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Archive for October, 2015

Some Simple Tips for Building a Strong Online Presence

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015

1) Remember, you have less than 5 seconds to capture the viewer’s attention. The majority of viewers are visiting your site for something specific.  So make sure your site is easy to navigate. Instead of writing blocks of text use short paragraphs, bulleted or numbered lists and bold words to highlight important information. Use simple, eye catching and appropriate design and images.

2) Use Analytics – find out how your website is performing at present. What are your target audience going to your site for? What information are they seeking? Then determine how you can make this information easier to find and present in an accessible, attractive format. Collating analytics can be time consuming, but recording the performance of your site is hugely beneficial to its progression – seeing the improvements and increased ‘hits’ is also really rewarding!

3) Write blogs – they are useful for informing, interacting, networking and socialising with the people you want to connect with. They add a personal touch to your website and allow people an insight in your working life. For Acorn Marketing, we love posting and celebrating the successes of our clients. As well as writing about the projects we are involved in and the things we are passionate about (usually marketing!) Don’t limit yourself to your own website, comment on other people’s site, accounts and blogs to raise your online presence.

4) Similarly, social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) is hugely important, so make sure you have business accounts which are linked to your website. Twitter is great for interacting with the public; it is informal, quick and simple. The use of hash-tags connects you to others who are interested in the same particular topic or trend.

5) Keep up to date – technology moves so quickly nowadays, with new devices, hash-tags and apps released almost daily. It can be difficult to keep up with the latest trends. But if this new trend, fad or news story has a link to your area or industry, there is an opportunity to take advantage of and increase your online presence.

5 Simple tips for building your online presence, why not give them a go!?

The Benefits of Entering Business Awards

Friday, October 9th, 2015

For me, it was a huge accolade to firstly be shortlisted as a finalist for Sole Trader of the Year at the Enterprise Vision Awards 2015. But to then win was so unexpected, exciting and a massive achievement!

So I thought given this experience I would give a few reasons and words of advice and encouragement on why entering awards is so beneficial for businesses.

1) Firstly, I feel it is important to say size doesn’t matter! There are awards for all kinds of businesses from Sole Traders to Large Enterprises. So don’t let this put you off. The variety of awards around is vast. From local to national, generic business to specific industry based ones, so do your research. You can find out online or contact your local chamber of commerce for advice. Make sure you read the criteria carefully and pick the category which most suits your business and its current position.

2) The application process itself is a hugely valuable opportunity to look critically and properly appraise your business, to look strategically at its strengths and weaknesses. It encourages you to look at your business from an outside perspective.

3) An evening on glitz and glam! The evening itself is a great opportunity to celebrate and show your appreciation for your current staff. Also to network, make new contacts and showcase your business in a sociable environment in front of people who may be particularly influential in your industry.

4) Finally, believe it or not, it’s not all about the winning. Just being shortlisted for an award should be viewed as a huge achievement. This offers great PR opportunities, as well as; improving brand awareness, building a positive reputation and strengthening market positioning and profile.

I hope these are good enough reasons to encourage you to get motivated and get entering!

Best of luck,

Lisa x

Mother Daughter Duo Rocking Retail

Thursday, October 8th, 2015

Mother and daughter duo Marlyn and Amanda Griffiths have made the big step in becoming business partners and the even bigger move of relocating from Lancashire to Cumbria to do so.  They joined forces and opened The Rocking Horse Toy Shop at the Quarry Rigg Shopping Centre in Bowness on Windermere earlier this year.

Running a toy shop was not on the agenda for the pair, originally from Ormskirk.  Amanda graduated from Lancaster University in 2009 with a degree in Biochemistry, whilst Marlyn had previously run a successful hair dressing salon near Liverpool.

However, Marlyn had been making a range of handmade children’s gifts, which with the support of her daughter had been selling at craft markets across Lancashire.  Most recently they had opened a high street shop in Ormskirk; selling an extended range of traditional wooden toys to compliment their handmade items.

It wasn’t until Christmas 2014, on a holiday to the Lake District that Marlyn and Amanda decided to take the big step of re-locating their business and lives up to the area.  The high street had been gradually disappearing in Ormskirk with many neighbouring shops closing down, so they were looking to relocate.  However, on a chance walk on Boxing Day they stumbled upon an empty unit in Bowness and after much consideration decided this was the opportunity they had been looking for.

After much consideration and research they decided to relocate their business, and The Rocking Horse Toy Shop opened up in March 2015.  They now specialise in traditional wooden toys that are carefully selected based on their quality and play value and not generally found on the high street

Amanda comments,

“We are constantly looking for toys that are not widely available on the high street, and having spent the last 4 years carefully honing our range, we believe the product range we offer is unique within Cumbria – you won’t find any electronic gadgets, plastic toys or merchandise from the latest TV program. We have many toys that grandparents will remember from their childhood, that have stood the test of time and are still loved by children today!”

The Rocking Horse boasts a number of brands exclusive to Cumbria, such as their Rocking Horses and retro metal race cars and fire engines, which often sell out in days of arriving.  Their first year in business has exceeded their expectations and they’ve been overwhelmed with the support received from both tourists and local customers. They’ve even had repeat customers from far and wide who have travelled up especially to buy a unique gift from the shop.

The mother and daughter team seems to be working so far and they both enjoy different aspects of the day to day running of the business – Amanda takes care of the administration, while Marlyn takes care of the creative side of the business.

“As a family run business, we share the same vision for the future of the business, and it gives us the freedom to try out ideas and make changes that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to do.” 

Marlyn and Amanda look forward to building on the success they’ve had in their first year.  They’re constantly looking out for new products and always aim to have something new on the shelves that can’t be found on the high street.  They’re currently busy planning their first Christmas in Bowness, with the arrival of some larger toys and festive products.  In the long term they’d love to expand and have another shop or two in other Lake District villages, but for now they’ve got plenty to work on in Bowness!