Would you love to have an influencer like Mrs Hinch rave about your pet business?
If the answer’s yes, then you will LOVE this chat with Vicky Gunn from Millie’s Beach Huts who had the Queen of Clean visit.
While you might think Vicky was ‘lucky’ and of course she was, having the message from Mrs Hinch was thanks to EIGHT years of hard work.
Vicky’s two businesses, Millie’s Beach Huts and Millie’s Pet Services, have had tonnes of publicity in that time.
She’s been featured in newspapers, magazines and websites all over the world, and as well as Mrs Hinch, she’s currently on BBC2 with Alan Carr’s Interior Design Masters.
In this episode she shares her tips on attracting interest from journalists and influencers plus the common pitfalls to avoid.
You can listen on the player link below or continue reading as a blog post.
Eight years ago Vicky was an accountant sat on a beach with her Springer Spaniel Millie, whiling away an afternoon.
Then she spotted some beach huts were for sale, and by the end of the week she’d bought one and Millie’s Beach Huts was born.
Vicky now runs her beach hut hire company and Millie’s Pet Services, a pet shop and groomers in Carnoustie, Scotland.
Vicky says she took things step by step when she began her beach hut business.
“I started with just a Facebook page, and the first beach hut was in Walton-on-the-Naze in Essex,” she said.
“At the time, there were very few beach huts for hire in the area.
“I spent the first five months creating content on Facebook and getting advice on what people would like to see in the beach hut, decor, and so on.
“Then, I had a basic website built, and began blogging.”
Vicky says blogging and content marketing propelled the business
“I did a lot of blogging and content marketing in the beginning,” Vicky recalls.
“My first blog was five things to take to the beach hut and over the next two years, I wrote a lot more.
“I did a 90-day challenge where I wrote 50 blogs and they still serve me well now.
“They are the blogs that get found on Google, and the ones that are discovered by journalists and influencers who then approach me.
“This shows that evergreen content works, I don’t blog very much at all now.”
Vicky’s advice to anyone on the fence about content marketing is to make a start, and keep at it
Vicky says: “You have to practise something to get better at it.
“If you don’t produce that first blog, and then get some feedback on it or get a little bit of help, then what else do you do?
“There are lots of people in the beach hut space doing great things on Instagram and Facebook.
“And you can see that their social media is good. But none of them are doing any content marketing.’
“If you’re creating blog content and answering people’s questions, then you’re one step ahead.”
Blogging has helped Vicky secure amazing publicity
Over the years Vicky’s businesses have been featured in Essex Life, The Sunday Times, The Daily Mail, and Forbes, to name a few.
In the past year, she has been in House Beautiful magazine and Millie’s Beach Huts are on Interior Design Masters with Alan Carr.
Each one is thanks to her blog. She said: “I’ll get a phone call, out of the blue, or I get an email, I’m like, ‘whoa, how did that happen?’
“And it’s normally because they found my blog, and they’ve been on my website.”
Vicky says being featured in the media helps build her authority
She explains: “The press acts as evidence that we’re an authority.
“Customers who stay at our huts love it, there’s an element of keeping up with the Joneses, so when they can say they’ve stayed at the huts that have been featured, that’s great!
‘When an article goes out, I don’t see an immediate increase in Facebook followers or Instagram.
“I don’t see a massive boost in traffic on my website. But it’s another direct link back to my website that improves my SEO rating.
“And it gives me evidence that I can use and share. Press may not immediately result in hundreds of thousands of sales or a million new followers.
“But it puts you in front of people, so when they’re ready to buy, they’re more likely to come to you.”
THAT booking with Mrs Hinch
One Sunday morning, Vicky received a message on Instagram from Sophie Hinchcliffe, enquiring about booking a hut.
She was stunned and says Mrs Hinch was utterly lovely and insisted on paying for the trip her family and Henry the Cocker Spaniel.
Vicky said: “It’s important to understand the connection between somebody who’s a true influencer, who has a community behind them that will buy off the back of their recommendations.
“There are lots of influencers out there with huge followings. But if they post something that means nothing to their followers, then they’re not going to buy.
“When Mrs Hinch posted, the response was huge. Our Instagram followers went over 10,000 really quickly.
“I had so many questions and my website crashed within 30 minutes.
“Myself and one of my team were on Instagram solidly for the whole two days afterwards. It was just incredible.”
Getting started with working with influencers
Vicky has collaborated with influencers right from the start of having Millie’s Beach Huts and has had mostly good experiences.
She’s worked with pet bloggers, mummy bloggers, parenting influencers and Mrs Hinch.
Her advice to petpreneurs considering collaborations is to have a clear agreement in place at the start.
She explains: “With the huts, it’s a blog or a vlog in return for a free stay at one of the beach huts.
“This is because a blog will give a link back to my site which is great for SEO.
“People can discover the huts via search and an evergreen review which will last far longer than any social media post.”
Vicky’s advice is to have a process in place
Each year she allocates a number of days to invite bloggers and influencers to try her huts and share their experience.
She urges people to choose carefully and not be dazzled by numbers.
Vicky says: “Have a process in place. Don’t get carried away.
“You will get approached by people wanting things for free and it can be awkward saying no.
“It’s important find people that are genuinely not just trying to grow their following but that have an interest in blogging or vlogging.
“So have a process, test it and tweak it. When you’re approached, share the process.
“Simply say, ‘This is what we do. If you want to work with us, then this is how we work at the moment.’
“And this will mean it’s a positive experience for everyone involved.”
Want to learn more about Vicky?
You can find out more at www.milliesbeachhuts.co.uk/
Check out her grooming and pet shop business at www.milliespetservices.co.uk
You can follow Millie’s Beach Huts here: www.instagram.com/milliesbeachhuts
And Mille’s Pet Services here: www.instagram.com/milliespetservices
Read about Mrs Hinch’s visit on the OK website: Mrs Hinch Family Beach Holiday
If you found this podcast inspring and would like to read more about pet business owners who have secured media coverage and had success with influencers, you might enjoy Kim O’Donnell – from being invisible to having a global accessory brand and Karen Boyce on how she secured 30 pieces of coverage in a year.