When Aynsley Evoli first started The Fresh Herb Salt Company in the early 2000s, digital marketing was also in its infancy. Since then, Aynsley has built a loyal following with people who appreciate the fresh flavour of her Italian inspired, Norfolk made fresh herbs and sea salt. However, she felt she had not kept pace with digital marketing’s evolution, particularly social media, and was keen to upskill.
The 2020 lockdown was challenging for many micro-businesses. However there was a silver-lining for Aynsley and other artisan food producers. “We had just relaunched in 2019 so it could have been a disaster”, she explains, “but, thankfully, farmers markets were allowed to stay open and that proved to be a great opportunity for us to get our brand out there and to meet new customers.”
Unlike mass produced herb salts, Aynsley only uses fresh herbs in different combinations to suit different recipes. “The salt is both a preservative and a flavour enhancer, so you get that really fresh flavour sensation. This proved to be very popular with people, particularly during lockdown when so many people were experimenting with home baking and cooking.”
When the restrictions lifted, the farmers markets saw a bit of a slowdown but by then Aynsley had started selling refills online and decided to do some digital training. “I started with Norfolk County Council’s free Go Digital service. That provided professional marketing advice and a small grant for new website photos.
“Next, I secured some lockdown-recovery funding from the New Anglia Growth Hub to develop my online shop, which uses Shopify. I was keen to do more to promote this, because remote selling means I can build a much larger audience. Also, I do not want to depend on retail outlets because that cuts my margins.”
Scaling up skills with Anicca Digital
Then, in August 2022, Aynsley got an email about the Skills Bootcamps organised by New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership for people in Norfolk and Suffolk. These training schemes receive funding from the Department for Education as part of its ‘Skills for Life’ campaign. As such, they are free to individual learners, particularly the self-employed, and are heavily subsidised for micro-businesses and SMEs.
“As soon as I saw the Digital Marketing Skills Bootcamps, run by Anicca Digital, I had to apply – and I am so glad I did. It was a brilliant course and has been invaluable to my business. Anicca Digital’s professional tutors are not only knowledgeable and excellent presenters, they are also friendly and supportive.
“The course runs for 12-weeks, with a full day online every Wednesday, and covers all the major social media platforms, as well as topics such as website SEO optimisation. The social media angle attracted me because it focuses on building your brand. However, the tutors also added value with general business advice around running an online business, earning trust and attracting and retaining customers.”
Aynsley admits the course was challenging. “I did wonder if I would be good enough. It’s intensive – there’s a lot of work outside the online classroom – and you have to really commit to it.
“Thankfully the tutors set out exactly what you will learn and guide you through the process. They are also always being willing to answer questions that are relevant to your business. As a result, I feel I have learnt a huge amount and have already applied that learning to my own company.
“Now I just need to prove how much I have learnt by sitting and passing the exam,” says Aynsley, who is currently revising hard. “It’s worth it because you gain a professional Level-5 qualification from the Digital Marketing Institute. Thankfully the Anicca Academy is an incredible resource, with lots of useful free content including webinars, that enables you to go back and watch recordings of all the lessons.”
Aynsley has also become a bit of an advocate for Anicca Digital. “I think their courses are ideal for people running small business looking to build a brand and drive online sales. I have been recommending this particular course to people I know through the farmers markets and other networks.”
Thank you Aynsley for sharing your experience of Skills Bootcamps – and good luck with the exam. If you want to find out how you can upskill yourself or your team, check out our list of Skills Bootcamps for people in Suffolk and Norfolk. If you have any questions, please email our Skills Broker, Bev Wallman, at [email protected]