Innovation and enterprise blog

The British Library Business & IP Centre can help you start, run and grow your business

15 posts categorized "Advertising"

04 October 2019

Start-up Day: What’s going on at the British Library

Business & ip Centre 2019 Start-up Day promo banner

With Start-up Day 2019 drawing closer, we take a look at what’s going on in London and introduce you to some of our speakers…

Whether you’re looking for motivation, practical advice or some tailored advice, Start-up Day is for you. Our full day of free talks in the Knowledge Centre cover a range of business topics, from UK trends, advertising, mental health and more, you’ll be able to apply what you learn directly to you and your business practices.

If you want to know more about the UK market trends, Mintel’s Jack Duckett will be looking at the ‘experience economy’ and how businesses can stay relevant in today’s competitive market.

Jack Duckett a employee of Mintel.
Jack specialises in reports exploring, the attitudes and behaviours of different demographic groups.

How do you combine profit with purpose? 24% of last year’s Start-up Day attendees said their motivation to start a business was the opportunity to make a difference. With our partners at Expert Impact, we’ve brought today a panel of case studies to discuss how they built a thriving business that helps makes the world a better place and how you might be able to maximise the positive difference you make as you turn your business idea into a reality. Moderated by Lee Mannion, Head of Communications and Community at Expert Impact

Lee Mannion, communications manager for Expert Impact.
Lee Mannion is the communications manager for Expert Impact. He previously worked as a journalist for four years, writing stories about social enterprises for the Thomson Reuters Foundation and Pioneers Post.

If advertising is causing you confusion, Arjun from the Facebook Family of Apps will be talking you through how to define your advertising goals, reaching your target audience and how to measure a successful advertising campaign and more. This talk will not be webcast.

Arjun Paliwal, Strategic Partner for the Facebook owned Family of Apps
Arjun Paliwal, Strategic Partner for the Facebook Family of Apps.

Mental health impacts both business and personal lives and at last year’s Start-up Day, 16% of people said they wanted to start a business to improve their work/life balance. At our talk on how to build a business without burning out, Mind’s Mental Health at Work Campaign, presented by Dane Krambergar, and Julie Deane OBE, founder of Cambridge Satchel Company will arm you with strategies to keep on-track when it all gets a bit too much.

Mind’s Mental Health at Work Campaign was presented by Dane Krambergar (pictured here).
Dane Krambergar, Head of Workplace Wellbeing Services.

Whether the idea of networking can fill you with dread or confidence, to build a sustainable business, networking is key. Our panel will talk you through how they mastered the art of building their networks to allow their businesses to grow.

Ken Davey, years of experience in the field of business.
Ken is an experienced business to business corporate sales specialist and SME business owner, mentor, author and international business advisor, with a strong business development, marketing, commercial and financial management background.

20% of 2018’s Start-up Day attendees said that lack of finance held them back from starting a business, but can you start-up on a shoestring? Our panel, founders of We Built This City, BathrommsByDesign and Pip & Nut, share their hints and tips for keeping costs low as you scale your business.

Sam Colwil, founder of BathroomsByDesign.
Sam, founder of BathroomsByDesign, a multi-channel retailer who invest heavily in proprietary technology to help service customers more effectively with our 3D design software, customer VR app, online shop, customer portal and ERP system.

Holding the day together will be Lisa Bent, a presenter, writer and qualified Counsellor, best known for her radio show Self-Central on Colourful Radio and host for the Precious Lifestyle Awards and Precious Nights.

Lisa Bent, a presenter, writer and qualified Counsellor.
Lisa Bent

Our keynote speaker will be Steph McGovern, journalist and broadcaster.

Steph has progressed from Black & Decker engineer to BBC Breakfast business reporter and co-presenter as well as fronting Watchdog, Pocket Money Pitch, Made in Great Britain, and Shop Well For Less. In the process, she’s been trained in lean production, explained monetary and economic policy, danced an impromptu Irish jig live on-air – and been subject of an awkward mistaken identity in Grimsby Fish Market.

Steph McGovern, journalist and broadcaster.
Steph McGovern

It isn’t just our free talks taking place on the day, we have a workshop on how to use the Business & IP Centre, plus a tour; free headshots and advice on how business photography and speed mentoring.

Experts will be on hand throughout the day to give advice on a range of topics including:

  • Protecting your business idea
  • Creating a marketing strategy
  • What you need to know about standards and regulations
  • Managing cash-flow
  • Getting your business online
  • Funding your start-up
  • Building your business brand

The 2019 Startup has since concluded. You'll be glad to know that the Business & IP Centre are running workshop and events all year round, giving practical advice or tailored advice and more, for all inspiring entrepreneurs and business owners access to knowlgade to benefit better insight into all things business related. Visit our Business & IP Centre website for more information on how to access and grasp this opportunity for further wealth of information.

03 April 2017

How to research digital trends with eMarketer

eMarketer LogoWe often get enquiries in the Business & IP Centre about how to research digital trends. Such as mobile phone usage and social media growth.

Fortunately, we have access to eMarketer research, which is the first place to look for research about marketing in the digital world. eMarketer PRO is relied on by thousands of companies and business professionals worldwide to understand marketing trends, consumer behaviour. And to get hold of essential data on the fast-changing digital economy. 

eMarketer is unusual for a market research publisher in how much information they give away for through their free newsletters.

But the only way to get hold of their full content is to come into the Business & IP Centre in London and access eMarketer PRO.

Here you will find:

  • Over 200 new reports each year with data, interviews with subject matter experts, and original analysis to provide insights, understanding and context on the most important topics in digital.
  • Aggregated data from over 3,000 sources of research in the data library.
  • Over 7,500 proprietary metrics about the digital marketplace, including media trends, consumer behaviour and device usage.
  • The ability to create customised charts and tables to help tell compelling stories with data.
  • Coverage across 100 countries, including proprietary metrics for 40 core countries.

A person conducting the creation of a research report from the tablet device

eMarketer PRO will help to:

Answer specific questions and access data about digital related topics. Such as how much time do millennials spend with online video? How many smartphone users are there in the UK? What are the key UK digital trends for 2017?

Get deeper insight on digital topics. Such as what is programmatic advertising? What are the pros and cons of developing mobile apps vs mobile websites?

Research topics related to Advertising & Marketing, B2B, Demographics, Email, Industries, Measurement, Mobile, Retail & Ecommerce, Search, Social Media, Video

Benefit from eMarketer Forecasts using eMarketer Estimates up to 2020 for hundreds of Metrics. 

eMarketer Pro Logo

To give you an idea of what you would find, here are some extracts from a typical eMarketer report.

UK Digital Video and TV 2017:
Who’s Watching, How They’re Watching and What It Means for Marketers.


Nearly two-thirds of the UK population will watch digital video content in 2017

eMarketer statistical report, on UK Digital Video Viewers and Penetration, 2015


There will be more digital video viewers than smartphone users in 2017

  eMarketer statistical report, on selected UK digital usage metrics, 2017


Short-form content isn’t necessarily the preserve of the young; older groups are viewing increasing amounts

eMarketer statistical report, on UK Short-Form video viewers by age, Sep 2016


In terms of platforms, YouTube dominates the short-form space and has massive overall reach

eMarketer statistical report, on Top 5 UK Digital videos services, ranked by monthly unique users, Aug 2016


For long-form VOD, the BBC’s iPlayer service dominates, but Netflix is gaining ground

  eMarketer statistical report, on Video-On-Demand services used by UK internet users to view Movies/TV Shows, Aug 2016


So what does this mean for Marketers?

Pre-roll ads don’t work and are mostly disliked on digital channels

eMarketer statistical report, attitudes toward digital video advertising according to UK Short-Form video viewers, Sep 2016


However, pre-roll is still where most of the money is going: 59% of digital video ad spending in H1 2016 went to pre- and post-roll inventory

eMarketer statistical report, on UK Digital display Ad spending share, by format, H1 2016


Social is one area that seems like a good environment for video ads

eMarketer statistical report, App Install Ad channels/formats that are most effective according to mobile app developers worldwide, Q3 2016


Engagement with a video ad on social media often leads to a purchase

  eMarketer statistical report, on Brand-Related social media activities conducted by Social video viewers in select countries, Oct 2016

17 March 2017

Dry Patch - A BIPC success story with a great sense of humour

Dry-Patch-logoSo many people think running a business has to be a serious matter. So it is refreshing when an entrepreneur proves the opposite.

I guess the most well known recent brand with a funny-bone is Innocent Drinks. They have included grass covered vans, a banana phone and slides in their offices, and a whole range of humorous labels on their bottles such as this one:

Innocent bottle

I first met Chris Gomez founder and CEO of Dry Patch a couple of years ago in an Advice Clinic here in the Business & IP Centre in London.

He immediately made an impression with his passion for the product, his professionalism, and understanding of his customers' needs. He also recognised he was addressing a niche market with his first product the Moto Seat Cover below. As a fellow motorcyclist and cyclist, I could see there was a lot of potential in his ideas.


Once his website was up and running, I was pleasantly surprised to see just how much humour Chris had used to promote his brand. Here are a few examples:

  • With a focus on innovation and lifestyle, our premium products will keep you and your stuff dry... from the bottom up
  • We're not hairy bikers or Tour de France wannabes. We don't wear leather or Lycra to and from work but we do love the freedom of 2 wheels.
  • We're not going to ask you to start hugging each other at the traffic lights, but we are all 2 wheeled commuters and suffer the same conditions - from both the weather and other traffic.
  • We know that we are just little pin pricks in the bottom of the 1.5 million 2 wheel commuters in London, but we dream of being big pricks.

I also love the way Chris spells out his brand values in such clear terms:

When it comes to our products, we have 4 key values:

  1. it's kit you want (more on this below).
  2. it is 100% functional - our kit works really well and is made of the best materials for the job.
  3. it has to look great - there's too much stuff out there that works brilliantly for commuters on 2 wheels, that just doesn't look very good.
  4. our kit will always be innovative - we believe innovation is the key to developing brilliant new products that disrupt the rest of the market.

And even better Chris makes fantastic use of the Dry-Patch blog and social media channels. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube.

 Written by Neil Infield on behalf Business & IP Centre

17 September 2015

Book review: Start a business for £99 by Emma Jones


Emma Jones the founder of Enterprise Nation and also an Ambassador of Business & IP Centre has published a new book Start a business for £99. Emma works closely with us in the Business & IP Centre.


She founded Enterprise Nation, which runs diverse campaigns to support business start-up and growth. Enterprise Nation are one of Business & IP Centre partners who run monthly StartUp Saturday events in the Centre. Emma also occasionally chairs our Inspiring Entrepreneurs evening event panels. 

Start a business for £99I’ve chosen this book because of its intriguing title. Having read it, I can see it would be very useful for people who have an idea, and want to make a living from bringing their idea into the market.  

It covers pretty much everything you would need to know from starting wit a business idea, to funding, marketing, social media promotion, growth and much more.

Inside you will find out how to: 

- Come up with a winning idea

- Take your idea from concept to market

- Carry out high-value, Low-cost market - research

- Develop a professional online presence for less

- Make the most of free technology tools

- Raise your profile with no marketing budget required

- Find space and people by borrowing and bartering

The book is divided into four parts making it is easy to navigate. Each part is broken down into chapters for clearer explanations. In each chapter Emma presents a case study. One of her case studies was Imran Merza, the entrepreneur behind Jealous Sweets, who was also supported by our Innovating for Growth programme.

As Emma mentions “Imran and his business partner Taz had no knowledge of the confectionery market and no idea where to begin”. Imran took advantage of the free resources at the British Library Business & IP Centre and conducted his market research to help him build his business plan. It helped them target their audience market and their spending habits. With this knowledge, they knew who to approach to sell their products.

The book provides you with a checklist of essential things you need to start a business and how you can do them all for under £99.

Here are the essentials:

  • Register as Limited Company - £15.00
  • Insurance - £5.00 ( for 1 month)
  • Broadband - £2.50
  • Domain Registration - £4.50
  • Meet Face to Face with Customer - £5.00 (cost of coffee)
  • Logo - £3.30
  • Business Cards - £9.99
  • Home Office - £20.00
  • This Book - £12.99
  • Bottle of bubbly to celebrate - £10.00

Total - £88.28

Julie Boadilla on behalf of the Business & IP Centre 

14 September 2015

How should you choose a product design agency?

This article may cause debate, so (in the interest of full and frank disclosure) I should start by telling you that I run my own product design agency with offices in the UK and China. So, why am I writing an article about how you should choose an agency? “To get more work for yourself”, some might think. Well, I cannot deny that we are always interested in doing exciting new work, but the real reason I am writing this is, genuinely, more altruistic: inventors and entrepreneurs need to know how to choose strong design agencies that will work effectively with them to ensure that the quality of products being produced stays high.

In recent years, we have seen a huge surge in inventors and start-up businesses who have used the services of a design agency, and yet have not been able to take their idea any further than a pretty drawing. When clients approach us, having become disenchanted with other agencies, we often have to start again from scratch to turn their idea into a product that will delight, sell, and make business.

Times have changed. Old-timers like myself used to have only a small handful of colleges to choose from to study product design. People didn’t understand the concept: design agencies were few and far between, and so we could all choose to work with clients big and small. We collaborated with clients who understood product design and needed external services, and we stayed with them on the journey as products made their way into consumers’ hands.

Now we have Dragons’ Den, Kickstarter and Crowd Cube, and it is easier than it has ever been for anyone to turn an idle idea into a reality. The problem is that having the idea is the easy bit. Moulding that idea into a technically feasible and commercially viable product is actually very difficult. So, in this crowdfunding age, we are seeing designs from some agencies which are either technically not feasible, or commercially not viable - or at worst, both. Some of these agencies say they cannot even prototype what they have designed. How can that be possible?

Past courses such as “What Next for Your Invention?”, which I am invited to run by the British Library, can be invaluable in explaining how to take a product to market. But knowing the best route to market isn’t synonymous with knowing who best to work with to get you there. So, how should you choose a reliable product design agency?

1.  Look at the agency’s case studies.

Make sure they have a track record in taking a product to market. Not just drawing it, but living with their product and standing by their clients as it rolls off the production line. If you see a lot of computer drawings but no final products and no client testimonials, beware.

Project- TEG camping stove

Project- TEG camping stove, design illustration demonstrated plugged into included power bank

Project- TEG camping stove. Client Spencer Turner: attended British Library Workshop. Image of first working prototype. Currently in production. Coming to market Q2 2016.


2. You do not have to limit yourself to a category, but it can help.

If it is relevant, think about the demands of your category. Baby products, for example, obviously require more testing and certification than an ordinary household product. We see ideas which we know, with one glance, would fail a test house review.

3. Ask the agency about their knowledge of route to market in your particular sector.

Take toys, for instance. We have designed and invented toys for 15 years, and we know that if a toy needs to sell mass market for £10 then we cannot design something that is going to cost more than, at the most, £2 to make.

 4. Do their case studies really explore different concept executions?

Or are you simply looking at different styling of the same concept? If you are going to invest in taking a concept to market, you need to make sure you are backing the right one. If not explored fully at the outset, you open the door for a competitor.

Project Colandish Client Housewares Germany, product demonstration (Multi function: colander and serving bowl

Project Colandish Client Housewares Germany, product demonstration

Project: Colandish. Client: Housewares Germany: Bang Creations Internal project, manufactured by bang Creations and sold through to distribution. Winner of German Design Award. In Market September 2015. 


5. Have the design agency walked the manufacturing lines?

This is one of the most important points: if you can’t make it, you can’t sell it. Theory is great, but does your design partner have experience of several different production methods? Do they understand materials, and work with people who make things? They need to understand how to manufacture for the market, not just prototypes.

6. How big is their network? 

Only the best can really employ great talent in every department. A great design agency might have a top mechanical engineer sitting next to an electronics expert, for example. Many agencies will have built up a strong network of talent that they can lean on to help on projects. It’s a bit like employing an architect to design your house: they will manage the build, but will still bring in plumbers and surveyors and so on. You should expect the same of your product design partner - they need to bring in the best people for your project as it progresses to market.

Culina Designs, product demonstration (sealing a bag of bread)

Culina Designs, product demonstration (sealing bin bag)

Client Culina Designs: Project Sealabag: in market September 2015.


7. Last but not least: do you think it will be fun working with your designer?

Product development is very tough to get right, and you have to invest heavily prior to getting a return. The exciting part of development sees new opportunities arise, but problems have to be overcome daily. Ideally, you need to approach the process positively, and feel confident that your development partner will be there for you and always come to you with solutions.

When looking for a design agency to collaborate with you on your idea, keep the above points in mind. Beginning with sub-standard design will only be a waste of your time and money: don’t be afraid to be clear about what you want.


By Stefan Knox, founding director of Bang Creations

25 July 2014

Book review - The Name of The Beast by Neil Taylor

Book Cover of: The Name of the Beast (The perilous process of naming products, companies and brands) by Neil TaylorNaming your business, brand, product, company etc should be an easy and simple process but getting it right seldom is.

Neil Taylor, the author of The Name of The Beast, was a senior naming consultant at global brand consultancy Interbrand - the company behind such household names as Prozac, Expedia, Hobnobs and Viagra - and states that the name is the one part of the brand that you hope will never change as it is the primary means of identification for a brand.

Brands change logos, straplines, headquarters, people – some of them even dramatically change what they do (Nokia started off making forestry products and rubber boots). But often the name is the one common thread that runs throughout the entire history of a company or product. So getting the name right is imperative and most hope never to change the name.

That means that when brands do change name, it’s a big and often costly deal. Remember when Opal Fruits became Starburst? When Marathon became Snickers? Oil of Ulay became Olay? Jif became Cif? All names that are still around today.

But what about Consignia – the new name that The Post Office-Royal Mail opted for? There was such a public fuss about the name – “Doesn’t sound like the national institution that Royal Mail does”, “Sounds like a brand of anti-perspirant (Insignia)”, “Consignia means (appropriately) lost luggage in Spanish”, “Unfortunately they forgot that a more common use of “consign” is to consign to the rubbish bin” - that the name Consignia has now been consigned to history as a massive failure.

The Name of the Beast (The perilous process of naming products, companies and brands) looks at the practical aspects of naming. How do you come up with names in the first place – what sort of name should you go for, what makes a good name etc? How do you make sure it doesn’t mean something awful in another language? How do you make sure that you don’t steal someone else’s name by accident (and then get taken to court)? How do you convince cynical colleagues, customers and journalists that your name isn’t worthy of the usual frenzy of devilish derision?

Within this humorous and easily readable book are tales of big brands, naming disasters, a smattering of insider knowledge and how 21st century super-brands like Google and Starbucks have built their empires on names with strong stories behind them.

Ziaad Khan on behalf of Business & IP Centre

10 July 2014

Make a Date with Business


A few months ago dating business Lovestruck was headlined in the business news for winning Best International Business at the British Young Business Awards.  Lovestruck was not only a success in the UK but their Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder is quoted as saying “Many felt that the odds were far too stacked against us when creating a new premium online dating brand to challenge the entrenched, resource rich competition, so we are delighted that our growth abroad in particular Hong Kong and Singapore has been recognised”.

Soon after this award announcement I noticed Business & IP Centre customers looking for this topic in our collection and it seems our customers also have ambitions to create dating businesses.  I too began to investigate the subject on our resources and databases for news and market research that are available free in the centre helping me to understand the industry and landscape for dating and matchmaking businesses. 

The dating and matchmaking business is not a new business idea and old adverts in printed format and business models have been around as long as the classifieds in newspapers.  In this BBC article there are examples of dating sites going way back in history.  As recent as the late 1990’s , I saw in printed copies of Your Dog magazine held at the British Library that pet owners advertised details of their dogs – but with the owners personal details for a match made in dog harmony.  However, with the growth of the web, there have been many changes both on setting up dating businesses and on using the sites in the dating game. There is little or hardly any stigma left for using sites and services.  The current market is prolific and was valued at £170million in the UK by Swedish company Metaflake. This is a trend that is also replicated in other regions of the world as demonstrated by this world map.

Source: Wikipedia Online Dating Services

Dating service businesses are formed usually on their own genre, with a unique selling point (USP) based on clientele, such as Lovestruck, eHarmony,, My Single Friend and Christian Connections.  Newspapers and even radio stations aim for their own readership and audience with their sites such as Guardian Soulmates by the Guardian and ‘The Dating Lab’ by The Telegraph.  Some of these businesses are steering an industry on issues for the benefit of their customers and their own future standards.  There are two main bodies that are a good starting point for researching the industry and they are the Association of British Introduction Agencies (ABIA) (see also their directory) and Online Dating Agency (ODA).  Some of the concerns are authenticity and fake profiles, data privacy and security and consumer protection. The associations are set up to be used by premium brands to put together a code of conduct to protect the industry against poor practices and to uphold high standards of behaviour by the dating service providers in the UK. If you are thinking of setting this type of business, these two sites are useful for tips and best practices for consumers and providers.

In terms of the market research available into this sector, there is a useful Key Note Singles Market report in the Business & IP Centre – produced a couple (no  pun intended) of years ago but the analysis, facts and figures are still insightful for understanding customers behaviour.   For example, I discovered that 11.7% of the surveyed Singles Market confirmed that they had met their partners online. Regionally, those in the North (27.2%) were most likely to have met dates or partners online, while there were no respondents living in the East Midlands, South West or Wales. Personally, I find this is hard to believe!

When asked ‘What is the worst thing about being single?” they provided amusing answers which in highest ranking are “No one to talk to”,  “Having to Do the Household Chores all by Myself”, “Having to Go to Places on my own”, “Lack of Physical Contact” ,“People assuming you have a Partner”, or “Money Worries”. With answers like these, there are 32.2% of the single population actively dating. 

Another interesting fact is where people like to meet. When asked the question “Where have you met potential dates or partners?” the respondents gave the following answers in ranking order – Place of Education, Pubs and Bars, Club and Work with the least favourite places for meeting people are surprisingly Online, Dating Agencies and Speed Dating.  This doesn't actually distract from the fact that the dating business can be profitable and online with people still using these sites. Speed Dating may not be popular according to this survey but in this similar format, we hold regular events at the Centre called ‘Speed Mentoring’ sessions with experts to give you advice on the topic of day.   This works really well for networking and making contacts.

If you use the London Underground trains, you cannot avoid noticing the ‘Tube’ adverts aimed at this same single market in the city. You can see advertisements with various agencies vying for the competition to gain some market share with some eye-catching adverts appealing to commuters. The adverts also show the various brands on the market, the differences in their target audience and inner aspirations in a partner such as the Christian Connections advert tailored for Christian customers. 


Source: London Underground Advertising campaign by Christian Connections

Big Data generated by online business are also used to market businesses and to understand client preferences and behaviour. Data can be useful to push adverts, to create apps and for further innovations but they don’t seem to guarantee success in relationships as mentioned in this BBC article.

In a discussion with one of our Innovating for Growth delivery partners, Christopher Pett, who is a Product Development Consultant at Makerco, observed that "this is a great example of a service offer that is expressed from the customer's point of view, which people so often forget to do. In one advert, the guy was saying how he listened to his prospective partner's favourite album before their first date. That's such a simple way to demonstrate that users will establish meaningful relationships with each other before they meet and take time to get to know each other. It's a tacit offer that has an emotional impact on potential customers”. 

The customers are at the core of these businesses.  Their buy-in to your service or product will help you gain more of the market and in turn, run a successful business.  Don’t waste anytime – make a date to use the resources such as the Cobra reports on Dating Agencies or Speed Dating Organiser in the centre to research about your particular idea.  The British Library is also an ideal place to spend time socially such as looking at our exhibitions and as a meeting place with someone in our restaurant for a date!

Seema Rampersad on behalf of Business & IP Centre

Follow Seema on Twitter: @SeemaRampersad

16 May 2014

Book Review - Copywriting: Successful writing for design, advertising and marketing

Copywriting: Successful writing for design, advertising and marketing book coverI came across this book, written by Mark Shaw, while I was browsing the Small Business Help shelf in the Business & IP Centre, looking for a more recent book on the same topic, which hasn’t arrived yet. 

Copywriting: Successful writing for design, advertising and marketing, published by Laurence King Publishing Ltd in 2009, is a practical guide on how to use creative writing in business for the following purposes:

•    Advertising and direct marketing
•    Retailing and products
•    Catalogues
•    Company magazines and newsletters
•    Websites and digital formats
•    Brand, marketing and internal communications

Even though the plain book cover does not imply it, the most interesting parts of the book are the numerous visual examples, based on real cases, which the author uses to illustrate every point he makes.

He also presents interesting interviews with creative directors, and case studies of companies and other organisations on their approach to creative writing in business.

  Amnesty International flyer created by Different Kettle

The above illustration is one of the examples presented in the book. In the case study on direct marketing, the creative director of the graphic design agency Different Kettle explains how he created this hard-hitting leaflet for Amnesty International.

Another interesting feature of the book are the practical tips that the author gives at the end of each chapter, including:

•    A checklist, with the main tasks to be done
•    A practical exercise
•    A round-up of the main points of the chapter

Overall, the book is comprehensive and well structured as a practical guide, with a lot of illustrations. If the text was made a little easier to read it would be better. Nevertheless, even though the book is not very recent most of the suggested techniques and tips apply regardless of time.  

Irini Efthimiadou on behalf of Business & IP Centre

17 March 2014

10 Reasons Why Your Content Isn’t Getting Read

Managing Director of Grow, Alasdair Inglis, shares his top tips for making sure your online content gets read.

A recent study on internet trends published by KPCB estimated that by 2015, 8 zettabytes of content will be created and shared every day on the internet. To put that in perspective, 1 zettabyte= 8 trillion gigabytes. To put that another way, if you put that information onto floppy disks, the disks would cover every inch of the Earth’s surface 1,600 times over. 





[CREDIT: IronRodArt - Royce Bair ("Star Shooter")

So how can you make sure that what you have to say gets heard above the racket?

Here are 10 of the biggest mistakes small businesses make when creating their own content, and how you can avoid them.

1. You Don’t Write Unique, Useful Content

Too many small businesses completely misunderstand the point of their blog, and end up sticking a bunch of posts up that are little more than drawn out sales-pitches.

We live in a world that is saturated by advertisements, and as a result we’ve all become pretty immune to them.

Your blog should provide readers with something valuable. If your company manufactures/sells fishing rods, you’d better make sure that your content provides fishing enthusiasts with information that they appreciate and want to read about, ie: “The Top 6 Fishing Destinations In The World” or “Our Favourite Fishing Rods Released in 2013”.

However, as well as providing useful content for your target audience, it’s also important that the content you provide is unique.

Make sure that the content you produce gives readers something new, a different perspective or content they simply can’t find elsewhere.

2. You Don’t Know Your Audience

A recent survey showed that, contrary to popular opinion, middle-aged women share the most online content out of everyone.

However, by looking at the most popular social publishing sites you probably wouldn’t have guessed this due to the huge amount of youth-orientated content on popular sites like Buzzfeed and Upworthy.

We’re not suggesting that you tailor your content to appeal to middle aged women in a bid to increase shares (unless your target audience really is middle-aged women), but do be sure to do a little research into who reads and shares your content.

By doing this, you’ll have a better idea of who you’re writing for, and what content they’ll appreciate the most.

3. You Don’t Embolden Important Points

Emboldening important points is an easy and effective way to make your content easily digestible.This means that your readers can quickly scan your article for the most important and relevant points. That said, don’t over-do it as too much bold is the same as no bold text at all.

Your readers are coming to your website to be informed,make sure that you get your point across as quickly and efficiently as possible.

4. You Don’t Have That Human Touch

Whilst it is important to make sure that your writing is concise, focused and to-the-point, it’s also important that your readers get a good sense of your personality too. People become attached to certain sites and writers due to the connection they feel with the writers, and this is an important part of getting your readers to share your content and keep coming back for more.

The way a story is told, and the character of the narrator, can be a great selling point for your content.

5. You Don’t Use Guest Bloggers

Using guest bloggers is a great, low-effort way to make sure that your content gets read.

Firstly, and most importantly, a guest blogger is going to be able to introduce your blog to their whole readership. This gives you the opportunity to win over some of their readers too, which in turn will result in a wider reach and more shares for your own content.

Your guest blogger is also going to widely share their guest-written content, which again will provide your site with a wider reach.

6. You Don’t Use Links

When writing good content that’s going to get shared and read, it’s essential that you include internet links, both outbound (going to other websites) and inbound (going to your own website).

When you link to other websites, it not only shows that you have thoroughly researched your subject and really know your stuff, but it should also point your readers in the direction of other resources and blogs that they’ll enjoy. You should also use inbound links to your other interesting and relevant content. This will make it easier for your readers to find more content that they’ll enjoy and keep them on your website.

7. You Don’t Use Numbered List Points

Websites, like Buzzfeed, that are constantly shared know that creating numbered blogs and headlines is a great way to get your content read and shared.

Creating a numbered list of points ensures that the blog remains focused and allows readers to know exactly what they’re in for.

It also shows readers who are looking for a solution that the content will be specifically geared towards their problem.

As well as this, the structure of a numbered list inherently lends itself towards being scan-friendly, which means that your content can be speed-read.

Perhaps most importantly, it immediately shows potential readers that there will be a range of solutions for their problem.

8. You Don’t Produce Content Regularly Enough

Google loves regularly updated sites which are brimming with new, up-to-date content. This means that by regularly posting on your blog, you can improve your search engine rankings.

As well as this, someone doesn’t become an authority in their field overnight. It takes tenacity to keep posting new and interesting articles, but this tenacity is rewarded with your brand becoming more and more reputable.

It’s also important to remember that your content has an expiry date!  It’s important to regularly post new content, to show readers that what you do is always up to date and therefore relevant.

9. You Don’t Use Different Media

Variety is the spice of life. You should try to introduce new elements to your content, such as video blogs, infographics and info-products.

Everyone learns in different ways, so by introducing more visual media to your content, you can attract a whole new audience who prefer visual information.

There are other advantages too, as some information lends itself towards video seminars or picture guides.

10. You Don’t Use Keyword Research

Make sure you know what the most searched terms are for what you’re writing about and make sure that they are in your headline.

If your target audience is searching for “Best ways to improve email marketing”, make sure that your blog post will show up on their search.

You can also use keyword research tools to find out what questions your audience are asking and what they’re searching for. This means that you can tailor your content to suit your readers and attract new readers too.

If you want to learn more about how to market your business more effectively, come along to Grow's monthly Online marketing masterclass in the Centre. You can also apply for a free Ask an Expert session with Alasdair.

 Alasdair Inglis on behalf of Business & IP Centre 

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14 March 2014

Make PR a priority for your business!

Jessica HuieFounder of JH Public Relations and Colour blind cards, Jessica Huie shares her top tips to help you get media coverage for your business.

However brilliant your product or service, if nobody knows about it then your business will struggle to make sales, and a business without sales is a failure in motion.

Here are some tips on how to make sure your business is planted firmly in the awareness of your target audience.

Inject your human interest story into your branding

Nothing is more powerful than authenticity in PR. If you genuinely believe that your business adds value to your customer’s lives, then it’s important to communicate that personally.

By being visible rather than relying on your faceless brand to sell itself, you allow your customers the opportunity to understand the ethos behind your brand and your business values, and if you are marketing to the right audience then your values will resonate with them and make them more likely to buy.

Do this by asking yourself what the inspiration behind your business was, what is your vision? How are you improving, changing or inventing something which will benefit your audience?

Give your customers an insight into the entrepreneur behind the business through your PR materials and watch how effective this PR approach can be.

Be patient and consistent

PR is not a quick hit.  It requires a consistent and ongoing effort in order to be most effective.

A customer’s buying journey begins with awareness followed by familiarity before moving to consideration purchase and then loyalty. So the more that customers become aware of your brand the better – hence where the outdated all publicity is good publicity line comes from.

Equally, unlike advertising (which is more expensive,) PR is not guaranteed. It requires the creation of a news angle e.g. ‘Huie’s brand secure record sales targets in Selfridges,’ ‘Celebrities endorse Huie’s brand,’ in order to capture the imagination of the media and inspire them to write about you/your business.

Create a 12 month plan

If we consider the first part of the year, New Years Day, Valentines, Mother’s Day, these occasions may well have an impact on your customer’s buying patterns.

Creating a press release which is ‘pegged’ to these occasions will increase your chance of securing media interest, so plan ahead and be aware of media lead times so you don’t miss out on a PR opportunity.

Stay abreast of current affairs and their relevance to your business

If we look at the stories currently in the media, each of these news stories may represent a PR opportunity depending on your business or service.

By staying aware of current news you can include reactive PR into your strategy as well as proactive, producing press releases offering a contribution to a current news debate, a solution to a problem being discussed or an alternate opinion.

Truly understand your customer

A useful exercise is spending time thinking about your customer in depth. Where do they live, how old are they, where do they grocery shop, go on holiday, are they property owners? Once you can answer these questions you’ll begin to create a picture of your customer which will allow you to easily move on to the next point…

Seek out ideal potential partners for cross promotion

By understanding your customer you can identify other brands that share your target market. This synergy creates the perfect opportunity to collaborate with brands who may be bigger or more established than you and cross promote by marketing to their audience as well as your own and of course returning the favour.

List five brands that are not your competition, but share your target audience as your partnership targets.

Be giving

It was one of rap music’s richest entrepreneurs, Russell Simmons who said “you can never get before you give.” It’s a blueprint which can be hugely effective once you work out what you can actually afford to give away. Free stuff creates a buzz, awareness, encourages people to try your products, creates positive brand association and a buying habit.

In this era it’s easy to create a product designed purely to be given away free. Think e-books and audio tapes, the ideas are endless.

Be creative

Creativity for me, is the best part of PR. Unlike advertising, which has a very set agenda and sales pitch, PR is whatever you decide to make it.

Are you a fashion brand? Then create a piece for the royal baby, run a take-away food chain? Deliver to the homeless on Christmas day.

PR can do good whilst creating opportunities to secure media coverage in the process.

Think global

Your business reach is only as limited as your mindset. If you or your PR team are creating a press release, why limit your focus to the UK?

The vast majority of media is also online now and if your business is international then you’d be crazy not to raise awareness globally.  That said, focus on one territory at a time for maximum impact.

Ensure you have effective tools

Undeniably the most important tip. Your press release is your business shop window and will create a first impression.

Ensure it is professional, and includes all of the crucial information, and use the first paragraph to sum up your news angle succinctly.


If you want to learn more about how to make the most of PR opportunities on a tight budget, come along to Jessica’s workshop How to generate PR for your business held in the Centre.

Jessica Huie on behalf of Business & IP Centre


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