How to build brand loyalty, and knowing your audience, with John ‘Hedge’ Hall

How to build brand loyalty, and knowing your audience, with John ‘Hedge’ Hall

If your business relies on face to face experiences, is it possible to grow a strong, loyal community online during the global pandemic? And how easy is it to navigate new services and audiences when you’ve never marketed to them before?

John Hall (better known as Hedge), founder of Access Parkour believes it’s entirely possible to do both. He talks with Katie about how he’s pivoting the business into new directions, taking on new challenges around growing his community base online and asks the question we’ve all been wondering lately…is Katie Goudie a real person?

This is episode 51 of The Whin Big Podcast. We’re delighted to have you here. Let’s jump into this week’s episode.

Today’s episode is sponsored by our Instagram MOT. This 20-point checklist will take you through all the most important things you need to get right in your Instagram marketing. Click below to sign up for the free training and download the checklist.

As always, the show notes are a guide to what’s in this week’s podcast episode, so click on the link to make sure you don’t miss out on the extra resources and tips inside. 

Access Parkour – on a mission to help people move better

Hedge and Katie discuss the early days of Access Parkour – a company that delivers accessible moving classes in Edinburgh, the Lothians and Dundee.

When it started, the idea was to bring parkour to as many people as possible. This idea has expanded into a company that supports people from all backgrounds to enjoy parkour. This includes teaching children in schools and after school clubs, running outdoor classes for people looking for adventures and even reaching out to people who have been turned off by exercise and movement and helping them find joy in it.

Taking the leap to start a business

At the age of 25, Hedge was half way through a science related PhD when he realised he was on the wrong path. With over 40 hours a week in the lab, his studies took up so much of his time, but he still found time to teach climbing and parkour to young people. He loved it and knew he had a tough decision to make.

7 years on, he’s never looked back.

“I thought, if you don’t try now you’ll never try. So I left my PhD and started Access Parkour.” – Hedge

Becoming a small business owner

Hedge clearly loves the business he’s built and his role inside it. He thrives on challenges and in the 7 years he’s been self-employed he’s taken on new skills and adapted as his business grew. 

“Every year is different. You’re constantly learning and constantly challenged. That’s a really cool part of what I do. I’m a better business manager and leader than I was 7 years ago because I have to adapt all the time. That’s both the best bit and the most difficult bit about what I do.” – Hedge

Adapting with shifting trends on social media

Hedge is currently navigating the challenges of marketing on social media. His biggest challenge is the change in the 35 year old and under market leaving Facebook as his main communication platform.

He doesn’t feel that TikTok, SnapChat and Instagram are the best platforms for Access Parkour because his services are localised.

Strengthening their community through the pandemic

While the country went on lockdown, Hedge and his team offered free parkour sessions online. The result was a strong sense of community and a stronger bond between the coaches and the people taking the classes.

To strengthen that relationship further, the team moved all communications to Slack for everybody to communicate with each other and feel connected during this time.

Why Slack wasn’t the best platform for community building 

Initially the team wanted to foster a sense of community through a closed group. They wanted people to join the group and commit to growing the relationships together, rather than simply ‘drop in’ but the platform didn’t allow for the deep connection that Hedge wanted to create. 

Community building on the Discord platform

The team is now looking at Discord which allows for a deeper connection between users, as building relationships between the Access Parkour team and their clients.

Discord is similar to Facebook groups, closed environments where people sign up to be part of the community as opposed to being posted ‘at’ on open pages. The difference is that Discord is chat based with video and voice functions, so it’s a great place to foster relationships and grow a loyal community.

The power of word of mouth

 The biggest marketing challenge for Hedge and the team is balancing the reputation of Parkour as a dangerous, thrill seeker sport versus the reality of it being a fun, safe and enjoyable exercise with qualified instructors. Parents have to trust that it’s safe to send their children and can find that difficult when they see parkour stunts on Youtube.

Word of mouth between parents and other users is the best way to foster that trust – backed up by a solid website and strong testimonials.

Adapting content for the right audience 

The content journey for Access Parkour has shifted to move with the way their audience consumes content.

The sport is very visual – people want to see it in action, rather than read about it in blogs – so Hedge posts videos to YouTube. Facebook and Instagram. They’re considering moving into Instagram Reels too.

“On Instagram it’s not a perfectly targeted audience for you, but you can use location tags and hashtags to reach your targeted community” – Katie

The real advantage for Access Parkour is that the coaches and customers already ‘get’ the visual aspect of Parkour, so they create content as an add-on to the activity. This means there’s a constant bank of content for Hedge to tap into and share on their platforms.

Pivoting services and utilising LinkedIn

Hedge has reignited an old LinkedIn account to support Access Parkour’s latest pivot plans.
The pandemic has opened some issues for people working from home, that Hedge feels parkour can solve. There are three key areas that he’s identified as pandemic problems:

  • Breakdown of teams: they’re not as connected or working together as well because they’re now individuals working in their own settings
  • Mental health: with people stuck at home, they’re not accessing the benefits of engaging with other people
  • Fitness: there’s less movement for people as they work from home

This means businesses have to think more about employees wellbeing as a whole. Access Parkour can solve this is offering online or outdoor movement classes for teams and organisations to do together as part of their routines.

This concept meant adapting to Business to Business marketing – and for Access Parkour, that’s where LinkedIn steps in. The team is transitioning with the change in tone of voice and adapting messages for business sales, so it’s a work in progress.

Katie and Hedge discuss identifying customer personas, business types and sizes to target on LinkedIn in the episode. Don’t forget to listen to this Whin Big Podcast episode to learn more about how you can apply similar methods for your own business marketing.

Looking to the future for Access Parkour

Hedge looks for the upsides in times of crisis or challenge. Access Parkour is a business that thrives when their community is strong, he believes that getting smarter with strengthening relationships with that community is the key to driving Access Parkour into continued success.

Business books inspiring Hedge on his business journey

The Lean Start-up by Eric Ries

“It’s one of those books you should definitely read, but definitely not follow blindly.” – Hedge

The Whin Big Podcast’s Greatest Hits

The Whin Big Podcast’s Greatest Hits

This week we’re looking at the highlights of the podcast’s first year. Katie takes us through her favourite guest interviews and shares the best tips from the first 50 shows, including social media tactics and business strategy and so much more.

As you know by now, our show notes are the highlights from each episode, so click on play to make sure you tap into all the marketing gold! This episode is positively sparkling with insight and advice, you don’t want to miss anything here!

This episode is sponsored by our Instagram MOT. This 20-point checklist will take you through all the most important things you need to get right in your Instagram marketing. Hit the big yellow button below to sign up for the free training and download the checklist.

The Whin Big Podcast ‘Greatest Hits’

The Whin Big Podcast has had some fantastic guests over the past 12 months. Without them, the podcast wouldn’t exist and we’re so grateful to each of them for joining Katie and sharing such valuable advice and insight.

We don’t envy Katie the task of pulling out her highlights – and she certainly found it tough to make a final selection. Thankfully, she did it and shares her greatest hits here.

“If you’re new to the podcast or you only subscribed part way through our first year, this collection of excerpts might whet your appetites.” – Katie

Subscribe to the Whin Big Podcast

Before we jump in, you should know that Katie has much more planned for the podcast. More insightful guests, epic topics and some exciting plans are lined up for the next 50 episodes so don’t miss out on a single moment of it. You can of course subscribe in Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to your favourite shows. Just open up the app and search “Whin Big.” If you like listening via the website, use the subscribe button below to make sure you get an email every week with the new podcast episode and other news and ideas from The Whin.

Mark Keys strength coach & business owner

We meet Marc Keys in episode 7. He’s a strength and conditioning coach with his own gym in Leith called Cast Iron Strength. Mark has a wealth of knowledge in marketing, personal development and running his own business and in this episode he shares his story and gives some fascinating ideas for marketing strategies.

Rebecca Bonnington business consultant

In episode 18, Rebecca talks about her own approach to marketing. She has years of experience supporting and coaching business owners into success and has valuable ideas for any business owner to focus on. Her approach to marketing is quite a contrast from Mark’s but it’s a perfect reminder that there’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach to marketing your business. 

Staying true to your own unique business experience

 The contrast between Rebecca and Mark’s strategy shows us all that you don’t have to stress about copying someone else’s approach. When you focus on your own business, your resources, ambitions, personal preferences and audience, it allows you to have your own success. By all means take inspiration from other people, but make your approach and success yours. 

Marketing ideas for your own business

Katie’s goal for The Whin Big podcast has always been about sharing knowledge, insight and experience. The most valuable episodes have been a blend between guests sharing tips for you to apply to your own business and the inspiring life stories they experience – which bring valuable lessons in their own way. 

SEO advice for better visibility online 

In episode 39, Ahmed Khalifa, SEO specialist and deaf awareness campaigner, shares valuable insight to make your site more visible in search engines.

There are lots of great SEO tips in this full episode so don’t miss out. And, if you want to find even more ways to implement SEO on your site, it’s worth listening to episode 49 where we meet Caroline Phillips from Alba SEO.

Making your site more accessible

As a deaf awareness campaigner, Ahmed is well versed in the issues and challenges people with visual or hearing impairments experience when visiting sites and engaging with content.
How user friendly is your digital marketing output? And can you improve it for people who access your content in a different way?

Tuning in to Ahmed’s interview in episode 39 will make sure you’re on the right path.

Harnessing the power of Facebook as a marketing tool 

There was once a time when posting to a Facebook page was enough to grow your audience and market to them successfully. Obviously, it’s not as easy as this anymore, but our guests in episode 28 still have success using the platform as a marketing tool. Victoria and Zoe, professional tidiers – get most of their clients through Facebook and share their secrets with us in this episode. 

When is the best time to post on social media? 

Victoria and Zoe’s interview answers the number one question Katie gets asked. If you’ve been trying to figure this out for your own social media marketing – then dive into this episode to find out. 

Interested in influencer marketing?

Influencers can have such a positive impact on growing your audience and reaching new customers. If you’ve been thinking of this approach for your own business, you’ll learn loads from our guest in episode 35. Here we meet Sophie Barham who runs a popular tea room in the south of England. Sophie’s tapped into influencer marketing in a really authentic way and it’s had a truly positive impact on her business. 

How to use PR to market your business

As Sophie knows only too well, marketing goes way beyond social media and digital marketing. There is still a more traditional marketing experience we can tap into in the shape of publicity, networking and PR.

Elaine Fleming of Ginger PR – our guest in episode 31 – shares advice on finding specific ideas for what PR is and gives guidance on how to approach the right journalists and publications who might want to feature you and your business.

Content creation, case studies and blog posts

Content is such an important part of digital marketing. It can be time consuming so it’s vital to speak directly to your audience, so they engage.

Telling stories about your customers is key to making a meaningful connection with them. In episode 47, Lizzie Brough from Hey Summit shares her insight on writing for the Hey Summit audience by sharing customer case studies.

And in episode 43, Louise Spence from Headspace for Business delves into her strategies for creating content with her business partner in a way that effectively reaches their audience whilst adding value to their experiences.

Fitting content creation into a marketing strategy

If there’s one headache that unites almost all of the Whin Big Podcast guests, it’s content creation. Everyone knows the value of it, but fitting it into a marketing strategy isn’t always straightforward.

Back in January 2020, we met Mike McGrail of Getgo Studio. Mike is an experienced marketer and shares his experiences of content creation while setting up and running a creative studio.

Coming up on The Whin Big Podcast 

Katie has big plans for the next 50 episodes of The Whin Big Podcast (and beyond!). You can expect lots more guests, lots more learning and a few surprises along the way.

In a few weeks time she’s dedicating a whole episode to answering listener questions and dilemmas and it would be great to include yours.

If you’ve got a marketing puzzle you can’t solve, or even want a few pointers on a tool you’re considering for your business then please do get in touch.

You can get in touch with Katie directly by emailing or send a DM on Instagram.

And on behalf of the team and the listeners…

Supporting Katie to produce The Whin Big Podcast over the past 50 episodes has been a wonderful experience for us on the Whin Big Podcast team. She’s created a wonderful place of learning and sharing. With her well chosen guests and her own valuable insight and expertise, the podcast has become a valuable tool to so many business owners across the UK (and beyond).

In this episode (episode 50) of The Whin Big podcast, Katie gives special thanks to all of her guests and listeners for being part of the conversation. For those of us working with Katie to help her bring this podcast about, and on behalf of all of the podcast listeners, we would like to say a special thank you to YOU, Katie for creating such a brilliant podcast for us all to enjoy and learn from.

SEO tips for business owners like you, with Caroline Phillips

SEO tips for business owners like you, with Caroline Phillips

Are you one of the thousands of business owners looking to improve your online visibility on Google? This is one episode you won’t want to miss as Katie talks to Caroline Phillips – owner and founder of SEO Alba Services and Alba Business Director.

Caroline shares 4 easy to action SEO tips for business owners like you Caroline talk about joys of running a business, building a team and the challenges of working from home during lockdown.

Sound good? Let’s get started on episode 49 of the Whin Big podcast. 

Turning redundancy into a new business

A former scientist working in IVF, Caroline moved into IT in her 30s. When she was made redundant in 2008, she knew it was time to strike out on her own business journey. Using her previous experience in IVF she built an online directory for people researching IVF treatments abroad. Understanding the need for validation on Google, she studied how Google ranked sites and was successful in bringing both clinics and IVF patients together.

Caroline loved the process so much she realised she could offer the same service to other businesses and industries and Alba SEO services was born.

The current shape of Alba SEO Services

Starting off with just 1 client, the business has grown well year on year. Caroline now has two full time employees and a graduate who works on a freelance basis. After a period of growth that felt unsustainable for Caroline, she’s happy with the current size of the business. For Caroline it’s all about keeping in close contact with clients and colleagues alike for a better balance.

With such a hands on approach she’s able to closely involved with a huge range of businesses from genealogists to cleaners.

The future of Alba SEO Services

Caroline’s optimistic about the future as so many businesses are going online. They need to get more visibility on Google and need some SEO help. They’re seeing the value of going online so much more. 

Navigating through lockdown 

 SEO Alba Services already worked remotely, connecting through Slack so on the face of it, the business wasn’t affected. As well as learning new skills and approaching challenges as more e-commerce businesses approached them, the extra hours of lockdown meant she could fulfill a goal she’d had for a while.

Going back to her directory experience she built a comprehensive small business directory during this time and launched it a few weeks ago.

“Looking back on it now I think it’s great that something so good came out of something so depressing.” – Caroline

Building a business directory

 Having a lot of experience with sub-par directories, Caroline wanted to build a directory (Alba Business Directory) that was of genuine use and value to the user. This meant creating a plan that included:

  • Usability & user experience
  • Design & copy
  • Adapting & fixing code
  • Setting up SEO
  • Creating content for credibility
    • Blogs
    • Backlinks
    • Digital marketing

How do you market Alba SEO Services? 

Unsurprisingly, Caroline’s priority is SEO and keeping the business on page 1 of Google. 

“I’m always looking for opportunities to add my website to places that will give me a backlink. That’s what SEO is all about – building your credibility, and you do that with backlinks.” – Caroline

Other marketing activities:

  • PR: Caroline works with a PR consultant who finds opportunities for marketing Alba SEO Services that wouldn’t be available to them otherwise – such as writing articles for the press. This goes a long way to strengthen their reputation and provide backlinks back to the website
  • Social Media: Caroline sees this as essential marketing to grow her audience and reach new audiences, but it also strengthens SEO so it’s doubly important for her business.
  • Networking: As a member of the Chamber of Commerce Caroline has access to a strong network of business owners. They’ll share her content, post blog articles (more backlinks!) and organise networking events.
  • Surveys: followed by writing white papers on the results have also worked well for Alba SEO Services, although points out that the project can take months and is definitely not a quick fix.

“I’ve always liked the idea of doing original research for my business and then using it as a tool for SEO, PR and marketing, but it feels like a lot of work – I’d like a team beside me to make it possible.” – Katie

Marketing through press and writing articles

Working with a PR consultant has given Alba SEO Services additional exposure that goes a long way to gaining trust and credibility in the industry.

Understandably, their ideal customers are ‘business owners’ so they steer away from writing articles for SEO and tech press, and don’t write using technical jargon.

Instead, they write about topics like:

  • Top 5 things you can do to make your website better for Google
  • Things I’ve learned as an SEO consultant

The content is about how business owners can improve their sales through SEO. Caroline recognises that it’s hard to be consistent with articles and blogs (for Alba SEO Services site and guest blogs).

“It’s realising you can’t do everything you want to do. And asking for help. I’m taking steps to get help with my admin which was taking up so much of my time. I wonder why I didn’t do this before – now I’ve got time to write blogs.” – Caroline

5 tips to improve your business visibility through SEO 

If you’re considering getting an SEO agency to help with this area, but don’t quite have the budget to go all out, here are Caroline’s tips on getting started.

  • Copy: Google has to understand what you do or it can’t rank you on search pages. Make sure you have enough copy on your site so it can do its job.
    Keep your site warm and inviting for people visiting – but make sure the copy does the job of clearly defining your business
  • Separate your services: Have a different page for each of your services so it’s easier for Google to rank your different products or packages (rather than one generic services page).
  • Backlinks are links from someone else’s website to your own website. They are the lifeblood of SEO because they prove your credibility.
    • Get onto Yell, Yelp and other directories is the quickest way to get some backlinks flowing
    • If you want to learn more about backlinks – Caroline goes into much more detail about backlinks in the episode, so don’t miss out on listening this week!
  • Google my Business it’s essential you’ve claimed it and full of the information you want to tell the world.
  • Podcasting! Katie reminds all listeners that featuring on her podcast gives you an instant backlink from her own website through the show notes. So get in touch with her if you’d like to feature on an episode!

“Best marketing advice: Just keep going when things are tough. If you’re worried your ideas aren’t going to work – see your ideas through to the end.” – Caroline

Resources and links

Connect with Caroline and Alba SEO Services on the following channels: 






You Tube 

Other links discuss in this week’s podcast: 

The Whin Big Podcast episode 34: 4 lessons I learned from failing at blogging

Alba Business Directory

Lewis Bilsland (Caroline’s developer)

Google My Business



3 strategies to organise your marketing (even when you hate getting organised)

3 strategies to organise your marketing (even when you hate getting organised)

Always falling behind with your marketing efforts? Sick of playing catch up? This week Katie shares the 3 fail safe strategies she uses across The Whin to keep on top of all the moving parts of marketing and continue to grow our audience and the business as a whole. 

Welcome to The Whin Big Podcast! This is episode 48 and if you’re fed up feeling on the back foot with your marketing, you’ll love this week’s podcast. As always the full episode is packed with useful insight and advice, so don’t forget to jump into the audio and to catch all the gold!

This episode is sponsored by our Instagram MOT. This 20-point checklist will take you through all the most important things you need to get right in your Instagram marketing. Hit the big yellow button below to sign up for the free training and download the checklist.

Running your business – especially if you’re a solopreneur – means wearing many hats and multitasking at all times. Katie recognises that keeping on top of multiple projects means it’s not always possible to keep the rest of the plates spinning. 

“It’s not in my nature to be super rigidly organised. I like to do what I feel like in the moment. I tend to rebel against systems.” – Katie

Strategy #1 – Flip fake deadlines into real deadlines

Assuming you hit your client-work deadlines (if you’re not, that’s a whole other podcast episode), let’s talk about self imposed deadlines for marketing projects for your own business.

If you’re someone who likes to shift the deadlines around to suit your ‘in the moment’ feelings it’s time to say goodbye to this approach..

Does this sound familiar?

Say you want to create a new free download for your site. You give yourself a deadline of writing the download for ‘next week’, with a plan to get it on the site a few days after that.

Then ‘next week’ creeps closer and…

You decide it wasn’t a priority really, you shift the deadline to the next week. And the next. And the next. 

Action: Accountability

Get someone else involved who cares about your deadlines, or can encourage you to care about your deadlines.

  • Book a contractor or freelancer to create the work by deadline
  • Talk to a co-conspirator or work buddy and set up an accountability agreement
  • Work with a business coach to push you toward your deadline

“Find someone who loves lists and deadlines and make them part of the team.” – Katie

When Katie launched The Whin Big podcast, she put a cast iron team of people together to guide her toward essential deadlines. Her commitment to producing the podcast is strong, but without the support she might not enjoy the process so much, making it harder to commit.

This works for Pinterest pins, social media graphics and other types of marketing materials that work towards her marketing goals.

What if you don’t have the budget or the contacts for accountability? 

Lean in on commitments to your audience. There’s no better way to set – and stick – to deadlines if you tell your audience ahead of time you’re launching something.

Announce your plans in advance. Your audience will get excited, curious and ready for the products or services coming up. If you give yourself a 1-2 week lead in time so you can engage with your audience about your plans, chances are they’ll be ready to buy from you as soon as you launch. Which means there’s a double reward to sticking to this deadline:

  • Achieving your goals
  • Generating income

Strategy #2 – Call time on guessing how long things take

Feeling disorganised and working harder and longer than you need to can really impact your mental health and work/life balance. Katie’s approach to this is to get very realistic about how long tasks take to make the to-do list not only more streamlined, but achievable.

After setting up a weekly newsletter, or another large, weekly marketing activity, Katie felt overwhelmed because the task took longer than she wanted it to.

If you’re someone who feels the same way, then perhaps looking at timings in a new way can help you achieve more of your goals – and finish work at a reasonable quitting time.

Without adding more overwhelming systems in place, Katie uses her past experience as a guide for blocking out time for tasks. This comes from practice, and completing the same task a few times over to get a strong idea.

“The more you do your marketing tasks – posting to Instagram or writing a blogpost – the better you get at estimating how long the task will take.” – Katie

Having working examples of each of her marketing tasks makes it easier for Katie to block out the right amount of time in her schedule to complete them. Here’s some other tips for making that easier:

  • Allow for distractions. If you know you take frequent breaks to scroll through Instagram – build in that extra time to keep your schedule realistic. If you ignore the inevitable scrolling time when planning, you’ll put too many things on the list. And this leads to overwhelm, feeling disorganised and untidy.
  • Make life easier for yourself by identifying where you can save time. For example, Katie regularly sends herself links to useful items for her weekly email newsletter so she can minimise research time on the day she writes the newsletter.
  • Set a timer the first couple of times you take on a task so you can get a clear idea of how long it takes and makes scheduling easier.
  • Bend time! Some activities take 45 minutes that can be done in 5, because you’re searching for perfection or maybe you’re just faffing about. If you’re recording your times you’ll see which areas you’re wasting time.
  • Batch tasks together – if you have tasks with different moving parts, try batching similar tasks together. Often working on one thing (like scripts for the Whin Big Podcast) inspires Katie and she can write a few scripts at the same time. This makes scheduling and recording so much easier as much of the work has been done already. Can you think of areas in your week where batching tasks could work?

“This is beneficial to your feeling of being an organised person. Of staying on top of your workload and getting your marketing done, without it being an overwhelming burden on you.” – Katie

Strategy #3 – Write it all down

No matter what the task or item is – create a master marketing list. This means you won’t have to rummage through notebooks, lists or your memory to find that really cool idea you had for a social media post the other day.

  • Every time you have an idea for a blog post – write it down.
  • Every time you complete a task and it springs up two more – write them down.
  • Every time you say to your audience you’ll do something – you guessed it, write it down!

Keep the list separate from general tasks so you can pick a couple from your marketing list to add to your list each day, rather than jumbling everything together.

On avoiding scheduling your day the night before: “I planned out today’s schedule last night and I’m going to throw it out the window….This morning, I missed the first 45 minutes of tasks and that’s a real bummer way to start the day, to sit down and realise you’re already behind.” – Katie

Care to share?

As a kindred spirit who avoids building strategies and complicated systems to keep organised and on top of your daily tasks – what tips can you share with Katie?

Share them on social media and Katie will include her favourite ones in her email newsletter next week.

Get in touch on Instagram

Or drop her an email

Related content

We’ve talked about different strategies for planning and organising your content in the past!

Podcast: The ‘Not-a-Strategy’ Approach to Instagram marketing

Video: Planning a monthly content calendar – if you really want a fancy template… Back in 2017 I stuck with this one for a good three months! Since then I’ve learned I’m not a fancy calendar person.

Online events and virtual teams, with Lizzie Brough

Online events and virtual teams, with Lizzie Brough

Can online summits help you reach a wider audience? And how easy is it to keep remote teams motivated and feeling connected? If you’ve considered hosting online events or wondering what the long term impact of remote working will be then you’ll want to download this week’s Whin Big podcast.

This week Katie meets Lizzie Brough from HeySummit. They share marketing tips around building case studies and talk about using online summits as a way to capture leads. They also talk about managing virtual teams and the differences in working with start ups and small businesses.

Sounds great doesn’t it? Let’s jump into the episode.

Today’s episode is sponsored by our Instagram MOT. This 20-point checklist will take you through all the most important things you need to get right in your Instagram marketing. Click below to sign up for the free training and download the checklist.

HeySummit is a virtual summit organisational platform which has grown from 6 in the team to 18 in the last couple of months. They work hard at supporting businesses of all sizes to convert events that are traditionally in person into the online sphere. 

Where the idea came for HeySummit

Like most great things – the company started by accident after HeySummit founder wanted to find a solution for an online event he was organising.

Over several weeks in 2018, he built a brand new platform to fulfil the tasks he needed and within a short time hosted a 100+ person event through it. HeySummit was born!

Lizzie explains that the purpose of the company wasn’t to create online events as a replacement for the real experiences, however the company was in the perfect position to step in and support business owners when Covid-19 stopped face to face events.

“Our main audience continues to be those people we created HeySummit for. Solo entrepreneurs, coaches, business owners who want to amplify their voice and stretch their brand globally – instead of just marketing locally. Summits are an excellent way to do that.” – Lizzie

The future landscape – post Covid

Katie and Lizzie discussed the possibility of online summits and events becoming more mainstream as a result of people having more experience with virtual events throughout 2020.

Lizzie is convinced that for every one person keen to continue with the online experience, there is another keen to get back to in-person events. Both agree that online events are here to stay, and they identify several barriers for not wishing to travel on a national – or global – level to attend conferences.

Carbon footprints, childcare, accessibility and budgets all come into the mix. The real challenge for online event organisers is keeping virtual sessions fresh and vibrant.

“People know online events now. But does that mean they become samey? How do you make them stand out? How do you make it be of impact and not just a list of online webinars? Where’s the engagement? Where’s the fun? That’s the really exciting part for me.” – Lizzie

Working in a tech startup

Katie’s curious about what it’s like to work in a tech start-up. As one of 8 children, Lizzie’s pretty cool about it. She works well in a fast paced, chaotic and challenging environment. She thrives on the opportunities, excitement and risks. For Lizzie, she doesn’t feel like she’s part of the tech world – she feels like she’s making an impact and using technology to do that. 

Integrating someone new into a remote team

The first question HeySummit ask when onboarding a new team mate is ‘how early?

How early can they:

  • Meet the rest of the team – frequent face to face contact is essential
  • Have informal conversations
  • Tap into the business systems
    • HeySummit live on Slack, in case you’re wondering! For team HeySummit, Slack offers way more than the transaction, essential project and team management stuff, it’s also about sharing gifs, talking about TV episodes and other social interaction stuff we take for granted in a physical office.

The importance of customer discovery in marketing

HeySummit has a strong focus on learning from their audience base. In the past they’ve conducted surveys and emailed questionnaires, but quickly recognised App Sumo as a great platform to tap into vast amounts of feedback.

They found that the majority of users were entrepreneurs, solo entrepreneurs or people working in the ‘passion economy’ (people with a side hustle).

What they had in common was that they wanted to amplify their message and generate leads.

Blog content 

The company recognised early on that blog content played a vital part in the way HeySummit could get their message out. With blogs they could respond to topics like:

  • The scenarios for using HeySummit
  • Who might you be if you leverage the tool
  • How can we describe how to do that
  • How to talk to customer pain points

Initial marketing 

After researching thoroughly, HeySummit began marketing through the early adopter audience, in particular:

  • Creating video content
  • Email drip campaigns
  • Blog contents
  • Hosting regular conversations

“Using every opportunity, every contact you have with a customer to glean something – not just about what they want from you – but who they are and how they like to work is very important so business owners can learn a lot from that.” – Katie

What can you do if you just don’t hear from your customers? 

Lizzie looks at customer feedback as something that can be learned in many different ways. If you don’t get feedback from your own customers, look at their shopping behaviours. She gives an example of being an organic soap company – what else would those customers buy? Wholefoods? Ethical goods? Sustainable products? How do they interact with those purchases?

Even if you don’t have the data for your own audience relationship you can still assess their ‘why’- what is their value set? This can help you understand what drives them and apply to your own setting.

Marketing through social media & podcasting

The company focussed on customer service and the early adopter community long before looking to social media.

When they were ready to move into social media they started with Facebook and LinkedIn content, with LinkedIn performing best. The business launched a podcast called Authentic Work and focussed on LinkedIn live as their mainstream for podcast content – which has been an excellent marketing tool.

“Our podcast is called Authentic Work. It’s about having honest conversations with people instead of it being about ‘here’s how I did X to sell my product,’ which doesn’t ring true for us. It doesn’t sit with our values and it gaslights people. Building on the shame of you’re not good enough, you don’t have enough and you are not enough.” – Lizzie

Actionable takeaways 

As you know – Katie loves to get an actionable takeaway from Whin Big podcast guests. This week she grills Lizzie on how HeySummit produce their epic case studies on their website.

Lizzie – and the company at large – love case studies as a format. They call them Customer Spotlights and they showcase individual summits using the HeySummit platform. Questions focus on the event and creates an anatomy using questions over zoom.

“When you have customers, do all you can to enable them to tell their story. That’s far more powerful than telling your brand story. If I look at that I can put myself in someone’s shoes. I can see I have that challenge. HeySummit the brand is just the conduit to doing that.” – Lizzie

Business bookshelf

 Katie and Lizzie talk about their favourite business books and Lizzie is a big fan of books on leadership and self development. 

Dare to Lead – Brene Brown

Pitch Anything – Oren Klaff 

Founders Dilemma – Noam Wasserman

Resources mentioned in this week’s podcast

HeySummit Blog

Case study with Wes Bush (with the North Star metric) – Growth Strategies Made Simple

Case study with Doc Williams – Lead Generation for the Insta Generation

Authentic Work – the HeySummit Podcast

App Sumo

REthink2020 Summit

Follow HeySummit

Find Lizzie on Ttwitter  

Connect with Lizzie on LinkedIn

Visit the HeySummit website 

12 important lessons from my first year of podcasting

12 important lessons from my first year of podcasting

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to run a podcast? Maybe it’s something you’re considering for your own business?

It’s a special episode today as it’s the Whin Big podcast’s first birthday! We celebrate by sharing 12 important lessons Katie has learned in the past year of podcasting.

This episode is sponsored by our Instagram MOT. This 20-point checklist will take you through all the most important things you need to get right in your Instagram marketing. Hit the big yellow button below to sign up for the free training and download the checklist.

Looking back and reminiscing has given Katie the vantage point to see just how far she’s come. For starters, she’s no longer nervous about recording episodes and interviewing guests. 

Listen and learn…

Seeing just how much her confidence has grown has been a real boost for Katie, one that prompted her to look back and find life lessons in other areas connected to the podcast. In the podcast, Katie shares lessons from four key podcasting areas. If you’re thinking of starting a podcast, or curious about how it works behind the scenes, this episode can’t be missed!

As always, there’s so much more detail in the episode so jump in to see which areas and themes you can use in your podcast plans – and you’ll notice there’s a lot of cross over into other aspects of business marketing, and running your own business in general.

“I was kind of terrified. I had no idea what it was going to be like!” – Katie

How to measure if your podcast is successful

How do you measure success? Katie realised she clung to a story of success that wasn’t necessarily true. Is this something you could change about your own success stories?

The short term numbers aren’t everything

It took Katie a while to let go of the idea that the number of listeners to a new podcast (typically around 20 in the first few days) didn’t define the overall success of the episode.

With a year’s experience behind her, she has been able to look back and see the numbers growing over time. A new episode may receive 20 downloads, but the Whin Big Podcast as a whole receives hundreds of downloads every month, which gives a clearer picture.

“Short term numbers are often not encouraging – nor do they really matter.” – Katie

Success doesn’t come from the episode alone

Katie has recognised that the podcast’s growth wasn’t solely down to the podcast episodes. Collateral such as:

  • Show notes & free downloads such as:
    • PDF guides
    • Checklists
    • Cheat sheets
    • Planners

Are just as important as the episodes themselves.

Why? Because it’s the show notes that come up in search results. If your show notes are optimised for search engines, then Google will rank your pages – which means you’ll reach new people – all looking for the service you offer (ideal customer alert!)

Credibility comes from consistency

The value of the podcast as a whole expands as the podcast grows. The more episodes you add, the more consistent you become and the more subscribers you’ll gather.

Podcast fans (and your potential customers) looking for new podcasts to subscribe to are more likely to do so if a podcast is regularly published and maintained. Be consistent, and reliable. And people will follow.

Podcasting is not a quick and easy way to make money

Having invested hours and finances into the podcast, it doesn’t faze Katie that she won’t make back her investment for a few good years. For her, success comes from the enjoyment that comes from creating the Whin Big Podcast. Katie cares more about building an engaged audience, connecting with that audience and earning trust by adding value to their lives through the podcast and resources. (And totally trusts she will recoup her investments in time).

How to get inspired and create great solo podcasts

Solo shows are a brilliant way to speak directly to people and have a personal conversation with a listener. Coming up with ideas, creating a plan and writing a script is not as easy as it sounds (does it sound easy?!) So if this is something you’re considering doing for your own podcast, read on:

The best ideas come when you’re in planning mode

Waiting for inspiration about podcast themes to strike is not a strategy that works for Katie. Great podcast ideas come when she’s primed and ready to explore.

“The more committed I am to sitting down and exercising creativity to come up with ideas, the easier it is to do.” – Katie

Pay attention to the differences between spoken and written word

There’s a huge difference in the way people absorb information given on a podcast versus something they read on a blog or a social media post. Katie quickly realised that planning a podcast in the same way she planned a blog post was a big mistake.

She quickly learned to:

  • Consider where a podcast listener is when they tune in, and what they might be doing at the same time. It’s important to use repetition and creative ways to say the same message throughout, as people may not be giving 100% attention
  • Add sounds or musical breaks in to give the listener a signal that a new topic or subject is coming up
  • Keep it brief -there’s only so much information people can absorb. Make it easy for the listener to take in the message
  • Organise the content so people can remember what you had to teach without having to take lots of notes

How to make the best podcast content

Podcast content is so different to the other types of content. In all other forms of digital marketing there is a way for people to connect with your content and leave feedback, or comment (both negative and positive). How do you carry on when there’s no way to know how you’re doing?

Set your own standards

Without the comments and feedback we’re used to on social media – it’s so hard to know how you’re doing. The only way to get round that is to unhook from the traditional feedback / praise / reward loop and hold your creation to your own standards and judgement.

You need to experience your content in the same way your listener does – and once you have, does it meet your own standards? Would you listen to that episode all the way to the end?

“When you review it – ask yourself – how good is it really?” – Katie

Quality content matters most, but don’t forget the hygiene factor.

The number one thing to focus on is the content. The subjects you choose to talk about with your guests, and on solo episodes is the most important aspect of your podcast. But keep in mind these other important factors:

  • Quality of audio recordings
    • Invest in a good quality mic
  • The length of the episodes
    • It’s tempting to indulge in long conversations with guests
    • It’s your job to find the best bits for your listener
  • Knowing the schedule – when will the next episode come out?

You need a system for how you make podcast content

You need to have a system to make sure everything happens in a predictable way – even if you’re outsourcing. Your audience really wants to know what to expect from you and when they’ll hear a new episode.

Have a system in place that helps you get consistent by getting clear on the tasks involved in creating a podcast. The Whin Big Podcast solo episodes, the system looks like this:

  • Plan the episode
  • Sit down and record it
  • Upload to Google Drive so
    • the episode can be edited
    • show notes are written
  • The show notes are uploaded to the website
  • The audio is uploaded to Spreaker

The system means the Whin Big podcast is always on time and offers the highest quality content every time.

How to interview people for your podcast

Interviewing people was a completely new experience for Katie – she did have experience of carrying out research studies with people at university, but never in the context of an interview or conversation that would later be published.

Most people think they have nothing interesting to say!

Despite being brand new to the activity, she quickly noticed a common theme amongst the guests she invited. They would reply to her request with a comment along the lines of: “are you sure? People won’t want to hear about me, I don’t think I’ll have much to say”.

Katie’s amused by this – she picks her guests very carefully, almost completely around the idea that she knows they’ll have something valuable to contribute to the podcast.

“If you’re listening to this podcast and I invite you to appear as a guest on it, rest assured I have already figured out for myself that you would be an interesting person to talk to!” – Katie

You can predict how the interview will go, so you have to prepare

Even if Katie knows the guests really well, she can’t predict how the conversation will flow. No matter who you’re planning to speak to, prepare and it will go well. Preparing for them is key to make sure they go well.

Katie carries out research on her guests by spending time on their social media accounts and signing up to their mailing list.

She’ll also send out a questionnaire so everyone can feel comfortable with the questions they’ll be asked.

As the host – its your responsibility to curate the conversation

Everything about the podcast – from the length, the subject, the editing – is all your responsibility as the host to make sure it’s tidied up so listeners get the most out of the podcast.

It’s all about listening to what the guest is saying so they can be encouraged to dig deeper into their comment. Paying attention, and feeling prepared means being fully in the moment.

It’s also important to have the control – and the confidence – to redirect the conversation if the guest talks about something less interesting to an audience.

Your feedback

We loves answering your marketing questions so feel free to send one in!

Or if you know of someone who would make a great guest (yes, even yourself) then please email us or send a DM to @thewhinco on Instagram