by William Buist | Feb 24, 2020 | Business
Signposts are a powerful tool when building better business. Using them effectively is a delicate craft. Put your sign up too early, or in the wrong place, and the deal never happens, too late and it falls apart. The right, well designed signpost at the right time clears away uncertainty and builds trust. Put too much information on your signs or use the wrong tone, and there’ll be heads shaking instead of hands.
Why Use Signposts?
Signposts are like chapters of a story, and who doesn’t love a good story? By placing signposts at the right intervals, you keep the audience engaged. Signposts help reinforce your message and emphasise the main points of your presentation. Just as road signs guide you to your destination, signposts in business should guide audiences to the conclusion that they trust you to solve the challenges they have, and support them grabbing the opportunities they see.
Signposts Provide Security
Whether you’re driving to a new city or listening to a presentation for the first time, there’s an element of uncertainty. That keeps us on guard. When you present a business proposal, you want your audience to have confidence in your idea, to know with certainty that signing a contract with you will bring them good fortune. You need to provide the signs that confirm your main points, present supportive visuals, invite clarifying questions, and reinforce your selling points. When you establish yourself firmly as an expert, your audience will be more likely to relax, trust in your judgment, and join your team.
Attention Is Hard to Keep; Easy to Lose
We’ve all had that one person we know that drones on and on. There were no transitions between topics or breaks to ask questions. After a while, the words started to blend together and lose meaning. Our attention is lost. In business, a boring presentation is a failed one. Keep your audience engaged with impactful quotes, colourful visuals, clever metaphors, and anything you can think of to make your presentation more digestible and interesting. Change the energy, remind them of where you are, and then lift the mood by signposting where you could be. While it’s best to keep presentations short and sweet, signposts can keep longer ones going strong.
Make It Funny and Relatable
Business is more than deals, briefcases, and office jargon. It’s about people. People need to relate to one other, they want to feel appreciated, and even have a raucous laugh now and then. No matter how compelling your product or service, you won’t get clients without trust. Anecdotes, jokes, and amusing, relevant, videos all make you more approachable and trustworthy. You might praise an employee’s work or shout out a friend or family member who inspired you. Self-deprecating jokes often win the audience over, yet take care to use that approach sparingly. Get the audience involved. All of these signs help create a positive atmosphere and establish you as someone not just that they can, but that they will, trust.
Remind people of the journey they have taken, and the final destination they are heading towards. Then the last and most important sign you want to place is the call to action. Be clear, so that you make the action that is needed obvious and easy.
When you plan and place well designed, appropriate signs with confidence, you’ll be on your way to building better business. If you want an assessment of your progress, check out the free business audit.
by William Buist | Feb 12, 2020 | Business
I’ve talked about signposts and signposting in a previous blog. As I’ve discussed, it’s important to know where you’re going even if you don’t know exactly how you’ll get there. When you’re headed to the beach, you might have 10 different paths or roads that you could take to get there, yet you always know the general direction in which you’re heading, and that nice lazy day in the sun listening to gently breaking waves remains your intended destination.
In business too, if you have a clear strategy, a goal to aim at you’ll reach your destination more easily by following clear signposting.
Are your signposts clear?
Signposts give us clear communication and clarity of direction, but only if they are clear, concise, contextual, and relevant. It’s the means by which you know you’re on the right road. The same is true in business. It doesn’t really matter if you end up taking detours along the way as long as you keep an eye on your end goal, while you proceed with a sense of purpose and certainty. You’ll get there, even if it might take a bit longer than you’d first envisioned. Clear signposts don’t tell you everything, they just tell you what you need right now, in order to keep moving forward in the right direction.
Yet we don’t just need clear signposts for ourselves, we need to be providing clear signposts to our clients and suppliers too, so that they know what to expect, when, and in what way. That way we help them stay on their journey too.
How Does the Use of Signposts Change as You Journey?
Signposts aren’t the same at every point of the journey. They change and evolve. As you travel they give different information and guide you even if you are in unfamiliar territory. Detours that you are forced to take might make the road more scenic, but you’re still using the signposts to ensure that you are heading in the right general direction, albeit perhaps with more potholes or off-road tracks. That’s the same way you can see your business.
You trust the journey you’re taking with your business, but you also need an eye for the signposts to reinforce that you really are headed where you need to be. You might be in the fast lane and then have to take a detour. It might be a bit rocky sometimes, but you can trust in the signposts along the way the direction you are heading in will get you to your destination.
Where You Are
Signposts offer a gauge to your progress. You’ve got a clear picture of where you’ve been, but also where you are right now. We can’t read the future to know if the path might get rocky or smoother down the road, but we can move forward with confidence and assurance. Don’t forget to give your clients the signposts they need to know where they are too.
That’s where the Action comes in. It’s not enough to simply continue on the path, you need to make course corrections, based on your measurements of progress, your sense of direction and the conditions you find yourself in.
How Does Signposting Inspire Confidence and Trust?
Great signposts give you clarity on where you are going. The signs you provide for others give them the clarity they need and when clarity in communication and direction inspires confidence.
Your business can stand up to the rough patches when you continue to gauge your direction, confirm where you are, and continue to take action. Your clients will keep coming back to you for what you do if they know, from your signposts, where they are, with clarity, certainty and confidence.
Are the signposts you need clear to you? Are the ones you give others clear to them?
by William Buist | Jan 3, 2020 | Business, Collaboration, Risk Management
When we set out on a long journey we need to know, roughly, the destination. We don’t necessarily know the precise details of the route we will follow. Especially if we can’t easily identify the best route, perhaps, if we are going into unfamiliar territory.
We need to know will be signposts along the way to help guide us. As I drive from my home near Bristol somewhere, a long way away, let’s say, to see a friends in central Plymouth.
I will not see signs for their road, or even their part of town, or even for Plymouth, when I set off. We’ll see signs, that give me, and reinforce a sense of direction. I’ll look for the signs instead to take me first to the M4. And then as I approached the M4/5 junction. I’ll look for signs that say “The Southwest”. Only when I leave the main road will I see signs for the district in Plymouth, and then the right road. Then the house number.
Is business any different? We need clarity of our strategy. We need to know where we’re going. Yet, we should not expect to see signs that tell us now that we’re getting precisely there. Only that we are on the right road, or the wrong one, and to give us a sense of direction.
The first part of any strategy is thinking. Thinking about the end destination, where your business is going. Then, just like with any long journey, there’s a need for some analysis, asking the questions about the destination until it’s understood. To get to my friends means travelling on the M5. To get to the M5 means travelling on the M4,, to get there, the M48 and the Old Seven bridge. Working back from the goal is often the best approach to this analysis. Each time you asked the question (what happens before that?), you bring yourself closer to where you are now. As you get closer to your familiar territory you can analysis on how long it will take too. You can also start to identify the signs you need to see along the way to know you are on course.
Now we can move on to the planning of the detailed work we will undertake immediately. The starting points, and the things to do next, and define how we will know when we have completed that stage. For a business, like any journey, you shouldn’t just map out one perfect route. It’s important to have contingencies, It’s important to have some ideas about the landscape, and the alternative approaches. Equally, we must maintain an open mind about the route. You can replan as you drive, if you need to.
Finally, you take action. Leave and you set out on the first part of your journey. And again, signposts become so important. Not just telling you where you should go next, but also confirming where you have got to. Signposts give you certainty, that you’re heading in the right direction.
It’s important too for our clients, not to give them all the information on one sign, on one webpage, or one email, but to give them the information they need when they need it, for their journey. Our job, as business owners, is to build good signposts, that attract the right people to our products and services, that give them, at the right moment, the information they need to make a decision. A good decision, a well-informed decision.
If you want to know where to focus on your business journey, for best effect today, take the Business Audit
by William Buist | Jun 20, 2019 | Business
Every day millions of people search for somebody to provide a service, or a product that they want. Of course they are not all looking for you, but for the ones that are, do you stand out?
Standing out in a crowded market is about marketing, and you. Your reputation matters, your testimonials and case studies, all play a part in building the trust that is necessary for somebody to decide to work with you.
Even when you stand out in a crowded market by being different you have to be recognisable, a reliable, trustworthy pair of hands; a colourful poppy in a safe sea of barley.
by William Buist | Dec 27, 2017 | Business
2017 is a year which will be remembered most for how straplines played out in political realities – In the UK the #brexit Government worked to take back control, and in the US President Trump worked to make America great again.
In reality, when we look back to the start of 2017, we may know more now, but not that much has changed. The UK is still in the EU, for now at least, and America still has “the Donald”, for now at least. The British Economy has grown a bit, Inflation is up a bit, Wages aren’t. In many ways, it was ever thus.
One thing that stood out for me is the power of the soundbite – ’Taking back control’, ‘Making America Great Again’ – for creating a way of galvanising a group of your supporters, even locking them into a falsehood. For example, the ‘return’ to blue passports sold as proof of ‘taking back control’. The catchphrase provides a hook for people to rally behind.
There’s something about these catchphrases. They empower support, partly by nostalgia for a different past, partly by implying something that everyone wants. That desire may be National “Great-ness”, or the power of self-determination. Yet they are also vague, flexible, and open to interpretation. They can create a sense of belonging that blinds rational thought about what the reality is (and that I find disturbing). All these features allow them to work across broad constituencies and flex to varied contexts in the short term. That’s good for winning votes, it’s not good for businesses that want to build long-term value.
The lesson for each of us is whether we can describe what we do for our clients in a similar empowering phrase that resonates with our audience. That gives them a sense of belonging, of choosing the right thing, and of pride in the result. We must do it with integrity and honour, from the truth of wanting a better outcome for our clients, now and for the long term.
We all know some of these, and some work better than others ‘Every Little Helps’, ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’, ‘The Wonderful, Everyday’
What are your favourite business straplines?
Can you describe your business in three or four compelling words?