Sunday, 17 April 2011

Marketing. It's not just for the big people! New book tells you what you should know and do

Marketing is much misunderstood and often maligned. Its buzzwords and ‘coolness’ frightens many and bewilders others. Yet every business, from the local car-wash to the world's top brands, must engage in marketing every single day, points out Simon Middleton, author of What You Need To Know About Marketing (£12.99, Capstone, 2011), and one of the UK’s best known brand experts.

“So many people inside companies both large and small, as well as in charities and other organisations know that they need to get to grips with marketing, but are dazzled by the constant flux of ideas and the fear of complexity, especially during this era’s new digital environment” says Simon, who is also author of small-business bestseller Build A Brand In 30 Days (Capstone, 2010).

What You Need To Know About Marketing gives any lay reader an essential, reliable, speedy and current guide to the most robust and important concepts in marketing, as well as examining how to achieve success during this third era of marketing.

The book shows how to understand and engage in marketing without having to study a degree or a diploma in it. Along the way it shows you what has been learned about marketing over the centuries, what experts can teach us, how marketing has changed in our new ‘digital' world, and how to avoid classic mistakes.

In short What You Need To Know About Marketing covers what you really need to know about marketing!

Introduction - Marketing: the world's second oldest business activity

1 – The Customers
2 – The Product
3 – The Market
4 – Branding
5 – Communicating
6 – Price and Place
7 – Strategy, Planning and Tactics
8 – The Third Age of Marketing

Published as part of Capstone’s exciting new series of What You Need To Know About books, all aimed at providing fast, easy-to-read introductions to key business topics, What You Need To Know About Marketing will enable you to understand marketing specialist colleagues, cut through the jargon and make a persuasive case for a marketing mindset in your company or organisation for greater business success.

Praise for Build A Brand In 30 Days:
“An invaluable read for anyone starting a business”
DIRECTOR magazine

“A great read for anyone who already has a business or is thinking of starting up, it’s also highly useful for those in marketing”

“Passionate and persuasive, this book is a must for all business leaders to understand the value of their brand. It will enhance your bottom line.” Dawn Gibbins MBE, star of Channel 4’s The Secret Millionaire

Simon Middleton is one of the UK’s best known brand experts and has worked with some of the UK’s top and most visible companies, charities and destinations. He is founder of advisory firm Brand Strategy Guru, and consults and speaks internationally. Simon is a regular commentator on brand issues in the media (Newsnight, Today, Breakfast, The Politics Show and many others).

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Eurostar to boost service levels

Eurostar will be changing its branding and introducing new service enhancements for its travellers, with Eurostar wishing to reflect its plans and ambitions for the business in the future.

Over the last few years Eurostar has seen a big increase in the number of passengers choosing to connect through Lille, Brussels and Paris Gare du Nord to other destinations. This has been driven by shorter journey times and the growing desire among customers to travel in an environmentally responsible, sustainable way.

Whereas in the past Eurostar was an unincorporated partnership of three railways its business was transformed last year into one single corporate entity. Eurostar is no longer just operating in three markets - UK, France and Belgium - and its ambition is to broaden its reach and encourage customers to ditch the plane and travel further into Europe by high speed rail. Eurostar is looking to expand its horizons to the South of France, Germany and the Netherlands. To mark the start of this new chapter and signal the change within the business Eurostar has developed a new identity.

The new logo was given a lot of thought, as Eurostar are aware how much travellers like its logo. This change was researched extensively to ensure that it captures the key characteristics of Eurostar and creates an identity that signals the next phase of the business.

The new branding will be rolled out gradually over the coming weeks and months. The first changes will take place on the Eurostar website and on travel tickets, with it then moving on to logos within stations and on trains.

Over the coming months Business Premier customers will see a number of enhancements to the Eurostar service based on business customers' feedback. These include guaranteed boarding, menus from Alain Roux and an onboard taxi booking service.

Eurostar leisure customers will also see a number of improvements. Eurostar staff have expert knowledge about the destinations and want to use that expertise to enhance the overall experience for the customers. To ensure that leisure customers get the most out of their trip, Eurostar is forging partnerships across cities which ensure that its travellers get the most out of their leisure time at no extra cost – be it art, music, sport, gastronomy or shopping.

The Eurostar Plus initiative, for example, gives customers 'two for the price of one' entry to the leading galleries and museums in London, Paris and Brussels and has recently struck a deal with Jamie Oliver whereby customers travelling from the continent can get a 15% discount at his '15' restaurant in London.

Eurostar will also be upgrading its fleet and purchasing 10 new trainsets which complement its existing fleet.

Solicitors Launches New Marketing Concept

Parkinson Wright LLP and The Blue People
Tipping Law Firm’s Logo on its Head

Leading Worcestershire based law firm, Parkinson Wright LLP has launched a brand new look that confidently embraces the culture of the business. Based in Worcestershire since 1962 with offices in Worcester, Evesham and Droitwich, the firm has seen client perceptions of solicitors change over the years and it is now safe to say that gone are the days of gloomy offices and pomp.

The new look embraces the personalities within Parkinson Wright and the people across Worcestershire via a series of 'Blue People' characters; all designed in the shape of the Parkinson Wright logo.

Managing Partner, Cyril Arridge comments, “We are delighted with our new look. We are a long established, serious legal practice covering all aspects of law including family, wills, commercial, litigation and conveyancing, but there is no reason why we cannot inject some personality into our marketing. The Blue People are a moment of light relief alongside often serious subjects and their aim is to show our clients that we really are open, approachable and a firm that is positioned very much in the 21st Century.”

The Blue People will begin to pop up around Worcestershire over the next few months, in good time for the firm’s ‘Make a Will Month’ in June and its sponsorship of The Bear Pit at this year’s Three Counties Show.

Machine translation. Is it the future?

James Bradley, Mother Tongue Writers
(opinion article by James Bradley, Head of English Copy at Mother Tongue Writers, the UK’s largest specialist adaptation and transcreation agency based in London and New York.)

Machine translation – using a computer to translate one human language into another – is the sci-fi dream that’s coming true. While the claim of translator droid C-3PO in the Star Wars films to be “fluent in six million forms of communication” can’t be matched by current computerised systems, Google Translate does already offers 57 core languages, giving over 3,000 possible language permutations. So surely, it’s only a matter of time before human translators are out of a job?

Or maybe not. Existing machine translation systems are more about complementing human translation rather than replacing it, and here’s how they do so.

The Internet means an exponentially greater amount of content is being published than at any time previously in human history. There is more information out there than there has ever been. But accessing this information can be difficult. For example, less than two percent of all Internet content is currently available to the world’s 280 million Arabic speakers. Machine translation allows them to get at the other 98 percent.

In fact, anywhere that the utility of the information is more important than its presentation or nuances, machine translation performs an invaluable service.

To give a commercial example, in foreign-language versions of Microsoft’s technical support pages, some of the articles are machine-translated and others have been translated by humans. Users are asked whether the information solved their problem – and the proportion of yeses is identical for the machine and human-translated articles.

Likewise, mechanised translation facilitates communication. Every day, people around the world use it to translate emails to and from others with whom they have no language in common. That has to be a good thing.

The next step is to apply this to verbal communications. And sure enough, this January Google duly unveiled an “alpha” version of Google Translate’s “conversation mode.” Speak into a mobile device, and this will speak back a translation of what you have said in another language.

Yet for all the staggering advance in machine translation, no computerised system can achieve even the consistent grammatical accuracy of professional human translators, let alone their fluency or style. Why is this?

In recent years, automated efforts have increasingly focused on so-called statistical machine translation, the approach that underpins Google Translate. In Google’s own words, “it looks for patterns in hundreds of millions of documents, [and] by detecting patterns in documents that have already been translated by human translators, [it] can make intelligent guesses as to an appropriate translation.”

Essentially, it scans through millions of human-translated documents looking at each sentence/phrase/word, and then looks in the translations to see how the two languages’ words and phrases map to each other. This means it can be used for any combination of languages for which there is a large enough “corpus” or body of text. It also means new languages can be added in fairly short order; in response to last year’s Haitian earthquake, Google Translate added Haitian Creole to its list of languages in less than three weeks.

But it is entirely a data-driven process. The software is not trying to “understand” the words it is translating, let alone the nuances of social convention, cultural context and tone. And that is why for anything that is designed to engage the emotions, machine translation remains a long way from being a viable solution. Information, it seems, moves much more easily between languages than presentation.

This applies not just to literature and poetry, but to the creative translation, known as transcreation, that is needed to engage consumers in advertising and marketing communications.

For instance, it is important to remember that machine translation is typically a process initiated by the reader. Someone has already decided they are interested in the text, and that is why they are getting it translated.

But with advertising, this interest cannot be assumed, it must be created. In the era of information overload, audiences need a reason to bother with content. That reason might be humour, passion, intrigue or elegance of style, but it will almost certainly be something that is not machine-translatable.

As Wayne Bourland of Dell’s Global Localisation Team comments, “In a recent usability study conducted in Germany, Dell observed that buyers who needed to form an emotional connection as part of the purchasing process were both distracted and disappointed by translation errors.”

And of course, anything that requires creativity or originality is almost by definition not suitable for statistical based machine translation – because a system that only leverages past translations can never come up with something as creative and original as a human being.

Ultimately, good translation is a creative process. Machine translation is an incredibly powerful tool, but thinking it can replace human translators is like thinking an oven can replace a chef.


Mother Tongue Writers is the UK’s largest specialist adaptation and transcreation agency based in London and New York. The company uses its worldwide network of specialist copywriters to fulfil the need for creative translation in the advertising and marketing industries when implementing global campaigns. Mother Tongue Writers is the official creative translation partner to D&AD and to New York Festivals – International Advertising Awards.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

No qualification? Then you are not wanted, says report

Anyone looking for a health and safety job without suitable health and safety qualifications "need not apply" according to new research by NEBOSH.

For the 2011 NEBOSH Jobs Barometer found that only three of 100 nationally advertised health and safety vacancies failed to specify an appropriate level qualification or professional status.

Between 23rd March and 6 April 2011, NEBOSH (National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health) examined one hundred job adverts for health and safety managers or advisors. In 93 cases, a NEBOSH qualification and/or Technician Membership of IOSH or higher was specified as a requirement for the job on offer.

Overall, 66 of the 100 positions mentioned at least one NEBOSH qualification. A NEBOSH Diploma was specified in 45 cases and a NEBOSH Certificate level qualification 37 times. As well as the NEBOSH General Certificate, employers were also seeking NEBOSH Fire and Risk Management, Construction and Environmental Certificates.

Membership of IOSH (The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health) at Technician level or higher was mentioned in 48 job adverts. Five mentioned 'Tech IOSH', 'Grad IOSH' was specified 17 times and 26 positions called for Chartered Membership (CMIOSH). Membership at all three levels requires accredited qualifications.

The average top-end salary advertised was £45,000 per annum. The majority of vacancies (29%) were located in London, with a further 28% in the Home Counties and South East. Around 1 in 6 (18%) were based in the Midlands or East Anglia, 7% in the North West, 7% in Wales and the South West, 5% in Scotland and 2% in Yorkshire and the North East. Slightly less than one in 20 (4%) vacancies were "flexible" on location. Many of the roles required travel throughout the UK and some overseas.

NEBOSH Chief Executive, Teresa Budworth, said she was delighted with the high standards being set by employers when it came to health and safety roles. "It's clear anyone seeking a job as a health and safety manager or advisor in the UK will struggle to find a position without appropriate level qualifications."

The 2011 NEBOSH Jobs Barometer also revealed that as many as 62% of advertised health and safety positions included responsibility for environmental management, up from 55% in April 2010. Over half (53%) of job titles refer to "environment", up from 42% last year. Job titles and responsibilities also included "quality", "facilities", "risk management", "assurance" and "well-being".

Teresa Budworth went on to say: "The role of the modern health and safety manager is being extended into various areas, particularly environmental management. Where this is the case, I would like to see more employers specifying further relevant qualifications.

"Our latest study showed that while almost two thirds of advertised positions included responsibility for environmental management, an environmental qualification, such as the NEBOSH Environmental Diploma, was only occasionally required."

NEBOSH will be exhibiting at this year's Safety and Health Expo, NEC, Birmingham which takes place from 17 to 19 May on Stand Q90, where you would be able to find details of the range of NEBOSH qualifications now available. Also see for details of qualifications in the vitally important field of health and safety.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

How Independent Coffee Shops can fight back against the big boys

 Siddall with Coffee Shop Owner, Pam
Best Coffee Beans, which launched the Ethical Coffee Company brand back in 2007 have launched a new coffee, with the name Italian Coffee Shop, which is aimed at offering support to independent coffee shops to enable them to compete on an equal footing with the larger chains, as the British love affair with good coffee continues to grow.

The new Italian Coffee Shop espresso is a blend from three continents to produce a full bodied and flavoursome Italian style espresso which produces exceptional Cappuccinos, Lattes and Flat Whites, the UK’s favourite coffee drinks.

Flavour has not been the only consideration, with coffee prices soaring over the past twelve months, the increasing cost has also been a concern for independent coffee shops fighting to attract customers away from the chains. "We have developed an espresso blend which takes advantage of long established relationships with coffee farms", points out Paul Siddall, the Managing Director of Best Coffee Beans, "this lets us to offer a much better price to our customers, as well as a great tasting high quality coffee which is freshly roasted here in the UK"

One of the first coffee shops to benefit from the new espresso launched at the beginning of April 2011, is Martha’s Coffee House at Moreton-in-Marsh in the Cotswolds. Pam Newman, who owns the family business told That's Business: "Our customers love the Italian Coffee Shop espresso. We have been using an established brand for some time, but needed something that gave us the edge in a competitive environment."

Italian Coffee Shop is available now in bean form, online from Best Coffee Beans in Cheltenham at together with point of sale materials for coffee shops.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Nearly half the workforce fearful at work

A recent survey of 4,400 UK companies by HR specialists, The Curve Group, has established that 45% of employees are less likely to put their head above the parapet at work for fear of losing their jobs. The Employee Engagement Survey also found that one in every four organisations are not looking at ways to keep their top talent and engaging their staff.

According to the research, employees that are fearing loss of their job have become more risk averse, think only in the short term, do what they need to do and stop being as proactive or innovative.

Lyndsey Simpson, Co-owner of The Curve Group comments on the findings; “This move to survival mode is a known shift coming out of a recession but it does have major repercussions for organisations including lower levels of performance, especially from survivors of a redundancy process and managers using a short-term, reactive management style.”

Employers are looking at this worrying trend though with 42% citing employee engagement as its number one people challenge and 75% of companies have conducted a recent survey and know the opinions of their staff. Practices taken on by employers who are looking at employee engagement have included:

• Re-invigorating talent management programmes
• Running climate surveys to ‘temperature check’ employees’ current feelings and views
• Providing coaching and training support to line managers on how to adapt their management style to a more longer-term leadership approach
• Changing performance management systems to include behavioural objectives and a two-way feedback approach
• Creating schemes for making employees feel valued
• Improving internal communications and providing clarity around employees’ and line manager roles and how they contribute to the organisations success

The remaining 25% of companies surveyed said that they would be looking into employee engagement in the next 6-12 months.

Water coolers make staff healthier and boost productivity

‘A healthy workforce is a happy workforce’ well, that’s often said, but how often does anyone DO anything about it?  Those people who use the services of Angel Springs, because in the case of Angel Springs ‘a hydrated workforce is a more productive workforce’ is the rule.

Good levels of hydration within the office are proven to improve concentration, provide better mental and physical efficiency and a greater level of productivity. A bottle or mains fed water cooler are known to be the best way of encouraging water consumption in the office.

Leading water cooler service provider in the United Kingdom, Angel Springs offer a number of both bottled and mains fed water coolers.

All Angel Springswater coolers are offered on a number of different packages, each tailored specifically towards the needs of the customer and offering a large amount of flexibility.

Since being launched in 1989, Angel Springs have maintained a high standard of quality and customer service, something the company prides itself on.

Already the leading water cooler service provider in the United Kingdom, Angel Springs continue to add thousands of new customers per month.

All customer queries are dealt with professionally and efficiently by the Angel Springs customer services staff, all of whom are BWCA (British Water Cooler Association) qualified and offer a wealth of specialist knowledge.

Regional distribution centres allow Angel Springs to source the best quality water from locations such as the Cotswold Hills to ensure customers get the best quality for money.

To find out more about Angel Springs, visit the website: or call 0845 370 1177.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Madam Valerie would be très heureux! Business is booming!

can have your cake and eat it
When Belgian Madame Valerie founded her business in 1926, could she have foreseen how well it would be doing? For Patisserie Valerie has been creating an average of 20 – 25 new jobs a week with a fusillade of new openings in Windsor, Manchester and Liverpool last month, alone. These come hard on the heels of a year of new openings in which the Company has broken out of its London base and become a truly national presence on High Streets.

Late April/early May sees further openings in Chichester and Henley.

In 12 months, the number of outlets has grown by 50% - with no signs of any slackening in the pace of expansion.

The openings are part of a rapid expansion for the Company which has already seen thousands of new customers and businesses try its clever combination of early morning breakfasts, delivered catering, wedding cakes and a dazzling array of indulgent offerings.

This combination has seen the chain carving out a high street niche not met by traditional coffee house chains or cake shops - with plans to continue this expansion for the rest of this year and next.

In February, a new patisserie in York became the most northerly opening for the Company. In Liverpool, the outlet based in the Metquarter reported queues into the street in the first few days after opening and it is receiving more discrete visits from local celebs.

Patisserie Valerie’s Chief Executive Officer Paul May said:  “Despite the current climate of doom and gloom, we have been able to bring investment and new jobs to the UK’s high streets. If anything the enthusiasm of the public has taken us by surprise.

"In the areas where we have opened already, customers have commented that it was great not have to trek into London to find a Patisserie Valerie, but have one in their own area. Some might find this enthusiastic reaction surprising – after all we keep being told that shopping is in decline and that retailers are struggling to find enough customers.

"This is not our experience however. In times of recession, people need an affordable treat to cheer themselves up – and when things are going well, they want to celebrate.

"We provide a dazzling array of pure indulgence in the form of our delicious cake range, but we do not neglect the basics of breakfasts, lunches etc matched with quick and excellent service. Many business breakfast clubs use our facilities early in the mornings for example. We provide businesses with a delivered catering service and at the other extreme, decorated wedding cakes.

"All of this puts us in a different market place from any other operator. This is why we have been able to add so many new customers in the last year – and provide much needed jobs. We really believe that we are helping to add to the shopping experience and entice shoppers.”

Patisserie Valerie has, over the years welcomed many celebrities though its doors where they and others can indulge themselves, whilst watching the world go by.

For more details of why Patisserie Valerie is so popular, go to

Failure to Restock Supermarket Shelves Costs the FMCG Industry 4 Billion Euros Each Year

Symphony IRI Group Highlights the Cost of Out of Stock Levels in its New Report “Improving On-Shelf Availability”

Research experts the SymphonyIRI Group, has just launched its latest report for fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) retailers and manufacturers “Improving On-Shelf Availability”. The report reveals ‘out of stock’ levels for FMCG products across Europe average at 8.3% and cost the industry at least 4 billion Euros every year. Measuring on-shelf availability tends to happen at the point of distribution or store warehouse which does not provide sufficient information on what the consumer is seeing on the shelf, claims SymphonyIRI Group.

A research study by Gruen and Corsten in 2008 observed that studies conducted as far back as 1992 showed out of stocks on average across developed markets as being around 9%. “The issue of products not being available on-shelf has changed little in the last twenty years, despite the billons that have been invested in state of the art distribution centres and the ability to track stock by the second and minute until it reaches its final destination,” claims Andrew Mitchell, International Sales Director for Technology Services, SymphonyIRI Group.

“Although the issue hasn’t changed, the impact has,” he continues. “While manufacturers bear the most risk, the stakes are also high for retailers. Both face the risk of substitution, postponed purchases and reduced customer loyalty. Savvy shoppers faced with their favourite brands not being available on the supermarket shelf will not just switch to competitive brands, they may talk about it to other customers, potentially extending the impact on both the brand and retailer from one to thousands of consumers around the world. In today’s economic climate where both manufacturers and retailers want to maximise sales revenue and improve brand loyalty, now is the time to address the real cost of on-shelf availability.”

SymphonyIRI warns that repeated out of stocks at the same store could force consumers to migrate permanently from that store, making the issue one for retailers as well as individual brands. Research by the company in Europe shows that the level of substitution between brands can be as high as 75% in cases where the desired brand is not available on the shelf. This figure can vary among categories. For instance, product/brand substitution is lower on home care products (42%) than it is on fresh or frozen products (63%). This is typically due to the urgency of the purchase and the shelf life of the products. Substitution of private label products is higher than that of branded items – 65% compared to 53% for branded items.

SymphonyIRI Group, in association with ECR Europe, the membership organisation for European FMCG manufacturers and retailers, has developed an On Shelf Availability Assessment Tool to help retailers and manufacturers address the challenges of optimising on-shelf availability. The tool provides them with an instant analysis of their situation along with best practice guidelines (based on the experiences of other FMCG organisations) to move them closer to improving the situation. The tool is available free to ECR Members from

“Numerous research studies and pilot projects have shown us that management commitment alongside collaboration between retailers and manufacturers and the right tools to support a joint process, reduce out of stocks most effectively,” says Xavier Hua, Managing Director at ECR Europe. “Defining the extent of collaboration can be a significant challenge for out of stock initiatives due to the limited amount of time that retailers have to devote to the issue. However the impact of investment is clear and there is no reason why on-shelf availability should remain a challenge for the industry. Successful management can improve stock performance by as much as 62% and just a three percent increase in OSA can equal a one percent increase in sales for manufacturers.”

The full report includes practical guidance on removing the barriers to improving on-shelf availability and can be downloaded from or on request to

(EDITOR: It doesn't matter what systems are in place, if they are not operated properly. For example, just before Christmas I visited a well-known national "high end" supermarket branch to buy something that the store was heavily promoting. I could not find it. Upon asking a floor manager I was told: "Oh, in our branch we rarely get the stuff they are promoting in the advertising campaigns for, oh... sometimes two or three months after they are supposed to have been launched." Clearly, something is not working and her cheerful acceptance of that failure might indicate why shelves in supermarkets can be empty when there's no need for them to be.) 

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