Shed Simove: "Thinking Outside the Box"
Published: 20 June, 2016
Entrepreneur Shed Simove told delegates at the NMBS All-Industry Conference why creativity is king, and why they should never be afraid to fail.
An undeniable hit at the 2014 NMBS All-Industry Conference, Shed Simove's creative and unusual way of looking at the world made a welcome return to this year's programme, encouraging delegates to think differently about their businesses.
Mr Simove posed three questions for delegates to consider that, he said, would make them think and help improve their business.
Are you using video enough?
Video is undoubtedly the medium of the moment, with YouTube now acting almost like a global 'how do I...?' search engine and research suggesting that video is 60,000 times more effective than texting in getting a message across.
Apple is a prime example of a company that uses video well, Mr Simove said, with glossy production values and aspirational images of their products selling the brand's own values as much as their products. Mr Simove has created 'SellerVision', a new way to use 30-second videos to promote a company or a product online, rather than the more traditional websites such as eBay, Amazon or a company's own online sales portals.
In the run up to the Conference, Mr Simove worked with NMBS to launch NMBSVision, and challenged suppliers and sponsors who were attending the conference to create their own 30-second 'video', which was then sent out for delegates to watch and vote for their favourites.
The results, Mr Simove said, were examples of just how creative people in the merchant industry are, with some humorous and imaginative videos promoting brands and products alike.
"People say to me all the time that they're not creative, but you are, and it's great to see the creativity in the room here," he said. "You make creative decisions every day, even if you don't see them as such."
Here he highlighted the example of the 30-second video created for the conference by Digby Stone. They uploaded their video to their Facebook page and it got over 6,000 hits, generating new sales leads, bringing them new customers and re-energising existing customers alike.
"Videos like these are definitely entertaining, but they can also give you real bottom line results as well," he explained.
Mr Simove also encouraged people not to be put off by a need for video skills or high production values when creating a video. These days, he said, people value the "authentic", "raw" and almost home-made feel of a video rather than wanting high production values - it is the content that's most important.
He asked delegates to start thinking about who the potential video stars are in their businesses, and to think 'outside the box' when it comes to content, as well.
He highlighted BlendTec, an American company that makes blenders, which has a YouTube channel that gets millions of hits by making videos of their products blending unusual things such as iPhones, posing the question 'Will It Blend?'. This, he said, allows them to showcase their products in an engaging and different way, reaching a much wider audience as a result.
Are you talking to your customers enough?
For his second question, Mr Simove asked if the assembled merchants and suppliers could be talking to their most profitable customers more.
The research is well-known that says 80% of a company's profits comes from 20% of their customer base, and Mr Simove urged delegates to really think about their customers' habits, and find a new way to approach them in a personal way, to break through the noise of the thousands of businesses that compete for their attention in any given day.
As an example, Mr Simove said he once made a deal with his local dry cleaner to have his details and his company's message printed on the outside of the plastic bags the clothes were returned to their customers in - engaging with them in an unusual way that would stand out.
Time to fail
Mr Simove's final question was simply "Are you failing enough?"
He keeps a 'failure fund' in his business - a pot of money that he can afford to use on ventures he is, perhaps, less certain of, without fear that losing that money will harm his business. That way, he said, he could afford to try new things and different ideas without risking his core business; something he urged the delegates to consider doing as well.
"Don't be so afraid of failing that you never try anything," he said. "You should never be afraid to take risks and always remember the 'sailure' - the exciting journey on the way to success. Think of an idea, then think of the worst case scenario that could be associated with it and work that through - if it's not a terrible risk, give it a try because you never know where it might lead."