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Sales, Marketing and PR for small businesses

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For a small business, email marketing offers an inexpensive but effective and efficient way to engage with your customers, and attract new ones – so long as the right planning has been put in place first.

It creates and maintains communication, helping to keep your brand front of mind and build customer loyalty. Campaigns can be designed around a specific purpose, e.g. to boost sales, or to increase website traffic, and they can be targeted – you decide who receives which email.

Most importantly, and unlike many other marketing options, its results are measurable – the best email marketing platforms will even provide you with reports outlining how successful your campaign has been, and what aspects worked best.

This makes it an excellent choice for small businesses with a limited marketing budget. As long as you take the time to really think about what you want to get out of it, it is also simple – follow these 6 steps for planning and implementing your campaign, and you won’t go wrong. Continue…

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It doesn’t matter how many presentation skills training courses we’ve been on or how many truly terrible presentations we’ve seen, we all end up falling into the same old traps when we present, pitch or speak in public.

To help you avoid making yawn-inducing presentation mistakes we asked Steve Bustin, author of The Authority Guide to Presenting and Public Speaking to reveal the top ten presenting sins and how you can avoid them: Continue…

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Let’s start with a sobering statistic: Retailers opened the lowest number of new stores in the last 5 years in the first half of 2016. What’s more, 15 stores pulled down their shutters for the last time every day. Altogether, that means nearly 2000 more stores were closed than opened in that six-month period.

Today, as bricks and mortar shops seem to struggle more than ever before, embracing online has become all the more important. Even retail giant IKEA, who for a long time stuck to their bricks and mortar roots and resisted expanding its online presence for years, has recently announced that they will be launching a Click & Collect solution.

So how can smaller retailers take advantage of the changing ways we shop? Continue…

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Understand how to shape the customer journey and convert browsers into buyers.

The more relevant you make your website for each visitor, the longer they’ll stay, the more they’ll do, the more they’ll spend, and the more they’ll tell other people. And a great way to do this is to make the experience more personal.

Many small online retailers are missing out on the benefits personalisation can bring, so we asked Christer Holloman, author of How to Sell Online to reveal how you can take advantage of the opportunities it offers; Continue…

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One in three customers do not buy your complete range of products and services. Why? Well the answer is very simple! It’s because they don’t know you offer them!

So is your business unknowingly falling victim of this profit-crushing statistic?

A thought-provoking question, isn’t it? Continue…

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A standard approach to the resolution of business problems is to ‘brainstorm’ a range of possible solutions. The problem is that the method doesn’t work!

How many times have you sat through a brainstorming session and thought ‘I could have produced that list of solutions on my own?’ How many times has the most senior or dominant person in the group railroaded everyone else into accepting their solutions at the expense of potentially good ideas from quieter or less senior participants?

So, if you want to out-smart your competitors, you need to start using some smart thinking techniques. Continue…

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Customer-centricity is one of the hottest topic in business today. Across the world, companies of all sizes are looking for new ways to become more customer-centric in order to give themselves a competitive advantage in a decreasingly loyal marketplace.

Unfortunately, however, for many businesses the phrase “give them an inch; they’ll take a mile” is all too appropriate when it comes to customer-centricity. By striving to accommodate their customers wants and needs they leave themselves open to a proportion of their clients who will take advantage.

Get the balance wrong and give customers too much power and you will find yourself in a situation that is completely unsustainable in the long-term. Continue…

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You’ve established a company, it’s successful, and everything is running smoothly. Congratulations, that’s a fantastic feat. But…

… at some point every company will find that its growth has plateaued. Although things are stable, stimulating growth becomes an issue and the company isn’t climbing to the next level.

When this happens to you, do not panic, take these five steps and you’ll kick-start your business growth strategy.

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We live in a connected age where you can purchase pretty much anything you want at the touch of a button on your smartphone, tablet, laptop or computer.

With this in mind, you may find it surprising to learn that not all businesses are tapping into this, or even quite know how to.
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Lead generation is absolutely crucial to identifying potential customers that are interested in you business’s products and services.

With online leads coming from various sources such as search engines, email marketing, banner advertising and social media, you need to take an informed approach so you can reduce waste and focus your marketing budget on the sources that are driving the most high-quality leads.

Not only this but they need to prove the return on investment (ROI) from marketing to justify the budget in the first place.

So how can companies use data to identify exactly what drives lead generation, isolate the ultimate source of leads and streamline their marketing strategies? We asked Daniel Reilly, director at Ruler Analytics, to explain; Continue…

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You’ve done your market research, you’ve got a solid business plan, you’ve registered your company and pulled together funding, suppliers and everything else you need to start your new business. You’re ready to trade – you just need some customers.

However, not all customers are created equal; some are a delight to deal with, while others seem to have crept from the depths just to torment you.

When you’re building up your customer base, you obviously want more of the former and fewer of the latter, especially if you’re in a service-provision industry where customer relationships are key; but how can you achieve this? Continue…

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Negotiations are something all of us need to do every day. Whether it is securing a sale, negotiating a discount with a supplier or simply making arrangements with friends and family (children make particularly good negotiators!), the kind of questions we ask influences the final outcome for everyone.

The quality of the questions you ask will determine the quality of the answers you receive, so next time you are facing a negotiation situation, follow these 5 steps to make sure you are asking the right questions:
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In a world dominated by ever-updating newsfeeds and 140 character exchanges, it seems that the traditional practice of direct mail has no place in modern communication, particularly as businesses look to utilise cheaper, faster ways to communicate with their consumers.

However, overloaded inboxes and newsfeeds that update faster than you can blink means that direct mail still delivers impact in a digital world.

Direct mail may be one of the oldest marketing methods but it is also one of the most adaptable. Here are 7 key factors for any direct marketing campaign., combine these successfully and you can transform your return on investment (ROI):

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In a world where over three billion people use the internet, and no one can put down their smartphone or tablet, it seems obvious that startups and small businesses would look to advertise their products and services online.

Paid advertising puts your brand in front of a defined audience, and encourages them to make a purchase or a decision of some kind. In addition to increased sales, it can increase social media followers, newsletter sign ups, and brand awareness.

To help you get to grips with online advertising, and to ensure you make the most out of every penny you spend, here’s a beginner’s guide to paid advertising online.

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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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You may have attended presentations that dragged or others that gripped people throughout. Perhaps you have given talks yourself and wondered what really makes the difference.

Whatever the situation, there are numerous factors that affect your chances of success. Everything you do contributes to the overall audience experience and even small things make a big difference.

This guide gives you 9 proven, practical tips to deliver more engaging and more effective presentations. Each one makes a positive impact, and you will know best which will be most useful in your own presentations. Continue…

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“Will you give us a discount on that figure?”

“Can you match the lower price I can get down the street?”

“Can’t you do it cheaper?”

These are the kind of questions people running start-ups and small businesses get asked an awful lot.

But what are the best answers to give? Here, we look at how small business owners can respond to these kind of questions, without losing business and without cutting prices and profit margins.
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If there’s one marketing skill you should focus on developing above all others it is copywriting.

The ability to passionately sell a product or service in the written word is something that will never go out of fashion. And the reality is that few people will be able to do it as well for your business as you.

Yes, you can pay a copywriter to create the content for your new website or write a sales letter. But you have it within you to do a better job yourself. Your business gets your full focus day in, day out, so you are more likely to understand it properly and convey it more passionately to other people.

All you need to do is follow these seven simple copywriting secrets to write copy (another word for content) that potential buyers just can’t resist Continue…

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PR Tips for start-ups

June 8, 2016

As a start-up the chances are your marketing budget is smaller than you’d like, so it’s important to get as much out of it as possible.

Although not right for every business startup, PR is a marketing tool that is well worth considering as it builds both awareness and credibility. It can showcase your expertise while delivering third party endorsement from respected journalists and media outlets.

In addition, PR is great for your SEO; having articles authored by you or quoting you filling up the first few pages of Google is just what a start-up business needs.

So how do you do it? We asked, Chantal Cooke, author of PR Demystified; how to get free publicity by giving journalists what they really need, to share her blueprint for DIY PR success;

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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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10 Top tips for small businesses starting out with social media

May 23, 2016

We’ve all heard it; “You just have to be using social media marketing.” And the response from many business owners is; “I’m keen to try using social media to promote my small business but I’m not sure where to start.” If this sounds like you, here are ten simple but effective tips that will help […]

5 killer phrases that all negotiators should know

May 18, 2016

Negotiations can often be a mysterious process. Maybe the conversation has reached a sticky point, no one is budging and tempers are beginning to rise. Then one person says something and the whole situation transforms. You strike a great deal and everyone is best friends. How did that happen? How did they know just what […]

5 questions you should ask a prospective SEO agency before you consider hiring them

May 15, 2016

A website can be a very powerful marketing tool for start-ups and small businesses. An effective site helps smaller firms to reach out to a huge audience of potential new customers and take on bigger rivals. However, the battle to be found online can be fierce, so if you want your small business website to […]

How email can deepen customer relationships and transform online conversions

May 11, 2016

When considering great customer experience (CX), it can be helpful to picture a shopkeeper. The more we visit the shop, the better the shopkeeper gets to know us. After a few visits, the shopkeeper initially learns our name; then what products we like and have previously purchased; when we’re likely to need more of them; […]

The power of referrals – How tradesmen can win new customers online

May 4, 2016

Traditionally, tradesmen have thrived on word-of-mouth recommendations, but in today’s marketplace online referrals can have a big influence on whether a customer decides to employ your services. By the nature of their work, trades people cannot be expected to be experts in generating business online so we asked Jonny Lawrence, a digital marketing expert at […]

Marketing your small business through YouTube – The 4 essential steps to success

April 7, 2016

No longer uniquely the home of shaky phone cam footage of comedy pets, YouTube has become a truly global broadcasting powerhouse. Sure, there are still grainy home videos aplenty, but these days YouTube is as much about film trailers, news channels, comedy sketches and even dedicated web series. With one billion unique visitors every single […]

The sales strategy secrets that drive sustainable, profitable sales

March 21, 2016

A key part of any business development goal is creating an efficient sales strategy that gets your products or services in front of the right people and invites them to make a purchase. Successful business leaders understand that the sales process is the lifeblood of the company. Without an efficient, productive means of making sales, […]

How to grow referrals with Strategic Alliances – And 5 features that make for fruitful partners

March 8, 2016

In the world of marketing, Word of Mouth has great, well … word of mouth. According to WOMMA (the Word of Mouth Marketing Association), word of mouth marketing is considered to be more effective than traditional marketing by 64% of marketers. You may be thinking they would say that, wouldn’t they, but their survey is […]

The 4 Rs of getting more business from your existing customer base

February 16, 2016

Marketing is about getting more business – and that includes getting more value out of your existing customer base – through delivering them multiple times the value you get. If all you did was chase new clients, then you would be regularly losing the ones you already have, which means you would need to be […]

How winning an award can get your business noticed, PLUS 5 ways to reap your prize’s full potential

February 11, 2016

One of the time-tested ways of establishing yourself as a standard in your industry is to win an award. An industry-recognised award serves as an independent endorsement of your company’s quality. And more importantly it’s an evaluation that potential customers are more likely to trust, than any marketing material you can produce. We know that social […]