It Began With A Letter From A Toffee Company…
When I was a teenager, my dad had a small printing business and I helped out for pocket money.
One of our customers was a copywriter called Tony. He wrote sales letters for other businesses and my father would print them. They did a lot of jobs together over the years, but one in particular caught my imagination, a sales letter for a company called Blue Bird Toffee.
The letter had a coin stuck near the top to pay for return postage, a clever device to improve response rates.
I can remember reading it and being fascinated that a letter could produce sales. I was probably about 12 or 13 years old, yet this sales letter started my lifelong fascination with marketing. I also have a degree in computer science. This gives me a pretty unique combination of skills across technology and marketing for lead generation online.
I’ve personally set up as well as coached many clients to build their own multi-million pound marketing funnels.
I help clients with other strategies, too, like email marketing, websites that produce leads, search engine optimisation (SEO) and Facebook Ads.
But old-fashioned offline marketing still has a place for some businesses. My favourite example is Tom, a client with a pharmacy who wins new customers using carefully written letters posted in bulk through letterboxes. Another client, Ben, sent letters with surprising parcels to very senior financial managers in billion-pound firms. I will never forget the first person to receive a parcel of 3 Hot Wheels cars – a senior manager for Mercedes, he called Ben immediately and asked for a meeting!
I like these guerrilla marketing campaigns not because they’re creative or different, though. I like them because they are very effective.
Tom and Ben, along with many other clients, added 7 figures to their annual sales as a result of the work we did together. Marketing is the driving force to get more enquiries and leads. It’s critical. And I love it.
But business coaching is far more than developing high performance marketing campaigns. There are other things to get right for your business to work well. At the heart of everything is helping the business owner to grow – and learning how to do that is another story altogether…
The Olympic Gold Medallist Who Taught Me To Coach
Through the 1980’s I was captivated by the possibilities of computers.
After getting my degree I got a job with Zeneca Pharmaceuticals (now a large part of AstraZeneca). I soon found myself recruiting and managing people, managing million pound budgets, negotiating huge contracts, setting targets, working to improve productivity, and all the other things you have to do when you’re a busy manager.
The great thing about working for a cash-rich company like this was the sheer volume of high quality training and development.
While I had training in all aspects of management, it was a coaching course run by the gold-medal Olympian, David Hemery CBE, that had the biggest impact on me.
He taught us techniques that he used with elite sportspeople to help them exploit their own personal strengths. “No two athletes perform in quite the same way“, he explained, “so peak performance is about helping individual people to find their own best performance“.
The same is true in business, of course.
The best advice for one person is not the best advice for another. Performance rarely improves as a result of advice alone. How many courses and books have you bought, but never finished, never using a single idea from them? Yet they were packed full of advice.
He went on to explain that strong accountability is just a tiny part of a bigger framework, too.
How many times did my teacher tell me off for not doing my homework – yet I repeatedly forgot to do my homework. Accountability didn’t help at all. It was the same for a lot of kids in my school. Our problem was not accountability, it was that we didn’t believe there was any benefit to doing the work.
You see, accountability is important, but it’s not the complete picture at all – it’s just the last piece of the jigsaw.
The secret is that you need to want to do the work. You need to have understand the full range of potential solutions. You need the freedom of choosing your own path. One business owner may love picking the phone up and cold-calling people. Another may hate it. It’s no use trying to convert one into the other. But when you can pick your own solution, you are far more likely to get on with it.
This is why people who say, “I did it this way, you just need to do the same thing as me” are not providing you with coaching. If you feel you need a ‘do it my way or the highway’ sergeant-major style coach, it’s because you haven’t worked with a proper coach and experienced a better way, yet. Coaching quickly deals with the underlying issue, rather than treating the symptoms on the surface.
We are all far more capable than we realise, and coaching is the best way I know to stretch you to your full potential.
Of course, while coaching is a great skill and very helpful, there are specific techniques involved in growing a business successfully, which brings me to the deep work of creating a system for business growth…
Writing My First Book & Discovering Deep Work
There’s a ton of practical knowledge and strategies that have gone into helping my clients’ businesses to grow.
It was this practical, hands-on stuff that an editor at Pearson Publishing wanted me to write about, when she came across me through a mutual friend, Sonja Nisson. Impressed with my clients getting such strong results, she asked if I’d consider writing a book called Double Your Business under their Financial Times Publishing brand. I was delighted, but that was just the beginning.
In order to write a book that covers pretty much everything with enough depth to be useful, where do you start? This is where my fascination with developing a system for growing a business really started. I wanted to map out a method for growth, rather than writing yet another business book with maybe one or two good ideas and a lot of filler.
I started a bit like you would with a jigsaw puzzle – I made a huge list of all the things I’d done to help clients grow back then. How to get your motivation back, fix weak cash flow, get more customers, manage your employees, and so on. I did a huge ‘map’ of business growth with little sketches and key thoughts, on my whiteboards.
When I stood back and looked, I realised the ‘shape’ of the book had emerged from my thinking, exploring and scribbles on the board.
I learnt later on that what I was doing is something called deep work. It’s the research and tough thinking of coming up with something new and is normally done in chunks of a few hours at a time. I am quite addicted to it, which is why I’m a bit of a business growth geek.
This is the payoff for doing deep work. Insights and knowledge that makes a real difference. It’s why I love it.
So welcome. If you want to hear ideas to improve your business from a bit of a growth geek, you’re in the right place.
P.S. Although I love my work, I have all the usual other stuff going on too. Our kids have left home and we have a black Labrador called Murphy who keeps us busy now, instead. You will find us most days taking a walk around the local farmer’s fields.
P.P.S. At school I was hopeless at art – so I decided in 2021 to learn to draw cartoons to use in my work. I learned how on a couple of online courses with a professional cartoonist called Alison Beere. The cartoons and drawings you see on this website are my original work.