Digital media experts inspire local entrepreneurs

The council's Entrepreneurs Network came together recently with the Management & Leadership Network (MLN) to host an event at Lagan Valley Island to mark the start of Management Month.

Tuesday, 13th March 2018, 12:58 pm
Updated Tuesday, 13th March 2018, 12:59 pm
Pictured at the Transformational Leadership event hosted by the council in partnership with MLN are: (l-r) Bill Manson, MLN; Oonagh OHagan, Managing Director of Meagher Pharmacy Group; the Mayor, Councillor Tim Morrow; Alderman Allan Ewart MBE, Chairman of the Council's Development Committee; Kevin Kelly, co-owner of MLN and Stephen OLeary, Founder of Olytico.

Stephen O’Leary, Founder of Olytico, and Oonagh O’Hagan, Managing Director of Meagher Pharmacy Group, were the guest speakers at the ‘Transformational Leadership’ event, which was facilitated by Kevin Kelly, co-owner of MLN.

Stephen O’Leary is an expert in listening to customers online and identifies how businesses can benefit from social conversations. Oonagh O’Hagan is a Tyrone woman who has made a huge success of her Dublin-based business despite the economic crisis in 2009; and she has utilised digital media to grow her traditional business.

Welcoming people to the event, Mayor Tim Morrow said: “It is great to see so many businesses represented here today. I had the opportunity recently to hear Oonagh and she is a true exemplar of how digital media can enhance your business. Within the Lisburn Castlereagh area we have an ever increasing population, bringing a wealth of talent, creativity and high skill levels to the local economy. As a council we are committed to supporting the local economy and bringing further inward investment to the area through new businesses setting up in Lisburn Castlereagh.”

Stephen spoke about how customers do not always give an honest answer about what they want – they talk online and it is up to the business to interpret what they want. He advised that every hour, minute and second of the day people are talking online about what they want and this provides an opportunity to market existing products or design new ones to meet demand.

Oonagh outlined to the audience how she transformed her traditional pharmacy business model to adapt to the online age. Oonagh owns five pharmacies and when the economic crisis struck, her bottom line took a significant hit. This caused her to look at her business case and she identified what her core values were at that time and following market research she prioritised her marketing activities. She took Meaghers Pharmacy online even before Boots had thought about an online store.

Over the years she has enhanced her online offering to ensure that she is part of her customers’ conversations and she is now looking to offer goods to the USA and Australia markets in the near future.

Alderman Allan Ewart MBE, Chairman of the Development Committee, commented: “Stephen was passionate as he informed local businesses how they can utilise the information that is readily available on social networks to grow their business and product lines. He has helped brands such as the Washington Post and organisations like the BBC and TV3 make better decisions through the use of social listening and online media monitoring.

“It was inspirational to hear how Oonagh transformed her business despite the economic downturn and how she has used digital media to grow her business, and provide an online community for her customers. Oonagh was able to adapt quite quickly due to the flat structure of her company. As a result of her online success she made further acquisitions increasing her number of premises and her product ranges as well as setting up specialised online clinics to meet her customers’ needs.”

He added: “The importance of versatility and the ability to embrace social media channels is important to all businesses irrespective of sector. Any business can sell themselves online, it is not limited to those businesses that make or distribute products.

“Throughout the year the council runs networking events with guest speakers to ensure local businesses have up to date knowledge to enhance their skills in marketing, business growth, cyber security, sales and leadership.”

Following a question and answer session, attendees left with the knowledge to research their customers’ online, look at how the future of their business can be shaped using digital media and plan to build relationships through communication, engagement and investment.