Help! My Business Sucks!

By Lauren Simonds | Posted January 08, 2009

Every business owner knows the expression "think outside the box," and while creative convention-breaking can deliver more customers and bigger profits, it's not always easy to escape the more traditional marketing mindset.

Enter Andrew Lock, a British import bent on helping small business owners increase profits through unconventional marketing methods that help them stand out from the crowd. Or, as he puts it, "Get more done and have more fun."

Lock is the creator and host of Help! My Business Sucks, a 10-minute-long Web TV show that airs weekly and provides practical marketing tips, lessons learned from major brands and lots of helpful online-resources that Lock dubs "Nifty Clicks."

Even as a child, Lock leaned toward the unconventional. Instead of a traditional paper route he instead devised a potato-delivery service to the older residents in his town. This plan not only let him work after school and avoid working at 5 a.m. in freezing cold British winters, it also earned him 20 times more money than his friends who delivered newspapers.

Lock got his professional start managing Paul Daniels, a popular British magician and television performer. "He was our Johnny Carson," said Lock. "He was also a genius at business and marketing. I learned a lot from him about how to get noticed in business."

He also worked extensively in TV production and came to combine his interests in marketing, broadcasting and technology. Help! My Business Sucks, which aired its first episode in April 2008, is the result. "Every week we put together practical ways for businesses to get noticed," he said. "I see entertaining as a way to inform. If learning is painful, then what's the point?"

The show's production values are high, as you'll see when you view the episode below, and Lock's style is relaxed, irreverent and very funny. Each episode finds him seated at set behind a talk-show style desk. He wears assorted tongue-in-cheek t-shirt with phrases like Come to the Dark Side…We Have Cookies, Have You Hugged a Marketing Specialist Today or, our favorite, Made in England.

Of course, the humor is what greases the educational process, and Lock offers plenty of tips, advice and examples of how you can better market your business. A sample of past topics include, How to Improve Your Web Site on a Limited Budget, Animating Yourself with SitePal and How to Sell in a Crowded Market,

The show's done well, so well said Lock, that it's the number one marketing Web show in the iTunes store beating out Harvard Business Review, Advertising Age, and Business Week. Each show has one sponsor, an updated throwback to the days of advertising from the 1950s and 60s.


"I never liked conventional advertising," said Lock. "It's becoming less and less effective. Over time, people train themselves to ignore it. " He added that with DVRs such as Tivo, that let you fast-forward through commercials, advertisers are turning to the Web.

Lock acknowledges the sponsor during the show, and each sponsor provides a benefit for the viewers, such as offering online training videos. "It's a much smarter way of monetizing the show, and everyone likes it," he said.

In addition to his Web show, Lock is also the author of the following books: Magical Marketing; How to Shoot, Edit & Distribute HDV; eBay Exposed!; and Seven Unconventional Ways to Profit from eBay.

We're also happy to announce that starting this month, Andrew Lock will be writing a Nifty Clicks column here at Small Business Computing. He has a knack for finding online resources, many of them free, and you'll be able to check them out soon.

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!


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