Martial Law Marketing

I don’t know about you, but when I hear a country is under martial law, it doesn’t make me want to visit.  Thailand had a military coup recently, and the government is looking to transform perceptions.  They are set to launch a campaign labelled ’24 Hours Enjoy Thailand’ to highlight the fact that tourists are actually  safer both day and night under the new regime, because of the military presence on the streets.

I’m not sure whether people will  buy it, but it’s certainly a valid argument. And it shows something very important – it’s always possible to reframe a negative event. It might not always work, but there’s little to lose from trying.

The Melbourne Brothl

No, I haven’t spelled that wrongly. Nor are we suggesting you go into something that’s less than proper. The Brothl company in Melbourne Australia are making money by selling food made from organic waste.

The company have been influenced by the 1930s research of Weston Price which found a relationship between eating food that’s past its best and an improvement in health and immunity from disease. As a result, the restaurant takes food that includes the 40-50 percent of goods considered to be organic waste that it says are perfectly edible.

Brothl concentrates on soups and broths, which enable any harmful bacteria to be boiled away. Ingredients include  rainwater, foraged sea vegetables, stale bread and the bones and carcasses thrown away by other restaurants.  Brothl aims to give customers nutrition that they can’t get elsewhere, while cutting down on food waste by using produce that would otherwise go to landfill.

I’ve a feeling that old, ugly and over-ripe food could become a bit of a niche trend amongst eco-conscious consumers.  Could you bring it to your area?

Making Money From Ebola

I just read about a New York entrepreneur who is making money from the Ebola outbreak. Todd Spinelli has developed a dietary supplement which he claims prevents  healthy cells from breaking down,  and as a result help boost the immune system to protect it from contracting diseases, including Ebola. Spinelli trademarked the product called Ebola-C and says he’s selling up to 14,000 a day at $34.95.

We’ll leave the ethics to one side and get straight to the business lessons:

1.    There’s money to be made from fear.

2.    It’s always worth paying close attention to the news to see what people are interested in and talking about.

3.    Taking a generic product (this one is mainly vitamin C) and giving it a unique twist can yield extraordinary results

Payment By Laughs

I’ve just read about a comedy theatre club in Barcelona, Spain that has implemented a unique charging system. Rather than audience members paying for a ticket, they pay by the laugh received. The system is policed and monitored by tablet computers fitted to the back of seats.

Now I’m sure this is a bit of a publicity stunt – the clue is that there is an advertising agency behind the whole thing – but takings per audience member are actually up by six euros per person, and audience numbers are up too.  Publicity stunt or not, this does raise an interesting question…is there a non-traditional way of charging for your product or service which might increase customer numbers or sales volume? If you’re doing the same as everyone else, you could be missing a big opportunity to stand out.

Signs Of Security

I was driving through an estate near my house last week when I saw a van with a private security firm  livery, parked outside a house. It crossed my mind that this house would be  a whole lot safer from burglars simply by virtue of having that van parked outside. And then I thought…’what if more houses had private security vehicles parked outside?’ And then it dawned on me, – you don’t need the van,  you just need the livery.

Magnetic signs which can be attached to the side of vehicles are relatively cheap to have produced. So imagine you designed up some professional-looking signs and then marketed  them to home owners as a security deterrent they could simply attach to their vehicle parked outside their house every evening.

This is completely untested, but I think there could be a viable business in it. What’s more, it’s something with massive potential in every urban area of the UK.

Roost

New houses are  getting smaller, and yet we all seem to accumulate more and more stuff. The upshot is that many of us have a storage problem. This has led to a growth in the self-storage sector, but I just heard about a service in the USA which could easily be copied here.

Roost is a web app where users can search  for (and offer) storage space in their locality. Not everyone lives in a small house or have a large family, so in every neighbourhood there are people with more space than they need. Quite often these people would welcome an additional source of income, since large houses cost a lot to run. What the Roost app does is bring together those needing space with those offering space. It’s a classic middle man operation, matching buyers and sellers.

The advantage for the person looking for storage space is convenience (the space is close to where they live) and cost (charges are typically less than for a professional self storage operation.)

I can see no reason why something similar couldn’t work in the UK. Not something you can set up in 10 minutes, but there’s huge potential if it’s done correctly.

The Six Year Old Entrepreneur

I’ve just watched 6 year old Anya Solomon  James on breakfast TV proving you don’t need a lot of experience to make some extra cash. When Anya wanted some extra pocket money, her mum told her that money had to be earned. Now I’m sure she didn’t do it all on her own (although her Mum swears that the youngster does most of the work herself) but Anya set up Doggie Delights, a business producing dog biscuits. Anya makes her biscuits on Saturday mornings and then delivers to her customers in St Ives over the weekend.

There are a couple of interesting aspects to the enterprise which everyone can learn from:

1 The only promotion is via a Facebook page. Social media is not only accessible to everyone, it’s also free. No other entrepreneurial generation has had that luxury.

2. One of the services Anya provides is to personalise the biscuits with the dogs name. The dog won’t appreciate the personalisation but the person paying the bill will. This is an excellent example of how small enterprises can compete against bigger businesses – by providing additional services which the can’t offer.

The business is only four weeks old and already generating sales of around £30 a week.  There are many would-be adult entrepreneurs who haven’t managed that yet.

Investigation Summer Camp

The ‘summer camp’ is long established in the United States, but  it doesn’t have to be just  about outdoor pursuits. The popularity of programmes like CSI has awakened interest in investigation techniques, and to satisfy the interest, Stockton CSI now run summer camp programmes with a forensic science theme. Participants get to survey mock crime scenes, look for clues and even learn the basics of blood analysis.

I’m sure there’s a market for something like this here in the UK. It wouldn’t necessarily have to be a residential programme, or indeed one just for children. I can see that a lot of  adults would also be interested in this as well, and even a day or half day programme could give them  a valuable insight, as well as being a great deal of fun.

Something to investigate yourself if you have the right skills and background.

Cycling Tours

As we’ve said here many times before, cycling is booming, and the number of people interested in either basing their holiday around cycling, or incorporating it within  their trip, is on the increase. And what’s interesting, is that there are an almost infinite number of possible themes and concepts to base a cycling tour around.

If you fancy going from Lands End to John O Groats, there are companies that will take all the hassle out of it for you. It’s the same if you want to go coast to coast. But every area of the UK and Europe has interesting alternatives. How about a tour taking in the three UK stages of the 2014 Tour De France for example, or a tour around a particular county or region? Or maybe you could organise a tour that combines cycling with another interest like football, golf, whisky, popular music,  nature or whatever.

You might think that people can organise a lot of this themselves, which they can. But a supported tour would make things easier, safer and ultimately, more enjoyable for everyone.

Kitchen For Hire

Here are two facts which form the basis of a business opportunity – commercial kitchens are under-utilised assets, used for only part of the day, and many would-be food business entrepreneurs don’t have the capital to invest in a professional kitchen. In the United States, renting commercial kitchens has become a win-win for kitchen owners and entrepreneurs.

After being unable to find a suitable kitchen for her cookie business, Pricilla Maddox set up Kitchen For Hire to match up kitchen owners with spare capacity with entrepreneurs needing facilities. Exactly the same factors exist in the UK, so there could very easily be an opportunity for someone to copy the business here. TV cooking programmes have inspired many to get involved in the growing field of specialist food production.