Category Archives for "Lockdown"

Bounce Back Summer School

Bounce Back – Investing For Growth

Bounce Back Summer School

In my last article I wrote about why you need to speculate to accumulate to get your business back on track with specific focus on marketing. But there are other areas of the business which need investment to enable you to bounce back 

When I first heard about Covid 19, I reviewed all my spending and buttoned down the hatches. I cancelled all the direct debits which were “nice to have”, made sure I wasn’t paying any unnecessary bank charges and reviewed my financial position. And then did nothing! And business virtually dried up

I then realised that in this time of lock down, I was going to need to start investing and so have my clients! I run a consultancy business unlike most of my clients who run product based businesses but the principles are the same

 So what are the key areas that we have been focusing on and where you should you be investing for growth alongside that essential marketing budget


  1. Infrastructure – I have been making my business more efficient by implementing new systems and automation. So how can you take cost out, create more profit and relate more cash for investment back into marketing? It all costs money. I have two clients who are both raising funds to enable them to bounce back and expand – once to create a distribution hub and the other a bonded manufacturing unit which will massively improve efficiency. Another is investing in a forecasting system which will enable them to ensure they have optimal stock holding of raw materials and finished goods which means minimal stock write off and optimal sales
  2. Team – I have strengthened my team with a new online business manager and looking to take on another part time team member to help with the management of linked in. Who do you need, to enable you to deliver your bounce back or even growth plans? Do you need to work on sales, marketing or even get yourself a part time FD. I was chatting with Nick Owers yesterday from who will supply you with a money expert on a part time basis who can help transform your business whether you are looking to raise funds, manage the finance of the business or even contemplating exit
  3. Insights – when I was commercial director at ichiban, we spent over £100k on market data and insights and it was money well spent. We knew who our customers were, why they bought and understood the levers for growing their business. I am working with a client at the moment who has invested a small amount in Nielsen data which will enable them to better present their case to retailers as to why they should be listed – investment of £2k might yield a retailer account worth £250k!
  4. Innovation, new product development – new products cost money – you have to develop packaging, create recipes, run trials, do research, create new designs….the lsit can be endless but without innovation is your competitive position going to eroded? Can you create new revenue streams with new ideas? If the answer is yes then how much do you need to invest to make it happen?
  5. Training and development – I am a massive fan of personal development and have had a coach throughout the three and a half years that I have been running Food Mentor. I had one to get my business to the next level, one to help write my book and now another one to learn how to best market my business. I am also part of a mastermind group of like minded entrepreneurs helping to get me to the next level and not burn out like I did last year. But I am a solopreneur, what are the training needs of your team – do you consider training to be non essential at the moment apart from the legally required stuff – are the softer skills passing you by? If your sales team (or yourself) could negotiate 20% better profit margin what money would that bring in to reinvest?

So I am expecting by now that you are reading this and thinking well that’s all very well for you but I have had to furlough my staff, cut salaries and other costs, investing for growth is not really affordable right now. Well I have your back and have created a mini guide to funding which will help you find sources of money and how to apply for it. I am also running the bounce back summer school on 24th July to help you plan to do just that!

So treat yourself …free up an hour, shut the door, turn off the phone and think what could YOU be doing to enable your business to Bounce Back into growth?

If you want to have a chat just give me a shout or see you on the 24th July.

Bounce Back Summer School

Bounce Back – Speculate To Accumulate

Bounce Back Summer School

As pubs and restaurants reopened on 4th July and the non-essential shops are open for business, there is a feeling of returning to normal. Boris Johnson has called for moves away from austerity and he is absolutely right but why is that important to SMEs?

It is time to spend - you have to speculate to accumulate

But where’s the proof??

It's time to look back at previous recessions to show how those who invest in their brands perform so much better than those who don’t. Brand Z are the top 100 brands by value globally. Who are in the top 5? Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Google and Visa.

Brand Z Image


 In 2008/9 which was the last recession, Brand Z Strong brands value declined just like everyone else but look what happened as they pulled out of the recession, the growth consistently outperformed the US stock market by 40%!! And they were investing like crazy! 

Gerard J. Tellis* published a meta-analysis of all the academic research that has been undertaken in 2009. And here are his findings

“Seven empirical studies analyzed the effect of firm advertising on sales or market share. A review of these empirical studies suggests that there is strong and consistent evidence that cutting back on advertising during a recession can hurt sales during and after the recession, without generating any substantial increase in profits. Such cutbacks can result in a loss in capitalization. On the other hand, not cutting back on advertising during a recession could increase sales during and after the recession. Moreover, firms that increased advertising during a recession experienced higher sales, market share, or earnings during or after the recession. Most of the studies consistently showed that the strategy adopted for advertising during a recession had effects that persisted for several years after the recession”.

And those findings have been replicated since the 2008 recession and just in case you are wondering, I read yesterday that we could be entering the worst recession for 300 years!!

So how do you become one of those brands that delivers the marketing needed to make this happen? Its back to basics! Take 4 steps to build your marketing plan


  1. Where are you now – what marketing have you done so far – what worked what didn’t?
  2. \What do your current customers think Push chocolate have just completed a very insightful survey of their customers and non customers to find out what they love about the brand and are using that now to review their messages
  3. Who are you targeting? Has your customer base changed? Probably not, but HOW they access brands may well have done so you might need to think differently. Dee Mapasure of K’s Wors sausages is really struggling with Ocado at the moment as her new potential customers have been unable to buy online with them as they are also new to Ocado and Ocado were closed to new customers. So she has set up a whole new DTC channel and marketing accordingly.
  4. What is the best way to reach those customers- time to write a new marketing plan to maximise exposure, raise awareness and trial and get current customers to buy more, more often
  5. What are the numbers – what are your sales targets and therefore what will you need to invest to achieve those sales?

Set Your Marketing Budget

Once you are clear on this then you can set the marketing budget

And before you have yet another sleepless night wondering where you are going to find the money……I have your back. I have written a mini guide to 13 ways to find funding plus a guide to all the info you are going to need to make the best applications. So download here -

If you need any help feel free to get in touch

* A Critical Review and Synthesis of Research on Advertising in a Recession Article  in  Journal of Advertising Research · April 2009

Bounce Back Summer School

Bounce Back! Who is doing it well?

Bounce Back Summer School

Listen To Karen's Bounce Back Story Here

These are strange times (I know, no s**t!)

Normally we would be thinking about our summer holidays, kids breaking up, six weeks of challenge if you work and, if like me you live in a tourist town, mass influx of visitors.

But its not normal and we need to be thinking differently. Hence this series of three articles where I am focussing on Bouncing Back from Lockdown.

Lets us start by thinking about who is doing it well? I work with a huge range of food, drink and toiletries SMEs some of whom are flying at the moment and some are struggling but most are following one of three tactical survival approaches to the COVID beautifully summarized by Tom Fishburne –

FLEX – growing sales and doing well during the crisis

One of my most successful clients has been Pure Heavenly who make dairy free chocolate and sell it online.  Their sales have increased threefold in the last three months and like many manufacturers have addressed the challenges in implementing social distancing and their product are flying out the door, onto the doorsteps of their customers. 

Right product for the time and right route to market!

FIX – not completely screwed but need to significantly fix areas of their business

Most of my clients fall into this category – one good example is K’s Wors Sausages – she IS flying but has had to repivot – create an online shop to sell her wares and also develop some additional products to increase the offer and therefore basket value which has in turn justified the delivery charge. It IS working for her but has created its own problems because now she needs the funding to create the infrastructure to cope with the demand. 

Right products, new route to market

FREEZE – lock down mode – protecting and waiting for this phase to end

This sector includes airlines, travel businesses and those food businesses supply them.

I work extensively with Zinda foods who supply healthy Airwraps to Tesco food to go. It is not a surprise that this market place is struggling and so to protect the business, we have not locked down completely but instead protected the business and spent the time working out next steps for growth

Right product, wrong time

What's The Solution To Survival & Bouncing Back?

So how did they get to those results and know what to do to bounce back? There is a very simple model to do this - go back to basics using the 4 Ps of Marketing!

Airmedica image


How do you adapt your product range to meet the needs of your customer and still stay true to your brand values.

Cosmetic Creations have an amazing range of self tan products which they produce as white label for many famous brands. But early on they spotted the opportunity to make very high quality hand sanitizer and won some very lucrative contracts. We are now starting to think about “what next” for that business in terms of product offer as the opportunities now abound albeit in a slightly different direction

tonic image


 most of us who have worked in this industry have two approaches to costing.

Either we take the cost and add a percentage to create a selling price or we look at the competition and decide to match them – either be a little bit cheaper eg own label or set a premium eg Fever Tree base on cost and competition. But how about something completely different?

I have attended a couple of free online events recently. They asked for payment based on the value of the experience I received – maybe difficult when selling jars of peanut butter but thinking laterally is very key.

Or packaging products like M&S with their value box which meets the needs of customers who cannot get out but also increases the overall basket size

shelf promo image


following on from the example of M&S, value is often give to customers who buy more. So a multibuy is cheaper than buying one. Consider then the innovative retailer rotunden who charged 40 (£$.22) kr for one hand sanitiser and 1000kf (£122) for two! This helped with rationing but also created demand -

Ditto with waiting lists and other innovative ways to create scarcity that increases value and demand which promotes the product without decreasing the price!

ice cream image


most of the food businesses I know are pivoting to moving online DTC and that is working well. But there are hardships in finding the right delivery method

One of the hardest businesses to do this is ice cream. But check out who are now doing delivery vegan ice cream – its £8 in shipping but she has done it!! Worked out the IP for keeping it frozen! And at the same time is listed in M&S – fabulous achievement!

BUT all this takes time and money if we are to get the results we need. 

Time – why not take time out of your business to work on your business and plan your bounce back strategy with me. Book your no obligation call here.

Money – in my next Linked in article you will see why spending money right now is essential but in meantime get ready to raise those funds and download my FREE 13 ways to get the money you need to bounce back

If you need any help, feel free to get in touch