Hanging up the Code Club hat

As many people know one of my favourite things to do on a Saturday morning for the last (almost) 3 years was to head into town of an early morning and put in a couple hours worth of work in the office before heading over to Derby Central Library where I would teach a class of children all about coding through the nationwide CodeClub organisation.

It is something that many who know me will recognise as being something I am incredibly passionate about – teaching children and helping shape the next generation of programmers and developers.

In recent months not only did our Code Club receive “Star Club” status, but I was also named as the “East Midlands Code Club Champion” – most likely because I never stopped talking about how valuable activities like Code Club is to young children.

It is with a heavy heart that I must (for now at least) hang up the Code Club hat and walk away from running the weekend classes in Derby – for now the arrival of my son and other personal matters mean that I need to take stock and re-evaluate where my time is being spent.

I’ve enjoyed every moment of running the club and all the children that have come through the various cohorts. I look forward to one day being involved once again but for now – I’m logging off.

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2016 a year in review

After what has been nothing short of an eventful year – I recently posted the below on the business desk East Midlands news website last week when questioned on how 2016 has been.

What has been your highlight of the year?
For me it must be the birth of my son Henry in October, couple that with the transactional completion of getting out of the digital agency space and taking a well-earned break over several months before joining the RDS Global board of directors.

And your lowlight?
Moving away from digital agency world after a decade of hard work and fun to helping that transition work for all involved over to their new home.

How do you think 2016 will be remembered?
The year we lost some of the world’s best known entertainers, the political scene was flipped on its head and of course the year Steve McClaren came back to Derby county.

Hero of the year (business or otherwise)?
Personally – Jessica my far better half who has helped me in countless ways. In the business world however I would say Nottingham based entrepreneur Justin Johnson who in an early 2016 discussion helped to analyse where my attention and focus was at.

And villain?
Too many to name, but tend to reside under a single business address.

What’s your New Year’s Resolution?
Continue to develop and grow personally, professionally with RDS & my other ventures.

Post first appeared on thebusinessdesk.com

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Safe and Sound Group – Fighting CSE

This weekend held at Shuttle Hall is the Safe and Sound Group gala dinner which I shall be attending. I have donated personally to Safe and Sound and through RDS Global – we are a sponsor of the evenings event. 8gbj8luu_400x400

Whilst I could go on about the work they do to fighting child sexual exploitation – I really do encourage you to simply visit the web site, read, donate if you can and support what is truly a wonderful local Derby charity with a big mission.

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Social media isn’t really a job

I’m just going to go out there and say it…..social media is NOT a job, its not even something you should be spending your valuable time on.

Oh and I hear you:

  • “But Sean – what do you know!”
  • “You ran an agency that had social media as a paid service”
  • “My marketing agency/PR person say XYZ”
  • “You clearly haven’t seen the ROI””Why do you use social media at all if your time is so valuable?”
  • “Its part of our marketing / PR strategy / content play {insert BS marketing buzzwords}”

And thats great folks – but the fact of the matter is – social media, which we pretty much called Web 2.0 some 5+ years ago, and before that we just called it ‘the web’ or ‘the internet’ is just that – its just the internet, nothing has really changed.

Or the best one ‘we generated over £150k for our clients in the last 3 years through social media’…..its bullsh*t…no you haven’t….your ‘clients’ made a conscious decision with or without your help to put marketing spending or ‘time’ as we can also refer to it – into an app/website and look for sales leads.

Does that mean at the previous agency I ran where we sold social media as a service between £600 and £6000 a month was wrong of us? Not at all, just as all the other ‘agencies’ will tell you they delivered ROI, so did we. But ROI isn’t the point because no one is calculating that properly at all (trust me – paying your social media agency £500 a month and generating £2000 a month ‘direct’ isn’t ROI).

We had a small social media team at the previous agency – that turned over more money than any dedicated social media company in the local area – because we didn’t just teach businesses how to fish, we did the fishing for them with a temporary licence.

One thing is to teach someone they must do A, B & C on twitter to land business (chances are you won’t by the way) – its 100x more effective to become a part of the clients organisation and act on their behalf – fully integrated with who they are and how they operate. Driving £10k a month of sales through Facebook that can be tracked, reported and then guess what – allowing the client company to bring that fully in house rather than paying you a sum each month to keep that water flowing.

Right now there are too many 18-25yr old ‘digital marketing experts’ who have less than 2 years of experience, because having a Facebook and instagram account does not qualify you as an expert. Too many people writing short form blog posts (~300/400 words) because they read an article from 2015 about how Google loves fresh, short content or they took a course 4 years ago in ‘SEO’ which tells them they should do ‘keyword research’. The world loves a shortcut and too many businesses are relying on these ‘kids’ to make returns they just cannot do.

Unless you have relevant industry experience, time actually doing the work, learning the craft – you cannot pass yourself off as any form of expert. Remember that whole 10,000 hour thing – some of these ‘experts’ haven’t even done 10,000 hours of work in their ‘careers’ yet, not even adding up the hours spent flipping burgers at Mcdonalds before they started their ‘guru’ level of digital marketing 3 months ago!

Social media is NOT a job, social media is just another word we use now for ‘the internet’, your 20k tweets, 400 instagram posts and 6 years of Facebook counts for NOTHING. A real business has a real plan, which involves sales and marketing – ‘twitter’ and the other ‘social’ sites – are just pools of attention, ‘eyeballs’ as we used to refer to them – where your potential customers are spending their time.

Market to those attention pools – but you would be amazed what you can achieve by not paying £25k a year for a ‘social media expert’ or a ‘expert 20yr old digital marketing exec’ – but instead by applying 20% of your marketing budget (cash+time) to these pools and making them work for you, not costing your business every month in time and marketing spend.

I don’t profess to have all the answers, but over ten years in agency world tells me that there are a lot of businesses out there who are on a regular basis paying for an unnecessary service, wasting away valuable funds that their businesses could re-invest elsewhere for a far better return.

 

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