Forget Good to Great this is better.

In the highly subjective world in which I live, there is a perfectionist and an opinion on every corner.

In my world I have three threats to getting the job done. I want to talk about one of them because this one in particular transcends my industry and applies to all walks of life.

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Kill your Sacred Cows

I have consulted with many clients. Almost 50% of my time is now focused on consulting with clients face-to-face or over video chat. I really enjoy advising and supporting clients as they look to grow and develop their business and their brand.

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3 ways Snapchat is changing the way you reach your customers.

So for those of you who haven’t heard (where have you been?) Snapchat is a social network which is exploding right now. It’s the place to be.

Snapchat essentially is a video and photo-sharing messaging platform which uses funky filters and overlays. It’s much more than that but this is the simplest explanation. The big brands are on there and so are 100 million other daily users. It’s BIG.

Some of you may think ‘well it’s a young person’s thing’ – You are wrong!

Facebook started with college kids and now one of it’s largest user groups are silver surfers (over 50s). Snapchat may be dominated by a younger audience right now but its audience is maturing every single day.

Social Media innovations tend to change things up. Sometimes good and sometimes bad. Either way, if social media changes the way we expect or do things, we have to adapt.

  • Twitter forced us to learn how to write copy in less than 140 characters.
  • Facebook forced us adapt and put ourselves out into a place where people can like or comment, a place of risk.

But I believe Snapchat, just like Facebook and Twitter will force us all to get sharper and more creative in delivering our message.

So how could Snapchat reshape our world?

TIME: You have 10 seconds

Snapchat gives you 10 seconds to deliver your message. You have to be smart and you have to know your stuff.

We have in the business and marketing world said that you have seconds to impress people or catch their attention. You literally have 10 seconds.

Whether you use Snapchat or not doesn’t matter, what matters is that for at least 100 million people right now and who knows how many in the future, their social media use is guiding their attention span and giving them the decision of what they think good media looks like in a 10-second window.

Snapchat will make your first 10 seconds of eyeballs on your brand the most critical. More than it ever has been.

Some people will decide on whether to even keep you on their list based on the first 10 seconds. There are no second chances.

QUALITY: Production value is changing.

My friends in the television industry are going to hate me for this. Production value is not what is was. Snapchat needs more activity than Facebook which means your frequency and speed of output become critical.

Two things are happening right now, one of them isn’t totally down to Snapchat but it is contributing to it.

First, it used to be that if you wanted to do video content there was a certain production quality which was acceptable. Industry specialists would know the difference between professional and amateur work. Amateur work was frowned upon and mocked.

That doesn’t work anymore. Well, it works for TV, advertising and long form video but not for social videos. It cannot work. It becomes too expensive to produce and it shows up that it is professionally produced. Sure you can do some high-quality stuff for promotional purposes but if you do it for everything it will be hugely expensive and very time-consuming.

If you want to have regular content out there for your audience or customers, you need speed. There is no time for lengthy edits it has to go out. We will all become experts in Live Broadcast and one take video. Big brands can afford a team to do long edits and have days devoted to a week of content. The other 99% of content producers don’t have a big team.

Production quality, the camera and edits are not as important as long as the basics are right. If you can see the video clearly, the audio is right and it looks OK that is all you need.

The second one of these is very different. You can get away with lots in the way you make your content but you cannot get away with infomercial stuff. Your content has to be good. Bad content is worse than bad production quality. Content quality is subjective so know the right audience you are trying to reach as it is the audience who decides what is good content, not you.

This is great news for you, don’t stress about the equipment you need to do video content, a good phone can do it. Focus on great content.

REALLY HONEST: Snapchat is encouraging more authenticity.

One of the trends we are going to see develop more over the next 5 years is a thirst for honesty and authenticity. Over the last 50 years, we have seen a lot of gloss and advertising speak.

It worked for 50 years but now people are more understanding of the way the world works and technology is giving us more and more information.

In the last 10 years, we have seen lots of people be exposed for having a persona online or on TV which is not consistent with real life. Instagram stars looking perfect who have been outed that their pictures have been staged. Guru’s promising success talking from their Rolls Royce only to be outed that it was rented for their shoot.

Authenticity will mean authenticity. I have an aversion to the word authentic because so many people who have used it aren’t.

Snapchat is going to fuel this thirst for reality and authenticity because real life will be on display more and more.

Snapchat may in 20 years be non-existent but I believe that its mark will be made on our culture for generations.

Snapchat is not going away. It’s growing so If you are not on Snapchat I encourage you to sign up. Add me and I’ll show you the wonderful world through a series of 10-second conversations.

Snapchat ID: deanseddoncom

An embarrassing business venture which taught me an important lesson

In my younger years I did catalog sales to supplement my income. I’d just become a Dad and cash was really tight so it seemed like a great way to earn more money in a flexible way. I was young and eager and feeling the weight of providing.  At this point in my life I wanted to make some extra money and tried a few things to see what worked.

In the usual fashion any ‘home based business’ is part of an MLM network. If you sign people up to sell products via catalog you can earn more money. We focused primarily on selling products through the catalog and we were not really interested in signing other people up. I think partially because  I was a bit embarrassed to tell friends I was delivering catalogs in my spare time.

I was connected ‘up-line’ to a very excitable couple who were making thousands every month and passionate about getting us to sign up more catalog sellers. I was very cynical of the MLM part. I saw the couples house and car so I know their portrayed lifestyle was legitimate. They didn’t hide the fact that the vast majority of their income was commission from other people selling ‘down-line’.

Inside catalogs there was good products many of which you would see on a shopping channel today. There was a lot of products including Carrot peelers, Tupperware, and extendable garden hoses. Many of products were good but once purchased we would play with a few times and consign to the rarely used kitchen cupboard.

Part of being in the team, we were invited to monthly network meetings. These meetings were designed to keep everyone motivated and limit the drop out rate. Despite the mental picture I am probably presenting the people we met were all lovely and genuine. At nearly every meeting lead couple would always say ‘just get your books out’. When they said this they meant deliver your catalogs and collect them in, turn them around as fast as you can. If you have 200 catalogs put them out 3 times a week, not just once.

Their philosophy was to play a numbers game, the more people saw the catalog the more likely you were to make a sale. Make the most of the catalogs you had. Using the same catalogs three times in a week to triple your potential for orders. In business we’d call it sweating the asset. What was surprising is that they did practice what the preach, they delivered and collected 600 catalogs per week. They did their catalogs with finesses with their BMW 5 series estate and a branded trolley compared to my battered Renault Clio and a messenger bag.

There little saying has stuck with me. It’s become one of my personal mottoes. To me ‘get your books out’ means don’t just dream about it. Do it. Take action. Do as much as you can with what you have got. Don’t wait for everything to be perfect just ‘get your books’ out.

Circumstances will never be perfect. There will always be a reason to delay, postpone or do it next month, but we all have to act if we want achieve and succeed. In the catalog world a rainy day can be incredibly demotivating, but, if you want to get orders, come rain or shine those books have to go out.

I eventually decided to hang up my catalogs but we did make some semi decent money at the time. If you enjoyed walking, delivering and collecting catalogs each day, you could earn a modest income. The most profitable part of delivering catalogs, which has made me hundreds of thousands of pounds over the last ten years, was the day I heard the couple say “get your books out”.

With great power comes great responsibility

Many years ago, I was working with a client who had grown rapidly through buying other businesses. In the usual M&A fashion it was all financed through debt. Within 2 years the company had grown to a £42m turnover by using £23m of debt. An empire had been built which was impressive by anyone’s standards.

There was impressive news articles, awards and the CEO was often quoted a as leader in the industry. This was just before the banking crisis and it looked like the best days were ahead. Then, one of the larger clients decided to downsize and cut back. Ouch that was painful, but, with a sales force of over 100 people, we were sure, more work would come in. After all, we were one of the biggest companies in our field. We could compete for the big work that smaller companies could not do.

We often look at people who have built massive business empire’s with a degree of envy. People such as Bill Gates and Rupert Murdock and imagine the high-life, private jets, being waited  on hand and foot. It sounds ideal. Unfortunately, that bit is accompanied with the pressure, constantly having to keep the empire functioning and developing.

Just like Captains of ships, Emperor’s go down with their empire. When the Titanic hit the iceberg, the captain was resting. As the ship sunk the Captain had a responsibility to keep the ship afloat for as long as he could. He also went down to the bottom of the Atlantic with it. Emperor’s and Captains are the object of envy but their duties can also be brutal.

The quote “With great power comes great responsibility” is so true.

Coming back to my client, a year into the business empire being built, it took a lot more effort to maintain than it was to build it. With such a big debt to pay back the pressure was on to get the orders, keep the factory busy and get work invoiced quickly. Sometimes we envision we want to build a big business empire we can preside over, but in truth, empire’s need a lot of attention. In the end, the empire was so wieldy and difficult to control, it collapsed, 400 jobs were lost and the emperor disappeared into obscurity.

I too have been guilty of empire building. I wanted freedom, the ability to work when I wanted to, escape the 9-5, but I thought the route was to build a big business – WRONG. I went from a one-man band to a 16 staff operation. I did stop doing the day-to-day work of order processing and being face to face with customers, but inherited a whole new set of tasks, cash-flow management, credit control, work flow management, HR and a million other things.

We can easily deceive ourselves into thinking building big and power mean less responsibility. In reality, the more power, influence the more responsibility you have. So, if you are trying to build a business for an easy life, it’s often easy to keep it smaller, less responsibility, more flexible working times.