The importance of networking more than just your business
Networking is one of the most important and effective activities for business growth, success and prosperity.
However, until more recently I found business networking to be hard work, awkward, unimaginative, often boring and usually unrewarding.
I would come away from networking events feeling disappointed. The whole experience seemed to transform my once buoyant spirit in to one of discouragement.
What makes networking so unproductive? If networking is one of the most important and effective of activities to grow business, why doesn’t it render winning results more readily?
Across the city I call home I am surrounded by people in their 20s and early thirties who seem to see fitness, gym attendance and a public display of body sweat and near exhaustion to be a way of life.
Not so with me. I’m from a different generation. That’s not to say people of my peer group didn’t exercise. I just don’t remember it being a staple of our regular week of activity when I was of a similar age. Or, perhaps it was just me.
Why Brand is so Crucial to Competition and to taking Market Share
At our September training event in Zambia I developed discussion around business competition, the concept of taking market share and the crucial role brand building plays in the process.
I was prepared for a reasonably lukewarm reaction, as I had already learned that competitive business with the aim of actively taking market share doesn’t sit so well culturally with Zambian business owners.
4 Questions to determine who will
I have lots of meetings with clients from businesses of different sizes selling all manner of products and services.
Such opportunities are eye-opening, and enriching and it is a privilege to engage with experts across a spectrum of enormous diversity, success and prosperity both locally, in different parts of the UK and overseas.
When it comes to business and brand building, however, I see a lack in levels of objectivity that evidences poor quality market research – or no real market research at all!
You will have heard people speak of a ‘USP’. This is short for ‘Unique Selling Proposition’, or ‘Unique Selling Point’, or sometimes ‘Unique Selling Position’.
A USP is essentially a statement that sets out why your business and the products and services you offer are different from your competitors.
It is the reason (or reasons, if you have more than one USP) customers will choose your business over others that supply the same or similar products and services to yours.
We can all remember slogans, or taglines or memory hooks, as they are also sometimes called. I can still remember slogans from when I was as child growing up in the UK.
The magic worked. How do I know? It is clear to me now that I only seemed to process slogans that were for products I was interested in at the time. Opal Fruits (now Starburst): ‘made to make your mouth water.’ Fudge: ‘A finger of fudge is just enough to give your kids a treat.’ Mars: ‘A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play.’
A good business is usually based upon a sound business plan.
A sound business plan will have a brand plan and from the brand plan there will be a brand marketing plan. A brand marketing plan will set out the methods business owners use to take their brand to market.
Marketing activities will then ensue and these will be supported by brand collateral, commonly a combination of well-written copy with elegant design across printed advertising materials, a website, video, social media, signage (including digital) and the like.
Of course, the brand should do much of the marketing work itself. After all, it is the brand with which individuals will resonate, identify, associate themselves and to which they will eventually become loyal.
But what about our use of the most ancient of social media – WOM? How can the full potential of WOM be realised in the digital age for your business, as part of your business marketing mix?
What is Tone of Voice?
Tone of voice is about how your business resonates both with prospects and customers in all forms of communication. This will include the spoken word, at presentations, when making a pitch, in videos or when dealing with customers in person, or on the ‘phone, for example.
This is the same for written words that describe your business in brochures, flyers, your business website, your social media channels, letters to customers and much more. And, it’s not always what is said, though content is important, it’s often the impact that’s made by the way you say it.
You might be tempted to wonder whether all of this is a load of old flannel! But, before you run away with the idea that you don’t need a tone of voice that ‘sings’ for your business, it’s worth making the point that your business will already have a tone of voice. Without focus, however, that tone is likely to be flat!
Messages from any business that hasn't adopted a tone of voice to fit their brand are likely to be inconsistent one prospect to another. Most important, such a business could be losing opportunities because of poor resonance!
Were you ready on the day GDPR came into force? No? Don’t panic!
We all know that consent is an important feature of the GDPR. How could we not? People have been banging on about it for long enough!
However, obtaining consent in all circumstances may not have been necessary after all and therefore wasn’t immediately required by the 25th May. And, undoubtedly, the process of becoming fully GDPR compliant will continue into the coming weeks and possibly months.
The process wasn’t helped – or at least, it was potentially slowed down – by all of us having to respond to the seeming myriad e-mails coming into our inboxes asking for consent – sometimes when the asked for consent wasn’t necessary! This still continues.
The result? A blend of respect for the way data is obtained and handled on the behalf of us all with an increase to workload that has felt, and continues to feel tedious.
Self-employment and business start-ups are becoming ever more common.
Reasons for opening a business are numerous and varied. For some a second income stream is the motivation while remaining in full/part-time employment. For others setting out and going it alone is all about freedom and control over schedules and work experiences. Others simply want to say goodbye to their bosses, constraints on promotion and salary stagnation.