Joining Forces To Embrace Technology and Drive More Wealth Into Northern Ireland.

In the run up to this year’s Digital DNA event, we caught up with our good friend Alan McMurray at Total Hockey. Throughout the year Alan and the Team at Total Hockey have been busy setting the digital bar high for local SMEs. It came as no surprise to Digital DNA when it was announced that Total Hockey had been awarded Retail Website of the Year and short-listed and commended for Retail Social Media of the Year at this year’s DANI Awards!

Despite their glory, the humbled business man told Digital DNA that:

For Total Hockey to win was not about vanity it was about the recognition and validation of the level of success a local small to medium sized business from Northern Ireland can have

— Alan McMurray, Total Hockey

Total Hockey are a true inspiration to the local businesses of Northern Ireland, having successfully harnessed digital technology to increase customers, drive sales, cut costs and grow their brand internationally –  even as far as the USA and Japan!

As a family run business founded in 2001 they operate as the biggest hockey specialist shop in the UK and are fast becoming one of the world’s largest online field hockey outlets. As a result of their business taking an online and digital route to market through websites and social media platforms they export worldwide from their little shop in the neat little town of Banbridge.

Who ever said that the recession was a bad thing for business?

It was the recession that brought Total Hockey to the realisation that an online strategy was crucial for the survival of their future business. Working closely alongside Export Technologies their online presence began in 2008. In later years they embarked upon their social media journey with expert advice from Des Mulholland at The Retail Consultant in 2012. It was Des that developed such a compelling retail and social media strategy that penetrated their global reach and now generates up to 50% of their total business.

However, Alan confirmed that this success did not happen overnight. In fact, he has kindly put together the following tips for businesses implementing a digital strategy:

  1. Know your Target Audience –  With help from Des at The Retail Consultant,  Total Hockey researched the various platforms and found that a lot of hockey fans were mainly on Facebook. From this they identified that their target audience was not the mums and dads purchasing the equipment it was in fact the kids learning hockey in schools or clubs. So with a younger generation populating social media platforms Total Hockey began interacting with them and got them “pulling their mum’s & dad’s purse strings” to buy the must have stick or bag.
  2.  Take it one step at a time –  In the beginning, Total Hockey stuck to their strengths and hit off their social presence with Facebook. Starting out with just 450 fans before the help of The Retail Consultant they now have over 30,000 fans. Having branched into Twitter and most recently Instagram, they found that Twitter was a great tool to engage with their target audience. It allowed interaction during hockey events, conversations with customers about match scores and soon enough they built up a reputation of the “go to Twitter page” for all of the news on events.
  3.  Plan well in advance – The most challenging aspect initially for Total Hockey was knowing whatto post and when. With the help of Des, Total Hockey developed a digital strategy that allowed them to prepare posts 10-15 weeks in advance. By creating weekly or bi-weekly themes depending upon the time of year, new product launches, offers etc. they generated engaging content. By ‘mixing it up’ a little, with fun posts or videos as well as informative stuff, Total Mobile social media pages are becoming even popular.
  4. Evaluate – Just like any part of business it is important to measure, monitor and evaluate your social media efforts. With so many tools out there such as Google analytics, for example, Total Hockey are able to compare social referrals year-on-year. This is particularly useful to quantify and justify the hours and days spent on social media and show you how crucial  social media is for driving traffic to the website.
  5. Don’t be an online Robot –  New custom is great but maintaining customers and achieving customer loyalty is gold dust.  Total Hockey are the masters at developing social relationships with their customers online and personally in store. According to Alan “the fact that we integrated our personality and the service you would receive instore to our online mediums has created a personality for the business and has made us more approachable for the customer”.

Overall, the key to social success is Research, research, research!

Research your market,

research your competitors,

research your target audience,

before you start to plan your strategy!

Dedicated to helping other local businesses grow and expand by embracing technology, Alan McMurray assured us that

Digital is for everyone, it is never too late to create your digital presence and you are never too old to learn. The most encouraging thing is that everything is changing and developing so much so that everyone is still learning!

— Alan McMurray, Total Hockey

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Stephanie Geddis – Marketing and Content Specialist @ Digital DNA

Twitter I LinkedInIn the run up to this year’s Digital DNA event, we caught up with our good friend Alan McMurray at Total Hockey. Throughout the year Alan and the Team at Total Hockey have been busy setting the digital bar high for local SMEs. It came as no surprise to Digital DNA when it was announced that Total Hockey had been awarded Retail Website of the Year and short-listed and commended for Retail Social Media of the Year at this year’s DANI Awards!

Despite their glory, the humbled business man told Digital DNA that:

For Total Hockey to win was not about vanity it was about the recognition and validation of the level of success a local small to medium sized business from Northern Ireland can have

— Alan McMurray, Total Hockey

Total Hockey are a true inspiration to the local businesses of Northern Ireland, having successfully harnessed digital technology to increase customers, drive sales, cut costs and grow their brand internationally –  even as far as the USA and Japan!

As a family run business founded in 2001 they operate as the biggest hockey specialist shop in the UK and are fast becoming one of the world’s largest online field hockey outlets. As a result of their business taking an online and digital route to market through websites and social media platforms they export worldwide from their little shop in the neat little town of Banbridge.

Who ever said that the recession was a bad thing for business?

It was the recession that brought Total Hockey to the realisation that an online strategy was crucial for the survival of their future business. Working closely alongside Export Technologies their online presence began in 2008. In later years they embarked upon their social media journey with expert advice from Des Mulholland at The Retail Consultant in 2012. It was Des that developed such a compelling retail and social media strategy that penetrated their global reach and now generates up to 50% of their total business.

However, Alan confirmed that this success did not happen overnight. In fact, he has kindly put together the following tips for businesses implementing a digital strategy:

  1. Know your Target Audience –  With help from Des at The Retail Consultant,  Total Hockey researched the various platforms and found that a lot of hockey fans were mainly on Facebook. From this they identified that their target audience was not the mums and dads purchasing the equipment it was in fact the kids learning hockey in schools or clubs. So with a younger generation populating social media platforms Total Hockey began interacting with them and got them “pulling their mum’s & dad’s purse strings” to buy the must have stick or bag.
  2.  Take it one step at a time –  In the beginning, Total Hockey stuck to their strengths and hit off their social presence with Facebook. Starting out with just 450 fans before the help of The Retail Consultant they now have over 30,000 fans. Having branched into Twitter and most recently Instagram, they found that Twitter was a great tool to engage with their target audience. It allowed interaction during hockey events, conversations with customers about match scores and soon enough they built up a reputation of the “go to Twitter page” for all of the news on events.
  3.  Plan well in advance – The most challenging aspect initially for Total Hockey was knowing whatto post and when. With the help of Des, Total Hockey developed a digital strategy that allowed them to prepare posts 10-15 weeks in advance. By creating weekly or bi-weekly themes depending upon the time of year, new product launches, offers etc. they generated engaging content. By ‘mixing it up’ a little, with fun posts or videos as well as informative stuff, Total Mobile social media pages are becoming even popular.
  4. Evaluate – Just like any part of business it is important to measure, monitor and evaluate your social media efforts. With so many tools out there such as Google analytics, for example, Total Hockey are able to compare social referrals year-on-year. This is particularly useful to quantify and justify the hours and days spent on social media and show you how crucial  social media is for driving traffic to the website.
  5. Don’t be an online Robot –  New custom is great but maintaining customers and achieving customer loyalty is gold dust.  Total Hockey are the masters at developing social relationships with their customers online and personally in store. According to Alan “the fact that we integrated our personality and the service you would receive instore to our online mediums has created a personality for the business and has made us more approachable for the customer”.

Overall, the key to social success is Research, research, research!

Research your market,

research your competitors,

research your target audience,

before you start to plan your strategy!

Dedicated to helping other local businesses grow and expand by embracing technology, Alan McMurray assured us that

Digital is for everyone, it is never too late to create your digital presence and you are never too old to learn. The most encouraging thing is that everything is changing and developing so much so that everyone is still learning!

— Alan McMurray, Total Hockey

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Stephanie Geddis – Marketing and Content Specialist @ Digital DNA

Twitter I LinkedIn

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

Stay updated

Keep up to date with all the latest news from

X