Monthly Archives: May 2010

World Cup TVs Are A Marketing Gamble

The World Cup is on its way and advertisers are anticipating huge audiences for their half-time messages.

But some companies are already on the pitch before the first ball  has been kicked.

Purchasing the right TV to deliver your World Cup fix is clearly crucial to many people and the electrical stores are already moving in.

Sainsbury’s is offering a Toshiba 40″ for free.  The catch is, you have to buy it before the World Cup starts and oh, England also have to win….could be a problem.

In slightly more generous mood, Currys’ are offering £10 cash back for every goal England scores when you buy a TV worth over £599

Now silly offers have happened before. Remember Hoover’s free flights to America?  The offer was far too good and people flocked to buy new vacuum cleaners. As a result they struggled badly to meet the demands for flights and the whole thing went down as a marketing fiasco.

The £10 cash back is coming from a slightly different place.

It is essentially gambling.

The company works out how many goals England might score, whether they are going to sail through early groups or get knocked out by Germany and then pits that calculation against the punters.

Of course the England fans are in a happy place right now, mentally. They are full of good-will and hope for their team.

From this perspective the offer looks good.

Psychologists would probably tell you that each person who goes for this offer over-estimates their team’s ability by about 75 percent.

Still, I’ll be interested to see what happened if Currys’ get their sums wrong.

As for the offer of a free TV if England win? I don’t think the national side will be troubling Jules Rimet this year.

How You Landed Your Dream Job

Do you remember how hard you worked to get your first job?

Do you think you will ever work that hard again?

I’ve been preparing some tips for 6th form students on how to get into journalism.

As I go over my own story, I’m really impressed by how hard I worked back then! People told me it was an impossible profession to get into and I was determined to prove them wrong.

First I spent a summer at a local radio station, learning what I could for free.

Then I used my spare time at university to get interviews on BBC Radio Leeds.

At one point I think I developed a previously unknown curiosity about religion  in order to take part in some live broadcasts for BBC Sussex.

I entered a contest run by Cosmopolitan magazine and won a prize for an interview with striking miners wives in 1985.

All this eventually led to a place on a post-graduate course in radio journalism. All that, just to get into college!

When I landed a job with the BBC during that year I was delighted. The hard work had paid off (but in reality was just starting.)

When we switch jobs during our working lives, are we really expected to go through that all over again?

In many ways it must be easier, right? We have a history of achievement and the confidence, of a lifetime in dealing with people.

So many work skills are people skills, which transfer well, whatever you find yourself doing.

But if you’re starting a new job or making a career change, I definitely think it’s worth checking in with your past. Maybe you can get inspired, re- learn old tricks or just remind yourself about the need for hard work.

In short, take a lesson from a younger you.

Marketing and PR:A Great Example Of Fresh Thinking

An event where people aren’t selling or networking. What fun!

Last week I went to a book swap in Windsor. It was a fantastic innovative event that was part theatre and part night-down-the-pub.

Don’t get me wrong, books were sold as well as swapped. I’m sure some networking went on too as there were lots of interesting people there.

The thing I loved was how refreshingly different it was. There were no business cards, just the chance to talk to a theatre full of people about a book that you had brought, in the hope that someone else would like to swap with you.

In between these public swaps we ate cake and listened to a very casual interview session with the two guest authors who sat in comfy sofas at the front and chatted about their work. There may even have been a kettle on the go at one point, but I stuck to wine which we brought in from the bar.

Scott Pack @firebookswap, who organized the event is a Windsor resident and Harper Collins publishing man. Did he start the Windsor Fire-station book swap to sell more books? I don’t know. He was certainly generous with his work slush pile which we rootled through at the end.

If you’re in the book business, connecting with book lovers and encouraging them to discover new books, is clearly a good idea. Leaving people feeling that they have experienced something innovative and really rather excellent is even better.

Could your marketing do with this kind of lift?

Good customer service gives Blockbuster the edge

Our local Blockbuster is in a slightly dodgy part of town. I hate leaving the dog tied up outside because I worry she’ll be dog-napped.

But we keep going back there.

Why, you say?

Well, we tried Love Film for a while, you know, the on-line rental by post people, and it was fun to have a regular supply of movies, but it took the spontaneity out of it. As soon as you’re told you have to watch In Bruges, it loses some of its charm.

Video rental stores are having an uncertain time of it;

  • Rapid technological change means the industry’s direction is difficult to predict.
  • DVDs are likely to be phased out soon as Blue Ray and HD DVD fight it out.
  • Online rental-by-post market has expanded massively and is set to continue.

So given the poor economic climate, I really do want to support my local rental store.

But the true reason we keep going back, is the guy behind the counter. He is like a character in a Kevin Smith movie (did you ever see Clerks?)

He’s a slacker dude with a ponytail and a passionate love for film. Oh and people. He loves people. He must do, because he is so nice to everyone.

He helps with film suggestions, he gives you a sneaky extra night on your rental, and he charms the parents and goofs around with the kids. He also sells you really cheap chocolate.

I read today that automated DVD rental machines could save the ailing video rental business by cutting out staff costs entirely.

Now why would you want to do that?

If they got rid of the Blockbuster guy I’d go back to Love Film in a flash and finally get myself out of that dodgy part of town.

Thanks to for some of the information in this blog.

Mad About The Boy

Did anyone see the Boy George bio drama on TV?

It took me back to all that electro music and big hair. It was right in the middle of what I think of as “my” era.

I wasn’t a Blitz kid or a New Romantic but I did have elements of the hair and clothes. The way we wore blusher owed as much to Boy George as it did to Dallas for sure!

It seems strange to think that the teenage Boy George and his cohorts felt so odd and different. To us, they were trend-setters who went on to shape the music and the fashion of the  80s.

It made me wonder about the way tribes work. True genius is often completely “out there”; edgy, difficult and awkward.

But at some point the bizarre and the odd becomes mainstream and we all get to have a crack at it.

Are you a leader waiting for your idea to find its time?

You’d be surprised what catches on when the time is right. Pioneers are very much required.

After all they said Twitter was only for teenagers and now look at it!

Networking: The Only Thing You Can’t Outsource

If you need extra help to boost your business, you can hire experts to do almost anything.

Blog advisors and social media experts will happily run a check over your marketing efforts, suggest blog posts, check your site traffic and target your Search Engine Optimisation. Writers like me will even create a series of articles you can use or help you talk to the right people on Twitter.

What we can’t do is meet and network with these valuable real-life contacts on your behalf.

I have a friend, a talented PA, who had a successful career in the United States. She would dearly love to find her ideal boss. Her dream scenario is to work from home as a “virtual PA”.

I am definitely going to point her towards  LinkedIn as a great place to get her message out, but it occurred to me that what she really needs to do is meet and talk to as many people as possible who can help her find her man or woman.

Women who want to return to work are often held back by the idea that they only ever meet other mums.

Actually a lot of those mums are already carving out new careers for themselves and have valuable contacts. Most have working partners who  spend their day in the business environment.

So my friend needs to take the opportunity at parties, dinners and social occasion to let people know that she’s looking and with a little judicious use of social media, she could find the boss she’s looking for.

Blogging;The Smartest Cost-free Move To Get You On The Map

I don’t write often about the nuts and bolts of blogging.

Perhaps because a blog about blogs is a hall of mirrors too far!

Or maybe it’s because I have a blog column at the excellent online magazine Creative Boom where I encourage people to blog for business and to promote their work. Do check it out.

Suffice to say, I think having a blog is one of the smartest, cost-free things you can do to get yourself on the map. Not only are you giving yourself the chance to spread your message and your expertise, but you are telling the world that you know how to walk the walk of new media marketing.

Twitter followers are all very well but you need to do something with them.

By linking through to your blog on Twitter and LinkedIn, you are giving  people more than just the headlines about you and what you do.

For example,I can use my blog to tell you about some of the things I have been busy with this year, like teaching small business owners how to use social media to promote themselves. I could also use it to offer you the chance to work with me one on one on getting started with social media or I could offer to talk at your event on my career with BBC radio.

I would certainly advise you to try to pass on something useful in your blog, because if the reader doesn’t gain, then there is little incentive to return.

So my best advice is simply to give it a go.