Words are powerful.

Just ask any leader or media personality who has stumbled over their words, or used the wrong word in a situation. (Who could forget Tony Abbott’s ‘suppository of all wisdom’ gaffe!).

When it comes to brands, telling a compelling story is critical.

But while it may be easy to sell yourself through words (you can always rely on the services of expert marketers for that!)  it can be harder to walk that talk.

Here are five non-verbal ways to tell your brand’s story.

Captivating Visuals
Getting your visual branding and assets right can have a major impact on your brand. It’s why 91% of consumers prefer visual content to text – and why so many brands embark on major rebrands. Your visual content extends to your social media, where some brands triumph. Whole Foods, for example, reflects its brand values through eye-catching imagery on Instagram that reflect the brand’s wholesome food offering.

Design & Layout
Whether it’s a retail or office environment, the design and layout of your brand’s physical space is a fantastic visual portrayal of your values. Silicon Valley brands like Google and Facebook showcase their innovation and commitment to staff satisfaction through their thoughtful office environments, while Etsy’s quirky Brooklyn headquarters reflect the brand’s focus on high-quality crafting.

Evoke the Senses
When designing your brand’s space, consider how stimulating the senses can add to the mood or story of your brand. I recently wrote about how The Body Shop created an innovative retail space, which fed into the company’s broader story. Likewise, Abercrombie & Fitch plays on the senses to attract their target market, spraying fragrance and playing loud music to draw in their target clientele.

Poignant Packaging
A brand’s packaging is an important extension of their visual identity. Tiffany & Co. is one of the best examples of this. Those teal bags and boxes and white ribbon have long been synonymous with the brand, and speak to their values of timeless beauty and luxury. Brands can also reflect other values, such as their commitment to the environment, through their packaging. Organic haircare brand Kevin Murphy, for example, recently made a commitment to move to bottles made from 100 per cent recycled ocean plastics, which speaks to the brand’s commitment to the environment.

Customer Service
Finally, customer service is a clear representation of your brand’s values. As Alexandra Sheehan writes for Shopify, “Sales associates on the floor are the personification of your brand… It’s imperative that they’re considered an essential component of the brand identity.” Costco is one brand that reflects its values through their customer service. The retailer is known for being particularly accommodating when it comes to returns. The company has successfully created an affordable shopping experience without compromising on customer experience.

So there you have it! From your packaging, to visual and sensory experiences, there’s much more to your brand story than words.

Time to walk the talk? At Kiikstart we’re specialists when it comes to business strategy and idea execution. Get in touch today for support with any aspects of your company’s planning or storytelling. Email enquiries@kiikstart.com.

‘Collaboration’ has long been a buzzword in the business world.

Companies recognise that remaining relevant requires not only internal collaboration and team work, but also collaboration in the form of partnerships with other organisations.

Defined as “the situation of two or more people working together to create or achieve the same thing”, collaboration makes good business sense.

Consider the success of fast fashion retailer H&M’s collaborations with luxury design houses such as Balmain and Versace, or Uber and Spotify’s value-add partnership that allows you to connect your Spotify account to your Uber car’s radio.

But with great reward often comes great risk. Collaboration can be seen as a smoking gun means to achieving greater brand awareness and financial rewards based on a partnership vision that focuses too heavily on the ‘what’ – the strategy – and not enough on the ‘how’ – the tactics, or fails to adequately recognise the risks.

In these cases, the results can be disappointing. Loss of autonomy, dilution of your brand, lost time and resources, or a negative impact on your brand’s reputation, are just some of the risks.

So today I’m challenging you not to mention the ‘c’ word without first taking these six steps to determine whether you or your business are really in a position to commit to a collaboration.

Do so and you’ll be well on the way to more successful partnership opportunities that yield better results for you and your partners.

  1. Time is of the essence

The first key question you should consider is whether you have the time and resources to nurture a collaboration opportunity. You should consider the potential drain on company resources, both in terms of the number of hours key staff would likely spend on such a partnership, and upfront financial costs. Remember that the drain on financial and company resources is often greater than expected.

  1. Identify your processes

Before entering into any external collaborations or partnerships, you should identify your processes for critiquing the value of your collaboration. Ask: what am I seeking to get out of the partnership first and foremost? Once you know this, you’ll be able to deduce how best to measure this  – whether it be greater brand awareness, a spike in sales of a particular product or service, or customer satisfaction levels.

  1. Leverage your strengths

When negotiating any partnership, be sure to know your strengths. Consider both your access to knowledge and people. For example, you may have a small team, but you could have expert specialised knowledge that is particularly valuable to a potential partner. Alternatively, you may have a broader organisational focus, but perhaps you have the people power to support this work and do more of the heavy-lifting. Knowing and leveraging your strengths before commencing negotiations with prospective partners will ensure you get a better deal for your business. Be prepared to ask yourself and your team the tough questions about what you bring to the table as an organisation.

  1. Mind the gap

Also be aware of your skill gaps – and ensure you partner with an organisation that doesn’t have the same gaps as you. Consider whether you have complementary skill-sets, and creative ways to bridge any skill gaps.

  1. Better off alone?

Finally, assess the ideas and opportunities that collaborations offer and weigh these up against the potential challenges. Ask yourself: am I really better off collaborating, or could I/we be better off alone? Consider what you could do with the resources required for your collaboration if you decide not to go ahead. Which option is more favourable from a commercial perspective? And don’t forget to consider brand reputation and PR risks. LEGO’s collaboration with Shell is one example of a company failing to recognise the PR risk of such an association, as attitudes to Shell’s environmental practices have shifted over time.

  1. Trust is a must

Finally, weigh up the ‘co-opetition’. The term, utilised to describe collaborations with organisations that would often be considered your natural competitors, sums up the need for trust. In order for partnerships to be truly successful, all parties need to be willing to share ideas and insights. At the same time, protecting your IP and business plans is essential to mitigate unnecessary risk.

So, be sure to exercise consideration and caution when using the ‘c’ word. While collaborations aren’t for everyone, successful partnerships can offer immense value to all parties.

I’m interested in your thoughts… Do you have a favourite company collaboration? And are there any other considerations you would weigh up before using the ‘c’ word?

In a pre-online shopping world, and before the Internet was mainstream, the retail sector seemed a much surer bet.

But even then, there were brands that didn’t rest on their laurels.

Perhaps one of the best examples of this is The Body Shop. Under the stewardship of founder, Dame Anita Roddick, the company was innovative, and a tad rebellious.

Working for the brand on and off for more than a decade, my work in retail sales evolved into a training and mentoring role with the brand.

In 2003 I spent two years in Ireland developing their flagship store in Dublin, helping to improve outcomes and processes. It was my first foray into learning and development – and a path that Anita herself had influenced me to pursue.

I met Anita on several occasions and found her to be passionate and funny. I remember talking to her when I was at a career crossroads myself after starting a degree in Management, and finding it wasn’t the right fit.

Her words of wisdom helped bring me clarity, and it was this clarity that set me on a path to study PR and Communications – a fruitful course for me that’s led to my own learning and development business for brands.

There are many lessons I took from these conversations, and my experience working for this iconic brand, but here are a few of my top takeaways. 

Staff buy-in is key
The people on the shop floor, the franchisors and management have the power to shape an international brand’s reality, no matter how good it may be in other countries. The ‘90s and early 2000s felt like a real golden era for The Body Shop in Australia – and it was run very much in the spirit of Anita. She loved seeing what she could create, and having the right people working for her to bring the brand to life. We were proud to work for The Body Shop, and it showed. 

Make it fun
Anita was a fun person who attracted people who were smart and energetic. She led the way by creating an engaging and interactive retail space that changed the way people interacted with cosmetics. Customers could really engage with the products on the shop floor; they could smell and test the products on a large scale, making their shopping experience more fun and interactive.

Show you care
One of the most unique aspects about the brand is its clear social conscience – and its innovative and at times rebellious approach to community work and advocacy over the years. Our team worked on community projects in some pretty out there places! In 1993 I can remember working with people with AIDS at a time when there was still a huge stigma associated with the disease.

The public were looking for ways to get involved in community campaigns – and The Body Shop offered them that opportunity. We ran a lot of campaigns that fit with the brand’s values, such as a campaign to save the Siberian tiger. We sold soaps in the shape of tigers, took donations, and also offered people petitions they could sign. The public were buying our ethical products, but they were also buying into issues that they cared about; it was a feel-good, community experience that hasn’t really been replicated by a brand continuously on the same scale since.

Give people choice
I think choice is another major reason for the brand’s success. The Body Shop have always offered a substantial product selection and a range of size options. The company were also one of the first to offer the option to recycle your products, where you could bring your products back to be refilled. This was another way that The Body Shop showed their commitment to the environment. Good business is about giving people choice.

Great customer service will set your brand apart
While some blame the rise of online shopping for the demise of many businesses in the retail sector, if you have awesome bricks and mortar, I truly believe you can still be successful. Many brands are failing to engage their audience with the sort of humour and imagination that Anita championed. No-one gives money to people – or brands – that don’t make them feel good! Great customer service remains a key part of the story. Working for The Body Shop I learnt a lot about the human race: how to be respectful, how to make people feel comfortable, and how to involve customers with a product. The Body Shop achieved this, and taught me a huge amount about what it means to serve and understand people and communities.

Let your principles shine
Being a principled leader is perhaps one of the most important lessons I took away from meeting Anita, and my time with The Body Shop. Of course, the brand had to make profits, but Anita also asked people what they cared about – and reflected this through the company’s products, campaigns and initiatives. To this day, principles guide me, and the brands I work with too, in part thanks to those early lessons I learnt from Dame Anita Roddick.

 

Feature image: Daily Mail UK

As leaders, there are times when our courage and resolve will be tested.

Staying true to your personal values where there is a values mismatch with the company or organisation where you work is one of the most testing scenarios of all.

Being brave, and calling BS when it’s necessary, is an important step for leaders. This is especially true where a company’s brand promise and cultural reality differ.

The case for organisational health may seem obvious, but its impact on an organisation’s bottom line is significant. Worldwide management consulting firm McKinsey & Company asserts that the top quartile of publicly traded companies who participated in their Organisational Health Index delivered about three times the returns to shareholders compared to the bottom quartile.

So what steps should you take to test and maintain your organisation’s health?

Below, I’ve outlined the essential steps every leader, and company for that matter, can take to ensure a healthy company culture. Remember there is never just one culture present. Organisations are like people, and have positive and negative aspects vying for attention.

Define – and benchmark – what success looks like
Being able to define your own benchmark for organisational health is essential. Without benchmarks, how will you know whether you’re heading in the right direction? This involves being able to define the type of products and services you want to provide, to whom, and in what ways. You won’t be the right fit for everyone, nor is everyone the right fit for you. By summarising your brand purpose, values and leadership culture, you’re defining what success should look like for your brand.

Assess the gap
Once you’ve determined your organisational benchmarks, you’ll need to work to remove the obstacles to the culture you’re seeking to create. Consider what you need to change and what has to be introduced into the organisation’s reality to be able to deliver on its brand promise. Too often the organisational cultural reality is totally incongruent with the marketing fantasy. And, as gothamCulture Managing Partner Chris Cancialosi warns, “when you brand promise doesn’t measure up to your audience’s expectations, you won’t just disappoint; you’ll lose their trust and loyalty.” He says embedding this culture in your organisation first is essential, and prevents this disconnect. Ask yourself how far the gap is between promise and reality in relation to your staff, clients and partners.

Get real insights
True assessment of your company’s culture requires leaders to not only look inward, but also outward. Davis & Company CEO Alison Davis recommends that you assess your company’s health at an individual, team and organisational level to get a true picture. Anonymous surveys and one-on-one interviews that give employees the chance to talk candidly about the environment are some useful tactics. It is best to bring an external person in to do this work and analyse and present key insights in order to get an independent and accurate picture.

Remove obstacles to long-term success
You’ll also need to be prepared to remove barriers to the cultural reality you’re seeking. This could involve saying good bye to staff members, or parting ways with a client due to a misalignment of values and purpose. Ten years ago I was personally challenged when our key client took on new management and asked us to provide a substandard product to its clients. The outcome resulted in us walking away and losing in excess of 90 per cent of our income overnight – not ideal! While this was challenging, I backed the quality of our offering, the reputation of our brand, and our genuine respect for the end user. I also held true to the belief that you can always get other projects, but it is damn hard to rebuild your reputation. As tough as it can be, I recommend constantly holding these cultural aspects to account and calling BS when they fall short of the standard you’re aspiring to. Take the action you need to say good bye and make the necessary changes.

Create your team
Finally, attracting the right talent will go a long way to developing a healthy organisational culture. Ensuring you get the right personality fits, incentivising staff, and creating an environment where teamwork is rewarded and recognised, are just some of the ways to build a positive culture for the long-haul.

As a leader remember that what you put up with you end up with.

Ask yourself: What am I tolerating within my own company that I’d like to call BS on? I’d love your insights.

Promoting from within is a great motivational tool for your team – and a fantastic way to retain your best people.

But, when taken too far, it can create a culture that is insular and nepotistic.

Striking the right balance between promoting from within and bringing in outside talent with fresh ideas is key to any business’ success.

Here, I’ve covered my top five reasons why looking beyond your in-house talent pool can add value, whether you’re looking at a new hire, or working with expert contractors on a regular basis.

Fresh perspective
External hires and contractors, such as trainers and business coaches, can bring fresh ideas and perspective. Likewise, hiring leaders outside your business can have many benefits. University of Missouri-Columbia research found that while 78 per cent of new CEOs are hired from within an organisation, external hires “spend more money on research and development” and showcase a greater commitment to innovation. This is particularly important where a business is struggling or in need of rejuvenation. Let’s be honest – regular, constant rejuvenation is a reality for any business that wants to be relevant and grow into the future.

Multi-industry expertise
When sourcing outsider talent, choose experts with experience across multiple industries. The scope of their expertise is a major value-add. In fact, outsiders with expertise far-removed from your industry can offer more value still, since like for like expertise often does not allow for new idea generation.

Challenging the status quo
Outsiders bring new insights – and can challenge group thinking that can come from knowing each other too well and feeling too comfortable. When done right, outsiders will challenge the status quo, including relationships and team behaviours that inhibit growth and innovation.

This is particularly true of business coaches. The right business coach will immerse themselves in your business to gain a full picture. This might include interviewing staff and observing your business in operation. Working with outside experts also brings a level of accountability that can see ideas be executed rather than merely spoken. This minimises waste and, in turn, can increase morale and staff buy-in.

Cost-effective support
In addition to their expertise, working with contractors is a cost-effective approach for many businesses. In-house help in areas such as business coaching, finance or marketing may be cost-prohibitive to many small to medium businesses. At the same time, uneven workflows may make working with outsider talent a more attractive approach.

Cultural shake-up
Outsiders – and hiring outside leadership – can also be useful when a business is in need of a cultural shake-up.  One prime example is the banking sector, with the big four currently under intense scrutiny as a result of the royal commission that is underway. Hiring outside leaders to overcome a culture of mistrust is one effective way to signal a new beginning in the eyes of the public.

So whether you’re after a fresh perspective, in need of a multi-disciplinary expert to bring external expertise and challenge the status quo, or it’s time to reset and refresh your business, outsider talent can add huge value to your organisation that should not be overlooked when it comes to your hiring practices and contract work.

How often does your organisation refer to its strategic plan? Is the document front and centre? Or is it sitting in a filing cabinet gathering dust?

If yours falls into the latter category, it’s time to take your strategic plan and bin it!

Writing strategic plans is like a disease of modern management. But while the art of writing a plan might make us feel better, we need to question its purpose.

Binning your plan may sound extreme, but time and again organisations invest in expensive consultants to complete this work, only to find that the execution phase (points 4-7 below) has been overlooked.

How do I know this? Because I’ve witnessed it firsthand across numerous organisations we’ve worked with, and through interactions with the 1700 people Kiikstart has mentored to successfully change and execute ideas.

Every organisation needs a compelling and actionable strategic plan that can be relied upon day-to-day. A good strategic plan should anchor your organisation and not only support your objectives, but lay out the path, actions and timeframes to achieve it.

Below, I’ve covered the seven must-include elements for your strategic plan.

  1. Clearly defined (and prioritised!) objectives

Be as specific as you can regarding your organisation’s objective/s. Consider the end game for your business if they execute on these. Then prioritise your agreed objectives in the best order to achieve this result. Question throughout the process what matters to your stakeholders – both internal and external – and why. 

  1. A Set Strategy

Your strategy, or strategies, covers the ‘what’. From past experience, many strategic plans stop with only a list of what needs to be done, but without laying out the further steps. Read on!

  1. Supporting tactics

Your supporting tactics cover the ‘how’. As Nell Edgington from Social Velocity asserts, “A good strategic plan includes a tactical plan so that the broad goals are broken down into individual steps to get there.” Ensure you’re really clear about the specific actions you must undertake to achieve your end objective.

  1. Task assignment

Ensure that you assign the right people to each tactic. Consider your team’s skills, experience and expertise to find the person who will add the most value when executing that part of the project. Also ensure you involve your key players in this process. Writing for Forbes, Aileron says one of the most common strategic planning mistakes is not involving “those charged with executing the plan” from the start.

  1. Identify supporters

Be sure to also identify your broader network of supporters. Look beyond your organisation and consider your broader networks, and prospective partner opportunities. A well-conceived strategic plan can be a compelling resource for prospective funders.

  1. Set timeframes

Strategic plans have a limited shelf life, so ensure you set achievable timeframes for each strategy and tactic. You should allow enough time to keep your team focused and on their toes, but not so little time that the quality of your work is compromised.

  1. Track your progress

As part of your plan, be sure to also identify how you’ll assess and track your success against each objective. Consider accountability mechanisms and the programs and people who will do this work and keep your team on track.

My final piece of advice is to avoid overcomplicating your plan. This is your roadmap for success, but it doesn’t need to be a particularly lengthy document.

Keep it concise and stick to these tips, and you’ll be well on your way to strategic supremacy. Happy planning!

A certain amount of ego is needed to build any successful business. It can bring you the confidence and resilience to persist, even when the odds are stacked against you, and to pick yourself up and keep going after failures and setbacks.

But too much ego can have a converse effect. In extreme cases, it can even kill a business.

Writing for entrepreneur.com, Virtugroup chairman Neil Petch says big egos are responsible for poor financial performance, equating to an estimated loss of 6-15% of annual revenue.

At Kiikstart we like to say that if you want to get stuff done, you need to get out of your own way! But the line between a healthy sense of self and an ego that is negative and counter-productive can be a fine one.

Below I’ve outlined a few of the ways that your ego could be damaging your business – and ways to turn it around.

Failing to listen
Too much ego often means we think we have all the answers, and can come to think we’re right regardless of the facts. But as Neil Petch says, “a one-way, top-down communication style will also mean that there are missed opportunities”. It creates a culture where your team may stop sharing and generating ideas.

Turn it around: Be open-minded and receptive to new ideas. Good leaders ask for insights from those who add value – and take this feedback on board to make better decisions and get better outcomes.

Hiding from failure
To quote Eckhart Tolle, “The ego is very vulnerable and insecure, and it sees itself as constantly under threat.” So too much ego can lead to false pride, causing us to avoid – and even refuse to acknowledge -our failures.

Turn it around: Talk about your failures and learnings. Be open to reviewing your personal performance, and own your mistakes, even if that means acknowledging your mistakes in front of your team and clients. Great business takes courage!

Overlooking your team’s successes
Leaders with too much ego spend too much time looking inward, and not enough time giving credit to others where it’s due. This can cause some leaders to take undue credit for others’ ideas and efforts, or fail to recognise the efforts of others in their team.

Turn it around: Getting the best out of your team means openly acknowledging, celebrating and rewarding their success. Be sure to give credit where it’s due.

Making it about ‘me’ not ‘we’
Personal ambition is fine, but this shouldn’t be at the expense of the business. The primary focus should always be on building your company and responding to the needs of your team and your customers. When taken too far, career and workplace expert Patti Johnson says a “drive for personal recognition and success … can distract you from doing important work that’s much bigger than you”.

Turn it around: The best leaders are open to new ideas, happy to seek input, and willing to share their knowledge. Sprinkle useful insights like fairy dust to those that are open to it – and put your team, your customer and your mission as a business ahead of personal interests.

An inability to recognise personal skill gaps
This is a particularly dangerous shortcoming that business leaders with an inflated ego face. An inability to recognise our own skill gaps means we won’t take the advice we need on board, and can also fail to delegate effectively. Consequently, some leaders can underestimate challenges that their business faces.

Turn it around: Remember that no-one has all of the answers, and no-one excels at everything.  I don’t like the term weaknesses, but we do all have skill gaps, so undertake an honest and insightful critique of your skill gaps, and outsource to people who excel in these areas. Be prepared to invest money in responding to these skill gaps where it is relevant to your business and wellbeing. Also be prepared to say no to opportunities that aren’t the right fit.

So keep your ego in check and get out of your own way!

Remember that a leader’s personality and ego is a powerful tool. Cultivate positive working relationships by listening, putting your team first, and acknowledging success. Stay humble, and recognise your own failures and skill gaps. Your business will see the benefits.

Dave Willson knows the Clare Valley. Having lived in the region all his life, five years ago he turned his knowledge of Clare into a business.

Clare Valley Tours was born from his passion for his home’s natural beauty, history and hospitality.

Mr Willson has been working with Kiikstart over the last few months to grow his tour business, and says that director Ali Uren’s “progressive and creative” approach has been very beneficial.

“Ali will drag you by the jock straps when you’re slacking off,” he says with a laugh. “She’ll initiate change in your thought process and your business culture.”

Sharing Clare’s gastronomic, historical and natural wonders comes naturally to Dave, who says it’s a discovery experience for him too.

“I’m sharing the love and creating feel-good experiences for people,” he says. “The more I do it, the more I love it!”

We asked the Clare local to share seven of his favourite spots in the region to explore this winter – and it’s not all fires and romance, although there’s plenty of that to be had!

1. Sevenhill Cellars

Find them at: 111C College Rd, Sevenhill SA

What makes them special: Their story and the history of building St Aloysius Church. The winery was established by two Jesuit priests in 1851 to produce sacramental wine, while the church is home to the only crypt below a parish church in Australia. Many of the early pioneering Jesuits still lay in the crypt.

Winter drawcard: Enjoy a glass of red by the fire, and pat the local winery cat.

Fun fact: Sevenhill Cellars still supplies 95 per cent of Australian altar wine.

2. Spring Gully Conservation Park

Find it at: Sawmill Rd, Sevenhill SA

What makes it special: The picturesque conservation park offers great walking trails and lookout spots that overlook the Adelaide Plains. The view is fantastic! On a good day, you can see the head of St Vincent’s Gulf and beyond.

Winter drawcard: While the park is particularly renowned for its beautiful patchwork quilt of colours in spring, winter has its own charms, including a stunning seasonal waterfall.

Insider tip: Listen for frogs near the creeks, especially after local rains.

3. Burra

What makes it special: Located on the edge of the Outback, the historic mining town is a unique township that was once home to the largest metals mine in Australia.

Winter drawcard: Discover the town’s quaint hospitality, including the local pubs and fantastic antique shops.

Fun fact: The town was once home to Diprotodon – Australia’s largest marsupial and a species of megafauna.

4. Hill River Estate

Find them at: Quarry Rd, Polish Hill River SA

What makes it special: A cellar door with a difference, this is a story of farmers-turned-winemakers who run their farm alongside the winery.

Winter drawcard: Buy a bottle of wine, sit by the fire and sip away on a winter’s day.

5. Skillogalee Winery, Restaurant & Accommodation

Find them at: 23 Trevarrick Rd, Sevenhill SA

What makes it special: Set on 60 hectares, “Skilly” – as Dave calls it – is home to an iconic cottage restaurant nestled into the side of the hill with beautiful vineyard views.

Winter drawcard: This is a long lunch destination. Sit by the fire, sip on a muscat, and enjoy their fantastic hand crafted wines before, during or after lunch.

Insider tip: Skillogalee also offers B&B cottage-style accommodation.

6. Bungaree Station

Find it at: 431 Bungaree Rd, Bungaree SA

What makes it special: Settled in 1841, the site has been home to six generations of the Hawker family. The magnificent 1860s heritage buildings have been transformed into local accommodation. Stay overnight, or visit for a walk through farming history.

Winter drawcard: Unique country accommodation for a cosy winter break.

7. Destination Clare

What makes it special: The region of Clare is packed with natural beauty, history and hospitality, so much so that Dave says it’s impossible not to mention the region as a whole. It’s also quaint and relatively uncommercialised.

Winter drawcard: It’s the perfect time of year for a little indulgence. You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to cosy accommodation, and fine food and wine experiences – well-suited to those relaxed winter hemlines and layers!

Fun fact: Clare Valley makes up just 1.5 per cent of the national crush, but wins more than 20 per cent of national wine awards.

Visit www.clarevalleytours.com or contact Dave on 0418 832 812 to book a tour. Group and bespoke tour options are available.

To find out more about working with Kiikstart to benefit your business, visit www.kiikstart.com.

Last month I joined local and international presenters, including Mainstreet America’s Matt Wagner, at the annual Mainstreet SA State Conference.

Today I want to share some key takeaways from two very thought-provoking days of discussion.

This is a useful read for those in the tourism or local government spaces, or anyone with a business on a mainstreet. Some of these points also apply more broadly to businesses, so read on as I share my key takeaways from this year’s event.

Give them quality and they will come
Despite the international move away from brick and mortar businesses, there are still plenty of opportunities on our mainstreets. However, generic products simply won’t cut it in 2018. Matt Wagner from Mainstreet America says 77 per cent of consumers are loyal to brands that give top quality experiences, while 50 per cent would pay more for experiences they value.

Do: Create niche, short-term offerings that focus on exclusive products or experiences to drive visitation.

Don’t: Compromise on quality. This will have a negative impact in the longer term.

Mix it up
A diverse but cohesive offering is key to success for any mainstreet. According to Matt, there does need to be influencers and hero businesses on any mainstreet to drive innovation. And while you need to mix it up with your offering, if the region is known for a particular theme, such as food and wine, it makes sense to also play to these strengths.

Do: Create a mix of innovative businesses and include hero businesses in the mix.

Don’t: Assume you need ‘big name’ retailers or chain stores. Boutique players can ooze quality and be just as powerful as drawcards, especially where your region has a particular niche.

Develop skills, not just infrastructure
While developing infrastructure is a fantastic way to draw people to mainstreets, their experience of the local businesses will determine whether they return. Service delivery is an opportunity to create a real point of difference from the likes of your local Westfield. Building real capacity from a business to business perspective is one potential key to success.

Do: Constantly work to develop your skills, and collaborate with other local businesses to improve service delivery.

Don’t: Invest in infrastructure alone. The quality of a customer’s experience is key to success or failure.

Business must drive change
There is much that can be done at a local government level to drive innovation on our mainstreets. Decision makers need to develop projects around mainstreets that engage and involve not only businesses, but local communities. At the same time, Matt says the evolution of mainstreets must also be driven by business. Having an organic plan that reviews and responds to markets, as well as measures in place to assess its success, is essential. Engaged consumers spend 60 per cent more with a business.

Do: Have plans and measures in place to engage consumers in a constantly evolving marketplace.

Don’t: Leave it to Local Government alone. Business must drive innovation to remain relevant and competitive.

Focus locally, think globally
At the conference I spoke about the need to think big and overcome a scarcity mindset. But this shouldn’t come at the expense of a local focus. Allow your region’s values to shine through in your product and service delivery. Matt advises you should ensure your offering is real and authentic, and isn’t simply a manufactured focus, as can be the case in larger mall environments.

Do: Focus on authentic, local product and service delivery.

Don’t: Think small. Renowned local products and services can be global contenders.

Thanks to my co-presenter Glen Christie from Port Pirie Council and everyone who came along to listen to us and the other Mainstreet SA presentations across the two days.

I look forward to seeing more of our mainstreets across the state grow, flourish, and continue to be authentic marketplaces showcasing the best of the local communities they serve.

Want support growing your mainstreet or business? Get in touch with me on 0428 593 400 or email enquiries@kiikstart.com to find out more about how we can work together.

Finding a professional development coach that’s the right fit can be a challenge. But a chance meeting with Kiikstart Founder Ali Uren at a function in Adelaide proved fruitful for Christian Van Niekerk.

The financial services professional had recently been promoted from Senior Manager to Director, and wanted tactical support in his new role.

The Grant Thornton Director describes how working with Kiikstart led to professional and personal growth – and a fantastic ongoing relationship with his coach.

When did you start working with Ali?
I met Ali at a Brand SA function and I was talking to her about my career. I’d been recently promoted from Senior Manager to Director, and I was moving into a more client-facing role with a focus on business development. We started working together mid-last year.

Why did you decide to work with Ali?
Ali has a unique approach. She was able to tailor a program that suited my needs and goals. She pushed me outside my comfort zone to explore areas that needed attention. Through our initial meeting and discussions, I felt that Ali took a genuine interest in me and my needs. Her ability to build a deep, trusting connection helped me to make the decision to work with Ali.

How long did you work together?
The program consisted of six sessions that were spread over a few months. They were one hour sessions with activities for me to complete in between. Ali was also available for ad hoc queries and discussions.

What was the focus of your work together?
Ali was able to talk to me and come up with a plan to address some of the areas I wanted to improve from a business development perspective. Part of this work was about articulating what I bring to the table. I knew it in my mind, but Ali was able to flesh that out with me.

How has working with Ali helped you?
It’s increased my confidence to go out to the market and talk about what I do. Normally I’d go out there and say that I’m an accountant, but now I frame it in more exciting terms. It’s also made me change the way I approach my work – and it’s helped to inform a new service delivery model at work. The model that I’ve built with Ali now is part of our national approach. It’s also reignited my passion for what I do. I’m excited about who I am, what I can achieve, and my approach to client services.

What sets her apart from other business coaches?
Ali provided an environment that was safe and encouraging; there was no negativity. She still calls or emails me at least once a month to touch base, so we’ve kept in touch ever since.

How would you describe Ali’s approach?
Being coached by Ali was different to other courses I’ve done in the past. This was tailored specifically to my needs, and the one-on-one delivery allowed me to be more open, which led to a highly rewarding and enjoyable experience.