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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Jumping on the Bandwagon

The news changes minute by minute, but some stories stick around for longer. The hype surrounding Pokemon Go, Brangelina’s break up and the move of the Great British Bake Off to Channel 4 are all recent examples of ‘light’ stories (i.e. not major catastrophes or tragedies) which have captured the public interest for longer than the average news story.

So, should a small business jump on news bandwagons to obtain a little publicity for themselves? Many do, sometimes more successfully than others, and small businesses can too, providing they take consideration of the following three ‘rules’ for success:

  1. It must be quick: to jump on a bandwagon effectively, your leap must be almost immediate. Leave it more than 24-36 hours and you will have missed the boat, and then risk looking foolish and making comment on something that others have already lost interest in.
  1. It must be light-hearted – nobody likes to see a cruel advert or comment about a news story, and a little wit goes a long way for encouraging engagement, especially on social media.
  1. It must be relevant – your business should have a link to the news story you are commenting on to give your publicity context and make sense to the viewer. Without it, you may risk appearing as though you are simply using the news for publicity’s sake, which could turn potential and existing customers off. The key here is to keep your message simple, so that the relevance isn’t lost to the viewer.

A good example of all three of these points working well for publicity is Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA’s recent “Brad is Single” advert in a newspaper, promoting cheap flights to Los Angeles in reference to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s recent marriage break up. Simple, relevant, timely (it appeared soon after the separation was announced) and light-hearted, I have seen it shared several times on social media already, maximising its audience to those who may not usually consider Norwegian for flights and promoting its services in a positive manner.

For small businesses, this style of marketing is probably best achieved via social media or email marketing due to its immediacy in reaching the intended audience. Providing the three rules above are followed, there is no reason why small businesses cannot make use of news stories to give them an angle for short-term marketing and can help to make a marketing message memorable. So go ahead and jump on that bandwagon!

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.

People power and social media campaigns

I just read a pretty amazing statistic… do you know how many people covered their profile picture on Facebook with a rainbow flag after the US Supreme Court ruled favourably on gay marriage back in June?

26 million!

Can you believe that? I find it pretty amazing. Of course, the photo editing tool that Facebook launched in order to do it means that there was almost zero effort required to do it, and of course it had no bearing on the ruling itself. But 26 million people standing up and saying they support something is undeniably impressive.

Rainbow filter, Facebook
Rainbow filter, Facebook

Other recent social media campaigns include the outrage over the killing of Cecil the Lion, last year’s ice bucket challenge, and (my hero) Stephen Sutton’s bucket list. Prior to social media, the main way to galvanise a huge number of people in a short amount of time was through major fundraising efforts (at huge initial cost, using mainstream mediums) such as Comic Relief and Children in Need. Now, all that is needed is a social media account, an injection of passion, and the content or a topic that will stand out.

So to those 26 million people who changed their profile pictures, well done. Maybe, just maybe, you helped to show that social attitudes are changing, and we’re becoming more willing to be counted in what we agree (or disagree) with.

Social Media for a Small Business – Help! Where Do I Start?

Facebook. Twitter. LinkedIn. Pinterest. Instagram. Vine. Tinder. Tumblr. YouTube. Flickr. Google+. Vimeo. Foursquare. MySpace.

social_media_logos

Ok, maybe not MySpace anymore. However, this list of the first few social media platforms that came to my mind shows just how many platforms currently are available for businesses to try. Does that mean you should have a presence on all of them?

Of course not – for a small business, it just wouldn’t be possible. Don’t forget that whilst many of these platforms are free to use, your time isn’t – and that is where the cost of social media can often be seen.

So which one (or more) should you choose? The first step is to look at who is using the platforms – is your intended audience there? For example, users of Vine (a sharing platform for 6-second videos) tend to be younger so it would be pointless setting up on there if your audience are ‘silver surfers’ (broadly speaking, of course).

This analysis will form the first part of a social media plan for your business. Having a plan is essential to make sure that you know where you want to be, what you want to say and how you intend to say it online – especially if a third party (such as a staff member or external consultant) will be posting online on behalf of your business. Give that person a clear brief, as mistakes can lead to potentially costly repercussions for your business reputation.

It is fine to use only one platform. It is also fine to use several. The key is making sure that you have appealing and appropriate content to share with those who engage with your business on your chosen platform(s). Without this, you will struggle to reach or interest followers, which will see your business drown in the noise of today’s social media.

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.