Archive for October, 2008

Industry blogging…to pay or not to pay!

The office products market is fascinating. A vast market servicing dealers, offices, retailers and end consumers with everything from coat racks to coffee and pens to printers. Catalogues play host to nearly 20,000 different products. It’s big business.

And within this market in the UK there are a number of blogs springing up. Some have been around for a while, others, such as Moving Stationery, are much more recent.

Dealer Support, one of the key trade titles, recently launched an Editor’s Blog. It’s a great move, however there needs to be a review to ascertain the difference between the Blog and the Forum on this site as they currently appear to be serving a similar purpose but with the blog being neglected. A quick look at the objectives for both would soon rectify this and give clarity for users.

Strangely, however, the oldest of the blogs on the radar in the industry, Proficiency 2020, has taken the decision that people should now pay to read the content. In a bizarre move, its editor, Peter Frost, has asked for £120 per annum for access to his industry blog starting from 15th September 2008. However, with all the material currently fully accessible (at date of publication of this post), I’m sure any who agreed to pay the fee will be suitably dis-engaged!

This brings us to the question about how or should people monetise blogging activity. What do people see as the benefits to blogging? For me it’s about sharing and exchanging information and insight with a like-minded community. I can also see the value for those who run a business in offering knowledge and information freely to generate other sources of revenue such as speaker opportunities or contract work in your area of expertise.

What are your thoughts on the subject? To pay or nor to pay…that is the question.

October 24, 2008 at 1:34 pm Leave a comment

The end of an era…or the start of a new chapter?

Change is good. That was my message to all as I left Hamelin Paperbrands to move on to pastures new last week.

This business has undergone tremendous change since I joined back at the start of 2005…new ownership, a move to new manufacturing facilities in Europe, closure of much of its UK manufacturing, a new name for the business, new website, better structured product portfolio, great new products and innovations, a business move to a new, purpose built warehouse, distribution centre and head office…the list goes on!

So, what now? In my view, change has been good. It keeps people on their toes and makes them strive for sustainability and success. It highlights areas where future training is required. It brings issues to the fore…there is nowhere to hide in a lean and effective organisation.

So just like the creation of a new building, the plans are drawn up, the foundations are in place with a few tweaks that need to be made here and there, all is on track.

What makes the business, however, is not the bricks and mortar, it is attitude…the attitude of the people, attitude to customers, attitude to suppliers and the desire to succeed. I’ve left behind some great people and many with the right attitude to make that business a huge success.

And what about me? I’m moving on to pastures new…well not that new, as I will still be very much connected with the office products industry as I take up a new role as Marketing & Merchandising Director at Spicers, the largest Office Products Wholesaler in Europe.

Challenges? No doubt. Opportunities? Certainly. The need for change? This is a prerequesit for any successful business. Great people who are eager to deliver? I’m 100% confident.

October 21, 2008 at 6:54 pm Leave a comment

Community Divas address new media challenges for the office products market

In episode 2 of the recently launched podcast Community Divas, hosted by Connie Crosbie and Eden Spodek, Jay Moonah (of Media Driving fame) discussed with them the benefits of finding where most of your audience reside to ensure you accurately target and engage with this community.

Whilst I am in total agreement with Jay’s comment, I was interested in their thoughts on engaging with less developed ‘groups’. For example, in the B2B office products market the online business community is less developed and I would be quite fair in saying that the use of social media channels is embryonic at best. Many of the buyers (whether in procurement or in the reseller or Dealer community) are not yet engaged.

In episode 4 Connie and Eden addressed my question and to hear their suggestions, log on to Community Divas or subscribe to the show at iTunes. In episode 4 you’ll also catch a great interview with Daniele Rossi who talks about his podcasts, and in particular how he’s building a niche community for his ‘Stuttering is Cool’ podcast.

I believe we need to be testing, engaging and learning about digital media and how it can be used to support the business strategy. If we keep plugging the traditional media in isolation we will be left talking at people rather than conversing with customers via media that enables customers and suppliers to really engage and join the conversation.

October 9, 2008 at 7:09 pm 4 comments


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