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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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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You got hacked last week

You don’t know about it and why would you – the fact is that studies show over 74% of UK small businesses had a security breach in the last 12 months. The remaining 26% most likely just haven’t discovered the threat yet.

Back in 1991 the Michelangelo virus would infect systems and lay dormant until the birthday of Renaissance artist Michelangelo on March 6th, before erasing a user’s hard drive. It should be no surprise therefore that today’s virus, worms, ransomware or general malware are as smart as they are.

A single piece of malware is most likely sat somewhere on your network today; collecting passwords, copying sensitive data to a server in eastern Europe or perhaps simply waiting for a moment to encrypt your files and resell them to you.

It is perceived by many that big companies are commonly hacked by foreign countries. This is a misconception. The reality of the situation lies in the millions of really smart (and curious) teenagers just looking to figure out systems and networks, how to access, bypass and login for fun. The motivation for these attacks goes beyond making a profit and it would seem that this profile of ‘attacker’ are of the most common variety within the industry today.

Article featured in Insider Magazine October 2016.

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Don’t take advice from me about cars

I know nothing about cars, for many years I’ve been happy with the fact my cars always had a start button. Press the button – engine starts and off we go and until my new car turned up (which I love) – I was doing a thousand miles a week on the road in a nice black BMW, up and down the country seeing clients every day of the week have a peek at this web-site.

You might think that stacking up 50k of miles a year would give me some insight into how these wonderful machines work – but no, not a clue.

To that extent – if I ever offer advice about cars – other than ‘that one looks nice’ – DON’T LISTEN TO ME – I can’t give you much solid advice. The same principal should apply therefore to numerous outlets – my lawyer who really doesn’t understand much about how the internals of a complex piece of software shouldn’t tell me about how I should refactor that bit of code I’ve been working on.

Yet time after time – we see people taking advice from someone who has little to no experience in a subject matter – its infuriating because this is how problems mount up. I recently spoke with a friend who attended an event on how to market your business more effectively on social media. The only problem was the one doing the preaching wasn’t a social media ‘guru’ (more on that another day!) but instead was an ex-accountant who auto-tweets and cross posts all their content from various news stories without any context at all.

Don’t get me wrong – fantastic to see there be 20+ people in the room all paying £100 to be there because Joe down the street said he had a great time in the seminar learning how to tweet more often (and hey it gets retweeted by Sarah the auto retweet stripper account who just wants to meet you as she is single and in your local area!)

If the person on that webinar, that stage, that ebook, whatever it maybe – hasn’t actually accomplished what it is you are there to learn – then why bother?

It is because most of us want to believe in ‘the secret’, there must be a formula, a method, a step by step plan to: build our businesses, increase profits, get more users, be a better leader, gain more followers, etc.

The real secret, is there is no shortcut, there is no ‘follow this ten step plan to success’ – its about hard work, dedication, some degree of luck (although thats not the right word really), timing and DOING THE WORK.

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