Help to Grow: Management Course | Kingston University

Attracting customers to your business

This article will look at creating customer personas, to help you understand and define your marketing communications strategy and delivery and ultimately attract your target customers to your business.

Marketing your business is often seen as a minefield of overcrowded, ineffective and costly (of both your time and money) activity.  You need to be a researcher, behaviourist, creative, innovator, linguist and data analyst to name but a few…but without marketing your business, you can’t attract new customers.  Here I try and break this into a simple and achievable starting point from a practitioner perspective.

So, here’s a few ideas to get you started:

Know your customer or customers

In a previous blog I wrote about storytelling, well this is the part where you get to create your characters – your target customer or customers.  What are they called?  What do they enjoy doing?  What challenges do they face?  How and where do they spend their time?  What do they relate to?

Harry, 15, enjoys skateboarding with his group of friends from school.  He’s constantly on snapchat and posts short videos of himself and his mates doing tricks on TikTok.  He’s very conscious of his self image and will choose brands that his mates wear and his favourite artist from Wireless.

Michelle, 43, works full time at a local business.  She enjoys walks in the park and coffee and cake with a close knit group of friends.  She’s on Facebook, but rarely posts unless it’s a special occasion. She shops online with Ocado, but does enjoy the makers markets at the local town centre.   She likes the feeling of community and a personal touch.

You can get creative and find pictures that illustrate your customer personas and key words.

How you would market to Harry would be very different to Michelle.  They have different interests, different places they go to, different social media platforms and would have a different tone of voice to appeal to them.  How they make decisions on purchases is different.

Don’t have too many persona’s, one or two is great unless you have a diverse business portfolio, keep it clear and simple so that your marketing can be segmented and targeted.

Research is key

How would you know this about your customer persona?  By undertaking market research! Ask people who meet your customer type what they like about your business, what problems it solves, where they would go to find you, why they would buy from you. Look at similar profiles online – who do they follow, what do they post about, what language to they use, how do they interact with people and businesses.

Always have your eyes and ears open (and a notebook to hand!) as there is so much information out there to gather and sometimes all it takes is a quick drop of information that aligns to your values and those of your target customer.

Design your campaign

How will your business offering appeal to your target customer or customers?  What language would make them feel connected to your product or service and so make a decision?  How would your offering solve an issue or problem for them or benefit their sense of belonging, wellbeing, and value? Which channels (email, social media, print, radio, outdoor) are relevant to your customer? What visuals will resonate?  What Harry would click on is going to be different to what Michelle would choose.

You should have this from your research, so now you need to apply it to your communications.

Feedback, Measure and Learn

I personally use Canva to mock up ideas, designs and storyboards and then come back and re-work with a fresh pair of eyes, get feedback (from people who match my customer persona) and re-work again.

Trial it, measure response and conversions and yes, learn and re-work again.

From a branding perspective, once you have a chosen brand theme, colour, font etc it’s important to keep it consistent throughout everything (website, social media, any print ads.)  Absolutely change your strapline or message to keep it relevant.  I personally think aligning to events that are current, in the public eye (think Bake-off, Wimbledon, World Cup final) and that are aligned to your customer persona helps keep a campaign fresh, relevant, and alive.

Mentoring the why, how and what

This article is a bit different, we have interviewed two of our business mentors from our Kingston team, Glenn Bowering Director of People Inside and Paul Shaw Co-Founder of Restaurant Developments  to find out more on business mentoring, why you might benefit from one, what it is and how it can benefit small businesses.

Q: Why would someone want a mentor?

Paul:  Having a mentor can be a valuable and rewarding experience for a small business owner. Running your own business can be a solitary and stressful affair sometimes and its quite normal to feel that no one really knows what you’re going through. We all need advice and guidance from time to time and a business mentor can provide it.

A good mentor will never seek to judge, instruct or influence, only to support, guide and suggest. They can help you connect to people and resources you wouldn’t otherwise have access to and will provide a different perspective on business problems and challenges. Crucially, a good business mentor will always keep you accountable for your decisions and actions and will help you to maintain discipline and momentum as you develop your business.

Glenn: Running a business can be hard work and isolating. Often business owners reach a level where they are extremely busy but the results they care about seem to plateau and it’s not clear why.

A mentor is someone who shares their knowledge, skills or experience in order to help someone else develop. The motivation for working with a mentor is usually because someone is approaching the limit of how their own knowledge, skills and experience can be used to progress.

Working with a mentor can help a business owner stand back, re-evaluate, gain new perspectives, and often benefit from the experiences of another.

Q: How would you go about choosing a mentor?  

Paul: Firstly, be clear about your goals. What are you looking to achieve through mentoring and what kind of mentor is most likely to help you reach your objectives? Look for someone with experience that is relevant to you. They might not be in your direct line of business, but they will probably be in a related line. You may want a mentor who has have expertise in an area where you‘re not so strong yourself – marketing or finance, for example. Most importantly, you need to get on. Look for someone you feel you can really connect with; someone who listens; someone who grasps the challenges you’re facing; someone who won’t patronise you, but will communicate with you in an open and honest manner.

Glenn: When looking for a mentor, rapport and chemistry are key – you want someone you feel comfortable opening up to and connecting with. At the same time, don’t be afraid to choose a mentor who will challenge you and push you outside your comfort zone. If you feel a little discomfort, that’s probably a good thing.

While industry-specific expertise can be helpful, a strong business mentor provides broader guidance on leadership, strategy and professional development. This is a developmental relationship, not a consulting or coaching engagement, so make sure you’re clear on boundaries.

I’d suggest having an introductory meeting to make sure it’s a good match before formalising the relationship. Be upfront about what you hope to achieve through mentoring and what you need in terms of availability, style and experience.

Q: What are common misconceptions about mentoring?

Paul: Mentors are not coaches: they won’t tell you what to do but they will help you to draw your own conclusions and reach decisions that are right for you and your business.

Mentoring is not a silver bullet: you have to want to commit to the process and you have to be prepared to trust your mentor. Most of all, you have to be completely open and honest. Without transparency and honesty, the process will fail.  Mentors will not solve all your problems: you will solve your own problems – with the help of a mentor.

Mentoring is not a one-way street: a good mentor will learn as much from you as you will learn from them. The best mentoring relationships are true and equal partnerships.

Glenn: It may not be just about business. Many founders are the bottleneck to growth so you may need to work with your mentor in areas like your leadership style or your reluctance to let go of the reigns or even developing comfort with allowing your staff to make mistakes. You should be prepared to look inwards.

Mentoring is often confused with consulting. Many feel it’s important to look for someone from their industry so they can ‘pick their brains’. However, while a mentor may share knowledge and expertise in a general sense, it’s not the mentor’s place to provide you with answers.

Final Q: What outcomes would you expect from your mentoring experience? 

Paul: Deeper insight into your business. A fresh perspective that will give you ideas and inspiration. Greater accountability and, therefore, productivity. Access to opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise arise. Access to a wider network of possible partners, clients and supporters.

A strong and long-lasting relationship with someone who really understands you and your business.

Fewer feelings of isolation, anxiety and overwhelm. A stronger, more productive and more robust business.

 Glenn: Working with a mentor will often involve an objective assessment of your business, so you can expect to feel good about all the great work you’ve done as well as identify some areas for improvement.

You should get a sense of moving forward in some way; e.g. with your leadership, the direction and/or strategy for the business, a renewed clarity and focus or some other aspect of business that is important to your personal and business growth.

Your self-care as an entrepreneur

You know that as an entrepreneur, by the nature of your work, you experience unique stressors that distinguish yourself from your employees. Your multifaceted roles extends from marketing and sales to product development, finance and cash flow to employee management while at the same time, you are hooked for sustaining your business for you and your employees.

Years and years of research show that you are often stewards of your employees and have a strong sense of responsibility towards your team. This can lead to burnout without the necessary self-care.

So, how can you take care of yourself and at the same time sustain your business?  Here are some suggestions for you from my research and experience.

What are the best ways entrepreneurs can take care of themselves and manage stress? 

Our research shows that psychological detachment is the core recovery experience. What is it? Well, it is ‘switching off’ during non-work time. It is our experience of being mentally away from work, to make a pause in thinking about work-related issues. In effect, it is refraining from job-related activities and thoughts during nonwork time, to mentally disengage from our jobs while being away from work.

Why? How does detachment from work affect stress levels? 

Job stressors, particularly workload, predict low levels of psychological detachment and a lack of detachment in turn predicts high strain levels and poor individual well-being such as burnout and lower life satisfaction. ‘Switching off’ reduces the effect of job stressors on the one hand and strain and poor well-being on the other hand.

What we also find in our research is that detachment from work is positively correlated with self-reported mental and physical health, well-being, and task performance.

Sounds great, but how can I detach from work? 

Whilst detachment from work, during non-work time seems to be at the core of managing stress, research suggests that entrepreneurs have difficulty detaching from work because of their sense of responsibility and that they prioritise work over life and have little desire for boundaries between the two. This is in addition to their often very high workload.

What to do then? Try creating plans to resolve incomplete work goals, this seems to be one of the best-worked strategies that help entrepreneurs detach from work.

The next thing that works well is work-related self-efficacy and enthusiasm that leads to engagement in recovery activity, which in turn mobilises further positive beliefs and affects gained during the recovery time.  Creating a virtuous circle effect.

Finally, boundary creation around information and communication seems to work its magic and help entrepreneurs detach, which in turn helps the recovery. It’s no surprise that work-related extended availability will negatively affect your detachment and recovery.

The simple message, spend more time on activities that help you switch off from work related thoughts.

Once upon a time…

Story telling has been a part of human existence since we first started communicating, it’s something that is second nature to us, that conveys meaning, learning and importantly that we can repeat.  That creates understanding, community and belonging. Either word of mouth, written, radio or visually – it evokes emotional connection when done right.

Story telling in marketing is a great way to connect with your customer.  It creates an emotional response, that is far more memorable than a set of facts or features.   It should draw out understanding of who your customer is, what they believe and what they need.  Then how your business understands their challenges and needs and can provide a solution or benefit them.  It can feed into your brand, your campaigns, your sales pitch and customer service – providing a consistent and authentic experience.

Developing a story.

At the heart of developing your story, you need a good understanding of your customer.  Who is your customer? What are their wants and needs?  What language do they use? What’s important to them? What is an instant turn off?

You also need to understand the benefits to the customer of your business – beyond the nuts and bolts – how will your customer benefit from your product or service?  What makes you unique in your customers eyes? Will your drivers for going into business connect with your customer?  Will your customers connect and care about you/the people behind your business?

As with many aspects of business can you use story telling to make something complex, simple to understand and remember?

Importantly, your story is unique to you.

So tell your story, bring it to life, create your community…and here’s to living happily ever after.

A brief beginner’s guide to Intellectual Property

This article is intended to give you a brief overview of the different areas of registered intellectual property (IP) within the UK. We highly recommend speaking to an IP solicitor regarding specific questions around intellectual property for your business. This article is not legal advice. This article may not be relevant to those seeking to protect their business outside of the UK as it does not cover IP protection outside of it.

What is intellectual property?

Intellectual Property refers to the innovations and creations made by your business- it is the legal framework that allows you to both protect the things you create and to use them in ways that can commercially benefit you and your business. However, it does not refer to ideas behind what you do- if you bake chocolate cakes, you cannot protect the idea of cake baking, but you can protect some of the knowledge of how the cake is made, your packaging, store logos etc.

There are also exceptions to IP protections which include business models, scientific theory, mathematic formulae, things that occur naturally (e.g. plant types), or things that already exist in the public domain.

There are six main types of intellectual property, 3 that are registered and 3 that are not (trade secrets, know how and copyright.) This blog will look at registered.

Registered IP


Trademarks are logos or words that you use for people to identify your brand. A business can legally can own multiple trademarks and can decide to sell or license them- as the value of a business’ brand increases as does that of their trademark. Trademarks must be renewed every ten years.

All registered trademarks can use ® to indicate that their logo is legally protected. Some brands who have not registered their trademarks may use ™ instead to indicate something as their trademark, although this does not afford the same legal protections this does not mean an unregistered trademark cannot be defended in the UK, but it can be more challenging.

To register a trademark in the UK, you must first check that a similar trademark is not registered already in the classification for goods or services your business wishes to use it in. You can do this via the IPO’s online search.

Registered designs

Registered design protects the aesthetics and overall look of a product and can cover everything from fashion designs to industrial design to graphics to aspects of urban planning.

Registered design covers the looks of a product including shape, decoration and how it is configured. It protects the design from being copied, although it is also worth noting that some protection is also available automatically in the UK under Design Right law (like with trademarks you can still protect your designs in some cases without registering although the process could be more complicated). Registered designs last 5 years and can be renewed for up to 25 years.

Like trademarks you can buy or sell registered designs, and licensing a design can be very lucrative.  Like with trademarks, designs need to be registered in different territories in order to be protected, in the UK you must prove your design is innovative and to do this you must do prior art searches before registering – you can do this via databases like Design View.


Patents protection covers how a product or invention works and is made. To qualify as a patent the invention has to be an innovation- it should be a invention that is either better or different than what exists, or cheaper.  It should be new and not already in use, not obvious, and it must not just be hypothetical- you must be able to make and use it.

Patents give you the right to be the sole producer on a product for 20 years and they give you protection from other producing your product within the territory you are protected.

To register a patent you must keep your invention confidential and it is safest to not share the details of it. In cases where you must, it recommended to use non-disclosure agreements (be aware these can still be broken.) If your invention enters the public domain it may result in your patent application being rejected.

You will need to do a prior art search to prove your invention is unique. This includes anything in existence, and examples can come from creative works as well as other patents. You should search within your industry for similar inventions and can also use online patent databases such as which is run by the European Patent Office.

We highly recommend speaking to an IP solicitor regarding specific questions around intellectual property for your business.