Got a marketing problem?
I can help you
Call me on

Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

Juggling act

Wednesday, July 25th, 2018

Running a business and being a mum really is a juggling act!  I’ve spent the day writing social media plans for next month, whilst I’ve got a roast in the oven and washing on the line.

For many years my business was my baby, I put my heart and soul into it.  It was my life.  But, since I became a mum (and step mum) things have changed.  I now have two babies to look after!  Most days I manage to do some form of work, but I’m often checking emails whilst building a jigsaw or reading a book to my little girl.

However, despite it being a juggling act I actually get the best of both worlds.  I can be at home and have precious time with my daughter, but then run a successful business as well.  So, how do I do it…

  • Be organised

My biggest tip 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!

  • Communicate

It is also really important to communicate well.  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!

  • Support

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 words, being a Mum whilst running a successful business.

If you are thinking of starting your own business and you’re 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!

Important changes to Facebook marketing

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

So, have you heard the rumours as well?  There are some important changes to Facebook marketing afoot.  A few people had mentioned to me at the beginning of the year that Facebook marketing was changing and it was going to be harder for businesses to market their product or service through the social media platform.  With this in mind and the fact that I use Facebook marketing for a lot of my client marketing work, I had to investigate.

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 is this 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 changes to Facebook marketing don’t make much sense, watch this video from Facebook trying to explain why they are changing things…

General Data Protection Regulation for Marketing

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

General Data Protection Regulation for Marketing

The law is changing in 2018.  It will affect all businesses and the way you do your marketing.  It will affect the way you do any email marketing, make sales calls or send direct mail.  I wrote a blog for a client recently about it (click here) and attended a seminar to try and understand what it means for marketers.  I have to say it’s not one of the most exciting things I’ve written about, but it is something everyone needs to be aware of in 2018 and implement changes.

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 this 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 your 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


Can you teach an old dog new tricks in Marketing?

Monday, June 26th, 2017

Teaching an old dog new tricks

The world of marketing changes all the time and it’s hard to keep up with everything; particularly now digital marketing plays such a vital role in marketing campaigns these days! To ensure I keep on top of my trade I became a Chartered Marketer and joined the Chartered Institute of Marketing in 2013.
Part of being a Chartered Marketer means I need to continually learn and develop my knowledge, so the 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!

Top Tips to kick start your Marketing in 2017

Monday, February 6th, 2017

2017 is here and the ideal time to re-evaluate your marketing strategy – now is the time to make sure you achieve all your marketing goals for the coming year. Every business is unique but we’ve shared with you below a few marketing top tips that everyone will find useful!

  1. Optimise your website for mobile

On average, a person checks their mobile up to 150 times a day! Each time they do, they want to be able to identify and consume information at a glance. If your mobile site is slow or confusing, then you’ve lost a possible customer immediately.

  1. Create a Marketing Calendar

The key to a successful marketing strategy is to be organised and a marketing calendar is essential to being on top of your game. A calendar will help you keep track of all your marketing tactics, provide structure to your email, social, event, print marketing etc.

There are plenty of templates online to get you kick started, google calendar and google docs are just two examples of great basic templates you can work from.

  1. Invest in Video

Audiences are ten times more likely to engage with video content than they are with text-only blogs or social posts and using video in email marketing can have double the click-through rates!

This video content doesn’t have to be expensive – sharing social videos is a great way to create fun content and engage with your followers and customers.

  1. Invest time into content for my website and social media outlets

By publishing new content regularly, search engine optimism is boosted, increasing traffic to your site. Likewise, with social media; by staying consistent and current with posts, followers will be engaged and you will connect with a larger audience.

All you need is a little bit of willpower and some planning – make time to research blog topics, social posts and even social competitions!

  1. Review and adapt your marketing strategy regularly

How do you know if your marketing strategy is achieving your goals? By reviewing it regularly! Every month take some time review what’s working and what’s not been as successful as you’d hoped by analysing the data on the platforms you’re using. Identify where improvements can be made and adapt your strategy.

  1. Keep up-to-date and aware

By allocating an hour or two a week to do a little research on what’s going on in your industry you will stay up to date, relevant, can handle any changes in your industry and ultimately, keep your business ahead of your competitors! All you need to do is bookmark useful websites, follow relevant social media channels and subscribe to informative newsletters.

Sourced from

Advertising Campaigns Going for Gold!

Thursday, August 25th, 2016

Well the 2016 Rio Olympics are officially over! The world watched as team GB brought home a staggering 27 gold, 23 silver and 17 bronze medals, with billions of eyes watching, what better platform for marketers to showcase their brand.

There’s been some amazing advertising campaigns designed to tug on the heart strings of even the most cold-hearted viewer! So let’s have a look at some of our favourites…

1) Virgin Media with Usain Bolt #BeTheFastest

Virgin Media teamed up with world record holder Usian Bolt to celebrate his amazing achievements and emphasise the importance of speed! Their advertising campaign is all about promoting their brand new super fast broadband. The fastest WiFi in the world, backed by the fastest athlete in the world – very fitting. The ad creates a montage of Bolt’s life in a series of 9.58 second clips, cartoon and graphics to emphasise the sheer speed of his world record time. As one of the most successful media companies in the world we have come to expect the world class celebrity endorsement and high production values shown in this campaign. Check it out here!

2) Proctor & Gamble “Thank you Mom”

P&G bring us many of our favourite household brands from Bounty to Patene, Gilette to Pampers. So it is no surprise their campaign is steeped in family values and really gets our emotions going! The advert features world class athletes competing in the 2016 Olympics coupled with lots of emotional scenes, flashbacks from their childhood, showing their mother’s supporting them throughout their lives and into their training. Finishing with the tagline ‘P&G Proud sponsors of Moms’ Watch it here – tissues at the ready!

3) Coca-Cola – Gold Feelings!

We wouldn’t be running through our top advertising campaigns if we didn’t mention Coca-Cola – a brand that never seem to disappoint when it comes to television advertising! Coca-Cola created a montage of feel good clips which compare every day experiences to ‘winning gold’. The closing line summaries the campaigns message ‘Gold is the feeling anyone can taste.’ They also coined the hashtag #ThatsGold, using it across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even creating their own custom Snapchat filter. Watch the advert here. 

What an amazing year for Britain in the Olympics! Bring on 2020, we’re excited to see if team GB can beat this year’s amazing performance, we’ll also be keeping an eye out to see what brand new marketing campaigns and trends will emerge ready for the 2020 Olympic Games!



3 Social Media Trends Hot for Summer 2016

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

In at number 1 – Custom SnapChat Filters

SnapChat dominates the app market with over 100 million active daily users, launched in February they created a service which allows individuals and businesses to create custom geo filters for a fee. The fee depends on how far (miles) you wish to reach and how long you want the filter available for.  For instance for a birthday party you could have ‘Jonathan’s 21st splashed across your photographs with balloons. Geo filters are proving highly effective for temporary promotions, movie premiers and product launches and are a great way to have fun and interact with your target audience, particularly if your target audience is between 16 and 25. Fees start at around £25.

Up next – Live Feeds  & Vlogs 

Live Feeds & Video Blogs are becoming a key platform for marketers. They are great way of interacting and building a personal relationship with your audience. It’s not just about selling to your followers but engaging with them too! Viewers can comment and interact as the video streams live, meaning you can communicate effectively with them, answering any questions directly.

Last but not least – Thunderclap

Thunderclap is a crowd speaking platform that can help by saying something together, allowing one message to be mass-shared at one time to help make a louder noise. Think of it as an “online flash mob” without the jazz hands… If you join a Thunderclap, you and other like minded individuals will share the same message at the same time, spreading an idea through Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. When you sign up to back a particular campaign, you’re allowing Thunderclap to share a single message on your behalf. This is only the case when you click the button on the campaign page to support with Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr, so you needn’t worry about spamming your followers. Thunderclap is a free service and has been proving popular with charities across the world.

Feeling inspired? Why not give them a go? 

Every Day’s A School Day!

Friday, June 24th, 2016

Marketing, particularly digital marketing is constantly changing and becoming more and more advanced and competitive. To keep up to date with the latest trends, technology and happenings, it is important keep learning. Don’t rest on your laurels thinking you know all there is to know.

It is also important for us to keep attending training courses, workshops and seminars to keep our chartered marketer status and work on our Continued Professional Development.   This is the mark of an up-to-date, experienced and qualified marketing professional, so you can be guaranteed the work we do is of a professional standard and we know our stuff!

The good news is there is lots of free advice and training opportunities out there. So take advantage! Within the last few weeks the Acorn Marketing team have attended Google Garage webinars, a course on Search Engine Optimization and also a workshop on Google Analytics. Being free of charge, attending these was a no brainer! There is no harm refreshing your knowledge and reiterating what you may already know.

Webinars are particularly useful, as you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your office to get involved. Another advantage is that they are less time consuming. The Google Garage webinar we attended started promptly and lasted an hour. There were options of either an AM or PM session to attend. The topic was ‘Reach New Customers Online’ with Gori Yahaya as the host. This was well worth attending, although had it not been as interesting or as relevant as hoped, the advantage of webinars is that you can leave whenever you like without the awkwardness you would face at a course or seminar! Webinars are becoming increasingly popular, especially among the marketing, media and digital industries. So do your research and find one that’s suitable for your business.

If you are a business local to Cumbria there are a number of great training courses and networking events available through the Cumbria Business Growth Hub. Check out their website here.

I hope you find a course or webinar that interests and suits you.

It’s never too late to learn!

New Year, New Website?

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

So every New Year we all say we are going to make dramatic changes and resolutions, whether this is in our business or personal life.

How about this year making a real change which could prove highly beneficial to your business?

If your commercial website hasn’t been updated for a while, perhaps 2016 is the time to start making changes. Technology moves at such a fast pace nowadays if you fall behind you may put yourself at risk of losing potential clients to your competitors.

So what are the signs that your website needs updating?

1) Your site is hard to navigate on smart phones and tablets

Mobile and tablet traffic now exceeds regular desktop or laptop traffic, so it is crucial that your site is mobile friendly. Ensure that all site content is accessible on mobiles and tablets and pay particular attention to touch screen devices when redesigning your site.

2) Your security has been breached

Out of date web design can often mean you are putting your business in serious danger. Older software may be less secure and potentially leave your site open to hackers. Website maintenance is crucial in making sure your site remains secure and protected.

3) Your search engine rankings are low

Search engine optimisation (or SEO) focuses on achieving high rankings on top search engines such as Google. With a good SEO your website will find itself on the first page of Google, whereas a poor one may not feature at all.

Basic ways to improve a site’s SEO include:

– Regular updates

– Quality content

– Using relevant tags ad keywords

– Making your site easy to share on social media

4) Your visitors aren’t sticking around

Your site analytics will tell you at a glance whether or not your visitors are sticking around. This is a fairly strong indicator as to whether or not your site is useful / appealing to your target audience.

At a glance, a successful website will include the following:

– Easy navigation

– Eye catching, slick design

– Interesting content

– Useful features

If any of the above signs present themselves when looking at your website, perhaps change is needed. A website is a great investment, so make this year’s resolution count and make a difference to your business.

Here’s to a happy and successful 2016 everyone!

Acorn Marketing

Penrith ‘Paint the Town Red’ Winners Revealed!

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

Winners have been revealed for the window dressing competition which was held as part of the Penrith Winter Festival. Each year businesses in the town are invited to dress their windows and get into the Christmas spirit. This year the theme, as set by Penrith Chamber of Trade was ‘Paint the Town Red’ with businesses encouraged to have fun, add sparkle and be as imaginative as possible!

This year’s judges, Amyn Fazal and Heidi Marshall representatives from Penrith Chamber of Trade were certainly greeted with sparkle and imagination. The judges were impressed to find the two categories, Service Provider and Independent Retailer had received a fantastic response with around 40 entries, a higher uptake than in previous years.

Competition judge Amyn Fazal, President of Penrith Chamber of Trade commented  ‘Walking around Penrith town for a couple of hours is something we should all do regularly. The spirit that exists in the businesses and the huge variety of offerings out there is inspiring. I have a list of new places I want to visit and experience as a result!’

The judges wish to thank all businesses involved in this year’s competition and congratulate the winners. The award for Service Provider went to the Kiddlywinks Nursery display at Tim Roebucks Opticians for their fabulous tribute to ‘Save Lazonby Fire Station’, complete with mock flames, flashing lights and even a fire engine.

Kindlywinks Tim

The award for the Independent Retailer category went to Lakeland Music who created a modern and eye catching display with every single instrument perfectly showcasing the theme. With ruby red drums and crimson guitars, judges commented that sourcing this vast collection of red instruments ‘was a truly impressive feat. As a relatively new business to the town, shop owner Amanda Holiday was ‘simply delighted’ to have won.

Lakeland Music

This year a special Highly Commended award was introduced and awarded to the Ice Cream Garden and Tea Room who totally embraced the theme and quite literally ‘painted the town red’ giving their entire shop front a lick of red paint for the festive season. Other stand out entries included; Styleline for their giant Christmas cracker, Foundry 34 and Cartmell Shepherd for their impressive use of red ribbon, WCF for their fully accessorised festive model horse, Acorn Guest for recreating a mini Penrith winter scene and Maggie’s Bakery for their creative cake characters. While previous winners the Unicorn and Greenwheat Florist and Fika continue to deliver, providing strong competition with their beautifully decorative displays. A full list of all businesses who were involved in the window dressing competition can be found at

Ice Cream Garden

The Penrith Winter festival is organised by Penrith Chamber of Trade in conjunction with Acorn Marketing and Discover Penrith, funding from the Penrith Business Improvement District, the Pride in Penrith Lottery and sponsorship from the Lakes & Dales Co-Operative, Cumbrian Homes and Penrith Building Society.