Monthly Archives: September 2011

Our Success Story Flubit is growing fast

Flubit_logoHaving met Bertie Stephens (Chief Flubitron) in a workshop last May, and signing up as Honourable Manlius Buggerflub (I’ve joined the fun Flubitron club), I wanted to keep in touch with their progress.

The good news is that they are growing at an impressively rapid pace, and have recently exceeded 14,000 Flubitrons. With four new demands every minute, their members have already demanded over 3,000 products and services.

I had a chat to their Online Marketing Rep Steph Fiala to find out more:

So what exactly is Flubit?

The idea of Flubit is incredibly simple but revolutionary. In an age of social media and online shopping, we have found a way to empower our consumers, through using our very simple platform. By grouping together and ‘demanding’ products they actually want to buy, we can get them great bulk discounts. Essentially, you tell us what you want and we do all the leg work and get you a discount, all because if you want something, chances are there are others online who also want it.

Bertie_Stephens_FlubitBertie Stephens came up with the idea for a consumer-lead social marketplace at the end of last year, but it wasn’t until spring this year when he really decided to go along with his idea. In April, he met with the first investors and by May Flubit was sitting on a $1M investment and was valued at $4M.

But the successes run deeper, we managed to create a great team here at flubit. We have a group of really experienced, goal oriented leaders – Adel Louertatani, making sure we are in touch with all the right investors, Ricardo Gomez-Ulmke who makes sure all our ideas are plausible and ensures we do everything with structure, Patrick Perez, our non-executive advisor, the man who brought Apple Mac to Europe giving us needed council and of course our CEO Bertie Stephens challenging and directing us – and a group of younger, enthusiastic employees who know our market and make sure we get it right.

And how did the Business & IP Centre help?

The British Library offered founders Bertie Stephens and Adel Louertatani not only a meeting ground & research tool from it’s wide array of resources, but an important learning arena too via the IP Centre.

Partaking in a multitude of courses gave Bertie & Adel an ability to gain a further foothold into the world of small business marketing, financing, pitching to investors and even intellectual property protection.

From here Flubit have been in regular contact with a selection of speakers who have since become consultants who offer a reliable, experianced source of knowledge. It was only from the learnings of the IP Centre that Bertie was able to learn the correct and (more importantly) required steps to correctly copyright & protect the Flubit brand.

If you want to keep up with Flubit, you can join their facebook page, or become a Flubitron yourself.

Flubit_com_screen_shot

flubit_celebration

The Flubit team celebrating their success Flubit style

 Update October 2012: Flubit is now live

Flubit_Screenshot_1

Update February 2013: Watch our Flubit Success Story video

Dee Dee’s Vintage, another Business & IP Centre Success Story

Dee_Dees_Vintage_logoI received a lovely surprise tweet recently. ” Hi Neil! I had a one-to-one with you  couple of years ago. Still implementing your advice – it was great!

It was from Dee Dee O’Connell, the founder of Dee Dee’s Vintage.  And after my blushes died down, I recalled the information advice clinic where we met. In particular I remember being impressed about how much thought Dee Dee had already given to her business idea, and how resourceful she had been.

Dee Dee didn’t have the delightful logo above at the time, or her partner Ian White.  But I was confident she would be successful, with her enthusiasm and expert knowledge of the vintage clothing market place, and her entrepreneurial spirit.

I get a lovely warm glow from being a small part of our success stories.

Below is the blurb from their website www.deedeesvintage.com:

Dee Dee’s Vintage is a brand new online shop, specialising in Americana and classic British vintage clothing. We began life back in June ‘09 as a stall at the Vintage Pop-Up Market at Brick Lane, East London. We can now be found at selected vintage fairs, markets and festivals all over the UK. Check out our blog for the latest updates on our events.

We’re based at The Print House in Dalston, East London – home of Dalston Roof Park and Café Oto.

They are also on Facebook and Twitter: www.facebook.com/deedeesvintage
twitter.com/deedeesvintage

Dee Dee O'Connell and Ian White

Dee Dee's Vintage with Dee Dee O'Connell and Ian White

Trends in the computer games industry

WiiAs part of the Library’s work to engage with the creative industries, my colleague Fran Taylor has been finding out some of the key facts and figures about the UK games sector.  We’d like to encourage games makers to use our collections for inspiration and contextual research and to use the Business & IP Centre to commercialise their ideas. Fran used the Business & IP Centre’s resources to gather it all together, including reports from Euromonitor, Datamonitor and online NESTA reports.

1.    In 2009, the global video gaming market was estimated to be worth approximately $72.2bn. It is expected to grow by 5.1% during the period 2009–14, to reach $92.5bn in 2014. Software revenues are worth 69.4% of total revenues.

2.    The UK video games industry was worth £2.8bn in 2010, which is bigger than its music or film industries.

3.    In the UK, the most popular brands are the Xbox, Sony PlayStation, Kinect and Call of Duty.

4.    Almost one third of all people older than 16 in the UK describe themselves as ‘gamers’ (with an equal breakdown between men and women).  The percentage goes up to 74% for people between the ages of 16 and 19.

5.    One in every two UK houses owns a video games console.

6.    The profile of the industry is changing, with a new breed of games developers working as sole-traders, freelancers and in small companies. Growth is expected at the lower end of the price range, i.e. online and mobile games.

7.    The online gaming segment is rapidly gaining traction and is gradually overtaking the PC and console gaming segments. Business Insights forecasts that online gaming revenues will increase from $13.2bn in 2009 to $25.3bn in 2014.

8.    The global PC gaming market was estimated at a value of $4.5bn in 2009, and is likely to erode to $4.3bn by 2014, posting a decline in of 0.9% CAGR during the period.

9.    Mobile games are the fastest growing segment of the video gaming market, with a forecast CAGR of 14.4% during the period 2009–14. Increasing mobile and 3G and 4G penetration are the key market drivers.

10.    Emerging technologies that are in a much more advanced stage of development include thought-based games, motion sensors, connected TV and HTML5.

 

Effective Writing And Communications with Kimberly Davies and Steve Trister

Kimberly_DavisYesterday I attended another of Kimberly DaviesMarketing Masters days. This time the topic was Effective Writing And Communications and featured guest speaker Steve Trister the creator of Performance Dynamite.

I not sure if Kimberly is a geographer at heart, but the four days I have attended have been located in south, east, north and now west London. I’m not sure where she will go next now we have covered all four compass points.

One of the consequences of moving to a new location each time, is that the rooms often have technical glitches with the sound or vision, or in yesterdays case, both.

Kimberly copes with these challenging starts to the day with an impressive level of  professionalism and humour.

steve_TristerKimberly spoke for most of the day and was excellent, however the highlight of the day for me was actor and business coach Steve Trister the from Performance Dynamite..

He walked to front of the room wearing a doctors mask and mumbled something to. That got our attention. He then asked us to name the number one disease in business. We came up with a range of suggestions, but failed to give the correct answer; Vomiticus Contentinaatum – otherwise known as puking content, or verbal diarrhoea.

I have to admit that working in one of the largest libraries in the world with over 150 million items in our collection, this is a disease I am all too well aware of falling prey to.

The cure to this disease is to make an emotional connection with your audience (of one or more). This of course is much easier to say than to do. So you need to prepare, by building the right mindset.

You need to tell yourself every day that you are already connected to your audience, then you need to mentally rehearse by visualising the event in advance (some of which will be scripted, and some not). This is similar to the way professional athletes prepare for a competition.

You need to be clear on the emotion you want to conjure up, be in state (or in the moment with no distractions), and to commit 100% to the performance.

Steve had investigated the famous research by Albert Mehrabian on non-verbal communication. He found the commonly quoted result, that clues from spoken words, from the voice tone, and from the facial expression, contribute 7 %, 38 %, and 55 % respectively to the total meaning, is wrong, as it it relates only to the communication of positive versus negative emotions.

Our voice is critical to how we communicate to our audience, changes in vocal emphasis (the stress we put on specific words) can completely change the meaning of what we saying. He asked how often do we take note of how we are actually speaking. He explained that our tongues are muscles, so we should exercise them using tongue twisters.

He also covered body language and the use of gestures, and how these can be used to reinforce or undermine our verbal messages. He said we should practice expressing our business activity in the form of charades. This made my mind boggle at how I could show the British Library through mime.

Steve illustrated each of these points with victims (sorry volunteers) from the audience, and guided them through. For the final example he had a professional photographer give an excellent and clear mime of his business.

Finally he said we should find an emotional story that will relate to your audience.

Needless to say Steve used all of these techniques during one of the most engaging and memorable presentations I have ever seen.

You can see a YouTube video of Steve in action, and an interview with Smarta.com.

Here are my notes from the rest of the excellent day:

Learn the 20 rules of communication that should never be broken

Kimberly’s no. 1 life lesson;
“You can reach anyone in the world with, seven phone calls or less, saying the right thing.”

Statistics show that 50% of marketing spend is wasted.

Led to the idea for Sarsaparilla – to detox your marketing – Marketing Purification

Definition of marketing
Anything that affects the perception of your company. From logos to staff behaviour.

You are exposed to 4,000 brands every day. So how does your business stand out?

Know your audience
–    Who is your target market?
–    Who is your idea client / decision maker?
–    What motivates them?
–    Profile (gender, age, health, wealth, culture, interests, position, salary, budget, etc)

Then put yourself into their shoes.
–    How can you make their life easier?
–    What is in it for them?

Then find your voice (written language).
–    Who would narrate your content?
–    Think of a character of personality best suited – perhaps Steven Fry for the British Library
–    Who would your audience relate to and want to hear? Admire? Look up to? Believe
–    Imagine their voice each time you create marketing content

Keywords
–    Ten words that best describe your business – For the Business & IP Centre: innovation, inventions, information, support, advice, help, entrepreneurs, business-startup,
–    One word that best describe your business – knowledge

Unique Selling Point
–    What truly makes your business unique – For the Business & IP Centre: The largest free collection of free market research and business information in the world, with expert guidance.

USP
–    You need to be the only…
–    Everyone says, great staff, customer service etc. That is not unique
–    Sarsaparilla – the only marketing purification agency
–    Try to be everything to everyone and you will be nothing to no one.

Misconceptions
–    Write down misconceptions about your company and industry
o    The British Library is a only accessible to senior academics and authors.
o    The British Library is a very big public library.
o    The British Library only has books.

Testimonials
–    Stronger to have others say it for you
–    One to address each misconception – a maximum of five
–    Keep them really short
–    Use white papers and case studies

Focus on the benefits for your customers
–    List them – information, advice, contacts, training
–    What problem can you solve?
–    How can you make their life easier? – a clearer view of what they need to do to start their business

Key Messages
–    What are the three key things you want people to remember about your business?
o    Business & IP Centre at the British Library at St Pancras central London
o    Free workshops and advice
o    Free access to market research and business information.

Branding
–    The trust people have in your company
–    Consistency – with the rest of your business
–    People will judge you from how you look

Professional photos
–    Stock photos are too common – better to use your own commissioned ones

KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid
–    You have two seconds to make an impression
–    8 year old level reading age for printed materials
–    Get straight to the point
–    Bulleted lists are good, with verbs to start
–    Every word competes

Formula for success and to avoid writers block
–    I’ve got all this information, now how do I organise it?
–    Reverse pyramid order – most important to least important
–    Start with the ‘lead’ – who, what, where, when, how

Navigate
–    Map out where you want them to go
–    Tell them what you want them to do

Incentives
–    Free downloads
–    Upgrades
–    Gifts
–    Discounts
–    Occasion
–    Expiration date
–    First 10 receive
–    Etc

Call to Action
–    Create urgency
–    Why should I stop what I’m doing and buy NOW?
–    Now or lose your audience

Ask questions – keep the dialogue going
–    Show a sincere interest
–    Surveys, feedback, phone
–    What questions would you want to know for market research?

Relevance
–    How can you connect your business to current news?
–    Have an opinion
–    Share your views – become an expert

The Elevator Pitch
–    What is it?
–    The most important tool
–    People decide whether to file or forget you
–    Get everyone in the company to memorise
–    Use it everywhere – keep it consistent – brochures, home page, flyers etc

The who, what, where, when and how of your business

I still think Sarsaparilla’s elevator pitch is the best I have come across;

50% of marketing is wasted. Sarsaparilla is a marketing consulting and training agency that specialises in marketing purification – the process of detoxing your marketing, protecting you from The Flash, Fluff, and Fakers, and helping you make more money with less.

SquidLondon brighten up a rainy autumn day

emma-jayne_parkes_and_vivian_jaegerSomething of a surprise on my way home tonight to see a full-page advert for our Success Story SquidLondon in the Evening Standard.

Fashion graduates Emma-Jayne Parkes and Viviane Jaeger founded SquidLondon after being inspired by Jackson Pollock. They thought it would be cool to walk down the street, it starts to rain and your clothes turn into a walking Jackson Pollock.

Their first product, the Squidarella, is an umbrella that changes colour as it rains. Developing such an innovative product meant that intellectual property – protecting their ideas – was an essential topic to crack. The pair visited the Business & IP Centre to learn more about how intellectual property applied to them.

Squid have now moved to the bathroom with their latest product : ‘Miss Squidolette’ Shower Curtain!

Miss_Squidolette-Shower_Curtain

An evening in the charming company of Amanda F***ing Palmer and her ukulele

I actually wrote this blog post late on Monday night, but thanks to the unpredictable nature of web editing, the whole thing disappeared in mid-edit. Whilst mustering the energy to start again from scratch, who should pop-up on my iPod but the Dresden Dolls. Considering I have over 5,000 songs, it is set to random, I took this as a sign to finish what I had started.

As I have mentioned before, the British Library is a wonderfully eclectic place, and the events we hold reflect this.

This Monday saw a performance from Amanda F***ing Palmer to a full house of her loyal and adoring fans in the intimate setting of British Library conference centre. With the exception of a couple of songs played on an electronic piano, AFP accompanied herself with a ukulele and mandolin.

 She was also joined on stage for a couple of songs by new husband Neil Gaiman, who just happens to be an award winning science fiction writer, who surprisingly hails from my home town of East Grinstead. Neil also gave a talk earlier in the day as part of our excellent Out of this World science fiction exhibition (which closes on 25 September).

I have to admit to not being aware of what I now understand is the cult of AFP, before Monday, so like any good librarian did a bit of desk research. I discovered she has performed as a solo performer, the driving voice of The Dresden Dolls, the Emcee in Cabaret, and as half of the conjoined-twin folk duo Evelyn Evelyn. And that her approach to clothes seems to be ‘less is more’. So I was somewhat surprised by her initial rather prim and proper outfit (below).

All rights reserved by Hannah Daisy

However, it did not take long for her to revert to her more ‘traditional’ attire of basque and suspenders (below with Neil Gaiman).

(Many thanks to Hannah Daisy for allowing me to use her wonderful photos of the evening.)

All rights reserved by Hannah Daisy

Although Amanda’s cabaret style of music is not normally my cup of tea, I was really impressed by her intelligent lyrics, humour and emotional depth.

The only slight niggle from the evening’s entertainment was the swearing. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not easily offended by rude words, and of course AFP’s stage name gives something of a clue to what might be expected at her shows. But I am now rather bored by the number of visitors to the British Library who seem to think that swearing in such an august institution is terribly naughty, and so irresistibly cool.

My first encounter with the  f word at the library was back in 1997, courtesy of James Brown founder of Loaded Magazine, and perhaps not so surprising given his role as father of the ‘Lads mag’. You can still see him in action on our YouTube channel.

Not long after came Richard Reed of Innocent Smoothies fame,
and Sam Roddick founder of ‘erotic emporium’ Coco De Mer, and daughter of the Body Shop legend Dame Anita Roddick.

Perhaps both could be excused because this was how they expressed their great passion for their business activities.

However, the same cannot be said of comedy veteran Arthur Smith, who during his set at What’s So Funny @ British Library last January, lead a rousing chorus of “I am the Mayor of Balham / oh yes I f***ing am / I am the Mayor of Balham / I f***ing f***ing am”

I could see he was positively revelling in his ‘rebellious’ swearing.

So, I’m afraid on Monday I refused to sing along when Amanda asked us to yell “f*** it”, in response to prompting during her performance of Map of Tasmania. Although, from the sound of it, I was probably the only one not joining in.

The evening wasn’t all swearing however, and including a surprisingly warm mention of my local (and rather dull) town of Crawley, for being the home-town of Robert Smith founder of 80’s pop band The Cure.

She has also covered Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah in concert with her father, which is a good sign of musical taste in my opinion.

Needless to say, in our age of social media connections, you can follow both Amanda and Neil on their twitter feeds with half a million, and one and a half million followers respectively.

I can’t wait to see what surprises the library will throw up next.

How to revive a brand

On the way home from a recent road trip to Scotland, I made a ‘pit-stop’ at a McDonalds restaurant near Birmingham.

I’m not a regular customer at the ‘golden arches’, so was very surprised to discover a waterless urinal
with a sticker on it saying it saved 100,000 litres of water a year.

urinal

Copyright Sorven Media ltd

This is all part of McDonalds’ efforts to combat the negative press that has built up over the years. In particular the reaction to ‘McLibel’ case and reaction to the 1994 documentary film Super Size Me by Morgan Spurlock.

McDonalds have created a website to allow you to Make up your own mind, which currently contains 24,000 questions and answers:

Your Questions
A dedicated Make Up Your Own Mind team from across McDonald’s is working hard to answer your questions. You can ask whatever you want, and we aim to answer even the toughest question within two weeks in an honest and straight-talking fashion. The ‘Questions & Answers’ can be searched either by keyword or by sub-sections – this should help you find the information you’re looking for.

The website also includes reports from their Quality Scouts.

What is a Quality Scout?
Quality Scouts are members of the general public from around the UK who are curious about McDonald’s business. They are not paid, and have no ties to the company. All they do is take an honest, behind the scenes look at McDonald’s and report back. And they’ll tell you exactly what they hear and see.

I have to say I am impressed by their efforts, but wonder what it will take to change public opinion.

Two examples spring to mind:

Fiat cars of the 1970’s, which became notorious for their rust problems.

In response they built the Tipo in the 1980’s (a car I owned), and gave it a fully galvanised body, giving it better rust protection than almost any other car on the market. However, it took many years for their ‘rust bucket’ reputation to disappear.

A more recent (if fictitious) example is from The Archers radio show where an outbreak of E. coli,  has resulted in regular customers deserting Ambridge Organics, despite having been given the all clear several weeks ago.