Thursday, 25 November 2010

Find new channels to market through collaboration workshop

Post by Iain Acton

Interiors & Lifestyles Futures collaboration expert Ken Thompson devised “serendipitous collaboration” to help companies find new channel to market through a structured networking format. This unique exercise forms part of our Discovery Stage 2 collaboration event. As Ken explains it helps to unlock opportunities that companies were not necessarily looking for.

Serenditous Collaboration - Ken Thompson I&L Futures from IL Futures on Vimeo.

Event details
Collaboration workshop – Discovery Stage 2
Presenter & workshop facilitator – Ken Thompson
Supporting facilitators: Iain Acton, Navin Sood, Paula Wardle and Graham Kennet

Event location
Etc. Venues, Maple House

Workshop content
Why collaborate?
Channels to market “Serendipitous Collaboration”
Collaboration dartboard
Offers and request
Collaboration roadmap

To find out when our next collaboration workshop is please see our events listings or email

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) event - workshop review

Post by Sandeep Matharu

The power of SEO is truly underestimated and often solely associated with “getting on the front page of Google”. In actual fact, SEO is all about teaching Google and other search engines all about your company, from what products/services you offer to what your current activities are. This is so that if anyone searches for something and your company has something to offer, Google should be able to recognise this and match the searcher’s question with an answer from your company.

In order to teach Google your answers, you need to build a solid SEO strategy and work from the bottom up.

I gained extensive experience in SEO after running my own online business where I became familiar with the high costs that can be often associated with SEO through outsourcing the work. We designed an interactive workshop to run in Birmingham for interiors and lifestyle companies who can learn how to build an effective SEO strategy and apply a solid foundation to their website(s) themselves or via their web designers without incurring huge costs.

Sandeep presenting the SEO workshop in Birmingham
The workshop was aimed for companies who knew nothing about SEO to companies who were moderately experienced. The start of the workshop briefly introduced companies to how search engines find what users are looking for since it’s pointless designing/implementing an SEO strategy if you don’t know how search engines work.

The session was built around three key stages, which when combined construct a solid SEO strategy. Within each stage, companies were given a mixture of theory and then examples and also shown results to highlight the effect. During the course of each stage, companies were also shown free tools which they can use to give them in-depth information. Tools such as keyword research, trend identifiers, and site map generators, and analytics.

Companies left the workshop with a reference book that gave more detail on items covered during the session. They also took away an SEO implementation document which they could give to their web designer once they had conducted research using the free tools they had learnt to use.

I will also be publishing some articles on this blog with hints and tips for SEO. The feedback from the workshop was excellent and due to its success another workshop is planned for 2011.

“Clear and precise, provided invaluable information, increased my skill set” J M Jewellery (Jewellery manufacturers and designers)

“Understanding of keywords, how search engines view a website, great use of Analytics. Mental checklist of good practice, knowledge of tools and usage, anchor text value and great presenter!” Strata Group (Windows and Conservatories manufacturer)

“Practical & immediately useful, Sandeep has excellent insight into web strategies” David-Louis (Giftware designer and retailer)

To make sure you don’t miss out on our other events and workshops – including when we next run the SEO workshop – please email us at

Monday, 15 November 2010

£10,000 Innovation grant for West Midlands collaboration

Guest post by Neil Young

As a business engagement associate for Interiors & Lifestyle Futures, my job is to spot business opportunities and help West Midlands companies to exploit them. That includes explaining the business benefits of the various workshops, and collaboration projects that companies are already involved in through Interiors & Lifestyle Futures. But, an important part of our helping the community of businesses in the West Midlands is signposting other sources of business support. Practising, if you like, what we preach about the profitability of collaboration.

Interiors and lifestyle companies may be interested in grants of £10,000 offered by Innovation Networks. These are available for West Midlands companies working within a group of three or more to bringing a new product or service to market. Innovation is a key driver for business growth as it says on the Innovation Networks website: “companies that innovate are 80% more profitable than those who don’t, but few companies possess all of the skills required to turn a bright idea into a product or service ready for market. This is where we can help”.

Interiors & Lifestyle Futures can also provide companies with collaborative support to compliment this type of grant award please contact me for further info

For further information contact
Suzi Archer at Innovation Networks
T: 024 7623 6326
W: Innovation Networks

Friday, 12 November 2010

Online marketing event - workshop review

Post by Iain Acton

Online marketing is now an essential component of promoting and growing your business. However, in order to take advantage of the online tools such as, your website or blog, you need to understand which channels you need to use to promote them.

Online marketing experts James Pennington and Gareth Edwards, from The National B2BCentre, ran an interactive workshop in Birmingham for Interiors and Lifestyles companies that would cover website planning, search engine optimisation (SEO), blogging and social media.

And with a fully subscribed workshop it is clear that West Midlands interiors and lifestyles companies recognise the need to take advantage of online marketing tools and technologies.

James Pennington presenting the online marketing event in Birmingham

The workshop concisely framed how the Internet allows West Midlands companies to reach a much larger audience than has been possible before but at a cost that they can afford. Also, by ensuring that websites are set up correctly (search engine optimised) potential buyers anywhere in the world can find companies here in the West Midlands. Additionally, blog technologies now provide companies with an outlet to tell interesting stories about what they are doing, which is highly beneficial for SEO.

The companies at the workshop expressed their excitement at the scope of promotion opportunities using social media channels. They were equally delighted to discover how readily available, free and easy to use online marketing tools are. Designers and manufacturing companies can use pictures and video, for instance, to show off the quality of their wares. Service based companies can build upon the satisfaction of their clients as referrals get passed through social networks.

And, speaking of networks, companies also took full advantage of the opportunity to do some significant business networking of their own at the workshop.

The feedback from the event was excellent so a big thank you to James and Gareth and all the companies that attended. Here are some of their thoughts on the workshops

“My horizons have been broadened” BSA Guns, (Gun Manufacturer)

“Concise bite size chunks and delivery” Mereway Kitchens, (Kitchen Manufacturer)

“Excellent Content” Glassdomain (Furniture Designer and Manufacturer)

Information on SEO excellentJaz Asbury Metal Design (Designer Maker)

Event Location
Millennium Point

Workshop Content
The event is aimed at West Midlands businesses that have or are in the process of getting a website.

• What is online marketing and how can it help you?
• Planning and building your website
• Usability and design – what are you saying?
• How to appear in Google?
• Using Social Media for success
• Measuring your success
• Business networking opportunities

Gareth will also be shortly publishing an article on the Interiors & Lifestyles blog:
5 tips for online marketing success

To make sure you don’t miss out on our other events and workshops – including when we next run the online marketing workshop – please email us at