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Top Marketing Tips for your Business

Elevate your Brand

In conversation with Marketing Expert Debbie Rennie

In this guest blog interview, Debbie Rennie of Instinct Marketing and PR will share her top marketing tips with us. Don’t miss it!

Iska Birnie Photographer
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business.

I’m born and bred in Aberdeen/Aberdeenshire and now live my with my husband and two children in Banchory. I originally started my career in finance and then after a period of travel throughout Asia and Australia, I returned and studied for a part-time Post Graduate Diploma in Marketing whilst working full time.

My first role in marketing was in Global Product Marketing for NCR (National Cash Register) in Dundee. Family circumstances took me back to Aberdeen and I worked in a PR, communications, and marketing role for a local, leading charity. In 2008, during the financial crash, I was made redundant from my marketing role at a recruitment agency.

I was newly married and had no children, so I thought “what the heck, let’s try going this alone”. In July 2009 I became a freelance marketing and communications specialist. By 2015 it made sense to merge my growing client base with my dad’s business, so I became part of Innes Associates, which we then rebranded as Instinct Marketing + PR in 2021.

As a business we provide marketing and communications support and services, helping businesses connect with their customers and grow. We work with organisations of all shapes and sizes from solo entrepreneurs to global organisations across a diverse range of industries.

Iska Birnie Photographer
What do you love most about your job?

I love the diversity and creativity of my job. From product launches and tourist events to river conservation and charity campaigns no two days are ever the same. Just the way I like it.

For me, it’s about getting under the skin of the people and the business we’re working with to truly understand who they are and what they want to achieve and then helping them to do that. Although running a business can be akin to riding a rollercoaster at times I love the freedom it has, and continues to give me, and I wouldn’t change that.

Iska Birnie Photographer
What 3 top tips can you give our readers to improve their own marketing?
  1. Take time to think
    Before you jump into tactics and tools really think about who your customers are – their habits, behaviours, and interests, where are they, which media they consume, and which social media channels they hang out on. Think about what you’re offering them, the benefits of your product/service, and your messaging.
  2. Make time to plan
    Particularly in small micro businesses, this is often where we see business owners struggle. They’ve so many ideas, spin so many plates, and have limited time. They end up feeling overwhelmed with marketing, unsure what to focus on, and end up taking a ‘scatter gun’ approach.  A simple marketing plan can help reduce this overwhelm and focus energy and resource in the right places.  This is where we can help. In fact, we’re running a free workshop covering marketing planning on 17th May which may be of interest to some of your readers.
  3. Be consistent
    Consistency is key! Marketing isn’t and shouldn’t be a stop-start activity.  It’s about maintaining a sustained level of market awareness and visibility.
Iska Birnie Photographer
What trends should small business owners pay attention to in the marketing industry this year?

We shared a blog on this very recently and some of the key trends we shared included the continued importance of video content, from live streams to explainer videos and vlogs.  It’s about optimising video across platforms and creating engaging content. As more brands compete for attention, high-quality, valuable content that stands out will be more important than ever – content is still king.

Social media is here to stay and will remain a key component of the marketing mix in 2023. While platforms like Facebook and Instagram still dominate, newer platforms like TikTok continue to grow in popularity and offer new opportunities to reach and engage with audiences.

Consumers are looking for brands that align with their core beliefs and are increasingly making a stand on social and environmental issues, so sustainability and value-driven marketing will also be taking a centre stage this year.

Iska Birnie Photographer
You and your team had a brand photography session with me last year. How did you find the experience? Are the photos helping you in your marketing?

Working in PR and communications having quality photographs is always a requirement when producing work for our clients. Over the years we’ve seen a real mix!

It’s always beneficial when a client already has or is open to investing in great-quality photos of their people, facilities, and products. We’ve all heard the saying ‘a picture paints a 1,000 words’ right?

Good photos really do help elevate your brand and give your customers the right first impressions.

That also means I should practice what I preach! Last year I had a brand session with you and it was just fabulous.

Right from initial enquiry and briefing through to planning and on the day, you were outstanding. Your gentle guidance and friendly manner put me at ease and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and the outcomes.

As a business, we’ve been giving our own marketing an increased focus as we work to grow the business… it’s that ‘practicing what we preach’ again!

As business owners, it’s about stepping forward (even if that’s out of our comfort zone) and being visible. People buy from people and building a personal brand helps to foster relationships and trust. The photos you took are reflective of who I am and a window into our business. They’re an integral component of our marketing and PR activity.

Iska Birnie Photographer
What would you say to people who are on the fence about brand photography? 

I’d just say: Go for it – you won’t regret it!

Yes, there’s an investment but it’s worth it and can make such a positive impact when it comes to showcasing you, your business, and your brand.

Iska Birnie Photographer
I asked my social media followers if they had any questions, they would like me to ask you. These are the top 4 questions:

Are Facebook ads worth it? Is there a good way to work out the target audience?
Facebook ads aren’t a specific area we specialise in just due to our client base but I do know they can work extremely well for some and as a consumer I’ve definitely engaged and responded to ads on Facebook.

As in any marketing activity, as I mentioned earlier, first and foremost it comes down to really understanding who and where your customers are so you can make the right decisions and focus on the right platforms and marketing mix that will work for your business.  Secondly taking a sustained and consistent approach, rather than sporadic one-offs here and there.  If you’re just boosting one or two posts it’s unlikely you’re going to see much results.

Is there an ideal time to post on social media?
There’s lots of information out there about timings for posting, some of it differs but it’s good as a guide alongside testing and measuring your own channels from your insights.  Algorithms are always changing too so it’s worth keeping up to date on what’s happening.  For instance, at the moment on LinkedIn the best days to post are Tues – Thurs and Saturday.  The timings might differ depending on your specific audience.  Monday and Friday posts are receiving 25% less reach and Sunday 70% less reach.

Offline marketing, is it still worth handing out flyers and business cards?
Again, it’s about understanding the demographics of your target customers.

I believe offline marketing absolutely has its place. The marketing mix can be extensive and I believe it’s important to have a blend of offline and online marketing as part of that mix.

What’s the best way to market a niche business?
In some respects when marketing a niche business you start ahead of most, as you’re already really clear about who your audience is and can be very targeted.  It’s then understanding where those customers ‘hang out’ and appealing to them in those places.

Iska Birnie Photographer
How can people get in touch with you?

People can connect with me on LinkedIn here Debbie Rennie | LinkedIn or drop me an email on

I hope you enjoyed this blog post and Debbie’s top tips to market your business.

If you’d like to know more about brand photography and how it can help you elevate your brand, then click on the link below to get in touch and book a discovery call.

Click here to book your no-obligation consultation to see if I’m the right brand photographer for you.

Lots of Love,

Iska xx

Please head over to my Facebook and Instagram pages and give them a like, or connect on LinkedIn.