Category Archives: Marketing

Who are you selling to? One man’s experiences.

What’s your Fuel?

I drive two cars regularly, one an unleaded family wagon and one a diesel hatchback with its routes stretching back to people wagons of old (the less said about that the better, don’t mention the war and all).

Everytime I fill them up I’m fairly fastidious to not mix up the ingredients. For a diesel engine putting unleaded in may not be the end of the world, but the other way another would be a system killing disaster. I’m careful with that. As any good vehicle owner is. I have seen people mess this very basic thing up and for them I wonder how they put their socks on by themselves.

The other day I had a can of red bull and I found myself wondering what the flip (I have a kid now, I can’t curse, well not openly anyway) I was doing. I mean yeah, I was tired, but then I thought about it. Why not just get tea or coffee? Why put that heart palpation causing crap eh, stuff, into my body. I’m careful with my cars, but not myself, that seems sorta stupid really.

Now I’m no Chuck Norris but it seems that since my daughter came along I am way more concerned about what happens to myself. So that’s what got me thinking about that. Realistically an engine is only going to run as smoothly as it can with the right fuel. If you really need proof then fill up with the wrong fuel at the garage the next time you’re in, see how that goes.

So, what does all this mean and what the flip am I, eh, pooping on about? Well I’m going to try something over the next month and the wife will say I’m stealing her ideas. No fast food. No fizzy drinks. No processed meals. Lots of water. Lots of proper home cooking. One coffee a day.

I’m going to see how that goes and I’m going to judge it’s effects by the following areas;

  1. How do I feel?
  2. How do I look?
  3. How much money did I save?

That alone should be a fairly good indication of the effects of giving in to the marketing and buying the red bull.

I invite anyone who reads this to try the same thing and let me know how you get on in the comments below.

Good luck!

Where will you be in 5 years?

This is a question that runs alongside “Tell me your Faults”. Although this one makes a bit more sense. It shows thought and foresight. Have you thought about where you’ll be in 5 years time?

Really though, it’s a rabbit hole of a question, it could go anywhere! It takes on many different connotations as well. Where do you realistically see yourself in 5 years? Where would you like to be in 5 years? If you could be doing anything in 5 years, what would it be? So really, when the question is asked in an interview what are they asking? Do they want the glib response of “busting my ass for you making you more money”? Do they want you to burst out, rip the tie off and exclaim “I’ll be running a bar on a hidden island in Thailand!”. No. No, I don’t think it’s that second one.

So what do you do? Well, sitting back, taking your time and considering your answer is a good start. There’s no universally correct answer to this question. Unfortunately you’ll have to just base it on how the interview is going. Is it a job you could see yourself turning it into a career? If yes, say it. If not, say something you would like to move towards. Whatever you say try and avoid saying “not working here, I’ll move on as quickly as possible actually!”. Unless, ya know, you really don’t want the job, then say that.

The manner in which you answer that question will reflect on the potential investment that the people in front of you are considering placing in your employment. Remember, there are human beings on the other side of the table, so try and be honest without appearing to be insincere or ridiculous.

So, where do you see yourself in 5 years?!

Modern Marketing

Marketing, it has really changed beyond recognition and beyond what it used to be. The theory was that you developed the campaigns, you initiated the roll out of the campaign, you managed it and you accepted the kudos when you compiled the metrics to prove your campaign worked. However, it doesn’t really work like that anymore, does it?

The fact is that your marketing department doesn’t even show up for work, will probably never sit behind a desk in your offices and you probably won’t even pay them a cent. But they are absolutely invaluable to you. Thanks to the ever increasing use of smartphones and tablets in the Irish market they are now more empowered than they have ever been. The truth is that your most influential marketing people are sitting behind their screens and contemplating what value your brand brings to their lives. They are posting on Instagram, twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr and every manner of sharing site. It is now easier than it ever has been for your market to shout about you for all the world to hear. Be careful though, they’re shouting good and bad things!

Marketing used to be the thing which led the customers purchasing decisions, now the customers are taking charge of that experience. It may be time to accept that marketing is no longer in the hands of the companies, but is now in the hands of the consumer. So what is marketing now? It’s getting people talking and getting them to recommend the experience. Surely modern marketing is about getting all your potential and existing consumers to become your brand ambassadors.

The marketing world is going to have to accept that consumers are now leading the experience and are no longer being led by it or even to it. They are listening, but have become numb to the messages from the brands, they are listening to each other. That is empowering and they are realising how empowering. Instead of trusting your word for how delicious your food is they’re checking with their friends or they’re checking what people online are saying.

Modern marketing is now more of a customer care experience than a sales pitch. Unfortunately it’s no longer good enough to simply keep shouting about how good you are. You have got to treat your customer like they are worth their weight in gold, brand gold. They are your message, they are your billboard, they are your radio ad, your TV spot and your social media marketing. Give them a reason to talk and they will talk. Make your brand worth discussing and make it approachable. Most importantly, make it for the people who are going to be involved with it. If your brand can give people a total customer experience then you are already marketing yourself. A simple hello and smile at the door, or however you greet your consumer, will pay more dividends then 1,000 leaflets dropped through letterboxes.

Modern marketing must take in the traditional ethos of the Customer being King, while remembering that they have a mass communication device no more than 30 seconds away from their fingertips. Never before has the ordinary person in the street had such a powerful voice and ability to make or break a brand. Treat the people well, get them talking, make them the brand ambassadors and they’ll even pay you for the pleasure. The power is with the people.

With all that in mind, you need to shake up your brand, your marketing department is talking!

5 Good Things

All too often I concentrate on the negative things. The negative things about myself and the negative things going on around me. I’m going to try something new. I’m going to try and concentrate on some good things about me and good things going on around me.

So here ya go, just what you’ve been waiting for, 5 good things about me:

  1. I am well educated: I get hung up on the education thing. I did not do well in school. However, since then, I did educate myself and I did find the motivation to pull my thumb out of my ass. I have many letters after my name. Among them are MBS. I completed my Masters in Marketing from DCU Business School in 2010. That was an important personal and educational milestone to reach. Especially so considering I had a teacher in school who convinced me I could do no better than a C in ordinary level English in the Leaving Cert, that was a knock to the confidence and a pretty horrible thing for her to say. I got an A1 in the end.
  2. I have jumped (fallen) out of a plane: I did this mostly to see what it was like. I did this four times and loved it each time. It made me believe that I’m either very brave or very stupid, I’m still not sure. I’m glad I had the balls to get into the plane, leave solo, plummet towards the Earth and keep the head. Again, a big milestone.
  3. I have climbed two of the highest peaks: In Ireland, nowhere else, just yet. I know I still have two to go. However, it’s nice to know I can set my sights on something and do it. It’s important to know that you can keep going even when your body is screaming at you to stop.
  4. I have a wife and child now: It’s nice. It’s a lot of pressure. Sometimes you don’t know what the hell is going on (with the child mostly (just kidding dearest wife)). It’s nice to have people in your life who you know are a massive part of yours and that you are a massive part of theirs. I make my wife smile and laugh and my 3 month old daughter is starting to laugh at with me too. I can make people happy just by being there and that is a very good thing.
  5. I am strong: OK, this is a very simple one but it’s always nice to be strong. It’s comforting to know that you can be the heavy lifter in the house.

So there’s 5 things which are good about me. When you’re getting bogged down by all the negative thoughts running through your head then maybe it’s time to take a step back grab a piece of paper and just write down 5 good things about yourself. If you can’t do it then maybe ask someone else to.

No matter how much of a bad guy you believe yourself to be there will always be redeeming features. It may seem a little self indulgent, but sometimes you really do need to concentrate on yourself before you lose yourself.

Best Little Country

There has been a lot of talk in recent years about Ireland becoming the best little country in the world in which to do business. That, in my opinion, is an error. It translates to me as “Ireland should be the best little country in the world to do business…right now…but feel free to go somewhere else in 10 years”.

I think our priorities are all wrong. Ireland should try and be the best little business in the world. That way we might look at a sustainable future and concentrate less on small wins in the short term. It may even help remove the petty politics and poor decision making which have left us a battered nation.

If one where to examine the issues which plague the country at present then you would have to explore the possibility of treating this little island of ours as a business. Consider the following 3 problem children;

  1. The HSE: The dreaded HSE. In its current form it is not fixable. It is in essence beyond hope. It is that way because it has been allowed to be that way. There is unfortunately an underbelly in the HSE which is happy with the way things are and which has no desire to see the organisation change and evolve in the way it so desperately needs to. Our hospitals are at breaking point. The doctors, nurses, midwives, support medical staff and paramedics are giving their all and are really at the point where they can give very little more. They are doing a wonderful job under very hard working conditions and they are seeing very little return for their investment. Now, the problem is not with the people on the ground doing the job, but the people at the top of the ladder throwing the muck down on them. Think about the HSE like a business. Would it be allowed to continue? Would the current chain of management be allowed to stay in their very well paid jobs? Would the doctrine which dictates every archaic and disastrous decision be allowed to remain?
  2. Irish Water: Where to start. Irish Water, which is State Owned yet seeks no advice or conducts no research before implementing its own decisions is a disaster. It was set up with the one original overriding objective of securing the water supply and infrastructure for said supply for Ireland going into the future. Thus far it seems to have abandoned that idea in lieu of gratuitous perks for its own staff. For unnecessary water meters which will fail before 2030. For laughing yoga retreats for its staff. For unnecessary and costly breaches of data protection. In short, it seems the only future Irish Water has secured is its own. If it were a private entity completely culpable to its shareholders would it be allowed to continue in its current guise? Would it be allowed to abandon its original mission in order to pursue its own interests? Would it be allowed to make mistake after mistake without being gutted and restarted? Would it be allowed to ignore the calls of its shareholders?
  3. Politics: It’s a general one alright, but it is a problem child all the same. Political games and name calling are ruining Ireland. Politicians are far too busy scoring cheap shots off each other to recognise that Ireland is on the cusp of disaster. Its people are desperate. History has taught us that desperate people make desperate decisions. Both World Wars are prime examples of this. Closer to home you need only look at the volunteer ranks of the IRA and how they rapidly grew in Northern Ireland in the 1970’s. In all cases nothing else was working so the people thought they’d listen to the lads who sounded mad a few years ago. While Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour trade tacky and inane insults the people lose their patience. While they deeply analyse each word their opponent utters there are people lying and dying on trolleys in our overwhelmed hospitals. They talk about job creation and skew the unemployment figures while the young people think of emigration and become ever more disillusioned with a system which only talks a talk full of empty promises. If the government was a business entity completely answerable to its shareholders would it be allowed to continue with its current board? Would the shareholders stand for all the broken promises? Would they stand for all the spin talk? Better still, would they really choose the same people to represent them the next time around? The big giant issue with Politics in Ireland is that they are all gathered around the same pot, eating the same meal and singing from the same hymn sheet. One talks job creation while the next talks about creating jobs. Even Lucinda and Eddie have missed the point. Lucinda is the shunned Fine Gael poster girl. Her public views will change to reflect her unemployment fears. The issue with who we have to choose from is that they are all the same underneath. They are just wearing different colour shirts.

I know there may be a certain level of apprehension in relation to the concept of Ireland being thought of as a small business as opposed to a small country. If we all were to be considered as shareholders and stakeholders and not merely voters then maybe we might be able to enact the change we so desperately need. Maybe we might attract the right people to the right positions. What we need are balanced and experienced people with the necessary skill set to truly get Ireland on the road. We need the people who say little and do a lot. We don’t need the same old same old. We don’t need the guy who promises to fix your fence for a vote taking up a seat on Kildare street. We need the people who can cut the dead wood from the problem children and ensure that we can keep this great train of ours on the tracks. The people who I believe can do that are afraid of putting their necks on the line. They are, in my opinion, afraid of the stagnant machine which is the Irish Governmental system. With that in mind, maybe it’s time to stop the train and change tracks? We are acutely afraid of failure. Maybe it’s time our country failed so we could start anew. Iceland failed. Go to Iceland. There is very little to be afraid of there. The Icelandic people hold their heads high. They made the difficult choices and came out the other side all the better.

We didn’t make the difficult choices. We bailed out people who should have been placed on bail awaiting trial. We accepted our politicians are corrupt. We continue to accept they are serving their own needs and do little about changing it. We fear what is different and unknown. The known is slowly killing us, so maybe it’s time to delve into the unknown? At the moment our beautiful little country is formed on a rust ridden Republic and we are merely painting over the rust. When a building is damaged beyond repair you don’t move your family in and hope for the best. You knock it down and start again.

Best Little Country awards are all well and good. The problem with little countries is that they have very little margin for error. A little change for a business invested here will affect massive changes on our people.

A small business now that can grow and adapt. Small businesses have to think about what they’re going to do 20/30 years down the line. Small businesses are not solely obsessed with 4 year time frames. They have to think about keeping their workforce happy. They have to think about delivering results on their promises. They have to worry about the people who support them. They have to worry about keeping the books in order and in the black. Think about the people who have crippled this country with their ill thought out decisions. They had very little to lose. They were still walking away financially secure until the end of their days. They were not accountable for their inept choices and abhorrent behaviour.

A small country run by politicians with a 4 year life span? Seems like small vision leading to limited success. A small country run like a small business. That is a breeding ground for other small businesses and entrepreneurs.

We need to pull ourselves out of this slump and not continue to allow ourselves to be pulled down any longer. It’s much easier said than done but we need to face into the unknown and try something new. We need to find our pride again. We need to find our reason for being. We have gotten used to being stood on. We have paid and we continue to pay for the mistakes of others time and time again. It is time to be brave and start again.

Our future is unwritten. I don’t know about you, but I need a new story.

Being Social has never been so Anti-Social

Social media. I love it. I use a lot of it. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, Foursquare and even Google Plus (for some reason). It’s a bit of a contradiction though, isn’t it? I mean, it’s not actually very social at all.

It’s worrying to see people out on nights out, having dinner, going for a walk, trying to relax and being slaves to their mobile phones. When did it suddenly become acceptable to ignore the real life people in front of you in order to engage with those who you may never actually encounter? I’ve witnessed this first hand, people who will actively like and follow your life online but who will blank you in real life. Is it that those people don’t like you? Possibly, but not necessarily. It may just be endemic of a bigger problem. A failure to stop and talk to people or to engage on a real level is making people anti social, while allowing them to perceive that they are in fact popular and fully involved.

I love social media for studying consumer and personal behaviours and development. It allows me to see what sort of profile people are trying to put out there. Are they the ultra social people checking in at every opportunity and throwing up the excited #selfies? No, but they would like you to think that. You have got to wonder that if someone was that much in the moment or if they were really enjoying themselves then would they have the time to whip out the overpriced smarty phone and tell the world about it? No, again, I’d imagine not.

Look, I’m guilty of it too, trying to show my best face in public. Sometimes you feel low and sometimes you want to reach out and sometimes the best way to do that is online. I’ll always believe that we need the tactile sensations that come with a hug, a kiss, a handshake, a laugh and not a LOL or ROFL in order to grow as people and to help us heal when we need to. You can get as many nice comments and likes as you want, but in my experience, they will never replace spending time with a close friend or a loved one.

So is it too late? Not yet, but it could be soon. It’s a well known fact that social media addiction is growing. So when you get that urge to reach out to a friend, don’t just poke them on Facebook or reach out for their handle on Twitter. Get your ass off the couch and go actually say hello. Ya never know, it could make the difference to someone someday. #LittleThings.

So tell me your faults

The question in an interview that you always know you’re going to be asked, but you never quite know how to answer.

Realistically, what are you supposed to say to “tell me your faults”? They may as well say “tell me what’s wrong with you, c’mon, I dare ya!”.

It’s the impossible question to answer correctly. It is the Kobayashi Maru of the interview world.  So what do you say to it? Well, you think up your most endearing quirks:

  1. Oh, me? Oh yeah, I definitely work longer than the hours expected of me (this is unfortunately true, as my wife to be and previous 60 something hour a week job will attest to).
  2. I’m far too nice sometimes (Nope, not really! You eat my lunch, I will go all Ross Geller on you!).
  3. I sometimes find it hard to leave my work in the office (Sometimes true, but then again, only because some employers make it impossible for you to leave it at the door).
  4. I always try and please everybody (I don’t. You can’t. It’s impossible. All you can do is your best. You can please some of the people some of the time et cetera et cetera).
  5. I’m too much of a perfectionist (What! Really?! Every time I say this I feel like I’m screaming HIRE ME YOU F***ER, SURE I’M TELLING YOU I’M BRILLIANT).

Tell me your faults. To the interviewee it reads like an invitation to openly lie about how bleeding deadly you are.

Think about it, what if you were honest? Would they openly welcome you in as the pint swilling rugby fan with a penchant for Facebook stalking until 4 in the morning (Oops, I accidentally clicked like on a photo from 2009 on my cousins friends sisters friends bikini picture from Ibiza).

So what is the question all about? I think it may be a trick question. A question put there to try and identify just who the insane people are. When you think about it you end up spending more waking hours with the people you work with then your own family. You kind of want to be sure that the dude(tte) sitting on the opposite side of the table isn’t going to come in in a long trench coat someday muttering about the reckoning.

Is there a right answer? No, I don’t think so. However, I do think there are varying degrees of wrong answers. As long as you don’t leave the person on the other side of the desk screaming for the cops, then you probably did ok.

So what will I say the next time that question is put to me? My faults, you say? Well, I stay up too late, I watch far too many Zombie films, I have a slight obsession with Scarlett Johansson (especially in 3D), I don’t really exercise enough, I tend to undress across the bedroom floor leaving a minefield of clothes for the missus to contend with and yeah, that cup of tea without a coaster underneath? Yep, my work!

Actually, I might just tell them that I work outside of my designated hours, that I’m far too nice, I bring my work home with me, I try to please everyone and I’m absolutely a perfcetionist!