DO YOU BLOG FOR THE BENEFIT OF YOUR BUSINESS

February 22, 2012

Blogging is a powerful part of a business’s marketing and customer communication programme. It allows you to communicate better with stakeholders of all types fromcustomers to suppliers and from partners to employees.

A blog can be particularly beneficial in.

  •  Differentiating your business, products and services
  • Attracting prospects and developing new business opportunities
  • Promoting your business through the media and online public relations
  • Acting as a central element of your search engine marketing
  • Researching and developing new markets, products or niches
  • Developing communication channels to your market
  • It provides the opportunity for you to be seen as an expert in your field, enhancing your business reputation
  • Helping to enhance and build your visibility and brand
  • Improving internal communication

From the above you can see that blogging is an effective business tool and also is very cost effective as well.

A typical blog combines text, images and links to other blogs or websites. The modern blog evolved from the online diary, where people keep a running account of their lives. There are approximately 200 million public blogs in existence and it can be another free means of marketing your business.

How do you get started? There are a number of blogging platforms that will host your blogging site for free or you can opt to pay. I opted for the free options and utilise Blogger.com, part of the Google Empire and WordPress.com. Both of these sites provide you with a selection of free templates and your own address, i.e. http://www.davidholt1.wordpress.com. There is no requirement for any technical expertise, no web designer required, to write a blog, your pages are added through a Windows type interface. All of your blog posts have their own individual address for ever so that you can refer and direct people to them in articles, emails, newsletters etc.

Once you have decided on which blog platform to host your blogs it is very simple, just enter your details where it states create an account and then you can start blogging by adding words, videos and pictures. When you have finished your blog, you can opt for allowing people to comment or not, preview your work and then when you are ready hit publish and it is live. With hosted blog platforms they go onto domains that already have good page rankings, so your blog gets picked up and ranked very quickly by the search engines. Your blog should not be one long sales pitch, your aim should be to focus on helping others, so if you are a catering establishment provide your readers with new recipes and if you sell wine provide your readers information on the different types of grapes and backgrounds to a wine of the month. When writing your blog, you should remember your first audience is the search engines, so mention your subject as often as possible in the first paragraph as this will help your search engine rankings. You should be personal in your blog as blogging is informal by nature, so there is no requirement for a poetic master piece, but be aware that the biggest fear of business blogging is someone will judge your business on a misspelt word or grammatical error.

 


DO YOU USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO PROMOTE YOUR BUSINESS?

February 10, 2012

DO YOU USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO PROMOTE YOUR BUSINESS?

If the answer is no I am sure your competitors are. What do I mean by social media, well as opposed to reading a newspaper or listening to views, with social media you are able to interact with the website and interact with other visitors to the site, it is a two way street that allows you to communicate with your customers.

Did you know that:-

  • twitter averages more than 40 million tweets per day, MySpace has more than 250 million subscribers and on Facebook there are over 600 million searches and 30 billion page views a month.

The use of social media might not appeal to all of us, that’s not what matters it’s what our customers want and it is far more effective than direct advertising and it can be self generating if it creates interest and causes comments from your followers.

So what are the most effective, it really depends which market you want to target, generally if you want to aim at a younger market then Facebook is the best, if you want to target a business market then LinkedIn would be a better option. You are able to create company pages on both options and you can post regular news, offers, job opportunities and company background and all at no cost. There are many companies that take the opportunity very seriously and pay more focus to developing these pages than their websites and employ one of the many experts in Social Media Marketing, take a look at Chessington World of Adventure on Facebook as an example of what I mean.

In person, or even in one-on-one e-mail, there is a practical limit to how many people you can meaningfully connect with in a given amount of time. But in an online community or weblog, you can carry on public conversations, potentially reaching hundreds or even thousands of people with the same effort as a single e-mail. For conversations that do not need to be confidential, such as a discussion of market trends or of companies and products in a particular market segment, a public discussion will increase visibility for your company and provide additional assistance in identifying your potential partners and connecting with them. Your entire network becomes a part-time business development staff for your company.

Networking online allows you to reach more people with less effort; to more quickly identify and connect with the right people; and to reduce travel time and expense, both local and long-distance. You do not need to attend business networking meetings to extend your database it’s just a click away so start using these resources now.


UTILISING FACEBOOK FOR BUSINESS

February 3, 2012

Facebook is the giant of social media providing you with access to over 400 million potential customers, which is growing every day. It is utilised to phenomenal success by all the large brands, the most successful of which is Starbucks who have more than 5.5 million fans. All the major brands see it as a major opportunity to interact with customers, but it can also work for smaller organisations, you just need to buy into the ideals and that means embracing engagement and interaction. Do not expect immediate overnight success, it will take time, so start small with asking family and friends to sign up to your page.

How do we get started? Facebook is a simple free product for promoting your business, start by creating a page. The first step is to choose a page title, it needs to be memorable and reflect your business, so use your business name and make it easy for your customers to find you. When you have created your page, you now need to personalise it to your business:

Start by adding a photo which reflects your business, it may be a logo, sign from outside your business or a photo of business frontage.

  • Location- make sure customers know where your business is
  • Apps – Your page can be enhanced with customised apps that will allow you to share your menu, You Tube Clips, photos and details of forthcoming events
  • Wall posts – Tell your potential and existing customers what is happening in your business, special offers, new items and events, this allows your friends to comment and share with their friends providing the potential to increase your customer base

When you add your profile picture, you need to be aware that this will be utilised as the icon that appears next to all your posts. Therefore you need to ensure that when your profile picture is reduced it reflects good visual branding, to do this hover your mouse over profile picture and click on “change picture” that appears in right hand corner of the image, then click edit thumbnail, click and drag image until it looks good then click save. See example posting from my business page below:

 This simple to prepare delicious healthy dish can be served on its own or with mixed salad leaves or lightly cooked vegetables. Ingredients 2 Salmon fillets approx 120g each 100g Couscous Juice of half a lemon Zest of half a lemon, shredded small clove of……

The next step is to start talking to your customers; Facebook users want interaction and attention.  You need to post to your page regular:

  • Photos from events
  • Details about new products, forthcoming events
  • Utilise it as free way to conduct market research, you can poll your customers and gauge interaction before implementing a new idea
  • Offer benefits and discounts exclusively to Facebook followers
  • Allow time each day to check your page so that you can respond to any comments

Having implemented all of the above you will begin to see the benefits, remember it will not be an immediate overnight success, it will take time, but it will be rewarding. We now need to look at how we can expand the reach of our page:

  • Tell your customers who come into your business to “Like us on Facebook” by displaying signs
  • Promote your page by adding a link to all your business stationery, flyers, business cards and email signature
  • You can advertise on Facebook and this can be marketed directly to Facebook users in your close proximity
  • Encourage your Facebook followers to tell their friends about your business

If you would like to see how some business utilise Facebook check out the pages for Alton Towers and McDonalds, but also check out your local competitors and see what they are doing.

 WHAT ADVERTISING CAN GIVE YOU ACCESS TO ALL THESE

 POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS FOR FREE!!


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