Monthly Archives: May 2011

I’ve joined the fun Flubitron club

flubitlogotaglinewhitebackgroundI was delighted to meet Bertie Stephens (Chief Flubitron) from group buying website Flubit during Tuesdays excellent Marketing Masterclass from Grow.

Their pitch is; For any product you want to buy online, tell Flubit, and we’ll work our little socks off to get you some wonderful bespoke discounts… for free!

And they already have 17,000 fans on facebook so are off to a great ‘pre-start’.

It was great to hear from Bertie how useful they have found the Business & IP Centre in developing their business and protecting their brand. I look forward to them joining the growing ranks of our Success Stories.

Having become disillusioned by Groupon, after too many 75% offers for the Ultimate Facial Using Microdermabrasion, I was happy to sign up to Flubit.

And this was the fun email I received in response:

The Flubitask Force to Manlius

To Balcombe’s newest and most wonderful Flubitron,

Honourable Manlius Buggerflub

Welcome to our world.

Now you are officially a Flubitron (an exclusive club we must add), you are one step closer to being part of a new revolution in internet buying. Soon, whenever you want something, you’ll be able to get it cheaper, just by using Flubit – how cool is that?! If you haven’t already, why not follow us on Facebook or Twitter to keep up with what’s new?

Over the next few months we’ll be finishing off some bits and bobs, polishing the knobs and preparing to launch this Summer. Hurrah!

So what happens now?

In 2 – 3 weeks you’ll receive your official Flubitron membership card (Flubicard – don’t worry you’ll get used to the terms). With this card you’ll have access to a whole range of offline and online benefits. We’ll let you know more about this with our introductory letter, or you can have a read here:

http://www.flubitron.com/

OK, so now we’re going to go and tell our Flubitask Force to start making your membership card, and we’ll be in touch in a week or so to let you know how they’re getting on!

Speak soon Honourable Manlius,

Flubregards,

Bertie & Dan
Chief & Head of Internal Imagination

The Apprentice Series 7 – the rise of the entrepreneurs

the_apprentice_180x180My relationship with The Apprentice series has been something of a roller-coaster ride since it started in 2005.

I have to admit that I didn’t get to see any of the first series, and regret not having watched the wonderful Tim Campbell succeed without comprising his values. I say wonderful, because he went on from winning the first series to become a friend and supporter of the Business & IP Centre in our early days. And I was fortunate enough to get to know him during this period. He has since gone on to found the Bright Ideas Trust, to help young people turn an idea into a business.

I did avidly watch the second, third and fourth series (the ‘Headless chickens’ shopping trip to Marrakech being my favourite episode. However, I became increasing disenchanted with both the egotistical nature of the candidates, and the appalling behaviour on display each week. From backstabbing their fellow ‘team’ members, to outright lying in front of Allan Sugar.

However, with this seventh series the producers have decided to ‘refresh’ the show with a new angle. Instead of the winner spending a year working with Lord Sugar, something neither party would relish I suspect, they get £250,000 to start a new business on his behalf.

So instead of a group of somewhat dysfunctional, insanely ambitious corporate wannabes, we have a group of insanely confident aspiring entrepreneurs and an inventor.

This brings the show into my bailiwick, as our main activity in the Business & IP Centre is to help entrepreneurs and inventors achieve business success.

Already, during the first three episodes, I have spotted ways in which we could have helped the contestants avoid disaster. So, I have decided to cover each show, and identify where our information or services could have made a difference.

During the first episode we were introduced to the contestants using a set of pithy sound-bites. And already I spotted Helen Milligan who desperately needs to attend our workshop Your Life, your Business, with our amazing business coach Rasheed Ogunlaru. Why? Because anyone who says “my social life, my personal life don’t mean anything to me. I live to work, that’s all I do”, Episode 1 (50 seconds in), really needs to get some perspective on their life.

In the second show, we saw the two rival teams, Venture and Logic, develop mobile phone Apps. In this case a couple of hours researching our eMarketer database would have given them plenty of information about the hot trends in this rapidly developing market. Instead their decisions were made in a vacuum and based on their own ideas of what might be popular.

The third episode was all about buying a set of items for the recently refurbished Savoy Hotel, finding the best quality at the best price. As is so often the case with The Apprentice, the producers ensured the contestants were under pressure by giving them one day and just a set of Yellow Pages. Surely I wasn’t the only one to be saying, ‘where is their laptop?’ With the help of Wikipedia they could have discovered what a ‘cloche’ was and where to buy one . They could have used Google Maps to ensure the most efficient route around the required shops, avoiding schlepping from North to South London and missing the deadline. Or perhaps finding their nearest cash and carry branch.

With access to our Kompass database they would have been able to source and locate the producers of just about any product, and start finding out prices, to give them an edge when negotiating with suppliers.

Tom PellereauAlthough Alan Sugar has already ‘fired’ three of the contestants it is difficult to tell who is going to make it through to the final at this point. However, I really like Tom Pellereau, the lone inventor in the group. His refreshing honesty and lack of political chicanery, may be his undoing in the Board Room, but I sincerely hope not. Perhaps I am to naive in thinking that, just like in Series 1, the good-guy might win.

You can read about Tom’s inventions on Steve Van Dulken’s Patent Search Blog

Boris boots up Business Bootcamps at the British Library

Boris JohnsonWe were honoured to have Boris Johnson The Mayor of London visit the Business & IP Centre on Friday to launch Business Bootcamps.

The Bootcamps will cover a wide range of sectors, including digital and mobile technology, fashion, hospitality, entertainment, creative and bio-tech industries. Co-ordinated by Capital Enterprise, Business Bootcamps will see a total of 27 sessions being run over the next 12 months to provide intensive training.

The programme, with £275,000 of funding from the Royal Bank of Scotland and £135,000 from the EU’s Interreg scheme, will give around 1,000 new entrepreneurs the opportunity to develop the key skills they will need to build successful businesses.

We will be running our own bootcamp, focusing on the professional services, giving intensive training on finance, marketing, branding, business planning as well as strategic decisions and planning.
In his speech, Boris wished there had been bootcamps when he left university in 1980.

“There was a craze for rustic tile kitchen splashbacks back then, So I rented an old RAF hanger, and set up with a couple of friends and my mother designing the tiles, and was all set to storm the market. Then I realised we hadn’t a clue what to do next—it ended 24 hours later, just one night ‘on the tiles’.”

He revealed that he might not have gone into politics, if he had become a successful entrepreneur as “Britain’s rustic tile backsplash king.”

The professionals: business bootcamp

Put together by experts and business owners, this two day bootcamp is designed specifically for sole traders in the professional services, from IT consultants, marketing freelancers to accountants. In times of recession, many people are setting up their own businesses, based on their professional skills.

The bootcamp will give you all the tools needed to grow your business beyond your existing client base. The content will be tailored to your key information needs based on the few questions that will be asked when booking.

This is an intense and effective way to spend your time which in the long-term will save you significant time and money. The content across both days covers all of the essential issues you are facing as a new business.

Along with practical exercises and inspirational presentations, you will receive a fact-file of research reports and guides to use afterwards.  This information alone would cost in excess of £500.

The benefits of the bootcamp

• Meet with like-minded people
• Understand how effective networking can boost your business
• How to present a perfect pitch
• Best practice look at financial viable models
• Get information on professional service delivery from the experts
• Discover more about how to refresh your business plan
• Introductory guide to intellectual property
• Develop a strategy to carry your business forward.

Experts

Johnny Martin – get to grips with your finances with the no.1 small business numbers coach.

Nick Winton – understand how to grow your client base and potential profits with clever strategy and lead generation.
Rasheed Ogunlaru – how you can learn to ‘be your brand’ and grow your profile with effective networking.

Visit from the School of Communication Arts

School of Communication ArtsYesterday I hosted a visit for thirty students from the School of Communication Arts. I have to admit I had not heard of the school before, but have been very impressed by Marc Lewis their enthusiastic Dean.

I was initially a bit intimidated by presenting to such a young and dynamic audience, but they gave me an easy ride, and seemed genuinely interested in what the Library and the Business & IP Centre had to offer.

The school have created a great Prezi slide show to explain how they are different.

And here is an introduction from their prospectus:

Have you noticed that the best ideas are usually so simple that it is hard to believe that it took so long for someone to conceive of the idea in the first place?

School of Communication Arts is unique for so many reasons. Here are three things that make it such a unique place for you to launch your career;

A student to teacher ratio of 1:6 (that’s six teachers to every student!!). Every teacher is a top creative practitioner. Which means that our students develop a powerful network of valuable contacts whilst developing their abilities.

An entirely new vocation (Ideapreneur). This has captured the imagination of the advertising and venture capital industries. So much so, that some of our Ideapreneur students will receive £10,000 of funding for their start-ups whilst at the school.

An accredited curriculum written by practitioners using wiki tools. This simple idea enables us to teach the most up-to-date knowledge, which is essential in such a fastchanging world.

There are plenty more ways in which The School of Communication Arts is considered to be the leading school for advertising, some of which you will find in this prospectus. But the thing that sets us apart, more than anything else, is our cohort.

I wish you good luck in winning a place at the school. If you are successful, you are on a fasttrack to a very rewarding creative career. All the best, Marc Lewis

The socialisation of the internet – Social Media World Forum

Social Media World ForumMy colleague Fran Taylor has kindly allowed me to publish her notes from the Social Media World Forum in March. There are some excellent tips below.

Socialisation of the internet

–    Social media encourages mob or herd like mentality, which can be really negative. The panel gave examples of this in Japan where users of social networks are often anonymous.

–    You need to think about your business objectives first when using social media.

–    If you have a strong product and brand, people will be receptive to you online.

–    More controversially, traditional branding is ‘plastic’, i.e. it’s based on an ideal not a reality. Organisations have to accept that they won’t be perfect and that they’re made up of real people.

–    It’s important to accept that you can make mistakes if you want to be innovative.  Organisations need to remember the importance of ‘playing’.

–    If someone ‘likes’ you on Facebook it doesn’t mean that you’ve made it.  Someone needs to buy your product and give it a good review – this is the end goal, not a social media output.

–    Marketers can be too optimistic when reporting on success e.g. “I have x thousand followers’.  Again, success is in reaching your business goals, not just having fans on social media sites.

–    Quote of the session: “Being dull is a recipe for disaster.” From Joanne Jacobs, social media consultant.

–    Sites like Trip advisor are going to increasingly come into trouble with litigation, which may affect the credibility of review sites in the future.

–    Worryingly the representative from Facebook had no idea if the site was accessible for people with a disability. The panel agreed it needed to be higher on the agenda.

–    You don’t have to be innovative i.e. first to market.  It’s fine to be an ‘adapter’ i.e. to build and improve on what others do first.

–    We can’t move completely to crowd sourcing and social decision making in the future.  You still need leaders and experts.

Measuring reputation and monitoring social media activity

Reputation

Klout Logo-    The two main tools at the moment are Klout and Peer index.

–    Reputation measurement is still flawed through social media – you need to take these figures with a pinch of salt as they don’t reflect the full picture, although they can be useful.

–    Sites like Stack Overflow are being used for reputation scores in employing people in the tech industry.

–    It’s important to know who are the major tweeters and bloggers in your industry and engage with them.

Measuring activity

–    There are lots of agencies and products that could help us measure our social media activity.  Brandwatch, Synthesio UK to name a few.

–    It’s important to remember that monitoring agencies can’t access private content e.g. a lot of LinkedIn and Facebook.

–    Good quote: “In real life all good relationships start by listening.”  You need to know what you are listening to online and what types of conversations you want to monitor.

–    It’s important to collect qualitative as well as quantitative information.

–    Sampling can be effective.

–    Sentiment analysis is when you look at whether content is positive, neutral or negative.

–    If you have more sophisticated systems, they can link in to your CRM data.

–    Google alerts are misleading – they only pick up around 5% of content.

–    Free tools are ok but very limited.  You have to weigh up time spent vs. value.

–    Measurement is about outcomes and changes in behaviour.  People are not ‘avatars’ or ‘clicks’.

Where social media fits in an organisation and PR

–    It’s important to be clear who is accountable for activity, but no one can own social media.

–    Be clear about how you measure your activity and what your business goal is.

–    You can’t control, only follow and contribute.

–    You need to set guidelines for staff, coach and train them.  Focus on empowering them, again, rather than controlling.

–    Sometimes the line between PR and customer service can get blurred through social media.

–    It’s not about being ‘liked’ it’s about adding value.

Fran Taylor
http://twitter.com/#!/BL_Creative