A good track record in startups, building up and selling on.
What tips would you give to people looking to build their own company in 2015?
There is no shortage of ideas for new businesses. The problem that many business leaders run into is that they spend too much time perfecting their products and not enough time marketing and selling their wares. This appears to be particularly prevalent in the tech sector. I would highly recommend getting commercial feedback as soon as possible – if you can find half a dozen people to buy what you have to sell, then you might just have a viable business. Don’t spend forever perfecting something that might not even be accepted by the market!
How was 2014 for you? What good wins did you have?
2014 was a great year. We managed to grow the business, especially overseas. We are now operating in over 50 countries and Digital Marketing Institute is now the most widely taught and accredited suite of digital marketing courses globally.
Anything you would do differently?
Be more creative in trying out new products and services. I would rather be the one going to customers with new products, but I also appreciate that many of our clients ask us to develop new products that w can then integrate into our product portfolio.
As well as the 3 marketing events in 2015 what other goals do you have?
I am working on a number of projects, most of which fall under the “education” banner – these include conference, online training offerings, self-improvement services – but each of these allows people to improve their knowledge and understanding, thus allowing them to improve themselves and the people around them. Education leaves a positive footprint, and I really enjoy that giving part of my various activities. I also do a lot of mentoring, sharing with others the experience that I have gained along the way and hopefully enabling them to then do great things.
Is it becoming easier to convince SME’s of the value of having an online presence and a strong digital marketing strategy?
The exponential growth in digital has definitely made that job easier. The current challenge is to help SME’s to understand what they can do and how to do this. A few years ago it was simply enough to have a web site. This is simply not enough in todays complex digital world. Customers are more fragmented and are using various devices – the challenge for every business is to understand what is possible and how best to take advantage of the various digital channels.
What aspects of Digital Marketing could Irish businesses do better in 2015?
The problem is that most businesses don’t know where to start. Many believe that Facebook is the solution, whereas this might not be the case at all. The first thing that every business owner and leader should do is to stand back and consider where their customer is, what they are using to access information and how they use digital channels as part of their daily routine. In other words, find out where your customers are and work back from there. So, to restate, there is no point in having a great Facebook page if your customers are not there! Think like your customer.
Twitter, you’re active on twitter, what’s your philosophy about having a ‘voice’ on twitter?
I like Twitter because it forces you to think concisely and clearly. With only 140 characters with which to get your message across, you have to be very clear. Twitter also allows for great, snappy conversations, with friends and customers alike.
How do you manage your overall social media presence?
And any tips on having ‘off’ time too, and work life balance in general.I am a huge believer in creating a work-life balance that makes sense. It is so easy to be sucked into being online all the time. I try to avoid that by allocating “family time”, “kids time” etc.
No interests? Shame, but understandable for busy people. what do you do for fun / down time?
Where did you get that idea? (editor, see linkedIn profile!) I have lots of interests! Reading lots (from easy crime novels to behavioural economics!). Time with family, walking in the coutryside. And I am loving the TV drama at the moment (The Killing, Homeland, Borgen, Luther, Spiral, there are a rake of great drama at the moment)
What are your thoughts on business and philanthropy, like Salesforce, building in 1% from the start, or rather do it later on. What’s your own strategy on it?
Giving back is very important. Both in business and personally, I try to do as much as is possible. Personally, there are a number of things that I do, financially, giving to charities, but I also like to give my time where possible to organisations that are short of some of (and cannot afford) the skills that I have developed over the course of my life. From a business perspective, we engage in Corporate Social Responsibility in the community throughout the year.
Any sporting inspirations / distractions? Ultimate Frisbee or any other sport played?
Ah, nothing like that I am afraid – we do have a fantasy football league in work. I like to watch most sports but tend not to get too excited about any one in particular (although my sons play in the local football club so that can get interesting at times!)