Date: Friday 4 September 2020
Speaker: Matt Wright
Topic: 5 steps to writing effective Case Studies
In my experience, Case Studies are the single most effective piece of marketing – they are unique, compelling and have longevity.
Unfortunately, the Powerpoint presentation is too large to upload here (click on this link here to access it via the Nobleword website), so here are the edited highlights:
- Interview your client first…then interview your customer
- Know the message/USP for each Case Study and stick to it!
- Remember the 5 W’s – Who, What, Where, When, Why
- Ask open questions – you’re looking for the customer to be creative and emotive in order to create memorable content, e.g.
How did the product/service you received make you feel?
What 3 words would you use to describe the product/service
What challenge was your business facing…which the product/service helped you to overcome?
- Catchy titles – think like a newspaper/magazine and draw your readers in
- Pull-out quotes: break-up the text and help to isolate key USPs
- Testimonial quotes: scatter these liberally!
Note that getting hold of the customer to approve the Case Study can be the most time-consuming part of the process…but it’s absolutely essential that they are comfortable with what is being sent out in their name.
The advantages of this stage of the process are:
- Polish quotes: tell them you’ve reworded certain sections/quotes to make it flow better – as long as people know, they are almost always content to sound good
- Time to rethink: often the customer gets off the phone with you and suddenly realises something they’ve left out, or a quote they’d like to add – this is the ideal time for a ‘second bite of the cherry’.
- Sign off: you want the customer to agree that they’re happy with the Case Study, so that you’ve got an audit trail and a reference point if there are any issues further down the line (very unlikely, but I have known it!)
A professional pdf is something to be proud of…so don’t skimp on your Case Study at this stage – make it look fantastic!
Nobleword uses InDesign and graphic designers to create both online and hard print Case Studies.
For any more information, please contact Matt Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Date: Friday 1 Sep 2020
Speaker: Olly Denhard
Business: IT Trouble Free
Topic: Password protection
Did you know that 81% of data breaches are due to poor passwords?
The most common passwords are not always that sophisticated according to research undertaken by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC):
- 123456 [23.2m victim accounts worldwide]
- 123456789 [7.7m – cunningly adding 3 numbers only makes this the 2nd most commonly hacked password!]
- qwerty [3.8m – so letters aren’t that much safer than numbers…]
- password [3.6m – ah the old classic – all lower case mind you!]
- 1111111 [3.1m – cunning…but not quite cunning enough]
Interestingly, the NCSC also published the 5 most common passwords involving premier league football team name (‘liverpool’ champions again with 0.28m), musicians (‘blink182′ 0.29m – never heard of ’em) and fictional characters (‘superman’ 0.33m easily defeated ‘batman’ 0.2m in this particular face-off).
Practise good password hygiene
“Recognising the passwords that are most likely to result in a successful account takeover is an important first step in helping people create a more secure online presence.”Troy Hunt, international web security expert
- Identify whether your password is weak: Troy Hunt’s list – Have I Been Pwned – can be used to check breached usernames and passwords.
- Create a strong password: the NSCS recommends three random words.
- Store passwords securely: this means not on a post-it note, but using professional software such as Password manager (as recommended by IT Trouble Free – this will only offer to fill in passwords for accredited sites) or other reputable programmes such as LastPass.
“Using hard-to-guess passwords is a strong first step and we recommend combining three random but memorable words. Be creative and use words memorable to you, so people can’t guess your password.”Dr Ian Levy, NCSC Technical Director
The NSCS has published a paper on UK Cyber Security [see below] which is well worth a read if you’d like to educate yourself further about password protection.
Alternatively, call in the experts at IT Trouble Free and let them take the worry off your hands!
As ever was great to see the members even if it was in the virtual world.
We had a talk from Karen of Take One Media showing us some of the recent work they have done with some great examples of videos that show off businesses in different inventive ways, from an accountancy company that wants to show more about “who” they are as opposed to “what” they do.
We also had a great story from Charles of Longmore Solicitors showing an amusing legal story that highlighted what can happen from the most innocent of beginnings! His in depth grilling from the group on wills was also enlightening and we found out that a will should be reviewed every 5 years or when situations change – he also does this for FREE!
Date: Friday 1 May 2020
Speaker: Tony K Silver
Business: Solid Solutions Solutions
Topic: 5 Top Tips – LinkedIn profiles
Your LinkedIn profile can be your best friend – working tirelessly in the background to promote you,…or your worst enemy – undermining all your good work by presenting a poor online impression.
Here are 5 top tips from Tony to ensure your LinkedIn profile makes the right sort of noise:
1. Your banner tells your story
- Your LinkedIn banner is the editable space behind your profile photo – it’s about 30% of what anybody sees on screen when they first log on to your profile.
- Use your banner to help tell your story, reinforce your image, or to amuse your reader.
- Above all, use your banner to help people understand what you do and how well you do it.
2. Headshots not mugshots
- Smile – be approachable, this isn’t a passport photo!
- However, remember it should be a headshot, not a bodyshot, so you’ll be recognisable on mobile devices
- Avoid looking disinterested – slouching, hands in pockets…etc.
3. Job Description – think ‘Why?’ not ‘What?’
- “I’m an Executive Assistant at Alpha Network Solutions….”
- So what? What can you do for me? Why should I want to connect with you?
- This could become: “Executive Assistant – 25+ years of experience supporting CEOs, Presidents, VPs, Directors & other key leaders.”
4. Put yourself in your reader’s armchair
- The first 3 lines of your profile belong to the viewer
- Don’t begin every sentence with “I…”
5. Post creatively
- Use questions to draw in other readers: “Do you agree it’s a good idea that…”
- Tag other people for comment (pre-warn them that you’re going to do this first)
Date: Friday 1 May 2020
Speaker: Tanya Dickinson
Business: Platinum PA
Topic: : Why use a VA over a PA?
In these ever-changing times when social distancing and remote working have become the norm, the advantages of VAs (Virtual Assistants = online) over PAs (Personal Assistants = physical) has become even more pronounced.
As a reminder, here are 3 key benefits a VA can offer your business:
1. PAYG (Pay as You Go)
- With cashflow and workflow proving more difficult to predict, a traditional PA represents a fixed cost and commitment for your business.
- By comparison, VAs work flexibly as & when you require their services.
- That means no recruitment, tax or National Insurance costs.
2. Social Distancing
- The notion of a physical office for all employees was already being challenged pre-COVID 19.
- In this ‘new world’, being able to work remotely and at a distance has become mandatory
- VAs are accustomed to managing dynamic workflows and working from their own premises
3. Outsource & upskill
- VAs usually have their own unique set of skills, aside from the usual word processing, spreadsheeting and presentation competencies; e.g. invoicing, expenses and purchase ledger management
- Also, VAs are usually great networkers with an extensive book of contacts, so if there is a particular job you need, a VA should probably be your first port of call!
Having worked as a PA across a wide range of industries (financial, retail, pharmaceutical) I understand what businesspeople need and how to deliver it effectively.
There isn’t a one size fits all – everybody’s requirements and ways of working are different, which is where a VA such as myself fit in nicely!
Date: Fri 17th April 2020
Speaker: Sally Hindmarch
Business: Partners with you
Topic: Online presentation tips
1. Set-up: “Can I be seen and what can I see?”
- Lighting – have a window in front of you, not behind.
- Background – avoid dirty laundry and household items; if in doubt, have a wall behind you, or even better, set up a Virtual Background to promote your business (if applicable).
- Practise – set yourself up on a Virtual Meeting beforehand to check how you look.
- Camera position – raise your PC to eye-level; a view up your nose is never a good one!
- Clothing – avoid bright whites/all blacks (cameras have difficulty picking this up).
Oh, and do wear clothes! Just because you’re working from home, doesn’t mean you can work in nightwear…or no wear at all!
2. Sound: “Can I be heard clearly?”
Don’t just rely on your microphone – practise your diction and clarity beforehand with a few verbal warm-up exercises such as:
“Unique New York”
“Red lorry, Yellow lorry”
“Ken Dodd’s dad’s dog is dead”
[Note: no animals were harmed in the making of this rhyme].
3. Etiquette: “Would my onscreen etiquette be permissible face-to-face?”
- Don’t peer into the screen – it looks weird!
- Don’t eat on camera – drinking tea/coffee is usually OK…alcohol less so in a business environment).
- Follow the agenda – however, if there isn’t one, normal etiquette prevails; i.e. MUTE yourself when not talking, stick to the agreed timings…etc.
- Ask permission – e.g. if you need to turn off the camera to preserve bandwidth.
It’s easy to forget yourself when you’re sitting at home in front of your computer, since this is very normal.
However, just remember that you’re on camera and effectively not in your own home but on show to all!
Date: Friday 1st May 2020
Speaker: Emma Hollings
Business: EH Photography Services
1. Photo Efficiency – Recognise, Recall, Recycle
“Your outfit needs to be recognisable in a busy coffee shop”
- Find an outfit that captures your personality and helps you to stand out from the crowd
- You need to wear something you are comfortable with and will make you want to use & share your photographs
2. Recall – Social Media crossover: public to personal
“All that visibility work is really paying dividends” [Photo Profile client]
- Use your personal profile to promote your private business
- It’s not all about hard sell, especially during lockdown when so many businesses are struggling for money
- Consider putting out ‘Top Tips’ or ‘How To Guides’ for your area of expertise – if people have learnt from you, experience shows that they will come back to you at a later date
3. Recycle – Don’t rewrite, recycle your content
- The Pyramid Effect
- Extract the audio from a video and you can make a podcast
- Divide the audio into sections and you can have 3-5 blogs
- Highlight key phrases from the blogs and you can have 5-10 social media posts
- Match the photos to the appropriate content
Date: 6th March 2020
Speaker: Charles Fraser
Business: Longmores Solicitors
Topic: Powers of Attorney and the OPG
“The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) helps people in England and Wales to stay in control of decisions about their health and finance and make important decisions for others who cannot decide for themselves.”
The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) is a government body that operates within the framework of the Mental Capacity Act 2005. It is the body that registers lasting and enduring powers of attorney, so that people can choose who they want to make decisions for them
Charles recounted a real-life example (no names, dates or anything identifiable!):
- A widowed woman with dementia had 2 sons.
- She asked one of the them (together with his wife) to move into her house to help care for her.
- However, at some point in the future, the other son complained about perceived misallocation/misuse of her funds.
- There was no Power of Attorney in place at the time, so all of this had been undertaken on an ‘ad hoc’ basis.
Under the rules laid out by the OPG:
1. You have no power to make cash gifts: hence, you can’t allocate yourself any cash arbitrarily whilst looking after somebody.
2. Lifetime gifts (to yourself or other persons) which reduce the value of the estate should be treated with extreme caution; i.e. if you are intending to put a relative in care and expect the council to pay for it, bank statements will be scrutinised and your request could be refused on the grounds of deliberately trying to avoid payment.
3. Application for Power of Attorney can be retrospective, but stops on death.
There are a number of restrictions on what you can and cannot do when you have been granted lasting Power of Attorney…and if you haven’t even applied for it in the first place, you should do so immediately.
Suffice to say that you need to speak to an expert at the earliest opportunity – don’t even go there yourself!
Date: 6th March 2020
Speaker: Olly Denhard
Business: IT Trouble Free
Topic: IT solutions
Olly recounted the story of a real-life client who had run into computing difficulties. They had bought the cheapest computers on the market and, with nobody in charge, had attempted to link them across 6 remote sites using a mishmash of software and with nobody in overall control.
1. Cost-cutting – the policy had been to buy cheapest…regardless!
2. Data issues – data collaboration & ownership were either ill-defined or non-existent.
3. User competency – compromised by a miss mash of different systems running a wide variety of software.
1. PC’s upgraded – it would have been cheaper to have bought better spec PCs at the outset….but hey ho!
2. Office 365 installed across all PCs – with additional training from IT Trouble Free on the tools available (e.g. Microsoft Teams), user connectivity improved drastically.
3. Old data silo’d or destroyed – essential data was transferred over from redundant programmes and non-essential data was deleted so as not to spill over into the new systems.
1. Remote access – users are now able to log on remotely + IT Trouble Free can service, update and provide help remotely.
2. Establishment of a Corporate Data Policy.
3. Site specific storage – with 8 separate offices, an element of flexibility was required storage-wise.
If the company had bought through IT Trouble Free in the first place, they would have saved themselves a lot of grief, lost productivity and (in most likely) a significant sum of money.
Motto: Buy cheap, buy twice…or even more!