On 8 June, the ARU London Enterprise Club held its first in-person themed networking event at the Import Building, East India. A decision had been taken to combine the established and aspiring entrepreneurs to create a group with varying levels of experience and expertise in business – an ideal group for networking and exchanging knowledge.
Charles O’Dean opened the event and introduced the programme for the evening: a panel of Marketing experts: Alina Dumitru, Andy Johnson and Muhammad Malik, followed by networking and food with the opportunity for some of the entrepreneurs to give out samples of their products.
Head of the Business School, Andy Johnson, kicked off the panel discussion by giving some background on his experience with marketing, mainly as a published author but also when he ran a consultancy – two very different target audiences. This became a key message in his presentation, he explained the importance of target audience analysis – once you know your customer you know how to communicate with them. For example, when he published his first book, Andy found his target audience by placing a paid advertisement in a magazine that he knew his customer profile would read, after the one advert he had self-sustaining PR and marketing as people would review and recommend his book. Andy warned people not to spend money before it has been earnt, and to resist the temptation of all the companies trying to sell you things, by doing your own marketing you connect more with your audience and your product. Andy’s top tips were:
- Use social media wisely – it's a double-edged sword so approach with caution and remember to separate business and personal
- Measure the effect of your marketing, if it is not right, rethink it and try another method
- Analyse and observe trends to ensure you are using the correct and most up-to-date medium to connect with your target audience
Next, Alumni Skincare Entrepreneur Alina Dumitru spoke about her experience with a focus on Digital Marketing. Over the last 15 years Alina has run a variety of businesses ranging from a Media and PR agency, Psychotherapy practice, CBD Oil retailer and now finally Korean Skincare. Alina started her business from a pain point, personal to her but she realised also to other people; she has a client avatar so knows the exact detail of her target customer. She talked about SEO, pay per click advertising and about ‘the rule of 7’ - people need to see your product an average of 7 times before making a purchase. She went on to explain about the benefits of email marketing and how once you have an email address you have a regular audience, rather than relying on people to notice your advertising in an over-saturated marketplace. But how do you gather the emails in the first place? By offering samples and discounts in exchange for details after that you keep in touch regularly and the rule of 7 can work its magic! Alina also talked about influencer and affiliate marketing; people need to be wary of scammers - before you commit you must analyse the statistics and engagement figures. Alina recommended finding your own voice and being your own influencer, echoing what Andy had said regarding connection with your brand. If you lack the marketing expertise, why not consider partnering with someone who has those skills? This is much more cost effective than paying an agency. Her top tip was find your 4 Ms – Message, Media, Market, Model: Use existing platforms like Etsy and Amazon rather than trying to establish your own, and use language your customer will relate and react to. There are many ways to communicate with your ideal customer avatar without spending vast amounts of money. Be mindful that a business that does not make money is just a hobby.
Finally, we heard from Muhammad Malik an entrepreneur who now manages an incubator, so he is constantly surrounded by new business ventures. He looked back on his experience of starting businesses and remembered his mentor's wise words: ‘ideas are ten a penny, but execution is key’. In 2012, he started a business venture selling watches, and engaged with an influencer with 2 million followers. He ran a campaign and to his disappointment this resulted in very low sales. What had he done wrong? He didn’t target his marketing. Muhammad agreed with what Andy and Alina had said before him, know your desired customer, connect with your brand and above all target your marketing. He suggested using ‘digital watering holes’ like Reddit and Quora to reach early adopters, and he also mentioned a huge market GUMmies (global urban Muslim consumers), which encompasses the world’s English speaking young Muslim population of consumers. Muhammad believes that if you want to change the world you should create a start-up. You can solve a problem and create a team around you. By doing this you create a butterfly effect, inspiring others to do the same. He told us that he had been approached by a Muslim matrimonial site and asked if he would be the face of their campaign, before he knew it his face was on billboards up and down the UK, he had gone viral – it was a surreal experience and the attention the campaign received highlighted the power of using the correct media for reaching your desired customer. Muhammad's top tips are: Remember the rule of 7 and present yourself and your brand in every format - don’t be shy. He used the analogy ‘keep jabbing until you get the hook’ - don’t give up, be tenacious. If you really want it you will succeed.
There was a short Q&A, rounds of applause and then the group went to network in the breakout space over food and drinks. The conversations were flowing, and Principal David Sexton was delighted with the enthusiasm of participants. Enterprise Manager, Trudi Hamer, was available to guide those present about how to register for the Start Up Hackathon which is to be held on 10-11 September and Enterprise Club entrepreneurs Lasbrey Ejehu, Valeria Scire and Carla Capuano who run Valitaly were giving out samples of their Italian chocolate and coffee as well as Bailah Koroma who was showcasing his Ginger Burst juice. The atmosphere was electric!
Charles O’Dean wrapped up the formal part of the event by thanking everyone for their contributions, celebrating the part that every attendee had played in making the networking event so successful. He reminded people to contact Trudi Hamer on email@example.com if they want to be part of the Hackathon with its exciting and ambitious objective of launching 100 businesses in 48 hours and to save the date on 5 October for the next ARU London Enterprise themed networking event, which will include an expert panel on Finance and Funding Streams for start-ups. Then it was back to informal networking and the fact that people stayed on until nearly 9pm is evidence that they enjoyed it. If you would like to be involved with ARU London’s Enterprise programme of events please email firstname.lastname@example.org