01788 334696 enquiries@cclimited.uk
The Importance of Setting Expectations

The Importance of Setting Expectations

One of the biggest mistakes you can make at the start of any business transaction is failing to set expectations. Very often, customers don’t know exactly what they want, or what they are going to get from you.

It pays to be as clear as possible up front, so that everyone knows what is going to happen and when.

This is something I’ve been doing in business for years. The only time I come unstuck is at weekends when my wife’s spontaneous ideas and desires get thrown into the equation. This sets up the kind of scenario you really don’t want to encounter in business.

Here’s an example of what I mean.

It’s a Saturday lunchtime. I have a plan for later in the afternoon which involves going to the pub to watch the Six Nations rugby. My wife is usually happy to come too, so this is all planned out nicely in my head. Everything’s fine. But then my wife walks into the room.

“I thought we’d go and do a bit of shopping this afternoon”.

I start to get that sinking feeling combined with a slight inner panic. Two thoughts dominate my mind. These are the two things I need to resolve and negotiate:

How much is this going to cost?

How quickly can we get this done?

What I don’t want her to know at this stage is that the time factor is more critical, because I don’t want to miss the kick off.

Now, I realise this example is open to the accusation of being a sexist stereotype. I know this works both ways and there are men who like shopping and women who love rugby. But this really happened!

So here’s where I am: my wife wants to buy clothes, she wants me to come with her so I can say whether her choice of outfit suits her or not, and I am far more concerned about getting it all over with as soon as possible.

I start thinking strategically. I begin asking her questions to try and narrow down the search and make the whole process more expeditious.

“What outfit are you looking for – it is for work or pleasure?”

“Have you identified a supplier? (This could save us from having to visit several shops.)

Unfortunately, my attempt to approach this rationally falls on deaf ears. My wife ignores me completely and off we go to the local retail park.

There is no plan in place. No one knows what to expect – and most frustratingly, I have NO IDEA of exactly what we are trying to find, or how long this is all going to take.

After over an hour in TK Maxx and nothing yet purchased, I am starting to get exasperated. Now she is suggesting taking a break to go and have a coffee. At this point I start to become irritable and a disagreement ensues.

I win the argument.

(You didn’t really believe that, did you?)

Of course I didn’t win!

Needless to say, it all worked out fine in the end. My lovely wife purchased a very nice outfit and found a handbag to go with it, and somehow I managed to get to the pub before the rugby kicked off.

I don’t know why I bother trying to negotiate with my wife: I would be much better off just going along with what she wants to do. She places no limits on spending and has a view of delivery timing that is very different to mine.

Such an approach might give me a quiet life at home, but under absolutely no circumstances would I allow this to happen in business. Planning from the outset and setting expectations is the most important thing you can do at the start of any business relationship or contract. Without it, you are just storing up problems that will become evident later.

A key thing to remember is that your client will almost always have a different view of reality than you do. Unless you go through these things with them early on, you might find they have unrealistic expectations.

Whether it is commercial terms or technical deliverables, make sure that you document everything: even the things you are not going to be doing.

In short, here are my 5 top tips for project delivery:

Step 1: Help the customer to understand what they need. This can differ from what they think they want.

Step 2: Make sure your solution can deliver against their requirements.

Step 3: Where there is difference, spell this out. Make sure you remember to state what will not be delivered, as well as what will be.

Step 4: Do the same for costs and timing. If there are things not covered in your price for which the client may incur additional costs, make sure this is stated.

Step 5: Last but not least, keep a close relationship with your customer. Make sure you communicate and be constantly checking that their expectations are still on track.

If you stick to these guidelines, neither you nor your customer should ever have to end up feeling as exasperated as I did in TK Maxx!

Opt-In Marketing

CC Ltd

3 Fern Close
Rugby
Warwickshire
CV23 0UQ

T: 01788 334696
Email Us

Tony Clarke

Tony Clarke

Manging Director

error
Can pizza repair potholes in the road? Apparently so. Here’s how.

Can pizza repair potholes in the road? Apparently so. Here’s how.

I don’t know about you, but as a rule, I steadfastly try to avoid using corporate speak, clichés and management jargon.

You know what I’m talking about. When people start discussing concepts that are customer-centric, a strategic fit – the sort of blue sky thinking that results in a game plan that provides a quick win, often by going after low-hanging fruit.

Corporate speak often seems to be a no brainer for many people, all of whom appear to be on the same page and singing from the same hymn sheet. They all like to be in the driving seat, dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s, using clichés all day long until the close of play.

For many people, the use of jargon represents best practice and they have no intention of going back to the drawing board, reinventing the wheel and finding other ways to say things. In fact, the thought of doing so isn’t even on their radar.

OK, I’m being silly now. But you know what I mean. If I’m being honest, I do sometimes use many of these phrases, but I tend to make it very clear I’m being ironic.

I must make a confession though. There is one of these phrases that I quite like, and that is “thinking outside the box”. I know, I know… you may well be cringing and in surveys it is consistently voted one of the most annoying phrases. I have sympathy with that view, although I can’t believe that some people profess to hate it more than ‘touch base’ or ‘going forward’.

But I do still quite like “outside the box” because it does touch upon something that is very true: it is so easy for us to limit our thinking and to be effectively confined. We get into certain ways of doing things and don’t see the bigger pict… Aarrrgh! Sorry! But I think you know what I am trying to say.

In marketing, it can be really important to have ideas that are a bit crazy and off the wall. Sometimes these ideas can be good in themselves. Even if not, they can help trigger a thought process that leads to proposals that are indeed viable.

The other day I was reading about how Domino’s Pizza in the United States came up with an PR stunt that is truly outside the box. (In their world of course, a box is made from corrugated cardboard, measures up to about 16 inches diameter and comes complete with a little white tripod in the middle.)

Someone definitely deserved a free pizza for lunch, because they came up with the notion of fixing potholes in roads.

Essentially, they approached a number of local authorities in US cities, usually smaller ones with limited budgets, and asked if they could fund the repair of road surfaces. The deal being that the trucks and equipment would be temporarily emblazoned with Domino’s branding and the whole exercise filmed and photographed as part of the promotion.

After doing a few repairs in states such as Texas, Delaware and Georgia, Domino’s then stepped up the campaign, tying it in with their social media. They asked people to nominate potholes in their local neighbourhoods that needed filling in.

The good-humoured publicity says that they are doing it in order to make sure pizzas reach customers intact and don’t get “damaged in transit”.

It’s not the first time Domino’s have embraced unusual ideas to help promote their brand by gaining media coverage and getting talked about. In 2015, they launched “pizza cars” in America. These modified hatchbacks were able to carry 80 pizzas and even included an “oven” to keep them warm.

The following year, Domino’s claimed to be the first company in the world to make a commercial food delivery by drone when they dropped off a couple of pizzas in the back garden of a couple in New Zealand.

In 2018, Domino’s attained record sales in the UK. On the Friday before Christmas, they sold an unprecedented 535,000 pizzas in a day – equivalent to 12 every second.

They have however had one or two issues on a global scale, with worldwide sales slightly down for the same year. They attribute this to poorer performance than expected in their new market region of Norway.

If they keep having good ideas though, there is no reason why such an established brand can’t turn things around stay on a successful course.

When it comes to having ideas, how are things in your business? Are you full of new initiatives, or are you a stuck in a box and starting to cool off?

It might be an idea to talk to us at CC Limited. If you decide like us and want to work with us, we should able to come up with some new approaches. The thing about us is, although we have all sorts of ideas, our creativity is grounded by solid commercial experience and a focus on what works, rather than showing off.

Give us a call, or send us a message.

Opt-In Marketing

CC Ltd

3 Fern Close
Rugby
Warwickshire
CV23 0UQ

T: 01788 334696
Email Us

Phil Smith

Phil Smith

Wordsmith

error
Top 10 tips for cooking up an investment pitch

Top 10 tips for cooking up an investment pitch

Anyone who knows me well is aware that I am something of a foodie. After living in Italy for a few years I came to love the way they approach family mealtimes and we do the same at home. It’s a time for conversation and debates and friends are always welcome.

As well as doing a lot of cooking, I also find myself drawn inescapably to culinary programmes on television.

The other night I was watching My Million Pound Menu on BBC 2. I suppose you could say it contains elements of Masterchef, Dragon’s Den and The Apprentice. Hosted by top maître d’hôtel Fred Sirieix, the show is billed as “a battle for investment between new restaurant ideas”.

The budding chefs are asked to cook their signature dish, pitch their concept and say how much of an investment they are looking for. Many of them are already in business in real life, something that usually consists of delighting a loyal bunch of followers from a street food van. By coming on this show, they are hoping to find a fast way to scale up.

The team of investors sample their dishes and collectively decide which has the most potential. The lucky winner gets to go to Manchester and run a 40-seater pop-up restaurant for a three-day trial and see if they can make a profit.

Obviously, being a marketing strategist as well as a foodie, this really appeals to me.

For most of the contestants, doing what they do best is the easier part. They usually make a good job of cooking and serving delicious food to appreciative diners. The problems arrive when they have to attend a meeting with their investors to go through their business plan.

As is often the case for people who have set up a business based around their talent or passion, they have no problem focusing on delivering to customers, sourcing ingredients and planning the next dish. Working in the business is the relatively easy and fun bit. What doesn’t come so naturally is working on the business.

It amazes me that the chefs, despite their lack of business knowledge and experience, often compile their own numbers and projections without consulting someone who can assist them in getting to the next level. They may be great at creating food, but it’s not so clever for them to be cooking up figures.

Are you planning to upscale your own business? If you are hoping to gain investment, are you taking the time to consult someone who has done this sort of thing before?

An outside view can be very valuable. Understanding where your weaknesses and gaps are will help in your expansion.

There are cases where an entrepreneur has asked for a million pounds for an idea on a back of a Post-It note and been successful. But such stories are few and far between and the odds are stacked against you.

The exercise can become expensive. But this doesn’t have to be the case if you focus on the important aspects.

Here are my top ten ingredients for putting together a delicious investment pitch:

  1. Think of this from a business objective. Create a team that are not just operational.
  2. Define your market and your differentiating characteristic.
  3. Make a plan of what “good” looks like.
  4. Define your perfect customer (this will change).
  5. Avoid the temptation to be over ambitious with your first step.
  6. Plan key milestones and costs
  7. Make sure everyone inside the business knows your elevator pitch. They should be able to explain the company they work for and why it is exceptional.
  8. Focus on no more than 3 entry points to market.
  9. Put together a budget with your projections.
  10. Create a communication plan aligned to your proposed brand and don’t be afraid to call for help.

Just remember: we’ve all had our disasters but having it planned out certainly makes it easier and reduces the risk of errors.

If you have a business and are serious about making a pitch for the investment in your next stage, it is worth talking to us at CC Limited. We have experience of this sort of thing, having helped put together successful plans in a number of different sectors. Plus, we have the commercial and creative talent in house to help with every aspect of your planning and communication.

Give me a call or send me a message. We can have a chat, perhaps set up a meeting. You might even end up being invited to one of our family dinners. There’s always a space free.

Opt-In Marketing

CC Ltd

3 Fern Close
Rugby
Warwickshire
CV23 0UQ

T: 01788 334696
Email Us

Mickey Clarke

Mickey Clarke

error
A ‘Go To Market’ plan is essential. Here’s an example of a recent one we created.

A ‘Go To Market’ plan is essential. Here’s an example of a recent one we created.

When you work with CC, you don’t just get a regular marketing agency. Commercial awareness is one of our key strengths and this is reflected in how we work with clients in order to grow sales.

The most important first step in any project is to make sure it is worth undertaking. You can’t do this without first having market knowledge, doing the research and establishing a clear, thought-out strategy.

Here’s an example of one of our latest ‘Go To Market’ planning processes undertaken with a client. Prodose are experts in everything to do with disinfection of water and monitoring and control of water systems – be it for drinking water in buildings, use in food production etc.

In a nutshell, Prodose are special because of their high level of expertise. Not only are they able to supply all the technical equipment and provide practical support: they are able to recommend the very best system for each project because they have specialist knowledge in chemical engineering.

When they got in touch with us, they were wanting to move into new sectors and establish themselves amongst new types of client. They had worked with businesses who do salad and produce washing and wanted more of this, but also aspired to do more with the food-to-go sector.

Another key area into which Prodose wished to gain more business is building services – providing water treatment and monitoring systems for commercial buildings, apartment blocks, stadiums, etc.

This involved both research and strategic planning. Here are the key steps we undertook.

Creating value proposition

Here we defined Prodose as “The Disinfection Experts” and clarified their values, unique proposition etc.

 

 

Set out objectives

Worked out exactly who they wanted to approach and why.

 

 

 

Created strategic planning map

Visual representation of the market, sectors, services and how it all fits together. We present this in the form of a ‘mind map’.

 

 

Define active sales pipeline

Research and create list of qualified prospects

 

 

 

Competitor analysis

Product pricing — looked at competitor pricing and developed strategy

 

 

 

Industry trends and statistics

We look into what is happening in the industry and related sectors and find information and figures that can be of use in defining priorities and shaping future direction.

 

 

Existing and perfect customer profiles

Define ideal client companies in terms of size, sectors served, current situation etc.

 

 

 

Action plan

Bring everything together in an easy to follow plan that can be understood by everyone in the business and marketing team who needs to follow it.

 

 

 

All of the above has been presented in graphical form, with tables, diagrams and mind maps that make it easy for everyone who is invested in the project to focus on what needs to be done and where the business is headed.

If you want to make sure your next project has clarity, direction and focus on results, talk to us. We’ll be pleased to have an initial conversation, where you can decide how much the CC approach can help you.

Opt-In Marketing

CC Ltd

3 Fern Close
Rugby
Warwickshire
CV23 0UQ

T: 01788 334696
Email Us

error
How GDPR can actually be good for your business.

How GDPR can actually be good for your business.

If you’ve been paying any attention in the business world of late, you’ll be aware that GDPR comes into force this year. In case you’d forgotten, it stands for General Data Protection Regulation.

This is the piece of Europe-wide legislation that will become part of British law (and will remain so regardless of what happens in the near future with you-know-what).

GDPR supersedes the Data Protection Act and one of the main changes is that now, not only do you have to take steps to protect third party data, you also have to be able to demonstrate that you have people’s permission to hold their data.

There are a lot of myths going about, one of which is that it doesn’t apply to small businesses. In fact, it does – but this doesn’t have to be a negative. It is actually a great opportunity to update and improve your data handling. You also have a chance to demonstrate your professionalism to your customers.

Our own Mickey Clarke has been delivering presentations on the subject of GDPR, helping business owners understand their responsibilities, busting myths and providing practical, sensible advice on how to comply without doing more than is necessary.

Earlier this year we teamed up with our affiliate partners GDPR Happy! Owner Tracey Coetzee specialises in helping businesses become GDPR compliant. Together with Tracey we can put together a training session for any size of group and tailor it to your area of business and the knowledge level of the delegates.
As an example, we recently presented a session for 60 members of the Event Photography Society. They told us it was “overwhelmingly useful”.

Whatever your current situation, your business can get real value from one of these sessions.

If you are involved with a networking organisation or a group that brings together businesses from the same sector, we would be very interested in hearing from you.

Opt-In Marketing

CC Ltd

3 Fern Close
Rugby
Warwickshire
CV23 0UQ

T: 01788 334696
Email Us

error
How I acted as a hostage negotiator for 120 Italians

How I acted as a hostage negotiator for 120 Italians

Follow by Email
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
LinkedIn

cc-ltd-mickey-clarke-strategist-customer-liaison-people-person-marketing-ideas-strategy-blank-sheet-marketing-creative-creativity-design

At Stansted Airport over Christmas, Mickey became the star of her very own Italian epic

You may recall that the day after Boxing Day 2017, we had some snow. I remember it very well, because it was the catalyst for the most bizarre airport experience of my life.

I was travelling with my husband and daughter. Destination: Lucca, Italy where my sister lives and where I also resided for a number of years – something that helped me become very fluent in Italian.

The snowy conditions had already caused a two hour road journey to Stansted Airport to extend to three hours. Thankfully we had set off in plenty of time for our evening flight, so everything was fine.

Err… fine that is until we set foot in the terminal building. The hall was filled with many people of various nationalities travelling to a number of different destinations. They all had one thing in common: none of them had any idea what was going on, or if and when they were ever going to fly.

We were now amongst them. It was like being trapped in a war zone. There were hardly any staff in sight. There was nothing on the boards. It was almost impossible to get any information.

People were coming back from departure gates, some of them in tears.

At this stage, we still hadn’t been allocated a gate number. It became clear that the vast majority of people travelling on our flight were Italian. I talked to a few of them, most of whom were aggrieved and frustrated.

After a three and a half hour wait, we eventually learned which gate we were due to depart from. We appeared to have been mixed in with a flight bound for Alicante.

A Ryanair plane was at the terminal. Was this ours? Then, suddenly, around 100 of us were allowed to go down the bridging tunnel that led to a set of steps, which we would descend before walking to the plane.

Except, we didn’t get that far. At the end of the tunnel section, the doors were locked. We waited a while. What was going on?

Some of the more restless passengers had decided to try and go back to the departure lounge to find out what was happening. They discovered that the doors were locked in that direction too.

So we were now locked in a tunnel with two other British passengers and around 120 somewhat annoyed Italians.

More and more of them started to realise that I spoke both Italian and English, so I ended up becoming the spokesperson for the group.

At the end of the tunnel was one of those wall-mounted red telephones with a sign saying, “For Emergency Use Only”. Well, you know what it’s like being a Brit. We don’t like to make a fuss. It has to be a real emergency to pick up such a phone.

I thought, “We’ve got 120 people locked in a tunnel with some of them getting very annoyed and banging on the doors”. One gent in particular appeared to be on the verge of losing it. “OK”, I thought, “This is now enough of an emergency”. I picked up the phone.

The man on the end of the line said there was nothing he could do, and that it was all the fault of the people at the departure gate for letting us in.

Eventually, after much hammering and shouting on the door back to the departure lounge, one of the staff came and opened it. He told us we couldn’t be allowed back into the departure lounge because we’d already been checked through.

I was also informed that the reason we couldn’t get on the plane because two disabled passengers who had been on the incoming flight were still stuck on the aircraft because there were no special assistants available to help take them off.

Some of the Italians who had come with me decided to vent their frustration by shouting at him in their native language. I managed to placate them, but then had to go back down the corridor and explain all this to the others.

By this point, I became aware that I had become known to my fellow passengers as “L’interprete” or “The Interpreter”. Obviously this was not because of my likeness to Nicole Kidman, but purely down to my linguistic ability.

I had to explain to them that, no, they were not going to be allowed to remove the disabled passenger themselves, and also that it was really not a good idea to call the police and say they were being held hostage at the airport (I suspected that the possible arrival of the SAS might delay us even further).

I spoke to man on the red line again. By now it was 11:30 pm and I got the feeling I was interrupting his evening. He’d possibly just made himself a cup of cocoa and I was now disturbing him. But, I had to insist that there was no way I was going to tell 120 Italians that they were not going to be allowed to go to the toilet and that we were going to go back into the departure area whether the staff liked it or not.

Four and a half hours later than scheduled, we boarded. As we were flying over the Alps, the captain came over the intercom to say there was a problem.

“Are we going to be locked into the plane on landing?” I mused. Or maybe he was about to tell us we were doomed to crash into a mountain.

After these thoughts flashed into my mind, it was something of a relief to hear that Pisa Airport was closed, and that we were being diverted to Bologna. Which meant a 2.5 hour coach trip on landing. Joy.

On reaching our destination around 7 am, we only had to wait a further hour for the car hire centre to open. All in all then, a relaxing journey!

Now, at the end of a blog it is customary to sum up what business lessons we can learn.

Well, I think it’s safe to say that keeping up communication with your clients, especially when things don’t go as planned, is much better than telling them nothing.

It’s also fair conclude that locking 120 paying customers in a tunnel and not letting them go to the toilet isn’t the best PR strategy if you are looking for future word of mouth recommendations.

Having said that, I can attest to the eternal power of networking and using your abilities to their full potential. Thankfully, my Italian skills helped keep the lid on a situation which otherwise might have been even more fraught than it was. Plus, by chatting to fellow passengers I made a couple of very nice new friends.

Maybe next time you’re held up somewhere, you might find your next client. I just hope it’s not the man on the end of the red telephone.

Do you have a product or a new initiative to launch?

Have you thought about how you are going to do it? Could you with some ideas and help in making them a reality? Sounds like it’s time to get in touch with CC.

Opt-In Marketing

CC Ltd

3 Fern Close
Rugby
Warwickshire
CV23 0UQ

T: 01788 334696
Email Us

error