Turning Your Product Idea into Reality

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Everyone has a good business idea every once in a while. Of course, “good” is quite subjective here, as the true quality of the idea is always obscured by your own personal perceptions. But if you never even give those thoughts a try, there’s no way to know if they are actually worthwhile or not. That’s what separates successful entrepreneurs from the rest – they are actually willing to take that important first step and get their hands dirty trying to bring their idea into the world. If you want to go down that path, there are some things you should keep in mind.


Have a Good Business Plan

Having an idea is not the same as having a viable business plan. The latter takes some time and effort to build, but it’s important because you will need guidance along the way. Even if your plan doesn’t work out entirely – and few ever do – it’s still important to have some critical milestones set so that you can track your progress related to them. If you see that you’re hitting all those checkpoints faster than anticipated, that’s a good sign that you’re doing things right.


Sort Out Funding in Advance

Funding is going to be one of your biggest obstacles, especially if you’ve never done anything in the business world before. Maybe you have some money saved up, but even that might not be enough for some ideas. You should know what your options are for taking out a loan, especially when it comes to some special types of loans, like for real estate if your business idea will require a physical site. Sites like Crediful can be incredibly useful for this, as they can give you a good overview of the lending market around you in general, and point you in the right direction for the loans that can benefit you the most.


Promotion Will Be Crucial

You will not survive without active promotion. Especially not today in this heavily digital world. There are many ways to improve the exposure of your company, and you should look into them early on. Social media can be great for a more natural, organic campaign, but it’s not all there is. Simply setting up a website and promoting it in the right channels can be very beneficial on its own, at least when it’s done by the right specialists. And that brings us to another important point – you will need a competent partner for your promotion. While it’s possible that you may be able to do this on your own, it’s not very likely, unless you have specific expertise in the field of marketing. Give yourself some peace of mind and know that the job is done right by hiring someone competent.


Don’t Forget Customer Support!

A common mistake made by beginner entrepreneurs is to focus all their efforts into the main launch of the product, expecting to kick back and relax afterward. The truth is that the hard work is just beginning at that stage. You’ll need to put a lot of active effort into providing support for your customers, no matter if you’re selling a physical product or a virtual one. Things are definitely going to be more complicated with physical goods though because then you have to consider things like returns, repairs, and many other similar factors. If you’re not prepared for that in advance, it can ruin your company before you’ve even had a chance to figure out what’s going on.


Expanding

Sooner or later, you’ll need to expand. This is the ultimate goal of any company, after all, and yours will likely be no different. Even if you’re comfortable treating it as a source of side income, this will not be a sustainable model in the long run. This should ideally be part of your initial business plan. But with the way a company can expand in many different directions, it can be hard to predict its expansion needs at such an early stage. This is why it’s important to constantly revise your plan and touch it up on points that might be relevant to your future expansion and growth. Talk to specialists to prevent some of the common problems in this regard.

Some time from now, you might be looking at a very successful product on your hands, or you might be looking into closing down your company. The latter shouldn’t disappoint you though. At least you tried – and that already separates you from a large number of your peers. Even if you didn’t succeed in the end, you’ve gathered a lot of valuable experience that can help you in your next launch.

The Role of an Operations Manager in the Manufacturing Sector

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Operations managers are an essential part of any business, but even more so in the manufacturing industry. They’re ultimately responsible for turning your business ideas into fully functioning products and are a part of many different areas of the company. If you’re considering becoming an operations manager, read on to find out what the role entails as well as the key part the operations manager has to play in a manufacturing business.

Planning the Process

One of the main roles an operations manager is responsible for is, of course, planning. Without a plan, there will be no product, and with a bad plan, things will go wrong, or your product will not turn out the way it was intended. Operations managers need to make clear, detailed plans about each stage of production to make sure that the whole process goes as smoothly as possible. This means taking into account any goals the company is aiming for – for example, is the focus on producing a larger number of products that are a lower cost in order to win over customers with a cheaper price, or is there a focus on producing higher quality but more expensive products? There needs to be a clear aim of what is wanted out of the process in order to not only produce the ideal product for your business but also streamline the process, decide which process is best for your type of goods, and cut out anything unnecessary.

When thinking about your process, consider whether you’re going for made-to-order, mass production or mass customization. Made-to-order is best for those looking to produce a smaller number of a variety of products, since the beauty of made-to-order is that you can alter and customize each product according to the specific customer. Mass production is basically the opposite, where you’re producing a large quantity of identical products for a lower cost. Mass customization, however, is a mix of the two – cutting mass production off at a certain point and then customizing to the client’s liking, meaning you can get the best of both worlds by achieving something personal to customers but still at a large quantity and reasonable cost.

Maintaining A Professional Workforce

An operations manager isn’t just in charge of the production process; they’re also in charge of people. Managing employees has many different aspects – you have to make sure that efficiency is being maintained and employees are doing what they can to keep the process going smoothly. However, you also need to be on top of their satisfaction and wellbeing – low motivation, bad moods, lack of comfort, and bad conditions can all contribute to workers feeling uncomfortable and unhappy in their work, decreasing the efficiency and quality of production. Doing what you can and putting plans in place to keep employees happy will not only benefit the team and bring them together, but it will also improve the speed of your process and encourage a positive attitude to work.

Whether you’re looking at it from an individual perspective or a business perspective, looking after your employees and putting facilities in place to keep them happy will only benefit your company. It’s also important to include training for employees to keep them up to date with new technologies such as nanotechnology and reinstate what is expected from them. This goes for you, too – make sure you’re aware of everything going on and keep yourself up to date. Also ensure you have a lot of knowledge about what you’re doing to ensure you’re best prepared – taking a masters in operations management from Kettering University will give you all the skills you need to be informed and professional in an operations management role.

Location, Facilities, and Equipment Decisions

An operations manager is also responsible for deciding which site is best for your business, what sort of facilities are required, and what equipment and machinery will be needed in the process.

When thinking about the location of the site, it’s important to consider several factors. You should take into account where your raw materials are coming from as well as where you plan on shipping your final products to. This will minimize transport and shipping costs as much as possible. You also want to select an area where other costs, such as land, taxes, and utilities, are as low as possible to cut on expenses and dedicate more money to production. It’s a good idea to find an area where you’re likely to be able to access plenty of workers. Click here for more information on how to select the best location for your manufacturing company.

You also need to consider what sort of facilities need to be put in place not only for the production process but for your staff, too. Don’t forget to check everything thoroughly with the health and safety regulations in your area, or you’ll end up being shut down before you’ve even started.

Once you’ve worked out the basic facilities you’ll need, think about equipment. This includes machinery required in production, items needed for storage, equipment needed to both supply staff and keep them happy, and many other factors. You should also think about all of the materials needed to form your product.

As operations manager, you are also in charge of costing all of this, so budget everything, and see if it’s possible to drive these costs down. Filing down your expenses will give you a lot more leeway over your production and other aspects, such as the materials you can access, so you can improve your production process as well as gain a lead on other competitors in the manufacturing industry. Having said this, don’t be afraid to spend a little more on better quality items, especially if they’re long-lasting – although a cheaper price may be tempting, a longer-lasting and better-quality item will save you much more money in the long run.

These 3 key points are essential to an operations manager’s role, and with the right preparation, what can be an incredibly challenging task can be done swiftly and professionally.

How a chance encounter inspired my innovative business idea

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How are business ideas generated? Well, there is no correct answer. Successful business ideas are all around you. Some entrepreneurs spend hours doing market research in hopes to formulate an effective business idea, whereas others simply stumble across an innovative idea. We spoke to Charlie Howes, CEO and founder of Nude Life, to learn more about how a chance encounter inspired his life drawing business. With over 70 models in 6 countries, he talks about his biggest challenges of starting a business from scratch and his future plans.

 

How did it all began?

I’d just finished an internship in Seville which I started after finishing University in Bristol. The job didn’t pay very well, and it was in the middle of nowhere in a small quiet village in Sussex. Given this, I decided to take up a bar job in Brighton on the weekends.

I was working at the bar for quite some time, doing extra hours in the day to earn more money, stocking bars etc. when I happened to walk in on a stark-naked male in a room. I was pretty shocked, immediately turned around and left the room – it was the middle of the day after all. When my boss came into work later that day, I asked him why was there a naked guy in here earlier and what was he doing naked in the middle of the day?

“Well Charlie, that’s our new life drawing model for hen parties, he’ll be doing 3-4 events every Saturday day, so keep an eye out for him!”

“How much are you paying him to do that?”

“£100 per class”

“And he’s doing 3-4 events a day?”

“Yeah, and it’s cash in hand!”

I was stunned and immediately told him to sign me up, I even said that I would be happy with £90 per session (I knew he would love a good deal), and I’ll even make sure I entertain the groups better than him!

I started modelling and realised that this hen party activity was getting pretty popular, and there was no established life drawing brand in the marketplace (similar to what butlers in the buff does for naked butlers). This encouraged me to google domain names, and nudelife.co.uk was available, I had to snap that up straight away. It was £1 and is still the best decision I have ever made to date for Nude Life.

So that’s how Nude Life started, and currently we’ve got over 70 models in around 5-6 countries. It’s owned and run by myself and my family – my two sisters and my Mum. We all have out seperate jobs to do around our full-time jobs. It’s pretty lean, considering the volume of events we’re doing, and that’s down to streamlined processes and creating APIs between apps.

A great fact is that the original model I walked in on is now one of our own, and one of probably our most popular model we have!

 

Why were you inspired to start Nude Life?

I never realised this until recently, but the primary reason for starting Nude Life was due to the bureaucratic restraints at my 9-5. I’ve always been a bit of a risk-taker, had a real desire to learn and I like to move quickly. The role I was working in prevented all of these, so I was afraid I’d get left behind the crowd. Learning ‘on the job’ has been the greatest asset from starting Nude Life. All my knowledge from jumping in the deep end has helped me move forward in my career. Once you have that knowledge, a massive barrier is reduced in launching other startups and implementing it in other companies.

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How did your business get started? From the good, bad and ugly, what was your startup process like?


The Good?

The launching of the company was a lot easier than I thought. I used Squarespace as a template builder for the website, so I didn’t need any developers. I put a lot of emphasis around the name of the company. I knew this would help organic ranking, CTR’s, authority, and memorability in the future. Luckily, the URL I wanted was available for quite a generic keyword for the product/service. From then, you’ve got to create a feedback loop and iterate fast.

The Bad?

I remember one time I had a life drawing class in the Edinburgh for Nude Life and one in Brighton for the previous supplier I was working on weekends. I didn’t have enough cash in the bank for a flight at the time, so I drove between the locations! I think it took 8 hours in total.


The Ugly?

The biggest obstacle by far was my own doubts. I was paid quite well by the company I was already modelling for, so, I didn’t want to disrupt that. I had to fly under the radar for the first year (2016) as I wanted to use the money, I was earning from my two sources of income. I was my current employers competition, so that was pretty difficult at times! I think at times, working weeks 9-5, weekends and trying to build a company was prettyintense at times – looking back this probably impacted my mental health in some way.


What niche or hole in the market are you filling with Nude Life?

Ultimately, we’re filling the creative space where people can get out and do something different, explore different body types, meet like-minded people and learn a creative skill. Our bread and butter are hen do’s. Hens are going further afield, spending a longer number of nights away, and searching for more fun and sophisticated activities and places to stay. We have had weekends running 50+ events this year across multiple countries in Europe. Our main aim a couple of years back was to fill the hole for hen parties for life drawing, we’ve achieved that now with the volume of events we are doing and the number of models we have on our books – we’d like to maintain that but explore some other options too. We’ve recently launched corporate classes and public life drawing classes. The formats are different (less about having fun and drinking) and more about learning. We have a fantastic tutor we call upon from the Gagosian Gallery and some great models with all different body types and personalities.


How much has your business changed from day one until now?

In the early days we were just running hen party life drawing in Brighton. We moved on to The South East, now we have extended that to involve all the major cities across the UK and Europe. We’re now running corporate, birthday and public classes in areas of the UK too.


What are your biggest challenges in marketing Nude Life?

Nudity! Most advertising platforms have very strict nudity guidelines. So we just have to get creative 😉 check out our Instagram page @thisisnudelife What types of marketing are most effective for your business? SEO! That’s my professional background and what the company has been built on – we only run advertising in months we know that the cost of acquiring customers will be low.


What is the #1 lesson you learned since starting Nude Life?

I’ve learned that anything in life worth having comes from patience and hard work. With hard work and dedication, anything is possible.

What can we expect from Nude Life in the next year?

I would love it to become an established brand with a voice on nudity. We’ve always maintained we would like to be more than just a company generating profits, but one that has a voice. We’ve started a clothing line (tees embroidered with ‘send nudes’ on!) and I would love this to take off – although we haven’t been able to focus on this as much as we would like to. If we could run life drawing classes across the World, be it hens, corporate classes and public classes then that would be amazing!

Triggering A Growth Surge With Better Marketing

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Prime Product Consulting’s strong network of independent marketing professionals empowers B2B tech companies to exceed their own growth expectations. Recently named Corporate Vision’s Leading Specialist in B2B Marketing Strategies 2019 – USA in the Corporate Excellence Awards, the firm is constantly changing the game for its clients with its unique model of marketing consulting services. Prime Product Consulting CEO Adam Boone reveals the inner-workings of his award-winning company.

Since its inception more than a decade ago, Prime Product Consulting has provided marketing strategy, consulting, go-to market planning and execution services to start-up, pre-growth and other early stage companies.

Prime Product’s model is based on bringing in independent contractor consultants with deep experience in every facet of marketing. The team members have developed and driven successful marketing campaigns with market leaders like Microsoft, Oracle, Cisco, Avaya, GE, AT&T and many others.

This means Prime Product’s clients gain access to proven strategies and guidance used by market leaders without having to pay for expensive marketing firm overhead. Prime Product’s services are highly effective and accessible for smaller companies and start-ups looking to trigger growth surges.

“Essentially, we are basically the Uber or Airbnb of small company marketing,” Boone said. “We quickly bring in ultra-experienced marketers who can rapidly solve your specific marketing challenges when you need the help. However, you are not stuck paying for big overhead or a package of services you don’t really need. Instead you can think of it as high-powered marketing-on-demand.”

Prime Product offers a vast range of marketing strategy and execution services that enable small companies to launch with a bang, to create huge mindshare, and to generate major market demand.

“While many of our clients are in the technology space and business-to-business markets, we also work with retail, direct-to-consumer and services companies,” Boone said.

“We specialize in small-company marketing with expertise in goto-market strategies for start-ups, early stage and pre-growth companies. Our services fall into four primary service areas: Marketing Strategy, Content Marketing, Marketing Campaign Development, and Launch Strategies.”

A central part of the Prime Product model is to enable clients to take advantage of modern digital marketing practices. The firm has created an array of marketing strategy templates that capture industry best practices in areas such as product launches, goto-market strategies, Freemium strategies, Search Engine Optimization, use case development, marketing plan templates and many others.

A talented, dedicated and innovative team of independent consultants forms the backbone of Prime Product. Boone is keen to highlight the significant role the team plays in the firm’s overall success.

“All the associates of Prime Product are independent contractors, each with at least 10 years of experience in marketing strategy and execution for small companies and start-ups. That means we deliver successful, proven marketing programs on rightsized budgets.

“All the Prime Product consultants have played central roles in
launching and marketing startups in a wide range of industries. We know what works and we know how to maximize the impact of your investment.”

Looking ahead, Boone and the team at Prime Product have identified certain marketing challenges and trends that are important for small companies to stay on top of.

“A primary objective for many start-ups is establishing ‘Thought Leadership.’ This is where early-stage companies are driving innovation and disrupting markets as ‘thought leaders’ who are shaping the trends and direction of whole industries.

“We have created a practical framework for such strategies, based on successful innovation launches and market disruption projects we have been part of.

“Another essential challenge is about focus and picking the right marketing strategy. One of the hardest things about marketing is choosing a strategy and sticking to it. Early-stage companies in particular can get easily distracted by new customer needs that pop up as you engage with them. However, it is critically important for small companies to maintain focus and implement a consistent strategy.

“You should certainly experiment as you go and be able to pivot when something takes off. But you will never identify the thing that touches off your growth surge if you can’t maintain focus on a consistent core strategic path.

“Since our inception, we have helped countless small companies to refine and clarify their strategies, and employ techniques such as targeted messaging, framing, customer journey analysis and persona analysis. These are all part of effective strategic focus.”

Boone offered up these elements as parts of a successful formula for market disruption and rapid growth. Or, as he described it, “We enable our clients to punch far above their weight classes.”



Contact: Adam Boone, CEO
Company: Prime Product Consulting
Web Address: www.prime-product.com
Email: [email protected]

How to create an eco-friendly office

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With climate change high on the news agenda, and reports showing that there has been a 53% reduction in single use plastic in the last year*, we are more mindful of our energy consumption and contribution to the carbon footprint than ever before. But what steps are UK businesses taking to become more eco-friendly? 

Whether you are already making steps to become a zero waste office, or are a startup that wants to play its part in reducing emissions, the UK’s biggest independent tech retailer Ebuyer has five top tips on simple changes every office can introduce to create a greener office.


Be mindful of paper use

Excessive paper use is something that most offices will be guilty of, but is one of the quickest changes to implement. It is becoming more common for offices to implement a zero printing policy to keep the paper waste down, but asking employees to be mindful of what they are printing and reserving it for important documents only should see a drastic reduction in the amount of paper used each week. 

Another easy way to reduce paper consumption is by ensuring employees are not printing personal documents in the workplace – recent research conducted by Ebuyer found that over three-quarters (77%) of office workers regularly print personal documents while at work, with an average of thirteen pages being printed per person, per month – a substantial amount of paper use that can easily be avoided. 

Update the recycling options 

Recycling isn’t just for the home, and offices should be set up to let workers easily recycle – whether that be plastic bottles from a lunchtime meal deal, to completed documents that are ready to be shredded. Setting up seperate bins in communal places such as kitchens and near printers will encourage employees to think about what they are throwing away. For workplaces where workers can make their own lunch, providing employees with cutlery, plates and mugs will help reduce the amount of single use plastic that needs to be thrown away each week.    

Update your technology 

Technology is a necessity for many businesses, but simple changes to technology and habits can reduce your carbon footprint. New computers and monitors are more energy efficient than machines that are a few years old, so ensure you are monitoring this and replacing where necessary. If your technology is being updated, many businesses now offer the option to safely recycle your old appliances in line with the WEEE regulations.  

Standby mode is one of the most wasteful uses of energy, so make sure that when they are not in use, machines are shut down completely and multi-plug adapters are switched off by the mains. Not only will this ensure power use around the office is minimal, but it will save you money on your energy costs in the long run. 

Make the most of the environment

If your office or work space allows it, making the most of the environment can not only help reduce energy emissions, but can create a better working environment. Ensure artificial lighting is turned off in meeting rooms and spaces with plenty of natural light, and encourage employees to open windows to manage the room temperature, rather than relying on the air conditioning. 

Go green with office supplies 

From 100% recycled paper to eco-friendly cleaning products, making smart choices when it comes to your office supplies can make a huge difference to the environmental impact of your office. The majority of common stationery, from Post-it Notes to mouse mats, now have a sustainable option, so spending some time choosing the best option for you will pay off in the long run – both environmentally and financially. 

To find out more about Ebuyer’s business offering, visit: https://www.ebuyer.com/office-stationery 

How to create a content marketing calendar

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How to create a content marketing calendar

It’s easy to find stories about businesses that jumped on the content marketing bandwagon, then jumped straight off. They created a handful of 500-word posts, added them to their blog, promoted them on social, and kept it going for a few months while they waited for the promised inbound queries to arrive.

But nothing happened. 

Why didn’t it work? Lack of focus, lack of topic discipline, lack of targeting, and lack of a plan.

To avoid this trap the marketing director at Datadial, Matthew Sawyer, has mapped out where you should be going and how you can get there using a content marketing calendar.

A content or editorial calendar is an essential piece in the content marketing process. It’s a core management tool to keep execution on track. But it’s also robust enough to provide much needed structure when a full-scale strategy isn’t ready. So, here are six essential steps to creating a content marketing calendar.

Step 1: Ideation 

If you have a well-defined strategy this will be easier as a lot of the information you need will already be defined. If not, there are some key questions to answer about the type of content that fits your brand and target customer.

·         What is your brand’s personality – and is it different online? 

·         How will content reflect that personality – or, will you diverge from it in order to address a specific or sensitive issue?

·         What pain points, questions, or issues are prospective customers looking for help with?

·         Where are the trusted sources of information in your industry, and where can you add value by adding your brand’s voice?

 

Step 2: Create the calendar

A screen full of blank rows and columns can be daunting. Start by populating the calendar with things you know are already agreed, and consider adding industry milestones like trade events, annual studies, key dates or commemorative days that can influence the timing and content of what you create.

That can include webinars, industry events, press releases, big branded content pieces like eBooks or industry reports & conferences you’re already confirmed for.

Here’s a sample of what it might look like:

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Map out 1-3 months if the broader strategy is still being defined. Go for six months/two quarters if you have more activity already in the pipeline.

Step 3: Leave some blank spaces

A content calendar is by definition a proactive tool. So, don’t forget to leave space for the ad hoc or reactive opportunities that relevant news and emerging trends can create. Perhaps it’s a huge merger between competitors, maybe it’s a consumer trend you want to have a point-of-view on. The weekly news cycle can throw up all sorts of opportunities for content around topics that are trending now.

Step 4: Observe and measure

Keep a close eye on content analytics. The calendar will be a living and breathing document, it’s fine to make course corrections. If something isn’t engaging readers, edit it or pull it. If one topic or asset is generating loads of interest, go back to brainstorming and think of new content executions that can maximise that audience. Keep another close eye on the competition. They might be doing something right and there’s no shame in taking inspiration from elsewhere.

Step 5: Finalizing the calendar

Ultimately you want to have a mix of content lengths and formats to accommodate the preferences of different readers. Put the time and effort into at least one well-researched and original long-form blog post. That means one-piece between 1,200 and 2,000 words, alongside 1-2 shorter blog posts as more reactive content. Even though people want shorter pieces they can digest quickly, they’re also willing to stick with a longer article if they find it valuable.

Create monthly visual content too via infographics, statistics or video.  Not only is this format highly share-able on social, in terms of volume they receive more downloads, embeds & engagement overall.

Finally, publish a quarterly whitepaper. Whitepapers and eBooks are a great way to delve even deeper into a subject you’ve covered in one of your long-form blog posts. As they are weighty and in-depth, they make great assets for content upgrades and lead generation campaigns. They also provide a brilliant format for content recycling. If you’ve written 5 or 6 long form blog posts on a similar subject, gather them together as chapters of an eBook, then post it to your website.


Step 6: Don’t just publish, distribute

After each piece of new content goes live, promote it on social media, in your email newsletter, in PPC campaigns, or if the asset is rich enough like an eBook – create a dedicated landing page and use it to gather leads. Plug the ‘break’ dates and distribution channels for each piece of content into the calendar as well, to ensure the promotion piece isn’t missed out.

After that it’s a matter of measuring the effectiveness of each asset you’ve created. The KPIs for should be set according to the stage in the sales cycle the content is meant to influence. That can range from unique user sessions for blog posts meant to fill the top of the funnel, to leads generated, and sales converted.

Revisit the calendar regularly to make sure that everything is on track. A content marketing calendar can be an incredibly useful tool – making your job easier and demonstrating the thought process behind your work. Use it to full advantage.

This piece was brought to you by the experts at https://www.datadial.net

Young homeless people to be encouraged into the creative industry with new ‘ready’ initiative

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Young homeless people to be encouraged into the creative industry with new ‘ready’ initiative

Young homeless people are to be encouraged into the creative industry by The READY Initiative – a ground-breaking, 15-month salaried apprenticeship for young people who have experienced homelessness and are more suited to a creative career.

More than 100,000 young people ask for help with homelessness each year in the UK, according to Centrepoint [1]. And unsurprisingly, finding employment is tough. Often, the jobs they find are manual or service-led roles. Yet research suggests many of these individuals find it hard to stay in such roles as they are highly creative. Which is where The READY Initiative comes in.

The READY Initiative has been developed by leading marketing services agency RAPP UK, in partnership with youth homelessness charity Centrepoint, education specialist Creative Pioneers, and homelessness experts at Cardiff University. READY aims to find and develop these disadvantaged individuals by giving them the skills and aptitude to flourish and grow in any creative workplace, not just advertising.

RAPP UK Chief Creative Officer Al Mackie said, “The READY Initiative is all about standing up for individuality and we’re pleased to say that READY has been designed to find talent that is easily overlooked, through circumstances beyond their own control.” 

The salaried apprenticeship runs for 15 months, during which time participants will work at RAPP UK on live briefs and receive the ongoing support of a bespoke mentor network, an agency starting salary and the same benefits as other full-time employees. 

The successful apprentice will also be enrolled on the Creative Pioneers Junior Content Producer course. This involves spending a day each week learning about art direction, copywriting, video production, social media, blogging, and content creation skills.

Centrepoint, which supports young people who have experience of homelessness, has helped to recruit candidates and will offer them ongoing support, as well as support and advice to RAPP UK.  

A brief to test candidates’ creative potential was set by RAPP UK and shortlisted candidates have been taken forward to spend time in the agency. After three-weeks, one candidate will be taken forward to the apprenticeship scheme whilst the remaining candidates will receive career coaching and support.

Employability and skills expert Sadie Odeogberin from Centrepoint, explains, “The challenge for the Government and third sector organisations is to bridge the gap between the needs of employers and goals and aspirations of young people. We’re excited to be part of The READY Initiative which reflects this need. We’d love to see more creative companies getting involved with these young people.”

Mackie added, “We hope The READY Initiative will encourage other agencies to get out there and take meaningful action around recruitment, meaningful action around the industry’s work force and meaningful action to be truly inclusive.”

RAPP UK, Centrepoint and Creative Pioneers believe The READY Initiative should be an open platform and is inviting anyone interested in learning more about how they can replicate it in their own company to contact them.


[1] Centrepoint’s Youth Homelessness Databank estimates that last year 103,000 16-24 year-olds asked their council for help because they were homeless or at risk. 

3 Trends for 2020 in the Marketing, Communications and Events Industry

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By Patrick Howells MD at The fresh Group – Award winning global Insight led Events & Communications agency.

This year has been quite pivotal at The Fresh Group. We have won 4 industry awards so far, as well as secured several key long-term contracts, even in the face of Brexit concerns. But like any UK business leader at the moment, I am asking myself – what will 2020 bring to the industry? And what trends can we prepare for to remain ahead of the curve.

Looking at the state of the industry, it is no secret that the retail and automotive industries will continue to face great difficulty. Not to mention the closure of many high street bank branches and the recent collapse of Thomas Cook, it is fair to say 2019 has been tough and 2020 seems to be heading in the same direction.

This said, it’s not all doom and gloom. Below are the three areas the fresh team and I have predicted will grow within the Marketing, Communications and Events Service industry, followed by how we as a business have prepared to capitalise on them.

1)       Experiential Marketing

It truly is a minefield for marketers at the moment when tracking the success of online for campaigns, as the measurability of these channels can be challenged when you consider the reality of fake followers, fake reporting, bots, bad sites, changes in algorithms etc… Getting cut-through and actually proving it is harder than ever. This is why the solution for 2020 lies in the physical world.

Experiential Marketing will still have a very strong place for brands and businesses in 2020, especially when we consider the amazing technological advancements such as voice activation, AR, VR and 4D sensory applications that enable brands to elevate those experiences, these coupled with the introduction of 5G speeds means that the sky will be the limit in terms of interactivity and connectivity at an event. The ability to connect with people, human to human, will still be the one sure way to make a meaningful connection with customers. The art will be how this is then followed up, reflected and measured in the online world.

2)       Internal Comms takes the spotlight

Businesses are recognising that internal communications departments can make a huge difference to the bottom line, as well as making the difference when a company has to adapt to change, in an era where change is now the norm. Internal communication departments are investing in upskilling teams to be better content creators, in order to keep employees engaged.

The amount of communication and social tools companies can use to engage their employees has never been so diverse and clients are demanding that communication agencies understand that one size doesn’t fit all, internal communication has to be bespoke and considered for each audience. We anticipate clients will want internal communications agencies to be more creative and approach their employee communication campaigns in the same way branding and marketing agencies approach external campaigns. Which is why we have continued to invest in comms planning and geared up to apply content marketing tactics to future internal communication campaigns for our clients in 2020.

3)            Clients want more for their money

Many economic pressures have impacted marketing and events budgets, meaning that there is no room for any project that lacks a real purpose for brands and businesses. Agencies that can offer clients more than a few core services will be able to adapt and provide better support for clients whose budgets are being challenged. Many agencies just like ours have pivoted their focus slightly in response to this trend in order to stay adaptable. For example, we have recruited particular skill sets and refined our creative processes, as well as our delivery models, to make sure we provide real value for our clients. We have also ramped up our service offering alongside the events and experiential services by creating fresh’s strategic comms and social content planning departments, closing the gap between the offline and the online experience as much as possible for our clients.

This insight led strategy has allowed clients to recognise the benefits of longer-term partnerships with us here at fresh, reflected in the multiple year contracts we’ve secured this year. As these three areas continue to trend, we also expect to see Marketing, Events and Internal Comms departments across businesses of all sizes becoming more streamlined which will also be reflected in the briefs they provide agencies. Any leading marketers, communicators and event planners that prepare for this wholistic requirement, especially in terms of skill and creativity levels in their individual teams, the better for 2020.

Elements of Web Design That Are Crucial to Ensuring Repeat Traffic

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In the modern-day, several website essentials can assist in growing a start-up business. Over the years, digitalisation has revolutionised a number of different industries. Additionally, for organisations that are looking to find their feet within increasingly competitive markets, having a well-designed online platform can make a huge difference. With this in mind, we’re going to outline some of the most crucial elements of website design that contribute to ensuring repeat traffic.

A Consistent Theme

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While many factors contribute to the creation of a successful website, having a clear theme mustn’t be overlooked. First opinions are hard to change, and, as a result, making a positive impact is vital as consumers will form an impression within seconds of accessing any website. Although simplicity is advised in other markets, 66 per cent of people would prefer a well-designed platform over something nondescript. A consistent theme will determine a website’s aesthetics, and, if chosen correctly, will hold visitor interests.

In recent times, appropriately selected website themes have contributed to the growth of many digital markets, including online casinos. Award-winning platforms such as Mr Green implement various stylistic elements into their live betting and casino opportunities, along with also developing contemporary slot titles that follow specific themes. Starburst, for example, has been created with a space-orientated theme, while Book of Ra delves into the mysterious world of ancient Egypt – not only in its gameplay but also its overall design – in seeking to attract and retain the interests of consumers.

Colour and Font Choice

Even though it may be an overlooked aspect of web design, typography is at the heart of any successful website. While selecting a vast array of different fonts isn’t advisable, there must be enough to ensure that the numerous sections are easily differentiated. Much like when selecting a theme, too much variation can result in webpages lacking purpose. Crucially, the chosen font, like colour, must evoke positive emotions within the visitor to increase the chances of generating repeat traffic.

Additionally, choosing the right colour for any font is also vital. After selecting the theme, ensuring that the text is readable and contrasts any background colours plays a big role in increasingly readability. Moreover, along with being unique to businesses, colours such as blue, green, violet and yellow create a calming environment that is more enjoyable to prospective customers.

User-Friendly Focus

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For those looking to maximise web traffic, having a user-friendly site is essential. According to a recent study, 88 per cent of Americans experience negative feelings including annoyance and disrespect when websites perform poorly. As mentioned above, first impressions count for a lot, and that makes minimal load time pivotal. Components should fully load in approximately five seconds – any longer than that, and users are likely to focus their attentions elsewhere.

Of course, digital platforms should be created with the users in mind, and with people of different abilities now online, navigation needs to be as simple as possible across multiple devices. According to research by Google, 40 per cent of users who struggle to access a mobile website will go to a competitor’s site instead. Ultimately, not only does a user-friendly focus attract new customers, but it also plays a vital role in retaining existing visitors.

Poor Websites Can Drive Users to Competitors

Inadequate designs and complicated layouts can be the difference between success and failure. However, for each of the elements mentioned, ensuring that they are carefully integrated, regularly updated, and suitably structured can be the catalyst to thrive in the digital era.

World Textile Leader Deploys Aryaka to Initiate Network Transformation in China

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Aryaka today announced that Coats, the world’s leading industrial thread business, has selected Aryaka to streamline the performance of their business applications across its China sites.

Headquartered in the UK and with 19,000 employees across 50 countries, Coats has already achieved a 300% improvement in employee user experience since deploying Aryaka networking services. The company is addressing the challenges of connecting its locations in China to its European offices by replacing its legacy, underperforming MPLS solution with Aryaka’s global managed connectivity delivered as a service.

At a time when existing Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) contracts came up for renewal, IT teams and executives at Coats agreed its existing MPLS solution was incapable of fully and reliably supporting new global applications such as Office 365, which is used by Coats across all of its worldwide sites.

“User collaboration tools are very important for Coats, as is our suite of business tools hosted online. China is a critical region for us and we needed a solution that could guarantee user satisfaction when accessing our online tools. Aryaka was the only provider that was able to optimise and compress the traffic to our critical applications both in the cloud and on hosted datacentre providing a simple design and fully managed service,” said Tania Sanchez, Head of Global Architecture, Coats.

The project was completed in partnership with Aryaka’s local German partner and official Microsoft Cloud Solution Partner, GAB Enterprise IT Solutions, which introduced Aryaka’s solution to Coats and managed the communication between the two companies during implementation.

Brought in to overcome the lack of reliability provided by existing MPLS technology, Aryaka’s global connectivity solution was given an inadvertent test run prior to the official project completion, when Coats’ MPLS network had performance issues in 2018. This saw all Coats’ network traffic automatically routed over Aryaka’s private, managed SD-WAN network with significantly improved performance compared to their legacy connections.

Coats thread is used to create more than 450 million pairs of shoes and more than 100 million car airbags every year, as well as support specialist textiles and clothing for the medical, health, food production, and personal protection industries.

“Integration with the mission-critical applications we rely on every day keeps our business running smoothly, and Aryaka’s services ensure employees in China have the bandwidth, speed, and stability they need to conduct business on a daily basis,” added Sanchez.

Aryaka supported Coats in bringing its Singapore data centre online, an additional site to be connected to the global network. Aryaka also assisted the manufacturer with integrating Zscaler’s Cloud Security service to provide enterprise-grade firewall protection to cloud services. Last year, Aryaka announced a partnership to integrate Zscaler Cloud Security into its WAN platform.

“Compatibility is critical,” Sanchez continued, “and Aryaka’s integrated security solution helped us seamlessly secure our networks, bringing the bandwidth to connect with cloud and cyber tools such as Azure and ZScaler.”

This critical work to Coats’ global network infrastructure signals completion of the first roll-out phase of new networking services which not only includes their Singapore location, but also offices in Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Shanghai, and the European data centre in Vienna.

“Coats has a long, rich history that includes being the thread of choice for Thomas Edison in his experiments to invent the lightbulb and being appointed the official thread supplier to the Royal Shakespeare Company. There’s no reason companies with this longevity should be held back by legacy infrastructure incapable of supporting business objectives in the 21st century” said Ian McEwan, Senior Vice President and General Manager at Aryaka.

“We are proud to be the wide- area network of choice for Coats and helping them embark on their digital transformation with a seamless global network delivered as a service.”

Deployed by hundreds of global enterprises, Aryaka is an industry leader in managed WAN solutions, delivering improved and predictable performance for cloud and on-premise applications by routing enterprise traffic through privately owned Points of Presence (PoPs). Aryaka’s global network solutions have quickly become the only viable MPLS replacement solution for enterprises requiring alternatives to legacy WAN infrastructures.

Search Specialists of Choice

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Aqueous Digital are a Digital Marketing agency specialising in Search Engine Marketing. Following their success in CV’s 2019 Marketing, PR & Design Awards, we profile the firm and caught up with Jonathan Guy who provided us with a glimpse into the inner workings of the innovative marketing agency.

Established in 2011, Aqueous Digital are a specialist Search Engine Marketing agency with a focus on SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and PPC (Pay Per Click).

Over the years, the team at Aqueous Digital have worked with a broad range of customers from a range of sectors, but in recent years they have begun to focus more on Professional services, e-commerce and shopping, and Manufacturing. The team’s approach to working with new customers, is through a range of networking, telemarketing and direct approach. However, many of their clients buy into them because of one word; TRUST. “When the meet us and understand why we do what we do, they start to trust that we can deliver the results they are looking for” said Jonathan.

Going into further detail about the services the firm provides, Jonathan continues by telling us about Aqueous Digital’s overall mission, and the steps the team takes to ensure that they not only meet the requirements set by their clients, but also surpass them.

“Here at Aqueous Digital, our company mission statement is ‘To be the Search Specialists of choice’ as we want people to recognise us as being outstanding in that field. We don’t claim to be a firm that does absolutely everything for everyone; we’d rather specialise and be very good at the things we do as we believe that this gives us, and our customers, a competitive advantage.”

Enabling the firm to deliver these exceptional services, is the creative, talented and hard-working team who form the backbone of Aqueous Digital. When discussing the internal culture, Jonathan is keen to highlight the significant role the team play in the overall success of the firm.

“Everything we do is based on the skills, knowledge and development of our people. Our company vision is ‘Developing people’s expertise to help our customers succeed’ as we recognise that investment we make in the people who work for us leads to a better return for our customers. As such, we spend large sums of money on training and development every year.” Given the success their customers have it seems that the results of this strategy speaks for itself, with most customers staying with the firm for over three years and some having been with them since their inception.

Looking ahead to what the future holds, the team at Aqueous Digital will continue to deliver their exceptional services which has seen them become an award winning Agency, with their most recent recognition of being selected in Corporate Vision’s 2019 Marketing, PR & Design Awards where they were awarded the title 2019’s Recognised Leaders in SEO – Northwest England.

Bringing the interview to a close, Jonathan signs off by revealing the exciting plans which lie in the pipeline for the firm, touching on how far the company has grown in the last few years.


“Our stated plan in 2016 was to be a £1m turnover firm by 2020 and we have growth plans in place to achieve that. We were supported in January 2018 by an investment from the Northern Powerhouse fund and this has helped us to move offices, double our staff numbers and double our turnover in 2018. In 2019, we are looking to double again and are on track to deliver that result.”

Company: Aqueous Digital

Address: Oak House, Sutton Quays Business Park, Runcorn, Cheshire, United Kingdom, WA7 3EH

Telephone: +44 1928 566 777

Web Address: www.aqueous-digital.co.uk

Rising Stars in Marketing

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Since their inception, The Individual Agency have focused on clear targets, truly differentiated brands, relevant communications and ongoing measurement to transform their clients’ brands and overall businesses.

The Individual Agency creates engaging brands and communications for a range of clients, both big and small, across a vast range of sectors. Priding themselves on their ethos of only working in a particular sector once, for one client; given how immersed they become in a brand and the business overall, the team at The Individual Agency feel it is unethical to then work with a competitor at any point in future. Michelle begins by going into further detail about the areas the team at The Individual Agency specialises within to ensure they deliver a personalised service to their clients.

“Here at The Individual Agency, we work with likeminded people/ brands not just as many people as we can; volume is not what we’re about. We don’t just build brands, we take them to heart; we aim to tell an engaging story that makes sure our clients’ brands are seen as individual and stand out from the competitive set.

“At the heart of everything we do is our ‘Brand Build’; a logical, straightforward process that was designed to build engaging brands from the ground up. We believe you get out of your brand what you put in, and putting solid foundations in place will provide a strong platform to build upon, for all future brand communications. Once we complete the Brand Build, we then take full responsibility for all marketing communications, working in house for a number of clients to ensure KPIs are achieved.”
Over the years, the team at The Individual Agency have built an impressive portfolio, accumulating clients from a diverse range of sectors. From working with biosafety cabinets (bakerco.com) through to baths (trojan-baths. co.uk), freezepops (mr-freezepops. co.uk) to bedding (littleslumbers. co.uk), the firm have ensured that their approach to each client and project has remained the same. How the team are able to achieve this, is something that Michelle is keen to explain.

“Firstly, we need to truly understand their ‘targets’ – both internally and externally, what profit are we trying to drive for the business but then who is our target audience and what are they looking for. Once we have all of the information we require to derive insights etc., we can then establish the ‘brand’ and complete differentiation to the rest of the market, along with the messaging that we know will resonate with the target audiences.

“With clear targets and a truly differentiated brand, we can then look to communicate to best effect – we always write a 12 month tactical marketing plan so that the business knows exactly what is happening and when, the cost associated and who is responsible – it makes for easy implementation. The final aspect to our approach is measurement. Monthly reporting on agreed KPIs is crucial and something that is discussed from the outset with all clients.”
Enabling the firm to deliver such a high-standard of service, is the talented, inventive and committed team which forms the backbone of The Individual Agency. When discussing the internal culture, Michelle reveals the significant role the team play in the overall success of the firm.

“The team at The Individual Agency are the fundamental reason we achieve everything that we do. Each and every person is
completely dedicated to delivering a fantastic service, above and beyond what is ever expected from a marketing and design agency. As a team, we are small but perfectly formed (there’s currently 10 of us) – we are all of a senior level and challenge one another constantly to come up with new creative ideas and try new ways of working. Everybody has an opinion and everybody is immersed in the sectors in which we operate…this can be a real mental challenge when the industries are so, so different but it’s a challenge we all relish as it means we are constantly learning too. The respect and trust we have for one another shows in the work we produce, as it is always a collaborative approach to any brief.”

Over the years the team at The Individual Agency have worked on numerous successful projects, many of which have been recognised and awarded. The firm found success recently in Corporate Vision’s 2019 Marketing, PR & Design Awards where they were righteously awarded the title Most Client-Focused Branding Agency 2019 – United Kingdom. Working closely with both companies and brands who are viewed as ‘rising stars’, those with the desire and ability to challenge the market leaders and the norms of their particular sector, with the ambition to drive change quickly and without bureaucracy, as Michelle informs us.
“Our proven approach gets results which is why we win all new business through word of mouth only, relying on those for who we have delivered to recommend us to like-minded businesses.

“All client testimonials say the same – we understand their brand better than they do and treat it as if it were our own, giving ourselves strict targets and raising the profile of the brand both internally and externally.”
Looking ahead to what the future holds, the team at The Individual Agency will continue to deliver an exceptional level of service to their clients which not only meet their requirements but also surpass their expectations. Bringing the inter
view to a close, Michelle signs off by highlighting the main goal she has for the team at The Individual Agency.
“Ultimately, we love what we do, who we get to work with and the brands we get to bring to life, so in 2019 we will continue to do the same!”

Contact: Michelle Edgar-Parsons Company: The Individual Agency

Address: Blayds House, Leeds, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom, LS1 4AD

Telephone: 0113 242 3712 Email: [email protected]

Web Address: www.theindividualagency.com