How have podcasts shot to success?

The earliest podcast dates back to sometime in the early 2000’s but it wasn’t until the 2010’s that the medium really started to gain momentum. Currently, the number of podcasts available is fast approaching 1,000,000. Despite a world that’s dominated by so much visual content, listeners have continued to grow year on year. Whatever you’re interested in, there’s probably a podcast for that.  

So, the question is: how did this new form of radio become one of the most successful forms of media on a global scale? After all, the average marketing video has roughly 60 seconds of audience attention before someone will switch off. So how does these episodes (usually lasting around an average 40 minutes) still listened to for 90% of their duration? Let’s take a look. 

The ability to multitask.

Unlike TV, film and online video content, consuming podcasts doesn’t require you to be stationary for any length of time. You can be going about your business all while catching up on the latest episode of your favourite show. Some creators film their episodes and upload them to YouTube but the primary way of consuming the medium is still simply listening. 

The most common instances people choose to listen to podcasts are while driving, working out, and doing household chores; likely because they can improve what can be a mundane task. 

There really is something for everyone. 

Variety truly is the spice of life. This year, the top five categories have been society & culture, business, comedy, health, news & politics. Every one of these categories has numerous sub sections and sub categories to suit every need and niche you could possibly wish for. 

We all love listening to discussions about the things we’re passionate about. Often, we want to learn as much as we can about a topic and podcasts often allow us to become experts in our own right. Alternatively, comedy podcasts serve as pure and simple entertainment; a way of escaping day the day. There’s even podcasts to help with you guided meditation and getting you off to sleep at night. 

Building communities.

The more popular these podcasts have become, their audiences have grown both in size and diversity. Much like beloved TV shows and films, devoted fans find one another and form communities. Such is the popularity of podcasts, many of them have gone on to write accompanying books, release additional merchandise and even produce live shows to international acclaim. 

For example, particularly popular podcasts are now seeing the demand to take the shows on the road. Some have played large, prestigious venues around the world. Their dedicated fans flock to the theatres to hear additional material and get to know their online community. 

There are a number of popular business podcasts available for those wanting to work on personal development, hear stories from other like minded people or have a laugh at some of the failures we all make along the way. 
A number of our partners already host successful podcasts, sharing their expertise and unique point of view. If you’ve always wanted to start a podcast but not quite known where the best place to start is, The Northern Affinity is now offering podcasting as part of our services. You can find more information here.

Mission, vision, values: what are they and why do you need them?

Your mission, vision and values are the very foundation of your business. They help you know what you do, why you do it, how you do it and where you’ll go in the future. Without them, things get murky and you might feel you’re lacking direction. It’s easy for these things to become generic and meaningless if they’re not considered carefully. Here, we’ll look at what a mission, vision and set of values really mean and how you can build a true reflection of your business. 


‘If you look at every successful business in the world, there is often one common theme: they live their mission. Their Vision, Mission and Values are core to every decision made; they run through the culture of the organisation and they are the basis of every marketing message. These things give you targets and allow you to set clear and measurable goals for the business, and so by defining and using them, you’re giving yourself a really clear focus.’

Laura Norman, Chroma Marketing


Have you ever gone to a company’s website, scrolled for five minutes and been none the wiser as to what they actually do? Your mission should serve as a functional statement (one or two sentences) that summarises what you do; allowing your customers to get a snapshot of you. Think of it as an even more concise elevator pitch. 

Be specific. It’s no good saying the same old thing as your competitors. When put side by side, what makes your offering stand out from the crowd? Is it the use of specific innovative technology? Do you work with a niche section of your market that your competitors have glossed over?  

Consider what your customers want or need from your business. Have you included a benefit statement within your mission? Remember, your customers want to know how they stand to gain from working with your business. 


When we set out in business, we all go in with goals and aspirations. These are the things you should keep in mind when you write your company vision. It’s a glimpse into the future; what do you want your legacy to be? How will you leave your industry a better place than it was before? 

Again, being able to summarise this concisely in a single statement will have huge impact when new potential customers and clients come across your business. Not only this, consider the power of your vision when thinking about hiring in the future. Candidates want to know they’re working with a business that’s going somewhere. You can show them with one well written statement. 


We all have them. We all put them on our website. But what are they? Your values are the things that make you tick; your ethos. Values are what help people connect with your business; they transcend demographics. In tough times, your values are what you can always come back to to remind yourself why you do what you do. 

A trap that many people fall into when creating values is picking attributes that people naturally expect from businesses. For example, most people would hope the business they’re working with acts with honesty and integrity. Those things should come as standard. What are the specific things that matter to you

Here’s a top tip. When designing your values, don’t think of them as a set of things to sell to your customer. Think of them as the things you would describe to a new recruit. What adjectives make up your working culture that will resonate with your customers? What do you live and breathe everyday? 

‘Your values are strong beliefs and actions and drive you to behave the way you do as a brand. They’re not made up or forced. Strongly defined values should come across through your messaging, behaviours and the work you do; there’s no need to add them to your website. If they’re not clear enough to your customers without explicitly saying what they are, it’s best to revisit them to make sure they’re as real and accurate as possible.’

Fliss Lee – Honest Folk

Why do you need them? 

When you put the three things together, you’re left with a perfect succinct summary of what you do and what matters to you – a great introduction to your business for both new staff and your clients and customers. Value based recruitment is a great way of building a team that is on the same wavelength as you

They also help to give you a clear picture of where you are and where you’re going with a way of doing it. As your business grows and evolves, you can instill these things into your teams to curate a company wide culture based on shared values and aspirations. 

So, is it time to dust off the mission, vision and values document? It’s natural for things to change as your business evolves. The ideas you originally wrote may no longer apply. Now’s the time to go back to the drawing board and start fresh. If you need help figuring out your mission, vision and values, several of our Northern Affinity partners can help you hit the nail on the head. Head to our partners directory and simply search for branding and marketing & digital. You’ll find all the experts you need. 

How a professional marketer can transform your business.

As the  world of  digital marketing becomes ever more saturated, it’s easy to see why some businesses get overwhelmed and so end up doing little or no marketing activity.

A few ads on social media on the likes of Facebook and LinkedIn will not cut it. Neither will writing the odd blog. Executing your marketing activities piecemeal will not get you the impact or the efficiencies that your business needs. 

There’s a whole range of on and offline activities that in combination with a highly focused message will create the impact and efficient use of budget you need. It’s a professional marketer that can help you with this. It’s not about spending as much as possible, it’s about working smartly, so that you can take your business and your brand to the next level.

Where to begin?  

Know your focus and create a brand with substance and real values. 

Anyone who has started a business will have done so because they’re passionate about what they do. The longer we’re in business, the easier it can be for us to lose sight of why we started. Your initial purpose for starting your business is your starting point here. This is your ‘why’, your reason for doing what you do with passion. 

Conversations around your why are vital. They are what creates and sets your brand voice apart. This will enable a professional marketer to develop key messages that show off what is unique about you and your business. Once your focus, brand and values are established you can shout about this in a consistent and ongoing way to your target audiences. Be known for exactly what you want to be known for, on and offline.

What’s your story? 

As business owners, our focus is often dragged in many different directions at once. Sometimes, it’s hard to see the wood for the trees. When you work with an experienced marketer, they will get to know you and your story. They’ll help you bring that to life for you through an overarching and cohesive strategy that is right for you and your business. Every marketing plan is bespoke to the business and its personal and unique story – your brand. 

Marketers can also help you hone in on specific campaign ideas with measurable goals against a mixed plan of marketing activities. A business owner that is focused with their marketing can execute activities with ease whilst they keep their attention and strengths on where they are best placed, concentrating on what they most enjoy. 

Connect with your audience

A marketing strategy with a plan creates multiple opportunities to connect with your customers in a unique way. An experienced marketer will work with you to find out where your audience consumes their content, what interests them and what their challenges are. This not only adds focus but also limits wasted time, effort and resources in undertaking individual, one-off marketing activities that don’t gain momentum or achieve consistency. 

A full marketing strategy also needs to include reporting to allow for review and refinements. An integrated approach to marketing is an ongoing journey that builds and improves over time. You learn along the way to make informed decisions around where budget is best placed in driving results that are aligned with your business strategy and goals. You want to know that anything you put out in the future is going to hit the nail on the head; something that’s significantly harder to do without that ongoing learning experience and embracing marketing as an ongoing necessity.

Embracing a full mix of online and offline marketing activities that directly relate to your business goals will elevate your business and drive demand. And, that unique story of yours is the key to what sets you apart. Get the bigger picture around your marketing to make your investment count.

Join The Conversation

Spencer Hayes Group, based in Rawtenstall and West Yorkshire, are a Commercial Insurance Brokerage that specialise in risk management solutions by making businesses more resilient against loss.

During the global pandemic, the team have been working tirelessly to help their clients and surrounding businesses receive help and find the solutions they need. Whether it’s creating specific solutions and schemes for businesses, sourcing products, launching new services, collaborations or new jobs – the list goes on.

Although Spencer Hayes Group isn’t alone in this, the entire community has come together to help one another in these difficult times.

Spencer Hayes Group came up with an idea to help save time and help those in need more effectively. The forum is specifically designed for companies and people to list or find offers and advice during this incredibly unique time. Posts can disappear on social media or become lost very easily, this solution is a lot more permanent and listed within the same place.

One of the biggest ways people can use this to their advantage is to help people looking for work, as companies can list that they’re searching for staff. It has been really common for people seeking HR advice and the forum has already seen HR specialists list their offers and give free advice.

The forum is split into industries and is open for anyone to use it. To post, all that you need to do is simply create an account or sign in with your Linked In account. The categories are split into specific specialisms, there’s also a general chat and a free & discounted section completely free for people to use.

The forum makes this extremely easy for people to navigate and find what they’re looking for. Along with giving people the ability to broaden their connections and be able to have general conversations.

Simply follow this link to access the forum, any posts are welcome from any industry, along with any ideas on how the forum can be improved.

If you have any further questions, simply contact

Social Media: is it worth it for my business?

Social Media is one of the biggest things to ever happen to marketing. Done well it can benefit businesses hugely; driving engagement, getting your brand out there and importantly, giving your business a personality. With over three billion users worldwide, the power of social media is not to be underestimated. But is social media worth it for my business? Let’s take a closer look. 

Get your brand out there!
80% of businesses using social media say their main objective is to increase their brand awareness. One of the main challenges we all face when we start a business is getting our name out there to key players in our field. We all rely on word of mouth and recommendations but why not utilise some of the biggest platforms around to put your business out to the world? 

Before you dive into your social media strategy, it’s a good idea to firstly sit down and create your brand strategy. One of our partners, Fliss Lee (Honest Folk) wrote a very helpful blog about what branding actually is. That way, you can be more confident that all your social media platforms will be consistent. You want your brand to be instantly recognisable, no matter where you are. 

Maximise your platforms to their full potential.
Similarly to if you were running a print, radio and TV ad simultaneously, think about how your approach might be subtly different on each platform. 

When designing your social media strategy, think about what your objectives are for each platform you’re using. For example, making a certain number of relevant connections on LinkedIn, how many retweets can you get on your latest campaign or increasing your website traffic by a percentage based on visitors from Facebook? 

Connect with current customers.
You’ve established your brand, you’ve set up your platforms, now what? Now is the time to have fun. Sprinkle your content with your personality. Give your audience a sense of you. 

Not only is social media an enormous marketing platform, it has revolutionised how businesses can run their customer service efforts. We can now engage with our customers like never before – getting direct feedback, finding out what services they want going forward, drumming up excitement about new projects. 

On the other side of the coin, your customers can get to know you – your values, your goals, your achievements. Be mindful of how much you decide to share with your followers. After all, this is your company social media profile, you want to make sure things are kept professional and strictly business. 

The world of social media can be a little overwhelming. How often do I post? What content do my followers want to see? If you have any questions, a number of partners within The Northern Affinity can help you to build the perfect social media strategy for you and your business. You can click here for more information on our partners.

Strategy: Business, Branding & Marketing


Our Partners Anna Short (Boo! Marketing), Brenda Etchells (Carduus Ltd) and Fliss Lee (honest Folk) sat down this week with Michael Edwards (The Northern Affinity) to discuss the vital connection between business strategy, brand & marketing that’s required for a strong & successful business. You can’t have any of these without the other, they work in synergy.

The outcome of this 25 min chat was that post-Covid19, businesses won’t be able to pick up where they left off with their strategy, they need to be rethinking this now, as the world & audiences’ mindsets are already changing. What worked before may not work in the near future – this places SMEs at an advantage as they can be agile enough to adapt quickly.

SMEs can capture the present situation to be relevant, adapt & refine in short stints. Long term plans just won’t cut it, so an ‘in the moment’, simple & practical approach will see you as prepared as can be.

The key takeaway here is to ADAPT NOW.

Make the simple connection between business goals, brand & marketing for a strong & consistent approach with deep-seated & meaningful values that you live & breathe.

Any questions let us know, we’re not an affinity for nothing, we’re here to support one another.

For more information about our featured partners click on their profile below;

Anna Short

Brenda Etchells

Fliss Gibbeson

Why are is the number of self-employed workers still rising in 2020?

The number of self-employed workers has been on the up in the UK since 2001. They now account for around 15% of the working population. The figures dramatically increased after the 2008 recession forced a lot of larger companies to downsize their teams. Suddenly a ‘job for life’ wasn’t such a guarantee. But why is the number of those taking the leap in to self-employment still on the rise in 2020?  

Addressing the work-life balance.
Life should never be all work and no play. The phrase ‘work-life balance’ still feels like a bit of a buzz word but an increasing number of studies show that it is something to address. With burnout in the workplace causing a rising number of serious physical and mental health issues, the WLB is not something to ignore.

Becoming self employed is not without its challenges. According to statistics, those who are self-employed tend to work more productively and gain greater gratification from their efforts. Flexible working hours allow you to tailor your day to best suit your body clock and life commitments; allowing you to be more productive during your working day. 

I want to take control of my work.
For a long time, the ‘side hustle’ wasn’t seen as a viable option for making a living. Nowadays it’s celebrated. More people than ever are choosing to follow their passion in life and turning it into a career, even if it means facing more challenges than they would have done in employment. 

Studies suggest that autonomy makes for more satisfied and productive workers. That’s what makes being your own boss so desirable. As well as being able to decide what projects you do and don’t take on, choosing your own hours in which to do those projects can make your working life much more gratifying. 

The growing popularity of apprenticeship schemes and training programmes gives young people a better sense of ownership over their work. Entrepreneurship is encouraged from a young age. Social media is largely held accountable for the large rise in young people becoming part time self-employed. Whilst it isn’t a traditional career path, the new age of digital advertising and influencer culture is a huge market. It means an increasing number of young people are able to make money from the comfort of their own bedrooms. 

Looking after mental health and wellbeing has become a bigger priority. Part of that is negotiating the best working life possible. With this in mind, it’s hardly surprising the number of people choosing to step away from the traditional 9-5 continues to rise. Technology advancements and the development of coworking spaces have made it easier than ever to start a business anywhere at any time; allowing more people to follow their career dreams and make them a reality.

The Northern Affinity Partners Meeting – Friday 31st January 2020

We enjoyed a fantastic partner event on Friday. It was a great opportunity to connect and share valuable knowledge. We will be hosting these events on the last Friday of every month at the Northern HQ

Business and Brand Strategy

Distinguishing a clear business and brand strategy can be confusing. However, we were lucky enough to hear from Brenda Etchells (Carduus Ltd) and Fliss Lee (Honest Folk) about combining the two to find the ‘sweet spot’ where your business values meet your customers values to create one cohesive strategy.

We have all experienced a business who don’t seem to practise what they preach when it comes to company values. We discussed at length the importance of defining your values; not just by using positive buzz words you think your customer wants to hear, but by delving in to what really matters to your customers and ingraining these in the way you run your business. 

Using some interesting examples, we learnt more about what makes up branding (it’s more than just a logo!) and how making some simple changes can strengthen your brand and help towards achieving your business goals.


Sales Mentality

In the afternoon, we welcomed Pete Evans (Ventas Sales) who took us through the sales process, with a difference. Identifying your sales mindset and knowing where your weaknesses are will ultimately improve your performance. Even simple things like putting your phone away before a pitch can make all the difference to your mindset when entering the room. 

One thing we often forget with sales is the importance of practising the process. Grab a friend or your business partner and go through your pitch so you’re confident before stepping into the room with the big players! There were lots of useful things to take away and I think we will all be spicing up our sales process and improving our mindsets to make sure we achieve our goals in sales.

The Northern Affinity News

Yorkshire Meetups

We are very grateful that many of you travel from far and wide to come and connect which is why we’re looking into arranging some future sessions in both Huddersfield and Harrogate to expand our community at The Northern Affinity. 

Dates for your diary: 

Our second round of peer group taster sessions will be running on Wednesday 26th February.
There will be a free open-day for hot deskers on Wednesday 27th February. Please share this with your connections who may be interested in trying out the co-working environment.
Sarah Bradley will be running a HR clinic on Wednesday 27th February for anyone wishing to discuss their HR strategy.
The next peer group coaching session for The Northern Affinity partners will be taking place on the morning of Friday 28th February before the next partner meeting. This meeting will be open for non-members to attend so please invite your connections along. Please contact Michael to reserve a space. 

For further details on The Northern Affinity and any upcoming events, please contact Michael.

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