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If you’re looking for a new pool of customers to target, you might want to consider marketing your product or service overseas. However, people are often deterred from buying products from or selling to other countries due to language barriers and payment security, as well as logistical issues like how a product will be delivered from A to B. These barriers were highlighted by a recent survey on e-commerce by the EU. Although admittedly a challenge, starting out in exporting might not be quite the big headache that you expected it to be. A new website launched by Google in partnership with UK Trade & Investment, Royal Mail, HSBC and translation company Applied Language Solutions aims to help small firms overcome all these perceived issues, giving customers abroad the confidence to buy from them. It’s free for you to register and to work out where in the world you could take your business, how much you should sell your product for, how much profit you could make, and how much it will cost you to market it to those customers online. In short, you can work out whether it’s worth your while before you dive in. Google spokesman Gareth Evans told me: “You just have to put a product into a search box, for example marmalade, and it will tell you where there is a market for marmalade. The tool will then tell you how cheap it is to advertise online relative to the UK – so if it costs you 50 pence per click to advertise marmalade in the UK, it might tell you it costs five pence per click to advertise marmalade in Turkey.” Go to http://www.google.co.uk/intl/en/exportadviser/ to try it. Will this encourage more small firms to take the plunge?
Some people think that price is everything. My son currently works in my company, SellerDeck, sitting beside me in the home office. His job is account managing customers who use our ecommerce web hosting. It’s very instructive listening in. We’re not the cheapest offering, although we believe that we offer good value. Since you will start losing orders and customers the second your ecommerce web site goes down, and Google research suggests that marginally slow sites reduce orders by 20%, you would expect quality of service to be the major topic of conversation. Often it is, but for a minority, price is all that matters. In fact, there are relatively few products and services where price should be the sole criterion. These probably include electricity, where the same stuff always comes down the same wire anyway, and petrol, where rival brands across town often sell petrol from the same refinery. But some people always focus on price. The question is; do you even want to speak to customers who only care about price? Wouldn’t these customers be better hassling the competition? They not only pay less, they can also waste a lot of time. Competing on price requires the lowest possible cost base. So most businesses try to compete on overall value. My suggestion is if you aren’t losing a few customers on price, you probably aren’t charging enough. And those customers that you would lose from slightly higher prices, will probably be the very same ones that would be the least profitable and the most trouble.
This week on Marketing Donut has been very busy. Here are the Top 5 viewed articles from the site this week. The Dragons’ Den article certainly sparked off some debate and saw over 1000 hits in no time at all!
Dragons' Den is bad PR for business, say experts Read How e-commerce saved our business Read Can Twitter help your business? Read Micro businesses missing out on Internet opportunities Read 10 ways to improve your presentation skills Read
The week ahead has some very exciting content and tips for small businesses looking to make the most of opportunities. Next week (8-14 June) is the inaugural World Trade Week UK and we’re marking the occasion with a series of articles, case studies, blogs and - we hope - reports and interviews through the week. We’ll also be highlighting key events for businesses as the week goes on. Aside from international trade, we’ll have fresh material from Piri Ramazanoglu on how to increase your online sales, from networking expert Heather White on improving your soft skills and from marketing strategist Andrew Gerrard on market segmentation. Don’t forget, if you want to make the most of the Marketing Donut, register with us for full access to all our tools, resources and advice. Marketing Donut Editor, Simon Wicks
Businesses are now increasingly turning to blogging as part of their online strategy and one of the most common types of blog posts you see around is the 'Top tips' advice post. They can be a great way of engaging audiences and demonstrating knowledge in your specific business field.
With the multitude of ’Top tips’ advice around online it was only a matter of time before a post appeared about tips on how to write tips. So without further ado here it is:
Do Your Research – It is important that each tip is well researched and well written. If a Google search on your chosen topic area comes up with some conflicting information you might not end up looking very knowledgeable!
Don’t Repeat The Same Thing – Sounds obvious but sometimes people tend to repeat themselves in these sorts of posts and end not adding much value. Make sure each tip gives something new to the reader.
Have Punchy Clear Titles – People’s attention span on the net is very limited. If you don’t get their attention quickly and engage them then they will be off somewhere else very quickly.
If Possible Use An Illustration – ‘A picture paints a thousand words’ they say and it is true. An illustration of some kind can help convey your point and engage people to your post.
Proof Read Your Post – It sounds obvious but make sure you proof read your post and make sure grammar/ spelling is correct. There is nothing more off-putting than reading a post with loads of mistakes in it. ALSO WRITING IN CAPS LOOKS LIKE YOU’RE SHOUTING!
Be Original – There are some many ‘Top tips’ blog posts and articles out there so make sure the subject area you are choosing is an original one. If you are choosing a common subject area try and come from a different perspective.
‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ is a saying that we have all heard many times before. It is an old Chinese proverb which means that a single image can be far more influential and expressive if crafted and designed properly with a vivid concept behind it.
The symbol, or in this instance, your business logo, conveys the message of a thousand words to customers old and new. This is why businesses whether huge, medium or small, always get their corporate image or logos designed in the best possible manner to create a unique identity in the minds of their existing and potential customers/clients. This is where logo design companies come into play.
I shall focus on logo designs for small business owners as big businesses can afford to spend fortunes on hiring a top notch designer or commandeering a glitzy ad agency to look after their entire marketing and branding regime. The humble small business owner needs to be very prudent in allocating their budget when it comes to having a logo for its business – So online logo design companies are the most appropriate and affordable option for them.
Why logo design companies? A reputable logo design company is:
Fully equipped with a bunch of tried and tested designers.
Remember! You as a small business owner need to make intelligent decisions in order to survive and move up the ladder in this critical economic recession. But that doesn’t mean you should get entrapped by amateur freelancers offering graphic design services at cheap prices. You get for what you pay for in most cases and considering your logo could be someone’s first encounter of your business, trust me you do not want to end up with an awful logo design which will only hurt your business.
Do some research; ask fellow small business owners what approach they took, if there is a logo out there that you like find out the story behind it and when you have your perfect logo, let it speak a thousand words about your business.
Case studies are an important part of many company’s marketing activities. If you’re not providing your prospects with case studies to show your past successes, chances are your competitors are. So write some!
If you’re not a competent or confident writer find someone who is. There are plenty of freelance copywriters and journalists around that you can commission to write for you.
But whether you outsource or go down the DIY route, there are a few things worth remembering.
The job of the case study is to tell the story of how you have helped your customer overcome whatever business problem they have been battling with. Whether you’ve provided a CRM system that allows them to capture leads which can be followed up, or your emarketing expertise has generated a 70% boost to their pipeline, the important thing is how their business has benefitted.
You care passionately about what you do and how you do it. And so you should. But no one else will care as much – they want to know what’s in it for them. So show them.
If I'm writing about a client's customer I always stress to my client that their customer needs to be fully briefed about the process. Nothing is going to scupper your case study quite as effectively as the customer getting cold feet about being involved and that usually only happens if they don’t understand the process and/or what’s expected of them.
OK, that’s not strictly true – there is something that will derail it faster... an unhappy customer. Sadly I can recall several occasions when my scheduled phone interview with the customer turned into me doing a tea and sympathy routine while they ranted along the lines of “trust me, if I told you just how awful it’s been you wouldn’t want my comments to ever appear in writing.”
How long a case study needs to be is a moot point. I used to manage the UK case study programme for Microsoft's Business Solutions division. The typical case study length was 1,800 words. Sadly for some stories that was a bit of a stretch.
However, in recent months I have been writing shorter case studies for another client - around 500 words.
Keeping your word count down is a great way to make you focus on what matters in your story, whereas prescribing 1,800 words as the minimum can lead you to pad something out when the fact is some customer stories may be great but they don't always have the legs for a long write-up. If you have strict rules on word length you end up ignoring some potential stories.
By combining longer & shorter case studies with brief testimonials and customer win stories, you can end up with an impressive body of customer evidence.
You could even add video to your portfolio of customer evidence too. It can have a much bigger impact than the written word, but there’s no getting away from the marked difference in cost. One video case study could cost you the same as 100 written ones – maybe more. In which case you might want to be sure you're going to use it effectively before you sign off on the budget.