Opinions on business,
marketing and related technologies.

Do you have customers or an audience?

Coldplay doesn’t have to convince people to buy tickets to see them in concert, they do what they’re good at, giving people listening pleasure. And they let those people – their audience – voluntarily come to them.

You probably spend loads of your budget each month running ads and sending emails trying to reach people, to interrupt people as they’re watching TV, reading a magazine or travelling on the underground.

This type of advertising relies on clever wording and catchy images to capture attention, and those viewing the ads may or may not turn into a customer. But this type of marketing doesn’t offer customers any inherent reason to engage.

Forget customers, you need an audience

An audience will not need convincing with ads, they will come to you. They will return to you periodically to find out what you’re up to. They’ll want to hear your message – rather than try to avoid it bombarding their day – because they are getting something of value.

These are the people you should be striving to attract to your business, those who will give you their attention willingly. You don’t have to twist their arm with special offers and incentives, they’ll want to find out what you offer and will seek out that information.

So, how do you create an audience?

It could be through blog posts, podcast recordings, white papers, downloadable guides, infographics, free books, Youtube videos – anything that benefits others. This is how you build an audience, and this audience will happily give your permission to market to them, if they are getting valuable content out of it too.

To build an audience you don’t have to sell, you need to give them something they’ll appreciate, something they don’t want to live without. Whether it’s good music or valuable information. So, do what you need to do to get that information out there.

You’ll know if you have an audience, because you won’t need to try to get their attention – they’ll already be listening to what you have to say.

Photo Credit: Party fans raised their hands, Anthony DELANOIX

How to make a great video – Seven Seconds to Success

Within the first 7 seconds, we can all determine whether a film is of interest and at a professional standard. Due to the sheer quantity of visual stimulation, we each experience on a daily basis essentially makes us all film critics who can quickly cut through the chaff and determine what is a good video.  So, you could say that creating a great video has got that little bit harder. Here are seven tips that will help you make your video into a great one.


First and foremost, make the time to storyboard and script your film. This will help take the pressure out of making it up on the spot when the camera is staring at you. It will allow you to be efficient and capture only what you need which will ultimately save you time and money. It may also throw up the need to coordinate with others, gather any necessary permissions and an opportunity to work through any potential problems.


Be realistic about what you can achieve; think about the time and resources you have available. In the world of video, what you see in the lens is what you get. It is not so easy to photoshop out the tatty background or change what you have captured. Avoid creating work for yourself by saying you will adjust it in the edit, get it right to start with.

Check and recheck

Once you have set up and framed your shot, check to see if the background is tidy, whether the white balance is accurate, whether you have set your camera to record at the correct frame rate, check your microphone is working and your camera is tightly secured your camera onto a tripod.

Unforgiving Eyes

Some of us have more forgiving eyes than other so as much as it pains me to say it, the video quality of your piece is not necessarily as important as having a good, strong story and message within your film. You could technically get away with slightly the shaky shots, poor lighting, cluttered backgrounds, grainy film quality and a Homer Simpsons complexion if the bones of what you are trying to convey are of interest and presented well. However, and I can’t stress this enough if you take the time to look at the things I have listed you will certainly make an average video into a much greater video.

Equally, if you have spoken audio in the film, the quality of your sound is more important than your story and visuals as poor sound quality will instinctively shut down your audience.

So when you start to plan your video try to get your story, sound, and visuals in an equal Librium to ensure you have an effective, impactful film.

Keep it Simple

If you are new to filmmaking and are not a natural presenter don’t make a long script, keep it simple. Break down what you need to say into short, simple sentences and change your camera angle to avoid long static monologues. Brochure text is not a video script. What sounds good on the page can feel stiff in front of the camera.

Aim for a 1min video. You will be surprised at how much you can pack into a minute and how much effort it takes to create a minute of quality content. Any film, over 5mins in marketing, is an eternity – so definitely keep it short and snappy.


Make sure that the person you are filming is comfortable in front of the camera otherwise you could make the viewer feel uncomfortable watching them squirm. Even if you are a confident public speaker you will be surprised how difficult it is to remember your lines when the cold eye of the camera lens is staring at them.

Try to read your presenter to gauge how comfortable they are. If they are tense, rushing through their lines or stumbling over their words stay positive. Get them to practice a few times and quietly keep the camera rolling they may just nail it the first time. Keep smiling and stay calm, don’t clock watch them or apply any pressure. Maybe change the words slightly if they are getting hung up on a particular phrase. Deep breaths and shoulder shrugs will help reduce any tense posture and keep them visually looking more relaxed.


Know your audience and tailor your video to pique their interests. What do they want to know? Rather than creating a purely selling video could you share knowledge, testimonial or an experience?
Let your audience know you, people invest in people. If you plan to film regularly brand your videos with your logo so they can’t be repurposed by other companies and your clients can recognise your brand.

Hopefully, these helpful pointers might help you stand out from the crowd for the right reasons.


Image credit: Alienated by Taylor McBride – Flickr

Something Inventive 21: Getting more personal in 2018

Ben and Al discuss whether marketing has lost it’s personal touch, LinkedIn tips and Website design trends.

If you have any feedback, ideas or topics you’d like covered on our podcast we’d love to hear from you. Please get in touch via our contact page, leave a voicemail on 0800 881 5805 or mention @RatherInventive on Twitter.

Listen on Apple Podcasts app

Something Inventive is an entertaining and lively podcast on creativity and the web. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts or search for ‘Something Inventive’ in your favourite podcast player.

Episode sponsored by Ticked Off Marketing Checklist

Simple marketing tasks to act on right away. Each task includes examples, downloads or the steps needed to complete it, plus a big button to tick it off when you’re done. Sign up for a free 30 day trial at ticked-off.com with just your name and email and no credit card.

Show notes

The Hosts

Al Osmond (@inventiveal) – An unusual mix of logical thinker with a creative eye
Ben Kinnaird (@benkinnaird) – Knower of Social Media, SEO and ‘the Web’

Be part of the show

Tweet a service or product you’d like to promote, mentioning @RatherInventive and the hashtag #podvert and we’ll read it out over the coming episodes

Thanks for listening!

Audio edited by Donalize – ‘Goofy Vocal Groove‘ intro music by Dave Girtsman – Image Credit: My What A Big Nose You Have by Gavin Mawditt – Gift of the Gav

How to build business relationships using the Benjamin Franklin effect

When I left school, I worked as a shop assistant for a company that was struggling to stay afloat. The owner, an imposing but respected figure, whose mass of hair seemed incongruous to his immaculate suit, never stood still for long enough to talk to his staff and always seemed a little unapproachable. One day, to my surprise, he took me into his office and personally asked for my help in supporting him in the shop through a difficult time.

Before he asked me, I didn’t think much of him, but with this one small request, he turned me from an apathetic member of floor staff into a dedicated employee. I would have done anything to help him make a success of the store.

Many of us cringe at the idea of asking anyone for a favour, and most managers wouldn’t dream of asking staff, perhaps worrying that it will make them seem desperate. But why?

Is it because we worry that others will think us rude, presumptuous, needy or annoying if we ask for a favour? I didn’t think this of my boss – in fact I thought him humble, courageous and gracious and I liked and respected him so much more than I had before. This is known as the ‘Benjamin Franklin effect’.

Benjamin Franklin had a powerful adversary in Pennsylvania who took a dislike to him so Franklin asked the man if he could borrow a book from his library. The man was flattered and lent it. Franklin returned it one week later with a thank you note. The two remained firm friends from that day on. My manager knew how to build business relationships using the ‘Ben Franklin effect’; I liked him more because I was doing him a favour.

Psychologists tested the Ben Franklin effect in 1969. They figured that it works because of ‘cognitive dissonance’, where we find it difficult to reconcile doing someone a favour and disliking them, so we decide that we must like them. We feel more powerfully obligated to self-justify our behaviors, than to carry out a particular behaviour as a result of the thought.

But there’s more. It is thought that the desire to build bridges by the person asking for the favour, which we perceive to carry a high risk of rejection, means that the person asking must be very keen to be friends, that they respect or like us or are acknowledging our resources, skills or abilities.

This brings in another psychological phenomenon called the ‘liking’ effect. We all want to be liked. So much so, that we will go out of our way for someone who really likes us. Hence the reason car salesmen are super-friendly. They’re trying to show that they really like us so that we’ll buy a car from them. Franklin’s rival respected the risk that Franklin was taking by asking for the book, and took that as Franklin’s intention to build bridges, but he also, on some level, wanted to be liked, so he happily obliged in lending the book.

When Franklin asked his favour, he was also acknowledging that his rival had the resources that Franklin didn’t have. When my manager asked me, he was recognising that I had the skills to help him, he as putting me on an equal footing with him, which was very flattering and gave me a perceived sense of power.

How can you use this in your business?

If you’re a good businessman then you’ll already know that the success of your business comes from developing positive relationships with associates, employees, customers and investors; those who can help your business and buy your product or service.

Asking for help from these people has the effect of connecting with them and acknowledging that they have the means – whether it be the skills or the ability, or simply the like-ability – to help you. It will make them feel important to your business. It will make them feel empowered and they will be more loyal to you.

The important thing is, as Franklin writes in his autobiography, “He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged.” So, we are more likely to get people doing us favours, if they have already done so than someone who owes us a favour.

It might seem counterintuitive to ask for assistance or favours from your employees, clients and business associates but to do so, in a personal way, will make them feel empowered.

Start by personally asking small favours of staff and clients such as ‘Tell me what you think of this video/article/product.’ Or ‘Please leave a testimonial’. Do this and you will not only gain a loyal supporter of your business, but they will do you many more favours, thus doing more for building your business relationships than you thought possible.



Image Credit: Ben Franklin Steamboat Springs by David_Jones

Has Marketing Lost It’s Personal Touch? The Benefits of Video

A great video can help you capture your audience on a more sociable level and show off your company’s personality and product quality without drowning them in large chunks of text. As the saying goes, a picture can speak 1000 words so imagine how many you could say when it is moving. On the practical side of things, it can also help draw more traffic to your site via SEO and quickly showcase your services and products without having to write big blocks of text.

In a generation where we are all becoming more self-sufficient and can replace skilled professionals with apps and digital devices, video is not as out of reach as you might think. You would be amazed at what can be achieved with a DSLR or a mobile phone even.

I am sure many of you will agree that standing out in your marketing is getting harder, and it is important to ensure you stand out for the right reasons. Whether you attempt to film in-house or get a professional in, a video will certainly help you stand out but you need to ensure it has a clear story, is cleanly shot and the content is of interest.

I must admit, I am becoming numb to a lot of the clever marketing strategies as I find a lot of it has lost the personal touch. For me I much more inclined to invest in the people, the company ethos and quality over anything else.

Video can help you open this door, without the pressure of a dogged sales person breathing down your collar pushing for an impulsive decision or worst engaging in the uncomfortable standoff, of ‘I am not interested’. A video can provide that personal touch and allow the viewer to look behind the curtain and indirectly get the information they need to inform their decision. By being able to communicate through moving image, sound and movement you are able to resonate with an individual on multiple levels leaving a much longer, lasting impression. It can be replayed and digested at the customers own pace.

Like many of us, I am guilty of being attached to digital technology long into the evenings after working hours so your 2min video is not only giving your customers a low pressure, friendly insight into your business but it is also working around the clock capturing and luring in potential business. Reaching out to a wider audience worldwide and to places which you wouldn’t have expected to capture.

By allowing your customer to have a more voyeuristic experience and the time to contemplate their decisions often in the comfort of our own homes ensures a more committed customer.

There are loads of different styles of video used in marketing case studies, knowledge focus, testimonials, interviews, highlights etc so evaluate what would be appropriate to your business.

Let us know what video has worked for you?

How to avoid woolly answers and disorganisation

I was set the task of organising our company Christmas outing and with a job title of Marketing Superstar, there was certainly no pressure in pulling this one out of the bag.

When organising even the simplest of activities I think we often take a lot of the skills involved for granted. Some people are instinctively good at clear communication and others don’t seem to be wired the same way.

The task was to ordinate a band of individuals who are located across the country with very diverse work schedules, availability and priorities to meet for an entertaining afternoon puzzling our way out from an escape room and feasting on a festive meal. Sounds simple but when you get more than 3 people together to coordinate this can get a little more challenging.

My method takes the pressure out by giving people a decision to make. Make it simple, give them options A or B. Sometimes I like to simply list the pros and cons of each option. If you approach with a woolly question you are only setting yourself up for woolly answers: What would you like to do? Can you let me know your availability? It may sound silly but when people are in the thick of it they can’t always make those decisions so it falls onto the ‘I’ll get around to that’ pile.

It is much easier for people to answer yes or no – I am available on that date, yes or no I don’t want to do that.

When organising or delivering a project, I hate wasting my time, repeating myself and poor communication. So I try my best to reach out to people how I would like to be approached.

When given a task I suggest to try and loosely touch base with the key parties involved aka your line manager to ensure you are striking off in the right direction and to come up with the foundations of your brief. Now is your time to ask your questions and to try and unpick what it is that they want you to do and be responsible for.

Remember, when you ask your questions, it is not acceptable for them respond with an ‘I don’t know’ or be vague, even if it’s the boss. Don’t accept the answer, in the politest manner possible ask them why they can’t answer or don’t know or have just not replied. Do they need more time to answer? Do they need more information? Is there anything you can do to help them to answer? Keep pushing and get to the bottom of their resistance.

A brief can simply be a list of bullet points or notes. In my case, it was a month, general location, activity idea and meal. By ensuring you are starting off with the correct information will save any unnecessary embarrassment going forward.

Once the core plan has been signed off, look into the details and gather all of the facts. Think about what your team members will ask you. Don’t be lazy, call the organisation, the restaurant you are going to and ask them your queries. Be proactive, don’t just send off an email and wait for a response. Time is precious and you might miss out on the booking for being too slow. Like anything in life strike with impulsion.

When you have gathered all of the information make sense of it yourself. When I am being informed about something I want to receive one email with the options laid out clearly. I don’t want to be digging through multiple emails trying to link two and two together. Take your time over it, don’t rush it as it is amazing how many people just hit the send button and realise they have missed some crucial information. That’s when your communication starts to get messy as people respond to different bits, completely overlook certain information and the result, is a gaggle of confusion.

When reaching out be firm on your deadlines, when asking for a response make it clear they need to respond by a certain time otherwise you will assume they do not want to attend or you will not take further action. It will save the chase of cat and mouse as you try to pin them down to a simple yes or no. Although if it’s your boss that’s a little slow maybe be a little more lenient and send a gentle reminder!

Something Inventive 20: Ducks in a row – Anniversary edition

Ben and Al talk about email scams, Facebook shadow profiles, email marketing advice, planning your marketing for next year and how the world sends 2.6 million emails a second.

If you have any feedback, ideas or topics you’d like covered on our podcast we’d love to hear from you. Please get in touch via our contact page, leave a voicemail on 0800 881 5805 or mention @RatherInventive on Twitter.

Listen on Apple Podcasts app

Something Inventive is an entertaining and lively podcast on creativity and the web. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts or search for ‘Something Inventive’ in your favourite podcast player.

Episode sponsored by Ticked Off Marketing Checklist

Simple marketing tasks to act on right away. Each task includes examples, downloads or the steps needed to complete it, plus a big button to tick it off when you’re done. Sign up for a free 30 day trial at ticked-off.com with just your name and email and no credit card.

Show notes

The Hosts

Al Osmond (@inventiveal) – An unusual mix of logical thinker with a creative eye
Ben Kinnaird (@benkinnaird) – Knower of Social Media, SEO and ‘the Web’

Be part of the show

Tweet a service or product you’d like to promote, mentioning @RatherInventive and the hashtag #podvert and we’ll read it out over the coming episodes

Thanks for listening!

Audio edited by Donalize – ‘Goofy Vocal Groove‘ intro music by Dave Girtsman – Image Credit: Rubber Duck by Quang Nguyen

Get your ducks in a row for 2018

What to review when planning your marketing

I’ve created a video to share 5 things you should be reviewing as part of your marketing plan for 2018.

Did you find the video helpful? What are your 5 most crucial marketing concerns?

Get your marketing plan started with Ticked Off, my unique marketing process, for free. Sign up to ticked-off.com.


1. Review the previous year

Think about what worked well, can you do this again and ditch anything that doesn’t work.

What are your objectives for next year? More sales? New products or more family time

Incorporate the good ideas back into plan

2. Review your marketing website

You should regularly be reviewing the content on your site to make it easier for more people to get in touch or buy from you.

Is it easy for a visitor to find out what you do or how a product can benefit them?

Are the contact details available?

Are you asking people to get in touch or buy from you? If not why not

Are there any projects or clients you’re proud of that aren’t on the site

If you don’t have cookie and privacy policies on your site. If you don’t you can buy them from places like contractstore.com

Make sure your website is backed up and if it’s WordPress, updated regularly

3. Review your social and blog efforts

Which social networks give you most likes, shares or conversation? Focus your efforts on those

Are your social profiles up to date. Visit each one and make sure the bio description, profile and header images at correct and consistent

Are you providing customers with answers to common questions? Think back to previous customer questions and create blog articles from your answers or use tools such as answerthepublic.com to help generate ideas, then write about them.

Can you create a short video to explain your service benefits or how a product works? Ask customers for short testimonials when you next see them or hold an interview over Skype.

4. Review your ad campaigns

Are you getting the return you expect? How do you measure this?

Decide on an objective, such as the number of visits to your contact page or product purchases, then monitor these along with your costs. Ideally, you want to know how much money it costs to generate single lead or sale. For example, this could be your monthly ad spend divided by number of leads you receive each month

Remember to review and focus on the best performing adverts. Which ones generated a great conversation on Facebook or which keywords on Google gave you the most conversions on your website.

And finally

5. look into GDPR

The General Data Protection Regulation will come unto force at the end of May next year and will impact all businesses that hold any personal information, even on their employees!

If you’ve not looked into this yet then I recommend listening to our interview with Rebecca from Kidwells Law and Jeremy, a data security specialist to find out more.
Just search for Rather Inventive GDPR interview on Google

Thanks for listening and if you need any help with your website, blog, video production or social media, in fact, anything to do with online marketing you can visit ratherinventive.com/contact


Image Credit: Rubber Duck by Quang Nguyen

5 simple steps to your email marketing MOT

You already know the power of your email marketing. It sends a friendly prompt to encourage your audience to engage with your content. But with competition for eye time rising every year, it’s easy to lose valuable readers.

Here’s how to keep your emails and recipient lists in tip top condition…

1. Streamline

As a subscriber, one of my biggest pains is having to delete/spam/unsubscribe all the emails I receive from companies that I’m just not interested in. So, do your email recipients a favour and streamline your list first. Send it only to those who want to hear from you and remove those who don’t open or no longer engage with you. That way you won’t annoy anyone and your good reputation will remain intact.

Don’t make people puzzle over where you got their information – if they think you’ve got it through dubious means (buying email addresses) then they’ll dump you in spam. Ensure the consent of your subscribers, and include details in your email content. This is particularly important with GDPR coming into force next year.

Unfortunately, no matter how good your content is you won’t please everyone. If your open rate is falling it may mean that unsubscribes (and worse, spam complaints) will follow. If more people keep unsubscribing, try to identify the cause. Keep doing what works, stop doing what doesn’t.

Take notice of what people are telling you by not opening your emails. If they’re not already opening them, they’re not likely to start any time soon. Remove them from the list and your open rates will increase.

Don’t be a victim of the email recipients’ kiss-of-death: move to junk. Great newsletters work because they are aimed at a specific group of people. Attempt to cater to all and you’ll miss your mark. Focus on the kind of people who make up your specific audience and deliver content that they will appreciate.

2. Personalise

Use that personalisation button to ensure the recipient feels that the email is for him or his business. Yes, of course he knows that you’re sending the same email to hundreds, possibly thousands of people, but nothing is likely to turn people off reading than receiving a “Dear Customer email. Also, personalise the “from” email address. People are more likely to engage if they know they can respond to a real person.

3. Avoid clickbait

There’s nothing more frustrating that clicking on a subject line that turns out to promise more than it delivers. Manage readers’ expectations by providing good quality content that is truthful to the subject line. Otherwise your click-through rates will suffer and you’ll start getting unsubscribes, or your email sent to spam.

4. Have purpose

Do you want to tell people about an upcoming event? Are you offering exclusive content in exchange for more information about their organisation? or are you offering a promo code for a purchase on your website. Ensure you have a clear and concise goal for your email and make sure it’s clearly laid out. Give calls-to-action and plenty of links, so recipients have multiple avenues to engage with you.

5. Build trust

As I’ve mentioned above, it’s important your recipients actively show that they want to receive news from you. This means that when they receive your email they’ll instantly recognise you. The DMA’s Consumer Email Tracker 2017 report showed that almost half (49%) of recipients need to recognise the brand before opening their marketing emails.

People are put off by gimmicks but a carefully crafted email, with well-written text and energising images, is vital if you want to create trust in your recipients. It’s trust that you’ll deliver good quality content that will get your recipients buying your goods and services, and sharing your message.

Don’t know where to start? Look at newsletters that you love to receive, why do you love it? What are they doing to incite your engagement with it? Do your readers say, “Wow, I love reading this.”

Unless you’re producing quality content, every single time, then you could just be a nuisance to your recipients who’ll dump your email straight into ‘Trash’.

It’s getting more competitive just getting your subscriber’s eye but don’t be discouraged. Email is still the mainstay of digital marketing. Put more effort into giving your subscribers good quality content that they’re pleased to receive, and they’ll reward you by opening and sharing your message.

Did you find this interesting? If you’d like more articles like this subscribe to our monthly newsletter in the box below.

Image credit – 1972 Chevy Chevelle by Holmes Palacios Jr.

Interview: GDPR with Rebecca Hardy and Jeremy Aldous-Fountain

A brilliant interview with Rebecca Hardy, practice director at Kidwells Law, and Jeremy Aldous-Fountain, GDPR Practitioner for HEXAD Information Security Services joining Ben before their excellent workshop on the forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to help him navigate its muddy waters.

If you would like to find out more about GDPR and what your business needs to do to prepare, get in touch on Twitter @KidwellsLaw or visit kidwellssolicitors.co.uk.

Photo Credit: Blogtrepreneur, Data Security Breach