Graduating with an award and a digital marketing business

By Andrew Dobson

My MSc in Digital Marketing Management at Staffordshire University includes the module ‘Managing a Digital Marketing Project’. This normally involves working with a company to create and implement a digital marketing strategy. I asked to take a different approach to the project and decided to create my own digital marketing agency: Track Digital Marketing. This, I reasoned, would allow me to develop my marketing and web design skills and gain an income by working with small businesses in Staffordshire.

Although I had not previously studied marketing, I felt optimistic that the skills I learned on the course and my previous experience in teaching English would provide me with the background needed to excel at digital marketing. However, the business management side of the project was something that I found more daunting.

Fortunately, Be Inspired at Staffordshire University offered business support in the way of training, a business grant and a mentor. I’ll be honest, when interviewed for the scheme I was sceptical about how much help they would actually provide (apart from the business grant). However, the combination of business training from Be Inspired, project management assistance from Professor Jon Fairburn, and business startup and digital marketing advice from my mentor Matt Clayton (owner of Build A UK Business) has been hugely beneficial.

After the initial setup of Track Digital Marketing I was ready for small businesses to queue up and bombard my email address with pleads for me to help them market themselves online. However, it only just occurred to me that my competition was vastly experienced at online marketing and probably had teams of experts in every digital marketing field. Whilst my knowledge and practical experience gleaned from the course made me an all-round professional marketer, I could not compete with huge established companies for the top Google searches. This left me with targeting a particular niche (small businesses in Staffordshire) and old-fashioned networking.

Luckily, I found that business owners (now including myself) love nothing more than telling everyone within a half-mile radius about their business. This is how Brereton Timber and I found each other: a good ol’ chin wag over a garden fence. To be more specific, a fence panel supplied and fitted by Edward Taylor from Brereton Timber.

A happy customer

A happy customer

Edward and business partner Craig Wardle had an expanding fence supplying and fitting business –  amongst a variety of other services. However, their old website did not reflect their current success, and their marketing consisted mainly of a 13ft wooden bear with ‘Brereton Timber’ plastered on it.

After discussing Craig and Edward’s digital marketing options and painstakingly explaining ‘long-tail keywords’, we agreed to complete the following:

  • An internal digital marketing and website audit.
  • Competitive research into the marketing activities of their main competitors, both regional and national.
  • Customer research and marketing preferences.
  • A comprehensive search engine and mobile optimised e-commerce website.
  • Keyword research and content marketing to bring customers in and guide them towards sales.

Although we are still in the process of designing the website and creating content, since we started working Brereton Timber’s online sales for July are higher than the rest of the year combined. The new website has a professional image befitting their professional work, has improved search engine rankings, and perhaps most importantly is customer-friendly.

Craig and Edward have expressed their gratitude in their own way (by promising me a free Christmas Tree in December) and had this to say: “Honestly, we can’t believe the change Track Digital Marketing has made to our business. Customers are always saying how good the website looks and we know that Andy is available anytime we have a query or want to change something on our website.” Despite their online success, Brereton Timber refuses to capture the Brereton Bear who continues to terrorise locals on the A50 between Holmes Chapel and Brereton.

Andrew Dobson

Super Seven Skills in Esports 

On Friday 8 September our Associate Dean for Recruitment Rachel Gowers, set off on a trip to Bergen Norway to see esports in the classroom.  Rachel’s journey started off bright and early by flying to Bergen and then catching a bus into the City Centre, then catching a train, another bus which turned out to be the wrong bus before deciding to get a taxi to the Norwegian School… I would say she has definitely been on an adventure even before the esports fun commenced.

 

Once Rachel arrived at the school she was introduced by Petter Grahl Jonstad, who assisted in introducing esports to the school in 2016. Petter originally had a background in social science and used his research to find out the transferable skills acquired through sports and chess.  When creating the esports course his philosophy was to look at the whole student as well as provide general well-being. To do this he decided that students would have two hours a week of gym sessions, 1 hour of strength training and 3 hours of game play a week to make sure they had a good balance. Petter was very interested in engaging students who were non-academic and to do this he made the requirement that all students must pass all their other subjects, by doing this he has seen a general improvement in attitude, motivations, English language and overall improved communication.

Our focus is not only on the mechanics of the game, but also on how a team works, theory regarding motivation as a professional gamer and, last but not least, teamwork. Understanding the game is one thing, but if the communication does not work within the team, if the players can’t rely on each other, you practically have nothing in our opinion”
Petter Grahl Jonstad

Since introducing esports the school has become oversubscribed and students are even moving house to attend the college. The classes are taught by ex-pro gamer Sindre Rygg, who has competed in the second biggest area network called The Gathering and went to Korea to compete in The Masters of Cheon where they came fourth.

While in Norway Rachel got to meet the next generation of esports managers and players, this allowed Rachel to visualise what type of graduates will be coming out of Staffordshire Business School in the near future. Rachel spoke to three of the students studying esports and here is what they had to say:

‘Esports helps me to concentrate in other classes because I know I have to work hard.’
Christian Nilsen

‘Esports helps me to communicate and work in a team to achieve something’.
Henrik Flo Wilhelmsen

‘Esports practices your brain to think quickly and have fast reaction times.’
Jorgen Treit Brevset

Rachel has come back from Norway more driven and inspired to get the esports course ready for 2018 and cannot wait for it to be part of the Business School. She has also learnt the super seven skills that will be imbedded within the course. These skills are:

  • Decision Making
  • Multi-tasking
  • Problem Solving
  • Perception
  • Communication
  • Team Builder
  • Numeracy

Click here for more information on studying a BA (Hons) Esports degree at Staffordshire University

Joshua Lonsdale, Graduate Intern within Staffordshire Business School

Business School accounts on twitter

Main School accounts

Business School @BusinessStaffs several staff and students have access to this account, the main users are Prof Jon Fairburn and Angela Lawrence. Ranked No 1 by Edurank for Business Schools

Tourism and Events – @tourismsu Prof Jon Fairburn and students

Management Team

Dr Peter Jones @pgwjones_dr Dean and ‘selfie king’

Rachel Gowers @rggowers   Associate Dean Recruitment and e-sports

Alison Maguire @AMAG45   Head of Department- Accounting, Finance and Economics

Dr Vish  Maheshwari @DrVish_M Head of Business, Management and Marketing

Academics

Tony Bickley – @tonybickley    Accounting  and #parlez-vous digital

Prof Rune By @Prof_RuneTBy Organisational Behaviour & Change Leadership

Isabel Clarke @theisabelclarke Events management

Dr Nurdilek Dalziel @NurdilekDalziel Digital marketing

Paul Dobson @PaulDobsonuk Digital marketing, entrepreneurship, SMEs, social enterprises

Dr Jana Fiserova @DrJanaFiserova Economics, DBA and European partnerships

Dr Andy Hanks @ajhanks_dr  HRM, CIPD, trade unions

Dr Andy Hirst @AndyHirst1956 International Business, Supply Chain Management, Risk Mgt Project Mgt, Strategy and Leadership

Dr Mehtap Hisarciklilar @MHisarciklilar  Economics, PhD enquiries

Dr John Hudson @brucie_rooster  Employee well being

Dr Andras Kenez @Andras_Kenez  Marketing

Angela Lawrence @IteroAnge  Apprenticeships and marketing

Dr Tolu Olarewaju @ToluOlarewaju Economics

Karl McCormack –  @KMcCormackSU Accounting

Bharati Singh @BharatiCSingh Strategy and banking

Carol Southall @cdesouthall  Tourism and Events Management

Hazel Squires – @HazelSquire Under-graduate Business Management Award Leader, Small Business Charter and Silverworkers project

Mark Wordley @markwordleyUK Accounting and finance, work placements and SMEs

Courses

MSc Digital Marketing Management  @MScDigStaffs

Projects

EU project @Silverworkers 

EU project  EUFORIA @XKeuforia

Welcome to Staffordshire University!

Welcome week, more commonly known as Freshers’ week, is officially your first week at university and is the perfect opportunity for you to unpack, make new friends and find out more about your course. My advice would be to get involved with as much as you can to ensure you get the most out of this first week.

Your first day of your new independent life will begin on Saturday 16th September – Moving in day! All your hard work over the past year has paid off and now is the time for your new adventure to start as you move into your new home for the next year.

Before you can start unpacking you need to do your face-to-face enrolment in the sports hall – if you have been to one of our open days you may already know where this is but if not just ask one of our friendly Student Ambassadors and they will be happy to help. Here you will not only receive the keys to your new home, but you will also get your student card which enables you to get student discount in a wide variety of shops and restaurants!

When everything is unpacked and you have met your flatmates, it’s time to relax and have a bit of fun before your studying starts. The LRV will be hosting a ‘Moving In Party’ and this is your chance to meet lots of other first years from all different courses and enjoy yourself (please drink responsibly, DrinkAware have some hints and tips for staying safe).

On Sunday 17th September, there is a family fun day open to everyone where there will be stalls, street food, music and much more! It is also enrolment day for students who are studying off site which will take place in the sports hall.Monday 18th September is officially the first day of Welcome Week. Each individual course will give out their timetable and there will be welcome sessions where you will find out more information about your course. These sessions are important and I highly recommend that you attend – start how you mean to go on! In the sessions, you will get the following information:

  • A breakdown of your course
  • The plan for the year
  • Meet your tutors – Good first impressions are important
  • Reading/books list
  • Meet your course mates – you will be learning and working with these people so good to get off on a good start!

Wednesday 20th September is the Students’ Union Day and is the highlight of Welcome Week! This day hosts the ‘Freshers’ Fair/Commercial Fair’ (located in the LRV) where you can get your hands on lots of freebies, discounts, vouchers and food! The ‘Clubs and Societies Fair’ (located in the sports hall and Brindley outpost) is also held on Wednesday and gives you the chance to browse and join up to a number of the hundreds of clubs and societies that are run across the university.

On Thursday 21st September, the LRV is hosting a ‘Laser Tag’ event, 16:00-21:00 and entry is free!

Friday 22nd September is the last day of Welcome Week and is the launch of the LRV‘s new club night ‘Eclipse’.

Don’t forget to check out the wristbands available to purchase that will guarantee entry to the Move-In Party, special events and club nights. Click here to get yours!

For more advice on what to do and where to go during welcome week click here.

What Goliath can learn from David

In Business Schools all over the country and beyond we tend to focus on large and often multinational corporations, and the overarching focus on providing shareholders with the greatest possible return on investment has been identified as one potential contributor to the 2008 financial crisis (see for example https://www.forbes.com/sites/shawnoconnor/2013/05/15/the-responsibility-of-business-schools-in-training-ethical-leaders-2/#3102f64960bd). 

My current research leads to conversations with barbers, microbrewers, tattoo artists, baristas, tailors, street artists and denim heads who are participating in the resurgence of traditional trades rather than CEOs of multinational corporations. These entrepreneurs all have two things in common and that is the importance of having a trade and a purpose that goes beyond only making a living. They all refer to their colleagues as an integral part to their success, and they don’t define themselves as managers or leaders, but as master brewers or floor sweepers. They have an identity, authenticity and presence that go way beyond any suit and tie.

Talking with these individuals I am becoming more and more convinced that Goliath has much to learn from David. Whilst David believes in success with and through his people, Goliath too often believes in success despite of his people. Whilst David is acknowledging individual contributions, Goliath is often referring to staff as replaceable overheads. Whilst David is focusing on providing the best possible service or product, Goliath is more concerned about often meaningless and short term KPIs. Whilst David’s eye is on securing sustainable organisational success, Goliath’s is on personal short term success, sometimes at the cost of his very own existence.

Yes, David also needs to be successful and make a living, but he has a whole different approach to doing so which I believe Goliath can learn from.

Professor Rune Todnem By
@Prof_RuneTBy

Enterprise training for 50 somethings and over

Are you aged 50 or over and are you thinking about setting up your own business? Or maybe you just fancy exploring a few ideas and getting some training?

Do you have a hobby or interest in an area you could turn into a business? Do you want a better work-life balance? Are you unemployed, facing redundancy or looking for a change? If the answer to any of these questions is yes then sign up now to this exciting new training course with the Business School at Staffordshire University.

We are offering you the opportunity to participate in a free face to face and online learning course that has been developed through identifying the needs of older workers. Through coaching, mentoring and training provided you will potentially be able to develop the entrepreneurial and enterprising knowledge and skills necessary to set up your own business.

Older woman facing camera behind flowers

We will look at areas such as how to obtain finance for your business and assess its viability. We even look at how to come up with a business idea in the first place, and once you know what you want to do we then guide you through the process of how to set it up. We help you to identify who your customers will be and how to promote your product to them. For those of you who feel you lack confidence we look at how to overcome some of the obstacles and barriers to ensure success.

The first of these courses will commence on 7th November 2017 and will include approximately 40 hours of face to face and online learning over a period of 1-3 months. The training is flexible so that you can choose to study the areas that best suit your needs. Following the training you will be signposted to a range of mentoring and support in the development of your business.

To register your interest in the course, please complete the application form using one of the links below. If you have completed the downloadable application form, please return it to Tom Ward at t.ward@staffs.ac.uk or the postal address detailed on the form. Should you require further information or a hard copy of the form, you can e-mail Tom or contact him on 01782 294902.

Online application form

Downloadable application form

Twitter: @silver_workers

Silver Workers "Use your expertise" logo

Funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union and EU flag logo

Sustainable Supply Chains in the Tourism Sector

The fundamental principle of a Sustainable Supply Chain (SSC) rests on collaboration between companies and their suppliers, and their willingness to link their aims and essential operational processes to create unique, international, market satisfying resources that will satisfy their customers and help them gain competitive advantage.

Companies from various sectors have come up with different strategies and tools to influence their suppliers towards better environmental and social practices. All these companies believe that no enterprise can exist independently, and the success of every enterprise depends on its supply chain partners. The nature of the strategy adopted (collaborative or forced compliance) depends upon factors such as the type of business, levels of competition, and size and influence of buyer and supplier businesses.

The action

The most basic action that a company can take is to develop its own environmental policy or any other document with which the company can communicate its environmental goals and expectations to its suppliers.

The next common approach to SSC is gathering information that indicates the suppliers’ environmental compliance status, and on the existence and status of suppliers’ environmental management systems and the type or quality of materials used by them.

Tour Operations and SSC

Tour operators provide holiday packages comprised principally of accommodation, transport, excursion/activity providers, ground handlers, and food and craft production. A distinction is here made between mass-market and specialist operators. Mass-market operators typically sell standard beach holidays based holidays in mainstream destinations, and specialist operators typically offer niche products based on specialised activities in less mainstream destinations.

It can be argued that sustainability in tourism depends strongly on the development of better linkages between supply and demand. As intermediaries in the supply chain, tour operators are in a position to influence destination management on the supply side, and consumers on the demand side.

This requires management of environmental, socio-economic and cultural issues through the supply chain. Environmental aspects include sustainable transport development and sustainable use of resources; reducing, minimising and preventing pollution and waste (e.g. solid and liquid waste, emissions to air); conserving plants, animals, ecosystems and protected areas (biodiversity); and conserving landscapes, cultural and natural heritage. Socio-economic and cultural issues encompass a number of aspects, including contribution to the economic development and the well-being of local communities; preservation of cultural identity; respect for human rights local communities’ and indigenous peoples’ rights.

Some operators have built supply chain initiatives on the production and distribution of local sustainable food and crafts, but some work with local suppliers to promote local sourcing. For instance, local sourcing is often a key part of the product, and it also features as part of a portfolio of tourist attractions for mass operators in excursions and promotion of local bars and restaurants.

Most large hotels that have worked with local food producers have found it requires constant supervision and commitment, and success is often linked to championing of local sourcing by hotel chefs. It may also require training and technical support and investment in order to gather supplies from different producers that meet the quality and quantity required.

The key aspects in SSC initiatives depend on good working relationships with suppliers, organisational cultures that are supportive of sustainability principles, and organisational resources to invest in sustainability. Initiatives to date have focused more on setting environmental, rather than socio- economic criteria, and industry-wide approaches play an important role in encouraging and supporting implementation of SSC.


The Benefits

So why might a business wish to apply a sustainable tourism supply approach – what are the principal benefits?

All supply chains can be optimised using sustainable practices. Sustainability in the supply chain encapsulates a number of different priorities:

  • Environmental stewardship
  • Conservation of resources
  • Reduction of carbon footprint
  • Financial savings and viability
  • Social responsibility

Managing supply chains in a sustainable manner can help businesses in not only reducing their total carbon footprint, but also in optimising their end-to-end operations to achieve:

  • Improved credibility, visibility and brand reputation
  • Improved access to markets
  • Greater operational effectiveness leading to cost savings and profitability

We have created a free online tool to help you develop. Our training tool was developed by and with the tourism industry. This free online training covers 11 modules to complete with short quizzes at the end of each module. This tool helps you to design your own strategy in relation to your individual business needs.  All you need is an internet connection.

Click here to register and start your free online training today:  http://smartour.dcnet.eu/

Marzena Reszka

SMARTOUR logo

References:

Davies, T. & Chaill, S. (2000). Environmental implications of the tourism industry. [Online] Available from: https://www.csu.edu/cerc/documents/EnvironmentalImplicationsTourismIndustry2000.pdf

BSR. (2003) Supplier Environmental Management. [Online] Available from: scholar.google.co.uk

Lippmann, S. (1999). Supply chain environmental management: elements for success. Environmental Management. [Online] 6 (2), 175-182. Available from:  http://www.sciencedirect.com

Miller, G. & Twining-Ward, L. (2005). Monitoring for a sustainable tourism transition: the challenge of developing and using indicators. Oxfordshire: CABI Publishing.

Crotts, J., Aziz, A., & Raschid, A. (1998). Antecedents of supplier’s commitment to wholesale buyers in the international travel trade. Tourism Management. [Online] 19 (2), 127-134. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0261517797001040

Tapper, R. (2001). Tourism and socio-economic development: UK tour operators’ business approaches in the context of the new international agenda. International Journal of Tourism Research. [Online] 3, 351-366. Available from: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com

TOI & CELB (2003). Supply chain management for tour operators: a handbook on integrating sustainability into the tour operators’ supply chain systems. Paris, Tour Operators Initiative, Center for Environmental Leadership in Business.

 

Useful links

https://blogs.staffs.ac.uk/business/2017/04/10/service-quality-in-tourism-the-road-less-travelled/

Project website – http://www.smartourproject.eu/
Twitter @tourismsu   #SMARTOUR
Facebook page -Sustainable Tourism in Europe https://www.facebook.com/smartourproject 

Social Media and Marketing

Social media networks are incredible resources for businesses looking to promote their brands online and increase sale. The platforms themselves are free to use, but also have paid advertising options specifically for brands that want to reach even more new audiences. But just because your business should be on social media, that doesn’t mean you should be on every network. It’s important that you choose and nurture the social platforms that work best for your business, so that you don’t spread yourself too thin.

Social media itself is a catch-all term for sites that may provide radically different social actions. For instance, Twitter is a social site designed to let people share short messages or “updates” with others. Facebook, in contrast is a full-blown social networking site that allows for sharing updates, photos, joining events and a variety of other activities.

Become a social media maestro and grow your business

If you want to create a successful social strategy, you should familiarize yourself with how each network runs, the kinds of audiences you can reach on that network and how your business can best use each platform.

Social media can help you find prospective customer that are engaging in conversations relating to your business. Participating in those conversations can help you increase your business’s visibility and drive traffic to your website.  Especially when you are starting out, word-of mouth referrals on social media can be an effective way to direct prospective customers to your website and grow your business. Social media can help you receive feedback from your customers. Your quick and appropriate response through social media can help strengthen your brand, build trust, improve reputation and reinforce your credibility with current and prospective customers.

Why social media works

Social media fulfils a fundamental human need: to communicate. We are social animals. We like to communicate with each other. Social media facilitates this by helping us to communicate more easily, to more people, whenever we want. That is why social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Myspace and blogs are so successful. It simply lets customer communicate with each other and organisations communicate with customers (this incudes listening).

Use social media for your marketing

Nowadays, people use more and more TripAdvisor, Trivago, Instagram and other similar platforms as information sources when planning their trips, finding information on the destination, make decisions etc.  Social media platforms offer to small businesses a lot of opportunities to target and access markets at low cost, and achieve business sustainability goals.

Marketing doesn’t have to be left to the professionals charging large sums of money or commission for creative media. There are a few simple rules of how you market with extremely limited resources on social media.

You can create marketing strategies and select appropriate online and traditional marketing communications activities/customer groups, target markets and businesses, taking into consideration the size and type of that business.

We have created a free online tool to help you develop. Our training tool was developed by and with the tourism industry. This free online training covers 11 modules to complete with short quizzes at the end of each module. This tool helps you to design your own strategy in relation to your individual business needs.  All you need is an internet connection.

Click here to register and start your free online training today:  http://smartour.dcnet.eu/

Marzena Reszka, Staffordshire Business School


Reference

Smith,P.R.; Zook, Z. (2012). Marketing communications integrating offline and online with social media. 5th edition.

Useful links

https://blogs.staffs.ac.uk/business/2017/04/10/service-quality-in-tourism-the-road-less-travelled/

SMARTOUR logo

Webinar: Practical Training For Sustainable Tourism: Hints and Tips – SMARTOUR

21th Sept Tuesday, 2:00 pm (GMT)

Registration form:
http://www.anymeeting.com/PIID=ED51D782834839 

The 2017 International Year for Sustainable Tourism for Development is a call for action for all the stakeholders of the tourism value chain.

The “Practical Training for Sustainable Tourism” webinar will provide practical knowledge and tools to implement sustainable actions at business level and will support professionals and SMEs in defining a sustainable operational model.

The webinar will introduce 10 training modules that the SMARTOUR Project has designed  on key sustainable topics: Accessibility, Sustainable Supply Chains, Sustainable Food and drink tourism, Social media and marketing, Seasonality, Quality, Training, EU Quality Principles, Energy Controls, Interpreting Energy Bills, Indoor Air Quality.

A particular focus will be given to the module: Sustainable Food and drink tourism.

We suggest to register to the SMARTOUR platform before attending the webinar: smartour.dcnet.eu  

Duration: 40 min presentation, 20 min debate

Speaker: Jon Fairburn, Professor of Sustainable Development, Staffordshire University Business School

Facilitator: Silvia Barbone, Sustainable Tourism International Expert and PM4SD Author

Registration form:
http://www.anymeeting.com/PIID=ED51D782834839    

Useful links

Project website – http://www.smartourproject.eu/

Twitter @tourismsu   #SMARTOUR

Facebook page -Sustainable Tourism in Europe https://www.facebook.com/smartourproject 

SMARTOUR logo

Staffordshire Business School Gets Full Marks in National Student Survey

Staffordshire University are pleased to announce that they have received 100% in the National Student Survey 2017 for their Accounting and Finance 2 Year Accelerated degree.

Earlier this year the subject area was also ranked 1st for Student Satisfied with Teaching in The Guardian League Tables 2018 and in the Complete University Guide we were number 1 in the Midlands for student satisfaction.

Karl McCormack – Course Leader joined Staffordshire Business School in 2010, and is a member of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners and has expertise in forensic accounting and fraud risk management.

Karl said:
“It is really good to see that our accounting students are having such a great experience on their course and at Staffordshire University. Our strong personal tutoring programme, staff enthusiasm and promotion of the Staffordshire Graduate Attributes all play a crucial role in these results. It must not be forgotten though that the dedication of staff, both academic and support, shapes the overall experience.”

 

Acting Dean of Staffordshire Business School, Dr Peter Jones, added: “These results are testament to the great work that our Accountancy and Finance team does in producing a fantastic student experience. To be ranked number 1 in the UK is a real achievement.”

 

The measures for teaching on the course were as follows:

Staff are good at explaining things – 100%
Staff have made the subject interesting – 100%
The course is intellectually stimulating – 100%
The course has challenged me to achieve my best work – 100%

In fact the course attracted 100% satisfaction ratings in no fewer than 20 of the 27 categories.

For more information on our Accounting and Finance courses click here