Since 2013 I have run quite a number of workshops and live/in-person events. When I look back over the past 15 years of my working career I have facilitated probably 100s of training events and workshops.

From 2001-2011 I worked for The University of St Andrews, and they invest heavily in training their staff. As a manager I had to facilitate a lot of training sessions, and they also invested in me. I attend numerous certificated training courses to learn how to be an effective leader, manager and trainer.

This foundational training and experience has become very valuable to me now that I’m running my own business enterprise.

Particularly for running and facilitating The Content Marketing Academy, our annual conference.

Facilitating  and curating a conference is a lot of work, there’s no doubt about that. And to be completely honest, it’s not something that has yet made my company a significant profit, although in time I know that it will.

So, if it’s a lot of work, and there’s not a huge amount of profit to make from it, why bother running your own live event or conference?

That’s a good question, and I’d like to share with you 5 reasons why you should run your own conference.

1. Social proof and credibility

Running a successful conference directly enhances your personal credibility and also your company’s credibility.

One of the big lessons I was taught a few years back was to ‘be seen to be selling’, and you can’t get much better than having all of your customers in one room with each other!

A conference is a great way to increase social proof & credibility.

2. Network Growth

A big part of business is building strong relationships with people. A number of my best business opportunities have come from people I know very well.

A conference is a great way to spend a significant amount of time with the most progressive and influential people in your network.

It’s a fantastic opportunity for you to strengthen your connections, and also introduce the people you know well to other people.

A conference is a perfect and unique opportunity for you to make the most of having a room full of people that you know, like and trust, and who also know, like and trust you.

3. Trust

We already know that the biggest factor in making purchasing decisions is trust. When I teach others about content marketing, essentially what we’re teaching is how to create content that increases trust, so that people will be more likely to buy from you.

A conference gives you the opportunity to deliver a great product and service in front of all your customers. In doing so it’s likely that their trust for you will increase, and with that comes greater opportunities for business.

4. Recognition

As mentioned, curating and facilitating a conference is a lot of work, and that’s a big barrier to entry for most people. Therefore, it’s likely that you can put on a live event that no one else has done before or is currently doing.

I have learned that people are always watching you. Both in a positive light, and negative. Even when you think no one is watching what you are doing, people do see what you are doing. Especially when something goes well.

If you manage to execute a successful event people will talk about it and you will be recognised for your achievements.

Again, business opportunities will come from this.

5. Marketing

In some respects a conference is simply a big (expensive) marketing campaign.

You’ve got a big event on, which means you’ve got something big to talk about. Everything from the pre-conference promotion, to the selling of tickets, the social media, the content, to the delivery of the event on the day and the post conference marketing.

A huge indirect benefit of curating a conference is that your br and and your business is getting out there to many people, from multiple sources.

Your delegates will talk about it, they will share their experiences with others and online, on the day they will tweet and write blog and share photos.

Your and your business will benefit from all of this promotion and awareness, leading to more opportunities in the future.

It’s not (always) all about the money

The main reason I published this on my personal blog and not my company blog was because this is mainly about how you can personally benefit from facilitating a conference. In that a successful conference can positively impact your personal br anding. Although, that obviously directly impacts your business enterprise too.

My objective here is to share with you the indirect benefits of running a conference, and to not just talk about the financial aspects. These 5 benefits may not put money in your bank today, but they certainly will benefit you and your business in the longer term.



All I can say is…WOW!

2 full days with Nigel Botterill!! I was sitting right in the front row for the two days and gave Nigel 100% of my attention. I sat and listened to every single word and consumed everything he had to give. I was sitting so close that he could have easily spat on me! And that’s how close I feel to business success…so close I can smell it!!

Nige just downloaded all his business secrets; all the things that have made his businesses successful, and he also included all the mistakes he has made along the way! He opened up the vault and gave us absolutely everything.

I feel that with the knowledge I now have my chance of success has just been raised a few crucial percent points.

I’m sitting in the airport right now and about to board my flight home and I can’t bloody wait to get home and get my ideas out on the table!

I’ve already started to write my first sales letter and the future is looking very bright indeed.

Thanks again to Nige, Tom and the rest of the team.


What’s the Entrepreneurs Circle?

I travelled down to Birmingham on Monday to attend a very exciting Information Marketing Academy, hosted by one of the most successful Entrepreneurs in the UK, Mr. Nigel Botterill.

Nige’s businesses are pretty much based upon the principles of information marketing. In the last eight years Nigel has built from scratch 7 separate million pound plus businesses…pretty impressive!! So you can see why I’m hoping for big things, and why I absconded to Engl and…all alone.

It’s late and it’s now the end of the first day. I sat on the edge of my seat throughout the conference, maintained my constantly distracted concentration for 8 hours, soaked up the plethora of information marketing secrets, consumed a great lunch and I’ve just been treated to dinner at the local indian restaurant. We travelled in absolute style tonight…in a stretch Hummer…BOOM!! I felt like a celebrity…rapper.

I’m back in my room now, and it’s reflection time…or perhaps sleep! No! I have decided that I need to at least synthesise the main learning points from today. Mainly because there was so much incredible information today, and in order for me to get the most out of it, I need to figure out what it all means to me in my contextual framework, and also for my business going forward.

For those of you unfamiliar with information marketing, it is basically: –

“Identifying a responsive market with high interest in a particular group of topics and/or expertise…

…& packaging information products and services that match those interests. Written/assembled by you, by others or both AND…

…devising ways to sell and deliver it.”

So, after the first day, I have identified some key points: –

  1. Absolutely know your market: You will notice how this step comes before the design of the product. Nige couldn’t have made it more clear that you need to underst and your market BEFORE you design and spend time/money on the product. This means identifying a responsive market, i.e. a willingness and ability to pay for what you are going to produce.
  2. Pick your niche: Be a celebrity in your market, whom is well known. Perhaps you will be the expert in your industry and in your market. Become the go-to person.
  3. Packaging your product: Deciding how to design and deliver your product to that responsive market.
  4. Don’t worry about what other people say or think: “People will say shit about you on the Internet”, true fact! Nige’s advice – build resilience to it…it’s going to happen!
  5. Don’t worry about those customers that do nothing with your product: Again, build resilience to this. You can’t do much about it, you just have to go into this with your eyes wide open and underst and that some people will buy your product and do nothing with it.
  6. Lead generation: You need to generate leads in order to sell your product, and there are many creative ways to do this.
  7. Pricing: This is a repeat of point no.1…underst and your market and what they are willing to pay. Another key point is to not base your product upon the cost of the materials, the value is in the knowledge that is contained within. You should be looking to price your product at 10 times the cost price, as an absolute minimum!!
  8. Copywriting: Writing sales letters is absolutely fundamental. Nige says “If you want to be successful in this business you will have to put time and energy into crafting your copywriting skills“. Therefore, continue to learn, educate and develop yourself in the skills of copywriting!

These were the main themes, without giving too much away!

What an amazing day of learning. I can’t wait to get home and get my flip chart and whiteboard pens out and get working on my new business ideas!!

I joined the Entrepreneurs Circle whilst at Business 2012 at the start of the year, I am now a Club Member. I am 100% confident that being a member will have a fundamental impact on my success as a business owner. Check it out if you have a few minutes – click here.

I’m off to bed now and very much looking forward to day 2!!

Thanks to Nige and the team for a great day and a special thanks to Jo, who kept us entertained at dinner!



Not Following Up

…is it just me or is there a distinctive problem with plumbers?

I recommended a plumber to a family friend recently, he turned up to assess the job but never followed back up…at all. In turn the job went to one of the ‘big 6’.

I then spoke to a very good friend of mine recently and he was having the same issue…the guy just wouldn’t get back to him. My friend had to chase him to find out what was going on!!

Am I missing something? Have these plumbers got more business that they can shake a stick at?? So much that they don’t have to worry about following up?!

I know who I won’t be recommending to my family and friends again…something to think about.

Perhaps they are the ones missing something?

“Be the person who follows through and gets the job done…or else you will die on the job” – Jeffery Gitomer, The Sales Bible: The Ultimate Sales Resource.

If you have been actively been asking for feedback form your clients and customers you should be able to extract some of that information to use as testimonials.

This blog post provides advice and tips for small business owners who are looking for inspiration for making use of, and collecting information for, testimonials.

As a consumer, personal recommendations from someone you know and trust are the strongest type of recommendations that we can receive. We can see Ecommerce websites such as heavily using recommendations in order to strengthen the consumer purchasing decision. Although third party recommendations do not have the same strength as direct recommendations, I think you will agree that they help when deciding whether or not to make a purchase.


Why use testimonials

Testimonials, when used properly, will add credibility, establish trust and increase confidence in your products and services. And because they aren’t written by you, the business/organisation, they are not perceived as a sales pitch.

Where to use testimonials

You can use your testimonials on your website, flyers, brochures and on social media platforms; you can use them anywhere that you feel is appropriate.

It is important that you find a way to repackage your testimonials so that they st and out and have as much influence as possible.

Where to Source Testimonials

You can transfer information from Amazon, TripAdvisor, Yelp, TopTable and any other review service that your organisation is represented on to other marketing materials, including your website. You can also use the information you have gathered from your own collection, such us verbal feedback, surveys and questionnaires, etc and extract this information and use it to display factual evidence of what you customers think of your products and services on your marketing materials.

There is no harm is directly asking your customers for testimonials, make sure you check with them that you are authorised to publish the information.

For some extra tips on customer feedback, please  see one of my previous blog posts  and download my free .pdf document.


How to Use Testimonials

It is important that you make your testimonials accessible so your prospects can find them easily. You will see a lot of websites quoting testimonials on the home page. You may also see remarks like “96% of our customers would recommend us to a friend” or “92% of our customers rate us as excellent“. These are great ways to advertise your credible and excellent products and services.

Displaying Testimonials

You will see testimonials used in different ways, here are some examples:

We had a great time at the Social Café. The staff are friendly and the coffee is great

You can strengthen this further with a name and a date:

We had a great time at the Social Café. The staff are friendly and the coffee is great” – Tracy Smith, May 2012

You can also add even further strength by including a picture of the client, here is an example from something I was involved with recently:



Also, take a look at my own  testimonials as an example of how photographs can be used.

Great Website Examples

Here are a few businesses that do it very well: –

Mrs Bucket – An award winning cleaning company based in Wales. You will find the testimonials at the bottom of the home page. You can see that the customers are holding up a card with their testimonial on it, which takes everything above one step further! A fantastic example of using your testimonials.

Young Joinery – Young Joinery have displayed a video on their testimonial page. This is a great example and something that more businesses should do if it is appropriate. As you can see, Young Joinery have spent some time to get the video production right and it looks very professional.

What is specifically great about the Young Joinery testimonials is that the customers highlight the benefits and the value the company bring to the customer. My favourite quote is “…my dream home is now a reality…” – what a fantastic recommendation!

Possible Challenges

Displaying Dates

If you display dates beside your testimonials you will have to plan to update them regularly, so they remain as up to date as possible.

Faking It!

Some consumers will not believe your testimonials, which re-empahises the need to make them as transparent as possible by using photographs, names and dates – and even videos!

Also, people can sense when fakes are used so the best plan is to seek factual information.

More Marketing Tips

I hope you have found value in reading about how you can use testimonials to advertise your business. As always, it is nice to get feedback from you, so please do not hesitate to provide comments below – I always read them and I always reply.

If you would like a further 20 marketing tips please subscribe to my mailing list and receive the eBook immediately.

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As part of my desire to add value to businesses and business people, I recently ran a trial service to provide professionals and entrepreneurs with great looking and trusting images of themselves. The initial intention was for these images to be used specifically for online social platforms, websites and marketing materials.

I am very glad to report that the event was a success, and due to additional dem and I have arranged a second photo shoot on Sunday 15th July in Dundee.

This idea was inspired by a mentor of mine along with a strong personal desire to have images of myself for my own marketing purposes. Additionally, I was also aware that other business people had that same desire. The only issue was that I did not know anyone that was providing this specific service. I therefore created the service, along with the dem and, and enlisted the assistance from a great photographer and friend of mine, Jeff Wilcox.

Please take the time to look at the portfolio and testimonials below. I’m sure you will agree that there is great value in this service and the final product, which is of high st andard and professional quality.

All of the clients from the trail have displayed their images on at least one social platform/website, and they all look fantastic! The images immediately improved the overall look of their social platforms whilst strengthening their personal br anding and professional image.


If you think you would benefit form images just like this please do not hesitate to get in touch with me. All my details are on the right and I do not mind emails, phone calls or even text messages (+44 779 3065094).


Please find a few examples of the finished product below. If you have anything specific that you are looking to achieve I’m certain that we can accommodate your requests. We can also accommodate small work teams of up to 8 or 10 people.

White Space Example White Space Example White Space Example
Full Body Example Full Body Example Half Body Example
Bust Example Bust Example Abstract Example


Everyone reported back that they had a great time at the shoot and we provided everything they were looking for. Please find a few of the testimonies below.

Testimonial Mary
Testimonial Vicki
Testimonial Martin

I have worked with a few clients now who have decided, for a number of reasons, to have their blog hosted on a different site as opposed to having their blog directly on their company website.

It is possible that there were good reasons for doing this in the first place, however I just want to quickly highlight the positive impact your blog will have upon your website if you integrate it, instead of having it hosted separately.

3 Reasons Why You Need To Have Your Blog On Your Website: –

Drive Traffic to Your Website
Your blog can be used to drive traffic directly to your website. Normal practice would be to send out a link to your blog posts via social media platforms, email and RSS. The link will then direct your readers to your blog, and if this is hosted on your website you can then encourage them to stay and browse other sections of your website including your services and products.
Keep Visitors on Your Website
Once your visitor has reached your blog, you can keep them there by having something else close by. This could either be a call to action (CTA), where your visitor might want to click through to buy your products/services, or more links to other interesting articles which will encourage visitors to read more and stay on your site for longer. You could also display an area for visitors to subscribe to your mailing list. Your visitors can also quickly navigate to other pages on your website – if the location of your navigation bar is clear and easy to get to.
Increase Search Engine Ranking
Search engines, such as Google, put weight upon changing content and the amount of traffic that visit your website. If your blog is generating traffic and you are putting out consistently good and new content, then having that on your website is much better than having it hosted with a different service provider. Your website can take full advantage of the traffic and changing content instead of your blogging service, increasing your overall website search ranking. Google loves unique and fresh content!

My recommendations

  • Get a WordPress site – it’s VERY easy to manage your blog content. –
  • Make sure your content is fresh, unique and helpful. Spend time thinking about what your audience would like to read and then get it out there. The more interesting and helpful the better!
  • Relevant and accurate content will add credibility to you and your business. It will also act as a marketing and PR tool and increase the likelihood of visitors doing business with you.
  • Blog consistently – decide how often and when you will publish blogs and then stick to the plan. Consistency is really important, not just for search engine ranking, but for your audience too!
  • Get an editor – get someone to proof read your blogs to make sure they make sense, read well and do not contain spelling or grammatical errors.
  • Make good use of Google Analytics to analyse what your visitors do when they are on your site. This will help you underst and what areas of your site are popular, how your visitors are entering and exiting your site and what they are doing while they are visiting. Important metrics are Page Views per Visit, Visit Duration, Traffic Sources, Entrance Key Words, Time on Page and Bounce Rate.
I hope this has been helpful for those deciding what to do about their blog.


As always, comments and feedback are welcomed.


Thanks for reading,



My Mum kindly purchased this book for me as a gift, and she thought it would inspire me knowing that I am self employed… and she was right!!

James Caan is the Author of Start Your Business in 7 Days, which is a great book for prompting all the fundamental questions for making your business idea a reality. The concept of the book is based around a 7 day cycle, and throughout these 7 days James takes you through all the essentials, including:

  • underst anding if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur;
  • underst anding if your idea is really a viable business model;
  • underst anding how important it is to find out if there is a dem and for your product/service;
  • underst anding how important your costing’s are;
  • underst anding the importance of research and knowledge.

He structures this around his time as a ‘dragon’, his experience as a business investor and his success as an entrepreneur.

The book is pitched form the idea of minimising the risk in a business start up. James encourages the asking of questions and the full proof testing of your business idea. He strives to find reasons as to why your idea will fail, and by doing this your idea receives a good thorough workout. This helps you to underst and if your idea can really be a business, and if not, at least you find out early enough, prior to invest any money and a significant amount of your time.

A client recently asked me if I could help him with a business idea and I used this book as a resource and as part of our analysis. Therefore, I have put together a list of questions and pointers that are directly from or have been inspired by reading the book. This summary will hopefully help and encourage others who either run their own business or are thinking about starting a business to get a grasp of the fundamentals.

Do you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur?
  • Are you prepared to work 7 days a week?
  • Are you prepared to make tough decisions?
  • Are you ready to learn?
  • Are you prepared to o whatever it takes and take on the highs and lows of being an entrepreneur?
What is the business idea?
  • “Is your idea really a business? Check that the idea you have generated is one you can feel passionate about and committed to, but don’t fall so in love with it that you are blinded to any weakness.
  • Analyse it and define what the compelling selling point of it is. Determine whether it is a hobby, a commercial hobby, a lifestyle or a scalable business idea, and decide whether that is what you want. Share your idea to get feedback and improve it.” (p45, Day 1)
What are you going to sell?
  • Describe your products and services.
  • What is it that your business is going to be doing?
What are the core benefits and value of your product/service for your customers?
  • James mentions that “The concept of starting a business is that it should be customer-led, and shaped by customer response. It should never be the business pre-empting everything and then having to undo it all.” (p52-3, Day 2)
  • This comes down to underst anding what you are offering and that you underst and your market and your customers needs. Research is discussed next.
What research do you need to do in order to become knowledgeable?
  • “To analyse your idea you have got to do your research. It’s fundamental.” (p55, Day 2)
  • “The principle of research is not that it’s useful to know. It is critical to know.” (p56, Day 2)
  • Think about your customers and the market – how much do you know about them?
  • What about your competitors? do you know who they are? How much of the market do they have ownership of? How do they compete?
  • Do you really underst and the numbers? Do you know the costing’s, gross profit and net profit? Do your research to find out how much is will cost to operate.
  • How much does it cost you to generate one customer?
  • Make use of Google for this. You don’t have to leave your house to do most of this research!
What will you name your company?
  • “Having a name brings your company to life”
Have you made sure that there is actual dem and for your product/service?
  • James Caan makes his opinion very clear in his book. He encourages you to go out and talk to a potential customer and attempt to sell your product/service very early on.
  • Try and get an order based on a concept – “People buy people first, before they buy the product – [based upon your] passion and focus”. You will then start to underst and more about what your customers want, and if there truly is a dem and for your product/service.
  • Can you get an order? Is there a market out there? Will somebody buy your product/service? Will they buy it again and again? Are your customers prepared to pay you for what you are selling?
Do you fully underst and your costing’s?
  • James Caan makes this seem simple – calculate the money coming in as revenue and the money going out as costs.
  • It is vital that you add in your own time; treat yourself as you would any other employee. Not including your own time will distort the selling price and is a false equation.
  • Think about what margin you are looking for.
  • Remember that if there is no profit, then there is no business.
  • “Double check the costing’s. Then double-check them again. And then get someone else to check the,.” (p111, Day 4).
  • “Does your costing’s work? Go though all the income assumptions, all the costing’s. Is there profit in there? Have you added in the cost of your own time?” (p111, Day 4)
How will you market you idea?

The purpose of this summary is to give you a flavour of the main parts of the book, and the sections that I think really matter. James Caan brings forward and highlights the likely risks and how to make sure your business idea is viable before you put your life savings into it!

If you want to find out more, please buy the book!

Please feel free to leave comments or points for discussion below.

Thanks for reading!


Buy The Book

Comments and Feedback

As you probably know, there are many different techniques that can be employed to collect customer feedback.

Ideally you want to collect constructive feedback that you can use to improve and develop your products and/or services.

There are several benefits for constructing and implementing a feedback system for your business, including: –

  • Your customers know that you are prepared to listen to them;
  • You can improve and tailor your service to the needs of your customers;
  • You can strengthen your relationship with your customers;
  • Your team know what decisions are being made; customer feedback can be used to strengthen your business decisions.

I have detailed in a pdf file many ways to collect and use customer feedback, which you can download here for FREE!


I have made some underlying assumptions for the implementation of a customer feedback system, in that you know:

  1. Your objectives for carrying out a feedback process;
  2. What you are trying to find out (which will guide the technique and questions you ask);
  3. How to implement the techniques effectively to get what you want (ethically and morally).

You may have to do a little background reading and some studying to find out how to use each method and ensure you get the best results from your efforts.

Involve Your Team

When it comes to collecting customer feedback, get your team behind you 100%. Your front line staff will be able to encourage your customers to complete feedback slips, questionnaires, etc. Also, your team are more likely to engage with the customer and have the ability to collect verbal feedback.

Never Miss an Opportunity

Gather as much information from your customers as possible with they are consuming your products and services. To do this effectively you will have to give them a few different options and different stages of the process.

Mix it Up!

It is important to not rely on just one channel and that you give your customers feedback choices at different stages. It is likely that different techniques will appeal to different customers at different times.

Anonymous Feedback

Make sure there is at least one option to give feedback anonymously. Sometimes you are more likely to get a honest response this way.

Closing the Feedback Loop

You will see this in the document that you can download.

To explain further…in your organisation there is a system in place for systematically collecting and collating customer feedback. The feedback is then reviewed and quickly responded to. This is a great system to have in place; your customers will know that you listen to the feedback you get and you will in turn begin to build and strengthen your relationships with your customers.

FREE Download

Download the pdf file and have a good look at it. If you have any questions or thoughts regarding the document please get in touch with me by leaving a comment below.

I know that I haven’t covered everything regarding customer feedback and if you have any comments or feedback please do not hesitate to comment below or contact me privately.



Detailed below are 6 simple questions that you should ask yourself when thinking about starting to promote and advertise your product and services.

If you can I would advise that you get your team involved at this early stage. I’m certain that they will have some fantastic ideas and this will be a great way to get them involved in, and bought into, the marketing process.

These questions will help you think about the what, where, why, when and how  of your marketing campaign  and also how you are going to measure the success of any marketing campaign, which is VERY important.

I advise that you use a brainstorming technique that you are comfortable with when asking these questions so you can capture all your thoughts and ideas in one place.

Why will someone do business with you and not your competitors?
What makes you different? What is your Unique Selling Point (USP)?
Who are your market?
Paint a picture of you preferred customer – think about the demographic, their interests, and how you can appeal to them.
Where are your target market?
Find out where your market are, which will help you when delivering your message. How can you get your message to many people at once?
What kind of message do you want to send to them?
What will appeal to your audience?
How will you deliver the message?
What media appeals to your market?
How will you know that your marketing efforts have been successful?
What can you put in place to measure the success of your campaign?

It would be great to have some input from you. Please leave comments for discussion below.