All posts by bluejmarketing

MyNetwork for Women launches in Doncaster

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It’s been quite a week of ‘firsts’ for Jude Chan and Sue Singh. Last Friday, they made their first radio broadcast on BBC Radio Sheffield to promote the launch of MyNetwork for Women. Monday saw the first official meeting of the new networking group, with opening speeches by Mayor Ros Jones and Councillor Majid Kahn, followed by another first for Jude…her welcome speech to the assembled group of women who had come along to find out what MyNetworkis all about.

Both Jude and Sue admit to being nervous about speaking in public, but they also both agree that facing up to their fear and taking that first step to overcome it has given them new found confidence. And that’s exactly what MyNetwork hopes to achieve…as Jude says:

“We want to help women from all backgrounds to grow in confidence, gain skills, build a business and create that work-life balance we all dream of.”

I first met Jude through my role as a Doncaster 100 mentor, when she needed some help with marketing her business, Buggalugs. Right from the start, I was impressed by Jude’s determination to succeed, her willingness to take on board new ideas and to learn new skills. So, when she explained her idea to start a support group for other women like her, trying to juggle the differing demands of family life and those of a small business, I was happy to help out.

I was delighted to be present at the launch to see her plans come to fruition and so many women come along and express an interest in becoming a member.

It’s also pleasing to see that Jude and the MyNetwork team are not the only ones focusing on the need to support women. David Cameron has launched an initiative to end the gender pay gap and has stated, “Supporting women to fulfil their potential could increase the size of our economy by 35%.” But unequal pay isn’t the only problem women face in business. Changing attitudes, breaking down barriers, tackling the “boys’ club” culture and initiatives like Jude’s, to encourage women to develop and believe in their own abilities, will all be vital to inspire women to aim high and invest in their own futures.

So what’s next for MyNetwork?

Over the next few weeks, Jude and the team will be busy signing up all the new members and preparing for the next meeting on 21st September. If you want to find out what they have planned, follow MyNetwork for Women on Facebook, or email Jude at: mynetworkforwomen@gmail.com

Jackie Wilson, Dip.M MCIM Chartered Marketer
Blue J Marketing

Jackie is a Chartered Marketer, Doncaster 100 Mentor and Yorkshire Business Collective Advisor with extensive management experience across a wide range of industry sectors and a passion for delivering effective marketing solutions.

Market Research…a guide for Start-ups and Small Businesses

The Government has just published the 2014 Small Business Survey and it seems that confidence in this sector is improving…so much so that 73% of SMEs are planning for growth. However, only 28% feel confident to enter new markets and 66% are worried about competition.

That’s not too surprising, we can all feel a little hesitant about entering unknown territory. So, we’ve put together a useful guide on market research and how you can use it to explore new market opportunities, or just to make sure you stay one step ahead of the competition.

Market Research…a guide for Start-ups and Small Businesses
Whilst experience, common sense and intuition may tell you a great deal about your chosen market, some more in depth research to establish the viability of your new product or business venture is often necessary. Unfortunately, the market research industry is prone to jargon and can seem incomprehensible to beginners. To help you get to grips with this essential business tool, let’s look at some of the most common methods of research and explain how you can use them to better understand your market.

Desk Research
Often the fastest and cheapest option, this simply means analysing available information on the market you wish to research. This could include:

  • Published research from companies such as TGI, Mintel or Euromonitor
  • Online research from Google and other search engines
  • Trade association research
  • Trade magazine research
  • Government statistics and surveys

If your business is already up and running, you should also look at sales reports, stock records, company accounts, customer records and customer complaints.

Whilst desk research is a quick and easy way to get a broad overview of the market, it can be out of date and lacking in detail. It is best used to identify areas for further research.

Quantitative Research
Uses surveys, questionnaires or panels to ask large samples* questions like:

  • How many?
  • How often?
  • Where from?

It then measures and analyses the answers to produce objective, numerical data for analysis and interpretation. The research can take place by phone, online or in the street.

It is most commonly used to calculate:

  • Size of a market or segment
  • Brand share
  • Frequency of purchase
  • Customer attitudes
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Customer loyalty

If you’re just starting out, you could use it to estimate the size of the market, estimate the sales you might achieve or how to target potential customers.

The easiest way to conduct your own Quantitative Research is to email contacts with an online survey using a free provider such as SurveyMonkey. Adding a question to an omnibus survey is also a relatively cost effective way of collecting demographic data, as well as responses to a specific question.
*A representative sample will reflect the group from which it is drawn. The larger the sample, the more precisely it reflects the target group.

Qualitative Research
Provides non-quantifiable, subjective information based on the opinions of a small group of selected individuals. It uses open ended questions to find out why people buy and how products meet their needs.

The two main qualitative methods are depth interviews and focus groups, both of which can be used to:

  • provide more depth to the understanding drawn from quantitative research
  • suggest the reasons for a trend
  • tap into consumer creativity when developing new products, packaging or advertising

However, both these techniques need highly skilled researchers, which puts them out of the price range of most small businesses.

Observational Research
This is carried out by simply observing customers in real life situations, without their being aware. For example, a Mystery Shopper could take notes on:

  • how customers shop
  • which products interest them
  • how your staff relate to them

This type of research can be relatively quick and easy to set up. It doesn’t rely on people giving opinions, being honest, or using their memory. It simply shows how people actually behave, what they buy or how they react to certain conditions. If you can experience it first hand by keeping a log of how customers behave, it may give you a better insight than other research methods. However, it can be time consuming and it is open to misinterpretation.

Which type to choose?
Whichever type of research you choose, make sure that you first define your objectives:

  • What do you want to know?
  • Why do you want this information?
  • How will the information you gather be used in your decision making?

Jackie Wilson Dip.M MCIM Chartered Marketer
Blue J Marketing

Jackie is a Chartered Marketer, Doncaster 100 Mentor and Yorkshire Business Collective Advisor with extensive management experience across a wide range of industry sectors and a passion for delivering effective

A local solution for local business

According to a YouGov survey, 87% of people in Yorkshire and Humber trust ‘local businesses’*
With this in mind, a group of Doncaster based, independent business advisors have joined together to form the Yorkshire Business Collective. Their aim is to provide a comprehensive business advice and consultancy service to help Yorkshire businesses succeed.
Recruiting, hiring and training competent and professionally qualified staff can be expensive and time consuming. Filling the skills gap by outsourcing a professional consultant can provide a quick and effective solution, adding long term value to the business without the long term risks.
Members of the Yorkshire Business Collective have between them a broad mix of skills, experience and professional qualifications. Marketing, finance, credit control, leadership, staff development, quality, environment and health & safety are all available through the Collective.
Marketing expert, Jackie Wilson and a founding member of the Collective said, “We are all really online casino excited to be launching our new venture at the Business Doncaster Showcase on 26th February. With the current focus on developing the north and Yorkshire in particular, and with projects like the High Speed Rail Academy already underway, we want to help local businesses make the most of any and every opportunity.”
Cath Winfield, Organisational Development specialist, added, “Taking the right approach is key when your organisation is going through a period of change, or embarking on a new project. An external consultant can help to tackle barriers, accelerate progress or simply act as a sounding board for new ideas.”
If you would like to know more about the Yorkshire Business Collective and what they can do for your business, you can contact them through their website www.yorksbizcollective.com; or email them at info@yorksbizcollective.com;

How to REACH and retain new customers

If you’ve ever wondered how to reach new customers…and then ensure they keep coming back…take some tips from the owner of a busy taverna on the island of Corfu.

Close your eyes for a moment and let your imagination take you to a dusty, winding track on a hillside thick with olive trees and cypresses. Below, the early evening sun is sparkling on the turquoise-blue waters of a secluded bay. A couple of yachts are moored out in the bay…some smaller fishing boats and motor launches nestle up to the jetty which runs along the shoreline. You arrived in this idyllic spot late the previous evening and have already made one trip down the hill to the pretty village for essential supplies. Now the heat of the sun is waning, hunger and the enticing smell of cooking is drawing you back in search of an evening meal.

At the centre of the small village are two tavernas, nestling side by side right on the waterfront. Naturally, competition between the two is pretty fierce, but the tactics employed to draw in the passing tourists are very different.

The owner of Taverna A (lets call him Stavros) adopts an aggressive approach, blocking your path, thrusting a menu at you and assuring you his taverna is much cheaper than Taverna B. If this doesn’t convince and, finding the space invading tactics off-putting, you manage to neatly side step and continue on your way, Stavros throws uncomplimentary comments on his rival’s business at your hastily retreating backs!

Still unnerved from this brush with Stavros, you take only a few steps more steps before being hailed by a smiling owner of Taverna B (let’s call this one Spiros!) from a more comfortable distance. He draws you into a casual conversation on the weather, where you’ve been (as you’re staying nearby, he will already have seen you passing earlier in the day and made a note of where you were going, perhaps even given you directions or helpful advice on local attractions), or the state of the economy…whatever he feels you might be interested in, having taken a careful note of age, gender, dress code, companions, etc. Once he has engaged your attention and drawn you into a friendly conversation for a few minutes, he will inquire if you would like the table right by the water front that he has been saving especially for you. How can you possibly refuse?

Once seated at your table, he will personally bring you the extensive menu…at first glance you will quickly realise there is enough choice to dine at this taverna every night of your holiday and eat something different every time…explain the intricacies of the various Greek specialities and give you his recommendations for the perfect blend of starter, main course and accompanying wine. All you have to do is sit back, enjoy the view and wait for your freshly cooked and delectably prepared food to arrive.

As the sun starts to set and fully replete from your delicious meal, you request the bill, which promptly arrives with glasses of Mettaxa, ‘on the house’….clearly a special service he reserves only for his most favoured clients. Still glowing from the warmth of this hospitality…not to mention the Greek brandy…you wend you’re way back to your villa, promising yourself a return visit to try out the rest of the menu.

I have both taken part in and watched this scenario play out many times and I promise you it never fails. Customers hooked into this particular style of customer care come back time after time for more. I’m not sure if ‘Spiros’ has ever undergone any formal training in marketing, but his methods can be adapted to a text-book style format and could be applied in many business scenarios. Just remember these five simple steps:

1. Research. Observe your potential customers. Don’t start out with a hard sell…take some time to get to
know them first. Find out where they’re going, what they do, what they’re interested in, which demographic they fit in…age, gender, interests, etc.
2. Engage. Draw them into conversation. Establish a rapport. Find a common interest or a general topic to break the ice.
3. Attend. Add some depth and detail to the information you’ve already collected. Find out and remember their name, their interests, what they’re looking for, the names of partners, children, pets…whatever is relevant to your business. Don’t just rely on your memory. Keep a database or a notebook and log details every time a client visits.
4. Charm. Make them feel special. Offer them something extra…a table, deal, service…you get the idea. Keep a record of what works best with each customer, or type of customer if you can identify trends.
5. Hook. Before they leave, give them a reason to come back. Tell them about a new product, service or promotion that is coming soon. Offer an incentive. Invite them to join a loyalty scheme. Be sure they know about other products or services they might be interested in. Let them know they’re important and just how much you appreciate their business.

And finally…make sure the goods live up to the promise. Spiros not only charms the passing trade into eating at his taverna, but he also delivers in terms of quality, food and service.

If you can deliver a higher standard of goods and/or service, you will find it much easier to REACH and retain loyal customers than the competitor who relies solely on being the cheapest.