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Posts Tagged ‘Marketing’

Imposter Syndrome in small businesses

Saturday, January 26th, 2019

I had a pretty rubbish week at the end of January.  I won’t go into all the gory details, but it reminded me of an article I’d read in the past about ‘Imposter Syndrome’.  The article said that “Research from AXA PPP healthcare reveals that one in five SME owners suffer from Imposter Syndrome – the fear of being exposed in your job as a fraud, inadequate or a failure despite evidence proving you’re successful and capable.”

That week I felt just like this and it made me wonder how many other small business owners feel like this too?  What brought this about was a nasty email from an (now ex) client, slating the work that I did for them, my costs (which are extremely competitive I will have you know) and my knowledge.  It was an email that came completely out of the blue and just knocked me for six.  Communication had been good, feedback had been excellent and I’d really helped them (so they told me).  So, to get an email contrary to that was really upsetting.

I consider myself a very professional businessperson.  I treat others how I would expect to be treated myself, am honest and loyal to my clients.  I studied hard at university and continue to study with my CPD, I’ve gained over twenty years’ experience, am a Chartered Marketer with great clients and testimonials and have won several awards.  Yet, I still sometimes feel like I have Imposter Syndrome. Receiving an email like that, or a bad comment about you/your work or meeting a tricky client can really knock you down.

I never imagined that I’d run a business – I didn’t have a clue where to start, but was thrown into this situation when I was made redundant and I just got on with it.  In that respect I have to pinch myself sometimes that I’m coming up to my eight year anniversary.  There is no way I’d be doing what I’m doing eight years down the line if I wasn’t any good.

Findings in the report suggested over half of SME owners affected (52%) admit that low self-esteem led them to feeling like an imposter, with four in ten (42%) comparing themselves with others and over one in four (27%) doubting their decisions.  

So, my message to anyone out there who might feel like they have Imposter Syndrome is to just go for it.  You are good at what you do; otherwise, you would not be in the situation you are in.  Believe in yourself and others will too.  You are unique and the service or product you offer is unique to you and you should be proud of it.  You don’t need to compare yourself to others, be confident in your strengths and what you do.

Finally don’t ever feel like you’re on your own, there are so many other small business owners out there, so get out and meet them, go for a coffee with someone you trust and build a supportive network around you.  A good talking to can often sort you out (as my husband regularly does!)

So, I’m back on it this week!  Bring it on!

 

 

 

Ref:  https://www.businessleader.co.uk

 

Scary Marketing – get the basics right

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018

I have worked in Marketing for almost 20 years now and my beady eye is always on the lookout for great campaigns and ideas.  However, it’s so much easier to spot scary marketing.  It just makes me sigh and my heart sinks when I see a piece of bad print, a poorly constructed website or shocking social media.

Here are my top tips for getting the basics right

1 – Plan

You may have a fantastic idea or product that you want to market, but many people jump in feet first without having a plan in place.  Think about the 7 Ps’ – Product, Price, Place, Promotion, People, Processes, Physical Evidence (there is some really useful information here https://www.professionalacademy.com/blogs-and-advice/marketing-theories—the-marketing-mix—from-4-p-s-to-7-p-s)

Do you have a business plan?  Great.  Do you have a marketing plan?  Think about how you are going to sell your product or service, who your customer is, how they will find out about what you are selling.  By taking a bit of time to plan things out can really help you understand what direction you should take.

2 – Brand

Getting the brand right is so important.  There is nothing worse than seeing a ‘clip art’ logo, inconsistent design work or just no design at all with documents created in publisher.  A good brand reflects your business.  It tells people whether you are professional, if your product or service is good value or quality.  It shows you have taken care and attention in making your brand and business work, rather than knocking something together yourself.

It doesn’t have to be expensive and once it’s done you can use it for years to come – if you’ve got it right the first time around.

 

3 – Website

A good website is like a shop window to your business.  Get this wrong and people will leave as soon as they visit.  I won’t be cruel and pick anyone out, but often the worst websites I see are ones that have been built in-house.  “My friend can build websites” or “I watched a YouTube video” are things I’ve often heard.  Again, websites don’t need to cost the earth (trust me you don’t need to pay 5K for a basic brochure website!)  There are some free sites you can use, but they can be time-consuming and if you run into difficulties there is no one technical for you to get help off.  You’re on your own.  It can all get a bit messy – and does it actually work?  It may look pretty, but can it be found on Google, can people read it on a mobile phone, do people actually look at it?

 

4 – Social Media

Social media is a fantastic platform to get messages across, tell people about your brand and bring your business to life.

When using social media, think about what you want people to know about your business.  I see a real mix of how people use social media.  Some people go all out in telling their personal story on their business pages, which is fine and it’s great to add personality into a brand, but do we want to know what they ate for breakfast?  Then, in contrast, some people are so professional and salesy it just puts you off and no one will ever read your posts.  Getting the right balance is key.  Think about the tone of voice – are you professional, are you friendly, are you a bit crazy and kooky?

I have also seen people getting a bit #hashtag happy.  #literally #using #a #hashtag #in #every #word #they #type #in #a #post.  Aggggghhhhhhh don’t do it!  There is no point and it is not effective.  The point of a hashtag is to make the word searchable #a #in #they are not something that people are going to search for in social media, so you don’t need to use them.  Be a bit more clever with them, for example in a post about marketing I may use things like #marketing #socialmedia #Instagram etc, which would help people find my post.

 

5 – Print

Another pet hate of mine is poor printing.  If you want to be a professional business, your printed materials should be too.  There are many online, cheaper printers, but I would recommend talking to your local printer, who often give excellent rates and can print better quality.  They will let you know about different types of paper you can use, if the artwork is right and if any images are poor quality (another massive pet hate of mine – make sure you use good quality images for print – not one you copy off the internet!)  They will often do the design work for you for free too!

If all else fails delegate and pay a professional!  I am rubbish at maths so use an accountant.  If I need legal advice I will call my solicitor – it’s the same with marketing.  If you don’t know what you’re doing there are loads of marketing professionals out there who can help, investing and bit of time and effort into your marketing can really reap rewards!

Click here to find out more about Acorn Marketing (Cumbria) Ltd could help with your marketing.

Every day is a school day

Wednesday, September 12th, 2018

There has been so much back to school marketing around recently it got me thinking and reminiscing about my old school and University days (crikey it’s 20 years since I started Uni this year!)  Everyone always used to say they were the best days of your life and anyone who has been to university will know that they really are!  However, when you leave school or Uni your education does not stop there.  I feel I am always on a continuous journey of learning whether that’s in life, motherhood or work.

When I was in paid employment, I often attended training courses to broaden my skills, whether that was health and safety or leadership management.  However, since being self-employed this has changed slightly.

A few years ago, I decided to become a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM).  I wanted an accreditation that proved that I was a legitimate marketer.  There are so many cowboys in the industry and I wanted people to know I was genuine and I actually know what I’m talking about.  At that point, I had about 15 years of experience in marketing, which was enough to prove to the CIM that I was fit for the title.

Ever since I have undertaken a path of Continued Professional Development (CPD) whereby I attend training courses, read books, watch webinars, mentor people – generally try to keep on top of my game.  I record the work I do and undertake reflective statements on what I’ve learnt and how I will implement this in my own work.

By doing this it has ensured that I am continuously learning and developing, being the best marketer I can be.  So, for me, every day is like a school day as I learn new things about myself and my business and continue my education and gain more experience in the wonderful world of marketing.

School Marketing Acorn Marketing Cumbria CIM certificate

My 2018/2019 CIM certificate

 

Juggling act

Wednesday, July 25th, 2018

Running a business and being a mum really is a juggling act!  I’ve spent the day writing social media plans for next month, whilst I’ve got a roast in the oven and washing on the line.

For many years my business was my baby, I put my heart and soul into it.  It was my life.  But, since I became a mum (and step mum) things have changed.  I now have two babies to look after!  Most days I manage to do some form of work, but I’m often checking emails whilst building a jigsaw or reading a book to my little girl.

However, despite it being a juggling act I actually get the best of both worlds.  I can be at home and have precious time with my daughter, but then run a successful business as well.  So, how do I do it…

  • Be organised

My biggest tip is being organised.  There is no way I could do what I do if I was not super organised.  I have lists for each client and what we need to do, plans for social media, plans for advertising, plans for future plans.  I then have a weekly list of everything I need to get done that week with priorities, I even then have a notepad, where I write down what I need to do each day.  I know it sounds a lot, but when you’re juggling ten or so clients at a time, you need to write everything down and plan everything.

I also then have lists at home, shopping lists and lists of what we’re going to eat each day for tea.  I have a work calendar and also a family calendar, so everyone knows what they are doing and when.  My little one is only two and a half, so I think this planning is only going to stand me in good stead when she starts school!

  • Communicate

It is also really important to communicate well.  Not only does it help you to be organised, but it ensures my clients (and family) are happy.  I have a rule that I will always answer emails in 24 hours, or even just acknowledge people if I can’t give them an answer right away.  I also pick up the phone.  We often fire out emails when we’re busy and I’m guilty of that, but if I have something tricky to explain about a piece of work, or if I need a question answering urgently I use the good old telephone to sort things out – an art, which seems to be getting lost these days!

  • Support

Probably the key to my success is the support I have from family – particularly my Mam and mother in law.  Between us, we share the childcare.  If I have an important meeting to attend, I know one of these great women will jump into action, swap shifts and be there to help.  April goes to Pre-school in November, so I will have even more time to get things done!

  • Give yourself a break

I recently let things get on top of me.  I didn’t know whether I was coming or going and felt like I was doing a million and one jobs all the time with no respite.  It seemed like I put everyone at the top of the list apart from me!  I discovered a book called The Self Care revolution, which is fantastic and really gives you a handle on how to manage things, coping mechanisms, stress and how to ‘give yourself a break’.  I think we’re all too hard on ourselves to be perfect at everything whether that is work, motherhood, looks, ageing, weight loss and some times, we just need to take a step back and realise that actually we’re good at what we do.  We may not be perfect at everything, but we’re doing our best!

I now make sure I take some time out for me, cinema, spa days and a daily dose of Yoga.  Have a read…it could help you too!

  • Enjoy it 

The biggest thing is that I love my job.  I enjoy meeting clients, forming relationships, doing marketing and seeing projects come to fruition.  I also love being a Mummy (as most mothers do) and although I say I’m juggling, it’s not really juggling as it’s just life!  It’s what I do and I love it.  I get the best of both words, being a Mum whilst running a successful business.

If you are thinking of starting your own business and you’re a mum, I’d say go for it.  Yes, it will be hard, yes, there will be times when you want to go back to 9-5, but the rewards far outweigh the negatives.  There is no looking back!

Carleton Manor Park – first apartment residents move in

Wednesday, June 13th, 2018

Cumbrian Homes handed over the keys to one of their newest residents last week, who has bought one of nine luxury apartments at Carleton Manor Park in Penrith.

The apartments, which are available to view from the 16th June, have been hailed as the ‘Jewel in the Crown’ of the Carleton Manor Park development, which is located on the outskirts of the town. Sue Nicholson, a lady local to the area has bought one of the new apartments and will be the first resident to move in next week.

Cumbria Marketing of Carleton Manor Park Penrith

The development consists of 44 luxury homes, including one, two and three bedroom apartments within the ‘Manor’ and its flanking buildings that prominently overlook the site.

Like the houses, the apartments are built using high quality materials; modern in design yet with a traditional feel offering exclusive living in this sought-after location. What makes these apartments really special is the size,

Nigel Pallister, Managing Director of Cumbrian Homes explains,
“People really need to see these apartments to get a feel for how spacious they are. Some of the apartments are bigger than your average home, so ideal for people wanting to downsize, but not lose the space. We also encourage people to get involved as early as possible when buying with Cumbrian Homes, so they can add their own input into the style of the apartment, including fixtures and fittings.”

Cumbrian Homes has also collaborated with British Gypsum to include some premium enhancements in the apartments, including magnetic walls, super-strength plasterboard and soundproofing products, allowing the people who move into these apartments to really get more from their rooms and really enjoy living in a creative space.

Sue Nicholson, who has completed the first purchase at the Carleton Manor Park apartments, commented
“I am so delighted to finally be moving into my new apartment. They really are something else. I would not have believed I could get such a spacious and beautiful apartment. Flats I’ve viewed before always felt small and cramped, but I don’t feel like I’m making a compromise on size or quality here.”

The apartments will be available to view from 10am on the 16th June. Early viewing is advisable.

Smarties challenge for Hunter Hall Pupils

Monday, February 26th, 2018

Hunter Hall School in Penrith is well on the way to raising funds for their new state of the art S.T.E.M (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) facility, which they hope to build within the next two years.

The school has been undertaking many fundraising initiatives since 2017, including their most recent which was a ‘Silver Smarties’ Challenge.  Children from across the school were tasked with helping parents, family, friends and neighbours with household tasks and chores and in return swapped Smarties for silver coins. Each Friday assembly the children added their spoils to the total and told each other how they had helped make their contribution to the school’s fundraising. Jobs included; washing the car, laying the fire, cleaning out the shoe cupboard, cleaning out pets, feeding the pigs and making winter homes for animals to shelter from left over bracken in the fields!

It fell upon Year 6 pupils, along with Head of Mathematics Mr Philip Sturgess to count all of the silver coins collected since the challenge was set prior to the Christmas break.  The children managed to raise a magnificent £656.81, which brings the total fundraising sum to £22,270.14.

Hunter Hall School aims to raise at least £75,000 which will support the building and fitting of a new bespoke S.T.E.M Centre.  This will be built on the site of an old classroom building, thereby further enhancing their facilities to provide a 21st century establishment from which the children can enthuse about subjects such as Science. As always, Hunter Hall remains keen to continue links with the community and in time offer the facility for others to also benefit from as it does with its sports facilities.

The next event in the fundraising calendar is the Spring Ball on St Patricks Day, Saturday 17th of March at The Roundthorn. The Spring Ball is not just open to Hunter Hall parents, but to all members of the local community who are all very welcome to come along prior to booking through the school.

The school will be continuing to run many fundraising events throughout the year and hope that with support from the local community, businesses and alumni they will reach their target.

If you run a business who may be able to support the school in their challenge, please contact them on 01768 891291 or donations can be made online at https://mydonate.bt.com/events/hunterhallsciencecentre

ENDS

Lake District brewery launches wholesale ales

Friday, February 23rd, 2018

Brack’N’Brew, the micro-brewery based at the Brackenrigg Inn on the shores of Ullswater has recently launched a range of 500ml bottles to complement its existing real ales brewed on site.  The wholesale beers are being stocked across the UK and the local brewery has seen a spike in sales as a result.

Brack’N’Brew was born in March 2015 when an old horse stable at the back of the Brackenrigg Inn Watermillock, was converted into the brew house.  After a few months of trialling recipes, the first ale named ‘Boathouse Blonde’ was brewed and served in the bar at the Brackenrigg Inn.

The Brewery currently has five regular ales available at the Brackenrigg, Inn, including Alfred’s Golden Ale, The Rambling Bookkeeper Bitter, The Steamer Stout and Aira Force IPA.  Seasonal ales make an appearance throughout the year; including a Marmalade ale as part of Dalemain’s Marmalade Festival on the 17th March.

The new 500ml bottle range, has been well received locally and is stocked in a variety of bars, restaurants and shops across the county including Chestnut House in Pooley Bridge, The Sunn Inn Newton Reigny, The Kings Arms in Stainton, Glenridding Mini Market, The Royal at Dockray, Beer Shop Ambleside, House of Malt in Carlisle and Embers Bar in Carlisle.

The bottled beers are also being shipped further afield to Leicester, Nottingham, Wigan, Ingleton and Clitheroe.

Ben Clementson is the Master Brewer behind Brack’N’Brew’s Ales and has been with the brewery from day one. Ben comments,

“We always had a plan to sell our beers in other establishments across Cumbria right from the start.  The range of new bottles have been very well received and we have noticed an increase in sales as a result.  We are very much looking forward to working with more stockists across the country.”

As well as supplying their 500ml bottle range of beers to retailers and bars, Brack’N’Brew is looking to supply their cask ales to an exclusive number of pubs in Cumbria.  The Brewery wants to ensure the exclusivity of the ales, but hopes to supply a select number of establishments with their range of ales in the next year, as well as opening an online shop to sell their bottled craft ales via the internet.

 

ENDS

Important changes to Facebook marketing

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

So, have you heard the rumours as well?  There are some important changes to Facebook marketing afoot.  A few people had mentioned to me at the beginning of the year that Facebook marketing was changing and it was going to be harder for businesses to market their product or service through the social media platform.  With this in mind and the fact that I use Facebook marketing for a lot of my client marketing work, I had to investigate.

What did I find…

So, creator of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg posted on his Facebook profile at the beginning of January that things were changing.

“We’re making a major change to how we build Facebook. I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.

[…] As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.[…] If we do the right thing, I believe that will be good for our community and our business over the long term too.”

Personally, I did a little fist pump as I sometimes get sick of loads of adverts, things that people share and random videos.  I just want to see what my friends are up to without all the ‘noise’.  I’ve started moving away from Facebook and using Instagram personally as it doesn’t have all the crap!

However, as a Marketer, I’m holding my head in my hands.  What is this going to mean for businesses?  Will they all leave Facebook and start using other platforms?  Is it going to mean that all businesses need to start paying for advertising?

What changes for Marketers?

Basically, the way information in the news feed is shown is changing – known as the algorithm.  Facebook signals how much engagement posts get i.e how many people comment, like and share.  A post that gets a lot of engagement is quality content, therefore this determines how Facebook shows posts in the news feed – the more engagement, the more priority a post is given.

Facebook will monitor if this engagement is between a person to person or a person to a page.  Person to person will again be given priority.

Facebook is also going to prioritise content that is given more time and care.  Facebook is basically giving the user a more ‘meaningful’ experience on Facebook, rather than users being bombarded with information they don’t really want to see.

However, this will have a significant impact on the way pages, businesses and marketers are able to reach their audience through facebook marketing.  This doesn’t necessarily mean businesses won’t be able to use Facebook for marketing, it just means we will need to work harder in what we post.  It highlights the importance to businesses of creating relevant and effective campaigns and how well planned out and interesting content can make a big difference when addressed to the right audience.

Getting seen on people’s News Feed is going to become more competitive!

Engagement Bait

The second update is ‘Engagement bait’.  We’ve all seen the types of posts that say ‘Like and share’ to win’ or ‘comment if you agree’.  This tactic is known as “engagement bait,” and seeks to take advantage of our News Feed algorithm by boosting engagement in order to get greater reach.   However, after years of analysing posts, Facebook has created a new model which will detect different types of engagement bait.  Posts that use this tactic will be shown less in news feeds.  Be warned!

It’s not all bad news though if you have a local business/page with which your users have a connection or interest and engages regularly with, you are likely to be largely unaffected by the changes.  Facebook has suggested that its new content prioritisation model will put more local news into users’ feeds.  Thumbs up!

What to do next in my facebook marketing?

Really think about what you post on your Facebook business pages.  Is your content quality and interesting to your users?  Do you spark conversations with users and generate good engagement?  If you do, then carry on doing what you do.

You should also encourage users to click the “see first” tab in their news feed preferences – this way they will always see the content you post.

Try not to fall into the ‘Engagement Bait’ trap and avoid leading users to ‘like/share or comment’ – it needs to be a natural engagement.  You will only get penalised!

Remember that photos and videos in your Facebook marketing are great at engaging with your audience, so try to utilise these as much as possible.  Even try ‘live’ videos which can lead to discussions with your users on average get six times as many interactions than regular videos.

Now, if my ramblings about the new changes to Facebook marketing don’t make much sense, watch this video from Facebook trying to explain why they are changing things…

General Data Protection Regulation for Marketing

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

General Data Protection Regulation for Marketing

The law is changing in 2018.  It will affect all businesses and the way you do your marketing.  It will affect the way you do any email marketing, make sales calls or send direct mail.  I wrote a blog for a client recently about it (click here) and attended a seminar to try and understand what it means for marketers.  I have to say it’s not one of the most exciting things I’ve written about, but it is something everyone needs to be aware of in 2018 and implement changes.

What is GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a regulation by which the EU intends to strengthen and unify data protection for all individuals within the European Union (EU).  It is set to replace the Data Protection Act of 1998.  The GDPR will apply in all EU member states from 25 May 2018.

What do I need to do?

I would suggest you address this as soon as you can and be prepared…don’t just wait until May to sort it out!  If you want to read more in-depth, click here and read my client blog.  Alternatively here are a few things to bear in mind that might get your started…

1 – Think about what data you are collecting.  You might not think you collect any, but if you use Google Analytics, you collect data about who visits your website – even their IP address.  Quick Fix get a privacy policy on your website that indicates how you use any data you collect.

2 – You need to explicitly ask permission to send someone email marketing.  They must opt-in.  It is not OK to assume you have permission, hide it in your privacy policy, or have a box that someone must untick.  They might once have been allowed, but they’re not anymore.  get consent now…don’t wait for the deadline.  On website contact forms/registration forms etc make sure you add tick boxes so people can ‘opt-in’

3 – It is now not only their permission you have to ask for, you also need to record when they gave you permission and log when they opted in.  If you get an email notification when someone registers that may be enough, but you must keep the email secure.

4 – People have the right to tell you to stop marketing to them and you must make it easy for them to opt out of any future email marketing.  Make sure you have that unsubscribe button on your email.   If it is a printed mailer, make sure you have a phone number/address that people can contact to stop receiving things.  Make sure you keep a list of their details and stop sending them things, otherwise you could face a big fine.

5 – Is your website secure?  Does it have a little padlock symbol in the address bar, or did you get an SSL certificate?  If you store any data whatsoever on your website, you must have an SSL certificate, which encrypts the transmission of any data.  Even a contact form can be passing data, so it is safest to have one.  Ask your web designer about it.

6 – You don’t need explicit consent to send a mailer, letter or brochure, provided you make it clear how they can stop receiving them in the future and the content is relevant to them.  This comes under ‘legitimate interests of your business’

7 – there is a misconception that GDPR only applies to personal data, but it applies to business data as well, even if you only email corporate email addresses the law still applies.

As a member of the Chartered Institue of Marketing it has been important to me to try to understand GDPR for my business, but also to advise clients as well.  I don’t know everything and am still doing lots of research and learning, but I hope that I can become more knowledgeable and in turn help my clients.

Watch this space for further updates

 

Lisa gets a hat-trick!

Monday, October 2nd, 2017

Well, I only went and did it again…I got a hat-trick in the Enterprise Vision Awards.  I wasn’t sure whether to enter or not this year as I’d won twice before and thought I was perhaps pushing my luck.   However, my business has changed so much over the past few years I felt like I had a lot to tell!

This year, the main difference was that I was shortlisted in the Professional Services category – not Sole Trader category.  I was up against a firm of solicitors, HR company, recruitment firm etc.  Once you’re shortlisted you have to go through to a judging panel “Dragons Den” style.  You would think I wouldn’t be nervous after doing it twice before, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t.   In the past, I’ve talked about me as a person and the passion I put into my business, but this time around it was all about my business, why it was different and why my service offering stood out from the crowd.

This year the event at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool was even more special as Jili Allen, who does a lot of my design work was shortlisted, as well as my cousin’s wife and another colleague, so we all sat together.  I really did not expect to win this year as it was a tough category, so you can imagine when they called out my name I really was gobsmacked.  I know I say it every year, but it always comes as such a shock.  I was so happy as it is a fantastic recognition for all my hard work and effort I put into my business being successful.

Other awards

I am always banging on to clients about the importance of entering awards.  The PR you gain from just being shortlisted is brilliant, even if you don’t go on to win!  Recently my client Hunter Hall School; a primary school in Penrith has been shortlisted for several accolades.  Firstly they were shortlisted for best Marketing Campaign in the CN Group Golden Apple Awards.  Unfortunately, on this occassion, they did not win this award, but the coverage they got in local papers and our own self-promotion on social media was great.

They have also been shortlisted for two TES education awards – again in best Marketing campaign (fingers crossed!) and State School Partnership award, for their cross-country events they run for other local primary schools.  I am heading down to a glitzy awards ceremony in London in February, so I will keep you posted.

Keep an eye out for any local awards in your area, any industry awards that you can apply for – you have nothing to lose and could get a whole lot of free publicity as a result!