Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Another day, another lesson learnt

What have we learnt today? – Apart from the obvious, that people aren’t queuing up to buy our DVD – The money we have spent on print advertising has shown no returns. Someone once said “half the money we spend on advertising is wasted, problem is we don’t know which half” That about sums it up.

There was much excitement in the office today, not because we turned the heating on for the first time, but because we got another sale that was not from one of the 3Fs (Friends, Family & Fools). It is our second sale from Yorkshire. Obviously they have very discerning taste.

We put the wheels in motion today for our advice day for computer novices at the Cornerstone arts centre in Didcot on the 29th of November. We are having problems thinking of a title for the day…if anyone thinks of one that we like they could be in line for a free DVD.

We had a tour of the Cornerstone and what a great building it is, not just the theatre where the acoustics are tremendous and the seating very versatile and cunningly hides away when not required, but the available meeting rooms and dance studio are extremely light and airy and all the staff are friendly and helpful. It deserves to be well supported by the local community. If you live in the Didcot area have a look at what is on and pay them a visit. There is such a variety of performances that you are bound to find something that is to your taste.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Dagenham - a special place close to our hearts...

It was a Sunday evening, the weekend was dragging and darkness had arrived early upon the Just Do It Guides sales team. It was a few days since the last sale, and realisation was setting in for the Sales force, consisting of two former IT Support Experts turned Video Producers that a mountain had to be climbed, and they had to learn fast.

We had this magical vision, blinded by naivety that the whole population would be queuing up to by our DVD, a product they`d never seen or never heard of. We were over confident, but without it we would never had managed to produce a full 6 hour DVD set, so perhaps it was a blessing. With many things planned, with the help of the amazing FRS Marketing, confidence had dropped but was still high.

Then, suddenly a ding and an order on Amazon!! Excitement was suppressed until it was confirmed the order was not a friend or family member, but a wonderful man we will never meet. Unless of course we sell a bundle, in which case we`ll take him out for a big slap up meal.

This order means a lot at this stage, a real boost, we just hope we get some good feedback. A gloomy weekend, with a brighter end.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Its National Get Online Day today

Its national “Get Online Day” today ( I couldn’t find any cards in Clintons – they must be slipping up) We are offering £3 off every DVD sold to mark the occasion.

One in three adults in the UK still aren’t online, and this includes an estimated 25% of parents. Not being online means those families aren’t taking advantage of the information and benefits the internet has brought to the rest of the population. And it’s disadvantaged or poorer families who are most likely to be missing out.
The digital divide between the ‘haves’ and ‘have not’ of ICT is bigger than ever, and has an impact not just on the individual but on families, the economic and social health of communities, on political processes and public services. It’s time everyone had the skills, access and motivation to make digital choices and take digital opportunities.
By targeting families, the idea is that the digital natives in a family – often the children – will get the digitally divided involved. It’s a chance for families to share their ICT and internet skills, spend time together and learn how the internet could keep on helping in everyday family life

Is that the phone ringing

There was an air of gloom hanging over the garage today.
Despite being warned that the DVD’s would not be flying off the shelves on the first day of advertising, we hoped that the phone might ring a couple of times. But we waited in vain. The laughter and banter was replaced by a strained silence. Every time the phone rang our spirits lifted, but only for a short time, until we realised that it was not that first sale.

Dell. the postman provided some light relief however. He showed a great deal of interest in the DVD and after speaking to him we knew there were many, many people who would benefit form our DVD and it would only be a matter of time before we reached out target audience.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Pressing on...

We have quickly learnt Marketing is an art form, and should be left to the professionals. You can learn about Codecs or DVD authoring on the Internet, for Marketing, seek out someone with experience, and most importantly, someone who is damn good at it.

We have struck lucky, after joining the Didcot Chamber of Commerce, I spotted FRS Marketing, a local firm, so I made a phone call on instinct. 8 weeks on, we have nothing but admiration for Fiona Smart who fronts the company. A good marketing company, should quickly grasp your product and vision, and be able to produce a game plan that gives you confidence. Fiona did this plus more, she has booked us a big slot in Jump Ahead, a local magazine that goes to about 22,000 houses, she created a fantastic article (300 words) that covers our subject, and helps draw in a sale.

FRS Marketing are now working on flyers/postcards for us to dish out at the Didcot Street Fair, and other venues. As you would expect, a decent Marketing company prides itself on good communication, so make sure they offer this, otherwise, take your business elsewhere.

We have made 3 sales so far, with 3 gratis orders also. Jump Ahead comes out next week, we have press releases scheduled by Fiona for next month, it`s available on Amazon, eBay and our own website. And, to personal callers into the office, cheers Frank.

Emails are going out to friends and family, so let`s see sales ramp up over time. It`s still quite peaceful in the office here right now, we are hoping soon the phone will break the silence.

Order in the office ...

A explosion hit the office as the first order came through the website. It quickly extinguished when we realised it was a family member, but none the less, Graham Roberts from Newark goes down in history as Just Do It Guides very 1st customer, hopefully many more will follow.

The DVD was weighed, 78p for 1st class Royal Mail and it was hastily removed from our view, ready for its journey north.

Arriving less than 24 hours later, Graham, who doesn`t get much post couldn`t contain his excitement "I`ve always been proud of my brother, for taking the plunge and wanted to support him and Dave for their great idea. Not understanding computers myself, it was a product designed for me, but I`m going to take my time going through the whole 6 hours. I think it`s great, but then again I`ve got to say that."

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Ladies & Gentlemen...we got em...

It was 11 months of mental perspiration and self motivation that had driven us this far, but it was Dave`s Honda Civic negotiating the burnt out car smouldering on the hard shoulder of the M40 that was driving us on today.

We were en route to London, near Wembley to be slightly more precise. Reaching the DVD replication stage created a new problem due to our beginners' status - how do we master and replicate ? Help was at hand, an email to the ever helpful Nigel Cooper at brought back an instant response of 'use the VDC Group, one of the 3 reliable replication houses in the country'. After becoming confused with all the un-helpful information returned via a Google search, I decided to email VDC, and they responded within 30 minutes, with a very helpful and understanding manner which carried on all throughout the procedure.

As we were first timers, and only placing a small order we expected a low end of service but how wrong we were, a 1st class service, if you need CD or DVD replication we highly recommend the VDC Group, all the staff were fantastic. James Rowsell deserves a special mention for his patient, friendly and perfect example of how to look after your customers. Big pat on the back James, many thanks, even after handing them incorrect artwork and wrong tapes (basically, it all had to be re-created) he guided us onto success!! And a big thanks to Mike Seaman for the tour around the engine room, where the DVDs are created, it should be on your 50 things to do before you die list!

The boxes were loaded into the Civic, we said our thanks and goodbyes and headed home, eager to have a peep but we resisted till back in the office.

There was almost some emotion on our faces as we amazed over the wrapped up disc set, it was our work, perfectly crafted by VDC Group ready to sell, but too good to open!! We had arrived on the scene, all we had to do now, was sell them!!!

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

It’s a lonely job…….

I am all alone in my little studio recording lessons for our internet site. Well actually it’s my dining room. It’s not the perfect spot. If you listen carefully you can hear the washing machine, the postie at the door and the damn cat meowing to be fed.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Advertising………another black art

Fiona, our marketing guru, has been advising on our advertising strategy and has opened a few doors which have secured a great article, a front page banner, and an associated advertisement in Jump Ahead, an Oxfordshire magazine which has a circulation of around 25,000. She said it is a small start – It looks like the start of a roller coaster ride to me.
I thought I would have a bash at this advertising lark myself. So I designed an advert. It took me nearly 2 days to produce an advert 6.4cm by 8.8cm and it still looks rubbish. Nothing ventured nothing gained, so I have reserved a spot in the November edition of the Woodcote Correspondent (circulation 2,500).
Watch this blog to see which advert gets the best ROI (I don’t know what it means but it has something to do with the black art of marketing).

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

PC & Laptop suppliers miss the point….

As I write this I have just seen an advert for a laptop on TV and I am quite sure that it may as well have been in a foreign language for many people. It was boasting about the number of gigabytes, the amount of memory and an Intel Duo processor. I find it quite frustrating that many PC and Laptop suppliers seem to be alienating large numbers of their potential customers by describing specifications rather than functionality. I hope people see our DVD in going some way in redressing this issue by explaining everything in plain and simple terms.

The moment of truth....

We have everything in place to dispatch the first DVDs and on Wednesday ( 15th Oct ) we pick them up from the replicators. Advertising, on a small scale, is ready for the end of October and hopefully you will find them on Amazon and E-Bay within the next couple of weeks.
We will soon find out if the ethos we employed in making the DVD is what our target audience want. All that time and effort waiting to be judged by people that we don’t know and who have no idea how much effort and care has been put into creating this product – Scary stuff

Replicate, replicate...

After many hours struggling with the extreme temperatures in the office, and experiencing something more damaging than El Nino - Codec & Render Hell we achieved success. We had a slight issue, what started out as a 2 hour DVD, ended up as 6 hours. It was to be two dual layer, DVD9 discs with a 16 page booklet, shopping list and form all nicely packaged.

Nigel Cooper from (great site for anything about video making, equipment etc) recommended us to VDC Group in London, who are the top DVD or CD Replication house in the country, so we embarked on learning a new lingo. Do you understand about EAN13, DDP, CMF,CMYK, CSS,IPR or even Document Bleed ? No ? Well, nor did we. Luckily for us, the VDC Group have been bloody great to us, can`t praise them enough, it must be frustrating to have novices like us!!

We dropped off four lovely LTO tapes as masters, and drove off rejoicing at our accomplishment, only to be told a few days later we`d supplied the wrong format tapes, and they couldn`t use them. Heads dropped in the office, silence broken by Dave`s feeble plea for a strong coffee. We hadn`t read the manual, so, after a quick glance at what we should have been doing, in preference to us knowing best we despatched the correct format for the masters, and made minor adjustments to the artwork.

Time after was tense, any email or phone call greeted with apprehension and some and freezing of all reflexes for a second or two.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

A year on, where we are now...

A year has flown past, it started as an idea, an unrealistic aim by us, Dave Murdoch & Dave Roberts. From wild idea conceived in the White Hart Public House, Harwell Village to the VDC Group in London for replication of 1000 DVD sets.

We were kindly made redundant by a Blue Chip company after 50 joint years slaving in IT Support. Our minds craved more than fixing blue screens of death, login issues, printers failing and constant complaints about system performance, oh and of course the laptop that died thousands of miles away, and it was our fault!! If you`ve worked in IT Support, you know what I mean.

So, I did some brilliant filming courses at the OFVM in Oxford, read and learnt in work`s time so I was up to speed for my Video Production company (Concept Filming). My plan, a foolish one was to take on the BBC guys with heaps of experience with a Corporate Fronting company offering top flight production. It was then my ex-boss called me an irresponsible parent of two young children. His suggestion ? Why not use old and new skills ?

With not knowing what was to follow, off we went to script all the essentials of Everyday Home Computing. A brain storming lesson lasting 3 days, then 4 weeks of scripting gave us 16,000 words, about 50 lessons, lots of graphics and video examples. Was it possible ?