Wednesday, 15 April 2009

What the superstars of the sports world have to teach us about doing business online

- What makes the fans follow some big sports stars more than others?
- A new business TV show finds valuable internet marketing tips to be learned from the world of sports

The public adores sports stars, and nothing shows this more than the monthly search stats on Google, where the most popular players and managers rank alongside movie stars in terms of traffic and popularity.

But what is it that makes some stars more popular with grass roots fans than others? It’s not just a matter of results on the field, that’s for sure.

This new business TV show looks into the data to uncover the secrets of the most popular figures in sport, to see what business can learn from the digital superstars about online marketing:

For up-to-the-minute business advice from leading experts, choose from over 600 business TV shows on yourBusinessChannel. New shows are produced every day, and all are free to view.

And Finally - a big COME ON to Everton this weekend who will be fighting it out with the mighty Manchester United for a place in the F.A Cup final!

Monday, 2 March 2009

The must-have sales tool for prospecting for new clients

* Many salespeople rely on databases to find new client connections
* A revolutionary tool brings the power of the social web to increase the power of this technique

For salespeople looking for new client contacts, there are a number of traditional business contact databases online.

According to sales expert Nigel Edelshain from Sales 2.0 however, a new online tool brings a whole new power to the old idea of the business contact database.

Called Jigsaw, the new tool caters for businesses looking for contacts within middle-level management, as opposed to conventional databases which tend to focus on high-level executives, which are not always the most useful contacts for salespeople.

In his free business TV show Edelshain explains how Jigsaw works, and how you can make the most of it:

If you’ve got a great business which needs a sales boost to fulfil its potential, then yourBusinessChannel’s Million Dollar Challenge is for you. The Million Dollar Challenge, is an innovative new results-based marketing product which makes the latest thinking of top business experts available to selected businesses with great potential for growth.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Your customers don’t care about your product

* No one cares about your products and services as much as you
* Recognising this fact is the key to transforming your marketing

It comes as a shock to most businesspeople, but the fact is most people out there in the big wide world don’t care about the products and services you are trying to sell.

Only when you accept this fact, and adjust your marketing, will you be able to capture the attention of the market. In his latest business TV show on yourBusinessChannel, digital marketing expert David Meerman Scott gives tips on getting noticed online.

To find out what customers do care about, and how to get them talking (nicely) about your business, watch Scott’s latest show here:

At yourBusinessChannel you can watch over 400 short form business TV shows, featuring business development advice from over 70 of the world’s leading business experts.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Top three tips for tapping into high end marketing

* Customers are more willing to buy if they know others have done so before
* Incorporating social proof into your sales strategy will boost sales

Improving sales figures is a key goal of every business. To stay on top of their game, businesses need to regularly assess and improve their sales strategy.

A great way of improving your sales figures is to offer social proof about your product to prospective customers. By demonstrating that previous buyers have been happy with their decision to buy, you will make it easier for new customers to purchase.

This new business TV show explains how to incorporate social proof into your sales strategy:

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Everyone is tweeting, but what good is it for business?

Ever since its star turn in the US elections, social networking site Twitter has been billed as the internet’s rising star. It might have worked for Obama – but what can Twitter do for your business?

With every visionary from Vint Cerf and Tim Berners-Lee hailing social media as the future of the internet, there is intense interest these days in what the next big social online networking platform will be. While the staggering growth of the major sites like Facebook and YouTube shows no sign of slowing down, there’s now a new kid on the block: Twitter.

Social networking and microblogging application Twitter has been steadily building in popularity since its launch in 2006 and, after receiving a major boost thanks to its use by US presidential candidates earlier this year, it now looks set to have its ‘hockey stick moment’ of exponential mainstream growth. Tech savvy entrepreneurs and executives might have been among the first wave of Twitter users, but most businesspeople out there still have little understanding about what Twitter is, or the value it could add to their business.

The good news is, Twitter has incredible potential as a business tool, and only takes a few minutes to get your head around. The Twitter basics are relatively simple for anyone familiar with blogs and social networking sites. Essentially, you sign up to create your Twitter profile, then search for contacts (called ‘followers’) who will receive you short-form posts (called ‘tweets’). Tweets are limited to 140 characters (hence the term ‘microblogging’), similar to status updates in Facebook.

One of the key points of difference between Twitter and other social networking sites is that you can follow someone (i.e. receive their tweets) regardless of whether they follow you. This makes Twitter a great way to follow your business heroes, or anyone else who is too scarily famous to approach directly! Likewise, if you or your business attracts a large following, you can opt out of receiving every message from all your contacts.

Three key factors make Twitter a very powerful tool for your business. Firstly, because tweets are public and fully searchable, Twitter is an incredible tool for market research. You can set up alerts when certain keywords are used in tweets, to monitor what the public are saying about you and your competitors’ brands.

Next, because so many industry leaders have adopted Twitter as communication platform, it’s a great place to follow the experts in your field. You can passively follow their daily tips and messages, or make contact and start a conversation.

Lastly, you can use Twitter to communicate with your audience directly. This might be a matter of tweeting regularly to direct traffic to your blog or sales website. Or you might promote special events or offers to Twitter followers. The possibilities for building your online profile are endless.

There are plenty of other business uses for Twitter, and more are developed by the Twitter community every day.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

1 in 3 entrepreneurs unlikely to legally protect their Intellectual Property

More research results from i2m's study into entrepreneurs, start-ups and small businesses:

• 29% do not intend to protect to protect their Intellectual Property at all
• The single most popular method of protection is an international patent
• Just 4% do not know which protection methods, if any, they intend to use

i2m surveyed over 800 budding entrepreneurs and small business owners over the course of 2008, investigating their standing and attitudes in a number of key areas including: finance, market research, sales and marketing and business exploitation.
Participants were asked how they intended to protect their Intellectual Property. The most popular response with 29% of respondents was “no protection at all”. In selecting this option, 29% participants are ignoring the numerous basic ways of protecting themselves such as claiming copyright and design rights for their work. These methods however were selected by 23% of participants with a further 18% selecting them in combination with other methods.

24% of participants intended to seek an international patent, making it the single most popular method of protection in the study. Only 4% did not know which protection methods, if any, they intend to use, suggesting that this is a business subject that most people are aware of and have an opinion on.

Businesses, especially those looking to patent, should look at protecting their intellectual property as an economic decision, weighing up the costs of not protecting themselves against competitors, versus the legal cost associated with protection and the return on investment it may bring.

Jane Lambert, intellectual property specialist counsel of NIPC, noted that these figures were consistent with many similar surveys and they are not in the least bit surprising. “The problem is that the cost of enforcement of intellectual property rights is prohibitive in England and Wales. According to the government’s own Intellectual Property Advisory Committee, the average cost of bringing an infringement claim to trial is £150,000 to £250,000 in the Patents County Court and £1 million plus in the High Court compared to around €50,000 in France, Germany or the Netherlands. That no doubt explains why the UK (the country that started the industrial revolution) lags consistently behind not only the USA, Germany, Japan and France in the number of European patent applications but even the Netherlands and Switzerland which have a third and an eighth of our population respectively. It is often said that businesspeople do not fully understand the intellectual property system. These results indicate that they understand it only too well.”

A full set of i2m’s research results will be published later this year. For more details please contact me at

Guest Blog: Leaving the Law - A leap of Faith, by Paul Davis

A wide-eyed trainee, full of ambition and dreams of partnership, I felt like a real little hot-shot after I landed a top training contract and started my career in the City.

Four years on, I now find that I’m a puffy-eyed 2 year qualified, devoid of ambition or motivation and with dreams of escaping the rat race and the world of partnership, billable hours and due diligence.

Yes, I still manage to be good at my job and pretend to be interested, but underneath it all I’ve come to realise the harsh reality that if I’m going to realise even half of my natural potential, I need to leave the law.

What do I spend all day doing? Preparing documents. Reviewing documents. Chasing documents. Talking to (and sometimes arguing with) other lawyers who are doing exactly the same, just on the other side of the same coin. Making sure the right amount of money goes to the right place at the right time. And then if I’m a very lucky boy, I might even get the chance to prepare a report about the contents of some other documents.

I now realise I’m effectively just a glamourised admin assistant for my clients (although its anything but glamorous).

They’re the ones doing the exciting deals and making the real money, and I’m just running around behind the scenes dotting the “i”s and crossing the “t”s. I’m no-where near where all the real action happens, where there’s real excitement that you're about to land yourself a big pot of cash or really achieve something special. Near the coalface? I’m not even vaguely in the vicinity. Granted, I feel like I’m scrambling around in the dark all day, and it can get very hot, sweaty and unpleasant at times, but that’s about as close as I get to being at the coalface.

I work hard all month long, only to see the same amount plop into my account on pay-day. Yes, there’s much to be said for a reliable, steady income. Yes, there are bonuses if you work hard enough. And yes, I have relative job security and good benefits. But where’s the buzz of going for the big pay-day, the chance of making millions? Where’s the passion? Where’s the excitement of achieving something that you can point to and say “Look! I did that!”?

I suppose if I stick it out long enough, my salary will go up gradually and I could end up on a decent amount. But it is so regimented, so predictable, so...uninspiring.

Ok, doing a good job as a lawyer is something people should rightly feel proud of, but at the end of the day, it’s a service industry – I’m just serving someone else. Just helping out. I’m helping to make other people richer and more successful. I wonder how much easier it would be getting out of bed in the morning if I had the chance of making myself richer that very day? Making a real mark on the world, and not just helping others make their mark?

In the end it all got too much for me and I decided to quit. I got sick of working for someone else. I got sick of running around for the partners and stressing about appraisals and hoping for a pay rise.

I had other interests, lots of ideas, business ideas that got me excited, got the juices flowing and the blood pumping, made the old passion and enthusiasm resurface again – I loved the idea of going it alone – setting up a business, building it up to be successful, achieving something meaningful with my life and doing what I’ve always dreamed of, rather than something everyone told me would be a good thing to do and I just hoped that I would enjoy.

Yes, it would be hard work, but I’m working hard anyway and at least this would be directly for my own personal, immediate benefit.

But then there’s my 250 grand mortgage, my other loans, commitments and outgoings. Not to mention the looming prospect of trying for kids and saving for a new house. It’s too much of a risk to jack it all in, surely? Absolute madness infact. I’m safe where I am. I’m earning decent money. I can’t risk the mortgage. I’ll just stick it out. Ok, so I’ll be fairly miserable, but at least it’s safe. I can work my way up, just hang in there. Pray that I get good appraisals and payrises and just hope that one day, I’ll have saved enough to retire. It’s just too risky – after all, what if my idea turns out to be more Gerald Ratner than Richard Branson?

But then I realised, as long as I could research my idea, make sure that it’s actually a good idea and would fill a genuine gap in the market (sometimes there’s a gap in the market for good reason – there’s no market in the gap!), then the whole thing would be so much less risky. And if I could get a business plan together and even maybe secure a bit of funding, well, it would almost be do-able! It was at this point I started fantasising about how I would hand in my notice, how much money I could make, how much I would actually enjoy working for myself and following my passion.

I started to investigate, but there’s only so much you can achieve just randomly surfing the net. I needed some help. So I turned to Inventya – a business consultancy who would normally charge thousands to help businesses research and develop their ideas to ultimately determine whether the idea is feasible, how best to research and develop it, and how best to take the idea to market.

However, Inventya have recently developed some clever market research software known as “i2m” (‘ideas to market’) that enables you to do all of that yourself and even submit your business idea to an ideas bank, accessed by over 1,500 potential investors looking for a good business idea to invest in.

The software is not very expensive – there’s even a free taster on the website – and at the end of the day, I’m only risking a few quid, rather than my entire mortgage. If once I’d finished using the software I had realised that my rat-race escaping idea was not so hot after all, it wouldnt have cost me very much to find out and I could have breathed a sigh of relief that I didn’t just jack it in and go for it (and I could then have just used it again to evaluate the next big idea that popped into my head).

But I actually realised that my idea was a genuine cracker, and so now it’s time to hand in that notice, burn my files, and take a deep breath and make that leap!

Wish me luck!