HAVE you ever been struck with a sense of panic when you realise you have left your mobile phone behind?!  You are not alone. People are connecting on digital devices now more than ever, with social media platforms being a huge part of people’s lives.  And the role of social media in business is just growing and growing.

Western Downs business owners are rapidly adopting various social media platforms, such as Instagram, Facebook and TikTok. However, using these channels effectively to increase business takes skill and a strategic approach. 

An increasing number of businesses have taken up the free digital media coaching services provided by Business Navigator Western Downs. To be able to assist more businesses, the program has recruited another team member.  Tim Entwistle joins business coaches Paulene Rorich and Suzanne Wood, and marketing advisor Ailsa Cass to create a team of four.

The Western Downs Business Navigator program is an initiative of Shell QGC’s business which, since 2018, has helped the region’s entrepreneurs perform more effectively in all areas of small business.

The team provides free, tailored coaching and support to local businesses with expertise across strategic planning, product development, pricing strategy, business diversification, scalability and scaling for growth, digital enabling, and both traditional and digital marketing. 

Together, Tim and Ailsa possess a wealth of marketing knowledge. IMAGE: Supplied

“The past 18 months has seen a surge in demand for support across all areas of a business but particularly in digital marketing and social media,” said Lead Business Coach, Paulene Rorich.

“This is a good indicator that businesses in the Western Downs are keen to grow and are seeking support to learn new ways of working and connecting with their customers.”

“We are already very fortunate to have our fantastic marketing specialist, Ailsa; the addition of Tim will add a different and ‘digital native’ perspective, so we are able to offer even more value to our clients”.  

After years of personal experience in running a small business and keeping up-to-date with digital marketing trends, Tim is very keen to share his learnings with other small business owners.

“I went into marketing because I’m passionate about helping small businesses achieve their goals,” Tim said.

“The trouble is, many small businesses struggle with the costs of outsourcing their marketing and that’s why I think having a free service that helps business owners develop their own business knowledge and skills is such a great concept”. 

“I’m a small business owner with a young family myself, and I know the time and dollar pressures that small business owners face,” Tim says, “so I get a huge buzz from helping people get the maximum possible outcome from the time and money they put in to marketing their business.”

As well as being a social media specialist, Tim is an accomplished photographer and videographer – skills which he uses to help business owners create effective social media content to engage new customers.

“Feeling comfortable in front of a camera is a challenge for many people,” says marketing advisor Ailsa Cass, “but great images, engaging reels and authentic stories on social media have such a powerful impact – they really help you connect with customers”.

Ailsa is a highly qualified marketing professional with over 20 years’ experience helping businesses communicate their value to customers through traditional and digital marketing. 

“Many people have a love-hate relationship with social media,” Ailsa says, “they see the need for it but, even if they know how to make a post, they often don’t know what to post about.  A lot of the work we do is helping people work these things out.”

Recognising that people come to social media with different levels of knowledge and expertise, Business Navigator Western Downs is partnering with Western Downs Regional Council to deliver workshops aimed at building foundational skills in social media.  Social Media Basics for Beginners workshops are rolling out across the region in late October and early November.  Find more information at https://www.navigatorwesterndowns.com.au/smworkshop.

Among Business Navigator’s recent success stories is Jandowae-based skincare and beauty shop Beauty on the Land, whose founder Jenn Henning worked with Business Navigator to design and create a Shopify eCommerce website for her business.

“I’ve worked with the Business Navigator team for about 12 months and they did huge amounts for me. Digital and social media are definitely not my strong points, but they were massively helpful,” Jenn said. 

“The whole design and setup of our Shopify site was done with the support of Business Navigator and things have been going really well since then. There’s definitely been a shift in the business – the website has been a huge help in reaching my clients and making it easier for them.”

Jenn Henning, founder of Jandowae-based online skincare and beauty shop Beauty on the Land. IMAGE: Amelia Wood Photography
Jenn Henning developed her Beauty on the Land Shopify site with the help of Business Navigator. https://www.beautyontheland.com.au/

Another business to benefit from marketing support is KC Ridge Farm, a producer of free-range, pastured eggs, based in Chinchilla.  

“Kevin and Cara have such a great product: sustainably raised, farm fresh, great tasting eggs.  Just what customers are looking for!” said Ailsa, ‘they just needed a hand putting their product out there and getting the recognition it deserves.”

Ailsa worked with Kevin and Cara Jackson, owners of KC Ridge Farm, to refine their brand, develop their social media strategy and create content that told their brand story authentically and consistently.  KC Ridge has since launched an online egg subscription service and now delivers farm-fresh eggs from Roma through to Toowoomba.

Kevin and Kara Jackson, founders of KC Ridge. IMAGE: Anne Sterling Photography

KC Ridge Farm https://kcridgefarm.com.au communicates with customers via Instagram and Facebook

“We had a few challenges up front,” said Kevin, “We had to educate customers about what pastured eggs were, especially compared to ‘free-range’ and organic eggs, and about the sustainable practices we use on our farm, all of which affect our price-point.”

“With help from Ailsa, I think we’ve done a pretty good job of building our brand and connecting with customers though our social media platforms.  Our egg subscription service has taken off because people are recognising our brand and seeing the real value of our product.”

Business Navigator Western Downs is supported by Shell’s QGC business and delivered by Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise. The social investment program, supported by Shell’s joint venture partners Tokyo Gas and CNOOC, contributes to a strong and diverse economy within the Western Downs.

The program was developed in consultation with Western Downs’ business communities, who indicated that a strong, diversified economy that was important to them; Business Navigators was designed to support and enable local small business to grow sustainably.

Business Navigator is now accepting new program participants for 2023. For more information, visit https://www.navigatorwesterndowns.com.au/

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