Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Creativity’ Category

Farewell to the Thin White Duke

January 11th, 2016


I suspect that I am among the many people who have spent the day listening to David Bowie and following links to video and interview clips. You may find it strange that I’ve chosen to post about his passing on my business blog. But if ever anyone epitomised creativity, longevity, the power of reinvention, artistry, professionalism and a passion for doing the best possible work, then I think it is him.

Despite all the big things that are happening in the world right now, it seems only right to me that he is the lead story on the news and the key trend in my social media feeds. Bowie has been part of our cultural landscape for a long time. And, man, did he know how to communicate!

Insert your favourite Bowie lyric here.

Get out of your head!

March 13th, 2013


So, let me begin by saying I’m not advocating that we all “Tune in, turn on and drop out”*. It’s just that I’ve had a number of conversations recently that have all boiled down to the same basic principle:

If you want to make your marketing / communication successful, you need to get out of your own head and into the heads of your customers / audience.

Whether you’re trying to put together a basic flyer to take to an event, or thinking about how to structure a website, or planning a presentation, or wanting to develop new product or service offerings – the same principle applies.

Now, I’m the first to admit that this is often easier said than done. It’s natural for your perspective to be focused on your business when you’re working in it every day. But making the effort to change that perspective often provides powerful insight.

For example, you may discover that what you thought you were selling is actually not what your customers think they are buying from you (yes, really!). Or you may realise that the level of information you are providing is out of sync with the problems or needs that your customers have, so it doesn’t encourage them to buy. Or you may trigger a line of thinking that opens up a new market for your services. I could go on . . .

. . . but in the meantime, why not give it a try? And if you’d like some help, well, you know where I am.


PS – if you don’t get the “Tune in, turn on, drop out” reference, it’s me showing my age: it’s a phrase popularised by uber-hippy Timothy Leary back in the 60s. And I hasten to add that I wasn’t there!


Why you should learn to love research

August 29th, 2012


Many (many) years ago, as I embarked on my career in communications, I was taught a magic formula: RACE. It’s a very simple mnemonic for planning any kind of campaign: Research, Analysis, Communication, Evaluation. I’m sure that there are many others like it, in marketing and other industries.

Note where it starts: Research. The boring bit, the hard work bit, the “don’t even know where to start with this” bit. But, also, the crucial bit.

For smaller businesses, finding the time and resources to do your market research can be a challenge in itself. But it’s still important to avoid the temptation to market on a hunch. Business owners are close to their business, close to their products and services. They have to be. So it’s easy to fall into the trap of “just knowing” what your customers are thinking, or what the opportunities are for your new product or service idea.

I’m afraid that when someone tells me “marketing doesn’t work” or “it’s a waste of money” or “it’s not right for my business”, I can usually be pretty sure that they haven’t done their research before splurging precious budget on a bunch of new brochures or a high volume email campaign.

The good news is, market research doesn’t have to be a chore and it doesn’t have to be expensive. There are plenty of interesting, creative ways to gather vital intelligence about the ecosystem your business is operating in. And, in my opinion, any information that you can pull together that helps you to test your hunch and make better decisions before you start your marketing activity is worth the time and effort.

Here’s a few TigerNash Top Tips on how to inject some enthusiasm into your market research:

  1. Draw pictures – thinking about your business in a visual way can give you a whole new perspective. Try mind-mapping the environment you operate in, or the problems that your customers have.
  2. Get online – the internet opens doors to places it was hard to go before. Have a good look at your competitors, especially the ones you think are really good. (And, believe me, every business has competitors – if you think you don’t, ask yourself “what else do my customers spend money on?”)
  3. Recognition – who’s winning awards in your field? How and what for?
  4. Stay fresh – involve everyone in the business (even if there’s only two of you). You never know where insight or a fresh approach to gathering information might come from.
  5. Ask your customers – after all, you want more people like them, right? (More on this in my next post.)


When putting this post together, we did some digging into the “Steve Jobs didn’t believe in market research” myth.  It turns out that it’s not that he didn’t believe in market research, it’s that he just didn’t do it. Why? Because he didn’t need to. Apple’s team consists of the world’s best designers, developers, marketers and more, all with a passion for the product. The steps they follow to innovation ensure as near product perfection as possible. And you can be absolutely sure they know their market. For more on this, read this fascinating article by Alain Breillatt.

Reflections on pride and passion

August 15th, 2012


Even though we’re in the lull after the Olympics (and before the Paralympics begin), the Games are still a huge talking point. Everyone has stories about which sports they discovered, who their new sporting heroes are, what they thought about the opening and closing ceremonies. So I’ve been reflecting a little too.

Among many amazing experiences, the opening ceremony still stands out for me.  I felt it tapped into our British culture in a superbly visual story: green fields and industry; humour and drama; silence and music. I read many blog posts and comments in the following days, but one stood out for me. Mary Hamilton, blogger and journalist, ended her comment “Britain: This is for everyone” with this statement: “It made people proud. It gave the Olympics a different meaning. This is why culture matters, and why storytelling is important: it makes meaning. Without it, we’re just a collection of people. With it, we get to be British.”

“Culture and storytelling make meaning”. When you’re talking about your business, what story are you telling? What makes it compelling and what will make people (employees, suppliers, customers) want to be part of it? In marketing jargon, we talk about target audiences, key messages, tone of voice – these are all just ways of thinking about the process of telling the story.

Now is the perfect time to take inspiration from the Games and grow your story. My advice to any business is to communicate as the company you aspire to be, not just the company you are today. Believe in your own story and be realistic, optimistic and proud. When the glow from the Games has faded away, the story will remain.