HAS ONLINE MARKETING REPLACED TRADITIONAL MARKETING FOR SMALL BUSINESSES?

The truth is non specialist digital marketeers and PR’s needn’t be quaking in their boots just yet as long as they are up to date with how best to promote their clients online.  The marketing community as a whole could still be said to be lethargic at online promotion for small to medium sized businesses but by focusing on building their clients SEO and social media campaigns they can produce a powerful marketing strategy.

  1. The Yellow Pages – remember them? To reach the masses you really need to look at free listings such as Google Local Business, and your website ranking in google search.  All social media activities help with this.
  2. Email newsletters.  I’m not a great fan, unless they are really done well and contain, shocker alert..NEWS..  An alternative (or great addition) is the blog – great for search engines and the perfect way to prove that you’re an expert in your field. Get topical, add a splash of news and mix together with a little personality.  Don’t forget to feed your blog to Twitter and LinkedIn to achieve maximum exposure.
  3. PR is entirely relevant and can give a third party testimonial to small businesses but worthy PR specialists should ensure their small business clients are in important online media as well as print.
  4. Print advertising -for many small businesses this is a huge expense and is often hard to measure. For some clients online advertising is a good area to explore such as Facebook ads.
  5. Social media – whilst many small businesses argue they still can’t see the point in twitter in particular, bear in mind twitter isn’t the best place to pitch. Use areas such as the Q&A forum on LinkedIn to demonstrate your expertise.
  6. Networking is still a key part of any marketing strategy, but needs to be supported by using LinkedIn and other social media.

Being current and being online are vital factors for the small businesses to consider, but generally taking time to brainstorm and to think outside the box, having a clear marketing goal and strategy, using other people as sounding boards and being creative and sometimes, where appropriate, a little quirky are also key for small businesses.  Considering emotion is another key to the future of marketing, something cognitive neuroscientist and chartered psychologist and Forbes contributor Dr Lynda Shaw is often asked to talk professionally about in the corporate world.

Here Dr Shaw gives us some tips on the psychology of marketing.

 

PSYCHOLOGY OF MARKETING TIPS BY DR LYNDA SHAW

 

  • Emotional Influence

Our natural instinct is to make decisions based on our emotional responses rather than logic.

If we like the look of something, we are drawn to it and then may make a purchase decision based on whether it then exerts an emotional pull over us in some way. By identifying these emotional triggers, you can begin to work out how to apply them to marketing a product.

 

  •     Understand how people think

Understanding what motivates your consumers to buy a product and how they think in the decision making phase is vital.  They could be impulse buyers, buying with a budget in mind or no budget at all.  Whatever the circumstance may be, by having a good awareness of who your target market is and which emotional buttons to push to satisfy the wider crowd, will give your product the best chance of doing well.

 

  •     Reciprocity

Perhaps depending on the value of the brand, the incentive of giving something away for free is a simple way of generating brand awareness, even if the free is just information.  If something is free and of real benefit, people are quick to recommend it to friends, which attract more customers. Out of a sense of obligation to return the favour, they may feel indebted to buy from you a second time around, even when there is nothing being given away for free.

 

  •     Brand Loyalty

Successful branding is not just about creating a unique product that sets you aside from your rivals and appeal to your target market. Brand loyalty is developed through having strong connection between the product and its audience, which makes consumers feel important and belong to a tribe of people who share a common interest.

 

  •     The Power of Colour

Colours can have a strong influence on human mood and behaviour, so selecting the right colour scheme for your product and branding is essential.  Before you determine what colours to use, think carefully about the kind of audience you want to attract and research what colours they respond best to so you know the right hue to use.

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Preparing Images for the Web

Preparing Images for the Web by Guest blogger Daniel Scott, MD of Turtle Technology

Overview of the types of image commonly used on the web

There are three primary types of image that are used:

  • JPEG – used for complex images such as photos.
  • GIF – have a limited set of colours so are useful for logos and simple graphics. They should not be used for colour photos. They can also support transparency and simple animations.
  • PNG – an Indexed PNG is a better alternative to GIF. It supports transparency and more colours. The ‘Full Colour’ option (select when saving) is an alternative to JPEG and provides higher quality but bigger file-sizes as the compression is non-lossy.

JPEG Images

JPEG images use lossy compression to keep the file-size down. This means that data from the image is lost each time it is saved. The more you compress, the smaller the file-size but the poorer quality the image. When saving a JPEG, to get the best quality, maximise the compression for your target file-size.

Avoid continually resaving JPEG images as each time you save, information will be lost from the image as it is compressed.

JPEG images can store metadata within the image file. This is used to store things like the coordinates of the camera when the photo was taken, the aperture, shutter speed, focal length, timestamp etc. However this is not normally used by mainstream website images.

The effect of image size

Image sizes used to be highly constrained due to the slower speed of our internet connections. Big images are slow to load. These days it is less of an issue, but you still do not want unnecessarily large images.

You webpage should load in not much more than 4 seconds, but less is better. So keep your main image to less than 300kb. Try for 100-150kb if possible.

Further Information

Here are a few links that give additional information and examples:

yourhtmlsource.com, scantips.com, r1ch.nethtmlgoodies.com

Cropping and Resizing

How to resize images to fit on your website

If you don’t have Adobe’s Photoshop or another good image manipulation tool then download Irfanview. This tutorial will use it.

Let’s assume that you have an image that is 2000x1200px and you wish to use it on a webpage that requires an image size of 690x240px.

It would be easy if the image had the correct aspect ratio (ratio of width to height), but they don’t in this case so we need to crop the image first.

  1. Open the original image in Irfanview.
  2. Press Shift-C to create a custom crop selection.
  3. Enter the width and height that are required then save and apply:
  4. Click in the selection rectangle with the right mouse button and drag it so the top-left corner is in the correct position.
  5. If the selection rectangle is not big enough, hold down the Ctrl key, left-click the bottom (or right) edge and drag it out until it is the correct size.
  6. Fine tune by repeating steps 5 and 6.
  7. Press Ctrl-Y to crop.
  8. Assuming that you resized the selection rectangle in step 6, you now need to resize the whole image by pressing Ctrl-R.
  9. Enter the width and height that are required then click OK:
  10. Press S to save.

http://turtletechnology.com

 

PR FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

PR FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

What is PR?

Public and press relations are both shortened into PR and essentially work hand in hand.  Press relations is about managing relationships with the ever expanding world’s media whilst public relations is about managing relationships with the public in order to build an interest, make a sale or to manage a brand’s reputation.

Why do PR?

Small businesses need PR as much as a multinational.  Press coverage enables you to reach your target audience through various multi-media whether it be TV, radio, blogs, national, regional, local newspapers, or trade or consumer magazines, as well as of course online articles.  Whilst experts argue about what the exact multiplier is, generally there is consensus that editorial coverage is at least three times (sometimes up to 20 times) more valuable than basic advertising, both because it is more likely to be read and carries the weight of a third party endorsement by the publisher.

 

Starters for 10

Most PR campaigns start with a press pack being drafted which comprises a launch press release (more on this later) and a fact sheet about the company/ product and on key personnel.  In addition ensure there is a choice of relevant visuals which need to be over 1MB but under 5MB preferably.

There is no point sending a press release that has no news value so think carefully about what is different about your company/ product and why it is newsworthy.

 

The press release

THE HEADLINE

  • The headline should be brief and eye-catching. Headlines should be a grabber to attract readers.
  • Headlines should be written in capital letters, bold and in font size 14 preferably.
  • Above the headline you should have the business logo, a second heading clearly marked “PRESS INFORMATION” and the press release should always be dated with the date it will hit the journalist’s desk to give it a ‘today’s news’ feel.

 

OPENING PARAGRAPH

  • The lead, or first sentence, should grab the reader and say concisely what is happening. The next one or two sentences then expand upon the lead.
  • A journalist will make a decision as to whether to read on depending on their interest in the first paragraph (if the headline was interesting enough to make them read the first paragraph).
  • At its simplest, the first paragraph should comprise ‘Who, what, when, where, why, and how’.

 

THE PRESS RELEASE BODY

  • The press release should be written as it would appear in a newspaper.
  • Avoid using very long sentences and paragraphs.
  • Avoid repetition, jargon and over use of fancy language.
  • Deal with actual facts – events, products, services, people, targets, goals, plans, projects.
  • The length of a press release should ideally be no more than two pages. If you are sending a hard copy, text should be 1.5 spaced ideally.
  • Include relevant information about the company such as how long the company has been running and in short what the company does.
  • Always have a quote from a spokesperson e.g Hazel Scott, Director of Kai Communications says: “The company has expanded from two to 22 employees over the last two years and to win this award is the icing on the cake!”

 

THE END OF THE PRESS RELEASE

  • Always use the words “ENDS” to mark the end of the press release. Anything after that is only notes for the journalist.
  • Add contact information. If your press release is of interest, a good journalist will want more information and possibly to set up an interview or ask for pictures. Contact details should include name of contact, telephone number and email address.

 

Top Tips Before You Get Going:-

  • Consider your target audience.
  • Decide what your news angle is.
  • Decide who your spokesperson will be.
  • Select key words that would attract your reader.
  • The timing of the press release is very important. It must be relevant and recent news, not too old and not too distant.
  • Avoid jargon or specialized technical terms.
  • You or your spokesperson must be available for comment, e.g don’t issue a press release and then go on holiday for two weeks!
  • Understand that this is not an opportunity to glowingly praise your own business, it is a presentation of facts on something newsworthy. Words such as ‘fantastic’, ‘excellent’ etc. should be avoided except in quotes by a spokesperson when relevant.
  • Visuals – Help your story tell itself with a great picture.
  • Back it up. Don’t write about fluff and back up your story with supporting stats if you can.
  • Keep it short (under 400 words) to increase your chances of getting covered.
  • Write it like a news story and make sure you include who, what, why, when, where, and how in the first paragraph or two then add any necessary supporting information. Your headline and first paragraph are the most important spects of the press release.
  • Include a quote but keep it informative. The fact that you are really excited about the launch of XX is not enough to make it into the papers.

 

Your target media

When deciding who to send your press release to, think hard about who your customers are and what media they may read.  Take time to look at who your customer base really are and then search for the relevant media who write about the area in question.

When to hire a professional

This blog is just a snippet of what a PR professional might do for you but if you have budget constraints there is no reason why you can’t make a start on your publicity.  Just remember to do it well because first impressions always stick!  Good luck!

Hazel Scott 2   Hazel Scott, Director of Kai Communications

Why Networking is Important By Robina Hutchings

Whether you’re an already established and successful business or just starting out on a new venture, going out to meet new people such as being a part of a networking group should be on everyone’s radar.

Admittedly, making small talk and taking part in mini presentations may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the rewards would almost certainly out weight any preconceived ideas or doubts that you may have if the end goal is to help you generate more business.

This week, I will be participating in my first woman’s networking group. Though I am a little nervous with the prospect of standing up in front of a group of unfamiliar faces to give my one minute speech, I am nevertheless intrigued to witness the kind of people that attend these meetings and to see how networking plays a pivotal channel for initiating new business opportunities as well as restoring existing ones.

I have titled this blog, ‘Why Networking is Important’, but really, we should be asking ourselves what’s important about building relationships? We all have different ideas and strategies when it comes to bringing in new business. Some may overlook the value of networking and assume that they don’t need it, whereas others truly see the benefits of what networking can do.

We have all heard the saying, ‘It’s not what you know but who you know’ and this certainly rings true. You never know who you might meet at a networking event – it may not be someone familiar with your industry, but what about their connecting circle? Creating your own referral network is up to you and here is your opportunity to make a good impression, so make it count!

It goes without saying that with interviews or boardroom meetings, it’s crucial that you prepare yourself ahead of time. The same goes for networking – think about the people you want to connect with and how you would like to interact with them. Show interest and be interested in what people have to say. Engaging with people is very much about listening and being receptive to learning about what they do as well as what they can do for you.

We’re lucky these days to have Social Media and the multiple platforms it offers to allow us to choose how we wish to connect with people. Whether you’re a large corporate company or running a small business alone, it’s the hub of engaging with others, sharing information and participating in conversation for all, so make good use of it.

So give networking a go if you haven’t done so already. It might open your eyes to new opportunities and help you to start expanding your horizons.

 

Reasons to Network:

  • Establish and build on new and existing connections
  • Share information in a valuable way to expand on your knowledge
  • Create a community of people who can support one another
  • Learn from the success of others
  • Discover new motivation
  • Realise potential business ideas

The Marketing of Women’s Sport

Blog by David Lewis – Intern at Kai Communications.

In the immediate aftermath of the London 2012 Olympic Games, the International Olympic Committee hailed the Games as “an historic step towards gender equality” with men and women competing in all Olympic sports. But nearly three years later I am left wondering whether there has been that much of a difference.

The Olympics has helped bridge the gap between male and female sports. But in terms of marketing and revenue there is still a massive discrepancy.

Provocative Marketing

Levels of public interest would suggest that society as a whole doesn’t regard women’s sport as either as talented or as interesting as male sports. To combat this women’s sport has often had to find another niche marketing strategy, some good and some very outdated.

Even in 2015 there still is an unfortunate tendency to sexualise women athletes throughout the world of sport. The target audience is still fundamentally straight men and therefore many female athletes have begun to market themselves in a more provocative manner and gain publicity.

The recent raunchy advertising campaigns from the US women’s volleyball team and the tennis player Maria Sharapova are dangerous for the future of women’s sport as they cause society to see beauty or provocative behaviour as a necessary tool in being recognised in sport. In fact, particularly with individual female sports, it is difficult to find a case where the sportswoman hasn’t been marketed in a sexual way.

A Family Atmosphere

The FA Women’s Super League – the equivalent of the Premier League for women’s football in England – hasn’t fallen into the same sexualisation trap. The league understands that it cannot compete with the money or popularity of men’s football and so has approached marketing in another way.

There are a number of small marketing adaptations, but probably the most important is that the WSL has marketed itself for family audience. Examples of this can be quite subtle with the choice of font and colour scheme. Also the league represents all competing clubs in the same family-friendly fashion which enhances the community feel of women’s football. The portrayal of being family-friendly is especially important when considering the bad reputation men’s football has received with crowd violence, racism, homophobia and swearing.

The FA Women’s Super League is a success story for women’s sport particularly as TV giants BT Sport show a selection of live games as well as highlights of both divisions. The league has been very clever with delicate marketing techniques promote the talent available in women’s football whilst distancing itself with the worst aspects of the men’s game.

People often look towards tennis as being an example where men and women compete equally. However I would argue that, although they do gain the same publicity and prize money, the marketing of women tennis players’ shows inconsistency between male and female athletes and an inherent level of sexism. Instead we should be proud of institutions like the FA Women’s Super League which doesn’t stoop to provocative behaviour to advertise the sport. Instead it is not afraid to market itself as different to men’s football.

 

SEO Implementation – part three – SEO Extras

GUEST BLOG by Daniel Scott of Turtle Technology

Link Popularity

We have so far looked at the importance of search engine optimization and content but other important activity is to increase the popularity of your site by persuading other high quality web-sites to link to yours. The higher the page rank of those sites, the more credence and therefore page rank you will gain.

One method is to approach other sites directly and ask them to link back to your site. We believe that that there may be a slightly adverse affect if you also then link to them. Link directories are a possibility but only use those that are relevant to your web-site. Some directories are free and some are paid. Do not under any circumstances use commercial reciprocal linking services.

Persuade partners to position their link back to your site near the top of the page. For some search engines this may give more credence to the link. At least try to obtain links that are located in the body content rather than in ancillary areas such as a sidebar or the footer. Multiple links from the same partner may be detrimental.

The ideal method of generating link popularity is to build a web-site and/or business that is so compelling that people will want to ink to you.

Add your site to the Open Directory Project (http://dmoz.org/add.html). It is important because Google uses it as the basis for some of the ways in which it indexes sites.

Consider writing articles for publication on other web-sites. Include a link in the article back to your web-site.

Note that when linking back to your site, this may not necessarily be to your home page. It could be the entrance to your online store or a landing page for your services.

Search Engine Submission

Submit the site directly to the major search engines Google, Bing & Yahoo. Where applicable add a local listing as well if geography is important.

Sometimes it is helpful to generate and submit a Sitemap to the major search engines, particularly if the site:

  • has dynamic content;
  • is new and has few links to it;
  • has pages that aren’t easily discoverable during the crawl process, for example page that are not linked from other pages in the site;
  • has a large archive of content pages that are not well linked to each other, or are not linked at all.

Performance

Ensure pages load in a reasonable timeframe – ideally a few seconds. If they are too slow, ranking may suffer. Increase performance by reducing image/page sizes, optimising business logic (especially database queries) and up-scaling hardware.

For high-volume sites, performance testing is suggested to understand how the site behaves under spiked loads. Remember that loading will increase as a result of a successful SEO campaign.

Keeping SEO current

Keep the website current. Update it often with relevant content. Consider adding a blog, listing news items and issuing regular press releases. Write white papers and include other relevant content such as user guides for your products. It’s fine to include historic content as long as it is clear to the user that it is not current. These are often written as files but should be converted to good quality HTML so they can be indexed effectively by the search engines. The PDF can still be offered as a convenient download. Remember to name the file descriptively!

If your business has or is capable of building a community of users then consider adding discussion forums. These may be used to discuss the industry, support your products or even review your products.

Ensure that you keep your keywords up to date with significant page/product changes.

Programming

The techniques described above are all activities that can be carried out by non-technical users (with the exception of performance tuning). The other area that is also very important is the build of the web-pages. There are many practices that should be followed by the programmer so it is essential that an experienced user interface programmer is utilised. At Turtle Technology we use both the common techniques but also make use of some less well-known mechanisms to write highly optimised code for the search engines.

Programming techniques are not the subject of this paper as here, we are documenting what non-technical users can achieve.

Search Engine Marketing

Depending on the Marketing Plan, a Search Engine Marketing (SEM) campaign may be appropriate. The benefits of a SEM campaign (eg. Google AdWords ) is that it can quickly lift the profile/visibility of a site by having a description and link appear high in related search results. SEM may be Paid or Pay-Per-Click and requires budget and active management.

SEM will accelerate success but SEO is still required.

http://turtletechnology.com/resources/search-engine-optimisation.aspx

Choosing an Event Management Company – Guest blog by Quadrant Event Management

Choosing an event management company

Although it’s nice to have control over your event, a good event management company can save you significant amounts of time and money. It does pay to be selective though, especially when there are so many event management companies who do not have the adequate experience and knowledge needed to plan events effectively. In this article, I will highlight a number of tips to help you choose the right event management company.

Know your requirements

Before looking for an event management company, you should understand your requirements and what you will need and want from them.  Some companies will manage the entire process for you, so it’s essential that you understand your requirements in order to get the most accurate quote.

Get at least three quotes

When looking for a company to manage your event, you should get at least three quotes. The reason for this is because it will give you a better idea of the average cost of event management services.  Also, there is no way of knowing you been given a good quote unless you have more than one.

Questions to ask yourself

Do they have partners who they outsource their work to?

Not all event management companies provide all of the services that they offer, many will partner with other companies that can provide what they don’t. While this isn’t a bad thing, you should be wary of using a company that outsources all of its services.  The reason for this is because it can lead to communication problems and internal issues, resulting in your needs getting misunderstood.

Do they have access to a network of suppliers?

A lot of event management companies have a list of suppliers who they use on a regular basis. This can only be positive, because a company that has access to a diverse network of suppliers can negotiate things such as catering and entertainment on your behalf, getting you the right price everytime.  Having a large network of suppliers is also an indicator that the company has plenty of industry experience.

Are they budget minded?

While choosing a company that understands your budget may sound simple enough, they are few and far between.  A good events management company will have money management knowledge and an eye for detail to ensure that your budget doesn’t get out of control. The right company will understand the practical constraints of your budgets and have the in-house knowledge needed to plan appropriately.

How long have they been established?

To get a better understanding of how experienced they are, you should find out how long they have been established. Look for a company that has been established for at least 5 years. That being said, there are a number of relatively new event management companies whose directors have a wealth of experience in the events industry. If a company is relatively new, try and find out more about the experience level of their employees.

Can they show you case studies?

Case studies should be an important factor in your decision; they will show you that the event management company is capable of providing the service that they offer. If they can show you examples of events they have managed that were similar to the one you are proposing, then that’s even better. Case studies will also give you a better idea of how an event management company approaches its projects.

Do they have liability insurance?

While the majority of event management companies will have liability insurance in place, its suprising how many don’t. In order to protect them, their employees, and you, they must have this in place. Steer clear of companies who do not have this.

What services are included in their fee?

Event management companies have different ways of charging for their services; flat fee, hourly, cost-per-person. While most will be upfront about their costs, something that you would expect to be included might not be. In order to avoid surprises later on, negotiate fees and services in detail before proceeding.

Author by-line:

This article was written and contributed by Quadrant Event Management