<![CDATA[The Creative Business Coach - Blog]]>Thu, 03 Dec 2015 03:47:40 +0000Weebly<![CDATA[INNOVATIVE PRODUCTS]]>Fri, 07 Jun 2013 19:18:18 GMThttp://www.thecreativebusinesscoach.com/blog/innovative-productsPicture
A brief post today just to mention an idea which an enterprising jeweller came up with.

Knowing what trauma can result from a forgotten wedding anniversary,  a jeweller created a ring which reminds the wearer of their anniversary date 24 hours before the event.  

The ring heats up whilst on the finger, to remind the wearer they need to take action and arrange a gift or celebration. 

The ring is called the Remember Ring (!)  

Full details here: 

What new products can you come up with for your creative business which serves a need for your target market?

How can you find unique ways of fulfilling that need?

I'd love to hear your ideas in the Comments section.

<![CDATA[MARKET RESEARCH THE 'LUSH' WAY:       How the creative cosmetics business tests it's new products]]>Thu, 06 Jun 2013 22:13:00 GMThttp://www.thecreativebusinesscoach.com/blog/market-research-the-lush-way-how-the-creative-cosmetics-business-tests-its-new-productsPicture
There were quite a few ‘takeaways’ from the first programme in BBC 2’s new ‘Peter Jones Meets’ series in which the U.K. ‘Dragon’s Den’ entrepreneur interviews millionaire business owners to find out the secrets of their success.

Firstly, there was the revelation that Chris Dawson -  the owner of discount homewares business ‘The Range’ with 70 stores throughout the U.K. - is dyslexic and left school without being able to read or write. That’s a good lesson in itself, and again illustrates that having a disadvantaged background of one sort or another is no barrier to success

Peter Jones then went on to meet Mark and Mo Constantine who own the ‘Lush’ cosmetics empire (running 850 shops worldwide).  In 2012 they made £368 million in sales, and all this whilst running an environmentally friendly business where recycling and waste reduction are paramount.  

A ban on animal testing is also central to Lush’s product development.  But what interested me most was their approach to ‘Market Research’ – or rather lack of it.

Mark Constantine told Peter Jones that they actually don’t do ‘Market Research’ as such. They do ‘market testing’.   They never ask their customers upfront what products they would be interested in buying.  What Lush does do is to dream up new and unique products, manufacture them – and then ask customers for feedback and tweak accordingly, either continuing with the product range, making adjustments, or abandoning it if unsuccessful.   Each product only has a 12 month lifecycle.

The Constantines think it is important to educate their customers to new possibilities and say that if you only ever produce what customers say they want, customers will only suggest the types of products they already know about and they will never be introduced to anything new.

In some ways this is also used as a marketing technique, because customers eagerly await the new creations to see what Mo Constantine (the product developer of the partnership) has come up with, keeping the product ranges fresh, innovative and eagerly anticipated.

This is a creative way of approaching market research and in my opinion a very brave one.  I guess if you have the economies of scale which the Lush manufacturing process offers you can afford to make a few mistakes with the product range.  I’m not sure I would recommend this to smaller businesses, but it is an interesting concept and elements of the idea could be incorporated.

If you run, or are setting up, a creative business – supplying perhaps a cosmetics range, or a handmade, craft or food product - see this blog for ways to market your business on a budget using very visual, creative ways on the new social media platform ‘Pinterest’. 


You can also use ‘community’ Pinterest boards for testing new ideas before bringing them to market

There is a free video showing how all businesses – but specifically creative businesses - can benefit from using Pinterest.


<![CDATA[BIG EASTER EGG HUNT, LONDON]]>Thu, 11 Apr 2013 00:26:02 GMThttp://www.thecreativebusinesscoach.com/blog/big-easter-egg-hunt-londonPicture
Easter Egg Hunt April 2013 Humpty Dumpty on wall
The Creative Business Coach took a rare day off on Sunday, and pottered around London's Covent Garden spotting 101 giant Easter Eggs each decorated by a prominent artist or designer, just before they were auctioned off to raise money for 'Action for Children' charity. 

Some of the photos are below.  
Click on each photo for the full image plus caption giving the name and designer of each egg.

<![CDATA[It's never too late to start your own creative business]]>Tue, 19 Mar 2013 13:33:06 GMThttp://www.thecreativebusinesscoach.com/blog/its-never-too-late-to-start-your-own-creative-businessPicture
Posted on 19 March 2013 01:14

At a one-off charity gala concert of ‘42 Street’ on Sunday night at the London Palladium,  there were several charming surprises,  not least that many of the original cast (from the 1980’s spectacular at Theatre Royal Drury Lane) were brought in to dance  the ‘Young and Healthy’ number.   

As they were all sprightly chorines no less than 30 years ago the audience watched with bated breath to see how they would do in the taxing, energetic tap number, but not one of them put a foot wrong.  They were as polished and professional as ever, and gave the up-and-coming youngsters a run (or a tap!)  for their money.

(I was Production Assistant on the original production at Drury Lane, and watched the show then numerous times, including the night when the lead fell ill and her understudy, Catherine Zeta Jones, played the part of Peggy Sawyer.  The U.S. producer of the show, David Merrick, was in the audience that night. Catherine took over the lead, and the rest – as they say – is history).  

But back to the present day, and the charity performance last night…. 

Similarly inspiring was a parade of ‘ladies of a certain age’, (each escorted by a black-tied gentleman) who graced the stage for the ‘Dames’ sequence,  including Angela Rippon,  Rula Lenska, Arlene Phillips, Vanessa Feltz, and the organizer of the event Gloria Hunniford.

Veterens of the dance world Lionel Blair and Wayne Sleep also danced a short sequence spectacularly. 

The gala was in aid of the Caron Keating Foundation which supports cancer charities in memory of Gloria’s daughter and TV presenter Caron who died from breast cancer in her 30’s. 

Not only was the show uplifting and mesmerizing, it seamlessly blended young with old, energy with experience, and gave weight to the fact that age is no barrier to giving a truly professional performance.     I doubt that any of the 'mature' dancers would want to take it up again as a full time career, but the point was they put on a fabulous performance and the organisers thought to include them, to their credit.

I think that we can learn a lot from this from a business perspective.  

So many people over the age of 50 are struggling to find work, being made redundant from a job they had held for perhaps many decades, and finding themselves having to start over. It's no coincidence that the highest rate of business start-ups is amongst the 50-plus age group, and it is a wonderful thing that we can put our decades of experience and skills to good use creating a living not only for ourselves but maybe for a handful of employees as well.  

Creative businesses such as handcrafted items, art, gifts, design, photography, interior design, catering, writing, and so on lend themselves to this particularly well. 

To quote George Eliot   “It’s never too late to be what you might have been”.  

She was able to find career success later in life, and there is no reason why we can’t do so too.

<![CDATA[50 Shades Of Pinterest]]>Fri, 15 Mar 2013 13:33:26 GMThttp://www.thecreativebusinesscoach.com/blog/50-shades-of-pinterestPicture
Ann, Creative Business Coach: Posted on 15 March 2013 

No, I haven’t read the book, but the title made me think of the many colourful ways that creative businesses can use the new darling of the social media world – Pinterest – for marketing their business.

I can hear you saying – “I’m busy running a business here, making my products, doing my admin, and sourcing supplies, there aren’t enough hours in the day as it is, I haven’t got time for yet another social media platform!”….. but the secret of marketing is good targeting of your products and services to the correct prospects who are actually looking to buy them.

Did you know that creative businesses – artists, craft makers, architects, interior designers, wedding planners, travel companies, cake makers, fashion houses, beauty products and so on – are having some amazing successes with Pinterest. The platform is driving more traffic to websites than Linkedin, YouTube and Google+ combined!   (source:  Shareaholic)

Not only that but 70% of users are more likely to buy if referred from Pinterest than from other social media sites (including Facebook!).   An astonishing 1 in 5 Pinterest users pins an item which they later go on to buy – that is an amazingly high conversion rate for social media! (source ‘Harvard Business Review 2012’). In other words, customers are using Pinterest to search for and collect items they actually want to buy.  

This means that users are 'telling' businesses every day what products and services they are interested in.  You couldn’t buy that quality of market research for love nor money (well, maybe for money – a lot of it!), but with Pinterest you are getting the information for fr*ee – if you know how to find it and make use of it. 

One example:  Beauty brand ‘Sephora’ started using boards named ‘It Lists’, where staff posted their favourite Sephora products and invited users to share and comment.   They combined this with email marketing – emailing their customer list with links to these pin boards – and saw a 60% growth in website traffic within a month.  That traffic is also highly targeted, spending 15 times more money on Sephora than their average Facebook fan.  (source:  Pinterest) 

The power of Pinterest is astonishing, so why not harness some of that power for your creative business and see how it helps drive traffic to your products and services? 

Find out, step-by-step, the insider secrets to getting targeted leads, customers and sales with Pinterest.

Click here   www.pinprofitpro.com  ….and see how many shades of your business you can uncover.   

I guarantee it will be fun! 

Go to this website for free information  www.pinprofitpro.com

"One in 5 Pinterest users pins an item they later go on to buy"

<![CDATA[Opportunity To Contribute To                        A London Theatre Production]]>Mon, 11 Feb 2013 00:19:10 GMThttp://www.thecreativebusinesscoach.com/blog/february-01st-2013
'First Rung Theatre Company' charity - brainchild of my neighbour, Artistic Director Jacqueline Nichols - stages the highest quality professional productions to propel talented young hopefuls into the limelight (e.g. Chiwetel Ejiofor, seen in #BBCTV's "Dancing On The Edge") . First Rung receives no funding and now needs your support to continue the wonderful work. 

You can donate (from $5 ) in the name of friends and family, (maybe for Christmas, Valentine's day, birthday, Mother's day)  and give them a warm glow too.

Click to watch 'Romeo & Juliet' video on the First Rung website. 
<![CDATA[A Self-promotion Example From History]]>Mon, 14 Jan 2013 14:33:44 GMThttp://www.thecreativebusinesscoach.com/blog/a-self-promotion-example-from-historyPicture
Creative Business Coach: Posted on 14 January 2013 17:11

A very Happy New Year to everyone!!
I thought readers might be interested in hearing about the historical ceremony which I recently attended at Theatre Royal Drury Lane – the cutting of the Baddeley Cake. 
The invitation-only event is organised by the Drury Lane Theatrical Fund and has taken place annually on the 6 January for more than two centuries (apart from the War years due to rationing).   
I realised that this occasion is a brilliant example of self-promotion and we can learn lessons from it for our creative businesses.
Robert Baddeley,   a contemporary of Garrick and Sheridan,   worked as a pastry-cook in the kitchens of actor-manager Samual Foote where he developed a passion for acting,  and subsequently spent 30 years at TRDL performing several roles on stage.
In November 1794, whilst preparing for the part of Moses in The School for Scandal,  Baddeley was taken ill and died.  His name would probably have passed unremarkably into the archives, had he not left £100 in his Will to be invested,and the interest used to pay for a 'Twelfth Night Cake' to be served with Punch to the ‘resident company of players’ at Drury Lane following the evening performance.
In recent years the Baddeley Cake has been made by a baker who previously performed with the D’Oyley Carte Opera company,  and is crafted in the theme of the resident show.   During my years with “42Street”  a miniature replica of the set from the “Buffalo”  sequence appeared on the cake - complete with model train.
Last year ‘Shrek’ was represented by a large ‘S’ shape with integral pea-lights atop the cake.  The same show was still resident this year, and the cake was a casket with detailed drawings (in icing) of characters from the show.  The top of the casket was removed to reveal Robert Baddeley’s monogram, and the speech given by the Theatrical Fund Master linked the traditional with the modern, making the occasion relevant to the current cast.   

Nowadays the punch is served from a silver punch-bowl presented to the Theatre by the company of the original ‘My Fair Lady’  in 1963 – at that time the longest running production at Drury Lane. 
The widespread celebration of Twelfth Night with cake and festivities all but died out in the late eighteenth century, leaving Christmas as the biggest festival.  
Thanks to Robert Baddeley however, the tradition is alive and well in Drury Lane!

<![CDATA[SEVEN SUPER WAYS FOR YOUR CREATIVE BUSINESS TO CASH IN ON CHRISTMAS]]>Wed, 05 Dec 2012 14:34:04 GMThttp://www.thecreativebusinesscoach.com/blog/seven-super-ways-for-your-creative-business-to-cash-in-on-christmasPicture
Creative Business Coach: Posted on 05 December 2012 22:15

When we are trying to organise Christmas for family and home, it is easy for taking care of our business customers to be seen as just another item on the mile-long ‘to-do’ list.

However, making just a little effort can go a long way towards leaving your customers with a rosy glow - and your business name ‘front and centre’ on their desk – in the aftermath of the Holiday season when sales might otherwise fall off a cliff and your business needs all the help it can get!

Here are 7 ideas for keeping  customers sweet, rewarding them for their business over the past year, and encouraging loyalty during the forthcoming one, without breaking your budget.
1.  Give a small gift.   You don’t have to spend a lot of money on this, in fact it is better if you don’t because gifts over £50 are taxable and your customer may not thank you for increasing their tax burden, even if they enjoy the gift !  (This includes Hampers and cases of wine).

2.  Send a useful, branded item.   This should be something very attractive and/or useful to the customer.  Steer clear of the standard ballpoint pen with your logo, but perhaps a small pad of ‘post-it notes’ which will be put into action on return to the office in the New Year.   Every customer is likely to find these useful, especially if you have them printed with some business information or perhaps relevant quotes,  and – of course – your logo to remind them who sent the gift.

3.  Run a time-limited, themed promotion.  Offer a seasonal gift to everyone who spends over a certain amount in your shop on a particular day during the Christmas shopping period.  Or hold an ‘exclusive’ shopping event – stay open later one evening and invite high-spending customers to browse and buy your new stock whilst being entertained with Christmas background music and indulging in mulled wine and mince pies. 

4.  Give away samples.   Send customers and prospective customers a sample of a product or service they have expressed an interest in, but not yet purchased.  If you offer a service, print off a voucher stating what the customer will receive when they redeem the voucher, and wrap everything prettily in gift boxes or baskets. 

5.  Pack of cards.   If you sell products, art or craft items - or are an interior designer, architect or similar - select 10 professional quality photos of your work and have a set of postcards made from them, making sure to print your website and phone number unobtrusively on the back.  Online printers can produce these cheaply, and it is easy to upload the photos to the internet and select the layout and wording required.  It is worth paying a little extra for fast delivery so that you can wrap the postcards and send or deliver them to clients in good time.   Whenever they need to write a quick note to a colleague, friend or family member, the cards will be handy and will remind them of your products. 

6.  Host an event.   Not every business can afford to entertain clients (or employees) lavishly at Christmas or other holiday seasons.  However, even a glass of Champagne or sparkling wine (even some of the reasonably priced British wines made by ‘Methode Champegnoise’  have had very good reviews) - with nuts, crisps or home-made canapés – will be much appreciated by staff and customers alike.  Make sure that staff are well-behaved and will not embarrass your company in front of clients.  If you are a sole trader (or craftsperson, artist or similar)  get together with other solo entrepreneurs and share the cost of the event, inviting all of your respective customers and potential customers. 

7.  Gift service.  Offer free gift wrapping to customers who buy items over a certain value, and offer to post them directly to the intended recipient.  Wrap the gifts beautifully, label with a a personalised  message from the buyer,  and send them securely to arrive in good time for Christmas. You will make your customer look good in the eyes of the recipient, and they will thank you for that.

<![CDATA[Happy Thanksgiving]]>Wed, 21 Nov 2012 14:34:27 GMThttp://www.thecreativebusinesscoach.com/blog/happy-thanksgivingPicture
Creative Business Coach: Posted on 21 November 2012 15:41

<![CDATA[Out and About - Creative Business: Sands Film Studios]]>Tue, 25 Sep 2012 13:31:00 GMThttp://www.thecreativebusinesscoach.com/blog/out-and-about-creative-business-sands-film-studiosPicture
Creative Business Coach: Posted on 25 September 2012 18:24

Ever in search of fascinating  small creative businesses to interest readers, Creative Business Coach ventured to Sands Film Studios this weekend to join a ‘behind the scenes’ tour as part of the London Open House weekend. 
This hidden gem housed in the Grade II listed ‘Grices Granaries’ in Rotherhithe, S.E. London, is a film production company with it’s own full-service film studio encompassing workshops, costume department, set and prop-making, cinema and cutting room, and sound stage.  The studios also supply facilities and services for outside production companies.
Sands Films has an enormous list of credits to its name, and has made costumes for BBC’s ‘Great Expectations’ and ‘The Lost Prince’ as well as feature films ‘Harry Potter’,  SweeneyTodd, ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’, and ‘Young Victoria’, amongst many others.
The cast of recently released  ‘Anna Karenina’ (starring Keira Knightly) rehearsed dance scenes on the Studio stage,  and we were shown a crinoline from one of the costumes hanging in the laundry room, where fabric dying and printing is also carried out using modern techniques to produce top-quality, completely authentic period designs from original samples.     
In the carpentry and prop workshops we saw examples of the amazing effort the studio staff go to in researching every detail. Props such as moulded picture frames for ‘The Fool’ were created from ‘composition’ using a secret authentic recipe, and ‘scagliola’ was devised to craft stunning classical pillars resembling marble.  
In an example of a business giving enormous value to customers, SandsFilms knows the requirements of Production companies so well that they often create appropriate costumes ’on spec’  in the hope of being awarded the job. Numerous Oscars have been won by designers supported by the work of Sands Films. 
Masks from 'The Tales of Beatrix Potter' were in progress in the prop department, needing to be remade annually for the Royal Ballet’s acclaimed production.
‘Ben’ a machinist who joined the tour, showed us the type of period men’s shirt for a typical Jane Austen drama which would take him 8 hours to make – a very fast turnaround for such a high standard of workmanship.
The sewing workshop was crammed with every conceivable thread, trim and accessory,  all  arranged in efficiently labelled drawers and containers,  infinitely professional yet very obviously a warm and creative environment. The staff live and breathe their work, and whatever their speciality each person turns their hand to many roles to cover the day to day running of the studios, and even act as stage hands for the visiting production companies. This keeps a tight rein on budget, so that customers can be offered value.
Films can be edited in the on-site cutting room, and the tiny 32 seat fully equipped cinema houses a weekly ‘World cinema’ film club, free to join and relying on donations.
The sound-proof stage is used for TV interviews, corporate videos and recording programmes for schools.
All in all this was a fascinating tour and an amazingly warm and welcoming building.
At the Exit - through the cosy, comfortable Café - DVDs of many of their films were for sale together with sets of postcards from costume designs – all of these are further streams of income for the company.
All  the varied aspects of the business employ the ‘core competencies’ of Sands Films (a winning business formula!) and ensure their enviable reputation and success.  Sands are also issuing a share offer to raise funding to complete the purchase of their building and reduce rental outlay.
An example of a highly creative and savvy business model all round. 
Sands Films also believes in ‘Giving back to the community’.  Our guide, Annabel, explained that their in-house production of the Childrens’ Midsummer Night’s Dream involved the children in every aspect of the production. They learned how to use film equipment, make costumes and help with prop production.  Several children went on to work in professional film and theatre careers.
The on-site Picture Research Library is completely accessible to schools, companies and individuals for research purposes at no charge, and receives no funding.