What marketing strategies are going to be popular for your small business in 2020?

With 2020 just around the corner, it’s time to think about what you want to achieve with your small business next year and to focus on your marketing strategy.

2020…the start of a new decade… and it will be no surprise to know that digital marketing is going to continue at pace to be the most popular form of marketing. With technology continually moving forward, it’s so important to keep on top of what’s new and how you can use it to promote your business.

Digital Marketing

Digital marketing just means online marketing, using digital technology on the internet or on mobile devices. There are several digital marketing channels and I’m going to look at a few of them, with ‘marketing into a new decade’ in mind!

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Business website – Even if you have a great following on social media, it can’t replace having a business website. This is the home or hub of your business, the one place online where you are completely in control of everything you want to say about your business. It can be as simple or as fancy as you like…but the one MUST-HAVE is that it needs to be mobile friendly, as most people use mobile technology to scour the internet.

seo-592740_640SEO – or search engine optimization. This is the process of increasing traffic to your website. This includes using the right keywords, your social media presence, references to your website from external sites, to name a few. In 2020, this is going to be vital to keep ahead of your competition.

Local search engine optimization – as most people have mobile phones and use them ‘on the go’ they will be looking for local businesses when they are out and about. Google’s search results now apparently favour websites that are optimized for local search by including location information and location-related keywords. You can also claim your business location on local search directories, such as Google My Business. Just ensure that whatever local directories you choose to be a part of, that your details are exactly the same, including spelling, on all directories – not 10 High St in one and 10 High Street in another.

Email Marketing – these days nearly 7 out of 10 businesses use email marketing and it is the third most popular digital marketing method. Around half of the population check their email on mobile devices and research shows that a third of emails opened are opened on mobile devices. So, if you going the route of email marketing, think ‘mobile’ – keep emails short and clear with a clear call to action. Use white space to make it easy for ’click here’ buttons or links.

online-marketing-1246457_640Content marketing – this is about blog posts, e-books, infographics, videos etc. that you share digitally. The goal of content marketing is to entice users to view your content and take action, clicking your call to action button. For example, you might write a blog post about ‘How to insulate your house for winter’. The call to action button might be ‘Contact us to get a free quote to insulate your house this winter.’ And research is showing that rather than having lots of short blog posts, people prefer longer, more relevant information that answers their questions and is of value to them.

Pay-per-click advertising or PPC – PPC digital adverts appear when you do an internet search – if you have a PPC ad with terms that someone is searching for, your ad will come up. The name PPC comes from the fact that you only pay for the ad when someone clicks on it. You sometimes see this on Google and on some social media sites.

adult-3086300_640Voice Search – By 2020 it is expected that voice search will account for half of all Google searches. So how do you make sure your business is found? Good SEO will help, but it might be a good idea to create an FAQ page on your website answering questions that people might ask about your products or services. Make the questions sound the way that people talk. For example, if you own a fish and chip shop, people are more likely to ask ‘what chip shop is open right now?’ rather than the way they’d type a search into a search engine…opening times of fish and chip shop.

Google My Business – if you have one of these listings, regularly add new photos, posts, offers etc. and ensure your description is current. Add as much information as you can to it. Make sure that there is a link to your website and in particular, your reviews page – this promotes consistency across channels.

film-596519_640Online Video – Today’s generation prefer to view video footage to get answers to everything they want to know. YouTube is the second most popular website, pipped at the post only by Google. Videos that show someone how to do something, help solve their problems, etc. is definitely the way to go in 2020.

Tell your story – consumers love real interaction with businesses. They want to know the face behind the name, so think about how you can be transparent about your business and values. Live stream on FB, short informational videos, behind the scenes videos all help to create a feeling of intimacy with your customers – and that can help build a bond with your target market.

Social Media

follow-1210793_640No matter what channel you use, have a business page and plan what you are going to do and when. Try and plan a host of different posts to keep your customers coming back for more. Use video, audio with pictures, product posts, competitions, polls, quotes, funny stuff and serious stuff. Make things as visual as possible and plan to post regularly and consistently. You can look at your insights to find out who looks at your posts and when is the best time for you to post. Plan to post at least three times a week, more for visual channels like Instagram.

Messenger is also a great tool for customers and customer service. You can speak directly to your customers in real time, answering any questions or talking to them about a product they’re interested in.

In conclusion, marketing in 2020 will continue to move and change at a fast pace. Be willing to adapt to the change, embrace the new technology where you can and have fun making video content and thinking of ways to be more creative with your marketing. Your business will continue to develop and grow and you will find yourself attracting great, quality customers in your digital world!

If you would like a free consultation about how digital marketing could help your business in 2020, click here.

How to run a Facebook Christmas Campaign to sell your products

Christmas is usually the most important time of year for anyone who sells products or services. With around 93% of people owning a mobile phone or device, millions of them will be logging into Facebook (FB) looking for gift ideas, Christmas related posts and funnies. So it makes sense to use FB to reach some of this massive audience with your posts.   

christmas-2618269_640Christmas is the season of giving and all over the world, people get excited about everything that surrounds this magical time of year. So, let FB be your ‘Santa’s little helper’ and get started now on your Christmas campaign.

If you market your business, you’ll know that a giveaway is the way to get better engagement, more followers and sales. But as everyone who markets their business also knows, you need to stand out from your competition. So how can you run a successful Facebook Christmas campaign?

As an example, let’s say you run a jewellery business, selling jewellery that you make. You sell online via an online store and to the public directly through your market stall. You have a website where people can see your products and you have a business FB page.

What are you hoping to achieve by running a Christmas campaign?

  • Increase your sales of jewellery online and face to face
  • Raise the profile of your business (your brand)
  • More people looking at your product range on your website
  • More ‘likes’ on your FB page
  • Increase the enquiries you get about your jewellery

Now you know what you’re hoping to achieve, you can get started.

Your target market

The first thing to look at is your target market. Who do you want to sell to? What do they do for a living? What can they afford to buy and where do they live. You can get this by looking at your current customers and also look at who engages with your social media pages, your website and/or your blog.

If you have a FB business page, you can look at FB insights. This does take a while to get your head around if you want to fully analyse everything, but as a basic guide…Go to the Overview tab to export your FB Insights data. A pop-up box will appear with three choices…Page data, Post data and Video data. If you click on each of these in turn, you will be able to see key engagement metrics for your page. Facebook do a guide for more in depth information – click here

If you use Instagram, you can also look at their guide for analysing insights on your Instagram account. And you can use data and the details to run a Christmas campaign on Instagram too. Click here to see how to look at your Instagram insights.

cat-1898637_640You will have your unique brand for your products or services, but it’s a good idea to look at branding your products for Christmas and apply that branding to your FB posts and your website/blog. Famous brands do this every year, for example, television programmes such as Dr Who, will have a Christmas special episode, fast food outlets will use Christmas themed wrappings for their burgers, pizza etc. and there will always be a popular musician who will release a Christmas album, such as Cliff Richard! Everyone jumps on the bandwagon at Christmas, so why shouldn’t you too?

When you advertise your products for Christmas, give the ad a Christmassy theme, spice up your website or blog with some Christmas pages and look at packaging your products with Christmas paper, ribbons or offer a gift wrap service (either free or for a small charge).

Your campaign     

It’s up to you when to start your campaign, but generally campaigns start around the September/October point.

As I’m specifically talking about a FB campaign, let’s look at what kind of posts you can put up to attract business. The important thing to remember is that, although you want to be selling as much as you can during this period, it’s also important that your customers get something of value, something that makes a difference to their lives – what’s in it for them? How will they benefit from your campaign? So how can you do all this and still make a profit? Here are some ideas…

Offers/discounts

Everyone loves a bargain, so run a special offer for Christmas on a particular product or service. Make it clear that it’s for the Christmas period only.

sticker-473635_640Offer gift cards so customers can buy a gift card to give to family and friends.

You could run a ‘buy one, get one free offer’ or ‘buy one, get the second half price’ for a limited time. Big companies like Boots the chemist, do this every Christmas with their ‘buy two, get the third free’ offer.

Run a ‘recommend a friend’ offer – if one of your customer’s recommends a friend, then when that friend buys something, your customer gets a free gift or a money- off voucher.

Competition

Run a Christmas themed competition with a special prize – make sure that the prize is appealing and worth entering the competition for. You can do the results of the competition ‘live’ on FB or via a pre-recorded video for more impact…and you could do the same with the run up to the end date of the competition – for example, ‘only one week left to enter our fabulous competition to win a xxxxx’.

Share Christmas themed updates     

You can add value to your customers’ lives by sharing Christmas themed updates. For christmas-dinner-3011500_640example, if you are a restaurant, you could share your Chef’s favourite Christmas dish, dessert or menu; Hairdressers can share easy to do hairstyles for Christmas parties; Beauticians can offer special packages so your body/face/nails/feet etc. are ‘Christmas ready’!; If you sell make-up, you can push your glittery make-up or maybe publish a video on how to do your Christmas party make-up. You get the idea!

You could also share Christmas themed things on your FB page that are just useful and nothing to do with your business, such as ‘how to gift-wrap your presents with style’ or ‘how to decorate your tree’. These kind of posts have the potential to draw in a new audience who may then go on to look at your products/services.

As well as these posts, you could also post inspirational Christmas quotes, ask a question posts, nostalgic post and Christmas trivia related posts – maybe a ‘did you know….’ kind of thing.

You can also produce a FB ad for the Christmas period – socialmediatoday.com have a great article on how you can do this in detail, so have a read.

How many times a week should I post on FB?

The recommended number of posts is once a day and post in the afternoon to reach the maximum number of people. The minimum suggested is three times a week and maximum number, ten times a week. You can do all your posts in advance for the following week and schedule them to automatically appear at a certain time every day.

You don’t need to use all of the ideas I’ve talked about, but I hope I’ve given you some food for thought and that you will crack on with producing your Christmas campaign and I wish you luck with lots of sales and engagement!

Ace your ‘About me’ page!

Do you have a website or blog? If you do, you’re likely to have an ‘About me’ page. If you sell products or services, it’s an important page as it is likely to be your most popular page.

Why?

It’s where new visitors to your site go first to find out about you and what you can offer – what you can do for them. So, it needs to be relevant and grab their attention.

Click on your page now with the eyes of someone looking at your site for the first time…does it immediately ‘grab’ you and make you want to read more? If it does…fabulous! 

If it doesn’t, read on…

About me page essentials 

The purpose of this page is so people can get to know you, but it’s not good enough to just throw together a quick biography, upload a blurry photo from your phone and hope that works.

Let’s face it, not many people out there like writing about themselves, it’s an uncomfortable experience. But if you have a formula to work from, with a structure that works, you can capture the absolute essence of what you do. You can give your readers the opportunity to get to know you, trust you and see exactly what you can offer them.

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I’m going to share that formula with you, so you can ace your ‘about me’ page and stand out from the crowd.

  1. WHAT VALUE DO PEOPLE GET BY READING YOUR PAGE?

    The most important part of your page is letting your readers know what value your business gives them. After all, they’ve come to your page because they’re interested in your products or services. They didn’t come to your page to find out how many pets you have or what hobbies you do (although that has its place…just not the first thing you share!)
    Make it very clear who your blog is aimed at (your target audience) and how you can help them.

  2. WHO IS YOUR SITE AIMED AT?

    This is where you really need to know your customers and your ideal customers. If you are writing for your customers, they will instantly relate to you and your business – they will recognise that this content is for them, about them and will help them. They will then read on.

  3. WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF YOUR SITE?

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    Or in other words, your site’s biography. You’ve already got your reader’s attention, they know how your site is going to benefit them. Now give them a bit more information – your personal biography comes later!
    >Include information on why readers should care about what you have to say. There are so many websites out there who offer you help for your business, when really, they’re after you paying them shed loads of money for something that probably won’t help them. Show your readers that you mean business, you are genuine. Do you have any recommendations from current customers that say exactly how you’ve helped them? Include one here. This will help you build credibility for what you do.
    >What will your readers get from your posts? Is it financial advice/beauty advice/business advice – you get the picture? It’s about telling them what they can expect from your posts.
    >What do you write about? Keep this short and sweet and to the point and don’t waffle.
    >Is your blog reliable, credible and believable? You need to know your niche very well and be able to answer any questions people may have…and if you can’t, you find out and get back to them. If you’ve written for big well-known sites you can add this here. You can also say how long you’ve been writing for or where you got your experience in your subject. If you’re still learning, you can also say that and say that you will share things as you learn about them. This is where you tell the story of your blog or website – how did your site get started? What inspired you to write your blog? Where did your passion for your subject come from? This is a good sized paragraph, but try and keep it concise and don’t waffle!

  4. YOUR PERSONAL BIOGRAPHY

    Now it’s time to talk about yourself. BUT, keep it relevant to your blog or business. How did you get where you are today? How does your business fit into your life? What inspires you to keep going? Why do you love your business so much?
    Of course, it’s important that you come across as a real person, with a life outside of work, so it’s also OK to include some personal things…if you have a passion for your pets, you run marathons, you love the cinema and films etc. You can connect with your audience on a human level by sharing a few titbits of information about yourself, such as the town and country you live in…anything that shouts ‘YOU’. But just don’t fill the whole page with it!

  5. CALL TO ACTION

    This is the bit most people forget about…a call to action or CTA. It is what it says on the tin – you are telling your readers what to do next…what action they need to take. You might ask them to follow you on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social media sites. You could ask them to subscribe to your newsletter.

    smartphone-1701096_640The CTA is really important as it’s your opportunity to get your reader to stay in touch with you, stick around, and come back to your site again. So you need to give them a reason to do this. Asking them to subscribe to something ensures that you can keep in touch with them. If you send out a newsletter, this is a great way to let them know about your business on a regular basis, tell them about new blogs, new products or services, special offers etc. etc. But please don’t do what a lot of people do and bug your readers with emails two or three times a day. When I subscribe to a website, I’ll soon unsubscribe if they bombard my inbox with the same email over and over again. I don’t mind having an email trying to sell me a course that is relevant to me, of course I don’t, but to have the same course being pushed day after day, with just slightly different wording, really irritates me. Maybe an email once a week for the first few weeks, then I’m happy with once a month. I find that if I get something once a month, I’m more likely to read it and click on any links. If someone bombards me every day, they become wallpaper and I end up just deleting them without even reading them.

    Your CTA can be put anywhere in your blog/website ‘about me’ page. It’s obviously good to put it at the end, but you could also put a CTA at the beginning or halfway through if you have something that could help your reader. For example, if you’re talking about what you can offer and you have an information sheet, clothes pattern, beauty tips pdf, you could put a box with ‘CLICK HERE’ to receive XXX or ‘SIGN UP TO RECEIVE YOUR XXXX’.

  6. A HIGH RESOLUTION PHOTO OF YOURSELF

    There aren’t many of us who actually enjoy having our photos taken, but it’s very important that your readers know who you are, what you look like – they can then more easily relate to you…so make sure you are smiling!

HOW YOU CAN BE CONTACTED


You don’t necessarily have to add this to the page, but make sure you have your contact details in a prominent place on the page – telephone number and email address. Alternatively, add a link in your CTA, to your contact page.

FINALLY, re-visit your ‘about me’ page every now and again and update it – give it a bit more pizazz!

I’m off to have another look at mine now!

17 different types of Facebook posts

If you use Facebook to boost your business, you need to keep posting regularly and make your posts interesting enough to keep the attention of your readers….sometimes easier said than done!

social-media-3696901_640My last blog post talked about how to get more ‘likes’ on Facebook, so this is a follow-up with information on the different types of posts you can use to engage your audience.

First of all, have you ever heard of the 80/20 rule? The idea of this is to keep promotional content of your business to a minimum…posting non-promotional content 80% of the time and keeping promotional content to 20%. There are loads of different types of posts…here are some of them. If you have any other ideas, please let me know in the comments section!

  • Inspirational quote
  • Quote linked to your business
  • Top tip – this could be something linked to what you do, for example, if you are a crafter, you could share a video tip or crafting tip that would be helpful to other crafters.
  • questions-1328466_640Ask a question…this doesn’t have to be linked to your business. People like to talk about themselves and this is a good way to get a conversation going in your Facebook post…just be careful that the question you ask isn’t too controversial!
  • Did you know…?
  • Promote a competition you are running for your business
  • Promote your blog
  • Photos of your products
  • Image of your pets – maybe ask your followers to post an image of their pet
  • Funny story – again you can ask people if they had anything similar happen to them – this promotes engagement
  • quiz-2004350_640Something personal (make it interesting)
  • Video/Facebook ‘live’
  • Promote other people’s content – there might be an interesting article or funny story that someone else has published that you might like to share
  • Podcasts
  • Quizzes
  • Infographics
  • Call to action

Post at the best time

There has been loads of research done into when it’s best to post on Facebook. It seems that the general consensus of opinion is to post either early morning or at night, particularly around 8pm. I guess this makes complete sense as most people work during time-3222267_640 (1)the day, so are checking their Facebook before they go to work and then again, once they’re home, had dinner and relaxing in front of the TV.

It’s also good to post at weekends when people generally have more free time to browse Facebook and other social media sites. And try to make your posts weekend-friendly, focussing on things to do, places to go and entertainment…especially if your business is at a particular event, you could promote that event too!

If you want to find out exactly what time your fans are online, take a look at your posts within the Facebook Insights area. Facebook Insights is a bit limited, in that it only shows you information from the previous 90 days, but it’s a good start. It shows you information for each of the posts you put on your page, under Reach and Engagement.

Reach – this measures how many people have seen your post. It’s a good way to see how well your business, product or name is getting out there and into people’s news feed, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that just because it appears in someone’s news feed that they will act on it or engage with it. But it is a good way to measure the success of your posts when you are first growing your business, as you have to grow your fan base in order to get their attention.

Engagement – this measures more than just who has viewed or who can see your post. Engagement is defined by Facebook as including all clicks on your post to read more, likes and shares and of course any comments made on your post. If your post has a high reach, it doesn’t mean it will have high engagement. It’s all down to how interesting and compelling your post it and how it pulls in your target audience. The more people that engage with your posts, such as making a comment or liking/sharing it, the more likely those people’s friends will see your post too.

Using Facebook for your business is obviously a good place to advertise your business or an event you are going to, but it is so much more than that…it’s about building good relationships with your followers, showing your human side as well as your business side and also having a bit of fun.

So, why not have a look at your Facebook Insights and see what you can find out about your audience and how they engage with your business.

Do you have any other ideas on how to promote engagement on Facebook? Drop me a line in the comments section!

9 ways to connect with your customers and grow your business

Do you want to grow your business
now and into 2019?

Every year millions of us make New Year’s Resolutions – but nine times out of ten, by the end of January, those resolutions are a distant memory. If you run a small business, or indeed any business, I’m sure that a business resolution is to grow your business year on year. So, rather than only make resolutions in January, why not think about it now? Start putting plans in place to connect with your customers in a more effective way – if your customers feel a connection with you, trust you and get great customer service, your business will grow.

Know and understand your customers
Your existing customers are your ‘bread and butter’. You already know that they like your products or services, but do you actually know them and understand why they buy what they do from you? The simplest way to get this information is to ask them! Send a

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Ask your customer for a review

survey telling them you value their opinion and ask what they like or dislike about your products/services.
If a customer has not given you a review, send them an email and ask them if they would, or if they prefer not to put a review in a public place, ask them if they would share their views with you on email. Good or bad, we can all learn from feedback.
As a ‘thank you’ for completing a survey or giving a review, you could offer them a discount when they next buy your products or use your services. Customer loyalty is absolutely crucial to your business and this will encourage just that!

Be accessible to your customers
This goes hand in hand with point number one and really speaks for itself. The one thing I hate when I ring a company to ask about their product or to find out more information, is reaching that robotic automated response. I’m more likely to hang up than I am to

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Listen to your customers

wait. It’s so important, especially for small businesses, to be accessible to customers. They want to speak to you, a real person, and have a friendly chat and get advice, or to place an order. It might not be you, but maybe someone who works for you, but try and ensure your customers speak to a real person. It helps build good relationships and trust and, when the conversation is over, they leave with a good feeling, instead of frustrated at having to ‘press 1’ for this or ‘press 2’ for that. Make sure that your contact details are easy to find and in a prominent place on all correspondence, social media and your website. If customers can’t find you, they’ll go somewhere else.

Make use of Social Media sites
Nearly everyone these days, from youngsters to pensioners are online in one way or another. Make sure your business has a social media presence, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or one of the many other sources. Check your social media pages a

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Answer comments on social media sites

few times a day, reply to any comments or questions on your business pages. Listen to other businesses and what they have to say and comment on their pages. Engage generally with as many people as you can – this will help you understand behaviours and new trends, which you may be able to tap into.
The most important thing on social media is to stay focused – don’t get drawn into online arguments on your business page – keep it professional. Keep your page upbeat and positive.

Spend time networking

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Attend a networking event

It’s important to meet other like-minded people, so try and attend a couple of networking events and meet other small businesses. Networking events are great for sharing business cards and flyers, talking about what you do and finding out what others in your area do. Fantastic for building new relationships, networking helps you connect with potential customers, employees and collaborators and even investors.

Collaboration

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Collaborate!

This follows on nicely from networking. Find people you can collaborate with – for example, if you’re a hairdresser, you might want to link up with a make-up artist, so if you get booked for a wedding or special party, you can recommend a make-up artist…and vice versa. You can also share links to your websites on each other’s pages.

Incorporate visual marketing into your strategy
Use good images, live stream chats, webinars, videos and infographics to help promote

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Make a video

your business. Technology is always moving on and 2018 has seen a huge surge in this type of marketing. Don’t get left behind. There are loads of sites that offer free images or you could do a ‘live’ Facebook broadcast – it doesn’t have to be long. If you want to really connect with your customers, you could invite a small group to join you in a video chat to discuss what they like about your business and what might be improved. This would give you invaluable information.

Give away free stuff!

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Give a gift!

Everyone loves a freebie. You could give a few samples of a new product and ask your customers to trial it and give feedback. You could simply give a free gift to loyal customers or offer them a discount for a limited amount of time. This makes them feel valued, it nurtures your relationship with them and keeps them coming back for more. They’re also more likely to recommend you to their family and friends

Keep in touch with customers
Try and find a regular way to keep in touch with your customers. This could be a monthly newsletter or email, a courtesy call after a sale or after they have used your

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Keep in touch with customers

service. Think about it – if you bought something from a small business and a month later they rang you to see how you were getting on with that product, it would make you remember them in future. A balance needs to be struck as you don’t want to be a nuisance, but a simple courtesy call can make all the difference and shows you care. If there is a problem, it gives you the chance to solve it and so delight the customer even more. They will remember this kind of service.

Adapt and measure your business as it grows
We get our customers from many different places and ways – don’t forget to look for new ways to contact potential customers. Look at old business plans as there may have been

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Measure to see what works and what doesn’t

something that didn’t work for you in the past that might now be perfect.
Don’t be afraid to stop doing something if it’s not working for you – it’s no good flogging a dead horse. Put it on the back burner to return to at a later date.
Don’t be scared to try new marketing ideas, learning about new social media channels, do a course on how to do video for your business. You will never know if something works if you don’t try.
And ALWAYS measure what you do to see what works and what doesn’t. Monitor where your customers come from so you know what marketing sources work best for you.

Finally, decide which way you’re going to take your business for the rest of this year and into next, write them down and update your existing business/marketing plan and incorporate into next year’s plans. If you don’t yet have a business/marketing plan, now might be the time to start!

If you have any observations or questions, please contact me – I love to chat about different approaches to customers and marketing.

How Content Marketing can benefit your small business

How Content Marketing can benefit your small business

The Content Marketing Institute, which is an online resource for information on everything marketing related, defines content marketing as…

“Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action”

Stuart Miles (7)The key word here is ‘valuable’ content; content that will speak to your customers, content that they want and need, maybe information that solves a problem they have. In order to do this, you need to know your existing customers and research and get to know your prospective customers, so you can deliver that all important content. It may take some time to get it right, but when you do, you will have the opportunity to expand your business, build your reputation and ultimately be known as an expert in your field.

Once you can provide the right kind of content, it brings much more to your ‘table’.

More traffic to your website

If you can solve a problem that your customers have and write about it on your website, when potential customers search online for a solution, they will visit your site. Stuart Miles (6)Depending on what you do, that could lead to a sale or a request for your services…and they are likely to return to your site in future.

If you can find a way to tailor your content to your target customer’s needs and wants, they will trust you and you will get repeat business.

More sales

When a person finds a site they like, that speaks to them personally, or they feel that it speaks to them personally, they will return again and again. And if they are returning, they are more likely to turn into customers. As everything is online these days, we all turn to the internet if we want to buy something; I like to read about what I want to buy first and find out as much as I can about that product before I buy it. I am more likely to buy from a business that knows what they’re talking about and one that seems to know my needs.

Enhances your brand

It sounds a bit rude to say this, but it is fundamentally true – people are generally interested in themselves, in their likes and needs. This isn’t about being selfish, it’s human nature. When someone first looks at your website or interacts with your David Castillo Dominicibusiness, they are not in the least bit interested in your brand, no matter how hard you’ve worked on it. They are more interested in what you can do for them. If you provide something that makes their life easier, less stressful, and cost-effective and generally entertain them, they will then become interested in your brand as they will see it as something they relate to.

If you are consistently publishing new, unique content on your blog or website and then promoting it on social media, more people will get to see your name and start to relate to the things you write about. If they like what they see, they’re more likely to tell their friends and so your audience starts to grow and they become more aware of your brand.

Content marketing is cheaper than other forms of marketing

The title of this last section basically says it all. If you can research and write your content yourself, it is more economical as you’re not spending money on getting someone else to do it for you. You’ll also learn so much from the research you do, that you’ll find more content as you go.

Stuart Miles (5)When you publish your content on your blog or website, make sure that you promote it on every social media site that you have…with maybe a jig around of the title or introduction. You can also contribute to larger sites to get your name out there.

Finally, with content marketing, you are attracting customers to you because they’re interested in what you have to say…and ultimately they will come back again and again.

If you want to influence your audience to your way of thinking and to look at your products or services, you must provide them with something they want or need, be their solution, show them that you provide valuable content and that you value their custom.

 

Images courtesy of 1-3 ) Stuart Miles, 4) David Castillo Dominici 4) Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Find your niche and market, market, market

Find your niche and market, market, market

If you’re going to make a success of marketing your business, you need to hone in on what is the best niche for you to be in. What will sell well? What will make you the most money?

You might like everything you do, but in order to be a successful business, you need to be able to distinguish your brand from your competitors, find what you are really good at and establish yourself as a dominant leader in that area. Even the biggest names can’t be everything to everyone; there are always going to be those small groups of people who need a particular product or service not met by the bigger companies…which is where the small business can step in.

What are you good at? 

This first question is probably the most important. It’s not ‘what would you like to be good at?’ You need to be really honest with yourself – where do your talents really lie? VladoWhat skills do you have? What do you enjoy doing? Once you have decided what you are good at, make a list of your skills and talent in that area. For example, if you love knitting, crocheting and sewing, which one do you excel in?

Once you know which you are best at…let’s say knitting for example, then you need to look at what skills and talent you have. So, it might be knitting baby clothes, knitting adult clothes, knitting toys – put the things you enjoy making most at the top of the list and so on, down to the ones you least enjoy.

What do potential customers need from your list? 

This is where you need to do some research. Of the things you are best at making, what is popular? You can look on Etsy, eBay and Amazon – are the products you are good at making doing well? Make a list of the things people need from your list of what you do well…then look at these questions and do some research.

  • Do you solve a particular problem for customers?
  • Is your product(s) something that people will come back for time and time again? This is important for repeat business.
  • If there are other people selling the same as you, can you offer something unique that they don’t?
  • Who does your product appeal to? Can you expand that to include other groups? For example, if your product appeals to an older age group, can you make it more appealing to a younger audience. The bigger your product appeal, the more you will sell.

What will people pay for?

Now you know what is marketable, which do you think people will pay the most money for…put your products in order of price…from high to low. You now have your niche – your list of the products you like to make, that you’re good at making, that have a potential audience and that are sellable.

Market, market, market

Now you have your niche and know what is marketable, it’s time to actually market it. If Stuart Miles (3)you are a small business, marketing is all the more important as you won’t necessarily have a huge brand following, nor the money to spend on expensive and extensive advertising. So, what can you do to market your niche effectively and on a budget? I have written a couple of previous blogs about this; ‘How to promote your small business online’ and ‘Marketing your small business with little or no money’. Please take a look as you may pick up some great tips.

You should try to spend at least an hour a day promoting your business…and some things are much easier than others – here are some quick tips to help you market that all important product…

  • Always remember that YOU are your business. No matter what you do or where you are, everywhere is a business promotion opportunity. Your image largely reflects on your business. Although we all try not to, most of us do judge people on our first impression of them…so make sure that you always give a great first impression.
  • Always carry business cards as you never know who you might meet and if you don’t carry them, you could be missing an opportunity to get someone to contact you.
  • Can you leave flyers or business cards at places where your potential customers are likely to be…at the gym, hairdressers, beauty salon
  • Talk to people wherever you go – if you’re in the Doctor’s surgery waiting room, strike up a conversation with someone…too many of us sit in silence in these places…do you take your children to sport’s events? If you do, you’re likely to be hanging around with other parents…talk to them. There are always opportunities to strike up conversations and promote your business.
  • Attend networking events…again, this puts you in front of potential customers face to face…sell yourself and your business
  • Sponsor a local event or charity – or run a small event for charity in your own home or garden
  • Host a seminar or training event and share your skills – a great way to get your business name out there
  • Team up with someone who has a business that links to yours and promote each other’s business on social media sites and on your websites
  • Give your website/social media pages a facelift to keep it fresh

There are many other small ways you can promote your business and, as I said earlier, it doesn’t have to cost the earth – the most valuable thing you can invest in your business is your time.

How did you find your niche and how do you promote your business? I’d love to hear from you, so please get in touch.

Images courtesy of  1) (in title) – scottchan,  2) Vlado and 3) Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Which Social Media Platform?

There are so many Social Media platforms to choose from – how do you know which one will be right for you?

The most popular, according to a report by eBizMBA Rank in September 2016, is Facebook, which is hardly surprising as it is very user friendly. The report gives other top platforms too – let’s take a look…

facebook-2048127_640Facebook – The top of the pile with an estimated 1.1 billion unique monthly visitors. Facebook is a social networking site that enables people to connect with friends and family, sharing photos, videos and status updates/messages. It can be used for fun or for business. It is estimated that over 1 million small businesses use Facebook and is very popular with small business owners in France.

film-589490_640YouTube – After Google, YouTube is the largest search engine with an estimated 1 billion unique monthly visitors. It’s where most people go to watch or share video content. It covers every single subject you can think of from popular music videos and films to Joe Bloggs down the street falling off his skateboard! Anyone can post personal videos or share content.

twitter-icon


Twitter
– With 310 million unique monthly visitors, Twitter is a real-time public network, where you often see breaking news first! Twitter limits its users to 140 characters per post, but businesses still use it to interact with clients and pass on information.

linked-in-2668687_640LinkedIn – This is a social networking site for professionals. With 255 million unique monthly visitors, LinkedIn members post a profile of themselves, very much like an extended CV. Users can promote themselves and their businesses, connect with other businesses and even apply for jobs or ask for work.

pinterest-1183717_640Pinterest – This is a fairly new concept, but with 250 million unique monthly visitors, it is fast becoming popular. It’s an image-based visual platform that allows its visitors to create digital bulletin boards where businesses can pin their content. As more than half of its members are women, it’s a great place for businesses whose target audience is largely female should think about being a part of.

google-plus-940316_640Google Plus + – Google Plus or Google+ is an interest based social media platform with 120 million unique monthly visitors. You can post photos and status updates on your profile or you can post to specific communities or groups. Specific communities are set up for different subjects so you can post blogs to specific themes. There’s multi-person messaging, text and video chat called Hangouts and you can run events. It’s a very versatile platform.

instagram-1581266_640


Instagram
– This is a visual platform, much the same as Pinterest, with an estimated 1 million unique visitors. Posts are mostly connected to travel, food, fashion and art and it has video and photo editing features.

 

reddit-1460603_640Reddit – This is a little different to the other sites – it is still popular, with an estimated 85 million unique monthly visitors, but the content is voted on by the visitors to the site. It is still a social media site, more of a community where posts are identified by topics, such as technology, music, etc. Users submit links and posts that are of value are ‘upvoted’ and those that aren’t are ‘downvoted’. The voting determines where the post sits on the site – however if your post/link hits the front page, it is seen by hundreds of thousands of people – sending a huge percentage of them to the linked website!

vk-3696008_640VK – I have to admit to not having heard of this one! VK is short for VKontakte – a social media networking site where members can add friends, gain followers and post photos. However it is a largely aimed at Eastern European visitors, particularly Russian. In fact it is the most popular site in Russia.


flickr-881367_640Flickr
– This is an imaging and video hosting platform. It is very popular for those wanting to share and embed photographs. With an estimated 65 million users, it is still up there with the best!

As you can see, the top sites are a varied bunch, but all are designed to help people interact with others and share information, photos, videos and messages. If you have a small business, they are a great way to get your brand name, products and services out there. I would probably choose to stick with the more popular sites, but of course it’s up to the individual which site you’d like to choose – just be aware that some may not be as good as others.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about and learning about the different sites and I’d love to know which is your favourite? Put a comment in the box below to let me know which one you like best and why…and if you’ve been inspired to try something new!

Marketing your small business with little or no money

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When you run a business, be it a large corporation or a small home-based business, we all know that at some point we have to dig into our pockets and spend some of our hard earned cash on marketing. But if you’re feeling the pinch, or are just starting out, here are a few tips on how to market your small business with little or no money.

ID-100110228Social Media – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google + are all social media sites that can help you market your business for free. Set up an account and get going. Not only can you share details of your products and services, but you can also personalise to show your human self…what you like, what your interests are. Share articles of interest and inspirational quotes, pictures…anything that you think people will like to see.

Email – in order to use email, which is free, you need to collect email addresses of current and potential customers. How do you get email addresses? Give away something for free – people love free stuff. It doesn’t have to be a physical thing; you could give away free information. For example if you are a crafter, you could give away a free information sheet on how to crochet, sew a simple item. The only proviso is that people sign up for your monthly/quarterly newsletter – then send them your newsletter, which is packed full of information about your business, special offers and details of your products or services.

Ask existing customers to refer you to friends and family – offer an incentive for them to do this. For example, you could say that for every five customers that they refer who buy something from you, they will receive a 10% discount.

True stories – Use a real example of a problem you’ve solved for a customer, with a quote from them about how great you are! Turn this into a blog post, an article on your website or add it to your newsletter.

ID-100349134Survey your customers – Send your existing customers a survey. Ask them about the products or services they have bought from you. Ask them what they like best about your products/services and use the information you gain to improve your offering or to promote your business. At the end of the survey, ask if it is ok for you to publish any of their comments….if they say ‘yes’ you have more recommendations and possible stories. And report your survey results in a blog or an article.

Write a blog – Keep in the forefront of your customers and potential customers’ minds by writing a regular blog. There are lots of free hosting sites out there – it just takes your time to get it up and running and to blog on a regular basis.

Have a website – It’s always good to have a website, where people can easily find you and see all your products and services in one place. Make sure it is easy to navigate and engaging.

Free directories –As well as all the directories that you can pay to be in, there are loads of free directories out there. Get your business listed in all the free ones you can find.

Attend networking events – Sometimes these events are free and sometimes you have to pay a small fee to join in. Attending these events is important as you’ll meet other people with small businesses. The purpose is usually to share information and experiences. If there are none near you, how about setting up one in a local community centre or pub?

ID-10035801Enter a business award competition – There’s nothing better than being able to say that you’ve won an award in a specific competition. Even if you don’t win, but are shortlisted in the top ten, it’s still something to shout about. If you do happen to win, you can advertise the fact on your social media pages, on your website, in your newsletter etc. You could also put it in your signature.

These are just some of the ways you can market your business. If you have other free or very cheap ideas on how to market a small business, please feel free to share…

Images courtesy of 1) Master isolated images 2) fantasista 3) nuttakit at FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

10 steps to a successful business

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In order to succeed in business, planning and good organisation are key. When starting up in business, most people are full of enthusiasm and it can be such a disappointment to find that simply by switching on your computer and opening your doors for business, that business will automatically come your way. It would be fantastic if it worked that way, but sadly, we all have to work a whole lot harder than that to attract business and be successful.

Here are 10 ways that might help make your business more of a success in 2016.

  1. Make a plan. Plan your business goals and how you are going to ID-10070652achieve them. Having a good business plan forces you to look at the feasibility of your business – what will work and what won’t work. It makes you focus on the important and essential parts of your business, your next steps, tactics and strategies
  2. Be organised. Complete a ‘to do’ list every day. This will help you keep on top of things that need to be done now. As you complete each task, tick it off – not only does this give you a sense of achievement, it ensures you don’t forget anything
  3. Analyse your competition. Look at what your competitors do. Why are they successful? Look at the price, quality and customer service that your competitors offer – why will potential customers choose your products or services over those of your competitors? Are there any barriers in place that may prevent potential customers from choosing your products or services?
  4. Know what your customers want…not what you think they want. ID-100282581What do you your customers like about your products? What do they currently buy from you, why do they buy from you and do they give you repeat business? If you’re not sure of the answers to these questions, it might be worth conducting a short survey to your customers and asking them. Give an incentive to reply, such as 10% off their first order of 2016. And a further 10% off if they recommend a new customer who buys from you. The more you know about your customers, your competitors and the business you’re in, the more likely you are to be successful
  5. Provide great service – delight your customers! There have been oodles of books written about customer service and delighting your customers. Some of them advise that you delight them no matter what – I even read somewhere that one company gave a refund to a customer who complained about their tyres….and they didn’t even sell tyres! That’s taking it a bit too far. In order to satisfy your customers, you must deliver exactly what you promised to….to delight them, service must exceed expectations. It really is that simple. Do what you say you will, give your customers what they want (solve a problem they have), and thank them for their custom, inviting them to contact you if you can help them further
  6. Measure everything you do. Whatever action you take as a result of planning your business goals, ensure that you factor in a way to ID-10099989measure whether that particular goal and actions have been successful. By measuring as you go along, if you find something that is not quite working, you can tweak it so it works well. List what needs to be measured, for example, how many people read your Facebook posts or how many comment on a post. Then look at ways to improve this – it might be you monitor your posts and see what kind of post is the most successful and then figure out why. If you have success, shout about it! Your customers will feel reassured they are dealing with the right person
  7. Market and advertise. Marketing your business is about planning the future of your business. What tools will you use to promote your business? For example you could…
    -Join a business networking group and talk to people at every opportunity, giving out business cards
    -Direct marketing – brochures, flyers, sales letters
    -Online – website, blogs, articles (give advice, become known as an expert)
    -Social media – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest etc.
    -Advertising – print media, business directories, ads in magazine and online
    -Trade shows/markets/craft fayres
  8. Budget. I guess that this one is pretty obvious. You need to know ID-100263887what you can and can’t afford to do and plan accordingly. At the very least, it’s a good idea to have business cards – maybe flyers and definitely think about Social Media and your online presence, such as a website.
    Can you do some of the promotion yourself or do you need to outsource it? And look at what kind of advertising you can afford.
  9. Learn from your mistakes. We all make mistakes and when you are running your own business, you will undoubtedly make several, especially when you first start up. The trick is to learn from your mistakes. If you make a mistake, own up to it – this creates a culture of openness and honesty in your business. Find out why and how the mistake happened and correct it. If you find you can’t correct it, put plans in place to ensure it doesn’t happen again. If you can’t work out why or how the mistake happened, google it – chances are someone else would have made that mistake in the past and they might have published a solution! Once it’s sorted, move on – don’t continue to dwell on it
  10. Stand out in the crowd. Starting a business is easy, but staying in business is harder as you have so much competition these days. To stand out in the crowd, you need to do all of the above! Create a great ID-10037281experience for your customers; know what your customers want and give it to them; find solutions to your customers’ problems; position yourself as an expert; be different from your competitors and shout about how you are different; shout about your success; give excellent customer service; give special offers to customers who recommend someone new who buys something or uses your service….and above all, be yourself, smile and enjoy running your business – it will show!

I hope these points will help you in your quest to make 2016 a successful year for your business. If you have any more tips, please share them, I’d love to hear from you.

One final tip, if you can’t do everything you want to do yourself, don’t give up, get help.

 

Images courtesy of 1) Ambro 2) David Castillo Domenici 3) Stuart Miles 4) Metrue 5)Stuart Miles 6)jscreations at FreeDigitalPhotos.net