Supporting North West Businesses.
The Chartered Institute of Marketing runs a programme called 'Chartered Marketer Opportunities', through which it provides businesses, schools and other organisations with free access to experienced marketing professionals.
Through the scheme, I was recently asked to attend a business networking event in East Lancashire, which was to be attended by around forty local businesses. Billed as a 'meet the experts' event, it would also feature an advisor from UK Trade & Investment.
Between the UKTI advisor and myself, we talked to the majority of the delegates on a one to one basis, listening to the challenges they faced, providing suggestions and helping them to begin to consider new strategies for growth. In addition to established businesses, there were also several young entrepreneurs who were in the process either of planning or launching new enterprises.
Understanding the basics of marketing can be invaluable for new entrepreneurs, as it can help them to set out in the right direction, to avoid potentially costly mistakes and to use their limited resources to the best possible effect. It was therefore very gratifying to take part in the event and I look forward to doing so again.
For some years now, I have been working with a fast growing building contractor that specialises in refurbishment, maintenance and energy efficiency. At the beginning of 2013, it changed its name to the Sustainable Group (UK) Limited - a process which required new branding, the launch of a new website and associated media relations work.
The focus of this effort was on the business to business sector, which accounts for the great majority of the company's clients but in May 2013, the senior management team chose to mark the public launch of the new brand by sponsoring a race at the May Festival in Chester.
In addition to providing an excellent venue for corporate hospitality and building relationships with key clients, suppliers and stakeholders, the Festival afforded the opportunity to reach a wide public audience. Televised on Channel 4 and Sky Sports, and featured in many national newspapers and consumer publications, the Sustainable Group (UK) Ltd EBF Handicap Stakes proved very successful as a means of raising public awareness.
Besides my more usual marketing role, I was also asked to act as photographer for the day. A small selection of photographs can be seen on the Sustainable Group blog.
Since the tail end of 2012, I have been working with a Blackburn based food producer that is currently engaged in a major re-branding and restructuring programme. Working with the managing director and key members of staff, I have been helping the business to reassess its routes to market, its pricing, its customer relationship management strategy and many other vital concerns.
The work is progressing well, with changes to the company's packaging, product range and sales mechanisms all eliciting praise from consumers and trade customers. The majority of these developments have been informed by detailed market research and, collectively, they are seeing the business well on its way to achieving very ambitious growth targets.
The most recent challenge has been to prepare new packaging and support
materials for a new export drive aimed at the French market. With an enthusiastic
distributor already in place and supermarkets ready to take on new 'world
foods', the signs look very promising for significant international success.