Northern Powerhouse SMEs are leaving their songs left unsung

Since moving back to Lancashire 3 years ago after nearly 20 years down south, I’m still struck by the differences in culture between companies based here and in the Greater London sprawl. The North West has been welcoming and open in ways even I, as a returning Lancastrian, wasn’t expecting.

For innovation, this is a very good thing. Openness lets ideas breed.
Like many other areas of the country outside London, the historically industrious North West is quietly getting on with running and building business prosperity without waiting for the power of the region to be unleashed by government funds.
In contrast to the clipped certainty of the London start-up scene, entrepreneurs and business owners here often seem more humble. Their business focus tends to be on getting the product right. Making sure the groundwork is done properly. Not shouting about how big the company is going to be in 5 years time unless there is very clear evidence that this projection will become reality.

Full order books have kept many companies in the North West away from marketing.
The thing that turned me in to a more vocal champion for the area was that from the outside, it can look like there is not much going on. Like we might not understand business because we live outside London. But then you look at the bottom lines of some of the region’s home-grown companies. And you realise how big their potential is, if anyone had actually heard of them.
Marketing – delivering what customers want, profitably – is not something that Unilever does because it has the luxury of a huge advertising budget. Marketing is the translation of business objectives into a relevant set of clearly communicated products or services, based on a sound understanding of customer needs. We have to get past the evaluation of marketing as a cost. It is an investment that will grow your bottom line, or it has no business existing.

Shouting about your latest deal on Twitter does not equal effective digital marketing.
In 2017 we need to get our message across more clearly. We can all be effective advocates for the innovation and growth potential that exists in our region. This year, let’s get more Northern Powerhouse companies singing loud enough to be heard on a national and international stage.

Jane Dalton, Founding Director at Groundswell Innovation @JDGroundswell
Prolific North Live – Stand 185, just opposite the BBC at Stand 37.