To People That Want to be Ace Networkers but Just Can’t Get Started

It has been said that your network determines your net worth.

 

It’s true that LinkedIN has changed the way we connect, but has it made business networking events obsolete? Is it still worth dressing up, polishing off your elevator pitch and heading off to that breakfast/lunch/sporting event when you have so many emails to answer and payments to chase?

It all seems so old fashioned… does it still work? Will it really make a difference to your bottom line or add to your client base? The answer is no, not automatically. Turning up and talking to people will not generate new contracts by default. You need to make it work. Here are a few tips to maximise your networking….

Forget that you are shy/nervous.

Get prepared with a couple of questions that you intend to ask. Others are nervous too. The morale boosting effect of meeting other upbeat entrepreneurs will make it all worth it. Relationships from business networks can be mutually supportive in many ways!

Decide what/who you are looking for.

Before you arrive, figure out what or who you’re looking for at the event. Make it easier for others to refer friends/associates to you. 

Develop your elevator pitch.

Tailor your pitch according to what you are looking to get out of the event. You might be looking for opportunities for helpful partnerships and joint ventures as well as simply looking for new clients.

Listen more than you talk.

Free, valuable advice is on offer – a business network functions as an exchange of information and ideas.

Go regularly.

Remaining visible in your network will mean that you maintain business relationships through regular contact. When an opportunity arises yours will be the first name that comes up.

Stay current.

Use the opportunity to talk to others in your industry, it will help you to keep up with the competition and know what your target market wants. You’ll sharpen your business and personal skills as a result.

Add value.

Go with the attitude that you can refer business for someone else’s benefit and in doing so establish a mutually beneficial relationship.

Recruit to fix problems

A business network offers a rich resource of skills, someone is there who can help you in your areas of business.

Follow up.

Send a quick email or LinkedIn message to let people know you enjoyed your conversation.

One network that has proved invaluable to us as a growing digital branding agency has been Introbiz.

Introbiz is South Wales’ leading professional business network. For the past ten years they have hosted regular networking events across Wales, the UK and internationally ranging from afternoon power groups to breakfasts to socials to ladies’ power lunches and sporting events. This year alone they have scheduled over 10 golf networking events. 

Cre8ion is looking forward to exhibiting (stand no. 118) at the “Introbiz Expo” which is returning for its eighth consecutive year on Thursday, 14th November 2019, at Cardiff City Stadium. The event will welcome over 7,000 visitors and 100 exhibitors, ranging from SMEs to large corporate companies and there will be a networking breakfast opened by Shane Williams, former Welsh rugby union player.

If you want to book a space to exhibit at Introbiz Expo 2019, either call the Introbiz office on 02920 291002 or email [email protected]. Entrance to the expo is free.

No one gets married on their first date, so stop with the DM sales pitch…

No one gets married on the first date, so, in a similar vein, let’s stop with the DM sales pitch…

It happened again. I connected. Cynically, I waited… boom there it was…

My name (unbelievably spelt wrong at times), a brief hello, a list of bullet points, a call to action, a direct message – buy my product… now.

I know your using LinkedIn Sales navigator but selling on a DM after we connect already shows me you’re lost. So I’m calling this out! Stop with the DM LinkedIn Sales Pitch.

We connect on LinkedIn, I’m down with that. All for growing my network.

Then comes a second one… you didn’t buy from me, not even a hello at this point,

but here is my list of services again… wanna buy?

So here it is… stop it. For the sake of your business, your reputation and your credibility just stop and think about it. Social media is about conversation built out of relationship, LinkedIn DM isn’t a silver bullet to winning people over. What it is actually doing is magnifying your inability to relate.

DM’ing the right way is engaging in conversation and seeing how we can help each other.

Yet, thousands of people approach this platform this way and I’m calling it out. Stop it.

You are no different than the person at a networking event handing out business cards who doesn’t go back because they got no business. Same approach to LinkedIn.

I’ve often compared this way of prospecting to relationships.

You don’t get married on date one and even if you think he or she is “the one” proposing on date one is creepy. So why do it with sales?

It’s like we’ve become too lazy to invest in relationships. It shouts of what can you get instead of what can I give. Dr Max Goodwin ‘How can I help?’ Of New Amsterdam Amazon prime show asks the people he works for how he can assist them. He cares.

The best marketing in the world is showing you care! So rather than the hit up, let me show you a good time, why not take some time to actually connect?

I might fit your Sales Navigator profiling… I might sound like a great prospect but being in a network is about what you bring not what you can take.

To win the hand of my fair lady I endured salsa, freezing cold sea water in the surf, invested in a trip where I would pop the question…  actually enjoyed new experiences, and although not a great fan of surf (some of my team love it) it took time.

18 years on, we are on an adventure together, growing a business, building a family and continue to push boundaries in faith, friendships and finances.

When you invest in people for the long haul the gold you discover has more to do with giving than taking.

You see, if we are really serious about building a network it’s going to take time and sadly not everyone takes the time. Any great networkers will tell you the same.

So next time you want to connect, before you ask, think how you might help!

Building a business isn’t easy across two locations, (cre8ion.co.uk), pioneering products that change a landscape (genesisbrands.co.uk) is stretching, walking into rooms full of strangers is uncomfortable, but it’s my journey, I chose it.

Along the way so many people have helped and that’s why I’m connected with them.

I’ve enjoyed a conversation, gained insights, shared experiences and even employed their services but it’s come from meeting (even over Skype, FaceTime, Zoom).

So, please don’t use me, I’m not there yet, I’ve got lots to learn, I make mistakes, I fail but I know a lot about telling stories, taking risks, being uncomfortable, getting misunderstood, enjoying being around winners, teaching others, serving, helping, giving opportunity, maximizing opportunity, juggling, 4 day work week, being a better spouse, and even living a life on purpose.

If you believe any of these insights and connections might help you then let’s talk.

The first rule of social media is that it’s a conversation… so… let’s start again…

How can I help you?

Getting out of the Friend Zone with Email Marketing

Ever been stuck in the ‘Friend Zone’?
The friend zone is a state of unrequited love. You’re attracted to a person who sees you as their BFF and nothing more. It’s a bit frustrating when you think the world of the other person and would really love to pursue a romance but you are prevented from doing so by your poor communication.

The object of your affection, on the other hand, is quite comfortable with the relationship as it stands.

Ever feel like your small business is stuck in the friend zone? Prospective customers might like your posts and even read your blog but are quite happy to remain just that… prospects. They are content to remain on your mailing list and they’ve ignored the unsubscribe button, but will things ever change?

Will you ever get out of the friend zone?

Here’s a word of encouragement…don’t give up! Here’s why email marketing makes the most effective form of love letter…

Email marketing is worth the wait

As a small business, everything boils down to return on investment and how long it takes to get there. According to this year’s Direct Marketing Association’s report on email strategy email has an average ROI of £38 for every £1 spent. Sounds good.

Targeted emails keep it personal

According to the report, emails that are generating the most sales are those that target specific list segments – driving 36% of email marketing revenue. So, in order to ride off into the sunset with the spouse of your dreams, getting to know them and what they like could well be the winning combination. The more you know about your audience, the better you can create a message that resonates. Remember, not all contacts on your email list are the same.

Email marketing gives you the low down

You can analyse the response you are getting and then adjust accordingly. Email marketing reports provide valuable insights into the overall success of your marketing campaigns. You’ll get metrics, not just on clicks and opens, but more useful detail like how long your recipients spend reading your emails, as well as what device they are using. You’ll be able to see what is working.

Email marketing won’t waste your time

You’re a small business, you’re doing your own marketing, you have a million and one other things that need doing. Your marketing methods are going to have to be time efficient. It takes the average user about 30 minutes to complete their first campaign. This includes the time it takes to import contacts, design a template, test it, and hesitate, your heart in your mouth, before pressing send.

Email marketing cements relationships

In order to re-engage previous customers, move new leads through the sales funnel, and cross-sell to current clients, email targets the low hanging fruit – your contact database. When you create email campaigns focused on existing relationships to create a non-invasive method for staying relevant it will pay off.

Still looking for the love of your life? Need a brand marketing agency to fix you up? At Cre8ion we help businesses of all sizes to connect with their customers in the most effective ways. If you need some fresh marketing inspiration we’d love to help you.

Helping Businesses at Every Level…

Starting a business can feel like a long journey and finding the right partners to accompany you can be difficult.

You embark on the journey towards your rosy future surrounded by well wishers. It’s a happy, hopeful time and you feel secure and supported.
As the path starts to rise ahead it passes into the unfamiliar, forbidding world of brand marketing where some marketeers you’ve come across have been more Gollum than Gandalph . Money for nothing and no tips for free can put your company on a cliff edge. You might even have started to feel a bit lost.

So, how do you get through this unknown territory and emerge with a great brand that fits your budget?

First thing you must establish is…What help do you need right now?
Not everyone needs a full brand journey mapped out, particularly if you’re just starting out. Conversely, when you already have an audience, a quick fix isn’t what you want as you’ve got so much more to consider!

Here’s how to address your brand marketing needs and be confident that you are headed in the right direction.

If you are a Start Up.

Do things lean, cheap and fast. If you’ve never built a brand before then use tools that streamline the process. One way to achieve a full brand build is by using such tools as Tailor Brands or LogoJoy. They both give you more control than Fiver and you’ll spend less time managing the process.

At Cre8ion we are rolling out an automated brand building tool that gives you access to our many years of collective experience – www.genesisbrands.co.uk

Genesis Brands will build everything you need to launch within minutes (about 15-25 minutes) and if you don’t like it you can try again, for free. When you’re happy, pay £179.00 and you’ll have cloud access to logos, fonts, e-signatures, social banners, images, full brand guidelines, flyers, pop up stand and stationery!

This will get you started and will last you for a good two years!

If you want to Scale Up.

You’ve done it cheaply once but now, with more complexity, customers, partners and staff you really need a rebrand. You need a process that digs deeper into what you do and then reflects it in your brand. Many agencies will do this through a workshop, getting to know your business by asking difficult questions. It’s tiring but a great place to evaluate where you’ve come from.

It’s important that you involve as many of your key players as possible in the workshop. We had one company bring 28 people in once! At Cre8ion we focus on telling the right story to get the right enquiry. It’s worked hundreds of times and enabled us to set the tone for what’s ahead.

A creative strategy helps frame the findings of our workshop and produces three creative routes to choose from. Don’t let a graphic designer try and push their “pet” design on you for your brand! You need to make the right choice for you. Too many times I’ve seen design agencies say this is THE solution and then get frustrated when their client doesn’t agree. Expect more!

At Cre8ion, once we have the creative strategy we build everything required by your brand narrative manually. From copywriting to Mission, Vision and Values. Essentially, a tool kit for your business, unique to you.
You can then commission websites, emails, social campaigns and press ads.
You’re ready to refresh everything your business uses to communicate. You might even change your offices with big, bold graphics!

This approach and investment should last 3-5 years.

If you are a Grown Up.

This is where you are established, even a household name. Rebranding takes longer, following a similar process to scaling up BUT you need ongoing help. You put aside a regular budget to invest in campaigns from press to video, social to direct mail.

We’ll help you to use CRM solutions to track, monitor and measure results against your activity. We currently use HubSpot for some of our clients and it helps them make educated decisions on their marketing spend.

This type of relationship is based on a retainer agreement. Regular reports and discussions help everyone make informed decisions. It’s in this process that we test and measure, review and execute, staying in tune with customer behaviour.

Digital campaigns, content strategy and building a narrative across multiple channels all take time but when you do catch the moment things will really get interesting!

Recently we made an internal decision to go to a four day work week and write about it on a blog. Having been asked about it we were connected in with The Post (Bristol Newspaper) and are now on BBC Radio. (Listen from 2:06:23). Our website hits have gone through the roof, more connections than ever and opportunities presenting themselves that we could only have dreamed of!

We recommend 6-12 months regular reviews to keep everyone on track and continue for as long as everyone is getting value. Be clear on expectations and work together!

Finding a brand marketing agency you can trust is easier when you’ve been referred by someone. If not, don’t just take a punt, meet them, have a few conversations, get a proposal (see how they present), and make a confident choice.

So now that you have identified where you are on the journey, commit to the necessary action and enjoy the ride, taking your business to the next level both externally and internally.

If you need help now we’ll do our best to help you take steps in the right direction.

Get the Right Results This August

Across the country young people are asking themselves today whether they have made the grade. We salute them for all their hard work and wish them all the very best. For some of us, public exams, results and the like are a vague, unpleasant memory of a summer spent on tenterhooks, waiting for the day of judgment. But now, what opportunities does the month of August offer?

So many people talking about business being slow in August and, yes, with annual holidays the depleted workforce might necessitate a slightly slower pace. For me, however, August remains a month of opportunities. It can be an ideal time to review your marketing communications. Or to forge new business links and strengthen existing relationships… Having a little bit of extra time can be a Godsend.

Here are eight tips for the eighth month of the year.

1. Review your marketing communications.
Lay out your printed materials in front of you and compare them to your website and email signatures and footers. Is everything uniform? Sometimes, the fonts, colours and strap lines that were originally agreed upon get changed over the course of time, leaving you with what is known as “branding drift”. Severe cases can be caused by not having agreed on a standardised version of these brand elements in the first place. Branding drift undermines the professional appearance of your product or service but, the good news is, it’s easily treatable. Great branding is our speciality.

2. Check your website’s capabilities.
Does your website collect your customers’ data? If not, take the time to update it. Whether the data collected is intended for growing your email/marketing lists, nurturing campaigns, client retention or researching current demographics; collecting and storing data is a vital means to knowing and understanding your users.

3. Explore available tools.
Think Google Trends if you haven’t already. For instance, Google Trends lets you see where (country, city, region) a search query is most popular. This can answer a fundamental question: where are your products or services needed most?

4. Make your team look great.
When everyone in your team is back from holiday update the team photos on your website. Most people would like to look relaxed and tanned for the whole year (even if it’s only in their website photo). We are planning on doing this at Cre8ion.

5. Kick back.
Finish work early and take the team out for ice cream sundaes or ..… Knickerbocker Glories….

6. Attend an Expo or a trade event.
Whether you close a new deal on the spot or spend the day playing the long game it will be time well spent. We did it. Take a look at our blog from last week, “Scale up Your Reputation With an Expo”. We went to the Introbiz Expo in Llanelli, South Wales.

7. Use the time to collaborate.
Book a one to one with another business owner who targets a similar audience to you. Find out how you can work together to generate more business for each other.

8. Refer someone else.
Focus on getting some business for someone else, not just for yourself, give something back. Remember, your network determines your net worth!

So go ahead and start September with a straight “A” from your staff, customers and other stakeholders! If you need any help to make the grade please contact us.

Scale Up Your Reputation with an Expo

Last week our marketing team headed to The Scarlets in Llanelli for our second IntroBiz Expo.

It was great and we met some amazing people – big shout out to Jamaican Jill’s (we headed there for food with the charismatic Bernie Davies) and our team had a fantastic day.

Our hosts at the expo, Paul and Tracy Smolinski (IntroBiz), have been doing this journey for 10 years. Paul and Tracy are amazing and made us feel at home when the first year felt like a bit of a step into the unknown. We would wholeheartedly recommend the Introbiz Expo experience. If you are looking to take your startup to your first expo, whatever your business is, here are a few tips:

 

Show up

Expos are not something a business always considers but if you want to meet a whole load of people in a room you’ve not met before it’s an amazing opportunity. You don’t become an expo expert overnight, you need to build it into your yearly budget and commit to more than a once off. Your continued presence will pay dividends.

Stand up

Upgrading a stand from a pop up banner may require some logistical thinking but a moving picture does gather attention. Some of the new style stands look great but nothing attracts like an investment in a TV and some video / PowerPoint to give you moving images!

Level up

Make a choice to speak to people. Have people on your stand that like to engage with people.

If you have to check emails or social from time to time don’t all of you do it at same time. I noticed last week after typing email for 2 minutes we all were typing away with backs to people! Sorry!! It was only 5 minutes but you may have missed a great opportunity. Learn and level up.
We certainly have.

The people who make the effort to attend an expo do so because they are actively looking. When you highlight the positive aspects of your products you can close sales on the spot.

Follow up

Tracy at IntroBiz always says that ‘The fortune is in the follow up’. Taking time to follow up those connections you made straightaway is the key. Rather than opening with a ‘Hello, we do this and that’ rather ask how you can help them! That’s right, commit to giving and you’ll be amazed how traction begins to build.

So if you want to raise your profile this autumn, get dressed up, take a friend as back up, and step up by visiting a few expos. If you’re really brave, start the journey today!

Grow up

We have won business since we’ve done this journey but also started to build some great friendships. Relationships take time and firmer leads will come out of good relationships. Take a professional approach to the expo so that other companies take you seriously. Companies want to form partnerships with competent and reliable operations.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B0yX6P8gxMP/

 

There are many expos out there and you don’t always have to invest thousands. IntroBiz are one such expo that gives exhibitors plenty of opportunity to launch out whatever their business is! You’ll meet a range of businesses from start ups to large corporations responsible for sponsoring some of the events associated with expo.

So if you want to raise your profile this autumn, get dressed up, take a friend as back up, and step up by visiting a few expos. If you’re really brave, start the journey today!

How to Steer Your Flying Carpet..or.. How to Connect With Your Audience

So, I was wondering, “How Do you Steer a Flying Carpet?” The answer? Well, it depends on who you are asking: Here’s what I found on Google…

According to a contributor to a gaming website…
i) To avoid being killed in the game ”Dragon Crown” you must manoeuvre your flying carpet up and down as the first lava rushes at you. (VanguardFate)

According to a creative chap…
ii) In this clip Aviram Carmelo demonstrates how to successfully manoeuvre a flying carpet through the streets of Tel Aviv.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fAFjjs7UTSw

According to a scientific journal…
iii) On January 2, 2019, a team from the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering designed a two-dimensional, shape-changing sheet. It’s roughly the width of a human hair and it flaps autonomously (on its own) in a reactant filled fluid. A real flying carpet steered by chemical reactions!

My point? Well, what you say could mean something different to each person you address. Google uses different algorithms to connect us with information and we too can use different methods to connect better with our audience…

For the best connection remember the three Cs:

Context

Try to give a context that speaks to your audience.
You need to know what kind of message and visual is best for your audience.

When we used to buy nappies for our babies we’d notice the underwear designed to cope with incontinence was in the same section. It was white and unappealing, nappy-like. It seemed to be saying, “Use me when you are bedbound.” Now, this kind of underwear is available in pretty, lace-edged styles. That’s better! The underwear is no longer telling its buyers that they are over the hill. This product has connected cleverly to its audience by putting its message in a better context.

Clarity

Be clear about what value you are trying to add.
Knowing and understanding your target audience gives you the opportunity to focus on their needs. Do you understand your audience’s pain points and do you offer a targeted solution? Well, if you’re not clear on who your target audience is, you might be attracting the wrong group of people. Those who don’t need and won’t buy your product. So why not use Google analytics to find out who is visiting your site?

Credibility

Your track record is what sets you apart. It’s what gives your audience confidence in you and your product or services.
But what if you are a start up and don’t have any customers yet? You can establish credibility in other ways, like by demonstrating team credibility. Bring in an industry leader as an advisor.

When you start to get customers, make sure that you offer them the opportunity to feed back about your great product so that you have testimonials to publish. Your audience wants to know that somebody else that they can relate to is using your product or service successfully.

A flying carpet is a mode of transportation that can quickly or instantaneously carry users to their destination. A bit like using the right kind of messaging to reach the right people. If you need help with steering your flying carpet or with getting your brand messaging right why not contact us?

Live to Work or Work to Live?

Imagine having two Fridays off a month to spend as you pleased and the two remaining Fridays dedicated to a self directed research and development project of your choice? On the same pay as a five day week? Sounds too good to be true? Well, that’s how our working week looks here at Cre8ion. The customary five day week is but a distant memory now.

Why would we do a thing like this? Surely it would have a negative affect on productivity and sales?

It was a risk, certainly, but a risk we were ready to take. We figured that this investment in our people would either result in a better outcome for our digital marketing agency (increased quality of life, creativity and therefore productivity) or it wouldn’t. One thing was for sure though, working a five day week always seemed to result in a lack of time – the vital ingredient for the creative process…and the vital ingredient of life!

The five day working week has its origins in 1908 United States in a New England cotton mill. It was brought in to give Jewish workers a Sabbath – from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. In 1926, Henry Ford began shutting down his automotive factories for all of Saturday and Sunday. In 1940 a two-day weekend was adopted throughout the USA and subsequently by many other countries worldwide. (Wikipedia)

According to statistics, British people work some of the longest hours in Europe yet UK productivity lags seriously behind our European neighbours, who tend to work fewer hours. One reason for this might be the toll that British working practices have taken on the nation’s health. More than half a million workers in the UK were signed off with work-related stress or anxiety last year which amounts to 12.5m working days. Burnout is a very real problem.

Companies who have switched to a four-day working week have experienced a 20% rise in productivity, an increase in profits and improved staff wellbeing, with sickness being at an all time low. That extra day to regenerate clearly helps employees to sustain work rate from Monday to Thursday.

And how has it worked for us at Cre8ion? Well, the overarching feeling is that the extra days off are prioritising leisure time spent with our families and as such add value to us as employees.

Darrell, CEO of Cre8ion – “As a company we are always committed to doing things differently and the decision to implement a four day work week has ensured a better work life balance. Our team has also been given the time and headspace to be creative. It has been proven that giving creative teams time to invest in themselves through research or (dare I say it) to just have fun, fuels that creative process. We’ve all heard the adage “work smarter not harder”. Over the last month we have delivered more projects than ever and made more sales. Long may it continue!

We have noticed that the working week has become more efficient. The Monday staff meeting is stricter in focus, more purposeful and shorter. Goals we set for ourselves have become clearer and more measurable. We manage to achieve a higher output than before. There have been times where we have needed to sacrifice R and D Friday to complete work projects to deadline but only on a handful of occasions.

Maybe your company could benefit from a reduced working week? We think that it is certainly a risk worth taking as we have experienced an increase in output and creativity.

If you need any help with digital marketing please do not hesitate to contact us .

Using Your Brand To Recruit The Best

Branding yourself well will help you as a start up, causing customers to choose your product and services over the competition. Did you know that presenting a strong, coherent brand will also improve your reputation as an employer? It will even help you to recruit and retain the right talent.

It’s not only customers who consider a company’s reputation before buying. When making a decision on where to apply for a job, job seekers will consider the reputation of a company as an employer.

To Retain

The image that your brand portrays should reflect how things are done within the company too. It shows your mission, vision and the values you instil and therefore suggests the kind of culture you have internally.

You will build your employees’ confidence by offering an environment where the same positive values are evident in the internal operations as well as the external image.

If management projects brand values to customers that are not reflected in how employees are treated then employees are not likely to believe in the brand themselves. They might also lose respect for an employer and would be less likely to give their best or stay and be a benefit to the company.

Imagine a company whose brand promised the customer the most up to date, technologically advanced product. Only, behind the scenes, little investment was being made to offer employees opportunities to learn new skills and advance their knowledge. If there were no growth opportunities or training potential to develop new skills, why would someone with high skill levels choose to stay or even come in the first place?

People respond to integrity so a brand needs to be a true reflection of everything a company does. This can then be promoted very effectively using social media and your website.

To Recruit

Your brand provides information to people who might consider coming to work for you. So, having established brand integrity, inside and out, you can start to leverage employees as brand advocates. If your company is doing great things, current employees are more willing to share their excitement online. Posting video testimonials in the careers section of your website from your employees about what a great time they are having will attract potential candidates.

Social media has made it easier for job applicants to find information and could be the primary tool a job seeker would use for research. Make it easier for them to find your company by posting blogs, photos and videos about company events, culture, employee highlights and benefits.

If you want to develop great branding identity to help you find the best talent we would love to help you.