P l at o Po s t E z i n eIssue 1 June 2012 Connectivity is a vital resource .... Get connected and stay connected to your trusted sourcesAfter four years of contraction the in- to bring fellow owner managers along to Over 50 % of the companies assisted aredigenous sector is showing some posi- connect with like minded peers. These Sole Traders or Partnerships: 75% havetive signs of development. There are events are proving very successful. Have less than 5 employees and a turnover ofstill real problems for small business to a spot of lunch, get some information and less than €500,000.overcome. Access to finance and share intelligence.credit, confidence and demand remain Information Roadshowsweak, yet there are indications that a Family Business Ireland Over recent weeks we have attended alevel of stability has arrived albeit at a Plato has long been a centre of excellence number of events with B2B Network,low level. It is too early to know if the and support for family businesses and the South Cork Business Alliance, Northcorner to recovery has been turned, but development of the on-line specialist Cork Referral Group, MacroomE Con-there are clear signs that there are many website was the www.familybusiness.ie nect Business Network, and Acorn Busi-more entrepreneurs on the road to re- has been warmly welcomed throughout ness Campus. We would like to thankcovery. the country. Family Business Ireland each of these groups for their kind invi- supports, advises and helps to build sus- tation .It is always important to be connected tainable futures for Irelands familyin business. Connected to peers, peer owned and family run businessesgroups, sources of information, marketintelligence, potential markets, custom- Family Business Ireland is a confidentialers…..In the current challenging and network dedicated to the wellbeing anduncertain environment it is even more support of family business owner-important to be connected. Peer to peer managers, and the development of theirsupport whether it be individual one to businesses. It is an educational and sup-one, group or intergroup activity is a port service for the founders, owners, nextgreat resource. Over the past year many generation managers and professionalold friends/former ‘Platonians’ have re- advisors of family businesses. Over theengaged with the network. More are past fifteen years we have directly facili-engaging every month and their experi- tated hundreds of family businesses Welcome to this edition of the Platoence is invaluable and of great assis- throughout Ireland to manage the issues Post ezine.tance to new and younger entrepre- of succession, legacy, transference andneurs. continuity. Whilst the trading environment con- tinues to be very challenging there isPlato is seeking to provide the widest Small Business Advice Initiative evidence that stability and a measurerange of peer to peer supports that re- (www.smallbusinessadvice.ie) of confidence is emerging in the inter-sources allow. The following is a sum- nal economy. Not before time.mary of the range of supports currently The Small Business Advice Programmebeing provided. is a joint initiative of Bord Gais and Plato Matters are still in flux, France has a (Cork). Originally launched in Cork as a new president, Ireland has approved10 New Plato Network Groups pilot programme in October 2009 the the Fiscal Treaty and the out come ofDuring April and May ten new net- initiative is now available in four regions the Greek general election may yetwork groups were launched in Cork – Cork & Kerry, South East (Waterford, determine the future of the euro...and Dublin. These groups are facili- Wexford, Carlow, Kilkenny & Southtated by senior managers from a num- Tipperary), Mid West (North Tipperary, There is little can be done to influenceber of our longstanding parent compa- Limerick & Clare) and Dublin (covering the external environment however thenies—EMC, Thomas Crosbie Hold- Wicklow & Kildare). internal environment can be managed.ings, Examiner Publications Ltd, Hei-neken Ireland, PepsiCo Ireland, Bord The Dublin launch took place on Wednes- In times of uncertainty the one trueGais Eireann, Bank of Ireland and Ul- day 28th March and was performed by source of competitive advantage isster Bank We are also delighted to John Perry TD, Minister for Small Busi- knowledge. Being connected to trustedwelcome two new parent companies ness. sources of information is vital. WeGE Healthcare and PepsiCo World- To date 400 applicants have been assisted deeply appreciate all those that main-wide Flavours. by 4 regional teams of advisers / mentors tain the knowledge and fabric of the who volunteer their time free of charge to network. help these small companies. The totalFree Lunches - “Bring a Buddy” and number of advisers involved is over 150 J.J. OConnellInformation seminars and growing. Plato Business NetworkPast and present members are invited
ISSU E 1 PAGE 2 Tell Your Story To Get Noticed ........ IF you want your business to As an award-winning documen- fit your customers and draw business get noticed, you have to tell tary photographer, he can pro- your way. your story - from the heart and duce a series of storytelling with gusto. You have to reveal photographs that show people As a special deal to Plato members, yourself, along with your pas- your professionalism and pas- Roger is currently offering a com- sion and your professionalism. sion. prehensive photography package at You want people to know that €795 (half his normal rate) that will you are competent and that As an award-winning blogger, provide you with a set of storytelling you care. he can help you launch and documentary photographs that you maintain a blog. can use to connect with your target Most of us struggle to tell our audience. story properly. Some of us As one of Ireland’s few weekly don’t tell our story at all. podcasters, he can get you To see the stories he has told about That’s a shame because we’re started with your very own other companies, visit his website at missing out on business. online radio programme about www.rogeroverall.net. your industry and your business Plato member Roger Overall - hosted by you. You can reach Roger on telephone can help you draw customers number 021 4500 581 or by email at into your world by telling He can even help you produce firstname.lastname@example.org compelling stories about your and broadcast a series of engag- business. ing online videos that will bene- Excitement and anticipation are growing as the completion of the Mobius Development Centre draws close. The creation of the Centre on tional change in areas such as leader- and our narrow roads were designed Heir Island, Skibbereen Co. Cork ship and team effectiveness. with donkey and carts in mind, not by Plato Network Member Mo- cement lorries. Each day we observe bius is the realisation of a long A connection has existed with Heir this team demonstrate leadership, col- held dream to create a space that Island for over 40 years. Owners laboration, strategic thought, team- offers something quite different. Paul and Sarah Matthews saw the work, great communication skills and potential of this beautiful island in humour in fulfilling our vision and in This will be a unique and dedi- offering a very unique and highly so doing leaving their own legacy cated venue where people can suitable location. here. We find this very fitting and the come, individually or in groups, to significance does not go unnoticed. engage in professional or personal development. It will offer the op- portunity to move beyond conven- Paul & Sarah Matthews, Mobius tional development by harnessing Coaching and Development Ltd the inspiration of the natural sur- Heir Island roundings, the tranquillity and email@example.com benefit of reflection that comes Construction began on site in early www.mobiusleadership.ie with being able to step back from September and the project pro- ‘reality’ in this island location. gressed well right from the start. We are grateful to have a Team on board We believe location is a key factor who have done everything possible in creating the environment most to keep the project on schedule ready conducive to any learning. The for a launch in September 2012. Centre will enable teams and indi- viduals to gather, be in dialogue, Achieving all of this is no mean feat be coached or to attend workshops as construction on an island means designed to create transforma- everything has to come in by barge
ISSU E 1 PAGE 3 Top 5 Social Media Tips 1. Multiple Media: measured by the amount of 5. Branding: Likes their Facebook page has While a social media marketing received (more than a thousand Branding your campaign is a campaign is a great idea, it is in the last 3 months). As you can must as it is your company that important to do a bit of research see it’s a very simple but effec- you want stick in your custom- into the media you will be using tive way of increasing their ers’ minds. When it comes to before starting. Failure to do so product awareness and gaining placing your company’s brand could spell disaster for your en- new customers. on your social networking sites tire campaign. What you will you are often quite lim- need to figure out is, which so- ited. Twitter allows you to alter cial networks are your target au- 3. Regular Posting: everything from the page back- dience using. Such research is ground image, to the colours of more important than you might It’s all fine and well to start a individual links but sites such as think, did you know that Face- social media campaign but how Facebook only allow you to edit book’s fastest growing group of do you keep your audience inter- a profile image (Facebook Apps users is women over the age of ested and how do you keep them allow you to add some creativity 50? Once you have found this it coming back? It’s quite simple to your page, but these are more is probably best to choose the really; regularly post updates difficult to create). Your social top three and focus your atten- and information. This will en- media branding needs to be con- tion on them. Trying to cater for sure your content appears in sistent with the branding of your all networks will be too time your followers’ and fans’ feeds company – not changing your consuming and may not provide and as a result will keep your Twitter account’s style or not a strong return on investment. company in your audience’s putting up a Facebook profile You will find that your target minds. Failure to do this will image that accurately represents audience is spread over a num- mean your campaign will finish your brand is tantamount to re- ber of social networks, therefore the same day that it is launched. leasing a business card with no by targeting a small number of contact details. different networks you can maximise the returns, both in 4. Engaging with your audi- Essentially, the aim of your so- terms of finances and public re- ence: cial media marketing campaign lations, of the campaign. is the same as with any advert; Another extremely important to have your company stick in point when running a social me- your customers’ minds. How- 2. Offers/Competitions: dia campaign is to constantly ever, the great difference with engage with your audience. social media is that it allows you One of the best ways to grab the Regular posting is fine but what to build a rapport with your cli- attention of your audience is to you are really looking to achieve ent base by interacting with offer them something, or to run a is to have your audience posting them. This is surely more power- competition for them to enter. to your social media channels ful than any advert and is the One SME that uses this method with questions and comments. main reason why we should take very successfully is Animology, This kind of engagement is cru- social media seriously and give an English pet grooming com- cial because it shows that your it the thought it deserves pany. In the past month they campaign is working and is have started running a ‘groomer gathering interest with your au- Sourced from of the month’ competition on dience. http://blog.arekibodigital.com/ Facebook. They also offer a free sample of their products to inter- ested parties. The success can be
ISSU E 1 PAGE 4 Recent Plato events PLATO member helping European “What Every Business needs To Governments save money Know About The Internet” pre- sented by Anthony McCarthy Plato Network Member Mike inclusiveness, wide interoperability, McGrath, founder of sup- transparency, traceability and ac- Plato Information lunch for ply.ie, was recently appointed countability. The aim is to use lead- Acorn Business Campus (closed to an European Commission ing technologies ensuring software meeting) expert group to advise on delivery as a service via Cloud com- Who to Talk to? Expo in associa- European e-procurement. Ac- puting. E-procurement can help pub- tion with North Tipperary County cording to recent research, a lic authorities to purchase goods and Council full switch to e-procurement services quickly and efficiently. It may save between €50 to €70 can help suppliers to identify oppor- billion on public procurement tunities and participate in tenders at Upcoming Plato events in the EU per year. The pur- lower cost. Thus, e-procurement can pose of this group is to assist increase the efficiency and effec- “Leading through Uncertainty” the European Commission tiveness of public procurement as a presented by Miriam O’Connell create an European e- whole. procurement environment Wealth Management which is based on best of Mr. McGraths expertise was recog- presented by Bank of Ireland breed solutions, which is eas- nised by the European Commission ‘Bring a Buddy’ Lunch ily accessible and usable by as founder of www.supply.ie - a public purchasers and suppli- simple e-procurement system for ers (having particular regard to Businesses which sources great lo- the needs of SMEs), and cal suppliers with competitive where on-line procurement quotes, essentially saving companies Experience taught me a few opportunities are visible and time and money. supply.ie are active things. One is to listen to your accessible to suppliers across PLATO members while also top- gut, no matter how good some- the single market. ping the awards recently at UCCs thing sounds on paper. The sec- inaugural IGNITE awards. Mr ond is that youre generally bet- Mr. McGrath commented that McGrath also commented that “this ter off sticking with what you “the problem is that there are is great recognition for supply.ie know. And the third is that over 280 public e-procurement while it is exciting to be defining e- sometimes your best invest- systems across Europe with procurement systems, leading to ments are the ones you dont varying technologies, lan- greater openness and competition make guages and procedures. This which will certainly assist the Irish myriad of systems are there- Government reduce their annual €15 Donald Trump, real estate and fore inefficient and difficult to billion spend.” entertainment mogul use for both contracting au- thorities and economic opera- tors. For example, an Irish company wishing to sell to the German Government has to register on 25 different sys- tems, monitor each system for opportunities and then respond E: firstname.lastname@example.org in varying formats/languages”. M: +353 (0)86 8984422 P: +353 (0)21 2340204 Genius is 1% inspiration The European Commission and wants to tackle these chal- L: Linkedin: Mike McGrath 99% perspiration lenges by identifying the best T: @supplyIE e-pr ocur ement solutions F: http://www.facebook.com/ Thomas Edison, across Europe and define a supply.ie inventor and scientist blueprint for e-procurement B: http://www.supply.ie/blog that ensures wide accessibility including cross-border, SME
ISSU E 1 PAGE 5 Sobering Thoughts On “Marketing” For Managing Directors And Business Owners It’s a staggering statistic but re- So consider this…. You are not just competitive marketplace, what can searchers claim that the average up against your competitors. You are you do to cut though the clutter, get consumer receives over 3,000 con- literally battling for time, pockets and your message seen and ultimately scious and subliminal commercial attention of your prospects… against acted upon? messages every day. If that isn’t every other company out there that enough, it is further estimated that sells a product or service. “I call it the FastGrowth Methodol- the average managing director or ogy and it has helped many busi- business owner receives over 4,000. If that’s not bad enough, with all the nesses like yours to rapidly acceler- Now, even if that were only half “junk” and subsequent customer resis- ate their growth” true then it demonstrates very tance, it’s not hard to understand why clearly that we live in an over com- the cost of acquiring a customer has Now, there is every reason why these municated society. almost tripled since the 1980’s and yet same “FastGrowth” systems will the effectiveness of closing a sale has work for you… regardless of your We automatically defend ourselves halved. That means that it now costs industry sector. After all, every against this sensory overload of you three times more to get half the growth business is in the business of marketing “junk” or “clutter” by results. acquiring more customers, more simply not taking it in, scanning it sales and more profits. So, if your out or just simply avoiding it, in all It’s no coincidence that the strategies company has a turnover of €500,000 its varied mediums; ads, brochures, and principles at the core of Fast- plus, and you have a strong desire to direct mail, proposals, TV and ra- Growth’s business development sys- see it grow and succeed then speak- dio, telemarketing, cold calling, tem has taken three companies from ing with Plato Network Member promotions, billboards, email, sales zero to multimillion euro ventures, Martin at FastGrowth Marketing & literature, pop-up’s and the rest. each in less than twelve months. It Business Development could be the was done by using methods, tech- best chat you’ll have this year. It’s highly likely that your com- niques and systems that make things pany’s expensive marketing cam- happen – and happen quickly. If you’d like to explore ways in paigns and attempts are part of which you can accelerate the growth someone else’s clutter or junk. And, with more and more products of your business give Martin a call Your staff is either ignored or your and services becoming available every on 086 819 4729 for a FREE consul- marketing material is not seen or day your problem is being com- tation or go to: www.fastgrowth.ie or put straight in the bin. pounded further. In such a massively email: email@example.com GoldStar Telecom Celebrates 25 years This year marks the 25th year in Ericsson met with GoldStar Telecom business for Plato Network member management for a series of meetings GoldStar Telecom. In 1987 Tony from March the 14th - 15th. Tracey founded the company after he contacted and met with represen- tatives from LG in South Korea. During the meetings, Mr. Shin gave GoldStar Telecom then became the presentations on the new products first European distributor for LG that will be coming on stream shortly, Telephone Systems in that year. including Android and Apple iPhone Since then, the Telecoms section of Integration, Call Recording Solutions LG has become LG-Ericsson, after a and a new range of enhanced IP joint venture agreement in 2010. Phones with gigabit support. Before To kick off the 25 year in partner- Mr. Shin left, he was given a brief th Mr Brian Shin Sales Account Manager for UK and Ireland of LG-Ericsson getting to grips ship, Mr. Brian Shin Sales Account demonstration of hurling, and adapted with the hurley and sliotar, with Liam Tracey of Manager for UK & Ireland from LG- very well. GoldStar Telecom at a recent meeting in Gold- Star Headquarters in Cork City.
ISSU E 1 PAGE 6 Spotlight on ....... Timing, perseverance, Computer Advisory Services and ten years of trying will eventually make you Every day the business world becomes an asset for your business not a problem. look like an overnight more driven by information technology. We work around your business. We strive success to make technology integrate seamlessly In this hyperactive, global environment, with your business so your business can Biz Stone Computer Advisory Services enables com- grow. Co-founder, Twitter panies to gain full advantage of Information Technology to increase efficiencies, im- We offer Web Design , Ecommerce, Social prove effectiveness, and reach new goals. Media , Software Solutions, Training, Com- puter Hardware, Business Support pack- Computer Advisory Services offers the age. highest quality of products and services on the market today. Since 1996, we have Contact John OHanlon, Computer Advi- Innovation distinguishes provided superior service to our customers sory Services, Ballinacurra, Kinsale, Co between a leader and a and have assisted them in achieving their Cork follower goals. Our years of experience and commit- ment to excellence have earned us the repu- Tel: 087 2652697. Steve Jobs tation as the best providers in the area. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Co-founder, Apple Web: www.computeradvisoryservices.com Our mission is simple - Make technology 10 Tips to Kick-start Your Sales Skills 1. Find your comfort level. Getting comfortable with selling is a key first step for any entrepreneur 2. Define your target audience. Identifying a specific customer target will help you refine your selling strategy and be more efficient. Lets say your company sells photocopying machines. Is your target audience small retailers? Corporate offices? Schools? People fail often times because they try to be all things to all people. You have to segment your selling efforts 3. Study customer buying habits. Once youve identified your audience, pay close attention to customer behaviour. For example, if youre selling a high-priced item, youll observe that customers often take longer to make a deci- sion. That means you should plan to spend more time closing the deal. 4. Fawn over your first customers. When you start out you should do everything possible to please your first customers, even if it means not making as much money from sales as youd like. Those first customers will help create your companys reputation. You are going to need testimonials, it means so much to have those references early on. 5. Take time to build relationships. One of the biggest mistakes owner managers make is failing to build relation ships with customers. The first thing you are selling is yourself. If they dont like you, the sale is not going to hap pen. 6. Stay on the radar. Once youve established rapport with customers, find ways to stay in contact with them, such as through regular newsletters about your business , updating your website, Facebook, LinkedIn, twitter etc 7. Dont make assumptions. Too often, small-business owners sabotage their sales by assuming they know what customers need or are willing to pay. Instead, try to ask customers as many questions as possible to learn whats driving their purchase and what criteria theyre using to make their decision. 8. Establish a daily ritual. Its easy to neglect sales prospecting when youre wearing all the hats in your company. To avoid that pitfall, create a sales routine. That might mean reserving an hour each day for prospecting calls or setting a weekly goal of meeting at least 10 potential clients. 9. Showcase your success. Your website is often the first and only contact people will have with your company. Not only should it be clean and professional looking, but it also should help build credibility. Include testimonials, along with case studies of clients youve worked with. 10. Become an industry expert. Establishing yourself as a leader in your field will strengthen your sales pitch and attract new customers. You can write articles, start a blog or seek media exposure, all of which can build credibility and trust.
ISSU E 1 PAGE 7 Ashbourne Partnership Pamperme.ie Celebrates The newly established Ashbourne Partnership (Plato Network Mem- ber), is a cost-effective, hands-on, SME consultancy service. FIVE Years in Business! We specialise in two distinct business areas: 1. Route-to-market analysis, connecting producers and re- March 2012 marked the fifth an- niversary of the launch of online tailers, across a wide spectrum of products, from Apps to Plato Network Company Pam- DIY to drinks and food. perme.ie !! If you have a product and you dont know what next steps As Irelands longest serving, Irish- to take, or who to talk to, talk to us, free-of-charge, and well owned Spa & Pampering website, help get you to market. Pamperme.ie provides a platform 2. Cost reduction and concise cost management for SMEs, for Hotels & Spas all over Ireland to promote their Special Offers, by working from within the organisation. Pamper Packages, Spa Treat- We rely on our own observations before making recom ments and even Golf, Wedding & mendations and establishing the best cost-fit for the organi Conferencing Facilities to our sation, and not some generic solution. ever-growing online audience. Pamperme.ie also offers its visi- We offer a broad range of technical skills in key areas such as: tors a chance to enter competi- · Cost reduction tions where they can win any- thing from a Pamperme.ie Polo- · Incentivising employees and their personal development shirt or Pamperme.ie Gift · Improving Customer Relationship Management Voucher to a Luxury Pampering · Business and supplier efficiencies Weekend Away! · Supply chain management and Food cost analysis With at least TWO competitions · Best-practice hygiene management every month, and leveraging on · Training, including: social media platforms such as · Occupational First Aid, with FETAC accreditation; CRM, Facebook (www.facebook.com/ pampermedotie) and Twitter including upselling; Kitchen management; Manual Han (www.twitter.com/ dling; Security personnel; Social media pampermedotie), there is some- · Marketing including: Route-to-market planning, Brand plan- thing for everyone on our site! ning, Budgeting, Social media, PR, Renovation cost rationali- We’d like to take this opportunity sation to say a big “Thank You” to all our clients & dedicated visitors for your support and input during Following a free consultation, we provide a report that divides actions the last 5 Years! into individual projects, including quotations per project. These can be implemented, or not, in a layered approach, to match your avail- Pamperme.ie – Find You Comfort Zone! able budgets. For more information contact: PLATO EZINE IS PUBLISHED BY PLATO Colin Ross - Director BUSINESS NETWORK The Ashbourne Partnership, WHILST EVERY EFFORT HAS BEEN Unit E5 Grange Industrial Estate, MADE TO ENSURE THE ACCURACY OF THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS Ballycurreen, NEWSLETTER, PLATO CANNOT ACCEPT Cork RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY ERRORS OR OMISSIONS t: +353.86.8385797 LAYOUT & DESIGN: URSULA FITZGERALD Plato Business Network Cork