Our former business, the start-up that filled a gap

By Jeremy Blake on April 30, 2020

How to look for new gaps and ways to serve the changing marketplace

In 2002 Bob and I launched Reality Advertising Partnership. Following Bob’s time in media sales for business to business print publications and my time at Yellow Pages, we wanted to offer something more diverse.

I had become skilled at generating large amounts of adverts from my customers to appear in Yellow Pages, Yell.com, Business Pages and Talking Pages – yes remember that! The people I was helping with lots of aspects of the marketing, were only using one form of media to reach the consumers or business customers they wanted.

We settled on the idea to win SMEs who wanted to diversify and have their marketing spend planned and spent for them across a mix of media to win more business and keep and grow what they had.

We hit the phones and aimed at independent retailers who needed to get people into their shops and other business in prime locations that needed more customers. Our first client was a letting agency, followed by a beauty salon client.

The first thing the client would buy was a Marketing Plan for a fixed fee of £750. We would research the customers they wanted and let them know how we recommended they spend their marketing budget over the coming 12 months. We’d deliver the plan and give two choices. Take it and implement our advice or pay us a fixed fee monthly retainer to implement it. Most went for the latter as they didn’t get fired up enough about marketing or wanted to be in their business with another hat on.

We had a lot of fun and helped our beauty client expand a good deal. During a period of 5 years, we engaged a number of specialists including the fab web designer Nikki Peach – going stronger than ever, photographers, event companies, and even stand-up comics for our Luton Laughter Club.

We understood ways to spread their investment, from appearing on local TV, in press, even on roundabouts and started to spend more time helping create the right language and copy, irresistible packages, referral systems and a whole load of low to no budget marketing principles their businesses needed.

Training beckoned and after five years we switched – I’ll give you that story in another blog.

What made us able to launch Reality Advertising were answers to key questions:

  1. Which businesses can’t afford ad agencies but want to grow and understand that they can improve their marketing? This gave us our customer type.
  2. What do we sell to them first as a standalone which gets them curious for more? Our fixed fee 12-month marketing plan.
  3. What don’t they have the skills to do? Talk to, negotiate, book specialists and media.

We developed the two core solutions to solve their problem. The rest of the work was getting meetings and presenting the plan in a powerful way to inspire our clients to implement it. Generally, they asked the people who had the knowledge, skills and the right attitude to do that – us.

I sometimes wonder if a relaunch of this business has legs and could it ride again! If you’d like to take the idea and launch - go for it, just make sure you charge at least x 4 for the plan. We loss led a little heavy on that.

You have the opportunity now to look at the set of skills you have and find who would pay for those in a service business proposition. Do you have a two-step approach, the plan then the implementation? Can you develop a mix of services to deliver?

If you are reading this on your laptop, you have a means of production, an ability to write, research, record and more. Years ago, workers had to work in factories as they couldn’t own the means of production, now with a laptop and a connection to the internet a mass of business services exist – what’s yours going to be?