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Well my ‘presidential’ year has officially started! It really does sound rather grand. Ian and his team at the Chamber run the show brilliantly and make the every day happen for our members.

My bit comes in as ultimate flag waver, sounding board, Pied Piper, momentum builder, idea generator, initiative driver, and general advocate for Dorset businesses. It goes without saying that I’m really looking forward to driving forward all of these aspects.

What gives me the right to be your Chamber’s President you may fairly ask? I’ve been a member of Dorset Chamber for the lifespan of my business, Liz Lean PR, which I established 20 years ago. I have always felt it important to be a member and I have benefited enormously from it; as with all these things, you get out what you put in. And I have met a wonderful community of engaging and talented business people over the years, which has developed a close network for my business as a result.

I joined the board two years ago and was thrilled when I was asked to consider the three-year process to become President. It is a privilege that I certainly don’t take lightly and I have pledged to focus on a few key areas this year, which I hope will resonate with our members.

Supporting young people entering the workplace is key to our future as a vibrant economy. I aim to continue the good work of last year’s President, Paul Tansey, with the inception of the Careers Fair. Anything we can do to nurture our young people and provide them with opportunities in the workplace is close to my heart, as is making Dorset Chamber relevant, welcoming and accessible to our many talented young entrepreneurs. We are fortunate to have an increasing number of hard working and innovative people enter the business community and I am keen to ensure they are an intrinsic part of Dorset Chamber moving forward.

Another area I hope to focus on is the mental health and wellbeing of our business people. The workplace is as stressful as it’s ever been. The last recession took its toll, dragging on so long, and the government turmoil ever since has been relentless. To be good leaders and to support our teams we also need to be fit and well, mentally and physically. Being open about when we feel flat shouldn’t be judged negatively and I’d like to think the warm and nurturing environment of Dorset Chamber and its team is the perfect platform for support.

Creativity and the arts is an outlet which works for me when I need a boost and encouraging increased opportunities for Dorset to shine culturally, on a UK wide stage, is important to me. As the local authorities merge, we must use the momentum of a more connected community to position Dorset as a cultural centre of excellence. This is a sure way to attract the talent we need from other towns and cities and to start chipping away at the skills shortage across industries, particularly in the creative sector.

My team and I are proud to be a part of the vibrant scene we have here and it is key Dorset Chamber is seen as relevant to those in the creative industries. I’d like to see membership increase from this sector and I’ll be finding out what could make that happen.

I welcome your ideas and thoughts on anything raised here. I prefer working as a team; many minds are better than one.

It will no doubt be like any year ahead, with its ups (70th anniversary celebrations!) and its potential downs (yes we are heading deeper into Brexit zone) but I will be alongside the Chamber team rooting for our members and doing what we can to support throughout.

Thank you for welcoming me as your President.
Liz
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Recently I was speaking at St Edward’s school in Poole in my role as President at Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

I had been asked to give out prizes at a leavers celebration event and to inspire the young people and their parents with a speech. In the end it was me who was leaving the event inspired because I had learned a valuable lesson in living important values and measuring what matters most.

For almost an hour I gave away awards to young people that had nothing to do with academic achievement. The evening was a celebration of something far more important. It was an evening recognising what made these young people good people.

I found myself giving awards for arguably the most important things in life – discipline, wisdom, courage, humanity and spirituality. To my surprise, the awards I was handing out were recognising those who had demonstrated that they were living the schools values (or virtues as St Edward’s calls them) kindness, resilience, love of learning, leadership…
The leadership at the school wanted to celebrate what made their young people special by celebrating the whole person rather than just the academic result. Most of these fantastic young people would have gone unnoticed and unrecognised at the school I attended where prizes were given purely for academic and sporting achievement.
Afterwards I spoke with Chris Farrow at the school and he explained that the leadership worked with the young people to discuss the values (or virtues) that should be recognised and rewarded. They then spent a lot of time catching children doing the RIGHT things and rewarding that behaviour with credits.

Simple and brilliant. As a result I got to hand out prizes to great young people for what really matters in life – many of whom would have been overlooked by the traditional educational system.

As an employer if you had to choose between two otherwise identical CVs but one candidate’s CV cited awards for leadership, kindness, love of learning and courage, which would you select?

I’ve been writing in The Business magazine recently about the importance of defining our values and living them in business and here I was being taught that lesson brilliantly in a school.

St Edward’s does a great job of recognising the character traits and attitudes that businesses often care more about than pure academic performance.
Should all schools define the values they think matter most and encourage their pupils to live those values by relentlessly catching people doing the right thing?
Shouldn’t all businesses do this too?

A few days later I reflected upon the fact that I was there to inspire young people but in the end I was the one who left inspired. Working with educators and young people can be so rewarding. Another life lesson learned.

Article by Paul Tansey, Intergage Managing Director, Dorset Chamber Director and President & Digital Marketing Nerd

I’m writing this column from an airport this month while a flight is delayed.

I’m about to fly for 7 hours to join 25,000 other marketing nerds from around the globe for a massive marketing tech fest in America to look at some of the latest developments in marketing automation and inbound marketing.

While I wait, I’m reflecting on just how much sales and marketing has changed over the last ten years.

Around ten years ago a significant change was imminent. The business world was about to change. The new dawn would see buyers empowered by access to online information and unwary sellers disenfranchised. In this new world people self-educated at the point of purchase – to the extent that they no longer needed or wanted to talk to sales people.

That situation is a reality today. According to Dan Tyre and Todd Hockenberry’s book ‘Inbound Organisation’:

  • 97% of consumers now use online media to research products and services in their local markets
  • 93% of all B2B purchases start with an Internet search
  • 84% of buyers engage in online information consumption and education
  • By a factor of 3:1, B2B buyers say that gathering information online on their own is superior to interacting with a sales representative
  • 59% of buyers explicitly indicate that that they do not want to interact with a salesperson as their primary source of research.

Many businesses will tell you that cold-calling “doesn’t work like it used to”, lead generation tactics are not working “like they used to” and “our salespeople still do well when they get in front of qualified prospects, but it doesn’t happen as often as it used to…”

Those businesses are often still failing to recognise that power has irrevocably shifted from the seller to the buyer as a variety of internet-connected devices made product information, educational videos and online reviews easy and instant to access.

The role of the salesperson is forever diminished (in all but the highest value and most technical fields of sales) and the rise of the content marketer is complete.

Over time the switch from outbound to inbound marketing has been profound.

Inbound (‘content’) marketing is about understanding your customers, their aspirations and their challenges. The key is to understand exactly how customers research their purchases and then to invest in creating engaging, helpful and educational content which is very easy for them to find.

Inbound Marketing effectively eliminates the most time consuming and low value activity in the sales process (cold-calling and prospecting) and replaces it with an investment in content creation. The medium-term result is warmer inbound enquiries from better-educated prospects.

It’s not magic. There is a process for creating a predictable flow of inbound enquiries from content. Vendors are providing toolkits for managing and automating that marketing process.

The most important thing is to recognise that a consistent commitment to creating high-quality, helpful content is now essential to building a predictable, systemised approach to lead generation and sales.

A new generation of AI tools is poised to augment what is already an exciting new chapter in sales and marketing automation and I’m off to America to find out more about that…

 

Article by Paul Tansey, Intergage Managing Director, Dorset Chamber Director and President & Digital Marketing Nerd