Develop your website and digital marketing painlessly11 August 2021
Sue Jerham is the Director of National Forest E-Bike Holidays, which provides “Self-guided electric bike and walking holidays for the gentle adventurer”. Here she shares how learning digital skills has transformed her business.
I worked for the same company for 25 years as a Marketing Manager in a franchise organisation so I had lots of practical marketing experience but my IT and digital marketing skills were pretty negligible.
I got made redundant and had the idea of setting up this business, so I went and had a chat with North West Leicestershire District Council about my ideas. They were very responsive and when I told them I needed help with creating an online presence, , they signposted me to these courses. The courses were just fantastic because not only did they go into so much depth but also because they gave me lots of information to take away.
That was my starting point and since then I’ve done quite a few digital growth courses. What they made me realise is that there is some amazing support out there, from people who are really highly qualified, providing practical advice on what to do in the real world, and at very little cost.
Then fast forward to last year when the one to one support was offered. I learned about that as part of the Tourism Rebuild initiative with Sally Coleman and Business Gateway. At that point I had decided that launching walking holidays would be a great way of using the down time. I’d always intended to do this but had never got round to it. I could see that E-bike holidays got found on Google but had no idea why, how or where. The digital consultancy was a great way of having the SEO audit of the website and working out what was working, what could be better and talking through the challenges of what to do with walking holidays and how to include them in my offer.
Not only am I non-technical but I’m also dyspraxic so not very practical. It was great to have someone show me where to start and give me clear instructions on what I needed to go and do. And they gave me confidence too.
I got advice on how best to reach my target audience through digital channels – so whether to use Google ad words or other options – and that saved me from wasting money. I’m not naturally interested in the ‘science’ behind Google ad words but I learned enough to meet my needs. You have to think about the search terms you don’t want results for as well as the ones you do and of course I didn’t have that expertise in house.
It is such a useful programme and particularly as the tourism sector has been closed for such a long time. In fact, I’ve just recommended it to a bed and breakfast business because they said they were not great with computers and online marketing. This will give them the confidence they need. It’s hard if you’re a small business trying to do everything because you can’t be a specialist in everything and the digital world changes so quickly.
With websites, one of the things I wanted to avoid is getting a website built by an agency who then charge me for updating it every time. I wanted to have the skills to be in charge of my own website so that i can change it when required . I built my website in Wix and it works well for me. The benefits of being able to do it myself are huge actually and if you search for e-bike holidays I come out near the top of the first results.
It doesn’t matter what the gap is in your knowledge. There’s something in the programme for you and I think it’s amazing how much it can turbo boost you through. So rather than sitting there doing something in a long-winded fashion, you can become efficient by finding a digital solution to it or ways that you can give a better service to a customer via digital.
One of the spinoffs I had from talking to Ian Lockwood was learning about Trello which I now use all the time to manage my projects and communications. I’m sure in small businesses which are run by older people who didn’t grow up with IT, there are lots of efficiencies to be had which will save you time and money.
Working with one of the Business Gateway advisers Joanna Moore made me think about things differently because they asked me why I did things a certain way. They’re outside looking in, they’ve got heaps of knowledge, they understand the business environment and it’s great. It wasn’t something I’d gone into the programme for, but it was great.
One of the things I’ve been talking to Joanna about is whether I should take on a Digital Kickstarter – a young person who is a digital native – and I’ve got things they could learn in return from my 40 years in Marketing. That’s what I’ll be looking into next.
The programme is called Digital Solutions for your Business Challenges and it is available to any Leicester and Leicestershire based businesses that have been trading approximately 12 months, from any sector and with no restrictions on business size or turnover.
You will receive up to 8 hours, completely free of charge, 1:1 digital diagnostic, adoption and development business support from a team of digital experts, available for a minimum of 32 businesses.
To find out more and apply, please speak to one of our Business Advisers on 0116 366 8487.