10 most important lessons since leaving ArjoHuntleigh

One year has elapsed since I left ArjoHuntleigh to embark on my plan B. It may not be a surprise for those that know me best to acknowledge that there was already a detailed plan B. So what are the most important lessons we have learned?

1) Focus on delighting the customer

Many healthcare businesses appear to invest more resources in the decision phase of the inbound funnel centred on the product decision phase than on delighting the customer. In our recent four-part Medtech budget season series, we suggested that by working with customers to become your advocates helps curate content to help the awareness and consideration stages.

2) Advising start-ups

Our own community is a hotbed of technology start-ups. I have spent 25 years in blue-chip international healthcare companies. Advising Medtech start-ups is exciting and a value use of the intellectual capital I have amassed.

A grounding in contract agreements has made it useful in reviewing other party’s agreements to determine which sections are standard terms and conditions and which require further legal consultation.

3) Social responsibility is a choice

We chose that Opencity Inc. would have a strong social responsibility component. I have first-hand experience of setting up a charitable organisation. So when I was devising my plan B for my own business, consulting for profit was somehow just not quite enough.

Looking at our strengths, we realised that the best intellectual capital we had to help charities was in producing online content. We have a deep understanding of the inbound methodology and producing blog content was easy, good practice and a fun challenge.

Hence our tagline Strategy and Digital Communications with Conscience and our statement Opencity Inc. thinks giving a spotlight to charities is important and one way we can be socially responsible.

4) You can create blog content in 45 minutes

I like a challenge. So I set myself one. Could I consistently produce high quality, optimized, blog content in 45-minutes? Yes, it turns out, albeit with practice.

We see many organisations that are hesitant about embracing the principle of inbound because it is too time-consuming to produce blog content. We politely disagree.

I was fortunate enough to write a HubSpot Academy Customer Story How to optimize a blog post in 45 minutes

5) Business on a shoestring budget

Cash flow is one of the fundamental consideration for any business and one of the primary reasons many new business ventures fail.

In part, as an experiment and challenge, we set out to see how sophisticated you can get with the application of inbound methodology without spending much. Earlier this year, I published a post called Inbound Marketing on a Shoestring Budget. It proved a popular post.

6) Performance excellence comes from practice

My passions in healthcare, canoeing and charities have converged more than I could have ever anticipated. In essence, the only difference is the content topic and personas as the process to build online brand authority has overlapped very significantly.

This last 4-year Olympic cycle has enabled me to produce more than 100 blog articles on elite international canoe slalom. Our Opencity Inc. charity spotlights have provided a playground to practice in publishing engaging content with clear call-to-actions.

Along the way, we find new tools to harness the process and improve levels of engagement.

  • Yoast — An excellent SEO plug-in for WordPress that integrates with Contact 7 forms. It ensures each blog post and page follows proven best practices.
  • Hemingway Editor — This helps make your writing bold and clear. It’s like a spellchecker, but for style. It makes sure that your reader will focus on your message, not your prose.
  • Grammarly — This writing app finds and corrects hundreds of complex writing errors. Invaluable.
  • Ripl — This is an online app to create customer animation for social media. Brilliantly simple, a free app that allows you create animated image and overlaid text for social media. I tested out for @PlanetCanoe to good effect and will now expand use elsewhere.

7) Continually recycle content

Great content should be continually recycled.

For the healthcare industry, this can mean working with international associations to develop easily digestible edited summaries of guidelines.

Your own content can be made to work harder for you by recreating in different and better formats. This may include one or more of the following:

  • Summarizing a series of blog posts into one;
  • Taking one popular blog post and exploring it in more depth;
  • Recreating a text blog content into a video interview;
  • Experimenting with white papers, eBook or case studies;
  • Relaunching an existing simple white paper or eBook with a higher quality professional output.

We have been running a monthly Love Lose feature, which was an idea suggested by Sonia Simone, speaking on an Uberflip Flip the Switch podcast both of which I also recommend.

8) Legal & finance beyond your comfort zone

These had been reasons of inertia in setting up a consulting business earlier. They seemed daunting. Twelve months later, it has been more than fine. Academically interesting even. I have learned news skills to assimilate within my comfort zone. It is essential to have qualified expert help.

The FreeAgent accounting software package recommended to me by Jon Moss has provided invaluable. It has been relatively easy to master and has made the financial side almost fun. There is still much to learn. The pieces start to make sense once you have filled that first corporate tax return.

9) Continual professional development

There are a wealth of excellent free webinars and podcasts available online. I have been a frequent participant in the Chartered Institute of Marketing Practical Insights webinars #PracticalInsights webinars which cover many marketing technical competencies, Uberflip webinars, HubSpot webinars, Flip the Switch podcasts etc. I advocate that everyone should complete the free HubSpot Academy Inbound Certificate.

I have had more time to read avidly and pursue interesting online academic research. The top books

a. Hacking Marketing by Scott Brinker — Excellent book we have referenced many times, including this post on Hacking Health Trend

b. Being Mortal — Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande — An absolute must read. Excellent is an understatement. Thought provoking. It makes my list of books one must absolutely read.

c. What Matters Most — Patient Outcomes & the Transformations of Healthcare by ICHOM — It presents the why, how and what of building transformation in value-based health care through outcome measurement.

d. Transform your Nonprofit with Inbound Marketing — How to turn strangers into inspired advocates by Brooke Freedman & Taylor Corrado — The world of inbound marketing has much value to non-profits seeking to increase awareness of their charitable cause.

e. 10% Entrepreneur by Patrick J. McGinnis — Sound advice for smart creatives no matter what stage you are in your career.

f. Work Life Symbiosis — The Model for Happiness and Balance by Claire Fox — I very much related to the model presented by Fox in her book. I admire her strength of character in vigorously defending her own balance.

10) The value of reflection

International corporations continually struggle to balance the local sales subsidiary needs with the new initiatives being rolled out from their international parent company. The result is two-fold. Full implementation reaching sustainability is rarely achieved and there is inadequate time for reflection of strategy implementation to dissect why it did or did not meet its intended objective.

While I am impulsive to pursue the next idea I have found a balance to reflect and plan for the future. At the conclusion of a project, there is no better time to improve the base template documents, save clean copies in a new folder marked for future use. This does mean when a similar situation recurs then all the necessary clean templates are ready and easily accessible.

The featured image is a place where I have produced much of the most truly strategic work. It is a place away from distraction, allowing clarity of thought and decision making.

One year on

I have spent 5–10 years synthesing my plan B. Witnessing Opencity Inc. come to fruition is exciting. Engaging with our clients, start-ups and nonprofits have already been an inspiring journey.

My most popular post on LinkedIn Pulse remains the 10 most important things I learned at ArjoHuntleigh published on September 3, 2015. Indeed, many of the content we have published in the last year builds upon those original observations. It also provided the inspiration for this post.

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