TUBS2018: Digital strategies driving growth in rural economy

I am truly honoured to have been invited for a second year to present the outcomes of the Knowledge Transfer Partnership project at The Ultimate Business Show on the 18th April 2018.

In this article, I will give you a brief overview on the subject-matter of my seminar about how we have been able to transform the culture in a large traditional rural co-operative business in one year, how social media was the catalyst for change, the business implications and results.

What is the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP)

Some of you may be unfamiliar with KTP, so I will provide a brief introduction and background information about the program. For those who are aware of the project, please feel free to skip to the Overview section below.

The Knowledge Transfer Partnership is a programme between myself, ANM Group, the University of Aberdeen Business School and the Innovate UK. The aim of this project is to implement the use of knowledge, technology and skills to support the development of the group, a 144-year-old agricultural co-operative, through the integration of digital innovations in to the heart of their business.

ANM Group is one of Scotland’s most active and influential co-operative societies, ranking among the Top 25 co-ops in the UK. The group is highly diversified with interests in livestock, the land market, catering, hospitality, and commercial and industrial plant, machinery and equipment. You can visit their website to learn more about them here.

The University of Aberdeen Business School is internationally recognized for its excellence in world-leading research and was ranked as top three UK Universities for impact in Business and Management Studies in 2014. The University has been working towards improving their Digital presence and their online MBA prgrammes. To learn more about the university watch their video here.


Now, you are probably wondering what is so special about this project that we have been invited to present it at TUBS2018, I will give you a small clue to what the presentation and the rest of this article will talk about.

In the first year of the KTP project, we have managed to transform the cultural understanding about digital marketing and particularly the importance of Social Media (SM) within the organisation. SM plays a huge role in promoting businesses online and if you are not there you are probably missing out on opportunities. Currently on Facebook there are more than 70 million listed business pages.

Because of the impact of the KTP project and the hard work of many people, ANM Group Facebook influence grew significantly in the past year. To be precise, the project realized.

540% increase in people reached

420% increase in people engaged

330% increase in followers

35% increase in online sales

and more …

The Ultimate Business Show 2018 (TUBS2018)

At TUBS2018, the focus of my presentation would be on wider digital strategies, understanding customers, knowledge transfer and presenting the business results from the project.

If you are interested in learning more about the first steps on Social Media you need to take to achieve success or how to engage your audience, I will recommend you to check out my other article where I discuss them in more details, here or watch the video here.

Digital Strategies

Having strategic-planning processes has been the pillar of execution in many organisations. They serve as stepping stones and guides to where the organization wants to be in the future.

  • Planning

First step of effective strategies is coming up with the business objectives. In other words, what is the business trying to achieve. The business objectives should be clear, simple and specific.

However, following a static plan will not get you too far. Often plans fail when they face the complex nature of reality. Instead, an agile approach is usually more suitable, as companies need to respond to the changes in the environment as they are happening.

At TUBS2018 I will share the ways we have been approaching the changes in our project environment and adjusting our plans.

  • Understanding the Customers

There is no business that can exist without customers and users. Since 2015, focusing on the customer experience has been rated as one of the most exciting business opportunities to increase revenue and retention.

To understand well your customers, you need to put yourself in their shoes. Some of the techniques we used are creating customer profiles & journeys, make the most of your web and social media analytics (i.e. Google Analytics, Facebook Pixel, Twitter, LinkedIn Analytics and so on.), conducting interviews and focus groups.

Do your research and identify what you can do to add value and exceed customer expectations. Once you have identified a few opportunities it is time to start testing.

  • Testing

A common mistake among some businesses is that they start developing a new product/service without testing with customers first, only to find themselves spending too much money and time on something that doesn’t meet user expectations. Make sure you avoid this pitfall as it can cost you a lot.

When testing new concepts, it is important to test them as inexpensively as possible without revealing too much of your unique new idea.

You can even start your testing with a few mock-ups of the new product/service features on a piece of paper. Present them to some of your customers, believe me, the feedback you collect will be invaluable for the next stages of your project.

Keep records of everything you do, this way you can always learn from your experience and avoid doing the same mistake twice.

At TUBS 2018 presentation I will show some examples of the type of tests we conducted to identify future opportunities for ANM Group.

  • Executing

A plan without execution is worth nothing. Although, strategic plans paint a nice roadmap for CEOs’ and organisations to follow, some studies from Harvard Business School have found that two thirds of businesses struggle to implement the strategies.

Execution depends on multiple factors such as available resources, timescale, costs and more. The ways to execute strategies can differ a lot between companies, so it is up to you to find what works the best for you and learn what worked for other companies.

Knowledge Transfer

The Knowledge transfer is the most important outcome from the KTP project. In the past 18 months, we have been able to educate many people through workshops, 1 on 1 conversations and creating training courses.

This piece of work was the most important for shifting the business understanding of the impacts that Social Media can have. Because of this work there were employees in the organization who never used social media before, but after seeing the benefits they started taking videos, uploading content and even learnt how to use email newsletters.

On the 18th of April 2018 from 9:30am, expect to hear more on the previously mentioned topics and more from our successes and failures as part of the KTP project in association with ANM Group and the University of Aberdeen Business School.

Don’t miss it, we are looking forward to seeing you.

What is the future of the music industry?

It’s been a while since the last time I published a blog post. I know, I shouldn’t be giving any excuses, but going on holidays changes my daily routines. I do like to dive deep into the local culture and make the most of my time when I am on holidays.


Anyway, since I came back two weeks ago, I signed up for an exciting course on Digital Innovation, Marketing, and Leadership by Google Squared. This is my second week on the course and we are learning about digital disruption. In fact, we do need to write some posts which I am planning to share with you and I hope you enjoy them.

In this blog post, I will show you my research and thoughts on disruption in the music industry and what the future might bring us. I know some of you would probably think now that the future is uncertain. Guess what? You are correct!

In 21st century technology and trends change with the speed of sound in this case 😉 So after reading my blog, feel free to tell me what you think about the future of music industry in the comments section below.

Q1 What ongoing technological advancements can we expect to see in the music industry in next few years?

In the past two decades, the music industry has rapidly changed from cassettes to CD’s to online music stores to streaming music. The progress in this industry is unlikely to stop or slow down, in fact, it will continue growing exponentially in different directions. So, the question is what the future has prepared for us?

  • Streaming music

On demand and personalized music is the game. In 2014 more than 14.8bn tracks were streamed and the trend keeps growing, as in 2016 the streamed songs only in the UK were 44.9bn.

The trend is here to stay with disruptive companies such as Spotify and Sound Cloud being some of the leading disruptors of the music industry. In addition to that, streaming and live streaming has opened the door for many small artists to make it big. Platforms such as YouTube, Vevo and SoundCloud are places where such artists can start building audiences and gain popularity.

Even giants as Apple has experienced a drop in the demand for downloadable music from Apple Music Store. The company has strategically purchased the brand Beats by Dr. Dre to gain access to the streaming industry.

  • Cheap and personalized music on the go

With the advancement of technologies listening to music has never been easier and cheaper. There appears to be an abundance of music, which pushes the prices down and customers prefer to pay less for streamed music that they can tailor to their preferences.

Wireless headphones have been on the market for a while, but now that even Apple introduced their AirPods (wireless headphones), they gave another stir to this industry. Regardless of whether you are a fan of AirPods or not, the idea of having music wirelessly on the go is great, especially for the sports enthusiasts.

It is just a matter of time when headphones will no longer require additional devices to play music, instead, they will be directly connected to your Spotify or another streaming service. Thanks to personal assistants such as Alexa, Cortana or Siri you can choose your favorite songs on the go, book appointments and do calls through your headphones. This will be amazing for long distance runners and gym fanatics who wouldn’t want to carry extra stuff and weight.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is also growing. Thanks to personal assistants such as Alexa, Cortana or Siri you could choose your favorite songs on the go, book appointments and do calls through your speaker or headphones. Using AI in headphones could be an amazing opportunity for long distance runners, gym fanatics and anyone who wouldn’t want to carry extra stuff and weight.

Q2 How will this disrupt the current music industry?

The abundance of global music and artists will drive the prices so low that singers will need to concentrate on making money in alternative ways. Today, there is more financial value for an artist to perform live on festivals than selling their music through traditional channels.

Artists will have to rethink the ways to make money from their music and brands.Taylor Swift pulled her music from Spotify in 2014, as she felt music should not be free and that artists should have more power to decide what price their music should be. Recently, she put her music back on Spotify but this time she has more power to choose who can listen to it and when. This proves that music streaming platforms are still strong nd negotiations with artists are ongoing.

Streaming music will grow even further in the following years, as we are expecting the mobile internet to get to 5G in the next few years. This will allow for faster streaming and better quality. This could improve the live streaming of music and concerts.

The music industry has certainly been transformed forever in the past few years. We can only wait and see what the next big disruption will be in this industry. It will be interesting to see how the industry can adopt new technologies and find new revenue streams. Until then, enjoy your personalized music and ‘The show must go on’! 😉

P.S. I am looking forward to seeing your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.

Interesting questions from my Social Media Secrets seminar

Startup Stock Photos

In this blog post, I will share some of the interesting questions I received at my Social Media Secrets: Driving Growth in the Rural Economy Seminar at the Ultimate Business Show 2017 (#TUBS2017) on Wednesday 26th April.

My seminar at the North-East Business Week was a remarkable success. I was more than pleased to see so many people showing up. Thanks to everyone who came along and to those of you who followed up.

I am sharing a video of my presentation for those of you who didn’t have a chance to attend it. You can see the video on my Facebook page.

First, I want to say BIG thanks to the University of Aberdeen Business School, the ANM Group and the Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce teams for their support.

At the Business Show, I met so many like-minded business people and digital savvies. At the end of my seminar, I was asked some interesting questions which I am going to briefly share with you here. Please note that the following are just the topic areas, rather than direct quotations of the questions from the audience.

Q1: How important is it to understand your customers online? What are they interested in?

So far, I have never seen a business to operate without any customers. Regardless of whether you are in the Business to Business (B2B) or Business to Consumer (B2C), you always provide value to someone else. This fundamental concept should be the driving force of your marketing activities as well.

In a Digital Marketing Trends’ survey by Econsultancy and Adobe, 40% of the participants indicated that customer experience is the most important factor to differentiate you from competitors. A large part of participants also pointed that their marketing activities are focusing on customer experience.

There is no single approach to understanding your customers. I have used various techniques from interviews and surveys to analyzing digital behavior through Google Analytics, Social Media Analytics, and online mentions. Don’t forget to speak to your front-end staff (i.e. sales team), as they probably know your customers quite well.

Each of these techniques has a specific way of revealing customer needs. Keep an eye on my blog as I will expand on this topic in future and share some more tips on understanding your customers.

Q2: How did you start paid advertising? How much to spend on paid advertising?

Paid Social Media advertising has been rising in the past few years, with the focus being primarily on mobile. With some new advertising features and detailed reports, Facebook has become one of the top platforms to advertise directly to people based on their interests.

BE CAREFUL … Before you jump into deep waters, learn how to swim!

Do not start with paid online advertising, if you haven’t done your research on your customers, otherwise, you are risking wasting your money. Targeting the wrong audience would be like selling an ice cream to an Eskimo.

Once you have explored the characteristics of your current community and audience, you can start testing. You can use non-paid videos on Facebook to see what type of people are watching them. Collect their demographics, location, engagement and interests. Once you analyze the data from different posts, you will start recognizing what works and what doesn’t.

Next, you can start testing different online paid advertising techniques on a low budget. You can start as low as £2 per day, but do not expect big results for such a low budget.

Always collect the results and compare them against each other to learn what works. Please note that Facebook Paid advertising campaign is different from boosting a post. The campaign gives you much more options and specifications based on who you want to reach. To set up such campaign you will need a Facebook Business Manager Account.

This has been just a brief description on how to approach paid advertising on Facebook. I will expand this topic in one of my future blog posts. Sign up to my newsletters to receive updates once the blog post is published.

Q3: How to create a relevant and engaging content?

Creating relevant and engaging content is one of the top priorities for most of the marketers. In 2016, at least 90% of marketers wanted to master their tactics and engagement skills.

The trends in 2016, clearly show that more than 74% of Facebook advertisers were using a visual type of content to promote on Social Media.  I believe that video content will get much more attention in 2017 due to changes in Facebook algorithms.

To stay relevant and engaging, you need to understand well your audience. Make sure you understand their pain points and what they are interested in. For example, when I was broadcasting live our outdoor events, our audience was sending me comments about how happy they are to watch it live from home instead of being under the rain.

The magic formula to create relevant and engaging content is to be creative and test different techniques. Always monitor your progress and learn from your mistakes and successes.

Q4: How do you keep track of your performance?

According to the Socialmediaexaminer’s report, 86% of marketers want to understand how to measure better their Return On Investment (ROI) from Social Media activities.

The ROI depends on your business objectives, but there are certainly some tools out there that can help you with relevant stats. When you try to measure the performance, it is good to start thinking backward from the end goal.

For example, I want to grow my email list. To get more subscribers I need to provide more valuable content on my blog. Once I have the content, I need people to read it, therefore I am promoting it on Social Media. As I am promoting it I can keep track of how many people click on the links, visit my page and read my blog. I am using various analytical tools including Google URL Shortener, Facebook Page Insights, Facebook Audience Insights, Google Analytics and Google Search Console.

There are some additional tools that I am using as well, but I will discuss them in another blog post. If this is something you are interested in, please subscribe to my mailing list so I can inform you when I publish it.

To sum up

The main questions after my presentation at #TUBS2017 were around understanding customers, paid advertising, engagement and measuring performance.

There were many other questions that I was asked after my seminar on Wednesday, but these are the few that I will talk about in my next blog posts.

If there are any other burning questions on Social Media and business development that you would like to read about, please leave me a comment below, or send me an email. I will make sure to answer them.

If you have any questions related to your business I will be happy to discuss them with you. Just send me an email at info@kostadinsorchev.com.

Social Media Secrets: Driving Growth in the Rural Economy

A few weeks ago, I was invited by Dr. Ian Heywood from the University of Aberdeen Business School to be a presenter at the North East Business Week on the 26th April 2017 at the Aberdeen Exhibition Conference Centre (AECC).

As part of my 30-min seminar slot at the Ultimate Business Show 2017, I will have the opportunity to demonstrate the disruptive power of Social Media in a rural business.

At my job as a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) Associate at the ANM Group and the University of Aberdeen, I am working on using social media in support of business development. The early results of my work clearly show how Digital Marketing can add value to any rural businesses in Scotland.

In only 6 months at the ANM Group, we have reached more than 2 million people on Facebook, more than 173,000 of them engaged with us through likes, comments, messages and shares of our posts. On top of that, we increased the Facebook Fans base by 86% (4,450 unique users). All these efforts contributed to a 71% increase in items purchased through the online auction in comparison to last year.

In my seminar slot at 11 am on Wednesday 26th April 2017 at AECC, I will share the techniques and secrets behind this success. Moreover, I will reveal how we captured 25,000 video views in a day, without spending a single penny!

During my seminar, I will also discuss other areas such as:

Business concerns

In my experience, I faced some of the most common business concerns and miss-conceptions in the field such as our audience is not on social media, we are a serious business or what are the benefits to the business?

Unfortunately, a large number of Small and Medium – sized Enterprises (SME) do not see the potential for Return On Investment (ROI) from Social Media marketing.

In fact, only 41% of marketers in SME organizations are aware of how to measure the ROI. Measuring ROI requires careful designing of tactics, engagement, tracking and analyzing the right data.

On Wednesday, I will share with you how we track our performance at the ANM Group.

First Steps in achieving Social Media Success

Social Media success can differ significantly from business to business and there are different ways to achieve it.

First, you would need to identify your business goals and objectives. Good business objectives should be clear, simple and specific. Don’t be afraid to push yourself to think big and visualise where you want to be in future. This vision will be your destination goal and support when building Social Media strategies.

Second, make sure you conduct a Social Media audit. This audit should cover your current online presence, how much of it you control and who is responsible for it. The audit will determine which channels are performing better for your business and what is your audience profile (i.e. demographics, location and interests).

I believe that linking the online campaigns and activities to the business goals the most important task and one of the top 3 marketers challenges along with measuring ROI and developing strategies.

During the seminar, I will share how we approached these issues at the ANM Group.


Around 80% of marketers identify engagement (such as likes, comments, shares etc.) as one of the most important measurements for Social Media success.

Engagement is where you need to be truly creative and grab the limited attention span of people on Social Media. This is also the stepping stone to building community and loyal customers.

I have worked closely with the ANM Group IT and Marketing teams to try different techniques for engaging our audience, such as creating competitions, online conversations, and live videos.

I have found some techniques work better than others, as each campaign serves a different purpose. A few examples of campaigns we created were brand awareness through paid advertising or leading people from Facebook onto our website and then ibidder online auction. Once the people visit the online auction system, they have the option to purchase items from us.


Videos are becoming the most popular way of delivering information to your audience. Facebook with more than 8 billion daily video views is the leading Social Media video platform, followed by YouTube and Snapchat.  Facebook reached this position by setting their algorithm to prioritize videos and even boost live videos.

A common concern among companies and marketers is that videos are expensive and difficult to produce. In my presentation, I will share with you how we addressed this challenge and delivered engaging videos, which have driven up our social media activities.

My key tips

Digital Marketing is a dynamic process which requires continuous learning. Social Media platforms change their algorithms almost every week.

For an SME, it is really important to understand its’ customers and develop an understanding for their online behaviour by using the Social Media analytics and Google Analytics. After all, delivering value to customers is what keeps your business alive.

Strategies and tactics play a significant role in achieving online success. To identify the right tactics a lot of trial and error is required. Luckily, Social Media gives you the option to delete or edit some of your mistakes. But make sure you measure the impact of everything!

Talk to your audience like a real person and not a robot. Interacting with your audience is vital, be their friend and they will love you back.

How to find out more?

To find out more about my work with the ANM Group and the University of Aberdeen, please come along to the seminar at the Ultimate Business Show on the 26th April 2017 from 11 am at Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre.


Acknowledgement: I would like to say a big thank you to everyone at the ANM Group, the University of Aberdeen and the KTP team who have taken part in this project. Without all your support and involvement, I would not have been able to achieve these results.