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Listening to a podcast of Friday’s Banburyshire Info Business Show has prompted this blog. The conversation between Chris Hogan of OxCopy and Ray Avery of Bloxham Mill Business Centre suggested home workers often have a problem finding suitable venues for meetings.

We work from home and make no secret of the fact.  We have a well set-up office, which means lower overheads and we can keep our travelling time and costs to a minimum.

As copywriters, we work for companies literally all over the UK and overseas, and we are able to work remotely.  We have several long-standing clients who we have never met!  They’re like old friends, yet we wouldn’t recognise them in the street.  In this situation, the meeting problem never arises.

However, when we moved back to Chipping Norton and started to develop our local business, it was clear we were going to need a venue for meetings.  Like many other home workers, we held meetings in coffee shops, hotels and even the odd pub.  We also sometimes take advantage of the facilities at nearby Bloxham Mill Business Centre.

But a couple of years ago, we accidentally discovered the marketing benefits of holding client meetings in our home.  By inviting clients and prospective clients here, we give them a sense of security.  If they have a problem, they know exactly where we are and how to find us.

Some companies are reluctant to use outsource consultants who shroud themselves in anonymity.  Many home workers don’t reveal their address and only use a mobile phone.  How do you know if that person is in Wick or Wolverhampton?  If I was entrusting work to someone, I would want to know where to find them!

So holding client meetings at home works for us.  Our clients come along, sit at the table with a coffee (and the odd biscuit or cake) and it’s business all the way.  We are open and visible and our clients appreciate that approach. They are reassured to see we genuinely are a local business, living and working in the community.

There is a down-side of course.  An at-home client meeting usually means a frantic flurry with the duster and vacuum cleaner and the dog has to be on her best behaviour.  But it’s a small price to pay!

Blog post by Joy McCarthy

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Chipping Norton copywriters and allotment holders, Joy and David McCarthy, have recently set up a new blog to act as an online diary and information resource for both ‘allotmenteers’ and vegetable gardeners. (http://copywritersallotment.wordpress.com/)   The couple, who took

The copywriters' allotment - September 2007

The copywriters' allotment - September 2007

A transformed allotment

A transformed allotment

over their overgrown half-sized plot in September 2007, had only documented their progress with pictures prior to the blog.

The blog is updated each week and additional pages tell the story so far.  The McCarthys are hoping other allotment holders and gardeners will add comments and suggestions to help provide down-to-earth practical advice for new gardeners and growers.

Joy McCarthy explained, “We wanted to have a written record, as well as a photographic one, of our work on the allotment and what better way to do that than with a blog.  With the huge surge in interest in growing your own food, we hope our allotment blog will provide some inspiration to new allotment keepers and help put Chippy’s growers on the map.  The experienced allotment holders have a wealth of information which we’d like to tap into.  With the large number of younger people and families now queuing up for an allotment, a blog is a good way of ensuring vital information is passed on.  We’ve already started to include some tips and suggestions on dealing with problems such as slugs and caterpillars, but we make no secret of the fact we’re rookies when it comes to gardening on this scale.

Because we wanted a complete record, this year we’ve been weighing  everything we’ve harvested.  At the beginning of September, our 90’ x 25’ plot had produced an amazing 98 kg of fresh vegetables from just this season’s crops!  Just for fun, we’re also working out what it would have cost to buy, based on prices in the local shops.  Had we bought everything we’ve grown from Sainsbury’s or the Co-op, we would have spent nearly £300 so far.  With the potential for having home-grown produce 12 months of the year from our allotment, we expect that figure to be almost £1,000 in total.  Including the price of seeds and some investment in canes and net, we’ve spent around £120 this year.  It just goes to show it is worth growing your own and there’s no doubt home-grown veg tastes so much better.”

As well as the online diary and allotment tips, a recipe section is also being developed on the blog.  Anyone wishing to read the blog or make any comments or suggestions should visit: http://copywritersallotment.wordpress.com/

For more information, please contact:

Joy McCarthy
Tel: 01608 642845
Email: joy@word-right.co.uk

Team Attitude at Altitude (www.twin-peaks.co.uk), the four women who are aiming to raise £20,000 for Breakthrough Breast Cancer by trekking up Kilimanjaro, have received more pledges of support from local Oxfordshire businesses.

Kidlington-based Cherwell Graphics will be printing the Team’s promotional 2010 calendar: Chaps for Baps.  The calendars will be printed in October and will be available for sale online through the Team’s website http://www.twin-peaks.co.uk.

In the current economic climate, Deb Hunt and her fellow team members recognise businesses need to benefit from supporting good causes.  As one of the benefits to business sponsors, Bloxham Mill Business Centre near Banbury has offered to host a networking event in September 2010 before the trek.  This will give all the business supporters an opportunity to see the Team off and network with other sponsors.

In addition, businesses sponsoring Team Attitude at Altitude will be given a listing on the ‘Corporate Sponsors’ page on the Twin-Peaks website.   Sponsors pledging £1,000 or more will also be listed on the other four main pages of the website.  Cash donations can be made online, and anyone wishing to support the Team with gifts in kind can download a ‘wish list’ from the website.

Team Attitude at Altitude’s website, which is sponsored by Chipping Norton Internet marketing company WEB-right, went live on 13th August.  The site has attracted nearly 350 visitors from across the world in its first 5 days.

Deb Hunt commented, “The website has made a huge difference to our appeal.  It is particularly good to be attracting support from the business community and we’re working hard to give our supporters something back.  We’d have a lot of emails from well-wishers and potential supporters.  A company in Florida has even offered to help with some of our trekking kit!  I feel confident we’re going to achieve our £20,000 target.”

-ends-

Notes to Editors

Team Attitude at Altitude is the name given to four women supporting the work of Breakthrough Breast Cancer: Deb Hunt, Annemarie Smith, Helen Taylor and Audra Selley.

The Team will be taking part in a 9-day trek up Mount Kilimanjaro on the Rongai Route, the hardest ascent, to raise £20,000.  To date, the total raised is £4,711: 24% of target.

Team Attitude at Altitude’s website (www.twin-peaks.co.uk) is sponsored by Chipping Norton company:  WEB-right.

For more information, please contact:

Joy McCarthy
Tel: 01608 642845
enquiries@word-right.co.uk
http://www.word-right.co.uk

Deb Hunt
Team Attitude at Altitude
Tel: 01869 340850
Mob: 07527 229739
Email: debs@twin-peaks.co.uk
http://www.twin-peaks.co.uk

Sainsbury's Opening in Chipping Norton

Sainsbury's Opening in Chipping Norton

This is something of a red letter day for Chipping Norton … after 2 months of work, Sainbury’s has just opened its new store.  Chippy  had only two small supermarkets, Somerfield and the Co-op, to serve its thriving local community.  In April, the  Somerfield store closed as a result of the take-over by the Co-op in 2008.   For residents of Chipping Norton, the Gateway to the Cotswolds, visiting the nearest super-store involves a round trip of 20 miles or more.

Amidst much speculation, the news finally broke: Somerfield was out and Sainsbury’s was coming to town.  While the 2 month-long refit was underway, the Co-op had the monopoly on the small town shoppers.  But at 9am today (9th June 09), the new Sainsbury’s opened its doors for the first time in Chipping Norton. 

Like any small town, Chipping Norton is a hot-bed of gossip.  Locals were fully expecting celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, to be putting in an appearance, and there was talk the new store was to be extended upstairs.  These rumours proved to be unfounded, of course.  But as a nice touch, the Sainsbury’s powers-that-be decided to have the store opened by a member of staff who has worked in the store (under different ownerships) for ‘more years than she cared to remember’. 

This sort of thing is important to a small community.  Let’s hope that in coming to Chipping Norton, Sainsbury’s takes its responsibilities to the town seriously.  With one of the area’s biggest fundraising events only a month away (www.chippylido-auction.co.uk) it would be great to see Sainsbury’s pledging some support to this. 

And finally … let’s hope the management realise their mistake in tucking their ‘Chippy News Honesty Box’ away in a corner.  The Chippy News is one of the cornerstones of the community.  The monthly publication, run and managed by volunteers, is probably one of the best-selling papers in the town.  It’s so popular, copies have even been offered for sale on eBay! 

So come on Sainsbury’s … we’ve welcomed you to our community … now it’s your turn.  Get those copies of the Chippy News where we can find them … the Co-op does!

We recently had a leaflet put through our door from Oxfordshire County Council telling us about its local services.  Included in this exciting missive was the news that Chipping Norton was a ‘No cold calling’ zone!   Clearly this is a well-guarded secret as we’ve had 2 cold calls in the past 2 days! 

We decided to investigate this one, particularly as anything to do with marketing is very relevant to our clients.   If no cold calling zones are going to be popping up around the country, businesses working in the B2C market need to be aware of it.  We all know (or should know if we’ve done our homework) calling phone numbers listed on the TPS can result in a substantial fine, as can mailing householders registered with the MPS.  But what about this new embargo?

Well there are a lot of sound reasons for establishing these no cold calling zones and doorstep crime has to be top of the list.  There are a lot of unscrupulous and dishonest people about who use cold calling as a way of preying on the elderly and vulnerable in the community.  A recent survey by the Trading Standards Institute showed 96% of householders didn’t want sales people knocking on their door. 

It would seem this initiative is in its infancy.  There is a Trading Standards Fact Sheet on the subject which tells you how to set up your own ‘no cold calling zone’.  The way forward at the moment seems to involve community groups, lamp post signs, and door stickers.  

If the local authorities are going to champion these schemes, they need to put their money where their mouth is and bring in some proper legislation!  All they need to do is set up a register of opt-out areas.  If this works for the MPS and TPS, it shouldn’t be that hard to do for streets, villages or even towns!  At least that way, the ethical companies who still use cold calling as a marketing tool will know where they stand.  Of course, this will only work if the householders know what they can do to report people who flout the law and the offenders are taken to task. 

As for us … well it would stop us having to answer to door and deal with ardent sales people when we’re busy, but in a way I’d be sorry to lose a golden opportunity.  No casual cold caller gets away from our front door without a handful of our company literature and we make sure they know all about our services!

Working from home in Chipping Norton has many advantages, not least avoiding the rush hour traffic.  But another benefit is being able to respond to neighbourhood events.  This might include taking-in parcels for neighbours, and letting-in the odd plumber who has come to mend the pipes, but yesterday lunchtime was a little out of the ordinary. 

 

David, who is a little short sighted, spotted a cat up the road behaving strangely.  It appeared to be eating plants and walking with an unusual gait.  However, as it got closer and his vision improved, the ‘cat’ turned out to be a rabbit.  We’re not talking about the common or garden wild rabbit here, but a cute little domesticated bunny wunny! 

 

Having had a rabbit many years ago who made Houdini look like a rank amateur, there was no doubt the intrepid WORD-right team had to go to the rescue.   This little escapologist was capable of way eating its way through all the neighbourhood’s prize delphiniums and we weren’t going to be responsible for that!  

 

Lettuce in hand, the next half hour was spent stalking Mr (Ms?) Rabbit through gardens, across pavements, and dodging the odd car.  Luckily it’s a quiet road, so our prey was never at too much risk from the traffic at least.  Finally, after getting it cornered, David secured Bunny Wunny with a flying rugby tackle, worthy of Steve Borthwick himself.  Of course David was very pleased with himself, but personally I think Mr (Ms) Rabbit just made a tactical error and ran towards him, instead of away!  

 

Much as I like bunnies, we are simply not geared up for this sort of house guest.  Megan, our Security Consultant and Border Collie, would surely take exception to this temporary lodger.  However, there’s nothing like a bit of improvisation, and Mr (Ms) Rabbit was soon safely installed in a plastic crate with the lid secured and given a gourmet lunch of carrot and Iceberg lettuce.  The distribution of ‘found’ notices round the neighbourhood turned up the rightful owner and soon our bunny was safely returned home. 

 

As a small business always looking for a niche, could there be a gap in the market here?  ‘Bunny Busters’ does have a certain ring to it!  Is lettuce tax-deductible … is there VAT on bunny capture?  Who knows?  But it was great to be able to help and we were amply rewarded with an email last night thanking us for catching ‘Twitchy’! 

 

So after all the excitement, there was nothing left to do but get back to our desks and do what copywriters do best … rabbit … rabbit … rabbit! 

 

 

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