5 Ways to Boost Your Marketing Without Leaving Your Desk

Too busy to leave the office this week, but don’t want to lose momentum in your marketing efforts? Try these five quick ways to keep your marketing moving…

  1. Update your social media.

It doesn’t have to be complicated – let people know what you’re up to, what you’re looking forward to, or join in with a popular and/or relevant hashtag. Add a quick image, and you’ve got a simple way of being seen by your customers and contacts.

  1. Ask a customer for a testimonial.

Send a quick email asking a customer for a testimonial which you can then use on literature, your website, social media, etc. It is also a great way of striking up a conversation with someone you may be seeking further business from.

  1. Write an article.

A few paragraphs for your company blog or website are quick and easy to do, especially if you have a topic in mind or question that can be answered. Within thirty minutes, you can continue to position yourself as an expert in your field.

  1. Ask a customer or contact out for lunch, or book to attend a networking event.

Arrange for time away from your desk – get out and get seen!

  1. Recognise an employee.

If you have employees, send them a quick message or speak to them about something positive they’re doing. Recognising what they are doing well is a great and very fast morale booster, which will give them a quick lift in getting you more business and working more effectively.

Grab your coffee and see what you can get done before you’ve finished drinking it!

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Marketing in the time of Brexit

No one really knows what the next few weeks and months are going to be like, since the outcome of the UK’s EU referendum. It is likely that there will be some economic instability, and so many small businesses are likely to be nervous about spending money.

Unfortunately, most business owners think that cutting their marketing spend is the best thing to do when being careful about their outgoings. However, this is the wrong move – without your marketing, where will your customers come from to continue bringing in profit? The correct course of action is to make your marketing smarter, and therefore more cost effective.

Here are 5 tips to help improve your marketing activity in leaner times:

  1. Do a marketing audit.

What activities are you doing now, and what is working? Focus on those activities giving you the best returns and cut those which are performing poorly. Ignore those who lean on you to take particular risks and get rid of activities which you might always have done out of loyalty or repetition, but that aren’t bringing you new work or customers.

  1. Develop a digital strategy.

Other than your time, using social media is free and can bring great returns when used correctly. Maximise use of the platforms your customers are using, put out great content and interact with users to get the best results.

  1. Make the most of your existing customer relationships.

Ever heard of the rule that 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers? Identify who your strongest customers are, talk to them, find out how you can help them and deliver beyond expectation. Not only will you keep their business, they’ll recommend you to others.

  1. Work with others.

You don’t have to go it alone – if you’re looking to host an event, seminar or conference, speak to similar businesses (obviously, not direct competitors) and see if they’d like to join you. Half the cost, double the target audience.

  1. Make use of the media.

Speak to your local newspaper and other publications (such as community or parish magazines, for example) and see if you can contribute press releases and/or editorial. Write about stories relevant to your business or news items surrounding your business and its place in the community. Something lighthearted yet topical would help to deflect from current post-referendum doom and gloom!

So before you cut your budget, see if these steps can help you to instead make your marketing more effective.

Taking the fearless approach to your marketing

Recently, I keep reading about ‘fearless marketing’, where individuals and brands take more risks and try out ideas which are less ordinary. The story of Peter Bronsman is well worth a read in this area, and there are various brands claiming to be taking fear-free approaches to their promotional campaigns.

 

However, when your marketing budget is small and needs to return definite results, how can you try something deemed risky? You either take the plunge and try it out anyway, or stick to the safer path and chance not being seen above the crowd.

To take the fearless approach, there are three things to consider:

  1. The first is whether the idea you have will connect with customers. Do you know who your customers are and what they want? If your idea links in with their needs, then you reduce the risk, whilst giving them something new to engage with – again, cutting above your competitors.
  1. Is it likely that customers will find your idea too ‘off the wall’, offensive or irrelevant? If your idea falls under any of these headings, it stops being innovative and instead becomes a sure fire way of turning your customers off… and you may not get them back.
  1. Remember that you don’t need to go huge. Whilst jumping out of a plane with your company logo tattooed on your chest might seem like a good idea at the time, it is fleeting, and fearless marketing could be as simple as looking at different ways of reaching your existing audience – where do they go, what do they do? You don’t even need to spend a lot of money, just put yourself in their shoes and consider what might make you take notice if you were them. You might surprise yourself.

Taking some time out to really consider your audience is a good bet in any small business owners’ book, and doing it regularly will help you to take a fearless path through knowing your audience and how to engage with them.

Five Tips To Make 2016 ‘Your Year’

How has growth been for your business in 2015? Even if you’ve done well, I’m sure you’ll agree that there is always room for improvement, and that you’re hoping for further growth in the coming months.

hands-night-festival-new-year-s-eve web

If this is the case, here are five quick tips to help gain new clients and continue expanding your business in 2016:

  1. Work to a plan

If you’ve never used a Marketing Plan before to help direct your business’ marketing activity, 2016 is the year to start. Look at the factors affecting you from external sources (such as your competitors, local and national trends, etc), your business’ strengths and weaknesses, and the marketing actions which have been successful (or unsuccessful) for you this year, and turn them into a plan to help you to achieve your goals.

  1. Try something new

Maybe you’ve always promoted your business via networking. Or having a stand at business exhibitions. Or by advertising in the local newspaper. If these bring in new customers to your business, great – but add to it, and try something new. Sponsor a local junior sports team, take some customers out to dinner, or invite a target out to coffee. Take a chance and see if taking a different approach pays off.

  1. Get Online

You don’t have to be away from your desk to effectively promote yourself. Whilst putting a name to a face and maintaining relations is important, you can raise profile initially using social media. You don’t have to be on every social media channel – choose the one or two most relevant to your business. If you produce products which are very visual (such as cakes, art, clothing, etc), then Instagram and Facebook will probably be most effective. For professional services or less ‘pretty’ products, try Twitter or LinkedIn. Have a love of live streaming? Get on Periscope. And so on… there’s a channel for every audience.

  1. Offer a ‘mini’ version of your product or service

Your potential customers may not be ready to part with their hard-earned cash to buy your product or service, whatever it may be. So try offering them a smaller or stripped down version – and see if it helps to tempt them into future investment with you.

  1. Be consistent

Marketing your business isn’t straightforward – and as a small business, it is easy to feel that as you have so much to do, the easiest thing to drop is your marketing. It pays off to be consistent – it is no good waiting until you have no new work coming in to start trying to find it, and dropping your marketing again when busy. You can manage your marketing much easier if it comes in steady waves than in huge peaks and troughs. A consistent approach to promoting your business will help you to raise profile in the long term, and it is likely that you’ll end up spending more if you make grand gestures on irregular occasions.

How Small Businesses Can Lead in Women’s Sports Marketing

This morning I read an article about how marketers and brands are undervaluing women’s sport, with particular emphasis on the current FIFA Women’s World Cup (Marketing Week). The article reported that, according to FIFA, the competition will reach 30 million female football players and 336 million fans worldwide. In the UK, every match is being shown on the BBC.

summer-playing-grass-sportSo, why haven’t I really heard anything about it? Do I have my head under a rock, or are marketers really missing a trick in attracting what should be its core audience – women. Other than a small number of major brands, there appears to be very little promotion surrounding the Women’s World Cup. Despite the recent success of Sport England’s ‘This Girl Can’ campaign in raising awareness of women’s sport and general fitness, it can still be seen that there is little uptake in marketing to support women’s sports – just take a look at the listings of your sports channels and see how many women’s sports are being televised. This doesn’t give much incentive to the big brands to get involved.

So could small businesses take the lead in this?

For any small business looking to target women, the sponsorship of a local women’s sports team or advertising at the location where the activity is done would be a surefire way of catching their eye – whilst also supporting that activity at a grassroots level. Specific marketing activities linking to your business to support local teams or larger competitions may also be likely to generate PR for your business, all of which is mutually beneficial for both sport and business.

The golden rule for such targeted marketing is not to be contrite. Make sure your offer is worthwhile to the audience to really get them on board, and encourage their loyalty.

If more small businesses lead the way in supporting women’s sport, then the larger brands may follow as interest increases. This provides small business with a rare opportunity to be leaders in a lesser supported area, and so should be an activity which is both supported and celebrated.

Should events be in my marketing mix?

I was recently asked whether holding events should be in a marketing plan. Well, much like so many other marketing activities, it depends on what you want to achieve and who you want to target!

Before you start planning any event, there are two things you need – an intended audience and a clear business purpose.

1. Your audience – Who do you want to attract, and would the event appeal to them? For example, you wouldn’t run an event in a theme park if you were targeting the over-70’s! Make sure what you want to do is appropriate to your audience.

2. Your business purpose – what do you want to achieve by holding the event? Every decision you make regarding the event should support this aim. So, do you want to generate new business, promote a product or service, build customer loyalty, or something else? It is essential to answer this question so that your plans don’t spiral off in a direction you hadn’t intended.

Once these two questions have been answered, you can start planning your event. If you cannot clearly answer these two points, then the answer to the original question was no, you don’t need to have an event in your marketing plan!

Can my small business use Snapchat for promotions?

I spotted a great feature recently by David Moth on Econsultancy on eight brands currently using Snapchat as part of their social media marketing strategies. For anyone not aware, Snapchat is an image based social media platform, where users can send images and overlaid text for short periods of time before they disappear. For marketers, the idea is that it appeals to the increasingly short attention span held by consumers.

The examples are excellent, and well worth a read. Find the feature here.

Snapchat - oloughlinmarketing.com

So should small businesses include Snapchat in their social media marketing strategies? Absolutely, providing that their audience matches up with Snapchat’s core users and they have the means to undertake a strategy effectively.

Who are Snapchat’s core users?

Research by the Global Web Index and published by We Are Social, showed that over half of Snapchat’s users are aged 16-24, showing the prominence of the platform among a younger audience. This means that businesses with audiences of teens and young adults are likely to do well using Snapchat as a medium, as much of this age group are now moving to faster means of consumption in their social media, and turning their backs on ‘older’ platforms such as Facebook.

How would I use Snapchat?

You will need to set up an account, and choose a username. The best way to then obtain followers will be to appeal to your existing audiences to ask them to follow your brand on Snapchat – use email marketing and add the information to your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.

It is also extremely important to consider what you want to achieve – do you want to offer a sneak preview of a product or service? Or maybe you want to offer a short-term special offer to your Snapchat audience, to push them into making a purchase? You need to be clear in your offering, and use simple to read text and images. Don’t forget that your audience have a short time to read your message before it disappears, so you need it to be instantly understandable, rather than ambiguous (unless of course, this is what your aim is!).

Your ‘snaps’ can be viewed once by your followers, for up to 10 seconds. They then are deleted and disappear. If you want your snap to be seen for a little longer (for example, in order for an offer to be effective), you can set them to be re-viewed an unlimited number of times using the ‘My Story’ setting.

Finally, in order to ensure that your audience reacts to your snaps, make sure you include a call to action. What do you want them to do? Do you want them to take up an offer within 48 hours, or visit your website? Whatever you want them to do, make it clear and make it easy for them to carry out.

Snapchat is a growing form of communication, and is one of the lesser used platforms for business at present. Small businesses can (and should, where appropriate) make the most of this opportunity with strong, well-focused campaigns, and take advantage of the direct contact the platform provides to audiences.