1. Proposition - One sentence explanation of what your business is
Altrincham HQ is a community focused Social Media training and management business - we have 65+ recommendations on LinkedIn which highlights the great service we provide, but you are just as likely to see us offline in the community as you are online
2. Why are you a smart business?
Firstly, we realised the importance of being hyper-local and community focused in what you do.
Although we work with businesses outside our home town of Altrincham, our focus is very much local and we actually spent over a year building up a local community on twitter before the business side of Altrincham HQ actually launched. It meant when we started offering Social Media services, we had a very strong loyal following of both businesses and residents who respected what we did, who knew we cared passionately about the community. Altrincham's been my home town for 35 years and you can't fake the passion!
Secondly, we realised the importance of Social Media early on for small businesses.
So we put the 2 passions together - hyper-local and technology - and provided 121 Social Media Training for local businesses. We primarily cover twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and blogging primarily, but social media changes all the time.
Our biggest successes to date before the #O2SmartaBiz of the week is being ranked Number 1 in the UK for Social Media Marketing on Freeindex and also getting 65+ recommendations on LinkedIn for our services. We're always customer focused and both of these accolades are from local businesses who we've worked with - our nearest competitors have less than 50% of the customer recommendations that we have, so it speaks volumes!
3. What's the smartest thing you've done to help your business grow?
Attending Business Networking Meetings from near enough day one
Being a Social Media business many readers would expect us to be a faceless organisation that purely operates online. A couple of months after we started I was asked to attend a local Business Networking Breakfast of which I then became the marketing assistant for a period of 2 years. This gave me a platform to be known as the face of Altrincham HQ and there's a lot to be said for linking both online marketing and offline marketing
We, along with 2 other local businesses, have just launched a networking meeting in the nearby town of Urmston. It was an area where we felt the business community could really benefit from having a monthly networking group... and our first event was a total success with 35+ local businesses attending.
4. What smart things do you do for your customer's?
We bring them into the modern age of Social Media marketing and bring them new customers, more repeat business and better customer service.
The 2 core services we offer are Social Media Management and Social Media Training and there seems to be a very definite divide in who goes for this - 70% of the former are male whereas the training services our customers tend to be 70% female
For me the biggest success stories we have are when we work with a business from their inception and the only marketing they do is Social. There is no traditional advertising such as flyers or the local newspapers and when they monitor what comes in a huge percentage say "We heard about you on twitter"
We work with a local restaurant that accounts 30% of their business from Twitter and in less than a year is the number 1 restaurant in their town on Tripadvisor out of 71 restaurants
Interestingly, Social Media is considered something that "Younger" people do and yet we've trained business owners from 18yrs old through to 77yrs old - each generation has something new to learn.
5. What smart technologies do you use to run your business?
Due to the nature of the business Social Media is an absolute must - the spread of ideas is so important to small businesses and it's extremely powerful that something that takes 10 seconds to write can empower a small business and be read by thousands in a matter of minutes. The keyboard is mightier than the sword as they say!
Blogging is also an essential part of our business model as well. In previous businesses I've been blogging since 1999 and had blogs read by over 500,000 people so when I set up Altrincham HQ I knew this needed to be part of what we do on a weekly basis. Our blogging is focused on Social Media case studies, customer service and small business issues as well as profiles of local businesses in the community.
We also have simple but highly effective systems in place to monitor the ROI from Social Media and all our marketing activity - we know where all our business comes from and to what amount. Its important social media isn't just a tick-box exercise, but you can actually measure its effectiveness and return.
6. What's your smartest tip for other entrepreneurs?
Out-care your competition and ingrain a culture of character over a culture of personality within your business.
Work hard, be helpful and care about your local community - it sounds simple, but so many people care about slick presentations and business psychology that they've forgotten the basics of what most people truly respect
Offer traditional values with new technology and you're onto a winning formula!
Get more details on how to be this week's #O2SmartaBiz here.