This week, I had the opportunity to catch up with Tamsin Fox-Davies, Constant Contact’s small business marketing mentor in the United Kingdom. Tamsin leads the company’s small business education efforts across the pond, helping British small businesses understand the marketing tools and techniques that can drive their success.
She began her small business journey as a teenager, working weekends and holidays with a series of local small businesses, and held her first marketing position at 14. From that point forward, business ideas and best marketing strategies have never been far from her mind.
Following a Masters degree at Glasgow University, Tamsin set up her first business after just 2 1/2 years in full-time employment, and hasn’t looked back since. More than 10 years and hundreds of clients later, Tamsin continues to fulfill her passion for helping small businesses by providing expert advice and support to entrepreneurs who want to do their own marketing with professionalism and style.
Read on to learn more about Tamsin, and her small business tips from the field:
Tell me a bit about your background and your role as one of Constant Contact’s small business educators?
“I was running my own small business marketing consultancy before I joined Constant Contact. I was already a Constant Contact customer and Business Partner, so I knew the company and the products very well. When I was asked to join the new UK team, it was a hard decision to leave my own business. But the fact that I could spend all of my time doing what I loved and working with small businesses sold it to me almost immediately.
Now I cover the whole of the UK for Constant Contact, delivering our best practice education to groups of small business owners, and I also write a lot of articles for our blog and a number of other national outlets as well as working with our Business Partners. It’s a lot of fun!”
What are the biggest challenges facing small businesses?
“Small businesses face a LOT of challenges, and I would say that the main ones are due to having to juggle multiple roles with limited finances at their disposal. In the run up to Christmas, more people than ever are shopping online for their gifts as well, which means that the smaller independent retailers have to work harder to compete.”
The UK is celebrating Small Business Saturday for the first time on December 7th. How are small businesses and consumers reacting?
“It’s so exciting to have our own Small Business Saturday for the very first time! When people hear about it they’re excited to get involved. Lots of local councils are waiving parking fees in town centre carparks for December 7th to encourage shoppers to come in. I’ve also spoken to a slew of small business owners who are excited by the opportunity.
The Small Business Saturday campaign is being supported with national TV advertising so more consumers will become aware and can make the most of the opportunity.”
Can you offer any tips for British small businesses looking to have a successful December?
UK retailers should also register on the Small Business Saturday website. If you do that, then you can offer your customers (those who pay with Amex) the opportunity to get great cash back on their purchases.
Whatever you do, make sure you tell your friends, family, and customers about Small Business Saturday and any offer that you’re running for the day. Encourage them to come and see you and other small businesses too.”
What should small businesses be thinking about now as they plan ahead for 2014?
“I like to get small business owners planning ahead as much as possible. That doesn’t mean that you have to set all of your marketing plans in stone, but take an hour to work out what the key things are that you’re going to do for marketing each month in 2014. This will allow you to see what the big things are (e.g., Valentine’s Day sale, etc.) so that you can plan around them.
The next step is to work out your regular marketing activities and how you’re going to fit those in too. That includes things like your email newsletter, social media activity, and any regular promotions that you run. Do as much as you can in advance with those too. Write a list of email headlines to use when you need them and type up a whole bunch of tips to share on social media. Dip into these when you need them, and schedule as much as you can ahead of time.”
Have additional questions for Tamsin? Leave them in the comments below.