Local Business Attracts International Interest

Local Entrepreneur and St Helens Chamber Member Annie Lawrenson is attracting clients from the other side of the world with her unique approach to communication, thanks to St Helens Chamber.

Her graphic design business has seen an increase in commissions after she revamped her website and marketing strategy with help from the Business Growth Programme.

Annie said: “CommunicArt creates doodles with meaning and purpose. Organisations engage with us if they have a particular message they want to give to staff or customers in a visual way. “I will go along to a business event or meetings, and record the communication that goes on in a visual way.

“Companies end up with a large piece of paper with lots of cartoons and doodles and key messages which is very different to the way they would normally record the meeting, with someone taking minutes.”

Annie has been on an interesting journey that led her to a career in running a graphic recording business. She had always enjoyed being creative but didn’t expect that she would be able to make a living from it.

She said: “I always had a passion for art, drawing and illustration so knew I needed to go to Art College. After I left college, I couldn’t find a job in the industry, but needed to earn a living so entered the world of work.

“I didn’t do any visual art personally or professionally for 15 years, I started working in the voluntary sector and I was doing a lot of training with board members and volunteers.

“I always found it easy to learn through having something visual in front of me, so I would draw a summary of what we had gone through in the training.

“After some encouragement, I started doing a bit more for people who had their own businesses but didn’t know it was something I could take further. I listed myself as a ‘professional doodler’ on Linked In and was offered some work and that’s how I stumbled across the world of graphic recording.”

Annie had been aware of St Helens Chamber for some time and, knowing she needed advice on how to grow her business and attract customers through the website, got in contact.

She was then referred to the Business Growth Programme where Helen Morris, a dedicated adviser, carried out a full review of the business before putting in place a detailed action plan, which incorporated 12 hours of fully funded support from a mentoring specialist. Annie said: “I was six months down the line and it felt natural to pick up on the phone to the Chamber, I knew they would help me and it’s been really valuable.

“Before I started the Business Growth Programme, I thought I just needed some help with the website, but when I talked it through with my adviser it became clear I needed to rethink the marketing strategy.

“Helen and I went through the whole purpose of marketing and looking at who are my customers and who I am targeting. The messages I was giving on the website were confusing so we’ve done a bit of work developing that.

“Going through the Business Growth Programme has given me a better understanding of marketing and communication and has de-mystified social media and building an online presence.”

The future is looking promising for CommunicArt, which is now attracting international customers through social media.

Annie said: “Hopefully I will get a lot more work and I can honestly say that’s already started to happen. We’ve had communication from a customer in Australia who’d seen some tweets, loved the work and wanted something similar.”

Funded by the European Regional Development Fund and St. Helens Council, St Helens Chamber’s Business Growth Programme is designed to help businesses operating in the B2B sector who want to grow and take on new staff, but are finding obstacles in their way. It is part of the Liverpool City Region Integrated Business Support Project.

Following a free business diagnostic to identify any issues standing in the way of growth ambitions, the Chamber’s Business Advisers put together a bespoke action plan for the business.Companies will then receive fully-funded advice and support from Chamber Business Advisers and specialist business consultants, offering practical solutions to achieve their goals and improve their competitiveness.

To find out more about CommunicArt

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For more information about the Business Growth Programme call 01744 742042 or email growthprogramme@sthelenschamber.com

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