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 cheaper alternatives could mean you soon find yourself facing a Google penalty (the worst of which is your website being complete removed from their index), which can put your entire online presence in jeopardy.
The good news is that SEO need not always be a lengthy commitment and if you have some in-house capacity, it is possible to take on a large portion of the work yourself.
This in-depth guide explains what you can expect from a SEO campaign, and will help you determine if you can do some of the work yourself or whether you’ll be better off outsourcing everything from the start. (more…)
As a business owner you are your own best marketing tool. Presenting in public not only highlights your business, it also establishes your credibility, makes your listeners trust you (and people prefer to do business with those they trust) and generates leads.
But, even if you have a stunning presentation with fabulous visuals, you can still fail to connect if you are speaking to the wrong audience.
Advance planning will help you tailor your presentation to the audience who needs and wants to hear it; and they will be more receptive if you address their concerns and challenges and offer them a solution.
It’s never too soon to start planning. As soon as you are invited to speak at an event, ask yourself these 5 questions: (more…)
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. (more…)
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: (more…)
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? (more…)
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…)
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? (more…)
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-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…)
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.
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.
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…)
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:
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):
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.
“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…)
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…)
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:
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.
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…)
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…)
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…)
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.
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.
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).
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.
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…)
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…)
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…)
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. (more…)
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;
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.
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?
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…)
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.
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;
- A lack of sales staff motivation,
- Failure to maximise sales capability, and
- Inefficient management of the sales pipeline.
To help you close that sought-after sale, here are three key areas to focus on; (more…)