Ahead of hosting a Business Breakfast Marketing Masterclass in Exeter, Chris Moss, the man who gave us 118 118, Orange Mobile and Virgin Atlantic spoke to Marc and Dan from Astley Media about purpose, Brexit and giving yourself breathing space!

Dan opened the conversation by asking Chris if Brexit was a threat or an opportunity. And in typical Chris Moss style, he turned the conversation to… tomatoes!

Chris: “We are spoon-fed Brexit – how terrible and expensive it is going to be. But part of me is thinking this could be the greatest opportunity for so many years, giving us permission to go out and do things differently.

“I was thinking about tomatoes. Where do they come from – Spain, Italy? Yet tomatoes in England, at the right time of year, are delicious. Scottish raspberries are lovely.

“We’ve got used to everything being available all year round, and that creates a level of blandness, a loss of authenticity. In France, the food goes through seasonal cycles. We’ve lost that here. We now might have opportunities to do things differently.

“For businesses and as consumers, maybe we’re looking at the greatest ‘what if opportunity’ in over 30 years?

“The most delicious ice-cream I have ever tasted was in Devon, made by a Devon company. That blows away all other companies putting out hundreds of products a year because it’s all about authenticity. That’s what we want as consumers. I fear for companies on the treadmill of having to do more this year than last year.

“I love brands with a whole eco-system, like Patagonia. Brands built from the base up rather than something that’s emerged from the marketing department, that’s really important to me.

“For a small business it’s just the same. You have to believe in your product.

Is it a real story? People get that – stories that are actually true to themselves.

“Businesses in our regions actually have an advantage because of Brexit. Stories built around local products, and local environments will have an edge.”

Marc asked if Chris felt brands were paying enough attention to their higher purpose in a world where so many similar companies, were offering similar services or products for a similar price.

Chris: “Brands have always had to have a purpose in what they do and many marketeers have forgotten the truth about brands and what they represent.

“It’s becoming more and more important. Your purpose isn’t just to make money. Consumers will hold your feet to the fire and ask: ‘Are you true, can I trust you?’ Businesses need to go back to their roots and understand why they exist and what is their purpose.

“So many businesses are doing the free giveaway but who is actually paying for this? Consumers understand that things cost money, and they understand what is just a marketing ploy.

“Businesses with a real purpose have real pride in their product and a passion to continue to grow. That means investing in themselves so people have to pay for it and if it’s good enough they will.”

Marc asked whether technology and the 24-hour society were detrimental to doing good business.

Chris: “So many businesses I talk to are completely focused on the day to day and never think about how consumers interact with other people, what are the opportunities there.

“Businesses need time to think. I do lot of flying which gives me space to think. Some of the best ideas we get are when we have a chance to relax.

“There’s a company that shuts email down every Friday 11am-1pm. It has an amazing effect. People get up from their desk, walk, talk and communicate more. They have time to think. They know they aren’t going to be interrupted. Dividing our time so we have time to daydream is very important because we all need time to think.”

Dan asked about changes in the workplace and whether the South West holds advantages as a place to do business.

Chris: “I really believe that we as a nation are going into a massive tipping point. We will look back in 20 years and recognise the amazing changes in our work life.

“We are going to change the way we work, and where we work, in part because of technology. People do better work when they are happier. They will want to live and work in the best places, in different types of workspaces. “The South West has so many advantages that are going to be in demand.

“There will be more home working, a huge growth in shared offices. If you live within the Home Continues, the rail networks are not going to get any easier. I regularly do an hour journey on the train and have to stand all the way. That’s not living. That’s just marking time.

Dan asked what Chris thought the prospects for the regions were in an ever-changing word.

Chris: “For me, where you work and how you work and the people you work with are as important as the jobs you are actually doing. The South West has incredible advantages in this respect.

“The whole of the South West has a real richness that you don’t seem to find in many places. It attracts people with like-minded ideas and positive approaches to life.

“We created Orange Mobile in Bristol. The people were brilliant. Our Plymouth call centre was the best – the positive response of people, their friendliness.

“Regional identity is so important. California has done that really well.

“What is our country renowned for? Creativity. The whole of the South West is packed with creativity. You can’t buy what has built up over centuries – hundreds of years of heritage, the wonderful environment, the chilled mentality it seems to instill in people. No brand can match that.”

The final tickets for the Business Breakfast Masterclass with Chris Moss are available at http://wearelikeminds.com/index.php/april-28th-exeter-business-breakfast-with-chris-moss/

Chris will also be appearing at the Like Minds International Ideas Festival coming to Exeter in September 2017. Click here for more information.