Fighting in the Workplace

Most readers will be aware of the heavily publicised issue of Jeremy Clarkson’s recent bust-up with the BBC. It this alleged that Clarkson had punched and bloodied the face of an Irish BBC Producer working on the Top Gear show after allegedly not receiving his dinner. While clients may only be interested in this story from an entertainment perspective, there is employment law in the very foundation of this issue, and the BBC will follow procedures and come up against disciplinary issues that most clients will encounter at some point in their business.

Intoxicants at Work

Firstly this issue allegedly arose from Clarkson and his Top Gear co-presenters James May and Richard Hammond, arriving back to work after enjoying drinks at lunch. That alcohol, violent behaviour, high ranking status within the company, and much publicised previous media expose comes into play, the BBC must ensure their reputation is not damaged further by this incident. Returning or arriving to work while under the influence of alcohol is something that every company should take a zero tolerance approach to and each employer should have a specific written policy on intoxicants in the workplace. Regardless of the severity of the incident, or level of affect the alcohol has had on the employee, investigations should always be looked at so as to stamp out any repeats of such behaviour, and show how serious the company views such issues. Whilst dismissal is always a potential with gross misconduct cases, a first and final written warning can be an alternative if mitigating circumstances were to come to light where the employee advises of alcohol issues, as failure to consider such mitigating circumstances would lead to a strong case for unfair dismissal due to equality areas (alcoholism being classed as a disability) coming into play.

Disciplinary Process

That Clarkson is a high ranking employee within the company would mean that like any high level disciplinary issue, the company may find it difficult to find the appropriate investigating officer who has not been involved in the case to date. Therefore, it could be a case that the company go with an external third party investigator to come in and deal with the disciplinary case from start to finish. The benefits of this are that there can be no argument of any biased opinion due to work relationships involved, and that there is no damaging of work relationships after the end of the process due to the investigations which took place. The external investigator(s) can simply come in as unknowns, and leave having fully and impartially investigated the incident and made their decision on the outcome to the company. From their own option, this impartiality would be key in their decision and tabloid coverage as well as misleading information on the case must all be avoided, nor form any part of the investigation itself.

Paid Suspension

One key learning aspect from the Clarkson case is the speed with which the BBC suspended the employee in light of the allegations. As with any case of gross misconduct, the speed of suspension is key. Allowing employees to work on in their roles after a gross misconduct issue has come to light will only significantly weaken the company’s defence that the gross misconduct dismissal was warranted when the employee was allowed to work on for even a short period of time. The argument for this is that the employment trust could not be breached irrevocably if the employee was allowed to work on after the incident.

Witness Statements and Evidence

Witness statements, like any serious incident, will prove key in this case and the validity of witness statements will be closely scrutinised due to the friends and co-workers present at the time. Should there be CCTV footage of the incident the company will have to use this as a key part of their investigation. BBC’s CCTV policy would no doubt outline that CCTV footage can be used as evidence in disciplinary cases and Clarkson would have to be allowed to view this footage prior to any formal disciplinary investigation.

Negative Publicity

Finally the recent media coverage would also suggest that Clarkson will indeed pursue legal action against the company should he be dismissed. This news, along with the onslaught the BBC has received from previous cases of failure to address employee issues correctly, would mean that this case, will put all the more pressure on the company to be procedurally perfect in their approach to this case from an employment law perspective. How much employers can learn from the case will come to light as the case progresses further but at the minute, aside from the publicity and media profiles involved, its employment law roots are no different than any other gross misconduct investigation. This matter is also a prime example of how internal disciplinary matters can result in negative publicity for an employer, particularly if the matter proceeds to a tribunal and a publically available decision is issued.

If you encounter any alleged fighting in the workplace, intoxicant issues, etc. then please seek advice from our 24 Hour Advice Service on 01 855 50 50.

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26 countries involved in Climate Launchpad

26 countries (and counting)

We are growing. Fast. ClimateLaunchpad is now up and running in 26 countries. Aspiring entrepreneurs with an idea to tackle climate change can enter in their own country. Our cleantech business idea competition takes them on a rousing ride, with a 2-day Business Boot Camp, 6 follow-up Coaching Sessions and a National Final. It all leads up to the thrilling European Final in the Netherlands in September. Europe’s top-8 ideas win direct access to Climate-KIC Accelerator, the only EU business acceleration programme focused on cleantech commercialisation. The European Final top-3 win money prizes ranging from € 2,500 to € 10,000.

Open for applications

Does your business idea tackle climate change? Even if the idea is still on the back of a napkin, you could be the next cleantech hero. Closure dates in Ireland and Slovenia have passed, but we’re still open in 24 countries. Don’t miss out, check the application deadline for your country now. For Ireland you have until Monday. Contact ron@smallbusinesscan.com.

Spread the word

Please share this e-mail with all your friends, colleagues and former classmates. ClimateLaunchpad could be their ticket to European and global success.

Last year’s winner

In 2014 Sara West and Alexander Torstenfeldt won the spectacular European Final in Valencia. Wavetube is their venture based on the idea to produce renewable energy from the motion of ocean waves. Sara tells us what happened since they won the 2014 edition:

‘ClimateLaunchpad has opened up a vast network and expertise that we can easily access as we accelerate our development. Right now we are entering a very critical stage where we are refining the design of our wave power solution in order to maximise the efficiency. We will perform experimental tests in Northern Ireland during the summer before we move on to demonstrating the Wavetube solution in its real environment: the ocean.’ Read the whole story.

Curious about the other winners?

Stay tuned on Facebook and Twitter and follow the updates.

A ClimateLaunchpad glimpse

Check this video for a flashback to the 2014 edition and to get an idea of what to expect for this year’s competition.

The post 26 countries involved in Climate Launchpad appeared first on Small Business Can.

26 counties involved in Climate Launchpad

26 countries (and counting)

We are growing. Fast. ClimateLaunchpad is now up and running in 26 countries. Aspiring entrepreneurs with an idea to tackle climate change can enter in their own country. Our cleantech business idea competition takes them on a rousing ride, with a 2-day Business Boot Camp, 6 follow-up Coaching Sessions and a National Final. It all leads up to the thrilling European Final in the Netherlands in September. Europe’s top-8 ideas win direct access to Climate-KIC Accelerator, the only EU business acceleration programme focused on cleantech commercialisation. The European Final top-3 win money prizes ranging from € 2,500 to € 10,000.

Open for applications

Does your business idea tackle climate change? Even if the idea is still on the back of a napkin, you could be the next cleantech hero. Closure dates in Ireland and Slovenia have passed, but we’re still open in 24 countries. Don’t miss out, check the application deadline for your country now. For Ireland you have until Monday. Contact ron@smallbusinesscan.com.

Spread the word

Please share this e-mail with all your friends, colleagues and former classmates. ClimateLaunchpad could be their ticket to European and global success.

Last year’s winner

In 2014 Sara West and Alexander Torstenfeldt won the spectacular European Final in Valencia. Wavetube is their venture based on the idea to produce renewable energy from the motion of ocean waves. Sara tells us what happened since they won the 2014 edition:

‘ClimateLaunchpad has opened up a vast network and expertise that we can easily access as we accelerate our development. Right now we are entering a very critical stage where we are refining the design of our wave power solution in order to maximise the efficiency. We will perform experimental tests in Northern Ireland during the summer before we move on to demonstrating the Wavetube solution in its real environment: the ocean.’ Read the whole story.

Curious about the other winners?

Stay tuned on Facebook and Twitter and follow the updates.

A ClimateLaunchpad glimpse

Check this video for a flashback to the 2014 edition and to get an idea of what to expect for this year’s competition.

The post 26 counties involved in Climate Launchpad appeared first on Small Business Can.

Event: Cork Regional Briefing for the Startup Gathering 2015

Startup Ireland & Cork innovates invites you to attend a briefing session & discussion forum on the Startup Gathering 2015 #SG2015 – Start, Scale, Succeed from Ireland.

Mission

Mission of this event is to make Ireland a global startup hub by 2020 by maximising Ireland’s entrepreneurial talent pipeline and the clusters that accelerate them.

Vision

Vision of the Startup Gathering 2015 is that international scale up companies choose the cities of Ireland as their location of choice based on the industry strengths present in each city and to have the information, contacts and supports to accelerate their plans. These scale-ups will in turn have positive spill-over benefits to indigenous startups.

#SG2015

The 2015 Startup Gathering is an inaugural national expo showcasing Ireland’s startup sector both nationally and internationally across five industries in five cities during five days from October 5th – 10th next. To hear more about what is proposed and to get involved please join us on 27 April. Please RSVP to hello@corkinnovates.com

Date: Monday 27 April
Time: 3.00 pm – 5.30 pm
Location: Convention Centre, Silver Springs Moran Hotel, Cork
Room: Tara Suite
Access: Enter the main hotel entrance, take the road on the left and follow the road to the back of the hotel right to the front door of the Convention Centre.
Parking: Available behind the centreThe Startup Ireland Partnership is not-for-profit alliance of key public and private sector stakeholders dedicated to the goal of making Ireland a global startup hub by 2020.

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When is it Time to Move out of Your Home Office?

You may not think that your business is ready to move out of your house office, but why would you ever want to leave the comfort of your home? The answer to that question is your business is just like a kid, you can nurture it and and raise it from your home, but you will never be able to fully grow it without taking it out of your home office and into the real business world. So when is the right time to move out of your home office and into the big, bad world?

Customers surveyed from all over the world have declared more than once how much it matters to them to be able to visit a business just once before deciding to do business with them. Having a business office can get you on the road to dedicating full days at hour without any interruptions. Free conference call is one thing, but being present is a whole other.

Believe it or not, no matter how dedicated and organized you are, you waste a whole lot of time when you work from home. You may need to eat a meal here and there, or you might need to go stop by somewhere real fast. The thing is about home offices, they are at home, and home is where your mind is designed to be at its most comfortable. If you just started a business and still don’t know how it’s going to go, then you should stay at home and work from there. But if you are getting customer emails and inquiries a lot, and you have income coming in from your business, it is definitely the time for you to take your office outside your home and into a new location.

Here are the benefits of operating your business out of your home. Until you know you can handle all these expenses without going under, stay in your home office:

  • Gas Money – The amount of money saved on driving back and forth from work will ensure that you aren’t adding any expenses to your business.
  • Saves Time – If you are still overwhelmed with work, the worst thing you can do is waste any time on driving to and from work, and that’s not to mention the amount of traffic that you will deal with on a regular basis just to get to work.
  • Office Space – Moving to a new office will cost a lot of money every month.
  • Utilities – Electricity, Water, and Gas is a must in every office regardless of the need for them.
  • Office Furniture – Desks, Chairs, etc.

There are a lot of expenses associated with moving out of your home office and into a real office. Unless your business is doing really good and you are ready for a huge transition, moving to an office may not be such a good idea. The office space itself is going to cost the business a fortune to run properly. After installing AC’s and all the furniture, there has to be a staff which is going to be a whole new ball field in the business life. The worst thing a business could do is move too fast and rush into anything before it’s prepared.

Here is how you could tell when its time to move your small business out of your home office:

Hiring Employees

If you want the business to grow then you need to hire employees. Some businesses start their expansions by hiring employees to also work from home, but eventually when you need to branch out your business and start growing, move out to an office and hire employees to work full time shifts from there.

Accomplish More Work

If you can’t get any work at home and you need to get more work done to catch up to your business, then it’s time to move to an office. If watching TV is a problem then you need to go somewhere there is no TV. Moving your work away from any distractions increases your productivity by at least double the amount.

Increase Your Profits

If your business is successful, then you need a place for your customers to visit you for your services. Make sure you are visible and available to your customers. A growing business is only as big as its customer base, and the only way to attract customers is to have a place for them to visit you in. Just by opening an office and hosting a grand opening, a huge increase in your business is going to happen.

Grow Your Business Inside Out

Having a business can put an individual through a lot, and it is nice to be able to work on growing your business while you are surrounded with people who are working for the same objective. Having employees working for you will motivate you to grow your business from every angle.

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How to Make Meetings More Productive: 5 Tips to Stimulate Employee Engagement

So, how to make meetings more productive? Is it the sound of chirping crickets? If that’s the case, your meetings may be suffering from a lack of employee engagement. And it’s not entirely the employee’s fault.

According to researchers, many of today’s corporate employees view meetings as time-wasting interruptions that feel a lot like lectures and leave them little room to express their own opinions and ideas. And so they become disengaged, quietly waiting until the meeting ends so they can get back to being productive.

If your last meeting seemed to prompt more shrugged shoulders and glazed expressions than raised arms, try these five tips to stimulate employee engagement at your next meeting.

  1. Change it up

Meetings that are formulaic and predictable are very effective—that is if your goal is to kill employee interest and engagement right off the bat. So lose those tired “this is the way we’ve always done it” habits and start changing things up. If the meeting is always held in the same room, try moving it to another suitable location. If managers and employees always default to the same old seating arrangement, mix things up so that all are encouraged to sit by others they normally wouldn’t. An easy way to do this is to greet people as they arrive at the meeting, hand them a colored slip of paper and ask them to take a seat with a corresponding colored dot affixed to it. Even little changes in the routine can bring new energy into a meeting that can spark higher levels of interest and engagement.

  1. Encourage participation

All too often, rigid adherence to preset agendas leaves little room for employees to express their ideas and opinions during company meetings. Encourage participation from all employees, including those outside the physical office. In this day and age we have great tools like video conferencing that connect people from any location. Wherever the employees are at, engagement will be encouraged with a safe-to-speak atmosphere of open discussion—where all ideas and opinions are considered. Ideally, this atmosphere should be an extension of a healthy corporate culture that already exists within the organization.

  1. Make pre-meeting assignments

Employee engagement comes from empowerment, and that comes from being informed and prepared prior to attending a meeting. Assigning employees or teams (that tend to hang back during meetings) to prepare ideas and potential solutions regarding a specific problem that will be discussed during an upcoming meeting is a smart way to facilitate active participation. To take it a step further, assigning a non-manager employee to run the next meeting could be an effective way to break down barriers between management and employees, resulting in greater participation and engagement during the meeting and better communication and collaboration afterward.

  1. Give positive feedback and recognition

Feeling that efforts and ideas are valued and appreciated is a major driver of employee engagement. And few things generate more interest and engagement during meetings than receiving positive feedback and recognition—in front of their peers—for the thoughts and ideas they share. Organizations struggling to implement effective employee recognition and rewards programs will discover that greater engagement leads to better employee performance—and as a result better employee recognition.

  1. Take quick and positive post-meeting action

As important as recognizing contributions during meetings is, acting on employee ideas and feedback in positive ways after the meeting ends is even more critical. After all, actions show employees better than words ever could that they are being listened to and taken seriously. And the realization that the company respects them is a strong driver of employee participation, contribution and engagement, not just during meetings but also in each and every aspect of their jobs.

All and all, work to set goals and be proactive in changing up your meeting format so everyone can get something out of it.

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Using Promotional Products Effectively

Using promotional products is one of the easiest and most cost-efficient ways that a business can directly reach it’s target market. But, as with any type of marketing, using promotional products as a tactic is only effective if it’s implemented properly. In this post we discuss how to use promotional products effectively in your business.

For businesses operating on a tight budget, investing time in selecting the right products and identifying the right recipients is time well spent. Although direct marketing and promotional products are not generally considered together, using promotional products is not only one of the most effective direct marketing tactics but because they can be laser targeted to exactly the recipients you choose, there is no waste.

When considering the use of branded products, there are 3 main factors that need to be considered: These include your target audience; your method of distribution; and the items to be selected.

1. Your Target Audience

First and foremost, it’s important to identify who to target. Using promotional products can be effective, when you reach the right people, in other words, those people who are most likely to actually make use of your services or can heavily influence decision makers. The recipients you choose could be existing clients, potential clients your business is calling on, people in your networks or if you’re attending an event, there may be an attendee list you could scrutinize in advance.

2. Distributing Branded Merchandise & Corporate Gifts

When considering the distribution of promotional products there are several options: via mail, which is also known in the direct marketing business as “lumpy mail” and has the added benefit of generating curiosity, therefore it gets the attention of the recipient; Another great option is to give the item personally to the recipient as a gift; as part of the personal selling process; at trade shows; or for cheaper items, to allow event attendees to take them for themselves.

3. Selecting the Right Items

Selecting the right promotional items is somewhat of an art but there are a few guidelines that can be followed. Possibly one of the most desirable attributes of giving a promotional item it the length of time the item is kept by the recipient.

Research by Robert Cialdini and others have found that the more useful and remarkable a gift is, the more likely it will be kept for a long time. The author of this article once received an expensive pen from an engineering company which she kept for 11 years. The pen served as a reminder of the great experience of buying a very expensive piece of equipment and contributed to the goodwill established by the vendor for a very long time afterwards. Looking back, it is clear that the engineering company put a lot of effort into building a strong and lasting relationship in which both companies benefited. The pen was presented with a smile, as though it was a gift from a dear friend, in an encounter that was memorable (it was given over 2 decades ago!) and had a lot of impact. Although it’s not necessary to invest in expensive items, the marketing objectives need to be taken into account.

Another desirable attribute is that the item be useful. The more useful the item is, the more likely it is to be used and serve as a daily reminder of your business and the importance you place on the relationship. The most coveted locations for your promotional products are on the person, on their desk or in a placed where it is used or seen regularly. It’s worth considering what’s important to the recipient, their interests, hobbies, activities and so on and choosing something in line with what they find valuable, so that they use it often. For example, a mug in the shape of a camera lens might be a great gift for photographers.

Many SMEs have found that using promotional products to help promote their business and generate goodwill is a simple, affordable and flexible approach to influencing the people who are important to the business. And done well can deliver outstanding results – check out some of the research carried out by Promotional Products Association International (PPAI).

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Are You an Entrepreneur? – 10 Telltale Signs

Are You an Entrepreneur? It is thrilling, punishing, exhausting and emotionally draining, yet at the end of the day, starting your business is one of the most rewarding experiences in life. It is no wonder then that 87% of topics tackled in mentorship forums by The Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ASBE) revolve around success in entrepreneurship.

The U.S Small Business Administration (SBA) reports that over 93% of all queries in its mentorship programs also have to do with the rigorous task of making it as an entrepreneur. The picture is no different at the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship® (USASABE) with startup investors intensively asking for assistance to make it as entrepreneurs.

Is Entrepreneurship Innate or a Trainable Skill?

So, is entrepreneurship a skill that can be taught or is it inherent? Was it special skills that enabled Mark Zuckerberg to see a larger picture for Facemash, the precursor of Facebook, which others in his coterie of friends could not see? In all forums, the late Steve Jobs portrayed confidence that revealed he was born an entrepreneur and these are traits you see in Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and many more successful entrepreneurs.

Reading the Signs that you are an Entrepreneur

Well, various studies have shown there are telltale signs you can use to gauge your probability of success as an entrepreneur. Indeed, maverick contemporary entrepreneurs from Virgin’s Richard Branson to Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban show similar traits.

Studies by myriad varied organizations including Harvard School of Business, Gallup and Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) and Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), among other bodies, attest to existence of such traits.

Here are some highlights of these signs which can set you on a path of confidence towards business success:

  1. Persistent Restlessness

The saying that you should never sit on your laurels applies aptly for any credible entrepreneur. If you are a go-getter, who achieves one goal and immediately starts hustling for another challenge, you have what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur.

  1. Family Lineage of Self-employment

It might seem like splitting hairs when you say most successful entrepreneurs come from families with a heritage of self-employment, but the numbers prove it. A study by the world renowned Stockholm School of Economics in 2010 showed that 49.5% of nascent entrepreneurs had self-employed parents compared to 37.3% in the control group. A clue here; Bill Gates is the son of William H. Gates, a business magnate. Need you doubt further?

  1. Your Passion is Inborn

If you are a go-getter, who lets nothing come between a project and its objectives to be achieved, then you can ace it as an entrepreneur in today’s increasingly tough business environment. Failure never affects a born entrepreneur because their passion is inborn.

  1. You are a Gadfly

When Socrates was forced to drink hemlock and die, the poignant statement the revered scholar made still applies in modern life. The Greek teacher said he was a gadfly who’d keep pestering the horse, which in this case represented the state.

In business, a born entrepreneur is never satisfied with the status quo and wants to know more. Just look at Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Program to take ordinary people to space, or successful Movie producer James Cameron’s DEEP SEA CHALLENGER voyage to the remotest part of the earth – Mariana Trench – to appreciate this sign.

  1. Self-confidence is Your Nature

When Mark Zuckerberg bought WhatsApp for $19 billion, every pundit thought money was making the young Billionaire go bonkers. However, Zuckerberg was adamant and the buy went through. Today, WhatsApp is not only the most popular App in the world; Facebook has been able to monetize the messaging platform. Such self-confidence is only evident in natural entrepreneurs.

  1. You are a Control Freak

On paper, this might seem like a negative quality until you get into the intricate business world where myriad aspects of your business determine your success. Your success depends on how much control you are willing to yield.

As an entrepreneur, you need to have a feel of every aspect of your business, and while this can be detrimental, it is a trait seen in some of the most successful entrepreneurs including the late Steve Jobs, Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary and Bill Gates, among others.

  1. You are Independent Minded

If you have always had a problem with authority, then it is highly likely that you cannot tolerate being employed.  It is a trait seen in Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerbereg, among other billionaires, who dropped out of college as they were uncomfortable with being confined in terms of thinking and application of their genius.

  1. You have a Magnet Effect

While successful entrepreneurs may look aloof, you will be surprised to learn they are really amiable if you have similar interests. They have an effect of pulling like-minded individuals towards them and unusual, albeit profitable, partnerships are born from such character.

  1. Risk Taking

The music industry is one of the most perilous and if an artist makes the wrong choice in terms of a recording label, then they are done for.

Well, the most prolific entrepreneurs in this industry, including billionaires Shawn Carter (Jay Z), who is worth over $520 million, Andre Romelle Young (Dr. Dre), who is worth $550 million, and Sean Combs (P. Diddy) worth over $700 million, have proven that risking is natural to born entrepreneurs. All these music moguls made career suicidal record label moves, but today they are the kingpins.

  1. You are a Doer

One of the most glaring misconceptions about contemporary successful entrepreneurs is that they depend entirely on their skilled staff for ideas and implementation. If this is what you thought then you are wrong.

Facebook’s Zuckerberg is a hands-on project freak, Virgin Group’s Richard Branson is always on the ground even when problems occur, Warren Buffet is always talking and working numbers and Dr. Dre is still producing hits at 50 years. Mind you, these are just a few of the entrepreneurs you can cite in terms of breaking their backs for success.

Well, they say there is no secret to entrepreneurship success, but looking at these 10 traits vis-à-vis the Forbes Top 100 Entrepreneurs, it is obvious there is a correlation. Luckily, you can always surprise everyone by joining this league without these traits. After all, this entire list does not forestall your entrepreneurial success.

Author Bio

Charlie Brown is a web developer and UI/UX specialist at BigDropInc.com. He works at a design, branding and marketing firm, having founded the same firm 5 years ago. He likes to share knowledge and points of view with other developers and consumers on platforms.

The post Are You an Entrepreneur? – 10 Telltale Signs appeared first on Small Business Can.

Internet Of Things – Fueling Marketing Revolution With Connected Life

In our everyday life, we come across various technological revolutions that impact everything we do. However, how many of us have actually been impacted with a new gigantic wave which has completely changed the entire technological realm. Today’s topic of discussion revolves around one such gigantic advancement that has provided marketers with countless opportunities to create a WOW experience for customers.

Internet of Things (IoT) is driving every marketer to bring some smart revolutionary changes in the technological sphere. According to recent research, IoT ranked as the second most important area in 2015 in many countries and would have the biggest effect on marketers by 2020. The installation base of IoT devices worldwide would rise from 4.88 billion to nearly 25.01 billion between 2015 and 2020. The UK Government announced that they will spend an additional £45m on developing Internet of Things enabled technology. Not only in technology, but IoT has successfully influenced other sectors such as insurance marketers for better engagement of consumers.

Internet Of Things (IoT)

IoT is the network of dedicated physical objects that comprises of embedded technology to sense and interact with external environment or their internal state. IoT contains an ecosystem that consists of applications, data analysis, things and communication.

What Can Be Currently Achieved With IoT, From Marketing Perspective?

The buzz is that every device will soon get connected to the internet, which will boost productivity and reduce energy needs.

Easy Availability Of Customer’s Data And Feedback

When every device can be programmed and tracked, it becomes easier for the marketers to collect and analyse the ever-increasing varieties of behavioural statistics of the consumers. The cross-correlation of data helps in revolutionising the targeted marketing of products and services. Marketers can now find the doors to any machine-to-machine derived information. They have enough opportunities to interact with consumers in new and exciting ways. The wealth of data can be utilised to deepen customer insights and optimise customer performance.

With new IoT devices being invented every other day, it represents opportunities to market new products and services. Marketers can deliver more personalised and engaging information to customers in the most relevant channels. Also with customer’s instant feedback, especially when a product isn’t living up to the expectation, retailers are able to cut their losses much sooner than later.

Smart Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

IoT when used in conjunction with CRM tool helps in gathering and organising client data. The technology embedded devices can streamline the buyer’s chain of command and decisions and help retailers understand where the prospects are in their buying journey. This enables marketers serve the right information and nurture the clients to close a deal.

It Is Not Just Banner Ads Or Pop-Ups Anymore

No longer will marketers have to rely on banner ads and pop-ups to let the world know about their products and services. The increasing numbers of connected devices fitted with sensors and constant network accessibility has entirely changed the face of advertising. With IoT advertisements, no prospects will be served with an advertisement that does not align perfectly with their interests, behaviours and past purchase. Not only will the consumers save time by being served with relevant ads but also the marketers save thousands of pounds after irrelevant advertisements.

The Smart IoT Devices And Marketing

With smart glasses such as Google Glass, marketers can display ads when users look at a particular item or take its picture. They can also deliver the right information at the right place and time especially when consumers use the device to check prices and research products while shopping.

Similarly, smart lighting system has enabled retailers to interact directly with visitors’ smartphones. For instance, it allows retailers to give shoppers directions to specific store items. Some of the LED system can also be connected with a mobile app that can be used to send targeted messages and coupons when customers are at a particular location within the store.

Most interestingly, if marketers can use Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags, it can present a number of potential opportunities for them. RFID serves as a tool to customise and enhance customer experience. Some retailers are using RFID smart tags to play tunes to the clothes that shoppers are trying on. They’re using the tunes or songs of celebrities that best match the style of the apparel. The aim is to put customers in the right purchasing mindset and help them imagine themselves wearing the perfect clothes. Undoubtedly, this creates an overall pleasant shopping experience.

A mass-market application of IoT in UK is the use of Hive. Hive is an app from British Gas that allows householders to control their central heating process via their smartphones. This innovation has substantially improved people’s everyday lives. The users can get hot water only when they need to, thereby reducing energy waste and saving money.

With data collected from the adopters of wearable tech, brands can better understand where and when shoppers might take action on a trigger. This is where the marketers can provide value and convenience to people using such devices.

How IoT Can Benefit An Organisation’s Business Goal?

As IoT can afford new opportunities in the next few years, it can drastically

  • Enhance customer satisfaction and engagement
  • Increase productivity operation and infrastructure
  • Improve product design and build new products
  • Reduce maintenance cost and system downtime.

Connected products provide brands with a direct, real time interface and interaction point with consumers. Marketers are looking forward to more limitless opportunities enabled by IoT. And with billions of new things becoming smarter with Internet Of Things, marketers will surely not let their marketing strategy remain ineffective.

The post Internet Of Things – Fueling Marketing Revolution With Connected Life appeared first on Small Business Can.

10 Killer B2B Lead Generation Tips

In the first part of this two-part series, I described some of the key challenges facing those in tech tasked with generating B2B leads. This article outlines some ideas to consider to help generate leads for your business. Read Part One, ‘Generating Leads In An Increasingly Difficult Environment‘. Read on for our 10 Killer B2B lead generation tips.

1. Nail The Product

Before you start, don’t ‘pass go’ unless your core offering is beautifully designed, easy to use, solves a real pain and offers significant value to a particular user group.

Today’s buyer is very sophisticated with high expectations as to the utility they require. Most undertake significant research online before engaging and will want the best solution for their needs. If your solution requires user training, or the need to read a training manual before starting, you need to talk to product development again. For the vast majority of applications the modern user simply does not have time to be trained on your solution (I am talking about general business/productivity apps here). This point is simply not negotiable.

Think Nest, Transferwise, Uber, Dropbox, Xero, and Workable.

2. Build A Personal Social Profile

Having an active LinkedIn and Twitter profile is vital for B2B lead generation. Take Twitter. Most people simply do not ‘get it’, using it largely as a broadcast mechanism, and bemoaning its inefficacy without realising how powerful it can be.

Build a personal Twitter account, follow those you can help and engage with them. Most Twitter users simply do not engage with business accounts (despite Twitter’s best efforts) but do engage with real people.

Publishing compelling content via LinkedIn Pulse can also get your name and offering in front of your target market (particularly when published in relevant LinkedIn groups). This content can be repurposed and republished elsewhere. Again the trick here is to engage and participate rather than just push content as a broadcaster. People buy from people, and personal accounts are a lot more effective than business accounts.

“Big companies understand the importance of brands. Today, in the Age of the Individual, you have to be your own brand”. (Tom Peters)

Think The Brand Called You (Tom Peters).

3. Test A Small Direct Mail Campaign

Personalised letters targeting a small segment can be very effective. I am not talking about an automatic printed label mass mail exercise here. Hand-written envelopes, plus tailored content that demonstrates a clear understanding of the prospect’s pain, can be very well received. Follow up with an email a few days later to try and secure a call or meeting. Targeting prospects in London? Why not include a £10 Starbucks card? While it pushes the cost of acquisition (CAC) up slightly, it is likely to help ensure your follow up receives a positive reaction. And assuming your Lifetime Value (LTV) exceeds the associated costs by some margin it is a valuable technique to test.

Think Personalisation.

4. Invest In Modern Low-Cost SaaS Tools

There are an increasing number of tools available that help source and manage leads through a sales funnel. These range from tools like Rapportive (a Chrome plug-in that sucks in details of people you are emailing including LinkedIn connections and Twitter handles) through to Mailtester (which is a great tool to use to guess someone’s email address). The range of CRM applications available for every budget continues to grow at pace, and newsletter applications like MailChimp and SensorPro offer a range of functionality as well as APIs into most CRM systems.

If you are driving traffic to a bespoke landing page, tools like Unbounce and CrazyEgg can help optimize conversions. Finally, a useful hack when assessing competitors is to take a look at their technology stack using Built With. The ‘analytics and tracking’ section is particularly interesting in terms of identifying what apps they are using to support their marketing efforts.

Be the ‘early adopter’ you want your targets to be.

5. Create Remarkable Content (Inbound Marketing)

Modern B2B marketing techniques rely heavily on the creation of remarkable content. The word remarkable is the key here. It is all too easy to produce low-brow content of little educational value (I hope the fact you are still reading at this point indicates some appreciation of remarkability). Remarkable content is content good enough that you want to share it.

The most effective content strategies start with a clear understanding of the customer and their needs (particularly the jobs they are looking to accomplish). It is designed to inform, amuse and educate, with the latter being particularly prevalent amongst B2B companies.

How do you know if your content is hitting the spot?

Measuring page views is a poor proxy. Depending on the platform used, the following represent better indicators: likes, comments left, click-throughs, retweet’s, time spent on page etc

Once the content has been published, the hard work starts as it is important to have a strategy in place to ‘get the message out’ using a range of channels (paid, owned and earned).

Think ‘Content Amplification’.

6. Capture Emails At Every Opportunity

Emails are the lifeblood of any B2B lead generation campaign. Not only do they enable you to push content directly to users, but you can schedule drip campaigns to help keep you ‘front of mind’. Email capture starts at the website with applications like Hello bars, scroll-triggered boxes and landing pages offering something of value (often white papers) in return for email addresses. The key to using these emails is to use them to provide value rather than to sell. You want to avoid a ‘one click unsubscribe’ scenario at all costs (where the newsletter recipients unsubscribes because it does not offer value).

Think Hubspot, Quicksprout and Moz.com.

7. Test A Referral Scheme

Assuming you have nailed the product as described above, and have evidence that your solution is offering real value i.e. you are gaining traction, have an improving cash flow and a Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 9 or 10, you should look to encourage existing users to promote to peers by incentivising them to share.

Again it is a case of considering what is likely to work well for your own industry. Applications like Friendbuy can help you set up and run the scheme at low cost. Referral schemes are particularly important with marketplaces, and it is important that the incentive is strong enough to ensure virality. Dropbox offering extra storage to both parties for additional users you signed up represents the classic best practice case study in this area.

Think Transferwise and Dropbox.

8. Engage With Influencers

Getting on the radar of ‘influencers’ helps amplify your message and brand. Identifying the key influencers in your space is a critical first step and the approach will vary from sector to sector. Some will be active on social media and follower count and engagement level on Twitter will give a sense as to their influence (the likes of Klout, PeerIndex and Kred help assess influence). Others will publish interesting blogs (you can use Feedly as an RSS manager to track new content), while more still will be prominent on LinkedIn.

Engaging with these influencers by amplifying their messages (RT tweets), commenting on their blog posts, or offering them high-quality guest posts will help get you on their radar. The next phase is to move the relationship offline – meeting them in person so you can get a clearer sense of their needs and how your solution meets them. If your budget allows, and the LTV of your offering is significant, exploring tools like InsightPool’s social engagement automation tool will help you target key influencers at scale via a sustained campaign.

Think Engagement.

9. Optimize Attendance At Industry Events

Attending industry events represent a great opportunity to build upon your online activity. However, it is not a case of simply showing up on the day as increasing numbers of events offer mixed results to exhibitors as the costs can quickly mount and it is very important to ensure you are being strategic when attending them. Leading US VC Mark Suster offers some good insight into some of the things you should think about before attending including pre-event planning and post-event networking.

Some events also provide ‘opt-in’ delegate lists which can be marketed to, and others offer speaking slots, as well as the opportunity to market to delegates via packs.

Think Event Plan.

10. Keep Abreast Of The Latest Developments

In an ever-changing landscape, increasing numbers of inside sales and fields sales staff seeking to generate demand are testing new avenues. They read compelling blog posts from the likes of Gerry Moran (Marketing Think) Hiten Shah (Hubspot), Neil Patel (QuickSprout) and even Rand Fishkin (Moz.com), outlining the latest techniques to use to generate inbound leads. As ever, the key lies in the execution. Those who marry a mix of different best of breed approaches, measuring, testing, learning and tweaking as they go, will prosper. Those not keeping up with the latest tricks will quickly get left behind.

Think Pocket.

About Alan Gleeson

Alan Gleeson is a digital marketing strategist based in London. Follow Alan on Twitter: @alangleeson

This article originally appeared here.

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