How well do you know your customers?

How much do you know about your customers? How many different types of customers do you have and how easy is it to attract new ones?

Understanding as much possible about the people who buy products or services from you is essential for your business to grow. The old saying that it is easier to retain an existing customer than obtain a new one holds true. But to in order to retain customers and attract new ones it is vital to compile a great deal of information about them. Without this how can you communicate to those people who are likely to buy your products or services?

When starting out many business owners believe everyone could benefit from what they offer. In some cases this may be correct but in most sending out information to as wide as possible sector of people means that the majority of it will fall short. I call this the pebble-dash theory – like throwing thousands of small stones at wet cement hoping that some will stick. And when dealing with customers they’ve not just got to see the message they have to act upon it also.

A better approach is to identify a number of key customer types, generating a persona for each that will help you to develop the kind of messages you will use to raise awareness of your business. Who are the people who you can provide a solution for? I create customer personas by answering a number of questions, such as their age, gender, salary, job, the hobbies or interests, the kind of newspaper they read, where they live. The list is endless but you should ask similar questions until you have built up a detailed picture of your customer.

baking equipment

Makers of baking equipment advertising during the ad breaks of Bake Off know they reach their target customers

Photo credit: Silatip; Stock Free Images

Gathering information about your customers should include how they keep informed, do they read newspapers, how much time do they spend on the internet looking at websites, which social media channels are they engaged in? There really is no point in developing a marketing campaign on Twitter if your customers don’t spend any time on this social media channel, for example. In today’s market there are abundant ways to tell customers about your business and the more you know about your customer the greater you can refine the process to reach them.

The best research can be conducted by asking existing customers how they found out about you – was it through your website, perhaps a Facebook posting, an advertisement in a local paper or a leaflet through the door? Learn about why your customers keep coming back and you can use this detail within your marketing and communications campaigns.

Tips for getting to know your customers:

  1. Identify at least three different types of customer and develop their personas
  2. Using a spider diagram or mind map can help pull your ideas together
  3. Learn where your customers interact and join in the conversation
  4. Develop a campaign that will resonate with your customers
  5. Measure progress and adapt accordingly

It may take time to build different customer personas but targeting a specific section of the population will generate results much quicker than sending out messages blindly hoping that someone, somewhere will receive it and act upon it.


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Building resourceful cities requires strategic, long-term thinking

Big cities have always been a big draw, for those looking for work, for a better way of life, to meet new people. This has been true over the centuries as the industrial revolution took hold and continues today as more people and more businesses and organisations gather and lay roots in specific places.

As the global population grows the numbers of those living in large cities will grow in parallel and it’s expected that by 2050 70% of the world’s population will live in an urban environment. This population growth, that includes a larger global middle class, will put demands on already finite resources. The way we extract and use materials, energy and water has to change. The current system will be unable to continue providing us with limitless stuff.

This will require strategic, long-term thinking, particularly when it comes to urban planning and policy. Speaking at a seminar at the recent RWM exhibition Wayne Hubbard, chief operating officer at The London Waste & Recycling Board, said: ‘Sixty per cent of the infrastructure required by 2050 has yet to be built. Populations living in high density brings more opportunities for efficiencies under a higher concentration of resources.’

So while there will be many changes ahead it is essential that the planning and strategic thinking considers everything needed to cater for future population growth. It will require greater collaboration across different industries, the public sector, private businesses as well as social enterprises as we’ve never seen before. Vital to ensure resources are utilised as best they can.

Much will be driven by improvements in new technology and companies are spending vast amounts on research and development and pilot schemes to use these different technologies. These range from the basic digitisation that most businesses employ to advanced mapping, data collection, automated vehicles and artificial intelligence, where the technology learns as it goes along continually improving on what it can do, to name a few. While not everything will succeed or exist in five years time the appetite is there to find different, improved ways of doing things.

skyline of city buildings

Strategic thinking will be required for all cities to make the most of all resources

Photo credit: Liangfeng

One thing that must not be forgotten is the environmental impact some of this technology will have. What types of materials are being used, where do they come from and how much energy is used in the making, life and disposal of the products or technology? Providing a solution for more efficient living should not be to the detriment of something else.

And greater collaboration requires engaging with the humans, an integral element when introducing change or a different way of living. Essential from the outset of the process, not bolted on at the end as a nice to have. Without the input of people we will be unable to bring about the change required. It is important that those living in the urban environments have a say in the way that they will live, how new infrastructure and technological changes will shape their lives. Without this engagement and interaction the best possible solutions will not be able to flourish. Ignore the people at your peril.

2050 may seem a long way off, that no one can predict the future with great accuracy. But by adopting a long-term approach, rather than implementing short-term, ad-hoc policies we have a better chance to make the most of the resources to hand.


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New workshop date: Boosting Writers’ Presence Online: 26 November

Most people these days expect to see some sort of online presence from those in the creative industries. For writers much of the online world should be easy – we deal in words, right, so we must be able to navigate our way around.

Concentrating on the novel or short story or whatever writing you do is important but equally important is getting that work out there.

For writers today it’s never been so important for writers to establish an online presence to attract readers, agents and publishers. It does require a different approach but writers have one of the main necessary skills required for the job. They love words, forming them into sentences long and short, playing around with them until they are happy they are in the right order.

notebook pen graphic

The workshop will help writers boost their presence online

And that’s the basis of creating an online presence. Yes we have to think about pictures and inputting the words into the correct infrastructure but once you’ve got your words sorted you’re almost there.  So if you’re a writer and wish to join the digital age, look no further.

Following the success of previous workshops  the Bridport Arts Centre has asked me to repeat the Developing a Writer’s Presence Online Workshop. Aimed at all kinds of writers this interactive workshop will focus on what individuals wish to achieve through their online profile, help to develop a strategic plan and give  practical support on compiling a WordPress website. Other aspects covered during the day include blogging and a basic introduction to Facebook and Twitter.

The course is aimed at beginners who wish to gain a greater understanding in using digital media to their advantage.

Developing a Writer’s Presence Online

Date: 26 November 2017


Venue: Cafe, Bridport Arts Centre

Booking via the Bridport Arts Centre website will be available shortly. Please get in contact if you’re interested in attending this workshop by emailing

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Recycling – It’s worth it

This year’s Recycle Week runs between 25 September and 1 October with the theme: Recycling – It’s Worth It.

Now in its 14th year, Recycle Week is a celebration of recycling, with the aim to encourage the public to recycle more, by demonstrating the benefits of recycling items from all around the home.

An additional sub-theme has been developed this year, with the focus on ‘What goes around comes around’ highlighting the potential of keeping materials within the economy for as long as possible.

proud to support recycle week badge

Recycle Week runs 25 September – 1 October

Expect to see local authorities and organisations getting involved in the week within your area. Organisers WRAP say during the week partners will be able to bust some myths and show that recycling is really worth it.

Here are some tips to consider when separating material for recycling:

  1. Always keep material as clean as possible to avoid contamination
  2. Using a food waste collection scheme helps to keep other material cleaner
  3. Higher quality material will generate a higher value
  4. Many materials can now be recycled – have you remembered everything?
  5. Think of materials as a resource, to help keep them within the economy longer



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How the right content can help your business

Content it’s all around us, it’s difficult to get away from it. Daily we are bombarded with message upon message and it takes time to filter out what can be useful and what isn’t.

Compiling content can seem a daunting task, it covers so many aspects, but undertaken in the right way gives you the opportunity to let more customers know about your business.

Like with most things developing a strategy and implementing a plan is a good starting point. When mapping out different content it is easier to avoid overlapping topic areas or the types used, such as writing a blog, posting different social media updates or producing a 30-second video. Building up a plan over a weekly or monthly basis reduces some of the stress, though it still involves a degree of work.

So what should be included in your list? There should be a focus on providing knowledge rather than giving the hard sell on your products and services. The usual approach would be for every sales-type message, five others should concentrate on sharing useful pieces of information, commenting on the views of others as well as discussing subjects within the industry sector you trade in or current news items.

girl with smart phone

Using a smart phone can create great pictures for your blog

Photo credit: icyimage

And when promoting products and services don’t just list the features. Detailing the benefits of a product, demonstrating how a product or service can provide a solution to a particular problem will draw a potential customer in, helping them to make the final purchasing decision.

Any search through the internet will result in plenty of websites where you can find information to share. Just be aware that what you do share chimes with your business’ values and comes from a trusted source. Alongside new product launches don’t forget to include events you may be attending or sponsoring, key business anniversaries and updates of your employees achievements. Nowadays there are no end of specific ‘weeks’ or ‘days’, where the focus will be on a particular theme for a short period of time. It should be possible to make some connection to many of them over the year.

Top tips for using content properly:

  1. Develop a plan and review it regularly
  2. Make sure you share other peoples’ information more than your own
  3. Check the articles you share chime with your own values and ethics
  4. Carve out time each week to write an article of original content
  5. Measure the engagement of articles – what works and what doesn’t and amend accordingly

Be sure you are a business that creates content that is useful, entertaining or informative – you will notice the difference.


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