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Notes on life, by James Welch

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Getting beyond barriers to success

We had totally taken for granted a key benefit of our business.

When I rented the carpet cleaner and the giant Jenga set (see last week’s post here), I didn’t think overtly about the fact that the WhyBuy products have to be in excellent condition and perfectly clean, always.

So, as soon as my rentals were returned to our Wandsworth warehouse, every block of the Jenga, every handle was wiped down and the innards of the Rug Doctor were pressure washed, ready for the next rental.

Consistency of the high quality is key. And that’s something that we need to highlight more it turns out.

Despite now exceeding our crowdfunding target last week, my second week in the business, I learned that some investors have jumped to a common conclusion about the biggest problem that WhyBuy faces: yet since we’re not a peer-to-peer business, it’s not our problem after all.

Crowdfunding investment: WhyBuy met its target on Seedrs last week.

Yes, it turns out that our problem is that we don’t highlight up front that we’re not peer-to-peer.

What’s wrong with peer-to-peer rental? Perception is that they don’t have consistency. And that was a major issue for many an investor. So we’d better fix that in our future communications.

So what else should we be communicating to all our WhyBuy audiences, whether investors or customers… or both!? I’ll answer that.

Last week, we took time, together, to work through the key messaging at WhyBuy. Not sure if you’re interested at this stage. But I’m happy to share!

Clean and Green. As part of the circular economy, we need to all recognise that owning too much just is not sustainable. Did you know that in July this year, we passed Earth Overshoot Day – the date on which we’ve burnt through the amount of resources our planet can renew in a year.

Quality. As mentioned above, WhyBuy takes pride in it’s approach to product quality. We only rent out top quality products, in good condition, consistently. The virtue of not being a peer-to-peer model.

Value. The point of rental is that you don’t have the cost of purchase and of storage. And your product doesn’t grow old and obsolete in your cupboard.

Space. We help customers to declutter their home and help declutter the world too. Reclaim your space isn’t our strapline. Not yet. Maybe we should use that one day. You heard it here first!

Convenience. This is a point that people seem to know about if they know WhyBuy. We deliver at times that suit the customer.

Explore. We can now use products we’ve not thought of using before. Like me and giant Jenga. Or products that have been on the to do list. Like me and the Rug Doctor. Or like the outdoor party set that was out this weekend at a home in London. Patio heater, fire pit, beanbags, wine warmer for the mulled wine and a couple of other things. Nice, I don’t think I’d have thought of renting something like that before I knew of WhyBuy. Would you?

So these messages are the key messages that we’ll put across to investors. And customers too. Love to hear your feedback.

Anyway, here comes Week Three. Time to research, define and refine our audiences, don’t you think? 

Week One at WhyBuy: I’ve joined the movement, already

I’m a convert. I’ve joined the movement. The rental movement.

And that’s after “week zero” at WhyBuy. What’ll I be like after “week one” has taken place. I’ll let you know next week!

In this movement, we rent the things that we hesitate to buy.

Renting is a big thing these days.

Have a look around. Even Selfridges is renting clothes.

“Extending the lifespan of clothes that already exist is one of the best things you can do to reduce the environmental impact of your wardrobe,” says Victoria Prew, Founder of HURR – who has the clothes rental concession in Selfridges.

I’m not ready to rent clothes just yet. I don’t even wear all the ones I have. I know, that’s the whole point…

Yes, this weekend I started my own new habit: renting the things that I’d never buy.

Rentals fall into two categories: the “for fun” category and the “just need to get it done” category.

I rented a giant Jenga set and played with the kids.

They loved it. And we didn’t just play Jenga with the blocks. Open-ended play at its best. And that was fun.

I rented a Carpet Doctor and sucked the grime and gunk from the rugs that have been with us as a family for years.

What’s more it was much easier – and much more therapeutic – than I would have imagined. And now that job is done.

A good weekend at the end of Week Zero in the new job.

PS – Yes, I have staff rates when I rent at WhyBuy. You can have ‘staff rates’ too as right now we have discount codes for the month of December. Try HOHOHO – that’s 25% off plus free delivery. Please note we’re only in London.


5am Monday. New Job at WhyBuy

Week Zero.

New Job. Chief Commercial Officer at WhyBuy.

It’s 5am on Monday 23 November 2020 and after writing this I’ll drive to London to meet with the team at WhyBuy, the delivery-tech firm that allows Londoners to rent anything and everything (within reason) rather than buy.

Most people would call this week one. But we’re not born a week old, we are born at zero. Except in Korea where everyone is a year older as they count age differently. Did you know that? It was Jaewoo who taught me that when he was my boss when I ran 247 Media’s Media Innovation Group (WPP) in APAC for him.

So Week Zero and jumping in with both feet into this start up. I called it delivery-tech.

Perhaps that’s because I’ve just come from a project with an adtech, Brand Advance. They make niche audiences available through their diversity media publisher network and are launching some cool new products around audience insights built on adtech. An exciting, fast growing start-up. More on that in a future post, as it frames my start to this business.

Is WhyBuy delivery-tech? Or direct-to-consumer (DTC)? Rental-tech? What do we measure and talk about most?

Mileage, then we are delivery-tech.

Sales in financial terms (£££), then we are DTC.

Sales in terms of numbers of items rented, then we are rental-tech.

That seems simplistic.

Anyol’how, as Una would say… I’ll be in shortly, Jamie Conway & Denis Oyibo.

Glad I bought de-icer yesterday.



Managing Marketing: podcasting with the greats

Darren Woolley of TrinityP3 is a friend from the days when I lived in Sydney. And he recently had me consulting to his client Uber Middle East on a project, which was an eye-opener.

Darren has posted over 100 podcasts, entitles “Managing Marketing” with some great luminaries, including ‘my’ marketing professor, Mark Ritson. (I studied under him late last year.)

When he was in London we recorded our own podcast.

Darren has a flourishing introduction for each podcast episode. Here’s mine:

James Welch is a New Business Guru who has worked with and for Agencies in London, Singapore, Sydney and Dubai. Here he discusses with Darren the state of New Business and Business development across the multiple markets he has experienced and gives advice on what works and what to avoid when developing and implementing a business growth strategy in your agency.

Click here: https://soundcloud.com/managing-marketing/james-welch-and-darren-discuss-the-state-of-agency-business-development-internationally

Do have a listen. Let me know your thoughts!

(After recording the podcast one Sunday in January 2019, we went on a merry pub crawl from The Hurlingham Club to Sloane Square. This photo is outside the last pub on that track, The Antelope.)

The Marketing Society: An Evening with Channel 4’s Ant Middleton

The agenda of “bravery” comes to life in different shapes and sizes at the Marketing Society across the globe. It’s interesting to see how different, brave individuals are leading the way to face the future. And how they bring others along too to face their future. 

TMS-JW1

Putting this in context of the recent event I attended in London – an evening with Channel 4’s Ant Middleton – shows the consistency of message that the Society is putting out across the globe. And the consistency of outstanding global – and local – content that is being generated and curated in each of its hubs.

Here in Dubai, I’ve just come from another inspiring conversation about bravery in the context of mental health in the workplace – in a part of the world that is known for a show-no-weakness office environment. Show-no-weakness was endemic in the military environment that Ant Middleton has come from, he told us.

In London, we saw Ant Middleton as a conflicted character. And he wears this on his sleeve. Middleton is a Channel 4 TV hero, a smiling, muscley, tattooed beast of a bloke, with an enthusiastic, cheerful disposition and a dark, menacing past.

Chronologically, he’s a special forces veteran, an ex convict, a husband, a TV show host and a father. And he’s keen to show the world, through in his new-found media career, how he manages – and how we can manage – the demons of the past. And how to lead others along to face their demons to embrace the future. Continue reading “The Marketing Society: An Evening with Channel 4’s Ant Middleton”

ReloLondon part3 – how to get noticed

When you want to get noticed – and you have time on your hands – you know you need to start writing articles, you know you need to find a place to have them published. Some go for medium.com; others prefer Linkedin. I’ll just go with my wordpress blog. And maybe I’ll repost elsewhere, like Linkedin.Exchangewire

Unless Exchangewire will take my articles. I caught up with Ciaran yesterday, so I think I’m in but it’s always TBC till you’re fully signed up, right? (Sorry for this snap, Ciaran!)

While I’m drafting articles and/or posts, I get out and go networking – among other things. I was at this event hosted by Phil Thomas, CEO of Cannes Lions, recently in Dubai – where I used to live.

This famous adwoman, Madonna Badger from New York, was talking about an important agenda item for Cannes Lions. And she started a paragraph – when talking to camera – with the expression:

Bee Tee Dub

WTF, I thought. This is taking TLAs* to a whole new level. Maybe BTW often gets shortened to Bee Tee Dub. But I’d not heard it. Do we call it an abomination or do we try to use it? I say, let’s use it.

So here are my articles that are coming up:

Bee Tee Dub: Dee See Oh
Bee Tee Dub: Dee El Tee
Bee Tee Dub: Prog-ooh
Bee Tee Dub: Too Cho

Maybe that’s a daft idea and I should just write them in English and let the publication make the title wackier, if they want.

  • DCO – creative optimisation and who’s getting left behind
  • DLT – distributed ledger technology aka blockchain
  • Programmatic out of home and other biddable media
  • Too many choices and how behavioural biases can help streamline your audience’s actions.

Let me know if you’re interested in the content – or even in contributing to the content – soon to be published in that fabulous UK publication (tee bee dee).

 

*TLAs = Three Letter Abbreviations

ReloLondon part2 – how to network

Two months till we all arrive back in London. I’ve been away for 12 years. We’ll spend Christmas with family. But then what: need a job.

I’m excellent at networking but haven’t yet secured a job. I want to relocate back to the UK and find an awesome role. Not any old role. So, I’m talking to anyone who’ll listen. Looking for the ‘right people’ who can introduce me to more of the ‘right people’.

It takes a while to work out who the ‘right people’ are. And I’ve worked it out. Let me share.

The ‘right people’ in life – well, in my life – are the ones are break the mould. They stand out and they stand for something. And they tell bloody good stories.

I met Ant Middleton the other night here in London. He’s an ex-special forces, now TV show, hero in the UK. Ant Middleton says he doesn’t brief his tv production teams about the scary details of the upcoming shoot. He tells them the risks aren’t as high. And leads them along the way.

AntMiddleton_JW
TV Heros. Ant Middleton & JW – a selfie

Ant Middleton says,

Don’t be a sheep. Be yourself. The best version of yourself. Be a shepherd.

Ant Middleton finds a positive in every negative. And he’s a complex character. The evening was another amazing event by the Marketing Society.

The next day I met Richard Shotton. I worked with him 15 years ago, but now I’m just one of his fans… Yeah, #fanboy. He’s recently published a book called The Choice Factory. If you haven’t read it – and you work in business of any sort – you should. It’s all about short cuts for getting people to think differently. The format of each chapter is what you want from a business book. Engaging! ChoiceFactory.png

Title/subject – Illustration (anecdote) – Explanation (research) – Implementation (how to apply this).

I had an epiphany on Rich’s behalf. I’ve suggested that he now builds upon one particular section of the last book… and start to manipulate thinking among groups that society wants to manipulate. EG rehabilitation of young offenders. I told him:

Imagine if you did a ‘reality show’ with Ant Middleton as the trainer of young offenders and you’re doing the ‘live-on-air’ program adaptation to help remould the young offenders.

If it happens, I’d be delighted. But I think they are both building their own fame independently for the meantime. Fair cop.

And that’s the problem with job seeking, I keep finding roles for other people who are quite happy with their existing roles. But it helps me with my own stories, my own positioning. My own job seeking. And it helps me find more of the ‘right people’.

Are you one of the ‘right people’?

The Marketing Society Middle East: Dubai’s growing buzz

MarSocLogoThe collection of senior marketers at each Marketing Society Dubai event grows more diverse, interesting and whatsmore, engaged each month.

On this occasion, two years since our launch, on arrival there were senior marketing execs from Dubai Airports, Emirates NBD, The Entertainer, IBM, Majid Al Futtaim, MBC, Unilever sprinkled with a handful of senior agency and consulting folks.

Each event gets busier and with a bigger buzz.Welch_CalvinHart_3

And that’s why we keep coming.

The conversations amongst this growing community before the main attraction are often as meaningful as anything said on stage.

Regular marketing community interaction, beyond big festivals, is rare in this part of the world. It’s becoming vital to catch up on unfinished conversations from the last time; great to build upon growing friendships; a delight to share ideas, opportunities and general chit-chat.

Then we remember that it’s the food for thought that counts the most, in theory. 

So when Calvin Hart, the fabulous storyteller, gets on stage with an attitude of clear ambition and wealth of experience to colour the framework set by his agency story, we sit, learn and think that we should have more people like him in our own teams. Continue reading “The Marketing Society Middle East: Dubai’s growing buzz”

#OnTheCouchWith: Ash Banerjee, The Man Who Warned Against Data Ethics & Governance Breach

Ash_welch

In early 2017, when we sat down to discuss the format, the purpose and the opportunity of the #OnTheCouchWith series, we didn’t anticipate the foresight inherent in all the people we were yet to meet on the couch.

We created many episodes and not all have made it to light as yet. Other projects do get in the way of “house” projects like these. For example the 140-episode series that we undertook for Emirates Group’s ‘Be There’ campaign which has enjoyed over 150 million views. Across this project and all others, we work with clients to produce a series of ‘wow’ moments that can lead to transformation.

And here’s a new ‘wow’ moment: now is the time to bring Ash Banerjee’s insights to light. The Managing Partner of Lighthouse was setting up his consultancy around the time of filming about a year ago, and you’ll hear him speak about the dangers of unmoderated algorithms and data. The present-day focus on the Cambridge Analytica and Facebook debacle makes his prescient observations extremely relevant.

In Episode 54, Ash talks about how data can help build amazing customer experiences, citing Disney’s Magic Band as an example.

In Episode 55, he expands on how using data appropriately is quite critical to informing and building excellent customer experiences.

In Episode 56, he says big platforms such as Google and Facebook need to be careful. “Algorithms are machines and machines don’t have morals,” says the man who can see around corners, as he stresses the importance of data ethics and data governance.

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