“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…)
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…)
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…)
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.
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:
Ever heard the saying: jack of all trades, master of none? That saying has never been more true than when it comes to marketing your small business.
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?
Apple, Netflix, Nike. Leaders in very different industries. They didn’t get there by doing what everyone else was doing.
Apple adds crafted design to desirable functionality and makes it fashionable. Netflix goes beyond being a digital LoveFilm and creates high quality, polished, original programming that goes toe-to-toe with Game of Thrones and Mad Men at the Emmys. Nike’s sponsorship deals are with athletes even your gran has heard of.
However doing something unique in an industry comes with risks: (more…)
Good public relations are essential for any business, but especially so, for small and start-up businesses. If you can persuade editors to run a story about your business, it’s worth a dozen adverts or mailshots. And there’s also the huge added benefit of it not costing you anything!
However, writing a press release isn’t as simple as dashing off a letter to the editor of your local paper. For it to work, your release needs to be carefully crafted and put together.
Here we look at how you should structure your press releases to grab editors’ attention and maximise your chances of getting that elusive, but highly-prized free press coverage.
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.
No matter what business problem you have to solve right now, there’s a powerful way of finding the answer quickly and efficiently… and it’s called networking.
That’s a word that makes many people’s hearts beat faster. The idea of getting out to events and meeting a bunch of strangers is not something that seems natural!
Yet networking is a powerful marketing and business tool.
Any business owner is familiar with the challenge of attracting new clients and protecting relationships with existing ones.
Fierce competition within many industries gives clients a wide choice of suppliers to choose from, and to make things even more difficult, some clients feel the need to change vendors periodically to avoid the common phenomenon of supplier complacency.
If your ambition is to do long-term business with a new or existing client you will need ensure that you engage as a serious partner: Well prepared, well informed, and far from complacent.
Good communication is often essential for success on any project. In fact, lack of communication is probably the single most common problem affecting any website development.
But communicating your desires and goals to a designer for a new website, or with regards to any amendments to your current site, can often be a challenging task. You’re focused on what works for your business, and designers are focused on creating something that looks great in their eyes.
It’s understandable that problems can and do develop.
Follow these 9 tips however, and you’ll be well on your way to being understood by your web development company, and will hopefully be able to enjoy good communication and a pain free process!
So, once you’ve found a networking event, how do you get the most out of it? There are many networking “experts” who can teach you the finer points of generating business from a room of people. But the general rules seem to be very simple;
If you’ve just started your own business, you might be making the mistake of overestimating the scope of publicity you wish to achieve.
Chances are, if you haven’t got a unique business idea that’s going to revolutionise the world, then you’re probably wasting valuable time dealing with national media outlets, especially when you can reap the rewards and credibility of local media instead.
Although it might seem like you are downplaying opportunities when targeting your local area, what needs to be remembered is you are only competing for coverage with other local businesses which ultimately presents a far greater chance of your story succeeding.
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;