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North of Tyne scheme provides national platform for Northumberland SMEs

A North of Tyne funded programme which launched over a year ago to support Northumberland based SMEs emerge from the pandemic finished on a high after supporting nearly 300 businesses to get their business online. 

Published: 07 December 2021

Thanks to the Northumberland Covid Business Response Programme (NCBRP) and digital Marketing experts, The Allies Group, millions of online users became potential customers for Northumberland based businesses.

NCBRP was a service launched for businesses that had been adversely affected by Covid. The Project was funded by the North of Tyne Combined Authority and delivered by Advance Northumberland on behalf of Northumberland County Council and the Northumberland Business Hub, the programme was split into two elements, Digital Advantage and Business Advantage.

As part of the Digital Advantage element of the programme, businesses were able to work with industry experts to build an online ad campaign across either Google or Facebook. The advertisement was a real lifeline to businesses during a time where businesses were forced to move online to continue to deliver their services as we all as keeping engaged and at the forefront of customers minds throughout closures.

The funding also allowed for businesses who may have not had the budget to set aside for marketing to capitalise on the support and use this as an opportunity to promote or try paid advertising without affecting their revenue.

Working collectively to support businesses across the County, Allies Group and the team behind NCBRP at Advance Northumberland, delivered and managed 150 digital marketing campaigns across Google and Facebook on behalf of Northumberland based SMEs. Of the paid ads, 90 were deployed on Facebook and 60 on Google.

The fully funded campaigns which were valued at £1,000, £500 of that money going directly on the advertising spend across social media, reached not only an impressive amount of people online, but also enabled businesses to increase their turnover during difficult times.  

Chris March, CEO of Allies Group says " Allies Group were extremely proud to play our part in supporting 150 businesses across Northumberland at an unprecedented time in the UK's history. The NCBRP programme was an overwhelming success and provided a lifeline to SME's throughout the county, we supported businesses who were losing hope of ever recovering from the onslaught of the global pandemic and opened up a world of new opportunity for them through the power of online advertising"  

Although the businesses that received the support came from various sectors, Retail, Hospitality & Leisure businesses dominated the support received with 43% of campaigns. The lockdowns over the last 2 years meant the industry was struggling, with closures and uncertainty around how the industry would bounce back.

Hospitality businesses that took advantage of the support are now not only experiencing a fully booked winter 2021 but bookings right up into 2023. As well as other sectors including Business to Business services, Life Coach/Business Consultancy, Creative and Health & Well Being have all seen either an increase on sales/services and/or have used the funding to build brand awareness due to the success of the online advertising for these local businesses.

In total the ads collectively generated over 18 million impressions, the total number of times the content is displayed, this means that 1 in 4 people in the UK saw one of the ads displayed on their social media over the past year, It is remarkable for any small business to be able to reach that volume of potential custom and demonstrates the powers of online advertising.

With the support of the Allies Group and Advance Northumberland, businesses were able to trial out digital marketing campaigns at no cost to their business in a time where marketing budget had dropped in priority for businesses and reach a combined audience of over 18 million people online

Lara Mellor of Lara Mellor Training and Consultancy, who is a Microsoft Office Trainer said “I had been reluctant to use Google Ads as I felt that my return on investment wouldn’t make it viable. The Allies Group Team proved me wrong! Not only did the traffic to my website increase tenfold during the period the ad was running but I also had several new enquiries which almost certainly came from the adverts created. One of these converted to a sale so the ad would have paid for itself. This is certainly something I would consider in the future as part of my marketing strategy to improve brand awareness and increase revenue.”

Not only were businesses support by Allies Group but could also reap the benefit of fully funded workshops from Business Northumberland to further their development and learn more about how they can continue to use digital marketing campaigns as part of their marketing plan.

Business Northumberland provides support to small and medium enterprises across the North East who are looking to sustain and grow their business online. The fully funded support programme is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Advance Northumberland, so there is no cost to eligible businesses when accessing the support.

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