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Creating a vision in a complex world

Creating a vision in a complex world

From time to time, we realise that life has moved on and the things we said 5 years ago don’t apply anymore. We’ve changed, our market has changed, our community has changed.

At times like these it can be worth taking an objective look at where we’re headed and placing some structure around it. The first step is often to lay out the vision of your organisation.

A good vision statement works by helping everyone (staff, customers, other stakeholders) understand and align with the goals of the business for the future. It articulates the future environment in which you will be operating, the nature of the community you will be serving and the services you will be delivering, and how that compares and stands out as different.

Articulating your vision can be a challenging process. It requires investigation, reflection and discussion. It helps to follow a process:

  • Discovery – unearthing the detail: where your market is headed, what your product or service delivers for people
  • Development of the vision – laying out the impact you want to have on the world
  • Testing and review – once you’ve worked out what you think you’re doing, who you’re helping and the reasons they’ll buy into your business, you need to test it – with staff, with customers, with other stakeholders  – and then refine it
  • Communication – the final stage is to let the world know where you’re headed and their part in it.

Now you have your vision you can go ahead and make sure your mission as a business (how you’ll get there) is aligned and, if you like, you can also define the values of your business, to help your team understand what behaviours are expected of them.

3 simple steps to developing a customer value proposition

3 simple steps to developing a customer value proposition

A clear value proposition helps a business articulate with clarity what it does, who it does it for and what’s different about the way it does it. It’s concise and most importantly based on what your customers actually think about your product or service, not what you, the business owner, think they should think.

 

Step 1. – Listen to your customers

Get to know what your customers really think. Do some research, online, by phone, use a third party, maybe just talk to them, however you choose, just make sure you’re really listening to them. You want the unvarnished truth, the details, the experience and you have to do your best to forget your own views of how wonderful your product is and not let your views get in the way of what your customers are actually saying.

Step 2. – Develop your proposition

Develop your proposition, by reviewing the feedback you have and building a series of statements that answer these simple questions:

  • What is the service I offer?
  • Who do I serve with it?
  • What are the benefits my customers get from my product?
  • Why is it better than what my competition offer?

Step 3. – Test your proposition

Test your proposition. With your team, with friends, with business acquaintances, with customers. Make sure it fits, it helps people to understand what you do and why you’re right for them. Listen to the feedback and modify as necessary until you have it right.

 

In a larger organisation there may be many more phases, but in essence these three are the key.

Now, armed with your new proposition you can look at how you express your business to your market and see whether your sales pitch, website etc. need updating. Remember your proposition probably isn’t something that you quote word for word, or paste all over your web site. It’s the foundation from which you build your marketing and sales materials.

Now you have a value proposition, you have a story that helps your sales team sell, helps your marketers market and makes choosing you the right choice for your customers.

7 simple steps to successful digital transformation

7 simple steps to successful digital transformation

If you want to get digital and aren’t sure how, or have made some effort, but it’s not paying results, then here are some simple steps to help on that journey.

  1. Find out where your people hang out. Get to know where your ideal clients spend their time online. Do they use social at all? If they do, where do they go, what do they participate in and how do they participate?
  2. Listen first. Listening is just as important online as it is in the real world. Listen to what they say and how they say it. Do they shout about themselves or do they participate in conversations? Do they respond to their clients? Work out how they engage with other brands.
  3. Once you’ve got to know their online personalities, think about how you and your business could join in the conversation with them.
  4. Don’t gob off! Social media isn’t the place to go shouting like you’re at a used car sales lot. It’s a place for conversations. Join in the debate. Speak as you / your brand would speak.
  5. Me or my brand? Some Social media gurus will tell you that social media is all about people, so you should engage as the person, not the business. I think there are times and types of business where this is an appropriate approach, but for many engaging as the business is the right option, because you are able to remind people of who you are and your fans will love you for being the business and all that you stand for.
  6. Remember your tone of voice. Don’t be overly formal if that’s not who you are as a business. Be yourself and even if your account is in your company name you can let yourself shine through and even sign off with your name.
  7. And finally for now: be helpful. The best way to engage with people is to be helpful. Remember that we started by working out where your customers hang out and we listened. Well now we need to respond to their issues – even if the thing you’re being helpful with isn’t going to directly sell your business. By being helpful you build trust and trust goes a long way in the online and offline world.

I hope you found these tips useful on your journey to digital transformation – if you’d like to add any of your own, do comment below.

Re-invigorating lapsed customers

Re-invigorating lapsed customers

Sometimes people just stop buying from us. Maybe the project ends. Maybe they run out of money for a while. Maybe they think they’ll get something better elsewhere. When a customer stops buying from you what do you do? How do you prioritise which ones to go after? And, how do you go about winning them back? After all they’re often a very warm prospect and it should be relatively easy, right?

If you only have a few customers who you know well it’s relatively straightforward to choose who to go after and all it may take is a quick phone call to re-establish a relationship. However, when the number is greater, the relationship less close, it can be a tall order. Here are some simple tips on how to begin…

1. Take your time

This doesn’t meant be lazy, this means recognise that in order to win customers back, it takes time. You will need to re-build awareness and trust. You will need to re-establish connections. You will need to earn their interest in what you do

2. Remind yourself what interests them and make sure it aligns with what you want to sell them

Some of your previous customers may have chosen not to work with you any more, because what you do isn’t what they want. I know this can be hard to face up to, but face up to it. Pushing water up hill isn’t easy, go for the customers who have a stronger alignment with you.

3. Now go back and look again at what your lapsed customers want

Make sure you pay attention to the detail of what your customers want and how they describe it. Then think about your proposition and make sure your descriptions will resonate with them.

4. Get started

Chances are if you have a large number of customers you want to re-engage with, you’ll now be thinking about the kind of content that may interest them. You are now figuring out your content marketing strategy. It’s all about creating interesting (to your customer, not you!) content (video, blog, stories for the media, social, etc.) that they can respond to and be reminded of your existence.

5. Don’t hit with a hard sell from the off

If you want to re-engage, do that. Engage, don’t sell. Selling comes later, once you’ve warmed your prospects up. For now, you want them to see you as knowledgeable, helpful, and worth picking up the phone to, so leave the hard sell for a while. Build a relationship. Smile. It’ll pay off.

6. Be patient

And so we’re back to point 1. This all takes time. If you’re in a hurry, sure, pick up the phone, let them say “no” and destroy your chance to re-engage in a way that adds value – that’s fine by me. But if you want customers who are excited about picking up the phone to you, then consider some of the above and let me know how it goes.

 

The impact of the minimum wage rise on business

The impact of the minimum wage rise on business

The government has raised the minimum wage rate. How does this impact business and the people that work for them?

Naturally it depends on many, many factors from the nature of your business and the number of people, to the type of product or service you sell and the type of people who buy it.

Apparently 1.4 million people will be earning 20p an hour more, which equates to a potential £0.5bn extra going into pockets of people around the country. So there’s potentially more spending power at the disposal of those individuals, meaning that more money flows back to some businesses. Meanwhile small business owners with low paid staff may well be hit by increases in wage bill that they may find unaffordable. Equally, this may mean some staff choosing to move on, or even being forced to. For large businesses with many low paid staff this could have a clear and direct hit on the bottom line as it raises the bar for low paid work.

There is much political chatter about this and whether it will impact on the election. I suspect that other issues will overshadow this particular one over the coming months, but what’s certain for me is that the overall state of the economy and the support or not for small business will play it’s part.

Despite the relatively small number at the heart of this matter, the impacts of such macro changes are wide and varied. And invariably they impact individuals to a different degree. Many people won’t even notice a difference at all. Nevertheless, the principle of a reasonable minimum wage is one which needs to be supported to avoid exploitation and in my opinion help a thriving and fair economy.  I’m also a believer in paying a fair rate for apprenticeships and the young, so the change in this matter is a step in the right direction for me.

Any other views on this?