Thursday, 22 November 2012

Why brand awareness is is commonly overlooked by UK SMEs?

Constraint is the word that comes to mind every time an employee or a business has an excuse. Why is a project not completed? The deadline was not realistic. Why is a website not ranking in search engines? The cost involved is too great. The questions and excuses are never ending, but that doesn’t solve the issue that is on the table today.

It is the constraints that business owners connect with brand awareness that mean many SMEs throughout the UK are not necessarily avoiding brand awareness, but overlooking it completely. They assume that time and money invested in brand awareness can not be measured in terms of return on investment (ROI). Of course, when developing a cost-benefit analysis, ROI is important, so without a measurement, an analysis can not be developed.

Brand awareness is slightly different to a marketing campaign that is designed to promote or sell a product. Brand awareness is creating awareness within a demographic about a brand and its products. This helps potential consumers to assign a certain value to these products. Ideally, the brand and the products on offer are the first things that this potential consumer is going to think of when they are need of a product, without seeing a direct advertisement.

Effective brand awareness takes time, money and strategy, but is it really worth it? For those that are looking for a few sales on eBay, no. That being said, for those people that have a vision of creating a leading brand in their industry, brand awareness engagement is something that should be considered part of their every day business activities.

In fact, starting to create a brand image might not be as complex, expensive, or time consuming as many people might imagine. Even well designed banners, located in the right places can start to implant a seedling into the brain of a consumer that can grow into something of high value. The more diverse brand awareness strategies become, the more a customer will relate to that product. Look at the likes of Coca-Cola and Red Bull, both brands that are well known by people across the globe; thanks to brand awareness.

Let’s assume a brand is a manufacturer of extreme sports casual wear. By visiting extreme sports events and consistently placing banners at these events, they will start to create awareness for their brand. They might not be able to instantly and effectively measure the ROI of their efforts, but the end result is that next time a potential consumer walks into a retailer, that stocks their products, they are likely to look twice, knowing that they have “seen that brand before”.

The impact of that initial sighting of the brand is not really measurable. The potential consumer gets in the spirit, at an event relating to their passion, they see the advertisement and assign this with their passion. From here they see the product in a store, buy it and who knows how many like minded people buy the same product as a result of a positive review?

Would You Like To Make Your Business More Successful, Risk-Free?

As a business owner how would you like to:

Do more of what works and eliminate what doesn’t?

Create and implement a successful marketing strategy?

Establish a positive and productive working environment?

Deliver a consistently higher Return On Investment?

A professional business consultant can help you achieve all these things and much more.

Every successful business needs a workable marketing strategy at its core. The problem is, some companies waste endless time and money creating random strategies and projects that never go anywhere. Even assuming they do get off the ground eventually, they will not provide a return on investment worthy of the resources spent on them.

This is where the services of a qualified professional can really pay dividends: Someone who can demonstrate many years experience, who boasts a portfolio of successful projects to show you, and a network of readily available contacts who can use their know-how to drive your business forward quickly.

More than likely your advisor (or an associate) will already have gained considerable knowledge of your industry and will be able to set you on the right track from Day 1.

Whether you need help with creating a business plan, writing a bid or grant application, planning an exhibition, internet marketing – or perhaps you’re not exactly sure what you need help with – only that you do. Either way, a specialist advisor can help steer your business in the right direction using proven strategies, without wasting precious time on ‘maybes’.

Don’t leave the future of your business to chance. Any direction could be the wrong one if you don’t know where you are aiming at. A top-notch business consultant will look at your business with a fresh perspective and a keen insight. He or she will identify problems which could halt your growth, while unearthing opportunities to exploit new and existing markets.

How does that sound? Exciting? A tad overwhelming?

You will naturally be concerned about getting value for money, as you would be when hiring any professional advisor or service. So if you are worried that budgeting for business advisory services could be a problem, seek out the kind of business consultant you only pay for upon ‘agreed results successfully delivered’.

If you’re thinking this kind of consultant doesn’t exist, let me assure you he does – though it’s somewhat rare.
This is the kind of proven confidence you will want to inject into your business and marketing strategies from now on.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Drive More Customers To Your Website With Google AdWords

The world’s most popular and powerful search engine is currently Google. When business owners talk about getting their website onto Page 1, they generally mean Google.
So what kinds of businesses could benefit from a Google AdWords campaign?

Basically, any business that has a website. And these days, if you are in business, frankly you need a website.

The really great thing about using AdWords to bring more visitors to your site is ‘relevance’.  You will know that the people who come to your site having clicked on your ad are genuinely interested in what you have to offer. That’s because they entered your keyword or phrase in the search box – and your ad matched! And of course, you only pay when someone actually clicks on your ad, not each time it appears in the listings. The clue being in the name: Pay Per Click, or PPC.

Once your account has been set up and your strategy determined, your first ad(s) can be up and running within the hour. Assuming your campaign has been research properly it should quickly pay for itself in terms of additional enquiries and sales.

The first thing you will need to do is to identify the main keywords and phrases people might typically use to find your business online. Who is your ideal customer? Where do they live? Are they mainly local to your business? Or might they be national, or international? What is their age group? Does what you do or sell have a gender bias? What sort of websites, blogs or forums does your ideal customer frequent? How do they access the internet primarily? Is it via a PC, or is it more likely to be via a tablet or mobile phone?

Once you have built up a mental image of your ideal customer, it’s time to decide how much funding you will allocate to your ad campaign per month and how much you are prepared to bid for a particular keyword or phrase. Google’s keyword tool and keyword question tool can help you identify the sort of keywords and phrases your target audience is most likely to use to find a business like yours. This can be an ideal starting point.

To those in the know, Pay Per Click can be an extremely cost-effective way to run an advertising campaign, regardless of your budget. However it can prove expensive to dabble in if you aren’t sure what you are doing. Outsourcing your ad campaign to an AdWords professional will inevitably save you time and prevent costly errors that could blight your success.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

How To Use Keywords In SEO

SEO is the process of increasing the online visibility of a website by improving its search engine rankings. This incorporates a number of elements, but as any internet marketing company will tell you, using the right keywords effectively is the cornerstone of any SEO strategy. Once you have identified the right keywords to suit your company you are on your way to boosting your online presence.

So how do you go about choosing these all-important keywords? The first step is to do some keyword research within your target market. Find out the kinds of terms potential clients are most likely to type into search engines, and then whittle these down to which are most suited to your own company.
Also, consider whether you are going to use broad or targeted keywords, or a combination of the two. Broad keywords will tend to describe what your company does as a whole so they are likely to net you in more visitor overall. However, targeted keywords may get you higher percentages of conversion rates (when a visitor is ‘converted’ into a paying customer) because they are relating to more specific products and services. A customer has to actually be searching for a certain product to find your website so they are more likely to buy it.

Once you’re worked out which keywords are likely to work best for you, think about where you will need to place them. The most obvious place is in the keyword Meta Tag which can be found in your website’s html head section. Your keywords should be placed here in the order of importance, from largest to smallest.

Keywords should also be distributed throughout your web copy. Bear in mind that search engines tend to pay the most attention to the first 200 words on a page, so make sure the words are used here.  They can also be used within headings and anchor text (link text) to help boost search engine rankings.

There are certain ‘don’ts’ when it comes to keywords as well. For one thing, you should always use a keyword density checker to make sure you are within the appropriate boundaries. ‘Keyword stuffing’, as the over-use of keywords within a website is known, is frowned upon by search engines and you can be penalised for it. Also, if you decide to place your words in anchor text, such as an image link, do make sure it is relevant and appropriate to the context.

Learning to use keywords effectively can be difficult at first. If you need help getting started, it could be worth using the temporary services of an internet marketing consultant. You will be able to find plenty of these in online business directories, but just make sure you check their credentials thoroughly and get recommendations before you hire them.

How To Find An SEO Company

If you have been trying to manage SEO for your business for some time and just don’t seem to be getting anywhere, it could be time to hire an SEO company. Boosting your search engine rankings can be time-consuming at the best of times, but if your approach is less than successful it can be demoralising as well. Frankly, your time might well be better spent running the areas of your business you know well, whilst you leave the online marketing to the experts.

But once you’ve made up your mind once and for all to invest in internet marketing expert SEO advice, how on earth do you go about finding a company that is worthwhile hiring? It is true to say that the rise of the online marketing expert since the Internet became an everyday fact of life has been paralleled by the rise of their less salubrious cousins – the marketing companies which purport to be ‘experts’  but in fact simply want to make a quick killing and move on to the next victim.

To avoid the latter and find the former, the first piece of advice we would give you is to seek a recommendation from a friend or business acquaintance. If somebody you know and trust has used an SEO company and their search engine rankings have significantly improved as a consequence, this is a company you can safely consider hiring. If you don’t know anyone who has used this kind of service, take to a reputable online webmaster forum to get advice from other users.

Even so, you should still visit each potential company to speak to the person who will be managing your SEO strategy. At this time, there are several questions you should be asking them. For example, ask to see examples of sites they have optimised along with the proof that their rankings have indeed been improved. Be wary if they promise you a number one ranking – no SEO expert, no matter how talented, can ever guarantee this. Just think of all the competition out there, all working to optimise their online rankings. To say they can ‘guarantee’ you will come out ahead of all these every time is just plain ridiculous and reeks of charlatanism.

Check out their website too: are they ranked highly? Ask what their keywords are and see whether their site appears when you type these in. If they can’t even optimise their own site well enough to get high rankings they are not worth wasting your time and money on. Ask lots of questions about the methods they use, and ensure they don’t use any ‘black hat’ tricks. (It’s worth researching what these are so you can ask questions with a little more confidence).

Above all, don’t hire anybody unless they are really prepared to listen to what you have to say. They should be interested in your company and want to find a strategy that is tailored to your own needs. Don’t go for anyone who wants to fob you off with a ‘one size fits all’ approach. You should also compare their prices, but don’t automatically go for the cheapest one.

Before you sign anything, it’s very important to get all costs agreed up-front so they don’t try to add in any hidden extras further down the line when it’s too late.  Lastly, bear in mind that your SEO may need maintenance as trends change, so it’s perhaps worth finding a company that offers ‘post-optimisation’ services in the mix as well.