Turn your website browsers into buyers with personalised product recommendations

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; (more…)

How to out-think your business competition

Brainstorming, problem solving & decision making

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. (more…)

Customer Power: Real world examples of why it’s crucial to get the balance right

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. (more…)

5 steps to kick-starting growth in your business

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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5 Ways data analytics can help you generate more leads and get the most out of your marketing spend

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; (more…)

Become a better negotiator – 5 steps to asking powerful questions

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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The 7 Key elements of an effective direct mail campaign

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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Advertising online – The 3 most popular options for small businesses

PPC advert positions

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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The “Magic 10” Tips on networking – how the experts build great networks

“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. (more…)

7 clever copywriting secrets for business owners

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 (more…)

The 5 unbreakable rules of free publicity

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

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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5 killer phrases that all negotiators should know

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. (more…)

How email can deepen customer relationships and transform online conversions

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. (more…)

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

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. (more…)

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

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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The sales strategy secrets that drive sustainable, profitable sales

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

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

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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Why skilled negotiators don’t look to ‘win’ a negotiation but are driven by ‘profit maximisation’

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. (more…)

How to use Facebook to grow your small business

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 in their feeds, you can reach a massive audience of consumers – at a time when they are relaxed and receptive to marketing messages.

If you are a start-up or small businesses, the low-cost and high-potential make Facebook a very attractive option to promote and grow your venture, but how do you do this effectively? (more…)

Write the right book to help promote your business

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 business – be it recruitment, or marketing, or cash flow – requires a strong strategy. You need to know what you want to achieve before you can plan how that goal will be attained.

Publishing a book to support the growth of your business is no different. It may seem a bit more showbizzy – and it does involve a large amount of creativity – but it must never be a vanity project; there needs to be a valid business case for it. (more…)

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

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 book can help your start-up to take off;
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Why the humble telephone is still an important business tool in a digital world

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 more often and more quickly than online leads, ultimately making you more money. Not only that, but tracking your phone calls can give you useful data which you can use to improve the efficiency of your promotional efforts.
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Boiler Room Basics: The 7 must-do’s every service business needs to get right

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 author of, “5 Star Service – How to deliver exceptional customer service”, to reveal the key issues you need to get right, before you can start wowing your customers; (more…)

7 Mistakes you could be making with your website

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 consider when managing or monitoring their website.

In fact, there are a number of common mistakes which SMEs often make, but which are easy enough to overcome.

Here are the seven errors we most often see with websites designed for startups and small businesses.
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Sealing the deal – How to close a sale

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

When sales targets are high and prospects are scarce, it’s essential for salespeople to hone their skills and fine tune their approach for a successful close.

There are many organisational challenges facing salespeople, but most of these can be whittled down to three main root causes;

  1. A lack of sales staff motivation,
  2. Failure to maximise sales capability, and
  3. Inefficient management of the sales pipeline.

To help you close that sought-after sale, here are three key areas to focus on; (more…)

6 ways to protect your brand and grow your business reputation in a social world

It’s fair to say that the digital landscape has given us all a platform to air every thought that warrants sharing, and also many that don’t!

Unfortunately for businesses, customers will often bypass customer services and immediately go online to air their views. While channels such as Facebook allow you to brush criticism under the carpet (not advised, angry customers will usually respond), reviews on sites such as Trip Advisor and Google can blemish your name on a longer-term basis.

While your customers will always have scope to poorly portray your business online, there are some simple ways to monitor and respond to criticism in a proactive and timely manner.

Here are 6 things you can do to protect your brand and enhance your business reputation on social media; (more…)

How to turn your customers into your best sales force

If you’re starting a business then chances are money is tight – so anything you can do to increase sales without spending a fortune is worth looking at.

It’s easy to imagine that you need to employ a crack sales team – but the truth is, if you’ve made one sale, then you already have one sales person – that customer. And more often than not, the best people to sell your products and services are your customers.

Customers have already gained benefit from you and because they are impartial, they can provide legitimate social proof. So how do you get your customers selling for you? (more…)

Choosing a PR agency for your small business

Selecting the right public relations agency is an important decision for any business, but is particularly crucial for a small organisation with a limited budget. Chris Hewitt, CEO of Berkeley PR gives businesses some food for thought when it comes choosing an agency.
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6 techniques to help you overcome cold calling anxiety

If you’re launching a new business, or looking to grow your existing business, then the chances are you’ll need to do some cold calling at some stage.

However, despite its importance within their business and the doors it can open, many business owners shy away from cold calling and find it extremely stressful.  To help you overcome such cold-calling anxieties, here are six techniques that can help you become a more confident, far less stressed, and much more effective cold caller:

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