Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Ernesto Sirolli

Last night I went to see Ernesto Sirolli of the Sirolli Institute talk about Community Enterprise Boards and Enterprise Facilitation. It was very compelling stuff and his delivery is excellent and really passionate. I chatted with Ernesto for about twenty minutes later in the evening about the book he's currently working on - I suggested that he should have an editor, as his publisher had initially suggested a ghost writer. I told him I may know just the man. Smudge...where are you??

Burnley Networking Event

I spoke this evening at an event at HIX Burnley, that was organised by Kate Mayers of Burnley and Pendle Enterprise Trust. I spoke about networking as part of your marketing plan for SMEs. Also speaking was Andy Cooke from Positive Solutions. It was an excellent event and the majority of attendees were in start up mode, so Andy and I had to think on our feet as we got some pretty interesting interjections. All the attendees stayed back for a good hour or so after the event, which is a fair indication taht they got something from it.

Online advertising overtakes TV

I heard on the radio this morning whilst driving to work that online advertising had finally overtaken TV in terms of revenue in the UK.

It's not at all surprising really. During a recession it makes sense for businesses to tighten the belt and in terms of marketing spend. You need to be able account for your spend in terms response and return on investment. And online gives you just that - it's dead easy to monitor, so for every pound spent you can account for what comes in.

The important thing is - the most successful online advertisers tend to be the most successful at marketing themselves through other channels too. So the key to it is to have an appropriate mix - and the affordability of online methods (eshots, pay-per-click, SEO, proximity marketing) means that well organised small businesses who have a strategic approach built into their business plan have reall opportunity to punch above their weight.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Money saving iPhone application

I've just come across a great - FREE - iPhone application that can save you a bit of brass. You can find it on the app store as "0870" - it uses the same principle as the site Say No to 0870 - which allows you to dial normal numbers in place of 0845, 0870 etc.

Basically it allows your iPhone to recognise when you dial non-geographic or premium rate numbers - and then pull up the normal 01 or 02 number behind the 08 or 09. This means that calls to banks, utility companies and credit card companies that can cost you 10p per minute or more now go through your minutes package, so don't cost you a fortune. Excellent - it sticks in the throat when you're calling them to tell them about crap service and they're making money out of your call! appoints Jordan Communications to handle PR strategy

Here's a transcript of a press release we issued on Thursday announcing our new contract win!, the online comparison service has appointed Jordan Communications (BrandSpankin's parent company) to handle their public relations, as they embark upon a significant growth strategy.

With mobile broadband usage soaring, has been building a reputation as a neutral and transparent consumer champion - even advising some consumers that want to buy a "dongle" that it might not be the right choice for them. So, with the dongle market set for continued growth, MobileBroadbandSupermarket's approach is to educate consumers about the variety of offerings available - not just in terms of price, but also usage limits and levels of service.

Julian Jordan of Jordan Communications added: "We're delighted to be working for It's a perfect match for our skill sets and experience. We've passionately supported the switching agenda over the years, so to be supporting the efforts of a business that is dedicated to adding clarity to a potentially confusing emerging marketplace is a real coup for us. The beauty of the service is its simplicity and its honesty - not only is it easy to use, if a dongle purchase isn't the best option for your circumstances, they'll tell you so."

Andy Gott, the Managing Director of, said: "The major benefit we deliver to people who want to buy a dongle is that we help them to make a confident buying decision, without doing hours of research first. Therefore, we want to build awareness of our service to enable consumers to make informed decisions about which network is offering the best mobile broadband deal to suit their circumstances. We chose Jordan Communications to drive our strategy forward because they have significant experience in the fields of telecoms, internet and personal finance - especially around the 'switching' agenda.

Mobile connectivity devices, or “dongles” as they are commonly known, are an ideal way for people to stay connected on the move. They are especially useful to business travellers, who may need to get online whilst at the airport or hotel; for students, who need connectivity but may not have a fixed line connection; and also for some people in rural communities, who may not have very good ADSL coverage.


Lancashire's Longest Doodle!!

This week we set off on our attempt to create Lancashire’s Longest Doodle. Besides the fact that we hope to raise a bit of money for Pendleside Hospice, we want to get people involved in a basic artistic activity – as we think that creativity spawns ideas that can be the bed-rock of regeneration. We’ve seen it happen in London in places like Shoreditch - and we’d love to be part of a process like that in Lancashire and the North West.

The doodle itself is taking shape on a 200 metre length of cotton because we wanted to reference the former economic glories of our area, but our real focus is on future successes! The response so far has been great – and the enthusiasm of the pupils at the two schools we visited last week has been really excellent. We doodled 25 metres in two days last week!

Any schools, businesses or community organisations interested in participating in the doodle should call BrandSpankin’ on 01282 878 301. (

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Enterprising Pendle

The Community Enterprise Board had a very productive meeting this week. We've not only appointed our facilitator in Remi Thackrey, but we've also scheduled our 'boot-camp' where we'll have an intensive four days worth of training. The bit that comes after that is the exciting bit for me, we'll be up and running and clients - both existing businesses and start ups - will benefit from the collective experience of the board. There are numerous examples of Enterprise Boards, but in Pennine Lancashire we have 5 that border one another. So long as we maintain the momentum, I think that we could create something extremely powerful that will have a profound effect on the perception of the area and will contribute enormously to regeration.


Down but not out...

I've just been reading the comments of fellow Burnley fans after the 4 - 0 trouncing by Liverpool at Anfield - it's very disappointing stuff. I'm not so much bothered that we got tonked - after all the average 'value' of one of their first team players is more than it cost to assemble our whole team. No, the really disappointing thing is to hear that - as expected - the 3,000 Burnley supporters never stopped signing and creating an atmosphere, whilst the other 40,000 who attended barely came out of their corporate comas. Sadly, this is what the promised land of the Premiership is all about - and I know from experience that it's no better at Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge or the Emirates. I can take a trouncing - but I couldn't bear for my club to lose it's passion and tradition. I'm sure there are many Scousers and Mancs who rue the day their clubs sold their souls.


Twitter does ancient and modern...

I came across the story of Ivy Bean this week - the 104 year old twitterer. Apparently she'd already maxed out her Facebook quota of 5,000 friends. So she's now activiely tweeting with...wait for it...27,000 followers.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

BrandSpankin’ barometer?

It’s been very quiet on the blog front! In part, that’s because we’ve been so busy of late. I’m not going to be a hostage to fortune and predict green shoots of recovery, but the number of leads we’re generating at the moment is very encouraging. It’s still taking longer to convert leads, but I suppose it’s like the old football cliché – it’s better to be creating chances and not scoring goals, than not creating chances. So what are the implications of all this for you?

Well, I see BrandSpankin’ as a bit of a barometer business in East Lancashire. We deliver marketing services to clients from all sectors and we work for businesses large and small. If the number of leads we’re generating is increasing (probably tenfold month-on-month comparing August with January), then I suspect that it’s a good sign of improvement in the local economy as a whole.


Enterprising Pendle

I’m excited at the prospects that the Community Enterprise Board presents to the area. Enterprising Pendle, as it’s known is relatively nascent, but we took a big step forward recently with the appointment of Remi Thackrey, as Enterprise Facilitator. He’s a very personable guy and he’s committed to the regeneration of the area, so I’m sure he’ll make a success of it.

The board itself is based on the Sirolli Institute methodology ( It appeals to me in many ways, not least because it’s not a prescriptive, top down approach to regeneration, but a grass roots, non-bureaucratic approach, that has a real track record of success.


Radio Gaga

I’ve done several radio pieces recently – one on BBC Radio 4 and a couple of pieces on BBC Radio Lancashire, which included being co-commentator for the Burnley victory over Manchester United. BBC strictures on impartiality went out of the window when Robbie Blake’s screamer hit the back of the net and I went mental live on the air! It’s a fantastic time to be a Claret at the moment!

The Radio 4 programme I was interviewed for was called ‘Divided Britain’. I think my contribution was there for the purposes of ‘balance’ – at least one person had to be on there who actually loves the area, thinks it’s a good place, full of good people and a worthwhile place to live and work. If the remit of the programme is to focus on problems (and let’s face it there is a clue in the name Divided Britain, which makes it fairly clear they’re not going to trumpet the potential of Nelson as a tourist destination!), then it’s not difficult to find the negatives. My problem with this approach is that it means the tail wags the dog – the lunatic fringe will often get the airtime and we potentially hand the initiative and agenda to Fascists and Fundamentalists.

I’m not suggesting that we ignore the problems that we face, but I do think we are generally hindered by a national media that often characterises the area as full of people who are marginalised, alienated and disenfranchised.

For those of you interested in what Divided Britain had to say, you can hear it again here:-