5 ways to promote your business on a small budget

Many businesses this year have been forced to promote themselves on a shoestring budget. If you fall into this bracket, our article will give you 5 ideas on how you can promote your business online with a low budget.

1. Guest posting

Write a guest post for a big brand in your industry which includes your company name and a link back to your website. If that site has good reach and authority, your website will get an SEO boost as well as a load of referral traffic from their site. That ‘free content’ you’re producing for another person’s site turns into a free advert for you.

To make guest posting super effective, think about which links you want to include within your content, then make the content that the links point to evocative and on-brand. That way, you’ll drive click-throughs which stay there and look through your pages.

Just remember to optimise where your written content is hosted by choosing only relevant and authoritative sites. Also provide them with content they actually want to post! That leads us to our next point…

2. Create converting copy

There’s a knack to writing copy that draws in conversions, and it’s an important skill to have. Remember your audience: most users don’t want to wade through huge chunks of writing that they can’t skim.

So break up your text with headings. You may also wish to use images to further enhance the readability of your post. But above all, lose the corporate tone of voice! Humans want to hear from other humans, not robots.

Put some personality into your writing and add feeling.

3. Student interns

How many times have you heard someone say “Should we try out TikTok?”

There are some parts of social media which might not make sense to you… Unless you’ve grown up with them. It’s important to be aware of new trends, but if you don’t understand them, it can be hard to know if and how you should utilise them.

This is where student interns can help. Being generally young means they’ll be native users of emerging social media platforms and trends. They’ll inherently understand what content works.

So not only are student interns a great option for marketers who could benefit from inexpensive labour, they can also teach you a thing or two. As a business, you can gain insight that can only be offered by a younger demographic, while the student gains real industry experience. Plus, it’s a good way to scout for new talent who could transition to full-time employees later on.

4. Citation directories

One of the driving forces behind cheap SEO points is citation directories. These are online reference points to businesses that are hosted on third party sites. They contain the business’ vital information, including their name, address, phone number and website address. Examples include Google My Business and Facebook and Linked Pages.

With citations, you can improve your local rankings. Many businesses don’t have an existing Google My Business profile – if you fall in this category, get one set up!

5. Building reviews

Finally, nothing sells a product or service more than customers saying how good it is. Forbes goes as far as saying “the single most important thing you can do to attract new customers is to take control of your online review score”.

With online reviews now influencing 94% of consumer’s purchases, all businesses should be thinking big when it comes to encouraging customers to write them. If you’re just starting your business, include a polite request in your receipts or sales confirmations to encourage customers to leave a review. Some businesses provide the incentive of entering people into a monthly prize draw, which is nice encouragement.

If a negative review comes in, the key is to respond promptly and with genuine, heartfelt care. If a customer experienced delayed delivery, look into why and come back to them with an explanation. By offering a refund and making your solutions public, you’ll show the people who are thinking of buying from you that you’re proactive and fair in finding solutions.

Most of these suggestions require you to put in the work yourself. But for new businesses, or those forced to cut their marketing spend now, these low-to-nose cost options are brilliant alternatives to standard advertising.

So give a few a go and let us know how you get on!

(READ MORE: build brand awareness with these clever tips and tricks)

Build brand awareness with these clever tips and tricks

If people don’t know who you are, they can’t purchase your product or service. Brand awareness happens the second someone remembers your brand from previously seeing something such as your company name or logo. Building brand awareness means building your reputation. This can help you to get more customers and retain old customers.

But Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is brand awareness. People aren’t going to know your brand automatically after seeing your name or logo a couple of times. You need to work for it by building a strategy, earning people’s trust and making your presence known across multiple channels. There are so many ways you can engage with your customers online – from email marketing to advertising on social media. Below are components to add to your branding strategy:

Make your business more ethical or sustainable

Make your business stand out whilst doing your part for the planet, by incorporating more sustainability. You could plant a tree in clients’ names, encourage your staff members to cycle to work, or print less and be more digital. Already doing this? Shout about it! We are becoming more ethically aware and many people are likely to do business with a company that is incorporating sustainable measures.

Consistency is key

Being consistent will of course help people remember your brand. Consistency can also improve your SEO. If you have a Google My Business page, you will notice that your name, address and phone number is displayed when you search for your business. This should be the same across all platforms.

Also, everywhere that you have a visual digital presence should be consistent. The colours and fonts used across your website, branding and logo must match. Also, cover images for social media platforms should all be the same or similar.

If you are consistent with everything you do, you will become more familiar to people who see you across different platforms.

Social media presence

In a digital world it’s important to have a strong social media presence. You should also be posting regularly – remember that consistent thing we discussed? There are other things you can do alongside posting to boost your brand visibility, such as responding to comments on posts. Be known as a trusted, helpful brand with a great social media presence by making the effort to interact with your customers.

Partner with other (bigger) brands

If you’re a smaller business looking to build brand awareness, partner with more established brands by creating giveaways or even collaborating on a product.

Find businesses you’d like to work with, and engage with them on social media. After building a relationship, you can find out if they’d like to collaborate. Facebook or Instagram giveaways are perfect for building brand awareness. You’ll be getting your name out there to potentially a whole new audience, and if the other brand is in the same industry as you, even better.

Refer a friend

A referral programme is a great way to generate brand awareness, as well as gain new customers. If someone is already a loyal follower of your brand, give them the encouragement to share you with a friend.

If a friend tells you about a product, would you be inclined to check them out, especially if they were offering something free? Graze snacks provide a £1 for every person referred, and each new person receives a free graze box. Everybody wins!

Do something positive

Right now, there’s a lot of negativity in the world. So do something positive for your customers and your brand. Share positive reviews, answer customer queries or come up with your own form of positive branding.

Dominos previously launched a campaign called ‘Paving for Pizza’, where they fixed potholes in the road. They incorporated their logo to promote their business, while making a positive impact. You don’t have to go to this extreme, but people will recognise when you do something good. An idea is donating to a local charity. This can build positive brand awareness and could influence potential customers future buying decisions.

Use retargeting

Brand awareness is ensuring your audience see your logo, business name, ads etc. multiple times, so they become familiar with your brand. Retargeting is a way for customers who may have visited your website to see you again.

There are several forms of retargeting. You can gather data from customers who have visited your website and then retarget them with social media and Google ads. You can also use email to retarget customers.

It’s rare for a customer to convert the first time they interact with your brand. This is why you need to utilise retargeting.

(MORE: 8 marketing metrics you must be keeping tabs on)

8 marketing metrics you must be keeping tabs on

Tracking your key marketing metrics is vital in running an accountable, effective marketing strategy. If you aren’t measuring your performance, how do you know you’re on the right track? Firstly, you need to know what the right metrics are.

These days, there are tonnes of performance measures you can keep tabs on, but in this post, we outline some of the most crucial metrics you should be tracking, and how they’ll help you improve your overall marketing performance.

  1. Leads

Generating leads is one of the toughest but most important marketing tasks. The main role of marketing is to find or produce leads (aka people that are potentially interested in your service and can be converted into customers).

Tracking leads is the first things you must be doing. Track the total number of leads generated per month and leads generated by each marketing channel (social media marketing, advertising, web search results, content marketing, emails, etc.).

  1. Qualified leads

Qualified leads are leads that you’ve seen some form of engagement from – they’re not just ‘potentially’ interested in your service, they’ve actually engaged with you in some way, and can now be transferred to your sales team.

You can calculate the rate of your leads to qualified leads by using this formula:

(Qualified leads/Total leads) x 100 = Qualified lead rate)

This will help you get a better understanding of the effectiveness of your marketing tools.

  1. Return on marketing investment (ROMI)

ROMI doesn’t differ much from the more well-known ‘return on investment’ (ROI) metric. But it focuses specifically on marketing investment, measuring how much revenue a marketing campaign is generating compared to the cost of running that campaign.

Here’s how ROMI is calculated:

ROMI – (income from marketing – cost of goods – marketing expenditures) /marketing expenditures * 100.

If ROMI is less than 100%, then your marketing investments cost the business. If it’s more than 100%, the push was profitable.

Bear in mind that it isn’t always possible to calculate ROMI and the result doesn’t always represent the reality. ROMI is just one metric to consider, and you should never over-emphasise a single metric on its own.

  1. Referrals

Businesses often neglect tracking referrals, but it’s an important consideration, especially in digital marketing.

There are numerous ways you can track referrals, e.g. cards and vouchers, or a manual referral process. But the most common referral strategies are run and tracked online.

This starts with a customer signing up to your offering, then inviting their friends via a unique referral link/code. To track these referrals you can use Google Analytics, or even just an Excel spreadsheet, provided you have a unique code for each new visitor.

To calculate the rate of referrals:

Total number of customers / Number of referrals = Referral rate

  1. Brand awareness

Essentially, brand awareness is where consumers are familiar with a particular brand. It’s one of the vaguest metrics listed here, as it’s hard to assess how many people have heard about the brand. But it can also be valuable, particularly when matched against competitor brands.

Marketers can begin by tracking the number of mentions their brand receives online. You can then also match those same metrics against your competitors.

These metrics don’t show how many people know the brand, but they do show how many people are talking about it, which can be a good way to measure the ongoing impact of your brand awareness efforts.

  1. Reviews and testimonials

Reviews and testimonials are another form of ‘word-of-mouth marketing’. Every business should encourage reviews – they can make or break your sales when a potential customer searches online for your brand.

  1. Cost of customer acquisition (CAC)

Cost of customer acquisition looks at how much it costs on average to convert a lead into a customer. It’s another metric that can prevent you wasting money on marketing campaigns which don’t deliver.

CAC is calculated with this formula:

Amount spent on lead generation / Number of new customers as a result of lead generation = Cost of customer acquisition

Similarly to ROMI, you shouldn’t just rely on it alone and overestimate the metric, as there are caveats. For example, a business may have invested in early-stage SEO, and therefore wouldn’t see measurable results for quite some time.

  1. Customer lifetime value (CLV)

Customer lifetime value shows how much revenue each customer brings to your business throughout the whole relationship. CLV shows you how many customers you need to breakeven and to make a profit.

Increasing CLV is important, as it’s often cheaper to keep an existing customer than it is to convert a new one. The simplest formula to measure CLV is:

Customer revenue per year x Duration of the relationship in years – Total costs of acquiring and serving the customer = CLV

This is a basic measure, but it can provide valuable insight to help keep your efforts on the right track.

Is that everything?

These are the metrics that we consider important, but there are many more you can focus on.

Marketing is multifaceted, and everything from email open rates to SEO requires attention. Just try to spend the same amount of time on measuring as you do marketing, because measuring will help you formulate more effective, adaptive strategies over time.

(MORE: 7 proven marketing strategies that work for small-medium sized businesses)

Spice up your marketing with user-generated content (UGC)

Are you looking for ways to improve your marketing? Would you like to know how user-generated content (UGC) can assist your business growth goals?

The infographic here shows M2 Technology Group’s tips for success. They cover:

  • What is user-generated content (UGC)?
  • Why your brand needs to take advantage of UGC
  • The values of UGC
  • The challenges around UGC
  • 10 steps to a successful UGC marketing campaign

So take a look at the infographic below!

User-generated content infographic

7 proven marketing strategies that work for small-medium sized businesses

These strategies are aimed at small to medium sized businesses (SMBs). Here are 7 low cost marketing strategies which will help push your brand while you save.

1. Setting a goal and budget

To correctly market your business, you need to set a goal. What is the vision and endgame for your business? Would you like people to become more aware of your brand? Do you want to strengthen your hold on the local market? Are you looking to expand your company’s reach?

All of these are valid goals. But as you set your goals, you need to consider your budget. It must be practical and in sync with what your goals are.

Your goals probably won’t be relegated to just one or two; it’s likely you’ll have several. Prioritise them and then you can set your sights on the long-term goals that you consider to be the most important.

2. Maximise Google’s local offerings

Google can certainly offer a lot for small-medium sized businesses. Having an online presence is a big boost to any SMB, which in most cases is a local business. If comparing a business found online to one that isn’t, the one online will grow 40% faster.

A Google My Business account can be a powerful tool. You can take charge of the information about your business, including the contact details, website and hours of operation.

It’s also the best place to combine all of your Google platforms: Google reviews, Google Maps profile, etc. Your business becomes more credible and visible to consumers when having a Google My Business account.

3. Choose the top social media channels to focus on

You might have read somewhere that having an account across all social media channels is the way to go. However, we believe in quality over quantity. Choosing just 1-3 social media channels to focus on is wiser than trying to keep up with them all.

Start by thinking about your target customers, and which platforms they are situated on. For us, our target customers are business owners, therefore we are more active on LinkedIn than other platforms. But for something completely different like a bridal business, their target customers will be women, who are likely to spend their time on Facebook and Instagram.

Also analyse your overall presence on social media. Which channels feature the highest number of engagements?

4. Email marketing

Email marketing is another brilliant SMB marketing strategy, to help in establishing a connection with your target audience. Or even beyond that, email marketing is best used to build loyalty.

Instead of just sending out sales promotions, create newsletters too with news and advice, to keep your audience subscribed. Just make sure your campaigns are mobile-friendly, and test out different subject lines, times of day/week, creative templates, and more.

5. Blogging

To keep your website high in search results, Google likes you to keep your website updated. An excellent way of doing this is regularly adding blog posts to your site. If you fill your blog with useful industry information, it also shows your audience that you’re in-the-know. Win-win!

6. SEO

SEO (search engine optimisation) can be a great asset to your SMB marketing strategy. It helps your website rank higher on Google when people search certain words – keywords. When someone searches something on Google that’s relevant to your product or service, you want your website to pop up! So ensure those words or phrases are incorporated throughout your website.

7. Encourage reviews

Getting feedback is a very effective SMB marketing strategy. After a customer buys your product or service, always ask for feedback.

A great way to get reviews is by creating a survey. It’s more encouraging for someone to fill in a survey with quick (but some open-ended) questions, rather than creating their own testimonial for you from scratch. SurveyMonkey is a simple and free tool to use to create your own surveys. Just make sure you ask for permission to use their survey answers as a review/testimonial!

If you’d like further advice or assistance in the above from the real experts, please get in touch. We offer a range of different services from reviewing your current marketing efforts in detail, putting together marketing strategies for your business, to implementing the work ourselves.

How to write a top-notch professional bio

Is your professional bio the best it can be? Or, like most people, did you sort of write it half-heartedly?

Although in certain contexts, your professional bio needs to be formal, most are quite dull to read. Writing one that’s conversational is actually a really good thing. That means dropping the traditional format of simply listing your accomplishments and squeezing in as much professional-sounding jargon in there as you can.

So with these simple steps, here’s how you can write a top-notch bio.

1. Creating an About page for your website or profile

Before you can publish your professional bio, here are a few places to consider putting it (some of these you might already have):

  • Personal website
  • Personal blog
  • Industry website
  • Facebook company page
  • LinkedIn profile
  • Twitter bio
  • Instagram account

The length and tone of your bio will vary depending on which of the platforms above you write it for. For example, Instagram only allows 150 characters of space, whereas you can write virtually as much as you want on your Facebook company page or your personal website. But your bio should represent who you are in the eyes of your audience.

2. Begin writing your bio with your name

If your readers don’t remember anything else about your bio, make sure they remember your name. This means it’s good for the first two words of your professional bio to be your first and last name.

For example I might start writing my own bio like this:

Stephanie Collyer

Stephanie Collyer is the Company Founder of marketing company Belluber.

3. State your current position and what you do

Whether you’re the owner of your company or a mid-level member of the team, use the next few lines of your bio to describe what you do. Don’t assume your audience will know what your job title entails. Help your readers paint a picture of who you are during the day and what you have to offer to the industry.

4. Include at least one professional accomplishment

Your professional bio should let your audience know what you’ve achieved, just as a business uses the form of case studies. What have you done for yourself – or others – that makes you a valuable player in your field?

5. Describe your values

Why do you do what you do? What makes your contribution to the industry different to others? What values do you and your colleagues share that would make your business a worthwhile investment to others? Here’s where you simply describe what gets you up in the morning.

6. Briefly tell your audience who you are outside of work

Transition from describing your values in work to explaining who you are outside of work. This could include:

  • Your hometown
  • Your family
  • Hobbies and interests
  • Your favourite travel destinations and music
  • Any side hustles you’re working on

Always remember that people like connecting with other people. The more transparent you are about who you are, the more likable you’ll be to the people reading about who you are professionally.

7. Feel free to add a personal story or some humour for some flavour

End your professional bio on a good note – or even better, a funny note. Leaving your readers with something unique or quirky will ensure you’ll give them a pleasant impression of you.

Try and follow the steps above when writing your bio, but don’t spend too much time obsessing over one section.

Why good bios are important for a professional

“How many people actually read professional bios, anyway?”

A lot of people, is the answer. There’s no way to tell exactly who is reading it, but you always want it to be ready for when the right people come across it. And when they do, you want to catch their eye.

It’s the tool that you can leverage most when you’re networking.

People will read your professional bio. Whether they remember it, is a matter of how well you present yourself to your intended audience.

Want to get started now?

Hubspot have provided a free download packed with professional bio templates, examples, and more tips. Download here.

Why you should be checking out your competitors

Knowing who your competitors are and what they are offering can help you to make your products, services and marketing stand out. You can use this knowledge to create marketing strategies and take advantage of your competitors’ weaknesses, improving your own business performance. Also assess any threats and how you can overcome them.

Here are three important reasons on why it’s vital to be checking out your competitors.

1. To be the best

See what your competitors are excelling at and understand why with the following examples:

  • Do they have a higher following on social media than you? Maybe this correlates with how active they are on their social media platforms.
  • Do they have lots of reviews and higher ratings? See if there is a trend in what their customers are raving about. What do they do that is so outstanding?
  • Are they in the news? What are they up to? Is this anything that you can announce to the media?

2. Get ideas for what not to do

Learning from someone else’s mistakes is an effective way for you to progress. Monitoring your competitors’ marketing campaigns brings in ideas of what works well and what doesn’t. Try going through their website as if you are a customer, to see what they are lacking in that you could use to your advantage.

You can also see if they have any bad reviews and why. Generate leads by offering your solution to their problem.

3. To be one step ahead

After thoroughly examining your competition, you might be bursting with creative ideas to take you one step further, coming up with ideas nobody else has thought of. Don’t rip off their ideas. Let their ideas inspire you to come up with your own. Better ideas that convert.

Keep in mind that your competitors could be watching you! Set the bar high.

So how do I start checking out my competitors?

We have recently created a free template where you can easily compare your business with your competition. This will provide you with valuable ideas and inspiration that you can use to your advantage.

Download template here

However if you don’t have time to complete this, we can do it for you in detail for just £270.

The key elements of content marketing

This seven-step guide can be used for anybody who needs inspiration on any type of content for their business.
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Why does my business need a competitive analysis?

A competitive analysis is a way of establishing your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, to provide you with an advantage. This is vital in your marketing plan, as it can help you identify what makes your products and services unique and how you differentiate from your competition. It’s a great way of discovering opportunities and threats, and how to overcome both.

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