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Business Promotion Hints and Tips
Ann Brown, an experienced and well respected Bridlington based marketing consultant provides help and information on the basics of promoting your business.
Marketing is an investment that no business can afford to be without. Marketing that is specific for your business, that is planned, is strategic and that delivers. Whether you are an established business or have recently set up you will be looking to increase sales and find new customers.The right marketing will achieve this and save you time and money. Take advantage of Ann's helpful advice provided within this blog. Ann can be contacted via email at email@example.com or telephone 07947 779542
Are you constantly interrupting your working day to Tweet and Post and check for new followers? Did you know that on average it takes 20 minutes to get your focus back following interruptions such as posting, checking E mails and replying to phone calls? It is possible with a little planning to eliminate time spent wondering what to tweet and post and constantly interrupting your daily schedule?
- First decide which network best suits your business and which are you most comfortable with.
- What are the aims of social networking for your business? To increase your business profile, to illustrate your expertise, to find new customers, promote specific offers or research? Knowing this will save time later.
- Who is posting and tweeting for your business? It is good policy to have one person but you can have other contributors. What you must have is a social media policy in place to protect yourself, your business and your customers.
- Look ahead. What are you doing in the coming year? Is your business seasonal, do anniversary days (e.g. mothers Day) play a part in your business? Do your products and services change through the year? If selling B2B are there deadline dates that your clients need to know about? If you are planning a sale in February, you need to be tweeting and posting about it the month before.
- Plan a theme for each month that fits in with the other marketing you are doing. This might be a launch, a specific product you want to feature or new courses you are running.
- Plan to mix up your tweets and include some social tweets and posts. Promote events you are attending or holding and include a link to your web site or blog posts.
- Think about your industry, what access do you have to industry news, original news and views? Time spent in researching these will save time later. These can make up some of your tweets and posts
- What images do you have access to? It’s worth creating a directory of good quality images you can include with some of your tweets and posts.
- Join Hootsuite or Tweedeck. Both allow you to tweet ahead. Hootsuite will also allow you to manage your Facebook, Google Plus and LinkedIn accounts. Facebook allows you to schedule posts including images ahead of time in an activity log.
- Create a content calendar to pull all this together. Schedule your tweets for the coming week, month or more if you wish. Then all you have to do is check your schedule and twitter and Facebook accounts periodically to include a few on time tweets and posts and to joining in conversations.
E mail Marketing generally has a poor reputation, meanwhile thousands of businesses are quietly using it to build awareness, build loyalty and increase sales. These companies vary from large PLC’s to small businesses and new start ups in the know. Somehow we don’t associate the professional mailings we have signed up to with E mail marketing.
If you are considering E mail marketing first and most important of all you have to decide what you will be using mailings for. Bear in mind mailings do not fit for every business. You have to make sure what you send is of value, helpful and of interest to recipients. It might be:
- Advice – must be original and genuinely helpful
- Offers – must be genuine and of value
- First chance to buy/try
- Short offers for courses you run
Your mailing list – best practice
Before you begin you will need a mailing list and for many businesses especially start ups this can be a daunting and seemingly impossible task. But you can overcome this with a multiple pronged strategy.
Many businesses start out by buying a mailing list and you can do this successfully with a few insights. Buying a mailing list will cost you and you will have to decide how many conversions into sales you will need to cover your costs (ROI). Buying a mailing list is nowhere near as successful as making connections that understand what you do and are interested in what you have to offer. This applies whether you sell a product or a service.
Select by business size, business type, geographical area, and you should also specify the status of the contact you want. In other words, managing director, purchasing manager, marketing manager etc. If you are going to proceed without a mailing list you will have to build your own. This is easier than you might originally imagine. This is how you can do it. Depending on the type of business you are:
- Offer competitions and prize draws
- Product and advice giveaways
- Network connections on and offline
- Social media connections
You must include a sign up form on your web site. To sign up, whatever you are selling you must make it worth the while of people joining up. Give them a discount of their first purchase, a free report of something that will help them, first chance to take up accommodation and holiday offers and short term offers for courses etc.
Keep your sign up form short, E mail address and name is a good start, there will be other opportunities to gather more information. Let people know how often you will be mailing, they will be more likely to open mailings and you will not be perceived as spamming.
Both Mail chimp and constant contact will send a welcome E mail asking sign ups to confirm their address and this will ensure you escape spammers. Then all you have to do is decide what form your mailing will take html or text.
Whatever we do we are all bombarded with information, online, in e mails and in the real world with leaflets and fliers and on TV. In business, you can add industry information in e mails and magazines, web sites we feel we should read and companies sending offers, news and videos, all with plenty of reasons we should be buying and acting.
If you run a business how do you find the time to read all this information and keep up with industry news and the latest marketing advice? How do you use all this information to help you make buying and marketing decisions?
The answer is to take a step back and decide what is essential for your business? What do you need? What will help your business now? What aspects of marketing are you struggling with? Concentrate on information that will help you with these issues, while casting an eye over information that is not as essential. In other words focus on what you need to know about. Once you have decided what this is it becomes easier to filter out stuff you don’t need to read.
Have a data and information plan
Make a simple plan setting time aside time daily or weekly for reading and researching. Set up folders on your computer or other device where you can store the information that really helps and that you can go back and refer to. In this way you can build a resource library of information for inspiration and motivation. For magazines and periodicals use a tray and add publications to it when they arrive then read during your set aside time.
Suggestions for folders:
- Industry news and trends
- Internet marketing
- Social media marketing
- Useful web sites
For smaller pieces of data copy and web addresses paste into notepad then into word and save in your folders. Set aside an hour a day or week to read the information you have gathered. Review your information regularly and delete what you no longer need or what is out of date.
Planning in this way means you will read more about what really matters and make better buying and marketing decisions. It will also help reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed which creates stress. At the same time don’t limit yourself to a few tried and tested sites and publications, be open minded and review new web sites and periodicals.
Most important of all turn insights and what you have learnt into actions to work, start small and be consistent. If you need more help organising yourself, Evernote will help you to organise all your online information on your desk top and mobile.
And wouldn’t it be wonderful if knowing this could help you to simplify your marketing, increase effectiveness and produce the results you really want?
Whatever your business it is crucial that you target your products and services at specific groups of people and business buyers. Being clear who you are aiming to attract is the first and most important part of your marketing plan. This does not mean you should restrict your marketing to one group only, this would hold back your business reach too much.
What you must do is understand which of your products and services will appeal to specific groups of businesses and people. Doing some research first is always helpful, review for example where most of your sales have come from in the past 2 years:
- What type of businesses are buying from you
- Where are they geographically
- What is the size of business buying from you by turnover or employee size?
- By business type and by the service they offer
- By the products and services they buy from you
Be specific in this. You also need to be aware how did you get the business?
- By recommendation and referral
- Networking on and offline
- Direct mail
- E mail marketing
- Social networking
Following your research you must make sure the businesses and audience you chose are a viable market for your products, services and accommodation. As part of your research don’t forget trade and business magazines. How do they speak to their readers, what issues they are discussing and what questions are readers asking?
Segment your markets in this way and target them in a way that will reach them. Marketing communications must appeal to your audience, be relevant and something that is of interest to them. Use marketing actions that will reach them, in other words sell where your audience buy.
Don’t forget to target referral businesses that are the businesses that have your ideal customers as their customers and clients. Your tactics here will be different and it will probably take you longer to convert into sales, but the same principles apply and do it right and it will provide a rich vein of sales and bookings for you.
If you know your business, are clear on what you offer, are sure you can deliver what your customers are looking for, follow these strategies and your marketing will be easier, more targeted and more successful.
Every business has to market and promote their products and services to increase brand awareness and bring in sales. So often marketing ends up at the bottom of the ‘to do’ list even though one of the benefits of building marketing into the day to day running of a business helps to eliminate the peaks and troughs of sales and bookings. So how do you find time in a busy schedule for marketing?
Often the mere thought of marketing and the myriad of choices available are a barrier with marketing seen as overwhelming or a chore. Yet every business should think of marketing as an investment and the key is to keep it simple. It helps to set aside a specific time every week for marketing. With a bit of planning and a plan that suits you marketing is not only achievable but also something that spurs you on to greater achievements.
The easiest way to find time for marketing is to start by being clear about what it is you want to achieve. This might be a financial goal or a number of bookings or sales. Next make sure you are clear who your products and services appeal to. This might be by business type, by demographics or by geographical area or all three.
Doing these simple things means you will be clear about the way you present you project your business to your audience. Knowing who you are appealing to means you will be able to target advertising for example in one specific area of the country or in one specific type of publication for example.
Following this exercise set aside a budget for your marketing. Some businesses allocate a percentage of their turnover, others a specific amount. If you are a new business you will need to invest more.
Your next stage is to list all your resources and this is more than simply financial resources. This might include:
Your web site
- Social media sites
- Your premises
- Your staff
- Your packaging
- Direct mail
- Marketing material
Your final stage in making time for marketing is to decide how you are going to use your resources to promote your business and ALSO to make sure you are using your resources to their maximum effect. For example is your web site up to date? Does your marketing material present your business in the best way and does it sell the real benefits of staying with you and buying from you?
At the last stage you also need to make sure you are using your resources together to promote your business, for example using your marketing material to send readers to your web site for offers and social media sites to read your reviews. Marketing is the life blood of any business make sure you find the time to do it in 2014.
There is no doubt that social network such as Twitter and Facebook are useful if not crucial tools in any marketing campaign. In so many ways they present new opportunities for businesses of every size. But care has to be taken as consumers and clients now have instant access to posting complaints and less than favourable comments about customer service, faulty products or some aspect of their stay with you they are not happy about.
Consumers and holiday makers alike have more choices than ever before and every business has to be vigilant and monitor unhappy customers. The simple truth is that your business reputation is at risk. In the extreme hotels have lost bookings due to unfavourable reviews and posts on the social networks and product sales have fallen away. Any company’s worst nightmare is for a customer to post a bad review and then for it to spread across the internet.
And it’s not only the negative reviews that can hurt your business reputation, unanswered questions and enquiries posted on the networks will do your reputation no favours. Say thank you to favourable comments and reviews and show your customer how important their comments and views are to your business.
How to monitor your reputation online
1. Monitor Your Brand
Check your social networks twice daily and it helps to have one person do this. Use Google alerts to discover all mentions of your brand online and Tweetdeck or Hootsuite so you know when your business is mentioned on the social networks.
2. Quick Response
When a customer posts something unfavourable about your business, or asks a question, you can turn things around with your response. Remember that your best customers and clients are ones that have had a problem with your products, service or customer service and who you have helped by righting the problem. 90 percent of dissatisfied customers will stay with a company, so long as their complaint is resolved promptly. 50 percent will become an advocate for your business.
3. Personal Attention
It’s difficult for any business to deal with unhappy customers but at the same time you must give your customers an easy way to contact you. This simple action can avoid your customers posting poor reviews online. The more difficult you make it for customers to contact you the more likely someone is to complain. For example your customer is unhappy with delivery of a parcel and they try to contact you directly only to be faced with a phone that keeps on ringing, an answer machine, or a multiple choice switchboard where none of the options fits their problem. These customers are much more likely to post unfavourable comments online.
Whatever business you are in your customers want to know you care and want to know what you are going to do to put right their problem. Build bridges with dissatisfied customers and you will bolster your reputation not damage it.
Testimonials convince! But gathering them from clients, guests and customers can seem difficult and time consuming. Firstly how do you find someone to write a testimonial and a testimonial that says something more than ‘great stay thanks’ and something more like ‘Lovely welcome, tea and home make cakes on arrival. friendly family run, comfortable rooms, plenty to do close by’.
Today gathering reviews and testimonials is easier than ever and given the variety and sources available you can easily find testimonials and reviews that say more.
1. LinkedIn Recommendations
LinkedIn is a great source of reviews, taken from your recommendations.
You’d be surprised how many positive reviews, thanks and recommendations are posted on Twitter. Collect them and add to your marketing material and web site.
3. Local Search Directories
Anyone joining Google Places or Yahoo Local can post reviews. If you have a listing on these sites, check out posted reviews and share them on your testimonials web page or Facebook page.
4. Review Sites
Depending on your industry, you can use recommendations and reviews on niche review sites. Hotels and B and B’s can use sites such as Expedia and Trip Advisor. Definitely worth doing as now more than ever people check out travel sites before booking a stay or a holiday.
5. Google Alerts and Social Mentions
There are other places where you can find reviews and testimonials, but you will have to work a little harder to find them! These reviews might appear on blogs or on press sites. Setup daily notifications via Google Alerts to keep track of mentions of you.
6. YouTube Video Reviews
Finally if you can a video of your customer talking about how your products or services have helped them is pretty compelling. Take a link from your customers you tube page and post onto your web site.
Compiling Your Testimonials Page
So now that you have collected all of these great reviews, add them to one page on your website so potential customers can see what great things you have done for others. Post onto your social network pages. Credit the review sites and if necessary, get permission from the person who wrote the review and confirm that it is OK for you to add their review to your web site and marketing material.
Every one talks about analytics in respect of web sites, but that’s not the end of the story. Analytics are simply statistics providing specific information and are crucial to monitor the results and success of all your marketing and promotion whether on or offline. This includes E mail marketing, direct mail, advertising and blog posts.
If you are using a software programme for HTML (web based) mailings Mail Chimp and Constant Contact provide very easy to understand statistics so you can see how many people opened your mailing, when they opened it and how many clicked through to your web site. Use these analytics to compare mailings month on month to see which campaigns are the most popular, which offers encouraged people to visit your web site and which did not. This powerful information will also over time give you the most responsive time of day to send out your mailings.
Not all E mail promotion has to be html, normal text mailings work well for some businesses and for one off simple offers. If you do send out text E mails you can still monitor the success of your marketing campaigns. Your web site analytics will show you how many people have visited your site, what they looked at, how long they spent and if they clicked on your offer, news page or blog.
Web site analytics are also valuable as a back up to Mail Chimp and Constant Contact analytics. The majority of people open e mails within a couple of days of receiving them, so this is the period of time you will see most activity.
Monitor campaigns over time to see which offers and which products and services are the most popular. This information will show up in increased visits to your web site but don’t forget to monitor the impact of your mailings in visitors to your shop or phone enquiries. Not everyone will tell you they are making an enquiry as a result of your mailing or ad.
Without question the best way to monitor your website traffic, as well as the traffic at your blog, is by installing and using Google Analytics. This is accurate in all but where your visitors are from geographically, but even this will give you a general idea. Google analytics are fairly easy to use and are free to install.
One of my favourite features in Google Analytics is the traffic comparisons. With just a few clicks you can see visits to your web site between any two periods of time you select. Add Google Analytics to your blog if your blog is attached to your web site. If you use Google Blogger or Word Press you will be able to monitor the statistics they provide.
But having analytics and what to use them for are different things. Whatever marketing and advertising you do monitoring your campaigns provides the information to shape future campaigns. And analytics are one way of monitoring and using information to develop future marketing campaigns on and offline.
What are Google Analytics?
Google analytics are statistics that provide information about your web site. They are free to use and all you need to do is open a Google account and sign up to analytics. Google analytics will provide a code which you add to the web pages of your site. You must add the coding to every page of your web site to view results for every page. After a month you will have enough information to begin to understand:
- How people find your site
- What they look at
- How long they spend on your site
- Which are your most popular pages
- How many people travel through your site to your contact or sign up page
- How visitors found your site
- The pathways visitors take through your web site
- What visitors are interested in on your web site
- Which parts of your web site they interact with and much more
It doesn’t matter what size your business analytics can help you. The importance of analytics is much more than numbers visiting your site and how many pages they look at. Delve a little deeper and give thought to even a few analytics and you will begin to see where improvements, to increase visitors and enquiries from your web site and social networking, can be made.
Your business online
Google and other analytics available not only provide crucial information about web site activity, but also useful information about numbers reading blogs and newsletters. Google analytics for example will also show you which links from social network pages and other web sites are sending visitors to your web site. E mailing and newsletter software provider Mail Chimp and Survey Monkey all provide analytics on open rates and responses.
All businesses want more sales and analytics will help you to discover why you are not receiving the enquiries you need and why you are not converting more enquiries into sales. Set time aside monthly to check your web site analytics and compare month on month to monitor changes through the year.
The powerful information provided from analytics can be overwhelming, if you are selling online or taking online bookings consider more experienced analysis of analytics.
The majority of businesses tweet and post around 9 to 5 Monday to Friday. But is that always the best time to send out your information, news and offers? A lot depends on the type of business you are in, but if for example you sell products and services from your web site, you are open 24 hours a day across the world.
In this case you have to bear in mind time differences and the times your audience are most likely to be visiting their social media sites. The same applies if you run a hotel or tourist attraction and want to attract visitors from across the world. For family run businesses time is always at a premium. Knowing who your audience are, having a plan for what you are going to post and tweet will help keep your social networking simple, efficient and effective.
Statistics show that generally more tweets and posts are read in the morning, the reason? Most people start the day by checking their social media sites just before or just after reading their E mails. However to make sure tweets and posts find your chosen audience you might need to look at posting at different times. For a more precise assessment of the most advantages times to tweet and post for your business try Tweriod for free.
Did you know that the largest growing audience on Twitter is the 54 to 64 year age group and that Twitter engagement for bigger brands is 17% higher on weekends? Yet only 19% of businesses tweet at weekends. Whatever time you tweet and post include a link to your web site or social media pages, these generate twice the interest of other posts. Tweets with less than 100 characters get 17% more responses and more re-tweets, probably because they are quicker to read and easier to re-tweet.
Make it easier for yourself by drawing up a simple content calendar of what you are going to tweet and post. This might for example be offers, news, hints and tips, blog posts and your industry news. Tweet once a day as a minimum. Mix up your tweets and posts and post at different times of the week, including evenings and weekends. To engage your followers on Twitter out of your office hours use free twitter apps such as Tweetdeck or multi social management site Hootsuite.
Stats from social media today.
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