Archive for June, 2010

Life lessons from sporting greats

Posted in wisdom with tags , , , , , on June 23, 2010 by wisdomlondon

It’s a sport-filled summer, bringing us myriad displays of brilliance, ability, sportsmanship (or otherwise) and dedication.  And in business, we can learn a lot from some of today’s sporting greats.  Here are a few sources of inspiration for us:

Federer: Swiss efficiency at its bestRoger Federer: Never the victim

Here’s what I like about Roger: he’s tough.  As he showed this week at Wimbledon when two sets down to Alejandro Falla, he has the right mindset to get the job done.  In the face of adversity, he doesn’t seem to feel sorry for himself or let himself think or play like the losing side.  He simply takes a moment, steps it up and delivers. Swiss efficiency, at its best.

The lesson: When times are tough, concentrate on the ultimate goal – don’t dwell on the negative.  Move on.

Ronaldo: Ever-presentCristiano Ronaldo: Ubiquity

Love him or loathe him, you have to hand it to him. He has got sports sponsorship sewn up.  With sponsorship from major brands like Nike, Castrol and Armani earning him millions, Ronaldo has inveigled his way into multiple consumer markets, becoming a ubiquitous presence on the billboards, online and on television. His stock is up, and he is unashamedly capitalising on it.

The lesson: Ubiquity doesn’t have to be a bad thing. We all want to be modest but maybe, like Ronaldo, we should celebrate our brilliance too.

Hakas and handshakes - sporting gentsVarious, Rugby Union: Keeping it real

Known as “the thug’s game, played by gentlemen”, rugby often displays what sport – and teamwork – is all about.  Yes, it’s rough by nature, but there are very few hissy fits, less ego than football and it really is all about teamwork.  One player can’t really succeed without the others. And aside from teamwork, no-one seems to take it too personally… you win some, you lose some.  It’s a game.

The lesson: You can achieve way more with others, and shared success tastes sweeter

What lessons can you draw from sporting greats?  Let us know!

Kate Spiers is founder of Wisdom London, a creative communications agency in London’s Soho.  She is deeply un-sporty but is delighted to identify some point to it all.

The Story of Wisdom

Posted in brand, creativity, wisdom with tags , , , , on June 21, 2010 by wisdomlondon

We have been asked plenty of times why Wisdom London is called Wisdom London.  Good question.  So here’s the story…

I was scooting home one day in December 2009 when a careless minicab driver drove into me.  All very dramatic – ambulances, police  and A&E, but fortunately nothing broken. That was my epiphany moment – I was going to do what I loved doing: communicate.

So the idea for a communications consultancy was born but I needed a name.  I started to write down the words that meant most to me, and Wisdom was the first one. I thought about what Wisdom meant to me and to my fledgling business.  It was this:

  • In business, we are all selling wisdom.  Whether it’s the know-how to do something, the insight to solve problems or the foresight to see what will be big…it’s all some form of wisdom
  • Wisdom London is about helping businesses tap into, harness and share their individual and collective wisdom through brilliantly thought-out marketing communications
  • Wisdom is an amazingly powerful asset and businesses often don’t recognise it in themselves, or are somehow unwilling to use it
  • Everyone’s wisdom is different...and therein lies the beauty of it. It’s all relevant
  • Wisdom London is passionate about connecting with people through communications, and often wisdom is the gift that we offer to make that connection – from tweets to sharing ideas over coffee to advice
  • Hence, wisdom is – to me – the best of thinking: being wise, thoughtful, well-judged, analytical, pragmatic and honest

Wisdom wouldn’t go away – it was absolutely my first and instinctive choice, and I loved it more when Drew Creative Branding helped bring it to life through their beautiful brand treatments. The ‘London’ bit was partially practical (trademark reasons) and partially emotional (the city about which I am beyond passionate).

I still have that scribbled page in my battered Moleskine notebook.  I never fail to smile when I look at it.  And I do, especially when I need to make a big decision – instincts are rarely wrong.

Kate Spiers is the proud founder and CEO of Wisdom London, a creative communications consultancy.  She is more in love with wisdom now than ever.

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Owls, whales and little birdies: What’s your favourite Twitter client?

Posted in social media, wisdom with tags , , , , , , on June 18, 2010 by wisdomlondon

There are a myriad of ways to access Twitter, and at Wisdom London, as part of our public service to social media, we’re trying to make sense of it all.

So we want to know, what’s your favourite Twitter client? Why?

Take a minute to tell us in our poll (you can vote more than once, if you use multiple clients), and add comments if you want to tell us more about why you use what you use!

And rest assured, you’ll get the results, all bundled up beautifully, in a week or two…we have a plan


How to…speculatively build B2B relationships

Posted in brand, creativity, marketing strategy, social media, wisdom with tags , , , , , , on June 13, 2010 by wisdomlondon

Speculative B2B Rel Building

My business is relatively new and until six months ago I hadn’t sold anything before (unless you count the success of a short-lived jam-making empire when I was 15*), so it’s interesting when people ask me how I get new clients, and how we identify who we want to work with.

*I blame rural living unreservedly.

Well the answer is, there’s no point in working for businesses or people you don’t believe in – so why not start by seeking out the ones you really love? Business development is, of course, a mixture of reactive and proactive activity but when it comes to pro-active, I think Wisdom London is pretty good. But we can all be a little reticent about building a new relationship from scratch.   We say speculative does not have to be scary.  Approach it as an exciting adventure. Here’s how:

1. Start with the ‘ideal world’ scenario

Which organisations, institutions, brand, people would you like to work for? Why them?  What is it about them that makes them so attractive to you? Note – this is nothing to do with what you think they will spend!  This is all about passion for what they do, and spotting where you fit into that. Which leads us to…

2. Seek out the common ground (round 1)

Comparing notes. The most basic of techniques used by kids and adults globally – business is no exception.  Common ground is our best friend here.  At a corporate or cultural level, what does your business and the other (let’s call them “the speculee”) have in common? From the banal (same street) to the ethical (support the same charitable cause) it all counts.

3. Do your research

Now find out some more about them – and challenge all that you think you know. Laziness shows. Use different information sources, be current: What is happening to that organization, right now? Talk to people, see what they know about your chosen one, and if they don’t know much, that’s information too (maybe in time, you can help the speculee with that).  Ask what people think of the organization in question. Ask why that is. Because before you make your approach you need to…

4. Have some bright ideas

There’s very little point in making a speculative approach to the client of your dreams and simply giving them a shopping list of what you can do.  It will not fire their imagination.  But to approach them and bring with you an idea, hypothetical or otherwise, of what you could do for them and how it could work is value-adding.  And you need to start adding value from the go-get.  Don’t be shy (or mean) with your creativity – even the most far-fetched of ideas can have legs – because it’s simply showing what you have to offer in the best possible way: Creativity, energy, passion, a grasp of the concept of possibility. All wrapped up in an idea.

Now, here comes Groundhog Day…

5. Seek out the common ground (round 2)

So you know what you have in common organizationally.  What about the actual people you could connect with? Think some more about common ground, on a personal level.  Do you know anyone in the organization, past or present? Do you have clients, suppliers or collaborators in common? Here’s where social media comes into its own: The beauty of social media is that we can access a ready stream of data on a given organization or individual, that’s generally on a pretty human level (and if it’s not, they’re not doing it right!  another area you may be able to help with…) so should give you – over time – a feel for how they work, what they are passionate about and what’s important in their lives (and by that I mean their human lives).

And then tailor your approach meaningfully, based on what you now know.

6. Connect!

There are a million and one ways that you can make the first move, but as with dating, one maxim applies: Be yourself.

If you are excited by the speculee’s business or product – say so. If you liked (or didn’t like) they way they did something – say so. If you don’t understand why they are not in a particular market – ask. You get the idea…be interested, curious, involved. The idea here is to connect, exchange ideas, interact, draw them into your world, respond, make them aware that you exist.  A few ways to do it (that work!):

  • Comment on their blog, ask questions
  • Blog about them – use them as an example to illustrate a point, or even as an open letter
  • If you do that, make them aware of it through other channels too
  • Connect via Twitter / FB – follow, comment, direct relevant information to them
  • Strike up a debate, ascertain commonalities (or otherwise) in your viewpoints
  • Bring them good ideas, suggestions, information that may interest them….in other words, value

Most of all, be brave. Don’t just aspire to work with a brand, do your most to put the right conditions in place for it to happen. Accept that it will be a slow burn, that the relationship must grow first, and that your services may not be right at this exact time. And also know when to give up – a few places you don’t want to be are flogging the proverbial dead horse or erm, cyberstalking.

Happy speculating – one of the joys of doing business.  You never know where you’ll end up.

Kate Spiers is the founder of Wisdom London. She is passionate about joining up the dots, meeting amazing people and building sustainable business relationships that are based on common ground and mutual value.  She is less passionate about jam these days, though.  Other fish to fry.

‘I want doesn’t get’ – or does it? What I want from online retailers

Posted in brand, creativity, marketing strategy with tags , , , , , , , on June 4, 2010 by wisdomlondon

We’re all pretty demanding consumers these days aren’t we? Hardly surprising: we have masses of choice, more product knowledge than ever before and a whole panel of reviewers at our fingertips through social media. And now I want more. I am well aware that brands need to compete harder than ever, and the traditional price / choice / channels options are no longer the only ones.  I want service. I want my life to be easier.  I want products and services that are totally personal to my needs.

So without any further ado, and to get this Verucca Salt-style moment over and done with, here is what I want [stamps feet]:

Ocado: Love your service, love your iPhone app, love your products.  Know what would make my life easier? A mealplanner function in my account so that I can plan a week’s meals at the same time as my shopping.  Favourites, suggestions and a drag and drop functionality would do the job nicely. Ta. Loving you deeply. But since you store all my account info and past purchases, and since it is supposed to be ‘my’ wardrobe, can’t you use this info to create a virtual wardrobe which contains my past purchases? And tell me what you think would go well from new collections? Because I rarely shop online in front of an open actual wardrobe.  Thanking you. You’re ace and you know you are.  But I am not.  I am lazy and forgetful.  Now, you know how you remind me that it’s people’s birthdays?  What about if I agree to enter some profile info on my nearest and dearest, you store it, and then next time you send a reminder you and also suggest some automatically generated personalised designs, based on what I’ve told you about these people?  I guarantee I would click and buy there and then.  Do we have a deal?

What are your fantasy service functions from favourite brands? Share them…we may have the makings of a campaign for personalised service functionality!

Kate Spiers is director of Wisdom London.  As you may gather, she shops online a fair bit and is an utter service freak.

Are we now social consumers? And where are the social businesses?

Posted in social media, wisdom with tags , , , on June 1, 2010 by wisdomlondon

I’ve noticed something about the way I decide what to spend my money on. It’s changing.  I think I’ve become a social consumer.

Social media may at times directly influence my purchasing decisions, but more that that, I now have a social mindset when it comes to consumerism.

An amazing window

Social media means different things to different people. But look how it has affected our behaviour on a basic level.  With social media, the world becomes a big amazing window to be looked out of, with loads of stuff to see, notice, learn, point to, comment on, wonder at, laugh about. And mostly we don’t keep that to ourselves. We instinctively want to share it with others. We’ve become really social.

So in my buying experiences I’m pretty social too.  I quite often don’t want to do it alone – I’d rather ask for advice or validation of a choice.  I want to tell people about it – what I love, what I’ve been disappointed by, who gives amazing customer service, whose customer service stinks.

Social experiences

And I want to have social experiences too: I went to a secret supper club at the weekend – 15 strangers pay for dinner at someone’s home, eat together, talk together. Although it was the first time I’d been to a supperclub like that, it felt really normal and really right – because in my everyday life I do all of that anyway: virtually, online, on social media. To me the boundaries blur – I found the supperclub on a blog, found out more and booked through Facebook, chatted with the chef on Twitter and reviewed the experience that way too.  So actually being there in person was like an extension of social media – normal boundaries were brushed aside because we had a shared interest and shared modus operandi. To me that’s really interesting.

What’s even more interesting is thinking about how businesses can benefit from this boundary blur and provide brilliantly for social consumers. Tricky, because for every social consumer there are plenty of traditional ones who may not be changing their behaviour particularly. But if businesses are to respond to this type of behaviour and the meet expectations that go with it, they need to consider a few basic questions:

  • Social ‘glue’ is vital. Social consumers are equally happy with an online social group as with an in-person social group – ideally both.  Shared experience and interests are key. How can businesses make that group really mean something to the social consumer? Distill interest groups down to a more intensive level?
  • Experiences count. And in-person experiences can be powerful.  So, how to extend a social media experience online further, to become a logical and seamless offline social experience?
  • It’s about openness and personal vulnerability. We all give something of ourselves through our social media interactions – clues as to who we are, what are like, our views, biases, ignorance, intelligence, a bit of our privacy at times. On a person-to-person basis, this is pretty normal.  But businesses don’t reveal their inner workings as a rule, and if they cannot admit to their vulnerability or failings, this can form a barrier to offering truly human, social experiences.

So now we have social consumers, perhaps it’s time for businesses to get a bit more social too?  Online and offline.

What do you think? Which businesses are truly social? which brands deliver effective social experiences online and offline?

Kate Spiers is director of Wisdom London.  A Gemini, communications obsessive and very social consumer.