Engaging our clients – 5 Top Tips for PR

May 10, 2016


As you probably know by now, we’re could be accused of ‘banging on’ a bit about engagement, but there’s good news!  Engagement is not just for our teams.  We also need to think about engaging our clients.  In fact, we probably put more effort into exactly this because without engagement, we can struggle to attain clients who buy for quality of service, and we certainly won’t retain them.

In our minds, engaging clients starts with a clear understanding of who we are, the value we offer – and then, how do we best convey that to our prospects?

So we asked our clients at Darren Northeast PR to share their Top 5 Tips for PR with our lovely newsletter subscribers.  Here’s what they said:

  1. Develop a clearly defined goal

All PR campaigns should start with clearly defined goals. Do you want to strengthen brand awareness or launch a new product or service? The answers will dictate the appropriate media coverage, the target audience, and the message that you are trying to convey.

  1. Harness the power of Social Media

Social Media is an excellent form of communication, allowing businesses to engage, listen, share and exchange information with a huge audience. Free to use, it’s important to remember to give it as much time as you can with regular updates, content, and shares!

  1. Network – and follow up

From local meetings and groups to specific industry events there are always opportunities to grow your list of business contacts. To build successful relationships good networkers should be friendly and attentive, avoid hard selling, and always arrange follow chats over coffee.

  1. Develop a story that is interesting

To share your business with the public you will need to develop a story that is interesting and compelling. Be informative, entertaining and stay clear of blatant advertisements. Research which publications your target audience reads, or pitch your story to relevant industry publications.

  1. Update your Website

Regular articles and blogs on your website are a great way to attract people to your site. It will increase your SEO so that your website features higher-up in search results, attracting more people to your website and establish a long-term presence online.


As one of the South leading and award-winning PR agencies, Darren Northeast PR have vast experience helping businesses to gain a competitive edge. They know businesses who choose to follow their top tips have the best chances on the road to success.

T:    01202 676762

W:  www.darrennortheast.co.uk

As we grow, what won’t we change?

May 10, 2016

by Susannah Brade-Waring, MD & Business Growth Coach & Facilitator at Aspirin Business Solutions

What We Won't Do


For our clients with a strong heritage, we’ve found defining ‘ What won’t change ‘ very powerful in helping people to create change and growth.  For example, our lovely clients at Douch Family Funeral wanted to create greater consistency across their 8 branches, without losing the heritage and individuality of each branch.  Other clients have been reassured by clearly agreeing that ‘what won’t change’ is a core focus on a certain client group, or the level of service to be provided.

We’ve noticed this is particularly powerful with the Searcher (need to make a difference) and Defender (security) motivators.

Clearly stating ‘what won’t change’ is not a Canute-like attempt to hold back the tide, but a way of allowing people to fully support the organisation’s growth mission.  The alternative, which most leaders have experienced, is inexplicable resistance, not giving our all and questioning decisions.  After all, the individuals themselves often aren’t consciously aware of their own concerns and resistant behaviour.

We often share with clients the excellent example provided by the RNLI.  In the “Purpose, Vision & Values” section on their website, there’s a section called “Things We Will Not Change”. It’s a really interesting and perhaps surprising read, and begs the question:

“What are the things in our organisations we would not change?”


Here, at Aspirin Business Solutions, we help Senior Leadership Teams develop strategic plans and 12 month missions.  We also help them define ‘What won’t change’.  We’ve found externally facilitated group creation of the strategy to be very powerful in strengthening team bonds of trust and understanding, and in enabling the team to pull together powerfully.  It’s another way of creating alignment, at the highest level.

In the words of Steve Jobs “Deciding what not to do, is as important as deciding what to do.”

To explore how we could help your organisation create a Strategy and a 12 Month Mission & Mantra that your leaders and team want to deliver, get in touch to arrange a conversation.

E: sue@aspirinbusiness.com

T: 01202 801187

or sign up to our newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bSJCaz


Creating Strong Bonds through Employee Engagement

April 12, 2016

Employee Engagement

If you’ve been in business in the past 15 years then the phrase ‘employee engagement’ has been as ubiquitous as the phrase ‘X- Factor’. Over the years there have been strategies, consultations, symposiums, innovations and exhortations as to the importance and implementation of ‘employee engagement’.

However, over the years, the top drivers of employee engagement have remained constant, and common across most of the globe. This has been recently reinforced through an excellent survey from Quantum Workplace in the US.

Even though it’s been around for what seems like forever, the concept of employee engagement remains critical to business success.  So just how seriously do you & your organisation take it? Maybe the following statistics & findings from Quantum’s survey will provide either a confirmation of your people strategy or a stimulus to do more…

The Top 6 Drivers of Employee Engagement

The staff of the organisation trust & believe …

  1.  that the leaders of the organisation are committed to making it a great place to work.
  2. the leaders of the organisation to set the right course.
  3. the organisation will be successful in the future.
  4. that the leaders of the organisation value people as their most important resource.
  5. that there is professional growth and career development opportunities for themselves in the organisation.
  6. the senior leadership team to lead the company to future success.

The challenge for us as leaders is how we deliver on those six key drivers consistently, authentically and in a meaningful way for our people. The following graphs clearly indicate the benefits of doing so, in terms of improvements in retention, sales & profitability.

If you wish to receive a full electronic copy of the survey then contact supportcrew@aspirinbusiness.com

Employee Engagement graphic 1

Employee Engagement graphic 2 - change in profit

Employee Engagement graphic 3 - change in sales

Dorset micro business punches above its weight……

April 12, 2016


Susannah Brade-Waring, MD and Business Growth Coach & Facilitator at Waitrose Head Offices, Bracknell

Susannah Brade-Waring, MD and Business Growth Coach & Facilitator at Waitrose Head Offices, Bracknell

2016 marks the 6th successive year of Dorset based Aspirin Business Solutions working with the John Lewis Partnership on a variety of strategic and team development projects.

Aspirin is leading the way as a micro-business working in partnership with a nationally recognised, respected & successful business. As a shining example of a Dorset business ‘consistently punching above its weight’, Aspirin’s working relationship with the John Lewis Partnership proves that true & successful business partnerships are about what each partner brings to the table regardless of organisational size.

During 2016, Aspirin will continue supporting the Waitrose Maintenance Department as it  operates ‘behind the scenes’ nationwide to ensure all Waitrose branches, distribution units and offices are operational, safe and compliant and create a better everyday experience for the Customers and Partners.

“The Maintenance Department’s unwavering dedication to customer service and safety, whilst creating worthwhile and satisfying employment, provides a challenging context for developing a strategy that’s also cost-effective to deliver. It requires true teamwork and stakeholder engagement, and an unswerving belief that it can all be achieved. It’s been a real joy & privilege to work with this household name and challenge, support, inform AND learn from them over the years” said, Susannah Brade-Waring, MD of Aspirin Business Solutions.

Key areas that Aspirin have worked on with the team have been on strategy, goals & objectives, employee engagement, team development, presentation skills & motivation.

Mick Mcleavey, Manager of Maintenance for Waitrose, said “Our team here at Waitrose really value the external perspective, skill and support that Aspirin Business provide.  Their ability to understand exactly where we are and how we need to develop, both as a team and as individuals, is making a significant contribution to the step changes we’re making as a department in this fast changing retail environment. Our leadership and management teams are stronger and more self-aware as a result of Aspirin Business’ work.  That’s enabling us to be more strategic and agile, whilst ensuring we continue to provide a high level of service to our customers. By providing high quality material that is bespoke to our needs, Aspirin Business really stand out and a pleasure to work with on all professional levels!”


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F.A.S.T.E.R Teams – Be ‘Real’

December 11, 2015

Paul Kinvig, Coach and Facilitator at Aspirin Business Solutions

FASTER Real image

In the Ridley Scott’s classic sci-fi film “Bladerunner” we are introduced to the idea of replicants – almost perfect recreations of human beings. Interestingly, you can only tell the real from the replicant by asking certain questions…it’s only under “challenging” conditions that they give themselves away. The same is true in the rise of “replica” items…..everything from Rolex watches, Gucci bags to iPhone chargers…..they look like the real thing and yet either don’t last or breakdown under usage, sometimes with dangerous consequences.

“Real” teams, however, have the strength of authenticity about them. They don’t pretend to be who or what they need to be, they ARE who and what they need to be for the situation at hand. They do this because they aware of their own and each others’ REAL motivators, REAL skills & REAL strengths & weaknesses and are comfortable with how that plays out in the workplace.

So what are the key hallmarks of real teams?

Honesty – One of the challenges of leading a real team is that the level of honesty can sometimes be intimidating. Members aren’t just honest about situations/ mistakes/ customer complaints but are honest with each other and their manager about performance. It’s not done in a vindictive or point scoring way but in a way that is bold, constructive, relevant and respectful to the person and situation.

Play – Real teams understand the value of “work & play” – at it’s most obvious level it is the appearance  of humour and the relaxed but focused way the team interacts with each other. However, the other part of “play”, as Pat Kane eruditely expresses, is this – “The play ethic is about having the confidence to be spontaneous, creative and empathetic across every area of your life – in relationships, in the community, in your cultural life, as well as paid employment.” It’s not idle, wasteful or frivolous but allows the individual personalities of the team to shine and be appreciated – and out of that can come some real ideas for improvement.

Trust – Real teams build trust by members being authentic and really understanding who they are! The phrase “walk it like they talk it” is truly indicative of their behaviour and thus there isn’t any gap between what they say & how they behave.  Teams with high trust levels often have a high degree of emotional intelligence which means that:

  1. They can “spot” when things aren’t right with other team members or situations much more quickly than most other groups.
  1. They can “sense” when a change in approach to people or customers is needed much more quickly than most other groups

It also means that can decide, act and adjust much more quickly because they function like a single organism.

When teams become “real” it’s like the final turn of lens on a camera that brings the sharp clarity needed to take a great picture….which of course brings us back full circle to our F in F.A.S.T.E.R, that of focus. And here’s the key…..great leaders & managers know having F.A.S.T.E.R teams is a continuous circle of development – Focus, Agile, Strong, Tenacious, Empowered & Real – and it’s the REAL nature of teams that separates them from the “replicants”….especially under pressure or challenging circumstances

Here at Aspirin Business Solutions we help our clients create & develop “real” teams by helping them understand their real motivators, personality, behaviours and mindset, e.g. through Motivational Map profiles. We then coach them to be authentic to who they are and each other and not to see their motivators or personality traits as right or wrong but as strengths which can be combined & focused to achieve the business strategy. Worth us having a conversation?


Friday September 18, 9-12:30 pm: Presenting with Confidence – Introductory Workshop

July 9, 2015

Secure your place for just £150 inc VAT, using using the ‘Make Payment’ tab on our website.


“If you can speak, you can influence. If you can influence you can change lives.”  

Rob Brown

Paul has 11 years of experience in hosting the national awards ceremony for the Newspaper Society of Great Britain.  He’s the host of 3 regional business awards ceremonies, the host of the Dorset Tourism Awards and Dorset Wedding Supplier Awards

Paul has 11 years of experience in hosting the national awards ceremony for the Newspaper Society of Great Britain. He’s the host of 3 regional business awards ceremonies, the host of the Dorset Tourism Awards and Dorset Wedding Supplier Awards

Being able to present with confidence is a required skill for most managers and business leaders.


However, there is a huge difference between being able to speak … and being able to put together effective presentations quickly and deliver them with a high degree of confidence, credibility, trust and flexibility.


Join us for this convenient half-day workshop, where Paul will be sharing his simple and effective techniques to give you a strong grounding in Presenting with Confidence.


Designed for maximum results AND your convenience:

  • We’ve all heard the phrase ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way’ – so we’ll start by identifying the reasons why Presentations Skills are an essential component of every effective manager and leader’s toolkit.
  • We’ll then identify the everyday opportunities we have to communicate, influence and build trust, including meetings, networking and the dreaded elevator speech.
  • You’ll leave with 5 ways to start presenting with confidence that you can put into action straightaway.
  • Secure your place quickly and easily using our website.

AND we’ve packed this all into a convenient half-day, so you can be back at work after lunch!


Venue:    St. Leonards Hotel, 185 Ringwood Rd, St. Leonards,

Ringwood, BH24 2NP

Investment:  £150 (including VAT) or 10% discount for members of Dorset Chamber, Business Scene and Lewis Manning’s 100,000 Club, making this investment in yourself just £135 (including VAT).

Secure your place using the ‘Make Payment’ tab on the right hand side of our website.


Are you running too fast for your team?

January 12, 2015

Leaders are the core around which everything else aligns.  They are like a powerful magnet, with the power to both attract and repel.

Having researched our Leadership Coaching work, we’ve identified five key objectives, that our clients ask for our help with.

One of these, we affectionately call “Whoa! Slow Down Horsey”.

Whoa!  Slow Down Horsey

Typical client:  Business leaders with bags of enthusiasm and energy, who are clear about what needs to be done and want it doing today.  They get the bit between their teeth and race ahead.  ID-10041481 horse

Often they don’t realise their team are genuinely struggling to implement actions effectively before they can take on more.  So their team rush the implementation.  These leaders are focussed and decisive, so it’s easy for staff to go them for answers.  However, that can undermine their Senior Team’s authority and respect.

As a result, engagement and trust are reduced, holes in the business go unnoticed, and business performance is frustratingly inconsistent.

Once these leaders realise they need help to slow down, they grab hold of ideas and put them straight to work.  Given enough practice, they develop a mindset of leading and supporting their team, allowing them to keep up and even get ahead with their own ideas.  The leader can then put their energy and focus where it’s really needed.

We help these leaders to be clearer about their wider goals, and to create structure around their ideas which help them prioritise, delegate and create greater accountability.  We help them to understand others’ needs, appreciate their strengths and identify the best ways to get everyone on board.  This is essential if they are to get and keep the traction required to make consistent progress towards their goal, as a team.

Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How to ensure you’re focussed and productive

January 7, 2015

In our FREE Guide to Effective Meetings, we give the following Caution:

It doesn’t matter how good a meeting is, if it’s not focussed on delivering the business strategy..

So how do we ensure ALL of our activities (including meetings) are focussed on delivering the business strategy AND are prioritised in the right order?

The FIRST priority is to ensure your team understand the business strategy – at the level that’s appropriate for them.  They DON’T need to know all the financials, but they do need to know how you create differentiation to attract and retain customers.  AND how they contribute to that in their everyday actions.

To deal with the day to day matters, here at Aspirin Business Solutions we have created our own internal process (it’s part of the Aspirin Business Operating System or ABOS).

We know that our business thrives by meeting (and exceeding) our clients expectations.  We get clients from prospects.  We create prospects through business development activities.  So we work BACKWARDS through this list.

Our priorities in order are:

Respond to customer calls/ emails, confirm meetings then:

  1. Plan and deliver work to customers
  2. Follow up on quotations
  3. Progress prospects by moving them around our Building Trust Wheel 
  4. Identify new prospects
  5. Support and develop our team

Relationship Building with our Advocates


Admin, finance and IT to maintain smooth running

Business Improvement Projects

Review progress against your Business Objectives, create business improvement projects and update the strategy annually

… simples

This model works very well for small businesses, where everyone is in touch with customers.

For larger businesses, consider your bosses (and their colleagues) to be your customers.  Your quotes and prospects will be about nurturing the kind of projects / work you want to get in to, by building trust with the people who can make that happen.  If you have too much current work to even consider new projects, that you’re in danger of becoming over-dependent and stagnant – so think about delegating some of your work to your team.

NB:  Don’t limit your delegation to your physical team – think about the wider team.  Delegation = more opportunities for you AND your team.


Aspirin Business Seminars to Transform your Business Headaches

November 27, 2014

On Tuesday 11 November, we launched the first in our series of Aspirin Business Seminars, and what a great event it was!

The seminars have been created to promote innovation, insight and support.  Each seminar is being hosted by our customers to provide a unique ‘behind the scenes’ view.



The first Aspirin Business Seminar was hosted by IEC Limited.  IEC Product Display

This family owned business was established in 1938 and has two successful divisions, IEC and Alpro Architectural Hardware.

The history of IEC is fascinating – including being bombed in the Second World War, and having to transport their entire stock of micro-bearings in a shoebox!  Today IEC’s customers include Bugatti and Air Bus, and Alpro’s customers include Liverpool Football Club and The London Underground.

The seminar included a tour of their warehouse as well as an insight into the company’s strategy, growth challenges and long-term relationships with customers, suppliers and staff.

IEC Senior Team with SBWAspirin Business Solutions has been working with IEC to develop and implement their strategy as well as to strengthen their capability to grow sustainably.

Developing a strategy that creates a win:win for the business and their team (many of whom have been there over 20 years) is essential to this.  To really understand what a ‘win’ looks like for their team, with our help, IEC mapped the motivators of the whole team and are developing a motivating culture.


Peter Keen, Sales Director of IEC Limited, says, ‘Working with Aspirin Business Solutions has enabled us to build a robust strategy to carry IEC forward and we are a stronger coherent management team.  Running the first Aspirin Business Seminar was a small measure of thanks for what Susannah has done for us. The evening was very useful and we are looking forward to future events.”

Susannah Brade-Waring, MD of Aspirin Business Solutions says,Warehouse tour  “I am passionate about  making being successful in business less painful.  As Finance Director of Monsal Limited (a Nottinghamshire based technology company recently acquired by GE), I implemented lots of ideas I had seen in operation at businesses like Rolls Royce and DHL.  Learning from other organisations, especially those in other sectors, is a clear differentiator of the most successful businesses and business leaders.”

The next Aspirin Business Seminar will take place on 29 January 2015 and will be hosted by access control specialists, TDSi Limited in Poole. A Spring seminar will be held at the John Lewis at Home branch, in Poole.





Seminars – for ideas, insights and support

November 4, 2014

Aspirin Business Solutions has created a programme of Business Seminars exclusively for our customers and guests.  Each event will be hosted by a customer and will offer an insight into their business strategy, current challenges and with some best practice.

The first of these early evening seminars, which will be hosted by IEC Limited on Tuesday 11 November 2014.

Founded in 1938 to supply quality mechanical components, IEC now hIEC Limitedas two separate divisions each serving a different target market – IEC and Alpro Architectural Hardware.  The Senior Team of both IEC and Alpro will talk through IEC’s history, its current strategy and share some of the best practices that make their business successful.  The visit will include a tour of IEC’s warehouse facility.

The January 2015 seminar is already scheduled to be hosted by TDSi in Poole, and a Spring seminar will be co-hosted by Aspirin Business Solutions and the John Lewis Partnership, at the John Lewis at Home Poole branch.