Model With a LRM Goods Handbag With a City Backdrop

Having Holly Willoughby being photographed wearing one of their bags has seen Guildford bag and accessory firm LRM Goods realise a 135% increase in sales.

The brainwave to use influencers came from the Guildford Business Growth service, which was introduced by Guildford Borough Council, to help local businesses grow.

Guildford Business Growth offers free advice to all businesses in the borough on finance, business planning, leadership, talent, innovation and exporting, as well as face to face monthly clinics and regular business workshops. It is delivered by the Enterprise M3 Growth Hub and UMi, and sponsored by law firm Stevens & Bolton LLP.

Director of LRM Goods, Rachel McCoubrie, said: "In 2019 we received a £3,000 business development grant to engage a PR company to help grow our influencer activity. Over three months we gifted influencers in return for tags and mentions on their social media platforms, to boost brand exposure. We soon gained followers who converted to customers and generated sales.

“A very special moment was when Holly Willoughby was photographed wearing one of our bags as a result of this outreach. Safe to say, our business growth was largely down to this and our media attention rocketed as a result."

Rachel added: "We are continuing to pay for PR support, and hoping to hit £1m turnover in 2020, in our fourth year of trading. In the short term we are going to continue doing what we know works, but a huge lesson is to always try new marketing activity as you never know what might happen."

Leader of Guildford Council and Lead Member for Economic Development, Cllr Caroline Reeves said: "Guildford's economy is one of the most vibrant outside London, featuring regularly in the top five in various economic league tables, particularly around innovation, entrepreneurship, access to investment and the number of start-up businesses.

"In recent years Guildford's economy has grown from one with a relatively high public sector and manufacturing element to one with a much higher proportion of high growth sectors such as gaming, cyber security, life sciences and telecoms. Despite these positive results, a proportion of start-up businesses can fail, so we introduced the Guildford Business Growth programme to provide the advice these businesses need to help them move successfully to the next stage of growth."

Roya Croudace, partner at UMi, which delivers Guildford Business Growth on behalf of the Council, said: "UMi specialises in helping businesses succeed beyond their expectations through high impact business improvement initiatives, intelligent investment solutions and brilliant and original events.

“We are already working closely in Guildford providing the EM3 Growth Hub service to support scale up companies, and Guildford Business Growth allows us to extend that support across all businesses and sectors."

Nick Atkins, Head of Entrepreneurs at Stevens & Bolton LLP, sponsors of Guildford Business Growth, said: "We are acutely aware of the challenges faced by businesses, both locally and nationally, in scaling-up and we are delighted to be part of such a fantastic initiative to bridge that gap.”

 

Susie Haywood
Article by Susie Haywood
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