I am working with STAR - the Society of Ticketing Agents and Retailers - on the 2014 UK Entertainment Ticketing Survey.
This is the first of what will become an annual survey into consumer attitudes and behaviour relating to the purchasing of tickets for live events, including concerts, festivals and theatre.
You can take part in the online survey by clicking here.
The way in which we buy tickets has changed enormously over the past few years and STAR is keen to understand and improve the consumer experience.
All participants will be entered into a draw to win £200-worth of Theatre Tokens.
Conferences, radio - and now web video. Is there no beginning to my talents?
In this case, we are talking about a one-hour panel discussion on the subject of Empty Nesters as Entrepreneurs. This is one of a series made for Scottish Widows, as part of their support for independent financial advisors.
To see this epic performance, go to http://www.retirementplanner-sw.com/static/empty-nesters-roundtable and scroll down to Empty Nesters as Entrepreneurs. Parts 1 - 4!
All things considered, I could have been a lot worse.
I do have strong views on this subject. People are having to work longer, as the state pension disappears into the sunset and occupational pension schemes, if they exist at all, become worth less and less.
At the same time, ageism is a fact of life and the chances of employment for anyone in their fifties and upwards are slim. If you're unemployed, it's probably long-term. You may give up altogether and cobble together an alternative non-working lifestyle. This is good news for the Government as once you 'sign off' you no longer constitute an unemployment statistic.
Hence, it is no surprise that an increasing number of older people are becoming entrepreneurs. Or at least, starting their own small businesses. Or becoming self-employed. I am not sure that these last two constitute entrepreneurship, but we'll let that pass.
This suggests that becoming an older entrepreneur is to some extent a last resort, the nuclear option. But of course, for many people it also represents the chance to leave the corporate world, to do something they've always wanted to do, and to do it their way. Self-actualisation, the apex of the hierarchy of needs.
I wish I could believe that this group is the majority. But I suspect that for too many people, the reality of ageing is the need to do something they may not be very good at - setting up and running a business - and continuing to do this at an age when they thought they might have been been comfortably retired.
If I can help - and my credentials to do this are surprisingly good - please feel free to contact me.
Last month, I had the great pleasure of combining two of my greatest loves: my own voice, and wine.
I was speaking at the annual Tourism South East conference, held at Denbies Wine Estate, Surrey.
I was asked to speak on the subject of whether the UK's ageing population is the 'next big thing' for UK tourism. I argued - conclusively, I think - that there were indeed plenty of opportunities for the tourism industry to benefit from the large, growing and diverse ageing population.
I was on last and there was something of a soporific atmosphere, due in part to poor air conditioning. In fact, at least one person was asleep and others looked close. This was ironic as the event sponsor was an air conditioning business. So I decided to energise my presentation.
The result was akin to a stand-up comedian on speed and while I don't know where the jokes came from, there were a lot of laughs. Rather too many, in fact.
Fortunately, the laughs were accompanied with an equal number of complimentary remarks. One delegate - the Managing Director of a large leisure business - was kind enough to email me the next morning, saying:
"I enjoyed your presentation yesterday, which woke some of us 50 year olds up! You managed the delicate balance of information and humour really well and left us with some thinking to do about how we take advantage of the demographic changes you discussed, particularly in regard to communication and the changing nature of ‘the family’."
Whether he meant 'woke up' as in energised, better informed or simply roused from their post-lunch slumber, I do not know. But I took his comments as a positive and hope to be able to work with his business soon.
When your name barely features on any list at all, even the Z-list, it's always flattering to be asked to be on the radio.
Despite writing and presenting three stonking one-hour specials on the Beach Boys, David Bowie and Petula Clark on The Wireless last year, my radio career seemed to have fizzled to a halt.
It had been some years since I had written rather cringe-inducing radio commercials for the likes of the National Bus Company and W.H. Smith, so perhaps this was my chance of redemption. But it wasn't to be and David Hamilton and Graham Dene continue to rule that particular station. Never again would my dulcet tones (an unsatisfactory hybrid of Bob Harris and Tony Blackburn) be heard on the airwaves. Or so I thought.
Until now. So, for those who love the sound of my own voice as much as I do, here is a link to yesterday's one-hour interview on the subject of Marketing to Seniors, on Marketing Radio.
It's not too bad, although I do go on a bit. And I wish I hadn't chosen the Twitter controversy which describes Hershey's new logo as a 'steaming turd' as my story of the week. Some things never change, it seems. But that's radio.
Last year it was radio. This year, it's conferences. And last week, I appeared on the panel in a web video for Scottish Widows. TV is surely the next step. So here's an idea I 'm pitching for my very own television show. If Alan Yentob follows this blog - let's talk (loved your Rod Stewart prog last week, Al).
Working title: Beasley's Business Nightmares
Concept: I will meet badly run businesses, large and small, and their owners or managers. After some cursory research, carried out by an unpaid intern, I will offer my report and recommendations.
In other words, I will tell them where they're going wrong in an extremely confrontational and aggressive manner, and swear a lot. They will resist me at first, before - inevitably - realising that I am right and they are wrong. They will then roll over, do exactly as I say and treat me as a God forever.
My main inspiration here is of course the great Gordon Ramsey, who in his 'Kitchen Nightmares' TV series focuses only on restaurants and pubs. Goodness knows there are enough badly-run catering establishments in the UK to keep this programme going for ever, so I will leave this sector to Gordon.
For those not familiar with this series, here's how it works. Typically, Gordon arrives at an establishment which is owned and run by a pair of clueless incompetents with no discernible skill or experience, who somehow thought it a good idea to sink their life savings into a pretentious bistro called 'Bogarts' in a back street of Scunthorpe. Tumbleweed is blowing through their restaurant, the tables are covered in cobwebs, they are losing money and are close to bankruptcy. Enter Gordon, who - despite being the only person in the restaurant - receives slow, incompetent service and (inevitably) revolting food, which he projectile vomits over the waitress.
The kitchen is usually run by a tattooed thug with no teeth, who is apparently on some sort of care in the community project. He has had no training of any kind, least of all in personal or food hygiene, and his signature dish is crabsticks flash fried with chocolate, cider and packet soup. He and Gordon hate each other on sight. With his bosses, he and others like him are responsible for the poor food, lousy service and rip-off prices that we all experience every week in restaurants and pubs the length and breadth of the United Kingdom. They all richly deserve as much invective, profanity, spittle and halitosis as Gordon is prepared to provide them with. Which is usually a lot.
So, back to me. I have much better skin tone than Gordon and I am sure I can work on the swearing. And I have extensive experience of working with businesses of all sizes which seem to have no idea why they are there, other than to do whatever they have to do to hit their next quarter's numbers, who have little interest in finding out what their customers really want or value, and no vision of where they are going long-term. This excludes current clients, of course. The rest of you - beware. Reality - in the form of me and my camera team - could strike soon.
I recently travelled to Estonia, where I had been asked to be keynote speaker at the conference 'Marketing for Seniors' held in the capital, Tallinn, on June 12th.
Organised by Best Marketing, the event was for marketers in a country which, like all 27 EU member states, faces the challenges and opportunities of an ageing population. More than 30% of the population of Estonia consists of retirees and this is compounded by the economic emigration of young people.
I had a two hour session to manage, which presented both the delegates and myself with a number of problems. It was immediately after lunch and we speak different languages. Fortunately, Estonian people are not only extremely polite, they are also multi-lingual.
I managed to combine theory with practical examples, and used a few of my favoured shock tactics to remind us all that this is not just an external issue: age-aversion is conditioned into agencies, marketers and the marketing discipline itself.
It was a great opportunity to see the beautiful city of Tallinn and to feel the chill of the cold war. The hotel I stayed in has a KGB museum: after the end of the cold war, hotel management discovered a network of microphones, secret rooms and cells. If they were monitoring my presentation, I hope they enjoyed it. I did!
Together with design agency, rhc creative strategy, I recently had the pleasure of working with Percussion Plus, who manufacture and distribute a huge range of percussion and drum instruments.
Many of these instruments are manufactured at their Market Harborough factory - rightly, a great source of pride: to produce something of high quality and to be able to say 'Made in Britain' is some achievement.
Percussion Plus needed to find a way to stand out from the competition (much of it low-cost imports).
We ran a Marketing Workshop with the team at Percussion Plus. This uncovered two fundamental truths.
First, the manufacturing process, in their own factory, produces products of great durability - in other words, the instruments last a long time and take a lot of punishment. This is particularly important when many of your customers are in the education business, with limited budgets and active children.
Second, emotion is hugely important. From the love and pride that go into making the products, to the enjoyment and enthusiasm of the musicians playing them, to the enjoyment (sometimes!) of the audience (including proud parents). This emotion was shared by all stakeholders and was, I felt, the key to a more distinctive positioning.
This led us to a communications strategy which can best be summarised by these two copy lines:
Instruments that take some beating
and the 'strapline' -
A Passion for Percussion
Wearing my 'rhc advantage' agency hat, I have recently had the pleasure of working with Steve McNulty, the founder and CEO of Visbuzz. Steve is a man on a mission: a mission to end loneliness.
The subject of loneliness has been high profile of late - and deservedly so.The statistics regarding the number of older people living alone, the lack of social contact that they have - and their feelings of isolation - make depressing reading. 'Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way', as Pink Floyd sang.
Add to this to the educational and social mobility enjoyed by many people in the 40s, 50s and 60s, meaning that they are unlikely to live anywhere near their elderly parents, now in their 70s, 80s and 90s.
So, we have on the hand lonely elderly parents, isolated from their busy - and on the other, their guilt-ridden adult children. Enter McNulty - a successful businessman, with an elderly mother himself - and his brainchild, Visbuzz.
Visbuzz is cloud-based software supplied to the elderly parent on a tablet computer. All the user has to do is to touch the faces of their chosen contacts shown on the screen of the tablet, in order to hold a video call with them. That's all they have to do - and that's all that the tablet will do.
We have worked with Visbuzz to create a brand identity, press advertising, promotional materials and a website. I've enjoyed developing a brand communications strategy from scratch (apart from the name Visbuzz) and writing copy which - I hope - makes the concept seem as logical, attractive and simple as it is intended to be.www.visbuzz.com