It’s the end of the school year, and the end of our first year of running small group learning programmes in our local pub to teach and embed the Valuable Content Marketing approach.
It was a bit of an experiment really – we run Pub School alongside our content marketing consultancy business. We formed it as an affordable way of bringing groups of smaller businesses together to learn and take action. And wow, we’ve been delighted with how well it’s gone down!
Three groups of business owners and marketers have been with us through the year and what a fantastic bunch of people they are. Maybe it’s running programmes in our favourite pub that’s a great filter, but we seem to have attracted the most amazing people and businesses, and we’ve loved the experience.
As it’s the end of term we’ve been talking to our graduates to put together an end of year report. The question we asked was ‘what does Pub School do for a business?’ Quite a lot it turns out, and not just on the content side. And it goes much further than great coffee and cake in the best pub in Bristol. So here’s what we learnt.
What do you get from Pub School? 31 things we’ve heard:
1. Time to think strategically about your content, marketing and business development away from the office.
2. Work out who you are and what you stand for. It’s one of the trickiest things to articulate for a business, and Pub School helps you crack it.
“It made us think hard about our ideal customer and target market and how we could attract them.”
3. Learn how to market your business. In a way that works today and feels right too.
4. Stop naval gazing. See your business from the outside in – undertaking client/customer research at Pub School helps you look at your content and your marketing from the client/customer perspective.
5. Food for thought around business strategy and direction. A focus on content both grounds and refines your business thinking. “Not just what we want to say but what this means for our business in terms of how we position ourselves and how we target.”
“Exercises such as the real client research they got us to do – going out to a selection of clients for feedback on their challenges, fears, dreams and on what we deliver – are absolutely invaluable. This really helped us to look at our content from their perspective, outside in. It’s making our content far more engaging.”
6. Written content marketing strategy to refer back to and guide all you do.
7. A proper plan to move forward with your content and marketing – what to say and how to get the word out.
8. Share the challenge. When small business owners unite great stuff happens. It’s an encouraging environment to build your confidence and skills. Pub School is like a support group – you’re not alone with your troublesome marketing challenge.
“The group is fantastic. We learned from each other and that’s massive. It’s amazing how it works. I love that whole feeling of collaboration and group support. I think it’s really strong. When the others in the group talk about what they’re doing I get so much out of that too.”
“You’re in a room with other business owners who are feeling the same pain. You can benefit from their ideas and they can benefit from yours.”
9. Test out your ideas, both business and creative, in a supportive group.
10. Know what to write about. Find your content sweet spot and banish that blank page fear forever!
11. Confidence to take the first step. Blogging, vlogging, writing an email newsletter – whatever you’re frightened of, you’ll ditch the fear at Pub School.
12. Digital thinking away from the screen. We’re talking digital but we keep it real. “I like the little cards you used for the website mapping. It’s getting people away from the screen and thinking about things in reality.”
13. Widen your network. People in the groups are referring each other. We all get to know each other’s businesses really well, so it’s like referring friends. (And it’s WAY more enjoyable than standard business networking.)
14. Stop procrastinating – get doing.
15. Take your strategy off the whiteboard and out into the real world. You can spend forever and a day honing your business strategy, but Pub School gets you to put it into action through the content you share with the world.
16. Learn and practice new skills. You’ll be writing blogs, better headlines, switched on social media updates before you finish the course, with our support and feedback along the way.
17. Practical time out of your business. Running a business is tough, you need time out to think. The Pub School process helps you to consider who are you and what you want from your business.
18. Admit your marketing fears. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never understood Twitter, and you’re scared you’re getting left behind. It will all become clear at Pub School. The perfect place to overcome your angst.
19. Inspiration. So many great ideas fly around the Pub School table – you’re bound to catch a few that will help you communicate what you do with real power.
20. Make that elusive new website a reality. How long have you been talking about it? At Pub School you’ll map out your new website, so it can be built to support your business.
21. Reconnect with your business. Sometimes the day to day running of a business wears you down. You get so caught up in the grind you forget why you started it in the first place. We’ve loved watching people revitalised by the process.
22. Find the heart and soul in what you do. And be able to articulate it, in a way that differentiates your business.
“Pub School has helped us to position ourselves differently in a crowded industry where there is little differentiation.”
23. Write your manifesto. Draw out the beliefs behind your business. Draw up a poster for your wall.
24. Understand your customers better. Invaluable for creating great content, so useful for the rest of your business.
25. Unleash your creativity. The best content is created when you’re enjoying yourself, and you’ll enjoy yourself in The Lion.
26. Do some powerful business development thinking. Everyone who has been through Pub School has refined their offer and sharpened their message and business development approach in some way. Pub School can change the way you do business
27. Become more self-sufficient Skill yourself and your team right up. “It’s not spoon-fed. Sonja and Sharon give structure but we generate the work. You are learning how to do it yourself and becoming a lot more self-sufficient.”
28. Get into good habits. Pub School is all about sustainable action. You’ll learn an achievable process that you can fit it into your working pattern.
29. Motivation You’ll have the drive to keep it going. No more tumbleweed on your ghost town blogs – you’ll be seeing results, and we’ll be cheering you on.
30. Find the people who’ll help you with the next step. Our networks can help you build, design, write your website, make your videos, and publish your book.
31. Be held to account. We’ll make sure you do what you say you’ll do (in the nicest possible way, of course.)
We’re starting to fill the spaces for our next group, kicking off in May – get in touch if you’d like more details. If you’re interested in finding out more about in-house Valuable Content School programmes for bigger companies, we’d love to talk to you too.
Whether or not you do it with us, the power of learning in a small, engaged group somewhere lovely away from day-to-day work can’t be over-estimated. It’s the best way we’ve found to kick start a sustainable and profitable approach to marketing with content.
School’s out – but get ready for next term!
Have a great summer.
Sonja and Sharon
(Your Pub School landladies)