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Bernie Tracey of Beacon Coaching has published a book (with a difference) about setting up and marketing a new business. The ‘difference’ is that it centres around two mouse cartoon characters who are setting up their first business. Endorsed by Fergal Quinn, this book will be very useful for anyone starting up a business or in the early years ( or as a refresher for later years!). I recently caught up with Bernie to ask her all about her new book and she has offered us two copies of ‘The Cheese Mall’ to give way – all you have to do is leave a comment before 7th November.
Bernie, you worked in various roles within companies and set up Beacon Coaching in 2005, spending your time now sharing your expertise with SMEs. Could you tell us firstly what kind of courses do you run and what do you offer the business owners who come to you for mentoring?
I run Marketing and Sales programmes for Enterprise Boards and SME organisations. I take a practical approach to my training and the content is reflected on my business management experience and of course, my own experience of setting up and running my own business. Participants are often amazed about how upfront and honest I am about the mistakes I made in my first year of business and they find this very refreshing. With regard to mentoring, I help companies take a realistic look at their business and evaluate what is not working for them. I can see what a company needs to do in order to be successful and I work with them to help them fine tune their business development strategy.
Why did you decide to write ‘The Cheese Mall’? What lessons will people learn from it?
There are many great books out there on Marketing but they do not really communicate with the small business in any meaningful way. When you are starting off in business there are so many anxieties that can become overwhelming when establishing your business. I wanted to write The Cheese Mall in a more conversational way so that the small business owner could very quickly understand what marketing is really all about. I also wanted to demystify all the jargon.
I like your use of cartoon characters, Millie and Matthew. What do they bring to a book about marketing?
I did not want to write yet another marketing book so this is why I introduced Millie and Matthew. They create their own Marketing Communications Strategy and are trying to get to grips with jargon such as market segmentation, SWOT and marketing mix. Having them talk to each and explain these terms in an easy way and then showing how it relates to their business, will help the new start-up to really understand complex concepts. In other words they are asking the questions that business person would want to ask an author if you were reading a book but they cannot answer you directly. However, in The Cheese Mall, your questions are now being answered by both Millie and Matthew.
I see you are have created a blog for the characters of ‘The Cheese Mall’. What benefits do you think that brings – both to you in terms of publicising the book and to the readers of the blog?
In the book Millie and Matthew discuss their Internet Marketing strategy and of course their wordpress blog comes up as a customer engagement tool. I wanted to use the blog to continue with the journey. Getting your business plan approved by the bank is one thing but then opening the business and having to do all the things that you said you were going to do is another. Like all businesses there will be ups and downs in the first year so I wanted to use the blog to continue the story and also to create an affinity with the characters. They are also on Twitter and Facebook.
I see The Cheese Mall is available to purchase on kindle, do you think your messages and lessons within the book would apply to an international audience of SMEs?
Absolutely. The marketing principles explored in this book are universal.
Fergal Quinn has a high opinion of your book, do you think experienced business people can learn from it too?
The Cheese Mall is targeted at both start-ups and entrepreneurs already in business as it will help a business take a fresh look at their marketing communications. It will also help them understand that they need to put their customer at the centre of all their business decisions. This is how Feargal Quinn built the SuperQuinn brand and I guess this is why he has endorsed the book because this is the core message of The Cheese Mall.
What has been the response so far to The Cheese Mall?
Those who have read the book have commented on its simplicity and how it is so readable. It will take less than one hour out of your busy day to read this book but it will change your views and understanding about marketing forever.
I understand you are Self-Publishing. How difficult is that?
I know a lot about marketing but not much about publishing but I am getting there. I am marketing the book myself. I am in essence ‘walking the talk’ Lorna because all the advice I am giving in the book I am applying to the marketing of The Cheese Mall. I also had to do all the type-setting myself and organise the printing. It has been a tremendous learning curve for me and has increased my resolve to get this little book out there. I sincerely believe that The Cheese Mall’s simple approach to marketing will help ease the anxiety that every new start-up feels when beginning their entrepreneurial journey and it will also help a company that is going through tough times to apply some key marketing principles in their business.
The Cheese Mall can be purchased online here and remember to leave a comment below before 7th November if you would like a chance of winning this new book on marketing your business.
Update: The winners are Brian of The Secret Garden and Kate McQuillan, their copies will be sent to them shortly. Many thanks to everyone who entered.