Category Archives: customer service

How Google’s Panda ate my blog

Panda

From Wikipedia

On 27 September this blog was a victim of Google’s Panda update.

Google Panda is a change to the search results algorithm that aims to lower the rank of “low-quality sites”.

Over the years I have found a helpful motivation to writing blog posts is to keep an eye on my visitor statistics. Once the graph starts to dip towards the X axis it is time to put up another story. Handily WordPress produces a nice little graph showing daily activity on the website.

So you can imagine I was more than a little surprised when on 27 September I noticed my hit rate had reduced from 800 a day to 80. After a few days I could see the numbers were not going back up to their previous level and so started to investigate why.

I still don’t have a definitive answer from Google Webmaster site about what caused the drop. My guess is that they became aware of the TypePad copy of this blog.

The history of why I ended up with two versions are too long and boring to go into, but it relates to being an early adopter of blogging at the British Library.

I was aware this duplication could potentially be a problem for Google, who are always on the look-out for people ‘scamming’ their way up the rankings. However, after five years I had assumed they weren’t bothered by my two sites… It seems I was wrong.

A bit of research on the Google Webmasters forum found quite a few other bloggers complaining about plummeting traffic on their pages. And the explanation offered was that the regular Panda index update had demoted their site in the search results.

So all this is a rather long winded explanation as to why my TypePad blog posts now consist of just a short introduction followed by a link to this WordPress site.Screenshot_1

In case the same thing happens to your site. Here is the official advice from Google:

What counts as a high-quality site?

Our site quality algorithms are aimed at helping people find “high-quality” sites by reducing the rankings of low-quality content. The recent “Panda” change tackles the difficult task of algorithmically assessing website quality. Taking a step back, we wanted to explain some of the ideas and research that drive the development of our algorithms.

Below are some questions that one could use to assess the “quality” of a page or an article. These are the kinds of questions we ask ourselves as we write algorithms that attempt to assess site quality. Think of it as our take at encoding what we think our users want.

Of course, we aren’t disclosing the actual ranking signals used in our algorithms because we don’t want folks to game our search results; but if you want to step into Google’s mindset, the questions below provide some guidance on how we’ve been looking at the issue:

  1. Would you trust the information presented in this article?
  2. Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
  3. Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
  4. Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
  5. Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
  6. Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
  7. Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
  8. Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
  9. How much quality control is done on content?
  10. Does the article describe both sides of a story?
  11. Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?
  12. Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
  13. Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
  14. For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?
  15. Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?
  16. Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
  17. Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
  18. Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
  19. Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
  20. Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
  21. Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?
  22. Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?
  23. Would users complain when they see pages from this site?

Writing an algorithm to assess page or site quality is a much harder task, but we hope the questions above give some insight into how we try to write algorithms that distinguish higher-quality sites from lower-quality sites.

 

Soul Trader – Putting the heart back into your business

Rasheed_OgunlaruRasheed Ogunlaru, life and business coach has been a Business & IP Centre partner since our earliest days. In addition to running the Your life, your business workshop once a month in the Centre and mentoring aspiring entrepreneurs with TieUK, he singlehandedly converted me to the benefits of life coaching.

I have to admit that perhaps due to a scientific background, or perhaps just plain old cynicism, I had always been wary of life coaching. I decided the only way to address this prejudice was to attend Rasheed’s workshop five years ago. After three hours I was entirely convinced by his eminently practical approach, to putting your heart and soul into your business.
So it is great to see his practical philosophy translated from workshop to published book in the form of Soul Trader published by Kogan Page. And having read it through this week,  I would put it at the top of my list of recommended reading for everyone starting (or growing) a business. I am still a big fan of Starting Your Own Business: The Good, The Bad and The Unexpected by David Lester, but Rasheed has addressed the key issue of what you really want to get from starting a business, and to make sure you end up running it, instead of it running you and your life.

Soul_Trader_coverHis introduction sums it up nicely:

Most people do not go into business solely to make money. They want to make a living, make an impact, make a contribution, make a statement, make something of real worth and value. They want to enjoy what they do, and make themselves happy and their families secure and proud. They want to make a break from the humdrum, and express their skill and abilities. But sooner or later many business owners fall into the same old trap, lose sight of what’s important and struggle with life balance.

The book consists of eight C’s made up of seven chapters and a ‘plus’ which focusses on insights to help anticipate and embrace Change.

  1. Clarity: Know your mission, talents and values.
  2. Customers: See life through customers’ eyes to win their custom and loyalty.
  3. Courage:  Unleash your inspiration / wisdom and adopt an athlete’s attitude.
  4. Co-operation: Punch over your weight; collaborate. Use / build your network.
  5. Conversations: Learn the art to connect, converse, create and convert leads.
  6. Creativity: Know when to work, rest and be at your best, (re)gain life balance.
  7. Compassion: Connect from the heart – be transformational not transactional.

Early on Rasheed gets the you to conduct a personal SWOT analysis. Which is an excellent way of discovering what you do well, and what you need to work on or get help with.

heart_and_chairThe book is peppered with examples from his hundreds of clients over the years, and covers a problem I have encountered many times, which he calls the ‘blindness of the visionary’. People become so (understandably) obsessed by their business idea or invention, they completely forget about their customers. This leads to a very expensive and risky approach to market research, where you bring your product or service to the market and then find out if anyone will buy it. Much better to find out as you develop your idea and tailor it to what you customers say they want.

Once again Rasheed gives a practical solution to this problem by showing how to map out your customers. He also explains how to develop a set of customer ‘scenarios’, to help understand the psychology of your customers. He doesn’t shy away from the realities of doing business in the real world as a soul trader. Without sufficient income (and avoiding the number one cause of failure – cash-flow) your business will not survive. Even social enterprises have to generate enough money to pay their staff and to invest in growth if they are to succeed. These are the hard questions that so many avoid tackling in their business plans:

  1. How much money to you need to live on, and to break even in business?
  2. How much money do you seek to make this year, next year and the year after in turnover – before costs and tax – and in your personal profit after cost and tax?
  3. On average how many sales or customer does that equate to per month and year?
  4. What specific action are needed to reach those goals, and what are the challenges?
  5. What evidence, research and assumptions are those figures based on?
  6. Looking again at those figures, what are a) realistic, b) optimistic and c) pessimistic sales figures for the next 12 months, and what would they mean to you and your business?
  7. What are your main products and services? How are they priced? What are all the costs involved? Which are the most lucrative? Which incur the most costs? Which involve the most hard work? Which are most dear to your heart and to your customers?

I have been talking to lots of makers recently such as jewellers, and many haven’t properly come to terms with the issue of wanting to make everything by hand themselves, but also selling enough items to make a living.

Rachel_ElnaughCourage is term one doesn’t  come across often in business books, but Rasheed rightly recognises that this is an essential ingredient in business, and gives practical tips on how you can develop it. I am constantly in awe of the people I meet who are at the beginning of a journey that would terrify me. The book contains an example from ex-Dragon and Business & IP Centre supporter Rachel Elnaugh. Rasheed asked one simple question during an advice session, and at a stroke gave her an insight which revolutionised her life. “I can honestly say that session with Rasheed was like walking through a doorway that has led me into a completely new and completely fulfilling life where success, money and love are all now flowering.”

Cooperation is an undervalued aspect of business, with many people I meet worrying about their competition before they have even started trading. The book talks about the importance of developing business partnerships through cooperation. And again Rasheed gives practical advice on how to grow and then utilize your support networks.

Conversations, which convert contacts into customers replace the ‘hard sell’ for soul traders. After all, no-one wants to be sold to, but everyone wants their opinion to be listened to. This chapter also includes how conversations work via social media channels and what precautions you need to take them online. There a lots of practical examples here, including how to deal with complaints by using, Acknowledge – Reflect back – Say what you can do.

Towards the end of the book Rasheed introduces his two-page business plan. As he says, ‘Business plans are written for two purposes and for two audiences: 1) for you to identify who and where you are, where you’re going and how you’ll get there; and 2) for investors or funders for the same purpose. If you’re seeking funding from others then you’ll need a longer, more detailed business plan…”

To sum up, I found Soul Trader to be clear and simple, friendly and supportive, passionate and soulful – just like Rasheed himself.

Guy Kawasaki ‘Enchants’ SLA Chicago 2012 conference

Guy_KawasakiGuy Kawasaki was the keynote speaker at the recent SLA annual conference in Chicago, and here are my notes from his talk.

Kawasaki started by talking about his time at the Macintosh division of Apple Inc. He described them as the largest collection of egomaniacs ever assembled in the US, until the creation of the Facebook development team.

In hindsight he realised that enchantment was a key part of his life, dating back to his first job in the jewellery trade.

His two recommended essential reads are:
How to win friends and influence people, published in 1931 by Dale Carneigie, and Influence – The Psychology of Persuasions by Robert B Cialdini.

Kawasaki has observed many hi-tech speakers over the years, and with the exception of Steve Jobs, they all ‘suck and go long’.

He always uses the 10 point model for presenting. So he told us if he ‘sucks’ today we will be able to tell.

1.    Achieve Likeability
–    Have a great smile – not just using the jaw, but also the eyes. So crow’s feet are good. Needs to be a Duchene smile
–    Accept others for what they are
–    Default to ‘yes’ – How can I help the person I just met

2.    Achieve Trustworthiness
–    Trust others first
o    Amazon – have a policy of returning an ebook in 7 days if you don’t like it
o    Zappos – buy the shoes online, if you don’t like them we will pay the return postage
o    Nordstrom – you can return anything to them at any time
–    Become a baker not an eater – a producer not a consumer
–    Find something to agree on with customers – it doesn’t have to be a big thing
o    Example of a dislike of Opera

3.    Perfect what you do
–    Do something DICEE
o    Deep
o    Intelligent – they understand my pain / my problem
o    Complete – the totality of the service you offer
o    Empowering – they make you more creative and productive
o    Elegant – someone has thought about the user interface

4.    Launch
–    Tell a story – a personal one, not a marketing one
–    ‘My girlfriend wanted to sell Pez dispensers online’ – the story behind eBay
–    Plant many seeds
–    The key to bottom up marketing – make them available to everyone
–    Use salient points when you talk about your services
o    Calories vs Miles to burn them off
o    Dollars vs Months of food for a family in Eithiopia
o    Gigabytes vs X thousands of songs on portable player

5.    Overcome resistance
–    Provide social proof of success – the white ear-buds that came with iPods were a visual indicator in the streets
–    Use a dataset to change a mindset
o    Gapminder.org – review of number of children and longer lives across the world
–    Enchant all of the influencers in the family not just the ones with the money, e.g. children.

6.    Make your enchantment endure
–    The Grateful Dead provide a space for people to tape their concerts for free
–    Build an ecosystem of the totality of your service
–    Invoke reciprocation
o    Don’t say ‘you are welcome’ say ‘I know you would do the same for me’
o    Enable people to pay you back in their own way
–    Don’t rely on money (e.g. price offers) – it is not the core of enchantment

7.    Great enchanters are great presenters, so:
–    Customize your introduction
–    Sell your dream
o    iPhone = $188 of parts manufactured in a factory in China, but is more than the sum of its parts
–    10 is the optimum number of slides
–    Delivered in 20 minutes at most
–    A 30 point font size is optimal – so you don’t read your text out to your audience

8.    Use technology
–    Social media is free and ubiquitous so use it
–    Remove the speed bumps for your customers
–    Capta reduces the number of customers
–    Sungevity.com – Uses your home address to mock up installation using satellite imagery
–    Provide added value
o    Information
o    Insights
o    Assistance
–    Example of Alltop.com website – aggregates information by topics
–    ‘Eat like a bird, poop like an elephant’. i.e. take little – give a lot
–    Use a lot of sources and spread the information.

9.    Enchant Up
–    When your boss or partner asks you to do something – drop everything else and do it.
–    Prototype fast
–    Deliver bad news early

10.    Enchant Down
–    Book by Daliel H Pink – Drive
–    Provide a MAP
o    Mastery – if you come and work for me …
o    Autonomy – if you come and work for me …
o    Purpose – if you come and work for me …
–    Empower action
–    ‘Suck it up’ – be a boss who is willing to do the ‘dirty job’

Kawasaki summed up Enchantment as having;
The Quality of Apple – the trustworthiness of Zappos – and the likeability of Richard Branson.

Enchantment-Cover

Another great Inspiring Entrepreneurs with Mothers of Invention

Another fantastic event this evening with a range of inspiring women entrepreneurs and their stories.

Jones_EmmaThe event was chaired with great warmth, energy and humour by Emma Jones  who launched her first business at age 27, and successfully sold it two years later. In 2006 she launched Enterprise Nation as a website to help anyone start and grow a business from home. The company has since expanded to offer online services, publications, events and finance to small businesses across the UK. Emma is also co-founder of StartUp Britain, and currently acting as the campaign’s chief executive.

Sophie_CornishAs co-founder of shopping website notonthehighstreet.com, Sophie Cornish has won many prestigious awards including the ECMOD Direct Commerce Award for the last three consecutive years and the Online Retail Award Prix D’or 2010. They now host over 2,500 businesses on notonthehighstreet selling 40,000 different products.

They came to the British Library Business & IP Centre early on to look at trends in Internet retailing. And worked hard on their business plan to the extent that they new their numbers inside out. Sohpie emphasised that creating a brand is the key challenge for any business.

Her tips were:

  • Own your mistakes
  • There is no silver bullet
  • Hard work is your unique selling point
  • Cash is king

Kamal_BasranFrom helping her parents prepare samosas for the English pub they ran, to setting up her own food business The Authentic Food Company in 1985, Kamal Basran indulged her passion for cooking authentic Indian food and opened a small business supplying local catering establishments with hand-made samosas and other Indian snack food.

Today, the company has over 240 employees and has a turnover of over £31 million. The company are supplying many of the UK’s top hotels, pub chains, restaurants and retail outlets with the range of quality international cuisine.

When Kamal started out in business, she was a full-time teacher, settled in a comfortable lifestyle, married with two children. While out shopping she saw some ready made samosas, but once home discovered they tasted horrible and threw them into the dustbin. This was the trigger for starting her own business. She had no idea how to start, but wonders in retrospect if this is perhaps the best way.

She began making 600 samosas a week, and grew the business to over a million meals a week.

Her tips were:

Number one priority was to organise her children.
Then, learn how to do everything yourself (nothing is too menial).
Finally, don’t listen to other people (especially your parents!)

Her reasons for success were:

  1. Target your market
  2. Grow gradually
  3. People – 25 nationalities
  4. Products – are the best quality
  5. Customers – we love our customers

Rosie_WolfendenRosie Wolfenden and Harriet Vine are the founders of Tatty Devine whose distinctive fashion designs have made them brand leaders. In 2011 they had a boom year, with a £1 million turnover and kick started 2012 with opening a Selfridges pop up shop which launched their new silver label. The two London Tatty Devine boutiques are located in Brick Lane and Covent Garden.

Harriet_VineThey are independently run and design every piece, 99% of the jewellery is made by hand in their workshops (based in London and Kent). Their custom-made jewellery has been worn by everyone from Claudia Schiffer to Jessie J.

They are very proud of producing their own book on How to Make Jewellery.

In the last two years they have started letting others in to their business, such as developing a new website, to enable them to concentrate on the jewellery.

Christina_RichardsonChristina Richardson is founder of The Nurture Network the UK’s first on-demand marketing department for start-ups and entrepreneurial growth businesses. Christina has spent much of her career managing and growing FMCG brands worth in excess of £100 million.

Now she and her blue-chip trained team, work flexibly across multiple businesses – being their marketing expertise, part time or for specific projects – calling in creative specialists from their network as and when they are needed.

Her tips for new businesses:

  1. You need to give yourself the strongest foundations you can. Be distinctly different by playing a different game.
  2. Define your brand by being clear on your ‘onlyness’. Think about who your brand would be if it were a person.
  3. Test your brand out with real people.
  4. Have a vision, but with numbers. Know the future you want to create.

And for existing businesses:

  1. Marketing is everything that touches your consumer.
  2. Always think consumer first. Choose which group will be your most valuable customers. This will inform your marketing chooses.
  3. Plan with the end in mind and be objectives driven.
  4. Use everything you can do to spread your brand
  5. Bootstrap and collaborate

The evening closed with a lively question and answer session followed by some serious networking until closing time.

A refreshing cup of coffee half-way down the piste

I’m off to the Alps in a few weeks time for a bit of ‘piste-bashing’, so this story caught my attention.
Starbucks have opened the world’s first ski-in ski-out coffee shop on the side of a mountain.

Today 10 February 2012, Squaw Valley is officially opening the world’s first ski-in/ski-out Starbucks location.

On the mountain at elevation 8,000 feet, Squaw Valley’s new mountaintop Starbucks boasts spectacular mountain views and the unique ability for guests to keep their skis or board on while they order their Starbucks® beverage of choice.

“We worked closely with the design team at Starbucks to create a one-of-a-kind experience that we know our guests will truly enjoy,” said Andy Wirth, Squaw Valley’s president and CEO. “Nowhere else in the world can skiers and riders enjoy a delicious Starbucks coffee without missing a beat on the slopes.”

Now, you can can me an old stick in the mud, but I think the idea of whizzing down the mountain with a cup of steaming Java in my hand is taking the idea of ‘coffee on the go’ a little bit too far.

The Key Trends for 2012 from Cate Trotter – Insider Trends

logo_insider_trendsI have been covering sessions from  founder and Head of Trends at Insider Trends Cate Trotter for a while now: Insider Trends – The Future of Online Marketing, The growing grey market in the UK and How to become a cutting-edge retailer.

As previously, Cate showed an impressive grasp of the trends that new and existing businesses need to know about, to keep ahead of the competitive curve.

Tonight’s topic proved even more popular than before, requiring a move to a larger room, and an overflow event last-night.

Here are my notes from the event:

Cate started the evening by identifying three headline trends for 2012 of Doom and Gloom, Ubiquitous Digital and Humanness.

Doom and Gloom (aka – the economic recession is killing business opportunities – or is it?)

  • If you only read the papers or watched TV you would think the end is nigh.
  • Unemployment is at a 17 year high in the UK, with over 1 million young people out of work.
  • The UK economy is predicted to grow by 0.2% in 2012 (i.e. no growth to speak of).
  • But…
  • Interest in entrepreneurship is at an all-time high, and barriers to entry are at an all-time low, thanks to technology and the internet, with the likes of Facebook, PayPal and on-demand printing.
  • Slowly we are shifting to become a nation of entrepreneurs.
  • There are plenty of opportunities for person-to-person (P2P) businesses thanks to the likes of Kickstarter and SellAnApp. Or how about MinuteBox which allows you sell your expertise by the minute.
  • Opportunities also exist in the off-line world too, such as ‘cheap and cheerful’ offices for start-ups like The Ugli Campus, or how about opening the first cafe for entrepreneurs.
  • Too many business websites use ‘me too’ branding with stock photography and unclear messages – Cate gave the example of BubbleWebs  as one that ‘shows what it does on the tin’.

BubbleWebs_home_page

Ubiquitous digital (it really is everywhere now)

  • 65% of adult internet users now use a social networking site of some kind.
  • By the summer of 2012 over 50% of Brits will be using a smartphone.
  • So:
  • Cate’s tip no.1 – Mark your location on Google Places to boost traffic to your website.
  • Cate’s tip no.2 – Make sure you website is mobile friendly using 11 Excellent Solutions for Making Your Website Mobile Friendly.
  • Need to think beyond using social media just for marketing and PR – add customer support roles (e.g. Hippo Munchies in India using twitter prompts from customers to re-fill their vending machines).
  • Companies will develop intelligent and selective strategies for social media channels. No more scatter-gun approach to digital marketing.
  • Digital data will give commercial insights. E.g Klout score to measure your online influence.
  • A/B test your website your website using Optimizely to maximise visitors.

Humanness (the importance of trust in a digital commercial world)

  • Ask yourself how is your digital strategy enhancing the lives of your customers?
  • More targeted communications and email lists – less scatter-gun.
  • Google is starting to highlight more human related content, so you need to have people talking about your business in social media.
  • Which means you have to do stuff that people think is worth talking about.
  • Results in a move away from novelty campaigns to real customer value. E.g. Zappos.com have a 24 hour staffed phone line, and up to a year to return products.

Zappos_logo

  • Inspirational brands talk about why they do what they do, not what they do, or how they do it – read Start with why by Simon Sinek or watch him speak at TED.
  • The need to stay human, once you grow beyond a single person business, think of your brand as a personality or celebrity.

2012 is all about being connected – individuals, networks and businesses
Use customer value to cut through the ubiquitous social media noise. Connections through honest communication is key.

Cate ended her talk by encouraging us to go away and start experimenting with some of the ideas covered. We now had 11 months lead on our competitors.

She really wants to hear from us how we a get on, so please get in touch with her at cate@insider-trends.com

Customised Design event at the British Library

Many thanks to my colleague Fran Taylor for this story:

On 7 December we ran an event in partnership with the University of Hertfordshire on customised design, and how designers can create unique, tailored goods for their customers – either at the luxury or mass-produce ends of the market.

It’s a challenging area for businesses. On the one hand it is a way of finding your USP (unique selling point) and potentially being able to charge more for your products. On the other hand it also makes the manufacturing and ordering process much more complicated.

The first speaker was Shaun Borstrock, who has worked with Asprey, Thomas Pink, and the British Luxury Council and he spoke about the luxury end of customisation. He talked about how the luxury market is forecast to grow by 57% over the next five years to £9.4bn. He talked about how a lot of companies often create the impression of offering customised products, but in reality just offer small changes e.g. by adding initials to a designer hand-bag or offering different colour options. He also gave the example of the Prada Lace-up project.

In contrast, Sarah Maynard from SML offers an extremely high end, bespoke service in the luxury transportation market. She has a team of craftsmen who can provide anything from working with a team of chemists to choose a specific colour pigment to a gold-plated gear stick. For her business, customisation is achieved through one-to-one relationships with clients over a longer period of time. Customisation is her USP and her customers are willing to pay a lot of money for the craftsmanship involved.

Our last speaker was jewellery designer Mark Bloomfield from Electrobloom. He is a huge fan of 3D printing and explained how it opens up opportunities for customised design, low-cost manufacturing and experimentation.  Through 3D printing you can produce prototypes quickly and the creative process can be very iterative.  It also reduces the cost and energy required for shipping and manufacturing abroad.

He produces beautiful flower-inspired designs in around 20 different colour and shape combinations. They are made out of nylon (which incidentally is also dishwasher proof).

Electrobloom flower

90 Tiny Tips to Build Your Personal Brand

In the past, Rasheed Ogunlaru (who presents our monthly Your Life, Your Business workshop), has talked about the importance of building your personal brand.

So this list of tips from Alissa Alvarez at Online MBA is welcome.

90 Tiny Tips to Build Your Personal Brand

Personal branding isn’t something you can just sit down and work on for a day and then forget about. Rather, personal branding is built in small pieces, as your day-to-day actions all add up to the brand that is you. That’s exactly why we’ve found so many small tips that can help you build your personal brand, taking things one tiny step at a time. Read on, and we’ll share 90 tips that can help you slowly but steadily build your personal brand.

Finding Your Niche

Personal branding is all about figuring out who you are and how you want to project your image. Use these tips to help identify what you’re really all about.

Consider what makes you different

1.    When determining your niche, you should think about what makes you different from other brands out there.

2.    Identify your primary product

3.    Think about what you have to offer others, whether it’s a service, resource, or special ability.

4.    Find out what your talents are

5.    Consider what your talents are, what you’ve been recognized for and what you’re better at than most people.

6.    Think about how others identify you

7.    Take a look at your brand attributes and confirm that your brand matches what others would say about you.

8.    Do something remarkable

9.    Instead of playing it self and sticking to what you know, do something that’s worthy of taking notice.

10.    Identify your core values

11.    Share what really matters to you in order to identify what your core values are.

12.    Be unique

13.    Don’t feel like you need to copy another person’s brand. Be unique and stand out.

14.    Think about your passions

15.    Identify the things and ideas that you love, and identify your passions.

16.    Ask colleagues and friends to sum up your professional image

17.    Get a true reflection of what you’re all about by asking others to define you.

Creating A Message

Follow these tips to find out how you can share the personal branding message you have created.

1.    Physically make a message

2.    Write a paragraph and tag line that tells your story and emphasizes your speciality and talents.

3.    Share your message

4.    Once you have your message, be sure to actually share it with someone.

5.    Be authentic

6.    Don’t create a message that’s about someone else: be true to yourself.

7.    Control your message

8.    Don’t be too many different things to too many people. Stick to your primary message and focus on that.

9.    Find your target audience

10.    Consider who you really want to be talking to, and use your target audience to define what kind of presence you want to create for your brand.

11.    Know your audience

12.    Think about to whom you’re directing your personal brand, and communicate your messages appropriately.

13.    Be yourself

14.    Let your personality shine through and show the real authentic “you.”

15.    Use the right vocabulary

16.    Communicate with your audience using the right words from the industry so you can show your understanding of what’s going on.

Credibility

1.    Use personal branding to establish yourself as a trusted professional in your industry with the help of these tips.

2.    Be useful

3.    In everything you do, take a moment to consider how you are being useful to others.
4.    Live what you say

5.    Have a trustworthy, transparent, and educated voice to build your credibility.

6.    Be trustworthy

7.    Be careful not to offer anything you can’t provide, and deliver on what you’ve promised.

8.    Believe in your brand

9.    Commit to and invest in the ideas that support your brand.

10.    Create a portfolio of successes

11.    Showcase your past work, get testimonials, and do whatever you can do show off how great you are.

12.    Find and share great content

13.    Create a buzz around your own personal brand by finding great content and sharing them with others.

14.    Create a visual hook

15.    Find a memorable visual hook that people will enjoy and remember you by.

16.    Find out what other leaders are doing right

17.    Find the experts and leaders in your profession, and see what they are doing to promote their brands.

18.    Cultivate a personal style

19.    Select clothing that represents you and makes you stand out from the crowd in an attractive way.

20.    Be a leader

21.    Lead by helping people, and use leadership to grow your influence.

22.    Get featured in the media

23.    Find opportunities to be featured in the media, possibly creating even more opportunities for exposure and credibility.

24.    Show your confidence

25.    Don’t be arrogant, but be sure to project confidence so that others will be comfortable with you.

26.    Contribute to Q&A sections

27.    LinkedIn, eHow, About.com, and lots of forums offer opportunities for sharing your expertise.

28.    Be a speaker

29.    Much more effective than just attending, speaking at events shares the opportunity for showcasing your expertise.

30.    Be consistent

31.    Make sure your resume, LinkedIn, and Facebook are all saying the same thing.

32.    Win awards

33.    First, do work that’s worthy of awards, and be sure to apply for awards in your field. This can bring lots of recognition and credibility to your personal brand.

34.    Take a writing class

35.    The way you write has a major impact on how you are perceived, so take a writing class to make sure you’re getting it right.

36.    Stay on top of trends

37.    Educate yourself and stay on top of newly emerging trends in your industry.

38.    Back everything up with proof

39.    Share objective proof to back up broad statements, using numbers, dates, statistics, and more.

40.    Toot your own horn

41.    Publicize awards, achievements, and anything else that’s remarkable so that people actually know about it.

Efficiency

1.    Keep personal branding from taking over your life with these tips that will help you streamline your efforts.

2.    Interact effectively

3.    Give yourself a time window for interaction so that you don’t spend all day networking and using social media.

4.    Determine where to invest your energy

5.    Building a brand is a major undertaking, and there’s only so much you can do in a day. Think about where you really want to invest your energy in brand building.

6.    Be brief

7.    State your value quickly and in bite sized chunks, or you run the risk of droning on and becoming forgettable.

Online Presence

1.    Maintain an online presence that reflects who you are with the help of these tips.

2.    Own your domain

3.    Register your name or unique URL to project a more professional image.

4.    Have a great website

5.    Your website is still like a virtual lobby, offering a jumping off point for your entire online presence.

6.    Learn about SEO

7.    Search engine optimization might sound a little scary and daunting, but in reality, it’s actually quite easy, as long as you’re creating quality content. Taking the time to do SEO right can make all the difference when making your brand stand out.

8.    Keep your personal and company brand separate

9.    Establish yourself as a person, rather than a company, so that you don’t limit the power of your personal brand. This is especially helpful if you may not be with the company forever.

10.    Be a polite emailer

11.    Check your grammar, etiquette, and writing skills so that you’re communicating like a professional.

12.    Pay attention to your email address

13.    Your email address offers a significant opportunity for building your brand, especially if you use your real name.

14.    Do your best to lock down your name online

15.    Whether you have a common name or an unusual one, put out as much quality content as you can, with your name one it, so that you can better control your online presence.

16.    Find out where you are online

17.    Do a Google search to check in on your online presence to see you you’re doing and if you need to make any changes.

18.    Monitor your online brand

19.    Carefully keep an eye on what is being said about you online, and make corrections as needed.

Networking

1.    Get connected and establish your brand with others by following these tips.

2.    Find relevant people

3.    Seek out the recommendations of colleagues, check out Twitter, and more to find relevant people that you should be connecting with.

4.    Join industry associations

5.    Meet up with people who can help you build your brand and career by joining industry associations.

6.    Be generous with your time

7.    Take time to do charitable work and go beyond the call of duty.

8.    Say yes more often

9.    Accept more invitations and go to more events, finding opportunities and taking advantage of ways to explore and experience.

10.    Have business cards

11.    Even if you don’t have a job, create business cards with your contact information to share with others who want to contact and remember you.

12.    Do your research

13.    Before any networking event, be sure to know who is going and what will be discussed so that you’re well prepared.

14.    Be accessible

15.    Let people know you’re out there, and that they can reach you on a regular basis.

16.    Don’t miss out on events

17.    Attend conferences, seminars, and other events to get out there and shake hands and meet other relevant people.

18.    Ask for testimonials

19.    Ask other people to recommend you for your expertise, and then be sure to publish what they’ve said about you.

20.    Be an active alumni

21.    Make the most of where you went to school by joining the alumni association and taking advantage of networking events.

22.    Show support for others

23.    Be passionate about helping other people when they need it.

24.    Learn how to introduce yourself

25.    Be ready to communicate who you are with others, concisely sharing the answer to “Tell me about yourself.”

26.    Get connected with passionate people

27.    Find other people who live passionately, and get together with them regularly for inspiration.

28.    Take guest blogging opportunities

29.    Extend your reach beyond your immediate network by taking opportunities to guest blog and share your expertise.

30.    Promote others rather than yourself

31.    Instead of spending all your time promoting yourself, take the time to point out what others are doing really well.

Job Hunting

1.    These personal branding tips are especially relevant for job hunters.

2.    Work for free

3.    Your experience is worth its weight in gold, so when it comes to getting a job, any past experience can really pay off, even work you’ve done for free.

4.    Create a value statement

5.    Highlight your values and strengths to get the attention of a hiring manager.

6.    Put your resume online

7.    Add social features, photos, and more to your photo by putting it online.

8.    Quantify your results

9.    Prove your value by showing quantified outcomes.

Social Media

1.    Follow these tips for great ideas in building your personal brand through social media.

2.    Carefully consider which tools you want to use

3.    If you can’t effectively use a social media tool, there’s little point to having it at all. A poorly managed social media presence can be worse than not having one in the first place.

4.    Listen up and stay in the loop

5.    Don’t be one sided: be sure to listen and respond to what others are saying.

6.    Fill out your profile completely

7.    Fill out all of the information fields to promote everything important about yourself.

8.    Go out and find new followers

9.    New followers will find you, but you can build your presence much faster by seeking them out yourself.

10.    Listen first

11.    See what others are saying on social networks, and even set up Google Alerts to listen in on how social networks are working before you get started with them.

12.    Engage and interact

13.    Participate in the back and forth of social media, engaging with others and interacting with content.

14.    Create multiple streams

15.    Be ubiquitous, creating an online presence on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and more, as many as you can reasonably maintain on a regular basis.

16.    Be adaptable

17.    Social media is constantly changing, so always be ready to adapt to new developments with a consistent approach.

18.    Don’t forget videos

19.    Video projects can pay off in a big way and offer a great way to really showcase your brand.

20.    Manage and optimize your social media systems

21.    When creating your social media accounts, set them up so that they can be automatically updated, pushing to your blog, home page, and more.

22.    Stay interesting

23.    Don’t just set up social media and walk away: keep things interesting by writing, sharing videos, photos, and more.

24.    Curate content like it’s fine art

25.    Think carefully about how you share links, news, and resources, curating your content like a museum director might select works for an exhibit.

26.    Use the same profile photo

27.    Make your online presence easily recognizable by using the same profile photo everywhere.

28.    Use a consistent name, too

29.    Build recognition by using the same name in everything you do online, preferably one that is close to your actual name or profession.

30.    Schedule regular posts

31.    Stay on top of your online presence with scheduled tweets and blog posts, so you always have something new to share.

32.    Think before you Tweet

33.    Be careful not to write anything that’s embarrassing or offensive, or anything you wouldn’t get away with in any other professional setting.

34.    Keep everything PG

35.    Be careful not to post anything you wouldn’t want your grandma (or potential employers) to see.

36.    Point to your social media presence elsewhere

37.    Promote your social media presence everywhere, on your website, blog, and even email.

38.    Bring offline relationships online

39.    Ask your “real life” friends if they are on Twitter or Facebook.

40.    Blog your voice on the web

41.    Blogging is a great way to find natural traffic without too much marketing effort.

42.    Don’t give away too much personal information

43.    Be careful not to over-share information or be inflammatory when building your brand.

44.    Make some accounts private

45.    If you feel the need to share things online that aren’t professionally appropriate, be sure to make those accounts private.

 

Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Question Time for Entrepreneurs 2011

GEW_logoTonight as night as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week we held another great Inspiring Entrepreneurs. This time the topic was Question Time for Entrepreneurs, and was a chance to grill our assembled panel of experts.

Emma Bridgewater, Chairman and Founder of Emma Bridgewater Ltd, Vernon W. Hill II, Co-founder and Vice Chairman of Metro Bank, Lara Morgan, Founder of Pacific Direct Group Ltd and Company Shortcuts Ltd and Tim Campbell, Founder of the Bright Ideas Trust.

Jonathan Moules, enterprise correspondent at The Financial Times, was in charge of moderating the team.

Emma BridgewaterEmma Bridgewater admitted her business was more home counties than ‘wild west’.

You will have to go through tough times. So even if you don’t feel strong enough, when it is your company, you feel differently about it.

You will surprised how creative you can be in business when you first start out and have no money.

Having to think about accounts was something unpleasant, but necessary.

Her value add, was to make modern dishwater friendly pottery.

‘We have spent ‘shed loads’ of money trying to protect our designs. I don’t think it is possible to protect them.’ The next new design is the key to success. And your brand.

Vernon W Hill IIVernon W. Hill II managed to extend his five minute introduction into an impassioned 15 minute talk about the amazing success of his banking ventures.

Be aware of the brand hierarchy: Basic brands,
Emotional Brands and Legendary Brands. When you reach the top stage you have fans not customers.

You need a clear business model that differentiates you from the competition. The culture of your company must be unique but matched to your business model. Your business execution must be fanatatical

In the US they gave away 28 million pens, and they were trying to get the number up. They let dogs in on the theory that if you love my dog, you must love me.

Metro Bank have 90 percent customer satisfaction rate, Barlcays has minus 35 percent.

Emotional brands create massive value. Look at the example of Apple who grew from a five percent market share less than 10 years ago.

Are you really emotionally and equipped to go down the entrepreneurial road? Ask yourselves does your product or service add value? What is different about you? Successful entrepreneurs start with the end result, not the process of getting there. In the UK we concentrate too much on the technicalities.

He went through 15 years of the press saying ‘this won’t work’, so having a thick skin is essential.

Ninety percent of people they see looking for investment don’t have a business plan, they just have hope. Not good enough! If you don’t have convincing numbers to raise money you will fail.

‘My problem is dealing with the government every day!’

In the US they were recruiting 6,000 jobs a year, most came from existing staff contacts. If they didn’t smile in the first interview then they were out.

Lara MorganLara Morgan.

The ability to just keep going is vitally important. Jack of all trades and a master of one, where you recruit others to fill in the other roles required.

She worked on her own for two years, morning, noon and night. Her first recruit was a ‘gobby’ hocky player who had the ability, and could be taught the skill required.

Be aware that you can recruit people if you are creative as employers, find out what will lure someone in other than money.

You can actually learn lots of good stuff from books. This is a solution Lara has applied on many occasions.

Understanding finance was a painful part of becoming a successful business. You don’t need to to do the numbers, you do need to understand them.

Finding the right staff, means being utterly rigorous in you recruitment process. Make sure you test skills, because there is a lot of flannel from candidates. Check with your receptionist for their behaviour. Maths, English and culture tests are key. Invest time in this and you will be rewarded.

It took several years to work out what our USP was. It became representing the best products to the best hotels. A key to this was understanding the market place and the competition better than anyone else.

There are very few new ideas, so you just need be aware of how you are different and better.

Tim CampbellTim Campbell

There is a huge value in mentors and advisors. Having a wise head behind you will help solve some of your issues. Having a loyal team with you on your journey will be a key to your success.

Entrepreneurs need to learn to rely on others to deliver the expertise required for the business.

You may need to extend your sales technique to family and friends in order to raise capital for your business. However, business angels are sitting there waiting to find ideas to invest in. There needs to be a better way to bring these two together.

You can’t expect people to invest in your idea if you aren’t prepared to stand by the loan, or put in your own money.

Employing people who don’t have the same passion as you do, is the biggest problem. Managing them out is incredibly difficult. You need to be incredibly clear about what you want from your recruits.

Don’t compete on price, there will always be someone cheaper.

Intellectual protection can be a very costly route to protect something that may not be unique enough. Speed to market is your best protection.

You can learn from other first mover’s mistakes.

The time to pull the plug on his business, was when he realised he could not get the 2,000 outlets needed to reach the minimum size. There is an inner voice you can hear when you go to sleep at night. Listen to it, and to advisers you trust.

There is nothing wrong with a lifestyle business (small scale).

 

Video now live here, Question Time for Entrepreneurs 2011 by BIPCTV’s channel

Question Time for Entrepreneurs 2011

by BIPCTV’s channe

How to revive a brand

On the way home from a recent road trip to Scotland, I made a ‘pit-stop’ at a McDonalds restaurant near Birmingham.

I’m not a regular customer at the ‘golden arches’, so was very surprised to discover a waterless urinal
with a sticker on it saying it saved 100,000 litres of water a year.

urinal

Copyright Sorven Media ltd

This is all part of McDonalds’ efforts to combat the negative press that has built up over the years. In particular the reaction to ‘McLibel’ case and reaction to the 1994 documentary film Super Size Me by Morgan Spurlock.

McDonalds have created a website to allow you to Make up your own mind, which currently contains 24,000 questions and answers:

Your Questions
A dedicated Make Up Your Own Mind team from across McDonald’s is working hard to answer your questions. You can ask whatever you want, and we aim to answer even the toughest question within two weeks in an honest and straight-talking fashion. The ‘Questions & Answers’ can be searched either by keyword or by sub-sections – this should help you find the information you’re looking for.

The website also includes reports from their Quality Scouts.

What is a Quality Scout?
Quality Scouts are members of the general public from around the UK who are curious about McDonald’s business. They are not paid, and have no ties to the company. All they do is take an honest, behind the scenes look at McDonald’s and report back. And they’ll tell you exactly what they hear and see.

I have to say I am impressed by their efforts, but wonder what it will take to change public opinion.

Two examples spring to mind:

Fiat cars of the 1970’s, which became notorious for their rust problems.

In response they built the Tipo in the 1980’s (a car I owned), and gave it a fully galvanised body, giving it better rust protection than almost any other car on the market. However, it took many years for their ‘rust bucket’ reputation to disappear.

A more recent (if fictitious) example is from The Archers radio show where an outbreak of E. coli,  has resulted in regular customers deserting Ambridge Organics, despite having been given the all clear several weeks ago.