Agile Marketing

Let’s talk about inspiring leadership

Let’s talk about inspiring leadership

Guest blog: Julie Provino, from VeryHR talks about how to be an inspiring leader.

How many of these articles have I come across which constantly strive to make you feel full of energy and motivated about who you are as a leader, company owner or simply as a human being. I’ve personally looked into probably hundreds of different leadership principles, from the work hard play hard 90’s ethos, to the heart centered leadership which is increasing in influence at the moment. Have any of these truly understood and conveyed a definitive rule book around leadership and how to be successful within our organisational cultures? I have yet to see one.

Let’s focus on you

Have all of these principles been enough to truly change who you are or how you act around people?  I, like many others and maybe even yourself have downloaded many apps, subscribed to many tweets, blogs, podcasts, ted talks and magazines to get a constant source of ideas and reminders of what I strive to be each and every day. My bookshelf is groaning from the weight of books which I will read one day, following the latest fads and simply gathering dust, lots of ideas and little action. If you ever do find that definitive book with all the right principles and theories, please let me know.

For me, I have come to a different conclusion in my own mind around leadership and what it involves. In order to define what leadership means to me, I will always start with asking myself about what mark I want to leave on the business world, on my world. I want to be innovative, lead authentically, encourage others to be the best that they possibly can be and constantly push my business to break convention whilst maintaining a work life balance that suits my needs. In my world, this is used to be quickly followed by a “dream on” statement.

So the questions that I started asking myself and that I still ask every day are:

  • “Who am I? “,
  • “What resources are in my hands right now?”,
  • “Who do I want to be?” and
  • “How do I want to leave my mark on the world?”

These are questions that allow me to find the authentic me, the natural leader within me. Not someone else’s expectation of what my leadership should be.

Like many others, I run my own business. I have deadlines, I strive to meet my client’s targets and maintain my own personal goals. I run several diaries at the same time, one for work, one for the family, another for my now non-existent social life. From time to time, I will set some time aside to reflect, plan, and re-organise my life using the questions I have asked above, even then every so often its easy to return to old habits.

And I know I am not the only one? Right? Rings a bell? Does that make me a bad leader or should I say inspirer? Do we not all slip from time to time? As long as it makes us stronger or better it’s a good thing, isn’t it? Because there is no failure, there is only feedback to be the better version of me I strive to be

Where I have come from helps me find my direction

I have found that seeing where I have come from has helped me find my direction and see where I am going. So, who are you really? How have you come to where you are at today? Are you capable of telling your story to others?

Take some time to draw a horizontal line, and start plotting along it your professional career, from how it all began to where you are today, to where you want to be tomorrow and beyond.

Ask yourself those questions “Who Am I?”, “What resources do I have right now?”, “Who do I want to be?”, “What Mark do I want to leave on the world?”

Notice, are there any trends, or people you have met along the way who have had a defining impact on who you are today? Who are they? What was their story? What you experienced in their impact on you is their leadership, the way they inspired you is their influence.

  • Did they feel they were a leader?
  • Did they inspire you without knowing it?
  • Have your defining moments being influenced by someone intentionally leading you or were they just doing what they do?
  • Were they being there authentic selves?

Where are your key achievements and learnings

Looking at your timeline what are your key achievements and learnings, is that not enough to start inspiring others from? Is there going to be a time when you are fully ready or can you inspire now? Why put off what you can already do? I guarantee that today you influenced at least one person without knowing it.

In my role as HR advisor, I see many so called leaders taking on a role: the friendly boss, the democratic leader, the empire builder, the David Brent. Well here’s the breaking news. Like I said before there is no definitive rule book for leadership. Some leadership styles will perform complete lobotomies on people and others will get you running for the hills. What works for one will not always work for everyone.

Understanding who you are and what your story is will bring you closer to being fully authentic and aligned with what you are looking to achieve. Behind your story will be your values and beliefs, what you are seeking to achieve, what your company seeks to achieve is all within you.

What more noble cause to follow than the one that you have set for yourself? Others will be inspired by that. Just think about that for a moment, when you are running from one meeting to the next, picking up voicemails, and creating 30 to do lists, how can things be different for you to inspire others? What can you do in your own leadership that will put you on track to be the leader you want to be? The direction is within you.

My own timeline and asking those questions gave me insight into my own values and beliefs. For me, I value creating win-win-win, situations. A win for me, a win for those I do business with and my team, and a win for the direction I want to travel in. If I do not achieve these three wins then why am I in business in this modern era?

My ethos around leadership is based on this. It is to be “Good, kind and present”, be good in my intention to create these win-win-win situations through my leadership. Be kind in the way I deal with those around me as they are my potential for success, and be Present in the now, because giving my 100% presence to what is before me will give me the 100% presence of those I inspire.

Presence brings with it the energy and ability to innovate, to be flexible, to be creative and to find solutions. Presence also brings the guts to make the tough decisions and the drive to get through and complete any challenge that is set before me. It allows me to foster the right cultural environment to create success allowing everyone to be inspired and authentic in who they are and where they are going.

What is presence? How do you give it? How does it Bring Innovation, flexibility, and creativity? How does mindfulness and presence bring rapport? That is a discussion for another time my friend.

Julie Provino, Founder of VeryHR

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Zoe MerchantLet’s talk about inspiring leadership
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How’s your digital health?

How’s your digital health?

Many B2B companies have yet to embrace digital with quite the same zealous that the B2B industry has. But this seems like a waste. Since there are many opportunities for B2B brands that do harness the digital space, to grow and to drive demand. However, those who do put the power of digital to use are often unable, or unsure how, to quantify the success or the value of the investment.

Digital audit

Digital marketing is vast and ever changing, so, for companies without a mass of resources, keeping up with its evolution can be difficult. It can be a challenge to simply identify the right channels in which you should be involved.

The digital audit is there to assess the health of the business’ current online strategy. It provides you with a quick overview of what you are doing currently, and what the next steps might be to improve your digital presence.

Benchmarking your activity against that of your competitors, using enterprise level analytics tools and against our experience of your market as a whole.

From this initial ‘health check’, recommendations are drawn out to create a short, medium and long-term strategy to move your business forward, and ensure that you make the most out of any digital investment. Crucially, this online plan of action is always aligned with your wider business goals in order to maximise success.

Website

  1. Website performance
  2. SEO – Search Engine Optimisation
  3. PPC – Pay Per Click
  4. Design and content
  5. Engagement

Social media

  1. Optimisation
  2. Engagement
  3. Content

Email marketing

  1. Design
  2. Content
  3. Data
  4. Engagement

Data to drive digital strategy

Reviewing the data that emerges from these main areas will highlight any glaring omissions, and point to any success stories from your current digital strategy.

Employing SWOT analysis to this information will give you a clear set of actions for both short and long term success.

Organic

Assessing the health of your SEO is an important aspect of this process. It is important to ensure that nothing is stopping you from performing well in organic search. You want your website to be optimised for keywords to drive organic traffic.

PPC

Likewise, if you are running PPC campaigns, you need to ensure that they are optimised and delivering the best results for the cost of clicks. If you aren’t running PPC campaigns – should you be?

Responsive Design

Considering the recent changes that have been made to Google Ranking, website responsiveness is now an essential consideration. Google will soon be negatively scoring any sites that are viewed as unresponsive, or not user friendly across devices.

Why is it important?

The digital audit or health check is a short-term engagement that will give you an overview of your online performance and provide you with actionable insights for both a long and short term marketing strategy.

Directing resources towards these activities will offer you an outline of where your business is today, and provide a strong platform from which to drive your business forward in the digital age.

Still not convinced that you could benefit from a digital audit? Have a think about these…

How did Penguin affect your website?
What about Panda?
What’s your industry average bounce rate?

If you want answers to the above, or just to find out more, get in touch.

 

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Sian HeaphyHow’s your digital health?
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Talent marketing – A new approach for modern tech businesses

Talent marketing – A new approach for modern tech businesses

As the economy pick-ups and tech companies all over the country are starting to become busier, their ability to hire top tech talent is having a huge impact on their success. This is because the core strength of a services company lies in the skill set of its team.

The fact is that candidates simply have more choice and hold the upper hand in the “war on talent”. With 58% of UK hiring managers directly experiencing a skills shortage this year, candidates know they are a valuable commodity and are able to be more demanding from potential employers.

Candidates aren’t just looking for a good remuneration package; they are looking for a company that shares their same philosophies and culture, and one that can enrich all aspects of their life.

There are companies who have woken up to this issue and have developed strategies focused on nurturing and harvesting an active talent pool. It’s these innovators that other firms should learn from. Red Badger – a Bright Innovation client – is a company that has set the bar high in this respect. Red Badger is a software development company specialising in open source technology. The skills they need are in high demand so they have adopted a community building approach to help them, not only find good people, but to create brand ambassadors who can promote the brand within the community.

Recruiters have long been talking about active and passive candidates, and developing strategies for attracting the latter, who are ever-elusive and hard to reach.

However, traditional recruitment, by its nature, is reactive and recruitment companies see little benefit in spending the time establishing and nurturing active networks of passive candidates. Instead they use tools like LinkedIn to proactively search for them.

Following the traditional approach means companies must start from scratch every time they need to hire. For modern tech companies this means a lot of needless waste. This is why companies must adopt an alternative, long-term strategy for talent acquisition and retention.

Now for the controversial part… For a long-term and successful talent acquisition and retention plan, companies should forget about measuring short term results. They should instead concentrate on adding value to their community by doing a great job of marketing their brand.

Ironically, not focusing on results can deliver the great results. 

Great marketing, which covers the entire marketing mix, will naturally expand your engaged audience, whilst having the obvious benefit of winning new clients.

Your passive talent audience will see your marketing activities, and, if these activities are compelling and make you stand out from your competitors, candidates will be impressed!

Candidates care about brand. Does your brand resonate with the type of people who you want to work for you? Your brand is crucial, so invest in it.

You only need to look down the list of the Sunday Times Best Companies to work for to see how investing in your brand can translate into a successful talent strategy.

One way to stand out from your competitors, and build a brand that people will get behind, is to give back to your community. In the open source world, for example, there is a rich and exciting culture of giving back and sharing knowledge.

Why not host a regular event where members of the community come into your office to hear the cool stuff you’ve been working on? Are you blogging and using social media effectively to show off your thought leadership and give your valuable insights away for free? This is a chance to showcase your culture and give people a chance to experience your brand – and gain from it.

Develop young talent. Work with local universities, schools and engage with apprenticeship schemes. Not only will you be able to nurture and train young talent in the methodologies and technologies that are important to you, but you will also be helping young people to learn new skills that will benefit you, them and the wider economy.

Bringing young talent into a business can have a great effect on your existing and more experienced staff: they get the chance to pass on skills and knowledge, while the newbies bring in fresh ideas.

There are also great PR and marketing opportunities for companies who have innovative junior hiring programmes.

By creating compelling marketing campaigns, engaging with your community, and nurturing young talent, you are building a brand which will resonate with tech talent.

It’s not easy, but this is a long-term approach which isn’t just going to benefit your business in terms of the talent you can hire.  You will win new customers, help build and shape your community, and help the next generation of talent get their foot in door. There might even be an award up for grabs.

A marketing and community-focused approach to talent attraction can sound daunting, but, with effective planning and delivery, this approach could build a long-term talent pipeline whilst reducing your recruitment costs.

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Zoe MerchantTalent marketing – A new approach for modern tech businesses
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The three pillars of marketing

The three pillars of marketing

My daughter asks me on a fairly regular basis what it is that ‘mummy does’. I don’t think I have ever come up with a satisfactory answer (evidenced by the fact that she keeps asking!). It got me thinking about whether it was possible to boil what we do at Bright as a B2B marketing consultancy into a few words that she would understand, and eventually I came up with this:

We help organisations find people who want to buy from them, work for them or get to know them.

What is it that we do?

Trying to work how you might explain what your organisation does to an eight year old is actually a very worthwhile exercise.

At Bright, we’re all about agile marketing, pace and simplicity, so finding a fast, simple way of explaining what we do is an important part of our own marketing.

It also served another, equally useful, purpose however in that it got me thinking about what it is that organisations want from marketing today and what it is that we do that makes our services valuable.

The three pillars of marketing

For the modern high growth organisation there are three key pillars of marketing that rely on each other, work together and combine to create an effective B2B marketing strategy – demand generation, talent acquisition/retention and brand building.

Demand

The first element of the modern B2B marketing mix is demand. Generating leads for a company’s products and services is what most people think of if you ask them to define what marketing is.

It sounds simple and in some regards it is – find people that want to buy what we sell and convince them to buy it from us. Of course it isn’t that simple, especially not for intangible, complex and expensive products or services.

As well as finding people who might want to buy now, you also have to find people who might want to buy later. And even people who don’t know that they want to buy anything at all but who may decide that they do after they have seen what you sell and how it fixes a problem they are experiencing.

A short-term approach to creating demand creates significant problems. A pipeline that is either too full or too empty; a focus on the tactical rather than the strategic and the problems associated with having to start from scratch every time the pipeline empties.

Generating demand requires consistency and a longer-term view that ensures that you are finding, developing and nurturing a community of interesting people who will drop into your pipeline over time.

It requires the ability to know not only who these people are but what they like and how best to reach them – and a constant stream of activity focused on identifying new people to add to this community.

Talent

The second element of a successful B2B marketing strategy is talent. In the technology industry where we operate, finding good talent is a big problem for many companies.

Talent and demand have a symbiotic relationship. Success in one area will usually mean that focus switches to the other. Companies are constantly trying to balance work and resourcing the right people to ensure they have just the right amount of both.

The problems are being exacerbated by the fact that the old methods of finding and keeping good people no longer work as effectively. Again this is a particular issue in the tech sector where much of the talent is part of a generation who operate almost entirely digitally.

They don’t engage with the media in the same way that they used to; the traditional recruitment consultancies don’t understand their skillsets so they can’t find or place them effectively (and most businesses want to avoid agency fees anyway if they can help it).

Organisations therefore have to look at new ways to find and connect with prospective employees and to build a community that they can draw from when they need to.

Brand and position

As the third pillar of marketing, the word brand means different things to different people. Broadly speaking brand marketing is the activity that you do to build profile and positioning in the market.

Brand work is often the hardest to quantify and notoriously difficult to set effective metrics around but it is an essential part of the marketing programme. Brand sets expectation. Expectation around service, products and ethos. Companies like AppleVirgin and John Lewis are examples of companies that know brand and market position is king.

The hard thing about brand marketing is working out what is valuable and what isn’t.

Marketing consultancies have made millions out of confusion on this and the belief (erroneous belief) that there is no point trying to measure success.

So what is good brand marketing? It is different things to different people but fundamentally it is the communication of who you are not what you sell. More often than not, the reason for failure is that companies don’t know who they are or are trying to be something they are not.

At Bright we believe that these three pillars should be the foundation of every B2B marketing plan.

You can dial each one up or down but the reality is that you have to ensure that they are harmoniously working together.

If you ignore talent to focus on demand, you may win business but how will you retain it? If you focus on demand and ignore brand then you will find it far harder to drive sales because there will be no existing relationship between your company and your target audience. For any one element to be successful, it cannot happen in isolation.

We have a motto at Bright: Demand, Talent, Brand and Growth. If you get the first three right then the fourth follows.

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Zoe MerchantThe three pillars of marketing
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