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.

17 May 2012

Consultants - sifting the wheat from the chaff!

So, your business requires outside advice but the very word 'consultant' sends shivers down your spine and makes you clench your buttocks anticipating a massive bill. I hear you! We've all had those encounters where we’ve looked for any excuse to move away from them. But what do you do when your business requires help? Who do you turn to if not a consultant?

I have to confess, I originally wanted to get on my soap box and write an anti-consultancy blog. Then I thought, "hang on a minute Lena, stop being such a bolshie Kiwi, there are some reputable consultants out there and business owners just need a bit of guidance as to how to separate the good from the bad".

My intention is that this blog post will give you enough information to allow you to separate the wheat from the chaff. Here are just a few things to consider when seeking a new consultant.

  1. MBA's - Be wary of the MBA touting consultant. You wouldn't let a hairdresser loose on your near your coiffure with a pair of scissors if all they had studied was the theory, so why on earth would you let a consultant near your precious business if all they had 'experienced' was achieving an MBA. Don't get me wrong you can have the right experience AND have an MBA, but just be wary of a consultant is experienced in ‘theory’ only.
  2. Jargon – When a consultant is talking to you using a lot of jargon and ‘buzz-words’ then question their ability to work with you on a practical level. You need to be sure that your consultant can speak your language or else you may be left feeling overwhelmed, uninspired and misunderstood. Straight talkers are often a lot easier to work with.
  3. Case Studies – Ask any consultant to provide case studies of what they have achieved for other business owners. Don’t be afraid to question them deeply on the challenge the business owner asked for help with, how they went about working on this challenge with the owner and what the results were. Push as hard as you feel necessary because if they are all theory and talk then a bit of pushing will reveal their weaknesses if there are any.
  4. They've been a usiness owner – Apart from their existing consultancy have they ever owned their own business? If they have then don’t be afraid to ask them what that business was, what challenges they themselves faced and how they overcame those challenges. Even ask what happened to that business i.e. Does it still exist? Was it sold? etc.
  5. Referrals – Always ask for referrals from previous clients. It’s more than reasonable to request phone numbers of satisfied clients who you can ask questions of about what the consultant is like to work with and what they helped that business owner to achieve.

I hope these tips have been helpful and that they assist you in your hunt for one of those rare gems…an experienced, practical, successful consultant, that will actually make a difference to you and your business.

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.