I’ve been a little bit quiet on the old blog front recently because, to tell you the truth, I’ve just been swamped with work (which – as Simon Dalley says – is a good problem to have!) but I wanted to tell you about a fabulous event that I attended last week courtesy of Alder Grange School Sixth Form College in Rawthenstall.
As part of their Enterprise Week for Year 10 pupils, and representing GrowTraffic, I was lucky enough to be able to spend a morning with pupils as a business mentor, offering support and advice for their project on Tourism in Rossendale. Not only did I enjoy myself much more than I was expecting to, it was also really heartening to see such enthusiasm and dedication from all the students involved.
Why Were We Involved?
Last week, GrowTraffic received an email via the ever busy Rob Carder of the fabulous Valley at Work networking group fame; the email was originally from Mrs Hannam, one of the sixth form teachers at Alder Grange School, eagerly requesting assistance from any businesses in the Rossendale area who could offer any advice on tourism in the local area.
Now admittedly, on the face of it, it would appear that GrowTraffic – a Freelance SEO Consultancy – has nothing to do with tourism in Rossendale, so it’s a fair enough question to wonder why on earth we got involved, but my initial reason behind replying to the email actually had nothing to do with GrowTraffic, but was down to our involvement with AirBnB.
For those of you who have never come across AirBnB, it is an online platform that allows ordinary people to offer their spare room to anyone who might need accommodation, for a (usually budget) price. As we live in a rather large and dilapidated farm house, we have been letting our spare room out on AirBnB now for almost 18 months and it has been an amazing experience; we have met many interesting people from all over the world and supplemented our household income in the process.
We’ve also – as you might expect from two digital marketers – got rather good at manipulating AirBnB’s search algorithm to maximise our property’s exposure on the website, not to mention learned an awful lot about our local area and what’s available for tourists to see and do in Rossendale as a whole, all of which could be useful to someone studying tourism in Rossendale.
The Wider Brief
Hence, I offered my services to Mrs Hannam and she kindly sent me some further information on the project that the students would be undertaking as part of Enterprise Week; the brief was to form a tourism company that would offer holiday packages, trip advice and signposting services to travellers to the Rossendale area and the students would be expected to think about their target audiences and market their product accordingly.
Naturally, this was right up GrowTraffic’s street, so I volunteered my services and went along to offer what advice and support I could.
I’m not going to claim that all the students were the same, as you would expect, some were more engaged than others and some groups were more willing to accept help than those who were perhaps nearing the completion of their task. Nevertheless, by and large, the vast majority of students that I spoke to were more than happy to have a little additional help; they asked relevant and incisive questions and took on board the suggestions that I made.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by how eager the students were to learn and how willingly they had risen to the task of implementing their knowledge in a real-life scenario. Given that the majority of these students have only ever been in academic, exam based learning and will only ever have had a second hand experience of the world of work and/or business, if at all, it was great to see them embracing their new roles as Managing Directors, Company Secretaries and Marketing Managers.
Alder Geese Company
In particular, I was lucky enough to work with a group of students who had formed a mock business called Alder Geese Company (apparently, the goose is the unofficial school mascot, they even have them wandering around outside the sixth form building!), whose tag line was “Geese Lightening”. Genius!
Although I only met about half the group – the rest of them were off completing different tasks – they were all incredibly eager to show me everything that they had achieved so far and also to learn more about how best to put together and market their final presentation for the board. Their enthusiasm was infectious and the amount of thought and practical work that they had put into their project was outstanding, they even proudly presented me with one of their business cards and showed me their promotional merchandise, all of which had been designed by the team.
Overall, the brief was to form a mock tourism company for the Rossendale area, but within that the students had to put together a website, prospectus and leaflet, which both advertised/marketed the business to their target audience and showcased what the company had to offer its customers. In addition, they had to write a 5 minute presentation, which they would present to a board of judges at the end of the week, not to mention all the above merchandise that they had to design and make – all in a week!
Having only been given some very basic marketing theory at the beginning of the week, I was surprised by how well the students had thought about their target audiences and applied their business model to it, plus they had carried out all their own research on what was available to tourists in the local area. All I had to do was prompt with a few ideas and questions, no more.
Before I left, I was also lucky enough to have a brief chat with some of the tutors involved with setting up and running Enterprise Week, all of whom were equally as enthusiastic as the students! The consensus was that, although Enterprise Week was generally hard work for all concerned, the benefit that the students got from being taken off timetable for a week and tackling something completely different from their everyday studies was immeasurable, which made it all worthwhile.
In fact, one of the tutors told me that Enterprise Week was the week that the students “grew up”; having previously been involved in a couple of such projects myself, I can believe that.
The Benefit To GrowTraffic
Besides getting a morning out of the office, it was great to see the next generation learning about the world of business in a practical way and I was very glad that I had been able to help them, even if it was only a little bit. These days, with such stiff competition for post-graduate jobs, and such a growing need for employees with more than just experience of taking exams, schemes like these are exactly what students need.
And who knows, one of these students may even be coming to GrowTraffic for a job in the not-too-distant future, and they might just get one too!