Author: lisa

Christmas marketing – is it too late to plan?

As a rule of thumb when I work with clients we start planning Christmas marketing campaigns in June/July for promotion in August/September, with a final push in October/November.? Of course, this depends on what you?re selling.

Think about creating a month-by-month marketing plan and adding all the big occasions for marketing throughout the year ? Valentine?s Day, Mother?s Day, Easter, Summer Holidays, and Halloween etc.? Think about what products/services you are going to offer during these periods and how you will promote them.? This ensures that when the time comes it?s not all panic and you?re planned and prepared ? knowing what you are going to do well in advance.

You can get any brochures created, e-news campaigns planned and flyers at the ready.

However, if you?re a bit late off the mark, what I would suggest is doing a bit of?Facebook?advertising ? it is simple and cost effective and you get to see results.

Perhaps try emailing your mailing list (if you have one) with last minute offers.

Get in touch with the local press ? is there a press release you can send or an eye-catching photo to promote what you?re doing?

What about running a special offer or promotion ? Buy One Get One Free or similar?

Competitions go down a treat on social media ? is there something you can give away that people would love in time for Christmas

There are lots of little tips and tricks to try with your Christmas Marketing, but you might just have to be a bit creative.? In 2019 try to plan in advance, I?m sure you?ll see a big difference!

If you need some help with your Christmas marketing planning drop?us a line?to see if we can help!

Scary Marketing ? get the basics right

1 ? Plan

You may have a fantastic idea or product that you want to market, but many people jump in feet first without having a plan in place.? Think about the 7 Ps? ? Product, Price, Place, Promotion, People, Processes, Physical Evidence (there is some really useful information here?

Do you have a business plan?? Great. ?Do you have a marketing plan?? Think about how you are going to sell your product or service, who your customer is, how they will find out about what you are selling.? By taking a bit of time to plan things out can really help you understand what direction you should take.

2 ? Brand

Getting the brand right is so important.? There is nothing worse than seeing a ?clip art? logo, inconsistent design work or just no design at all with documents created in publisher.? A good brand reflects your business.? It tells people whether you are professional, if your product or service is good value or quality.? It shows you have taken care and attention in making your brand and business work, rather than knocking something together yourself.

It doesn?t have to be expensive and once it?s done you can use it for years to come ? if you?ve got it right the first time around.


3 ? Website

A good website is like a shop window to your business.? Get this wrong and people will leave as soon as they visit.? I won?t be cruel and pick anyone out, but often the worst websites I see are ones that have been built in-house.? ?My friend can build websites? or ?I watched a YouTube video? are things I?ve often heard.? Again, websites don?t need to cost the earth (trust me you don?t need to pay 5K for a basic brochure website!)? There are some free sites you can use, but they can be time-consuming and if you run into difficulties there is no one technical for you to get help off.? You?re on your own.? It can all get a bit messy ? and does it actually work?? It may look pretty, but can it be found on Google, can people read it on a mobile phone, do people actually look at it?


4 ? Social Media

Social media is a fantastic platform to get messages across, tell people about your brand and bring your business to life.

When using social media, think about what you want people to know about your business.? I see a real mix of how people use social media.? Some people go all out in telling their personal story on their business pages, which is fine and it?s great to add personality into a brand, but do we want to know what they ate for breakfast?? Then, in contrast, some people are so professional and salesy it just puts you off and no one will ever read your posts.? Getting the right balance is key.? Think about the tone of voice ? are you professional, are you friendly, are you a bit crazy and kooky?

I have also seen people getting a bit #hashtag happy.? #literally #using #a #hashtag #in #every #word #they #type #in #a #post.? Aggggghhhhhhh don?t do it!? There is no point and it is not effective.? The point of a hashtag is to make the word searchable #a #in #they are not something that people are going to search for in social media, so you don?t need to use them.? Be a bit more clever with them, for example in a post about marketing I may use things like #marketing #socialmedia #Instagram etc, which would help people find my post.


5 ? Print

Another pet hate of mine is poor printing.? If you want to be a professional business, your printed materials should be too.? There are many online, cheaper printers, but I would recommend talking to your local printer, who often give excellent rates and can print better quality.? They will let you know about different types of paper you can use, if the artwork is right and if any images are poor quality (another massive pet hate of mine ? make sure you use good quality images for print ? not one you copy off the internet!)? They will often do the design work for you for free too!

If all else fails delegate and pay a professional!? I am rubbish at maths so use an accountant.? If I need legal advice I will call my solicitor ? it?s the same with marketing.? If you don?t know what you?re doing there are loads of marketing professionals out there who can help, investing and bit of time and effort into your marketing can really reap rewards!

Click here to find out more about Acorn Marketing (Cumbria) Ltd could help with your marketing and avoid those scary marketing mistakes

Every day is a school day

When I was in paid employment, I often attended training courses to broaden my skills, whether that was health and safety or leadership management.? However, since being self-employed this has changed slightly.

A few years ago, I decided to become a member of the?Chartered Institute of Marketing?(CIM).? I wanted an accreditation that proved that I was a legitimate marketer.? There are so many cowboys in the industry and I wanted people to know I was genuine and I actually know what I?m talking about.? At that point, I had about 15 years of experience in marketing, which was enough to prove to the CIM that I was fit for the title.

Ever since I have undertaken a path of Continued Professional Development (CPD) whereby I attend training courses, read books, watch webinars, mentor people ? generally try to keep on top of my game.? I record the work I do and undertake reflective statements on what I?ve learnt and how I will implement this in my own work.

By doing this it has ensured that I am continuously learning and developing, being the best marketer I can be.? So, for me, every day is like a school day as I learn new things about myself and my business and continue my education and gain more experience in the wonderful world of marketing.

Running a business and being a mum

Be organised

My biggest tip for running a business and being a mum is being organised.? There is no way I could do what I do if I was not super organised.? I have lists for each client and what we need to do, plans for social media, plans for advertising, plans for future plans.? I then have a weekly list of everything I need to get done that week with priorities, I even then have a notepad, where I write down what I need to do each day.? I know it sounds a lot, but when you?re juggling ten or so clients at a time, you need to write everything down and plan everything.

I also then have lists at home, shopping lists and lists of what we?re going to eat each day for tea.? I have a work calendar and also a family calendar, so everyone knows what they are doing and when.? My little one is only two and a half, so I think this planning is only going to stand me in good stead when she starts school!


It is also really important to communicate well when running a business and being a mum.? Not only does it help you to be organised, but it ensures my clients (and family) are happy.? I have a rule that I will always answer emails in 24 hours, or even just acknowledge people if I can?t give them an answer right away.? I also pick up the phone.? We often fire out emails when we?re busy and I?m guilty of that, but if I have something tricky to explain about a piece of work, or if I need a question answering urgently I use the good old telephone to sort things out ? an art, which seems to be getting lost these days!


Probably the key to my success is the support I have from family ? particularly my Mam and mother in law.? Between us, we share the childcare.? If I have an important meeting to attend, I know one of these great women will jump into action, swap shifts and be there to help.? April goes to Pre-school in November, so I will have even more time to get things done!

Give yourself a break

I recently let things get on top of me.? I didn?t know whether I was coming or going and felt like I was doing a million and one jobs all the time with no respite.? It seemed like I put everyone at the top of the list apart from me!? I discovered a book called?The Self Care revolution, which is fantastic and really gives you a handle on how to manage things, coping mechanisms, stress and how to ?give yourself a break?.? I think we?re all too hard on ourselves to be perfect at everything whether that is work, motherhood, looks, ageing, weight loss and some times, we just need to take a step back and realise that actually we?re good at what we do.? We may not be perfect at everything, but we?re doing our best!

I now make sure I take some time out for me, cinema, spa days and a daily dose of Yoga.? Have a read?it could help you too!

Enjoy it?

The biggest thing is that I love my job.? I enjoy meeting clients, forming relationships, doing marketing and seeing projects come to fruition.? I also love being a Mummy (as most mothers do) and although I say I?m juggling, it?s not really juggling as it?s just life!? It?s what I do and I love it.? I get the best of both worlds, being a Mum whilst running a successful business.

If you are thinking of running a business and being a mum, I?d say go for it.? Yes, it will be hard, yes, there will be times when you want to go back to 9-5, but the rewards far outweigh the negatives.? There is no looking back!? Feel free to contact me if you need any advice!

Facebook Marketing Updates

What did I find?

So, creator of Facebook?Mark Zuckerberg posted on his Facebook profile at the beginning of January that things were changing.

?We?re making a major change to how we build Facebook. I?m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to?helping?you have more meaningful social interactions.

[?] As we roll this out, you?ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard ? it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.[?] If we do the right thing, I believe that will be good for our community and our business over the long term too.?

Personally, I did a little fist pump as I sometimes get sick of loads of adverts, things that people share and random videos.? I just want to see what my friends are up to without all the ?noise?.? I?ve started moving away from Facebook and using Instagram personally as it doesn?t have all the crap!

However, as a Marketer, I?m holding my head in my hands.? What are these Facebook marketing updates going to mean for businesses?? Will they all leave Facebook and start using other platforms?? Is it going to mean that all businesses need?to start paying for advertising?

What changes for Marketers?

Basically, the way information in the news feed is shown is changing ? known as the algorithm.? Facebook signals how much engagement posts get i.e how many people comment, like and share.? A post that gets a lot of engagement is quality content, therefore this determines how Facebook shows posts in the news feed ? the more engagement, the more priority a post is given.

Facebook will monitor if this engagement is between a person to person or a person to a page.? Person to person will again be given priority.

Facebook is also going to prioritise?content that is given more time and care.? Facebook is basically giving the user a more ?meaningful? experience on Facebook, rather than users being bombarded with?information they don?t really want to see.

However, this will have a significant impact on the way pages, businesses and marketers are able to reach their audience through facebook marketing.? This doesn?t necessarily mean businesses won?t be able to use Facebook for marketing, it just means we will need to work harder in what we post.? It highlights the importance to businesses of creating relevant and effective campaigns and how well planned out and interesting content can make a big difference when addressed to the right audience.

Getting seen on people?s News Feed is going to become more competitive!

Engagement Bait

The second update is ?Engagement bait?.? We?ve all seen the types of posts that say ?Like and share? to win? or ?comment if you agree?.??This tactic is known as ?engagement bait,? and seeks to take advantage of our News Feed algorithm by boosting engagement in order to get greater reach.? ?However, after years of analysing posts, Facebook has created a new model which will detect different types of engagement bait.? Posts that use this tactic will be shown less in news feeds.? Be warned!

It?s not all bad news though if you have a local business/page with which your users have a connection or interest and engages regularly with, you are likely to be largely unaffected by the changes.? Facebook has suggested that its new content prioritisation model will put more local news into users? feeds.? Thumbs up!

What to do next in my facebook marketing?

Really think about what you post on your Facebook business pages.? Is your content quality and interesting to your users?? Do you spark conversations with users and generate good engagement?? If you do, then carry on doing what you do.

You should also encourage users to click the ?see first? tab in their news feed preferences ? this way they will always see the content you post.

Try not to fall into the ?Engagement Bait? trap and avoid leading users to ?like/share or comment? ? it needs to be a natural engagement.? You will only get penalised!

Remember that photos and videos in your Facebook marketing are great at engaging with your audience, so try to utilise these as much as possible.? Even try ?live? videos which can lead to discussions with your users on average get six times as many interactions than regular videos.

Now, if my ramblings about the new Facebook marketing updates don?t make much sense, watch this video from Facebook trying to explain why they are changing things?or contact me for more help.

General Data Protection Regulation for Marketing

What is GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a regulation by which the EU intends to strengthen and unify data protection for all individuals within the European Union (EU).? It is set to replace the Data Protection Act of 1998.? The GDPR will apply in all EU member states from 25 May 2018.

What do I need to do?

I would suggest you address the changes to General Data Protection Regulation for Marketing as soon as you can and be prepared?don?t just wait until May to sort it out!? If you want to read more in-depth, click here and read my client blog.? Alternatively here are a few things to bear in mind that might get you started?

1 ??Think about what data you are collecting.? You might not think you collect any, but if you use Google Analytics, you collect data about who visits your website ? even their IP address.? Quick Fix get a privacy policy on your website that indicates how you use any data you collect.

2 ??You need to explicitly ask permission to send someone email marketing.? They must opt-in.? It is not OK to assume you have permission, hide it in your privacy policy, or have a box that someone must untick.? They might once have been allowed, but they?re not anymore.? get consent now?don?t wait for the deadline.? On website contact forms/registration forms etc make sure you add tick boxes so people can ?opt-in?

3 ??It is now not only their permission you have to ask for, you also need to record when they gave you permission and log when they opted in.? If you get an email notification when someone registers that may be enough, but you must keep the email secure.

4 ??People have the right to tell you to stop marketing to them and you must make it easy for them to opt out of any future email marketing.? Make sure you have that unsubscribe button on your email.? ?If it is a printed mailer, make sure you have a phone number/address that people can contact to stop receiving things.? Make sure you keep a list of their details and stop sending them things, otherwise you could face a big fine.

5 ??Is your website secure?? Does it have a little padlock symbol in the address bar, or did you get an SSL certificate?? If you store any data whatsoever on your website, you must have an SSL certificate, which encrypts the transmission of any data.? Even a contact form can be passing data, so it is safest to have one.? Ask your web designer about it.

6 ??You don?t need explicit consent to send a mailer, letter or brochure, provided you make it clear how they can stop receiving them in the future and the content is relevant to them.? This comes under ?legitimate interests of your business?

7 ??there is a misconception that GDPR only applies to personal data, but it applies to business data as well, even if you only email corporate email addresses the law still applies.

As a member of the?Chartered Institue of Marketing?it has been important to me to try to understand GDPR for my business, but also to advise clients as well.? I don?t know everything and am still doing lots of research and learning, but I hope that I can become more knowledgeable and in turn help my clients.

Watch this space for further updates

Hat trick at the EVAs

This year, the main difference was that I was shortlisted in the Professional Services category?? not Sole Trader?category.? I was up against a firm of solicitors, HR company, recruitment firm etc.? Once you?re shortlisted you have to go through to a judging panel ?Dragons Den? style.? You would think I wouldn?t be nervous after doing it twice before, but I?d be lying if I said I wasn?t.? ?In the past, I?ve talked about me as a person and the passion I put into my business, but this time around it was all about my business, why it was different and why my service offering stood out from the crowd.

This year the event at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool was even more special as Jili Allen, who does a lot of my design work was shortlisted, as well as my cousin?s wife and another colleague, so we all sat together.? I really did not expect to win this year as it was a tough category, so you can imagine when they called out my name I really was gobsmacked.? I know I say it every year, but it always comes as such a shock.? I was so happy as it is a fantastic recognition for all my hard work and effort I put into my business being successful.

Other awards

I am always banging on to clients about the importance of entering awards.? The PR you gain from just being shortlisted is brilliant, even if you don?t go on to win!? Recently my client Hunter Hall School; a primary school in Penrith has been shortlisted for several accolades.? Firstly they were shortlisted for best Marketing Campaign in the CN Group Golden Apple Awards.? Unfortunately, on this occassion, they did not win this award, but the coverage they got in local papers and our own self-promotion on social media was great.

They have also been shortlisted for two TES education awards ? again in best Marketing campaign (fingers crossed!) and State School Partnership award, for their cross-country events they run for other local primary schools.? I am heading down to a glitzy awards ceremony in London in February, so I will keep you posted.

Keep an eye out for any local awards in your area, any industry awards that you can apply for ? you have nothing to lose and could get a whole lot of free publicity as a result!

You can read more about the awards and accreditations I have won here

Can you teach an old dog new tricks in Marketing?

Part of being a Chartered Marketer means I need to continually learn and develop my knowledge, so thine marketing I do for clients is always up-to-date and I?m giving the best advice I can! Recently I?ve been learning a lot about digital marketing and it is a minefield! No wonder people don?t know where to start! I?d say if you want to learn the basics of how to use social media, websites or Google, for example, these can be mastered easily, but once you start digging around to try and do more advanced things it opens up a whole can of worms.

I?d say today I?ve spent 2 or 3 hours going backwards and forwards trying to learn new things and not getting very far. Its things I want to learn that sound relatively easy, but trying to master them is another story. I thought the idea of all this digital media/marketing was meant to make our lives easier, but I often seem to find stumbling blocks along the way!

As part of my job, I have the time now and then to try and figure these things out and often find a little gem of information that revolutionises the way I work. Today is not one of those days! I just feel so frustrated?and I?d say I?m an active user, experienced and well versed in using all these platforms for doing marketing campaigns! God help anyone who is starting out?no wonder I get so many calls from people needing help.

Anyway, I am all for embracing new technology to develop marketing campaigns for clients ? I just wish it wasn?t all so technical sometimes!? If you need any help with your digital marketing let me know!