Tag Archives: goals

How to Realise Your New Year Ambitions for a Successful Business


I remember reading somewhere that only about 10% of us stick to and achieve our New Year resolutions. Doesn’t that mean, therefore, that making them is ensuring a 90% failure rate at some stage? Luckily, planning for a successful business doesn’t usually adhere to the same statistics.

That being said, many people will use the start of 2017 as an opportunity to undertake a make-over, whether personal or business. Nothing wrong with that of course, but the 90% figure above hints that most of them are probably doomed to failure. Why is this? – We reckon it’s because of competing priorities, lack of simplicity or procrastination.

If this sounds familiar to you, don’t worry you’re not alone. Personally, each year, I have to remind myself to tackle these three pitfalls.

i) To avoid procrastination I try to change the way I think. We have all heard that we should start the most difficult tasks first, which is good advice. So, by saying to myself do-it-now, without weighing it up, I find works well. Do this for the month of January and it’ll set you up nicely for the rest of the year

ii) When trying to keep goals simple I have to remember to break activity into small bites. I think it is always easier to achieve small goals than one overwhelming one. Also, there’s a sense of accomplishment I find, as you strike them off your list.

iii) With regard to competing priorities, I make all my goals as tangible as possible by writing them down (or share with colleagues/friends). It makes it easier for me to prioritise my activity.

Realising your ambitions for a successful business in 2017.

The rest of this post will be for those people who have either been thinking about creating a business or want their business to be more successful in 2017. I suppose it is natural to look to the start of a New Year as the perfect time to plan guidelines for the year’s goals.

This post, however, won’t be a bullet point guide as to how you should plan for a successful business. Instead, initially, I’m going to focus on three outlooks that might help you with your 2017 business aspirations.

The foremost thing that I have learnt since setting up O’Connor & Kelly is that the purpose of business is to cater for people who will/can actually pay for the services provided. To do this there must be a complete focus on who the customer is.

For instance, we have recently launched a bundle of smarter marketing packs on our website. We based these on what we have learnt from various organisations over the last three years. We focused on different customer segments; SMEs, Clubs and Non-Profits, and have built up an understanding of what their needs really are.

What helped us with this is that we put ourselves in the shoes of the customer and asked:

-What is the trigger that would cause them to consider a purchase?

-What would deter them from going ahead with the purchase?

-Is the price matching the value that they perceive they will get?

When the customer’s needs become your focus – you can deliver value in a real way.

magnifying glass-value

The second outlook is to ensure that you are a customer’s preferred option. The main way to do this is to be relevant by providing outstanding value. If your value is not outstanding, you won’t have loyal customers, which means you won’t have repeatable business – which means higher costs looking for new customers.

Again, using O’C&K as an example, although we have targeted our smarter marketing packs as outlined, any organisation can mix and match. The point is that we have developed a good understanding of these segments based on customer insights. As a result, we believe that we can solve any particular marketing problem (flexibility) based on our experience, and can help those organisations with their growth.

Finding your own strengths to match customer insights is essential. The question to ask yourself is – are your services improving the life of your customer?

The third outlook we propose relates to marketing. If you want to realise your ambitions for a successful business in 2017, it is essential that you have a marketing strategy. In many of our previous smarter marketing blog posts, we have emphasised that marketing is an investment – which means allocating budget to it.

Look at it this way, if you have a great product/service, a great location and great staff but, nobody knows about it – you will never have a successful business. Here’s a simple, 2 part, strategy for you –  a) be seen by your target audience and b) convert that attention into business sales.

magnifying glass-strategy

Focus on these activities and avoid the other two other stumbling blocks of self-doubt and unnecessary spending.

It doesn’t matter what tools/channels you use (online ads, trade shows, social media, sponsorship, emails etc.) as long as you are showing how your solution can solve their problems. One final point on this, sales is a numbers game so you will hear a lot of no’s before getting a yes.

Personal New Year Resolutions Play a Part in Your Business Success

Whether already in business, a club, a non-profit or starting up a business, it is worth focusing on some personal resolutions also. This year why not try something new instead of adding the usually failed goals to last year’s list. It might be an idea to pick something that you would enjoy (rather than giving up something).

Here are some ideas – enroll in a certificate programme for a hobby, activity or ability you always wanted to try (learn a language, creative writing, song writing etc.). Listen to podcasts, audio books and become an expert in one topic – fundraising, for instance. Volunteer for the Board of a local charity. Mentor somebody and pay-it-forward. Try a life coaching or motivational speaking session (e.g. Howard Hughes International).

How about using social media at a personal level? You might have been building relationships online for your organisation, but how about your personal brand? You don’t have to post every day, but you can expand your own network with people that have similar interests. You might even enjoy it. 😃 As a bonus, from a brand point of view, it would be another way of allowing your personality shine through your engagement.

If you do any of the above, you won’t just be setting targets for 2017– you’ll be acquiring benefits that stay with you forever.

Tips about getting rid of those nasty habits

We outlined 3 outlooks earlier that will help you realise your 2017 aspirations whether you are setting up a new business or kick-starting an existing one. There are six mindsets that should be dropped before embarking on your 2017 odyssey.

  1. Don’t try to do everything on your own – ask for help or outsource if required
  2. Don’t try to be perfect – everybody fails sometime, making mistakes is OK as long as you learn
  3. Make it happen – don’t wait for business to come to you
  4. Procrastination – stay in the present by measuring your targets and your goals
  5. Don’t let competitors’ success frighten you – learn from them and do it better
  6. Keep focused on the mission – don’t spend money on things that won’t help you achieve it

There are plenty of things that can become obstacles in your business. Don’t let your mindset be one of them.


In this post, we suggested three outlooks that entrepreneurs and/or business owners need to have in order to realise aspirations for a successful business in 2017.  They were: a genuine customer focus. providing outstanding value and having a marketing strategy. We also mentioned that personal resolutions can impact on your organisation, so it might be worth planning for them as well.

Our tips above focused on some bad mindsets that business people should probably drop if they are to succeed in 2017. Our final caveat is not to focus purely on the science of marketing in 2017. Finding creative and smarter ways of delivering the message will always be the artistic side of marketing. We hope you will continue to be artistic and have a fun-filled and prosperous 2017.

“Thank you for reading our blog post today – Aidan & Jim.

By The Way: Can We Send You Emails in 2017?

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Why wouldn’t you use social media in your marketing strategy?

social media like

13 tips for your social media campaign.

Recently I was discussing the enhancement of a brand’s visibility, with a client, and suggested that it would be appropriate for him to incorporate an element of social media as part of a marketing strategy.

The client intimated that he would prefer sticking with traditional media because he understood how it worked. It appeared that he distrusted the “new-fangled” social media and thought it would be a waste of time and his money.

He proffered some points to back up his preference. “Millions of people still watched TV as their source of information and entertainment, and a large proportion of them still listened to the radio”, he said. He asked that with that large reach, why wouldn’t he stick with the channels he had been using for years.

He continued to say that “people trusted TV / radio / press because items were researched and presented by professionals. As a result, people felt that they could rely on the information published”. Now he did agree that more and more people were using social media, but he thought that this was purely for connecting with family and friends and that not many people were using it as a reference for business.

He was on a roll at this stage, so he mentioned that most people can remember the great advertisements produced (a la Madmen), but not so any from social media. He sensed blood so he went for my jugular – from a business perspective, he said, “there’s no proof that social media sells, it can only be a short-lived message anyway and a lot of the time it’s just as intrusive as any other channel”.

Being online is not just a nice-to-have.

I agreed that traditional and social media were two different platforms but warned that they were becoming more mutually dependent every year. People (customers) increasingly wanted brands to be available to them wherever and whenever they wanted. Therefore, an online presence is a must-have, not a nice-to-have. The power has shifted to the consumer, I suggested, and if both platforms were incorporated into a marketing strategy it would provide the potential for better business results. Some of the benefits I highlighted were that using social media was less expensive (but not free), much more interactive, like word-of-mouth on steroids and can be specifically targeted. These are unique opportunities that traditional media cannot offer.

I did admit to him that, unfortunately, many businesses are persuaded to invest way too many resources in social media (sometimes a case of the shiny new tool syndrome). But, when used in a focused way, I continued, it makes marketing activity much more measurable and accountable.

You’ll be glad to know that we agreed to proceed with the setting up of a social media strategy (on a trial basis), and here are some of the questions we asked ourselves.

Get it right by asking yourself some pertinent questions.

Sometimes businesses use social media in their marketing because their competitors are doing so, which usually leads to unrealistic expectations and eventual disenchantment. The only way to decide whether social media fits into your marketing strategy is to ask yourself some pertinent questions. Such as:

  • Is your target audience using social media?
  • Have you established goals for your social media activity?
  • Have you the resources?
  • Can you define your social media strategy?
  • How are you going to measure the activity?

An overriding point to note here is that social media activity is a sub-set of marketing activity which, in itself, is a sub-set of business strategy. In this regard, a simple way of deciding on social media usage would be to ask yourself, a) looking back – would use social media in a campaign have improved the result and b) have we existing campaigns that social media could add value. Either way, here are some solutions to the questions posed above.

  • Target audience – ask your top customers, survey the rest, scope out competitors
  • Goal setting – improve brand recognition, grow brand loyalty / engagement, sales, thought leadership
  • Resources – review people, time, budget, buy-in, training, relevant content
  • Strategy – drive website traffic, distribution for blogs / newsletters, interaction with customers
  • Measurement – SEO, lead generation, engagement, conversion, sentiment, cost savings, sales

If you can answer all these questions in conjunction with your colleagues (and superiors), and use it where appropriate within an overall strategy, then maybe your social media activity won’t be a waste of valuable resources, as suggested by my client above. It’s about building trust. If customers engage your brand at many touch-points of their choosing, they are more than likely to favour you over brands they haven’t encountered, and, therefore, can’t trust.

Tips and Timesavers.

If you have decided to integrate social media into your marketing strategy – here are 13 tips and timesavers that may be of assistance.

  1. Write down a social media plan (what, why and how to optimise it)
  2. Seek out influencers from your industry (follow and engage with them and give back)
  3. Prefer content quality over quantity (should be educational, engaging or entertaining)
  4. Use original imagery (stock photos are not recommended and always check the license)
  5. Establish reader personas (solve their problems – here’s a fun tool I discovered this week)
  6. Add an insight if sharing other’s content (build thought authority)
  7. Establish a budget (management, tools, images, videos etc.)
  8. Repurpose existing content (or use customer generated content)
  9. Keep your eye out for new tools (often channels or tools are upgraded or replaced)
  10. Dabble in PPC (social advertising can be capped at a cost that suits your budget)
  11. Develop an editorial calendar (good for principles, not rigidity)
  12. Encourage buy-in (from all staff not just the C-Suite)
  13. Profiles should adhere to brand style-guides (bios, messages, images. tone, positioning)


The world of social media is constantly changing. It is because of this change that some unfounded, anecdotal evidence or myths spread about social media experiences. Let’s debunk some of them – people are reading your posts but they may not engage with them. Your blog post will not reveal trade secrets to the competitors and online activity will not constantly expose you to comments that might damage your reputation (unless you deserve it). One of my favourites is – more is better (vanity metrics) which is crazy stuff and finally, social media is free, which believe me, it is not.

“We hope you have enjoyed our marketing tips and timesavers blog” – Aidan & Jim.

Would you like to be notified by email when we publish new content? If so, just let us know by clicking here. Of course, we can always meet face-to-face, just leave your details here and we might grab a coffeet, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K

Campaign Planning is in the B.A.G.

campaign planning


“We want to create value for you by sharing marketing tips and timesavers” – O’C&K.

9 tips to help you to outsource the planning of your next marketing campaign.

I am going to write about campaign planning later, but I want to explain why, first. I attended the launch of a very exciting initiative by a group of SMEs last Tuesday in the Green Isle Hotel, just outside of Dublin City. The founding members are putting together a Business Action Group (B.A.G. – Facebook & Twitter), who have decided to do it for themselves through collaboration, with a focus on sales. 250 people turned up to hear various presentations from business people, ranging from retailers and dragons to bankers and serial entrepreneurs.

The message for all attendees was loud and clear, throughout the day – know your customer, know your business proposition and persevere.

Part of the schedule was a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style presentation from three attendees to a panel of judges including Gavin Duffy, Ramona Nicholas and Niall Harbison. Here are some of the main points I took from their session:

  • Clearly understand why you are in business.
  • Realise who your product / service is for.
  • Know where your audience is and what they do (offline and online).
  • Network, network and network and listen to feedback.
  • Know why existing customers buy from you.
  • Your customer service is your marketing.

It was good to hear that in order to optimise your marketing, the old truism still applies – have the right message delivered to the right people at the right time and in the right location. And, if you don’t focus, listen, segment and respond in a relevant way, you may be wasting a lot of your time.

What we do, make or provide is irrelevant if it isn’t focused on the customer – O’C&K.

Stages of a marketing campaign plan.

As I spoke with fellow attendees (way too many to mention here), during the breaks, two themes kept reoccurring – 1) the notion that B2B marketing is difficult because it is boring and 2) the question of how to plan a marketing campaign. I thought that I would address both themes by way of content for this blog post.

From a communication point of view, there can be a perception that B2B marketers lack creativity as compared to their B2C peers. Also, that campaigns focused on businesses are dull but those focused on consumers are (can be) exciting. I don’t believe that this is necessarily true but if it is, I think that sometimes, marketers (or their brief, if outsourced) forget that organisations are made up of real-live people also!

Business buyers are also consumers in their own right and in this instance just happen to be buying for their company. They may be married, have children, play sport, blog, are social media fanatics, watch TV and go to the theatre. Normal people like us! They don’t change into another species when they don the business attire. They are looking for something everybody else is looking for – a simple solution to satisfy their needs or requirements.

In fact, isn’t everybody today looking for simplicity – in their workplace, in their schools, and where they buy things. No matter who they are, technology is assisting and empowering all types of people to simplify their lives and marketers (and businesses) must respond. My point is this, whether you are a B2B or a B2C business, your audience simply wants to see the benefit for them of working or doing business with you. Simplicity should not mean sacrificing creativity when campaign planning.

I think the best way to address the second theme is to outline the stages of campaign planning.

  • Setting campaign goals – what are you trying to achieve and how will you measure it.
  • Determine a target audience and insight – why will they respond to your call to action.
  • Agree the key campaign message – your positioning and the story around it.
  • Develop a media plan and a budget – what channels to use to reach your target audience.
  • Plan engagement strategy – how will you make contact and convert (online and offline).
  • Include action from existing customers – WOM techniques e.g. social media shares.

This is just a basic outline of what should be involved, but it was what I was discussing with our fellow ‘baggies’, at the launch. Actually, speaking of planning customer engagement, Amanda Coleman from Sugar & Spice made plenty of new friends at the event. She had a marvellous display of her product (candy buffets) which proved to be extremely popular with everybody, when they (ahem) were encouraged to sample same.

Sugar & Spice Candy Buffet

Good marketing is the same as it always was.

At O’C&K, we meet a mix of B2B and B2C organisations that want to outsource some or all of their marketing. Irrespective of which one they are, the same issue arises about marketing. They expect us to show them where the easy button is, where our magic wand is to solve their marketing problem. Unfortunately, we have to point out that there is none.

That is because good marketing, whether online or offline is the same as it always was. Of course tools and trends may change, but the first rule of marketing will not, – ‘know your audience’. It is why we spend a lot of time with clients determining their real audience, and why the message from the B.A.G. launch resonated with me so much.

Tips and Timesavers.

If you don’t have the inclination, the time or the experience to undertake campaign planning, of course you can outsource all or some of it. Here are some tips to remember, if you plan to do that.

  1. Find people who can relate to your passion – they should be able to replicate your energy.
  2. Work with people who offer value – time is precious, don’t let others use yours.
  3. Focus on what the media is worth to your business – not just the cost or the deal.
  4. Marketing materials don’t have to cost a fortune – work with people you can trust.
  5. PR is not dead – but agencies must have a proficiency in online reputation management.
  6. Know who the influencers are in your industry – bloggers, magazine editors, speakers etc.
  7. Marketing outsourced should increase your capacity and capabilities –winning teams collaborate.
  8. Research is essential – online tools are available and many are free. Only pay for new research.
  9. Make sure the marketing activity is relevant – people have never had it so easy to switch you off.

To finish off I want to focus on a few common reasons why campaigns may fail. The most common is, not knowing whom you want to do what. You must be aware why those people will even listen to your message – what’s in it for them? The second most common reason is not pre-defining success. It will only be successful if the campaign objectives are linked to business objectives.

The strategy should connect the ‘why’ with your brand. My third reason reflects the points mentioned already in this post – a lack of creative thinking. Marketing requires ideas that engage people either through entertainment, problem solving or education. We believe that almost all agencies can provide a business with creative ideas. What happens sometimes though, is that the campaign brief to the agency is not clear for reasons one and two above. This is where you just might need to outsource these skills to the experts.

 If you have any other tips or timesavers please leave a reply below. If you’d like to receive similar content, just subscribe by clicking through the pink button, on this page.  Of course, if you want to get in touch, leave your details and perhaps we might meet for a chat, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K