The importance of your staff

25 10 2012

At recent Marketing Breakfast Nigel Blow, the CEO of Arnotts, gave some excellent insights into the ongoing work of rebuilding the classic Irish retail brand that is Arnotts. You can see the entire presentation on the Marketing Institute You Tube Channel but what struck me was the emphasis Nigel put on the workforce.

Nigel started by saying that he inherited a very demotivated workforce. This is hardly surprising given that they had been told they were being made redundant during the planned redevelopment and were very much aware of Arnotts’ financial problems. However, despite all this, the staff were very passionate about Arnotts and wanted to contribute to its turnaround. Because of their great loyalty and passion Nigel was very keen to involved them in the process.

Nigel and his team held coordinated sessions with all staff . These sessions usually had about 100 people at a time and included the full range of staff for longing serving to new, from Arnotts staff to concession staff. The key points to come out of these sessions were:

  • feedback was hugely positive even though you would have expected negativity
  • staff were very grateful for being included even if many of them had seen it all before
  • you must implement at least some of what comes out of the session in order for them to have any credibility
  • the level of honesty was impressive: “you have to get rid of the s**t people”
  • a lot of time was spent on vision and values and on the ‘bullseye customer’
  • all of the results were communicated clearly
  • annual goals for staff were based on the tone set by the values

Nigel finished his section on staff by reminding us that change is difficult. As much as people say they want it you must be aware that when it is happening it is very difficult.

If you want to learn more check out my interview with Nigel conducted after the breakfast event.

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Content marketing is easy?

12 10 2012

I attended the Digital Thursday event organised by the Marketing Institute of Ireland last night. The speaker was Nick Biggam, Commercial Director of AIB Merchant Services. Nick and his team provide the technology behind electronic payments whether that is using your credit/debit card in-store, purchasing over the phone or buying online.

Nick outlined how they have grown their business through content marketing and SEO using a new website to position themselves as industry experts. I wrote a guest blog post on the event for the Marketing Institute which gives more detail but what struck me most was how much time Nick and his team invest in this content driven approach to marketing. What they do is:

  1. Write 3 to 6 independent, non-biased articles a week to showcase their expertise. This is done using a team of independent journalists as well as articles supplied by other industry players
  2. Serious SEO work involving 141 key words of which they rank first for 90
  3. Backlinks to the AIBMS website for additional information
  4. Sharing content via LinkedIn and Twitter
  5. Monthly email

That’s a lot of ongoing work!