I attended Doug Richard’s School for Startups recently. The title is a bit of a misnomer as the day had nothing specifically to do with starting a business, but it did have plenty of action points for marketing.
The day was fast-paced with lecture-style talks from Mr Richard and three colleagues. Let’s be honest, you go to see the formidable Doug Richard in action and he opened the sessions with a broad talk about business and how little we actually control. See him in action here.
I was immediately stunned about how intelligent this [former] Dragon is. He reminded me of an economics lecturer I had who could tell what day of the week you were born on within about three seconds of knowing your date of birth (he’d run a cunning formula in his head).
The 120 or so business folk were scared to answer DR’s open questions for fear of engaging this razor sharp mind. You really do need your A game if you’re going to talk business with this guy, even your own business. A chap in the audience volunteered to describe his own organisation. Big mistake. DR took his ‘elevator pitch,’ highlighted several inadequacies and spat it back at the business owner with such flare that everyone else was writing it down thinking they’d plagiarise it for themselves.
But Richard’s cohort found that uber-sharp standard a tough act to follow. They gave us a social media-is-great talk with the obligatory Will it Blend video. We had a pay per click is-the-quickest-win talk complete with incomprehensibly small screen shots. Finally we had an ecommerce-is-the-place-to-be talk from an ex-Amazon exec.
I’m sure these chaps are great in their own right, but they’d been asked to cut their usual one day training sessions down to an hour or so and you felt they’d done it on the train that morning. Then again, it was government funded social enterprise (free entry) so I certainly couldn’t say I’d overpaid.
They had 120 or so small and micro businesses in the room and they broad stroked most areas. Granted, there is never going to be time in such bootcamps for massive details, but not one of the team had researched a company in attendance and come with examples of how they could improve what they were already doing online.
For me, social media is about authenticity and credibility and I don’t think SMEs new to the arena would’ve heard that message. They could’ve demonstrated more of the beauty of listening; of how to monitor the conversation and engage without stalking.
They could’ve run us through existing clients and demonstrated how their real-world social, PPC and on-page ecommerce work had resulted in X% growth this year for their architect, or bakery, or gym (you get the idea).
The standard for these online training sessions/bootcamps is rarely going to catapult your marketing endeavours, but I have to say these guys did let out several nuggets amongst some pretty awful PowerPoint.
Bravo to Doug Richard for undertaking this philanthropic project. Bravo to his team for willing to give away insight (without charge). And bravo to the local authorities for saying yes.
If you get the chance, please do go – I promise seeing DR’s business mind in action is as an inspiring an afternoon as you can get without involving an Olympic athlete or a war hero.