All posts by geraint_clarke

LAUNCHING THE SKILLS PLATFORM // The Magic of Digital Marketing

As we enter the digital age, it’s becoming more and more prevalent to concentrate on ‘start-up strategy’. This nomenclature encompasses the terms, tactics and methods of releasing a digital product or brand on a small budget, to a large audience.

The task is simple. Stick to your budget and make this successful…Sounds simple, right?

This need for efficient spending allows your creativity to run free. It’s not just thinking outside of the box, it’s thinking without a box entirely. The good news being, that there are no limits with the internet; a place where cat videos reign supreme.

Step 1

Step 1 is product. What are we working with here? Can it be improved or optimised? Why would customers use it, and want to recommend it to others?

The great thing about working on a project that has received investment from the UKCES, on behalf of a registered charity, is that the initial concept, idea or message will always have the end-user/public as top priority. We’re not making something for us, we’re creating a service to give a solution to a problem within the industry.

With that in mind, optimising the sites functionality, making it as simple and easy to navigate as possible was the top priority. Ditch the jargon, the convoluted sentences and forget about pop-up adverts. The real secret to a success is product + energy. Make sure what you’re offering is the best it can be. Even if that means causing a delay in release, which we did.

Step 2

Step 2 is place. Where does this fit within the industry? You can either be the first & the best, or the cheapest. If you’re not the first to do this, your marketing strategy will always be informed by the current industry leader.

Personally, I spent a lot of time helping establish the message that this is the first of it’s kind, and the term ‘sector-specific’ was coined in the projects infancy to help provide distinction among potential competitors that may emerge over the coming months / years.

The Skills Platform is sector-specific. It currently serves the health, charity and social enterprise sectors. A family of sectors that have incredible similarities. Similarities close enough to provide a wide variety of courses from providers that serve all previously mentioned sectors with their learning provision and consultancy.

Step 3

Step 3 is promotion. How do I get this to the people I need? How can I convince them to use it? To love it? To spread the word?

I had to concentrate on reach. Getting as many people to see it as possible in the shortest time. The wisdom of crowds idea suggests that people are more inclined to get involved if they can see lots of other people are too. For example, a celebrity with 1million followers will find it a lot easier to get to 2 million than a new brand starting from scratch. Fans flock.

With that in mind, I introduced Thunderclap (thunderclap.it) to the project. A social media ticking time-bomb that uses your brand message as the fuse.

It works by asking fans or potential new users of the Skills Platform to retweet or share our message, but it delays that social share and stores it.

That means, on launch day, we were able to blast our message out across the internet at a pre-determined time. At 1pm everyones message automatically shared and increased our social reach to over 103,000.

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We stood on the shoulders of giants as our previously populated twitter page racked-up 200 new followers. All of whom had an automatic inbox message to thank them for their interest and to urge them to check out the Skills Platform. We saw our web visitors shoot up in real time as people were intrigued by our thunderclap, or seduced by our personal twitter message.

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The next stage of the plan was traditional marketing. Press and PR related to the new launch of a fantastic new service. It was important to cover all the features, benefits and solutions provided by this new service, and to introduce enthusiastic new users in the right way.

As a journalist, I imagine your desk is constantly bombarded with stories such as these every day. So I did the opposite. I withdrew all information and made the lack of information the story.

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I did this by creating a countdown timer to our launch event on the website, and it got some twitter and journalist interest, eliciting the exact reaction I was looking for.

countdown1


As the press started to roll in, and journalists started to contact us for coverage, we followed up the snowball effect of the Skills Platform buzz with some SEO and email marketing campaigns. Everyone’s collective efforts resulted in the first sale/conversion within 24 hours of launch, which is incredibly impressive, as our initial marketing focus for launch was for providers, and not a consumer launch so to speak.

I have no doubt in my mind that this incredibly exciting project will continue to organically grow through the sectors and gain a loyal customer base of employers, providers and individuals.

My perspective and approach to the launch was entirely dependent on others in the team creating the best product possible, and hopefully we’ll continue to impress you on the Skills Platform with our ingenuity moving forward.

Let’s help up-skill the health & charity sectors, together!

– Geraint Clarke

TINDER // My love/hate relationship with love/hate relationships

In mid 2014, I was touched by the cold hand of reality when a promiscuous partner and I decided to part ways. I stepped out of an 18 month committment and took a long, deep, and unwilling breath into the world of single-life.

In a ironic twist of fate, the digital building blocks for the foundation of my new self-esteem were the same thing that brought down the house in the first place. Of course, i’m talking about Tinder. The newest dating craze i’d heard of since telling ‘that girls’ mate that you fancy her during Art class. (Which admittedly was 0% successful)

Not being one for effort; you’re reading the musings of a man who completed a degree without ever attending the library, I decided to find a way to cheat the app during a 4 hour lull, stranded at Helsinki airport.

Misguided by a sense of arrogance, caffeine, sugar and impending departure, I got to work photoshopping my profile with a ‘match of the day’ banner. I’m talking about a fake Tinder accolade and not the football re-cap show.

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My excuse was that it was a ‘social experiment’ (You know, that thing youtubers do by exploiting the homeless with generosity to get a video to go viral) and I had complete anonimity knowing that any ‘matches’ I was lucky enough to receive would be lost during my 7 hour journey home.

After 1 hour of this profile going up, I had 107 matches. An unfair and unrepresentative response, and a number too high for both my libido and proximity to fulfil. My morals got the better of me, and I decided to go legit, and lose my con-man profile before touching down in the UK where any misled women would be able to hold me accountable for my social experiment/desperate attempt at a confidence boost.

Tinder relies on two things, mutual visual attraction to get a match, as well as mutual visual attraction to sustain the match. This brings me onto my list of the things I love, and the things I hate about this new dating craze. Strap in, and enjoy…

LOVE – IT’S EASY!!!

The simple concept of a thumb gesture to cast fate on someone hasn’t been this overused since Ancient Rome, and instead of the death of a slave, or gladiator, it now signals the potential life or death of a digital partnership.

Shallow, simple, sinister…perfect! The busy lives of people too engrosed in Facebook feeds to make small talk in an elevator, on a train or over dinner, ensure that Tinder is slotted into our lives more suitably than a round peg is slotted into a round hole.

It’s simplicity gives it power. You love the gesture, don’t pretend it’s just me, and “I’d swipe right on ‘er” has joined the lexicon of boys and men up and down the country when spotting an elusive female in the wild. (Not that I myself have ever used it)
It’s hard to hate the animalistic nature of keeping those you’re attracted too, and bypassing those you’re not. Much like a romantically charged game of guess who, but with more strangers and less bald men called Bill.

HATE – THE INFAMOUS TIGER PHOTO 

Whether it’s an innocent commonality, or whether it stands as a metaphor for their ability to tame a beast, i’ve seen more dosile tigers on Tinder than I’d care to count. The animal rights groups lead us to believe there is a shortage of Tigers on earth, that they’re almost going extinct. Yet the true numbers have been underestimated because a few of them have been busy taking profile photos with girls. (Or guys if you’re a lady reading this who’s noticed a similar trend)

tinder-tiger

Probablity suggests that due to the small amount of Tigers in captivity, i’ve probably seen that SAME tiger more than once, which makes me laugh. It’s funny to think that I’ve seen more photos of the one Tiger than I have of one girl. Maybe me and the Tiger would have more in common. Who knows?

LOVE  – IT’S A CONFIDENCE BUILDER 

“IT’S A MATCH!”

The cursive font dances across your screen, unbroken like your excitement. Reminding you that you’re not too ugly after all 😉

An instant gratification, like a romantic sugar coursing through your veins during that rush. It’s impossible to ignore the added confidence you receive, and it turns you into a ‘match junkie’, constantly chasing your next fix.

Who cares about love when you’ve got 4 matches in a row? A life of loneliness is entirely possible, but at least you’re still in with a shot. Right?

HATE – THE NEED FOR CHEESY CHAT-UP LINES 

There’s no wonder less-experienced, chauvanistic men have resulted to a ‘dick moment’. Which as i’m told, is a picture of their dick sent to all of their matches on Tinder. Poor girls; and honestly ladies i’m sorry you have to go through that… but why make it so hard just to start a conversation?

“Hey, how are you?” is too boring, so men are forced to whisper sweet nothings to their creativity to see what is eventually spurted out. Thankfully i’ve been lucky in this department, and i’m going to share a few of my favourite openers to you, officially retiring myself from using them, and giving you a better way to say hello.

“18 miles away! That’s soooo far. I hope you own a helicopter 🙂 x”

“Hey, look at us being impulsive. Me messaging you, and you replying with your number 🙂 People could learn from us x”

The reason lines work is because half of everyone’s ‘about me’ section is empty, so it’s impossible to build rapport with someone on your opening gambit, and the other half of Tinder accounts are Spam, and respond with an offer of sexual favours for 125 roses. (I’ve checked the prices of Roses lads, it’s about £30 for a dozen from a nice florist, so it’s DEFINITELY not worth it!)

Some girls ask for creative and original openers. Some girls need it to trawl through their copious number of matches to find the true fruit in the forest. It’s a necessary evil.

In conclusion it’s not perfect. It turns a man who just wants to go out on some well-planned, cute dates to get to know someone, into a characuture of their former self. Like a thumb-happy Julius Caesar, looking into a digital-pit of women and tigers, racking his brain for the most creative way land a date.

My advice to all men is, get out into the real world, have some real conversations, and even though i’ve met some of the most beautiful, funny and caring girls via Tinder, those women do exist on the other side of your screen. I promise.

Swipe left on Tinder, and swipe right on real life.

DISCLAIMER : This blog post is my round up of Tinder. I’m not perfect, I don’t think I am, pretend to be or aspire to be.
My opinion is based on my interpretation and a lot of this blog post is hopefully self-deprecating enough to make you laugh.

Become an EXPERT in Poker // Handy tips on gaining chips.

It’s a risky title, but I knew it would grab your attention. Extroadinary claims, but the information below is a culmination of experience from online pro’s all over the world, and my immersion into the online poker community to find out their secrets and share them with you. Practice doesn’t make perfect… Practice makes permanent. These skills won’t make you a millionaire, but they will give you the tools necessary to make smarter decisions on your way to taking down your friends in a home game, or sitting at a table for the Pokerstars European Poker Tour.

 

Poker variants

 

There are many different kinds of Poker, but the main one we’ll be focussing on, is the worlds most popular version; Texas Hold’em. This game re-kindles ideas of James Bond, as well as characters and real men since he was introduced. The poker player is perceived to be logical, unemotional, stern, analytical and with as much integrity as he has chips. Cheating isn’t an option. The difference between them and you, is that they want to win big, and you want to lose small. It’s gambling for the charming man.

 

The game consists of two ‘hole cards’ that are dealt to each player, and then 5 community cards that are dealt to the table to help you make the best hand. The beauty being, nobody has any clue what the other players have, and it’s not always the best hand that wins.

 

The basic hand breakdown being :

  • High card (2 being lowest and an Ace being the best)
  • Pair
  • 2 pair
  • ‘Trip’ or triple (3 of the same card)
  • Straight (a numerical progression of 5 cards. Eg 7,8,9,10,Jack)
  • Flush (5 cards with the same suit)
  • Full house (One pair, and one Trip)
  • Straight Flush (A numerical progression of 5 cards sharing the same suit. Eg. 5 of Hearts, 6 of Hearts, 7 of Hearts, 8 of Hearts, 9 of Hearts)
  • Royal Flush ( A 10 to King straight of the same suit. )

 

I’ll assume you know the basics and what each hand is, if not, there are many places online for you to learn. The best resource for me was probably http://wwww.pokerschoolonline.com

 

When you know how to make the hands, and what hands will likely win, you’ll be well on your way to the biggest chip stack, but before you do, you need to decide your style of play.

 

 

Styles of play

  • Aggressive – The aggresssive player is a menace at the table, the man who keeps raising, forcing others to fold, playing every hand and over-estimating most of them. The problem here is that this person is hard to bluff, hard to call with bad cards, and often steals the pot from under your nose. So why not be this man? When deciding your style, you may want this to be you. The leader of the table who dicates the reactions of each player and clears the table for serious players only.

 

The downside here is that if anyone guesses you’re trying to be aggressive, they will more than likely start to call you even more, and sometimes win. The upside though, is that less experienced players will see your confidence and assume you’ve got the best cards.

 

  • Slow play – The slow player is patient, deceptive and enjoys any opportunity to bleed you dry, chip by chip. They win small pots, but they also lose less chips. They fold 90% of their hands, and only play good cards before the flop. They don’t often want to pay to see the flop. In the industry they call it ‘limping’. Making miniscule bets, either to envoke a reaction of a raise, or to ensure they can secure a cheaper chance to make a great hand.

 

The downside here is that big and small blinds will dwindle your chip-stack quicker than losing bets. Playing too slow gives the risk-takers a chance to build a chip-stack that you’re unable to match and recover from.

I would take this approach on a busy table, or in a tournament, as it gives you security and ensures you won’t be knocked out too early.

 

 

Top 5 tips for success in Poker

  1. Vary your style – The best way to play is to be unpredictable. Vary your style between aggressive and slow. If the other players aren’t able to guess if you’ve got good cards or not, they’re more likely to fold to you, or lose against your superior cards.

 

  1. Find the tells – Other players will have tells. Raising on ‘The River’ is one I see in most players. In that example if they call and then raise on the river, they’re trying to steal a pot after not being able to make a good hand. By making notes on all players, you’re able to discover tells by seeing if they call, raise or fold in a pattern. Thus giving you the advantage.

 

  1. Raise ‘on the button’ – When you’re ‘on the button’ it means you’re the last player to bet a hand. Raising from this position puts pressure on all of the other players, as they have to call to be able to see the next card. This way, only players with good cards are likely to play, and that table of 9 players will likely drop to 2 or 3 people playing that hand. Less opponents increases your chances of winning.

 

  1. Only play good hands on busy tables. – If the table is busy, you need to avoid being the hero. The grass is always greener on the other side, and often, a good hand is eclipsed by an even better one. Bluffing is not an option here, as not everyone will fold on the river, and you’re staring down the barrell of a proverbial gun. Stick to what you know, vary your play, but stay tight. Don’t over-bet on a pair when someone else could have a flush. It’s the quickest way to lose your stack.

 

  1. Don’t overuse the bluff. – The biggest rookie mistake is those who ‘bluff’ too often. Stop going all-in every 3 hands. Other players will quickly smell a rat and take a chance on getting you out of the game by calling you with a good hand. Poker pro’s use the bluff like a medical ointment; sparingly.

 

Practice Practice Practice

Now you know the secrets, you’ll be keen to sharpen your teeth and add another scratch into the bedpost of success. This can be accomplished VERY easily from the comfort of your own home. Either by arranging a night-in with friends, or by playing online.

 

If you want to play online, the easiest and best way is to download the free http://pokerstars.net client. It’s the biggest poker site in the world, and for good reason. Here you’ll be able to play for free, to hone your skills and ensure you’re not losing money to every closet-professional on the client. You can even play on your tablet or smartphone. When you’ve built up confidence you can have hours of fun taking play chips until you’re ready to graduate into a real cash game. Most of which can be entered for less than the cost of a pack of gum and can win you enough for a free coffee.

 

Practice, practice, practice and build from there. I look forward to hearing your success stories.