When is the best time for a small independent business to launch an online marketing campaign? There’s no correct answer to this question but if you’d asked me back in the spring I’d have said three to six months on from initial start up. I certainly would not have suggested a full-on campaign in the first month of official trading.

My brand new website www.elainecusack.com is a fledgling online book business and I’ve got hundreds of books to list in the coming months. I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mush so when I was offered a free Facebook advertising campaign for the site I said yes, even though the offer was being handed to me about six months earlier than I would have liked.

How did this come about? Well, my small business qualifies for business support from Business Northumberland, a digital business support programme that provides dedicated and tailored support to SMEs across Northumberland and the wider North East. Business Northumberland is part of a larger outfit called Advance Northumberland.

My Business Northumberland advisor steered me towards free digital marketing training and told me my website qualified for the Facebook campaign. I worked with Gateshead-based digital marketing agency, Allies Group, who created the Facebook advert which ran for a week in August.

I had no idea what to expect from the campaign but the advert generated thousands of hits on my website, a pleasing amount of sales, lots of book queries plus offers of books for sale.

The advert also attracted some unwanted comments (deleted!) plus at least two bods asking for Fly Fishing by J.R. Hartley. If I had a quid for every time I’ve been asked that over the past 25 years..!

My website has a Free Stuff section and I had two people email during the campaign to ask was it true I had free stuff to send out? I emailed back “yes!” And if, like me, you can’t look a gift horse in the gob then claim your Cusack freebie by sending me a message here

Thank you very much to Business Northumberland, Advance Northumberland, Allies Group and to all my new customers.