Debbie Rennie and Diana Muzzall

Instinct launches free marketing workshops

We’re sharing the marketing love this spring with a series of free monthly workshops designed to give small businesses some of the tools to raise their profile and reach new audiences.

“As the number of small businesses and start-ups continues to grow in Scotland, so too does the demand for support with business marketing,” says Instinct’s Managing Director, Debbie Rennie. “But marketing is often poorly understood, seen as excessively time-consuming or even an unnecessary expense – and de-prioritised as a result. With our monthly, lunchtime workshops we aim to de-bunk these ideas, and give business owners some of the skills to increase their visibility, while highlighting the results that can be achieved with a little investment.

“Topics will range from video marketing and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) to copywriting and marketing planning, and will be delivered in association with guest speakers from the industry. We’re delighted to be kicking off the workshops with a session on video marketing, hosted by Diana Muzzall, owner of Video Marketing Confidence.”

Diana has been helping small businesses capture attention with engaging video content for over two decades, with a focus on helping clients become more confident on camera. “I’m biased of course, but video marketing really is your best marketing tool – when it’s done well,” she explains. “In this workshop I’ll help people who don’t think they have the time, budget or know-how to recognise and ultimately harness the power of video marketing for the benefit of their business.”

Open to all, the monthly lunchtime workshops will be held in the Banchory Business Centre’s main meeting room at 12pm on Thursday 16th March, Wednesday 19th April and Wednesday 17th May.

A light lunch will be included and sessions are available on a first come first served basis only, so early booking is advised: Register here or contact our team for more information.

“Whether you’re a brand new start-up or have been running your own business for years, there will be something for everyone in these sessions,” continues Debbie. “You’ll pick up new knowledge and skills – and of course the opportunity to network with fellow entrepreneurs.”

What will AI mean for marketing? The future is…better!

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been making headlines in the world of marketing recently, and it’s easy to see why. With the ability to analyse and understand large amounts of data quickly and accurately, AI could revolutionise the way businesses reach and engage with their customers.

One of the key ways it’s being used in marketing is through the creation of chatbots. These are automated programmes that can communicate with customers in real-time, providing assistance and answering questions. They’re particularly useful for handling customer inquiries and support requests, as they can work 24/7 and handle multiple conversations at once. Chatbots can be programmed to understand and respond to natural language, making them even more user-friendly.

AI is also being used to optimise digital marketing campaigns. By analysing data on customer demographics, behaviour and preferences, AI can help to target ads to the right audience and improve their effectiveness. This leads to a better return on investment (ROI) for businesses, as they’re better placed to reach the right people with the right message. With still more data, AI can provide personalised recommendations that are likely to be interesting to individual customers. This is particularly useful for e-commerce businesses, where it can drive up sales and boost customer loyalty.

AI is used in a variety of other marketing applications, such as email marketing, social media marketing and content creation. It can analyse customer data to create targeted mass email campaigns or generate social media posts that are more likely to be popular with specific audiences.

AI has the potential to greatly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our marketing efforts. By quickly and accurately analysing and interpreting data and automating certain tasks, businesses can save time and resources, and better engage with their customers. There are doubtless some challenges to overcome, such as concerns around privacy and the potential for job loss – but according to a report published by Dell Technologies and authored by the Institute For The Future (IFTF) and 20 technology, academic and business experts from across the globe, 85% of the jobs that exist in 2030 haven’t even been invented yet! Either way, the use of AI in marketing is here to stay – and we should welcome it for its potential to improve customer relations, speed up and automate decisions, and provide a clearer picture of ROIs.

Is AI a positive marketing tool or a potential problem – what do you think? Share your thoughts with us below!

Financial crash paved way for north-east marketing and PR firm

Managing Director, Debbie Rennie, in support of The Federation of Small Businesses, responds to small business key questions with a focus on the company’s journey and the costs impacting supply chain and customers.

How and why did you start in business?

Following the financial crash of 2008 I was made redundant from my marketing role at a recruitment agency.

I was newly married, had no children and so thought “what the heck, let’s try going this alone”.

In July 2009 I became a freelance marketing and communications specialist. By 2015 it made sense to merge my business with my dad’s, so I became part of Innes Associates, which we then rebranded as Instinct Marketing + PR in 2021.

How did you get to where you are today?

Through a lot of hard work, determination, grit, belief and courage. I read Atomic Habits by James Clear, who shares his revolutionary system to get 1% better every day.

He highlights how tiny changes create “remarkable results” and this has definitely helped me.

Family, particularly my husband, and friends have been hugely supportive.

I’ve also received incredible support from clients, suppliers, employees and business connections.

In addition, I’ve worked with some fabulous mentors and coaches, without whom the rocky times would have been a lot rockier.

And I’ve had huge support from the Federation of Small Businesses and other organisations over the years. I appreciate the opportunities they offer to meet and connect with fellow business people.What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever had?

Two things that stand out are “your kids don’t stay young for long so cherish the time you have with them” and “you can’t always control what happens, but you can control how you respond and that’s what makes a difference”.

What is your biggest mistake?

I think I’ve made many mistakes, don’t we all?  But, ultimately, that’s a good thing because mistakes help us to become better versions of ourselves. I believe we learn more from them than from our successes.

Personally, I wish I hadn’t let my lack of confidence and self-belief hold me back for so long.

What is your greatest achievement?

Beyond having my kids, I think remaining resilient in business, facing challenges with a positive mindset and helping run the business my dad started into its 20th year of trading this year.

How are you managing rapidly rising costs and how could the government help?

We’re keeping close control of costs within the business, but we’re lucky because rising energy costs aren’t impacting us directly.

But other increasing costs are having an impact on our supply chain and customer base.

Support for micro-businesses with the potential to grow would be welcomed in terms of access to funding.

And also support with recruitment and resourcing to drive productivity and growth.

What do you still hope to achieve?

I’m passionate about running a business that not only cares about the success of our clients and our people, but also the wellbeing of the communities we live and work in, and the health of our planet.

We’re determined to make a positive impact on the world. I hope we can do that to the best of our abilities, while also becoming a certified B Corp.

What do you do to relax?

Out of work, you’ll mostly find me spending time with my family, preferably outdoors.

I go strength training at the gym with my sister, and enjoy walking or running – depending on my mood.

I like to spend time on my own when I need to reset and recharge, sometimes just curling up in a quiet, cosy corner and reading a book is the ideal retreat.

What are you currently reading, listening to or glued to on TV?

I enjoy reading business, performance and autobiography books. Most recently, I finished reading Pig Wrestling by Pete Lindsay and Mark Bawden, and before that The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, both of which I loved.

Podcasts such as Diary of a CEO are my go-to when commuting or walking, but when I’m running there’s nothing better than turning up the music and just letting go.

What do you waste your money on?

My husband would probably say clothes. I’ve become a bit of a Vinted fanatic – both for the reuse and recycling benefits, as well as the bargains (Vinted is an online marketplace for buying, selling and exchanging new or secondhand items, mainly clothing and accessories).

What’s the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?

Usually, I hug my five-year-old and once up the priority is to give him breakfast, as he’s always starving and not very patient.

What do you drive and dream of driving?

I drive a Nissan Qashqai, which I’ve owned for about a year.  Before having kids I owned a Mini, which I loved so might get another one.

I’d also love to have a campervan/motorhome so we could enjoy travelling more.