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Business News Series

Misshapen Food

bendy-marrow

More About Food Waste

I read with interest this week that leading UK supermarket chain Asda is starting to sell oddly shaped vegetables in a bid to waste less food. This announcement leads me to draw a few conclusions that I would like to share with you all, and brings back a few memories.

My mum and dad had 3 boys to bring up, in the dark shadow of the mills of Manchester, and they probably weren’t what we would call rich (today). Every year we went to Skegness for our summer holidays, and every Sunday went to the market.

Markets were a different thing then I think, everyone went. My mum used to buy her biscuits there. She bought them in a bag, a huge bag a bit like the ones we use today to put the rubbish in. The biscuits were broken. They had not made it into the boxes in the factory, were collected up and sold in huge sacks for next to nothing (I presume).

There was a chip shop too that put batter bits on your chips if you asked, the crumbs that had fallen into the fat off the fish, lovely.

As I became some form of adult I continued the tradition. A local chocolate maker sold bags of ‘misshapes’, again chocolates that had come out of the mold wrong, had treacle dribbling out of them or had got squashed. The same chocolates that cost a fortune in their branded high street shops.

Surely this must be a good way to use the wasted ones, although there is the issue of supply and demand that I raised in my previous post about food waste.

Vegetism

So back to Asda. They are going to sell strangely shaped vegetables for less than their regularly shaped cousins. Are they going to sell them for less though because maybe they are worth less (or worthless)? This is a strange idea for sure. They are all fresh vegetables, they all contain exactly the same nutritional value, you can cook them all and they all taste the same, so why sell them for less?

Well we live in a society here in Europe that has engineered a situation in which only certain shapes are good. You might recall I mentioned ableism in a recent post and it certainly isn’t difficult to see how the human figure has been moulded into an ideal type, with all variations somewhat frowned upon or in need of correction (particularly I feel in the case of women).

And this is also the case for vegetables. In this case aesthetics is enshrined in law, as the European Union has regulations about the size and shape of fruit and vegetables. These regulations were ridiculed in the popular press ten years ago as it was said that straight bananas could not be sold. Read all about it here.

And vegetables come in at least 3 categories; nice looking that go into supermarkets, not so nice looking that go into processed food production, and unfit for human consumption, that go into animal feed. But it can all be used, you get less for the ugly ones however.

So producers have always been able to sell these vegetables, but for different uses and at different prices, so I must come to the conclusion that this is a marketing ploy in order to sell them for more. Just my opinion of course, but cynicism runs deep in my line of work.

It would be great to see them though in with their cousins for sale all together at the same price, but reports are that they are often left on the shelf to rot. Apparently people prefer a correctly curved banana to a straight one, and a straight marrow to the one in the photo above.

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Business Internet

Common Reasons Online Business Startups Fail

It seems like starting a website should be easy enough – there are almost unlimited free online resources spouting off advice, it can be relatively cheap to launch a website, and, naturally, you have the best business idea for your website. So why is it that so many website startups fail?

1. Low Quality Web Design

One of the biggest mistakes that web startups make is having poor web design. Your website is the most important aspect of you company so why would you skimp on that? The overall design of your site is what initially draws people in, it’s what their first impression of you as a company is, so having a solid website design is crucial to your success.

2. Poor Content

In the same respect as low quality web design, having poor content on your site will be a huge turn off to people. To retain visitors you need to be able to provide content that wows them. You want to show anyone and everyone that visits your site the best you have to offer, so why would you fill your site with uninteresting or poorly written content?

3. Poor Marketing

Google SEO Chart
Google is one of the best places to start your online marketing – both simple SEO and paid ads are are good place to start.

You can have the best website and the best content in the world, but if no one ever sees it then it won’t really matter, will it? You can never retain a customer if you can’t even catch their eye to begin with. This is why it’s imperative to spend ample time marketing on social media, through email campaigns, and through traditional marketing routes. You have to be willing to put time and money into your marketing scheme to achieve the best possible outcome – after all, you reap what you sow.

4. No Passion

Picking a niche market just because you think it will be profitable is one of the worst reasons to start a business. You have to actually be passionate about what you’re trying to make money off of, otherwise it’s going to be a lost cause and people will be able to see right through you.

5. Not Enough Funds

When you don’t allocate enough money for a startup company, you run the risk of forcing the company to fizzle out because you lack the proper funds to keep it going – or worse, you risk driving yourself into debt.

Get rich quick schemes rarely work in life and the same holds true for web startups. The road to success can only be reached by hard work, dedication, and money. So if you’re contemplating launching a startup business, make sure that it’s something you really want to do, otherwise you’ll be doing your potential customers and yourself a disservice.

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Business How To Guides

Ideas on how to promote a startup on a budget

Successful startups have some things in common and top notch marketing is one of them. You might have come up with the greatest idea in the world or built the coolest application, but if other people don’t know about it, your idea or product isn’t worth much. Many young entrepreneurs get so sucked into the creation of the product, that they treat marketing as an afterthought. But as I said before, if users don’t know about a product they won’t be using it.

The immense popularity of the internet has leveled the playing fields, so someone with a small budget working from a garage can compete with big companies as long as they have a cool idea. In fact they might have a better chance in some niches because people have started to distrust companies. Below are few ways you can promote your startup – specifically tech startups.

Social Media

The starting point is creating a Facebook page and a Twitter account. Both are free to start and you have the potential to tap into millions of users. You can get the ball rolling by asking your friends to like and share the page.Business Networking in the 21st Century

Social networks are a good place to share your ideas and plans and get some feedback on them. Every little things count to successfully promote your product. If you have a product that is catering to a specific niche, then try joining a similar niche social network as well.

Contacting Leading Blogs and Getting Press Coverage

Once you come up with a working solution you can contact leading industry blogs to cover your product. Most major technology blogs like TechCrunch and Mashable have separate application forms for startups, so if you are confident about your product you can submit to them.

EDITOR NOTE: I must have misread, I couldn’t see Technology Bloggers among those ‘major technology blogs’! 😉 One day… – note by Christopher

Not only will you get massive exposure you will be able to get funding as well. Even if you don’t get published in major publications there are many other websites that promote startups and you can find many of them by doing a simple Google search.

Attending Conferences

Attending conferences and your local tech gatherings is another great way to spread the word about your product. Attending major conferences helps you network with people and pitch your product to industry leaders.

Local gathering are important because in most of these you will be able to present your product to an audience using a projector, which is far more effective than reading an article about your product. You will also get instant feedback on how you can improve your product as well.

Search Engine Optimization

Another promotion stream that is ignored by most startups is search engine optimization. Although most people in the technology field know about SEO, few actually try to leverage its power. This is especially useful if you are a global product catering to a non tech crowd. They won’t be reading Mashable and attending tech conferences, so the most probable way they will find your product is via search engines.

Even if you are catering to a tech crowd search engine optimization is a must. The long term benefits of SEO are immense. Although it is advisable to outsource your SEO work, if you have lots of content produced through your blog and website, it is better to hire your own SEO engineer. Be careful though, as black-hat SEO can be very damaging to a site, so if you do outsource, make sure it is to someone trustworthy.

Mentioned above are some major things you can do to promote your tech startup. Always remember that more people know about your product the better. The bigger your customer base, the likelihood is, the more money you will make/people you will help!

Categories
Business How To Guides Internet Social Media

How to start a career in social media

Social media has turned into a multi-billion dollar industry and opportunities to build a career around it are becoming increasingly common.

If you’re looking to start a career in the competitive world of social media and digital marketing, setting up a blog is a great place to start.

A blog not only allows you to express your personality and offer your opinions, but also gives future employers an insight into your knowledge, skills and experience. Pick a subject that you are passionate about and blog regularly to attract readers and establish your credibility. Aim to be a unique voice in the ‘blogosphere’.

There are a variety of free online services available that can help you with the technology side of setting up a blog. Then it’s a case of attracting followers by creating interesting content, updating it regularly and promoting it through other social networks such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

Twitter's LogoPursuing a career in social media however is not just about knowing how to send a tweet, post a blog or set up a Facebook page. At the end of the day all businesses are looking at the impact social media has on their customer relations, business strategy, marketing and product positioning.

Demonstrate that you are serious by enrolling in a diploma in digital marketing and social media such as the one offered by the University of Middlesex. The postgraduate course combines theory and marketing practices to teach students how social media is contributing to entrepreneurship and innovation in modern businesses. Students attend guest lectures by professionals from some of the major organisations in web and social media including Google, Twitter and Groupon.

To have a competitive edge in social media, keep up to date with the latest developments. Understand the importance of monitoring, evaluation and analytics. You need to be familiar with the main social media sites but also the less popular ones as well which may have the advantage of providing a more targeted audience for the services or products you are promoting. You need to be able to spot trends and differentiate between up and coming sites and ones that won’t last the distance.

More than likely when you enter a career in social media you will be expected to be a good all-rounder and take responsibility for all areas of digital marketing. Job roles include social media officer, digital marketing manager or even director of social media. However larger organisations may allow you to specialise, so you could find yourself with a job title such as blog editor, analytics manager, designer, social media developer or content manager.