Larry the London Bus & Friends – Marketing Plan & Social Media Training

Larry the London Bus - Social Media Strategy Essex Digital Marketing

The Background

Up and coming children’s book series, Larry the London Bus & Friends, initially engaged with us for advice on a number of apps they were looking to produce to accompany the book series. Each book was to have a counterpart app which could read the story out loud to the children as well as be more interactive with moving images and extra features.

The Larry the London Bus & Friends series aims to be a supportive and inclusive series. Designing their characters to be relatable with the stories revolving around modern-day issues such as; mental health, bullying and learning difficulties.

Their creator, Jake Stevens, has big plans for the charity side of the company which involves a real-life Larry the London Bus travelling the country taking underprivileged and sick children on days out. Followed up by a world tour for Larry.


The Challenge

Primarily, the company wanted to look at how they could extend their social media reach, gain a larger organic following and increase engagement levels. This in turn would be designed to increase app downloads, book purchases and charitable donations to the company.

The main challenge with this client was the way in which their social media was presented. It was important not to be too sales focused or too adult in their language. Equally, they couldn’t sound too childish either.

The big players in their industry sector, such as Thomas the Tank Engine, have long-running and well-established social media with good following and good engagement. Their challenge was to capture some of this market and take some market share away from those competitors.

They needed to get across what they represented and what they stood for in their social media. Whilst ensuring that this continued to attract their desired customers.


What we did

Online Marketing Audit

We began with a full online marketing audit. Firstly, we looked at what the company had done before and used that as our baseline. We assessed the impact of their social media and the results this was currently yielding. We dug into their analytics and looked for trends and activity spikes against their social media activity. This was to establish if there was any link between their social media efforts and website conversions or Amazon sales.

Once we had looked over the information, we turned our attention to identifying who their competitors were and what they were currently doing with their online marketing. After conducting research and reporting on results, we looked at Larry the London Bus & Friends’ own online marketing. We assessed what was working well for them and identified areas of improvement. We considered all possible networks and identified positives and negatives for using each one. We considered who their target market would be and created an ideal buyer persona.

Consolidating the results and competitor research we listed out the company’s USPs, aims and objectives moving forward. We helped them decide what these should be, helped them set these targets to be SMART, worthwhile and moving them toward their eventual end goal.

Finally, we then created a brief overview of the marketing audit and listed out action points to optimise their accounts.


Exploration Day

One of the things we recommend to all of our marketing clients is an exploration day. During this day we created a snapshot of the company as it was. This involved asking the management team who they are, what they do, who they do it for and why. These seem like simple questions, but are often quite difficult to verbalise.

Next, we conducted a SWOT analysis. We asked everyone where they saw the company in 1, 3 and 5 years, how they viewed their brand and what they wanted their brand to mean to others? This was important as we needed everyone to be moving in the same direction.

After this we worked on the brand voice and characterises and from this created our ideal buyer personas. These personas included both demographics and psychographics. We looked at our buyer’s challenges and motivations.

From this discovery day we were then able to move forward with a set of solid foundations to build upon.


Market Strategy & Content Strategy

The first item to finalise was to make a decision on the social networks we wished to advertise on. These networks needed to be ones that would not only yield the best results for engagement, but would also be the place where our target market / buyers would be.

Using this information, we could then identify where our market was, when they were likely to be engaged and what type of content we could produce to engage them.

We used our competitor research to lead the way into creative thinking and planning of content production. Providing mock ups of the type of content Larry the London Bus & Friends could be producing. Alongside this, we compiled a list of categories, key terms, keywords and hashtags they could use on their social networks. As well as letting them know the appropriate places and number of hashtags to use across their newsfeeds.

Finally, we supplied a list of recommended actions for online marketing activities. And explored ways in which the company could link their online and offline marketing efforts. This included integration of the book series, apps and real-life Larry the London Bus road trip and charity elements. Furthermore, we also provided a list of website improvements and development to be worked on at a later date.


Market Research

In order to develop their marketing strategy effectively, it was necessary to undertake a lot of market research. Checking out competitors, looking at what they were doing well and not so well and understanding their audience’s behaviour.

The key in market research was to identify the messages that their target audience would engage with most. The key things they would respond to in the marketing that would get them to buy into the brand, the company and the products they were selling.

To do this we set up small focus groups to obtain first hand feedback and reactions to the brand. We also sent out online questionnaires, which asked participants to review a number of their social media posts and provide feedback on other subjects such as; gender, dress and some storylines.

By and large the feedback on their social media, brand, voice and design was positive and enabled Jake and his team to feel confident in how they were marketing their brand.

However, we did discover some issues with regards to Sally’s bow and Finlay the dual cell bus. By identifying these issues early on in their journey, Larry the London Bus & Friends Ltd will be able to address and answer any uncomfortable questions that may arise in the future. They now have a fresh perspective of how the characters and stories maybe viewed by others. As such, enabling them to tackle sensitive subjects in a more informed and considered way.

Social Media Training

The client’s company was small, with only one person in their team taking on the day-to-day responsibility of their social media efforts. It was therefore decided to put a training schedule in place to upskill that person.

Giving them the tools and the know-how to better lead the social media themselves in the future.

Areas of training included:

  • Market and social media reporting
  • Understanding Google Analytics
  • SEO
  • Guidelines and rules for each social network
  • Hootsuite training
  • Running competitions
  • Design tips and the importance of staying on brand
  • Brand voice development
  • Video production
  • Social media advertising
  • Profile optimisation
  • Hashtags – usage and research

This training took the form of weekly on-site visits. Covering day-long training and practical skills development in-situ. Allowing the training to take place in the work environment and with the same social media they would be working with long-term. This made the training more effective and far more impactful.


Project Results

The client saw excellent results from working with us, the highlights were:

  • A clear direction for social media posts, brand voice and future marketing opportunities
  • 2% increase in Facebook followers in just 4 weeks
  • 9% increase in post reach


What our client said

“Stef and the rest of the Dragonfire team are extremely helpful and knowledgeable marketers. Not only did they educate my staff about the best marketing tips, but also helped in putting them to practise. The outside market research they did on my business gave us a good insight on people’s opinions on our content so far. Thank you, Stef and the rest of the team, we look forward to working with you again in the future.”

Harriet Hills – Social Media Manager at Larry the London Bus & Friends


To find out about the great work Larry the London Bus & Friends have been doing and to follow them on their UK bus tour visit:



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