Celebrating 5 Years of OMG! What a journey and what have I learnt?
1st May 2020 sees the fifth anniversary of OMG! Online Marketing Growth. This is a huge achievement in a new industry - one which is misunderstood, underestimated and vastly undervalued.
I have been working in marketing in one way or another for over 20 years. I did a HND and BA(Hons) in Business and Personnel but which also covered several marketing modules. Prior to this I worked in pensions for five years and so Personnel or HR seemed to be a good fit.
Sometime after graduating, I started a business - coincidentally on 1st May 2002 - with my now ex-husband when my youngest son was 6 weeks old and my eldest 25 months – and to make life harder I had had a c-section to a premature baby! As an IT business, there was a clear definition of labour as my ex was an IT engineer and so I ran the business side. Online marketing was in its infancy and so we had to do marketing the old way – cold calling, magazine advertising, networking and of course, on the golf course!
The business grew and we eventually had a shop in Wombourne during which time Facebook had started to have some impact as had eBay and online shopping. We merged with another business and in 2010, Facebook had really started to make its presence felt. I set up and a page and could see its potential and I think, looking back, a seed had been planted.
Divorce came next and so my career took a back seat to look after my children – working part time to be there for them as they dealt with a new life. I worked for two struggling companies. I could see that they would really benefit from a social media presence but the owners weren’t forward thinking enough to see its potential which was frustrating as a former business owner myself.
I started a LLM part time but found that this wasn’t for me and so undertook a full time MA in Human Resources Management. I absolutely loved being back at University and learning about the psychology of motivation, reward and engagement - which feeds into the art of marketing too. Why not a marketing MA? I thought, based on my previous qualifications and experience that HRM was for me but it did lead me to meeting a wonderful lady who changed my career path.
After graduating I worked for a local company selling apprenticeships and again, I could see the huge potential for a robust social media presence – but, as before, the owners weren’t interested. I have found that the personal experiences and attitudes of the directors can cloud their vision to the benefits this medium can have to their businesses – they need to get out of their own way.
Whilst networking, I met Denise Waite of the HR Dept Wolverhampton and we clicked! Within a few weeks, I was working for her and part of my role was looking after her social media which I loved! I finally found a role which I loved, indulged my creativity and kept me on my toes as I do get quite bored of monotonous roles very quickly.
After several months working together, we parted company very amicably and I was pondering what to do with myself. I was 44, a single mom with two amazing teenage sons, and the world at my feet! So I took the plunge – why not!?
OMG! was formed very quickly and easily – the name came from sitting have coffee and cake with two friends. It is the most commented on part of the business – everyone remembers it and the logo (which I designed with a little help from an old school friend who’s a great graphic designer and sounding board).
The business has grown and grown and I am looking back very proud of what I have achieved. I was a runner up for Best New Business, a judge for an Award, working with eBay last year was a ‘pinch me’ moment as was working with NatWest Commercial Bank, the Black Country Chamber of Commerce and many other great businesses. Becoming a Member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing last year is confirmation of my experience and knowledge.
There are many people – VA’s, students etc. - who say that they manage social media accounts but it’s a lot more than the occasional post and badly cropped image – social media is your business for the whole world to see. You wouldn’t trust a 5 year old to draw your flyers, so why let someone without any marketing experience showcase your brand? And don’t get me started on hashtags!!
What have I learnt?
I have met some weird and wonderful people. Networking brings out the crazy and at first, I was very influenced by people who now I would, and have, crossed the room to avoid. I have learnt to listen to my gut feeling and instincts – not everyone is what or who they seem. The loudest people tend to be the insecure ones who need validation as they don’t really know what they’re doing. The quiet ones tend to be the most stable and reliable people who do their thing and do it very well. I have helped people with no expectation of anything in return but have also been let down by those who have promised the earth. Never believe anything until the money is in the bank…
I have become more selective about who I let into my life and trust – running a business alone changes your outlook. I have employed people and probably won’t do so again. I have looked at and attempted to start other ventures but always come back to the core that is OMG!
So now, five years on and in lockdown, I can look back and see that I have come a long way and wonder what the next five years will hold. Will Facebook implode? Will the public leave social media en masse? I’m smiling as I write that as neither of which will happen. Social media is engrained in us all now whether we like it or not. We must learn to manage our own usage and that of the next generation – self regulation is crucial.
But I do know – now more than ever – that businesses need to be active on social media. They say the best place to hide a dead body is on the second page of Google. The best way to kill your business is by hiding it from the world.
And thank you to everyone who has been part of my journey so far. I have been touched by kindness, true friendship, madness and frustration. Here's to the next five years!!