23 Aug, 2012
Business In The Spotlight – JC Social Media
Jodie Cole Started her business: JC Social Media in August 2011. After a successful first year, Jodie is now an Ambassador for Start-Up Loans along with 11 other young entrepreneurs. Here is Jodie’s Start-Up journey.
Please Tell Us About Your Background
After studying Business at Sheffield University I knew I wanted to start my own business but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was then accepted into a graduate scheme with the National Skills Academy for Social Care (NSA) and placed in the head office of a large care home provider in Sheffield.
Here I worked on various projects, my favourite of which was exploring how social media could be used within the company. I wanted to find a way in which we could use social media to attract volunteers, generate widespread knowledge of the company, and create strategic partnerships with charities, commissioning bodies and local businesses.
The business has a wide range of stakeholders and care must be taken to protect client confidentiality, so it was a complex model.
From seeing how social media could be used effectively in the charity sector I started to understand how the model I had implemented could be replicated for commercial gains on other companies.
I had begun working part time as a waitress as well as full time at this company, and realised that the amount I could save by continuing to work two jobs would provide me with the finances I would need to start my own business once my year with the NSA came to an end.
I found some courses that were specifically set up to help people utilise social media for businesses, so I enrolled on these and developed my knowledge further. Looking back on it now, the courses I went on were quite basic, but they gave me the confidence to be able to sell my social media management services.
The next step was getting a website and getting some clients!
How Was Your First Year In Business?
My initial costs were £800, which I had worked to save up for. I spent £300 on my website (www.jcsocialmedia.com); the remaining £500 was for a social media training course that I went on to learn more about applying social media for commercial gains. My first clients came through referrals and networking so I had barely any marketing costs!
I needed to network, network and network some more. My plans at the beginning were to do as much networking as possible to get some clients. My first client was a referral from another person on my graduate scheme. I still take every opportunity I can to meet potential clients and collaborators.
What Makes Your Business Unique?
My business is unique for three reasons.
1. We specialise in social media.
We do social media. We create strategies, we create content, we analyse results and findings rigorously, and we keep abreast of developments in the industry so that we can pass new knowledge and insights onto our clients.
Our clients are with us because they want to be able to talk to their target market in their language. They want to be able to build relationships with current and potential customers, become known as experts in their industry and drive future sales.
They have come to understand how social media works as a tool with which to facilitate this, so they have trusted us with their brand and their voice.
2. We stick to what we know
Our strength is in creating comprehensive strategies and compelling content that makes companies stand out across the social media platforms.
We work with some great companies in industries that complement social media very well. If a client comes to us wanting to create their whole marketing presence, we have close connections with search-engine optimisation, public relations, website development, design and marketing, event planning and printing companies.
We don’t claim to be experts in any of these areas but we know people who are.
3. We are excellent at matching the exact tone and voice of a company.
If your company were a person, what would it look like? What would it sound like? How would it address people, what would it know about, and what would it think?
These are all questions that we think carefully about before anything goes live. When we start tweeting, blogging and talking to clients’ customers and potential customers we make sure that we carry their brand through all content, giving a consistent voice to the company.
We appreciate that this is something company owners are often protective of, but we are confident that once they see our content they will be happy for us to look after it.
What Has Been Your Proudest Moment In Business So Far?
My proudest moment in business so far was JC Social Media reaching the 1-year mark. I had just hired my first two employees and moved into offices in Birmingham City Centre, and we held a big networking party to celebrate the occasion, which was very well attended.
It was great to gather up all the clients, family, friends and colleagues who had supported me throughout the year and thank them for their help.
And The Hardest Moment?
The hardest moment was my very first networking event, when I had to stand up and tell a room full of people about my business – which hadn’t actually started! I don’t usually get nervous when public speaking but my heart was definitely beating a little faster on this occasion.
Since then I have much more knowledge of my business, industry, and what I can do for clients; so talking to a room of people is easier. Someone once told me a line that has stuck with me: “if you never lie, you never have to remember anything”.
Have You Adapted Your Business Model To Cope With The Economic Downturn?
Since JC Social Media started in August 2011, the only economy we have operated in has been a recession! Downturn or no downturn, we operate using transparent pricing structures, and always take time to demonstrate the ROI of our work for the client.
When businesses are cutting costs, marketing budgets are often the first to be slashed, so with this in mind we explain how we can operate in the most cost-effective way.
What Advice Would You Give To A Budding Entrepreneur?
The advice I would give to a budding entrepreneur would be to surround yourself with people who motivate, inspire and excite you. Share your business ideas with people who will say “Yes that sounds great, how about you try this too…” rather than people who say “ooh I’m not sure that will work… x number of people have tried that and failed, etc.”
Tell everyone what you’re doing. The people you know will know people who will want to buy what you’re selling. Then, make an effort with everyone you meet and find out how you can help them do well too.
Above all, expect it to be hard work, but expect it to be worth it.