Chamber of Commerce 2nd Business Leaders Conference: Sign of the times? Or just sad?

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sussex-chamber-of-commerce The Eagle, Business Leaders Conference

The Chamber of Commerce produced their second Business Leaders Conference with a nicely diversified team of speakers, each addressing different issues in the world of commerce, keeping their audience informed and entertained.

Commerce Business Leaders Conference

The event was compered by Laurence Elphick who as well as being a Chamber board member, has just been made managing director of regional Radio station Juice 107.2FM, no easy task in a world of ipods and ipads plus falling radio audiences.

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The morning session was opened by Tim Hawkes, an executive coach who started by saying ‘If you’re sitting there and you get anode with me… good!’ He went on, ‘The reason your angry is you, not me… and I will challenge you’. He showed a picture of four teenagers, who were wearing the same school uniform, sitting on a bench each looking at their iPad instead of conversing with each other.

Tim asked whether we thought this was a ‘sad thing or just a sign of the times’? All the delegates had an opinion. Tony confirming ‘Normally, the older person believes the photo is sad while the younger feels it’s life. Different people have different perspectives’.

His session was more interactive than most, setting the delegates personal questions to answer, some were even willing to share their answers. ‘If you get angry you’re out of your comfort zone’ he went on as his work gave us a perspective on ourselves. ‘What’s it like being you’? Bullet points answers only. Tony finished by challenging us to become better listeners and to ask more open questions.

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It is unusual to see an 18-year-old take to the stage to give the middle-aged audience a telling off. This was Ciara Brodie, as part of the Barclays Life-skills Youth Advisory Council, addressing her seniors with the professional confidence and preparation many on ‘The Apprentice’ could learn from. In a thick scouse accent she pleaded to employees to prepare young people better for work, giving examples in an impressive power-point presentation how they can and should help.

The issue of youth and age, modern and old, was further confused by Laurence Elphick using a clipboard to introduce the speakers, as Tony Hawkes took the stage with iPad in hand, words of banter were exchanged concerning the two devices. Later Laurence returned minus his clipboard. Why? Because 18-year-old Ciara asked to borrow it during her presentation.

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Those who wanted to examine their company marketing were in for surprise or a good kick up the back side with Grant Leboff who had much to say on the communication revolution. He announced ‘For the first time in history everyone has a channel’. If you have a website, you have your own media channel. In the past marketing was interrupting your audience .. now you have to earn the audience. Laboff stated ‘94% of all business to business purchases start with an online search’. He made the point several times, ‘we are all media companies’ and ‘media is a narrative and a story’. So much information is being sent out there is an ‘Attention deficit disorder in our audience’. They do not have the concentration levels of the past.

Grant confirmed to the listening delegates many aspects of the digital society, they probably already appreciated but like many good business speakers put it into a linear pattern, referring to company websites the only reason to have a website is to capture data. It is about social sharing, not viral as that is too big. Social sharing in our network which should be alliterative (Blogging, vlogging, networks & groups). We need to put yourself, brand, product or service in the mindset of potential customers. Always have a ‘Call to action’ what we want our prospective customer to do next? He left us thinking with what he considered the three new rules of marketing

The emphasis was certainly put on ‘Media is a narrative and a story’.

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3 New Rules Of Marketing

  1. Marketing is no longer a means to an end. It is an end in itself.
  2. It is not about products & services it is about people.
  3. Marketing is no longer winning customers, it’s about building communities.

A short presentation from Jennifer Hanraads from the Chailey Heritage Foundation and the excellent work they do providing education, care and transition services for children and young people with complex physical disabilities and health needs, such efforts were rewarded by a well supported raffle in aid of the charity.

Read how guest speaker, ski jumper Eddie The Eagle managed to make this audience laugh & cry.

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