Support from Business Northumberland helps Simonside marketing consultancy bridge skills gap

Simonside founder Sarah Alcock has tapped into various support programmes available to businesses in the North East as well as plugging the digital skills gap in her own company to enable her business to grow.

By Ian Smith
Monday, 2nd August 2021, 11:18 am

With over two decades of experience in marketing, Yorkshire-born Sarah found herself working at a senior level, but her roles became more about managing staff and budgeting and less doing what she loved… devising marketing strategies to help businesses achieve their goals.

“I love marketing, but I wanted to get back to rolling up my sleeves and getting stuck into the detail again,” she said. “Working directly with entrepreneurs to make a real difference to their businesses.”

With priorities shifted, Sarah wanted to feel fulfilled in her career once more and decided to take the plunge and set up her own marketing business.

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Simonside founder Sarah Alcock.

Having recently moved to Northumberland, Sarah took inspiration from her surroundings and Simonside Marketing was born in June 2019.

“One of the things I wanted to achieve when I set up Simonside was to plug skills gaps I’d developed due to me being in senior leadership roles, where you have a team of people doing the day-to-day campaign activation work.”

With a huge range of support available Sarah knew she could benefit from available guidance to further cement her growth plans.

“You can never have too much support for your business, especially at times of economic uncertainty, like we are in now because of Brexit and Covid,” she said.

The first referral into Business Northumberland came from NBSL, where Sarah took full advantage of attending workshops to hone her social media skills, having 1-2-1s with a dedicated Business Growth Advisor and attending online networking meetings as part of Simonside’s wider marketing strategy.

The fully funded support programme is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Advance Northumberland, so there is no cost to eligible businesses when accessing the support.

It was through Advance Northumberland that Simonside was referred into the Northumberland Covid Business Response Programme (NCBRP) and took advantage of both the Business Advantage and Digital Advantage elements of programme.

Working with a dedicated coach, Sarah was able to utilise the time to discuss, develop and refine the Simonside brand, services and website.

To find out more about NCBRP and getting your business online with a fully funded e-commerce website please go to:

For more information about Business Northumberland, please email [email protected] or visit

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