Archive for category Social Media

The biggest challenges Businesses face today

What are the biggest challenges businesses face today, was the question posed to members of the Business Exposure Group at a recent meeting, and below are the 10 most pressing concerns.

According to the CBI change is the new normal.

Growing revenue is the top challenge for businesses employing 5-30 employees.  Hiring employees is the biggest challenge for businesses with 30-50 employees and government regulations becomes the biggest issue for business with 50 or more employees.

What are the 10 big challenges for SME’s.

  • Uncertainty about customer trends – does this lead to short term focus, and does it make you feel vulnerable?
  • Financial Management – cash flow. Larger customers are imposing long payment terms, so how are you addressing this?
  • Monitoring performance – are KPI’s as good as they sound even though they compare historical information or are there better ways.
  • Recruiting the right talent – employee working flexibility is important to retain good staff, but increasingly stress in the workplace is a real challenge in small businesses when staff have to be able to multi-task.
  • Technology – it should be outsourced to reduce demand on administrators, but is investment in technology an asset or a handicap. Distinguishing which technology will attain the highest return in terms of time and investment is a problem.  The big issue is, is the IT fit for purpose.
  • Information overload. There are now big digital challenges for meeting the expectations of customers, together with finding and keeping people who can digitally transform a company that delivers a bespoke customer experience.
  • Customer Service – what is the right level, are customers’ expectations too high? Managing the relationship is key
  • Maintaining reputation – there is genuine concern about reputation management with easy access to social media and particular concern about cyber security disrupting the day to day functionality of the business.
  • Knowing when to embrace change is a worry and knowing how to balance quality with growth. Businesses are stocking less and relying on a lean supply chains, but is this clever or does it open up crippling disruptions.
  • Regulations and compliance are becoming more and more demanding of staff time

Everyone was in agreement that running a business is getting harder and is forever challenging, but all were motivated about the challenges and were ready to face them head on.

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Twitter – What business can we get from it?

Since the rise of social media, new rules have had to be ‘drawn up’ on etiquette and proper usage, especially when it comes to businesses.

It’s not just about the content you post, but also how you present your account, who you interact with, and how you interact with them. Even if you master all that, you then need to be able to ensure that not only is your account visible, but also feels like an integrated part of your company, rather than a marketing tool that’s been sewed on because ‘everyone else is doing it’.

With regards to your activity on Twitter, i.e. who to follow and engage in conversations with, consider these vital tips:

  • You need to follow customers, suppliers, peers, and competitors
  • Find key people in your industry and connect them to you network
  • Organise whom you follow and don’t follow everyone who follows you
  • Identify keywords as well as the experts in your industry. Search with search.twitter.com and search a key term.
  • Once you identify the right people, look at whom they are following and who is following them as your potential pool of people you can tap into.
  • Update your profile picture and twitter background to show your branding – tell people what you do, explain how you help, and show a little business personality
  • Twitter is so much more than a sales marketing tool – it’s also good for recruitment – follow and engage with your next potential key salesman.

Then it’s all about making sure Twitter feels like an organic, integrated part of your business. To do this, create a twitter-landing page and publicise your Twitter account by adding “Follow me on Twitter” into your professional communications.

To see how well you have integrated your brand name and to connect with more relevant people, search for your business name so you can engage with everyone that searches for you, and you can see first hand how visible you are, as well as responding to any negative comments out in the public domain if necessary.

However if you don’t have time to use Twitter daily, then set up an automated feed and send it to your Twitter account. Doing so populates your feed with fresh content when you don’t have time, and there are many 3rd party applications such as HootSuite and TweetDeck that can do this.

The use of 3rd party apps is vital to using Twitter successfully, in the same way that petrol is vital to run your car.

Above all, using Twitter successfully is all about honing in on the general tweets that are relevant to your area of interest, and then acting upon them. Think of it as the radio – when you turn on the radio you don’t fret about the 24 hours of broadcasting that you missed yesterday, you just focus on what’s playing now.

The same is true of Twitter – act upon what’s happening now.

This article was taken from a discussion of the Business Exposure Group.

If you are a Director or business owner and would like to attend one of their informative round-table discussions, please contact philipdrazen@bxgroup.co.uk

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Can our Tweets help get business out of Twitter?

Twitter – What can anyone really say in 140 characters?

Aside from being snide about whatever happens to be on TV or divulging pockets of minutia about your everyday life, Twitter can be a remarkably useful business tool. The 140 characters and 2.7 seconds to get attention have freed us all to be really focused on a succinct message.

However Twitter only works for your business if you work to use Twitter properly. But how do you do this? Let’s take a look at some do’s, don’ts and handy tips for the business use of Twitter.

Firstly, the use of Twitter should be seen as part of branding, and act as a seed for your business name. It’s for this reason that the Twitter user within the company must be someone who is knowledgeable about the issues you are raising; otherwise the tweeting itself can seem rather aimless.

There may be a lot of talk on Twitter but it may sometimes seem like it’s not actually going anywhere, so is it just someone filling up the day?

It’s imperative the content of tweets are relevant, while not being too uptight. Focus on these key points:

  • Many businesses struggle to find topics. They take their knowledge for granted – disseminate it.
  • With effort you can figure out topics that spark real interest. Brainstorm 5-7 conversation topics and then a list of 10 more things within each category – this will give you a supply of tweets.
  • The best twitter topics for business are messages that provide practical solutions to problems your potential customers face every day.
  • Link to information that aligns you with the industry you represent
  • Promote your blogs, video and email marketing, as well as key people in your network
  • Retweet information that shows you support allies and gets you noticed
  • Use # to highlight specific target topics, people and conversations
  • Use Twitter to show your fun side and personality and to create immediacy and urgency
  • Above all, define your purpose and goal – if the only reason you are on Twitter is to drive traffic to your website then you need to rethink your strategy. It can do so much more than that.

Generally, the right way to promote your business on Twitter is to participate – talk about new happenings at your business, mention clients and people you are collaborating with, and pay attention to your followers and engage in conversation.

The wrong way is to always talk about your business. Twitter is not about selling, it’s about engaging first, and a sale may come from it.

This article was taken from a discussion of the Business Exposure Group.

If you are a Director or business owner and would like to attend one of their informative round-table discussions, please contact philipdrazen@bxgroup.co.uk

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Content Marketing – Do’s, Don’ts and Considerations

contentdiagramWarren Buffett once said, “To succeed in business, build a strong relationship with the media.” It has also been posited that today, if you are in business, you are a media organisation.

Three quarters of B2B and B2C customers say they prefer informational articles to adverts, while 80% and 74% of a business sample say the most effective ways of marketing are via social media and articles respectively.

A lot of this is executed via inbound marketing, the art of earning customers attention by producing content they find valuable. According to The Whole Brain Group, it has five-stages:

  1. Create compelling content for all stages of the buying cycle, such as blog posts, eBooks, and videos
  2. Get found by people who need your products and services using advanced search marketing techniques and social media
  3. Convert visitors into leads using landings pages with clear calls to action, and then nurture the relationships using social media and email marketing
  4. Convert qualified leads into customers by focusing on customers at the bottom of the sales funnel (those ready to buy)
  5. Analyze and adjust your marketing tactics to determine the best ways to reach and convert potential customers

Since then inbound marketing has evolved into content marketing, but the core principles remain the same. Over half of a sample group of business owners report content marketing is the most impactful tool for generating leads, ahead of brand awareness and sales.

Therefore, executing content marketing is key, as customers are no longer fishing in the old pond- now they are fishing in Google, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. If you aren’t on page one of Google, to a consumer you don’t exist.

Your marketing department should be producing content all the time– remarkable content is like a magnet. Sometimes it doesn’t even have to come from your marketing department.

Perhaps one of your employees has worked with a customer who has had an interesting experience regarding your businesses field of expertise, and that employee’s gained knowledge from those events could be turned into useful content in the eyes of your customers.

Another key area is the headline. Over three-quarters of the people who visit the page with your content will either skim read or click off it, so it’s important to grab them with the headline. Stick to a set of rules:

  • Know your post inside out so you can work on a headline that gets to the heart of the subject matter
  • Always use how, what, why and when
  • Make an audacious promise to the reader
  • Use interesting adjectives

With regards to the content itself, create genuinely useful content for many niches of your target audiences, not to overtly promote your business, but to build rapport. Also create on advice documents that your costumers would want, and then give it away for free, but make sure they have to contact you for the content, thus creating a lead. With video marketing, publish the transcript of the video and add it to your sales literature.

All of this will educate your customer about new ideas that will nudge them towards your funnel. It doesn’t attempt to convert people immediately, instead sewing seeds to be harvested later.

So how does this fit with landing page optimisation, which aims to convert people immediately? Well, content marketing is about romancing prospects, where is landing pages are more like honing pick-up lines.

So how do you get conversion with content marketing?

Put simply, testing in moderation. If you are not testing you are squandering traffic- 60% create new content, 40% test and refine.

Here are some general considerations regarding the process of content marketing:

  • Get into database marketing – your database has value
  • Marketing is not a part-time job
  • Don’t spend all you money on developing a product and say you have no money left for marketing
  • Forget ego marketing and focus on benefit marketing
  • Focus on quality and build what customers need, not what you think they need.

Finally, perhaps the most important thing to remember about your content:

Content is only king if it resonates with your audience.

This article was taken from a discussion of the Business Exposure Group.

If you are a Director or business owner and would like to attend one of their informative round-table discussions, please contact philipdrazen@bxgroup.co.uk

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The relevance of the QR code in 2012 – or is it just a fad?

Is the QR (Quick Response) code relevant to all business types?

It’s the black square maze on business and advertising literature.

By the end of 2013, 85% of mobile phones will be smart phones which contain the necessary technology to read these super bar codes. There is a problem that if the code just links to your website, not all websites are smart phone friendly. To maximise communications you need to make sure the smart phone can easily show what’s on your website.

The real power lies in creating a call to action – perhaps providing vouchers so that when people click on the QR codes it guides them into the system so they can get some benefit from visiting your site.

QR codes were originally established for the manufacturing process, and enabled assembly workers to find out what they had to do at a given point in the production process. Now it’s used widely for marketing purposes, but it also continues to be used in manufacturing. Wholesale catalogues can have supplier QR codes on individual stock items, which can link to a video showing how it is manufactured. A real value added concept!

QR codes allow you to track your return on your investment via analytics which indicates who is responding to this form of marketing. It allows you to get immediate feedback in relation to the messages you’re putting out.

QR codes could be the next big thing!

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Are you building business relationships using social media?

It’s a myth among web professionals that every organisation is capitalising on the benefits of social media. In fact, 94% of small business owners say they do not use it because their customers do not use it.

The advantages of using social media in business are well-documented but it needs to be done properly if it’s to have a positive effect as half-hearted attempts will achieve little.

To make social media work for your business you need to have a plan. If you do not have a strategy and time to manage social media, it’s a pointless exercise.

As a good starting point, it’s advisable to simply ‘lurk’ and monitor what other people are doing on the social media networks before trying to work out how it can help you.  Spend some time on either Linkedin, Twitter or facebook and get to understand how others are behaving.

This gives you specific marketing intelligence and allows you to understand how to play the different media.

You cannot set up a social media strategy and think customers will just arrive on your doorstep. You need to establish a two-way communication and ask your followers/customers for feedback, as well as respond to their questions.

Businesses need to be personable and build relationships with customers through social media. We need to be perceived as industry experts and when we do comment we need to provide relevant information.

Too many people have just jumped on the social media bandwagon because people are talking about it. It requires considerable work related to engagement and understanding about what you’re trying to achieve and how to send an appropriate message into the market.

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