By Nils Solvang, Managing Partner
Our marketing adviser was coming through clear and loud through the Skype call – and he was definitely on a roll. “Guys, the way I read this is, me, us, look at us, look how clever we are”. “Do you really think any potential customer is going to get past this techno-babble and seriously consider engaging with you because you think you are so clever?”
He paused for just long enough so we could quietly have a quick scan through the text on our homepage and realise that he was probably right. Really annoying. At the first hurdle we realised that we had probably written our web-site blurb more to show how clever we are than for any real customer out there.
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How did we end up in this conversation?
Rewinding a month, I’m in a rather modest office on a North London industrial estate trying hard to sell our fledgling IT consultancy business CloudCIO as an obvious candidate to receive a £2000 Government Growth Voucher to improve customer acquisition and retention. We were busy, but all work was coming from our immediate network and we realised that we needed help on Advertising and Marketing to grow beyond our immediate surroundings – hence some financial support would be just the ticket.
A consultant takes me through all sorts of questions about the business, and as the questions dry up I wonder how and when the grant decision will be made? The interviewer looks a little bit embarrassed for the first time.
“You’ll get the decision from me in a minute”.
I’m impressed. “So you make the decision now based on our conversation?”
“Ehr”, looking down at his keyboard now. “The decision will be made by this computer”.
Now I’m awe-struck. “You use Artificial Intelligence to make a decision based on my answers?”
“Not quite, it just randomizes and picks about sixty percent of applicants depending on how much is left in the budget”.
Ahh, I’m quickly brought back to practical reality. He pushes the button, I hold my breath, and in seconds his face lights up.
“Congratulations, you got approved”. I thank him and walk out of the office slightly baffled but pretty cheerful. I never had much luck with lottery before. Now we can go Viral.
So back to our Skype call, Voucher in hand, we have now found this approved adviser who is giving us a hard time. He does make sense though, so we can do with a little bit more of his time. Our funds are limited, and we would have to match the Voucher spend with our own money. Could he spend half a day looking at our web-site and give us some feedback for a few hundred pounds? Well, his advice offering is tailored to the government scheme, so £4000 spend is the minimum. The level of advice we want would not qualify for the voucher, and by the way payment has to be up front, before the first real meeting.
Wow, this is a new world. Had not expected that. We thought about it – for about two seconds before we politely decline the offer. This does not seem to be the right way to go about it.
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So we did not utilise our Government Growth Voucher in the end. Got busy, didn’t really see any good advisers with a more flexible offering and the time ran out on us. The marketeer we spoke to was probably quite good, he certainly had the measure of us straight away, but was probably more suitable for a start-up business selling online than our CloudCIO consultancy.
Was the Voucher a waste of time?
Not really, it did focus our minds, but we did end up using our own professional networks for further review and advice. Maybe the Government should look into ways of allowing the vouchers to be used more flexibly to make this well meant scheme a more practical vehicle for us poor marketing novices? No easy answers in the tricky field of technologists doing Marketing – but we’ll keep on trying.
For informal discussion, contact CloudCIO