Gut instinct (no pun intended) has helped Cheryl MacDonald, founder of women’s fitness classes YogaBellies, to create interest in her brand on several occasions. Her first big break came when she appeared on Dragons’ Den seeking investment for her pregnancy yoga business back in 2013. “I was sitting in the living room when it was being broadcast and Facebook suddenly started pinging, emails started coming in and by morning we’d had 2,000 enquiries from people wanting to become franchisees,” she says.
Since then, not only has MacDonald’s brand expanded into multiple new areas (with PR opportunities aplenty each time it does), she holds regular Facebook competitions, writes articles in the press, makes the most of celebrity endorsements (Fearne Cotton and Holly Willoughby are fans). MacDonald also enters – and wins – lots of awards. “Awards are great for PR,” she says. “Don’t forget that whoever’s organising the awards will tweet about your business and announce it in the finals if you’ve won. As well as that, winning awards gives people confidence in your brand.”
In truth, the foot rarely comes off the pedal. “Every time our Dragons’ Den episode is repeated on [TV channel] Dave we see a flurry of interest,” she says, “and every time I write an article in a magazine, enquiries increase. You’ve got to keep your name out there. If you don’t, there’s always going to be a competitor who’ll come in and take your place.”