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.