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Posts Tagged ‘acorn marketing’

EVA shortlist for the fourth time

Wednesday, July 10th, 2019

I have made the EVA shortlist for the fourth time!  The widely anticipated shortlist for this year’s Enterprise Visions Awards (or Evas) was announced last week and I have been shortlisted for the second time in the ‘Professional Services’ category.

The Enterprise Vision Awards recognise women in business from across the North West in sixteen categories, ranging from best small business to business woman of the year and are the largest awards celebrating women outside London.

As you may well know I am no newcomer to the awards, winning the accolade for Sole Trader in 2015 and 2016 and Professional Services in 2017.  This year I am amongst 30 businesses from Cumbria shortlisted in the awards in 2019.

Acorn Marketing Cumbria makes EVA shortlist for the fourth time

When I first entered the awards in 2015 I’d not really heard of them and I was only one of three businesses representing Cumbria.  The awards have grown over the years and it is fantastic to be sharing this platform now with so many other talented business women.

The initial stage of the awards was via an application, where a panel of judges assessed my application on various aspects including the inspiration to become self-employed, achievements and challenges to date, future plans and the drive and passion behind the business.

The next stage of the process was a presentation and interview, which I did earlier this week at Ribby Hall Village to a panel of judges from Salford Business School, Blackpool & the Fylde College and Ribby Hall.   Following that, there will be an online vote via social media, before the final awards ceremony, which will take place on 27th September at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool.

I am delighted to be representing Cumbria again at the 2019 EVAs.  It is such a fantastic event to be part of and a unique opportunity to reflect on your business and celebrate your achievements.  I didn’t enter in 2018 as I didn’t want to push my luck, but I was eager to get involved again in 2019 as it’s such a fantastic event and I am thrilled to be shortlisted in the very competitive category of Professional Services once again.  The judging process has gone well so far, now I’m just waiting in anticipation of the big night in Blackpool.

What makes it even more special for me this year, is that two of my clients have also been shortlisted.  Salon Rouge, also from Penrith, have been shortlisted in the Beauty Business category, the only hairdressing salon in the whole of the North West in the category and Raspberry Fields Pony Parties, who are based in Warrington, are shortlisted in the Customer Services category.  Fingers crossed it will be an evening of celebrations all round.

Marketing FAQs (from prospective clients)

Friday, June 28th, 2019

As a Marketing Consultant, I am always asked a variety of questions when networking or by prospective clients who want to know the finer details of the services Acorn Marketing (Cumbria) Ltd offers. I’m always happy to help with any queries so wanted to share the most popular marketing FAQs – and my responses here – to help any future enquirers and clients.

How much do you charge?

As every project we work on is different, there are no set fees for our services. Our primary objective is to discuss with prospective clients what their needs are from any marketing activity. It could be simply to manage all social media or a comprehensive package to run an entire marketing department. Until we understand exactly what the goals are and what is required to reach them, we cannot provide a quote. We like to meet up and chat about the business and its requirements and can then customise a package.

Is ‘marketing’ the same as ‘advertising’?

Marketing is so much more than simply ‘advertising’. The term ‘marketing’ encompasses a whole array of activities. Acorn Marketing can help businesses with the following:

Marketing Consultancy – a cost effective solution if a business cannot afford a full-time marketing manager, consultancy is also the ideal scenario when the team within a business doesn’t have the knowledge, experience or time to undertake all marketing work.

Marketing Strategy & Planning – we can customise a comprehensive strategy and generate a step-by-step marketing plan.

Social Media – we can help with ideas and training or manage your social media accounts.

Digital Marketing – from website design, content creation, e-newsletters, blogs, videos and online advertising, we can manage digital marketing needs.

Branding & Graphic Design – creating a brief and concepts, liaising with designers and printers to deliver impactful print work.

Public Relations – generating press coverage in local newspapers, magazines and online.

Event Management – we can plan and execute any event; from a product launch to an awards ceremony – however big or small.

And finally, Advertising – we can help to create and deliver your campaign, be it for print or online.

Which is the best social media platform?

There is no one answer to this question. The best social platform for your specific service or product will depend on what it is and where your potential audience can be found. Having a presence on all social channels will be a waste of time and money if your audience is not prevalent across all of them. Focusing on your biggest social audience and building the numbers is the best strategy of time and budget.

Where do you work?

Acorn Marketing is based in Cumbria, but this does not dictate where my clients are based. My current client portfolio is spread across the UK. I meet clients regularly and also have Skype meetings. My business is based from my home, so my overheads are low, and I cannot be impeded in getting to the office by traffic problems or bad weather, which is an advantage.

Why hire a freelance marketing consultant?

There are many reasons why hiring external marketing expertise is the best option. Some companies might not be in a position to employ a full-time marketing manager, others might just need help on a time specific project. On occasions, our services help individuals who are just too busy running other areas of their business and need the day to day marketing activities covered.

Delegate your marketing requirements to a consultant like me, who has the time and knowledge to join your team and get on with the tasks needed, freeing up time for you and your other staff members to do their roles.

Hopefully these responses will answer any queries you or your business may have regarding marketing. Should you wish to know anything more, please feel free to get in contact.

It’s Stress Awareness Month – Here’s how we react

Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

April is stress awareness month – something we can all attest to as stresses do get on top of us whilst we juggle the various aspects of our life. Making sure we get ‘me’ time each day to decompress and relax is easier said than done if we have a busy routine and people – however big or small – relying on us.

Exercise will always help to create those happy endorphins which in turn can boost our mood and reduce stress. Whether it’s getting out in the fresh air for a run in the great outdoors or heading to the gym for a workout class or a swim, these activities will release happy hormones to surge around our bodies and combat any stressful worries.

The Acorn Marketing team all have their own preferred ways of relaxing and taking some time for themselves after busy working days.

We all enjoy the benefits of yoga and Pilates. Some of us take time to focus at home with daily movements at the beginning of each day, others head to a weekly class and switch off both phone and mind to outside influences and just enjoy being in those 60 minutes to workout, breathe deeply, stretch and prepare our bodies for the week ahead. You can find great tutorials online – even short routines to do at your desk.

I find baking to be quite cathartic, switching off to follow a recipe and working methodically. Tidying up whilst my creation is rising in the oven (I’m sure Bake Off contestants don’t have to do their own washing up though!). The big reveal when your cake/pie/bread comes out of the oven and stands to cool on the counter – is always rewarding. I will be honest though; a disastrous bake does negate the relaxing effect achieved during the stirring/whisking process.

Work can be the biggest causes of stress for people so to try to combat this, try and ensure you step away from your desk at lunch. Go for a walk or sit somewhere aside from your desk to eat, just to change the scenery and give your brain a rest from your work space.

Jogging is also a definite means to de-stress. Step into your trainers and head outside (I prefer on a dry day!) either solo or with a friend or two, to appreciate your surroundings – especially in this beautiful Spring season with so many new flowers and trees in bloom. We don’t run so fast that we can’t hold a conversation so it’s easy to keep fit and put the world to rights (always multi-tasking). It’s now a ritual in our diaries.

Sometimes the simplest of pleasures can help us unwind and sitting in your favourite chair with a good book and a glass of wine or a mug of hot chocolate, to immerse yourself in the pages, is just what we all need.

Tiny changes might also help keep calm – if the queues at supermarket checkouts get your blood pressure rising, order online for home delivery. If the thought of going to the gym with lots of other people exercising is a little intimidating and you start to feel the s-word, there are many online classes or DVDs to complete in the comfort of your own home and at a time that suits you. Whether it’s an energetic HIIT workout or calming yoga, pick the best one for you.

A great first step to make today would be to remove your phone as a distraction from your evening routine. Don’t check work emails in the evening – they can wait until the morning. Any updates on social media can be caught up on in the morning too. This will help your brain switch off, relax and hopefully aid a deep and stress-free sleep, making you ready to deal with whatever the next day brings.

Breathing can also aid us in relaxation. Taking a deep breath in for a count of 5, holding for a count of 6 and breathing out for a count of 7 will help restore calm.

So during stress awareness month, find your feel good factor (or factors), do things for you and remove those stressful triggers from your life to avoid tensions and to help you relax and look after yourself.

Imposter Syndrome in small businesses

Saturday, January 26th, 2019

I had a pretty rubbish week at the end of January.  I won’t go into all the gory details, but it reminded me of an article I’d read in the past about ‘Imposter Syndrome’.  The article said that “Research from AXA PPP healthcare reveals that one in five SME owners suffer from Imposter Syndrome – the fear of being exposed in your job as a fraud, inadequate or a failure despite evidence proving you’re successful and capable.”

That week I felt just like this and it made me wonder how many other small business owners feel like this too?  What brought this about was a nasty email from an (now ex) client, slating the work that I did for them, my costs (which are extremely competitive I will have you know) and my knowledge.  It was an email that came completely out of the blue and just knocked me for six.  Communication had been good, feedback had been excellent and I’d really helped them (so they told me).  So, to get an email contrary to that was really upsetting.

I consider myself a very professional businessperson.  I treat others how I would expect to be treated myself, am honest and loyal to my clients.  I studied hard at university and continue to study with my CPD, I’ve gained over twenty years’ experience, am a Chartered Marketer with great clients and testimonials and have won several awards.  Yet, I still sometimes feel like I have Imposter Syndrome. Receiving an email like that, or a bad comment about you/your work or meeting a tricky client can really knock you down.

I never imagined that I’d run a business – I didn’t have a clue where to start, but was thrown into this situation when I was made redundant and I just got on with it.  In that respect I have to pinch myself sometimes that I’m coming up to my eight year anniversary.  There is no way I’d be doing what I’m doing eight years down the line if I wasn’t any good.

Findings in the report suggested over half of SME owners affected (52%) admit that low self-esteem led them to feeling like an imposter, with four in ten (42%) comparing themselves with others and over one in four (27%) doubting their decisions.  

So, my message to anyone out there who might feel like they have Imposter Syndrome is to just go for it.  You are good at what you do; otherwise, you would not be in the situation you are in.  Believe in yourself and others will too.  You are unique and the service or product you offer is unique to you and you should be proud of it.  You don’t need to compare yourself to others, be confident in your strengths and what you do.

Finally don’t ever feel like you’re on your own, there are so many other small business owners out there, so get out and meet them, go for a coffee with someone you trust and build a supportive network around you.  A good talking to can often sort you out (as my husband regularly does!)

So, I’m back on it this week!  Bring it on!

 

 

 

Ref:  https://www.businessleader.co.uk

 

Christmas Marketing – is it too late to plan?

Monday, November 12th, 2018

It is never too late to get on board with the Christmas Marketing train – unless you’re reading this in January!

As a rule of thumb when I work with clients we start planning Christmas 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 marketing planning drop us a line to see if we can help!

Scary Marketing – get the basics right

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018

I have worked in Marketing for almost 20 years now and my beady eye is always on the lookout for great campaigns and ideas.  However, it’s so much easier to spot scary marketing.  It just makes me sigh and my heart sinks when I see a piece of bad print, a poorly constructed website or shocking social media.

Here are my top tips for getting 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 https://www.professionalacademy.com/blogs-and-advice/marketing-theories—the-marketing-mix—from-4-p-s-to-7-p-s)

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.

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!

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.

Lake District brewery launches wholesale ales

Friday, February 23rd, 2018

Brack’N’Brew, the micro-brewery based at the Brackenrigg Inn on the shores of Ullswater has recently launched a range of 500ml bottles to complement its existing real ales brewed on site.  The wholesale beers are being stocked across the UK and the local brewery has seen a spike in sales as a result.

Brack’N’Brew was born in March 2015 when an old horse stable at the back of the Brackenrigg Inn Watermillock, was converted into the brew house.  After a few months of trialling recipes, the first ale named ‘Boathouse Blonde’ was brewed and served in the bar at the Brackenrigg Inn.

The Brewery currently has five regular ales available at the Brackenrigg, Inn, including Alfred’s Golden Ale, The Rambling Bookkeeper Bitter, The Steamer Stout and Aira Force IPA.  Seasonal ales make an appearance throughout the year; including a Marmalade ale as part of Dalemain’s Marmalade Festival on the 17th March.

The new 500ml bottle range, has been well received locally and is stocked in a variety of bars, restaurants and shops across the county including Chestnut House in Pooley Bridge, The Sunn Inn Newton Reigny, The Kings Arms in Stainton, Glenridding Mini Market, The Royal at Dockray, Beer Shop Ambleside, House of Malt in Carlisle and Embers Bar in Carlisle.

The bottled beers are also being shipped further afield to Leicester, Nottingham, Wigan, Ingleton and Clitheroe.

Ben Clementson is the Master Brewer behind Brack’N’Brew’s Ales and has been with the brewery from day one. Ben comments,

“We always had a plan to sell our beers in other establishments across Cumbria right from the start.  The range of new bottles have been very well received and we have noticed an increase in sales as a result.  We are very much looking forward to working with more stockists across the country.”

As well as supplying their 500ml bottle range of beers to retailers and bars, Brack’N’Brew is looking to supply their cask ales to an exclusive number of pubs in Cumbria.  The Brewery wants to ensure the exclusivity of the ales, but hopes to supply a select number of establishments with their range of ales in the next year, as well as opening an online shop to sell their bottled craft ales via the internet.

 

ENDS