Posts Tagged ‘businesses’
When you provide a service to your clients, or you sell high cost, high quality products, credibility is one of the things you need to help you grow your business. You won’t find it listed as one of the tools you can put into your ‘marketing mix’ and yet it is vital for your success.
This blog looks at some of the ways in which you can build credibility for yourself and your business. I’ve also recorded a short video about building credibility, so if you’d rather listen than read, just click here.
Credibility is about good reputation; it is the power or influence it gives. All your prospective clients will be naturally suspicious of you, so it’s your job to show them that you can be trusted by building respect with them. When someone trusts you, they are far more likely to buy from you. Your credibility is what allows you to develop the high level of trust needed for someone to agree to spend their money with you.
So how do you build your credibility?
Be helpful. When you meet a prospective client or referrer, find out how you can help them. What sort of clients are they looking? Do you have a new supplier you can recommend to them? If they ask for your advice, share your knowledge and expertise with them. Don’t keep it all to yourself and only help your clients. Give whatever you can.
Stick to what you’re good at. You need to become an expert in your field and the only way to do this is by sticking at it. Don’t get distracted by something else, just because you think you can make money from it. Don’t try to jump onto a new band wagon – focus on getting even better at what you already do well and become known for that. You can’t claim to be an expert when you’ve only been doing something for a year, so you need to really work at it over the years.
Be consistent. As well as sticking to what you do and being consistent in your services, you need to show consistency in how you promote your business. A company that keeps changing its name or branding is likely to confuse potential (and existing) clients. Create a brand that reflects your values and then stay true to those values.
Write about it. One of the best ways of sharing your expertise and thereby building your credibility is by writing about it. Blogs, articles and newsletters are a great place to start. Don’t brag about how great your business is, but focus on being helpful. Give your readers tips and ideas to help them. Once you’ve mastered short bursts of writing, thing about putting more of your knowledge into a book. A book will really boost your credibility.
Speak about it. Giving talks about your experiences is another way to share your knowledge with a large number of people and therefore increase your credibility. Running workshops and seminars allow you to share even more, over more time. A word of warning – if you’ve not had any training in public speaking, or you’re very nervous, you can actually do your credibility more harm than good. Get some professional help if you need it, before embarking on a career on the stage. When you can do it professionally, you’ll see your credibility soar.
In order to turn a suspicious prospect into a trusting client who loves what you do for them, look at all the ways in which you can build your credibility. Select the tactics that will work best for you and you’ll be able to build a great reputation and a loyal following of clients.
Within the past few months we at Appletree have really noticed a much higher level of interaction on LinkedIn. This can include engaging with your contacts, talking in a discussion with potential clients or even website traffic from LinkedIn. The same can be said for our clients, a lot of their accounts and websites have noticed it too. So what could this be down too?
After a little research we have discovered that the much increased use of LinkedIn company pages had a lot to do with the increased interaction. If you’re not already familiar with LinkedIn Company pages then have a read of this from LinkedIn. Posting through a LinkedIn company page can help you in many ways to market your business. These are some of the key reasons I personally think you should start a LinkedIn company page –
- Keywords. Like in your personal profile, company pages are a great platform for you to include keywords so that potential clients might find your business. Do the research and think carefully where you put them
- Branding. Sharing your expertise or even just the latest relevant news article can place your brand into the spot light and really instil trust to your target audience.
- Connect. Through updates and posts you can connect with a massive potential audience that could lead to more business for your company, generate key stake holders such as a new supplier or investor.
- Advertise jobs. You can advertise whenever your business has a vacancy, yes this option may not have a lot of use for everyone but it is a very useful tool and in today’s current economical climate. Having a job advertised with your company can generate a lot of interest to your business.
- Tell people what you offer. You can create a list of all the products and services that you offer. Included in this section you can add a relevant YouTube video, website link, image and description on said product or service.
There are far more uses for your company page, however those are some of the most affective (I personally feel). Setting up a company page can really help your digital activity and increase your online presence.
Have a look at the Appletree Company page if you want further insight to what a company page is and should look like. Keep an eye out for Debbie’s blog on Friday as she will be giving useful tips and advice on how to gain effectively use your LinkedIn company page.
Alex Polizzi, The Hotel Inspector, knows a thing or two about running successful hotels and about turning struggling establishments into ones that really thrive. While watching an episode on the TV recently, it occurred to me that some of her ‘rules’ can easily be applied to many other businesses.
The episode that inspired this blog focused on an historic hotel in St Albans, where the owners were trying to do too much. The building was extremely old and had all sorts of history attached to it. There was also rumour that the hotel was inhabited by ghosts, so one of the owners – part of a husband and wife team – had decided that her guests really wanted to know about all things paranormal. On arrival the Hotel Inspector was told about all the ghostly inhabitants and shown a bizarre – and somewhat tacky – collection of Halloween decorations, masquerading as a ‘secret scary gallery’. The stunning dining room, with its oak panelling, was rather downgraded by the menu that featured a number of ghost-related dishes and the landlady was planning to convert the cellar into a themed room – probably a dungeon or torture chamber!
Aside from the ghostly goings on, the landlady also wanted to upgrade the bridle suite by spending up to £25,000 on redecoration and a brand new bathroom. Her husband was not impressed by most of her ideas; neither was our hotel expert.
Some programmes of this type carry out total renovations of homes or hotels, spending thousands of pounds on the work and implementing expensive marketing campaigns. This one was refreshingly different because the main recommendation was to simplify the business. Instead of scaring guests, they were treated to historical tours of the town and a menu that reflected the age of the building – something that none of the other eating establishments in the town were offering. A simple £10 lunch menu was created to encourage more day time passing trade – any elaborate ideas for themed evenings were turned down. In addition, Alex Polizzi suggested that the husband and wife take very clear, separate roles within the hotel. The wife was put in charge of learning the history of the hotel and the town, so that she could lead walking tours and talk to her guests – something that she realised she loved doing. The husband was responsible for the menu and for keeping it simple (and for keeping his wife out of the kitchen so that their staff could get on with their jobs!) This allowed him to carry out very simple, inexpensive local marketing, to bring more customers through the doors, where they could enjoy good food without be scared by the prices.
What about the bridle suite? The landlady got her wish of a new one, but for a mere £7000 and it was extremely tasteful and in keeping with the old building.
I’ve realised that the times when things haven’t gone so well with my business are when we’ve tried to do too much. When you lose focus on what you’re really good at, it can be all too easy to throw money at a new idea or an expensive marketing campaign – probably the worst thing to do if money is already tight. Instead, focus on what you’re good at and look for ways of doing it even better than before. That way, you can build a business on your reputation, with a simple marketing message, without the need for gimmicks and a huge budget.
In May 2013 I finally finished writing the book that I started in 2010. (I was distracted by writing another book!) This one is being edited ready for publication in September 2013 and over the next few months I’m going to share sections of it on my weekly blog. This time – why it’s important for businesses to get their marketing right, right from the start.
Many businesses struggle in the early stages of their lives because they don’t have the funding they need. They don’t have the money required to market their businesses properly; they cut corners wherever they can and take on whatever work they can. When I started my business I was very fortunate in having the support of a husband who worked full time. It meant that the mortgage was still paid each month. It also meant that he could lend me the money I needed to make a professional start.
I am full of admiration for people who set up their own business without that sort of financial support – and yet I see so many people who jump into business without really considering what could be involved. Then, when they realise that they do need to spend money on things like marketing materials and networking, they do it as cheaply as possible. What impression do you get from a business card that’s printed on paper, rather than card and that you can see has been cut from a sheet with scissors? Compare the original looking, professionally designed logo on one card, to the stock image on another, which you’ve seen in numerous different places. What about the consultant who uses a free email address and doesn’t have a website? Will they do as good a job as the one who has a creative business name with a domain name to go with it? While a flashy company name and slick brochure are not proof that you’ll do a better job, or that you’re more highly qualified than one of your competitors, if they have the professional image, they’re already a step ahead of you. That image may be the deciding factor between the two of you for a potential client.
When I meet people who are talking about setting up their own business, I ask them to consider their finances. If they don’t have the funds they need to do things properly and professionally, I always encourage them to look for the funding that will help them do that. There is a wealth of funding available for new businesses with as many options for paying it back. However the money is provided, having enough to make a proper start is, I believe, vital to the success of any business.
Even before I started to set up my business, I took the decision that it needed to be presented properly. After all, I was creating a marketing company – one that helped others to communicate effectively. It was essential that I demonstrate my knowledge of communication through my own branding. Firstly I spent some time with a graphic designer who created a logo for my company. She developed letterhead and business cards; she designed a leaflet for which I wrote the words. Then I had everything printed on good quality paper – nothing flimsy or cheap. I meet many new business owners who use free software to print free business cards from their own computers. It might save you money; it will not create the impression that says “I am in business and I am here to stay.” You need to show that you are serious and that you are different from everyone else.
Next I bought a domain name and used it for my email address, instead of telling people I had a free account. A friend set up a small website for me, for which I wrote copy for a few pages, telling visitors what I could do and what benefits they would get from working with me. I knew nothing about the technical side of websites, so there was no way I would consider building my own site. There is a wealth of software available to help you set up your own website; however, there are also too many homemade looking websites on the internet. As with business cards, a professional looking site will create a better impression than one that has been put together over a weekend. More importantly, your website has to work in a technical sense – if it can’t be found by search engines, or the pages don’t link together properly, or your contact form doesn’t work – you’ll turn away business without even realising. Unless you are a web developer setting up a new business, I advise you to look for one who can help you. They come in a huge range of shapes and sizes with pricing policies to match; you can start small and grow your website as your business grows.
What next? When you provide a service rather than a product, networking is one of the best ways to promote what you do. Attending meetings gives you the opportunity to speak to potential clients and allow them to get to know you. Once someone trusts you they are far more likely to ask you to work for them. Networking gives you the time you need to build up relationships with other people, to develop the required level of trust. The number of networking meetings is constantly growing, giving you a wide range of opportunities to choose from. One mistake I believe that many start up businesses make is to only attend free events. “I’ve got a limited budget, so I’m only going to attend free meetings and not pay for membership to any group.” This is something I hear often from the owners of small businesses. The problem with this approach is that many of the free meetings are full of other people with the same attitude. “I’m new to business so I’m not spending any money,” they tell you. How many of these ‘budget conscious’ business owners will want to invest in your services? I’m not saying you should avoid the free meetings; you need to consider your networking budget and spend it wisely.
A final note on networking – think about how you present yourself when you attend. I’ve met Marketing Consultants in jeans and dirty trainers at networking meetings. If that’s the type the of consultant you want to work with, that’s fine; just think about who your ideal clients are and the first impression you want to create with them.
My new book will be available to buy from September. You can order your copy now and take advantage of the pre-launch order by clicking here and we’ll send you a signed copy when it’s ready.
Recently we have had a lot of people asking us about using Facebook pages. Some of the common questions are “Will they actually bring something to my business?” or “What do I post on Facebook to get business?” These questions can easily be answered but would you prefer a generic answer or a personal one to your business?
I personally believe that Facebook holds true value for businesses that sell to consumers. Businesses that operate on a B2B system might not increase their sales via Facebook and so for them I would suggest using LinkedIn. However, Facebook can be a very useful tool for getting your message across, keeping in contact with your clients and potential clients and showing your brand’s expertise.
Setting up a Facebook page is a very easy process and takes very little of your time. Once you have created the page, you can personalise the channel to suit your company brand. This can include photos, videos, website links and information.
When you set up a Facebook page you must first look at your social media objectives. What are they? Are they to increase business turnover? Increase website traffic? If your social media objectives are to get more people to visit your websites, then post engaging updates with links to your website. Blogs are really useful in this case as it gives you fresh engaging information that you can share with your audience. Newsletters, videos and articles work just as well. If you want to increase the amount of people attending an event, then create a Facebook ‘event’ and invite all of your contacts. Increasing sales is the difficult one. If you want to increase sales, then post videos and photos that create a sense of desire to your audience. You may struggle with services, but I would advise posting links to your website with more information on the service.
I have been working on a few clients’ Facebook pages and I must say that their performance has so far been brilliant. Using a range of techniques, the Facebook pages have successfully achieved a high level of interaction for our clients, increased website traffic and even got an increased footfall to one of our client’s events.
If you want to see an example of a Facebook page, then have a look at ours. The Appletree Facebook page posts once a day every working day. “Like” our page and comment on any of the posts to keep in contact with us. Do you use Facebook in business? If so, how effective has it been for you?