Dominate your market with Twitter has definitely been the year for Twitter in the Social Media world.

I have previously introduced how Twitter work (The Business & IP Centre takes on twitter), and how popular we have found it at the Business & IP Centre (Our Twitter followers go over 1,000).

Now I have been introduced to a short book with the catchy title Dominate your market with Twitter. Subtitled Tweet your way to business success, the book introduces what Twitter is, and how to use it to promote yourself and your business.

Chapter six, Twitter on steriods, explains how to extend the use of the service using applications such as Twitterholic, Tweetstats, Qwitter, Tweetbeep and many more.

If you don’t want to rush out to your local bookshop, or consult our copy (and there is something slightly slightly disconcerting about using the ‘old technology’ of books to promote cutting edge Social Media developments), here are a couple of useful links:

Karen Blakeman has made her slides on Twitter available on Slideshare, which – I noticed features some of the Business & IP Centre’s use of social media.

Twitter themselves have produced a useful set of pages on how using the service for business.

Business & IP Centre goes ‘On the Buses’

Although this has to be one of the most culturally embarassing references I have used in this blog, I couldn’t resist – now that we are advertising on London buses (see my YouTube link below if you are in need of a cringefest).

This is part of our promotional activities around Global Entrepreneurship Week, for which we have lots of exciting events, including In conversation with Lord Sugar (the event is now sold out, but you can watch online at

We have had great success in the past with our posters in and around a selection of London Underground stations, so we are both excited and nervous about our experiment with London buses.

Please let me know if you happen to spot one around town.





Karan Bilimoria and the story of Cobra Beer

Cobra_Beer_bottleAnother late night for me last Thursday night. This time to attend the Chartered Management Institute 2009 Sir Kenneth Cork lecture. It was organised by my friend Chris Seow from the University of East London who is the current chair of the City of London Branch of the CMI.

I have to admit I was reluctant to spend another evening in London and went along to support Chris. However, I am glad I made the effort as the talk by Karan Billimoria was absolutely fascinating.

Even while waiting for Lord Bilimoria to start I heard an amazing story from Darren Way the founder of Streets of Growth.

Streets of Growth is a dynamic community leadership organisation founded in 2001 and led by local people in Bromley by Bow East London. Committed community adult and young people work together to offer real solutions and practical approaches to tackling the issues that people face in their local community and so develop sustainable and healthier communities in the East End.

karan-bilimoriaAlthough I had not been following the Cobra beer story closely, I was aware (along with everyone else in the audience) that they had gone bust in May of this year and had been rescued by the giant Canadian brewery firm Molson Coors.

I was wondering if Lord Bilimoria would mention what seemed to be an unfortunate end to what had been an amazing success story up till that time. His first slide gave an indication that he would not be skirting around the painful aspects of his fascinating twenty year story to bring a new beer brand into mass consumption. The title of the slide was ‘Adapt or Die’. He immediately began to explain how quickly the
credit crunch had impacted high growth business such as his, who were dependent on external finance for expansion. As he pointed out, prior to the crash, cash had been king, but then it became an emperor.

Fortunately, he then went back to the beginning of his story, and spent an hour giving an absolutely riveting speech which concluded with the painful details of the collapse and eventual revival of the business.

As with so many entrepreneurs Lord Bilimoria went against his parents wishes with his plans to start his own business. Although his father as head of the 350,000 strong Indian Army did not want Karan to follow him into the military, he felt a career in the City of London would be a more appropriate use of his Cambridge University education. He was told ‘you should get a real job like a banker’.

But, he had developed a love for beer and recognised there was a significant gap in the market between traditional British bitter beer, and the sharp and gassy lager beers available at that time. There was nothing that was a suitable accompaniment to curry meals in Indian restaurants.

The second slide of the talk consisted of just three words, ‘Aspiration, Inspiration, Perspiration’. He reinforced my experience of dealings with entrepreneurs that the business idea is the easy part. Bringing it to production and then to the market is the hard bit, and may take many years.

Lord Bilimoria went to give many instances when his business nearly died. Often from causes which could never have been predicted. For example, a one year boycott of his product by Indian restaurants (his primary customers), after an article criticising the professionalism of the restaurant owners in a trade magazine which Karan had founded, but no longer had links to. In each of these ‘near-death’ experiences it was always flexibility and a creative approach that led to a solution.

It was good to hear his quite confidence about the new opportunities the partnership with Molson Coors would lead to. He said they were moving from a David vs Goliath situation to one where David and Goliath were working together. He had been impressed by the family culture that was still present despite the global size of the company, and how they had been true to their initial agreement despite the financial turmoil of the period when Cobra was forced into a Company Voluntary Arrangement.

He concluded by listing the Molson Coors definition of what makes a remarkable brand:
1.    A compelling story
2.    Refusing to compromise
3.    An instantly recognisable look
4.    A unique, relevant and consistent product
5.    To inspire brand champions from customers
6.    To deliver enduring profits

How to lose friends and alienate people, not the rather irritating memoir by Toby Young about his failed five-year effort to make it in the U.S. as a contributing editor at  Vanity Fair magazine.

This is about adding people to mailing lists without their consent. As an early Internet adopter with my own domain name, I tend to attract a great deal of spam and have become somewhat blasé about it. Although I might feel different if I wasn’t protected from it (Spam lovely spam)

However as Rasheed Ogunlaru points out in his latest blog post How to lose business before you’ve won it… Pt 1, it is ‘rude, presumptuous, lazy and an invasion of privacy‘.

I agree with Rasheed, it is not only disrespectful of the customer relationship, it also risks falling foul of the The Telephone Preference Service and it’s email equivalents.

Also, these days business is all about establishing an ongoing relationship, and this kind of activity is unlikely to help this cause.

Free guide to creating a brand

Creating_a_brandThanks once again to the EnterQuest team for pointing out this guide to creating a brand.

It is a short but effective free pdf leaflet on brand creation, if and why you need one, tips on researching brands, and guidance on brand management and extension.

The only slightly odd aspect of the guide is the noticable lack of branding by its authors GREEN Communications. As you can see from this cover shot, their name is barely visible in the bottom right hand corner. You have to read all the way through to the end of the guide before coming across their logo and contact information on the back cover.

Start-ups who think big

On my way home the other evening I noticed an unusual poster advertising the Daily Telegraph newspaper. The poster consisted of three of the photos below, and was a salient reminder of the humble beginnings of what are now household names.

Some of the entrepreneurs I meet have no greater ambition than becoming their own boss and making enough money to be comfortable. However, some have global ambitions right from the beginning. Last week I saw a client who has patented an invention which if successful could be in every home in the world which uses electricity.

It pays to think big. Branson?s first store: Richard Branson?s first foray into business was a mail order record company.

It pays to think big. Before it became a computing power house, IBM used to manufacture and sell machinery ranging from commercial scales and industrial time recorders to meat and cheese slicers.
BM 1930: Before it became a computing power house, IBM used to manufacture and sell machinery ranging from commercial scales and industrial time recorders to meat and cheese slicers.
It pays to think big. Lamborghini started out as a tractor-building company in the Italian village of Sant'Agata Bolognese.
Lamborghini 1955: Lamborghini started out as a tractor-building company in the Italian village of Sant'Agata Bolognese.

It pays to think big. When Nokia was first formed they produced a number of products including bicycle tires, aluminium and Wellington boots.

It pays to think big. William Harley and Arthur Davidson built their first motorcycle in a friend?s wooden shed, in Milwaukee.

It pays to think big. Ingvar Kamprad, aged 17, set up Ikea in a shed in Smaland, Southern Sweden.
IKEA started here. Ingvar Kamprad, aged 17, set up Ikea in a shed in Smaland, Southern Sweden. From here he distributed Christmas cards, packets of seeds and pens.
It pays to think big. Larry Page and Sergey Brin set up Google as a research project while they were Ph.D students at Stanford University. In 1998 they moved into Susan Wojcicki's garage at 232 Santa Margarita, Menlo Park.
Google started here. Larry Page and Sergey Brin set up Google as a research project while they were Ph.D students at Stanford University. In 1998 they moved into Susan Wojcicki's garage at 232 Santa Margarita, Menlo Park.

It pays to think big, The Daily Telegraph, Britain’s Broadsheet
It pays to think big is the Telegraph’s major new advertising campaign to promote Britain’s best-selling quality daily paper. It pays to think big, proudly celebrates the fact that the Daily Telegraph is the only quality daily paper in the broadsheet format – giving readers more coverage of news, sports and business.

Marketing Maestros: Innovative Strategies for Small Businesses

Many thanks for writing a blog article about Marketing Maestros!  Just a thought – if possible, would you mind adding a link to the webcasts as well?

Once again a great Inspiring Entrepreneurs panel this evening, with regular chair Matthew Rock (the founder-editor of Real Business) brining his inimitable enthusiasm to the event.

(You can still watch a  webcast of the event at

Ajaz Ahmed Chairman of AKQA, the world’s largest independent digital agency showed some impressive examples of innovation in advertising, illustrating his point about the importance of originality.

His key message was for his company to let their work do the talking’. In other words, don’t tell you customers how great you are, show them.

Not surprisingly Simon Calver the CEO of LOVEFILM (a £100 million turnover company) is a fan of films, and so used examples to illustrate his four P’s of business success.

P1 – ‘I’m going to make you an offer you can’t refuse’ (The Godfather).
Focus on the consumer proposition first and worry about building the brand later on. The three legs which hold up his company are choice, value and convenience.

P2 – ‘Self preservation society’ (The Italian Job) i.e. Preserve the cash in the business. Make sure you focus on the time it takes to get cash in and out. If you get it right it gives you a competitive advantage. Also analyse everything you do – where you spend your cash and how you do it.

P3 – Spin City (American sitcom)  Never under-estimate the importance of PR. In his case they have three targets, their investors, trading partners and of course their consumers. You have to be constantly creating new stories about your business the papers will want to publish.

P4 – Passion (a choice of seven films according to Wikipedia) Make sure you surround yourself with great people from the beginning. ‘Fiirst division people recruit first division people’, which makes the business great. Make sure you have fun too. Simon hosts a monthly BBQ for his colleagues. Also reward your people on a quarterly basis (in the case of LOVEFILM bonuses of between 10 and  20%. This allows for more flexibility in changing targets in a fast growing business.

In conclusion, starting a business is probably the most rewarding thing you can do in your life.

Tristram Mayhew the founder and ‘Chief Gorilla’ of Go Ape, the UK’s leading forest-based adventure company talked about Gorilla marketing.

Instead of focussing on their specific activities Go Ape are branding themselves as ‘creating adventures’, and are encouraging everyone to live life more adventurously.

Gorilla marketing means turning your customers into an effective free sales force. These are his tips:
1.    Wow them with what you do.
2.    Delight them – turn complainers into ambassadors.
3.    Build a trust and charm based relationship
4.    … and they will buy more, and more often – Tristram openly admitted that many of their ideas have been borrowed from the Innocent drinks company.
5.    Innovate, validate, cultivate.

The Brand Gap: How to Bridge the Distance Between Business Strategy and Design : a Whiteboard OverviewTristram strongly recommended The Brand Gap, it is very readable and nice and short too.

They are building a loyalty base using Tribe magazine (published every 6 weeks) to reinforce brand values.

They also make use of Social Media such as encouraging customers to post videos on YouTube, and have nearly 5,000 to date with hundreds of thousands of views.

By ‘making friends’ with existing adventure bloggers and giving them free Go Ape experiences they hope to generate positive reports online.

‘Doing good things.’ For example to help support gorillas in Rwanda 25 staff and 85 customers completed a fun run dressed as gorillas.

Will King is the ‘King of Shaves’, creator of the cult shaving brand that has overtaken Wilkinson Sword and Nivea to become number two to Gillette in the UK shaving market.

After 16 years of building the brand Will launched his own razor the Azor one year ago almost to the day. They already have up to 10% market share in the UK.

Lessons learnt:

The Harvard rule of 4
1.    No one has it
2.    Every one will have it
3.    Price for profit
4.    Price for sale

AzoriPhoneEdge.jpgTake an existing product and make it better – eg iPhone, Innocent smoothies.

Change constantly, push boundaries – it also helps to generates news stories for PR coverage.

Will introduced his SPACE strategy, which stands for Satisfaction of Success, Passion and Persistence, Attitude of Action, Confidence and Communication and Enthusiasm and Enjoyment.

There is a great degree of satisfaction in succeeding. If you achieve great satisfaction, whatever that is, it may be having children or running a marathon, but you’ve got to work at that. There’s no substitute for hard work to get that satisfaction of success, which feeds on to the passion and persistence bit. Things don’t happen overnight, it takes years to become truly successful..

You’ve got to have a can-do attitude to get things done; if you can’t be bothered who else will? The confidence and common sense part relates to having confidence in yourself and what you’re doing but not being delusional; if you try to take on Apple with an iPhone it’s a big ask, but if you want to come up with a cover to protect the iPhone clearly that’s something you could do.

There’s a certain amount when you’ve got to have confidence beyond the success that you don’t enjoy, especially when you’re starting out – people won’t give you credit, people don’t believe you’re going to do it, people think you’ll go bust, you’ll owe them money, and you’ve got to imbue them with confidence if you’re going to be successful.

And finally the enthusiasm and enjoyment piece; if you’re not enjoying it then nobody else is, especially if you’re leading a business. So have enthusiasm, have an edge about what you’re about to do because people do look to you, especially if you’re running a business or are involved in senior management. If you can’t get them motivated by transferring your enthusiasm to them, then how are they going to transfer their enthusiasm either to the products you sell or to the services you provide? They’re not.

Many thanks for writing a blog article about Marketing Maestros!  Just a thought – if possible, would you mind adding a link to the webcasts as well?

The smell of fiction

Since the dawn of time in the ‘real world’ people have enjoyed creating complicated hoaxes, spoofs and pranks (April 1 in particular being a popular time of year).

However, I don’t understand the thinking behind the multitude of fake products ‘for sale’ on the Internet. The latest to bamboozle the blogosphere (and Internet savvy Librarians) is the Smell of Books.

As you can see from the images and text below, someone has gone to a lot of trouble to create this ‘product’.

However, the Smell of Books is just one of a range of unexpected items produced by DuroSport Electronics. These include the DuroSport, a digital music player that no longer supports MP3 format songs. The DuroSport website links to the Prism DuroSport Insider Blog which contains many long and detailed posts written by Vladimir Concescu, the Chief Product Engineer at the DuroSport Electric Company.

I have included a photo of him below to indicate the nature of this site.

Either ‘Vladimir’ has too much time on his hands, or is working to some kind of agenda I can’t fathom.

Smell of Books

New Book Smell

The smell of e-books just got better

Does your Kindle leave you feeling like there’s something missing from your reading experience?

Have you been avoiding e-books because they just don’t smell right?

If you’ve been hesitant to jump on the e-book bandwagon, you’re not alone. Book lovers everywhere have resisted digital books because they still don’t compare to the experience of reading a good old fashioned paper book.

But all of that is changing thanks to Smell of Books™, a revolutionary new aerosol e-book enhancer.

Now you can finally enjoy reading e-books without giving up the smell you love so much. With Smell of Books™ you can have the best of both worlds, the convenience of an e-book and the smell of your favorite paper book.

Smell of Books™ is compatible with a wide range of e-reading devices and e-book formats and is 100% DRM-compatible. Whether you read your e-books on a Kindle or an iPhone using Stanza, Smell of Books™ will bring back that real book smell you miss so much.

The latest example is the the website devoted to selling

The Social Media Exchange – For the Cultural and Heritage Sectors

sound delivery logoIt has already been a week since I attended the one day Social Media Exchange – For the Cultural and Heritage Sectors. Organised by the irrepressible Jude Habib, co-founder of Sound Delivery the communications and training company, it was a fun day learning about the uses of social media in museums and libraries.

I have included a selection of my notes from the day below, but most of the content plus updated comments are available through their dedicated website at

Using Web Content to Build and Engage Your Audience

KnowHow NonProfitMadeleine Sugden – KnowHow NonProfit –

What is web content for:

  • Proof of existence
  • Help people to learn something – 24/7 learning
  • Encourage action / change behaviour – find out more/shop etc

What is web content for? – 5 Questions to help you make the most of your web content

1. Audience – will they get beyond your home page?


2. Presentation

  • Are you helping with skim reading?
  • Use headings, blocks of text, links to more content
  • Are you giving too much information?
  • Placing text over images leads to accessibility issues
  • Is content accessible
  • Are you encouraging people to read on?
  • Don’t use – “Click here to find out more about…” unnecessary text
  • Bring in other content to improve experience e.g. weather forecasts from BBC


3. Medium

  • Content isn’t just printed words
  • Are you using the best format?
  • Are you using audio and video content?
  • Is it interesting and fun?


National Museums Liverpool – audio content is key part of page – subject integration – includes transcript alternative –

Great Fire of London – interactive video game type experience for children –

Welcome to Yorkshire – help to build your day in … – dynamic itinerary building tool –

Hackney Museum Virtual Tour – very boring –

4. Marketing

  • Help people find your site
    Search engines – work on Google Search Engine Optimisation, think about subject terms used to find your content. E.g. A search for Victorian homes does not find many of the relevant museums.
  • Use all channels
  • Integrate on and offline activities


Eric Bloodaxe from York Museum has a Facebook page

Mediamuseum on Twitter with 1,700 followers

Eureka museum putting their images on flickr

Wellcome collection – medical London – videos of relevant walks around London –

Imperial War Museum North – their page on the Big Picture Show does not come close to capturing the impact of the actual experience in the museum –

5. Influence

  • From passive users to active users to super active users…
  • Make it easy to interact and take action
  • Influence windows



City of Westminster Group Tweeting or Finding your organisation’s voice on Twitter

Ali Holder – Westminster Libraries


Started in March 2009

Currently lone tweeter

First tweet: Planning to put all news and events in libraries here. Also additions to the 24/7 library of exclusive online resources for library members.

11:34 PM Mar 3rd from web



Getting started:

Buy-in from senior management important as speaking for Westminster

Get tweeting – once or twice a day, most days – not too much, not to little

Set up Business Continuity colleague so they can tweet library closures etc


Mainly post news & events, but also draw attention to existing / regular / ‘hidden’ aspects of service.


  • Organisational voice
  • Broadcasting, not conversing
  • Access restrictions within the work setting
  • Getting customers and potential customers to follow us.


  • Aware of popularity of posts with existing and future followers – e.g. free wi-fi
  • Use search tools to find out what people are saying about us.
  • Proactive use allows us to build trust and demonstrate use to organisation
  • Ditto for users –

Finding our voice – who is tweeting?

Me, us or them?

Future plans:

  • Group tweeting – or groups of tweeters
  • More feeds
  • More use of hashtags
  • Tweeting through events
  • Feedback and conversation
  • How do we measure success?


  • Never forget the biog section
  • Work out who is speaking
  • Provide links
  • Don’t protect updates
  • Watch how others do it
  • Don’t exclude – have a feed

Twitter demographics – typical user – around 30 and urban


Round up discussion

Patrick Forbes – Head of Documentaries at Oxford Film and Television

Nick Reynolds – Editor, BBC Internet Blog

Frances Croxford – Consultant and Account Manager at Jane Wentworth

Be aware of both huge opportunities and significant risks associated with adoption of  social media.

Inherent lack of control.

Before you start make sure you are aware of the external perception of the organisation.

  • Clarity
  • Confidence
  • Transparency

Tell stories which come from both your staff and your audience.


  • Institutions are naturally resistant to social media as it leads to loss of control.
  • Biggest resistors are curatorial staff
  • Cultural change can take between 5 and 10 years