The interview

Tamsin Fox-Davies

Small Business Evangelist, Constant Contact

Q. Who are you and what do you do?

A. I’m Constant Contact UKs Small Business Evangelist, and I spend my team spreading our small business marketing knowledge by writing articles, speaking at large industry events, and working with our network of business partners around the UK.

Q. What is it about the Pitch that made you want to get involved with the event?

A. Firstly, I think The Pitch is very exciting! It’s brilliant to watch people with such diverse fledgling businesses as they develop and to learn more about them. Secondly, we want to support the entrepreneurs who are doing this stuff, and The Pitch brings together so many of them in one place.

Q. What expertise can you offer to entrants of The Pitch?

A. We like to share as much knowledge and expertise as possible, and my knowledge is about digital marketing the small business way. This means, how you can use online tools and techniques, like email marketing and social media, to get the word out and bring new customers to your door – without having to be a tech-genius or breaking the bank.

Q. If you had to give three tips on making a successful pitch, what would you choose?

A. My tips on making a successful pitch are:

  1. Be very clear on your proposition. I need to understand exactly what you do (and what problem it solves) in the first 10 seconds.
  2. Know your numbers. I’m a Dragons’ Den addict, and time and time again, we see the dragons dismiss a potentially good business because the entrepreneur doesn’t know their costs or profit margins.
  3. Have personality. Investors buy into you as much as they do your business idea, so don’t act like a cardboard cut-out on stage.

Q. How important is it for your company to engage with SMEs and new businesses?

A. It’s essential for us to engage with SMEs and new businesses. Constant Contact was set up specifically to serve small businesses, and that’s what we continue to do. We LOVE our small business customers, and they tell us that they love us back too.

Q. It’s clear that Pitch attendees and those pitching themselves can learn a lot from the event, but what about larger companies like yours – what do you hope to gain from being part of The Pitch?

A. If big companies hide away in their offices, they lose touch with the wider small business world. That is something we never want to do, and is one of the reasons that we get involved with events like The Pitch. On a personal level, I love to meet new entrepreneurs and find out about what they’re doing with their businesses today. I learn as much from them as they do from me and it’s a real privilege.

Q. You work specifically with small businesses – what are the differences in marketing for small and large businesses – and why did you choose to focus on small ones?

A. Small business is really where Constant Contact has its roots, and one of the reasons that we continue to concentrate on small businesses is that they need tools and support that is right for them – and we have them readily available! The principles of marketing are common across businesses of all sizes, but their applications vary according to business size, business age and budget.

The key for small business marketing is to try lots of small things and pick up what works whilst discarding what doesn’t. Quick and intuitive testing is the way forward. Small businesses should also focus on the lowest cost options for marketing (most of which are online), and in particular the ones that are shown to bring good results (like email marketing).

Q. Is it harder to market a new business, or easier because of the range of options available to new businesses?

A. The problem with marketing a new business, is that you don’t already have any raving fans who can help you spread the word (and we all know that personal recommendations are the holy grail of marketing). However, there are a lot of options that you can use right away to get you started and to find that first raving fan.

In fact, it’s even possible to begin marketing before you have a business by building up interest amongst your target audience. 

Q. At what stage would you recommend a new business starts to consider marketing and what are the first steps?

A. I can’t separate this answer out from the previous one. As I mentioned above, marketing can (and should) begin before your business launches. These days, all businesses need a tribe of supporters to validate them and help to get the message out, and it helps to build them up way before you get to your launch date.

One way to start with this is to set up social media accounts for your new business and share information around the topic that your new business will be based on. Another way, is the run a pre-launch campaign and begin collecting email addresses of interested people so that you can let them know as soon as you’ve launched.

More advice from Constant Contact, supporter of The Pitch

  • How to integrate digital marketing into your offline marketing efforts
  • How to create an engagement marketing plan [VIDEO]