Hard skills vs soft skills of a marketer

As someone who does all the marketing for my business, I know there are many skills that marketers need. There are hard skills, which are more the technical and analytical side, and soft skills, the more creative, collaborative side.

Marketing Skills

Hard skills

Let’s take a look at the hard skills first.

Analytics

Analytics is about finding your way around the large sets of data, to help you interpret your audience’s behaviour, look at the performance of campaigns and measure the ROI (return on yours or your customer’s investment).

When working with content creation and product marketing, it’s imperative to be able to measure what you do and whether it’s having the desired outcome and impact on your target audience. Marketers with excellent hard skills like this are very sought after in both corporate and retail companies, as well as the smaller businesses.

There are several tools you can use to measure data, such as google analytics, and if you are a social media manager, using the insights on the pages you manage is invaluable.

Content Strategy

Content Strategy

If you are into content creation, then content marketing and a strategy is a fundamental part of your job. Here are a few statistics that illustrate the importance of content creation and content marketing.

  • 47% of B2B buyers consume three to five pieces of content before engaging with brand.  Source
  • 84% of people expect brands to produce content. Source
  • 91% of B2B marketers say that they use content marketing in their strategies. Source

So, you can see that content creation is a very valued skill. Content isn’t just about making a few pretty images, it’s about the sales pitch or the caption that is written to go along with the images you curate. Some social media channels require a short and concise caption, whilst others, such as Instagram, can be longer and more detailed.

Content creation also includes things like blog posts, articles, eBooks, emails and other written materials. Effective writing skills are very sought after and not something that can be automated. It’s a very human skill and crucial if you are a marketer.

Social Media

Most businesses use social media platforms to advertise their products or services and to put their brand out there. Over the past 10 years, social media has transformed the way that people interact with brands online and also the way that marketers communicate with target audiences.

All social media platforms have measurement tools to help you get to know the audience that follows you, likes and comments on your posts and generally engages with your business and brand. A social media content strategy will include setting goals for your business, based on social media posts and campaigns.

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

There are literally billions of people interacting online at any one time during the day or night. Most of us look first to the internet if we want to buy something and even look at reviews of products or services before we even press that ‘buy now’ button. But how do they find what they’re looking for? That’s where SEO comes in.

If you’re a marketer, you need to at least have a fundamental understanding of SEO, so you can be sure that your business, or your customers’ business, is found online. This includes keywords and phrases to help Google find your business, when someone types into the Google search bar.   

SEO doesn’t just apply to websites and social media, it’s also vital to ensure that anything you post is optimised for mobile users as well as desktop, tablet or iPad users. Most website hosts do this for you, but it’s always worth checking that your content looks good on a mobile as that’s where most people do their searches.

Technology

Technology

This is kind of linked to analytics, but what I’m getting at here is actual technology, such as the tools and platforms that you might use to promote your business or help you manage your business. For example, if you send out a regular email or newsletter, the General Data Protection Regulations, (GDPR) states that you must get customers to opt-in to your emails – you can’t send them anything without their express permission. And the easiest way to do this is by setting up your opt-in on a platform, such as Convertkit, MailChimp or Mailerlite, which are the three platforms I use for my clients. When you set up your subscription opt-in on these platforms, they automatically ask the right questions so you are compliant with GDPR – they also give your customers the option to unsubscribe to your newsletter or email via a button at the bottom of each email that goes out – which keeps you compliant with the rules and regulations.     

SOFT SKILLS

Soft skills are the more creative and collaborative side of marketing, probably the bit that most marketers love – well I do!

As well as creativity etc., soft skills also include many different attributes, such as honesty, leadership, a good work ethic, time management – skills that are very difficult to quantify.

Here are some of the top soft skills.

Creativity

Creativity

This includes bringing new ideas and interpretation to common problems, and how to solve them using the written word.

Flexibility

Marketing means you have to be flexible – there are always new tasks to take on and new responsibilities constantly pop up. Very often, what you started off doing a few months ago for a client, will look very different 6 months down the line. You have to constantly be on top of new ways of doing things and you often have to hit the ground running with new platforms etc.

Resourcefulness and Adaptability

A resourceful marketer uses all the tools available to her, to find the most appropriate one for each customer or business. It’s also important to be on top of the analytics to help make that informed decision.

Marketers have to learn as much as they can about target audiences, in order to be able to make decisions about the way to market a product or service. Intuition and adaptability plays a big part here and covers things like quick decision making, keeping calm under pressure or going against the norm to achieve success for your clients.

Adaptability also means that you’re able to change plans at the drop of a hat and tackle new challenges with determination and vigour.  

Collaboration

You might work for a small business or a large corporation on their marketing. Whichever it is for you, collaboration will be a big part of everything you do. You need to build good, strong relationships with your clients and with other people who work for that client or company too. For example, you might be asked to do email marketing or write a regular blog post, and your client may already have a social media manager. You will definitely need to collaborate so that the social media marketing takes into account the emails or blog posts you write – and that subject matter is consistent with the overall marketing plan or strategy. 

Leadership

Leadership

Leadership is the last point I’m going to cover, but a crucially important one. So, what is leadership? It’s about having the ability to keep a good group dynamic, be able to lead a team with compassion, and inspire your team with your business insights, experience and innovation.

It’s also about being able to assess situations and defuse anything that could get out of hand. A leader will usually drive any collaborations, adapt to new technology and lead the marketing strategy in the best way possible.

A leader will need to know the customer or target audience inside out. What they like, don’t like, making sure that everything that’s done or suggested has the customer at the heart of everything. Are their problems being solved? What makes them happy? What makes them tick?

Marketing is something that never goes away. No matter whether your business is small (or just you!), or whether you own a multi-million organisation, marketing is the key to getting your products and services in front of your target audience. It’s not something that you can wing and hope it works – it needs to be carefully planned, organised and executed with a sound strategy.

If you’d like help to build your marketing strategy, find out who your target audience is and how to reach them, but don’t know how, drop me a mail and I can help.

cindymobey@outlook.com

How Copyright protects your work

Copyright is what protects your work and prevents others from using it without your permission.

It is automatically applied to your work, so you don’t have to pay a fee or apply for a license.  Copyright is automatically applied when you create:

  • Original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic work, including illustration work and photography
  • Original non-literary written work, such as software, web content and databases
  • Sound and music recordings
  • Film and television recordings
  • Broadcast
  • The layout of published editions of written, dramatic and musical works

You can put the copyright symbol on your work, alongside your name and the year, e.g. ©Cindy Mobey 2021. Even if you decide you don’t want to do this, or if you forget, it doesn’t affect the level of protection you have.

How long does copyright last?

It starts as soon as you’ve created your work and expiry date is anywhere between 50-70 years after creation, in some cases 50-70 years after the death of the creator. This depends on what you’re creating, be it music, literary, broadcast etc.

What happen if I breach copyright?

The one thing I always talk about to my clients is copyright. If you are writing a blog, or creating content online, for social media for example, you should NOT just use any image you see on Google. Most images on the internet are protected by copyright and you could face legal action and substantial fines if you are found out. I always say to use the free image sites, such as unsplash, pixabay or pexels. These images, in the majority of cases, come with a commercial license, so it’s OK for you to use them for commercial purposes – such as your blog or social media pages.

Breaching copyright is also very damaging to your reputation. If you’re a small business, we all know how important it is to be trustworthy and ethical. Being found in breach of copyright could seriously undermine the trust that customers put in your business. They may wonder if you’re honest in other aspects of your business. So, it’s really not worth the risk.

Copyright Policy

If you have a website, it’s a good idea to have a copyright policy. This policy just basically tells people that your work is your own and that they can’t copy it etc.

This will then protect you from anyone:

  • Copying your work
  • Putting your work on the internet
  • Performing or playing your work in public
  • Renting or lending copies of your work, (books for example)
  • Adapting your work for their own use
  • Distributing your work, or copies of your work, regardless of whether they distribute it for sale or free

It can be very tempting to just copy something or copy and paste that cute image you see, but it’s really just not worth it.

If you’d like to find out more about international copyright log into the IPO Information Centre – information@ipo.gov.uk

How to use Facebook for business

Facebook is a great place to showcase and market your small business. It is totally free to set up a business Facebook account – you just have to have a personal account first, in order to be able to set it up.

I’m not going to go into the setting up of the actual page in this post, but if you need help with this, there is a great, step by step tutorial by Facebook that is really useful.

If you want your business to really blossom on social media, then Facebook is an excellent place to do just that. It’s a great place to market your business and, according to Facebook,”creating a Facebook page allows more than 2 billion people on Facebook to discover your business – think of your page as a digital shopfront.”

What do I post about?

With Facebook, you can create many different types of posts. Each different type of post has its benefits and can engage your audience in different ways. I always suggest that people use the 80/20 rule. That is to say, 80% posts that are engaging, entertaining, educate or inspire your audience, and 20% sales. Your audience don’t want to just be sold to all the time – they want to engage with you and your business and this also helps your brand. Your social media strategy should include all of these types of posts. Let’s look a bit deeper…

Facebook Text Post

A text post is exactly what it says on the tin – just straight forward text only…just words, no photos, no videos, and no links.

Although this type of post is direct, I wouldn’t say this was great for business – especially if your strategy is to drive traffic to your website or directly speak to your audience to get them to buy or engage with you and your brand. But text posts can be good to share opening hours or availability, but be aware that the Facebook algorithm doesn’t really like text only, so your reach may not be good.

Photo post

Generally, photo posts see a higher engagement than text posts. You can use photos, illustrations or infographics to catch your customers’ eye, so you need to think about the images you use. There are lots of free image sites out there where you can source photos – PLEASE don’t use google images and just copy and paste. Most of the images on google are not royalty free and you could get into trouble with copyright issues.  I use pixabay.com or unsplash.com – these are free sites and when you pick an image, it tells you that the image is free for commercial use, which means you can use it for social media or on your website. Of course, you can choose to also take your own photos – especially good if you sell products.

Photo posts are great for product-based businesses, as you can really show off your products and you can show behind the scenes shots – anything really that will engage your audience.

Video post

Videos have even higher engagement rates than photo posts. You can do short and sweet video announcements or you can do longer videos to explain something, or to do a ‘how to’ post.

Video automatically plays in your feed, so you’re guaranteed to catch your audience’s attention.   

Facebook Live

Facebook Live video is, as the name suggests, a video that you stream in real-time or ‘live’. This is really popular and a great way to show your authentic self and a fabulous way to connect with your audience. Some ideas you could use would be an introduction video so your audience get to know you better; you could do a Q&A post to let people know more about what you do or your products; you can do behind the scenes video or product demos…in fact anything you can think of.  

Link posts

A link post is exactly that – a post that shares a link (or URL) with your audience. This is great to share your website or blog site. You just copy and paste the URL of your website/blog post and paste it into a Facebook post. The link automatically shows your audience a preview of the site with an image from that site.

You can also share links to other sites – interesting articles or links to events that you might want to share. Just make sure that you add some of your own wording before you click ‘publish’, so it’s personal to you and speaks directly to your target audience.

Stories

If you’re on Instagram, you’ll know that you can publish stories on that platform. But Facebook stories are also a great way to get the attention of your followers. Just like Instagram, Facebook stories are photo based, or short video posts. The photos appear for five seconds and videos can be up to 20 seconds long. Like Instagram, they disappear after 24 hours. It’s a good way to give a quick sneaky peek at something you’re about to launch, or use it for intrigue for a competition or contest.

Pinned post

You can ‘pin’ any regular post – pinning a post means that it will always stay at the top of your page feed, so it will always be the first thing that people see when they visit your page.

Once you have created the post, simply click on the three dots to the right of your post – you’ll see the option to ‘pin post’. Once pinned, the post will say ‘pinned post’ above it. You can change it whenever you like. It’s good for giving important information or instructions to your audience…or as a temporary announcement.

Facebook Watch Party

You can use this feature to screen a public video on Facebook in real time, so you and your followers can experience it together. It’s a great way to create a buzz for a new product launch – and this is often used to launch a music video.

You can promote your watch party by creating an event.

Create event

If you do events, for example if you are a musician and you’re playing in a local bar, you can set up an event to advertise it. Not only a great way to advertise, you can also invite people to your event, you can add photos and information so people know exactly where and when the event is…and what they will get.

Other options

You can also post job listings, special offers and you can even use the option to raise money for a charity.

Marketing your business on Facebook

Now you know how you can post on Facebook and the different ways to post, how do you actually market your business? I talked earlier about the 80/20 rule; 80% engaging, entertaining, educating or inspiring your audience and 20% selling your products.

It’s best to plan your content strategy, so you know what you are going to post and when. There are loads of different types of posts that will do all these things.

Engagement – you can engage with your audience by asking questions, or you could give them information about your products/services without doing the hard sell. Talk about the features or benefits of your products/services – what’s in it for your potential customers? What does your product or service do for them? How can it help solve their problems?

Entertaining – these posts could be something funny or interesting to share.

Education – ‘How to’ posts or teaching your audience something about your business or products/services.

Inspiring – this could be in the form of inspirational quotes, or you could include a link to an inspirational article that you like – or one linked to your particular type of business.

The final type of course, is selling – this would include images of your products, advertising what you sell or what your services are.

In a previous blog, I talk about the different types of posts you could incorporate into your content strategy – click here to find out more.   

How do potential customers find your page?

This is all about you engaging with your target market. You need to know who your ideal client is and what they like. Join groups on Facebook, via your personal page – there are several that are set up for Facebook to specifically help you engage with like-minded businesses and your target audience. For example, Hike Those Likes Market Place is a friendly group where you can meet other small businesses. They have regular, daily engagement sessions that you can join and leave a link to your business. Other people follow you if they like your business. Once they follow you, every time you post, it will appear on their timeline – and so everyone who has liked their page will also see your post.

You can use the search bar to search for your target audience and engage with their pages. Once you have followed them, you will see their posts. Comment on their posts – a pointer here is to be totally genuine – don’t just comment for the sake of it, but only if you are genuinely interested in what they have to say.

Facebook ads

You can also create an advertisement for your business on Facebook. This is all about getting your message in front of your target audience – those that are most likely to want what you sell or provide. There are different types of Facebook ads and targeting options. To find out more about ads, Hootsuite have a great guide.  

And finally, measurement

How do you measure whether or not your posts are successful? You can find this out by using Facebook analytics or Insights.

Facebook Insights will let you know which types of posts work best for your business. It measures things such as:

  • likes/follows
  • reach – how many people saw your post
  • engagement – how many people liked, clicked, shared or commented on your posts

It also tells you which posts result in people who ‘unlike’ your page.

Conclusion

Facebook is a great platform for small businesses and if you put in some time to understand how it works…and more importantly, what works best in terms of post type and frequency etc., you really can take your business to the next level.

If you need help with your Facebook business page, please feel free to contact me.

cindymobey@outlook.com

Earth Hour 27 March 2021

The first Earth Hour was started by WWF, as a symbolic lights-out event in Sydney in 2007, but has since become one of the world’s largest grassroots movements for the environment. Held every year on the last Saturday of March, millions of people worldwide turn their lights off to show support for our planet.  

Although Earth Hour is technically only one hour a year, it has become a lasting catalyst for positive environmental impact, driving major legislative changes. This is a very rare event that encourages every single person on the planet to participate. Only by working together, are we going to save the beautiful planet we live on.

For 2021, with the current Covid restrictions, instead of meeting in a public place, people will be participating in Earth Hour online. They are asking you to share a video link on your social media pages and take photos of you and your family switching off all of the lights and electronics in your home at 8.30pm (your local time), on Saturday 27 March.

Take part tonight – Click here to see the video link that you can share

Why support Earth Hour?

Nature underpins everything around us, from the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe, to our very livelihoods and quality of life. Nature is crucial for all our futures and helps against the current climate crisis. The biodiversity of our planet is under threat and we can do something about it…

What is biodiversity, why is it under threat and why does it matter?

According to worldwildlife.org

“Diversity is all the different kinds of life you’ll find in one area—the variety of animals, plants, fungi, and even microorganisms like bacteria that make up our natural world. Each of these species and organisms work together in ecosystems, like an intricate web, to maintain balance and support life. Biodiversity supports everything in nature that we need to survive: food, clean water, medicine, and shelter.

But as humans put increasing pressure on the planet, using and consuming more resources than ever before, we risk upsetting the balance of ecosystems and losing biodiversity. WWF’s 2018 Living Planet Report found an average 60% decline in global populations of mammals, fish, birds, reptiles, and amphibians since 1970. The 2019 landmark, Global Assessment Report, by the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services reported one million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction – the highest number in human history. 

Three-quarters of the land-based environment and roughly 66% of the ocean environment have been significantly altered. More than a third of the world’s land surface and nearly 75% of freshwater resources are now devoted to crop or livestock production. Climate change worsens the impact of other stressors on nature and our wellbeing. Humans have overfished the oceans, cleared forests, polluted our water sources, and created a climate crisis. These actions are impacting biodiversity around the world, from the most remote locales to our own backyards.”

WWF also tell us that one of the most wonderful things about biodiversity is its resilience. If we “ease up on the pressure, manage resources well, give it time, and the ecosystem will adapt. Nature and biodiversity will recover.” 

What can you do to support this event?

2021 is an important year for change. World leaders will be coming together in key global conferences to set the environmental agenda for the next decade and beyond. Decisions will be made around climate action, nature and sustainable development – this will directly affect the fate of humanity and our planet for years to come.

EARTH HOUR 2021 could help put nature in the spotlight and show world leaders and other decision makers around the world that nature matter and urgent action must be taken to reverse nature loss.

So, as a reminder, switch your lights off for an hour – you can light candles and post your photos on social media of you and your family switching the lights off or sitting in candlelight to show your support.  

And don’t forget to share Earth Hour’s official video on your social media pages.

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.

How to create your buyer persona

Whenever I create content, I think about my target market. And that leads me to the buyer personas I’ve created. I find it so much easier to write any content, be it social media posts or blog posts, because I have a particular person, or group of people in mind.

What is a Buyer Persona?

A buyer persona is a kind of fictional mock-up of your ideal client. This is based, not only on demographic, geographic and psychographic criteria, but also more specific data, such as what motivates them etc. 

Each buyer persona you have, (and I recommend at least 3-4), will represent a particular group to whom you are going to aim your advertising, your content and your sales pitch. You couldn’t do individual ideal client or buyer personas, because obviously all your clients are different, but it just helps you to focus your communications.

When you are writing your content, you want to:

  • attract potential customers to your website or online shop
  • engage, educate, entertain and inspire
  • gain their trust
  • convert them into paying customers 
  • retain their custom and hopefully, make them an Ambassador for your business

In order to do all of this, you need to know who your potential customers are, then it’s easier to do all of the above! You need to make sure that you attract the people who match what you have to offer. For example, it’s no good aiming your content at people who hate sport, if you sell football boots!

How do you create this buyer persona?

First of all you need to research your target market, as this will help you create a realistic persona.

Step 1

Look at your current client base and see what your current customers do, what they like and dislike. Are there any similarities between them? Make a note of everything that is similar.

If you have regular customers, you could ring them directly and ask them questions about their buying decisions. Alternatively, if you have an email list, you could send out a survey to your customers asking them things like:

  • What kind of content would you like from me?
  • Why do you buy my products or use my services?
  • Do you have any problems or challenges in your business/life that you’d like me to solve?
  • Do you have any questions about my business?

This will then give you a good basis for creating your personas.

Step 2

The next step is to narrow down the information you have even more.

  • What are their demographics? For example, age, occupation, marital status, salary)
  • What are their geographics? Are they local, regional or in other countries? (You would do one persona for each of these.)
  • Psychographics – what are their interests? Do they have any hobbies? For example, are they interested in your products because they’re eco-friendly? Take a close look to see if you can align your products/services to their hobbies or interests.
  • What about their behaviours? What do they like to read about? What kind of programmes do they like to watch on TV, Netflix etc?
  • How do they learn? This would be important if you are planning to teach something or run a training webinar. Do they learn through being shown how to do something, or through step by step instructions?
  • What are their pain points?
  • How often are they happy to have emails from you? When do they look at their emails? What attracts them to opening emails?

Step 3

 Now you can start to create your separate personas. You can organise the information you’ve gathered into groups, and each of those groups will be a separate buyer persona.

You could have a group that have similar challenges or pain points, for example.

I give my buyer personas a name, as I find it easier to identify with that group and it makes it easier for me to write for them.

For example:

One of my buyer personas is called Jennifer.

  • Jennifer is in her late 30s
  • She is married with two small children, both at school
  • She runs her own small crafting business. She makes craft items that she sells at local markets, and she has an online shop.
  • She likes to buy things that are eco-friendly and looking after the environment is important to her.
  • She struggles with juggling time in her busy day, so her social media posts, although consistent, don’t always sell her business well. She knows that marketing her business is important, but doesn’t have the time or money to invest a lot in this important aspect. She’d like to know more about how to promote her business and get more clients.  

I have six of these specific buyer personas, all made-up people, but all of them have one thing in common – they own their own small business. I target my blogs and my social media content at them, aiming to help them with their marketing. They are loosely based on clients I have or have had in the past. 

The importance of buyer personas

Now that you have your different buyer personas, you can tailor everything you write or create to those groups of people. You have put a human element to your buyer personas, so everything you create, from social media post and webinars, to podcasts and video etc., can be targeted at your ideal market.  

You’ll find that people will engage more with your content and take more notice of your emails, as they will be specifically targeted to them.

If you need any help with identifying your target market, or pulling together your buyer personas, feel free to email or message me. I offer a free initial consultation.

cindymobey@outlook.com or you can book a free consultation on my website… www.cindyfreelancewriter.com   

7 tips for increasing online customer engagement

There are more people than ever online these days – the pandemic has definitely contributed to that as people are looking to buy things they can’t go out to get. But, mainly it’s because technology has improved and become so popular. Searching online for what you want, be that information or the latest gaming device, has never been easier or more accessible.

It seems to make sense that if you’re a small business, you absolutely must be on the online space. That could be with a website, blog, shop, or on social media channels. But with so many people trawling the internet, the competition for business is fierce and converting someone to a customer is a whole new ball game.

Customer engagement strategies are the answer, but what kind of strategies can you use to engage consumers and then convert them to buyers? Here’s a few ideas:

Maximise the customer experience (CX)

The customer experience is absolutely the key to any business and you should do everything you can to make your customers happy. They buy your products and services, so every single touchpoint needs to leave them with a ‘warm fuzzy’ feeling, not a ‘cold prickly’ one! The customer experience covers everything, from the very first time they come across your business, through the awareness stage, attraction, interaction, purchase, use of that purchase and of course support and promotion.

Customers are connecting more and more via mobile devices, so being found online is vital. You have just seconds to make a good impression, so your online business needs to be visually pleasing and impactful. It’s important to think about the how your customers will interact with you, so ensure that you are contactable and easy to do business with.  

If you have employees that deal with your customers directly, make sure they understand the importance of excellent customer service. Everything they do will reflect on your business. Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hataway once said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” This is so true, and quite a sobering thought.

Never underestimate Word Of Mouth Marketing (WOM)

A happy, satisfied customer will be loyal to your brand, and will do some of your marketing for you, by telling all their friends and family how good your products or services are. A satisfied customer will also give great reviews, which always helps your brand’s reputation and makes you stand out from the crowd. Word of Mouth Marketing is probably one of the oldest forms of marketing, but is still very much alive and kicking today!

Relate to your customers

Your customers want to feel that they are valued and important to you. So it’s absolutely crucial to understand their needs and to show that you care about them.   

Don’t use a ‘one size fits all’ approach – they are all different. Respond to emails, messages and any communication promptly and positively. If there is something a customer is concerned about, address it immediately and try to work with them to find a solution.

Keep communications personal and make your customers fall in love with your business.

If you get a complaint or any negative feedback, do not ignore it. See it as a challenge to win the customer round…find out exactly what the complaint is – talk to the customer, by phone if possible. It may be a simple misunderstanding, but if it isn’t, do everything you can to solve the problem. Sometimes problems can’t be solved and if this is the case, apologise and give a refund or suggest an alternative…or give a discount for their next purchase.    

 Surprise them!

How often do you surprise your customers? Surprising them means you do something that they’re not going to be expecting.

  • That might be a phone call to welcome a new customer or to catch up with an old one. 
  • Send them a completely personalised email
  • Give a free gift without expecting anything in return…an eBook, checklist, tips or advice

You could use a pop up to deliver a personalised message to a new customer to your website. If you’ve done the pop up well, it can encourage a potential customer to buy from you.

Use Social Media platforms

Most businesses are on social media platforms. And, as a business, you don’t have to be on them all; it would be far too much to manage! But choose two or three and learn everything you can about that platform. Then use those platforms as a tool.

  • Use it to connect with your audience
  • Identify questions that they need answers to
  • Research other platforms, influencers in your niche and find out what problems people have – then you can solve them!
  • Create content that speaks to your audience

Business pages on social media sites are not all about selling your services or products. It’s about engaging your audience. So use your posts to entertain, educate, engage and inspire. They will get to know you and your business and trust that you know what you’re talking about. And, they’ll also feel that you care about them, not just about the money they can throw your way. Be genuine and authentic!

Listen to your customers

This one is short and sweet, and says what it is on the tin. Listen to your customers. If you want to know something about your services or products, ask your customers. They are in the best position to answer you.

Send out a survey, and give a small incentive to respond. Send it to your customers, the recipients of your newsletter or followers to your blog.  

You can also set up a survey and put a link to it on your social media pages. Ask your followers to do the survey and to share it with their friends and families.

Provide valuable content

You might write a blog or send out a regular newsletter. And you most likely do use social media. Ensure your posts or articles are valuable to your customers. As I have said previously, they should entertain, educate, engage or inspire. Ideas for posts could be:

  • Introduce yourself and your business with a photo or video
  • Share something personal or share a photo of your workspace
  • Share an inspirational, funny  or work related quote
  • Create educational posts giving tips that will help them. For example, I am a small business marketing consultant, so I share tips that will help with marketing, or tips to help people grow their small business.
  • Show that you are an expert in your niche or field.
  • Ask questions – can be trivial or specific to something you want to know
  • Create polls  – again they can be fun or serious 
  • Use good images
  • Use video

Above all, show your passion and share your enthusiasm for your business with your customers and potential customers. If you invest the time, effort and engagement into your business, your customers won’t be able to help but get caught up in your excitement and will want to be a part of that.

Working from home – the new different!

2020 has been the year of working from home. Are you looking forward to going back to work or is it just another day NOT at the office for you for the foreseeable future?

According to the English newspaper, The Guardian, it has been reported that “only 34% of British white-collar workers had returned to the office, compared to 83% in France and an average of 68% among major European counterparts.” So, if you are working from home, how do you cope? For some, this has been a massive transition.

I’m lucky enough to always work from home, but I also live in rural France, where it is very quiet. I’m not sure how I’d fare in a city with noisy neighbours or sounds of traffic. The only problem I encounter on a regular basis is the inefficiency of my internet provider – being in a rural area means the signal is not always great. But I’m learning to manage that. But I guess that, so long as you don’t have neighbours who suddenly decide that DIY with noisy machinery is what they want to do all day, it works well…and the Covid pandemic means that more and more workers have had the chance to experience what it’s like. But of course, there are other factors to think about. Here are some handy hints and tips for working from home.

Start the day promptly    

It’s very easy when you work from home to procrastinate and ‘just do’ a few things before you get started. So, try and think of it as a normal working day. When you go to the office, you get up, shower and get to work. Try and do the same at home. Try and stick to your normal routine. Get up, shower, have a coffee and breakfast and set yourself a time to start work.

Structure your day

Get a normal structure going, as you would if you were at work. Have a ‘to do’ list and break your day into segments. For example, you might trawl through your emails first thing to see if anything urgent needs doing. Then get on with the tasks you’d normally do in the morning. You can stop for a coffee break/comfort break, as you would at work and of course, have a break away from your screen and desk at lunchtime. But don’t be lulled into the false sense of security of allowing yourself an extra half an hour to scroll social media or watch a daytime TV programme. This can seriously impact your efficiency. I know as I’ve been there and done that!

Have a dedicated work space

Rather than sitting on the sofa with your feet up and laptop on your lap, try and create a dedicated work space, with an office ‘desk’. This could be your kitchen or dining room table, but having this space encourages you to focus more and feels more like you are ‘going to work’.

Eliminate distraction

For me, the biggest distraction is social media and email. If I have them switched on when I’m working, I can’t help but respond to every ‘ping’ I hear. This is counter-productive and a huge distraction, causing lots of wasted time. I schedule a time to look at my social media pages, answer questions or comments on posts, and answer DMs etc. I also schedule time to post to my own business social media pages. Other than that, I switch it all off, so I don’t hear those enticing pings!

Know your most productive times

We all work differently, and working from home is a different experience for everyone. What is the best time of day for you to get the harder tasks done? For me, it’s in the morning. I write better in the morning and have more concentration. So, I schedule the most important, urgent or difficult tasks for the morning, and leave the things I find easier to cope with for the afternoon.

From research I’ve done on the subject of working from home, most articles advise that you save all your calls until the afternoon. However, I find that checking emails, responding to requests or phone calls are better done in the morning, before I start writing. If I think the calls are going to take me a long time, I might do them straight after lunch, but I think better in the morning, so it’s better for me to do them then. You may feel completely different – it’s about doing things in the order that best suits you.

Have some planning time

As an ‘at-home’ worker, I tend to do my planning for the next day late afternoon, or even in the evening. Whatever suits you best, ensure that you do have time in your diary to plan your next project, or plan the tasks that need to be done the following day. There will always be times when all your plans go out of the window and something happens that needs your immediate attention – that can’t be helped, but having a plan means that you’re ready to get up and go each day, knowing exactly what you need to do first.

It can be lonely

I think that the pandemic has probably taught a lot of us that isolation can be a big problem in working from home. Before lockdown, you could always relocate for a morning at the local coffee shop, so you are around other people, but lockdown means that bars and cafes are closed, so you are stuck completely at home. This is where technology comes in – you can keep in touch with other work colleagues or friends using messenger, Zoom or FaceTime calls. You can also join virtual meetings in the same way, so you don’t feel quite so alone. And it is good to check in with your work colleagues to chat about a particular project or ask advice. Sometimes just to chat through your day.

I know quite a few people who work from home in rural France. I know that a lot of them have a music playlist in the background to help them concentrate. Having some kind of noise in the background may work well for you. I even read somewhere that one lady has The History Channel on quietly in the background as that helped her concentrate. Again, it’s what best suits your situation and how you work.   

Manage the family

This is where I am lucky, as I live with just my partner. Our children live in the UK, so chats with them, and with each other, tend to be in the evenings. If you have your partner also working from home, or maybe retired, and children at home, then they have to be considered and their expectations managed. Just because you’re working from home, doesn’t mean you’re home, so they need to learn to respect your work time and not constantly disturb you. Having set hours that you work does help with this and they will also know what time you will be finishing, for lunch for example, so can chat and interact with you then. Obviously this is not always going to happen if you have young children at home, but it’s about trying to manage whatever situation you’re in as best you can.

Take breaks and have a finishing time

Finally, make sure that you do take regular breaks. I usually start work around 9.30 – 10am and don’t take a break until around 1pm. I’ll have a snack lunch, and sometimes have a wander around the garden. I might put washing on the line or do a bit of tidying up, or maybe half an hour weeding the flower beds, but I keep my lunch break to about an hour, so that I get back to work at a reasonable time.

I sometimes have another short break around 4pm and always switch off my PC between 6 – 6.30pm.

Above all, be kind to yourself and if you have the odd day where every plan goes out the window and you’re just not feeling it….don’t! And don’t feel guilty about it. If you’re not in the right frame of mind, you won’t get anything done and will find yourself procrastinating. Get some fresh air and focus on something else for a while and you might find you at least gain back some of your day. If you don’t, don’t punish yourself, you’re only human and sometimes there will be days when it’s just not happening.

For most, I’m sure that 2021 will see some sort of return to work. Some of you may be lucky enough (or unlucky, depending on how you look at it), to carry on working from home. It’s about what works best for you and only you can really know that. The tips in this article are meant to help with a bit of organisation, but you may find other ideas that work much better. It’s important to look after yourself and I wish you all the luck in the world to do what works best for you and your situation.

I’d love to hear from other home workers and how they’ve found the transition from busy office to working remotely. Let me know in the comments below, or feel free to email me.

Review of 2020 and plan for 2021

Here we are, nearly at the end of another year, and it’s time to look at our year-end review. What a year 2020 has been! The year of a world-wide pandemic, which is still seeing businesses unable to open and more people than ever working from home. Words we’d never linked to our everyday lives before are now the norm; lockdown, covid, furlough and I’m sure loads more. We wear masks wherever we go and we are restricted on when we can go out of our homes and who we can visit.

And all through this we still have to try and run our businesses from home. This has meant a huge upsurge in the number of people online, selling their products and services like never before. So this year end is even more important than any we’ve seen before; it’s even more crucial to do an end of year review and to start planning for the year ahead. With a possible vaccine in our sights, hopefully 2021 will see a more positive outlook for small businesses. That is, at least, something we can do for ourselves and our businesses. We can use what we’ve learned this year to plan for next year, taking into account the new skills and tips we’ve picked up to push business forward and still be successful.

So, where to start…

Review of 2020

Your business and your products/services

First of all, go back to basics. This helps you look at your business in a whole new light. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who are you and what does your business do?
  • What are your products or services?
  • What went well and what didn’t go so well?
  • What products or services were popular? Is there room for improvement? 
  • Do you have any new products or services planned for next year?
  • Due to the changes you’ve had to make this year, are there any expenses you need to take into consideration for next year, e.g. for training, new technology, new equipment?

Your competition and your area of business

How, look at your competitors.

  • Do you know who your competitors are? If not, do some research and find out about them and what they offer.
  • What is your USP (your Unique Selling Proposition) that sets you apart from your competition?
  • Looking at what you do and comparing yourself to your competitors, are there any trends, any opportunities you haven’t picked up on or any threats you hadn’t thought about?
  • Are there any changes in your industry that you need to be aware of or address?
  • Do you adhere to all the new GDPR rules that came about in 2018? For example, does your website comply with those rules? Are you doing everything you can to protect your customers’ data?
  • I hate to use the ‘B’ word, but have you considered Brexit, due to hit the UK in January 2021? Have you thought about how this will impact your business?
    – Can you still get access to materials for things you make? If you can, will there be any export charges?
    – If your business involves travel, either to or from the UK, depending on where you live, what impact will Brexit have on travel? Parliament have already passed the bill to take away freedom of movement, so how will this affect you?

Customers

Our customers are the most important aspect of our businesses. Do you know your customers well? If not, do some in-depth research.

  • Who are you selling to? Build up a picture of at least six customer personas, so you can tailor your products and services to them.
  • What are your customers’ needs and wants?
  • What are they buying and why?
  • Has their buying behaviour changed? For example, where are they buying? Is it more online?
  • What are your customers’ challenges? What are their problems and can your products/services solve those challenges or problems?
  • Are there any new markets or new groups of people that could benefit from your products/services that you haven’t yet considered?

Customer behaviour will constantly change, so it’s important to keep ahead and know what they want. If you have customer personas or profiles that you’ve created in the past, how have they changed and evolved?

Marketing your business

Marketing is a hugely important part of your business. This is an area that you really need to review. Take a step back and look at what you’ve done this year to market your business.

  • How are you talking or interacting with your current customers? Can that be improved?
  • How do you approach and talk to new or potential customers?
  • How are you positioning yourself in the marketplace? How are you promoting yourself and your business?
  • Look at your brand; what does it say about you?
  • Take a look at your pricing. Is it relevant to what you offer? Do you need to put your prices up to compete in your market?
  • Look at all your social media channels. How are your using them and how engaged are your audience?
  • Are there any new platforms or ways to market on social media that you’re not currently doing, but should…such as video?
  • What are your competitors doing with their marketing? Is there something you could take or use from their example?
  • Think about new campaigns or activities for 2021 that will help you stay connected to your current customer base, and also attract and engage new customers.

Resources

Look at your current resources.

  • Do you have anyone working for you? Do you have a business coach or Virtual Assistant? If you do, do they meet all your requirements? Is there anything more you can outsource to them, or anything they shouldn’t be doing anymore?
  • Do you have any skill gaps that you need to fill? If you do, look at what courses you can take to get you up to speed.
  • Is your workspace or office space big enough? Does it suit your needs? Do you need to update any equipment?
  • Do you need to update any technology or invest in something new?
  • If you buy in materials, are you getting a good deal? Sometimes we stick with one company to supply materials because we know them well, or just because we always have. That doesn’t mean they’re the best supplier, so take a look at some alternatives.
  • Are there anything you’re currently paying for that you no longer need?
  • If you post your products to customers, do you have a good deal? There are so many new companies that have sprung up, you may be able to find a much better deal than you currently have.

Finances

OK, now we’re at the biggie. The one we don’t like to think about, but a very important part of your year-end review.

  • What was your turnover in 2020 and what was your profit?
  • What is your projected turnover and profit in 2021?
  • Do you have a healthy cash flow or is your business having cash flow problems? If you’re having problems, what can you do about it? It’s not a good idea to ignore it!
  • Do you have any capital or any excess cash?
  • Are your books all up to date and ready for the tax man? I know I said the ‘T’ word, but it’s important to keep your business afloat. If you need an accountant, shop around and ask friends who are in business. If you have an accountant, ask him/her to give you all the relevant figures for 2020.
  • Do you have any operational costs or employee costs for 2021 that you haven’t planned for? How are you going to pay for that?
  • Do you need to look for external funding or any kind of investment to reach your goals for next year?
  • Do some projections – they don’t have to be exact. Maybe start with monthly projections, or where you’d like to be this time next year. And then, what you’d like to see for your business in 3 years’ time or 5 years’ time.

Once you have completed your review of 2020, you’ll have all the relevant information you need to start planning for 2021. Now you can start planning your goals for next year and thinking about where you are going to take your marketing.

Good luck and happy reviewing and planning!