by Andrew Collins | 13th Apr 2017
Andrew Collins, ProMo-Cymru’s Communications and Partnerships Officer, was recently fortunate enough to grab a cup of coffee with Aled Nelmes, Digital Marketing Consultant with Google Garage (and a very nice person, to boot).
He asked him a few questions about Google Garage, and what they can do for marketing geniuses-in-training.
Google Garage is a free service at The Tramshed, Cardiff till the end of April 2017. Drop in Monday to Friday anytime between 9am-6pm.
In a nutshell, how would you describe Google’s Digital Garage to someone who has never heard of it before?
I would say it’s basically a physical embodiment of the online Digital Garage. The online Digital Garage is a digital marketing course that Google has been running for a couple of years where you get a formal qualification at the end which is recognised by employers and other organisations.
So if you’re not really into online stuff or you find it unstimulating, you can come into the Garage. We hold seminars twice a week and one-to-one mentoring sessions everyday where you can get answers to more specific questions.
Who would go there and what sort of things can they expect to learn?
Anyone who wants to increase or improve their digital skills. We had someone come in who wanted to learn how to email their granddaughter in Singapore, to people who have several-thousand pound budgets and want to know the best way to spend it.
There’s no question too small and there’s no question too big – although we may get a bit scared if it’s really big!
How much does it cost? It all sounds very good, but I’m guessing there must be a catch?
That’s my favourite question! Absolutely nothing!
To be fair we do get a lot of people asking, “What’s the catch?”, but people come in with questions about their business, or about their passion, and they leave more excited to pursue that business or passion.
We like to think everyone who comes leaves happy – they seem to smile most of the time!
If someone came in, what sort of experience could they expect? Could you walk us through how they could spend an afternoon or a day in the Google Garage, what would it be like?
So you walk in, everyone’s very smiley! There’s a team of four of us on hand. You’ll be offered free snacks, WiFi, tea and coffee the lot – so even if you’re just a bit hungry and you use Google now and again, that’s all good!
You can come in and we’ll talk you through the different services we can offer, if you wanted a one-to-one mentoring session we’d set you up with someone who’s most experienced or skilled as to what you want to do. So, for example, I specialise in web building from a free and ‘DIY’ sense, but some other guys will specialise in Analytics or AdWords – we’ll set you up with the best option for you. And of course, it’s all for free as well!
What would you say are the most common difficulties that organisations face online and any tips on how to solve them?
There’s two big issues we have. One is that a lot of businesses or charities think that to achieve a strong online following they have to have a lot of money. However, the reality is that because these digital services want your use – like Twitter, Facebook and Google – they will try to make everything as cost-effective for you as possible.
For example, we get a lot of people come in and say “I want to advertise”, so we say, “Have you tried Facebook marketing?” because with Facebook marketing you can directly send or aim an advertisement or post based at a specific type of person that you know is going to be interested in your product or service.
So you can filter it to things like age or place?
Absolutely. Age, gender, location, even interests! So you know you can nail it down and you’ll be spending nothing more than £10 and can get your message out to, potentially, a couple of hundred relevant people.
So let’s say that someone came to see you. They run a local family group and they wanted to advertise their community centre. The sort of people that use it are families, what would you suggest to them if they were to use Facebook marketing?
The first step would be identifying their market. So we’d use online tools, free tools like Trends and Analytics, to find out what kind of people are looking for your service and what kind of people are already finding your service and getting the most satisfaction out of it. We can then nail that down to a set demographic, a type of person, and then take them through very easy steps to create a template to aim ads at their community for very little money.
I’ve seen businesses build an online profile and just build their content right and analyse their market so well that they haven’t spent a penny. They set up a Facebook page with lots of interaction, they ask questions rather than just giving people information, they’ve got people interested in what they’re doing, stimulated by what they’re doing. Often you’ll find that once you’ve developed this online community you go, actually that’s enough.
So I talked about needing a little budget, but essentially to start, you don’t need to spend a penny. We get a lot of businesses that come in and realise that, which is really nice, really good to see.
If you had three top tips that people can use to improve their presence online, what would they be?
The biggest tip is don’t overdo it. I think a lot of business come in and say, “right, I’ve got a Facebook page, got a Twitter page, got a Pinterest page, got a Instagram page, got LinkedIn page oh and I’ve got a website, oh and I’ve got a mailout”.
…and it takes hours and hours to run them all…
Yeah! And we take a look through and say, well is anyone interacting with them? Have you checked your Analytics to see how many people are coming from these social media pages to your website? Then we’ll nail those down and say, right you don’t actually need that. So that’s a big one, don’t overdo it. Nail exactly where your people are and focus on that.
That then leads on to the next one, which is reflect your brand. So if your organisation has a very strong brand, especially if you have a very strong moral point, make sure your online presence reflects that. So you can keep that image, keep that vibe, keep that consistent.
The biggest thing is make the most of the free tools. We can form a digital marketing plan entirely for free. Make the most of those free tools, don’t jump straight into the big pay-per-click platforms until you’ve got a really solid community, social media and website. Make sure you’ve got strong platforms before you go spending megabucks.
Originally it was due to end 31st March 2017, but you’ve been given another month. How someone can get involved or arrange a visit?
People can just drop in Monday to Friday anytime between 9am-6pm. If you’re walking past the Tramshed on Pendyris Street in Cardiff (It’s just the other side of the river from the Cardiff Central train station), you can always just drop in.
If you want to book a session, or you want to book a seminar or one-to-one session just to make sure you’ve got that spot, you can do that just go to our website which is g.co/cardiffgarage and you can find everything out there. There’s a whole page where you can register for the seminars. Sometimes we have special events, where we’ll get specialised ‘Googlers’ from London or Dublin (Google’s Head Offices) and they’ll come in and give a specialised talk on how to get your business forward. They’ve been amazing, they packed out the place, so if you’re really interested in how to take your organisation to the next level, book those right now because they fill up really quickly.
Otherwise, just pop in. Like I said, we’re always a friendly face, the doors are open 9am-6pm so just pop in and say ‘Hi’.
Brilliant! Well Aled, thanks very much for your time. Cheers.
You can find out more about Aled via his LinkedIn page here.