I currently find myself in the fantastic city of Chennai, India. Sadly it’s a strictly business trip. I’ve flown in for six days to spend time with the SellerDeck team and hire a new team member. Hiring outside the familiar waters of the UK has been a very interesting process. Sometimes it’s a little frustrating, but it’s been a masterclass in managing a distributed team.
So, while it is fresh in my mind here are my top three tips for managing a diverse, dispersed and multi-cultural team:
1. Communication is key
Of course it depends on the roles and responsibilities within your organisation, but having everyone well-versed in a common language is the essential requirement for any team. However it’s also important to remember that you may not be talking to someone in their native dialect. So take care on phrasing, be patient and understanding.
2. Encourage questions
If someone hasn’t understood something you have communicated, it’s easy to put your head in the sand. Some cultures find it embarrassing to ask questions, especially to supervisors. So my tip is to actively encourage queries and questions as much as possible. Also, put yourself into situations where you have to be the one asking the questions - it’s empowering for the others involved.
3. Boots on the ground
Nothing beats getting together. If you are willing to employ people in far-off lands you need to be ready to get on a plane and visit. The Internet has given us hundreds of different ways to communicate, from Skype to Twitter, but nothing compares with talking face-to-face. You learn more about a team and its dynamics over a five-minute coffee break than you would ever do over the phone or by email.
I’m pleased to report that the wraps are off: The IT Donut, a new website for small businesses, will be launching the week of 23 August.
Expect heaps of advice about choosing, using and generally not getting totally frustrated with IT in your business.
I’ve taken on the role of editor (the next few months are looking to be very busy), but thankfully there’s a whole team of great people from BHP Information Solutions working hard on the site too. And because you can’t substitute for first-hand knowledge and experience, we’re on the hunt for experts who know all about IT at the sharp end of business.
You see, when businesses use IT, there’s an ideal world, and there’s what actually happens. The two often differ quite considerably.
The IT Donut isn’t going to live in the plain sailing, smooth running and largely theoretical ideal world. It will acknowledge the situations and challenges businesses face every day with their IT.
Although the team behind the website is packed with experience (I’ve been writing about small businesses and IT for years now), we need people who’ve been there and done it to help us cover every area. These IT experts are the people who’ll really bring the site to life.
So if you know a bit about IT in business, I want to hear from you. You might be an expert in web hosting, networking or accounting software. Or you might be a business that’s experimented with cloud computing, open source software – or gained some other knowledge that you’d like to share.
Whatever your expertise, give me a shout. It’s your chance to be involved in one of the most exciting projects I’ve ever worked on – and to get some great PR while you’re at it.
Emails are the lifeblood of your communications.
That is all your email has to do.
It doesn’t have to close the deal. It doesn’t have to take the payment. Leave that for your website to do.
Then your reader has the option whether to click on the link and take it further or just consume the information you have provided.
To test the sort of content that is right for you, call a couple of prospects or clients and give them the information you want to send in an email. If you find your hands going clammy at the thought, then perhaps your message is not right at this time.
People will buy when they are ready to do so. There is nothing you can do to get them to buy quicker or differently to the way they will do so. It is your job to understand how your prospects buy and map your communications accordingly. A couple of things will happen – less of your emails will be found in the spam box and the number of sales will increase.
You’re probably savvy enough to realise that you need to get the pros involved when it comes to creating your logo and website. But what about everything else? The reports, invoices, proposals and posters that you create yourself? Are they sending out the right signals, or do they chirrup “cheap! cheap!”.
The good news is that you can make some simple changes to the way you design your own collateral in house that will make a big difference to how people perceive your business. Get it right and you’ll build more confidence and win more business. And you don’t need a graphic design degree or an expensive piece of software to do it. Here’s how…
1. Work out what’s important
With the exception of your business stationery, your company logo and name shouldn’t take centre stage – so move the logo away from the top! Think about what message your clients will respond best to and make sure that’s what stands out. Secondly, think about what you’re asking people to do. Your call to action also needs to be clear.
2. Get a decent structure in place.
Don’t send your text from one side of the screen to the other! Use columns and grids to add structure and clarity. And remember, odd numbers are good – threes, fives, sevens. Feel free to “break the grid” and use text across two columns.
3. Use fonts that enhance your brand
Fonts are often overlooked, even by some graphic designers, but nothing will scream amateur more than a dodgy stock photograph coupled with Verdana! The point is that fonts subconsciously create moods and send your clients signals about your business. Ask your designer to advise you on what fonts will work best with your brand and use them for all printed material. Emailing something? Consider creating a PDF if it’s important.
4. Use colours that engage and attract your ideal clients
Colour psychology is a powerful thing. Using the right colours will have a big impact on how your clients and colleagues perceive your business. And it’s not just about the colours you use – think also about the tones and how they all fit together. Ask your designer to recommend you a colour palette and make sure you use it!
5. Make sure your images are relevant and do you justice
Images can make or break your design. Try to avoid the temptation to use over-used and clichéd “clever” images that you have to shoehorn a headline around. Instead, pick images that are relevant to what you do and are also visually pleasing.
And finally… let’s not get things out of perspective. I’m not suggesting for one moment that these simple tricks can replace your fabulous graphic designer. But I’m a realist – I know you’re always going to need to design something in house – so why not learn how to make it look a cracker!
Fiona Humberstone of Flourish
On Saturday I went to the inaugural Bath Coffee festival. By Sunday morning I was still so wired from indulging in the free samples that I found myself thinking about writing a blog for the Marketing Donut. On a Sunday. So here we are: inspired by my experiences at the caffeine-based foodie-fest, these are my tips for getting the most out of an important aspect of exhibition marketing — samples.
If you like this sample of content about exhibitions, why not try our full range of content on exhibitions and events.
Facebook won't suddenly transform your business into a superstar sales machine. But it can help you win friends and influence people. But like anything else in life, this is about commitment, effort and starting on the right footing.
A lot of people still get sucked into the idea of thinking "if we build, they will come". And doubly so with Facebook — just because there's a huge audience, it doesn't mean everyone is suddenly going to beat a path to your door!
So it's as well to begin with the basics — think long term, trust in your network of friends and stay focused. With that in mind, here's my ten steps to create a powerful Facebook page:
Hopefully, that all makes perfect sense and you're inspired enough to venture forth and create an amazing page for your company. And be sure to come back and tell me how you got on!