A new job

I have a new job, as Head of Marketing and Sales at Ashridge Nurseries.

Online plants

Quality plants with expert advice

It’s a family run small business that has over 2,500 varieties of plants, including hedging, fruit and garden trees, flower bulbs, climbers, roses, soft fruit and flowers.

Ashridge nurseries categories

The team is very friendly and knowledgeable – giving free expert advice over the phone.

It’s an online e-commerce business that delivers plants to your home, safely and guaranteed for 12 months.

So, if you want anything for your garden from beech hedging to English roses at good prices then visit the website, www.ashridgetrees.co.uk.

My wife is excited about planning our garden; beech hedging, tulips and lavender are on the list already.

Gardening is an addiction and Ashridge Nurseries can help.




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9 Marketing techniques that will benefit from Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming more prevalent as a component of marketing technology solutions.

These technologies are being used more than ever to enable revenue performance and customer engagement in achieving business goals.

AI and marketing

AI technology is and will help marketers in:

  1. Identifying prospective customers with effective segmentation modelling based on customer needs, and also indentifying wider trends and opportunities


  1. Predictive modelling – how customers will next contact an organisation and for what products, allowing resource allocation and personalisation of communications


  1. One of the big ones, data processing, data analysis and data quality management, and also fraud and data breaches by analysing credit and debit card usage patterns so that points of compromise can be identified, all of which will bring greater efficiencies to marketing operations


  1. Building pricing models that correlate pricing trends with sales trends, and then aligning that with category management and inventory models


  1. Social media including sentiment analysis, product recommendations, image and voice recognition (especially natural language processing)


  1. Websites by automating designs based on intelligent image recognition and cropping, algorithmic palettes and typography selection


  1. Ad targeting – deep/machine learning in AI can help increase the propensity that users will click by optimising product mix and what ad copy to use


  1. Chatbots – customers talking or typing to a chatbot will allow a service to be delivered through analysis of natural language combined with understanding a brand’s assets – offering better customer support experiences


  1. Uniting information from diverse datasets is a common use of AI, for example in content generation from structured and unstructured data to produce news articles that hit the mark with potential customers


There’s no doubt that AI will change the way marketing works in the future, and if you’re doing a job that could be automated then you need to think about the future, now.


Posted in Brand development, Brand planning, Brand strategy, Content marketing, Digital strategy, Disruptive technology, Internet of everything, Personalisation, Social Media | Leave a comment

Artificial Intelligence – 5 scenarios for good or evil


Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a buzzword that gets used a lot these days. The AI industry is set to generate revenues of over £2 trillion by 2022, any ethical implications could have significant consequences.

AI can really benefit humans, but there are a few areas where there is cause for concern; here are a few scenarios that have and are being debated on the implications of AI:

Mass Surveillance – the use of facial recognition technology and AI can be used to clamp down on crime. However, the flipside of that is an Orwellian nightmare. For example, in China the authorities track the activities of its citizens and then ranks them with scores that can determine whether they can be barred from going on plane flights and even online dating sites

Mass Unemployment – jobs become more automated and human involvement is no longer required. The opposite argument is that AI will create new kinds of jobs, certainly new technology will need to be developed. It’s a matter of the changing nature of jobs that humans will do – an evolution that will cause ructions in the job market.

Killer Robots – the development of lethal autonomous weapons and military decision-making could lead to AI-enhanced or AI-led conflicts. A computer system that automatically decides on matters of life and death, such as a missile launch, is a scary notion.

Discrimination – unintended bias in algorithms, especially machine-learning, can bake in racial, sexual or other biases. A few years ago a Microsoft AI chatbot was given a Twitter account and soon started to post offensive tweets supporting Hitler and white supremacy, as it was trained to mimic users interacting with it online, and guess what – given the dark nature of people on the internet it started posting offensive tweets. It brings into question the feasibility of making AI objective, rational and void of bias.

Robot Doctors – the benefits of analysing patient data and being able to diagnose illnesses earlier is a real positive in healthcare, however the use of patient data will have ethical implications for patient privacy.

Like many innovations and technological breakthroughs it is important that we ensure that we do the right thing and managing the ethical implications is part of that process.


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The High Street is Dead

With the continuous announcements of high street retailers becoming bankrupt and stores closing, it seems that the high street is dead.


Woolworths, Blockbusters, BHS, HMV, Toys ‘R’ Us, Mothercare, Poundland and others have recently become insolvent in the UK, and the same is true for the US with Macy’s, Sears, Radioshack and JC Penney going the same way. It’s a trend that has been happening for many years.

The reasons why this has happened has been a cultural change in the way people shop, the way people work and how they prefer to spend their money:

  • The rise of Ecommerce is certainly one key element, but it’s not just Amazon, media and entertainment have been purchased online for many years, but now easy returns policies in apparel make up the biggest category for ecommerce.
  • There are simply too many high streets and to be honest they are just too boring
  • Purchasing with your mobile phone is becoming easier and more prevalent thanks to apps and mobile wallets, mobile ecommerce has increased from 2% in 2010 to 20% in 2017

mobile ecommerce

  • There are less incidental purchases on the high street, preparation is done online and people then only buy specifically what they are looking for
  • People are spending more on nights out with friends in restaurants and on entertainment such as the resurgence of the cinema
  • With the advent of new technologies such as virtual reality, people will be able to try clothes “on” in the comfort of their own home, with the click of a button they will be able to immediately see a different coloured dress for example


  • There is less leisure time, couples both working to pay the mortgage, and they tend to spend it on more physical activities and exercise

Having listed the reasons for the demise of the high street, retailers need to change how they work:

  • Niche shops that cater for a specific need not currently online
  • Unique experiences around a community, for example Frome in Somerset has weekly and monthly specialised markets selling local produce and has a community feel to them


  • Rebirth of city centres and inner suburbs can lead to a different and unique shopping experience
  • Creating destinations that attract a diversity of people and certainly families (with mother’s being the decision-makers), such as SS Great Britain, Brunel Museum and M-Sheds in the Bristol dock area


  • The creation of areas where people meet and greet friends and families, and also try new and different interactions and engagement, such as chocolate making experiences, events, demos and classes

So the high streets will have to change and for some they will not be able to be agile enough or new/different that they will fail, however creating experiences that people would almost pay to be a member of, because they’re so good, is the way forward.

Time will tell, but for some high streets the bell is tolling.


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Is advertising dead?

Advertising is all over the place, literally and metaphorically, and because there’s so much of it including new platforms, it’s competing for a an already limited attention span. The places where advertising is annoying, intrusive and useless (almost everywhere) is accelerating its extinction.

ad dead

My children watch television, and when ad advert comes on (regardless of the advert, it’s just the fact of advertising) they simply switch channels so that they don’t have to watch an advert. They all use blocking software on their laptops and don’t look at any online advertising if they can possibly avoid it.

I can manage to sit through a few adverts, but honestly I prefer BBC programmes, because they don’t have any advertising. But when I do see TV advertising, it’s usually poor – either creatively or due to lack of engagement. It makes me proactively negative towards the brand.

The ad industry is in denial, people hanging on to old thinking for dear life rather than taking their medicine or swallowing the terminal diagnosis, they should seek out new remedies. The ad industry, once a cool graduate job, is now off the radar; they simply do not attract the smartest or the most creative people any more. Those people are going elsewhere; setting up their own innovative technology start-ups rather than pinning their hopes on a dying industry.

Media, publications and so on will need to master other revenue models and partner with advertisers to produce something that adds real value to their product, rather than the noise that interrupts it.


So content that people want is king, people that reject the current model – the next generation will create authentic content that will engage, inform and entertain. And maybe, everyone wins…




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11 things you can do to get more readers of your blog

These are some of my suggestions, there are plenty of others, but just try these when you’re writing content that you want to be read:

1. Write 3 or 4 different titles and choose the one that you think is best. Other titles for this blog were; ‘How to get more readers of your blog’, ‘A blog on how to write a blog’. Hopefully the one I’ve chosen is better.

2. Lists usually work, as there is a limit to the number of ideas that can be implemented and that work. For example, ‘7 ways to improve your website visitor numbers’.

3. Use big numbers when appropriate, instead of ‘Ambulance delays at A&E’, how about ‘600,000 ambulances faced delays of more 15 minutes in the last 3 months’.

4. Write emotional headlines. Emotions fire people’s imaginations and get them to click to find out more. ‘Any wait of more than 15 minutes is deemed a potential threat to life by the NHS’.

5. Don’t sensationalise titles, not too over-the-top or full of value, you need to build trust and the title reflects what you’re delivering in the post.


howto write a blog


6. Share one focused idea, you don’t need to give readers everything in one go, just a digestible amount.

7. Try a strong introduction, the first sentence, to get readers wanting to read more. For example ask a thought-provoking question, open with a quote, use some statistics or introduce an intriguing story.

8. Include pictures. To illustrate a point but also to break up the writing.

playful and fun

9. Simple language is best. No complicated words, make it understandable and easy to read.

10. Be playful. Show your sense of humour and perhaps make fun of yourself.

11. Less is more. Try to be precise. Short sentences. Short words. Short paragraphs.

There is no blueprint for success, but write with passion, show your enthusiasm and break a few rules.


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Disruptive Technologies – breakthroughs in 2018

I have written about many of these technologies before, however 2018 will be the start of these technologies becoming mainstream.

  • Blockchain, which I wrote about in 2016,  is a distributed ledger technology that underpins cryptocurrencies and has been around for about 10 years. That bitcoin and darker parts of the web are associated with it are not so important, as it will be driven by the financial world that is looking to invest in this technology. Blockchain allows consumers and suppliers to connect directly, removing the need for a third party, using cryptography to keep exchanges secure, blockchain provides a decentralized database of transactions that everyone on the network can see. This network is essentially a chain of computers that must all approve an exchange before it can be verified and recorded.


  • Vision and Voice, tapping on a keyboard is moving towards touchscreen, the next phase will be search using voice and visual techniques. Websites are starting to be redesigned to support voice and visual searching and the forecast is that in terms of digital incomes these websites could increase their revenues by 30%.
  • Augmented and Virtual Reality, has been on the radar for a while (see previous blogs on AR and VR) and 2018 will see a massive increase in spend on this technology, including product design, retail sales and training capabilities.


  • Internet of Things has been a buzzword phrase for years, and will become more prevalent as everything becomes more connected. However, there is a view that the IoT will be more specialised in the coming year; with more organisations using the IoT platform specific to their needs to improve productivity and efficiency.


  • Robots will become smarter and more accessible and will be used for connectivity, cognition, decision-making, learning and adaptation. This disruptive innovation will be less expensive as access to artificial intelligence in the cloud improves over the coming year.


2017 saw great leaps forward in the use of disruptive innovations, however 2018 will see further developments in the use of technology that will become prevalent in all our lives as they come to the market.


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