Case Study: Brand Photo-Shoot in Bristol | Christina Jones
Ambitious | Optimizing | Professional
Blacktype Digital works with ambitious business owners who are looking to grow their impact, revenue & customer base by sending them more leads & helping convert those leads into raving paying fans. They do this with digital advertising, either by training your team, managing the process for you or helping with developing your strategy.
Christina is the founder & managing director at Blacktype Digital. A life long equestrian, she’s been involved in digital marketing since 2001. She’s a Google Adwords qualified professional and one of the first in the world to hold the new Certified Digital Marketing Professional award (pretty impressive stuff ey?)
Q&A with Christina
Christina, what inspired you to start your business?
I grew up in a family of business owners - both my parents & grand-parents had their own businesses. So I was always fascinated with the process of business, as a young child I had lots of little money making projects on the go. However I was someone who really shone academically & at the time, entrepreneurship wasn’t as high profile as a career choice as it is now, so I was channeled down a more traditional career path. I went to university to study Veterinary Science & from the start, wasn’t sure if it was what I wanted to do. I really wasn’t enjoying my studies & as a distraction, I decided to spend my student loan on buying a horse. With a 40 hour a week lecture time table & unpaid work placements in the holidays as part of the course, I had to find a way to quickly earn more money to pay for the horse & myself. So I started selling end of line horsey fashion on Ebay, realised I enjoyed it far more than uni & so a career in digital marketing was born!
What is unique about your business/approach that you would like everyone to know about?
I have a lot of experience in business - starting out in 2001 with an ecommerce store (still trading today), I’ve also operated a high street retail store, been a shareholder in tech startups, a children's publishing company plus my digital agency. That’s 16 years of hard worn experience.
There is a huge amount of bullshit in the online consulting space - people who have been in business for a matter of weeks setting themselves up as business coaches & endless promises of easy ways to earn 6 (or even 7 figures) online. It can be really dangerous to get sucked into these false promises. When you have run your own business with staff, physical premises, inventory, business taxes etc. it gives you a much rounder view of allthe aspects that go into a successful business & level of overhead and risks compared to a single individual working from home as the latest guru. In a nutshell, don’t believe everything you read on the internet….
On a more positive note, over the years I’ve developed my own marketing system, the ACES Method™ which allows businesses to generate sales in a non-sleazy way by educating & relationship building with the people they’d like to become customers.
This is where my veterinary education comes in useful - although there is always some shiny new toy in digital marketing, we’re all working with the human brain, which hasn’t changed much in over 200,000 years!
Finally, I take a lot of pride in my reputation for making digital marketing easy to understand, accessible & most importantly profitable for businesses. I love fusing art & science because you need to be creative and very analytical in my role. Plus I get to work with awesome people, in fabulous locations around the world and help great businesses get even better. I love my job!
What are you currently working on or towards?
Last year was a rough year for me. I’ve always been incredibly close to my mother & she was my biggest inspiration in business & life in general. She’d grafted all her life & was just starting to enjoy semi-retirement & really following her passion for art. One Friday afternoon last September she walked out of my office at 4pm on a Friday afternoon & was dead 2 hours later from a huge stroke at the age of 60. It’s made me totally re-evaluate my work-life balance. I’m determined to work fewer hours, travel more and leave a much bigger impact from my work & ultimately time on this planet. As a result I’ve been growing my team so I can spend more of my time working on digital products & speaking so I can share the ACES method with a wider audience at a more accessible price point.
I’ve also been busy with an aggressive growth plan for the Equine Business Association. My biggest passion in life is horses & the global equine industry is huge. But it’s ignored by mainstream business media, perhaps because it’s typically rural based and so hidden away. Equine business owners often feel very isolated & lonely in their business, hence the concept of the Equine Business Association which offers community support, networking & sector specific online training. It’s a huge amount of fun to be in start-up mode again and not feeling under pressure in the same way as with client projects. Plus it combines my love of horses & digital!
What is your advice to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Build an amazing support team. Entrepreneurship can be a tough and lonely road and there will be some rough moments. Having support from your work team & in your personal life is how you get through it. This year I’ve invested in mindset coaching & have also been part of the Entrepreneurial Spark business accelerator program which puts a huge emphasis on getting business leaders in the right headspace.
The other thing is not to get so busy with business you forget to live life too!
Who have been some of the mentors/key people who are instrumental to your success?
Gosh this could be a long list! I wouldn’t be where I am now without my mother, she influenced me as a person & a business leader.
I read a huge amount so am influenced and inspired from the legends in business all the time. That said, I’m also a big believer in finding the right person at the right time for a specific situation. In the last 12 months, Mark Whitehand has got me over my fear of online video & inspires with his commitment to living life on his own terms. Emma D’Arcy is a trusted friend and advisor. She’s my business bestie & always at the end of the phone to talk through ideas & challenges, despite having her own busy marketing consultancy & a new baby. The Entrepreneurial Spark team have got to be mentioned, Matt West has opened up his little black book of contacts to facilitate introductions whilst Olly Reid & Andy Jackson have kept my head in the right place for fast growth & asked challenging questions to help the growth happen. Plus you can’t fail to be inspired by being surrounded by such an amazing bunch of people who make up the other business owners in the program. Never be the smartest person in the room if you want to grow; there’s no danger of that happening at Entrepreneurial Spark!
Why did you choose to "get creative" with Visuable?
I knew that to achieve my business goals I had to step from behind the scenes of working with clients & be much more visible. To be visible, you need photos and preferably great photos!
I decided to work with Lidia & her team after seeing them “behind the scenes” because we’re all based in the same office space in Bristol. Even before I looked at the creative portfolio, it was clear that Visuable was a business that was getting great results & growing quickly with an impressive client base. I loved the overall “vibe” from the team and because I was nervous about stepping in front of the camera, it was really important I was comfortable with the people behind the camera.
How would you describe the process/experience?
Working with Visuable was a blast. I had a really tight timetable & a specific brief for the sort of shots I needed, which Lidia totally delivered on. Despite my initial reservations about getting in front of the camera, it turned into a fun afternoon & I was delighted with the results.
What are the one or two key things you've learnt from working with us?
To trust the process - at one point we were in a really busy coffee shop & I felt very self-conscious because of the public nature of the shoot. Lidia told me to trust her & that the shots would be great so I needed to listen, take direction & smile. They ended up being my favourite images.
What responses or results have you received from your new brand images so far?
I’ve had overwhelmingly positive feedback about the images. My business has grown a huge amount over the last 12 months & now I have images which better reflect where it is now. I’ve got some really exciting speaking engagements coming up over the next couple of months so it’s great to have some new headshots to provide to event organisers for their PR campaigns.
Where can we find you online?
Now that your new visual brand identity/website is launched...what's next for you?
Lots more speaking engagements, launching some new training courses on Facebook & Google advertising for the Digital Aces Academy & expanding the Equine Business Association to offer even more for members!
Are there any last pieces of advice you'd like to share?
Calm, forward, straight. It’s a mantra for horse riders but applies perfectly to business too. Whatever is thrown at you, stay calm, keeping moving forwards & stay focused in a straight line towards your goal.