Who is Watching You?

Karen Pawlowska from TakeOneTV recently shared with the Chiltern Business Connection members a new venture which she and her team were partnering with Sky on. It’s called AD|Smart and is a revolutionary new way of bringing the power of TV advertising to smaller businesses.

We all know that technology is everywhere these days, and for businesses digital advances have brought some great opportunities for marketing and promotion to be considered. Facebook advertising is now well-established, but advertising on television along with the big brand names of business is something that most smaller companies would shy away from. It’s not unreasonable, because in the past the cost of producing TV commercials has been way out of range with sums such as £150K being average, such as the now-famous John Lewis and M&S Christmas commercials costing far more.

However, with AD|Smart costs for media and production start at just £6K plus VAT and an average commercial would probably be £10K for the media time, or on air time, and a similar figure for production, depending on locations and complexity of the story.

What makes AD|Smart so interesting for small businesses?

When working with Sky AD|Smart, you can select demographics and factors like hobbies and interests, medical needs, professional affluence, even Local Authority area to then target your audience with a video that will genuinely be of interest to them.  What this means is two neighbouring houses could be watching the same Sky channel at the same time but, during the ad break, have different adverts playing depending on their family circumstances. What’s critically important is that you as the advertiser only pays for the view if it is watched in real-time for at least 75% of the time. For more information on Ad|Smart, take a look at this link:

As Karen explained, AD|Smart has really leveled the playing field for businesses of all shapes and sizes to take advantage of but of course it’s not just about the TV commercial; advertising of any sort needs to be part of an overall marketing strategy so that once that phone starts ringing or enquiries come in busineses are ready to manage the flow of new customers.

TakeOneTV can help with setting the strategy and plan how your addressable TV advertising campaign could work including;

  • discussing what type of video would be most effective for your target audience
  • getting your business processes in shape for the campaign
  • story mapping and structure of content
  • preparing a compelling (but factual) script
  • guidance and training any contributors on presenting to camera
  • ensuring there is an inviting call to action
  • creating a campaign for other platforms where your video can also be seen

This is a really exciting development for small to media sized businesses; if you’d like to know more get in touch with karen@takeonetv.com And for networking that provides more than breakfast, take a look at the Chiltern Business Connections website – we love to have visitors!

Making the Best First Impression with the Right Photos

Have you thought about using stock photography? There’s a big range of images out there for generic corporate photography, food photography and other images that help set the mood for what you are trying to communicate with your business. However, this doesn’t come without its risks as you can see in the image below.

How to create the best first impression with good photography

Now, it’s a bit of an exaggerated example, but stock photography often has a certain look to it and it can stand out like a sore thumb when you’re trying to make your business become head and shoulders above the rest.

Here are 5 things to look out for when considering photography for your business.

  1. Do you want to look like your competitors?

Have you had a leaflet through your door about a new care home opening in your area? If so, you’ll no doubt have seen photography of smiling elderly couples. But what happens when you see the exact same photograph of an elderly couple on another leaflet for a completely different company? Surely the same couple can’t be living in both places!?

If you want to stand out from your competitors, have photography that takes place with your customers and staff. This way you avoid people asking to talk to the happy couple (who might actually live in America, and their real names are Hank and Mavis!), or start asking questions about if they can see the non-existent location where the photo was taken!

2) Meet the real team

In particularly customer facing industries where building trust is essential, being able to see the team before paying them a visit can make a big difference. Depending on your business an approachable and professional appearance helps set the right tone… Or maybe you want an imposing corporate headshot if you work in security!

Below you can see how having your staff visible on your website with corporate headshot photography makes a huge difference and builds trust in your brand. As the team grows, it’s important to keep having regular headshot photography sessions to update your roster – the temptation may be to grab your smartphone and grab a quick snap but consistency is key! People want to know your service is consistent so don’t let them think otherwise with your staff headshots!

3) Make your business authentic

In the same way that you want everyone to recognise your staff, if customers or clients are coming to your location, they will be confused if you use a stock image of a location in New York city.

When you’ve got a business you want to shout about, fill it with people and bring it to life. This way when someone walks in it will already be familiar with what it looks like, they will already know what to expect and you can communicate the quality of the work you do or service you provide.

Below is an example where event photography can also be used to show off a location, it’s from the opening of Wycombe Heights’ new driving range. You can see it in action, see that everyone is welcome and get an idea of the Top Tracer technology that helps to improve your golf game!

4) In House doesn’t always mean good quality

Product photography isn’t something that can be solved using stock photography alone, and when the photograph is being taken by someone who is not an expert in the field it can cause more problems. Some companies will take photographs of the products they sell, but this can lead to a huge amount of variation in how a product appears online. If you are selling a product you’ve got enough to compete with (e.g. price, customer reviews, etc.) without having to worry about low quality images that may put off a customer from clicking through to your website.

Here is an example, there are 3 things highlighted here that are distracting with this image:

  1. You can see the actual lights used to illuminate the object with unpleasant ‘hot spots’
  2. The ceiling and a cable/stand is visible at the top of the bottle
  3. A ‘drop-shadow’ has been added in photoshop that does not actually reflect where a shadow should even be

Product photography takes careful set-up and consideration for each product. When this is done in-house that process might be sped up and a simple ‘rinse and repeat’ approach can cause issues (especially when it comes to reflective objects).

Hiring a professional photographer for your products makes them stand out and can give them the clarity and character that makes someone click that buy button.

5) Show off your best self

How much time have you spent on LinkedIn? Regular users will have seen their fair share of holiday snaps or other photos that don’t quite give off a professional first impression. Perhaps you had a great time taking in the culture of your favorite city, have taken a fun holiday snap and it will get people’s attention. Take a look at the comparison below and see which image puts across the more professional first impression.

Now, the Prague beer museum is a place where you can absorb some ‘culture’ and have a bit of fun, but it’s not the right place for your professional headshot (unless you’re a brewer perhaps!). Whether it’s a plain background or set in the location where you work, getting a professional photographer to capture the image makes a huge difference and creates that crucial first and lasting impression.

So in summary, look out for images that will make you blend in with your competitors. Give your business a more personal touch and let people see what you do, where you do it and the people who make it happen.

Nick Bright of Photos by Bright has a wealth of experience capturing the profile of businesses to showcase what makes them tick and to help tell their story. If you are looking to stand out with stunning photography get in touch with him.

Email – nick@photosbybright.com

Website – www.photosbybright.com


Join us for the CBC Visitors Day!

It’s your chance to meet local businesses, make meaningful connections and learn.

Want to build relationships with local business professionals?

Want to do business with people you trust and respect?

Want to develop your business skills?

Chiltern Business Connections offers a new and dynamic networking opportunity.

It’s £10 to attend on the day, please have cash with you, we can provide a receipt as this is a business expense. This covers the cost of your cooked breakfast, tea and coffee

On this visitors day we’re delighted that Helen Pethybridge from ActionCOACH Chilterns has agreed to share with us a simple way of looking at your business to unlock significantly more profit – and all without requiring a miracle to take place! By joining us for this open networking event, you’ll learn:

  • What are the 5 ways to making much bigger profits
  • How can I easily grow my profits by more than 61%
  • What are some of the 350+ strategies available for improving my profit ?

Helen and her team are based in High Wycombe and work with local businesses across all sectors and industries – supporting them to grow more profits, build stronger teams and save time! She frequently leads seminars and workshops with Bucks Business First and for various local networking and professional groups.

To find out more about CBC visit our website or follow us on our social channels:

Website – https://chilternbusinessconnections.co.uk/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/chilternbusinessconnections/

Twitter – @cbchighwycombe

Instagram – @chilternbusinessconnections

LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/groups/4241595/

10 Top Cash Flow Tips for a Successful Business

We’ve all heard the term ‘Cash is King’ and know that without cash a business cannot survive for long. Chiltern Business Connections member Andrew Leggett, Manager at Wilkins Kennedy High Wycombe, shares his top ten tips for keeping a business financially on track with its day to day finances. Have a read and see if there is anything that you could be doing to improve your business finances:

Firstly, watch out for key payment dates for things like PAYE/VAT. Create an Outlook reminder to ensure you have enough funds to cover these essentials.

Keep a daily/weekly check online of bank balances so that you don’t get any unpleasant surprises. You can easily set up low balance alerts on many accounts these days which will let you know should funds go below the necessary level for your outgoings, before you incur bank charges or run into an overdraft.

In many cases, it makes sense to only pay suppliers when invoices fall due, unless early payment discounts apply; although as a good local business investing in other local businesses, you may well decide to pay a bit earlier when the service provider is a micro business – you don’t have too, however it can be good to encourage local suppliers who will look more generously at you when quoting for further work.

It’s good practice to draw up a contract for services with payment terms included at the start of a project so that it’s clear from the outset what you are expecting to provide and receive.

Put in place a simple system to track orders which will ensure customer requirements are met and avoid any issues or challenges down the line. The system can be something as simple as a spreadsheet or there are also a number of free to use on line systems which are suitable for small businesses.

As soon as work is completed, invoice but also make sure all details on the invoice are correct so that there is no genuine reason for it to be rejected or queried. It’s a good idea to put a note on the invoice which states a time limit for queries to be raised, for instance – ‘Any queries regarding this invoice must be raised within 7 days of issue.’ This prevents businesses hanging onto invoices for a month and then querying something which means it’s potentially yet another month before you get paid. Systems such as Xero and Quickbooks can be used to track projects and issue invoices very efficiently.

Should there a dispute raised on an invoice, ensure this is resolved before the payment due date.

Don’t assume your existing deal on overdraft facilities is still the best option; things change frequently and it’s worth having an ongoing review or comparison at regular intervals.

Look at reducing your overheads and in particular consider energy efficiency to reduce costs; there are many deals on offer these days and also grants to help upgrade older lighting and boiler facilities to more efficient ones.

And finally, always retain sufficient reserves to cover two to three months of trading so that you aren’t always chasing those few late payments that slip through and so that you have breathing space for working capital.

Andrew Leggett at Wilkins Kennedy is a highly experienced accountant who has shared many useful financial tips with the members at CBC over the years – just one of the benefits of belonging to such a long-established local business networking group. If you’d like to know, please get in touch via our contact page.

A body is slumped over the desk….. what do you do?

We were treated to a fascinating talk by Faisal from FM Training today as he gave the group is a primary survey run through on how to deal with a situation we all hope never happens: we walk into a room, and there is a person slumped on the floor, in their chair or on the table – what do we do?

Firstly, safety first: check for danger. It’s essential to ensure that the area is safe. Check for broken glass, electrical wires – these could have been a cause of electrocution and may still be live – furniture in the way, slippery wet floors and if outside, vehicles.

Secondly, try to get the person’s attention. It’s important to find out as soon as possible if the person is aware. So, talk to them in a strong voice, say ‘Hello, hello, what’s happened? Tell me your name?’ If they don’t respond, give them a tap or shake of the shoulder or hand, to see if they are conscious.

Thirdly, if they are not conscious it’s then vital to find out if they are breathing. Breath is a vital element of life, without breath we die very quickly. How do we do this without hurting them? Put the palm of one hand on the person’s forehead, then two fingers – and please no more than two fingers – under the person’s chin and lift the chin back. This releases the tongue and should clear the throat/airway. Then listen close to their mouth for air sounds, and watch to see if their chest is rising and falling for up to 10 seconds.

If they are breathing, then put them into the recovery position; and call for help. Or if they are not breathing, commence CPR and of course get someone to call for help. How many of us know what number to call in an emergency: Well 999 is good, but 112 is better as if calling on a mobile phone the 112 number can use a geolocator to pinpoint your precise position and potentially get help to you sooner.

Faisal shared how to remember this useful primary survey of an incident through the words DR AB – any guesses as to what it means? The next educational slot from FM Training will cover CPR, then later on defibrilator use…. always something useful at CBC meetings!

5 Key Steps to Cyber Security

We were treated to a really thought provoking talk about Cyber Security from CBC member Simon Brereton of OWL Tech. Simon runs an IT business that provides prompt, friendly and efficient IT services to businesses in and around the Buckinghamshire area.

Did you know that over 70% of data/security breaches are caused by human error? To be fair most of us did then recognise some of the danger points Simon proceeded to outline.

As he said, there are only two real causes of security breaches:

  1. Someone in a company is doing something they should not be doing, or
  2. Someone in a company is NOT doing something they should be doing.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? However, it’s a fair bet that we’re all guilty of doing or not doing at least one of the things which were highlighted in Simon’s Talk. The five key steps to remember are:

Secure your internet connection

Secure your devices and software

Control access to your data and services

Protect from viruses and other malware

Keep your devices and software up to date

Pick a Proper Password

A really important element in protecting your data is to pick proper passwords that are hard to guess. Don’t forget that cybercriminals are very techno-savvy; they have access to your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn accounts, so can glean a lot of personal information about you. Don’t forget they also have access to dictionaries, books, scripts and lyrics as well. So, for instance, using your favourite song lyric as a password isn’t that secure, especially if you’ve plastered that information all over your social media!

To be secure, Simon recommends that you avoid passwords based on:

Nicknames, such as Jimbo, JimmyCool

Birthdays, such as July 14, 30-IV-1984

Quotations like, 2Bornto2B, keepitreal, and

Pet names whose exploits you’ve shared online, i.e. Mutt, Flopsy having fun.

The best advice is to go for passwords that are as long and complex as you can; 12 to 14 characters are recommended, preferably more, and use of the whole range of uppercase, lowercase, numbers and symbols. Of course, that can make remembering it yourself tricky too.

If you are having trouble remembering your password then try to make it into a saying that only you would know. Or you use 3 or 4 completed unrelated words which, again, only you would know.

Definitely avoid familiar or popular word combinations, because crooks have access to so much of your personal data and it just makes it far too easy for them to figure out your password.

You could consider using a password manager, which provides an encrypted service to generates complex, random nonsense passwords. These will also remember which password is linked to which website, which also helps prevent Phishing attacks. Good password managers are:

LastPass

KeyPass, and

1Password.

And final word on passwords, use one password per account and not the same one for several accounts.

Phishing

Have you had an email telling you that you’ve been caught doing something naughty on line? Or even that you’ve got a big juicy order waiting for you to confirm your bank details so that they can raise the purchase requisition?

Before you reply to any suspicious email, hover your mouse over the email sender details and you will often discover it’s coming not from DHL or Amazon or some on line snooper patrol, but rather a hacker’s site. Check the email address really carefully because if you click any documents or links you’ll definitely need the services of someone like Simon to clear down your computer.

Simon recommended a service called: www.haveibeenpwned.com. This is a service that checks your e-mail address against all known hacked and stolen data sets so you can see where your passwords may have been obtained from – of course, this wouldn’t happen if you had one account, one password !

Two Factor Authentication

2 Factor Authorisation is becoming more and more prevalent. It is a service that either sends you a text message or an app that gives you a second method of showing who you are – as it is a real-time, randomly generated 6 digit number going directly to your phone/app it makes it really difficult for crooks to break into your online services.

In summary, there was something for most of us to consider and hopefully take action on so that everyone is safer and more secure on line. Don’t forget that frightening static, 70% of security breaches are caused by humans, that’s us doing something or not taking some of the basic precautions mentioned above.

If you do need any assistance for IT security, or IT in general then do get in touch with Simon Brereton at OwlTech or come along to a CBC meeting to see what else we’re talking about. It’s always interesting, always fun and always beneficial.

What is business networking about?

“For some it’s ‘the old boys’ network’ – the kind of thing that’s worked in the City of London – and other places – for years. As the old saying goes – ‘it’s all about who you know rather than what you know’.

Networking can mean different things to different people.

Paul Beck, an estate planner and will writer with his business Applied Legal Services, helps people put in place key documents such as wills and lasting powers of attorney. He has also been a long time member of Chiltern Business Connections and has recently been asked to share his thoughts on successful networking. He started by reviewing some of the comments he has frequently heard:

“For others it’s about social networking – creating contacts with all sorts of groups – family – friends – people with similar interests and more.”

“Networking in business can take many forms. Often it’s a group of local business people who get together to swap ideas and contacts. Some of these groups become formalised.”

“One of the features of a networking group is that of ‘referrals’. Members are able to recommend to their own clients/business contacts/family and friends the services offered by other members of the group. For them to do this they need to get to know other group members well. This can be by direct experience or by hearing from other members of the group how good they are – i.e. ‘testimonials’.”

“Spreading from the USA the idea of formal business networking groups has become an established part of the scene. Some of these groups are run for profit by large organisations. Often there are substantial joining fees and significant on-going membership fees.” 

Paul also said that as a business networking group, “Chiltern Business Connections (CBC) is different. It’s run by its members for the benefit of its members. Costs are kept to a minimum. “

Paul Beck from Applied Legal Services shares his views on Successful Networking
(thanks to @photosbybright)

“I joined CBC 5 years ago having been involved in a number of networking groups previously. CBC runs in a way that has been ‘distilled’ over the years to provide a balance that works. The emphasis is on mutual support. By getting to know other members well it’s possible to help them with their businesses – and often be helped in return. “

“For anyone setting up in business for the first time or someone wanting to grow an existing business  I would recommend them to check out what local networking groups there are. Visit them and see how they work. Chemistry can be important – how you feel about other members of the group – whether they’re ‘cliquey’ or open and friendly.”

CBC works as a non- cliquey, friendly and supportive group. It’s well worth a visit to one of our regular Tuesday morning meetings ( 7.30am every Tuesday at Wycombe Heights Golf Centre) or to one of our guest days which are run every three months or so. Our guest days are also a little different to our regular meetings – often with more formal presentations – but the same basic openness applies. If you’d like to know more, please contact us either through our website or via any of the group members.

Moving on

Can you believe it, time flies when the networking is so good.  However, it’s been a whole year and the time has come for me to step down and make room for our new Chair, Paul Cartwright from Halo Windows. I am sure I am not the only one who is thankful that Paul has agreed to take on the post; in fact, I am sure I speak for all the members when I say his input and commitment are appreciated.  (Thanks to Nick Bright for the lovely photo below!)

When I took over the Chair’s role last June, I said that with Jay Blake as my Deputy, I would be holding the post for six months, that somehow became 12, but that was kind of expected to happen.  We all know in networking groups that 6 months is a very short time indeed.

However, we set out, with the group’s agreement, to make a positive difference, and in particular to grow the membership. Hence our increased number of visitor days and speaker events, which were all well attended. We had some excellent speakers, including:

Mike Duckett of Coaching for Success with his ‘Chimp Paradox’ review, Andrew McBarnett’s ’50 Ways to Increase Your Sales Today’ talk, as well as member contributions from the Fish Partnership on Making Tax Digital, BLR Financial Solutions on the Housing Market, and lastly the creative trio of the group, Matt Hulbert from Creative Jam, Nick Bright from PhotosbyBright and myself, Karen Pawlowska from TakeOneTV for a joint collaboration on ‘How to make the right first impression….’

We must have done something right because the year the result has been 5 new members, including Bucks College Group who applied to join straight after the last visitor day. Plus we have 3 other seriously interested potential new members from that same meeting, and one very disappointed visitor who said:

“Everything about the meeting was fabulous, I am so glad I came. I left brimming with lots of energy and inspiration, as well as many valuable leads.

If I’m honest, it’s the best networking group I have visited and I would sign up in a heartbeat if I could.

So all in all, things are moving forward at Chiltern Business Connections and hopefully with a fuller table we will now also see increased business opportunities for members all round.  Afterall, that’s why we’re there.

Paul Beck from ALS has set up a good system for keeping in touch with visitors, which will help us to be more efficient at bringing them in as visitors, subs and members going forward.

Nick Bright’s photographs on social media, together with Faisal Mahmood of FM Training’s activity on Facebook, digital plugs from Julian Richings at Local IQ and ourselves at TakeOneTV also seem to be raising the group’s profile.

There are going to be some changes under the new Chair, which include a regular business education or development slot, group deep dive networking and other variations that will be a boost to the coming year and provide good ROI for members.

So that’s it for now, I shall enjoy being on the other side of the table for a change, and once again, thanks Paul for taking over the reins, exciting and interesting times ahead!

If anyone wants to come along to find out why we all love Chiltern Business Connections just get in touch via the website for details. We’re particularly looking for a solicitor who does criminal law, employment law or conveyancing; an architect; a PR specialist; a carpenter, a plumber and a motor mechanic.

Client Testimonials Give Everyone A Smile

We all like to hear good news. It’s even better to hear good news from someone we know. And better still to receive that good news because of work we have done with them or for them. As Thomas the Tank Engine would say – ‘we beam from buffer to buffer.’ OK maybe that’s a bit over the top but the point is, we all love to hear and receive positive feedback as a result of our efforts.

As a business owner or as someone who is involved in client service, how do you go about leveraging this feedback and any good news? Would you feel confident and comfortable in asking that person who is giving you the feedback something like:

“Could you please write about our service / product and what you thought about it?” or
“Would you mind us doing a quick video to record what you thought of the service you received from us?” or, if they really don’t want to be seen on camera (see our blog on that)
“Can I please record a quick sound byte of your thoughts on our service?”

You never know and there is no harm in asking. As they say …. ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get.’ If your customers have been happy with the service or product they have received from you, it’s absolutely worth shouting about and celebrating. Existing happy clients will always be your best advocates and client testimonials are a wonderful way to have new customers come to you.

So that’s the gaining a testimonial bit, whether it be written or recorded audibly or visually – each of them has merit and is completely worth doing. We’ll be back with further tips on using client testimonials very soon, and in the meanwhile take a look at a video testimonial for Chiltern Business Connections: https://youtu.be/3L3OGDy5yCw

Visitor Day 14th May 2019

Would you like to grow your business locally? Are potential clients finding you on line, but then not engaging with you? Would you like to know how you can improve your chances of attracting more clients on line?

Well, come along to our Visitor Day on 14th May to hear our creative team talk about the do’s and don’ts of your on line business image.

Matt Hulbert from Creative Jam will shares tips on how to make your website more attractive; Nick Bright from Photos by Bright will demonstrate the value of good images and Karen Pawlowska from Take One TV will share her knowledge about how to use video to build rapport with your audience.

CBC is a local, long established networking group that meets every week at Wycombe Heights Golf Club on Tuesdays at 0715-0900hrs. As a visitor we just ask that you pay £10 to cover the breakfast and venue fee, and if you want to join – though we won’t be pressurising you to do so – there is a simple one off once and forever joining fee of £55 and then it’s £55 a month to cover the meeting costs.

We’re particularly looking for an architect, PR specialist, general solicitor, conveyancer and trades people although we promise a warm welcome for all.

If you’d like to find out more or to book your place please do get in touch asap.