When someone opens with “What I’m about to tell you has to remain between us.”, they immediately have my attention. Even more so when they follow it with “Seriously, you can’t tell anyone.” My nose was almost touching the screen, that’s how ‘leaned in’ I was. Jonathan proceeded to tell me about a life-changing opportunity that, at the time of the conversation, was still in the balance.
I’d started working with Jonathan in February 2016. Initially, the intention was to write blog posts for him, but that quickly shifted into a mix of writing and coaching. By the middle of last year, the writing was dropped and my work with Jonathan became entirely coaching based. Throughout our time working together, a strong theme kept coming up. There was frustration. Frustration that he wasn’t able to make as big an impact as he could.
Jonathan is a cloud integrator and, his business, Flying Fox IT, helped clients move their business securely to the cloud. Eventually, that narrowed to focus on supporting businesses using the Xero Cloud accounting service. Jonathan faced a reality that all solopreneurs face – how to scale? How could he make a bigger difference in the World? The Flying Fox had clipped wings.
The answer came by way of Dan Fairbairn, a native of Portsmouth that has called Melbourne, Australia home for the last six years. Jonathan and Dan worked together on a couple of client projects and, in a matter of months, they’d established that they shared a similar view of the cloud computing world. What started as a ‘what if’ conversation, evolved quickly. The secret Jonathan asked me to keep was that Dan’s business, Ocius Digital was going to acquire Jonathan’s business. As part of the deal, Jonathan would head up Ocius Digitals UK Operations.
Now Jonathan could see a path to making a bigger difference. He’d be joining a team that had hundreds of Xero projects under their belts. He’d have the support of specialists that would help deliver the projects he secured and managed in the UK. But, essentially, at least in UK terms, Ocius Digital was a start-up.
Jonathan’s excitement was tempered by the reality of being the UK figurehead for a global brand. That’s why he called me. That’s what he wanted to discuss. We had a lengthy telephone call and a follow-up Skype session. As he’s based in Lewes near Brighton and I’m in Perthshire, that’s how we always communicate.
But as we started talking about the communications challenges ahead, I realised that remote working wasn’t going to work for this project. There were too many different aspects that we needed to cover. Now, it was my turn to surprise Jonathan.
“Why don’t I come down to Lewes?”
I flew down on Sunday 11th December. For the next three days and nights, we worked together to create a communications plan and start the process of implementing it. Jonathan and I were joined twice a day for conference calls with Dan in Australia. The small matter of 10,500 miles and a different time zone didn’t matter. The time the three of us spent together was critical to ensure that the activity we focussed on was right. It was also important that we didn’t waste any time.
We started by identifying the different products and services that Jonathan was going to launch Ocius Digital in the UK market. We agreed that it was important to have an initial focus, not just for the communications but for the business as a whole. Once we had that level of clarity, we turned our attention to developing the core Value Proposition.
The value proposition is basically the promise you make to your prospective clients. It’s the foundation of a marketing communications strategy. We worked through the Value Proposition Builder process that I’ve developed over the last year. In fact, I’d previously worked through this with Jonathan for Flying Fox IT, so he knew what to expect.
We then finished the day creating the outline for the initial Ocius Digital UK sales and marketing presentation deck.
The first part of day 2 was all about developing the messaging and telling the story of Dan and Jonathan’s partnership. We created a visual presentation of what is essentially the Ocius Digital ‘Origin Story’. But it was also important that we had a slide deck that was adaptable and flexible. We set about outlining the different segments for a master slide deck. To add a practical element, I did an ad-libbed delivery of the presentation that I recorded so we could share with Dan and get his feedback.
We also got into some real business development specifics. We identified two groups of people. Potential clients and the Xero influencers who would help us reach them. This wasn’t about generalities, this was about identifying real people that Jonathan wanted to have a conversation with.
We’d initially planned to do a much larger piece on ‘persona development’, which, essentially is just a fancy pants way of saying target market. But, we decided that we could make better progress by focussing on real individuals, rather than logical groups. Why? Commercial reality. Jonathan and the UK division of Ocius Digital needs to be generating income as early as possible.
I think it’s fair to say that by day 3, we were both exhausted. The project was living up to its name – as it was certainly intense. We circled back to the Value Proposition Builder and added in one further element based on a conversation Jonathan and I had during dinner the previous evening.
Attention then turned to another key story we needed to tell. Jonathan played a significant role in supporting Fresh Financials, a business which won last year’s coveted Xero Bookkeeper of the year. It was a major achievement for Emma and the team, and it’s a powerful story that needed to be shared.
But one or two stories isn’t enough. Jonathan and Dan know the role that content will play in driving the Ocius Digital brand forward in the UK and Australia. We created a content matrix, which is essentially a content plan for the business. That’s a live document that will constantly be added to. When new content ideas arrive, they’ll be stored in the matrix, planned, written and finally published.
We were able to cover a lot in three days. But what we really achieved was a new level of clarity for launching the business in the UK. And, the value proposition element was added to the main Ocius Digital site before I’d even headed to Gatwick to get my return flight.
It was a privilege to be involved in the launch plans for Ocius Digital in the UK. Those plans became reality when the official announcement was made on the 1st March 2017. Finally, the cat was out of the bag and I could tell people the real reason for my pre-Christmas ‘holiday’ to the beautiful town of Lewes in East Sussex.
I’m proud of what we collectively achieved over the three days. I’m also delighted that I’m continuing to support Dan, Jonathan and the entire Ocius Digital team as they continue to grow the business and make a bigger difference to Xero users and partners across the globe.
There’s a big difference between being good at what you do and being good at communicating that you’re good at what you do. I knew that when I launched Ocius Digital in the UK, that I only had one chance to make a good first impression. I knew that the team in Australia were the best in the world at what they do. But how do I communicate that wealth of experience and expertise to people here in the UK? How do I make sure that the people we can help can find us?
I’ve been working with Kev for over a year now and as soon as the Ocius Digital opportunity came up, I knew that I wanted to continue that relationship. Even before we signed-off on the communications intensive, Kev was helping me get my head around what we needed to do. It all seemed a bit overwhelming. I was so grateful when he offered to come down and spend three days with me. Working remotely is great, but for this project, working together in person made all the difference.
The Communications Intensive gave me the clarity I needed. And that clarity has given me the confidence to launch Ocius Digital in the UK. But this is just the start. We’ve extended our contract with Kev, and we’re super proud to have him as an extended part of the Ocius Digital family.
Jonathan Fox | Ocius Digital Operations Manager (UK)
Jonathan trusts Kev and I trust Jonathan. So when Jonathan suggested we get Kev involved to help us with our communications strategy, I was more than happy to agree. The initial idea was to specifically support the launch activity of the UK division of Ocius Digital. It was soon clear that the work Jonathan and Kev were doing could be rolled out in Australia as well.
The value proposition work was a real eye opener. Using Kev’s Value Proposition Builder process, they were able to generate a number of different ways of expressing just what we do at Ocius Digital. In fact, we took a couple of them and added them to the site as quickly as we could.
Jonathan’s trust in Kev was well founded. He delivered real value in the three days with Jonathan, and although I was at the other side of the World, our regular update calls made all the difference. But this is just the start. I’m delighted that we’ll be continuing to work with Kev over the months and years ahead.
Dan Fairbairn | Ocius Digital Operations Manager (Australia)