Small business marketing programmes – in the best pub in Bristol

January’s Pub School is now full. Apply for next programme April 2018

For small businesses who love what they do, but don’t love marketing. Learn how to build your business in a way that really works and feels good too.

Guided group learning at Pub School

You know that content matters, but how do you get yours right? If you’re struggling with what to say and how you say it through your marketing you’re not alone. Many business owners find it hard to make progress or struggle to carve out the time. We want to help. We hold small group learning programmes in the best pub in Bristol – yes, Pub School!

Learn in a group – outside perspectives, accountability, encouragement. Share the challenge.

Learn and take action on your content

Working with a handpicked group of like-minded business owners and marketers, we’ll guide you to content success through a series of face-to-face workshops, practical exercises and mentoring, over three months.

This is hands on, high impact advice and support to finesse your content and marketing strategy, build your confidence and set you up for success.

If not knowing what to write has been holding you back, or you’re having trouble getting started with content marketing, then Pub School is a practical, energetic group programme and a great catalyst to make it happen. 

Pub School Group 5

Quick overview

  • 12 week programme, with 2 x half day workshops each month + guided assignments + support inbetween
  • 3 x Pub School groups a year, running January – March, May – July, September – November
  • £550 to £900 a month per company (depending on size of business)
  • Only 5 companies per group
  • In the Lion, Cliftonwood, Bristol – delicious cakes and coffee provided!

Apply to join the Pub School programme

January’s programme is full. Apply to join April’s group. Email Sonja to apply or enquire

Ask Sonja

“We’ve got our content strategy thinking straight but it has also changed how we describe and talk about ourselves with clients and potential clients, which is a great step in itself.”

Ollie Francis

Founder, Deckchair UX

More Pub School programme details

Sonja and Sharon, authors of the award-winning Valuable Content Marketing book, will guide you to find your content sweet spot, turning that knowledge into an actionable plan for your future marketing.

By the end of this three month programme you’ll be clear what to talk about and how to get the very best from content, your website, from social media and email marketing. You’ll be motivated to get going at last and confident you’re getting it right – a fast track path to content marketing success.

What’s the investment?

Freelancers / solo entrepreneurs: £1650 (paid in 3 monthly instalments of £550) + VAT

Micro business (2 to 10 staff): £2250 (paid in 3 monthly instalments of £750) + VAT *

SME (over 10 staff): £2700 (paid in 3 monthly instalments of £900) + VAT *

* Micro-business and SME owners can bring one other person to each session e.g. business partner or marketing lead. It’s a good way to share the knowledge and engage the wider team.

All Pub Schoolers get a content strategy workbook, templates and a community of peers to support you and cheer you on through the journey.

NB: We run one group programme per term, starting in January, April and September.

What you’ll cover at Pub School:

  1. Why content marketing is important to your business
  2. Understand all the elements of successful content marketing and how this works with other forms of marketing
  3. How to set measurable goals so you can measure the impact
  4. Direct client research so you know exactly who you’re writing for and what content they’ll value
  5. Your business story and message, and how to tell it
  6. What to say on your website, and how to structure your content
  7. Uncover your content sweet spot so you are clear what valuable content is for you
  8. Document your content strategy and create a content channel plan and calendar
  9. Decide how to structure the right content team for your business
  10. Action plan for your content, your website, for social media and email marketing

By the end you will be able to:

  • Explain why content marketing is an important strategic approach to your team
  • Write down your content sweet spot and finish this sentence: “Our content will be the go-to place for ……”
  • Stick your one page content strategy summary and a poster of your ideal customer persona on your office wall to keep you and your team on track
  • Kick off your long awaited website transformation project
  • Create a content calendar to help you plan your activity
  • Start writing blogs, guides and other content
  • Know if you’re getting it right

The benefits for your business

By the end of the programme you’ll have a clear picture of what you want to achieve with your content and marketing. Documenting your content strategy means you will always have something to talk about in your content. You’ll be very clear on your audience and the best way to engage them, with a plan for the blogs, videos and guides that you need over the coming months, and a decision on the team you’ll need to create them. You’ll know what you’re doing on Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram so social media becomes a purposeful and manageable activity.

Your content strategy will become an essential reference point – when planning your content so you’ll know which ideas to say ‘yes’ to and importantly, which to decline.

>> Read: 31 things that Pub School will do for your business

Apply to join Pub School

January’s group is now full. Apply to join the next group starting April 2018

Email Sonja to apply or enquire

Ask Sonja

“Pub School gives you guidance in terms of what you should be doing with your content. You guys have given us a big chunk of confidence to think, yeah, we can do it. I like the fun way it’s done. It’s relaxed but professional at the same time. It just works. You give businesses a voice and the confidence to talk about what it is they do.

We’ve seen results already – this has inspired us into action!”

Jon Gaunt

MD and founder, FD Works

“We’d been wanting to feel excited about writing and sharing our knowledge for a very, very long time. We knew the benefits but we couldn’t unearth what it was we should talk about that a) made us passionate and b) would resonate with what we do and who our customers are. Now we feel excited and empowered to share our knowledge, and best of all, we are actually doing it and publishing it!”

Becky Taylor

Director, Deckchair

“It’s not spoon-fed. Sonja and Sharon give structure but we generate the work. Instead of paying someone else to do it for you, you are learning how to do it yourself and you’re becoming a lot more self sufficient.”

Lindsey Newman

Founder, Purplehouse HR

Is the Pub School content programme for me?

✓ Yes, if you’re the kind of person who learns best by doing – you prefer practical, hands on learning where you have a chance to talk through challenges, experiment, and put ideas into practice.

✓ Yes, if you enjoy working with the support of a small collaborative group, with like-minded people running a variety of service businesses.

✓ Yes, if you’re determined to make a change in your business and up for a challenge! This course will be fun, but there is hard work and some deep thinking involved.

✓ Yes, if you can travel to Bristol for the workshops. This course is based in Bristol in the relaxed hospitality of The Lion, Cliftonwood.

[NB: We want to make a difference. We offer one free place in each group to a small independent charity. Contact us for details.]

Curious to see if Pub School is right for you?

Have a chat with Sonja

“Before Pub School we were disillusioned about our ability to create meaningful content and unclear about who our audience really were. Sonja and Sharon changed that, they were a revelation. The course was fun and inspiring, they challenged us to think differently about how we write and who for. The nurturing learning environment they create is key, which put us at ease and got us taking action. The group mechanics they maintained meant we got great feedback; we felt we had a safe space to share our ideas. Sonja and Sharon’s continued support has already helped us get some great results from our marketing activity plus the clarity and confidence to keep at it.”

Ollie Frances

Founder, Deckchair

“I wholeheartedly recommend Sonja and Sharon of ‘Pub School’, which I attended in early 2017. The training that I received boosted and deepened my understanding of all aspects of Marketing – from content marketing, to social media, to all aspects of digital and SEO. Sonja and Sharon possess an infectious enthusiasm that meant every session myself and others on the course were really excited to come back and learn more and more each time. I know that, both for myself and the other businesses and organisations represented, that Pub School and Sonja and Sharon’s work has been transformational across the board and given us all a confidence to really make change happen to drive our organisations’ marketing forward. Sonja and Sharon have a quietly confident and relaxed teaching style and they possess in abundance the ability to get people really enthused to make a difference. Pub School inspired us all to take action and change our whole approach for the better. We all left Pub School with concrete and tangible action plans to drive that change forward in a step-by-step way. I have a clear path mapped out to drive my marketing forward and Pub School provided me with both the motivation and inspiration to aim high and keep working at it for the best possible results for Kina Events. It’s safe to say I’m a Pub School geek (and convert) now!”

Alex Palmer

Founder, Kina Events

“Thanks goodness I now know the value of valuable content. It’s helping me to look at our business in a very different way.”

Mel Irwin

Operations Director, Ruth Miskin Training

“Before I enrolled on the VC Pub School I was straining at the leash. I had lots of ideas and information which I know some people find very valuable, but I did not know how to communicate this and how to find the people who’d be interested. As a (mental health) professional I had years of experience of writing reports, but couldn’t find my voice to write for my potential audience. I was interested in learning more about how to write valuable content, and Pub School sounded like the place I could do this. In fact, Pub School was much, much more than this. Sonja and Sharon structured the sessions around the steps needed to go from little more than an idea to a functioning small business. The work was challenging but my hand was held throughout, and although looking at my business with such clarity led to a real crisis of confidence at one point, what grew out of that was a vision and a plan which I’m using to build the business with a new name and a much stronger sense of identity. My only regret is that I didn’t discover VC earlier as it would have saved me thousands of pounds (literally) of wasted advertising/ marketing, and 3 years’ worth of going round in circles trying to work out how to get my business established.”

Dr Helen McCarthy

Founder, The Appetite Doctor

“If you don’t really know where to start with your content – what you need to say, what your message is, what your goals are, the clarity of purpose – that’s when you need to talk to Sonja and Sharon.”

Rebecca Taylor

Director, Deckchair UX

“It was time to take stock and refocus my strategy as a whole. Pub School was brilliant for me to take a step back from the day to day and have to articulate what I did and what my business goals were to people who didn’t know me or have any knowledge of my work. Working out my ideal client was difficult but a really useful exercise in understanding who I am writing/working for. I now have loads more understanding of the world of websites & social media, I have been strong armed (!) into publishing blogs, and have a firm plan and a team to help me finally sort out my website. I just kind of get it more now, and I’m taking action. It was a great environment to work in – very supportive but balanced with challenging & not allowing me to wriggle out of facing up to the challenges!”


Lucy MacLennan

Food Technologist, The Food Technical Expert

Clarity and focus to build plans the work for your business.
“My time working in Pub School with Valuable Content has been amazing! Both Sonja and Sharon have a supportive hands-on approach which both encourages and build confidence yet challenges and focuses the mind on the future and next steps. The frameworks and tools used by VC have enabled me to focus and clarify my thinking to create plans that work for me my business and my clients. The outcomes for me are that I have refreshed and created a new website which is more relevant to my target. I have the confidence to share my thoughts in a structured and engaging way through my blogs and social media posts. As an alumni the support through pub club means I have support embedding my knowledge and the security of knowing regular checkin will keep me on track and focused on my objectives. I can’t recommend VC highly enough….in fact I do a number of my clients have become VC Pub Schoolers and their businesses are using content to engage with their target audiences and attract opportunities.”
Sara Cottrell

Business Coach, Sara

“After several years of running my own company, I finally faced the fact that I was doing a rubbish job at marketing myself. So I went looking at a variety of training providers. What I was looking for was something that was challenging and fun, with people who were experts in creating content and had actually “walked the walk” and not just trot out the “thou must blog weekly” message. I chose Pub School with Sonja and Sharon from Valuable Content because they clearly know what they are talking about. I’d been to a ‘taster session’ and loved their style of training – clear, focussed, with great structure and a lot of fun thrown in for good measure. They take their subject seriously, and themselves lightly, they listen well and adopt and adapt their delivery to suit the differing personalities in the room. Having done Pub School I’ve become very clear on what my business is about, and I know what to do in terms of structuring my content and my website, and more importantly, why. As a result, the way that I’m doing business has completely changed. I’m creating much better content which I know meets my target customers needs, and taking action on a regular basis.”
Jonathan Rees

Business Coach and Trainer, Making Teams Work

“We came to Pub School with the intention of improving our content creation and planning to make sure that we make the most of our new website platform. As a charity, it is important for us to really know what our clients desire from our website and what they need from us personally. With limited time and resource it is really important for us to have an efficient (but also creative) plan to move forward with.
Pub School has given us this – and then some! I have come away from this course with a sense of excitement and ambition for what we can achieve within a small team. Stuck at the ‘roundabout of despair’ no more; we are well on our way up ‘grafter’s gorge’ and, whilst there is still work to be done, we have a clear vision about where our marketing is headed. We have started to form a new – more engaging – voice and become more fluid with our ideas. This course has given us the permission to be creative and really take the time to think about our ideas before having to execute them. The group dynamic was fantastic and we benefitted from the advice and feedback of everyone on the team. Having a group of people, all in similar positions to yourself, with the motivation to improve content for customers and clients was very encouraging. Sonja and Sharon were wonderful coaches through the process and their Valuable Content Workbook made everything so much clearer. We now have key goals to move forward with and a drive to make our marketing the best it has ever been. If you have lost control of your content, or just feel that you need a little boost in the right direction, I would thoroughly recommend Sonja and Sharon’s Pub School course.”

Hannah Sweetnam

Brand and Web Marketing Officer, Penny Brohn UK

“When you’re running a business it’s easy to get stuck naval gazing. Pub School helped us to approach our content from the outside-in. It’s a very powerful experience. Focusing on your content strategy will help you take the right marketing action, with confidence. It’s working for SRA Books.”

Read Sue’s Pub School story

Sue Richardson

Founder, SRA Books

“Pub School was been so worthwhile. We gained more out of six sessions with Sonja and Sharon than we have in a year of business coaching in the past. It’s given us a structure for our content, and also a language and a personality to use. We feel much more confident about what we want to say about our business. It’s given us real food for thought around strategy – not just what we want to say, but what that means for our business in terms of how we position ourselves and how we target. And it’s taken the fear away. The sessions really helped me get over that hurdle of starting to write. I’m happy to get on with it now.”

Lindsey Newman

Founder, Purple House HR