Something Big’s Marketing Predictions for 2015

Want to know what the key marketing trends are going to be for 2015? Here’s what we think will change in the marketing world this year.

- Email communications and content marketing will continue to perform well, however there will be more focus on data capture and producing better and richer content that is relevant to the user.

- Video and mobile marketing will see a big increase this year; video has already grown exponentially in 2014 and this is only set to increase in 2015. Mobile use has changed the way we work and communicate with people, businesses are struggling to keep up with the changes and making sure you are mobile friendly will have a greater importance this year.

- Social media has become an expected marketing tools for any brands/businesses to have and to use. In 2015 we expect businesses to increase the content and engagement on social, expanding into new platforms like Vine, Instagram and Slideshare.

Sadly it looks like print marketing and attending physical events will be on the decline in 2015, due to the popularity of digital communications pushing these marketing tools to the sidelines, but rest assured they’re still far from dead!

Read the full blog ‘Marketing Trend Predictions 2015′ here

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Surrey Chambers seeks nominations for 2015 Top Businesswomen in Surrey List

Surrey Chambers Business Women in Surrey (BWiS) is calling for nominations for its inaugural 2015 Top Businesswomen in Surrey List.

Introduced to highlight the impressive and varied talent prevalent in businesswomen across the county, those on the list are nominated and voted for by friends, family and colleagues.

Nominations are now open, and Surrey business people are invited to publicly thank and promote the women they feel have made a significant and worthwhile contribution to their local business community.

Louise Punter, chief executive, Surrey Chambers of Commerce, said: “We want to celebrate everything good that is happening across the Surrey business world, thanks to the businesswomen of today, so we’re reaching out to you to nominate those you believe deserve recognition for all that they do.”

Success can be defined in a multitude of ways, so nominations from all walks of life are welcome.  From young entrepreneurs to mentors and business owners, innovative and forward-thinking staff, and those who relentlessly give back to the community.

Names already on the list include: Sue Biggs, director general, Royal Horticultural Society; Helen Collins, detective chief superintendent, Surrey Police; best-selling author Adele Parkes; and editor of Surrey Life magazine, Caroline Harrap.

For further information and to register your nomination visit before 30 January 2015.  Once all the names are in, voting will begin on 1 February 2015 to create the final inaugural BWiS 2015 Top Businesswomen in Surrey List, which will be announced in full in March at the annual BWiS flagship event in celebration of International Women’s Day.

Don’t delay – nominate today!

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Mary Waring Book Giveaway Competition

Win an exclusive signed copy of Independent Financial Advisor Mary Waring’s book The Wealthy Woman: A Man Isn’t a Financial Plan

Though the average full-time pay gap between men and women is currently at its lowest since records began 17 years ago, women are still often more financially vulnerable than men.

Award-winning Independent Financial Advisor – and Businesswomen in Surrey member – Mary Waring has built her career on explaining personal finances. Her book The Wealthy Woman: A Man is Not a Financial Plan is a practical and feasible guide to taking control of your financial security.

We’re very fortunate to have an exclusive signed copy of Mary’s book available to give away. To enter the competition, just take a look at our past blog entries to find the answers to these three questions and fill out this short form before 12 December.

-       What time does Sally Pritchett, director at Something Big, normally start her day?

-       What percentage of board positions in the FTSE 100 were held by women as of March 2014?

-       What time did Frances Rutter, chief executive of Epsom & Ewell Borough Council, arrive at work for her example “day in the life”?

Click here for full terms and conditions.

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Breakfast with Sue Grayling

By Felicity Allen, account director, Something Big

It’s not an everyday occurrence for me to sit with Members of Parliament while enjoying scrambled eggs, bacon and a fresh fruit smoothie, but on Wednesday 12 November I had the privilege of having breakfast with Sue Grayling.

Arriving at the RAC Club in Epsom at 8am, I found myself alongside 40+ Surrey business men and women all eager to hear about life in Westminster, working alongside The Right Honourable Chris Grayling MP who is both acting Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain and Secretary of State for Justice.

After a delicious breakfast, Sue Grayling shared her experiences of working in Parliament; highlighting some of her career highs, explaining the challenges she faces, and providing an insight into her ‘actually, really rather normal’ family life outside the daily world of politics that she lives and breathes.

A truly inspirational woman, Sue demonstrated honesty, integrity and above all a real desire to make her mark in the world of politics alongside her husband.

There was even time for networking, which meant I met some really interesting people who I will certainly be keeping in touch with. It’s worth noting this all happened before 10am, so I still managed to get nearly a full day’s work done back in the office!

To be notified about more events like this coming up, please join the Business Women in Surrey LinkedIn group or follow us on twitter @BusinessWomenSy

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The most effective marketing mix

Business Women in Surrey co-chairs, Claire Dee and Sally Pritchett, recently spoke at a Surrey Chambers of Commerce event on the most effective marketing mix.

The event was well attended with lots of audience participation.

Click here to find out more!

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A day in my life – Frances Rutter

Frances Rutter, chief executive, Epsom & Ewell Borough Council

5.30am I must change my phone alarm to something less alarming! Up early to read papers for a meeting with a property developer later today, which I should have done last night but after a busy day a Dad’s Army re-run was more appealing. Tea, shower, make myself presentable; fix husband’s coffee and daughter’s breakfast, uniform and school bag; get cat to take daily pill – unsuccessful on last count!

7.35am Time for the school run. Bingo – parking space right outside the school gate! Thank heavens for an enlightened headmistress who recognises the needs of working mums and runs an early bird club. Then M25 – just why is it called the ‘rush’ hour?! Make constructive use of the time with some hands-free calls from the car. Apparently I sound like a Dalek in a fishbowl…certainly feel like one.

8.40am Arrive at work. Marian, the most amazingly efficient secretary in the whole world, has second cuppa and a yoghurt waiting; we talk through the week’s diary and knock off some emails which feels like progress. I accept an invitation from the Bishop of Dorking for a breakfast meeting to discuss social inclusion and homelessness which are big issues in wealthy Surrey.

Then onto a meeting with a managing director of a large company which has relocated its head office to Epsom. Just a quick hello to start building a working relationship. He’s a busy man too so it’s brisk and business-like but we cover some useful ground.

Another meeting with said developer interested in exploring possible options for a town centre site owned by the council. Glad now that I got up early and did the homework on this one as the valuation issues are complex and I need to have the facts to hand.

Time to deal with more emails, clear press releases, staffing issues and writing a thank you note to a member of staff who really has gone the extra mile in helping one of our residents. Marian promises to buy me a sandwich while I go for a run on the Downs; I use the term loosely, since I only run downhill or on the flat bits and puff uphill on the rest!

The afternoon brings more meetings. Re-accreditation for Investors in People Gold is due and requires careful thought, the council’s plan for economic development needs reviewing and the Mayor has to be briefed for a meeting of the full council this evening which he chairs. There could be some interesting political debate which he has to be able to manage, but in the event it goes smoothly and we get away just before 9.30pm.

10.00pm Home. Give sleeping child a goodnight kiss and will have to wait until tomorrow to hear all about her day. Now, who ate all the baked beans…?

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A day in my life – Sally Pritchett

Sally Pritchett, director, Something Big, co-chair, Business Women in Surrey

6.15-7.00am I start the day on a torture machine, otherwise known as a cross-trainer! If I don’t exercise first thing in the morning the day takes over and I’d never fit it in.

7.00-7.40am Getting three children up and out is a slick operation in our house. Uniforms are laid out, bags are ready, otherwise this would be a painful start to the day. Great planning means we usually even get to talk to each other over breakfast.

7.40-8.00am I live within five minutes of the school and my office, so by 8.10am I’m usually at my desk, tea in hand, and ploughing through emails.

8.00-9.00am This is my ‘golden hour’. I try not to book any meetings until 9.00am so I can plan my day, catch-up on bits, and be ready for the day – it’s one of my most productive times.

9.00am-5.00pm I’m very driven and usually book meetings back-to-back all day like a doctor’s surgery! It’s a fierce schedule, but I try to be very focused during each meeting so they’re productive. I scribble notes on my iPad as I go so it’s easier to write all the follow-up notes later in the day.

5.00-7.00pm This is when I’m back to being head down while I write up notes, take any actions, programme in new meetings, juggle my diary, clear my inbox, etc. My husband often takes over from our child-minder – he’s a rock and without him and my family’s support I’d never be able to run such a busy life.

7.00-8.30pm This is a strictly family zone full of homework, bedtime stories, chats with the kids, and general calming down time.

8.30-9.30pm Once the kids are in bed, there’s time to potter doing all the domestic tasks…washing, loading the dishwasher, putting uniforms out, reading endless school letters, etc. Or a couple of nights a week, I say forget the chores and pop down to our local club for a nice relaxing swim which really helps clear my head.

9.30-10.30pm Later than it should be, but this is finally my supper time – often a working supper, half laptop, half eating…

10.30pm-midnight And last but not least this is hubby time, he might be last but this is when he gets the best of me, by this time I’ve done everything I need to and I’m coming down from my day so we cuddle up and watch a TV series.

And after a few hours sleep, I get up and do it all again!

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Is your life stressful or busy?

If I had a pound for every person who asks me ‘I just don’t know how you do it’ I’d be able to retire.

Of course, by ‘it’ they are referring to running a busy and growing business alongside a busy home life. But obviously I don’t see this as an ‘it’ because this is MY life, MY choice, and it’s exactly the balance of these two polar opposite areas of my life that I thrive on.

So why is it so difficult to imagine that both things can be balanced?

Yes it’s tiring at times, and perhaps I’ve sacrificed some me-time, but for me the rewards and the exhilaration of this full-to-the-brim life means that if I get hit by a bus tomorrow I’ll never be able to say perhaps I could have fitted more in.

So I think the reason people make this comment is that perhaps they’re stressed as opposed to busy. There is quite a difference between the two. I love being busy, I can be productive and get things done, and it gives me a sense of satisfaction that helps drive the energy for the next set of tasks.

So here are some of the things I rely on to make sure I’m happily busy instead of stressed…

Rule #1 – Love routine
Be disciplined with routines and run your life like a well-oiled machine so that you can really enjoy the moments when you break the routine. For example, dinner time in our house is regimented – menus planned in advance, food ready in the fridge, the same time every day, etc – which makes it a real treat when we spontaneously say ‘let’s eat out’. I find a structured routine both at work and at home is a real comfort to keeping things under control. Mostly a system/routine has been created because a crisis occurred at some point e.g. school uniforms put out the night before so you don’t have a mad morning panic when you work late and are tired in the morning.

Rule #2 – Learn to say yes and no
Saying yes to help is often as hard as saying no to stuff that isn’t really important and just adds to your list of things to do: but both are equally important. Always easier said than done but you know it makes sense. Understanding your priorities is a good place to start. For me, my family and the business come first, so one of the things I had to say no to was the social side of the school mums’ network. It’s not that I’m being anti-social, it’s just that it made no difference to my children and added a layer of guilt and complexity that I didn’t need. A tough call because it would be lovely to be friends with everyone, but instead of going on a mums’ night I try to see friends I already have that I don’t see enough of anyway.

Rule #3 – Keep smiling
And above all, keep a healthy sense of humour. Whether it’s a tight deadline at work or a last panic over a school play costume, my husband has taught be to remember to stand back for a moment and ask ‘what’s the worst thing that can happen?’ – it helps keep things in context. If I’ve had a difficult day, I always try to laugh about it later, there’s usually a moment when you think ‘you couldn’t make it up if you tried!’ and that helps you smile.

At the end of the day, ‘it’ is your life , so if you’re not enjoying ‘it’ then try to make some changes until you feel a bit better.

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Women in the boardroom

The debate continues and there is still work to be done. But last month (March 2014), Lord Davies published the latest update three years on from his initial ground-breaking Women on Boards Report.

And the news is good.

Women now account for 20.7% of board positions in the FTSE 100 – up from 12.5% in 2011, and 17.3% in April 2013.

As Lord Davies notes:

“Since we launched the Women on Boards Report in 2011, we have seen real progress made to increase the number of women on FTSE 350 boards. We are finally seeing a culture change take place right at the very heart of British business. Yes, the home straight is in sight, but we will not reach our goal of 25% representation by 2015 without re-doubling efforts.”

“We need fewer than 50 women to be appointed to FTSE 100 boards in the next 18 months for UK plc to meet the target set. When we reach the 25% target, we will have doubled the percentage of women on boards since 2011. This clearly isn’t gender parity but it is a strong foundation and major milestone in a longer journey.”

Click here for the full report.

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Do women do it better than men?

Leadership that is.

That’s what I went to find out when I attended a recent Business Women in Surrey event.

Heather Wood, chief executive of Rainbow Trust, put a good case forward that women are more emotionally intelligent, often work towards a cause bigger than themselves, show greater degrees of ethics and are often more inspirational and passionate – all great traits of great leaders.

Gordon Bromley from the Academy of Chief Executives was there to put a male perspective on the situation. He told us how he learnt many of his leadership qualities from his mum and described how women can be incredibly focused whilst also great jugglers. He noted that women have a charm that helps them simply ‘get stuff done’ but warned against trying to be anything other than ourselves, confirming there is no need for women to morph themselves into men in order to become equal.

But then came the real heart of the issue. Of course women are just as capable of being great leaders, the issue is that the facts don’t lie: there simply are not as many women in senior leadership roles. So is it changing?

Well there are more and more great role models that help inspire both women to step up, but also for organisations to take the bold step of putting a woman at the top. Take Sheryl Sandberg, Condoleezza Rice, Moya Greene and Carolyn McCall for example.

The schooling of the next generation is making every effort to encourage and give confidence in both boys and girls. In fact it’s not just the next generation that are being encouraged – you don’t need to go far in Amazon to find a wealth of books inspiring women to reach for the top. And the workplace is getting more flexible, enabling both women and men to juggle family commitments.

So it is definitely getting easier for women to get the opportunities and positions they deserve, should they choose to step forward. Whatever happens we need the best balance and blend of both men and women in every management and leadership team.

I only have to look at my own life, with both a work husband and a home husband, both of whom are yings to my yang. There literally are great men standing alongside me and I’m certain neither my family nor business would be as successful without their measured approach.

In the end perhaps the answer to the great debate is leaders make the best leaders, male or female. What do you think?

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