We’d like to welcome Mike Alawi to our team. He joined us last month as Marketing Project Executive. Here is a blog that he put together for you. Who else wants to be a more successful business? We know we do!
1. Provide outstanding customer service
To excel in customer service, you and your staff need to know the ins and outs of your product or service. You should know common questions that your customers ask and how to respond competently and effectively. Staff training in this area is important. Listen and be responsive. Ask for feedback, ensuring that you use feedback positively. Identify areas for improvement and make specific changes in your business. Let your customers know that you implemented their suggestions and/or acted on feedback. I recently read an article about a Starbucks customer that called into the company’s corporate offices after a mix up with a branch. Instead of simply giving him a refund, the customer service representative told Jason that they needed to “make him whole and give him an experience nothing short of fantastic.” They then filled his rewards card with $50 of store credit. Way to go Starbucks!
2. Help your customers do their jobs better
Content marketing provides B2B customers with handy information which can assist in their organisation’s day to day tasks. Companies that write regularly have seen up to 3X more website traffic and 4.5X more sales leads. There is increased brand reach that creates long-term business relationships, which could generate more sales leads for your company. The more consistently high quality content you offer your audience, the more likely they are to return to your site as a trusted source. Ericsson, a multinational networking and telecommunications company, provided 5 life hacks for working in the corporate world on the blog section of their website.
3. Create more than one price point
It’s a good idea to test different pricing brackets. Let’s say you offer three prices for different levels of a product or service. One priced low, another with all the bells and whistles, and a mid-market price. This range widens the reach of your audience and opens a gateway to new customers, or a premium price on the other end of the scale for those who want the full package. Amazon nailed this strategy with their shipping options. They offer express next day delivery for £4.49, standard 3-day delivery for £1.99 or free no rush delivery in 3-5 days. Each price is aimed at customers with different requirements, expectations and budgets.
4. Be the first to inform your customers of new trends
Everyone wants to be kept in the loop with latest trends. Being first to inform your customers of new trends will increase your credibility as a source of relevant, up-to-date information. It attracts more potential customers to your online and offline channels and results in a positive impression of your brand. People will then regularly look to you for new content making you stand out from the crowd as a successful business.
5. Give your brand a human face by having conversations
Giving your brand a personality that people can relate to allows you to reach more people effectively. Talk about your products, talk about your industry and latest trends. People appreciate content that engages with their interests and makes them feel at ease with a brand. Grüum, a company that specialises in custom shaving kits tell their brand story well. They write about how four friends from Manchester decide to quit their jobs, invest their savings and take on a multi-billion dollar industry. When you buy from Grüum, your first purchase comes with a small note from the founders themselves thanking you for your purchase.
6. Develop multiple ways to get in touch with you
In addition to picking up the phone, maximise the use of multiple channels such as social media, chatbots and events to provide potential customers with more touchpoints with your business. You will also reach a wider audience. Use your website as a hub but engage with your target audience on relevant social media platforms, through networking and selected events.
7. Focus on being the best at the ONE thing that really matters to your target market
Whatever you specialise in, ensure that you can be the best at it so that your stand out from your competitors. It could be your customer service, your cutting edge technology, your flexible pricing or the great events that you host. It might even be your deliberate and continued support for your local community. Being fantastic is one aspect of your service gives you a distinct competitive advantage that becomes difficult for others to copy. These are just some of the ways that you could build a better, more successful business that you can be proud of.
You’ve probably figured out that I’m crazy about great content. I believe in the importance of content. That’s why I’m always looking for ways to support start-ups and SMEs in writing more and better content. So, when I came across a recent WIRED.CO.UK article on the hottest start-ups in London, I got curious about what their “content life”. I’ve been busy curating content and blog post ideas for you.
Start-ups like Monzo, Digital Shadows, Ravelin and mum-tech, Let’s Mush did not fail me. They have been doing their content homework – yay! The result is these 12 blog post ideas from London’s hottest start-ups. I hope you’ll try one each month of 2018.
Monzo is a Fintech company that prides itself on building a bank for the business community. Its website has a strong identity, in addition to blogging a couple of times a week.
Blog post idea 1: Give a Rundown of Your To-do List
On Monzo’s blog, it has a rundown of the company’s to-do list. This includes what they want to achieve for their customers and creates anticipation for new features, events and technology.
Nested is a Property technology company. It has made the property sector fresh and fun, calling themselves: “The estate agents with a difference”.
Blog post idea 2: Publish Customer Stories & Reviews
A whole section of their website is dedicated to customer stories. They get pictures and data from the customer and put together the story. Data includes how long it takes to receive an offer for their house and the % valuation that they eventually get on the sale.
Digital Shadows – As a leader in digital risk and cybersecurity, this start-up uses content to show credibility and build trust with target customers. They have a well-established blog with around 250 blog posts written so far and a resource centre with several whitepapers and data-backed reports.
Blog post idea 3: Deep dive into Your Expertise
Digital Shadows oozes credibility through their web content. They go deep into trending topics such as GDPR and cybersecurity. Their detailed reports are easy to download and do not require you to provide an email address. But they leave you wanting to give it to them anyway!
Let’s Mush is an app that helps mums make local mum friends, like a Tinder for mums. It is in a group of apps sometimes referred to as “mum-tech” or “parent-tech”. The app has a growing community in the US, Canada and Australia.
Blog post idea 4: Address a Common Pain Point
There are a number of useful and humorous articles on the Let’s Mush blog. The writers have a nice way of tackling everyday challenges of being a mother. As a mother myself, I totally relate to these posts. Addressing common pains is a great way to engage with an audience on a deeper level.
Starship Technology is a company building a network of robots. Its founders are the co-founders of Skype, Janus Friis and Ahti Heinla. They are well-funded and they have already run several tests all over the world.
Blog post idea 5: Re-post Third-Party Press Releases
These guys skip straight to third-party articles that mention them. Wired, The Telegraph and London’s Evening Standard are just some of the places that have written about this innovative start-up. The Starship Press page publishes the first two lines of the articles and then points visitors to the full article on the original third-party website. If you don’t like to write/have time to write but you are getting a fair bit of media coverage, this is one way to go!
Seenit is a content tech startup that helps users to curate stories via their app. With clients like Unilever and Adidas, the company is revolutionizing video story-telling with a combination of community and technology.
Blog post idea 6: Showcase Customers Using Your Product
By the nature of their product, Seenit has tons of content from customers using the product. Customers submit their stories, videos and behind-the-scenes scoop. It appears that this kind of content is so popular that Seenit has separate pages for blogs and stories. There are stories from organisations such as Adidas, The Body Shop. The National Lottery and BBC Three. If you have big name clients, this could really work.
Blog post idea 7: Create a Guide
One of the many things that Seenit is good at is helping its users get the most out of the product. Its blog has a number of “Guide” posts like this one, Playlist of Guides to Story Writing and Telling, which offers more value to users and gets them really making the best use of the Seenit platform.
Smarkets is a betting exchange that allows its users to bet against each other. I was impressed with the variety of content that this start-up has curated on their blog. They come across as experts, not just in betting but in software development and data science.
Blog post idea 8: Capture What Happens Behind the Scenes
This company often publishes blogs that give you a good idea of what it would be like to work there. They also introduce new employees via blog posts. One of my favourite posts is from June this year where their Head Chef, Tony, was interviewed about a day in his life at work. Nevermind the blog post – I was like, “They’ve got a chef?! I want to work there!”
Habito is an online mortgage broker that wants to make it easier to apply for a mortgage. In January this year, the start-up raised £5.5 million in a Series A round led by Ribbit Capital.
Blog post idea 9: State a Statistic, Then Pose a Question
This blog has great content and advice for homebuyers. In particular, they state a statistic related to their industry and then ask if the reader is part of that statistic. For instance, 43% of Mortgage Holders Paid More This Week – Did You? is a blog that asks if the reader is part of a statistic and then provides 7 ways to get a better deal to avoid paying more. It’s an eye-catching title and the subsequent content is valuable for those looking for a good remortgage deal.
Ravelin is a fraud detection platform that “never stops learning”. Its clients include Deliveroo and Easy Taxi. The platform reduces fraud incidences by more than 50%.
Blog post idea 10: Start a Podcast Series
This company writes regular content. But I was particularly fascinated by their podcast series, which hails as the only podcast series that is focused on helping their customers understand the issues of fraud, chargebacks and payments. It is a well-resourced and established podcast. Experts from KPMG, Office of National Statistics and MMC Ventures are just some of the people who have featured on the podcast.
Blog post idea 11: Review New Technology in Your Industry
I got double ideas from Ravelin. Yes, that good! They reviewed Google Cloud Platform on their blog, explaining why they have embraced it at Ravelin. There is also a link to the full case study, which is on the Google Cloud Platform website. If you use third-party tools and you love it, consider collaborating on a case study. The exposure, goodwill and value is a triple whammy!
Hibob is a cloud-based HR management software with the strapline, ” Shaping the future of HR”. The online HR hub wants to change the outdated deposition of HR departments. The start-up recently raised £19.5 million in Series A funding and has expanded to the US.
Blog post idea 12: Offer Helpful Tips & Tricks
True to their mission, Hibob has a wealth of tips for HR teams and professionals. On its blog, you will find posts from a range of topics such as how to attract and retain talent, successful onboarding and scaling up company culture. Their purpose is clearly to support HR teams and they do this well through a prolific company blog.
These are the kinds of content that the hottest start-ups are producing. Every single start-up on the list had a form of dynamic, regular content on their website. Content marketing helps to increase brand awareness and credibility. It can educate, motivate, convert and support your customers.
If you have limited time and resources to regularly write on your company blog, get in touch with the team at YO! Marketing today by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about our unique content writing services for businesses. We are technical and we are writers.
Personally, I love video marketing for two reasons:
- They quickly communicate ideas
- They make me connect on a much deeper level compared to text on a page
But don’t take my word for it. There are some incredible stats about online videos. For instance, over half a billion people watch a video on Facebook every day. Do you realise how many people that is? That is 8.3% of the people on earth!
Video marketing increases trust in your brand.
Recent stats show that 43% of people want to see more video content from marketers and over half of marketing professionals say video gives the best ROI.
- Forbes stats: https://www.forbes.com/sites/tjmccue/2017/09/22/top-10-video-marketing-trends-and-statistics-roundup-2017/#1faa4cd77103
- Hubspot stats: https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/video-marketing-statistics
- Socialmediatoday stats: https://www.socialmediatoday.com/social-business/50-social-media-video-marketing-stats-2017-infographic
“If you’re not using video marketing as part of your marketing strategy, you are losing out big time”
For start-ups, videos are a great way of connecting with your audience with engaging content. You don’t need fancy equipment – a camera phone and some good lighting are all you need. Videos can humanise your founder/CEO, showcase new clients or promote testimonials from existing ones. You can reveal your workspace, your team and your partners. Facebook Live, Instagram Live and LinkedIn Video make on-platform videos so easy, anyone can do them – just hit live!
Stuck for content ideas? Then give us a buzz for an inspiring chat. As a final stats treat, check out this infographic from Website Builder – 127 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Video Marketing
Starting a new business is exciting and frustrating at the same time. It’s exciting because of the possibilities but you often don’t know how or whether you will succeed in building a viable business. Fortunately, there are several digital marketing tips that can support your marketing efforts.
Digital Marketing Tips: Lead Generation
You can make assumptions about who will buy from you but you never really know. One way to convert new sales is to build a website and install Google Analytics (GA) on it. GA provides information about website visits such as pages that visitors read and how they arrive there.
For instance, you might find that most of your traffic comes from Twitter or from organic searches. You might also find that your website visitors spend more time on one type of content compared to another and fill out as contact form asking for more information thereafter. This means you have converted a website visitor into your sales funnel using content on your site.
Digital Marketing Tips: Strategies
The strategy that you employ depends on what you want to achieve. Start by creating an awareness of the problem that you want to solve for your customers. Often, your target customers know that there is a problem but they are unable to define it.
Another strategy could be to retain and deepen the relationship that you have with existing customers. Your marketing activities will differ in this instance. For example, you could provide more long-term customer support, incentivize repeat business or start regular webinars that arm your customers with tips and tricks for optimising their purchase.
Digital Marketing Tips: Competitor Knowledge
Many start-ups ignore the competition or they believe that they don’t have any competition. Online access presents a vast world of information about your competition, similar products and trends. Learn from your competitors.
Find out which social media platforms that they are most engaged with and see who their followers are. What is working for them and where could they improve? Always thrive to create a distinct competitive advantage rather than just copying your competitors.
Digital Marketing Tips: Creating a Budget
Planning a budget is difficult when you are starting a business. This is because you are not sure what is going to work to grow your sales pipeline. One of the best ways to create a focused budget is by choosing a strategy and executing it.
Experiment with different ways of generating brand awareness. Pick one or two social media platforms then manage them well, and ensure that you are measuring performance against your goals. Look at the sources of your web traffic and where your qualified leads originate from. Spend more in those areas.
Digital Marketing Tips: Planning for Growth
You need to be able to calculate what it costs you to acquire a customer. This is how you can forecast sales and grow. This cost is commonly called Cost of Customer Acquisition or COCA.
Here is an example of COCA using Facebook Ads. If your goal is 100 subscribers for your online course, you must first find out how many people need to click on your Facebook Ad in order to get 100 sign ups. Say your conversion rate is 1% on average. That means you need 10,000 people to click on your ad. If your cost per click on Facebook is roughly £0.20 (this varies from industry to industry and from ad to ad), it means you will spend £2,000 to acquire 100 subscribers. Therefore, your COCA is £20.
There is also the case of customer lifetime value or LTV. And that better be larger than your COCA otherwise you will not sustain your business long term. More on that in my next post.
Photo Credit: iStock photos/Getty Images
Photo courtesy ofGarrhet Sampson
Last year, I compiled 10 LinkedIn articles that inspire me as a start-up founder and entrepreneur.
The topics covered span from intellectual property, organisational culture and self-disruption. I have added my key takeaways for 2017, a good reminder for me as the year reaches a halfway point.
Varun Batra discusses the pitfalls of choosing the wrong tech-stack at the onset of your tech startup. He explains that the focus of an entrepreneur should be getting an MVP out in the shortest possible time. Two ways to work smarter: Stick with one or two technologies or Start with one or two technologies. Reading time: 3-5 minutes
This is an insightful article for any entrepreneur with an idea. Intellectual property (IP) can appear complex but Akeem Famuyiwa does a good job of explaining the different kinds of IP, licensing and how structuring a licensing deal can have significant impact on long term business growth. Reading time: 5-7 minutes
Talk about a timely article! This article came up in my feed at a time when I was making decisions about building a minimum viable product. Ajay Shrivastava talks about speed, technology and agility. Must read if you’re building anything for customers. Reading time: 7-10 minutes
I failed to save the part one of this article but you can find it here. The second part of the article follows on to discuss how to pass the tipping point. Passing the tipping point is crucial for market growth. Hans Peter Bech gives great insight into how to increase market share using techniques like customer segmentation and facilitating your buyers’ journey. Great read as you make inroads into your target market. Reading time: 7-10 minutes
Sarah Goodall wrote this article in November 2016, and it is one of my favourites. I’m a huge fan of enabling organisational culture because I think too many companies leave culture to chance. Sarah discusses how organisations can develop a ‘growth’ mindset (and move away from a ‘fixed’ mindset). She touches on learning through failure, continuous feedback and flatter organisational structures. Reading time: 5-7 minutes
Janeen Judah is the 2017 SPE (Society of Petroleum Engineers) President. In this article, she called for a Startup Village/Fair at conferences such as ATCE. The oil and gas industry is overdue for innovative disruption. Therefore, this is exactly the kind of idea that should be getting overwhelming support. Reading time: 3-5 minutes
Following on from my love for great organisational cultures, this article challenges the idea of value statements, an approach that Stefan Norrvall notes is ineffective if they are not linked to the behaviours, systems and symbols within an organisation. Particularly in cases where values change often. What’s the point? I agree, Stefan! Leaders must walk-the-talk for the talk to be real. Reading time: 5-7 minutes
This intriguing title engaged people like me, people who are developing products that will eventually need a product manager. Suhaas Kaul discusses the difference between a good product manager and a great one. You want a great product manager as a merely good one is simply not good enough. Reading time: 7-10 minutes
On the topic of products and what makes great ones, David Fradin’s book appears insightful. The book is on my reading list for this year (I will get to it). According to Uday Kumar, the book is dedicated to enhancing the chances of product success and reducing product failure. Reading time: 3-5 minutes
I recently came across Whitney Johnson, a leading management thinker, author and host. This article is fantastic if you are an entrepreneur who wants to make a real difference. Whitney’s examples are inspiring. Do you want to fill a niche with your strengths? Do you learn from failure? Then read this, oh, and follow her podcast, ‘Disrupt Yourself Podcast’. It promises brilliance! Reading time: 7-10 minutes
Key takeaways for 2017
- Start with the minimum until you have find what your customers want.
- Look for a niche market where you can gain market share using your distinctive strengths.
- As an entrepreneur, always be thinking about your company’s culture from day one and ensure your systems, behaviours, processes and leadership team align.
- Your product or technology is the core of your business so get advice on the right IP to protect it.
- Innovation will keep you ahead in the market, regardless of industry. Be ready to disrupt even yourself.
A version of this article was originally published on LinkedIn on 31 December 2016
Marketing is often on the bottom of the list for small businesses, and I understand that. The priority is usually to get business as quickly as possible, yet things like building a website tend to be nice-to-haves in some cases. I run a marketing consultancy but I haven’t been immune to the reluctance to spend on “marketing stuff”. In this article, I will highlight 10 essential yet cost-effective marketing tips for even the smallest budgets. These tips will help you build a foundation for your business. Many will cost you nothing, but they will make a significant impact in growing your business long term.
Cost-effective marketing tips for small businesses
1. Email Marketing
If you have a contact list of potential customers, email marketing could be a good way of letting them know about your business. You could start with a small list of people that know you and would not mind getting your email. For this, you don’t need an email marketing service. You could just use your email provider. Remember to keep your contacts’ emails in Bcc so that you don’t share their email addresses with your entire list. As your list grows, consider email providers like MailChimp, Mad Mimi and MailerLite. These all have free plans. The paid plans cost as little as £7 a month if you grow to a list of over 1,000 subscribers. If you get to that point, well done!
2. Business cards
Giving out your business card is a simple way of telling people what you do and how they can reach you. Thanks to companies like Vistaprint, you can get 500 business cards for £15. Other options are Fiverr, an online marketplace for your digital needs. Someone can design your card for as little as £3, and then you could print it elsewhere. I don’t recommend going too ‘cheap and cheerful’ with your business cards but don’t spend too much on it either. I changed my mind about my tag line a couple of times and that meant new business cards. Luckily, they didn’t cost much so I was able to make new cards to reflect my business’ value. Remember that as you evolve, your business will too. Make provisions for the changes that you might make.
3. Networking events
Networking events could cost anything from nothing to hundreds of pounds. The trick is to find those events that are relevant to your industry. When attending a networking event, don’t be shy to give away your business card. But also don’t worry too much about how much business you will get at the event. It could hinder you from just having a good time. You could be pitching all night! I’ve started to see networking events as an opportunity to just be known, help people put face to name. If new clients come as a result, fantastic!
4. CRM systems
When you think about CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems, you might imagine a complex database that does things that as a small business, you are not ready for. However, CRM systems are essential to build your business. One of the first things I did was get Highrise, a simple CRM tool that allows me enter details of new contacts, potential and existing clients. Within Highrise, I can maintain details of all potential and existing client interactions, from first contact to conversion. Needless to say, Highrise is free for businesses with less than 250 contacts. It increases to roughly £15 a month for up to 5,000 contacts. Another CRM system for small business is HubSpot CRM. It’s free, but I haven’t tried. If you have, let me know what you think!
Gone are the high costs of building a website. Tools like WordPress.org and Wix make it easy for novices to build a website. I built my first website a year ago, and it was my steepest learning curve yet! I plan to improve it with expert intervention soon, but as a small business owner, spending on a luxury website might not be an option. But you need a website. You also need to make it SEO-friendly so that potential clients find you for relevant services. These days, a decent website costs from £500 if you contracted a website designer. Try your hands on building one yourself but get feedback. One advantage I’ve found from building my own website is that I have access to the back admin and can always change elements of the site myself. This is invaluable for a business that is growing and evolving daily.
Blogging is even easier than building a website. Without a full blown website, you could use platforms like Blogger and WordPress.com to start writing blogs about your industry, and your solution. You could invite guest bloggers, people who have complementary expertise or a unique view about a subject that your target audience might be interested in. Blogging is free, and a good way to be online and findable. Not blogging about your business is like being on mute in a customer meeting. Why are you there??
7. Social media
We all know it doesn’t cost anything to be on social media. But it might cost a little to be heard above the noise. Still, you could do a lot with £3 on Facebook. The key is to truly understand your target audience and where they hang out. If your clients are not on Twitter, you don’t need to be there. If your small business works with other businesses, a LinkedIn business page could be powerful. Spend time testing different social media channels and see what brings the most engagement. Also consider how much time you have to spend on these channels. For instance, LinkedIn and Facebook tend to require less time while Instagram and Twitter are about constant engagement i.e. 5-8 posts a day for real impact.
8. Google Analytics
Google Analytics is another free tool that every business website should have. It allows you see the sources of traffic to your website, and provides analytics on your website visitors. Google Analytics will show you how many visitors come from social media channels, and from organic searches via keywords. This was valuable for me as I contemplated which social media channel to invest in. For instance, LinkedIn brings over 40% of my social media traffic with Twitter as a close second. However, organic searches is by far the greatest source of traffic to my website. Therefore, I might decide to invest in Google Ads for specific keywords.
PR used to be left to Public Relations experts. But with social media and fantastic new tools like PingGo, PR has been democratised. For £30 a month, you can write your own press release anytime you want! So if you win a new client, expand your business or launch a new product, use PR to tell your story. Identify relevant news outlets and start telling the world the good news.
Not all businesses will benefit from brochures because so much of marketing has gone online. Yet, I believe this shift has made brochures a novelty, and it could be intriguing to receive a brochure from a small business. The less we expect something, the more positive impact it could have on your customers. You get their attention. A well-designed 8-page brochure that simply lays out your value proposition, key products and services, pricing and contact details is a good idea. You could leave it in cafes, doctor surgeries, office receptions etc. It will cost from £150 to get one designed. Assuming you provide all the copy and images, all you have to do is print it. Online printers like instantprint could print 100 copies of a 8-pp from as little as £45 depending on size and paper quality.
Next time you think about marketing for your business, know that it doesn’t need to cost the earth with these cost-effective marketing tips.