BRAVE, Bristol’s Enterprise Agency, has a proud mission:
to promote the creation of small businesses and support the development of Bristol’s small business sector.
And for over 30 years it has fulfilled this mission.
The problem faced by BRAVE today
However, today it operates on a skeleton staff and a shoestring budget, the result of the changes in funding for ‘business support’ and the structure of the ‘enterprise sector’.
For Liz Sands, BRAVE’s spirited manager, the focus remains unchanged:
- Provide top class client support
- Run the office efficiently
- Obtain the funding required to maintain a high level of service.
Yet BRAVE’s management team knew it wasn’t promoting the agency’s good work well enough. Marketing strategy and tactics hadn’t been reviewed or updated for some time. This coincided with the imminent, seismic changes to the enterprise sector expected after the 2010 election. More than ever before it was crucial for BRAVE to be positioned as a major player in business support for Bristol.
Finding a low cost but canny solution
Working with BRAVE, I planned and implemented a low cost content marketing and social media strategy. In short, this involved:
- Identifying successful businesses that had used BRAVE services in some way
- Interviewing them to produce a business profile for each that promoted the new business and BRAVE at the same time
- Placing these good news business stories in the local and national media
- Promoting the articles heavily across Twitter and the blogosphere
- Training BRAVE staff in the new rules of marketing and PR, plus the tactics to deliver measurable marketing results for little or no cost.
It wasn’t difficult to uncover positive stories about BRAVE from the people it had advised. Over eight weeks I interviewed a fascinating bunch of entrepreneurs managing a wide variety of new businesses. Some examples:
- Metal fabrication and steelwork
- Online clothes retailer for big and tall men
- Video and motion graphics agency
- Home-cooking café
- Removals and storage business
Each story had its own narrative and insights. It was remarkable to hear how BRAVE’s early support and advice had been invaluable to these entrepreneurs.
With the content in the bag I placed the articles in the local and national media (editors are always hungry for good news about UK business).
Using the social web to build a community
I had a clear idea of the type of person BRAVE needed to reach and support, its stakeholders’ agendas, and the kind of policymaker it needed to influence. Twitter proved a great way of connecting BRAVE directly with local start-ups, businesspeople, PRs and journalists. We agreed initial objectives for Twitter:
- Build a Bristol-based following comprising its main target markets
- Tweet daily about business, enterprise, BRAVE services, and Bristol more generally
- Engage with the Twitter following as it grew.
The series of inspiring case studies I’d created meant it was relatively easy to implement a systematic Twitter programme. There was plenty to tweet about, not just the case studies, but the day to day work of an active agency.
What are the results?
The project lasted eight week — but the results will last much longer:
- 600+ new, relevant, Bristol-based followers
- Four positive local media articles reaching a combined readership of 100k+
- 50% uplift in training and seminar bookings
- A bank of valuable content for future social marketing
- Trained, confident staff ready continue the work using proven tools and systems.
Contact me to discuss how to boost the profile of your organisation.