Author: lisa

How To Take Your Business Online

Take your business online

Let me share a few ideas for how you can turn things around and pivot things to try and keep your business going online during this time.

I do these videos to try and give a bit of insight into marketing and try and help people during this time to think about how they can do marketing in a different way.  So, if I can give you some knowledge and some wisdom that can help you, then you know, I’m here to support people.

I think a lot of businesses have resisted it in the past, but since Covid has hit, I think a lot more people are using technology and are coming online to do more work or starting to think “Right, I need to get online.”

If you’re one of the businesses that hasn’t really done much online and you are thinking, I really need to get my act together and I really need to do some stuff, there are many, many opportunities that you can do. For example, if you worked in the wedding industry and it’s completely disappeared there probably are still things that you can be doing online to just keep out there and keep hustling.

My top tips today are about taking your business online.

The advantages of being online, obviously if you’ve had to close your premises, if you can’t work face to face with people, there are a lot of things that you can do online.

If you have had to close your business currently, by keeping on doing things online, you still keep a presence. You tell people that you are there, you are keeping in the forefront of potential customers minds. You can share your experiences as well, and a lot of people resonate with how you are feeling as well, during this time.

Social Media

Tip number one, of course, is social media. You probably are using it, but maybe you are not utilising it as much as you can.

I’ve created lots of different videos during lockdown about how to create content, what content you should be writing during the pandemic and what’s appropriate. There is one about Instagram, and last week I added one on hashtags. Have a look back at my other videos as well, as there are probably some tips that you can find on there about social media.

If you are not using social media to its full advantage then I’d say, you need to get on it.

Social platforms are a great place to promote your business, even if your business is closed, by drip-feeding information out and even a couple of posts a week is ok at the moment. However, when you are feeling in a better space, and you can do posts, just drip-feed little things, tell people how you are doing, what’s going on with your business and what you’re up to. If you are trying anything new, or if you are developing a new product – tell your audience. Keep raising awareness and keep telling people what you are doing.

There are other Facebook groups as well. There’s a really good one; it’s where I saw the comments last night actually. Business Support Carlisle it is, then there’s Cumbria Business Support and there’s Mums in Business.

You will also find loads of different community groups, but if you find one local to your area, jump on that, there is so much support for small businesses. If you’re stuck with something, find a group that’s all about what you need to know about, post in there, share ideas, give advice and gain information.

The Carlisle Business Support Group, even though I’m not in Carlisle, I’m still part of that group, is a really good one. People are posting on there “Help, I need a roofer”, and people are commenting and sharing business recommendations. People are putting business ideas on there, information and advice.

Look at different groups that you can be actively involved in whilst you’re not working or whilst you are working from home.

Another tip is to have a look at what other people are doing as well. It’s really always good to look at competitors, see what kind of posts they are posting and create your own plans. Don’t copy it but have a look at what other people are doing and use what you see as inspiration.

Be social – share other people’s posts, comment on what other people are writing. It’s all about having a social network of people, so build up a community and a network of people online.

Another thing that you can do on social media, is if you have a physical product that you can send to people, as well as having a website, you can also have a Facebook shop and an Instagram shop.

But rather than just shutting up shop and thinking “that’s me for a month” really utilise that time and think “Right, what can I do on social media?” Use that time to keep in the forefront of people’s minds. You’d be surprised if you look back at my video about creating content, there is always stuff you can write about, even if your business is closed. Have a look at that guide as well.

Website

My next tip is for websites. If you don’t have a website, now could be a good time to invest in one. You can also, at the moment, if you are in Cumbria, apply for funding from the Cumbria Growth Hub.

If you need to know a good web designer, I do know a couple of people I would recommend. Drop me a line if you are wanting to find a good web designer, and I can put you in the right direction.

A website is a great way to help people find your business. I’m going to give you a little example.

I’m working with a physiotherapist at the moment, and when she put in the name of her company, she came up on Google. But if she put in ‘Physiotherapy’ and the place she is based, she didn’t appear.

Having a website and being clever with the words that we’ve put on the website and looking at something called SEO, which is search engine optimisation, and thinking about the types of phrases that people would type into a search engine to find your business.

If people didn’t know my business, they wouldn’t type in ‘Acorn Marketing’, but if they were looking for ‘Marketing help Cumbria’ or ‘Marketing Cumbria’, I’m more likely to appear.

Think about those phrases that other people would use to type into Google to find you. They are the kind of phrases that you need to use in your website.

So, back my physiotherapist lady. After tinkering with her website and doing a little bit of work, she’s now on the first page of Google, and that happened in two weeks; which is amazing. That’s just a little example of how websites can be effective.

If you were a plasterer, for example, even having just a one-page website with your contact details and making sure that you put the right words in that people might use to find you will help. This is a simple was to take your business online and to help people find your services. People naturally, if they are looking for something, will go to Google or Facebook.

So, it could be worth having a look at creating a website as well.

Something else you could do on your website, which I do as well, is offer a download to people. Like ‘My Top Ten Marketing Tips for 2020’. I’m thinking about creating a new download soon.

Let’s say, if you work in the wedding industry, you are a photographer, wedding planner or cakemaker, you could create a download that gives tips, advice, what you should be looking for like ‘These are the things you should be budgeting for for your wedding’, ‘How to find a good wedding photographer’, or ‘Here are some tips for baking a cake’.

Create a little PDF document that people can download from your website and capture their email address when they download it. Then in the future, you can communicate with these people as well because they are obviously interested in what you do. That’s another key thing that might be a good thing to do on your website.

Have a look at developing a new website. Maybe even just working on your old website if it’s been dormant for a while. Update it, refresh it, add a blog on there and keep the content new.  Google will know if it’s an old website and hasn’t been touched for a while. Developing your website can be a really useful thing to do online as well at the moment.

Top tip number three.

Other Platforms

If you have a physical product that you can sell, think about other platforms where you could potentially sell it online, rather than in your shop. If you’ve got a website, then brilliant. Think about a Facebook shop or an Instagram shop.

There are also other platforms where you can list things. What about Etsy, Not on the High Street, Amazon? Could you create an eBay shop and sell things on there?

Think about those kinds of places or other places where you can push your product to customers.

Another thing, say you offer a service like me, you could potentially use things like Zoom. We’ve all heard of Zoom, haven’t we? I mean, we’ve been using it for online quizzes and all sorts of different things.

If you are a consultant like me, maybe you could offer something like a Power Hour, which I’m going to start doing soon. You get an hour to speak to me, and I’ll give you tips and advice.

Utilise things like Zoom to do power hours or sell your time. I have a client who’s an aromatherapist. Obviously, there are lots of issues around mental health during lockdown and how this is affecting people. A brilliant thing for her to do is to offer her services. If you are a counsellor, jump on board a call with me and let’s talk, and let’s see how we can do things.

I have another client who is a hypnotherapist, and she’s done just that as well. She’s gone online, and she’ll do consultations with people. The physiotherapist, she’s gone online too.

I also wanted to just quickly tell you about the Growth Hub Funding, which I mentioned briefly before.  For businesses in Cumbria, the Growth Hub have various different sources of funding at the moment. Do send me a message if you want the details of who to actually speak to. I spoke to a lovely chap the other day, and he was telling me all about a subsidy where you can get up to £2,000 to help you with something specific to do with your business growth. That could be marketing if you wanted to work with me potentially, to help you develop some social media plans or help you with your website, your blogs or writing a marketing strategy.

You can get funding from the Growth Hub to help you with that, so it won’t cost you anything.

If you want somebody to help you with your accounts, somebody to build you a website, somebody to give you business coaching, then the Growth Hub can fund these kinds of things as well. It’s well worth having a look into it, if you’ve not heard of that before.

Also my blog on my website has quite a few of those different ideas written up to help you as well. I hope this has inspired you to take your business online.

That reminds me, it’s Kind Cumbria Day on 13th November, check it out.

How to Stay Sane

How To Stay Sane

There is no doubt that being a working mum is difficult but throw in school holidays, add in a pandemic and it gets a little bit stressful. I thought that it might be helpful to give you my top tips for staying sane being a working parent.

Plan

Top tip number one is to plan.

For example, I’ve known for the last few weeks that half-term is coming up so, I can plan my work around that time. It’s difficult if you are a working mum and you are going to an office to work, as you’ve got to juggle that around kids and stuff, but if you’re employed you can probably take time off or arrange childcare.

When you are self-employed or when you work at home, it’s all just thrown into one, so planning is key in order to stay sane.

Knowing that half-term is approaching I can figure out what work I’ve got on and make sure that I do the majority of that work before half-term arrives, so that I can really be flexible in what I’ve got coming up.

I create lists. Who’s not a list lover? I use something called ‘Asana’, which is a really good tool for project management and writing tasks and keeping you on track. I also write lists of all my different clients and all the things I need to do. Then I write a daily list, so I know exactly what I’ve got to do each day.

Planning and being organised is definitely the best tip.

Turn off the Tech

Top tip number two is to turn off the tech.

When the kids are at home and when I have got my dedicated time with my little girl, I make sure that I turn my devices off, put my phone on silent and out of reach. This doesn’t always work; I have to say. It’s just so I’m not distracted by emails and social media.

Now it’s not always easy, is it? Especially if you’ve got important things to do. If there’s something urgent then fair enough, go onto your computer and have a look. But generally, if you are organised, and you’ve planned your time, then you shouldn’t need to be checking emails or checking social media all the time, and that time with your children is really precious, and that’s what I try and do.

If somebody rings me when I’m not at my desk and I’m with my little girl, I just don’t answer it. I know that if I answer a work call when my little girl is there, she’ll be like “Mummy. Mummy. Mummy.” I can’t give my client the full dedication and attention that they need during that time so, I just don’t answer my phone when I’m with her. I catch up with work during the time I allocate for just that so I’m not distracted.

At the end of the day, if I don’t answer an email straight away, nobody has died. An old boss of mine once said that to me. “How important is it? Has anybody died?” It gives you a new perspective on the way you look at things. Turn the tech off if you can.

Don’t Feel Guilty

Tip number three, which I think we are all guilty of, is don’t feel guilty.

One of the things I think about being a working mum is that I am setting a good example for my children for the future. They see me busy, that I work hard, that I’m making money and understand that’s how I can afford to take them to nice places and do nice things. I want them to feel inspired by that. I know that those times that I need to work, that I shouldn’t feel guilty for it.

If I was answering my phone to my client, whilst I was meant to be with my little girl I would feel guilty. However, I take dedicated time to work and say “You’re in childcare, you’re with your Dad.”  We split mornings and afternoons at the moment. I’m not going to feel guilty about working, and my daughter understands that I do it to make pennies to buy her toys.

We all do it. We all have Mum guilt, we all have parent guilt, but we have got to “Let it go!”

This week was particularly challenging for me because my little girl is also self-isolating from somebody in her school who has got COVID, somebody that she has been in contact with. So all our plans for half-term have gone out the window. I have lots of juggling going on.

It’s not as bad at the moment because my husband is at home, so we can do mornings and afternoons between us, but next week he’s back in the office, so I’m literally on my own. I’m going to try my hardest to make it work and just go online in the evening and do my work then.

To reiterate my top tips to help you stay sane currently… Plan, organise your time and forward plan for when you’ve got things coming up, and then you know to do the majority of your work, so you’re not stressing about it during half-term and the school holidays.

Top tip two is turn off the tech. Try and leave it aside when you are not working, and then you won’t be distracted with it. Turn off your notifications and don’t have the temptation to pick up your phone all the time.

Tip three, don’t feel guilty. You’re rocking it being a working mum, a working dad and we are all just doing the best we can to crack on and make some money, and give our children a good example of what it is to be a hard worker.

So, today wasn’t a marketing tip, but it was just tips that I’ve learned over the years that I’ve been running my business, how to juggle… because it is a juggle, being a working mum and running a business.

Do check out my blog which has a variety of topics and tips to help you with marketing and your business.

How to use Hashtags

How to use hashtags

If you want to know how to use hashtags, then this is the blog for you.

First of all, what are hashtags?

Hashtags are a simple keyword or phrase with the little hashtag symbol (#) in front of it.

Think of hashtags as a way to connect social media content to a specific topic, event, industry, theme, subject.  That’s what they do.

They make your posts easier to find on social media.  So, if you don’t use any hashtags on social media (depending on which social media platform you are on) your social media pots, will just get seen by your existing followers.

If you use hashtags on your social media, it opens up whatever you are posting about to a greater and wider audience.  So, they are really important for getting a new audience and building your audience or online community.

There is also a question of where to use them as well and there are so many different social media platforms too.  But different platforms use hashtags in different ways.  So, Twitter is a great place for using hashtags, if you can fit them all into the 280 character limit that you’ve got in there.  In Twitter, you often hear people say “it’s trending.”  That’s because people are using hashtags and that topic or subject is being found with that hashtag.

For example, if there’s a football game on then you may see #LiverpoolFC, or if there’s an event or a tv programme #BritainsGotTalent or #BGT.  So, then everyone can see the conversation that’s happening around Twitter.

Instagram is an amazing place to use hashtags as well, and you can use up to thirty hashtags on your Instagram posts.

On Facebook there is really no significant impact of using hashtags, particularly on your personal page.  A lot of personal pages are private, so they would never get found.  Some brands do use them, so you could have a look at those, but to be honest, they don’t really serve much purpose on Facebook.

You can also use them on LinkedIn, as long as they are nice and relevant to your post, and probably between five and ten.

Tip 1- How to find hashtags

So one of the first things to know is how to find hashtags.

A lot of people just don’t know what words to use as a hashtag and don’t know what they should be picking.  A really good tool for trying to find what hashtags you should use is Instagram itself.

Using the search tool, you can type in keywords and phrases.  Under the ‘tags’ section, it will show you everything that comes up that’s relevant to that hashtag, and it will tell you how many people have used that hashtag as well.  So, it is a really good tool for looking at what hashtags you could be using.

Another good tool if you are using Twitter, again in the search, having a look at what is trending on different days, having a look in the search bar and searching for different subjects, and that will bring up more ideas on what you can do.

You could also go into Google and put #anniversaries or #days and all the possible hashtag ideas you could use will also come up there.  For example #TopTipTuesday, #marketingtips, #MotivationMonday #WednesdayWisdom #ThrowbackThursday #FactFriday or #FunFriday #SaturdayVibes #SundayVibes #SundayChills

My favourite place to find hashtags is within the Instagram search; it’s a really good place to see what hashtags are popular, what’s relevant in your industry and how many people are using them as well.

Tip 2 – Create a hashtag bank

So, once you have all these hashtags and you sit down to write your post it’s hard to remember them or know which ones to use.  So, you should create a hashtag bank.  It’s entirely up to you how you do this.  With different clients, sometimes the easiest thing to do is just to make an Excel spreadsheet.  There are online tools such as Planoloy, or Later where you can do your social media scheduling and save hashtags in there.

It’s also really useful to create categories within that hashtag bank, so for example, for marketing I might have a marketing one, which might be like #Marketing #Marketingfun #Marketingconsultant #Marketingtips #Marketingadvise.

And I might have one that is social media.  #Socialmedia #Socialmediastrategy #Instagram #Twitter

Then I might have some that are relevant to where I live, so #Cumbria #CumbriaBusiness #Cumbrianbusinesses #Smallbusiness

If I’m writing one that is specific to me about being a working mum, I might put #Mumpreneur #Workingmum #Mumsrule or something like that.  And I would have found them because I’d done my search on my Instagram search and I know how many people are using them.

If you’ve searched and nobody has used them then there’s maybe not much point using them.  So find some that are popular, that people are sharing and will get your posts seen.

Tip 3 – How to use hashtags

So, there are different rules on different social media platforms about how to use hashtags.

As I said before, let’s forget about Facebook for using hashtags.

Pinterest, you can use loads of them; they will get your content found, drive traffic to your website which is good if you’ve got a product or a visual graphics, crafty sort of business.

Twitter.  However many you can fit in the 280 characters after you’ve written whatever you’ve written.  You can use them within your text or at the end of your text.

LinkedIn, I would recommend five to ten, but make sure they’re very relevant to what you are posting as well.  Don’t get too spammy

Instagram.  Instagram is brilliant for hashtags, and you can use up to thirty.  Really try and utilise those thirty.

Ensure that the first five hashtags are really specific and relevant to your post.

Then you want to add in some location hashtags as well, so I might put #Cumbria.  I’m in Penrith, so I might put #Penrith or if you’re doing some work in Newcastle #Newcastle.  Or even like, say I was sitting in a local venue, like the North Lakes Hotel whilst I’m sharing a post, I would put #NorthLakesHotel #Penrith #Cumbria.

Then you want to add in some industry-specific hashtags.  So, for me, it would be #marketing, #social media, #Instagram, #strategy and #planning for example.  So, think about what industry you’re in, and you want to create some industry-specific hashtags.

Then you want to have a think about niche hashtags as well.  So, some of the niche hashtags I use are specific to my business.  I use #marketingfun if I’m doing something interesting and fun that’s exciting.  I might use #AcornMarketing #MarketingPenrith.  So some that are really niche and specific to my business as well.

So, then if anybody clicks on that, they see all your posts that come up.

The other thing to think about is not adding in too many really popular hashtags.  So, if you go into the Instagram search bar again.  If I typed in, for example, #Marketing there are 46.5 million posts using that hashtag.  So, my little old post is probably not going to be seen.

However, if you type in #MarketingCumbria, there are 345 posts, so it’s more likely that my post would be seen.

So, try not to use too many of those hashtags that have millions of people using them.

Really do your research and have a look at how many people are using those hashtags as well, so then you can get a feel for what millions of people are posting about, as opposed to hundreds of thousands.  You want to be in that region or the niche and specific ones.

So by having that broad mix and different type of hashtags within your posts, you are more likely to be seen by people.

I’ve now got people that follow me from all over the world, and I don’t know how they find me.   It’s all because of hashtags.  So all those people that are following me from America, all those social media strategists, people that are engaging with me that I’ve never heard of before, they’ve probably found me because of my use of hashtags.

So, if you’ve not thought about using hashtags before, use this as a guide to doing a bit of research, create your hashtag bank, start searching for those hashtags, make different categories and make sure you use different hashtags for each time you post as well.  Make them relevant and specific to what you are posting about.

Hopefully, now you feel more confident in how to use hashtags!

Download my top tips to ‘pack a punch with your social media here or find out more about what I do here 

How to Start a Business

Starting a business

I thought, as somebody who found themselves in a really horrible circumstance years ago, I could share my advice and experience on starting a business. I was made redundant and literally had no savings, nothing. I’d moved to a new area, and I thought, “Oh, I’m going to start a business!”

So, from somebody who has been running a business for ten years now, I’m doing alright, I’m quite good at what I do and I’m successful with my business. I thought it might help some people who are maybe teetering on the edge of starting their own business or maybe had never thought about it before and were thinking “Maybe this is something I could do.”

Do Something you Love

My first tip is if you are thinking about starting a business, you have to do something you love.

If you are currently working in IT for example, and it’s a job that you sort of fell into, you’ve always done it, but to you, it’s just a job to make ends meet. There’s probably no point in you running a business that’s going to be in IT.

It’s got to be something that you’re passionate about. On Sunday night, I was thinking about my business, and I couldn’t wait to get up on Monday morning to get to my computer to start doing work. You’ve got to have that passion for what you are doing.

It can be something completely different to what you’ve done before. If you’ve got a passion or a love for it, you’ve got skills, expertise and knowledge in that area, then that is going to be something that is really good for you to do.

There’s no point doing something where it’s like “Well it’s alright. I’ve got skills in that; I can do it.”  You’ve got to live and breathe it. It’s got to make you tingle. You’ve just got to want to do it.

That’s top tip number one, do something you love.

Make Connections

Top tip number two is to make connections.

Everybody knows that word of mouth marketing is the best form of marketing. I’m a marketing consultant, but I am always going to say that word of mouth marketing is the best form of marketing. If you can make connections with people when you start your business this will help you gain clients or customers.

The first thing you should be doing is going out and networking, meeting people, getting your name out there and meeting like-minded business people. Find businesses that you can do some collaborative work with. Those connections can see you through really rough patches or enhance your business, and just make it so much easier to do what you love.

Find a really good solicitor, a really good accountant that you meet, that you get on well with and other people that might prove useful for your customers and clients in the future as well.

Making connections is one of the best things you can do and then other people will be a great advocate for you as well.

Ask for Help

Tip number three is to ask for help.

There is no shame when you run your business in asking for things or asking people for help.

Ask questions constantly. When you’ve made your connections, people are really willing and open to share their knowledge of how things work. If there is something that you are struggling with, whether it’s “How do I do my accounting?” or “How do I do some marketing?” Ask people. Ask other businesses what they’ve done.

The other thing with that is as well, is about delegating. If there is an area that is not your skillset, don’t do it. I’m no good at maths! I’m the first person to hold my hand up and go “I don’t do maths!  Where’s the calculator?”

I know when it comes to my accounts, I’m not going to do that myself so, I pay an accountant to do it. It’s worth every penny because it’s done properly and leaves me time to do my marketing work.

So, you delegate, ask for help, ask other people their opinion. Those connections that you make, and those people that you meet are the people who can help you, but you must shout for help.

Finding a business mentor as well is a really good thing. When I was younger, actually before I started my business, I had a couple of mentors in marketing, and they were amazing. Now I do that for other people as well, which is really rewarding.

These are my top three tips. However, some other things to think about when running your own business. Running a business is really hard. People will expect you to work seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. People will email all times of the day. People call me at eight o’clock at night.

People do expect you to be on call and work all the time when you run your own business. It’s hard to say “No”, especially when you’re starting, it’s really difficult to say “No.” You want to say “Yes” to everything just to make some money, but you learn which people to say “yes” to and the people to say “No” to.

A big thing to consider if you run your own business is that no one is going to pay you if you’re sick.  No one is going to pay you when you go on holiday.  So you have to plan so you manage in those times as well.

I had a period of my life when I was in hospital for three months. Nobody paid me. Luckily, I had a business model, and I’ve been savvy in business to make sure I was covered for that ‘rainy day’ period. That is a negative of running your own business.

There is no doubt that it is a roller coaster. Some days you are like flying; you’re like, “I’m on fire!”  Then like other days things like Coronavirus hit, and it’s a bit s**t. Or you lose a client, or somebody says something negative.

Generally, there are loads and loads of positives for running your own business. Namely, you can be flexible; you can work what hours you choose, you can fit your work around your life. I work to live, not live to work. Basically, I work so I can pay my bills, but spend lots of time with my family and be there for the kids. I take them to school in the morning, pick them up, go to school plays. I’m not going to be one of those people where the business takes over my life. So, being super flexible, that is a massive positive of running the business.

Also, being able to have a bit of time to have self-care as well. Although sometimes that doesn’t always work because you end up working on your business leads. But having that bit of time, just to think “I’m going to go for a walk” or “I’m going to go and meet some friends for a coffee today.”

You can do that when you run your own business. When you are restricted with a nine to five job, you can’t. So, that is a massive positive, having that flexibility is fabulous.

Don’t get me wrong, it is hard running your own business, but it is so rewarding. I can’t tell you the joy and the positivity and the love that I have for running my own business, seeing it grow, and taking it to the next step. It’s fantastic.

If you are thinking about starting your own business, go for it. Reach out to people, ask people what they think. What have you got to lose? If you’re in a situation where you are going to potentially lose your job, or you are going to be made redundant, take it from somebody who was redundant and had zero savings in the bank. You can do it, and you can make money and make it successful.

It’s quite poignant at the moment for anybody that’s teetering on the edge of starting a business. I hope that it may inspired somebody to think “Right. I’m going to do this. I’m going to look into this.”

It’s hard, but it’s worth it.

Here’s some inspiration for you. “Apparently more millionaires are made during a crisis than otherwise.”

Seize the day, do it and let me know how you get on because I love hearing a positive, good news story. You can read more of my blog tips for marketing your new business here.

Join my Marketing Made Easy by Lisa Facebook Group and make connections, ask questions – we’re here to help.

Personal vs Business Facebook Page

Personal vs business Facebook pages

I have never really used my personal Facebook profile for marketing. I’ve always been an adamant believer that you should use a business profile, but it did get me thinking about any benefits to using a personal versus business Facebook page and would that be beneficial for marketing.

Sometimes, if I’m working on a really cool project or something, I will share it on my personal page. However, for me, my personal stuff is personal, and my business page is business.

Posting on your personal page actually gets seen by more people. It’s a fact. More of your friends are going to see the things that you post. There are still times when I post things and not every single one of my friends would see it, but personal posts do get more engagement than business posts.

I have done a bit of research to try and find out the differences, and what I would recommend that people do in terms of marketing.

I’m going to give you some of my top tips on why using a business page is probably more effective than using your personal page.

Scheduling

Tip number one. With a business page, you can schedule.

On your personal page you can’t do any scheduling, but for busy business people, who have got things to do and a business run, scheduling on social media is a really helpful tool. I’ve talked about this in previous Facebook lives that I’ve done. If you can schedule posts, say once a week, you can plan out your content, then you can sit back and you can forget about your social media for a week. Other than commenting and engaging with people, your posts are sorted.

You can’t schedule posts to a personal page. Now this is fine if you don’t believe in scheduling. If you don’t want to schedule stuff and you’re quite happy to sit down every day and churn out posts, that will work for you.

Advertising

Tip number two is advertising.

On a personal page you are not able to do any advertising to promote your business, whereas on a business page, you can.

I’ve had some really successful campaigns for clients where we’ve done Facebook advertising.  Whether that’s getting more likes, encouraging people to view certain posts on your page, driving traffic to your website, increasing sales, generating leads. Doing all this through your business page is possible, but it’s not possible on your personal Facebook page.

So, it depends on if you want to do any advertising for your business or not, but that’s something to consider.

There’s also the thing about, if you have a business page then you can create this little bit of code called a Pixel. A Facebook Pixel that you can plant in your website and then your Facebook page and your website talk to each other. Facebook knows who has been looking at your website, and you can send messages to them as well. You can do something which is called re-targeting and send specific adverts to those people too.

Again, you can do that on a business page, but you can’t do it on a personal profile page.

Analytics

The third tip is Analytics.

On your business page one of the best things you can do is look at your insights.

If you’ve never scrolled and looked through that extra menu where it says ‘Insights’, and you run a business and have a Facebook page, I would urge you to go and look at your insights because it’s a hive of information and it tells you all sorts.

You can see who’s been on your page, when they’ve been on your page, you can see how many new likes you’ve got, you can see where your followers live, you can see what posts are performing well.  That’s a really good one to know what does work and what doesn’t work.

Have a look at this extra analytical data. Again, you can’t do that on a personal page.

There are many more benefits of using the business page over a personal page.

However, there is a school of thought that you could use a bit of both. Now, personally for me, I wouldn’t want to start using my personal page because I’ve got all my past school mates on there, I’ve got all my university friends, I’ve got random people I know from the town, I’ve got all my family on there. You know, those are the type of people who engage with my personal page.

If I were to start writing loads of business posts on there, it’s going to get seen by my Mam who is going to comment on it, but really are they going to buy my services? They will probably tell people about stuff I do, but they are not really my target customer.

I would say if you’ve got a personal page with loads of friends on it, either delete all your mates and be strategic about how you friend new people. Befriend business colleagues, people that you would want to do business with because, like I said at the beginning, there is a school of thought where you do get more engagement on personal posts.

If you make lots of friends who are business colleagues, potential customers, that kind of thing and you post a few general posts, chatty engaging posts, then you are probably likely to get good engagement as well.

The other thing to think about is the kind of things you post on there as well. You don’t really want to be posting if you’ve been on a hen-do or stag-do with all your drunk pictures. You’ve got to think about having your personal page, but with a business hat on. Is it appropriate for business?

Now if you think your friends list is all business colleagues, and that you’re going to post work related things, then potentially having a personal page that is work focused and a business page, could work, and doing a bit of both on each. It could be a good thing.

Don’t think “I’m not going to have a business page” because you lose all those useful attributes like scheduling, the advertising, the insights and so much more. But if you really want to increase engagement, you could post on your personal page as well.

I would also say, try and keep some branding on your personal page. So, you know you have your cover photo on your personal page. Make it an image from a networking event or something work related, so then people can identify that it’s you. A lot of people know me and my business by Acorn Marketing, but then if they get a friend request from Lisa Jackson, they might not know who I am until they click on my page and see “Ah, it’s Acorn Marketing”. So, try and keep some branding in there.

Be selective with your friends if you are going to be using your personal page for business. Be very aware of what you post and don’t be overly salesy. I would still have a business page so you get the insights, analytics and the benefits of having a business page, and try different posts on both.

Personally, using a personal page for business is not for me, but I know my good friend Chris is trying out, there is no harm in giving it a whirl.

If you are really focused on your marketing, it is best to use a business profile, but there are a few little advantages of doubling up and having your personal profile for work as well.

I hope that’s been helpful and makes you consider the pros and cons of personal versus business Facebook pages for marketing.

Do read through my blog on a variety of other marketing advice and social media tips to help your business.

How to Create Engagement

how to create engagement

The more engagement you can create on social media, the better, because it looks like you are really active on social media, whichever social media channel it is. This can apply to LinkedIn, TikTok, Facebook, all of them.

Engagement is key; it’s really important.

Last week in my tip I talked about creating a community and a tribe, those people that follow you and love what you do.  We really want these followers to comment on our posts, share the posts and to tag other people in them as well.

Why is important to create engagement?

When people comment on your posts, more people see it. Facebook and all the other social media channels have an algorithm that looks at how you’re communicating with people, how you’re interacting, and the more that people like and share your posts, the more people will see them. That means it boosts your brand awareness.

One of the most important things I do as a marketing consultant is raising brand awareness, shouting about your business, telling people what you do. So, it’s really important for boosting your brand awareness.

It’s important because it helps you reach more people. If you just post and nobody comments, then fewer people are going to see it. If more people are commenting then it’s going to show up in other people’s feeds, it’s going to show up in other businesses feeds, it’s going to show up in their friends feeds, and more and more people will see it, and then more people will hopefully engage with it as well.

It also makes it easier to attract new customers as well. If people are looking on your page and there’s loads of engagement, there are loads of comments, there’s loads of interaction, people are more likely to look at you and think “Ah right, this is a really active page, it’s really interesting, it’s really informative, loads of people are commenting.” That is why engagement is really important.

Here are my top tips on how to create engagement…

When you are thinking about planning your content or if you’re just spontaneously putting posts out there, these three things are going to help you think about how you can get more engagement.

Ask A Question

By asking a question, you’re creating a discussion. I might ask a question about something specific in marketing, like if other marketing people have used a social media platform or if people can give me any advice on something or use a current discussion topic, like at the moment it is Coronavirus and how it’s affecting business, people and life in general. I found particularly that posing questions and creating the discussion topic has really improved my social media over the last six months or so.

So, try that. Think about every now and then asking some discussion questions.

Educate

Top tip two is to educate.

Whatever you do, whatever your business is, whatever your specialism is, you are an expert in that field. People that follow you want to know about what you know so, educate people.

This can be anything. If you are an accountant, you can educate people about their taxes.  Marketing, well I’m educating you now about marketing tips that might help you in your business. If you are a butcher, you might educate people about how to sharpen their knives or make some recipes or prepare a cut of meat.

If you own a shop, you might be telling people about new products that have come in and why they’re special or what’s unique about them.

Put yourself at the forefront and show them that you’re an expert and that you can educate them in your specialism and your field.

Inspire

My third tip is to inspire.

We know about inspirational quotes used in business. If you can find some quotes, or even make your own up, that play on people’s emotions and resonate with people, that’s a great way of creating engagement. Some of my most popular posts are inspirational quotes, but I don’t just put general wishy-washy things. I never just put a quote, I always put a quote, and then some of my feedback or what I think about that quote or why it resonates with me. Then I ask a question and get people talking about it.

Quotes can be really powerful things.

Sharing testimonials is also inspiring to potential new clients and customers. Tell people about what your clients or your customers have said about you.

Story telling is also inspiring. I was made redundant, so that’s quite a poignant thing to tell people or talking about sharing a story, inspiring people about where you’ve got in business.

So, asking a question, educating people and inspiring people are three really good ways to create engagement. Get people talking on your social media profiles and to interact with you.

The more comments, the more likes, the more shares, the better.

Another little tip here for you, and I’ve actually just learnt it this week. There has been some research done and actually sharing a post or saving a post is what you want people to do because they are two of the things that Facebook looks at.

So, it’s brilliant to get comments and likes, get people to tag posts, share posts and save posts as well.

To recap, ask a question, educate people and inspire people. These are my three top tips on how to create engagement. If you have a little look at any of my social media profiles, you can probably tell which of my posts fall into those categories, and it’s a really good structure of how to write your social media content as well.

If you have any questions about marketing, strategy, social media and your business, please get in contact and we can discuss how I can help you.

Creating Your Online Community or Tribe

Creating your online community

One of the best things that you can do is create an online community or your online tribe. Basically people that love you, people that have got a shared interest and a passion about what you do and what you talk about. People that are going to be your advocates as well.

You’ve got to shout about yourself, and you’ve got to be your biggest advocate. Nobody else is going to do that. However, if you form a really good community, a good tribe online, these people can be your advocates too.

A lot of people are very much concerned about the number of likes that they have on their social media pages. You can have hundreds of thousands of likes, but if those people aren’t going to be your advocates, aren’t going to share what you do and love what you do, then they are not really part of your tribe or community. It really is quality over quantity.

There will be social media accounts who have high numbers of followers but do all of the followers  buy the products? Do they engage with the brand? Are they part of the community? Possibly not.

The thing about creating your online community, it’s about forming relationships and a connection with people. I feel happy to say that I personally know a lot of my followers, we communicate and we engage with each other. They send me messages, they write comments and I respond. Creating your community is about doing that; forming relationships with people.

Think about those people who have got your back, whether that is locally near where you live, people in the industry, people that you can rely on as well. Follow them, engage with them. It’s all about being social and continuing to build your online community.

There’s a lovely lady that works in Manchester that does social media, and we talk to each other all the time online. I have never met her, but I just really like what she does, and I feel like I’m part of her tribe and her community.

Here are three of my Top Tips in Creating Your Tribe.

Be Authentic

One of the best things that you can do is to open up to people, be honest and genuine. There are so many brands and people on social media now that are a bit false, a bit airbrushed, so you can’t always believe what you read or the images that you see.

Something that is becoming more important on social media now is about being genuine. For example, last week I came on Facebook and did one of these Top Tip sessions and I’d been for a walk, was a bit sweaty and dishevelled. Today I’ve had my hair done, and I look a bit nicer, but that was the real me. My priority was to get online for my online audience and do my Top Tip. People relate to that; people see that you are real and you are genuine. It makes you stand out amongst the… let’s called them the ‘airbrushed community’. People actually see you and engage with you, rather than this plastic façade.

Creating Value

The second tip is about creating value and being generous with people.

I’m a marketing consultant, and in all the twenty years of experience I’ve got, people can come to me, work with me, and I’ll do projects and activities for them and help them out, but there are other people that can’t always afford that, and genuinely do need help. However, they couldn’t afford to pay me monthly to do projects for them. So, I decided to help my online community.

On my website I’ve got a downloadable Top Ten Tips. I presented various Facebook Lives during lockdown, and now I’m doing short snippet videos as well. By giving value to my followers, I’ve organically grown the community over the last few months and I have learnt that people are genuinely interested in what I’m saying and appreciate some free marketing assistance as well. I am trying to give something back to my community.

Think about the business that you run. Is there something that you can give back? On top of your standard social media posts that you are posting every day. Could you do some Facebook Lives?  Could you do some little workshops that don’t cost loads of money? Could you add some downloadables on your website? Host a competition? Think about how you can give value to your community and your tribe?

You can always create a separate group for those people, so they feel special. I hope that the people who get my Top Tips and are part of my community feel they get practical benefits out of following me.

Valuing your Audience

The third point is about valuing your audience.

I love my online audience. I love all you guys watching me when I do Facebook Lives, which is brilliant. I also know that if you’re not watching it live, you watch it later on because you value what I do. So, therefore I value you as well.

If people engage with me, I always reply to their messages. If people comment on my social media channels, I genuinely always try and reply to those comments as well. Within the online communities that you’re part of, be sure to engage – ask and answer questions, share knowledge and build contacts.

So, they are my top three tips on creating an online community.

We know why it’s important to build our online community, and it’s about quality rather than quantity. Those people that you know, like and trust, who will share your work and be your advocate. Those people have got your back, they like what you do and have got a shared interest and passion.

Remember… #1 – Be open and genuine, just be yourself. #2 – Create value and be generous with the information that you give. #3 Value your community and tribe in return.

If you have a question about a marketing topic that we could do these Top Tips on, please let me know. I have got ideas all the way through to December, but if there is a key topic for you, then I’m quite happy to slot it in as well.

You can sign up for any of my courses or access past sessions via this link. I enjoy sharing my knowledge as a Marketing Consultant to help other business owners – however big or small – understand the importance of marketing.

How to find clarity in your marketing

Find clarity in your marketing

Do you want to find clarity in your marketing?  Many people find marketing a challenge and confusing and like its some kind of magic dark art. I’ve had loads of people say that to me in the past, but sometimes you just need to see the wood for the trees and get a bit of clarity with what you are doing.  So, I’m going to give a few little tips today that might help you get some clarity and some pointers of what you can do in your marketing going forward.

Tip 1:  What do you actually do?

The first thing you need to think about is what do you actually do?  What is the business or service that you provide?

I’m a Marketing Consultant, so I wouldn’t just say “I’m a Marketing Consultant.” I’m an outsourced marketing manager where I can effectively manage a client’s marketing while they can concentrate on running their business.  They can forget about their marketing and do what they do best, while I look after their marketing.

So, you need to think about what is it that you actually do for people and how do you solve their problems?

Tip 2: Who is your ideal customer?

Next, you need to think about the target customer.  This is so important because you could do so much marketing, but if you’re not targeting the right people, then you’re marketing is not going to work.

So, really think about who is your target market?  What type of people are they?  What kind of age range do they fit into?  What do they do for a job?  What are their hobbies?  What are their interests?

And one of the most important things to think about, as well, is if you were your target customer, where do they receive marketing?  So, what social media channels are they on?  What newspapers do they read?  What books do they read?  What magazines do they read?  What TV programmes do they watch?  Where do they hang out?  Where do they socialise?  How can you get in front of those people as well?

So, you really need to think about your target customer and target audience.

Tip3: What is your marketing message?

The next thing that you need to think about is your message.  What do you want to tell those people?

I could easily say “I do marketing, I help people with social media, I help with marketing strategies and writing content and creating websites and things.”  But what I actually do for people is give them the peace of mind to know that their marketing is in safe hands to know that they don’t have to worry about their marketing anymore and that things are going to get done.  When they want it to be done that somebody is just ‘on it’.  So, that’s the message that I try and give out to people.

So, think about what you do and how you help people.  What are those key things that you really want to shout about in your business that can help people?

Focusing your message

We all get overwhelmed with all these different things you can do with marketing, but where do you even start to help you find clarity in your marketing messages?

I want you to pick three things that you are going to focus on.  Write down what you do, who your target customer is, what are your key messages, and think about three things that you are specifically going to do to target that customer.

There’s so much you could do.  PR, social media, events, networking, partnerships, sponsorship, awards; there’s just so much stuff you can do in marketing, which is why people get so overwhelmed.

Pick three things that you can focus on in the next six months to a year or whatever and really focus on those things.  Think about those things in terms of will my target customer see them?  Am I telling them what I actually do?  Am I telling them what service I provide and how it’s going to answer their problems or benefit them?  Am I telling them this kind of stuff?  And am I doing it in the right way?  And will they see it?  Will my target market actually see this piece of work that I’m doing?

Your three aims could be reaching out to new customers; it could be doing more on social media or even learning the basics of social media.  It could be increasing your audience, or it could be “I’m going to focus on Facebook adverts.”  “I’m going to look at trying to get more stories in the paper.”  “I’m going to maybe develop some video content or free content for my clients and customers or potential customers.”

But don’t feel bogged down and overwhelmed by all the different marketing tasks you can do.  If you pick three things and do them to the best of your ability, and do them really, really well; that is going to pay dividends, and that is going to make a difference to your marketing.

So, my biggest point here is, please don’t overwhelm yourself with marketing.  Think a bit more strategically to find the clarity in your marketing.  Write down what you do, who your target customer is and what you want to tell them, and then how you are going to do it.  Just pick three things that you feel comfortable with that you want to develop.  And honestly, you will see better results from focusing on a couple of things than trying to spread yourself too thin.

Hopefully you’ll now feel like you have a bit more clarity in your marketing.

An insight into Public Relations for small businesses

An insight into Public Relations for business blog

I often find that people think PR is placing an advert in the paper, or you need to entice a journalist to come and interview, but it can be much simpler than that.
If you have a story to tell and not sure how to do it.  So, here is a bit of an insight into Public Relations for small businesses.

So, what is PR?

When I talk to clients I often get asked if PR is putting an advert in the paper.  There is a bit of a misconception that if you want to get information about your business in the paper it has to be paid for.  Many people also think that journalists write everything that you read in the paper (or in online publications) but quite often a lot of it will be generated and written by PR and marketing professionals like myself.

It’s a bit of a two-way relationship – journalists are looking for stories, and PR’s want to get positive press coverage for clients.  What do I mean by press coverage? I mean an article or feature in a newspaper, magazine or now online publications too.

According to ‘The Public Relations and Communications Association’ (PRCA)

“Public Relations, or ‘PR’, is all about the way organisations communicate with the public, promote themselves, and build a positive reputation and public image.

The way an organisation is represented in the media has a huge impact on how people perceive it. PR professionals try to influence the media to represent their organisation positively and communicate key messages.”

Why do PR?

There are so many advantages to adding Public Relations to your marketing mix. By marketing mix, I mean all the tactics you use to promote your business (social media, email marketing, website, events, brochures, sponsorship etc)
Messages delivered through PR are regarded by consumers as more legitimate than those presented through other marketing tactics such as advertising.
Generally, people can clearly recognise that advertising comes direct from a business to increase sales. Articles in the paper are more likely perceived as trustworthy as they come from a reliable source such as the journalist.

Here are a few of those reasons why you should do PR…

• Often free
Unlike advertising where you can pay hundreds of pounds for an advert, PR is generally free…it just takes time. You can write a press release, send it to the papers and if you’ve got a good ‘newsworthy’ story it gets published for free.

• A good way to promote your business or product
If you have a new product to launch, opened new premises, expanded the business PR is a great way to shout about what you are doing.

• Build and maintain a positive image
By consistently sending out good PR about your business, more people will read about what you are up to, see that the news is positive and this gives a good impression of your business.

• A great way to reach new audiences
We generally share our good news stories on social media, on our website or email, but these messages often will only get seen by your online community. By sending press releases out and getting coverage (in a newspaper or online publication) puts your business in front of a new audience – an audience of people who may not otherwise be able to reach

• You can manage what is said about you
If you send press releases that you have written, that include quotes from you, and all the information that you want to share, you can effectively manage what is written about your business. If a story came out about your business and you didn’t issue a press statement or make comment, then the article is in the hands of the journalist to write the information they know, or can find out. This may not always be accurate.

• Long term effect
There is certainly a positive long term effect on public relations. Building that positive image in the public’s mind with consistent messaging can bring you new customers, build a good reputation and ensure you are seen as a strong business with good corporate and social responsibility and ethics.

How to find a news story

Quite often press releases get passed by or rejected, which can be disheartening. Often it could be timing. You may send a press release when there is some other news breaking (nationally or locally), or you may send it when the paper has already gone to print. Your press release gets passed by, or missed and then it’s out of date a week or so later. It’s important to remember that even if a story is newsworthy there is still competition for media’s attention and some stories just won’t make it.
Often, press releases are bypassed because the content is seen more of a sales story than a news story. So, it is important to find the news ‘hook’ as I like to call it. So, how do you know what is newsworthy?

Here are a few examples:
Timing: Topics that are current make good news i.e COVID19, Tourism in Cumbria etc. If something happened today its news, if it happened last week it’s no longer interesting.
Significance: If the story affects a lot of people it is newsworthy.
Proximity: Local stories will be more relevant and leverage more coverage. If you write a press release you need to tailor it to the local publication you are sending it to and make it relevant.
Prominence: People with status will generally receive more coverage – celebs, CEOs
Human Interest: This is the key area – people love to know about people and finding a human interest angle to your story will appeal more to readers.

 

The basics of writing a press release

It is all well and good thinking you’re going to write a press release and send it out, but you may be thinking how do I even write a press release??
I’ve created a downloadable template you can use by CLICKING HERE, but here is a quick guide…

Headline: Initially think about an attention-grabbing headline. I’m not talking about one that will go into the paper – as this is the job of a journalist to think up a catchy headline, but something that sums up the story.
Opening paragraph: This is the most important element of the press release – it literally needs to sum everything up. Think about Who, What, Where, When, How – you need to answer all these questions in the initial part of the press release. A journalist needs a quick summary of what you’re telling them, so they know whether it is relevant for them or not.
Additional paragraphs: You can then elaborate in the second and third paragraphs, giving more information about your story
Quote: All good press releases should have a quote from the business owner, partner or stakeholder. Think about the main subject and who is the most relevant person to give a comment on it?
Summary: Round off your press release with any additional information, or a summary of the story, future plans, information for the reader etc.
Contact info: Vital contact information should a journalist need to get in touch with you or the business
Notes to editors: Any further information, background info that a journalist may need. Links to website etc.

It is also worth noting it is good to have a photo ready to accompany the press release as well. if you are going to send these out with your press release, they need to be high resolution for print publications, but not so big they block up the journalist’s inbox.

 

How to get your story in the paper

So, we’ve had a think about why you should be doing PR, how to identify a story, how to write your press release, but how do you even get it in the paper?
The first thing to do would be to identify which publications you’d like it to appear in? Write them down in a list. You can often find contact details on the publication’s website for the main newsdesks. Or you could give them a call, ask to speak to someone on the news desk and say you have a press release about XXXX to send in and who would be the best person to send it to. This is particularly good if you are targeting a national publication, so you can ensure you get your story to the most relevant journalists (travel, education, finance, sport etc)

Once you have their details send in the press release via email. Make sure you note that it is a press release in the email subject line, along with the press release headline.
Add the main points of the press release – that first paragraph – to the body of the email and attach your press release and accompanying photo, with clear contact details.
If you are sending to more than one journalist ensure you BCC your contacts. Or if you’ve spoken to them on the phone, ensure you send it to them personally rather than blanket email.

Quite often in the local press, your press release will often just appear without you knowing and pop up by surprise. If you’ve not seen the story appear, after a few days (depending on when the publication comes out) give them a call to chase up and ask if they are going to use the story, or did they receive it? It may have been missed, or they may give you a reason why it was not used.
If it is not used remember don’t be offended – there can be lots of factors why a press release doesn’t get published.

 

Evaluation

It is very hard to evaluate PR coverage when you’re not a big PR agency with a media cuttings service, but generally, if you read or buy the publications you often know if your press release has been used. Another good tip is to set up Google Alerts or do a search in the news section of Google to see if anything appears.
As a rule of thumb, a press article is worth three times more than what you would pay for an advert. So if you were going to pay £100 for an advert 10cm2 the press article is worth £300 per 10cm2.
This is called the AVE, but it is a little out of date these days as it doesn’t take into account digital, online and social media coverage, but it does give you a little guide as to the value of PR.

 

I hope you have found this blog insightful and given you some food for thought about why you should do PR and an insight into Public Relations for small businesses.

Find out more about my services and how Acorn Marketing Cumbria can help with your marketing

Facebook Adverts

Facebook Adverts

We’re going to look at:

  • The benefits of advertising on Facebook,
  • The difference between a boosted post and an advert,
  • Ads Manager and Business Manager (download set up guide here)
  • Types of adverts you can create for your business,
  • Tips for a good advert,
  • Audiences
  • Budgets

What are Facebook ads

Facebook adverts often look very similar to normal posts on your Facebook feed.  You can often identify them as they say ‘sponsored post’ underneath or they appear down the side on the Facebook news feed.   They are often hard to spot, but are usually specific to you, depending on your location or your likes and interests and how you have interacted with other pages on your account.

Reasons to advertise on FB

  1.  Highly effective

Facebook is one of the best places to advertise online and a survey I found said that “78% of American consumers say they’ve discovered products on Facebook.” I imagine those stats are similar to the UK.  With the right set up and a little knowledge you too can use Facebook ads to promote your business and sell your products.  You don’t need a huge budget and it is relatively simple to do.

 

  1. Simple to set up and fast results

Anyone can log on to Facebook and create a business manager account, set a payment method and publish a campaign in a matter of minutes.

You can boost a single post to reach users directly from your Facebook page, or you can create a more complex campaign that targets custom audiences and produces even greater results with the business manager.  (I’ll talk about the difference between boosting a post and creating an ad from scratch later on)

 

  1. Reach your ideal audience

We already know how many millions of people use Facebook every day, so it’s no surprise that FB ads are a great way to reach more people.

Facebook provides lots of different ways to reach specific people based on their behaviour on your website, their known likes, engagement with your Facebook page, and other various elements of their demographic such as age, gender, and location.

So, for example, you can target people in a specific radius from your business

You can target people who like certain things, such as dogs

Small business owners

Women in their 40s etc etc

Also more complex things such as who has visited your website, people who are similar to those who already like your page or friends of people who already like your page.

 

The difference between boosting posts and adverts

A boosted post is a post on your Facebook Page that you can apply money to in order to promote it to an audience of your choosing. It is the simplest way to advertise on Facebook.

Boosted posts differ from Facebook ads because with a boosted post you can do this directly on your page, whereas a Facebook advert needs to be done in ‘Ads Manager’ and they don’t have all of the same customization features that Facebook adverts do.

When you boost a post, it’ll show up in your audience’s Facebook News Feed as an ad. You choose a post that’s already on your page that is performing well and boost it in a couple of steps:

Who you want to reach, your max budget and how long you want to run your ad.

You press ‘boost’ and it’s done.  Easy peasy.

 

Facebook ads, on the other hand, are slightly more complex. ‘Boosting’ a post is still considered an ad as you have to pay for it, but Facebook ads are created through Ads Manager and offer more advanced customization.

  • You can choose different ad placements – you can choose whether you can to place the advert on Instagram, Facebook News Feed side ads, Messenger ads, Instagram stories, instant articles, and Audience Network.
  • You can be more specific with ad objectives: You can choose things like brand awareness, likes, lead generation, conversions, clicks to your website and you can edit your ads while they’re running and have a bit more flexibility over them.
  • Be Creative: You can also be more creative with the ads, and design carousel ads, add specific descriptions and add a call-to-action button that’ll drive more of your audience to take action.
  • Targeting: You can also use more advanced targeting.  Boosting posts let you decide on interests, age and gender for your ad targeting, but with Facebook ads, you can use more advanced tools to define demographics, lookalike audiences, use the Facebook pixel code on your website to capture web visits and more.

So, which should you use?  This all depends on your business and social media marketing goals.  If you simply want more likes and engagement then a boosted post could work well for you.  If you want to make sales online, be more specific with your targeting, retarget people who have shown an interest in your product or service then Facebook ads would be more beneficial.

 

How to set up accounts

Ad Manager Vs Business Manager

So, often you may hear people talking about Ads Manager and Business Manager.

Ads Manager is specifically what you would build any Facebook adverts in.  It is where your account payment details are saved and where you can see all the reporting tools.

Business Manager is like the hub of all Facebook management and where you manage your business pages.  You can assign roles, create pixels (I’ll explain what that is later), manage multiple pages, collaborate with agencies.  There is also added security for Facebook pages.

Business Manager is a more secure way to manage your Pages and ad accounts.
You can see who’s working on what and what they have access to view and work on.
You can also keep your business separate from your personal Facebook profile.

Ideally, you should have Business Manager set up – I have created a handy ‘how-to’ that you can download here

 

How to create an advert

We would be here all day if I was going to show you exactly how to set up an advert, but I found this great guide from AdEspresso you can follow, which seems pretty easy to follow…

 

Types of advert

There are over ten different types of Facebook advert that you can set up. Sometimes it can take a bit of playing around to know what format works best for you and what you want to achieve.

Check here for a guide from Facebook as to all the different types of ads

Here is a quick rundown of the different types of Facebook adverts

Awareness

1 – Brand awareness

Increase awareness for your brand by reaching people who are more likely to be interested in it

2 – Reach

Show your ad to the maximum number of people

 

Consideration

3 – Traffic

Send more people to a destination such as a website

4 – Engagement

Get more post engagements page likes or event responses

5 – App installs

Get more people to install your app

6 – Video views

Get more people to view your video content

7 – Lead generation

Drive more sales leads, such as email addresses, from people interested in your brand or business

8 – Messages

Get more people to send messages to your business in messenger

 

Conversion

9 – Conversions

Drive valuable actions on your website, app or in messenger

10 – Catalog (this is how they spell it!!) Sales

Create ads that automatically show items from your catalogue based on your target audience

11 – Store traffic

Drive visits to your physical stores by showing ads to people who are nearby

 

Tips for a good advert

Your Facebook ad creatives and copywriting are among the top elements that decide whether your ad campaign succeeds. If a Facebook user is scrolling through Facebook and your ad doesn’t catch their eye, they won’t click on it, end up on your website and they definitely won’t end up converting.

Research has shown that images are responsible for 75%-90% of ad performance. This is why it is important to choose a really great attention-grabbing image.

Here is a great step by step guide how to create an advert

 

Image:

  • Think about the image you use. Is it one you’ve taken or a stock image, will it stand out,
  • is it colourful and eye-catching, is it funny?
  • is it going to make people stop and click?
  • Images should only contain a minimal amount of text

Copy:

So what is written in the advert?

  • Is it attention-grabbing
  • Does it post questions, or answer your viewer’s problems or
  • Promise a benefit
  • Keep it short and clear
  • Perhaps you can use testimonials in your text or give your customers experience dealing with you?
  • Give a sense of urgency. Limited edition

Audiences and targeting

Remember that advertising is about getting customers, not cheap clicks.   You want to see a return and something tangible from the advertising that you do.  So, it is important to think about targeting and not just using a scattergun approach and targeting everyone in the UK.

To find out more about targeting and audiences click here

 

There are 3 different types of audience in a Facebook advert

  1. Saved Audiences

Saved Audiences are the audiences that you can define by choosing people’s interests, location, age, gender, devices, income level, etc. You can create Saved Audiences in your ads manager.

 

  1. Custom Audiences

Facebook Custom Audiences are probably your most high-value target audiences as they allow to retarget past website visitors and people who have engaged with your content and people who have engaged with your Facebook page as well. You can also upload email lists to custom audiences too.

 

  1. Lookalike Audiences

Lookalike Audiences let you reach the people who are similar to your existing followers on your Facebook page.  Lookalike Audiences help you to extend your ad campaign’s reach so that you only target people who are likely to be interested in your offer.

 

Budgets

You don’t have to have huge budgets to see a return on Facebook ads.  You can spend as little as £1 a day and see results.  Obviously the more money you have the more you will get seen, but I’ve had some great results for clients who have spent £5 a day for a week.

Phew, that is a quick guide in how Facebook adverts can be effective for your business and a bit more about how to use them.  Remember you can download a guide on how to set up Business Manager and ads manager HERE.

 

Please drop me a line with any questions or download my price guide for more information about how you can work with me.

 

How to use Instagram for Business

How to use Instagram for Business

Social media is all about being social, having conversations with people and getting them to engage with you…and you with them too.  You want people to find out about you and your business, you want them to google you and search for your website to get more information. You want to inspire them with what you can do.  And Instagram is a great place for doing this.  Marketing is all about sharing your story, your products and services – if you don’t fly your own flag about how amazing you are, no one else will and you’ll go under the radar – probably while one of your competitors is out there doing it for themselves.   So, if you have an Instagram account, or are keen to use it more I’d say go for it. If you enjoy using it if you want to make it part of your digital marketing strategy embrace it wholeheartedly because it can be a fantastic tool for promoting your business and spreading awareness of what you do.

  • It can drive traffic to your website
  • You can build up relationships with your followers
  • You can sell products on there
  • You can make new connections with people in your industry
  • You can find inspiration and other awesome people to follow to
  • You can show people how fantastic you are and get new clients, sell your products and generate leads.

We talk a lot about engagement and we all want people to engage with us…however the key is engaging with other people. You want to be liking, commenting and sharing other people’s content to get seen by them as well – Instagram is all about building a community of like-minded people who are interested in what you do and being social with them – this can lead to new followers, leads and sales.

You can also download my handy INSTAGRAM CHECKLIST

Or watch my Facebook live presentation here

Tone of Voice

Tone of voice and personality is a really basic principle of social media and how to use Instagram for business and can influence how you set up or run your Instagram account.  Instagram is not just about what photos you take, it’s about what you post and what you talk about.  Quite often I find that people don’t like being the face of their brand, they don’t like being on camera, or putting themselves out there.  But, sometimes the key to this can be as simple as really thinking about your USP, finding your voice and knowing what to talk about.

A lot of Instagram influencers talk about the same topics all the time – take Mrs Hinch for example – it’s cleaning, babies, mental health.
Chessie King – Body image, self-care, health and fitness
Joe Wicks – again health and fitness, diet, exercise
Lisa Jackson (me) – Marketing, running a business, being a mum and Cumbria

These people above all talk about what they are passionate about and this is why you follow them – these topics make people want to come back for more.  As business owners, we want to be talking about our business, what we do, why we do it, how we do it, what makes us different from others, what we’re passionate about too…what do you want your Instagram to be known for?

So what are you passionate about? Pick a few things you absolutely love (between 1 to 5 things). And then post about these things all the time. This is your content, your story, your theme.

Style

Then think about your style
Is your business formal, serious?
Friendly and chatty?
Out there and a bit bonkers?
Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine!

How to make your business sound interesting

I get asked a lot about how to make your business sound interesting on social media. Sometimes I have clients who are blessed with having a marvellous product or service, like flowers, or cake, or weddings – you could talk about this until the cows come home. There is such a rich variety of content to post – lucky things. So, how do us B2B service providers, or people who make widgets or thermostats make their social media sound interesting?  Don’t worry – just because you don’t have a red Ferrari, the latest innovative beauty product or a spacecraft doesn’t mean your brand voice has to be something people ignore. A lot of B2B companies treat social media as an afterthought, their posts lack personality and a human touch.

For instance, the insurance industry is about as uninteresting as it gets. Sharing links about how to choose business insurance all day isn’t going to build a following. But when you think about who is your likely audience and tailor your social media content toward those people, the scope of what you can post becomes a lot wider. Then, even if you’re in a “boring” industry, you can still deliver share-worthy content on social media and continue to build your audience.

It is also important to think about the type of content that your audience will like, rather than what you want to post. Most people are on social media to be entertained and kill some time, so your social media content needs to appeal to that. That means instead of posts about why your products or service is great, think about creating content that tells stories, appeals to emotion and sparks conversation.  Think about how you can speak, show, entertain, educate, inspire and share.  How do your products help improve people’s lives – whether that is GDPR policy, marketing, admin services, accounts, widgets and screws – There is a voice and vibe for everything.

Here are some examples…
• Educate – Educate your audience. You are the expert in your field so tell your audience about what you know and what you can do.
• Inspire – inspirational quotes are fab, but make sure they are going to inspire your audience. Don’t just post a quote and leave it, expand on it, tell your audience why it’s relevant to you. Inspire them with your backstory, with your thoughts and ideas.
• Tell a story – everyone loves to be nosey – tell people about you and how you got to where you are, tell them if you’ve had something funny happy to you, or had a bad day – there is a story in everything!
• Be human – comment on people’s posts, thank them for doing something, tell them something nice without expecting anything back.
• Be useful – share content that will be useful to your followers. Consider this an opportunity to position your business as an industry expert. Dig deep, to help your audience understand the real value of your goods.
• Don’t take yourself too seriously
• Discuss – ask questions, provoke thoughts and discussions
• Conversational tone – be chatty, forget the formal stuff – people want to know the real you. It’s all about being social. Use humour, let your hair down, but don’t go over the top
• Engage with others – have conversations, comment on what people share, get involved

Your first goal of B2B social media marketing needs to be all about building your brand, not sales and leads. The odd sales post here and there is fine – of course, you run a business, but think about humanising your brand and be SOCIAL.

A good way to tell whether or not you’re sharing great social media content is to ask yourself this: If I didn’t work for this company, would I look at this post?
If the answer is no, it’s a sign you need to revamp your content.

Download my handy INSTAGRAM CHECKLIST

Instagram Fundamentals

Now let’s get down to the juicy stuff of how to use Instagram for business– I am going to walk through the fundamentals of Instagram. The key things you need to ensure you have in place to really maximise your account.  So, here are my tips for things you can do right now to improve your Instagram feed.

Bio

According to researchers, it takes less than two-tenths of a second for an online visitor to form an impression of your account.  So, writing a good Instagram bio is quite important as you need that first impression to be a good one!

  • Make sure your name is actually your name in Instagram (name field in your profile, not your Insta user name).  As your name and username are the only fields that Instagram considers in search queries.  So it’s really important to make sure that the name you use in your Instagram bio is the one your followers and customers are searching for!
  • Skills – who you are and what you do. You might want to list some of your skills or services think about what sets you apart from competitors
  • Keywords – add in some keywords. Not for searchability, but to show people what your profile is all about, add in the pain points, answer their questions.
  • Link – add a link to your website or blog.
  • Email – add in your email to help followers find a way to contact you easily
  • Hashtags – include a branded hashtag
  • Emojis – share some fun

Grid

So the grid is all your pictures on your account page.  When people arrive at your Instagram account, the top 9 pictures in your grid should reflect who you are and what you do. If those top 9 photos appeal to people, they are more likely to press the follow button. Think of that top part of the grid as the ‘magazine’ of you/your business. Have a look at it – what does it look like. Would you follow your own account? It needs to look attractive.

A grid layout is how your posts are positioned in your feed and attracts people to follow you once they’ve viewed your profile.
There are 9 types of Instagram grid layouts you can create –

1 – squares
2 Diagonal
3 – Tiles
4 – Row by Row
5 – line in the middle
6 – Rainbow feed
7 – Borders
8 – Puzzle
9 – Mix

For me, I stick with plain and simple images as it’s the easiest, but why not be creative with what you do – there are so many options to have fun with. I use my teal brand colours and try to alternate them light and dark.  However, I’d say get the basics right first, then start playing around with it and you can get more adventurous and creative.

Theme

An Instagram theme is how your Instagram feed looks like overall.  It is your visual personality.  So what do you want your theme to be? boho, tropical, colourful, minimal or white?
Mine is linked to my brand colours and imagery, so it is all consistent.

Consistency

Once you’ve chosen your theme make sure you are consistent in how you use it. Pick a font, pick a colour, pick a filter and use them in all your photos.  Again, it will give you a really nice looking grid.

Links

Now it is a bit of a pain on Instagram that you can’t add links to posts.  I always tell clients you should use your social media to drive traffic to your website or share information, but it’s so much harder to do this on Instagram.  However, there is a way around this.

You can add a list of links into your bio.  I like to use something called Link Tree.  If you have a look at my profile, there is an example there – I have my website, blog, link to my Facebook page, to my costs, my portfolio.  So, if I reference these in any of my posts, I can say (link in bio), knowing that people can find the information I’m talking about.

Stories

Did you know that Stories are seen by over 3m people per day! They are a really powerful tool and a great way to tell people more about you. They are the first thing people see when they arrive at Instagram and they will generally take time to view stories of people they follow before they scroll down their feed.

If you don’t know what they are it’s the little boxes across the top of the page when you arrive at Instagram. You can also now use them on Facebook too. Or like me, I’ve got my Instagram and my Facebook stories linked, so anything I can on Insta stories, gets posted to Facebook too.

So, use stories to talk about what you’re up to; show off your personality, share special offers, link to your grid, use hashtags, tag other people, share information – there is so much you can do with a story…they last 24 hours, but you can also save them as a highlight, so people can view them at other times when they look on your grid.

How to make effective Instagram stories without me being in front of the camera
Now I know this is probably an issue for a lot of people – not everyone wants to get in front of the camera. It feels awkward and comfortable and you feel you have to do a million takes before it is right – right??

However, if you can I would encourage you to think about it as according to SproutSocial, Instagram posts with faces in them get 38% more likes than those without. And to back that up even further, Instagram posts with my face in them get better engagement than photos without. People get to know you and visualise you and they begin to build up trust in you, your skills and your profile.

However, if you really can’t bear to show yourself. There are a few things I would suggest if you really really don’t like being in front of the camera – in video or photographs…
First, you need to ask yourself if you want to be the ‘face’ of your brand/business – if yes, then you need to be seen on your social media, so people can build up that trust.
If not, if you have a creative or product-based business it will be much easier to do this as you can take beautiful shots of what you do and showcase those – in posts and in stories.

You could record shots from far away, turn your back to the camera, crop your head, hide your face, show your hands even like Mrs Hinch? Perhaps this could become a feature of any posts about you?

Hashtags

As well as beautiful images, Instagram is all about the hashtag.  You can use up to 30 hashtags in your post.  The minimum you should be using is 10-20 hashtags per post.  However, this all depends on you, what you’re posting and what works for your account.

What is a hashtag?  Basically it’s a word with the hashtag (#) symbol in front of it…by adding this symbol it makes that word searchable on Instagram.  #Cumbria – anyone searching for Cumbria your post will show up amongst the posts.

Now all this talk of hashtags is all well and good, but I find a lot of people get a bit stuck when it comes to hashtags and what on earth to write or use?  A great starting point is to search for them on Instagram – see what your competitors are using, people in your industry, customers, events you go to, people who are local to you.

And think about using a range of hashtags…

  • Use popular hashtags (up to a million mark)
  • Use niche or industry-specific hashtags (* this is the key one as this is what people are specifically searching for)
  • Use some of your own branded hashtags
  • Use location hashtags (i.e I’m in x hotel having a meeting)
  • Hashtags relevant to your post – you need to ensure you make the hashtags relevant to what you’re posting.  If you make sure the first 5 are relevant and the rest are your branded hashtags, niche hashtags etc that’ll work great.

I heard recently, that you should follow the hashtags you want to rank for and be commenting on some of those posts too before you start using the hashtags, so Instagram knows that you are serious about that hashtag.  I’ve done this a little bit when I’ve got a bit of time, but it is hard work.

I also want to point out that running an Instagram account, can be hard work.  If you want to really grow your following you need to be posting 4-5 times a day, with a range of posts, adding to your stories and commenting on other people’s posts and sharing their content too.

Realistically, who has time to do that!  But, if you want to grow a following locally of people who you will work with, a bit of a time and a strategy can be really beneficial.

Have Fun

The secret of any social media platform is to not take yourself too seriously and have fun.  Your feed will never look the way you want if you’re not having fun with it.  Love what you do. Take your time to create what you want to see and share. There is no right or wrong with creativity. Have fun planning your feed!

Download my handy INSTAGRAM CHECKLIST

Marketing Strategies to Tackle Covid19

Marketing Strategies to Tackle Covid19

Have you thought about your marketing strategies to tackle COVID19?  During this difficult time, I wanted to help other small businesses, give advice, tips and tricks on a whole host of marketing and social media tactics.  I thought that the subject of marketing strategies would be relevant to many businesses right now who are battling COVID19.

I won’t have the answers for every type of business in every industry, but a lot of what I will talk about will help businesses form the basis of a marketing strategy and plan for when we emerge from this crisis and give you some tools to jump-start your business into action.  It’ll give you a plan for the next 12 months to give you some direction and a plan going forward.

All businesses should have a business plan, with aims and goals, but having a marketing strategy can support this, help you reach your goals and give you a more strategic approach to your marketing.

We will look at where you are now, where you want to be and then the steps you can take to get there.

 

What is a marketing strategy?

So, when you started your business, you were probably eager to get going and many of you may have written a business plan.  But then, like me, once you actually get going the business plan goes out of the window…but you always have in your head ideas about your business – what you want to achieve, how you want to develop, where it’s going?

I certainly hope you do anyway.  Might be a good time to write it down.

A marketing strategy works in harmony with the business plan.  We look at the fundamentals of the core business and what the business wants to achieve in the next year, 5 years, 10 years for example.  With a marketing strategy, I like to keep it simple and focus on the next 12 months because as we know things can change at an unprecedented rate and what may have been relevant last year has gone out of the window this year. But, you can still have the long term goals and a vision for your business.

The marketing strategy looks at where the business is now.

We then look at where you want to be – what you want to achieve in the 12 months

And then how we’re going to get there (all those marketing tactics)

By having a clear marketing strategy it helps you plan, it stops your marketing becoming so scattergun, it gives you clear aims and an understanding of actually what you need to do.

Alongside the marketing strategy, I also create a plan and this is literally a week by week plan of what you are going to do and when to be able to achieve everything you want to do in the timescale you’ve given yourself.

First, we’re going to talk through a basic marketing strategy.

MARKETING STRATEGY TEMPLATE

MARKETING PLAN TEMPLATE

 

How to create your own marketing strategy to Tackle Covid19

So, I’d generally spend a few hours with a client talking about all these various elements in a marketing strategy and then write it all up for them, so this is a bit of a DIY strategy for your to try yourself, obviously, I can’t give you all the ideas as they will be niche to every different business, but it’ll give you a good starting point and some focus.

 

Part One: Where you are now?  

So to start off we need to think about where you are as a business now, what you’ve been doing, how successful you’ve been, who you’ve been selling your products and service too.

1.1    – Profile:  This is a description of your business and what you do

I.e. Marketing Consultant ‘Acorn Marketing is an award-winning marketing consultancy        Helping small businesses, with big ideas grow and achieve success’

Literally, if you had to use one sentence to determine what you do, what products or services you provide add it here. We don’t want paragraphs of text, just a nice short summary.

 

1.2    – Customer:  Who is your current customer?        Who do you currently work with?

Me – Small to medium size businesses

Wedding industry – brides to be (from outside Cumbria)

Clothes Shop – people in a x mile radius, women 15-35

Think about all the people you work with now and put them into categories if you can (industries/areas etc)

 

1.3    – Product:  An outline of your different products and services      

Me: Marketing/social media/digital marketing/PR/design/creative services

 

1.4    – Competitors:  Who are your main competitions and what are they doing in terms of business and marketing?  

Spend a bit of time looking at what your competitors are doing – are they doing it well, what can you learn from them, where are they advertising, what tactics are they using, do they have a good website, who are their clients.  This is the place to list all your competitors

 

1.5    – Marketing:  What marketing have you done to date?

Have a think about everything you have done to date – has it been successful, if so why?  If not did you do it right or was it not right for the business?

You can then try to see if what you’re doing has been effective or not – list everything here.

 

1.6    – SWOT Analysis:  Outline your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats               

I don’t like to talk in jargon and this is a strategic planning tool I’ve built up myself over the years, but I think a SWOT analysis can be a really helpful way to identify our weaknesses and addressing those, see what business opportunities are ‘out there’ that we can take advantage of.

So, spend a bit of time thinking about you strengths, opportunities, weaknesses and threats (obviously a big one right now is COVID19, the economy etc, so build all that in to your SWOT)

 

Part Two – Where do we want to be?

This section looks more at where you are going and what you want to achieve in the future (let’s say the next 12 months)

2.1- Vision:  What is your vision for the business? 

Marketing consultant of choice (you may not be able to get me) but I’d be at the top of your list if you could choose 😉 – known for being approachable, easy to work with and gets the job done.

 

2.2    – Key Messages:  What are the main messages of your business? 

If you had to tell someone your unique selling point or why they should use your service or buy your product what would it be?  What are the main messages you want to shout about to potential new customers?

If you tuned into my last Facebook live video we talked a lot about brand values and we did a little exercise about differentiating yourself from other businesses and standing out from the crowd.  It’s not enough to say you’re professional, because everyone expects that…it’s the softer values that make you different from others and that make you stand out – that you’re quirky, passionate, thoughtful etc.

What makes your products unique as well as you or the business – why should people buy off you.

Once you have these key messages nailed, these will form the basis of all your marketing – anything you write on social media, any advertising you do, when you talk to clients, when you’re writing a proposal, doing a Facebook advert, an e-newsletter – they all form the key points you want to shout about.

 

2.3    – Target Customer:

So, in part 1 we looked at customers, but here we look at target customers.

Which customers do you want to target going forward?  It could be a similar list to who your current customers are, but do you want to break into a new field or industry or group of people?

Add these targets here.

If you joined me for my last facebook session, we looked at our ideal client avatar – if someone was going to pick up the phone right now and ask about your business who would your ideal client be?

The list might even just be the same as before, but your marketing strategy will address new ways to target them.

 

2.4 – Aims and Objectives:

Now you need to think of your aims as a business, but specifically about your aims in marketing (to achieve your business aims) what are you going to do to achieve those aims when it comes to your marketing?

Your business aims might be something like

  • make x sales,
  • grow to bigger premises,
  • grow the team,
  • outsource more work,
  • Increase turnover by 5% etc.

 

But the marketing aims would be more like:

  • Increase visitors to your website?
  • Get more active on social media and get 100 new followers,
  • Get more coverage in the paper?
  • Create a new brand identity,
  • Start writing a blog.
  • Write a strategy and have more focus

 

Part Three – How do we get there?

This is the fun bit, where you can let your creativity flow.  The ideas section.  Part three focuses on your aims and objectives and thinks about all the things you can do to achieve those aims.

Want to increase visitors to your website – how you going to do that?

Get more active on social media – perhaps download the app on your phone, look at it each day while having breakfast, use a scheduling tool

Write a blog – again how are you going to do that, are you going to write 1 post a month, think about planning the posts for the next 12 months.

 

So, keep your list of aims handy and then think about all the different marketing tactics you could implement to achieve those aims and write them down.  Here are some examples for your Marketing Strategies to Tackle Covid19…

 

  • Strategy & Plan (which we can tick off now)
  • Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube)
  • Digital marketing (Blogs, apps, video)
  • Promotions, competitions, sales (seasonal offerings)
  • Digital advertising (Pay Per Click, Google Ad words, Facebook ads)
  • E-newsletter – building leads and sending out a regular email marketing campaign
  • Website development & maintenance
  • Create an online course or e-book
  • Advertising (print)
  • Brand Development
  • Promotional material development
  • Events
  • Public Relations
  • Database
  • Direct mail
  • Sponsorship
  • Awards
  • Evaluation – this is a really important area, ensuring you look at any marketing you do, evaluate it, so you know if it works or not.

Now, not all of these tactics will be relevant or appropriate for everyone, but they give you an idea of lots of different tactics you could use to achieve your marketing aims.

 

Part 4 – Staying on Track

Now, once we have an idea of our aims for our Marketing Strategy to Tackle Covid19 (what we want to achieve in the next 12 months), what we’re going to tell people (key messages), who we are going to tell (target marketing or ideal client avatar) and an idea of how we’re going to do that (our tactics) we need to think about how we’re going to implement them…and this is the key part of staying on track and not being scattergun.

Again, you can download my excel template for a marketing plan – this is literally a week by week plan of what you are going to do when.

First, we’re going to talk through a basic marketing strategy.

MARKETING STRATEGY TEMPLATE

MARKETING PLAN TEMPLATE

If you want to create a new website, pop the timescales in the plan.

If you want to send a monthly e-newsletter pop it in the plan (when you will write it and when you’re going to send it)

Think about adding in key dates and events (like in the social media content plan I discussed in the first Facebook live I did) – such as school holidays, valentine’s day, conferences, Easter, Christmas.  You can then plan any promotions around those if you need to write a press release, share a post on social media, send an e-newsletter etc.

Once you have all your key marketing tactics in this plan, you can then check it each week and know exactly what you need to do in terms of your marketing that week.

This steady and planned approach to marketing will be the key to your success…rather than being scattergun and jumping on every opportunity that comes along, refer back to your plan, does it capture your target audience, will it shout about your key messages, can you track its success?

So it’s not really a dark art or really complicated, you just need to be organised and strategic with what you’re doing with your Marketing Strategies to Tackle Covid19.

 

Right and that is basically a whistle-stop guide through how to create your own Marketing Strategies to Tackle Covid19.  It will give you focus and a clear idea of what you need to do to boost your business or to get back up and running once we’re out of this crazy mess.

So, I hope I’ve helped a few of you today get some clarity and not just bamboozled you please email on lisa@acorn-marketing.co.uk if you have any questions

Make Your Branding Fit For Business

make your branding fit for business

All this positions your brand/business in the minds of your customers – You understand exactly what you are offering, your customer understand what you are telling them or selling to them and then the visual manifestation of your brand reinforces your brand values.

So, I’m going to break this down into sections and work through each area.  I’ll give some practical exercises you can do that can help you build up a thorough understanding of your brand and think about it not just in terms of colours and a logo, but on a deeper level.

You can also watch my Facebook Live video about this topic too!

Understanding your customer

Right, this may seem like basic marketing and totally unrelated to branding, but it is really important to understand who your customer is.  If you are running a business and never done an exercise on your target customer now is the perfect time, but it is also essential in helping you plan your marketing…and I’ll show you how we tie this into branding shortly.

So, quite often when I talk to clients and I ask “who is your customer?”, they tell me everyone.  And I cringe! When people try to target ‘everyone’ their marketing becomes scattergun, because they have no one specifically to target.

They have mixed messages, feel like they can do all the marketing, everywhere and it just doesn’t work.  A message to a teenager is going to be very different to one you give someone in their 30s.  A message to a woman could be very different to what you would say to a man.

By defining your target audience can really help you see the woods for the trees.

There are various ways we can think about our target customer – via a mood board, which I love doing and if you’re a visual person this is really fun. Simply writing it down or you can think about your Ideal Client Avatar.

Exercise: Get a piece of paper and I want you to really think about who your ideal customer is…not everyone, but if you had to pick one person to work with, if your ideal client was going to call your right now who would it be?

Male/female
what age are they
Job?
What car do they drive
where do they live – what type of house
Are they married, do they have kids
Do they have any pets?
What job do they do?
Where do they go on holiday
What hobbies do they have?
Give them a name

So, once you’ve done this exercise, the person looking back at you is your ideal customer – it is who you want to be paying money for your services, buying your product, making enquiries.  This is who you need to focus on with your marketing.  Everything you do needs to be talking directly to this person.

This is just a really basic and easy task you can do to try and get you thinking about your ideal customer in a bit more depth.

Of course, there are probably different categories your customers fall into, but this is the type of customer you would love to pick up the phone right now and book you or buy your product.

When looking at marketing strategies I’d go a bit more in-depth and look at different industries, age groups, demographics etc, but again try to be specific and don’t think that everyone is your customer otherwise your messaging will be really mixed.  Try to keep it focused on a few specific niches.

Key messages, USP and brand values

Our next section doesn’t look at colours/logos/fonts etc either.  This time we’re going to look at key messages.

Marketing essentially is a load of messages that we give out about our business or brand…yet sometimes the messages can be really mixed up, confusing or doesn’t really differentiate you from the crowd or competitors.

I am assuming people have heard of USP – unique selling point.  Do you know yours?

If you are a consultant what makes you different from the next consultant?

If you have a shop, what makes it different from the shop next door?

If you are a solicitor, what makes you different from the other firms?

Once you identify what makes you different and stand out from the crowd this again can feed into your branding and how you portray your business.

Exercise:

I want you to write down your business name in the middle of the page and then I want you to write down all the things that someone would say about you if you went out of the room and was talking about you and your business.

Literally write down everything that comes into your mind.  Then once you’ve done that take a different coloured pen and cross out everything that could be used to describe everyone else – professional, good customer service, experienced, knowledgeable.  Everything that is generic.

Now, have a look at what is left.  If there is nothing left, you need to keep thinking.  You should be left with words like inspiring, creative, fresh approach, do things differently, quirky, no fuss, ideas person, get a buzz.

Now take your 3 strongest words/phrases from that and these can form the basis of your messaging.

Example (these are mine):

Fun (but not funny)

Say it as it is (don’t talk in jargon)

Passion (passionate about my work and my clients)

These are the things that engages your target customer, make you different, they make you stand out, they should form the core of your brand values and the messages in all your marketing.  This is what gets you seen.  It is like building the foundations of your brand.

 

Tone of voice

Another important thing to think of is tone of voice.  It is important to think about tone of voice in your marketing and branding.  Let’s go back to target customer – who are they and how should you talk to them?  You would talk to a CEO of a large business differently to how you would talk to a young person.

Think about how your target customer would like you to speak to them – what is appropriate?

‘Professional’ isn’t always the right tone if you want to show your fun side.  Or perhaps chatty and joking around wouldn’t be right if you’re trying to win a big contract.

For example.  I want to work with companies who don’t have a marketing team – I’m like their outsourced marketing manager.  I want them to be able to trust me, confide in me, feel like they know me, that I’m part of the team.  If you look at my marketing – on social media, the way my website is written is a great example of how I am ‘talking’ to them. (fun, no bull shit, and with passion about what I do)

So, again once you know your target customer, once you know your USP, key messages and brand values can you think about the way in which you talk to them and present these messages.

 

Visual representation

OK, so I may have blown your mind by this point and you were thinking we were going to look at logos.  Well, all the things I’ve covered are like the foundations of marketing and getting your branding right.

How many of you have just plucked a colour or icon out of the air and not really thought about it?  There is no shame in that at all and I’ve seen some great logos from people who have done just that.  But, by exploring the things we’ve talked about takes your brand from being ‘just a logo’ to living and breathing your business.

The brand should be about what the business stands for, who you are, your personality, your values as a business person and once you have all that nailed it will shine out of your logo and branding like a big shining star.  People will understand exactly who you are and what you do and it will make you stand out from the crowd.

Watch my Facebook live video here where I discuss visual representation with Jili Allen of Jili Allen Creative and get a bit more info on what to think about when it comes to how your branding looks.

Phew, that was a rather quick delve into the world of branding and some of the foundations of marketing.  I really hope it has made you think about branding a bit more in-depth rather than just a logo or a colour you pick.  It should be a visual representation of your values and ethos as a business.

I help many clients with their branding check out my portfolio to see some examples of my work.

Communicate Through Your Content

Communicate through your content

In this blog we’re going to look at:

  • What should you be doing on social media during this time and what should you be posting?
  • Why it is important to stay visible
  • What you should be posting right now
  • How to create a plan for social media content
  • How to generate ideas
  • Some top tips
  • How to use hashtags

You should then be armed with all the information you need to create a plan, generate creative ideas and feel more confident in knowing what to post and when to ensure you effectively communicate through your content.

You can also watch my Facebook Live video about this subject here too.

So, what should you be doing on social media during this time and what should you be posting?

There is a school of thought that during this time you should stay away from social media and not be using it as a platform to sell anything.  It is insensitive and could be seen as profiteering.  Well, this is wrong.  It is not about being insensitive…it is about busting a gut to keep your business going.  It is really important to shout about your business, communicate through your content and tell people about what is going on for you right now.

You need to keep talking to your audience and giving them updates, think if new and innovative ways to run your business to keep hustling and bringing in a few quid.  I’m not saying every post should be a sales post (as that would be wrong) but it about sharing information that resonates with your customer and gives them an insight into your business.  If you disappear, then your business could too.

If you get any negative comments, don’t worry – they people simply don’t understand.  They probably don’t run a business themselves and understand what that means for small business owners.  They may still be getting a wage, or working, or be furloughed.  Just try to avoid any negativity from small-minded people.

There are things you can doing to be entrepreneurial during this time as well, to push yourselves out there when your competitors are not.

I’ve seen some businesses go very quiet during this time, others have been thinking about how they can provide a service to their customers and have changed the way they work, for example –

  • restaurants offering food delivery – even delivering cocktails
  • fitness classes going online – even yoga and meditation
  • retail shops, selling products online – if not through your own website, via amazon/ebay/etsy
  • Hairdressers giving tutorials
  • Businesses using their 3D printers to make face masks
  • Beauty companies making hand sanitiser for NHS workers

Obviously, I don’t have an answer for every industry to help them communicate through your content, and there will just be some people who can’t run their business from home, but it really is a time to be thinking of how you are going to maximise your comeback.

What to post:

  • Turn off the scheduler, or be really mindful of the news and what posts you may have going out.
  • Not too salesy – mix up your content and don’t just be posting sales posts all the time
  • People buy people – be personal
  • Think about what your customers want to know right now – give them some light relief
  • What can people relate to – think about what everyone is going through and give them some light relief
  • Drop in the odd sales post – at the end of the day you do have a business to run
  • Think about what you are saying/photos you are using – are they insensitive

General content creation

People often get stuck when trying to think of what to post on social media.  Why?  Generally, because they have no plan.  So, it is a great time to write a social media content plan.

You need to think about:

  • Target customer – who are they, what do they want to know, what are they interested in? We don’t tell them what we want to share…we tell them what they want to hear/know/do.  Also, think about what social media platforms they can be found on?  If you are on Twitter, but they are on facebook you need to think about what social media platform you’re using.

For example – I had started using LinkedIn more as I work B2B and this is where my target customer is, but at the moment I’m using Facebook more as I think that’s where small business owners who need help are hanging out – hello!

  • Key messages – what do you want to tell people. What makes you different from your competitors, what is special about your business?  Write down all the things that make you unique (not good customers service…anyone can say that…what makes you really different and stand out?)
  • Aims and objectives – what is the point of your business being on social media…what do you want to achieve from it? Do you want to grow your following, get more engagements, drive traffic to your website, get sales.  Be really specific…you have to have an aim otherwise what is the point of being on there?  Once you are specific you can really focus on what you are doing.
  • Do what you enjoy – you don’t have to be on every social media platform, think about which one you enjoy using most and focus on that one J (but make sure your audience is there as well!)

How to generate ideas

Quite often people struggle when thinking about what they can post and stumble when trying to communicate through their content.  There is no point just sitting thinking what can I post today, as it’ll take you much much longer and you’ll be brain dead. You need to plan…and here is a little guide as to how you can generate ideas for content…

  1. Start putting into a plan (could be a diary, excel spreadsheet etc) all the dates that are significant to you in your business – events you are attending, conferences, related events for your industry.
  2. Now think about the worldwide/UK events- Christmas, mother’s day, summer holidays, St George’s day
  3. Then research and add in any of those fun days or anniversaries – national gardening week, mental health awareness week, take your dog to work day, the big lunch – there is literally a day for everything. Try to keep them related to your business or you though.
  4. Now have a think about any days that are popular on your chosen social media platform #motivationmonday #toptiptuesday #wisdomwednesday #throwbackthursday #TGIF #followfriday

Once you add all these into the day to day mix, you have the basis of your content plan.

Remember that “people buy people”.  People are nosey.  People like to know the face behind the business, so if you can get in front of the camera, show people who you are and tell them your story, people will build trust in you and become your fans – often referring you on or sharing you work.

The other important thing is to find your tone of voice.  For me it’s all about being Cumbrian, a Mum and a female business owner – these kinds of things make me relatable to my target audience and increases my engagement.

What is your online personality?  Is it personal and approachable, formal and education, jack the lad with a bit of swearing thrown in?

I’d also start snooping on your competitor’s pages/posts or other people in your industry.  I talk to loads of marketing people and comment on their posts, we share ideas and I can find lots of inspiration from them too.

See what works for them and see if you can adapt it for yourself – this is a really good place to start if you get stuck!

Use Instagram/Pinterest for inspiration too and Canva to make simple graphics for your social media too.

Another fab tool I use is called Buffer, which allows you to schedule posts in advance – this is great if you’re using more than one platform.  If you just use Facebook you can schedule direct in there. The important thing with scheduling is to customize for each platform.

 

Summary

Phew that was a quick whistle-stop guide to give you a few ideas of what to post on your social media.

I do just want to say that it really does take hard work to grow your following on social media platforms – you literally have to spend hours working at it, experimenting and testing things out.

However, for small accounts, you can see real benefits from using social media if you want to target local customers.

I help many clients with social media management, but the accounts that do best are those that are 2 way – I share the strategic posts and they post the spontaneous/personal stuff – because no matter how much you want to forget about it…it does always need input from the business owner too.

Anyway, check out my portfolio for a few projects I’ve worked on or you can download my Price Guide which outlines a few packages, which can help people with social media and general marketing.

You can also watch my Facebook Live Video about this subject too!

 

Hosting Client Events

The first step is to meet with our clients to discuss their event needs, pitching various ideas based on their requirements, customer profile and budget. Over the years we have built a wealth of contacts who merge together to create a wonderful occasion. Caterers, florists, photographers – so many professional services weave together to bring the concept of a client event to life.  

Thinking of event suggestions for clients, planning them from beginning to end, executing every detail to make sure the occasion runs smoothly – and also solving any issues that may arise – is a creative process which employs our management skills, which we love.  

Most events will need guests or an audience and so invitations or tickets are required. This involves design work, printing and, when required to make an impact, delivering the invitations in style. Advertising is also on the to-do list and this may be via print media or social media – maybe both. We are experienced in the running order of events from the very first thought to the final report and analysis for the client.  

Social posting during events is standard practise now so that fans and customers can follow the activities as they unfold. Planning a hashtag in order to maximise exposure is key, ties the event together and aids analysis after the occasion.  

Evaluation after the event, delivering feedback to clients, posting on social media – this is all part of the job once the last guests have gone and the venue is cleared up and closed. Generating media coverage about the event and, for fundraising endeavours, announcing the wonderful total of money raised is extremely worthwhile. 

Once the actual event has finished, the work still continues as we pick out the best images taken, write press releases for the media with post-event updates, maintain social media coverage and deliver a post event report to our client. We are proud to say that when we meet clients to go through the event report, a point that is often on the agenda is what we can do to make a bigger and better event next time? The wheels are often constantly in motion, and so starts the planning of the next launch, party, auction, fundraiser… 

We’ll never tire of the excitement that comes with client events – big or small. The same amount of dedication and detail is invested. If you wish to discuss events with us, to find out how Acorn Marketing can help, please get in touch here

Busting Marketing Myths

Myth busting marketing

Myth: Social media platforms – the more, the merrier 

Having a vague strategy where you have signed up for every social media account available will not guarantee success. One of the common marketing myths. An understanding of your customer and target audience means you will know which social media platforms they use. If your customers are not the right demographic for Snapchat, you will be wasting time, effort and money on generating content and posting on there. An understanding of where your customers interact on social media is crucial.  

Myth: Post often on social media to generate custom 

Simply because you post three times a day every day, does not mean this will generate sales. The content you use needs to be engaging, targeted and scheduled correctly. Marketers can analyse when your audience is online and interacting on social media platforms in order to plan a posting schedule to gain the most views and reactions.  

Myth: Marketing is the same as advertising 

This is a common misconception, however, marketing is an amalgam of various strategies to promote a business or service to the right audience in the right manner. By generating and nurturing a stronger relationship with consumers businesses can grow and profit. Marketing encompasses social media, Public Relations, creative design, blog writing, website design and brand identity. We can also work on advertising creativity and placement in addition to all the above.  

Myth: Quality products will sell themselves 

A previously strong marketing myth was that a fantastic product would sell itself and therefore have no need for additional promotion or marketing. This is false as, although word of mouth is a great selling tool, a presence online, which can reach worldwide is a much stronger way to promote a business and generate additional awareness and sales.  

Myth: A website is all you need 

Your business may have a website, but this isn’t the only tool to market your product or business to the world. SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is also key in ensuring your site is found easily by people looking for your products or services. You must ensure that words used in your website will be found by search engines, like Google, and will deliver your website in searches for your product, business or service.  

We can help you and your business with marketing techniques, strategies and management and bust any marketing myths that concern you. There may be one or many aspects mentioned above that you’d like to enquire about us assisting you with. Feel free to send us an email, a Facebook message or please give us a call. We’ll happily discuss your needs and explain how we can help. 

What’s New in Social Media Trends?

social media

FACEBOOK

The majority of our clients do have a Facebook presence, a popular way to speak to and with your target audience, who want to know more about the products and services offered. An interesting fact is that over 80% of videos on Facebook are now watched without the sound on. People could be scrolling their social media feeds whilst on public transport, at work (!), whilst relaxing in front of the TV in the evenings – anywhere. So, it is becoming more essential to utilise subtitles to ensure your message is still being received. This also ensures you do not exclude anyone with a hearing difficulty. Subtitles are also gaining popularity on Instagram, YouTube and sometimes on Pinterest too.  

VIDEO

Video content on social media is now a more relaxed way of interacting with your target audience. It’s an immediate communication and is often the first content that users scroll through when checking their accounts, before standard posts. This is where your customer is and where they want to see more and learn more about you and your brand. In this demanding age, the videos on Snapchat and Instagram disappear after 24 hours so viewers know to check-in at least once a day to ensure they don’t miss any content. LinkedIn has now added video to its arsenal of communication weaponry. 

Video is the ideal format to broadcast an event you’re hosting or attending on social media, showing an example of what services you offer or demonstrating a new product. These videos feel inclusive to those watching, giving them a deeper understanding of your brand, company and values. It could be where social media followers meet your members of staff, see what they do and through this feel more connected to you.  

A growing trend is for social media platforms such as Facebook to be used for customer service functions, with over half of people nowadays opting to message rather than call to resolve a complaint or query.  

Facebook Groups can be a useful way for brands and businesses to interact with existing, loyal customers on social media and ensuring they get the latest news, offers and deals first.  

TIKTOK

The rise of TikTok as the latest social media channel has exceeded expectation globally. Depending on the location of your customers, this may be a platform to watch closely as this time last year, 43% of Tiktok’s users were from India. If India is on your radar for consumers, a TikTok account and possible advertising strategy needs to be on your immediate agenda.  

There will be another new trend in social media around the corner but don’t forget, the reason your company is using social media is to grow connections and relationships with your target audience and customers, so they invest in your brand.  

We can help with advice, strategy, planning and management of your social media channels, to ensure your business is best represented and communicating in the best way to your existing and future consumers. Feel free to contact us to find out more.  

What’s New in Marketing?

Marketing is a world in which you just can’t stand still, everything is fast-paced, and updates, improvements and launches are happening every day. Trying to keep up with the latest news from all social channels and apps can be daunting when running a business. That’s where your marketing consultant can take away the stress and manage things for you. Let us update you on the latest.

Google

We have had a new Google update, which has the friendly name of BERT, which should help SEO in a more fluent fashion. BERT stands for ‘Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers’ – we’ll stick to BERT here. To be succinct, the improvement is in order to interpret search queries better and to deliver results which are more suited to the whole phrase. Rather than using each search word individually, BERT can now search based on the intent of the phrase, which should return more accurate and helpful results for users.

How does this impact my business and what do I need to do? I hear you ask. There is no action required, although it is advisable to keep up to date with SEO. Also, ensure your keywords are performing as best they can. This update from Google should deliver your company in relevant searches. So, your Google Advertising spend could prove more targeted and beneficial to your business. Do ensure that your website has good content which answers the frequent questions of your target audience, then BERT can deliver your information to the user.

Pinterest

You can now make Pinterest work harder for your business. The go-to visually inspirational site is where people visit to browse, shop and discover new brands and ideas. Improvements have made Pinterest more easily shoppable. Visitors want to see something they like and know that with a click or two, they can be purchasing that item. Therefore, making the process easier for businesses to generate sales.

‘Shop the Look’ on Pinterest is ideal as companies can advertise up to 25 items in an image, simply by tagging them. Clicking through will take customers to the company website to check out. Very efficient. This is a great way to encourage interaction with brands and their products.

Your Pinterest profile page can be customised and allows customers to purchase directly from it. Improvements to the navigation within Pinterest also means the updated messaging ability improves customer service. It also speeds up feedback to consumers on their queries. Using Pinterest Catalogues, a business can upload their full catalogue and turn each product into a shoppable product pin.

Facebook

The Facebook Messenger app is also getting an update, becoming faster and giving businesses more opportunities to connect with their consumers. Businesses will be able to create adverts to redirect their consumers from their Facebook feed to a Messenger chat.

If you and your business would like marketing advice or assistance, do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

As this year draws to a close, we reflect on our successes, learn from any errors and embrace the challenge ahead that is 2020. I’d like to wish everyone reading this a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from us all at Acorn Marketing (Cumbria) Ltd.

Tiktok the newest social media app – good for business?

For many businesses, their social media strategy will encompass Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Obviously, some platforms will work better than others depending on the nature of the business, the target audience and what social networks they follow and interact with.  

Tiktok is the leading social platform for short mobile videos, where users can upload 15-second clips directly from their phones. It’s for those who want to share most moments of the day with an audience. Everyone can be a creative director by filming snippets of their day and sharing with the world. Lip syncing, stunts and magic tricks are very popular topics for content. Similar to other social platforms, users can like and comment on the videos and utilise hashtags to navigate the app. 

The community is designed to encourage a creative community to share ideas. This isn’t a platform for highly edited, polished videos, Tiktok has a very casual, relaxed feel.  

Music, stickers, filters and various effects can be added to make these videos funny, memorable and must-share content. 

Tiktok launched in 2016 and it passed one billion downloads earlier this year, so is really fast growing. The audience using Tiktok has an equal male/female ratio with 65% of users 20 years old or younger. 40% are teenagers, making this a Generation Z app.  

Compare this to Instagram where 64% of the audience are 18-29 year old Millennials and where there is a higher number of female users. 

The engagement rates make interesting reading with Instagram at 95% and Tiktok at 28%. 

Tiktok is currently free for users to download. The app does maximise advertising opportunities with infeed content (videos), brand takeovers for a day, hashtag challenges and branded lenses or filters that users can add to their videos before sharing online.  

 Tiktok has a more advanced algorithm than Instagram in order to suggest connections and content of interest in the ‘For You’ section of each users account. 

If you want to use Tiktok for your business, make sure the audience is right for you and your products and services. Try it yourself to see what kind of content is online.  

The most important thing is to only utilise a social media platform if it is relevant to your business, don’t try to embrace the latest app trend if it’s not the right fit. Businesses don’t HAVE to be on all social platforms.  

If you would like advice on your social media activity, please get in touch info@acorn-marketing.co.uk

EVA shortlist for the fourth time

The Enterprise Vision Awards recognise women in business from across the North West in sixteen categories, ranging from best small business to business woman of the year and are the largest awards celebrating women outside London.

As you may well know I am no newcomer to the awards, winning the accolade for Sole Trader in 2015 and 2016 and Professional Services in 2017.  This year I am amongst 30 businesses from Cumbria shortlisted in the awards in 2019.

Acorn Marketing Cumbria makes EVA shortlist for the fourth time

When I first entered the awards in 2015 I’d not really heard of them and I was only one of three businesses representing Cumbria.  The awards have grown over the years and it is fantastic to be sharing this platform now with so many other talented business women.

The initial stage of the awards was via an application, where a panel of judges assessed my application on various aspects including the inspiration to become self-employed, achievements and challenges to date, future plans and the drive and passion behind the business.

The next stage of the process was a presentation and interview, which I did earlier this week at Ribby Hall Village to a panel of judges from Salford Business School, Blackpool & the Fylde College and Ribby Hall.   Following that, there will be an online vote via social media, before the final awards ceremony, which will take place on 27th September at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool.

I am delighted to be representing Cumbria again at the 2019 EVAs.  It is such a fantastic event to be part of and a unique opportunity to reflect on your business and celebrate your achievements.  I didn’t enter in 2018 as I didn’t want to push my luck, but I was eager to get involved again in 2019 as it’s such a fantastic event and I am thrilled to be shortlisted in the very competitive category of Professional Services once again.  The judging process has gone well so far, now I’m just waiting in anticipation of the big night in Blackpool.

What makes it even more special for me this year, is that two of my clients have also been shortlisted.  Salon Rouge, also from Penrith, have been shortlisted in the Beauty Business category, the only hairdressing salon in the whole of the North West in the category and Raspberry Fields Pony Parties, who are based in Warrington, are shortlisted in the Customer Services category.  Fingers crossed it will be an evening of celebrations all round.

Marketing FAQs

How much do you charge?

As every project we work on is different, there are no set fees for our services. Our primary objective is to discuss with prospective clients what their needs are from any marketing activity. It could be simply to manage all social media or a comprehensive package to run an entire marketing department. Until we understand exactly what the goals are and what is required to reach them, we cannot provide a quote. We like to meet up and chat about the business and its requirements and can then customise a package.

Is ‘marketing’ the same as ‘advertising’?

Marketing is so much more than simply ‘advertising’. The term ‘marketing’ encompasses a whole array of activities. Acorn Marketing can help businesses with the following:

Marketing Consultancy – a cost effective solution if a business cannot afford a full-time marketing manager, consultancy is also the ideal scenario when the team within a business doesn’t have the knowledge, experience or time to undertake all marketing work.

Marketing Strategy & Planning – we can customise a comprehensive strategy and generate a step-by-step marketing plan.

Social Media – we can help with ideas and training or manage your social media accounts.

Digital Marketing – from website design, content creation, e-newsletters, blogs, videos and online advertising, we can manage digital marketing needs.

Branding & Graphic Design – creating a brief and concepts, liaising with designers and printers to deliver impactful print work.

Public Relations – generating press coverage in local newspapers, magazines and online.

Event Management – we can plan and execute any event; from a product launch to an awards ceremony – however big or small.

And finally, Advertising – we can help to create and deliver your campaign, be it for print or online.

Which is the best social media platform?

There is no one answer to this question. The best social platform for your specific service or product will depend on what it is and where your potential audience can be found. Having a presence on all social channels will be a waste of time and money if your audience is not prevalent across all of them. Focusing on your biggest social audience and building the numbers is the best strategy of time and budget.

Where do you work?

Acorn Marketing is based in Cumbria, but this does not dictate where my clients are based. My current client portfolio is spread across the UK. I meet clients regularly and also have Skype meetings. My business is based from my home, so my overheads are low, and I cannot be impeded in getting to the office by traffic problems or bad weather, which is an advantage.

Why hire a freelance marketing consultant?

There are many reasons why hiring external marketing expertise is the best option. Some companies might not be in a position to employ a full-time marketing manager, others might just need help on a time-specific project. On occasions, our services help individuals who are just too busy running other areas of their business and need the day to day marketing activities covered.

Delegate your marketing requirements to a consultant like me, who has the time and knowledge to join your team and get on with the tasks needed, freeing up time for you and your other staff members to do their roles.

Hopefully, these responses will answer any queries you or your business may have regarding marketing. Should you wish to know anything more, please feel free to get in contact.

The power of thank you

A thank you goes a long way, equally in business. Not just at Christmas time but maybe after a successful project has been finished or a new office opened. A thank you to staff after an exceptionally busy period where everyone has dug deep and worked hard as a team.
So, as we have two national anniversaries this month which celebrate baked goods, why not say a little thank you to your friend, colleagues, staff or your family.

National Doughnut Week!

The 11th of May heralds the start of National Doughnut Week and a sugar coated jam doughnut is still viewed as a treat in our household. Why not pop into your local bakery on the way to work or in your lunch hour and pick up a few of these jammy delights to share? Maybe stop in on a friend or relative for a cuppa and bring a doughnut for each of you to enjoy.

National Biscuit Day!

As we approach the end of the month, we encounter National Biscuit Day on Wednesday 29th May. Last year’s YouGov survey revealed that the chocolate digestive was Britain’s favourite biscuit with a plain digestive coming in second. This winner may spark a huge debate in the office – bring in a packet or two, enough for your team or department, and discuss it over a tea break.

Expressing gratitude in the work environment, whether highlighting specifics in a team meeting or privately sending a quick thank you email does boost morale and increases productivity. We all appreciate when our efforts have been noticed, even if it is part of our job role. A boss or team leader who acknowledges the hard work and dedication of colleagues, will create a ripple effect through team structures, which will in turn benefit everyone.

Our true friends are extremely valuable and do not ask for anything in return, however, telling them how appreciated they are – either with simple words, a note, an offer of babysitting, sharing a coffee (or a glass or two of wine) or the aforementioned doughnuts and biscuits will deepen the bond between you.

Gratitude is a wonderful thing.

It can build mental strength and make you more resilient. A simple – honest – mention of those two little words can have such a positive effect in all environments in which it is uttered. In whatever you do today be mindful to say ‘Thank You’ to those who deserve it – however big or small their endeavours, from holding a door open to handing you change from a purchase.

Stress Awareness Month

Exercise will always help to create those happy endorphins which in turn can boost our mood and reduce stress. Whether it’s getting out in the fresh air for a run in the great outdoors or heading to the gym for a workout class or a swim, these activities will release happy hormones to surge around our bodies and combat any stressful worries.

The Acorn Marketing team all have their own preferred ways of relaxing and taking some time for themselves after busy working days.

We all enjoy the benefits of yoga and Pilates. Some of us take time to focus at home with daily movements at the beginning of each day, others head to a weekly class and switch off both phone and mind to outside influences and just enjoy being in those 60 minutes to workout, breathe deeply, stretch and prepare our bodies for the week ahead. You can find great tutorials online – even short routines to do at your desk.

I find baking to be quite cathartic, switching off to follow a recipe and working methodically. Tidying up whilst my creation is rising in the oven (I’m sure Bake Off contestants don’t have to do their own washing up though!). The big reveal when your cake/pie/bread comes out of the oven and stands to cool on the counter – is always rewarding. I will be honest though; a disastrous bake does negate the relaxing effect achieved during the stirring/whisking process.

Work can be the biggest causes of stress for people so to try to combat this, try and ensure you step away from your desk at lunch. Go for a walk or sit somewhere aside from your desk to eat, just to change the scenery and give your brain a rest from your work space.

Jogging is also a definite means to de-stress. Step into your trainers and head outside (I prefer on a dry day!) either solo or with a friend or two, to appreciate your surroundings – especially in this beautiful Spring season with so many new flowers and trees in bloom. We don’t run so fast that we can’t hold a conversation so it’s easy to keep fit and put the world to rights (always multi-tasking). It’s now a ritual in our diaries.

Sometimes the simplest of pleasures can help us unwind and sitting in your favourite chair with a good book and a glass of wine or a mug of hot chocolate, to immerse yourself in the pages, is just what we all need.

Tiny changes might also help keep calm – if the queues at supermarket checkouts get your blood pressure rising, order online for home delivery. If the thought of going to the gym with lots of other people exercising is a little intimidating and you start to feel the s-word, there are many online classes or DVDs to complete in the comfort of your own home and at a time that suits you. Whether it’s an energetic HIIT workout or calming yoga, pick the best one for you.

A great first step to make today would be to remove your phone as a distraction from your evening routine. Don’t check work emails in the evening – they can wait until the morning. Any updates on social media can be caught up on in the morning too. This will help your brain switch off, relax and hopefully aid a deep and stress-free sleep, making you ready to deal with whatever the next day brings.

Breathing can also aid us in relaxation. Taking a deep breath in for a count of 5, holding for a count of 6 and breathing out for a count of 7 will help restore calm.

So during stress awareness month, find your feel good factor (or factors), do things for you and remove those stressful triggers from your life to avoid tensions and to help you relax and look after yourself.

Inspirational books for marketing and business

Here are some of our favourite inspirational books for marketing and business

Creative Superpowers: Equip Yourself For The Age of Creativity – Edited by Laura Jordan Bambach, Mark Earls, Daniele Fiandaca & Scott Morrison.

This book aims to help readers succeed in the fast-paced world today. Everything is broken down into four key learnings: making, teaching, hacking and thieving. The combined brain power of the authors delivers tips to re-learn qualities from our childhoods that we might have forgotten – or not thought to embrace in our business worlds. Remaining curious, fearless and finding ways to adapt to all challenges will see us benefit in the working environment. This book will inspire you to tackle problems in different ways, unleash new ways of thinking and delivering success.

Building a Story Brand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen by Donald Miller.

Storytelling has become the backbone of many recent marketing books. Donald Miller approaches this topic by adding his well-proven 7-step StoryBrand guidance. All good storytelling needs a compelling structure – a problem, assistance arrives, a plan is made, action is taken, disaster is eluded and it culminates in success. By applying this configuration to business cases, this book resounds with marketers. Aligning these ideas in a fresh way really enthrals you and the learnings are easily transferrable to recruiting and corporate identity. Also included are helpful instructions and templates.

The Social Organism: A Radical Understanding of Social Media to Transform Your Business and Life by Oliver Luckett and Michael J. Casey.

This book takes a scientific approach to the world of social media in order to explain how social networks replicate biological life.In our current social media age, ideas and concepts morph through hashtags, videos and photos, fed by emotionally driven people. These networks mirror roles of biology, growing due to being fed by the millions of people interacting with them. Luckett & Casey engage the metaphor of cellular biology to further aid our understanding of social media and how we can learn from progress in organisms as to what steps we should take to remain at pace with the fast-growing social media landscape. The easily relatable case studies using memes and events that have played a part in recent history drives this viewpoint home.
This really is a vital guide for marketers wanting to understand the digital world,not solely to comprehend the workings of social media, but to relate it to life today and to make it work positively for us.

Top of Mind: Use Content to Unleash Your Influence and Engage Those Who Matter To You  by John Hall.

Building trust, being consistent and engaging likability are all actions that aid recall in customers minds. John Hall explains that being the first brand, company or person to spring into people’s heads will ensure you are positioned for success. By enlightening readers with a step-by-step guide, Hall explains that cultivating habits and strategies in order to engage your audience with help to create and strengthen relationships with them. Relationship building is the cornerstone to remaining front and centre in the minds of target customers, which is turn aids growth and sales. Advice Hall gives on using digital content to truly enhance your target audience’s lives, is easy to comprehend, and the understanding that making sure you are the first thing to spring to mind will drive success and engagement and loyalty, makes complete sense.

So many professions are required to continually learn and update their skills in order to maintain their licences – Doctors, lawyers, engineers – to name a few. Within the fast-paced marketing world it certainly helps to ensure you continue to learn and educate yourself, ensuring you are the best marketer you can be. Add these marketing books to your reading list now.

Engaging your email database

Think about when you receive marketing emails, which ones have caught your attention, had you discussing them with colleagues and impressed you the most? Based on the assumption that your business has an email database that is up-to-date following the General Data Protection Regulations which came into force in May 2018, here are our top tips to ensure you’re getting the most from this popular and effective marketing channel.

Who Are You?
First things first, when your email arrives in the recipients’ inbox you need to ensure the sender’s name and email address is a true reflection of your company. If someone does not know or recognise the sender, they may not open the message at all.

Subject Header
Choosing the right subject line is also key. The best ones are short, punchy, engaging and relevant to the content. Most email software platforms have the ability to test different headers on smaller sections of your database, so you can see which works best. Then send the best performing one to the remainder of your email list.

Personalisation
Generic emails sent to a company’s entire database are no longer sufficient. Personalisation is a must, so ensure when potential customers sign up for your database that you collect useful data which you can use in your communications. Address your recipient by name and write to them from ‘you’, signing off with a name to personalise the message further. This can improve open rates, engagement rates and click-through.

Segmenting
We all prefer to be seen as an individual rather than a customer or number on a list. By tailoring your messages to the needs of your customers you will find they respond better.
Segment your email database to deliver the best results for you. This may be to divide by geographical location, age, sex or previous purchase history. You may have different information or offers depending where in the country (or world!) your customers live.
Keep your email database up-to-date and organised by removing inactive users who don’t open your messages and delete any undeliverable email addresses.

Mobile Optimisation
This is your biggest consideration as the majority of emails nowadays are read on mobile so ensure your message can be clearly read, as you’ve intended, and nothing is being cut off. By using responsive design (that works on a mobile), you will be able to ensure your content is mobile-friendly and easily readable.

Images/Content
Imagery is proven to engage with readers more than just text so ensure you are including pictures, GIFs and videos to accentuate your content. However, don’t overload the message with images as some email providers may not show all imagery by default and some may be automatically blocked. Ensure you have a good balance of text and imagery, so your message is still delivered, should there be an issue with the images.

Consistency
A basic consideration but worth mentioning – do ensure your email branding is consistent to the design and tone of your company. You need to use the same colours, logos, images, fonts and voice across your email, website and social platforms. This makes you easily recognisable and helps to generate brand understanding and trust.

Links – website/social
Your emails will always include links for your readers, whether it directs them to your website homepage, to a specific product page, a blog post or an offer. Help them to arrive swiftly where you want them to go and always ensure your links work correctly. You will lose trust if you direct people wrongly or include a broken link.
Also, be sure to include links to your social media accounts in your email via the simple social icons to encourage people on your database to follow and support your activity across social platforms.

CTA (Call to Action)
Do be clear about what you want your email to achieve. When someone opens your email, what do you want them to do? Read your new blog post? Complete a questionnaire? View new products or take up an offer? Be certain the correct information is clearly visible, so readers take the action you want.

Option to Opt-out (Unsubscribe)
Check that your emails include the option for recipients to manage their subscription with you. That includes the option to unsubscribe. Your database figures may decline a little, but you will know that the people who are engaging and receiving your marketing messages want to hear from you.

Perfect Timing
Be sure to test different delivery days and times to see when it is most effective. Your email should ideally arrive when people are online, so it might be during a weekday commute slot or at lunchtime. You will learn from your data when the highest open rates occur and can tailor future mailers from this information.

Finally, don’t overlook the absolute basics either – send a test email to ensure you see how your message looks on all platforms, to make sure there are no spelling or grammar mistakes and to check all links within the message work and direct the user to the correct page.

We wish you many successful email marketing campaigns!

Imposter Syndrome

I had a pretty rubbish week at the end of January.  I won’t go into all the gory details, but it reminded me of an article I’d read in the past about ‘Imposter Syndrome’.  The article said that “Research from AXA PPP healthcare reveals that one in five SME owners suffer from Imposter Syndrome – the fear of being exposed in your job as a fraud, inadequate or a failure despite evidence proving you’re successful and capable.”

That week I felt just like this and it made me wonder how many other small business owners feel like this too?  What brought this about was a nasty email from an (now ex) client, slating the work that I did for them, my costs (which are extremely competitive I will have you know) and my knowledge.  It was an email that came completely out of the blue and just knocked me for six.  Communication had been good, feedback had been excellent and I’d really helped them (so they told me).  So, to get an email contrary to that was really upsetting.

I consider myself a very professional businessperson.  I treat others how I would expect to be treated myself, am honest and loyal to my clients.  I studied hard at university and continue to study with my CPD, I’ve gained over twenty years’ experience, am a Chartered Marketer with great clients and testimonials and have won several awards.  Yet, I still sometimes feel like I have Imposter Syndrome. Receiving an email like that, or a bad comment about you/your work or meeting a tricky client can really knock you down.

I never imagined that I’d run a business – I didn’t have a clue where to start, but was thrown into this situation when I was made redundant and I just got on with it.  In that respect I have to pinch myself sometimes that I’m coming up to my eight year anniversary.  There is no way I’d be doing what I’m doing eight years down the line if I wasn’t any good.

Findings in the report suggested over half of SME owners affected (52%) admit that low self-esteem led them to feeling like an imposter, with four in ten (42%) comparing themselves with others and over one in four (27%) doubting their decisions.  

So, my message to anyone out there who might feel like they have Imposter Syndrome is to just go for it.  You are good at what you do; otherwise, you would not be in the situation you are in.  Believe in yourself and others will too.  You are unique and the service or product you offer is unique to you and you should be proud of it.  You don’t need to compare yourself to others, be confident in your strengths and what you do.

Finally don’t ever feel like you’re on your own, there are so many other small business owners out there, so get out and meet them, go for a coffee with someone you trust and build a supportive network around you.  A good talking to can often sort you out (as my husband regularly does!)

So, I’m back on it this week!  Bring it on!