You, your story and your www

May 21, 2015

Emperor

Before it was your shop front, your building, your address or your Golden Pages listing that were the main things that would create that first impression to make you and your business look good.

While these things are still really important your online presence is your new shop front, the place where your customers will make up their mind about you with frightening speed.

Before you know it that prospect has come and gone, they have clicked onto your online presence (whatever that might be) and without any opportunity to say hello, show your wares, sell the benefits of what you do they have come and gone with their minds made up.

Your online presence includes your website, your blog, your LinkedIn account and all of your social media platforms and each of them in their own way will tell a story about you and your business.

When you do get an inquiry you should know that you have done a good job – they have found you and they liked what they saw, at least enough to make an enquiry.

The selling starts with your www … Ask someone you really trust (thing the Emperors new clothes!) if your online presence really captures your story, the very best of you?

How is your www? 

Greg Canty 

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

Pick the right maverick and get out of their way!

May 13, 2015

Young Wonder

Just a quick note to say thank you.  The video you created is really special; I’ve made videos for 15 years at a major label and hated nearly every single one of them…too many compromises, too many cooks….this is the treatment played out in front of us and its f**king brilliant… many many thanks

Brendan Canty, Feel Good LostThis is a fantastic email my son Brendan Canty (he has his own production company Feel Good Lost) received after completing a recent music video project.

He tells me it was one of the smoothest projects he has worked on and one with a fantastic outcome.

They loved his original idea and he delivered it without any interference.

He tells me this is often not the case. In many projects too many people get involved, there are too many opinions, too many opposing views, too many egos and too many comprises – he is not a compromiser but sometimes he tells me you end up doing what you need to do to get a job completed.

It tells us a very simple message about engaging with any creative talent including artists/designers/professionals.

Pick the right maverick, get out of the way and then let them do what they do best  ..

Brendan  has just finished a fantastic music video for a talented and ‘soon to be huge‘ Irish artist Gavin James.

The track is a beautiful song called “For You“.

You already know about this video by another Irish artist called Hozier, which he also happened to direct. At the time of writing this has been watched 247,000,000 times!

Greg Canty 

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

Michael Cawley, Cork Airport and “What’s the Point?”

May 2, 2015

Cork City

It was my first time listening to Cork born Michael Cawley, the Chairman of Failte Ireland and former Ryanair deputy CEO and Commercial Director. He was speaking at a business anniversary breakfast for Paul O’Donovan and Associates, Accountants.

Everyone is a product of what they do and Michael a former accountant and a senior member of the Ryanair team for 17 years is certainly a product of his career.

At first he spoke a lot of sense and he believes that everything starts with great management. He spoke about Dubai “a hole in the ground” and how great management has turned the place into a major travel destination.

He then spoke about the Irish tourism and hospitality sector, which employs 205,000 people. He reckons this could easily rise by another 50,000 but says we must ‘elevate’ how we view the industry and start respecting the work that people do in it.

Cork Airport – hopelessly uncompetitive

He then went on to talk about the €17 landing charges at Cork Airport that he says makes the airport “hopelessly uncompetitive“.

He expanded on this by talking about the Ryanair perspective “The passengers belong to the airline, not to the airports. The airlines will seek to make money, whether that is in Bari or in Cork“.

While this message was delivered with all of the arrogance you would expect from a Ryanair executive it gives you a clear insight into the thinking of airlines that are removing routes from Cork Airport.

However he makes a good argument and suggested that if the airport wants to compete for traffic it must drop the rates, suggesting that the region could even subsidise it because passengers will spend significant money when they visit. We must look at the big picture.

All of this makes perfect sense and those running Cork Airport need to start listening and start to view Cork as an economic gateway to our region instead of a stand alone cost centre. If this requires some write off of the debt then it will be no different to so much other debt that has been written off in Ireland over the last five years.

Michael Cawley, Failte IrelandMichael went on to give some general business advice to those gathered in the room “You must define your competitive advantage to be successful

He explained that in Ryanair’s case “price” was it and this was achieved by relentlessly driving down costs .. airport landing charges is clearly a big part of this and in Cork’s case it is easy to see how we are losing Ryanair routes to Shannon and other locations.

He also spoke about the importance of “innovation” and in his view driving costs down is the ultimate innovation – I don’t agree with this as I detest what Ryanair represent and I hate how they have wrecked the flight experience, which was a ‘treat’ many moons ago, even if it was a lot more expensive.

Bring back the peanutsI say!

Michael joined the panel at the end of this breakfast briefing whereby guests were able to ask questions – I asked the question “What did the panel feel was the unique selling point of Cork?

Michael took this one on and gave the room his very worrying opinion of Cork – We should get over ourselves and realise that we are not as special as we think. All talk of us being a “competitor” in a European context is silly as Ireland is really about Dublin.

..I couldn’t believe I was hearing this

Even worse he reckoned that it was pointless for money to be invested promoting Cork as it was not a proposition worth promoting.

When a Cork born Chairman of Failte Ireland holds this view it is very concerning – who is going to subsidise Cork Airport’s costs/landing charges (as he suggested) if no one believes it is a region worth investing in?

Michael …

I 100% disagree with you and as much as I respect your role and your ‘cost squeezing’ experience I think you and your colleagues in Dublin are misguided.

Cork is a very special place for both tourism and business as we witnessed in our research on the Cork Brand Marketing project and a few others have noticed too ..

Lonely Planet were the first to start talking about our ‘friendly city’ and the Huffington Post included Cork in a list of “Overlooked European Cities you must visit in a lifetime

Please take a fresh look at the place that you were originally from and ask the question..why are we so overlooked?

All of us in Cork, our business and tourism groups, our stakeholders and politicians need to start making a lot of noise if we want something in change.

As for Michael…thanks for the helpful insight

Greg Canty 

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

 

 

 

The Peace of Wild Things

April 30, 2015

Wood drake on the water

I am thankful to a great friend of mine who sent me this poem to read by Wendell Berry  – there are times when we should all read it!

THE PEACE OF WILD THINGS

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Wendell E. Berry (born August 5, 1934) is an American novelist, poet, environmental activist, cultural critic, and farmer.

Wendell Berry, Poet

A prolific author, he has written dozens of novels, short stories, poems, and essays. He is an elected member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, a recipient of The National Humanities Medal, and the Jefferson Lecturer for 2012.

He is also a 2013 Fellow of The American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Berry was named the recipient of the 2013 Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award.

On January 28, 2015, he became the first living writer to be ushered into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame.

I hope you enjoy it ..

Greg

 

Opening a new business and budgeting for the essentials

April 27, 2015

Open for business

They were experienced operators with a successful business already up and running.

They decided to take the brave step to open another premises in a different location that they believed was currently under-served with a new concept. After all this is what you do to drive on and make progress?

The budgets were carefully worked out including renovating the premises, purchasing and installing the equipment, furnishing and decorating, branding and signage, professional fees and then some allowance was made for working capital and other opening costs.

Their budget also included a marketing fund – there is no point opening a new business unless you tell your target audience about it!

When all the budgets are done you look at your funding and cash flow requirements, some leasing, loans and an overdraft to make all of this possible and then you try to carefully manage the ‘opening project’ so that you come in on target.

For as long as I have been in business including my time as an accountant and in management there is a ‘rule of thumb’ that nearly always applies: “Everything takes longer than you expect, everything costs more and there is always the ‘unexpected’ that you also have to cope with“.

As sure as night follows day there was a problem with the fire officer that resulted in extra work that was necessary for the building – this delayed the opening and resulted in extra unexpected costs. As a result there was a serious unexpected ‘hit’ on cashflow for this essential expenditure, which could not be avoided.

As a result the marketing budget was wiped out and this new business suddenly had to rely on ‘word of mouth‘ and social media to get the word out there.

Unfortunately the momentum was not enough and the volume of business coming through the door from the date of the opening was insufficient to cover basic running costs and within months the new venture had to be shut as it was not sustainable.

The reality of the situation was that the marketing fund was even more essential than the demands that the fire officer made on the project. One was essential to get the doors open and the other was essential to keep the doors open. As a result all investment, dreams, sweat and tears were lost and the existing business will take some time to mop up the resulting debts and the recovery.

The guys were put in a total predicament and were forced to do what they had to do and this ultimately was the act that effectively closed the business and put their existing business at serious risk.

Did they have any options?

They took a view and a huge risk that they could sacrifice the most essential overhead of all and this was their ultimate downfall (while totally understandable).

Maybe they could have done a few things different ..

They could have:

  • Allowed for a contingency fund for delays/unexpected cost in the original budgets (you always need a buffer) – don’t go ahead until you have that
  • Explored other ways of cutting back and leaving their marketing fund somewhat intact
  • Looked for extra funds before proceeding any further with the project (would a bank manager have appreciated and understood their late request for extra funds? ultimately it might protect his own investment) – a strong open and honest relationship is a must for this to happen
  • Negotiated credit with suppliers – again a strong, open and honest relationship is a must (would suppliers understand?)

We have seen this cruel scenario being repeated time and time again with clients with the same awful result. Some manage to survive the setback and many unfortunately do not.

Once open you must have a fund to promote your business because without awareness and customers everything else is at risk.

Keep dreaming, keep advancing, keep expanding but most importantly keep succeeding!

Greg Canty 

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

Recommendations Rock!

April 21, 2015

Recommendations

Do you remember the old days of the “reference“?

That magic piece of paper from a previous boss or the parish priest that says you are a great person and someone who can be trusted to do a good job!

These pieces of paper were little treasures that we kept safe and produced when required on interview day.

Even now whenever any of our team move to pastures new (why anyone would ever leave Fuzion is a mystery to me!) they ask us for a ‘reference‘.

They clearly don’t need it for the job they have just accepted but they might end up using it for the next role they go for. More than likely whenever it will be used it will be at least two years old.

This reference is written in the knowledge that it will only ever be shown privately in very specific circumstances.

For me the ‘real’ references are the recommendations that appear on your LinkedIn profile.

As far back as April 2010, Fortune magazine in an article about LinkedIn were advising that “if you were serious about your career then you should be proactive about getting recommendations“.

LinkedIn recommendations

These are much more powerful that the traditional ‘reference‘ in my view. This is someone going on record for everyone to see that “Greg is a great fella“. A good recommendation on your LinkedIn profile by a credible person speaks volumes about you as a prospective employee or as service provider.

Furthermore a bank manager, a landlord or a supplier might find such a recommendation just as beneficial.

I get asked a lot by people about how to go about asking for a recommendation. If you have done a great job for a boss or a customer then it’s appropriate to ask and mostly they will be happy to oblige (they must be a LinkedIn user).

Ironically one of the best ways to get a recommendation is to first give one. This is a powerful gesture between you and that person – there is nothing wrong in recommending your boss (a very fair person, who I thrived under, who gave me fantastic direction etc) or a customer (a pleasure to deal with, very professional and fair) .

On LinkedIn once you recommend someone the question is then asked of them “would you like to recommend Greg“.

I must practice what I’ve been preaching and write a few recommendations

Who is first? …

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion offer Social Media Consultancy and Training in Dublin and Cork

Profit without Passion?

April 12, 2015

Passion

These two guys came into us, full of confidence about their new project.

They were introducing a new range of ready made meals to the Irish market, which they reckoned were going to be a huge success.

The market in Ireland was huge and growing and according to them poorly serviced with inferior products. They were going to bring restaurant quality meals with recipes designed by a high profile chef using the best of Irish ingredients.

These meals were going to be well packaged and would be ‘on shelf‘ at competitive products – this was their recipe for success!

By their reckoning they would conservatively capture a share of the market and even with moderate success they would make a fortune, it was guaranteed.

They had the listings with some of the multiples and our job was to launch the new range of products. They also had a good budget for the promotional campaign – success guaranteed?

I had a few nagging doubts ..

These guys had no history in food or experience in the industry. They had no passion for food – I tried and I tried to find it. I couldn’t see a genuine love for Irish ingredients and great food – this was just a way of making money and they reckoned they had all the necessary ingredients for success.

The high profile chef was equally unimpressive – I started to get the feeling that his ‘name was on the box‘ and that was about the extent of his passion for the project.

Of course he did the interviews and said all the right things but I just didn’t feel the passion for the project.

The launch date arrived, there seemed to be trouble with distribution, the products didn’t look well in the packaging and there was nothing special about the taste. It certainly wasn’t the superior restaurant quality ready-made meals that we were promised.

In no time at all the partners were fighting and the chef pulled back from the project. Effectively before the whole project got going they shut it down and many people including ourselves went without payment.

If there was genuine passion you would taste it in the end product, you would work hard to overcome any problems and you would dig deep and do everything to keep your dream alive.

Without passion you just give up ….that’s easier!

Passion is the single must important ingredient in your meal, your restaurant, your products, your service and your organisation.

Profit without passion? … I don’t think so 

Greg Canty 

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

 

Crushing young dreams 

April 12, 2015

Tears

My daughter Ellen has had a run of bad luck, which eventually seemed to be turning.

As she comes to the end of her beauty therapy course she was determined to find a job.

I’ve been offered a job dad” she told me excitedly down the phone. I was thrilled for her, she deserved a break and I could hear the difference that confidence boost had made to her.

The following day it got even better “you won’t believe it dad, I’ve been offered another job” she beamed.

Two days later she called again “Dad, guess what? I’ve been offered a job in a salon and the lady is lovely and it’s exactly what I want, This is the job I’m going to take”.

Three job offers in as many days and my fantastic daughter was transformed – she was now a confident woman with a real spring in her step. She accepted the full time job offer and was due to start the following Monday.

She was then called for an interview to a beauty salon that came highly recommended by her course director on the Saturday.

On the spot she was offered a job by the salon owner despite Ellen’s lack of experience. Ellen explained to her that this would be a big decision as she had already been offered a full time job.

She rang me “you won’t believe it dad – I’ve been offered another job, I can’t believe it! What will I do?

On the recommendation of her course director she accepted this offer and turned down the previous offer. To her credit she wrote a very professional email to the other salon, explaining the reason why she would not be taking their job offer after all.

Unfortunately the next call was Ellen sobbing on the phone. The salon owner that she had accepted the job from had a change of heart and suddenly her lack of experience was an issue and the full time job offer was rescinded. This news was delivered with barely an apology. While the salon owner thinks there is no consequence to her careless actions she has done huge damage to her reputation.

In the blink of an eye my precious girl was crushed and totally devastated and on top of this blow she now had to contemplate crawling back to the people she had already turned down in the hope that those opportunities were still alive.

Ellen is a strong, determined, talented young woman with a great personality who will recover from this cruel setback but it is one that she should not have to deal with.

I’ve shared this story with a number of people and to my horror nearly everyone I spoke to were able to give me similar stories.

When you offer anyone a job this carries with it a big responsibility – besides the obvious financial consequences you also bring the person, their dreams, hopes and wishes with you.

This is a big responsibility… Mind it.

Greg Canty 

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

 

Good for the soul

April 6, 2015

Back garden

I totally agree … That is the best way to describe our ‘nothing’ afternoon.

After walking the dogs in the park we grabbed a few rolls and some salad stuff and sat outside and of course we opened some vino and a beer or two and sat in the sunshine.

Mum and dad popped in for a while for a cuppa and to collect dad’s phone – he had left it behind yesterday when they were over for dinner.

We chatted about very little and at times didn’t chat at all as we sat outside in the garden taking in the sun on this gorgeous bank holiday Monday of the Easter weekend. The dogs pottered around us looking for leftovers from the table. There is something very comforting having them around us.

This feels just perfect.

Joan, one of our best buddies announces that this is “Good for the Soul

I know what she means …

We all need a little more of that.

Greg Canty 

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

Dunnes Stores – Building your Reputation

April 2, 2015

Dunnes Stores Strike

It was a strange thing – I heard news of the Dunnes Stores strike first thing this morning on Newstalk and immediately without hearing any of the detail I was on the side of the workers.

I wondered why did I think that automatically?

The truth is I never hear any good things about the company.

I don’t hear about charities they support, I don’t hear about a focus on Irish products,  I don’t hear about how they work closely with suppliers, I don’t see them being helpful on social media, I don’t hear about how much they contribute to the Irish economy and I don’t hear about new jobs that have created.

Instead I remember the strikes of old and the trouble and controversy that the company has had down through the years.

This doesn’t mean for a second that they do none of these things – it just means I don’t know about the good things they do and as a result when I hear a negative about them I tend to believe it.

When we use the words ‘building your reputation‘ it is a powerful analogy because your reputation is something that is built over time.

It is a culmination of all of the things you do; how you look after suppliers, your team and most importantly your customers. It also includes how you interact with the general community – while we are all in business to make a profit it is vital that we respect our environment and those around us and genuinely try to be a good, responsible corporate citizen.

Besides doing good it is vital that this is communicated clearly and effectively so that people understand that this is a business that genuinely cares about something more than just making money.

When an ill wind blows it is vital that your reputation has been built carefully and robustly so that it can withstand it easily and that you will have the support of your customers, investors, the media and the general public in these circumstances.

There is a strike at Dunnes

If a good job was done here our first thought when we hear this should be “They are a great company who are really responsible and fair – there must be two sides to that story

Build your reputation … it will protect you

Greg Canty

Fuzion with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland offer a full Crisis PR Service. Deirdre Waldron, (Partner) heads up the Crisis PR team, which includes former journalists, media training and social media expertise.

 

 

 


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