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Alicia Cowan Travels: blogs & brainstorms with The Lake Como Wedding Planner

posted by Alicia in Case Studies

In March my business friend, Keren Lerner, and I were invited to visit The Lake Como Wedding Planner, our clients based in yep, you’ve guessed it; the gorgeous Lake Como, Italy.

This fantastic business, owned by Rachel Birthistle Cooke, provides fairytale experiences for couples wanting a special wedding in one of the most picturesque and romantic destinations in Europe.

Lovely Lake Como, Italy

Keren and I met Rachel and her daughter, Taimar (who’s also on the wedding planning team) when they attended our Social Media workshop in London. They loved the workshop and felt that they could do with some extra in-depth help with their online marketing strategy.

So off we went to help Rachel, Taimar and the rest of the team map out a social media and content plan in time for the busy wedding season ahead (and provide a system that will serve their marketing planning long into future).

For us to fully understand the business Keren and I had to visit the location, meet the team and experience it first hand. D’you think we needed our arms twisted?!

During our 4 day visit we were introduced to the busy workings of a thriving wedding planner business, as well as the cultural delights of the area.

It was a real family affair as we were staying with the owner, Rachel, and her family in their amazing villa with a view of the lake. Even my husband was invited to join us!

View of Lake Como, Italy

We worked with the entire team to develop a 6 month blog and facebook content strategy through managed brainstorm sessions, and training workshops. This gave the team the tools and systems that will enable them to continue sharing their expertise, passion and experiences of organising exceptional weddings in Italy through social media.

We felt strongly that we should avoid the continual stream of case studies found on most wedding planner blogs. Instead, create a journal of articles that include wedding inspiration; tips on marrying abroad; real life stories; an insight to the Italian culture and unique service the business provides, with a pinch of what really goes on behind the scenes…

The aim of a business blog like this is to show the personalities behind the business, and build trust with their customers and prospects while demonstrating the very unique ways they serve and assist their clients. When done well, the blog visitor should think ‘I want to have my wedding planned with them!’.

This is what we covered during our sessions

  • Blog headline creation
  • Blog content and theme brainstorm
  • Blog editorial calendar planning
  • Important blog formatting tips including how to edit and upload images
  • Facebook page redesign and optimisation
  • Facebook training and strategy
  • Facebook content planning
  • Using cloud based tools (like Google Apps, Dropbox, Buffer) for team collaboration and managing projects

It was really important to provide the team with the knowledge and tools to easily build on our sessions after our visit. It’s one thing understanding how to blog or use a Facebook page, another being able to keep up with it on a consistent basis. This learning is crucial for success.

Lake Como Wedding Planner blog image

The entire team fully embraced our ideas and it was hugely rewarding for us to see their passion for the business and excited to get started sharing their stories through their blog and Facebook page. They got stuck in immediately with their first blog post: The best Tiramisu I ever ate in my whole entire life

Since we’ve been back it’s been great seeing their regular blog posts and Facebook updates – we love it when a business understands how powerful social media marketing can be after a little help from us. :)

It wasn’t all work and no play. We experienced the beautiful scenery, ate delicious food at some of their chosen wedding venue restaurants (wow – amazing!), went for morning runs beside the lake with Guinness the dog, and spent time with Rachel and her family. Not only was the experience hugely rewarding for us professionally but we made some new friends too.

Dinner in Italy

Lake Como Wedding Planners food

Guinness the dog

You can read more about the adventures of The Lake Como Wedding Planner on their blog, and on Facebook.

How do you stand out from the crowd?

posted by Alicia in Case Studies

The Haberdashery, Crouch End - LondonSee this picture? Funny isn’t it.

The A board belongs to a coffee shop called The Haberdashery but I didn’t know that when I first saw the photo.

Aaron Lee (@AskAaronLee), a social media consultant based in Singapore, tweeted it. He’s passionate about humanising business using social media. He’s also got 230,000 Twitter followers.

The tweet Aaron posted contained an image, just like this one, of this exact A board. Location unknown (at the time).

The picture really tickled me. I visualised a bunch of kids racing between the tables, buzzing on espresso, squeezing kittens. Parents oblivious to the mayhem. NOT the kind of place I’d want to go for a flat white! But that’s precisely the point.

Seeing this sign actually made me want to go there. I imagined the cafe would be chilled, fun, quirky, relaxed, friendly. Which usually means quality food and coffee too.

Anyway, on with the story. After I saw Aaron tweet this photo, I decided to share it on Facebook. It wasn’t long before a friend commented

I know this place. It’s in Crouch End – I walked past it last week.

Crouch End is about 6km from where I live in London – I’ve been going there regularly to meet friends and go shopping for years. It’s also got loads of great coffee shops so it’s difficult for them to stand out. I couldn’t believe that the cafe in the photo was a local one! The tweet had originated in Singapore so I assumed the location was somewhere far, far away…

Being a coffee addict that works from home means I’m always on the look out for new places to drink coffee, work or hold business meetings.

My friend and I arranged to meet there. Funnily enough that meeting led to business for both of us. Not only that, the cafe was as I expected it to be.

The staff at The Haberdashery are friendly, food home made and delicious, and they make a mean flat white (rare around these parts!). A really nice neighbourhood cafe and far removed from the coffee shop chains along most high streets. It turns out that they pride themselves on being a hub of the local community running events, activities and charity fundraisers. It also has a thriving Facebook group (this makes me v happy).

So now I’ve got a new place to visit when I’m in the area. I’m also telling all my friends plus blogging about it here! :)

This probably wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for social media, and it certainly wouldn’t have happened if the coffee shop owners hadn’t chosen to stand out and be different.

So what’s the point of this story? Twitter, Facebook, blogging – they’re not strategies, they are ways to communicate. If you stand out, dare to be different and do things that get people talking, social media can help people spread your message. Make it easy for them. What are you doing differently?

How we used social media to promote the MyDish competition

posted by Alicia in Case Studies

My Dish recipe sharing website

I love food and I love talking about it. Good, bad, hot, cold, sweet, spicy, I’ll try anything once (with the exception of jellied eels). People’s eating habits are fascinating. It’s a bit like that reliable British conversation staple: the weather. We have so much of it here!

So, when I was approached by MyDish to help them with a social media campaign I jumped at it. Talk about food all day? You bet!

Who are My Dish?

A unique social networking recipe website dedicated to saving British family recipes for future generations.

When Carol’s mother-in-law, Maureen, passed away, Carol discovered scraps of paper with Maureen’s handwritten recipes on them. The recipes brought back memories for Carol’s husband, reminding him of his childhood whenever he tasted them.

It dawned on Carol that many family recipes that have been treasured over generations are lost because they’re not stored properly – and so she came up with the idea of MyDish.

Carol made headlines when she became the first person on Dragon’s Den to be offered double the amount of money she was pitching for. MyDish received investment from Deborah Meaden on Dragon’s Den, and she remains a board advisor to the company. (Dragon’s Den is the popular BBC2 programme where entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas to millionaires willing to invest their own cash).

The request

MyDish were looking for help raising their profile and increasing visits to their website.

Being an online portal, leveraging social media was an obvious choice. It’s accessible, low cost, campaigns are easy to implement quickly, it achieves results fast, and there’s a community already there who are familiar with online networks.

The idea

We decided to run a two week online competition around the topic of nostalgic food.

MyDish has previously run a smaller nostalgic food campaign on their Facebook page. As it had been successful we agreed to take this idea out to a wider audience.

Everyone has a favourite dish that reminds them of childhood whether it’s school dinners, or something more homely and hearty, so it was an natural topic choice. It’s an easy question to answer, it inspires conversation, and makes you feel warm and fuzzy! It also fits nicely with MyDish’s values and purpose.

The plan

The basis of the competition was to encourage people to tell MyDish what foods make them nostalgic and be entered into a prize draw to win £100 Marks & Spencers vouchers in time for Christmas.

I created a short video with people talking about their nostalgic food memories to get others thinking about their own and to demonstrate it’s simplicity and feel good factor. The video was uploaded to YouTube and used on the competition landing page. You can watch it here:

We then create a simple landing page where people could include their entry to the competition:

MyDish competition landing page

The landing page included a big tweet button to encourage people to share the details with their friends on Twitter and help the competition spread:

Tweet about My Dish competition

During the competition period we engaged the MyDish fan base on Twitter and Facebook to promote the competition and generate more interest through nostalgic food themed conversation.

The bloggers

I enlisted a number of targeted bloggers to write about the competition and generate interest by talking about it on Twitter and Facebook. They produced fantastic reads that really captured the essence of the competition! Here they are:

What Food Makes You Nostalgic – Yummy Choo Eats

My Dish Nostalgic Recipe Competition – Come Dine With Rach

I’m Lost In Lovely Memories! – Jenny Eatwell’s Rhubarb Ginger

Bringing Back The Nostalgia – Lite Bite

A Nostalgic Nut Roast with Pine Nuts – Becoming A Vegetarian

Nostalgic Food – Just Annie QPR

The Result

With still a few days to go there have been 2000 entries to the competition, a big increase in visits to the MyDish website and raised brand awareness. I’m waiting for final figures – will report back soon!

In the meantime, there’s still time to enter the competition – you can do so here: My Dish Competition but be quick – it closes November 20th.

Good luck!