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Show me the money!

Alan Ferguson is Web Manager for Central Bedfordshire Council and manages the council’s use of technology (including the GovDelivery Communications Cloud by Granicus) to support its citizen engagement strategy. On 15 June Alan attended Granicus’ Digital Engagement Day in Birmingham, along with 60+ other public sector folks who were keen to explore how strategic communications and alignment with traded services can generate income for government organisations. You can check out the slides from the presentations on the day here.

Here’s Alan’s take on what went down…

It was really refreshing today to be at a conference with a single point of focus – money. Generating money. A bit about saving money but more the former. This was the focus of the UK Public Sector Digital Engagement Day: Birmingham (hosted by Granicus) on Thursday, 15 June.

We seem (at times) to shy away from generating money in the public sector, sometimes due to red tape getting in the way.

There were definitely a wide variety of methods and approaches being discussed today, but rather than dissect each speaker, here are my top takeaways.

Employ sales people to sell

Harringey employs a sales person to sell, paid a salary plus commission. Winner winner – chicken dinner!

This is my number one as I am NOT a sales person. I know and have worked with a number of highly skilled, trained sales people. They’d wipe the floor with me – fair enough.

Ask me to rip apart a 3,000-page council website and painstakingly put in back together and I’m your man. I can’t do their job, they can’t do mine – let that twain never meet. It’s better for us all.

Don’t sell your soul to the Devil

There is no point selling space on an asset if its poor for your brand and takes up vital space which could be used for your own messages.

Be sure you know what you can sell 

You will (likely) need Member approval before you start selling space anywhere. Check beforehand.

Check the legal side 

Speak to your legal team before selling services and products as there are some limitations as to how you can do this.

Do simple stuff to prevent incurring costs

Pre-empt spikes in customer traffic for really obvious peak periods e.g. the Council Tax* email a week before the bills come out to inform and ask customers not to call. Simple. Effective.

*See how Gedling Borough Council reduced customer contact by 14% during the council tax billing period with a timely email campaign. 

Speak to your Data Protection Officer

Don’t go gung-ho on emailing Tom, Dick and Harry if only Tom has given you permission.

South Staffordshire do good stuff

So much to take in from their model that I will need to sleep on that one, read all the slides again and then decide what segments we can use / copy – just wanted to acknowledge that and say wow.

….Essex do too 

Some great work being done in Essex, again which I need to pause and look at again. But hats off for their model.

Cross sell internally

I think this came from the Essex example and struck home with me that we must cross-sell more. If someone applies for a school place, guess what…they have a kid and guess what…they might just be interested in events in your countryside parks.

Take a chance

Just try stuff. So much in my head after one day so I’ll be at an absolute minimum looking at some more targeted email marketing to prevent call centre spikes e.g. Council Tax, School Admissions.

Ta very much

Excellent event run by Granicus, and MC’d by Darren and Dan from Comms2Point0. Hats off as ever and thanks for putting on a great event.