I recently had a meeting with a financial adviser who belongs to the same local networking group as I do. We were having coffee and getting to know each other, and when we started discussing social media for business, I said: “Don’t even try to sell on social media; it doesn’t work”.
He looked at me and I am sure he was thinking “If I am not selling my products and services, then why bother with social media.” I know this sounds strange but product and service sales rarely happens directly from social media. Don’t switch off, keep reading…
Have you been posting on Facebook for some time about your business and are currently getting no likes or comments? Those posts probably contain wording such as buy today or buy one and get one half price. The reason you are getting no likes is because people are happy to buy when they find something that meets their need, but they do not like being sold to. Think about yourself when you’re in a shop… the sales person comes up to you and asks if you need anything? Your response is “No I’m just browsing” and you can’t get out of the shop quick enough.
What we also know is that social media can be a powerful tool for your business, if you use it correctly. Let me explain…
1. Help people — Instead of thinking about selling your product or service to someone, think about helping them buy. Many people go to Facebook and/or Google searching for information about what you do. After searching Google for possible options, many people will then go to Facebook and post a status such as “looking for recommendations”. If your profile is set up to lead people to your business page, you can lead people to your business simply by responding to their post.
2. Getting Social — Even though you are in business it’s OK to get social! What you are doing here is building awareness around what you do and who you are! Facebook made the big algorithm change last year so they prioritize “people” posts over “business” posts? People are on Facebook and other social media platforms to connect with others. It is OK to get personal! I love dogs and holidays and so I share images of me out walking my dog or lovely pictures of somewhere I’ve visited. So I have lots of conversations around dogs and holidays. In the background my social profile is still available to view and I’ve attracted fans because they are interested in my content and some have eventually become clients.
3. Entertaining — Make your fans or followers want to come back for more! This can be anything from posting a funny GIF to a viral video - mine are usually related to my dog or puppies! I have started to share these to my pages simply to entertain my audience. Life isn’t all about work - Your potential customers don’t think about work or shopping all the time! Maybe they are on Twitter that day looking for some entertaining posts. Posting an inspiring quote, a cute puppy video or a funny ski video can be exactly what they are looking for. Again, your posts continue to link to your business account and so you are indirectly making them aware you exist without directly selling to them.
These are just 3 ways you can use social media to build awareness about you and your business, particularly if you are a service business. When using these techniques ensure you apply the 80/20 rule when posting about your business. For every 4 posts helping, entertaining and educating, you can mention or recommend your product or service in context.
So with all the above said, why use social media at all for business?
At the end of my conversation with the financial adviser, he asked me how then I could measure the ROI of social media. How can he “track how well his posts are working” in reaching new clients? This is a whole new post relating to data and I'll explain more another time.
In simple terms, this is where the strategy bit comes in! I’ve already said that selling rarely happens directly from your social media platforms. That’s because you need to combine your social media marketing with email marketing and your website!
#DidYouKnow Surveys show that email has a median ROI of 122% — over 4 x higher than other marketing formats including social media, direct mail, and paid search. Therefore when you focus on taking your fans and followers off of social and into email leads, you can grow your list, nurture that list, make offers and turn leads into clients!
Good luck with your online marketing! Need help – just get in touch with SunflowerVA today!
WHO IS YOUR PERFECT CUSTOMER?
Do you run a B2B company? In other words, is your product or service more suited to other business owners as opposed to consumers?
Have you already linked up with them on LinkedIn?
When were you last in touch with them?
If you are not sure about any of the above, we will help you paint a picture of who your ideal customer is. You’ll likely have other types of customers, but focus on the ones that you enjoy serving, and who you want more of and then our 3 stage connection building process will help you link up with them by using a tried and tested process that works.
We are running a Workshop on 8th November from 10 – 12 noon at Jubilee House which will explain how to get the best out of LinkedIn and how to effectively reconnect with your connections.
This workshop is being offered at the introductory price is £59 p/p inclusive of VAT. To book just click here
School Holidays for many working parents means taking time off work to spend it with your family, others will be trying to organise school holiday childcare.
For small businesses owners and particularly the self-employed, trying to manage the school holidays can be a difficult time as you are trying to manage your business whilst making yourself available for your family.
Our tops tips will allow you to get the right work life balance, allowing you to spend time with your family over the holidays whilst being aware of what needs to be done in terms of your work.
Our 5 Top Tips:
If you need help in managing or moving forward your online marketing over the summer holidays then get in touch with SunflowerVA – your Virtual Marketing Assistant.
So you have decided to start a new business, you have done your market research and now you are ready to build your new website.
Before you start these are the things you need to consider
You have identified your target audience and so will you use the website to:
Remember, what you want your website to accomplish and what will your visitors require from your new website may differ. You may be concerned about the visual aspect of your site and your visitors may just want to find information quickly.
Consider the content you will need to support the objectives of your site and how you feel it should be best presented. Look at your competitors sites and get a feel for what looks and works best.
Put yourself in your customers shoes! Try to understand what will make them want to visit your website and what will encourage them to return. You need to make your customer’s journey effective and efficient.
There is some information you must display on your website as a minimum. All companies in the UK must clearly state the company registration number, place of registration, registered office address. A common place to put this information is in the 'About us' or 'Legal info' page of the site - it does not have to appear on every page.
Planning Your Website
Before you decide on which platform to build your website, start with a blank piece of paper and create a diagram or wireframe to show the structure of your website. This diagram should include the content, navigation and layout of the web pages. You can use drawing packages such as Word, Powerpoint or Illustrator to create your wireframe which will allow you to amend them as your vision develops.
Once you have created your wireframe show it to friends or customers who are a representative of your intended audience and get their feedback. Their comments can then be quickly added into your wireframe which will then form the template for your new website.
Technical website design considerations
There are several technical issues to consider when designing your website.
You will have to design webpages that can be displayed by many different browsers. Common browsers include Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari and Google Chrome. If you use a pre-designed website template you may find that they have already been tested on these web browsers.
Not all internet users have high speed access, so connection speed should also influence your webpage design.
Too many images or rich media (such as video or audio) will slow down the speed at which your webpage loads. Generally, pages should load within eight seconds or less to keep the attention of your visitor. If your pages download slowly, your users will probably move on to another site. Slow download speeds may also impact negatively on your search engine ranking.
The Equality Act 2010 makes it illegal for a website provider to discriminate against a disabled person by refusing to provide a service that is generally available, providing a service of a lower standard, or failing to comply with a duty to make reasonable adjustments.
Making websites accessible
There are many adjustments you can make to your website to make it easier for disabled people to use. For example, your web designer should attach a text description to every image and link on the site. This means that blind users, who rely on a browser that reads out the contents of the webpage, can hear a description of what an image is and where a link will take them.
Designing your website
When designing your website, plan a theme and structure that will hold all the pages together. Many of the FREE website builders provide templates to allow you to continue your chosen brand throughout your website.
Create a common theme of colours, fonts, graphics and page layouts. Simplicity and consistency in your visual design can be the most effective way of presenting your online brand.
Plan to create a unified look for the various sections and pages of your site, so that the users are aware that they are moving around within a single site as they move from page to page. Use templates to create a common page layout across your site.
Don't be afraid to use white space or blank areas in your webpage design. Good use of white space can help define areas of your page and can be used to structure and separate content. A lack of white space can give the impression that the page has too much content and this may encourage your website visitors to log off your website.
You will have already developed your brand or image and so ensure this is incorporated into your website design.
Hierarchy of information
Don't make users navigate through too many layers of the site to find the information they want. A standard navigation bar that is in the same place on every page enables the user to move quickly through the site. Again, many website templates allow for a menu bar to be shown across the top of each page.
Optimise Your Website
Once your website is live, you should continue to optimise it and it make it more accessible to search engines such as Google. This SEO Best Practice document from Weebly provides top tips on how to improve your SEO.
Finally, if you are in the process of setting up your own business and you need help in building a Weebly Website please get in touch with Sunflower VA today.
On 25 May 2018, the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will apply to all businesses including SME’s.
Many smaller businesses have said: “we will wait and see what happens post Brexit.” If the Government decides not to implement GDPR rules post Brexit then EU businesses will still need to be compliant with the GDPR for at least ten months. However, it is highly likely that the Government will implement equivalent GDPR rules post-Brexit.
The GDPR is designed to help safeguard data protection rights for individuals and it introduced a set of rules across the EU stipulating how organisations should handle data relating to individuals. So, if your business holds personal information such as names, addresses, customer lists or HR records you need to be compliant with certain requirements of GDPR.
As an SME you may be exempt from some of the more rigorous steps, eg. the need to appoint a data protection officer. As a SME, if you are able to demonstrate that you have a GDPR compliant data protection clause in place you may find yourself at a competitive advantage over your peers when it comes to tendering for new business.
There are several simple steps that you need to consider to make sure you are compliant by 25 May 2018. The key points being:
Know what data you hold, where it is coming from and what you plan to do with it. It is important that you understand and record what ‘personal data’ you hold as a business, how it was captured, how it is held, how you use it, and where it is going.
As I create e-newsletters for my clients I am really concerned about consent. Are you relying on consent? The definition of consent has been tightened so that it must be ‘unambiguous’ when given.
If you are using consent you will need to get it retrospectively for existing customers. Requests for consent will also have to be presented in a manner that is completely separate, so they can no longer be hidden within other policies or small print on your website. Where you are relying on consent to process ‘personal data’, being able to prove how you obtained it will be vital.
Right of data access. Individuals will have a number of rights when it comes to how you look after their ‘personal data’. Make sure you have appropriate processes and templates in place so that the data subject rights can be met within the new time scales.
Know what constitutes a personal data breach. You should try to develop and encourage a culture where your employees feel comfortable in self-reporting when they have made innocent mistakes, such as sending an email to the wrong person - the root cause of the vast majority of data breaches.
Review terms and conditions and supplier contracts. Where a contract involves personal data, it is essential to analyse the relationship between the parties.
Conduct due diligence on any suppliers that process ‘personal data’ on your behalf or jointly or in common with you to make sure that there are adequate protections in place to cater for the GDPR. This could be by either asking them to complete a due diligence form to capture what measures they have in place (which should then be reviewed to make sure that they are sufficient) or by conducting an on-site audit.
Where your suppliers (as processors) are processing ‘personal data’ on your behalf (as a controller) you have an obligation to update your contracts with them to ensure that “processors” are contractually obliged to provide GDPR compliant data protection standards. It is worth noting that if you act as a processor for other companies, they will be looking to amend your contract with them on the same basis, and new customers will increasingly focus on this.
Understand whether you need to appoint a data protection officer (DPO) if your core activities involve ‘large-scale’ monitoring or processing of sensitive personal data.
WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF YOU FAILING TO COMPLY WITH GDPR?
The fines for non-compliance Failure to comply with the GDPR could be up to 4% of a company’s global turnover (for the preceding financial year) or €20 million (whichever is the higher) Although many small businesses believe it won’t apply to them, the ICO has already demonstrated their willingness to impose financial penalties against SMEs, although they will be considering the business’s ability to continue trading following any financial penalty.
WHERE CAN SME’S GET ADDITIONAL HELP/SUPPORT?
While compliance with the GDPR may seem labour intensive, it will ultimately exist to make sure that you are able to best protect your customer’s personal data. If you fail to protect personal data there can be a massive detrimental impact on the reputation of your business. So, compliance with the GDPR and the protection of customer’s personal data is in the best interests of your business and in the protection of your hard-earned reputation.
There are so many resources available to help you make sure you are compliant with GDPR by 25 May 2018. However, The Information Commissioner (ICO) has prepared a Data Protection Self Assessment Tool Kit for SME’s. You can use the ICO’s Checklists to assess your compliance with data protection law and find out what you need to do to make sure you are keeping people’s personal data secure. Once you have completed each self assessment checklist a short report will be created suggesting practical actions you can take and providing links to additional guidance you could read that will help you improve your data protection compliance.
Finally, I am not a GDPR specialist – I am just aware that I need to put processes in place to ensure that the personal data I hold follows GDPR guidelines. If you need advice on GDPR then I suggest you get in touch with Sally Stanier of PIM Consultancy, who has provided me with invaluable advice on data protection issues.
How I can help you
I can help you stay in touch with your clients who have “opted-in” by creating professional e-newsletters! Need help – then please get in touch.