Children ask the best questions about marketing and careers.
I’m just back from a Business Angels event at my old primary school to talk about my 20+ year career in marketing.
Over the past 4 years I’d talked about my journalism and events career and this year I wanted the whole talk to be on the 13.5 year career at Altrincham HQ and Social Media.
And these were the 11 questions that the children asked at the end of of my talk.
Q: When did your business become popular?
I started the business in 2009 and it was about a year in when people really started to notice.
It was the early days of social media and when I got about 1000 followers on Twitter local businesses started asking me how they could use social media to market their businesses.
The rest as they say is history.
Now I have 59,000+ followers across social media and I’ve worked with brands like Manchester City, NHS, Costa Coffee, United Utilities, Selfridges, Manchester Arndale and many more.
Q: What inspired you to work in marketing?
I studied business and marketing from when I was 14, but I’ve always been good at talking up things I’m passionate about.
I’ve always talked about music, films, TV shows and books I love and convinced people to check them out.
I just love helping people reach a bigger audience.
So, it is part the fundamentals of learning about marketing through education and a passion for what I do.
If you bring together education and passion it’s a really powerful thing.
Q: What was the 1st major business you worked with?
I’m going to give 2 answers to this one.
Altrincham Ice Rink was the 1st major business I worked with in my hometown. It’s a business that synonymous with the town like the football club and Altrincham Market. People come to Altrincham for the ice rink and I used to go to the old ice rink myself when I was younger.
The other name that really stands out is nostalgic as well and that’s Manchester Arndale.
Manchester Arndale brought me in to train the marketing team on social media and to make the brand more human. It was a real wow moment as I used to visit the Arndale every Saturday when I was a teenager.
It’s one of the most recognisable businesses in Manchester and to train a business that has thousands and thousands of people in each day was amazing.
Q: Have you worked with McDonalds?
No, I’ve never worked with McDonalds.
I work with a lot of food businesses, but never McDonalds.
A business the size of McDonalds will have a huge inhouse marketing team of experts so they wouldn’t necessarily work with a freelancer like me. They have the skills in house.
The biggest food based business I’ve worked with are Pita Pit who have 450 branches world wide.
When I think about all the food businesses i’ve worked with i’ve worked with Indian restaurants, Chinese restaurants, thai restaurants, Italian restaurants, dessert bars, healthy eating cafes, tapas bars, fish and chips shops, street food businesses and many more. I think the only type i’ve not worked with so far is Lebanese or Mediterranean – but I’d love to.
Q: What’s your company called?
My business is called Altrincham HQ.
I’ll let you into a secret here.
It’s only called Altrincham HQ because when I set up our 1st social media account on Twitter, Altrincham was taken and I needed to add something to the end and HQ seemed to fit.
When I 1st started it made us sound a lot bigger than I was. People assumed it meant headquarters, but I just chose it because it sounded good.
It’s stuck though and it’s a well-known name in the Manchester Area now.
Q: What’s your logo like?
I have 2 variations of my logo.
My best friend designed it and he did such an amazing job.
One that I used on my business card which is rectangular.
A few years ago, the social media platforms started making all profile photos circular, so I have variation on it for social media usage.
Both have got orange, black and white in it. So a lot of what you see me post on social media will be based around those colour schemes.
Q: Did you work for the Etihad?
We’ve worked with Manchester City on their corporate department.
As well as the football arm to the business, which you all know about, the Etihad also makes money by hiring out function rooms and the space for corporate events.
So, we worked with that side of the business a number of years ago to improve their corporate social media presence.
In the same workshop was also the Midland Hotel, so it was a really good training session for helping 2 of Manchester’s most well-known businesses.
Q: How do you make money?
We offer 2 main services.
Both services are based around the idea that we’ll take the businesses social media from average to great.
Social Media Training where we’ll go into a business and train their team on how to use social media. This generally is half a day, but we offer 2-hour bitesize sessions and full day training as well. Businesses come to us for this when they have the time and inclination to improve their social media.
We also offer social media management for businesses who don’t have the time or the inclination and would rather their marketing be handled by a professional. Our longest social media management client has been with us for over a decade now.
Q: Most famous business you worked for?
It’s a hard one, but it either has to be Manchester City or Costa Coffee.
Manchester City is one of the most well-known football clubs in the world.
Costa Coffee is on every high street in Britain.
Which do you think is the most famous out of those 2?
(Reveal: About 75% of the 8 year olds said Costa Coffee)
Q: Do you do your business alone?
Yep – Altrincham HQ is just me.
Over the years I’ve had freelancers and they were absolutely amazing and helped the business grow.
But the more people you have the more issues you have when people aren’t available because of issues outside of work.
When freelancers couldn’t take on a project, it was down to me to do it and I ended up working 7 days a week.
For me right now it’s better I have a better work / life balance and I’m happy with where we are at the moment.
But no business truly does it alone – they all have other businesses they work with and collaborate with.
Q: Have you worked with any other football teams?
I’ve worked with Altrincham FC a number of times.
They have the Altrincham FC community sports hall, which was a fantastic addition to the club a few years back.
So, I’ve worked with their staff to improve the social media when they’ve had new starters.
They do a lot of work with schools and the hall gets used by local businesses and for special events.
It feels good to be able to work with both the local team as well as Manchester City.
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