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!!


UTILISING LINKEDIN FOR BUSINESS

January 24, 2012

ARE YOU ON LINKEDIN AND DO YOU UTILISE IT FOR YOUR BUSINESS

LinkedIn is a business related social network site founded in December 2002 and now has 120 million registered users and this is growing at a rate of two new members per second. It is a wealth of knowledge, just ask a question and there are hundreds of experts out there willing to help and answer your question, engage with these people and interact in their discussions to help your business grow.

If you are not on LinkedIn or if you haven’t created a company page on the site here are some of the facts why you should:

  •  120 million registered users
  • Growing at a rate of two users per second
  • Over 200 countries are represented
  • Over half of the users are outside the USA
  • More than 2 million companies have a company page

LinkedIn is a great asset to your business and can save you time and money and be far more effective than advertising here are some reasons why:

  •  Compelling and relevant content will grab the attention of potential customers/business partners and increase brand visibility
  • You can respond almost instantly to industry developments and become heard in your field
  • It can be much cheaper and far more effective than traditional advertising, recruitment and promotional activities
  • LinkedIn content can indirectly boost links to website content by appearing in universal search results, improving search traffic and online sales
  • It gives access to a wealth of experienced professionals when recruiting
  • It can help you gather valuable business and market place intelligence

If you are just starting out on LinkedIn or starting a new company page then the priority has to be completing your profile as fully as possible, networking is all about relationships. The more people and businesses know about you, the closer that relationship. Once you have completed your profile then look for connections start with people you have previously worked with and then once you are connected, search their connections and see who else you know and can connect with. You should also explore the Groups section and join groups that have an affiliation with your area of business expertise, study the daily bulletins for these groups and see where you can add benefit to the dialogue, this allows you to reach like minded professionals, become seen as an expert in your field and also increase your knowledge. This will lead to recommendations and help build new relationships. The more interaction on LinkedIn the more respect you will gain and it will assist your business to grow and direct traffic to your website. In reverse you should ensure that you post the LinkedIn logo on a prominent place on your website and link it to your company or personal LinkedIn page.

With so many minds able to network together, crowd sourcing and open innovation allow people to work together on a massive scale. By involving your online contact network in your company, you can benefit from:

  • The wisdom and creativity of people outside your own workforce
  • The increased likelihood of people picking up on and developing innovative ideas   that might otherwise go unrecognised
  • The outside perspective of customers – and potential customers – who may see issues and opportunities you’re unaware of
  • Increased customer loyalty and brand advocacy that comes from having a say in your company’s offer
  • Lower costs when developing new products or enhancements, and more certain  market success for them

One of the other great things about LinkedIn is its interaction with other social media sites, so if you tweet on Twitter it will simultaneously appear on your LinkedIn profile. This helps to reinforce your name as regular status updates keeps your name at the forefront of people’s minds.

If you need to know more about LinkedIn there are social media experts in your area that can provide you with this information, search them out on the web.

 

                                                                    

 

 


WHY AND HOW TO USE TWITTER IN YOUR BUSINESS

January 16, 2012

Twitter is a social networking service that keeps your followers informed of what’s new in succinct to the point messages of 140 characters maximum. These messages can also be linked to your LinkedIn and Facebook profiles so they appear simultaneously on these networks.

It is a proven fact that news can travel fast around the globe once posted on Twitter. Twitter has been responsible for breaking many news stories. For instance Iran, when public protested about the 2009 elections the BBC and CNN were forced to get their updates from Twitter. It can be utilised for similar affect with regard to your business, you can keep people informed of latest offers, new products, latest recipes and your customers will utilise it to broadcast an excellent or poor experience.

Why should you utilise this media phenomenon, here are some facts:-

  • Twitter has over 300 million registered users
  • Approximately 450,000 new users register each day
  • There are 200 million tweets sent each day
  • 40% of active users utilise their phone to tweet
  • The fastest growing age group of users is 35 – 45 year olds

Twitter can help your business in a number of ways:-

  • It creates awareness of your business
  • It can be utilised to develop customer loyalty
  • It drives traffic to your website
  • It provides the opportunity for marketing campaigns to reach a far wider audience
  • Promotes products and services
  • Networks with customers and potential customers
  • Monitor trends, competitors and new products
  • Promotes events
  • Recruitment

Twitter allows you to maintain regular contact with your customers and interact with them and you have the opportunity to manage your reputation by quickly responding to an adverse comment and turning this round.

If you are not utilising Twitter, take a look because your competitors are and they are taking advantage so seize the opportunity and become part of this. It also provides you the opportunity to see what your competitors are doing.

If you are not on Twitter visit www.twitter.com and sign up. You have 15 characters for your user id, so ensure this reflects your business and allows your customers to find you. Ensure you add a photograph to your profile to personalise your account and your website address to drive traffic. Once you have set up your account then find people to follow and read the bio of those who follow you and decide if to follow them. Use Twitter to share your knowledge, ask questions, promote other businesses and interact. Once you start to tweet set aside time to regularly update your followers, it doesn’t always have to be about business, share all useful information. The best time to grab people’s attention is to tweet in the afternoon and more specifically mid afternoon on a Friday.

A useful tool in Twitter is hash tags #, which is equivalent of the Meta tags utilised on your website, which are picked up by the search engine spiders and push your website to the top of the search lists. If you want your message to be picked up by someone interested in what you are saying add hash tag # prior to the key word, i.e. #special offer.

Once you have signed up add your Twitter ID to email signature, business cards and website, download Twitter application to your phone and email people to tell them you are on Twitter.

If you need to know more about Twitter there are social media experts in your area that can provide you with this information, search them out on the web.


HOW TO IMPLEMENT CHANGE IN YOUR BUSINESS

January 11, 2012

Your business is growing which means that you are going to have to implement changes; this can be a real challenge for your business skills.

 HOW DO WE IMPLEMENT CHANGE

Our last blog looked at planning to move your business to the next stage of development this will mean a number of changes, which will affect everyone in your team and we all know everyone’s reaction to change, it takes people out of their comfort zone and they fear the worst. Therefore the process has to be carefully managed so not to disrupt existing business.

In order for the process to succeed one of the key things is to have total buy in from your management team as they are going to have to focus their team during the restructuring The key processes to follow are:

  • Lead by example, let your whole team know that you are fully behind the changes
  • Ensure that you provide adequate resource to the change, such as sufficient training in any new processes
  • Set goals and targets for the change that are achievable and measurable
  • Incentivise key employees
  • Thoroughly monitor the process and embrace any changes that may need to happen to the initial plans

Dependant on the change that you are proposing you may want to appoint a project team to oversee the process. Appointing a project team can ensure that the process receives the correct level of focus with the appropriate skills applied.

Good project management should:

  • Prevent the project/process failing
  • Ensure a minimum level of quality and that results deliver requirements and expectations
  • Reduce the burden on other team members allowing them to go about their normal work and increase efficiency both on the project and within the business
  • Improve the communication process with a single point of contact running the overall project
  • Ensure consistent of the message to the team, suppliers and customers
  • Ensure focus on  costs, timeframes and resources to budget
  • Ensure smooth and efficient integration into the business

All projects need to have a detailed proposal for achieving all aspects of the objectives and goals of the plan. The project plan will detail the what, when, how and by whom and this template will enable the process to be successfully managed. Also a SWOT analysis is a great strategic tool to evaluate the project.

The project team will need a project manager who will be the focal point of the process and will drive progress and mange the process. A good project manager will be:

  • A confident individual able to communicate with and build relationships both internally and externally
  • Flexible with the ability to balance and prioritise conflicting project constraints such as time, quality and cost
  • Highly organised, self motivated and diligent when it comes to time management and paperwork

I hope that this information has been useful, but if you require assistance in helping your business grow please contact us, we can assist with:

  • Business Strategy
  • Financial and Systems Monitoring
  • SWOT Analysis
  • Industry Trend Analysis
  • Evaluation of Options

DO YOU REGULARLY REVIEW YOUR BUSINESS PERFORMANCE

January 9, 2012

We need to be constantly reflecting on how our business is performing and review our strategy and business plan and measure the success of our marketing. Are we making the most of market opportunities, are we moving in a different direction to we originally planned, is the business under control, all questions we need to be constantly asking of our business as an executive team. We might decide the business is ready to move to the next stage of development, if so what resources do we need to progress:-

 

  • Do we need people with different skills
  • Do we need to invest in more assets
  • Do we have sufficient finances to develop
  • Are the facilities the right ones for developing
  • Do we need to look to professional advisers to assess if we are ready

Let’s evaluate our business and ask ourselves some key questions such as what makes our products/services successful, how could they improve, and should we look at new/complementary products and services.

We should start by asking ourselves some key questions.

  • Are we providing/delivering products and services that match our customer’s  needs
  • Which products/services are successful, delivering  high percentage of sales and high profit margins
  • If products are not delivering, why? Is it price, marketing, service
  • Do you frequently review your key areas of costs, overheads and assets
  • Is there a better way of doing something
  • Have we negotiated the best deal with our suppliers

As a senior team in finding the answers to the above will give you the basis to improve sales and profitability.

When reviewing the finances of the business, consideration should be given to the following:

  • The cashflow, the in and out of money through the business needs to be reviewed regularly and updated.
  • Working capital has the business situation changed, you may need to resource additional funds and for this the business plan need to be up to date.
  • Have you reviewed your cost base recently to ensure that you are selling at the correct price?
  • Have you looked at borrowings and explored cheaper finance offers
  • If you are planning growth for your business do you need to adjust finances to enable this to happen?

Having conducted these business reviews you have a clear understanding where the Company is now. In today’s dynamic age it is essential that you thoroughly revisit and challenge the whole business process and it may be necessary to bring in outside assistance from a consultant, which can prove more economical than developing internal talent, they can help you identify how to change your management structure and an experienced non executive director can provide essential impartial advice.

I hope that this information has been useful, but if you require assistance in helping your business grow please contact us.


%d bloggers like this: