Thursday, 27 September 2012

Local Exhibitions Are Perfect For Remote Worker Networking

Finding a consistent stream of new clients can be a challenging prospect, particularly if you work from home. It’s all too easy to slip into your own daily routine and become overly-reliant on your website to pull in new leads, when what you should really be doing more of is getting out there and mingling with people who might need your services.

It’s no good waiting until your client list dries up completely before seeking out new prospects. It’s vital to build networking into your marketing armoury sooner rather than later.
Pop up display banners make great exhibition and networking tools as they are easy to transport and erect whenever you want to put your business on display. And when you think about it, exhibitions are all about creating awareness of your brand rather than hard selling.

The majority of conversions will be secured after the show anyway and successful business exhibitors report that it can take anything up to a year to turn those contacts into clients, dependant on what type of business you run and how far along the ‘buying cycle’ prospects are when you are introduced to them.

If you are an artist, inventor or entrepreneur who has discovered that the right kind of exhibition is not exactly on your doorstep, you could choose to set up your own one-day event at a local cafĂ©, hotel or wine bar. The DIY option has the advantage that you will be able to custom design the event exactly to your liking – plus there will be no competition in your midst! The downside is that it can be difficult to attract the right kind of people to this type of event and that if you get it wrong there will be nowhere to hide.

Another option you have is to team up with several non-competing local businesses. If for example you run a copywriting business, you could choose to team up with a graphic designer, a web developer and a PR expert and hold a get together for local businesses who might need advertising and marketing services. This can be a very successful way of gaining new clients.

Neil and Laura Westwood, owners of the company Magic Whiteboard, who secured funding from Theo Paphitis and Deborah Meaden on BBC’s Dragons’ Den, view exhibitions as an essential part of their ongoing marketing strategy. The couple recognise the importance of being able to demonstrate their products’ ‘wow!’ factor in front of an audience as the secret to making more sales.

Pop up display banners make it easy to promote your business ‘on the go.’ And the really smart thing about taking your business to a trade show or exhibition is that it is something you can profit from for years to come.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Could Facebook’s ‘Business Boost’ Initiative Benefit Your Small Business?

How does £80 worth of FREE Facebook advertising sound to you?

In May 2012 Facebook launched ‘Business Boost’ with the aim of helping UK small businesses make the most of its advertising platform. In fact, the programme is being rolled out in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, beginning with the UK and will enable 50,000 small businesses (in total) to claim their free advertising kits.

The more cynical amongst us may be saying: ‘Ha! They just want to get more businesses using Facebook – they’re tempting us with a sweetener.’ And of course there may an element of truth in this. But for those business owners currently contemplating setting up a Facebook Page anyway, it’s a win-win situation – and after all, Facebook is a proven advertising medium for businesses of all sizes.
You’ll be able to use Facebook’s free advertising alongside your regular marketing activities such as e-commerce, social media, direct mail, PR, and banners.

So how can you claim your goodies?

Well for starters you will need to have attracted a minimum of 50 fans to your FB Page to get £20 of free advertising credits. In addition, Facebook is offering an extra £60 worth of free ad credits to companies and businesses which add a further 100 fans to their Page over the course of the scheme. Kindly note, your business must be UK-based to qualify.

The Facebook Business Boost programme has attracted the support of the British Chambers of Commerce, who are running business breakfasts in six major UK cities this summer: Birmingham, Glasgow, London, Manchester, Sheffield and Sunderland, to offer free practical advice to business owners face-to-face.

A word of caution though: When you set up your Facebook Page it must be done through the ‘Local Business or Place’ channel. Use any of the other five possible categories to set up your Page and you will not qualify for this promotion. Unfortunately, if your FB Page is already established under one of the other categories you will not be able to change it. This presumably is a reasonable precaution to stop businesses changing their status simply to get their hands on the freebies!

Successful entrepreneurs these days are recognising the need to use a combination of online and offline media such as blogging, banners, PPC, social media and PR in order to drive their businesses forward, rather than remain reliant on one or two marketing activities.

If you want to participate in the Facebook Business Boost promotion you can sign up over at the Facebook Marketing Page. Facebook is also offering a range of live webinars to help you develop your marketing skills and maximise your business or brand’s potential.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Why Is Branding So Important?

Branding is the process of differentiating your company so it can be identified as distinct from your competitors on the market. Sadly, in today’s highly competitive marketplace it is no longer enough just to develop and produce outstanding products. It’s a fact that even more inferior goods can sell well if they are launched together with a slick branding campaign.

For many companies, creating a strong brand is so important that they will hire in a marketing company especially for that purpose. So what is it that makes branding so crucial? One of the main functions of strong branding is to build a trusting relationship with your client base. For example, think about Coca Cola, one of the world’s biggest known brands: Its logo is instantly recognisable so wherever consumers are in the world they will feel this is a product they can rely on. This is a huge power to have, and Coca Cola have achieved it through a careful branding strategy.

Secondly, of course, branding is intended to increase sales. Whilst strong products are important, it is not quite true that ‘a good product sells itself’. What sells a product is a good perception of it. Consumers tend to buy with their eyes, and it’s well known that they will make the majority of their purchasing decisions within around 10 seconds. If you are successful in creating a strong image for your product or service that appeals precisely to the needs of your target customers, good sales results are far more attainable.

So how do you begin to go about creating a strong brand? Firstly, you need to identify what is important to your customer base and what will appeal to them. Your branding message should be based around this. Also, isolate what is unique about your brand and think about how you can communicate this. What are your brand values? A memorable tag line can work wonders and the simpler it is, the better. Something like Gilette’s ‘The Best A Man Can Get’ has worked very well for the brand.
It’s a good idea to hire in some marketing expertise to help you in these initial stages.

Next, come up with a design theme and logo which can tie all products under the brand umbrella together. Not only will this make your brand stronger as a whole, it will also make new product launches easier as they will already be identified with an established name. After this, you should get your brand out there by any means you can – whether it’s television advertising, online, in printed media, attending trade fairs or one-off promotional events. Everything helps.

Finally, don’t just assume your work is done when the brand is launched. It’s essential to get regular feedback from your target market and be prepared to make adjustments if necessary. If your brand doesn’t seem to be building consumer confidence you have to look at where you’re going wrong.