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Sales, Marketing and PR for small businesses

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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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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 any business starting out with social media, no matter how big or small your budget.
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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 to say?

With negotiating being such a key skill in starting and running your own successful business, Simon Horton, author of The Leader’s Guide to Negotiation, reveals 5 phrases that you can use to get any negotiation back on track. Continue…

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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 be successful, you will need to look at search engine optimisation, or SEO as it’s commonly referred to.

With SEO becoming more complex and specialised, many small businesses look to outsource the work to an agency. But with so many practitioners and firms out there offering SEO services it can be tricky to find the reputable providers.

To help you sort the wheat from the chaff, here are the 5 questions you should ask an SEO agency before you think about hiring them. You should also read: When to get SEO for your website, and when not to
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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; and finally to the stage where they can make recommendations of what we might like to try.

Such a role is now expected, and even demanded, of all the brands consumers interact with. The days of a one-size-fits-all approach to customer communications are long gone. Today, brands need to forge personal relationships, similar to that which people enjoy with their favourite local store. Continue…

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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 Logic4training, to give an insight into how online referral sites and social media can work for the trades. Continue…

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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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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 month, it’s also an invaluable marketing tool, capable of reaching the kind of audiences that TV ads sandwiched between slabs of prime time soap can only dream of.

Of, course, if it were as simple as plastering the web with marketing videos and waiting for your inbox to fill with sales enquiries, everyone would be enjoying the fruits of their YouTube labours.

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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, even brilliant ideas will fail, so it’s vital for every business owner to find the sales process that work bests for their company.

The quicker you can do this, the better your chances of growing your business, and the more likely you are to succeed. With so much at stake, William Buist reveals the sales strategy secrets that will help you make sustainable sales.

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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 backed up by research from Nielsen that revealed 84% of us trust recommendations from people we know; and research from Market Share that found marketing impact can be increased by up to 54% by social voice (i.e. online & offline word of mouth).

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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 constantly building. This is hard work.

There is an important model that will help you understand what to do in terms of sales and marketing for your existing customers, and it is one that every business owner should know and understand. Continue…

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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 proof is one of the most influential factors in a consumer’s decision making. In a survey by Zendesk, 88% of participants were influenced by an online customer service review and consumer reviews are nearly 12 times more trusted than descriptions that come from manufacturers.

Awards are like the ultimate review or testimonial. Usually, they come through from a trusted, independent authority with the expertise to give a well-informed judgement on your business, so your customers and the wider marketplace are going to see that as proof that your business can be trusted.

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Negotiating is a fundamental part of how business gets done and takes place millions of times a day around the world. But that doesn’t stop many business owners from avoiding it.

If you can take control of yourself, your values and prejudices, your need for fairness, and your ego, you can start achieving the best possible outcomes in your negotiations. However, the first challenge to overcome is changing the way you think about negotiations and yourself. Continue…

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When you are looking for ways to promote your new start-up or small business you will, without doubt, soon hear the words, “content marketing”.

There’s a lot of buzz about content marketing at the moment, but what does it actually mean and how can small business owners use content to help grow their business?

This guide answers those questions, and also offers useful, practical advice for businesses that are interested in developing a content marketing strategy of their own. Continue…

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How to use Facebook to grow your small business

February 1, 2016

Facebook is the second biggest site in the world, with us Brits being some of its most prolific users. 59% of UK residents use Social Media on a daily basis; which means that Facebook presents some great marketing opportunities for businesses. If you can get your users to share information about your products and services […]

Write the right book to help promote your business

January 25, 2016

Writing a book can be an extremely useful tool to help you promote your business or new start-up. Being a book author, immediately gives you kudos and extra authority, but only if your book is produced properly. In most areas of business, winging it is rarely (if ever) a good idea. Each aspect of your […]

5 common branding mistakes to avoid making with your small business

January 12, 2016

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.

6 Easy steps to get better results from your small business website

December 30, 2015

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.

Five ways publishing a book can help increase your start-up profits

December 29, 2015

Many entrepreneurs are aware of the benefits of becoming a published author. But only a very small percentage of business owners ever get around to writing a book. This is a big lost opportunity for those who don’t put pen to paper, according to Sue Richardson, who outlines five ways that writing and publishing a […]

Why the humble telephone is still an important business tool in a digital world

December 17, 2015

Many small business owners now focus a lot of time and effort on their website and on how their customers are interacting with them online. We live in an increasingly digital world, so this is understandable, but the humble telephone call can still be a very valuable business tool. Calls coming into your business convert […]

When to get SEO for your website, and when not to

December 10, 2015

SEO has become an integral part of online marketing. If you want your business to be seen online, the general consensus is that SEO is absolutely essential. Committing to a high quality SEO campaign can take up a lot of time and make demands on a startup’s budget that not everyone can meet. But seeking […]

How to get your press release noticed

December 5, 2015

Press releases are a good way of getting some publicity for your brand, but how do you get your press release out there in the first place?

Boiler Room Basics: The 7 must-do’s every service business needs to get right

November 27, 2015

For every service business, ensuring your customers have a great experience is paramount. Whether you’re a small start-up cafe or a global hotel chain, customer satisfaction needs to be a top priority if you are to succeed. To help you put in place the foundations for a thriving service business, we asked Michael Heppell, the […]

7 Mistakes you could be making with your website

November 12, 2015

It’s estimated that almost one in every three small businesses maintain their own website, and with that comes a whole host of potential challenges to overcome. Alongside the usual cost of building a new website, getting the right designer and managing your hosting prices, there are other factors which many small business owners do not […]