5 reasons why it’s important to share your story

The past couple of years have been tough. The pandemic saw, and is still seeing, so many businesses struggling to keep going, and people having to be at home, so mental health issues have rocketed. Whether this applies to you or not, we are all struggling with one thing or another. But there aren’t many people who stand up and speak about their struggles.

I think it’s because of that age-old thing of ‘stiff upper lip’ – you just don’t talk about it. It could be that we are afraid of being judged, or afraid of rejection…or just simply feel ashamed.

However, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy a good story, be it personal, emotional, funny, or otherwise. I loved listening to my dad tell me stories of when he was a young soldier in World War II – he used to tell us more about the funny side when we were young, but as we grew up, we heard some of the harder side of his experiences. Telling a story helps our audience to put themselves in our shoes – it appeals to our emotions and our sense of empathy.

We all know about pitching our products and we can do that until we’re blue in the face, but your audience won’t really care unless you give them a good reason to listen. Placing your product at the centre of a story, showing them how it can benefit their lives, not only helps your audience understand more about your product, but it also gives you an extra layer of emotion that makes you stand out more on social media.

Social Media

Most of us are on our phones or devices the minute we wake up, checking messages, emails or just scrolling through posts. It’s often the first thing we do when we wake up and the last thing we do before we go to bed. For those of us in business, our social media account posts are carefully planned and crafted to appeal to our target audience. And even that can be daunting – we worry whether our posts are good enough – will they appeal to the right people? Will people think that they’re rubbish? We compare ourselves to others and fear and doubt can even creep in with our businesses.

We also tend to only share the good things, such as cheery pictures of nights out, a lovely meal, family time – all smiling, date night with our partners etc. etc. But we don’t share our back stories – the stories that make us, US!

This, along with everyone else, gives out a message that we are only allowed to share the good things; things that go well. Having said that, I have noticed that some people are starting to share some of the more private parts of their lives. Now, I’m not saying go out there and share every intimate detail of your life – not at all. But share things that can help your audience.

Share a problem that you’ve solved, share that you’re feeling crap today, or that you feel you’re not doing a good job on something. Sharing this kind of information makes you real…people can empathise – some will have had the same experience, and it can help to build more meaningful relationships.

Telling your story is showing the authentic you – an essential part of who you are.

5 reasons why we need storytelling

  • You CONNECT with your audience. You’ll find people who have been through the same thing or feel the same way. You’ll find those who totally get where you’re coming from and who you are. They will share their experiences with you and so it’s a way to start building trust with your audience. When you share your stories, it pushes you to step outside of your comfort zones and to reflect on where you’ve been and how far you’ve come.
  • Sharing your story defines your identity to your audience. Sharing your interests, be it political, emotional, funny, or serious issues, it shows you. You can also share your hobbies, as you may find others that have the same interests as you.
  • By sharing your own stories, you are helping others to have the space to share theirs. For example, if you share a particularly painful experience, such as miscarriage or mental illness, you’re letting others know that this is safe place to talk about it, that you understand and that there is space for healing. You’ll be helping others by telling your story.
  • Sharing a story also heightens the awareness of that subject. It might be something as simple as sharing your weight loss journey, or how you came back from an addiction or homelessness. These things are powerful, and if you can show how you overcame these issues, you are going to be helping someone who is still going through that same thing, and give them hope for their future. This also starts to create a community of likeminded people, who will feel less alone with their problems, and feel they have someone they can share with.
  • This can also be applied to business. Sharing a story of how a particular product helped you to overcome your problems. For example, if you sell weight loss products that you have used yourself and had success with, tell your story. If you have a product that has changed your life in some way, shout about it and how it helped. If you’ve used a business to provide a service that has seriously changed the way you do business, or has helped you get more clients, talk about it. If you provide that service and have testimonials that show that, share them as well as your story.   

Every single person in the world has a story to tell. It might be a personal story; it might be a business story. But if you get out there and tell it, you’ll be surprised at how much engagement you will get.

If you love stories, read one of my stories about how a business assignment to India changed my life. And if you’ve written a story about an aspect in your life, I’d love to hear about it.

The pros and cons of Opt-In

We all get loads of spam in our email inboxes every day. I don’t know about you, but I find it really irritating when I get an email that I’m not expecting, especially if it’s someone trying to sell me something…or cold calling. But, if I am interested in a business and want to receive emails from them, I like to be able to request that myself. This process of filling in a form to say you want to subscribe to an email list is called Opt-In.

The legal stuff

Opt-In is regulated by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in the UK and the CNIL in France in the form of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations).

Regulations state that the consent process must be ‘specific, granular, clear, prominent, opted-in, documented and easily withdrawn’. So, all consent options need to follow these specific requirements in order to be compliant with the GDPR rules.

Any consent processes on your website need to be separated from other terms and conditions. This is known as being unbundles. This is the way to make it clearer and more prominent in what you’re asking of any individuals, without them being confused by other information.

Opt-In forms are usually on websites in the form of a pop-up or as separate page that you point your potential customers to.

If a person opts-in to your email list or freebie, they complete a form. This gives their permission for you to send them emails. The only other real requirement is that when emails go out to customers, there must be an option somewhere on the email for them to unsubscribe at any time, with no repercussions.

What are the pros of having an opt-in?

  • Opt-ins help you grow your email list quickly. You can choose from setting up a single opt-in or a double opt-in*
  • When someone opts-in to your email, it gives you the opportunity to predict the kind of content that a particular customer wants from you
  • If you just send a random email, the open rate is virtually nil, but if a customer has agreed to receive emails through the opt-in form, you will get very high open rates on your sent emails.
  • If a customer, or group of customers buy a specific kind of product or service from you, you can segment those customers into a group. This gives you the opportunity to up-sell or cross-sell other products or services that you think they might be interested in.
  • You can also automate your email service, using platforms such as MailChimp or Convertkit. Using these platforms you can ensure that when someone completes your opt-in form, they get an automatic welcome email. Then you can automate further emails in a sequence to let them know about your other products or services and their benefits and features. You can also use these platforms to set up and automate regular email newsletters or promotions.
  • Opt-in also saves you time and effort once the automation is set up – you’ll be interacting with your target audience and current customers on a regular basis, with little or no work.    

*Single opt-in versus double opt-in

A single opt-in, as the name suggests, is a one-step process. A person simply needs to enter their email address once in the sign up box on your website and they immediately become a subscriber.

A double opt-in is a two-step process. When a person enters their email into the sign up box, they will receive a confirmation email that they must click on to confirm being added to your email list.

The single opt-in is easier for your subscriber as they only have to do one thing – enter their email address and they are subscribed, so you are guaranteed subscribers immediately. So, it builds your list quicker than the double opt-in. But it has been found that more subscribers tend to unsubscribe with single opt-in, once they get what they want.

Double opt-in means that the subscriber has to go into their email and press confirm in order to get what they want. This has the disadvantage of getting lost in the hundreds of emails received every day, unless the person subscribing goes straight in and does it immediately. So, it doesn’t grow your email list quite so quickly. The double opt-in generally means that once the confirmation has been completed, it’s given the subscriber time to think about it and they are more likely to be genuine subscribers who are genuinely interested in your products or services. And you’re more likely to have a higher open rate of subsequent emails with the double opt-in. The double opt-in also leaves less room for error as it will be obvious if the person has entered an incorrect or spammy email address, so the leads are more solid.

The cons of having an opt-in

  • Your first email will most likely be opened as the customer is likely to be getting something, but subsequent emails might be considered junk emails…and they just won’t be opened or the recipient will mark them as spam
  • If you leave too long between the first automated email and the next one, your recipient can forget what they signed up to, so it’s important to do a small email sequence and ask them to add you to their contacts list to avoid this happening
  • If you already have a list of contacts and are adding to that list with new subscribers, then you or your admin team send an email out of the blue, it could cause subscribers to unsubscribe. It’s important to let them know exactly what to expect up front.  

Most email lists are grown using the opt-in method. Usually subscribers sign up for your regular email or newsletter in return for a free checklist, product or other freebie. This is usually advertised via a landing page on your website, on social media or hosted on a platform such as MailChimp or Convertkit.

If you need any help in setting up a landing page to help grow your small business, please feel free to email me. I can help you set this, and the email sequence up for you… cindymobey@outlook.com

The Benefits of using Google My Business

In general, people across the world are relying more and more on Google to find answers to their questions, or to find out information about absolutely anything. Google My Business (GMB), is a free online tool for businesses to manage their online presence across the Google platform. This is especially good news for small businesses and start-ups to help them with their online visibility.

According to searchengineland.com more than 2 trillion users log onto Google search every year – more than 5 billion searches per day. That’s pretty mind-blowing in itself, but just think how many people your small business could be exposed to, simply by having the right keywords and being on Google My Business. Wow!

How to claim your Google My Business profile

You need to have a Google account (Gmail account), in order to be able to claim your Google My Business profile. If you sign into your Gmail account, then log into GMB, simply enter the name of your business into the field of the form and confirm that you are authorised to manage the business. There will then be several fields to complete in order to set up your account, such as your opening hours, about you section etc.

You have to choose a service category too, from the list provided and it’s important to make sure that your business name, address and phone number is up to date –if your business is on other search engines, such as Bing, you need to make sure that they are all have exactly the same details, so it’s easier for you to be found. By putting in your address, a map will pop up so anyone local to you will be able to easily find you. You can also add a link to your website.  

There is an area to add photos of your business – both external view, which is great if you have physical premises as it makes it again, much easier for people to know what they’re looking for if they decide to visit your business. You can also add photos of the interior, so you could add photos of employees, processes you carry out, and photos of your products. This is really important to make these as engaging as possible as it will encourage people to choose you over your competitors.

One of THE most important parts of GMB is the reviews section. Online reviews are obviously testimonials that you are the best at what you do. Encourage your existing customers to leave a review on your GMB page, by sending them a link to the page and ask them! Most will be happy to oblige. If you have an email list, or send out a regular email newsletter to your customers, this is a great item to add to that … and the reviews will really help your Google rankings. As all small businesses will know, good reviews are absolute gold in helping potential customers to choose to buy from you over your competitors. When I want to buy something, I always look at the reviews first.

Put the link to your GMB on your website and on your social media pages, so potential customers and existing customers know that you’re there.

GMB is cost-effective

Well, it’s free (!), so why wouldn’t you want to have it? For start-ups and small businesses, it really is a fabulous platform to get your business out there with no cost – we all know that every penny counts if you’ve just started, or if you’re a small business. GMB gives customers all the information they need to know about you, all in one place…but if you put a link to your website or to your Etsy shop, for example, you can also point them to your other resources, products or services.

You can post to your GMB

Just like social media platforms, you can also put posts on your GMB page. You can use this to promote your business, talk about offers or discounts, new products, updates, news, announcements etc. The possibilities are endless! I use my posts to highlight new blog posts, as well as news about my business or about marketing. I also share some of the posts I use on Instagram and Facebook.

Your post title should only use four or five words, and although you are allowed to use up to 1500 characters for the post, I always keep it to as few as I can – 100-200 at most. The reason for this is that under the post there is the option to use a Call to Action (CTA), which encourages your visitors to take a particular action, such as ‘Buy’, ‘Book online’, ‘Learn more’, ‘Call’ or ‘Visit’. For my blog, I use ‘Learn more’ and then a box appears so I can put in the URL of my blog post, so if visitors want to find out more about the blog I’ve written, they click on the URL box and it takes them to my full blog post and website.

Posts only stay in front of your customers for seven days, so you do need to update your posts regularly. If a customer clicks on posts, they will be able to see old ones, but they won’t be ‘live’ on the homepage of your page.

You can post an event, and this is the only exception to the rule of seven days. Once you input all the relevant details of the event, it will be displayed until the event is over.

A fairly new feature, which is good news for restaurants or cafes, is that GMB now has a menu editor, which includes titles, descriptions, prices, and you can break the menu into sections – starters, main, desserts etc.

Video

You can share video on GMB, and this is a fairly new feature. The video should be no more than 30 seconds and once uploaded, it can take up to 24 hours before the video content shows in local search results.

The maximum video file size is 100MB and minimum resolution should be 720p. 

Messaging feature

There is a message feature on GMB, which you have to switch on via your dashboard on your page. This means that customers can message you directly. There will be a message icon which they can click on to send a message and if you have an iOS device you can get these directly via an app. Otherwise, you will need to make sure you check your GMB page regularly. Please not that Google advise that you don’t encourage customers to share sensitive information via their messaging service. 

Conclusion

Google My Business (GMB), is a fabulous, free platform for you to advertise your business. The many features make it easy for your customers to find you and find out all they need to know about your business. It’s up to you to add as much or as little information about your business that you choose to. As with any platform, it’s a good idea to have a strategy around using the platform, factor in time to keep it up to date and keep track of any messages and changes that might affect your business or that platform. But, in today’s online world, where billions of people are searching Google every day, it totally makes sense to make use of this great tool.

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.

 

Copyright? Royalty free? Public domain? Why can’t I just go on Google images and use any photo?

I’ve decided to look at the issues we can face when just using any image we happen to find on Google images for our blogs, Facebook pages, Instagram or on our websites. This has been brought to my attention by a friend who has had this problem recently and been fined. You could also find yourself with a fine if you don’t know about the rules surrounding use of images you might find on Google, for example.

When I first started blogging, I thought I could just log into Google images and use anything that came up…anything that caught my eye. Luckily I learned before I published my first blog that this isn’t the case and you can get into serious trouble if you just use anything. And there are some great sites out there where you can get free images without the worry of being fined….and they have fab images.

Copyright

copyright-850371_640Have a go yourself, just log into Google and type in ‘Images of cats’ for example…then click on one of the images. Yes, you can copy and paste the image…it doesn’t stop you from doing so, but it is illegal. If you look at the image you have clicked on, there is a caption under it saying, “Images may be subject to copyright.” It is up to you to check before you use anyone’s photo. However I found this was a bit of a hassle, because it can take a lot of research, going to page to page, until you find the information you are after.

The Wikipedia definition of ‘copyright’ is this:

“Copyright is a law that gives the owner of a work (like a book, movie, picture, song or website) the right to say how other people can use it. Copyright laws make it easier for authors to make money by selling their works. … If someone copies a work without permission, the owner can say they infringed their copyright.”

The Simple English Wikipedia goes into a bit more detail…

“With copyright, a work can only be copied if the owner gives permission. If someone copies a work without permission, the owner can say they infringed their copyright. When this happens, the owner may sue for the amount that should have been paid. Most cases are handled by civil law. In more serious cases, a person who copies a work that is protected under copyright could be arrested, fined, or even go to prison.”

Royalty-Free Images

Another thing you may see is that an image you want to use is ‘Royalty-free’, so does this mean it’s OK to use this one then? Actually no! The term, ‘Royalty Free’ is a type of license used by stock photography agencies to sell stock images. It’s usually just a one-off fee and you can use photos under a certain set of restrictions.

Again, Wikipedia gives the definition:

“RoyaltyFree Images. … The “free” in royaltyfree does not mean there is no cost for the license, but instead refers to being able to freely use the image without paying additional royalties. A small-business owner, for example, may opt to pay a one-time fee for RF images for his website.”

Public Domain Images

free-2751473_640These are the kind of images I now use on my blog and for some of my website images.

Good old Wikipedia describes these kind of images as:

“A public domain image is defined as a photo, clip art or vector whose copyright has expired or never existed in the first place. These images can be used by almost anyone for personal and commercial purposes.”

There are lots of public domain images sites on the internet. I use www.pixabay.com  a lot, as there is a good range of photos and cartoon images that I like. I also use www.unsplash.com too, which is similar.

When you go into these sites, you can search for any subject matter in the search line. When you click into the image, there is a ‘free download’ button to press. And underneath this button is the Pixabay License details. It usually says ‘Free for commercial use’ and ‘No attribution required’. I always check that this is written about the image I want to use, then I can just go ahead and download and use.

Other sites to consider are:

  • 1 Million Free Pictures – there are no copyright or other issues with this company as they make their own images and put them on their site and offer them free of charge to the public. Great if you want to get your logo up and running and can’t find an appropriate image.
  • The British Library is another site that has no copyright issues. According to the site, there are over a million images available for personal or commercial use – free of charge.
  • Public Domain Archive is a site managed by a professional photographer. There are thousands of images, both contemporary and vintage, on a range of topics, such as sport, animals, architecture etc. Photos are free to use for personal or commercial use and new photos are downloaded every week.
  • Negative Space is a great site for free high-resolution images, so perfect for using on your website or blog.

These are just a few of the sites available, and ones that I am familiar with, but there are loads more out there to choose from.

If you have a favourite site you use, please share with me so my readers can take advantage of the site.

Did you start your New Year with a bang?

Happy New Year everyone, if a little belated! Did you start your New Year with a bang…
or was it more of a sigh?

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January and February are notoriously hard for the small business as things are generally chimpanzee-978809_640quiet after the Christmas period and January seems to go on forever…or is that just me? It’s a time when we feel lethargic and I always think January feels like a bit of a let-down after the festivities of Christmas and New Year…..a bit like my Chimp friend here on the right!

Whether you’re busy or not, this is an ideal time to kick-start your business, tell people about what you do, show your products or services and get that business rolling in.

Lots of us make New Year’s Resolutions, but less than 10% will achieve that resolution…in fact by now (end of January) most people will have given up on their resolutions…or at least be finding them hard to keep. So, try and tap into what your customers make resolutions about. If you’re a health and fitness business, for example, some of your customers may want to lose weight and get healthy this year. Ask your customers what their resolutions were and see if you can help them achieve that resolution with your products or services.

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Social Media Marketing Ideas

Social Media is a very popular place to advertise your business – you can use Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or any of the other many sites. I’m going to look at Facebook and the Facebook business page.  If you have a business Facebook page, contrary to what you might think, people don’t follow you to solely buy your products or services. They like to see a wide variety of posts to keep their interest, so it’s a great idea to have a plan of the kind of things you will be posting month on month.

  • Interesting or entertaining content…this can be fun or factual, but all in a light-hearted way – maybe use memes, jokes, contests, puzzles or just a fun inspired image.
  • Content that inspires your audience – there are loads of inspirational quotations out there – you could google a particular theme and run with that for a month, posting something inspirational once or twice a week. Inspirational posts can also be image based – a breath-taking image, something that makes your audience say ‘Wow!’
  • Educational posts – can you teach your audience something? It could be a ‘how to….’ post; how to crochet a hat; how to make a particular tasty dish – a new exercise to combat belly fat or in my case…how to market your small business. These posts help to set you up as an expert in your field and inspires confidence in what you do.
  • Dialogue/chatty posts – these kind of posts are encouraging your followers to interact with you. Ask a question, and be genuinely interested in the answers you get; run a poll to find out your followers’ opinion on a particular subject; publish a post of something that interests you, maybe your favourite holiday destination, with a caption that says why you like your favourite destination – then ask what your followers’ favourite destination is and why.
  • Personal posts – I’ve read that it’s not a good idea to share too much from our personal lives. However, there is a time and place to engage with your audience on a personal level, to connect with your audience and show them you are a real person! You could share photos of your pet or an event you’ve been to; a place you love to visit and why or maybe what you’d like to do if you won the lottery! This makes you a real person that your customers can relate to, but worth noting to limit these to a couple times a month.
  • Promotional posts for your business… YES, there is space for this too! Share new products or services and how they can help your customers; a discount; buy one, get one free; recommend a friend. Also share customer referrals and testimonials

These are just a few ideas on how you can keep the attention of your customers and attract new ones on Facebook. The important thing is to make a plan with a good variety of posts to keep your customers’ interest and make them want to come back for more. Make it your February resolution to plan your business page on Facebook!

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

How to promote your small business online

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In this day and age, where technology is easier than ever to access and where most of the population use Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, Google+ or one of the many other social media platforms, you can’t afford not to have your business online. If you have a small business, it’s also worth considering setting up a website. These are the two online vehicles I’ll be talking about in this blog.

Why have a website?

id-100249653Having an online presence not only puts your business in front of a huge, global audience, it can help you get more sales and enable you to become more ‘real’ to your customers. The internet never takes a nap, gets distracted or falls asleep, so once you have your online presence, your business has the potential to be working for you 24/7. Customers can see your products and services in their own time, whenever they feel like it, so whether they work 9-5 and go online in the evening or whether they are night-shift workers and search for what they want during their break (at three in the morning), they can find you. More importantly, if you sell products and have an online store, a customer can order from you as soon as they feel the urge…they don’t have to wait for a shop to open at 9am, by which time they might have changed their mind. And they don’t have to travel to get what they want – whether you live in their neighbourhood or whether you lives hundreds of miles away, they can still buy from you.

A website gives potential customers the chance to check you out. What do you sell? What services do you offer? What is your business all about? What are you like? Your website builds your brand – online reviews from satisfied customers conveys the message that you are trustworthy; that your products or services are good; fills them with confidence in choosing you above your competitors. Your website can do all this…without you having to be there!

If you haven’t got a website yet, but would like to, click here for a very helpful site, which takes you through the process, step by step.

Social Media

id-100255669Using Social Media is the most common way to let people know your business exists and to build your brand. Social Media networks have millions of customers passing through them every single day – some of them will be your new customers. If you run a social media campaign for your business, or publish useful and high quality content on a regular basis, you can slowly, but surely build your online reputation. I don’t mean constantly bombarding people with images of your products with the hard sell, but taking the time to tell your audience what your product or service can do for them. Solve a problem, answer a question, show them that your products or services are worth buying or using and why.

However, Social Media is not a quick fix for your business – it’s an easy way to promote what you do, but it takes time and effort on your part to make it work and to build up your businesses reputation. Also, once you are on a particular social media platform, you need to monitor it to make sure you answer any questions or queries someone may have posted and to deal with any potential complaints or negativity.

Top 10 sites   

id-100282617Once you have decided to go the social media route, you just need to decide which one or two to go for. There are loads to choose from, but here are the top 15 sites, compiled in September 2016 by eBizMBA Rank – a US company. http://www.ebizmba.com/articles/social-networking-websites

  • Facebook
  • You Tube
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • Google+
  • Tumblr
  • Instagram
  • Reddit
  • VK
  • Flickr
  • Vine
  • Meet-up
  • FM
  • Classmates

You don’t need to use them all – it’s better to pick a couple and be brilliant at knowing how that one works for you, than to be on several that you know little about.

Email Marketing 

Email marketing, simply put, is the method companies use to send a message to a group of people using email. Sometimes it is used to send out adverts or maybe to inform id-100426841customers about a new product. However it is effective for small businesses to use this method to send out a monthly or quarterly newsletter. This can be written in a friendly, chatty way and is a great way to stay connected to your customers. You just need to collect email addresses of new and existing customers and, most importantly, ask them if they would like to receive your newsletter. You MUST have their permission to do this, so good to have a form they can complete online on your website to ask to subscribe. You can then use it to let them know about any special offers or discounts, inform them about new products and generally tell them a bit about your business and how it works. It’s a great way to stay in touch with customers and build customer loyalty.

These are just three ways to promote your business online. Which method do you find the most effective for your business? Please comment in the box below.

Images courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net