Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Let’s talk Marketing!

Welcome everyone – let's talk Marketing! My name is Frankie and this marks the beginning, of what I hope, to be a very insightful process. It is rather nerve racking putting myself and my thoughts in the public eye, but I believe the quickest way to learn about a topic, is to find like-minded people who aren't afraid of sharing their thoughts and experiences openly in the hopes that everybody can learn from everybody. Education is so expensive and often worthless in comparison to real life experiences.

My background in the advertising industry started on 8th June 1998. It's funny how life changing dates stick in our heads and that fateful day I started working for a small, but 'shit-hot' (that's a technical term), advertising agency. I came on board as a secretary and a PA for 4 people - the boss, her husband the creative, her brother the writer and her loyal but testy media buyer and right hand Lady. The media buyer resigned after 6 months of my being there (nothing to do with me, luckily) which made a promotion for me inevitable and possible. My boss taught me everything there was to know about running an agency because she wanted her setup to include being able to go away for long holidays and not worry that the office would need to shut down. I managed clients; media bookings; publicity operations; client reports; general traffic; all office operations; banking accounts; payments; billings; filing; answering of phones and just about anything else that was required. The only things I never handled were the budgets and getting briefs for new jobs. This was the best opportunity that had ever been sent my way and with gratitude I worked hard, listened carefully and learnt a ton during what I now term, my apprenticeship.

My boss grew tired of running an ad agency and decided she wanted to sell-up and ship out. She sold the company to a man who had every intention of making a good go of it, but in the end didn't quite manage. I believe it came down to relationships and to cut a long story short, I resigned with the writer hot on my heels. On the 1st January 2003, he and I opened our own agency and thanks to previous relationships some clients insisted on moving with us. And so our business was born.

Even with 11 years' service completed in the advertising industry and my company's 7th birthday in January 2010, I am still learning an incredible amount, sometimes daily, about the advertising industry and I hope to be a part of its rebirth when it happens. I believe that advertising needs to move with the times and become easily accessible to everybody, not just the elite, and that is what i believe the internet offers.

In my next post I'll introduce Branding, what it means to me and briefly look at the value of brands as I understand them. I hope you enjoy the marketing process for cozwecan.com and if I'm lucky enough to have questions or comments, I'll welcome the debates and conversations that follow.

I am very excited about this completely new market for me and can't wait to begin creating a strategy with the help of my partners, Rob and Paul, without which, this would just be a pipe dream. I hope by sharing our experience on-line that I get to learn a lot and share a great deal through this journey.

Thanks for joining me!


Tuesday, 2 June 2009

cozwecan is born!

Greetings...one and all! Welcome to our blog!

Today is a great day for our first start-up because we've taken a rather unusual decision. We've decided to publicise as much as possible about what we're doing to get a company up and running from scratch! Why? Well, firstly, think of starting a business as a potential mine-field - it's easy to put a foot wrong and then... boom, the end! So while we may not be expert mine sweepers, we'd love to share our experiences (successful or otherwise!). Of course, if there's an expert out there who can see we're about to step on a mine, please let us know! But, ultimately, when we look back at how it all began (whilst sipping Piña coladas on a beach in Tahiti) and think about how we navigated the minefield, my guess is that the reason we made it will be because of you. Because by putting what we did in the public eye, we turned up the heat in the kitchen, and it forced us to make it or break it! There's no hiding once you flick the switch - and this post is that metaphorical switch. Where we go from here, only we can attempt to control, but I think it's a good start if you've got high hopes, a good work ethic, and are prepared to think outside a very large box!

So who are we?

At this point in time, we're a team of three people:
  • Frankie (Marketing and Branding mumbo jumbo); 
  • Paul (eBusiness and Financial fanfare); 
  • and Rob G (Technical gobble-di-gook); 
Let's get something straight here first of all - all three of us have day jobs that keep us very very busy. We're not doing any of this work on the back of venture capital or business angels. All the costs of this baby are coming out of our own pockets, so we have no choice but to keep the costs down as much as possible. And all the time spent on the project is out of normal working hours.

What's more is that we're all pretty geographically distributed away from each other. Frankie runs her own print and media marketing business in Johannesburg, South Africa, which has been going nicely for the last few years, and Paul and Rob (me) have been in business together in London, UK, since 2004 doing software consulting work. The missing connection here is that Frankie and Rob are siblings...and there you have it, the beginnings of a team.

Why the name?

Well this one is a particularly long story, but as you can imagine, it's started off with a blank stare, and after much gnashing of teeth, followed by too many ideas which were duly narrowed down by which domain names were available. And then we changed our minds...and then...well you get the idea. In the end, as all good ideas go, it came to me one night in the shower and when checking the domain name (trying not to drip on the keyboard), I was very surprised to see it was AVAILABLE! It was a sign...either it was destiny, or it was such a crap name that nobody had bought it yet. Anyway, I'll leave that one as an exercise for the reader. We've lost track of the number of times we've asked ourselves why we're doing this, and it always comes back to the same answer: cozwecan! So I think it fits with what we're up to...

So what is it about?

We have decided to turn "cozwecan" into a brand, by launching a number of initiatives under that banner. The first one we choose needs to be in a niche that we at least have some experience in. They say that when it comes to the internet, there may be some new ideas lurking out there, but they're very tough to find, much less make them work. A better strategy might be to take an existing idea that already has some roots, and then launch your best effort to make it better!

The latter is what we've decided to do. In our case, Paul and I have been tinkering with the idea of putting some form of eCommerce platform live, but finding the perfect fit of product has been tricky - mainly because of logistics. Frankie on the other hand told me that her fiancée, who is a renown South African photographer wanted her to show him how he could market and sell his photos on the internet. Frankie put in a call to her brother (Rob) to float the idea, and before you know it, we're discussing the launch of an e-commerce website for photographers to sell their goods B to B and B to C.

Down to Business!

This all sounds good in theory, so I guess you're wondering what we'll be doing next. Well, a couple of things. Firstly, this blog is where we'll be keeping any interested readers appraised of what we're up to and what progress is being made.

We're also going to be making a podcast of our business discussions so that those who may be interested can hear what goes on, on the inside. We don't expect there will be many listeners to the podcast of course since we are completely "unknown", but it definitely serves as a valuable business tool in keeping meetings short, sweet and to the point. If that is all the value we get out of it, then so be it - it was good enough for us!

What will we be talking about?

Due to the nature of a business conversation, the podcast will almost certainly focus on areas where all three of us have an interest. You won't find it veering off down a deep technical rabbit hole, or getting swallowed up by the hum-drum of marketing speak. One of us is bound to get bored, so we're reserving these conversations as mutual points of interest that specifically target areas of the business that need input from all three of us. In essence, it will be a podcast about business start-ups - not much else.

The blog however is a different kettle of fish altogether. We aim to have three very different audiences reading the blog, those interested in topics of a business or financial flavour will want to look for those tags or articles published by Paul. If it's marketing, branding and positioning you're after, Frankie is your gal, and when it comes to the technical side, Rob will be posting about everything from his favourite refactoring tools, to the technology stack used to build cozwecan.

Where to from here?

Well, we can only hope that we manage to snag a few interested listeners and readers along the way, but most of all, we hope to get all of our thinking, plans, hopes and dreams out on the intertubes, and if we're lucky we'll have an audience to digest it and if we're even luckier, that spit some of it back at us and call us out on our mistakes as we take this journey.

We hope you'll have as much to gain in reading and listening, as we will in producing the material. Be sure to check back for regular updates, or simply subscribe to our posts with your favourite reader...

Thanks for visiting,
The cozwecan team!