TUBS2018: Digital strategies driving growth in rural economy

I am truly honoured to have been invited for a second year to present the outcomes of the Knowledge Transfer Partnership project at The Ultimate Business Show on the 18th April 2018.

In this article, I will give you a brief overview on the subject-matter of my seminar about how we have been able to transform the culture in a large traditional rural co-operative business in one year, how social media was the catalyst for change, the business implications and results.

What is the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP)

Some of you may be unfamiliar with KTP, so I will provide a brief introduction and background information about the program. For those who are aware of the project, please feel free to skip to the Overview section below.

The Knowledge Transfer Partnership is a programme between myself, ANM Group, the University of Aberdeen Business School and the Innovate UK. The aim of this project is to implement the use of knowledge, technology and skills to support the development of the group, a 144-year-old agricultural co-operative, through the integration of digital innovations in to the heart of their business.

ANM Group is one of Scotland’s most active and influential co-operative societies, ranking among the Top 25 co-ops in the UK. The group is highly diversified with interests in livestock, the land market, catering, hospitality, and commercial and industrial plant, machinery and equipment. You can visit their website to learn more about them here.

The University of Aberdeen Business School is internationally recognized for its excellence in world-leading research and was ranked as top three UK Universities for impact in Business and Management Studies in 2014. The University has been working towards improving their Digital presence and their online MBA prgrammes. To learn more about the university watch their video here.


Now, you are probably wondering what is so special about this project that we have been invited to present it at TUBS2018, I will give you a small clue to what the presentation and the rest of this article will talk about.

In the first year of the KTP project, we have managed to transform the cultural understanding about digital marketing and particularly the importance of Social Media (SM) within the organisation. SM plays a huge role in promoting businesses online and if you are not there you are probably missing out on opportunities. Currently on Facebook there are more than 70 million listed business pages.

Because of the impact of the KTP project and the hard work of many people, ANM Group Facebook influence grew significantly in the past year. To be precise, the project realized.

540% increase in people reached

420% increase in people engaged

330% increase in followers

35% increase in online sales

and more …

The Ultimate Business Show 2018 (TUBS2018)

At TUBS2018, the focus of my presentation would be on wider digital strategies, understanding customers, knowledge transfer and presenting the business results from the project.

If you are interested in learning more about the first steps on Social Media you need to take to achieve success or how to engage your audience, I will recommend you to check out my other article where I discuss them in more details, here or watch the video here.

Digital Strategies

Having strategic-planning processes has been the pillar of execution in many organisations. They serve as stepping stones and guides to where the organization wants to be in the future.

  • Planning

First step of effective strategies is coming up with the business objectives. In other words, what is the business trying to achieve. The business objectives should be clear, simple and specific.

However, following a static plan will not get you too far. Often plans fail when they face the complex nature of reality. Instead, an agile approach is usually more suitable, as companies need to respond to the changes in the environment as they are happening.

At TUBS2018 I will share the ways we have been approaching the changes in our project environment and adjusting our plans.

  • Understanding the Customers

There is no business that can exist without customers and users. Since 2015, focusing on the customer experience has been rated as one of the most exciting business opportunities to increase revenue and retention.

To understand well your customers, you need to put yourself in their shoes. Some of the techniques we used are creating customer profiles & journeys, make the most of your web and social media analytics (i.e. Google Analytics, Facebook Pixel, Twitter, LinkedIn Analytics and so on.), conducting interviews and focus groups.

Do your research and identify what you can do to add value and exceed customer expectations. Once you have identified a few opportunities it is time to start testing.

  • Testing

A common mistake among some businesses is that they start developing a new product/service without testing with customers first, only to find themselves spending too much money and time on something that doesn’t meet user expectations. Make sure you avoid this pitfall as it can cost you a lot.

When testing new concepts, it is important to test them as inexpensively as possible without revealing too much of your unique new idea.

You can even start your testing with a few mock-ups of the new product/service features on a piece of paper. Present them to some of your customers, believe me, the feedback you collect will be invaluable for the next stages of your project.

Keep records of everything you do, this way you can always learn from your experience and avoid doing the same mistake twice.

At TUBS 2018 presentation I will show some examples of the type of tests we conducted to identify future opportunities for ANM Group.

  • Executing

A plan without execution is worth nothing. Although, strategic plans paint a nice roadmap for CEOs’ and organisations to follow, some studies from Harvard Business School have found that two thirds of businesses struggle to implement the strategies.

Execution depends on multiple factors such as available resources, timescale, costs and more. The ways to execute strategies can differ a lot between companies, so it is up to you to find what works the best for you and learn what worked for other companies.

Knowledge Transfer

The Knowledge transfer is the most important outcome from the KTP project. In the past 18 months, we have been able to educate many people through workshops, 1 on 1 conversations and creating training courses.

This piece of work was the most important for shifting the business understanding of the impacts that Social Media can have. Because of this work there were employees in the organization who never used social media before, but after seeing the benefits they started taking videos, uploading content and even learnt how to use email newsletters.

On the 18th of April 2018 from 9:30am, expect to hear more on the previously mentioned topics and more from our successes and failures as part of the KTP project in association with ANM Group and the University of Aberdeen Business School.

Don’t miss it, we are looking forward to seeing you.

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