Sir Gordon Bennett’s Neil Elliot shares the pleasure and the pain of their first months live (episode 225)

Neil Elliot is the founder of Sir Gordon Bennett a retailer dedicated to helping us all buy better, and buy British. Stocking a range of gorgeous brands the business launched in November 2018, and after half a year of trading and a lot of testing and measuring they have achieved sales of £7k to date, and are on the cusp of launching a big marketing campaign.

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About the Business

  • Based in Britain
  • Heavy Curation relies on quality over quantity
  • Uses WordPress with Woo-Commerce

From Ad Man to Curator and Purveyor

Neil Elliot has had a varied career and describes himself as a creative at heart. He’s been a record producer and a working artists and received his degree from University with a major in Design and Media Management.

With that under his belt Neil went into the world of advertising as a career copywriting and worked his way up—eventually running campaigns with huge accounts like Procter & Gamble.

Neil’s job was an international one and he worked with other professionals from all over the world. From Brazil to Germany, Neil’s network was a truly international one. He says the funny banter between his co-workers and himself is part of what gave him the idea to start Sir Gordon Bennett.

Everyone seemed to agree that British culture and craftsmanship were top notch. While he was living in Germany for work, Neil spent many idle hours in a heavily curated import shop. The goods there were incredibly thoughtful and well curated and it sparked the idea of starting a shop of the best of British goods—all together in one spot.

The Team

Sir Gordon Bennett is still a shiny new company, and the team remains small. Initially conceived as a brick and mortar store, Neil’s decision to go entirely eCommerce has allowed him and his business partner—brother-in-law Dan—to work remotely in order to get the company going.

Neil is based in Bristol and Dan is based in Stratford-upon-Avon. Dan runs the backside and logistics piece alongside his full time job while Neil focuses on marketing, brand, PR and being the face of the brand. The two are planning on expanding into the United States next.

It’s all about the Brand

It’s no surprise coming from an advertising professional that Sir Gordon Bennett will be an incredibly brand reliant company. Neil says that their target demographic is more quality over quantity and that the brand idea of the company is what pulls customers in—not cheaper prices or convenience.

With that squared away, Neil has been hyper aware of building a compelling visual story. This reliance on visually specific brand building means that Neil went in a surprising direction with the website and opted for a bespoke WordPress site with Woo-Commerce capabilities over Shopify or similar platform.

Prioritizing Testing

Even though the company is new, Neil says that they’ve already been paying attention to who is noticing Sir Gordon Bennett. The results are surprising and Neil says they’ve noticed two major trends—self gifting and gift giving.

It’s no surprise that Sir Gordon Bennett is targeting people looking to buy better and Neil knows that he is curating a shop for people who don’t buy cheap, but buy carefully. The Sir Gordon Bennett customers are somewhat split between buying smaller thoughtful gifts for other people and those investing in quality, heirloom type pieces for themselves.

Products like Fox umbrellas embody the spirit of buying the best quality everyday objects and Neil knows that is not an impulse sort of decision. Neil has been paying close attention to where his customers are coming from and is trying to ‘not muddy the waters’ by not doing too many different things at once.

Already he’s noticed that PPC isn’t the company’s best tactic and that visual branding is working—something Neil is already comfortable with.

Looking to Print

Neil has started branching into print advertising by connecting with magazines and lifestyle outlets that reflect the same sensibilities as the Sir Gordon Bennett brand.

The team also hopes to do a cross country tour and get in touch with their customer base in real life. Neil says that connecting in person will help not only grow awareness of the brand but will help him understand what customers want more.

eCommerce Book Top Tip

Hear our interview with Michael E Gerber

eCommerce Traffic Top Tip

  • Work with subscription companies to include a physical product in their boxes. Unique products fit well with influencers and subscription box.
  • Building a visual brand through social platforms like Instagram

Tool Top Tip

  • Telephone. Neil chats on the phone with his partner Dan every day. He says that the telephone resolves issues internally much quicker

Growth Top Tip

  • Brand and loyalty building

Interview Links

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