What’s in a name? Well, quite a lot when your name is Fiona Storey and you run a business helping other businesses to tell theirs (stories, that is). Fiona runs a web design and marketing agency in Milton Keynes, focusing on web design, graphic design and email marketing and works with clients to develop their brand.
I caught up with her on the phone to chat about what she does, if she offers training and what her tops tips are from one business owner to another…
What problems do small businesses face in creating their own content?
Fiona says it varies, some have great ideas and they just need help turning it into content, others are naturals and others find it very difficult. She likens it to having a blog – people want a blog and the intention is there to keep it up to date and come up with good posts on a regular basis, but it’s easy to run out of time, let it slide and not get round to it. At the back of you mind you know it’s important, you know you need to spend time on it, but time slips away.
Fiona knows first-hand how tricky this is. She sets aside time each week to create blog posts and do social media work, but time soon gets eaten up. “It can take two to three hours to get a blog post up from start to finish,” she explains, “And I’ll always put client work before my own.It’s very easy to to put it off or never get round to it. For example, one of my clients started a product of the week blog post and it hasn’t been updated for two years.”
Do you provide training and, if so, how?
Fiona helps clients create and update their own blogs, and will sit beside them during a one-to-one training session to show them how to do do the basics in WordPress, and may provide customised notes for them to take away. Some clients she won’t hear from after the initial training session, either because they’re happy doing it alone or aren’t updating the website, others may have the odd query, others won’t do anything for six months and will then need reminding of their log in details, she says.
Fiona’s started work on her own online ‘how to‘series to help people update their website content and blogs, but admits that too takes time. She’s also like to film screen shots to physically show people what to do on screen. “Again, it can take two or three hours to create these posts so will take some time.” But her hope is that it may save time in the long run, eliminating the need for ‘reminder’raining sessions and pinging people a link to a video or ‘how to’ article instead.
Where would you send people to if they needed more training?
Fiona admits her training doesn’t stretch beyond web content and that she refers people to a fellow Grapevine member for social media support. “I usually refer people to companies I’ve worked with or have been recommended and I’d definitely recommend getting professionals in to do video. I’d also use different companies depending on what type of content I want, one may be more appropriate than another.”
There are always people that you will need to help you, she adds. “Everyone needs a web designer at some point, most people can’t do this for themselves. It’s important for people to really demonstrate their expertise in their blog posts, which helps with SEO.
What’s your top tip for a small business?
“Find a really good copywriter! Develop a brand with a logo, a unique offering, and tell people why they should come to you. Branding for small businesses is really important, to tell customers about their philosophy, why they’re different. That brand should run through all their marketing materials so they get recognition.”
Creating online content can be very valuable, she says. “There’s lots of work out there for small businesses and it’s important to get yourself known. It’s not easy though, it’s all too easy to belittle your own abilities.”
Heard it on the grapevine…
Fiona’s a busy lady and relies on networking to bring business in, using local contacts and referrals. Milton Keynes has a range of networking groups and Fiona is co-chair of Grapevine MK, a membership-based group which hosts regular breakfast meetings. Members are given a minute to introduce themselves and their business and longer slots are allocated for businesses to talk in more detail about what they do, what they offer and how they can help other businesses.
What have I learned from this interview?
Well, Fiona’s an expert in branding and web content and has stressed the impact both these things can have online. And the power of networks is clearly important in Milton Keynes and pays dividends. What we didn’t talk about were the many ways in which a business can make an impact online, through types of posts, social media platforms, simple imagery or video (I don’t think all video needs to be professionally done btw – there’s plenty of awesome content to be created using a mobile phone and the iMovie app, for example). But all these things will be dictated by audience – who are they and what do they want?
We also didn’t talk about strategy and while small businesses probably think the phrase ‘content strategy’ sounds a bit heavy (and it is) I’d really like to offer some training materials which make them think about things in a more strategic way, so the content they create gets some results. For example, the Cube Method, a clever little tool and plain English way to make your content mean something to someone.