Tag Archives: mailinglist

Social enterprises deliver commercial capabilities with effective tools of trade

Today’s update is a guest post from Jessica Purbrick-Herbst, community manager for Social Traders. Jessica gives some tips on how social enterprises can use the digital economy to support their communications and marketing activities, and grow their businesses.

A social enterprise is a business that has a social purpose, and invests the majority of its profits (50% or more) into delivering that purpose. The social enterprise business model is robust and sustainable, and is increasingly becoming the business de rigueur as entrepreneurs seek alternative forms of profit distribution.

In context, there are over 20,000 social enterprises in Australia, with footprints in every Australian community. For some examples, consider your local bowling club, RSL or sporting league. Within this business model, the social enterprise sector may support a disadvantaged group (long term unemployed, disabilities, young and at risk). Or the production of low cost fruit and vegetables may provide access to fresh produce for everyone in the community. A social enterprise may be a cafe, a film production agency or community centre. It can also be a financial institution (for example, Bendigo Community Bank) or a packaging and distribution unit.

Just like any business, a social enterprise needs customers, and tools of the trade. Having access to the national broadband network (NBN) will enhance business growth across all sectors, by improving the speed, reliability and access to internet connections around the country. For social enterprise, utilising online marketing tools, directories and of course social media will help to grow the business, bringing in new opportunities.

Strong and stable internet connections have already enabled social enterprises in Tasmania to find customers globally; Victorian social enterprises to compete for business around Australia, and Melbourne social enterprise caterers to provide online ordering systems to corporate clients across the city. Without this network of reliable internet access, these businesses would miss opportunities and struggle to meet their social impact goals.

Top Tips for Hume Region Social Enterprises

  1.  Develop a practical, integrated marketing plan which coordinates online and off-line business growth activities.
  2. Communication activities need to be integrated (supported and consistent).
  3. Going online doesn’t have to be expensive. Utilise blogging platforms like WordPress or Tumblr to establish an online presence. Try Facebook and Twitter to support your activities. Use a regular, brief, action-orientated newsletter (try Mailchimp) to reach existing customers and find new ones.
  4. Don’t sign up for every shiny new online system – find the two or three preferred hangouts that are used by your current and potential customers, and build from there.
  5. Sign your business up for a free listing on The Social Enterprise Finder (www.thesefinder.com.au) – Australia’s only directory of social enterprises.

For further information and access to online tools and resources, go to:

Images and video links:

Connecting local producers with customers at Walker Events

Mansfield’s Walker Events is an events management business with an environmentally friendly ethos at its core. We spoke with business owner Alli Walker about how she uses social media and the web to promote her business. 

Business overview

We started in 2009,  and run a suite of three core events, aimed at promoting the many facets of sustainability. These are the monthly Mansfield Farmers’ Market, the twice yearly Sustainable House Tours and the newly introduced Regional Farm Gate Tours. Our customers are mostly Victorian, with a mix of locals, regional and Melbourne-based.

Which web or social media technologies are you using in your business?

  • We started off with a farmer’s market web page – this was used as the portal for all information pertaining to the market. Stallholder enquiries and applications are all handled online through the web page.
  • As the other events grew in their following and strengths, we created a second web page for Walker Events. This allowed us to introduce devotees of the farmers’ market to the other facets of our business. Both web pages are updated on average once per week and cross-promote each other.
  • Both web pages are attached to a MailChimp database, allowing people to sign up to our email newsletter. This is used for promoting all facets of the business. Using MailChimp takes away a lot of the work (subscribers/unsusbcribers, etc) involved with keeping the database up to date.
  • Twitter and Facebook also play a large part in the marketing of the business. The farmers’ market has its own Facebook business page which is used to communicate general foodie news and promotions as well as market information.  Twitter is used as a means to create relationships with producers, other markets, people interested in food as well as media contacts.
  • We are just starting to use YouTube to record different experiences – we have a business YouTube channel which is another way to showcase our experiences.
  • As a business that prides itself on being environmentally sustainable, being a part of the digital space in such a big way helps us to reduce the amount of paper and other resources that we use.

What have been the benefits of using these?

We embraced digital marketing from the very beginning, simply because it was something that could be managed in-house. The media contacts that we have made online have been of enormous assistance with PR and marketing.

Contacts made through Twitter have created some huge benefits for the business, as well as for individual producers who attend the market. In particular, one of our producers was “introduced” over Twitter. This was noticed by some high-level chefs, and as a consequence is now supplying product to several hatted restaurants.  Word of mouth recommendations are vitally important when it comes to local produce and the use of Twitter in this instance was hugely successful.

What benefits do you think the NBN will have for your business?

At the moment, slow internet and frequent drop outs that can occur through our wireless internet connection mean that something that should take half an hour ends up taking half a day. Constant and controlled broadband access will make many of our tasks much easier.

Do you have any tips for other business managers who may be looking at getting online?

Don’t be scared! There is no need to jump into everything all at once – start slowly. Ask questions. Read books and blogs. Attend workshops and professional development. Keep learning and make the most of the opportunities that are available.

You can connect with Walker Events on Twitter at @MansfieldFM, and on the Mansfield Farmer’s Market Facebook page.