Christmas on a shoestring for the ChrissyB Show

Christmas on a shoestring? Is it possible?

Had great fun on Monday evening on my monthly slot on the ChrissyB Show on Sky 203 talking about Christmas on a Shoestring. Chrissy and I chatted about the marketing fun and games that happen at Christmas as advertisers spend billions trying to persaude us to part with our cash in a £5bn spending spree. The average household in the UK spends nearly £1000 on Christmas when all is said and done.

on the set of the ChrissyB Show

But is that what Christmas should be about?

We all know that it isn't – Christmas is about connecting with family and friends, showing kids that they are loved and valued through more than just presents and having fun. We shared 5 top tips for a good Christmas on a shoestring.  

Think about the Christmas you really want 

that doesn't mean the stuff you want but what you will really remember from this special time. Can you even remember what you got for Christmas last year?

Give time and effort not money

In our ultra time stressed world the most luxurious commodity is time – so why not give some time and effort rather than the easy choice of an expensive gift

Remember everything will be cheaper in the New Year

This is a great one to bear in mind – everything that you see before Christmas "on sale" or at bargain prices will be cheaper in the New Year – that's the way of the world. Bear that in mind before splashing out. 

Give a gift to someone less fortunate

It's scientifically proven that giving thanks for what you have and doing something for those less fortunate than you are will make you happier – and what better time to do it than at Christmas? 

Never get into debt for Christmas 

One third will spend more than they have at Christmas and get into debt. This is NEVER a good idea. Explain to family and friends that you can't spend alot and most will understand. Clearing the debt headache in January is never easy and leads to a bad start to the year!

Watch the show on the ChirssyB Show YouTube channel.

Also on the show was Michelle from Being Creative – a wonderful blog about downshifting, making and growing things. Michelle brought loads of lovely homemade goodies for us to try as gifts for Christmas. Check out Michelle's site for recipes and ideas. 

At last! My book Why Should Anyone Buy From YOU? available on Kindle

trust kindle

I am delighted to say that at long last my book – Why Should Anyone Buy From YOU? is available as a Kindle edition.

Now you can read all about how trust works, what you can do to create, nurture and capture it on your favourite e-reader. For more information on Why Should Anyone Buy from YOU? including videos, praise and free chapter click here.

FREEDOM, TECHNOLOGY AND CHOICE

Freedom – I’ve been thinking a lot about it recently. Last weekend, Remembrance Sunday in the UK, was a timely and sobering reminder that millions have sacrificed their lives to protect freedom for us and still do. But what are these freedoms that need to be so preciously protected? It seems to me that freedom is inextricably linked to choice. Our freedom is proved when we make the choices we do.

FREEDOM & TECHNOLOGY?

We live today in a world empowered by technology which as well as offering us many new choices also limits our choices in ways that are harder to discover but no less important to discuss. As a result of our hyper-connected and hyper-transparent world we are simultaneously both liberated and shackled. We are liberated to share more freely, interact more diversely and access new and instant knowledge. These benefits however come with downsides, more of our time and attention is demanded leaving us more tired, more overwrought, more stressed than ever before. The choice to switch off from work is made harder by constant availability and speed; connections between people become looser and less meaningful as time spent together is replaced with more frequent, less direct contact; commercial communication and advertising bombards us at every turn cementing the consumer values of our society rather than citizenship. Beneath these more obvious negative impacts are also more sinister and more opaque influences on our freedoms. We now live in a world where almost everything we do and see is a consequence of our past behavior and decisions. This limits access to information, to services and removes the freedom that is to choose to change. See my review of the Filter Bubble – a great book exploring this.

FREEDOM REDUCED THROUGH FILTERING

For example no longer do I see the same output from a Google search that you do. The Google algorithm uses everything it knows about me to give me the results it thinks I want to see and will click on. A computer is blindly making choices for me, filtering and changing my view of what is available in the world. If I am right-leaning in my political views I will see more positive results for David Cameron, if I am left-leaning then more negative. It makes it harder to determine the truth and make informed decision. Computers filter based on our digital footprints in the name of convenience, which of course we appreciate all the more so, because we are so overwhelmed. Extrapolate and you can imagine a world where the choice to access many products and services or be influenced or challenged with diverse viewpoints is largely reduced as it is filtered away either because they are unprofitable or just simply annoying. The available inputs that go into this customization of the world around us are gathering pace everyday. Almost every step of our lives is now recorded in some way. Our identities are virtual and our actions recorded. CCTV on the street, in shops and on public transport watch us. The internet records our every click and view, our email services record who we communicate with and what we say. Our mobile phones record where we are and what we are doing. And these bit of data are becoming more connected and aggregated with each other everyday. The industries that make money from all this surveillance progress three stock defenses: firstly that all this tracking is “blind” as to who we actually are, secondly it is more convenient and lastly that those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear. These defenses are facile and disingenuous. Whether the identity is a number or address or even an anonymous click stream it takes very little effort to match it to a real individual and this is an increasingly important aspect of the industries that seek to exploit, aggregate and integrate information to make money. It only takes a few variations in the information, such as browser, screen resolution, location, and operating system to identity a specific computer or person and these are available to every website that exists. Convenience is also not a good enough reason to remove freedom to choose – life is diverse and whilst undoubtedly atomizing is still collective and community based. Our well-being and the social good is promoted by creating diverse interactions, information and experience. How much more sustainable would our banking model have been had it maintained contact with ordinary people and it’s social purpose rather than becoming myopic and mono-dimensional. The concept that this level of surveillance is not a problem unless you have something to hide is also dangerous and divisive. It appeals to our sense of right and wrong, or perhaps more accurately, it appeals to the self-righteous. We would do well to remember that centralized intrusion and collection of intelligence on what an individual’s views were and what this could mean about their intentions was crucial for the Nazis in 1930s Germany, the Stasi in communist Russia and the fear and obsession of McCarthyism in 1950s America.

THE RISKS OF OUR DIGITAL FOOTPRINTS

On a less macro level our digital footprints also lead to security and identity risks. It’s these macro and micro risks that led the European Convention of Human Rights to enshrine the human right to privacy. It should worry us deeply that the ability to track and record en mass has proved too tempting for the UK Government who are trying to ensure that up to three years worth of internet, email and other electronic footprints are stored on the whole population “just in case”. They claim that this intrusion is justified in the fight to protect freedom. It isn’t. It seems to me that freedom is to be in control, to be empowered with time and knowledge, and so be able to make the right choices for ourselves. The technologies we have today help connect us broadly with each other and provide access to thin convenient slices of knowledge, the growing opportunity is to help us control these technologies and the fears they create, thus allowing us to gain more freedom over how we choose to spend our time and energy.

Tell me what this blog should focus on in 2013

If you can't see the survey then click here.

What content would You like to see on basini.com. This year I'm asking for help in prioritising my thinking and writing. PLEASE FILL IN THIS SHORT SURVEY. Thanks for your help and if you leave your email one lucky respond will get a free copy of my book – Why Should Anyone Buy From You? worth £19.99. 

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.

WHAT ARE BANKS FOR?

This article was published first in the Financial Services Forum’s Argent Magazine – Autumn 2011.


What are Banks for, if not to feather their own nests?

If we truly want to address the trust issues in financial services, I believe we need to ask some deeper, more fundamental questions about the nature of trust and what we’re here to do, individually and collectively.

 

The first step, especially following the turbulence of the past few years, is to recognise how complex an entity trust is – easy to feel but difficult to understand. The brand and industry trackers show trust going up, down and sideways – there’s little consistency. In reality, while we haven’t seen people pulling their money en mass from banks or more switching from one brand to another, it feels as if the standing of financial services brands is at a low point.

 

To understand what’s going on means recognising the distinctive layers in the concept of trust:

 

Functional trust underscores how well an industry or product group works to deliver a functional benefit. Here, banking actually continues to score highly and trust levels have actually increased – even more so since the government proved it would stand behind the banks. We all trust that a bank will work to deliver core commodity functions reliably.

 

Affective trust is where financial services companies have a real problem. Very few people have affective trust in financial services brands and virtually no-one trusts the top bankers who serve as figureheads for our industry. They’re seen as defensive and self-serving. All the TV and newspaper advertising behind the message “We’re ordinary people working for you”, doesn’t move the needle, despite what a brand tracker might say. These messages are perceived to be superficial, actually creating more mistrust and frustration with our industry.

 

It’s galling for a consumer to hear these advertising messages while also hearing a CEO defend massive bonus payments or threaten to leave the country when taxes are discussed. People integrate these messages. In our hyper-connected and hyper-transparent age, consumers assess brands and business on a range of competing dimensions to get very near the truth.

 

The trust in business, and the banking industry especially, that people used to have and that gave a legitimacy to our commercial activities has been decreasing alarmingly in the West. Business leaders are now seen as “doing the right thing” by only 20% of the population.

 

And there’s now clear evidence that commanding deep trust is a hard business issue, not a soft, intangible matter to be addressed through superficial communications alone.  It’s already directly impacting balance sheets and business models – just look at the cost of compensating for this lack of trust through vastly increased capital requirements or the ring-fencing of retail operations suggested by the Vickers report. All because we as an industry are seen not to be worthy of trust.

 

Against that background, most “normal” people are asking: What are financial services and especially our banks here to do, if it’s not just to feather their own nests? This assumption of self-serving goes to the heart of our business – and we will continue to suffer as regulators become more aggressive, spurred on by an increasingly frustrated and angry public.

 

However, those brands that truly commit to both social and commercial good, that contribute to social capital through their activities and that mobilise their workforce locally and authentically to take this message out – for them, these are the most exciting of trust-building times. Authentic, real, connected trust has always been at the heart of the profitable customer-financial services relationship. That’s why it receives so much attention, and why building it continues to be the right thing to do.

 

Read more about creating a sustainably trusted and trustworthy business and brand in Why Should Anyone Buy From YOU? (FT-Prentice Hall) by Justin Basini. It’s Available on Amazon and in all good bookshops.

LISTEN TO THE ENGAGING BRAND PODCAST

…featuring a discussion about brands, business, trust and social capital between me and Anna Farmery who hosts the show. The podcast covers some of the thinking in my book Why Should Anyone Buy From YOU?

You can listen the podcast here. 

Thanks to Anna at The Engaging Brand website. You can follow Anna on Twitter at @engagingbrand.

FREELANCER? YOU NEED TRUST

The following article was first published on FREELANCE ADVISOR the site for people who freelance.

Are you trusted?

 

Commanding higher fees and more loyalty from your clients is crucial to any freelancer. We all want people talking about our services and enough work to pick and choose. If you want to achieve this there is one thing that you should put at the heart of your relationship with your clients and that is trust.

The trouble is that developing a specific strategy to gain trust is hard because trust is a many-layered and complex entity. Trust is actually a composite of three layers: functional, affective and bonded trust. Functional trust is all about how well you deliver. Affective trust is focused on building relationships so that people like you and bonded trust is moving to that level when a client just can’t do without you and loves having you around.

If you want to build trust and create more profitable relationships there are 5 things which you need to manage:

Engagement and credibility

if I Google you do I get a rich tapestry of expert comment and recommendation from which to start to trust you? Are you engaged in thought leadership in your industry and do you make this easy for me to find? Building an engaging foundation of deep credibility is the first step to building trust.

Setting and understanding the right expectations

Every exchange is a complex web of expectations. How do you actively manage your clients’ expectations? Do you let timings slip and let disappointment cloud the relationship or are you on top of delivery. A great piece of work delivered late is tarnished and ends up destroying trust. Managing expectations correctly should be your number 1 task.

Honesty and respectfulness

How honest are you? Do you tell it like it is or do you say what you need to get the job? Sometimes the best medicine is honest but respectful feedback. When was the last time you told a client that what they were doing wasn’t up to scratch? This might be painful at the time but leads to a deeper more trusting relationship. Of course, feedback is a two way street – do you solicit clear and honest feedback on your own work?

Keeping commitments and consistency

This is probably the most important element in any trusting relationship. You absolutely must keep commitments and be consistent. A broken commitment especially when the wrong expectations have been set is a major reason for the breakdown of trust.

Trusting and being trustworthy

Everyone, and every business or brand, wants to be trusted. However trust is a two way thing. You can’t expect to receive trust without trusting in the first place. How do you signal that you trust your clients? Trust creating activities delivered early in the selling in process is often a great way to forge trusted relationships. Analyse a potential client’s activity and give this away for free – you create a powerful source of trust building reciprocity which will deliver dividends.

Justin Basini is the author of new book Why Should Anyone Buy From You?

 

THE “DAILY BALLET”

 

Just back from a trip to America and having spent far too long in airports over the past couple of weeks I was reminded of Jane Jacobs 1961 book The Death and Life of Great American Cities, and her powerful description of the ‘daily ballet,’ happening on the streets. The mass movement and information exchange between strangers going about their daily business which can be observed and felt on busy streets and places like crowded airports.

Walking among strangers in an unfamiliar place has always had a certain piquancy to it…but these uneasy feelings are now more and more common even as we make our way around our own communities and countries. In airports the constant checks and universal CCTV and security presence makes one feel the oppression of the lack of trust in the travelling public and far from being reassuring it makes me feel on edge.

It is this environment of nervousness and suspicion that makes it harder for us to be comfortable around each other and benefit from the formal and informal interactions of walking with strangers.  Our response is to naturally spend more time alone or in close family groups, in our cars and homes and less out in our communities. We lose the sense of ourselves as citizens living together with others in society, and often replace this with other roles – like ourselves as consumers.

And thus, marketing and many other businesses benefit as we replace community with consumption. The impact of these changing modes of interaction and atomisation of society are far-reaching. We trust less, we assume more negative intent and we destroy our very ability to trust, denying ourselves the opportunity to learn and interact with others, and in the process, blunt for good our skills in trusting.

For the complete guide on how to create trust in your businesses and brands get your copy of Why Should Anyone Buy from You? BUY NOW