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Diary of a Sharemark float: The importance of marketing

James Hunt is a solicitor, serial entrepreneur and founder of Everyman Legal?” a new type of law firm providing legal services for entrepreneurs. The company of solicitors is the first in the UK to announce it will take advantage of the new practising regime created under the Legal Services Act by seeking a stock market admission. The company intends to trade its shares on Sharemark a stock market for smaller companies in the last quarter of 2012. In an honest and open account for Real Business, James Hunt will be charting the ups and downs of preparing his company for an admission.

This fortnight has all been about preparing for and executing a sales pitch for a succession planning tool that we have developed.

The last three months have led us to this point. We have defined our ideal prospect and our value proposition and this product sits in that framework. Now we have a series of presentations to accountants in Oxfordshire.

With our ambitious plans to franchise the Everyman Legal brand and use admission to Sharemark to grow that franchise, this is a fundamental step in the process. Unless we can systemise a sales and marketing plan around the brand we will have nothing to offer our franchisees. We need a growth story to tell investors as we move onto Sharemark.

Barnaby Wynter of the Brand Bucket Company, our brand and marketing consultant, comes to Witney to help us with the preparation of a PowerPoint presentation. This is important for him as well as us. Now the theory of the brand must be turned into a practical reality including a sales pitch.

The whole of the management team is together and engages in the process of creating the sales pitch. We are lucky to have Steve Fernback, a very experienced finance director as part of our management team. Steve works for Oasis Europe who help owner-managers sell their companies. So he has practical, hands on experience of selling companies from the owner’s perspective.

We have a lively session from which a presentation is created. Barnaby then creates a design brief which he shares with us, allowing him to effectively brief a creative graphic artist. Five days later, the Witney team gathers around a TV monitor to receive the modified presentation.

For me the presentation is a revelation: the creative process working from the ideal prospect and the value proposition is captured in a new look and feel for Everyman Legal. At the heart of the presentation sits our core offering in a single diagram: the Everyman Legal audit tool.

Some months ago I had naively briefed my own graphic artist to create that diagram. The result was truly awful: the graphic artist, a very clever and creative man had simply done what I had asked him to do. But I did not have the skill to brief him.

So another very valuable lesson has been brought home to me this fortnight. The importance of the team and how marketing must sit at the very heart of all that we do.

Research shows that 95 per cent of companies are started by technicians (people like me!) who do not understand marketing. In a flash I am reminded of engineers I have worked with as clients in the past. Great engineers but who did not have the good fortune to find a great marketer to take their products to the market.

With our marketing plan in place I must now turn my attention to next week’s sales pitch.


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