Mum’s the Word for Business Success

It may only be in its first trimester, but 2019 is already a boom year for ex-radio presenter and mum-of-two, Kiesha Humphreys who is celebrating her fourth year at the helm of Icon Marketing Communications Ltd. In that time, Icon, a specialist marketing consultancy based in Wilmslow, has been responsible for a number of SME business success stories across Cheshire and Manchester.

Kiesha Humphreys  Photo credit: Senem Peace Photography

Kiesha Humphreys

Photo credit: Senem Peace Photography

Kiesha explains; “I set up the business after the birth of my first son, and Icon is an anagram of his name, Nico. I’d been working at a senior level at a large advertising agency in Manchester, and while I was on maternity leave it struck me that there is a gap in the market for a reasonably priced and flexible marketing resource, in the area.”

Kiesha has first-hand experience of smaller businesses approaching large agencies and being put off by the cost. She says, “Bigger organisations can be a bit intimidating to smaller businesses – especially when they only need a one-off marketing facility or a bespoke marketing service.”

While larger organisations often don’t see the immediate potential in helping businesses when they’re starting out or are at the ‘expansion phase’, Kiesha seizes the opportunity to put her big agency knowledge and international marketing expertise to the test.

“For the past 15 years I’ve worked in the UK and South East Asia. In this time, I’ve seen the communications climate change dramatically – and it still is changing, year on year”.

In tandem with her ‘day’ job as a Business Development Manager for upmarket restaurant chain, Gusto, Kiesha honed her communications skills as a regular Radio Presenter for Cheshire’s Silk 106.9, BBC Radio Manchester and Capital (formerly Galaxy 102). It meant she had her finger on the pulse of all kinds of media. “I’m a natural-born communicator,” she says, “I was increasingly drawn to digital channels and I could see that the major draw of digital is its level of accountability and significant ROI”.

Photo credit: Jonathan Farber

Photo credit: Jonathan Farber

As well as running Icon, Kiesha has spent the last year completing her Google Ads certifications and working on SEO projects with a number of clients.

Kiesha continues; “There is still a need for an integrated marketing communications strategy to support and strengthen the digital aspect, including PR, events and traditional print and radio advertising”.

Kiesha says; “While we’re based in Wilmslow, we often work from The Workspace in Handforth, a beautiful co-worker environment that has flexible terms – it’s great for businesses who want to collaborate. We work with businesses of all sizes to provide one-off support or ongoing marketing management (across the mix) in and around Manchester and Cheshire. We create tailor made packages in line with our clients’ budgets or we can offer bespoke solutions to suit their needs.”

The Workspace Handforth Meeting Room  Photo credit: Compton Harry Photography

The Workspace Handforth Meeting Room

Photo credit: Compton Harry Photography

It’s not every day a company can benefit from marketing experience of the kind Icon can deliver, without the international agency price tag. With so many success stories under her belt – and plenty more waiting to happen, Kiesha is more than happy to spread the good news.

For more information visit www.iconmarketingcommunications.co.uk .

To celebrate its fourth year. Icon Marketing Communications Ltd is offering all readers a 1 hour complimentary marketing consultation. For more details, please contact Kiesha on kiesha@iconmarketingcommunications.co.uk or call 07979940526.

The Workspace can be contacted on 01625 522209 or via email info@theworkspace.uk

For more information visit www.theworkspace.uk.

Perception is deception…

What’s in a name?

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet “said Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet. But what really is in a name? Well in Wilmslow the difference between an apartment and a flat could start at £100k.

That’s the thing as I was once told “perception is deception” it was on the first proper date with my now husband. This always sounded peculiar to me but as I’ve got older this saying really has gained huge significance.

You can gain a lot of wisdom from speaking to people young, old, black, white any creed or religion, footballers, hairdressers etc. everyone has a piece of wisdom which is useful. That was why I loved working at Gusto in Alderley Edge and Knutsford.

East Cheshire Hospice Fundraiser. Credit: Slice of Pie Designs

Meeting and mixing with people from lots of different backgrounds gave me a significant insight into life. This was a time pre-recession (and before the smoking ban) where people were much happier and relaxed. I’m yet to find any significant data on the effects of e-cigarettes but anecdotally I was told that doctors are saying they’re 95% less damaging to your health than a cigarette.

When you walk the streets many people do smoke them but I suspect there is some reluctance to smoking them until the full facts are presented. We don’t want to be told that things are safe and further down the line find out that they’re not, we’ve been there before.

The government’s policy of raising taxes on cigarettes has worked as people have started to look for cheaper alternatives.  So back to Gusto;

When I worked as a Business Development Manager for Living Ventures I once turned George Osbourne away for a table. There was a massive queue of people waiting and there was physically no tables free anywhere. The way he approached me suggested that he was in a rush so I thought there was no point lying as he’d get more agitated than he already was.  It was just before the General Election and I’ll never forget a customer approached me afterwards and asked me;

Suzanne Neville dresses. Credit: Slice of Pie Designs

“Do you know who that is? It’s the future Chancellor of the Exchequer!”

I knew exactly who he was, that was my job to be well informed but that didn’t mean I could magic up a table. That’s the thing even though I was only on the face of it a host there was a lot of work going on behind the scenes to make things happen as Tim Bacon (former Living Ventures Managing Director) always used to say it’s the ‘swan theory’.  Tim was great at making celebrities feel special and he built his empire up from exactly that. I’ll never forget the time that the 50% sale was on and Wayne Rooney came in for a meal. He used a 50% voucher and people didn’t stop talking about it there was even an article in a national paper (we got sent some fan-mail from his biggest fan!) But why should he pay more when everyone else is paying half price?

Many restaurants have cottoned on to the same idea and in January everyone expects to eat half price. It used to be busier than Christmas which is insane when you think about it.

Nowadays, lots of restaurants allow dogs in but at this time Tim always said “no dogs allowed”. Funny really one day Roberto Mancini former Man City manager came in with his whole family including his family dog. I spoke to them and apologised that they wouldn’t be able to have a table but they refused to leave the dog outside and so I set up a giant table outside for them and put the outside heaters on. It was a cold evening in fact I think it was winter if I remember rightly.

 The whole family ate happily outside including the dog, who I did some lamb chops for. Hilarious really when you think about it. As Orange once said in their marketing campaign “It’s good to talk”. “A problem shared is a problem halved”.  I could rattle out hundreds of other clichés but they are true. It was nice to make people feel they could talk sometimes that's all we need to feel better.

When did we stop being so caring? The pressure we put ourselves under now to succeed is unbearable. You want to do better than the generation previous but there is a whole generation of young people that this country has failed. It’s time we got back to basics. Walking our children to school rather than rushing around in expensive cars congesting the roads. Tim always used to say if you’re running late pull over make a phone call and carry on your journey. That’s the thing there’s nothing wrong with being late sometimes, safety should always come first.

I read in the Guardian on Friday that “The NHS prescribed a record number of antidepressants last year, fuelling an upward trend that has seen the number of pills given to patients more than double over the past decade” (Guardian, Friday 30 June 2017). The headline was “Antidepressant prescriptions on NHS at a record high” the whole country is stressed out and looking for someone to blame. Minimum wage staff having to deal with an irate customer who forgot to bring a carrier bag. I was told by a member of staff at a national supermarket that a woman left her entire weekly shop because she was so annoyed she had to pay for her carrier bags. It feels as though the whole country is angry and agitated but who do you blame?

This is when pack mentality kicks in and you pick someone different to yourself of course. It’s no good blaming one of your own kind that would be far too difficult. By blaming someone else we have failed to embrace our multi-culturalism in this country. People always thought I was the host “the hostess with the most-ess" but what they called me didn’t matter so long as I got the job done.

If you want to talk about your Business Development opportunities feel free to get in touch 01625 533102.

 

 

Bad Reviews

In today’s modern age there are so many ways to share news both good and bad. With news outlets now available online it’s much more difficult to eradicate bad news. Before visiting a restaurant, I always check their reviews one or two bad reviews can be taken with a pinch of salt but several negative reviews with a running theme will make me think twice about visiting. The easiest way to avoid bad PR is to not do anything wrong however this is much easier said than done. Our freedom of speech and ability to write bad reviews on Facebook, TripAdvisor, Google+ etc. can be a thorn in the side for any business to consumer enterprise.

Credit: Compton Harry Photography, Flavour of Jamaica

Credit: Compton Harry Photography, Flavour of Jamaica

Writing a negative review about a restaurant, attraction or shop can be done in minutes and left for all eternity on the world-wide web. People often find it easier to leave feedback in this way rather than speaking to the proprietor directly. B2C enterprises rely on their staff to be successful but we don’t always get things right. So many mitigating circumstances contribute to a positive customer experience. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to get things right.

So how do you combat a bad review? I’ve had countless discussions with clients on what to do with a bad review. The best way to turnaround a bad review is to acknowledge it and engage with your customer. This doesn’t mean entering into a heated debate after all the customer is always right. Instead invite your customer back and ensure they have a positive experience. One which they wish to share with friends and family.

Ignoring a bad review aggravates the reviewer and sends out a message to others reading it that the reviewer is right and that you don’t care about your customers. Some of my most loyal customers at Gusto where people who had previously left a negative review or provided feedback to the restaurant. Listening to your customers and dealing with negative reviews are the best way to build a loyal customer base. B2C business development is reliant on word of mouth so what better way to grow your business than using your customers.

If you would like to have a chat about your business development opportunities, feel free to get in touch kiesha@iconmarketingcommunications.co.uk or 01625 533102.

Media Neutrality and Ad Avoidance – ‘A local shop for local people’

I started working in advertising in the early noughties. Back then the world of media was a very different landscape. There were a plethora of local papers covering every inch of the UK the same could be said for radio and TV did not have the technology to pause and invariably fast forward through adverts not to mention the advent of subscription services such as Netflix which are totally ad free. Back in those halcyon days reaching the right audience for your client was like shooting fish in a barrel. Of course our recommendations were always supported by research but we almost always instinctively knew which media would achieve the best results for our client’s.

The effects of the recession have had irreparable damage on the world of media. The ad to content ratio in most media is so far out of kilter that consumers are switching off their local radio station and where there is still one prevalent barely reading their ‘local’ newspaper. Where I live we used to receive a free weekly local newspaper which reported on local news. This reminds me of the League of Gentlemen

We still receive a ‘local’ newspaper but unfortunately this only carries a handful of truly local news stories the rest is from further a-field. I don’t envy the job of local newspaper journalists now. Less than 20 years ago we had an office in our town for our local newspaper journalists lived in the area and were passionate about reporting local news. So where do you turn to find out what is really happening in your local area?

For me personally it’s the internet, there are several local online outlets within my local area. But in the main these new media offerings are not run by professional journalists but anyone who has bought a URL specific to the area in question. I’ve had many a heated conversation with the ‘editors’ of these publications who will not accept a press release because they ‘don’t work for free’. Whilst I have sympathy for these local entrepreneur’s news should be treated as just that. Not news for the highest bidder. These local websites and to a certain extent magazines are not regulated in the same way that traditional media is so anyone can create their own outlet. I sometimes question the motivation of such publications do they really want to deliver the best news for our area?

The problem with our now fragmented media is the lack of sense of community. With our inability to unite people through media comes the lack of ability to support the local community. A new business opening, charitable cause or local event is increasingly difficult to promote. Advertisers and PR consultants need to work extra hard to reach their audience and in many cases are operating on smaller budgets. Is it any wonder so many local businesses struggle to thrive? Once again I look to Singapore they still have one main English language paper the Straits Times/Sunday Times with a daily average circulation of 393,000 you can ensure that your advert is reaching 8% of the population. This is all the more impressive when you take into account that “English is the native language of 32% of Singaporeans…” (Source). 

I was delighted when Jazz FM returned to the airwaves last year the ad to content ratio is spot on and I’ve found the adverts to be informative like the recent campaign by the FSA something I’m genuinely interested in. That’s the beauty of well-planned media selections. If you take the time to investigate the correct media outlet for your audience, you can still achieve sensational results.

At Icon Marketing Communications we offer media neutral, tailored solutions to help our client’s realise their objectives. Yes, the task is much harder but not impossible. Recommendations are developed based on clients’ goals, research and of cause budgets. Although the media landscape can at times seem bleak there are still many ways to reach out to your target audience. If you would like to talk about realising your objectives feel free to get in touch. kiesha@iconmarketingcommunications.co.uk or 01625 533102.