Bob Pointer - CFIL Global
We are all rightly caught up in the euphoria of an England football team for once exceeding expectations and whilst I love the love I feel it will be at a price. Unless we now bring home the trophy the press and many others who now love him to bits, will be queuing up to stick the knife into Gareth Southgate. We seem to love building people up and knocking them down.
We went into the world cup with little expectations and the humiliation of Euro 2016 and defeat to Iceland still very fresh in our minds. We distanced ourselves knowingly or unknowingly from “our boys” THEY haven’t a chance THEY are too young, inexperienced, THEY have no stars, but THEY proved “US” wrong.
Now its not “THEY” its “WE” and the biggest danger is the sudden love and acceptance will prove a block rather than a lift.
So, what is this all about why we, as a nation, seem to be pessimistic by default and then keen to put obstacles or knock down those who try to better themselves and succeed.
Some years ago, I worked as a project co-ordinator for a charity and met two young people who both have had a massive and lasting impact on me. Both it is fair to say had had their problems in their short lives and were quite used to being dismissed or told no but both are by nature irrepressible in spirit and mind.
Will has just returned from a tour of China, runs marathons and seems to be really living and enjoying his life working within the NHS. Emily travelled alone to India and became immersed in the culture and in particular meditation and self- discovery and now is back in the UK a mother and happily settled in Devon. They both refused to be tied down and instead chose to live their lives.
I personally once approached the Essex County Football Association with a proposal to create a football club for disabled children and young adults and was seeking their support in a bid for £10,000 to the FA.
Whilst I received a positive response I was a little annoyed by their lack of expectations for those who would benefit. I laid out my ambition to create a pathway where the players would be able to reach their full potential, whatever that may be, including playing for their country. At this point I was told “it can’t be done”. Those who know me will know that I can be a bit belligerent and stubborn and to me that was a statement not an answer so replied “watch me”. Arrogant? Maybe but I believed in the young people and refused to be limited by their lack of vision or expectation.
In my mind I imagine a similar situation when Gareth Southgate spoke to the FA before the World Cup “I’m taking young untested and internationally inexperienced players and we will bring the trophy home” response “That can’t be done”………………………………
And by the way, I got the grant started the project and Adam a partially sighted and extremely gifted player went on to play Futsol for England.
For Emily and the very beautiful Waverley and Will you both have my utmost respect for just being you.
Sarah Orchard - Orchard Marketing
There is no questioning the dramatic rise of Instagram to be the second largest social platform at 800million users (as of April 2018). The popularity of Instagram is incredible. But with so many users it can be hard to get noticed and adding a few random hashtags to a post isn’t going to get you far these days - it’s becoming much more of a science. So you have to have a plan!
Here are my top 20 tips for getting the most out of Instagram for your business.
1 What is it exactly that you do?
Make sure you set up your profile properly. Use a great profile image, make sure your Instagram handle instantly conveys what you do, and write a good bio. Don’t forget to include your website URL!
2 Be distinctive
Instagram is a very visual platform, so make it work to your advantage. Why not try using the same signature filter and maintaining the same style of photography – this will give your posts a consistent style, which then helps to make them instantly recognisable. Whenever possible, try to echo your brand’s visual identity – adopting the same colours, fonts and image style used on your website – so that the experience of your brand is consistent from one communication channel to another.
3 You need to get active!
Using Instagram occasionally and simply liking a few random posts isn’t likely to achieve a great deal. But if you do your research, you can make likes work really well for your business. Take a good look at what your competitors are up to on Instagram – more importantly, check out who is commenting on their posts – they are probably your target market. So it makes sense to engage with and follow them. This way, you’ll start to build an audience that is actively interested in what your business has to offer.
4 What’s with all these Hashtags?
Hashtags help people navigate through millions of posts to find what’s relevant or of interest to them. Research has shown that using 10+ hashtags is good, but don’t go too mad beyond that. The maximum you can use is 30. However many you decide to use, make sure they are relevant. You can check out popular hashtags using http://hashtagify.me/ . Some will trend like crazy, others are just too generic to be of any use. It’s well worth analysing successful Instagram accounts, especially competitors that are popular, learn from how they are using hashtags and adapt for your own purposes. You may not get it right straightaway, but find hashtags that are both popular and pertinent to your business and you will get instant access to an engaged audience.
5 Use special hashtags wisely
I’d recommend choosing a few special hashtags to encourage a bigger following. For instance, #L4L means ‘like for like’ i.e. if you like me I’ll reciprocate and like your posts. #follow and #followme are an obvious and transparent request.
6 Beware! Hashtags can look messy…
Putting them at the end of your post keeps things tidy, or better still, keep you post clean and post them immediately into the first comment instead. You still get the hashtag benefit for search and especially good if your Inst posts feed into Facebook as the hashtags will look bad in Facebook and research shows, Facebook reach declines with 3+ hashtags in a post.
7 Keep hashtags close to hand!
Save the common hashtags for your business on your smartphone using Notes or similar.
It makes it so much easier to prepare your hashtags and post them easily and consistently every time. You won’t forget ones you have researched if you do this.
8 Get your brand across
Don’t forget to add your brand name as one of the hashtags and remember to use 4-5 core hashtags that describe your business – use them consistently, every time.
9 Caption your images and videos
And inject a bit of personality. By this I don’t mean posting a picture of what you ate for dinner last night! Every post should be relevant to your business and you need to find ways of adding value to your posts. So think about what comment you can add that will encourage people to like and repost it. Growth can happen incredibly quickly if your followers feel they have something to gain from following your account.
10 Quality counts!
Make sure your pictures look amazing. Be ruthless, edit them, dismiss anything that looks poor or is blurred from camera shake. Keep things simple and shoot square from your smartphone for ease of posting.
11 Get clever with layouts and angles
The Instagram Layout app is really good for creating interesting montages, especially if you want to post a sequence of images or show a step-by-step guide. Canva is a great free tool as well.
12 Use links and landing pages
Presumably, you are using your Instagram posts to encourage followers to do something , whether that is to read your latest blog post, visit your website, discover your new ebook, enter a competition or sign up to your email newsletter. Whatever you are doing, make sure you have an appropriate landing page on your website that will enable them to complete the action. And a quick note on the restriction of posting only one link in your bio – check out Linktree https://linktr.ee, a tool that will create one bio link that will then send your followers wherever you want them to go. At the time of writing Insta doesn’t allow live links in posts – you can still add the URL but it isn’t clickable – a major marketing frustration!
13 Share the love
Growth on Instagram depends to an extent on demonstrating that you are engaged with your particular Instagram community. It’s well worth tagging related brands, business associates, relevant membership organisations, industry associations or accounts you want to nurture to support that growth.
14 Ask for a response
Instagram is – or can be – a two-way dialogue so ask your followers to respond to your posts. You, of course, then need to respond to any comments – it’s all about active engagement, not just having a passive following.
15 Who has influence?
Try to identify who on Instagram are the movers and shakers in your niche market and then explore how you might work with them to improve your own Instagram visibility.
16 Plan your posts
Just like a blog, it makes sense to plan your Instagram activity. Set up a rolling 3-month content plan for all your social media and allocate time to curate images, captions and hashtags.
17 Save time with scheduling
There are loads to choose from, but I’d recommend looking at Hootsuite, Buffer Schedugram, and Later. They all have their pros and cons, so it’s a case of choosing the one that feels right for you.
18 Track what’s working
Google Analytics will show what traffic and conversion you’re getting from Instagram. If you have an Instagram Business Account you have the added bonus of Instagram Insights, which shows how effective your posts are. Other tools to consider are Socialbakers, Simply Measured, Union Metrics and Squarelovin.
19 Get more visibility with Instagram Adverts
Instagram advertising, Like Facebook, can work really well. It’s well worth dipping your toe, even with a small budget. There are four formats to choose from – from a simple single image to a 60-second video – and with a choice of banners for your call to action, it couldn’t be easier to start advertising. Why not take a look at my article about Instagram advertising <link> to help get you started.
20 Have an Insta feed
Looking at how to get fresh content on your website. Try an Instagram feed. But always embed them, don’t just link to them. Now you have a way of growing your Instagram following directly from your website, but don’t be tempted to do it with all of your Instagram images – create a teaser with 6/9 images showing.
There has been a fair amount of research in recent years into the benefits of singing. These encompass the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. For example, singing increases the amount of oxygen that you absorb into the body increasing alertness. It stimulates the thyroid gland thus helping to balance your metabolism. It improves motor skills by developing the co-ordination between brain and body. Additionally, singing is a great stress management tool and helps boost the immune system, as well as stimulating the release of endorphins thus improving our sense of well being and making us smarter, healthier, happier and more creative.
The mental benefits of singing are, again, numerous. Significantly, it develops one’s ability to multi-task. For example, singing requires you to sing the correct word, at the correct pitch, at the correct time, at the right volume level and with the most appropriate voice quality. Indeed, singing and music in general uses multiple areas of the brain. For those who have suffered some brain damage, perhaps as a result of dementia or a stroke, singing has particular benefits in that it helps our neurotransmitters connect in new and different ways thus ‘re-wiring’ our brains to regain lost function or access lost memories.
On a spiritual level, singing is uplifting and actually a form of meditation. Furthermore, it has been found that singing in groups seems to amplify many or all of the benefits.
It is true that there is a song for every mood. It is said that singing can open the heart and help release emotional blockages but are there some songs that are better to sing than others. This is something that concerns me in my work with the elderly and those with dementia, aphasia or learning difficulties. Whilst these groups still have the capacity to learn new songs in varying degrees, it is easier to concentrate on those that they remember from earlier life experiences or at least can be stimulated to remember.
It is thought that our greatest ‘personal song bank’ is generated between the ages of 11 and 27 and, in particular, during the secondary school years between 12 and 18. Hence, the following table gives a clue when choosing songs for particular age groups.
Year of Birth Song Era In Particular
1943 1954 to 1970 1955 to 1961
1938 1948 to 1965 1949 to 1956
1933 1943 to 1960 1944 to 1951
1928 1938 to 1955 1930 to 1946
1923 1933 to 1950 1934 to 1939
However, this gives a clue and is not definitive. For example, the period from 1955 to the early 1960’s was particularly vibrant with the birth of rock and roll, increased awareness and reference to pop charts and improving economic prosperity. Also, certain wartime songs and traditional songs made a big impact on individuals as did a particular liking for a specific genre such as jazz, country & western or songs from musicals. Another factor relates to the songs that were popular with our parents or our children and when working with a large group, each song choice will not stimulate memories and emotional or physical reaction in everyone. It’s about generating the maximum benefit for the group as a whole.
When working with the elderly and those with dementia in particular there is a danger in becoming patronising and assuming that one needs to stick to songs from the first half or the 20th Century or even to nursery songs like ‘Old Macdonald’ when, in fact, the era of Elvis or even the Beatles is having an ever increasing impact.
Andrew Callard - Aimed Business
I’ve never been so popular as this last week. All my old friends and businesses I vaguely remember are getting in touch by email to thank me and ask me to stay on their databases. All because of this thing called GDPR, which comes into penalties after May 25th.
Pseudo-phishersLots of businesses keep the email brief and then put a big button for me to opt back in. Great keeping it short and direct helps us time-poor recipients.
Often these are for businesses that are not on my normal email lists or sent corporately without my contact’s name. So I’ve no idea if the address is genuine. The opening line is usually reassuring, but also a bit scary. The second line urges action to avoid mutual disaster. And then there is that big button to press to start.
Start what exactly? Because let’s face it this is exactly the modus operandi of a spear phisherman trying to access my computer to extract data. Business behaviour being what it is we know that most companies have left it to the last week to comply. Perfect cover for the bad guys to sneak in. Ironically precisely one of the things GDPR is trying to prevent.
Can’t wait for Monday for the emails telling me that I’ve been fined- because of course the ICO will have worked the bank holiday weekend to catch out even more of the unwary. Or would they really?
Eric Witheridge - Blue Signage Ltd
How can local companies advertise effectively when the cost of boosting 'pay per click advertising is so expensive, opportunities for paper advertising are reducing and trying to boost your online presence in a sea of very slick international competition is getting harder?
One way would be to take an advertising slot on a small screen near by. Many Golf clubs, Leisure Centres and even Doctors and Dentist's surgeries have information screens available and will often encourage local businesses to take space on them. This provides a cheap and effective local advertising space and reduces the cost of providing the service for the venue.
Many Pubs and Clubs have screens that are only used to display sports and when not in use play local radio. Why not ask your Pub if you can have an advert on their screen when it's not being used?
They'll say that it's not possible or they don't know how to do it. This is the perfect opportunity to suggest they talk to Blue Signage. Especially, when they realise it could earn them extra revenue!
Adverts start from just £10 per month per screen with the cost reducing for multiple locations. Have a look at how effective this is at the Main Place and Bells Golf Club. In fact, why not ask to place an advert on one of their screens before they fill up! For more information call us on 01594 888580
or 07791 190700
Bob Pointer - CFIL Global
EMPATHY IN BUSINESS
“People often confuse the words empathy and sympathy. Empathy means the ability to understand and share the feelings of another, whereas sympathy means ‘feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune” Oxford Dictionaries @ Oxforddictionaries.com
Gaining empathy in our communication with others is essential – or so we are told. But in normal business interactions is it viable? I suppose that all depends what you perceive as an empathetic relationship.
In formal encounters like business meetings we are told we should try to build rapport and be empathetic. But often we get so caught up in our own role in the process that we simply do not have enough capacity to relate at an emotion level with the other participants.
According to Feshbach and Kukenbecker (1974), empathy has 3 essential parts,
So, in the terms of formal business interactions, my contention is that the role of empathy has to be considered carefully. Empathy is not easy achievable - but an understanding of the commonality that exists between both parties can be conveyed and understood. Mutual understanding of the others position and a respect for them as a human being and equal is more achievable and in my opinion right for the situation.
I shall be making a short presentation to CAP meetings in the near future based on this blog entitled ALF – Always listen first.
Andrew Callard - Aimed Business
What do you want Gloucestershire to look like in 2050?
I’ve been talking at CAP, other business networking groups and with businesses and I’m shocked with how few people are aware that currently there is a consultation going on in Gloucestershire. Glos2050 is all about setting the strategy for what Gloucestershire will look like in 2050. It proposes 8 ambitions and 6 ideas and wants feedback now.
The Eight Glos2050 Ambitions
And The Six Glos2050 Ideas
Finding Out MoreThe consultation is available at https://glos2050.com/ . Please go there to find out more information and also to participate before 31st July 2018.
The Forest of Dean District Council is also reaching out to people who live, work and play in the Forest in order to set the economic strategies through to 2050. Its Forest Economic Partnership is looking for individuals who are happy to participate in sub-groups to discuss and agree the best way forward for the Forest as a whole.
To find out more visit the FEP stand at the Forest Enterprise Fair being held at Vantage Point Conference Centre on 18th April between 10-4. It’s also a great opportunity to network, take advantage of free training and meet other Forest businesses.
Ben Warner - Megabyte Technology
Every business uses computer system across multiple areas of their business. It is therefore vital that your IT systems are running probably when you need them.
Outsourcing your IT support will provide your business with professional IT support without having to add one to your payroll or waste your valuable time trying to find solutions to the IT problems you might experience.
Your IT support options can involve outsourcing specific tasks such as setting up new computers, installing networks or buying in services such as data backups and computer security.
If you choose the right IT support company they will willing to provide you with a flexible range of options at a manageable.
Small business should be able to benefit from the same level of IT support as bigger companies and using a good IT support company for outsourcing your IT support requirements means that this is possible.
Sarah Orchard - Orchard Marketing
Yippee I’m 10!
Well 2017 was a major milestone for my business, I made it to the big 10! No that’s not 10 clients but 10 years running a small business. Given all the stats around small business failure, quoted as high as 80% in the first 3 years, I feel very proud to have survived against what seem like the harsh odds.
I started in 2007 just as the big recession hit and at times it might have seemed like a foolish decision to walk away from my lucrative Corporate job but my motivations weren’t money-driven. I had become disillusioned with the politics, back-stabbing and how slow and hard work the progress always felt. Time to make a difference and do something that had more immediate impact and was more rewarding.
So I set up my marketing consultancy and had no clients and no contacts in the small business world. Gulp!
It hasn’t been plain sailing by any means and I have learned the hard way with mistakes and getting things wrong. I have also learned some good stuff that I wanted to share to help other small business owners flourish and not flounder.
So here is my top 10 tips for small business success:
1 Why are you actually in business?
Be true to yourself and do what you are passionate about. It shows! It pours from your being and infects your prospects customers, associates and also importantly, your family and friends. Life is too short to do stuff you hate ever day – find your passion!
2 Really know your Ideal Customers
It can be tempting to throw your net wide to maximise your chances of success. But it makes the marketing job much harder and in fact, niche is best. The more focused and descriptive you can be the better. I went too wide initially and just said Small businesses and really it is small business owners who sell to end consumers and have an experience business – tourism, hospitality, leisure, or retail. Be really clear who your customers are!
3 Get your pricing/fees right
You need to be good at the commercial numbers. Don’t be tempted to start low – don’t undervalue your experience and skills - as it is hard and sometimes impossible to raise your prices later! I was told a good rule of thumb and choose to ignore it as the daily rate seemed a bit scary – it took me 3 years to get to the fees I charge now. It made I was somewhat of a busy fool for the first few years.
In the Corporate world I didn’t really know all this networking ‘underworld’ went on. Meetings in pubs and golf clubs in the early hours, sometimes before dawn! I spent the first 18 months networking, trying to go to 1-2 meetings per week. It can be hard work but it paid off. It takes time though. I didn’t really start to see results for about 9 months but it has repaid my investment ten fold and I met some great business buddies and suppliers along the way, as well as getting client work too. Don’t expect to walk away with it on day one though!!
5 Get a business buddy – a mentor or some peer to peer support…
Working for yourself can be lonely. I had always worked in big teams in large corporates. Suddenly I was on my own and ‘I’ and not a ‘we’ anymore! Nobody to bounce ideas or problems off of. If you are finding stuff tough – sometimes your life partner isn’t the best person to chat it through with, as they get scared about money and your happiness. Find some fellow self-employed business people – a supportive supplier, a networking friend, get a coach, join a Mastermind group, or get a mentor through a professional body or association. It can really help you develop your business and grow it quicker.
6 Outsource what you are not good at!
Do what you are good at, outsource what you don’t have the skills or patience for. Grow your business quicker. It can seem like a cost but these people are experts at what they are passionate about so let them help you – with IT, accounting, office admin, telemarketing, marketing and social media. I got my own Virtual Assistant (VA) about 5 years ago and in the first 12 months I doubled my turnover. Getting her to help with things meant I could focus on fee earning. It was a pivotal moment for my business.
7 Working on your business, not in your business
We all hear this expression all the time but it is easy to forget. Nigel Botterill in his Botty Rules book speaks about working on your business for 90 minutes every day – not on the urgent stuff – the important, business development or innovation stuff that moves you forward. I think most small business owners will struggle with 90 minutes every day, so I recommend setting aside 45 minutes, 3 times a week to do your own important stuff and that includes marketing your own business, not working on client work. I do this myself and it really does work. Make sure you set aside this time at the best time of day for you – when are you most focused and/or productive?
8 Don’t underestimate the power of your own website and Google
As people keep obsessing with social media (don’t get me wrong I love it as a marketer and what it does for us small businesses) but it often means I meet clients who spend all their time on it and don’t’ work on their own ‘shop window’ – their website. If you had a physical retail shop, you wouldn’t neglect your face to the world would you? Well if you did, you would soon close! I’m on my third iteration of my website now in 10 years and investing in it and doing my SEO and blogging has brought significant benefits to my business. I have grown my website traffic 10 fold and I get 50% of my business from organic search – Google etc.
9 Love and nuture your existing customers
Businesses are always looking for new customers but what about your existing ones? People who have bought from you are much more valuable! It costs ten times more to acquire a new customer and just doing some basics like email marketing, client gifts and thank yous for referrals, can all work wonders. No fancy digital marketing techniques but surprisingly still very effective in this modern digital age! I get 50% of my business as repeat and/or referral / recommendation. I always send a little gift to my top clients and a thank you chocolate to people who refer work. Little thank you gestures mean a lot.
10 Above all else - keep your Integrity!
I find this the most difficult thing about running a small business (alongside chasing late invoice payments!!). You have to know when to walk away from business or a client, if it isn’t working. It’s a hard conversation to have with yourself and the client or supplier involved. But you must keep you integrity and your gut feel is always right. It must never be ALL business at ALL costs. It isiou the best - luckew tore new ot business, I hope it helps you be even more successful. good and identify with some of something I feel is really fundamental.
Well that’s it, I hope if you have been in business for many years (probably much longer than me), you will smile wryly and identify with some of my struggles and woes! If you are new to business, I hope it helps you be even more successful. I wish you the best - Good Luck!
Bob Pointer - CFIL Global
What counts for trust and respect today? We are all part of the connected world. Like it or not we are all now impacted on by technology and would be lost without our little box of tricks we call “smart phones” (who thought that up is a genius the phone is smart not the user!).
We all use to some extent social media and share parts of our life with our friends, friends of friends and friends of friends of friends etc. However, there is much evidence which supports the proposition that whilst we are becoming more technically savvy we are becoming less aware of what relationships are in the real world. We are becoming what an acquaintance of mine Nick Looby calls in his recently published book “Modern Zombies” glued to our devices.
Alongside lack of attachment comes the right to say online things you would never dream of saying or doing in the real world, trolling, voyeurism etc. Empathy for others and respect are not high on the agenda. But it has not always been that way or has it?
My fathers simple life revolved around hard work as an engineer on a Thames tug and his family.
One of his greatest pleasures was to read, he could recite whole passages from Charles Dickens novels and was a regular visitor to our local library where he would spend hours immersing himself in his favourite past time. The library was around a mile from our house and every two weeks he would religiously make the journey to replace or renew his books on his old bone shaker bicycle which was one of the only possessions gifted down to him from his father.
Back in those days in the late 1960s there was an element of trust and faith in others and he would routinely leave his bicycle propped up against the wall of the library whilst he spent time there.
I remember him arriving back home that fateful day looking sad and tired but not angry, even though his beloved heirloom had been stolen.
My father was a principled man who believed if you wanted something you saved for it. We never had credit or owed anything to anyone. And so, he saved for a new bicycle and eventually he purchased one and against his beliefs, as he liked to always see the good in people, he bought a lock and chain.
Sometime later he visited the library and left his bicycle chained by its front wheel to the libraries drainpipe. When he returned it was still there chained to the said pipe but unfortunately the frame and back wheel had been stolen.
My father never visited the library again.
This sad and slightly amusing story came back to me when I read the quirky and more recent story of the hitchhiker robot.
Hitchbot the creation of researchers from Ontario’s McMasters and Ryerson University was made up of odds and ends including wellington boots and gardening gloves. He was designed as a “social robot” to test how people would behave when confronted with what is described as a “technical novelty”. In his lifetime Hitchbot travelled extensively across the US and Canada as the guest of those who found him or passed him on.
It proved to be a life affirming display of human spirit and generosity inevitably played out over social media until the fateful day when his final tweet was posted which read,
“My trip must come to an end for now, but my love for humans will never fade. Thanks friends”.
After all of the experiences Hitchbot had been exposed to, being photographed in New York at Stadiums and on beaches, he was found via his inbuilt GPS tracker decapitated and trashed in a parking lot in Philadelphia.
The connection between these two anecdotes are that, to me, they can be perceived in two ways. I could be negative and highlight how both stories highlight the ability of human beings to let themselves down. But I prefer to highlight how both these stories illustrate that the clear majority of people still today respect others and their possessions. It is this respect that allowed my father to leave his bicycle unchained for many years and for Hitchbot to have his adventures.
Reading this you may find my conclusion overtly simplistic but I have big shoes to fill and after years of seeing the cruel and dark side of humanity I am now enjoying being my father’s son committed to respecting others, because I truly believe that on balance of probabilities they will live up to my belief in them.
Respect for ourselves guides our morals, respect for others guides our manners – Laurence Stern
For my Dad - in my eyes you were the most noble man who ever walked this earth
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