1. To make sure I come again Every time I come down to London for one of these Summits, I go back not just inspired but buzzing somewhere off the planet with new ideas. It is very easy to get into the habit of being overtired and under-timed. But a day of this quality is something important because it facilitates the inspiration and innovation my business needs.
2. To keep things simple The size of Specsavers is truly awe inspiring (655 stores across the UK and 1,600 stores overseas) and yet the Customer Charter they use – outlined by Dame Mary Perkins at yesterday’s Summit – is a perfectly simple, straightforward document that would suit any business that is expanding fast.
3. Partnerships and their importance Dame Mary described how the entire Specsavers empire is designed on partnerships rather than franchises. And she wasn’t the only one who talked about partnerships: partnerships in procurement; partnerships with customers; partnerships with other companies in marketing. Stuck in one’s own ivory tower, awash with everyday decisions, it is easy to become not just isolated but insular and forget the power of partners.
4. To be a little more humble There are still many incredible, inspirational people out there – and many of them are just plain down to earth and nice as well. Case in point: Vanessa Heywood (who was interviewed up on stage by Ariadne Capital’s Julie Meyer yesterday) – what an inspiration and a reminder to the rest of us how damn lucky we are.
5. Monitoring your marcoms Social networks are brilliant promotional opportunities but they can also wreck your reputation. Make sure you have brilliantly efficient monitoring systems for all your social networking channels and speed-of-light reactions to anything adverse. It’s really, really easy to let this slip – yet the potential for public disaster is just huge.
6. Social networking isn’t just about PR and marketing It should be a part of everything you do: your strategies; objectives; customer service; and the whole way you grow your business.
7. The customer is king Virtually all the speakers re-emphasised this point. We all give lip service to the fact that without the customer, we would not have a business, and yet we let our customer-service policies slip. Simon Calver talked about “making his customers love him” – my favourite phrase of the day.
8. The speed of technology and its impact To hear that films will be virtually all digital rather than physical within the next five to ten years was a real wake-up call on the speed of the changes that are going on in technology. It equally brought home another key message of the day – the importance of planning now for what you are going to be supplying and what your customers will need in the “new world”.
9. The importance of recommendations and reviews Apparently, 73 per cent of women look for a recommendation or survey of some sort before trying out a new product. I knew testimonials were important – but that is staggering.
10. Not to regret my misspent youth Charles Dunstone made a brilliant point that rebellious youngsters are the exact personality types who make entrepreneurs. People tell us “no” and we do it anyway. And as a final lesson, I’m going to remember to stay in London next time – I had to drive home and I really regretted not being able to go to the pub with everyone and extend an absolutely brilliant day.
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