About Stuart G. Hall

Making a positive difference one day at a time. #London #Leicester

Marketing is all about finding and supplying demand

Here’s an easy assertion to kick off this blog post, marketing is all about demand. Why? Because one thing that startup marketing teaches you is that you’ve got very little in tangible terms if you don’t have much in the way of demand for your product or service. But I’m not writing this to focus on startups, on using this to help focus regular SME marketing on demand. Why? Because it works. If you have something which your existing customers or potential customers want, then the regular business activity to turn that demand into hard cash follows accordingly.

Of course, with an established business it may not be clear where new demand lies. You already do a great job servicing existing clients with our existing offering, but how do you go beyond that, focusing on demand as your guide? Well, this is a bit of a growth hacking type challenge in my opinion. In the sense that often the answers to growth hacking within an existing business are often connected to existing activity, you’re not trying to make a ‘great leap forward’ more a matter of connecting the dots with what you offer and what customers want. Rather than go into more detail on this theme let me give you an example, which I suspect is what you want to read about (we’re back to demand, see!).

In a marketing role working for an expanding recruitment business MHR London, looking to find new business for their temporary staff offering, I recently undertook some online market research into how the Christmas shopping scene was likely to change over the next few years, drawing on my previous online experience from like of eBay. What I found reading leading industry magazine ‘Shopping Centre’ quoting Patrick O’Brien, principal analyst at Verdict last Christmas, is that:

“Shoppers have greater confidence in online retailing now and are prepared to leave holiday purchases right up until just before Christmas. This is supported by the rise of click & collect services. Retailers have rushed to develop and market their click & collect services, leaving shoppers the convenience of collecting purchases in store instead of having to ensure they are at home at the right time,” he concluded.

Building on this initial analysis I looked for insight which supported the case for the demand-led fact that the pre-Christmas rush is only going to get bigger. Overall UK shoppers’ click and collect grows in popularity (from 35% in 2014 to 76% by 2017) according to retail analysts Planet Retail. This is because from a consumer pov the number one barrier to shopping online is the cost of delivery. Similarly, the Planet Retail research showed that 1 in 4 online shoppers are deterred by inconvenient delivery times.

To conclude this blog post, what I’ve done is put two and two together. Firstly that click and collect services is rapidly growing. Secondly, following confidence in online shopping to deliver the goods, customers are likely to leave collection more and more to the last minute. Which means I’ve putting together the online Christmas shopping behavourial analysis from Verdict, and the click and collect analysis from Planet Retail, I’ve now found a potential niche market for a specific service of the recruitment company worth focusing on. Namely the supply of high quality Christmas temporary staff, backed up by MHR’s expert hiring and support, to shopping centres to ensure the quality and quantity staff to meet the pressures created by the expanding Christmas rush. Merry Xmas!

How far has crowdsourcing finance come in five years?


After watching this BBC report on crowdfunding I started wondering how the piece I wrote for ICAEW’s community in December 2008 on the power of crowdsourcing ‘Is web 2.0 enabling a new kind of financing?’ looks now in July 2014?

Certainly crowdfunding startups through investment (equity) has come along way, first with Crowdcube and more recently Seedrs, which was inspired by Zopa.


Screenshot 2014-07-11 17.10.23

Continue reading

From one startup to another, via Chicago and Leicester

A short anecdotal story linking one innovative global startup which launched in Chicago to my own mini startup which launched in Leicester last year?

Back in 2006 I joined MedicExchange to launch a click-to-use software product designed to disrupt the medical imaging market that tied manufacturer’s machinery to their software. When I left the company in 2007 after two trips to RSNA in Chicago (staying at the famous Ambassador East Hotel) I’d also got interested in the property market, thanks to our CEO, who’d also invested in bricks and mortar.

Cotton_Mill

I did an unusual thing though and instead of buying in London where I worked, I bought a converted factory apartment in the centre of Leicester. Crazy huh? I know, luckily my entrepreneurial drive didn’t completely fail me, and eventually after finishing a contract with Sony in 2012 I got the startup bug again.  Continue reading

One way I’ve used to growth hack a business to create social ROI

Featured

There’s nothing complicated about this method. It simply involves the following elements:

  1. A copy of your latest business plan, or a similar document.
  2. A day or half day according to your availability.
  3. The desire to align your marketing and overall business aims and objectives.

In the successful example working with curry snack food retailer Mindi’s I created a half day workshop using the business model canvas approach, and focused on a social model canvas version, which aligned with their business objectives. To note they hadn’t got a detailed business plan to work with, even though their business was already up and running.

Anyhow the results speak for themselves. Since the June 2013 workshop PR coverage rocketed, and the business has gone from strength to strength. I don’t claim credit for their hard work or product innovation, simply for the approach in aligning their marketing and business model canvas, to create a simple shared understanding between the co-founders of what needed to be done.

And as I observed following discussions at the excellent Socialbakers’ Engage 2014 event yesterday where they launched a new social ad analytics tool, there is a powerful added value to this approach to setting up your social media marketing. Going forward by aligning activity to business objectives going forward it will be much simpler to measure your social ROI, as demonstrated by Oliver Blanchard:

Six surprising facts about potential startup founders

Party Time

Party Time

Teaming up with Bloomberg Beta, the ‘startup signals tracker’ Mattermark studied 1.5m budding entrepreneurs in the US to see who was likely to be a startup founder.

Below are the six surprising facts they discovered – I have to confess pretty much all six surprised me. I wonder what Berlin Startup Ranking will find out about London startups, when it launches in the capital in the next few weeks?

  • 38% of venture-backed founders are over 40 years old

  • Only 15% of venture-backed founders have a Computer Science degree

  • Management consultants are more than 2x more likely to be venture-backed founders than engineers

  • 43% of venture backed founders worked at a venture-backed company immediately before founding

  • Two thirds of venture-backed founders were not in a senior leadership position prior to founding

  • Contrary to conventional wisdom, being “stuck” in the same company or position for a long time (even a decade) does not diminish your likelihood of becoming a founder