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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
Flexible and easy to use Slideshare is suitable only for presentations. However with a bit of lateral thinking there are very few businesses that can’t make good use of Slideshare. All you need to produce a presentation on Slideshare is a power point presentation or pdf’s.
A few Slideshare facts
- Slideshare has 45+ million visits per month
- It’s powerful means to send more visitors to your web site
- It’s easier and cheaper than Tube & you can turn your presentations into videos
- You can add a voice over
- It’s easy to embed your Slideshare presentation on your web site and you can tweet about it or post it on Facebook and LinkedIn
- Build a library of presentations
- You can embed videos into your presentations
Why do I love Slideshare?
- You can create an account for FREE
- You can add power point, pdf, open office or Apple keynote files
- It makes it easy to share presentations with people – you just give them the link
- It enhances your reputation as an expert in the area of your presentations
- You can link Slideshare to your LinkedIn profile
- You can add Slideshare to your Facebook page
- People can download the presentation from Slideshare (or not, you decide)
- It helps position your business and you as a thought leader
- You can use it to get leads – there is a paid facility that means you can have an email link at the end for people to contact you
- You can see how many times your files have been viewed
- People can share your files with others via social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Word Press and blogger
- Anyone in the world can see your presentations
What to use Slideshare for
- Your portfolio
- Training presentations
- Blog articles
- Your brochure
As with everything social networking you need to optimise your presentation and let everyone know its there. So add a description and include your most valuable keywords. See my Slideshare presentations…..
Think of Pinterest as a giant notice board on which you pin notices and pictures of events, what you are doing, things you like, your hobbies and news and offers from your business. It really is as simple as that. You can have as many ‘notice boards’ as you like and the idea is to theme them.
So if you run a B & B set up boards for ‘rooms’, our gardens and ‘things to do locally’. Run a retail shop? Set up pin boards for product ranges, sale items, new season, collections and your favourite things. You can also capture ‘pins’ of interest from other people’s boards and attach them to your board.
Pinterest is not simply a means to promote products and services, it is a very useful source of information and research, where you can find new products and new designers. You can also use Pinterest for research and study.
Why join Pinterest?
Yes, it’s another social network but Pinterest offers a visual means to promote your products and find a whole new range of followers.
- Selling a product online or you have a retail shop? Pinterest is a fantastic place to showcase your products and collections visually. Link your Pinterest account back to your web site.
- Pinterest does not have as many users as other social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn, but is catching up rapidly. Sign up now and get noticed!
- It’s quick and easy to set up
- In the U.S. Pinterest is mainly used by craftspeople but in the UK is mainly used by business. So if you are looking to attract other businesses or business owners…
- Pinterest is a visual social network, so appeals to a different following, who prefer to shop and buy visually. Spread the reach of your business!
- Pinterest does not take a lot of setting up or maintenance. If you have access to lots of images and have a very visual business such as a hotel or shop all you need to do is organise your boards and pin your images on. Add a link to your web site and followers will come.
- If you are a consultant or your sell business to business use your Pinterest boards to show your expertise. For example turn advice articles into images and pin to your boards.
- Create catalogues to bring in sales. Set up boards by product types and pin images of those products. Add a link on your web site and direct readers to your Pinterest board. Don’t forget to promote your Pinterest presence in the real world! Tell shop visitors and guests in marketing material.
Buyers today are more ‘savvy’ than ever. Consumers and business buyers alike now make buying decisions based on recommendations and reviews and there is no doubt that reviews will become increasingly important. We all need to take note and use reviews and recommendations in both our on and offline marketing and promotion.
52% of consumers reported that positive customer reviews make them more likely to use a local business compared to just 28%, who make their selection based on other factors like location and price. Even more encouraging for businesses, 52% of consumers trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations -- provided they look authentic, of course. (Source Hub Spot).
The majority of us are familiar with and use Trip advisor when choosing holidays, looking for holiday accommodation and days out. Now every business, not just those involved in the holiday industry, can use reviews to their advantage when promoting their business. The more familiar social network sites such as Face book, Twitter, LinkedIn and the larger high street stores all allow users to post reviews and recommendations.
Given the increasing importance of reviews and recommendations it seems likely that the social networking sites will increase the opportunities to post reviews. Interestingly Yelp started out as a review site and has developed into a social community with forums for users. Rated People.com has thousands of recommended tradesmen across the UK listed.
Reviews sites and SEO
Search for a product you are looking to buy or for holiday accommodation and posted reviews from business buyers and consumers alike will appear in Google search results. Google Places allows businesses to register with Google and be listed on Google Maps. Once listed, users can leave reviews for your business directly on your Google Places page. These show up on Google searches for your business products and services.
The Google Places bot also searches the internet for other review sites with your company’s reviews and recommendations and these will be listed along with Google places reviews. Amazon reviews are one of the big ones when it comes to books, electrical and clothing and reviews posted on Amazon also show up in Google search results.
E mail marketing is an important tool in promoting business online and increasing visitors to your web site. Time spent designing and writing the content of your E mail is time well spent and having a few templates ready will reduce the time it takes you. Plan your content and offers carefully.
Given that you are sending an E mail as part of a campaign or as a regular mailing you have to do as much as you can to make sure your E mails are opened and read. A few hints and common sense marketing advice will help you to improve the numbers reading your E mails, clicking through to your web site and acting on your offers and news. Do this and convert E mail readers into bookings and sales!
- The title of your E mails. Don’t spend hours coming up with a stunning or sensational heading and don’t include ‘Free’. These E mails go straight into the spam of people you are mailing. Include your business name in the top title of E mail. Your readers have signed up to receive mailings from you so should recognise your business name. Include also something like ‘News from’, ‘July offers’, ‘what’s happening in June’ and ‘New this month’.
- When you send out your welcome E mail, tell your reader how often to expect your mailing, what content and offers they should expect and what to look out for in their in box.
- The mere act of getting people to sign up to your mailings, means they are actively seeking the sort of products and services you provide. Include valuable offers and your E mail list are much more likely to open and act on your mailings.
- Be realistic and don’t overestimate your success rate. E mailing is generally free or very reasonably priced. The success rate of E mail is much higher than direct mail. Depending on the E mail company you are using to host your E mails an opening rate of 20% is excellent with a click through rate of 2% to 5%.
- Make your mailings interesting and original. Include genuine time limited offers, free information that will really help your reader and interesting news.
- Send out your mailing when people are more likely to read them. To some extend this depends on the type of business you are in. You can test the timing of your mailings to monitor times with the best opening rates. However unlikely it might seem if you are selling business to business Friday afternoons are good and if you have holiday accommodation Monday mornings work well.
- Finally make the sign up to receive your mailings on your web site compelling. Make it clear what they will receive and your readers are much more likely to open your mailings.
The key with this is to align social networking with the marketing, promotion and advertising you do now. Doing this makes social networking simpler, will save you time and most important of all be effective and help you to achieve your business goals.
So rather than ask ‘How much time can I devote to social networking? ask ‘Which social networks can I use to make more of the marketing, advertising and promotion I do now? ‘. The following checklist should help you to make the decision on which social networks that are right for you and your business.
Then all you need to do is every time you do any marketing, advertising or promotion to post, tweet, pin, and present on your social networks.
- Do you sell a product? Social network Pinterest is perfect for you. Think of Pinterest as a series of notice boards, where you can pin images of your products and collections with links back to your web site. Post your pins on your Facebook page.
- Do you run a B & B or hotel? Use your Facebook page for customer reviews top quality images your rooms and gardens and the surrounding area. If you have videos add to U tube, which is very quick and easy to use. To make the most of your U tube profile, create your own U tube channel.
- Facebook is good for building your own community of contacts, customers and potential buyers. If you produce something post news of products, offers and competitions.
- Do you advertise? Include your social media logos as QR codes to take readers to an offer on your Facebook page.
- Are you in retail? Twitter is one of the quickest social networks to use. Tweet news, offers, details of sales and new collections. Use Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to schedule tweets.
- Do you provide training? Slideshare is perfect for presentations and it is very easy to use. Slideshare allows you to tweet your new slideshare presentation, post on Facebook or add to your LinkedIn profile.
- Are you a consultant or do you sell a service? LinkedIn is the network for business professional which includes solicitors, accountants, consultants, builders, hotel owners, tourist attractions, retail and web designers and more. Use to make new contacts and to join your industry groups. LinkedIn is an excellent way to search for work and find new staff.
Make the most of everything you do by posting on whichever social network feels tight for you. So whether adding a new presentation on Slideshare or a video on U tube, tell your twitter followers and add your video or presentation to your LinkedIn page. Finally make sure the logos and badges of the social network you belong to are on your web site, E mail signature and your marketing material. Doing even a small part of this will increase your reach and exposure on the internet.
One of the most powerful tools in promoting your business online is the content of your web site and blog. Not simply from a web site optimisation point of view but by giving your web site visitors what they are looking for and a reason to enquire, buy online or book.
If you can provide your web site visitors with what they have been searching for and make it original you will attract more visitors, increase the time they spend on your web site and convert more into enquiries, sales and bookings. In the UK most searchers use Google and Google rewards high quality sites with original content. So not only does great content make a better website, it also improves your site’s rankings.
Too many businesses update their web site only occasionally, or update in a hurry copying and pasting with the potential errors that can occur when you do this. Updating your site regularly encourages visits from search engines and so helping with your site ranking.
Why is the content of your web site important?
Quality content will interest your web site visitors and interest leads to buying and booking Interesting content will keep visitors on your site for longer and the longer they stay on the site the more likely they are to buy and book Interesting content will keep visitors coming back and are more likely to spread the word about your business on and offline, on review sites and on the social networks
So what makes interesting content?
- Original content with strong headlines
- Strong reasons to sign up for downloads, regular updates and offers and news
- Diary of events
- What to do locally when they stay with you
- Family activities close by when they stay with you
- Videos Badges and links to professional organisations, review sites and the social networks you belong to
- Quality images of events
- Your downloadable brochure
- A blog
- Links to other sites for more specific information and other interesting and useful content for your visitors Testimonials
If you are selling business to business case studies can help prospects visualise what your services can do for them Whatever content you add to your web site optimise everything you do. In other words add the keywords (search terms) people use when searching for your products, services or accommodation site. Your web designer will be able to help you with this.
Social networks provide all businesses with the opportunity to reach a global audience and more often than not the networks are free! The social networks such as Twitter and Facebook are an easy way to send out fast changing, short term information and offers to a wider audience.
Increasingly consumers and business buyers alike are using review sites and social networks to check out reviews and recommendations before they buy. Add feedback and recommendations from happy customers from review sites such as Trip Advisor and Yelp to your web site, or link to your Trip Advisor page for direct viewing of recommendations. If for no other reason you use the social networks this is probably the most important.
There are many ways to use social networks to promote your business. Use in combination with your other marketing and promotion to have more impact and:
- To promote short term offers, late bookings and last minute training deals
- For launching competitions and prize draws and to announce competition winners
- Using offers and free downloads to build a mailing list of prospects for your business
- To spread the news of and launch new products, new services, awards and press coverage
- To announce new season events and family days out
- Exclusive offers for social network followers and friends - keep it special
- To collect reviews, recommendations and testimonials
- To show your business and what you are doing in images and videos
- To create a ‘community’ of loyal customers who love what you do and tell others
- To link up with other businesses for research and joint promotions
Social media isn’t complicated and you do not have to spend hours on posting and tweeting to achieve any of the above. What you must do is include links to your web site from your pages on the social network sites. Include Facebook, Twitter and other network icons on marketing material, menus, on your business cards and in your E mail signature.
1. What is the lifetime value of your customers? This is the key. Know this & you know how much to invest to attract new customers and clients. Here’s how to calculate it.
Average value of a sale x how many times they will on average buy from you again x Average Retention Time in Months or Years
2. Are you using testimonials and positive reviews from review sites? Testimonials convince and now more than ever consumers and business buyers check out online reviews. Sign up to review sites such as Trip Advisor and Yelp. Add the review site logo to your business cards to encourage people to post reviews.
3. What marketing and advertising brought in most sales in 2012? Knowing the answer to this will save you both time and money in 2013. Invest in the marketing and advertising that works and review that which hasn’t brought in so many enquiries. Don’t know the answer? Then you need to set up monitoring systems.
4. Are you monitoring enquiries including on and offline and social media. Simple monitoring systems can be very revealing and highlight poor conversion rates in specific marketing actions. Monitoring systems do not have to be anything too complicated, but should include, responses from different ads, direct mail, networking, social networks and web site enquiries.
5. Who else has access to your customers/clients? If selling B to B referral businesses are an excellent source of new prospects and clients. Can you come up with mutually beneficial agreements, or enhance the services your business offers the customers of partner businesses.
6. What problems does your business solve? Analysing this is the means to understand what your customers are really looking for. For retail it might be ‘How to look good’ or ‘What to wear this season’. For B to B it could be ‘Providing the best IT training for staff’.
7. Are you using irresistible offers and powerful guarantees? Offers and guarantees sell. Look beyond the traditional 10% off. Offer time limited discounts, discounts at weekends or ‘Friday Flyers’. Whatever business you are in these really do work. Think ASOS and Debenhams.
8. Does your business stand out from similar businesses in your market place? Or are you just another player. Standing out makes you memorable and enables you to target niche markets. Stand out on product, price, service, choice, product range, design, by specialising, selection. Essential for both B to C and B to B.
9. How can you use an expert to save time and money? Sounds counterintuitive, but calculate the time you spend mastering new skills compared to your hourly rate or sales you could be making. Using an expert can be viable proposition and they will have additional knowledge.
10. Are you making the most of your existing resources? Listing all the communication channels you have access to can be very revealing. It’s almost always more than you think. Are you using them in the most effective way? Can you use more channels in combination to have more impact?
When you write a proposal you are aiming to persuade a prospective client to buy or an existing client to buy from you again. Writing a convincing business proposal that does justice to the services you can provide and the professional you would bring to another business is one of the most difficult things you have to do if you provide a service.
Consider the time you spend putting your proposal together if you do not win the business can feel not only like a major disappointment but also a big waste of your valuable and precious business time. The good news is that there is a formula you can follow that will save you time and make your proposal stand out from your competitors.
Key Elements of Winning Business Proposals
Begin with a lead paragraph on the company's needs and problems. Keep it short and precise and use bullet points. Follow this up with a solid presentation of how your business will provide solutions. Only promise solutions you are confident you can deliver and that will solve your prospects needs. State with certainty the results you expect and the steps that will be taken to achieve this.
Remember whoever is reading your proposal will have little or no idea what you are proposing, so you have to walk them through the process. Do this by starting at the beginning and clearly, simply, and logically moving forward by making your points one at a time. Your proposal must not only be specifically created but must read as if it were created especially for this particular client or customer
Start with the big picture and drill down as you go along
Make a Good Argument and Counter Possible Obstacles. Make your offer irresistible to the reader. Pull together the top facts and arguments in your favour. Have a theme and reinforce it again and again. Take the reader down a path that leads but to one conclusion, that hiring you makes the most sense for them.
You also have to put yourself in the readers' position, think of what counter arguments they might consider and deal with those potential obstacles honestly. Include the benefits of what you can bring to the business and make these clear. If your small business can offer complete confidentiality and meet tight deadlines state this in your benefits section. Include the benefits you know will solve your prospects problems and that will appeal to them.
Next you need to convince and the easiest way of doing this is with testimonials If you have worked with clients in the same field as the business you are proposing to or have worked with someone they know and respect all the better to include a testimonial from them.
Other things that convince are examples of your work and you can do this as an attached case study or as a power point or video presentation on your web site. If you do it this way include a link in your business proposal. You can also include graphics in your proposal.
A winning business proposal is all about communication. Speak in a language spoken by your intended audience and show your Personality.
Pull all of this information together in a logical progression. Start with your lead paragraph. Follow this with a paragraph ‘What you need to do’. Next paragraph ‘How to do this’. Follow this with ‘What I can do/what my business can do’. This is where you include your benefits, explain why do it this way and counter any potential objections. Follow this with information about your business, including your contact details and testimonials.
Triple-check for typos, don’t oversell and avoid jargon. Always Keep the Reader in Mind, and while price is important and must be discussed, do so only after you have wowed readers with your clear writing, powerful arguments and an abundance of potential benefits. Then you can go in for the sale!
QR stands for Quick Response Code. They are bar codes or painted squares that when scanned by a smart or I phone and take the user to a page on a web site. Their ability to hold more information and their ease of use makes them a perfect marketing tool for small businesses.
Consumers today want immediate access to what’s relevant. Now many brands worldwide are using QR codes to do just that, producing ever inventive marketing and promotional campaigns.
Can QR codes work for your business?
QR codes cost noting to produce and have infinite possibilities. While they are easier to use for businesses selling directly to consumers they work perfectly well for businesses selling B to B, you just need to be a bit more inventive.
12 ways to use QR codes
- In advertisements
- On marketing material
- On your business card
- On food or drink packaging
- On vehicles
- Take out cups and packaging
- On training course information
- Add the code to biscuits to give out as promotional gift
- The sides of trucks and trailers
- Restaurant menus
- Point of sale receipts
- On your business coupons, offers and gift vouchers
Wherever you use QR codes think about where you are sending readers who scan your code. Don’t restrict it to the home page of your web site. Add a page on your site that relates to the service you are promoting or to an offer page. Whether you are selling business to business or business to consumer think offers, promotions and give aways.
Be inventive with your QR code With a little innovation you can come up with any number of ideas for using QR codes. Send people to your Facebook or other social media pages, where they can join in the conversation, find an offer or take part in a competition. There’s no limit to how, or even how much, you can share using QR codes. Videos and landing pages are easily shared. Sharing is one way to build community and one of the favourite places for doing this is on Facebook. Use QR codes with E mail opt-ins to build your mailing list and use QR codes to link to specific blogs posts.
Using QR codes efficiently and effectively. Where you place QR codes is important, but more important is planning what it is you want to achieve, for example to drive more traffic to your web site and to add a review to an online review site Make sure you make it clear where readers will be sent when they scan the code and tell them why they should do this. In other words what’s in it for them…
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