Are you Getting the Results you need from Social Media? Five-part series

ImageThis is the first in a five-part series of articles which appears in www.thesussexnewspaper.com and which will help you to make and get the most out of your social media activity.

In this series, we look at what I call the four key pillars of social media currently used by businesses and how you could be working smarter, starting with Linked In…

Making Linked In Work Harder for you

Just to remind you, social media is about people and it’s about communication.  It’s about sharing information and opinions, being helpful and giving.  We as organisations must remember that we are not in control of what people say about us; all we can do is try to influence positively… More

What success have you had with using Linked In for marketing? Feel free to add a comment!

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Have you got it?

Learn more

The next Making Linked In work Harder workshop is in Brighton on 25 September, 09.30 – 13.00, £50 per person.

Email for more information and to book

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Your social media recipe – not a miraculous new phenomenon!

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People who know my philosophies on marketing know that I don’t believe social media is a miraculous new phenomenon.

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Social Media Recipe: You need more than one marketing ingredient!

From my perspective, it is an exciting new channel for communicating about your business and yes, there are some rules to abide by. Just as there are if you want to get your press advertising, PR or direct marketing right.  But past that, it’s not going to revolutionise our lives.

What I also believe is that social media won’t work alone. In the same way that advertising won’t work on its own. PR won’t work on its own and nor will direct marketing.  For some ideas on how to integrate your offline marketing with your social media, take a look at this article I penned for The Sussex Newspaper:

Social media recipe: Why integration matters and how to do it

How have you managed to get more followers/ likes and contacts?  what business are you in and what has worked for you?

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Branding & the Key to Success

The key to getting your brand established is to be consistent – in how your customers experience and hear about your brand and in how it looks visually. 

The principles behind why you set up the business in the first place need to filter through everything that you do, say and deliver. 

The experience your customers have of your brand stays with them.  If they enjoyed the experience and come back to you, this then becomes their expectation next time they do business with you.  

Your company identity is the marque of the trust and reliability you stand for and your customers will become familiar with it and will automatically reach for it.

It creates expectation, so make sure it looks good and it’s consistent across all your materials.

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Are you still asking what, why and how?

Join me and Sussex Business Bureau for a day on Social Media on 22nd June 2012.  There are still a few tickets available for this fascinating conference aimed at helping you get more out of your social media.

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Sussex Business Bureau Social Media Networking day, 22 June

Join us to hear about:

Planning a cohesive social media strategy for your business – I will take you through a few steps to help you work out what will work for you (see related article here)

Twitter and how to use it effectively for business with Zoe Cairns

QR codes and how you can use them in business with Emma Pearce

Trading in Difficult times with Gary Maskell

With so many expert speakers, you will no doubt leave with action points!  The day will also include some hefty opportunities for networking, so make it a day for your own business development and book now!

For more information, visit http://www.sussexbusinessbureau.co.uk/social-media-networking-day/

See you there!

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A wealth of experience, but do you know everything?

Chichester Chamber of Commerce has just completed their Enterprise Programme for Over 50s; a four week programme of workshops and coaching for those wanting to start their own business or become self employed.

Now, it’s not often I feel insecure about my marketing knowledge with two degrees and more than 16 years in marketing planning and management but the wealth of knowledge and experience in the room was humbling!

A brilliant programme, we had 15 people who signed up for the 4 week course of workshops and mentor support to establish an idea for a business, a business plan and the knowledge  and confidence to make it work.

Do you know what you need?

I was considerably younger than the delegates, but they had come to learn about marketing from me…  I felt very humble.  I questioned what I could teach them, but the reality is, we don’t all know everything. How can we?!

Some had phenomenal operations experience, some sales, HR, IT, creative and some had brilliant ideas – but all were victims of the recession and had been made redundant; probably replaced by cheaper and certainly less experienced people! (harsh, but fair…)

The truth was that in spite of their wealth of knowledge and experience, they didn’t all know everything about marketing.  That I could help with!

So the lesson in this blog post is that to ask yourself if you can really know and do everything?  You may be running your own business; worrying at night; rarely taking holidays; on the hamster wheel of getting in the business and delivering the business, with rarely a chance to take a breath.  But look around you.

Which hat are you wearing right now?

As a small business owner, you handle operations, finance, marketing, you’re also the main technician – oh, and don’t forget about the IT and the cleaning and then you might have time to make yourself a coffee!  Be realistic.  You can’t do everything and you can’t know everything. So let someone in to help.

Can someone help with your book-keeping? Help you with your business planning?  Perhaps you need some admin support?  And of course, there’s marketing – are you making the right decisions about your marketing? (I wouldn’t be a proper marketer if I didn’t plug this!)…

No one is expected to know everything about running a business.  So it is more cost effective to pay someone else to do something in half the time it is likely to take you. You’ll need to research what you’re supposed to do and then get on and do it – with no experience! By getting someone else who knows what they’re doing, you can get on with what you do best.

It’s worth considering, don’t you think?

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Organise your own ‘Topping Out’ ceremony!

I was invited to a client’s ‘Topping out’ ceremony on Friday and I made a few ‘notes to self’. 

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My last Topping Out ceremony as Marketing Manager – DLR extension to London City Airport in 2006!

For those looking blankly at the screen, the construction industry marks the achievement of putting the last beam in place on top of a newly built building.  It’s a get together to which key partners who have made the project possible are invited, plus a couple of local dignitaries and usually involves a glass of something and some nibbles.

The main note I made to myself is to mark achievements and celebrate more! Too often we just carry on plodding and forget to pat ourselves on the back when we’ve got a new client, finished a tough piece of work – or even reached a point in our business when we can recruit someone or take on a commercial lease; real rites of passage for a small business!

It’s so easy to get carried away by the momentum of running our business, as though we’re all running on a hamster wheel, and we rarely come up for air – and to see what we’ve achieved.

It’s ironic, as when I ran marketing teams in my past life, I was very conscious about congratulating my team, allowing celebration when we achieved a goal; got through a product launch; packed up after a 3 day exhibition or reached the end of a year-long marketing campaign.  Why do I not allow myself the same reward?

So, thanks to the topping out ceremony, I’ve decided I will mark achievements and celebrate more in my business – we all should!

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Remember to celebrate!

So please join me in raising a glass to my new part-time colleague, Limara Hassall, who started a couple of weeks ago and my new commercial premises, into which I’ll be moving later this month! Not only should you be congratulating yourself, but there’s a PR story in there…!

Happy Days!

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Why entering awards is a good thing – but only if you do it properly

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Think first

I had the interesting job of judging some regional business awards recently and I suffered such polar reactions to the standard of submissions, I had to write a blog post…  I was even taking notes for my blog whilst reading the applications! 

As a result, here’s a snapshot of tips if you’re considering entering your business into your local business awards …

Why you should enter awards

  • Entering awards puts you on people’s radar; they hear about and will look out for you in future
  • If you’re in the process of getting some business, getting an award will swing it
  • Entering awards makes your clients feel good about choosing to work with you
  • They make your staff feel wanted and worthwhile
  • They give you something to strive for
  • They give you a chance to question your own performance
  • They give you a chance to benchmark your business
  • They highlight your performance in the eyes of the local press or your industry/ sector, depending on which awards you’re entering

How to enter awards and waste your time and the judges’…

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Provide evidence

  • Don’t take them seriously
  • Don’t read up on them
  • Enter all the categories you think you qualify for
  • Send in one submission for all the categories
  • Give a vague story about your business
  • Provide no substance or evidence about your claims
  • Rely on customers to ‘vote’ for you or nominate you
  • Don’t bother calling back when the awards organisers offer you the chance to puff out your submission
  • Don’t consider who you’re up against

… Oh yes, I’m serious!  The number of submissions who didn’t even get discussed as the judges had all crossed them off for the same reasons was shocking – and more than anything, disappointing.  Even well established companies let themselves and their staff down by not giving these awards enough of their time.  If you don’t have time to take the submission seriously, don’t enter the awards.

Here’s how to enter them as a serious contender:

  1. Focus – Select a couple of categories in which you know you perform well. Don’t pick more than around 3 as you’re unlikely to win all of them, so pick your strongest
  2. Tailor – Tailor your submission to the category you’re entering. Don’t send a vague submission, with no relevance to the category you’re entering. Think about how you apply for a job you really want; it’s the same approach – it’s about persuasion.
  3. Substantiate – Substantiate your claims. It must be clear why you’re entering, that you believe you have a chance to win – make it easy for the judges to select you. Everyone has a good idea; everyone has testimonials. What makes you particularly good?
  4. Criteria – If no criteria have been set, create your own. Really think about what you do well as a business and that you have evidence to back up.
  5. Don’t refer – Don’t refer judges to other resources such as websites or videos; if you want them to look at something, provide the content in the submission pack – again, make it easy for them; they’re ploughing through dozens of submissions!
  6. Don’t assume – Amazingly some very big names make huge assumptions about their reputation and don’t take awards submissions seriously. Don’t assume you’re the best out there; it’s arrogant and naive.
  7. Don’t give up  – If you don’t get through this time ask for feedback from the judges. It is often not offered, but provided if requested. Make the most of that. Get your feedback and try again next time.

    Earn them and be proud!

There are always businesses which are undoubtedly good at what they do, but it might just not be the right time for them to win.  They may be too early on in their journey or they simply may have been up against a stronger candidate. Either way, it’s easy to identify those worth ‘keeping an eye on’ over the next year and if they enter again next year, with the right evidence, they’ll win.

Bonne chance, mes amis!  See you at the Awards Ceremony…

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