Thursday, 23 October 2014

Get your facts right!

This is the response of the Governor of the Bank of England recently when a journalist dared to suggest his thinking on forward guidance was muddled:

“Muddled? You’re muddled I’m afraid. We’ve had two phases of forward guidance that we’ve given. The first phase is exactly as you described – 7 percent threshold at a point where we thought there was considerable excess supply in the economy. In February we put in place the next phase of forward guidance and that next phase, as we said in our last minutes, as we said in our previous minutes, as we said in the April minutes, as we said in the March minutes, as we said in the February inflation report and the February minutes, that guidance is entirely consistent.”

I suspect that journalist may think again before challenging Mark Carney to explain his “muddled” thinking!

What interests me about this exchange is not how the Governor responded but how he got into the position to be able to fire off a memorable response like that in the first place. All the evidence points to the fact that the Governor had his facts very much at his fingertips. He was completely relaxed, in command, and as a result, was able to fashion a stinging reply with detail, repetition and a crescendo effect. He would certainly not have been able to do that had he been scratching around for relevant facts to fire back at the unfortunate hack.

Of course, we can’t all be as articulate as the Governor of the Bank of England. Luckily, by the same token, we don’t all have to soak up the kind of pressure he is subjected to. However, I would suggest we can all apply some of the principles at play here and use them to good effect in any business.

In today’s business world it sometimes seems we value speed and appearance of response over accuracy and quality of content. It might feel terribly out of date now but who can deny the continuing validity of that old expression – failing to prepare is preparing to fail.

Subject matter expertise (SME) is not something anyone in business can afford to ignore but a little practice and a few hours homework can make it a lot easier to grasp than you might have thought.

There are few things more impressive or memorable in the world of business than someone who really knows their stuff and can manipulate content to achieve their goals. It’s motivating of course in itself and there is a great deal of satisfaction to be had from mastering a brief and operating seemingly on automatic pilot. With the confidence that comes from knowledge, it’s possible to relax, get into a controlling position and drive your business to where you want it to go.

As in the words of the well-known advert – don’t you just love being in control!

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Get yourself noticed!

My eye was drawn recently to a story in the paper about the famous North West business Daisy Group. No. I’d never heard of Daisy either but the name of the entrepreneurial founder Matthew Riley did ring a bell somewhere. As I read on I realised where I’d heard the name Matthew Riley before – he enjoyed a bit of fame via Dragon’s Den. Or perhaps the word should be notoriety as hid job was to shatter the dreams of some young hopefuls by pouring a great deal of cold water over them and their dodgy CV’s.

Great TV, if you like that sort of thing, but also great marketing by Matthew Riley. What he did on the show by using edgy language – one candidate was told his business plan made the reader feel sick and their growth strategy smelled suspiciously like bulls**t – was to establish himself as someone with a personality and the chutzpah to show it off. Now that’s not rocket science but it established Mr Riley as confident, knowledgeable enough to criticise firmly and probably having a good sense of humour as he was clearly using hyperbole for dramatic effect.

By this simple means and getting himself on TV via his pal Lord Sugar, Riley has ensured that I was hooked enough to read on when I next came across his name in the media. In best Californian tradition, his business was launched from the garage and he is now aiming to become a Northern telecoms champion with all the job creation opportunities that no doubt brings in its wake.

We don’t all have the possibility of getting on national TV but we do have the means to work on our business persona and get it noticed. That really tired old expression about people buying people is coming to mind as I write these words.

Take some risks; get some PR out there even if you do it yourself. As the world gets busier and messages proliferate at a rate of knots it still makes perfect sense that standing out is a good idea if you need promote your business.

Mr Riley is a good example to follow in many other ways too. He left school at sixteen, prefers hard work to a flash lifestyle and professes to “like all the boring and mundane stuff like cost cutting” which he carries out from his base in Nelson. This is not really a celebrity image – rather someone who knows how to use publicity methods often favoured by celebs but in this case to drive an acquisitive business empire founded on solid growth plans.