I did a presentation at one of Aston Science Park’s ‘Seminars for Success’ this week – I don’t do many 7.30am starts so that’s almost worth a post in itself. All I want to do here is say thanks to those that sent me positive feedback afterwards and a general hello to some new followers on Twitter and LinkedIn. All the speakers’ presentations are posted up on the Science Park website and for reference mine is below also. It looks a bit brief without the arm-waving and additional anecdotes but you get the general point. Any questions please get in touch (in the comments or dave [at] daveharte.com):
I’ll avoid cross-posting in future but my first posting at the Digital Birmingham blog is about a useful example of how social media can be used by small businesses:
I’m always looking for examples of how social media can support small businesses. I’ve raised the question before using the local builder as an example. Why on earth would the bloke who knocked a hole in my wall have a reason to use any kind of social media tool?
Well I found a partial answer to that in a video from Herefordshire firm, Wiggly Wigglers (amongst other things they sell worms for composting). Founder Heather Gorringe explains how a shift to social media over tradititional media helped cut her advertising costs without cutting her customer base.
What’s clear is that Heather knows her customer extremely well: “we sell stuff that gardeners may not know they want”. Of course Heather’s firm have had an e-commerce presence for quite a while but they’ve embraced social media in a big way.
She has a blog, a facebook group, uses podcasts and is all over Youtube. I can’t help wonder why Wiggly Wigglers aren’t on twitter (there’s certainly plently of chat about them). Social Media is ideal for building a community around your products, for ensuring customers value the advice you give them and the knowledge-sharing that comes from connecting to each other. Increasing value-added rather than cutting prices sounds like a good strategy in an economic downturn. Previously Wiggly Wigglers had bought in customer lists, now in effect they create their own customer lists for free through word-of-mouth on social media.
For her efforts Heather has won a global award for Small Business Excellence – that’s right, a worm seller from Hereford beat off international competition. Well done to her. We need more local and regional social media champions from the wider business community. Here in Birmingham I think we’re certainly adept at knowing how to make a buck by playing the local card – but maybe we could take tip or two from a rural worm-grower about how to build a global community who care enough to come back again and again.
It is confusing I know but the Big City Plan Consultation does indeed allow you to answer a question about digital connectivity. There seemed to be some concern that it didn’t but there it is, tucked away at the end of section 4 of the ‘Big City Plan Work in Progress’. If you click under 4.11 Street Design you’ll find it (yes I know that don’t make sense) The question is number CON 13:
How can Birmingham provide a digital infrastructure to enable new and existing businesses to have a competitive advantage, globally and locally? Can a ‘Virtual Birmingham’ improve people’s understanding and appreciation of the city centre, increase opportunities for the visitor economy and attract global business interests to trade with or invest in the city centre and enable the city to achieve its ‘Connected City’ aspirations both locally and internationally?
How should Birmingham ensure that the development of new households within the city centre have a digital infrastructure that supports family living across all generations and supports the flexible lifestyle requirements of 21st century living?
Addendum: On the leaflet section of the consultation there’s a shorter question (no.25) about Digital (scroll to bottom of link):
How can Birmingham provide a digital infrastructure to enable new and existing businesses to have a competitive advantage, globally and locally?
Obviously, go answer it there rather than here.
(pic found at Dave & Bry)