So I started a YouTube Channel!

So I started a YouTube Channel!

My first four YouTube Videos are live and I’m loving the feedback I’ve had already – its quite humbling and suggests that its certainly worth persisting with. To bring you upto speed you can check out my channel here: https://www.youtube.com/c/alastairbanks

For ease though, here are the first four videos – please forward on to students with an interest in personal brand or development, business owners and entrepreneurial friends, I will hugely appreciate it as it’s not easy creating content for a small following – you do question if its worthwhile.

My first video was about procrastination:

My second was about the most influential business book Ive ever read:

The third was all about Goal Setting:

And the fourth was about change and how important it is if you want to grow:

Please make sure you subscribe to the channel so you don’t miss anything. I’ll do my very best to make the content as useful as possible.

Thanks again

Al – @banksy6

Eight things that changed my life in 2015

Eight things that changed my life in 2015

Yes folks, its that time of year again. The round up post you’ve all been waiting for 😉

Don’t forget that if you’re interested in my posts from the last few years, you can find them here: ’09, ’10, ’11, ’12, ’13,’14

2015 – Its been a big one! Featured here are my first child, an offline tool that’s changed my life and a diet that’s had a dramatic impact on how I’ve felt after 10 years of putting up with stomach pain. All that alongside a few less serious, but still important ones.

1). Coming in at Number 1 there is only one place to have him – it’s Oscar, my first child. There is no doubt about it, having your first child changes you. For the first time in your life someone is completely reliant on you and that re-focuses you. I’ve spent the last 15 years putting everything into my work and while I still have a passion for that, it will sit alongside the newest love of my life – Oscar. I’ve also found a new respect for my wife Lizz who is quite literally the best Mum ever…just incredible.

2). About ten years ago I started to suffer with IBS, one of those hard to diagnose problems that the doctors don’t really do much about or give you much advice on. After hospital inspections and private consultancies which showed up/gave me nothing, I just had to live with it. When Oscar was born I was in so much pain some nights that I couldn’t do his bedtime and that made me realise that something had to change. I persisted with the doctors and found a diet out of Australia called FODMAP. A university there have tested hundreds of food groups against four main triggers and rated them on an app and in a book. The diet has changed my life. After about 6 months of doing it, I’d say that I’m about 75% better than I was and I intend to continue living and coping with this using management of my diet. If you’re an IBS sufferer then you should definitely check it out. I’ve created a Pinterest board to help people find their feet with the diet as its a bit of a minefield of info out there.

3). The passion planner (I know what you’re thinking but don’t worry, I’m not going there) started off as a Kickstarter project. The ultimate organisation tool. It combines goal setting, diary management, reflection time and to-do lists all in one lovely leather bound book you’d be proud to take to any meeting. People know me as the owner of a digital agency and many are poking fun at the fact that despite the plethora of on-line tools (most of which I feel like I’ve tried) I’ve reverted to good old pen and paper. The fact is there is something very real about planning out your week and crossing things off as you complete them which you just don’t get on-line. You have to get these from America but I guarantee you its worth it.

4). Slack. Used by NASA for collaboration and teamwork we’ve rolled this out internally at Optix for our digital marketing team and a group of Sack Savvy clients. Slack’s strap line is ‘Be Less Busy’ which if anyone disagrees with then I’d suggest you’re reading the wrong blog. We share information, useful links and sometimes just shoot the breeze on this channel. Its closed unlike the big social media sites but that works well and if you want to strengthen comms in your organisation you should check out this app today.

5). Whatsapp Web. Did you know you can use WhatsApp from a browser window, opening up the use of this tool to desktop and laptops not just mobile? Well if you’re old skool like me and still use one of these antiquated computer things then maybe you should just get yourself over there to use the web interface. Simply have your phone app open and scan the QR code on the screen and it will link your computer to your phone. Game changer. Genius.

6). My Apple Watch. Ok so it’s questionable as to whether its really changed my life or not. Most days I forget to charge it but when I do remember and wear it I find myself checking my tweets, messages and email with a little smile on my face. These notifications definitely mean I check my phone less which can only be a good thing right? Would I pay the same again for it? Probably not but I’m glad I have it and its certainly a talking point.

7). My Northface Jacket. Yes its one of those weird ribbed jackets people are wearing everywhere. I saw people turning themselves into the Michelin man and couldn’t get my head round it for a year or so….until I tried one. The one I went for is a particularly fetching bright orange one. You can tell I’m an introvert right 😉 So although I might stand out like a sore thumb I’ll be a particularly warm one and I’m unlikely to get lost in the fog. My other reason for getting one was to ensure that I look as stylish as possible on the slopes this year (although my Dad and skiing partner may disagree with that statement)! If you didn’t know, I also run a skiing blog over at http://www.firstlift.co.uk

8). Insights. I’ve always said that if I wasn’t running a digital agency (and I didn’t make it as a ski instructor) that my second favourite job would be something to do with psychology and in particular psychometric profiling. I find it absolutely fascinating. This year we profiled the whole company using the Insights model. A local practitioner, Jack Russell ran a session with us after we’d been profiled and what’s happened since is quite amazing. A common language, a deeper understanding of oneself and others and better communication all round. We’ve enjoyed it so much that my wife and I are in the process of setting up a new business and partnering with Jack so we can share the excitement and success we’ve had at Optix with others. If you’re interested in learning more about what happened with the profiling at Optix, check out the post I wrote here.

So there we go, eight things that changed my life this year, its been big, its been fun and hopefully next year will be just as exciting.

How was your year? Have you taken the time to reflect on it and write down the things that mattered to you?

How to Position Yourself as a Thought Leader Using Social Media

How to Position Yourself as a Thought Leader Using Social Media

Social media used to be optional and strictly personal.  It used to even show generational preference and was something that adolescents and young adults messed around with.  Radical changes have made social media a vital factor for businesses and professionals looking to succeed.   New vocabulary has also come along with this new use of social media – and one of these is “Thought Leader.” Thought leaders are individuals who have captured the attention not only of industries at networking events and conferences, but also of social networks, leading the way in what people should read, do, think, buy, consider and talk about with their friends.  To make it as a thought leader, social media can be an excellent tool used to up your image and popularity.  Below are some tips to help you get started on the do’s and don’ts of using social media to position yourself as a successful thought leader:

Do…

Pick platforms with care – With many social media options coming out and new ones cropping up, be sure you pick ones that are popular among the audience you are looking to reach.  Remember that many social media platforms are a flash in the pan.  Before you sign up for the latest new thing, see if it will be around enough to bother with. 

Listen – Read up on others who promote similar ideas, find new important and relevant information to your industry or cause.  Then share it.  To gain credibility and interest, you must show that you know what leading experts are saying and what the studies show.

Start conversations – Begin new lines of thought for your area of interest by asking good questions and initiating new interpretations or explanations.  Ask for other’s input.

Provide useful information – Make what you post useful and relevant.   You can start by answering questions that people often ask you.  Provide links to your research and blogs that elaborate and provide longer answers to these questions.  Depending on your focus, you can also post information on how to use your product, or tell your own story of how your research has helped you. 

Don’t…

Abandon your blog – If you have a blog, maintain it.  Nothing shows that you’re not taking care of your audience like a blog that hasn’t been updated in months (I fall foul of this myself quite often).  Also, avoid turning your blog into an advertising platform.  People are tired of seeing ads all day long – a blog should provide useful and relevant information related to your product, but not sell it.

Advertise – Don’t use your social media accounts to post logos, ads and promotional lines.  Social media is about people, idea, even the news.  People will eventually unfriend you on Facebook and stop following you on Twitter if all they see are ads. 

Spend too much time on it – Social media is important, but you need time for other things as well.  If you think you’ll be able to keep up with numerous social media accounts, forget it.  Doing one or two platforms well is better than five with a mediocre standard.  Set time for working on it and let the rest go.

Got other ideas on positioning yourself? Please share, we’d love to hear.

Benefits of using psychometric testing in your team

Benefits of using psychometric testing in your team

We recently paid for the team at Optix to be profiled using a psychometric testing system called ‘Insights’. After collating the results and sharing, we then took them on a half day with a trained Insights professional and motivational coach Jack Russell. To say we’re all buzzing about it would be an understatement.

Why did we do it?

We all communicate and like to be communicated with in different ways. Our preference will be based on something born in us as well as key points in our upbringing. Often the challenges seen in team environments comes down to a lack of understanding of this. So often people will assume a lack of respect/disliking when someone is different to them. Often its no more than a misunderstanding or a clash of personalities.

How does Insights work?

The system is based on a coloured wheel. Starting with Fiery Red in the top right, you move to Sunshine Yellow in the bottom right, Earth Green in the bottom left and Cool Blue in the top left. There are various shades and mixtures of the colours as you go round but for ease lets just talk about these four energies. Those in the right hand quadrants are considered extroverts (red and yellow) while those in the left are more introverted (green and blue). Those in the top are more task focused (Red and Blue) while those in the bottom are more people focused (Yellow and Green). If you fall into the Red category you’re likely to be driven, dominant perhaps demanding and sometimes difficult – when speaking to these guys you better know what you’re talking about, don’t give them any fluff, just get on with it. They hate wasting time. The Yellows, as their colour would suggest are bright and bubbly. They are probably the ones standing in the middle of the room chatting or inspiring others. You want to be spending time getting to know these guys and involving them in the big ideas. Greens are calm and helpful. They are driven by strong belief systems and you don’t want to mess with that. Be slow and steady in your communication, don’t rush them. Finally blues are detailed and very task focused. An eye for getting things done exactly and in a precise manner is what drives them. When communicating with them ensure you are precise and have all the facts. 

Why is this important?

We were asked to do an exercise in our groups which involved organising our perfect night out (I’m a sunshine yellow by the way…YAY…according to my colleagues that can also mean ‘annoyingly cringey’ but hey I’m ok with that 😉 The yellows went off bullet pointing a night with laughter, friends, frolicking and drinking, all of which takes place in multiple locations through the evening. The blues went about precisely describing a night out somewhere they have been before (so they knew the consistency) and a pre-booked taxi home. Red and Green were similar distances apart. This was an eye opener for me. Consider this in a work scenario; put these people in an office or team without an understanding of what makes each other tick and its bound to fall over occasionally.

Key Take Aways

Its all well and good understanding Insights, its what you do with it that makes it worthwhile. My immediate takeaways are as follows:

1). You are a mixture of colours. You can’t just pigeon hole someone. This is key when considering the person you’re communicating with because….

2). Its your responsibility to change your communication style to that of your colleagues, not theirs to adapt to yours (although clearly if they do there is perfect harmony!)

3). Working in teams involves skills from all the colours – are you playing to the strengths of those individuals or making them do something they are naturally not good at or where they expend an awful lot of energy doing their best to perform.

I’d highly recommend using the insights profiling in your business – it will change the way you view your colleagues and give you an edge with your communications that lead to a better environment and culture. I’ve not even touched the sides with how it can help your comms with clients – what would that mean to you to have better relationships with them? 

Have you used profiling in your business? How has it changed the way you do things?

photo courtesy of Steve Corey

Generational Management 

Generational Management 

If you’re managing more than a few people, there’s a good chance they might cross generations and guess what, those guys have different needs. I believe strongly that its not up to them to change, its up to you as a leader to adapt and understand those needs so you can get the best from all of them.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you…generational management.

This week I attended a great talk at Exeter University’s Business Leaders Forum. Guest speaker was none other than successful investor and Dragon’s Den’s Deborah Meaden. Her topic of choice was ‘How business might look in twenty years time’ and her number one challenge; generational management. It certainly struck a chord with me.

We currently have three generations in the workplace:

Baby Boomers – Born from ’46 to ‘64
Gen X – ’65 – ‘77
Gen Y – ’78 onwards

The BB’s are and always have been driven by a competitive, work till you drop attitude – it was a thing of the times. Gen X are a little more cautious and strive for greater work-life balance. Then there is Gen Y – these guys like feedback, have a thirst for learning and are driven by technology.

You can bet that some of the BB’s think the younger gen are lazy and tech obsessed while the younger gen think their elders are stubborn and stuck in their ways. A challenge indeed when you want them to work as a team.

If you manage teams which transcend generations its critical you get them talking and understanding each other. The young guys should seek the wisdom and experience of their elders while the older members of the team must open their minds to the fresh new perspectives from their younger counterparts. Sounds easy doesn’t it 😉

Here’s are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way.

Start measuring by results and not by the way people get there. As a leader you’ll need to adapt to the different styles and work methods of these generations. Your younger team members may be driven by working at certain times of the day, perhaps when they feel most productive. They may prefer new locations (yes that coffee shop down the road really can be a legitimate place to work). They are probably working at their desks less and less (this is the mobile generation). Have you adapted the routines and structure you once had? Do you trust your team if you can’t see them at their desk? These are the changes you’ll need to make if you want to succeed with a Gen Y workforce. Interestingly a lot of the time my guys are now working at our clients because we’re adapting not only to generational changes but industry ones too. Todays work climate is about collaboration and teamwork more so than ten years ago. We’ve taken notice and continue to adapt to our client’s and staff’s needs.

Communication is something that gets written about a lot, probably because it easy to empathise with. Gen X and BB’s preferring email and phone calls compared to the more instant messaging of the Gen Y’ers. One thing I did in my own business last year (being that we’re fairly heavily Y biased) is setup a couple of WhatsApp groups, one for the entire company and one for the sales team. The guys share stories, have banter and help each other out everyday and so far I’d say its been a great success. This is mixed with the more traditional email circulars to the business, regular team meetings and one to one reviews and catchups to ensure everyone is catered for.

Another thing I’ve learnt is the thirst for learning that Gen Yer’s have. We’ve subscribed to Lynda.com, an online video training site where you can find out about everything from how to read google analytics to improving your communication skills. We also have a budget set aside for conferences and training and encourage the team to seek out the ones they feel would provide most value and then make a case for being sent on them. How are you investing in your team’s development because if you don’t, you can be sure they will find someone who will?

One final point – make sure everyone has a voice. A leader needs to listen to their people and make strong decisions, calculating the risk and reward at all times. Your BB’s may have been there before and you should seek to use that experience. Your young guns might challenge the norm, help you innovate and take you to places you’ve not been before. Your job is to make the best of the amazing and culturally diverse world we live in so your business can flourish over the next twenty years.

Your Say

Have you had experiences of managing across generations? Positive or Negative, we’re keen to hear so we can all learn.

Do you actually want my business?

Do you actually want my business?

This is in danger of turning into a rant I’m afraid. Sorry about that.

Recently I was in the market for a new car. I’d had my current wheels for about 6 years and although I loved them, they were getting a little old and my priorities had changed. Now it’s about showing my commitment to our growing family (currently a dog and a little one on the way).

Anyway, onto my rant. I don’t know if my expectations are too high but does it sometimes feel like people don’t want your business or purposely make it difficult to do business with them. I work pretty hard in my life. I’m in the office til gone 7pm most nights and occasionally I work the odd Saturday while I get some quiet time. At the rest of the time I’m still digitally connected by email and social media to my clients and our services. I’m not suggesting you should do the same but I’m guessing there will be a few of you out there wired like me so hopefully you’ll empathise.

This way of life makes it difficult to shop conventionally.

I thought I’d do some car shopping at the weekend on a Sunday because Sunday is pretty much like any other day right? Wrong. My wife and I got in the car and took off for the area well known for lots of car dealers in Exeter, excited by the proposition of what we might find. Our spirits were immediately dampened when the first dealer we came across was shut for the day. Unperturbed we drove on thinking there must be a reason for their closure but as we passed one after another main dealer it was clear this was the norm.

Among the closed barriers and dark showrooms, both the main dealers for my local BMW and Land Rover were closed. Interestingly smaller outfits and most local companies in the area were open for business. I was both shocked and disappointed as either one of them could have picked up a sale that day and have now left me with a bitter taste in my mouth regarding their customer service.

We live in a 24 hour world now. The internet has done that for us. Good or bad? I don’t know, but what I do know is that it’s worth working out when your customers need you and making sure they have some way to engage with you at those times, if not, I’m sure there is someone else willing to do so.

6 things that changed my life in 2014

6 things that changed my life in 2014
Yes folks its that time of year again. While I’ve been a little light on posts in 2014 there is one that must be written. This one.

2014 has been an interesting year, one which has seen a lot of change in both my personal life and business dealings. In a year that saw Optix Solutions turn 15 and new ventures being started by my business partner and I (hopefully more on those in years to come) we may just have tried to do a little too much. As you probably know I’m a huge fan of change and believe it completely necessary for success however sometimes it can feel like you’re biting off too much and its important in those moments to take stock, remember what you’ve achieved and maybe even take some time out. So in this post I’m taking a moment to look at what happened this year and how it affected my life.

Don’t forget that if you’re interested in my posts from the last few years, you can find them here: ’09, ’10, ’11, ’12, ’13:

So let’s do the run down then…

1). Baby Banks on the way – Well this absolutely has to be at the top doesn’t it :)

I’ll be a father for the first time in Feb this year (well maybe a little earlier if you look at the size of Lizz!). I’m excited and apprehensive at the same time which is an unusual feeling. With everything in business, things are generally within my control. I can make decisions and live by them but here we’re talking about another life, one which I can only hope to guide without pushing too hard. I’m pretty sure I’ll be a good Dad but there are a few moments when I question if I have the skills and knowledge for what’s going to be the biggest change to my life so far.  I’m sure there will be more about fatherhood on this blog throughout the year so watch this space.

2). Re-Focusing is important however big the decisions

Three years ago our business was split about 75% design and build to 25% digital marketing. Now its almost flipped and that’s been a conscious decision based on goals and a vision we set out a few years ago. Steering a company with 15 people in it is not like a startup where decisions can be made quickly. If you get them wrong in the early days its fairly easy to claw back, with a larger company it takes time and effort and you have to get everyone on board taking into account their own individual drivers (which of course may not be totally aligned with your own vision). This year we’ve pushed harder than ever to adapt to the industry and its been an exciting journey which we are starting to reap the rewards for.

3). Ben Corbally

I hope adding Ben in here means he doesn’t get too much stick from the rest of the team. They aren’t those kind of people so I’m sure they won’t give him too much :) So why did Ben make this list? Ben is a young gun who joined Optix in late 2013 in our Digital Marketing team. He now works alongside me in the client facing part of the business and helps build the digital strategy for some of our newer clients. The reason that he makes the list is that he’s pushed me to think differently this year, to take a new perspective on things which I’ve made fundamental business decisions with. We’ve bought in new services (which has attracted new clients) and pushed ourselves more than I think we would have done without him. Ben you’ve been a delight to work with and I look forward to doing more along side you over the next few years. Exciting times ahead.
You can find Ben over on Twitter: https://twitter.com/bencorbally 

4). Vision for 2020

We re-wrote our vision story for Optix this year and delivered it to the team in September. The statement is our second of this type, the last one being done in 2012 and running out in September of 2015. Its written in the format of a story (from a clients perspective of Optix) and outlines some of the goals that James and I have set for the business. This new vision features everything from turnover figures hitting a million to owning our own building. Better get working then!

5). Finally bringing Project Management to Optix

OK so this is an area I’ll put my hands up and say we hung around too long to sort out. This year we’ve recruited Mr James Cassap, a heavyweight recruit for the business from Cambridge University Press who brings 10 years of project management skills to the business. One well known friend of the company has described the change as likely to look like Optix on steroids. I’m looking forward to seeing that next year. :)

6). Bellroy

Ok so a bit of a light-hearted one to throw in here but hey you need to have a bit of fun don’t you. A man’s wallet is a key item to have around his person. The problem with wallets is they are bulky things. They can affect the shape of nice suits and weigh you down. Bellroy know this too well and have invented a set of wallets which solve this problem. I bought one this year and I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that everytime I use it, its an absolute pleasure and puts a smile on my face.

So there were six of my year-changers. I’m looking forward to 2015 for personal and business reasons and I’ve got a feeling that next years post will have some pretty special points in it.

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year and a prosperous and healthy 2015

Now Your Thoughts
 
  • So what changed your life this year?
  • Who and what made an impact on your 2014?

Not all clients are right for you

Not all clients are right for you

What, people who pay me money aren’t necessarily right for me? Surely not.

One of the hardest lessons I’ve learnt over the years is that our business doesn’t suit everyone and everyone doesn’t suit our business. The problem I have is that as someone who has a fairly high need for approval (I like to be liked), I’m first to jump into situations I feel need saving and while good at this, its not always the right thing to do. 

Customers, clients, people who aren’t right for your business cost you money, time, stress and the opportunity cost of doing better business. The question is can you recognise when to lay your hand down? Can you work out when someone elses pair just made a set on the flop to your pair of Aces? 

So why wouldn’t someone be right for your business? Ultimately it comes down to mis-aligned expectations. Usually these revolve around money, service and process in the business to business world. For example a client who wants everything for nothing is not a good match for us. A client that doesn’t want to work in partnership but wants to dictate the relationship isn’t a good match for us either. Recognising these traits early can save thousands of pounds. 

When you know the attributes of your ‘on-profile’ client type you can seek these people out and attract them to you. For more about Inbound Marketing Persona’s and Inbound Marketing check out this video I did a few months ago. 

In summary then, I’d strongly suggest spending some time thinking about what makes your perfect client and building your inbound personas. If difficult situations arise and you need to make tough calls for your business you’ll be armed with facts on whether someone is worth fighting for or not. 

While its hard to turn away business and especially hard to put business down that’s already been won, when it turns sour, sometimes its the right thing to do for all parties. 

Now Your Thoughts

  • Have you been in a position where you’ve said no to business or where you’ve stopped working with someone who wasn’t right for you? 
  • Have you worked on your Inbound Marketing Personas? Do you know who your ideal client is? 

Image courtesy of: https://www.flickr.com/photos/julierohloff/ 

When the chips are down…

When the chips are down…

Yesterday I said my final goodbyes to one of my closest friends, Pete Pope. Pete was only 38 and was taken from us far too early. He was an inspirational guy and one that we can all learn from. If his short life can inspire just one or two people to take action and change the way they perceive life when the chips are down then he would be very happy.

Pete had a horrendous medical history.

Among many other ailments, he suffered from Cancer twice and in his early 20’s had a stroke which almost left him completely paralysed. He lost the ability to use one arm.

He then went on to suffer Kidney failure, which got worse and worse as he struggled to find a donor. At one point I remember him saying his body was only able to use around 5% of that of a healthy human’s kidneys.

Earlier this year he was on dialysis 4-5 times a week for hours and hours at a time. It really got him down. After a couple of false starts with potential donors, they finally found one later in the year and the opp to put it in was successful. He was happier than I’d ever seen him. Then, just three weeks ago the kidney rejected so he had to go back into hospital. That was the day that he didn’t turn up and was found on his own at his house, having had a severe brain haemorrhage. He later passed away with his friends by his bed – Although tragic I was lucky enough to be one of those friends.

Pete was a warm hearted person who often turned up at my wife and I’s house for a cup of tea. He always had time to talk through the challenges we faced and offer his advice. He was genuinely concerned when we had a few health issues ourselves earlier this year, helping us wherever he could. He never once belittled our shared problems, so admirable considering what he was going through himself. I never heard him complain about the cards life had dealt him. He never looked for sympathy, he just got on with it.

Pete loved golf. He made the England disabled team last year and was looking forward to playing much more next year. He didn’t let the fact he only had one arm hold him back. He learnt to play with his disability and he was bloody good – out drove me most of the time!!!

I tell you this story, partly because it helps me to journal it, but also because I’m hoping we can all take something from this tragic situation. We need to learn that our day to day gripes, our moans about something or someone in the office, perhaps even our own health problems are so insignificant when compared to what this amazing man battled through. Next time I find myself down, I’ll remember Pete and have a quiet little word with myself.

I’m sure that some of you will have a Pete in your life – I hope you do. I’d recommend you reflect on their outlook to life and ask if there is anything you can adopt in your own approach to the daily grind. If we all did this, the world would be a better place.

You were an inspiration to me Pete. Rest in peace my friend.

Inbound Marketing – A few key takeaways from IMUK13

Inbound Marketing – A few key takeaways from IMUK13

Wow – firstly just need to say this is my 100th post! Boom! It makes writing to thin air in the early days seem worthwhile when you hit milestones like this. Thanks to Dave at Optix for pointing this out to me!

So last week I attended Inbound Marketing 2013 in London with my digital marketing team at Optix Solutions. A great day put on by Deeply Digital and Hubspot. The various speakers covered everything from the basic principles of Inbound Marketing (more on that to follow), to how your sales team needs to adapt to an inbound world, to an excellent presentation on conversion rate optimisation by Will Critchlow of Distilled.

As with all these events, they often leave your mind whirring and if you’re not careful you can write down so many things you want to implement, that you don’t end up doing anything. In order that I don’t fall into that trap myself I thought it may be useful to share a few key takeaways with you.

1). Inbound Marketing is more of a philosophy than I’d realised. It all starts with working out your buyer personas (you can have a few). These are not generally demographics but behaviours of your buyers. What makes this persona tick, how do they feel about working with you, what problems do they have that you can solve. The next stage is to create your content plan based on these personas. The next and possibly most technical stage is bringing context into play. Inbound marketers are constantly learning about their users and offering up different experiences online depending on these. A user viewing a website for the first time will see different landing pages than one who has perhaps already downloaded your latest ‘best practice guide’. According to one of the speakers a great example of this was demonstrated by the Wall Street Journal who were able to work out their influencers, lower the pay wall for this group and in turn drive more traffic to their site. True Inbound Marketing at work.

2). Sales (and in fact your entire team) must engage very differently in an inbound world. Brian Halligan, CEO of Hubspot believes that in today’s social world, prospects of B2B companies are anywhere upto 70% down the purchasing funnel before they even pick up the phone to you. They’ve done their research on your company and products. They’ve read reviews, looked at your social media presences and probably looked up your staff. By the time they pick up the phone to call you they’ve made up their mind about the type of company you are so it’s vital your sales team understand this and treat them with the respect they deserve as an informed buyer. This needs to cascade down the entire ‘inbound organisation’ says Brian. Once the sale is made, the whole team need to be consistent in the type of relationship your company has built with them. The message was clear: Sell with integrity, sell with trust, listen more than talk.

3).  My final takeaway was around how much management of staff has changed in the last 40 years and how this impacts anyone who employs a team. Brian showed us this fascinating table of his take on culture change in the last 40 years.

Culture 1973 1993 2013
Mantra Management Leadership Inspiration
Desire Pension Salary Learning
Mentality OCD Anxiety Disorder ADD
Hours 9-5 9-6 Whenever
Workplace 4 walls Openplan Wherever
Tenure Whole Career 6 Years 18 Months

 

 

 

 

 

For people who have lived their lives managing employees from one of the other generations (probably a large proportion of board level directors I’d guess) this leaves an interesting challenge. They must seek to understand their younger workforce and consider the overall makeup of their business if they are to continue getting the most from their team. So what does your staff benefit list look like? Does it impact across the company or just one sub-set of your team? When was the last time you even looked at it? I’m off to look at mine now!

Some great takeaways, some of which I have action points on already. If you can make it to next year’s conference I’d wholeheartedly recommend it.