How Optix Solutions does ‘People to People’

How Optix Solutions does ‘People to People’

Last week I wrote about People 2 People and Personal Branding. A few of you asked how we actually implement this in our businesses so I wanted to highlight this in today’s post – hopefully to give you some food for thought.

I’m going to use Olivier Blanchard’s (The Brand Builder) post on this for the structure of the post (hope you don’t mind Olivier :)) and expand on what we do in our main business – Optix Solutions.

Olivier highlighted 11 points that he felt every P-2-P business should have or at least work towards – let’s take them one at a time:

“1. The P2P business doesn’t hire though job sites or advertising. It hires by inviting candidates already connected to the company through social networks, both online and offline. “

I certainly can’t remember the last time we hired through advertising locally although I have to say that I’m not entirely on OB’s side here for Jobsites but the reason for that will become clear in the next few months. Yes, the old fashioned, faceless jobsite is a dying breed, but I think there might just be room for something new…more on that later :) The last few staff we’ve had at Optix have come through either social networks (or relationships built through social networks) or friends of the people that already work here. How great is that? One of my favourite things about recruiting is when one of the guys that works for me puts forward a friend that ‘really wants to work for Optix’ – that speaks volumes in my opinion.

“2. The P2P business no longer has a Director of Social Media, just like traditional B2B and B2C businesses no longer have a Director of Telephones: Social Media is completely embedded in the organization from an operational standpoint. What does that mean? It means that every department, from HR to Marketing to Product Development to Customer Service to Community Management uses Social Media the way they use any other tools and channels to do their jobs. “

Ok, so maybe we’re not quite big enough to have had an SM director in the first place, but that is probably my hat to be honest (I wear quite a few…and always look dapper ;). We have a number of staff with their own Twitter accounts/Facebook Pages/LinkedIn profiles and actively encourage this. The power in numbers through the business in incredible, all bouncing off each other, looking out for what each other is talking about on SM channels and all working together for the greater good of the company. I actively encourage my clients to consider use of SM in the same way at theirs.

“3. The P2P company doesn’t block FaceBook. The P2P company doesn’t block Twitter. The P2P company doesn’t block LinkedIn.  It doesn’t frown on access to community platforms like Ning. As a matter of fact, the P2P company helps its employees participate in online and offline networks more effectively through training and development instead of trying to insulate them from those “dangerous” online community platforms.”

I think I’ve highlighted this point above as well. Conversations actively go on (on a daily basis between staff about clever ideas for SM channels). We love it.

“4. Within the P2P business, the I.T. department no longer plays the role of cranky gatekeeper when it comes to adopting and deploying digital tools. The I.T. department has morphed into the T.E. department: Technology Enablement. Former I.T. professionals with passive-aggressive tendencies who get in the way of employees using the latest and most effective digital tools no longer have a place in the P2P Business. (Buh-bye. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way back to the ’90s.)”

Probably aimed more at the larger corporate here but once again, IT enablement is what it’s all about. I can’t understand those companies that block Facebook/Twitter etc on their networks – do they not realise that most of this SM stuff happens in the mobile space these days and they can’t block that?

“5. P2P Brand Managers are among the most sophisticated business strategists on the planet. No longer do they mostly be concerned with push messaging, self-serving marketing communications, trade dress and the ever ubiquitous logo redesigns. Their skillset has now exploded to meet the needs of an increasingly complex organization and marketplace.

  • They are now fluent in the four precepts of effective P2P program ownership: Development, integration, management (where monitoring lives) and measurement.
  • They are personally involved and invested in the communities that support and align themselves with the brand(s) they manage.
  • They are now equally involved in every step of the product lifecycle process, from ideation, design, development, manufacturing, testing, launch, and management.
  • They spend at least as much time in the world as they do inside the bubble of their corporate office, because they realize that is where their brand and products actually live.
  • Brand Managers are now mobile. They are cultural anthropologists as much as they are business managers. They look to free themselves from the corporate cocoon as much as possible to keep their perspective fresh and their insights untainted.
  • Brand Managers have become socio-cultural designers. Think about that for a minute and then think about it some more. This is key.”

We’re obviously in the slightly unique situation of working with brand strategists at other companies and so need to practice what we preach. We work with them to make sure the 4 P’s are ingrained in the strategy (In fact, we’ve worked with Olivier and Scott Gould at Likeminds to make sure our strategy offering is effective – we try where possible to practice what we preach)

“6. The P2P business understands how to smoothly blend campaigns with its daily mix of activities. Though it is naive to think that there is no longer a division between PR, Advertising, email marketing, web “marketing”, mobile marketing, customer support and community engagement, these roles and the deliverables they create work seamlessly together.”

As we’ve grown (From 2 to 13 in the last 6 years), we’ve gone through the silo effect and seen the damage this can cause. Dev not talking to Design, Design not talking to Sales, Sales not talking to anyone apart from their customers….you get the picture! Over the last few years we’ve done our very best to instil a culture of ‘team and family’ into the business. We have regular meetings where everyone thinks about client projects, we now have meetings with clients where everyone involved in the project is part of it so there is buy-in to the project. We’re not perfect yet but we’re working bloody hard to get there. :)

“7. The P2P business only uses corporate speak to make fun of corporate speak – and out of a sense of responsibility: Keeping that dying linguistic tradition alive will serve as a lesson to future generations that the world of gray cubicles, and cretinous business language almost destroyed business in the early 21st century. “

Not even going to expand on this one – The days of Gordon Geckko are no longer here…

“8. Employees of P2P businesses don’t hate their jobs. Why? Because they are empowered by their management team to collaborate with employees and the communities they touch. As a result of being clearly aware of their operational boundaries and because they receive ongoing, multilateral support from their organization, they know how to act professionally when dealing with the public.”

I think I mentioned this one earlier. When you have staff referring their friends to work for you, you’ve nailed it. After all, they wouldn’t be a very good pal if they got their mate into a business that sucked would they! We empower all our staff to ‘amaze clients where possible’ – That line is even in our staff benefits package because we want our staff to know that’s what’s important to us as a business…creating fantastic customer experiences.

“9. The P2P business no longer outsources its customer service. Period.”

We never did and we never will. Period :)

“10. The P2P business partners with like-minds. Put simply, it understands that the partners it aligns itself with say at least as much about its brand(s) as it does on its own. Even when partnerships are meant to be purely strategic or tactical, they signal an alignment of values that the marketplace (the community) is quick to take note of and interpret.”

Partners and Likeminds has been a personal goal of mine for 2010. I’ve spent a lot of time this year building relationships, strategic alliances and partnerships with some influential people and companies. As a business we recognise that the public perception of us is paramount to our success and the more people out there working with us on projects, the better. We started the Optix Inside Circle this year where we invited select partners (for strategic reasons) to a morning session where they could meet each other, network and then hopefully learn something of value for their own client base. The first event was very well attended locally and I’m looking forward to developing these events further this year.

“11. In case it wasn’t obvious: People would sell their grandmother to work there. Not just because the P2P company pays well (it might not) but because it is known to be a fantastic place to work, learn, and build lasting professional and personal relationships. People who work there are happier than most, professionally engaged and fulfilled, consider themselves successful (their definition may differ from yours), and wouldn’t dream of working anywhere else.”

This is certainly the feedback I’ve had from others…no doubt my wonderful team who are reading this will jump on me as soon as they pickup this RSS feed :)

Here’s to P-2-P Olivier – Thanks for your post.

Personal Branding in a ‘P2P’ World

Personal Branding in a ‘P2P’ World

After a couple of very hectic weeks and then a fantastic week’s holiday I need to get back into my regular Friday blog post. I intend to start that again today.

Just before I start, If you were confused by ‘p2p’ in the title it stands for People to People. More on that later.

I want to take a look at something that’s become very important to me recently – personal brand. In my opinion one of the biggest changes in marketing this last year or two (since social media) is the move from business brands to personal brands. There has been a lot of talk about whether you should promote your business through social media channels using a business account, or through personal accounts from staff within the company, or even a combination of the two. I’ve been sitting back studying the trends for quite a while now and have formed my own opinion on this given everything I know and have witnessed through the last year or two. I’m going to use Twitter for this post as it’s probably one of the easiest social media channels to look at.

So if you’re starting up a business or are simply just getting into Social Media how should you create your accounts? I believe there are a few good (not right or wrong) ways of doing this. My view is to research others then adapt these to my own requirements. Here are my recommendations for accounts to look at:

Take a look at the Ford US Twitter account – There is a guy called Scott Monty who heads up social media and under the Ford account, shares the responsibility for tweeting with a number of other staff there. They differentiate the tweets by using the ^ symbol followed by the initials of the staff member there. This has the immediate impact of personalising the brand. The bio clearly defines who does what so when communicating with them you feel like there is a personal touch (shown below):

“·  Bio Drive One. This account is run by @ScottMonty (^SM) & @GwenPeake (^GP), Digital Communications, @JWard35 (^JW) @MSchirmerFord (^MHS), Product Communications”

ASOS the famous online clothing retailer take this a step further and encourage staff members to have their own accounts, preceded with ASOS_ – They appear to then build their own networks while subtly promoting ASOS if there is the opportunity (but not shoving things down people’s throats). This is another great way of spreading a brand message using a personal touch.

Dell Outlet use Twitter for coupons and promo codes for their outlet store. They were famously one of the first major brands to come out in public with a true social media ROI. They have other accounts for customer service and engaging users although interestingly they appear to now be engaging much more on this Outlet account (maybe someone had a word!). There is speculation over whether a social network should be used for pure sales like this and I certainly wouldn’t advise you try this if you’re in an SME without brand power like Dell, but clearly its working for them so one to watch.

At Optix Solutions we have a number of accounts – The main Optix account is used to promote client websites, site launches and news from the business. It’s definitely been harder to build followers on this account but we do see it as another strand to the businesses marketing mix. We also do our best to show our business personality promoting things like new staff, goals, achievements and events that we put on – like #optixhatday (where all the staff had to wear a hat) and #optixhawaainday (where we dressed in colourful clothing because of the rubbish summer we had). We then encourage our staff to create their own accounts and build their own networks. This is really important as a business because of the power in numbers. The more people we are talking to locally, the more know us, the more likely we are to pick up the opportunity to quote on work as and when it happens. None of these accounts directly sell, they simply build relationships.

Olivier Blanchard (The Brand Builder) wrote a fantastic post on a new classification of business p2p (person to person).

I completely agree with Olivier’s post and am really looking forward to doing business in a new ‘p2p world’ but for these companies to exist and flourish it’s vital that some of the more old school way of thinking is put aside and staff are empowered to concentrate on their personal brands.

Aren Grimshaw of Tonick Media summed this up for me at the recent Likeminds event in Exeter. He said, ‘The simple way of describing the use of social media in businesses is to draw the analogy with the traditional village shop where you walked in and the owner knew your name, what you bought each time and probably asked how your partner and kids were at the same time’. It’s all about personal service and personal connections. Nail this and you’ll nail social media channels like Twitter :)

These maybe basic, but for the starters amongst you here are my ‘Banksy’s top 5 tips’ for working on your personal brand online:

1). Use a picture of your face on social networks – where possible use the same picture across the networks for consistency. Some people like to show themselves doing something they enjoy (like sport) – This is fine if you can see the face too. It’s important to personalise a medium which could be seen as fairly impersonal. Don’t hide behind a silly avatar. I like to recognise who I’m talking too and then when I meet them in real life I know instantly who they are.

2). Be likeable – This goes for all walks of life – on and offline but is so important. Consider what people say about you when you’re not in the room – if you’re not sure or are worried about this, you may just need to think about your attitude a bit and work on it.

3). Be Helpful – Don’t spend all day talking about yourself or trolling other people. No one likes listening to someone else go on about themselves all day or belittling others. Consider what you can do to help your friends, family and colleagues now. Go and do something memorable for them this minute. Give value without expecting anything in return – it’s a philosophy that will stand you in good stead. On social media platforms like Twitter you need to make sure you’re retweeting people, thanking them when they retweet you and point your followers in the direction of information they would find useful.

4). Mix it up – Business and Pleasure – In my opinion it’s much easier to relate to someone if they are a mixture of business and pleasure. It’s far easier to get on with someone if you can uncover things that they like to do outside work and perhaps common interests.

5). Attitude – Ok, so maybe this is covered by some of the points above but it’s just so important to everything you do and how far you’ll go. Do you wake up in the morning full of life, go to work and love what you do? Attitude is catching – make sure you surround yourself with positive people where possible, they will rub off on you and help you succeed. In the same way, negative people will drain you – rid your life of these people.

So if you’re going to be a p2p company as Olivier’s blog sets out, you need to make sure you and all your staff (if you have them) adopt these values early and make sure they are ingrained in the fabric of your organisation.

Bonjour

P.S. We’ve partnered with the forward-thinking team at Like Minds to produce a White Paper on how businesses are (or aren’t!) using Social Media and we would love for you to be a part of it! All you need to do is take a few minutes to fill out the survey here: http://bit.ly/9FUt8W.

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