Feathers and Diamantes aren’t everyone’s taste


I recently gave a talk to small business owners on brand storytelling. To explain one of my points on what you should be posting as a small and upcoming brand, I use the following analogy:

Imagine if you will, you are pootling (my word for wandering) around town and come across an independent boutique; you walk in and the bell on the door dings and the windchimes chime. So much for going unnoticed?! You’re spotted immediately by the overdressed owner as she pretends to busy herself with some piece of tat.

Anyway, as you make your way around the postage stamp sized shop with the owners’ eyes firmly on you, you soon realise there’s nothing for you there. Why? Because it is filled to the rafters with THEIR taste! You know, the bling notepads, the feather calligraphy pens, the overpriced soaps which you are supposed to choose and slot in to the so conveniently placed paper bags.

My point? The shop owner has stocked her shop with items SHE herself likes, with not so much as a thought for you or I. This the same as if you are a small brand posting social media content, it’s not all about you and what you want your brand to be. Think about your audience and what they might want to see and a little you is fine – you are after all part of the brand, just not the latest snap of what you had to eat on your weekend away at Bamburgh!

Keep that balance, 80% the brand, 20% you is a good benchmark.



We Heart Holly


Holly Willoughby started her TV career in the noughties. From Surprise Surprise, to Dancing on Ice to The Voice, Holly has become the nation’s sweetheart.

With her net value calculated at $8 million dollars some 2 years ago, she is a brand in herself.

Part of the prestigious James Grant Management agency, home to Ant and Dec and friend of mine, Andi Peters, Holly is now looking to launch her own brand this Autumn, Truly ‘A new lifestyle brand’ which has already seen a hugely positive response. Find out more: http://www.truly.co.uk/

So, what is it about Holly that makes us love her so much?

She is likeable! Her curvy frame, infectious smile and totally down to earth manner is makes her approachable, she is wholesome and represents the best friend we’ve always wanted. She also makes us aspire to be more like her which we feel is achievable!

Look out world, for one very successful brand who knows exactly who its target market is!

The fastest growing language, emojis


Today is World Emoji Day, I know I know, there’s a day for everything these days isn’t there?!

However, since the arrival of these little storytelling conduits, by mobile internet employee Shigetaka Kurita in 1999 we’ve come to rely on them quite somewhat.

Emojis started their life in Japan in the late nineties but didn’t become popular in the UK until 2010 onwards, when our technology caught up, forming what is now a global language of its own. In fact it is the fastest growing language than any other ancient form of communication, including hieroglyphics!

Emojis are now a huge part of our popular culture, not only that, but they are a conduit to the way in which we tell stories both personally and professionally on a daily basis. 72% of 18 – 25 years find it easier to communicate via emojis as opposed to text.

Although these little colourful character are enabling generation y to communicate and the rest of us for that matter, is it not also stopping them from getting a proper handle of the English language?

Are you currently using emojis in your business? Emojis can be a great way of adding weight to your copy. However, I would be inclined to use emojis more if you are targeting a younger demographic such as a beauty brand aimed at 13-19 year olds. Remember your audience.

Mind the gap

mind the gap

When I decided to go it alone two and a half years ago, it was scary but I soon heard myself saying “Why didn’t I do this before now?”

I cannot tell you how often I speak to nine to fivers who say “I’d love to go it alone, but I don’t know what I’d do..?!”

“That’s simple.” I reply.

Consider what you are passionate about, whether that’s food, fashion or folk. Find the gap in the market and identify the pain (read more: http://blog.folksy.com/2015/09/14/how-to-find-your-niche)

McDonalds recently launch McDelivery when they recognised the pain of their customers having to travel to get their fix. Though a little behind the times, Deliveroo and others have been quite successful at this for some years now, this is McDonalds identifying the pain and creating a solution.

So stop coming up with excuses, get that pen and paper out and be creative, what will you do?


NEOM or Neom

neomI often talk about the importance of a name when it comes to a brand.

Nowadays, when brand strategists are working on the creation of a brand and its values, they are often thinking of the consumer’s purchasing and searching behaviours as it were.

SEO experts are enrolled to help brands capture every search term possible for their brand, they will even go so far as to list misspelt terms such as ‘Dacebook’ or ‘Faxebook’.

So, when it comes to the small (and lovely, might I add?) wellbeing brand based in Harrogate, NEOM they’ve got more than they bargained for choosing that four lettered brand name… Neom is also the new name for the yet-to-be-built fairy tale city in the sand in Saudi Arabia. Currently being searched tens of thousands of times in the UK, thus creating unforeseen brand awareness and sales for the wellbeing brand.

Now that’s a good name!

The next gen of entrepreneurs


I am delighted to have been asked to be on the Careers Panel for the Ahead Partnership careers briefing at Hanson School, Bradford next week.

The Ahead Partnership does incredible work within the community, helping to connect both educational bodies to enterprises.

Put it this way, when I was at comprehensive secondary school the careers advice was, let’s just say lacking. It consisted of two sessions a year, an hour long each where I was given a questionnaire to fill out. If I answered mainly A’s, which is what I did, I was told I would be a baker! Really? Me? Someone who would rather order my favourite curry house takeaway, I don’t think so.

The point I am trying to make here, so ineloquently, is that times have moved forward and I don’t think ‘being an entrepreneur’ was ever given to me as an option when I was at school. Hence, why I jumped at the chance to pass on my pearls to these Hanson school students.

Let’s hope I help to inspire the next generation of Richard Bransons!

Find out more about what they do: http://www.aheadpartnership.org.uk/

The best feeling in the world


Is it just me or does every single ad agency out there seem to be pushing an agenda based around making customers feel liberated?

It has to be said that there is no greater feeling than feeling liberated, however it is also a rich and rare feeling which cannot be manufactured.

Boots summer TV ad is accompanied by ‘Everybody’s Free (to feel good) by Aquagen – their choice of music for some years now. Likewise, Listerine’s new TV ad ‘Bring out the bold’ is all about channelling your inner boldness as it were.

Owner of successful retailer Joe Browns, Simon Brown says ‘The customers love us because we make them feel liberated and I think feeling liberated is the best feeling in the world!”

Simon Brown has created his entire business model on this.

The truth is in the pudding it would appear!

Giddy Up!

Last Saturday saw me arriving at a quintessentially English sight…

I was invited to go and watch the business workshop taking the UK by storm.

Business Horsepower was founded by Julia Felton. Julia works alongside business people to help them better their leadership, teamwork and communication skills through workshops with the horses.

There is something hugely wholesome about working alongside these beautiful animals and by joe there is a real knack to getting them to do what you want. Activities include guiding the horse without reigns from behind, guiding the horse with reins from behind and guiding the horse from in front (all the time manoeuvring around obstacles).

The entire workshop begs the question ‘Are you a clear communicator?’

This workshop was not just for business people, but for everyone. We have never been trained or educated on how to behave around people, we just behave the way we do. It’s not taught in school as such.

As I was walking around with the horses it made me question the way that I conduct myself with clients, with my partner, with my friends, with my family… the list goes on.

I left the day enlightened! More in tune with myself and with how I wanted to portray myself, self improvement quota, filled.

Find out more: businesshorsepower.com/

Face to Face Sells


Over the past few weeks I have upped the ante when it comes to attending networking events and I will tell you the reason why.

We all know that attending an event takes a bit more effort, time and perhaps even money than some other marketing activities, but I am telling you now they are as important if not more than ever in this techy world.

People buy people.

Whether you’re in a department store shopping for a new foundation or at a drink’s party chatting to a mortgage advisor, that face to face exchange is priceless.

You cannot build the same rapports over social media or even telephone to the same extent, you just can’t.

In fact there are studies that show, the more outlandish the location you encounter someone you may buy or sell to, the more success you may have. Naturally there has to be a latent or prominent requirement for the product or service for an exchange to happen, however I guess it is that out of context setting which can make the conversation ever more interesting!

A face to face also provides the perfect stage from which to tell your story, using your body language, eye contact and all of those other ways of communication to do your thing!

I am heading out now to attend an Opera and hope to meet someone who owns a hot air balloon company and who knows, I may well book a ride!