Archive for the ‘Business Planning’ Category

Don’t be a Commodity, be Remarkable!

July 31, 2018

Health Bars in Multiples

Queuing for my salad at lunchtime in the corner store near our office today in Dublin, I couldn’t help but notice the piles of health bars above the sandwich bar.

Even if I wanted one, I wouldn’t have a clue which one to pick as there were so many different brands, all offering the same thing!

A few years ago, health bars didn’t even exist and now they are competing for space at every till across Ireland. So much noise and so little differentiation.

Health bars have become a commodity.

How can you make sure this doesn’t happen to you and your business?

You have to keep on reinventing, reinvesting – in you, in your business and in your brands.

You have to continually give your target audience good reasons to engage with you. You have to create compelling stories about your products and your business.

As Seth Godin says in his Marketing Bible ‘The Purple Cow’ – you have to be ‘remarkable’ to stand out.

Looking at the image (above) of all these health bars, despite the investment in packaging, despite negotiating shelf space, despite “magical” ingredients that will make you leaner, fitter, healthier, not one of them is remarkable.

Why not make it a resolution to ask yourself right now – what steps could you take today to make your business more remarkable?

If you need any help guiding you towards the answers –  I’d love to help…….

Deirdre 

Deirdre Waldron - Network Ireland PresidentDeirdre Waldron is the founding partner of Fuzion Communications, a Marketing, PR and Graphic Design firm with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Capturing your Story

February 23, 2018

In a previous post we outlined our Fuzion Process, which is a framework that we use with clients for their planning.

We use this “Story” framework and we find that it brings a very sharp focus to all marketing activity, to ensure the very best outcomes.

Our process follows some simple steps:
1. Understand your story
2. Capture your story
3. Make sure your story is found
4. Tell your story
5. Engage with your story online
6. Protect your story

In the last post we spoke about ‘Understanding your story‘ and the possible role of a brand workshop to help bring some clarity to exactly what you are trying to communicate to your target audience.

The next step is all about capturing this story.

Capture your Story

Once you understand the story that you want to tell, it’s important that this is captured visually in a way that connects with your target audience.

We judge things quickly by how they appear to us, so whenever and wherever anyone comes across your products or services in your website, promotional material, vehicles, premises and even the individuals in your team, that these tell the right, professional story.

Does it convey professionalism, is it modern, is it unique or is it very generic, does it convey your story simply and clearly, does it appeal to your target audience? Has the organisation moved on and is it time for a refresh?

Someone is always making up their mind about you by how you appear to them.

It is vital that the graphic design work and the execution of this needs to be sharp and consistent on all platforms when your brand is being presented so that your story is properly captured and told.

Click here to see some of the work that our Creative Team have been doing for clients

If we can be of help in any way you know where we are!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Understanding your ‘Story’

February 12, 2018

Fuzion - Brand Workshops, Dublin, Cork, Ireland

In a previous post we outlined our Fuzion Process, which is a framework that we use with clients for their planning.

We use this “Story” framework for all of our clients and we find that it brings a very sharp focus to all marketing activity, to ensure the very best outcomes.

Our process follows some simple steps:
1. Understand your story
2. Capture your story
3. Make sure your story is found
4. Tell your story
5. Engage with your story online
6. Protect your story

 

Understanding Your Story

In this blog post we will deal with the very first step, which is ‘Understanding Your Story‘.

It is our job as marketers to help our clients tell the story of their business, organisation, products and services effectively so that when people talk about these things they say exactly what we want them to say.

Before we create any plans, it is a crucial first step to understand exactly what the business is all about, what makes it special, where it is going and what it needs to do to get there.

To assist this step, we often conduct a Brand Workshop with clients, which is a very simple way of capturing all of this and defining their “story” or brand.

We also find that this powerful process helps to motivate the team, reminding them about what makes them special, providing them with clarity and defining exactly what needs to be communicated as part of the marketing process.

During this process we work together with the team to probe what it is that they do, how they go about this work and what the driving force or essence of the organisation is.

We look at the values, the core characteristics, the vision for the business and the mission that the team is on together to achieve this vision.

We even do some visualisation work to help the team crystallise what it is about them, that makes them special and different from competitors.

This work paints a clear picture of the brand or “the story” of the business, which must then be captured and told.

One of the outputs of this process is a Brand Brief, which we would give to our graphic/creative team to help them deliver this story visually for the client.

To find out more about our Brand ‘Promise’ Workshop click here

If we can be of help in any way you know where we are!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Your “Story Telling” Process

February 7, 2018

Jeff Bezos

As part of your planning for this year we wanted to give you a simple Marketing framework using our Fuzion process, that might help to keep year on track.

We use this “story” framework for all of our clients and we find that it brings a very sharp focus to all marketing activity, to ensure the very best outcomes.

It is our job as marketers to help our clients tell the story of their business, organisation, products and services effectively so that when people talk about these things they say exactly what we want them to say.

When Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon declared that “your brand is what people say about you when you leave the room” he cut through all of the jargon about communications, and left us with a very simple task:

Know your story and then tell it effectively to your target audience – Simple!!

The Fuzion process

Our Fuzion Story Process follows some simple steps:

1. Understand your story – make sure you have a deep understanding of what makes you unique

2. Capture your story – all logos, visuals, marketing materials and your website must convey your story

3. Make sure your story is found – if you cannot be found online you are not in the game!

4. Tell your story – you have to proactively push your story out there (your traditional marketing)

5. Engage with your story online – make sure you have your voice on social media

6. Protect your story – be ready to protect and proactive about protecting your reputation

Your plan should take into account all of these elements and they should work together to produce the results you are looking  for.

We’ll go into each of these elements in more detail in further posts.

If we can be of help in any way you know where we are!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

Top Tips for Business Continuity Management in 2018 from Avalution

February 5, 2018

Elaine Tomlin Avalution Consulting

When our client Elaine Tomlin, Managing Consultant from Avalution Consulting, started chatting to us about Business Continuity Management, I assumed that this was something exclusively for large organisations and the more I heard the more I thought it is something for everyone in business to take seriously.

We asked her to explain in plain language what exactly BCM is:    

Business Continuity Management (BCM) is vital in preparing and protecting business operations from disruptions caused by threats stemming from cyber attack and natural disasters, as well as resource unavailability such as building loss, staff absenteeism, and supply chain failure.  

A robust business continuity programme manages the likelihood and impact stemming from disruptive incidents through proactive response and recovery planning, with the objective of reducing operational downtime.

As a global leader in BCM, Avalution Consulting, which provides business continuity, IT disaster recovery, and information security services to profit, not-for-profit, and government organisations of all sizes across all sectors, compiled their top tips for 2018 to ensure organisations protect themselves from major risks.

 

  • Business continuity plan – make sure you have one!

 

Taking the time to develop and invest in business continuity strategies and plans is an opportunity to protect staff, clients, operations, profits and brand. It’s important to understand and identify critical processes, gaps and risks to ensure the organisation can develop effective response and recovery plans to address stakeholder expectations.

 

  • Who does what, when?

 

If your key staff are aware of their responsibilities during a major incident (i.e. if they know what to do, how to do it and when to do it), there is a high likelihood that your organisation will recover your business activities and will help minimise negative impacts in a more timely manner, especially in relation to potential operational, financial and reputational losses and damages. 

 

  • Ensure recovery support staff are fully accountable – own it!

 

Choose those accountable for business continuity performance (recovery support teams) carefully.  Senior staff with strong oversight and knowledge of critical processes, systems and inter-dependencies, will be most effective during a major incident and will ensure staff are fully accountable for their recovery roles. They will require appropriate business continuity and recovery training and their recovery accountabilities should be noted within their personal scorecard / performance objectives.

 

  • How to manage risks…  What risks?

 

Identify what types of threats and risks are likely to impact your business. Explore each threat and risk, aim to understand how each impacts your business, and then consider what controls or preventative measures you may already have in place which can minimise the risk (e.g. a secondary office location, multiple suppliers, etc.). Where there are no controls or preventative measures in place, consider planning to mitigate/reduce, remove or accept these risks. Document all identified risks as part of a risk register, which will help you take control and manage risks effectively. Many identified risks can be addressed through a well thought out business continuity plan.    

 

  • Recovery Strategies – plan for four key business disruptions!

 

You can’t plan or have a recovery strategy for every eventuality, but you can develop strategies and plans for four key disruptions that will cover the outcome stemming from most threats. Ensure you prepare and have a plan to recover from:

  1. denial of access to your building (building damage, Health & Safety, etc.)
  2. denial of staff availability (strike, severe weather, etc.)
  3. denial of technology
  4. denial of supply chain (loss of a dependent supplier)

 

  • Business recovery – It is about more than just technology recovery!

 

The information technology team is not responsible for the recovery of business operations from all causes, they are only responsible technology recovery! While it is essential to have IT disaster recovery strategies and plans this is only part of the story. The business, outside of the IT organisation, should take responsibility and ownership for a wider operational recovery (non-technical). Technical teams support an operational recovery as part of a suite of services they provide to the business. The business needs to plan for multiple potential interruptions to services causes by the unavailability of staff, workplaces, and third parties.

 

  • If you have a business continuity plan – test it!

 

If you don’t test or exercise your business continuity plan, you don’t know if it works. There are always plan gaps and performance issues that have not been considered. Testing and exercising helps to identify the gaps and therefore provide you with an opportunity to identify, address and close these corrective actions over time.  

 

  • Crisis/Incident Management – agree on the recovery protocols!

 

Have clear and well understood crisis/incident management protocols. Identify what information and how information about an incident should be managed and communicated both internally and externally. Incident management will require an understanding of who the key stakeholders are, what the timeframes for escalation are, who information should be shared with, how information should flow between teams (such as the board and executive management, the crisis/incident management teams, technology teams, BCM teams, facility teams, human resources teams, marketing and communications teams, customers, and essentially all staff). It is important to have clear documented indicators to support quick escalation, actions and stakeholder engagement. 

 

  • When does a standard or normal interruption to service – become unacceptable (an incident)!

 

Take all interruptions to normal business processing seriously as small incidents have the potential to grow and creep significantly. However, some business processes are more important than others due to their time sensitivity (short-time to impact) and their high potential impact to the long-term viability of the organisation. The impact of not being able to deliver a product/service or complete a critical process could give rise to penalties, regulation issues, client impact, financial losses, and reputational impairment. These factors should be considered within the incident management protocols and escalation paths.

Lots of food for thought for all of us – are you ready?

A big thanks to Elaine and her team for this post.

Greg Canty

I had a great year because….

January 2, 2018

Visualisation

For the last few years I have been doing this simple little exercise at the start of the year to help me get focused around things that are important both personally and professionally.

I have found it to be really useful and it has made a big difference and as I look back at last year I can see the things that I have achieved as a result of this focus. In Fuzion we also ask all of the team to do this – it is really important to us that everyone in the team achieves their own personal and career goals.

Making plans and actually achieving them is always challenging and at the start of the year we find ourselves at the start of that loop all over again making promises that often will never materialise!

Benjamin Zander - The Art of PossibilityA few years ago I was inspired by a book about goal setting in a different way called “The Art of Possibility” by Benjamin and Rosamund Zander (a really interesting motivational book by the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and his wife who is an executive coach).

Benjamin Zander, the conductor has the task every year of bringing out the very best from a large group of very talented musicians for his orchestra.

His approach is rooted in the power of visualisation – the simple idea behind this is that if you visualise what you want to achieve then there is a much better chance of it actually happening (disbelievers ….stop reading now !!)

This is my approach to his great idea to tap into all of Your Possibilities..

Take a quiet few moments so you can concentrate with a blank sheet of paper and a pen and do some visualisation – Take a few deep breaths and relax and close your eyes.

Now imagine the last working day of this year, just before you head out the door to do some last minute shopping and enjoy a well-earned rest. You are feeling really satisfied as you reflect on your fantastic achievements during the year. Some of these were personal things and some of these were professional things – you are feeling great!

Now open your eyes and start writing:

I had a great year because ….

Now off you go and list the things that will make this year a great one for you:.

Take your time and be as specific as you can including all of those business and personal goals that will give you that huge sense of satisfaction on that last work day.

Now you need to study this list and start figuring out how you can make this list come to life.

Put your piece of paper in a safe place so that you can refer to it throughout the year to make sure your wish list stays on track.

Enjoy realising all of your possibilities..

Happy New Year

This clip of Benjamin Zander is really motivational and well worth watching.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Gina London: How some RESOLVE can go a long way to making this year a great one

January 2, 2018

Janus - Greek God

January is named for the Roman god Janus.

He was the god of doors and gates. The guardian of entrances and exits. Of beginnings and endings. Of time and transitions. Ancient marble sculptures depict him with a double-faced head – one looking back and the other looking forward.

And here we are at the beginning of another January. Another new year. Another new beginning. And with it, another opportunity to make a New Year’s resolution.

The first time I remember ringing in the New Year, I was nine. The week after Christmas my parents had driven with my little brother and sister and me to a self-catering hotel in Florida to escape our Indiana snow. Dad announced that, for the first time, we kids could officially ring in the New Year at midnight.

We were so excited about the prospect of staying up late that we dashed into our little kitchen to gather pots and pans as makeshift drums and assorted spoons as drumsticks. Provisional instruments assembled, we paraded around the place – loudly proclaiming our enthusiasm.

As you might expect, this drove my mom crazy. She urged my dad to pretend midnight arrived a few hours early. But he honoured his word to his offspring and we all saw it through to the bitter end. Or beginning.

The next morning, when I woke up, I expected to feel completely different. It was the dawn of the new year. The sun should be shining brighter or something, shouldn’t it?

I remember how surprised I was that I was just the same. I was disappointed.

Then my mom told me I could make a resolution.

An outward pronouncement that something different is going to happen in the new year. Something that I had the power to change.

To this day, I love the prospect of making New Year’s resolutions.

I know, I know..

There are basically two types of people in the world – those who make New Year’s resolutions and those who make fun of the people who do.

We’re creatures of habit, so naturally change is hard.

You can frame your resolve with the word itself: RESOLVE

Reflect:

Before you decide what your New Year’s goal should be, act like one of Janus’s faces and look back. It’s helpful to review your year. Don’t dwell on the negative things, but do reflect upon what you’ve achieved.

I’ll bet each of you have something to be proud of. Maybe you didn’t win ‘Salesperson of the Year‘. But did you enter?

By just how much did you miss the mark? Maybe you didn’t lose 10 kilos, but did you join a gym? How many times did you go? Reflecting will help you adjust your strategy and behaviour to take another move ahead.

Examine:

Why are you preparing to make a resolution? Whatever you decide, it should come from you, not from real or perceived pressure of an employer or loved one. If you personally don’t really want to make a change, then you won’t.

Specify:

‘Losing weight’ is consistently the number one resolution people cite. But that’s so vague.

One of the main reasons people don’t achieve their resolutions, is they’re not narrowly defined. Do you mean one kilo or one stone? You need to write down a specific and realistic goal, so you can measure your success. Imagine how impossible “I’m never eating Cadburys again” sounds.

Instead, get real and try: “I’ll limit myself to three chocolates a week.

Outline:

Now that you’ve defined your goal, list each of the incremental changes you will need to make to support it. For instance, I know I won’t go to the gym unless it’s the first thing of the day. So, I would list ‘set my alarm an hour earlier’ as I outline my steps towards losing those last stubborn five pounds.

Link:

Find someone who will help motivate you or hold you accountable. Or both. Linking up with another person or maybe even a group of people is a big key to resolution success.

Value:

How much do you value yourself?

A lot,” you might quickly answer. But, then why are so many of us already convinced we won’t see our resolutions through?

Many of us are way too hard on ourselves. That’s another reason people don’t keep resolutions.

Just because you ate 10 chocolates this week, doesn’t mean you have to throw in the towel on the whole year. Forgive yourself and get back at it. You’re not perfect. None of us are. But if you value yourself and your goal, you must keep going.

Evaluate:

Schedule time on your calendar at regular intervals to take stock of your progress. Don’t wait until the following December. Try every couple of weeks or once a month. Target quarterly milestones to track your progress. Don’t forget.

The Romans believed Janus would forgive them their mistakes and shortcomings over the past year.

You can take today to forgive others as well as yourself. The Romans also asked Janus to bless them and help them with their goals for the new year. While Janus may not be the one helping you, it’s also time for you to make some serious plans.

January is upon us – Like Janus, let us contemplate our past achievements while anticipating success in our future efforts.

Happy New Year. Put your resolve into action!

Gina London - Fuzion CommunicationsGina London is a former CNN anchor and international campaign strategist who is now a Strategic Communications director with Fuzion Communications. She serves as media commentator, emcee and corporate consultant. @TheGinaLondon

Never, ever write a cheque to make yourself look bad!

May 16, 2017

James Bond Museum

I was doing a review of the marketing activities with a new home improvement client a few years back.

In the previous year, they had spent €15,000 on Google Adwords in the UK bringing the right search traffic to the website of their UK operation.

They weren’t convinced about how successful this investment was and they asked me to review the campaign.

The lack of success was simple to figure out because the €15,000 was being used to drive traffic to their website, which was outdated and made them look like an old fashioned, backwards operation. You could easily understand how this traffic was not converting because, like me, I am fairly sure that the people who looked at the website were not inclined to do business.

Not only were they wasting money but they were damaging their brand – an important and very simple SEO tip is to make sure you have a website that makes people want to do business with you!

My simple recommendation to them was to stop the campaign immediately, upgrade the website and then, and only then, start up the Google campaign again.

I was told that there was no budget for a new website and instead they decided to increase their Google Adwords budget in the hope that bringing, even more traffic would somehow improve the results they were getting from the previous campaign.

Whether it is..

– Advertising when your store is a mess
– Putting a cheap sign over your premises
– Paying for an advert and not designing it properly
– Getting cheap business cards
– Bringing traffic to an outdated website

..the message is always the same.

Never, ever, write a cheque to make yourself look bad.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full-service agency that offers Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Brexit – Keep calm and plan

May 8, 2017

Prepare for Brexit - Enterprise Ireland

The uncertainty, implications, and fallout from Brexit was the topic for debate at an Enterprise Ireland event that I went along to this week.

As a country so heavily dependent on exporting to the UK, Brexit represents the most significant economic challenge facing Ireland and one which we are advised to plan for without really knowing what the fallout will be.

While we can only speculate, Enterprise Ireland have rolled-out a dedicated roadshow, specific grant and an online tool to encourage businesses to plan and prepare so that anything other than a hard Brexit is somewhat of a bonus, dare I say it.

The UK will continue to be a key market for businesses in Ireland and the advice for companies in preparation for Brexit is to be as lean and innovative as possible.

Like all challenges, Brexit presents an opportunity for businesses to re-evaluate their markets, products, risks and operations to hone their business contingency plans to build resilience, which is never a bad thing, is it?

A well-thought-out business plan will be crucial for responding to change which is why an investment of time and resources will be vital.

Enterprise Ireland has launched a really clever Brexit SME Scorecard – a planning tool for Irish exporters to the UK designed to assess business readiness for Brexit as well as a Be Prepared Grant to help to financially support and encourage businesses to research, prepare and focus on the elements of their business which they can influence, whatever the outcome of Brexit.

There is no doubt that we’re facing a time of change and uncertainty but one thing is for sure – trade, as one of the oldest professions in the world, will still continue between people and countries.

How we prepare for change will make all the difference.

Aoibhinn Twomey - Fuzion PRAoibhinn

Aoibhinn Twomey is a Senior Account Director with Fuzion Communications – PR, Marketing and Graphic Design  who have offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

100 Days – Doing nothing might be the best approach!

May 1, 2017
Donald Trump signing executive orders

The first 100 days – there is a lot of talk about this and seemingly it has become a great way of assessing the success of a new President in the United States.

Why?

The media are locked into a frenzy about this “100 Day” thing and we all eagerly join in the conversations and somehow buy into this crude assessment of the new President.

Is this a really great yardstick of success and a good sign of what more is to come from the remainder of that person’s four-year term?

In the earliest days of his Presidency we saw Donald “Chump” Trump buying into this, breaking into a sweat signing as many Executive Orders as he could …”look at me, how great I am, look, look, I really mean business and will change the world and show everyone how a real President does it“.

It was quite awful watching the circus around this crude display of power.

100 days on after a frustrating “birth” poor Mr. Chump is now giving out about the American Constitution and blames it for hindering real progress and as always he turns his anger at the media and accuses them again of fake news.

His popularity has fallen since he took office and he really hates that because this bully still wants people to think he is doing great – sorry Donald, that isn’t happening!

The craziest thing of all is this fascination with “100 days”.

Apparently, the term was coined in a July 24, 1933, radio address by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, although he was, in fact, referring to the 100-day session of the 73rd United States Congress between March 9 and June 17, rather than the first 100 days of his administration.

However, it is a lot sexier if we apply the “100” to the first days of the Presidency so this measurement tool caught on.

A good measurement tool?

Managing a super power nation must be incredibly complicated and no matter who you are, no matter how well briefed you are, and no matter how intelligent you are I can imagine those big decisions should be taken in a very considered manner.

From my career experience of having been in business a long time and having managed many companies and worked for many companies, I shudder at the thought of any boss wanting to make as many changes as possible in this initial period.

I would feel an awful lot better if this person would have the sense to listen, learn, take stock and only when they have a full grasp of a situation do they start to make any changes. I have found that even the seemingly obvious things that look wrong can often have very good reasons why they are in place and cannot be changed easily.

I imagine that Donald if he had allowed himself the time and not been a pawn to the media his own bravado persona might have gone about things quite differently.

Next time for the safety and benefit of everyone in the world let’s judge the President positively when he makes no changes in his first 100 days.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service agency that offers Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland


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