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Posts Tagged ‘businesses’

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What are Your Business’s Core Values?

What makes your business tick? What do you stand for? When you know the answers to these questions, you can use them to promote your business and really stand out from the crowd. When you can show that you stick to your values, your actions will be more powerful than any marketing you can pay for.

Here are our values and how we use them to promote Appletree:

1. We get stuff done. Our clients trust us to set up and look after their marketing for them. Getting stuff done means that we don’t tell clients what marketing to do and then expect them to do it on their own. We do things for our clients even before they have to ask us to do them!

2. We stick to what we’re good at. Writing marketing copy is what we’re really good at, so that’s what we do. When clients need content for their website, material for their newsletters and blogs, or engaging copy for their tweets and social media updates, we can create it. Because we stick to what we know best, we can make sure that we provide our clients with top quality marketing solutions.

3. We give free advice freely. Our business has been built on helping anyone who asks about marketing. We treat everyone as if they’re a paying client, so if people need advice, we look forward to them getting in touch and we’ll do whatever we can to help.

4. We’re in it for the long haul. Appletree has been around since 2000. Since then, we’ve always done marketing. The business has changed as new marketing tools have been created – social media didn’t exist when we started out – but we’ve been consistent in the marketing support that we’ve provided our clients. And we’re going to carry on doing that!

So those are our core values – they are what drives our business and what keeps us in business. What are yours? What’s important to you? What do you stand for? Tell us what makes your business tick!

In the A-Z of Marketing, J is for … Joint Ventures

CJC for websiteAccording to Wikipedia, a joint venture (JV) is a business agreement in which the parties agree to develop, for a finite time, a new entity and new assets by contributing equity.

They are a relatively new concept in marketing and are about collaborative working. A JV is two (or more) businesses working together, to support each other to grow. Here are a few of the key things I’ve learnt about JVs.

 

1. Design it together. The most successful JVs are the ones that are created by both parties, because it gives you buy in from both sides and allows you to talk about what’s important to each of you. You could identify a company that has the sort of clients that you want to speak to. You could approach this business and ask them if they would contact all their clients and send your information to them. But what’s in it for them? A better way to set this up is to sit down together and talk about what you can both bring to the venture and what you’d both like out of it. When you design it together, you get a more even deal – both in terms of work load and results.

I’m currently working on a JV with a former client, who is a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) consultant.  Jo has a great online programme that small businesses can join, to help them improve how they use CSR within their businesses. Her clients are small businesses and so are mine. We’re looking at how we can work together to encourage more people to use CSR (what Jo does) to market their companies (what I do.)

2. Make it complementary. If you’re looking for new clients, don’t just approach a big company that you know has a large list of businesses you could work with. What’s in it for them if you’ve only got a small list of clients? Look for businesses roughly the same size as yours, with a product or service that complements yours. Look for businesses in the same market as you, but who aren’t in direct competition with you. That way the ‘deal’ will be more even.

Matt is a website designer who has created a website where local food producers can list and promote what they do. Most of these small companies don’t have websites, don’t know how to write good copy and don’t have a lot of money to spend. Matt and I have put together a package for all the producers, where he will create a simple, easy to use website and Appletree will write a number of pages of copy for them. All at a cost that they can afford and that brings us a steady flow of new projects to work on. Win-win for all both of us – and the clients!

3. Set a time limit. Joint Ventures usually work best if they are a one off project. If they are long term, they are more likely to become a legal partnership or require the formation of a new business. When you’re creating your JV in collaboration with your partner, think about the length of time that you want to work together. A time limit will make the project much more focused.

At Christmas I sent a voucher for a personality profiling test (Talent Dynamics) to a number of my clients. My team and I have been profiled and it really helps us to communicate better and I wanted to share it with some of our clients. I also wanted to help our Talent Dynamics consultant, Rachel, to grow her business. Sending my clients a ‘gift’ helped me develop relationships with them; and it gave Rachel access to some businesses who were interested in Talent Dynamics.

There are many ways in which you can use JVs to grow your business and the internet is full of articles about how (and how not) to go about doing it. Think carefully about who you want to work with, how you want the venture to look and how long it will last. When you get it right, a JV can be a great way to grow your business.

Could we set up a JV between your business and mine? Get in touch and let’s talk about it!

CJC for websiteHow Do You Build Your Personal Brand?

Last week I wrote about how to develop your personal brand; this time I thought I’d share with you some tips on how to develop your Personal Brand Marketing Plan. Click here if you missed Part One or you need a recap.

The first thing to do is decide on your goal – short, medium or long term. This could be the number of new clients you want to take on this year, or how much you want to grow your turnover – it’s up to you!

Next, think about your top three audiences. Who are the people from whom you need buy-in, to help you achieve your goal? At Appletree these are potential clients such as Consultants, our existing clients and referrers – people who will recommend us to others.

For each one, you need to answer these questions:

  1. What are their key motivators? What do they want to achieve in their business? For example, your potential clients could be Consultants who want to grow their business, but who don’t know how to do it.

  2. What aspect of your personal brand will appeal to what motivates them? If part of your personal brand is a ‘can do’ attitude, this will appeal to busy Consultants who need marketing support and who don’t have much time to spare.

  3. What service can you offer that connects your personal brand with what motivates your audience? How about a ‘done for you’ marketing service that allows them to get on with what they’re good at.

  4. What opportunities do you have to communicate this to them? Think about the verbal and physical ways in which you can tell your clients how you can help them. This includes what you say and how you say it.

  5. What messages do you need to get across? If your message is about your ‘done for you’ service then you need to use your personal brand to tell people about your steady reputation and years of experience!

When you have the answers to all these questions, for your top three audiences, you’ll be in a strong position to use your personal brand to promote your business and reach your goals.

How do you use your personal brand in your marketing?

Yan Couper-HarrisWe Experienced Business at Millets Farm on Wednesday! After half a year of preparation the day finally came. I arrived on the Wednesday morning at Millets Farm ready for the day ahead. The stands had been set up, the speaker room had been prepared for the interactive workshop and the exhibitors were ready to showcase their businesses.

The event did not attract the amount of visitors that we wanted to see at the event, which was a disappointment. This was a shame as we had some fantastic businesses exhibit at Millets Farm. However the room was still filled with over 25 businesses, how often do you get to spend half a day with that many businesses?

Half a day in a room with business leaders is a fantastic opportunity. The half day really gives you the time to develop a relationship which could lead to the start of something fantastic. After speaking with some of the exhibitors, they told me they had a brilliant day as they had gained some good contacts – which could lead to work. If you compare Experience Business to a networking event I would personally say that Experience Business was more cost effective. On average, I would say that a networking meeting lasts an hour or two? Experience Business gave half a day.

I would like to pass on my thanks to the team that came from Aspire Oxford. Aspire attended the event for a second year running and helped out the exhibitors throughout the day with their needs, they helped visitors and really helped us at Appletree – the co-ordinators. I encourage you all to have a look at their website, as Aspire is a fantastic organisation!

Thank you to everyone that came to Experience Business at Millets Farm. I hope you enjoyed the day and gained some valuable business contacts. I would like to know what you think about exhibitions and trade fairs. Do you attend them? What convinces you it’s worth your time?

We’ve championed the use of blogs for marketing for a long time. Now we need to look at whether blogs are actually working. As with all marketing tools, you must measure their effectiveness, adjust and re-measure as you go along. You need to make sure that you blogs are reaching the right audiences.

It’s relatively simple to analyse your business blog metrics, via your website traffic – Google Analytics provides this info. Dig deeper into this information to find out if the visitors to your site are people who are genuine customer prospects. Here’s a few ways you can assess this.

Traffic sources – analyse and identify them

Dale (2)The majority of B2B companies will see their website traffic coming from the same sources – usually referring sites and social media. Consider the common audience demographics of your referral traffic sources. If you run a business-to-business site, do individual-focused sites like StumbleUpon and Digg bring you the right traffic, or should you focus your promotional efforts on business networking sites like LinkedIn? While exposure to a large audience can often boost your site’s SEO rankings, relying on such sites for traffic isn’t an effective long-term strategy when you’re searching for qualified leads.

Focus instead on promoting your content to related industry blogs and through your company’s existing social media channels. Though traffic rates may not always be as impressive, visitors from these types of referral sources are more likely to engage with your content and achieve the conversions you’re looking for.

Look at your keyword search results

Whilst looking at your site analytics, have a look at the search terms that are driving traffic to your site.

If many of your most popular website search terms are for terms that are tenuously related to your core business, it’s time to start thinking more strategically about creating content that relates to your business goals. We recently did this for a client, when we realized that visitors where finding her site for phrases that weren’t on the site. Since we’ve written a number of blogs about these topics for her site, the traffic coming through though topics has increased dramatically.

Pay attention to user engagement measures

Are visitors bouncing away from your site within a few seconds, or do they stay for a while, browse through your archives and even sign up for your newsletter? If your website visitors rarely view more than one page at a time, this is a sign that they’re either not your target audience, or that the content you’re producing isn’t compelling enough to entice them to stay. You can use tools such as www.MarketingGrader.com to see how people are engaging with your site and how you can use your blog to increase your score. Last week, our website scored 78%, which we were really pleased with. This week it went up to over 80% purely because we’d added more blogs to our site.

Are your blogs effective? What can you do to help them grow your business?

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