top secret 5 point post-a4uexpo plan

Between my massage on the first day of the a4uexpo and the bar closing at the post-party, I’d already made my five point plan to keep me busy and profitable over the next six months.

It wasn’t a hard decision to come to, as I’d already started talking to a few people close to home about my future plans. It was just that the sessions at the Excel and the subsequent chats at the Fox and Novotel hotel bar, confirmed my ideas.

So this is what I’m doing in the coming weeks and months to enhance my business, which is currently focussed on Shop Codes UK.


Shop Codes is 18 months old and is now known around the affiliate industry by my presence on the Affiliates4u site. It was clear to me though that some people at some networks didn’t know much about me or my site.

At the moment I have three brands. There is “Ray Theakston”, the cheeky little Northern chap. There’s “Befuddle” which is my company name, pseudonym and name of my celebrity site that made its first affiliate sale on 25th October 2000.

Then there’s “Shop Codes”. You wouldn’t think that would be a difficult brand to master but in this post already I’ve used both “Shop Codes” and “Shop Codes UK”. Did you spot that? I have recently experimented with targeting non-UK merchants and so the brand will be important to tie down. Especially for where I want to drive the site in 2008 and 2009.


I’ve a designer working on redesigning my site to make it more professional whilst keeping the flavour of it’s ‘back-bedroom’ roots. Only last week he showed me a printout of a potential new home page. I liked what I saw. The design is not too different to where the site is today.

I didn’t want it to look too corporate but importantly I didn’t want to lose its good conversation rate. It was only the first draft too and so I look forward to further iterations.


I manually edit my site by hand and whilst it’s built using php, I still have to manually edit the files when the voucher codes expire. With the growing number of codes, I’ve found this is too time consuming, particularly at the end of the month, when typically 10% of existing codes expire.

So, I’ve had a meeting with a developer and talked through my requirements for a content management system. The plan is to have a simple solution in place for the first pass so that we can see what content is delivered by automated processes. As a part time affiliate, a CMS system will provide a lot of ease and will move me forward to my fourth and fifth plans.


If only I knew session 10 existed I wouldn’t have had to chew so many ears for the first two nights and day about lack of mobile advancement by the merchants and networks.

I was amazed by some of the negativity about mobile but PriceRunner seem to be doing well out of it, according to Gary Goodman, MD of ValueClick.

Many are clearly not thinking about mobile in 2007 and I bet when I see them at a4uexpo in 2008 they won’t be thinking about mobile for 2009. However, in those ‘lost’ years consumers are spending millions on mobile phone content and services.

I’m staking my claim for a bit of the plot as I type. I’ve a company working on developing my Shop Codes website for mobile. I took the opportunity to speak to several networks on how I can monetise the platform and extract revenue from my exclusive codes. These talks will obviously progress more seriously, rather than over a beer, once I’ve launched on that platform.


I’ve currently no interactivity on my Shop Codes site and so I shall be expanding on User Generated Content. I don’t just want methods for users to submit codes that I can then approve but I want it for B2B purposes. I often get sent emails from merchants to promote codes. However, they don’t have affiliate schemes and so sometimes I don’t promote them.

With mobile there will be plenty of opportunity for user-generated content too with text messaging of codes.

BRAND (20%), DESIGN (20%), CMS (20%), MOBILE (20%), UGC (20%)

There’s a lot of work to be done. Isn’t it the case that If i make a start or improve on each of those by 20%, I’ll see an 80% benefit?

There’s no timetable for the work to start and end but if I can have them all in place by Spring 2008, that will give me 6 months to assess what improvements they’ve brought me in terms of traffic, loyalty, revenue, exclusive content and industry respect.

I’ll then go into a4uexpo 2008 with a pad ready to draw up my next five-point plan. See you there!

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3 Responses to “top secret 5 point post-a4uexpo plan”

  1. Some good stuff in there Ray, and a few points I’ll also be working on. We can watch each others efforts with interest.

  2. […] If I were to take this option it would be approximately 9 months away anyway, allowing me to build on my 5 point plan. If I say a Facebook application is 6th on my list, then Sabbatical is certainly there at number 7. […]

  3. […] Since I blogged on Saturday about a4uexpo many more have put their experiences in to print notably the wonderful Elaine Forth and rising star Ray Theakston, if you have taken the plunge and published something about ‘the expo’ add your details to Have you blogged about a4uexpo? on the a4uforum and you will get the credit you deserve. […]