9 Jun 2015

You dancing? I'm asking!

Picture the scene. The band are playing your favourite song, the venue is packed. Your toes are tapping, your fingers are drumming out the beat. The dance floor is empty apart from one woman, dancing 80’s style in sharp angular movements, waving her arms around and grinning ear from ear, singing along and lost in the joy of the moment.
She signals to her friends at the bar to ‘Come and dance, come on, come on!’ but they all decline, reluctant to be in the spotlight. Scanning the room her eyes meet yours and she approaches. ‘Come on, come on and dance!’ What do you do?
A handful of people reading this will get up and join her, free from self-consciousness or inhibition. A percentage will wait until the dance floor is packed before finding a small cramped space to shuffle their feet. Others prefer to stay in their seats, watching from a safe distance.
This scenario reminds me of how businesses use social media. Initially the dance floor was empty, people were too risk averse to get involved and now the social networks are so packed it’s elbow room only. Is your business, product or service standing out from the noisy crowd? Are your moves cool or stuck in the 80's? Are you in tune with your customers or one step behind?
Lately I’ve been carrying out reviews and taking strategy workshops with organisations and teams who, like 80’s Dancing Lady, are willing to put themselves out there. They are open to an outsider (me) casting an eye over their work because they want to be better than their competitors, they want to understand why Action A delivered results and Action B didn’t. They want to learn the latest moves and they want someone to be straight talking and teach them methods that will support their business goals of ultimately increasing participation or selling more products. 
Some clients are experienced traditional marketers, others are SME’s or small teams with no marketing support in-house.  I offer a fresh perspective on how they currently sell their product or service online and together we work through potential alternative approaches. It is a bespoke service for each client, one size definitely doesn’t fit all. I find this area of my work really rewarding because the people who employ my services are results driven and therefore open to new opportunities to develop their business. In other words, they want to learn which creates a positive environment to work in and we all enjoy the time together.
As a consultant my performance is evaluated constantly, I need to be at the top of my game and willing to put myself out there to be judged. Staying seated at the back of the room just isn't an option for me. I like people and I love the challenge of creating strategy and coming up with ideas and solving problems. I understand that others are less comfortable with someone reviewing their performance (unless you work in sport!) but my role isn't to critique, it's to support, to develop, to up-skill and to work with your team to create a strategic and deliverable plan. The review simply marks a starting point to identify where time and effort should be invested.
Could your marketing plan benefit from an outsiders perspective? If so get in touch because if you're dancing, I'm asking.
Thanks for reading. Annie Boyd is a marketing and business consultant specialising in social media strategy. Her clients range from large public sector organisations to SME’s and for the last few years her focus has been sports marketing. She enjoys working with individuals or teams who are open to new ideas and who like to look for solutions rather than look at problems! Get in touch if you’d like to have a chat about working together.

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