So what is it really like to own a fabric and wool shop?
I have just returned from my second speaking gig on behalf of Coats Crafts UK at the stunning Newbury Race Course (on a completely different aside – I drove there from Wantage in Oxfordshire and took the B4494 road to Newbury – absolutely take-your-breath-away beautiful). The talk was pretty much the focussed on the same topic – finding (and flexing!) your social media muscle. I even added a bit about my journey as a marketer – as both a marketing professional and as the marketing person for the Studio. It has been an interesting journey between these two completely different job titles that is for sure!
But I really wanted to chat to the retailers who were there to find out what it is like when you decide to go from being a shop owner wannabe to someone that carries a much bigger share of responsibility (and exposure!) by taking up space as a shop owner. The conversations were so interesting that I thought I would share with you parts of the discussion that were worth passing along.
There was a range of shops that were there – from long established (often family owned) businesses to one that was celebrating her shop’s one year anniversary on the day of the event. It was obvious from talking to many of them that the internet has posed both opportunities as well as threats to their businesses but that those who were up for the challenge were fighting back…and gaining ground. As much as some of the people there might not like to have heard it – the key to it is engaging with social media and knowing what is working when you are doing it and when to change gears.
During the Q and A sessions (which I love to have people ask me questions!) there was a lovely older gentleman that raised his hand and proudly told us about how his shop had used Facebook ads successfully (again, music to my ears!) and also was working with Mailchimp to get their mailing list up and running (I have said that a good mailing list is as important as your social media presence). You could see he wanted to tell other shops that if he could do it – so could they!
My favourite story had to be from Jenna Clements of Exeter Sewing Machines who was sat in the front of the room and enthusiastically nodded her head as I was giving my talk. She also said that for her business, they have someone employed to help them keep up with the social media updates and that this pays for itself in so many ways. She even shared a tweet that they posted during the last Sewing Bee which was retweeted by none other than Patrick Grant himself (she said it was one of only two tweets that he retweeted that entire day – imagine how many people got to see it!).
But the most touching thing that Jenna told me was what about the activity on her table of other shop owners:
“It was lovely to see people on my table who clearly had little confidence with social media frantically writing notes during your talk. One man even wrote down “it is never to late to start!”
That “it is never too late to start” was one of the last slides I presented. I can completely understand how daunting it must be if you feel that everyone is doing it and you are only starting – which is why I included that slide.
It isn’t too late – just get started.
When I have done my last talk (in Edinburgh next month) I will take the talk and convert it into a slide presentation for all you folks as I would like to have it available for everyone to use.
Always happy to spread the good news on social media and again thanks to the fantastic folks at Coats Crafts for giving me the opportunity to talk about this important tool for small businesses.