Social Media Marketing: Interview with Nicola Dore of Arcane Agency

Seminar Sessions now being held online.


Social media marketing is vital if you want your business to grow and thrive. No one knows that better than Nicola Dore, digital marketing extraordinaire and director of Arcane Agency. Armed with a wealth of experience and a head full of unique ideas, Nicola helps clients stand out and build a community around their brands through training and ‘done for you’ campaigns.

In April and May, Nicola will be hosting two online seminar sessions for The Design Coach community where she’ll break down the key social media platforms, demystify algorithms and analytics, and inspire you to get creative with your digital content.


Nicola took time away from developing her new training program to chat to us about her career, her digital marketing predictions, and her advice for connecting during a crisis.


Book your tickets to the Seminar Session: Social Media Marketing for Designers - Melbourne and Sydney.

Nicola Dore, Arcane Agency. Photo credits: Chrissie Francis Photography.

TDC: Can you tell us a bit about your career path – what led to you becoming director of your own digital marketing agency?

ND: I started out in events but with most events you end up doing a bit of everything including marketing. I grew up in Gippsland and the first event I managed was Farm World at Lardner Park which attracts 60,000 people. I moved into racing events before landing a role with an international conference organiser. We were the first to use social media to increase engagement at events and that’s when I realised I wanted to work in the digital space. I moved back into racing in a purely marketing role before returning to conferencing.

When I fell pregnant with my first child seven years ago, I knew I couldn’t continue to work in that world. There was a lot of travel and there wasn’t the flexibility to work part time or remotely. I started doing some consultancy work, helping businesses with marketing strategies and implementation. The flexibility meant I didn’t have to take maternity leave when I had my second child. Then, about 12 months ago, I decided to move from consultancy into an agency model and Arcane Agency was born. We are spread 50/50 – 50 per cent training and 50 per cent marketing for clients.


TDC: You say that not one thing you learned in your Master of Business (Marketing) degree transferred to the ‘real world’ of digital marketing. If you were to rewrite the curriculum, what would be at the top of your list to include?

ND: When I did my Masters, social media was a thing and yet we didn’t cover a single social media subject. And we only did one e-commerce course which explained what e-commerce was but not how to do it. I found that really strange. I think all marketing courses should have a strong digital component covering how to implement e-commerce, what sorts of websites you could use, and the different platforms that are available. You should graduate knowing how to market a business or move it online.

Nicola Dore and students at Arcane Agency. Photo credits: Chrissie Francis Photography.

TDC: How has the marketing industry changed since you first started?

ND: When I started, it was all about traditional marketing. We were using radio, newspapers, magazines and billboards. It was expensive and it wasn’t very measurable. You could only gauge if something was working based on if people were talking about it or if crowd numbers increased.


Now 90 per cent of our clients’ budgets are online. They’re doing Facebook ads, Google ads, Google shopping, and it’s all very measurable. We know exactly where sales are coming from and how much it’s costing per sale. Even for a bricks and mortar business, it’s easy to see how online advertising translates into foot traffic. Campaigns are also a lot more cost effective – not only are they cheaper to roll out, you can stop them if they’re not working and you need to pivot. With traditional marketing you were stuck with what you’d booked.


TDC: In this increasingly digital world, a lot of us are struggling to switch off. Despite being so connected online, research shows we are lonelier than ever. How do you manage to balance your screen time with ‘real life’ interaction?

ND: I’ll be honest, my screen time is not great. But since starting the agency, I have been making a conscious effort to switch off a bit more. I used to think I had to check every notification in case something had gone wrong. When I was with my kids or out for dinner, my phone was lighting up every five minutes. And when it came to my friends, we were communicating predominantly on Messenger.

These days, while I am online a lot for clients, I try not to do a lot of personal social media scrolling. One of the biggest distractions for me is all the client notifications I get on my phone. So every night my phone is set to ‘do not disturb’ mode from 9.30pm until 7am the next morning. A few of us that work in digital have also been making a conscious effort to set aside time to have a good conversation over the phone or catch up for a meal.



Nicola Dore. Photo credits: Chrissie Francis Photography.

TDC: I imagine a lot of your clients are struggling with how to navigate the digital world while dealing with a global pandemic. What advice are you giving them?


ND: I’ve advised them to keep showing up organically because when things do return to normal, you don’t want to start from scratch. People still want to consume positive content so now is the time to tell the story behind your brand, introduce your team members and your family, and tell people why your brand started up. Go back to basics and produce content that isn’t going to evoke fear because there’s enough of that out there. As for sales posts, instead of stopping, just be really mindful of how you word them during this time.



TDC: Where do you think digital marketing will head in the next year?

ND: Before the pandemic, I was seeing a trend of people going back to traditional marketing like advertising in the local paper, putting money towards advertorial spend in magazines, or going back to the old letterbox drop. People were starting to feel that online was over-saturated and their messages were getting lost.

I’ve also noticed that Google ads and Facebook ads are starting to cost about the same per conversion. People used to put all their money on Facebook ads because they were cheap. But now that Facebook is so crowded, Google is offering better conversion rates because Google is where people are actually looking for you.


TDC: When working with designers, what do you see as the biggest mistakes they make in marketing?

ND: I think a lot of designers can come across a bit clinical. It’s very important to showcase your style and all the beautiful things you do but you also need to show that human side a bit more and add a bit of personality which is something that a lot of designers don’t seem to do.

Another mistake is a lack of consistency. I think a lot of designers go through periods where they’re posting frequently and then they don’t post for ages. They think they can only use a piece of content once so they don’t reuse and recycle the content they’ve got. Instead, they do nothing.

Nicola Dore at Arcane Agency. Photo credits: Chrissie Francis Photography.

TDC: What would be the three most important activities a designer can put in place tomorrow to transform their business?


ND: If they aren’t active online, they need to establish a presence on Instagram, Pinterest and Houzz. It’s also important to set up a database of enquiries. A lot of designers get enquiries or complete a job and have no way of keeping the person engaged afterwards. One way to do it is through a newsletter subscription but as I’ve mentioned, it can be hard to cut through. If you have an old client of high value, I would keep in touch with them some other way. You could send a personal card on the anniversary of when you worked together or give them a call to catch up and see if they are still loving their space.

Another idea is to offer a complimentary walk through where you offer advice for how your client could freshen up the space. Twelve months on, they might be ready for a few tweaks and the walk through might be enough for them to say, “Can you come in and do my bedroom?” Thinking outside the square is really important for designers because the industry is growing and you need to stay front of mind.


TDC: What exciting projects or campaigns are you working on at the moment?


ND: I’m working on what I wish I’d gotten from my Masters. It’s a training program that takes you through all the phases of growing a business – from setting up a marketing plan to implementing it, testing it, and getting all the systems and processes in place. I’ve been working with a couple of businesses to test the program and they’ve been getting really good results. You walk away with a full marketing plan and strategy that’s all been tested and tweaked by me. I’ll be launching later this year and I’m really excited.

In terms of campaigns, I’ve been working with Market Square shopping centre to change the face of retail. We’re setting up a virtual, click and collect shopping experience throughout the whole centre at the moment.

I’ve also started up a private Facebook group to help small businesses navigate through this difficult time. I’m providing free advice and training about how to pivot your business, take it online and keep customers engaged without spending a heap of money.




TDC: What can designers expect at your online Seminar Session?

ND: Even though we are moving it online it’ll still be taught exactly how it would have been in person. I’m going to be working with designers to come up with an online marketing plan. We’re going to go through some Instagram best practice work, and look at what they can do on Pinterest and Houzz to get the most out of those platforms without spending money. I’ll help them get their heads around the benefits of being online and create some consistency through content planning. All participants will also get some one-on-one time with me which they can book in at a later date to go through some strategies for their individual businesses.

It’s a tough time for small business owners in Australia and all over the world. Having to take time out is difficult but it also provides us with an opportunity to focus on our professional development through online learning. Nicola’s seminar session will give you all the inspiration you need to establish and sustain a strong digital presence. Let’s get together for this enriching online seminar and plan for a bright and successful future.

Time & Location


Seminar Session: Social Media Marketing for Designers


Melbourne - Live online seminar

Date: Thursday 2nd April 2020 Time: 5pm – 7pm

Book your tickets here.


Sydney - Live online seminar

Date: Thursday 28th May 2020 Time: 12pm – 2pm

Book your tickets here.


Cost: $60 (includes e-book summary)

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