… and fuelling redevelopment of unloved retail space as gyms and hotels
DIGITAL is still the future … Retail is having to recognise £1 in every £5 spent at shops is online – a figure predicted to rise to 50% within a decade. The property industry’s view is that 30% of UK retail space is obsolete and would better serve communities as hotels and gyms – or, particularly within the M25, as housing. And the sooner it happens the better. Even John Lewis is considering store closures … https://bit.ly/37gwmxi
DETAILED and improved analysis of knife crime statistics has appeared online this year – and it shows a clearer picture of the issue compared to some 15 years ago when I first started taking a long, hard look at what was measured and reported.
As I said then, it is nigh on impossible to best manage without measurement. So, rather than wait for the Government and police to provide better analysis and communications of a general increase in knife crime over decades, the BBC seems to have got organised to do it.
As well as better analysis, the results look to be actionable statistics.
The top line figures are about knife crime in England and Wales rising to record levels in 2017-18 with fatal stabbings highest since records started in 1946.
40,829 offences involving knives or sharp instruments in 2018, up 6% on the previous year
Incidents of murder and manslaughter (not terror) increased 12% with 732 killings, up from 655 in 2017
Earlier this decade, I reported that some decrease in knife crimes had occurred. However, I did express skepticism because the steady fall led up to election times (a problem being solved will help win political votes of course – or not lose so many).
Sure enough, up to the general election of 2015 numbers were falling. As soon as Theresa May left the Home Office to become PM, those knife crime stats for England and Wales started to soar.
WATCHING the UK High Street apparently ‘closing down’ is painful to watch. Many struggle with the transformation and change required – the restructuring and ‘digital re-engineering’. And this isn’t helped by insufficient online skills and experience in the workforce.
Google is taking more public steps just now to recognise the importance of offline ‘brick + mortar’ shopping. A sceptic might suggest they are trying to compete against Amazon’s online shopping dominance – but Google has updated its Google Shopping platform after its research showed that out of every 100 people who buy consumer goods, 80 go to physical shops in retail venues, out-of-town or ‘in the city’.
New features on Google Shopping:
Allow retailers to list nearby stores on YouTube which could increase click-through rates more than 15 per cent.
Launched “See What’s In Store” promotion inventory to let retailers better showcase products on their search knowledge panel.
Established local catalogue advertisement to show in-store availability and detailed pricing.
Arguably it would also help if the Government was better at digital. Our erratic UK / EU political process doesn’t seem flexible or helpful enough.
As a key issue, there probably needs to be broad national focus on ‘global competition’. Rashes of cookie notices make sites in the EU and UK often unusable, while business rates on the high street are often shown to be too high – but ministers fail to act, seemingly clueless, the man on the Clapham omnibus could very easily conslude.
‘UK plc’ and ‘UK Digital plc’ are under severe commercial pressure, particularly the offline retail sector. Retailers look to be in daily acute + chronic long-term suffering – causing much stress (and bad health no doubt).
Strong, proactive, planned transformational action is needed in board rooms across the land, or tragically some board rooms, with hard-working people, will be no more.
I’M OBSESSED about contributing to a better future – for you… for the people, communities and environments wherever my life exists – at work, at home and while travelling.
Amidst my dreaming and planning, I’ve always wondered at the vision of a better life offered by glass… high tech glass… demonstrated in Corning’s ‘Day of Glass’ video.
With an eye-watering YouTube audience soaring into many millions, if you haven’t seen this future of glass at home and work, and would like a glimpse into what must now seem a not-too-distant future, you can watch ‘The Day Made of Glass’ here.
MARKETING leaders (and their teams) are often in a revolving door, more quickly out of a role than other senior management.
Yet research shows it’s not wise. Why? Because CEOs in high marketing capability firms have 35% more months in their jobs than do CEOs in low marketing capability firms (source: Forbes).
The average tenure of a Chief Marketing Officer in the US is just 4 years, behind the average for the C-suite of a little over 5 years. Part of the true reason for this is down to the “exceptionally complex” nature of the CMO role (source: Marketing Week).
It’s worth reading Kim Whitler’s Forbes piece here to check to see if business leaders are taking marketing seriously… http://bit.ly/mktg-bullets
Are you a CEO, CFO or CIO – or other boss – criticising bad marketing at your firm? Then pause and consider the following 5 Mckinsey questions:
1. What exactly influences your consumers today?
2. How well informed (really) is your marketing judgment?
3. How are you managing financial risk in your marketing plans?
4. How are you coping with added complexity in the marketing organisation?
5. What metrics should you track given your (imperfect) options?
Be honest. Could you answer them? If not, then ask yourself if you should learn a little more about marketing.
Like all management, marketing is part of the team. To keep shooting the marketing messengers, revolving door-style, could end up like Russian roulette gambling – eventually, if not instantly, you could lose… badly.
Here’s a challenge to business leaders and senior management… Support your marketing team, possibly by working with them more – or at least get closer to your customers.
Spend some quality time immersing yourselves in marketing. Go on… try to live + understand your customers’ cultures to better appreciate marketing challenges.
Worklife is busy as a digital consultant so it’s always difficult to choose the next piece of content for the website. This blog is about the sometimes sick state of business (and perhaps other organisations), so it seems appropriate then – after attending two BrightonSEOs this year – to draw attention to event founder Kelvin Newman’s repeated ‘urgent’ flag’…
After two successful conferences at international venue, the Brighton Centre, this autumn he described the current state of digital that web experts frequently face: “There haven’t been that many surprises in the past 10 years, despite the hysteria we hear around the pace of change in the space. The reality is that for lots of businesses, rather than worrying about big, disruptive shifts, they should really make sure they’re getting the basics right.”
With that in mind, let me share the report I prepared for digital consultancy and marketing learning firm, Smart Insights…
Imagine you’re a manic CEO or senior digital manager (and if things are far too stretched, you’ll know this is not funny). To help, here’s a ‘helicopter’ view of key sessions for you from the most recent BrightonSEO:
The key thought to have ‘front-of-mind’ is, as always, there’s no quick fix these days that will miraculously propel any digital venture to overnight success. Time and money are usually key essentials – and not forgetting resources, e.g. People, computing power + related tools.
It takes time to prepare the ground for great projects (e.g. SEO fundamentals), sow and plant on decent soil (e.g. write content + social media posts), nurture each element (e.g. content marketing + paid media) to reap a rich harvest (the millionaire lifestyle + live forever on the Maldives).
Brexit at BrightonSEO
So, let’s examine the top trends at BrightonSEO this time. Firstly, there was the Brexit theme on display (but only very lightly), promoting Brighton as a Great British place to have great creatives work with you.
And then, if you want to know how to spot popular trends, the first place to check is the event schedule. Here’s how I carved up stalls set out by the Rough Agenda organisers:
Important to all those wanting to be successful at search were most of the key topics in the auditoria. But these five probably make the best overview:
Advanced keyword research
Why these? Without decent keyword research, you’ll be on a back foot and subsequently lose customers, donors, influencers etc. Then, if you get technical, onsite and link elements wrong:
No-one will find you
No-one will read, watch or listen to you.
Diving into the smaller rooms, several important digital disciplines and areas got my pique:
Business strategy, e.g. agile marketing.
Customers – I had to tease ‘the Customer’ out of the agenda but they were there, oh yes – in the social and chatbot sections for instance.
Reputation / Online PR – how’s yours, your company / organisation?
Content strategy + marketing – what is done here will likely make or break a business or organisation, indisputably.
Measurement / analytics – you can’t manage to improve without first measuring – period.
Paid media / affiliates – a crucial area for many… Google, Facebook, Bing, LinkedIn, agencies like Criteo and many other players trying to earn more than a lion’s share of your budget(s).
AMP – be early to market, if you’re not too late already, and you could reap better success than the laggards.
www search experts
Read on and check slides from BrightonSEO’s impressive line-up who shared major trends shaping search and the web…
AMP: For ‘mobile first’, see Cindy Krum (slides), Emily Grossman (slides) and Aleyda Solis (slides) – think better UX and mobile load time. Or just create sites that are served up fast (Jon Henshaw).
Dawn Anderson is, not least, a server code genius making sense of Google Page Rank and patents as well as knowing how to sort out the “random crap” that’s ended up on our websites and servers after years of ‘generational cruft‘.
And finally, a glimpse into a space-age future: how the digerati will create 3D Star Wars-type holograms maybe… Jess Stiles on emerging platforms.
(Missed the wrap-up talk, Gary Illyes on the inner workings of Google, because I was booked to Dj so had to leave in good time to make sure a train got me home. Will catch-up…)
JUST as there are fears today in 2017 about leaving the EU, there have been fears and criticisms about staying in for decades. I came across a past model essay outlining arguments for and against staying in the Common Market or European Economic Community (the EEC as it was called).
It is illuminating with hindsight to take a short journey back through modern history to consider there was plenty of planning, thinking and debating before we joined and while we have been members – however in 2017 we know there has been little planning about how Britain – and businesses based here – will survive and prosper operating outside of the EU.
Highlights in the history below include calls for stronger links with the Commonwealth and developing nations outside the EU – and fears when staying in about being governed from Brussels or Strasbourg rather than from Westminster.
Brief history of the Common Market
Over the past 70 years or so, Britain’s role as a trading nation has changed because of the Common Market. In 1951 France, Germany, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands set up the European Coal and Steel Community. Coal, iron and steel could be bought and sold within these countries without any trade restrictions. The community turned out to be a success.
In 1958, the six members of the ECSC set up the European Economic Community (EEC) or Common Market. Members of the EEC were to work towards free trade between themselves. They agreed to apply the same tariffs on all trade with non-members. They also agreed to work towards common policies on nuclear power, social welfare, tax, agriculture and transport. In 1961 and 1967 Britain applied to join the EEC, but Charles de Gaulle, President of France, felt that Britain had too many commitments to Commonwealth countries and the USA. He rejected Britain’s application to join the community. In 1970 a third attempt was made to join the EEC. This was successful, and in 1973 Britain became a member of the community.
Effects of Britain’s membership of the EEC:
Britain joined the EEC too late to improve her trading prospects. The community had been in existence for 16 years and the six original members had shaped the community in a way which suited them.
Britain had a different trading pattern from those of other countries, and this worked to our disadvantage. We lost our close economic ties with the Commonwealth.
Britain had to pay huge sums of money towards the total EEC budget.
Most EEC countries had more efficient industries than Britain. Free trade between EEC members opened up Britain to foreign manufacturers and British business and industry had to struggle to compete.
The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) kept food prices high, even though there were massive food surpluses (e.g. butter and beef ‘mountains’).
(You can probably understand that this potted history reasonably indicates the source and development of different attitudes in Britain to the the rest of Europe that we see play out as controversies in the corridors of power, the Press and media up to the present day.)
Brexit – Britain is ‘leaving’ the EU, shown in map
How Britain used to discuss the European market
Here’s a conversation between a parent and son debating the pros and cons in the late 1980s…
“You’ve got it wrong, Dad. The Common Market is just a rich man’s club. It’s a way of helping people in business to make bigger profits by reducing tariffs between European countries.”
“You forget that lower tariffs will mean cheaper goods, John.”
“In theory, yes. But cheaper imports will ruin British industry. Look what foreign cars have done to the British motor industry. What’s happened to British-made motor cycles? In practice, membership of the EEC will mean higher food prices. Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy and the Netherlands will want us to raise our prices to bring them in line with theirs. And you know how much food costs when you go abroad!”
“Look, John, you know how inefficient some British farmers are. Membership of the EEC will help them a lot. With the Common Agricultural Policy, they’ll be much better off and they’ll be producing more food.”
“You’re talking rubbish, Dad. British farmers are some of the most efficient in Europe. The effect of the CAP will be that food prices will go up and certain items will be produced in too great a quantity. Farmers won’t have to worry about foreign competition. They’ll be able to produce as much butter or beef as they like. They’ll get a fixed price for their produce whatever happens. Worse still, Dad, we’ll get bigger and bigger food mountains and wine lakes. All the surplus food will be sold off to the Eastern Bloc or just dumped the sea. This seems criminal when a few thousand miles away there are people starving.
“But, John, you must remember that in some parts of Europe farming methods are old-fashioned and inefficient. Many farms are too small for modern machinery. The aim of the CAP is to increase the size of European farms. The commissioners will be handing out sums of money to uneconomic farmers to persuade them to give up small farms.”
“Dad, it’s only in Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy that you see a lot of these tiny farms. The British taxpayer will be subsidising foreign farmers!”
Peace in Europe
“Why are you so inward-looking, John? I’d have thought you’d like the idea of a united Europe. You’re in favour of peace aren’t you? Since the EEC was set up in 1957, there have been no major wars in Europe.”
“But there have been some dreadful acts of terrorism and violence. We need stronger links with the Commonwealth and the Third World countries, not with Europe. The future of the world lies with the developing nations.”
“The Commonwealth? You’re beginning to sound like an imperialist, John. With all your talk of tariffs and the Empire you seem to have a lot in common with the protectionists.”
“You remember the 1930s, Dad. We had to bring back tariffs then to protect British industry.”
“Was the European Free Trade Association in favour of tariffs? When Britain joined EFTA with Austria, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland in 1959, there wasn’t much talk of tariffs then.”
Wider markets for UK business and industry
“That was 1959. Be realistic, Dad, we live in a changing world and have to be adaptable. I’m convinced that staying in the EEC will weaken Britain’s ties with the USA and the Commonwealth. It will harm our trade with Scandinavia. We’ll have higher food prices and unemployment and less efficient farming. We’ll be governed from Brussels or Strasbourg rather than from Westminster. And British industry will be destroyed by harmful competition.”
“Well, John, you’re entitled to your own views on this but I sincerely believe that our future lies with Europe. EFTA was never a success and geographically we’re closer to Europe than the Commonwealth. Staying in the EEC will give us a wider market for industrial goods and cheaper food imports. We’ll have more jobs in farming and industry. Workers will be able to travel freely from one European country to another in search of employment. We’ll all have a higher standard of living and there’ll be less likelihood of war breaking out in Europe. Finally, don’t forget that in this referendum it looks as if over 65 per cent of the voters are going to vote ‘YES’ to staying in.”
“I can see that we’re not going to agree about this, Dad. People may vote to stay in this time but when the next referendum is held, the result will be very different.”
IT IS NOW critical that teams in search optimisation (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) work together. It used to be usual to have an agency or organic / natural search specialist carry out SEO while a PPC expert focused solely on advertising. That meant you had two sets of experts working for you… double the impact for your business results, or bang for your buck, right?
Well, maybe in the past. However, the digital world is changing. As the line between SEO and PPC continues to blur, you are likely to cause problems employing two agencies or separate SEO and PPC internal teams to work for your company.
Break down any SEO and PPC silos
There was a time when SEO and PPC advertisers were marketing rivals. However, now collaboration is essential between search optimisers (SEO-ers) and paid advertising (PPC-ers) in an organisation or an agency. They help each other perform better.
If you study the top of a typical Google results page, you’ll observe a mix of paid ads and local listings before reaching the lower-placed organic results (usually below the fold). This will happen increasingly as Google works to include paid ads and location pins into local results via Google Maps (further developing its business revenue streams).
Confused by ‘paid search’ and ‘paid social’?
Google dominated paid advertising for so long that PPC was all about just one service: Google AdWords. However, in recent times social media advertising is disrupting Google’s dominance. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn now offer great value paid ads.
So PPC has changed to mean ‘paid search’ and ‘paid social’, requiring expertise in social media and content marketing, not just placing adverts on Google.
Your digital marketing in 2017
Nowadays, you’re likely to see lower performance if you have an SEO strategy without content marketing, or a PPC advertiser that doesn’t understand social. Digital teams in your company or agency need to be aligned to achieve best results by collaborative, integrated digital marketing.
The priority as we head towards 2017 is to ensure you’ve set realistic goals i.e. forecast how digital and offline marketing can achieve leads and sales – and then devise the right kind of strategy to make them happen.
SEO and PPC channels work together to maximise your online visibility, traffic and conversions, including:
Business growth (more leads and sales);
Increased rankings results (SERPs)
Repeat / retained customers.
PPC and organic search must work together. Marketing decisions really have to be made based on achieving your business objectives, not the separate interests of different agencies or separate PPC and SEO specialists.
If your company or organisation is not doing this – or not doing SEO and PPC well – contact ‘the eConsultant’ to decide how you can achieve it.
ONE of the problems with business is identified in an independent scientific study about managerial competence. In the paper ‘Personality and Leadership: A Qualitative and Quantitative Review’, it reports that effective managers tend to be highly adjusted, sociable, friendly, flexible, and prudent. Many of us come into this category surely.
Thus, they are the opposite of some of the self-made famous business and political leaders often cited as role models, such as Steve Jobs, Donald Trump, Jack Welch, Bob Diamond, Vladimir Lenin, Margaret Thatcher, Bill Gross, Justin Mateen – there are bad tales about them all. Imagine working for them directly – they may sound great, depending on your own interests, business or political leanings (or psychology?), but most people seem happiest working for people who are the exact opposite!
Is the following, in fact, the truth about a well-functioning business manager? Objective, transparent, unselfish, and apolitical. S/he assigns the right task to every person and rewards unselfish team behaviours, creating a culture of trust and keeping morale high.
S/he monitors individual and team performance with precision and provides real-time feedback to boost everybody’s productivity. S/he operates according to data rather than intuition and makes only evidence-based recommendations.
And yet most organisations today arguably choose managers who are likely flash and who demonstrate “bold displays of confidence” – whether or not that translates into actual competence.
Despite a vast body of knowledge – including independent scientific evidence – on what makes a good manager, too many people get promoted to management positions based on past technical expertise or their previous individual job performance, so they end up, in effect, transitioning from skilled labour to unskilled management, states Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic writing in HBR (Tomas is CEO of Hogan Assessment Systems, a Professor of Business Psychology at University College London, and a faculty member at Columbia University).
So, what does a very good manager look like? S/he has emotional maturity. It is mainly a function of being emotionally stable, agreeable, and conscientious. Unsurprisingly, we all become more “mature” (‘boring’) as we age.
The likes of Jobs, Sepp Blatter, Bernie Madoff, and Pablo Escobar (as Michael Maccoby pointed out in an influential HBR essay) “tend to be poor listeners who are sensitive to criticism and demonstrate low levels of emotional intelligence”. In addition, such people are noted to be ruthless, impatient, demanding, morally questionable etc. Who wants to be thought of or remembered as being like that?
Chamorro-Premuzic says: “In any culture people are more volatile and antisocial during their teens, and they become more conforming, conservative and rule-abiding as they grow older. Although this tends to have a negative connotation in much of the Western world – which avowedly values creativity, disruption, and individuality – it is clearly an asset when it comes to managerial potential.”
Maybe these leaders never grew up and were allowed to bully their immediate business world? They never nurtured a normal life, let their family suffer for the sake of their work? This type of leadership is more than likely what has been wrong with various parts of business up to the last economic crash. Chickens came home to roost, as the late respected Stephen R Covey once explained. Let’s see, as the economic world moves forward, if business has learned and is able to better choose leaders who are stable, highly adjusted, sociable, friendly, flexible, and prudent… ones that people are happiest to work for.
This blog is called ‘The Business Patient’ that, during its life will likely explore, among many issues, a current vein of popular thought, gossip, knowledge and criticism at home – and down the pub; that many companies and organisations are badly run. Sometimes they don’t realise it; sometimes they need time to recover, heal; sometimes they need better processes, and better people.
Sometimes bad culture carries on despite leadership changes. It’s not just about individual leaders in such workplaces either though; work can be hard, requires application of much intelligence and knowledge, as well as tough traits to get through and get things done – but one of those is almost certainly NOT ever huge amounts of anger at people, treating them badly, or even cruelly (e.g. Adolf Hitler – many thought him a great leader once; IBM should have known better). Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but hear the ring of truth…