Starting a small business in your early sixties is a bit daunting and you quickly discover where your skills gaps lie! However, on balance, I have been pleasantly surprised at my ability to learn new skills and tackle new things, and am frankly amazed at how much help is out there. In this blog I hope to capture the learning curve involved in marketing The Leader and how we tackled our gaps in knowledge and understanding.
Whilst I had previously led a team of marketing and communications specialists, I had little hands-on experience of web development/design, email marketing or design and print, and I was frequently reminded of the old adage “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” But “seek and ye shall find” was equally true. Thanks Google, YouTube and online helplines!
High five Strikingly happiness officers
So, our first dilemma was around our choice of website platform – and whether or not we could build this ourselves.
At an RBS business event we learned about Strikingly whose mission is to bring beautiful mobile websites to everyone. We decided to give this a go, and with a mix of dogged determination and amazing customer service from Strikingly’s “happiness officers” I designed and built The Leader website. The proof of the pudding will be in the google analytics, but we will remain optimistic!
We undertook a lot of research around content creation and felt that the Storybrand approach was the clearest and simplest way to convey our message. The Storybrand framework focuses on the customer as the “hero”, and this approach actually turned my previous experience of content writing on its head.
Strikingly provide royalty-free photos from Unsplash, and literally thousands of fabulous images are available on the Unsplash site, so that was our go-to resource for the majority of images, augmented by some of our own taken on our Galaxy S8 mobiles.
Our choice of domain name provider was a small Scottish company, Calico UK who offer .scot domain names, which was particularly important to us. Their phone and email support have been great, and they handled the technical aspects which were outwith my sphere of knowledge and understanding and too far up the learning curve.
Digital immigrant v digital native
One of our underpinning goals was to provide free, open-source learning materials and hints and tips on leadership. One strand of this is through our regular newsletter, Insight Added, and since I had some knowledge of MailChimp, I felt this would be the best platform to use. I won’t pretend that I sailed through the process, and strangely enough I found building the website less complex than setting up a MailChimp campaign. Some of that may be due to my status as a digital immigrant and my tendency to over-analyse! A digital native would probably have done it in half the time. "Let's just press this button and see what happens."
My experience of the MailChimp helpline has been excellent. YouTube was also a great knowledge bank of short tutorials on various MailChimp processes. So thank you to all those generous people out there who take the time to share their knowledge and experience.
Our off-line marketing choices were limited by our budget, and I was able to find two excellent online design and print companies, Helloprint and Vistaprint. Using their templates and helplines I was able to create a comprehensive information pack with business cards, leaflets, compliments slips, a promo coffee mat, bookmark and an overprinted envelope.
Strikingly has its own self-contained blog manager which has been a delight to use, so we have no excuse for not keeping you entertained with a series of blogs which we hope will be factual, informative but also a good read.
In today’s fast-moving environment, small businesses need to be flexible, agile and responsive. But with plenty of coffee, a little bit of know-how, perseverance and a willingness to experiment, I’ve discovered you can produce high-quality professional materials on a very small budget.
Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.
Take care. Lead well.