Mini and Mighty

The Small Business Marketing Consultancy

Hello. Welcome to Mini and Mighty.

Mini and Mighty is a marketing consultancy specifically aimed at small organisations, working across all sectors and covering the full marketing mix. We do everything from websites and branding to copywriting, social media and strategy. Our whole ethos is based around helping micro and small businesses flourish. We are passionate about transferring skills and empowering small businesses to be self-sufficient with their own marketing.

We work flexibly and provide completely transparent pricing options which are fixed so there will never be any nasty surprises.

The art of 'winging it'

I spotted a well known quote the other day:

“The older you get, the more you realise that no one has a clue what they’re doing. Everyone’s just winging it”

There is a lot of comfort in that sentiment and it is something that The Selfish Mother has recognised; they even have a ‘Winging It’ jumper (with all profits going to charity).

Self doubt can creep in at any time but particularly whenever you embark on a new role - whether it’s mother, manager, business owner - and you're terrified you’ll somehow be ‘found out’.

The unknown is a scary place but the rewards can be utterly amazing and nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? 

Venus Williams speaks so much sense on this, and said: "Just believe in yourself. Even if you don't, pretend that you do and, at some point, you will". What a girl.

If this doesn't come easily (and let's be honest, there will always be times self doubt rears its ugly head), make sure to just take one step at a time to avoid becoming too overwhelmed. Also - and this is a biggie - surround yourself with a really good support network who will be on hand when you need it, with a glass of wine to remind you how brilliantly you are doing.

Oh hello, mama bear

This idea for this blog was derived in the most unlikely of places - in an RHS gardens, particularly popular with parents and retirees alike.

Momentarily forgetting it was the summer holidays, I packed my pre-school brood up for a fun day out.

It was in the children's play area that I realised first, my error in going anywhere in the summer holidays and second, my number one fear as a mother - not being able to protect my children from being hurt. And I am not just talking physically. 

When an eight (ish) year old mocked my toddler to his friend (for making a small noise in protest of him dismantling something my little one was playing with), my mother bear protection instinct massively kicked in. It completely surprised me having never been in this situation before. And I was really fuming. It took me hours to gain a bit of perspective. All this and my toddler was completely oblivious. And remembering these boys were children themselves and children aren't exactly known for their maturity.

It comes down to the fact that I hate injustice. It's bad enough when it's against you but if it's against one of your loved ones then that's a whole different kettle of fish. I know that we all need to learn these lessons but it's tough. And it doesn't really get much easier even as an adult.

I know I won't be alone in this but I am dreading these situations with my children. But we need to allow our offspring to experience life - the good and the not so good. All I can do as a parent is to raise my children to be caring and kind and to just be there with compassion and chocolate when life doesn't seem very fair.

Picture this property

With the addition of baby number two, my husband and I have got quite into property perusing - it's become a bit of an addiction in fact.

We have recently popped our house on the market (a market which right now in London seems to be a bit rubbish) to 'see what happens'. I have - as seems to be the way with most things in my life - approached this as a true marketeer. This is not entirely surprising as, after all, selling is selling.

Picture perfect

I am not in any way claiming to be an expert in the art of selling houses but to me it makes complete sense to get the pictures looking perfect. After all, this is what informs the decision on whether or not to see a property (along with location and position). So surely - whilst it's admittedly a faff - moving furniture around, de-cluttering, painting, buying garden paraphernalia is worth the short term pain to make a great first impression (a bit like visiting a website for the first time)?

And presumably it also makes sense to do everything you can to make it easy for a prospective buyer to see themselves in your house - like tidy up? I've seen enough of Phil Spencer's Secret Agent to know this. Although inevitably whilst there will always be people who don't do this, there will always be people who can see potential through clutter.

Photos fails

This photo is the reason I decided to write this blog. If you're going to go it alone, know what you're doing and invest in the right things. In my dalliance with property porn (yes, this is a thing - I figure if The Telegraph can get away with saying that, I can) where budget is no object, I saw this ad for a property with a DIY seller. The results shocked me to the core. A house on for 1.5 MILLION pounds and this is the best photo they could find to lure people in? Seriously? No no no.

So the takeaway from this is that image is everything. If I see a well designed and easy to navigate website, I will think positively about the company. By the same token, if I see photos of a house which are clear, bright and uncluttered, I will feel positive about it. And when there are so many other factors to consider when buying a house, that's all you can really hope for.

Reflecting and refocusing

I am only too conscious of my MIA status of late. I do have a valid reason though... the arrival of baby number two. This, along with ensuring I achieved all my client deliverables before said baby's arrival made it a busy summer to say the least.

I'm loving being a mum again and as you would expect, increasing my family by 33.33% is by far my biggest personal achievement of the year.

Now as a mama of two under two I am gearing up to refocus in 2016 on my biggest professional achievement of the year - Mini and Mighty.

My three month hiatus has provided my clients with the opportunity to act on the marketing advice I have provided. My aim has always been to make clients self sufficient and transfer as many skills as possible so they can tackle their own marketing on a day to day basis. I have to say I am so impressed with their get up and go - they're a credit to all small businesses and I look forward to working with them on the next chapter of their marketing journey.

Wishing everyone a happy and prosperous 2016.

Heroes and resolutions

We are delighted to have been quoted in two of Enterprise Nation's recent blogs: 

Enterprise Nation is the UK's most active community of small business owners and powers Marketplace - a network of over 12,500 approved Advisers - of which Mini and Mighty is one (you can access our profile here). 

For small businesses, both sites can prove useful - Enterprise Nation hosts events (either free of charge or for a small fee) and provides regular advice, hints and tips and Marketplace enables businesses access to pre-vetted Advisors in different areas of business.

 

How far we've come

A mere 2.5 months ago I took a self proclaimed leap of faith and formally launched my own marketing consultancy and now it feels like I've been doing it forever (in a very good way of course).

Winning my first clients - which happened so much faster than I could have dreamed - has been an obvious reason for celebration. 

Other milestones I have been delighted to have achieved include:

  • Being made a full member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing - you can all call me Hannah Russell MCIM if you will
  • Becoming a fully fledged Marketplace Adviser, meaning that businesses who have been awarded government Growth Vouchers can use them with me
  • Discovering a huge demand for marketing services within micro and small organisations (naturally this one isn't a massive shock to me)

The best bit so far has definitely been the enterprising and dynamic people I have been fortunate enough to meet across a huge range of different business sectors. These are people I can resonate with because they are doing the same thing as me - setting up and running a small business - and are people I would do anything to help.

For me, the most important thing is doing a great job - from the initial consultation meeting right through to the last hour of chargeable work and making a tangible difference. Accomplishing this and having happy clients on the road to marketing success means I have achieved my own business objectives.

Small craft businesses are having their day

The share price of Etsy finished up 86% on its first day of trading on the stock market as it raises money to expand its businesses.

This is just an indication of the demand for small craft businesses. The fact that investors are prepared to pay such a high premium for shares in Etsy demonstrates that huge growth is anticipated in the sector.

Etsy has been in operation since 2005 and provides a similar service to Not On The High Street but is also billed as a competitor to Alibaba, Amazon and eBay.

These websites provide an invaluable service to small craft businesses who create bespoke items as they enable them with an opportunity to reach a much wider audience. Similarly, buyers have a wider choice on where they can shop and have the reassurance that the items sold are from trusted suppliers.

There is a definite trend towards buying unique products - things that can be customised/personalised - and supporting local businesses. There's also a sense of well being that comes from giving money to an individual creating beautiful jewellery, for example, rather than to a multinational. To this end, long may this trend continue.

Is it possible to effectively market yourself on a budget?

Despite there being a slight conflict of interest due to my role as a marketing consultant, the honest answer is yes - to an extent. Often the biggest marketing investment, particularly at the beginning, will be your time.

There are lots of things you can do inexpensively and even free - template websites, for example, makes life easy for small businesses to get going. I’ve highlighted the top five things I believe organisations should look to do as a starting point for their marketing (which is by no means exhaustive).

Take an objective look at your website
The challenge with people creating their own websites is that they focus it on what they think is important and navigation they think makes sense, rather than what makes sense to the user. In order to really make the most of your website - which after all is your virtual shop window - is to get someone objective to look at it. Preferably someone who a) knows your target audience, b) something about marketing and c) can be honest with you.

Take constructive criticism
Ask, ask, ask for feedback and constructive criticism and really take note of what people are saying, even if you’re not in a position to do anything about it at the time. People like to feel appreciated and asking, and then listening, to your friends, colleagues and acquaintances will really make a difference. A challenge I personally have in marketing is that people ask you for advice but they often don’t want to take it once it’s offered. Be open to change. Change is good.

Look at your language
Your tone of voice, grammar and spelling are so important in marketing. Take a read through your content - or get someone else to help - and ensure it is consistent. Also appreciate that content may need to be tweaked when addressing different audiences (for example, your Twitter page and your company LinkedIn page).

Only use social media channels if you are able to properly commit to them
Being on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest and LinkedIn is all well and good but unless you can commit to submitting interesting and regular content, there’s little point. Also, think about whether you can divide content up a bit - i.e. use Facebook as a more informal channel.

Look at indirect routes to market
Although your key focus is naturally going to be customers, you will also want to look at ways of contacting these people indirectly - e.g. if you’re selling flowers, could you look to be on the preferred supplier list for wedding venues.

Happy marketing!

Falling at the last hurdle

Word of mouth marketing has long since been regarded as one the most effective forms of winning new business. Everyone wants a recommendation from a friend or a friend of a friend. In fact these days it goes further than that and recommendations from strangers via private Facebook groups or even websites like checkatrade are just as valid.

Where businesses often fall down is that they spend a long time in the cycle of: marketing themselves > winning business > doing a great job and completely forget about after sales service. This is arguably where great organisations are set apart from ok ones. Yes, it takes effort once you have already sold a product or service and been paid for it. However you really can't put a price on the value you receive as a result of just 'doing the right thing'. It's often exactly because you don't HAVE to do it that not only makes it so rare but also so appreciated.

It's the reason shops like John Lewis have such a good reputation. But it absolutely doesn't have to just apply to the big players and I personally have experienced brilliant service from very small local businesses. Surely it's an obvious way of differentiating? It's about putting the customer first. I'd go as far as to say you can only really tell how good a business is by their after sales service.

People don't bother remembering mediocre service but amazing service (and awful service for that matter) is firmly committed to memory. It seems obvious, you're doing everything in your power to ensure returning customers and giving someone a reason to rave about you. After all, remember, everyone likes a happy ending.

 

I'm talking about good foundations

In the last month I've been very lucky and had support from some amazing mentors. We've thrashed out ideas and I am continuing happily on the road to achievement.

I have found it all very fulfilling, not just working again but actually focusing on something I've wanted to do for so long. The fact that I can 'market' my very own initiative and develop the brand's personality from scratch is so exciting - especially as I'm not constrained by strict language guidelines or a rigid corporate image. It may seem obvious but maintaining a marketing focus from the off makes life a lot easier in the long run. A lot of cliches spring to mind - singing from the same hymn sheet, being 'on the same page', joined up thinking - but I'm not going to go there. I promise. 

Despite a marketing focus making sense on paper, I know most people who haven't got around to marketing aren't necessarily avoiding it intentionally, it's either a case of them focusing on their core business  (which I totally get) or just a lack of awareness of what marketing actually is. In either case this is exactly what dreams are made of at Mini and Mighty.

 

A leap of faith

After nine months of parenting under my belt and my little monkey becoming increasingly independent, my mind kept fantasising about any business venture that would enable me to work for myself. To be fair a lot of these were wildly impractical ranging from a hamper business to baby merchandise involving me learning how to be a master sewer. 

The one consistent - and one that has been silenced for a number of years - is naturally the most obvious. Using my experience in marketing to work in the area of marketing I enjoy the most - helping small businesses. Simple.

For the last month between nappies, naps and play time (everyone needs a bit of fun), my brain has been on overdrive with ideas flowing at an almost alarming rate.

So here I am taking a leap of faith and going for it.

  • Notice handed in for when my maternity leave finishes - check
  • Fancy new laptop bought - check
  • Domain name and Twitter handle bought/registered - check
  • Boring everyone I speak to about my exciting new venture - definitely check

So watch this space. All I can say for now is that I need to write a list and then a list for the list and a list for the list for the list. You get the idea.

@ 2017 Mini and Mighty. Small Business Marketing Consultancy based near Guildford, covering SW London, Surrey and beyond,