Engaging in Place

I’m part of the Visit Knowle marketing team, and recently, spirits have been high in the Visit Knowle camp. Over the last two months, we’ve been encouraging local businesses to join the conversation, post more and comment more on social media, and now we are starting to see the results of our hard work. So much so, that the team have been doing ‘happy dances’ in their kitchens all week.

Why engage in place marketing?

Many customers want to shop local, and there is a role for places to invite visitors to come to their town or village, alongside shops, restaurants and businesses inviting customers to their premises. If we combine our voices and talk about both the individual businesses and the place, then we’re working together, encouraging visitors to browse in a place for longer. By working with each other and engaging in each others posts, we’re also introducing our followers to neighbouring businesses we think they’ll be interested in.

Engagement in Knowle is growing

We’ve been watching the engagement graph for Knowle turn upwards and we’re pleased to see that August and September engagement figures in Knowle are greater than the previous two months.

Even better, we’re now seeing more comments on our own posts from businesses that we weren’t hearing from before and we’re starting to see them comment on their neighbours posts too. We know it’s just the start, and that we’ve got a long way to go yet, but we like to celebrate success.

What we’ve done to get there

  • We’ve been deliberately creating posts that invite businesses to comment
  • We’ve deliberately been creating posts that businesses can share (and given example content on how they can share our posts to their advantage)
  • We’ve shared lots of good news stories
  • We’ve role modeled how to be social on social – commenting (lots) on local businesses posts, especially on Instagram
  • We’ve run a few stories and posts about joining the local conversation
  • We’ve run a “best post in place” post weekly, not only featuring the top 5 but saying how you can get into the top 5
  • We’ve shared our aims with our businesses by email regularly
  • We’ve been inviting our businesses to benefit from MayBe’s insights, training and platform regularly
  • We’ve used Maybe’s dashboard and place insights to plan our campaigns and share insights with our businesses
  • We’ve rocked up without fail to Maybe’s weekly webinars to gain further insights on what works and how we can be the best place we can be.

It’s helped our own account too. Instagram followers are growing on average 6% per month, and Facebook followers have increased 15% (since June), with a healthy level of engagement – all of which means any local posts we share reach a growing audience. 

We are delighted that our hard work is paying off. We’ll continue to encourage more engagement, whilst starting our campaign to get more businesses active in social media. So any Knowle businesses who aren’t posting yet, we’re here to help and we’ll be visiting soon!

Hashtags for Independent Retailers

Some local retailers have been asking about hashtags and how they can use for their business, so here’s a quick guide.

Why use hashtags?

Hashtags help people find content they are interested in. By clicking on a hashtag, users can see posts using that hashtag. If you follow a hashtag, it will automatically appear in your feed in Instagram and LinkedIn. You’ll also be able to find and join conversations around that subject. If you’re content is engaging and relevant to that hashtag, you should find customers interested in you and what you are talking about. In turn, they may then follow you.

Make sure the hashtags are relevant to your brand & message.  

Keep a list of hashtags including brands, place and sector hashtags, then target and match the most relevant ones to individual posts  

Use tools to find the most popular & related hashtags for your sector

Understand how others are using hashtags, & learn from them  

Use hashtags of brands you stock  

Use analytics to see which hashtags are working best for you  

Don’t use the same list of hashtags with every post

Don’t go over overboard with hashtags. You can use up to 30 on a post on Instagram but 9 is the recommended optimal number, and 10 for a story  

Don’t inadvertently spell out an unwelcome word or phrase when you merge the words together! Check your hashtag works before posting

Don’t forget to refresh your list once in a while and find out the latest trending hashtags

How to use them

You can post hashtags at the bottom of the content. On Instagram you can add them more discreetly in a comment once you’ve posted, making your post looks less cluttered. You can also hide hashtags within your post on Instagram. Follow hashtags too so that you can take the opportunity to be part of conversations.

Hashtags for independent retailers

To promote independent retailers and to connect to those following shop local campaigns, take look at the hashtags below for independent shops.

Placing yourself in your locality and surrounding areas is also important, so use local hashtags, or tag in local campaigners. Also use hashtags relevant to your business is important too. Take a look at what your business neighbours are using to find the right variant for your area.

Hashtags related to a day of the week can works for your business if you can relate the theme to you in a relevant way. Running a campaign over a number of weeks can work well.  Bring it all together and a running shop could use #run #solihull #mondaymotivation #shoplocal on a Monday post talking about planning your runs for the week ahead.

For independent’s











Daily Themes











Local hashtags

#your town
e.g #Solihull

#visit[your town]
e.g. #visitSolihull

#love[your town]
e.g. #loveSolihull
Sector Specific

#[your sector]
e.g. #bikes

#[your passion]
e.g. #cycling

e.g. #velo

Campaigns to follow and join in with

There are a number of campaigns through the year, and if you are joining in, tagging the campaigner means they are more likely to see the post, leading to possible comments and shares. Not only can you join in with campaigns, but they share useful tips and advice, so they are worth a follow throughout the year.

@Savethehighstreet – driving footfall to the High Street

@totallylocally – promoting FiverFest

@smallbizsatuk – promoting small businesses and deliver the Small Business Satuday campaign (1st Saturday in December)

@independentsdayuk – promote the shop indie campaign on July 4th

@shopindieuk – run the BestSmallShops competition

@justacard – encouraging people to support and buy from artists, crafters, independent shops


Hashtags are there to join a conversation and let others looking for conversations about their particular subject find you. They help you target customers interested in the same things as you. The golden rule is to keep them relevant to your message, your sector and your locality. Don’t forget to keep a list of your core hashtags, so that when you’re posting, you’re not racking your brain trying to remember exactly what they are!

The Foundations of a Digital Marketing Strategy

I recently ran a workshop for High Street businesses on how to grow their digital presence. We covered a lot of ground, from Google My Business, websites, social media, digital advertising, email marketing, content and analytics, but first, we had to talk about a few essential elements that influence your digital strategy.

1. Understand your customers

Who are your current customers and what do they think of you? Understanding what makes your current customers tick, and what your target customers are like is crucial to planning any marketing campaign. A customer profile for each customer group that includes key details such as average age, gender, the areas they live, what their interests are and how they shop and spend time online will help shape your digital strategy. Identifying who your super customers are, who not only support your business, but are your champions and cheerleaders can help develop your influencer strategy.

To grow your business, there may be a target customer that you need to know more about before you can decide how best to meet their needs. Once you understand your different customer groups, you can start formulating business plans and marketing campaigns that are targeted and therefore, more likely to succeed.

2. Understand the customer journey

Understanding the digital and physical customer journey and where in that journey you are relevant, interesting and useful is essential.

In our omnichannel world, we need to understand the journey our customers take before they even visit our store (bricks and mortar or online). Understanding what kind of research they do beforehand, what’s important to them, where they get advice from and the process they go through before clicking ‘add to basket’ or opening your door is something you should be reviewing every so often. Once you understand the journey, you can have the right content in the right place at the right time that answers the customer’s needs at that point in the journey. Fully understanding the journey can also lead you to adapting your business processes to make it more convenient and pleasurable for the customer to interact with you.

3. Define your customer offer

Once you understand your customers, you can review your customer offer and verify it delivers a good customer experience, positions you well versus competitors and meets customer’s needs. Defining your value proposition and your key messages makes it easier to develop targeted campaigns which customers respond to.

Understanding which elements of your products and services drive footfall, sales and margin helps focus on the elements of the offer you talk about within marketing campaigns.

Your brand story, personality and values also shape your customer offer. Be clear with your team what your brand story is, what your values are and what your tone of voice is like so that it’s delivered consistently.

4. Translate the numbers

There are so many ways we can analyse our performance, whether it’s how well a social media campaign has run, whether a Pay Per Click campaign is driving a return or whether the sales of a new product range are performing well. Successful High Street businesses understand which key performance indicators they should be reviewing when, but essentially, they have learnt how to translate the data, understand the story the data is conveying and then they act. Bringing the data back to the objectives of what you are doing and why and asking what the results are telling you to do next will help keep driving your business forward.

5. Connect with your customers

Connect with your customers, give them an experience and empower your team to do the same.

High Street businesses offer a service to people, and as people, experience and emotional connections to a brand build loyalty. Consistency is key so ensure your team understand your brand values, your key messages and your product range (so that they have exceptional product knowledge).

Blend strategy with innovation and taking opportunities

The above foundations help define your digital audience, your marketing strategy and your content plan for all your channels. Understanding who your customers are, where and how they shop and how your offer relates to them are the building blocks for everything else.

However, an independent High Street business has the advantage of being nimble. Independents are able to react swiftly to opportunities, to implement exciting ideas innovate. We should always be testing, learning and innovating to keep our businesses vibrant. Strategy and planning gives the solid base for trading well and having direction but grabbing opportunities with both hands keeps the independents one step ahead.

Five Questions Every Retailer Should Be Asking

2018 has been one of the most challenging years in retail.  As consumers continue to change their shopping habits and demand more from their retailers; as technology changes bring exciting new ways of delivering information and experiences to customers; as business rates and rents challenge costs, we more than ever need to keep asking questions that will drive business improvements.

Do you think of your customer before everything else?

Your customer should be at the forefront of everything you do. Why are your customers visiting you today? Where are they visiting you? In store, on your website or via social media? Are they getting what they want each time they visit you? What customer insights do you have? How well do you know your existing customers and target customers? What can you add of value that sets you apart? How are you growing your relationships with customers?

Is convenience at the heart of all your processes?

Customers are seeking convenience more than ever, and anything that makes it harder to interact with you means a potential lost customer.  How can you introduce convenience to every interaction you have with your customers?  When can customers contact you and how?  How can they order your products and book your services?  In what ways can you deliver products and services that are convenient to customers or do they have to come to you?  Can you do what you are doing now more effectively using apps and processes?

How engaged are you with your community?

Whether you are in the city centre, busy town or a village High Street, your regular customers, and your neighbours will want to wish you well and support you.  Have you got a reason for them to support you?  What kind of greeting and service do customers get across every channel they interact with you? What can you do within your community? Can you host clubs, run events, offer classes or advice?  If you can’t offer a service with your product, can you support the community in their events – volunteering for community events, raffle prizes for local schools and charities? Do you invite your community to engage with you across channels?

Have you embraced the latest technology and trends?

Technology is changing all the time so have you checked you are making the most of the features of the technologies you are using? What are the latest improvements available for your website, Google apps, your social media pages, your systems? Are you up to date with the latest trends? Can you improve processes by using new apps and technologies? Did you write off a technology or sales channel when it first came out that could now be relevant to your customers?

How can you grow?

Have you looked at new ways to expand existing products to new channels? Can you introduce new products to existing customers? Can you do this whilst keeping a focus on your existing business? What are your key business strengths that you can use to take you in new directions?

It’s worth taking time out of your schedule to work through these questions. This will lead you to identifying actions you can prioritise and deliver on.

If you’d like some help with answering these questions and applying them to your business, give us a call today on 07949391450 or email us at to book a session.

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