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Believe in your brandYou have to align what you sell with the principals you have. When you misalign what you do, it undermines the association others have with you. The last thing you want is conflict where messages become messy and there is no connection.When it comes to alignment, the ventures that you pursue have to match your mission.

The Athlete And The Chocolate Bar

This is something that Cadbury’s seem to have missed last week. They will be the Premier League’s next sponsor (currently Barclays). Premier League football from August 2017 will endorse high sugar confectionary.

Not the best choice for an athlete, but great for a boardroom of men in there 50s wearing suits.

Whilst this is a decision by Cadbury’s to ‘stay relevant’, it says more about market share and share price than it is about the relevance of the health of the nation and dealing with obesity in the UK (if a sugar fee chocolate bar is released, I will delete this post).

The company has its origins as a meaningful ethical Victorian firm, set up by Quakers. Cadbury’s values were founded in looking after former employees. In 2013, something changed from board level. The alignment went off the scale.

Long-term employees were given a gift each Christmas, as a small thanks for their service over the years. The owners then decided to scrap the gifts and since Christmas 2014, no more ‘thank you for the years of service,’ gesture. Not even a packet of Buttons.

Sport and food will always be a sensitive alignment for any brand. From McDonalds and Coke being Olympics sponsors, the door will always open for attack.

If Cadbury’s made a promise to invest in grass roots football and community initiatives, then that changes the balance. The connection has to be easy, rather than people having to dig deep.

What I am trying to highlight, from a business perspective, is what you sell and the alignment that you create from it has to be something that you are proud of and what others can easily connect with.

Finding The Links

On a personal level, the work I stand for is ownership and how businesses can build their own media brand by communicating to a targeted audience on a consistent basis. The You Are The Media Lunch Clubs are ways to validate this by bringing in others who are already doing this or endorse an approach of ownership and delivering a more compelling message. The message, at least, is consistent.

When your product and your message do not match up, it causes conflict. It doesn’t become believable.

Alignment is critical, as it is something that is with you for a very long time. This can become the bargaining power that becomes your heart pendant (where the other half is with someone else), where you are both focused on helping the same person.

For instance, this is where it doesn’t work when it comes to alignment:

  • An estate agent aligns itself with sponsorship opportunities for various local business events.

This is alignment:

  • An estate agent aligns itself with likeminded suppliers from the property ecosystem from removal companies to solicitors. They team up and the focus is on the customer and the process for the whole home moving experience.

Alignment is about others recognising something you genuinely believe in, in order to build trust. As highlighted in the Edelman Trust Survey, we are all at an all time low where people trust businesses. Have a read of the Edelman Trust Barometer 2017 UK article that highlights that business trust is at its lowest since 2012 and CEO credibility is at an all time low.

Authenticity And The Belief System

In an age where the content that people and businesses produce and distribute is what they want you to see, at least make it genuine to the thing that you believe in.

To have alignment with what you sell and what you believe in, you need to have some key foundations in place:

  • From the social posts to the ongoing content that is promoted and distributed, if it’s not clear, people are going to walk away. Can your main message live in one central place?
  • In the various places where you are present, people need to make an association with your angle of attack and what you believe in.
  • With a viewpoint or approach that is shared with others, it has to come from a place of conviction, rather than a short terms sales tactic.
  • It becomes easier, over time when you can demonstrate an approach. A good place to start is recognising the one word you stand for (click here to how this works).
  • In a world that encourages businesses to be more transparent and open with others, being reliable is a valuable trait to have.
  • When others make an association, what you create has a role to guide and for people to come back to, knowing that what you produce is consistent, rather than an infrequent tick box mentality.
  • To be seen as real, a company must realise that it must collaborate and encourage the participation of others.
  • When people make the association between principles and product, the strength of connection can be greater than just an association with a product ie. a garage that offers an MOT, to a garage that offers an MOT service after hours during the week as they understand that vehicles are in use during the day (this creates a service partner perception).
  • When a businesses takes an approach that goes against others within a marketplace and can do it consistently can define an approach.
  • Building connectivity with others takes time. You need to be able to look at it for the long-term building that creates the equity.

In Marketing 4.0, Philip Kotler highlights that, ‘in the digital economy, digital interaction alone is not sufficient.” The way that we differentiate should not just be reserved to the confines of behind a screen it is every touchpoint that we present to others.

The connection with what you do can help set the tone and encourage interaction. Whilst Cadbury’s would never conjure up a perception of a brand that was looking to help and encourage change, that is where the opportunity lies for other businesses.

Whilst Cadbury’s can now travel on the coat tails of the Premier League brand throughout the globe like a mouse catcher with cheese, there is an alternative. Instead of hunting for the next customer, a company has to be recognised as having clear intentions and to interact with a clear role to help.

Throwing everything at brand identity that is inherently false ie. the logo, the foiled logo on the brochure, the logo GIF that is on the website, the logo on rice paper on cupcakes, doesn’t mean anything to anyone anymore. Whilst a key requisite for traditional marketing and a way to interrupt and repeat, is that relevant today? Customers that are willing to make a deeper connection have places to look, interpret and make their own decision.

Customers are in a place where they can have closer relationships with companies, if they choose to. If a company has a number of touchpoints to interact and have that conversation it can drive action and advocacy.

Your beliefs and products should match if it is made out of love…..should have left this article for Valentines Week!

Feb 2, 2017

SOURCE: Mark Masters

Mark Masters
 Mark Masters is MD of The ID Group, a content marketing consultancy. He is a believer in theMark MastersTHE CONTENT REVOLUTION importance of businesses creating better content, establishing organic growth and standing for something compelling. He speaks to marketers and businesses at industry conferences on the topics of content marketing and applying a ‘story first’ approach to engage better with an audience. He curates the Once Upon A Time storytelling event and is co presenter of the Marketing Homebrew podcast. His online series Talking Content Marketing brings together infl uencers, authors and speakers from the world of marketing to share their knowledge. Visit for the latest articles, stories, interviews and events. Author of The Content Revolution



HOW MUCH SLEEP? It’s tempting to sacrifice sleep to give us more time. But when we’re tired we start to make bad decisions. We lose the ability to distinguish important work from unimportant work. Our workload increases, so we work even longer, and sleep even less.
Insufficient sleep is correlated with impaired logical reasoning, decision-making, memory, attention, and reaction times. Sleep debt is also found to be cumulative; if you sleep for less than six hours a night for five nights in a row, you can expect your cognitive performance to drop to that of a person who hasn’t slept for 48 hours.


“I need my sleep. I need about eight hours a day, and about ten at night.”
Bill Hicks, American stand-up comedian

The vast majority of us perform best after seven to nine hours of sleep. Some of us maintain we need less sleep, simply because we tend to be unaware of the degree to which our performance suffers.

To improve your sleep, understand that sleeping isn’t a skill you need to learn, and it’s certainly not the case that the harder you try the easier it gets. Sleeping well is the result of creating the right environmental, physiological, and mental, conditions. This offers three ways to improve your sleep:
  1. Create the right environment
    Significantly reduce your exposure to light at night. Send a message to your brain that it’s time to sleep. If you find it hard to fall asleep, stop using artificially lit screens (especially lap- tops, tablets, and mobile phones) an hour before sleep. Use software (such as F.lux), that removes blue light (the frequencies that disrupt your sleep most) from your computer monitor as it gets dark.
  2. Create the right physiological state
    Lower your cortisol levels and by relaxing your body. If you wake in the middle of the night, try practising meditation or mindfulness, or progressive relaxation before you go to bed.
  3. Create the right mental conditions
    Empty your mind regularly. It’s not an overactive mind that keeps you up, it’s just one that needs managing. Do regular brain dumps and stop working at least two hours before bed. Don’t check your emails or other news feeds before bed. Let your brain wind down.

SOURCE: Phil Dobson
Phil Dobson BSc (Hons), MBPsS, DHyp, BSCH (Assoc). Phil is trainer, facilitator and coach, and the Founder of THE BRAIN BOOKBrainWorkshops. He now works with organisation including the BBC, NBCUniversal, Jamie Oliver, Discovery Communications Europe, and Viacom International, providing brain-based training programmes that transform thinking and performance. Phil turns insights from neuroscience, cognitive and behavioural psychology, NLP, hypnotherapy and mindfulness into applicable skills and techniques for the workplace.


Done, done, done – don’t you just love the feeling of getting something done, when it is over, when we can cross it off our list, and when we have gotten one step further? I sure do. But somehow, some things never seem to get done. It is not necessarily that we keep postponing them, but rather that the tasks in themselves are ongoing and at least partly consist of similar tasks done repeatedly over long periods of time. For months on end, perhaps years, or what at least feels like an eternity.

They just go on, and on, and on

These tasks could for instance be reading something, researching, doing long-term planning, working with market- or competitive intelligence, or perhaps you are responsible for continuously posting things in the company’s social media channels. These tasks have a few things in common; they are often done over long periods of time, they tend to be a bit ambiguous, and they can be hard to just ”check off” from our to-do-list. So, when can we call it a day? When can we consider ourselves done? How much do we have to work on these tasks before we can feel satisfied? At the end of time itself, or at the end of every day?

I keep referring to the value of feeling that you accomplished something every day, since both I myself and the clients I work with notice what a positive influence being able to check items off our list has on our general well-being (or, if it sounds better to you, you could say that it is a ”kick-ass motivational breakthrough boost!” instead).

A more pleasant assignment

You should therefore give yourself clear assignments in the form of small portions of those ambiguous tasks so that they become at least ”partially done” after every session of working on them. Make an estimation of what you consider to be a reasonable portion to do on these tasks every day, once every week, or at some other interval that suits you and the task in question better. If it makes sense to think in terms of portions of time, such as one hour of work, three half-hours, the bus ride home, or by all means, perhaps along the lines of Arne Tammer (who was a famous Swedish sports-enthusiast and with his motto ”Give me fifteen minutes a day… and I will give you a healthy body!” encouraged a healthy lifestyle in the 1940s) and his fifteen minutes a day.

Now, as I am currently writing my next book, I make sure to write an hour every day. I consider an hour to be good enough, so when that hour is up, I stop. Rather than thinking that I should be writing more, and then always have the writing process hanging over me, I feel content having done what I intended to. And once I have written for an hour, I am free to do what I please, without feeling the least guilty about it.

Do this

If you have work to do that is somehow ambiguous and hence difficult to feel as you are progressing with, then try this:

1- Select one of these ongoing tasks.

2- Choose for how long you will work on it and how often. Is it an hour a day, half a day every week, half an hour on Tuesdays, two whole days every month, or some other interval? Perhaps two ”pomodoros” of 25 minutes every morning, as suggested in the Pomodoro method? You do not have to determine the perfect working session in terms of length and frequency right now, just estimate something to start with and try it for a while. If it should turn out that you keep getting behind and need more time at more frequent intervals to finish what you need to do, then simply adjust your method and try again.

3- If you want to determine at what time you will work on the task the next time, schedule it in your calendar as a recurring meeting with yourself. But beware so that you do not fill your calendar with tasks such as these though, since this will make your daily schedule far more rigid than what is necessary, and you will eventually step away from what you scheduled in your calendar entirely as more important and urgent tasks are added throughout your day. If the task does not require a specific time during the day to get done, then simply add it to the to-do-list as a recurring task so that you get to check it off every time you do it, but will not risk losing sight of having to do it again.

One clear step at a time

If you give yourself a dose or portion of that ambiguous task regularly, you will get to check it off your list regularly as well, and thus feel that sense of accomplishment that is so good for your motivation. You split the seemingly infinite task into smaller pieces which you complete one by one, and hence make tangible progress. And by doing so, you also get the large, and probably important, task or project done with greater foresight and finish it well before deadline, which you might not have if you would have just left it in its original, indeterminable state and done it in a haste last minute. You get to feel content with accomplishing something often, even if you are not reaching the final goal-post every single day.

What is your trick?

How do you make it clear to yourself that you are actually progressing on tasks that are extensive and spread out over long periods of time? Feel free to leave a comment below and share your thoughts.

Source: David Stiernholm

Author of: Super Structured

Cover of Super Structured

Cover of Super Structured

Many of us spend our working lives in a state of perpetual overwhelm. The feeling that there are more things to do than we have the time or resources for, combined with financial uncertainty, health concerns, relationship issues, and an overflowing inbox, means life can be pretty stressful.

Stress will always be there – but by using a few techniques listed below you can transform pressure into performance. And remember: “It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Appreciate the costs of stress: physical, emotional and mental, and acknowledge stress sometimes needs managing.

Look out for symptoms of stress: feeling overwhelmed, making bad decisions, impulsivity, tiredness, disrupted sleep, elevated heart rate, stiffness, indigestion, or craving sugary foods.

To manage stress, begin by regulating your physiology:

Notice and regulate your breathing. Notice your rate of breathing and where you are breathing from. Stressed breathing tends to be quicker and from your chest. Relaxed breathing is from your stomach.

Practice progressive relaxation, before bed or when you get home after work or at the beginning of a stressful day.

Then develop your emotional resilience:

Notice what gives your energy and do more of it.

Develop your locus of control, and challenge how much energy you give to things that currently frustrate you.

Appreciate the importance of emotional welling and make time for things you love

Finally, manage your cognitive state:

Do regular brain dumps and create a working system that prevents overwhelm (and that you trust!).

Be more conscious of your relationship with your phone and other digital technology.

SOURCE:  Phil Dobson

Author of The Brain Book

The Brain Book

When it comes to cyber risk, businesses are missing the human touch. A leading global advisory, broking and solutions company, recently urged businesses to focus more on employees and company culture in efforts to manage cyber risk.

Willis Towers Watson warned that many organisations continue to focus on the technology aspect of cyber defence, which is crucial, but often at the expense of people risks, which represent the largest source of data breach claims.

In fact, the company’s claim data show that employee negligence or malicious acts account for two-thirds (66%) of cyber breaches, only 18% were directly driven by an external threat, and cyber extortion accounted for just 2%.

The data shows that approximately 90% of all cyber claims are the result of some type of human error or behaviour.

“Evidence suggests that many businesses are taking an overly technocratic approach to cyber risk and are in danger of missing the bigger picture,” said Anthony Dagostino, head of global Cyber Risk at Willis Towers Watson.  “The simple truth is that a data compromise is more likely to come from an employee leaving a laptop on the train than from a malicious criminal hack. We believe employees and companies with a strong culture and cyber aware workforce are the first line of defence against cyber risk.”

Source: Willis Towers Watson

Mind the Skills Gap – British Businesses Struggle to Fill Technology Vacancies with graduates. As the haggling for Brexit truly begins it’s increasingly important to support British business, but a new study by education technology providers, IDEAS Bus, reveals a significant gap between the recruitment needs of the UKs SME and the abilities of British graduates.

With 61% of small businesses finding it difficult to find workers with the right tech skills to fill vacancies, and 42% saying that they don’t have the time or resources to train people on the job, many business owners are finding themselves in a catch-22 situation. Companies need to grow in order to increase their income and employ more staff, yet lack the staff with the expertise to enable them to grow.

Technological vacancies seem to be the most difficult to fill, with 37% of small business owners complaining that their tech needs are growing but there aren’t enough skilled workers to fill the gap, while almost a quarter (23%) of small businesses claim that a lack of technically capable employees is causing them to lose working hours.

Among the most sought after employees in the last 12 months were:

  •     Programmers, with 32% of SMEs struggling to fill positions
  •     A lack of Web Developers caused problems for 29% of small businesses
  •     While an additional quarter (24%) were seeking Coders

During the coming year it looks like App Developers will be most in demand, with 35% of SMEs set to seek these skills.

When asked why they thought that filling vacancies had become so difficult in recent years, one in five (21%) of SME owners said that the advancement of technology had led to the need for increased skill levels in the workplace, something which UK educators have been unprepared for.

With technology changing so rapidly, it is necessary to meet new and changing needs all the time. Compare the top skills required in 2017 to 2010, which was only 7 years ago, and we find many of the skills that were necessary then have either been downgraded or replaced.

Network Administration and Business process improvement are not up at the top anymore either, having been overtaken by positions in Big Data, Web applications and device management, as well as Interface Design. This confirms that in order to keep our technological skills up to date we need to be aware of emerging new technologies.

IDEAS Bus founder, Casey Farquharson, commented: “I’ve worked in business, education and tech for many years and it’s true that technology has come on at a surprisingly rapid pace in the last decade; no wonder many businesses are struggling to keep up. Unfortunately, there are many demands on UK educational establishments, meaning that teachers often lack the time to keep up with the technology which would give their pupils the edge when they move from education into employment.”



Today it seems that we are reviewing our financial positions and are happier buying less, shunning debt and embracing minimalism. Worldwide, only four in 10 people say that money gives meaning to their lives, while five in 10 say they would actually be happier if they consumed less. A study by Havas Worldwide found that a stalling global economy and the shrinking of personal wealth are changing our attitudes about money. Consumption and debt indicate that capitalism is quickly becoming bankrupt.

Money is important, but not everything

People are cautious about debt: Nearly seven out of 10 respondents say their lives would be better if they had less debt. The primary reasons people are willing to incur debt are buying a home (50%), paying for children’s education (40%), investing in one’s own business (31%), and buying a car (27%).

Questions about capitalism

Just 40% of mainstream respondents believe that the harder a person works, the more they will earn—a contradiction of a key belief on which capitalist societies are built. 50% percent of respondents say it frustrates them to have to work so many hours just to support themselves.

Banks need to change

Consumers across the world expect banks to adapt to new technologies and take on a more personal role in customers’ lives. Fifty-nine percent of respondents say they wish they were smarter about saving money. Forty-nine percent of respondents want their financial life bundled within a single organization, and among the early adopters in the sample set (Prosumers), 55% want to pay for everything with smartphones and just as many would like to use biometric technologies for payments.

“Consumers are caught in a perfect storm of financial uncertainty: their hard work isn’t paying off, their hard-earned money is at the mercy of a stalling global economy, their desire for better money management tools remains unfulfilled and the financial future of their children looks bleak. There is no doubt that globalization and rapid advances in technology have contributed to the unfair distribution of wealth, which is at the heart of many of these issues. But companies can be as much a part of the solution as the problem. They must rewrite the contract between themselves and society, shifting their focus from creating value for shareholders, to creating value for the world at large,” said Dan Goldstein, chief strategy officer, Havas New

SOURCE: “Money, Money, Money: Attitudes Toward Credit, Consumption, and Cryptocurrency”

A good night’s sleep is something that eludes a lot of us. The stress caused by insomnia can have a long-lasting effect in both our personal and professional lives. World Sleep Day on the 17 March aims to tackle this problem head on. Sleep Guru Anandi has speardheaded the offensive against sleepless nights.

For the last five years Anandi has been working on her very own natural health therapy which originated from ancient India and uses a variety of different exercises to help maintain balance.

Here are Anandi’s top tips to improve your night’s sleep:

  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol
  • Lengthen and deepen the breath, which calms the mind
  • Go to bed early and avoid technology for at least one hour before going to bed
  • A busy mind is never going to sleep well – a daily ritual that nurtures the soul is vital for relaxed slumber
  • Enjoy a diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables
  • Turn the lighting down in the evening
  • Avoid heavy conversations before bed time
  • Keep your bedroom tidy and free of clutter
  • Aim for a minimum of seven hours of solid sleep per night.

Anandi battled her insomnia for 15 years and has now written her first book titled ‘Breathe Better, Sleep Better’. The book has many useful tips and exercises to help overcome insomnia and irregular sleeping patterns. You can use the link below to find out more about the book and get your very own Sleep Review.

The Sleep Guru

Sleep Review