Marketing Mix – the 7 Ps

The marketing mix is not a new concept – it was first created by Jerome McCarthy in 1960 and consisted of the 4 Ps of marketing; Product, Price, Place and Promotion. Then in 1981, Booms & Bitner added three more Ps to the marketing mix; People, Processes and Physical evidence and these 7 Ps are now the set of key principles that are at the heart of all marketing strategies…often just referred to as the ‘Marketing Mix’.

How do the 7 Ps work?  

If we look at all of the Ps, one at a time, you will have a better understanding of basic marketing theory and a great foundation with which to pull together your marketing strategy.

The 7 Ps of marketing are a set of key principles that belong at the very heart of your marketing strategy. They are sometimes jointly referred to as the marketing mix.

The starting point, as most marketers know, when pulling together a marketing strategy is to identify your target market, so you know who your customers are, what they like and dislike and what makes them tick. Once you know this, you can look at the 7 Ps.  

Product

Every product you sell, make, produce or think about making should have your customer at the very heart. It should solve a problem for them, or be something they need or want. It’s worth asking yourself, ‘What is it about my product that makes your customers want to buy it?’ Do you need to change or tweak your products in any way to meet your customers’ needs?

Your products should also be of good quality, and the research that you have done on your target market will give you the information you need to know about their tastes and their buying habits, so you can market your product in the best way possible to get the most sales.

Price  

There are lots of different things to consider when setting your price for a particular product or service you provide. Obviously it needs to be deemed as good value for money by your customers, but you need to take into consideration the costs of producing, promoting and delivering your product.

You also have to take the cost of a similar product that is sold by your competitors. Finding the right price for your goods is not just about undercutting the competition or offering a cheaper alternative. It’s about finding out, during your market research, what price your customer is willing or used to paying for products or services that are similar to yours.

For example, when you go to the supermarket to buy shampoo, whether you’re aware of it or not, you will probably buy a brand that is in what you consider to be in your price range. But, at the same time, you’ll probably look at other similar products on the shelf and are likely to try something outside of your habitual price range, just to try it…even though a cheaper alternative might be available! So, people don’t always go for the cheapest option.  

Place

Your product should be where your customers expect to find it. So where and how are you going to sell your products? Do you sell them yourself or outsource them to retail outlets? Do you sell from home via an online shop, sell online from your own website, or do you put them on a big selling website like Amazon? You might be a small concern and sell via party plan or on Social Media sites. It might be a combination of several ways.

Whichever way you choose, it must be where your customers will expect to find your products, and you need to take into account the shelf life of your products, so if you stock them yourself, you don’t find yourself with hundreds of products coming to the end of their shelf life and you can’t shift them.

Promotion

This links into the place because, just as you need to put your product where potential customers can find it, you need to think about how you will let them know about your products through advertising.  And it needs to be where they will look and also what they look for. For example:

  • Social Media sites
  • Content marketing
  • Influencer marketing
  • Promotions and campaigns
  • Exhibitions or trade stands
  • PR
  • Direct mail
  • Personal selling
  • Advertising in newspapers, magazines, on radio etc.

People

This refers to the people who get your products out in the public eye, which includes you! Anyone who you employ or enlist help from to promote your business, or deliver a promotion or campaign need to have the necessary skills, qualities and drive to ensure its success.

You, and they, need to have excellent communication skills and deliver excellent customer service. After all, this is your reputation at stake and how you and anyone you employ behaves, impacts the way your customers will perceive you and your brand. You might need to delegate some of the work to a Social Media Manager, for example, who will know when and how to promote, and importantly, what will work best for your business. So, you need people around you who are like-minded, will effectively market your brand and encourage customers to spread the word about your products or services. And, never forget to keep learning and training yourself and your employees to develop new and relevant skills that will further enhance your business.

Process

The processes are what is involved in delivering your products to your customers. How your products are delivered will have a huge impact on the overall customer experience, their satisfaction levels and whether they will be loyal to your business in future. It’s absolutely vital to get this right from the very start.

Processes include:

  • Website experience – is your website easy to navigate? Are your contact details in a prominent or obvious place so you are easy to do business with?
  • Delivery time – do you have a good delivery process? Is it reliable? Does your website and product description (if selling online), tell people about delivery times and what they should expect?  
  • If your products are in a physical shop, what are the waiting times? Do they have to pre-order or can they just find the product in stock and in-store?
  • Aftercare – this is important too. Do you follow up after a sale to ask if the customer is happy with the product? If you do, and they are happy with your product, ask for a review to be left on your website or social media pages, or ask them to recommend their friends and family. You could even offer a 10% discount off their next purchase if they recommend you and that person buys from you.

Physical evidence

Finally, the last P, is physical evidence. This refers to absolutely everything that your customers see and feel when interacting with your business. From the feelings your customers have when visiting a physical environment, such as a shop or office, to the area where you show your products or services, which may be online.

It cover all the physical equipment, such as invoices, receipts, confirmation emails, ‘thank-you’ cards, packaging and branding. All of these things make up the impression that customers will have at every stage of an interaction with you and your company or brand. People expect excellence in every aspect of business and they should get the quality and service that they expect…and of those that are set as industry standards.

It also includes how you act and relate to your customers. Are you awkward and aloof, or relaxed and friendly?

All these factors contribute to the overall customer experience, so make sure that your customers have a great one!   

Benefits of using the 7 Ps in your marketing planning

The 7 Ps gives you a fantastic framework for your marketing planning. It will help you do a thorough job, so for each product you sell, or service you provide, ensure that each one follows the best practices of the 7 Ps. After all, it is referred to as the ‘Marketing Mix’ – it is the right marketing mix to put in place to make sure that each campaign, each project, each product will be successful. The 7Ps can also help you look at previous projects or campaigns that were not successful. I’m sure you’ll find that they weren’t in line with the 7Ps.

As I said at the very beginning of this article, the 7 Ps are a set of key principles that are at the heart of all marketing strategies. They help make the different between instinct-led marketing and process-led marketing, which in most cases is a more sure-fire way to success.

I hope this article has helped you to understand how the 7 Ps fit in and why they are such an important part of marketing theory. Let me know what you thought about this article in the comments below.

How to identify your target market

Your customers are your biggest assets; they love your brand, buy your products or services, recommend you to friends and family, give you rave reviews and are loyal to your business. It totally makes sense to have a customer-first mind-set and this is now firmly embedded in the culture of most big corporations. They recognise and understand that building the right customer relationships are crucial; it not only builds trust and loyalty, but also results in repeat business and recommendations. This is just as important, if not more so, with the small business. It’s not something that can be achieved overnight, but if you work on getting to know your customers like the back of your hand, your business will succeed. 

You can’t successfully market your business if you don’t know who you’re targeting. Who is your ideal customer? What is their persona? Why would they want to buy your particular products or services? All these questions and more need to be answered so you know what your ideal customer looks like and what makes them tick. Then you will be better placed to target them with your marketing.

Identifying your target market is all about three things; Demographic, Geographics and Psychographics. 

Demographics

  • What is their age and gender?
  • Are they married or living together?
  • Do they have children?
  • What do they do for a living?
  • If you know what they do for a living, what is their rough income?
  • Do they own their own home?

You can usually gain demographic information from your existing customers by simply talking to them. Social media accounts can also give you relevant demographic information. If your customers are on Facebook, for example, you can usually see information like date of birth, relationship status – people seem to love to share about their lives on social media, so you will probably see if they have children or grandchildren, what they do for a living etc.

You could also get this information from feedback you get. For example, if you make and produce quality rag dolls, you may have feedback that says “Love your product, my daughter/grand-daughter loves her doll and hasn’t put it down since she received it.”  This tells you that your customer is a Mum and Grandma and that she likes buying things for her grandchildren.

Knowing the demographics of your existing customers makes it easier to tailor your marketing accordingly.

If you’re really not sure who your target market it, go to Google and research some of your competitors, people who do the same as you, and look at their marketing techniques. Who are they targeting and how? What are the messages they are sending out? What images do they use? What media do they use to advertise? You will then have an idea of what direction you should be aiming for with your business. 

Geographics

This is the simplest – where do your target market live? Are they local to you? Just in a particular region? In the same country, but miles away – nationwide? Or international – in other countries?

Psychographics – why customers buy what they do

If demographics look at who your customers are, psychographics take you a bit further into their lives to find out why they buy the things they do. What motivates them and what makes them tick.

Psychographics include things like:

  • Interests
  • Activities
  • Religious beliefs
  • Attitudes
  • Personality
  • Spending habits
  • Lifestyle choices

Interests

You might think this relates to hobbies, but it’s more than that. It’s more about what you’re interested in, rather than partake in. It’s probably the most telling feature on the list as ‘interests’ covers a wide range of things. Interests will include life experiences and are shaped by all sort of things, such as culture, upbringing and socioeconomic status.

For example:

  • If you have a child, you will be interested in raising them. You will look on Google for ways to be a better parent, how to keep them amused, how to deal with certain problems etc. You will spend time during the day automatically learning how to be a good parent and thinking about being a good parent, as well as playing with and talking to your child.
  • You may be interested in getting fit. You might want to change the way you look by losing weight, gaining weight, toning up muscles. This might have an impact on what you eat and drink, how you spend your time and where you go. You might go running, go to the gym, do a line dancing or salsa class!
  • You might be interested in getting rich, so will be interested in how people get rich quick, in celebrities and their lifestyles. You might google ‘get rich quick’ schemes or business opportunities.
  • You might simply be interested in going out with your friends and having a great time, drinking and eating in good restaurants, or just clubbing and getting drunk! This might spark an interest in fashion and accessories or fine wines and Michelin star restaurants. 

One person’s interests will change over time. What you liked to do when you were a child are vastly different to your interests as a teenager and as an adult.   

So, looking at this from a target market point of view, interests will not necessarily characterise your target market – you’ll want to look at a range of interests to suit each of your products or services.

Activities

Now then, activities is the section that could be described as hobbies. As part of psychographic research, you are going to want to know what activities or hobbies your target audience get involved in. You’ll get answers like reading, writing, going to the gym, fishing, taking part in a sport, computer games, playing a musical instrument, singing, painting…you get the picture. The list is endless, but the more information you can gather about your ideal customer or target market, the better you’ll understand them. 

You also need to think about people who answer that they don’t have a hobby or many interests. How can you word the question so that you get some kind of answer? One way would be to say, ‘how do you spend your free time when you’re not working?’ Some people might be workaholics and actually spend all their time commuting to and from work and at work, so that when they’re home, it’s eat and sleep…yes, there are those that do that! But this still gives you an answer, and I bet that if they commute on public transport, they’ll be glued to their phone, so may see your ads or marketing. You can still target them.

Someone else might say that they spend their free time with their family – they may have children and they take up all their free time.  It’s good to know that, again you can target parents.

Someone might be involved in their local community, run a Scout or Girl Guide group; they might be involved in church activities or council meetings. I’m sure you get the idea.

Each of these kinds of responses gives you a lot of information about your target market, or your ideal client.

Religious Beliefs

This is pretty obvious – people may be reluctant to give these details, but if they say they attend services for example, you can always ask where and if they enjoy it. Are they an active member? Do they get involved in youth groups or teaching the youngsters about their religion?  

Attitudes

OK, this is a pretty hard one and involves you drilling down further into the lives of your target audience. If you want to discover their attitude or opinion on something, you need to ask questions.

For example, if you sell beauty products, you could ask what they think about beauty products in general. You’ll probably get answers like ‘they must be cruelty free’ or ‘not contain palm oil’, or be vegan-friendly. They may ask if you do products for sensitive skin as they get eczema.

You’d need to think of questions that are related to your particular products or services. Let’s take another example, if you sell some kind of software, you might ask, ‘What do you think about the performance of Microsoft 10, compared to Microsoft 7 or 8?’

Obtaining attitudes to things around them, not just related to your business, gives you a much deeper insight. You could ask about their opinion on the government or wind turbines. Knowing someone’s opinion or attitude to the world around them helps you to know your audience better and know more about what makes them tick. 

Asking questions will also give away details of your targeted market’s personality, their values, what they like to spend money on and their lifestyle choices. 

However, psychographics are difficult to gain and take a huge amount of time, effort and research in order for you to gain all the information you need. This is one of the reasons why big companies have a marketing department, solely dedicated to finding out who the customers are and working out the right way to market their products to attract those customers. If you combine the data you collect on the demographic and psychographics of your customers, you can paint a picture of what your potential buyer (or your buyer persona) will look like and who they are. Let’s have a look at one example …

Buyer persona 

Let’s say you’ve done your research and this is what you have discovered…

Demographic data

  • Female, aged 40 – 55
  • Married with children
  • Household income around £45,000
  • Stay at home Mum who works part-time

Psychographic data

  • Interested in health and fitness
  • Likes to be eco-friendly
  • Is an active member on Facebook and Pinterest
  • Likes socialising with her small group of friends
  • Loves cooking

This demonstrates the difference between the two sets of data and why it’s important to gain both – you have more insight into what your customers might like. Then you can look at your products to see what would interest this kind of customer.

How do you make this relate to your business…and therefore your marketing? I’ll share some examples…

If you have a crafting business, for example, and your crafting activities were soap making or candle making, you’d know that this customer likes natural ingredients that are environmentally friendly and safe for children, so that could be part of your marketing angle.

If you are in the catering industry, making cakes or preserves, she might be interested in special birthday cakes for her family or in your preserves and pickles that use natural ingredients.

Her children are likely to have birthday parties and her friends are likely to have children of a similar age, so anything you make from a crafting perspective may be of interest – bunting for parties, toys, jewellery, etc. And as she enjoys socialising with her small group of friends, she may be interested in hosting an at-home party to buy your craft products.

Where to find her

Once you have this data, you’ll also know where to find her and this is very important. She may attend local fitness clubs or gyms; she may visit a local spa; she will enjoy lunches out at restaurants or bars with her group of friends. This is where you could leave your flyers and business cards.

Now you know what your customer looks like and what she’s interested in, you can tailor blogs to suit her, you can make products you know she’ll like, and you can find out if she has any particular problem that your products can solve. 

Survey your existing customers

If you already have a raft of existing customers who buy from you regularly or even customers that have bought once or twice, hopefully you will have asked for their email address, so you can let them know when you launch new products or have any special offers etc. If you have emails of customers, send them a simple survey asking them some simple questions. You can gain both demographic and psychographic information this way, but you can also find out what products of yours they like, what they don’t like, what could be improved and what other products they’d like to see you supply.

Analyse the feedback you have from your customers

Do you have feedback from your customers? Do they recommend certain products? If they do, what reason do they give for the recommendation? It might be that the reason they give is a great tip on how to market that product.

If you have any negative feedback or complaints, don’t put them away and forget them or let them get you down.

You should look at negative feedback/complaints as an opportunity. What are they complaining about and why? Can that product be improved? Imagine being able to go back to a customer telling them that you took their complaint or feedback on board, looked at ways to improve the product and have come up with a new and better product. Then offer to let them have it at a reduced price.

This shows goodwill, shows you’ve listened to that customer, done something about it and then offered the improved version. They will feel valued as a customer, feel that they’ve contributed and will be much more likely to sing your praises and recommend you to their friends and family. You’ve just turned around a complaint into a compliment!

How do your customers like to buy their products?

These days, I would hazard a guess that most of your customers will want to look at products/services online before they buy. They have such a wide choice that it’s important you make yours stand out. People spend their commute to work, breaks, lunch hour, evenings and weekends online, usually browsing through social media sites or looking for something specific. If you are not on these platforms then your products/services will not be found.

Selling online

Social Media is a great way to promote your products or services and to advertise what you do. But, you also have to bear in mind that not everyone is on social media. If your target market is in the older age bracket, they may prefer not to be on social media, so you will have to reach them another way.  

Even though they don’t do social media, your target audience probably still uses the internet to search for things they want. You could set up an online shop on eBay, Spotify or Etsy.

A website is a crucial business tool – you can link it to your Social Media sites and vice versa. A website can help you reach a wider audience – it gives you a shop front that is open 24/7 – you can even sell when you are sleeping and you can sell to anyone in the world!

You can put more information about yourself and your business and products or services that you can on Social Media and, if you have an online shop, you can point your customers to that site. Whatever you choose to do, there is always a marketing technique to support it. If you have a website, you can also choose to add a blog, which could also be a fabulous tool to write about your individual products or services … just another way to get your name/business out there.

I know this has been a very long post, but I hope that it give you inspiration and fires you up to investigate your target market in more detail. Once you are armed with all the relevant information, and market your products or services to that audience, you stand a much better chance of making a sale or obtaining a new customer for your services.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this blog, please like and follow me for more marketing information for small businesses. And if you have any comments, I’d be pleased to hear from you.

A little less conversation, a little more action!

Create a perfect CTA

A CTA is a call to action. Quite simply, it’s you telling someone who visits your website, newsletter or blog to do something. If done well, it will be well designed and thought out, draw the eye of the reader and encourage them to act on something.

It is your last instruction to your audience and tells them to complete a specific task – click on the button!

You need a strong CTA

You don’t just need a CTA, you need a strong CTA that convinces your audience to react. The two main functions of a CTA is to tell someone what to do next and also give them the motivation to do it.

However it’s all very well telling someone to sign up to something, they also need to know why; what’s in it for them?  How does it benefit them? How will it make their life easier or better? You may have already written a paragraph before the CTA telling them the ‘why’, but a reiteration or a recap never hurts and will make the CTA all the more powerful.   

It’s important to put the CTA in the right place, in front of the right people at the right time. They are the perfect way to get your audience to do what you want them to and to get what you want, be that signing up to your newsletter, downloading your e-book or workbook, clicking to get a free checklist, lead generation, traffic to your website or blog or to simply buy direct. They can be used to educate, inspire and engage your audience, generating trust in your business and brand.

How to write a CTA

Before you begin to write a CTA, you need to know what you’re trying to achieve with it.

  • Is it to get someone to sign up to your newsletter?
  • Is it to boost sales?
  • Is it to get your reader to move to another piece of content?
  • Is it directing your reader to some free content?

As soon as you know what you want to achieve, you can start to think about the best way to do that.

Make sure your words or phrases speak directly to your audience and try and be as specific as possible. Whilst things like ‘click here’ are OK, it’s not particularly strong or inspiring, whilst something more specific would be ‘Get your XXXXX now!’ or ‘Discover more now!’ – They just sound a little bit more enticing.

Who are your audience?

Think about your audience. Who are you aiming your CTA at? Is it a specific audience? Your CTA will be seen online, and each internet user is completely different. Some might be online absently browsing news items or shopping offers…some might be watching Netflix or looking for music on YouTube. There are lots of different audiences, so if you know who you’re aiming for, you can tailor the CTA accordingly.

For example, if you have uploaded a video to YouTube, your CTA might be ‘Watch my video now!’ or ‘Watch demo’.

If you are a Chef or love baking and have put a video of you making a cake, your CTA might be ‘Get recipe now’ or ‘Learn to make xxxx’

But it’s not just about having a jazzy button telling someone what to do, you need to lead up to it with some tempting copy too. Never assume that your audience will see a button and click on it because most won’t. They need to be told to do it – it needs to be crystal clear and once they press that button, the instructions also need to be very clear, not at all vague. Don’t use long words and clever language and don’t use jargon. Gently guide your audience in the right direction, you want to attract their attention, not scare them away.

Include them in the introduction to the CTA, using words like ‘you’, ‘your’ and ‘we’. This makes them feel valued and their decision is important to you. Focus on the reason they need to do whatever it is. Why is this going to be so good for them? How does it benefit them? Does it solve a problem they have? People love to get something for nothing, or to feel they are getting a real bargain, so if you’re offering something and there is a cost attached to it, why is it such a bargain – what are they getting for their money?

It’s also good to instigate a feeling of urgency – do it now or you’ll miss out on this fabulous bargain. Is it a one-time only offer? Is it at a specially reduced price for the first 20 people to sign up? Is there limited availability? Is the offer only available for a limited time? All these things signify an urgency – telling your audience that they need to take immediate action.

And ultimately, keep the copy short and sweet – your audience don’t want to read a long description – they’ll get bored and scroll on by. It needs to be appealing, persuasive, but short, snappy and to the point. So you need to get the benefits of what you’re offering and why in as few words as possible. This can take some time to get right, so don’t stress if you can’t get it straight away.  

Make your CTA look good

Not only should your copy be snappy and appealing, it also needs to be aesthetically pleasing too. People won’t read it if it doesn’t look good. Give it some space – never underestimate white space, it can be used to highlight a CTA very well. Give it a good colour scheme, maybe include a good image. You might have to test a few before you come up with the right formula that works for you, but once you do, they’ll be no stopping you.

Now it’s time for you to go to your website, blog or wherever you have a call to action and make sure it is clear and specific for your audience, or if you haven’t got one, go set one up.

Make sure your audience know what they have to do next and why. And let me know what CTAs you use!

Face to face! Interview with author, Denise Bloom

Today I am very pleased to be able to introduce my readers to Denise Bloom, author of ‘The Ladies of Whitechapel’, her latest novel. Grab a cup of whatever you like to drink and sit back and learn more about the lovely Denise.

I had met Denise a few times socially before she asked me to build her a website. It was truly a pleasure to meet her properly in her wonderful home, and to share our love of writing. We talked for a couple of hours about her books, her writing and her writing group. I also learned a bit about her house and her life. And all with a lovely cup of tea and biscuits!  

Denise and her latest novel

Initially we met to discuss the fact that she wanted a website. I asked her loads of questions about her target market, the purpose of her website and how she wanted it to look and feel for her readers.

Following an initial telephone call, she had done some research herself on the kind of site she wanted by looking at the websites of other authors and between us, we came up with an initial design, then decided on the pages, the content and how it would all be presented. It is obviously very important to Denise that part of the website’s function is to showcase and sell her books, via a link to Amazon, so we looked at how that would work.

Denise also runs a writing group in her local area, Writer’s Cramp, and she wanted to make this a page on the website to encourage people to write, and showcase some of her group’s work each month.

Denise is lucky enough to live in a fabulous old house which, from the outside, looks like something out of Hammer House of Horror! I absolutely loved it from the start and was sure that it would have some effect on inspiring her to write. Find out more about this in the interview! 

She has been writing for as long as she can remember and already has one previously published book, ‘The Invisible Woman‘, which is a darkly chilling and compelling read! This new book, ‘The Ladies of Whitechapel‘, is about the lives of four women and their demise at the hands of Jack the Ripper. I’m not going to give any more of the story away, but you must read it!  

Now that Denise has her website up and running, and her book is published and on sale through Amazon, we thought we would collaborate.  I wanted to interview Denise about her writing and her book, as well as her website for a mini case study – interview style, and Denise wanted to start a blog, with the first post as an interview about her book, so it made sense to combine the two. Although our blog posts will be taken from the same interview, they will be from slightly different perspectives. 

Without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to Denise… 

Denise and her thoughts

Denise, you have been a writer for a while now, but what actually made you want to become a writer?

I have always written stories, right back from being little. I remember, I used to write short plays for my friends. We would practice them and would then perform them in front of our parents!

You’ve been writing since you were small, but when did you realise it was something you’d like to do seriously?

When I was in my teens, I wrote short stories and always wanted to write a book.

What made you pick your particular genre?

I feel a bit of a fraud here!  I can write in any genre, even fantasy. However, the reason I wrote ‘The Invisible Woman’ was that I always loved crime novels.

Ian Rankin and Agatha Christie are among my favourites. At that particular time in my life, I felt invisible, a feeling that overtakes most women at a certain time of life. I just wrote how I was feeling at that moment.  And NO, I didn’t kill anyone, but it didn’t mean that I have never felt like killing someone!

My sequel to ‘The Ladies of Whitechapel’ is almost finished but I cannot give the title away just yet. It is very dark almost horror.

If you could give your younger writing self some advice on writing, what would it be?

The advice to my younger self would be to save all the work you have done in the past. Never throw any of your work away.

How do you decide on the names for your characters?

The names of my characters are taken from the most popular names of the year they were born. You can do this on Google. However, I have chosen names and then changed them mid-book because I didn’t feel the name suited my character. 

Do you want each of your books to stand alone, or are you trying to build connections between each book you write?

‘The Invisible Woman’ was successful and most of my readers have begged me to write a sequel. I have one on the back burner, so Heather can live another day!

‘The Ladies of Whitechapel’, although stands alone as a story, has really drawn me into the Victorian era. I have a written a short piece that will be included in an anthology of short stories, called ‘Dark London’, which will be available from June. It includes a couple of my characters from ‘The Ladies of Whitechapel’.

I’m also just finishing a novella, again based in Whitechapel, so watch this space!

Does your beautiful, haunting home inspire your writing? If it does, how?

I have written a ghost story about my house. The area we live in has a history of the resistance and collaboration. I got absorbed in the research and the book is set in both the present day and 1940 Vichy France.

Reasons for your website

It certainly sounds like you have been keeping busy, Denise. I’d like to now ask you a few questions about your website …

Why did you decide to have an author website?

I decided to have an author website, because most of the authors I know have one. People are interested in what you write, why you write and how you write. Instead of answering emails or loads of questions, you can instead guide them to your site, where hopefully, you have the answers.

You have a page on your website for your writer’s group, ‘Writer’s Cramp’. What made you want to start a writer’s group?

I started ‘Writer’s Cramp’ a couple of years ago. I had been attending creative writing classes, run by Kate Rose, a very talented writer and poet. When Kate moved away from the area, we all wanted to keep on writing together and to keep running, so the group was born.

You chose a very minimalist look for your website – why?

The style I chose for my author’s site had to be simple for me to use. I am really not a ‘frills’ person. I like things to be straight forward, and wanted my website to do the job! It’s important to me that my website is easy to navigate for my readers without them having to search or scroll endlessly.

Is there anything you think you might like to add to your website at a later date?

Obviously I want to add a blog, of which this interview is the first post! I think as my books are published and my writing group evolves, I will think of other things I want to add.

For the writing group, I would like them to be able to add their stories, or send them to me if they want me to review a piece. And of course, I will be changing the stories on the website every month, so different members of the writing group get their work ‘published’. 

 I often look at other authors on the internet, so may see something else I like from their sites. However, I am always open to suggestions and as you, Cindy, are on the ball with new innovations, I know that you’ll come up with more great ideas and will guide me to what is current!

Thank you for the confidence you have in me, Denise! I’m really pleased that you are happy with your site and that it does the job! I’m sure that through our future meetings and conversations, we will come up with new ideas. I know we’ve talked about book reviews, so that’s something we will be adding.

Thank you so much for your time and for sharing a little bit of you with my readers and with yours! If any of you have read any of Denise’s books, we would love to hear from you in the comments below.  

If you’d like to take a look at Denise’s website, please click here.

If you would like a website for your business, or need any kind of creative writing for blogs, website content, articles or product descriptions, or would like a free consultation call to discuss a marketing strategy or business plan for your business, feel free to contact me.

Time for a new normal?

Getting your business back on track after Covid 19

Since the Covid 19 pandemic, many small businesses have been in lockdown. Some will still have managed to keep afloat with help from the government or savings; some will have been able to carry on their work from home; some online businesses may not have been affected at all. But the truth is, no matter how big or small our businesses are, just the fact that we’ve been in lockdown and subjected to a constant bombardment of negative news, is bound to have had affected us all one way or another.

It’s looking like over the coming weeks and months, things will very slowly start to return to some kind of normal…but will it be the normal we know? The normal we’re used to? How are we going to get ourselves and our businesses back on track?

One thing that I think this pandemic has taught all of us in business is that we need to be flexible and ready for change, so it might be worth recording everything you’ve learned, and continue to learn during this crisis, so you can have a contingency plan in place to help you through the next few months. I hear you… how do you do that? Where do you even start?

It might be that your business has to take a different direction, maybe look at new services or products that are relevant to your customers now… and beyond the pandemic. It’s really important to keep in touch with your existing customers…have you thought about giving them a ring to see how they are? Or sending them an email or online message? As well as asking if they and their families are OK, you can ask for their input…ask them how you can help them in the near future. Their needs and wants may have changed and they might want something different from you.

Communication with customers is going to be crucial as you move your business forward, so having their input and opinions will help…and to a certain extent, the experiences they have encountered with the pandemic. There may be new problems that your products or services can solve that you hadn’t thought of before. Or there may be something new that you can develop as a result of your customer feedback.

Can creativity emerge out of lockdown and through all the chaos we’ve witnessed, will you see growth? Some businesses have changed tack, for example, restaurants and cafes have had to adapt or close; some of them have chosen to offer a takeaway service, so they’re still earning something; some are offering a home delivery service; they’re still serving their customers and keeping themselves out there. Is there anything you can do with your business to keep yourselves in the forefront of your customer’s minds?

My customers don’t have money to spend

For many small businesses, lockdown has meant a steep decline in sales of products and less use of services, so income and profits are taking a massive hit. Is it possible during this time to start looking at new sales channels?

If you sell products, could you expand to creating an e-store, such as Etsy or Ebay? People are bored and online all the time and figures have shown that they are still choosing to buy online. If you’re not online, they can’t find you…it’s that age old, you’ve got to be in it to win it situation.

Do you have a website? It’s fairly easy to set up a straight forward website to show your products and you can just add a PayPal button if you don’t want to set up a full online website store.

If you have a website already, have you thought about starting a blog to talk to your customers about your products and the problems they solve? This isn’t about making a hard sell, but more about giving your customers and potential customers information about what you sell. You could also add an opt-in on your website so people can sign up for a monthly newsletter, where once again, you can show how your products or services can benefit them.

And of course, social media has billions of subscribers every hour of every day, from all over the world. Post regularly to get your business name known and help you stand out from the crowd. Go ‘live’ and talk to your customers, even if only for 30 seconds, or make a short one minute video about your products or services. Video gives customers the chance to see you in the flesh; they feel like they are interacting with you and you are being invited into their homes. Just be you, let your personality shine through and just talk. I know this is hard and something I know I need to do myself, but I hate myself on camera! I’m sure there are many people who feel the same, but I know we’ve got to get ourselves out there and video is the way to go! If you get to like it, you could set up your own YouTube channel.

If you hate being in front of the camera, how about a podcast? This is a fast growing market and you just have to talk, not be on camera. It’s just an audio recording to keep in touch with your customers and find new ones.   

Once you have created new sales channels, don’t forget to shout about it on your social media sites, email your customers and make sure you are marketing what you’ve done.  

It’s never too late

It’s never too late to prepare, never too late to do something about your business. Governments have generally been quite good in offering aid to small businesses, so take advantage of that.

If you belong to social media groups for your type of business, ask questions about what others are doing – don’t be afraid to ask for advice.

You might be able to start up a conversation or thread to brainstorm positive or strategic ideas. Or, if you have employees, why not ask them for ideas for the business that are different to what you currently offer. Draft in family members on Facetime or video chat – ask them for advice and ideas – family like to feel involved and they might come up with some really creative ideas.  

Whatever it is that you decide to do and whichever direction you decide to take, it’s important to keep moving and keep on, keeping on! Doing something…anything, is better than doing nothing at all.    

How you react to this crisis and how others see you react will define you and your business in future. They will see that you are resilient, even if you aren’t able to run your business as normal.

Please feel free to share your ideas in the comments below – I’d love to see what innovative ideas you’ve come up with!

The Sunshine Blogger Award

Hi everyone,

A few days ago I was nominated for a Sunshine Blogger Award. It’s a different kind of award to the big industry awards in that it is an award by bloggers to other bloggers. What a fab idea to bring a bit of sunshine into our lives when everywhere around us is doom and gloom at the moment!  I was very honoured and so happy to have been nominated by someone I don’t personally know,  Debby Winter, as it means she has come across my blog, liked it and nominated me. That means a lot!

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Debby and tell you a bit about her. She is an SEO blogger (Search Engine Optimization) and offers a range of low cost SEO services. She likes jogging, swimming and skiing and, if she could go back in time to any century, she would love to go back and sing with Homer and chat with Cleopatra! If you’d like to find out more about Debby and what she does, swing over to her website… https://debbyseo.wordpress.com/seo/

I have been blogging for a few years now, doing just a fun blog to start with about my new life in France with my partner. Then, when I started as a freelance writer, decided to start a blog about marketing to help small businesses.  

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a Freelance Writer and Marketing Consultant for small businesses and I am based in France, although have clients in different places around the globe! That’s the great thing about an online business, I can write for anyone, no matter where in the world they are! Writing has always been my passion, so I’m lucky to be able to do it for a living. My blog articles cover marketing tips for anyone with a small business, from SEO to website pages, branding to social media.

Sunshine Blogger Award

My Nominees: Of course, the Sunshine Blogger Award isn’t an official award, but it’s a fun way of spreading motivation and inspiration. To get the flow going I have selected a handful of nominees and left a message on their blogs. If you read this and like to get involved (and why wouldn’t you?) don’t be shy and consider yourself nominated!! My nominees are

Wordstostoriesofficejockeystraveladdictedunicornjocajicsocialmediaandcoffeelittleconquestasociallyfataleoftooawkwardhistorymaniacmeganscatteredthoughts  

OK, now to answer Debby’s questions…

1) Are you familiar with SEO strategies? Have you optimized your site yourself? Did you do off site or on site SEO for your blog or website and are you happy with the results?
I am familiar with SEO strategies and I built, designed and optimized my website myself…both on-site and off-site SEO. I am happy but there is always room for improvement!

2) What is the most embarrassing clothing item you have ever worn?
A brightly multi-coloured shellsuit in the 1980s when I was a young Mum. I thought I was the bees knees at the time, but looking back, it was just awful!…and so was the overly big hair!

3) Have you ever intentionally broken the law? When? Where? and how?
No, I haven’t broken the law – I would have been too scared when I was younger of the wrath of my Mum and used to be married to a policeman, so it wouldn’t have gone down well! But now that I’m not……!!! 

4) If you were given $750 to spend on anything you wanted, what would you buy?
I would treat myself and my partner to a holiday in the sun when all this lockdown is over! And spend some of it on my lovely grandchildren!

5) If you had enough money that you never needed to work again, what would you do with your time?
I would still have to write, but would try all different types of writing and go to exotic places just to get the inspiration. My partner and I have said if we had loads of money, we’d buy property all over the world, so we could live in permanent Spring time!

6) If you could start over your life and change one thing, what would you change?
I’d have started my own business when I was a lot younger and found it easier to learn new things!

7) What do you consider your greatest strength, your greatest weakness?
My greatest strength has to be my sense of optimism, and I always try to see the good in everyone. Even though I’ve had my fair share of knocks in life, I always manage to get up, dust myself down and start all over again.
My greatest weakness is that I have a tendency to let my good nature be taken advantage of. And chocolate…I love chocolate! 

8) What have you tried lately that is new and exciting?
It’s not something I’ve tried yet, but I’m working up to it…doing live video and recorded video on my website and social media pages. I hate being in front of the camera but am both scared and excited at the same time.  

9) What was the greatest adventure in your life so far?
I went to India on a four week work assignment for my company’s charity arm. I worked with an NGO in Chennai – The Banyan, who help take mentally ill women off the streets and rehabilitate them. I worked with the NGO’s communication team, training them and pulling together a workable plan to communicate with their 100 employees across three different locations and in 16 different Indian languages. It was a huge challenge, but I loved every minute, absolutely fell in love with the country, the culture and its people and I have so many fond memories of all the people I met and sights I saw. I had never flown long haul before then and never thought I would have such an adventure, travelling by myself – it taught me a lot about myself.  

10) What makes you happiest and when you think about it you cannot help but smile?
My children and grandchildren. I miss them all so much and the lockdown means I probably won’t see them for a long while yet.
And I love singing with my partner, who is a musician – it’s lovely to have a hobby in common and something that you enjoy doing with your OH. 

11) Are some people’s lives worth more than others? Why or why not?
This is highly contentious! Generally no, I think we should all be equal and a life is a life and should all be cherished. But what about the people in the world who choose to rape, murder etc? Are their lives worth more than their victims? I’ll leave that one with you! 

My favourite articles:

My favourite articles on this blog are the ones around SEO and Hashtags and also the articles about GDPR. Risk was something I did a lot in my previous job and so this is something I’m very interested in and know a lot about. Not many people know but it is mandatory to have a privacy policy on your website (certainly if you are in the UK or Europe), so I also specialise in writing those pages. Check out my marketing services to see how I can help your small business get noticed and my writing services , where you can find out the services I offer.

Sunshine Blogger Award

My Questions:

  1. What social media channels do you use and why?

  2. What is the scariest thing you’ve ever done?

  3. What is your favourite pizza topping?

  4. What’s the number 1 thing you need most help with in your business right now?

  5. If you had enough money that you never needed to work again, what would you change?

  6. What is the weirdest smell you’ve ever smelled?

  7. What secret conspiracy would you like to start?

  8. What are your strengths and what are your weaknesses?

  9. What’s your favourite music album of all time?

  10. What has been your greatest adventure in life so far?

  11. What makes you happiest and when you think about it, you cannot help but smile?

THE RULES

* Introduce yourself

* Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to their site
https://cindyfreelancewriter.com/

* Provide a link to a favourite article on your blog

* Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you

* List all rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award in your blog post.

* Nominate 11 new bloggers and their blogs. Leave a comment on their blog to let them know they received the reward and ask your nominees 11 questions.

That’s all for now folks, if you liked this post don’t be a stranger and feel free to take a shot at it yourself, and remember to comment, like and share!

With love

Cindy Mobey 

Discover the secrets of delegation for small businesses

Unless you’ve actually owned your own small business, it’s difficult to tell someone what it’s like – you need vision, passion, a huge helping of optimism and lots of positive energy to start a business from scratch. Then you have to maintain a high level of dedication and work hard to pull everything together. There is so much to think about, from sorting out your products/services, your brand, website, social media marketing, online marketing, ads, as well as running your business and all the day to day things that entails.  

Most of us who own a small business launch ourselves headlong into everything, have our fingers in every pie. But even during the early stages of your business, it’s often worth getting some help with some aspects, such as building your website, designing a logo and advice on building your brand. However, I know that most of us will try and do everything ourselves and eventually there will come a time when you find you can’t do everything on your own AND keep your business successful and thriving.

It’s impossible to work 24 hours a day, so there comes a point where something has to give. You either have to think about what you can stop doing, or you have to think about delegating some of the tasks you’re either not that good at, or don’t like doing, or simply need someone with more expertise to get it right. It can feel like a tough call to make as your business is, in many ways, your baby. I understand that only too well, and delegating or outsourcing some of the work means you have to give up a certain amount of control over that area.

How do you decide what to delegate?    

First of all, why is delegating so important to you and your business? The most important aspect must be that it makes financial sense – that you’ll make more money by passing a task on to someone else, than if you tried to do it yourself.

Most businesses think nothing of employing someone to do their accounts or tax return. Most are happy that they are handing it over to a professional and you trust them to do it properly. It’s the same principle with the other aspects of your business that you want to pass onto someone else.

Another thing to think about is the stress factor. If you try to do too much and are working long hours, six to seven days a week to keep your business running, you are in serious danger of suffering from burnout. As well as making you physically and mentally ill, it can leave you feeling trapped, detached from the very business you love and with no motivation to pull yourself back up again.

You are the leader, the boss, of your business. If you had an employee who was not coping with the sheer amount of work he/she had, what would you do? You would most probably remove some of the stress that person was under by giving some of their work to someone else to relieve the stress they were feeling.

As the leader of your business, you need to make the best use of the resources you have. Your time, energy and enthusiasm MUST be spent on working on the most important and core parts of your business.  

OK, time to put your thinking cap on. First of all, do not pass on any tasks that are the absolute core of your business – things that you need to have absolute control over and MUST do yourself. Think of a big company like DELL or Apple. They come up with the innovative ideas for their products that fit their brand and also work on the design, so they know exactly what they want and what it will look like. But they don’t manufacture the devices themselves – that is outsourced.

For a smaller business, it could be that you design and produce something yourself and you get involved in everything around that. But you may not have the expertise or time to spend on social media, your blog, your website or sending out your monthly newsletter. That’s where you can get someone else to do that for you.

Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of passing work on to someone else.

Advantages

  • You get to work with experts, who will bring a fresh perspective to your business and may come up with ideas you hadn’t thought of.  
  • Work will get done more quickly by passing on things that are time consuming.
  • It gives you the chance to focus on the skills you bring to your business – strengthening the processes that make your business work.
  • Some of the risk is shared – by delegating certain processes or maybe a campaign, you will benefit from their ability to plan and alleviate potential risks.
  • It’s always going to cost less to outsource small pieces of work than hiring someone on a permanent basis.
  • If you decide to outsource work overseas, due to time zone differences, a certain amount of work will get done whilst you are sleeping!
  • You will be able to do more effective and targeted campaigns and projects that you wouldn’t normally have the time to take on.
  • Finally, you get peace of mind knowing that you have hired a reliable individual or agency and that the tasks you have assigned will be handled in a professional and efficient manner.

Disadvantages

  • You do lose some control over how the tasks you assign are being monitored and performed, but so long as you take this into account when hiring and understand how the other person/agency works, it shouldn’t be a big issue.
  • Make sure you read all the terms and conditions of whoever you hire. Some big agencies have very long contracts and you could find yourself with hidden costs if you don’t read all the small print. With an individual, the terms and conditions tend to be more straight-forward.
  • Be aware of data protection. With the new GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations), you need to be very vigilant if you are outsourcing tasks that use your customer data. You need to be aware of the privacy rules – always worth thinking about, although most individuals offering freelance work/agencies will be aware of the rules and regulations, so always worth checking.
  • Although rare I’m sure, some individuals/agencies will be more interested in the money they are earning, than giving a good quality service…as I say this is rare and most are reputable, but just something else to be aware of.
  • If you are outsourcing or delegating work overseas, you will need to check that anything you ask them to do doesn’t get lost in translation. Make sure they understand exactly what you expect and by when. And you need to be aware of the different time zones for anything that is needed by a particular deadline.

In conclusion, if you are looking to get more stuff done in less time, so you can concentrate on the core aspects of your business, then delegating tasks or outsourcing projects or campaigns might be the best way forward for you and for your business. 

The Coronavirus Lockdown and your mental health

With the Coronavirus came the inevitable…lockdown and self-isolation. For many, it’s a chance to catch up on all those jobs we’ve been meaning to do, (and an ideal time to get your OH to do everything he says he’s going to do ‘when he has time!’). You might be literally self-isolating completely by yourself, or you may have a husband, wife or partner – your children or parents may be with you.

No matter what your own situation, for those who suffer from anxiety or have mental health issues, it might be a time of consternation and worry, exacerbating symptoms and a feeling of helplessness, although for some their anxiety may be the thought of having to go out and what might be out there.  

For those who run their own businesses, it might be that you’ve had to close your business and you’re worrying about money, which is a big stress factor. So are there any coping mechanisms that can help during this tough time?

Psychologists are saying that it’s normal to feel worried and anxious in a crisis like this…the virus is new; so far there is no vaccination and it is stumping even the experts. But the stress you feel around this can be managed.

How to cope

There are many ways to keep yourself occupied, so you don’t have time to think about the virus and to help relieve stress and anxiety…

  • The first step is to recognise your symptoms – to know that you are suffering from a mental health issue
  • Try to eliminate any toxic thoughts that might contribute to your negativity
  • Don’t watch every news story or read every post on social media about the crisis – it just adds to your stress levels, especially when you see nasty comments and unnecessary hype.
  • Try to focus on what you are grateful for – this could be something as simple as sitting in the garden, watching a sunrise or sunset, or just listening to the birds with your eyes closed
  • Meditation
  • Attempt to maintain a healthy regime – eat meals regularly, go for a daily walk or have some kind of exercise
  • Eat a healthy and nutritious diet which will help your immune system and limit the amount of sugar and alcohol intake. Avoid smoking if you can.
  • Use phone or video apps to connect with your family and friends – a good old chinwag helps alleviate stress
  • Make sure you get plenty of sleep. Sleep is a priority for physical and emotional well-being, as well as for your mental health. This is something that, for me, is a sign I’m stressed – I don’t sleep well.
  • If you are working from home, have regular breaks – drink warm drinks and get away from your work for a while. If it’s nice and you can, get outside and walk around for a few minutes
  • Do you have a hobby? No matter what your hobby is, or used to be, now is the time to get back to it, be it painting, photography, sewing, crochet, yoga etc. If you’d like to learn a new skill, just google search ‘beginners course in XXXX’ – often you’ll find YouTube tutorials or free courses for you to focus on
  • If things are really getting on top of you, seek professional help – there is no shame in asking someone to help you and you might find it’s the best thing you’ve ever done

There are often local support groups you can join…and during this crisis, there are several groups online, such as on Facebook, where like-minded members support each other and help each other out, have a laugh, discuss all sorts of things not related to the virus, share funny stories and jokes – a community you can rely on.  

Take time to look after yourself

Above all, according to Stephen Fry in his recent interview on the Andrew Marr show, we should all just take time. And by this, he means take your sweet old time to do things, for example, clean your teeth, lay out your clothes etc. A routine where you don’t have to rush helps you feel more in control. Stephen Fry has openly admitted in the past that he suffers from mental health issues.

If you’d like to hear the interview, click here.

Looking after your mental health is just as important as looking after your body or keeping your mind active. Letting go of an anxious mind-set is OK. Just try to be…to be you.

More help if you need it

If you want to read more or need to seek professional help, there is a good website in the UK – https://www.mind.org.uk/

And if you’re in France, the French news and views site, The Connexion, has a great article on getting psychiatric help in France, with advice on who to contact – https://www.connexionfrance.com/Archive/Get-psychiatric-help-in-France

We will get through this crisis and some countries are already showing signs of some kind of normality starting to return and daily figures going down. We know that this won’t go on forever. We just have to help each other get through the next few weeks and months and be kind to each other.   

Coronavirus Covid 19 and your small business

No matter where you are in the world, if you run your own small business, be it from home or from small premises, like me you’ll be wondering how you are going to cope if or when you have to close or scale down your business due to the coronavirus pandemic, Covid 19. This is a worldwide crisis like nothing else we’ve ever encountered before, so no wonder everyone is a bit bewildered. 

  • Will I go out of business for good?
  • What if my customers don’t want to come back when it’s all over?
  • How can I keep my business in the spotlight if I want my business to carry on being a success after all this?

The answers all boil down to what you can do right now…NOT what will happen afterwards and that’s what a lot of small businesses are focusing on. However, there are things you can do with your marketing to keep your business in the hearts and minds of your current and prospective future customers. I think that a lot of us have been told that our businesses are ‘non-essential’, but this doesn’t mean not important, just not essential to the running of the country! Of course your business is essential to you, to your family and friends, your customers and your purse! It’s not going to be ‘business as usual’, even if you normally work from home, but now is not the time to be pushing ahead in an aggressive way. You need to be highly sensitive to your customers and the situation that they’re in too. 

How does the Coronavirus affect your customers?  

Obviously how the virus affects your customers and in turn, how that affects you will depend on what you do for a living. If you’re in the beauty industry, (therapist, masseuse, hairdresser etc.), then your business will have to close, as what you do means you can’t possibly remain 2 metres away from your clients. If you sell a product or service, there may be things you’ll need to change – you can no longer do this face to face, so it’s time to get a bit more creative. But before you do, have a think – get out that pen and paper and think about how the virus is affecting your customers. What is keeping them awake at night? How can you help? They may have a specific challenge or worry that you can solve that has nothing to do with the virus.

You may be able to position your business, products or services to be helpful and maybe address some of the problems your customers are facing right now.

So, get out that pen and paper right now (!) and take 15 minutes to think about your customers. Try and answer these three questions…

  1. How can you provide value to your customers – real value to help them and to build up trust between you?
  2. What can you offer your customers right now that they need? Try and be creative here…maybe even a little ‘off the wall’.
  3. How can technology help you to still offer your products and services in a way that you didn’t before?

I definitely don’t in any way mean for you to exploit your customers – definitely not! Remember, people (including us) are all a little bit scared at the moment; we’re all out of our comfort zone and over the coming weeks, maybe longer, we are going to have to adapt to our new ‘normal’.

People who are in business themselves, small businesses as well as bigger corporations, will be spending a lot of time looking for answers to their problems. This could be in the form of solid help, albeit virtual, for their business, advice to help them move their business forward despite the virus. But not only that, there will be hundreds or thousands of people out there looking for products that can be delivered to their homes; if they are ‘locked-in’ without being able to go out for longer than an hour a day, they will be looking for entertainment, things to do, looking for things to read…and yes, turning almost certainly more and more to the internet for inspiration.    

Embrace the change

Time to get out that pen and paper again, can you answer these questions about your business?

  1. People still need and want to buy things. Can you create a space online where people can look at and buy your products or services? If you already have that place online, look at advertising it or, if online on social media, post about your products – without the hard sell or you will get loads of negative comments!
  2. If you run a restaurant or café, can you do takeaway meals or meals that can be delivered?
  3. How can you up your game with your online marketing? As well as just advertising you products on social media, start conversations about your products – ask for opinions and post a photo of the item you’re talking about.
  4. Think about starting up a new social media channel – are you on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest? If not, now is the perfect time to learn how to use these channels. There are lots of free resources online and lots of FB groups where you might be able to get an expert to speak to you one to one.
  5. If you normally have meetings with clients face to face, can you use  Facetime, Skype or Messenger Video?
  6. If you’re in a profession, such as the beauty business where you can’t physically work, can you give people hints and tips on social media about their hair or beauty regimes? Take this time to set yourself up as an expert…it might bring you new customers when you can get back to business. And it keeps your business out there and not forgotten. Focus on your visibility.
  7. Do you have a website? If you do, now is the time to update it; change wording, add new products/services, look at your SEO (search engine keywords and phrases)…in fact, why not go the whole hog and give it a new look and freshen up your brand? Hell, yeah!
  8. You don’t have a website? Well, now you have the time to sit down and think about planning one for when you can afford it. Look at other websites who do the same as you and make a plan as to what you want yours to look like. Think about your brand, how you speak to your customers – what do you want them to come away with after visiting your website? What would a website do for your business?  
  9. Can you pull together some online resources for your customers that you give for free? You can do this no matter what you do for a living. Information sheets in pdf format – ‘how to’ information, ‘what to do if…’ information – the list is endless. If you have an email list, ask people for their email address in exchange for your information sheets, and ask them to confirm that they’d be happy for you to send them a regular email giving details of your products and services.
  10. Start a monthly newsletter with the email addresses you collect. Mail Chimp is a good place to set this up and it’s free until you hit around 2000 subscribers.

Be accessible  

Focus on your accessibility – are you easy to contact? If you are online on social media, or have a website, is your contact details immediately visible? If you email your customers, make sure you give contact details…an email address or telephone number where they can contact you.    

And finally…

Enjoy working on new things – make this time away from the stresses of work, a time that you sit back and take a long, hard look at your business. When you’re back up and running, can you change anything to make it better, more efficient? You have time now to research new products. You have time to learn new things, so you can offer a new service.

If you work from home, clean your desk, clear away the clutter.

If you do decide to put some new practices in place now, make sure you have a measurement in place, so you know if it’s working or not. This saves you wasting your time if it’s not working and then you can look at other ideas. On the other hand, it gives you a boost and the impetus to do more if it is working. 

Above all, during this dreadful virus and the fall-out afterwards, we are all in this together. My message to all the small businesses out there, keep strong, keep safe and keep thinking of new ways to do business.

As a small business myself, I would just love to hear from other small businesses out there – no matter where you are in the world. How are you coping with the virus and the impact on your business? What are you putting in place to help you through the crisis? Do you have any other ideas that people might be able to implement? Feel free to leave a comment here or pop over to email and send me a message cindymobey@outlook.com    

SEO and Social Media

Do you take the time to promote your content on social media, such as Facebook and Instagram? Do you hope that this will boost your search engine rankings?

There are experts out there who think trying to boost your search engine rankings this way is a waste of time. However, there is a link between social media and Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but it isn’t very clear unless you try to understand the relationship between the two. I’m going to have a look at what you need to do to get search ranking from your social presence…and so bring traffic to your website.

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According to Google, social media is NOT a factor that directly affects your SEO ranking, but there is evidence that things like ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ are somehow related to your ranking. However, social ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ are definitely a direct ranking factor for Bing…go figure!

How does social media affect SEO?

Let’s say you write a blog and write a sentence about your latest blog and post the URL link to it on your Facebook page.  It gets lots of likes and shares. Social media is built for people to share content, so the more people that share it, the more visibility your post will have. If friends of friends see your post and then click on the link to your actual blog (the URL), this will take traffic to your website or blog site, so they are linking to your site and it’s that linking to your site that is a major factor in SEO ranking. I know…a bit confusing!

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So how can you optimize your social media for SEO?

  • First of all, do you have several social media sites…Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest? Make sure that you have a consistent profile image so you are more recognisable. Complete all the profile or bio section, making sure it is totally relevant to your business, whilst being attractive enough to appeal to your audience. Include a link to your website and, if you have a newsletter sign up page/opt-in or a particular product campaign on the go, do a link to that too.
  • You hear this all the time, but it is so important…be consistent with your posts and post regular updates. This will be different depending on what social media site you use, for example on Twitter you need to post several times a day, but you don’t need to do this with Facebook or LinkedIn. So post according to guidelines for each different site.
  • Create great posts. Use eye-catching images/photos that attract attention, craft a good catchy headline and actually ASK for a share. This is good optimization and it has been proven that these techniques work.
  • The question I’ve been asked a lot lately is around the use of hashtags. Can they help with SEO? Hashtags are keywords, so yes, they can help to categorise your content and help social media users find it. But, hashtag use is different on every social media site…they are used extensively on Instagram, for example, but not so much on Facebook, although it is becoming more popular.
  • Take a good look at your website and ensure that your website content is optimized for social sharing. Here are a few tips to encourage visitors to share your content.
    – Create quality content with a great headline
    – Optimize content keywords
    – Include eye-catching images/photos
    – Make sure you have a call to action
    – Add social media sharing buttons to all your content – if you make it easy for people to share your content, they are more likely to do it.
    – Videos are huge at the moment and show up in search results, so introduce the odd video into your content.
  • Don’t forget about all of the above – it’s not enough to do it all and then walk away and leave your sites to their own devices. You need to constantly be there to engage with people who comment on your content – answer any queries, comment on their smartphone-1894723_640comments and respond to any reviews you get. You can also connect with influencers related to your content – like and share their content, make comments on their pages. If you belong to groups relating to your niche, take part in conversations, give advice, answer questions – interact with people. Your responses and interaction help social media algorithms recognise that your content is active, which in turn, improves its reach. And KEEP POSTING – social media moves very quickly and it’s easy for posts to get lost among all the others.

Like everything else when running your small business, social media is a crucial part of getting your messages, services and products out to the masses. It takes time and effort to make it successful, but stick with it and it will work.

Now, please share this article if you have found it useful and take a look at my other blog posts to find more articles to help you market your small business.