02 Jun Revealing The Keys The Secrets Of Business Success – a discussion with PR Smith
Revealing The Keys The Secrets Of Business Success – a discussion with PR Smith
In advance of the Boosting Business Results with SOSTAC® Digital Marketing Plans workshop in Nicosia on June 10, I spoke to the workshop leader, PR Smith, the internationally-acclaimed author, speaker, corporate advisor and creator of the SOSTAC® Planning System, about the secrets of business success. I must say I was impressed with his friendly demeanour and pleasant personality. I summarize our discussion in this article hoping that you will find some helpful information for you and your business.
MS: To begin with tell me a bit about yourself and your career in the field of marketing, digital marketing, communications and now, digital transition?
PRS: For starters, my name is Paul Smith, although I use the pen name of PR Smith since there are several thousand Paul Smiths in the UK. I graduated in Dublin, Ireland, joined a Belgian Multi-National marketing department and after two years moved to London with the company. I eventually left my job to pursue an MBA at CASS Business School. I simultaneously started marketing Christmas Crackers in America to pay for the MBA. After I got my MBA, I started lecturing and doing a lot more consultancy. After 10 years, I quit to set up a consortium of three universities and create an e-learning company specialising in Marketing. We sold into 63 countries, became a private company and after 10 years I moved on to doing what I’m doing now: advising, training and mentoring businesses as well as writing about digital marketing, communications and now digital transition. Since digital transition is a big issue, I’ve been invited to become a government registered Business Growth Accelerator mentor and trainer.
I have six books translated into seven languages. My latest is the SOSTAC® Planning Guide which I am really proud of. SOSTAC® was voted in the Top 3 Marketing Models of all time by the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s centenary poll. It can be learned in 4 minutes (later) and is used by companies across the world. The one day workshop shows how to use the many free tools and techniques to build plans that save money, boost sales and, most importantly, grow repeat sales for any business (or organisation). See the books section for more information www.PRSmith.org/books
Oh, by the way that’s my 9-5 job. I have a separate 5-9 job. It’s a NFP educational programme to help young people to change the world, called the Great Sportsmanship Programme. It inspires a new generation of global citizens (and boosts literacy, self-confidence/esteem and interest in sport and other nations) via true, 2 minute stories about sportsmanship. www.GreatSportsmanship.org Join us! Change the world!
MS: Ok Thanks, I will, but getting back to SOSTAC® Planning system – what exactly is it?
PRS: Well it took me almost 10 years to create the SOSTAC® Planning System, it can be learned in less than 10 minutes, in fact 4 minutes. It can be applied to business plans, marketing plans, digital marketing plans, digital transition plans, business plans and even your own personal life plan. Whether a blue chip, like IBM, or a smaller business, professionals who discover SOSTAC® embrace it for life.
(Editor’s note: Below you will find a 3 minute (!) rundown of what the SOSTAC® Planning system entails)
Situation Analysis (where are we now?)
- Results/performance, strengths/weaknesses, competitors, competitive advantage, customers (who, why & how), partners/channels & trends (opportunities and threats)
Objectives (where do we want to go?)
- from mission to vision to KPIs to ‘digital sizzle’
Strategy (how do we get there?)
- the shortest part of the plan yet the most difficult and also crucial to get it right since strategy drives all the subsequent tactical decisions. NB ‘There’s no point rowing in the wrong harder if you are rowing in the wrong direction.’
Tactics (the details of strategy)
- including the marketing mix & communications mix – which tools you use when, often laid out in a Gantt chart)
Action (the details of tactics)
- who does what, when & how – checklists, guidelines, internal comms, processes & systems)
Control (metrics – who measures what when, how often)
- and how much it costs plus what happens when you spot a blip? that you need to measure at different times
+ 3Ms (the three key resources Men, Money & Minutes)
- men & women – the human resource; Minutes (timescales) & Money (budgets)
MS: How can SOSTAC® actually help boost business results?
PRS: Firstly it saves time, reduces costs, reduces stress/firefighting and finally it boosts results by targeting relevant messages at prospects that actually want to hear from you rather than those that don’t want to from you.
Saves Time: Although planning initially takes time to research and write, it does save time in the long run. How? Once you have a clear strategy, you’ll find tactical decisions become easier (and quicker). Prior to this, at the Situational Analysis stage, once you define what information you need to make great decisions, you will make faster, clearer and better decisions. In fact, over time, you can take all the risk out of your business decisions by knowing what questions to ask and, over time, you’ll discover where you can get the answers quickly and efficiently. Planning ahead forces clarity about all sorts of issues that can then be ‘fixed’ before they emerge as problems which slow things down (and add extra costs).
Save Money: Stop wasting money chasing customers blindfolded. If you don’t know who exactly your ideal customer is, how will you ever find more ideal customers? It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack, except you don’t know what a needle looks like! How many companies spray marketing all over the place in a kind of ‘hit & miss’ or worse still ‘hit & hope’ marketing approach? This is madness. Yet how many companies don’t know who their ideal customer is! You’d be surprised and unpleasantly shocked. Also planning helps you to know what resources you need way ahead of time, therefore you can get better deals when you have longer lead times (and you can also shop around and negotiate more strongly).
Boost Sales & Repeat Sales: As already mentioned, identifying ideal customers takes a bit of time, but it’s time well spent since you are now targeting prospects that will actually be pleased to hear from you and welcome your contact at the right time via the right channel. Today’s technology can help with all of this. In fact there’s a lot of new tools (many of which are free) that help you to identify prospects in ways we simple never imagined just two or three years ago. It’s a very exciting time for those that are prepared to seize this opportunity, embrace change and reap the dividends.
MS: Can you give us some success stories enabled by SOSTAC®?
PRS: Well I get feedback all the time from business people all over the world thanking me for sharing SOSTAC®, telling me it has enabled them to write very focused, easily actionable plans built upon solid information, which actually helps them to grow their businesses.
I have a client in Dublin, who has since gone global. I can’t say it’s down to SOSTAC® because they are a fantastically innovative renewable energy company with brilliant staff. I used SOSTAC® to write their very first marketing plan for the original company called Airtricity. The CEO, Eddie O’Conner, is a friend of mine and, as such, I didn’t want to charge him any fee. My mistake was not to ask for ½ of 1% equity as he sold the company for €1.2b a few years later. Since then Eddie has set up an even more exciting global company called Mainstream Renewable Power (they develop wind farms and solar parks for public companies, private companies, pension funds and governments , and I’m pleased to say we manage all their online websites around the world. After 18 months they grew from zero to €0.5b market cap, with wind farms onshore and offshore, solar parks and offices across the world.
I use SOSTAC® for all of my clients that need help with planning and it immediately gives them all a reassuring sense of order. In fact it really gives them a platform of reassuring logic to make better decisions. Consciously or unconsciously, that boosts morale, vision and belief which all help to execute the plan.
(Editor’s Note: to read what people say about SOSTAC® visit http://prsmith.org/sostac/what-clients-say-about-sostac-planning/)
MS: What do you think about technology boosting business results e.g. Is big data relevant to small companies?
PRS: Well the first thing I would point out is that it doesn’t really require a sizeable investment to implement a basic analytics system. Google Analytics for example is free to use, there’s some basic coding to set up but once those are set up, it’s actually a fairly straightforward system. As for companies that chose to ignore analytics, I can safely say that would be a bad idea. Everyone should be exploring this field.
So yes big data is going to become more relevant for every business. Those that embrace are more likely to thrive. For example, I work with a company in the UK that can identify people attending a B2B conference (via the twitter conference hashtag), build a list and give it to you, along with their comments, their web site, their job title, company phone number, linkedin profile. They can also partner with reverse forensics companies that will add to this information about say 20% of your anonymous web site visitors, what they’re interested in (how long they spent on certain pages & what key phrases they used to search your site), their company name, their url, phone number and probable job type.
MS: Where can we continue this conversation?
I try to update my facebook page www.facebook.com/PRSmithMarketing once a day with cutting edge insights into marketing. I write more in-depth cutting edge marketing pieces on my blog www.PRSmith.org/blog once a month. I’m on twitter everyday @pr_smith please do continue this conversation! And perhaps see you at the workshop on the 10th June in Nicosia.
More Information on the Workshop
Boosting Business Results with SOSTAC® Digital Marketing Plans workshop in Nicosia on June 10
Contact Marios Siathas,
European Institute of Management and Finance
Tel: +357 2227 4470
Website: www.eimf.eu (go to courses & seminars)
Delegates attending the workshop get a free copy of the SOSTAC® Guide To Writing Your Perfect Digital Marketing Plan plus the workbook which can be used to create your own plan.
More Information on PR Smith