As the train sped me towards Edinburgh last Friday, I was mesmerised by the sheer quantity of YELLOW all around.  The bountiful oil seed rape flowers spread towards the horizon in every direction.  Then as we shot towards Edinburgh and the terrain became much more hilly, the gorse bushes left great splodges of eggy yellow against the harsh backdrop of the craggy and grey terrain.

Edinburgh truly lived up to its hype and we found we were romanced by its history, stunning architecture and fabulous people.  Dominating the sky was the castle itself which was incredibly spectacular as we gazed up at it in awe from the endless row of Princes Street shops at its foot.

On Saturday, we zipped around in each of the five open topped buses with their varying routes which sought out many superb spectacles.  Enthusiastic guides excited us with incredible information and advertising discounts to be had at various sites.  We hopped on and off buses all day long, scurrying about and feeling like we’d seen it all!

Tour bus

On the buses!

For me, Grassmarket with its tiny pubs and eateries seemed to be the true beating heart of the city.  We stopped for a coffee there which was better than any I’ve tasted and in the smallest cafe I’ve ever known.   From where we were sitting, we spotted some impossibly steep steps leading up to the castle.

I didn’t want to leave there but it was our last chance to hike up to Edinburgh’s famous castle and peer down on the ancient city below.  It was at the halfway point that I realised that slacking off from my gym visits had not been a good idea!  But hauling myself up the last set of stone slabs brought my pounding heart to a magnificent destination.

After spending some time up there we began to follow the crowd down the ancient cobbled street, marvelling at how many millions of feet must have traversed the same path over thousands of years.  Very soon we came across the massive cathedral of St Giles.  The stained glass windows were some of the most beautiful we’d ever seen.

It was then that I recognised a couple of landmarks and realised that several times we had passed the easy route up to the castle as it had been obscured by the impact of the cathedral architecture.  Oh deep joy – NOT!

Along either side of The Royal Mile, which stretched all the way to The Palace of Holyrood House, were tiny shops set into ancient stone terraced buildings.  They were almost exclusively selling tartan clothing and silly hats with ginger hair protruding beneath.  Only one stood out from the crowd though.  ‘Ness’ displayed jaunty clothing and natty handbags in fabulously modern and colourful checked fabric, in glorious pinks and eye-catching teal.  Clever designers had clearly thrown all the rule books out of the window and created gorgeously chic and highly desirable items.  Instead of dummies wearing traditional kilts and tweed jackets, they had silky shirts with minute ducks flying upside down and quirky little tartan corsages.

What this company did was break the rules by defying and twisting tradition.  They thought differently and were attracting new customers because of their distinction from the rest even though they were the interlopers up against the giants of the historical traders!

How can you apply this kind of innovative thinking in your business?  Does your website blend in with or emulate others in your town?  Are you sticking a generic advert in the local paper every week and finding not much is happening to increase business?

Recycling newspaperAs you might have gathered before, I really am not a fan of adverts and advertising!  When you get one of those calls from an agent in the local paper offering you an incredible deal if you opt in now, think long and hard about how many people need to book in with you in order to pay for it.  Whilst it’s good to always be ready to grab an opportunity, it’s also advisable not to make a knee jerk reaction to a silver tongued sales exec hungry for commission.  As one of my Clients wisely said today, “Advertising is like peeing in a wetsuit; it gives you a warm feeling for a short time but nobody sees you have done it.”

I’m afraid that these days, those newspapers are hitting the recycling bins faster than ever before.

It’s crucial to have a range of marketing methods at your disposal and to consistently get your name in front of your target audience.  Because when they have a need for an Osteopath, your name will float into their consciousness and they will search you out.  If you’re not marketing persistently, you won’t even appear on their radar as an option for treating their pain.

I’ve only been back home for a few hours now but I’m still hankering after one of Ness’s cute handbags.  That’s how quickly and effectively they made an impact and grabbed my attention from all the other significant action around them.  I can’t remember the name of a single other shop in that Royal Mile.  But, between you and me, the handbag arrives Thursday…