Influencers ‘Good People – Good Business’
The pressures associated with running and managing a business can be significant. The daily challenge of managing cash flow, client relationships and operational issues are always a challenge; the list of daily tasks can seem endless, but for most owner managers this comes with its own rewards – the enormous satisfaction of building something unique, the financial stability, the opportunities for personal growth are all frequently voiced by those running their own businesses, but things don’t always go to plan. When they don’t where do you turn?
An organisation, whether it be large or small, must react to the changing world around it; the constant grind of keeping up with client/customer needs is a challenge, add to that the need to innovate and develop your own business brand and function to stay ahead of the competition, all with limited resource, and you get a feel for the size of the challenge.
Sometimes it seems that you can’t see the wood for the trees, the common mistake of ‘Working IN the business, NOT on it’ can leave the organisation rudderless. One day of survival bleeds into the next and before you know it you are yesterday’s news…
To help you navigate business challenges, the growth phase in particular, is where ‘influencers’ pitched itself during the presentation evening in October 2016; #stopsellingstartinfluencing the predominant message through the evening.
The literature pitches itself as a development program of education, which evolves as business practise evolves around it. The program includes: influencers foundation and Business Masters 1 & 2. Once qualified as an influencers Master the applicant gains entry to continual mentoring, attendance to monthly meetings as well as attendance to events and conferences.
Influencers stated objective is to ‘Maximise your strengths whilst consolidating your success alongside other influencers. Continually learn and update the best leadership techniques, and practise your influencer skills’
The brochure goes onto state their three values are Passion, Integrity and Sharing.
Influencers launched their program in Swindon, Wiltshire with an evening event held at the Hilton Hotel. On entering the venue I was greeted with multiple local business stands promoting their business services these included RedheadPR and the Hilton chain of hotels, some of which had presentation slots during the evening.
The presentations started with Julian Lewis, Global Brand Ambassador, who introduced the ‘influencers’ proposition and its purpose.
After which, attendees were invited to complete a simple grid called the ‘colour self-assessment’; by ticking behaviour characteristics you recognise in yourself you automatically create a leaning to one of the four categories (picture below). Once completed the total number of ticks are counted, the one with most behaviour characteristics ticked is your dominant behaviour trait either: Results driven, Team, Relationships or Structure & Process.
Julian then went onto describe a structure for business communication and behaviour traits; simply put, it’s the allocation of your personality to a colour code – Red (Results Orientated), Yellow (Team), Green (Relationships) and Blue (Structure & Process). The process describes how best to interact with each colour and get the most out of your working day (see picture below) i.e. those who are ‘Red’ like speed when making decisions, those who are ‘Yellow’ require the people angle etc.
Useful stats associated with the exercise are that Red are approximately 11% of the population, Yellow are 17%, Green are 35% and Blue are 37%. The simple message is that we need to consider how we act when we interact with others in order to get the best out of a given situation and to ensure understanding.
To demonstrate this Julian gave an example using Coca Cola advertising. He explained that as we all have different behavioural traits Coca Cola present their brand to each segment differently i.e. Yellow (Team) – Holidays are coming advert, Red (Results) – Buy one, get one free, Blue (Process & Structure) – The Coke Green Life brand and Green (Relationships) – Our personal names on the bottle labels. All this aiming to demonstrate we need to interact differently with different people or they will be turned off by our proposition.
All very interesting and insightful…this taster session led to an offer of a reduced fee of £100 (from£120) to attend a session to explore your personal traits further.
As the evening went on several other presentations took place:
Sara Tye ‘PR Top 500’ guru took the stand and talked the audience through some life case studies demonstrating – how business can benefit from, and indeed should never consider doing without, PR as a tool in their business armoury. Her points were very interesting with significant audience participation demonstrating that Sara had got her message across effectively.
Nigel Morgan of Morgan PR presented ‘Social Proofing’ what it is and why we all need to do it…He was very entertaining. In essence the message is ‘People do what other people do’ so the best way to increase sales is to show that other people value your service/product by well-constructed case studies. Nigel supported this statement with some very credible examples highlighting performance improvement through this method. He also provided some pointers in the form of ‘Best Practise’ to consider when writing a case study (picture below):
Andy Rogers then presented his award winning talk; the talk was well thought through and insightful, the message cleverly intertwined his personal experiences on the lifeboats with that of his business experiences.
Andy then went on to discuss the merits of his SOS analogy S – Support Team, O – Obtain Knowledge and S – Stretch Yourself, explaining that you should focus on perseverance; if you feel that what you are doing is correct then you should stand fast and make it happen. Particular focus was on his pivotal moment, a theme of the evening, of when he decided to change his life beyond all recognition.
He concluded with “don’t be afraid to take a chance and create your own pivotal moments”.
The Headliner – The Harley guy
Peter Sylvester AKA ‘The Harley Guy’ led an energetic presentation focused on what you need to do to improve your personal and overall business performance. His approach is charismatic and engaging, something that was quite welcome at 8 o’clock in the evening. Peter’s program leverages his time at Harley Davidson translating the lessons he has learnt into a support structure for business owners.
Peter started his presentation by continuing the ‘Colour Self-Assessment’ theme introduced earlier in the evening by explaining his philosophy that, with the exception of the Reds (11%) who are pretty easy to sell to, you need to influence the remaining 89% to buy your product. The #stopsellingstartinfluencing mantra came to the fore here with Peter pushing the principle of ‘working for the customers good, as well as your own’ and avoiding ‘manipulating for your own good, and to your own end’ as clients/customers can see right through it.
He stated Simon Sinek’s view that ‘people don’t buy what you do’ they buy ‘why you do it’.
In reviewing this statement further Peter referenced Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle (pictured below) and explained the basic principles of the approach, in that the outside circle ‘What?’ a company does is pretty much known by all organisations in existence, ‘How? they do it’ is known by some i.e. USPs, Proprietary process, Differentiating Value Proposition etc. but the ‘Why? They do it’ is known by very few; understanding their purpose, cause or belief is paramount to its success.
Simon Sinek’s theory states that common organisations work from the ‘What’ to the ‘Why’ whereas successful company’s start with the ‘Why’ and work their way out answering all the questions.
Simply put, Harley Davidson is a great example of knowing the Why, as when you buy Harley you are tapping into an emotional connection with the brand, which is not just functional but personally rewarding – it gives you a sense of wellbeing. That’s why people have Harley tattoos, why 36% of Harleys profits comes from its accessories such as biker gear and branded clothes and why people who buy Harley spend a lot of money customising the bike to their individual needs.
Just reading Harley’s mission statement:
“We fulfill dreams through the experiences of motorcycling, by providing to motorcyclists and to the general public an expanding line of motorcycles and branded products and services in selected market segments.
It’s about more than just providing bikes! It about the emotions attached to fulfilling dreams…
Peter goes onto discuss the benefits achieved of ‘Not selling’ but talking ‘Openly and Honestly’, taking the customers problems as your own and aiding them in coming up with solutions. He goes so far as to state that ‘This is the way to convert 8 out of 10 companies or customers to buy your product’.
Those of you familiar with the ‘Theory of Innovation Diffusion chart’ designed by Everet Rogers will recognise some of these numbers…well worth a google if you are not.
In my opinion, the emotional connection between seller and purchaser is paramount to the success of the sell. The old quote ‘people buy relationships’ is very true here; two people providing the same product, to the same specification, at the same price only distinguished by the sellers commitment to their brand or product will win the day, as trust is a key element in any sale.
I believe this still holds true although the rise of the procurement manager has created a whole new landscape of negotiation, but perhaps this is covered in his paid for sessions(?)
One comment I have heard previously and was welcome to hear again was “Money is a measurement of the Service given!”…in this day and age it is sometimes easy to forget this but never has it been truer than today. As with all things in life, ultimately you get what you pay for.
The Pivotal moment
From here Peter recounted his pivotal moment, where he decided to quit the job he loved at Harley Davidson and commit more time to his grandchildren, and to helping business owners improve their performance.
Once again, this was an entertaining presentation but could have come across as a little nostalgic if you have never experienced such a moment. Pivotal moments can be an exceptional time for the person involved (and their family) leading to significant life change.
Peter wanted to explain, in detail, why he had decided on this life course and had a film specifically created for this purpose. For those in the audience who were unsure if ‘influencers’ was perhaps too commercial for them then this would have been a grounding moment.
In my opinion, to understand why you have done something is immensely important, as this is a great driver when times are hard and even better to celebrate when you REALISE your ambition!
Back to Business
To round off Peter talked through the ‘emotions in business slide’ (below) aiming to provide more clarity to why ‘influencers’ can be successful in supporting business owners. As you can see from the slide, as the business grows those actively involved in its creation go through emotions/moods such as frustration! Euphoria! Etc. The influencers program is designed to help you through these times by engaging leadership and the support of a group environment.
Peter believes that there is no such thing as a ‘Brick Wall’ in business, just obstacles to steer around or go through. By tackling the emotions as well as the business challenges he feels you are better equipped to achieve success. This absolutely makes sense to me.
Peter went onto discuss the growth curve of business and relate this to how the business owner’s emotions are directly linked to this journey. He went on to explain there are three routes available when a business is faltering – Decline, Plateau and Energised. Its obvious that the first two aren’t desirable so ‘Energised’ it is then! He continued that he has developed a 10 point plan to overcome all the obstacles you might encounter in your pursuit of ‘Energised’.
These 10 steps were not shared during the presentation, so unfortunately I can’t make a comment on whether they are common sense, just common practise or a magical mix that will gain and maintain that upward curve?
That said the business teasers he talked through were quite interesting, but only ‘really’ useful if you join the influencers to gain access to the secrets!
All things considered this was a worthwhile few hours. The concept makes sense and seems workable. Whether this will deliver improved performance of the business will have a lot to do with the selection of the member group, but that aside, I can see how many businesses will benefit from this support network.
*Please be advised that this is only a snapshot of several hours of presentations and is not meant to be a record of the event, but a taster!