So, this statement isn’t ground-breaking or new to most people, but recently I have seen the ‘who you know’ mantra coming out in a number of areas in my day-to-day life and it got me thinking how nothing seems to have changed in the last 50 years – but is it a bad thing or not? Do people who know how to work the system deserve to get better jobs, status or funding than those that don’t. We all know there exists the privileged few who are born into the opportunity and never need to try to network or get to know the right people. Working at big old school advertising agencies made me see these unfair discrepancies - for example, the daughter of the CEO automatically given a placement or Account Exec position whether they had the ability or not, for others it was a hard, grilling interview process. This systematic, structural inequality hasn’t changed over time and appears in so many industries we as a society simply accept it, conform and fit into it. There is no level-playing field so it seems unfair to me to inform students that if they work hard that will be enough to get them where they want to be in life, of course this is important but I believe of equal importance is to learn the skills to network, to identify who can help you and how you can help them, to seek out opportunity and be available and open to it and ultimately know how to close. How do we teach these skills to kids, and would that put them on a more level-playing field or at least have a better shot on target?
With 2,461 new businesses started in this country just today alone, the UK is seeing a rise of the self-employed entrepreneur and its encouraging this industry to thrive, encouraging digital and technological development which will aid society to develop, improve communities and ultimately help our economy. As a marketing consultancy supporting these businesses I also back this bid and see these companies as exciting potential that is something to be a part of. I also see first-hand the passion and dogged determination of these entrepreneurs, sadly coupled with the inequality of funding opportunity to support them, because it still comes down to ‘who you know’. You could say that one idea is better than another, that it has more growth potential or a better ROI, and that would be fair, but getting a foot in the door of a fund-raiser or investor is hard enough to even have your business glanced at. Are those that are not getting a look in just not trying hard enough to ‘work the system’ or are they purely just unlucky - is seeking investment 40% luck, 40% who you know and 20% hard work?
I recently learnt of an old colleague who has just become an MD, she was never the best at her job, the cleverest or sharpest, but she has achieved a salary and position before she has turned 40 by getting in with the right people, by networking and being so effective at selling her ability and skills that she has been awarded the ultimate lucrative prize. How do I feel about this? Jealous? Sure! Annoyed? No not really, I actually found more respect for her than I ever did before. She went out there, not as a privileged few, and she went after what she wanted, single-mindedly, perhaps pushing people back to get it, but ultimately remaining true to what she was aiming for – the real heart of ambition you could argue? If you are in a room full of people you have never met before, where everyone is in the same position - all there to get a job or investment let’s say. Who’s got closer to the goal, the one who has got hold of the attendee list, researched the individual (finding out any common interests or contacts) and potentially got an introduction in advance or those that have prepped answers on their background and have better experience on paper? Most likely it’s the former, particularly if the individual has the charisma and sales patter to help close the deal. The better salesman wins hands down.
Can these skills truly be learnt or are they inherent in us to be one way or another – the wallflower or the life and soul? If they can’t be learnt the astute wallflower needs to partner with a life and souler to meet their yang with their ying. Then you’re open to the opportunity again.
So, what makes a good networker, an opportunist, a salesman? I had a think and came up with a list of skills:
The last one I want to add is controversial, a lot of the people I know who have achieved their goals are superficial, there I’ve said it. They aren’t authentic because that reveals too much about themselves and could give the game away, they need to ‘flirt’ with everyone to find the right person. If you choose to do this it probably will help support you achieving your goals too. I’m more of an authentic, honest person – this is me, this is who I am and this is what I want kind of person, and to be honest I haven’t done bad out of opportunities being this way. Perhaps if I was more pretentious I would have got further? Who knows. One thing I do know as a start-up seeking investment you need to aim to have all of the skills above or know someone that does, as well as the cracking idea that no one has thought of that’s going to make lots of money, and ideally a good contacts black book or know someone with one to succeed. Surround yourself with the people that will help you succeed and reach your goals, (and if it was me – be nice, be honest and be authentic along the way). So, if you are one of the exciting 2,461 new businesses starting today, I wish you the most amount of good luck, it’s hard out there but it’s worth the struggle, so you can do it!
Sign up to our newsletter to hear us rant some more (!?), but mostly to get tips and advice to help guide your budding new business. Get in touch to have a chat about how we can support you to close the deal!
The Internet has completely revolutionised the way that many businesses operate. It has changed how they advertise, sell products, perform market research, find employees, provide customer support and much more.
The Internet has also helped businesses reach new markets. Businesses of any size can reach customers on the other side of the planet with a well-made website or social media campaign. This rapid expansion of markets has seen many startups become multi-million dollar success stories in a few short years.
To really get the most of the Internet, businesses have to develop a set of effective digital marketing strategies. They are online marketing techniques that your business can use to gain more customers, build brand awareness, cultivate leads, and much more.
One of the most important digital marketing strategies is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). It is aimed at increasing the visibility of your web properties in the search engine rankings of websites like Google.
For business owners not familiar with digital marketing or SEO, all of this lingo can be a little confusing! This article will demystify digital marketing and SEO, then explain why they should be critical components of your business plan.
How Does Digital Marketing Work?
Digital marketing refers to a group of online marketing techniques. Businesses can pick and choose from these techniques, developing a strategy that meets their requirements. The most commonly used digital marketing strategies include:
Business owners can work with a digital marketing consultant to develop a bespoke strategy that matches their business objectives.
How Does Search Engine Optimisation Work?
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is one of the most common terms you will hear when discussing digital marketing. Although it sounds complex, it really isn’t. SEO involves sending signals to search engines, showing them that your pages are worth including in search engine results.
You are ‘proving’ to Google that your site is valuable for people using their search engine. Once you prove the value of your website, Google will reward you with a high ranking that produces a lot of visitors!
So, how do your ensure website is valuable? Search engines want to rank websites that are high-quality, trustworthy and have authority. In simple terms, that means:
Search engines like Google actually use extremely complex algorithms to determine a website’s quality, trustworthiness, and authority. That’s why businesses usually turn to SEO professionals to optimise their website and fulfil the ranking criteria that search engines apply. Some of the techniques that SEO professionals use include:
Why Does Digital Marketing and Search Engine Optimisation Matter?
Here are a few of the reasons why digital marketing and search engine optimisation are absolutely crucial for your business:
We hope you enjoyed reading Marketing Strategy and SEO: How It Works and Why It Matters? If you want to discuss how to use digital marketing or social media effectively for your business, please contact us today!
Recently we have been doing a LOT of networking, attending events and organising them, to get to know how this benefits a small business and if it truly can help grow your business.
As a small independent local business ourselves we share the same understanding of running a business and what advice and support is needed. We felt that networking could be a really good avenue to become part of the local business community and let people get to know us and what the company offers.
We thought we would share some tried and tested methods to help you boss small business networking like a pro...
1. Get out of your comfort zone
It can be super daunting walking into a room of strangers and talking confidently about your business, however after you do it once you will see that everyone is in the same boat and its always way easier than you think. You leave punching the air (metaphorically speaking hopefully) and feel you are a more than capable and confident.
2. Do some prep
Look at who the networking is aimed at and the potential attendees, prepare an ‘elevator pitch’ about you and your business. Make sure you have lots of business cards and any marketing materials on you. Think about what you hope to achieve from the session and be open about that if given the opportunity.
3. No one likes a hard sell
Yes this is a great opportunity to find new potential clients, however no one wants to feel they are being sold to. When you meet someone, introduce your self and firstly enquire (and actively listen!) about their business. Find something you have in common or something you know about their industry and ask questions. Once you have built a good conversation flow, ask the question ‘is there anything I can do to help you’ or ‘what could you do with my help on?’
4. Evening networking
Drinks help. Just don’t go crazy. Stop at one.
When you meet someone and it becomes clear they don’t need your services, think about other people (or potential clients) you know who they might benefit from knowing them and put in an introduction. Giving away free advice and sharing contacts helps build trust and even if they don’t need you now, they might need you in the future or know someone else who does. If you have helped them in a small way you will be remembered favorably.
6. Moving away
Let’s be honest, you are speaking to someone and its clear the conversation is exhausted and you see a really interesting potential client getting her coat on to leave you need to move away sharpish – how do you do this and not be rude? Just say ‘Do you know xxx, could you introduce me’ or ‘it’s been great talking to you, do you mind if I just catch xxxx before she leaves’. People are not there to make lasting friends and won’t be offended so don’t feel you have to be very ‘British’ about it all!
Good luck, the more you do the better you will be.
If you are interested in attending our local business networking events in East London and West Essex drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m sure you are aware that social media is imperative for businesses these days, no matter the size or stature of the company, customers want to see an active presence on sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
As a start-up business social media can seem a little intimidating. How are you ever going to stand out from the crowd amongst a sea of hundreds and thousands of other, similar companies within your industry? And can it actually help you to achieve your goals?
Prior to going live on social media it is a good idea to jot down a list of objectives that you hope to achieve with this marketing channel. From improving customer service, to increasing discussion about your brand or product, there aren’t really any wrong answers. Within this strategy it’s also really important to plan what social media channels you’re going to use. Not all social media is right for all businesses. Some companies that are very visual (e.g. food and fashion) will benefit more from platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram whereas some will struggle to populate those channels. Once you have the channels you want to be active in then you can create a content calendar so you know what you are going to be posting or tweeting about in advance, this can be built around campaigns and events.
When it’s time to take the plunge ensuring you have key imagery ready for each of the platforms is key. A bright, eye-catching logo and cover image are so important, particularly for Twitter and Facebook, as the lack of either can give a bad impression to prospective customers. Ensuring that all the imagery is branded is a great way of maintaining consistency and uniformity amongst your social media pages, however this isn’t imperative.
The information you display on your social media pages is entirely up to you, however, the more details about your business that you share, the better. Make sure you display your website URL, a short blurb about your business, your location and your contact information. All of these little information nuggets help build up trust with your prospective customers.
Having an open line of communication with your current customer base and/or prospective future clients is why so many businesses find social media so important for them. Utilising these platforms can also save you a lot of money in regard to a full-time customer service role. Pretty much everyone has access to Facebook these days, and it’s generally their first port of call when they’ve had an overly bad or good experience with a business. So, it’s recommended that you keep a frequent eye on your platforms to pick up any comments, whether they are positive or negative, so you can reply in a timely manner.
Don’t get stuck in a rut when it comes to social media for your company. Make sure you review your strategy on a regular basis, keeping an eye out for developments on each of the platforms that you use, so that you can utilise these advancements. Also, as your business grows, so too will your requirements when it comes to social media. What channels you may have initially disregarded, you may find use for as your company grows.
Most of all, don’t be afraid to experiment. As a start-up, the early stages are all a big learning process, and that counts for social media marketing too, and, you only truly grow by making mistakes and learning from them.
Ask any small business owner how important marketing is and they will likely agree that it’s one of the most important keys to a successful SME. But in the day-to-day reality of management it’s often one of the first things to be overlooked or have resource cut from, particularly when on a tight budget.
But whatever the status of your marketing initiative, there are a few essentials that you cannot afford to skimp on, so here are three Marketing Musts to ensure your SME has the best chance of success.
Your Website is your Window
Despite the old saying, books are statistically always judged by their covers within the first 8 seconds of seeing them. The same is true for your website, the single most important touchpoint for SME’s. You need to showcase your offer quickly, cleanly and memorably before the potential customer changes browser tabs and you’ve lost them.
There is of course no one size fits all solution for how best to do this, and different market categories have different norms and conventions that need to be conformed to or, in some cases, disrupted. Knowing the competitive landscape is important here, so take the time to research what the other guys are doing and ensure you stay ahead of the curve. Free analytics tools can show you engagement metrics with you pages and content, so you can really get a handle on what works and what doesn’t.
And with 27% of ecommerce sales coming from tablet and mobile, ensuring your site is optimised for these devices is essential.
When looking for inspiration for website design, do what all great advertisers do and steal! Awards bodies like http://www.webaward.org/ have a back catalogue of past winners so you can see how other small business have cut through with creativity.
Strengthen your SEO & PPC
Having a beautiful website of course, is useless if no one can find it. While you can use available marketing budget to boost your findability with PPC (and make sure you take advantage of free credits when you do), as a standard you should be ensuring your touchpoints are optimised to ensure they are discoverable by the major search engines.
For your website, there is a lot that goes into this, ranging from optimizing your social channels, to optimizing the content on your site so that your snippets (the little bit of blurb you see with search results) are the most clickable they can be. But as a general principle you want to ensure that your site is delivering against user needs and ensuring your page content delivers against the most common search queries, which can be achieved with search engine optimisation (SEO).
For local business that rely on footfall, there are other important discoverability touchpoints in Maps services and review sites like Yelp. Ensuring your listings on these sites are up to date, with the correct contact information, opening hours etc is crucial to capture people using local search. Something that seems simple but is disproportionately effective are photos – having lots of up to date, high quality pics of your business and product makes you look as good as you can do to potential visitors.
Streamline your Social
Every Facebook user knows that social is important, and marketers often sound like cracked records for going on about the various different social platforms and the need to be utilising them at every opportunity. However, for small businesses this approach really needs to be scaleable, as unlike big brands with content teams they likely won’t have the resources to be active on every social network.
It really important therefore to find the platforms that can really work hardest for you. Facebook is still a standard, but with Twitter’s numbers dwindling there is good reason to question if you need to supply real time information. Similarly, platforms like Snapchat offer a great way to connect with and engage an audience, but with over 50% of UK users being under 24, it could well not be right for your audience. For some businesses such as Food or Fashion, a visual presence will be essential so Instagram or Pinterest should be considered as a primary platform. And with the rise of livestreaming apps like periscope, consider how you could use this for some interesting content like a live q&a, product unveiling or grand opening.
With any network you might want to use, ensure your content is authentic to you and is right for the platform, and, with video, not too long (don’t forget - most users click away from a video within the first 6 seconds!).