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Jo Barber: Advising small businesses on their social purpose

21st December 2018

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Jo Barber founded her marketing consultancy Seeing Social with a clear focus: to help brands communicate their approach to environmental and social issues. She’d always been interested in the concept of companies ‘doing well by doing good’, but recognised that for small businesses with a host of daily pressures to contend with, this idea can seem daunting.

By working with small businesses to improve their marketing and share the positive impact they’re striving for, she hopes to show them - and their customers - how they can have a positive impact on the world around them.

Jo Barber, founder and director of Seeing Social
Jo Barber photographed by Ana Maria Arais Valdivia

Demand for corporate social responsibility is strong

“Many of the world’s problems have been caused by businesses, and I feel that it’s the responsibility of businesses to sort it out, whether that’s raising money for charities, volunteering within the community or using recycled packaging,” Jo, 32, says.

She’s not alone in wanting businesses to do more. Nearly 90% of UK consumers expect companies to tackle problems such as plastic waste and pollution, according to research from MediaCom, a media agency. The same research indicates that more than two-thirds of UK consumers would pay more for environmentally-friendly products.

Positive environmental and social actions are not only good in themselves, but they can also have a positive impact on sales and customer and employee loyalty. Research from marketing agency Cone Communications found that 83% of millennials would be more loyal to a business that enables them to contribute to solving social and environmental problems.

“I personally prefer to buy from companies that aren’t focused only on making money and that also go out of their way to help. I found that others felt the same,” Jo says.

Sharing good practice

She didn’t always want to run her own business. “I caught the bug from working with other entrepreneurs,” she says. She started her business after spending five months in Berlin as a marketing consultant for young entrepreneurs.

She previously spent five and a half years at the Saïd Business School’s Entrepreneurship Centre in Oxford, helping entrepreneurs with their marketing and business development. There were two cohorts a year of 30 entrepreneurs: she learned from others before starting her own business. “The courses were aimed at established entrepreneurs rather than startups, but I learned a lot from everyone,” she says.

Jo remains an active member the business community in Oxford, where she lives. “Networking is key to how I find new clients. Getting my name out has been one of the biggest challenges so far - business groups and writing and sharing content on LinkedIn is how I find new clients for Seeing Social.”

Like other business banking customers featured on Starling’s blog, Jo has one simple piece of advice for those wanting to start a company: “Just do it. You just have to bite the bullet and go for it.”

Paperless banking

Jo discovered Starling when she met some of the team at our stand at Stylist Live, a three-day London event run by Stylist magazine in November 2017. “I remember asking if Starling did business accounts and the team told me ‘not yet.’” As soon business accounts were launched in March 2018, she saw a Starling ad on Facebook and signed up

“Starling is brilliant - one thing that I really love is that I get a notification when money comes in or goes of the account,” she says. “It saves me time because it allows me to know what’s happening in the account without having to log on to online banking to check everything. I don’t have to spend time away from my business.”

Starling itself is working to be a good corporate citizen. As a mobile bank with no branches, it has a much smaller carbon footprint than high street banks. The account application process, which can be completed in minutes, is paperless. The packaging for our portrait debit cards is 100% recyclable and we don’t routinely post paper statements each month. If you want to print your bank statement, you can do so from the Account Management screen of the app and emailing the statement to yourself to print.

To read Starling's ethics statement, click here. For more on Seeing Social, have a look at the website.

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