Archive for 2009

It's hip to be square!

save our sausage

A year ago, I did a project with the students at Central College in Glasgow where we were ‘re-inventing’ the Scottish ‘square’ sausage. The square sausage, or ‘flat’ sausage or  ‘sliced’ sausage, or ‘slicing’ sausage or ‘lorn’ sausage  or sometimes ‘Lorne’ sausage (it’s called different things by different demographics) comes in many guises and it’s a Scottish national delicacy. It’s peculiarly Scottish. A sausage wi’ nae skin. You can get it in slices, or in a ‘block’ which enables you to carve off manly chunks as the filling for proper, industrial-scale breakfast rolls.

Now, the square sausage, it gets a bit of a kicking from the Healthy Eating brigade because in it’s common-or-garden form, served in a roll, out of burger vans, at concerts and football matches, it’s a bit of an unknown quantity. There are numerous horror stories as to the erm…provenance of this savoury delectation. The square sausage, what ACTUALLY is in it? The answer is, for the ubiquitous ‘fitba’ roll’n’sausage, you honestly don’t really want to know. Phrases like ‘mechanically recovered’ and ‘rendered’ come into the equation. Others of a more basic cookery school would suggest ‘lips and asseholes’ are part of the culinary constitution. So, to protect those of a squeamish nature, can we just not go there?

In effect, Square Sausage, it’s a bit like Haggis. When it’s good, it’s very good but when it’s bad, it’s inedible! The best square sausage is crafted by artisans. Meat maestros, who would distance themselves from the demeaning title of ”butcher’.  Butcher? Pah! These guys (and increasingly, girls) do things with offal that wins awards. They deconstruct abbatoir-afterthoughts turning them into the breakfast of Champions. Because, as you’ll be heartily sick of seeing, on all these foodie programmes, good food, it’s all about INGREDIENTS!

People like Crombies in Edinburgh and Gillespies have raised sausage making to an art form and they don’t let the geometry aspect get in the way of producing something really em…pukka (sorry). Link or square, they make sure that their product contains, well, nice bits of animals.

So, it’s not come as a surprise that this venerable Scottish breakfast staple seeks to be protected. You know the score, the Italians are good at it. Parma Ham was once an Italian artisan’s sandwich filler, now it’s a protected luxury product. Parmesan cheese in Scotland used to resemble toenail clippings, served out of a plastic medicine tub, now it’s shaved over white truffles and asparagus. It’s protected, cherished and stamped with a regional marque of provenance.

So, if it’s good enough for them it’s good enough for us Scots! In fact, we’re at it already. The Arbroath Smokie (and I’m salivating writing this) is gorgeous and this has been recognised as a product of National interest. To protect the smoked delicacy, controls have been put in place to make sure no ‘smokie-come-lately’ can get in on the act. No-one on Tyneside can churn out a similar fishy-dishy. If it’s an Arbroath Smokie, it’s got to be properly smoked and it’s got to come from roundabout Arbroath.

I can’t for the life of me figure out how you’d even START to do this for the multifarious ‘square sausage’ offerings but I know from experience, I’ll be fun trying!

We’ve done it already with the Marketing students at Central College in Glasgow, and their  ‘Save-our-Sausage’ marketing campaign brief’. Basically, they put the square sausage on the pork pedestal, they had it stroll proudly along the Boulevard le Bouf, (because it appears Square Sausage can be made from quite a lot of animals, even venison) and they projected it as a Scottish icon. like Tunnocks Caramel Wafers, or Irn Bru, or MacEwans Export, in red cans.

Their response was remarkable and it’s easily the most creative work (along with the most fun) that I’ve seen generated, for any Student project I’ve ever worked on. Their outpourings and concepts were prolific. Risque, funny, clever, big-brand appealling, online, alliance marketing ideas…they produced TONS of really great stuff!

So, Scottish Food Provence Mandarins (is there such a body?) if you want to ‘get real’ and ‘Save our Sausage’ , contact John Heuston at Central College in Glasgow and his students will show you what to do!

What you’ll read here is nothing new.

We’re  introducing a crazy marketing challenge:

Become THE expert in your field, in Scotland, within six months. Yes, that’s right, irrespective of how ‘BIG’ or ‘SME’ you are, the power to do this is in your own hands, using the ‘miracle’-‘Social Marketing’!

“Social Marketing, what’s that?” You’d be right to ask because it’s a subject that has had more rubbish spouted about it than any other marketing phenomenon. ‘Google’: ‘social marketing’ and you get 149 million results!

So, what’s the truth? Well, using a 100% measurable, evolving, improving marketing platform, could at least, be quite interesting, but how do you dip ‘a toe in the water’? We’re simplifying here obviously but it involves, joining-up bits of software and ‘the usual Internet suspects’ such as ‘Facebook’ or ‘Bebo’, so people find out all about you. The important factor (the ‘social’ bit) is that it’s OTHER people who organically spread your ‘word’.

However, care is needed. It’s possible to project a picture of your Chairman’s arse on the moon but if you let technology get in the way of a brilliantly concise sales message, you’ll just end up with a bum deal. You need a compelling message, or sending any amount of messages to any number of ‘social media’ contacts just won’t work. Because this ‘Social Marketing’ , it’s not a ‘panacea’, it’s not a ‘cure-all’. It’s a series of platforms, that’s all.

That’s where a ‘back-to-basics’ approach can work. A well-worked-out strategy and an approach where your marketing is pooled together, to work together. That’s the way to do it. ‘Simples’ as these annoying ‘comparing-meerkats’ would say.

Now, we’re ‘Social Marketing Gods’, and we’re suggesting this obviously in a slightly tongue-in-cheek way. Why? Well, there are lots of organisations who tell you they’re ‘experts’ in every area of ‘digital’ communications. There’s a word we use to describe this but it can’t be printed here but if it was 1909, let alone 2009 we’d be wary of anyone saying they had all the answers. After all, we’re talking about sales, marketing, logistics, PR, IT, and lots of other things with acronyms, so for anyone to claim to be overall, bona-fide experts…

We’d suggest that creating clear messages, knowing clever people who can help join things up in a seamless way-that’s the way to do it. Anyway, we’ve taken up the aforementioned challenge on behalf of number of organisations. If you’ve got a cunning plan, a ‘united-front’ an enthusiastic team of experts and a clear idea of how Internet technology can speed things up, you can quickly race to the front of the pack.

Some words of warning though. Don’t expect miracles. Because if it’s worth doing well; it’s blinking hard work to do it really, really well. As well as having what PR people would call ‘collateral’, in other words, stories, engaging content, interesting angles…you also need ‘resource’. Because your amazing new ‘digital’ strategy won’t do things on its own. You need dedicated people (or peoples) to do the ‘grind’. Make sure stories are written, updates are published, ‘in’ boxes are checked and personally responded to. After all this, you’ve got to see if it’s working. You need results to be measured, messages tweaked, images improved…

It’s always been the case that there’s no finishing line in marketing. so that’s even more true, when it comes to the immediacy of ‘digital’.

So that’s it, our ‘it’s not neuro-cranial surgery’ thoughts on ‘Social Marketing’. Lots of it is really dependent on extremely solid marketing basics and having a watertight strategy, signed-off from ‘above’ (wherever that might in your place), so nobody is in the dark when interesting and unusual things begin to happen. That’s because they will.

As we mentioned, don’t just take our word for it, get ‘Googling’ and you’ll soon have many millions of pages of encouraging statistics, coming out of your ears. However, if you’re STILL undecided, we need to visit you and explain in our usual, straightforward way, where we could fit-in. How we could help get things moving and why you really, honestly should be making some form of inroads. Sign-in for our newsletter and we’ll tell you even more.

We're talking at The Hub-November 12th

Cool and funky digital space in Glasgowthumb_image_8thumb_image_19

Unaccustomed as we are to public speaking, we’re going to be doing it again! We’re one of the speakers at the next Scotland in Business networking event in November. It takes place The Hub the fabulous new building, situated in the heart of Glasgow’s Pacific Quay. Scotland in Business have a vision to build areas of national and international demographic support among businesses with complimentary resources and knowledge.

Their new networking session meets monthly and if you’ve not been over to The Hub, in Pacific Quay, Glasgow, it’s worth coming just to see the great space. Of course, our chat on the Power of Social Marketing in Business will obviously be fascinating, full of insight and a work of some power and clarity. Well, it will be, when we write it…

Diary date: The Hub, Pacific Quay Glasgow, 6.30pm-10pm and that’s on Thursday November 12th!

So have a look at the link above, you might fancy joining Scotland in Business? Members benefit from free attendance to all their workshops and events and of course there’s a host of marketing opportunities for your business.

Check out their membership page, if you’d like to to join.

Hope to see you there, on the night.