Beware The Modern Day Instagram Conman

 

There’s recently been quite a lot of talk of Instagram influencers that have done nothing more than buy their followers to con unsuspecting businesses out of their products and cash to promote them.

Personally, brands should do their due diligence before paying influencers to promote their products. However, I do draw the line at agencies who promise potential clients 1000’s of followers and heaps of engagement when employing nothing more than the same tactics.

There are ways of spotting if these agencies or “experts” employ these tactics. Here are some things to look out for:

Do their posts have streams of irrelevant comments?

You’ll see things like “Great post.” Or “I’m so glad I follow you.” Usually with lots of emojis. Especially on a irrelevant, mundane picture of a bird eating a chip or something. Something like the below…

Do they have an unusually high engagement rate?

This is slightly subjective, a pretty lady posting a selfie will always get a lot of likes. If I posted a selfie, I’d probably make more people puke than click like. However, if they have 8000 followers and 2000 likes, chances are, they’re buying likes. Another clue is to look for consistency of likes, if they pretty much get the same amount of likes every post, they’re buying them.

Are the likers of their posts real people?

If they have lots of likes on their posts (2000+) then look at the profiles of some of the likers. If you see lots of accounts that follow about 10 accounts, have thousands of followers and only a handful of posts, this should be a big clue as well.

Do their videos have more likes than views?

This, above all, will tell you if they’re shady. It’s not possible to have more likes on a video than people who have watched it. Unless they’re buying likes of course. If you take one thing away from this, always look at an agencies videos. More likes than views should be a massive, MASSIVE red flag.

Those would be the main 4 things to look out for. The amount of shiesty “Instagram experts” out there is unreal. Some of which have approached me over the years to build their accounts up for them. Hardly experts.

If you see an agencies account has all 4 of the above going on, run for the hills!

When an individual wants to buy followers and then buy likes to make themselves look good, that’s one thing. However, if an agency sells Instagram growth as a product and buys followers or very loosely targets a clients followers and then papers over the cracks of their terrible service by buying likes, I do take offence. Especially when I know some of these agencies will charge £3000 a month for the honour of being ripped off.

For the right businesses, Instagram can be a true gold mine. If you’ve employed an agency and it’s not getting you results, you might want to dig into why it’s not working.

If you’d like to learn how to grow your Instagram account with genuine, targeted followers then please book a call in my calendar.

Alternatively you can send a message through the website.

Poker lessons in business

 

Back in the days before children, when I had time and my sanity, I played a fair amount of poker.

I was pretty good as well. I read a lot of books and learned a lot.

A lot of the successful things I learned, I have applied not just to business but in my life as well. Many of which have helped build me to the person I am today.

Whilst understanding poker is helpful in order to know what I’m banging on about, it’s not essential. I’ll try to make it as simple to understand as possible.

 

Learning from failure.

It’s a pretty common human trait to blame everyone else for their failures. It has an even more frequent place in poker, they’ll call you a fish (a bad player) because you got involved with a weak hand against their strong hand. They decide to get cute and play like they’re weak, not raising the stakes for other players to get involved. They’ll complain about their luck and the other players who they let in cheaply and not themselves.

There is an element of luck in poker and sometimes you have to take that on the chin. However, it’s about being honest with yourself, re-evaluating your decisions and thinking what could be done differently.

This is the case in business. Some people will blame everyone else because their business is failing. They don’t look at themselves, their decisions and what they could do differently to become successful. People fail because they refuse to see the impact of their own choices.

When something goes wrong, I always like to know why. That way, it won’t happen again. Failure is life’s great teacher, if you want to learn!

Being different.

This is a big one for me. At the poker table, if everyone else is going crazy, throwing money about and bluffing, it makes sense to sit there and wait for good cards and get involved with everyone else who are most likely, playing with junk. Sure, luck might come into play and you may lose any given hand. However, by playing good hands against junk, you’ll win more than you lose and with the high amount of chips being thrown about, long term, you’ll be quids in.

Alternatively, if everyone is sitting there waiting for good cards, you can throw your money about, taking lots of small pots uncontested. If you meet any resistance, you can be sure they’ve hit a good hand and can back down, however, if you’re betting the right amounts, this will still bring you a slow but sure profit.

This is something I apply to my marketing. Whilst others are fighting in the battleground for the same piece of pie by doing the exact same thing that all the others are doing, it stands to reason that they’ll take an equal amount of the pie and continuously tread water to keep that equal share.

Most of my posts are jokes, things that generally go against the grain and may potentially annoy people. It’s the same theory as poker, sure I won’t win them all but there’s several people that like my noise. I appeal to them and entertain them. That’s a piece of pie that’s uncontested and that is MY pie so don’t touch!

Dealing with change.

The poker tables can change constantly. In a tournament of 1000’s of people, you’ll move tables many times as players getting knocked out. You have to adapt, learn your new surroundings and get with it pretty quickly. On the last table you were sitting at, everyone may have been playing very conservatively and waiting for good hands, meaning you’ve been playing aggressively and winning lots of pots uncontested because the players were afraid to get involved. The next table might be completely different and throwing your money about could see you burn quite quickly.

We see this frequently in business. Especially with today’s fast moving technology. The rise of the internet has see many big companies go bust. Many of them failed to get with the new age quick enough. They carried on using the same plans they’d always had until it was too late. If you don’t reassess the environment you’re in, if you don’t embrace new technology, if you don’t get with the times, chances are, you’ll eventually find yourself at the point of no return.

Making calculated risks.

People will often say that poker is a game of luck and to some degree, it is. However, it’s mostly about making your own luck.

It’s about knowing the risks. This is going to cost X, my chances of winning are X% and if I win, I’ll win X. To put it into context, if someone said to you “bet £10 on the flip of a coin and if you guess correctly, I’ll give you £100” you’d take that bet. Sure you might lose but it’s a long term winning call, you’re being given 9 to 1 odds on something that has an evens outcome.

It’s no different in business. Lots of people will throw jelly at the walls and hope that some of it sticks.

They’ll go networking, costing, let’s say, £500 a year. They then complain, that it doesn’t work for them.

They haven’t prepared their pitch, they stand in the corner, they don’t tell anyone about the benefits of their business, they don’t know their ideal client etc etc. Their marketing efforts are poorly planned, they haven’t made their odds better of success.

When I went networking, I used to calculate my odds. “To make this worthwhile, I need to sell X amount each time to X amount of people, so who will they be?”

Did it ever work out as planned each time? Not exactly. However, over the course of a year, the law of averages meant it did. It’s the same of the coin flip, do it once, you might lose, do it 50 times and with odds of 9 to 1 on an evens outcome and you’ll win.

Asking questions.

It’s quite an obvious thing to say but people fail to do it.

In poker, when I have a hand I want to play, good or bad, I’m going to put some money into the pot. I’m going to ask everyone a question: “Do you have a good hand?”

Those that decide to get cute by pretending they’re weak and not putting any money in the pot when they’ve got a good hand, won’t be very clear where they stand in the next round of betting.

The same goes in business, potential clients and even current clients need to be asked the right questions so you can get the correct information in order to do the best you can for them. Shoehorning people into a service just because they’ve expressed an interest is a recipe for disaster, it’ll impact your reputation and in the end, your money.

 

I wouldn’t say that poker is like riding a bike, there’s a fair amount I’m sure I haven’t recalled but there are some lessons that have been so valuable, I haven’t been able to forget them.

If you have an interest in poker, it’s well worth really getting to know the game. It can help you in life and you might even become good enough to win lots of money!

Peppa Pig – it’s the reason why you should give me business.

 

Peppa Pig is one of the reasons why you should give me business.

Wait, what?!

Yes indeed, Peppa Pig.

Peppa and her brother George are quite possibly the most annoying things to have ever been on tv.

It used to be on my tv quite a lot until I realised what a couple of spoilt brats they were.

From Peppa being an outright bitch to George being a whiny little shit. To their parents, who try to constantly appease them by instilling no discipline. The show is a horrendous example to children.

Let’s also not gloss over the fact their goldfish bowl is on top of their tv.

So what the hell has this got to do with giving me business?

It’s two-fold but essentially in giving me your business, I’ll accumulate enough money to buy the rights to Peppa Pig.

Then I’ll commission one last episode to be made. One where Peppa and her family take a lovely day trip to the slaughterhouse and get turned into a wonderful array of pork products.

Finally I’ll remove all traces of Peppa Pig across the world. It’ll be decommissioned.

Sure, some children will be upset by this but think of the better world that will be created.

Not just that but you’ll also have a more successful business from employing my services.

To see how you could possibly support this great cause – click here.

Win/Win.

Hip-Hop – my role model

 

I saw 2 posts the other day about role models.

One was a traditional role model type question. The other was a post about Forrest Gump. In which Kevin Vandenboss brilliantly details all the things to admire about Forrest that you don’t really think about.

That got me thinking about a more abstract hero or inspiration for me.

I realised that it is Hip-Hop.

Hip-Hop has been a great inspiration and teacher to me. Much of it has become who I am in the business world.

If at this moment you’re thinking “What kind of guy gets inspiration from music that glamorizes violence and disrespects women?”

Then allow me to correct you, that is pop music. It labels itself Hip-Hop and sounds the same but it is not.

Real Hip-Hop promotes unity, respect, love, justice and self-worth.

Another thing it promotes in abundance, is loyalty. I like to consider myself an extremely loyal person. The ghettos of America were a hard place in the 80’s and 90’s (and now!) To get out of there required unity and couldn’t afford anyone in their circle to be disloyal and bad things happened to those that were.

My loyalty is at the forefront of who I am and it is always there when making decisions. My decisions are true and precise and they rarely upset people (unless they themselves are the greedy, disloyal type.) It’s a valuable thing to possess in business.

Self-worth is another big one. Real Hip-Hop always rammed home the importance of being yourself and unapologetically so.If you want to better your life, go do it and be proud of it. You can only be open to justified criticism if your actions aren’t true.

Again, in business, knowing your worth and who you are is vitally important. Making decisions with conviction and with good reason, stand you up well. You might get a decision wrong (no-one is perfect) but if you make them for the right reasons and can explain why you did what you did, people tend to accept that.

Respect. If you walk around in the ghetto without it, you can expect bad consequences.

Whilst the consequences aren’t quite so severe in business (although it has happened) if you fail to respect your staff, clients and suppliers, sooner or later they will cut ties with you and in this day and age with social media, will tell everyone about it as well. On the flip side, if you do treat everyone with respect then you can expect good reviews, understanding and happy clients and happy staff.

Real Hip-Hop promotes having fun. One of my favourite artists called Mr Lif once said the line “If you ain’t doing what you love, you’re losing.” At the time, I was working in insurance. A job I hated and with some people who to be nice to them, weren’t exactly Hip-Hop (they lacked loyalty and respect.) I realised that I was spending 8 hours a day unhappy, 5 days a week. I also spent Sunday evenings dreading the working week. If it wasn’t for Mr Lif, maybe I’d have not been inspired to ensure that I enjoy my working day.

In the business world, they say hard work pays off. Which is true. However, if you love what you do, it doesn’t even become hard work. You work hard because you’re having fun.

Hip-Hop was very anti-establishment and came with rebelliousness. It broke through the mould because it offered a voice to the little man. It was different, it didn’t care for popularity, it didn’t worry what people thought. This ties in with both the love element.

As people get older, their social circles get smaller. The need for popularity is replaced with surrounding yourself in people you trust 100%.

However, in business, people seem to go backwards. They share everything they know to everyone to look great and then they wonder why someone has stolen their ideas. Trust is vitally important in business, especially when collabing.

Hip-Hop has been a cornerstone of my life. I’m thankful for the lessons it has embedded in me. If it had the power to lift up the downtrodden black folks of America for them to find a way out of poverty, then it surely has lessons for us all.

The value of manners

 

Good manners is everything in business. To me anyway.

 

I don’t tolerate rudeness.

 

I had a phone call booked in with the CEO of a start up business. I went into the call with an idea that I’d help him out as much as I could as they were a new company.

 

The call went a bit like this:

 

He answers phone not saying anything. Complete silence.

 

Me “Hello?”

 

Him “Yeah?”

 

Me “It’s Milo from Digital Dominator, we arranged a call on LinkedIn. How are you?”

 

Him “Yeah?”

 

(At this point, my willingness to help had diminished. I instantly felt like I was cold calling, not making an arranged call.)

 

Me “Sorry, is now a good time to talk?”

 

Him “Yeah.”

 

Me “Ok, great. How’s things going at *business*?”

 

Him “I just want to know how much you charge.”

 

His rudeness really put me off my stride. As he wasn’t interested in telling me about his business, I was unable to know the degree of work I’d need to put in to give a great service to him.

 

I gave a brief overview of the services and he got the price of our most expensive package. Not only wasn’t I sure on the work it would take. I didn’t really want him as a client. If he wanted to be a client, he’d have to pay for it.

 

The call was over in less than 5 minutes.

 

A few days later, he sends me a blunt message saying my prices were high and I wasn’t clear in what I offered.

 

I politely replied that as I was unable to generate any conversation with him, it was very difficult to give a proper pitch as I didn’t really know where my services fitted in or what he needed.

 

When I say politely, it was of course alongside a great undertone of sarcasm.

 

I won’t give the full details of his retort but essentially, he was under the impression he could act how he liked as the potential customer and that I should just put up with it.

 

He was wrong.

 

I run my business because choosing who I work with is a huge thing for me.

 

Had his attitude been different, he’d have been given a great price.

 

I’ve run a few startups and I know how tight things can be in the first few months.

 

I could have really helped him. He cost himself one way or another.

 

Rudeness in the business world will bring you one of three things when looking to hire an expert.

 

High prices.

 

Low prices from someone that won’t want to talk to you after taking your money.

 

Or doing it yourself.

 

Whatever way you look at it, you’re just increasing the chance of failure.

 

When doing anything in the business world, manners get you everywhere.

 

Perhaps I’m just old school?

Go f*ck yourself!

 

Negative marketing – it’s probably why most of you are now reading this.

 

Offensive title. Offensive picture. You’re ready to be angry!

 

I’m sure some of you still will be even though you’ll realise that I’m not being serious with my title and just proving a point!

 

Content is how I started. It’s fun.

 

However, it evolves quickly.

 

Pictures then video then back to pictures with memes then live videos and now “tag a mate” seems to be big by those pages that like to attract people that didn’t realise it wasn’t remotely funny the first time let alone the 1000th.

 

Content is difficult, I have to do things differently as I’m a firm believer in standing out amongst the noise, however, it’s a hard sell. Most companies want to do the same thing as everyone else.

 

So I’ve moved away from it. I prefer to use my skills helping people build focused followers and generating leads.

 

However, one thing I do love to tell people is the power of the dark side – negative marketing.

 

I hate X-Factor but it’s one use in my life was to set a spark about negative marketing.

 

Every year, they had someone terrible in the final shows. Someone most people hated.

 

No-one ever spoke about who they liked. Social media was filled with anger at the terrible act getting through.

 

People’s anger was advertising the show for free whilst not damaging the brands reputation.

 

Not only that, other people were then voting for the terrible acts as they thought it was funny that serious fans were so outraged. They loved seeing the drama.

 

The winners were ITV & X-Factor.

 

People love complaining. More so than ever now.

 

People also love drama, it’s why so many people watch Eastenders despite the fact that the only drama they provide is in the form of deaths, affairs and car accidents.

 

One of the things I successfully implemented for an old business was to post a spoof article on our blog.

 

Lil Wayne (you may know him) was inducted to The Universal Zulu Nation.

 

The Universal Zulu Nation, for those that don’t know are a Hip-Hop awareness group that promote the original values of Hip-Hop – peace, love, unity and having fun.

 

Lil Wayne did not represent these things and the true Hip-Hop community was outraged.

 

So I decided to do a spoof article about Justin Bieber also getting inducted.

 

I photoshopped the Zulu Nation logo onto a picture of Justin Bieber. Gave a headline that said Justin Bieber had been inducted to The Universal Zulu Nation and that was pretty much it.

 

The article provided no facts. Nothing in it was from The Universal Zulu Nation or from Justin Bieber. Just an interview with a made up 15 year old girl from Basildon called Britney who’d never heard of The Universal Zulu Nation.

 

The result? Over 4000 shares on Facebook alone from enraged people. People who hadn’t even bothered to read the post. People who did read the article also shared it as they wanted to see the drama it caused from the headline and the picture.

 

It drove a lot of targeted people to our website. As we sold Hip-Hop clothing that represented the original meaning of Hip-Hop. Sales had a spike as new customers found us.

 

Things got so out of hand that even The Universal Zulu Nation had to post on their Facebook page stating that the story wasn’t true.

 

It didn’t have an impact on our brand as anyone who read the article, realised it was a spoof.

 

It was a negative marketing win.

 

So if you can combine a mixture of the potential for people to be enraged, create drama and still keep your brand values intact, you could be onto a winner.

 

I’m sure someone will be offended by this article but I’m also sure that this article will reach about 10 times more than all my other posts. 

 

Just for the record, I don’t want you to go f*ck yourself and I do like you! 🙂

 

If you came here expecting to be angry, you still can be! Comments always welcome, good or bad!

Are you scared of LinkedIn?

 

Do you go to networking meetings but don’t use LinkedIn?

 

Networking in business has been around for more years than I know.

 

Some people pay £500 a year to be part of a group. Then pay another £20 a week to attend each meeting.

 

So roughly, £1500 a year.

 

£1500 to network with the same 20 people every week plus the odd guest.

 

LinkedIn is free and has millions of users.

 

LinkedIn, at the end of the day, is a networking platform.

 

There’s a host of business people to build relationships with.

 

You can find who you want, where you want, when you want.

 

Want to build a network of people to share your expertise to? You can build it on LinkedIn.

 

Or you can say it to the 20 people in your networking meeting. Most of which, probably don’t fully understand and probably won’t share it to their network.

 

Want to find a new accountant? There’s probably 200 within 5 miles of you on LinkedIn.

 

Or switch to the accountant at your networking meeting. He’s been there for a year but you don’t even know anything about him other than he’s an accountant.

 

Have a new product that you know certain industries need? You can sell it on LinkedIn.

 

You can connect with thousands of people in those industries and tell them about it.

 

Or you can offer it to the one person you go networking with that has a need for it.

 

Of course, effective networking goes deeper than this but whatever you can do at network meetings, you can do x1000 on LinkedIn.

 

The only thing you don’t get is a fried breakfast!

 

LinkedIn is growing at 2 new users every second! That is better than Facebook!

 

13% of users don’t have Facebook and 59% don’t have Twitter!

 

106 million people visit every month.

 

If you’re a B2B business – LinkedIn is a must.

 

It’s not scary, it’s just networking and it’s a potential gold mine!

 

Need help with your LinkedIn strategy? Then why not book yourself in for a call with me? I’m full of wonderful ideas! Click here to book a call on my calendar.

Working at home with children

 

So it’s here again – the school holidays!

 

As I work for myself, in my own time, I naturally have them at home with me whilst I work from home.

 

I have 4 children. 2 girls aged 12 & 10 and 2 boys aged 6 & 4.

 

The 12 year old is a model student and never causes a problem.

 

The 10 year old is highly gifted and she knows it!

 

The 6 year old is the nicest kid in the world – he loves everyone and everything.

 

The 4 year old breaks everything and has energy levels that make Jack Russells look lazy. All good runs come to an end I guess but I’m sure he’ll grow out of it!

 

The 4 year old goes to pre-school so I just have the others. Thing is, they’re a drain on my concentration.

 

The Disney Channel is on (with it’s horrendous overacted shows.)

 

They all want to sit on the reclining chair.

 

They’re hungry. They’re thirsty. I get beckoned to see what one of the cats is doing (it was just laying on their bed.)

 

Collectively they’re a distraction despite being really well behaved.

 

However, it truly is the wonder of working for yourself.

 

I love having the free time to spend with my children. Not just during the holidays but being able to pick them up, go to shows/sports days etc and not have to book a day off.

 

That is a massive driving factor in my life choices.

 

But they’re a distraction!

 

The important things can be done tonight. This blog post, I can do now and be distracted. so long as theirs no grammar or spelling mistackes, we should be fine.

 

Today I’ve had loads of conversations going on LinkedIn and it’s an ideal time to reply to everyone.

 

Now I can leave everything until this evening and take them for a walk somewhere as I’m also fortunate to live in Suffolk with its beautiful countryside!

 

I’d love to know how others in my situation deal with it. Comments always welcome!

A discovery about sales

 

Sales!

 

A word that not long ago scared the life out of me. However I knew it was a process that is necessary.

 

I’ve run my own agency for over 2 years now and had a handful of clients early on. One of them was 80% of my income.

 

Then, the client fell on hard times. My services could no longer be afforded (despite my services bringing in a positive ROI.)

 

I was sat well and truly in my comfort zone and was dumped to the darkest depths away from it.

 

I had 2 options. Learn sales or get a job.

 

Having run my own businesses for 6 years at the time, the thought of having a boss again terrified me.

 

The thought of working in insurance again was even worse!

 

The combination of the 2, motivated me!

 

There was no way I was working in insurance again – with a boss! Especially as I hadn’t worked in insurance for 6 years.

 

Most likely I’d have had to go back to a much lower role than I previously held with a 23 year old boss whose only talent to become a manager was to be a massive arse kisser.

 

I was motivated and determined.

 

So getting in new business it was. Thing is I sucked at sales, despite being great at marketing.

 

In the Premier League of sales skills, I was Accrington Stanley……… Reserves.

 

I failed, time and time again. Despite my product and service being fantastic.

 

That took me into a conversation with a friend called Dan. He offered me some work at his agency and we built up a solid offering with products that I really believed in and products that really worked.

 

To cut a long story short. I worked with Dan for a year and then started back on myself.

 

More skilled, more polished, more determined.

 

I’d discovered so many more great ways to generate leads but my actual sales skills remained as poor as before.

 

Or so I thought….

 

I went about getting leads using the great LinkedIn lead generation we offer out and sure enough, the leads started coming in and the phone calls booked.

 

Bricking it, I called the first person and the sale was made!

 

I was confident, I was clear. I nailed it but thought nothing of it. Presuming it was just luck.

 

But then my lucky streak continued. It was more than luck, I’d become good!

 

I’ve read a ridiculous amount of sales books to no avail and haven’t read any since but something had changed.

 

The key was I’d become “at one” with what I offer. I had a true understanding of what my offer was, why it should be used, what the benefits were and what the outcomes would be.

 

Previously I knew I could offer a great service but I could never answer the question of why I could.

 

One of the keys of marketing is to get across the benefits of your service and not the features and it’s no different with sales.

 

My experience now tells me the answers.

 

I believe in my products and I understand them fully. I know they work. I know why they work and I can say with a relative degree of accuracy what the outcome will be.

 

So I guess, to convert leads, that’s all you really need.

Welcome!

If you’re reading this, this is the first blog post. It’s just a test, nothing to see here!

 

Thanks for reaching the end though!