Make your marketing personal

I visited the North West Business Show recently at Manchester Central (still known to most as G-Mex) and received a follow-up email today from one of the stands I visited. I won’t say which company it was, but I’d had some previous correspondence with them – they’d expressed interest in the work I did and were considering possible collaboration. They’d even asked me to send a copy of my 7 Pillars of Success book to their HQ.

When I saw their stand I approached their representatives, explained what stage we were at with our negotiations and even handed them a copy of the book to give to the woman who’d originally requested it.

When I got the follow-up today I was keen to see where we were with things. But what a disappointment! It was a generic e-mail (presumably a stock mailer to ALL those who’d called at the stand) asking me what products/services I was most interested in purchasing.

Marketing guru Seth Godin has a wonderful explanation for my disappointment – “these days people aren’t interested in e-mail; they’re interested in ME-mail”. He’s so right. I thought we’d made a connection through my previous dealings with this company, and was keen to build on this at the exhibition stand. But sending out a mass mailer which takes no account of the status of the enquirer is lazy marketing – and it’s all too common.

Take Seth’s message to heart and make your marketing as personal as possible. Make the target feel valued by showing you know them and understand their situation. And if you’re going to correspond electronically, make sure it’s of the ME-variety – not E (Everyone else)-mail.

A customer is for life – not just now

Have you ever stopped for a moment to consider how much your customers are worth to you? The tendency is to look at the ‘here-and-now’ value of a client, and that means what they spend today. But what of the future? What about the life-time value of that customer?

It reminded me of a time when I sold memberships at high-end golf & leisure clubs. An annual membership fee is a high margin product, and we worked hard to attract new clients AND keep the existing ones happy. Of course it’s a hell of a lot more expensive to recruit a new one than retain an existing one (some say six times as much), and it’s really tempting to spend most of your time seeking new business – the exciting resource that’s out there but not yet ‘mined’.

But it’s useful when balancing time and resources to consider the lifetime value of these existing clients. Let’s say a member spends £700 a year on subs. That’s easy to measure, but what about bar & restaurant expenditure, competition entry fees, beauty treatments and classes? Perhaps another £500. What about the positive word of mouth that member spreads throughout the community, and the referrals and new recruits that result? Maybe two new referred members @ £1200 pa spend. And what if that original member stays for 10 years? Not to mention the referred ones too!

That’s an awful lot of value (£12,000 + referred business).

When budgets are tight and you’re allocating resources to client acquisition, remember the potential cost of cheesing off the clients you’ve got now. That’s why John Timpson of the shoe repair chain empowers his shop managers to spend up to £500 to resolve a customer complaint. Better, in his view, to nip it in the bud rather than let it fester. Of course it usually costs a fraction of that figure to send the customer away happy – and the positive word-of-mouth pays further dividends.

It’s worth wowing your clients. It’s not just what they spend today. It’s their future custom and the good things they say about you that create long term value – and profits.

Pecha Kucha Manchester 1st Dec – speaker list announced

pkn-logo-for-blogPhil Harris and I are delighted to announce our list of speakers and topics for the opening night of Pecha Kucha in Manchester on Tuesday 1st December – shown here in no particular order.

Remember, Pecha Kucha involves the 20/20 principle of presenting – 20 images, each set to rotate every 20 seconds. That keeps things punchy at 6 mins and 40 secs per speaker!

  • Eilidh Milnes (“Success is built on your daily routines”)
  • Karl Southern (“Tale of the 5 monkeys”)
  • David Taylor (“My favourite authors “)
  • Sarah Harkness (“A day in the life”)
  • Ivor Tymchak (“SatNav for the soul”)
  • Bob Moss (“You have got to hand it to them”) contact details TBC
  • Nikolay Piryankov (“Marketing on a shoestring”) contact details TBC
  • Andy Clark (“My mo”)
  • Adam Wright (“10 Killer strategies – for business failure!”) contact details TBC
  • David Slack (“24:7 – Theatre heaven”)
  • Rebecca Garland (TBA – Manchester based artist)
  • Celebration (“Vocal chords”) and see also this link

Phil and I are thrilled to have such a diverse range of presentations to offer at our first PK event, and we’re tremendously grateful for the contribution our speakers are making. I’ve not provided too much information on what they’re talking about – let’s save that for the big night – but if you’d like to find out more about our presenters, follow their web links.

So far, we’ve had 170 bookings to attend the event – an extraordinary response to this most unusual of concepts – and it shows no sign of stopping. It seems a lot of you have had enough of poor Powerpoint presentations – believe me, it’s a fantastic communication tool but is much maligned because of bad practitioners. I hope we’ll provide some inspiration for you on 1st December.


We still have some places available – we have a capacity of 295 in the Contact, but we can’t guarantee a space unless you pre-book. Drop me an e-mail or post a message here.

Remember, this is a not-for-profit event – it’s all in the name of creative expression and clear communication!


  • £5 to attend, payable on the night.
  • pre-booking essential – just drop me a line.
  • arrive by 7pm, official welcome and start 7.30pm.
  • two sets of speaker sessions, with beer break in middle.
  • finish approx. 9.30pm.

Address of venue: Contact (theatre), Oxford Road, Manchester M15 6JA.

Located behind the University of Manchester Students Union. Car parking available outside theatre – I believe it’s £2 after 4pm for rest of evening.

Pecha Kucha was devised and is owned by KleinDytham Architecture.


Climate Change – a chance to do your bit

earthI met an impressive young man the other day – Mark Ashmore, a product of the Prince’s Trust and an entrepreneur with a conscience. As a youngster his dyslexia did nothing to blur his vision, and armed with a passion for the performing arts and a little help from the Trust, he set up Future Artists.

And just as the Trust helped him – so he’s looking for YOUR help with a most worthy project (more below).

Essentially, Future Artists is a network of creative film people modelled on the United Artists principle way back in the era of Charlie Chaplin. Rather than having physical studio space, Mark brings together the elements needed to make great films – actors’ agencies, scriptwriters, post-production facilities – at a fraction of the normal cost. This is a wonderful opportunity for creative people to showcase their talents – and of course for companies looking to communicate through new media.

But above all else Mark epitomises the modern social entrepreneur, someone with a conscience and strong principles. This has driven him to pursue an extraordinary project – an independent documentary charting the climate change argument, specifically the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (7-18 Dec 2009). Mark has gained agreement to interview representatives of the government’s COBRA emergency committee group, as well as senior ministers attending the event.

His hope is to produce a high quality documentary which will impact people’s views on the climate change issue, in the way that Al Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ raised awareness of the need to act now. By forming strategic partnerships with the likes of Greenpeace, the Prince’s Trust, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, Mark believes the film will be seen by over a million people and be used as an educational tool by organisations across the globe.

Of course all this costs money, and Mark hopes to raise the £5,000 needed to fund the project. He’s kept costs to a minimum – of course he’s NOT flying to the conference! Potential sponsors can associate themselves with the film in a number of ways; it may be that 10 companies sponsor the project to the tune of £500 each. Whatever the case, the ROI is an extraordinary exposure via viral video campaign – not to mention the moral stance over such an important issue facing us all.

If you’d like to support Mark in his endeavour, contact him at 07500 256968.

Thank you.

I rest my case – why presenting is a key business skill

parent-and-teenagerThink for a minute about some of the interactions you have with fellow family members:

“Let’s go out to the movies tonight”

“Would you please tidy your room!”

“We should invite the neighbours for dinner next week”

It’s a form of selling. You’re trying to persuade and influence the behaviour of another person, and if they resist you’d better be ready to present a compelling argument!

Of course this is replicated at work where you’re always presenting ideas, seeking buy-in and attempting to persuade and motivate others to do what you want them to do. It’s a form of public speaking – not necessarily the keynote speech variety, but an interaction which requires skilful presentation skills whether to a single person or a group. And because it’s so pervasive, it’s essential to develop this if you have ambitions to progress in life.

In many respects, presenting is like storytelling – it’s got a beginning, a middle and an end.

  • Identify the issue
  • Understand and explore
  • Suggest some solutions

First, if you can identify an issue which affects the audience, you’ll gain their interest and you’re showing empathy (you feel their pain).

Stage 2 is to study the issue more deeply. Here you impress them with your depth of knowledge about the topic, and perhaps provide some insights that educate and enlighten.

Stage 3 provides some potential tools or solutions, giving the audience hope.

These platforms provide a marvelous opportunity to get ahead of the rest. Bosses will often judge the talent and ability of those present in a meeting by what kind of contribution they’ve made in the session. If you’re asked to present something, it’s a public showcase for your skills, talents and knowledge.

It’s also an indication of potential leadership qualities and may well tip the balance in your favour if you’re competing with another for a promotion. And of course in an era of mass marketing and ever-decreasing attention span, it’s a test of your ability to convey thoughts and ideas concisely and compellingly.

Anyone with ambition should consider presenting/public speaking as a KEY part of their skill set – a fantastic attribute in business and life in general.

Top 10 Tips – a new support service for small business

logoThe expansion of the internet has meant that never before has information been so readily available. But rather like having a zillion TV channels at your fingertips, all that choice presents problems. The ‘Project Board’ has launched a new initiative called Top 10 Tips, a library of expert advice from highly regarded professionals from a number of different fields.

These encompass everything from Marketing and Design to Search Engine Optimisation and Social Responsibility in Business. For my part I’ve contributed a piece on the highly valued but much feared skill of public speaking!

To guarantee quality and relevance to small businesses, the founders have handpicked the contributors and verified their material, making Top 10 Tips a welcome addition to the on-line community. I wish them every success.