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Legislation? For or Against?

September 15, 2010 by Alison McDougall

I attend all sorts of events, personally and professionally. Inevitably I am asked what it is I do. I mention that I help individuals and businesses ensure their employees are aware of, and know how to apply current legislation when planning and managing an event.

The majority response is “Oh, you mean health and safety. Don’t you think it’s gone too far!” Often this statement is presented with an eyeball roll and a loud tut! 

As my first blog with Marketing Donut, I thought I would take the opportunity to answer that question here.

The laws affecting events are not just health and safety. Clearly, that subject matter is the most high profile, followed closely by data protection but it also includes copyright, licensing, working time regulations and so on.

So, has legislation gone too far?

I have been working in events since the eighties. I have witnessed incidents and accidents (mainly) during set-up and break-down that should have been avoidable. It is only because of the response of emergency services that I was not witness to a young man dying.  And that image has stayed with me for more than 20 years.

I know of at least six serious vehicle crashes that were probably caused by tired drivers who had been working all day and were then required to drive hundreds of miles to get home. And I know someone who got run over by a portable toilet on a show site!

I have witnessed delegate lists, including passport details, being thrown into a bin. And have seen copyright laws broken again and again.

I also know that in the nineties insurers were setting aside huge sums for injuries to event visitors. Around £5,000 if someone tripped and bruised their rear, between £15,000 and £25,000 for a knock to the head and up to £250,000 for a serious limb break. Insurance premiums went sky-high for the whole industry. Thankfully, the insurers started fighting back so the payouts now are more realistic.

So what has legislation made happen that was not being done before? For those that run their business without applying the laws, it has done nothing. These individuals assume the responsibility belongs to another person. They clearly do not believe anything untoward will ever happen, and if it did it wouldn’t be their fault.

If you are a business owner, don’t just purchase a folder full of policies and file it away. Get hold of the information and work out how it can benefit you and your business. Ensure all of your employees understand and embrace it too.

And what if you don’t? Keep your fingers crossed. Carry your lucky rabbits foot. Hunt around for that four leaf clover. And hope that you, your employees, your suppliers, your clients or members of the public don’t have an accident at your event.

Seven email marketing components to test

September 14, 2010 by Tink Taylor

Testing, testing, testing. It’s a word that every skilled email marketer knows well. The data available to email marketers means that, if used properly, campaigns can be honed and updated in real-time in order to deliver the best results.

So what are the components that can and should be tested in an email marketing campaign?

Here are the key ones to consider:

  1. Subject line – It’s an obvious one to start with and possibly one of the most important elements of an email campaign. I’ve spoken previously about how to write the best email subject line, but the only way to really be sure what will work best is to test!
  2. Call to action – The call to action is the component of an email that propels the recipient towards a conversion point, usually via a click-through. But which call to action works best for your recipients? Test different options to see if they impact results differently.
  3. Images – The issue of whether or not to include images in your email is one that divides opinion in the industry. If recipients are likely to have images turned off as standard then there is an argument for using images sparingly in your messages. However, if lots of your recipients have added you to their safe senders list, then you could get better results by increasing the number of images in your message. The only way to know for sure is to test. Don’t forget to segment your database depending on what you find out!
  4. From address – The ‘from’ address is another element that can have a big effect on open rates. Is it better to use your business name as the from address or does an individual, maybe your MD, work better? This latter option can be particularly successful for B2B companies, for example. Test a few different possibilities and see what gets the best results.
  5. Personalisation – Personalisation is an aspect of email marketing that has been overused to an extent in recent times. This means that its effectiveness is often muted and, at worst, can look spammy. Try using different forms of personalisation to see whether it works for your recipients.
  6. Landing page – What happens when your recipients click through? Do they then convert or does your landing page put them off? Try alternative pages for different segments and see whether this has an effect.
  7. Time of sending – The day and/or time of sending can have a big effect on open rates and conversions. B2B emails generally work better during business hours, whereas high street stores may want to send an email on a Friday to tempt buyers to visit their store the following day.

Every company’s audience or recipients will have different preferences or behaviours, therefore testing and segmentation really is the only way to find out what will work best for your business.

Dragons' Den digest - Week 10

September 13, 2010 by Anna Mullinder

If you missed last week's, catch up here and below you will find the highlights of episode eight.

Quote of the Episode: "I have a horrible feeling that you don't know how to make a profit." Deborah Meaden

Idea 1
Product:
Abiie Buggy (My Babiie Ltd) – buggy with an incorporated changing table.
Investment sought: £100,000 for 10 per cent equity
Handling: Straightforward pitch, stuck to the basic facts. Adam is clearly ambitious, and confident when answering questions about his turnover. Says he owns the company but when questioned it is revealed that Ken, who he works with in the USA, owns the designs and has worldwide distribution rights while Adam has UK rights on a three-year contract providing he meets sales targets. The Dragons aren't impressed by this. Before declaring himself out, Peter Jones sums it up by saying: "I don't believe in you".
Outcome: No investment.
Verdict: A promising start but things got more and more confusing after the questioning started.

Idea 2
Product:
GaBoom – online user-to-user video game exchange.
Investment sought: £60,000 for 11 per cent equity
Handling: Confident, calm, well-rehearsed pitch. She handles questioning well and with a smile. Claims her website provides faster exact search results than any other website, which Duncan points out is because it's the only site of its type! Peter Jones highlights a flaw in her business: physically handling every game will be very costly, especially as the business expands. The Dragons think she's a very promising entrepreneur and are confident she'll have a successful future.
Outcome: No investment but a potential job offer from Peter Jones.
Verdict: A confident pitch and a promising young entrepreneuer.

Idea 3
Product:
Media Displays – mobile advertising unit.
Investment sought:
£80,000 for 25 per cent equity
Handling:
Strong, polished presentation. Theo Paphitis encourages him to be honest about working from his home office and employing his son. Answers questions clearly and confidently until he shares a heated exchange with Deborah Meaden about whether the business is profitable. Theo points out that his business model as it stands doesn't work and declares himself out. James Caan isn't sure about the business but likes Ian Tayor, the entrepreneur, and believes that he could make it work so makes him an offer.
Outcome:
£80,000 for 45 per cent of the business (this amount will drop if certain targets are met).
Verdict: A good result after some tricky questioning from the other Dragons.

What did you think of the episode?

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A Truly Remarkable Business - One Worth Talking About

September 10, 2010 by Robert Craven

Where there’s a great experience then there’s probably great care.

Just been to Dans le Noir - a truly remarkable restaurant in London (and Paris).

What makes it so special and worthy of mention?

  1. You eat and drink in the pitch darkness. And it really is dark.
  2. Serving people are blind or partially blind
  3. After the meal they tell you what you actually ate!

Just think about it.

The whole concept challenges how you ‘see’ flavours and textures and how you relate to your food. It is mind-blowing. You have to go. It is like no other restaurant. And the “blinded guides” have to care for you while you are totally outside your comfort zone.

The experience is wild and challenging. Spending a couple of hours without any sight makes you re-evaluate your fortune at being sighted, think about what it must be like to be blind, and messes with your palate. You have little idea what you are eating. Crazy. The experience lingers for days.

My point. Dans le Noir is a true experience. You don’t forget it. You tell everyone about it. Remarkable. A business.  And it increases public awareness about blindness. 

If only more businesses could offer a true experience.

Green businesses have a positive impact on society.

September 07, 2010 by Fiona Humberstone

This is part three of a series of three. Catch up on part one and part two.

In the case of my business, that means looking after my staff well, sourcing our consumables responsibly, ensuring that the print we sell is environmentally friendly and putting something back into the community with our Flourish Foundation. If I’m honest, this is at the heart of me, which is why it’s come through in my business. I haven’t yet put together a “green mission statement”, and I probably should. I know that one of the reasons that our clients come to us is for our authenticity and values – but do I need a mission statement to get that across?

The short answer is probably not. Everything about the way we’ve built Flourish communicates these values, partly because we fall into the Autumnal colour personality, which is the most “green” of the lot. All of our print is recycled and uncoated and our muted, warm colours suggest sustainability, community and integrity. But marketing your green credentials takes more than a bit of fancy design and an understanding of colour psychology.

It’s about making sure that your communication is consistent. Follow us on twitter and you’ll find the very same person that you meet in the studio, warm, supportive and with integrity. Read our blog and you’ll find the same transparency and “giving” nature as you find in our workshops and one to one sessions. I guess I don’t scream green because green is inextricably linked with what we do. How about you?

Fiona Humberstone is an expert contributor to Marketing Donut and runs her own creative consultancy.

 

Dragons' Den digest - Week 9

September 07, 2010 by Cat Arnold

If you missed last week's, catch up here and below you will find the highlights of episode eight.

Quote of the Episode: "I’ve just got to get my chequebook." Theo Paphitis

Idea 1
Product:
Sweat Sportz - a plastic vest worn during exercise to allow the user to sweat more and therefore lose weight at a faster pace.
Investment sought: £100,000 for 10 per cent equity.
Handling: A confident start, but nerves got to them a little bit towards the end of the pitch. The Dragons seemed impressed at first but concerns were raised over the price of the product being too high for a disposable item. They seemed confident about their figures but then were caught out by James Caan when he asked them about their profit forecasts. Theo Paphitis and Duncan Bannatyne raised concerns that the vest was not an innovative idea and that the majority of people would not use it.
Outcome: No investment.
Verdict: A confident start but fell down when it came to the numbers. The product seemed too niche for the mass market and was not an innovation.

Idea 2
Product:
Content and Calm (Traykit) - An innovative children's bag which folds out into a tray to be used on long journeys.
Investment sought: £80,000 for ten per cent equity.
Handling: A very confident and passionate pitch. She knew her product and market well and demonstrated excellent knowledge of the financial situation of her company. She impressed the Dragons with the news that she has been approached by several large retailers. Duncan Bannatyne wondered why she needed an investment, as the company seemed to be doing very well already. Peter Jones went straight in with an offer of the full amount for 25 per cent, but was quickly undercut by James Caan who offered the same amount for 15 per cent equity. After some negotiation, Peter Jones suggested he joined forces with Deborah Meaden and they offered to make the investment for 12.5 per cent equity each.
Outcome: Peter Jones and Deborah Meaden - full £80,000 for 25 per cent equity.
Verdict: Excellent product and pitch, she knew her stuff and it showed. She managed to keep cool under pressure and went away with a good deal.

Idea 3
Product:
TailorMade - 3D body scanning technology which takes measurements for bespoke handmade suits.
Investment sought: £75,000 for ten per cent equity.
Handling:  An interesting start to the pitch with a demonstration of the 3D scanner, followed by a confident presentation of his company. The Dragons initially seem impressed with the technology and the speed with which it works.  However Theo Paphitis felt the product was over-engineered and that it fixed a problem that didn't exist. Peter Jones added that the cost of installing the technology was so high, few tailors would be able to justify the expense. 
Outcome: No investment.
Verdict: A good idea but over-engineered and expensive, this product solves a problem that doesn’t need to be fixed.

Idea 4
Product:
Proppa - a website that sells accessories for vans, motorhomes, pickup trucks, etc.
Investment sought: £50,000 for five per cent equity.
Handling: An impressive and honest pitch, where he clearly demonstrated his knowledge of the financial side of his business. James Caan questioned his financials and soon uncovered that he had a large bank debt. Deborah Meaden became frustrated and demanded to know why he borrowed so much money from the bank. Not satisfied with his response, Deborah declared herself out. Duncan Bannatyne thought differently and offered the full amount for 20 per cent equity. Peter Jones then came in with another offer, the full amount but for 25 per cent, claiming he was worth more due to his online expertise.
Outcome: Duncan Banntyne - £50,000 for 20 per cent equity.
Verdict: A good business opportunity with potential to make money, and an honest pitch helped him gain credibility with the Dragons.

What did you think of the episode?

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