Category: Marketing- General

Think Big. Act Small

CIM’s SME research early insight.

CIM’s SME research explored…

  • Business performance and confidence
  • Attitudes and motivations of entrepreneurs and business owners
  • Approaches to marketing – resourcing & skills
  • Key challenges internally and externally
  • Finding advice and support.

The most interesting ‘take away’ for me is that strategic marketing activities are largely done in-house yet only 13% of survey respondents considered their business to employ a marketing specialist, i.e. the in-house resources undertaking strategic activities lack experience, training and qualifications.

Have a look at the presentation slides and let me know if any of the findings surprise you:

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Three things I learned from UCAS

Last week I had the pleasure of listening to Andrew Hargreaves, Director of Marketing Communications, speak about the transformational journey of change that UCAS is currently on.

Aside from some of the Higher Education sector specifics, which went a bit over my head, Andrew delivered one of the most engaging, funny and honest presentations I’ve seen in a long, long while. Here are three things he said which I thought were really cool, and I’m going to put into practice at The Growth Hub:

1. Fix one thing every 30 days

Each manager at UCAS has a ‘fix-it list’ – a collection of issues, challenges or barriers that need sorting out. There are 10 fix-its on each manager’s list and the target is to tick one of them off by finding a permanent solution, every month. You can start by tackling the ‘quick-wins’ to give yourself more time for the harder stuff, or go in with the big guns and make huge strides of progress, really quickly.

The reason this idea is so cool is because it makes shifting the rocks in the road, seem totally manageable. Roll forward a year and you’ll have sorted out 10 major blockages. What’s not to love?

2. CARE

model depicting CARE- culture, analysis, rational, emotionalThe CARE model stands for:

  • Culture: The culture at UCAS is ‘to be the conscience of the customer’.
  • Analysis: For UCAS this relates to tracking digital movement and behaviour, analysing it, and making marketing decisions that are based on data.
  • Rational: On a basic level, when a customer calls UCAS, is the service decent?
  • Emotional: On an emotional level, how does the customer feel about their experience with UCAS?

This is a useful model that any organisation can think about when embarking on Change. What is the culture, how will you analyse your customers/markets/services/performance, what are the rational and emotional connections you want to make?

3. Take responsibility for outcomes, not functions

At UCAS there are a group of managers who are responsible for results, for outcomes, for delivery. They are not responsible for functional areas of the business. This means that when they are solving a problem, they have absolute clear sight of what needs to happen, and the freedom to remove ‘management distractions’ and disregard hierarchical constraints when they need support from other teams or managers. Being responsible for an outcome sure does focus the mind.


Other than this presentation, my most recent experience of UCAS was when I bought media space from them for a digital campaign last year. I thought they were well organised and impressive. It’s interesting to hear about the inner workings of any organisation but the candid approach from Andrew made it even more exciting. I look forward to following UCAS on its travels and am pretty sure the road ahead will be a pleasant one.

Remember to look for the gorilla

Not a sentence I ever thought I’d be saying to a room full of people at work. But I did. Let me explain…

Sanctuary is implementing a new company-wide computer system (SAP) and I’m project managing the process of moving the data we have in our current computer systems over to our new one.

Man in a gorilla suit holding a banana
Can you see me?
Image from Costume Craze

Once the data has been moved over to SAP the business needs to check that what they thought had moved actually had moved, and that any financial balances are still the same. Basically that we haven’t gained or lost a few million pounds during the migration and that what we know to be a house in our existing system hasn’t magically become a garage in SAP. This process is called reconciliation and validation.

Last week my team and I presented this concept to the business. To keep it simple and get the key messages of: 1) this is really, really important and 2) you need to know what to look for when you’re reconciling and validating, we used this clip as the opener:

 

In the clip you’re asked to concentrate on how many basketball passes the team in white make, but a few seconds in to the game a gorilla walks across the screen, giving a little wave on his way.

About half of the audience completely missed the gorilla. They got the number of basketball passes right and had they been asked to spot the gorilla I’m sure they’d have seen it. If they’d known to look out for it, it would have been blindingly obvious.

So the point was, if you know what checks you need to perform on your data, what questions to ask, what to count, you’ll be more likely to find problems, whereas if you go into the validation process with little thought, you’ll miss the errors.

The same can be said for all things marketing and digital. When you’re proof-reading copy or checking print proofs you should be following a tried-and-tested process that will support you to find mistakes. For example when I proof-read I look for one type of problem at a time, so first I check sentence structure, then I work through the copy again and look at spelling.

With any Analytics programme you need to have an idea of what you’re trying to measure and why, before you start measuring it. A collection of numbers of site visits, bounce rate, or Likers is just a collection of numbers but if you’ve thought about its value it becomes insight which enables you to make more effective marketing decisions.

So remember, always look for the gorilla. Have some idea about what you’re trying to find before you start looking for it.