Making the most of the holidays

Taking some time off over Christmas and New Year? Good for you, you deserve it.

But as small business owners, we never really get time off, do we? There’s always an email to be responded to or paperwork to be completed, regardless of the date.

So with a few days still to go until the big day, what can you do to make the most of your precious time off?

– Set up a tweet, Facebook status or email in advance to wish your followers and customers a happy Christmas on the 25th using software such as Hootsuite, TweetDeck or MailChimp (or others!).

– If you haven’t already, plan your January marketing now. Tease your customers with sales or special offers and get everything in place to try and avoid the expected January slump.

– No matter how busy you are, make sure you take at least a couple of days off and recharge your batteries. It will help you to get back on track and feel energised to move onwards and upwards in 2015.

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Merry Christmas from O’Loughlin Marketing!

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Your 2015 Marketing Army

You’re a marketing army of one, so what will you do in 2015 to march your business forward? Here are some quick hints to think about when starting your marketing planning…

2015 calendar

  • Your audience – who were your customers in 2014? Are you trying to attract the same audience in 2015, or will it change?
  • Your time – which of your marketing activities made the best use of your time in 2014, and will this be the same in 2015?
  • Your methods – do you use tried and tested marketing methods, and how have these worked for you this year? For example, does word of mouth marketing get your best results, or do you get lots of responses from email marketing? How can you make the most of these methods in 2015?
  • Your current marketing – have you reviewed your current marketing strategy and worked out what does or doesn’t work? This should be one of the first things you consider when starting to plan your 2015 marketing.
  • Your campaigns – don’t forget that it is always ok to ask for help from fellow professionals!

When planning for the coming year, your plans should always include marketing. If you intend to make 2015 your biggest year in business to date, a good marketing strategy is essential.

Small Business Saturday

Today marks Small Business Saturday in the UK. This grassroots campaign aims to “support, inspire and promote small businesses”, and can be seen up and down the country on high streets today.

It is campaigns such as this that all small businesses should get behind to help give themselves a sales and profile boost (especially before Christmas) and to show their standing with other local businesses. At this time of year in particular, sales are dominated by larger businesses with big marketing budgets, so a national campaign which is open to all small businesses helps to shift that focus, even if just on a temporary basis.

So, if you haven’t been involved this year – there’s still time to use social media to show your support and promote your business.

Further information can be found on the Small Business Saturday website, at http://www.smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com

Preparing for 2015

At this time of year, publications and experts start looking back at the year’s marketing campaigns and analysing their successes and failures. Media Week has a great analysis of the Top 10 Marketing Moments from this year, which is well worth a read for anyone involved in marketing their business.

What is clear from the article is the dominance of social media in current marketing. The most effective campaigns from the year have all had Twitter at their core, with the use of hashtags showing no sign of waning.

Whilst many Twitter campaigns are most successful when they appeal on a large scale (for businesses, usually with big marketing budgets), small businesses should take lessons from these campaigns and adapt them for their own use in 2015.

Three Quick Tips for Using Twitter in 2015

1. Look and listen – what are other businesses both locally and in your industry doing? What are your customers responding to? Investigate and then spend some time working out a strategy which works best both for you and your business.

2. What exists already for you to use? Realistically, it is not likely that a hashtag you use to promote your business will become popular globally! So look for popular local hashtags (i.e. #bedfordshirehour in my region) and join in on using them to extend the reach of your business to an already existent audience.

3. Don’t focus purely on sales. Nobody goes on Twitter to be sold to – you should adopt an approach which combines some sales with content which works for you and your business. This might be based on personality (see Innocent – @innocentdrinks – for one of the best examples of this) or providing a rounded view of your industry with articles and opinions from other sources. Either way, interesting content is key for keeping people engaged.

As also shown in the article, getting involved in charitable causes will also help to promote and show the human side of your business, so look out for an upcoming post on the best ways to do this.