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What’s lip balm got to do with a Royal Wedding?

Royal Wedding What’s lip balm got to do with a Royal Wedding? This was the exact question I asked myself when an ad for a very well known brand of lip balm popped up in my Instagram feed. Oh- did I forget to mention- it was a special edition Harry and Meghan wedding edition one? Yep- I thought it was a bit strange too… and even though the angle is clear, it still feels odd to me. As a long game strategy, what does it bring to the table?

Has lip balm got anything to do with a Royal Wedding?

In my opinion? Nope. But then I don’t think that half the wedding themed stuff I’ve see has either. I completely 100% understand why people have brought out Royal Wedding themed things, I really do, but for me it’s got to fit the brand. It always has to feel on brand and not like the company is clutching at straws. An attempt to grab a bit of the spotlight when it’s shining a long way away from them and their brand. Do you know what I mean? Capitalising on the things that your brand is doing, that match the values of your brand – absolutely – but when it’s random? It just feels odd. Like a vegan friend eating a steak because it’s now on trend and popular.

But it gets even weirder than lip balm…

Yep… after that Royal Wedding edition of lip balm popped up, I kept seeing everything connected to the Royal Wedding. And don’t think I’m anti that either – I really hope they make each other very happy and live happily ever after. I have no issue with weddings, or marriage, or the Royals, or businesses trying to capitalise on a current event – newsjack if you will – it can have huge value. Note the use of the word can. I think when done well, and in a way that is reflective of the brand’s values, target market, etc. etc, it can be a very valuable tool. Shall we explore some of the other fun wedding themed products I’ve found? Just for kicks… I’m not going to name brands because I am sure there’s more than one doing the same thing… but here we go…

Wedding sausages. The one I found did amuse me as it combined sweet ginger and American mustard, but a wedding sausage still seems a bit of a stretch,

Crisps. I’ve seen ones combining ginger with edible glitter

Swimming costumes. These are very, very special and Harry’s chin groove falls in a really awkward place…

Dog neckerchiefs… because all dogs are pro the Royal family, aren’t they?

Specially designed deep fried chicken buckets. No other words needed 

Wooden spoons. So you can see Meghan or Harry’s face when you’re cooking.

There are more – plenty more… just have a Google.

 

So, why do I object to these? On one hand, I don’t. All of these have attained many column inches online which has, no doubt, raised the profile of the brands involved. It’s probably generated significant sales too. So that’s gone well…

But long term… will it make a difference to the brand, to loyalty, to product development and reputation? Will it make people become raving fans of the brand… or fans at all? For some, it might do. If someone tries one of the wedding themed sausages or crisps and really likes it, they might be tempted to buy more from that brand. Maybe. Or maybe they make a ‘serious’ company that prides itself on a range of values appear more flippant and frivolous?

What do you think? What Royal Wedding themed products have you seen?

Do you think they’re a stroke of marketing genius or a bit tacky?

Social media and marketing trends for 2018

social media and marketing trends for 2018For my last Haynet podcast of 2017, Sam asked me about social media and marketing trends for 2018 for equestrian and rural business. This was a fun one to do as it gave me a very good excuse to dig around the internet, to see if other bloggers and experts agreed with my thoughts. And it was very nice to read that they did. Of course, it’s hardly surprising. My personal thoughts and predictions are based on what I’ve seen over the last 12 months. And really that’s all we can do. We don’t know what amazing update Facebook might have planned. Or what Instagram might be plotting. Of course, we can look at the path the platforms have taken and the trends that we’ve seen and make educated guesses based on this. And is that enough? Well yes, I think it is. You see, we can’t predict the future, all we can do is plan the best we can using the information we have. And I hope the social media and marketing trends podcast will do that. For those who have listened and were keen to have my thoughts in written form, here they are. I would LOVE to hear your thoughts too – what do you think we’re going to see more of in the next 12 months? What marketing, social media and PR developments do you think we’ll see? I’d love to know…

Social media and marketing trends for 2018 for equestrian and rural business

The Haynet podcast is aimed at equestrian and rural businesses, and while all of the points below most definitely apply to equestrian and country businesses, I think they’re more generic in nature. Even though our businesses in this sector are niche, the big platforms aren’t. And that’s fine. Actually, it’s more than fine, it’s exciting. When looking at social media, these global platforms allow us to hook up with our niches in different countries and continents. But anyway, my thoughts on social media and marketing trends for 2018 for equestrian and rural business…

  • Digital is going to continue to grow. This is not really a crazy prediction based on everything we’ve seen over the years!
  • There will always be a place for quality magazines, but due to the online competition, only the best will rise. I think we’ll also see more of the great magazines increasing their digital and online reach.
  • Instagram will continue to grow – especially with innovations like Instagram stories, insights for business accounts, ads linked to Facebook, etc.
  • Facebook will continue to evolve, change, improve, annoy people and dominate.
  • Influencer marketing will continue to grow, but I also believe that influencers will become more professional and take their roles more seriously. And I think that those who don’t will have a much more challenging time working with brands.
  • Live Streaming is going to continue to grow. The platforms that support it love it. It’s great for engagement and connection and brings people from all corners of the globe together in one place.
  • Virtual reality and augmented reality. I think we’re going to see this become bigger too, but I don’t think it’ll be mainstream this year…
  • Video. Yep – video is big and exciting now, and I think it’s going to continue to grow. There are so amazing predictions relating to how much video content we are due to consume in the next few years.
  • Silent videos. With the increase in video, we also need to be aware that a lot of videos are enjoyed in silence, so it needs to wow in this way. And this will be more important than ever as video becomes more present on our social media feeds.
  • Shoppable social media. To make it easier for people to buy what they’re seeing.
  • Messenger platforms are going to become more commercial. 
  • Quality content will continue to win. ‘Engagement bait’ is being clamped down on, so real, quality content is the way forward.

However, let’s be honest, would you have predicted that Twitter would have doubled its character limitto 280? I wouldn’t because, to me, Twitter’s concise nature was in its DNA. So what I’m trying to say is that we’re in for an exciting year one way or another. Are you ready?!

Don’t forget to check out the Haynet Podcast where you can listen to the social media and marketing trends for 2018 podcast and a lot more besides.

The Farm Business Innovation Show is coming… and I’m on the marketing panel

Farm Business Innovation ShowThis week’s Wisdom Wednesday post is a teeny bit different. It’s not so much about the wisdom I’m giving in this post, but more where I’ll be sharing tips and tricks in person, and where you can get a lot more knowledge too. The Farm Business Innovation Show.

What’s the Farm Business Innovation Show?

I’m d-flipping-lighted to be able to share that I am on the marketing panel discussion at the Farm Business Innovation Show. This event, which is held at the NEC on November 8th and 9th, is brilliant for all rural businesses including equestrian, and also takes in glamping, country homes and a few other bits and bobs too. It’s a lovely event – it’s FREE to attend (visit the Farm Business Innovation Show website to find out more), and it’s easy to get to as, well, even I can find the NEC!

Last year I attended the event to watch my friend, client and all round legend, Emma Warren, speak as part of the glamping panel discussion. Emma owns and runs award winning glampsite Dimpsey. Dimpsey is a beautiful shepherd’s hut, based in the Blackdown Hills of Somerset. Build by Blackdown Shepherd Huts, it’s a truly stunning example of what glamping could and should be. In fact, Emma and her lovely husband Andrew have won awards for Dimpsey. But I digress – you can find out more about Dimpsey, its wood fired hot tub (oh yes!) and other facilities on their website. Now. Back to the show…

Why is the Farm Business Innovation Show different?

I have attended a number of events, and a number of trade events too, and each has its own charm. The Farm Business Innovation Show was unlike any other event I have attended, and I really, really liked it. The diversity across the exhibitors was really interesting. One minute I was chatting to the lovely people at The Equestrian Index, then I walked into the Tipi Theatre and Anne Clark from Connected Thinking was giving a talk to a packed tipi full of people. A little further along there was a wooden shepherd’s hut, then there was a stand with alpacas (and they had real ones there), topiary, outdoor play equipment for children, I had a chat with Tally from the fabulous Open Air Magazine. It’s so diverse. And that is just the tip of the Farm Business Innovation Show iceberg.

And this year…

If you’re coming to the Farm Business Innovation Show on Thursday, I’ll be chattering away as part of the marketing panel discussion. I’m really, really delighted to be working with the organisers and rest of the panel for this, and can’t wait to see what questions the assembled group throw at us.

Should you come along to the Farm Business Innovation Show?

If you’re connected with the country and equestrian world in any way, then I would say yes. It’s a really lovely event – I found it quite relaxed (in that there was plenty of space and the layout meant it didn’t feel crowded) and utterly fascinating. They have an excellent timetable of speakers for the two days, there are some great panel discussions, lots of lovely exhibitors and, did I mention it’s free to attend? Yep. I think you pay for parking but there’s no entry fee to enter the show. So you have very little to lose by coming along and a LOT to gain!

Find out more and get your free Farm Business Innovation Show Tickets here.

And there’s more…

Keep your eyes peeled for a new mini blog series all about some of the brilliant speakers. First blog goes live on Friday!

Why the Equestrian Creative Network Awards made my day

Equestrian Creative Network AwardsWhy the Equestrian Creative Network Awards made my day…

Did you wonder why I was so excited when the winners of the Equestrian Creative Network Awards were announced? It was weird, wasn’t it – I didn’t win anything. I wasn’t even runner up. Actually, come to think of it, I didn’t even enter… so why on earth would I be THAT pleased?

Reason one – my clients nailed it

Proud doesn’t even begin to cover how I felt when I received the list of the winners and runners up. Two of my clients won categories (well done Emily at Inkpot & Press and Rachel at Sweet Images Photography) and two took runner up position (well done Rachel and Sophie Callahan Photography). I did an air punch when I saw the results and LOVED sharing in their excitement when the winners were announced. As sad as it sounds, I get WAY more of a kick when my clients do well in contrast to when I do. I’m not sure if that’s weird or not, but it’s the truth. And the honest truth at that. I’m SO FLIPPING PROUD! See the full list here!

Reason two – because Liam nailed it

I like seeing good plans and good ideas work. And Liam Killen, the brains behind the Equestrian Creative Network and these awards did an exceptional job. The entry process was easy, the categories were great, it was run professionally, the press releases were well written and informative (OK, OK, that’s just a little plug for teamwork!) and the awards video was brilliant. Have a watch here. Selfishly, it was really nice to support the Equestrian Creative Network Awards’ PR and work with Liam again. We created the very very successful Equestrian Social Media Awards together and, although the Equestrian Creative Network Awards are 100% Liam’s, it was nice to be a bit of a helping hand in a great idea.

Reason three – Small & Supercharged VIP sponsored a category

Shortly after Small & Supercharged VIP launched, the awards were announced, and Liam asked if I’d sponsor a category with a prize… and the obvious prize was a year’s subscription to S&S VIP. Which I was very happy to provide. I’m delighted to welcome the lovely Amanda from Full Gallop Communications into the group – HUGE congrats on winning your category if you’re reading this!

 

I can’t wait for the next Equestrian Creative Network Awards to roll around if I’m honest with you. I’m hoping that I might be asked to help with the PR again, and I’m hoping I might be able to sponsor a category… and I am definitely hoping my clients do as well, if not better, than this time!

The start of Small & Supercharged VIP

Small & Supercharged VIPSo, today’s blog is as close to a shameless plug as you’ll see on this blog. It’s all about the members group, Small & Supercharged VIP, which launched on 1st July, which was the Saturday just gone… and even though enrolment is now closed for July, you’re still welcome to register for the August intake here. But let me tell you a bit more about it…

What is Small & Supercharged VIP?

The short answer is it’s a membership group designed to support small businesses from all industries through providing resources, support and challenges to help business owners up skill, become a WHOLE lot more visible and grow their businesses. There’s a password protected area on my site for VIPers where all the content lives, but it’s also posted inside the VIP Facebook group each month too. So you get it wherever you try and hide!

How is it different to Small & Supercharged?

Small & Supercharged, the Facebook group that started this whole journey, is a community area. People ask questions, exchange ideas and chat. And it’s great. But what became apparent was the need for additional help and support… and I don’t mean this in a patronising way. I’m a social media, PR and marketing bore. I read wayyyy too many books, I admin far too many accounts (!) on a number of platforms, I advise a lot of businesses and I have been working in PR, social media and marketing, both running my own agency and in house, for over 10 years. I’m not doing this to tell you how brilliant I am. Far from it. See, the thing is, I’m immersed in this stuff each day. Ask me the best EPOS system and you might as well ask me about quantum physics. It’s not my bag. I know people who know (and you’ll find a few in Small & Supercharged!!), but I know how to promote businesses, how to leverage social media platforms, how to grow a tribe of raving fans and how to develop small businesses and products. So what if there was a way to combine the stuff I knew with the stuff that you knew about your business and your customers?

And that’s what kick started the small business coaching service I offer…

Yes, getting under the skin of people’s businesses excites me. I love it. I like finding out how they work, what makes them tick, how they could improve and develop and how they can do this. Seeing my clients do well gives me a bigger buzz than my own successes, always has done to be 100% honest with you. Combining my skill set, knowledge and my passion for learning and development with the business brains of my clients has worked incredibly well for coaching. The one to one environment allows me to give very specific advice, create very specific links and introductions and come up with very specific plans and strategy. Sometimes these sessions involve sending additional materials too, when I email over my recap. This can be through finding useful Youtube videos and articles to summarise what I’m talking about… but where I can I always try and create my own resources.

And then it struck me – other people could make use of these resources too, along with my one to one coaching clients… and Small & Supercharged VIP was born!

Small & Supercharged VIP provides resource packs, challenges and support for just £10pcm. I’ll be completely honest again and say it’s very different to one to one coaching but works very well in conjunction with this but also well on its own. Not everyone wants one to one coaching and that’s fine. But lots of people want to up-skill and work with experts (and I’m not just talking about me, there’s a raft of experts contributing to VIP…) as well as test new ideas in a closed environment. There’s a lovely range of people in VIP so far and I am SO excited to see how it grows and develops. I’m planning to close enrolment on 1st of each month because each month will have a challenge, and someone joining halfway through won’t get the full benefit. But people can register and get themselves set up for the next wave and join the fun for the next month. Here’s the link

A new service from the Equestrian Creative Network that you might like…

Equestrian Creative NetworkAs you may know, I am a member of the Equestrian Creative Network, and have been since it began, actually, here’s my profile if you fancy a look. Headed by the lovely Liam Killen, ECN provides a place where creatives (so that’s marketers, photographers, PRs, magazines, copywriters, illustrators… the list goes on!) can showcase their skills. Equally, it provides a place where people looking for a particular service can come too. But now there’s something new…

How can the Equestrian Creative Network help me?

Well, it depends what you do as a job. If you’re looking for promote your services as a creative in the equestrian industry, it’s great for that, as it’s way more than just a listing. You can add your press releases, videos and more, as you’ll see here. I provide exclusive content and have done an ECN Live too. Using ECN also means that the press releases I choose to publish through the site get promoted on the Newswire and through ECN’s social media feeds… so that’s good.

If you need a graphic designer, or a PR person, or a web developer, or any other creative, then you can pop on over and use the search function. You can select where you want to look by country too.

And as a news outlet, or a magazine, or website, you can receive all the latest news straight into your inbox.

So what’s new on the Equestrian Creative Network?

The Equestrian Creative Network has just added a ‘request a quote’ feature that allows you to add your brief and give relevant professionals signed up to the service the chance to quote. Neat hey? As you’ll see, you can add your budget as well as more information, to help get quotes that are relevant to your needs. Here’s a link to the ‘request a quote’ page on ECN.

 

When should you stop posting on your social media?

When to stop posting on social mediaThis blog post is not one I had planned on writing. Not one that was on my schedule. But it light of the horrific attack that took place in Manchester on Monday night, I felt a need to write it as it’s something I have been asked a lot since. When should you stop posting on your social media?

I woke up to the news of the bomb in Manchester and that was quickly followed by a stream of DMs from clients who were rescheduling all their posts for that day. We chatted, via DM, and agreed it was the correct thing to do, for the morning at least. People were shocked, Facebook and Twitter was full of people’s thoughts about the incident. Some were trying to find loved ones. Some were sharing useful numbers. Some were offering and organising help. It was a horrifying yet warming scene. Something truly awful had happened but people were pulling together, using social media for good, to allow information to reach more people faster than would have been possible previously. Now. How does a product post fit that picture? Is it appropriate to be shouting about your successes when others are distraught? Should you be telling everyone why they should spend their money on your services when some people have had their world torn apart overnight?

Sounds harsh, doesn’t it. It sounds like I’m having a real go at people who chose to post, doesn’t it? Let me explain.

When should you stop posting on social media?

After being involved in the world of marketing and PR for a very long time, I view things differently to your average person. I look at the possible impact on a brand when something is worded incorrectly, when customer service falls below par, when the packaging isn’t fitting. And also I have children and various other life experiences that change how I views things. We all do. People view terrorism differently too. Some people believe that we are letting the terrorists win by changing what we as a nation do – by letting their actions impact on our daily lives. I get that. But that’s not why my clients halted their social media activities. I think it’s fair to say that they gave little/no thought to the terrorists when they made their decision to pull their social media posts. They were thinking of the families and the people involved. It didn’t feel right to tell people to go and look at a new product or anything of the sort. Some chose to share a message of support. Some chose to share useful numbers. Some waited until much later in the day, when people’s initial shock had subsided and they had started to come to terms with it all.

Was it right to hold back? I personally think so. Social media is social and it’s important to read the mood as much as it is to read a room when you enter it and talk about relevant things. Were people wrong who posted? Not necessarily – well, not in my eyes BUT there are lots of caveats to that. I think some people were. Their own beliefs matter and also the actual content would make a big difference. I saw some posts that were done very well and some than made me wince. Physically wince. Would these posts have made me wince on a normal day? Maybe, but not as much.

Luckily we don’t see that many events on this scale, but in our own niches bad things happen. Horses and riders can sometimes die or sustain horrific injuries in various equestrian sports, drivers die racing, players become paralysed playing rugby. These are all tragic. So what do you do then? Do you carry on as normal or do you adjust your content and your tone appropriately. I would say the latter.

What do you think? Did you stop posting on social media?

It’s not about letting terrorists win. It’s about being human and being respectful to people who are suffering. How you decide to do that is up to you. That might be carrying on as normal or it might be changing your social media plan for the day. But just one final thought – if you’re unsure and you don’t post… will anyone be upset?

A few minutes with… Emily Mumford – Inkpot & Press

Emily Mumford from Inkpot and Press is the focus of today’s ‘a few minutes with…’ Emily provides PR, marketing, social media and copywriting support to equestrian and artisan businesses. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Emily for a good while now and I wanted to share her with you!

Tell us about you and your backgroundEmily Mumford Inkpot & Press

I have a degree in English (Lit and Lang) and a Graduate Diploma in Law (I really didn’t know what I wanted to do!). After finishing my GDL I floundered for a month or so and then fell into a job at a beautiful privately owned Doddington Hall, near Lincoln working in their tiny cafe, I ended up developing and running a beautiful Country Clothing Store on the estate which I completely loved! 

While I was working in the store I received an email from Anna Buntine offering me the chance of an interview for what I thought would be my dream role at Bede Events Ltd as Assistant Event Director for 3 International FEI and 5 National BE events and I jumped at the chance – popped along for an interview and two weeks later rolled up at Shelford ready to start my new chapter! And what a chapter it was. I was with Bede for just less than 3 years and the opportunities and experiences I was lucky enough to have were phenomenal. I certainly wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing without them! The respect I have for any event organiser in unending – the dedication, blood (literally, I have a huge scar on my hand as testament to that), sweat, tears (there were plenty) and hours it takes to do what they do is immeasurable.  However there was only so long that I could work silly long hours chasing someone else’s dream while running our busy tree surgery company (Springwood Tree Services Ltd), bringing up a beautiful boy (Finn, now aged 4 and 3/4s) and looking after my own horses so the time came to take the leap and here I am – one whole year on!

What made you want to start a business?

The obvious time came to leave Bede and our tree surgery business was doing pretty well which afforded me the opportunity to have a go at doing what I love – I couldn’t not take it really!

How is Inkpot & Press different?

My little business focusses on supporting small artisan, rural and equestrian companies on their journeys (although I do have one rather large amazing client who I am very proud of!)

What makes your service special?

I listen…

Emily Mumford Inkpot & PressIf you had to sum up your business in five words, what would they be?

Helping other people’s dreams come true 

Do you have a motto or ethos?

Carpe (the freaking) Diem

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring business owner, what would it be?

Consistency is everything – remain consistent in the journey to your goals and the destination will be better than you ever imagined!

One thing that helps you run your business more effectively

Rhea and her blooming amazing business coaching brain… (and the fact she puts up with my neediness!)

Best thing about running a business?

The freedom in terms of time and decision making and the opportunities to work with people and businesses who ignite your passion. 

Worst thing about running a business?

The constant feeling of impending failure… (and never being able to switch off completely!)

Top business blog you follow

Sophie Callahan, Carrie Green and Gary Vaynerchuk – I can’t pick one…

Top business book you’ve read

She Means Business by Carrie Green – It made complete sense.

One thing we might not know about you

I technically died at 21 months old when I had an anaphylactic reaction to a piece of cheese that I had managed to get hold of… 

Top business achievement

There are a couple of very different ones: 

Being an integral part of the team who substantially increased the ticket sales at both Belton and Osberton International Horse Trials for two years running was a huge buzz!

Leading the team who achieved a turn over in excess of £85,000 in a tiny little Country Clothing Store’s first 9 months of trading was pretty cool too. 

Find Emily Mumford online here…

https://www.facebook.com/InkPotandPress/ – FB

@InkPotandPress– Twitter 

https://www.instagram.com/inkpotandpress/ – Instagram

www.inkpotandpress.co.uk 

A few minutes with… Liam Killen – Equestrian Creative Network

 

This week’s ‘A few minutes with…’ features the lovely Liam Killen. Liam is the brains behind the Equestrian Creative Network – a brilliant resource for equestrian and country creatives. Find out more here.

Tell us about you and your background. What made you want to start a business?

I grew up on the family farm in County Down, Northern Ireland. Did the usual Pony Club (East Down ’til I die) and riding club stuff. Did ok at eventing, did pretty well at tetrathlon – until I started smoking *smacks hand*. My parents have a small mares’ stud breeding flat thoroughbreds and my mum’s family own studs in Kildare, so it was almost inevitable that I would follow an equestrian path. I studied for a degree in Equine Management at CAFRE Enniskillen Campus and graduated in 2007. I really excelled in the marketing modules and my tutor in final year urged me to  follow a career in marketing. 

While at Uni I spent a summer interning in Washington DC for Habitat for Humanity in their marketing department. As a result I was able to get a foot in the door at PWC straight out of Uni, in their marketing devision in Belfast. I learned lots about how to be corporate and personality-less. I grew tired quickly and decided to work for a more relaxed organisation, Belfast City Council. I then did the silliest thing ever, and fell in love. DOH! However, it would mean a move to Manchester. My other half (yup, we’re still together nearly 10 years later) is a one of the directors of a software agency and they built a super easy-to-use website tool called PagePlay. I instantly saw its use within the equestrian industry and was given the opportunity to run my own equestrian devision. I don’t think they thought it would work. Fast forward 8 years… roughly 1/3 of all PagePlay sites are horsey! 

In 2010, along with Rhea Freeman – you know her, you’re on her site right now – we set up the Equestrian Social Media Awards (ESMAs). The ESMAs were initially a vehicle through which to spread the good word of social media among equestrian business, and promote PagePlay as an added bonus. They soon became a beast. They ran for four years and by the end we had finalists from every continent and nearly every country. You can see all the finalists and winners’ acceptance speech videos here: http://www.equestriansocialmediaawards.com

The ESMAs exposed a massive gap in the market within the equestrian and rural sectors. During the ESMAs we were inundated by requests from the agencies behind the accounts, with requests for coverage for their work. It suddenly dawned on me… there isn’t a dedicated place for equestrian creative professionals to showcase their work. PR and marketing people are notoriously rubbish as practicing what they preach. Doctor heal thy self, and all that. So that’s where the Equestrian Creative Network came from. 

The Equestrian Creative Network is  a directory and news site for the creative side of the horse world; photographers, PRs, writers, designers and bloggers etc. Members showcase their work with content-rich portfolios and add news stories about their work, their clients’ work and provide valuable information geared specifically towards equestrian businesses. The ESMAs ended in 2014 when we adopted our son (thankfully I stopped smoking by then). Sadly at the moment there just isn’t enough time to run a global online award ceremony. Those were the days!

How is your business different? What makes your products special?

The Equestrian Creative Network is a niche within a niche. We are solely dedicated to showcasing

Liam and one of his parents’ broodmares.

creative talent in all its guises – so long as it’s horsey/country.

If you had to sum up your business in a few words, what would they be?

The place to go to find a creative pro. 

Do you have a motto or ethos?

How can I tailor the Equestrian Creative Network’s reach for each member to get their content in front of the right eyes.  

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring business owner, what would it be?

Go for it. It takes time and by goodness it’s a slog sometimes. But if you put the hours in and really take the time to build relationships you’re half way there.

One thing that helps you run the Equestrian Creative Network more effectively

Social media scheduling. Shhhh… I didn’t say that.

Best thing about running a business?

It’s a bit like raising a child. Through your efforts you see it flourish and develop – sometimes in ways you hadn’t thought when starting out. It’s a pain in the butt at times. But always worth it. 

Worst thing about running a business?

Work/life balance is difficult to achieve at times. I need to stop myself. Should stop myself. Step away

from the emails! 

Liam and his first pony, Foxy Lady. Still knocking about. Her retirement role is as a baby sitter for the foals.

Top business blog you follow

I like Social Media Examiner and like following the work of agencies like Social Chain

Top business book you’ve read

Not really a business book as such, but Rich Dad Poor Dad changed how I look at money and how to use it. 

Top business achievement

The ESMAs. Just phenomenal!

Where can we find you online (web, social)

http://www.equestriancreativenetwork.com

https://twitter.com/equinecreatives

https://twitter.com/abbeyviewequine

Video alert – can you make something negative, positive?

It’s video time! In this video I’m talking all about how you can make something negative, positive – well, how you can take negative feedback generated by a faulty product and turn into a positive. How you can turn this into a great PR opportunity? Does it sound a bit far fetched? I don’t think so…

Is it really possible?

It honestly depends on a number of factors but I think in most cases it can be IF it’s handled properly. I say most cases because it obviously does depend on the ‘damage’ something has caused, this can be a variable and can mean that your task is incredibly difficult if not impossible. However, when I created this video I was thinking more about popular products that we buy that can leave us disappointed, something like clothing or footwear. I’m not talking dodgy seatbelts here. I’m looking at the kind of products that most people sell online.

Any other caveats?

Yes. The dodgy product needs to be unusual. If all your products are substandard you’re basically firefighting and you can’t win long term because everyone is going to be peed off with you because you’ve let them down.

But what about social media?

Yep. Social media has changed the game in this area. Previously people would call the company or email them first – or even take it back to the shop they bought it from – and would follow the correct complaints procedure. Now they take to social media. If you’re lucky they’ll send you a message, but they might just post that you’re Satan on your Facebook page and that they’re bitterly disappointed/the product is cheap and rubbish/they hate you. Before you become a keyboard warrior too, just take a breath. It can be really frustrating and it makes you wonder if you should bother trying to turn this negative into a positive but you should. Honestly. Even if they don’t respond how you’d like, your other customers will see that you’re trying – in some cases they might come to your defence (I’ve seen this happen before…). Acknowledge their message and suggest they DM you or email you with additional information to try and remove the discussion from public view. This has the obvious benefit but also allows you to ask them personal details that they shouldn’t disclose in public. Be nice to them. Try and help them. Obviously you must follow your company’s complaints procedure, but do it in a nice way. If you say you’ll get back to them by a date – DO – even if you have to say you’re still waiting. Keep them informed. Be honest. Be genuine. Be understanding. If you can, send them a goodwill gesture. You’ll be amazed at how these ‘haters’ can become your biggest cheerleaders if treated kindly and respectfully by someone who wants to help them.

Of course, no one should ever be happy with selling substandard products, but sometimes things slip through the net- I’ve had clothes shrink, boots split and all manner of things as I am sure you have. These things happen and people do generally understand. And if you’re nice to them, you might have got yourself a lifelong brand ambassador too.

If you liked this, you might like this blog here – all about turning a negative or fault products into a good PR opportunity.