Dogs on Show at Bingley Hall

dogs on show at bingley hall

dogs on show at bingley hall

We had a trip to Bingley Hall this weekend as spectators at the Stafford District Canine Society dog show.

It was our furst time at an event like this and wow what a day. There were six show rings where all manner of different dogs paraded themselves after being primped and preened for days by their humans.

The pugs were in ring 6 and I have to say all looked fabulous. Apparently I’m classed as a toy dog, well I’m a real dog I can tell you! The Frenchie’s not looking too shabby either strutted their furry stuff in ring five and are classed as utility dogs. Dobermans and Rottweilers are also classed as utility dogs so George was feeling particularly hench.

It was all in the preparation. Having chats with fellow four legged friends and their humans it seems they spend days preparing, bathing, trimming, brushing and pampering. They also attend some strange sounding place called ring classes which helps you to walk on a lead properly and stand like a champion. Some dogs we spoke to say they have been in training and preparing from 8 weeks old.

Well I`ve decided that rolling in the mud and other unmentionable smelly stuff is much more fun although George believes with his pedigree that a Crufts trophy should surely fall at his paws.

You can’t get anywhere without preparation and planning, so if you need a paw with planning and preparing your marketing pick up the dog and bone or bark us an email and we will get the humans to have a chat with you.

What your website says about your business; the good & bad

What does your website say about your business?

What does your website say about your business?

Your website says a lot about your business. Not just the words, but the look, feel, and usability can influence your audience’s perception of your business.

It’s an online representation of your business and will often be the first experience your target audience have with your business.

That means it has the huge task of appealing to your audience, representing your business / products / services correctly, and encouraging people to convert.

Let’s take a look at what your website says about your business. The good and bad, and what you can do to fix the bad.

 

The bad

Out-of-date

Web design trends change quickly, so it’s easy to spot a website which hasn’t had a major update in the past few years.

Keeping your website copy updated regularly is one thing. But it will probably be quite hard for users to tell when the last time your copy was updated. However, it’s much easier for them to take a look at the design of your website and figure out when it was last updated.

You might think the design of your website isn’t important. But it can have a big impact on someone’s perception of your business. That can be the difference between them becoming a customer or going elsewhere.

Outdated websites might suggest that your business, products, and service are outdated. That perhaps you can’t offer them the best solution to their problem. Even if you actually could offer than a better product than any of your competitors.

Additionally, out of date websites can be associated with suspicious websites. The last thing you want is someone taking a look at your website and thinking you’re going to take their money and never send them what they ordered.

While it’s true that not all suspicious websites look out of date, an out of date website is something people will often see and say “nope”, and hit the back button.

Humans are very visual, and we do judge things and make decisions based on appearances.

How to fix it: If it’s been a few years since your website had a redesign, there’s no time like the present!

 

It’s confusing to use

We’ve all come to expect websites that are simple to use and allow us to find exactly what we’re looking for in as few clicks as possible.

The aim of your website is to get people to convert. But if you’re providing them with a confusing user journey then it’s much harder for them to do that.

A confusing website can put people off instantly. It suggests that you aren’t really interested in providing your target audience with the best experience possible.

There are plenty of websites that do provide a great experience. So someone won’t have to look far to find a competitor whose website is easier to use.

How to fix it: review your website and look at how you can simplify the user experience to make things as easy as possible.

 

You haven’t got a responsive website

Responsive websites have been a hot topic over the past year and there’s a good reason for that.

With smartphones being the most popular device to access the internet on in the UK, it’s imperative that your website is responsive.

If it isn’t, you’re providing a big portion of your audience with a poor user experience. And your search rankings in mobile search results may suffer as a result. If someone is ready to buy and they can’t buy because they’re using their phone and it’s hard work on your website, you’ve just lost a sale.

An unresponsive website suggests to your audience that you are out of date. You don’t think your website is all that important. And that you aren’t focused on providing your audience with the best experience possible. And that’s before you think about any future purchases they may have made. But won’t because their perception is that you don’t care about your audience as much as another company.

How to fix it: update your website to a responsive one to make it easy for users to use no matter what device they’re using.

 

Hard to get in touch with

One of the things people may look for before making a purchase is your customer service details. None of us want to waste money when we make a purchase. We like to know that if there’s an issue we can get in touch with someone easily to get our problem solved.

If your contact details are hard to find, that can set alarm bells off.

“Why are they making their contact details so hard to find? Don’t they want people to get in touch with them? Why don’t they want people to get in touch with them? If there’s a problem, I’m going to struggle to get it resolved quickly. I think I’ll just go somewhere else.” You’ve probably had a similar thought process yourself when you come across a website that makes it hard for you to find contact details.

No matter how good your product is. How many glowing reviews you have. Or how competitive your price is. Hard to find contact details can send a potential customer running.

How to fix it: Create a contact page which is easy to find, and consider putting a telephone number or email address in the header of your website.

 

No reviews or testimonials

People trust reviews more than they trust your marketing material. Looking at reviews before purchasing has become a big part of the buying process. According to Econsultancy, 61% of shoppers read reviews online before purchasing.

Reviews are especially important if someone has never heard of your company before. Or doesn’t know anyone who’s used your company before.

No one wants to be ripped off, and trust is a big thing when it comes to making a purchase decision. A lack of impartial reviews can put someone off and convince them to buy from a competitor who has reviews.

It’s not hard to get reviews or testimonials from your customers. They can make a huge difference to your audience’s perception of your business.

How to fix it: Get in touch with customers a few days after their product should have arrived. Ask them to provide you with a short review or testimonial.

 

Little product or service information

The internet has made us pretty lazy consumers. Which means that we want all the information to be available to us without us needing to actually speak to you. It doesn’t matter how good your customer service is, most people don’t want to call or email you unless they absolutely have to.

If your product information is lacking, then we’ll just find someone else who gives us all of that information up front because it’s easier than getting in touch with you.

A lack of product information can suggest that you don’t really care about your audience. That you don’t want to help them find the solution to your product. Why else would you leave them asking so many questions about the product?

If you are offering a service then your audience may not be able to buy directly on your website. So make sure you give them as much information as you can up front. This gives them chance to think about what questions they might need to ask you when they’re ready to speak to you and arrange the next step.

How to fix it: Make a list of all of the things your audience would want to know about a product / service and make sure all product descriptions / pages contain that information.

Yes, it can be time-consuming. It requires more effort than copying and pasting the manufacturer’s description. But it’s worth it in the long run.

It may also be helpful to review your competitors and look at what information they are providing. Is there anything missing? What else could they have included? Make sure you are giving your target audience a better experience than your competitors.

 

A poor brand

While not restricted to your website, a poor brand can really harm the perception of your business.

As we mentioned earlier, your website may be the first time someone sees your business. Which means that both your website and your brand need to appeal to your audience.

If your brand looks outdated, doesn’t appeal to your audience, or just looks plain bad, it can put customers off.

A poor brand can suggest that you are outdated, untrustworthy, and offer a bad service. Additionally, it can also position you incorrectly and leave your audience to believe that you are too cheap or too expensive for them.

A strong brand on the other hand, will communicate to your target audience. That you are, and offer, exactly what they are looking for.

How to fix it: If your brand is poor, it’s time to look at rebranding. Because it’s likely that your current brand is doing you more harm than good.

 

 

The good

Helpful content

Providing helpful content for free on your website is a good way to impress your target audience and show them that you want to help them find the solution to their problem, and get the most out of it.

There are thousands of different types of useful content you could provide, but here are a few ideas to get your creativity flowing:

  • Tutorials on how to do certain things – you might even do beginner, intermediate, and advanced tutorials
  • Recipes
  • Style trends – you could blog about how to wear a certain popular garment, or talk about interior design trends, or popular hairstyles – of course this will depend on your sector
  • Other uses for your product / service
  • Stories about how your customers have used your product / service and how it helped them

You don’t just have to write blog posts either, there are many ways you can share that information with your audience, including: videos, infographics, podcasts, slideshows, and more.

 

Lots of photos

As we mentioned earlier, we are heavily influenced by imagery. Providing your audience with lots of photos, and maybe even a video, of your product from multiple angles, in different colours, and in use can convince someone to hit the ‘buy’ button.

When we can’t go into a shop to see and hold something, we rely on images and videos to;

  • Help us get a feel for the product
  • Look at the material it’s made from
  • See the size of it, where things are located
  • Begin to understand how it is used
  • See the exact colours – it’s ok telling us something comes in blue, red, and green, but exactly what shade of blue, red, and green?

If you’re providing your audience with multiple images of products then you’re doing them a huge favour and making the consideration stage very easy for them.

 

An appealing tone of voice

Your tone of voice and the words you use can grab a customer’s attention and convince them that you’re the best company for them. Or your tone of voice can put them off by coming across the wrong way.

The exact tone of voice and the words you need to use will depend on your business, what you’re selling and your target audience.

If your audience are teenage boys, your tone of voice won’t be the same as a business whose target audience are Mums.

By using a tone of voice that resonates with your audience you’re suggesting that you know who your audience are and what they like.

We like buying from brands who we feel ‘get us’ and share the same values as us, and this can help you gain loyal customers who don’t even consider going somewhere else when they need something that you sell.

 

Trustworthy

There are many aspects of your website and your brand which your audience will use to decide whether or not you’re trustworthy. However, if you’re an ecommerce website there are specific things you can do to show your audience that your website is safe.

Online fraud is always at the back of consumer’s minds whenever they purchase online, and they want to be sure that they’re ordering from a website that will protect their personal information.

If you have SSL certificates and trust badges on your website, such as Symantec, Norton, McAffee, and TRUSTe, it suggests that you are committed to protecting your customer’s data. These badges give users faith that your website is secure and that you are doing your best to keep their information safe.

 

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it covers the key things that your website is saying about your business and your products.

Your website is not something that you just do once every few years and forget about it. To provide your target audience with the best experience, you should be regularly reviewing it and looking at what you can do to provide a better experience and be more helpful.

 

If you do require any help or advice with your website, why not speak to the experts? All of our team are friendly, efficient, and have a passion for marketing, so what do you have to lose? Call us today on 01543 495752.

If you want to read more from our website series of blogs, just click here to see what other resources are available.

How to avoid wasting money on marketing your small business

how to avoid wasting money on marketing your small business

how to avoid wasting money on marketing your small business

We are often asked how to identify which marketing activities will provide the best ROI, and how to stop wasting money on marketing that doesn’t work.

In a small business, any purchase is a big purchase, so committing to marketing campaigns can be a huge decision. We’ve put together 6 tips on ensuring you get the best value for your money.

 

Know your market

This may seem obvious, but when you are busy trying to build business it can easy to overlook the time you should have spent on getting to understand your market. By completing these 3 simple steps, you will put yourself in a much better position to understand what marketing will help you as a company.

Step 1: You have to start by knowing yourself. Take the time to define your aims, your values and your ethic. You will not truly know your competitors, until you know what you are trying to achieve.

Step 2: Find your competition. Use local directories and web searches to discover who is around you, and what they are doing. Though you may not consider Mr Joe Bloggs Freelancer or Big Corp Corporation a competitor, as they are not the same size as you. If they are offering any of the same services as you, you need to understand their business, and why customers may pick them over you.

Step 3. Know your own audience. To grow your audience, you need to understand the customers you already have. Unless you are in a very niche business, most companies cannot follow a ‘one approach fits all’ method. You need to define your ‘buying personas’ the people who buy from you, why they buy, how they buy, when they buy. Once you know these traits, you will be able to appeal directly to other people with these traits.

Once you have defined these 3 steps you should have a good idea of how you should approach your buying personas, how your competitors are approaching their audience, and why you are different. These will all help to then define your activities.

 

Be up front about budget

Talking about money is always awkward, especially if you are just growing and the money just isn’t there yet.

Even so, you may find yourself swept away by a sweet talking sales rep into taking on the fanciest direct mail campaign you have ever seen. Where every recipient receives their promotional letter with a free mug with your company logo on, delivered by the earliest post so they can use the mug for their morning cuppa etc but if you don’t have the budget, then don’t commit to it just yet.

There is always an element of risk in marketing, as we humans can be quite fickle, and we can change what we like to react to as quickly as the weather. So almost bankrupting yourself for one campaign is usually not worth it, even if it does sound pretty amazing.

If you want to do the big campaigns, prove yourself through the little campaigns first. Use what you have put together from knowing your market, to try some ideas out. Spend a little of your budget to gain knowledge of what works, and hopefully make a profit. You will be in a much better place to start your first big campaign.

 

Dedicate time

It can be a common misconception, as you’ve seen above, that if you throw a large amount of money at a marketing activity or campaign, you are guaranteed good results. This is just not the case.

Marketing works on the psychology of people, and what they will react well too. If you just throw anything out there you cannot predict what the results will be, so taking the time to work through your marketing messages is essential.

Let’s take the example above. You’ve been pitched to about this brilliant direct mail campaign; everyone’s going to get mugs, everyone’s going to have their morning cuppa in them, or take them to work, and your company logo is going to be everywhere, and you will be swarmed with calls. But what if your buying persona is actual fitness focused, does not drink caffeine, and goes out for a morning run before work? The phone may be a little quieter.

If you know your buying personas, you know what type of person they are. You know if they prefer to be contacted by letter, email or phone.

Take the time to consider what you are trying to say, and how your audience will best take that in. Throwing money at marketing is not a substitute for time. Sit down with your colleague, team or agency, and it will produce better results and give you more return in the long run.

 

Be persistent

This is something we say quite frequently, but it is true.

If you have completed the above, you should have a good idea of when your campaign should start paying off. However, it can sometimes take a little longer to work, especially if you are looking at something involving social media.

Not everything is instant. This doesn’t mean the campaign hasn’t worked.

If you follow the below step, you should know when is time to move on to the next campaign. But if you still aren’t sure, wait another day, and look at the results again.

 

Monitor the results of your efforts

You will never know the outcome of your expenditure unless you actually monitor what you are doing.

There are many ways to measure, and it doesn’t necessarily matter which you use, just as long as you are measuring. Once you start, you will learn the best ways or software to monitor, but you just have to get started.

By doing the above you should know what to expect, whether that’s an influx of calls, meetings or actual sales. You can then monitor to conversions, and see how much money you actually made off one campaign. If you don’t do this, you will never truly know if you are wasting your budget or not.

 

Make the most of free marketing consultations which most agencies offer

The majority are no obligation and can pinpoint where your efforts should go for your specific company. If you have done the first few tips, you should be able to get some advice quite quickly. The agency will discuss ideas with you on what they think is best and you can go from there.

And remember, though you can tackle some things on your own, if you are looking at a campaign bigger than what you have done before, or are just not sure what messages to send in your marketing, maybe it’s best to pass it to the professionals.

 

If you want to take advantage of our free marketing consultation, call one of our friendly team now on 01543 495752, and you can have a cuppa, cuddle with the dogs and maybe even a slice of cake.

How to stop WordPress blog posts missing their schedule

How to stop Wordpress blog posts missing schedule

How to stop WordPress blog posts missing schedule

WordPress has a handy feature that allows you to schedule blog posts. But what do you do when your blog posts start missing their schedule? 

The scheduling feature is something we, and our clients, use regularly because it allows you to make sure posts go out at a time when you may be busy. When blog posts begin missing their schedule it can be frustrating because you may not have time to check and publish it until a few hours later.

Let’s take a look at why WordPress posts may miss their schedule and how you can fix this.

 

Why do blog posts sometimes miss their schedule in WordPress?

To understand this you need to know a little bit about cron jobs. A cron job is something that runs on your website’s server and is a timer to make sure that things happen when they should do.

WordPress doesn’t use a normal cron job because it doesn’t always have access to a server. So it uses a virtual cron called WP-Cron. This gets loaded every time a page on your website or blog is loaded. When a page is loaded, the WP-Cron will run and check to see if something needs doing. Such as a blog post needs publishing.

The problem here is that since WP-Cron only runs when a page is loaded. Blog posts can miss their schedules if a page isn’t loaded around the time it’s due to be published.

For example: if you publish a blog post to go live at 9am but no one visits your website until 11am, it won’t be published until 11am.

There are other reasons why a blog post may miss its schedule. Such as bugs in WordPress, conflicts with plugins, issues with the server or database, or the wrong time zone being selected in the settings.

 

What can I do to stop WordPress posts missing their schedule?

There are three things that can be done to prevent blog posts from missing their schedule.

The first thing you should do is check the time is correct in your website’s / blog’s settings.

It may be that your website is set up in the wrong time zone. You’re expecting to see a blog post go live at 9am but WordPress is using a time zone a few hours behind the zone you’re in.

WordPress time zone settingsTo check the time in your WordPress settings, go to ‘Settings’ and click ‘General’. Halfway down the page, you will see ‘Time zone’ which lets you choose which time zone you’re in.

Don’t worry if you live in a country that uses daylight saving. WordPress will automatically update when the clocks go back or forward.

If WordPress is using the right time zone, you then have two options. Both will do the same job, but it really depends on your resources and skills:

  • Install a free plugin
  • Set up a real cron

 

Free plugins

This is the easiest option of the two. There are plenty of free plugins available for preventing blog posts from missing their schedule.

They work by checking your blog every few minutes and when they spot a post which has missed schedule, they’ll publish it.

These plugins are easy enough to install and don’t require any technical know-how. Which means you can install them and have them working in a matter of minutes.

 

Set up a real WordPress cron

As we mentioned at the top of the post, WordPress doesn’t use a real cron job. However, you can set up a real cron job and disable WP-cron, though disabling it isn’t necessary.

Setting up a cron will require access to your server control panel. While it’s not too difficult to do you may not feel comfortable doing it. If that’s the case, get in touch with your web developer who will be able to do it for you.

Church Themes offer a good walkthrough and explanation about what to do. Again, speak to your web developer if you’re unsure. Depending on your hosting company and the level of support you get, they may also be able to do this for you.

How the Internet has Changed Marketing

How the internet has changed marketing

It’s been 25 years since CERN made the Word Wide Web technology available to everyone royalty free. The internet has come a long way since then, now allowing us to look at photos of other people’s food, watch animals do silly things, keep up with your friends and family, and order things from the comfort of the sofa.

By changing the way people buy, the internet has changed marketing.

As a result, businesses have had to change the way they market themselves and sell to take advantage of the latest technology and consumers shopping habits.

Make your marketing work more for you and your business. Talk to us and let’s see where we can help

Those that failed to do that went out of business, such as HMV (though they have since returned), Jessops, Comet, and Woolworths, who all disappeared from the British high street in the past few years.

Let’s take a more detailed look at how the internet has changed marketing.

How the internet has changed marketing with Websites

Anyone can set up a website now, which has given businesses an easy way to reach their target audience and explain how their products and services can solve their problems.

When someone recognises a want or need, their search for the solution will often begin online.

In 2014, research found that 81% of shoppers conduct online research before making a purchase.

If your company hasn’t got a website, your target audience are unlikely to find out. As consumers we’re quite lazy and want businesses to provide us with all the information for us to peruse at our leisure, rather than us having to go through the yellow pages, or walk up and down the high street trying to find someone who sells what we’re looking for.

In fact, we don’t even want to work that hard to find information when we’re searching for it on the internet from the comfort of our home.

Reviews

The research process often involves reading or watching reviews from professionals and fellow consumers to help us evaluate which product is best for us. A study in 2014 found that 61% of people read product reviews before making a purchase.

There are multiple places we can find reviews for products we’re searching for, including:

  • Websites that sell the product / service – both your actual website, and third-party sites you may sell through like Amazon or Etsy
  • Impartial review sites like TripAdvisor, or Yell
  • Social media
  • Blogs
  • YouTube
  • Search Engines

All of these things allow us to figure out which product will meet our need, and we will probably spend more time watching reviews than actually looking at the product on the seller’s website.

On top of all of this, businesses now need to make sure that they have a responsive website to fit the demands of consumers. In the UK, the smartphone is the most popular device people use to access the internet. Those businesses who don’t keep up and have a responsive website could find themselves falling behind.

E-commerce

Without the internet you couldn’t: order presents online, buy a DVD cheaper than it’s sold for in physical stores, buy a book and begin reading it in seconds, or order takeaway food without having to speak to someone on the other end of the phone.

The internet has allowed business owners to escape the risk and expensive costs of owning a physical shop. A website is cheaper in comparison, and allows businesses to reach more people.

Physical stores are geographically restricted, but on the internet you can reach and sell to people all over the globe. On top of that, you can sell or receive enquiries 24/7.

For business owners, a website is an absolute no brainer. Why wouldn’t you want to be able to receive orders outside of business owners and not be restricted by your location?

Business can reach more people, and customers can shop without leaving the house – everyone’s a winner.

How the internet has changed marketing using advertising

The first advertising banner went live in 1994, and Google AdWords was born in 2000, allowing businesses to advertise and reach their target audience based on the keywords they searched for and the websites they visited.

Online advertising isn’t limited to search engines and websites anymore, adverts are now found on:

  • Social networks
  • In apps
  • Music streaming services, like Spotify
  • On devices – Amazon’s Kindle Fire shows adverts on the lock screen unless you pay to remove them

Businesses can now target and retarget their audience with adverts based on their demographics, websites they’ve visited, things they’ve searched for, and more.

Social media

Social media provides businesses with yet another way to reach, target, and communicate with their audience.

As well as allowing businesses to communicate with their audience, it’s another way of encouraging your audience to visit your website.

Businesses can also use social media as a customer service method, meaning they can quickly address and resolve issues without the customer having to send an email or make a phone call. As well as helping individual customers with their issue, it can also make the company look good if they handle it particularly well.

Social commerce even allows people to buy a product without even visiting the businesses website.

Email marketing

While email was certainly around long before the internet, email marketing as we know it today wouldn’t exist without the internet. Without it, how would businesses collect contact information?

Email marketing has evolved to allow businesses to do a lot, such as:

  • Letting customers know about special offers
  • Introducing new products and services
  • Making personalised recommendations based on previous purchases or searches
  • Share tips to get more out of a product and service
  • Encourage customers to leave reviews and refer others
  • Invite people to events

… and it works!

Analytics

One of the best things about using the internet for marketing is that you can nearly always track your activities and ask yourself ‘so what?’ This means businesses can easily identify what activities are working well, which ones aren’t, which helps them to learn more about their audience and market to them better.

The internet has changed marketing, the way businesses sell, and the way people buy hugely, and it’s still continuing to do so. Successful businesses will be ones who keep up with the way that consumers are buying.

It’s interesting to think about how this blog post might read in another 20 years time? How do you think the internet may change marketing in the future?

You can find more useful posts about marketing in our blogs. 

If you have any marketing needs for your business, why not contact our friendly team to see how we could help you? We offer no obligation initial meetings, so we can have a real talk about your aims, and how we may be able to get you there. 

9 ways to market your business on a budget

9 ways to market your business on a budget

9 ways to market your business on a budget

A question we are asked time and time again is how a small business with a small budget can make the most out of their marketing.

Yes, it’s true that the bigger your marketing budget, the better your marketing can be. Take John Lewis for example, they spent £7 million on just their Christmas campaign, but it worked. (And I bet you still talk about Monty the Penguin today!)

If, like the majority of people, you don’t happen to have £7 million spare for your marketing budget, we have some great tips to get your business booming on a budget. Every business has to start somewhere!

There are a number of “free” marketing activities you can do that can help you to create big opportunities for your business. We use the word “free” loosely here, because it will cost you your time and effort, and your time is valuable.

 

Social Media

I guess you knew this one was coming; social Media is a brilliant tool that allows you to connect with your target audience directly, and you can do it for free!

Don’t believe though that this means instant results, and you must remember you won’t gain a lead for every post you put up. You have to work hard at it for leads to blossom, but it is proven to work.

Social media tips:

  • Find out which social networks your target audience use
  • Read up about best practice
  • Test when is the best time to post
  • Analyse what your audience react well too

If you are struggling, but feel this a marketing activity that will benefit your business, there are many courses around to improve your social media skills for business, though there will be a cost to those.

Want to know more on social media? We recommend 14 common social media mistakes and what to do instead as further reading.

 

Blogging

Blogging is a huge part of inbound marketing that will help to attract your target audience. But it is also a good way of keeping existing customers coming back to your website.

As well as giving you the opportunity to showcase your knowledge and share advice, it gives prospects a chance to learn more about your business and your services / products.

Blogging tip: focus on creating high quality content – think, the best content someone could wish to read around a particular topic.

Once again, you can find courses and sessions that will teach you how to blog, or you can even get someone to write them for you. Of course, there is a cost implication to that.

 

Testimonials and Case studies

The words of others speak wonders; studies have found that 88% of people are influenced by online customer service reviews when making buying decisions.

Testimonials teamed with evidence of the work you have done with them is some of the best advertising you can have. Take the time to write case studies on the projects you have worked on, and don’t be afraid to ask for testimonials from your current customers.

Not sure how to ask for your reviews and testimonials? We recommend Why customer reviews are important and how to get them as further reading

 

Your elevator pitch

When it comes to small businesses, people can be the best marketing tools your company has. By taking the time to perfect an elevator pitch (or two) you give yourself the best change to market to people when opportunities present themselves, and you have nothing else to hand.

 

Content Marketing

This is another method you may have heard a lot about. In fact, 98% of B2B marketers say content marketing is core to their marketing strategy.

For those of you who haven’t heard of it, content marketing is using content (blogs, ebooks, guides, recipes, videos, etc) to provide your target audience with something useful and helpful.

As we mentioned above, you should be creating high quality content that provides the reader with some value. This will help them move through the buyers’ cycle and get them one step closer to buying.

There are a number of methods for making your content more SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) friendly, so if you are considering this route, I would advise committing to a little more research into SEO. Once again, options are available for courses or someone to do this on your behalf, but this would incur costs.

Want to be the best at content marketing? We would recommend How to create the best, most useful, content in search results as further reading

 

Strategic alliances

Creating strategic alliances with non-competitive businesses can work really well for a smaller business.

Find local companies that compliment your services, and you can refer customers between yourselves, create offers for going between your businesses, and even guest blog for each other once you have worked together for a while.

Make sure your find a business that not only do you like, but who believe in providing an excellent service as much as you do, and whose work you trust. It will look bad if you refer your clients to a business who lets them down.

 

Great Customer Service

Nothing can ruin a company quicker than bad customer service. According to a study in 2014 58% of consumers will never use a company again after a negative experience.

And just as good reviews will spread to bring you new customers, bad reviews will spread like wildfire, taking twice as many customers with them.

Interested? We would recommend LEGO’s excellent example of customer service as further reading

 

Free consultations

Many businesses will offer free consultations to see how they can help potential customers, but the mistake they make is not promoting that particularly well.

If you offer free consultations, promote this and let your target audience know. Seeing that you offer a consultation, or a review, where they can find out more about your offering can encourage more people to get in touch.

 

Positivity and Persistence

Regardless of which activity you decide to use, remain positive, and stick with it!

Marketing is not all instant results, some activities take a little longer to produce results.

Good marketing will bring you consistent results over a long period of time; don’t lose faith if things don’t pay off as quickly as you think. However, always make sure you measure your marketing efforts and their results so you can judge when it is perhaps time to move on to the next idea.

If you would like to take advantage of our free marketing consultation to see how marketing could gain you more customers, improve your business position or create more opportunities for you to sell, speak to one of the team on 01543 495752.

Hubspot CRM: A Review

Hubspot CRM a review

Hubspot CRM a review

 

Following on from our blog on 10 things to think about when considering a CRM, I thought it only fair to share some insight on the CRM we use, and why we think it is a pretty nifty tool.

Over the years I have had experience in a few CRM’s. Some were a horrible chore. Others just didn’t capture anything useful. And some filled me with absolute dread to have to use them. I never pictured a day where I would enjoy using a CRM system, or one where I would want to review it for that matter! But I have to say, I am rather impressed with HubSpot’s CRM system, so why not pass that joy on?

Below are the main points I would normally look at when considering a CRM: Installation, data upload, features, usability and support.

Initial Installation

Initial installation was simple. It did not require me to sit on the phone to the company. Or for them to take over my computer so I lost time at work. It was relatively quick and guided me through the process easily. The data on the free version of the CRM is open to all users listed. Though you can still assign tasks and contacts to each individual user. When the primary user sets up the account, you input the other users emails in. Which as well as adding them to the system, sends them a nice little welcome email and introductory video on what on earth is going on. Which I felt was a nice touch.

 

Hubspot deals

 

Uploading data

This will work differently for some of you. As we only needed some primary clients on first, I manually inputted them into the system. To ensure we had all the data we needed. However, when it came to inputting bigger contact lists further down the line, the import function on the contacts page is simple to use. It takes no time at all. And if there are errors, they are sent back to you in a clear report. So you can set them right almost instantly. The most annoying bit of the process was preparing the data beforehand!

The only slight problem I did find was when I was uploading our jobs (manually). Once I had uploaded around 50 of them, the system lags. And it becomes a great struggle to add anymore until a short while later. This will not be a problem 99% of the time, as we will not need to mass upload jobs once we are set up. But it did become a bit of a frustration when the rest of the system is so quick!

What can it do?

What can’t it do? Okay, that’s cliché. But really, it can do pretty much everything you need it to. It stores your contacts, and all the back history of any contact you have uploaded to the system before. The same as every other CRM really. So why do I love it?

These are what I consider the 5 best features:

The Dashboard

This is the very first page, and where the reports are. You can set your monthly target or quota, then as you add jobs, it tells you how close you are to the target. The jobs are colour coded by how completed they are, so at a quick glance you can see where you are for the month. But, if you do need a more in depth breakdown, you just click, and it breaks it all down for you. It also gives you a one glance look at your productivity and pipeline with how much you have done, and percentage of how much better or worse you have done compared to last month. With other CRM’s I have found reports tedious to create and to be honest, they don’t really cover everything you needed in one place. The dashboard covers all of that in one screen.

Sidekick email tracking

With HubSpot you get an add-on called side kick, which actually turns out to be a good sidekick! You can track your emails with it, so you can see when they are opened, and if links on the email were clicked through, you can store emails straight to the CRM, so you have a copy of your contact, and when you start a new email to someone, it will bring up a sidebar of all the last contact you had with them, so you can see when they opened the last email, and the dates you last sent it. It also links to their twitter account, so you can see their latest updates and reference them in the email if you wish.

Sidekick prospecting bar

As well as email, sidekick will help you to prospect too. If you go on to a prospects website, it brings up a tiny sidekick symbol in the right hand corner. When you click on it, it brings up a sidebar, so you can save the website, and all the contact information on it, straight to the CRM. You can also view any information stored on the CRM already about the company. It will then bring up any contacts it can find, or connections you have, and it can also do a related companies search too.

Full customisation

I have found with other CRM’s I have had to leave certain sections of it, as they are not relevant to what I am doing, there are too many options to fill, or not enough. With HubSpot, it is fully customisable, meaning I can use every inch of the CRM. Don’t need it? Remove it from the view! Not enough deal stages? Add more and rename them all. Don’t like the information you have to provide for contacts? Reset up what is needed for their file, and add in your own new field whilst you’re at it.

Integration

HubSpot integrates with so many other programmes, meaning less hassle for you. As everything talks to each other, it cuts out half the time you spend reposting updates to each program.

 Hubspot tasks

Usability

It’s exceptionally easy to use, and to link everything to everything else, so contacts to clients, clients to deals, tasks to contacts and so on and so on. It is all customisable, meaning we have a unique CRM really, with every section being used, rather than ignoring parts as they are not needed. Everyone can view and access everything, but in a company our size, and the way work, this is perfect for us, though I understand with bigger companies this may not be practical. Though I believe for bigger companies there is an option to pay for user accounts. The best bit for usability I find, is that it doesn’t add extra work to my day like other CRM’s, as it does a lot of the work for you, such as providing relevant information.

Support

This was one of my worries as a UK user, not being able to get support when I need it, and I have to admit, I panicked when there was no obvious number for me to call when I first had a problem. But the integrated help feature in the CRM means you can type in your questions, which get sent to the right person, who then email you back a relevant answer. Not only that, but you can suggest features for the system too, which I know from past experience are actually considered and implemented.

Overall Conclusion

This is the best CRM I have used, so far. Its simplicity and easy customisation make it the perfect tool, and even better, it’s free! Are there still hiccups with it? Yes of course there are, but they are constantly updating it so the system only gets better. Overall, for a marketing company, it is more than we could ever ask for, but don’t forget you need to find what is right for you and your goals from a CRM, and there certainly are enough to choose from!

If you would like to see for yourself, why not visit Hubspot’s CRM Page?

CRM’s are all about being able to give your customer the best service possible. Why not have a read of how you can use social media in customer support.