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 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

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

Being Confident in how you Communicate

Communicating and articulating yourself in a confident manner is said to be one of the key strengths of a great leader. Why is this? Well, it could be because self-confident people trust in their own abilities, have a general sense of control in their lives, and believe that within reason, they will be able to do whatever they wish, plan and expect.

Confidence in business

In a business environment, self-confidence is a very necessary attribute. For example, if you’re unsure of your own abilities, how can you convince an employer of your worth at an interview? “One of the biggest myths about self-confidence is that you have to be born with it. Self-confidence is actually a set of skills that can be learned, just like any other skill”, says Mike Smith, at Ripley Training.

Believe that it’s possible

“It’s also important to remember that if you’ve had your confidence destroyed, it is possible to build it up again and become even more resilient” adds Mike. So, if you want to communicate with confidence, you must believe that it is possible to change and you must be motivated to do so. The three core areas of self-belief and communicating with confidence are about:

• Having an underlying confidence in your own abilities, based on past successes;

• Having a positive yet realistic view of yourself and your situation;

• Developing a personal sense of self-worth that is not dependent on performance.

Communicating with confidence – in practice

So, putting this into practice, how can you start communicating with more confidence? You can start by identifying some of your personal and professional goals and then spending time practicing these new behaviours. You can also try our guidance below on how to build self-confidence:

1. Sell yourself (to yourself!)

List all your strengths and skills. Don’t be modest!

2. Use assertive language

Avoid the use of ‘hesitant’ words such as ‘possibly, ‘might’, ‘maybe’, ‘quite’. And when you’re speaking, don’t start sentences by apologising.

3. Challenge yourself

Move out of your comfort zone at every opportunity. Try new things – you will pick up new skills and come to know that you can cope with the unfamiliar.

4. Body Language

As 55% of what you say is conveyed by your body, think about how you sit and stand and use eye contact and gestures. To create a positive impression at work with colleagues or clients, walk into the room with a good posture and smile, make eye contact, and shake hands firmly. Remind and reassure yourself about what you do well and why you’re an expert in your field.

5. Prepare

If you’re giving a presentation for example, then make sure you’ve done lots of preparation; but most of all, preparation in knowing yourself and understanding the subject that you’ll be presenting, as this way, your confidence levels will increase.

6. Visualisation

Visualisation can be a really powerful tool. Try visualising a real life experience where you were successful and felt incredibly good about yourself. Bring to mind what it felt like, where you were, what you could see, smell and touch on that occasion. Fix this in your mind by visualising it every morning and evening for several weeks. You will then be able to recall easily that confident feeling in situations where you need a boost.

7. Observe and learn from others who are confident

If you have a friend who is self-confident, observe how they behave in situations that you would feel uncertain about. Then, try and act as they would. Use them as a role model.

Improve Communication Skills with Ripley Training

If you would like to find out more about how to communicate with confidence then our Communicating with Confidence and Personal Impact course is right for you. The course includes the importance of self-worth and how that is communicated, the benefits of taking control of your attitude and directing it, how to create a good first impression and behave in a more confident manner, and how to communicate in the right way in all situations. If you’re not sure which course is right for you, we provide a range of high quality and accessible training to suit your business’ needs. Get in touch today for more information.

Do you know what your customer expectations are?

What do companies like Virgin, First Direct and Pret a Manger all have in common? They continuously deliver improved profits and gain market share by providing outstanding customer service. Understanding your customers, their needs and expectations is therefore crucial to the ongoing success of your business. As technological and digital advancements are made, and service capabilities become greater, customer expectations rise with it.

Companies like the ones mentioned above share some core competencies, such as the focus on identifying what their customers expect, and constantly improving this process as well as the outcome of their service.

So, to get started in understanding your customers’ expectations, ask yourself these questions:

• Do you know how satisfied your customers are with your products/services?
• Do you have any proof of this?
• Do you operate a Customer Satisfaction Policy?
• Do you hold customer satisfaction reviews?
• To what extent do you think you are meeting or exceeding customer expectations?
• How does customer satisfaction feedback drive your customer service planning, new product development, and/or marketing strategy?

Even if this is something you haven’t focused on in the past, simply by asking yourself and your team these questions will start to make you more customer-oriented and discover ways to improve your service if there are any issues identified. For example, take the opportunity to research where the gap is between your existing quality of customer service, and:

• The minimum quality required by your customers, and/or
• The ideal quality required by your customers, and/or
• The quality of service that would encourage your competitors’ customers to start buying from you!

Then, work out if increasing the quality of your service would be cost effective, and what actions will profitably build your business.

Profitable Customers

Speaking of profitably building your business, what’s important here is to determine what a ‘quality service’ means to each and every segment of your audience. In particular, understanding what it means for your most profitable customers, who:

• Generate 80% of your profits
• Make up a large proportion of your business advocates

So how can you manage customer expectations?

You need to get a more accurate reflection and understanding of the needs of each customer segment, ideally each individual customer. You can do this by:

• Encouraging regular customer feedback – this could be done on the phone with customer service employees, or via an email survey, for example.
• Actively encourage customers to complain – then fix the problem, and make sure they go away fully satisfied.
• Set your business a service promise/service agreement – and then tell every customer about it! For example:

o Commit to delivery deadlines (Remember not to over promise and under deliver – this should be the other way round!)
o Guarantee accuracy of information on your website
o Respond to emailed enquiries within a set number of hours
o Include return guarantees
o Include personal security/personal data guarantees (if appropriate)
o Include a price promise

Improve Customer Service with Ripley Training

If you would like to find out more about how to manage and understand customer expectations and how this can increase and improve your business then our Excellent Customer Service course is right for you. Alternatively, if you would like to improve how you interact with customers by becoming a better listener, asking effective questions and developing robust negotiation skills, then our Assertiveness Skills course may be what you’re looking for. If you’re not sure which course is right for you, we provide a range of high quality and accessible training to suit your business’ needs. Get in touch today for more information.

How to Communicate with Confidence

Even the most experienced people can feel a lack of confidence in certain situations at work. Stressful circumstances, difficult colleagues and criticism can all have an impact on self-confidence. However, when you feel low in self-esteem how can you make sure that you can still communicate with confidence?

Confidence is an Act

One thing you must remember is that even if you don’t feel confident, you can still behave confidently. This may be easier said than done, but it’s true. Don’t let inhibitions hold you back from doing something; just do it!

Changing the way you think about confidence can really help with how you feel. Understand that confidence is not something you are born with, or without, it is simply a state of mind. By following these simple tips anyone can become more confident and self-assured.

Body Language and Speech

Communication is all about body language and speech. Research suggests that body language accounts for up to 70% of all communication. This can be your greatest tool for communication success. Simply by being aware of your body language you can completely change the way in which you are perceived in the workplace. Slouching and fidgeting do not portray confidence whereas eye contact and a firm handshake signifies certainty.

Listen to Others

There is a fine line between confidence in the workplace and arrogance. Being overconfident for your work environment can be unattractive to others. You need to ensure you’re firm but friendly and not smug or arrogant. Listening to what others have to say is a vital aspect of how you come across.

Listening will make you more likable to colleagues and approachable. This will only positively improve communication. Listening to other points of view is also a learning tool. Learning is a great way to increase self-confidence. You will become more aware of yourself, your role and the company.

Dealing with Conflict

Communication may occasionally result in conflict within the working environment. Dealing with conflicts effectively and efficiently takes a lot of confidence. While some people will avoid any sign of a disagreement, others will fight back aggressively. Confidence is not about dealing with it in either way.

A confident person will tackle these situations by being firm, assertive and consistent whilst remaining calm and composed.

Positive Thought

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement” – Helen Keller

Perhaps the most important component of confidence is positive thinking. Thinking positively has a huge effect on what you can achieve. If you’re thinking positively then you are already half way there. Positive thinking will subconsciously result in positive body language. As well as this it will contribute greatly to how others perceive you. If your colleagues enjoy your company, you will naturally feel more self-confident and self-assured.

We’d love to hear how you communicate with confidence. Leave a comment with your top tips!

Ripley Training

If you would like to find out more about how you can be more confident in the workplace then our Communicating with Confidence and Personal Impact course is right for you. Alternatively, if you would like to improve other Personal Skills then take a look through our range of courses.

At Ripley Training we offer a wide range of 121, in-house and open courses. All can be tailored to suit your requirements. Contact us if you would like to enquire about our training.

5 ways to make your team effective

One of the most crucial aspects of achieving success in business is being able to work productively within an effective team. It’s incredibly important for improving the quality of work, growing creativity and also for developing healthy and productive employee relationships within your workplace. Teamwork can be seen to not only benefit employees, but also your business itself. So, how can you build a successful team that impacts positively on your business?

“Having an effective team within the workplace is key to running a successful business”

1. Motivation

Teams can often be seen to rise and become successful when employees come together to achieve a shared goal. It’s important that the distribution of work throughout the team is clear and that certain objectives aren’t left out. Remember that each member of your team will be motivated in different ways, though it’s also important that each team member has a clear idea and understanding of how their role is crucial to meeting the goal.

Lead your team by example. Your passion and motivation about the business is something that will influence and motivate your colleagues. A positive outlook is something that should not only be desired by you, but also be practiced. Treating your colleagues how you want to be treated is something that will not only motivate your team, but also help build rapport; something that each effective team needs to build and succeed.

2. The right people skills

Communication is a critical aspect of an effective team. Being able to function within an effective team comes from the ability to communicate clearly on both an intellectual and emotional level. Whilst listening skills are always important, so is the confidence within the team to communicate your own thoughts and ideas.

3. The environment

An effective team has to have an efficient working environment. Whilst minimal distractions are essential, so is the ability to be able to communicate with each other. The right environment will influence team members to ask each other questions, ask for help and advice whilst also retaining other important information. The layout of an office is something that will either work wonders or restrict a team, so it’s important to consider the way in which your office is organised and laid out to encourage productivity and collaboration

4. Celebrate, reward and review

“Find the most appropriate way to celebrate team achievements”

Make the time to frequently recognise, celebrate and reward both team and individual performances. This will help to build self-confidence and enhance the enthusiasm of the group to ensure their hard work is consistent. Ensure that recognition is regular and that the method you choose inspires and reinforces people’s motivation to continue their positive involvement to the team’s progress.

Regularly review the group’s performance through team meetings and personal discussions to ensure that progress is being made towards the desired goals. It’s vital to recognise positive team and individual behaviours. However, providing constructive criticism and feedback is just as important. Monitoring and reviewing progress allows for improvements and adjustments to be integrated into team processes.

5. Organisation

Organisation is the foundation of any team. Ensuring everyone is on the same page and communicating properly is the most important factor to effective teamwork. It’s a good idea to organise your team so that every member functions according to their specialty or their allocated tasks. In this way, the team will be able to overcome the difficulties that they are faced with. A team should also have the access to the right tools. This will provide employees with the ability to succeed. With the right processes in place there are no limits to what your team can achieve!

Ripley Training

If you would like to find out more about teambuilding and how it can improve your business, then our Effective Team Working Skills Training Course is right for you. Or, if you’re a manager and would like to earn how to effectively lead your team then take a look at our Management Development Programme.

We provide a range of high quality and accessible training to suit your business’ needs. To find out more, why not give us a call on 01423 861 122 or fill in our short contact form – we’d love to help you!

5 Ways NLP increases productivity in the workplace

Neuro-Linguistic Programming describes the process of how we perceive the outside world or external influences and how we communicate this perception through the language we use. In the workplace NLP can be used as a tool to completely change individuals and hugely increase productivity.

By understanding the ways in which an individual or team interprets the world around them, you can change the way they think, speak and behave towards it. NLP aims to reverse negative attitudes and habits in the workplace to give individuals control over how they react and feel towards future events. So, how can you use NLP to increase the productivity of your team?

1. Set Objectives

The simplest way of implementing a form of NLP in your work environment is to make sure everyone is working towards goals. By setting objectives you are giving your team a direction and something to work for. If employees feel they are expected to achieve these firm objectives they will naturally work harder to make sure they do. They will also automatically be taking more responsibility over their role and the work they do.

This increases productivity on an individual level. Incentives for successfully achieving objectives can also be specified in order to motivate staff to succeed and thrive in the work environment.

2. Boost Staff Morale

NLP is a great way to make employees more engaged and content in the workplace and NLP training is a valuable investment. Committed and engaged employees will perform better than other employees in the business – what are you doing to maintain commitment and engagement in your business? Learning NLP techniques through tailored training courses and coaching will enable team members to reach high levels of performance by over coming barriers in the workplace.

Staff morale is an ongoing factor that a team leader or manager considers. Treating employees with respect, listening to their ideas and making them feel included on a daily basis will keep their self-esteem and confidence high.

3. Better Communication

Internal communications and client relationships are vital for a productive and efficient working environment. Making people aware of how they come across when interacting with others is a key aspect of using NLP to improve communication. NLP will help to identify adverse behaviours such as body language. Body language such as avoiding eye contact or slouching shoulders is generally a subconscious behaviour.

Once the negative behaviour has been recognised, the individual can work to change and improve. As the individual becomes more self-aware, they also become more aware of other people. Effective communication requires an understanding to others’ thought processes as well as an awareness of yourself. See yourself in the way that you would like others to see you.

4. Learning and Development

NLP is all about bringing together an individual’s innermost skills and highlighting their hidden, concealed ability. NLP unlocks the potential for a wealth of knowledge. Employees will be eager to learn and advance in their own professional development. This enables employees to take control of their own career and requires them to be proactive about doing so. A proactive, engaged and progressing team will be highly motivated and productive.

NLP helps the individual to improve in their job role by taking a highly performing team member and using their behaviour and work ethic as a model for others to adopt. You could have a team that is as strong as your strongest employee. This would have a huge impact on productivity as well as give your business a competitive edge.

5. Changing Behaviour

The main objective of NLP is to reverse negative behaviours and habits. How an individual interprets their workplace has little to do with the actual working environment and more to do with the individual. Employees have completely different experiences at work, even though the work environment is the same for everyone. NLP makes employees aware that the problems they face at work are usually internal, not external. Making employees self-aware of their attitudes and behaviours is the first step towards a positive change.

Ripley Training

If you would like to find out more about how NLP can increase and improve your business then our Introduction to NLP course is right for you. Alternatively, if you would like to study NLP in more depth then you should take a look at our INLPTA Diploma in NLP course.

We provide a range of high quality and accessible training to suit your business’ needs. Get in touch today.