8 ways to upgrade your LinkedIn profile

How much are you using LinkedIn at the moment? LinkedIn in 2020 is a world away from what it seemed like a few years ago, and is managing to morph from stuffy and corporate, into somewhere with personality that’s full of opportunities. As such, small businesses can really benefit from having a well-done profile, being active and representing themselves regularly to potential customers.

Before you get going though, there are a few things to think about, so that you’re always targeting the people you want to attract, and creating content that resonates with them.


What are you trying to achieve? Decide on your LinkedIn goals, and bear them in mind with each person you connect with, and each post you create. If it’s sales, leads, expanding your network or adding people to your mailing list, make sure you’re not wasting time on things that don’t align with your big-picture plans.

Your audience

As with all marketing, you can’t target everyone, as you end up targeting no one. Who is your ideal client or customer? What do they like, what is their business, what do they do in their spare time? The more you know about who you’re talking to, the more you can tailor your profile and content to resonate with them.

Your profile

Every so often I perform the ‘Alien Test’ on my social media profiles, and LinkedIn is the ideal place to do this. Open your profile and pretend you’re an alien, who’s just landed there (I know, bear with me). Would you know what the business does? Who it’s targeting? How to get in touch? It’s surprising how many business owners don’t include this info – give yours a rejig if necessary, making all the above really clear.


Social proof/testimonials are important for clients/customers to see, as it proves you are who you say, and will deliver what you promise. If you give out a few recommendations to other businesses/contacts, chances are you’ll get a few back. Even if not, it’s a nice way to reconnect with former colleagues, among others, and remind them what your business is about.


LinkedIn gives you space in your profile to enhance it with photos, links, graphics of testimonials, and anything else that shows what you’ve done and how you help people.It’s not just about what you say, imagery and other media builds a better picture. If you have articles you can link to, photos of events you’ve done, links to reviews of your products or anything that might add depth to what you’re saying.


Once you’ve made your profile a bit more juicy, go back to your ideal client or customer who you’ve already identified, and start adding them as connections. Start using job titles, locations and 2nd/3rd connections and add up to 10 per day to your network. Your audience will grow and will become full of people who are the ideal people to buy your product or service.


Regularly posting well-thought-out content is key to showing your audience that you know your stuff, and that your product or service is right for them. Keep it consistent and varied, for example showcasing your USPs, showing your staff in action behind the scenes, and making sure you’re offering value, not just broadcasting your own sales messages.


Keeping an eye on your stats is a great way to measure progress, and will show you’re going in the right direction even if there are not yet any direct leads. Keep an eye on profile views, search appearances and the performance of each post, and you’ll get a feel for what works best, and what’s getting you that engagement.

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5 reasons to get a social media manager

social media manager

We all know that an active and engaged social media presence is a must for pretty much any business these days. The question is, should you pay someone to manage your social media platforms? It’s great if you have a GM who’s good at taking photos at the pass, or someone in the office who can snap your new packaging, but there are quite a few benefits to having someone who’s dedicated to the task, particularly when things are busy and there aren’t enough hours in the day.

To scratch the surface a little:


A pro will create a strategic plan that ties into your other marketing activity. Rather than posting sporadically or randomly, they’ll have the time to make sure your images, profile information and links are always up to date, and that you’re making the most of seasonal and local hooks – things so easily missed if you’re doing 1000 things at once, but could cost you opportunities/customers if they’re wrong. The businesses that get good results on social are the ones who have a solid content strategy and dedicated people to put it in place.


They’ll know the quirks of each platform, for example whether or not to use hashtags on Facebook (no) or how to direct people to a link on Instagram (bio), and how often to post on each (varies). They’ll know how to best use your assets for each channel, and get the best results.


If you’re looking to invest some of your budget into social campaigns then even more reason to get someone to help – I’ve seen clients waste their budget through targeting the wrong location, or not having the right call to action. The former is a total waste of time, the latter not necessarily a disaster, but if you’re putting hard-earned cash into it, make it work hard! You need to be researching, planning, creating beautiful content, scheduling it and following it up


Doing a good job on social media is time consuming! (Despite what a lot of people think…) The actual posting is the tip of the iceberg, you need to be researching, planning, creating beautiful content, scheduling it and following it up – replying to comments and engaging with followers. This is how you grow your following, and become known as a brand that has conversations with its followers, as opposed to just broadcasting.


If you’re using a marketing channel you should be monitoring its effectiveness, whether you pay for sponsored posts or not. If you do it, measure it. Analytics within platforms are extensive, and it’s not always obvious what to look for. Measuring the right variables and monitoring progress allows for tweaks and adjustments based on what’s performing well, and means you get the most you can out of each platform.

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8 business books to read during lockdown

Whether you’re still working, working from home or taking some involuntary time out, now is a great time to catch up on some reading.

There’s an overwhelming volume of business books out there, addressing every problem at every stage of setting up and running a business. These are a few of the gems that I’ve got real value out of in the last 4 years of running my biz, so as I’m re-reading a couple of them as we speak, I wanted to share the love!

Entrepreneur Revolution by Daniel Priestley

A masterclass in developing an entrepreneurial mindset, Entrepreneur Revolution gives fascinating background on how human working life has developed over the centuries, and puts the grind into perspective. It’s packed with insights into why we can slip into unhelpful patterns of thinking (hello monkey and lizard brains), and has plenty of advice on building a business that not only makes a profit but that will make you happy and allow you freedom.

Start With Why by Simon Sinek

Frequently top-billed on lists of business books, Start With Why has been aped and rehashed by so many, and for good reason. Simon Sinek differentiates leaders who focus on WHY they do what they do, as opposed to how, and with plenty of relatable examples it teaches you a different perspective, and the importance of this anchor when making decisions. His Ted Talk is also a great watch and a decent summary of the book.

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

A sociological look at what sends some businesses and ideas stratospheric, while others completely bomb – it’s whether they hit the tipping point. Malcolm Gladwell covers business and marketing, diseases, crime and everything in between, and it’s completely fascinating.

Setting The Table by Danny Meyer

I love Setting The Table, have read it multiple times and recommend it to everyone I speak to (when relevant, not in a weird way). Danny Meyer is a beautiful writer, and you can feel the passion and energy in every page, and the pain when things go awry. It champions the power of the experience rather than ‘just’ food, the importance of genuine hospitality, going above and beyond for each customer, being generous and letting whole cities then become your ambassadors.

Girl, Stop Apologising by Rachel Hollis

Rachel Hollis is upbeat, sweet and bubbly, but don’t let that deter you. She’s also determined that no-one should feel guilty about trying to build a business, and takes times to bust common excuses, give new behaviours to adopt and highlight skills, tips and tricks. She’s been called the modern day Oprah and female Tony Robbins, and she’s well worth a read if you need a kick to reach your potential.

Business For Punks by James Watt

Co-founder of Brewdog, James Watt is passionate, straightforward and has no time for ‘bullshit business plans’. Brewdog is about risk-taking, savvy marketing, authentic culture and constant creativity. Some of it feels a little arrogant, but so what, the insight into some of their campaigns is inspiring.

Do/ Story by Bobette Buster

We all need to have a story – when working with clients it’s one of the first things I want to know about them, and generally forms a key part of the social strategy. In this relatively quick read, Bobette Buster shows how to discover your story and shape it, in order to connect with your audience. There are plenty of examples, my fave being that of Californian chef Alice Waters, and her basket of strawberries.

Get Rich Lucky Bitch by Denise Duffield-Thomas

A little more ‘woowoo’ that some of the others, focused on belief, the universe and manifesting what you want. Whilst some of it is a little hippyesque for me, there’s some really useful insight into how we mentally stop ourselves from realising potential through lack of belief and self-sabotage. And Denise is pretty funny, always a bonus.

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How can restaurants use influencer marketing effectively?

influencer marketing
I’m currently sitting in my little home office with the rain absolutely thundering down outside, indulging in a little escapism by researching and making lists of influencers who would be great to work with on an upcoming restaurant launch. (I love it when work can be described as ‘escapism’!)

It’s a lovely job, to scroll through gorgeous Instagram feeds, and read well-written blog posts, picking who might be a good fit for the brand. It’s going to be big on coffee and have a vibrant healthy food offer, so there are some beautiful feeds that are relevant to those themes.

More natural than advertising, and with more predictable results than PR, the authenticity of influencer marketing can have an incredible effect on your sales, brand awareness, the success of your launch, and the perception of your brand. Influencers’ followers are engaged, niche and trusting. If your venue isn’t making the most of this resource you’re missing a trick, and it’s definitely worth getting your foot in the door. With the current challenges being faced by the hospitality industry, it can also be a really cost effective way of generating exposure for your brand. So how do you get going?

There are a few steps to go through before you start seeing your gorgeous dishes appearing across the internet, so tick these tasks off first:

What do you want from the campaign?

As with any marketing initiative, it’s crucial to know what it is you want before you start. More followers? Better engagement? Sales on a particular menu launch? By working out the goal you can make sure communication with your target influencers is accurate and informative, and they will be more likely to deliver the results you want.

Do I pay them?

Possibly. Everyone’s different, and depending on what you want you might be looking at sponsored content. If someone has to attend an event, shoot lots of photos, edit them, do a write-up, schedule their social posts etc, it’s time consuming. If they also have a huge audience, they may well charge for that and it could be £50 or £5000, or if we’re looking at Kardashian territory we’re into the millions.

It’s also very possible to work with influencers for no payment, but they might eat at your venue or come to a wine tasting, or another event on a comp basis, and be happy to post about it in return.


This bit can take time, but it’s really important to know the content of the influencers you’re targeting, to know what they do and don’t post about, and to be able to make an accurate judgement about whether they’d be a good fit.

For example, one in particular might not work well as part of a cocktail launch, but they might be perfect for an in-depth review of your steak offer and ethical meat supplier as part of a wider series of posts on more mindful eating.


Use your research and make sure you’ve read the about/contact pages of your target influencers if they have them, and approach them in the way they prefer. Be personal, explain why you’ve gone to them in particular, and why you think it would be a good fit.


Creating a hashtag is a good way to monitor all your mentions, and don’t forget to check all your metrics before, during and after. If you’re doing influencer marketing for the first time, do it in isolation so you can see the results clearly – e.g. don’t run a social competition in the same week(s).

If you’d like to chat about how to make influencer marketing work for your restaurant, get in touch!

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Managing Trip Advisor (the Wild West of restaurant reviewing)

Seen as everything from a useful resource, to a necessary evil to ‘Sh*t Advisor’, it’s not the easiest thing to manage as a restaurant owner. ‘Riddled with fakes and idiots’, with anyone able to write whatever they like, whether they even actually been in or not (see Marina O’Loughlin’s excellent rant about it here), and the ease at which it’s now weaponised by customers with a grudge, it’s hard to view it as a reliable source of information.

However, because your restaurant will have a presence there whether you set it up or not, it really pays to be on top of it and make it work for you as much as possible. Have a read below for a few things to be aware of that have become key for me over the years.

Keep your profile updated

This applies to all your comms, but make sure the information on your profile is accurate. If your menu changes every day, call the display one a sample menu so customers know it might be different on the day of their booking. Correct opening hours goes without saying.

Also use it to show off your food – add new photos when you have them. Customer photos will be there too unfortunately; they are almost always awful but by adding your own you can show that you have a great venue. If you don’t have the resource for this, hire someone to look after your digital presence, or keep it really simple.

Be consistent

You should reply to as many reviews as possible, both positive and negative. I tend to thank them for the their feedback, if it’s positive say we hope to see them again, and if negative address their points, apologise/defend as appropriate (more on this below).

Be personal

When responding to reviews, refer to something they’ve said – cookie cutter replies can look a bit lazy, whereas slightly more personal replies show you actually care about your customers. It can mollify someone who may have complained, and further enhances you in the eyes of someone who already thinks you’re great. Of course sometimes there isn’t scope for this, but worth bearing in mind.

Be polite

…but make sure readers know if you’re not at fault. If/when customers go to town on you, address their complaints, and apologise if they’re right and dispute it if they’re wrong. Gary Usher of Sticky Walnut in Chester is great at this, dressing down awful customers with finesse. If their complaint was a genuine mistake on your part, apologise. If they didn’t complain on the night but are very moany on TA, reference that. It’s all about showing other readers that yes you care, but you won’t be slagged off.

Don’t bother paying

I’ve never seen any particular benefit to paying for premium profiles or advertising. Perhaps the exposure is better, but I would suggest that there’s a raft of better ways to spend that money.

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How to brief a food photographer

food photography, aubergine
Content is king, we hear it all the time! And for food and restaurant marketers, a huge part of our content is beautiful, mouth-watering food photos to get your audience chomping at the bit to come and try it. With such drool-worthy food photos at every turn, it really does pay to get your menu or products shot regularly, and by an expert. So nail your photography brief and you’re halfway there!

It feels like briefing a photographer should be pretty easy – like so easy that why bother doing a blog post about it? But actually there are a few things to think about to make sure you get the best results, and to start building a great relationship with your photographer, and it’s actually surprising how many photographers don’t really get briefed at all.

Chatting to Food Envy Photography’s Tom Waller (and from my own experience!) food photography can be even more of a minefield than other shoots, and requires very specific planning and briefing. ‘I’ve been doing food photography for years, and have worked with lots of clients who aren’t quite sure exactly what they want from the photos, which can make it it difficult to deliver the exact results they’re looking for. It sounds obvious, but by really thinking about why you’re doing a shoot, as well as all the detail of the logistical aspects, it makes it much easier for everyone on the day and much more likely that we’ll get great results!’

Things to think about

Tom has a checklist he sends to clients before every job, to make sure everyone’s on the same page, and to iron out any potential issues before they arise – a really useful guide to bear in mind if you’re getting some shiny new pics done.

1. What’s your budget?

2. What’s the concept/style of shoot? (You should add any images or a mood board of brands/companies that are in the style you’d like to emulate)

3. Who is cooking (and/or supplying the food)

4. Who is styling the food?

5. Where is the shoot?

6. Who is propping the food? (And also supplying the surfaces, backgrounds, plates, knives, forks, raw ingredients for lifestyle shots etc)

7. How many shots/dishes/products/recipes are to be photographed?

8. How where do you want to use the images?

9. Which file format do you require?

10. When do you require the final images?

By nailing just these simple aspects beforehand, or at least having a good idea of each point, you can seriously up your chances of getting some amazing photos, and are much more likely to do the brand justice!

Have a look at Tom’s gorgeous photos and videos here.

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Instagram Stories for your business

instagram stories for business
You’ll more than likely have seen Instagram Stories whilst scrolling through your feed, and may well have got stuck into posting a few, tagging people and locations and using the ever-changing (and ever-entertaining) menu of gifs. But have you got a system for using them for your business?

Similar to Snapchat, Instagram Stories allow users to post temporary images and videos, that are displayed for 24 hours before disappearing (unless saved in ‘Highlights’ on your profile page). They work particularly well for restaurant and food businesses, because of the visual nature of the product, and the popularity of food porn on social media in general.

So while you may or may not have a solid social media strategy (if not, have a read about why it might be beneficial to get some help), it’s worth mastering Stories as it’s an engaging, fun way of getting seen – not to mention that Instagram has now surpassed 1 billion monthly unique users, so get a piece of the pie!

Stories are discoverable

…meaning people who aren’t following you can find them, so it’s a great way to get exposure to an audience who for whatever reason, may not come across your content in the feed. It all helps to expose your content to new potential customers.

Just add a hashtag to your story or tag a location, and experiment – you can see how many of your viewers have come via the hashtag/location.

If you have 10,000+ followers you can make use of the ‘swipe up’ feature, meaning viewers can go directly to your website, menu, event page, ticket page or wherever you want to send them, without extra steps in between.

Highlights add depth

Whilst Stories only last for 24 hours, you can extend their shelf-life by adding them to your profile. This means your beautiful creations remain there for all to see, and it also adds more opportunity for your visitors to engage with your content.

If you have a restaurant for example where you launch new menus, create a highlight for each new launch – it acts like an album, allowing visitors to see exactly what’s what.

Features provide opportunities

Features that can be used in Stories include countdowns (for openings, launches or events), music, polls and questions – all great for encouraging engagement, which is what we’re looking for on Instagram after all.

Tie it into your wider marketing strategy

If you’re working with influencers (if not, here are some tips), tie some stories into the agreed plan – you can then share, demonstrating social proof and increasing their reach.

If you’re hosting chef residencies, ask them to do a takeover for a day for a different perspective. There are lots of ways to utilise this fun, useful aspect of Instagram, flag it to your social media manager and they’ll do the rest!

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Food trends for 2019

food trends 2019
Part of what makes this industry so exciting is the fact that pretty much the only thing you can rely on is constant change. Each year, each season even, brings new food trends based on global inspirations, health issues, environmental concerns and a host of other influences.

So what will we be seeing more of over the next 12 months? Veggie and vegan of course, healthy gut foods, meaty mushrooms and creative frozen treats for starters. But also, a lot of the trends we’ve seen over the last couple of years are becoming real lifestyle changes, with veganism becoming still more widespread, and carnivores cutting down. And of course, everything will be as Instagrammable as possible…

Plant-based pandemonium

80% of chefs are planning to feature more vegan/raw dishes on their menus in the next few months, and veggies are getting more love all round, and veggie and vegan dishes are becoming distinctly more ‘meaty’, abandoning the notion of ‘rabbit food’ and all-salad diets.

The ‘Pegan’ diet is also gaining momentum, as a mash-up between vegan and paleo (Pinterest searches for ‘pegan diet’ are up 337%). The focus is on veg, with pulses included, and a small amount of meat is seen as a little extra element, rather than the main event.

Which ties into…

More great quality meat

Probably less of a trend and more of a movement, amazing-quality animal products with clear provenance. And while nose-to-tail is nothing new (have you been to St John or Flank?), we’re already seeing a lot more offal-based dishes around, as consumers get more adventurous and savvy about waste.

Superfoods (again)

Every year’s food trends predicts a new food superhero, and the rising stars for now seem to be those that are good for the gut. Kefir, kombucha and sauerkraut keep your microbiome in tip-top condition, and will be popping up on more and more menus.


With Pinterest searches up 64%, mushrooms are a serious contender for the best meat alternatives, with plenty of juiciness and flavour, and packed full of vitamins and minerals. I’m currently chucking some veggie pesto on mine, and grilling with taleggio – yum!

Frozen delights

We’ve seen rolled ice cream and matcha soft serve, and Whole Foods’ food trends analysis predicts that frozen treats will get even more creative, with avocado popsicles, hummous ice cream and more inspiration from desserts from around the world.

(Hold tight for the lowdown on this year’s Gelato Festival which I’ll be very involved with next year, and which highlights what real Italian gelato is. More info soon!)

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PR for small businesses

PR for small business
Recently I was asked (or I may have invited myself..) to help out with the Economy of Hours Weekender, by leading a couple of workshops for entrepreneurs on how to do PR for small businesses.
Economy of Hours is an awesome concept that allows small businesses to buy and sell their time and skills, swapping and helping others out for help in return. It’s a great idea, and allows those in the early stages of business to get the resources they need without the outlay of freelancers/agencies.
When you’re CEO, marketing manager, sales, finance, new business and every other role there is, it can be really hard to do your PR yourself, and agency costs are generally out of reach. While it can definitely feel like a minefield, there are lots of small steps you can take to get in front of press and reach the audience you need.
While it can definitely feel like a minefield, there are lots of small steps you can take I shared some hard-learned lessons (e.g. don’t make the ‘did you receive my press release’ call), some templates (for press releases and content calendars) and answered loads of good questions.
I hope it was all helpful for the attendees, and it was great for me to meet so many interesting people. Definitely check Echo out if you’re looking to swap some skills, they do some great things and the team is lovely!
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