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How shoddy service can wreck your small business

June 26, 2014 by Marketing Donut contributor

How shoddy service can wreck your small business{{}}There was a time when businesses could get away with hiding from their customers, particularly when they knew they had done something wrong. Those days are long gone.

Good customer service is more critical than ever and businesses that want to survive and thrive must value their customers and build good relationships with them.

In fact, there are simple ways that small businesses with tight budgets can improve their customer service. Here are some findings from Expert Market UK’s recent customer service study, which found that:

  • 72% of UK customers would ditch their purchase for a competitor if they didn’t get an email reply within one day;
  • British businesses lose 85% of callers if they don’t answer within five minutes or less;
  • 67% of Brits who are hanging on the phone want updates on their place in the queue or time left to wait;
  • Most people still prefer an old-fashioned phone call (50%) or email (44%) to make their complaints, rather than using social media.

The biggest damage occurs when potential customers don’t get the information they need when they first enquire (57%). The other danger point is when a customer has made a complaint but is not satisfied the response (26%).

Phones and email are still the preferred channels in the UK and respondents polled said businesses should focus on increasing their customer service staff (36%), providing contact details (24%) and making sure staff are aware of current policies and promotions (20%).

In fact, complaints can often be turned into wins for small businesses. Always contact customers promptly, using their preferred method. At the same time, make it easy for customers to reach you by displaying contact information clearly.

Victoria Elizabeth is digital asset executive at Expert Market UK.

Why you need some golden nuggets to get press coverage

June 25, 2014 by Amanda Ruiz

Why you need some golden nuggets to get press coverage{{}}You have a fabulous service, brand or product that you, your family and friends and a growing band of customers love — but why can’t you get the press to fall in love with your offering?

You may fall into one of these categories:

  • You don’t know where to start and feel overwhelmed at selling yourself to the press;
  • You have had a lucky break and managed to get one really cool piece of coverage and you don’t know how to get more;
  • You can’t seem to find your USPs — the golden nuggets that can give your news a “hook”.

The feeling of overwhelm can be powerful. But as a business mentor told me at the very beginning of my entrepreneurial journey, you need to do some promotion on your company each and every day. If you aren’t going to do that, then no-one will (unless you pay a PR agent). So go and do what you do best — enthuse about your business to interested parties.

Building on coverage

If you have already had some press coverage by being spotted at an event or via Twitter, you must ensure that you maximise this opportunity as much as possible. Firstly, thank the journalist for their piece — you never know when you may need to speak to them again.

The next step is to politely ask them for the PDF version of the news story. If you can’t get hold of this then buy the publication and include a scan of the piece in a dedicated Press section on your website. You could also add the newspaper or magazine logo to your home page to give you extra credibility. Then share the image or promote a link to the coverage across your social media platforms.

Golden nuggets

When you are in the thick of running your business, you often neglect to articulate your USP. It’s worth asking friends and customers to take part in a focus group to establish what makes your business special. These are the kind of questions you should be discussing:

  • What is your big “why”? What drives you?
  • Why are you so good at what you do?
  • Why are you better than your competition? What makes you stand out?
  • Who is your competition? What do they do that you really admire?
  • What is your mission?
  • What are your major strengths and opportunities?
  • Who is your target audience and why?
  • What do the client testimonials say about you time and time again?
  • What did you do before you launched your company? The press love a good story…

Once you have done this brainstorming, I can guarantee you that some lovely golden nuggets will have appeared. Now use this information to write a simple sentence that describes what your company does. Don’t forget to include your golden nugget. This sentence will then work as your elevator pitch, whether you are selling, networking or pitching to a journalist.

Amanda Ruiz is known as the ultimate door opener. She is the founder of www.amandaruiz.co.uk, a marketing and PR agency.

How to build a brand with words

June 23, 2014 by Marketing Donut contributor

Copywriting{{}}Most of us are pretty clear about the importance of design when brand building, but we are often less sure about which words to choose to bring our brands to life.

But every time you put pen to paper you either engage or disengage your customers. Words matter and brands that tell their stories as well as showing them win hands down. Successful brands like Apple and Volkswagen match the words to the visuals to create a strong voice.

Content marketing and social media

Twitter, instant messaging, texts, online chat — they’re all proof of the power of words. How many times have we heard about people forming long distance relationships online, with only words at their disposal?

And think of how much information we find on the web before purchasing just about anything nowadays. Reviews, descriptions, listings and websites all contribute to our decisions to buy.

So how do you build a brand with words?

  • One way to establish the right tone of voice it to think of your brand as a person — what sort of conversations are they having?
  • Capture your audience’s attention immediately — you have about three seconds for online content and not much longer for offline, so assess your content as if it’s the first time you’ve seen it.
  • Don’t overcomplicate your message — differentiate between things you find interesting and your genuine USPs that will convince customers to buy.
  • Focus on benefits not features. Features have their place but nobody was ever driven to buy a widget because it was only 1cm wide. They were driven to buy it because its slim width is a key advantage.
  • Edit, edit and edit. Revisit and edit again — get the picture? There will be times when your message is muffled by excess wordage. So lose the waffle. Less is more.

Finally, assess your writing capabilities honestly and if writing isn’t your thing, get help. You can keep costs down by doing as much groundwork as possible, putting all the content together in one document. Most copywriters charge by the hour.

Sara Ruber is the director of creative agency Become.

The content conundrum infographic

June 19, 2014 by Marketing Donut contributor


Infographic created by JBH Marketing. Sources - Content Marketing Institute.

Can you incorporate the football into your marketing?

June 18, 2014 by Marketing Donut contributor

Can you incorporate the football into your marketing?/Footballer foot kicking the ball{{}}Unless you’ve been living the life of a hermit for the past few months, you’re bound to be aware of the major international football tournament that began in Brazil this week. Like any other worldwide occasion, this year’s Brazilian sporting event has the attention of everyone on the planet — and with that in mind, provides the perfect marketing opportunity for businesses.

What you may not have realised, however, is the number of pitfalls that companies will have to dodge in order to run a successful marketing campaign that takes full advantage of the world’s attention on Brazil.

Are you wondering why this article is skirting the issue of saying exactly what the event is that we’re talking about? That omission is with good reason. What small businesses may not be aware of is that the football governing body in charge of the tournament has a list of protected terms that are trademarked and therefore should not be used unless you are an official sponsor. While the biggest sporting event of the year is the perfect opportunity to tailor your marketing campaign, you’ll also have to be extremely careful about how exactly you go about it.

Here are the terms that you shouldn’t be using:

  • 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil
  • 2014 FIFA World Cup
  • FIFA World Cup
  • FIFA
  • World Cup
  • 2014 World Cup
  • World Cup 2014
  • Brazil 2014
  • 2014 Brazil
  • Football World Cup
  • Soccer World Cup
  • Copa 2014
  • Copa do Mundo
  • Mundial 2014
  • Mundial de Futebol Brasil 2014
  • Copa do Mundo 2014
  • Host city names + 2014 (such as Rio 2014)

You may well have had a glance over these terms and instantly thought that there is no chance of setting up a successful campaign without being penalised by the governing body.

A tale of two brands

This is far from the case, as two rival brands demonstrate. On one side, you have Adidas — one of the official sponsors for the tournament. The well-known sports clothing brand has recently launched a global advertising campaign, under the name The Dream. It sees football icons like Lionel Messi, Mesut Özil, Robin van Persie and Luis Suárez in the spotlight, with Kanye West providing the beats with a new rap.

On the other side is fellow sports clothing brand Nike. While the company is not an official sponsor of the event, it has managed to avoid all of the governing body’s advertising rules and regulations to create The Last Game. During the animated, five-and-a-half minute clip set in Brazil, fans are sure to recognise such familiar faces as Cristiano Ronaldo, Andrés Iniesta and Brazil’s own Neymar in the commercial.

The only thing that differentiates the commercials is the use of the official terms. And that only becomes apparent when you’re looking for them. And, at the time of writing, it looks as though Nike has already stolen a march on official sponsors Adidas.

It just shows you don’t necessarily need to be endorsed in order to be successful and that the use of the terms isn’t vital to jumping on the football bandwagon.

To further highlight the points made in this article, this entire piece was produced while avoiding all of the protected terms, except for when they were listed in the interest of the reader. Not the easiest of tasks — but definitely possible. And you still knew what we were talking about.

This article was submitted by marketing agency Kommando

How to choose the right exhibition

June 16, 2014 by Richard Edwards

How to choose the right exhibition/ Exhibition sign{{}}Exhibiting at an industry trade show can do wonders for your business — but it can also cost a lot. So how do you choose the right trade show?

1. Assess your objectives

The first step is to list all the reasons for wanting to exhibit. Be specific. “To increase sales” is too vague.

 How exactly will exhibiting help you to boost sales? Here are some common objectives for exhibitors: 

  • Launch a new product
  • Make new contacts
  • Learn about industry developments
  • Interact with your current customers
  • Test out a new product
  • Gather sales leads

 2. Compare the trade shows to your key objectives

 Next you can start to compare the USPs of each show with your business objectives to find the best matches.

 Look at each trade show and try to find out key information from previous years:

  • Size: both footfall and exhibition space.
  • Industry segment. Which area of the industry will the trade show target?
  • Number of exhibitors. How many attended previous events?
  • Competition. Are your competitors likely to attend? If so, how many and which ones?
  • Publicity. Where will the trade show be publicised online and in the media?
  • Respect. How is the trade show rated by customers and your industry peers?

With this information you should be able to score each potential trade show based on how well they meet your key objectives. This will be a bit of a balancing act between cost, likely outcomes and the resources you have available.

3. Balancing the budget

A fundamental question you need to answer is: Can we afford this trade show?

You should have a good idea of your budget, so the best way to get started is to create a list of all possible trade shows and their cost and cross off all those you cannot afford.

In order to meet defined objectives, it is important to make sure you have factored in appropriate costs for each exhibition including: 

  • Exhibition stand and build
  • Marketing materials
  • Staffing
  • Travel

You will also need to think about the costs of other activities like demonstrations, competitions, branding/graphics, advertising and so on.

Once you have factored all of these costs in for each opportunity, plus the ticket cost, you should have a list of affordable trade shows that match your objectives and target market. 

Richard Edwards is the director of exhibition and event specialist Quatreus.

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