this should only take 10-15 minutes a day. Spend some of this time building your follows, answering messages, re-tweeting etc to encourage engagement.
  • Business Facebook – 6 posts a day – use the same content as Twitter and spend time on your key targets ‘liking’ and ‘commenting’ on their walls so you are visible to them as well.

Q5.How does social media fit our corporate strategy?

• Raises brand awareness
• Becoming an expert
• Increase traffic to my website
• Increase Google ranking (Social noise needed)
• Generate ideas from customers
• Strengthen relationships
• Improve customer service
• Generate new leads and sales – eventually

04/04/2013 11:26:00

THE FUNDAMENTALS OF COMPETITIVENESS

By guest blogger, John McMahon

Business is simple. You add cost and you add value. If you happen to figure out how to add more value than cost you win.
That begs certain questions. How do you add value? How much of it do you add? What does that say about your competitiveness and its sustainability? And what does it say about your capacity to add further value?

Viewed from this perspective there are four fundamentally different types of business.

Labour intensive businesses add modest value. They compete heavily on cost which is hugely driven by wages. If a labour intensive business doesn’t have wage advantage over the competition it must compensate by adding additional value, perhaps through service or design, without adding significant further cost.

Material intensive businesses also add relatively little value albeit more than labour intensive ones. They too compete heavily on cost which in this case is driven by material cost. Much retail and wholesale activity is a case in point. If somebody else has lower material costs the response must offset their advantage by adding value they don’t add without adding much more cost. Choice, location, service and design, amongst other factors, all offer potential.

Machine/skill intensive businesses add higher value. They do so by simultaneously designing out cost while designing in customer value. Each year computer, mobile phone, car and appliance manufacturers and their suppliers, often SME’s, figure out how to give their customers even more for less. Whoever does it best wins. Such is the essence of machine/skill intensive businesses. The biggest trend in business these days is the extension of machine intensive cost reduction/value adding techniques to service businesses including low cost airlines, hotels, banking services, retail (online) and increasingly professional services of all types.

Knowledge intensive businesses add the most value and they do it in one or both of two ways. First are through innovation or design and the creation of “widgets with wings” i.e. unique products or services which because of their uniqueness command a price premium. Second is through sophisticated marketing which builds “brand power” i.e. the ability to command very significant price premia over the competition simply for the brand. An Apple laptop versus a Dell laptop is a good example of knowledge intensive versus machine intensive in the same product area. Innovation, design and brand power combine to command a large premium.

The irony of 21st century business is that regardless of where a business is in the labour to knowledge value chain increasingly value is added by activities traditionally viewed as “overheads” i.e. non value adding. Innovation, design, marketing to develop brand power, service, applications engineering etc are the most powerful and rewarding value adding capabilities we can develop.

Too many businesses don’t effectively manage their value adding capability and the competitiveness it can afford to the detriment of their competitiveness and their development potential.

14/03/2013 09:51:00

Top Tips for Accessing Finance

Top Tips for Accessing Finance, with Roger Lawton

The first step is to accurately calculate how much is needed.

Q1A. Is external funding necessary? Is the business as efficient as possible, internally?

Q1B.  Can the business use its own assets to fund the project/purchase/need?

Finance is required, normally, for one of two reasons; firstly for working capital and secondly for the purchase of something specific – equipment, vehicle, premises etc. The funding sought must be appropriate to the need.
 
Q2.  Are there sources of external funding other than bank loans and overdrafts?

Yes, there are many, both local and national.
 
Q3. Are banks lending at present?

Yes, to “suitable” businesses, but they are more cautious than they were two years ago and frequently charge a higher interest rate
 
Q4. What is “suitable”?
 
A profitable business with a realistic cash flow which evidences the business’s ability to repay the loan/facility
 

Q5. Do banks lend to start-up businesses?

Yes, but perhaps they are even more cautious, as the risk is higher.
 
Q6. How can I ensure that I have the best chance of having my application approved?

By giving the potential funder all the information required in a professional way.

08/02/2013 10:16:00

Top tips for Motivating People

Top tips for Motivating People with Andrea Stephenson, FAQ’S

Top Tips - for Motivating People

1: Develop your knowledge - to understand what motivates people.

Don’t assume everyone is motivated by the same things that you are. Develop your understanding of people and of what needs to be in place to actively motivate them. There are some well tried and tested models, theories and ideas on motivation that have been around but stand the test of time. Understanding these models etc will help you address factors that motivate, and the ones that just need to be there and would de-motivate if they are not there. You will then be ready to start motivating people

2: Get some quick wins
 
When you’ve identified the things that demotivate then do something that will give you a quick win. They’re usually easy to put right, and people will notice and appreciate it. Think about whether you say “good morning” to people every day,  the photocopier that can’t cope with the workload, procedures that could be stream-lined to save duplication of effort, the lack of milk, tea, coffee in the staff coffee room, the computers that keep crashing … You must know examples in your organisation.
 
Quick wins aren’t the big motivational factors, but they are demotivating. They simply must be fixed, but the benefits won’t last forever.

3: Talk to your people
 
Put in place a method for your employees to tell you what they like, what they need, what they aspire to, what challenges they would like to rise to.  There are a number of ways to do this. If the mechanism is good, you’ll get good stuff back. People might use it as an opportunity to moan or to be flippant, but they need to get stuff off their chest  But you’ll get good ideas too. Ideas on how to treat customers better, how to be more efficient, ideas on better ways of working. Useful things.

4: Listen to your people – act on the feedback

It is important to show that you are listening by taking action. Firstly, act on the information you get – particularly for those quick wins. Secondly, keep at it. Do it constantly. Keep asking, and keep fixing things. Finding things out is only the beginning. All too often an organisation will launch a ‘new initiative’ only to forget about it a short while afterwards in favour of the next ‘new initiative’. People then won’t believe in what they think is just.

5: Manage your managers
 
“Management’s the only job you get because you’re good at something else.”
(David Hall)
 
Happy people work harder.  Motivated teams perform better.  Managers really influence the motivation levels of the people they manage. They can make the difference between success and failure, between happiness and unhappiness at work. But they need skills, knowledge, time and they need to be managed.  Give them the tools they need.

6: Have a performance management system that is respected and used by all
 
Key motivational factors are: achievement, recognition, the work itself, challenge & responsibility, advancement and personal growth.
A good and well run performance management system offers all of these. Work objectives which challenge and are fully understood, interesting work and recognition help people grow; to realise their own and your organisation’s potential.  Don’t regard it as a chore or give “lip service” to the process.  Organisations with good systems generally find that they get better results and happier people. People who contribute, are engaged in the work they do, and are enthusiastic.

7: Develop your people

Developing people doesn’t necessarily have to be about implementing big training programmes; on the job training and coaching may be enough. It’s just that if you want people to meet challenging objectives, then you need to give them the right level of support.
 
 A survey published in The Times interviewed 1000 employees from companies employing 500 + people. Many were bored and looking for another job. Lack of stimulation and no advancement were high on the list of reasons.

8: Be consistent.

Show consistency in managing people. A recurring complaint about management is inconsistency in management approach. Rewards and recognition encourage people and give them incentives to perform well. Equally people need to know what will happen, if they don’t meet objectives; follow policies or principles.

9: Look at your culture
 
Striving for excellence motivates people.  They enjoy succeeding and like to work in a culture that encourages success. Create a culture of striving for excellence in all you do.  Consult your people about how to do this; don’t accept “OK”.

10: Celebrate success
 
Learning from success is as important as learning from our mistakes.  We need to take the time to do so. Celebrate every success, and learn from it. People and teams striving for excellence pat themselves (and each other) on the back broadcast it when they achieve good things.
 

Do you have any comments regarding this article? If yes, please send to sarah@strategytosucceed.co.uk
 

04/01/2013 12:09:00

Tops Tips for Raising your business profile

Top tips on Raising your business profile with Rob Wilkinson

Q1. What are the options if I can’t deliver PR in-house?
 
You can use an established PR agency or a freelance PR consultant. There are plenty of online directories that will point you in the right direction.

Q2. What will be the likely cost?
 
Using an agency will cost more – probably in the region of £1000 per month or more depending on the plan of activity. Freelancers will likely charge around £500 to £800 per month for a retainer based agreement

Q3. If my business in the trade (B2B) sector what sort of Sep charge budget should I set aside?
 
Set aside at least £500 during the first quarter to get into five key business titles (around £100 per insertion for a panel) that your customers will be reading. These will deliver direct sales enquiries and you will be able to measure the effectiveness of their impact.

Q4. Where can I get hold of media lists?
 
These can be prohibitively expensive. The best option is to get hold of each magazine / newspaper and view each relevant website. From there compile a database of the key contacts at each. Initially keep it manageable – maybe around 10-15 media titles. You can add to them as you move forward.

Q5. How much does professional photography / video production cost?
 
A professional photographer will generally cost around £150 per job / £300 plus for a half day shoot. Video production will range in price from £300 to £3000 depending on the nature / length of the video. You can always do it yourself!

Q6. Is conventional media still relevant?
 
Most definitely! People still read newspapers, listen to the radio and watch TV plus virtually all traditional media are replicated online.

Q7. Are press release distribution services worth investing in?
 
Services such as PR Fire, PR Wire and Business Wire (many more) cost around £100 per release. If you want to get your story out to a wider audience this might be worth considering

Q8. What if my business experiences ‘bad’ news?
 
If it looks like your reputation might be damaged in some way it is best to hire in an expert. If not address each piece of negative coverage with an honest statement to that particular media outlet.

If you have any comments on this post email sarah@strategytosucceed.co.uk