Rachel Walsh of Discover Digital recently won the Network Ireland Limerick Award 2017 for Emerging Business
Tell us a bit about why you decided to set up Discover Digital?
I’ve always worked with big brands. My very first job after I left LIT was in the advertising department in Ryanair which was amazing experience. I’ve also spent time working with Tesco, Virgin Media, but it’s very hard to see the contribution your making in these big corporations and that’s something that always played on my mind.
I’m very passionate about small businesses and digital marketing and I really wanted to use the experience I had gained and use it to help a business where you can actually see the impact the advertising is having for the brand.
How did it feel to first step out on your own?
It was scary, certainly! I was used to working with a team of really talented people in my previous roles who I could bounce ideas off of. When you work for yourself you really have to believe in yourself and trust your gut. That was definitely difficult to get used to. But I’m lucky that I’m surrounded by lots of people who’ve done this before me so I always have someone to go to for advice.
What challenges have you faced as a new business and how did you overcome them?
It can sometimes be a challenge to communicate the value a digital marketing strategy can bring to a business as there can be an element of fear associated with using new channels such as social media if the business hasn’t used these channels before. Not everyone has grown up with or is comfortable on social media. My ethos is all about Sharing The Digital Love so I try to educate businesses on the fact that digital marketing is not just more cost effective than traditional marketing channels, but it’s also the smart thing to do as more and more consumers are consuming their information online. The perfect strategy would be to combine the traditional and digital channels to form an integrated marketing strategy.
What support have you had along the way?
I’ve had amazing support from family and friends. When you start a business you have to be prepared to work all hours in the day. When I started I had a lot of other things going on like lecturing in LIT, studying for my masters part time, and moving into my new house so I didn’t have much time for anything else. My friends and family were all very understanding and continue to be! My family literally moved me into my house so I could focus on my exams and the work I had to do for the business.
What has been your proudest moment in business so far?
I’ve had lots of great moments and the award is one of them but one that stands out is gaining my first client (Treaty Veterinary Clinic), that was the point where I started to believe I could do this. Another of my early clients was a restaurant in Tipperary called Prime 74. I developed a social media strategy for their launch and continued to work with them for a number of months. They recently won an award at the Irish Restaurant Awards so it was great to see them gaining recognition.
How did it feel to win the Network Ireland Limerick Award for emerging business?
I was actually shocked! I’ve been involved in Network Ireland Limerick for almost three years now and there are so many amazing business women in the network who have been in business for a lot longer than me. As a newbie to the business world, I thought it would be a few years before I got the kind of recognition that comes from winning an award. It’s been such a great experience and I’m so glad I entered. The response has been overwhelming and the exposure I’ve got from winning the award is priceless. No amount of digital marketing could compete!
How important has Network Ireland been in your business journey?
I genuinely don’t think I would have set up Discover Digital if it wasn’t for Network Limerick. I joined the network a few years ago when Discover Digital was just an idea that I wasn’t even sure I was going to act on. But the network is full of amazing inspirational business women and it’s impossible for that entrepreneurial spirit not to rub off on you. I remember feeling very nervous going to my first event a few years ago thinking how the hell am I going to hold my own in a room full of experienced business owners, but I was made feel so welcome and put at ease straight away. For me, Network Limerick is a place I get support, advice, mentoring and friendship.
How do you switch off from work – is it hard when social media is such a big part of work and personal life?
It’s very difficult – my phone is never out of my hand and is always pinging with notifications from pages I run, that’s just the nature of it! Exercise is great way to tire out the mind. I love to walk my dog Alfie, or rather I should say he walks me. Also Studio One in Annacotty do a great Spin class that’s sure to sweat any stress out of you. Failing that, a nice big G&T in one of my favourite Limerick bars works a treat!
What does the future hold for digital marketing?
The world of digital is constantly evolving so you have to keep on top of that. Video content continues to lead the pack and businesses should ensure it is incorporated in their marketing strategy. Also, data is really topical and is widely considered to be a company’s biggest asset. This includes everything from customer data to website analytical data. Use your data to create a persona of who your customer is and tailor your marketing activity accordingly. Personally, I’m currently studying a masters in Digital Marketing and analytics in DIT so I’m focused on getting through that and looking forward to a well-earned trip to Thailand at Christmas when it’s all over!
Article by: Kayleigh Ziolo
Photography by: Paul Mullins