Author Archives: Gill Hutchinson

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Insurance prices rises 2016 - 2021

How to avoid paying rocketing insurance premiums

How to avoid paying rocketing insurance premiums

What’s happening to insurance premiums?

It’s been an odd few years, to say the least. With politics, adverse weather and of course the Covid pandemic, very little seems stable at the moment.Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Insurance prices rises 2016 - 2021

 

 

 

To add to all of the other stressors in our lives and businesses, prices of many fundamental goods and services have been going up. Insurance is no exception. In fact in the last quarter alone, overall insurance premiums have increased on average by 35% in the UK and 18% globally.

This increase varies across different classes of insurance. Liability covers saw a 7% increase last quarter. Property went up 18% and financial lines (professional indemnity and directors and officers liability) rose by an average of 71%.

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Professional indemnity price increases 2016 - 2021

 

 

 

 

Why are premiums rising?

The last four years have seen a perfect storm of legislative changes and national events that have severely affected the insurance market:

  • Ogden rate changes which came into affect in 2019 have significantly increased compensation pay-outs on liability claims
  • The Solvency II Directive has forced insurance companies to change the way they operate and has pushed underwriting costs up
  • The significant flooding in January/February 2020 has pushed up property premiums
  • The Covid-19 pandemic has lead to an additional £1.2 billion in business interruption claims, increasing cyber crime and fraudulent and exaggerated personal injury claims.
  • Investment income loss caused by the combined effect of Covid19 and the challenges around Brexit. This means that insurance pools are expected to be more profitable than in the past.

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Ogden

 

 

 

 

 

What can you do to reduce your premiums?

Despite the challenges, some businesses are seeing increases below the average or are even saving money! The following is what we are advising our clients:

  • Start your renewal process early – the more time you give to your broker, the more likely they are to get you favourable terms. One of the other effects of the pandemic is insurer service levels are down meaning that quotes are taking several times longer to obtain than they did two years ago.
  • Volunteer lots of information – there seems to be a myth that you should only give insurers the minimum information that they request, but the opposite has always been true. The better an insurance underwriter understands your business and the risks it faces, the more comfortable they become and therefore the more open they will be to provide lower premiums and better terms. If an underwriter feels that they don’t understand what they are insuring, or feel you are holding information back, they will refuse to quote (limiting your options) or they will quote a higher premium.
  • Turn the negatives into positives – it may be that you have had past financial challenges like past business insolvencies, personal bankruptcies or CCJs, or you may have has past claims. Given the current environment that is becoming more likely. Rather than just giving the basic information about these events, explain the causes, any mistakes that were made and what you are doing differently now. A business that has faced challenges but come out stronger is a better prospect to an underwriter than one that might repeat the past.
  • Ask your broker how you can reduce risks – insurance underwriters like businesses that take risk seriously. It might be as simple as changing your health and safety or security practices, or adopting new contracts, but any examples you can provide that you are reducing risk could lead to cheaper premiums.
  • Use a Broker – there are over 250 underwriters offering insurance to business and only a small handful are available online. A good broker will know which insurers to approach to get you the right deal for your business and circumstances.

More about our guest blogger, Alastair Taylor

Alastair is a director at Wootton Taylor, an independent insurance broker providing advice and support in arranging a broad range of insurances for businesses and private individuals.

His approach is to make arranging insurance as simple as possible by cutting out the jargon. Wootton Taylors’  open, friendly and efficient service gives you the peace of mind to focus on what is important to you.

Alastair Taylor, director at Wootton Taylor Insurance brokers

To find out more visit the Wootton Taylor website or call 01905 349 430.

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Gill and Chris Hutchinson, directors at Aardvark Marketing

Aardvark Marketing win UK Trusted Marketing Advisors award

Aardvark Marketing win UK Trusted Marketing Advisors award

Aardvark Marketing are pleased to announce that they have been recognised for the sixth year running with a Technology Innovator Award as UK Trusted Marketing Advisers. These awards recognise companies that are helping – in whatever way they can – to deliver change through innovation, expertise and creativity.

Katherine Benton took a moment to discuss the success of those recognised in this year’s programme: “Now in its seventh year, the Technology Innovator Awards have only grown to encompass a plethora of businesses to showcase their individual achievements and successes in the technology sphere. Innovation is the true driver of the technological landscape. It’s through the efforts of companies both large and small that the business world can continue to grow, exceed expectations and, ultimately, evolve. It’s also true that the technology sector is a behemoth that never stops moving. If a company wants to excel, they need to be dynamic and adaptive, with one eye always cast to the future. Once again, I’d like to congratulate Aardvark Marketing on their success.”

Established to help companies get quantifiable results from carefully constructed marketing plans, as supposed to fluffy unaccountable marketing activities, Aardvark was founded by Chris Hutchinson in 2005. Having enjoyed success with some of the largest brand names in the country PepsiCo, Sharwoods and Bulmers, Chris wanted to turn his skills into a complete package to help other companies towards success. His wife Gill soon joined him, with her talents honed by Black & Decker and LRC (Marigold and Durex) and third sector organisations including the Red Cross and St Michael’s Hospice.

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Gill and Chris Hutchinson, directors at Aardvark Marketing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chris and Gill enjoy becoming immersed in the commercial activities of their clients, however unusual, which range from IT and high tech manufacturing through to the creative arts. They believe that marketing programs should be designed to suit the needs of the individual company circumstances, so they never take a ‘one size fits all’ solution approach. They take the time to really understand the industry specific challenges and consequently ensure that the companies they work with have the tailored support that they need. This enables a high level of trust to be established between client and the Aardvark Marketing team.

Val Gardner, MD at Winster Hoses says “I started working with Aardvark in 2019. Chris and Gill have made sense of what I wanted to achieve and moved me forward with a sensible marketing strategy that works for me and my budget. A mix of traditional marketing techniques and digital has generated much needed awareness with existing and new customer interest leading to more profit. Their determination to make sure results are delivered on time and as expected is a breath of fresh air and takes away the worry. Although on paper a “third party supplier” Chris and Gill are firmly part of the Winster team and I cannot recommend their services enough and look forward to what else can be achieved.

For more information about Aardvark Marketing contact Gill on 01905 885 285 or email gill@aardvarkmarketing.co.uk

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Trusted Marketing Advisors Technology Innovators award 2021

 

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Pricing strategy

You paid how much for that makeover?

You paid how much for that makeover?

How much does a roll of wallpaper cost? No, it’s not a trick question. With so much debate in the media about the cost of redecorating a certain flat in London, I found my thoughts wandering to the subject of pricing strategy again.

Here at Aardvark, we talk about pricing to almost every client we have ever worked with and very often we’re trying to persuade them to increase prices. Or at least consider the possibility of changing their pricing structure.  However, I think a great many marketing professionals don’t get involved in pricing and this strikes me as very strange.

Price is one of the four “P”s, and in my view just as important as the other three.  I know there are many more “P”s now, not to mention collections of other terms beginning with other letters (we even talk about the two “C”s in success), but 35 years’ experience has shown me that the original four “P”s remain a great foundation for successful marketing.

If pricing isn’t right, it will dilute the impact of all the rest of your other marketing activity. It could even completely undermine it.  Too high and you’ll lose potential sales (now or in the future) and allow competitors to steal your customers.  Too low and you will most obviously leave money behind that you could have taken, but can also turn off customers or attract the wrong kind of customers in the first place. As a business owner, would you rather be a busy fool, sending our numerous quotes or proposals that don’t actually lead to good business or send a smaller number to better targeted prospects and convert a higher percentage of these? We worked with a local builder who achieved a better work life balance through this approach. Better targeted marketing and new messages enabled him to stop working every weekday evening. He no longer needed to go out on a site visit, measure up and then produce a detailed quote to homeowners who only wanted the cheapest option. He was able to switch his attention to fewer, ‘on-profile’ customers who appreciated the high quality of their work.

So how is pricing set in your business.  Is it a “cost plus” approach with a target profit margin?  Is it based on competitor analysis, aiming to maintain an agreed relativity to what the competition offer customers?  Or is it based on the perceived value of your products or services?

The value-based option is almost always preferable. It will encompass competitor-based pricing and if it means your margins are thin or even non-existent, then the business needs to re-examine its cost base.  And of course, the people in the business who know most about customer perceptions of value are the marketing team.  It’s our job to understand and represent the customer within the business, and that includes knowing what people are prepared to pay for our products and services.

Are we out there, talking to customers about value and how we compare to alternatives?  By “alternatives” I don’t just mean products and services like ours, but all the things customers could do instead of buying from us.

Or are we checking our competitors’ prices on the internet, and letting sales tell us the reason (excuse) they can’t hit targets is that the competition are so much cheaper than us?  Are we giving away price because margins are good so we can “afford” to discount?

Have you implemented a price increase recently?

And a final thought; if your suppliers are putting up prices more often that you are, something is probably going wrong!  If you’d like to understand how pricing strategy can improve both your business and your quality of life, why not email or pick up the phone to Gill or Chris at Aardvark?

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Guest blog Job seekers often receiving poor adviceudy, new dust cannon

Job seekers often receive poor advice

Job seekers often receive poor advice

Stuart Blake, an experienced career coach in the West Midlands believes many job seekers are not receiving good quality advice. This is especially true when it comes to preparing their CV’s. In the current UK economic climate, there are hundreds of people chasing each advertised role. The key difference between a successful job search and failure lies in helping people to really stand out in this crowded market. Because so many people are job searching right now, we would like to share his advice about CV preparation as our guest blogger.

Stuart Blake at Coach 1st has had years of experience working in recruitment and is now a qualified and trained career, executive and transformation coach. “The stark reality is that 95% of CV’s are binned in under 5 seconds, without being read to the end. It’s sad for those individuals but any CV that has errors, inaccuracies or does not flag to a potential employer the value they can bring to that organisation, is simply a waste of time and effort”.

Thousands of graduates or school leavers looking for their first, critical post on the career ladder are being simply being advised by careers departments up and down the country to ‘Google a CV template’ and fill it in. These students are being failed by the education system because these templates produce poor quality CV’s that do not sufficiently differentiate job seekers as individuals. Employers see hundreds of these ‘standard’ CV’s that tell them very little about each candidate. These are the CV’s that are destined to be filed in some CRM system rather than being read with interest by a recruiter or potential employer. To get an individual placed on the shortlist for interview the CV has to be in the top 5%. For the individual student concerned this is especially demotivating as application after application gets rejected, often without them understanding why that is happening.

Even people with many years of work experience have the same problem, especially when they decide to have a career change. These mature job seekers need to focus more on the transferable skills learned in one environment that will be valuable to an employer in a different sector. A CV with lengthy personal profiles and very little detail that will grab the attention of a future employer will also fail the 5 second attention span test.

So, how do you get your CV into the top 5% that are actually read from start to finish?  Stuart advises “try to put yourself in an employers’ shoes. What can you say about your successes and achievements in your life or work experience to date? Ask yourself, are these achievements verifiable and would they be really useful to a future employer? Above all, to be successful you must describe what makes you different from the hundreds of others who attended the same or similar school or university”.

If you need help in your job search and would welcome some professional advice call Coach1st on 03301 333 910 or email stuartb@coach1st.co.uk.

More about our guest blogger, Stuart Blake 

Stuart  is a member of the ICF and EMCC and has certificates in Career Coaching, Life Coaching and Executive Coaching.

He is an empathetic, motivational individual who supports businesses and individuals to be the best they can be in every way. In over 30 years in the business, Stuart has advised over 52,000 job seekers and written over 17,000 CV’s.

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Guest blog Job seekers often receiving poor adviceudy, new dust cannon

 

 

 

 

 

Since 1986, Stuart has spent his career in the recruitment/employment sector, working both in the UK and Europe for some of leading staffing companies. As a Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer he has led businesses successfully in the Private and Public sectors having created significant ROI along the way.

As well as coaching individuals, Stuart runs webinars  that help people improve their job search results and land their ideal job. To find out more visit coach1st.co.uk   or book  his next  Take Control of your Job Search webinars here.

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | BetaDen Cohort 3 showcase invitation

Invitation to Betaden showcase on 18th March

Invitation to Betaden showcase on 18th March

 

 

 

 

 

The eight entrepreneurs in  Cohort 3 finish their nine-month accelerator programme for early stage technology businesses. You’re invited to share their success at this virtual event on Thursday, 18th March. The founders are pitching  for a variety of support, including future investment,  industry customers and development opportunities. The live stream will showcase innovation in action through seven minute pitch decks followed by a live and interactive Q&A at the end of the presentations. You are cordially invited to take part, simply click on the link below to reserve your place.

Book your place here

The businesses taking part are offering exciting new solutions in the following specialisms: Blockchain, PropTech, Drone Technology, App Technologies, Health Tech, Fintech and Software debugging solutions.

Each business has has an exciting 9 months at BetaDen, developing their  products and services and making the most of new commercial opportunities. Their enormous progress is testament to all their hard work and commitment during a time of unprecedented business disruption.

BetaDen is based at Malvern Hills Science Park, Successful participants on the next cohort start in March and will enjoy a programme of support worth around £50,000 including 30 hours of access to Worcestershire’s 5G test bed.

Gill Hutchinson of Aardvark Marketing is the specialist Technology Marketing Mentor on the BetaDen program.

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | BetaDen cohort 3 showcase

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Ready for the economic bounce back?

Ready for the economic bounce back?

Ready for the economic bounce back?

The UK economy is set to bounce back into growth, with an average of independent forecasts for the UK Government at 4.3% for 2021 and 5.8% for 2022.1 Whether we experience a fast or medium paced recovery, the message is clear, business activity is now set to recovery and growth in the next 2 years.

For many SME’s, this means they could be working at or near capacity in the near future, as areas of the economy that have been under COVID restrictions are allowed to open and the predicted consumer spending boom begins as people who have accumulated savings in liquid bank deposits during lockdown spend once more.2

During the ups and downs of the last year, the majority of Aardvark Marketing clients have continued their marketing even when times were tough. These businesses have either grown or are ready and waiting to take advantage of the easing of restrictions. If your business stopped marketing activity or reduced it drastically to survive the pandemic, now is the time to put plans in place or risk getting left behind your nimbler, better prepared competitors.

If you are planning to expand rapidly in the spring or summer this year, now is the best time to get activity plans in place. Aardvark Marketing can help with planning and implementing great marketing activity to get your business into a stronger competitive position in 2021. Whether you need someone you can trust to help you design the strategy and plan activities or you’d like us to do all your marketing activity as your outsourced marketing department, now is a good time to take the first step. Pick up the phone and talk to Gill or Chris on 01905 885 285 or email info@aardvarkmarketing to arrange a convenient time for a meeting.

Gill and Chris Hutchinson at Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Ready for the economic bounce back?

 

 

 

 

 

  1. HM Treasury Forecast for the UK Economy: a comparison of independent forecasts. ISBN: 978-1-911680-44-4 https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/
  2. Bank of England Monetary Policy Report February 2021
Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Merry Christmas from the Aardvarks

Merry Christmas from the Aardvarks

Merry Christmas from the Aardvarks

Phew – what a year!

In extraordinary times we have been very grateful for the continued support from our clients, suppliers, referrers and wider business network – thank you everyone! On a personal note, I’ve loved helping people unfamiliar with online meetings to get connected and virtual meetings with colleagues, friends and neighbours have been a great way to connect and support each other through this tough year.

New clients this year have included those in Worcestershire’s IT and Tech accelerator, Betaden. We’ve been privileged once again to be recognised as UK’s Best Outsourced Marketing  Company winning a Technology Innovator award for the fifth consecutive year.

We’ve continued to support our chosen charity, the Worcester Foodbank, and I know many of you enjoyed the Business Community Carols from All Saints which supported this essential local service.

Next year will continue to bring fresh challenges for businesses of all shapes and sizes, so please get in touch for a free initial consultation if you are contemplating changing course and would appreciate our advice.

Wishing you all a safe and happy Christmas and a successful New Year 2021,

Gill and Chris Hutchinson
Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Merry Christmas from the Aardvarks

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Invitation from Rev Rich Johnson to the Business Community carols 2020

Your invitation to the Business Community Carols 2020

Your invitation to the Business Community Carols 2020

Last year over 150 of the local business community came together to enjoy great hospitality and carols at All Saints Church in the heart of Worcester.

This year, we’d like to bring people together again, just in a different format! We’ll be live streaming from All Saints on YouTube at 6pm on Tuesday, 15th December. So we warmly invite you to join us this year from the comfort of your own home or office, crack open some mulled wine or prosecco and sing along to traditional carols (the words will be on the screen!). There will be some light hearted fun with sketches provided by local businesses, a Christmas auction and the winner of the Christmas Quiz will be announced. Here’s a taster from Rev Rich Johnson:

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Invitation from Rev Rich Johnson to the Business Community carols 2020

 

 

 

 

We’ll need to provide you with a specific YouTube link a few days before the 15th so if you’d like to join us email mark.smith5@lloydsbanking.com and we’ll make sure your place is booked!

You’ll be able to download the order of service from the All Saints website soon.

Mindful of the growing needs of those less fortunate in our community at a really important time of year, any donations from this event will be supporting the  Worcester Foodbank.

We’d like to spread a message of hope and happiness at this festive time of year, so please feel welcome to share this message within your organisation and with your wider business connections.

 

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Steatite joins BetaDen as industry partner

Steatite joins BetaDen as an industry expertise partner

Steatite joins BetaDen as an industry expertise partner

Steatite is delighted to announce that it is to work with Worcestershire’s commercial technology accelerator, BetaDen as an industry expertise partner for its fourth cohort of business.

BetaDen is based at Malvern Hills Science Park, midway between Steatite’s computing and communications facilities. Cohort 4 is a nine-month accelerator programme for early stage technology businesses. Successful participants will have access to a programme of support worth around £50,000 including 30 hours of access to Worcestershire’s 5G test bed. The application process is now open and the programme will begin in March 2021.

As a global provider of cutting-edge bespoke technology within the computing, communications and power sectors, Steatite has invaluable expertise and will be providing mentoring support to the cohort 4 members for the duration of the programme. The company is particularly looking forward to helping drive forward emerging technology with a particular focus on edge AI systems, remote monitoring and sensing, image processing, robotic automation, and self-organising sensor networks.

Matthew Richards, Managing Director of Steatite comments: “BetaDen has supported 22 early stage technology businesses to date, helping to develop successful routes to market, creating new jobs, and securing hundreds of thousands of pounds of investment. As BetaDen enters its 3rd year, we are proud to be offering our support and experience as an industry expertise partner for the upcoming cohort 4 programme. The objectives of BetaDen, Steatite, and no doubt the successful cohort 4 participants are aligned. New tech ideas today are tomorrow’s SMEs.”

Linda Smith, founder and CEO of BetaDen, said: “In Steatite, we’re delighted to welcome an industry partner who can offer cohort members the benefit of their unrivalled experience and connections in the field of high-value add manufacturing, in particular computing, secure communication systems and antennas. With our focus on 5G, Industry 4.0, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things and Robotics for applications across a range of industrial supply chain markets for Cohort 4, Steatite’s expertise will be invaluable to Cohort members looking to develop their technologies in these areas.”

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Betaden Cohort 4 applications now open!

Companies interested in applying for BetaDen cohort 4 can visit www.beta-den.co/apply-now/ and most submit their application by Friday 18 December. Short-listed applicants will be invited to interview in early 2021, with successful applicants joining BetaDen in March 2021.

Gill Hutchinson of Aardvark Marketing is the Technology Marketing mentor at Betaden

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Betaden Cohort 4 applications now open!

Applications for BetaDen Cohort 4 are now open

Applications for BetaDen Cohort 4 are now open

BetaDen – Worcestershire’s commercial technology accelerator based at Malvern Hills Science Park – has opened applications for its fourth cohort of businesses.

Early-stage technology businesses joining the nine-month accelerator in March 2021 will have access to a refreshed programme of support worth around £50,000, including 30 hours access to Worcestershire’s 5G test bed and guidance from industry partner Steatite, part of Solid State Plc. Cohort 4 members will also benefit from a £10,000 proof of concept grant, mentoring from BetaDen’s handpicked team of commercial and technology experts and office space in Malvern Hills Science Park site.

Linda Smith, founder and CEO of BetaDen, said: “BetaDen recently celebrated its second birthday and, to date, has supported 22 early stage technology businesses, helping them develop successful routes to market, secure hundreds of thousands of pounds of investment and create news jobs in that time. “Building on that experience, we have honed the programme for Cohort 4, focusing even more on our unique access to Worcestershire’s 5G test bed and making ever greater use of our industry networks. In Steatite, we’re delighted to welcome an industry partner who can offer cohort members the benefit of their unrivalled experience and connections in the field of high-value add manufacturing, in particular computing, secure communication systems and antennas. Its expertise will be invaluable to Cohort members looking to develop their technologies in these areas.”

BetaDen is unique in the technology sector, both in terms of the value of the support package it provides and the fact that cohort businesses do not need to surrender equity in their businesses to access this accelerator. As well as providing support to early-stage businesses, it also creates opportunities for established businesses to develop technology-based ideas within the accelerator, effectively supporting in-house R&D activity.

Linda continued: “As we open applications for cohort 4, we are focusing our attention on companies developing new and emerging technologies in key areas: 5G, Industry 4.0, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things and Robotics for emerging applications across a wide range of industrial supply chain market places.”

 

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Betaden Cohort 4 applications now open!

 

 

 

 

Companies interested in applying can visit www.beta-den.com for further information and must submit their application by Friday 18 December. Short-listed applicants will be invited to interview with our advisory board in early 2021, with successful applicants joining Cohort 4 in March 2021.”

Gill Hutchinson of Aardvark Marketing is the Technology Marketing mentor at Betaden