Don’t Be Another HMV – Wake Up to What Your Business Needs – NOW

Vintage-Advertising-His-masters-Voice-10705HMV*, the UK’s biggest high street retailer of entertainment products – music, games, electronics (more recently) and DVDs, has gone into administration as of yesterday, meaning 4500 jobs are at risk.

As a former employee (I graduated to the giddy heights of ‘chart buyer’) I feel truly gutted for the staff, and hope that the company are able to survive.**

People are blaming Amazon, Play.com, Spotify, Netflix, the major supermarkets (who sell the most mainstream entertainment products at a loss to tempt people into their stores), and of course illegal downloading.

But perhaps HMV themselves are to blame.

Philip Beeching worked on HMV’s advertising account and he shares a damning account of how he tried to tell them about the triple threat of “online retailers, downloadable music and supermarkets discounting loss leader product” (thanks to my pal Baxter for sharing).

He says in the article that

“Throughout the late 90’s and right up until today HMV’s single biggest mistake has been a lack of investment in their online offering.”

This is backed up with a quote from the founders of online store Play.com who waited for HMV to come after them – but were surprised when it never happened. It also chimes with my own opinion and many others online.

The same thing has happened with many people as the digital revolution has taken hold, including most of the newspaper industry who thought they were selling papers when really they were selling news (and therefore the medium is less important than the content).

Some people however have seen the writing on the wall early enough to adapt, including Beeching’s own creative agency who saw digital coming and adapted in good time.

Appropriately enough, given my current #Sethisms theme on this blog, Seth Godin has a very apt quote about this:

“Our preconceptions and our fear conspire to make it difficult to see the world as it is.

Buddhists call it prajna – accepting reality as it occurs instead of interpreting it as part of our ongoing narrative.

The trick isn’t coming up with an interpretation of events that allows you to maintain your worldview; it is to accept what happens without stopping to interpret it according to your biases.” #Sethisms

This is something the bosses at HMV clearly failed to do.

Here’s where you need to ask yourself honestly – are you doing something similar with your business right now?

  • Are you aware that you need a strong online presence, which involves clearly communicating why you do what you do?
  • Are you publishing engaging and valuable content consistently in order to drive traffic to your site?
  • Are you taking specific, strategic actions to grow a tribe of people who are interested in what you have to say?
  • Are you aware of how to use the latest social media and multimedia tools to help you do this?

Yes, you probably are aware. So, are you doing it yet? 

How I Can Help

If you’re interested in finding out more I’m going to be volunteering at a series of free social media surgeries beginning this coming Monday at Leith McDonald Road Library. These surgeries are primarily aimed at “local voluntary or community organisations, local charities, clubs or societies who are interested in making the most of the web and social media.” (Download event poster in PDF format.)

I’m also about to hold a number of workshops on how to Pimp Your Online Presence at various events around Scotland.

And, whilst I’m in the process of revamping my freelance copywriting business, I will be available for both consulting and content production from the beginning of February.

Get in touch if you’d like to have a chat about how I can help you.

Don’t be another HMV.

*HMV of course, stands for His Master’s Voice because the company sold gramophones in the early days (that picture of their dog Nipper is pretty iconic. I met Nipper once, when the Edinburgh Princes Street store re-opened. Well, it wasn’t the original Nipper, it was probably the 10th reincarnation. Meatloaf also made an appearance at the opening, as did his biggest fan, Pete Loaf).

**I also feel for the staff of Fopp, which was a great indie record store which HMV bought out to save it from going under a few years back. I’d hate to see Fopp disappear altogether, especially because they used to sell my band Swivel Chair’s CDs back in the day.

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Alex Mathers from Red Lemon Club

I’ve been a fan of Alex Mathers and his Red Lemon Club blog for quite some time. The site provides really solid advice for freelance creatives of all kinds. Alex’s own speciality is illustration, a topic covered by his other site, Ape on the Moon – so he talks from experience – and of course this means all of his sites and products are extremely well designed.

Alex is releasing a new ebook today designed to demystify the latest social network from Google that hardly anyone seems to know how to use properly, Google+. The guide is designed specifically to help creative freelancers to attract new clients and simplify their online presence. As you can see from the below interview, he knows his stuff.

Please can you describe who you are and what you are up to at the moment?

I’m a London, UK-based self-taught illustrator and writer working on various illustration projects, including something for Wired magazine right now. I run a website called Red Lemon Club that aims to help other freelancers, entrepreneurs and creatives with going it alone, finding clients, doing business, and so on.

I’m about to make a move to Tokyo to experience things from a different perspective and can’t wait!

Did you always know what you wanted to do (creatively) or has it been a process of trial and error to get to the point you’re at now? If it’s the latter, how did you decide what to focus on?

Practically everything that I’ve ever done up until this point has been a result of trial and error, and gradual change. I like to try out new things but also make a point of sticking with something once I’ve started it, and allowing it to evolve over time, fine-tuning as I go.

I’ve stayed focused on particular things, like my illustrations, by always having a vision in mind of where I would like things to go. The thing is, that vision always changes slightly (but not dramatically), and that’s how things progress. When I first started illustrating, things looked a lot different to how they do now.

Too Much Information? Creative Catch-Up Summer Special

During Summer I think most of us naturally want to feel a bit lighter on our feet, to get out and about (if the weather is willing) and explore, and have fun (yes such a thing does exist apparently).

Which is why I think a lot of people are re-examining their social media, email and online reading habits again and realising that maybe they are spending just a little bit too long staring at their computer/smartphone/iPad screens (or possibly all three).

It might also be to do with the fact we’re now more than half-way through the year, and people start to realise that they’ve not achieved as much as they’d hoped when the year began – and so decide to look at ways to make time for their creative projects.