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

The Importance of Employability Skills – Get Ready for Employability Challenge!

Without a doubt, one of the main challenges for students today is that different employers look for different sets of employability skills. However, it can be difficult for students to think about their employability skills whilst at university given busy schedules and pressure to meet assignment deadlines.

At Staffordshire University we take employability promise seriously. We want all of our students to graduate with the right employability skills and experience to enable them to follow their chosen career path. We promise our students to equip them with relevant employment skills and we deliver on our promise. We are proud about the fact that 97% of our graduates are in employment after graduating. When it comes to employability of our graduates, we are proud to be No. 1* in England for graduate employability. To achieve this, we work in partnership with many industry-leading organisations to help them tap into our home-grown graduate talent as well as helping students develop their employability skills through various initiatives and practices such as mentoring and work-shadowing. Global Entrepreneurial Week (GEW) event held at Staffordshire University every year plays the key role in equipping graduates with relevant work-related skills.

At Staffordshire University, we are committed to helping students maximise their employability and ultimately finding their dream graduate job, by offering a range of career-related events. In particular, GEW is an annual event at Staffordshire University that brings together a range of industry leading employers on campus during which students can meet and network with employers to find out about employment opportunities. Organised specifically for students, GEW and FutureFest event is designed to inform students about the future world-of-work. The Staffordshire University is committed to helping students maximise their employability, therefore the program is centred on topics that can help students succeed in every step of their career development process.

However, whilst we are committed to bringing leading business experts to share their expertise with students, there is also an expectation from students to actively participate in this event in order to get the most out of this unique opportunity for their career development. How to make the most out of this event? Network, network, network. Forward thinking students always have their CVs on hand to give out to potential employers. If you have never written a CV, you could get a professional help from the Career Office, who would assist you in writing a professionally looking CV, highlighting your transferable skills, and any work experience you have to date.

GEW and FutureFest event will provide students with an excellent opportunity to meet employers, discuss job opportunities, better understand career opportunities across various industries, get industry insights from recruiters, network with Industry leaders or simply get inspired. So, if you’re looking for your dream job or just looking to further enhance your employability skills, come along to GEW and FutureFest event held at Staffordshire University on November 13. We look forward to active participation of students in GEW and FutureFest 2017!

Dr Katerina Thomas, Senior Lecturer at Staffordshire Business School

www.staffs.ac.uk

 

*Joint with Bishop Grosseteste University, excluding specialist institutions. Source: DLHE 2017

19 great events for Autumn 2017

There’s always lots going on in the region, music, comedy, food and drink festivals. Here’s my personal pick

September

October

November

December

Keep up to date with events by following our twitter feed @tourismsu

You might like our guide to Key visitor information and recommended markets

Details of our Tourism and Events courses are here 

jon.fairburn@staffs.ac.uk  01782 294094

 

Erasmus International Staff Week – 13th to 17th Nov 2017- Employability, Enterprise and Entrepreneurship

For the week of  13th to 17th November 2017 Staffordshire University cordially invites, to our Stoke-on-Trent Campus, academic/teaching and professional staff from our International Partners with special interests in the following:

  • career services and entrepreneurship in Higher Education with emphasis on employability skills for students,
  • how Erasmus+ mobility impacts on employability and
  • professional development for staff gaining new perspectives on supporting students in the job market.

This year our international week will coincide with Staffordshire University’s CareersFest and Global Enterprise Week #GEW2017 – an annual, week long careers, employability and entrepreneurial festival, designed to ensure our students are future fit for their chosen career.

During this period the campus is transformed into a career-focussed festival, buzzing with jobs fairs, seminars, networking events and workshops.

We hope you can join us at this time, to engage with the activities, network and form alliances with colleagues, share best practices, judge competitions, run workshops, and see what Staffordshire University can offer.

Please register by completing the form on this link Erasmus Training Programme Application Form (004)

The accepted participants can book their accommodation in any hotel of their choice located close by. More detailed information of special rates and recommendations will be given directly to the participants via email.

NB! Do not book hotels or flights before your participation has been confirmed!

The participants are expected to cover their travel, accommodation and daily allowance expenses independently from their own funds, e.g. Erasmus+ staff mobility or other funds.

Organisers Wendy Pollard and Prof Jon Fairburn

Wendy Pollard – Erasmus Coordinator

Institute for Research and Knowledge Exchange

+44 (0) 1785 353404

erasmus@staffs.ac.uk 

Prof Jon Fairburn, Business School

+44 (0) 1782 294094

jon.fairburn@staffs.ac.uk 

Funded by the ERASMUS + PROGRAMME

Pottery Places in the heart of England by Kelly Jansen (Final year student)

 

Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire is the capital of Potteries in the UK. Stoke on Trent is the home of several international household names such as Emma Bridgewater, Wedgewood, Middleport Pottery (home to Burleigh Pottery) and Royal Stafford who all produce china and earthenware. Famously, these pottery places attract tourists to Stoke to visit the brand they know and love.

I was eager to learn about the different visitors and their reasons for wanting to come to Stoke on Trent, so I carried a Visitor Survey at Emma Bridgewater on behalf of their Marketing Team, as primary research for my dissertation.

One of my findings was that for 60% of visitor’s at the factory, the main reason for visiting Stoke on Trent was the Emma Bridgewater site. So how has it become a destination venue?

There are plenty of things to do whilst at the Emma Bridgewater Factory, although they get really busy so where possible, I recommend booking the activity prior to arriving.

Activities available include:

The Decorating Studio – Pick your choice of item to decorate (from a mug to a dog bowl). The price of your decorating experience is dependent on the piece you choose to paint and a £2.95 studio fee. You can either collect your master piece 2 weeks later or pay a £5 postage fee.

In the decorating studio

Factory Tours – Tours around the factory to see how everything is made for a small price of £2.50 and Under 16’s are FREE.

Experience Days – Includes a behind the scenes tour, Afternoon tea, a session in the decorating studio and it includes 10% off at the gift shop. All for £30 per person!

Afternoon Tea – A great price of just £12.50 for amazing sandwiches, soups and beautiful cakes.

Café – Great homemade food that was fresh (I would recommend the Pesto chicken sandwich). The café is open to the general public, so you don’t have to be taking part in any activities, you can just enjoy the daily specials.

Secret Garden – It’s a secret… you’ll have to visit and find out yourself.

Special Event activities – for example at Halloween they had Owls, a pumpkin counting competition and fancy dress. More detail for further upcoming events available on their website – http://emmabridgewaterfactory.co.uk/

Another bonus is the factory offer FREE parking and great transport links for example it is a 10-minute walk from Stoke train station and a 2-minute walk from Hanley bus station.

Factory Website – Facebook – Twitter – Instagram

Kelly Jansen is in her final year of BA Tourism Management she tweets at @KellyJansen95 and is on Linkedin 

Kelly Jansen and Danielle Barnsley

Kelly Jansen and Danielle Barnsley on site at Emma Bridgewater

 

Do you need help with digital marketing?

The MSc in Digital Marketing Management is one of our new awards to meet the changing demands of industry. Marketing is going through a fundamental change with ever more marketing carried out online – a major consequence of this is the incredibly detailed data that is generated which leads to data driven policy.

The marketing industry is booming, examples from our partners include, I-Prospects in Stafford who take on over 100 graduates every year, Synectics Solutions in Newcastle under Lyme, Don’t Panic who organise many digital award nights and conferences or alumni who have set up businesses such as Jill Quick, Dan Knowles or Louise Holland

To get our Masters students ready for the industry we have two modules:

  1. ‘The Management of a Digital Marketing Project’ – this module will prepare a tri-partite agreement between the student, the academic staff and the organisation as to the focus of the project, existing benchmark measures, what is to be achieved and how to make the project sustainable (so that it can continue after the student leaves).
  2. The Work Based Digital Marketing Project – a credit work experience (450 hours) to deliver the project with the organisation concerned.

The project can be in any type of organisation e.g. private sector, public sector, charity or a university. It is desirable but not essential for the work project activity to take place at the premises, or it could be a mix with some days in the company and some work off site.

We have built in flexibility to the work-placement so it could be that you would like a portfolio of tasks to be completed rather than just one main project. Examples could be – creation of a digital marketing strategy, audit and re-launch of social media, budget and investment plan for marketing, devising and implementing a training plan for existing staff.

As the module is part of the course then paid remuneration is not required. However, we would expect travel expenses and any other identified costs of the project to be paid – these can be discussed and agreed before the placement starts.

So if you are interested get in touch with Prof Jon Fairburn jon.fairburn@staffs.ac.uk 01782 294094