Articles Tagged with Marketing

Can anyone see you?

You’re good at what you do, but how do you let other people see that?
Sitting and worrying about it won’t help. Take action!

pressme | can anyone see you?

I speak to businesses all the time and hear the same complaint again and again: they are good at what they do but no one knows what they do.

With the internet, blogs and social media available to us, you’d think this would no longer be a problem. If anything, it can be even more difficult with the amount of ‘noise’ produced by online marketing. It’s like street market traders trying to be heard by shouting louder all at the same time, only to create a hubbub where no words can be made out by anyone trying to listen.

What can you do to help people find you?

I think what is most important is to take action.

The challenge of getting your business known can be overwhelming and reduce us to sitting in our offices wondering what to do.

Put the worry aside and spend the time instead taking actions that will work for you.

There are moony small actions we can take quickly, for example:

  • List your business in free directories
  • Make sure your business name and logo are displayed on your commercial vehicles
  • Ask to leave leaflets or cards in stores you shop at regularly
  • Go to networking events and introduce yourself to new people
  • Host an event or workshop in your shop or office
  • Wear branded shirts, jackets or a badge on your suit
  • Take the chance to speak to groups of people about your business or industry
  • Phone up or email your local newspaper or radio station to tell them your business news
  • Ask your existing customers or contacts if they know people who need your product/service
  • Make sure your social media profiles are up to date and monitor them for responses
  • Use opportunities to exhibit at events
  • Support a local community group by providing help

These are just a few ideas and will be more suitable to some businesses than to others.

Will they generate more sales? Probably not on their own, but the more action you take, the more you increase awareness of your business.

Create your own PR and marketing machine

And whatever you do, keep on doing it.

Speaking to one group will not necessarily achieve the results you want immediately, but what if people like your presentation and recommend you to other groups? This could generate more opportunities to speak where you can display your pop-up banner and hand out leaflets.

Suddenly you have created your own PR and marketing machine and 10s or 100s of people will become aware of your business.

There are many ways to create awareness if we don’t let the fear of it stop us.

Our competitors are doing this, so why don’t we?

When enough is enough there’s a PR opportunity for you

Sometimes I get phone calls from business owners asking nervously if I’d be interested in writing about their business. I ask them what they do to find out more about their story.

These conversations often reveal businesses with very interesting stories. Of course I want to write about them.

It’s easy to think that businesses with their own PR and marketing staff or who employ PR agencies are the only ones who can get in the press.

I’ll let you into a secret. Their press releases are very often not that interesting and some of them bombard me with ‘news’. If I write about the same business every week, readers will get bored.

I am always looking out for undiscovered businesses with a story to tell. I also like businesses who send me press releases on a regular basis, but don’t bombard me. Many other journalists will feel the same.

So think that you could actually be answering a journalist’s prayer to receive something fresh, something different. They have pages to fill every day, week or month. Give them something good to put on them.

No money or time for marketing?

Times are tough and although I hear a lot of business people say they need to do more marketing, often this comes to nothing. But if trade is slow, doing nothing won’t improve it.

Reasons often given for inaction include lack of time or money, but perhaps another reason is that many people don’t know where to start.

This is a shame because there are many useful actions businesses can take that are quick, easy and don’t cost anything.

One way of looking at marketing is as storytelling. People love stories and somewhere in every business there is at least one interesting story to tell.

Stories break the ice when you’re networking, help you build business relationships, enable you to sell your products and services without realising you’re selling and can win you valuable PR coverage. A story can translate into many different formats.

Can anyone tell a story?

Yes. When I am working as a journalist, the part I enjoy most is when someone calls up out of the blue and, sometimes hesitantly, starts telling me a fascinating story about their business, products or services.

I search for stories like this to interest and excite my readers. Often these stories are more interesting than press releases which some PR agencies write at considerable expense to their clients. (There are also very good PR agencies and we like to think we write a mean press release ourselves.)

So as a result of picking up the phone and telling their story that business has obtained valuable newspaper coverage. It can and does work.

How can this help us start marketing?

It’s just one example of what we can achieve when we think about it and take that first step to do something. Yes, pay marketing specialists when you have the budget, but don’t let that stop you before then.

What is important is to start telling our story. If we don’t, no one will hear it.

In these z2ztips I want to share some ordinary observations on marketing that I hope will be useful. If they help just one business, that’ll be reward enough.

A love hate relationship

Love is in the air.

And all the time I seem to be exhorted to love this and love that. I must love parks or love my heart or cycling or fish or [pluck any word out of the air].

Some people in marketing must have fallen for the love concept big time.

I haven’t.

I like raspberries. I grow raspberries. I like picking and eating plump, juicy raspberries. I like making raspberry jam and raspberry sponges. I don’t love them though.

Nor do I love cars, confectionery, gadgets, television programmes, web sites, power tools or [insert randomly generated name of object].

I love those dear to me: my wife, my family and special people in my life.

This lazy marketing concept debases real love.

Does my wife really want to be placed on the same level as a manufactured dessert or a mass produced garment in a high street store?

Please stop it.

And now I’m going to make sure I don’t say I love this or that so that each time I do use this special word it conveys my full meaning.

Look at the price and . . .

. . . bin it.

That’s what I did when I received an unsolicited email. The first part of the subject heading was the price, which was followed by the name of a seminar being promoted.

I deleted it.

Then I retrieved it because I wondered whether the company actually got any response as this approach made no need to persuade me, but rather turned me against the offering straight away. And it’s made me think: I don’t like being sold to like this, but perhaps this company has found it to work.

That’s one of the important things about any form of marketing and sales. We’re not selling to ourselves, but to other people who often have very different tastes and preferences.

I still don’t like this approach and binned the email again.

What do you think?

How to write the best social media profile . . . for you

Many of the best marketers learn the rules of marketing so they can break them to stand out from the crowd. Social media is a lot newer so the rules are still being written, if it’ll ever be possible to have rules in such a fast-moving, constantly shifting environment.
So how can you write an effective personal profile to post on social media sites?
It’s about you . . .
Whereas you’re probably used to writing about your business, not yourself, social media is about people. Potential followers will want to know about you, the person, and a combination of your business and personal interests, experience and expertise. Sometimes it can be the most unlikely topic that connects two people and creates a valuable business relationship, so your profile has to be as open as possible while remaining within the safe limits of what you are prepared to publish online.
. . . connecting with other people
You want to connect with other people. If you have a social media strategy, you’ll have already identified the type of person you want to attract and what interests they have. Perhaps you’re looking for new clients, suppliers, business partners, advisers, a business support network or friends in the same field. If you’re using social media for business, then your goals will probably include one or more of these.
By entering relevant keywords in your profile you can make it easier for your targeted group to find you in searches, while your profile’s content and style will then attract them to follow or contact you. The ideal reaction is “he sounds interesting” or “I need to connect with her”. If you achieve these, you’ll attract your target group to follow you by choice without using automated following tools.
Developing your personal style and tone
A quality portrait photograph and suitable logos to brand your business create a good visual first impression. Your text has to go beyond this to convince readers that you are a genuine, approachable and valuable contact.
Developing the right tone of voice is important. You want people to hear in their minds how you would greet them in real life at a business meeting or other event. You’ll probably want a mix of professional and friendly, although depending on your business sector people could expect you to be more formal/informal, conservative/modern or representative of the way people talk in your industry.
This is a very personal choice and you will have to decide what is suitable. Remember, nothing is set in stone and if you find your profile does not work effectively at first, you can refine it or even re-write it completely. Sometimes experimenting can be useful to discover what works and what doesn’t.
One thing to consider carefully is the use of humour. Everyone has a different sense of humour and what you find funny may strike others as anything other than funny. Humour can be very effective in communicating, but needs to be handled very carefully. There seem to be more failed comedians using social media than successful ones.
Heading
Where a site lets you post a heading, this gives you the opportunity to summarise yourself in five or six words. You could say “an accountant with 20 years’ experience”, but that sounds boring. “Award-winning accountant who understands business” suggests you are a leader in your field and are able to get beyond numbers and filing tax returns. “Approachable accountant helping Berkshire businesses” shows that you are easy to work with and serve clients in a specific place.
As with tone, your heading is a matter of personal choice. There are many different approaches, but all of them enable you to highlight the one or two most important characteristics you want readers to notice. Most sites let you edit your profile, so you can change your heading to reflect a change in interest, different times of year or events.
Profile text
What do you write when faced with an empty dialogue box? Well, what are you trying to achieve through your social media strategy? Who do you want to attract? What is it you want to interest them in? What balance of business and personal information do you want to give? The answers to these question will help you sort the information to include.
Also, how do you intend to participate in a specific service, such as twitter, or on a forum? Will you write tweets giving out advice, find people to help on a specific issue, publish blogs on a specialist topic? Will you be projecting a business persona or are your opinions going to be purely personal? Do you want to establish yourself as an expert in your field or do you just want to talk to people for fun? Again, these are serious questions that need to be answered if you want to achieve specific aims.
Even if you want to establish yourself as a serious expert, it’s going to be you talking, not your business. So write in the first person as if you were speaking, using I, rather than in the third person, using he/she/it, which is usually the case in business and could sound overly formal here. However, you probably don’t want to repeat I, I, I all the time as it will put many people off. If the profile has separate personal and business sections, you can write about the business as ‘it’ or ‘we’ in that section.
Highlight your achievements and expertise, but think how you would view someone who arrives at a business meeting, then launches into how successful they are, what awards they’ve won and much business they’ve got. Be careful that your achievements do not come across as bragging.
How will you know if what you’ve written is suitable? Let a trusted colleague or associate read it and give you constructive criticism. They could have some very good ideas for improving it. Don’t worry about criticism, because writing about yourself is one of the most difficult things anyone can do and probably the reason why so many people put off writing profiles.
Also, check you grammar, punctuation and spelling. If you can, ask someone else to check it: a fresh eye is more likely to pick up typos.
What’s the best length?
Some profiles limit how many words you can enter, so use this to focus on what you really want to say. If there is no limit, it’s still a good idea to be succinct. If you have several things to talk about, split these into sections. If you’re able to use html in the profile, you could create basic navigation so people can click on a heading to go to that section. However, if it’s too long, people could just give up. The best balance is where you write enough for a reader to find you interesting: not too little and not too much.
How do people find you?
Many social media services and sites feature keyword searching, so include relevant words to feature in search results. Think about what words and phrases your targets are likely to enter in the search box. Again, if you can use html, you could use the keywords to link to your web site to drive more web traffic to it.
Where do I start?
Taking this all into account, why not start writing your profile now? If you can’t decide on which approach is for you, look at other people’s profiles for inspiration. How do those in the same industry write their profiles? Don’t copy them, but decide what you like about them and what you don’t like. Adopt the approaches you like and apply these to writing your own original profile.
Let’s get personal
Remember that your profile is about you: it’s personal. It’s there to make you stand out, so the more individual you can make it, the more readers are likely to find it interesting. Don’t be afraid to experiment, as most sites let you edit your text. There are millions of profiles out there, so if you discover a unique way to present yourself that works well, then use it.
Do you have your own profile tips?
There are so many personal choices to be made when writing your profile. What do you find works particularly well? Please share your experience and tips.

Many of the best marketers learn the rules of marketing so they can break them to stand out from the crowd. Social media is a lot newer, so the rules are still being written, if it’ll ever be possible to have rules in such a fast-moving, constantly shifting environment.

So how can you write an effective personal profile to post on social media sites?

It’s about you . . .

Whereas you’re probably used to writing about your business, not yourself, social media is about people. Potential followers will want to know about you, the person, and a combination of your business and personal interests, experience and expertise. Sometimes it can be the most unlikely topic that connects two people and creates a valuable business relationship, so your profile has to be as open as possible while remaining within the safe limits of what you are prepared to publish online.

. . . connecting with other people

You want to connect with other people. If you have a social media strategy, you’ll have already identified the type of person you want to attract and what interests they have. Perhaps you’re looking for new clients, suppliers, business partners, advisers, a business support network or friends in the same field. If you’re using social media for business, then your goals will probably include one or more of these.

By entering relevant keywords in your profile you can make it easier for your targeted group to find you in searches, while your profile’s content and style will then attract them to follow or contact you. The ideal reaction is “he sounds interesting” or “I need to connect with her”. If you achieve these, you’ll attract your target group to follow you by choice without using automated following tools.

Developing your personal style and tone

A quality portrait photograph and suitable logos to brand your business create a good visual first impression. Your text has to go beyond this to convince readers that you are a genuine, approachable and valuable contact.

Developing the right tone of voice is important. You want people to hear in their minds how you would greet them in real life at a business meeting or other event. You’ll probably want a mix of professional and friendly, although depending on your business sector people could expect you to be more formal/informal, conservative/modern or representative of the way people talk in your industry.

This is a very personal choice and you will have to decide what is suitable. Remember, nothing is set in stone and if you find your profile does not work effectively at first, you can refine it or even re-write it completely. Sometimes experimenting can be useful to discover what works and what doesn’t.

One thing to consider carefully is the use of humour. Everyone has a different sense of humour and what you find funny may strike others as anything other than funny. Humour can be very effective in communicating, but needs to be handled carefully. There seem to be more failed comedians using social media than successful ones.

Attract followers with an interesting heading

Where a site lets you post a heading, this gives you the opportunity to summarise yourself in five or six words. You could say “an accountant with 20 years’ experience”, but that sounds boring. “Award-winning accountant who understands business” suggests you are a leader in your field and are able to get beyond numbers and filing tax returns. “Approachable accountant helping Berkshire businesses” shows that you are easy to work with and serve clients in a specific place.

As with tone, your heading is a matter of personal choice. There are many different approaches, but all of them enable you to highlight the one or two most important characteristics you want readers to notice. Most sites let you edit your profile, so you can change your heading to reflect a change in interest, different times of year or events.

Shaping your profile text

What do you write when faced with an empty dialogue box? Well, what are you trying to achieve through your social media strategy? Who do you want to attract? What is it you want to interest them in? What balance of business and personal information do you want to give? The answers to these question will help you sort the information to include.

Also, how do you intend to participate in a specific service, such as twitter, or on a forum? Will you write tweets giving out advice, find people to help on a specific issue, publish blogs on a specialist topic? Will you be projecting a business persona or are your opinions going to be purely personal? Do you want to establish yourself as an expert in your field or do you just want to talk to people for fun? Again, these are serious questions that need to be answered if you want to achieve specific aims.

Even if you want to establish yourself as a serious expert, it’s going to be you talking, not your business. So write in the first person as if you were speaking, using I, rather than in the third person, using he/she/it, which is usually the case in business and could sound overly formal here. However, you probably don’t want to repeat I, I, I all the time as it will put many people off. If the profile has separate personal and business sections, you can write about the business as ‘it’ or ‘we’ in that section.

Highlight your achievements and expertise, but think how you would view someone who arrives at a business meeting, then launches into how successful they are, what awards they’ve won and much business they’ve got. Be careful that your achievements do not come across as bragging.

How will you know if what you’ve written is suitable? Let a trusted colleague or associate read it and give you constructive criticism. They could have some very good ideas for improving it. Don’t worry about criticism, because writing about yourself is one of the most difficult things anyone can do and probably the reason why so many people put off writing profiles.

Also, check you grammar, punctuation and spelling. If you can, ask someone else to check it: a fresh eye is more likely to pick up typos.

What’s the best length for a profile?

Some profiles limit how many words you can enter, so use this to focus on what you really want to say. If there is no limit, it’s still a good idea to be succinct. If you have several things to talk about, split these into sections. If you’re able to use html in the profile, you could create basic navigation so people can click on a heading to go to that section. However, if it’s too long, people could just give up. The best balance is where you write enough for a reader to find you interesting: not too little and not too much.

How do people find you?

Many social media services and sites feature keyword searching, so include relevant words to feature in search results. Think about what words and phrases your targets are likely to enter in the search box. Again, if you can use html, you could use the keywords to link to your web site to drive more web traffic to it.

Where do you start?

Taking this all into account, why not start writing your profile now? If you can’t decide on which approach is for you, look at other people’s profiles for inspiration. How do those in the same industry write their profiles? Don’t copy them, but decide what you like about them and what you don’t like. Adopt the approaches you like and apply these to writing your own original profile.

Let’s get personal

Remember that your profile is about you: it’s personal. It’s there to make you stand out, so the more individual you can make it, the more readers are likely to find it interesting. Don’t be afraid to experiment, as most sites let you edit your text. There are millions of profiles out there, so if you discover a unique way to present yourself that works well, then use it.

Do you have your own profile tips?

There are so many personal choices to be made when writing your profile. What do you find works particularly well? Please share your experience and tips.

Is vague the new grey in PR?

Is it the hot weather or is there another reason for a plague of vague press releases?

Lately, as part of my journalist role, I’ve been receiving a lot of press releases that not only miss the occasional detail but sometimes the entire story: awards to companies for something or other, presentations to an individual who worked for a couple of organisations, a financial services provider supplying . . . financial services.

Now, every journalist has specific interests and what’s interesting about the role is discovering a nugget about the topic or area you cover. I enjoy picking up the phone to find out more about a story, but not to dig out the basic details so I can figure out whether it’s interesting or not.

These press releases have come from press offices of UK government agencies and business organisations as well as from private companies. Does it matter?

Well, clients are paying fees to PR agencies and employers paying staff to produce and distribute these press releases when a lot businesses now promote themselves very effectively. Last week, I suggested an idea for a photo to accompany a company’s press release and the next morning I received a high quality image from them by email. There was no PR agency involved and I didn’t receive a tiny 72dpi, badly posed image, like the government agency sent.

If that’s the case, why use a PR agency or corporate marketing professional? Why not do it yourself?

I see it as a warning to anyone in PR, marketing and communications to sharpen up and provide the value that clients and employers expect . . . or perhaps they won’t want to pay for us any more.

Posted via web from z2zine

Was it 25 years ago I first published marketing material online?

In 1985 British Airways promoted me to the grand position of Sales Information Officer. What did that mean? I don’t think anyone knew. I wasn’t sure myself.

In fact, we were a small department, a colleague and I, who had been recruited to develop the BA Prestel site into an online catalogue. Prestel was the British Telecom videotext system (like Ceefax and Oracle) but more flexible and responsive. 95% of UK travel agents used it to book package tours. BA decided that, as agents already used the system, it should develop its own site to sell scheduled air travel services to agents.

And so we set about developing what grew into a 7,000-screen online brochure with full details of the product illustrated by heavily pixelated diagrams and illustrations. I spent months creating fares tables and editing fare rules for every fare BA sold for travel from the UK to its worldwide destinations. I think the fares section ran to 2,000 pages.

British Airways Prestel: Robert Zarywacz
An article in BA’s TOPICall magazine from way back in 1985.

What seemed amazing at the time was to be able to upload pages from our PC network (an IBM AT PC with a 20MB hard disk linked to two twin-floppy IBM XT PCs) via modem down an ordinary telephone line. It seemed magical that one second the page was on my PC and the next it was accessible for anyone to view on Prestel.

It all seemed so exciting. People could even send us messages, which we printed off on a thermal printer.

But Prestel was not the way forward. Few in the airline saw its potential and both my colleague and I eventually moved to other jobs in BA.

We had been 10 years too early. Later, as the internet developed and web sites appeared, I realised that we had built a massive web site before anyone knew what it was.

I also learned a lot about writing for the small screen, on-screen attention spans and other tips that would stand me in good stead as the world moved online.

It may have been crude compared with today’s technology, but it was exciting for us as we made the rules up as we went along.

Posted via web from z2zine

Assuming our assumptions are correct

No, we don’t have a franking machine. No, I don’t want to win tickets to football matches. No, no, no.

It’s all right, I woke up feeling cheerful this morning, so why the rant?

It’s not really a rant, but annoyance at poor marketing.

When I go to a cashpoint, I don’t want to be offered the chance to win football tickets as I have no interest in football. The assumption that I am interested annoys me. Now, promotions through cash machines are a challenge to target as most people need cash, both those who like sport and those who don’t. If my bank wants to drive away non-sports lovers, it’s doing a good job. If it wants to keep us happy, it could either stop offering football tickets or offer a range of tickets for other activities, eg theatre, music, film. These wouldn’t just not annoy me but would actually attract me to participate in the promotion.

And I wouldn’t feel so annoyed if sales people phoned up and asked if we had a franking machine rather than asking to speak to the person in charge of the franking machine which we haven’t got. How sloppy is this? If they can’t be bothered to establish whether or not the franking machine they think we have exists, it’s unlikely they would provide good service had we got one.

Just a slight alteration and all annoyance can be avoided.

It’s worth remembering if you don’t want to annoy potential customers.

 

If a picture can paint a thousand words . . .

. . . why are they all questions?

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What is that? Where is it? When was it? Why was it there? What was the point? Who did it? Is it still there? Is that an inflatable? What gas was used to inflate it? Who chose the colours? Where did it come from? Will it be there again? Is that a mountain or a hill? Is it inland or on the coast? What are those brown patches on the hill/mountain?

That’s already 15 questions in just 72 words, so just think how many questions you could ask in a thousand words.

So does that mean words are more effective for communicating than pictures?

Of course not: both are useful in different ways. A picture or photograph can grab attention specifically because people want to find out more about a stunning image. For example, the BBC England website news page often has an ‘England’s Big Picture’ feature showing a partial image to tease viewers into opening it up to see if it is what they think it is. Stunning photography or images that tease can be useful in PR and marketing to attract people to read accompanying text.

In the same way, intriguing headlines can grab readers’ attention so that they read an accompanying article or text. News papers and websites make imaginative use of words in this way and, within reason, press releases and articles can do the same, as long as they do not mislead.

So what are more effective: words or pictures?

Neither. When applied with skill, one will not be more effective but will complement the other. If anything, a great photo will be let down by lousy writing, while a well-written article can be buried by poor illustration or layout.

When they work well together, the reader won’t take any notice of the composition of a photograph or style of writing but be totally engrossed in the message they convey.

That’s certainly our aim.

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