When North Canterbury women, Marina Shearer and Tracey Topp
heard of the urgent crisis in Christchurch after the February 22nd earthquake, they wondered what they could do to help. For the past 5 years Marina and Tracey have journeyed together into the world of online marketing and websites. Together they have attended training sessions, questioned and helped each other over the hurdles to having two successful online businesses. Marina, who is also a specialist customer service trainer and motivational speaker set about offering her services for free to Christchurch businesses that perhaps might be looking for an alternative way to keep their business running after the recent disaster. A seminar was organised and promoted as “A Web Solution – could it be the answer to some of your problems?”
Marina’s core online business, RhodoDirect began as a garden centre that relied initially on gate sales. Marina made the decision to move her business further by going from a general garden centre to a specialist Rhododendron nursery and by opening an online shop three years ago. Now RhodoDirect has become nationally very well known. Marina was not sure if a website would help her business. “I had been told that Rhododendrons would never sell online, and that my target market would not be websavy, the nay sayers were wrong – we have a fantastic online business www.rhododirect.co.nz that is growing from strength to strength every month.”
Marina enlisted the help of her good friend, Tracey Topp whose business, Cosy Toes
, began 6 years ago retailing merino wool socks for children. Tracey’s rural location and young family meant she was able to market a product that she saw had dropped off the shopping radar. Cosy Toes has a strong national customer base and ever growing international customer base. Tracey is never short of marketing ideas and knows the value of her businesses point of difference in an increasing competitive market. “The seminar was a great opportunity to let other businesses know that having a business primarily using the internet can be profitable if you work at it. I enjoyed sharing some of my knowledge of what is working for me,” Tracey says. Cosy Toes was the South Island winner for the Enterprising Rural Women’s award in 2010 and has a strong following on Facebook which Tracey says has been an exciting new addition to incorporate into her business.
Two other speakers also volunteered their expertise on the day. Deborah Roberts of Indigo Marketing presented a section on Facebook/Twitter for businesses and Geof Franks presented his ideas on selling online without a website.
18 Christchurch based businesses attended the seminar which was held recently in May. Kirsten Taylor who owns company KJD Brewing Ltd based in Christchurch said, “The course was fabulous. I got such a lot out of it. It was altogether a totally memorable and informative day. It was probably the best course on any work related topic I’ve ever been too. “