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Want to drum up sales? Get exhibiting

January 08, 2014 by Guest Blogger

Want to drum up sales? Get exhibiting/Drum-set with sticks{{}}According to the latest research, 86% of business directors agree that exhibitions are the second most effective means of generating sales leads after a company’s own website.

This finding may surprise you when you consider the array of other alternative channels available to companies. So why are exhibitions still such a successful means of drumming up business?

One reason why every company, regardless of size, should get showy is due to the unique captured target audience you can gain from attending a show. At trade exhibitions you can be certain of reaching a large portion of your target audience.

Meeting customers that want to buy

Most people who make the effort to attend exhibitions up and down the country aren’t there to window shop. If they’re taking the time to visit a particular show then these are real potential customers with real money to spend. The fact that you can access a relevant, filtered audience is the key to trade exhibitions and is a great reason why businesses should exhibit.

Another big gain is brand affinity with your customers. In a world where everybody is connected by computers, brand differentiation often gets lost in translation.

By giving your target audience the chance to physically engage with your brand in an environment that is primarily in your control, you can gain a serious upper hand on your competitors. When done in the right way to suit your brand, this can be a great way to stay in people’s minds.

Even though it can seem an expensive option, in the long term an effective exhibition stand can be a much more economical investment than other ways of trying to reach your audience and it can deliver real results.

It’s definitely worth considering taking the time and effort to get yourself and your business in front of your target audience. Just make sure of a firm handshake at the end of it!

Rick Hewitt is marketing and graphics assistant at Envisage.

Why Twitter beats Facebook when it comes to marketing your business

January 07, 2014 by Veronica Pullen

Why Twitter beats Facebook when it comes to marketing your business/twitter bird{{Image credit: mkhmarketing on Flickr}}Recently I’ve been hearing lots of people saying that Facebook has become their preferred choice of social network for promoting their business. Lots of people seem to be making use of Facebook, but are reluctant to start using Twitter or feel it’s not the right social network for them.

So I thought I would share my top four reasons why Twitter is better than Facebook for marketing your business, to give you the inspiration to start using Twitter, or to re-ignite your passion if you’ve started feeling a bit “meh” about it recently.

So, in no particular order:

Image credit: mkhmarketing on Flickr.

1. It’s fast moving

Now I know to the newbie Twitter user, the first time you realise just how fast moving it is, you can feel a bit like you’ve suddenly found yourself at Victoria Station at 8am on a weekday!

But the pace of Twitter opens up plenty of opportunities for you to get in front of your ideal clients.

Because it moves so quickly, most people don’t screen what they tweet in the way they do when posting on Facebook. Twitter users are much more likely to “brain dump” into a tweet — which means you get access to lots more detail on people than you ever will on Facebook.

On Twitter you’re more likely to post the minutiae about your day; the train is delayed, the fact that you stopped for coffee en route, your immediate thoughts after the meeting, the quick whizz around the shops, the people on the train and so on.

So think about what your ideal client might be tweeting about during their day — and search for it on Twitter. They’re right there.

2. It’s easier to learn

It is actually miles easier to learn how to use Twitter than it is Facebook.

The reason is that Facebook changes the blooming rules every other day; so just when you think you know what you’re doing, it all changes.

I can only think of two changes Twitter has made in the past six months, and one of those was about the way you report (and they deal with) abusive tweets. The other was the introduction of a new feature that allows you to accept direct messages from anyone who follows you — regardless of whether you follow them.

Both of those changes will make very little difference to how the majority of us use Twitter.

Conversely, Facebook have made about 98,516 changes to their platform in the last month — slight exaggeration but something changes in Facebook at least once a week. Grrr!

3. Your prospects can find you easily

This week we’ve needed to find three types of businesses, and as we’re new to the Isle of Wight, we don’t have many contacts in the offline world. So instead of faffing around skimming through the Yellow Pages, Google etc, we decided to do what any Twitter fan would do — we waited for the IOW Twitter Chat.

So on Monday night , we hit #WightHour to look for the people we needed. By 9.30pm, we had sourced an electrician, IT person, and a cleaning company. Job done, easy.

Are you participating in your local Twitter Chat? Or in all the Twitter chats your ideal clients are? If not, you’re very likely losing business.

4. You don’t have to wait for conversations

I like to compare the social media world to a shopping mall; Facebook is the shops around the edge of the mall where they set out their window display, then have to wait for customers to come inside.

Twitter is the row of stands that sit down the aisles of the mall. The advantage the stands have over the shops is that they are right in the middle of the crowds of shoppers. So they can easily move into the crowds and talk to people to get their attention.

And that’s exactly what you can do on Twitter. You don’t have to wait for people to come and find your page; you can get yourself into the crowd and initiate conversations yourself. Who do you want to tweet with? Just do it.

Veronica Pullen is a social media expert and small business coach. She is the author of the free ebook, Unlock the 3 Best Kept Secrets to Skyrocket your Sales from Twitter.

Why you need to get real when it comes to visual content

January 06, 2014 by Guest Blogger

Why you need to get real when it comes to visual content/media player button icons{{}}A one-minute video can convey as much information as 1.8 million words — that’s according to a study by Forrester Research. Big brands recognise this and are increasingly running image-led campaigns to increase awareness and generate sales.

But what are the best ways for small businesses to harness the power of images and why are pictures so powerful?

Images can tell a story succinctly, keeping the viewer’s attention because they convey emotions. Images are also extremely shareable, giving businesses the chance to reach a wider audience.

No more stale stock shots

Traditionally, brands have sourced images of “customers” by buying professional or stock photos, however stock photo libraries can feel stale or staged and images are often over-used. Brands today need real images that their customers will connect with, such as those shared daily on social networks.

Social media platforms are powerful tools to connect your brand with your community to co-create visual content. You might not have the budget to create all-star image campaigns but there are numerous ways that small businesses can echo big brands’ success without breaking the bank.

Social sharing

Build your community on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to engage customers by sharing photos that may interest them. For example, an events consultancy could share photos of events they have organised; highlighting their expertise whilst offering expert opinions on food and drink.

You can also crowdsource images from your customers and members of the public. By using “real” photo and video content produced by the public in your marketing, your campaigns will truly reflect your customers, and in turn, your brand. Letting them get involved in co-creating your content is highly valuable because it creates a bond, making your customers more loyal to your brand.

Through image-led engagement, small businesses can raise awareness, building a community and driving sales and brand loyalty as a result. The social tools available mean that it’s easy to get started quickly, and without spending a fortune — so what’s stopping you? Snap to it.

Petri Rahja is CEO of Scoopshot.

How to become the go-to stand at an exhibition

January 02, 2014 by Guest Blogger

How to become the go-to stand at an exhibition/moving crowd{{}}Exhibitions are a brilliant way of getting your brand under the nose of industry movers and shakers. But they can also be very expensive and hard work. Exhibiting at a trade fair can take a huge chunk out of your company’s marketing budget and it’s important to make sure the investment is well used.

For me, the stands that I am attracted to and that I remember after an event are those with a clear offer. It might be because they are clearly showing, through their banners or literature, that they deal in something that my company needs, either now or in the future.

But suppose you’re exhibiting at a trade fair where there are lots of companies who do exactly what you do. You have to compete with them for the attention of as many attendees as possible. There are several ways you can entice attendees to engage with your stand rather than that of a rival.

Dare to be different

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box — novelty sells! Fancy dress and themes can be great ideas. At one exhibition I attended, I came across a stand for a company that sold office cleaning products and services and the staff were dressed as fairies — even the men! It drew a lot of attention and they were busy all day long. This sort of thing may not be to everyone’s taste but if you can find an angle, it really can work for the right company.

Creating a buzz and atmosphere is a big draw too. Get some interactive games going, and have a leader board with prizes for the top scorers. There’s nothing like a bit of competition to pique the interest of company executives!

Make people comfortable

And what works for us? Comfy chairs. Exhibitions are tiring and attendees appreciate the rest while we’re bending their ears about our products. Not many stalls provide them for fear of slowing down attendee turnover, but the longer you can keep people on the stand, the more chance you have of making that sale.

Finally, don’t underestimate the draw of sweets and giveaways. All kinds of exhibition-savvy visitors will make a detour if they get word of a decent freebie!

Good luck.

Jo Morris is director at Rio Lounge, an exhibition furniture hire company.

Happy Christmas from Marketing Donut

December 19, 2013 by Rachel Miller

Happy Christmas from Marketing Donut/christmas ornament{{}}2013 has been a game-changing year as we’ve seen real signs of economic recovery and the continuing evolution of exciting online opportunities, including multi-channel marketing, crowd-funding and social sharing.

In some ways, it has never been easier to start a new business. But challenges remain, especially as many small business owners now seek to grow their enterprises and take advantage of new opportunities.

Here at Marketing Donut, we are focused on bringing you the latest news, views and advice to help you with everything from day-to-day decision making to long-term strategic planning.

This year our ever-popular blogs have covered the full gamut of marketing issues affecting every small business — from customer service to content marketing. We’d like to say a warm thank you to all our experts and guest contributors that have shared their wisdom and experience so generously.

We’d also like to say a big thank you to you — all the hard-working entrepreneurs and small business owners out there — for visiting us throughout 2013 and for sharing our content with the wider world.

Here are some of the highlights from our blogs in 2013:

Sara Drawwater: Lessons from a secret millionaire

Rupert Staines: Nine simple ways to make your hashtags work

Robert Craven: Has your business got 'five-year-old-itis'?

Sharon Tanton: Five ways to miss the content marketing bus

Rachel Miller: Four lessons David Bowie can teach us about marketing

Grant Leboff: Dumb marketing question #1 - does social media work?

Andy Preston: Seven things to do before you send a proposal to a client

Mike Southon: Customer care lessons from a fish and chip business

Rory MccGwire: A brief history of SEO — and why Google is doing us all a favour

Andy Bounds: Improve your customer communication in 20 seconds

Luan Wise: Seven useful things your LinkedIn homepage can tell you

Sarah Orchard: Just how much is a Facebook Like really worth?

We’re taking a short festive break but we’ll be back with more top tips and valuable resources next year. Happy Christmas and see you in 2014!

The Marketing Donut team

Six ways to maximise landing page conversions

December 18, 2013 by Guest Blogger

Six ways to maximise landing page conversions/airplane landing{{}}A landing page is the heart of your online marketing campaign, capable of driving leads down your conversion funnel in a matter of seconds. So how do you create a first impression that’s both persuasive and consistent with your brand?

Here are six steps to help you maximise landing page conversions:

1. Write a benefit-driven headline

Tap into your visitors’ pain points and use the headline to offer your unique value proposition. The most memorable headlines demonstrate how the reader will benefit in a creative way that lets your brand personality shine.

2. Focus on one compelling offer

Writing copy for your landing pages is like telling a succinct story: people need to be able to get it almost immediately. Cut out all the clutter and focus your messaging on a single objective.

3. Create a strong call to action

A well-crafted call to action (CTA) can make all the difference when it comes to conversion. Make sure your page presents just one specific call to action. You can think of the CTA as a response to your headline, describing how users will benefit if they click through.

4. Prioritise content in your layout

Have you heard of the eight-second rule? It’s a marketing principle that you have eight seconds (sometimes fewer) to convince a visitor to stay on your site. So put the key information above the fold (top of the page), including your value proposition, logo and call to action.

5. Add a short video

A video can really add impact. Create an informational video of around 30-60 seconds and let your visitors know the running time up front. Place a call to action beside the video and remember to publish it on a sharing site like YouTube.

6. A/B test

Get the most out of your landing page by continuously testing and optimising different factors. Target the low-hanging fruit first. CTAs and images are easy to swap and often have a huge impact on conversion.

Lauren Gard is PR manager at 99 designs. These tips are taken from the free ebook, Landing Page Design that Sells.

You can read more about landing age optimisation in this guide by James Gurd.

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