10 April 2015

Agencies, stop saying the same old s**t (by Lena Robinson, Founder)

One of the reasons I started Kiwi Girl Ltd was that I could see so many agencies failing to do one crucial thing...differentiate themselves. Nuts right, considering that's what they're supposed to be doing for their clients.

I wanted to work with agencies ballsy enough to allow me to shake them up. Where they could be woken from their malaise and start to step up above their competitors

I look around at this overcrowded market place and all I see, apart from a few exceptions, are thousands of agencies saying the same old shit over and over again. And when asked "what makes your agency different?" what I get usually get back is:

"Our people, our creative, our strategy.........blah blah blah" 

Seriously? That's it? Step out of your offices people, it's what pretty much every other agency is saying. So how does that make you different?

Whether you have smart, fun, interesting, caring people or not, whether your creative is out of this world, or your strategies are superior this is NOT going to make you stand out as different. That should be your baseline, a given.

Based on the philosophy of Simon Sinek, 'Start with Why' your story has to be about your 'Why?'. Why your agency exists, what you can do for your client's to help them with their challenges. You need to dig deeper than what you do (discipline) and how you do it (services) and build your story around a genuine philosophy, something you wholeheartedly believe in that will resonate with the types of clients you would love to work with (and would love to work with you). 

Great brands have a story, a reason for being, something that goes beyond what they sell, they pull on your heart strings first and you then use the benefits to simply post rationalise why you like them and why you bought from them. Agency brands are no different - yet they are treated as if they are.

So why do agencies spend so much time explaining what they do and how they do it? Scary isn't it. On the flip side if you do things differently and take the 'Start with Why' approach, it then becomes a lot easier to stand out in a crowded market place and build a brand that attracts the right clients, ones that will partner you rather than hire you as a supplier.

One of the challenges agencies face is that they stand on the wrong side of their brand. What do I mean? They build their brand from the inside out - which on one hand makes sense. But that is why clients often see agencies as cocky, arrogant etc. All they hear is "blah blah blah" because agencies are behaving like that awful date we've all been on where they yap on about themselves for hours (heinous).

What most fail to do is go around to the other side of their brand (or the dating table) and understand what the client (or date) wants to hear, what is important to them. This fundamental failure means they fail to resonate and engage in a language and context that has meaning to a prospective client partner.

So in conclusion. If you are struggling with attracting and winning the types of clients you want to work with, if you're failing to stand out from the crowd, then maybe you need to look at your 'Why' in the articulation of your story and make sure you put your client hat on to ensure you're saying what they want to hear rather than what you want to say.

Happy 'dating' people.

15 May 2014

"To be or not to be..." Why simply 'being' is so powerful

This morning I had the most amazing session with my business coach Russell Saunders from Inchigo (I highly recommend his methods by the way) and I came away with one single thought. Something so simple, yet so powerful that I just had to share it with you. It's the concept of 'simply being'.

For someone like myself, a consummate 'doer' I am always on, always busy, always racing here and there, networking, helping, supporting. Now, that level of energy is fabulous, for the most part. But the affect of all of that 'doing' is that I never get time to think and eventually the creativity tank gets depleted, it all goes a little out of focus and that energy disappears altogether.

As we walked around a sunny Wandsworth Common we started to unlock the simple truth that I am at my most creative and gain the most clarity of thinking when I stop all of that racing around and simply 'be'. Now I know how hard that is for any new business person, business owner or entrepreneur to do. Time is your most precious commodity and we never seem to have enough of the damned stuff. Yet, after my talk with Russell today it was so crystal clear what I had to do. I should, no, not just should, I must make time in my week to simply 'be' and I will need to protect that time with all of my might.

Like you I want to be successful at what I do. I want to have the energy, productivity, inspiration, focus and creativity to help my clients take their business to the next level. There is no better feeling in the world than getting a text from your clients late at night thanking you for changing their business forever, it's fantastic. But, it's now clear that in order to reach that level of success simply 'being' is the way forward.

So, make time in your weekly schedule to just 'be' and protect that time in order remain focused, increase your creativity and attain high levels of clarity. I know I fully intend to.

06 August 2012

Hold on tight to your dreams!

It’s exhilarating working with SME’s, especially when they’re brimming with dreams and possibilities. It’s an inspirational moment in time that I love being a part of. Excited, flushed faces beam with the belief that they’re going to change the world. Unfortunately as time passes, those flushed faces can often turn into stressed, furrowed brows and they appear to have had the stuffing knocked out of them.

After 22 years in business, many of which have been working with SME’s it’s a sight that’s sadly all too familiar. I’ve seen it happen to bosses, friends and even my own parents. Unfortunately the dream disappears and reality kicks you in the bollocks. Staff need to be paid, cash flow needs to be managed, detached bank managers dealt to, marketing planned and executed, new business won, clients serviced and if you are lucky you might even be able to pay yourself. You look back and wonder, “Where the hell did I go wrong?”

Dreams fuelled by passion will only get you so far. Many don’t plan the launch of their business properly and are ill prepared for the challenges a new business can bring.

The good news is that much of the pain and suffering can be avoided and you can live the dream. In the next few weeks I’m going to try and pass on some of the wisdom I’ve gained simply through my own experiences in the hope of keeping your dreams alive. Here are some of the topics I intend to talk about:

1.   It’s all about capital – avoid starting a business without a little bit of a buffer.
2.   Plan for growth – write a strategic growth plan that has clear objectives and actions
3.   Process, process, process – you are never too small to put processes, policies and procedures in place, they can save you a whole lot of pain as you grow
4.   People power – how to recruit the right people and how to keep them
5.   Number crunchers can save you money – hiring a knowledgeable accountant is an investment not a cost
6.   Legal Eagles – why having a good lawyer could save your arse
7.   Not all Bankers are W*****s – building a good relationship with your bank manager can save your bacon
8.   Build a sustainable brand – if you think your brand is your logo then you need to think again
9.   Marketing effectively – if you think ‘I’ve built my website, job done’ think again – but it doesn’t have to be costly or complicated
10. Keep the faith – if your idea is truly phenomenal and you’ve done your due diligence, then don’t let people with their own negative slant on the world get to you

I know it seems like a bit of a tease blog, but I wanted whet your appetite for the blogs to come. Hopefully, this series will go a long way towards ensuring the future of your dreams.

27 April 2012

Defining moments - building your story!

Isaac Newton's defining moment.

When @BernieJMitchell from @Tagtribe asked me speak at the Late Late Breakfast Show on Simon Sinek's TED video 'Start with Why?'  I asked myself "What am I going to talk about? What will be of interest to the audience?" And then a thought started to formulate. 'Why not base it around 'defining moments' and their significance? The viewing of this video was for me a 'defining moment', an instance of 'Aha!' and one that has fundamentally changed my business strategies forever.

It's fascinating learning about peoples 'defining moments', listening to their stories of how their lives were fundamentally changed forever following that moment. I have found that truly interesting people have always had a story to tell and it is through those stories that they have been both memorable and inspirational.

"That's all very nice, but what does that have to do with my business, how is that going to help me put food on the table and gain business success?" I hear you ask?

I believe it's these 'defining moments' that, when utilised effectively, will shape your business/career by providing you with a story that highlights your motivations, helping you build credibility that will differentiate you ensuring loyalty, trust and admiration.

But do we recognise those moments for what they are and do we make the most of their impact in our lives? I intend to tell you my story, how viewing Simon Sinek's video became one of THE 'defining moments' of my career and hopefully you will see how you too can build loyalty, trust and admiration as individuals, as businesses and as brands.

I invite you to join me on 15th May 2012 at the Late LateBreakfast Show, where I will be expanding on this topic along with three other fabulous speakers

  • Julie Hall
  • Filip Matous
  • Phil Szomszo
Go on...register and I'll see you there.


14 February 2011

SME’s – victims of their own success

Over the years I’ve discovered SME’s who’ve become victims of their own success. They might’ve launched a ground breaking innovation, which has proved extremely popular; perhaps they’ve smashed their sales targets. They have been so successful that the business has reached breaking point. They’re awake at 3am worrying about how they’re going to keep all of the plates spinning and they have to be up in 3 hours if they are to have a hope in hell of making a dent in the ‘To Do’ list. Sound familiar?

What’s gone wrong? What’s made them a victim of their own success? Often it’s because they’ve failed Business Basics 101 at an earlier stage. For example, I’ve advised many SME business owners on the importance of organisation and having workable systems in place and do you know what I usually get back as an answer….’We’re too small, we don’t need systems – that’s for bigger companies’. The problem with that approach is that if things do go swimmingly for a few years and growth is off the scale, by the time it is a mess and the business is ready to implode because of a lack of simple, workable systems it’s almost too late.

There are so many basics that fail to be implemented early enough for SME’s. Starting a business without a business plan is nuts. Failing to clearly define your business and marketing objectives is another. And then there is branding. It is NOT just for big companies with big budgets. I cannot emphasise enough the importance of creating the right perception in the minds of your clients, customers and prospects early on; simply having a logo is not enough.

So, when is it early enough to consider such matters? When are you no longer ‘too small to bother with all of that yet’? It is an interesting point to ponder isn’t it?