Be image conscious and flexible: marketing tips for small businesses

It is essential you think carefully about the image you want to project and spend time on a marketing plan, says James Caan

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Marketing is essential for the success of any business. It doesn’t matter how great the product or service you are offering is if nobody knows about it. You need to market every strand of your business – and that includes yourself.

Businesses are built by people and their success is dependent on the quality of those people. Both you and your employees represent your company so it is essential you think about the image you are projecting. When creating and implementing your marketing plan, it is important to think about your branding and how you want your business to be perceived, both in the short and longer term. Here are my key tips for successfully marketing a small business.

Know your audience

The way you market your business will depend on your sector, customers and service – one size won’t fit all. You need to make sure you are targeting your campaigns, spending time researching your audience and focusing on the message you are trying to communicate.

Make sure your actions are relevant to your target audience and know the best avenues to reach them. There is no point using a marketing channel that your audience won’t see.

Have clear objectives

It is important that marketing is not an afterthought. Marketing activity needs to be planned in advance if it is going to yield results, so ensure you have a clear target in mind. Do you want to increase sales, drive traffic to your website or simply raise awareness?

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Capitalising on social media to grow your business

Social media reach

For many small businesses, expensive advertising campaigns or big, splashy PR stunts simply aren’t an option. This means that in the initial phases, business owners are faced with a challenge: how to build the brand awareness your company needs while keeping costs down?

There are a number of efficient PR and marketing strategies that companies can implement to build awareness among their target customers, but one area that is often overlooked by small businesses, or executed poorly, is social media. Social media, when used strategically, can give you direct engagement with many of your target audiences. Twitter now has grown to 241 million monthly active users, while Facebook has 1.2 billion members. Obviously, for those companies starting out, these channels give access to vast numbers of people, whether it’s to raise awareness, create engagement or drive revenues.

The possibilities presented by social media channels are endless, but how can businesses ensure that they use them in the right way, to support their business objectives, rather than wasting time and resources to no end? It is all too easy to think “we need to be on social media” and not get any further than that. Unsurprisingly, however, a successful social media platform needs a strong strategy behind it, if it’s going to generate results.

Like much communication, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, but there are some basic questions that companies can ask themselves about creating relevant and engaging strategies.

Who am I trying to reach?

This might sound obvious, but too many businesses launch into social media without thinking about what they want to get out of it. Unsurprisingly, this rarely yields results. Instead, companies need to think about what they are trying to achieve, and work out their strategy from there. A key part of this is understanding your audience. Are you a business-to-business brand trying to reach CEOs, or are you a consumer brand whose main customers will be mothers? Do you have secondary audiences such as regulators, journalists or NGOs? Establish clearly who your primary and secondary audiences are.

What channels are most appropriate to reach these people?

It’s important to think carefully about what channels are most appropriate for your key audiences. If you’re a B2B brand, for instance, you may find that you have limited success using Facebook.

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Mother of all inventions – how I used technology to build my business

Toasting successAs a parent and entrepreneur, I need to be constantly connected regardless of location, writes Melissa Edmunds

I have been working on the Safesip invention for a number of years and began trading in 2012. The idea first sprang to mind when my young son knocked over a drink in a restaurant and also when my father was taken ill and hospitalised. I realised that a solution was needed to stop drinks spilling and to make life easier for people who need assistance when drinking. That’s when Safesip was born – a drink cover that is simple to use and stretches over almost any glass, cup or can to stops spills.

After that, my business grew quickly. I gained clients ranging from the general public, specialist retailers and e-commerce merchants to medical organisations and trusts. However, as a mother I also had other more pressing responsibilities to tend to, so communication and contact has never been more crucial.

Using technology to improve communication

As a mother and entrepreneur, I need to ensure I’m constantly connected regardless of location, so I implemented RingCentral‘s cloud-based telephone system. It allows me to run my business through a single telephone number that I can route to my mobile or landline. This means I never miss a critical business call, even when on a school run or on a family weekend away. A year ago I realised how crucial this is for the business. I was away from the office when I received a call from an NHS trust that wanted to do some trials of the product. Getting hold of the right person at the right time in organisations as diverse and big as the NHS is extremely difficult so being contactable when the call came in meant we were able to set up the trial pretty quickly.

I also wanted to ensure I had a professional image for the business and opted for an 0800 free phone number that I could publicise on the website, stationery, business cards and all company materials. The number lends my business professional credibility as there is no cost to the caller.

Keeping a lid on costs

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Invitation to Intel’s Supply Connections event on Wednesday 21st May 2014, London

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Intel Supply Connections – Promoting Women at the Heart of Economic Growth  

Date: Wednesday 21st May 2014
Time: 9am to 3pm
Venue: Council Chamber, Battersea Arts Centre, London
Cost: £20 per person + VAT + Eventbrite booking fee
RSVP/register by: Tuesday 13th May 2014

You can register for this event online and find out more information here.

please note, a maximum of two people per company can attend.

It’s no secret that healthy competition leads to better products and services and a strengthened economy. Entrepreneurs have always been the catalysts for economic growth, and Intel has long been a champion of their efforts. To continue this tradition, Intel provides individuals with the technological skills, literacy, and resources they need to help their businesses succeed. Along with this we are dedicated to building an innovative and diverse supply chain reflecting the market and supporting the communities we work in. We believe that when an individual’s ideas are given the chance to flourish, the results are overwhelmingly positive for the entire community. Intel was created by entrepreneurs and supported by the people who believed in them. We are driving a new initiative in the supply chain and giving individuals the skills to compete in any economy. We are hosting a conference in collaboration with Kelly Services dedicated to women owned business to promote women in our supply chain.

This event is aimed at majority owned women’s businesses – those that are minimum 51% owned by one or more women – who provide products and services in the following sectors: marketing, HR, recruitment, catering, training, advertising, merchandise, events, corporate services, facilities management, legal and technology. If your business falls into another sector and you are interested in attending, please contact Maggie Berry at WEConnect International: mberry@weconnectinternational.org.

 

Small businesses gain prestigious free advertising as part of Your Ad Here project

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Over 140 businesses applied online for a chance to be part of the Your Ad Here project which will see posters promoting 35 businesses within the Olympic boroughs placed on empty shop hoardings across Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

The project, which was commissioned by the London Legacy Development Corporation and carried out by Moniker Projects and Create London, will give the winning small business owners three years of free advertising.

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To keep up to date with the latest Make It Global news, like our page on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. Share your own tips with other Make It Global businesses by using the hashtag #UELMakeItGlobal