How to set up and run a small business

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Sales, Marketing and PR for small businesses

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When you’re starting or running your own small business, you have an endless list of jobs to do. One of the most crucial is generating interest in your business and creating awareness of your products and services.

Big companies can have a team of people to do this and hire a PR agency but as a small business you will probably need to do all your PR yourself. There’s nothing more demotivating when you’re doing your own PR than spending hours getting the perfect press release put together… only for it to be completely ignored by all the journalists you’ve sent it to.

But don’t take it personally, it’s a very common occurrence. And when you hear that 99% of all press releases sent to the media end up in the bin you realise it happens a lot more often than you think.
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Most small business owners have an opinion on networking. For every person who enjoys and values it – you’ll find another who visibly shudders at the mere mention of the word.

But why does networking seem to polarise small business owners? Is it a massive untapped opportunity, or is it an uncomfortable evening in the company of strangers and cocktail sausages?
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As long as brands have existed, consumers have loved to talk about them. While 90% of conversations about brands are happening offline, today millions of people talk about companies on social media, and these online conversations now offer a new dimension in marketing.

Whether consumers are aware of it or not, these branded conversations are increasingly being watched by businesses.

Being faced with so many conversations happening in real time can be a daunting prospect, particularly for small businesses, but ignoring them can be a huge missed opportunity to influence how the world sees your brand.
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Every business – even yours – has a brand.

One common misconception is that your brand is your logo. Your logo is a single visual representation of your brand, but it is not your brand. Continue…

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In recent years, the number of businesses embracing social media has grown rapidly, and this trend is set to continue in the coming years.

The businesses that are successfully using social media as a promotional tool have recognised the importance of delivering valuable content on a regular basis, and the value of stimulating, and engaging with online conversations around their brand.

With the opportunity to connect with such a vast online audience, social media integration is no longer a choice for business owners but indeed a necessity. To help you on the way, here are 5 tips to help your business succeed with social media;
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Social media is widely hailed as the latest big thing in brand perception and reputation management. With the number of people using social media growing by the day, more and more businesses are recognising the need to connect with this audience.
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Ever since social media became so prominent, companies have seen a huge online fan base as something of a marketing holy grail, with the number of Facebook fans and Twitter followers becoming a benchmark for success.

Unfortunately, lots of companies jump into social media with energy and enthusiasm but quickly get disappointed or frustrated when the results aren’t quite as big as their ambitions.

The road to building an online fan base that is both big, and crucially, of value, is a long and winding with very few shortcuts, but here are five steps to think about in order to succeed: Continue…

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Take a close look at any business that has been thriving over the last few years, and there’s a very strong chance you’ll see it has a clear USP, or Unique Selling Point.

It’s something you need to develop as you start your own business. A USP is much more than just a way of positioning your business in marketing materials. It’s something that needs to be at the very core of what you are doing – part of your business’s DNA, if you like.
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Good publicity can help to propel your small business to another level. Sadly many small businesses don’t make any effort to get any press coverage because they think it’s impossibly difficult to do so.

However, it is really simple to get free publicity for your business. In fact, the reason that many businesses get it wrong is because they try to over-complicate things. Here are the five powerful and unbreakable rules you must follow when trying to get free publicity for your business:
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“Networking is always important when it’s real, and it’s always useless when it’s fake.” – Seth Godin

When I decided to investigate how some of the most successful networkers operated both online and offline, I was desperate to know the “differences”.

Some of the greatest teachers of our time encourage their followers to look for the distinctions in life – the greater your knowledge of these distinctions, the greater your capability to deal with life’s challenges.

Interestingly, regardless of whether the experts I interviewed were using offline events, clubs and conferences to build their networks, or whether they were joining digital communities and groups online, their actions were underpinned by the same operating principles and many of the same activities.

From interviews with leading business experts, I’ve identified their Top 10 tips for networking success. I’ve called them the “Magic 10″ because they kept appearing in interview after interview, seemingly from out of nowhere. If you can integrate these tips into everything you do, you will have a thriving business network in no time. Continue…

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The path from initial interest to confirmed sale hardly ever runs smoothly, especially in today’s tough marketplace.

Even though the buds of economic recovery are finally beginning to surface, failing to close is still a growing issue; a recent Silent Edge study has shown that only 49% of businesses are successfully closing deals, and that’s not the only problem. Continue…

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International bodies seem to be falling over themselves to upgrade their growth forecasts for the UK. The IMF recently hiked its predictions to 2.9% this year and the OECD to 3.2%. This is all good news. But what does it mean for business owners?

An interesting phenomenon occurs as economies race out of deep recessions; there is a rush for new and innovative products as buyers and consumers seek radical new solutions. This comes at exactly the time many companies are still in ‘recession mode’; blinkered, inwardly focused and slow, so creates a great opportunity for nimble and brave businesses. Continue…

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Business development is much more than just about marketing, sales, pitching, online wizardry, mailings, advertising, branding, social media strategies, glossy brochures, discount deals, promotional gimmicks or special events.

Every single thing a business does has a potential impact on how your business performs. Following these 10 business development truths, will help your business to grow and give you an edge over your competitors.
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If you can develop a better understanding of the selling process, you’re more likely to make those all-important sales. And by knowing more about the seven specific steps you need to take before you can close the deal, your sales efforts will be more richly rewarded.

Here’s what you need to know about the seven steps of the sale;
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The Brompton Bicycle is a great example of how a simple idea can be transformed into a global business. Today, the company behind the bike is a well-known British business success story, but it wasn’t always the case.

Back in the 1970s, having looked at the folding bike designs already on the market, Brompton founder Andrew Ritchie, decided he could do something better.
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When you are running a business you will come across and need to interact with a raft of various people. If you can quickly build up a rapport with different types of individuals things will be a lot easier for you. This is especially true when it comes to meeting and engaging with your all important customers.

But building customer rapport doesn’t mean that you change your values, beliefs, or your hairstyle! It simply means you need to find some commonalities between you and the customer that you can use to help them feel at ease. Continue…

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Free publicity is a great way to spread the word about your business. If you can get your business featured regularly in the newspapers and magazines your target audience reads, it brings your business to the attention of potential customers, and at no cost.

Another advantage of being featured in articles written about your business is that editorial coverage gives you a huge amount of credibility. It’s an independent trusted person talking about your business – the total opposite of an advert, where you are delivering your message.

The good news is that getting free publicity for your small business isn’t difficult if you know what you’re doing. Continue…

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The ability to negotiate the highest possible fees without risking a client relationship or an instruction has become increasingly important to individual professionals and professional service firms in recent years.

The rising influence of procurement on the buying side has squeezed margins for many service providers. Those best able to withstand these pressures are usually those that have the ability to negotiate robustly on fees.

Clients often ask what makes someone a great fee negotiator, i.e. someone who is able to get clients to agree to pay as high a fee as possible without losing the work, or the client. Continue…

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Starting a new business is hard work, and one of the toughest tasks is to generate a good flow of sales. You need sales to bring in the revenue to cover wages, pay overheads and invest in growing your business.

As a new business, the first sales are also vitally important as they prove that there is a demand for the product you are making, or the service you are offering. Once you have made your first sales, selling more is pretty simple as long as you can understand the process and the numbers.
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In this article, we look at what Groupon is, how you can use it to market your products and services, and what you need to do to get the best out of it – should you decide to go ahead and use it.
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