Posts in Dorset business
Dorset printer tweets its way to new customers

Is it possible to build a service business entirely through social media? That’s the question I wanted to hear Kevin Swindell answer when I met him to discuss his brave new venture—Wyke Print Solutions. I first spotted Wyke Print Solutions on Twitter in 2014 and could see right away that the business was serious about finding success through social media. Through its tweets it demonstrated consistency, quality and engagement—three essential ingredients for developing a trusted presence on the network.

Soon afterwards I met Kevin at a networking event organised by Weymouth & Portland Chamber of Commerce and we ended up on the same table at the Chamber’s Christmas lunch.

I was keen to talk to Kevin about the way he had built up his business using social media and we later met over a pint at the Wyke Smugglers and spent an enjoyable hour of discussion around design, marketing and social media.


The background to Wyke Print Solutions

Like so many of us, Kevin’s self-employed career began with redundancy. His entrepreneurial abilities were already surfacing and he had wanted to experiment with social media on behalf of his employer but was held back.

Once released, he decided to merge his understanding of print, his passion for design and his desire for control. Wyke Print Solutions was the outcome—a printing company without any printers.

Kevin spotted an opportunity to utilise the spare capacity in existing print firms by selling his own design service together with the printed product. When you order from Kevin, he creates the artwork and sources the printer, meaning your product is designed, printed and delivered to your door. And he has a ‘thing’ about quality.

Kevin (left) with another satisfied customer
Kevin (left) with another satisfied customer

Which social channels does Wyke Print Solution use?

New to social media in 2013, Kevin began with Twitter and Facebook. These are still his main social networks.

Initially he linked them, so tweets appeared on Facebook and vice versa, but he soon spotted that this was far from ideal. Because each social network tends to be used differently, and presents content differently, automated sharing of messages can lead to posts that look odd or are confusing.

Kevin makes some use of LinkedIn, has established a presence for Wyke Print Solutions on Google+ and uses Pinterest as a source of inspiration rather than a marketing tool.

Winning business with a hashtag

So how about that question I had—about growing a business entirely with social media? Kevin reckons that about 80% of his business comes from his social media activities, and much of that from Twitter. And much of that is as a result of the #dorsethour hashtag.

Since he began in late 2013, Kevin has built a strong portfolio of clients both in Dorset (including me) and further afield. His international reach includes Belgium, Dubai and the USA. Interestingly, he found it easier to source a printer in Florida through LinkedIn than by using Google search.

So how does he make social media work for him? There are no secrets—you can take a look at what Kevin shares on social media and how he engages with other people. In the end it comes down to those three ingredients I mentioned before: consistency, quality and engagement.

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You can follow Wyke Print Solutions on Twitter and Facebook.

Dorset estate agent shares the secret of her social success

Dorchester estate agent Maria Kemp outside her officeMaria Kemp, of Dorchester estate agents Kemp & Co, is something of an icon among the Dorset businesses active on social media. In conversations about the county’s top users of social media marketing, her name comes up again and again. In early 2015 I spoke to Maria about her approach to social media and to learn what sets her apart from her competitors. She was more than happy to share many of her secrets with me, and with you. So in no particular order, here are some of Maria’s insights into using Twitter, Facebook and other social channels to promote your business.

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  1. Dont repeat yourself across the different channels

Kemp & Co are on Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn. And a Wordpress blog or two. And each channel has a different purpose.

YouTube is great for video tours of properties. Twitter is for networking and news sharing. Facebook is largely for promoting charitable activities. Instagram is for sharing wonderful images of local countryside.

Having a clear purpose for each channel makes it easier to know what to post where, and also appeals to different audiences. Maria isn’t really looking to sell houses through social media—she’s building brand awareness so that when people want an estate agent, they come to her.

And it works. She is getting properties through Facebook and Twitter.

Maria Kemp Instagram page

  1. Give social media time to deliver results

Maria’s visibility on social media was not achieved overnight and it involved considerable experimentation. For a while she had two Twitter accounts, one personal and one for the business, but the business-only account was quite dull and it diluted the firm’s presence online.

Now the Kemp & Co account isn’t just the Twitter voice of the business, it’s very much Maria’s voice, opinions and all. Being herself makes the account more real and easier for people to engage with.

It took Maria two years to achieve breakthrough on Facebook and she’s still working on developing a clear strategy for other networks, such as LinkedIn.

Many small businesses struggle to find time for social media. Maria has made a point of finding the time, often several hours every day. Her main social media device is an iPhone, although at busy times, such as during #dorsethour, she can be using a phone and two laptops.

  1. Expect more than just sales from social media

The benefits of tweeting and putting posts on Facebook go way beyond selling. The fact that Maria is so well known in the business community, for her social media use, is a measure of the brand recognition she’s achieved. If I wanted to sell a house in Dorset, I know which agent I’d go to first.

Kemp & Co are well known among the national estate agent community, because of their visibility online. Maria regularly talks to agents in other parts of the country, sharing news and ideas.

She and her team respond quickly to enquiries through social media, building credibility with potential customers. They are well informed about issues in the housing market, both sales and letting, sharing fresh news and information to demonstrate that they’re in touch.

Contacts made through social networking have enabled Maria to get better deals on business purchases.

  1. Measure the results of your social media activities

Maria Kemp with Venus Award certificate

Perhaps surprisingly, Maria doesn’t pay a lot of attention to the analytics made available by the social networks. That’s because she knows what works.

The analytics, such as how many people have seen a tweet or Facebook post, or how many followers you have, can provide some insights, but it’s hard for a small business to really measure the value of social media through these numbers.

Maria knows that social media is working because of the number of opportunities coming her way through the social channels, and the high recognition of the Kemp & Co brand around the county. She also sees people recommending her business via social media, which is a powerful endorsement.

One number that she does pay close attention to is Kemp’s ranking on the Zoopla Property Power 100, a respected leaderboard in the industry. She is usually in the top 10 and has been for a very long time.

  1. More social media marketing tips from Maria

What works for Kemp & Co may not be the right approach for your business. But here are some other tips from Maria, based on her experience of using social media:

  • Don’t put your Twitter feed on your website.
  • Remember that social media activity has an impact on your website ranking on search engines.
  • Don’t worry about trolls. You may encounter some negatives and it’s best to just ignore them.
  • Avoid scheduling too many posts. Maria rarely schedules anything.
  • Be prepared to meet a lot of people. That’s been Maria’s experience.

To see how Maria is using social media, visit her Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages.

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Getting good with Google+ - How one Weymouth guest house uses social media

Dorset’s guest houses, B&Bs and hotels are beginning to find their way with social media. One that’s seeing some success, on a network that many businesses overlook, is Morven Guest House in Weymouth. Morven House Google+ pageRun by husband and wife team Matthew and Nancy Lambley, Morven is a four star, nine-bedroomed guest house within a short walk of Weymouth seafront. It’s open between 1 May and 1 October every year.

Having been there for 25 years, the Lambley family has experienced the massive disruption that the digital revolution brought to the hospitality trade. “Years ago, we advertised in the Weymouth Guide, which was advertised in the Radio Times and TV Times at Christmas. From that, we had loads of phone calls during January and February,” said Matthew.

Today, the phone still rings, but not so often nor so predictably. Bookings also come in through email and social media, particularly Google+, Matthew’s favoured social network.

Social Media Training Banner SmallHow to get results with Google+

Many people I speak to have little interest, or knowledge, of Google+. If they use social media at all, their focus is Facebook and Twitter.

Matthew has chosen to put his energies into Google+, while also using Facebook. The Morven Guest House Google+ Page has around 4,000 followers and has been viewed well over a million times. But the real test is bookings, and here Matthew is satisfied with the results so far.

The best way to understand how Morven uses Google+ is to take a look at their Page. Here you’ll see that Matthew usually posts once each day, sharing a great photo that he’s taken himself. Every post gets upwards of 20 pluses (likes) and most attract some comment.

The result is that Matthew is engaging with his audience, and that engagement translates into bookings. Many come from overseas, particularly Germany. Google+ is much more popular in Germany, Italy and France than it is in the UK.

Having posted an update to Google+, Matthew often puts the same image onto Facebook. But having less than 200 Page likes, the level of interaction per post is much less. That said, he does get bookings through his Facebook Page, as a result of guests sharing with their own network of contacts.

Focusing on the specific interests of customers

Matthew Lambley

Niche marketing, as it’s called, can be a very effective way to get noticed by a specific type of person, and this is an approach taken by Matthew.

Some people are attracted to Weymouth by the scenery, others by the wildlife, or the heritage. Knowing what makes people choose to come here, and then enticing them with great photos and information, is at the heart of Matthew’s strategy for marketing Morven.

Take a look at his photos and you’ll see Dorset presented in splendid variety. Harbour and lighthouse images appeal to those drawn by the coast. Flowers, trees and butterflies catch the eye of nature lovers. Tyneham, Gold Hill and historic buildings whet the appetite of heritage hunters.

The Morven marketing strategy encourages people to get in touch, through Google+, Facebook, email or via the fresh, smart website. Here the phone number is very prominent, making it really easy for people to call with an enquiry.

Theres more to be done when marketing Weymouth

Morven House, Weymouth

I’ve spoken to some B&B owners, frustrated by the trend for people to book at the last minute, only for short stays, and often via a booking website that takes a commission of up to 20%.

The Morven enjoys plenty of advance bookings, many for a whole week, and you won’t find it on the major accommodation websites. But Matthew is neither complacent nor entirely satisfied. The Morven isn’t always at capacity, and he knows that he can’t let up on his marketing efforts.

But he does believe that Weymouth could do better as a whole, and this would lift trade for all those involved in hospitality. The Morven was one of the first Weymouth guest houses to have a website and it’s now one of the few on Google+, and indeed on social media. Matthew is leading the way and setting an example that should inspire others to follow.

To see how Matthew is using Google+ to promote Morven House, visit the Google+ page.

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