Spotting ‘Scalability’ – And How to Avoid The Elephant Trap of A Lifestyle Business

Spotting ‘Scalability’ – And How to Avoid The Elephant Trap of A Lifestyle Business

If you’ve watched the TV programme ‘Dragons’ Den’, you’ll know that scalability is an important factor when it comes to investing in a business.   Scalability is all about having a business that delivers future rewards exponentially as a result of the time and money invested. Without it, a business is going nowhere – and yet, many would-be entrepreneurs don’t stop to think how many years may be wasted in chasing a dream that will always be just that. So, can scalability be achieved against all the odds? Or does there have to be an almost pre-ordained likelihood that it’s there from the start? And if scalability can be achieved when a fledgling business doesn’t appear to ‘have it’, what are the tools an entrepreneur can use? The tired aphorism (and back-handed compliment) that Britain is ‘a nation of shopkeepers’ must stem in part from the realisation that so many people who achieve their dream of being self-employed are, in reality, setting up a ‘lifestyle business’. Some would say that these aren’t ‘real’ businesses. If you can’t employ a dozen or so people in the first couple of years, you’ve probably got a lifestyle business on your hands that will never grow to the heights you dreamed of when you first set out on your glorious venture. Dream On  What are the pointers to look out for when you’re first starting out? Or when you may be tempted to go into partnership with someone? Or even become a business investor, Dragons’ Den-style?! We’ve all heard of ‘economies of scale’. Applying the concept in real life does in fact have some... Read more...
Copywriting – The Champion of Change

Copywriting – The Champion of Change

‘Change’ is the word on everyone’s lips at the moment. You’ll probably hear it whispered in the same breath as Brexit. The good news is: business will always adapt to economic change – and, as the handmaiden of marketing, copywriting will never be far behind. For copywriters, ‘change’ is a way of life. First came the Internet; then Google; then SEO. All of these changes, and more, transformed the world of copywriting in little more than a decade. In this context, Brexit is little more than a blip. Dare it be said: the word ‘opportunity’ has even been heard in some quarters!   ‘Opportunity’ Is The Brexit Keyword The enforced changes we all have to face in the post-Brexit era will bring new and unexpected opportunities for those who are ready to exploit them. In the world of business, that means new and improved marketing. In the world of marketing, it means persuasive copywriting, inviting content and innovative channels that will best bring piggy to market. Bear in mind that this is a new scenario where consumers’ pockets could well be raided by a depleted pound, rising inflation and a receding economy. With a little judicious aforethought, however, copywriting will stand out as the most flexible tool for achieving marketing success. New opportunities exist in new markets. For existing customers, fresh approaches can be devised to out-strip the competition. Anyone who runs or manages a business will be on the lookout for OPPORTUNITY. And although the dust has far from settled on the UK’s rapidly evolving political and economic landscape, those who are prepared to take measured risks will... Read more...
Content Marketing Needs ‘Once Upon A Time…’

Content Marketing Needs ‘Once Upon A Time…’

Remember that little minx, Ms Red Riding Hood? She who hopped into bed with Mr Wolf despite the size of his eyes/ears/teeth – and without so much as a by-your-leave. It was a helluva story – even when you were six. Temptation, horror, betrayal, gluttony… the fairy tales of that guy Grimm spared us nothing. Without stretching a point, even now we’re older – suited and booted, and masters of our respective universes – we all love a good story. Especially if there’s a crock of gold at the end of it. So, despite all the rubbish that’s spouted about Content Marketing, we all love to be in thrall to the prospect of a future-with-benefits. As Samuel Johnson said – and keeping it in the marketing way: ‘Promise, large promise, is the soul of an advertisement.’ The most effective Content Marketing, reputedly, tells a story. It wasn’t for nothing that legendary comedian and Cockney raconteur, Max Bygraves, coined his own catch-phrase, “I wanna tell you a story.” So we don’t need research or split-testing, or even focus groups, to let us in on our very own dirty little secret. In the case of Content Marketing, we should be telling more than one story – so long as it’s ‘on-message’ and follows the corporate hymn-sheet. Consistency shouldn’t preclude originality of course. Persuasive content needs credibility too. That means you’ll need to find a copywriter with enough walk-on-water attributes to meet your needs. Continuing the biblical metaphor – experience begets insight begets originality. You will of course need to support this with useful and/or meaningful information. And as with all the... Read more...
Does Content Marketing Take Too Much Time?

Does Content Marketing Take Too Much Time?

The Internet is drowning in a sea of content – and the main culprit has to be so-called ‘content marketing’… The first-fruits of this come-lately type of marketing are supposed to be enhanced SEO/SERPs results; establishing yourself as an ‘expert’ in your field; and providing visitors to your website with the type of useful information that will encourage them to re-visit the site and/or share the content on social media. No-one could argue that these are laudable aims with tangible benefits. Everyone gains and this kind of activity earns valuable SEO brownie points from the search engines, whilst also validating their raison d’etre. One of the major problems with content marketing, however, is that an ‘average’ company will run out of the content that meets Google’s criteria for original, useful material in a relatively short space of time. Creating quality content – regularly! To produce content on a regular basis, so many companies are forced into dredging up sub-standard material from within their own industry or re-cycling material that’s already in the public domain. The net effect of this is the deluge of ‘me-too’ stuff that no-one really wants to read. It helps of course if you have a copywriter or marketing agency to come up with new and useful content, but you may well be left wondering about how many ways there are to skin a cat. For companies who may not want to invest in professional content creators, and for those who are sceptical about the ROI for these activities, there is always the DIY route. As everyone knows, ‘content’ is all around us – potentially… and... Read more...

Integrated Marketing and The Endless Echoes of Mad Men

In case you hadn’t noticed, ‘integrated marketing’ has come full circle. Back in the day, when Mad Men roamed Madison Avenue and TV advertising was the new kid on the block, everyone wanted a slice of the marketing action. In late-1950s Britain, television sets in everyone’s living room marked the end of post-war austerity and, with it, the beginnings of an affluent consumerist society that continued throughout the 1960s and on into the present day. TV advertising was a powerful tool of mass communication that eclipsed print media, direct marketing and PR almost overnight, particularly among those with bigger budgets. It’s often said that history repeats itself. That would certainly seem to be the case with integrated marketing. To get a handle on the historical perspective of it all, you need to compare the Mad Men era and the arrival of TV advertising with the emergence in our own era of Internet marketing and Google. Both of these phenomena transformed marketing as it was known hitherto – and both ended with an aftermath of integrated marketing that sought to make sense of a new and dominant marketing force. The underlying driver on both occasions was the realisation that we shouldn’t risk throwing the baby out with the bath water.   In The 1960s… TV advertising in the 50s and 60s was a potent and entertaining medium with the power to engage and persuade like nothing that had gone before. Or was it? Apart from being incredibly expensive, TV advertising in 1960s Britain had a limited platform of only one commercial TV station. Even if your company could afford it,... Read more...
Content Marketing: Who's Your Best Bet?

Content Marketing: Who's Your Best Bet?

Given the growing importance of content marketing in the quest to attract sales leads and conversions – not to mention the significance of ‘social sharing’ and the contribution this makes to SEO – it’s not unreasonable to ask which marketing professionals will give you the best bang for your buck. By starting at the beginning and asking what are you expecting content marketing to achieve, you’ll have a clearer idea of who would be your best partner.  To be effective, content marketing must have high quality, original content at its core… content that readers will find useful, practical and valuable enough to ‘share’ on social media sites. This is a complex brief – and certainly not a job for the amateur.  To begin with, there must be a strategy that will target relevant content towards well-defined market segments.  This includes identifying the most suitable media platform and devising an editorial programme that will engage with your target audience. The challenge is to identify which group of marketing professionals can provide the most effective service.  That includes the skilful creation and placement of various types of ‘content’ – blog posts, articles, white papers, e-books, newsletters and so on.  (It may also include non-written content such as infographics, videos, podcasts etc). The wide-ranging demands involved in creating such a diverse range of content place varying expectations on the skill-sets of suppliers.  Take a look at the following options – then decide which is the most appropriate for your particular needs. IN-HOUSE – This is the first (and most obvious) option to consider – but do you have your own home-grown writing/design/production... Read more...