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Finding your groove with marketing – a small business case study

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Does the thought of doing any kind of marketing fill you with dread? The funny thing about running a business is that you have to do all sorts of things you don’t love just to get you to the point where you can do the thing you do love. The thing that you set your business up to do.

Paul Tyer found his own challenges with marketing, but he’s now in a groove where he loves creating his email newsletter. And it’s making a positive (that means he’s making money) impact on his business.

Watch the video to learn more about Paul’s story. If you prefer to read, a transcript is below the video.


Minal Patel: Hello and welcome to The Marketing Mix. I’m here today with Paul Tyer and we’re going to talk a little bit about small business marketing challenges.

Now, if you find yourself lurching from one marketing disaster to another, or you don’t know what’s best for you, or you’re struggling, you know to find something to do that you feel comfortable with, you’re in the right place today because Paul has experienced a few marketing challenges of his own, which he’s going to talk.

Paul and I talked about his difficulties with using some marketing tools and he found a way to make things work for him, so that’s what we’re going to talk about today.

You do need to find a way with marketing that you feel comfortable with. It’s always tempting to, you know, jump onto the newest thing. Every marketing expert, whether they’re a LinkedIn expert, video expert and SEO expert, will tell you to try the thing that you’re an expert in.

And sometimes you just need to find your own way and look at the things you’re comfortable doing. Before we start, Paul, please introduce yourself and your business.

Paul Tyer: Well, thank you for inviting me, Minal. It’s appreciated. I’m Paul Tyer. I’m a professional model maker and I’m based in Orkney, which is obviously a little bit more challenging than on the mainland.

There are only 6 miles of water between us, but that just does add a challenge. I’ve been manufacturing model ships and accessories since 2012. And now I focus only on the model ship side of things. Because I do a lot of Commission work. So large ships for display purposes, that sort of thing.

But I knew I was struggling with marketing and that’s when Minal and I started talking and planning out how to approach marketing for me.

Minal Patel: You started your business, you got into what you’re doing because of the actual things that you do, not because you wanted to do marketing.

But tell me a bit about how you felt when you realised when you first realised. “Oh, I’ve actually got to learn how to do some marketing.”

Paul Tyer: I knew that the marketing areas were changing and continually changing, and I was struggling to sort of keep up with that. If you gave me a set of plans, I can build your model because I know the stages to go through. But the marketing side of it was like trying to climb a mountain. You know, it just seemed to me a big, big challenge. And that’s when I really felt that I needed some guidance to actually take it in manageable steps.

Minal Patel: When you, when you started looking at marketing, what did you think you had to do?

Paul Tyer: I don’t know really because I think the real challenge I had was I was doing some advertising and magazines. I was doing some email. I was doing some social media and I just didn’t appear to be getting anywhere. Not getting the feedback that I was hoping I would get. And I know the algorithms in social media change all the time, and that sort of was another challenge.

When I spoke to you, we looked at a number of challenges and tried to hone them down really to give me the building blocks to move forward.

Email marketing was the section that we honed in on and took it from there really.

Minal Patel: How did you feel? When you thought “ I’ve got to figure all this out”. What did you think you were going to have to do to figure it out?

Paul Tyer: Well, because I’m on a remote location, I don’t have access to the same people as yourself on the mainland. While you tried to sort of search around to find the information, it you felt you were on your own to a degree and it seemed a struggle to try and keep up.

And to be perfectly honest, like a number of well-known entrepreneurs. there are a number of them that suffer from dyslexia, like I do. which adds an additional complication because you can read something, but not necessarily take it in in the manner it’s meant to be used. And again that was another challenge. And of course, that becomes then frustrating. Because you don’t necessarily understand how people are advising you. That’s why working with you on a one-to-one basis has made a lot more sense of the challenges because I can now say to myself, “how do we do this?” and we can talk it through and I go “Oh it’s that simple.”

Minal Patel: What’s the most effective way for you to learn?

Paul Tyer: I tend to like visuals. Because with theoretical learning I struggle because of the word blindness I get when reading.

If I write something down, it might take an hour or two for me to write something correctly because of the challenges of dyslexia, but talking to you or to someone else makes things so much easier because I can actually say what I’m thinking and it tends to flow much more naturally.

Like we explored the likes of dictation software and video software etcetera, to do email marketing.

Minal Patel: What you just said takes me back to my other life when I started my marketing career in a business that sold technology to education. We did a lot of learning that we did around how children learn.

And I suppose that stays with you throughout your life because, for me, it’s always been easiest to read something. And digest it and then reread it. And that’s how I get my understanding. We were just talking before we went live, that I should do more videos.

But I prefer reading but, not everyone does. So it’s interesting that different styles of learning stay with you as you get older. If people like me can make that connection, we can make learning about running a business more accessible to everybody.

You’ve touched a little bit on your dyslexia. Can you tell us what challenges that brought to you in terms of email marketing? Because email marketing is a sit-down-and-write-stuff activity. So, what challenges did that bring for you?

Paul Tyer: There were two, really. I think the first one was confidence because when you’re writing something down, you’re thinking, “well, have I put it in the right grammatical format? Is it spelt correctly?” And the great thing with Word documents nowadays is obviously they spell check for you can do your grammar, which does help.

But for instance, the number 3. I cannot always tell which way it should be around. Sometimes it’s the correct way and sometimes I look at it as the letter E or vice versa and I mix them up. So if I’m handwriting things, sometimes that’s where my challenge is, and I think a lot of it goes back to when I was at school because, in the 1970s, dyslexia wasn’t seen the way it is.

Then, you were told you were slow or you just need special reading glasses and I suppose subconsciously it sits in the back of your mind and it’s only through our conversation the other day, just communicating about this meeting that I started thinking about it.

Minal Patel: I didn’t even think about that. Oh my gosh, I didn’t even think about that.

Paul Tyer: I didn’t, and I’m nearly 60 and I didn’t think about it until you and I were talking the other day that it sort of triggered something in my mind.

I thought, yeah, maybe that sits in the back of my mind. Maybe that is part of what holds me back. With my confidence, when it comes to writing things.

Minal Patel: Because of that, had you written off doing email marketing altogether?

Paul Tyer: To a degree, yeah. It’s not so bad now because now I do it in video form and now I do it in written form as well. I feel much more comfortable about it. Before I was like: “Am I going to give the right message? Am I going to do this and, are people going to understand what I’m saying?”

And course, that’s a negative feeling, but it’s understandable when you’ve got something like that sitting in the back of your mind, even though I’ve never given it any thought.

I’ve just recently started thinking about it.

Minal Patel: So you just alluded to it, the video form. Let’s talk about how you do your newsletters now. Can you explain how you put together your newsletter?

Paul Tyer: Oh yeah, I enjoy this. Basically every Saturday morning I come into the studio, at about 8 o’clock set the video camera up and set the audio up. I’ve generally taken the dog for a walk either the night before or first thing, depending on the weather. As you can imagine it can be a little breezy.

I’ve already got in my mind a number of points that I want to put across, so it might be something to do with a new product. It might be to do with a competition that we’re running or something like that. So they will be our main focal points.

But then as a bit of a personal touch to it, quite often Teddy my Jack Russell, enters the video somewhere along the lines as the shop inspector – he basically oversees my work because he’s got a basket in here and he quite often is in the studio with me most days.

It takes me about 20 minutes to record. Probably 20 minutes to half hour to edit, so I end up with just a 2-minute video. So, my readers then get 2 minutes of video footage.

They can see me, they can see much more about what’s going on. And quite often I’ll have a commission build in the background so they can see different things that I’m doing.

And I put in shots of new products during my talking sections. I’ll put in cutaways and things like that. And it’s all just done in a very simple programme. And it’s out of the door by lunchtime every Saturday.

Minal Patel: Amazing. What’s been the reaction to you doing that? Because I think you’ve been doing that for maybe about a year now.

Paul Tyer: The reaction has been very good. A lot of customers love it because they can actually see a person behind the business rather than just the standard marketing type email that some businesses send out, you know, like the big chain types businesses. Buy this product, buy that product, buy that product.

This is about me, the business and what’s going on and how we’re developing. Now I’ve got feedback from customers and added a tips and tricks section. My readers are bringing in how they fix a part, how they paint a model, and how they build a model that then starts to feed into more content. More how-to videos and it also means I can talk to people through that video as well.

Minal Patel: So, people, your customers are giving you tips of how they do things and you’re turning that into a video like you’re doing that as a tip.

See, that’s amazing, because if they’re telling you that’s a problem that they’ve come across and they’ve solved it in a way. And that’s probably something that your other customers are going to appreciate.

You’re sort of turning, almost turning the FAQs on it on their head really because a lot of the times I say to people if you’re struggling for content, think about the questions that you get asked most by your customers and answer those questions. And now what you’re doing is taking those answers that your customers are giving you and turning that into content for other people. How much time does that take? Taking the suggestion from the customer, the tip from the customer to turn it into a video?

Paul Tyer: It really depends, because quite often I would like to physically do a how-to video so that could be a Saturday afternoon because Monday to Friday are the business hours as such. Saturday is my time to do the email, but also I make my own model; I’m in the middle of doing a remote control boat for myself actually. Finally got it out of the box, after nearly a year of having it here. So I’m turning that into a how-to video from start to finish.

When you’ve got people coming into the hobby, and if it’s a model they’ve never done before, or they’re new to the hobby, they’re spending £200-£300 on a kit. Plus the amount of time it takes them to build a ship which could be two or three years depending on their abilities.

So I was thinking if we can engage with the members and the newsletter readers, help with advice from more advanced ones, we can develop the skills of the newer modellers and that’s why I thought about doing how-to videos. It came about because of how you and I spoke and how to develop things. It’s led me to be able to do all these extra things that I never even thought of.

Minal Patel: And this is amazing because you’ve taken quite a simple idea of creating your newsletter by using video, and you’ve taken that up a notch. You’re generating content from your customers and turning it into content to upskill beginners that are building kits. So, they appreciate your help as well. Have you thought about perhaps getting those tips from your customers in video format so you shine just a little spotlight on them as well?

Paul Tyer: It it’s something that’s it’s worth considering. I haven’t gone down that route as yet. But I will be making a note of that afterwards!

I often name the people who send in tips in the videos I make. But what I’ve done as a slight incentive is I give a £15 gift voucher out to one of the customers that I pick out of that particular month’s selection. I give it to them just as a way of saying thanks because I’m trying to build more of a community rather than just purely selling a product. If I can get people to engage, I think the more they will feel comfortable and want to spend.

Minal Patel: And that’s the thing, right? People will buy from people. When they feel some kind of allegiance to them, and if you build this community that’s where you’re giving information freely to help people. At the point where they’ve got a commission or they want to buy something a bit more expensive. they are automatically going to think of you because you’ve given them so much value already.

But I like the £15 gift voucher because I know that what you sell isn’t particularly cheap, but it’s giving them a present that then encourages them to buy something a bit more expensive from you. So that’s something that anyone watching should perhaps take note of is that you don’t always have to be giving discounts, but you can give a present to a customer that encourages them to buy something a little bit more expensive.

And so just thinking about results, what impact do you think this approach has made on your business?

Paul Tyer: When I look at the metrics on the website, I’ve got Google Analytics running, the increased traffic flow has probably gone up by about 25% to 30% of which 60% of those are desktop users. That is totally understandable for the subject we’re in because if you’re researching a model ship, you’re going to look for photos of the real ship. So, you’re going to need to see the details. So, the majority of people use desktops.

As far as turnover, it’s probably 5% maybe 10% somewhere in that margin of additional turnover flow through the email side of things. That to me is quite a big jump, really.

Minal Patel: It’s actually good that you can see that it’s making that material difference because it’s taking you some effort to create those videos, but you’re not doing it and not seeing a result. So, you’re doing something in a way that is comfortable for you, but it’s actually helping you to see results for your business.

Paul Tyer: I think what I found was beneficial to help me was, you and I have discussed it in the past, is that I’ve been involved in a number of model-making TV shows.

And the one I really enjoyed the most was the Biggest Little Railway, which is where the track was laid from Fort William to Inverness and it was Dick Strawbridge who presented it. It took us two weeks to do it, but it was what the Victorians couldn’t quite manage. So we wanted to do an engineering project that would take model railways all the way through, and we did.

And apparently, it’s been shown in Australia and I think it’s been shown in Japan. It’s five years after it was made and it’s got some quite good positive feedback. And I think working around the TV crews who were with us all the time helped me get used to them being around and I think that’s where I felt comfortable using video.

Minal Patel: And do you track which videos are more popular with your readers? Do you look at your metrics and think “Oh that was that worked really well.”

Paul Tyer: Yeah, because I put them on YouTube but put them as a private link, not a private video, but just a link that only the subscribers can see. I see how many each month have been viewed and that gives me an indication. The model I made of the Royal Oak in 2019, that’s had over 30,000 views and it’s only a 10-minute video showing the whole build process.

But it’s also generated a number of product enquiries and customer enquiries. You know for that. So, it is well worth considering doing something along these lines.

Minal Patel: And so just carrying on from that. If someone wants to turn their newsletters into a video because that’s what they feel more comfortable with, what things have you learned that you can share with people?

Paul Tyer: Try it out a few times. Make it just for you and have some fun with it. It is difficult to look at the camera. But just try four or five videos at home don’t do it for anyone else, but just do it for yourself.

Have an idea of some ballpark idea and just write some notes down. What I sometimes do is if I’ve got four or five ideas, I’ll write them down on post-it notes, and stick them below the camera so I’m actually looking at the camera. I’m reading the notes underneath it. Which is quite useful.

You don’t need expensive equipment. Your iPhones and modern phones are 4K and they’re very good quality.

The phone I use is 5 years old, but it’s still good quality. I’ve just got an app on it now for doing videos, for when I’m out and about because I can manually control everything.

I’ve got a digital camera, good quality digital camera. Bought it second-hand for a couple of hundred pounds. But it does 4K. It does 60 frames a second. But it’s more than enough. Get yourself a decent microphone. And away you go. If anyone wants any help, if you want to put my details in the link afterwards, I’m more than happy to give us a call or message.

Minal Patel: Very kind. The app that you’ve just mentioned that you have. Can you tell us what that is?

Paul Tyer: Yeah, it’s an app called Filmic Pro.

Basically, it’s a professional film app and I think it only cost me about £10 or £11 to purchase, a one-off price, right?

But it lets you manually focus it. It lets you manually zoom, so basically, it takes over control of the phone and turns it into a professional camera as opposed to just a mobile phone.

Minal Patel: OK, that’s interesting.

So, we talked about confidence and how you feel that maybe you didn’t have the confidence. But how has this approach helped your confidence with marketing?

Paul Tyer: Ohhh. Massively. Absolutely massively. I can approach things now in. a completely different way. I wouldn’t have been doing this with you live prior to getting more confidence with the video newsletters. And I love it. I’m terrible. I can’t stop now! It’s like this sneaky little addiction.

Minal Patel: Doing things like this does get easier the more you do it. It’s kind of like exercise, isn’t it?

The more you exercise the fitter you become, and the more your muscle memory sort of remembers certain things, but it can be daunting and practising is really the key.

How do you think this confidence has impacted other parts of your business? Does it help?

Paul Tyer: Yeah, it’s helped personally as well as the business because I have much more ability to control situations a bit better. Whereas before I would always think, “I don’t really want to say that now” I can go to a situation and sort of, I wouldn’t say in a controlling manner, but be able to stand my ground and focus on an area and explain it with much more confidence than I ever had before.

But I have also found from a personal point of view that because I’m Chair of the local model club I deal with that a lot more much more confidently than I ever did before because of doing what I do now. So yeah, no, it’s appreciated and I can’t thank you enough for sort of pointing me in the right direction.

Minal Patel: Sometimes the old adage you can’t see the wood for the trees, is relevant right? I’m the same. I have a mentor and when I’m tying myself into knots, I go and speak to him because I know that I’m too close to things and I need an outside perspective. So, it’s been my pleasure. And I’m so pleased to see you going from strength to strength. I must mention, because Paul hasn’t, he’s currently bidding on a project for a museum in Spain. So, you can see what success he’s having, and this is down to him. A marketing mentor can point you in the right direction. Can give you some food for thought, but it’s only going to work if you go ahead and make that effort and put the time in to do things. And that that success is down to Paul because he took that idea and he ran with it.

And it’s become really successful and I’m so pleased that it’s working.

Thank you so much for joining me today, Paul.

For anyone who’s watching, if you would like to talk about mentoring, please do book 30 minutes with me and we can have a chat about what that looks like for you. As you can tell, I don’t have a cookie-cutter approach. Every client comes with a challenge and we work on those challenges and find solutions that are comfortable for them. I never push ideas onto people. So do book that 30 minutes.

If you would like to have marketing tips and more on a weekly basis join the Marketing Morsal Club. It’s a weekly newsletter that comes out on a Tuesday, but it’s more of a club. There are other things that are attached to it like member-only webinars four times. So, join that club and you’ll be able to benefit from some marketing advice from me.

But in the meantime, I will post a link to Paul’s website in the comments when we finished – do go and check out his website. It’s very cool. I don’t think I’ve ever come across anything like it. Thank you so much for joining me today, Paul, and good luck with those newsletters.

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