Damien was honoured to be a judge for this year's Annual Inaugural Case Study Competition for the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate School Msc programme, which was held on the 28th & 29th of May. The main aim of the competition is to develop students' analytical thinking, to give them an opportunity to apply and translate the academic skills acquired, by working on real-life problems. They also had the opportunity to get better acquainted with contemporary issues faced by organisations and to develop their skills of working in a diverse team environment. The competition was made up of 9 teams, each consisting of mixed MSc Business streams. There were 3 top prizes, with the winning team taking home the rolling trophy and a cash prize sponsored by Rennicks. 2nd & 3rd places received a cash prize sponsored by SME Matters and ASV Security. "It was such a pleasure being part of the Inaugural Case Study for Smurfit. The standard of teams was no less than I expected and with very little between the teams, which made it a hard competition to judge", said Damien. "I had the additional benefit of supplying the test case to be used. It was based on a real world challenge facing one of my key clients, Rennicks Sign Manufacturers. My client thoroughly enjoyed the experience and was presented with multiple solutions and novel ideas that they will now bring back to their HQ for further development and implementation" he added. The panel was made up of 6 judges; Andy Campbell (MD Rennicks), Damien O'Brien (SME Matters/Market My Business), Smurfit Alumni and Academic Members of Smurfit. "All of my fellow judges found the exercise extremely practical with the findings having real world application for the case in hand. I'm looking forward to next year's competition already!" concluded Damien. Congratulations to the winning team, Pinnacle Consulting, whose impressive presentation took home the trophy!
3 May 2015 by Jessica Kelly Many businesses spent the last five or six years fighting to keep their heads above water, with each day presenting new challenges in a tougher economy. While it is easy to see how the importance of the digital world bypassed some, the time for excuses has passed. Customers research products and services before parting with their hard earned cash, making the online presence of a business vital. SMEs are, by nature, small organisations meaning it may not be possible to create and maintain a digital presence with existing resources. So what are the options? There are a lot of YouTube tutorials on how to set up a website and there is a steady stream of social media marketing courses available, but a new Irish company offers another way to bring any business into the online space. Market My Business is an outsourced marketing department for SMEs which may be struggling to market their products and services effectively. Catherine Jordan, marketing manager with Market My Business explained what exactly it is the company does. “We specialise in working with SMEs to offer a wide range of expertise in all aspects of marketing including branding, graphic design, web design and management, social media management, email marketing, event management and much more. We allocate a dedicated project manager who becomes part of our client’s team and gets ‘under the bonnet’ of the business to ensure the best results in terms of business growth,” said Jordan. The project manager holds a series of workshops and brainstorming sessions in an attempt to get a clear understanding of the client’s business, products and services. “We encourage clients to segment their customers into clear categories and plan targeted campaigns and promotions to educate, upsell and cross sell to existing and potential customers. Brand and message consistency is key here. There should be continuity across the board with the same message across all platforms. Mixed messages create confusion and frustration with potential customers,” said Jordan who has spent the past 12 months developing the Market My Business. The company is the brainchild of Damien O’Brien who founded SME Matters in 2005. “Market My Business evolved naturally from our SME Matters clients’ need to further develop their existing channels and find the mediums to open new channels,” said O’Brien. So what are Jordan’s Dos and Don’ts of bringing your business online? Preparation is key to being successful online. Knowing who your customers are, what they are likely to be most interested in and the best way to communicate that message to them will help you greatly when it comes to moving your business online. With the right language and customer testimonials your online presence should let your customers know that you are passionate about what you do. It should show that you are expert in your area and you should make sure that your most economically advantageous products/services are prominently featured making it easy for the viewer to find out more about them. Marry this preparation with a clear brand identity, a quality high res logo and you are well on your way to online success. Although most companies have a website, many are not mobile ready. Viewing websites on tablets and smartphones is now the norm (67 per cent of the population access the web through mobile phone or tablet devices) so your site has to be capable of adapting to these formats dynamically. Social Media should be chosen carefully based on your target customer. Social media sites should similarly be set up and branded using high res images and logos and with the same clear message. Prepare your social media activity well in advance and commit to updating it regularly. The most important thing is to analyse your results regularly. See what’s working and invest in that and change what isn’t. What are instant no nos for companies online? The obvious one is to avoid having a website that is not mobile ready. You only have to look around you at every parked car in every parking space, everywhere to see that people are obsessed with smart phones. If you don’t make it quicker and easier, by phone or tablet, for them to find your business, order or book your product they will move on to your competitor who does. After that, content is key. The content needs to be relevant, educational or just simply inspiring. Consider video also, how-to-videos and a corporate video are very popular. Either way any content you offer a customer should be of value to them. Google love it when you keep your content fresh. Also, keep it short. Another no no is not spending time to investigate and use the correct keywords on your online platform that will help your customers find you through search engines like Google (organic SEO). With regard to organic SEO, this will take effort, but your efforts will be rewarded. Getting your Google rankings through organic means such as blogs, good content, and videos is much more effective and cheaper in the long run, than paying for it. Although keywords are important, don’t overdo it – Google won’t like it. You need to write for your customer, not for your search engine. There are no quick fixes for social media. Don’t be fooled into thinking that buying likes for your page will be of any benefit. It will actually work against you. Real customers will get lost in the crowd and your message will not reach them. Good quality social media campaigns are planned, targeted and analysed. This way you will build a strong following of your target demographic. Don’t worry, online marketing takes a bit of time to gain momentum, but in terms of brand recognition and business development it is a very effective way for you to reach your customers. Jessica Kelly is technology correspondent with Newstalk.com
The Beginning of Something Special On the 14th April 2005 the revolutionary YouTube was officially registered by it’s founders, an experimental site was launched with the official launch six months later. Within one year Google bought it for $1.5 billion! At the time of launch most people weren’t able to stream video but technology was expanding quickly and the the growth of the YouTube phenomenon was rapid. The First Ever YouTube Video A buddy of one of the founder members recalls how he unknowingly produced the first every YouTube video ‘Me at the Zoo' as he was unaware of his friends idea – take a look! The Power of Video Today Ten years later online communications is key, video has emerged as one of the most powerful medium and it’s reach through YouTube and social media has brought video to the fore. World Domination In 2006 there were one million viewers per month, watching over 100 million videos on YouTube per day, dominating the market very quickly with 60% of all videos watched online. Today it boasts more than 1 billion users watching over 6 billion hours of video every month from children laughing to historical moments to old movies…. There’s a ‘how to’ video for practically everything out there you need to know. Who could have foreseen it’s success and what an amazing bunch of forward thinking guys! I wonder what the next 10 years will bring in terms of technology! Happy Anniversary YouTube - Exciting Times ahead!