Digital marketeer used redundancy as a start-up springboard

Stephen Lawless from Softintro talks to Seán Kennedy who used his pandemic redundancy as the inspiration to start his own business SMK Marketing advising SMEs and sole traders on their digital journey.

SMK Marketing was started by Seán Kennedy (27). Seán helps other sole traders and small businesses with their digital marketing including social media, ad content and online presence.

Seán found himself being made redundant as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic during the summer of 2020. He found it very difficult to find a job in marketing.

“Get as much feedback as you can from family and friends. Initially I got a lot of creative criticism on my logo but this helped me set up my business”

He came up with the idea of positioning himself as a consultant to small businesses who struggle with online marketing who can’t afford to hire someone full time but still have a need for an online presence, social content, Google ads and SEO.

Seán has a background primarily in business but has also worked in media, radio and digital marketing. He has a degree in International Business and French from DCU. He has a postgrad diploma from IBAT with the Digital Marketing Institute in Digital Marketing. He also spent a year abroad in Canada working in sales and improving his French.

Positive feedback

Man in suit advising a client.

He has spent the last four months setting up his business and doing market research. He reached out to friends, family and business owners to understand if this is an area of their business they have struggled with.

“The feedback I got was positive and a number of business owners said marketing was an area they need help with.”

Recommended tools and software

If you are a business owner Seán recommends using Facebook Business Manager for managing ads and reporting. ”Now, more than ever it is important to have a digital presence.”

He recommends ensuring your business exists through Google’s platforms.

Seán also uses software called Hours to keep track of his time to ensure he has a balanced life. He uses Quickbooks for accounting purposes, which can integrate with his online banking.

His website was built using Wix.

Back to Work Enterprise Scheme

Seán has been accepted on the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance Scheme which allows you to claim social welfare while setting up your business for two years.

As part of the scheme Seán took part in a boot camp with 13 other entrepreneurs trying to start a business. The participants were asked to complete a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis of their business.

The majority of the participants stated that the marketing side of their business was the most challenging. They didn’t know how to do digital marketing and spread the word about their business.

Finding clients

Seán already has two clients he found through Facebook networking groups. They are Your Irish Family History (YIFH) and Seeka Jewellery. YIFH is based in South Dublin and they teach you how to create your own family history records. The company is very popular in America and Seán is helping promote their services in the US and Canada particularly in New York, Boston and Montreal.

“Seeka Jewellery is based in Wicklow and creates handmade jewellery. The business owner Jessica already ran a salon and started making jewellery as a hobby. She began selling her jewellery through her salon and got an incredible response and decided to do it full-time.”

Seán works primarily on Jessica’s social media content. Seán creates Instagram posts each month based on the current theme of the month. For example, January will focus on new beginnings. He also runs digital ads selling Seeka Jewellery products online which have been successful.

Supporting small businesses

Seán offers two main marketing services, social media advertising and traditional digital advertising. He can help you perfect the SEO of your website so your business ranks higher in Google search. On the advertising side, he can create ads as well as the content for ads.

Seán likes to think of himself as the extra member of your staff without having to employ him full time. He spends time learning how your business works and understanding what you would like to get out of your digital ads.

When the lockdown has finished Seán plans to offer event management services. He previously worked for 98FM doing event management. He is also a member of the Gumball 3000 crew. If you would like to hire Seán for your digital marketing needs you can contact him at Seán.kennedy@smkmktg.com or through his website https://www.smkmktg.com.

When asked if he had any other advice for entrepreneurs he said: “Firstly, networking is the most important thing. Talk to as many people as possible. Even people you think will not be helpful will be helpful. Facebook has been fantastic. Join groups. Search on Facebook for Irish business and small business and join them all. They’re great. If you’re setting up on your own, especially if you’re offering a service, make calls, make contact with people.

“Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone. Make cold calls. If you make 100 calls one person might be looking for the exact service you provide. A lot of people struggle with it. If you can get over some of the challenges of cold calling it can help you very quickly.

“Lastly, get your family involved and get creative criticism. Get feedback on your business name, logo and how you’re wording content. Get as much feedback as you can from family and friends. Initially I got a lot of creative criticism on my logo but this helped me set up my business.”

Interview by Stephen Lawless of Softintro.com. who interviews business owners to get recommendations on the best software and tools for small businesses.