Why you should invest in your workforce

Now more than ever, the business landscape is ever changing. Businesses need to constantly adapt and fight for their market share.

In order to stay at the top of their game, businesses make sure that their staff have the skills needed. They need to be motivated to push forwards and constantly striving to increase their knowledge, develop new skills and embrace change.

In other words, you need to create a culture of engagement within your company – a culture that shows the willingness and ability of employees to contribute to the success of their organisation.

And training is part of this; it’s a way to get all your employees on the same page, focused on performance and playing a key role in the businesses success.

Without investing in your staff – a key resource, organisations won’t be able to keep up with change, strategies could fail and profits could fall.

It is no longer a question of should you train your staff, but can you afford not to?

Here’s what upskilling your staff will do for your company:

Improve the skills of your existing workforce

Highly skilled employees can help your organisation deliver business impact, for example, increasing productivity, reducing costs, improvements in quality. The right training could take them into other positions within the organisation – positions with better prospects, which in turn keeps them motivated.

Increase staff retention

Investing in your employees will let them know you value them enough to invest in them. As a result, they tend to stay longer and contribute more to your business. Recruiting replacement staff is expensive, time consuming and risky, improving loyalty and staff retention will save you money in the long run.

Motivation and morale

It is widely known that employees are a company’s greatest asset. People are key to success, get it wrong and you may be faced with low morale. Employees work more effectively, creatively, and collaboratively when happy at work. A happy workforce is a 12% more productive workforce. Training increases the wellbeing of employees and reduces absenteeism, mistakes and stress in the workplace.

Staff who feel confident and competent to adopt new technologies and methods

Keeping up to date with technology is essential for any business. Ensuring that your employees are confident to use current technology will not only enable them to do their job better but also ensures that your Company is at the forefront when it comes to the marketplace and competition.

Did you know: Businesses that invest just £50 extra a week on training see increases in profits almost twice as fast as those that don’t raise training budgets?

Here is a cool blog post by TeamGantt15 Creative Ways to Invest in Your Team


Turning a PR crisis into an opportunity

Turning a PR crisis into a PR opportunity

It’s just another day in the office, in and out of meetings, responding to emails, answering calls. As you settle at your desk the phone starts to ring and social media mentions start coming in at a quick pace. Local and National Press have seen a video on twitter following an incident at your place of work that was shared just moments ago by a stranger, they have already run an initial story and now they want a quote from your business.

How did it get out so fast? It’s called citizen journalism that is the dark side of social media… a positive and a negative tied into one. Anyone can cover story or an incident, with mobile phones the content can be created quickly with just a touch of a button and with social media it can be shared quickly to hundreds of thousands. Before your communications or marketing department has even heard about it the story has gone viral and the damage has been done.

At this exact moment managing the problem efficiently is key to minimise damage. The way you communicate during a crisis can make the difference between the crisis escalating out of control and it being a minor setback.

Top Tip – Don’t wait for it to blow over… managing this in the right way can turn a crisis on its head John F. Kennedy once said: “When written in Chinese, the word ”crisis” is composed of two characters — one represents danger, and the other represents opportunity”

In a survey released by Freshfields “Containing a Crisis in the Digital Age” some frightening figures noted that 28 present of crises spread internationally within one hour, every scarier is that it takes an average of 21 hours before companies are able to issue meaningful external communications to defend themselves.

So what do you do? As always preparation and planning are your best friends in this situation, it is crucial to have a policy in place and make sure that everyone is aware of this. Remember that people want to be reassured and looked after, your audience isn’t just the media or stakeholders… it’s everyone and all external parties.

Social media and traditional media are tools you need to embrace – both platforms have direct access to the audiences you need to reach. Use them to get your messages across to your customers. With the right preparation, all forms of media can be an integral channel of communication when your company needs it the most.
When preparing in any form remember to think AMEN:

Audience – This is the most important bit… nothing will work if you do not know who they are and how to communicate.
Message – Not many people will remember more than one point, so decide what they need to know and stay on message. Be honest but don’t be led away from the message or give too much away.
Evidence/Example – Back up what it is you are saying, Human interest always works well to illustrate your points.
Negativity – Don’t call it crisis… try to be positive by not repeating negative phrases.

Top Tip – Communicate with the audience in a way that everyone can understand and stay away from industry jargon and simple it down if needed.

Here are four steps to remember when preparing for a PR crisis…

Acknowledgement: A crisis can come in any shape or size… Some may result in loss of life or significant injuries. Others will be less dramatic, such as late transport. Any of these could quickly become something bigger and cause a media storm beyond your knowledge. The most important thing is to admit that there’s a crisis and take responsibility for finding a solution and sorting it out. People may not like honest truth, but they will respect it and trust me this will go down better than “No Comment” or being palmed off.

Connect: In time of a crisis you won’t be dealing with happy people, you will be talking to people who you probably don’t normally communicate with; you need to be open, Proactive and prepared to answer difficult questions. If you don’t take charge of the messaging, and try to avoid questions you will just keep going back on yourself; try to remember that the media are not your enemies. Be Genuine, Transparent and Authentic; in a crisis situation, companies need to be committed to their mission, vision and values. Commit to maintaining an open, two-way dialogue and humanize your messaging by showing some compassion. No matter your position in a company you too are a human being with emotions and empathy, try to use this care acronym:

  • COMPASSION: You need to show the audience that you understand the severity of what has happened and the impact it has had.
  • ACTION: Outline what your organisation has already done and is doing to deal with the crisis.
  • REASSURANCE: Put the incident into context and show it is isolated. If the crisis is an accident, talk about the safety protocols you have in place and your previously good record.
  • EXAMPLES: Use examples to illustrate the key message you want to get across.

Take the reins: When a crisis happens it is of the up most Importance to know who will be leading the communications. Be prepared to step up and say the hardest word of all ‘sorry’! Develop a plan to deal with the crisis and ensure that you are the ones driving the agenda not the media. Companies often assume it will be the chief executive or company chairman who would front a crisis. Sometimes they may not always be the best person to put in front of the media. Remember we mentioned earlier that you need someone who can demonstrate compassion, authority and honesty and be able to connect with the audience.

Future proof: Once you’ve got the crisis under control, use it as an opportunity to look back over the procedures and see any gaps in your communications. There is a very valid reason that almost every buildings and businesses run regular fire drills. You don’t want to be in the middle of a real crisis when you discover your plans don’t actually work.

Running crisis simulations or even getting crisis training is a good idea and allows you to identify crisis before they arise and the skills needed to manage them.

Here is an example of how it should be done:

And just for fun here are some examples of how NOT to deal with these situations:

Happy Birthday Twitter!!

Happy Birthday Twitter!!

Happy Birthday Twitter






Twitter turns 10 today… the Preteen of social media is breaking all of the boundaries and playing with the big boys now.

On the March 21, 2006, Jack Dorsey sent the first public tweet into the world “just setting up my twttr”. Since then this platform gained worldwide popularity with 1.3 billion users, 320 million of which are active.

So what was it that gave this platform such success…

1. It talks – You can have and find a conversation about anything and everything. This chatty platform is full of great content for both consumers and businesses. Other platforms share news, give answers or even job opportunities… Twitter does this all and it’s fresh.

2. 24/7 – If you are anything like me, then your phone is never far away it is always there… in my hand, my bedside table or on my desk. With the likes of all social media channels, engagement with the consumer never stops after all it is called social. When consumers communicate they expect a two-way dialogue and personalised ads relevant to their needs, no matter what the time… we are living in a 24/7 market. Twitter delivers this with fresh content in real time, all the time. Fun Fact for you… There are 7,000 tweets every second.

3. ROI – As with most Marketing Managers I need to measure the financial return form my time and activity on social media. As with most things the value and return from using social media can be hard to quantify. However our friends at Twitter allow us to measure our engagement which is an extremely important KPI for marketers. This metric can be one of the best ways to demonstrate the success of your campaigns in conjunction with your brand’s activity.

4. Advertising – We lead busy lives, always on the move, we don’t have much time for ourselves let alone seeing brands and adverts that mean nothing to us or are not of interest. The modern consumer that I like to call the iGeneration has very narrow interests, which is why it is more important now than ever to know your consumer and build a profile on them. It is scary the sheer amount of information we share with marketers for them to have at their fingertips.

5. Consumer Power – Many say that knowledge is power… with twitter and other social platforms as consumers we now have access to endless amounts of knowledge. Your customers are out there and digital media gives them a chance access to so much more in a much more powerful way. Giles Rhys Jones sums it up impeccably – “People talk to each other, they always have… however they are no longer talking to a group of 4 or 5 in the pub. They are now talking to thousands”.

6. Connections – When have we ever been so close to the people, who inspire us, lead us or even keep us entertained? Many people follow hundreds if not thousands of people on Twitter because it allows us as general individuals to become a part of something bigger be a part of someone else’s day. Just look at Obama’s 2012 victory tweet which was retweeted over 660,000 times and is still going… Social media allowed every single person to feel like we were part of that moment.

7. SEO – After years of a love/hate relationship between Twitter and Google, the two are now friends and influencing the search engine results. It’s worth noting that for those currently thinking “how does that work?” as always great content with key words and it gets a lot of social engagement.

8. Open Platform – Twitter is obviously a public platform, but this just means that you can share more. A simple good morning or even good night allows people to keep up or stay it touch and something like that is quite unique in today’s fast paced society.

9. On Brand – What a better place to promote your brand! Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be. Twitter lets you show your brand everyone one interaction at a time. Using emotion in tweets also allows people to see another side… see what excited you, your peeves and shows that you live and breathe your values.

10. 140 Characters – No long sentences or in depth paragraphs… cut to the chase with only 140 characters at a time. As a result, you are forced to be clear and concise. Twitter really tests an individual’s ability to be a great writer while still getting the message across quickly.

So it’s been a remarkable 10 years of Hashtagging, Tweeting and Following.

What do the next 10 hold? There have been rumours flying around in the last six months such as introducing an algorithmic feed and of course removing the character limit of 140 characters. Twitter has always adapted and grown with the launch periscope, advertising and even down to change the favourites button from a star to a heart. As a platform Twitter has shaped itself around the consumer and I imagine it will continue to do so… but then again you never know who is safe in the social world… have you heard from Bebo or Google+ lately?

Social Meltdown Averted

Sometimes your creativity just stops… you are staring at your screen ready to tweet and nothing comes to you. Hey, don’t worry it happens to the best of us!

This short blog has the answer, and I promise that you will never run out of social content again.

It’s as simple as A,B,C or even Monday to Friday…

Monday – Use humour – Share a comic, phrase, GIF or humorous image… make your audience laugh.

Social MeltdownAVERTED
Tuesday – Interaction – the whole idea about social media is to be social…. so ask a question, best caption contest, quiz or blank space in a sentence… it may take a while to gain the momentum but people will start to engage.

Wednesday – Current News – Share some positive news, this could be about the industry, your business, clients or the local community.

Thursday – Give back – Feature customers, testimonials, create a giveaway or announce new products. It doesn’t have to be a big gesture… just something that gives followers a level of value to their commitment.

Friday – BIG Ideas – Share expert advice from the industry or a share quote from someone…anyone.

Saturday – Education – Tell people about your product, the benefits, what it does and how they can involve this in their daily life. It could be getting out and doing something this weekend that will benefit them.

Sunday – Day in the life – AKA meet the team, feature an employee or give some insight into you… you are a real person and people buy people.

My top tips to go with this are schedule content up to a week in advance and always use something visual wherever you can.

Marketing Books You Should Read…

There are hundreds of books in the market place that are ‘guaranteed’ to make you a great marketer, a successful negotiator and even the IronMan of business… here is a list complied that I think should be on any marketers must read list.

Now I am not saying that if you read these books that you will be the greatest marketer to have graced the planet… but they are books that I have felt added value to my knowledge and growth.

Personal Branding for Brits

by Jennifer Holloway

I’m a big fan of Jennifer have been since I first met her two years ago at an event I hosted, so when this book came out I was so excited to read it, so much so that I read it again and again.

We all know the age-old phrase “People buy people… in this book Jennifer gives clear examples of how as individuals we can begin to understand who we are as individuals and how we translate that into a professional or even personal capacity. This book will make you laugh out loud at times with the witty personal stories… so you have been warned!

Blurb: Are you someone who wants to get ahead in your career or business? Perhaps you’re looking for a new job or want a promotion. Maybe you’re starting a business or want to grow your company. You might be going for interviews, pitching for a job or contract, getting new clients and keeping existing customers.

However you want to get on at work, people buy people…but what they’re really buying is your personal brand. Your brand lets people know who you are and what you bring to the table and most importantly, how you’re different from everyone else out there.

Best quote: “People buy people… and it’s your personal brand that tells them what they get when they buy into you”


Don’t Mess with the Logo: The Straight Talking Bible of Branding

by Andy Milligan and Jon Edge

My dad gave me this book and I found it really engaging whilst being humorous… it really is an overall look at everything you need to know about branding.

Andy Milligan is an expert on all areas of brand creation and has an ability to deliver with a great attitude and punchy content. It gives great advice and pulls you into line… the content sticks around how to create a great brand and identity, without playing with your logo and pantone, which holds no relevance.

It is what it says in the title “The Straight Talking Bible of Branding”

Blurb: Building a brand with impact is one of the most important tasks that any business faces. Few people understand how to actually go about creating an effective brand. This book is a no holds barred guide to what brand building is, what it isn’t and exactly what you have to do to build your brand.

 Be inspired by real-life stories from the people who did and didn’t mess with their logo and succeeded or failed as a result. Read the stories from big-name brands like Orange, M&S, Red Bull, Apple, Innocent, PwC and FCUK

Best quote: “The smart money these days is with brands that see value in delighting their customers with service, before, during, and after the sale.”


The Big Data-Driven Business: How to Use Big Data to Win Customers, Beat Competitors, and Boost Profits 

by Russell Glass and Sean Callahan

A mentor once told me that with the right data you could begin to make the right decisions.

Big data has not only become a buzzword but also a crucial tool to businesses. From understanding the consumer to competitor advantage understanding this data remains key, The Big Data–Driven Business provides straightforward practical guidance into making the data add real value.

Blurb: The marketplace has entered an era where the customer holds all the cards. With unprecedented choice in both the consumer world and the B2B world, it′s imperative that businesses gain a greater understanding of their customers and prospects. Big data is the key to this insight, because it provides a comprehensive view of a company′s customers—who they are, and who they may be tomorrow. 

The Big Data–Driven Business is a complete guide to the future of business as seen through the lens of big data, with expert advice on real–world applications.

Best Quote: “Big data doesn′t necessarily mean big expense. Every company is sitting on a goldmine of valuable customer and prospect data”


Guerilla Marketing

by Jay Levinson

This is by no means a new concept or new content… but Guerilla marketing is coming more common in SME’s as a unique way to to promote their products.. The book really is an easy read, but still packed full of information.

Jay Levinson shares some absolutely great tips and creates a real base for all entrepreneurs or marketers to start putting some campaigns/strategies in place.

Blurb: First published in 1983, Jay Levinson’s Guerrilla Marketing has become a classic in the field of business, revolutionising marketing for small businesses all over the world and creating a new way to understand market share and how to gain it.

In this completely updated and expanded fourth edition of Levinson’s first Guerrilla Marketing book, his take-no-prisoners approach to finding clients is on full display, as he offers hundreds of marketing ideas that really work and a new roadmap for small-business success in the global marketplace. Filled with leading-edge strategies for marketing on the Internet, putting new technologies to work, targeting prospects, cultivating repeat and referral business, and managing in the age of telecommuting and freelance employees, among others, Guerrilla Marketing will be the entrepreneur’s marketing bible for the twenty-first century.

 Best quote: “Guerilla marketing requires you to comprehend every facet of marketing, experiment with many of them, winnow out the losers, double up on the winners, and then use the marketing tactics that prove themselves to you in the battleground of real life.”


Buyology: How Everything We Believe About Why We Buy is Wrong

by Martin Lindstrom

Personally I have always found the link between marketing a psychology a really interesting one… there is certainly a link between how the human brain works and how as marketers we can effectively connect with consumers.

The book certainly demonstrates some thoughtful understandings and really gets you actively thinking.

Blurb: Convinced that there is a gulf between what we believe influences us and what actually does, Martin Lindstrom set up a highly ambitious research project that employed the very latest in brain-scanning technology and called on the services of some 2000 volunteers. Buyology shares the fruits of this research, revealing for the first time what actually goes on inside our heads when we see an advertisement, hear a marketing slogan, taste two rival brands of drink, or watch a programme sponsored by a major company.

 The conclusions are both startling and groundbreaking, showing the extent to which we deceive ourselves when we think we are making considered decisions, and revealing factors as varied as childhood memories and religious belief that come together to influence our decisions and shape our tastes.

Best quote: “If marketers could uncover what is going on in our brains that makes us choose one brand over another–what information passes through our brain’s filter and what information doesn’t–well, that would be key to truly building brands of the future.


Will it Make the Boat Go Faster?: Olympic-winning Strategies for Everyday Success

by Harriet Beveridge and Ben Hunt-Davis

I bet you are questioning how this book got on the list; after all it is not specifically marketing but trust me when I say it is a great book and full of examples that will question how you view daily success.

As marketers and in fact in any role we get caught up in all the menial jobs, doing bits and bobs because we feel we should but sometimes it is good to stop and ask yourself “will this help reach the target” or “will it help us reach our objectives” etc…

Blurb: Ben Hunt-Davis won Olympic Gold at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 as part of the Men’s Rowing Eight. He and Executive Coach Harriet Beveridge have teamed up to show you how to use similar strategies to improve your own life. The pair have been road-testing these methods for 10 years, with clients from all walks of life; managers, leaders, call centre staff, sales reps, athletes and shop assistants; whatever your challenges, whatever your goals, there are ideas that will help everyone. 

Simple and chatty, the book is a warts-and-all authentic account of a journey to success that will show you how you can succeed in whatever you want to do. It is aimed at readers interested in personal development and managers wanting to achieve corporate goals. It will appeal to sports enthusiasts, practitioners and coaches who will find the Olympic story compelling and learn plenty of techniques for improving their own game strategies.

Best quote: “‘Will It Make The Boat Go Faster?’ Living, working and training by this question ensured that every single thing the GB Men’s Rowing Eight were doing would lead to the result they wanted.”


 Huge thanks to other books recommended… Duct Tape Marketing by John Jantsch, Content Strategy for the Web by Kristina Halvorson and Melissa Rach, Losing my Virginity by Sir Richard Branson, To Sell is Human by Daniel H. Pink, How Brands Grow by Byron Sharp and Nudge by Richard Thaler.

If there are any that you feel we have missed please leave a comment and let us know if there are any books we need to add to our reading list.

BIG Impact with BIG Outdoor

As a country we struggle to stay in one place for too long, we are constantly on the move, and spending increasing amounts of time outside of our much loved homes.

Whilst we are moving through our daily lives we are in what we like to call ‘active space’. This is where our senses are heightened, we are alert, mobile and in buying mode with phone at hand and wallet in pocket. In fact, the second we step out of our front door we are 33% more alert than on the other side of the threshold.

As we move through our daily lives we, often subconsciously, take note of the advertising we see… on a bus or telephone box, on large posters in the city centre… in fact ‘Out of Home’ aka OOH is one of the most memorable forms of media. OOH media is everywhere in different formats, a huge 96 sheet poster on the ring road of our local town or 6 sheets by the doors at our local shopping centre. When billboards are used with ingenious creativity they can spark excitement, inspire emotions, stop us in our tracks and create lasting visual impact.

6-sheet posters are everywhere you want to be, on the high streets, at the local supermarket, in the community, pubs and bars nationwide. With more than 46,000 panels, they are the perfect creative canvas for advertisers to target us throughout the UK. Much larger 48- and 96-sheets deliver the high-impact campaigns in the public spaces of our lives. With more than 4,500 panels, as well as Mega billboards, banners and digital screens, these boards are in densely populated areas and streets. It is the perfect medium to reach millions of people on the move usually in two weeks campaign multiples.

Touchpoint data proves that OOH is in the top 3 most accessible media channels for every single hour of the average consumer day. In fact, OOH is the number 1 most accessible media channel for 10 of the 18 hours of our waking day. That means that out-of-home reigns supreme for 55% of the average consumer’s day. Phew!






Over the last year some of the biggest players such as Clear Channel, Primesight and JCDecaux have invested £19m into the industry. In February 2013 big data came to town when a system called Route was released. This GPS inventory software allows brands unique audience insight and understanding of all audiences in terms of demographics, lifestyle and attitudes. Route gives marketers unprecedented understanding of how people go about day to day lives however, it is not only about what the go past but about what they actually see. This system is simply incredible even down to the account of how people are travelling, the vehicles speed and direction of travel… scarily impressive I know!

Outdoor is not only a way to target your consumers at the heart of their community but it also allows businesses to communicate with them as OOH grows and develops. Innovation is happening and OOH is at the front of this with improved infrastructure, investment into the industry and migration into the digital era. It’s allowing business to get creative with cutting-edge technology, and engage personally with consumers. OOH may be one of the world’s oldest advertising mediums, but it is now fully claiming its place in the digital century.

Benefits to making OOH a part of your media mix

• Brand Builders – Out-of-home advertising is ideal for generating awareness and enriching the perception and credibility of a brand.
• Break away from the norm –
• Attention – Through multiple formats sizes, out-of-home advertising demands attention and creates impact. Unlike many other advertising channels it can stand-alone.
• Speak to your audience – Outdoor media gets in to the real life of the audience and speaks to a broad demographic. However, don’t think you cant be targeted also; location, format and frequency of your out-of-home advertising enables you to pinpoint a specific demographic.
• Value of audience – In the right locations, there is a huge frequency of views and for audiences to spot the key messages. The ability to achieve high reach and frequency in an area means it offers a low cost per thousand.
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Tips and Tricks on doing OOH the right way

• Keep the message simple and clear.
• Use large and strong fonts.
• Ensure that you follow the location’s rules and regulations (different cities have different requirements around OOH).
• Be bold in creativity, concept, and design—you need to cut through visual clutter.
• Coordinate your marketing and advertising and carry the OOH campaign messages through other marketing and advertising tactics.

Some fun facts for you to take away…

• Men see 10% more OOH than women
• Single people see 28% more OOH than married people
• We see 30% more OOH on a Monday than any other day of the week
• 21% expect to be able to interact with advertising in the future wherever they see it.
• Bus shelters hit 95% of the population, delivering 5.3 billion impacts every fortnight
• 99% of the adult population will see an Outdoor ad every fortnight
• Transport advertising is the commuter channel par excellence being 45% more likely to reach ABC1 men
• Billboards deliver 4 billion impacts every fortnight, reaching 89% of the country
• Transport advertising delivers 6.4 billion impacts every fortnight.
• 99% of the adult population will see an Outdoor ad every fortnight
• Did you know OOH delivers 10.2 billion impacts every week?

How is the digital landscape changing consumers?

Your customers are no longer just at home, at work or on the high street… oh no they are now everywhere, engaging on every platform and if you want to be part of their world then they expect you to do the same. Digital media platforms are constantly changing and businesses are not only having to understand these changes but be an active part of this ever-evolving market.

Video killed the Radio star

Let’s take radio for example; listeners are no longer just in the home or in the car, they are far more actively engaged now. They are listening across phones, computers, tablets, TV’s, the list goes on and on. Official stats from Rajar Q4 2014 show that digital offerings are growing hugely with 22% of adults say they listen to radio via a mobile phone or tablet at least once a month. That’s up 38% year on year! So not only do they need be accessible on all of these devices, but visually also.


The look, the feel and the way people interact is more important now than it has ever been. Think about how your brand appears to consumers? How they engage with your business on multiple sites. Rather than having many different logos, different colours and out dated visuals, it needs to be clean, clear and versatile brand unification across all platforms for consumers to see and be a part of. You worked hard on the look and feel of your brand… now make it work for you.


What did you say?

Nothing quite beats the power of ‘Word of Mouth’, 77% of consumers are more likely to buy a new product when learning about it from friends or family. It may seem quite obvious but 43% of consumers are more likely to buy a new product when learning about it on social media. (Nielsen)

There are so many individual sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Trip Advisor, BZZ Agent but beyond that websites are now getting reviews for their own products… why? User reviews are proven sales drivers, and something the majority of customers will want to see before deciding to make a purchase, infact reviews produce an average 18% uplift in sales.

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61% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase decision, and they are now essential for e-commerce sites. This also works in the other direction… if they don’t like it… they will share.

Which leads me nicely into my next point…


Where were you when I needed you?

With the likes of Twitter, Facebook and other Social media channels engagement with the consumer never stops. When consumers communicate with companies they expect a two-way dialogue and personalised ads relevant to their needs, no matter what the time… we are living in a 24/7 market. With the rising expectations consumers are constantly demand more and actively voice dissatisfaction when they don’t get what they want.

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A study by Mediacom shows that 65% of consumers who use social media to “talk” to companies, and go there with problems and questions.

Like it or not if you want to be on social media you need to be available at all hours. Make sure your team has a clear protocol in place for a query and that when they speak to an individual they know the answers or that there is someone on call who can answer questions whether it is technical or admin etc, it is a simple yet effective approach to keep customers happy.

Giles Rhys Jones sums it up impeccably – “People talk to each other, they always have… however they are no longer talking to a group of 4 or 5 in the pub. They are now talking to thousands”. So what are your consumers saying? Do you know?


I know what you bought last week

We lead busy lives, always on the move, we don’t have much time for ourselves let alone seeing brands and adverts that mean nothing to us or are not of interest. The modern consumer has very narrow interests, which is why it is more important now than ever to know your consumer and build a profile on them. Get to know your customer, find out what they want and give it to them, and if you don’t know ask them. It is scary the sheer amount of information marketers have at their fingertips to build a profile of your consumer.

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Look at Tesco with the club card; they know what is in their house, the family and what is going to tick their box. Don’t waste the consumer’s time, they don’t have much of it.


We want it and we want it now…

A report done by Nielsen told of the confidence consumers have found in the market place. Consumers have found this from the power given by technology, it has given them even more confidence when it comes to their choice, reducing the power of traditional media in some markets, this creates a much more complex landscape for messages to navigate.

Lets take this put this into context of the customer. One of the biggest concerns for UK consumers is rising utility bills, so how do companies stand out and show their solution for this problem… that is a trick question.


Price comparison sites are still a relatively new concept but they have quickly become an essential part of the buying process for many people looking to renew their insurance, mortgage, holidays, and bills. Over 19 million Britons have logged on to sites like moneysupermarket.com, confused.com and gocompare.com.

This new consumer isn’t some new kind of customer morphed into a mysterious being, they are still just the normal shopper but they consuming content quickly and sharing it even quicker. The consumers are becoming involved in the services and products you put out… so listen to them… give them a good price and an even better service. Consumers are no longer staying with the company that gave them great service they are now looking for the cheapest deal, and looking at that fine print for best value.

Your customers are out there and digital media gives you access to so many more in a much more powerful way. So use the data to your advantage, market socially and respond quickly. The consumer is changing, go with them…. and all those they influence daily.


Buy Yorkshire 2015


I always love any opportunity to network, meet interesting individuals and understand how other businesses are growing from strength to strength… Buy Yorkshire, the biggest business conference in Yorkshire, is most certainly the place to do this.

With incredible speakers such as Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Jonathan Straight and Jacqueline Gold; it was an event that I eagerly awaited… as always it did not disappoint.

Last year I was amazed at the sheer amount of businesses and speakers I wanted to see… where as in 2015 I was prepared. I chose the speakers I wanted to see and decided Tuesday was the day for seminars and Wednesday was networking, understanding businesses in the region and picking up the obligatory pens. I wont’t go too much into this element as I have so much to share…

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First up was Andy Molloy Partner Manager at Facebook. Now who wouldn’t have wanted to attend this seminar…. I mean who doesn’t want to gain more understanding into the world’s largest Social Media platform and Global phenomenon.

  • 1.44 billion people each month
  • Largest social network
  • 2 million advertisers

At Forward and Thinking we do a lot of Facebook advertising and drive awareness and sales via Facebook so I really wanted to gain further insight into doing this even better, gaining insider knowledge latest top tip, the future of this network and of course gain inspiration from like-minded businesses.

It should be obvious to many that this is a network businesses need to be engaged with, it is becoming an increasing problem to connect with the consumer. Facebook offers an instant advertising medium right in the pocket on a 6-inch screen. People check Facebook up to 14 times a day (are you checking it now?) 24million of these are on a phone. Like a personalised newspaper, consumers are creating, sharing and taking in content of what’s happening around them constantly.

The most important aspect that Facebook bring to businesses in the ability to engage with the customer in a real aspect… we are ourselves completely on Facebook as we are with people we know, trust and are in contact with. Facebook sees the real person and holds all of the content for you to use. By maximising your search settings with Interests, location, demographics and
Behaviours; your hard earned pounds can go further… Facebook are committed to making advertising an easy process for businesses to use.

What’s the future…

Messenger for business… Like Messenger this system will allow companies to email customers, track orders, updated processes, leave reviews and so much more.

Instagram (now owned by Facebook) advertising is currently not widely available to all customers… this medium will soon be integrated into the current buying process, so your business can take advantage of the platform.

Top advice from Andy Mollon…

Content is king, always will be… no campaign will work if the content is not right, no matter how much money you put behind it.

Tell your customers what you want them to do… Calls to actions have a 30% higher conversion.

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Next up was Tom Elvidge the Leeds and Newcastle General Manager of the impressively successful app-based taxi service Uber.

This relativity new company is taking not only the UK but also the world by a storm. Since launch in 2010, they have embarked on an adventure across, 56 countries and 303 cities.

By their own admission, Uber is evolving the way the world moves. By seamlessly connecting riders to drivers through their revolutionary Smartphone apps, Uber is changing the way users get around their cities. By connecting more closely with their customers, Uber have kick started the evolution of the industry.

As digital is the way forward this should be no surprise. The app in itself changes how we, the consumer, book taxis, make journeys and engage with drivers.

If you are a little confused let me go back to the beginning, Uber is an app based taxi service. This location based this app gives passengers more power when going about our day-to-day lives. With only one tap Uber promise a smooth ride, reliable pick ups, clear pricing, cashless exchange and a flawless customer experience in which your feedback matters… yes you review the driver and even share your fare on social media.

This app gives you a picture of the driver, tells you their name, car details, licence number and you can even get a real time camera view!

What’s the future?…

Uber are now taking this platform to the business market… allowing increased transparency, seamless travel, simplified billing, easy expenses.

Uber Eats – Currently only running in Barcelona, this is food delivery on demand

Up and running now…

Uber music – through a partnership with Spotify, you as a passenger can set the soundtrack to your journey… Connect, ride and DJ… #uberspotify

Uber pool – Communicate with other passengers making the same journey and share the cost.

In summary, Buy Yorkshire is a must for business people to keep up to speed with what’s happening in Yorkshire, but internationally. The speakers are global players and names and you can learn a lot.

When i fell in love with Clare Valley

Last year as you are aware i was lucky enough to partake in the Mentor Me journey… I knew that we would see some amazing places, eat incredible food and drink exceptional wine, after all we were in South Australia… so I was extremely lucky to visit Clare Valley.

The great team at 1834 Hotels kindly offered Hugh McCullough another Mentor Me winner and myself a weekend famil in Clare Valley staying at Clare Country Club… and we could not turn down a weekend in one of the countries finest wine regions.

We had been to the Barossa valley a few weeks before, so I was eager to see what the Clare was like… and I have to say… It took my breathe away! The scenic drive down to Clare was full of clear plains, beautiful valleys and spectacular pastures, it felt like we were exploring and discovering an unfrequented world, I loved the air.

We had very kindly been given an itinery by Bianca and it looked fantastic. As we were driving up White Hut Road we saw a beautiful lake and some gorgeous Villas lining it, it was here that we both stated how amazing that looked and that we hoped we would get a similar view at the Country Club… GUESS WHAT… That was the country club! A little grin came over my face and I was ready to start my amazing weekend… wine, food and an 18 hole golf course.


We were greeted by the lovely Neil and Greg on reception who sent us straight on the Riesling trail with bikes they had prepared for us… heading out on the bikes we passed incredible landscapes spanning miles and miles, farms, vineyards and natural bushland. We biked on to Greg Cooley Wines and caught the end of the footy final… settled with an incredible Riesling we discussed our first thoughts of the valley.

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Later that night we headed back to our apartment/villa and relaxed outside with a bottle we had just bought… well it had to happen really… looking out over the lake was a perfect setting for the end of the day. We couldn’t ask for more when we began to get peckish the food options were incredible a BBQ Pack to self cook on the balcony and the Conners restaurant with regional inspired food we were certainly spoilt for choice. Hugh put on the BBQ and we enjoyed the delicious food that had been provided by Clare Country Club… a great steak, local patties and incredible Roo sausages.


I mentioned that view of the lake and I will mention it again… because waking up to that was immense… it was what you imagine in a Wine Valley like no other.

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We set out that morning after a hearty breakfast… again with a great view and set off to some local cellar doors to try more of this renowned Riesling, award winning reds and boutique winemakers. With Hugh being the wine buff he is we had some of his suggestions and some from Clare Country Club… we started bright and early at Jim Barry wines where we were met by third generation Sam Barry. The late Jim Barry was a pioneer of the Australian wine industry. He was the first qualified winemaker to work in the Clare Valley of South Australia and with his wife, Nancy, built a successful wine business which has produced trophy-winning wines since its establishment in 1959. Today, the company is headed by Jim’s second son Peter, who took over from his father as MD. The family essence is still strong within the business and you could sense Sam’s passion as he went through each wine.


Our next stop was Mad Bastards… we had tried a bottle of this is Kangaroo Island so I was excited to find out more. I was amazed at what had been achieved with a one man band… and I loved his wicked sense of humour.


A must on Hugh’s list was Tim Adams Wines so we popped in there and had a taster with Hugh taking a bottle home.

Sticking with our Barry family morning we headed out to Watervale – The home of Riesling as Hugh told me and went up a track to the beautiful setting of Clos Clare. As we pulled up to the incredible house, which is straight out of Italy, we were greeted by the ever welcoming Sam Barry once again. It was here that Hugh met a wine icon Peter Barry… I think he will still be smiling now! Enjoying the glorious sunshine with a glass of champagne in front of a beautiful house is totally up my street.


As recommended by Bianca we headed to Stone Bridge Wines… here we met the legendary Craig Thompson… if you are in Clare make a point to stop in for a wood oven pizza and some amazing wine. Craig has some pretty incredible stories to tell!


For our last stop we checked out the most picturesque vineyard in the heart of the valley, family-owned and operated winery Skillogalee. It was here that I found my favourite Riesling and I found a little piece of heaven in the garden. Speaking to Nicola Palmer about the business created by her incredible parents was so engaging and warming… stop by here for some great food also at the vibrant, busy and cosy restaurant, where you can enjoy a relaxing afternoon sampling some of the Clare Valleys best food. All the dishes have wine suggestions matched to them on the menu. So while we are preparing your entree head into the cellar door for a tasting.

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A huge thank you to all of the Cellar Doors that made us so welcome and to the incredible 1834 Hotels; Clare Country Club for an incredible weekend with brilliant accommodation.

To find out more about Food Heroes in Clare check this out


Foolproof Formula for Youtube

Youtube bLOG Digital Marketing is an ever growing medium and as a business you should be embracing it as part of your marketing campaigns. Do it with help from an agency or do it yourself. Either way, hopefully this will help give you some insight into how YouTube can be utilised to build your buzz.

The digital marketing landscape is changing how consumers connect with their friends but also with your business. It gives greater power to build communities and share relevant content… 72% of all Internet users are all social media users.

When we say social media don’t think we are just talking about Facebook and Twitter. Technology is moving fast and new platforms are being developed as I write this blog, the key is understanding which channels your consumer’s using and how it fits with their day-to-day activity. YouTube may not initially seem like a suitable platform for marketing but bear with me…

  • YouTube has more than 1 billion users
  • Every day, people watch hundreds of millions of hours on YouTube and generate billions of views
  • The number of hours people are watching on YouTube each month is up 50% year on year

With new devices and smartphones creating and posting your own video content is easier than before and once you have that on YouTube you are boosting the visibility and credibility of your business no matter how big or small. Here are a few tips to connecting with your target audience.

Fresh content – If you want to commit to Youtube as a platform for your business then you will need commitment, make sure you always have new content to share. To get started why not create a tutorial on a product, meet the team, customer testimonials or even get a guest vlogger on your channel.

Get Creative – In the same way as when you are writing a blog get creative with the title… Write something that will capture their attention and tell them what they will take from watching this video. The flow of creativity doesn’t just end there; don’t forget content, titles and tags.

Brand up your page – Let the viewers know that this is your channel by customising it with your logo, images, slogans and even using your colour scheme. Get creative with your page and make it work for you so your customers can see it’s you and be a part of. Viewers can subscribe and get alerted whenever you upload a new content.

Try other platforms – Don’t let YouTube get all of the glory… When you create a video you want people to view and share it so why not use other platforms to share the content. Put the video on your website, write a blog about it, tweet the link, or post it on Facebook.

Give them an outcome – As with all marketing collateral create a call to action, different products have different needs and different audiences. Create *SMART objectives that can be achieved via this Youtube campaign such as a number to call, social media tags or even website link.

Interact – One very important aspect of Social Media is the social aspect. Marketing will only work when it connects with people…. This is the most important part of any activity and content! Embrace the comments and ratings, communicate with the viewers and always respond to what they say… good or bad… this is first hand feedback so you should take it and learn from it.

Want some inspiration for content? Why not take a look at all the awesome videos Forward and Thinking have created over the past year

*SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time restricted.

And if you need any help…. just ask.