Six steps to avoid being on the back foot online

The cobbler’s children have no shoes. This is a common complaint for SMEs – that you’re so busy working for your clients that you’re not taking care of your own. This can take two forms – either that you’re hustling so hard that you’re burning the candle at both ends and then end up with health issues, or that you are so engrossed with the work for this month that you’ve not lined up any for next – creating a common feast and famine cycle. A recent Forbes article claims that even Coca-Cola spent 18.3% of revenue in 2018 on marketing and advertising –  a spend  of $5.8 billion. This equates to nearly one day a week spent marketing. 

Are you doing this? Last week I attended an event run by content guru Janet Murray ( where the speakers between them had an online reach of over 6million followers. Over many presentations, different platforms were covered in huge detail, from SEO and getting found on Google to whether there is any point to Twitter (jury’s still out!).

So I’m sharing six key takeaways from my trip for business owners who have an interest in growing their client base which will ensure that their marketing and communication efforts will work.

Be constant: Posting regularly is vital. Tumbleweed blowing around a social media presence does not inspire confidence to a visitor at all. It’s the online equivalent of newspaper taped across a shop window. If you’re not comfortable using a specific network, then just delete your profile and don’t use it, but pay decent attention to the ones you do like. 

Be on video:  YouTube algorithms reward those who are posting regularly. Many of my clients and even I myself are intimidated by video. But I’ve been so inspired by this event, I’ll be opening my own channel this very week. Its potential to help you get found online is huge and it’s easier than ever to make a watchable video.

Be realistic: Everyone starts with 0 followers. Don’t get caught up on how many (or few) likes and followers you have, instead , engagement – people talking back to you, is actually of more importance. 

Be organised: Posting regularly online does take time and planning but if you are creating content that is valuable then the right people will find you, but be mindful that it takes many “touch points” before you make sale.

Be artistic:  Images matter – don’t just snap any old thing – try and think about photo composition. This doesn’t need to be photoshopped to death, you’re not a Kardashian.  But do ensure that what you’re posting reflects you and your business.

Be true to yourself: Remember that your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room – make sure you’re polite and helpful and the clients will find you. 

Which of these steps can you take to make sure you’re building your business for the future? 

Why I’m attending Build Your Audience Live 2019

I’ve been attending events run by Janet Murray for over 10 years. When she was a journalist she ran a forum for fellow freelance journalists (like me) and we had get-togethers that were legendary. So I know that she packs value in .

It’s also really important to me to invest in learning new skills which I can bring to my clients. What’s great about this is that Janet’s events are paired with networking and meeting the best in the industry which makes them a pleasure to attend. Oh and the food is always amazing.

I’m already excited about the food at the event.

Janet does a great job of bringing people together. Her events aren’t rushed and have lots of opportunity to mingle and make connections. As in everything she does, she goes the extra mile in creating delegate info so you can see who’s attending and be sure not to miss someone who could be a useful contact or even potential colloborator.

Many of the contacts I have met through Janet have become of great help professionally – if I’m not working directly with them, then they’ve been able to point me in the direction of help/clients. It’s been a huge help. I’m so convinced that this event will be brilliant, I’m providing a free gift for the goody bag.

You’ll meet some of the world’s most inspiring marketing experts – all of whom have built a large online audience on a particular platform (or several) and are generating income online  (including passive income from courses, memberships and affiliate marketing).

What’s great is that you don’t just get to hear them speak…you get to hang out with them for the full two day event.  I only met the inimitable Gary Vaynerchuk by sheer fluke when I shelled out over £1000 to go to TNW in Amsterdam back in 2016. But with Janet’s event so you can chat to speakers over, coffee, lunch, dinner – and get personalised advice during dedicated table talks.

Plus I know it’s a chance to spend a few days with like-minded coaches, consultants, experts and entrepreneurs who are also looking to build their online audience.

Janet has pulled together a longer version of 10 reasons to attend that you can view here. But there’s so much that I’m looking forward to: I met the supremely charistmatic Youtuber Jess Dante at another JM event and was impressed with her knowledge. I have been following manly pinterest guru Jeff Sieh for ages so am already working out which early train I need to get to the breakfast session. And I love love love a live tweet along at an event so am excited to hear more from #FOMOcreator May King Tsang on anything I may have missed.

All in all I know it’s going to be a cracking couple of days. If you’re looking for a way to build your audience, I can highly recommend it.

I think BYAL tickets are no longer available but worth a shot to try and grab your ticket here: If not add yourself to the waitlist for Janet’s November event, pronto.

My only query now – what on earth to wear? On the first day I’m planning to be in my trusty Temperley animal print dress, so you can recognise me from my photo. But Day 2? Having watched MamaLifeLondon on what to wear for a conference, I’m seriously considering a pink blazer!.

You’ll recognise me in the animal print

Where to start with social media marketing

This is a question I get asked a lot by my clients: ” I know I need to be doing more with my social media but I don’t know where to start.”

Well, first of all look at what resource you have.  Small business owners are often wearing many hats and don’t have the time or expertise to spend hours creating social media content. This is where an experienced company like Gingham Cloud can step in – providing bespoke training to help you on your way or managing the whole process for you.

Gingham Cloud 9 plain talking tips to get you started

  1. Many people are afraid to dive into social media. Kick perfectionism to the kerb and just do it already. Start small and keep going.
  2. On which note, commit to posting regularly and actually do it. Set a reminder on your phone or look into a scheduler.
  3. Don’t spread yourself too thin. It’s so much better to be doing brilliantly and consistently on one network than a flash in the pan on many.
  4. Go where your customer is. No point in killing it on Snapchat if your ideal consumer is a 40 year old yummy mummy as she’s much more likely on Instagram or Facebook.
  5. Forget what you know about traditional marketing – where social media really adds value is that it allows you to listen to your customers – not just broadcast to them.
  6. Analytics help you measure your return on investment. But if you’re a one-man band this doesn’t need to be a big complicated metrics based spreadsheet. A notepad with numbers of followers week on week is a good place to start.
  7. Don’t forget the call to action – make sure you end every blog, post, photo or pin making sure your customer can get back to you.
  8. But don’t forget that it’s unlikely that you’d walk up to someone in the street and demand that they buy something from you, so don’t do it on social media.
  9. Don’t worry too much about creating huge amounts of content yourself to start off with (though there is obviously huge value in being an expert and bringing people to your page). Instead, remember that you can share the content of others and still be informative, entertaining and fun.

Does this sound like an actionable plan? Gingham Cloud are launching evening workshops in Herts this October – get in touch to book.









How supporting local causes provides a massive ROI for SMEs

Dolls on the globe

Why Small Businesses Should Donate to Local Charities

Maybe you’re reading this because you’ve have had a request to support a local charity and you’re not sure whether it’s a good way to boost your marketing effort.

In terms of ROI – it really is a no-brainer. It’s a cheaper form of advertising often without actually having to spend much cash.

A Foresters survey in the UK found that 89% of consumers think businesses should support charities and their local communities.

82% said that when offered a choice between identical products or services, their purchasing decision would be affected by whether a company engaged with charities and its local community. Yes that said 82%. That’s eight out of ten cats folks.

It makes sense for a local business to choose to support a local charity both in terms of visibility and reach – local people are at local fundraisers.

Estate agents are pretty canny with this – they frequently pay to have “for sale” boards erected around a local community stating how they’re sponsoring the local fete. Great publicity for them and drives traffic to the event. Win Win.

Product based businesses can find a home for an otherwise unusable end of line item easily by offering it as a prize. Service based businesses can offer vouchers – again bearing in mind that he UK Gift Card & Voucher Association reckon that  as many as ten per cent of cards expire, are forgotten about – or simply lost once won. The business still retains the kudos of having offered the prize. Plus, it’s perfectly acceptable to attach terms and conditions to a prize (e.g a restaurant donates a free meal but winners must buy drinks  or a venue donates an off-peak weekday birthday party).

So,  have some pretty cards printed up “kindly donated by  your business  with the company logo and attach to the prize. It can be as small as a box of chocolates or a bottle of wine. As they say “every little helps.” Of course if you can afford to be more generous, your charity will raise more and will of course be more grateful.  And don’t forget, smaller charities massively value any corporate sponsor – you won’t just be one of many.

Budget cuts and the credit crunch have had biggest impact on local charities so your help will make a really big difference.

Plus you’ll get more bang for your buck. This is because a higher percentage of the value of your offering will go the work of the charity because local causes tend to have much lower overheads.

Of course in return for your donation (no matter how small)  a chosen charity should have active accounts on social media,  a decent website which can feature their donors and good relations with the local press to shout about fundraising activities.

I can’t recommend this enough. By visibly supporting local charities like this, a particular business can become synonymous with supporting the community in the minds of local people.

From a personal perspective it certainly boosted Gingham Cloud’s visibility as a fledgling business when we paid to sponsor the entertainment at a local black tie fundraiser.

Are you looking for help with your fundraising and marketing efforts? Do get in touch and we can arrange a coffee to see how we can help.

Takeaways from Social Day UK 2017

Social Day was a one day event in London bringing together a variety of experts who shared their knowledge and expertise. Here’s what we learnt.

It’s all about storytelling

Janet Murray explains how press and tv coverage add “bling” to your website and your credibility

Janet Murray PR expert gave us tips on how to get use social media to obtain press coverage in the traditional print media. This in turn provides a business with credibility and so can make a dramatic difference in sales. Check out the hashtag #journorequest on Twitter to see if any journalists are looking to talk to someone like you. Her basic advice though? Share the story others want to hear, not the story YOU want to tell.

If you want to really capture attention, stories are where it is at, explained Snapchat specialist Sumaiya Omar. She provided a very powerful (if hard to watch) demonstration of the impact of how video and stories can provide insight that doesn’t come from any other medium by showing us footage from Rania Ibrham’s harrowing video as she and her neighbours tried to flee the fire on the 23rd floor of Grenfell Tower.  She also advised that video is super easy to repurpose if you shoot with Snapchat’s spectacles so watch this space on that.

Video video video

We all keep reading how important it is to go live and yet we’re all embarrassed to put ourselves out there. This week I felt the fear and did it anyway, thanks the charismatic Garry aka The Optician Social Media Guy.  I learnt that actually I’m probably better off doing an interview based format. But the real top tip on going live came from SuperPeriscoper and serial live broadcaster MrASingh.  Think about your content first. Don’t worry about how many followers or viewers you have when you’re live. If you’re going to feel dejected and depressed by seeing how few people are watching, put a post-it note or some blu-tac over the viewer numbers. This allows you to just focus on offering something interesting for people. (Often many people view later rather than live anyway, so this really is great advice to concentrate on adding value with what you’re actually saying.


Twitter handle embroidered on shirt cuffs. Love this.

It’s not enough to be liked.

The keynote from the super energetic founder of Youpreneur Chris Ducker claimed that it’s not enough to be liked – you have to be people’s favourite. He also reminded us how important it is to avoid being distracted by  shiny things.
His secret? FOCUS –  Follow One Course Until Success

Follow One Course Until Success – FOCUS


Twitter’s Bruce Daisley gave us a few key stats on the microblogging platform. Twitter now describes itself as a news app. Users go on to Twitter with a discovery mindset and this means that they are more attentive, responsive and more trusting than on other platforms. This can easily be summed up in this cartoon.

Virtual Reality specialist Sarah Jones was saying that the beauty of a VR is that it’s an immersive experience and so its stories are much deeper. The fact that you’re in a headset means that you can’t be “second screening”. That’s the technical term for what we all do, with one eye on House of Cards, and the other on your weekend plans in your WhatsApp groups. It’s this focus that makes VR valuable and exciting.

Victoria Taylor from UntwistedSocial Media is all about the bubbles. Not prosecco -though I think she likes that, too!. But using the DM facility on Instagram and FB messenger to get in touch with people. All part of the  know/like/trust cycle which  ultimately drives sales.

Speaker of the day for me, by far,  was the irrepressible Growth Hacker Vin Clancy who  just shared so much value, it’s going to be a blog post all of its own. Watch this space for more.

3 fail safe strategies to make the most of a big event like the #Oscars without making a #pwcfail

trending with hashtag

So the truth has come out – it turns out that Bryan Cullinan, PwC partner in charge of envelopes at the Oscars (R) was responsible for the mix up over Best Picture and it was he who managed to hand over the wrong envelope to Hollywood legends Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty.

Cullinan had spoken to HuffPost on the mechanics of the evening, and there was a BBC piece focusing on how he and fellow PwC partner Martha Ruiz memorise the winners, and enjoy their red carpet moment.

Throughout the run up to the event  evening, he had tweeted including with throwback photos of last year’s photobombs on the red carpet using the PwC hashtag.

And just moments before Beatty hesitated, re-checked the envelope and then rather unchivalrously allowed Dunaway to spill the wrong beans, Cullinan tweeted an exclusive backstage shot of Emma Stone with her statuette….

BUT perhaps this is the problem – perhaps the multitasking and pressure to get as much out of the event in terms of social media output was his downfall.

So I’m sharing my three super easy strategies to making the most of a BIG trending event without landing yourself in hot water

1 Think ahead of time about what you want to achieve – do you really want or need your own trending hashtag?  In PwC’s case they are seen as a boring accountancy firm and this was their chance to shine and glitter and showcase that they do other things outside of audit. BUT with the best will of the world, nobody (outside of other employees at the firm) was using the #pwc hashtag on Oscar night. (until it all went wrong)

2 Of course use your phone for pics and videos – of course but remember, you can showcase exclusive behind the scenes stuff AFTER the event and still take advantage of trending hashtags – be sure to plan to leave time to pull together a best bits blogpost at the end of an event.

3 Finally, make sure that you focus on the task at hand. Of course, it’s helpful to document what you’re doing but the key component is be present for the people around you. This way you can give all your attention to the real reason you’re at the event.

If you’re looking for help with your social media strategy, do get in touch.