Supporting North West Businesses.
I am currently providing coaching support to a number of clients across the North West who need help with their marketing and communications strategies. These include manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and professional services businesses, all of which have taken advantage of a government scheme that can provide match-funded grants of up to £1,000.
One of these was Yasmin Hussain, founder of the Blackburn based Tri-Namic Balls, which designs and sells novelty sports balls that can be used as gifts or as branded promotional items. She worked with me to develop her own PR and marketing capabilities so that she could capitalise on the promotional opportunities afforded by her recent appearance on the BBC's Dragons' Den programme (September 19th).
Although Yasmin did not secure the investment she was looking for, the Dragons were very supportive and said that whilst they did not see it as an investment opportunity, the company had the potential to do well. This certainly seems to be the case: the programme aired between 9 and 10pm on the Monday evening and in the space of just two hours, the Tri-Namic website received well over a thousand new visits.
Yasmin began working with me in June, knowing that her forthcoming appearance on Dragons' Den would bring new exposure and marketing opportunities. In particular, she wanted to develop her understanding of PR and the media so that she could gain maximum coverage immediately after the programme's airing.
Together, we organised a series of one-to-one workshops and in her final session, which was held the day after the programme had aired, Yasmin used her new-found skills and confidence to begin approaching local, regional and national journalists. As a result, she secured widespread coverage in community magazines, business publications and national trade media without spending a penny on advertising.
“The workshops were really helpful, said Yasmin. “I’ve got a lot of new ideas and a much better appreciation of how to engage with journalists. I was delighted by their responses. Every editor I spoke to was really receptive and the first articles started appearing on line within just an hour or two of contacting them. It has definitely helped to raise the Tri-Namic profile and it’s made me increasingly confident about the company’s prospects for the future.”
For more information about the availability of government funding for coaching support, please contact me.
I recently had the opportunity to begin working with a client called Junior Chefs' Academy, which is based in the Wirral and looking to expand its activities into Lancashire and beyond. The company does an excellent job of teaching primary school children about food; which foods are healthy, where they come from, how to prepare them and so on. Seeing their head chef Paul Cooper in action is an education in itself and his ability to hold the attention of a room full of excited young pupils is a rare thing to behold.
In order to promote the company's work, I worked with the directors to devise and plan a publicity event that would achieve two important objectives. Firstly, it would alert people to the launch of Junior Chefs' Academy's free summer season of workshops in Merseyside and, secondly, it would afford an opportunity to announce the company's readiness to work with Lancashire schools in the forthcoming academic year.
event format entailed bringing a VIP audience to witness one of the sessions
in action, and asking the children to prepare and serve a nutritious three
course meal for the visitors. Amongst others, the guests of honour included
the Lord Mayor of Liverpool and the Lady Mayoress; Eustace de Sousa, NHS
Deputy Director of Children's Health; North West Food Ambassador Philippa
James and the talented young chef Luke Thomas, whose ambition it is to
be Britain's youngest Michelin-starred chef.
The session proved to be a tremendous success, impressing all the VIP guests, the event sponsors and the parents of the children who participated. It also achieved its goals in terms of media exposure, securing coverage on the BBC's North West Tonight programme, in Educate magazine, which covers the whole of the Merseyside area, and in a variety of other local and regional media.
Look out for further news and events as Junior Chefs' Academy continues with its mission to support new culinary talent throughout the region.
Conditions may be challenging for North West entrepreneurs but a number of far-sighted businesses are clearly taking the view that there is no better time to invest in their brands than when their competitors are reining back on their marketing.
Since the start of 2011, I've seen a pronounced upsurge in interest from clients who are keen to reappraise their marketing strategy, to improve their marketing materials or to boost customer awareness through a variety of marketing communication techniques. Some of my newest clients include an international property investment house, a fast growing building contractor, an economic development and social enterprise consultancy, a structural engineering business, a home improvement franchise, a laboratory equipment manufacturer, an expert witness working in the field of occupational therapy and one of the region's largest and most firmly established gas maintenance companies.
Amongst these and other clients, there is a palpable sense of determination
to pursue ambitious strategies for growth and to lead the region's economic
recovery from the front. Like a growing number of others, they are adhering
to a philosophy that is strongly supported by the Chartered Institute
of Marketing's own quantitative and qualitative research, which affirms
that "those organisations that increase and hone their marketing spend
in a recession are those who emerge strongest when recovery comes."