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Posts Tagged ‘Acorn Marketing Cumbria’

Every day is a school day

Wednesday, September 12th, 2018

There has been so much back to school marketing around recently it got me thinking and reminiscing about my old school and University days (crikey it’s 20 years since I started Uni this year!)  Everyone always used to say they were the best days of your life and anyone who has been to university will know that they really are!  However, when you leave school or Uni your education does not stop there.  I feel I am always on a continuous journey of learning whether that’s in life, motherhood or work.

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.

School Marketing Acorn Marketing Cumbria CIM certificate

My 2018/2019 CIM certificate

 

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!

Carleton Manor Park – first apartment residents move in

Wednesday, June 13th, 2018

Cumbrian Homes handed over the keys to one of their newest residents last week, who has bought one of nine luxury apartments at Carleton Manor Park in Penrith.

The apartments, which are available to view from the 16th June, have been hailed as the ‘Jewel in the Crown’ of the Carleton Manor Park development, which is located on the outskirts of the town. Sue Nicholson, a lady local to the area has bought one of the new apartments and will be the first resident to move in next week.

Cumbria Marketing of Carleton Manor Park Penrith

The development consists of 44 luxury homes, including one, two and three bedroom apartments within the ‘Manor’ and its flanking buildings that prominently overlook the site.

Like the houses, the apartments are built using high quality materials; modern in design yet with a traditional feel offering exclusive living in this sought-after location. What makes these apartments really special is the size,

Nigel Pallister, Managing Director of Cumbrian Homes explains,
“People really need to see these apartments to get a feel for how spacious they are. Some of the apartments are bigger than your average home, so ideal for people wanting to downsize, but not lose the space. We also encourage people to get involved as early as possible when buying with Cumbrian Homes, so they can add their own input into the style of the apartment, including fixtures and fittings.”

Cumbrian Homes has also collaborated with British Gypsum to include some premium enhancements in the apartments, including magnetic walls, super-strength plasterboard and soundproofing products, allowing the people who move into these apartments to really get more from their rooms and really enjoy living in a creative space.

Sue Nicholson, who has completed the first purchase at the Carleton Manor Park apartments, commented
“I am so delighted to finally be moving into my new apartment. They really are something else. I would not have believed I could get such a spacious and beautiful apartment. Flats I’ve viewed before always felt small and cramped, but I don’t feel like I’m making a compromise on size or quality here.”

The apartments will be available to view from 10am on the 16th June. Early viewing is advisable.

Morrison Construction invests in virtual reality induction

Thursday, May 3rd, 2018

A £50,000 investment has been made by Morrison Construction to create a new virtual reality (VR) induction as an engaging way to provide education on site safety.

Today the induction, developed in partnership with the University of the West of Scotland with the expertise of 3D animation specialists Animmersion, was unveiled at the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre in Blantyre.

The site and construction teams from the Morrison Construction Scottish Water business were heavily involved in the eight-month development process to create a realistic experience for induction participants.

Industry experts who attended the event learnt about the VR experience for site induction and had the opportunity to take part in a live demonstration to experience the technology first-hand.

The induction, set in a Computer-Generated Imagery construction site, allows users to immerse themselves in the animated environment as they navigate their way through three modules using goggles and hand controllers.

These modules allow users to become familiar with a construction site, recognise common dangers and complete a simple activity on site emphasising the importance of correct safety procedures.

The first module asks the participant to identify the safety board, key staff and important locations such as the muster point on site.

Participants are required to mark key site dangers such as buried services with red flags, receiving a mark on the completion of the second module.

An interactive task in the third module is set on a site where underground services works are taking place demonstrating the consequences of not being aware of safety risks.

Morrison Construction Scottish Water Operations Director, Stephen Slessor said:

‘‘We are very excited to showcase our VR site induction, providing an engaging way for employees to receive vital safety training. Today marks this significant investment in site safety by Morrison Construction and I would like to thank members of our team and our project partners for their valued contributions.

‘‘Health and safety is our number one priority at Morrison Construction and we believe this real-time learning system can benefit the wider construction sector by enhancing traditional site processes. Using this VR induction allows participants to make mistakes in a safe environment.’’

University of the West of Scotland Senior Lecturer in Construction Engineering, Mohamed Abdel-Wahab said: “It is great to see Morrison Construction launching this innovative VR induction.  VR application in the construction industry provides an effective means for health and safety training. It helps to raise awareness of on-site hazards and ensure compliance with HSE guidelines, thereby reducing the likelihood of on-site incidents. This project is an exemplar of university-industry collaboration for the application of VR. We can only make a difference and change industry’s practice through truly collaborative endeavours such as this.”

 

N.B – Press release from Morrison Construction PR team.  Acorn Marketing (Cumrbia) Ltd helped with event oranisation of this event.

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

 

Top 100 in England

Thursday, November 23rd, 2017

The ‘Parent Power’ supplement from The Sunday Times has been published, citing Hunter Hall School in Penrith as one of the Top 100 Independent Preparatory Schools in England.

The paper, published on Sunday lists the Top 100 Schools based on SATs results taken in 2016 from  Preparatory schools across England. There are over 600 such schools who are members of the Independent Schools Association.  The results have been published by The Times for the last 25 years and uses a ranking system that aggregates the averaged scaled scores achieved by children in tests in reading, grammar and maths.  Hunter Hall achieved a score of 312 based on 15 pupils sitting the tests.

The way that SATs have been calculated since 2016 is via a new aggregate system, which looks at a scaled scores ranging from 240 to 360, (the old system based was based on the percentages of children reaching level 5 in tests).  The Sunday Times states that schools that get the best out of every pupil are the ones who have fared best in the list.

Hunter Hall is one of only seven schools based in the North West of England to make the Top 100 and the only school in Cumbria to make the list.

Donna Vinsome, Head Teacher at Hunter Hall School comments,

“We are absolutely thrilled to be listed as one of the top 100 schools in England.  This is another wonderful accolade for us and helps to substantiate what we as staff and governors feel; that children get an outstanding education at Hunter Hall in all areas of the curriculum both inside as well as outside of the classroom.

Hunter Hall was inspected recently by the Independent Schools Inspectorate who gave them a glowing report with 100% in all areas of compliance with no actions for improvement. They have also recently been shortlisted for two TES Education awards.

Donna continues,

“All these successes are down to the hard work and dedication of our fantastic team of specialist teachers we have at Hunter Hall School and the dedicated children we have the privilege to work with every day. I believe we are incredible value for money, giving children the best possible start in life from 3 through to 11 right here in Cumbria”.

Lisa gets a hat-trick!

Monday, October 2nd, 2017

Well, I only went and did it again…I got a hat-trick in the Enterprise Vision Awards.  I wasn’t sure whether to enter or not this year as I’d won twice before and thought I was perhaps pushing my luck.   However, my business has changed so much over the past few years I felt like I had a lot to tell!

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!

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!

Blogging: The King of Marketing! Why we do it and Top Tips

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Everywhere we look we are inundated with content; from fashion to food, content is king in 2017. A priority in your business development strategy now, no matter how new, old, small or big your company is, is to write blogs; we are told that blogging should be a priority in our marketing plans but why is this and how can you get on top of the game?

There are a number of reasons why blogging is important.

To start with blogging drives traffic to your website. Your blog gives you the opportunity to create relevant and interesting content for your customers and you can use this as a marketing tactic to drive traffic back to your website via your social media channels.

Communicating with your social media followers about blogs on your website gives them a reason to click through to your website and it is there where they find out more information about your business and what you can do for them! 

This brings us onto our next point, Blogs help raise brand awareness and are an avenue for you to communicate with your customer what your unique selling point is, why they should be interested in your company and also can showcase your market knowledge. Blogs have been rated as the 5th most trusted source for accurate information! 

This, in turn, builds a relationship and trust with customers and potential customers and keeps your communication with them strong.

(statistic sourced from https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/business-blogging-in-2015)

Our last point, but most definitely not the least, is that creating blogs for your website has tremendous Search Engine Optimism benefits. Fresh content is key to upping your search engine game! An important factor of SEO is to have lots of content as this helps search engines recognise that your website is a resource with lots of updated information – moving it higher up the search engine! The proof is in the pudding – 70 – 80% of users ignore paid ads and only focus on organic searches – these paid ads can be rewarding but the most valuable locations in search results have to be earned through blogging and SEO, not bought.

(statistics sourced from https://www.impactbnd.com/blog/25-little-known-blogging-statistics-to-boost-yourstrategy-in-2016

So, now we know why we blog – how can we get on top of the game? We’ve popped below a few of our top tips to help you with your blogging! 

You need to make sure your blog stands out! 43% of people admit to skimming through blogs, this means you need to use headers, videos, images and other visuals to make sure your blog catches their attention.

(Statistic sourced from https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics)

Create blog content that is actually useful and interesting!  If it’s useful or interesting, people are more likely to share it on their own social media channels, increasing your reach further.

Google favours more in-depth content, the search engine sees this as providing more information than a short blog post – The average word count of top – ranking content (in Google) is between 1,140 – 1,285 words!

(Statistic sourced from http://www.searchmetrics.com/knowledge-base/ranking-factors/)

Your blog (and your website) need to be mobile friendly! Google, on average, gets over 100 billion searches a month, with more than half of these searches coming from mobile phones!

(statistic sourced from http://mashable.com/google-mobile-searches)

There we have it – now you know why we blog and top tips how to blog, there’s only one thing left to do – get blogging!! 

Highly Commended for Cumbrian Homes Site Manager

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

Cumbrian Homes are proud to announce that Gary Fleckney, Site Manager at their development Carleton Manor Park in Penrith has been awarded Highly Commended in the LABC Northern Regional Warranty Site Manager Awards 2017.

The Site Manager Award recognises the outstanding contributions of site managers working on LABC Warranty sites for their vision for quality in construction. LABC Warranty Risk Management Surveyors are responsible for nominating site managers who go the extra mile. Presented at each of the LABC Regional Building Excellence Awards, the regional winners go forward to secure a place at the Grand Finals held later this year.

With over 3000 eligible site managers, it is a great achievement to have been selected as one of the regional finalists. Mike Swatton, LABC Warranty Business Development Director and Head Judge commented, “The standard of qualifiers across the board has been exceptional, once again raising the bar for construction standards”.

LABC Warranty works in partnership with Local Authority Building Control (LABC) to provide structural warranties. Their partnership with LABC means they can provide building control and warranty for developers throughout England and Wales using the combined technical expertise of over 3,500 surveyors.

Gary Fleckney was highly commended in the LABC Warranty Northern Regional Site Manager Award for his site at Carleton Manor Park in Penrith. Having amassed nearly 30 years managerial experience in a wide range of traditional and timber frame new build and refurbishment projects, Gary joined Cumbrian Homes in May 2015 as Construction Manager.  In addition to managing his own site at Carleton Manor Park he also oversees all current ongoing projects and has an overview in maintaining Health and Safety, Quality and Construction Standards.

Nigel Pallister, Managing Director of Cumbrian Homes commented,

“We are extremely proud of Gary gaining the recognition of Highly Commended in the LABC Warranty Site Manager Awards.  At Cumbrian Homes quality, excellent workmanship and maintaining high standards is our priority and Gary carries out these principles thoroughly.  He helps to ensure the smooth running of our Carleton Manor Park site and is a credit to our business.”