MARKETING TIPS #5: Make your life easier with free apps and cloud collaboration tools

As a small business owner, you wear a lot of hats, juggling marketing and finances with sales and operations. Make your life easier with the right apps, either free or low cost.

William Buist from xTen suggests checking out Evernote for business cards and HootSuite for social media management.

Entrepreneur Taimur Khan recommends productivity app Skylightit.com – which can keep all your emails and documents in one place and make billing for your time quicker and easier.

Starting and running a small business has never been cheap or easy, and these apps make the process a bit simpler and more affordable. Accounting (Xero, Freshbooks, Sage) CRM (Capsule, Nimble) Marketing automation (Mailchimp, Campaign Monitor, etc), Documents, Presentations etc. (Office365, Google Apps) Mobile video chats (Hangouts, Facetime, Skype) mean that no matter where clients, consultants or suppliers are located you can collaborate and talk in real time, all from your smart phone.

Planning what you use and why, who else needs access and when, are key strategic questions. 2015 is the year these tools really deliver directly to your bottom line.

Back to Marketing Tips #4

More information on our PR and Media Skills Course at your business

MARKETING TIPS #4: Use mobile payment for more secure transactions

With Apple finally introducing its long-awaited Apple Pay to the UK in 2015 it’s likely we’ll see a lot of changes, 2015 may even be the year of the digital wallet.

Customers are increasingly wary about using their credit cards and are seeking safer solutions. Plus, for small businesses, paying a per-use-fee for every credit card transaction can take a real cut out of the bottom line. Apple Pay, and other payment solutions that will follow, will disrupt the payment markets. Why? Because encrypted digital wallets are the solution. Digital wallets authorize payments for a specific amount and are available anywhere, thanks to smartphones. Plus, mobile payments allow in-the-field employees to complete sales on the spot.

2015 means changing and expanding the payment options your customers have, so that you can work their way.

Back to Marketing Tips #4

MARKETING TIPS #3: Improve website calls-to-action

SEO has been one of the hottest, must-do marketing tactics for any small business over the last few years. However, according to William Buist of xTen, great SEO can only take your website so far. Making it to the top of Google’s organic search list, or generating traffic with ads, won’t do your business any good if visitors don’t actually convert into customers. When it comes to improving your call-to-action, most businesses don’t need a dramatic overhaul; it could be as simple as tweaking the size, colour and location of your Call To Action (CTA) button or slightly altering your messaging.

Look at your click-through rates (CTR), bounce rates and page views to determine where in the sales process potential customers are leaving your website. Do you rank highly in Google search results but have a low conversion of visitors to customers?

Can customers find the information they need? Do they start to buy but not complete? Do you have subscribers but no conversations or engagement? Improving your calls to action is the first step to addressing these problems and converting more prospects into customers.

It’s not something you can leave – you need to measure and test, and change seeking always to improve and learn from what happens. Having a clear strategy for what to test and taking the actions to do it matter.

See also Marketing Tips #1 Implement a Strategic Content Marketing Plan and #2 Revamp your Social Media Strategy

See also our Sales and Marketing Skills Courses

Marketing Tips #2: Revamp your social media strategy

Are your tweets and Facebook posts hanging somewhere in social media cyberspace or are you actually connecting with your customers? While Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn continue to dominate the social media world, depending on your business, Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr and SlideShare are equally important social platforms.

William Buist, founder of xTen, believes that an effective social media strategy starts with a clear understanding of which networks are most relevant for your customers and clients. Jut like with content marketing, social media marketing requires a clear plan-of-action.

So, how do you know if your social media strategy is missing the mark? Look beyond the number of Twitter followers and Facebook likes and focus on engagement and amplification metrics. What makes content “go viral” or generate leads? Social media marketing, like content marketing drives leads to you by building awareness, attracting interest, and cultivating relationships. If your Twitter feed is a constant stream of promotional sales posts, you need to re-think your strategy. Potential customers and clients are more likely to favourite and re-tweet your posts when you share information that’s relevant and meaningful to their daily life, and then prompt them to click on a link in your tweet to learn more.

For example, tweet a surprising new stat from a new industry study and your brief analysis of this stat along with an invitation to learn more (that links back to your company blog). Keep an eye on your amplification metrics (e.g., re-tweets, shares, re-pins, etc.); these metrics are a clear sign your content is resonating with your target audience and that your social media strategy is working.

If you need help with your social media strategy then call us on 01423 861122 or email us at info@ripleytraining.co.uk and we will ask one of our experts to call you.

Once you get your strategy right and need help in developing your selling skills then look at our many sales courses available for in-company delivery and/or accessing one of our scheduled courses.

Link back to Marketing Tips #1

See also Marketing Tips #3 Improve Website Call-to-Action

Stop important tasks falling through the cracks

Whether you are a sole trader or manage a team of dozens, you need to ensure that the work that needs doing gets done – correctly and on time.

So how do you prevent the important (and even the not-so-important) tasks falling through the cracks?

Mike Smith from Ripley Training recommends:

1) Delegate to your team

Share the load with your team and stretch your team members with new challenges – motivate your team members to new heights. It can actually be that simple if you are willing to let go and show trust in your team.

2) Recognise the tasks you `like’ doing that do not maximise your skills

Recognise the `like’ jobs you have not delegated so they passed across to your team members.

3) Consider who is the best person to take on the role – skilled in this area or someone your wish to challenge/develop

Before you start recruit, ensure you outline the essential and desirable attributes of the ideal person.

4) Ensure you plan to delegate the work by a specific date

These are a few simple steps to ensure you’re in touch with your team:

1. Define with the outcome in mind
2. Set clear deadline(s) for everything you delegate
3. Ensure the team member has understood the task by asking them to summarise back to you
4. Agree regular touch points with the person to ensure the work is progressing
5. Utilising technology, use either an online project management tool or a spreadsheet that can be updated by the person and viewed by yourself to get updates on progress

5) Records everything you have agreed

Many managers hold too information in their heads. It is very important to have a system to note what you have agreed with your team members including dates for completion. This information should be used in the touch points and/or one to one meetings to review progress.

By applying these tips you will ensure team members have clear expectations when it comes to addressing important/urgent work in the business. Although that doesn’t guarantee there won’t be any problems, it does mean that you’ll spot them sooner and have more time to deal with them.

Need help in getting it right then join us on our Effective Leadership and Management Skills or our Effective Time Management Skills Courses.

Marketing Tips #1: Implement a strategic content marketing plan

2014 was the year major brands got serious about content marketing; did yours? William Buist, founder of xTen, advises that instead of relying on disruptive (and unpopular) banner ads, marketers are investing in long-form storytelling both online and offline. They’re getting smarter about targeting customers with original, compelling and informative content.

If buzzwords like “native content” and “branded content” sound like the same thing to you, then it’s time for your small business to get serious about its content marketing strategy. Effective content marketing is more than publishing the occasional post to your company blog. You need a clear strategy. Buist recommends you start with a content calendar.

So, what’s a content calendar? A content calendar maps out the over-arching strategy you will follow for your blog. It keeps you consistently publishing original content, establishes clear deadlines for drafts and posts, organizes your ideas for future content into a coherent plan, and keeps track of holidays/major events (e.g. industry awards), around which you may want to offer customized content.

If you need help in how to plan and implement then call us and we will spend time with you and your team in developing an effective strategy. You can call us on 01423 861122 or email us at info@ripleytraining.co.uk

Alternatively you can join us on our Practical Marketing Skills Course in Leeds or we can run the course at your business – click here for more information.

Link to Marketing Tips #2: Revamp your social media strategy

See also Marketing Tips #3 Improve Website Call-to-Action