How Social Media Amplified Lancaster Music Festival

Lancaster Music Festival 2015
Lancaster Music Festival 2015 (Photo by Nick Dagger Photography)

It’s been 4 years since I was first appointed to handle the marketing and communications for the Lancaster Music Festival which taking place every year across the city. This year the festival was bigger than ever, spanning 5 full days from 8th to 12th October and with a grand total of 43 venues taking part, all within walking distance in Lancaster city centre. Venues included the majority of pubs and restaurants, Lancaster’s 4 outdoor squares, the Ashton Memorial and Lancaster Castle. If you’d walked through the streets of Lancaster on those days you would have stumbled upon a wide range of live music of all tastes and genres from local, national and international artists.

It’s my great privilege to be part of the small bunch of individuals who form the festival team and make this mammoth event happen every year. It’s a really fun and varied role, which includes providing input all year round on the vision, strategy, logistics and delivery of the festival. But my primary concern is to coordinate the marketing aspect and do everything I can to continually grow awareness of the event, and, alongside the rest of the team work my socks off to make the visitor experience a wonderful one (indeed the festival tagline is ‘Welcoming, Walkable, Wonderful!)

The Lancaster Music Festival team
The Lancaster Music Festival team. (Photo by Nick Dagger Photography)

How social media amplifies the festival experience

As well as consulting on marketing elements such as the festival branding, website, brochure and mobile app (new for this year), Back Room SAM is solely responsible for managing the festival’s social media activity. Facebook and Twitter have been essential to our communications strategy for engaging with festival-goers, artists and venues prior to the event, announcing developments and new elements added to the festival mix each year, as well as sharing news and updates during the festival itself.

Batala samba drummers at Lancaster Music Festival 2015
Batala samba drummers attracted a large audience in one of Lancaster’s squares over the festival weekend. (Photo by Nick Dagger Photography)

If you’d been out and about at the festival, you’d probably have spotted a blurred version of myself running about the city with festival photographer Nick Dagger, sharing the goings-on as they happened. It was vital to keep the buzz going by posting photos and anecdotes, while adding to the copious mix of likes, comments, shares and retweets from festival-goers engulfing the social media sphere!

The hashtag #TakeMondayOff was used for people to share their festival experiences with others on social media. (Photo by Nick Dagger Photography)

With such a large number of hosting venues and performances going on at the same time over the festival, it’s literally impossible for one to see everything, but thanks to social media people are able to share their festival experience with others – on Twitter the hashtags #LMF2015 and #TakeMondayOff were used for visitors to share photos and videos and tell other followers about their favourite gigs. Some weird and wonderful moments were also spotted and shared, including a photo of someone playing a snare drum whilst sat on top of a pub beer fridge at 1 in the morning, and one tweeter declaring their new found love of the medieval hip-hop genre after attending a gig by Boom Bike Bouree at Nice Bar and Restaurant!

Over the 5 days of the festival, our updates reached 106,000 people on Facebook and 94,500 people on Twitter – a fantastic reminder of the power of social media and the role it can play in enhancing an event like this.

Visit Lancaster Music Festival on social media at or

Lancaster Music Festival goes National

BBC Lancashire 06
Lancaster Music Festival was the main focus of BBC Radio Lancashire’s ‘Lancashire Outdoors’ programme. They joined us at Lancaster Castle on Sunday afternoon and got busy interviewing organisers and performing artists. (Photo by Nick Dagger Photography)

It’s also my job to generate and coordinate the press coverage for the festival. Every year the event obtains a good level of attention from local and regional press including the Lancashire Evening Post and BBC Radio Lancashire, and for the first time this year we achieved national coverage from BBC 6 Music and the Daily Telegraph which is very exciting!



Lancaster Guardian article

Most importantly, the festival is excellent for Lancaster. It’s two weeks later and people are still talking about it. It is estimated that over 60,000 people attended this year’s festival including many visitors from outside the region, injecting an extra £1.5million into the local economy. People are sitting up and taking notice of this small city as a world-class music location. Locals are proud to call Lancaster their home and visitors are looking forward to coming back.

As one person so profoundly commented on the festival feedback survey, Lancaster well and truly rocked.

Here’s what Festival Coordinator Ben Ruth said having Back Room SAM as part of the festival team this year:

“Employing Back Room SAM to promote and market the 2015 Lancaster Music Festival allowed us as directors to concentrate on the festival production and development without having to overly concern ourselves with marketing, as we knew Sarah would take care of those needs competently and efficiently. She proactively engaged with the festival team, making suggestions on strategies to improve the marketing as well as regularly updating us on the status of the marketing campaign.

The 2015 music festival broke all previous year’s records and also broke nationally for the first time. The unprecedented turnout of over 60,000 festival goers over the festival weekend bringing in around £1.5m into the city’s economy is both a testament to the festival’s success and to the success of a brilliant marketing campaign managed by Back Room SAM. 10 out of 10 in terms of beating our expectations and value for money!”

Benjamin Ruth, Director of Lancaster Music CIC

Bring on next year! Let the planning begin….

sarah x

Want to know how social media can help promote your business or event? I’d love to hear from you! Get in touch with me to arrange a free 1-hour consultation over a brew to discuss ideas together.  

Video Blog: Social media – A picture speaks a thousand words (or tweets!)

A post on social media is twice as likely to be shared or retweeted by others when it includes an image. In this video blog, I talk about how a important it is for a business to get creative with producing images for use on their social media pages, and how this can be done, even without any graphic design skills!

I hope you find this video blog useful, and I hope it inspires you to get creative when using images in your social media strategy.

Thanks for watching!

sarah x

Video Blog: It’s the Little Things That Count

When running a business it is often the big things that are at the top of our priority list. This is understandable as these are often the sorts of things our business couldn’t run without. But in this video blog I talk about the importance of paying attention to the little details in your business. These smaller things require little extra effort, can work powerfully to set you apart from competitors and can go a long way in helping you succeed and achieve your business goals.

Thanks for watching!

sarah x

Why I’m Excited About Running Getting Seen 2…

After the great success of the first Getting Seen Marketing Masterclass that I ran back in February in cahoots with fellow local business folk Jane Binnion, Tom Cumpsty and DT Guest, the exciting news is that we have decided to run a second one!

Getting Seen 2 is happening on Wednesday 23rd October 2013, 9.30am-4pm at the Wyrebank Banqueting Suite in Garstang (click here for map/directions).

Getting Seen 2 - Marketing Masterclass

This is a standalone one-day masterclass so you don’t have to have attended the first masterclass to come to this one. However, we have tweaked some elements of the day to make Getting Seen 2 even more packed full of practical and useful marketing tools and tips, even more beneficial to delegates and of course, even better value for money!

The day will consist of a range of sessions to choose from, including how to form your marketing plan, blogging and content strategy, making sense of web analytics, how Twitter and LinkedIn can help your business grow, plus sessions on Getting Seen in 60 seconds and how to create an e-book.

So why am I personally so excited about running Getting Seen 2?

Getting Seen was the first workshop I ran in collaboration with some other marketing professionals.  I personally loved the opportunity to work with others who were as keen to help local business people have the skills and confidence to get themselves out there as I was.

Getting Seen workshop discussion
One of the group discussions in my session at the previous Getting Seen Marketing Masterclass.

It was also a real pleasure running a session for a variety of business people with different needs, yet who were enthusiastic about discussing together how each of them could take the concepts being learned about and apply them to their unique business situations.

There are plenty of marketing workshops out there that business owners could attend. But I believe what makes the Getting Seen Team special is our combined knowledge of various marketing aspects and platforms, as well as our practical, clear and down-to-earth nature in delivering informative as well as fun and interactive sessions. The overall aim of Getting Seen is to empower delegates to use marketing methods in a smart and efficient way. The goal is not only that their business gets seen, but gets seen by the right people (and without wasting valuable time and money doing it). What also makes the workshop special is the offer of one-to-one follow up support with the workshop leaders, which previous delegates found invaluable, all included in the price of course.

For all that you get from Getting Seen, I think that’s £120 well spent, don’t you?

To find out more about the Getting Seen 2 Marketing Masterclass and to book tickets click here.
Please note that places are limited and an early bird ticket price of £120 is available until 23rd September 2013 (after which the ticket price is £150).   

Thanks muchly for reading, and I hope you’ll come along to the workshop if you can make it.

sarah x

Writing a tagline for your business: 4 quick tips for getting started

Nike - Just .....errr?

If you’ve ever had to try coming up with a tagline or slogan for a product, service or business as a whole, you’ll probably agree with me in saying it’s not an easy thing to do. Many of my clients have commented that writing an effective tagline has been one of the biggest challenges for them in their marketing communications development.

A tagline needs to be concise, to the point and memorable, while also telling your potential customers or clients something about your business (preferably the most important thing – we’ll come back to this in a minute).

So, here are 4 quick tips to help with coming up with an effective tagline…

1. Have you done the strategy groundwork on your business? Do you know what the most important thing is that your target audience most care about from your product or service? Is it quality? Expertise? Customer care? Or maybe something more emotive like the feel-good factor. It’s also worth considering what it is that sets you apart from your competitors, and what you want to be well-known for in your field or industry. It’s useful to try and pin this down to just one (at a push two) things. I know this is hard, but doing this will make constructing a tagline that typifies your business’ most important feature lots easier. You also need to think about the extent the tagline is also required to communicate what it is you actually do. The name of your business or product might already do this so your tagline doesn’t need to (e.g. If the name of your business is ‘Photo Restoration Services’), but if your name doesn’t explain what you do, you may also need to think about how to work this into the tagline as well.

2. Find inspiration! Sitting down with a blank sheet of paper and pen might not be the greatest way to get creative coming up with a tagline. You could begin by reading testimonials or feedback comments from past customers if you have them, looking at the sorts of words and descriptions they have used when speaking about your business. Ask friends and colleagues who know you and your business well for ideas; people process concepts in different ways and they might be able to capture things in a way you wouldn’t have come up with on your own. You can also test out your ideas on people who are less familiar with what you do and ask what they think you are trying to communicate about the business, product or service. Alternatively, a good tip is to go for a walk, both physically and mentally. There is no ‘correct’ process to arriving at a tagline – use whatever you think will help you to arrive at a clear and compelling message.

3. Play around with words and phrases. I have seen good taglines in the form of commands, descriptions and even questions, so play around with the structure a little. Look up synonyms and related words to those you think help say what you want to say. And don’t forget to test out different ideas by saying them out loud, not just seeing how they look on paper.

4. Allow scope for growth. Your tagline is part of the business identity. You don’t want one you’ll have to change every time you add a new product or service to your portfolio. This is especially important if your business is still quite new as you may wish to change things about your business in the first few years. So is your tagline specific enough to clearly convey what you’re about, while being generic enough to allow for some future change and growth?

Above all, don’t panic if a suitable tagline doesn’t come to you straight away. Be prepared to be patient and give the ideas chance to develop in your mind.

Over to you
How have you gone about formulating a tagline or slogan? What has led you to finding just the right words to sum up your business or product? Leave a comment below, let us know what’s worked for you.

I hope you find these tips helpful. Please do get in touch if you would like to chat more about your marketing communications for your business.

Thanks for reading,

sarah x

The 7 Deadly Sins of Marketing Explained

7 deadly sins of marketing cartoon

I recently came across the above cartoon on the web outlining the ‘7 deadly sins of marketing’. I found it amusing, but also felt it made a serious point about some of the traps businesses can fall into when making decisions about their marketing. Below is a short explanation of each of the ‘deadly sins’ and a few tips on how to avoid them.

“Do whatever we did last year”
Don’t automatically assume that just because a particular marketing method has worked well in the past that it will always be effective. People change, technology develops and competition shifts. So make sure you bear this in mind and review your marketing strategy on a regular basis; I’d suggest at least twice a year.

“Do whatever our competitor is doing”
It’s ever so tempting to look over the fence at what everyone else is doing and assume you should be doing the same or very similar. But remember that you may have a completely different strategy and goal to them.  A difference in objectives, target audience and USP may mean that the marketing methods a competitor uses makes perfect sense for them (but then it may not, remember they may not have the foggiest clue) but for you to do the same might in fact be bonkers!

“Do whatever accumulates the most Likes…”
…or Follows, depending on whether you’re a Twitter Tony or a Facebook Freddie. Please bear in mind that just because you get somebody to like your Facebook page, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are compelled to buy from you. Social Media can be great in terms of getting your name out, keeping in touch with past and present customers and is a beautifully compliment to word-of-mouth marketing strategies, but rarely should it be relied on as a standalone method to bring masses of sales.

“Do whatever includes a fancy ad shoot”
Of course it’s always nice to have sleek, shiny and professional-looking marketing material, and it certainly can be worth investing in this as image counts for a lot and it’s important to look the part regardless of the industry you are in. But don’t forget to think through your marketing expenditure and potential return-on-investment on certain options before making any decisions, otherwise you may be left with major cash flow issues and end up plummeting back down to earth with a bump!

“Do whatever will make affiliates partner with us”
Everybody wants themselves and their business to be liked, and in most cases it is crucial to build up a strong network of other businesses who you can collaborate with and partner with on particular projects. But don’t try and do this at the expense of jeopardising the core values and objectives of your own business. Be careful about those you decude to have any influence over you and your business. Choose wisely and don’t be afraid to say no to an opportunity if you feel uneasy or aren’t convinced it makes sense; chances are that you’re right.

“Do whatever spams the most people”
Whether it’s by email, phonecall or social media, spamming people with your product or service is unlikely to make you many friends. The ‘spray and pray’ approach to marketing has been used for far too long. Instead, try being strategic about those you target and then invest your time into building relationships with those likely to buy from you. You’ll vastly reduce the amount of your marketing budget wasted, and those you choose to specifically target will appreciate the special treatment you give to them, so upping the chances of them doing business with you.

“Do whatever wins an advertising award”
With any decisions you make about your marketing strategy, do it against the backdrop of the objectives you have set for your marketing. Is the aim of your marketing to make you feel good about yourself by winning awards? If so then by all means go for it. But if, as with most of us, the aim of your marketing is to increase sales and grow your business, then make sure you keep this as the main goal, and resist letting your pride and desire for global recognition distract you. If you are doing a good job and going the extra mile in your business then there is no doubt you will gain recognition for that in lots of ways. A simple thank you card from a happy client on the mantlepiece is of far greater worth than an awards trophy.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you find some of what I’ve said helpful.  If you feel you could do with some assistance formulating your own marketing strategy or putting it into practice, Back Room SAM offers an affordable 2-3 hour marketing strategy session structured specifically for small business owners. Please do get in touch for more information. I would love to hear from you and see what I can do to help. 

sarah x

Remember, just because you can it doesn’t mean you should!

If you have been running a business for any length of time, you will no doubt have realised the endless possibilities out there for marketing yourself. It is likely you will already have received several phone calls or emails from people trying to sell you advertising space in one of their upcoming magazine editions, in the local newspaper or even on the back of a bus. With the rapid growth of technology, the Internet and social media, this opens up even more doors in terms of marketing and developing an online presence. Some companies will literally pay thousands to an SEO company to ensure that they stay at the top of Google’s rankings despite the ever-changing algorithms being implemented by the online ‘powers that be’.

There are clearly lots of choices in terms of how we market ourselves. But I want to say something that may, on initial hearing, sound quite radical.

What I want to say is this: just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should. I believe this rule applies to marketing just as much as to pimping up cars.

Resist the unwritten rule
There seems have emerged an unwritten rule in business that we should be exploring every single possible avenue for getting ourselves out there, regardless of its cost of effectiveness level. And for some businesses and some marketing strategies, this could arguably be valid. But for the majority of us small businesses, where marketing budgets are slim and time is precious, I want to suggest that we be radical and resist the pressure to conform to this rule. We need to make sure we get the best possible return-on-investment for every pound and every hour we spend on our marketing.

If you have taken the time to put together a coherent marketing strategy, it will hopefully have become clear to you that not all marketing methods will be effective or appropriate to you. I am the first to admit that marketing can be an excellent way to waste good amounts of time and money! It is not enough to think that just because you are doing something with your marketing that you are doing it correctly or successfully.

Be fussy!
So don’t be afraid to be picky about the marketing methods you decide to use; it might be that you only explore 2 or 3 channels to begin with. Choose wisely, and make smart decisions based on the thinking you have done regarding your business environment, marketing objectives, target audience, positioning and business identity. Ask yourself “Does it make sense for me to pay for an ad on the back of this bus?”

Of course all this comes with the caveat that marketing is not an exact science; we are dealing with people and people are inevitably unpredictable! There is never a 100% guarantee of a good return on your marketing efforts. But if you have done that foundational thinking behind your marketing strategy and asked yourself the right questions, then against this backdrop you should be able to confidently make wise and sensible decisions about the best marketing methods to use and stand a much better chance of your marketing delivering the results you are after.

Thanks for reading, and I hope it’s been food for thought. Questions and comments below are always welcome.

sarah x

One of the services Back Room SAM offers is a 2-3 hour marketing strategy session structured specifically for small business owners. If you think this is something you think your business might find useful, then please do get in touch.

Getting Seen in 2013 (Hey, that rhymes!)

Hello! And Happy New Year to you if I haven’t said so already.

So it’s a new year, and I have made it one of my business new years’ resolutions to do more to help my clients use their marketing in as smart a way as possible.

One of the issues I tend to come across is when a new client comes to me asking, for example, for a flyer design, and when I ask them questions about the target audience for the material, or their competition, or their desired position in their market, they have a problem answering me. And it becomes clear that they haven’t really done this kind of initial foundational thinking that would help their marketing work so much smarter for them. As a result, I find that sadly many small businesses end up overlooking simple but smart opportunities for promoting their business.

For a few months now I have dabbled with the idea of starting to run group workshops to help people be smarter about their marketing, where I can offer marketing assistance to local business people in a group setting.

And the good news is that 2013 is going to see me running my very first workshop!

Getting Seen Masterclass Image

To break me in gently, I am teaming up with 3 other lovely local marketing professionals who are all experts in their area – Jane Binnion of Jane’s Social Media, Tom Cumpsty of Sensible Internet and David Guest of Workshop Media.  Together, we are running a 1 day Getting Seen Marketing Masterclass.

Attendees will be able to attend two 2-hour workshops (one in the morning and one in the afternoon). While Jane, Tom and David are going to each be heavily focusing on very specific areas of marketing, my workshop in contrast will be taking more of a ‘birds-eye’ view of the marketing arena by focusing on their all-important marketing strategy to make all of their marketing work smarter.

What do I mean by marketing strategy, I hear you ask? I mean making sure we have all done the vital ‘building-blocks’ exercise of thinking about the various things that should underpin and inform every single marketing decision we make. We’ll be asking simple but essential questions, such as…

‘Who is our target audience?’
‘What are the solid objectives of our marketing?’
‘What sustainable competitive advantage do we have over others?’

…and so on. This is the sort of thinking we all no doubt know we should have done to help us be smarter about our marketing, but many of us haven’t…either because we haven’t taken the time or we are not sure where to start with putting together a smart strategy like this. Which is fair enough. But my aim in this workshop is to solve both of these problems in one. By taking the time to work through a simple but effective framework helping us do the groundwork behind our marketing, this will allow us to then make smart decisions about the best means to promoting ourselves.

Then of course it’s over to my colleagues Jane, Tom and David to give expert guidance on the best way of using 3 of these means – social media, websites and video.

By the end of my workshop, all attendees will have the beginnings of a marketing plan that works for them and their business to take away and get them ahead of the game in 2013!

Interested in coming along? Or know someone who might be?

The Getting Seen Marketing Masterclass is for anyone responsible for marketing their business or not-for-profit organisation.

Date: Wednesday 13th February 2013, 9am – 4pm
Venue: The Storey Institute in Lancaster City Centre (click here for map/directions)
Price: £150 or special offer £120 early bird rate if you book before 25th January 2013. Includes lunch, refreshments and a free corporate headshot by local photographer Eleanor Postlethwaite of Photobaby.

For more information and to book your place online, visit 

 You can also download a copy of the flyer here


Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you at the workshop!

sarah x