Supporting North West Businesses.
2018 will be notable for the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the e-Privacy Regulation, both of which will have important ramifications for the way that companies capture, handle and record personal data. Helping clients to prepare for the introduction of the new rules has been a key feature of my work for the last few months, but although the regulations come into effect on 25th May 2018, many organisations still have a great deal of work to do. If your business falls into that category and you feel you might need help to prepare - for example, with data capture processes, privacy policies, customer relationship management systems and more - then please get in touch.
2018 will also be an important year for a number of my regular clients, many of which will be entering prestigious business awards at both the regional and national levels. This year will also see larger companies preparing for the introduction of new rules on tax reporting. 'Making Tax Digital' will represent a significant change in the way that companies engage with HMRC, and I'll be working with Jones Harris Chartered Accountants to help raise awareness across the region.
In recent months, I've begun working with several new clients, in fields as diverse as electronic consumer goods, laboratory testing, ICT and cryptocurrency. There are major re-branding projects ahead, as well as challenging price strategy evaluations, AdWords campaigns and new market entry strategies. I've also just signed a publishing deal for my latest novel - more of which later.
All in all, this is shaping up to be a memorable year. If you have big
plans for 2018, please get in touch
and I'll help you bring them to fruition.
The first months of 2017 delivered an impressive number of awards and shortlistings for my clients. Sustainable Building Services fared especially well, being named as a finalist in the following award programmes and categories:
In addition, SBS collected two outright wins in the Efficiency East Midlands 'Building Communities Awards', taking the Innovation Award and the title of '2017 Contractor of the Year.'
Meanwhile, Fleetwood-based accountants, Jones Harris Limited was shortlisted in two categories of the BIBAs - 'Excellence in the Use of IT' and 'Professional Services Business of the Year'. It was also named a finalist in the E3 Business Awards, competing for the 'Customer Service Award' and the title of 'Professional Firm of the Year'.
I've been working with Tim Ashcroft for nearly twenty years ago now, on and off. He and I were colleagues in a business support / economic development company back in the late 1990s and - a few years later -when he founded his consultancy business Innovas, I was more than happy to get involved.
Most recently, this involvement took the form of delivering a half-day marketing workshop in Northwich, Cheshire. The session focused on how small businesses can best communicate some form of innovation. It considered the principles of market segmentation, tailoring messages to suit different groups, and choosing appropriate channels of communication.
The third workshop in a series of four, it was designed to help delegates on a journey in which they apply innovation to gain a meaningful competitive edge. The series is branded as the 8Launch Innovation programme and feedback to date has been very positive. Delivery to a second cohort of businesses is planned for later this year.
On 22nd January, Marketing Minds announced that one of my regular clients, 1 Events Media, had been shortlisted for an award in the 'Integrated Campaign of the Year' category.
The award nomination centred on our work on the annual E3 Business Awards and, in particular, on the creative use of both digital and offline marketing tools. The Awards have always presented something of a challenge in PR and promotional terms, not least because they stand alongside local county-wide and regional awards programmes, which have regional business media as major partners. As a result, many mainstream business publications are unwilling to give coverage to an event they regard as competition.
Faced with a relatively small budget and challenges to securing coverage in conventional business media, the campaign had to combine a multi-channel approach with some innovative thinking. Having built up a substantial following since the first Awards in 2013, we made particular use of tools such as direct networking, e-marketing, CRM and social media. The team also forged useful strategic relationships with partners in the fields of education, professional development, social enterprise and business support, employing links with other networks to build awareness of the E3 brand.
The campaign in 2015 was enormously successful and proved beneficial for a wide variety of partners. The event attracted over 60% more nominations than the previous year and table sales more than doubled. The quality of nominations was also noticeably higher. 1EM secured more sponsorships in 2015 and post-event customer questionnaires/interviews produced improved customer satisfaction scores.
Moreover, at the 2015 Awards, we applied other lessons learned. At the 2014 awards evening, a live Twitter feed had been displayed by the stage so delegates could see tweets as they were posted. Repeating this in 2015 encouraged frenetic activity on the day, spurred on by a dedicated social media manager worked in the venue's gallery, tweeting live results as they happened. In 2014, the Total Social Reach was measured at 1,258,801 but on the day of the 2015 event, the figure was more than double that: 3,133,278. Four days later, Total Reach had risen to over 3.3m.
Work is now under way to promote the 2016 E3 Business Awards, which will be held on Friday 3rd June at the Macron Stadium in Bolton.
In May 2015, I launched my new-look website. I did this at least in part to take account of recent changes that the old site didn't reflect: my growing experience in certain sectors and the greater relevance of services such as content writing for company websites, SEO and blogs. Another key reason was to make the site fully responsive for mobile devices.
Mobile responsive design has become ever more important in recent years and I've devoted considerable time to helping my clients promote themselves to a market in which a growing proportion of their customers choose to view content via phones and tablets. In some markets, the number of mobile visitors substantially outweighs those using conventional desktop PCs and laptops. With Google and other search engines paying close attention to a site's compatibility with smaller devices, it was high time I brought my own site fully up to date.
2015 has seen a pronounced rise in the number of SMEs bidding for a share of large public sector contracts. It's hard to say whether that's the result of legislation helping to break down historic barriers to entry, or simply a symptom of SMEs becoming more ambitious. Whatever the reason, it has meant I've been very busy of late helping clients to submit successful tenders for all manner of projects.
Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) specialist Suave Aerial Photographers is one such business and, in recent months, I have helped it to win places on high-tech research projects and on frameworks for some of the country's best known heritage organisations.
On a larger scale, Sustainable Building Services (UK) - a fast-growing building contractor - has secured multi-million pound frameworks agreements across the country. These range from cyclical decoration projects for local authorities to solid wall insulation schemes that will improve the living conditions of thousands of British families.
2015 looks set to be a challenging and interesting year. I have clients planning some ambitious projects: product launches, exhibitions, new market entry strategies and so on, and they are all applying a good deal of thought to their various initiatives. There are important new websites to create, new funding mechanisms to contend with and complex R&D strategies that could give rise to some fascinating new technologies.
In practice, this means that much of my work this year is going to focus on marketing strategy and planning. I find this interesting because it highlights a continuing trend in recent years; I launched this business more than ten years ago and assumed then that the greatest and most reliable demand would be for the 'active' marketing communications work - press releases, copywriting, devising mailshots and so on. In the early years, that was probably true but more recently - over the last four or five years - there has been a much greater emphasis on strategy and business management, to the point that it now overshadows the more conventional promotional work.
That's not, of course, to suggest that I don't still engage in marketing communications. At some point of every day, I still find myself busy writing blogs, liaising with journalists or helping clients with their website content. It's just that there's now much more emphasis on strategy and I wonder if that reflects a growing sophistication on the part of small and medium sized businesses. Having emerged leaner and more competitive from a deep recession, are SMEs now more aware of the importance of strategic thinking and basing their offering around market demand rather than their own capabilities and traditional operations? Recent experience would certainly support that view.